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Serena Williams ousted in U.S. Open semifinal by Victoria Azarenka

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Serena Williams‘ latest bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title was derailed by fellow mom Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka prevailed 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, overcoming her rival from an era ago after Williams took a medical timeout early in the third set with a left Achilles injury. Williams played her most dominant tennis of the summer in the first set before Azarenka flipped the script in the second and kept pushing through the finish.

“I started really strong. Then she just kept fighting,” Williams said. “She just changed and started playing better and better. Maybe I took a little too much off the gas pedal at some point.”

Williams suffered the injury while serving and down 1-0 in the third set. She limped, went to her chair and had her always heavily wrapped foot and ankle worked on and rewrapped.

“It just overstretched. It was pretty intense,” she said. “It didn’t affect my play ultimately at all, just for that one point.”

Azarenka, who had already fought back from love-40 to 40-all in the game, won three of the next four points to break Williams.

From there, the Belarusian held serve four straight times to reach her first Grand Slam final in seven years and since having son Leo in December 2016. She improved to 1-10 against Williams in majors and reversed the 2012 U.S. Open final, when she served for the match in the third set and lost.

“My ego was way too big,” eight years ago, Azarenka said. “Now it’s a little smaller, and the results [are] coming.”

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Azarenka, the 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion, plays 2018 U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka in Saturday’s final. Earlier Thursday night, Osaka took out surging American Jennifer Brady 7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-3 in a battle between the two most impressive players of the tournament.

Azarenka, who was due to play Osaka in an event final two weeks ago before Osaka withdrew with a left hamstring injury, looks to become the fourth mom to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era.

Williams hoped to join that club since returning from September 2017 childbirth and match Margaret Court‘s record for major singles titles. She lost finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2019. She turns 39 in two weeks.

Every Slam is crucial. Every deep run and close miss leads followers to wonder how it affects Williams’ resolve.

“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that actually,” she said.

Her next chance will be the French Open that starts in two weeks. Williams, in not outright committing to the event on Monday, said that she had questions about health safety at the tournament that plans to allow up to 11,500 spectators per day.

Just after midnight on Friday, she provided an update.

“I’m definitely going to be going to Paris,” Williams said.

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Coco Gauff eliminated from French Open

Coco Gauff
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PARIS (AP) — American teenager Coco Gauff’s French Open debut ended in the second round after she double-faulted 19 times in a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 loss to 159th-ranked qualifier Martina Trevisan.

Gauff double-faulted twice in the last game of the 2-hour, 11-minute match.

The 16-year-old Gauff has reached at least the third round at the other three major tournaments.

For Trevisan, a 26-year-old from Italy, this was her first victory in a Grand Slam match played to its conclusion.

She lost in the first round at the Australian Open this year in her first appearance at a major, then advanced Sunday at Roland Garros when her opponent, Camila Giorgi, stopped playing in the second set because of an injury.

Against Gauff, Trevisan kept yelling, “Yes!” and “Let’s go!” in Italian between points, then let out a high-pitched scream when the match ended.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Earlier, Defending champion Rafael Nadal reached the third round by beating American player Mackenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3.

The No. 2-seeded Spaniard is looking to win his record-extending 13th French Open title and equal Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20 major titles overall.

Nadal improved his record at Roland Garros to 95-2 when he sealed victory on his first match point. He next faces 74th-ranked Stefano Travaglia of Italy.

Sebastian Korda has now beaten two tour veterans in his first French Open.

After eliminating Andreas Seppi in his opening main draw match, the 20-year-old American qualifier took out 21st-seeded John Isner in the second round with a 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win.

A former junior world No. 1 and winner of the boys title at the 2018 Australian Open — and the son of 1992 French Open finalist Petr Korda — Korda broke Isner’s normally dominant serve five times.

The No. 213-ranked Korda will next face either Mikhail Kukushkin or qualifier Pedro Martinez on Friday.

Also, No. 27-seeded American Taylor Fritz reached the third round by serving 16 aces in a straight-set victory over Radu Albot.

MORE: Serena Williams ‘struggling to walk’

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Final postponed

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The Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual international figure skating competition, will not take place as scheduled in December in Beijing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Skating Union announced Wednesday that the Final was postponed.

There were “a number of logistical points raised by potentially participating teams that meant that hosting the competitions on the scheduled dates (close to the end of year holidays and national championships) would have impacted on the number of participants, given the potential need to quarantine on returning to their home country,” according to the ISU.

The ISU is “evaluating the continuation” of the upcoming season and possible rescheduling of the competition in China, which doubles as a 2022 Beijing Olympic test event.

The Grand Prix Final, held every December after the six-event Grand Prix Series, is the biggest indicator of Olympic and world championships medal prospects.

The Grand Prix Series is still scheduled to start with Skate America in Las Vegas from Oct. 23-25.

Fields have not been announced, but skaters are restricted to compete at the event in their home nation or in or near their training location.

The ISU also announced that the remaining World Cup short track speed skating stops in 2020 were postponed or canceled — Seoul and Beijing, both in December.

Previously, the first short track World Cups in November were canceled. All four of the long-track speed skating World Cups scheduled this fall were also canceled.

The next scheduled World Cup short- or long-track events are in February.

MORE: Alysa Liu grows on the ice and adds inches, too

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