Saudi International: Ones to watch

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Who will be the first golfer to lift the Saudi International trophy? (AFP)
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Updated 30 January 2019

Saudi International: Ones to watch

  • Strong field at the inaugural Saudi International, with big names such as Dustin Johnson in contention.
  • Four of world's top five to tee it up at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club

LONDON: The Saudi International sees a host of big names tee it up at the untested Royal Greens Golf and Country club. Here we run the rule over the main contenders to lift the trophy come Sunday afternoon.

JUSTIN ROSE, one Major, world No.1


“We’ve seen in the past players who play well in the Middle East early in the year going on to have very successful seasons. Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year, for example, or Danny Willett three years ago winning in Dubai and then at the Masters. The Saudi International is an opportunity for players to lay down a marker in a strong field.”


Rose comes into the tournament on the back of a hugely impressive win at Torrey Pines. He will be looking for a good week against a strong field to lay down another marker that he is the man to beat this year.


BROOKS KOEPKA, three Majors, world No. 2


“I always want to play against the world’s best players as it helps to sharpen my game. I enjoy the intensity of coming down the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win and that is even better when you are playing against the likes of my good friend DJ or Justin or Henrik, the list goes on.”


The big-hitting American lost his world No. 1 ranking to Rose and will be out to show that with his three Majors in the past 18 months he is the true best in the business.


DUSTIN JOHNSON, one Major, World No. 3


“There are so many great players, you’ve got to bring your game every single week. It’s very important to come prepared every wee, no matter where you're playing, what the tournament is and compete. It’s definitely going to be a good year, and I am definitely looking to challenge Rosey for the top spot.”


There is a sense that having continued to win titles at a greater pace than anyone else over the past few years DJ is impatient for more Majors and returning to top spot. A good showing here will set his stall for the season.


BRYSON DECHAMBEAU, Dubai Desert Classic champions, World No. 5


“I’ve kind of already checked one off the box, winning internationally and winning on The European Tour. The next one is going to be a major. I've got to get that done. I know I can. I know I've got the game for it. It's just about making, again, the proper adjustments and taking control of the pressure when it comes.”


DeChambeau is golf’s man of the moment. The idiosyncratic golfer won last week in Dubai and the feeling is that he is going to the very top of the game. For a host of reasons the American is one to watch.


SERGIO GARCIA, 2017 US Master champion, world No. 27


“Any win, any win is good. It doesn’t matter where, I’ve always said it, it doesn't matter where or against who. Winning nowadays is tough anywhere in the world. But when you are playing against the quality of this field it means a bit more. It would be nice to win here and that’s what I am going to try to do.”


The Spaniard ended last year with another win at Valderrama and is looking to start the year on a high has won in Dubai and likes desert style golf so will be expecting a good finish.


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

Updated 18 April 2019

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

  • Medvedev eliminates 6th seed Tsitsipas in three sets

MONTE CARLO: Top seed Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in dominating wins to power into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.

Djokovic extended his winning streak against US players with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Taylor Fritz.

The two-time tournament champion has now won nine in a row over Americans since losing at Wimbledon in 2016 to Sam Querrey.

“It was very challenging to play in these (windy) conditions,” Djokovic said. “Taylor just flattens the ball.

“We had five, six close games in the first set, I just managed to break his resistance midway through.

“After that, things went on my side and I felt more comfortable.

“This was one of these days where you just have to hang in there and try to put an extra ball back in the court — that was enough.”

Nadal repeated last year’s semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov, beating the Bulgarian for the 12th time, 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m very, very happy, this is an important victory for me,” the second seed said after winning his 23rd consecutive set at the tournament.

“Grigor is a super talent and is very dangerous. It was a positive match for me.

“I had a good day, I can be happy with what I did on court.

“When you don’t play on clay for almost a year, every win is important for the confidence, especially as I’m coming back from injury.”

Spain’s 17-time Grand Slam champion started his clay season this week after missing a month with another knee problem and has title-holder points to defend here plus Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros.

The king of clay is bidding for a 12th trophy in the principality. His record at the event is a staggering 70-4.

Nadal spent almost an hour in securing the first set but picked up the pace in the second as he ran out the winner.

He next faces Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

World No. 1 Djokovic will be playing his ninth quarterfinal here from 13 appearances at his home event.

Djokovic turned in a steady performance with a dozen winners and unforced errors, while his opponent committed nearly 30 unforced errors in 68 minutes.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 as Daniil Medvedev continued his run of form.

The Russian will next line up against Djokovic after losing to him in January in the Australian Open fourth round.

Tsitsipas was caught on the back foot facing three match points as he trailed 0-40 on his serve late in the second set. After saving the first two, the Greek botched the third to seal his exit after an hour and three-quarters.

Medvedev increased his leading total of ATP season match wins to 20 as a result after he beat Tsitsipas for the fourth time in as many attempts.

“This was a great achievement for me,” Medvedev said. “Everything was perfect today.

“Some wind came up in the second set and I could not get used to it. But in the third, I just worked to put every ball in the court.

“I was pleased to fight back after going a break down in the third set.”

The player who stands a career-high 14th credits his rising form to a renewed dedication to the sport.

“I’ve been working hard for the past 18 months —  since before the start of 2018. I’ve dedicated my life to tennis, which I did not do before,” Medvedev said.

“I had my best season last year — hopefully this year will be better.”

The Russian reached his first quarterfinal at the Masters 1000 level after winning his second match against a Top 10 opponent.

Tsitsipas, runner-up last season to Nadal in Toronto, suffered his eighth defeat of the season against 18 wins and will try and lift his game next week on the clay of Barcelona. 

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-2, 7-5.