Spa­niards top ten­nis rank­ings

The Beacon Herald - - SPORTS - HOWARD FEN­DRICH THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

GETTY IMAGES THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

Raphael Nadal

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