The US Open women's singles final delivered once again as a fascinating spectacle ended with an emerging star defeating arguably the greatest player to pick up a racquet.

Bianca Andreescu won her first grand slam title in her first main draw appearance at the US Open by denying Serena Williams a record-tying 24th major.

Andreescu claimed victory despite a furious comeback from Williams in a second set in which a deafening crowd attempted to will the American into forcing a decider.

There was a clear indicator of how much support Williams would have during her practice session prior to the showpiece.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

FAN SOBS AT SERENA PRACTICE

Just a few hours before her clash with Andreescu, Williams took to the practice courts, briefly greeting men's finalist Rafael Nadal as he walked off following the end of his session.

The mere sight of the 23-time grand slam champion was too much to handle for one fan, who immediately began sobbing upon spotting the 37-year-old.

Unfortunately for Serena and her fans, it was to be a day that ended in tears.

MUTED CELEBRATIONS FOR MURRAY

Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands successfully defended their mixed doubles title, defeating top seeds Michael Venus and Chan Hao-ching in the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

There were no plans for major celebrations, however, with Mattek-Sands telling a media conference: "I'm making him drink some champagne out of the trophy, we're having some pizza. But he's leaving. It's not like we're partying till 4 a.m. tonight.

"Next time."

"Yeah, next year," Murray replied.

SYLVAIN SHARES THE GLORY

The Andreescu team was able to celebrate winning two trophies as, at an emotional ceremony after her media conference, the Canadian's coach Sylvain Bruneau was also presented with one.

Bruneau initially held the trophy the wrong way and apologised, joking: "I'm not used to holding trophies."

Andreescu's response perfectly encapsulated her remarkable confidence. "Well get used to it," said the champion.

On the evidence of Saturday, Bruneau can indeed look forward to watching his protege secure many more major titles.

It will be a familiar scenario for Rafael Nadal when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final on Sunday.

Nadal will be taking on a first-time grand slam finalist for the third successive year.

Six of Nadal's previous 26 major finals have been against debutants in that arena and the Spaniard has predictably dominated such matchups.

Here we look back at the 18-time grand slam champion's record against first-timers ahead of what should be an intriguing battle with Medvedev.

 

2005 French Open v Mariano Puerta: Won 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5

Nadal's first major final saw him battle another debutant in Mariano Puerta at Roland Garros. The Argentinian took the first set in a tie-break but Nadal dominated from there to complete a 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 7-5 win.

It would mark the start of nine French Open wins in 10 years as Nadal solidified his reputation as the King of Clay. Puerta, meanwhile, received a second suspension for a doping offence and never returned to such a stage.

2010 Wimbledon v Tomas Berdych: Won 6-3 7-5 6-4

Two years after he won arguably the greatest ever final at the All England Club by beating Roger Federer in five sets, Nadal enjoyed a much more serene victory in what still stands as Berdych's sole major final.

Nadal saw off Andy Murray in the semi-finals while Berdych had stunningly beaten Federer and then Novak Djokovic to progress to the final. However, he ran out of steam against Nadal in routine fashion.

2013 French Open v David Ferrer: Won 6-3 6-2 6-3

Nadal had to come through an epic five-setter with Djokovic in the last four to reach the final but still had far too much for his compatriot, losing just eight games across three sets.

The victory secured his eighth French Open title but he would have to wait four more years for La Decima.

2014 Australian Open v Stan Wawrinka: Lost 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3

Wawrinka had fallen just short in his previous grand slam, losing in the semi-finals at the 2013 US Open, but the Swiss was inspired in Melbourne as he defeated Djokovic in five sets in the quarter-finals and needed under two and a half hours to see off Nadal.

The Spaniard did win the third set to suggest a comeback was on the cards, but this was Wawrinka's day and he served the fourth out to win the first of three major titles.

2017 US Open v Kevin Anderson: Won 6-3 6-3 6-4

Nadal enjoyed a remarkable 2017, reaching three major finals after many thought his days of contending for slams were over.

He lost a five-set thriller to Federer in Australia before completing La Decima against Wawrinka in Paris.

A stunning year was rounded off in New York as the absence of Djokovic and Murray and Federer's quarter-final exit opened up the draw, with surprise package Anderson the beneficiary.

Nadal made light work of the big-serving South African, though, and faces another player who profited from an open draw on Sunday. Medvedev, however, promises to present a much stiffer challenge.

2018 French Open v Dominic Thiem: Won 6-4 6-3 6-2

The first of two meetings with the Austrian in the decider at Roland Garros was much more one-sided than the second, though he still needed two hours and 42 minutes to see off Thiem.

Thiem took a set off Nadal a year later in a rematch, indicating the possible start of an intriguing clay-court rivalry in the coming years.

If his performances at Flushing Meadows are any evidence, Nadal should see plenty more of Medvedev in the latter stages of his career.

The other side of the net from Serena Williams at the US Open is a lonely place.

It's extremely lonely when you are in the final and have just spurned two chances to serve out to win a grand slam, with a packed crowd bursting for you to collapse in the biggest match of your career.

That was the challenge 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu faced at Flushing Meadows on Saturday, and at that point it looked very much as if the vast majority of the fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium were going to get their wish.

