Barty through as rain hits Wimbledon again

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty serves to Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro during the women’s singles first round match on day two of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on Tuesday. (AP)
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Updated 29 June 2021

Barty through as rain hits Wimbledon again

  • Barty came through 6-1, 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 against Carla Suarez Navarro in a match filled with emotion on Center Court
  • She is is bidding to add the senior singles Wimbledon title to her 2011 junior crown on the 50th anniversary of Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s first title

LONDON: Australia’s Ashleigh Barty overcame a mid-match wobble to reach the second round at Wimbledon as rain once again halted play on the outside courts on Tuesday.
Barty came through 6-1, 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 against Carla Suarez Navarro in a match filled with emotion on Center Court, whose roof ensured the match could be finished.
Play was due to get underway again at 5:00pm local time (1600GMT) the same time as kick-off in the Euro 2020 last 16 tie between England and old foes Germany at Wembley.
However, 18 first round matches were pushed back to Wednesday with men’s doubles matches cut to best-of-three sets in the first two rounds in an effort to make up the backlog.
Barty’s Spanish opponent made sure her 11th and final appearance at The Championships went the distance just months after returning from a winning fight against cancer.
Barty is bidding to add the senior singles Wimbledon title to her 2011 junior crown on the 50th anniversary of her fellow indigenous Australian’s Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s first title.
Goolagong Cawley was 29 when she won her second singles title in 1980 — 10 years younger than two legends due to commence their campaigns later on Tuesday
Roger Federer and his fellow 39-year-old Serena Williams will be hoping to follow Venus Williams, two years older than them, into the second round.
Federer faces talented Frenchman Adrian Mannarino while Serena follows him onto Center Court and plays Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.
Venus had some worrying moments in her match against Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania.
However, the five-time Wimbledon singles champion, playing in her 90th Grand Slam, eventually came through 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Federer says he is pumped up and excited for this year’s Championships despite a disappointing second round exit at his traditional warm-up event Halle earlier this month.
With two knee operations behind him Federer says a lot depends on how he performs at Wimbledon including whether he tries to win a first ever Olympic singles title in Tokyo.
Serena may have lost the psychological edge over her opponents but she is still in the top 10 in the world.
With no 2019 champion Simona Halep or Naomi Osaka, Williams’s chances of equalling the controversial Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles on her favorite surface have improved considerably.
At the other end of the age scale Venus’s conqueror from 2019 Wimbledon the then 15-year-old Coco Gauff makes her return and plays British wildcard Francesca Jones.
Barty opened on Center Court — an honor usually given to the defending champion — due to Halep having withdrawn through injury.
The 25-year-old lost focus when serving for the match in the second set but dominated the third to go through.
However, she joined in the standing ovation for Suarez Navarro as the 32-year-old left the court with the Spaniard’s mother Maria wiping away a tear.
“She is a fighter, an incredible competitor and lovely person and I cannot find one bad word to say about her,” said Barty of her opponent.
“She is a genuine champion and will be sorely missed.”
Australian men’s number one Alex de Minaur lost in four sets to Sebastian Korda, two days after the victor’s sister Nelly won her first golf major.
Barty’s fiery and entertaining compatriot Nick Kyrgios is scheduled to start his campaign later on Tuesday against Frenchman Ugo Humbert.
The Australian beat Humbert in a five set thriller in the Australian Open earlier this year but the Frenchman has shown his class on grass with victory at Halle.
Humbert’s compatriot Benoit Paire did not escape the ire of the match umpire in his 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 defeat by Diego Schwartzman.
He received a warning from the umpire for not trying as two sets down overnight he lost the third 6-0 in just 15 minutes.
One spectator was moved to shout at the disinterested Frenchman “Stop wasting our time.”
The umpire Mohamed Lahyani warned Paire to try harder but Paire was unrepentant.
“I have the right to miss two returns in a row. I think it’s ridiculous.”


Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia

Updated 16 sec ago

Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kyrgios due in court in Australia

WIMBLEDON, England: Wimbledon quarterfinalist Nick Kyrgios is due in court back home in Australia next month.
A lawyer representing him said Tuesday the “precise nature of” the allegations “is neither certain at this moment nor confirmed by either the prosecution or” the 27-year-old professional tennis player.
“While Mr. Kyrgios is committed to addressing any and all allegations once clear, taking the matter seriously does not warrant any misreading of the process Mr. Kyrgios is required to follow,” attorney Pierre Johannessen wrote in a statement emailed to the media.
Johannessen wrote that “the allegations are not considered as fact” by the court, and Kyrgios is not “considered charged” with an offense until a first appearance in court.
The Canberra Times reported that Kyrgios is supposed to appear in court on Aug. 2. The newspaper cited local police as saying that a 27-year-old Australian man is involved in a case about “common assault following an incident in December 2021.”
Canberra police did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment emailed by The Associated Press.
Kyrgios is scheduled to play Cristian Garin at Wimbledon on Wednesday. It’s the third Grand Slam quarterfinal of the Australian’s career — he is 0-2 in the others — and first in 7 1/2 years.
An ATP spokesperson said: “The ATP is aware of the Australian case involving Nick Kyrgios but as legal proceedings are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Police probe racism claims after fan abuse at England-India Test

Updated 05 July 2022

Police probe racism claims after fan abuse at England-India Test

  • The Bharat Army said "many" of its members at the Edgbaston ground had been targeted by "a very small minority" in Monday's fourth day of play
  • Inquiries are being made to identify an alleged offender whose image was circulated on social media

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom: Police have launched an investigation after India fans claimed they were racially abused during England’s fifth Test victory in Birmingham.
The Bharat Army, the official India supporters’ club, said “many” of its members at the Edgbaston ground had been targeted by “a very small minority” in Monday’s fourth day of play.
A post on the group’s Twitter account read: “Sad to say many of our members experienced racist abuse from a very small minority of individuals. We will work with @Edgbaston to share all your feedback.
“Thank you to those England fans who stood by us.”
West Midlands Police on Tuesday said they were liaising with officials at Edgbaston to understand what happened.
Inquiries are being made to identify an alleged offender whose image was circulated on social media.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said: “We are very concerned to hear reports of racist abuse at today’s Test match. We are in contact with colleagues at Edgbaston, who will investigate. There is no place for racism in cricket.”
Stuart Cain, chief executive at Edgbaston, added: “I’m gutted by these reports as we’re working hard to make Edgbaston a safe, welcoming environment for all.
“Having seen the initial tweets, I’ve spoken personally to the gentleman who raised them and we’re now speaking to the stewards in this area to establish what happened.
“Nobody should be subject to any form of abuse at Edgbaston. So, once we’ve got all the facts, we will make sure this issue is addressed swiftly.”
Former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq retweeted a thread detailing some of the alleged incidents along with the comment: “Disappointing to read.”
His evidence to a parliamentary select committee last year sparked an investigation into his claims of institutional racism at Yorkshire which resulted in ECB charges and major reforms.
England won the fifth Test on Tuesday’s final day after centuries from Yorkshire pair Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.


Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open

Updated 05 July 2022

Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open

  • The PGA Tour suspended its members who signed up for the Saudi-backed series run by Greg Norman

VIRGINIA WATER, England: Ian Poulter and two other players who signed up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series won a stay Monday from a British court that allows them to play in the Scottish Open.

Poulter, Adrian Otaegui of Spain and Justin Harding of South Africa challenged their suspension from the Scottish Open and two other tournaments, the penalty for playing a LIV Golf event outside London without a release from the European tour.

They will be added to the field this week at The Renaissance Club for the Scottish Open, the first European Tour event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour suspended its members who signed up for the Saudi-backed series run by Greg Norman. Poulter is also a PGA Tour member.

Poulter was among 16 players who hinted at legal action over European tour penalties, though the temporary stay after a hearing before Judge Phillip Sycamore, who was appointed by Sports Resolutions (UK), applied only to the three players.

“I will simply say we are disappointed by the outcome of today’s hearing, but will abide by the decision,” European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said in a statement. “It is important to remember, however, this is only a stay of the sanctions imposed, pending the hearing of the players’ appeal as to whether those sanctions were appropriate.”

Pelley was at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland and said he would withhold a more detailed response until the charity event was over, out of respect to the hosts. McManus has attracted a world-class field that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler and a host of other major champions.

Poulter also is playing the two-day event in Ireland.

Earlier in the day, he told BBC Sports he was fighting for his right to play golf.

“My commitment to the European Tour has been there since day one,” he said. “And it’s still there today. I’m proud of playing so often, when it was to the detriment of world ranking points and FedEx Cup points I could have earned playing more in America.”

Along with the suspension, players who competed in LIV Golf without permission were fined £100,000 ($121,000), roughly the amount of last-place money in the $20 million LIV events.


Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France

Updated 05 July 2022

Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France

DUNKIRK, FRANCE: The Tour de France gets back underway Tuesday after a successful three days in Denmark with a series of testing stages that will shape the destiny of the 2022 yellow jersey.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at five things worth watching out for in the next seven days:

— With three hilly stages, two mountain days and the treacherous cobbles, attack-minded Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin will be straining at the leash to once more claim the overall leader’s yellow jersey after a fine run in 2021. He can probably not do it in the mountains, but the one-day specialist sits just 20 seconds off Wout van Aert’s lead and may even go for the gun between Dunkirk and Calais on Tuesday.

— The Tour takes on 20km of the old mining roads that led the Paris-Roubaix to gain its nickname ‘the Hell of the North’. That stretch could provide a shake-up in the overall standings and may also reveal the true nature of the pecking order inside the teams with more than one leader.

If Tadej Pogacar’s hand injury is worse than he is showing, it will be put to a rude test. Ineos could protect Adam Yates, or opt to allow Geraint Thomas to plow on if he is in difficulty. Primoz Roglic would appear stronger for Jumbo, but they also have Jonas Vingegaard as a possible leader and will also consider how long to try and keep Wout van Aert in yellow.

— The last time the Tour took on this climb in the Vosges mountains to the storied summit finish, Thomas gained time on all his key rivals on the punishing upper reaches contested over gravel. The Tour winner will likely not be revealed here, with time differences between the overall contenders expected to remain within 30-40 seconds. But this is the Tour’s first summit finish, first mountain stage and will provide major form pointers ahead of the crucial Alpine stages ahead.

— The 10th stage in the Swiss Alps is potentially the most gruling test of the week, with over 40km of tough ascents. It will put Ineos’ promise to race aggressively to the test. They have two climbers in their ranks capable of a bid to put time into defending champion Pogacar, or at least wear him out on a Tour thin on traditional mountain challenges.

— Ineos were talking up a fight ahead of the Tour, suggesting they would race aggressively in their bid to end Pogacar’s reign. Their two leaders are climbers Daniel Martinez and Yates who will have to wait for the mountains to launch an attack. Jumbo-Visma, runners-up in the past two years, said they would be concentrating on just surviving the opening stages. The merits of those differing strategies will be put under the microscope this week.


Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen

Updated 05 July 2022

Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen

  • Kessie has 58 international appearances with his national team and played at the Tokyo Olympics as Ivory Coast reached the quarterfinals
  • Christensen comes after his contract with Chelsea ended. His deal is also until 2026 and contains the same buyout clause as Kessie’s

BARCELONA, Spain: Barcelona boosted their midfield and defense by signing Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen on Monday.

The 25-year-old Kessie, who had been playing for AC Milan since 2017, arrives as a free agent on a contract until June 2026 and a buyout clause of €500 million ($522 million).

Christensen comes after his contract with Chelsea ended. His deal is also until 2026 and contains the same buyout clause as Kessie’s.

Kessie will be officially introduced on Wednesday. The Ivory Coast midfielder will be the second Ivorian to play for Barcelona, after Yaya Toure in the late 2000s.

The 26-year-old Christensen will be introduced on Thursday. The Danish central defender joined Chelsea’s youth teams in 2012 and had a stint with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga before returning to Chelsea.

Christensen helped Chelsea win the Champions League, the Europea League and the Club World Cup, and was on the Danish national team that reached the semifinals of the 2020 European Championship.

Barcelona called him “strong and with great vision, a powerful center back who is excellent in the air” and “technically proficient with the ball at his feet, a perfect fit” for the Catalan club.

Kessie has 58 international appearances with his national team and played at the Tokyo Olympics as Ivory Coast reached the quarterfinals.

Kessie moved to Italy in 2014 to sign for Atalanta, where he played in the club’s youth squads before joining second-division team Cesena on a loan. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini eventually brought him back to Atalanta and he scored twice in his Serie A debut in 2016.

Kessie joined Milan on loan in 2017 and permanently signed with the club in 2019 for €33 million ($34.5 million). He helped AC Milan win its first title in 11 seasons this year. In his six seasons with Atalanta and Milan, Kessie scored 45 goals.

Barcelona called Kessie “the complete package” and a “strong midfielder with tactical awareness.”

“Kessie is a player who contributes in attack and in defense,” the club said. “Capable of winning the ball back in midfield, the African midfielder also has impressive stats as a goal-scorer, partly due to his ability to make runs into the penalty area.”

He will join a midfield that includes Sergio Busquets, Nico González and Frenkie de Jong.