Perfect Nadal, battling Swiatek into US Open fourth round

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Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a win against Richard Gasquet of France during their match on Day Six of the 2022 US Open on Sept. 03, 2022 in New York City. (AFP)
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Poland's Iga Swiatek hits a return to USA's Lauren Davis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Sept. 3, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 04 September 2022
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Perfect Nadal, battling Swiatek into US Open fourth round

NEW YORK: Rafael Nadal defeated close friend Richard Gasquet for the 18th time to reach the US Open fourth round on Saturday as world number one Iga Swiatek made the last 16 for a second successive year.
Four-time champion Nadal took his record over Gasquet to a perfect 18-0 with a 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 victory to stay on course for a 23rd Grand Slam title.
Nadal has now won 34 straight sets against Frenchman Gasquet who he first played as a junior.
Next up for Australian and French Open champion is 22nd seed Frances Tiafoe for a place in the quarter-finals.
“He’s a great player, he’s very charismatic, very fast,” said Nadal of the American.
Tiafoe made the last 16 for a third successive year by seeing off Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-4.
The 36-year-old Nadal showed no ill effects of the bloodied nose he suffered when he accidentally bounced his racquet into his face in the second round.
“It’s a little bit bigger than usual but it’s okay,” he joked.

Carlos Alcaraz, widely-regarded as Nadal’s Grand Slam heir apparent, claimed a season-leading 47th win despite breaking one of his shoes.
The 19-year-old third seed defeated Jenson Brooksby of the United States 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on the back of 46 winners.




Spain's Carlos Alcaraz hits a return to USA's Jenson Brooksby during their 2022 US Open Tennis tournament match in New York on Sept. 3, 2022. (AFP)

Alcaraz, a quarter-finalist in 2021, managed to break one of his tennis shoes as he slid to reach a ball mid-match.
“It’s the third time that I have done this. As you can see, I do a lot of sliding,” he said.
Alcaraz next faces 2014 champion Marin Cilic who fired 26 aces and 74 winners in total past Britain’s Dan Evans in a 7-6 (13/11), 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 7-5 win.
British seventh seed Cameron Norrie made the fourth round for the first time with a comfortable 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 win over Danish teenager Holger Rune.
He next faces Russian ninth seed Andrey Rublev who needed five match points to see off Canada’s Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 7-6 (10/7).
World number one Swiatek downed unseeded Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-4.
Swiatek came back from 1-4 down in the second set to reel off five successive games against the American who called a medical time out in the first set to have her blood pressure taken.
The 21-year-old Pole will face either Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen or Jule Niemeier of Germany for a place in the quarter-finals.
Petra Kvitova downed ninth-seeded Garbine Muguruza after saving two match points.
Kvitova came through 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (12/10) and will take on Jessica Pegula of the United States for a quarter-final place.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova said she had drawn inspiration from Serena Williams when the American legend saved five match points before eventually being eliminated on Friday.
“I watched Serena and it was amazing how she was saving match points, so I tried to do the same today,” said two-time US Open quarter-finalist Kvitova.
Muguruza’s defeat, her sixth in seven meetings against the Czech, left only four of the top 10 women’s seeds in the tournament.
Sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka, who made the semifinals in 2021, brushed aside French qualifier Clara Burel, 6-0, 6-2 in just 68 minutes.
Pegula, the eighth seed, ended the run of Chinese qualifier Yuan Yue, 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-0.
Three-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka eased past Petra Martic 6-3, 6-0 to set up a last-16 clash with 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova who downed Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.


Rohit says India-Pakistan Test cricket would be ‘awesome’

Updated 30 min 38 sec ago
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Rohit says India-Pakistan Test cricket would be ‘awesome’

  • South Asian neighbors are bitter political adversaries, have not faced off in Test since 2007
  • They play only occasionally in shorter versions of game usually on neutral territory 