For Williams has broken the hearts of so many opponents throughout her glorious career that has encompassed 23 grand slam titles. Her resilience and remarkable ability to come back from the death have been the defining features of the greatest Open Era career in professional tennis.

As Andreescu stuck her fingers in her ears in a vain attempt to drown out deafening noise that greeted Williams going 40-0 up on the Canadian's serve to cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-4, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone inside the planet's largest tennis stadium that did not believe a history-making comeback was about to be made.

It didn't matter that Williams had been completely outplayed for a set and a half. It didn't matter that she had served pitifully for the vast majority of the match. All that mattered was who had the momentum, and it was firmly in the possession of the player who has long since made the most devastating use of it.

With this contest featuring the largest age gap between grand slam finalists in the Open Era, the odds were firmly on Williams using her experience and riding the tidal wave building against an opponent who appeared increasingly powerless to stop it.

Williams' long history of completing spectacular turnarounds may have seemed key at that moment. However, it was Andreescu's recent history of thriving in pressure situations and closing out matches that ultimately proved instructive in her incredible 6-3 7-5 triumph.

Andreescu came into the final having not lost a completed match since March and won all of her seven previous encounters with top-10 opponents. Her prior three matches at the US Open had seen her survive a second-set blip against Taylor Townsend, come from a set down to defeat Elise Mertens and recover from a 5-2 deficit in the second set to claim victory over Belinda Bencic in the semi-final.

Even at her tender age, Andreescu is battle hardened and she proved it once again, rediscovering her composure and her confidence on serve to hold, and finding her fierce forehand in the subsequent game as the teenager chose not to settle for the tie-break, but to go on the attack.

Had she done otherwise and lost the tie-break, the odds would have been firmly in favour of Williams going on to win the decider and a historic title in handsome fashion.

Instead it was Williams who cracked in the most crucial juncture of a match, as a forehand winner saw Andreescu complete one of the most unpredictable championship runs of recent memory in her main draw debut.

It leaves Williams facing a hard truth. The other side of the net from her is a lonely place, but it's one an increasing number of her rivals are becoming more comfortable in.

Williams understandably does not put much stock in her 2018 Wimbledon final defeat to Angelique Kerber, given it came less than a year after she gave birth to her daughter. 

There is a lot of weight, though, in the three major final losses that have followed. Naomi Osaka rose to the occasion on the same stage as Andreescu 12 months ago, and Williams was dismantled by Simona Halep at the All England Club in July.

Against Andreescu she was a comfortable second best for all but four games and, when it came time for her to deliver the blows that would change the course of the contest for good, she found her opponent more ready to seize the opportunity and the title.

Williams conceded in her post-match media conference that she did not believe Serena showed up.

She will be 38 by the time she has another chance to "show up" at the Australian Open and, with Osaka, Andreescu and an ever expanding cast of determined young women showing no fear in facing her, it is fair to question whether it will even make a difference if she does.

Bianca Andreescu claimed the biggest win of her career on Saturday, but the teenager's US Open triumph was just her latest over a top-10 player.

The 19-year-old Canadian beat Serena Williams in straight sets at Arthur Ashe Stadium for her first grand slam title.

Andreescu now holds an 8-0 record over top-10 players in her career, with each of those wins coming in 2019, showcasing her ability to step up against the best.

Omnisport takes a look at the teenager's top-10 wins.

2019 Auckland Open: defeated Caroline Wozniacki (1) 6-4 6-4

A qualifier facing the top seed, Andreescu stunned Wozniacki in Auckland in January. She was ranked 152nd in the world at the time.

2019 Indian Wells Open: defeated Elina Svitolina (6) 6-3 2-6 6-4

Andreescu put together a fine run on her way to a first WTA Tour title at Indian Wells, including saving nine of 10 break points in the final set in a semi-final win over Svitolina.

2019 Indian Wells Open: defeated Angelique Kerber (8) 6-4 3-6 6-4

A wildcard, Andreescu joined Williams (1999), Kim Clijsters (2005) and Naomi Osaka (2018) as the only unseeded champions at Indian Wells.

2019 Miami Open: defeated Angelique Kerber (8) 6-4 4-6 6-1

Less than a week after beating Kerber in the final at Indian Wells, Andreescu repeated the feat in Miami.

2019 Rogers Cup: defeated Kiki Bertens (5) 6-1 6-7 (7-9) 6-4

Andreescu's run in Toronto surely sparked hopes she could contend at Flushing Meadows, beginning with her last-16 victory over Bertens.

2019 Rogers Cup: defeated Karolina Pliskova (3) 6-0 2-6 6-4

Andreescu made it four straight three-set wins by overcoming Pliskova, again delivering in a key moment by breaking decisively in the ninth game of the decider.

2019 Rogers Cup: defeated Serena Williams (8) 3-1 ret.

It may not have been the way she wanted to win a title at home, but Andreescu was ahead in the final when Williams retired due to a back injury.

2019 US Open: defeated Serena Williams 6-3 7-5

She got another chance in New York and delivered an impressive display in front of a raucous crowd supporting the American great. After taking the first set, Andreescu saw Williams come from 5-1 down in the second, only to steady and close out her maiden major success.

Serena Williams' quest for a 24th grand slam title continues after she succumbed to an inspired performance by teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu in the US Open final.

