Down But Not Out: Sane, Serena and the Underdog Cavs!

There are still plenty of surprises left for sports fans.

Just in time for the deadline of the final World Cup squad submissions, Joachim Low stunned everyone as he left out Manchester City’s rising star Leroy Sane in Germany’s final 23-man squad that will be sent to Russia for the summer event.

In other head-scratching tennis news, former women’s World No.1 and American tennis superstar Serena Williams withdrew from her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova in the French Open after picking up an injury.

Meanwhile, ahead of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James and the Cavs are battling history once again as they try to turn their fortunes around.

Low’s not insane! Germany boss axes Sane from World Cup squad

us Blog News: Leroy Sane left out of Germany squad for FIFA World Cup 2018

Leroy Sane had his best season so far in his career but that didn’t give him ticket to World Cup

It could have been a dream season for Leroy Sane.

After winning the Premier League title and the PFA Young Player of the Year award with Manchester City, the 22-year -old was expected to cap the year with a stint with Germany in the World Cup. However, in a surprising turn of events, Sane was excluded from the squad by boss Joachim Low.

Low admitted that one midfield position was a tight race between Sane and Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt. However, the Germany manager opted to choose the later and cited Brandt’s experience in the Confederations Cup.

“There are certainly better days in the life of a national coach than when you must send four great players home who would have deserved to be at a World Cup,” Low explained.

“You have to look at the big picture so we have a variable and well-balanced team prepared for all eventualities. We have good players on the wing in Thomas Muller and Marco Reus. Julian Draxler played a good Confed Cup and made progress there.”

Low pointed out that Sane is a “huge talent” and assured the youngster that he will be back with the team in September.

According to a report by The Sun, however, the real reason Sane was left out of the German team was because of his attitude. The report claimed that a number of German players didn’t like Sane’s attitude and Low would have “risked upsetting other members of his squad” by including the young midfielder.

Williams pulls out of Sharapova match, cites injury for withdrawal

us Blog puts focus on Serena Williams and her injury in French Open

Serena Williams withdraws from highly -anticipated grudge match with Maria Sharapova due to injury

Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova: the 2018 French Open match-up that never happened.

Williams and Sharapova were scheduled to meet in the fourth round of the French Open women’s singles event, but the former withdrew right before the contest even started.

In an impromptu press conference at Roland Garros, the 23-time Grand Slam champion announced her withdrawal and explained that she has an issue with her pectoral muscle. She pointed out that the injury is new to her and just surfaced during her third-round victory over Julia Goerges.

“It didn’t start before I got here,” Williams said. “It was really painful and I didn’t know what it was. I’m going to get an MRI tomorrow, I’ll stay here and see some doctors here, but I won’t know about [Wimbledon] before that.”

Addressing her cancelled match with fellow former World No.1 and Grand Slam winner Sharapova, Williams said that “it’s very difficult” for her to miss the contest.

On the other hand, Sharapova—who will now face Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals—also expressed her disappointment at the turn of events.

“I was looking forward to my match against Serena today and am disappointed that she had to withdraw,” Sharapova said. “I wish her a speedy recovery and hope she returns to the tour soon.”

LeBron, Cavs hoping to replicate 2016 NBA Finals success

us Blog: Lebron James and co have their backs against the wall again but it is a familiar place for them

Lebron James and Cleveland have done it before but can they beat a better Warriors this time?

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are down 0-2 in the NBA Finals. And if this looks familiar, it’s because the Cavs have been in such situation before.

As mentioned in our Warriors vs Cavaliers preview at us Blog, Cleveland were also down 0-2 against Golden State in 2016.

That year, the Cavaliers overturned the deficit and went on to win their first NBA title. They became just the fourth team to do so, joining the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Boston did it in 1969, beating the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games for the title. The Blazers, meanwhile, won four straight in the 1977 NBA Finals to upset the Philadelphia 76ers in six games.

In 2006, the Dwyane Wade-led Heat also needed just six out of seven contests to beat the Dallas Mavericks for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The Cavs are in a dangerous position of losing their third NBA Finals in four years. However, if there’s anyone who can make no sense of the NBA Finals betting odds, it’s LeBron and his Cavaliers.



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French Open: Two Stars with a Point to Prove

Garbine Muguruza vs Maria Sharapova

Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova are now set for what could be an epic quarter-final showdown between two former French Open titlists that have a statement to make.

