Andy Murray wins five-set epic on return to Australian Open

Andy Murray, ranked 113 and playing as a tournament wild card, showed his trademark fighting spirit to edge home in the gripping final set. (Reuters)
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Updated 18 January 2022

Andy Murray wins five-set epic on return to Australian Open

  • The three-time Grand Slam champion is playing with a metal hip following career-saving surgery in 2019
  • ‘It’s amazing to be back and winning a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t ask for any more’

MELBOURNE: Andy Murray battled to his first win at the Australian Open since 2017 with an epic five-set victory over 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili on Tuesday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion, playing with a metal hip following career-saving surgery in 2019, wrestled with the Georgian for almost four hours before claiming his place in the second round.
Scotland’s Murray, ranked 113 and playing as a tournament wild card, showed his trademark fighting spirit to edge home in the gripping final set and clinch a 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 victory in 3 hours and 52 minutes on John Cain Arena.
It comes after his tearful exit from the 2019 Melbourne event with the hip injury which raised the possibility of his imminent retirement from tennis, before he went ahead with surgery just weeks later.
“Amazing, been a tough three or four years. Put in a lot work to get back here,” a relieved Murray, 34, said on court.
“I’ve played on this court many times and the atmosphere is incredible.
“It’s amazing to be back and winning a five-set battle like that, I couldn’t ask for any more.”
It continued a keen rivalry between the pair with Murray rallying from a set down to defeat the big-hitting Georgian last week in Sydney and also prevailing over four sets in the first round at Wimbledon last year.


Salah staying at Liverpool ‘for sure’ next season

Updated 8 min 57 sec ago

Salah staying at Liverpool ‘for sure’ next season

  • Mohamed Salah: I don’t want to talk about the contract; I’m staying next season for sure, let’s see after that
  • Sadio Mane: This question (about my future) I will answer after Champions League

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah has confirmed he will see out his contract at Liverpool next season, but the Egypt forward remains non-committal on his future at Anfield beyond 2023.
Salah’s contract expires at the end of next season and talks over a new deal have dragged on for months without a resolution.
However, ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid, Salah said his full focus is on winning the biggest prize in European football for the second time.
“I don’t want to talk about the contract. I’m staying next season for sure, let’s see after that,” said Salah at Liverpool’s pre-match media day on Wednesday.
“In my mind I don’t focus about the contract. I don’t want to be selfish, it’s about the team. It’s a really important week for us, I want to see Hendo (Jordan Henderson) having the trophy again in his hands.”
Salah’s fellow forward Sadio Mane also refused to commit his long-term future to Liverpool.
Senegal international Mane is out of contract in 2023 and has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich.
“This question (about my future) I will answer after Champions League,” Mane told Sky Sports.
“If I’m staying or not, I’m going to answer after Champions League.”


Johnson takes responsibility but won’t quit over lockdown parties

Updated 18 min 11 sec ago

Johnson takes responsibility but won’t quit over lockdown parties

  • Johnson has faced repeated calls to resign from opposition politicians
  • The report by senior official Sue Gray gave graphic details and included photographs from more than a dozen gatherings

LONDON: A “humbled” Boris Johnson said he took full responsibility but would not quit after a damning official report on Wednesday detailed a series of illegal lockdown parties at the British leader’s Downing Street office.
Johnson has faced repeated calls to resign from opposition politicians and some in his own party over the alcohol-fueled gatherings, after it was revealed that he and officials had broken COVID-19 rules that all but banned people from socialising outside their households.
“I ... am humbled and I have learned a lesson,” Prime Minister Johnson told parliament, saying he would not quit over the scandal.
His foreign minister Liz Truss, seen as a possible successor, said she backed him “100 percent” after his apology.
The report by senior official Sue Gray did not specifically blame Johnson, but gave graphic details and included photographs from more than a dozen gatherings.
He attended some, including a party to celebrate his 56th birthday on June 19, 2020 that he was fined over but which Gray said he was unaware of in advance.
“Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen,” the report said. “The senior leadership ...must bear responsibility for this culture.”
Johnson, who commissioned the report after revelations of boozy Downing Street events, said he was appalled by some of the behavior it had uncovered.
Gray’s interim findings were published in January, but details were withheld until the end of a police inquiry that concluded last week with 126 fines handed out.

