Friday, July 20, 2018
Sports

Serena scrambles to survive, advance to semis; Djokovic romps

PARIS — Serena Williams' chest was heaving between points. Her footwork wasn't quite right. Miscue followed miscue, until she was a set and a break down in the French Open quarterfinals.

But as she so often does, Williams came through, moving closer to a record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam title by figuring out a way to beat Yulia Putintseva 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 Thursday.

"I kept missing. Just misfiring. Honestly, at one point I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel," the defending champion said. "I guess I was not the most positive mentally, but obviously I didn't want to stop."

How close was she to her earliest exit at a major since Wimbledon in 2014? Putintseva, who is from Kazakhstan and ranked 60th, twice was a point from serving for the biggest victory of her career.

"I honestly didn't think I was going to win that in the second set," said Williams, who faces another unseeded opponent, 58th-ranked Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, in the semifinals today. "Somehow I did."

Putintseva, who at 21 is 13 years younger than Williams, scrambled to nearly every ball and threw her 5-foot-4 frame into deep groundstrokes. The turning point came at 4-all in the second set, when Putintseva held two break points. Convert either and she would have been ahead 5-4 and serving for the match.

"The match was very close — and very far — from being on my side," Putintseva said.

Williams overcame not only a relentless competitor in Putintseva but also her own shakiness on a cloudy, chilly day that included a brief rain delay.

"The rallies were very long and very tough," said Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, who used to work with Putintseva. "She is not used to (this) in matches. Usually after four, five shots, the point is over."

And Williams must put in more work today against Bertens, who like Putintseva has a tendency to extend points.

There is no rest for the weary at this wet-as-can-be French Open. If Williams gets to Saturday's final, it will be her fourth consecutive day of play. The top-seeded man, Novak Djokovic, already will reach that total — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, today — when he meets No. 13 Dominic Thiem in their semi­final.

"The way that the schedule has been going on in the second week," Djokovic said, "(there) is not much time to really reflect on what you have done."

The other men's semifinal is Andy Murray against defending champion Stan Wawrinka. Their quarterfinals were Wednesday.

Djokovic beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. Thiem ousted David Goffin 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, 6-1.

The most noteworthy moment of Djokovic's victory: Angered by missing a shot, he tried to spike his racket, but it flew out of his right hand and sailed not far from where a line judge stood. Djokovic was issued a warning.

"I was lucky there," he said.

Comments
Martin Fennelly: Rays and Marlins at different stages of same mission

Martin Fennelly: Rays and Marlins at different stages of same mission

ST. PETERSBURG — New York Yankees god and former Tampa resident Derek Jeter, who was once going to save the Rays (or so we thought), was at Tropicana Field on Friday night. The Captain had the gall to show up as Miami Marlins chief executive of...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Dolphins owner: Actually, we haven’t decided whether to levy anthem penalties

Dolphins owner: Actually, we haven’t decided whether to levy anthem penalties

Times wiresThe NFL can't seem to get away from the divisive national anthem issue.The latest developments this week assure that, despite the league's wishes, the debate about how to handle players who kneel during the anthem to protest police violenc...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Rays journal: Replacement catcher Adam Moore ready to play

Rays journal: Replacement catcher Adam Moore ready to play

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest Rays player is also nearly the oldest.With All-Star C Wilson Ramos on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, Tampa Bay turned to veteran Adam Moore, 34, as the new backup catcher behind Jesus Sucre. Only reliever...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Late rally falls short as Rays lose to Marlins, 6-5

Late rally falls short as Rays lose to Marlins, 6-5

ST. PETERSBURG –The Rays rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth Friday night, but their rally came up short as the Marlins held on for a 6-5 win at Tropicana Field.Tampa Bay's bullpen gave up five runs in the seventh, and that was too...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Sports on TV/radio for Saturday, July 21

TODAYAction sportsX Games1 p.m.ABCXGames7 p.m.ESPNArena FootballWashington at Albany7:30 p.m.CBSSNAutosF1: German Grand Prix qualifying8:55 a.m.ESPN2Xfinity: Lakes Region 200 qualifying11 a.m.CNBCXfinity: Lakes Region 2004 p.m.NBCSNNHRA: Mile High Na...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Kiermaier has ‘severe bone bruise’ in foot, dates back to April injury

Kiermaier has ‘severe bone bruise’ in foot, dates back to April injury

Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier left Friday's game in the fifth inning when an injury to his right foot that has bothered him since April flared up with the worst pain he's encountered this season.Kiermaier called the injury a "severe bone bruise" an...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Greg Auman’s takeaways from Friday’s Rays-Marlins game

Greg Auman’s takeaways from Friday’s Rays-Marlins game

Nathan Eovaldi bounced back nicely following an eight-out, eight-run outing last week vs. the Twins. He lasted six innings, gave up one run and struck out eight. Take away the Twins game and Eovaldi has allowed three earned runs in his past four star...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier leaves game with foot discomfort

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier leaves game with foot discomfort

Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who missed two months earlier this season with a thumb injury, left Friday night's game against the Marlins with what the team described as "right foot discomfort."It wasn't immediately clear when the injury occurred,...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs, Jensen reach out to fans as training camp approaches

Bucs, Jensen reach out to fans as training camp approaches

SARASOTA — The backdrop at University Park Country Club had a larger-than-life image of Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with one of the team's slogans for 2018: "JOIN THE KREWE."New Bucs center Ryan Jensen was on hand for a luncheon hosted b...
Updated: 6 hours ago
For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

For starters: Rays open second half at home vs. Marlins

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where the Rays come out of the All-Star break with a three-game series against the Marlins. Here's the lineup for Tampa Bay, which dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami:Kiermaier CFHechavarria SSBauers 1BRoberts...
Updated: 6 hours ago