Nadal, Thiem advance at rain-hit ATP Montreal Masters

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point against Daniel Evans of Britain during their match in Montreal Masters on August 7, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 08 August 2019

Nadal, Thiem advance at rain-hit ATP Montreal Masters

  • Nadal is seeking his third title of the season and now stands 38-6 in 2019

MONTREAL: Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem advanced into the third round of the ATP Montreal Masters on Wednesday, with Thiem achieving a personal best in Canada.

Top-seeded holder Nadal suffered through a two-hour rain interruption before dismissing Britain’s Daniel Evans 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.

Austrian second seed Thiem, who claimed a clay title at the weekend at home in Kitzbuehel before crossing the Atlantic, won his first match in Canada after five losses, defeating home hero Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

With weather forecasts dicey for the next few days, the Spanish top seed got a taste of the conditions he might face as the 18-time Grand Slam champion defends his Canadian title.

“Today, the main thing was win. I’ve been playing and practicing more or less well. Now is the moment to compete,” Nadal said. “Today I competed enough well to be through. Tomorrow is another challenge.”

That test will be against Argentina’s Guido Pella, who beat Radu Albot 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/2).

Nadal is seeking his third title of the season and now stands 38-6 in 2019. He was playing for the first time since losing a Wimbledon semifinal to Roger Federer a month ago.

Thiem was relieved to have broken his duck in Canada by finally winning a match.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s not only the first match win here, but also against a great player,” he said.

“The court is pretty fast. It was a huge transition from clay to here.

“I’m very happy with the way I served. I’m also happy that I could swing free some flat serves again.”

Thiem on Thursday faces 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, who defeated Australian John Millman 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal said that re-starting on cement after a long post-Wimbledon pause takes some adjustment.

“This is just the first day, first matches are always tough the first time on hardcourt,” he said.

“After Wimbledon always the mind goes down a little bit. I had a long clay court season, then grass, so you don’t relax.

“When you finish Wimbledon, your body loses a little bit that tension, so it needs little bit of time to recover.”

Nadal advanced after two hours of play but because of rain it took almost four and a half hours after the first ball was struck.

Injury-prone Milos Raonic retired to hand 18-year-old fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime a 6-3, 3-6 win.

Raonic, a 2013 finalist here, was unable to go on after winning the second set to square the contest.

Auger-Aliassime got a walkover win against his compatriot last June on grass in Stuttgart when Raonic suffered a back injury.

The senior Canadian beat the youngster in spring, 2018 in Indian Wells in their only completed match.

Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year’s Canada runner-up, was dumped out 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 by Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, whom the world number five had defeated in three prior matches. Japan’s fifth seed Kei Nishikori was unable to profit from a match point, losing in 3 hours nine minutes to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Spain’s 10th seed Robert Bautista Agut advanced while number 12 John Isner was sent out in straight sets.


Russia banned from Olympics, World Cup over doping

Updated 09 December 2019

Russia banned from Olympics, World Cup over doping

  • WADA's executive committee handed Russia the four-year suspension
  • Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year

LAUSANNE: The World Anti-Doping Agency on Monday banned Russia for four years from major global sporting events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, over manipulated doping data.
WADA's executive committee, meeting in Lausanne, handed Russia the four-year suspension after accusing Moscow of falsifying laboratory doping data handed over to investigators earlier this year.
Not only will Russia be ruled out of the next Olympic cycle, but Russian government officials will be barred from attending any major events, while the country will lose the right to host, or even bid, for tournaments.
"WADA's executive committee approved unanimously to assert a non-compliance on the Russian anti-doping agency for a period of four years," WADA spokesman James Fitzgerald said.
Under the sanctions, Russian sportsmen and women will still be allowed to compete at the Olympics next year and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics but only if they can demonstrate that they were not part of what WADA believes was a state-sponsored system of doping.
It will be up to FIFA to stipulate how a team of Russian players can take part in the qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup.
Euro 2020, in which the Russian city of Saint Petersburg will host four matches, is not affected by the ban because it is not defined as a "major event" for anti-doping purposes.
"They are going to have prove they had nothing to do with the non-compliance, (that) they were not involved in the doping schemes as described by the McLaren report, or they did not have their samples affected by the manipulation," Fitzgerald said.
The independent report by sports lawyer Richard McLaren, released in 2016, revealed the significant extent of state-sponsored doping in Russia, notably between 2011 and 2015.
It led to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) being suspended for nearly three years previously over revelations of a vast state-supported doping programme.
Full disclosure of data from the Moscow laboratory was a key condition of Russia's controversial reinstatement by WADA in September 2018.
RUSADA chief Yury Ganus told AFP Monday that his country had "no chance" of winning an appeal against the ban, dubbing it tragic for clean athletes.
"There is no chance of winning this case in court," Ganus said, with RUSADA's supervisory board set to meet on December 19 to take a decision on whether to appeal the ban.
"This is a tragedy," he added. "Clean athletes are seeing their rights limited."
The WADA decision was widely predicted, with the body's president, Craig Reedie, having made a presentation Saturday to the Olympic Summit, participants of which "strongly condemned those responsible for the manipulation of the data from the Moscow laboratory".
"It was agreed that this was an attack on sport and that these actions should lead to the toughest sanctions against those responsible," the IOC said, asking that the Russian authorities deliver the "fully authenticated raw data".
Positive doping tests contained in data leaked by a whistleblower in 2017 were missing from the laboratory data supplied in January 2019, which prompted a new inquiry.
Former WADA president Dick Pound, who chaired the commission that in 2015 made damning accusations of mass doping in Russian athletics, said Moscow had this time gone "too far".
"The IOC is a little bit tired about what Russia has been doing and so I see the IOC probably focusing more on athletes who are newer," Pound told AFP.
Pound acknowledged the influential role of Russia -- which in recent years hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as well as the football World Cup in 2018 -- "on many levels" in the sporting world.
"On the field of play, it is a big, important country. With China and the United States, it's among the sporting giants, so that's influential," he said.
"It's (also) influential because Russia hosts and is willing to host many competitions for international federations, especially those who don't have much money of their own, so they have a considerable influence among the international federations.
"And they've been quite strategic about making sure that they get Russians into positions on international federations. So they have an impact from inside as well as from outside."