Nadal, Djokovic have it easy at Roland Garros

1 / 3
Spain's Rafael Nadal serves against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Monday, May 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
2 / 3
Spain's Rafael Nadal in action during his first round match against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann at the French Open in Paris. (REUTERS/Vincent Kessler)
3 / 3
Germany's Yannick Hanfmann plays a forehand return Spain's Rafael Nadal during their men's singles first round match on day two of The Roland Garros 2019 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 27, 2019. (AFP / Thomas Samson)
Updated 28 May 2019

Nadal, Djokovic have it easy at Roland Garros

  • Serbian world No. 1 lays down an early marker in his bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously

PARIS: Defending champion Rafael Nadal got his bid for a record-extending 12th French Open title off to the perfect start by brushing aside German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann, while world No. 1 Novak Djokovic was also a comfortable victor in the first round at Roland Garros on Monday.
Nadal, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, cruised to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 victory on the rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a clash with another German qualifier — world No. 114 Yannick Maden — in round two.
Nadal had suffered three consecutive semifinal defeats earlier in the clay-court season, but appeared to find his best in an Italian Open title success sealed with victory over old rival Djokovic, while his French Open win-loss record now reads 87-2.
“It’s always amazing to play here, the new Chatrier is very nice,” the second seed said. “It’s been an important place in my career.
“I played a good tournament in Rome which was very important for my confidence. Now we’ll see.”
The 32-year-old Nadal raced into a 3-0 lead in the opening set before a second break of serve in the eighth game sealed it after just 40 minutes.
The second set was over in a flash as Nadal crushed nine winners past his beleaguered opponent.
The winning line honed into view when Nadal broke after a lengthy game to take a 2-1 advantage in the third, and the Spaniard completed the job on his first match point as world No. 184 Hanfmann blasted long.
Djokovic laid down an early marker in his bid to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time, powering past Polish youngster Hubert Hurkacz.
The 15-time major champion impressed in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 triumph and will face Swiss lucky loser Henri Laaksonen in round two.
“I was very solid. I’m happy with my game today,” said the top seed. “It’s a long tournament... But I just want to concentrate on my next match.”
Twelve months ago, Djokovic dropped out of the world’s top 20 after a shock quarterfinal loss to Marco Cecchinato and even pondered skipping Wimbledon, but he has instead reclaimed his place at the top of the game.
The 22-year-old Hurkacz, who has claimed three wins over top-10 players this season, had no answer to the 2016 French Open winner, as Djokovic sealed a second-round spot without breaking sweat, hitting 27 winners.
Earlier on Monday, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki collapsed to a 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to Russian world number 68 Veronika Kudermetova in the first round.
The Danish 13th seed had retired injured from her two previous matches in the lead-up to Roland Garros, and fell away badly after a strong first set.
“I think she got very lucky at the start of the second set and took advantage of the opportunities she got,” said Wozniacki.
Sixth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was forced to pull out before her scheduled opener against Sorana Cirstea with a left arm injury, but said she should be fit for Wimbledon, which starts on July 1.
“(I’ll be out for) two to three weeks, so I’ll do some fitness and everything that I can do to prepare my body for the tennis on the grass,” said the Czech.
Dutch fourth seed Kiki Bertens looked in fine fettle, though, beating home player Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-4.
Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty saw off American Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-3.
In the men’s event, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka progressed with a 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-3 win over Slovakian Jozef Kovalik.
Australian Alex De Minaur, seeded 21st, beat the United States’ Bradley Klahn 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, although Georgian 15th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and Russian 12th seed Daniil Medvedev both exited the tournament.


Southgate to bring Sterling back from England exile

Updated 17 November 2019

Southgate to bring Sterling back from England exile

  • World Cup semifinalists ‘still have room for improvement as they chase first major title since 1966’

PRISTINA:  Gareth Southgate is set to bring Raheem Sterling back from his brief England exile in Sunday’s qualifier against Kosovo as he seeks to end the controversy over the Manchester City star’s row with Joe Gomez.

Sterling was dropped for Thursday’s 7-0 rout of Montenegro after clashing with England team-mate Gomez in the Three Lions’ training base canteen.

It is believed Sterling was unhappy with Gomez following an altercation with the Liverpool defender during City’s Premier League defeat at Anfield last weekend.

Although Sterling was left out of the Montenegro game as punishment for his attack on Gomez, Southgate has confirmed the winger will return for England’s final Group A fixture.

Sterling and Gomez, left with a scratch under his eye after the incident, are said to have patched up their relationship, but the center-back was jeered by England fans at Wembley when he came on as a substitute against Montenegro.

Both Southgate and Sterling expressed their support for Gomez and criticized the booing supporters, with the England manager reportedly comforting the shocked 22-year-old and his family after the match.

Now Southgate could include Gomez against Kosovo in a show of support for the Liverpool player.

With England already guaranteed to qualify for Euro 2020 in first place in their group, Southgate already planned to make changes, although he is keen to ensure England finish with a win as they eye a top-six seeding in next year’s tournament.

“We will make some changes, for sure, but the seeding in the group could be critical and we know it’s a big night for the Kosovans,” Southgate said.

“It’s a shame for them that they’re now out of this part of the qualification, although they’ve still got the playoffs in which I think they’ll be a huge threat in that format. “So, it will be a good test for us because it will still be a lively environment.

“The enthusiasm for the game is high and we want to finish the group with as many points as we can.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could return following a one-match ban, while Southgate has to decide whether to keep faith with Ben Chilwell ahead of Danny Rose at left-back.

Harry Kane may have scored a hat-trick against Montenegro but it was Leicester’s Chilwell who was named England’s man of the match following a fine display in which he provided three assists in the opening 24 minutes.

“Ben, I liked the hunger in his game, the enthusiasm to get forward,” Southgate said.

“The whole team pressed well but he also pressed well from that full-back position, got into overlaps, his quality of delivery was excellent.”

Although England have cruised through their qualifying group, Southgate believes the 2018 World Cup semifinalists still have room for improvement as they chase a first major title since 1966.

“There were a couple of chances we conceded that just shouldn’t happen, so that’s still part of our game that we’ve got to improve upon,” he said.

“If we are to be a team that are going to challenge seriously, although we’re young, we’ve got to manage games well.

“We’ve got to make sure that, although we’re such a fantastic attacking threat, the rest of the team is right as well. There are things we’ve got to be better at.”