Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

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Serena Williams serves the ball to Kristie Ahn during their women's singles first round tennis match on Day 2 of French Open tennis tournament in Paris on Sept.28, 2020. (AFP)
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Spain’s Rafael Nadal after winning his second round match against Mackenzie McDonald of the US. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 October 2020

Injured Serena withdraws from French Open; Nadal cruises

  • The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match

PARIS: Serena Williams suffered another blow in her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title as the American withdrew from the French Open on Wednesday with an Achilles injury, while 12-time champion Rafael Nadal raced into the third round.

The 39-year-old Williams, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, pulled out ahead of her second round match against Tsvetana Pironkova citing the injury that prompted her to skip the Rome tuneup event.

“The Achilles didn't have enough time to heal after the US Open,” said Williams, who admitted last week she was not fully fit after her run to the semifinals in New York.

“I'm struggling to walk, so that's kind of a telltale sign that I should try to recover.”

The injury likely means she will miss the rest of 2020, leaving the Australian Open in 2021 as her next chance to equal Margaret Court's all-time majors record.

Nadal looked in ominous form as he stepped up his pursuit of Roger Federer's 20 major titles with a crushing win over 236th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald.

The Spaniard batted aside McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in exactly 100 minutes and will meet Japan's Kei Nishikori or Stefano Travaglia of Italy for a spot in the last 16.

“The aim was to play as well as possible. I'm very happy. I have another difficult match next,” said Nadal. The 34-year-old needs one more major to pull level with long-time rival Federer and owns an astonishing 95-2 record in Paris going back to his triumph on debut in 2005.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem swept into the third round with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) victory over American qualifier Jack Sock, saving three set points to close out the match.

The Austrian third seed will play Norway's Casper Ruud, seeded 28th, or American Tommy Paul for a place in the last 16.

“I'm very happy with my game in the first two rounds. It was not an easy draw at all and I'm very happy not to drop a set,” said Thiem, who defeated 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic in round one.

Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens had to be taken off court in a wheelchair after a fiery win over former finalist Sara Errani.

Bertens triumphed 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 9-7 in a three-hour 11-minute clash which left her in cramps and Italian Errani screaming an obscenity as she left the court.

"After one hour, she's injured but then she's running around like never before," said Errani.

"She leaves the court in a chair and now she's in the locker room and eating in the restaurant, perfect. She exaggerated."

Bertens is due to meet Katerina Siniakova next while Elina Svitolina overcame Mexican qualifier Renata Zarazua 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

The Ukrainian third seed is coming off a title at Strasbourg last week and will next play Russian 27th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, but was briefly taken aback by a sonic boom.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open winner, followed up his demolition of Andy Murray with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 defeat of Germany's Dominik Koepfer.

Sebastian Korda, the son of 1992 Roland Garros runner-up and 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, also progressed after a four-sets victory over fellow American John Isner.


Newspaper apologizes for racist comment about Barça’s Fati

Updated 22 October 2020

Newspaper apologizes for racist comment about Barça’s Fati

  • ABC journalist Salvador Sostres wrote that ‘Ansu when running has something of a gazelle, or a very young, black street vendor running’ away from police
  • Teammate Antoine Griezmann: ‘Ansu is an exceptional young man who deserves the same respect as any human being — no to racism and no to bad manners’

BARCELONA, Spain: Barcelona player Ansu Fati received an apology in a Spanish newspaper on Thursday for being profiled racially by one of its journalists.
ABC journalist Salvador Sostres wrote of Barcelona’s win over Ferencvaros on Tuesday that “Ansu when running has something of a gazelle, or a very young, black street vendor running” away from police.
Teammate Antoine Griezmann was one of many readers who denounced the description by Sostres in a message on Twitter: “Ansu is an exceptional young man who deserves the same respect as any human being. No to racism and no to bad manners.”
ABC published an apology by Sostres on Thursday.
“My intention was to praise the beauty of Ansu’s movement and his talent as a very young player,” Sostres wrote. “Some expressions were understood as racist insults. Nothing was further from my intention, nor the very favorable opinion of the player that I have expressed in all the match reports I have written since his debut. I deeply lament the misunderstanding and I ask forgiveness if anyone has felt offended.”
Fati, who is Black, was born in Guinea Bissau and immigrated with his family to Spain when he was six years old. Now 17, he is one of Barcelona’s most promising players.
Barcelona says it was planning to sue the newspaper and journalist, but after Sostres’ apology it is reconsidering what course to take.