Murray secures 45th career title with Dubai win

World No. 1 Andy Murray of Great Britain with his championship trophy after winning his ATP final tennis match against Spain's Fernando Verdasco during the Dubai Duty Free Championships on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 04 March 2017
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Murray secures 45th career title with Dubai win

DUBAI: Andy Murray clinched his first title of 2017 and 45th of his career as he dominated Spain's Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-2 to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.
World No. 1 Murray claimed the trophy in the emirate for the first time after losing the final five years ago to Roger Federer.
The Scot finished the job in just 73 minutes on the first of three match points, an untouchable service winner.
“It’s obviously nice to finally win here,” said the top seed. “It feels great to take the trophy for the first time.”
“I played a good match today. I had a bit of a slow start, but we’ve had a lot of late nights this week. But once I got going, I was moving well and finished strong.”
Murray improved his record over 35th-ranked left-hander Verdasco to 13 wins and just one loss.
He was playing in his second final of 2017 after losing to Novak Djokovic in nearby Doha during the opening week of the season in January.
The first three games of the contest featured breaks of serve before Murray steadied, breaking for 5-3 and taking the opening set.
In the second, Murray earned a 2-1 lead as he eased to victory.
Murray now makes the long flight halfway around the world to Los Angeles to prepare for the start of the Indian Wells Masters.
His win on Saturday allowed Murray to become the first British champion in the 25-year history of the Dubai tournament.
He was playing in his seventh final in his last eight tournaments and 14th final in his last 16 events.
Nadal roars into ATP Acapulco showdown with Querrey
Two-time champion Rafael Nadal raced past third-seeded Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-2 to reach the ATP Mexico Open final, where his perfect Acapulco record will be put to the test by Sam Querrey.
Querrey ousted Nick Kyrgios 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 to bring the sixth-seeded Australian's giant-killing run to a halt a day after Kyrgios stunned world No. 2 Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
Second-seeded Nadal, playing his first tournament since falling to Roger Federer in an epic five-set final at the Australian Open in January, has won all 14 matches he has played in Acapulco, where he lifted the trophy in 2005 and 2013.
Nadal roared through the opening set against Cilic, building a 5-0 lead before the former US Open champion, who advanced to the semi-finals on a walkover when scheduled opponent Steve Johnson withdrew, showed signs of life with a service hold for 5-1.
Croatia's Cilic seized a 0-40 lead on Nadal in the next game, but the Spaniard saved four break points to hold for the opening set.
After receiving treatment on his right ankle, Cilic promptly dropped his serve to open the second set, and while he mustered break chances in each of Nadal’s first three service games of the second set, he couldn’t convert.
Nadal, firing on all cylinders from the baseline, muscled two winners past Cilic as he broke again for a 5-2 lead and served it out with one last forehand winner.
“I have to be playing well to win like this against a player like Marin, so I’m pleased with the performance,” said Nadal, who withdrew from last month’s tournament in Rotterdam after doctors told him he needed some rest after his run to the final in Melbourne.
“I’m happy with my focus in important moments, saving break points with good shots,” Nadal said. “I enjoyed the atmosphere here, so it's great for me to be in the final.”
Querrey and Kyrgios were neck and neck in the third set when the American produced the first break of the set in the final game to seize the victory.
Querrey had saved the only break point he faced in the set with a 135 mile per hour serve in the fifth game.
Kyrgios, 21, had appeared on his way when he closed out the first set by winning four straight games.
But after leading 40-15 in the opening game of the second set he was broken, and suddenly seemed at sea and Querrey took the set in just 23 minutes as Kyrgios’ mistakes multiplied.


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”