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Football star Salah included in top FIFA candidates list

NEW YORK: Bianca Andreescu displayed the same brand of big-serving, big-hitting, in-your-face tennis that Serena Williams usually does.And now the 19-year-old from Canada is a Grand Slam champion, earning her first such title while preventing Williams from collecting a record-tying 24th.Andreescu took charge early in the US Open final, going up by a set and…

Football star Salah included in top FIFA candidates list

NEW YORK: Bianca Andreescu displayed the same brand of big-serving, big-hitting, in-your-face tennis that Serena Williams usually does.And now the 19-year-old from Canada is a Grand Slam champion, earning her first such title while preventing Williams from collecting a record-tying 24th.Andreescu took charge early in the US Open final, going up by a set and two breaks, then held off a late charge by Williams to win 6-3, 7-5 for the championship Saturday night.“Being able to play on this stage against Serena, a true legend in this sport, is amazing,” said Andreescu, who was appearing in her first major final, while Williams was in her 33rd. “Oh, man, it wasn’t easy at all.”This is the second year in a row that Williams has lost in the final at Flushing Meadows. This one had none of the controversy of 2018, when she got into an extended argument with the chair umpire while being beaten by Naomi Osaka.Williams has now been the runner-up at four of the seven majors she has entered since returning to the tour after having a baby two years ago. The 37-year-old American remains stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one shy of Margaret Court’s mark for the most in history.“I’m just so proud that I’m out here and competing at this level. My team has been so supportive through all the ups and downs and downs and downs and downs,” Williams said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some ups soon.”Andreescu, the first player from Canada to win a major singles title, went up 5-1 in the second set and served for the victory there, even holding a match point at 40-30. But Williams erased that with a forehand return winner off a 105 mph serve.That launched a four-game run for Williams, who broke Andreescu again to make it 5-all.“I was just fighting at that point,” said Williams, a six-time US Open champion. “Just trying to stay out there a little bit longer.”The Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd was overwhelmingly supporting Williams, not surprisingly, and spectators got so loud as she tried to put together a successful comeback that Andreescu covered her ears with her hands after one point.“I just tried to block everything out,” Andreescu said afterward. “I’m just glad with how I managed, really.”Suddenly, this was a contest.Or so it seemed.But as well as Andreescu handled everything — herself, her far-more-experienced and successful opponent, and even the moment — Williams was far from her best, especially while serving. She got broken for the sixth time in the final game.This was the largest age gap in a Grand Slam final, and it came almost exactly 20 years to the day since Williams won the US Open for her first major title in 1999, a year before Andreescu was born.Andreescu is the first woman to win the trophy at Flushing Meadows in her main-draw tournament debut in the Open era, which started in 1968 when professionals were allowed into Grand Slam tournaments. She only has participated in four majors in her brief career.Just think: A year ago, Andreescu was losing in the opening round of qualifying.On Saturday, there she was, putting her hands on her head, dropping her racket and then pumping her fists when it ended. After a hug from a smiling Williams at the net, Andreescu kissed the blue court and rolled onto her back, soaking in the applause.About two hours earlier, the 15th-seeded Andreescu was standing in the hallway leading from the locker room to the court, doing a prematch interview in which she sounded like someone whose mind was as confident as her play would soon be, saying, “I’m just going to take it like it’s any other match.”She began the day with a 33-4 record in 2019, including 7-0 against top-10 opponents, and without a loss in a completed match since March 1. Andreescu missed a chunk of time in that span with a shoulder injury, which clearly is no longer hindering her.Andreescu took it to Williams, figuratively and literally. Andreescu produced the kind of power Williams is more accustomed to dishing out than dealing with from the other side of the net. One shot went right at Williams, who leaped to avoid the ball at the baseline.And Andreescu was fearless, always pushing, always aggressive, punctuating plenty of winners with cries of “Come on!” — the way Williams does — or “Let’s go!“Even her coin-toss choice showed just how bold she is: Andreescu opted to receive, a decision that at first glance might have seemed unusual, given that she was facing the woman generally regarded as the possessor of the greatest serve in the game, now or ever.On this day, though, it worked out. Williams double-faulted eight times in all, including three times on break point, part of her 33 unforced errors, nearly twice as many as Andreescu’s 17.There were other ways in which Williams was not at her best, seemingly unsure of herself, including one odd-looking check-swing on a backhand in the second set that then let Andreescu put a shot away to go up 4-1.When she was 16, Andreescu wrote herself a fake US Open winner’s check, part of her efforts to visualize success. Kept updating the amount of prize money as it rose in real life.On Saturday night, she really did get that champion’s check, to the tune of $3.85 million.

