Saturday, November 25, 2017
Sports

Venus falls fast on clay

RECOMMENDED READING


PARIS — Grimacing after some poor shots, leaning forward with hands on knees while catching her breath after others, Venus Williams left the French Open after the first round for the first time since 2001.

Williams, 32, is a seven-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player seeded 30th at Roland Garros. But Sunday, she felt hampered by a bad back, had problems with her serve — all sorts of strokes, actually — and lost 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 to 40th-ranked Urszula Radwanska of Poland.

Inflammation in her lower back limited Williams to two matches over 1½ months, preparation she called, with a chuckle, "extremely un-ideal."

"I can't really serve very hard. It's painful when I do that. But I'm getting better. I just, you know, ran out of time to get better for this tournament," said Williams, broken on 11 of her 17 service games. "My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that's very difficult for me, too, because that's not who I am. But that's all I had."

Last year she lost in the second round at Roland Garros to Radwanska's older sister, Agnieszka.

"Yeah, of course, I was talking with Aga about Venus," said Urszula, who never has been past the second round of a major. "I was well-prepared for this match, and I knew she was a great fighter, so I should be focused the whole match."

Williams' sister Serena made a fluent return to the Parisian clay, overwhelming Anna Tatishvili 6-0, 6-1 — then addressing an appreciative audience at Court Philippe Chatrier in French.

Magnifique!

"I have been speaking French for years and years, but I don't really have a lot of confidence," Serena said later, in English. "It's way, way more nerve-racking than playing tennis."

The only other seeded player ousted on Day 1 was No. 11 Nadia Petrova, who lost 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Monica Puig.

On the men's side, 17-time major champion Roger Federer won 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 over Pablo Carreno Busta, who made his Grand Slam debut. No. 4 David Ferrer, No. 14 Milos Raonic and American Sam Querrey, the No. 18 seed, also advanced.

In an encounter filled with momentum swings, No. 15 Gilles Simon of France overcame a two-set deficit for the first time in his career to edge Lleyton Hewitt 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5.

Hewitt, 32, was asked whether he'll be back at the French Open and replied, "Don't know. Haven't even thought about it."

A similar question was put to Venus Williams after her match lasted 3 hours, 19 minutes. She sounded bothered by the topic.

"If it's the last match, I'll let you know," she answered. "That's pretty much how it works."

Comments

No. 7 Florida finishes No. 17 Gonzaga in 2OT; No. 1 Duke up next for Gators

PORTLAND, Ore. — Jalen Hudson scored a career-high 35, including eight 3-pointers, and No. 7 Florida downed No. 17 Gonzaga 111-105 in double overtime Friday night at the PK80 Invitational. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza added a career-high 26 poin...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Region football: Plant 13, Lakeland 10

Region football: Plant 13, Lakeland 10

LAKELAND — The game — and the season — were supposed to be over.Lakeland was set to exact revenge. The Dreadnaughts had the lead and the ball in the final three minutes and were heading for a field goal. Then it happened. The magic continued.Plant’s ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Region football: Venice 48, Tampa Bay Tech 17

VENICE — Tampa Bay Tech not only had to stop a hot receiver in Friday night’s Class 7A region final against Venice, but a hot running back as well. That proved to be too much.Indians receiver Jaivon Heiligh caught 14 passes for 193 yards and three to...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Region football: Armwood 31, Ocala Vanguard 17

SEFFNER — Armwood appeared to be on its way to yet another rout through the first 24 minutes of football Friday night.James Miller delivered a crunching hit on the opening kickoff. The defense looked suffocating, holding Ocala Vanguard to a mere 23 y...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Region football: Immokalee 42, Lakewood 14

IMMOKALEE — The final score wasn’t truly indicative of what transpired on Friday night.Lakewood fell to a dynamic Immokalee squad 42-14 in a tough environment in a Class 5A region final.The Spartans (9-2) forced three turnovers and held Immokalee (12...
Updated: 8 hours ago
State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

CLEARWATER — Stocked with a wealth of Division I-A commits and prepared by a heavy-duty schedule, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna spent three months building for Friday night’s Class 3A state semifinal game.The Lions played at another level against top-s...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rose leaves Cavs for ‘personal matter’

Rose leaves Cavs for ‘personal matter’

CLEVELAND — Derrick Rose’s injuries might have pushed him to a breaking point. The 2011 league MVP, who has been trying to revive his career with the Cavaliers, left the team Wednesday to handle a personal matter. A team spokesman said Friday that Ro...
Updated: 8 hours ago

State semifinal football: Hialeah Champagnat Catholic 38, Cambridge Christian 0

TAMPA — Hialeah Champagnat Catholic was well on its way to a third unanswered touchdown, but the Lions just couldn’t stop blocking their own path. In one second-quarter drive during Friday’s 2A state semifinal against Cambridge Christian, Champagnat ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON — You don’t often sense frustration in captain Steven Stamkos’ voice, at least not this season. With the Lightning off to its best start in franchise history, there haven’t been many reasons to chide. Every criticism seems nitpicky. But af...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Hogs boot Bielema out after five seasons

Hogs boot Bielema out after five seasons

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas fired football coach Bret Bielema after five disappointing seasons, moments after a season-ending 48-45 loss to Missouri on Friday. Arkansas finished 4-8, capping the second losing season of Bielema’s 12-year career. He ...
Updated: 9 hours ago