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Sports Digest: Pegula advances to Miami Open semifinals

Jessica Pegula, the No.16 seed, advances when Paula Badosa retires five games into the first set.

TENNIS

Forget three-setters. These days, Jessica Pegula doesn’t even need second sets.
The No. 16 seed has made the semifinals at the Miami Open, benefiting from a second consecutive abrupt ending. She won her quarterfinal against fifth-seeded Paula Badosa on Wednesday, after Badosa retired five games into the first set.

Pegula has played four matches in this tournament, needing only 5 1/2 sets to record those victories. She had a first-round bye, won her next two matches in straight sets and her fourth-round match ended when unseeded Anhelina Kalinina retired after Pegula won the first set 6-0.
Then came Wednesday, when Badosa bowed out down 4-1.

“Of course, it’s not nice to win that way,” Pegula said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever even hit with her at all and I was really looking forward to playing because she’s been having an amazing year.”

Badosa – who was No. 71 in the world rankings at this time last year – will climb to a career-best No. 3 when the computer numbers are updated Monday. She would have gone to No. 2 had she beaten Pegula.

Badosa said she woke up Monday not feeling well and wasn’t even sure she could play that day in a fourth-rounder against Linda Fruhvirtova. Badosa battled through, winning that match 6-2, 6-3, but was clearly not herself on Wednesday.

“She’s an incredible competitor,” Pegula said. “I think we all saw that last round where she clearly wasn’t feeling well and she was able to tough it out. I admire that a lot and hopefully next time we can both play when we’re healthy and feeling good and have a great match.”
Pegula will next face No. 2 Iga Swiatek – who becomes No. 1 in the world rankings next week – in Thursday night’s semifinals. Swiatek ousted No. 28 Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3 in the last women’s quarterfinal.

The other women’s semifinal is Thursday afternoon, when No. 22 Belinda Bencic will face unseeded Naomi Osaka.

The quick end of the Pegula-Badosa match meant the stadium court sat empty for nearly two hours, until No. 9 Jannik Sinner – a finalist in Miami last year – faced unseeded Francisco Cerundolo in a men’s quarterfinal.

And after 22 minutes, that match was over – also in just five games. Cerundolo advanced when Sinner, down 4-1, retired with a blister on his right foot.

“I couldn’t move. … I tried, but it didn’t work,” Sinner said.

In the late men’s quarterfinal, sixth-seeded Casper Ruud earned a semifinal matchup with Cerundolo. Ruud beat an ailing No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

COVID-19: Dominic Thiem, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, said he tested positive for COVID-19 after his first match in more than nine months.

Thiem lost 6-3, 6-4 to Pedro Cachin at the Andalucia Open on the lower-level Challenger Tour on Tuesday. The 28-year-old Austrian had been sidelined by wrist and hand injuries and last competed in June.

Thiem posted on social media that he “started feeling unwell and didn’t have a good night” after dinner Tuesday and developed what he called mild symptoms. He said he tested positive Wednesday.

Thiem was the runner-up at the French Open in 2018 and 2019, losing to Rafael Nadal each time, and at the Australian Open in 2020, losing to Novak Djokovic.

Later that year, Thiem collected his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows, coming back from two sets down to beat Alexander Zverev in a fifth-set tiebreaker in the final.
Once ranked as high as No. 3, Thiem is currently No. 50.

At the 2012 Olympic final in London, 80,203 people saw the U.S. defeat Japan 2-1 to win the gold medal.

The previous club record was 60,739 in a Spanish league match between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in 2019.

Barcelona advanced to the semifinals 8-3 on aggregate after winning the first leg 3-1 in Madrid last week.

