A Tennis dystopia; this timeline is fine
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CURATING THE BEST IN SPORT

Global Edition

September 15-21, 2020

A Tennis dystopia; this timeline is fine


This year has been a dystopia on everything, not just tennis. But this years’ US Open was especially a dystopia for two reasons. The first one is quite obvious: the empty grandstands and the health-related policies. The second, the absence of the world’s top players on the singles able-bodied divisions. Is this how a parallel timeline of tennis would have looked like?

Men’s singles tennis has been dominated by three names in this century; they don’t even need to be mentioned. Since 2004 only one time someone else has topped the ATP and ITF end-of-year rankings (Andy Murray (SCO), 2016) and since 2003 they have dominated the Grand Slam scene, taking 56 of 66 Singles wins. They are potentially the most successful triumvirate in history of sport. And their reign is not dead.

But we had a glimpse of what an alternative timeline could have looked like. Dominic Thiem (AUT) became the first player in the Open era of the tournament (since 1949) to come back from being two games down and take the win.  Not only that: it was on a fifth set tiebreak. Do you know when was the last time that this happened at a Major tournament? In the 2004 French Open, right when the triumvirate was starting. Not having the triumvirate present also allowed Alexander Zverev (GER) to become the youngest finalist at a Grand Slam singles final since Novak Djokovic (SRB), in 2010.

It looks that in an alternative timeline without the triumvirate they are also having great tennis with exciting matches and great figures. But nevermind, I appreciate living in the timeline where Roger Federer (SUI), Rafael Nadal (ESP) and Novak Djokovic have given us some of the greatest matches in history of tennis, such as the 2008 Wimbledon Championships Final (watch: Wimbledon), when Nadal defeated Federer 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7; or the 2012 Australian Open, when Djokovic defeated Nadal 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7(5–7), 7–5 (watch: Australian Open).

But hey, it was fun for a few days!

 

Five things to know from last week
  1. Just chipping in.  Mirim Lee (KOR) won her first golf Major, by taking the 2020 ANA Inspiration in one of the most exciting finishes remembered: by chipping in an Eagle in the 18th hole which would force a Playoff with Brooke Henderson (CAN) -who took a free drop as her ball fell inside a sponsorship wall in the 18th- and Nelly Korda (USA) -who almost sunk it to the water in the 18th-. Lee had already chipped-in two previous shots that day. In the PGA, Stewart Cink (USA) took his first title since 2009 (PGA), as the Tour begins its 2020-21 season. The main figures opted to rest for next week’s U.S. Open. Check Lee’s incredible chips in out (LPGA)
  2. Wins amidst withdrawals. Without the world’s top two ranked players or the defending champion present, Naomi Osaka (JAP, 22) won her third Grand Slam by beating now-mother Victoria Azarenka (BLR), who last played a Grand Slam final in 2013. In women’s doubles, the #1 seeded pair of Timea Babos (HUN) and Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) had to withdraw from the second round due to contact-tracing policies, opening the court for Laura Siegemund (GER) and Vera Zvonareva (RUS) to win. The men’s doubles was won by Mate Pavić (CRO) and Bruno Soares (BRA), in the first tournament since the Bryan brothers (USA) retired. In quads, Sam Schröder (NET) won on his Grand Slam debut. The IPC recaps the wheelchair action
  3. Tragedy in Australia. Australia’s Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes saw Fierce Impact win ridden by Mark Zahra (AUS). Defending champion, Gatting, got injured and had to be humanely euthanized (Racing.com). In Ireland, Magical beat Ghaiyyath to the post in the 2020 Irish Champion Stakes for a 2nd straight Championship, in an epic finish. Magical was ridden by Seamie Heffernan (IRL) and was trained by Aidan O’Brien, who now has several winning options for the Arc de Triomphe. It was also a good week for Ryan Moore (ENG), who won the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) and was 3rd in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (G1). In England, Galileo Chrome gave last-minute replacement jockey jockey Tom Marquand (ENG) a first Group 1 victory (The Guardian) in the Pertemps St Leger at Doncaster.  In Germany, Barney Roy took a third G1 win this year, the GP von Baden, ridden by James Doyle (ENG) (Bloodhorse)
  4. Yet more records. Lewis Hamilton (ENG, Mercedes-Benz) keeps on breaking records. He won the Tuscan Grand Prix in Mugello and did not only establish the track records (since it was the first Grand Prix at the track) but he also established a record for the most points finishes, with 222. With his 90th win, he is one off Michael Schumacher’s record. The race had a high attrition rate, as only 12 drivers finished. Even then, Ferrari barely scratched the points on their 1000th race. Valtteri Bottas (FIN, Marcedes-Benz) finished second, ahead of Alexander Albon (THA, Red Bull). In Moto GP, Franco Morbidelli (ITA) took his first win, and the inline-four bikes dominated the race for the first time (Motor Sport). On a different form of racing, the Speedway Grand Prix had two thrilling races in Poland, won by local Bartosz Zmarzlik and Fredrik Lindgren (SWE) – watch Round 3 (Speedway GP)
  5. Yates held on. Simon Yates (ENG) held Geraint Thomas (ENG) off to take the Tirreno-Adriatico. Pascal Ackermann (GER) took the first two stages and ended up winning the points classification. Meanwhile, the Tour of France continues and is being led by a Slovenian 1-2, Cyclingnews has a current “State of play”
GLOBAL PODIUM OF THE WEEK

