Wimbledon, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — Out of escapes, out of surprises, Coco Gauff knew her captivating Wimbledon ride at age 15 was nearing its conclusion.
The thousands of spectators at Court No. 1 on Monday realized it, too, so they made sure to show their appreciation for the youngest qualifier at the All England Club in the professional era and youngest Week 2 participant since 1991.
Fans, most of whom probably hadn't heard of Gauff until last week, rose and roared as she fended off the initial two match points she faced against 2018 French Open champion Simona Halep. It was reminiscent of the way the Gauff began a comeback victory in her previous match. This time, though, Gauff could not come through, beaten by the older, more experienced Halep 6-3, 6-3.
"It was really surprising, because you don't really expect this kind of support when you're in another country, not your home country. I really did feel like I was probably playing in New York. I'm just really happy that people believe in me," said Gauff, who beat Venus Williams in the first round for quite a Grand Slam tournament debut.
"I wasn't feeling my best, I wasn't playing my best," Gauff said as she wiped away tears at her news conference, where she noted she wasn't sure why she needed a visit from a doctor in the second set, "but they were still supporting me, no matter what."
While Gauff couldn't get past former No. 1 Halep, another American, 55th-ranked Alison Riske, stopped the 15-match winning streak of the current No. 1, Ash Barty, eliminating her 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
"Right now, Ash is playing well," Riske said. "I believe that I am, as well."
That's certainly true.
She improved to 14-1 on grass courts this season and reached the first major quarterfinal of her career in 30 appearances.
It'll come against yet another player who has topped the WTA rankings, Serena Williams, who will be participating in her 14th quarterfinal at Wimbledon alone.
Barty began perfectly, winning the first game of the match this way: 112 mph ace, 102 mph ace, 110 mph ace, 108 mph ace. She hit another pair of aces in her next service game and finished with 12. But Riske simply played so cleanly, delivering twice as many winners as unforced errors, 30-15, and won her fourth consecutive three-setter in the tournament.
"There aren't many holes in her game, full-stop," said Barty, who followed up her first Grand Slam championship at Roland Garros last month by grabbing a title at a grass-court tuneup tournament.
"Today wasn't my day. I didn't win a tennis match; it's not the end of the world," she said. "It's disappointing right now. Give me an hour or so, we'll be all good. The sun's still going to come up tomorrow."
Tuesday's other quarterfinal on the top half of the women's draw will be No. 19 Johanna Konta of Britain against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. On the bottom half, it'll be No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, and Halep against Zhang Shuai of China.
The men's quarterfinals Wednesday are No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 21 David Goffin, No. 2 Roger Federer vs. No. 8 Kei Nishikori, No. 3 Rafael Nadal against 65th-ranked Sam Querrey, and No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut against No. 26 Guido Pella.
Djokovic, Federer and Nadal all won in straight sets and are all in the quarters of a major tournament for the 24th time; one member of the Big Three won the title at 20 of those.
Querrey hit 25 aces and saved all four break points he faced to get past Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) in the first all-American men's Week 2 matchup at Wimbledon in 19 years. Pella erased a two-set deficit to edge 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 8-6.
Halep is the highest-seeded woman remaining, after Barty was joined on the way out Monday by No. 3 Karolina Pliskova, who twice served for the victory in a 4-6, 7-5, 13-11 loss to Muchova, and No. 6 Petra Kvitova, a two-time champion eliminated by Konta 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
For Gauff, this was her seventh match in short order — three in qualifying, four in the main draw — and while she insisted she wasn't fatigued, she looked it.
Still, with serves reaching 119 mph, a dynamic backhand that landed near lines and aggressive volleying, Gauff made an impression on anyone who watched her.
Not to mention anyone who played her.
"It's a great performance. I think if she keeps going, she will be (in the) top 10 soon," Halep said. "She will be a very tough opponent for everybody. If she keeps doing what she did here, she's going to get a lot of confidence and she can win big tournaments soon."
Now the trick will be to manage those sorts of expectations.
Gauff is, after all, too young to drive a car. She is taking high school courses. Instead of hanging out at a mall or going to see a movie with friends or working as a camp counselor Monday, there she was at Wimbledon at 1 p.m., standing in the tunnel that leads to the court with her father, Corey.
He draped his arm around her shoulders, then parted ways by giving his daughter a peck on the cheek.
Wimbledon, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — A quick look at Wimbledon:
LOOKAHEAD TO TUESDAY
Serena Williams tries to move a step closer to an eighth Wimbledon title when she takes on fellow American Alison Riske in the quarterfinals. Riske upset top-ranked Ash Barty in the fourth round but will be playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal — in her 30th appearance — while Williams is looking for her 24th major title. With three of the top-10 seeds losing on Monday, No. 7 Simona Halep is now the highest seeded woman left in the draw. After beating teenage sensation Coco Gauff in straight sets, Halep faces Zhang Shuai of China as she tries to return to the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time since 2014. The home crowd will once again be rooting for Johanna Konta, the last British player in the tournament, who faces Barbora Strycova. Also, No. 8 Elina Svitolina faces Karolina Muchova.
