Australian Open: Emma Raducanu falls as high women’s seeds upset

2022 Australian Open: Day 4
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Emma Raducanu, the surprise U.S. Open champion, was among four of the top 17 women’s seeds to fall in the Australian Open second round on Thursday.

Danka Kovinic, a Montenegrin ranked 98th, beat Raducanu 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 after the Brit got treatment for a blister on her right hand in the first set.

“Some people in my team didn’t want me to even go out there. So I fought so hard just to come out to Australia and play here, and I didn’t want to go out like that. So I just left it all out on the court,” said the 19-year-old Raducanu, who had to isolate in December after testing positive for the coronavirus. “I have been struggling with blisters since I started playing in Australia because 21 days, no tennis, my hands got pretty soft.

“I have had blisters before but never this bad. It’s quite deep, and it’s just in a very awkward position that it’s so difficult to tape.”


Earlier, No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza and No. 6 Anett Kontaveit, who met for the WTA Finals title in November, lost the first matches on the two main show courts.

French veteran Alizé Cornet dispatched Muguruza, a two-time major champion who was a set from winning the 2020 Australian Open, 6-3, 6-3. Danish 19-year-old Clara Tauson, a former junior No. 1, took out Kontaveit 6-2, 6-4.

No. 12 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan retired from her second-round match with China’s Zhang Shuai due to a leg injury.

Raducanu, at 19, is admittedly still learning the ropes of professional tennis at the highest level. At this time last year, she was still five months away from her first tour-level, main-draw match. Then she made the fourth round of Wimbledon and became the first qualifier to win a major at the U.S. Open.

Raducanu then changed coaches and went 2-4 in six matches between the U.S. Open and Australian Open.

The Spaniard Muguruza continued her maddening Grand Slam career.

She won the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon, plus made two other major finals and twice beat a top-ranked Serena Williams at Roland Garros. She also lost in the first or second round of a major at least once in all 11 years of her career, including 10 times in 22 starts since her first Slam title.

“It’s been a pretty stressful start of the year also with my team,” Muguruza said. “They all got COVID before coming here. We were, like, for 15 days apart.”

Cornet’s biggest claim to fame was thrice beating a top-ranked Williams in 2014, including at Wimbledon. The 31-year-old has been on the cusp of breaking through — reaching No. 11 in the world in 2009 and making the fourth round of every major, but never a quarterfinal. She is now ranked 61st.

Cornet next gets No. 29 seed Tamara Zidanšek of Slovenia.

“I’m telling myself that I’m playing probably my last year,” said Cornet, noting she wants to break the women’s record for consecutive majors played. She is at 60, two shy of Ai Sugiyama‘s mark.

Kontaveit, the highest-ranked Estonian in history, won three tournaments last fall, and nearly a fourth at the WTA Finals, to break into the top 10 for the first time and finish the year at No. 7. Her form continued this season, reaching the semifinals of an Australian Open lead-up event.

Tauson won the 2019 Australian Open girls’ title a month after turning 16, then won two WTA tournaments last year. American Coco Gauff is the only player in the top 200 who is younger than Tauson.

Tauson next gets 27th-seeded American Danielle Collins.

No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka continued to struggle with her serve, yet eked out another three-set win to reach round three. She double faulted 19 times — six in the first game alone — but beat China’s 100th-ranked Wang Xinyu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The only other single-digit seed left in the bottom half is No. 7 Iga Swiatek, who has dropped seven games in two matches.

In the men’s draw, No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev took out Australian showman Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Medvedev, the favorite after Novak Djokovic‘s deportation, would not play a seed until the quarterfinals after all the other top players in his section were upset.

Andy Murray fell to 120th-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

No. 20 Taylor Fritz felt a right leg cramp as he celebrated a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over fellow American Frances Tiafoe. Fritz, the highest-ranked American man, gets No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round.

Australian Open Day 5 Schedule

On Friday, top-ranked Ash Barty and defending champion Naomi Osaka are in action, each a win away from facing each other in the fourth round.

