Sofia Kenin, Garbine Muguruza
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Sofia Kenin, Garbine Muguruza meet in unlikely Australian Open final

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Sofia Kenin had never been past the fourth round of a Grand Slam. Garbine Muguruza, while a two-time major champion, had not reached the quarterfinals in nearly two years.

Yet they meet in Saturday’s Australian Open final (3:30 a.m. ET), the end of a breakthrough event for the American Kenin and a resurgent one for the Spaniard Muguruza.

Kenin, a 21-year-old born in Moscow and raised as a tennis prodigy in Florida, was best known for beating Serena Williams in the third round of the French Open last spring.

While she lost her next match at Roland Garros to eventual champion Ash Barty, Kenin continued to show promise by reaching a pair of U.S. hard-court semifinals leading up to the U.S. Open.

But other, younger Americans had more talked-about Slam breakthroughs — Amanda Anisimova, 18, made the French Open semifinals, and Coco Gauff, 15, made the Wimbledon fourth round.

Yet Kenin’s overall strong play last season earned her the 14th seed in Melbourne. She rallied from a set down to beat Gauff in the fourth round. In her lone match against a seeded player, Kenin swept the home favorite Barty in the semifinals.

“I know that people haven’t really paid attention much to me in the past, but I had to establish myself, and I have,” Kenin said. “Of course, now I’m getting the attention. I like it.”

A few years ago, Muguruza showed the youthful dominance that Kenin must be dreaming of. At 20, she swept Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the 2014 French Open. Two years later, she beat Williams in the French Open final. A year after that, she won Wimbledon.

But Muguruza failed to make a Grand Slam quarterfinal last season. She didn’t fare much better in lesser events. She is unseeded at a Slam for the first time since the 2014 French Open.

“I’m happy to not be in the spotlight,” she said.

She can’t hide now.

Muguruza, after changing coaches and returning to 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez, beat a trio of top-10 players in Melbourne, all in straight sets: Elina SvitolinaKiki Bertens and Simona Halep.

Muguruza dismissed the notion that she has an edge over Kenin, given her Slam experience. Kenin won their only previous meeting last September.

“The racket has to speak out there,” Muguruza said. “It doesn’t matter how many Grand Slams you have.”

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus

Hayato Sakamoto
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Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.

Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.

The tests showed traces of the coronavirus, according to Kyodo News.

The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.

Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.

Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.

The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.

In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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