Alexis Sanchez out to prove he can still cut it at the top

Sanchez has been a huge flop since moving from Arsenal to Manchester United. (AFP)
Updated 17 February 2019
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Alexis Sanchez out to prove he can still cut it at the top

MANCHESTER: Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez is concerned people may not have seen his best at Old Trafford as he continues to fight for an extended run of playing time this season.
The Chile international is a shadow of the player he was at Arsenal, having scored just five goals in 37 appearances since moving to United in January 2018.
“I would like to have brought more joy to the club,” Sanchez said. “Yes, it worries me because I believe in my abilities as a player, I want to show it.”
After struggling for form and fitness under former manager Jose Mourinho, Sanchez has fallen further down the pecking order under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“He (Solskjaer) hasn’t spoken to me a great deal about what I have to do on the pitch, but I think I’m an experienced player, and I think I know what I need to do and what I shouldn’t do,” Sanchez said.
The 30-year-old is behind Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial in contention for first-team spots and did his chances no good with an underwhelming display as a substitute in Tuesday’s Champions League defeat by Paris Saint-Germain.
Sanchez, however, confirmed he was injured after an assistant referee ran into him as he warmed up on the sidelines.
“I’ve got bruising, but that’s not an excuse for not being on my game in the way that I normally am,” he said.
“I’m a player that, if I’m not in contact with the ball, I lose that spark, and sometimes I want to play in every game. You’re in, you’re out, and I’m used to playing.
“It’s not an excuse because if I go on for 10, 20 minutes, I have to perform because that’s what I’m here for, to make a difference.”


‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

Updated 3 sec ago
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‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

  • The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments
  • Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months

STUTTGART, Germany: World number one Naomi Osaka defeated Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 6-3 in Stuttgart on Thursday to reach her first career clay court quarter-final and admitted she had been left “depressed” after a “rough few months.”
US and Australian Open champion Osaka, who lost to Taiwanese veteran Hsieh in Miami last month, secured a place in the quarter-finals against Croatia’s Donna Vekic as she launched her preparations for Roland Garros.
The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments.
Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months, a period which saw her split with coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open.
“I am really grateful for everyone that has been really positive toward me. It was really rough the last couple of months. The kid was depressed out there.”
“If there is one positive thing that I can say about myself, it is that I learn quickly,” said Osaka, who reached the last eight of a tournament for the first time since her coaching split.
“Definitely I’ve put a lot on pressure on myself and found it hard to deal with in the first few tournaments.
“Now I start trying to have fun out there, which is what I did before I was number one.”
Osaka, 21, broke Hsieh three times in total to beat Hsieh for the second time in three attempts this year, having also defeated her on the way to lifting the title in Melbourne.
“I did feel like I am in control, but I also felt she is taking more risks than me,” said Osaka.
“She’s a really tricky opponent. You never really know what she’s going to do.”
Osaka needed 84 minutes to dispatch the unconventional Hsieh, ensuring she will hold on to top spot in the rankings for at least another week.
She is less than 200 points ahead of Simona Halep in the WTA rankings, although the Romanian pulled out of this week’s tournament with a hip injury.
Top seed Osaka fought off the only two break points she faced, in a lengthy service hold for 2-all in the opening set, before breaking Hsieh in the following game.
That was sufficient to wrap up the first set, and a Hsieh double-fault handed Osaka a break to start the second before she closed out victory with another service break in a performance that featured 22 winners and just 16 unforced errors.
Osaka will meet Vekic, a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Daria Kasatkina, for a spot in the last four, while Latvian seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated 2017 champion Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-3.
Sevastova will meet third-ranked Petra Kvitova next.
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-2, while Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens took down Belinda Bencic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
German number one Angelique Kerber, who won here in 2015 and 2016, takes on compatriot Andrea Petkovic later.