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Hasselborg halts Jones to remain unbeaten heading into Masters playoffs

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Team Anna Hasselborg are all tuned up for the Masters quarterfinals.

Although the defending champions from Sweden had already clinched a playoff spot, they maintained their white-hot momentum with a 6-3 victory Friday night over Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones to finish pool play undefeated at 4-0.

Team Hasselborg third Sara McManus said it was nice to guarantee hammer advantage into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and they pulled off a great game.

“That was the goal that we had for this tournament,” McManus said. “I’m super proud of this team and we had a lot of fun. This is always what you want — to go 4-0 — and it brings you a lot of confidence going into the playoffs.”

It was a rematch but not a repeat of the 2018 world women’s championship that also took place at Memorial Gardens.

Hasselborg opened with the hammer and just when it looked like Jones had shut the door in the second stanza, the reigning Olympic champion managed to pull off a tricky raise tap and roll for two points.

“That was like almost the game, I would say,” McManus said. “They always play really well and just getting two points that’s great against them. Then we just kept grinding and played really well and came out with the win.”

The teams traded singles in three and four and Hasselborg made it 4-1 in the fifth after Jones came up short on the draw to give up a steal.

Jones, who won Olympic gold in 2014, trimmed the lead down by drawing for a deuce in the sixth, however, Hasselborg matched with a pair of points in the seventh to re-establish the three-point gap.

Team Hasselborg now take on No. 7 Team Kerri Einarson (2-2), from Gimli, Man., in the quarterfinals. It’s another notable rematch from recent history as Einarson edged Hasselborg to capture the prestigious Players’ Championship in Toronto last season.

Team Jones had also entered the match with an unblemished record and head to the quarterfinals as the No. 4 seed at 3-1. The nine-time Grand Slam champion Jones will play Japan’s Team Sayaka Yoshimura (3-1).

Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., ousted Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan 5-4 in an extra end. Fleury finished as the No. 3 seed with a 3-1 record to avoid the tiebreakers and will meet Switzerland’s Team Elena Stern (2-2).

“We’ve had a good week so far, so we really wanted to finish it off tonight,” Team Fleury third Selena Njegovan said. “Tracy made a good one on her last to get us into playoffs.”

Fleury is from the nearby city of Sudbury and had some friends, family, and fans in attendance cheering her team on.

“We’ve been looking forward to this Slam since it was announced,” Njegovan said. “We got to go visit her hometown, which was a lot of fun and to see everyone here, super excited about the event, it’s been a really good week.”

Homan, winner of a record 10 Grand Slam women’s titles including three at the Masters, heads home eliminated at 1-3.

Team Satsuki Fujisawa of Japan remained in contention with a 7-3 win over Team Eve Muirhead of Scotland. Muirhead, who has won four Grand Slam titles, went winless through group play at 0-4.

Fujisawa faces Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., (both 2-2) in the morning tiebreaker with Team Silvana Tirinzoni awaiting the winner in the quarterfinals. The reigning world champions from Switzerland finished 4-0 and ended with a better draw-to-the-button tally than Hasselborg to take the No. 1 seed.

There are two men’s tiebreakers with Toronto’s Team John Epping playing Team Peter de Cruz of Switzerland and Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe clashing with Team Ross Paterson of Scotland.

Team Bruce Mouat of Scotland holds the No. 1 seed at 4-0 with Team Glenn Howard from Penetanguishene, Ont., in the No. 2 spot at 3-1 as both play the waiting game for their opponents.

Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher (3-1) will battle Team Brad Gushue (2-2) of St. John’s, N.L., and Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., meets Regina’s Team Matt Dunstone (both 3-1).

The tiebreakers begin at 8 a.m. ET followed by the men’s quarterfinals at Noon ET and the women’s quarterfinals at 4 p.m. ET.

Both semifinals are scheduled for 8 p.m. ET with the finals set for Sunday.

Broadcast coverage picks up again at Noon ET for the men’s quarterfinals on CBC, Sportsnet and streaming online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

NOTES: The Masters is the first of six Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events on the season and one of four majors in the series. … The total prize purse is $300,000 and is split evenly between the men’s and women’s divisions. Winners receive $35,000 plus berths towards the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup taking place April 29 to May 3, 2020, in Olds, Alta. … Also up for grabs at the Masters are Pinty’s Cup bonus points. The leaders following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April will capture the Pinty’s Cup with additional prize money awarded.