Fritz to meet Medvedev in the final of the Diriyah Tennis Cup

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev has enjoyed his Diriyah Tennis Cup streak. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 December 2022
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Fritz to meet Medvedev in the final of the Diriyah Tennis Cup

  • Defending champion Medvedev had to grind out a win against three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka in the semifinal

RIYADH: Defending champion Daniil Medvedev and world No. 10 Taylor Fritz will compete in the final at the Diriyah Tennis Cup presented by Aramco. The pair enjoyed semifinal wins over Stan Wawrinka and Cameron Norrie respectively on Friday at the Diriyah Arena and will now battle it out for the $1 million prize money.

In the day’s early match, world No. 7 Medvedev had to grind out a win against three-time Grand Slam winner Wawrinka. It was only in the ninth game in the first set that the Russian finally managed to break Wawrinka’s serve to finish the set 6-4. There were several serve breaks in the second set by both players, but after an hour and 21 minutes, the 25-year-old finished the game with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Wawrinka to maintain his phenomenal unbeaten run in Saudi Arabia.

Medvedev has enjoyed his Diriyah Tennis Cup streak.

“I have one more match to play tomorrow (Saturday) to be the two-times champion, but I liked the conditions of the weather in the desert, you know, I think the conditions are not easy to play because it’s windy but I like it which I benefit from it to win,” Medvedev told Arab News.

“When I go on court, I always think only about winning, and that’s how it is going to be tomorrow also, and that’s what I’m going to try to do, and we’ll see. I hope to show some good tennis when I go on court tomorrow,” he said in a post match press conference that saw 20 children from the Dhahran Junior Tennis Association attend as special guests.

It was an even closer encounter in the other semifinal between Fritz and Norrie, which went down to the third and final set. Nothing separated the pair in the first, leading to the match’s first tiebreak, where Fritz came out on top 6-4. The second set then went in Norrie’s favour after an early break and commanding performance by the British No. 1. In the third set tiebreaker, the American found an edge on the big points to book his place in the final.

On playing Medvedev in the final, he said: “With playing Daniil, it’s really tough. I haven’t really thought about it much. I’m just going to do the same thing that I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. Get a good night’s sleep. Maybe take a nap tomorrow; I’m still dealing with a little bit of jetlag. And hopefully, serve really well like I did in the last two days.”

In Saudi Arabia’s inaugural doubles competition, Matteo Berrettini and Andrey Rublev will take on Hubert Hurkacz and Dominic Stricker for the doubles title tomorrow.

Berrettini and Rublev proved too good for the pairing of Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem in a straight sets (6-3, 7-6) semifinal that saw the pair gel immediately.

Berrettini, competing on the same side of the court with Rublev for the first time, said: “It was really good. It’s the first time we played together in doubles, and I think we played really well. We have the same weapons in a way — a very big forehand — but we tried to make it work, and I think we made it work well.“

The second doubles semifinal saw Hurkacz and Stricker take on a exciting new pairing of Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas. In a high-quality encounter that went to two tie-breaks it was Hurkacz and Stricker who held their nerve in the tricky evening wind to book their spot in tomorrow’s $250,000 doubles final 7-6, 7-6.

On the win, Stricker said: “It was great to play with Hubert. We’ve already played singles. It was a great experience, and I’m happy with the win. But tomorrow is another day. I think we’re going to try our best to win another match.”

Semifinal Results:

Daniil Medvedev beat Stan Wawrinka (6-4, 6-4)

Taylor Fritz beat Cameron Norrie (7-6, 4-6, 10-6)

Andrey Rublev & Matteo Berrettini beat Alexander Zverev & Dominic Thiem (6-3, 7-6)

Dominic Stricker & Hubert Hurkacz beat Nick Kyrgios & Stefanos Tsitsipas (7-6, 7-6)

The Diriyah Tennis Cup presented by Aramco will conclude on Saturday with the finals of both the singles and doubles categories. There will also be an exhibition match that will feature the Saudi Games finalists, legends of the game, and more.    

