US Tops World In Virus Cases, Overtaking China And Italy

Medical staff push a patient on a gurney to a waiting medical helicopter at the Emile Muller hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France, to be evacuated on another hospital on March 17, 2020, amid the outbreak of the new Coronavirus, COVID-19. SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP
Medical staff push a patient on a gurney to a waiting medical helicopter at the Emile Muller hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France, to be evacuated on another hospital on March 17, 2020, amid the outbreak of the new Coronavirus, COVID-19. SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

 

The United States on Thursday took the grim title of the country with the most coronavirus infections and reported a record surge in unemployment as world leaders vowed $5 trillion to stave off global economic collapse.

More than 500,000 people around the world have now contracted the new coronavirus, overwhelming healthcare systems even in wealthy nations and triggering an avalanche of government-ordered lockdowns that have disrupted life for billions.

In the United States, more than 83,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19, edging out Italy, which has reported the most deaths, and China, where the virus was first detected in December in the metropolis of Wuhan.

The US has recorded 1,178 deaths, while the global death toll stood at 23,293.

“We are waging war on this virus using every financial, scientific, medical, pharmaceutical and military resource, to halt its spread and protect our citizens,” US President Donald Trump said.

With about 40 percent of Americans under lockdown orders, Trump urged citizens to do their part by practicing social distancing: “Stay home. Just relax, stay home.”

With fears mounting of a global recession if not depression, leaders from the Group of 20 major economies held crisis talks by video link Thursday, pledging a “united front” to fight the outbreak — along with an enormous financial injection.

“The virus respects no borders,” the leaders said in a statement.

“We are injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.”

They also pledged “robust” support for developing nations, where coronavirus could next take hold after ravaging China and then Europe.

But the unity pledged by the G20 has been in short supply, with China and the United States trading barbs over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.

And Italy as well as Spain, which has the second-highest death toll, objected to a draft economic plan by the European Union which they saw as too weak.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wants a “strong and sufficient” financial response that deploys “innovative financial instruments truly adapted to a war,” his office said.

– Record one-day toll in France –
Alarmed by the rapid spread of the sickness in Italy, France has taken aggressive action to stem the virus and went under lockdown on March 17.

But the 365 deaths reported Thursday was its highest in a one-day period and, alarmingly, included a 16-year-old girl — a rare case of a young person succumbing to a virus that has devastated the elderly.

“It is very difficult to estimate when the peak will come,” French health official Jerome Salomon said. “People who are ill now were infected before the confinement began.”

“Now there is less contact, people are going out less and get infected less. So we hope there will be fewer people getting sick next week and fewer people going to hospital,” he told reporters.

With hospitals under severe strain, medical workers in Italy and Spain are making painstaking choices.

“If I’ve got five patients and only one bed, I have to choose who gets it,” Sara Chinchilla, a pediatrician at a hospital near Madrid, told AFP.

“People are dying who could be saved but there’s no space in intensive care.”

In Britain, the National Health Service said London’s hospitals are facing a “continuous tsunami” of seriously ill COVID-19 patients, despite a lockdown imposed this week.

And in New York, the virus hotbed in the United States, authorities hope to stem  infections as the city struggles to more than double the number of available hospital beds.

“Almost any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the current healthcare system,” Governor Andrew Cuomo warned.

First responders in New York were receiving more than 6,000 calls to the 911 emergency line a day, many from people seeking virus testing.

It is “breaking records. We didn’t have this many calls on 9/11,” said Anthony Almojeria, a leader in the emergency medical services union, referring to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

– Economic devastation –
The pandemic has already, and rapidly, been catastrophic to the global economy.

In the United States, the world’s largest economy, the Labor Department reported that 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week — by far the highest number ever recorded.

Job losses have swept across sectors from food services to retail to transportation, as nearly half of the country has closed to “non-essential” businesses.

“It is staggering. We are only seeing the initial numbers; they will get worse, unfortunately,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters, estimating that half a million people in the city would lose work.

But Wall Street soared for a third straight day, recouping more of this month’s hefty losses, on expectations for the largest stimulus in US history.

