Nadal seals Spain’s victory; Croatia, Japan triumph

Rafael Nadal after beating Pablo Cuevas. (AP)
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Updated 07 January 2020

Nadal seals Spain’s victory; Croatia, Japan triumph

  • Nadal beat Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1 in Perth on Monday

BRISBANE: Weeks after leading Spain to a Davis Cup title, Rafael Nadal is doing his best to do it again at the the ATP Cup, the newest of the men’s international team competitions.

The top-ranked Nadal beat Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1 in Perth on Monday to secure Spain’s win in the best-of-three encounter against Uruguay ahead of the doubles. Spain now have two wins from two starts in Group B and next faces unbeaten Japan to determine first place and automatic qualification for the playoffs in Sydney.

Roberto Bautista Agut was equally ruthless in getting Spain started when he beat unranked 19-year-old Franco Roncadelli 6-1, 6-2.

Nadal won his fourth title in the Davis Cup, the traditional men’s team competition, in November. He said he thrives in the team environment.

The six group winners and the two best second-place teams qualify for the quarterfinals.

Second-ranked Novak Djokovic gave Serbia a shot at a second victory when he extended his tour-level unbeaten streak against Gael Monfils to 16 wins with a 6-3, 6-2 victory in Brisbane. Benoit Paire had given France the lead with a 6-2, 5-7 (6), 6-4 win in his singles against Dusan Lajovic. The Group A match will now be decided by doubles.

In Sydney, Austria clinched victory over Argentina with wins in both singles matches. Fourth-ranked Dominic Thiem beat Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (3) after Dennis Novak rallied from a slow start to beat Guido Pella 0-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Both countries are 1-1 in the Group E standings, which are led by unbeaten Croatia.

Novak, ranked No. 101, said a few pointers from Austria captain Thomas Muster helped calm him down after the first set.

“After the first set I went to a break with Thomas, and I came out and changed a little bit my game and fought back,” Novak said. “I think at the end I played really good tennis.”

Former US Open champion Marin Cilic had too much experience for No. 448-ranked Kacper Zuk, setting up Croatia’s victory over Poland with a 7-6 (8), 6-4 win. Cilic s was only able to convert one of his 13 break-point chances against Zuk.


Liverpool make U-turn over furlough scheme after clubs slammed

Updated 06 April 2020

Liverpool make U-turn over furlough scheme after clubs slammed

  • Liverpool faced stinging criticism from fans and former players after revealing over the weekend that they wanted to use the UK government’s furlough scheme
  • The fierce backlash sparked a sudden climbdown as Liverpool CEO Peter Moore wrote an open letter to supporters announcing they would no longer pursue the furlough route

LONDON: Liverpool were forced to apologize as the Premier League club ditched their controversial plan to furlough non-playing staff during the coronavirus on Monday, while FIFA urged players and clubs to reach agreement over wage reductions.
Liverpool faced stinging criticism from fans and former players after revealing over the weekend that they wanted to use the UK government’s furlough scheme.
Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s US-based owners, wanted to put around 200 staff on enforced leave during the pandemic while the government paid 80 percent of their wages.
Fellow top-flight teams Tottenham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich have already furloughed staff, but it was table-toppers Liverpool — with pre-tax profits of £42 million ($51.7 million) for the 2018-19 season — who came in for the most criticism, in part due to their reputation as a club with a strong bond to the working-class community on Merseyside.
The fierce backlash sparked a sudden climbdown as Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore wrote an open letter to supporters announcing they would no longer pursue the furlough route.
“We have consulted with a range of key stakeholders as part of a process aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for all concerned,” Moore said.
“We have opted to find alternative means despite our eligibility to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
“We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week to announce that we intended to apply to the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and furlough staff due to the suspension of the Premier League football calendar, and are truly sorry for that.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher tweeted: “Well done @PeterMooreLFC @LFC a big mistake initially & thankfully now it’s been put right.”
With the Premier League postponed indefinitely because of the virus, Manchester City, bankrolled by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, said they would not be using the government’s job retention scheme, with Manchester United set to follow their example.
Liverpool’s U-turn came as England’s top-flight teams, among the richest in the world, were under increasing scrutiny, with government ministers warning bosses and players they should “think carefully” over their next moves.
The highest-paid Premier League players such as Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne command eye-watering salaries, reportedly nearing £20 million ($25 million) a year.
FIFA on Monday urged clubs and players to reach agreement on taking wage reductions in order to protect clubs who are suffering financial damage, sources at world football’s governing body said.
It also recommended that players’ contracts be extended until the end of the interrupted football seasons and that the transfer window should not open until that time.
The call from FIFA comes as Premier League clubs are locked in talks with players and their representatives about taking pay cuts.
The English top flight is lagging behind other European leagues.
In Spain, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid players have agreed to pay cuts of 70 percent.
Many politicians have urged action from the Premier League and in a poll conducted by British polling company YouGov last week, 92 percent of respondents said they backed a pay cut.
But some leading players resent the political pressure. Former England captain Wayne Rooney has criticized the government and the Premier League for placing footballers in a “no-win” situation.
“In my opinion it is now a no-win situation,” Rooney said in a newspaper column. “Whatever way you look at it, we’re easy targets.”
In the latest sign of the financial crisis as a result of the coronavirus, England manager Gareth Southgate and the Football Association’s top earners have agreed to take wage cuts of up to 30 percent.