Thiem 1st since 1949 to win US Open after ceding 1st 2 sets

September 14, 2020


New York, Sept 14: A U.S. Open unlike any other finished unlike any other with an unprecedented fifth-set tiebreaker as Dominic Thiem became the first man in 71 years to win the final after dropping the opening two sets.

So close to defeat in a nearly empty Arthur Ashe Stadium fans were banned because of the coronavirus pandemic Thiem slowly but surely turned things around against a faltering Alexander Zverev and pulled out a 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory at Flushing Meadows for his first Grand Slam title.

The match ended with both men fighting leg cramps and, clearly, nerves.

Somehow, said Thiem, a 27-year-old from Austria, the belief today was stronger than the body, and I'm super happy about that.

When a backhand from Zverev landed wide on the third championship point, a weary Thiem dropped to his back way behind the baseline and covered his face with his hands.

When he arose, he was met by Zverev, who walked around the net to clasp hands, then embrace his friend and foe, two sights rarely seen in this era of social distancing.

Thiem then rested his head on the shoulder of the taller Zverev, who himself came within two points of what would have been his first major triumph.

I wish we could have two winners today, Thiem said. I think we both deserved it.

He is the first man to win the American Grand Slam tournament after trailing 2-0 in sets in the final since Pancho Gonzalez did it against Ted Schroeder in 1949 at an event then known as the U.S. Championships and held in Forest Hills.

The event never had been settled by a fifth-set tiebreaker; no major tournament ever had until Novak Djokovic edged Roger Federer that way at Wimbledon in 2019.

I was a few games away, a few points away," said Zverev, who was trying to give Germany its first male Grand Slam champion since Boris Becker in the 1990s.

I'm 23 years old. I don't think it's my last chance. Zverev choked up when he mentioned that his parents hadn't been able to travel to New York because they tested positive for COVID-19, although he said they are now healthy.

As Thiem stepped forward to pose for pictures with his shiny new bit of hardware, Zverev remained a few feet behind, one hand clutching his less-impressive silver tray, the other hand on a hip.

The proceedings took 4 hours, 2 minutes. And to think: After just 1 1/2 hours, Zverev was up by two sets and a break in the third at 2-1.

The match turned when he broke me for the first time in the third set, Zverev said.

He started playing much better, and I started playing much worse. Zverev, of all people, should have known what might have seemed like an impossible hill to climb for Thiem was, indeed, achievable. After all, in Thursday's semifinals, it was Zverev who trailed 2-0 in sets against Pablo Carre o Busta before coming back to win.

Thiem began the day 0-3 in Grand Slam finals, but always faced a member of the Big Three of men's tennis in those others. This time, he was the favorite and came out jittery, but eventually worked his way out of that, while Zverev went from cool and confident to passive and pushed around.

The fifth set was just as back-and-forth as the other four, the mistakes rising with the tension and the history in the offing.

Thiem broke in the opening game when Zverev shanked a pair of forehands. Zverev broke right back and pierced the silence with a rare cry of Come on! when Thiem double-faulted.

Then it was Zverev's turn to nose ahead, breaking for a 5-3 lead when Thiem sent a down-the-line backhand wide and leaned over, gasping for air.

But with a chance to serve out the biggest win of his nascent career, Zverev faltered, getting broken right back when he pushed a volley into the net.

That began a three-game run for Thiem, who broke to lead 6-5, earning his own chance to serve for it when Zverev netted a backhand, followed by a long forehand.

After having a trainer check on his right leg during the ensuing changeover, Thiem couldn't seal the deal, either, and on they went to the tiebreaker. Zverev double-faulted twice and offered up one second serve at 68 mph, about half the speed he's capable of.

While this was the No. 7-ranked Zverev's first Slam final, this was the first one the No. 3-ranked Thiem was supposed to win, following losses to 12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019, then to eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic at Melbourne Park this February back before the pandemic upended the world and put tennis on a five-month hiatus.

Instead of wild applause and loud shouts greeting great exchanges, the soundtrack Sunday mainly came from outside the largest court in tennis, courtesy of roaring airplanes, rumbling trains, revving car engines, honking horns and wailing sirens.

There was the occasional polite applause from the dozens of tournament workers allowed in the stands and, deep into the match, yells from the players' entourages.

But the louder crowd noise heard by TV viewers was fake, added by the broadcaster.


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October 30,2020


Dubai, Oct 29: Ravindra Jadeja's 31 off 11 after Ruturaj Gaikwad's 72-run knock guided Chennai Super Kings to a six-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the last ball thriller here at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday.

With this win, CSK gained two valuable points and are at the bottom of the table with 10 points in 13 games.

Chasing 173, CSK openers Shane Watson and Ruturaj Gaikwad provided a steady start to the side as they added a 50-run stand. Varun Chakravarthy removed Watson (14) in the eighth over.

Ambati Rayudu came in to bat at number three. He along with Gaikwad accumulated 68-run for the second wicket. After playing a knock of 38 off 20, Rayudu was sent back to the pavilion by Pat Cummins. CSK skipper MS Dhoni promoted himself up in the order and came in to bat at number four.

