It's OK for Bianca to stop
Why risk another long-term injury in a meaningless match?
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Bianca Andreescu got hurt again and her season might be over
The Canadian tennis star, who was already nursing a back injury, hurt her knee early in her second match of the year-ending WTA Finals in China. Andreesecu's back seemed fine as she won the first two games against Karolina Pliskova. But after reaching to her right to return a serve, Andreescu went down and then limped off in obvious pain. A trainer examined her left knee, taped it heavily, and Andreescu returned to the court. After losing the next three games (and not looking like herself) she told her coach her knee was "cracking every time I walk. It friggin' hurts." She also said the trainer figured it was an injury to her meniscus — the pieces of cartilage that act as cushions between your shinbone and thighbone.
In classic Bianca fashion, she decided to fight through the injury. Her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, advised her not to push it. But Andreescu, fighting back tears, said "I don't want to stop." It was reminiscent of that moment during the Indian Wells final back in March when Andreescu told Bruneau her feet were "burning" and she felt like she could barely move. Her racket shoulder was also taped up for that match. But she told her coach "I want this so bad" and then went back out and won her first big pro title.
Amazingly, Andreescu won the next game to even the set at 3-3. But that was all she had left. Pliskova took the next three games, and Andreescu didn't even move on her opponent's final serve, conceding the set-winning point. She then quit the match. Here's how she explained the injury to the press: "I stepped weirdly on a return," she said. "I heard my knee crack. It kind of went inwards. Putting pressure afterwards on it really bothered me. I could barely bend my knee. But I fought with the pain as much as I could. At some point an athlete has to say 'stop' and just listen to their body. That's what I did." Read more about her injury and watch video of it here.
Today's loss eliminated Andreescu from the tournament. She still has one more round-robin match left, but it doesn't matter. Her record is 0-2. Only the top two players in her four-person group advance. Elina Svitolina is guaranteed to be one of them after starting 2-0. Pliskova and Simona Halep are both 1-1, but they play each other next so one of them will end up 2-1 and claim the group's other semifinal berth.
But Andreescu hasn't called it quits on the tournament yet. She said she'll wait for the results of an MRI Thursday to decide whether to play her final match on Friday. That seems risky. Sure, there's a two-month vacation coming after this tournament. And yes, there's $305,000 US up for grabs for the winner of each match, plus 125 rankings points for showing up and another 125 for a win. But Bianca has already won more money (north of $6 million) and risen higher in the world rankings (No. 4) this year than anyone could have dreamed. And remember what happened last time she kept playing through an injury? Days after that grueling run to the Indian Wells title, she was back on the court for another tournament — her shoulder still taped. She won a few rounds before the injury forced her to quit. It cost her the next four months. Bianca has the heart of a champion. She always wants to fight through the pain. It's one of the things that makes her great. But sometimes it's OK to stop. This might be one of those times.
This weird World Series is going to a Game 7
Washington forced tonight's rubber match with a 7-2 win last night. Quick summary: Stephen Strasburg pitched into the ninth to deliver another post-season gem. Houston's Justin Verlander took the loss to fall to 0-6 in the World Series in his otherwise-brilliant career. Washington manager Dave Martinez got tossed for arguing a controversial call in which Trea Turner was ruled out for running off the baseline on his way to first — a call that ended up not mattering. Old-school baseball people (including Martinez) got mad at the Nationals' Juan Soto and Alex Bregman for celebrating home runs by carrying their bats all the way to the first-base coach. Read more about the game and see highlights here.
If the Nats win tonight, they'll make history in a couple of ways. It would be the first championship in the history of the franchise, which started as the Montreal Expos from 1969-2004. It would also be the first time in the history of the big four North American pro sports leagues that the road team won every game in a seven-game playoff series.
Max Scherzer is back from the dead. OK, it's not quite that dramatic, but the Washington ace woke up a few days ago barely able to move because of a nerve problem in his neck. He was scratched from his scheduled Game 5 start, but he appeared to be available in the bullpen last night. Now he says he's good to start Game 7 thanks to a cortisone shot and some chiropractic work.
If Scherzer wins tonight, he'll be remembered. His post-injury heroics could go down with Curt Schilling's bloody-sock pitching performance for Boston in the 2004 AL Championship Series and Kirk Gibson's "I don't believe what I just saw" home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series for Los Angeles.
You can watch a longer version of the Gibson homer below — featuring Vin Scully's call — and an underrated thing about it is how great of an at-bat this was by Gibson. He's half-crippled, falls behind in the count 0-2, but stays alive with some foul balls and works his way up to 3-2. The dramatic homer comes on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Dennis Eckersley also spent a lot of energy worrying about Mike Davis on first base. The Oakland closer threw over a ton of times to keep him close, and then Davis stole second anyway.
Some good Canadian tennis news: Denis Shapovalov advanced to the third round of the Paris Masters tournament. He's ranked 28th in the world, and today he upset 11th-seeded Fabio Fognini. Next up is No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev, who's 3-0 vs. Shapovalov. The other Canadian in the tournament, Milos Raonic, lost today to No. 5 Dominic Thiem. Read more about today's matches here.
Toronto FC can advance to the MLS title match tonight. After upsetting New York City FC in the last round, TFC hits the road again to face defending champion Atlanta in the Eastern Conference final at 8 p.m. ET. If Toronto wins, it will play Seattle for the championship for the third time in four years. The Sounders upset top-ranked LAFC in last night's Western Conference final. Back in 2016, Seattle beat Toronto in a shootout in the MLS Cup final. Toronto won the rematch the next year.
Please enjoy these two lacrosse-style goals by hockey players on the same day:
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