DISMAYING BEHAVIOUR AT ‘HEART OF GOVERNMENT’
Her full report included emails and messages that showed many gatherings were planned in advance, with discussions on who would bring alcohol — drinks that “we seem to have got away with,” the then head of Johnson’s Downing Street office, Martin Reynolds, said in one message.
There were warnings from another official that people should not be “waving bottles of wine” before a gathering that coincided with a televised news conference when ministers told the public to follow the COVID rules.
At one June 2020 event, Gray said “excessive alcohol consumption” led to one person being sick and a fight between two others.
At another, the night before the April 2021 funeral for Queen Elizabeth’s husband Prince Philip, individuals partied into the early hours and damaged a swing.
“Many will be dismayed that behavior of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of government,” Gray said. “The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behavior in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this.”
She cited multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff who had to remove red wine from walls after one event.
For months, evidence of the parties has dripped out into the media, forcing Johnson to apologize, change his office team and promise a reset to try to restore his authority.
Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was time for Johnson to quit, saying the report laid bare that the government believed that it was one rule for them and another for everyone else.
“You cannot be a lawmaker and a law-breaker,” Starmer — himself under police investigation for breaking COVID rules, told parliament. He has said he’ll resign if fined.
Johnson’s immediate fate lies in the hands of his Conservative lawmakers who can call for a leadership challenge.
Many had said they would wait for Gray’s full report before deciding whether to demand Johnson should go.
“Are you willing day in and day out to defend his behavior publicly?” Tobias Ellwood, a long-time critic of Johnson, implored of his parliamentary colleagues.
Others felt the report was less damning than it could have been. “This is all so banal,” one Conservative said on condition of anonymity.
Johnson had initially denied there had been parties or rule-breaking at Downing Street, and some lawmakers say his position is untenable if he is found to have lied to parliament, a matter under investigation by the Committee of Privileges.
By way of apology for his earlier denials, said he wanted to “correct for the record” that no rules were broken. “Clearly this was not the case for some of those gatherings after I had left,” Johnson told parliament.


Pakistan’s top court instructs government to allow opposition rally near H-9 sector

Updated 7 min 1 sec ago

Pakistan’s top court instructs government to allow opposition rally near H-9 sector

  • The Supreme Court tells the government not to arrest Khan supporters in police raids
  • Government and Khan representatives have been instructed to hold consultations tonight

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday instructed the government to provide former prime minister Imran Khan’s political party a ground between Islamabad’s H-9 and G-9 sectors, reported the local media, to hold a protest demonstration while hearing a petition for the removal of road blocks in the federal capital.

The petition was filed by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association after the government blocked several roads in and around the capital to prevent the anti-government march initiated by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party which has been seeking dissolution of assemblies along with a date for fresh elections in the country.

The government also detained several PTI leaders and supporters in different Pakistani cities ahead of their scheduled march to Islamabad, making the court prevent the relevant authorities from making excessive use of force.

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the PTI to hold its Azadi March protest in the H-9 area of Islamabad and restrained the government from arresting party chairman Imran Khan,” reported Dawn newspaper.

It quoted the court as saying that it was “playing the role of the arbitrator,” adding the judges said no raids should be conducted on the homes of PTI workers.”

Pakistan’s Geo news channel said the three-member bench headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan demanded a plan that would allow PTI workers and followers to peacefully converge in the capital to register their protest before returning home.

The bench said it did not want the protesters to shut down places like Faizabad and the Motorway like in the past.

The court also instructed the government and PTI representatives to hold a meeting at the chief commissioner’s office tonight to work out the modalities of the protest demonstrations.


Indian court orders life in jail for top Kashmiri separatist

Updated 25 May 2022

Indian court orders life in jail for top Kashmiri separatist

  • Police fired tear gas to disperse stone-pelting protesters outside Malik's residence in Srinagar 
  • Malik's wife Mushaal Hussein Mullick said the sentencing was illegitimate

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: An Indian court on Wednesday ordered life in jail for Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik for funding “terrorist” activities and other charges, a judge said, prompting street protests outside the politician’s residence. 

Malik, head of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), earlier told a special court designated for the National Investigation Agency that he had been following Gandhian principles and non-violent politics in Kashmir after giving up arms in the 1990s. 

