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Sports Log

Novak Djokovic says he’s learned 'big lesson’ from US Open ejection

Novak Djokovic, tending to a lineswoman after inadvertently striking her with a ball hit in frustration during his fourth round US Open match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, said Monday he learned "a big lesson" from his subsequent disqualification.
Novak Djokovic, tending to a lineswoman after inadvertently striking her with a ball hit in frustration during his fourth round US Open match against Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, said Monday he learned "a big lesson" from his subsequent disqualification.Al Bello/Getty

Novak Djokovic learned “a big lesson” after being disqualified from the US Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball. The incident eight days ago marked a stunning end to Djokovic’s 29-match winning streak and his bid for an 18th Grand Slam title. “I’m working mentally and emotionally as hard as I am working physically,” Djokovic said Monday at the Italian Open. “I’m going to take this in as profound as possible for me as a big lesson," Djokovic said Monday at the Italian Open. "I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve been comprehending. I’ve been talking to my team. It’s just one of these things that is just unfortunate and happens. You have to move on.” The disqualification came during Djokovic’s fourth-round match against Pablo Carreño Busta. As he walked to the Arthur Ashe Stadium sideline for a changeover, trailing Carreño Busta 6-5 in the first set, Djokovic — who was seeded and ranked No. 1 and an overwhelming favorite for the championship — angrily smacked a ball behind him. The ball flew right at the line judge, who dropped to her knees at the back of the court and reached for her neck. “It was totally unexpected and very unintended as well,” Djokovic said. “When you hit a ball like that you have a chance to hit somebody that is on the court. The rules are clear. So I accepted it. I had to move on and that’s what I did.” Djokovic said he checked with the lineswoman after the incident and was told she was not seriously injured. “I felt really sorry to cause the shock and drama to her, because she didn’t deserve that in any way,” Djokovic said. “She obviously is volunteering and doing her work. She loves tennis, and she’s been there, as I understood, for quite a few years.”

Murray gets wild card to French Open

Andy Murray, seen here at the U.S. Open earlier this month, got some good news on Monday.
Andy Murray, seen here at the U.S. Open earlier this month, got some good news on Monday.Matthew Stockman/Getty

Andy Murray received a wild card into the French Open. The former No. 1 and 2016 French Open finalist was the only non-Frenchman of eight players to be given a free pass into the main draw of the clay grand slam which starts in 13 days. Murray was also awarded a wild card into the US Open, after his struggles with pelvic and shin injuries dropped his ranking to 129th. He went two rounds in New York, and improved to 110th, but it was still too low for the French Open when it published its main draw entry list. Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, who after having a son in 2017 made the US Open her first comeback tournament where her run to the quarterfinals was stopped by Serena Williams, and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada were the only non-Frenchwomen to receive wild cards.

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College football

Ohio State has talented duo opt out

Shaun Wade has his sights set on the NFL.
Shaun Wade has his sights set on the NFL.Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

With the chances of the Big Ten Conference playing a football season slipping away, two of Ohio State’s best players, cornerback Shaun Wade and offensive guard Wyatt Davis, have chosen to opt out and start preparing for the NFL draft. Wade, a preseason All-American and likely first-round pick in the 2021 draft, announced his decision Monday on Twitter, saying the Big Ten waited too long to decide what to do about playing. Davis, an offensive guard who is another potential first-round pick, announced his decision on Friday. “I came back to get my degree and to play another season and win a national championship,” Wade said in his tweet. “But when the Big Ten canceled, I was focused on still playing, but I felt like they were holding off for so long I thought it was the best decision for me to declare for the draft and just go on with preparing and getting ready for the draft.” Wade’s father was one of the football parents leading a charge to persuade the Big Ten to play a fall season. Big Ten school presidents met Sunday but did not take a vote regarding if and when to start the next season, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Big Ten was not making return to competition plans public. All eyes will now be on quarterback Justin Fields, who could be one of the top picks in the 2021 draft regardless of whether he plays another down of football for the Buckeyes. Fields hasn’t publicly commented recently about his situation.

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Virginia Tech bans starting safety

Two days after the announcement of Virginia Tech’s season opener being postponed again amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Hokies football coach Justin Fuente announced safety Devon Hunter, a redshirt junior who had been projected to be a starter, had been suspended indefinitely from football-related activities for a violation of team rules. Hunter had been tabbed to replace graduated Reggie Floyd at rover in a secondary that already was without former starting cornerback Caleb Farley, who opted out this season, citing concerns regarding Virginia Tech’s safety protocols and some teammates not adhering to them. Hunter’s suspension is the latest disappointing news within the locker room on the heels of the postponement of the originally scheduled Sept. 19 game against Virginia. Virginia Tech initially had been scheduled to open against the Wolfpack Sept. 12 until a surge in cases within the North Carolina State athletic department prompted the game to be moved to Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. The Wolfpack also paused football operation for eight days . . . . The Air Force Academy will play two football games this season against fellow service academies Army and Navy. The Falcons' abbreviated schedule will include hosting Navy on Oct. 3 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and a trip to West Point, N.Y., to face Army on Nov. 7.

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Tour de France

Stage set for Slovenian duel

Tadej Pogacar, right, and Primoz Roglic appear to be well-positioned to take their shot at the title as the Tour de France winds to a close.
Tadej Pogacar, right, and Primoz Roglic appear to be well-positioned to take their shot at the title as the Tour de France winds to a close.Anne-Christine POUJOULAT/Associated Press

Baring a crash, or an unexpected event event like a positive COVID-19 test, the final week of racing in the Tour de France should offer a showdown between the Jumbo-Visma team leader Primoz Roglic and his young challenger Tadej Pogacar, a 21-year-old Tour rookie who rides for the UAE Emirates team. The only question left to be answered: Which Slovenian will stand atop the podium on Sunday on the Champs-Elysees? The two Slovenian rivals are only separated by 40 seconds in the general classification ahead of the race’s six remaining stages, which will provide more action in high mountains and an individual time trial before the traditional procession into Paris. The pair’s closest opponent is Colombian Rigoberto Uran, who is lagging 1:34 behind Roglic overall. Monday was a rest day as riders underwent more coronavirus tests. If a competitor is confirmed positive, he will be automatically excluded while any team that registers two or more positives could be sent home Tuesday when the results will be unveiled.

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Miscellany

Georgia man guilty in Masters ticket scam

Stephen Michael Freeman, 42, of Athens, Ga., and three family members in Texas were found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in using stolen identities to obtain tickets to The Masters golf tournament from 2013 to 2017. Freeman, his parents and sister cheated a lottery system the August National Golf Club used to limit ticket distribution to its guests and sold those tickets for a profit. Freeman was sentenced in federal court to 28 months in prison while his three family members were sentenced to three years on probation . . . New Jersey gamblers set a nationwide record for the most money bet on sports in a single month, plunking down almost $668 million in August on events including resurgent baseball, basketball and hockey seasons that had been interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, figures released Monday showed. That smashed the previous record of $614 million set in Nevada in Nov. 2019.

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