Singles Final

Daniil Medvedev v Taylor Fritz

Doubles Final

Andrey Rublev & Matteo Berretini v Dominic Stricker & Hubert Hurkacz


Spanish football presidency favorite to be investigated in graft case

Updated 4 sec ago
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Spanish football presidency favorite to be investigated in graft case

The judge suspended Rocha’s statement and made him an investigated party in the graft case.
Rubiales, who was briefly detained by police on his arrival in Spain on April 3 as part of the probe after he arrived from the Dominican Republic, is due to testify on April 29

MADRID: Pedro Rocha’s chances of succeeding the disgraced Luis Rubiales as Spanish football federation (RFEF) president have been placed in doubt after being placed under investigation in the alleged graft scandal which has rocked Spain’s football elite.
Rocha, seen as favorite to fill the post, appeared in court on the outskirts of Madrid on Friday as a witness in the case in which Rubiales is being investigated.
However, the judge suspended Rocha’s statement and made him an investigated party in the graft case.
“(The judge) has agreed this morning to change the procedural status of Pedro Rocha from witness to investigated party,” said the court in a statement.
“The classification of the alleged crimes is yet to be defined, as well as the date of his next statement.”
Rubiales, who was briefly detained by police on his arrival in Spain on April 3 as part of the probe after he arrived from the Dominican Republic, is due to testify on April 29.
Rocha, who moved up from vice president to become interim president after Rubiales resigned last year, seemed poised to replace him officially as president as soon as Monday.
Spanish media have reported the two other candidates, Carlos Herrera and Eva Parera, have been unable to collect the minimum of 21 endorsements necessary from RFEF assembly members, while he has 107.
In March Spanish police searched 11 locations, including the RFEF’s Madrid headquarters and Rubiales’ house in Granada as part of the investigation into corruption and other crimes.
Federation contracts signed since 2018 are being investigated including one by Rubiales to take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.
The Super Cup contracts are worth 40 million euros a year ($43 million) with the deal brokered by Kosmos, a company owned by former Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Pique.
Rubiales was forced to step down as RFEF boss in September after forcibly kissing Women’s World Cup star Jenni Hermoso following Spain’s triumph in the Sydney final in August.

Night of action in Abu Dhabi as UFC 308 confirmed for October date

Updated 12 April 2024
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Night of action in Abu Dhabi as UFC 308 confirmed for October date

  • Showdown Week set to return to the UAE capital

ABU DHABI: The much-anticipated mixed martial arts championship event UFC 308 is scheduled for Abu Dhabi on Oct. 26 at the Etihad Arena, Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Department of Culture and Tourism have announced.

The event is part of Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, which is set to return to the UAE capital for seven days of city-wide offerings including dedicated fan events, concerts and hotel promotions.

The return to Abu Dhabi for UFC 308 will mark the 19th UFC event in the UAE and the second this year following fight night on Aug. 3.

The events are the result of the partnership between UFC and DCT Abu Dhabi.

Saleh Al-Geziry, director general for tourism at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “Over the past five years the UAE capital has staged unforgettable fights and witnessed the rise of champions, leaving an everlasting memory for fans around the region and the world.”


Pelicans close in on sixth seed as Knicks stun Celtics

Updated 12 April 2024
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Pelicans close in on sixth seed as Knicks stun Celtics

  • The result means New Orleans will clinch sixth place in the West — and avoid the play-in tournament — if they win their final two games
  • Sacramento’s defeat left them in eighth place in the West on 45-35 — an identical record to ninth-placed Golden State and the 10th-placed Lakers

LOS ANGELES: The New Orleans Pelicans boosted their hopes of securing an automatic playoff berth on Thursday with a 135-123 road victory over the Sacramento Kings.

In a crucial Western Conference battle in northern California, Zion Williamson and C.J. McCollum both finished with 31 points as the Pelicans completed an impressive wire-to-wire win.

The result means New Orleans will clinch sixth place in the West — and avoid the play-in tournament — if they win their final two games, at Golden State on Friday and against the Los Angeles Lakers at home on Sunday.

The Pelicans were always in control after a devastating first-quarter performance where they raced into a 34-11 lead at one stage after an 18-0 run.

“Throw the first punch to the last punch, and go out on our shield,” McCollum said of New Orleans’ aggressive first-quarter approach.

“Understand the work, understand the preparation, have fun with it and just enjoy the blessing of being able to play this game at a high level,” McCollum added.

Sacramento’s defeat left them in eighth place in the West on 45-35 — an identical record to ninth-placed Golden State and the 10th-placed Lakers, meaning the final standings are likely to go down to the wire.

Golden State improved to 45-35 after laboring past the eliminated Portland Trail Blazers 100-92 in Oregon.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors scoring with 22 points with Jonathan Kuminga adding 19.

Eastern Conference top seeds Boston slumped to their second straight loss with a 118-109 home defeat to the New York Knicks at the TD Garden.

Knicks star Jalen Brunson finished with 39 points to continue his dazzling run of recent form. The Knicks guard has now scored 35 points or more in his last five outings.

