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.


Stuck bags add to tangles at Paris airports amid travel boom

Updated 1 min 23 sec ago

Stuck bags add to tangles at Paris airports amid travel boom

  • Union activists said many more passengers flew without their bags
  • The scene at Charles de Gaulle on Saturday was busy but typical for the first weekend in July

PARIS: Airlines worked Saturday to deliver luggage to passengers around the world after a technical breakdown left at least 1,500 bags stuck at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, the latest of several tangles hitting travelers this summer.
The airport’s baggage sorting system had a technical malfunction Friday that caused 15 flights to depart without luggage, leaving about 1,500 bags on the ground, according to the airport operating company. The airport handled about 1,300 flights overall Friday, the operator said.
Union activists said many more passengers flew without their bags, apparently because of knock-on effects from the original breakdown.
It came as airport workers are on strike at French airports to demand more hiring and more pay to keep up with high global inflation. Because of the strike, aviation authorities canceled 17 percent of flights out of the Paris airports Friday morning, and another 14 percent were canceled Saturday.
Passengers on canceled flights were alerted days ahead of their flights. The scene at Charles de Gaulle on Saturday was busy but typical for the first weekend in July, when France’s summer travel season kicks off.
Unions plan to continue striking Sunday but no flights have been canceled so far. They have threatened to renew the strike next weekend if negotiations with company management don’t succeed in finding a compromise.
Until now, French airports had been largely spared the chaos seen recently at airports in London, Amsterdam and some other European and US cities. Airlines and airports that slashed jobs during the depths of the COVID-19 crisis are struggling to keep up with soaring demand as travel resurges after two years of virus restrictions.

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Dubai mango festival gives international spotlight to Pakistan’s king of fruits

Updated 19 min 59 sec ago

Dubai mango festival gives international spotlight to Pakistan’s king of fruits

  • Pakistan Mango Festival 2022 was opened on by UAE minister of tolerance
  • South Asia has for centuries used the sweet fruit as a way to smoothen political relations

DUBAI: Pakistani mangoes drew international attention in Dubai over the weekend, during a festival organized to celebrate the South Asian king of fruits and boost the country’s exports and diplomacy.

Pakistan is the world’s fifth-largest producer of mangos after India, China, Thailand and Indonesia, with annual harvests of around 1.8 million tons. While most of the produce is consumed locally, it is also one of the top exporters of the yellow succulent fruit, especially to the Middle East, UK, US and some EU countries.

UAE Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan opens Pakistan Mango Festival 2022 in Dubai on July 1, 2022. (AN Photo) 

The two-day Pakistan Mango Festival 2022, organized by the Pakistan Association Dubai, was opened on Friday by UAE Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, with guests including diplomats and business players not only from the Gulf state, but also the US, UK, Philippines, South Korea, Lithuania, Ghana, Egypt, and more.  
 
“The idea of this festival was to re-introduce some of the varieties that are not there or are not being introduced the way they should be,” Pakistan’s Consul General to the UAE, Hassan Afzaal Khan, told Arab News.  

He said 15 varieties of Pakistani mangoes, including Chaunsa, Langra, Sindhri, Anwar Ratool, Dusehri, Saroli, Almas, Fajri were up for degustation during the festival.  

“Only 150,000 ton of mangos are exported, so we still have a huge space, and we are able to package them and introduce them to the market in such ways. I am confident that we can claim a big market share,” Khan said.

Different varieties of Pakistani mangoes are presented to guests at Pakistan Mango Festival 2022 in Dubai, UAE, on July 1, 2022. (AN Photo)

Another purpose of the festival was diplomacy as South Asia has for centuries used the sweet fruit as a way to smoothen political relations. The fruits are often used as a gesture of friendship and goodwill and presented as gifts by national or political leaders.

“Pakistan has always used mangoes for diplomacy,” Dr. Faisel Ikram, president of the Pakistan Association Dubai, said. “Today’s event is a pure diplomacy event where we invited foreign missions, consul generals, business councils and government officials to come and see what Pakistan has to offer.”

