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Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem advance to U.S. Open final

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Sept. 11 (UPI) — Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem will meet in the 2020 U.S. Open final after both players posted semifinal wins Friday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, N.Y.

The fifth-seeded Zverev overcame a two-set deficit to beat No. 20 seed Pablo Carreno Busta 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 and reach the men’s title match at Flushing Meadows. He became the first man to win a U.S. Open semifinal match after a 2-0 set deficit since Novak Djokovic in 2011, when the Serbian did it against Roger Federer.

Zverev, 23, also is the youngest male finalist at any major tournament since Djokovic, who reached the U.S. Open final in 2010 at age 23.

“Mentally, I stayed in it. … A lot of players would have gone away,” Zverev said. “There’s no easy matches anymore. Sometimes you have to dig deep. Today, I dug deep, dug very deep.

“… I started taking the ball much earlier. I started taking the ball more on the rise. I started giving myself the chance to be the one that is aggressive. I think in the first few sets, Pablo was the one dictating much more than I did. This is how the match slowly turned around.”

Later Friday, the second-seeded Thiem clinched his spot in the men’s final with a straight-sets victory over No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev. Thiem grinded out a 6-2, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5) win over the 24-year-old Russian to advance to his first U.S. Open final.

Both Thiem and Zverev are searching for their first Grand Slam trophies.

On the women’s side, Naomi Osaka will face Victoria Azarenka on Saturday in the other U.S. Open final.



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College football: Mountain West, Mid-American conferences vote to start seasons

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Sept. 25 (UPI) — The Mountain West Conference intends to play an eight-game college football schedule that starts Oct. 24 after altering initial plans to postpone the season until spring 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mountain West board members met Thursday and approved the plan to resume football competitions. The conference issued an indefinite suspension for fall sports Aug. 10. The Mountain West’s plan before the pandemic struck was to start the season Aug. 29.

The conference announced in early August that it would postpone games until the weekend of Sept. 26, before its latest agreement for an October kickoff.

Nevada, Hawaii, San Jose State, San Diego State, UNLV and Fresno State comprise the Mountain West’s West Division. Boise State, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah State are in the Mountain Division.

The conference championship is planned for Dec. 19. All competitions are subject to state, county and local approvals, as well as COVID-19 testing and safety protocols.

“This is a great opportunity to get our student-athletes back on the field of competition in a cautious and regulated fashion,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a news release.

The conference said each member institution will determine stadium capacities based on state, county and local health ordinances. Individual football schedules will be announced later.

On Friday, the Mid-American Conference followed suit and announced it will begin its football season on Nov. 4 and play a six-game, conference-only schedule.

The MAC on Aug. 8 became the first FBS conference to postpone the fall football season due to the coronavirus. The league said its championship game will take place on Dec. 18 or 19.

The university presidents unanimously approved the decision based on the recommendation of the conference’s medical advisory panel.

“I am pleased to inform our student-athletes, coaches and fans that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement Friday. “Our decisions, in August and again today, have been guided by an overriding concern for the well-being of the student-athletes, institutions and the community at large.

“Our medical advisory group, presidents, directors of athletics and others have worked hard to develop a plan that provides the opportunity for student-athletes to compete. We will be diligent in monitoring the dynamic health environment across the conference footprint and the country.”

The announcements from the MAC and MWC came after the Pac-12 announced Thursday it will play a seven-game, conference-only football schedule beginning in early November. No fans will be allowed to attend on-campus Pac-12 football games.

The Big Ten announced Sept. 16 it would resume football activities and start its 2020 football season Oct. 24, meaning all 10 FBS conferences will have fall football seasons this year.



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Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, wife Robyn welcome fourth child

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Sept. 23 (UPI) — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and his wife, Robyn, welcomed their fourth child Wednesday.

Robyn Hayward announced the birth of their first son — Gordon Theodore Hayward — with a post on social media Wednesday. The announcement came only a few hours before the Celtics played the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“Our little man is finally here! This is Theo, Gordon Theodore Hayward,” she wrote on Instagram. “If you ask @gordonhayward his name is GT, but if you ask me and the girls his name is Theo. I miss you bunches @gordonhayward and can’t wait for you to meet him. We’re ready to watch you tonight!”

Gordon Hayward, 30, initially planned to leave the NBA bubble for the birth of their first son, but he decided to remain with the Celtics after discussions with his wife. If he had left the bubble, he would have been subject to another quarantine period — forcing him to miss at least two games.

The All-Star forward had some time off earlier in the Celtics’ playoff run because of a sprained ankle, and he spent some of that time with his family before returning to the league’s bubble near Orlando, Fla.

“I think his ankle’s fine right now,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday after the birth was announced. “I don’t think he’s thought about it all afternoon. … Very, very happy to hear the news.”

The Heat hold a 2-1 series lead over the Celtics. In his return from an ankle injury that sidelined him for about five weeks, Gordon Hayward had six points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series.



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Bianca Andreescu skipping French Open, rest of season

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Sept. 23 (UPI) — 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu said she will not play in the upcoming French Open and will sit out the remainder of the 2020 season.

The 20-year-old Andreescu — currently ranked No. 7 in the world — announced her decision on social media, saying she wants to “focus on my health and training.”

“I have come to the difficult decision to skip the clay court swing this year and will be taking the remainder of the season off to focus on my health and training,” she wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “As hard as it was to come to this conclusion, I have so much to look forward to in 2021, including the Olympics.

“I want to use this time to focus on my game so I can come back stronger and better than ever. As always, your encouraging words and support meant the world to me and I look forward to getting back on the court and competing for Canada next year!”

Andreescu hasn’t competed on tour since withdrawing from a match during the WTA Finals in October 2019 because of a left knee injury. The same knee ailment prevented her from playing at the Australian Open in January.

Andreescu — the first Canadian to win a major singles trophy with her triumph in New York last year — also skipped this month’s U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and a lack of preparation time.

The 2020 French Open is set to begin Sunday in Paris. Andreescu is the third top-10 player on the women’s side to opt out of the tournament, joining No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 3 Naomi Osaka.



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