Gold: Shingo Kunieda

(Japan, Wheelchair tennis)

Shingo Kunieda won his seventh US Open title in the Men’s singles Wheelchair division -albeit the first since 2015-, and with this he now has a total of 45 Wheelchair tennis Grand Slam titles across genders, surpassing Esther Vergeer’s (NET) record of 44. Shingo did not win a Grand Slam tournament last year but has won both that have been held this year. The 36 year-old was the #1 seed but Alfie Hewett (ENG) was an important threat and indeed it took three sets and a 7-6 (7-3) tiebreak to take the title. Hewett did take it over Kunieda in the semifinals of the doubles division.

Watch the Final match highlights (US Open)

Alphie Hewett wins the US Open. (Photo: ITF)

Silver: Alfie Hewett 
(England, Wheelchair tennis)

Alfie Hewett was disappointed after losing the hotly contested singles wheelchair final but he did take a US Open title home, as he paired with Gordon Reid (SCO) for their fourth consecutive US Open Men’s Wheelchair doubles win, without dropping a single set. They beat world’s #1 and #2 singles players Kunieda and Gustavo Fernández (ARG) in the semis, and then #2 seeded Stèphane Houdet (FRA) and Nicolas Peifer (FRA). Those are the same two pairs that Hewett and Reid beat to take the two previous Grand Slams doubles finals: the 2019 US Open and the 2020 Australian Open.

Watch the doubles final match finals (US Open)

Diede de Groot wins the US Open. Photo: Facebook Diede de Groot

Bronze: Diede de Groot

(Netherlands, Wheelchair Tennis)

Diede de Groot keeps on dominating the female wheelchair tennis in the singles division of the US Open. This time she took her third straight US Open Singles title and her eight Grand Slam overall. She also made it to the finals in the doubles division, by pairing up with Marjolein Buis (NET) but dropped to Yui Kamiji (JAP) and Jordanne Whiley (ENG). She had defeated Kamiji in the singles final. 

Watch the Singles Final Highlights (US Open)

GLOBAL SPORTS AGENDA
 

Week Preview

 

The Tour de France has its second week and it will almost certainly conclude with a new winner, as Egan Bernal (COL) has lost significant ground. The Women’s Giro Rosa will also conclude. Annemiek Van Vleuten (NET) leads. The Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup will also have its first stage, in Belgium.

France also has its biggest car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will be a farewell to the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, marking the end of the Hybrid LMP1 era. It will also see 74 year-old Dom Bastien (USA) set an age record. Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) hopes to complete an Endurance Triple Crown (albeit not outright), as he will race alongside Memo Rojas Jr (MEX) and Timothé Buret (FRA) on the LMP2 class.

In North American sports, the NHL will define the Stanley Cup teams (Tampa Bay leads New York 3-1 and Dallas beat Champions Las Vegas 4-1 in the series to clinch the spot). NBA will define if either Denver or Los Ángeles Clippers will face Los Ángeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals, which are also due to start this week. So will the Eastern Conference finals, between Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.

Magnus Carlsen (NOR) and Hikaru Nakamura (USA) will face again at the The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, right after having shared the top prize at the Champions Showdown:Chess 9LX.

In men’s Golf, the top players are rested and are ready for the second PGA Major of the year: the U.S. Open. CBS Sports shares some players to watch out for. Collin Morikawa (USA) won the PGA Championship.

England clinched the Cricket T20I Series against Australia but the Aussies took the third match and with it, they took the number one spot in the world from them. Now they are facing on their ODI Series, with the series tied 1-1.

