Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport set up an Australian Open showdown yesterday after fighting back from the brink of defeat in two epic semifinal duels. \nFormer world No. 1 Williams pulled off an extraordinary escape to defeat fourth-seeded Russian teenager Maria Sharapova, saving three match points to win 2-6, 7-5, 8-6 in 2hr 39 min. \nTop seed Davenport, meanwhile, was made to work just as hard before she finally overcame French 19th seed Nathalie Dechy 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 in a nerve-jangling encounter on Rod Laver Arena. \nIn the end, the experience of Williams and Davenport, who have nine grand-slam titles between them, was to prove crucial. \nFor Williams, it was a case of history revisited. Her pulsating contest bore a striking resemblance to her 2003 Australian Open semifinal with Kim Clijsters, when she saved two match points before going on to win. \nWilliams said she had been comforted by the memory of that Houdini act as she fought off three match points on Sharapova's serve when trailing 5-4 in the final set. \nShe said the victory ranked among her most satisfying. \nWilliams said she had kept her composure despite a high unforced error count -- 53 throughout -- which allowed Sharapova a free ride throughout the early part of the match. \nSharapova said Williams' experience of retrieving lost causes had been the key. "She's one of the best competitors out there," she said. \nWilliams will now meet Davenport in tomorrow's final, who she leads 9-4 in head-to-head encounters. \nDavenport has the better recent record though, having beaten Williams on the two occasions they met last season. \nBut the experienced 28-year-old will want to make a quantum improvement after toiling desperately against Dechy before finally staggering over the line. \nShe amassed 52 unforced errors, 10 double-faults and it might have been a different story had Dechy kept her composure when leading 4-1 in the second set tie-break. \nInstead, she buckled and Davenport fought back to square the match, going on to clinch victory in the decider. \nLike Sharapova, Dechy believed that her opponent's experience had been the key. "Maybe she handled the tight moments a bit better than me," the 25-year-old said, who had been playing in her first grand slam semifinal. \nDavenport, who delayed retirement at the end of last season after convincing herself that she could still challenge for honors at the highest level, is now contemplating her first grand-slam final for five years. \nThe women's semifinals took center stage at Melbourne Park, with the night session seeing a replay of last year's final between world No. 1 Roger Federer and Russia's Marat Safin in the first of the men's semifinals. \nHewitt presses on \nLleyton Hewitt gave Australia's national day celebrations a giant lift on Wednesday when he beat David Nalbandian in a four-hour quarterfinal battle at the Australian Open. \nHewitt drew on all his reserves of stamina and courage to beat the Argentine 6-3 6-2 1-6 3-6 10-8 and advance to a semifinal showdown with Andy Roddick today. \n"I just had to dig deep in the fifth set, and yet again the never-say-die attitude came out," Hewitt said. \n"I'm definitely giving the crowds their money's worth. I'm doing all the right things for the tournament," he said. \nHewitt's victory kept alive Australian hopes of a local winner in the centenary of their national championship after Alicia Molik lost to Lindsay Davenport. \nThere was more drama when Russian Nikolay Davydenko was forced to retire from his match with second-seed Roddick because of breathing problems on another scorching day in Melbourne.
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there
Thailand international Pitsamai Sornsai, a new arrival for Inter Taoyuan, is to lead her team against Taipei Bravo tomorrow in the 10th round of the Taiwan Mulan Football League. Sornsai, who is nicknamed Pui, has attracted interest from media and fans as the first foreigner signed to play in Taiwan’s women’s league. Inter are among six teams battling for the title this year. The addition of Sornsai is a boost for the international profile of women’s soccer in Taiwan and elevates the competition. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience, including from the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Championship, the Southeast Asian Games and
HOTSHOT: Luis Suarez scored his 194th goal for Barca, tying him with Ladislao Kubala as the club’s third-highest scorer, behind Cesar Rodriguez and Lionel Messi With another decisive penalty from Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid on Sunday extended their perfect run after the COVID-19 suspension and moved closer to their first Spanish title in three years. Ramos scored his fifth goal since the season resumed as Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to maintain a four-point lead over Barcelona, who beat fifth-placed Villarreal 4-1. Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were among the scorers for Barcelona after assists from Lionel Messi. Ramos converted a 73rd-minute penalty to give Madrid their seventh straight victory and they remain the only team with a perfect record since La Liga resumed. “These three points are very
Preparing to complete a ninth Serie A campaign without winning the scudetto, AC Milan decided that returning to the pinnacle of club soccer required a new approach. Roc Nation, the entertainment agency of US rapper Jay-Z is at the center of it, linking up with Milan to scour the world for sponsors, and use concerts and other high-profile events to attract new fans. And who better to ask about how to end a title drought than the team who just won their league for the first time in 30 years? “We have been talking to Liverpool, because they’ve been through the same path