Kerber hits back at US Open tormentor Osaka

Angelique Kerber of Germany returns a shot to Naomi Osaka of Japan Monday during the first round match of the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2017
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Kerber hits back at US Open tormentor Osaka

TOKYO: Former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber thrashed Japan’s Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 at the Pan Pacific Open women’s tennis tournament on Monday to avenge a humiliating loss at the US Open.
Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic suffered an epic Tokyo meltdown, meanwhile, as she was pulverized by China’s Wang Qiang, who inflicted the dreaded “double bagel” on the eighth seed to win 6-0, 6-0 and reach the second round.
Kerber, seeded seventh, crashed to a shock 6-3, 6-1 first-round defeat by Osaka in New York last month as defending champion. But a repeat never seemed likely on Monday as the German quickly took control.
Kerber, who has slipped back to 14th in the world since winning last year’s Australian and US Open titles, ripped forehands past her teenage opponent seemingly at will in the first set.
Osaka’s game unraveled completely in the second, giving Kerber a welcome opportunity to work her way back to form after a poor run of results and to seal victory in an hour and 23 minutes.
“I was trying to come out, focus on every single point and make it better than last time,” said Kerber.
“Naomi is a tough opponent and a great talent. For sure she will have great success in the future.”
The 19-year-old Osaka, born of a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, went on to reach the third round of the US Open after stunning Kerber.
But the world No. 44 almost appeared to be tanking at times at the venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, such was her lack of gusto. She committed 38 unforced errors — including a wild forehand on match point — in a performance she will want to forget in a hurry.
Elsewhere, Japanese wildcard Kurumi Nara beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“It gives me confidence that I was able to turn it around,” said Nara. “Hopefully I can take that spirit into the next match.”
Two-time champion Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded sixth, pulled out of the tournament with a virus, according to organizers.
Wimbledon champion and new women’s world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza heads a strong field in Tokyo featuring several top 10 players including Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki and Johanna Konta.


Maurizio Sarri wants to meet Eden Hazard to discuss Chelsea future

Updated 18 July 2018
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Maurizio Sarri wants to meet Eden Hazard to discuss Chelsea future

  • Maurizio Sarri says Eden Hazard is one of the top two or three players in Europe and he wants to meet the Belgium forward
  • Hazard is taking time off after the World Cup along with Belgium teammate Thibaut Courtois

LONDON: Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri says Eden Hazard is one of the top two or three players in Europe and he wants to meet the Belgium forward face-to-face to discuss his future.
Hazard said at the World Cup in Russia that “it might be time to discover something different“ after spending the last six years with Chelsea. He has been linked with a move to European champion Real Madrid, which recently sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.
Hazard is taking time off after the World Cup along with Belgium teammate Thibaut Courtois, whose future is also the matter of some debate.
Sarri says he doesn’t just want to phone the players who have yet to return to preseason training because a “telephone call without looking in their eyes will not give any certainty. I want to meet them face-to-face and understand what’s the best thing to do for everyone.”
Sarri says Hazard is “one of the top two or three European players,” adding that he hopes “to improve Hazard but that will be difficult.”
In his first news conference as Chelsea coach since joining from Napoli, Sarri said he will play in a “slightly different way” to predecessor Antonio Conte, who won the Premier League in his first season and FA Cup in his second after changing to a three-man defense.
Chelsea has already signed holding midfielder Jorginho from Napoli this offseason. Sarri says he would like more quality in the midfield area to fit his preferred approach, while adding that he could also adapt to the players he currently has in the squad.
Chelsea didn’t qualify for this season’s Champions League.