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HEATHER WATSON D. LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: NEW BLOOD, SWEAT, TEARS AND CHEERS

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HEATHER WATSON D. LEYLAH FERNANDEZ: NEW BLOOD, SWEAT, TEARS AND CHEERS

The Brit needed 10 match points to defeat the 17-year-old Canadian, who played one of the matches of the weekend in defeat.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal each won yet another ATP title on Saturday, while at the WTA’s Doha stop, Aryna Sabalenka defeated two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova to win her sixth title in her last seven finals. It was a big day for the game’s big names.

LEYLAH FERNANDEZ

But it was also a big day for a forgotten name, Heather Watson, and a new one, Leylah Fernandez. They tangled for the title at the WTA’s other stop, in Acapulco, and they gave us by far the most competitive set of tennis this weekend.

Watson, who has never climbed higher than No. 38 in the world rankings, came into the match having won three WTA titles, but none since 2016, in Monterrey, Mexico. She took the first set, 6-4, over her 17-year-old opponent who was playing in her first tour final.

Heather Watson d. Leylah Fernandez: New blood, sweat, tears and cheers
Heather Watson d. Leylah Fernandez: New blood, sweat, tears and cheers

© Getty Images

Getty Images

The 17-year-old, however, had reached her first final in spectacular fashion, not losing a set in six matches, including two qualifiers. Before the tournament, she was ranked 190th in the world, hadn’t won a main-draw match at the WTA level in 2020, and had an N/A under her height, age and birthplace on the tour’s website.

Leylah Fernandez

Fernandez was also missing a headshot, so here’s a picture of her, along with her extreme forehand grip:

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Heather Watson d. Leylah Fernandez: New blood, sweat, tears and cheers
Heather Watson d. Leylah Fernandez: New blood, sweat, tears and cheers

© Getty Images

That forehand was essential to making the second set into the marathon it would become. Fernandez settled down and earned two set points while returning at 5-4. Watson would save both, and then be forced to do the same in her next service game. But again, Watson was up to the task, and the match headed to a tiebreak.

Watson’s resilience appeared to have been rewarded when she earned four championship points at 6-2 in the tiebreak. What happened next is why you’ll be seeing more photos of Fernandez for years to come.

From the WTA website’s report on the match:

However, Fernandez chipped away at that lead, drawing errors from the Brit, and the Canadian saved all four match points. A fifth set point and a fifth match point, respectively, came and went as the tiebreak hit 8-8. At last, Fernandez claimed a sixth set point at 9-8 with a divine backhand winner into the corner, and she stunningly converted the set after a Watson forehand went long.

“It was heartbreaking losing the second set,” Watson admitted. “But I also reminded myself that I also saved a lot of set points before that. It was so close, both of us had our chances.”

Heather Watson d. Leylah Fernandez: New blood, sweat, tears and cheers
Heather Watson d. Leylah Fernandez: New blood, sweat, tears and cheers

Leylah Fernandez

© AFP via Getty Images

Watson had played Fernandez twice before, so while seeing her opponent’s best tennis wasn’t new, this circumstance surely was. Five match-point misses? Those are hard to leave behind. Watson lauded Fernandez’s mental toughness after the match, but she could have said the same about herself.

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Why? Well, it took ten championship points to get the job done. Fernandez incredibly saved four more, giving everything she had, and probably much she didn’t know she had.

Heather Watson d. Leylah Fernandez: New blood, sweat, tears and cheers
Heather Watson d. Leylah Fernandez: New blood, sweat, tears and cheers

Leylah Fernandez and Ronaldo

© Getty Images

For all Fernandez had done, though, she was always fighting from behind. Watson continually stayed ahead, and kept earning more shots at ending the match. Finally, at 5-1, she won the final set and her fourth career WTA title, on this point:

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PGA Championship betting: A Tiger Woods win would be the worst loss ever for BetMGM

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A Tiger Woods win at the PGA Championship would be one of the biggest victories in golf history. And it would be historically bad for BetMGM.

