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Denied: Venus Williams drops Wimbledon final in straight sets to Muguruza

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AP

Denied: Venus Williams drops Wimbledon final in straight sets to Muguruza

LONDON -- Garbine Muguruza already knew what it's like to lose to a Williams in the Wimbledon final. Now she knows how it feels to beat one for a championship at the All England Club.

Muguruza powered her way to her first title at Wimbledon and second at a Grand Slam tournament Saturday, beating a fading Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0 by claiming the final's last nine games.

At 37, Williams was bidding for her sixth championship at the grass-court major, 17 years after her first. And she was so close to gaining the upper hand against Muguruza, holding two set points at 5-4 in the opener. But Muguruza fought those off and did not drop a game the rest of the way.

"She's such an incredible player," the 23-year-old Muguruza said about Williams during the trophy ceremony, then drew a laugh from spectators by adding: "I grew up watching her play."

In 2015, in her first Grand Slam final, Muguruza lost to Williams' younger sister, Serena.

"She told me one day I was going to maybe win," Muguruza said. "So two years after, here I am."

Muguruza defeated Serena in last year's French Open title match and, by adding this victory over Venus, the Spaniard becomes the first player to win a Grand Slam final against each member of the greatest Sister Act in sports.

With the Centre Court roof closed because of rain earlier in the day, creating echoes with each thwack of racket strings against ball by the two big hitters, Muguruza was too good down the stretch.

Williams began the proceedings with an ace to a corner at 109 mph (176 kph), but Muguruza quickly showed she would neither be overwhelmed by such booming serves nor the occasion. Williams is accustomed to parlaying that stroke into easy points, but Muguruza got back one serve at 113 mph (182 kph) on the match's second point, and another at 114 mph (184 kph) in the third game - and wound up winning the ensuing exchanges both times.

Still, Williams twice was a point away from winning the opening set, ahead 5-4 while Muguruza served at 15-40. On the first chance, a 20-stroke point ended when Williams blinked first, putting a forehand into the net. On the second set point, Williams sent a return long, and Muguruza pumped her fist.

It was as if getting out of that jam freed up Muguruza - and failing to capitalize on the opportunity deflated Williams. That began the match-closing nine-game run for Muguruza.

Williams began faltering, spraying shots to unintended spots - long, wide, into the net - while the younger, less-experienced Muguruza stayed steady, pounding groundstrokes with all her force. By the latter stages, with the ultimate outcome apparent, the only question was how lopsided the score would be.

Williams finished with 25 unforced errors, 14 more than Muguruza made. It ended when Williams hit a shot that landed long, but was ruled in. Muguruza challenged the call, and after a bit of a delay, the review showed the ball was, indeed, out. Made to wait to celebrate, Muguruza eventually could enjoy the moment, dropping to her knees and covering her face as tears arrived.

Soon enough, Muguruza was being shown her name on the list of champions in the stadium's lobby - "Finally!" she said - and being greeted by former King Juan Carlos of Spain.

It was an anticlimactic conclusion to the fortnight for Williams, who was the oldest Wimbledon finalist since 1994. She hadn't made it this far at the All England Club since 2009, hadn't won the title since a year earlier.

"A lot of beautiful moments in the last couple of weeks," the American said.

Diagnosed in 2011 with Sjogren's syndrome, an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, she learned to deal with that condition by turning to a plant-based diet and altering other routines. It took a while for her to get back to her best tennis. Her resurgence began in earnest at Wimbledon a year ago, when she made it to the semifinals.

Then, at the Australian Open in January, Williams reached the final, where she lost to her sister.

Serena is off the tour for the rest of this year because she is pregnant, and Venus spoke about wanting to earn a trophy for the family name.

She came close to achieving that, but Muguruza would not allow it.

Asked if she had a message for Serena, Venus said: "Oh, I miss you. I tried my best to do the same things you do, but I think that there'll be other opportunities. I do."

Fantasy football draft guide, cheat sheet for 49ers, Raiders players

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USATSI/AP

Fantasy football draft guide, cheat sheet for 49ers, Raiders players

If you root for the 49ers or the Raiders, you’ve been there.

