Kenin, 21, will face unseeded Swiatek, 19, in French final

PARIS — Sofia Kenin entered 2020 with an 11-11 record in Grand Slam action. She never had made the quarterfinals at any clay-court tournament until this trip to Roland Garros — and lost her only tuneup match on the surface 6-0, 6-0 last month.

Iga Swiatek is just 19. She’s ranked 54th. She’s never won a tour-level title of any sort. She’d never before been past the fourth round at a major tournament.

Look at the two of them now — French Open finalists.

Already the owner of a major trophy from this year’s Australian Open, the No. 4-seeded Kenin moved into the title match in Paris by beating No. 7 Petra Kvitova 6-4, 7-5 on Thursday.

“My mentality has obviously changed,” said Kenin, who said she derived a boost of confidence from upsetting Serena Williams at Roland Garros a year ago. “I feel like I should be getting deep in a tournament, but try not to put pressure on myself.”

The 21-year-old American will carry a 16-1 mark in Grand Slam action this season into Saturday’s matchup against Poland’s Swiatek.

“I’m going to be, like, an `underdog,”’ Swiatek said, using her fingers to make air quotes.

Maybe. On the other hand, consider how dominant she has been along the way to becoming the lowest-ranked women’s finalist at Roland Garros since the WTA computer rankings began in 1975. Her latest lopsided win was via a 6-2, 6-1 score against Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska.

“It seems unreal,” Swiatek said. “On one hand, I know that I can play great tennis. On the other hand, it’s kind of surprising for me.”

She has won all 12 sets she’s played in the tournament, dropping merely 23 games.

Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, came in having won every set, too. But as Kenin put

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IPL 2020: Pace turning out to be key for teams as spin takes a backseat in the UAE

When news of the 2020 Indian Premier League being moved to the UAE was announced, spinners were licking their lips at the prospect of bowling on the slower tracks in the region. The shift in strategy was evident with teams replenishing their spin arsenal at every perceivable opportunity.

When Australia pacer Kane Richardson pulled out of the tournament late in August, Royal Challengers Bangalore drafted in his leg-spinning compatriot Adam Zampa as a replacement.

When Lasith Malinga announced his unavailability for the IPL, several expected Mumbai Indians to follow Bangalore’s cue and bring in a spinner as a replacement. Eyebrows were certainly raised when the defending champions opted to turn their attentions towards a pacer in James Pattinson instead, especially given his status as a red-ball specialist.

Nearly three weeks since the tournament got under way in Dubai, it is Mumbai’s stand which is being vindicated. The UAE’s pitches, with special mention to Sharjah, have not really been the spinner’s paradise as anticipated.

PACE IS MAKING THE DIFFERENCE

Image credit – BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

As many as eight of the top 10 wicket-takers in the competitions so far are pacers, including the four highest spots in the table. Pace has been the key to taking wickets in the powerplay as well as death overs, with overseas fast bowlers in particular standing out.

In fact, Pattinson looks like an inspired addition for Mumbai with the Aussie forging a lethal trio alongside Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah. Together, the three fast bowlers have combined to snare 30 wickets for Mumbai in just six matches.

Meanwhile, Delhi Capitals are reaping the rewards of pairing Kagiso Rabada with fellow South African pacer Anrich Nortje. The Proteas duo has been on fire for the resurgent Capitals and have fetched 19 wickets between them in five appearances. Rabada

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French trial of Madonna stage deaths finally begins

Madonna at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards New York on May 04, 2019 in New York City. Image: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for GLAAD/AFP

It took 11 years, but a trial stemming from the fatal collapse of a stage being set up for a Madonna concert in the southern French city of Marseille finally got underway on Wednesday.

Two workers died in the accident on July 16, 2009 and eight were injured, one of whom committed suicide two years later.

A total of eleven people and corporate entities have been charged with manslaughter, causing unintended injuries and several breaches of the labour law in connection with the accident.

Madonna herself has not spoken with an investigating magistrate because she said she had nothing to do with the technical details of her shows.

The singer did present her condolences to the victim’s families.

Three days before she was to perform at Marseille’s Velodrome football stadium, the stage’s roof collapsed, killing Charles Criscenzo, 52, and Charles Prow, 23.

Giuseppe di Silvestro, who was among those injured, killed himself two years after the accident.

After a 10-year investigation, two postponements and a suspension, the trial began with tribunal president Marie-Pierre Attali underscoring “the need to pay attention to the civil parties and their loved ones, who really need this trial to take place.”

She noted that additional delays, in particular owing to the coronavirus, must be avoided at all costs.

Among the 11 defendants are Live Nation France 2006, which organized the concert, the Edwin Shirley Group (ESG) which owned the stage, Tour Concept France which helped set it up, Mediaco, a company that owned a crane implicated in the accident, and Scott Seaton, a British national hired by ESG as a foreman.

He was present Wednesday, as were the head of Tour

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