‘We don’t fear anyone,’ says European captain Bjorn

Thomas Bjorn’s got one eye on the Ryder Cup and one eye on Tiger Woods. (Reuters)
Updated 24 September 2018
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‘We don’t fear anyone,’ says European captain Bjorn

  • Thomas Bjorn: I spent 25 years playing professional golf with Tiger Woods on the scene, and any time he does anything great, that’s a story and that’s where we want to see him
  • Bjorn: We don’t fear anyone because we’ve played against them so many times before individually but we respect our opponents and know what we are up against

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, FRANCE: Europe captain Thomas Bjorn said ‘his team “don’t fear anyone” as they prepare to take on a powerful United States line-up packed with nine major champions including a resurgent Tiger Woods at this week’s Ryder Cup.
France’s Le Golf National, just south of Paris, is only the second European venue outside of Britain and Ireland to stage the biennial showdown in which the United States will be targeting a first win on foreign soil since 1993.
The Americans are bidding to retain the trophy after a 17-11 rout at Hazeltine two years ago, and bring over a squad that has combined for 31 major titles — compared to just eight for Europe.
“These are 24 of the best players in the world, and you know, when they go up against each other, they are all capable of amazing things on both sides,” Bjorn told reporters at a joint press conference with US counterpart Jim Furyk on Monday.
“We don’t fear anyone because we’ve played against them so many times before individually but we respect our opponents and know what we are up against. That I think is the key to all this.
“We’ll go out and do what we can and play our game. What stands on the other side we know is one of the strongest American teams of all time, and we know we’ve got to play our best to come up against this team.”
The star attraction in France will undoubtedly be Woods, who is making his first Ryder Cup appearance since 2012 following a long road back from injury that threatened to curtail his career.
Woods won the Tour Championship on Sunday at East Lake for his 80th career US PGA Tour title, two shy of Sam Snead’s all-time record, and his first victory in 1,876 days.
“I spent 25 years playing professional golf with Tiger Woods on the scene, and any time he does anything great, that’s a story and that’s where we want to see him,” said Bjorn.
“We want to see him at the top of the game. He does so much for the game of golf. Watching that last night, I thought it was brilliant to watch. It was great for the greater aspect of the game.”
Fans chanted “Ti-ger, Ti-ger” and “U-S-A, U-S-A” amid a spectator stampede surrounding Woods in a rush to see him on the 18th green, with the 42-year-old fighting back tears before his clinching putt.
“I think you could see the emotion in talking about fighting back tears. I think the arms in the air and the fist in the air, it was important for him to win,” Furyk said of Woods.
“When you look at now, maybe comparing past Ryder Cups to this one, I think what’s so special is Tiger has engrained himself in our team atmosphere and became such a big part of the team in 2016 as a vice captain, and then again in 2017 as an assistant captain at the Presidents Cup.
“I think it’s special for him now to kind of join these younger players as a teammate.”
Furyk says Woods’ presence will simply add another level of anticipation to an event that is expected to welcome more than 270,000 fans through the turnstiles.
“It obviously brings — not that this event needs much more energy or that brought to it; it’s probably the biggest, the grandest event in all of golf but it will add that much more excitement, I believe, and you know, it’s exciting either way, but it adds to it,” he said.


Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

Updated 22 February 2019
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Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

  • World No. 4 wins third three-setter of the week beat Hsieh Su-wei and claim place in the final.
  • Swiss star Bencic deals a forehand smash to Svitolina's chances of unprecedented hat-trick.

LONDON: If Petra Kvitova does get her hands on the Dubai trophy against Belinda Bencic on Saturday, she will be quick to admit she did it the hard way.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was once again made to toil at the Aviation Club as she finally overcame Hsieh Su-Wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. It was her third three-setter in four days and came about as much through sheer grit and determination as any superior groundstrokes or serves.
“Yeah, it was (tough),” the Czech said.
“It was a tough one, for sure. She really didn’t give me anything for free.
“It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. Anyway I didn’t play great at the end of the first.”
Coming into the event the world No. 4 admitted she was undercooked and in need of some game time. While, in hindsight, the three-setters against Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady in the first two rounds probably did her some good, another match that went the distance was probably not in the ideal script for the 2013 Dubai champion.
But Hsieh is a tricky opponent and she proved it once again on Centre Court. The world No. 31 hits two-handed shots off both sides and was trying to beat her fourth top-10 seed of the week. That included wins over Angelique Kerber in the third round and Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

Bencic will try to upset Kvitova in Saturday's final at the Aviation Club (AFP) 


She started off in much the same vein as she had finished against Kerber and Pliskova, hurrying Kvitova around the court and making life as uncomfortable as possible under the hot Dubai sun.
“She’s very tricky,” Kvitova said about Hsieh, who grabbed five games in a row to take the opening set and go up 1-0 in the second.
“I didn’t really play the best at the end of the first set. But I calmed down afterwards a little bit,” Kvitova said.
“With Hsieh, I need to be a little bit patient. ... It’s not really that easy to make those winners against her.”
While she has 
not consistently displayed her A-game this week it should come as no shock that Kvitova has made today’s final. It was the second seed’s 17th victory of 2019 — a feat bettered by no one — and it will be her third final of the season and 35th of her career. She revealed that her presence in the showdown is thanks to her mental toughness and she admitted that after a long week she will have to draw on that a lot today.
“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was more calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set,” Kvitova said.
“I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow — it was something weird.
“I’m a bit tired right now, to be honest. I have a final, so I don’t know how I going to recover. Hopefully I have a few hours to do something with me.”
Of her sparkling form so far this year she said: “It’s a bit weird, to be honest. I didn’t really expect anything like that. Well, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything, which I already achieved this year. For me, everything is just bonus.
“As I mentioned, the tennis, it’s a bit like escape this week. This is unbelievable to be in the final when I’m escaping from something. Yeah, very interesting.”
In the other semifinal Bencic once again upset the odds to overcome world No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3, 7-6. The Swiss went into the clash as the underdog, but from the off the world No. 45 was aggressive and deservedly won.
In doing so she ended Svitolina’s 12-match winning streak in Dubai and ended the two-time defending champion’s hopes of becoming the first woman to win three Dubai titles in a row.