Petra Kvitova rolls back the years as Rafael Nadal makes statement of intent

1 / 4
Both Kvitova and Nadal are looking in great form in Melbourne. (AFP)
2 / 4
3 / 4
4 / 4
Updated 22 January 2019

Petra Kvitova rolls back the years as Rafael Nadal makes statement of intent

  • Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova looking back to her best.
  • Rafa yet to drop a set at year's first Grand Slam.

LONDON: We are now at the business end of the year’s first Grand Slam. Here is how the draw is shaping up in Melbourne.

PETRA KVITOVA

It has understandably been an emotional couple of weeks for the two-time Wimbledon champion as, thanks to a 6-1, 6-4 win over Ashleigh Barty, she made her way to a first Grand Slam semifinal since being victim of a knife attack.
She beat home hope Barty in an impressive display indicating the Czech was close to being back to her best.
The sixth seed suffered a serious hand injury when attacked in her home in December 2016, and said: “It wasn’t easy to see myself in a semifinal after everything.
“I’m calling it my second career. So it’s the first semifinal of the second career.”
Kvitova overpowered the smaller Barty in a 27-minute first set.
The 22-year-old Aussie provided resistance in the second, Kvitova saving two break points before taking the last three games.
She will play unseeded Danielle Collins in the last four tomorrow after the American beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 to reach her first major semifinal.

RAFAEL NADAL

The Spaniard continued his relentless march to what he hopes is an 18th Grand Slam title with another impressive, dominating performance in Melbourne.
The Spaniard defeated unseeded American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in another ruthless display from a man who has not dropped a set so far.
Tiafoe had announced himself by beating fifth seed Kevin Anderson, but was no match for a player at the peak of his powers as he attempts to become only the third man to win all four Slams twice and the first to do so in the Open era.
“I had some trouble at this event all my career, so I’m very happy with the way I played tonight,” said the Spaniard, who faces another young gun Tsitsipas in the semifinals.
“I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am,” Nadal admitted.


STEFANOS TSITSIPAS

The conqueror of Roger Federer proved that shock was no flash in the pan as the Greek star became the youngest man to reach the last-four in Melbourne since Andy Roddick in 2003.
The 20-year-old also became the first player from Greece — man or woman — to get so far at Grand Slam having beaten Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.
“I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for,” said the 14th seed, who lives in Cyprus but trains at the academy of Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou in France.
“I feel a bit emotional but not too much — I know I really worked hard to get here, playing in semis of a Grand Slam.”
Do not be surprised if he pulls another shock and sends Nadal the way of Federer.

 


Almulla and Salhab give thumbs-up for inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship

Saudi Arabia will hold its first-ever women’s professional golf tournament in March when the Saudi Ladies Championship tees off at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. (Supplied)
Updated 8 min 57 sec ago

Almulla and Salhab give thumbs-up for inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship

  • Record prize money of $19.87 million for the LET 2020 season offered

JEDDAH: Saudi golfers Othman Almulla and Faisal Salhab have said they cannot wait for the Saudi Ladies Championship to happen in the Kingdom, after a UK newspaper confirmed the tournament was one of three new events added to the Ladies European Tour (LET) schedule.

The Daily Telegraph said the Ladies European Tour would offer record prize money of £15.2 million ($19.87 million) for the 2020 season, an increase of almost £4 million on last year. The cash injection comes in part due to having three new events, all offering prize money of at least $1 million, including the inaugural Saudi Ladies Championship to be held in March.
The exclusive report said there would be 24 events on the LET this year, an increase of four from last year. In addition to the Saudi tournament and the Scandinavian Mixed event, the third event to have a prize pot of over $1 million will be a new event to be held in the UK in August, ahead of the Ladies Scottish Open and the Women’s Open.
Almulla and Faisal will both tee off alongside the biggest names in golf in the Saudi International, which starts next Thursday at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club at the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
Almulla, who turned professional during the inaugural staging of the Saudi International last year, is playing on a pro invite while the 23-year-old Riyadh-based Faisal qualified following his victory in the 5th Saudi Open at the Riyadh Golf Course in November last year.  
Saud Alsharif, from the Eastern Province like Almulla, completes the Saudi trio in action in the Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 European Tour event. Alsharif earned his second straight stint in the tournament by virtue of his top ranking.
Almulla, a decorated amateur golfer and the youngest to qualify for the Dubai Desert Classic before another Saudi, Khaled Attieh, broke his record, told Arab News: “I think it’s a wonderful time for the sport of golf in Saudi Arabia, with the big developments the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi have put in place.”
“We already see the rewards of their ambitious plans with the first-ever female participation in an international event at the Pan Arab and GCC Championships in Egypt and Oman this year.
“And now with the first-ever ladies professional golf championship happening in Saudi Arabia, this will further motivate and inspire the next generation of golfers to continue improving,” Almulla added.
Salhab, who just ended a training camp with Alsharif and coach Jamie McConnell, director of instruction at the Claude Harmon Golf Academy in Dubai, said: “It’s great to have a Ladies European Tour event in Saudi Arabia. It emphasizes how the game is growing.
“It’s unreal to have such big events for men and women hosted in the Kingdom and hopefully inspire the next generation of golfers to pick up the sport.
“By having an event like this one take place in our backyard will hopefully expose many women to learn about the beautiful game,” Salhab added.
The Saudi Ladies Championship, professional golf’s newest high-profile tournament being hosted by the country, will take place March 19 to 22 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club under the aegis of the LET and the Saudi Golf Federation.
Golf Saudi announced last month that it was working with several LET stars to promote golf to local audiences, and to enhance the visibility of its Saudi golf development program and the country’s golf tourism. The UK’s Carly Booth, Amy Boulden and Rachel Drummond, and Swedish pair Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert, will each wear the Golf Saudi logo as ambassadors of the program.