Rafael Nadal gets his revenge over Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach Rome final

Rafael Nadal in action during his semi final match against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas. (Reuters)
Updated 18 May 2019

Rafael Nadal gets his revenge over Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach Rome final

  • Aiming for a ninth trophy in Rome, Nadal’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman
  • Nadal is in the middle of his longest title drought to begin a season since he came onto the scene in 2004

ROME: After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Rafael Nadal looked more like his old, dominant self when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Italian Open final on Saturday.
It was a measure of revenge for Nadal after losing to Tsitsipas in three sets at this stage in Madrid last week. This victory should also restore Nadal’s confidence as he seeks a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.
“The main thing is I am playing better. If I play better, I know I’m going to have chances to be in finals and to win semifinal matches,” Nadal said. “If you are not playing well, (beating) the best players of the world is much more difficult. ... I have margin to keep improving. But I am doing the right steps to be there.”
Aiming for a ninth trophy in Rome, Nadal’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman, who were playing later.
Nadal is in the middle of his longest title drought to begin a season since he came onto the scene in 2004. His last trophy came last August in Toronto.
The crowd attempted to encourage Tsitsipas with chants of “Tsi-Tsi-Tsi, Pas-Pas-Pas” but the 20-year-old Greek player couldn’t keep up with Nadal on the long rallies — even though he didn’t play a day earlier after Roger Federer withdrew injured from their quarterfinal.
Conditions were much slower than on the high-altitude court in Madrid, which favored Nadal and made it tougher for Tsitsipas to execute his attacking game.
“The shots that I played today, I played similar shots last week,” Tsitsipas said. “Today those shots felt really slow and he had plenty of time to pass me when I was approaching to the net. .. The court speed was the difference.”
Midway through the first set, Nadal produced a blistering forehand winner up the line on the run, drawing a loud roar from the packed Campo Centrale crowd.
Nadal broke Tsitsipas’ serve early in both sets.
In the women’s tournament, Johanna Konta rallied past sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in nearly three hours to reach the biggest clay-court final of her career.
Konta’s only previous final on clay came recently in Rabat, Morocco, where she lost to Maria Sakkari.
Konta could get a rematch with Sakkari if the Greek qualifier beats fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the other semifinal.
“I’ve never really doubted my ability on the surface,” Konta said. “I won a lot of my first junior titles, first professional titles on clay. I’ve always felt that I have a game that has the ability to do well on this surface.”
Midway through the first set, Konta surprised Bertens with a drop shot winner during a baseline rally, causing Bertens to fall on her stomach to the clay as she rapidly changed directions. Then in the next game, Konta ran down a drop shot and produced an angled winner.
Bertens was coming off the Madrid Open title.
“She played really smart with the drop shots,” Bertens said. “I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy. But it was not there.”
The 42nd-ranked Konta served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken at love. But Bertens double-faulted to let Konta serve for the second set and Konta got an early break in the third.


England cricket players donate, take pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis

Updated 05 April 2020

England cricket players donate, take pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis

  • The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said the season will not start before May 28
  • ECB’s centrally contracted women players to take a salary reduction for the months of April, May and June

LONDON: England’s centrally contracted male cricketers will donate £500,000 ($613,000) to the Board and charities while their women’s team counterparts have volunteered a three-month pay cut amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the players’ association (PCA) said.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has said the season will not start before May 28 and speculation has been mounting over how their leading players would respond to the situation.

“Following a meeting today of all of the England men’s centrally contracted cricketers, the players have agreed to make an initial donation of £0.5 million to the ECB and to selected good causes ...” the Professional Cricketers’ Association said in a statement.

“This contribution is the equivalent of all of the England centrally contracted players taking a 20 percent reduction in their monthly retainers for the next three months.

“The players will continue to discuss with the ECB the challenging situation faced by the game and society as a whole and will consider how best to support the ECB and both the cricketing and wider community going forward.”

The ECB’s centrally contracted women players have volunteered to take a salary reduction for the months of April, May and June in line with their coaches and support staff.

England women’s captain Heather Knight said: “All the players felt like it was the right response in the current climate to take a pay cut in line with what our support staff are taking.

“We know how the current situation is affecting the game and we want to help as much as we can.

“We will be discussing with the ECB further ways we can help the game in the coming weeks,” added Knight, who has signed up with the National Health Service (NHS) as a volunteer.

The ECB has announced a 61 million pounds aid package to help the local game withstand the financial impact of the pandemic.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is currently auctioning the shirt he wore in England’s 2019 World Cup final victory to raise funds for efforts to fight the coronavirus.