Both WTA players made it to the last eight without breaking a sweat, thanks to injuries that forced their fourth-round opponents to withdraw. However, while that will give them an extra motivation to prove they deserve to be here, it’s not like they need it considering what’s at stake for them.

Sharapova is through to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2016 and will be hoping to re-establish her name since the doping controversy that almost ruined her professional career.

Meanwhile, Muguruza is aiming to restore her former glory at Roland Garros and is undoubtedly brimming with confidence as she continues to take command of the French Open betting odds with her brilliant display in the tournament.

Talking Points

Well, how odd is it for two players to reach the quarter-finals having won just a combined two games in the fourth round?

Weird and funny as it may seem but that’s exactly what happened to Muguruza and Sharapova who will both be well-rested when they fight.

Sharapova is probably frustrated after missing the chance to renew her rivalry with Serena Williams, who withdrew even before they play each other. The 23-time Grand Slam champion cited an issue with her pectoral muscle that limits her ability to serve.

Nonetheless, Sharapova can consider that a lucky break as she’ll be facing Muguruza who was also handed an easy way to the quarters. After just two games—which Muguruza dominated—Lesia Tsurenko retired due to a leg injury.

Many a sportsbook will have to wait to see another storied match-up between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams announces her withdrawal from her round-of-16 clash against Maria Sharapova

Both Sharapova and Muguruza now move to the last eight with a pair of fresh legs, each having played 16 games or less in their last two matches. So much for rest advantage, huh?

Sharapova will look back at her performance against Karolina Pliskova to get some added confidence. She bullied the World No.6 Pliskova in straight sets, giving the Czech no chance at all.

Muguruza acknowledged the threat that Sharapova brings, especially when the Russian’s serve is firing on all cylinders.

“I saw her match against Pliskova the other day, and she played extraordinarily well,” Muguruza said. “She’s played very good matches. I haven’t played against her for a while. She’s in quarter-finals and I’m really looking forward to playing her.”

For the 24-year-old Muguruza, though, she is in great form herself as she is yet to drop a set in the tournament. In fact, she has never been threatened in a game besides her meeting with Svetlana Kuznetsova in the opener where she needed a tie-breaker to win the first set.


Sharapova and Muguruza have three French Open titles between them, so it’s quite surprising that the last time they met was in 2014.

The 31-year-old Sharapova has won all three meetings with the Spaniard, including a three-setter in the quarter-finals of the French Open in 2014. The Russian star eventually won her second Roland-Garros title that year.

It should be noted, however, that it was in the same 2014 tournament that Muguruza rose to the spotlight after she handed Serena Williams a second-round defeat. Muguruza went on to win two major titles after that, the French Open in 2016 and the Wimbledon title in 2017.

Muguruza said “a lot of things have changed” since then, so it might be a foolish act to read too much into their head-to-head record.

us odds favours Garbine Muguruza to advance to the Semi-finals of the French Open

Garbine Muguruza celebrating her win as she lifts the 2016 French Open title

What are the odds?

us odds have the higher-ranked Muguruza as the clear favourite, with the Spaniard at Money Line odds of 1.79 and Sharapova at 2.05.

Nevertheless, us Asian Handicap sports betting expect the match-up to go the distance, as proven by Muguruza’s -1.50 handicap that pays at 2.92—these odds despite the fact that the World No.3 has not lost a set all tournament long.

Sharapova, meanwhile, is at +1.50 that gives low odds of 1.36.

Another indication that the contest will be a tight affair is the game handicap odds that put Muguruza at -1.00 @ 1.89 while Sharapova is at +1.00 @ 1.95.

Other notable match-ups

French Open Women’s Singles QF

  • Sloane Stephens vs Daria Kasatkina: Fresh from stunning World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki, 21-year-old Daria Kasatkina will look to build on the momentum she got to beat reigning US Open champions Sloane Stephens.


  • Simona Halep vs Angelique Kerber: After crushing Elise Mertens, top-seeded Halep is now the favourite to win the tournament and her first Grand Slam title. Kerber knows how to win the majors but won’t fancy her chances at Roland Garros where she is yet to go beyond the quarter-finals.