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Former Al-Ahli and Saudi national player becomes first Arab to coach Brazilian club

LONDON: Tottenham narrowly avoided an embarrassing home defeat to bottom club Watford on Saturday as Chelsea and Leicester leapfrogged champions Manchester City in the Premier League. With leaders Liverpool not in action until Sunday, it was a chance for the chasing pack to press their credentials for top-four spots.Chelsea’s Marcus Alonso broke the deadlock for…

Former Al-Ahli and Saudi national player becomes first Arab to coach Brazilian club

LONDON: Tottenham narrowly avoided an embarrassing home defeat to bottom club Watford on Saturday as Chelsea and Leicester leapfrogged champions Manchester City in the Premier League. With leaders Liverpool not in action until Sunday, it was a chance for the chasing pack to press their credentials for top-four spots.Chelsea’s Marcus Alonso broke the deadlock for Frank Lampard’s side at Stamford Bridge against Newcastle for a 1-0 win while Youri Tielemans sealed a 2-1 victory for Leicester at the King Power Stadium.But Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino saw his side labor to a 1-1 draw at home to Watford, following a 3-0 thrashing at Brighton and a humiliating 7-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich.Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.Tottenham got off to an awful start as they fell behind in the sixth minute, Abdoulaye Doucoure finishing superbly from Daryl Janmaat’s assist.Dele Alli grabbed a late leveller for Spurs with his first goal since January. There was major confusion as it appeared as if VAR had ruled out the effort, but it was allowed to stand.Leicester held a minute’s silence before kick-off to remember their late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who was killed in a helicopter crash at the stadium last October.Chris Wood put Burnley in front but Leicester’s in-form forward Jamie Vardy headed an equaliser just before half-time and Tielemans completed the turnaround with just over 15 minutes to go.

BACKGROUND

Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.Spurs, who reached the Champions League final in June, have now won just three of their opening 12 games in all competitions and appear unable to halt their slide.

Ahead of City’s match at Crystal Palace later on Saturday, Leicester were second in the Premier League table, seven points behind leaders Liverpool, while Chelsea, also on 17 points, were third.Matt Targett scored a goal deep into injury time as Aston Villa came back from 1-0 down to beat Brighton 2-1.Southampton took the lead against Wolves at Molineux, courtesy of a Danny Ings goal but Raul Jimenez hit back from the penalty spot just eight minutes later after Matt Doherty was brought down.Bournemouth drew 0-0 at home to Norwich.In the early kick-off on Saturday, Everton climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a well-deserved 2-0 victory against West Ham that eased the pressure on Marco Silva.A first-half goal from Brazil forward Bernard and a late second from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Everton the three points in a match in which they had 19 shots.”It was a fantastic performance,” Sigurdsson told BT Sport. “We had a lot of chances, especially in the second half. You never know when it’s 1-0 — you always want to get more.”They are dangerous going forward and their goalkeeper made some spectacular saves. I was pleased to come on and give us a bit of comfort. There was a real purpose to our game today.”Manchester City head to Crystal Palace in the late match on Saturday. Pep Guardiola left Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez out of his starting line-up but there was a place on the bench for defender John Stones after an injury lay-off.Liverpool travel to face struggling Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, chasing a record-equalling 18th consecutive Premier League win while Arsenal face Sheffield United on Monday.

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Yazeed Al-Rajhi claims narrow victory in Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Rally Qassim 2019

BURAIDAH, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi overcame a five-minute time penalty that had pushed him down to second place to recover, set the second fastest time and confirm victory in Rally Qassim 2019, the second round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, on Saturday. The Toyota Hilux driver was handed the time penalty…

Yazeed Al-Rajhi claims narrow victory in Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Rally Qassim 2019

BURAIDAH, Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi overcame a five-minute time penalty that had pushed him down to second place to recover, set the second fastest time and confirm victory in Rally Qassim 2019, the second round of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship, on Saturday.

The Toyota Hilux driver was handed the time penalty by race officials on Friday evening for receiving outside assistance in the stage after his driveshaft issue. That had lifted Yasir Seaidan into the lead at the restart, but the challenge to Al-Rajhi and Ulster co-driver Michael Orr came from Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi on the last day.

The Abu Dhabi Racing driver set the fastest time of 1hr 47min 4sec on the Al-Shamasiya stage in his Peugeot 2008 and he and French co-driver Xavier Panseri reached the finish a mere 10 seconds adrift of Al-Rajhi’s Toyota after an impressive drive.

