South Africa Seal Sevens Thriller, Rafa Nadal’s French Open Victory, And More things we learned from the weekend

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This past weekend saw the winners of the French Open, World Rugby Sevens Series, BMX and Sailing World Cups, and much more decided.

To say it was a sporting extravaganza would be an understatement.

But there is only one place to start – with the man whose triumphs in tennis are simply becoming the stuff of legend.

KING OF CLAY’S REIGN CONTINUES

Eleven French Open titles. ELEVEN.

 

Rafa Nadal weathered an early storm from Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the first set, before closing out the Roland Garros final 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Even more impressive, is how the victory came despite Nadal’s interrupted preparation, given his months of injury problems.

The Spaniard’s uncharacteristic show of emotion after his victory on Court Philippe Chatrier was fully understandable.

The double Olympic gold medallist has now equalled Margaret Court’s record for the most wins ever at a single Grand Slam.

Court’s achievement came at Wimbledon, where Nadal’s attention will now focus.

There was a first-time Grand Slam winner in the women’s event in Simona Halep.

The Romanian battled hard to beat America’s Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

A LESSON IN PERSISTENCE

The World Rugby Sevens Series looked a foregone conclusion.

Red-hot Olympic champions Fiji needed only to reach the semi-finals in the season finale Paris Sevens, to claim the overall title.

But when England knocked the mighty Pacific Islanders out in the quarter-finals, South Africa were in with a chance.

The Blitzbokke needed to win the tournament to regain their overall title. They didn’t need a second asking.

The Africans turned on the style to beat the English in the final 24-12, and win in what is surely the most exciting World Sevens Series finish ever.

“I still can’t believe we managed to crawl [it] back, but all honor to God and all honor to the team, I think they played phenomenal rugby.” – South Africa captain Phil Snyman

New Zealand were victorious in the women’s final, beating Rio gold medallists Australia 33-7.

However it was the Olympic champion Aussies who edged the overall title by two points.

A NEW STAR IS BORN

Things are looking good for Japanese table tennis on the run-up to Tokyo 2020.

Terrific Tomokazu Harimoto stunned the sport by winning the Japan Open men’s singles.

The 14-year-old beat London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Zhang Jike of China in the final.

But the home crowd’s elation wasn’t finished there.

In the women’s singles final, 17-year-old Mima Ito then beat two-time world junior champ Wang Manyu of China.

EGYPT SQUASH OPPOSITION!

Egyptian World No. 1’s Mohamed ElShorbagy and Nour El Sherbini won the PSA Dubai World Series Final men’s and women’s events respectively.

In the prestigious season-ending event, ElShorbagy showed why they call him ‘The Beast’.

The 27-year-old came from behind to defeat compatriot Ali Farag 9-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-8 and regain his title.

El Sherbini claimed her first World Series Finals with victory over another Egyptian in Raneem El Weleily.

The 22-year-old was dominant, winning 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5.

CURRY LEADS GSW HOME

Yup, they did it again.

The Golden State Warriors won their third NBA title in four seasons.

The men from California beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-85 to wrap up a dominant 4-0 series victory.

Steph Curry lead the line with 37 points, but it was Kevin Durant who was named Finals MVP for the second year in a row.

Meanwhile LeBron James, who revealed that he played the last three matches with a broken hand, scored 23 points in vain.

It is James’ eighth-straight finals loss and as a free agent next month, his future at the franchise remains uncertain.


FAMILY AFFAIR

It must have been some party at the Smulders household over the weekend.

London 2012 bronze medallist Laura Smulders won the women’s elite title at the BMX World Championships in Azerbaijan.

Her sister Merel finished second, while Judy Baauw completed a Dutch sweep in third position.

In an intense men’s elite final Sylvian Andre avoided several crashes to finish on top.

The Frenchman beat compatriot Joris Daudet in a photo finish.

 

Other things you may have missed…

ITU World Series of Triathlon – Leeds: Rio 2016 bronze medallist Vicky Holland won the women’s race in front of her home crowd. In the men’s event South Africa’s Richard Murray prevailed, with reigning champion Mario Mola in second place. Olympic medallist brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee both pulled out prior to the race with injury.

TYR Pro Swim Series Santa Clara: Five-time Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky won the women’s 400m, 200m and 800m freestyle in her first professional race.

Diamond League – Stockholm: Abderrahman Samba set a new 400m hurdles Asian record of 47.41 seconds. Women’s Olympic 100m hurdles champion Brianna McNeal secured a world lead time of 12.38 seconds.

Sailing World Series Final – Marseille: Israeli windsurfer Noga Geller won the RS:X title, Italy’s Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti claimed the Nacra 17 and Frenchman Pierre Le Coq sealed the RS:X windsurf event.

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Author: Andrew Binner
Andrew is an Olympic Channel news producer and perennially-injured winger.