Roger Federer landed in tough half of draw at Australian Open

Updated 11 January 2018
0

Roger Federer landed in tough half of draw at Australian Open

LONDON: Roger Federer has been given a tough task if he is to defend his Australian Open title.
The Swiss sensation memorably won in Melbourne 12 months ago to claim his 19th Grand Slam title. The 36-year-old goes into the year’s first major as overwhelming favorite with many of his big rivals either out (Andy Murray) or just back from injury (Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic).
But Federer is all too aware there are no easy paths to Slam success and he found out he is not only in the same half of the draw as Djokovic but also the same quarter as world No. 7 David Goffin, Juan Martin del Potro, Sam Querrey, and Milos Raonic.
Federer beat Nadal in the final last year on his return from six months on the sidelines and is seeded No. 2 as he bids for a 20th Grand Slam singles title. The Swiss gets his title defence off against Ajaz Bedene of Slovenia.
Djokovic is in the same quarter as the Zverev brothers — fourth-seeded Alexander could meet older brother and 32nd seed Mischa in the third round — 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, and world No. 5 Dominic Thiem.
Djokovic had a contrasting 2017, starting the year as world No. 2 but losing in a second-round upset at the Australian Open and not playing again after Wimbledon. It was the first year since 2009 that Djokovic did not reach at least one Grand Slam final. He delayed his return until two exhibition appearances this week.
Top-ranked Nadal will open against Victor Estrella Burgos, has a potential fourth-round match against John Isner, and world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in his half of the draw. He followed his run to the final in Melbourne by winning the French Open and US Open, splitting the Grand Slam honors with Federer for the year.
In the women’s draw Venus Williams, who lost the all-Williams Australian Open final last year, has a tough opener against Belinda Bencic — who combined with Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland last week — and is also in the same quarter as US Open winner Sloane Stephens.
Top-ranked Simona Halep opens against Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava, has a potential second-round match against 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, and is in the same half as Garbine Muruguza, the Wimbledon champion.
Third-seeded Muguruza is in a difficult quarter containing former Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, and US Open finalist Madison Keys.


Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

Updated 21 April 2019
0

Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

  • The 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets

NEW YORK: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid returned from injury to score a game-high 31 points and grab 16 rebounds, powering the 76ers to a 112-108 NBA playoff victory at Brooklyn on Saturday.
Despite a third-quarter incident that saw two players ejected, the 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets and could advance in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven matchup with a home victory Tuesday.
In the other Eastern Conference game, Khris Middleton finished with 20 points and nine rebounds as the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks put the Detroit Pistons on the brink of elimination with a 119-103 win. The victory give the Bucks a 3-0 lead and they can wrap up the series with a win on the road in the Motor City on Monday.
Philadelphia, down by 10 points early in the third quarter, battled back most of the second half before taking the lead on a run of eight points by Embiid, who missed game three with a sore left knee.
A slam dunk and layup by Embiid gave the 76ers their first late lead at 102-101 but, after an exchange of layups and three-pointers as well as turnovers, fell behind 108-107 on a basket by Brooklyn’s Joe Harris with 25 seconds remaining.
On the next 76er possession, Embiid flipped the last of his seven assists to Mike Scott, whose corner three-pointer put Philadelphia ahead to stay 110-108 with 19 seconds remaining.
Australian Ben Simmons — who added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the 76ers — stole the ball from Brooklyn’s Jarett Allen and Tobias Harris sank two free throws for the last of his 24 points to clinch the triumph.
Caris LeVert led the Nets with 25 points while Brooklyn had 21 points each from Allen and D’Angelo Russell.
Cameroon star center Embiid was issued a flagrant foul in touching off an altercation 4:18 into the third quarter that saw Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler Brooklyn’s Jared Dudley ejected. Embiid, who had elbowed Allen in the face in game two, was whistled for a hard foul on Allen that prompted Dudley to rush at Embiid, taking down the Sixers big man. Butler swung his left arm at Dudley, who wound up in the front row seats with Simmons at one stage, to earn his ejection.
In Detroit, Brook Lopez tallied 19 points and had seven rebounds and five blocked shots and Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered 14 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double in the series and Nikola Mirotic chipped in 12 points.
Detroit’s hobbled star Blake Griffin had 27 points in 31 minutes after he missed the first two games of the series with a sore knee.
Griffin was cleared with his leg heavily wrapped but it didn’t change the outcome.
The Pistons have now lost 13 straight playoff games dating back to 2008. In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets — led by game highs of 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists from Serbian playmaker Nikola Jokic — pulled level with San Antonio at 2-2 in their opening series with a 117-103 road triumph over the Spurs.