Novak Djokovic finds form on return in Monte Carlo

Updated 16 April 2018

Novak Djokovic finds form on return in Monte Carlo

  • Serb returns to courts after early exits at both Indian Wells and Miami
  • Former world No.1 has slipped to No. 13 in the world rankings

Former world No.1 Novak Djokovic showed signs of rediscovering his form with a dominant 6-0 6-1 victory over Dusan Lajovic in the opening round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.
Djokovic’s start of the season was disrupted by an elbow surgery, and has since suffered defeats in consecutive opening matches at Indian Wells and Miami.
But there were no signs of his recent struggles as he kickstarted his claycourt campaign in style to record a victory over fellow Serb Lajovic in just 57 minutes.
Djokovic, a two-time winner at Monte Carlo, dropped just eight points as he wrapped up the first set with his opponent well off the pace.
Lajovic, ranked 93 in the world, offered resistance in the second set to level at 1-1 but failed to capitalize on a break point as the 12-time grand slam winner roared back to book a second round meeting with Borna Coric of Croatia.
Earlier in the day, Japan’s Kei Nishikori came back from a set down to see off Czech 12th seed Tomas Berdych 4-6 6-2 6-1 and reach the second round.
Nishikori, who missed a large part of last season with a wrist injury, started the season in the Challenger Tour events before reaching the second round at Miami.
He was playing close to his best tennis despite calling for a medical timeout for his troublesome wrist.
“It’s not great but first match on clay, you know, I’m expecting little soreness,” Nishikori said.
“Hopefully I have a day off tomorrow. If I have to play tomorrow, I got to be ready tonight.”
The 28-year-old, who is making his first Monte Carlo appearance since 2012, will face Russian Daniil Medvedev in the next round.
World No. 51 Jared Donaldson confronted an umpire after disagreeing with a call made in his first-round defeat by last-year’s finalist Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
While 6-3, 3-2 down, the 21-year-old American became outraged when a serve by the Spaniard was called in by Arnaud Gabas when he believed it was out.
Donaldson eventually lost 6-3 6-3 and apologized to Ramos-Vinolas but refused to shake Gabas’ hand.


Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

Updated 19 February 2020

Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

  • Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands

ALULA: More than 260 athletes from around the world took part in the recent EcoTrail AlUla, a multi-track running race through the dramatic landscapes of AlUla in Saudi Arabia’s northwest.
Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands. The race was staged as part of the second season of the Winter at Tantora festival, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla to promote the historic site as an exceptional tourist destination for heritage, arts, culture and sports.

Events took place on three different courses — an 83 km track, followed by a 45 km and a 10 km track — with international athletes taking part in each of the races.

In the 10 km course, 139 contestants took part in the competition, with 125 managing to complete the run. Saudi runner Mohammed Madkhali won first place, while Yemeni runner Fares Aman Aldin came in second and another Saudi runner, Meshari Almuhanna, finished third.

In the women’s category, US runner Meredith Byrne won first place, Saudi runner Sarah Abdullatif came in second, and British runner Maureen McConnell finished third.

Ninety athletes took part in the 45 km race, with 85 finishing. Saudi runner Abdulaziz Al-Ghamdi came in first, with Australian Matthew Sudich second and French runner Nicholas Mordelet in third.

In the women’s category, Dutch runner Floortje Rawee came in first, followed by Italian Alessandra Grassi in second and American Natasha Turak third.

The 83 km race featured 37 athletes with only 17 finishing. In the men’s category, US runner Michael Wardian finished first, followed by Pierre Breuer from Belgium in second and Malaysia’s Soonseng Ong third.

In the women’s category, Amy Sproston from the US ranked first, with Ruth Theresia from Indonesia second and American Rachel Bessette third.

EcoTrail AlUla attracted athletes from around the world, most notably the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, Jordan, Oman, Peru, Poland and Indonesia.

The one-day trail gave visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with AlUla and its distinctive natural, cultural, architectural and historical monuments. The trail is an eye-catching destination for running enthusiasts and jogging clubs, and will encourage people to visit AlUla and Saudi Arabia to take part in a global sporting event that promotes environmentally friendly principles and initiatives.

The race contained several medical care stops and catering stations, and each participant received a number in addition to a welcome gift and a shirt. An inaugural dinner was held to welcome contestants on the night before the race.

EcoTrail AlUla is the first race to occur in the Middle East and one of the most notable sports events of this year’s Winter at Tantora festival. The race was sponsored by STC, Almarai Company, Sabeeka Energy Bar, Whites, and Hussak Adventures. The festival’s latest season also provides a wide range of diverse experiences that meet the needs of all visitors and entertain all tastes, for individuals, groups or families from all walks of life.

The festival began on Dec. 19 and will run until March 7, 2020. Guests of the second season of this year will be able to visit the astonishing historical and heritage sites exclusively, and attend the international musical and artistic performances.