Madison Keys, Daniil Medvedev get first titles in Cincinnati

Madison Keys of the US, left frame, and Daniil Medvedev of Russia display their trophies at the Western & Southern Open in in Mason, Ohio on August 18, 2019. Keys defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in the women's final and Medvedev beat David Goffin of Belgium in the men's final. (AFP photos)
Updated 19 August 2019
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Madison Keys, Daniil Medvedev get first titles in Cincinnati

  • Keys beat Svetlana Kuznetsova for her second title of the season and easily the biggest of her career
  • None of the Big Four — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray — made it to the final

MASON, Ohio: Two unexpected champions embraced their first Rookwood championship trophies, concluding a week that brought more questions than clarity to the upcoming US Open.
Who’s going to be healthy on the women’s side? Will stumbles in the men’s bracket at the Western & Southern Open carry over to New York?
And are Madison Keys and Daniil Medvedev capable of carrying their newfound momentum into a Grand Slam event? After winning the biggest tournament title of their careers, they were already getting asked about how it might transfer to the bigger stage.
Keys rallied late in both sets and beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 7-6 (5) Sunday for her second title of the season and easily the biggest of her career. After flameouts in her last three tournaments and a tough draw for the week, she couldn’t imagine the outcome.
Back on the court to receive the trophy , she told the crowd: “If you told me this is where I would be a week ago, I would have laughed in your face!“
Yet there she was, back in the Top 10 on a surprising upswing heading to New York.
She’ll move up to the No. 10 ranking after a gritty showing that was typical of her week. She broke Kuznetsova to pull even in both sets at 5-5 and then pulled them out with a steady serve.
Keys hadn’t made it past the second round in her last three tournaments, including Wimbledon. Now she’s got a good feeling with her favorite Grand Slam event at hand.
“It’s definitely a great building block,” Keys said. “I want to do well in New York and have a good end to the season.”
At 34, Kuznetsova was the oldest finalist in the Western & Southern Open’s history. She beat three top-10 players in a tournament — Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova and Ashleigh Barty — for the first time in her 19-year career.
The 153rd-ranked player got a late start on the season as she completed a seven-month recovery from a knee injury. In her ninth tournament of the season, she got her game together and got her best result in two years.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to be so good at this tournament,” she said.
After what happened in Cincinnati during the week, nobody knows what to expect in the women’s bracket in New York.
Serena Williams dropped out of Cincinnati because of back spasms that also forced her to withdraw from the final in Toronto. Naomi Osaka, the defending US Open champion, withdrew from her semifinal match on Friday with discomfort in her left knee that left her worried about her condition heading to New York.
There’s some intrigue on the men’s side, too.
The bracket in Cincinnati was billed as a reunion of the Big Four — Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray back together for the first time since January. None of them made it to the final.
Nadal won the Rogers Cup last Sunday and withdrew from the Western & Southern, citing fatigue. Murray played singles for the first time since hip surgery in January and lost his opening match. Seven-time champion Federer was knocked out in the quarterfinals, and Djokovic lost to Medvedev in the semifinals with the crowd cheering him on.
The Russian thanked the crowd for its support after beat David Goffin 7-6 (3), 6-4 for his first Masters 1000 title Sunday. It was his third straight final, but the first time he’d won. Medvedev lost to Nadal on Montreal a week earlier, then went on to reach his sixth final of this season, most on the ATP tour. He’s won twice.
“To finally lift the trophy this week is an amazing feeling,” Medvedev said.
At age 23, he became the youngest Cincinnati champion since Murray at age 21 in 2008.
“Congratulations,” Goffin told him, “and I think you’re ready for New York.”


Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

Updated 19 September 2019

Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

  • Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye

PARIS: No Neymar. No Kylian Mbappe. No problem.
With two first-half goals from Angel Di Maria and a rare late strike from right-back Thomas Meunier, a new-look Paris Saint-Germain missing its headline stars brushed aside a flat Real Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League to go top of Group A in an impressive start to its European campaign on Wednesday. 
Di Maria, a Champions League winner with Madrid in 2014, was rampant against his former club, using phenomenal speed and clever placing to torment a Madrid defense sorely missing the suspended Sergio Ramos.
The Argentine's first goal poked past Thibaut Courtois' near post in the 14th minute was his 25th in 100 European matches.
Some of PSG's new recruits were instrumental in the victory. Idrissa Gueye, bought from Everton, bossed the midfield.
Di Maria's opener originated with Mauro Icardi, a late loan-signing from Inter Milan. He linked up smartly with left-back Juan Bernat, who then found Di Maria in space in the box with a swift cut-back pass.
Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye.
Di Maria caressed a pinpoint shot with his left foot from long range past the outstretched Courtois and celebrated enthusiastically as Paris fans lit red flares.
Gareth Bale thought he'd got a goal back moments later with a sweet volley over former Madrid teammate Keylor Navas, bought by Paris to provide added assurance behind the suffocating PSG defense that snuffed out Madrid at the Parc des Princes.
But referee Anthony Taylor spotted on video replay that the Wales winger had touched the ball with his right arm as he juggled it from his left foot to his right one before shooting.
Meunier's goal in second-half injury time was only his sixth in 48 European matches. Bernat's pass set up the strike. Up in the posh seats, the suspended Neymar and Mbappe, recovering from injury, chuckled together at the sight of the full-backs combining to score. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane scowled.
Zidane lamented the lack of urgency from his side that had zero shots on target other than Bale's disallowed goal and another disallowed for offside in the second half.
"It was a weird sensation," he said, speaking through a translator. "We hardly ever got into the match."
Zidane refrained from singling out any player, saying "it's everybody's fault when we lose."
But James Rodriguez, back from Bayern Munich, was particularly ineffective. And Eden Hazard, bought from Chelsea, looked ring-rusty as he makes his way back from injury. A trademark dribble in the PSG area in the second half ended with Hazard tripping over himself and landing on his backside.
Zidane replaced them both with 20 minutes to play.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, had no problem singling out Gueye for praise. He clicked with Marco Verratti and the deeper-lying Marquinhos in the PSG midfield that purred as if they'd played together for years.
"He's a machine. He never stops, never stops running," Tuchel said. "Against a team like Madrid, that is super-important."
Tuchel suggested the absence of Neymar, Mbappe and PSG's record scorer Edinson Cavani, also recovering from injury, may have been a help rather than a hindrance.
Without them, outside observers figured PSG was unlikely to win, and that eased pressure on Tuchel's other players, the coach said.
When Neymar has served out the rest of his two-match ban, and Mbappe and Cavani are fit again, expectations will quickly rise in the wake of this humbling of Madrid that showed the strength in depth of PSG's expensively assembled team.
But PSG knows from bitter experience how hard the road will become in the Champions League, having failed to get beyond the quarterfinals since the club's wealthy Qatari owners took over in 2011.
Tuchel was eager to tamp down any buzz.
"If someone asks me if we are going to win the Champions League, I'm leaving," he said.