Missing ‘Big Three’ means new kind of pressure for last four at U.S. Open

first_imgNEW YORK,  (Reuters) – The perennial challenge for the men’s field at any Grand Slam has been taking down one of the dominant ‘Big Three’, but for those left at this year’s U.S. Open, it is about tamping down the pressure of playing a semi-final shorn of tennis’ titans.The aggressive, nothing-to-lose mentality a player might adopt as he gazes across the net at Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer or world number one Novak Djokovic no longer applies at Flushing Meadows.With Nadal and Federer both skipping the tournament, Djokovic’s sensational exit on Sunday after hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball opened up the field for a younger cohort of players.Germany’s Alexander Zverev faces Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta and Austrian Dominic Thiem takes on Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in their respective last-four encounters with all seeking to secure a maiden Grand Slam singles title.“The Novak news shocked us all, and obviously for us younger guys, we see that as a massive opportunity, but we have to put our head down and just do our job and focus on ourselves,” said fifth-seed Zverev, who plays Carreno Busta on Friday.Second seed Thiem, who was beaten by world number one Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open final, and third seed Medvedev, who lost to Nadal in last year’s U.S. Open decider, will look to tame the jitters that come with added expectation when they face off  today.“I don’t think any of the players have been in this situation often. Maybe Dominic (Thiem) and Daniil (Medvedev) more often,” said Canadian 12th seed Denis Shapovalov, whose own bid for a first Grand Slam title ended at the hands of Carreno Busta in the quarter-finals.“There’s a lot of dark horses out there. It’s anybody’s slam. It’s very exciting for tennis. It’s definitely causing a lot of nervous matches,” he added.Thiem said he is not underestimating the challenges presented by the remaining competitors.“There is no Roger, Rafa or Novak but there is Daniil, Sascha (Zverev) and Pablo now. They are three amazing players. Every single one of us deserves the first major title. Everyone will give it all and that’s all that is on the mind,” said Thiem.“Once we step on the court the other three (Big Three) are forgotten anyway.”last_img read more

Abby Moloughney seals 5-4 comeback win over Lindenwood

first_imgAt the end of every Thursday practice, Syracuse competes in a team shootout. The loser has to wear an orange helmet — a hockey dunce cap of sorts — in warmups before the next day’s game.On Friday, it was freshman Abby Moloughney sporting the orange cap as the players stretched and skated through their pregame routine. Hours later, she found herself in the same situation that failed her the day before: at center ice, with just the goalie to beat.“Honestly, it was pretty nerve-wracking,” Moloughney said. “Especially as a freshman, I felt a lot of weight on my shoulders to put that in.”Moloughney’s successful penalty shot capped Syracuse’s (9-19-3, 9-6-2 College Hockey America) come-from-behind 5-4 win over last place Lindenwood (7-19-3, 3-12-2). The Orange were down 4-2 heading into the third period, but two goals in the final 20 minutes brought the game to overtime. In extra time, Moloughney swerved through the attacking zone, flipped the puck in between the inside and outside of her stick, slid across the net and finished with an elevated left-handed wrist shot. Moloughney has been practicing the move, she said, and on Friday, it was the decisive game-winner.“I was thinking she’s saving it for this,” captain Lindsay Eastwood said. “This is her moment. She’s gotta redeem herself, and that’s exactly what she did.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Moments before the penalty shot, Moloughney fielded a pass from defender Allie Munroe in stride through the neutral zone. She had a step on Lindenwood’s defenders, but the Lions’ Hannah Alt recovered just in time to pull Moloughney’s jersey down before she could get a shot off. 41 seconds into overtime, Alt was assessed a holding penalty, sending everybody off the ice — except for Moloughney and Sophie Wolf, the Lions’ goalie.Wolf and Moloughney played on the same club team growing up, SU head coach Paul Flanagan said, so he was worried that Wolf knew Moloughney’s tricks. Instead, Moloughney fooled her former teammate.“At first when she made that move, I thought, ‘Uh oh, she’s running out of real estate,’” Flanagan said. “It was actually a pretty nice shot to have that little room and get it up top. I thought the goalie had her.”To give Moloughney the chance to win it in overtime, Syracuse had to overcome a two-goal deficit heading into the third period. After first period goals by Jessica DiGirolamo and Anonda Hoppner, SU struggled in the second period and allowed two unanswered scores to go down 4-2.In the locker room during the second intermission, Flanagan motivated his team by reminding them of the emotional significance of the game — Sherry Goodnough, a former player’s mother, recently passed away from pancreatic cancer. Each SU jersey had Goodnough’s slogan, “Dig Deep,” on the name plate.“(The speech) set in our hearts and in our minds that we’ve got to come through here,” Eastwood said. “This game’s not for us. This is for something much bigger than us.”With the added inspiration, Syracuse quickly cut Lindenwood’s lead. Eastwood snuck in a power play goal two minutes into the third period, and Emma Polaski tied it with her own power play score. Polaski, the team’s leading scorer, recorded a goal and two helpers.For the remainder of the third period, the Orange clung to the draw. On a Lindenwood breakaway, defenseman Allie Munroe recovered and slid across the ice, sacrificing her body to break up the play. Goalie Ady Cohen, who struggled early, made several key saves down the stretch. In the game, SU outshot Lindenwood 39-16.Then, Moloughney’s penalty shot broke the draw. Just hours after wearing the orange helmet in warmups, she celebrated with her teammates in a mosh pit.“I knew she was going to score,” Polaski said. “I absolutely knew. She lost the shootout, actually, yesterday in practice. So we were like, she’s definitely going to redeem herself and score this one.” Comments Published on February 22, 2019 at 11:21 pm Contact Danny: dremerma@syr.edu | @DannyEmerman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more