‘Excited’ Caroline Wozniacki stutters into Australian Open semifinal

Caroline Wozniacki celebrates after defeating Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro during their quarterfinal at the Australian Open. (AP)
Updated 24 January 2018
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‘Excited’ Caroline Wozniacki stutters into Australian Open semifinal

MELBOURNE: Second seed Caroline Wozniacki withstood a fightback from Spain's unseeded Carla Suarez Navarro to stutter into the semi-finals of the Australian Open 6-0, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2.
"I knew it was going to be tough against her because in the first set a lot of games were very close," said the Dane, who is into a second semi-final at Melbourne Park, after losing her first against China's Li Na back in 2011.
"Another semi-final here, I'm excited," she added after completing a see-saw win in 2 hour 11 minutes.
Wozniacki will face another unseeded player, Elise Mertens of Belgium, on Thursday for a place in the final.
"She's had a very good start to the year, she's unbeaten I think," she said of Mertens.
The former world No. 1 has often failed to live up to the hype in the majors, but in the opening set she outplayed Suarez Navarro who was trying to become the first Spaniard to make the last four since Conchita Martinez in 2000.
Wozniacki was 100 percent successful with service returns and had just three unforced errors in as near a perfect display as is possible over 34 one-sided minutes against the world No. 39.
Her level inevitably dropped and she had to fend off a break point at the start of the second.
Suarez Navarro finally got on the board in the eighth game to prevent a dreaded "double bagel" 6-0, 6-0 scoreline.
It fired up the gritty Spaniard and she sparked the late night crowd into life by breaking Wozniacki, whose accuracy began to desert her.
"She improved and made me step behind the baseline," said Wozniacki. "That made the difference."
Suarez Navarro suddenly found her timing and had a break point in the next service game which the Dane saved with her sixth ace before breaking back to level at 4-4.
Serving at 4-5 Suarez Navarro, who was in her sixth Grand Slam quarter-final and third in Australia but had never progressed further, saved a match point before taking it to a third on her first set point in the tiebreak.
"I was disappointed after I had my chance to win in the second set," said Wozniacki.
"But I'm proud to have stayed cool and close it out in the third."
Wozniacki regrouped and at 1-1 broke Suarez Navarro's serve.
When she repeated the dose to lead 5-2, the Spaniard's resolve was broken and she served out at 1:38 am on Wednesday morning in another late-night finish.


Al-Ittihad new boy Matthew Jurman eyes successful start against Al-Hilal in London

Updated 17 August 2018
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Al-Ittihad new boy Matthew Jurman eyes successful start against Al-Hilal in London

  • The Kingdom’s two most successful clubs go head-to-head at Queens Park Rangers’ Loftus Road stadium
  • Matthew Jurman: I didn’t expect to play my first game for my new club in London and it is a big occasion, a final

LONDON: New signing Matthew Jurman is excited about the prospect of launching his Al-Ittihad career against Al-Hilal in the Saudi Super Cup in London today.
The Kingdom’s two most successful clubs will go head-to-head at Queens Park Rangers’ Loftus Road stadium with last season’s league winners and the King’s Cup holders doing battle for the first piece of silverware of the season.
Jurman only arrived this summer on a two-year deal from South Korean side Suwon Samsung Bluewings, and a game against Al-Hilal represents quite the baptism for the Australia international defender.
“I didn’t expect to play my first game for my new club in London and it is a big occasion, a final,”
Jurman, 28, said.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than that for a first game and I am looking forward to it and hope to get the right result.”
In a bid to improve on last season’s ninth-place finish, Al-Ittihad have been very active in the transfer market this summer, bringing in Jurman, Serbia international striker Aleksandar Pesic, Brazilian left-back Thiago Carleto, Moroccan international midfielder Karim El-Ahmadi and Saudi Arabia internationals Hassan Muath Fallatah and Abdullah Al-Shammari. They could all be given their debut in the UK by new coach Ramon Diaz in front of what is expected to be a bumper crowd. Nearly 17,000 fans attended the last staging of the match in London in 2016.
“There are quite a few new foreigners in the team who are excited about our fans and a lot of players who have been here for years who have told me about the fans and the atmosphere at home,” said Jurman. “I am looking forward to meeting them. I heard that the crowd is almost sold out in QPR’s stadium and we just want to start the season off with a win. It would be the perfect way to kick off.”
Al-Hilal won the league last season, pipping Al-Ahli by a point on the final day, but they failed to get the better of Al-Ittihad, drawing both games 1-1. However, the champions have signalled their intent to make the title a one-horse race this season with some headline-grabbing moves in the transfer market.
They raided Olympiacos for their captain Alberto Botia, signed Andre Carrillo who played in the Premier League last season and convinced Jorge Jesus to end a trophy-laden spell in Portugal — he won the league three times with Benfica and won six domestic cups — and become their new high-profile coach. And then, just to top things off, they paid the second highest ever loan fee in world football to sign Omar Abdulrahman, the darling of Middle Eastern football, from Al-Ain. They have also got Salem Al-Dawsari back after a six-month loan spell in Spain. The Riyadh giants will take some stopping this season and Al-Ittihad will have their work cut out in London today.
“We know that Al-Hilal are a good team and the champions, but have also made some big signings since then,” said Jurman.
“We respect them and are ready for a tough game but are confident that we can go out there and play the way the coach wants us to play and get the right result.”
The match will mark a club debut for Abdulrahman, the UAE international playmaker who was born in Riyadh and who was on the books of Al-Hilal as a teenager before being recruited by Al-Ain. Al-Ittihad will need to pay special attention to him, but not at the expense of overlooking the threat posed by Omar Khribin, Carlos Eduardo and Carrillo.
“Omar is a dangerous player, we all know that, but he is one of many and we are not going to be focused on him alone,” said Jurman. “I have played against him in the past in an Under-23 game and could see what a good player he was. I won’t be marking him specifically but we all know how dangerous he is and will be watching him closely. That is the same with all the players.”