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Serena Williams Powers Into US Open Third Round

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Serena Williams roared into the third round of the US Open on Wednesday, overpowering second seed Anett Kontaveit with a battling performance to extend her Grand Slam singles career in dramatic fashion.

The 40-year-old tennis icon — who has signalled she plans to retire after the tournament — drew on all her reserves of resilience and sheer fighting spirit to take down Kontaveit with a 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-2 at an electric Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Kontaveit appeared to have gained the upper hand over the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion after levelling the match at 1-1 with a dominant second set display.

But Williams showed her champion’s mentality to yank back momentum in the decider, breaking Kontaveit twice before closing out victory to leave a sell-out crowd featuring the likes of golf superstar Tiger Woods on its feet.

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“You know this is what I do best,” a delighted Williams said after her win.

“I love a challenge and love rising to the challenge. I haven’t played many matches but I’ve been practicing really well and my last few matches it just wasn’t coming together…But the last couple of matches here in New York it’s really come together.”

‘This could be It’ 

Williams admitted she had feared the worst after she was unable to respond as Kontaveit upped her game to take the second set.

“I thought ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve got to give my best effort because this could be it,” Williams said. “I just wanted to keep trying and see what I could do and do my best.”

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Williams, who won the first of her Grand Slam singles titles as a 17-year-old at the US Open in 1999, said she was now playing with no pressure with the finish line of her remarkable career in sight.

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“I don’t have anything to prove, I don’t have anything to win. I have absolutely nothing to lose,” she said.

Williams will return to Arthur Ashe on Thursday to take part in the women’s doubles, where she will reunite with elder sister Venus for the first time since 2018.

Kontaveit meanwhile admitted she had been rattled by a ferociously partisan New York crowd.

“I expected it but it was really hard,” Kontaveit said. “I knew it was coming. It was something I’d never experienced before.”

Serena’s victory once again stole the show on day three of the tournament.

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In other women’s draw action on Wednesday, China’s Wang Xiyu upset third seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, winning 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.

The 21-year-old had never been past the second round of a Grand Slam tournament before, but uncorked 35 winners while saving 12 of 17 break points to secure her win.

Wang, ranked 75th in the world, has happy memories of New York, having won the junior US Open title at the venue in 2018.

Elsewhere, Tunisia’s beaten Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur sailed into the last 32 with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Elizabeth Mandlik of the United States.

The USA’s 12th-seeded Coco Gauff, meanwhile, advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) win over unseeded Romanian Elena Gabriela Ruse.

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That win sets up an all-American showdown between Gauff and 20th seed Madison Keys, who needed three sets to edge past Italy’s Camila Giorgi, winning 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (10/6).

Leylah Fernandez, the 2021 runner-up, exited at the hands of Liudmila Samsonova 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).

 Murray Advances 

In the men’s draw, defending champion and top seed Daniil Medvedev defeated France’s Arthur Rinderknech 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 to set up a David v Goliath third round meeting with Chinese qualifier Wu Yibing.

Wu became the first Chinese man in 63 years to win a singles match at a Grand Slam when he knocked 31st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili out of the tournament on Monday, and followed it up on Wednesday with an epic five-set win over fellow qualifier Nuno Borges of Portugal.

The 22-year-old Wu, ranked 174th in the world, prevailed 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

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In other men’s matches, 2012 champion Andy Murray advanced to the third round for the first time in six years with a four-set win over American wildcard Emilio Nava.

The 35-year-old Scot prevailed 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 and is delighted at how his injury-prone body is holding up thus far.

“Physically this is the best I’ve felt in the last few years,” said Murray.

Murray will face world number 14 Matteo Berrettini in the next round. The Italian defeated France’s Hugo Grenier 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (9/7).

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios meanwhile delivered a typically volatile display in a four-set win over France’s Benjamin Bonzi on Louis Armstrong court.

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Kyrgios appeared to aim a mouthful of spit in the general direction of his box and then dropped several F-bombs at his team during a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory.

He also complained to the umpire that he could smell marijuana smoke in the crowd.

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Voodoo new to me – Waldrum

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In the aftermath of the drama that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroon during the penultimate qualifying fixture for the 2024 Olympic games, Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum, says voodoo is strange to him.