The Senate early Thursday unanimously passed a $2 trillion package that will provide cash payouts averaging $3,400 for a family of four.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced confidence that the House of Representatives would follow suit on Friday.

– Glimmer of hope –
The global lockdown — which also hemmed in India’s huge population this week — tightened further on Thursday as Russia announced it was grounding all international flights, while Moscow’s mayor ordered the closure of cafes, shops and parks.

Tokyo’s millions of citizens have been told to stay home, too, just days after the city was forced to postpone the 2020 Olympic Games for a year.

China said it was barring entry to most foreigners, fearing that imported cases were undermining its success in bringing domestic transmissions way down.

And South Africa came under a nationwide military-patrolled lockdown as its cases climbed to more than 900 — about a third of Africa’s 3,200 cases.

The impact of the virus has stretched well beyond frontline health workers, with billions trapped in their homes and facing what experts say could be lasting psychological harm.

But offering a glimmer of hope, both Italy and Spain have seen lower daily rates of new infections this week.

The World Health Organization called Italy’s numbers “encouraging signs,” but warned it was “still too early to say whether the pandemic is peaking.”

A study from Britain’s Imperial College provided a grim prediction, saying 1.8 million people could die worldwide this year even with swift action to halt the virus.

Wilder Exercises Rematch Clause For Third Fight With Fury – Reports

Tyson Fury (L) punches Deontay Wilder during their Heavyweight bout for Wilder’s WBC and Fury’s lineal heavyweight title on February 22, 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP

Dethroned world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has exercised his rematch clause and will fight Tyson Fury a third time, according to media reports on Saturday.

BT Sport, citing promoters Bob Arum and Frank Warren, and Yahoo Sports, reported Wilder had officially exercised his contractual rematch clause and will take on Fury for a third time later this year.

The news comes a week after Britain’s Fury stopped Wilder in the seventh round of their heavyweight title rematch in Las Vegas.

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Watford’s Moments In 3-0 Triumph Over Liverpool

Despite clamour for a unification fight between Fury and fellow Briton Anthony Joshua, Wilder was widely expected to exercise his contractual right for a rematch — likely to take place by July.

In a video message posted on social media on late Friday, Wilder promised to return “in a few months.”

“I will rise again,” Wilder stated. “I will be back. We will rise like a phoenix from the ashes and regain the title.

“I’ll see you in a few months. For the war has just begun.”

Wilder also said Friday that he would keep co-trainer Mark Breland in his corner, despite earlier hints that he was ready to part company with Breland, who threw in the towel in the seventh round of the loss to Fury.

“I’m a warrior. I feel the same way I felt on fight night — if I have to go out, I want to go out on my shield,” Wilder said.

“But I understand that my corner and my team has my best interest at heart. Mark Breland is still a part of Team Wilder and our team looks forward to preparing for the rematch.”

Breland, a former Olympic and world champion, called a halt to last week’s fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena after Wilder had been knocked down twice and pummelled relentlessly by Fury.

Fury seized the World Boxing Council heavyweight title from Wilder, 14 months after the two fought to a dramatic split-decision draw in their first meeting in Los Angeles.

AFP

Death Of Iranian General: IGP Places Policemen On Red Alert Nationwide

A file photo of IGP Mohammed Adamu. PHOTO: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun

 

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu has placed Police Commands and Formations nationwide on red alert.

This proactive measure follows Intelligence Report that sequel to the recent killing of an Iranian General, some domestic interests are planning to embark on massive public disturbances and sabotage.

Consequently, Zonal AIGs and Command Commissioners of Police have been directed to ensure maximum surveillance and security of lives and property across the nation.

READ ALSO: US Army Will ‘Pay Price’ For Killing Soleimani – Hezbollah Chief

According to a communique by Force Spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, the police commanders have been directed to ensure strategic deployments of both overt and covert Police operatives to ensure adequate security and safety of citizens, foreigners especially diplomats and diplomatic missions domiciled in Nigeria as well as the protection of critical national assets.

Meanwhile, the IGP has assured all Nigerians and foreigners resident in Nigeria of adequate security. He has equally warned all potential troublemakers to steer clear of the streets and territory of Nigeria.