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Stories of Greatness | Vertonghen, LeBron and the Serena-MaSha rivalry

Fans around the world have witnessed sporting greatness once again after Jan Vertonghen and LeBron James made history, the former reaching 100 caps for Belgium and the latter scoring a record 51 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Oh, and the fun isn’t over yet as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova set up a reunion at Roland Garros where they will hope to add another chapter to their compelling rivalry.

Jan Vertonghen reaches century mark for Belgium

Jan Vertonghen headlines us Blog after reaching 100 appearances for Belgium

Jan Vertonghen reaches his 100th appearance for Belgium after starting for the team against Portugal in an international friendly

Jan Vertonghen is the first Belgium international to make 100 appearances for the country after starting for the Red Devils in their goalless friendly draw with Portugal.

As mentioned in the Belgium vs Portugal highlights here at us Blog, Vertonghen is already the nation’s most-capped player after breaking Jan Ceulemans’ record (96) last year. Now, he is also the only player to reach triple digits for Belgium.

Vertonghen achieved the century mark exactly 11 years after he made his debut with the national team. More amazingly, he did it against Portugal as well.

In 2007, during the European Championships qualification, Vertonghen made his debut as a starter for the Belgians that also featured Thomas Vermaelen and Marouane Fellaini. They beat the Portuguese side in the match, 2-1.

With Belgium scheduled to play two more friendlies before the World Cup group stage, Vertonghen will have plenty of chances to add more to his tally. Belgium will battle  Egypt and Costa Rica in a friendly in the next two weeks, while they will play Panama, Tunisia and England in the World Cup Group F.

Steve Kerr heaps praise on Cavs’ star LeBron James

us Blog News: Steve Kerr is nothing but praises for LeBron James

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admires Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes LeBron James is in a league of his own.

The Warriors were 12-point favourites in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, meaning that the Dubs were expected to blow out the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena. However, LeBron carried his team with 51 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to take the Bay Area team to the wire in regulation.

Cleveland eventually fell to the Warriors in overtime. Nonetheless, Kerr has nothing but admiration to LeBron whom he said is playing at a whole different level.

According to Kerr— who once played with Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls—he’s “not sure” if anyone has ever seen the level that LeBron is playing at. After all, James’ 51-point performance marked the first time a player scored 50 points in the NBA Finals.

Not to mention that the 33-year-old star currently holds plenty of playoff records, leading the league when it comes to postseason points, steals, free throws and field goals made. He’s also third in playoff assists, sixth in rebounds and second in three-pointers made.

And with LeBron looking stronger and hungrier for victory than ever, Kerr admitted they need to step up and guard James better.

“I think we have to continue to explore different ways to defend him, putting different bodies on him,” Kerr said. “I didn’t think we were very good against him (in Game 1). I thought he was spectacular, but I didn’t think we made it that difficult for him.”

“And that’s always the challenge when you play a great player. There is this balance between accepting that he’s going to get his numbers, but making it difficult. I never felt like we got him out of any sort of comfort zone. We’ve got to do a better job of that on Sunday.”

Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova set to renew one-sided rivalry

us Blog: Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova set to go head-to-head at Roland Garros

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova head-to-head records

It’s been two years since Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova played against each other, so it’s no wonder why the upcoming battle between the two former number ones is highly anticipated.

The two female stars will meet in the fourth round of the French Open, their first meeting since the 2016 Australian Open quarter-final.

Sharapova secured her ticket to the Round of 16 with a straight-set win over World No.6 Karolina Pliskova. Meanwhile, Williams, who has only seven matches under her belt since returning from giving birth, set up a reunion with the Russian star after beating World No.11 Julia Goerges.

While Sharapova  (30) is ranked higher than the unseeded Williams (451) this time, she admitted that she is still the underdog considering her record against the American hitter.

Sharapova has only won twice out of 21 meetings on tour against Williams, with both of her wins coming back in 2004.

“Any time you play against Serena you know what you’re up against,” Sharapova acknowledged. “You know the challenge that is upon you. You know, despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best player.”

“I think there is a lot of things in her game that she’s done much better than I have. Numbers don’t lie.”



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Italian Open: A Battle of Generations is Always Exciting!

Maria Sharapova vs Jelena Ostapenko

If you’re a fan of women’s tennis, then you should be tingling with excitement with the way the Italian Open has been set up.