The 19-year-old Canadian capped an extraordinary rise in 2019 by clinching the final slam of the season at Flushing Meadows with a 6-3 7-5 victory, maintaining her incredible run of having never lost to a top-10 player.

While it was Andreescu this time around, it was Naomi Osaka who beat Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium in 2018, with the 37-year-old having been stuck on 23 victories – one shy of Margaret Court's record – since January 2017.

For a spell in a dramatic second set, it looked as though Williams had the upper hand, but Andreescu held firm to condemn her opponent to a fourth successive grand slam final defeat.

KERBER PROVES TOO MUCH AT WIMBLEDON

Williams was around eight weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open against her sister Venus in January 2017 and, after pulling out of the Indian Wells and Miami Opens, the then world number one confirmed she was expecting her first child.

She returned to tennis in 2018, making her grand slam comeback at Roland Garros. However, it was at Wimbledon that Williams got back into her grand slam stride, until she met Angelique Kerber, who was in no mood to give up on a chance to clinch a maiden Wimbledon crown and won 6-3 6-3. 

"To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried," said an emotional Williams, just 10 months after giving birth.  

CONTROVERSY OVERSHADOWS OSAKA'S TRIUMPH

Osaka's sensational triumph should have been the main story from the 2018 US Open final, but unfortunately Williams stole the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Williams' tournament ended in controversy, as she received a game penalty in the second set after she had reacted badly to a code violation issued by the chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

She demanded an apology from Ramos, who Williams accused of being a "liar" and a "thief" after she received a further two violations for smashing her racket and abusing the umpire.

HALEP SHOWS NO MERCY

After a quarter-final defeat in Melbourne and a round-of-32 exit in Paris, Williams returned to grand slam contention as she charged to the final at Wimbledon earlier this year.   But former world number one Simona Halep put in one of the best – if not the best – performances of her career to brush her opponent aside 6-2 6-2, taking just 56 minutes to do so.   "I don't think it's a surprise for anyone to play great against me," Williams said. "When someone plays lights out, there's really not much you can do. You just have to understand that that was their day today."

NO FAIRYTALE IN NEW YORK

A chance at Flushing Meadows redemption came in Saturday's final. Osaka had been reduced to tears at the end of the 2018 final, in part it seemed due to the partisan crowd in Williams' favour that day, with the youngster apologising for beating the fan favourite.

However, despite equally vociferous support at Arthur Ashe, Williams could not muster enough to beat the exceptional Andreescu.

A stunning recovery seemed on when Williams fought back from 5-1 down to draw level in the second set, but Andreescu – who was not born when Williams won the 1999 title – regained her composure to seal a memorable victory on her major final debut.

Baker Mayfield is going to be an NFL great and does not care about pundits' criticism, according to Cleveland Browns team-mate Jamie Gillan.

Quarterback Mayfield was selected with the first overall pick by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft and went 6-7 as a starter for Cleveland in his rookie season.

However, Mayfield is a man who splits opinion due to his outspoken nature, which included taking a dig at ex-team-mate Duke Johnson for requesting a trade.

Mayfield has also taken aim at Giants fans following the trade of Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns, while he said "it blows my mind" when the New York franchise picked Duke QB Daniel Jones with the sixth pick in April's draft.

Two-time Super Bowl winner Osi Umenyiora, who played for the Giants and the Atlanta Falcons during his career and is now a prominent pundit, this week said when previewing the season with BBC Sport: "I cannot stand this young man.

"I tried to give him a chance because I liked him coming out of college but I mean this guy just keeps spouting off at the mouth man, you are a quarterback, you are an endangered species man because you're so protected. 

"You shouldn't be talking like that, if I was still playing this is the kind of guy we would sack, remove his helmet, take the football and shove it directly down his throat."

But Scotsman Gillan, picked up as a free agent by the Browns and retained on their roster for this season, defended Mayfield and said any athlete gives little credence to what is said about them.

"I don't know who that is or why he said that, a lot of people have opinions on people," Gillan said. 

"He's a fantastic guy and he's that good for a reason because he believes in himself and that he is number one. 

"Who cares what that guy says and what other people say? That's just his opinion. You can't listen to that sort of stuff and he won't, that's why he's going to be great. 

"We don't care what people say on the TV etc. We're going out to do our jobs and win games and if that's his opinion, whatever! Baker is an awesome guy who's going to do great this season."

Gillan moved to America at the age of 16 and the rugby-mad Scotsman took up American football as a punter in high school to hone his kicking skills.

Six years later and he was retained by the Browns at the expense of Super Bowl winner Britton Colquitt.

Now sharing a locker room with the likes of Mayfield, Beckham and Jarvis Landry, Gillan says his new team-mates have been great to work with.

"They've been fantastic. I get a bit of a rookie banter, people just having a little laugh you know but at the end of the day everybody has been supportive and fantastic," he added. 

"They know how cut-throat the business is and I feel like in this business you need to show that you're a team player. Everybody can see the people who are there for themselves or those who want to be a team player. 

"If you keep working really hard and tell them that you want to be on this team and want to be great, people will respond well. 

"That's just how I've always been. I'm always going be a team player. I'm always going to want to win with the team. I did not like losing at all when I was young. So that's how I am, and I've been getting along with everybody and I always will."