Your fantasy football draft is going according to plan when, all of a sudden, somebody picks a Bay Area skill player way too high. Whether they were convinced LaMichael James would usurp Frank Gore (he didn't), or that a Raiders-era Randy Moss was the best player in the draft (he wasn't), it happens every year.

So, where should you target 49ers and Raiders in your fantasy football draft? With help from our friends at Rotoworld, I’ll examine the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and tight ends to pay attention to.

This handy guide is intended for a 10-team, non-PPR league. Let's start with the signal-callers.

Quarterbacks

Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers, Rotoworld Rank: QB15)

In his first five starts with San Francisco last year, Jimmy GQ ranked as the sixth-best fantasy quarterback, according to Rotoworld's Evan Silva.  The hype train is packed, but Garoppolo’s upside make him worth a calculated risk as soon as the seventh or eighth round -- as long as the top quarterbacks are off the board, that is. Just don't take him with your first pick.

Derek Carr (Raiders, QB18)

Carr is healthy now, but he won't have much stability otherwise. His most-targeted receiver from the last three years is gone (Michael Crabtree, WR30 per Rotoworld), and Carr is playing for his third offensive coordinator in three years. New head coach Jon Gruden’s largely kept Carr hidden in the preseason, but any upside is really only worth considering once he hits the waiver wire.

Running backs

Jerick McKinnon (49ers, RB15)

McKinnon thrived when thrust in a larger role in Minnesota last season, and Kyle Shanahan’s recent history in Atlanta offers an intriguing possibility: McKinnon as Devonta Freeman. He has the pass-catching ability (51 receptions last season), and a preseason calf injury shouldn’t dissuade you. If you miss out on a bigger name in the first round, McKinnon is a nice fallback as early as the late second round.

Marshawn Lynch (Raiders, RB28)

Beast Mode was solid over the last eight games of 2017. He averaged 92.2 total yards, and scored five touchdowns during that stretch. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s last two offenses in Jacksonville were in the bottom-third in rushing, but he didn't have a back like Lynch. Oakland’s native son is an intriguing option right around the fifth round, and especially if he slips further.

Matt Breida (49ers, RB58)

Fantasy football season is also cuffing season ... if you’re playing it right. Breida playing the Tevin Coleman role makes him more than just a cuff, though. He is one of the most intriguing sleepers, since he ranked 15th in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and fifth in Defensive-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) among running backs last year. Breida’s worth a flyer from the 12th round onward as you draft your last offensive players.

Doug Martin (Raiders, RB63)

Gruden is high on Martin this preseason, but the 29-year-old is coming off of the worst two years of his career. He flashed some receiving ability (9.3 yards per reception) in limited touches (nine catches), but he also ran for fewer than 3 yards per carry for the second straight year. Martin’s not worth stressing over in the draft, but could be a waiver-wire pickup in a best-case scenario.

Alfred Morris (49ers, Unranked)

Depending upon McKinnon and Breida’s readiness to start the year, Morris could be in for a heavy workload early. The 29-year-old turned back the clock with 84 rushing yards against the Colts last Saturday, and the most productive years of his career were playing for Shanahan in Washington. Keep an eye on Morris in the 14th round, or whenever you pick your last offensive player.

Wide receivers

Amari Cooper (Raiders, WR15)

The bad news: Per Pro Football Focus, Amari Cooper led the league in drop rate (17.2 percent) last season, and averaged nearly one-and-a-half fewer targets per game than in 2016. The good news: Cooper still set a career-high in touchdowns (seven) despite missing two games and dealing with various injuries. You won’t want to reach on him, but his floor is high enough to make him a no-brainer in the fourth round or later.

Marquise Goodwin (49ers, WR36)

Goodwin enjoyed the best season of his career in his first year under Shanahan, and he developed strong chemistry with Garoppolo. Extend his final five games over a full season, and Goodwin was on pace for 93 catches and 1,229 receiving yards. That’ll play. Even if he doesn’t emerge as a touchdown threat, he should be on your radar as soon as the seventh round.  

