Tennis

Serena Williams rallies in return, sets up clash with sister Venus

Serena Williams made a winning return to competitive tennis yesterday as she rallied from a set down to beat Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky in her first match of the Covid-19 era.

Williams was five points from falling to the American left-hander in the second set. But she suddenly showcased her fighting spirit and pulled away to set up a second-round showdown with older sister Venus, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Victoria Azarenka.

"It's good just in general because I haven't played. A lot of players have been playing - little things and little matches and playing against other players - but I've only been training so this was really good for me," said Serena, who is gearing up for the Aug 31-Sept 13 US Open.

The Top Seed Open, the first WTA Tour tournament in the United States since the Covid-19 outbreak halted play, provided a taste of what is to come for the 38-year-old American as she bids for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in New York, with empty, silent stands taking the place of roaring crowds. - REUTERS

Damian Lillard tops 51-point haul with 61 against Dallas Mavericks

Damian Lillard exploded for 61 points yesterday as the Portland Trail Blazers roared towards a place in the NBA playoffs with a thrilling 134-131 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Lillard - who had scored 51 points in a victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday - once again led from the front for Portland, who are now within touching distance of a post-season berth.

The Blazers' talisman nailed a clutch three-pointer in the closing stages to level the score at 130-130 and then provided the assist that saw Portland take a 132-130 lead with just under a minute remaining.

The win vaulted Portland above the Memphis Grizzlies into the eighth and final play-off spot in the Western Conference standings with 34 wins and 39 defeats. - AFP

Lions’ World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers postponed to 2021

Asia's upcoming qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup have been postponed to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said yesterday.

No new dates were announced for the games, which were due to take place over four match days around the region in October and November.

This means the Lions will not play a competitive match this year, having been scheduled to face Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan in their final three Group D matches. Tatsuma Yoshida's side are third in the group on seven points, one behind the Saudis - who have a game in hand - and two adrift of leaders Uzbekistan.

Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation said the matches were postponed "with the aim of protecting the health and safety of all participants". - AFP

Tennis