Nadal returns, Djokovic looking for redemption in Rome

first_imgRafael Nadal returns to competition after a six-month enforced break while Novak Djokovic is looking to make up for his US Open disqualification as the short clay-court season got underway in Rome on Monday without spectators.The tournament at Rome’s Foro Italico normally takes place in May but was pushed back after the coronavirus pandemic which turned the calendar upside down.”Obviously, it’s not the same thing. There is no public, we are in a bubble, we cannot enjoy the city,” said Nadal, who will play his first competitive match since his win in Acapulco at the end of February. “But at least we have a tennis tournament.”Nadal, 34, is the second seed behind world number one Djokovic in the tune-up for the final Grand Slam of the season at the French Open on Sept.27.”Excited to be back. Circumstances have been, you know, heavy for everyone, tough ones,” said Nadal who is targeting a tenth title in the Roman capital. Professional tennis was shut down from March until early August.  And the world number two opted out of the US hard court tour because of coronavirus concerns and citing the “madness” of the new calendar. “Without regret,” he insisted before his second round tie midweek against 27th-ranked compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, who reached the semi-finals of the US Open.”I am similar to always, maybe a little bit worse because I didn’t compete for the last six months.”But here I am. I arrived with plenty of time to try to have the right practices. That’s what I am doing. I know I have a tough match against Pablo. He’s playing great.” “It’s going to be a good test. I’m excited about going back to the competition without big expectations.”But third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas does not believe the lack of competition will have an impact on two-time defending champion Nadal who has a 61-6 record in the tournament.”I don’t think Rafa will be struggling much playing here,” said Tsitsipas. “Regardless of how he feels, I’m sure he’ll find a way. He always finds a way every single year.”Four-time Rome winner Djokovic, who has reached nine finals in the Italian capital, wants to turn the page on his dramatic disqualification in the round of 16 at the US Open, after throwing the ball involuntarily at a lines judge. “It’s great that I have a tournament right after that happened, because I feel like the earlier I get back in a competition mode, the faster I’ll overcome that memory and kind of reprogram it,” the Serb told reporters in the Italian capital.”When you hit a ball like I did, you have a chance to hit someone on the court. The rules are clear, I accepted that. “I’m going to take this in, you know, as profound as possible for me as a big lesson.”Djokovic had been unbeaten this year before his US Open exit and is targeting a title he last won in 2015.”Rafa obviously decided to stay on clay and practice, surely that gives him more advantage, but even if he didn’t practice for that long on clay, he would still be the number one favorite in Roland Garros or any other clay tournament because he’s Rafa, you know,” he added. “And playing on clay he’s the ultimate challenge.”It’s going to be adjustment challenge, you know, how quickly can we adapt, how quickly can we adjust to this new surface.”The women’s tournament will be without Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty, who will not compete again this season because of coronavirus concerns.Serena Williams, suffering from an Achilles tendon problem, and US Open champion Naomi Osaka will also skip the Rome event.World number two Simona Halep, absent in the United States, will be the top seed.Czech Karolina Pliskova, seeded third, is the defending champion in Rome. center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Historic game for Gordon, Badgers ends in UW rout of Bowling Green

