Rafael Nadal admits Australian Open exit was tough to take

A glum-looking Rafael Nadal after he was forced to retire from his quarterfinal against Marin Cilic. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Rafael Nadal admits Australian Open exit was tough to take

LONDON: Rafal Nadal revealed being forced to retire from his Australian Open last-eight clash against Marin Cilic was hard to accept.
The world No. 1 walked off the court while trailing 2-0 in the fifth and final set to gift the Croatian a spot in the semifinals. Nadal had won the first set 6-3 before Cilic came back to take the second by the same scoreline. It was during the third set, which he won in a tiebreak, that Nadal said he felt a pain in his thigh. Cilic won the fourth set 6-2 before the Spaniard called it quits.
And the 16-time Grand Slam champion found the result tough to take.
“Tough moments — not (for) the first time here,” Nadal said.
“I’m a positive person, but today is an opportunity lost to be in a semifinal for a Grand Slam and fight for an important title for me.
“It’s really tough to accept.”
The 31-year-old said he would have medical scans on Wednesday to determine the exact location and extent of the injury, which he could only describe as being high on his right leg but not in the hip.
“Unbelievable performance from both of us and really unfortunate for Rafa,” Cilic said.
“He’s such an unbelievable competitor. He always gives his best, it’s very unfortunate for him to finish this way.”
Cilic now faces surprise package Kyle Edmund in the last four, and of his next opponent he said: “He had an amazing run and a great match today. I have to keep going with my own game. Kyle is also a big hitter so I have to take things into my own hands and deal with my own court in the best way possible.”


Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

Updated 4 min 31 sec ago
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Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

ST. PETERSBURG: Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday, moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup’s knockout stage.
Mohamed Salah won and converted a penalty for a consolation goal on his return from injury but Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years could be over in barely five days following a second straight loss.
Ahmed Fathi poked the ball into his own net — the fifth own-goal of the tournament — to put Russia ahead in the 47th minute. Then Denis Cheryshev and Artyom Dzyuba scored in quick succession to leave Russia on course for a victory that followed up a 5-0 opening-night win over Saudi Arabia.
It was Cheryshev’s third goal of the World Cup, putting him tied with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday. Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt, which started with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
The hopes of 100 million Egyptians were raised when Salah was selected in the starting lineup, the Liverpool forward making his comeback after 3 1/2 weeks out with damaged ligaments in his left shoulder after a tangle with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final.
Salah trotted out for his pre-match warmup to roars from Egypt fans, who at times appeared to outnumber their Russian counterparts. They shouted every time Salah’s face flashed up on the big screen and when his name was announced before kickoff.
Yet from the start, it was clear that Salah was staying out of anything too physical and there was no concerted effort from his Egypt teammates to pick him out each time. He didn’t touch the ball until the seventh minute.
He did win the penalty — confirmed by the video assistant referee after Salah was pulled down by Roman Zobnin. He converted it in the 73rd minute, but it wasn’t enough. Egypt is still without a victory in six World Cup matches.
Russia is nearly assured of advancing from the group stage for the first time since the Soviet era.
Cheryshev, who entered the World Cup as a fringe player, is proving lethal in front of goal, with his latest a side-footed effort from close range from Mario Fernandes’ cross in the 59th. Dzyuba’s goal was more direct, the striker chesting down a long ball from defender Ilya Kutepov, beating his marker and curling home a low finish.