Novak Djokovic routs Rafael Nadal to win seventh Australian Open title

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the Australian Open title against Spain’s Rafael Nadal on Sunday, January 27. (Reuters)
Updated 27 January 2019
0

Novak Djokovic routs Rafael Nadal to win seventh Australian Open title

  • The Serbian world number one dominated the Spanish second seed to win his 15th Grand Slam title
  • Victory extended Djokovic’s win-loss record against Nadal to 28-25

MELBOURNE: An imperious Novak Djokovic won a record magnificent seventh Australian Open title by routing Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 Sunday with a display of flawless tennis.
The Serbian world number one dominated the Spanish second seed to win his 15th Grand Slam title in just 2hr 4min on Rod Laver Arena.
It put Djokovic, 31, out on his own ahead of Roger Federer and Roy Emerson, who both won six Australian Open men’s singles titles.
Djokovic dropped to the court and kissed the ground after vanquishing his greatest rival.
No two men have met more often in the Open Era, this was their 53rd meeting, and no pair have pushed one another harder or further.
Their only previous final in Australia, in 2012, developed into a record-breaking 5hr 53min slugfest — the longest in Grand Slam history.
A repeat of that epic never materialized with Nadal uncharacteristically nervous at the start and Djokovic taking immediate advantage.
The Spaniard had not had his service broken since the third set of his first round match but that streak ended in a flash as the Serb came sprinting out of the blocks.
Djokovic was in imperious control on his own delivery and won his first four service games without conceding a single point, even inducing Nadal to miss a forehand completely on the way to grabbing the set in 36 minutes.
The second set followed a similar pattern, with Djokovic racing through games on his own serve, while Nadal struggled to hold.
The pressure told in the fifth game and Djokovic broke again when Nadal hit a lob volley long after an exchange at the net.
Djokovic had only conceded two points on serve in the entire match to this point but Nadal had his first sniff at breaking when he got to 30-15 ahead and deuce, twice.
Djokovic had to withstand pressure for the first time in the match, overcoming the threat with a roar and a fist pump to go 4-2 ahead.
The on-song Serb was so fired up he came straight out and broke Nadal again to go to 5-2 before serving out for a two-set lead with three aces in a row with just 1hr 16min on the clock.
The statistics were as telling as the scoreline: Djokovic had served eight aces to Nadal’s one and made just four unforced errors while the Spaniard had coughed up 20.
When Djokovic broke again in the third game of the third set it was just a matter of how quickly he would finish off Nadal.
The end was swift, as Djokovic withstood one break point at 3-2 before administering the last rites in a flurry of winners off both wings.
Victory extended his win-loss record against Nadal to 28-25 and squared the Grand Slam final count between the pair at 4-4.
Djokovic has now completed a hat-trick of Slams following his wins at Wimbledon and the US Open.
He will go to Paris in May for the French Open seeking to become the only man in the Open Era to win all four majors twice.


Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 20 July 2019
0

Algeria sink Senegal in fiery final to claim second Africa Cup of Nations

  • Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute
  • For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on

CAIRO: Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal propelled Algeria to a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 29 years after a fiery 1-0 victory over Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Friday’s final in Cairo.

Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute when his deflected shot looped over Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, and it proved enough for the 1990 champions to lift the trophy on foreign soil for the first time.

For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on as coach Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 runners-up, again fell short in the final.

It was the first title-decider to feature two African coaches since 1998, with Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi completing a whirlwind 12 months at the helm after inheriting a side that failed to make it out of the group stage two years ago.

With defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly suspended for Senegal, Salif Sane deputised at the back and Ismaila Sarr was recalled in attack, while Belmadi kept faith in the same side that overcame Nigeria with an injury-time free-kick from Riyad Mahrez.

Senegal had understandably feared the absence of Napoli star Koulibaly, banned after two bookings in the knockout rounds, although the towering Sane was desperately unlucky as Algeria grabbed the lead with scarcely a minute played.

As Bounedjah took aim from 20 yards his effort smacked off Sane and arced high into the air before dropping underneath the crossbar and beyond a static Gomis, sparking delirious celebrations from both players and fans, some of whom arrived for the final on military planes provided by the Algerian government.

It was the first time Gomis had conceded in almost 400 minutes in Egypt having replaced the injured Edouard Mendy ahead of Senegal’s final group game.

Henri Saivet, who missed a penalty in the 1-0 victory over Tunisia, tried to catch Rais Mbohli out with a free-kick while Mbaye Niang fizzed a powerful drive just over as Senegal gradually showed signs of life before the half ended with both sets of players embroiled in a scuffle as they headed for the tunnel.

Senegal thought they had won a penalty on the hour when Cameroonian referee Alioum Alioum pointed to the spot for a suspected handball by Adlene Guedioura, but the official reversed his decision after a VAR review.

Niang rounded an advancing Mbohli after a searching ball through from Cheikhou Kouyate but the forward sliced wide of the target from a tough angle, with the Algeria ‘keeper then acrobatically tipping over a rasping drive from Youssouf Sabaly.

The Desert Foxes started to look jaded as Senegal brought on fresh legs in Krepin Diatta and Mbaye Diagne, but Youcef Belaili nearly made it 2-0 when his cross brushed the head of a defender and skimmed the roof of the net.

Sarr blazed over on the volley as Algeria clung on to their advantage in the closing minutes, the final whistle greeted by an outpouring of raw emotion as the North Africans emerged worthy winners of the expanded 24-team event.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman telephoned Algeria’s interim president Abdelkader Bensalah to congratulate him on Algeria’s African Cup of Nations win, with Bensalah thanking the king for his phone call.