Chakravarthy dismissed Dhoni (1) and reduced CSK to 121/3 in 14.4 overs.

Sam Curran joined Gaikwad in the middle. The latter departed after scoring 72 off 53 balls including two sixes and six fours.

Ravindra Jadeja then played a knock of 31 runs while Curran remained unbeaten on 13.

For KKR, Varun Chakravarthy and Pat Cummins bagged two wickets each.

Earlier, Nitish Rana's 87-run knock guided KKR to a total of 172/5 in the allotted twenty overs.

Sent into bat first, KKR got off to a steady start as openers Rana and Shubman Gill put on 48 runs inside the first six overs. Both batsmen eventually stitched together an opening stand of 53 runs, but finally, the stand was broken by Karn Sharma as he clean bowled Gill (26) in the eighth over.

Sunil Narine (7) was promoted to the number three slot in order to gather some quick runs, but the move backfired as he was sent back to the pavilion by Mitchell Santner, reducing KKR to 60/2 in the ninth over.

Rinku Singh was sent at number four and he along with Rana put together 33 runs for the third wicket. Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Singh (11) in the 13th over, reducing KKR to 93/3.

In the 16th over, Nitish Rana took Karn Sharma to the cleaners as the left-handed batsman smashed him for 19 runs. In trying to get some quick runs, Rana (87) perished off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi and as a result, KKR was reduced to 137/4 in the 18th over.

Dinesh Karthik came into bat next and he played a cameo knock of 21 runs off just ten balls and as a result, KKR posted a score of more than the 170-run mark.

For CSK, Lungi Ngidi scalped two wickets.

Brief Scores: KKR 172/5 (Nitish Rana 87, Shubman Gill 26, Lungi Ngidi 2-34) lost to CSK 178/4 (Ruturaj Gaikwad 72, Ambati Rayudu 38, Varun Chakravarthy 2-20, Pat Cummins 2-31) by six wickets.


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October 18,2020


Dubai, Oct 18: Mike Hesson, Director of Cricket, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) labelled AB de Villiers as "superhuman" after the wicket-keeper batsman played a match-winning knock against Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

His remark came as RCB chased down 178 with seven wickets in hand and two balls to spare. De Villiers played an unbeaten knock of 55 runs off just 22 balls with the help of one four and 6 sixes.

"He is superhuman, there are very few in the cricket world who could do that, we are very lucky to have him in RCB, we have seen a couple of performances like this from him this year, probably three to be fair and in the match against Rajasthan, he was as good as it gets," Hesson said in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of RCB.

"Priority for us is to get better, we won against Rajasthan Royals on the back of outstanding individual performance, we relied on the fact that ABD is as good as he was. Chris Morris was exceptional but all in all, it was not our best performance, it's a good sign for RCB that we haven't played our best cricket yet we managed to win.

De Villiers had come to the crease in the 13th over with RCB still requiring 76 runs from 42 balls.

"There was no doubt that the momentum was with the opposition, basically it was there's to win. We never lost belief, Virat, Finchy and Dev laid a good foundation for us, it was difficult to get the ball away, it got pretty soft later on. We just maintained the belief, we got literally a couple of balls to get out of the ground and we started believing from there," de Villiers said in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of RCB.

In the match against RCB, Rajasthan Royals batted first and posted a total of 177/6 in the allotted twenty overs. Steve Smith top-scored for Royals as he played a knock of 57 runs off just 36 balls.

Chris Morris was the pick of RCB bowlers as he returned with figures of 4-26 from his four overs.

RCB is now at the third position in the IPL 2020 standings with 12 points from nine matches.

The side will next take on Kolkata Knight Riders on October 21 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.


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October 22,2020


Dubai, Oct 22: South African star spinner Imran Tahir has said that it was very painful to see compatriot and former Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis carry drinks for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League.

Tahir also heaped praise on how good CSK is as a franchise. The leg spinner said that the franchise and the Chennai fans give the utmost respect to their players.

The South African spinner has not played a single game for CSK this season and there has been serious speculation as to when the Proteas spinner will be seen in action in the ongoing IPL.

"Best team, from my heart is Chennai. I've been all over the world. I've never seen so much respect given from a franchise. I've never seen someone look after my family so well, the fans in Chennai are unbelievably lovely," Tahir told Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in his YouTube show 'Hello Dubaiahh.'

"When I play there it was a different atmosphere. And the main reason is I love their culture. They don't talk about performances and are always supportive and that's is what I like about it as in cricket You'll perform one day, and not on another," he added.

Tahir said that he has got "no clue" as to when he would play and asserted that it is quite difficult for a player to get into the CSK squad when four overseas players have already cemented their name.

"I have no clue. Earlier, Faf Du Plessis had to carry drinks the whole season. It was quite painful. He's got a brilliant T20 average. I'm doing that this year. I actually got an idea of how he felt. I have been talking to him as well," Tahir said.

With four games remaining for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the MS Dhoni-led unit would ideally look to finish on a high.

With Bravo ruled out, CSK is likely to finally bring last year's purple cap, Imran Tahir, into the playing XI for the remaining four games.

"And once four overseas players are settled in CSK then it's hard for the fifth guy. I hope I get a game," said Tahir.


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