Woods enters the 2022 PGA at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa at +6600 to win. He’s tied for the 20th-best odds in the field and is the biggest liability for the sportsbook. Simply put, BetMGM says it’ll lose the most money it ever has on a single event if Woods wins his 16th major.

“If Tiger were to win, it would be the biggest losing result in BetMGM history,” BetMGM’s Jason Scott said. “Tiger missing the cut would be a good outcome for the sportsbook.”

Scott’s statement is further proof of the hold that Woods has on the golf world. He’s still one of the most popular figures in sports and there are a lot of bettors wagering with their hearts this weekend as Woods chases Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus reveals he shunned $100 million offer from LIV  Golf: 'I helped start the PGA Tour' - CBSSports.com

The PGA is Woods’ second tournament after his 2021 car crash. Woods made his return to competitive golf at the Masters in April and wore down as the week went on as he was still hobbled by his surgically repaired right leg. Woods had sustained an open fracture and multiple broken bones in his right leg during the crash in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on Feb. 23, 2021.

TULSA, OK - MAY 16: Tiger Woods on the 13th hole during a practice round for the 2022 PGA Championship at the Southern Hills on May 16, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America)
Tiger Woods on the 13th hole during a practice round for the 2022 PGA Championship at the Southern Hills on Monday. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America)

Woods made the cut at the Masters after he was 1-over through the first two rounds. He shot a 6-over 78 on each of the last two days of the tournament.

Woods has spent the time between the Masters and PGA rehabbing and practicing to be stronger this weekend as he returns to the site of his 2007 PGA Championship win. Woods won the last major held at Southern Hills as he finished two shots ahead of Woody Austin 15 years ago.

Given the amount of money that has been bet on Woods so far, it’s safe to say his odds are inflated due to his stature as the biggest name in golf. He has the same odds as two-time 2022 winner Max Homa and better odds to win the tournament than the likes of Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tommy Fleetwood, Billy Horschel and Jason Day.

Woods is -125 to make the cut at the PGA Championship and +100 to miss the cut. He was at +115 to miss the cut earlier in the week but a bettor dropped those odds with a $13,000 wager on a missed cut for Woods. As of Tuesday, 58% of bets and a staggering 97% of the handle on Tiger’s cut result is on him missing the weekend.

 

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Steph Curry on Making Family Movies: ‘I Don’t Mind Being Called Corny’

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NBA all-star guard Stephen Curry revealed a few more details about his Sony deal in a new interview with Variety, saying it will produce family-friendly content and that he doesn’t care if people view him as “corny.”

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Maria Sharapova speaks about why she called Rafael Nadal the GOAT

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A couple of weeks ago or so Maria Sharapova had a hit session with Rafael Nadal. The Russian posted a video saying that the Spaniard was the greatest player of all time. Now she reflected on it and said: ‘I think it’s pretty remarkable what he’s done in his career.

Maria Sharapova speaks about why she called Rafael Nadal the GOAT

I think when you get to a certain point, you know, those numbers, I mean, there are a lot of people that can be considered greatest of all time, right? I don’t know if, when you’re that successful, if it’s even fair to measure them in numbers, because you don’t want to take anything away from somebody else that’s achieved maybe just as much or maybe even more or a little bit less. Yeah, I have a lot of admiration for him.

Rafael Nadal pays tribute to Maria Sharapova

I have loved the spirit that he carries on with, you know, the focus. You know, it goes back to kind of the fire question. I think he only knows how to go at 100%. If you look at the practice schedule, I mean, he’s out there for — he won two events, and in Rome, he’s practicing for three hours a day, he knows that that’s what works for him and he’s going to deliver that no matter his age, no matter the injuries, he shows up.

Rafael Nadal Fans on Twitter: "PHOTOS: Rafa Nadal & Maria Sharapova during  the doubles at Nike's 'NYC Street Tennis' event → http://t.co/NCP3KuD1nU.  http://t.co/eTjOPjwYSf" / Twitter

That’s incredibly admirable, because the older you get in this sport, the more physical it is, tougher it is on the body. We know that. Of course I admire not just him but there are many players that I admire on that level.’

