NEW YORK (AP) Rafael Nadal had never lost a Grand Slam match when taking a two-set lead until he was beaten 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 by 32nd-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday night.
The eighth-seeded Nadal’s defeat also ends the Spaniard’s 10-year streak of winning at least one major title per season. He lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and the French Open, then the second round at Wimbledon.
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Nadal, who has won two of his 14 career major titles at Flushing Meadows, not only claimed the first two sets against Fognini, but also led by a break in the third at 3-1.
He couldn’t sustain it, though, as Fognini began taking more high-risk shots – and putting plenty right where he wanted them, winding up with more than twice as many winners as Nadal, 70 to 30.
NEW YORK (AP) – Can’t count out Serena Williams, no matter how big the deficit, no matter how off-target her strokes, no matter how much the pressure might be mounting as she bids for a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Eight times this season at major tournaments, Williams has dropped the opening set. Eight times, she has won.
The latest comeback was in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday night, when Williams figured out a way to deal with a tricky opponent and get her own game going before it was too late, eventually emerging to grab the last eight games for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory over American wild-card entry Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
”I’m not trying to live on the edge,” Williams said with a big smile.
Perhaps. Still, no one does it better. And with so much at stake, no less.
”She’s a great closer,” Mattek-Sands said. ”Always has been.”
NEW YORK (AP) – A judge’s ruling freeing New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to play football erased his four-game suspension but failed to address the root question of the ”Deflategate” scandal: What did Brady know about a plot to deflate balls before January’s AFC championship game?
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman thoroughly trashed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the NFL disciplinary process in his Thursday ruling, but did little to cast aside the perception by some that Brady knew more than he was willing to reveal about the scheme the league has blamed on Patriots ball handlers.
Berman noted that Brady’s statistics were better in the second half of the 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts, when the balls were properly inflated. Yet conclusions about Brady himself were sparse after reviewing the NFL’s investigative report, Goodell’s arbitration hearing with Brady and other evidence.
The NFL is appealing the decision to the 2nd U.S. District Court of Appeals, a process that will likely play out much more slowly than the urgency afforded the initial lawsuits. And while Brady plays, the league’s appeal won’t focus on footballs or the quarterback, but on disagreements with Berman.
Brady posted a statement Friday night on Facebook.
”While I am pleased to be eligible to play, I am sorry our league had to endure this. I don’t think it has been good for our sport – to a large degree, we have all lost,” Brady said. ”I am also sorry to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt as I have tried to work to resolve this situation. I love the NFL. It is a privilege to be a member of the NFL community and I will always try to do my best in representing my team and the league in a way that would make all members of this community proud.”
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Tim Tebow made Matt Barkley expendable.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded Barkley to the Arizona Cardinals on Friday, clearing a roster spot for Tebow after he won a preseason competition for the No. 3 quarterback job.
Arizona sent a conditional seventh-round draft pick to Philadelphia for Barkley. A person familiar with the deal said Barkley has to be on the roster for six games for the Eagles to receive the pick in 2016. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that part of the trade wasn’t announced.
Barkley provides depth behind Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. Logan Thomas and rookie Phillip Sims were competing for the No. 3 job. Sims already tweeted that he was released.
The Cardinals were 6-0 with Palmer as their starter last year and 5-6 without him, including a playoff loss to Carolina. Stanton was 5-3 and Ryan Lindley was 0-3. Palmer missed three games in September and the final seven games after tearing his left ACL in mid-November.
Tebow outplayed Barkley in the preseason and will play behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez unless coach Chip Kelly makes a surprise move this weekend.
DALLAS (AP) – Seth Russell threw for 376 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for a score to help fourth-ranked Baylor open the season with a 56-21 victory at SMU on Friday night.
The two-time defending Big 12 champion Bears finally got to start fresh after the long, long offseason that followed their playoff snub last season.
SMU played its first game for new coach Chad Morris, Clemson’s offensive coordinator the past four seasons. The Mustangs, who scored only 12 total points their first four games last season with a 45-0 loss at Baylor, had 21 points in the first 1 1/2 quarters.
Jay Lee had three TD catches for the Bears, who had 723 total yards.
Dual-threat quarterback Matt Davis had 166 yards passing and 115 rushing for SMU. But he was sacked on the final play of the first half with the Mustangs at the 3 and down only 28-21.
MIAMI (AP) – The New York Mets plan for Matt Harvey to keep pitching as long as they keep playing.
Harvey is expected to make four more starts during the regular season and assume a ”reasonable workload” during the playoffs, assistant general manager John Ricco said Friday.
Harvey missed last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and his health came into question after he became dehydrated during his latest start Wednesday. The right-hander is 12-7 with a 2.60 ERA and has thrown 166 1-3 innings for the NL East leaders, and there are no plans to shut him down at any point, Ricco said.
”We’re very comfortable we the fact that we’ve had a plan that has involved the doctors all the way through,” Ricco said. ”To this point they’re still fine with that plan. We all think it’s a reasonable way to go.”
Harvey underwent blood tests following his bout with dehydration and was cleared to make his next scheduled start Tuesday against Washington. He was en route to Miami on Friday night to join the Mets for their series against the Marlins.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Jozy Altidore insists he has not recovered completely from an injury filled summer, a promising thought given his latest performance.
Altidore scored a pair of second-half goals in his return to the U.S. national team, and the Americans rallied to beat Peru 2-1 in an exhibition Friday night.
”Your body might feel good, but your mind isn’t there yet,” Altidore said. ”I’m feeling better. I’m taking my time.”
Preparing for next month’s one-game playoff against Mexico for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup, the Americans fell behind in the 20th minute. Daniel Chavez’s 20-yard shot caromed off defender Omar Gonzalez and looped over the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who retained the starting job despite the return of Tim Howard from a 14-month national team sabbatical.
While the visitors had a 59-41 percent possession advantage in the first half, Altidore dampened the mostly pro-Peruvian crowd 28,896 at RFK Stadium, where the Americans improved to 15-3-5 at their most frequently used venue.