Radwanska gets past Ivanovic to enter quarters

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Updated 14 February 2013
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Radwanska gets past Ivanovic to enter quarters

DOHA: Agnieszka Radwanska beat an error-prone Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 7-6 (6) to reach the Qatar Open quarterfinals, where she was joined by another former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki yesterday.
The fourth-ranked Radwanska made quick work of the former No. 1 from Serbia in the first set, breaking her four times amid windy conditions. Ivanovic didn’t help her own cause, committing 21 unforced errors and only getting 63 percent of her first serves in.
The second set was much closer, with both players holding serve until Ivanovic broke with a forehand winner to go up 6-5 only to see the Pole break back to force the tiebreak.
Ivanovic was 2-0 in the tiebreak but couldn’t hold her momentum. Radwanska put it away with a lob that Ivanovic hit weakly into the net.
Wind also played havoc in Wozniacki’s 7-6 (6), 6-3 win over Mona Barthel of Germany as they struggled to hold serve.
Wozniacki broke Barthel a second time and was up 5-3 before the German ran off three games to put her on the verge of winning the first set. But the Dane forced the tiebreaker and won it.
Wozniacki settled down in the second set, breaking Barthel twice to go up 5-1. Barthel won the next two games but Wozniacki served out the match.
Federer cruises
In Rotterdam, Netherlands, defending champion Roger Federer cruised into the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Wednesday by beating Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-1.
Federer, a two-time winner at the indoor hard court tournament, had taken a two-week break after losing a grueling five-set semifinal to Andy Murray at the Australian Open and he showed signs of rustiness early against Zemlja.
The Slovenian dropped only one point on his first two service games and then forced two break points on Federer’s serve in the fourth game.
But that was as good as it got for the No. 64-ranked Zemlja. Federer switched up a gear, saved both break points and broke in the next game and again in the ninth game to take the opening set.
The second set was over even quicker, with Federer closing out the match in 58 minutes.


Federer conceded he took a while to get into his stride after his break and get used to the conditions at Ahoy arena.
“Hall play is different. It’s warmer, so the ball flies more and it takes a bit of getting used to,” he said. “The first ones are never easy. But I’m happy to be back and playing well.” Earlier Wednesday, Gilles Simon beat Italian qualifier Matteo Viola 6-3, 6-1 to secure a place in the quarterfinals, and fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau joined him after a 6-1, 6-3 win over Victor Hanescu.
Marcos Baghdatis reached the second round when Benoit Paire of France retired while trailing 6-0, 6-7 (3), 4-0.
Another French player, fourth-seeded Richard Gasquet beat Viktor Troicki of Serbia 7-6 (3), 6-1 to reach the second round.

Nadal withdraws from doubles
In Sao Paulo, Rafael Nadal withdrew from doubles at the Brazil Open on Wednesday to rest his sore left knee ahead of his opening singles.
Nadal and David Nalbandian of Argentina were to play the final match of the day on center court, but tournament organizers said the duo withdrew because the 11-time Grand Slam winner was concerned about putting too much stress on his knee.
The quarterfinal would have started past 11 p.m. local time and Nadal was scheduled to play his first singles match on Thursday at the Ibirapuera indoor arena in South America’s biggest city.
Organizers said the decision was made after Nadal met with tournament doctors not long before he was to go on court.
Earlier, Nalbandian beat Chilean qualifier Jorge Aguilar 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in a difficult first-round match. He served 11 aces and broke serve four times to defeat Aguilar in 2 hours, 12 minutes at the clay-court tournament.
Spaniard Albert Montanes got past Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-4, 6-4 and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina, who won his first ATP title by beating Nadal last week in Chile, retired because of nausea and fatigue while trailing Paul Capdeville of Chile 6-7 (5), 6-0, 3-0.
Capdeville will play defending champion and second-seeded Nicolas Almagro in the second round on Thursday. Third-seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina will face Italian Simone Bolelli.
Fourth-seeded Jeremy Chardy of France lost 4-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5) to Martin Alund of Argentina in a match that lasted nearly two and a half hours before Nadal was to play.
Nadal, who has a bye in the first round but opened the doubles with a victory on Tuesday, will play Brazilian Joao Souza, who was leading Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 7-6 (6) when the Spaniard retired because of a right ankle injury.
Nadal reached the singles and doubles finals last week in Chile, his first tournament after more than seven months out to treat his left knee. He lost both finals. Nadal has been saying his knee is improving considerably but admits there are days in which it still hurts and bothers him.


What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

Updated 19 April 2018
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What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

  • Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
  • Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.

Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.

 



AL-HILAL

Finished: Champions

Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.

Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.

Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League

 



AL-AHLI

Finished: Second

Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.

Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.

Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.


 
AL-NASSR

Finished: Third

Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.

Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.

Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into  the 2019 AFC Champions League.

 


AL-ITTIHAD

Finished: Ninth

Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.

Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.

Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.