Empty stands has been the new normal for tennis since last year due to COVID-19 restrictions but top men’s players like Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic said they still find it difficult to maintain their intensity during matches in the absence of fans. The professional circuit was shut down for several months last year before tournament organisers set up ‘biosecure bubbles’ for players and support staff while keeping fans away from stadiums. Barring the swing in Australia in February, tournaments continue to be played in front of a handful of fans at most.
David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall scored in a 50-second span bridging the first and second periods Friday night and goalie Jeremy Swayman recorded his first NHL shutout as the host Boston Bruins completed a two-game sweep of the New York Islanders with a 3-0 win. Curtis Lazar added an empty-netter with 1:12 left for the Bruins, who have won three straight since acquiring Hall and Lazar from the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
Bubba Wallace’s first campaign with first-year team 23XI Racing hasn’t quite had the results in its set-sail season that have dazzled on paper. The magic number right now seems to be 16, his finishing position in three of the eight NASCAR Cup Series races so far this year. What has been encouraging has been the […]
Lewis Hamilton claimed his 99th career pole position in qualifying Saturday for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez starting alongside the seven-time world champion’s Mercedes at Imola.
Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek both collected one goal and two assists to pace the visiting Vegas Golden Knights to a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday. Mark Stone and Alex Tuch netted one goal and one assist apiece in the win, and Chandler Stephenson and Alex Pietrangelo added goals as the Golden Knights won their fourth straight game.
World number two Daniil Medvedev of Russia has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been withdrawn from this week’s Monte Carlo Masters, the ATP said on Tuesday. Medvedev, who was seeded second behind top-ranked Novak Djokovic at the ATP Masters 1000 event on clay, has been put in isolation and is being monitored, the men’s tennis governing body said in a statement. “It’s a big disappointment not to play in Monte-Carlo,” said the 25-year-old Medvedev.
“I will just have to park that and go again”, said the British No 1 Dan Evans, after a chastening 6-2, 6-1 defeat at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas had brought his career-best run in Monte Carlo to a slightly deflating end. Evans admitted that he had been “outclassed” by the relentless Tsitsipas, who pummelled winners from all angles while also knowing exactly how to counteract Evans’s favourite ploys. But Evans was still proud of his run to the semi-finals of the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters – as indeed he should be, when you consider that no Briton had reached the last four of a Masters 1000 event since Andy Murray’s last great season of 2016. The peak was clearly Evans’s victory over world No 1 Novak Djokovic on Thursday. But he also eliminated three other strong players in Dusan Lajovic, Hubert Hurkacz and David Goffin. He took a slightly different approach in each match, making up for his relative lack of size and power with enormous tactical acuity – until Tsitsipas put a stop to that with an almost faultless display on Saturday. Evans’ gutsy efforts this week were all the more praiseworthy because he had arrived in Monte Carlo on a streak of four agonising defeats in a row – all of them close and all on hard courts, which usually suit his game better. As it happened, though, he found that the lack of expectation on clay – a surface on which he had previously won only two tour-level matches in his entire career – helped to loosen his arm. “Maybe at the grand slams, on the hard [courts], I’ve been putting a bit too much pressure on myself,” said Evans, who will match his career-best ranking of No 26 when the next chart comes out on Monday. “When I come out on the clay, I’m more focused on my game and trying to get that right, then the result comes. There’s things to take onto the grass and the hard from this week definitely.” One other admirable feature of Evans’s 2021 has been his refusal – in contrast to so many of his peers – to bemoan the difficulties caused by the pandemic. “I’ve not been home since before Australia [in early January], but I’m really enjoying being out and playing matches,” said Evans, who will team up with a new coach next week in Argentina’s Sebastian Prieto. “Wearing a mask is not such a big thing. We’ve not really had lockdowns or whatnot. We’ve been lucky in a sense. “It’s really helped playing doubles with Neal [Skupski], to have a good friend here. I’ve got my girlfriend [Aleah] with me too. There’s been a lot of issues in the world, and it’s been nice to be able to forget about it.” Katie Boulter takes Great Britain to victory over Mexico in Billie Jean King Cup By Simon Briggs Katie Boulter was once again the driving force for Great Britain as they clinched a 3-1 win over Mexico, thus moving one step closer to next year’s Billie Jean King Cup finals. After a lamentable performance from Heather Watson, who had contrived to lose to the world No285 in the day’s opening rubber, Boulter landed some crushing blows to close out the tie and take her personal record in this competition to nine wins from ten matches played. There are few sights in tennis more satisfying than a player who can hit through her opponent with sheer power, ripping each ball without compromise and creating a sound like cannon-fire echoing around the hall. Boulter has committed to all-out attack in both her matches this weekend, first obliterating Marcela Zacarias in the second set of her 7-5, 6-0 win on Friday and then delivering a near-exact repeat against Guiliana Olmos on Saturday. The scoreline this time was 6-4, 6-1.