Sports Digest: Serena Williams loses at National Bank Open


TENNIS

Serena Williams lost her first match since telling the world she is ready to leave professional tennis.

No one knows exactly how many more matches Williams will play before walking away, and the 23-time Grand Slam champion exited the National Bank Open in Toronto on Wednesday night with a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Belinda Bencic.

The second-round match at the hard-court tuneup for the US Open came a day after the 40-year-old Williams announced “the countdown has begun” on her playing career, saying she wants to have another child and pursue business interests.

She did not state precisely what her last event will be, but did make it sound as if her final goodbyes could come at the US Open, which begins Aug. 29 in New York.

• Nick Kyrgios beat top-ranked defending champion Daniil Medvedev, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2 in the second round in Montreal.

Krygios, the Australian ranked 37th, won last week in Washington for his seventh ATP Tour title. Medvedev won last week in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Earlier, American Tommy Paul beat second-seeded Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (7), 6-3.

AUTO RACING

NASCAR: Kurt Busch said he pushed himself too hard trying to return to competition and will miss his fourth consecutive Cup Series race because of concussion-like symptoms.

Busch has been out since crashing in qualifying on July 23 at Pocono Raceway. He had hoped to be back in the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing on Sunday at Richmond Raceway.

“Brain injury recovery doesn’t always take a linear path. I’ve been feeling well in my recovery, but this week I pushed to get my heart rate and body in a race simulation type environment, and it’s clear I’m not ready to be back in the race car,” Busch wrote on Twitter.

Ty Gibbs will again replace Busch. Gibbs, the 19-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs, scored his first career top-10 Cup finish on Sunday when filling in for Busch at Michigan. He has finished 16th, 17th and 10th in his three races as a substitute.

• Noah Gragson finally earned a promotion to NASCAR’s top level and will drive for Petty GMS in the Cup Series next season.

Gragson will replace Ty Dillon in the No. 42 Chevrolet beginning with next season’s exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He will be teammates with Erik Jones, who recently signed an extension to continue with the team that launched this year when GMS Racing moved up to the Cup Series, merging with Richard Petty Motorsports.

Gragson is currently fourth in the Xfinify Series standings, with three wins and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs. He has been given a part-time schedule in the Cup Series with Beard Motorsports and made his Daytona 500 debut in February. He has nine Cup starts this season, with a best finish of 18th at Kansas.

TENNIS

NATIONAL BANK OPEN: Nick Kyrgios beat top-ranked defending champion Daniil Medvedev, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2 in the second round in Montreal.

Krygios, the Australian ranked 37th, won last week in Washington for his seventh ATP Tour title. Medvedev won last week in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Earlier, American Tommy Paul beat second-seeded Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (7), 6-3.

SOCCER

SUPER CUP: David Alaba and Karim Benzema scored as Real Madrid won the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in Helsinki.

Alaba prodded the opener home from close range in the 37th minute, and Benzema sealed Madrid’s record-equaling fifth Super Cup title in the 65th minute. The game matches the Champions League winners, Madrid, against the Europa League champions, Frankfurt.

WORLD CUP: Host nation Qatar is set to play in the opening game after all – and on a standalone day being added to the schedule barely 100 days before kickoff.

Soccer’s marquee tournament is now set to start one day earlier than originally scheduled seven years ago in a move that would allow Qatar to play Ecuador on Nov. 20, a person familiar with the proposal told The Associated Press.

The proposal will be put before a committee comprised of FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the heads of the six continental soccer bodies, the person said. A decision is expected this week.

ENGLAND: United States forward Matthew Hoppe joined second-division Middlesbrough from Spanish club Mallorca in search of regular playing time that could earn him a World Cup roster spot.

Hoppe, 21, signed a four-year contract after one season in Spain’s top flight, where he made just seven appearances for Mallorca, with no goals. He did not make a La Liga start after Sept. 22 and had just three league substitute appearances.

HOCKEY

NHL: Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Borje Salming has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the team announced.

The 71-year-old Salming, who played 16 seasons with the Leafs (1973-1989) and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996, is receiving treatment in his native Sweden.

WORLD JUNIORS: Connor Bedard had a goal and an assist and Canada opened play in the postponed world junior championship with a 5-2 victory over Latvia in Edmonton, Alberta.

The tournament was called off Dec. 29 after four days as rising COVID-19 cases forced games to be forfeited.


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