09-20-2019, 01:19 AM
PARIS -- Eugenie Bouchard reached her second straight Grand Slam semifinal Tuesday as she defeated Spains Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-5 at the French Open. However, fellow Canadian Milos Raonic came up short in his bid to reach the mens final four at Roland Garros, dropping a 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-4 decision to Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Earlier this year, Bouchard reached the Australian Open semifinal but lost to eventual champion Li Na of China. The 20-year-old from Westmount, Que., will next meet Russias Maria Sharapova after the 2012 champion beat Spains Garbine Muguruza 1-6, 7-5, 6-1. "Im very content with a win like this," said Bouchard. "It was a battle throughout. She played very well especially on long points. "The last set was key for me. Im really excited to be playing Sharapova in a big match here." Bouchard won the first set in an hour, but dropped the second after losing her last two service games. Suarez Navarro jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third set before the 18th-seeded Canadian fought back with a key break and service holds. "I wouldnt say I surprised myself, no," said Bouchard. "Ive come back in matches before. Tennis can be like that, a bit up and down. I just really tried to forget about what the score was or anything and just tried to play the right way, you know. "Once I started going for my shots a little bit more it started working better. The third set it was just a really cool atmosphere I think for both of us to be playing like that. Even if I was down 5-2 or 4-1 in the third, (I didnt) worry too much -- keep going, keep going, keep going, and it paid off in the end." Bouchard earned a match point but double-faulted. She put a backhand long on a second chance before clinching victory after two hours 22 minutes when her opponent came up short on a return. Bouchard finished with 46 winners, 38 unforced errors and breaks on six of 14 chances. Djokovic, meanwhile, is a six-time major champion but he still needs to win the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam. He reached the semifinals at Roland Garros the last four years, but only made one final, losing to Rafael Nadal in 2012. Raonic, the No. 8 seed from Thornhill, Ont., fired 21 aces but converted only one of two break opportunities in the match, which also lasted two hours 22 minutes. Raonic, the first Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam singles quarter-final in the post-1968 Open era, stalled in the third set but managed to break Djokovic as the second seed was serving for victory at 5-2. Djokovic closed it out two games later when a Raonic forehand sailed wide. The last Canadian to reach a mens singles semifinals at a Grand Slam was William Johnston at the 1923 US Championships. Robert Powell (Wimbledon, 1908) is the only other Canadian to reach a mens singles semifinal. In mixed doubles, Torontos Daniel Nestor and French partner Kristina Mladenovic dropped a 6-3, 1-6, 10-3 quarter-final decision to third seeds Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan and Brazils Bruno Soares. Sharapova, a four-time Grand Slam winner, has won both of her previous matches against Bouchard, including a second-round match last year in Paris. Following the tradition begun in Melbourne earlier this year, a fan tossed a stuffed animal to Bouchard and she took it to her on-court television interview. Former French player Fabrice Santoro then insisted on taking a photo with Bouchard as the crowd cheered. Bouchard is the third Canadian woman to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals after Carling Bassett-Seguso (1984, 1986) and Helen Kelesi (1988, 1989). Bouchard and Bassett-Seguso are the only players to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam (Bassett-Seguso, 1984 US Open). Sharapova, meanwhile, started slow Tuesday by dropping four of her first five games. She then started to land her shots and her serves with more consistency and won nine of the last 10 games. Muguruza, who was playing in a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in her career, eliminated defending champion Serena Williams in the second round. Sharapova lost in the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2011, then won the title a year later to complete a career Grand Slam. She lost in last years final to Williams. "It was so tough losing in the final last year, being the defending champion," Sharapova said. "This year, to come back, I have the extra motivation to go further, and to be back on (this) stage is a really nice feeling." Sharapova opened her match with a double fault, the first of eight in the match. And she lost 15 of the first 20 points. But even though Sharapova held in the fifth game, she was broken again, this time at love, to lose the first set. Things changed rather quickly in the second set. At 1-1, Sharapova finally broke, with some help from Muguruza. The unseeded Spaniard, ranked 35th in the world, double-faulted twice in a row to give Sharapova her second break point of the match. The tall Russian converted when Muguruza sent a backhand long. Although Sharapova was broken again in the set, again with a double fault, she started to hold serve more easily while giving Muguruza more trouble while receiving. By the time the third set started, Sharapova was moving Muguruza all over the court, landing her forehands and backhands easily. The only hiccup came in the fourth game, when Muguruza had five break points but couldnt convert any of them. "That was one of the most important games," Sharapova said. "After I won that game, I certainly gained more confidence." NHL Jerseys From China . It was the first game back in Columbus for Rangers star Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets franchise leader in goals, assists and games. 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Authentic NHL Jerseys Cheap . -- The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms with safety Brock Vereen and QB David Fales on four-year contracts. The Red Wings are forced to look to the future, turnarounds for Malkin and Pacioretty as well as notes on Evander Kane, Phil Kessel, David Perron and more in Scott Cullens latest blog. 1. As the Detroit Red Wings took to the ice for Wednesdays 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, it was without both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for the first time since 2006, a great opportunity for some of the younger Wings forwards -- Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, most notably -- to take on bigger offensive roles. The Wings started the year with a glut of forwards on their roster, even before they made the late decision to re-sign LW Dan Cleary, and it meant that Nyquist had to start the year in the AHL. Tatar remained in the NHL, because he required waivers to get sent down, but even so, Tatar played only five games in October. As extraneous Red Wings forwards like Patrick Eaves and Jordin Tootoo went by the wayside, there was more opportunity for Tatar and, even though he hasnt played big minutes, hes been productive. After scoring a pair of goals against Philadelphia, Tatar has 11 points in 21 games. Nyquist, who didnt need to clear waivers to get sent down, went to the AHL, where he was already a point-per-game scorer for the past couple seasons, and tallied 22 points in 15 games, further proving that he was ready for NHL duty and, upon being recalled, he joined Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen on Detroits top line. Wednesday, Nyquist was with Franzen and Stephen Weiss and contributed an assist, giving him four goals and six points in seven games since he was recalled, thus prompting the question: Why wasnt he part of Detroits roster from Day One? 2. Early in the season, there was such concern about Penguins C Evgeni Malkin, who had 10 points in his first 13 games. Why wasnt Malkin scoring? Such are the lofty expectations when you are one of four players to have at least three 100-point seasons since 2000-2001. But then, the calendar turned to November and Malkin started piling up assists. The game got a little easier when James Neal, Malkins right winger, returned from an injury suffered prior to the second game of the season. Malkins slow start wasnt simply a reflection of poor play, it was also a function of his quality of linemates. With Neal out, Malkin and left winger Jussi Jokinen skated with the likes of Chuck Kobasew, Beau Bennett, Jason Megna and Matt DAgostini, none of whom can be confused for Neal as a finsher. In any event, Malkin is scoring like an elite player. With 25 points in 15 November games, Malkin was six points ahead of the next highest-scoring player (Chicagos Patrick Kane), and, with 19 points during his current nine-game point streak, Malkin has notched 37 points in 29 games, climbing to within one point of teammate Sidney Crosby for the scoring lead. All this production is despite Malkin registering a career-low 3.0 shots on goal per game with a career-low shooting percentage (8.0%). If, once he returns to the lineup from a lower-body injury, those numbers move towards career norms, Malkin may be in line for another 100-point season. 3. Canadiens LW Max Pacioretty also started the year slowly, with four points in his first 12 games, sandwiched around a two-and-a-half week absence due to a hamstring injury. With 48 goals in the previous two seasons, Pacioretty had established himself as a legitimate scoring threat, one that should have been able to get the Canadiens out of their collective scoring funk. And then he did. Pacioretty scored a hat trick at home against Minnesota on November 19, registering 10 shots on goal in the process, then added a pair a couple of games later against Pittasburgh. Two goals against Toronto Saturday night and another against New Jersey Tuesday night left Pacioretty with eight goals (and an assist) in his last eight games, playing primarily with David Desharnais -- shaken from his own disastrous start -- and Brendan Gallagher. If Pacioretty can keep generating shots like this, a career-high 4.2 per game, he could be in for a big season, even having missed eight games already. At the very least, it should make a team think twice, or three times, before trading him. 4. While were discussing shot-generating scoring wingers that find their way into trade talks, Jets LW Evander Kane has been in an out of that rumour mill for the last couple seasons. Even though Kane has generated a career-best 4.15 shots on goal per game, his shooting percentage is a career-low 6.5% (9.2% for his career) and his on-ice shooting percentage is also 6.5%, which is the lowest among forwards that skate in the Jets top nine. Generally, what should be taken from low percentages is that they should regress closer to Kanes career norms, so he ought to be considered a buy-low opportunity right now, both for fantasy owners and NHL teams that might be looking to pry him out of Winnipeg. Kane is currently out of the lineup with a lower-body injury, which isnt exactly enhancing his value, but doesnt appear to be a long-term issue. 5. Since scoring four points against the Edmonton Oilers October 29, Maple Leafs RW Phil Kessel has seven goals and one assist in 15 games. Kessel has recorded 63 shots on goal in that span (4.2 per game), which is even a little better than his season average of 4.0 shots per game, yet thats still just one assist in the last 15 games for a skilled winger playing more than 19 minutes per game. There have been reports about Kessel nursing a wrist injury and that very well may be part of the problem. If the suggestion is that hes having bad luck, thats probably part of it too, yet Kessel still has the highest on-ice shooting percentage of his career so, like his teammates, was due for some regression. 6. Not surprisingly, after starting the year on Washingtons fourth line, Capitals LW Martin Erat has requested a trade, which isnt the easiest thing to make happen, since he comes with a $4.5-million cap hit and has yet to score a goal in 25 games this season. Erat does have seven assists and has been a middle-of-the-pack possession player for the Capitals, but its been an undeniably poor experience in Washington, precipitous fall for a player who scored between 49 and 58 points eery year from 2003-2004 through 2011-2012. That track record is what gives Erat some appeal to a team that hopes he might be able to help out on their second line.dddddddddddd 7. While were bandying about names that have made their way into the trade rumour mill, Maple Leafs D Jake Gardiner of course found his way into those rumours when he was recently a healthy scratch. This usage doesnt come as a surprise, at least not after last seasons extended stay in the AHL and then stint in the press box before suddenly playing top four minutes in the first-round playoff series against Boston. If the Maple Leafs were to move Gardiner, they had better get a pretty sweet return for the player who posts some of the best possesion stats on a team that posts horrendous possession stats. 8. Oilers LW David Perron has been taking his game to a new level with his new team. Sure, he has nine goals and 13 points in the last 12 games, thats good stuff, but hes also been a strong puck-possesion performer, at least in relative terms, and is averaging 3.64 shots on goal per game, way up from 1.75 last year with the St. Louis Blues (and his 1.95 per game over the course of his career). Hes played alongside a variety of linemates, with Boyd Gordon and Ryan Smyth his most common linemates, and its Perron that is driving play when hes on the ice, giving the Oilers even more than they could have reasonably expected when they traded for him. 9. Not getting carried away with modest production from a mucker who has five goals and seven points in 21 games, but Stars LW Ryan Garbutt is suddenly generating shots like hes more than a bottom-of-the-depth chart grinder. Over the last eight games, playing primarily with Vernon Fiddler and Antoine Roussel, Garbutt has four goals and two assists, with 32 shots on goal. Small sample, and all of that, but 4.0 shots on goal per game is notable, so it will be worth keeping an eye on Garbutt to see if the guy who climbed up from Brown University, through the Central Hockey League, ECHL and AHL before reaching the Stars, has a chance to contribute offensively for more than just a couple of weeks. 