Zverev erases 2-set hole, will face Thiem in US Open final

NEW YORK — For two full sets, Alexander Zverev was confused and listless, his body language as poor as his winner-to-error ratio against Pablo Carreño Busta in the U.S. Open semifinals Friday.

Zverev double-faulted and smacked his left high. He put a backhand into the net to cede the opening set and covered his face with both hands. He netted a forehand early in the next set, then turned a forlorn face toward his guest box and put his palms up.

When he pushed a backhand long after 1 hour, 25 minutes of play and shook his head, Zverev trailed by two sets, a deficit the 23-year-old German never had overcome. Never had been to a Grand Slam final, either. Done and done. Zverev constructed quite a comeback, getting his game in gear to beat a fading Carreño Busta 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 and reach the title match at Flushing Meadows.

Zverev, the No. 5 seed, will play No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem on Sunday, and one will walk away with his first Grand Slam trophy in a mostly empty Arthur Ashe Stadium; spectators were barred because of the coronavirus pandemic .

“Mentally, I stayed in it. ... A lot of players would have gone away,” Zverev said. “There’s no easy matches anymore. Sometimes you have to dig deep. Today I dug deep, dug very deep.”

Thiem, a 27-year-old from Austria, won a far more entertaining match Friday night, holding off 2019 U.S. Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5). Medvedev held a set point in both the second and third, but Thiem hung in there both times and now will try to improve his 0-3 record in Grand Slam finals. He has lost to Rafael Nadal at the French Open the past two years and to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open this February.

‘Clinical judgments’ key in college football contact tracing

A planned scrimmage at Tennessee last weekend turned into a scaled-down practice when the Volunteers were without about 35 players because of COVID-19.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt said seven or eight players were in isolation after being infected and another 28 or so had been quarantined after it was determined through contact tracing they had been exposed to the coronavirus.

“I’m really glad we’re not playing today,” Pruitt told reporters.

What remains of a college football season greatly pared down by the pandemic is about to ramp up this weekend. All summer long, college sports leaders have said they expect disruptions for the teams that have plowed ahead — and that has already been the case with about a dozen games postponed so far.

Outbreaks can leave teams unable to play, not just because they sideline the infected but also because anyone deemed a close or high-risk contact is required to quarantine for 14 days. That’s where contact tracing comes in.

Contact tracing is part science and part sleuthing. Team doctors and athletic trainers are guided by local health departments and university protocols. Within conferences, medical staffs are trying to create as much consistency as possible in how to determine who plays and who sits.

Browns’ Garrett returns after NFL suspension

CLEVELAND — The indelible moment of rage affected Myles Garrett and shaped how others see him.

The Cleveland Browns’ star defensive end can’t undo his helmet-swinging attack on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph last season or the six-game NFL suspension that ensued. That damage is done and irreparable.

But Garrett isn’t going to let the incident define him, and as he prepares for his fourth season, he’s not worried about any outside perceptions of him as a person or player.

“Either they’ll see eventually or they’ll keep on hating,” he said of detractors. “That’s just part of life. When you’re successful, you’re going to have people who drag you or hate on you.

“But they will recognize you for your game or what you do outside of it, or they just don’t matter.”

Garrett returns Sunday for his first game since that violent, fateful encounter on national TV with Rudolph.

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