Brunson’s latest virtuoso effort included six three-pointers in a 15-of-23 shooting performance from the field.

The Knicks are third in the Eastern Conference with a 48-32 record, one game behind second-placed Milwaukee (49-31) with two games of the regular season remaining.

Boston (62-18) were subjected to a smattering of boos from their home fans at the final buzzer, and Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis had no complaints with the crowd’s response.

“We got booed at the end for a reason,” Porzingis said. “This was not the team that our fans love. But best believe we’re going to show up when we need to.

“We’ve got a week of work now ahead of us, a couple of games to bounce back and time to get going on all cylinders.”

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla shrugged off his team’s second straight loss, saying that a drop-off in intensity was inevitable once Boston had secured the top seeding in the postseason.

“I actually don’t mind the result of the last two games,” Mazzulla said. “Going into the postseason with a bunch of wins and feeling good about yourself isn’t necessarily any better than going in with a bloody lip.”

In other games, the Chicago Bulls romped past the Detroit Pistons 127-105 after 39 points from DeMar DeRozan and 27 points from Nikola Vucevic, ensuring they will now face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the play-in tournament next week.

In the day’s other fixture, between two already eliminated teams, the Utah Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets 124-121.


Djokovic, Sinner into Monte Carlo quarters as Medvedev rages

Updated 12 April 2024
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Djokovic, Sinner into Monte Carlo quarters as Medvedev rages

  • Djokovic: I don’t think I am still at my top level but it was a great test today against a great player, a very talented player
  • De Minaur moved into the last eight with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against fellow Australian Alexei Popyrin

MONTE CARLO: Novak Djokovic avenged last year’s Monte Carlo Masters defeat by Lorenzo Musetti to reach the quarterfinals Thursday along with Jannik Sinner, while Daniil Medvedev launched into a furious tirade during his defeat.

World No. 1 Djokovic made a poor start and endured a second-set wobble before coming through 7-5, 6-3 against the 24th-ranked Musetti, the man who beat him at the same stage 12 months ago.

“I don’t think I am still at my top level but it was a great test today against a great player, a very talented player,” Djokovic said.

“I am really glad to overcome the challenge and look forward to the next one.”

Djokovic goes on to play Alex de Minaur, the 11th seed from Australia, in the last eight.

The Serbian top seed dropped serve in the opening game against Musetti before working his way back to level at 4-4, and then snatched the set on a double fault by his opponent.

Djokovic broke twice early in the second set either side of losing his own serve to surge 4-1 ahead. Musetti clawed back to within a game but Djokovic broke again for 5-3 before closing out the win.

Djokovic has struggled to find his best form in recent times in Monte Carlo. He has not won the tournament since the last of his two titles in 2015, failing to advance beyond the quarter-finals in seven subsequent appearances.

Australian Open champion Sinner improved his record to 24-1 this season with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jan-Lennard Struff.

The world No. 2 broke at 4-4 en route to pocketing the first set and won nine of the final 11 games to sweep to victory.

“I broke him quite early and then he broke me back. I knew it was going to be really tough, but I guess I returned really well, especially on second serves. I can be very happy,” said Sinner.

Sinner next faces Holger Rune who defeated the Italian in the semifinals last year before finishing runner-up to Andrey Rublev.

Rune made the last eight after a three-hour 30-minute 7-6 (11/9), 3-6, 7-6 (7/2) win over Grigor Dimitrov, saving two match points in the 12th game of the deciding set.

“It was a great match,” said Rune. “I thought I played a very good first set, it was very long, one-and-a-half hours. So it was tough physically.”

Like Dimitrov, Rune had earlier completed a rain-delayed third round clash.

“I had a match earlier today which was two sets, so I played five sets today actually, which is pretty brutal,” added the Dane.

Medvedev tore into the officiating for the second day running as he was beaten 6-3, 7-5 by Karen Khachanov.

Medvedev was hit with a point penalty to start the final game after berating chair umpire Carlos Bernardes and then became embroiled in a heated discussion with the tournament supervisor.

The world No. 4 had already been warned after hurling his racquet when he double-faulted to lose his service game and leave Khachanov a game away from victory.

Medvedev, who took issue with two line calls in his second-round win on Wednesday, felt aggrieved when a Khachanov forehand was not called out during a rally that resulted in the latter earning two break points at 5-5.

The arrival of the physio to treat a finger bleed at the ensuing changeover tipped Medvedev over the edge, with the Russian yelling “did I ask for the physio!” at the umpire.

He then demanded of the supervisor “who will take responsibility?” for the decisions.