Stalls representing Pakistani provinces treated the guests to unique mango dishes that originating from each of the regions, including mango achar, chutneys, mango biryani, salads and desserts.
 
“I have tasted many mango varieties and dishes made of mangoes here today, (and) though I do not remember the names of all, I enjoyed them thoroughly,” Muslima Zhumabek, the wife of the consul general of Kazakhstan, told Arab News.

Another guest, Barry Bedford, COO of Mediclinic Dubai said the varieties of Pakistani mango he tried had “brilliant taste,” as he praised the festival initiative: “This event celebrates people coming together, which sets an amazing example.”


With hospitalizations up, France weighs return to masks

Updated 37 min 44 sec ago

With hospitalizations up, France weighs return to masks

  • From Paris commuters to tourists on the French Riviera, many people seem to welcome the government’s light touch
  • Virus-related hospitalizations rose quickly in France over the past two weeks

NICE, France: Tourism is booming again in France — and so is COVID-19.
French officials have “invited” or “recommended” people to go back to using face masks but stopped short of renewing restrictions that would scare visitors away or revive antigovernment protests.
From Paris commuters to tourists on the French Riviera, many people seem to welcome the government’s light touch, while some worry that required prevention measures may be needed.
Virus-related hospitalizations rose quickly in France over the past two weeks, with nearly 1,000 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized per day, according to government data. Infections are also rising across Europe and the United States, but France has an exceptionally high proportion of people in the hospital, according to Our World in Data estimates.
French government spokesperson Olivia Gregoire has said there are no plans to reintroduce national regulations that limit or set conditions for gathering indoors and other activities.
“The French people are sick of restrictions,” she said Wednesday on channel BFMTV. “We are confident that people will behave responsibly.”
France’s parliamentary elections last month resulted in President Emmanuel Macron losing his majority in the national legislature, while parties on the far right and the far left that had protested his government’s earlier vaccine and mask rules gained seats.
After the prime minister this week recommended that people resume wearing masks on public transportation, commuter Raphaelle Vertaldi said, “We need to deal with the virus, but we can’t stop living because of it.”
Vertaldi, who was boarding a train in Boussy-Saint-Antoine south of Paris, said she opposed mandatory mask use but would cover her mouth and nose again, if the government requires it.
Hassani Mohammed, a postal worker in Paris, didn’t wait for the government to decide. He masks up before his daily commute. With his wife recovering from surgery and two children at home, he does not want to risk contracting the coronavirus a third time.
“I realized that the pandemic does not belong to the past,” Mohammed said.
Masks have been contentious in France. Early in the pandemic, the French government suggested masks weren’t helpful. It ultimately introduced some of Europe’s toughest restrictions, including an indoors and outside mask mandate that lasted more than a year, along with strict lockdowns.
A Paris court ruled Tuesday that the French government failed to sufficiently stock up on surgical masks at the start of the pandemic and to prevent the virus from spreading. The administrative court in Paris also ruled that the government was wrong to suggest early on that that masks did not protect people from becoming infected.
The government lifted most virus rules by April, and foreign tourists have returned by land, sea and air to French Mediterranean beaches, restaurants and bars.
In the meantime, French hospitals are struggling with long-running staff and funding shortages. Local officials are contemplating new measures, including an indoor mask mandate in some cities, but nothing that would curb economic activity.
French tourism professionals expect a booming summer season despite the virus, with numbers that may even surpass pre-pandemic levels as Americans benefit from the weaker euro and others rediscover foreign travel after more than two years of a more circumscribed existence.
On the French Riviera, a slow economic recovery began last summer. But with attendance at gatherings still capped, social distancing rules and travel restrictions in place a year ago, most visitors to the area were French.
A tour guide and electric bicycle taxi driver in Nice described her joy at seeing foreign visitors again. During France’s repeated lockdowns, she transported essential workers, and took people to hospitals, to care for elderly relatives or for PCR tests.
Now, passengers on her bike from the US, Australia, Germany, Italy or beyond reach for the hand disinfectant taped to the barrier between the passenger and driver’s seats. She said she still diligently disinfects the bike before each ride, “like it’s 2020.”
A retired couple from the UK visited France this week on their first trip abroad since pandemic travel restrictions were lifted. They started with a cruise down the River Rhône – face masks were mandatory on the ship — and ended with a few days on the Mediterranean.
“It’s been delightful from start to finish,” said Ros Runcie, who was in Nice with her husband, Gordon. “Everyone is so pleased to see you, everyone is really polite and nice to visitors.”
Sue Baker, who was traveling with her husband, Phil, and the Runcies, observed: “It feels very much like pre-2020.”
Asked about the possible return of French mask rules, Phil Baker said, “Masks are a bit uncomfortable, especially in the heat.”
But his wife added, “If it means we can still go on a holiday, we’ll put them back on without hesitation.”