Ensure Your Source Of Information Cut Across, Buhari Tells US Envoy

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the United States of America (USA) to ensure that its sources of information on Nigeria cut across all sectors owing to what he described as ‘misleading and manipulative’ narratives by some people.

Nigeria recently was placed on a Special Watch List of countries that had engaged in or tolerated the severe violation of religious freedom by the US Government.

President Buhari who received Letters of Credence of United States of America Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Mary Beth Leonard, said the recent listing of Nigeria for human rights concerns created an impression that some people were being unfairly treated or marginalized in the country.

READ ALSO: Third Term: Buhari Is A Democrat, He Respects The Constitution, Says Presidency

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, President Buhari urged the envoy to use the opportunity of her posting to Nigeria, with her experience, knowledge, and energy to get the facts on the country.

“I know that those with access have created an impression of being marginalized.

“I sit here with a clear conscience. I took an oath and I am honouring the office.

“It is not an easy task to work for the unity of the country, and I am doing my best. During your stay in the country I am asking you to ensure that your sources of strategic information cut across,’’ he added.

President Buhari said he took some time to explain the situation in the country when he met with President Donald Trump in Washington DC as the American President expressed concern with reports of attacks on segments of the society.

The Impeachment Charges Against US President Donald Trump

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 26, 2019 Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens while US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. A majority of the US House of Representatives voted on December 18, 2019, to impeach US President Donald Trump for abuse of power.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

In 1,414 words, the articles of impeachment presented to the House of Representatives Wednesday lay out two charges against President Donald Trump.

Here are the key paragraphs: 

– Article I: Abuse of Power

“Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election.”

“He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage.”

“President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations.”

“President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process.”

READ ALSO: Trump Becomes Third US President To Be Impeached

– Article II: Obstruction of Congress

“As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.”

“In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.”

“In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors.'”

“This abuse of office served to cover up the President’s own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment — and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.”

AFP

Wilder KOs Ortiz to Retain WBC Heavyweight Title

 

Unbeaten Deontay Wilder landed a devastating right hand to knock out Luis Ortiz in the seventh round and retain his World Boxing Council heavyweight title.

The 34-year-old Wilder remains on course to achieve his goal of unifying all four heavyweight belts despite being largely outboxed by Ortiz before the explosive one-punch finish at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas late Saturday night.

“When I see the right shot, it is baby good night,” Wilder said.

Unbeaten in 43 fights, Wilder showed why he is widely regarded as the most destructive puncher in the resurgent heavyweight division.

The “Bronze Bomber” recorded his 10th straight title defence to equal Muhammad Ali who achieved the feat between 1974 and 1978. Only four heavyweights in the history of boxing have made more than 10 consecutive title defences.

Wilder waited patiently for his big moment and when it came, with just nine seconds left in the round, it was stunning.

He followed a pawing jab with a crushing straight right that sent Ortiz’s head snapping back and his body crashing into the ropes before landing on the canvas.

“That was a punch intended to hurt for sure,” said the American. “I got him at the right angle, my feet were planted perfectly and I felt the torque.”

Ortiz tried to get up but he clearly could not continue. The fight was officially stopped at 2:51 of the seventh.

Unification goal

It was a repeat of their 2018 fight where Wilder had battled adversity to deliver a 10th-round stoppage.

Wilder’s win now sets up another money-spinning rematch with Tyson Fury scheduled for February.

If he comes through that a unification showdown against the winner of next month’s rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia for the other three major heavyweight belts could follow.

The fights with Fury, and Ruiz or Joshua, would generate millions for Wilder.

The last two years in heavyweight boxing have provided plenty of rousing match-ups and renewed enthusiasm in contrast to the previous 15 years or so which were dominated by the Klitschko brothers.

“I am looking for a unification bout,” Wilder said. “I want one champion, one face, one name that goes by Deontay Wilder.

“The heavyweight division is too small to have so many belts lingering around. It should be just be one champion and I think I am the perfect man for that job.”

The 40-year-old Ortiz, who was coming off three straight victories, was trying to become the first Cuban to win the world heavyweight title.