“I am very happy to win Rally Qassim after the problems we had yesterday with the differential and losing a lot of time,” said Al-Rajhi.

“I enjoyed the rally very much. The organizers did a great job to put on the first edition of Rally Qassim. The number of competitors was very high, even more than some of the international rallies in this region.

“It was tough to lose so much time on Friday. It was difficult to get that time back today because the stages are flat out. I would also like to thank my strategic partner Toyota and Abdul Latif Jameel Motors. The Hilux was in its best place in the desert.”

Seaidan and Portuguese co-driver Paulo Fiuza had to settle for third place in their X-raid-built MINI All4 Racing after finishing the day’s special a little under four minutes behind Al-Qassimi.

Essa Al-Dossari and French co-driver Sebastien Delaunay reached the Buraidah finish in fourth overall on the new off-road event being organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) under the chairmanship of Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal.

Czech Miroslav Zapletal moved up to fifth in his Ford F-150 Evo, Khalid Al-Feraihi was sixth and Emirati Abdullah Al-Heraiz climbed to seventh in his Nissan when Ali Al-Kharraz lost time and slipped out of contention. The Nissan trio of Ahmed, Faris and Mutair Al-Shammeri rounded off the top 10.

The 11th-placed Yousef Al-Suwaidi confirmed the win in the T2 section for series production cross-country vehicles and Khalil Al-Tuwaijri won T3 and headed a Can-Am 1-2-3 in the category from Yousef Al-Dhaif and Saleh Al-Saif.

Saudi drifting supreme Saeed Al-Mouri teamed up with Lebanese co-driver Joseph Matar, but the Nissan driver was sidelined with overheating issues.

UAE rider Mohammed Al-Balooshi sealed victory in the motorcycle category with the second- fastest time on the last stage on his KTM 450 Rally. The success was the Emirati’s second in the space of a month after his recent win at the Jordan Baja.

Saudi rider Mishal Alghuneim finished second overall, 4min 1sec behind Al-Balooshi, after winning Saturday’s stage in a time of 2hr 30min 20sec. Kuwait’s Abdullah Al-Shatti had been awarded seven hours of time penalties for missing waypoints on Friday and he came in seventh. Emirati Abdulla Al-Dakhan and Saudi rider Abdullah Al-Helal finished third and fourth and Briton Anthony King was a distant eighth.

Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi sealed an emphatic victory in the quad section on his Yamaha with a final stage time of 2hr 42in 14sec. That gave the Saudi a winning margin of 1hr 43min 49sec over Riyadh Al-Oraifan. Sultan Al-Masoud made it a Yamaha 1-2-3, despite picking up 90 minutes of time penalties for missing waypoints.

Ibrahim Al-Muhanna teamed up with Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb to guide the sole Mercedes truck to the finish in the T4 category.

Rally Qassim 2019 ran with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sport Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group and Al-Arabia.

Rally Qassim 2019 – positions after SS3 (cars – unofficial @14.10hrs):

1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Michael Orr (GBR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 3hr 42min 14sec

2. Khalid Al-Qassimi (ARE)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Peugeot 2008 3hr 42min 24sec

3. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) MINI All4 Racing 3hr 44min 5sec

4. Essa Al-Dossari (SAU)/Sebastien Delaunay (FRA) Nissan Navara 3hr 53min 58sec

5. Miroslav Zapletal (CZE)/Marek Sykora (SVK) Ford F-150 Evo 4hr 4min 52sec

6. Khalid Al-Feraihi (SAU)/Stephane Duple (FRA) Nissan 4hr 5min 2sec

7. Abdullah Al-Huraiz (ARE)/Ali Hassan Obaid (ARE) Nissan Patrol 4hr 34min 26sec

8. Ahmed Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Ziad Al-Harbi (SAU) Nissan 4hr 46min 12sec

9. Faris Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Musa Djiyerian (JOR) Nissan 4hr 53min 19sec

10. Mutair Al-Shammeri (SAU)/Hani Al-Shammeri (SAU) Nissan 4hr 54min 15sec

Select others

11. Yousef Al-Suwaidi (SAU)/Saud Al-Tamimi (SAU) Nissan (T2) 5hr 1min 3sec

12. Khalil Al-Tuwaijri (SAU)/Waleed Al-Tuwaijri (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 2min 3sec

13. Yousef Al-Dhaif (SAU)/Pedro Santos (PRT) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 3min 52sec

14. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Muath Al-Arja (SAU) Can-Am Maverick X3 (T3) 5hr 4min 17sec

