WTA

Coco feels the Heat as Jimmy Butler watches Gauff win at Miami Open

By Sports Desk March 24, 2023

Coco Gauff loves the inner "dog" in Jimmy Butler's basketball game and hopes the Miami Heat star saw plenty to admire about her own tenacity as she made a positive start at the Miami Open.

Winning 6-4 6-3 against Canadian Rebecca Marino got Gauff off the mark at this fortnight's WTA 1000 tournament, with the 19-year-old American very much at home in Florida.

Butler was watching at courtside, and the 33-year-old was so close Gauff could hardly ignore his presence.

"I mean, he was right next to my towels. I had no choice but to see him," Gauff said.

Gauff is a fan of the Heat, so to be watched by six-time NBA All-Star Butler was flattering for the teenager.

She is a high achiever herself, reaching the French Open final last year and setting up camp in the WTA top 10 rankings, so there was mutual respect, and the pair met up after Thursday's match.

"It was really cool because I love watching the Heat, they're my team. He has just that mentality, that dog in him, something that I really admire a lot," Gauff said. "I always do that when I'm on the court, but I was, like, I hope he sees that in me."

Gauff also spoke about having met players from the Buffalo Bills, the NFL franchise owned by world number three Jessica Pegula's parents.

"They might have been here for Jess, but I'm glad they stayed to watch my match," Gauff said.

Pegula beat Katherine Sebov in the match directly after Gauff's clash on the Stadium court.

Gauff said it was a "privilege" to be watched by fellow sports stars.

"I think it means more than maybe an actor or singer watching me, because it's like, as an athlete, finding the time to appreciate other sports is really hard," she said. "For them to want to do that, especially for a sport like tennis, which generally most of them don't understand, is really cool."

Gauff next faces Anastasia Potapova, the Russian player who beat Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk at the last-64 stage.

That match was notable largely for Kostyuk's refusal to shake hands afterwards with Potapova, a player who earlier this month was warned by the WTA for wearing a Spartak Moscow jersey at Indian Wells.

Russian and Belarusian players are competing under a neutral flag on the WTA Tour this season, amid the continuing invasion of Ukraine.

Related items

  • NBA: Wolves oust Nuggets, Pacers take out Knicks NBA: Wolves oust Nuggets, Pacers take out Knicks

    The Denver Nuggets will not be a repeat NBA champion, thanks to a historic comeback by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Minnesota rallied from a 20-point second-half deficit to come through with a shocking 98-90 road victory in Sunday's Game 7 of a Western Conference semifinal to deny Denver a chance at a second straight league title.

    Karl-Anthony Towns and Jaden McDaniels each scored 23 points, while Anthony Edwards recovered from a dismal first half to put up 16 points as the third-seeded Timberwolves advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2004. Minnesota will host the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks, who ousted the No. 1 seed Oklahoma City Thunder in six games, in Game 1 on Wednesday.

    The Timberwolves' 15-point half-time deficit was the largest a Game 7 winner has overcome in NBA post-season history.

    Minnesota trailed 53-38 at half-time and fell further behind when the second-seeded Nuggets scored the first five points of the third quarter, then began finding its stride to reverse momentum.

    The Timberwolves got back into it via a 15-1 run, capped by 3-pointers from McDaniels and Mike Conley, to close the gap to 59-53 midway through the third. Edwards, who had just four points on 1-of-7 shooting through two quarters, later closed out the period with a 3-pointer to cut Denver's lead to 67-66 entering the fourth.

    Conley's 3-pointer with 9:26 left to play put Minnesota ahead for good at 75-72, and the Timberwolves pulled away from there behind a defence that held the Nuggets to 37 points and under 36 per cent shooting in the second half.

    Minnesota put the game away with a late 7-0 run Edwards capped with a 3-pointer off a Denver turnover that extended its advantage to 92-82 with three minutes left.

    Jamal Murray led Denver with 35 points, though 24 of those came in the first half and the star guard was 4 of 12 from 3-point range on the night.

    League MVP Nikola Jokić amassed 34 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists while accounting for 14 of the Nuggets' 23 points in the fourth quarter. 

     

    Pacers set NBA play-off shooting record to eliminate Knicks in Game 7

    The Indiana Pacers rose to the occasion in Game 7, and rode a shooting performance for the ages in advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in a decade.

    The New York Knicks couldn’t keep up with the Pacers’ scorching shooting and couldn’t recover after losing their best player.