There was drama at the start of the second half inside the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Monday after a Cameroonian player allegedly attempted to plant ‘voodoo’ inside the Falcons goal post.

Falcons’ goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, was in fine form as she stopped every shot in her direction to prevent the Indomitable Lionesses from scoring.

However, in the closing minutes of the game, Cameroon sent Annie Enganemben on as they were about to launch a free kick into the Nigerian box with claims that the player was sent on to touch the net in a bid to give Cameroon a saving grace as they were running out of options, and had to resort to diabolical means.

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In a video, the substitute, alongside another striker, were seen trying to run towards the Nigerian goal in an attempt to touch the net, but Asisat Oshoala took it upon herself to prevent that from happening. The drama led to the player being sent off after she hit Nnadozie in the process.

When asked by our reporter about the attempt by the Cameroonians to use voodoo during the game, Waldrum said, “Yes it is true.”

“I have never seen it before but our players wouldn’t let them in our goal to use it.”

The only goal of the two-legged tie came in the early minutes of the first half, with Esther Okoronkwo tapping home from close range after Jennifer Echegini’s clever footwork on the edge of the box.

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Liverpool Win Carabao Cup Title With Late Heroics Thrilling Against Chelsea

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In a thrilling Carabao Cup final clash at Wembley Stadium, Liverpool emerged victorious with late heroics against Chelsea, clinching the coveted title in dramatic fashiion.

The match, highly anticipated by football fans worldwide, showcased the fierce competition between two Premier League giants. Jurgen Klopp’s youthful Liverpool side faced off against Thomas Tuchel’s formidable Chelsea team in a showdown that promised excitement and tension.

Throughout the game, both teams demonstrated their skill and determination, creating numerous scoring opportunities and thrilling moments for the spectators. However, as the clock ticked down towards the end of regular time, the score remained deadlocked in a tense stalemate.

As the match entered extra time, the intensity on the field only intensified, with each side pushing for a decisive breakthrough. It was Liverpool’s star defender, Virgil van Dijk, who ultimately proved to be the hero of the night. In a heart-stopping moment, van Dijk rose above the Chelsea defense to head home a crucial goal deep into extra time.

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The Wembley Stadium erupted with cheers from Liverpool fans as van Dijk’s late header secured the victory and clinched the Carabao Cup title for Klopp’s side. It was a moment of pure jubilation for the Liverpool players, staff, and supporters, marking a memorable triumph in their footballing journey.

The match’s thrilling conclusion highlighted the unpredictable nature of football and the exhilarating drama that unfolds on the grand stage. Liverpool’s triumph with late heroics against Chelsea will be remembered as a testament to their resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit in pursuit of success.

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Boniface named among Bundesliga’s most skilful stars

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Bayer Leverkusen star Victor Boniface has secured a nomination among the most skilful players in the ongoing 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign so far.

After his move from Union SG last July, the Super Eagles striker wasted no time making an impact under the guidance of manager Xabi Alonso.

Boniface’s initial burst in Germany was nothing short of impressive, netting ten goals in 16 league matches.

However, his promising run hit an abrupt halt due to a groin injury, forcing him to miss the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast.

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Despite his current injury setback, the striker’s noteworthy performances have not gone unnoticed.

The spotlight now shines on a particular display of individual brilliance during Leverkusen’s Bundesliga clash against RB Leipzig at the Bay Arena in August 2023.

In that game, Boniface executed a cunning feint, deceiving his marker into anticipating a right-footed shot, only to cleverly pass the ball with his left foot. Although he didn’t find the net, Leverkusen emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline.

Boniface shares the skills spotlight with four other notable players: Andrej Kramaric, Jadon Sancho, Felix Nmecha, and Xavi Simons.

To participate in the voting process, fans can visit the Bundesliga’s official website and select their choice among the nominated players.

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At the time of this report, Jadon Sancho leads the polls with an impressive 75% of the votes. Xavi Simons secures the second position with 17%, while Boniface currently holds 5%. Hoffenheim’s Kramaric and Dortmund’s Nmecha trail behind with 1% and 2% of the votes, respectively.

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