Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc takes third straight pole position at Singapore Grand Prix

Ferrari's Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc stops in the pits during the qualifying session for the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore on September 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc takes third straight pole position at Singapore Grand Prix

  • Leclerc has won the previous two races.
  • Hamilton holds a 63-point championship lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas

SINGAPORE: Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc claimed a third straight Formula One pole position on Saturday after outpacing championship leader Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix.
Leclerc clocked a lap of 1 minute, 36.217 seconds at the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) Marina Bay street circuit, beating Hamilton by 0.191 seconds. Leclerc’s teammate Sebastian Vettel was third.
“If you look at the lap, it was a good lap, but there were some moments that I lost control,” Leclerc said. “We brought some new bits that worked properly, which was good to see. I had a very tough Friday and didn’t feel comfortable in the car, but we worked hard and it paid off.”
Leclerc has won the previous two races. After his first-ever F1 victory in Spa at the Belgian GP, the 21-year-old Leclerc became the first Ferrari driver to win the Italian GP since Fernando Alonso in 2010.
Hamilton holds a 63-point lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas with seven races remaining.
“I don’t know where Ferrari picked up their pace, it’s not usually one of their circuits,” Hamilton said. “But they did a great job, Charles did some great laps. Hopefully we can be in the mix with them tomorrow. I think we can be aggressive.”
While Hamilton already has eight wins this season, his last came at the Hungarian GP in early August.
Pole position in Singapore is crucial as its one of the hardest tracks for overtaking in F1. The driver leading the field has won eight times in the past 11 years.
Hamilton has won in Singapore the past two years. Another victory in Sunday’s night race would move the Briton a step closer to his third straight championship and sixth overall, one shy of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles.
Vettel, whose contract ends in 2020, is on a 13-month winless streak. His last victory was at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix.
Vettel and Hamilton are the only two drivers on the grid with victories at Singapore — with four wins each.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth, almost four-tenths behind Vettel. Bottas was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
Carlos Sainz Jr. took seventh place for McLaren in front of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo.
Nico Hulkenberg was ninth in the second Renault with McLaren’s Lando Norris rounding out the top 10.


Thiem into ATP Finals semis as Djokovic and Federer face shootout

Updated 13 November 2019

Thiem into ATP Finals semis as Djokovic and Federer face shootout

  • Austrian fifth seed took fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph

LONDON: Dominic Thiem produced a scintillating display of attacking tennis to beat Novak Djokovic and qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals on Tuesday, leaving the Serbian facing a shootout against Roger Federer.

In the standout match so far at London’s O2 Arena, the Austrian fifth seed took the fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)

Earlier, Federer put himself back in the mix at the end-of-season event with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win against Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini in their round-robin clash.

Federer and Djokovic will face off on Thursday in a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final to determine who else will progress from Group Bjorn Borg.

Thiem was forced to play high-stakes tennis against the 16-time Grand Slam winner, taking the breath away with some of his inside-out forehands and single-handed backhands

Forced to play at his limit, he hit 50 winners compared with Djokovic’s tally of 27 but also racked up 44 unforced errors.

“This was really one of these special matches, what I’ve practiced all my life for, all my childhood for,” Thiem said.

“Really epic one in an amazing atmosphere, beating a legend of our game. And also I’ve qualified for the semifinals, which is the best.

“Coming back from 1-4 (down in the deciding tie-break) was a little bit of luck, but it was an unbelievable match and one I’ll never forget. Novak is the best player in the world and I had to do something special.”

In a captivating first set the players swapped a break apiece but Djokovic, a five-time ATP Finals champion, edged the tie-break.

Undaunted, Thiem broke his opponent at the first opportunity in the second set and, with Djokovic’s error count climbing, went on to level the match.

Thiem also drew first blood in the decider but cracked in the sixth game as Djokovic levelled the match and appeared to have engineered a switch in momentum.

The Austrian successfully challenged at 30-30 in the 10th game after his forehand was ruled out, preventing a match point for Djokovic and he toughed it out to level at 5-5.

He then broke Djokovic to love to earn a chance to serve for the match but stumbled and the decider went to a tie-break.

Still the drama was not finished. Thiem slipped to 4-1 down but battled back to win it on his second match point when Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net.

Third seed Federer had put himself under the cosh by losing his opening round-robin match to Thiem. The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for his Italian opponent.

The Swiss upped his game to take the first set tie-break comfortably and broke immediately at the start of the second set to leave the big-serving Berrettini with too much to do.

Federer was asked after his win against Berrettini whether his defeat to Djokovic at Wimbledon had left emotional or mental scars.

“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side,” said the Swiss.

“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”

Djokovic is hunting a sixth ATP Finals title to pull level with Federer’s record and is also seeking to pip Rafael Nadal to the year-end number one ranking.

On Monday, top seed Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.