Australian Open: Day two review
Australian Open: Day two review
STANILAS WAWRINKA (9) STAYING: The 2014 champion has been out with a knee injury since Wimbledon and it showed as he struggled to beat Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis. The Swiss prevailed 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 in the end but it is tough to see him mounting a title tilt on this evidence.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO (12) STAYING: The highly fancied Argentine, who finds himself in Roger Federer’s half of the draw, had few problems in seeing off American Frances Tiafoe. The former US Open champion won 6-3, 6-4, 6-? to lay dawn a marker for the rest of the tournament.
ALEXANDER ZVEREV (4) STAYING: The German went through with a 6-1, 7-6, 7-5 win over Thomas Fabbiano. The 20-year-old is coming off five tournament wins last year and looking to improve on his best Grand Slam finish of the fourth round — do not be shocked if he goes deep in Melbourne.
JOHANNA KONTA (9) STAYING: Many see this as the Briton’s best chance of A Grand Slam breakthrough and she easily won her clash against Madison Brengle to forget her troubles with a hip injury. Konta, who reached the last eight a year ago, saw off the American 6-3, 6-1 in just 66 minutes.
KAROLINA PLISKOVA (6) STAYING: The Czech advanced to the second round with minimal fuss, beating Veronica Cepede Royg 6-3, 6-4. Pliskova, who held the top ranking in July of last year, is among six players who could return to No. 1 depending on what happens over the next two weeks.
SIMONA HALEP (1) STAYING: The Romanian overcame an injured left ankle to beat Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava 7-6, 6-1. She was down 5-2 in the first set and ended up showing all the grit and determination she will definitely need if she is to go all the way.
MILOS RAONIC (22) PACKING HIS BAGS: Last year’s Wimbledon finalist was given his marching orders at the first hurdle as the Canadian lost in four sets to Lukas Lacko. Raonic won the first set but Lacko made Raonic pay for too many unforced errors to take the win and shock both Raonic and the crowd.
PETRA KVITOVA (27) PACKING HER BAGS: Unable to play last year due to a knife attack the previous month, the Czech was doubtless just happy to be on court. The return was not a fairy tale one, however, as she lost 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 to Andrea Petkovic.
Saudi football chief quits, eyes Asia’s top job
RIYADH: Saudi Football Federation chief Adel Ezzat resigned on Saturday, expressing his intention to run for the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation.
“I presented to (Saudi sports authority chief) Turki Al-Sheikh... my resignation from my position as of today,” Ezzat told a Saudi sports broadcaster.
“I will begin preparing... for elections of the Asian Football Confederation, which will be held next year.”
Ezzat’s deputy Nawaf Al-Timyat has been named the Saudi federation’s interim chief until fresh elections are held.
Ezzat was last week elected as the first president of the South West Asian Football Federation, a new regional bloc of federations comprising 14 nations.
The kingdom has long been a marginal player in football’s ruling classes, unlike its Gulf rival Qatar — set to host the 2022 World Cup — with which it is embroiled in a year-long diplomatic spat.
But the oil-rich kingdom is in the midst of a major push for global influence in football governance.