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Tennis teens take New York by storm
Supporting Emma Raducanu is “going to be a hell of a ride”, says Matthew Syed in The Times. Aged 18, fresh from her A-levels, she has battered her way to the US Open final, swatting aside the “discombobulated” 11th and 17th seeds, Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari, in straight sets. Tomorrow she’ll face fellow teen Leylah Fernandez, 19, who has beaten three of the world’s top five players on her way to the final.
Raducanu is the first British woman to reach a major singles final since 1977. She couples “remarkable” strength with “razor-sharp accuracy” and a kind of all-conquering “kinetic versatility”. She’s also clearly having fun. Billie Jean King was once asked if she ever got bored with tennis. “How could I get bored?” she replied with a twinkle. “The ball never crosses the net in the same way twice.”
So let the young have their fun, says Matthew Futterman in The New York Times. Like “young stockbrokers who have yet to see a bear market”, Raducanu, Fernandez, and the rising men’s star Carlos Alcaraz, 18, are “enjoying the best of tennis life”. They should enjoy the chants, the selfies and “the freedom of swinging their rackets on a stage where they cannot lose, because no one was counting on them to win in the first place”.
Tennis tends to eat its young like few other sports. Just look at Naomi Osaka, who beat Serena Williams at the US Open three years ago as a teenager. Now she’s tearfully announcing an indefinite break. Shelby Rogers, the veteran American defeated by Raducanu in the fourth round, was asked to offer advice and replied: “Buckle up, it’s a long ride.”
Cricket is the Taliban’s latest victim
The Australians have threatened to cancel a forthcoming Test match against Afghanistan in Tasmania if reports that the Afghan women’s team are being persecuted turn out to be true. It was reported last week that members of the women’s team were in hiding in Kabul, saying the Taliban had come looking for them. It’s highly likely the game will be called off, says BBC Sport, after Taliban cultural commission deputy head Ahmadullah Wasiq told Aussie broadcaster SBS News: “It is not necessary that women should play. In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.”
Australia was due to host its first-ever Test against Afghanistan in November, ahead of the Ashes series with England, which begins on 8 December. The Afghan men’s team has received the official blessing of the Taliban, but ICC rules stipulate that all full member countries must have a national women’s team. Only full members are allowed to play Test matches, so this could be the end of the road for Afghan Test cricket.