Grigor Dimitrov back on track at searing Australian Open

Grigor Dimitrov delivered a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Russian rising star Andrey Rublev on Rod Laver Arena as temperatures touched 40 Celsius in Melbourne. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2018
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Grigor Dimitrov back on track at searing Australian Open

MELBOURNE: World number three Grigor Dimitrov got his Australian Open back on track Friday with a gutsy win on another searing day, as organizers defended the tournament heat policy.
The third seed had plenty to prove after a huge second-round fright from a qualifier, who pushed him to five sets.
And the Bulgarian delivered in a testing 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Russian rising star Andrey Rublev on Rod Laver Arena as temperatures touched 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
“These are the most important matches for me, when things are not working for me and I find a way,” he said. “I’m feeling good physically, the heat didn’t scare me at all today, so that’s a good sign.”
He will next face the winner of an intriguing night match which pits Australian Nick Kyrgios against French veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Fourth seeded woman Elina Svitolina also kept her title dreams alive by ending the hopes of young teenage pretender Marta Kostyuk.
At just 15, Kostyuk was the youngest Melbourne Park third-round contestant since Martina Hingis in 1996, and was hailed after her previous win as “the future of tennis.”
But she still has a lot to learn with fellow Ukrainian Svitolina handing out a 6-2, 6-2 lesson.
“She’s definitely got a bright future,” said Svitolina, adding: “It’s very special for me to get past the third round.”
She next plays another qualifier — big-serving Czech Denisa Allertova who romped past Magda Linette 6-1, 6-4 — for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
In a tournament shorn of seeds, 81st ranked Petra Martic also swept into the round of 16, celebrating her 27th birthday by holding off a gritty three-set challenge from Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum.
Her reward is a match against Belgium’s Elize Mertens, who beat struggling Alize Cornet of France in two tough sets.
Cornet was among players wilting in the heat, with a doctor taking her blood pressure early in the second set as she succumbed to the baking weather.
No matches have been called off at the opening Grand Slam of the year despite the soaring temperatures, with tournament organizer Craig Tiley defending the decision.
“The policy is from consultation with the players,” he said. “These are professional athletes.
“We are at the end of the day an outdoor event. We want it to stay an outdoor event as long as possible but at the same time ensuring that the health and wellbeing of players is taken care of.”
Organizers only active the extreme heat policy and halt play or close roofs when the temperature exceeds 40 Celsius and the wet bulb globe temperature index hits 32.5 Celsius.
On Thursday, Novak Djokovic described the conditions as “brutal,” complaining it was hard to breathe.
Kyle Edmund was the first man to reach the round of 16, overcoming the elements in a fighting five-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
He is the only British man in the main draw after Andy Murray’s injury withdrawal and will play either Croatia’s 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic or Italian Andreas Seppi next.
Spanish 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, a semifinalist at last year’s US Open, also marched on, beating Gilles Muller.
Rafael Nadal faces a stiff challenge later on Margaret Court Arena when he takes on 25th ranked Damir Dzumhur, the first seed he has played in his comeback from a knee problem.
The Spanish world number one has so far been dominant in his search for a 17th Grand Slam title.
Despite being the second seed, Caroline Wozniacki has not impressed so far, needing to save two match points and rally from 5-1 down in an epic third set against little-known Jana Fett in round two.
She is the late match on Rod Laver Arena against Dutch 30th seed Kiki Bertens and will play 19th seeded Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova is she wins.


Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

Updated 20 January 2019
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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

HUDDERSFIELD: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was far from satisfied despite a 3-0 win away to Huddersfield Town on Sunday that saw his side cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to four points.
Liverpool’s compelling 4-3 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday heaped huge pressure back onto reigning champions City but they were rarely troubled by a Town side that look a certain bet for relegation this season.
City’s first goal, a deflected strike for Danilo in the 18th minute, brought up their 100th goal of the season in all competitions before Raheem Sterling scored a diving header from Leroy Sane’s cross in the 54th minute and Sane himself made it 3-0 with a calm finish just two minutes later.
For Guardiola, it should have been an afternoon of enjoyment as his side again proved their willingness to push Liverpool all the way this season.
The City manager, however, has forged a footballing reputation based on sublime performances as well as ruthless goalscoring and, on that basis, his team’s showing in West Yorkshire was not a success as the visitors never really clicked into gear on a day against a Huddersfield side who had parted company with manager David Wagner on Monday.
“During the season you have these kind of games,” Guardiola said. “It is important to win. We have scored many goals in all competitions.
“(But) the way we played, we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future.
“We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult.
“Today we are happy we have won but after immediately we have to analyze. During the season you have games when maybe you are not in the top level and it is important to win these games.”
Although City’s fans were happier than their manager following this result, Guardiola could at least take some heart from the fact his side again refused to blink first in the race for the title.
For the second consecutive week, City kicked off knowing Liverpool had already won their weekend fixture and that, consequently, the onus was back on his players to secure three points as well.
Once again, Guardiola’s side managed to do that following up the 3-0 victory over Wolves with this showing and the City manager was more than happy to remind everybody that silverware is not handed out for another four months.
“One team has been better but we’re in January and there’s many more games to play,” he added.
“You don’t win or lose the Premier League in January. We have to focus on what we have to do. If Liverpool win, we have to win. And if Liverpool lose then we also have to win.”
This match was a baptism of fire for Huddersfield’s caretaker boss Mark Hudson and while the Terriers showed impressive fight to inspire some hope this season, this defeat still left them 10 points adrift of safety.
If, as expected, the Borussia Dortmund Under-23 coach Jan Siewert is appointed as Wagner’s permanent replacement, nobody would blame him if he spent his first day in the job preparing for a return to the second-tier Championship next season.
“It’s been a long week,” admitted Hudson.