Novak Djokovic fails to Master Monte Carlo after shock defeat to Dominic Thiem

Novak Djokovic lost in three sets to Austrian Dominic Thiem
Updated 19 April 2018
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Novak Djokovic fails to Master Monte Carlo after shock defeat to Dominic Thiem

  • Former world No.1 still searching for form after returning from injury.
  • Serb is without a title in nearly a year.

A day after needing 10 match points to advance, Novak Djokovic did not even come close to getting one.
The former world No.1 lost to Dominic Thiem 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters despite saying recently he was finally playing pain free after two years of struggles with a persistent right elbow injury.
Djokovic saved one match point against Thiem, but indecision appeared to cost him on the second. The ninth-seeded Djokovic seemed to change his mind about which shot to play, initially shaping up for a low backhand volley at the net but instead going for a backhand which went long.
Djokovic did save three set points in the first set, and the momentum carried over into the tiebreak. But his backhand let him down after that, with Thiem getting consecutive breaks and holding for the second set when Djokovic patted a two-handed backhand into the net.
Thiem, who also beat Djokovic on clay in last year’s French Open quarterfinals, will next face defending champion Rafael Nadal or Karen Khachanov.
Third-seeded Alexander Zverev could face his brother in the last eight after beating Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. He will next face either Mischa Zverev or Richard Gasquet.
“Hopefully my brother will win and it will be an amazing day tomorrow,” the younger Zverev said.
Second-seeded Marin Cilic advanced without hitting a ball after Milos Raonic pulled out with a right knee injury. Cilic, the Australian Open runner-up, will next play Kei Nishikori or Andreas Seppi.
Raonic said he hurt his knee during his second-round win on Wednesday.
“It was difficult yesterday early in the match, I rotated on my knee. I thought through treatment and so-forth it would be better,” Raonic said. “I was predisposed to some risk and I was unable to play with that amount of pain. I’ll know more in the (coming) days.”
Sixth-seeded David Goffin also made it through after beating Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-4, 7-5 in a match that included a bizarre incident involving a ball boy.
After dropping his serve to trail 4-1, Bautista Agut cleared a ball from the back of the court just as a ball boy was sprinting across. The ball, which was traveling slowly, bounced and clipped the ball boy on the head. Bautista Agut raised a hand in apology but still got a warning from the chair umpire.
Goffin, a semifinalist in Monte Carlo last year, was confused by what happened.
“I just saw the ball directly hitting the ball boy. I was surprised to see he (Bautista Agut) only got a warning,” Goffin said. “For me, if you send a ball onto the ball boy’s head, you’re (kicked) off. I don’t know what the rules are exactly, how he only got a warning. He said the ball bounced and the ball boy just happened to be there. Bad luck for him. But in any case, it’s just an incident.”
Goffin will next play Grigor Dimitrov in their first meeting on clay. The fourth-seeded Bulgarian beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.


Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

Updated 17 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

  • A double from Almoez Ali means Qatar top Group E.
  • Juan Antonio Pizzi's men now face Japan in second round on Monday.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia now know they will have to overcome Japan in the second round if they are to keep their hopes of a fourth Asian Cup title alive. 

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar meant Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men finished second in Group E — both sides went into the top-of-the-table clash knowing they had already secured a spot in the knockout stages. 

A brace from Almoez Ali in Abu Dhabi was enough to give Qatar the three points and leave them top of the group. 

From the kick-off the Green Falcons were the ones who looked the more likely to make the initial breakthrough —  Fahad Almuwallad slamming a right-foot shot against the post after 22 minutes.

Qatar captain Hasan Al-Haydos then missed a penalty in the 42nd minute after Ali had been clattered in the box.

But Ali, who scored four goals in Qatar's 6-0 rout of North Korea last weekend, made no mistake in first-half stoppage time.

He calmly slotted the ball past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais to become the first player to score six goals in a single Asian Cup since South Korea's Lee Dong-gook in 2000.

Ali subsequently headed in a seventh goal of the tournament 10 minutes from time, celebrating with a jig of delight.

While the defeat was not ideal Green Falcons coach Pizzi said he was still hopeful Saudi Arabia would be able to go far in the tournament. 

"It was an intense game but we have to hide our feelings and prepare for the last 16," Pizzi said.

"We were missing quality in the final third and individual errors have cost us," he added.

"But we will bounce back. I respect every team left in the competition, including Japan, but I don't feel that we are inferior to them in any way."

Qatar, who have never gone beyond the quarterfinals, advance to face Iraq in the last 16.