GOLF
AUGUSTA NATIONAL WOMEN’S AMATEUR: California teen Anna Davis birdied the par-5 closing hole at Champions Retreat and shared the lead with Alabama sophomore Benedetta Moresco of Italy at 2-under 70 on a tough, windy start to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Only five players in the elite field of amateurs from around the world managed to break par.
Rose Zhang, the No. 1 amateur in women’s golf and a leading favorite, struggled with the new greens on her way to a 76. It was a rough start, though scores were so high Zhang hardly shot herself out of the tournament. She was two shots below the cut line.

The top 30 from the 60-player field after the second round Thursday at Champions Retreat advance to the final round Saturday at Augusta National. A playoff decides the 30th spot in case of a tie.

SOCCER
WOMEN’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Women’s soccer celebrated a milestone when a world-record crowd of more than 91,000 people watched Barcelona defeat Real Madrid 5-2 at the Camp Nou Stadium.

Organizers said 91,553 people were in attendance in Barcelona, Spain. The previous record for any women’s game was 90,185 for the 1999 World Cup final between the United States and China at the Rose Bowl.

At the 2012 Olympic final in London, 80,203 people saw the U.S. defeat Japan 2-1 to win the gold medal.

The previous club record was 60,739 in a Spanish league match between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in 2019.

The previous women’s Champions League record was 50,212 for a game between Lyon and Frankfurt in Munich in 2012.

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CLASH Endurance Miami 2023: Start time, preview and how to follow live

On Friday, some of the best middle distance athletes in the sport will head to Florida to chase those all important PTO points and a slice of the $50,000 prize purse at CLASH Endurance Miami.

The race will also contribute towards the Challenge Family World Bonus and results will count towards qualification for the Challenge Family The Championship.

Below are details on the start times of the races, information on how to watch, and a preview of the elite men and women that are looking to kick their season off in style in the Sunshine State.

We should stress though that the start lists are very much subject to change, with a number of big names – such as Vincent Luis, Joe Skipper and Jackie Hering – initially announced but now not taking part. And there looks to be bad news on the coverage front this year, with no live pictures but instead a post-race production…

Start time and how to follow
The elite race at CLASH Endurance Miami takes place on Friday March 10th, 2023.

The start times are as follows:

Elite Women – 0830 local time / 1330 UK / 1430 CET
Elite Men – 1200 local time / 1700 UK / 1800 CET
Past editions of the event have been streamed live – and for free – on the CLASH Endurance Facebook and YouTube channels.

But this week the following message was posted about current plans: “If you know CLASH Endurance, you know we’re always trying new things. There will be no live coverage, however a post-race show will be released after the event.”

So if you haven’t got it already, then adding the CLASH Endurance app to your phone / mobile device is recommended for racing splits and results. It’s pretty much identical to the layout and structure of the IRONMAN app – which given that has proven itself over many years, is a good thing.

Event history and course
In 2021 the event was held under the ‘Challenge Miami’ banner, prior the rebranding of the Challenge Family North American events to ‘CLASH’. In 2022, CLASH provided some of the most thrilling races on American soil, in both Miami and Daytona.

In Miami, the race venue is the Homestead Miami Speedway, a self-enclosed motor racing circuit event. As with the Daytona International Speedway, a very convenient lake sits nicely within the centre of the circuit, primed and ready for swimmers.

Unlike the racing at Daytona however, CLASH Miami utilises the roads within the racing oval, and so is far more technical than the pure straight-line speed efforts that are the focus there.

The event will be raced over the following distances:

Swim: 1.7km / 1.05-mile (2 laps)
Bike: 62.7km / 39-miles (17 laps of 2.2 miles + one part lap to start)
Run: 16.9km / 10.5 miles (7 laps of 1.5 miles)
Pro Women
Last year, Ashleigh Gentle dominated, with the Australian winning by almost eight minutes in a performance that really set the tone for what was in store throughout the rest of the season for the PTO World #1.

This year, however, looks set to be a much more competitive race, with the absence of the defending champion from the start list really opening up the competition to a whole host of contenders.

Last season’s runner up, Brazil’s Pamela Oliveira, is an athlete who knows what it takes to get on the podium in Miami, but will face stiff competition if she has any hopes of going one better than last season.

