Rafael Nadal into fourth round of Australian Open

Spain's Rafael Nadal hits a forehand return to Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina during their match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne. Nadal reached the fourth round in Australia for the 11th time with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 win over Dzumhur. (AP)
Updated 19 January 2018
0

Rafael Nadal into fourth round of Australian Open

MELBOURNE: The heat wasn’t a factor for Rafael Nadal this time against Damir Dzumhur, despite the searing temperature causing trouble for players earlier Friday at the Australian Open.
Nadal reached the fourth round in Australia for the 11th time with the 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 win, and leveled his career head-to-head record with Dzumhur.
The 16-time major winner lost their only previous meeting when he had to retire because of heat-related issues in the third set at Miami in 2016, giving Dzumhur the win that day.
It was also a change of scenery for Nadal, who was playing on Margaret Court Arena — the No. 2 venue at Melbourne Park — while local hope Nick Kyrgios played Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a night match at Rod Laver Arena.
The youngest player in the tournament and the oldest player in the men’s draw went out earlier on Day 5.
Fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina ended 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk’s run with a 6-2, 6-2 victory, then met her fellow Ukrainian at the net for a warm embrace and some words of encouragement.
“She’s a great fighter,” Svitolina, one of five women in contention for the No. 1 ranking, said of her fellow Ukrainian. “We’re going to hear a lot more about her.”
Andreas Seppi withstood 52 aces from 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic for a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-7 (5), 9-7 win in 3 hours and 51 minutes in an afternoon match.
Players were bothered and spectators clamored for shade and mist-spraying fans in searing heat earlier Friday, and organizers were on the verge of enforcing the tournament’s extreme heat policy before temperatures dropped significantly after peaking around 2 p.m. local time.
Play can be suspended at the Australian Open if the temperature 40 Celsius (104F) and a combination of factors — including temperature, humidity and breeze — reaches an unbearable limit.
Alize Cornet, who needed a medical timeout and a doctor to take her blood pressure as she struggled with heat stress in her 7-5, 6-4 third-round loss to Elize Mertens, was among those suggesting the extreme heat policy needs reviewing.
“I started to feel dizzy. ... I was feeling super, super hot. I kind of felt that I could faint at any moment,” she said, adding that while precautions were taken by tournament officials, “playing in this condition is of course very dangerous for the health of the player.
“The limit of not playing the match is really high. ... I think this limit should be a little bit lower.”
No. 3-seeded Grigor Dimitrov beat No. 30 Andrey Rublev 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in just over three hours after the change came through and said “the heat didn’t scare me at all today.”
Kyle Edmund overcame Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 in 3 ½ hours on an open court in the peak of the heat, earning a spot in the next round against Seppi. No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta had a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over No. 23 Gilles Muller.
Kostyuk entered the tournament ranked No. 521 — a number that will likely be halved next month — and had wins over 25th-seeded Peng Shuai and Olivia Rogowska to become the youngest player to win main-draw matches at the Australian Open since Martina Hingis in 1996.
The step up to facing a top 10 player was too much.
Svitolina, the only seeded player still in contention in her quarter, had five aces, only 11 unforced errors and didn’t serve a double fault in the 59-minute match.
Kostyuk, who had nine double-faults — including one on match point — sobbed into a towel in the tunnel soon after leaving the court, but could joke about the defeat when asked later what she could take out of the experience.
“Well, a lot,” she said. “How much you have to pay Svitolina to have one-hour lesson? I got it for free.”
Svitolina will next play Denisa Allertova, who beat Magda Linette 6-1, 6-4. No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova had a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win over Kateryna Bondarenko.
Petra Martic celebrated her 27th birthday with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 over Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum.
“That was really ugly,” Martic said of the heat. “We were lucky to play on Rod Laver because we had some shade behind so you could hide for a few seconds in between the points.
“Other than that, you need to be mentally tough and ready to just suffer out there.”


Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

Updated 24 May 2018
0

Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

  • Mohamed Salah lines up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday
  • Mohamed Salah has been unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region

LONDON: On Saturday Mohamed Salah will line up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
He will do so not only with the every member of the Red army behind him, but also the entire Arab world.
That is testament to his stratospheric rise — over the past nine months the Egyptian ace has gone from being a very good player, but one deemed as needing to justify his $52 million transfer fee, to a global superstar and cultural phenomenon.
As with any sporting star, with the adulation and attention comes potential pitfalls and, invariably, a new lexicon. So it was not surprising to hear the 25-year-old speak of “his brand” when he was unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region on Wednesday. Stars becoming brands is almost cliche now and one that Salah has clearly taken on board — he now has even his own logo.
“We are proud of him. Over the past two years, no has done what he has done. He has proved himself as one of the best and we wanted to deal with no one else, just him,” CEO of DHL in the Middle East and North Africa, Nour Suliman, said. “He is competing on another level and is the star of the Arab world. No one in the Arab world has done what he is doing. We are very proud to have him.”
Those types of corporate events, where a big multinational signs a deal with the latest big, young thing, lend themselves to the odd dollop of hyperbole. But there is little doubting the impact Salah has had on the pitch for Liverpool and Egypt, and off it in becoming a true Arab icon. And his utterance of the word “brand” is where Salah as a walking cliche begins and ends.
Every year in Egypt ahead of Ramadan the best dates are named after the most popular person in the country — the man or woman revered by the nation at that moment. In the past, the staple food of the holy month has tended to be named after political leaders.
This year there was no competition: The most succulent date has been named after Salah. At the DHL press conference he was presented with a packet of dates emblazoned with his face and name.
It said much about the man that he both looked and confessed to being “embarrassed.”
This week the British Museum in London displayed Salah’s green football boots as part of its Modern Egypt exhibition. And in a documentary about the player broadcast in the UK, he was credited with increasing attendances at England’s oldest mosque in Liverpool and improving the image of Islam by Dr. Abdul Hamid, a trustee at the mosque.
So while the signing of big deals hints he is very much the modern-day footballing superstar, everything else off the pitch suggests something else.
Salah is on social media, but does not, like many sports stars, live on it; he knows he is a hero for many, but pays more than mere lip service to his position as a role model; and he embraces attention (of both opposition defenders and fans) rather than seemingly getting annoyed by it if things are not going his way.
“I am not heavy into social media, I am on it and aware of it, but I don’t follow it that closely. It does not influence me,” he said.
“I am aware young people look up to me and I feel great that they do and that I can influence a young footballer to play better or train harder, or do better; that that makes me proud.”
This season Salah has done what few footballers have done before, transcend the game, and he has done so in a way characterized by benevolence rather than bluster.
Against Real Madrid he can again illustrate just what a talent he is — and if he does lead Liverpool to their sixth European Cup triumph, you get the feeling he will not let the adulation go to his head.