Real’s Champions League heroics ‘inspire’ Nadal into Madrid quarterfinals

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Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after beating Belgium's David Goffin during their 2022 ATP Tour Madrid Open tennis tournament singles match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 5, 2022. (AFP)
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Tunisia's Ons Jabeur returns the ball to Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova during their 2022 WTA Tour Madrid Open tennis tournament singles semifinal match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 5, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 06 May 2022

Real’s Champions League heroics ‘inspire’ Nadal into Madrid quarterfinals

  • Tunisian eighth seed Ons Jabeur advances to the biggest final of her career with an impressive 6-2, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova

MADRID: Rafael Nadal said on Thursday he drew inspiration from Real Madrid’s heroic comeback against Manchester City less than 24 hours previously as he survived a scare from David Goffin, saving four match points en route to a tight 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (11/9) victory in the Madrid Open.

The win kept alive Nadal’s quest for a record-extending sixth title in the Spanish capital and earned him a spot in the quarterfinals, where he faces his compatriot Carlos Alcaraz.

Seventh seed Alcaraz celebrated his 19th birthday with a battling 6-4, 6-7(4/7), 6-3 over British world No. 11 Cameron Norrie.

On Wednesday, Real scored in extra time to stun City 3-1 to set up a Champions League final with Liverpool later this month.

Nadal, a 21-time major champion, was contesting just his second match after a six-week break due to a rib injury and rebounded from tricky moments during his showdown with Goffin, who has a career-high ranking of seventh but is currently down to 60 in the world.

Nadal had to recover from an early break before clinching a 46-minute opening set.

The Spanish third seed held two match points and served for the second set but was stretched to a third by Goffin.

In the deciding-set tie-break, Nadal saved four match points, hitting clutch drop shots on two of them, before he finally moved into a record-extending 99th ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal and his 16th in Madrid.

“Yesterday has been an unforgettable night. The spirit that the Real Madrid team have is just incredible and for me today in some way has been an inspiration,” said the 35-year-old, who attended the game at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“I think David played at such a high level but at the same time I’m not completely happy because I think I had to finish the match in straight sets without a doubt.”

Nadal is 2-0 against Alcaraz, having defeated the teen phenom in Madrid last year and at Indian Wells in March.

“I think that today, he is better than me and he has a good dynamic, a good momentum,” Nadal said of Alcaraz, who is riding a seven-match winning streak that includes a title run in Barcelona.

“I’m clear who, from the beginning, has some kind of advantage in tomorrow’s match. But in that regard, I will try to do as much as possible to be competitive.”

Earlier, former world No. 1 Andy Murray was forced to pull out of his last-16 match against Djokovic, citing food poisoning.

It would have been the 37th meeting between Murray and current world number one Djokovic, but the first since they played each other in the Doha final in January 2017.

Djokovic, a three-time champion in Madrid, now moves directly into a quarterfinal against Polish 12th seed Hubert Hurkacz, who knocked out Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-3.

Sixth seed Andrey Rublev reached the seventh Masters 1000 quarter-final of his career with a 7-6 (9/7), 7-5 result against Dan Evans of Britain.

Rublev said it has been a “stressful” tournament for him so far, despite arriving to the Spanish capital fresh from a title run in Belgrade.

“I’m going on court thinking for sure today I’m going to do everything and I will be calm and then I’m doing really stupid and easy mistakes that make no sense,” said Rublev.

“Then I manage somehow to calm down and at the end starts these roller coasters.”

In the last eight, Rublev will face Stefanos Tsitsipas, who downed Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-4.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev also punched his ticket to the quarterfinals after his opponent Lorenzo Musetti retired from their match in the second set with a left thigh injury.

In the women’s event, eighth seed Ons Jabeur advanced to the biggest final of her career with an impressive 6-2, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Tunisian followed up wins against Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and former world No. 1 Simona Halep with just her second success in eight meetings with Alexandrova to move into a maiden WTA 1000 final.

“It was a very emotional match. For those who don’t know, I have a 1-6 record against her. So it was a tough match mentally,” said Jabeur.

“But I’m glad that I pulled the win today. I played really good, I was ready for the right moments and hopefully I can continue playing at this level for the final.”

