Nadal wins match despite bizarre injury

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Nadal wins match despite bizarre injury

From Comcast SportsNet Thursday, August 18, 2011
MASON, Ohio (AP) -- Rafael Nadal wanted to play a lot of tennis at the Western & Southern Open, though maybe not all in one day. Nadal survived a three-set, three-tiebreaker match against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco on Thursday, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (9) victory that kept him on court for 3 hours, 38 minutes. "The truth is that I am very happy," he said, before heading off to get ready for a doubles match. "Very content with the victory. It was a tough match for both of us." Nadal arrived hoping to get a lot of on-court time this week. He missed a month after hurting his left foot at Wimbledon, where he reached the finals and lost to Novak Djokovic. He had a setback before his first match in Cincinnati. Nadal burned the tips of his index and middle fingers on his right hand when he touched a hot plate at a local restaurant. The left-handed Nadal had the fingers bandaged again on Thursday for protection. Playing on a sunny, mid-80s afternoon, the second-ranked Nadal finished it by converting his fifth match point. It was only the second best-of-three matches in Nadal's career that featured three tiebreakers. The second-ranked Nadal improved to 12-0 in his career against the unseeded Verdasco. "You enjoy always a good match," Verdasco said. "But when you lose in this way, of course it's not easy to lose. You have it so close. Tennis is like that." In the quarterfinals, Nadal will play seventh-seeded Mardy Fish, who beat Richard Gasquet 7-5, 7-5. No. 4 Andy Murray also advanced with a 6-2, 7-5 win over American qualifier Alex Bogomolov Jr. The women's bracket is wide open because of injuries and upsets. Defending champion Kim Clijsters (injuries) and Venus Williams (virus) had to skip the tournament, and Serena Williams dropped out on Wednesday because of a sore big toe after playing her seventh match in eight days. Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki was upset in her first match of the tournament, and third-seeded Victoria Azarenka withdrew because of an injured hand. Serena Williams' premature departure cleared the way for Samantha Stosur, who got an extra day of rest and looked refreshed on Thursday, beating fifth-seeded Li Na of China 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. The 10th-seeded Australian was scheduled to face Williams on Wednesday. "I wasn't complaining that she pulled out," said Stosur, who lost to Williams in the finals at Toronto last week. "I had a pretty easy day, which was nice, considering the week I had before. So I guess that was good for today's match, and hopefully will be good for tomorrow." Stosur has beaten Li -- the French Open champion -- three times this season, including in the same round last week at Toronto. Second-seeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Petra Martic. Slovkia's Daniela Hantuchova upset eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance.