Rafael Nadal downs Stefanos Tsitsipas to win Toronto Masters

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Rafael Nadal displays the Rogers Cup championship trophy after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the finals on Sunday, Aug. 12, at the Aviva Centre. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
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Stefanos Tsitsipas returns a ball to Rafael Nadal during the championship in the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
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Rafael Nadal returns a ball to Stefanos Tsitsipas during the championship in the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Updated 13 August 2018

Rafael Nadal downs Stefanos Tsitsipas to win Toronto Masters

  • Victory gave the 32-year-old Spaniard a record-extending 33rd trophy at the elite Masters level as well as his 80th title
  • Nadal added the Canadian honour to the titles he won in 2005, 2008 and 2013

TORONTO: Rafael Nadal held off a late surge from birthday boy Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim the 80th title of his career with victory at the Toronto Masters on Sunday.
Nadal overcame a second set fightback from Greek youngster Tsitsipas to claim a 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) victory in just under 1hr 45mins.
The win gave the 32-year-old Spaniard a record-extending 33rd trophy at the elite Masters level as well as his 80th title.
However Nadal later raised doubts about he would be chasing an 81st title at next week's event in Cincinnati, refusing to confirm that he would play the event as scheduled.
"Will I play in Cincinnati? I can't answer to you right now," Nadal said.
Earlier, a vocal crowd of local flag-waving Greek fans had sang Happy Birthday to the 20-year-old Tsitsipas as Nadal reflected on a successful campaign.
"I feel I've improved every match, it's important to win even if you're not at your best," Nadal said as he prepares for the US Open later this month.
"It's been almost 10 years (2010) since I last played in Toronto," Nadal said of the event which comes to the city in even-number years as it trades with Montreal.
"This trophy means a lot."
The loss concluded the tennis week of his life for Tsitsipas, who beat four Top 10 opponent in a row to reach the final.
"It's been an amazing week for me," he said. "This trophy means a lot after playing my first Masters 1000 final.
"Rafa is amazing, he never cracks. He will always grab you like a bulldog and he will always make you suffer on the court.
"He was (once) normal like all of us, and he managed to become this beast, this monster that he is today.
"That's how you feel when you play against him."
Tsitsipas is taking the lesson he learned on court to heart: "I'm really hungry for more. I believe I can achieve much more this year.
"Although I lost today, I feel like I can still beat good players. I really want to make more points this year and get the best out of myself."
Nadal added the Canadian honour to the titles he won in 2005, 2008 and 2013.
The final featured a plot twist at the end, with Nadal broken while serving for victory leading a set and 5-4.
Tsitsipas would not buckle, making it 5-5 as Nadal hit the net, with the set finally going into a tiebreaker.
Nadal regained control, earning a match point on a Tsitsipas forehand error.
The Spanish world number one concluded victory with a forehand winner deep into the corner.
He now owns five titles this season and has clinched the first spot in the year-end finals in London.


Conor McGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC return

Updated 19 January 2020

Conor McGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC return

LAS VEGAS: Conor McGregor came back with a big bang.

McGregor stopped Donald Cerrone with a head kick and punches 40 seconds into the first round at UFC 246 on Saturday night, announcing his return to mixed martial arts with his first victory since 2016.

The Irish former two-division champion came out of a three-year stretch of relative inactivity and outside-the-cage troubles with a performance that echoed his greatest fights during his unparalleled rise.

After bloodying Cerrone’s nose with his first punch, McGregor (22-4) then floored Cerrone (36-14) only 20 seconds into the bout with a perfectly placed left kick to the head. He mercilessly finished on the ground to the delight of a sellout crowd of 19,040 at T-Mobile Arena.

“I feel really good, and I came out of here unscathed,” McGregor said. “I’m in shape. We’ve got work to do to get back to where I was.”

McGregor’s hand hadn’t been raised in victory since November 2016, when he stopped lightweight Eddie Alvarez to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two championship belts simultaneously. With his fame and fortune multiplying, McGregor fought only his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather in 2017, and he lost a one-sided UFC bout to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in late 2018.

After a year spent out of competition and in repeated trouble with the law, McGregor got back into training and vowed to return to elite form. This dramatic victory over Cerrone indicated he’s well on his way, and McGregor has vowed to fight multiple times in 2020.

Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and veteran brawler Jorge Masvidal watched UFC 246 from cageside. Either man could be McGregor’s next opponent.

“Any one of these mouthy fools can get it,” McGregor yelled into the microphone. “Every single one of them can get it. It does not matter. I’m back and I’m ready.”

Cerrone is the winningest fighter in UFC history with 23 victories, a mark that reflects both his durability and commitment to an uncommonly busy schedule. Cerrone, who also holds the UFC record with 16 stoppage wins, had fought a whopping 11 times since McGregor’s win over Alvarez, and he was in the cage for the 15th time since he lost his only UFC title shot in December 2015.

But Cerrone’s last two fights were stopped when he took too much damage, and he couldn’t block McGregor’s decisive kick or recover from the punishment on the ground.

“I’d never seen anything like that,” Cerrone said. “He busted my nose, it started bleeding, and he stepped back and head-kicked me. Oh, man. This happened this fast?”

Although many observers have scoffed, the 31-year-old McGregor believes he can reclaim the fearsome form he showed during his meteoric rise to unprecedented MMA success. He won 15 consecutive fights during a five-year run from low-profile shows in Dublin to the world’s biggest MMA events, stopping five straight elite UFC opponents with punches on the way up.

McGregor walked to the cage at UFC 246 with the Irish flag wrapped around his shoulders. The bearded fighters touched gloves beforehand in an extension of this bout’s unfailing sportsmanship — not always a hallmark of McGregor’s previous bouts.

After the referee stopped the bout, McGregor peeled away briefly to celebrate, but quickly returned to comfort his disoriented opponent. When Cerrone’s grandmother, Jerry, entered the cage after the fight to hug her grandson, McGregor also hugged Jerry and got a kiss on the cheek.

Even after his prolonged absence — or maybe because of it — McGregor’s return is expected to be a huge seller on pay-per-view. The UFC said it made more than $11 million in ticket sales at T-Mobile Arena for the fourth-biggest gate total in the promotion’s history.

An eager sellout Vegas crowd showed up in person, with celebrities including Matthew McConaughey, Jeremy Renner and Dave Bautista, along with NFL stars Tom Brady, Christian McCaffrey, Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett and Jon Gruden.

Former bantamweight champion Holly Holm beat Raquel Pennington by unanimous decision in the penultimate bout of UFC 246. The 38-year-old Holm (13-5) had lost five of her seven fights since she memorably knocked out Ronda Rousey in November 2015.

On the undercard, 37-year-old flyweight Roxanne Modafferi pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent UFC history with a one-sided decision victory over previously unbeaten 21-year-old Maycee Barber, the UFC’s top 125-pound prospect.

Barber (8-1) injured her left knee during the bout, but Modafferi (24-16) was already dominating with the superior jiu-jitsu she has been practicing for Barber’s entire life. Modafferi was the biggest betting underdog on the UFC 246 card, facing 10-to-1 odds at some sports books.

Aleksei Oleinik, a 42-year-old heavyweight who made his pro debut in 1996, also beat Maurice Greene by submission in the second round.