Serena falls to 116th-ranked Rogers at US Open tuneup

Serena Williams
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Updated 16 August 2020

Serena falls to 116th-ranked Rogers at US Open tuneup

  • Rogers, ranked 116th, outlasted ninth-ranked Williams 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) after two hours and seven minutes

WASHINGTON: Serena Williams suffered her first loss since 2012 to a rival outside the WTA’s top 100, falling to fellow American Shelby Rogers in a Friday quarterfinal at the Top Seed Open.

Rogers, ranked 116th, outlasted ninth-ranked Williams 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) after two hours and seven minutes, finishing the 23-time Grand Slam champion with a service winner.

“It’s every kid’s dream growing up to be able to do something like that,” Rogers said.

“Weird circumstances. Weird surroundings. But a win is a win.”

The US Open hardcourt tuneup event at Lexington, Kentucky, is being staged in a quarantine bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic that had kept Williams idle since a February Fed Cup appearance.

Top seed Williams had not lost to a player outside the top 100 since falling to France’s Virginie Razzano in the first round of the 2012 French Open.

Williams, who ousted sister Venus on Thursday, was playing matches to prepare for the US Open, which starts August 31. She will seek a seventh title on the New York hardcourts to match Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam crowns.

“I have only good things to take,” Williams said. “I can play a lot better.”

Rogers reached her first WTA semifinal since Rio in 2016. She’ll face 63rd-ranked Swiss left-hander Jil Teichmann, who ousted American Catherine Bellis 6-2, 6-4.

The other semifinal will send American Jen Brady — who ousted Czech Marie Bouzkova 6-1, 6-2 — against US teen Coco Gauff, who won 10 of the last 11 games to rally past Tunisian eighth seed Ons Jabeur 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

A rain delay of two hours and 45 minutes postponed her match, but Williams showed no sign the wait had put the 38-year-old mother off her game.

Williams broke for a 2-0 lead by forcing an errant Rogers backhand, broke again in the sixth game when Rogers netted a forehand and held on a service winner to claim the opening set after only 26 minutes.

“Definitely a little overwhelmed in the first with that pace,” Rogers said of Williams and her powerful serve. “Tried to hit a few more volleys in the second, just hit one more ball.”


Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold of Lakers

Updated 23 September 2020

Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold of Lakers

  • The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99

ORLANDO: Jamal Murray scored 28 points as the Denver Nuggets held off a ferocious late fightback from the Los Angeles Lakers to roar back into contention in the Western Conference finals series on Tuesday.

Murray nailed two crucial late three-pointers in the closing minutes as Denver held on for a 114-106 victory in game three to reduce the Lakers’ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

But the Nuggets — who looked in complete control for long periods of the contest — were given a mighty scare by the Lakers in a thrilling fourth quarter battle.

The Lakers had trailed by 20 points with just over 10 minutes remaining but whittled away the Denver lead to just three points with 3min 53sec left on the clock in Orlando.

But just as it looked as if LeBron James and Anthony Davis were poised to complete a remarkable comeback, Murray regrouped to take the game away from the Lakers.

The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99 and he then provided the assist for Paul Millsap to make it 108-99.

With less than a minute on the clock, Murray struck the dagger blow with a 29-foot three-point jumpshot to make it 111-99 and effectively seal victory.

Denver coach Michael Malone said his team — who had suffered an agonizing buzzer-beater defeat in game two on Sunday — were determined not to go 3-0 down in the series.

The Nuggets have already overturned 3-1 series deficits en route to the Western Conference finals.

“I had no doubt we were going to show up tonight,” Malone said.

“We have won six straight elimination games. Everybody always has us packing our bags and leaving, but we’re not ready to go. They’re a very resilient group and they have proved that time and time again.”

Asked about his late flourish, Murray said he had set out to lead by example.

“That’s my whole energy, my whole approach to the game, not getting down if I miss a couple of shots,” Murray said.

“I’m just trying to be aggressive ... but the most important part is the energy I bring when I’m talking to my team-mates, being a vocal leader, getting up and down and pushing everybody so they tend to follow. I just wanted to see them have a lot of fun today.”

The Lakers, meanwhile, were left reflecting on an uneven display which ultimately left James and Davis with too much to do.

James led the scoring with a triple double comprised of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, with six turnovers. Davis had 27 points, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (12) and Kyle Kuzma (11) the only other Lakers players to crack double figures.

Murray, who also had 12 assists, was backed with 26 points from Jerami Grant while Nikola Jokic weighed in with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

“You put yourself in an 18-point hole, it’s tough to climb out of that,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

“I thought Denver played with great energy throughout the game. We didn’t match it early, we matched it late. They’re a great basketball team so credit it to them for the win. They played a really good basketball game.

“We were not as sharp as we could have been on both ends of the floor. We were playing at a high level, but were a little bit off in the first half.

“But I liked the spirit that the guys competed with down the stretch to try and make it a game.”