U.S. Open: Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur set final between world’s best players of 2022

Iga Swiatek
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Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur have been the best tennis players in 2022, and they will finish the last major event of the year by facing off for the U.S. Open title.

Swiatek, the world No. 1 from Poland, rallied past Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in Thursday’s semifinals to reach her third Grand Slam singles final. She won the other two at the French Open in 2020 and again three months ago.

But Swiatek hasn’t been the dominant force she was to win her first major without losing more than four games in any set and her second major on a 35-match win streak. Twice at this event, she rallied after losing the first set. And before it started, she disclosed that she disliked the type of tennis balls used at the U.S. Open.

“I trust myself for sure on clay, and maybe also other surfaces,” she said. “Here I just try to accept maybe that sometimes I’m not going to trust myself, and I still need to prove myself in a couple of matches maybe against heavy hitters.”

U.S. OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

Earlier, Tunisia’s Jabeur swept Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-1, 6-3 to reach her second consecutive Grand Slam final. Jabeur, the Wimbledon runner-up, had eight aces despite getting just 43 percent of her first serves in (23 total).

Swiatek-Jabeur is the first U.S. Open final pitting the top two women in the season race standings since 2013 (Serena WilliamsVictoria Azarenka). Jabeur, like Swiatek, might not have been expected to get this far. She followed her Wimbledon breakthrough by going 2-3 in the North America hard-court swing, including retiring from one match with an abdominal injury.

“Iga never loses finals, so it’s going to be very tough,” said Jabeur, who is 2-2 against Swiatek and lost their last match in Rome in May. “I know she struggled a little bit with the balls here, but I don’t see her struggling much, to be honest with you. She’s playing awesome. It’s going to be tough match. Definitely going for my revenge.”

The 28-year-old Jabeur is the only African woman and Arab or North African man or woman to reach a major final in the Open Era. She was the higher seed in the Wimbledon final in July, but Kazakh Elena Rybakina rallied past her 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

“[This] feels more real,” Jabeur said. “At Wimbledon I was kind of just living the dream, and I couldn’t believe it.

“Now maybe I know what to do in the finals.”

Garcia, the former world No. 4 in 2018 who tumbled to No. 79 earlier this year, had her 13-match win streak snapped in her first major semifinal. A dominant player in her first five matches at the U.S. Open, she had nearly twice as many unforced errors as winners against Jabeur.

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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