Cloudy. High of 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius).
Mostly cloudy. High of 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius).
MONDAY'S KEY RESULTS
Men's fourth round: No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-2, 6-3; No. 2 Roger Federer beat Matteo Berrettini 6-1, 6-2, 6-2; No. 3 Rafael Nadal beat Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2; No. 26 Guido Pella beat No. 15 Milos Raonic 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 8-6.
Women's fourth round: Alison Riske beat No. 1 Ash Barty 3-6, 6-2, 6-3; Karolina Muchova beat No. 3 Karolina Pliskova 4-6, 7-5, 13-11; No. 7 Simona Halep beat Coco Gauff 6-3, 6-3; No. 11 Serena Williams beat Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-2, 6-2.
STAT OF THE DAY
19 - The combined number of games lost by the Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in their straight-set victories.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I'm still fairly new to high school, so I haven't figured all that out yet." - Coco Gauff, 15, on whether she still plans to go to college after her breakthrough performances at Wimbledon.
Paris, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — Brazil striker Neymar could face punishment after missing French champion Paris Saint-Germain's first day of preseason training on Monday without informing the club.
Neymar's spokeswoman, Day Crespo, denied the allegation PSG was not informed, and added the player will return to France on July 15 as agreed "weeks ago."
PSG said in a statement that "Neymar was not in attendance at the agreed time and place" and this was "without the club's prior authorization."
PSG added, "It regrets this situation and will therefore take appropriate action."
Crespo told The Associated Press the club knew Neymar scheduled a video shooting on July 10 and an event at his institute three days later.
"Neymar's institute has organized this event for five years and everyone knows of those dates," she said. "After those dates he will be present with the group on July 15, as he informed the club weeks ago."
Neymar cost a world record 222 million euros ($249 million) from Barcelona two years ago.
But his two seasons at PSG have been blighted by injuries to his right foot and he has been linked with a reported move back to the Spanish champion.
The 27-year-old Neymar missed Brazil's successful Copa America campaign because of an ankle injury.
A Brazilian model accused him of raping her in a Paris hotel on May 15. Neymar denies any wrongdoing.
Rio De Janeiro, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — The Copa América boosted the morale of champion Brazil and brought new hope for once chaotic Argentina.
What it didn't do is give both enough belief that they can overcome Europe's best to win the next World Cup in 2022.
Even without injured star Neymar, Brazil comfortably beat Peru 3-1 in the final at Maracanã Stadium on Sunday to win its first Copa América title since 2007. The result makes the road ahead for the Seleção less bumpy after a lot of criticism of coach Tite and some of his veteran players for recent performances.
Even with Lionel Messi sent off in the first half, Argentina finished third after downing Chile by a convincing 2-1. That result was welcomed in Buenos Aires after the team started the tournament fearing a major embarrassment for a young group guided by an interim coach.
The only South American team to win a World Cup in this century was Brazil, in 2002. Argentina reached the final in 2014, but lost to Germany. The last four world champions have all come from Europe.
This Copa América wouldn't have worried the Europeans. Beside being marked by poor fields, empty seats, and critical use of video review, the biggest issue for World Cup title dreamers such as Brazil and Argentina was the weak local competition that did not measure how either would fare against stronger European teams.
None of Brazil's and Argentina's adversaries imposed the difficulties they found in their latest World Cup elimination matches against Belgium and France, respectively.
In Brazil's case, all of its South American rivals, including Argentina, offered less opposition than the team faced during the last World Cup group stage against Switzerland (1-1) and Serbia (2-0).
Copa América runner-up Peru, for example, eliminated traditional and once powerful teams such as Uruguay and Chile, but showed poor defending by conceding nine goals in six matches — eight of them over two games against Brazil.
Argentina's best performance up front was in a 2-0 group stage win against Qatar, against which its new attacking backbone of Messi, Sergio Aguero, and Lautaro Martínez started playing together. But the inexperienced defense of Asian champion Qatari was far from reliable, having conceded five goals in only three Copa América matches.
When Brazil and Argentina couldn't find an easy path to beat other South American teams it was often because of their own problems.
Both were nearly eliminated by Paraguay, a team they bombarded but could not transform their opportunities into goals.
Despite heavy Argentina pressure, Paraguay had to miss a penalty in its draw for Messi's team to survive in the tournament.
Brazil failed to score against the same Paraguay in the quarterfinals and was jeered by its own fans after a 0-0 result. The host advanced on penalties, mired in doubts for the future.
Venezuela had a similar performance against Brazil, which left the field amid boos after a 0-0 draw.
"Some teams in Copa América simply don't try to score. That is what happened," Brazil's Arthur complained after the match against Venezuela.
Argentina's Leandro Paredes said after the draw with Paraguay, "All they did was to sit on the back, and wait to counter."
But the form of the leading Brazil and Argentina strikers was also far from impressive.
The tournament average was of 2.3 goals per match, one of the lowest ever. The top goal-scorers netted only three.
Brazil youngster Everton and Peru veteran Paolo Guerrero led the pack, and 12 other players followed with two goals.