Television replays appeared to show the shot in question from Khachanov had landed wide of the court.

“It’s second day in a row. Guys, open your eyes. Do something. It’s out,” raged Medvedev.

“The mark is out. They don’t know how to referee anymore. Who will take action?

“Yesterday the ball is out, it’s called in. Who will take action. This ball is out there. Who will take responsibility? It’s not my responsibility to referee the matches.

“It’s this guy in the glasses (the line judge). He doesn’t need glasses because he doesn’t see anything. He should not be a referee.”

Khachanov’s reward is a quarterfinal Friday against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who saw off fifth seed Alexander Zverev 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).

De Minaur moved into the last eight with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against fellow Australian Alexei Popyrin.


Atalanta stun Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield, Leverkusen beat West Ham 2-0 in Europa League

Updated 12 April 2024
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Atalanta stun Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield, Leverkusen beat West Ham 2-0 in Europa League

  • The loss damages Liverpool’s hopes of a treble of trophies in manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield
  • Bayer Leverkusen got late goals from substitutes Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface to top West Ham 2-0 and extend their unbeaten streak to 42 games

Gianluca Scamacca struck twice as visiting Atalanta upset Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals on Thursday.

The loss damages Liverpool’s hopes of a treble of trophies in manager Jurgen Klopp’s final season at Anfield.

The Italian visitors went into the break up 1-0 after Scamacca got a low drive past goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher in the 38th minute.

Klopp sent on Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andy Robertson as substitutes for the second half, but Scamacca netted again after Charles De Ketelaere fed him at the far post on the hour mark.

Mario Pasalic finished the scoring seven minutes from time.

Atalanta won at Anfield 2-0 in the group stage of the Champions League in 2020.

Liverpool won the English League Cup and are in a tight Premier League title race with Arsenal and Manchester City. Klopp’s team were eliminated from the FA Cup in the quarterfinals.

The lackluster display Thursday might turn out to be Klopp’s final European game at Anfield. The team needs a big comeback in Bergamo to stay alive.

If Liverpool reaches the Europa League final in Dublin on May 22, it would be Klopp’s final game in charge after nearly nine years.

Bayer Leverkusen got late goals from substitutes Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface to top West Ham 2-0 and extend their unbeaten streak to 42 games in a season that can also end up with a treble of trophies.

Hofmann netted on a rebound in the 83rd before Boniface clinched a well-deserved victory with a header in stoppage time.

With a 16-point lead atop the Bundesliga, Xabi Alonso’s team are on course to clinch their first-ever league title and have reached the German Cup final.

In an all-Italian matchup, Gianluca Mancini headed in a winner off a corner kick from Paulo Dybala to upset AC Milan 1-0 at San Siro.

Mancini also scored the lone goal in the Italian capital derby against Lazio on Saturday in Serie A.

It was the first win for Roma over Milan since October 2019.

Milan, the seven-time European champions, have never won the second-tier Europa League or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup.

Milan have never even reached the final — something Roma achieved twice, losing both in 1991 and last year.

Rafa Silva and veteran forward Angel Di Maria scored in each half for Benfica to beat Marseille 2-1. In an encounter of two former European champions. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back for Marseille, who lost their fifth straight game in all competitions.

Aubameyang has 24 goals this season in total.

The second-leg games will be played next week.

EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE

Kostas Fortounis scored and provided an assist to help Olympiakos beat Fenerbahce 3-2 in the first leg of the Europa Conference League quarterfinals on Thursday.

Olympiakos built a 3-0 lead in Piraeus and held on after the Turkish team fought back with two second-half goals.

Fortounis opened the scoring after just eight minutes, netting his fifth goal of the European campaign. He then set up Stevan Jovetić to double the lead before halftime.

Chiquinho made it 3-0 with a precise low drive approaching the hour mark before Dusan Tadic pulled one back from the penalty spot and İrfan Can Kahveci added the second for Fenerbahce.

Olympiakos is one of the two Greek teams in the last eight hoping to reach a home final in Athens.

The other, PAOK, lost 1-0 at Club Brugge.

Ollie Watkins and captain John McGinn scored early in each half to secure a 2-1 win for Aston Villa over Lille for manager Unai Emery, who claimed the Europa League on four occasions — three times with Sevilla and once with Villarreal.

Viktoria Plzen held last year’s runner-up Fiorentina to a 0-0 draw in what was the first European quarterfinal for the Czech club, which hasn’t conceded a goal for seven straight games in the third-tier competition.

As Fiorentina looked in control in the second half, the match was interrupted for several minutes because of flares that its fans threw onto the pitch.