NEW DELHI: India captain Rohit Sharma has thrown his support behind any resumption of Test cricket against arch-rivals Pakistan, saying it would be “awesome.”
The South Asian neighbors are bitter political adversaries and have fought three wars against each other since they were partitioned at the end of British colonial rule in 1947.
Their cricket teams have not faced off in a Test since 2007. Instead they play only occasionally in the shorter versions of the game and usually on neutral territory in international tournaments.
Rohit appeared Thursday on a YouTube chat show hosted by former captains Adam Gilchrist of Australia and Michael Vaughan of England.
Asked by Vaughan if playing Pakistan in a Test series would be beneficial for the five-day game, Rohit said: “I totally believe that.”
“They are a good team, superb bowling line-up, good contest. Especially if you play in overseas conditions, that will be awesome,” added the 36-year-old.
“I would love to. It would be a great contest between two sides... so why not?“
Australia has said it would be prepared to host a series between the rivals.
India and Pakistan have not faced each other on either side’s soil in a bilateral series since 2012.
India last year refused to travel to Pakistan for the white-ball Asia Cup, prompting part of the tournament to be staged in Sri Lanka.
They last met at the 50-over World Cup in India in October.


Pakistan aims to agree outline of new IMF loan in May — finance minister

Updated 37 min 59 sec ago
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Pakistan aims to agree outline of new IMF loan in May — finance minister

  • Current $3 billion arrangement with IMF runs out in late April 
  • Pakistan is seeking longer and bigger loan of at least $6 billion

WASHINGTON: Pakistan hopes to agree the contours of a new International Monetary Fund loan in May, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb told Reuters, and has kicked off talks with ratings agencies to lay the groundwork for a return to international debt markets.
The country’s current $3 billion arrangement with the fund runs out in late April and the government is seeking a longer and bigger loan to help bring permanence to macroeconomic stability as well as an umbrella under which the country can execute much needed structural reforms, the minister said.
“We expect the IMF mission to be in Islamabad around the middle of May — and that is when some of these contours will start developing,” said Aurangzeb, who met with the Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings.
He declined to outline what size program the government hoped to secure, though Pakistan is expected to seek at least $6 billion. Aurangzeb added that once the IMF loan was agreed, Pakistan would also request additional financing from the Fund under the Resilience and Sustainability Trust.
The struggling South Asian nation had managed to accumulate foreign exchange reserves in recent months and was on track for its war chest to hit $10 billion — or roughly two months import cover — by end-June.
The debt situation also looked more benign, Aurangzeb said.
“The bulk of our bilateral debt — including our China debt — is being rolled over, so in that sense I think we are in good shape and I don’t see a big issue during this fiscal year nor next fiscal year, cause we need to repay roughly $25 billion dollars every fiscal year.”
Pakistan also hopes to come back to international capital markets, possibly with a green bond. However, there was some more work to be done before that happens, said Aurangzeb.
“We have to come back into a certain ratings environment,” he said, having kicked off talks with ratings agencies, adding the government was hoping to get an improvement in its sovereign rating in the next fiscal year.
“In all likelihood, any international capital markets issuance will likely be in the 2025/2026 fiscal year.”


Qatar beat Jordan to reach last eight of 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup

Updated 19 April 2024
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Qatar beat Jordan to reach last eight of 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup

  • A last-gasp 2-1 win leaves the hosts on six points from two matches in Group A of the tournament

DOHA: A stoppage time winner saw hosts Qatar defeat Jordan 2-1 on Thursday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup.

Qatar took the lead through Abdulla Al-Yazidi on 40 minutes, but Jordan equalized seven minutes into the second half thanks to Aref Al-Haj’s spot kick.

The match looked to be heading for a draw when Mohamed Al-Manai scored 14 minutes into stoppage time to break Jordanian hearts. The win Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Al-Rayyan made Qatar the first team to secure a spot in the last eight.

Qatar now sit top of Group A with a maximum six points from two matches. Earlier in the day, Indonesia beat Australia 1-0 at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha and are currently second in the table with three points. Jordan and Australia are third and fourth respectively with one point apiece.

Saudi Arabia return to action against Thailand on Friday before facing Iraq in their final Group C match on Monday (April 22).

The U23 Asian Cup, which runs until May 3, is also a route to this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

The competition sees 16 nations split into four groups of four teams, with the top two from each progressing to the quarterfinals. The winners of both semifinals automatically qualify for the Olympics, regardless who wins the final.

The two losing semifinalists will contest third place, with the winners also booking a spot in Paris. The fourth-place finishers have one final chance with a play-off against an African qualifier.


Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Karachi 

Updated 19 April 2024
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Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Karachi 

  • Van attacked while heading to industrial area where five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors
  • Insurgents have recently targeted Chinese working on projects relating to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

KARACHI: Five Japanese workers narrowly escaped on Friday after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vest near the van carrying them to their workplace, police said.
The Hiace van was on its way to an industrial area where the five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors, according to local police chief Arshad Awan.
Police escorting the vehicle returned fire after coming under attack, killing an accomplice of the suicide bomber whose remains were found from the scene of the attack, he added. Three bystanders were wounded. 
“All the Japanese who were the target of the attack are safe,” Awan told media. 
Television footage on local news channels widely showed a damaged van, as police officers arrived at the scene of the attack. Awan said the three passersby who were wounded in the attack were in stable condition at a hospital.
Police were escorting the van after receiving reports about possible attacks on foreigners who are working in Pakistan on various Chinese-funded and other projects, said Tariq Mastoi, a senior police officer. He said a timely and quick response from the guards and police foiled the attack and both attackers were killed.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the incident, according to a statement posted on X.
“Timely action by the police saved us from any major loss of life,” he said. “We will not rest until terrorism has been completely eradicated. We will thwart every nefarious act of disturbing the law and order situation.”
Murad Ali Shah, the chief minister of Sindh, of which Karachi is the provincial capital, directed the inspector general to submit a report after investigating the attack, including details on who the attackers were, where they came from, any information on their facilitators and details of explosives used in the blast.
He directed that immediate arrangements be made for the security of all foreigners in the province. 
“Anti-national elements want to disrupt law and order, which will not be allowed at any cost,” the CM said, praising what he called timely action of the police in thwarting the attack.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on a small separatist group or the Pakistani Taliban who have stepped up attacks on security forces.
In recent weeks, insurgents have also targeted Chinese who are working in Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes a multitude of megaprojects such as road construction, power plants and agriculture.
In March, five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed when a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle when they were heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.
However, Japanese working in Pakistan have not been the target of any such attacks.
With inputs from AP


Saudi deputy defense minister discusses security cooperation proposals with Pakistan army chief

Updated 19 April 2024
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Saudi deputy defense minister discusses security cooperation proposals with Pakistan army chief

  • Al-Otaibi arrived in Pakistan earlier this week to finalize defense-related bilateral projects
  • Saudi official participates in the Fifth Meeting of Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Talal Bin Abdullah Bin Turki Al-Otaibi called on Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen Syed Asim Munir on Friday and discussed defense collaboration projects, the Pakistani military said on Friday. 
Al-Otaibi arrived in Pakistan earlier this week to finalize defense-related bilateral projects, according to the Pakistani defense ministry. His visit follows on the heels of a two-day visit to Islamabad by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, aimed at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and pushing forward previously agreed investment deals. Pakistan has said it pitched investment projects worth$30 billion to Riyadh during Prince Faisal’s visit.
“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest and measures to further enhance bilateral defense collaboration including defense production and military training were discussed,” the Pakistan army statement said. 
“COAS affirmed Pakistan Army’s continuing support toward capacity building of Royal Saudi Land Forces.
“Both sides reiterated their resolve to solidify the efforts in defense collaboration with focused approach to target specific capabilities in land, air and sea domains. In this context, concrete proposals were deliberated by the forum to meet tangible objectives within specific timelines.”

In this handout photo, taken and released by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Public Relations on April 19, 2024, Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Talal Bin Abdullah Bin Turki Al-Otaibi attends Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration meeting, co-chaired by Chief of General Staff Pakistan Army, during his visit to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. (Photo courtesy: ISPR)

Al-Otaibi also participated in the Fifth Meeting of Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration at the Pakistan army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi. 
The forum discussed challenges to global and regional security and noted that rapid advancements in modern technologies “necessitated defense industrial cooperation in critical capabilities between the two brotherly countries.”
“The visiting dignitary acknowledged Pakistan Army’s achievements and sacrifices in war against terrorism and Army’s valuable contributions toward regional peace and stability,” the army’s statement said. 
Pakistan maintains close military ties with Saudi Arabia, providing extensive support, arms, and training to the Saudi armed forces. 
Since the 1970s, Pakistani soldiers have been stationed in Saudi Arabia to protect the Kingdom and Pakistan has also been providing training to Saudi soldiers and pilots. The two nations also regularly carry out multidimensional joint ventures and defense exercises.