Copa América organizers promised one of best editions in history for many reasons, but their expectations were not met.
The presence of top strikers such as Messi, Uruguay's Edinson Cavani, Colombia's Falcao García, and Brazil's Roberto Firmino was good enough for only five combined goals, one less than Chile's Eduardo Vargas netted on his own in the 2016 edition.
For Messi, "there is still a long time to the World Cup, and a lot will change until then."
"It was all very level at this Copa América," he said.
Messi scored just once, and brushed it off. "What mattered to us here was to have the dream of winning again, this is a promising group," he said.
Tite believes the flaws revealed or underlined in this Copa América need to fixed by March, when World Cup qualifiers begin in March.
"We have to build on this new phase," Tite said after his first title with Brazil. "New promising players will appear and become a reality. Our work is to follow it all (until the World Cup)."
Lyon, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — As the U.S. players celebrated their Women's World Cup title by dancing on the field, a chant rose from the crowd in Lyon: "Equal pay! Equal pay!"
It was a fitting tribute after the team's monthlong march to a fourth overall title in the sport's premier tournament, where equity emerged as a main theme. The Americans were out front because of their lawsuit back home seeking to be paid as much as their counterparts on the men's national team.
But it wasn't just about pay equity at this World Cup. Players hope the attention they've received in France translates to greater support for the women's game — and women in general.
"We, as all players, every player at the World Cup, put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for. We can't do anything more to impress more, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better," U.S. star Megan Rapinoe said. "It's time to move that conversation to the next step."
Even the hosts, eliminated by the United States in the quarterfinals, believed the focus on the tournament — with its record-breaking television ratings — could lead to a greater victory in terms of player development and resources.
"I think we achieved something and I'm proud to have shown France that football can also be played by women, and that's a first victory. I think it will help for the future, but I can't guarantee it," French forward Eugenie Le Sommer said. "To have won over the public is a good thing, but we shouldn't just be satisfied with that."
For others, it's just getting what they've been promised.
The Nigerian team staged a brief sit-in at its hotel after it was eliminated from the tournament because players had not been paid their bonuses and allowances. Some were owed money from as far back as 2016.
In soccer-crazy Argentina, the women's team barely registers in the shadow of the men's team. But the Argentinian women earned their first-ever World Cup point at the tournament with a scoreless draw with Japan in the group stage. Argentina had been outscored 33-2 in six previous games.
"For women's football in Argentina it is great that we are starting to flourish," Argentina coach Carlos Borrello said. "We are starting on our way and just starting to face up to these powerful forces in football."
A movement for equality pushed Argentina's soccer association into giving professional status to the national women's league earlier this year. The fight for recognition has coincided with the country's feminist movement taking to the streets with marches against violence and inequality.
Jamaica coach Hue Menzies was blunt about the influence he hoped the Reggae Girlz would have back home: "We want to make an impact socially."
Like many teams in the region, Jamaica's women have struggled for basic support, even equipment. There's been little or no compensation for players. The Reggae Girlz even disbanded in 2008 but were revived five years ago with the help of Bob Marley's daughter, Cedella, who became an ambassador for the team, tirelessly seeking sponsors and funding.
"We took this project not because of football but to change mindset of how we perceive women," Menzies said. "The thing is we leave this program in a better situation. We will need to discuss with the federation about better preparations before a World Cup."
FIFA itself came under fire during the tournament for the imbalance of prize money between the men's and women's World Cups.
The Americans earned $4 million for winning the World Cup — double the amount earned four years ago — as part of a $30 million prize pool. But that's far less than the $38 million earned by France for lifting the men's trophy last July in Moscow.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino promised to double the prize money to $60 million for the next Women's World Cup in 2023, but it will still lag far behind the $440 million that will be paid out at the men's 2022 tournament in Qatar.
FIFA's cash reserves at the end of 2018 stood at $2.74 billion.
Soccer's governing body also was criticized for scheduling the Women's World Cup final on the same day as the Gold Cup final in the United States and the Copa America final in Brazil.
A day before the final, Rapinoe suggested FIFA doesn't truly care about the women's game.
"If you really care are you letting the gap grow? Are you scheduling three finals on the same day? No, you're not. Are you letting federations have their teams play two games in the four years between each tournament? No, you're not," Rapinoe said. "That's what I mean about the level of care, you need attention and detail and the best minds that we have in the women's game, helping it grow every single day."
Rapinoe was awed by the chants after the U.S. women won the championship match 2-0 over the Netherlands on Sunday.
"To have something like that, you know, obviously in the biggest match, that went so far beyond anything in sport, it was pretty incredible," she said.
She is among twenty-eight members of the current player pool who filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in March. The lawsuit alleges "institutionalized gender discrimination" that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men's national team.
The two sides have agreed to mediate the lawsuit now that the World Cup is over.
"I think everybody's ready for it," Rapinoe said after the team arrived back in New York on Monday. "It's time. I think that we've put this whole movement on our back and done so, so beautifully, the entire team. I think the conversation deserves to be moved to the next step, and I think everybody's ready for it and excited for it."