Jabeur awaits the winner of the semi-inal between American 12th seed Jessica Pegula and Swiss lefthander Jil Teichmann.


Elon Musk says he was joking about buying Manchester United

Updated 17 August 2022

Elon Musk says he was joking about buying Manchester United

  • ‘No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams’
  • Elon Musk has a history of being unconventional and posting irreverent tweets

 Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, said early on Wednesday that he was joking when he tweeted hours previously that he was going to buy currently struggling English football club Manchester United.

“No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams,” Musk posted when asked by a user if he was serious about buying the club. “Although, if it were any team, it would be Man U,” he added, “they were my fav (sic) team as a kid.”

Musk originally tweeted: “I’m buying Manchester United ur (sic) welcome,” without offering any details. Some Manchester United fans, disgruntled by their club’s declining fortunes of late, had previously urged Musk on Twitter to consider buying the club.

The tweet turnaround comes as Musk seeks to exit a $44 billion agreement to buy Twitter only four months after announcing on the platform he would buy the social media company, which has taken him to court.

Musk has a history of being unconventional and posting irreverent tweets, making it difficult sometimes to tell when he is joking.

“Next I’m buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in,” he tweeted on April 27, two days after Twitter’s board accepted his unsolicited offer to buy the company.

Referring back to that post, on Wednesday he tweeted: “And I’m not buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in, despite the extreme popularity of such a move.”

Musk’s tweets about potential acquisitions have landed him in hot water with US regulators in the past.

In 2018, he tweeted that there was “funding secured” for a $72 billion deal to take Tesla private, but did not move ahead with an offer. Musk and Tesla each paid $20 million civil fines — and Musk stepped down as Tesla’s chairman — to resolve US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims that Musk defrauded investors.

The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s tweet that he was buying the club outside usual business hours.

Musk’s ambitions range from colonizing Mars to creating a new sustainable energy economy, and in the process he has built the most valuable car company in the world, electric vehicle maker Tesla, rocket company SpaceX, and a slew of smaller firms. One is a tunnel maker called the Boring Company.

Manchester United is one of the most famous names in world football but is currently in crisis on the field amid angry calls from fans for the club’s current owners, the American Glazer family, to pull out.

Clamour from fans and pundits for a change of ownership at the three-time winners of the European Cup, the most prestigious club competition in the global game, is intensifying amid a lengthening run without winning major titles.

British newspaper The Daily Mirror reported last year that the Glazers, who have faced widespread fan opposition to their stewardship since acquiring the club in 2005 for 790 million pounds ($957 million), were prepared to sell but only if they were offered in excess of 4 billion pounds.

In its annual rankings this year, Forbes rated Manchester United, with its huge global fanbase, the third most valuable football club in the world, worth $4.6 billion, behind only Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

But shares in the New York-listed football club have slid a quarter in the past 12 months, valuing it at just over $2 billion. The stock has rebounded in the past month, gaining 16 percent to close at $12.78 on Tuesday.

The northern England-based team has more than 32 million followers on its main Twitter account and Musk’s first tweet about the club had garnered more than 430,000 ‘likes’ on the platform within five hours.

Musk, who is worth $270 billion, according to Forbes, could certainly afford to buy the club.

Last week, filings revealed that Musk had sold $6.9 billion worth of Tesla shares, which he said could be used to finance a potential Twitter deal if he loses a legal battle with the social media platform.

In total, Musk has sold about $32 billion worth of Tesla stock in less than a year partly to pay tax obligations and finance a Twitter deal.

Musk and his lawyer did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on his original Twitter post before his message that he had been joking. The Florida-based Glazer family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Jacobs storms to Euro 100m crown as Ingebrigtsen and Perkovic shine

Updated 17 August 2022

Jacobs storms to Euro 100m crown as Ingebrigtsen and Perkovic shine

  • In a heady night of track and field at a packed Olympic Stadium, the raucous crowd went wild as unheralded home favorite Gina Lueckenkemper pulled off a shock by winning the women’s blue riband sprint
  • There was also drama in the decathlon as Germany’s Niklas Kaul snatched gold from Swiss rival Simon Ehammer on the back of a monstrous 76.05m in the javelin and a personal best of 4:10.04 in the strength-sapping final 1500m

MUNICH: Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs put an injury-ravaged season behind him to storm to gold in the 100m gold in the European Athletics Championships in Munich on Tuesday.

