Muguruza roars into Tokyo semifinals

Garbine Muguruza of Spain hits a return against Caroline Garcia of France during their women's singles quarter-final match at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2017
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Muguruza roars into Tokyo semifinals

TOKYO: New world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza overpowered France’s Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-4 on Friday to reach the semifinals of the Pan Pacific Open.
Earlier, former number one Angelique Kerber won a war of attrition with second seed Karolina Pliskova to book her place in the last four.
Spaniard Muguruza, playing her first tournament since reaching the top of the women’s world rankings, never looked threatened in a one-sided quarter-final.
The Wimbledon champion stormed to a 5-1 lead before ripping a half-court forehand into the corner to secure the first set.
Muguruza pounced on a short second serve with a murderous backhand to break early in the second and the top seed dealt calmly with fleeting resistance from Garcia.
The ninth seed gave herself a lifeline to level the set at 3-3 but was quickly put in her place when Muguruza beat her with a ferocious backhand pass to restore normal service.
A crunching serve down the middle put Garcia out of her misery after 81 minutes as Muguruza advanced to face either title-holder Caroline Wozniacki or Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.
Kerber, seeded seventh and a former Tokyo finalist, came through 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 as she repelled some brutal hitting from her Czech opponent in a contest of real quality.
Pliskova, who herself briefly held the women’s top ranking over the summer, produced moments of brilliance at the net but ultimately crumbled under relentless pressure from the German.
One of her eight double-faults gifted Kerber the first-set tiebreak 7-5 before Pliskova unraveled again at the business end of the second set.
Kerber turned the screw in the 12th game, forcing Pliskova to save four match points before delivering the coup de grace with a vicious, dipping backhand that landed on the Czech’s shoelaces, giving her no chance.
The 29-year-old Kerber, who has slipped back to 14th in the world since winning last year’s Australian and US Open titles, faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the last four.
The Russian advanced by overcoming another Czech, Barbora Strycova, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
“Right now there’s no pressure on me at all,” said Kerber, the 2013 runner-up.
“I’ve had a few ups and downs this year but I know I can still beat the best players in the world. I showed today I can play like I did last year.”


Anthony Joshua ready for Deontay Wilder but promoter wants no more delay

Updated 23 September 2018
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Anthony Joshua ready for Deontay Wilder but promoter wants no more delay

  • Joshua successfully defended his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization belts
  • Joshua has repeatedly stressed he wants to fight fellow undefeated champion Wilder

LONDON: Britain’s Anthony Joshua believes his long-awaited clash with fellow world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will take place as it would be “silly not to.”
But promoter Eddie Hearn has warned a deal must be agreed quickly if the American is to be Joshua’s next opponent.
Joshua successfully defended his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization belts with brutal a seventh-round stoppage of Alexander Povetkin at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
He is already booked in to box again at Wembley on April 13, but the question of an opponent has still to be resolved.
Joshua has repeatedly stressed he wants to fight fellow undefeated champion Wilder, who holds the World Boxing Council version of the heavyweight title, next.
“We have to fight, it would be silly not to” Joshua told reporters after inflicting the first stoppage-loss of Povetkin’s professional career.
Wilder, however, is next due to face Britain’s former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury on December 1.
Talks between the Joshua and Wilder camps have stalled and Hearn is worried a fight that will be worth far more than the “peanuts” of an initially offered $50 million could be derailed.
If Fury beats Wilder, the American’s re-match clause would likely be activated, delaying both boxers from facing Joshua, the London 2012 Olympic champion who now has a professional record of 22 wins from 22 fights, with 21 knockouts.
“Being British, we’d like Fury to win, but for April, Wilder must win if that’s going to happen,” said Hearn.
“We’re not willing to wait until December to see. A deal must be done in advance of that, subject to him winning.
“But now, after 80,000 (the estimated crowd at Wembley) and the worldwide exposure and after the finish (against Povetkin) that offer (made previously, by the Wilder camp) will look like absolute peanuts when this fight is made.”
“That is the biggest fight in boxing; Wilder-Fury is a really good fight to see who’s the second best heavyweight in the world. Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko was the biggest fight in British boxing history, and Joshua-Wilder would eclipse that. We want that now.”
Hearn insisted: “We’re not waiting for time-wasters; we understand if they lose we’ll have to find another opponent, but if you win, we’re not waiting until December.
“These aren’t negotiations that will take 24 hours, and Joshua’s career is not being slowed down. If they don’t want to do that, we’ll fight someone else.”
Fury has previously said on social media that Joshua will never fight him but Hearn witheringly added: “Tyson Fury is the least entertaining fighter I’ve ever seen.
“He’s never been in a good fight, apart from against Steve Cunningham (in 2013), when he got knocked down.”
Meanwhile the 28-year-old Joshua said he too had no intention of being messed about by Wilder.
“If Wilder’s not serious, there’s other people out there; when he’s ready, we’re ready.”
Joshua added: “Good luck to them both (Wilder and Fury) — boxing needs it.
“I’ve had the burden of the heavyweight division on my back for some years, because it was all about me fighting Wilder, Fury, Klitschko, Dillian (Whyte), Povetkin. That’s all they were interested in — me fighting them all.
“So I’m happy those two are fighting. April 13 is booked, so whichever heavyweight is serious, we can look at making a deal. I have no interest in who wins; I’m not fussed.”
Joshua was rocked by Povetkin, the 2004 Olympic champion, in the first round. But he insisted the 39-year-old Russian had not broken his nose.
“These guys the last thing they lose is their power, but it was a good way to wake up,” Joshua said.
As for what lay behind his own public appeal, Joshua added: “The appeal is losing — who is going to be the man to beat me? Sometimes you have to go in there and really earn your money.
“Povetkin was a tough challenger for sure, but I knew how to break him down.
“I wasn’t looking for the knockout but the instinct told he was hurt. I knew how to tidy up and I knew it was time to get out of there.”