Nadal rampant at US Open as Thiem, Tsitsipas lead exodus

Rafael Nadal of Spain and John Millman of Australia after their Men’s Singles first round match on day two of the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (AFP)
Updated 28 August 2019

Nadal rampant at US Open as Thiem, Tsitsipas lead exodus

  • Four players in the world’s top 10 — Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov and Roberto Bautista Agut — lost Tuesday to ease Nadal’s potential path to the final
  • The Spanish second seed — US Open champion in 2010, 2013 and 2017 — needed barely two hours to see Millman off 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium

NEW YORK: Rafael Nadal launched his tilt at a fourth US Open title Tuesday with a swift defeat of John Millman as other leading seeds in his half of the draw tumbled out in the first round.
Four players in the world’s top 10 — Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov and Roberto Bautista Agut — lost Tuesday to ease Nadal’s potential path to the final.
The Spanish second seed — US Open champion in 2010, 2013 and 2017 — needed barely two hours to see Millman off 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium with the world number 60 from Australia unable to reproduce the magic that saw him stun Roger Federer here a year ago.
“The beginning, the first match, is always a little bit new even if I’ve played here plenty of times,” said Nadal, who meets Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis next. “I think I played well and in general am very happy with the way I started.
“He (Millman) showed last year what he’s able to do when he’s doing well and I came on court with a lot of respect.”
Two-time French Open runner-up Thiem was upset by Italian giant-killer Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, the Austrian fourth seed slumping to another first-round exit, having lost at the same stage at Wimbledon.
“I got very tired and exhausted after two sets. I’m far away from 100 percent,” an ailing Thiem said. “It was not the real me there on the court.”
Greek eighth seed Tsitsipas struggled with cramps and accused umpires of having “preferences” after he fell to a 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 7-5 defeat by Next Gen rival Andrey Rublev in a gruelling four-hour slog.
Tsitsipas, for whom it was also a second successive Grand Slam opening-round defeat, was hit with a point penalty for a time violation in the final set.
“This chair umpire, I don’t know, he has something against me. I don’t know why,” said Tsitsipas, who snapped “you’re all weirdos” at French official Damien Dumusois during his match.
“I wish that all the chair umpires were like Mohamed Lahyani because I believe he’s the best out in the game, and we need more like him in tennis because he’s fair to everyone. I feel like some of them have preferences when they are on the court.”
Russian ninth seed Khachanov lost to Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in five sets, with 10th seed Bautista Agut of Spain succumbing in similar fashion to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan to leave that quarter of the draw wide open for Nick Kyrgios.
The volatile Australian eased past American Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 in a match that finished at 1:12 a.m. local time.
Alexander Zverev, seeded sixth, outlasted Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, while Marin Cilic, the 2014 champion, advanced in straight sets over Slovakia’s Martin Klizan.
Reigning women’s US Open champion Naomi Osaka confronted severe nerves as she overcame Russia’s Anna Blinkova, the world number 84.
Osaka suffered a first-round exit last month at Wimbledon and the Japanese star struggled to put away Blinkova before prevailing 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2.
“I have a lot of really good memories here because I grew up in this area. I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous in my life,” said Osaka, sporting a black brace on her left knee.
“You want to do well after you did well last year. I definitely didn’t want to lose in the third set.”
The top seed goes on to face Poland’s Magda Linette.
Osaka must retain her US Open crown to have a chance of remaining world number one and was tested extensively by 2015 Wimbledon junior finalist Blinkova, who raced 4-1 ahead in the first set and saved a match point in the second to force a decider.
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, ousted in the opening round the past two years at Flushing Meadows, beat US lucky loser Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
“I feel much better that I could win a match finally in this tournament,” Halep said. “I feel like my game, it’s there.”
Sloane Stephens, the 2017 champion, slid to a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya, while 15-year-old Wimbledon sensation Coco Gauff edged past Anastasia Potapova, 18, in three sets on her US Open debut.


‘Liverpool spirits are high’ despite virus lockdown

Jurgen Klopp
Updated 28 March 2020

‘Liverpool spirits are high’ despite virus lockdown

  • Klopp praised the efforts of Liverpool and other clubs in helping support more vulnerable members of the community during the current crisis

Jurgen Klopp says the mood at Liverpool is upbeat despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, even admitting he has tried to copy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s dance moves to keep himself occupied.
The Premier League leaders were on the verge of their first top-flight title for 30 years when English football was suspended earlier this month.
Klopp said his players’ spirits remained high despite the frustrations of having no football to play and praised the efforts of his backroom staff who are looking after the players’ fitness.
“We spoke a couple of times, we have a really intense, big, big group chat — the whole of Melwood (training ground) are in that,” he said, speaking to the club’s website by videolink from his home.
“The boys are really lively in that, the boys are just interested in what everybody is doing, comments on what everybody is doing — if Ox is on Instagram or whatever.”
Midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain and his girlfriend, Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards, performed a dance routine, which she posted on social media.
Teammate James Milner played up to his “boring James Milner” tag by posting a video of himself cutting his grass with a ruler and scissors.
“I didn’t cut the grass but I tried the dance of Ox,” said Klopp. “Not as bad as you probably think. It’s very important in these times that we all show we take this situation seriously, but we are human beings.”

HIGHLIGHT

Jurgen Klopp praises the efforts of Liverpool and other clubs in helping support more vulnerable members of the community during the current crisis. He urges people to abide by the lockdown.

“If the boys do anything on Instagram, as long as it’s in a legal frame I’m overly happy about it — it just shows they are still cheeky and all that stuff,” he added.
Klopp praised the efforts of Liverpool and other clubs in helping support more vulnerable members of the community during the current crisis.
And he urged people to abide by the lockdown.
“The only way to get football back as soon as possible, if that’s what the people want, the more disciplined we are now the earlier we will get, piece by piece by piece, our life back,” Klopp said. “That’s how it is.”
“At one point we will play football again as well, 100 percent,” he added. “I couldn’t wish more for it because of a few really good reasons, how you can imagine. I can’t wait actually, but even I have to be disciplined and I try to be as much as I can.”