Jacobs, who was world indoor 60m champion in Belgrade in March, but withdrew before the semifinals of the 100m at last month’s world championships in Oregon, clocked a championship record-equalling time of 9.95 seconds.

Defending champion Zharnel Hughes claimed silver in 9.99sec with another Briton, Jeremiah Azu, taking bronze in 10.13.

“This was a difficult season with problems, with injury,” said the 27-year-old Italian, who has been beset by leg injuries and who competed with a heavily-strapped left calf in Munich.

“My leg is not good and I am not happy about how the race went technically, there were some problems.

“But I am over the moon with the gold medal. After Olympic gold, I’ve now got the European gold. I’ve got to get the world championship gold now.”

In a heady night of track and field at a packed Olympic Stadium, the raucous crowd went wild as unheralded home favorite Gina Lueckenkemper pulled off a shock by winning the women’s blue riband sprint.

The 25-year-old, who won 100m silver in the last European champs in Berlin in 2018 and 200m bronze in 2016, threw herself at the line to clock 10.99sec for a photo-finish victory over Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji.

Britain’s Daryll Neita took bronze with 11.00sec, while her teammate, defending champion Dina Asher-Smith, pulled up with injury halfway through the race and finished last.

A trio of proven performers had earlier showed off their prowess in perfect, balmy conditions, retaining their titles in no little style. 

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen celebrates winning the men’s 5000m final during the European Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. (AFP)

First up was Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who dominated the 5,000m to keep a repeat double bid on track.

The 21-year-old, crowned world champion over the distance at last month’s worlds in Eugene, timed 13min 21.13sec.

“I believe in myself and I believe in the things I have done before. It was amazing here today, it was a great race to be a part of,” said Ingebrigtsen.

“It feels great to be back and win, it is special.”

Greece’s defending long jump champion Miltiadis Tentoglou, the reigning Olympic and world indoor champion who won world silver in Eugene, then set a championship record to retain his Euro title.

The Greek soared out to 8.52m on his fourth attempt, bettering the previous best of 8.47m set by Germany’s Christian Reif in Barcelona in 2010. 

Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic during the women’s discus throw final at the European Athletics Championships. (AFP)

Then came the turn of the doyenne of the women’s discus, Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic.

The 32-year-old Croat left it late, going out to a winning 67.95 meters on her fifth attempt for gold.

It was a record sixth successive European title, the two-time Olympic and world champion having first won the continental competition in Barcelona in 2010.

“I just won my sixth European title here at this beautiful stadium in front of this amazing crowds, so I am so happy and proud tonight,” said Perkovic.

“I knew I was ready to do it and I think the fight was nice.”

There was also drama in the decathlon as Germany’s Niklas Kaul snatched gold from Swiss rival Simon Ehammer on the back of a monstrous 76.05m in the javelin and a personal best of 4:10.04 in the strength-sapping final 1500m.

After also registering 11.16sec in the 100m, 7.10m in the long jump, 14.90m in the shot put, 2.02m in the high jump, 47.87sec in the 400m, 14.45sec in the 110m hurdles and 41.80m in the discus, Kaul was left with 8,545 points.

Ehammer had to be happy with silver, just 77pts behind, while Estonia’s Janek Oiglane claimed bronze (8,346).


Kyrgios overcomes tricky Davidovich Fokina in Cincinnati opener

Updated 17 August 2022

Kyrgios overcomes tricky Davidovich Fokina in Cincinnati opener

  • The Australian marched through with 29 winners — including 10 aces — and three breaks of the Spaniard’s serve to reach the second round

