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Tsitsipas ousts Nadal, seals final match against top-ranked Djokovic in Madrid Open

Tsitsipas ousts Nadal, seals final match against top-ranked Djokovic in Madrid Open MADRID: For the third straight time this season, Rafael Nadal won’t be fighting for a title on his favorite surface.Nadal’s slump on clay continued on Saturday at the Madrid Open with a third consecutive semifinal elimination, adding to his worst start to the…

Tsitsipas ousts Nadal, seals final match against top-ranked Djokovic in Madrid Open

Tsitsipas ousts Nadal, seals final match against top-ranked Djokovic in Madrid Open

MADRID: For the third straight time this season, Rafael Nadal won’t be fighting for a title on his favorite surface.Nadal’s slump on clay continued on Saturday at the Madrid Open with a third consecutive semifinal elimination, adding to his worst start to the clay-court swing since 2015.He lost to ninth-ranked Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will try to win his third title of the year in a final against top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who defeated Dominic Thiem 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) and will have a chance to tie Nadal for the most titles in Master 1000 tournaments with 33.In the women’s final, Kiki Bertens beat two-time Madrid champion Simona Halep 6-4, 6-4.“It wasn’t my best night,” Nadal said. “I knew what I had to do, it was clear to me, but I just wasn’t capable of doing it. I didn’t have a good feeling to do the things I wanted to do and that’s it. We don’t have to dwell too much on it.”The second-ranked Spaniard, still seeking his first title of the season, had also failed to make it to the final in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, tournaments he had won the last three consecutive seasons. He lost to Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo and to Thiem in Barcelona. This is the first time since 2004 that Nadal had arrived in Madrid without a title.“I’ve won a lot over the years on this surface,” he said.” But this year it hasn’t been the case. I’ve been really close, but I haven’t been able to win.”Nadal, who was yet to lose a set in Madrid this year, had beaten Tsitsipas all three previous times they played, without losing a set, including in the semifinals of the Australian Open.The 20-year-old Tsitsipas converted on his fourth match point to close out the victory on the Magic Box center court.“I’m really happy that I managed to keep my nerves down and fight back. Probably one of the toughest victories I’ve had in my life,” Tsitsipas said. “Adding variety and being unpredictable was the key today.”The young Greek played aggressively from the start, breaking Nadal’s serve six times. He saved 11 of the 16 break opportunities he conceded.“I really liked my fighting spirit,” he said. “I went on the court and I was mentally prepared for a fight.”Tsitsipas will be playing in his fourth final of the season and will have a chance to become the first player to win three titles this year, adding to his triumphs in Estoril and Marseille. He is the tour’s winningest player in 2019 with 27 wins.“I have to be mentally prepared for a tough match,” said Tsitsipas, who defeated Djokovic in Toronto last year. “He’s in a pretty good state of his tennis, so it won’t be easy.”
Djokovic on topDjokovic can add to his Australian Open title on Sunday thanks to his confidence-boosting win over an in-form Thiem.“Dominic is one of the best tennis players in the world at this moment, especially on this surface, so this was a very big win for me,” Djokovic said.The fifth-seeded Thiem, who beat Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, had won two straight against Djokovic and was trying to make his third straight Madrid final following losses to Rafael Nadal in 2017 and Alexander Zverev in 2018. The Austrian was also attempting to become the first player to win three titles this season, adding to triumphs in Indian Wells and Barcelona.“I thought he was the favorite coming into this match because of his win in Barcelona and the way he played winning against Roger yesterday,” said Djokovic, who will be trying to add to his Madrid titles from 2011 and 2016.“I was still kind of trying to find my best game on clay,” Djokovic said. “These are exactly the matches that I need. I’m very, very pleased with this win.”Thiem played well in both sets but Djokovic prevailed in both tiebreakers.“I think that to beat these players, Novak, or Rafa, you need to have this little luck, this momentum going for you, and that was not the case today,” Thiem said. “Some break points for me were a little bit unlucky and some of them I missed, which I usually don’t do.”BERTENS WINSLast year’s runner-up Bertens defeated Halep for her second title of the year, adding to her victory in St. Petersburg, Russia.“I am really proud of this week. I played some good tennis,” said Bertens, who next week will reach a career-high No. 4 ranking.The seventh-ranked Dutch became the first woman to win the Madrid title without dropping a set. She had victories over three Grand Slam champions in the Spanish capital — Jelena Ostapenko, Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova. Bertens lost to Kvitova in last year’s final.Halep, winner in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, lost the chance to take over the No. 1 ranking from Naomi Osaka.