There is a good mix of players still standing in Rome, and all of them can provide the type of fantastic tennis that can make you go to your favourite betting sites and punt. With names such as Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki still in the mix, there’s little doubt that there will be plenty of fantastic tennis action to be seen on Italian clay.

However, the game that seems to be the most intriguing is the one between Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko. While the two haven’t officially met on the tour, their match will be a battle of generations. Will the Russian be able to reinstate the dominance of her generation? Or will she cede to the young Ostapenko’s strong clay game?

Talking Points

Maria Sharapova continues to defy her betting odds after reaching the quarterfinal of the Italian Open

Maria Sharapova celebrates her victory as she reached the quarterfinals of the Italian Open

Many neutrals and pundits leave one eye on Sharapova whenever she’s participating in a tournament. Some may say that the blemish of her doping scandal is far behind her, but I don’t feel like she’s returned to her pre-doping reputation until she at least makes a deep run in Paris.

With that being said, it’s important for her to make a statement against Ostapenko, the defending Women’s Singles champion of the French Open. She has always found success in the clay, despite her disappointing exits in Stuttgart and Madrid.

Sharapova’s fans that bet on her at online bookies hope Rome will bring better tidings for their favourite Russian. She gives her supporters some bit of hope by saying that she has a “good inner feeling” for the coming French Open.

 The 31-year-old said: “I like the way I’m competing and the way I feel out there. It’s an inner feeling. I like the attitude that I’m playing with.”

If Sharapova feels like her edge that won her the 2012 and 2014 French Open titles is back, then there’s a lot of reasons for Ostapenko to be cautious.

However, I don’t think the Latvian has any reason to be unnecessarily nervous ahead of this game. After all, everyone highly rates her as one of the future stars of the sport when Sharapova, Serena Williams and the rest of the old guard decide to hang up their rackets for good.

While Ostapenko is 11 years younger than Sharapova, she is definitely playing a more dominant tennis than her Russian counterpart. Her aggressive nature helped her win the French Open, though that same nature also cost her a lot of matches. She can easily assert her dominance on clay and will force Sharapova to go on the offensive for several of her service games.


It will be tough to figure out how these two will fare against one another as they haven’t faced each other at all. However, there is one important clue that we can check out, and the evidence will bring us back to Madrid.

Irina-Camelia Begu pulled off an incredible upset over Ostapenko during the first round of the Madrid Masters, 6-3 6-3. The Romanian, currently ranked the 41st best female player in the world, shut out the 20-year-old’s service game with some great returns and breaks. She also made sure that Ostapenko won’t be able to get to her serves, converting 67% of her 36 first serves.

Sharapova made quick work of Begu despite enduring a fierce resistance from the 27-year-old. Begu’s performance against Ostapenko gives Sharapova and her fans that go to sports betting sites a peek into what can most likely rattle the Latvian during the match.

However, it’s important to remember that Ostapenko has probably made her adjustments in Rome. She took down Shuai Zhang in straight sets and managed to come back from a 2-6 deficit to beat Johanna Konta in the third round.

What are the odds?

Online bookies give Sharapova the advantage, but I don’t think she’ll be able to fully leverage on her current form to will her past the aggressive Ostapenko.

Sure, her matured game will poke at Ostapenko’s weaknesses, but I think her current run in the tournament will leave her no choice but to concede a set.

Still, Sharapova -1.50 @ 2.78 is available if you believe the Russian will be able to use her experience and trickiness against the World No 6. Meanwhile, Ostapenko’s 2.05 Money Line odds sound more attractive. Sure, winning against Sharapova is a tough proposition for everyone, but I feel like Ostapenko has the tools and knowledge to bend the clay-court expert to do her will.

Other notable match-ups

Angelique Kerber return to the top ladder of WTA following her impressive tennis betting odds

Angelique Kerber during the Miami Open tournament

Angelique Kerber vs Elina Svitolina: Angelique Kerber’s climb back to the top of the WTA ladder gets a lot more difficult as the German faces Elina Svitolina. The Ukranian knows how to beat Kerber and is on a fine run of form. No one is sure if Kerber will be able to overcome this quagmire.

Anett Kontaveit vs Caroline Wozniacki: These two ladies have only met on grass courts, but they will surely provide one exciting show. Anett Kontaveit will be a tough cookie for Caroline Wozniacki: took down Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Coco Vandeweghe in straight sets.