Rally Qassim 2019 – positions after SS3 (bikes — unofficial):

1. Mohammed Al-Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally 5hr 11min 11sec

2. Mishal Algunheim (SAU) KTM 5hr 15min 12sec

3. Abdullah Bin Dakhan (ARE) Yamaha 8hr 9min 8sec

4. Abdullah Al-Helal (SAU) Honda 9hr 35min 38sec

5. Waleed Al-Nahad (SAU) Honda 9hr 39min 37sec

Rally Qassim 2019 – positions after SS3 (quads — unofficial):

1. Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi (SAU) Yamaha 5hr 18min 43sec

2. Riyadh Al-Oraifan (SAU) Yamaha 7hr 2min 32sec

3. Sultan Al-Masoud (SAU) Yamaha 8hr 20min 45sec

4. Sufyan Al-Omar (SAU) Yamaha 8hr 47min 47sec

5. Abdulmajeed bin Sumaidie (SAU) Yamaha 9hr 23min 1sec, etc

Rally Qassim 2019 – positions after SS3 (truck — unofficial):

1. Ibrahim Al-Muhanna/Osama Al-Sanad/Raed Abo Theeb (SAU) Mercedes 6hr 43min 33sec

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Dakar Rally stars gear up for ‘thrilling’ Saudi race challenge

RIYADH: Dakar Rally drivers are gearing up for a “thrilling and exciting” challenge when the world-famous desert race is staged in Saudi Arabia for the first time next year.The Kingdom will host the event from Jan. 5 to 17, 2020 with top racers from around the globe traveling thousands of kilometers through inhospitable terrain in…

Dakar Rally stars gear up for ‘thrilling’ Saudi race challenge

RIYADH: Dakar Rally drivers are gearing up for a “thrilling and exciting” challenge when the world-famous desert race is staged in Saudi Arabia for the first time next year.The Kingdom will host the event from Jan. 5 to 17, 2020 with top racers from around the globe traveling thousands of kilometers through inhospitable terrain in cars, trucks and on quad bikes and motorcycles.The rally will begin in Jeddah and follow a tough route through desert, sand dunes and mountainous areas taking in NEOM, the Red Sea Project, Riyadh and Qiddiya.French driver Stéphane Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the Dakar Rally, revealed that he was initially surprised to hear that the competition had been moved from Africa to Saudi Arabia.“However, after doing some research, I realized that Saudi Arabia was a very wonderful and suitable country for the rally. It has different terrain types, and I expect us to have a perfect track. The vast desert gives me hope that the 2020 Saudi Dakar Rally will be more thrilling and exciting than Africa,” he said.Five-time Dakar Rally winner and fellow French driver, Cyril Despres, said that racing in Saudi Arabia would be a new adventure that could only be experienced by those who lived up to its challenges.“When I heard that the Dakar Rally was moving for the first time to the Middle East, I remembered the words of its founder, Thierry Sabine, who said that if you liked exploring the African continent, you would also love exploring other parts of the world,” he added.

Positive moveBritish rally raid motorcycle rider, Sam Sunderland, who won his category in the 2017 Dakar Rally, said he was delighted to be participating in the Saudi race. “I believe that this change is good, as I have lived in Dubai for 10 years, having adapted well to the Middle East’s atmosphere.

When I heard that the Dakar Rally was moving for the first time to the Middle East, I remembered the words of its founder, Thierry Sabine, who said that if you liked exploring the African Continent, you would also love exploring other parts of the world.

Cyril Despres, French driver

“Exploring a new area is a positive move for the Dakar Rally, and I am certain that everyone who practices this sport is excited to explore a new ground for racing,” Sunderland added.ED Racing Team driver, Issa Al-Dossari, said the main reason he had taken part in Rally Qassim was to prepare for the Dakar challenge.“We will be using two cars in the rally. We look forward to raising the level of preparedness for many coming global events. But this does not mean that we will not compete for the top places.”Al-Dossari invited sports fans to visit the team’s headquarters at Date City to see equipment and meet its members.The team must participate in two different cars, the first driven by Al-Dossari with his French navigator Sébastien Delaunay, and the second with Emirati Abdallah Al-Huraiz behind the wheel and Ali Hassan navigating.The first stage of Rally Qassim began on Friday in Umm Sidra covering a distance of 170 km, with stage two raced over 200 km.Meanwhile, entry registrations for the Dakar Rally are still open in all categories at https://www.dakar.com/en/the-competitors/register.

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