Denis Shapovalov can become this year's Bianca Andreescu
21-year-old is first Canadian to reach U.S. Open men's quarters
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Another Canadian tennis player is making history at the U.S. Open
Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Bianca Andreescu's monumental victory over Serena Williams in the U.S. Open women's final, which made her the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title. Like several other tennis stars, Andreescu decided to skip this year's event. A combination of the pandemic and her slow recovery from a knee injury suffered last October have kept Andreescu off the court since late October — more than 10 months ago.
But even without its biggest star, Canada is having a pretty good U.S. Open. For the first time ever, three Canadians reached the final eight of a Grand Slam singles event as Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil all made it to the men's quarters. Shapovalov also got to the men's doubles quarters with his Indian teammate Rohan Bopanna, and Gabriela Dabrowski made the women's doubles quarters with American Alison Riske. Both pairs lost, as did Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil in the singles round of 16.
But Shapovalov, who's ranked 17th in the world and is seeded 12th for the U.S. Open, knocked off No. 7 seed David Goffin on Sunday to make Canadian tennis history. Though it's nowhere near as impressive as what Andreescu did last year, Shapovalov is the first Canadian man ever to reach the singles quarter-finals at the U.S. Open. The 21-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., is also in uncharted territory personally: this is two rounds deeper than he's ever gone in a Slam.
Shapovalov's opponent tonight in New York is Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta, who's ranked 27th in the world and seeded 20th. The seedings and the betting odds both favour the Canadian, but Carreno Busta comes in with the head-to-head edge. He's 3-1 lifetime vs. Shapovalov and has swept their three matches on hard courts, which is the surface used at the U.S. Open. Tonight's match will take place after a women's quarter-final between Naomi Osaka and Shelby Rogers that starts at 7 p.m. ET. So expect it to get going sometime after 8:30 p.m. ET.
If Shapovalov can advance, he'll face a relatively friendly path to the title. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was disqualified in the fourth round for striking a linesperson with a ball that he carelessly hit toward her between points. World No. 2 and defending champion Rafael Nadal elected to skip the tournament due to coronavirus/travel concerns, and world No. 4 Roger Federer is out with a knee injury. World No. 3 Dominic Thiem and No. 5 Daniil Medvedev are still alive, but they're not in Shapovalov's half of the draw. If the Canadian reaches the semis, his opponent will be either Alexander Zverev (ranked seventh in the world) or Borna Coric (ranked 32nd).
The star power is significantly better in the women's tournament, where the top two remaining seeds are No. 3 Serena Williams and No. 4 Naomi Osaka. The two highest-paid female athletes in the world, according to Forbes' most recent rankings, are on opposite halves of the draw, setting up the possibility of a marquee matchup in the final. Their paths are fairly easy too: both face unseeded opponents in the quarter-finals, and the highest remaining seed outside of Williams and Osaka is No. 16 Elise Mertens.
If Serena wins the tournament, she'll match Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. It would also be her first since becoming a mother in September 2017. Two other mothers — Victoria Azarenka and Tsvetana Pironkova — are also in the quarter-finals, making this the first time ever that three moms have reached the final eight in the same Grand Slam.
WATCH | Shapovalov wins stunning rally point against Goffin at U.S. Open:
Caster Semenya appears to have lost her long fight. The two-time Olympic and three-time world 800-metre champion has spent the past couple of years mounting legal challenges against track and field's controversial rule limiting testosterone levels for those who want to compete in women's running events between 400 metres and a mile. She lost them, and was down to one last longshot — an appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court. But it dismissed Semenya's case today, meaning she likely won't be able to defend her Olympic gold in Tokyo unless she takes medication or has surgery to lower her naturally occurring testosterone levels. Semenya has vowed never to do that, and she remained firm in that stance today while also lashing out at track and field's world governing body. "I am very disappointed by this ruling, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am," Semenya said. "Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history." Read more about the ruling and where it leaves Semenya here.
