I only realised 5 minutes before this went live that this is the 250th post for the Sporting Reviews.
Amazing how much time I’ve wasted.
The jenga blocks tumble at the US Open
The weekend started with 4 Aussies remaining in the singles draw (3 in the Men’s & Ash in the Women’s), and it ended with no Aussies left in the singles draw.
Thus, for the first time in living memory, we have gone a decade in which an Australian male has not won a major.
Thank goodness for Sam & Ash.
Alexei Popyrin gave a good effort against the ever-improving World No.25 Matteo Berrettini, who looked set to get things done easily after winning the opening 2 sets, but Poppy held tough and took the 3rd Set in a tiebreak, and he had a chance to send it into a decider after breaking for 6-5, but Berrettini broke back after saving 3 Set Points, and wrapped up the match in a tiebreak, 7-2.
Saint Nicholas was given the task of following Osaka vs Gauff, as he took on Russian Jack Riewoldt lookalike Andre Rublev.
The 1st Set was simply biding time on serve, then Rublev exploded to life in the tiebreak and raced out to a 5-1 lead, survived a late rally and won the ‘breaker 7-5.
Nick had his chances in the 2nd Set, but the crucial moment seemed to be Rublev’s arsey net cord when Nick had a break point at 4-3, which was just a classic case of “shit happens” in tennis, but then blowing a 4-0 lead in the subsequent tiebreak was just classic Nick.
Rublev came back to win it 7-5, and from there, Kyrgios just lost his way without an avenue into the match, and conceded a cheap service break at 4-2, and despite coming back with a 38 second service game just before the finish, it was a well-earned win for the Russian Riewoldt.
I’ll use a crap analogy, and say that Nick has mannerisms similar to my dog, in that they both behave normally in ways that people don’t consider to be normal.
Nick keeps telling himself that he doesn’t want to be on court, or that Call of Duty finished him off, which is most likely a coping mechanism for his disappointment in losing.
My dog gets excited when random weirdos knock on the door, but instead of happily greeting them, she barks at them as if they’re a threat to human life.
Either way, both of them won’t be appearing in the 2nd week at Flushing Meadows.
And then there was Ash, who reached the 4th Round for the second year running, and took on World No.18 Qiang Wang, who was the highest ranked player she’s played since Roland Garros.
And right from the outside, the rise in quality was on show, and that this Long Island Barty Party wasn’t going to kick on past Sunday.
What was most notable about Ash’s performance was just how far back Wang was forcing her behind the baseline with consistent depth, and this wasn’t once every couple of points- It felt like every damn point.
A 6-2 1st Set rout, and it got even better for the Chinese player, as she broke Barty in the opening game of the 2nd Set with just one break point.
In hindsight, that was the match right there and then.
Barty ended up being 0/9 on Break Points in the 2nd Set- A few of those were lost by some cruel net cords, others off some utterly stupid errors, and the others were just Wang plain and simply out-hitting her.
Making my viewing experience as painful as dabbling in Shintoism, the commentators ESPN plucked out to call the match (I don’t know who the male Seppo was but he was joined by Alexandra Stevenson) made Brian Taylor and Bill Brownless sound like Rhodes Scholars.
First and foremost, there was the audible exclaiming on every frikkin’ minor moment of a point- JESUS H, THE AUDIBLE EXCLAIMING ON EVERY FRIKKIN’ POINT, JUST STOP.
And then there was Stevenson mentioning of weird Chinese medicines during points in relation to Wang being a sickly kid, the “4-3 is a really important game” comment which was straight out of the Channel 9 school of obvious statements, and a bunch of other statements which were most likely not well researched and ripped straight off an iPad in their booth.
Hopefully ESPN do us all a favour and burn all the tapes of the match… and then burn a few other things in Bristol, Connecticut as collateral damage.
It looks like after a non-stop 7 months, Ash needs a good rest before the WTA Finals and the Fed Cup Final, and despite this exit, there is a big positive- She was the only player in the WTA to reach at least the Round of 16 at every major this year.
And if Osaka doesn’t defend her title, Ash will regain the World No.1 ranking, at the very least for a week or two.
Of course, after the Barty Party wound down, Alex De Minaur was the last one standing, and predictably, he lost to Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets, but in the process of reaching the Round of 16, Demon cleared a major career hurdle- He knocked off former finalist Kei Nishikori in the 3rd Round, his maiden Top 10 win… on his 11th attempt.
Super Netball- Semi-Finals
Sunny Coast Lightning 58 defeated NSW Swifts 48 @ USC Stadium
Three years in Super Netball, and three Grand Finals for the Lightning.
Surely that level of success can be put down to the Melbourne Storm factor in their ownership… minus the salary cap rorting.
After the Swifts led at Quarter Time in an entertaining 1st vs 2nd contest, the hosts got to work and took the lead early in the 2nd Quarter, but it was the 3rd where the Lightning struck, blowing the lead out past 10 goals, and pretty much sealing the contest in a low-scoring final.
Laura Langman smashed the Swifts from the centre position, and highlighting how good Pretorius and Maweni were in defence, out of the three players the Swifts used in attack, none of them scored more than 20 goals.
Koenen scored 30 for the Lightning, and Wood scored 22.
The Threepeat balloons are being prepared for a fortnight’s time, and now the Swifts need to beat their major rivals (I’ll fight anyone who says GWS are their main rivals) in the Vixens to have the chance to lose to the Lightning again in a fortnight in the Grand Final.
Melbourne Vixens 62 defeated Collingwood 49 @ The State Netball & Hockey Centre
Some fantastic foresight from whoever organises the Super Netball stadium bookings, by not bothering to clear the schedule for finals weekend months in advance, preparing for the event of a Melbourne team getting a home final.
