Del Potro stuns Federer to seal semis spot

Updated 11 November 2012
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Del Potro stuns Federer to seal semis spot

LONDON: Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro claimed a surprise 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3 victory over defending champion Roger Federer yesterday to book his place in the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals.
Del Potro’s victory ended Federer’s 12-match winning run at the season-ending event and guaranteed he will qualify from Group B along with the Swiss star.
Federer, who has won the Tour Finals title for the last two years, already knew he was through after winning his first two group matches at London’s O2 Arena.
The semifinal match-ups will not be decided until after the final group match between David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic, which was to be played later in the night.
Victory for Ferrer would mean it is Federer who plays Andy Murray with del Potro playing Novak Djokovic, while a Tipsarevic win would reverse the fixtures.
Federer had won 13 of his previous 16 meetings, but the Argentine has given him plenty of trouble at times.
As well as winning his only Grand Slam title with a win over Federer at the 2009 US Open, del Potro also handed the 31-year-old his only other indoor defeat in the last two years in the final of his hometown tournament in Basle last month.
That pattern continued as a tight first set saw sixth-seeded del Potro save three break points to keep Federer at bay.
Then in the tie break, Federer suddenly lost his rhythm and del Potro took advantage to snatch the first set.
Federer made a strong response, reeling off eight successive points to break at the start of the second set, and that was enough to level the match.
But del Potro’s big-hitting style blew Federer off course again in the deciding set.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion was unable to survive the barrage and del Potro broke for a 2-0 lead before holding his nerve to serve out a superb win in two hours.
Bryan brothers beaten
India’s Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek enjoyed a surprise 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 10/7 win over the top seeded Bryan brothers to clinch first place in Group A at the ATP Tour Finals yesterday.
Paes and Stepanek had already booked their place in today’s semifinals after winning their opening two group fixtures, but they didn’t take it easy against Bob and Mike Bryan at London’s O2 Arena.
After winning a tight first set, the pair were pegged back in the second, which the Americans won on a tie-break.
That meant a super tie break was needed to settle the match and Paes and Stepanek took it on their second match point.
Paes and Stepanek’s victory gives them the only 100 percent record of the eight doubles teams competing at the season-ending event and means they will play India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in the semifinals.
That promises to be a bitter battle after Bhupathi refused to be partnered with Paes during the London Olympics earlier this year.
Bhupathi and Paes had a successful doubles partnership for several years, but split up when their relationship deteriorated.
Paes and Stepanek will hope to repeat their victory over Bhupathi and Bopanna in the final of the Shanghai Masters earlier this year.


Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 22 May 2018
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Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs
  • Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million)

RIYADH: The General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) have announced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs.
According to reports, the Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million) that will not only clear monies owed but also enable clubs to invest ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The issue of debt had become a major issue in the country’s football scene.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs are currently experiencing financial problems that require immediate and urgent intervention,” the General Sports Authority, which oversees Saudi Arabian sport, said in a statement released on social media.
The body noted that there are a total of 107 cases under appeal at world governing body FIFA regarding unpaid salaries in Saudi Arabia.
“Failure to intervene urgently to rescue clubs may result in damage to the reputation of the Kingdom in general and Saudi Arabian sport in particular,” added the GSA.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs may face severe disciplinary sanctions because of the failure to meet financial obligations such as the
denial of the registration of players in general or the deduction of points.”
Unpaid salaries were also a factor in Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr being unable to appear in this year’s AFC Champions League after they were denied AFC club licenses.
Al-Ittihad were the club with the highest debt of 309 million riyals ($82 million) and welcomed the news.
“We are delighted by the generous initiative of His Royal Highness,” Al-Ittihad president Nawaf Al-Muqairn said in an official statement released by the two-time Asian champions.
“This contributes to creating solid ground for all clubs to move toward achieving their goals.”
Legendary Saudi striker Sami Al-Jaber, recently appointed president of champions Al-Hilal, announced his gratitude on social media.
“Great thanks to His Highness the Crown Prince for the great support that the clubs have enjoyed which enables sport in our country to keep pace with the aspirations of our leadership,” Al-Jaber wrote.
The Crown Prince’s move followed the SAFF announcing a new raft of regulations in April that will come into effect next season and are designed to take the league forward. These included restricting club spending on transfers and salaries to 70 percent of revenue. The size of first-team squads has been reduced from 33 to 28, of which five must be homegrown players of 23 or younger.