Recharged Bouchard sets up Sydney semi with Konta

Eugenie Bouchard exults after her win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during their women's singles match at the Sydney International tennis tournament on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 11 January 2017
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Recharged Bouchard sets up Sydney semi with Konta

SYDNEY: Eugenie Bouchard reached her first semifinal for 10 months as she battled intense heat to down higher-ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Sydney International on Wednesday.
The former Wimbledon finalist wore down the 27th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3 in 76 minutes to set up a semifinal with Britain’s world No. 10 Johanna Konta.
It will be the 49th-ranked Canadian’s first WTA Tour semifinal since the Malaysian Open in March last year.
“It’s a good step in the right direction. I know there is a long way to go to achieve what I want,” Bouchard said.
“But to match up against solid players like I have this week, it’s a very tough tournament here. So I’m proud of that, for sure.”
Bouchard beat Konta in three sets in the second round at last year’s Wimbledon, but it was a battle.
Konta continued her impressive progress through the Sydney International draw with a 6-3, 7-5 win over rising young Russian Daria Kasatkina, who had eliminated German world No.1 Angelique Kerber in Tuesday’s second round.
Elsewhere on a stifling day where temperatures topped 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit), former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki went down in a punishing three hour, 20 minute battle with Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4.
Both players needed treatment for foot blisters on the broiling Ken Rosewall Arena hardcourt.
Strycova in the semis will face the 2013 winner Agnieszka Radwanska, who eliminated Chinese qualifier Duan Yingying 6-3, 6-2 in the evening match.
Duan was the first Chinese woman through to the quarterfinals in Sydney since Li Na in 2013.
Wozniacki was attempting to end a run of seven Sydney International visits without getting past the quarterfinals.
She battled back from 5-2 down in the second set and 5-0 in the tiebreaker but fell in the third set.

Thiem struggles

Austrian top seed Dominic Thiem had a three-set struggle with Portuguese qualifier Gastao Elias before clinching a quarterfinal spot at the Sydney International on Wednesday.
Thiem, the world No.8, had several chances to put away the plucky 81st-ranked Elias, only to be broken back before he eventually won 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-5 in a match that finished at midnight.
Thiem will now face Britain’s No.3 Daniel Evans in Thursday’s quarters.
Evans fought back from dropping the opening set to down Spanish eighth seed Marcel Granollers 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Gilles Muller earlier beat the heat to be one match away from a third straight semifinal appearance at the Sydney International, following a big-serving victory over Australian Matt Barton.
The sixth seed from Luxembourg prevailed over Barton 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 as temperatures nudged 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) to reach the quarterfinals.
Muller, who lost to Grigor Dimitrov in last year’s semifinal, will next face Uruguayan second seed Pablo Cuevas, who overcame Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
German fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber knocked out Australian Jordan Thompson 7-5, 6-4 and will face the two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki.
Third seed Troicki from Serbia won his 13th consecutive match at the Sydney international with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi.
Kohlschreiber needed just 84 minutes to cruise past Thompson, who failed to save a single break point.
Spanish fourth seed Pablo Carreno-Busta dropped the first set before overcoming German Mischa Zverev 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Carreno-Busta will face Andrey Kuznetsov in the last eight after the Russian beat Australian teenager Alex De Minaur on an injury retirement at the start of the second set after winning the opening set 6-2.


LIVE: Egypt 1-3 Russia. Mohamed Salah pulls one back after hosts go three clear.

Updated 1 min 17 sec ago
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LIVE: Egypt 1-3 Russia. Mohamed Salah pulls one back after hosts go three clear.

FULL TIME — RUSSIA 3-1 EGYPT: As much as the Egyptains put up a good fight, they were ultimately beaten by the better, more clinical side. There will, of course, be many a 'what if' concerning Salah — what if he'd played against Uruguay? What if he had been at 100 percent fitness? — but while those answers will never been known, what is not in doubt is that the scoreline in Saint Petersburg did not lie. 

10.40PM: Egypt are seeing a lot of the ball in this final period of the match but, as with the previous 160 minutes of the tournament, they are unable to fashion even a decent half-chance. There lack of cutting edge has cost them so far in Russia. 

ANOTHER SALAH STAT

10.32PM: ANOTHER PENALTY FOR EGYPT? Kutepov looks like he's wrestled Mohsen to the ground but the referee waves play on. It is not referred by the VAR committee and time is running out for Egypt. 

SHARPSHOOTER: Salah celebrates after slotting home his penalty. 

10.29PM — GOAL FOR EGYPT 3-1 to RUSSIA: Salah may not have been at his best so far but he makes no mistake from teh spot smashing the ball emphatically into the back of the net. Can that act as a springboard for an unlikley comeback?

10. 28PM — PENALTY FOR EGYPT: Salah is brought down on the edge of the area. The referee initially calls for a free-kick but that is changed to a penalty after a VAR review. Can he score to inject hope into Egypt players and fans?

FORLORN FANS: Egypt fans trying to enjoy what is unfldoing in front of them in Saint Petersburg. 

 

10.17PM - GOAL FOR RUSSIA 3-0: A disastrous two minutes for Salah and Co. Dzyuba finds room on the edge of the area before hitting a great curled shot to give El Shenawy no chance. This is gae over for Egypt and they are on the verge of going out of the tournament. 