    The Pacers shot an NBA playoff-record 67.1 per cent from the floor in Sunday’s 130-109 win at Madison Square Garden to eliminate the Knicks.

    Tyrese Haliburton led the way with 26 points, while Pascal Siakam and Andrew Nembhard each scored 20 for Indiana, which advanced to face the top-seeded Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

    The sixth-seeded Pacers, who had lost Games 1, 2 and 5 at Madison Square Garden, are in the East finals for the first time since 2014, when they lost to the Miami Heat.

    Trying to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2000, the Knicks played the final quarter without Jalen Brunson after he suffered a fractured left hand.

    Brunson had 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting and nine assists before exiting after averaging 31.8 points and 5.7 assists in the first six games of the series.

    Donte DiVincenzo tried to carry New York’s offence, finishing with a play-off career-high 39 points while making 9-of-15 3-pointers, but the Pacers’ hot shooting made it virtually impossible for the Knicks to stay close.

    Indiana shot a blistering 76.2 per cent in the first quarter, connecting on 16 of 21 shots – including 7 of 9 from 3-point range – to take a 39-27 lead after 12 minutes.

    Haliburton led the early onslaught, draining four 3-pointers and scoring 14 points in the opening period, while Siakam made his first five shots and had 11 first-quarter points.

    The torrid shooting continued into the second quarter, as the Pacers made 26 of their first 32 shots (81.3 per cent), and ended up shooting 76.3 per cent in the first half – the best by any team in the playoffs since 1997, when the NBA began tracking play-by-play for all four quarters.

    After taking a 70-55 lead into half-time, the Pacers missed four of their first five shots of the third quarter and the Knicks were able to cut the deficit to six.

    Indiana, however, responded with a 20-7 run to regain control and increase its lead to 93-74 late in the period. The Pacers took a 101-84 advantage into the fourth. 

    Brunson’s broken hand was the latest injury setback for the Knicks, who were without Julius Randle (right shoulder), Mitchell Robinson (left ankle) and Bojan Bogdanovic (left foot).

    OG Anunoby returned to the starting lineup after missing the last four games, but played just five minutes before aggravating his strained left hamstring and sat out the rest of the game.

    By failing to close out the Pacers, it’s now been 24 seasons without an appearance in the conference finals for the Knicks – the third-longest active drought in the NBA behind the Washington Wizards (45) and Charlotte Hornets (34).

  • Knicks star Brunson fractures hand in Game 7 loss to Pacers Knicks star Brunson fractures hand in Game 7 loss to Pacers

    Jalen Brunson's Game 7 ended with a fractured left hand.

    Shortly later, the New York Knicks' season ended.

    Brunson sustained a broken left hand and sat out the fourth quarter in the Knicks' 130-109 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

    With the win, the Pacers reached the Eastern Conference finals, where they'll face the top-seeded Boston Celtics.

    Brunson, who had averaged 31.8 points and 5.7 assists in the first six games of the series against Indiana, had 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting and nine assists before exiting.

    Instrumental to New York's success in 2023-24, Brunson finished fifth in NBA MVP voting during the regular season after averaging 28.7 points, 6.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds.

     

  • Zverev sees off Jarry to claim second Italian Open crown Zverev sees off Jarry to claim second Italian Open crown

    Alexander Zverev claimed his second Italian Open title following a 6-4 7-5 victory over Nicolas Jarry in the final.

    The German, who also triumphed in Rome seven years ago, captured his first silverware of the season - and sixth of his career in an ATP Masters event.

    Having dropped just a single set on the way to his 11th Masters final, Zverev continued his impressive form by winning 95 per cent of his first-serve points (37 out of 39) and committing just eight unforced errors.

    Jarry had enjoyed an impressive fortnight in Rome, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas and Tommy Paul on the way to becoming the first Masters finalist from Chile since Fernando Gonzalez (also at the Italian Open) in 2007.

    However, just two break points were enough to deny the 21st seed a fourth career ATP title, with Zverev eventually converting his fourth championship point to ensure a return to the winner's circle.

    Data debrief

    Zverev joins Rafael Nadal (10) and Novak Djokovic (six) as one of only three players since 2000 to win the Italian Open on multiple occasions.

    Landing his second crown in Rome seven years after his first, it marks the longest gap in seasons between two men's singles titles at the event in the Open Era.

    Meanwhile, Zverev became the most successful German male in ATP Masters events since the format's introduction in 1990, with his sixth such success seeing him eclipse Boris Becker's total of five.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.