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French Open: Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal advance; Daniil Medvedev upset

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Sept. 29 (UPI) — Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Elina Svitolina all advanced while Daniil Medvedev, Gael Monfils and Madison Keys were upset in the opening round of the 2020 French Open Monday — which is being staged four months later than usual this year.

A three-time champion at Roland Garros, Williams beat fellow American Kristie Ahn in straight sets — 7-6 (2), 6-0 — in Paris and advanced to face Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.

“I just need to play with more confidence, like I’m Serena,” Williams told reporters. “I just started playing like that. I was moving and sliding and I think her level dropped a little bit after the first set.

“I took advantage of that.”

The 23-time Grand Slam champion hit 11 aces and 26 winners in the one-hour, 41-minute match.

Williams won the first point of the first set before Ahn rallied for a 3-1 lead. They traded the next two points before Ahn broke Williams’ serve to win the ninth game. Williams won the next two games for a 6-5 lead before Ahn forced a tiebreak, which Williams won to take the first set.

Ahn wouldn’t win another game. Williams dominated the second set and clinched the victory with a 101-mph ace at match point.

Svitolina — the No. 3 seed — was the highest-seeded player to advance Monday from the women’s singles draw, beating Varvara Gracheva in straight sets.

No. 5 Kiki Bertens beat Katarina Zavatska in three sets and No. 7 Petra Kvitova beat Oceane Dodin without losing a set. Unseeded Zhang Shuai bounced Keys — the No. 12 seed — in straight sets.

Nadal — the No. 2 seed in the men’s singles draw — beat Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, and was the highest-seeded men’s player to advance Monday. The 12-time French Open champion hit three aces, 32 winners and 20 unforced errors in the win. Gerasimov committed 28 errors in the two-hour, five-minute match.

Nadal, who next faces American Mackenzie McDonald in the second round Wednesday, hopes to win the French Open for a fourth consecutive time.

“That was a normal first match for Roland Garros,” Nadal said. “I am happy. I did the things I had to do. I didn’t expect much more.

“I did things well and I am happy for the victory.”

Thiem, the No. 3 seed, defeated Croat and former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic in straight sets. Italian Marton Fucsovics ousted Medvedev, the No. 4 seed, with a 6-4, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-1 triumph. Medvedev came unraveled with 51 unforced errors in the three-hour, 17-minute match.

Monfils, the No. 8 seed, fell to unseeded Alexander Bublik, who hit six aces and 47 winners in the two-hour, 35-minute match. Monfils committed 58 errors and 12 double faults.

Tuesday’s French Open slate features No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 9 Denis Shapovalov and No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut on the men’s side — and No. 2 Karolína Plíšková, fourth-seeded American Sofia Kenin and No. 8 Aryna Sabalenka in the women’s draw.

Moments from Serena Williams’ career

Serena Williams returns the ball to her sister, Venus, during their match at the Lipton Tennis Championship in Key Biscayne, Fla., on March 28, 1998. Venus Williams, defeated her sister 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Photo by Susan Knowles/UPI | License Photo



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Washington Football Team name could remain in 2021 season

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Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Ex-Dallas Cowboys DL David Irving signs with Las Vegas Raiders

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Oct. 20 (UPI) — Former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, the team announced Tuesday.

In a statement, the Raiders said Irving was added to the practice squad. The team also activated quarterback Marcus Mariota off injured reserve.

The 27-year-old Irving, who must still complete the NFL’s new six-day player intake process, last played in the NFL in 2018. He announced in March 2019 that he was quitting football.

Irving’s announcement came shortly after the NFL suspended him indefinitely for violating its substance-abuse policy for a third time in as many years. He revealed his decision in an Instagram video where he appeared to be smoking marijuana, saying he was walking away due to the NFL’s restrictive policies on the substance.

But with players no longer being tested for marijuana use under the new collective bargaining agreement, Irving wanted to return to the league. The NFL reinstated Irving on Friday from his indefinite ban.

Irving, an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, made his NFL debut with the Cowboys in 2015. He recorded 56 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 37 career games with Dallas from 2015-18.

Meanwhile, the Raiders are coming off their bye week and could use the extra help on their defensive front. Las Vegas is tied for 29th in the league with seven team sacks. Defensive end Maxx Crosby leads the Raiders with four sacks.

This week in the National Football League

Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Cowboys’ Randy Gregory removed from commissioner’s exempt list

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Oct. 20 (UPI) — Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory has been removed from the commissioner’s exempt list and will be available to play Sunday against the Washington Football Team.

The Cowboys announced Tuesday that Gregory was moved to the active roster ahead of Sunday’s matchup. As part of his conditional reinstatement to the league, he has been able to take part in meetings and workouts over the past two weeks.

Gregory, who had been on the commissioner’s exempt list since being reinstated by the NFL last month, hasn’t played in a game since the Cowboys’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 divisional round because of an indefinite suspension.

A number of violations of the league’s substance abuse policy led to multiple suspensions for Gregory, who has appeared in only 28 of a possible 86 career games. After his reinstatement, the Cowboys signed him to a one-year extension through 2021.

In 28 career games with Dallas, Gregory — a second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Nebraska — has recorded 41 total tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. His best season came in 2018, when he notched 25 tackles and six sacks over 14 regular-season contests.

Also Tuesday, the Cowboys waived defensive back Saivion Smith. Wide receiver Ventell Bryant, who had been battling a knee injury, was waived off injured reserve.

This week in the National Football League

Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker celebrates after kicking a field goal against the Philadephia Eagles on Sunday. The Ravens defeated the Eagles 30-28. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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