WASHINGTON — Who is going to win? Who is going to choke? The pressure is intense for Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton — phenomenally different candidates — who clash in their first debate on Monday.
Stakes are as high as they get since there are just six weeks until the November 8 election. Polls show a close race, with Clinton, 68, enjoying an edge.
As many as 90 million Americans, some estimate, will be glued to their television to catch the showdown.
Many analysts say debates usually don’t win a candidate the election but can well lose it for them. A single sentence, or the slightest slip, can do serious damage.
Plenty of American voters will have made a decision by now, to be sure. Most have.
But nine percent by someestimates still don’t know who to vote for, after a long campaign in which bitter attacks have often replaced substance.
And this year has been like none in the past, with Trump, 70, using social media around the clock in combative fashion, while often making mistakes, misstatements and blunders without troubling his base.
Clinton cram session
On Saturday, the New York Times endorsed Clinton, who ahead of the debates has been cloistered with aides and her papers at home in Chappaqua, north of New York, even practicing with relatives playing Trump.
She has been focusing on his psychological profile, with a goal to get Trump to crack, to show that he can’t control himself and lacks the even-handed temperament a president needs.
If he reacts by attacking, Trump also risks losing women’s votes; he already has a harder time with women voters, and they make up 53 percent of those who turn out. And any slip is sure to be a TV news sound bite.
Clinton’s campaign released a long list of lies it attributes to Donald Trump ahead of the debate.
Trump in turn says preparations are “going very well,” trying to at least appear relaxed. Friday he won the endorsement of former conservative rival Senator Ted Cruz.
Trump took Friday to prepare, and still had to work Sunday on the debate. But he continues with campaign rallies on other days, including Saturday night in Roanoke, Virginia.
Trump seems unwilling to train with a Hillary stand-in. But he has watched videos of his opponent in previous debates.
Supporters in Roanoke said they hoped Trump could keep his cool.
“I expect him to be more presidential but still tough,” said Amanda Phillips, 36, and a social worker. She said she was “not 100 percent for the wall (with Mexico), and hopes Trump will be “more humane and not too hardcore.”
Clinton, making her second presidential bid, is an old hand at debates and considered solid. In some ways, she may have more to lose.
After almost 40 years of public service, she is very well versed on the issues, and 88 percent of Americans believe she is smart.
But 65 percent say they do not find her honest. And 52 percent have a negative opinion of a woman they see as cerebral, distant or cold.
Her image has been sullied by Trump attacks over her email scandal, the Clinton Foundation’s alleged pay-to-play donations, and her ties to Wall Street.
“Be yourself and explain what motivates you,” President Barack Obama suggested to his former secretary of state, who as president would carry on the legacy of his two administrations.
Running mate Tim Kaine has said of Clinton: “When the spotlights are at the brightest and the pressure is the most intense, that’s when she brings her A-plus game.”
Trump has not yet experienced a presidential debate: 90 minutes of intense questioning, with only one opponent and a moderator, who on Monday will be NBC news anchor Lester Holt.
Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki overpowered Japan's Naomi Osaka 7-5, 6-3 to capture the Pan Pacific Open on Sunday, her first tournament victory since February 2015.
The Dane, who has battled back from a wretched run of injuries this year, weathered an early storm from her teenage opponent before running out a comfortable winner, claiming a second Tokyo title and the 24th of her career.
"I'm very proud to win the tournament," Wozniacki told reporters.
"Somebody just told me I've won a tournament every year since 2008. That's a nice little streak and hopefully I can keep it going and keep moving forward."
Wozniacki, the Pan Pacific champion six years ago, survived a health scare after dropping serve to go down 4-3 in the first set.
After feeling a twinge in her left thigh, she left the court for treatment and returned with her leg heavily bandaged.
But it appeared to have little adverse effect as Wozniacki took complete control, ripping a fierce backhand down the line to take the set.
Wozniacki, who reached the US Open semi-finals earlier this month to signal her return to form, roared into a 5-0 lead in the second set as Osaka's game unraveled in the Tokyo sunshine.
Playing with the roof open after a week of typhoon rains, Osaka paid for her youthful exuberance, her strategy of attempting to hit the fur off the ball on every shot backfiring badly against a vastly more experienced opponent.
The 18-year-old, who called a medical timeout of her own for a sore right shoulder after losing the first set, produced some spirited resistance to avoid the dreaded "bagel," but it was too little too late.
Wozniacki completed victory with a crisp backhand which forced Osaka into yet another wild shot, giving the 26-year-old her first title since Kuala Lumpur last year.
"I hurt my groin a little bit in the first set, but I tried to stay aggressive and stay calm," said Wozniacki, who had seen her world ranking plunge to 74th after suffering wrist and ankle injuries.
"To be honest I was just trying to fight for every point. It was tough at the end but I was just happy to close it out."
The Dane is set to climb to 22 or 23 in the new rankings when they are released on Monday.
Osaka, born of a Japanese mother and Haitian father, will break into the top 50 after her fairytale run but confessed her inexperience had cost her.
"Everything is a bit new to me," she said. "I was thinking too much about the whole situation. When she took a medical break I should've been more focused on my game.
"I'm sort of taking everything as it comes," added Osaka, who had lost all her previous five finals on the WTA satellite circuit.
"I will try to fix things I did wrong today but honestly I'm happy how I've played this year."
Japan's central Aichi prefecture and its capital city Nagoya were confirmed as co-hosts of the 2026 Asian Games on Sunday, adding another major event to the country's bulging international sports calendar.
The Olympic Council of Asia formally endorsed the bid after Aichi prefecture governor Hideaki Ohumra and Nagoya city mayor Takashi Kawamura presented their joint offering to the OCA general assembly in Danang.
Kawamura promised that the Games would be fun, and even serenaded the assembly with a verse from the Elvis Presley song "Can't help falling in love" to prove the point.
Both men emphasized the strength of Japan's economy and advanced technology as well as the country's successful record of staging major sports events.
As the lone bidder for the Games, Japan's proposal was rubber-stamped by the assembly and the host contract signed by the OCA and the bid delegates.
The OCA had originally planned to choose the 2026 Asian Games host in 2018 but brought the vote forward to provide some certainty to the region's crammed sporting calendar which includes three Olympic events over the next eight years.
"The roadmap of our main event and sports calendar is very stable," OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah told the assembly in the Vietnamese city, which is currently hosting the 5th Asian Beach Games.
"Asia will host a lot of international events for a lot of international federations... so we want to try and make a very stable program for our different events."
South Korea is already hosting the Winter Olympics at Pyeonchang in 2018, while Tokyo hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics before the winter games go to Beijing in 2022.
Held every four years, the 2018 Asian Games are in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang while the 2022 edition will take place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.
Japan will also host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Asian Winter Games in 2017 and the world swimming championships in 2021.
The joint bid for the 2026 Asian Games almost came unstuck following a dispute over the cost of funding the Games that was only resolved this month.
Kawamura originally threatened to withdraw Nagoya's joint bid because of fears costs could spiral before reaching an agreement with the prefectural government of Aichi.
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