Roger Federer claims he is ready for Grand Slam No. 20

Roger Federer is once again in fine form in Melbourne
Updated 20 January 2018
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Roger Federer claims he is ready for Grand Slam No. 20

LONDON: Roger Federer has warned his rivals he is feeling fitter and more confident than this time last year when he shocked everyone to win his 18th Grand Slam title.
The Swiss sensation issued the warning after easily beating Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 in just under two hours to reach the last 16 in Melbourne.
Federer won 12 months ago on his return after six months out from injury, with many assuming the 36-year-old was no longer a Grand Slam threat. But having seen off the Frenchman he claimed he was in much better shape than a year ago and ready to win Grand Slam No. 20.
“I had a good season last year,” Federer said.
“The off-season was fantastic too and my last match was not that long ago.
“I’m coming in this year very fit, very well equipped knowing that five sets are not an issue, where as last year that was always the question mark.
“And with that question mark in mind there was always a tension there and I was carrying a groin injury for the last four or five matches because it was so intense.”
The Swiss has only lost twice to the stylish Frenchman in their 19 meetings, winning all their four Grand Slam encounters.
Significantly, Gasquet has not won a set against Federer since 2011, a run of 22 sets to the Swiss.
"I was able to stay more on the offensive than he was and maybe I was protecting my own serve better than him," Federer said.
"I was hoping I could play at that level. I'm very happy that I was able to rise to a level that I needed to beat Richard.
"It was tough. The score shows it, as well. I could have done it maybe a bit faster.
"At the same time I'm happy to have done it the way it happened. I was pleased. I think I had some good shots. I was happy the way I played. I also thought we both played a good level again, so it was fun."
Elsewhere, Novak Djokovic played down injury concerns after he sought a medical timeout for a lower back injury during his 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Spanish 21st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
The former world No. 1 sought a medical timeout early in the second set for treatment to his lower back.
Djokovic later played down the extent of the problem, saying: “It’s okay. Nothing major. I knew I wanted to use the medical timeout because I needed it,” he said.
“But at the same time I knew it was nothing major that can potentially raise a question mark on whether I can continue playing or not. It was fine.”


Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

Updated 17 August 2018
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Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

  • New boss Jorge Jesus to give start to new star signing after $17 million move from Al-Ain last week.
  • Al-Hilal coach keen to put on a good show in London and start season with silverware against Al-Ittihad.

LONDON: Jorge Jesus confirmed Omar Abdulrahman will make his Al-Hilal debut in the Saudi Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad on Saturday.
The UAE playmaker joined the Saudi Pro League champions last week in a loan deal from Al-Ain that was worth $17 million, a fee that has only been surpassed once in football history. 
The 26-year-old has been training with his new teammates at English football’s HQ at St. George’s Park this week and traveled down to London on Friday with the rest of the team ahead of the showpiece game at Loftus Road.
Abdulrahman has not played since May, when Al-Ain were dumped out of the AFC Champions League by Lekhwiya, and he was not considered for the Arab Club Champions Club on Sunday, but Jesus said the 2016 Asian Player of the Year is line to make his first appearance for his boyhood club this weekend.
“Omar is training with the team for five or six days,” said Jesus. “Intelligent players like Omar learn fast, so that’s why he will be part of the game.”
There are various subplots to the game in west London, not least the fact that Al-Ittihad coach Ramon Diaz comes up against the club that fired him in February. He won the double in the first season in Riyadh and then choreographed Al-Hilal’s run to the final of the AFC Champions League in his second. Now he goes up against Jesus, the Portuguese tactician who replaced him this summer.
“It’s true Diaz could know the players more and this could influence the match, but they are working with my ideas today and I expect the match to be an excellent game,” said Jesus.
Al-Hilal lost the Super Cup the last time it was held in London, losing to Al-Ahli on penalties in a thriller at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground. Jesus knows this year’s match could provide a launchpad for the season ahead and broaden the appeal of football in the Kingdom. 
“Everybody knows the importance of this match, because we play outside Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It represents the image of our football. We are happy to be present in London and play the Saudi Super Cup here. The eyes of Europe sees London as the center of football, so we need to create a good image of Saudi football.”

Jorge Jesus is looking to get his reign as Al-Hilal coach off to a winning start at QPR's Loftus Road ground on Saturday. 


Jesus will be without the injured Salman Al-Faraj, Abdullah Otayf and Nawaf Al-Abed while national team full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani will undergo a late fitness test. 
“We are missing some players but that should not reduce the importance of some players we have in the squad,” said Jesus. “We have to find our best combination of players to go to the match with.”
Mohammad Al-Shalhoub will captain the side from midfield following the departure of Osama Hawsawi and knows bragging rights are up for grabs on Saturday between Saudi Arabia’s two most successful clubs who have won the top prize in the Kingdom 23 times between them.
“It’s one match, there is no other chance,” he said. “We will do our best to win the cup. We can start the season well if we win this cup. We will fight hard to win, but Ittihad is doing their hardest to win it, too. We are super motivated to show a good level and start with a Saudi Super Cup victory.”
Al-Hilal labored to a 1-0 win over Al-Shabab on Sunday night and know they will need to be much nearer their best against last season’s King’s Cup winners.
“In the beginning of the season, you can have some difficulties,“ Al-Shalhoub said. “Our first home game in the Arab Cup we showed a good level, but we have to me more ready against Ittihad.”