first_imgMelvin Gordon showed displeasure this past week towards his performance through two games this season for the Wisconsin football team.He is probably feeling much better after Saturday’s game.The redshirt junior’s historic day ended with 253 yards on 13 carries and five touchdowns as the Badgers (2-1) set an abundance of offensive records in a 68-17 rout of the Bowling Green Falcons (2-2) on Saturday Camp Randall Stadium.Tanner McEvoy started the scoring barrage for UW with a 24-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that would be only a precursor to what the Badgers’ rushing attack would do the rest of the game.However, it would take a quarter for the Badgers to really get going offensively. After Gordon lost a fumble for the first time in his career at the 11:41 mark of the first quarter, Bowling Green’s Fred Coppet rattled off a 35-yard touchdown run that tied the game at seven. The Badgers then responded on their very next drive with an 11-play, 70 yard drive that ended in Gordon’s first touchdown of the game that came on a two-yard run.Following a Bowling Green field goal that made it 14-10, the Badgers took just one offensive play to pull ahead 21-10 thanks to a 57-yard punt return from Kenzel Doe that set up a 34-yard touchdown pass from McEvoy to Sam Arneson.But the Falcons kept fighting and were only eight yards away from dropping the Badgers lead down to four at 21-17. Then third and goal, Wisconsin’s Lubern Figaro intercepted a pass from Bowling Green’s James Knapke that was tipped by Derek Landisch, and returned it 43 yards to the Wisconsin 43-yard line, ending the Bowling Green threat.Once the Badgers got the ball back after Figaro’s interception, the next four scoring drives for UW would end in Melvin Gordon touchdowns and Wisconsin would go on to score the next 44 points to blow open their lead.Three plays after the Figaro interception, Gordon scampered for fifty yards and added his second touchdown of the day that gave the Badgers a 27-10 lead with 11:18 remaining in the second quarter. The 50-yard run by Gordon put him over the 100-yard mark just 18 minutes and 42 seconds into the game.Wisconsin added to their total by scoring on their next drive, going 57 yards on 11 plays that once again ended with a Gordon touchdown run. This one was from three yards out and put Wisconsin in the driver’s seat at 34-10 with just over five minutes left until halftime. One final 21-yard rushing touchdown from Gordon, who showed off his elusiveness on the run, in the second quarter gave the Badgers a commanding 41-10 lead as they went into halftime.Gordon finished the first half with 179 yards on only eleven carries with four touchdowns. McEvoy did his own damage on the ground through the first two quarters, running for 90 yards on nine attempts.Coming out of the break, Gordon again wasted no time scoring his final touchdown of the game, which came on a 69-yard run on just the second play from scrimmage in the second half.The touchdown capped off Gordon’s career-day in his time at Wisconsin and gave him a total of 253 yards, which is a career-high, on only 13 carries to average 19.5 yards per rush.For Gordon, he was happy to be back on the field after a tough performance against Western Illinois and put to rest some of the doubt that had been flying around the potential Heisman-candidate.“I was really motivated,” Gordon said. “I had heard a lot of people saying ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do that, Melvin’s not this, Melvin’s not that, Melvin shouldn’t be considered with this guy, or be talked about with this guy’…That definitely motivated me to get out there and do what I needed to do.”Despite the criticism that Gordon had gone through during the first few weeks of the season, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen was pleased to see Gordon persevere through it and have the performance that he did on Saturday.“The unselfishness of Melvin Gordon for the last three of weeks as we’ve gone through the first part of the season has been incredible,” Andersen said. “I’m so proud of the way he’s handled it. Today was his day. It was great to see him have the success.”Although it wasn’t just Gordon who found success on the ground for the Badgers as both McEvoy and Corey Clement also eclipsed the 100-yard mark.McEvoy finished the day with eleven carries and a career-high 158 yards to go along with two touchdowns, but struggled through the air, going 9-for-16 for 112 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Clement, who scored on back-to-back possessions after Gordon’s final touchdown, ended the day with 111 yards on 16 carries. Even Dare Ogunbowale, who just made the switch from defense to running back this week, had 94 yards which all came in the fourth quarter.The Badgers ended the day with a school-record 644 yards on the ground, which is the most rushing yards in modern-era Big Ten history. The 644-yard total broke the previous record of 573 which happened in both 1971 and 1975 by Michigan State and Michigan respectively. Added to the new school rushing record was a school-record for total offense (756) which broke the previous high of 705 that came against Indiana in 1999.With an all-around strong performance from the rushing attack, after struggling against Western Illinois two weeks ago, Clement saw Saturday’s performance as a great boost of confidence for the running backs and especially Gordon.“It think we all needed a confidence boost like that, coming off of the last game,” Clement said. “We didn’t really produce how we should as a Badger unit, but Melvin had an outstanding game. He hit the holes at 100 miles per hour, couldn’t be caught.”Coming into Saturday’s game, the Wisconsin defense knew they would be up against one of the fastest tempo offenses in the country in Bowling Green. In a win over Indiana last week, the Falcons ran over 100 plays throughout the game. Senior linebacker Derek Landisch, who led the Badgers with six tackles, three-and-a-half tackles for loss, and two sacks, knew that the defense was prepared for the up-tempo style of Bowling Green.“I think we were very well prepared,” Landisch said. “I don’t think there was a look that we saw out there that we haven’t seen during practice. Even some of the goofy tackle, split-wide formations, we saw that in practice. So we were very well prepared and I think for the most part we executed the game plan.”As the Badgers pick up their second win of the season and head into preparations for their final non-conference game of the season next Saturday against South Florida, McEvoy saw Saturday’s game as an overall quality win for UW.“It was a great team win,” McEvoy said. “Our defense was taking the ball away from them, but we had some giveaways and turnovers, but [the defense] go it back for us. Great special teams and obviously the rushing was a key today and that helps.”last_img read more

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