Watch Jamie Gillan in action as the Cleveland Browns host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday 8th September on Sky Sports Action at 17:00 and Sky Sports Main Event at 18:00. You can also catch-up on the action on Tuesday with the NFL This Week highlights show available on BBC Two and iPlayer.

It may raise a few eyebrows that a proud, rugby-mad Scotsman like Jamie Gillan would admit his role model growing up was one of England's greatest ever players.

"Jonny Wilkinson was my favourite rugby player. When YouTube first appeared, as a kid, I think I watched every YouTube highlights video of Jonny Wilkinson," Gillan said of the hero of England's 2003 Rugby World Cup triumph. 

"I've probably watched them about 100 times each. I loved how he played. He played with a lot of heart and was an awesome kicker as well. 

"I also liked watching [former Scotland fly-half] Chris Paterson kick conversions. I like him and Jonny Wilkinson. I looked up to Jonny Wilkinson the most, I liked watching how he played."

It is that sort of forensic-like analysis and willingness to learn that helped Gillan on a path from aspiring rugby union international to a career in the NFL as a punter with the Cleveland Browns.

Growing up in Inverness, Gillan spent four years playing for the youth teams of Highland RFC before relocating to Merchiston Castle boarding school in Edinburgh where he went to chase his dream of playing for Scotland.

But the course of Gillan's personal journey would change at the age of 16. His father Colin, a navigator with the Royal Air Force, was posted to Maryland.

"It was a really big decision that me and my family made. I was doing really well in Merchiston. I got really good results in my GCSEs and had just come off winning the Scottish schools cup for youth 16s," Gillan said of the life-altering moment. 

"We had a really great team, I didn't want to leave! I was rugby mad and we had such a stellar team, I really enjoyed playing. 

"My goal was to play professional rugby and pull on the Scotland jersey one day, but with my parents moving across the Atlantic and the fact my Dad didn't want to be that far away from us, I decided to move out.

"Coming to school in America was way different, having to do the different tests and classes. There were some subjects I had dropped when I was 14 years old, but I had to do them again over here which made it more difficult." 

Fast forward six years and Gillan is about to make his NFL debut against the Tennessee Titans for an ambitious Browns side that boasts superstar talent in the form of Odell Beckham Jr, Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry.

But American football was not necessarily at the forefront of Gillan's mind from the second he touched down Stateside.

It was only when Gillan sought out the coach of his high-school team – the man credited with coining his 'Scottish Hammer' nickname – with the intention of honing his kicking skills and staying fit to play rugby that things accelerated.

His hammer of a left boot caught the eyes of scouts and scholarship offers soon arrived for Gillan, who rocked up at the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff.

College life provided another culture shock. The gruelling demands of mixing a full training schedule with studies and sleep deprivation was an experience he credits with preparing him for the NFL.

"Going into college life was even crazier because you're doing classes per semester, so you've only got two months to finish these classes and with the NCAA rules you have to take a certain number of classes," he reflected.

"A lot of people don't realise but playing college sports is ridiculously hard, in terms of your timetable and the amount of sleep you're getting. You're up at 5am running until you're throwing up. We've got five classes, have to squeeze in some food and lift right after that for an hour and a half, then punting for two hours, then dinner, then study hall/team meetings before getting into bed around 11.30/12pm. 

"We're doing that Monday-Friday during the season. During the offseason you're doing it for about two months and in the summer, you stay doing the same thing on top of doing the work. It's a hard schedule but it moulds you well if you stick to it and take it and run with it. I ended up doing okay and playing in the NFL so…"

Gillan went undrafted in April's draft, not uncommon for punters, but was picked up by the Browns in free agency and was in direct competition with Super Bowl winner Britton Colquitt for a place on the roster.

Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer had a tough decision on his hands, but the raw potential of Gillan – whose rugby-style tackling adds another dimension – saw him earn the nod.

Priefer admitted "it would have been very difficult to let a guy like Jamie out the building" but Gillan – who learned of the news while in the Flying Monkey Pub with his father – would have had no regrets regardless of the outcome.

"I was out with my dad enjoying myself a little bit. It was like D-Day, everyone was finding out if they were cut or put on the practice squad or traded or making the team," he said. 

"I didn't have a whole lot of emotions to be honest. I think my dad was more emotional and nervous than I was because I knew what I had done in the past four months. 

"I know what I have done in the pre-season. I've worked really hard and regardless of what happens, I can sit back and be happy with what I've done. I didn't know if I was going to get cut, traded or make the team so I was just enjoying the experience. 

"I didn't want to be in my room or hanging out and not really doing much. Me and my dad were like let's go out and enjoy ourselves and see what happens. So, we did and then I got the phone call from the GM saying that I made the team, so I was extremely happy."  

Gillan insists he has not felt overawed by sharing a locker room with his more globally recognised team-mates, who he says have welcomed him with open arms.

That's not to say there hasn't been any playful hazing.

"Yeah there is a little bit," he said. "We had to get up and sing in front of the team, so that was fun. 

"I sung Evil Scotsman by Billy Connelly in front of the whole team and they thought that was really funny, so you know little stuff like that makes it fun.

"I get a bit of a rookie banter, people just having a little laugh you know but at the end of the day everybody has been supportive and fantastic."


