Venus Williams crashes out of Wuhan Open

Former top tennis player Venus Williams was a 2015 Wuhan champion and now 59th in the world rankings. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2019

Venus Williams crashes out of Wuhan Open

  • Former top tennis player Venus Williams is a 2015 Wuhan champion and now 59th in the world rankings

WUHAN, China: Venus Williams’ first visit to Asia since 2017 was cut short as she crashed out of the Wuhan Open first round on Sunday 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) to fellow American Danielle Collins.
The 39-year-old Williams, a 2015 Wuhan champion now 59th in the world rankings, squandered a lead in the first set before eventually losing to Collins, who recorded just the second match win of her career on Chinese soil.
The 35th-ranked Collins rallied back from 3-5 down in the opening set, winning a whopping nine games in a row to go up 7-5, 5-0.
Williams, a wildcard at Wuhan this year, finally stopped the bleeding, holding the serve to interrupt her opponent’s momentum.
It was the start of a surprising five-game run from Williams, who saved two match points along the way as she drew level at 5-5.
In the decider, Williams got the first mini-break but it was Collins who eventually created a 6-4 gap, converting with an ace on her fourth match point to move into the second round.
It was Collins’ second triumph over Williams, who had also stumbled against the 25-year-old during the Miami Open last year.
“This is my first tournament here in Asia, I was just happy to come out with a win, said Collins, who next takes on defending champion and ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Meanwhile, 2017 Wuhan runner-up Ashleigh Barty is making sure she has enough left in the tank for a busy closing stretch of the season, including her singles debut at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen and a highly-anticipated Fed Cup final between Australia and France in Perth.
Barty is top seed at Wuhan and faces a stiff challenge in the fight for the year-end number one ranking from the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka.
The 23-year-old Australian is first-ranked this week and would like to finish the year on top, but admitted that she has other priorities.
“I think it’s a target without being a target,” Barty told reporters.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where it’s a possibility. I plan my schedule, the last six months of this year, well in advance. I think I’m not going to change it to try and chase it,” she added.
“If it happens, it happens.”
Barty will open her Wuhan campaign against either Russian Daria Kasatkina or Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia.


Fernandinho own-goal costs Manchester City more points

Manchester City’s Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez leaps during Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium in England. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2020

Fernandinho own-goal costs Manchester City more points

  • Tottenham’s hopes of finishing in top four dented by goalless draw at Watford

LONDON: Pep Guardiola’s 49th birthday celebrations went flat as Fernandinho’s late own goal forced Manchester City to settle for a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace, while Tottenham’s hopes of finishing in the top four were dented by a goalless draw at Watford on Saturday.

On a busy day of top-flight action, the pitch side VAR monitor was used in the Premier League for the first time at Norwich and Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Sheffield United.
It was the drama at the Etihad Stadium that took the spotlight as Fernandinho’s last-gasp blunder left Guardiola in no mood to party after City’s faint hopes of retaining the title suffered another hammer blow.
The champions trail Liverpool by 13 points ahead of the runaway leaders’ clash with rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
Palace won the corresponding fixture at the Etihad Stadium last season and the south Londoners took a shock lead in the 39th minute.
Cenk Tosun marked his first league start since his loan move from Everton with his maiden goal for the Eagles, the Turkish striker netting a close-range strike from Martin Kelly’s flick.
Sergio Aguero appeared to have turned the game on its head in the 82nd minute when the Argentine striker turned in Gabriel Jesus’ cross for his 250th goal in 360 games for the club.
Aguero put City ahead in the 87th minute with a typically predatory header from Benjamin Mendy’s cross. But there was a sting in the tale for Guardiola as Fernandinho turned Wilfried Zaha’s cross into his own net in the 90th minute to end second-placed City’s run of three successive league wins.
At Vicarage Road, Troy Deeney’s 70th-minute spot kick was saved by Paulo Gazzaniga before Tottenham’s Erik Lamela was denied a last-gasp winner by Ignacio Pussetto’s goal-line clearance.
With England captain Harry Kane sidelined after hamstring surgery, Tottenham have gone three league games without scoring.
Jose Mourinho’s side are without a win in four league matches since Dec. 26 and sit eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who visit Newcastle in Saturday’s late game.
Toothless Tottenham thought they had stolen the points in stoppage time when Lamela flicked Serge Aurier’s cross toward the goal, but Watford’s new signing Pussetto cleared off the line, with goal line technology showing just 10.04mm of the ball had not gone over.
“I know it was only a couple of millimeters but goal line technology does not make mistakes like VAR. We have to accept it was not a goal,” Mourinho said.
Arsenal are 10 points adrift of the top four after the Blades continued their superb first season back in the Premier League.
Gabriel Martinelli broke the deadlock in first half stoppage time at the Emirates Stadium.
The 18-year-old Brazilian striker claimed his ninth goal of the season with a clinical finish from Bukayo Saka’s cross.
But Chris Wilder’s side snatched an 83rd-minute equalizer when John Fleck lashed home after Arsenal failed to clear.
Bottom of the table Norwich’s vital 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Bournemouth saw the pitch side monitor finally used to decide a red card call.
Norwich took the lead when Bournemouth defender Steve Cook was sent off after flinging himself across the goal to block Teemu Pukki’s shot with his hand.
Pukki fired home the resulting penalty in the 33rd minute, but the Canaries had to survive a tense finish after Ben Godfrey was sent off in the 76th minute.