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Did Serena Williams Win? Another U.S. Open Run

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On Wednesday, Serena Williams won against Tsvetana Pironkova, allowing her to reach the semi-finals round against her friend and rival, Victoria Azarenka. Winning the upcoming semi-finals would bring Williams to the championship match, permitting her to accumulate 24 single major titles as Margaret Court who has the same number of wins.

Making a huge comeback during the 2020 ASB Classic after being on maternity leave, Williams won against Jessica Pegula in the finals. During last Wednesday’s United States Open quarter-finals, top-seeded Williams nearly succumbed to unseeded Pironkova’s line. Incidentally, unseeded Pironkova is also unranked, playing her first ever tour after her inactivity of more than three years. Even Williams who is 38 years old, has not been away for that long.

32-year-old Pironkova, a Bulgarian veteran, made headlines due to her ecstatic rhythm. Some even liken her moves to the popular song, Bohemian Rhapsody with its ever-changing tempo and eclectic vocal crescendos. Giving birth to her son, Alexander, in April 2018, she was allegedly unsure of returning to the game. Nonetheless, she nearly made an enormous victory on Wednesday had Williams not butted her out of the game by winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

“It just shows me how tough moms are,” asserts Williams who has a 3-year-old daughter herself named Olympia. “Whenever you can give birth to a baby, honestly you can do anything. And I think we saw that with Tsvetana today,” she adds, admitting that she nearly lost the match to a worthy counterpart.

Nevertheless, bagging the quarter-finals match brings Williams to the semi-finals round, facing Victoria Azarenka on Thursday.

Consequently, Azarenka and Williams met in two consecutive US Open finals, in 2012 and in 2013. During both games, Williams won the matches and led their series, 18-4.

Previously, Williams and her coach Patrick Mouratoglou saw Azarenka as Williams’ biggest rival and threat. Azarenka beat Williams during the 2016 BNP Paribas Open finals that occurred in Indian Wells, California and even went on to win the Miami Open, permitting her to accomplish the famous Sunshine Double.

Nonetheless, Azarenka soon became pregnant and had to temporarily leave the tour. She returned to playing in 2017 but was often caught up with her personal problems due to a lengthy custody battle over Leo, her son, who is now 3 years old.

Both Williams and Azarenka are friends, having been reported to exchange notes and visits in 2017 right before Williams found herself pregnant which prompted her to leave the tour as well. They played against each other again last year, having Williams win the match with scores of 7-5, 6-3. For her part, though, Azarenka won the quarter-finals against Elise Mertens with scores of 6-1, 6-0 on Wednesday.

“Can it get any better? For me, it can’t. I’m so excited about it. An amazing opportunity to play against a champion, someone I respect a lot who is my friend,” says Azarenka, referring to their match-up with Williams. 

Basketball

Los Angeles Lakers Lead 2-1 Past Trail Blazers

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Los Angeles superstars Anthony Davis and LeBron James lead the Lakers to another win against the Trail Blazers on Saturday night. Through a stunning performance of dominating defense, the Lakers now lead Portland 2-1.

Power Plays

The Lakers defeated the high-scoring Trail Blazers in two straight games after a roaring James scored 38 points, made 12 rebounds, and eight assists, combined with Davis’ 29 points, 23 of which were scored in the second half. The game ended at 116-108 in favor of LA, who is now starting to look like the best team in the West.

As the Lakers rallied to conquer Game 2, Anthony Davis stepped up to the plate and shared a message to his teammate. “I told LeBron at half I’ve got to take some of the pressure off of him,” said Davis.

Portland has been outstripped of its number one spot after losing Game 1 to Los Angeles. The second game is the Trail Blazers’ highest-scoring game in the series, yet the effort wasn’t enough to overcome the impressive performance of the Lakers.

Scoring Points

Damian Lillard raked in 34 points even with a dislocated finger, and CJ McCollum contributed 28 points for Portland. The Trail Blazers tweaked their lineup, playing a big starting five with Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic. This strategy kicked-off a great first quarter for Portland as they managed to ease through the second quarter with a lead. McCollum scored 13 points in the quarter, capped with a three-pointer at the buzzer ending the first half at 57-53.

James continued to execute 5 for 6 for 15 within an eight-minute period in the second quarter, preventing the Trail Blazers from outscoring the Lakers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and James added a total of 12 consecutive points to pull the lead down to six at 70-64. Davis answered back with three straight jumpers and a dunk, tieing the game at 72. 

Los Angeles went on a shooting spree with a 10 to nothing run that easily ranked up the scoring to 89-78 as they entered the fourth quarter leading by seven points. 

Catching Up

The Trail Blazers quickly caught up and were only down by three in the fourth quarter with nine and a half minutes of playtime. But then, Davis re-entered the game all fired up, making perimeter shots and dunks, closing the period with 12 points.

A pressing defense handled the rest for the Lakers as the Trail Blazers were put off-track, making only three field goals in over seven minutes in the quarter. Los Angeles was able to escalate the lead to 109-98, with only over 2 minutes left in the game.

Everything came down to the fourth quarter, in which Lillard’s dislocated finger started to affect his ball-handling and shooting, causing the veteran to miss all four attempts from the three-point arch at the crucial last quarter. 

Where It Boils Down

Tery Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers’ coach, said, “It came down to a fourth-quarter game. Anthony Davis made his perimeter shots, and we came up empty too often.”

