Nadal, Medvedev advance to Rogers Cup final

Daniil Medvedev of Russia serves against compatriot Karen Khachanov. (AFP)
Updated 12 August 2019

Nadal, Medvedev advance to Rogers Cup final

  • Nadal will face eighth-seeded Daniil Medvedev

MONTREAL: Top-seeded defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain advanced to the Rogers Cup final Saturday night when Gael Monfils of France withdrew before their semifinal.

Nadal will face eighth-seeded Daniil Medvedev, a 6-1, 7-6 (6) winner over sixth-seeded Karen Khachanov in the all-Russian first semifinal.

“It’s extra special,” Medvedev said about facing Nadal for the first time. “I played Novak (Djokovic) and Roger (Federer) a few times. It’s different ... there is some extra pressure.”

Nadal won last year in Toronto for his fourth title in the event. He has 82 singles victories, winning the French Open in June for his second title of the year.

Monfils, seeded 16th, outlasted 10th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2) in a match suspended Friday night because of lightning. Monfils finally finished off Agut after a rain delay Saturday, but battled a sore left ankle that forced him to pull out of the semifinal.

“I love these matches, night session, Rafa,” Monfils said. “I play tennis for that — for the big moments, big shows. It was safest decision not to play.”

Monfils consulted with his coach about the decision to withdraw.

“He said, ‘You can’t take the risk,’” Monfil said. “I had retired in Wimbledon. I came back. I played this week. I had played a huge match. It was risky to play another match because I could risk hurting myself for real.”

In Toronto, teenager Bianca Andreescu advanced to the Rogers Cup title match with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Sofia Kenin on Saturday, becoming the first Canadian in 50 years to make the women’s final.

The 19-year-old Andreescu, from nearby Mississauga, will face Serena Williams on Sunday.

“The crowd will obviously be for her, but it’s really not about that,” Williams said. “It’s just about going out there and playing your great tennis. Luckily, I’ve had some tough crowds in my career, so hopefully I will be used to it.”

Canadians Faye Urban and Vicki Berner played in the 1969 final, with Urban winning the tournament that was played on clay and called the Canadian Open.

“For sure there’s some pressure, but I have nothing to lose, really,” Andreescu said. “We’ll see how it goes. I’m just going to try and stay in the present moment.”

Williams beat Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the second semifinal.

The 37-year-old Williams is ranked 10th and seeded eighth in her first event since losing the Wimbledon final. She won in 2001, 2011 and 2013 — all in Toronto — and has a tournament-record 34 victories in 38 matches. The American won the last of her 72 singles titles in the 2017 Australian Open.

Andreescu is returning from a right shoulder injury that sidelined her since the French Open in May. She won in Indian Wells in March for her first WTA Tour title.


Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star eyes path to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Updated 57 min 39 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star eyes path to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

  • Dalma Malhas ‘honored’ to be part of national team
  • Equestrian star began riding aged four

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star Dalma Malhas is counting down to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by competing in a series of crucial qualifying events.

Malhas, who has been riding since the age of four, told Arab News that she was honored to be part of the Saudi national team after “years of work and dedication.”

Next month she and her fellow showjumpers head to Morocco to take part in a series of qualifying events.

The 10th edition of the Morocco Royal Tour takes place in three cities — Tetouan, Rabat, and Eljadida —  on three consecutive weekends. The top two teams, based on their results, will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Malhas wants to be at the prestigious sporting event in Japan. 

“The work that has been done in the past few years will manifest itself now and I’m enjoying what I’ve been working on ... I believe in destiny and hard work,” she told Arab News. “Anything could happen, but I’m hopeful and trying to focus on peak performance because it is important that, when it comes to the horse and myself, we want to be there, energetic and motivated.”

She was the first female athlete from the Kingdom to compete at an Olympic-level event, riding at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 in Singapore and winning a bronze medal. She participated in the 14-18 age group, becoming only the third Saudi athlete to snag an Olympic medal.

She said it was easy to buy a horse that was already trained and compete with it. But the challenge for her was to get an inexperienced horse and train him from scratch.

“I dedicated time, effort and energy. I had a vision of how he could be and transformed him into a skilled and talented horse, and step-by-step I followed that. You build a strong partnership when you go through that process. It’s an affinity you can’t really buy. This is a very big part of horsemanship and one of my biggest achievements since the Youth Olympic Games. It’s priceless, having a combination and partnership like this.”

Malhas was born in 1992 in the US. Her mother, Arwa Mutabagani, is a prominent equestrian and has been a board member at the Saudi Equestrian Federation since 2008. She was also the first woman to be appointed to the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

Malhas has had a thoroughly international upbringing. At 12 she moved with her mother from Saudi Arabia to Rome to train with her under Italy’s former showjumping national coach, Duccio Bartalucci, spending a decade under his tutelage.

After studying and training in Italy she joined a two-year professional program at the Forsan Equestrian Center in Chantilly, France. She has been training with Olympic champion Roger Yves Bost since 2016. 

She started 2019 by participating in several tournaments, crisscrossing Europe and gradually moving up the leaderboard. 

She has won several awards to date, including Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, and can be regarded as a pioneer and role model.

Malhas said there were great opportunities for Saudi women in the fields of sports and equestrianism. She talked about the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan and how it empowered women. She also saw an opportunity to become more involved. 

“I want to give back too. I’ve been mostly focused on showjumping and training, so hopefully I’ll start giving back and contribute to society and motivate my peers in the country. I don’t mind though I’ve been enjoying the ride and after years of work I’m finally being rewarded in the best way possible.”