‘It was a war’

“This is boxing. I told everyone it wasn’t going to go 12 rounds,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz won most of the early rounds. He was the aggressor from the opening bell as he tagged Wilder with a left hook to the face in the opening round.

Ortiz also suffered a cut to his right temple area in the opening round due to an accidental clash of heads. But there was little blood flow and his corner did a good job of containing it as the rounds continued.

Both fighters were waiting for an opening in the second round and by the third Ortiz was building up points because he was the busier of the two.

Ortiz landed a big overhand shot in the fourth which excited the crowd and pumped up Wilder, who pounded his chest and yelled bring it on.

Ortiz’s plan to was to fight inside and pay attention to defence while Wilder was constantly looking for the knockout shot and hoping Ortiz would eventually tire himself out.

That transpired in the seventh as Ortiz walked straight into a punch that appeared to come out of nowhere, sending the Cuban into dreamland.

“I don’t care about losing rounds because it is a 12-round fight,” said Wilder. “I wanted to time my punches and do the right thing.

“I had to strategically move Ortiz. I had to time myself and calculate my punches. It was a war.”

Ortiz wasn’t so sure it should have been stopped even though he barely managed to wobble to his feet after the knockdown.

“I was clear-headed. When the count was at seven I was still trying to get up. Maybe the count was quicker than I thought,” he said.

Kenya’s Kosgei Crushes Radcliffe World Record In Chicago Marathon

Brigid Kosgei of Kenya poses for a photo after breaking the world record to win the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Quinn Harris/Getty Images/AFP 

 

Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei shattered Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old world record Sunday, winning the Chicago Marathon in two hours, 14 minutes and four seconds.

Kosgei broke the mark of 2:15:25 set by Radcliffe in the London Marathon on April 13, 2003 as she won in Chicago for the second straight year.

Kosgei, the 25-year-old who also won in London in April and clocked the fastest half-marathon in history this year of 1:04:28 at the Great North Run, quickly separated herself from the women’s field as she ran with two male pace-setters.

Lawrence Cherono made it a Kenyan double with victory in the men’s race, as Mo Farah finished a distant eighth to end a week when he hit back at critics over his work with disgraced coach Alberto Salazar.

Kosgei crossed the finish line alone, with Ethiopians Ababel Yeshaneh and Gelete Burka a second and third in 2:20:51 and 2:20:55.

“I’m happy and I feel good,” Kosgei said. “People were cheering all along the course, which gave me more energy.

“I felt my body was moving, moving, moving so I went for it.”

While the IAAF called the 2:17:01 clocked by Mary Jepkosgei Keitany at the 2017 London Marathon a “women only” world record posted without male pace-setters, it’s Radcliffe’s mark — so long untouchable — that has been the grail for female marathon runners.

The British great was in Chicago and posed for photos with Kosgei.

“I think we’ve always known that time was going to come,” Radcliffe said. “When I saw how fast Brigid was running in the first part of the race, if she was able to hold that together, she was always going to beat the time.”

Radcliffe had also held the Chicago course record of 2:17:18 — set in winning the 2002 race in what was then a world record.

“That was a very special day for me and it’s a very special day for Brigid today,” Radcliffe said.

Kosgei’s performance continued a remarkable weekend in the punishing event, coming a day after fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to break two hours at the distance when he clocked 1hr 59min 40.2sec on a specially prepared course in a Vienna park.

Kosgei signalled her intentions with an astonishing first five kilometers in 15:28 — so far inside Radcliffe’s world record pace that it seemed she might have ruined her chances out of the gate.

But she settled into a more sustainable rhythm, and powered relentlessly to the finish line.

Her halfway split of 1:06:59 had Kosgei comfortably inside world-record pace, and her lead expanded over the second half as her pursuers felt the effects.

The pace-setters dropped away in the closing kilometers, leaving Kosgei to break the tape alone, her arms raised in celebration.

Cherono sprints to win

Cherono won a men’s race that came down to the wire in 2:05:45 — barely edging Ethiopia’s Dejene Debela who was second in 2:05:46 with another Ethiopian, Asefa Mengstu, third in 2:05:48.