Pierre Garcon (49ers, WR31)

Garcon missed the final nine games of the season, but as Rotoworld’s Evan Silva noted, he was on pace for a staggering 144 targets. He is a year older, and will be coming off of a tough injury, but his growing connection with Garoppolo bodes well. Target Garcon in the ninth or 10th round, and even earlier if you’re in a PPR league.

Jordy Nelson (Raiders, WR32)

Nelson’s decline was precipitous in 2017, but that masks his remaining fantasy value. The days of double-digit touchdowns and over 1200 receiving yards are probably behind him, but Nelson’s firmly entrenched as the Raiders’ No. 2 option. If he slips out of the ninth round, scoop him up.

Tight ends

George Kittle (49ers, TE13)

It's usually wise to wait on a tight end, and Kittle would be a solid reward if you do. He and Garoppolo have developed strong chemistry this off-season, and Kittle’s hot finish to 2017 (194 rec. yards, TD in the last three games) offered a preview of what could come. Play the waiting game, and pick Kittle in the 12th round or later.

Jared Cook (Raiders, TE18)

Cook was Carr's third-favorite target last year, but his fantasy output was largely contained to two huge games over a three-week span. After that, he eclipsed 75 receiving yards and five targets only once. Tight end’s largely a crapshoot as a position, but you should have better options throughout the draft.

Warriors' 2018-19 schedule released; see official dates, tip-off times

Warriors' 2018-19 schedule released; see official dates, tip-off times

The road to the Golden State Warriors' defense of their back-to-back NBA championships now is known.

The league revealed Friday its entire 2018-19 regular-season schedule, and while some Warriors dates already were public, the complete picture came into view with the announcement.

Some interesting notes:

-- The Warriors will face the Thunder and Spurs (as well as the Jazz and Pelicans) just three times. They'll play the Rockets, Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Mavericks four times.

-- They will be 13 back-to-back sets, compared to 14 last season

-- Golden State's longest road trip will be five games. That also will be the length of their longest homestand.

-- Warriors games by days of the week (compared to last season's totals):
Monday = 13 (14)
Tuesday = 10 (8)
Wednesday = 13 (13)
Thursday = 11 (10)
Friday = 12 (13)
Saturday = 13 (17)
Sunday = 10 (7)

Without further ado, here is the Warriors' complete 2018-19 regular-season schedule, with all times Pacific:

OCTOBER

Tuesday, Oct. 16 -- vs. Thunder, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, Oct. 19 -- at Jazz, 7:30 p.m. 
Sunday, Oct. 21 -- at Nuggets, 5 p.m. 
Monday, Oct. 22 -- vs. Suns, 7:30 p.m. 
Wednesday, Oct. 24 -- vs. Wizards, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, Oct. 26 -- at Knicks, 4:30 p.m. 
Sunday, Oct. 28 -- at Nets, 2 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 29 -- at Bulls, 5 p.m.  
Wednesday, Oct. 31 -- vs. Pelicans, 7:30 p.m.

[RELATED: Top 10 must-see Warriors games of the 2018-19 regular season]

NOVEMBER

Friday, Nov. 2 -- vs. Timberwolves, 7:30 p.m. 
Monday, Nov. 5 -- vs. Grizzlies, 7:30 p.m.  
Thursday, Nov. 8 -- vs. Bucks, 7:30 p.m. 
Saturday, Nov. 10 -- vs. Nets, 6 p.m. 
Monday, Nov. 12 -- at Clippers, 7:30 p.m.  
Tuesday, Nov. 13 -- vs. Hawks, 7:30 p.m.  
Thursday, Nov. 15 -- at Rockets, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 17 -- at Mavericks, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 18 -- at Spurs, 4 p.m.  
Wednesday, Nov. 21 -- vs. Thunder, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, Nov. 23 -- vs. Blazers, 7:30 p.m. 
Saturday, Nov. 24 -- vs. Kings, 5:30 p.m.  
Monday, Nov. 26 -- vs. Magic, 7:30 p.m.  
Thursday, Nov. 29 -- at Raptors, 5 p.m.