The Darts PDC Autumn Series continues with Michael Van Gerwen (NET), having won Day 3. More importantly, the World Series of Darts Finals will be plaid. Another precision sport, Carom Billiards, will have action with a tournament held Virtually, with the players playing from different countries at the same time.


Athletics:
Wanda Diamond League Rome

Aussie Rules Football:
AFL Season

Auto racing:
British Touring Car Championship (Thruxton Circuit x3)
Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (Nürburgring x2)
FIA Formula 1 (Tuscan GP)
FIA World Endurance Championship (24 Hours of Le Mans)
FIA World Rally Championship (Rally of Turkey)
FIA World Rallycross Championship (Latvia x2)
GT World Challenge Asia (Sepang x2)
GT World Challenge America (Austin x2)
International GT Open (Red Bull Ring x2)
NASCAR Cup (Bristol Motor Speedway)
Super GT (Motegi)
Supercars Championship (The Bend Motorsport Park x2)

Baseball
Major League Baseball Regular Season
Nippon League
KBO

Basketball:
NBA Playoffs Conference Finals
WNBA Playoffs

Billiards:
UMB Virtual OneCarom Challenge
WPSBA World Snooker Tour Championship League 2020

Chess:
The Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz

Cricket:
ODI England vs Australia

Darts:
PDC Tour Autumn Series Days 1-3 (Germany)
World Series of Darts Finals (Austria)

eSports:
Arena of Valor (Garena Challenger Series Summer 2020, RoV Pro League 2020 Winter, Arena of Glory Winter 2020)
Hearthstone Gold Team Championship Season
SMITE Pro League/2020 Season/Phase 2
Starcraft II Gold Series Team Championship 2020 Fall Season
Global StarCraft II League Season 3
ESL Pro League Season 12: North America
ESL Pro League Season 12: Europe
ESL Pro Tour SC2 Masters: Fall
Overwatch League Playoffs
Quake Pro League Season 2: Stage 1
World Cyber Games 2020 Connected Group Stage

Golf:
LPGA Cambia Portland Classic (USA)
PGA U.S. Open (New York, USA)

Horse Racing: 
Colgate Optic White George Main Stakes, Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Invitation Stakes) (Australia)
St Leger Stakes (England)
Woodbine Mile, Natalma Stakes, Summer Stakes (Canada)
Tarzino Trophy (New Zealand)
Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (USA)

Ice Hockey:
NHL Playoffs (Conference Finals)

Mountain Bike:
Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup (Belgium)

Motorcycling:
FIM Bajas World Cup (Portugal)
FIM Motocross World Championship (Faenza x4)
FIM MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, Moto E World Championship (Misano, Italy)
FIM Superbike, Supersport, Supersport 300 World Championship (Circuit de Catalunya)
FIM Speedway Grand Prix (Czechia x2)
FIM Trial World Championship (Andorra)

Road Cycling:
Tour de France (WT)
UCI Women’s World Tour Giro d’Italia

Simracing:
BMW SIM 120 Cup
BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup

Tennis:
ATP/WTA Italian Open

   

 
SPORT’S BEST VALUES

Pushing the limits: Ralph Hudson

Ralph Hudson pushed the limits of human speed aboard a motorcycle. He has the current FIM speed record on a sit-down motorcycle (297 miles per hour) set in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia, in 2018 (FIM). He indeed became the first person to go over 300 miles per hour that time (304 mph) but could not complete two passes at that speed, which would qualify him for the FIM World Record with that speed. He passed away September 6th, aged 69, succumbing to injuries he sustained in an accident on August 14 at the Bonneville Salt Flats. He is remembered by FIM as the “quiet giant”: humble and friendly. Watch his video on his journey about going at 300 mph.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“People! It is only logical that I will fight for my life; and as per the evidence, all clues are an affirmation to my innocence. All the evidence that we have collected and everything that I am saying right now, is only here to let you know that if I ever get executed, in the 21st century and with all the human right organizations, the UN or security council or the whatever else, an innocent human being, which had tried to the best of his might and fought, to have his voice heard, was hanged…Know & be aware that if the innocent me gets executed, this won’t be the first victim of the unfairness of this so-called ‘justice–oriented’ unjust court”.”

Navid Afkari (IRI)
Iranian National Wrestling Champion
Days before being tortured and executed as a political prisoner, for having protested on the streets

Voice call

 
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New York | México City, 2020.

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