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Qatar in talks to buy stake in Leeds United

DUBAI: Qatar is in talks to buy a stake in UK football club Leeds United, the Financial Times reported. Leeds United plays in the second tier of English professional football, the Championship, and will be Qatar Sports Investment’s (QSI) first venture into British football. It currently controls France’s Paris Saint-Germain. “Qatar Sports Investments will be…

Qatar in talks to buy stake in Leeds United

DUBAI: Qatar is in talks to buy a stake in UK football club Leeds United, the Financial Times reported.

Leeds United plays in the second tier of English professional football, the Championship, and will be Qatar Sports Investment’s (QSI) first venture into British football. It currently controls France’s Paris Saint-Germain.

“Qatar Sports Investments will be entering English Football, and Leeds is the club of their choice,” a person familiar with the talks told FT. “Qatar has been looking into the prospects of entering English Football for the past two years.”

QSI’s chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged with corruption in connection with the bidding process for this year’s world athletics championships in Doha, judicial sources said.

Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIN Sports, has been under investigation since March in a probe of the bidding process for the 2017 and the 2019 world championships.

French prosecutors are looking specifically at two payments of $3.5 million in 2011 by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, a company jointly owned by Al-Khelaifi and his brother Khalid, to a sports marketing firm run by Papa Massata Diack.

Diack’s father Lamine Diack was president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from 1999 to 2015 and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

As well as probing the world athletics championships the French investigation is also examining circumstances in which the Olympic Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 and Tokyo for 2020.

Prior to the decision to charge him, Al-Khelaifi had been questioned in March as “person of interest” in the case revolving around the 2011 payments by Oryx which were made at a time when Doha was seeking to host the 2017 world athletics championship and the 2020 Olympics.

Investigators were seeking to determine whether, in return for the payments, Lamine Diack used his influence to gain votes for Doha among IAAF members and also to obtain a date change for the competitions to avoid the heat of the Qatar summer.

(With AFP)

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Raptors beat Bucks to reach first NBA final

DUBAI: Qatar is in talks to buy a stake in UK football club Leeds United, the Financial Times reported. Leeds United plays in the second tier of English professional football, the Championship, and will be Qatar Sports Investment’s (QSI) first venture into British football. It currently controls France’s Paris Saint-Germain. “Qatar Sports Investments will be…

Raptors beat Bucks to reach first NBA final

DUBAI: Qatar is in talks to buy a stake in UK football club Leeds United, the Financial Times reported.

Leeds United plays in the second tier of English professional football, the Championship, and will be Qatar Sports Investment’s (QSI) first venture into British football. It currently controls France’s Paris Saint-Germain.

“Qatar Sports Investments will be entering English Football, and Leeds is the club of their choice,” a person familiar with the talks told FT. “Qatar has been looking into the prospects of entering English Football for the past two years.”

QSI’s chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged with corruption in connection with the bidding process for this year’s world athletics championships in Doha, judicial sources said.

Al-Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari television channel BeIN Sports, has been under investigation since March in a probe of the bidding process for the 2017 and the 2019 world championships.

French prosecutors are looking specifically at two payments of $3.5 million in 2011 by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment, a company jointly owned by Al-Khelaifi and his brother Khalid, to a sports marketing firm run by Papa Massata Diack.

Diack’s father Lamine Diack was president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from 1999 to 2015 and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

As well as probing the world athletics championships the French investigation is also examining circumstances in which the Olympic Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 and Tokyo for 2020.

Prior to the decision to charge him, Al-Khelaifi had been questioned in March as “person of interest” in the case revolving around the 2011 payments by Oryx which were made at a time when Doha was seeking to host the 2017 world athletics championship and the 2020 Olympics.

Investigators were seeking to determine whether, in return for the payments, Lamine Diack used his influence to gain votes for Doha among IAAF members and also to obtain a date change for the competitions to avoid the heat of the Qatar summer.

(With AFP)

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Lewis Hamilton snatches dramatic Monaco Grand Prix pole position with record lap

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday. The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason. Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper…

Lewis Hamilton snatches dramatic Monaco Grand Prix pole position with record lap

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.

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