The Trail Blazers will attempt to make a comeback and even the series on Game 4.

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Baseball

Why The Braves Are Determined To Win Over Workman

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The Atlanta Braves rallied for a 6-5 win over Philadelphia on Saturday, disrupting the newly acquired Brandon Workman’s first match with the Phillies. Atlanta’s Adam Duvall scored the winning point after two outs and full bases, finishing the game with a back up the middle.

Workman set out charged for his first game with Philadelphia with one out and gave up a couple of runs. Matt Adams of the Braves quickly took advantage of the breach and finished a two-run double, leading to the Phillies to trail Atlanta by one point at 5-4.

“That’s not the first impression I’m trying to make, obviously,” Workman reiterates after a letting the Braves knock four hits and a run. 

Right before Adam Duvall’s winning run, a play by Didi Gregorius of Philadelphia was withdrawn after a video footage review. Gregorius pitched home from a grounder by Travis d’Arnaud. Umpire Chad Whitson already called safe on Alex Jackson upon reaching the plate. However, a review reveals that J.T. Realmuto tagged Jackson out.

What Happened

Bryce Harper knocked the second-longest home run of his career. His drive also made a record as the 2ndlongest homer at Truist Park. Harper pulled a strategic move by sacrificing in the ninth inning spared some time for Neil Walker to safely slide onto the plate, adding another point to the Phillies.

Mark Melancon, Braves’ closer, also performed blowing up the lead 2-0 with five save attempts. On the other hand, Philadelphia closer Hector Neris gave away two hits and a few scores to a run by Marcell Ozuna and an easy walk opening the eight.

Another walk was by Rhys Hoskins who was driven in by Harper’s second of the two-run hit off Robbie Erlin. The ball shot off the field at roughly 470 feet and descended straight into the seats at the stadium’s middle section’s right side.

Head-to-Head

The Phillies tried to get back in the game as Andrew McCutchen showed up for Philadelphia, going head to head with Atlanta’s Grant Dayton. Then again, Austin Riley cutback Phillies’ lead to 4-2 after a two-run hit off of Zack Wheeler, who allowed five hits in the game.

Wheeler had quite the strong start said, “I know our fans are struggling with it, but it’s baseball. It’s a hard game. I have trust in our bullpen.” He eventually gave up two runs within seven innings.

Dashed Hopes

This game is Philadelphia’s fifth consecutive loss this season, and sadly, the team has been in this position before. Phillies are falling under the rankings of the major league with an ERA of 7.59. The team has been hopeful for progress with the newest addition to the team through the role of Workman, who was traded into Philadelphia from Boston.

In Other News…

Philadelphia also recently acquired Heath Hembree and David Hale from trades held last Friday.

Atlanta currently leads the NL-East conference by winning five out of six games in the series.

Brian Snitker, Braves’ team manager, said that the win was “nerve-wracking, nail-biting, exciting” and “gut-wrenching.” Sadly for the fans, they were not permitted to physically be present on the stands this season due to the pandemic.

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Basketball

Why The Rockets Are Upset

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The Houston Rockets were completely thrown off postgame by an offensive foul call on Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul because of a physical incident that happened at overtime. 

Oklahoma was leading by 11 points late into overtime, with 1 minute and 20 seconds left on the clock when an offensive foul was called against Paul for throwing an elbow below the belt of the Rockets’ small forward, Ben McLemore, while he was trying to create some space to make a jump shot.

The Rockets lost Game 3 by 12 points at 119-107. Although further review from the officials would not have changed how the game ended, the Rockets were particularly vocal about their disappointment on how the situation was handled by the officiating crew. 

Review Denied 

After an initial call for an offensive was made, Houston coach Mike D’Antoni requested the game officials to re-evaluate and escalate as necessary since the view from the Rockets bench seemed as if it was a flagrant foul. However, the crew did not submit to his appeal. 

He also did not receive any explanation from the officiating crew on the lack of further review. D’Antoni’s negative reaction towards the call got him a technical, which further added to the outburst happening on the court.

In a postgame interview, D’Antoni was asked if he thought there was any chance the NBA management would intervene to review the sequence and impose disciplinary actions. However, he said that he was not certain. 

D’Antoni claims to have just asked the referee to go over and review it. He accedes that they might have been right. Despite the unclarity, he says he knows his guy got hit in a bad place with an elbow, so management ought to look at it.

Houston star James Harden had a pretty good sight of the incident as he was seated close by from the sideline also expressed his view. “I saw what happened. Any time that happens, it should be reviewed, especially when it’s not around a lot of people.”

Harden pointed out, “Especially if somebody gets hit in their private area. We ain’t got anywhere to go, so it should have been reviewed. It wasn’t, and I don’t know why not.”

Intentional or Unintentional?

Nobody from the Rockets side claims that it was intentional, although they deem it proper for the sequence to be reviewed as it happened during a crucial part of the game.

Paul, on the other hand, clarified that the incident was completely unintentional, and it was just a physicality brought by the game as he was trying to get around McLemore.

Paul claims it was incidental and that it was a long time ago. He claims to have checked on Ben who was doing fine at the time.

What to Expect 

The series between the Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder are getting more heated and unexpectedly full of action. The Rockets currently lead the playoff series 2-1. 

With this new controversy concerning star player Chris Paul, everyone is anticipating the intensity of Game 4 on Monday as Oklahoma is looking to tie the series.

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