Olympic organizers seem really determined to hold the Tokyo Games next summer. International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates told a French media outlet yesterday that the Games will start on July 23 next year "with or without COVID." He added that "these will be the Games that conquered COVID; the light at the end of the tunnel." Today, Japan's Olympic Minister said the event must be held next year "at any cost." Government and organizing officials held the first in a series of meetings Friday to figure out how to pull the Olympics off during a pandemic. Read more about the steps they're discussing (and bold statements they're making) here.
The Blue Jays now have a 90 per cent chance of making the playoffs. That's according to the models of both ESPN and Fangraphs. Remember, under this year's expanded playoff format, eight teams per league qualify for the post-season — up from five. The top two in each division get in (that's six) plus the two with the next-best records. Two-thirds of the way into the shortened 60-game regular season, the Jays are a surprising second in the AL East with a 23-18 record. They're two games ahead of the Yankees, who were the pre-season favourites to represent the AL in the World Series, after beating them 12-7 last night in the opener of a three-game set. More good news: star shortstop Bo Bichette, who was having a fantastic year at the plate before hurting his knee three weeks ago, is nearing his return. So is closer Ken Giles, who's been out since late July. Some bad news, though: outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who's leading the team in homers (14) while batting a strong .308, was placed on the 10-day injured list yesterday with a knee injury. Read more about the Jays' big win over the Yankees, which included a 10-run inning, here.
The Raptors are on the brink of elimination. No way to sugarcoat it: last night was ugly. After roaring back to tie their second-round series vs. Boston with two straight wins, the defending champs no-showed Game 5. They scored only 11 points in the first quarter, trailed 62-35 at the half and eventually lost 111-89. Pascal Siakam (10 points) had another tough night and Kyle Lowry (also 10) looked like a guy who'd run out of gas after playing big minutes to spark the Raptors' two wins. Key off-the-bench big man Serge Ibaka sprained his ankle and is questionable for Game 6, which is Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET. The Celtics have looked like the better team more often in this series, but count the Raptors out at your peril. They have a knack for proving people wrong. Read more about last night's game here.
Jamal Murray has cooled off. Since scoring 50, 42 and 50 points in consecutive games, the young Canadian guard has reverted to more typical production. He had 17 in Denver's Game 7 win over Utah, and he's gone for 12, 27 and 14 vs. the Clippers. L.A. leads the series 2-1 after last night's win, which included Kawhi Leonard blocking a Murray dunk attempt with one finger (really). Tonight's NBA playoff games are Miami vs. Milwaukee at 6:30 p.m. ET and Lakers vs. Houston at 9 p.m. ET. Miami has another chance to complete a stunning upset of Milwaukee, which had the league's best regular-season record. The Bucks avoided getting swept with an overtime win on Sunday that came after Giannis Antetokounmpo left with a sprained ankle. The reigning NBA MVP is questionable for Game 5. The Lakers and Rockets are tied 1-1 in their series.
The Tampa Bay Lightning looked rested, not rusty. A week-long layoff didn't dull the most impressive team in the NHL playoffs. Tampa Bay improved its record in 2020 post-season series to 9-2 by pounding the Islanders 8-2 last night to open the Eastern Conference final. New York had just one day of rest after going the distance with Philadelphia, and it showed as Tampa's Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point both had a five-point night that included a marvelous give-and-go between them. Game 2 is Wednesday night. Tonight, Vegas and Dallas play Game 2 of the Western Conference final at 8 p.m. ET. Dallas took the opener 1-0.
Dustin Johnson is a rich(er) man. The world's top-ranked golfer won the FedEx Cup title by taking the playoff-ending Tour Championship by three shots. The victory comes with a $15-million US cheque — the biggest cash prize in the sport. Mackenzie Hughes did alright for himself too. The only Canadian to qualify for the Tour Championship finished a strong 14th after starting the tournament in 28th. He earned $620K for that. Normally, this would have been the last big men's golf tournament of the calendar year. But, because of the pandemic, the U.S. Open is coming up next week and the Masters is in November. Read more about Johnson's FedEx Cup win here.
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