Kyrgios wins the longest match of his career

Nick Kyrgiost reacts during his match against Karen Khachanov. (Reuters)
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Updated 26 January 2020

Kyrgios wins the longest match of his career

  • Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, the sixth seed, won only one game against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, the world No. 31, as she went down 6-0, 6-1

MELBOURNE: Home favorite Nick Kyrgios went five sets to ensure an Australian Open showdown with Rafael Nadal on Saturday as a series of shocks caused carnage in the women’s draw. Kyrgios survived the longest match of his career to beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (6/8), 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (10/8), collapsing on his back after the fifth-set tie-breaker.
“That was insane — I’ve got no words to how I’m feeling right now,” he said, after the 4hr 26min marathon marked by his trademark tweeners and exchanges with the umpire.
“This is just epic man, I don’t even know what’s going on. My legs feel about 40 kilos each.”
The outspoken Aussie now heads into a last-16 clash with Nadal, with whom he has history after calling him “super salty” following criticism from the Spaniard last year.
“Whatever happens between us, he’s an amazing player, he’s arguably the greatest of all time,” said Kyrgios.
Top seed Nadal had a comparatively easy ride against his Davis Cup teammate Pablo Carreno Busta, racing through 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in what he called his “best match of the tournament so far.”
While the men’s Big Three of Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are all still alive, it’s a different story in the women’s competition where six of the top 10 seeds crashed out in the third round.

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Nick Kyrgios now heads into a last-16 clash with Rafael Nadal.

After Serena Williams and title-holder Naomi Osaka fell by the wayside on Friday, second seed Karolina Pliskova bombed on Saturday with a 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
“I was about 40 percent today of my game,” lamented the Czech.
Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, the sixth seed, won only one game against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, the world No. 31, as she went down 6-0, 6-1.
And a resurgent Garbine Muguruza, a two-time Major-winner, thrashed fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-2. Tenth seed Madison Keys lost to Maria Sakkari on Friday.
“I was very concentrated and focused on what I wanted to do, it all went fast my way,” said Muguruza, who raced through the first set in just 23 minutes.
Croatian 19th seed Donna Vekic also crumbled to lower-ranked opposition when she lost 7-5, 6-3 to Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who is returning from a stress fracture in her foot.
However, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep stayed on course with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva.


Saudi Arabia makes golf free for women in bid to grow game

Updated 26 min 20 sec ago

Saudi Arabia makes golf free for women in bid to grow game

  • ‘Ladies First Club’ will grant 1,000 registrants free lessons, club membership and rounds of golf
  • Aimed at introducing women to the sport, welcoming them to clubs and getting more Saudis regularly active

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has announced a sporting initiative that will allow women to take up the game of golf expense-free.

To be launched at next month’s debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund, Golf Saudi’s innovative ‘Ladies First Club’ will offer a complimentary membership inclusive of golf lessons, driving range access and full 18-hole rounds on three different courses.

It will be open to all Saudi women, with initial membership capped at 1,000 registrants.

All players signed-up to the scheme will be designated as a Ladies First Member at either Riyadh Golf Club, Dirab Golf Club or King Abdullah Economic City’s (KAEC) Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, depending on their location.

The membership will include a digital ‘Introduction to Golf’ education pack, which will provide monthly seminars outlining the key aspects of golf for beginners. Each of the three golf courses will also host a Ladies First golf clinic once a month, led by a professional, which will conclude with an on-course induction for all participants and a chance to play an 18-hole round.

Full range access will then remain available to all members of the club, with the program’s top 12 performers being offered a full, year-round membership at their course of choice.

Majed Al Sorour, CEO of Golf Saudi, said: “The Ladies First Club will be a club like no other. It is our most exciting initiative yet aimed at developing the great game of golf across Saudi Arabia and is the ideal way to celebrate the historic nature of the Kingdom’s first ever women’s golf tournament, the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund.

Sorour continued: “Golf is growing in Saudi Arabia and we remain committed to our targets. We are already seeing a steady rise in interest from women golfers and we hope the Ladies First Club will help us reach that next level.”

CEO of Golf Saudi Majed Al Sorour. (Supplied)

Off course, the Ladies First Club will include a range of additional social opportunities too, including invites to social mornings with the likes of Pilates, yoga, bridge and other social and wellbeing activities.

All registrants will also receive member discounts across all three golf clubs’ restaurants and shops and will receive access to discounted full membership options on completion of the program.

Maha Haddioui is the first and only Arab woman golfer to play on the Ladies European Tour to date. She will be taking part in both of next month’s Saudi events.

She said: “Any way of making it easier to get women out playing golf has my backing — and the scheme that Golf Saudi have created with the Ladies First Club is a fantastic idea. From my experience, there is no better way of opening the sport up to new golfers than making it fun, inclusive and social. This initiative is each of those things.”

Moroccan pro-golfer Maha Haddioui. (Supplied)

Amateur golfer Sara Salhab, 27, regularly plays golf with friends at Dirab Golf Club, having played the sport since she was young.
She said: “The Ladies First Club is a great idea because it’s creating a platform to take women’s golf to the next level, by giving the required professional help and building a community that will allow players to flourish, so I think it’s great.

“Golf is a very nice sport that works both your mind and your body — and you’re outdoors in greenery, which is great, especially here. I really enjoy it. More women should play because it is very healthy, you get to be outdoors and it’s a social activity that — with the Ladies First Club — is more accessible than ever.”

The Ladies First Club will officially launch during tournament build-up week for the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund, which takes place 12th-15th November — two days before the Saudi Ladies Team International, which will see teams of four golfers compete together for a share of $500,000 prize money, 17th-19th November.

Women looking to register for the Club will be able to do so via the Golf Saudi website from the week the historic events get underway.

For more information about the Ladies First Club, Golf Saudi and both the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF and the Saudi Ladies Team International, visit: www.golfsaudi.com/en-us/ladies-international