 

DECEMBER

Saturday, Dec. 1 -- at Pistons, 4 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 3 -- at Hawks, 4:30 p.m. 
Wednesday, Dec. 5 -- at Cavaliers, 4 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 7 -- at Bucks, 6:30 p.m. 
Monday, Dec. 10 -- vs. Timberwolves, 7:30 p.m. 
Wednesday, Dec. 12 -- vs. Raptors, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, Dec. 14 -- at Kings, 7 p.m. 
Monday, Dec. 17 -- vs. Grizzlies, 7:30 p.m. 
Wednesday, Dec. 19 -- at Jazz, 6 p.m. 
Saturday, Dec. 22 -- vs. Mavericks, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 23 -- vs. Clippers, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 25 -- vs. Lakers, 5 p.m. 
Thursday, Dec. 27 vs. Blazers, 7:30 p.m. 
Saturday, Dec. 29 -- at Trail Blazers, 7 p.m. 
Monday, Dec. 31 -- at Suns, 6 p.m. 

 

[RELATED: 10 must-see Warriors games next season]

JANUARY

Thursday, Jan. 3 -- vs. Rockets, 7:30 p.m. 
Saturday, Jan. 5 -- at Kings, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 8 -- vs Knicks, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, Jan. 11 -- vs. Bulls, 7:30 p.m. 
Sunday, Jan. 13 -- at Mavericks, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 15 -- at Nuggets, 6 p.m. 
Wednesday, Jan. 16 -- vs. Pelicans, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, Jan. 18 -- at Clippers, 7:30 p.m. 
Monday, Jan. 21 -- at Lakers, 7:30 p.m. 
Thursday, Jan. 24 -- at Wizards, 5 p.m. 
Saturday, Jan. 26 -- at Celtics, 5:30 p.m. 
Monday, Jan. 28 -- at Pacers, 4 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 31 -- vs. 76ers, 7:30 p.m.

 

FEBRUARY

Saturday, Feb. 2 -- vs Lakers, 5:30 p.m. 
Wednesday, Feb. 6 -- vs. Spurs, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, Feb, 8 -- at Suns, 6 p.m. 
Sunday, Feb. 10 -- vs Heat, 5:30 p.m. 
Tuesday, Feb. 12 -- vs Jazz, 7:30 p.m. 
Wednesday, Feb. 13 -- at Blazers, 7 p.m. 
Thursday, Feb. 21 -- vs. Kings, 7:30 p.m. 
Saturday, Feb. 23 -- vs. Rockets, 5:30 p.m. 
Monday, Feb. 25 -- at Hornets. 4 p.m. 
Wednesday, Feb. 27 -- at Heat, 4:30 p.m. 
Thursday, Feb. 28 -- at Magic, 4 p.m. 

 

MARCH

Saturday, March 2 -- at 76ers, 5:30 p.m. 
Tuesday, March 5 -- vs. Celtics, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, March 8 -- vs. Nuggets, 7:30 p.m. 
Sunday, March 10 -- vs. Suns, 6 p.m. 
Wednesday, March 13 -- at Rockets, 6:30 p.m.  
Saturday, March 16 -- at Thunder, 5:30 p.m. 
Monday, March 18 -- at Spurs, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, March 19 -- at Timberwolves, 5 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 -- vs. Pacers, 7:30 p.m. 
Saturday, March 23 -- vs. Mavericks, 5:30 p.m. 
Sunday, March 24 -- vs. Pistons, 6 p.m.  
Wednesday, March 27 -- at Grizzlies, 5 p.m. 
Friday, March 29 -- at Timberwolves, 5 p.m.
Sunday, March 31 -- vs. Hornets, 5:30 p.m.

 

APRIL

Tuesday, April 2 -- vs. Nuggets, 7:30 p.m. 
Thursday, April 4 -- at Lakers, 7:30 p.m. 
Friday, April 5 -- vs. Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 7 -- vs. Clippers, 5:30 p.m. 
Tuesday, April 9 -- at Pelicans, 5 p.m.
Wednesday, April 10 -- at Grizzlies, 5 p.m.