10. Capitals RW Eric Fehr has found a spot on the second line with Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer and, while his playing time has been inconsistent this year, Fehr has the best possession stats among Washington forwards and has six points (2 G, 4 A) in his last seven games. 11. Islanders LW Michael Grabner has gone 18 games without a point, even while playing mostly with Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey on the second line. He has two goals in 25 games, scoring on an absurd 3.8% of his shots, but the lack of production isnt all bad luck -- hes generating a career-low 2.12 shots on goal per game. 12. Hurricanes LW Jeff Skinner had a three-point game at Washington Tuesday, a bit of a breakout performance while skating with Tuomo Ruutu and Eric Staal on Carolinas top line. Prior to that game, Skinner had two points and 11 shots on goal in the previous six games since coming off the injured list. Considering how much Eric Staals line has struggled this year, its probably worth checking out to see if Skinner can fit in that role. 13. Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky is out for more than a month with a groin strain, leaving Curtis McElhinney to man the crease. McElhinney has been great this season, with a .925 save percentage in eight appearances, and he was good in the AHL last season (.923 SV% in 49 GP with Springfield), but he has never played more than 28 games in an NHL season and has a save percentage of .902 in 77 career games, numbers that will not stack up well if McElhinney is making the next dozen or more starts for Columbus. FIRST NHL GAMES Alex Grant, D, Anaheim - The 24-year-old was acquired from Pittsburgh in the summer for Harrison Zolnierczyk and has 74 points ni 144 career AHL games. He scored a goal in his NHL debut, at San Jose on November 30. John Albert, C, Winnipeg - A sixth-round pick for Atlanta in 2007, Albert played four years at Ohio State, scoring 103 points in 118 games over his last three seasons, and has 40 points in 111 AHL games since. He played a modest 8:29 in his first NHL game with Anthony Peluso and James Wright on the fourth line, but scored on a breakaway. Erik Haula, LW, Minnesota - Drafted in the seventh round in 2009, Haula had 100 points in 80 games during his last two seasons at the University of Minnesota. He has a dozen points in 24 AHL games since and has been fitting in a depth role for the Wild over the last three games. Kevan Miller, D, Boston - Undrafted stay-at-home defenceman who played at the University of Vermont was an injury fill-in for three games and held his own, enough that hell be on call when injuries hit the defence again. Zach Sill, LW, Pittsburgh - A late bloomer who was undrafted and only played in the QMJHL as a 19-and-20-year-old, Sill isnt a big scorer, with 72 points in 273 AHL games, but that kind of experience makes him useful in limited fourth-line minutes. Connor Murphy, D, Phoenix - The 6-foot-5 blueliner was a first-round pick in 2011, Mruphy has ascended quickly, limited to 68 games over two OHL seasons due to injury, then getting the call after a dozen games in the American Hockey League. He scored in his NHL debut, playing more than 22 minutes, but has been working on the third pair since. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay - Taken in the second round in 2011, Kucherov scored 63 points in 33 QMJHL games last season, then opened his first pro campaign with 13 goals and 24 points in 17 games. Hes a skilled forward and, upon being called up, was put on a line with Teddy Purcell and Alex Killorn. Kucherov hasnt scored since lighting the lamp in his debut but, with 11 shots on goal in four games, hes generating opportunities. Reid Boucher, LW, New Jersey - Picked in the fourth round in 2011, Boucher has a heavy shot and scord 62 goals in 68 games for Sarnia of the OHL last season, then got off to a quick start in the AHL this year, with 10 goals and 18 points in 21 games. Making his debut against Montreal Wednesday, Boucher had an assist and scored in the shootout. With injuries in New Jersey, there is an opportunity for Boucher to earn regular time in a scoring role. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. ' ' '