Barty, who dropped three games between her first two matches, faces her first seed in No. 30 Camila Giorgi of Italy. Osaka gets dangerous American Amanda Anisimova, a 2019 French Open semifinalist at age 17 who is back on the rise after a challenging two years.

Rafael Nadal, the only past champion in the men’s field, faces a top-40 player for the first time since losing last year’s French Open semifinal to Novak Djokovic. It’s No. 28 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia.

The other marquee men’s matches are No. 7 Matteo Berrettini vs. No. 31 Carlos Alcaraz and No. 19 Pablo Carreño Busta vs. American Sebastian Korda.

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How did U.S. women’s basketball replace its legends? It starts with Alyssa Thomas.

Alyssa Thomas

If this FIBA World Cup marks the beginning of a new era of U.S. women’s basketball, it is notable, if not remarkable, that no player has been more visible than Alyssa Thomas.

Thomas is making her global championship debut in Sydney. She is the only woman on the team in her 30s. Rarely, if ever, has a player who waited this long to put on a U.S. uniform made such an impact out of the gate. Certainly not since the last major tournament in Australia, when 30-year-old Yolanda Griffith starred at the 2000 Olympics.

Over the last week, Thomas leads the U.S. in minutes played and is one of two players to start all seven games along with Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP. She ranks fourth on the team in scoring (10.6 points per game), is tied for second in rebounding (6.7), second in assists (4.6) and first in steals (2.7).

The Americans, with their new breakthrough power forward, face China in Saturday’s final, seeking a fourth consecutive world title and 60th consecutive victory between Olympic and world championship play dating to 2006.

“She takes a lot of pressure off of us,” two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson said after Thomas had 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in a quarterfinal win over Serbia. “I think she’s the glue of this team, the X-factor of this team, because that’s her game and that’s her style.”

Thomas earned the nickname “Baby Bron Bron” at the University of Maryland for her LeBron James-like play. USA Basketball took notice in 2013, when she was one of six collegians named to a 33-player national team training camp.

But that participation was the last of Thomas’ bullet points on her USA Basketball bio for another nine years, until she was named to the FIBA World Cup qualifying team last February.

Thomas had to wait her turn.

The U.S. was loaded in the frontcourt in the 2010s with older veterans — Candace ParkerTina CharlesSylvia FowlesBrittney GrinerElena Delle Donne — and then Stewart and Wilson came along, becoming arguably the two most valuable Americans in the last Olympic cycle.

Thomas produced, to that point, the best WNBA season of her career in 2020, but tore an Achilles playing overseas in January 2021, ruling out any chance of making the Tokyo Olympic team. (Thomas was not in the 36-player national team pool at the time of her injury.)

The combination of players’ absences this year — Charles, after three Olympic golds, ceded to younger players, Fowles retired and Griner is being detained in Russia — and Cheryl Reeve becoming head coach created an opportunity.

Thomas seized it, leading the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA Finals, where she recorded triple-doubles in the last two games of a series loss to the Las Vegas Aces. Then she boarded a plane to Sydney for her first major international experience and has similarly flourished.

Jennifer Rizzotti, part of the USA Basketball selection committee, said the 6-foot-2 Thomas combines the movement of Lindsay Whalen, the passing of Parker and the physicality of Rebekkah Brunson. She plays with labrum tears in each shoulder. There’s no single player like her.

“There’s definitely some post players that have that point forward mentality, but not quite with the guard skills that Alyssa has,” Rizzotti said. “I don’t see anybody, including guards, that can do what she does in the open court. Then you talk about how disruptive she is defensively and her ability to guard one through five. A’ja can guard one through five, Stewie can guard one through five, but nobody’s as disruptive as Alyssa is. On the perimeter and off the ball.”

Thomas also fit what Reeve, who succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, was looking for in retooling the roster following the retirement of Sue Bird and possible end of Diana Taurasi‘s national team career at age 40.

“[Reeve] made it clear that she was hoping with the guard turnover that we would be able to play faster, more athletically, more possessions in the game,” Rizzotti said. “And therefore, she wanted to have post players that could push tempo, that could facilitate and kind of fit in with a ball-handling, passing mentality from the trail spot.”

