TENNIS: The final step up to No. 1 was simply too big for Angelique Kerber – this time, anyway.
The world’s second-ranked player wasted a chance to end Serena Williams’ long run at the top. She fell behind at the outset, repeatedly missed routine shots and fell to Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-1 in the championship match Sunday at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio.
On the men’s side, Andy Murray also ran out of steam in the title match. He fell to Marin Cilic 6-4, 7-5, ending his career-best winning streak at 22 matches.
More was at stake on the women’s side. Williams will be ranked No. 1 for the 184th consecutive week, two shy of Steffi Graf’s WTA record that ended in 1997. And Kerber will remain right behind after her frustrating performance on Sunday, hoping for another chance.
“Everybody’s talking about that,” Kerber said. “If someday it happens, it happens, but I will not be making too much pressure on this. I’ve had such a great year so far and it’s not over yet.”
Williams, the two-time defending champion in Cincinnati, missed the tournament because of a sore shoulder, giving Kerber the opening to move ahead of her by winning the title. She was tired at the end of three hectic weeks that included an Olympic silver medal in Rio de Janeiro.
It was the biggest win of Pliskova’s career, the 24-year-old Czech’s first title in a premier tournament. She broke Kerber to open the match and won 17 of the first 24 points with shots that were right on the line in windy conditions. Pliskova had only six unforced errors during the 62-minute match.
Murray won his second Olympic gold medal in a four-hour match against Juan Martin del Potro in Rio de Janeiro last Sunday, flew directly to Cincinnati, caught a nasty head cold, and struggled to get through the week as his worn-out body repeatedly tightened up.
“I’m very proud of this week,” Murray said. “Obviously today didn’t go how I would have wanted. I certainly didn’t expect to get to the final when I got here. It was a very, very positive week. I’m looking forward to a few days’ rest.”
West Ham earns first win at Olympic site
SOCCER: The first Premier League game staged at the centerpiece stadium of the London Olympics in 2012 served up some late drama, with new tenant West Ham scoring in the 85th minute to earn a 1-0 win over 10-man Bournemouth.
Track-and-field stars like Usain Bolt and David Rudisha produced some amazing memories at the Olympic Stadium – now known simply as London Stadium – four years ago, but this match was forgettable until a flurry of incidents in the latter stages.
Milan wins opener: Carlos Bacca scored a hat trick and 17-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved a penalty in added time as AC Milan opened its Italian League season in dramatic style with a 3-2 win over Torino and former coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
Good start for Real Madrid: Gareth Bale scored twice to help Real Madrid make a winning start to the Spanish league with a convincing 3-0 victory at Real Sociedad.
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