Last year’s winner Farah was never a factor — finishing in 2:09:58.

The Briton — who set a European record in Chicago last year — was among an early lead group that began to disintegrate around the 10km mark, leaving half a dozen runners, including Cherono, setting the pace.

Kenya’s Bedan Karoki challenged late but faded before the last turn toward the finish to leave Cherono, Debela and Mengstu to sprint for the line.

“All of a sudden when we reached 41 kilometers the (others) were not going again,” Cherono said. “I decided to kick and felt I was still having enough energy to sprint.

“I tried my luck, and it worked.”

US distance running guru Salazar has been banned for four years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for a string of doping violations.

Nike shut down its Oregon Project running group headed by Salazar, and four-time Olympic gold medalist Farah arrived in Chicago for his defence to find himself again denying any irregularities during his time with the coach.

USA Thump Cuba 7-0 In CONCACAF Nations League Opener

Weston Mckennie #8 of the United States scores a goal against Cuba during the first half at Audi Field on October 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP

 

Weston McKennie scored a hat trick as the United States opened their CONCACAF Nations League campaign in style, thrashing Cuba 7-0 on Friday.

Jordan Morris added a goal and contributed on three others, Josh Sargent scored and Christian Pulisic converted a penalty for the Americans, who also benefitted from an own goal by the Cubans.

McKennie put the hosts in front less than a minute into the contest off a low cross from Morris.

He added a second off an almost identical play in the fifth and after setting Morris up for the hosts’ third goal in the ninth, completed his hat trick in the 13th.

It was the fastest known hat trick ever for the USA.

It was a second big defeat in the competition for Cuba, who fell 6-0 to Canada in the previous round.

While Gregg Berhalter’s United States will need to show they can beat much higher quality opponents, the easy win was a welcome confidence builder for a team that lost to Mexico in the Gold Cup final in July, then lost to Mexico again in a friendly before playing to a 1-1 draw with Uruguay last month.

Modeled on UEFA’S tournament of the same name in Europe, the Nations League offers the United States and other CONCACAF teams a chance to boost their world rankings to earn automatic entry into the final round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

The tournament is also the qualifying path for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The United States — still rebuilding after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup — are among 12 teams in the tournament’s A League.

In other A League action on Friday, Mexico beat Bermuda 5-1 in Hamilton.

Jose Macias scored twice and Uriel Antuna, Hirving Lozano and Hector Herrera scored for Mexico, with Nahki Wells grabbing the lone goal for the hosts.

AFP

Djokovic Ramps Up Shanghai Masters Title Defence

Novac Djokovic of Servia celebrates after winning during his men’s singles third round match against John Isner of the US at the Shanghai Masters tennis tournament in Shanghai on October 10, 2019. NOEL CELIS / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic rolled into the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals as the world number one made light work of American John Isner on Thursday.

The defending champion from Serbia dismissed the 16th seed 7-5, 6-3 in 74 minutes and plays upcoming Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas or Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the last eight.

Roger Federer, the 20-time Grand Slam champion, faces 13th seed David Goffin of Belgium later Thursday.

Biles Wins 15th World Title As US Claim Team Gold

USA’s Simone Biles performs on the beam during the women’s team final at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle in Stuttgart, southern Germany, on October 8, 2019. THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP

 

US gymnastics star Simone Biles clinched a record-extending 15th world championship gold medal on Tuesday as the Americans won the women’s team title in Stuttgart.

Biles, 22, collected her 21st medal at the championships to become the most decorated women’s gymnast, taking her one clear of Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina.

She also moved to within two medals of the all-time record held by Vitaly Scherbo of Belarus, a men’s gymnastics star in the 1990s.

It was a fourth team title for Biles in an event the Americans have dominated for the last eight years.

They claimed gold with a tally of 172.330, well ahead of the Russians who took silver with 166.529, while bronze went to Italy on 164.796.

Biles played a key role in a commanding performance by the USA, earning the most points in three of the four disciplines — the vault, balance beam and floor.

She earned a loud cheer for landing the “Biles II” skill — a triple-twisting double back on the floor — keeping her pre-championship promise to perform it in “every competition” in Stuttgart.