Watch Jamie Gillan in action as the Cleveland Browns host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday 8th September on Sky Sports Action at 17:00 and Sky Sports Main Event at 18:00. You can also catch-up on the action on Tuesday with the NFL This Week highlights show available on BBC Two and iPlayer.

The Antonio Brown Era in Oakland is over before it even began, after the Raiders decided to release the wideout on Saturday.

Elite players rarely stay on the market for long and Brown's agent has made it clear his client is looking to explore his options.

ESPN's Adam Schefter quoted Brown's representative, Drew Rosenhaus, as saying: "Now that Antonio is a free agent, we are focused on the future and I will immediately work on signing him to a new team. Antonio is looking forward to a new beginning."

There is surely no way 30 teams - excluding the Pittsburgh Steelers, who traded Brown to Oakland following a fallout, and Raiders - could pass on a chance to land one of the NFL's best, right?

Here are three teams that should consider signing Antonio Brown.

 

New England Patriots

New England are bound to pop up in plenty of people's heads. The Patriots have an elite coach in Bill Belichick, a tight-knit system and certainly are no strangers to taking risks. While last year's gamble that brought Josh Gordon over from the Cleveland Browns did not quite work out in 2018, the wideout made valuable contributions en route to the Patriots' latest Super Bowl win. Better yet, he will have a chance to redeem himself this year. The jury is still out on whether they made the right choice, so why not give it another go?

Brown, 31, is still at the peak of his career and has eclipsed 1,200 receiving yards in six consecutive seasons. He would certainly improve a receiving corps that already features Gordon, Demaryius Thomas and Julian Edelman.

If Brown wants to play for a winner, joining a team that's won three of the last five Super Bowls might not be a bad idea.

 

Dallas Cowboys

America's team already has plenty of drama surrounding it, so why not add more? Surely Jerry Jones has at least considered bringing Brown aboard.

Dallas has a dynamic running back in Ezekiel Elliott, a dangerous dual threat quarterback under center in Dak Prescott and received great production from Amari Cooper after acquiring the wideout in a midseason trade last year.

With Brown in the fold, the Cowboys would have an abundance of elite options. If there's one statement move Dallas could make to show it's dedicated to winning now, it's this.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals owner Mike Brown has been changing Cincinnati's culture by taking chances on wayward players over the years. If Adam 'Pacman' Jones and Vontaze Burfict could carve out roles, Brown might be able to do the same.

But that is not the only reason this move could make sense.

A.J .Green has been at the heart of Cincinnati's offense for years but he is expected to miss the start of 2019 due to an ankle injury he suffered in practice this offseason. If Green misses the first half of the campaign, pairing him with Brown would allow him to ease back into things while demanding a little less attention every play.

Tyler Boyd had a breakout season in 2018 and John Ross has the breakaway speed to be a major downfield threat moving forward. Then there's tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Joe Mixon.

An explosive player like Brown that can open up the field might be just what Cincinnati needs to rebound from last year's 6-10 finish.

It was only a matter of time before Australia paceman Mitchell Starc left his mark on the Ashes series.

Starc played no part in the tourists' win at Edgbaston, a draw at Lord's or England's astonishing triumph at Headingley.

The left-arm quick was unleashed for the pivotal fourth Test at Old Trafford, but was expensive with his radar off on day three as Australia looked to strengthen their grip on the match.

Starc's time came when he was tossed the second new ball under grey skies in Manchester on the penultimate day.

England were in desperate need of something special when they resumed on 200-5 in reply to 497-8 declared, knowing a defeat would put them 2-1 down and unable to regain the urn.

Much rested on the shoulders on Ben Stokes, match-winner at Headingley with an astonishing unbeaten century, and Jonny Bairstow when they marched out at the start of the day.

Starc ensured neither man remained at the crease for long, roaring in from the Brian Statham End like a man on a mission with a point to prove.

Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins were outstanding on the third day as Starc sprayed it around.

It was a different story when the 29-year-old steamed in from the same end with a new missile in hand, generating late swing to clean Bairstow up with a sharp delivery.

He then claimed the huge scalp of Stokes, who nicked one that nipped away off the seam into the safe hands of Steve Smith.

Starc sent Stuart Broad's off stump cartwheeling from the other end after lunch before Cummins bowled Jos Buttler to dismiss England for 301.

The lethal Starc finished with figures of 3-80 as he demonstrated Australia's embarrassment of riches in the bowling department.

A first-innings lead of 196 has Tim Paine's side scenting victory and Starc is surely not finished yet as they strive to keep the urn.

Rafael Nadal will unquestionably go down as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and another of the sport's legends was honoured at the US Open before his semi-final.

The man known as Rocket Rod received recognition for a feat no player has been able to replicate, before taking in Nadal's straight-sets win over Matteo Berrettini.

Nadal set up a final with Daniil Medvedev, who defeated Grigor Dimitrov, but the winner of their clash will have to go some way to match the celebrations that marked the end of the men's doubles showpiece.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

GOOD WEATHER FOR DUCKS

Very little play was possible on the outside courts as heavy rain persisted throughout day 12.

Those dressed for warmer weather may have needed to make an emergency purchase to stay dry.

Thankfully the US Open shop has plenty of options for those needing to wrap up.

