Tennis: Cirstea stuns Karolina Pliskova in Beijing

Sorana Cirstea of Romania hits a return during her women’s singles match against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Repubic at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2017

Tennis: Cirstea stuns Karolina Pliskova in Beijing

BEIJING: Former number one and fourth seed Karolina Pliskova became the latest high-profile casualty at the China Open on Thursday, going out in the third round to unseeded Sorana Cirstea.
Cirstea follows fellow Romanian Simona Halep into the quarter-finals, after second seed Halep sent Maria Sharapova packing on Wednesday.
Cirstea, ranked 44 in the world, stunned the Czech Pliskova 6-1, 7-5 on Beijing’s outdoor hard courts to surge into the last eight.
She will play home hope Peng Shuai or Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, the Roland Garros champion.
World number one Garbine Muguruza and reigning champion Agnieszka Radwanska are both out to leave world number two Halep the favorite in the Chinese capital.
Also into the quarters is Caroline Garcia, who defeated French compatriot Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-1.
Garcia is in red-hot form after winning the Wuhan Open title on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia’s young athletes looking to shine at Youth Olympics

Updated 15 October 2018

Saudi Arabia’s young athletes looking to shine at Youth Olympics

BUENOS AIRES: Fresh from watching Ali Yousef Al-Othman clinching Saudi Arabia’s first medal at the ongoing Youth Olympic Games, the country’s quartet of athletics participants will enter the second week of competition in South America buoyed by strong performances in the opening heats and aiming to add to the country’s success. 


Al-Othman secured bronze in the men’s -85kg weightlifting on Friday night just hours after Ahmed Al-Marwani and Raghad Bu Arish had impressed on the Youth Olympic Park’s nearby racing track.  Alongside Prince Fahd bin Juluwe bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, the head of the delegation, both Bu Arish and Al-Marwani watched from inside the weightlifting as their flag was raised in recognition of Al-Othman’s achievement. 


Bu Arish, the first Saudi female to compete at a Youth Olympics, had earlier completed her women’s 100-metre heat in 14.68 seconds, finishing seventh. Wearing a white headscarf, the 16-year-old finished 3.29s behind heat-winner Gabriela Suarez of Ecuador and 3.51s behind the fastest female overall, Nigeria’s Rosemary Chukama.


“I am the first girl from Saudi Arabia to come to the Youth Olympics, so I am so proud of myself and my family,” Bu Arish, with a tear slowly rolling down her face and her father and brother watching on from the stands, told Arab News. “I was very nervous, but I feel very happy. I trained at the organised camp and also competed in many races to prepare for this moment. It is so nice to know you are competing in the Olympic Games.”


Bu Arish will contest the 100m finals on Monday at 16.05 local time (22.05 Mecca) and Yousef Jalaiden, the chef de mission for the Saudi delegation, expects the 16-year-old to be the first of many Saudi women competing at this level.


“I think it’s great,” he said. “We have many female athletes competing in different sports and I think, in five years from now, we are going to surprise the world with how many women we have competing in sports. We had two girls at the Asian Games playing badminton, but these things take time. It’s a gradual process.”


Shortly after Bu Arish, Al-Marwani contested the men’s 100m, finishing third in his heat with a time of 10.94s. His result placed him 0.38s behind outright leader Luke Davids of South Africa, but ahead of Iran’s Mahdi Rezaei who shares an identical personal best of 10.81s. He will now contest the final heat on Tuesday, although a medal is unlikely.


Jalaiden is more confident of a medal in 400m Hurdles, where Mohammed Al-Muawi qualified for the finals, finishing second in his heat behind Hungary’s Daniel Huller. The 17-year-old’s recorded time of 52.76 set a new personal best by more than half a second and placed him just 0.78s behind Huller. The result was considerably more impressive given four athletes in Al-Muawi’s heat had better form, posting season bests that eclipsed his own. He will race again on Tuesday with Saudi chiefs hopeful of doubling their medal haul.


“To be honest, we have achieved everything we expected so far,” said Jalaiden. “For example, in weightlifting, we expected to have a bronze and we got it. In others, we expected to leave with nothing and that’s what’s happened. I think we are on the right track. For the week to come, I hope we can get a medal in the 400m hurdles and also karate. For karate, we are almost sure and in the 400m we will see on Tuesday how we get on.”


Mohammed Al-Assiri is the karateka the Saudi delegation are pinning their hopes on. He will begin his Kumite -61kg campaign on Wednesday after successfully negotiating the qualification event in Croatia this past summer, Fayez Al-Subaie, meanwhile, will contest the Men’s Cross Country on Monday after finishing 15th in the 3000m.