Her huge tally of 15.333 led a US clean sweep in the floor exercises alongside team-mates Jade Carey and Sunisa Lee, to hand the Americans gold.

Biles is expected to add more medals to her dazzling tally as the favourite in the women’s all-around final on Thursday and this weekend’s apparatus finals.

AFP

How Motherhood Helped Serena Reach Brink Of History

Serena Williams of the US serves against Qiang Wang of China during their Women’s Singles Quarter-finals tennis match during the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 3, 2019. DOMINICK REUTER / AFP

 

 

Serena Williams finds chasing after her two-year-old daughter Olympia has helped her pursuit of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open as her 38th birthday approaches.

Williams would match Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Slam singles titles and claim an unprecedented seventh US Open title with a victory in Saturday’s final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Being on the court is almost a little bit more relaxing than hanging out with a two-year-old that’s dragging you everywhere. I think that has kind of been a little helpful,” Williams said after her 6-3, 6-1 semi-final victory Thursday over Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.

Just two years ago, Williams was fighting for her life with a blood clot in her lung after giving birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

Now she could become only the fourth mother in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title after Aussies Court and Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Belgium’s Kim Clijsters.

“I think it’s amazing to come back with a baby and win because it’s hard,” Williams said. “My day off isn’t a day off.

“I’m literally hanging out with baby. I’m doing activities with her. I don’t want her to forget me. I try to spend as much time (as I can) with her. I’m a full-time mom first, foremost. That means the most to me. So I train and then I rush home.

“Being in a Grand Slam is difficult because it takes away a lot of time that we normally have together.”

Three weeks shy of her 38th birthday, Williams would become the oldest women’s champion in Grand Slam history, surpassing the age mark she set in winning the 2017 Australian Open at 35 while pregnant.

Williams seeks a record seventh US Open title to surpass the mark she now shares with Chris Evert. If she wins the finale it would give her 102 US Open match wins, one more than the record 101 she shares with Evert.

Williams says she definitely would still be playing at an age when most rivals have put down the racquet even if she had already passed Court’s once-thought unassailable mark.

“I definitely would still be playing if I had already passed it. I’ve had so many chances to pass it and (hope) to have a lot more, but it’s cool because I’m playing in an era… five eras with so many amazing players.

“If you look at the span of the career, the players I’ve played, it’s amazing that I was able to get this many.”

‘A sick joke’

Williams, who won her first Slam title 20 years ago at the US Open, said if someone had told her at 17 she would still be playing two decades later, “I would definitely not have believed them.

“At 17 I thought for sure I’d be retired at 28, 29, living my life. So I would have thought it was a sick joke.”

Williams has missed three prior Grand Slam finals chances to match Court and collect her first Slam as a mom, falling in last year’s US Open and the past two Wimbledons.

“I think it’s great. To be this far in my career, to be playing at this level with these amazing new players, is cool,” Williams said.

“It’s cool that I’ve been in more finals than I think anyone on tour after being pregnant. I think that’s kind of awesome.

“It’s not easy to go through what I did and come back, and so fast. To keep playing, to also not be 20 years old, yeah, I’m pretty proud of myself.”

Svitolina marvels at Williams as well.

“What she does is unbelievable effort on a daily basis. You have to work every day. You have to be always ready, always prepared for any match,” Svitolina said.

“What she does and what she achieved, it’s something unbelievable. For sure, everyone dream about it. For now, only her who can do it.”

Serena powers into 10th US Open final

Serena Williams cruised into a 10th US Open final Thursday as she brushed aside fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1 to claim a record-equaling 101st win at Flushing Meadows.

Williams is seeking a 24th Grand Slam singles title to match Margaret Court’s all-time record and will face either Belinda Bencic or Bianca Andreescu on Saturday in her bid for a seventh US Open triumph.

The 37-year-old American, who made her US Open debut in 1998, also drew level with Chris Evert for the most wins in tournament history after advancing to a 33rd major final.

“It’s impressive. To be in any club with Chrissie is awesome,” said Williams, who lifted her first Grand Slam title at the 1999 US Open.

