Rafael Nadal breezes into Wimbledon second round

Nadal made a winning return to the courts after his 11th French Open title.
Updated 03 July 2018
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Rafael Nadal breezes into Wimbledon second round

LONDON: World No.1 Rafael Nadal breezed into the Wimbledon second round on Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela as the Spaniard returned to action for the first time since claiming his 11th French Open title.
Nadal, the Wimbledon champion in 2008 and 2010, also managed to avoid falling victim to a player ranked outside the world top 100 for what would have been the fifth time in his last six visits to the All England Club.
“It’s great always to play here in Wimbledon, especially on Center Court,” said Nadal after seeing off world number 127 Sela.
“I’m just happy to be through of course and yes, this match gives me positive feelings. There’s still room to improve but after a while without playing on grass, of course it’s very important to start with a straight sets victory.”
Nadal, the 17-time major winner, has not got past the fourth round since finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2011.
Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro made it nine first round wins in nine appearances at the tournament, breezing past Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Del Potro, who made the semifinals in 2013, next faces Feliciano Lopez of Spain who on Tuesday set a record of playing 66 consecutive Grand Slams when he eased past Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Left-handed Lopez made his debut at the majors at the 2001 French Open.
On Tuesday, the 36-year-old broke the record for straight Slams which was previously held by Roger Federer.
“When I was about to break the record, I thought, wow, I’m going to beat Federer at something!” joked the 70th-ranked Lopez who has lost all 13 matches he has played against Federer in his career.
German fourth seed Alexander Zverev eased past world number 748 James Duckworth of Australia 7-5, 6-2, 6-0.
Zverev, who made the last 16 in 2017, goes on to face Taylor Fritz of the United States.
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza opened her title defense with a 6-2, 7-5 win over British wild card Naomi Broady.
Muguruza is bidding to reach her third Wimbledon final after winning last year’s title match against Venus Williams and losing the 2015 showpiece against Serena Williams.
The two-time Grand Slam champion needed 88 minutes to see off world No. 138 Broady on Center Court.
“I’m back, it’s always good, I’m thinking to win and actually enjoy this time more,” Muguruza said.
Third seed Muguruza, 24, next faces Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck.
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, who famously stunned Nadal at the tournament in 2014, marked his 50th match at the majors with a 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
Kyrgios, seeded 15, hammered down 42 aces and unleashed 78 winners.
Eugenie Bouchard, the runner-up in 2014 before her career went into a tailspin, reached the second round with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 victory over British wild card Gabriella Taylor.
Bouchard, now ranked 188 in the world, will face fellow former Wimbledon junior champion Ashleigh Barty for a spot in the last 32.
Belgium’s David Goffin, the 10th seed, slumped to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Australia’s Matthew Ebden, playing the tournament for the first time in three years.


Mahrez and Mane duel in rematch for Africa Cup of Nations glory

Updated 25 min 9 sec ago
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Mahrez and Mane duel in rematch for Africa Cup of Nations glory

  • Algerian star Mahrez was part of the Manchester City team that edged out Mane’s Liverpool for the English title last season
CAIRO: Riyad Mahrez and Sadio Mane will renew their Premier League rivalry for a second time in Egypt, with Africa Cup of Nations immortality awaiting the victor of Friday’s final between Algeria and Senegal.
Algerian star Mahrez was part of the Manchester City team that edged out Mane’s Liverpool for the English title last season, grabbing a pivotal goal on the final day of the campaign.
Liverpool standout Mane, however, is attempting to fulfill his “wildest dream” as one of just a handful of Africans to win both the UEFA Champions League and Cup of Nations.
For the marquee name in a Senegalese side ranked top of the continent, and a surprising 46 places above Algeria, the ride to the final for Mane and the Teranga Lions has encountered its share of roadbumps.
Two missed Mane spot-kicks, a group stage loss to Algeria, and the loss of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to a broken finger have tested Senegal’s resolve in their quest for the Holy Grail of African football.
Coach Aliou Cisse is on a mission for personal redemption. He was the skipper of the side beaten on penalties in the 2002 final, with his missed kick handing the title to Cameroon.
“Having lost that final, I still have it on my mind,” said former Paris Saint-Germain and Birmingham City midfielder Cisse.
“What motivated me to become a coach was to be able to take Senegal to the final. My players told me they would do better than my generation.”
A maiden Cup of Nations for his country is a prize for which Mane readily admitted he would trade in last month’s Champions League title.
“I’m ready to even swap a Champions League for a Cup of Nations. Going to Dakar with the trophy would be extraordinary. It would be my wildest dream,” Mane told France Football ahead of the competition.
Standing in the way, however, is an Algerian outfit that has undergone a remarkable transformation since the arrival of Djamel Belmadi as coach a year ago.
The Desert Foxes failed miserably in World Cup qualifying, but the steely Belmadi has healed divisions in the squad to lead them to the brink of a first Cup of Nations triumph since 1990.
“To the Algerian people, I want to say I’m not a politician, not a miracle worker or a wizard, but that we will fight like we have fought to this point,” Belmadi said after the semifinal win over Nigeria.
Algeria are the leading scorers in Egypt with 12 goals, including Mahrez’s spectacular last-gasp free-kick against Nigeria, and haven’t trailed at all in the tournament.
“Algeria are so well organized, so compact, so ‘Guardiolaesque’ in the way they recover the ball,” opined experienced international coach Claude Le Roy. “Perhaps it is the influence of Mahrez.”
The Algeria captain has been in fine form for his country here, brimming with confidence after helping City to the domestic treble.
“We are very happy to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations because it is something very special,” said Mahrez.
“It was our goal to do it for the people and for our families. We know they are behind us all the way. It’s my dream to win the Cup of Nations.”
“It’s going to be another battle against Senegal,” he added. “We’ve been very good in this competition. The (Nigeria) match has given us more confidence for the final and we’re capable of winning it.”
Their hopes will boosted by the absence of Senegal’s defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly, whose yellow card in the semifinal victory over Tunisia cruelly ruled the Napoli star out of the final.
“It hurts to not be able to play. But I will be beside my brothers to write history,” tweeted Koulibaly, the cornerstone of a defense breached just once so far.