Star-studded draw held for first-ever Diriyah Tennis Cup

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The competition gets underway on Thursday. (Photo Supplied)
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The competition gets underway on Thursday. (Photo Supplied)
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The competition gets underway on Thursday. (Photo Supplied)
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The competition gets underway on Thursday. (Photo Supplied)
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Updated 11 December 2019

Star-studded draw held for first-ever Diriyah Tennis Cup

  • 8 world-class players from 7 countries set to make tennis history on Thursday
  • Players vie for $3m prize pot, with winner receiving $1m

RIYADH: The draw for Thursday’s opening day of the Diriyah Tennis Cup, presented by Saudi Aramco, has served up a mouth-watering set of quarterfinals for the Kingdom’s first-ever international tennis event.

World No. 12 Fabio Fognini (Italy) and big-serving John Isner (US) officially open the tournament in an exciting opening quarterfinal clash starting at 4 p.m. at the Diriyah Arena.

This will be followed by three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) taking on flamboyant world No. 10 Gael Monfils (France).

The third quarterfinal will see top seed and world No. 5 Danil Medvedev (Russia) face off against German No. 2 Jan-Lennard Struff.

The opening day’s last quarterfinal will pit 2019 Australian Open semifinalist Lucas Pouille (France) against world No. 11 David Goffin (Belgium).

FASTFACTS

The Diriyah Tennis Cup draw in full:

Quarterfinal 1 (4 p.m.)

Fognini vs. Isner

Quarterfinal 2 (Follows match 1 )

Wawrinka vs. Monfils

Quarterfinal 3 (Not before 8 p.m.)

Medvedev vs. Struff

Quarterfinal 4 (Follows match 3)

Pouille vs. Goffin

The draw, conducted by the players alongside Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority, took place on Wednesday at the stunning Diriyah Arena.

Prince Abdul Aziz hit the ceremonial first serve to officially open the 15,000-seater tennis venue.

The Diriyah Arena took just two months to build, with a footprint of 10,000 sq. meters. It has been transformed in just three days following last weekend’s historic “Clash on the Dunes” heavyweight boxing title fight between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.

Prince Abdul Aziz said: “I am personally so excited to welcome an amazing line-up of some of the very best tennis players on the planet to Saudi Arabia.”

He added: “Tennis joins a spectacular season of world-class sport, entertainment, music and culture at Diriyah. Last weekend was a momentous occasion as we hosted a world heavyweight title fight in this extraordinary and unique arena. And we’re now set to make more history over the coming days.”

He said: “Hosting top-tier international tennis in Saudi Arabia for the very first time is another momentous sporting occasion for Saudi Arabia.”

He added: “The Diriyah Tennis Cup can inspire new players and new fans in Saudi — male, female, old or young. Our goal is to have our people engaged in tennis, inspired by tennis, taking part in tennis and connected as a nation by the sport.”

As well as the eight multi-ATP Tour title-winning superstar names competing, the Diriyah Tennis Cup will also witness rising stars challenge each other in a one-off Saudi special exhibition match.

Riyadh-born Michael Mmoh and Saudi national star Ammar Al-Haqbani, both 21, will compete in front of a home crowd ahead of the final match on Saturday, as a precursor to the tournament’s finale.

All ticket holders for the Diriyah Tennis Cup will be able to attend concerts featuring global superstars Calvin Harris and Major Lazer on Dec. 13, and world-renowned DJs Swedish House Mafia the day after.

Follow Diriyah Season’s news and announcements on the official social media pages on Twitter and Instagram @diriyahseason.

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Big win for Chelsea as VAR calls take center stage again

Updated 22 February 2020

Big win for Chelsea as VAR calls take center stage again

  • Sheffield United miss chance to boost their case for Champions League football next season

LONDON: Chelsea manager Frank Lampard made all the right decisions to mastermind another win over Jose Mourinho and strike a significant blow in the bunched race for Champions League qualification.

It was a couple of decisions by video assistant referees which caused the biggest fuss in the English Premier League on Saturday, however.

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso — handed rare starts by Lampard — scored the goals in a 2-1 victory over Tottenham, allowing Chelsea to pull clear again in fourth place after the team’s poor recent run.

It was Tottenham manager Mourinho’s second loss to former club Chelsea this season.

Much of the talk during and after the game was about a call by VAR not to send off Tottenham midfielder Giovani Lo Celso for an apparent stamp on Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta in the second half that looked worse on each replay.  The Premier League later said it should have been a red card.

Then, over at Turf Moor, relegation-threatened Bournemouth was denied an equalizer against Burnley when VAR chose to rule out Harry Wilson’s goal because it judged there was a handball in the Bournemouth area 15 seconds earlier.

Bournemouth’s players and manager, Eddie Howe, were livid — the team had already had a goal disallowed for a ball hitting the shoulder of one of its players in the buildup — and Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez piled on their misery by converting the penalty on the way to a 3-0 win.

VAR was introduced to the Premier League for the first time this season and fans are growing increasingly frustrated at its impact on the game.

Aston Villa stayed one point above the relegation zone after losing 2-0 at Southampton, and Crystal Palace eased any relegation concerns by beating Newcastle 1-0.

Sheffield United had to settle for drawing with Brighton 1-1 on its return to English Premier League action, missing the chance to climb into the Champions League qualification positions on Saturday.

The Blades spent their winter break in Dubai, while their top-five rivals failed to make any notable headway in their absence.

United was on its way to matching fourth-placed Chelsea’s win against Tottenham earlier in the day when Enda Stevens blasted the hosts in front in the 26th minute. However, Neal Maupay equalized four minutes later to earn a point that pushed Brighton further clear of the relegation zone, though Graham Potter’s side is without a league win in seven matches.

United was dominant in the second half, with Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan making a point-blank save to deny Oliver McBurnie near the end.

The draw kept the Blades in sixth place, although they were tied on points with fifth-placed Tottenham. Both are four points adrift of Chelsea.

However, fifth place is enough to qualify for the Champions League because second-placed Manchester City was punished last week with a two-year ban from European competitions for breaching financial regulations. City has said it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.