US Tennis Association says it’s still preparing for US Open

As coronavirus cases spike in other parts of the country a month before the U.S. Open is supposed to start in New York, the U.S. Tennis Association said Friday it “continues its plans” to hold its marquee event and another tournament beforehand.

The U.S. Open — usually the year’s last Grand Slam tournament, but the second of 2020 because of the pandemic — is scheduled to run Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center also will host the Western & Southern Open on Aug. 20-28; that tuneup was moved from Cincinnati as part of a doubleheader organized by the USTA.

Players will be allowed on-site on Aug. 16.

A statement released Friday by the USTA said: “We remain confident that our top priority, the health and safety of all involved in both tournaments, remains on track.”

What is unclear at this point is which players will participate. While Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have said she will be at both events, for example, current women’s No. 1 Ash Barty is staying away. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have not made their plans known.

The USTA statement added that details of its health and safety plan will be released closer to the start of competition. The group said it is working with the WTA and ATP tours.

The USTA is putting most players and their limited entourages in specific hotels — creating something of a bubble environment — but also is allowing participants to rent private houses.

Professional tennis has been on hiatus since March because of the coronavirus outbreak. The women’s tour is supposed to return next week with a tournament in Palermo, Italy.

“New York State continues to be one of the safest places in the country as it relates to the COVID-19 virus,”

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Alex Albon must tap into his inner Daniel Ricciardo to keep up with Max Verstappen

Four years ago, Max Verstappen replaced Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix and pulled off a fairytale debut performance to become the youngest driver to win a Formula One race.

While Christian Horner and his team were already impressed by the then 18-year-old’s results for Toro Rosso [now Alpha Tauri], that display not only vindicated their decision to take a chance on the youngster, but also convinced them that they had a future world champion in their garage.

Since then, everything at Red Bull has been geared towards extracting the very best from Verstappen. It’s perhaps less surprising then that Pierre Gasly struggled to settle in after being called up to partner the Dutchman last season.

A myriad of issues plagued Gasly’s 2019 season during which he was consistently well behind his team-mate. Having been lapped by Verstappen in Austria and then again in Hungary, his eventual return to Toro Rosso was inevitable.

He swapped seats with Alex Albon whose initial performance was an improvement, but the 23-year-old has begun to fall off Verstappen’s pace this term.

On average, he’s been over half a second slower than his team-mate in qualifying this season while during the race in Hungary, Verstappen was over 40 seconds ahead at one stage.

It must be said that Albon was in position to challenge for his first win at the opening race in Austria before a collision with Lewis Hamilton as they jostled for second place ended his charge.

The six-time world champion was at fault and was handed a five-second penalty but there was also an air of naivety in Albon’s rushed attempt. With a new set of softs on, he was comfortably quicker than Mercedes and could’ve waited for an easier opportunity but dived in at Turn Five

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ONE: Mark Abelardo submits to Brazilian foe for 2nd straight loss

MANILA, Philippines—Mark “Tyson” Fairtex Abelardo fell to his second straight loss after submitting to Brazil’s Fabricio Andrade less than two minutes into the second round in the ONE: No Surrender card Friday at Impact Arena in Bangkok.

Abelardo struggled against the longer and taller Andrade with the latter keeping his distance with jabs and knees.

The Filipino-Kiwi fighter tried to close the gap at the start of the second but Andrade was waiting to wrap arms around Abelardo’s neck for the rear-naked choke with around a minute elapsed in the second round.

Andrade eventually put Abelardo to sleep for the submission win.

Abelardo (19-8) has now lost three of his last four bouts while Andrade (3-2) captured his third straight win and his debut victory in ONE Championship.

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