Novak Djokovic routs Rafael Nadal to win seventh Australian Open title

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the Australian Open title against Spain’s Rafael Nadal on Sunday, January 27. (Reuters)
Updated 27 January 2019

Novak Djokovic routs Rafael Nadal to win seventh Australian Open title

  • The Serbian world number one dominated the Spanish second seed to win his 15th Grand Slam title
  • Victory extended Djokovic’s win-loss record against Nadal to 28-25

MELBOURNE: An imperious Novak Djokovic won a record magnificent seventh Australian Open title by routing Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 Sunday with a display of flawless tennis.
The Serbian world number one dominated the Spanish second seed to win his 15th Grand Slam title in just 2hr 4min on Rod Laver Arena.
It put Djokovic, 31, out on his own ahead of Roger Federer and Roy Emerson, who both won six Australian Open men’s singles titles.
Djokovic dropped to the court and kissed the ground after vanquishing his greatest rival.
No two men have met more often in the Open Era, this was their 53rd meeting, and no pair have pushed one another harder or further.
Their only previous final in Australia, in 2012, developed into a record-breaking 5hr 53min slugfest — the longest in Grand Slam history.
A repeat of that epic never materialized with Nadal uncharacteristically nervous at the start and Djokovic taking immediate advantage.
The Spaniard had not had his service broken since the third set of his first round match but that streak ended in a flash as the Serb came sprinting out of the blocks.
Djokovic was in imperious control on his own delivery and won his first four service games without conceding a single point, even inducing Nadal to miss a forehand completely on the way to grabbing the set in 36 minutes.
The second set followed a similar pattern, with Djokovic racing through games on his own serve, while Nadal struggled to hold.
The pressure told in the fifth game and Djokovic broke again when Nadal hit a lob volley long after an exchange at the net.
Djokovic had only conceded two points on serve in the entire match to this point but Nadal had his first sniff at breaking when he got to 30-15 ahead and deuce, twice.
Djokovic had to withstand pressure for the first time in the match, overcoming the threat with a roar and a fist pump to go 4-2 ahead.
The on-song Serb was so fired up he came straight out and broke Nadal again to go to 5-2 before serving out for a two-set lead with three aces in a row with just 1hr 16min on the clock.
The statistics were as telling as the scoreline: Djokovic had served eight aces to Nadal’s one and made just four unforced errors while the Spaniard had coughed up 20.
When Djokovic broke again in the third game of the third set it was just a matter of how quickly he would finish off Nadal.
The end was swift, as Djokovic withstood one break point at 3-2 before administering the last rites in a flurry of winners off both wings.
Victory extended his win-loss record against Nadal to 28-25 and squared the Grand Slam final count between the pair at 4-4.
Djokovic has now completed a hat-trick of Slams following his wins at Wimbledon and the US Open.
He will go to Paris in May for the French Open seeking to become the only man in the Open Era to win all four majors twice.


Saudi Women’s Football League launched

Updated 24 February 2020

Saudi Women’s Football League launched

  • The first season of the WFL, a nationwide initiative, will be held in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam
  • League inaugurated by president of Saudi Sports for All Federation

RIYADH/DUBAI: Community sports for female athletes in the Kingdom took another giant step forward after the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) inaugurated on Monday the Women’s Football League (WFL) at a launch event in Riyadh. 

It is the latest initiative led by SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal to promote grassroots sports activities for budding female and male athletes across Saudi Arabia.

SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal (L) (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

“The development of the WFL came about because we understood there was a need for community-level football for women,” Prince Khaled told Arab News.

“This community league is the first activation of many different community-level sports for women, and it will serve as a great model in terms of league infrastructure and inclusion metrics, contributing to Saudi Vision 2030 and the Quality of Life program.”

Fully funded by the SFA, the WFL is a nationwide community-level league for women aged 17 and above.

In its first season, it will take place in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, with more cities potentially joining in due course. 

With a prize of SR500,000 ($133,285) at stake, the WFL will consist of preliminary rounds taking place across the three cities to establish regional champions.

The winners progress to a knockout competition, the WFL Champions Cup, to determine the national champion, with the date of the final to be announced later in the season. 

Prince Khaled thanked King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, for their “boundless support.”

 

 

The WFL “is one more major leap forward for the future of our country, our health, our youth, and our ambitions to see every athlete be recognized and nurtured to their fullest capability,” said Prince Khaled. 

Women’s football is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup raised its profile to unprecedented levels, inspiring greater participation across the globe.

Inspiration for female footballers at the grassroots level has come from closer to home, Prince Khaled said.

“I think a big inspiration for young Saudi women to get involved in community-level football is the Saudi Greens Team,” he said, referring to the all-female team established by the SFA.

“The Saudi Greens placed second in the Global Goals World Cup last year, and this was a huge moment for young female athletes in the Kingdom.”

Prince Khaled sees the WFL as a pivotal initiative of the SFA and a major driver behind the realization of the Vision 2030 reform plan, which strives for a healthier and more active society.

SFA Managing Director Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini believes that the WFL will significantly improve the visibility of women in sports and prioritize their fitness, health and wellness.

Some of the women at the launch event. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

“Empowering women comes through positive and proactive programs like the WFL that have been conceptualized to continue to have a lasting impact on health, fitness and wellbeing,” she said.

“The SFA, committed to putting women at the forefront of our mission to grow Saudi Arabia’s healthy and active community, continues to engage public and private sector stakeholders to realize this aim together.”

She said this is a qualitative shift in women’s sports in the Kingdom. Spearheaded by Sara Al-Jawini, the SFA’s director of sports development, the federation “studied all aspects of the new league, conducting continuous workshops to ensure the wider WFL infrastructure and lasting impact metrics,” Al-Husseini added. 

Some of the women at the launch event. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

The SFA has ensured that the football pitches are ready for the start of the WFL in March, with all-female organizational and technical teams in place to manage the various committees working toward delivering the league.

The WFL infrastructure teams will address and complete administrative requirements, refereeing, and technical and medical issues. 

Coaching and refereeing courses are planned to further develop the country’s infrastructure for women in sports.

The SFA’s investment in the WFL includes both women’s coaching and women’s refereeing training to fully flesh out the program’s potential and maintenance. 

At a later stage, the SFA and WFL will be communicating details on additional leagues and football events, as well as festivals targeting girls aged 16 and below.

These competitions, under the banner “Beyond Football,” will focus on building a strong base for future participation at the community level, beginning with girls aged 5.