Instead, there was the Melbourne ESports Open at Melbourne Park, who for all I know, beat the Vixens and Magpies months in advance to the punch and booked out the whole site.
What ended up being was a capacity crowd of merely 3,000 at the smaller SNHC, instead of at least 9,000 at Melbourne Arena, which being a derby final, could easily have been achieved.
Despite some recent advancements, women’s sport in Australia still cops the pointy end.
As for the actual game, the Vixens perfectly executed 5D chess, on the 47th anniversary of Fischer vs Spassky, rendering the Pies’ blowout win last weekend nothing more than moot, and you can very easily pick out the exact moment in the game when the win was beyond all reasonable doubt for the big sister.
Prelim Final, Semi Final, whatever the hell it is, they’re playing it next week against the Swifts.
The EJ Whitten ‘Game‘
A few notes from this almost certainly rigged annual bash of recently retired has-beens and radio characters- Byron Cooke (One of Fev’s running mates on Fox FM) was on the ground for 5 minutes, yet it was so utterly terrible that he now makes me feel confident in my own footballing ability.
And I haven’t played a game in 9 years.
And lastly, I hate to say this, but Glen Jakovich- You’ve been retired for 15 years, but finish up tomorrow.
The Horses: A bittersweet weekend
That first Group 1 of the Melbourne Spring Carnival came and went on Saturday at Caulfield, with the Group 1 Memsie Stakes, in something becoming close to a tradition.
In the end, the Sangropers got it done, as Scales Of Justice won the race for the ever fruity Lindsey Smith and his satellite stable in Ballarat, ridden by Dean Yendall, who much to my disappointment, didn’t declare he had a raging horn after booting home a Group 1 Winner.
And of course, over here in Belmont, Linds also won the feature Idyllic Prince, with Willy Pike booting home Great Again.
But of course, I included the word ‘bittersweet’ for a bloody good reason, and it probably isn’t even the right word.
When I wrote in the Chalk Eaters that being a jockey is statistically the most dangerous profession on land, after the news of Mikaela Claridge’s death that morning at Cranbourne, I didn’t think the unthinkable would happen.
After the day’s racing was done and the replays were being replayed, the news spread that NT jockey Melanie Tyndall (Who was an experienced rider) had died at Fanny Bay in Darwin, after being dislodged at the 300 during Race 3.
Mel was also an officer in the NT Police Force, and in a cruel irony, just one race prior, she had brought up the milestone of her 150th career winner.
I noticed that several news outlets referred to the pair as “Female jockeys”, Because apparently simply writing “Second jockey dies in two days” doesn’t create shock value.
The events carry a disturbing similarity to the last death from a race fall, which was Caitlin Forrest at Murray Bridge in 2014.
Three days before Forrest died (October 16, 2014), Carly-Mae Pye died due to injures sustained in a barrier trial at Rockhampton.
21 riders have died on Australian racecourses in the 21st century, but in the end, racing will go on… because somehow, life finds a way.
Boxing: Zerafa beats Horn in the Battle of Bendigo
It was no Lionel Rose vs Fighting Harada, or Jeff Fenech vs the Mexican-Japanese boxer Zarlos Karate, but Michael ‘Pretty Boy’ Zerafa basically destroyed Jeff ‘Raging’ Horn’s ego in the space of nine rounds in some brutal encounter known as the Battle of Bendigo.
If the stories from Bendigo are true, a punch-up on a Saturday night is considered normalcy.
As a result, Zerafa handing the Queenslander his first defeat in Australia, and basically guaranteeing him Alzheimer’s with all those blows to the head before the referee finally declared a TKO.
Although, for some some reason I kept thinking his name was Daniel Zerafa… probably because he looked like a Daniel.
FIBA World Cup: The Boomers 108 defeat the Canajuns 92 @ Dongguan
If you’re like me and you didn’t watch the 3rd Quarter, a 108-92 scoreline was a pretty fair reflection for the Boomers performance.
Of course, in that 3rd Quarter, the Aussies conceded a record 37 points, and the Canucks ended up taking the lead early in the 4th Quarter, after trailing by as many as 17 points.
Leading the way was the ever-present pest Matthew Delavedova, who scored 24 points, highlighted by 6/10 from 3, and also 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
‘Jingles’ did his thing with 13 points and 9 assists, Chris Goulding scored 16 off the bench, and Andrew Bogut was as consistent as always, and he was hilariously booed by the Chinese fans (Who for some reason also cheered him) until they were hoarse, almost certainly because he’s a vocal member of Mack Horton’s crusade against Sun Yang.
The Boomers should be defeating teams like Canada, and they did defeat Canada.
Golf: Hannah Green wins the LPGA Portland Classic
Hannah Green went a tad underground after claiming the Women’s PGA Championship, but she’s back again to claim her 2nd career title in Portland, Oregon!
The Green Machine carded a final round 5 under (With just one bogey) to finish on a 72-hole -21, winning the title with a clutch putt to defeat the 18-year-old American Yealimi Noh (Who isn’t a member of the LPGA yet) by one shot.
I wonder if the Seppo commentators incessantly mentioned the fact that Noh is 18-years-old, like how the ESPN commentators at the US Open popped my ear drums with their mentions of Coco Gauff being 15-years-old.
Anyway, she may have only been up against an 18-year-old, but coming back from being 3 shots down with 4 holes to go is still to go is still a massive comeback under any circumstances.
Unless you’re playing Greg Norman on a Sunday at a major.