CINCINNATI: Nick Kyrgios began the last major US Open tune-up with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday at the ATP/WTA Cincinnati Masters.
The Australian marched through with 29 winners — including 10 aces — and three breaks of the Spaniard’s serve to reach the second round.
The 28th-ranked Kyrgios has won all 11 of his first-round matches this season and won his 22nd match since returning to the ATP in June after skipping the clay season.
He now faces good friend Taylor Fritz after the American crushed Sebastian Baez 6-1, 6-1.
“Physically, I didn’t feel the best, but you have to keep pushing, keep trying,” Kyrgios said.
“Alejandro’s a hell of a player, he’s got a lot of shots at his disposal. I had to serve well and dictate,” the Montreal quarter-finalist aded.
“It was tricky conditions out there, the courts are a lot more lively than Montreal, it was harder to control the ball.”
Kyrgios took 50 minutes to secure the first set, wrapping it up after a break in the penultimate game with back-to-back serve winners.
He went up an early break to start the second set but lost it three games later as the dissatisfied Australian kept up a frustrated gripe session with his three-strong support box as Davidovich Fokina made it 2-2.
Kyrgios struck straight back with a love break to regain control 3-2 and ran out the winner in 91 minutes on his second match point.
It marked a happy return to Cincinnati for Kyrgios, who was fined a record $113,000 during a spectacular meltdown at the tournament in 2019 when he smashed two racquets in the locker room in a loss to Karen Khachanov.
Kyrgios acknowledged his turbulent history at the tournament after Tuesday’s win.
“I’ve played some amazing tennis here and had some crazy outbursts,” he said.
“It’s a flip of the coin as to which Kyrgios shows up here.
“Hopefully this time around it’s just a calm, collected — I just want to have a good week before I continue on the good habits and give myself all the best for preparation for the US Open.
“I have been an emotional kind of tennis player my entire career. Ever since I picked up a racquet, my mum used to watch me throw tantrums and cry on the court and be emotional when I lost.
“That’s just me showing that I do care about the result — I think that’s important.


Pakistan beats the Netherlands by 16 runs in 1st ODI

Updated 17 August 2022

Pakistan beats the Netherlands by 16 runs in 1st ODI

  • Pakistan overcame a slow start and early loss of an opener to beat the Netherlands
  • Opener Fakhar Zaman led the recovery with 109 runs in 109 balls, including 12 fours and a six

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands: Pakistan overcame a slow start and early loss of an opener to beat the Netherlands by 16 runs in their first one-day international on Tuesday.

Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first. Only at 3-0 after four overs, it got worse for the visitors at 10-1 in six overs following Vivian Kingma's maiden wicket which claimed Imam-ul-Haq (2) leg before wicket on referral by the Netherlands.

Opener Fakhar Zaman led the recovery with 109 runs in 109 balls, including 12 fours and a six, before he was run out. Zaman and captain Babar Azam (74 in 85) shared a 168-run partnership for the second wicket, and Shadab Khan later smashed a 28-ball 48 not out as Pakistan posted a challenging total of 314-6.

Dutch pacer Bas de Leede took 2-42 in 10 overs.

In reply, the Netherlands came close with 298-8. Dutch captain Scott Edwards was not out on 71 in 60 balls. Opener Vikramjit Singh and No. 5 Tom Cooper both hit 65 runs each. Cooper scored at a much faster pace, needing 54 deliveries for his 65 compared to 98 balls for Singh.

Pakistan pacers Haris Rauf (3-67) and Naseem Shah (3-51) did most of the damage.

The second of three ODI matches is at Rotterdam on Thursday.


Juventus newcomer Di Maria sidelined by thigh injury

Updated 16 August 2022

Juventus newcomer Di Maria sidelined by thigh injury

  • Di Maria scored the opening goal in Monday's 3-0 win over Sassuolo in his first game for his new club
  • Juventus said scans showed Di Maria had suffered a "low-grade lesion" to his left thigh

ROME: Argentina winger Angel Di Maria faces a spell on the sidelines after picking up a thigh injury on his Juventus debut, the Serie A club said on Tuesday.
Di Maria scored the opening goal in Monday’s 3-0 win over Sassuolo in his first game for his new club after his move from Paris Saint-Germain.
The 34-year-old also set up Dusan Vlahovic for the second of his two goals but was substituted midway through the second half.
Juventus said scans showed Di Maria had suffered a “low-grade lesion” to his left thigh, adding that the injury would be re-evaluated in 10 days.
He will miss at least the next two league games against Sampdoria and Roma.
Juventus were already without Paul Pogba, who hurt his knee on a pre-season trip to the US after rejoining the Turin club following six years with Manchester United.
The France midfielder is undergoing a course of “conservative therapy” and could return in mid-September.