Australian Open: Day four review
Australian Open: Day four review
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO (12) STAYING: The Argentine booked a third round clash against 19th seed Tomas Berdych thanks to a 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 Karen Khachanov. Made to fight over four sets this match should prove to be good practice for what promises to be an attritional match next up.
MADISON KEYS (17) STAYING: The American ace made light work of her second round encounter against Ekaterina Alexandrova. Last year’s US Open finalist won the first 11 games on her way to an easy 6-0, 6-1 win that took only 41 minutes. She won every point on her serve in the first set, holding at love in three games.
DOMINIC THIEM (5) STAYING: The 24-year-old Austrian recovered from two sets down to beat American Denis Kudla and reach the last 32. Thiem lost a tie-break in the opener but fought back to win 6-7 (6-8) 3-6 6-2 6-2 6-3.
ANGELIQUE KERBER (21) STAYING: The German celebrated her 30th birthday with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Donna Vekic to advance to the third round clash against Maria Sharapova. On this evidence she will take some beating, it was Kerber’s 11th win in a row to start the season.
STANILAS WAWRINKA (9) PACKING HIS BAGS: The 2014 came into the tournament struggling with a knee injury and it was always going to be a tall order for him to make much of an impression in Melbourne. That proved to be the case as the Swiss struggled during a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 defeat to American Tennys Sandgren. “I really came without thinking I will be able to play the first match. That’s a big step for me,” he said after the match.
DAVID GOFFIN (7) PACKING HIS BAGS: The Belgian was a dark horse to win the title, but his dreams were dashed by a 1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 7-6 defeat to wild-card entry Julien Benneteau. It was only the second time in the now 59th-ranked Benneteau’s career that he’s managed to beat a player in the top 10 in a Grand Slam singles match.
GARBINE MUGURUZA (3) PACKING HER BAGS: The Wimbledon champion is out after being beaten 7-6, 6-4 by Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan. Muguruza never looked comfortable in the match, double-faulting on break point in the second set and had as many as 43 unforced errors.
JOHANNA KONTA (9) PACKING HER BAGS: The Briton’s Melbourne mission ended in just the second round. The former semifinalist beaten by American lucky loser Bernarda Pera 6-4, 7-5. Konta arrived in Australia suffering from a hip problem.
Jorge Jesus warns Al-Hilal the hard work is only just beginning ahead of Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad
- New coach tells team they have to go up a gear it they are to beat Al-Ittihad in London this weekend.
- Omar Abdulrahman set to make his Al-Hilal debut in the Saudi Super Cup.
Al-Hilal have been told that they have to go up a gear if they are to have a chance of victory against Al-Ittihad in Saturday’s Super Cup in London.
The Riyadh giants kicked off the new season with a 1-0 victory over Oman’s Al-Shabab in the Arab Champions Cup on Sunday. But coach Jorge Jesus has told his players that only a much better display will allow them to get their hands on the Super Cup trophy at QPR’s Loftus Road stadium this week.
Al-Shabab were beaten thanks to a goal from right-back Mohammed Al-Breik midway through the first-half. It gives Al-Hilal a slim advantage to take to the away leg in September as they bid to reach the last 16.
For Jesus, the match was another step toward being where he wants to be when the Saudi Pro League kicks off at the end of August.
“We were missing a number of players and when we are at full strength then we will be at a different level,” the Portuguese coach said.
“We can play better than this and we need to be more clinical in attack and take our chances.”
It was a hard-fought game against a committed and physical opponent who seemed to relish taking on the star-studded hosts.
“It was the kind of test that we needed at this stage,” added the former Benfica and Sporting Lisbon boss who was appointed in June.
“It was good to keep a clean sheet and we are now looking forward to the next game in London.”
The 64-year-old is expecting a tough test against domestic rivals Al-Ittihad in the British capital, not least because the Jeddah club’s new coach is Ramon Diaz. Even though he led Al-Hilal to last year’s AFC Champions League final, the Argentine was fired by the Riyadh club in February.
There is mixed news for Al-Hilal, however, as they prepare to defend their domestic title. Star midfielders Abdullah Otayf and Nawaf Al-Abed played no part against Al-Shabab and may miss the start of the league season. Otayf has picked up a knee injury that could keep the 25-year-old out of action for two or three weeks. Al-Abed, meanwhile, is struggling to recover from a series of injuries and niggles that have kept the playmaker out of action since last year. The 28-year-old will undergo a series of tests to determine whether surgery is needed. Salman Al-Faraj, another Saudi Arabia international, missed the game but should be fit for the trip to London.
Jesus surprised fans by pushing 19-year-old Nasser Al-Dawsari into the middle, and the teenager impressed with an assured display. It was enough to suggest that he could play a significant role in the team in the coming season as Al-Hilal look to challenge on multiple fronts at home, in Asia and in the Arab Champions Cup.
New signing Omar Abdulrahman did not play. But the 2016 Asian Player of the Year, who joined the club last week in a season-long deal that cost an estimated $17 million — the second most expensive loan signing in football history — was introduced to the crowd during half-time at the King Saud University Stadium. The United Arab Emirates playmaker received a rapturous reception as he returned to his boyhood club.
Jesus also revealed that there may be another addition to the squad before the Saudi Arabian summer transfer window closes on Aug. 23. “We are working on bringing in a new striker,” the coach said.
“If all goes well then the deal should be done soon.”
Having faced King’s Cup winners Al-Ittihad at Loftus Road this Saturday, the Saudi Arabian champions will then return home for the start of their title defense on Aug. 31 against Al-Feiha.