It is said rain is good weather for ducks and there are plenty of the rubber variety on offer for those looking to make the bizarre move of adding tennis memorabilia to their bathroom.

FARAH AND CABAL GO BACK TO BACK

Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal secured back-to-back grand slam titles at Arthur Ashe Stadium as the Colombian men's doubles team overcame Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-4 7-5.

The crowd was filled with fans wearing Colombia national football team jerseys, who greeted the pair claiming match point with a huge roar.

Farah is expecting wilder celebrations when they return to their homeland, telling a post-match media conference: "The way Colombia received us when we came back from Wimbledon was really breathtaking. I don't even want to think about how crazy it's gonna be now that we come back from the US Open.

"I think that back-to-back is quite an achievement, and we just have to say, thank you, Colombia, for all that support and the good vibes they always give us. We are very happy to represent our country in the way that we are doing it."

ROCKET ROD HONOURED

Rod Laver has been in attendance throughout the tournament at Flushing Meadows, and on Friday the 50th anniversary of his second Grand Slam was celebrated.

Laver is the only man in history to win the calendar Grand Slam twice, his second coming at the 1969 US Open.

To honour that incredible achievement, Laver was presented with a replica of the US Open trophy and then with a plaque from representatives of all four major tournaments as the Arthur Ashe crowd came to its feet to show its appreciation for Rocket Rod.

As players walk out of the the tunnel and into Arthur Ashe Stadium, they are greeted by a plaque adorned with four famous words uttered by Billie Jean King - "Pressure is a privilege".

Of all the greats to have graced the sport of tennis, no player has embraced that motto more than Serena Williams.

At her most dangerous with her back against the wall, Williams' major-trophy laden career has been defined by the American's ability to thrive when the match situation appears most dire, to ratchet up the intensity and summon her very best when it is most needed.

However, standing between her and a record-tying 24th grand slam title in the US Open final is a teenager who may be her heir apparent in that regard.

Bianca Andreescu only has eight major match wins to her name, six of them coming in this year's event at Flushing Meadows. She was not even born when Williams appeared in her first slam final.

The contrast between the two finalists could not be more stark. Yet, when it comes to on-court intensity, there is a strong argument that Andreescu is already the 37-year-old's equal.

If she continues to produce turnarounds akin to her second-set comeback in the semi-final with Belinda Bencic, the Canadian will soon have a similar reputation for excelling in the moments the vast majority shrink under.

Aptly described as a "warrior and a street fighter" by her coach Sylvain Bruneau on Friday, at the age of 19 Andreescu is a wonderfully entertaining player to watch.

She is blessed with great power and brings tremendous variety to her game, but it is what she does after and in-between points that makes so mesmeric.

Andreescu lives and breathes for every point. In each game she seems to fight with her own internal sense of frustation and it is a surprise when a point she wins is not greeted by a vociferous "Yes! C'mon!" or by her barking at her support team.

Comfort is not a word that naturally comes to mind when watching Andreescu. However, she seems most at ease when in need of a fightback, so being break-point down is viewed more as an opportunity rather than a problem.

Trailing 5-2 in the second against Bencic, having won the first on a tie-break, there was never any thought of her easing off and saving energy for a decider. Andreescu attacked, Bencic got tight and any confidence the Swiss had built up ebbed away as she lost five straight games and handed the match to the main-draw debutant.

"I think when I'm down, I play my best tennis. Whenever my back is against the wall, I think I'm just extra focused in those moments," Andreescu told a news conference.

"I remember I told myself at 5-2 that I didn't want to go in three sets. So I think just that switched my mindset. I was just really, really focused.

"It's [fearlessness] just inside of me somehow. I think it's just my passion for the game, as well. I don't like to lose, so I just try my best every match. I expect a lot from myself, so I think that pressure also helps me do my best in matches."

Andreescu's belief has grown throughout a stunning year. Having failed to qualify for the US Open last year, her 2019 has encompassed a final in Auckland and titles at Indian Wells and the Rogers Cup, where an ailing Williams retired four games into the final.

The desire to win at Flushing Meadows, however, has been there for a long time.

"When I was 16, after I won the Orange Bowl title, I remember I wrote myself a cheque of this tournament, winning the tournament obviously," said Andreescu. "Ever since that moment, I just kept visualising that.

"If that can happen on Saturday, then that would be pretty cool."

She will be able to cash a cheque for $3.85million should she prevail on Saturday. To do so, Andreescu will need to overcome the greatest player of all time, with Williams chasing history in front of her home crowd at the world's biggest tennis stadium.

A monumental challenge, but one Andreescu will unquestionably show no fear in facing.

Josh Hazlewood did the damage but a magnificent spell from Pat Cummins set up Australia's final-session momentum swing at Old Trafford on day three.

Rory Burns and Joe Root frustrated the tourists after no play was possible before lunch on Friday due to rain.

Hazlewood removed nightwatchman Craig Overton in the second over when play finally got under way, but Burns and Root dug in to prevent any further damage from being done before tea.

Steve Smith's double-century on Thursday enabled Australia to post a mammoth 497-8, making them strong favourites to take a 2-1 lead - and retain the urn.

Burns and Root were in no mood to roll over a fortnight after England were humiliatingly dismissed for only 67 in their first innings at Headingley, before going on to pull off a stunning victory.

