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Worst choke imaginable costs punter $66k

The worst tennis choke you’ll ever see has cost one unlucky punter a whopping payday.Betting on the US Open, all the person needed was for world No. 44 Kristina Mladenovic to beat world No. 102 Varvara Gracheva and they would have turned $20 into $66,000.All of the other legs in the multi-bet had come good…

The worst tennis choke you’ll ever see has cost one unlucky punter a whopping payday.

Betting on the US Open, all the person needed was for world No. 44 Kristina Mladenovic to beat world No. 102 Varvara Gracheva and they would have turned $20 into $66,000.

All of the other legs in the multi-bet had come good and everything looked promising when Mladenovic took a 6-1 5-1 lead. However, the Frenchwoman imploded in spectacular fashion, collapsing in a heap as Gracheva came back to seal an incredible 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 victory.

“I just collapsed,” Mladenovic said afterwards. “I had nothing left in the tank.

“It’s definitely the most painful match and loss I’ve had in my career because it’s a grand slam and I was 6-1 5-1 and 0-40.”

For a multi-bet to pay out, every single leg needs to be correct. The punter predicted every other result perfectly except for Mladenovic’s, meaning her loss cost them big time.

SERENA MARCHES ON

Serena Williams booked her place in the third round of the US Open, defeating Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan in straight sets.

Third seed Williams wrapped up a 6-2 6-4 victory in one hour and 33 minutes on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court and will now play fellow American Sloane Stephens in the last 32.

Williams, 38, looked in imperious form in the opening set, serving well and unfurling some thunderous groundstrokes to keep Gasparyan on the back foot.

Two breaks of serve helped Williams into a 5-1 lead and she had little difficulty closing out the set.

She was made to work harder in the second, and was broken twice by Gasparyan who clawed her way back to 4-4.

However the 117th ranked Russian was unable to build on that momentum and was broken when serving to stay in the match.

Williams said she was unfazed by her slight wobble in the second set. “It wasn’t that frustrating,” she said. “I felt like she returned really well and I think that’s been what’s holding me back as I get frustrated.

“But I’m out here and I’m fighting and I felt like it was just a minor setback and if anything it can help me know what not to do next time.”

Williams is also adjusting to the eerie conditions at this year’s tournament, where games are taking place without spectators because of COVID-19.

“It’s interesting, I mean I love the crowd here, obviously, but it’s something cool,” Williams said.

“I’ve been playing so long I now play in the modern area where there’s no crowd, it’s all digital. It’s just a little more calming I think.”

Williams is chasing a record seventh US Open title at Flushing Meadows as well as a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles crown to tie Margaret Court.

Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Tsvetana Pironkova made up a “Band of Mothers” who marched into the third round on Friday.

The trio were part of a cluster of nine mums who started this week’s women’s singles tournament at Flushing Meadows.

Six of the nine — Kim Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva, Tatjana Maria, Kateryna Bondarenko, Patricia Maria Tig and Olga Govortsova — have been eliminated. But unranked Bulgarian Pironkova — playing her first tournament in three years after a break to have her first child — prolonged her participation with a 7-5 6-3 upset of Spanish 10th Garbine Muguruza.

Williams and Pironkova were later joined by Azarenka, another former world No. 1, who beat Belarusian compatriot and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-1 6-3.

Pironkova, who gave birth to her son Alexander in April 2018, says motherhood has given her a new perspective on her tennis career.

“Your priorities have nothing to do with what they did before,” she said. “Nothing is the same really. Right now I’m just happy to be playing. Having the opportunity for him to watch me also makes me really happy.

“I don’t know how to really explain it. It’s just great to be playing without that extra pressure that I had on myself before.

“Before it was like almost life-and-death situation for me to win a match. Right now it’s not really like that. It’s before all just enjoyment to be on the court.”

Pironkova believes successfully combining motherhood with the life of an elite tennis player requires planning and motivation.

“It’s definitely not easy,” she said. “Obviously there’s a lot of challenges, but they are priorities in the first place. That would always be my son and my family and their health and happiness. I would never make a compromise with that.

“But if you make a good schedule, if you really have the right motivation, I guess you can combine the two things, motherhood and being a professional tennis player.

“It’s a lot of work, but everything takes work.”

BAD NEWS FOR BRITAIN’S BEST HOPE

British ninth seed Jo Konta became the latest high-ranking player to be sent packing from the US Open, losing in three sets to Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.

Konta, a quarter-finalist at last year’s US Open, was beaten 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 4-6 in a hard-fought contest that lasted just under three hours.

Konta joins top seed Karolina Pliskova and 10th seed Garbine Muguruza as the biggest casualties from early round play this week.

Cirstea, ranked 77th in the world, will now play 20th seed Karolina Muchova in the third round.

It is only the third time in 11 appearances in the main draw at the US Open that the 30-year-old Cirstea has reached the third round.

The Australian-born Konta had looked to be in control after racing through the first set, but was unable to counter as Cirstea responded strongly in the second, aided by a strong serve which saw her finish with eight aces.

Konta had no complaints with the defeat afterwards.

“I think my level was a lot higher than hers in the first set,” she said. “But she’s a great player. She has had some pretty amazing results also in the past in her career. She’s capable of playing some very good tennis.

“She obviously raised her level. We were battling kind of toe-to-toe really. She just was better in the end.”

WINE TIME FOR BRENGLE

Madison Brengle seems to be enjoying her US Open bubble experience.

Brengle ran into the stands to crack a bottle of wine on Thursday after her 6-2 6-3 upset of No. 19 seed Dayana Yastremska in the second round of the US Open.

According to tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg, Brengle was greeted by fellow competitor and good friend Arina Rodionova with a mini-bottle of Sutter Home to sink after her victory.

Brengle, 30, promptly shouted “Alcohol!” and hustled into the stands after seeing her prize.

Brengle defeated the Australian Rodionova in the first round of the event. The veteran will now face fellow American Shelby Rogers in the third round on Saturday.

With New York Post, AFP

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