10.15PM - GOAL FOR RUSSIA 2-0: What a tournament this man is having, Cheryshev scores his third goal of the World Cup after great work by Fernandes, a former Brazil international, down the right , a well worked goal. And now Egypt's hopes of making the knockout stages are well and truly on the brink. 

HAPPY HOSTS: The Russians celebrate their fortunate opener. 

10.05PM — SALAH SHOT: The Egyptian star finds room on the edge of the area, enough room to shoot with his trusty left boot. It's well blocked and goes for a corner.

10PM — GOAL FOR RUSSIA 1-0:  A nightmare start to the second-half for Egypt. Golovin crossed the ball in but for some reason rather than catch it El Shenawy punched the ball straight into the path of  Zobnin. A terrible shot hits Fathy who can only watch as  the ball squirmed past his past his own keeper from about 12 yards out. Bad luck but partly of Egypt's own making. They have it all to do now. 

FRIENDLY FANS: This is a great photo of Mexican and Colombian supporters lefting an Egypt fan so he can watch his heroes. 

 

 

HALF-TIME: It has been a close first 45 minutes in Saint Petersburg, neither side really showing much quality. Both coaches will be happy with the scoreline, the key thing for Egypt was to keep it tight and not go behind. The task for the second-half is to build on that, but with Salah only showing glimpses of his class it will be difficult. It is clear the Liverpool man is protect his injured shoulder and not making the dashing runs past defenders that we all got used to over the past 10 months. 

9.42PM — STAT ATTACK: It's been a tight first-half so far as these stats show.

 

9.37PM — SALAH SHOT: It has taken time but Salah gets his first shot in. On the edge of the penalty area he fakes to go on to his right before improvising and hitting shot with his left that only narrowly goes wide. Promising signs for Egypt here. 

9.35PM: Elneney illustrates that the Pharaohs are far from a one-man team as he floats a wonderful pass into the dangerzone. Mohsen again gets a head to it, but you cannot help buyt feel the big man has to do better as the ball drops easily into Akinfeev's hands. 

9.33PM: A good period for Egypt, they force the first corner, which they then subsequently wasted by not beating the first defender (criminal!). But a minute later they work a good opportunity for Mohsen at the far post, only good Russian defending prevented the striker from getting a better header in. 

9.30PM — ONE TO WATCH: Golovin is once agains having a good game in the Russia midfield. Elneny and Co need to quieten him down if they are to prevent the hosts creating good chance after good chance. 

9.24PM: Egypt will be happy with the first 25 minutes, having weathered the early Russian onslaught they have come back into the match and, as with the Uruguay match, showing composure on the ball. Can they go up a level from here? 

9.20PM: It's been a bit of a bitty start from both sides as this photo shows...

 

9.14PM: CLOSE! 'Trezeguet' comes so close with a curling effort from the edge of the box... Egypt finding their feet in this game ...

9.12PM: Mohamed Salah still yet to come into the game, but Egypt looking much brighter than in the first minutes...

9.05PM: Russia commanding the early stages and looking likely to score...our man Salah yet to make a considerable impact...

8.55PM: The anthems have been sung - a rousing rendition from the Russians - and we're ready to get this game under way...

8.50PM: And here he is — Salah is out warming up and looking ok, well at least from our vantage point he is...

 

8.40PM: At the risk of stating the obvious, all eyes will be on Salah tonight. In Saint Petersburg, the city of Russian royalty, can he live up to the mantle of Egyptian King? There's little doubting Cuper's side need him to be at or near his best, can his shoulder take the strain, both literally and metaphorically? 

For Russia the lineup is as expected, Cheryshev starts having come of the bench against Saudi Arabia and scored a brilliant brace. 

 

8.30PM: Both lineups are out here they are...

RUSSIA Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov,  Zobnin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba. Subs:  Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Dzagoev, Smolov, Kudryashov, Granat,  Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.

EGYPT El Shenawy, Fathi, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed,  Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen. Subs: El Hadary,  Elmohamady, Gaber, Morsy, Kahraba, Ashraf, Sobhi, Hamdy,  Shikabala, Samir, Warda, Ekramy. 

 

8.20PM: There is little doubt the return of Salah will give the Pharaohs a big boost, just a quick glance at his stats during his record-breaking season at Liverpool will tell you why.. 

 

 

8PM — BIG NEWS: Egypt go into the crunch clash against Russia knowing defeat will all but end their hopes of making it to the second round, but also buoyed by the return of their talisman, Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian ace has been named, as expected, in Hector Cuper’s starting XI to face the hosts in Saint Petersburg having missed the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday.
It may be expecting too much to expect the 26-year-old to provide the spark so missing from Egypt’s loss to the South Americans — there is still some confusion over just how well his shoulder has recovered since injuring it in the Champions League final — but there is little doubt that for all the side’s calm and poise in possession they lacked a cutting edge and Cuper is doubtless hoping Salah can provide it this evening.
The hosts come into the match relaxed and, thanks to the Salah show, not the center of attention. Their 5-0 opening-day win over Saudi Arabia has both removed doubts about the side’s ability and set them up well for a stab at making the knockout stages.
Can Salah upset their home party? The next few hours will tell.