Try as they might, the elusive breakthrough simply would not come for the Australia bowlers, but persistence paid off after tea on a gloomy evening.

Hazlewood removed Burns (81), Root (71) and the vulnerable Jason Roy (22) as England lost three wickets for 30 runs before closing on 200-5.

Yet it was Cummins who was the standout bowler in batting friendly-conditions and a 10-over spell either side of tea in particular showed why he is the top-ranked Test bowler in the world.

The paceman was relentless as he pounded in time and again without reward on a cold day in Manchester, where the recalled Mitchell Starc failed to make an impact.

He rapped Burns on the gloves and peppered the left-hander with rapid short deliveries, beating the bat and drawing edges on a slow, dry pitch.

Cummins, blighted by injuries earlier in his career, continued to steam in with an exhibition of control, hostility and skill, leaving Root writhing in agony after hitting him on the knee.

A brilliant 10 consecutive overs from the Brian Statham End kept Burns and Root on their toes before he was finally replaced by Hazlewood.

Hazlewood's burst left England in the mire, but it was Cummins who softened them up.

Although arguably the greatest player of all time, it's fair to say Diego Maradona isn't necessarily synonymous with coaching.

Nevertheless, El Pibe de Oro is back in the dugout having been confirmed as Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata's new head coach on Thursday, his first job in Argentina since leaving the national team in 2010.

Maradona, 58, was a remarkable talent as a player for Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona and, perhaps most famously, Argentina and Napoli.

The 1986 World Cup winner is similarly infamous for his off-field antics and controversies, having suffered from drug addiction, been criticised for his political views and generally never been shy about expressing himself.

While some of his behaviour down the years may not be what one would expect of your average head coach, Maradona often takes his teams on something of a ride…

Deportivo Mandiyu de Corrientes – 1994

Having been suspended by FIFA for failing a drug test during the 1994 World Cup, Maradona quickly turned his hand to coaching, securing a role at Mandiyu de Corrientes.

He had to watch his first match from the stands due to not having passed a coaching course or owning a license, though he remained typically animated. He only presided over 11 more fixtures, winning once, or 8.3 per cent of his games in total.

Racing Club – 1995

After allegedly being sacked in the Mandiyu dressing room, Maradona was not out of work for long before he joined Racing. In Avellaneda, El Diego had significantly greater talent at his disposal, including future Argentina internationals Ignacio Gonzalez and Claudio Lopez, and during this time they beat Boca at La Bombonera for the first time in 20 years.

However, Maradona was not present on that occasion, as he only actually presided over five of the 11 matches of his tenure. Officially, he won 18.2 per cent of his 11 Racing games before the club's presidential elections ushered in a new era and he left.

Argentina – 2008-10

After being away from coaching for 13 years, Maradona somehow landed the top job in Argentinian football; the national team. A reportedly strained relationship with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria is said to have contributed to Alfio Basile's downfall and Maradona subsequently led them to the 2010 World Cup, but only by the skin of their teeth and not without a 6-1 humiliation by Bolivia.

They made it to the quarter-finals in South Africa, but Germany exposed them in a 4-0 demolition and Maradona departed. But his 75 per cent win record in 24 matches remains Maradona's best as a coach.

Al Wasl – 2011-12

"I do not want the club to be a graveyard for white elephants," was Maradona's opening gambit at Al Wasl, as he pledged to bring exciting young players to the UAE. That proved more difficult than expected, claiming in November 2011 many players weren't being paid on time.

A colourful season saw Maradona feud with two coaches, march into the stands to "protect my wife" from fans and flirt with the UAE national team job. He won 40 per cent of his 35 matches, but was hastily sacked after the club's entire board resigned at the end of a trophyless campaign.

Al-Fujairah – 2017-18

Following a five-year absence, Maradona was back in management in May 2017, again in UAE. His appointment at Al-Fujairah came as a particular shock given their second-tier status.

Maradona's spell was rather less controversial than at Al-Wasl and on the pitch things went better, losing just once in 23 matches. However, a haul of 11 draws proved costly, as Maradona left by mutual consent after failing to guide the club to automatic promotion.

Dorados de Sinaloa – 2018-19

Another eye-catching move followed for Maradona, as he headed to Mexico's Ascenso MX, the country's second division. "Some people said Maradona's useless," he raged after 4-1 debut win and he went on to lead Dorados to the Apertura and Clausura finals.

They suffered defeat to Atletico San Luis in both ties, with Maradona appearing to aim a punch at an opposing fan in post-match fracas after the Apertura defeat. Of his 41 games at the helm, Maradona claimed 20 wins (48.8 per cent) and suffered only 11 defeats.

He quit in June to focus on his health, but he is back with Superliga strugglers Gimnasia, signing a one-year deal.

Serena Williams will play her 10th US Open final on Saturday - 20 years on from her first.

The 37-year-old is set to step out at Arthur Ashe Stadium in pursuit of her 24th grand slam title and yet more history.

Williams is now established as one of the greatest athletes of all time, but how did she and the women's tennis world look in September 1999?

We take a step back in time.


SERENA'S EARLY STRIDES

Williams entered the 1999 US Open as a 17-year-old, but she had already played four WTA Tour finals and was the seventh seed.