French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon

Updated 02 July 2022

French player who beat Serena reaches 4th round at Wimbledon

  • The unseeded Frenchwoman is making her debut at the All England Club
  • Tan’s debut at Wimbledon came on Day 2 of the tournament on Centre Court

WIMBLEDON, England: Whether her opponents are tournament favorites or crowd favorites, Harmony Tan keeps knocking them out of Wimbledon.
First there was Serena Williams, a seven-time champion at the All England Club. Then came 32nd-seeded Sara Sorribes Tormo. On Saturday, it was British player Katie Boulter.
“I think I like grass,” said Tan, who won three straight matches at a tournament for the first time in her career. “I really like to play with some slice, volley, everything with my game.”
The unseeded Frenchwoman is making her debut at the All England Club. She has played at the French Open four times, reaching the second round once. She also played at this year’s Australian Open and again reached the second round. At the US Open, she lost in the first round in 2018 in her only appearance at Flushing Meadows.
On Saturday, Tan beat Boulter 6-1, 6-1 on No. 2 Court. She never faced a break point in the match and converted five of the 10 she earned.
Tan’s debut at Wimbledon came on Day 2 of the tournament on Center Court, the biggest stadium on the grounds. That’s where she eliminated Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, in three sets.
“It was really emotional for the first round against Serena, and after it was just play match for match,” Tan said on court. “Today was really good tennis. I don’t know why, but ... it depends (on) the day.”
Tan will next face either Coco Gauff or Amanda Anisimova. The two Americans will face each other in Saturday’s first match on Center Court.
French Open champion Iga Swiatek was scheduled to face Alize Cornet on No. 1 Court. Swiatek is the top-seeded player at Wimbledon and has won 37 straight matches.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was scheduled to follow Gauff and Anisimova on Center Court. Then Rafael Nadal, another two-time champion at the All England Club, was to play Lorenzo Sonego in the main stadium after that.

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Pakistan seizes tankers with oil smuggled from Iran

Updated 5 min 4 sec ago

Pakistan seizes tankers with oil smuggled from Iran

  • Tankers were intercepted as they entered Karachi from Balochistan
  • Smuggled oil is estimated to be worth $135,000

KARACHI: Pakistani authorities have seized two tankers with 30,000 liters of smuggled Iranian oil in Karachi, the customs department said on Saturday.

The two tankers were intercepted as they entered the port city from Balochistan province which borders Iran. The smuggled oil is estimated to be worth $135,000.

“Anti Smuggling team of Customs Enforcement Collectorate Karachi intercepted two Oil Tankers along with 4 drivers loaded with smuggled Iranian diesel near Mochko choke point and recovered 30,000 litres of smuggled diesel (15,000 litres in each). Total value of the seized smuggled diesel and tankers is estimated to be Rs 27.5 million,” the customs department said in a statement.

Syed Muhammad Irfan Ali, spokesperson of the Customs Enforcement Collectorate Karachi, told Arab News it was unclear whether the tankers crossed the border from Iran or filled in Balochistan, “but these are loaded with Iranian oil, which is illegal.”

Iranian oil has been regularly smuggled into neighboring Pakistan. as Iran has some of the world’s cheapest petrol and diesel prices due to very low production costs, international sanctions and a weak currency.