Elise Mertens reaches semifinals on debut at Australian Open

Elize Mertens of Belgium celebrates winning against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. (Reuters)
Updated 23 January 2018
0

Elise Mertens reaches semifinals on debut at Australian Open

MELBOURNE: A year after opting out of qualifying for the Australian Open, Elise Mertens has reached the semifinals in her debut at the season-opening major.
Mertens upset fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-0 on Tuesday to extend her winning streak to 10 matches and be the first woman through to the semifinals at Melbourne Park. She's the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters in 2012 to reach the semifinals in Australia.
She trains at Clijsters' academy and knew the four-time major winner was watching on TV.
"Kim, thanks for watching, I knew you sent me a message before the match — don't be too stressy," Mertens said. "I'm trying to be in your footsteps this week."
The No. 37-ranked Mertens successfully defended her Hobart International title — she decided last year to target that title instead of enter Open qualifying — two weeks ago, and has now won five matches at Melbourne Park.
Mertens dominated against Svitolina, who also entered her first quarterfinal in Australia on a nine-match winning roll after winning the Brisbane International two week ago.
Svitolina had won their only previous tour-level match, but had no answers on Rod Laver Arena.
Mertens raced out to a 5-2 in the first set before Svitolina got her only service break. The second set was no contest. Mertens won a 27-point rally while holding serve in the fourth game, then hit a backhand winner into the open corner to break Svitolina in the next game for a 5-0 lead.
Svitolina, who had a late finish to her fourth-round match that started just before midnight Sunday, framed an overhead and hit it over the baseline to give Mertens match point. Mertens duly finished it with a backhand crosscourt winner.
Mertens will play either second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki or Carla Suarez Navarro in the semis.
In other quarterfinals, top-seeded Rafael Nadal was playing No. 6 Marin Cilic and No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov faced Kyle Edmund.


Morocco could be part of joint bid to host 2030 World Cup with Spain and Portugal

Updated 20 November 2018
0

Morocco could be part of joint bid to host 2030 World Cup with Spain and Portugal

  • Morocco beaten by US, Canada and Mexico bid to host 2026 World Cup.
  • Spanish PM says King Mohammed VI 'welcomed the proposal warmly.'

RABAT: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday that he had pitched the idea of a joint bid between his country, Portugal and Morocco to host the 2030 World Cup.
“I made the proposal, firstly to the government then to King Mohammed VI to launch a shared application with Morocco, Portugal and Spain to host the 2030 World Cup,” Sanchez said in Rabat after a meeting with the monarch.
“It will be the first two-continent application, with Europe and Africa, and King Mohammed VI welcomed the proposal warmly.”
Earlier this year the King ordered the Royal Moroccan Football Federation to launch their own World Cup bid but the office of the Moroccan prime minister, Saad Eddine el Othmani, refused to comment on Sanchez’s statement when contacted by AFP.
The north African country has failed five times to bring the tournament to the southern shores of the Mediterranean, with the United States, Canada and Mexico most recently beating them to the 2026 competition.
Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay have proposed a bid to coordinate the 2030 event, which will mark 100 years since the first tournament.
Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia are also considering a joint bid, as are the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
The official bidding process is set to being in 2020.