SERENA Williams underlined why she is the Australian Open favourite with a rapid first-round win, while world number one Ashleigh Barty overcame a scare to reach the second round.Williams, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3 in just 58 minutes.Australia’s Barty recovered from a poor start against world number 120 Lesia Tsurenko to win 5-7 6-1 6-1.Defending champion Naomi Osaka also advanced on the opening day.Third seed Osaka started slowly against Marie Bouzkova, before winning 6-2 6-4.While Williams claimed a convincing victory over her Russian opponent, there was an even faster win for seventh seed Petra Kvitova, the 2019 runner-up, demolished fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-1 6-0 in 51 minutes.Former champion Caroline Wozniacki got her final tournament before retirement off to a good start with a 6-1 6-3 victory over American Kristie Ahn.However, 2017 US Open champion and 24th seed Sloane Stephens was beaten by China’s Zhang Shuai.The American served for the match in the second set but then lost seven games in a row as she fell to a 2-6 7-5 6-2 defeat.Britain’s Johanna Konta was due to play on the first day but her match was one of 32 rescheduled for Tuesday because of rain.Top seed Barty won the Adelaide International on Sunday but struggled for rhythm in a patchy match.Ukrainian Tsurenko, who reached the 2018 US Open quarter-finals, was playing just her second match after injuring her elbow but initially held firm against an error-strewn Barty.Barty was broken in the opening game of the match, silencing the packed Rod Laver Arena, and Tsurenko ultimately served out the set after Barty sent an easy forehand long.The Australian made 19 unforced errors in the opening set but was able to take advantage of a fading Tsurenko, whose served crumbled as the match progressed.The 23-year-old won 14 of the final 16 games to close out the match and will play either Polona Hercog or Rebecca Peterson next.Barty, who claimed her first Grand Slam singles title in Paris last year, said: “It’s all good. This is the moment I’ve been looking forward to the most throughout the off season.”The tournament started as scheduled on Monday after air quality improved in Melbourne, although matches were later postponed because of heavy rain.Last week’s qualifying event had been disrupted by delays because of the air pollution caused by widespread bushfires.Williams, who had a pulmonary embolism after giving birth in 2017, said she had been concerned about what conditions might be like during her match.“That is still a concern for pretty much everyone. Every day all the players and the tournament make sure that all the players are updated on what the play conditions would be like,” said the American.“It’s literally every day, we are just waiting every day to see how the air quality would be. Today, it seemed normal. Yeah, it seemed pretty good.”Eighth seed Williams, who won her first WTA title in three years in the run-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year, will play Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek next.The 38-year-old was made to work harder in the second set by 18-year-old Potapova, who broke in the third game of the second set after a double-fault by Williams.But Williams immediately broke back and pulled away to victory.(BBC Sports
It seems that every year another “NFL to Los Angeles” headline pops up. The Los Angeles Rams and Raiders fans appear in mass numbers, the NFL dismisses the notion, and a few weeks later it’s as if the rumor never happened.This NFL offseason has produced not one, not two, but three possible teams heading to L.A. as soon as the 2016 season. Rams owner Stan Kroenke has publicly said he will be moving his team to Inglewood to play in an 80,000 seat stadium built on the former site of the Hollywood Park racetrack.The Raiders and Chargers have proposed a joint stadium located in Carson that would host both teams and contain a large number of restaurants and other venues surrounding the stadium, similar to L.A. Live next to the Staples Center.All this happened while a proposal for a stadium located next to the Staples Center with funding, a naming sponsorship and city backing sat waiting for a team to commit.That plan now joins the approximately one million, just maybe a slight exaggeration, other stadium/team proposals that L.A. has seen since the Rams and Raiders bolted in 1994.Now, these stadium proposals sound nice and all, but I’m not buying into it yet. Not until shovel hits dirt will I believe that America’s biggest sport will return to the City of Angels.In my 21 years of life, I’ve been let down too many times from these fake rumors.Let’s just go over a brief history of the past 20 years since the NFL left before I explain why you shouldn’t get too excited over these new stadium proposals.In just over 20 years, Los Angeles has been linked to almost half of the teams in the NFL. In 1997, the Seahawks were supposed to move before getting a new stadium.In 1999, the expansion team was supposed to be in L.A. before Houston swooped in and convinced the NFL otherwise. In 2002, the Colts were supposed to move from Indianapolis before getting a new stadium.In the late 2000s, the 49ers, Vikings and Bills were all linked to Los Angeles before getting new stadiums from their respective cities.The reason I’m pointing this history out is because owners have used Los Angeles as a bargaining tool against cities that threaten to provide no funding for a new stadium. Owners have been taking advantage of L.A.’s vacancy as a way to leverage themselves.Imagine you have two friends: one who will buy you lunch, and another who won’t. You’d be much more likely to go to lunch with the friend who will buy you a nice sandwich than with the one who is going to leave you with the bill.Or, simply put, why would a small market team with an ancient stadium stay in a place like Minneapolis or Buffalo when sunny, beautiful California is awaiting?This is the main reason I am not willing to buy into these rumors that L.A. will have three teams playing here in fewer than two years.All these teams — the Rams, Raiders and Chargers -— play in some of the oldest stadiums in the NFL and have long been trying to get public financing for new stadiums.Adding to the controversy is the fact that the NFL has not backed either plan. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke Wednesday at the annual NFL meeting, and his words were not comforting to L.A. fans.“First, let me just say we’re focused on doing this right,” Goodell said. “If we go back to the Los Angeles market, we want to succeed for the long term, and we have a lot to do to get to that place. So we’re not focused on ‘16.”The fact that the NFL is not in the nation’s second largest market is inconceivable. L.A. teams such as the Lakers and Trojans are international brands that stretch all across the globe. With the NFL’s recent obsession with becoming a global game, one would figure L.A. would be the first step.The fact that the NFL has yet to back any of these plans has me feeling iffy on the whole subject.Furthermore, any team that does relocate to L.A. would have to play in a temporary stadium, such as the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum.The Rose Bowl is the most viable and realistic option, but if two teams were to move here like many expect, that would mean the stadium would host three teams.The venue is already limited to a certain number of days it can host events, meaning one team would have to play in the not-fully-suitable Coliseum.The NFL might very well return to Los Angeles in the near future, and it absolutely should.For now, however, I’m not buying into any rumors until I see a stadium being built, whether it be in Inglewood, Carson or some other city in Los Angeles.Nick Barbarino is a junior majoring in business administration. His column “Beyond the Arc” runs Fridays.