Victory over Steffi Graf in the Indian Wells title match had shown just what she could do on the big stage, and she had a whole host of victories over top-10 players to her name by the time she arrived at Flushing Meadows for what was her seventh major.

Williams defeated world number one Martina Hingis three times in 1999, with the third and final victory securing her landmark title in New York.

An incredible run had seen her already beat Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles and defending champion Lindsay Davenport.


THE WILLIAMS DYNASTY

The Williams name was well known on the tour by the time Serena started to really make waves, as sister Venus, two years her senior, had reached the US Open final in the 1997 season.

That was a first tour-level final of any sort for Venus and she was thrashed by Hingis. But Venus won the Miami Open in consecutive years - beating Serena in the 1999 final - and triumphed at the Internazionali d'Italia before heading to the US Open.

Venus was made to wait until Wimbledon in 2000 to taste grand slam victory, however, losing to Hingis in the 1999 Flushing Meadows semis as Serena celebrated a first triumph.

Yet the dominant Williams doubles team had already been established, with victory at the French Open and another in New York.


SEIZING THE POWER

Just as is common in 2019, the major titles were evenly distributed on the WTA Tour in 1999. Hingis won in Melbourne, Graf triumphed at the French Open and then Davenport came out on top at Wimbledon.

Davenport had been the title holder at the US Open, too, until Serena triumphed.

But the arrival of the Williams sisters signalled the end of dominant times for Hingis, Graf and Davenport. The latter claimed her final grand slam title at the 2000 Australian Open, but Hingis did not win a singles major again after Serena's breakthrough. Graf retired just weeks before the 1999 US Open.

Hingis still topped the rankings at the end of 1999, but Venus was third and Serena fourth. And this was still months before Bianca Andreescu, Saturday's opponent for Serena in New York, was even born.

'Think different'.

In 1997, Apple pushed that slogan in an advertising campaign launched well before it became a mobile communications behemoth.

Having only been born a year earlier, nearly 5,900 miles away from Silicon Valley, Daniil Medvedev may not be familiar with that part of tech history.

Medvedev, though, has become the living embodiment of the philosophy.

The Russian world number five was heading into a US Open semi-final on Friday, taking on Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the final. There has been very little normal about Moscow-born Medvedev's route through to this point, everything about it has been different.

Boasting the biggest stadium in tennis and home to some extremely passionate locals, Flushing Meadows is a place capable of producing the kind of atmosphere players dream about playing in.

However, it is also a venue where nightmare experiences are possible, with many players taking exception to behaviour in the stands when the late-night New York crowd gets a little too invested in proceedings.

Medvedev is not like those players, though, and has instead thrived in the face of a sustained level of heckling many would have buckled under.

Amid a disagreement with an umpire in his third-round match with Feliciano Lopez, Medvedev was seen to aim a middle-finger gesture at the crowd. It was shown on the Louis Armstrong Stadium big screen and vociferous booing followed as Medvedev was cast in the role of villain.

He was still able to close out the victory but took part in a post-mach interview that was the antithesis of what is expected in the often-sterile on-court Q&A. The jeers were relentless and, in a situation where many would have pleaded with the fans to stop or cut the interview short, Medvedev soaked up the boos and thanked the crowd for them, praising spectators for giving him energy "to win the next five matches".

Medvedev's response was the same in the fourth round against Dominik Koepfer. Never has such a negative reception been so gleefully welcomed. The rocky relationship between Medvedev and the crowd proved mutually beneficial, as it provided fans with a hate-figure and Medvedev extra motivation to rile them up as he slogged his way through the draw.

Everybody loves to have a villain to hate. However, villains are more convincing when they have the game to back it up. It was the unique way in which he backed it up that turned the fans in Medvedev's favour.

Facing Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals, Medvedev developed a problem with his left thigh. It was clear that movement was a huge issue. It would have been the end for most players, and Medvedev later conceded he thought it would spell the end for him.

However, he masterfully ensured it did not finish him off. Restricting his most intense movement for his own service games, Medvedev changed up his tactics superbly, relying heavily on drop shots and exquisitely placed lobs to work a 34-year-old Wawrinka around the court at will.

Even though the Swiss won the third set, the revised plan bore fruit as Wawrinka faltered badly in the fourth, though Medvedev was not happy to win in such a fashion.

"After the match, it was tough for me to express many emotions because I felt the way I won was quite ugly," Medvedev said. "Because that's what I had to do."

It may have felt ugly from his perspective, but, from up in the stands, the speed and the effectiveness with which he altered his approach was a joy to behold, and he received a deserved standing ovation at the end of his last-eight triumph.

Asked if he and the crowd are friends again, Medvedev replied: "Hopefully. It's not for me to decide. What I got I deserved. Usually I'm not like this, as I was in the third-round match. I'm not proud of it. I'm working to be better."

Medvedev's is a redemption story nearing a fascinating conclusion that will come in the final if he defeats Dimitrov.

It may never be exactly clear why Medvedev felt the need to turn the spectators against him. On and off the court, he is an incredibly difficult player to read, even for his coach Gilles Cervara, who summed up his protege using another term adopted by Apple.

"It's like to coach a genius," said Cervara. "Sometimes a genius, you don't understand them. It's like this. They are different."

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