Novak Djokovic stayed on course for back-to-back Grand Slam titles by beating Kei Nishikori to set up a US Open final against Juan Martin del Potro.
With conditions much cooler than they have been for most of the tournament, Djokovic finally looked comfortable on Arthur Ashe Stadium and responded with his best performance to defeat Nishikori 6-3 6-4 6-2.
The sixth seed will contest an eighth US Open final looking for his third title and 14th overall at slams, which would put him level with Pete Sampras.
Djokovic said: “It felt great. I thought I came in today from the first point with a great intensity, great focus.
“You have to execute the shots against Kei Nishikori, who is one of the quickest movers.
“You’ve got to make decisions really quick and I thought I played really, really well.”
It was the ninth consecutive slam semi-final that the 31-year-old has won and sends him through to a 23rd final.
.@DjokerNole advances to the #USOpen Finals in three straight sets, securing his victory with a backhand winner against Nishikori and generating the AI Highlight of the Day. #IBMsports pic.twitter.com/mqujPDVmPB
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2018
“It means the world to me,” he said. “Every time I accomplish something big I see a new mountain top around the corner. I don’t see any limits.”
Nishikori beat the Serbian at the same stage here four years ago but had lost all 13 meetings since and never looked like threatening a repeat performance from the moment Djokovic broke in his opening service game.
If there were still any question marks after he won Wimbledon this summer about whether this was Djokovic back to his best, they are surely gone now.
The fire is burning brightly and, now the 31-year-old’s shoulder problems appear to be behind him and his confidence in his game has returned, he once again resembles a brick wall on very speedy legs.
Nishikori’s only real chance came at the start of the second set when, having survived a long game on his own serve, he had two chances to break the Djokovic serve – his only break points of the match.
But he could not take either and, once Djokovic broke to lead 3-2, it merely seemed a question of how much resistance his opponent could muster.
Nishikori was hoping to join Naomi Osaka in the finals and make it an even more historic week for Japan and he continued to fight his hardest, but Djokovic had an answer to nearly everything.
And he saved the best for last, arrowing a backhand winner into the corner from well outside the court to wrap up the victory after two hours and 22 minutes.
Related Topics: Continue Reading
You may like
O’Neill needs his fighting Irish to show united front
It’s 11 months and one day since James McClean slammed home the winner against Wales in Cardiff to send the Republic of Ireland into the World Cup play-offs.
Oh what fun we had.
The Derryman’s terrific goal ended the hosts’ hopes that night and sent us on our way to a two-legged showdown with Denmark – widely accepted in the minutes after the draw as a kind pairing for Martin O’Neill’s men. It’s doable, we told ourselves.
A goalless draw in Copenhagen set up a huge night at the Aviva Stadium. With a ticket to Russia up for grabs, it was time to go all in.
Shane Duffy nodded the Irish ahead, the stadium jigged and reeled with delight, dreams were had, songs were sung.
Eighty-five minutes later, as the rain poured down and substitute Nicklas Bendnter converted a penalty to make it 5-1 to the Danes, the cold grip of reality seized us by the lapel and refused to let go.
We have since watched the following unfold:
The manager being heavily linked to the Everton job The manager being heavily linked to the Stoke job The manager signing a new contract with Ireland – but only after failing to agree terms with Stoke Reading midfielder Liam Kelly rejecting the chance to join up with the Ireland squad Declan Rice playing three times for Ireland before pulling out of the squad ahead of a potential competitive debut due to interest from England Harry Arter withdrawing from the squad after a fallout with assistant Roy Keane A hammering in Paris against France Another hammering, this time in Cardiff, against Wales in our opening game of the Nations League The manager being forced to address a leaked WhatsApp audio, allegedly of Stephen Ward, detailing a bust-up between Arter, Jon Walters and Roy Keane
It’s been a rough year.
In fairness O’Neill has met the last fortnight’s spate of controversies head-on. Forced to deal with some awkward questions at his pre-match press conference on Monday, he did not try to hide the extent of the fallout.
On voice note-gate, he said: “First of all I don’t think Stephen was there. Stephen wasn’t actually there so I think he is just picking up on things, something we (O’Neill and the media) talked about at the beginning of the week.
“There probably isn’t anything more to really report. There was a confrontation with Jon and a confrontation with Harry. Jon is absolutely fine. Harry is perhaps not so fine.”
Then, he revealed he himself had a bust-up with David Meyler on Friday.
“I have got the utmost regard for him as a person, as I said to him I might have a difference of opinion about his ability, but that’s not the point.
