Seeds tumble in Miami as Roger Federer remains on course for Novak Djokovic final

Women's world No. 1 Naomi Osaka suffered a shock defeat at the Miami Open, but Roger Federer won through to keep his hopes for a final against Novak Djokovic on track. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019

Seeds tumble in Miami as Roger Federer remains on course for Novak Djokovic final

LONDON: It was a weekend of shocks in both the men’s and women’s tournament at the Miami Open as world No. 1 Naomi Osaka was beaten, Serena Williams was forced to withdraw and Alexander Zverev fell to wildcard David Ferrer.
Elsewhere, Roger Federer kept the prospect of a matchup in the final with Novak Djokovic with a win over Radu Albot.
The Miami Open might have moved to a brand new location for this year, but Miami Gardens is already building a reputation as a seeds’ graveyard.
Williams withdrew on Saturday, blaming a previously undisclosed left knee injury. And less than two hours later, top seed Osaka lost to Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Osaka’s shock exit equaled the record for the earliest ever in Miami by a top-seeded woman and, depending on results in the rest of the tournament, could see her lose her top spot in the world rankings.
“I feel like I’ve dealt with the stress of people asking me do I have pressure because I have the No. 1 next to my name,” Osaka said. “I thought I was doing fine with that, but I guess I’m not.”
She smiled when reminded it was the first time in 64 matches she lost after winning the first set.
“I know, it’s depressing,” she said. “I was thinking about it right after I lost.”
Osaka, 21, has won the past two Grand Slam tournaments.
Meanwhile, Williams’ withdrawal was surprising, having shown no signs of injury a day earlier while winning her opening match against Rebecca Peterson. Williams did not mention any injury problems during a news conference after the match, and the WTA had no information regarding when she was hurt.
Williams’ victory on Friday was her first at the Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Open’s new center court. The tournament moved this year from Key Biscayne, where Williams has previously won eight titles.
“I am disappointed to withdraw,” she said in a statement. “It was an amazing experience to play at Hard Rock Stadium this year, and I would like to thank the Miami Open for putting on an amazing event. I hope to be back next year to play at this one-of-a-kind tournament in front of the incredible fans here in Miami.”
Williams, 37, still hasn’t won a tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, before she took a break of more than a year to become a mother. She has played only eight matches this year.
Williams’ stay at the Miami Open was also brief last year, when she lost in the first round to Osaka. Friday’s match was Williams’ first since she retired from Indian Wells two weeks ago because of a viral illness.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer briefly seemed headed for the exit but instead advanced to the third round by rallying past qualifier Radu Albot 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
“Radu put me through the ringer,” Federer said.
Federer, a three-time champion, lost serve only once — in the first game — but was on the ropes until he swept the final three games, to the relief of an enthusiastic stadium crowd.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Federer said. “It was electric. I think that’s why I played so well at the end.
“I’m happy I got it out of the way. I’m happy I was able to find a way tonight,” the 23-time Grand Slam winner said.
But there was no joy for second seed Alexander Zverev, who double-faulted 12 times on his way to losing against Ferrer, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Ferrer was delighted with taking the scalp of the German.
“It means a lot, it’s a special day because it’s the last year of professional tennis for me. Winning these type of matches against a top 10 player like Sascha is a gift. I’m very happy and I’m trying to enjoy every point and every moment.
“My motivation is playing at a high level and be competitive. It’s my goal. I can’t play at my best level anymore, but I want to have good energy and play my best in every match,” he said.


‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

Updated 23 October 2020

‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

PARIS: Gareth Bale said it felt good to be “loved and appreciated” after helping Tottenham to a 3-0 win over LASK of Austria in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Welsh international started his first match since his return from Real Madrid and played for an hour before Jose Mourinho gave him a break.
Bale had come on as a substitute last Sunday with Tottenham 3-0 up against West Ham before his team collapsed to give up a 3-3 draw.
“It is amazing to be back,” Bale told BT Sport on Thursday.
“It is a big reason why I play well and why I came back. You want to be loved and appreciated. I will give everything for this shirt.”
However, he admitted it will take time to find his feet.
“I am a bit stiff. It is like a mini pre-season for me and I am trying to get minutes into the legs,” he said.
Despite Bale starting, it was on-loan Carlos Vinicius who made an impressive debut in the Group J opener.
Vinicius started in place of the resting Harry Kane and he made goals in either half for Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min, while he would have also netted himself had Andres Andrade not scored an own goal.
Bale made that goal where Andrade put through his own net.
Leicester made the perfect start in Group G with a comfortable 3-0 win over Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine.
James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho were on the scoresheet.
In Glasgow, Celtic struggled against Serie A leaders AC Milan who were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz.
Mohamed Elyounoussi reduced the arrears after the break, but Jens Petter Hauge broke clear to secure Milan’s Group H 3-1 win in stoppage time.
Milan were so comfortable that they could afford to take off Zlatan Ibrahimovic just after the hour.
Earlier Thursday, Arsenal came from behind to down Rapid Vienna 2-1 and Rangers beat Standard Liege 2-0.
After a goalless first half Arsenal went behind when keeper Bernd Leno fluffed a clearance on a night he will want to forget.
Taxiarchis Fountas capitalized on Leno’s clanger, much to the joy of the 3,000 home fans allowed in to watch under coronavirus safety protocol, but the Gunners then turned the game around in four second half minutes.
David Luiz put them level with a deft glancing header off Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then tapping home to bag the three Group B points.
It was an eventful night for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Alongside eight yellow cards, there was an eye-catching display from Thomas Partey on his first start since his transfer deadline day move from Atletico Madrid.
A frustrated follower of the game from his London sofa was Mesut Ozil, who has been left out of both Arsenal’s Europa League and Premier League squad.
“When I can’t support on the pitch tonight, I will support in front of the TV in London.” tweeted Ozil.
The other Group B game was being played out in Dublin where Dundalk, only Ireland’s third ever representative in the group stage, were beaten 2-1 by Norwegians Molde.
In Belgium, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers took on Standard Liege fresh from their Old Firm derby win over Celtic which moved them four points clear in the Scottish Premiership last weekend.
James Tavernier scored from the spot after Noe Dussenne handled in the area to put them into a 19th minute lead.
Then three minutes into stoppage time Kemar Roofe produced a wonder goal from the halfway line, the ball flying over the head of bewildered keeper Arnaud Bodart.
Benfica had claimed the first goal of the night and they went on to beat Lech Poznan in Poland 4-2 in the other Group D game.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen ran riot 6-2 against French side Nice and Spanish side Granada, in their first ever European campaign, beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1.