And here comes Sandra ‘JT’ Sully with the late news.
The US Open Wash-up
While the Queen of Queens Bianca Andreescu becomes the latest player to win her first major title by defeating Serena at the US Open, it was a fairly ‘down’ fortnight for Ash Barty, considering most interest in her ended when she was knocked out of the singles a week ago.
The good news is that the Banana Bender is officially back at No.1 in the WTA rankings, and she also reached the Women’s Doubles Final with Vika Azarenka, in her defence of the 2018 title, and in the Final, they were up against the very solid team of the Belgian Elise Mertens, and another Belorussian in Aryna Sabalenka.
Unfortunately, that was where the good news ended, because the 4th seeds were just downright better and took the title.
Still, 7-5 7-5 would suggest it was a close match, and from what I saw before sleep defeated me, it was fairly even, as Barty and Vika were able to penetrate the Belgian/Belorussian serve, but in the end, what decided the match and the title was Azarenka’s serve being broken in the 11th game of both sets.
The last break of serve was especially a killer- Up 40-15, yet our protagonists couldn’t serve it out, after Barty made multiple errors at the net, contributing directly to their own downfall.
The other note was break point chances- Barty & Azarenka converted 2/8… Mertens & Sabalenka were a perfect 4/4.
Anyway, that ended Barty’s time in Flushing Meadows, and I assume she’ll probably need a recharge before playing any tournaments as we now move to Asia.
And then of course, there was the other gerat hero of Australian tennis in Dylan Alcott, gunning for his historic Quad Wheelchair Singles Calendar Grand Slam, and also trying to defend his 2018 title.
It wasn’t quite the Alcott that had dominated at Melbourne, Roland Garros and the All England Club- He did go unbeaten in the Round Robin, but copped his biggest challenge this year, when he had to save 4 match points against Andy Lapthorne in the 2nd Set, before winning the final set 6-3.
Ultimately, Lapthorne defeated David Wagner to meet Alcott again in the Final, and the Brit got his revenge in the sweetest possible way.
Not only did he beat Australia’s favourite Paralympian- He utterly destroyed him.
I can only guess Andy was pissed off about the Ashes.
He did hold all four majors after Wimbledon, but unfortunately, Dylan fell just one win short of a fabled Alcott Slam, ending his 23-match winning streak.
FIBA World Cup: The Boomers dodge the USA in the last 8
With a win on Saturday against the Dominican Republic, the Boomers secured their first Quarter Final appearance at a World Cup/Championship since 1982, when the most well-known name in Australian basketball was the coach.
The plucky World No.11 Aussie battlers took on the might of World No.3 France in Nanjing to decide their Quarter Final opponent, where the losers would get a dreaded matchup with the US and A, and the winners would play the Czech Republic, who aren’t slouches either.
Adding to it, even after the Lithuania win, the Boomers’ record against Europeans at the World Cup was a dire 6-20.
Fair to say, this was the biggest game in Australian Basketball since those dirty Spaniards cheated us out of a Bronze in Rio.
The Boomers’ NBA talent is well-publicised, while the French team was compromised of Euroleague stars like ‘Cheeky’ Nando de Colo, plus NBA regulars like Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier, Nicholas Batum, and Joe Ingles’ Jazz teammate Rudy ‘The Stifle Tower’ Gobert, who is not only the best defensive player in the world, but quite possibly the universe.
Those very long coqs shot at well over 60% from the field, and combined with not commiting a turnover until the 3rd Quarter, they gained the ascendancy and raced out to a 9 point lead, the biggest margin in a game that was neck and neck pretty much all damn night.
Fournier was like a camouflaged sniper in the Khyber Pass, shooting a game-high 31 points, but if he was a sniper, then Patty Mills was… also a sniper, scoring 30 points, and the plucky Aussie battlers fought back and cut the lead down to 4 with a quarter to go.
I also can’t neglect Aron Baynes, who was deadset money from beyond the arc, shooting 21 points (7/9), highlighted by 5/6 from 3.
In an intense final quarter in which the lead never got beyond 4 points, I thought the Aussies were in a bit of trouble when Bogut fouled out with 3:30 to go, and then ‘Delly’ managed to foul Gobert out of the game with 30 seconds to go.