The 35-year-old, who won IRONMAN Brasil as well as Challenge Brazil in 2022, will rely heavily on her endurance in Miami, and will have to hope her strong swim-bike combination will be enough to keep her away from some of the lightning quick runners in the field.

Sara Perez Sala (ESP) and Haley Chura (USA) are also likely to be to the fore from the outset.

Perez Sala, who won the Challenge Championship in 2022, before also finishing second at CLASH Daytona behind Angelica Olmo, will be hoping to build an insurmountable lead over the swim and the bike this Friday, with athletes such as Chura and Sif Bendix Madsen (DEN) the likely candidates to contribute to an early break.

 

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Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta 2023

After a one-hour postponement ashore waiting for breeze, followed by a general recall, race 1 got under way at 1320 hrs in a light 7-9 knots southerly. The breeze increased at the first windward mark to 10 knots, before easing to remain between 7-9 knots for the rest of the 8nm race.

Impressive form from Denmark’s Jørgen Schönherr/Markus Koy, who found the formula to convert their position outside the top ten at the first mark to nail a decisive opening win.

We are feeling great”, smiled Koy. “I mean winning a race is always like, it couldn’t be better.”

“We feel confident, because we won the last two Bacardi Cup Races”, added Schönherr, in reference to winning the final race of the 2022 Bacardi Cup and today’s opening race.

Leading off the start and upwind were two big name teams in the Star, defending Bacardi Cup champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada and Austria’s Hans Spitzauer/Christian Nehammer. Between them they have more Olympic history than fits on two hands, counting thirteen appearances in total. Add to that multiple World and Continental Championships appearances and podium finishes across different classes and we have serious talent. The last time the two teams faced each other was at the 2021 Star Worlds, where it was advantage to Spitzauer/Nehammer who secured bronze, with Kusznierewicz/Prada in fifth.

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McDaniel Discusses Coaching Staff Moves

Mike McDaniel explained the decision to make a change with his offensive line coach but retain special teams coordinator Danny Crossman after a tough year in the kicking game.

INDIANAPOLIS — The hiring of Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator has been the big move of the offseason so far for the Miami Dolphins, but it’s been far from the only news involving the coaching staff.

One item involved the switching of offensive line coaches (from Matt Applebaum to Butch Barry) and another involved the escision to retain Danny Crossman as special teams coordinator after a difficult 2022 season in the kicking game — with the idea element that Crossman is a coach who was retained from Brian Flores’ staff.

McDANIEL ALWAYS IN CROSSMAN’S CORNER
The decision to retain Crossman raised eyebrows in part because McDaniel made the move to replace Josh Boyer as defensive coordinator and Boyer also was a holdover from Flores’ staff.

But McDaniel said Wednesday the idea of removing Crossman never really crossed his mind.

“That just comes as a result of daily evaluations of all coaching involved in the building,” McDaniel said. “I think that the Miami Dolphins fan base, the players and Danny and myself would all agree that the desired results, we have more to achieve, but if I would have determined that that was solely his … if I thought that we couldn’t get to where we need to get to go with Danny Crossman, I would have made a move. I definitely didn’t feel that way. And that just comes as a result of daily investment into the coaching staff and what he brings to the table.”

As we have suggested before, Smith was heavily involved with coaching the offensive line last season after Applebaum was hired out of Boston College. McDaniel said that needed to change and the implication clearly was that Applebaum was ready to be a full-time NFL offensive line coach.

“Realistically, from the way the staff was orchestrated the previous year, I really needed to get more offensive coordinator work out of Frank Smith and he was devoted a little too much to the offensive line,” McDaniel said. “And I needed more selfishly to alleviate some stuff off my plate. And so that was the motivating factor to make that move was to facilitate Frank Smith being able to appropriate his time more as a coordinator and less in the offensive line room.”

 

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