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Novak Djokovic reveals why he is a great fan of Maria Sharapova

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The WTA classified Maria Sharapova as the World’s number one singles on five different occasions, for a total of 21 weeks, becoming the first Russian-born tennis player in history to reach that milestone. She became number one for the first time at 18 on 22 August 2005 and for the last time in July 2012.

She has received the ESPY Award for best tennis player five times (2005, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2014). The Russian has won five Grand Slam tournaments (including two in Paris) and is one of the ten female players in history to have completed the Career Grand Slam (together with Maureen Connolly, Doris Hart, Shirley Fry, Margaret Smith Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navrátilová, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams), a milestone reached on June 9, 2012 with the victory of her first Roland Garros.

Novak Djokovic reveals why he is a great fan of Maria Sharapova

In her career, she has won a total of 36 singles tournaments, including the WTA Finals in 2004 and 12 Premier category tournaments. According to Forbes, she has been named highest-paid female athlete in the world for 11 consecutive years and earned US$285 million (including prize money) since she turned pro in 2001.

In 2018, she launched a new programme to mentor women entrepreneurs. During a recent Live chat, World number 1 Novak Djokovic admitted being a great fan of this aspect of her personality. “I was always amazed with the level of intensity that you bring out in the court.

Novak Djokovic feels for Maria Sharapova in wake of drugs admission |  Tennis News | Sky Sports

Not just on the court, but also off the court. We’ve known each other now for a while, I mean 15 years and I know I don’t wanna say the “Real Maria” but I know the Other Maria that most of the people don’t see on the court or off the court within the premises of tennis facilities.

Once you step on to the tennis club, it’s game face on, that’s it” – the 17-time Grand Slam champion explained.

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Rafael Nadal compared to a horse as injury fears shut down ahead of French Open

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RAFAEL NADAL will be hoping to win the French Open yet again this year.

Rafael Nadal’s injury record isn’t a cause of concern for Mats Wilander as the French Open creeps closer. The Spaniard will be aiming to win a 22nd Grand Slam of his career when the tournament starts on May 22. And he’ll have to be at his best amid competition from some of the best players on the planet.

“No, not at all. Rafa’s career is like that,” Wilander told Marca when asked if he was worried about the Spaniard.

Rafael Nadal French Open tennis news

Rafael Nadal has been compared to a horse ahead of the French Open (Image: GETTY)

“I always compare Rafa to a horse: he will run as fast as he can and fight. His effort has no limits, his limit is injuries.

“He will continue until an injury does not allow him to play anymore.

“The reality is that he has learned to come back from injuries and he always comes back. You always see something different in him when he’s back.

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“One day he won’t be able to come back. He hinted that he might not be able to last year and the results have proven him wrong.

“It is true that he could feel injured in Rome, but he knows how to preserve his physique to give himself a chance at Roland Garros.”

Wilander does think, however, that Carlos Alcaraz will pose a threat to Nadal’s chances of Grand Slam glory.

The 19-year-old has been in stunning form of late and, at the start of the month, beat Alexander Zverev to win the Madrid Open.

And Wilander thinks he’s ready to make a big impact in France, saying: “I never saw someone with his way of acting and his freshness.

“He is relaxed on court, the opposite feeling when you see Nadal on court, he never seems to be relaxed and that he has the best attitude I have ever seen.

“I love how he acts, it is very important for tennis that there is a player who seems to be enjoying himself so much, who likes to compete so much and who hates losing.

Rafael Nadal French Open tennis news

“It’s like the example to follow: I don’t want you to be like Nadal, like Federer or Djokovic, I want you to be like Alcaraz because he has everything.”

Former tennis player Alex Corretja, meanwhile, thinks Nadal is entering the tournament with a ‘question mark’ hanging over him.

“It will be decided by whether Djokovic and Nadal will keep their consistency or whether Alcaraz’s enthusiasm will come to the fore,” he said.

“That is the only thing that should be ‘unpacked’ in the coming weeks.

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Rafael Nadal French Open tennis news

Rafael Nadal faces competition from Carlos Alcaraz when it comes to French Open glory (Image: GETTY)

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