Spaniards top tennis rankings
NEW YORK — Garbine Muguruza made her debut at No. 1 on Monday, joining U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal in making Spain the first country since the United States 14 years ago to top the WTA and ATP rankings.
Andre Agassi and Serena Williams were both No. 1 in 2003.
Muguruza, the Wimbledon champion in July, rose two spots from No. 3 on Monday after getting to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the first time. She is the 24th woman to lead the WTA since it introduced computer rankings in 1975 — and the second Spaniard, after Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
Muguruza takes over at No. 1 from Karolina Pliskova, who fell to No. 4 with a quarterfinal defeat in New York one year after finishing as the runner-up. Entering the U.S. Open, eight women had a chance to top the rankings by the end of the tournament.
The day she won Wimbledon for her second major championship, Muguruza was asked about what sort of priority she placed on getting to No. 1.
“My motivation is just to be able to be a good tennis player — a good tennis player, and to come to the Grand Slams and be a threat. The ranking is temporary,” she said at the time.
“I don’t know what it feels to be No. 1. Hopefully one day I can. And then I (will) compare,” Muguruza said. “But for now, I’d rather be (No.) 10 and win Grand Slams, than be No. 1.”
The woman who won the year’s last Grand Slam tournament, Sloane Stephens, jumped to No. 17 from No. 83 by beating Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 in the U.S. Open final on Saturday, continuing her quick rise after having surgery on her left foot in January and going 11 months between tour appearances. Stephens was outside the top 900 at the start of August.
Simona Halep stayed at No. 2 on the WTA list, while Venus Williams’ semifinal run in New York pushed her up four spots to No. 5, her first time in the top five since January 2011.
Angelique Kerber, who made her first appearance at No. 1 after winning the U.S. Open last year, dropped down to No. 14 from No. 8 after becoming only the second defending women’s champion in the professional era to lose in the first round.
Nadal remained at No. 1 by winning his second Grand Slam trophy of the season and 16th of his career with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Kevin Anderson in the final at Flushing Meadows on Sunday. The man who won the year’s other two major titles, Roger Federer, moved up one place to No. 2.
Anderson went from 32nd to 17th by reaching his first Grand Slam final. He was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open men’s finalist since the ATP computer rankings began 44 years ago.
There are three Canadian men inside the top 100: Milos Raonic is ranked No. 11; Denis Shapovalov is 51st; and Vasek Pospisil sits at No. 82.
At 79, Eugenie Bouchard is the top-ranked Canadian on the WTA.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This is supposed to be a shining moment for NASCAR, which kicks off its playoffs this weekend.
Instead, the excitement was on hold as the series licked its wounds from a rocky week on and off the track.
First, the Darlington winner failed post-race inspection and NASCAR ruled Denny Hamlin’s victory “encumbered.” That has to be the worst word in all of professional sports — it means a win won’t count toward playoff eligibility — and the entire day leading into the regular-season finale was filled with drivers debating the issue.
Then came Saturday night’s race at Richmond, where an ambulance picked the entrance to pit road to stop during a caution period. Avoiding the ambulance caused a race-ending accident to Matt Kenseth, and NASCAR caught a break when it didn’t prevent him from securing a spot in the playoffs.
But the drama didn’t end with the wayward ambulance. Martin Truex Jr. had victory snatched from him because of a late caution and he ended up crashing. He and his team looked downright miserable accepting the regular season title trophy.
Come Monday morning, NASCAR executive vice-president Steve O’Donnell acknowledged series officials “had a rough night” at Richmond and would meet this week to clean up any issues before the playoffs begin at Chicagoland Speedway.
“Tough night for the guys up in race control,” O’Donnell said in his weekly segment on SiriusXM’s NASCAR channel. “We’re certainly going to meet and make sure we put our best effort forward heading into Chicago.”
In admitting that, NASCAR deserves a nod for understanding that it needs a strong playoff series devoid of any distractions.
The ambulance issue was bad, and could have been worse. Someone could have been seriously injured and Kenseth could
We’re certainly going to meet and make sure we put our best effort forward heading into Chicago.”
have been eliminated from the playoffs because his car was crashed. NASCAR would have had a ton of explaining to do.
For now, the explanation is that the ambulance driver ignored directives to stop and ultimately picked the entrance to pit road.
O’Donnell understood the ramifications.
“We don’t want to be a part of the story,” he said Monday. “We’ve got a great group of drivers out there battling hard and got a great group in the playoffs, and we want it to be about those guys.”
So a conversation was also had with Truex, who had his night ruined when Derrike Cope hit the wall with three laps remaining. The win was in Truex’s reach — it would have been a series-high fifth this year and given him additional bonus points for the playoffs — but he instead wrecked in overtime.
“He’s obviously upset, and I think that’s fair,” O’Donnell said of Truex.
Indeed, Cope is a backmarker, was a lot of laps down from the leader and should have just gotten out of the way. Instead, the caution he caused ruined Truex’s night.
It was Dale Earnhardt Jr. who noted on Twitter that an iffy caution in the closing laps of last year’s finale cost Carl Edwards the championship, and Edwards retired from NASCAR several weeks later. Drivers and fans are equally tired of cautions that maybe don’t really warrant a yellow flag, and that was likely the root of Truex’s ire Saturday night.
O’Donnell has promised NASCAR will be better going forward, and that’s all anyone can ask for at the start of these playoffs.
Garbine Muguruza made her debut atop the WTA rankings on Monday. Fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal remained atop the ATP rankings after winning the U.S. Open.