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Serena Williams beaten in Toronto in her first defeat since announcing her imminent retirement from tennis

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Serena Williams admitted to being “terrible at goodbyes” as the American legend said “goodbye Toronto” after suffering her first defeat since announcing her imminent retirement from tennis.

The 6-2 6-4 second-round loss to Belinda Bencic at the National Bank Open came just a day after the 23-time Grand-Slam champion revealed in a Vogue article she was “evolving away from tennis” and planned to retire from the sport she has dominated for over two decades.

“It was a lot of emotions obviously,” Williams told the crowd on Wednesday.

“I love playing here, I’ve always loved playing here. I wish I could have played better but Belinda played so well today. It’s been an interesting 24 hours.

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“As I said in the article, I’m terrible at goodbyes. But, goodbye Toronto.”

“Anyways, this is what it is,” she told the crowd in Toronto as she wiped away a tear.

“I was really happy to be out here today and play in front of you guys, thanks for the support,” she said, gesturing toward the fans behind her, who roared back.

“Thank you,” she said with a grin as the presentation ended with a gift to her from the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL and the Toronto Raptors NBA franchises.

Bencic, 25, controlled the match from the start with a dominant serve, facing just one break point – which she saved – throughout.

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Three-time champion Williams saved two break points in the opening set before going on to be broken twice in the first set.

The American’s serve was stronger in the second set, before she double-faulted to give Bencic the break at 3-3 and the Swiss pushed ahead for the win.

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It was the Olympic champion’s second triumph over Williams at the tournament, following a semi-final victory on the same court when she was a teenager in 2015.

Williams has committed to playing at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati next week as well as the US Open later this month, and it appears that will be her final tournament.

Up next for Bencic will be Spanish eighth seed Garbine Muguruza, who was a 6-4 6-4 winner over Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi.

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American Coco Gauff outlasted Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-4 6-7 (10-8) 7-6 (7-3) in a marathon second-round clash.

The 18-year-old French Open finalist cruised through the first set with four aces, breaking Rybakina in the seventh game, and appeared to have the match firmly in hand.

But Rybakina refused to go down without a fight, fending off four match points in the second-set tiebreak before taking it.

A rattled Gauff struggled in the third set, stumbling into seven double faults as the two players exchanged breaks of serve.

The American then dug deep to find her composure, winning five straight points to clinch the third-set tiebreak before pumping her fist and pointing to her brain to cheers from the crowd.

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Among the others reaching the last 16 were world No 1 Iga Swiatek, defending champion Camila Giorgi, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Jessica Pegula and Aryna Sabalenka.

 

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EPL: Bacary Sagna predicts scorelines for Man City vs Utd, Arsenal vs Tottenham fixtures

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Former Arsenal defender, Bacary Sagna, has predicted the scoreline for Manchester City’s Premier League clash against Manchester United.

Sagna also predicted the outcome of Arsenal’s Premier League tie against Tottenham Hotspur.

Man City will host Man United in a Premier League derby at Etihad on Sunday, while Arsenal will take on Tottenham in a London derby at Emirates on Saturday afternoon.

Providing his predictions, Sagna said Man City would beat Man United by three goals to nil, while Arsenal will defeat Tottenham 2-0.

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“I can’t see anyone other than City winning this match. I think City will win 3-0,” Sagna told Lord Ping.

He added, “Arsenal will win. Arsenal 2-0.”

“Listen, make no mistake, this will be a tough game for Arsenal. Tottenham has quality players, dangerous players. Son [Heung-min] has come into a bit of form. [Harry] Kane, we all know what he can do.”

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Volleyball: Offa, Customs win Premier League

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Offa Volleyball Club (male) and the Nigeria Customs Service (female) have emerged the champions of the 2022 Nigeria Volleyball Premier League competition.

In the men’s final match at the indoor hall of the Ondo State Sports Complex, Akure, Offa defeated Nigeria Correctional Service 3-2 (25-16, 23-25, 25-17, 17-25, 15-11), while in the women’s category, Customs emerged champions, beating Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-21) on the final day of the league.

Offa coach, Suleiman Ajeigbe, expressed delight over the victory, saying the trophy would be going to Offa community for the first time.

Ajeigbe also commended his players for properly executing their game plan and playing to instruction.

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He said, “I feel so proud, I feel so excited and I give all glory to God almighty. It has been a very challenging one, but to the glory of God. In the history of the Nigeria Volleyball Premier League, Offa, a local government in Kwara State will be lifting the trophy, this is historical, this has never happened before.

“Offa Volleyball Club came into being to help the youths in my community. I started the club to ensure that every member of my team is Kwara-born, majority of them are born in Offa. It is to the glory of God that I was able to start it, most of my players are playing outside the country now. I started the club in 2010, so it’s been a long time actually.”

Customs coach, Sunny Akapson, said his side’s victory was as a result of hard work, determination and dedication.

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EPL: Glen Johnson predicts result of Arsenal vs Tottenham derby clash

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Former Chelsea star, Glenn Johnson has provided his prediction for Saturday’s North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta’s side will receive Antonio Conte’s Spurs at the Emirates on Saturday.

The Gunners would be leapfrogged by Tottenham at the top of the Premier League table if they hand Arteta’s side their second defeat of the season.

Arsenal has won six out of seven of their opening games, losing once to Manchester United.

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Spurs are unbeaten and just a point behind them in third, with Tottenham able to leapfrog their rivals with a victory.

Johnson told SafeBettingSites: “It’s going to be a tough one to call, to be honest.

“Tottenham looks great, Arsenal looks great. Finally, we’ve got two good teams going into the north London derby!.

‘This is their first big test, for both teams. [I’m going] 2-1 to Arsenal.’

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