In the dying seconds, Delly was fouled, made his first free throw to put the Boomers ahead again, and then missed his second free throw, which Baynes tried to keep alive, only to put his foot on the line, which gave the French the ball back, down by a point with 4 seconds to go.
And then Mills made a no-look steal on the inbound pass to seal the win, only the second steal the Boomers had for the game (The French had 7)…. and it decided the contest.
A great win for Australian basketball in general, and I probably alluded to it, but the true highlight was the shooting- The French shot 56.9% from field, but the Boomers had them covered, shooting 57.6%, including just under 50% from 3 (13/27).
The first time the Boomers have won 5 consecutive games at a World Cup or the Olympics, and the quest for a historic medal takes another turn for the better.
That win against the Seppos in Melbourne was the spark that started a bushfire.
Rugby: The Wobblies head off for Japan
There’s nothing like beating up on an island minnow the to get you back in form for the Battle For Bill.
The All Blacks should know- They belt us every year.
It was an emotional night for the Wallabies, playing Samoa for the first time since they pulled that funny upset back in 2011, as David Pocock made his first appearance all season, having previously announced he too would retire from international rugby after the World Cup, joining Sekope Kepu and Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Other than that, it was a pretty stock standard night- The Samoans were tough, the Wallabies weren’t clinical, yet they still won, and like most Wallabies’ performances, we learned nothing, thanks in part to Michael Cheika resting a host of the starting 15 for the trip to Nippon.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world, Ireland became the 3rd team in the last month to hold the No.1 Ranking, after it had gone unchanged for a decade.
And that was despite the All-Blacks intentionally playing with 14 men against Tonga… and winning 91-7.
Super Netball: Lightning vs Swifts in the Grand Final
Swifts 60 defeated Vixens 47 @ The Quaycentre
It seems writing off Qualifying Final losers doesn’t just apply to the AFL.
The Swifts seemed to be all but forgotten after they were fooled around by the Lightning, and the the Vixens went in as the hot hand after knocking out the Pies.
This just in folks- Teams do play better when they’ve got a home crowd pumping wind into the sails.
In dominating the time of possession 56-44, the Swifts took full advantage and shot 60/64 (Sam Wallace with 40/42), Paige Hadley played all 60 minutes in the centre like she was a mighty mare, and and then the defensive duo of Sarah Klau and Maddy Turner beat Caitlin Thwaites so badly, that the starting shooter was benched after 5 minutes, and didn’t return.
Dragged within 5 minutes… Even I somehow lasted longer in school footy.
The Swifts got out to a 12 goal lead at the half, yet the Vixens eventually got into the contest and cut the gap to 3 goals, but even still, they had to play perfect netball to stay in it.
They couldn’t sustain it, and the Swifts regained the ascendancy, and the lead just kept on growing again in the 4th.
Of course, that was the last game for a long-term Diamond in Rennae Ingles, who had already announced she was finishing up a fantastic career after 2019, having managed to play another two seasons after retiring to give birth to twins in 2016.
Cricket: Australia’s Women vs The Windies in the Caribbean
In the face of the Atlantic hurricane season, this has been a memorable holiday for Meg Lanning and the ladies in the Caribbean, including Erin Burns, who made her Australian debut at the age of 31.
The Aussies scored 308 in the 1st ODI as Allyssa Healy churned out 122 off 106, and then choked the Windies into 9/130, as Ellyse Perry popped up with 3/17.
And then in the 2nd ODI, the Aussies scored 308 again, and wouldn’t you know it, Perry had a big say it, scoring an unbeaten 112 (Healy also scored 58), and then bowling 3 overs and finishing with 1/5, as the Windies were put in a sleeper hold, being held to 8/157 after their 50 for another convincing loss.
If Cricket Ausralia abducted Ellyse and Steve Smith, and used them to start a high-performance breeding program, the English would forfeit every Ashes series for the next century.
Which is only slightly longer than every series the Poms forfeited after discovering the existence of Shane Warne.
If you include the 33 Perry scored in the 1st ODI, in her last 6 innings across 3 formats (Including the Ashes), Perry has scored 335 runs without being dismissed.
335 runs unbeaten- Or as it’s also known, a Mark Taylor + 1.
Perry’s averages in ODI cricket this year: 96 with the bat, 12 with the ball.
She is the cricketing equivalent of the atomic bomb.