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A Smashing Start: Sports Betting Fun in the Australian Open

The new tennis season is upon us, and that only means nothing but fantastic fun and great betting odds!

The draws have been announced, and you may have found the perfect player to cheer and bet online for, but there’s never a bad time to talk about the coming tournament and the possible upsets that may occur.

Men’s Singles

Age-old rivals start the year on top as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the top two seeds of the tournament. Bookies also give their full support for the two tennis stars: outright odds for Federer are 2.25 while Nadal gets a decent 3.50.

Novak Djokovic is still far from his dominant self as he makes his return to the professional circuit. While I still have my doubts over his condition, bookies slap a generous 4.50 on him. Grigor Dimitrov should be in top form after winning the ATP Finals in London, thus his 8.00 rating.

Alexander Zverev (8.50) and local favourite Nick Kyrgios (13.00) are expected to make deep runs in the tournament. Stanislas Wawrinka (15.00) should be able to shake off his poor form and bounce back. Milos Raonic (29.00), Dominic Thiem (26.00), Marin Cilic (29.00) and Jack Sock (67.00) could also make strong runs in the competition.

Fans can expect to see lightning-fast action from these men as they try to start the season on the right note.

Women’s Singles

Defending champion Serena Williams won’t be playing in Melbourne, so the women’s title is open for the rest of the field.

Simona Halep is the top seed in the bracket, but the bookies favour someone else. Elina Svitolina gets 4.50 outright due to her stunning form going into the tournament. She won the Brisbane International last week and outplayed Halep (5.00) in the WTA Final.

Angelique Kerber may be struggling to find her form, but her powerful playing style is still looked at by many to thrive in open court situations. Her 5.00 outright odds is a testament to her skill.

Gabriñe Muguruza (5.00) and her explosive shots are expected to make opponents suffer, and WTA Finals winner Caroline Wozniacki (9.00) is expected to carry over the momentum she got last year.

Maria Sharapova would like to erase the memories of her doping scandal post-Melbourne 2016 with a title. Fans can expect the Russian to scrap it out with the tough draw she finds herself in.

While these ladies will give Australians a show, it’s important to not forget the underdogs. Johanna Konta (15.00), Sloane Stephens (23.00), Jelena Ostapenko  (21.00) and Coco Vandeweghe (21.00) will try to usurp the hegemony by making their presence known. Venus Williams (23.00) will also try to keep the trophy within the family for another year.

It will be a big rumble for the women’s title, and I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

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Last but not Least: Gear Up For an Exciting Battle in Beijing!

China Open Women’s Singles

The last of the four Premier Mandatory events is set to kickoff this weekend, and it promises to be just as exciting, with the online betting favourites determined to get their games going in preparation for next month’s live betting showdown in Singapore.

Not to mention that there are also stars aiming to solidify their places in the WTA Finals, and the China Open is their biggest chance to turn around the betting odds in their favour.

World No. 1 Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, and Elina Svitolina will be playing their final tournament of the regular season in Beijing, and they will all hope for a strong showing to boost their confidence ahead of the annual end-of-the-season tour championship.

Muguruza will be particularly motivated to show her fitness after recently picking up a left leg injury, while Halep will be keen to bounce back from her latest struggles.

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Wozniacki are also on the hunt for an appearance in the Lion City three weeks from now, and they are poised to cement their places in Beijing, especially after their solid displays in their respective Asian tours.

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta is in a tricky position at no. 8 in the Race to Singapore leaderboard, and the likes of Kristina Mladenovic, CoCo Vandeweghe and Sloane Stephens all have the chance to overtake the British No. 1 when they step on the hard court of the China Open.

Wildcards Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will also feature in the Asian competition, and they will look to prove that they are in the tournament not only due to their drawing power but also because of what they can do on the tennis court.

On the other hand, Chinese players Peng Shuai, Zhang Shuai, and Wang Qiang, as well as wildcard entrants Zhu Lin, Wang Yafan and Duan Ying-Ying will seek to use their home court advantage to make a deep run and pull off some upsets against the other highly-touted participants.

Just like the other three mandatories this year that saw three different champions, the China Open is shaping up to be another unpredictable contest. However, that should only add up to the drama of what is already anticipated to be an eventful affair at the National Tennis Center.

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