Still, Thomas did not expect to be putting on a USA jersey this year. “Shocked” is the word USA Basketball chose to describe her reaction to making this team.

“It was kind of a surprise,” she said, according to USA Basketball. “I had just really taken my name out of it.”

Rizzotti said Thomas is an example — a very successful one, it turns out — of an asset in the eyes of the selection committee: patience.

“I think a lot of players feel like if they don’t make the USA national team right away, it’s never going to happen,” she said. “You get the comments like, oh, it’s political, or they keep inviting the same guys back. And it’s not true.”

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U.S., China set for FIBA Women’s World Cup gold-medal game

FIBA Women's World Cup Basketball

SYDNEY — Breanna Stewart and the United States used a dominant defensive effort to beat Canada and reach the gold-medal game of the FIBA Women’s World Cup for the fourth consecutive tournament.

Stewart scored 17 points and the Americans raced out to an early lead to put away Canada 83-43 on Friday, reaching a Saturday gold-medal game with China. The 43 points was the fewest scored in a semifinal game in World Cup history.

“Canada has been playing really well all tournament and the goal was just to come out there and really limit them,” said U.S. forward Alyssa Thomas. “We were really locked in from the jump with our game plan.”

China edged host Australia 61-59 in the later semifinal to reach its first global championship game since the 1994 Worlds, the last time it won a medal of any color. The U.S. beat China 77-63 in group play last Saturday, the Americans’ closest game of the tournament.

“Our goal was to to win a gold medal and we’re in position to do that,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The U.S. (7-0), which is on a record pace for points and margin of victory in the tournament, took control of the game early scoring the first 15 points. The Americans contested every shot on the defensive end as the Canadians missed their first nine attempts from the field. On the offensive end, Stewart, A’ja Wilson and Thomas basically got any shot they wanted.

“I think after that punch, it really took the air out of them,” Thomas said. “They didn’t know what to do with their offense anymore after that.”

MORE: FIBA World Cup Schedule, Results

Laeticia Amihere, who plays at South Carolina for former U.S. coach Dawn Staley, finally got Canada on the board nearly 5 minutes into the game making a driving layup.

By the end of the quarter the U.S. led 27-7. Canada had committed four turnovers — the same number the team had against Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals which was the lowest total in a game in 30 years.

The Americans were up 45-21 at the half and the lead kept expanding in the final 20 minutes. The win was the biggest margin for the U.S. in the medal round topping the 36-point victory over Spain in the 2010 World Cup.

Canada (5-2) advanced to the medal round for the first time since 1986 and has a chance to win its first medal since taking the bronze that year.

“We didn’t get it done today, but what we’re going to do is take this with what we learned today and how we can turn it up tomorrow,” Canada captain Natalie Achonwa said. “It’s still a game for a medal and it’s just as important for us.”

The U.S. has won seven of the eight meetings with Canada in the World Cup, although the last one came in 2010. The lone victory for Canada came in 1975.

The victory was the 29th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86. This is only the second time in the Americans’ storied history they’ve reached four consecutive gold-medal contests. They also did it from 1979-90, winning three times.

This U.S. team, which has so many new faces on it, is on pace to break many of the team’s records that include scoring margin and points per game. The Americans also continued to dominate the paint even without 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner, outscoring its opponents by an average of 55-24.

Amihere led Canada with eight points.


The low point total broke the mark of 53 that South Korea scored against Russia in 2002.

“We’re starting to build that identity,” Wilson said of the defensive effort. “We’re quick and scrappy and I think that’s our identity.”

The U.S. is averaging 101 points a game. The team’s best mark ever coming into the tournament was 99.1 set in 1994.


Kahleah Copper sat out after injuring her left hip in the win over Serbia in the quarterfinals. Copper landed hard on her hip driving to the basket and had to be helped off the court. She hopes to play on Saturday. Betnijah Laney, who also got hurt in the Serbia game, did play against Canada.

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