“Sometimes, as I said to you before, while the game has changed a little, hopefully it hasn’t changed that much that there is some things you can say to a player, and maybe used a little bit industrial heavy duty language at the end of it all.”
And finally he took full responsibility for the in-fighting that’s plagued the camp.
“Let me tell you, this is my responsibility. I will take full responsibility for what has happened.”
All that before dealing with the small matter of an international friendly tomorrow night.
With Seamus Coleman (ankle) joining Robbie Brady, James McCarthy, James McClean, Shane Long, Rice and Arter on the absent list, the Poland clash reeks of ‘damage limitation’.
It was a smart move by O’Neill to call up Ronan Curtis. The Portsmouth attacker has been playing well in League One [five goals in six games] and shone for the Under-21s in Kosovo last Friday night, drilling home a fine leveller to earn an important European Championship qualifiers point.
He’s suspended for the qualifier against Germany in Tallaght Stadium tomorrow night so he will links up with the seniors and may well get a run at the Stadion Miejski in Wroclaw.
Curtis’s inclusion gives Irish fans something of a lift – the 22-year-old ex-Derry City man is yet another graduate of our domestic league to the full senior set-up.
Wolves’ Matt Doherty is another. The former Bohs defender should get a rare run from the start now that Coleman and Ward are both out.
He’s one of just six players in the panel who currently play in the Premier League – Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long and Jeff Hendrick (both Burnley) are the others.
Daryl Horgan can feel confident of getting more minutes in a green shirt, while Preston clubmates Graham Burke and Callum Robinson may get another chance to strike up an international partnership.
Really though this is a game O’Neill will just want to get through without suffering another hiding.
The Welsh humbling was damaging for a few reasons. Yes, O’Neill was missing important players – Brady, McCarthy, McClean, Long, Rice and Arter – but the performance merely followed a worrying trend.
One-dimensional, dreadful in possession, disorganised without it, lacking in imagination, composure and belief. It was the same in Paris, and similar in Turkey last February. Even against a weakened USA team Ireland looked jittery and nervous.
The feeling is that this group is regressing under a management team who are not getting the best out of what they have. And it’s a feeling that’s been growing for at least a year.
Our hosts will be in good spirits at least. Robert Lewandowski is in line to win his 100th international cap, and even if manager Jerzy Brzeczek was keen to guard against complacency in a celebratory atmosphere – “we know that Irish people are very proud, very belligerent” – you can bet the Bayern Munich hitman will fancy adding to his 55 international goals.
Poland had a poor World Cup. They went out in the group stages after losing their first two games to Senegal and Colombia, a failure that cost Adam Nawalka his job.
Brzeczek took the reins and his side impressed in their opening Nations League clash against Italy, earning a deserved draw in Bologna.
They have some quality players and this will not be an easy night for the visitors.
A heavy loss would crank up the pressure on O’Neill and Keane ahead of Ireland’s next Nations League game against Denmark – now fully stacked with their main men after the futsal lads’ saved the day when that standoff between the Danish players’ union and national federation over commercial rights boiled over.
O’Neill insisted that morale has not been damaged despite the the voice note “sideshow”.
“These two confrontations took place four months ago, are surfacing now and we are going through all of that.
“And, you know what? I will be astonished if there is not a confrontation between now and November time,” he said, adding with a smile: “If there’s not, I’ll start it myself.”
For everyone’s sake, let’s hope Ireland start doing their fighting on the pitch.
Finau earns final USA wild card selection for Ryder Cup
United States captain Jim Furyk has named Tony Finau as his final wild card pick for the Ryder Cup.
Finau’s place was announced after he finished in a tie for eighth at the BMW Championship in Philadelphia.
The 28-year-old from Salt Lake City – ranked 15th in the world – claimed his only PGA Tour title to date at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open.
“Hey guys, Tony Finau here. I’m so excited to be on the Ryder Cup team and I cannot wait to get to Paris,” he said in a short video posted on the Ryder Cup USA Twitter account.
“Thanks for all the support – go USA.”
Furyk chose Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau with his first three picks on September 4.
Those four players will join Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth, who qualified automatically.
The final Captain’s Pick is in. Welcome to the team, @tonyfinaugolf!#GoUSA pic.twitter.com/7YaU3q7m7n
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) September 10, 2018
The 2018 Ryder Cup will be staged at Le Golf National in Paris, which is hosting the event for the first time.
Team Europe, captained by Thomas Bjorn, contains new world number one Justin Rose, along with Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson.