“I couldn’t have done it without this crowd. You guys have literally been here for 20 years and I’m still here.”

Williams fought off six breaks points across her opening three service games before finding her rhythm to dispatch Wimbledon semi-finalist Svitolina in 70 minutes, hitting 34 winners against just 20 unforced errors.

“I know how (Svitolina) can play, she’s such a good player. Obviously two semis in a row is really hard to do and I just wanted to not get off to a slow start and I wanted to hang on in there.”

Williams, who was beaten by Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final in July, returns to the championship match in New York a year on from her infamous meltdown in a loss to Naomi Osaka overshadowed by controversy.

She is chasing a first Slam title since the 2017 Australian Open and hasn’t won the US Open since 2014.

Svitolina was attempting to become just the second Ukrainian to play in a Grand Slam singles final after Andrei Medvedev, who lost in five sets to Andre Agassi at the 1999 French Open.

Benic Ousts Osaka While Vekic Rallies For US Open Win

 

Belinda Bencic stunned top-ranked defending champion Naomi Osaka to reach the US Open quarter-finals, where she will face Donna Vekic, who rallied from match point down on Monday to advance.

Bencic’s 7-5, 6-4 triumph, her WTA-best sixth over a top-five foe this year, ensured 21-year-old Japanese star Osaka will fall from the world number one spot next week.

“The challenge cannot be bigger against Naomi,” Bencic said. “I had to be at the top of my game and I’m really pleased how well I handled my nerves at the end.”

The 22-year-old Swiss 13th seed matched her deepest career Grand Slam run from the 2014 US Open with her third victory of the year over Osaka, having also won at Indian Wells and Madrid.

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, the reigning French Open champion who was beaten Sunday, will move into the world number one position next Monday.

Vekic, the 23rd seed from Croatia, saved a match point in the second set and made her first Slam quarter-final by rallying past German 26th seed Julia Goerges 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-3.

“I don’t even know how I won this match,” Vekic said. “She was serving for the match. She had match point. I just kept fighting and believing I could win. It feels pretty amazing.”

Bencic owns a 2-1 career edge over Vekic from two 2014 wins but Vekic won the most recent meeting with her friend and frequent practice partner in the third round of this year’s French Open.

“It’s going to be a tough match for sure,” Vekic said. “She’s one of the best players this year.”

Osaka’s exit means there will be four different women’s Grand Slam winners in a season for the third consecutive year, a first in the Open era.

Reigning Australian Open champion Osaka struggled from the start on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium court where she consoled tearful US teen Coco Gauff just two days earlier.

“It was just an unbelievable moment for tennis,” Bencic said of Osaka helping Gauff cope with her sadness. “Coco’s story is unbelievable but what Naomi did is what a true champion would do.”

Osaka double faulted to surrender a break in the opening game of the match, but leveled at 2-2 when Bencic netted a backhand.

Bencic swatted a backhand down-the-line winner for a break to seize a 6-5 lead then held on a service winner to capture the first set.

Osaka double faulted away a break to hand Vekic a 3-2 lead and the Swiss never faced a break point in the second set, finishing off the victory with a forehand winner to end matters after 87 minutes.

“I was taking the serve early, trying to anticipate, because she has so much power,” Bencic said. “I’m trying to play like chess and make it tactical on the court.”

Bencic hit 29 winners with only 12 unforced errors to Osaka’s 26 winners and 21 unforced errors.

Confident in rallies

Goerges won the tie-breaker with consecutive forehand winners, then broke Vekic to open the second set and fired four consecutive aces for a 2-0 lead.

But the German was broken serving for the match, squandering a match point in the 10th game, and Vekic broke again when Goerges hit a forehand wide to force a third set.

“I was just trying to get a return in the court,” Vekic said. “She was serving amazing. I was feeling confident in the rallies and I knew if I could get that return in I would have an advantage.”

US upstarts play seeds in later matches as 116th-ranked qualifier Taylor Townsend faces Canadian teen 15th seed Bianca Andreescu and Belgian 25th seed Elise Mertens meets 141st-ranked wildcard Kristie Ahn.