Mainly Hindu India has been fighting an armed militancy in Kashmir, also claimed by Pakistan, for decades. 

“Life imprisonment sentence to the convict, Yasin Malik,” Special Judge Parveen Singh said in the court in New Delhi. 

Malik’s wife Mushaal Hussein Mullick said the sentencing was illegitimate. 

“Verdict in minutes by Indian kangaroo court,” she wrote on Twitter. “The iconic leader will never surrender.” 

In Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, police fired tear gas and pellets to disperse stone-pelting protesters outside Malik’s residence. 

Malik was convicted last week. 


Boehly’s Chelsea takeover puts US tycoon in spotlight

Updated 25 May 2022

Boehly’s Chelsea takeover puts US tycoon in spotlight

  • The American has grand ambitions for the west London club as he targets sustained success on the pitch and financial growth off it
  • The Premier League's global brand is a key driver of Boehly's interest

LONDON: Todd Boehly’s consortium has secured Chelsea’s future but the hard work is just beginning for the latest American billionaire to be lured by the promise of Premier League riches.
Boehly’s group has received the approval from the British government and Premier League required to seal the £4.25 billion ($5.3 billion) deal.
Having masterminded the purchase from Roman Abramovich in less than three months despite numerous complications due to government sanctions targeting the Russian, Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Boehly will now focus on reaping the rewards of his labors.
The American has grand ambitions for the west London club as he targets sustained success on the pitch and financial growth off it.
Discussing a previous attempt to purchase Chelsea that was rebuffed, Boehly told Bloomberg in 2019: “What you are trying to build with these teams, you are really trying to A, win and B, be part of the community.”
The Premier League’s global brand is a key driver of Boehly’s interest as it provides the opportunity to benefit from significant broadcast revenues and merchandising.
“It’s the highest-quality play, it’s the best players,” Boehly said. “You also have a media market that’s just developing.”
Some football financial analysts believe leading Premier League clubs could be worth more than £10 billion within a decade.
California investment group Clearlake will be Chelsea’s majority shareholder as part of the consortium, with Boehly becoming controlling owner.
While the consortium is clearly motivated by guaranteeing a return on their investment, Boehly would be wise to learn from the experiences of his fellow American owners at Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.
John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group has steered Liverpool back to the top of the game with a series of smart moves, crucially landing boss Jurgen Klopp, surrounding him with innovative lieutenants and providing the backing required to land his transfer targets.
In contrast, Manchester United owners the Glazer family and Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke have endured furious fan protests after presiding over precipitous declines in their clubs’ fortunes.
Chelsea have a solid foundation thanks to the sterling work of boss Thomas Tuchel, who won the Champions League in his first season and this campaign secured a third-place finish in the Premier League while reaching two domestic cup finals despite the distractions of the sale saga.
Significantly, Boehly already has institutional knowledge of what it takes to grow a club’s brand, while putting out a winning team.
He was a key member of the ownership group that bought the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt in 2012 for $2 billion — then a record for a North American sports team acquisition.
In the decade since Guggenheim Baseball Management — the investment group that also includes Mark Walter and Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson — took over a Dodgers team in disarray, the club have become perennial contenders.
They reached the World Series three times in four years, coming away empty-handed in 2017 and 2018 before winning the title in 2020.
The turnaround, along with the revitalization of Dodger Stadium, was fueled by a multi-million-dollar media deal and, under Boehly and his co-investors, the Dodgers have eclipsed the New York Yankees as the biggest-spending club in MLB.
“There is only one Dodgers,” Boehly said at the time of the purchase. “It’s not, ‘Oh well, if you don’t get this one, you can go get that one.’“
Boehly left Guggenheim Partners in 2015 and co-founded the holding company Eldridge Industries, of which he is the chairman and chief executive.
He is also chairman of Security Benefit, which has a commercial partnership with the Dodgers, and MRC, an entertainment company with businesses spanning film, TV, media and data.
Boehly has also expanded his sports interests. He is a part-owner of the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Sparks and last year joined with Walter to purchase a stake in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers.
In recent weeks, Boehly has been able to attend matches at Stamford Bridge, both in the directors’ box and also mixing in the stands among supporters.
The laid-back American appears to have the common touch, but emulating the sustained success of the Abramovich era — with 19 major trophies in 19 years — will be the true test of Chelsea’s new regime.