In the 2016 Ryder Cup, held at Hazeltine National, the United States team won 17-11. An American team has not won in Europe since the 1993 triumph at The Belfry.
Louth ready to purchase Dundalk site for new ground
Louth County Board have taken a major step towards delivering a new county ground after unanimously endorsing the purchase of a site in Dundalk.
Plans to redevelop the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda were shelved back in March and the Wee County instead focused on finding a suitable site for the development of a new ground.
They have identified that location – which is close to the Dundalk Institute of Technology campus – and are now ready to drive forward.
“Louth GAA tonight unanimously endorsed the purchase of a new site in Dundalk for our new county grounds,” a statement released on social media read.
“The new site will be adjacent to the old Heinz factory on the Inner Relief Road.”
Louth GAA tonight unanimously endorsed the purchase of a new site in Dundalk for our new County Grounds. The new site will be adjacent to the old Heinz factory on the inner relief road.
— Louth GAA (@louthgaa) September 10, 2018
Nations League wrap: Portugal sink Italy, Scots impress
Portugal, without talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, got their Nations League campaign under way with a 1-0 victory against Italy at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz.
Fernando Santos’ men did not have to get out of second gear to take the points against a much-changed side fielded by Roberto Mancini in the Group A3 clash in Lisbon.
After a dominant first-half display, the hosts finally made the breakthrough at the start of the second half when Sevilla loanee Andre Silva curled a shot into the bottom corner in the 48th minute.
Italy created their best chance 12 minutes from time but Simone Zaza could not get his header on target.
Two late goals from Emre Akbaba snatched Turkey a dramatic 3-2 win against Sweden in their Group B2 encounter.
Isaac Kiese Thelin opened the scoring for Sweden, turning in the rebound after his header had come back off a post.
Viktor Claesson made it two with a thumping 30-yard strike, only for Hakan Calhanoglu to pull one back shortly afterwards with a low drive from the right of the area.
It was 2-2 after 88 minutes when neat interplay ended with Akbaba lashing the ball into the roof of the net, and there was still time for the Galatasaray midfielder to head home a winner in the second minute of stoppage time.
Scotland claimed an encouraging 2-0 win over Albania in their Group C1 clash at Hampden Park.
Alex McLeish’s side had suffered a chastening 4-0 defeat by Belgium on Friday night but bounced back in their opening fixture, taking the lead two minutes after the break when Steven Naismith’s header went in off defender Berat Xhimshiti.
The Hearts attacker, a late call-up, headed in a second in the 68th minute to clinch three points and a welcome win for McLeish, whose side went into the game with one win in five friendly matches and having scored only one goal.
Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic bagged a brace as Serbia were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Romania in Group C4.
He bundled in the first from on the floor, while his second, after Nicolae Stanciu had levelled from the penalty spot, was lashed home on the volley after the ball had sat up nicely in a crowded penalty area.
George Tucudean turned the ball home at the near post from a corner to grab Romania a point.
In the same group, goals from Stefan Savic and Marko Jankovic earned Montenegro a 2-0 win over Lithuania.
In Group D1, Andorra drew 1-1 with Kazakhstan and in Group D3, Sheffield Wednesday striker Atdhe Nuhiu helped Kosovo to a 2-0 win over the Faroe Islands and Malta drew 1-1 at home to Azerbaijan.
Eddie Brennan ratified as Laois boss for 2019
Kilkenny legend Eddie Brennan has been ratified as the Laois senior hurling manager for 2019.
The Laois County Committee ratified his appointment along with Brennan’s selectors Tommy Fitzgerald Portlaoise, Fran and Dowling Camross.
The eight-time All-Ireland winner was proposed for the position last month after he was picked by a selection committee comprised of Niall Rigney, Declan Conroy and Eamon Jackman.
Brennan succeeds Eamonn Kelly, who stepped down from the position in June after managing Laois for the past two years. His 2018 season ended in disappointment after failing to lead the county to the Joe McDonagh Cup final.
Brennan, who won eight All-Ireland senior titles with Kilkenny between 2000 and 2011, managed his native county’s U21 side for two seasons, guiding them to the 2017 All-Ireland final at the grade before stepping down following the loss to Limerick in that decider.
The Laois County Committee have ratified the appointment of Eddie Brennan as Laois Senior Hurling Manager for 2019, Ratified also was his selectors of Tommy Fitzgerald Portlaoise, Fran Dowling Camross. pic.twitter.com/V1zeBl7JFO
— Laois GAA (@CLGLaois) September 10, 2018