Svitolina reaches 3rd round of Abu Dhabi Open

Svitolina reaches 3rd round of Abu Dhabi Open
Elina Svitolina
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Updated 09 January 2021

Svitolina reaches 3rd round of Abu Dhabi Open

Svitolina reaches 3rd round of Abu Dhabi Open
  • Svitolina will play either 17th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova or Britain’s Heather Watson in the third round

ABU DHABI: Elina Svitolina reached the third round of the Abu Dhabi Open with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva on Saturday as Karolina Pliskova was eliminated in straight sets by a qualifier.

Svitolina will play either 17th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova or Britain’s Heather Watson in the third round after a routine win over Zvonareva in just over an hour.

Third-seeded Pliskova was beaten 6-2, 6-4 by Russian qualifier Anastasia Gasanova, who was ranked 292nd in her first tour main draw and had never before played anyone ranked in the top 100. Next up for Gasanova is a third-round meeting with Sara Sorribes Tormo.

“It’s like it was not me on the court. I was so sure of myself,” Gasanova said of her breakthrough win. “It’s like when I step on the court, I’m a different person, I’m more angry.”

Sixth-seeded Elena Rybakina converted her fifth match point to seal a 6-4, 6-4 win over Wang Xiyu of China. Rybakina next plays Daria Kasatkina, who advanced to the third round by walkover after her opponent Karolina Muchova withdrew.

Separately, organizers of the Australian Open said that tennis’ top stars will quarantine in Adelaide rather than Melbourne and play an exhibition there ahead of the mega tournament, with the city also hosting a WTA event after the years’ first Grand Slam.

Some 1,270 players and support staff are due to arrive in Melbourne on charter flights late next week, where they will have to spend a mandatory 14 days in quarantine.

But with hotel rooms in the city scarce, Australian Open chief Craig Tiley said he had approached the South Australian government about taking some of them.

Matters were further complicated when a hotel in Melbourne that was due to accommodate players pulled out on Tuesday, reportedly because of concerns from residents. With little benefit to Adelaide from putting its community at risk of coronavirus by housing players, an exhibition featuring the top names in the game was suggested as an enticement.

“It would be a benefit if they played an exhibition tournament just before they came to Melbourne, so the premier (Steven Marshall) has agreed to host 50 people in a quarantine bubble and then have those players play an exhibition,” Tiley told Tennis Channel.

An official statement announcing the Jan. 29 exhibition said it would feature the world’s top three men — Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem — and two of the top three women in Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka.

World number one Ashleigh Barty was not included, but 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams was, with two more players to be added to the field.

“The conditions of the quarantine will be the same (as Melbourne),” said Tiley, with players only allowed out of their rooms for five hours to practice and train in a bio-secure bubble.

“They’ll be in a different hotel and a smaller cohort and travel direct to Adelaide. We think this is a great opportunity to actually launch before we go into the season.”

They would then head to Melbourne Park for the 12-team ATP Cup, along with two WTA tournaments and two ATP events being played from January 31 ahead of the Australian Open on Feb. 8.


Dec. 14 confirmed as date for Maradona Cup match between Barcelona and Boca Juniors in Saudi Arabia

Dec. 14 confirmed as date for Maradona Cup match between Barcelona and Boca Juniors in Saudi Arabia
Updated 57 sec ago

Dec. 14 confirmed as date for Maradona Cup match between Barcelona and Boca Juniors in Saudi Arabia

Dec. 14 confirmed as date for Maradona Cup match between Barcelona and Boca Juniors in Saudi Arabia
  • The match between the Spanish and Argentine giants, which is part of the Riyadh Season festivities, will honor the late Diego Maradona, who played for both

Spanish soccer giants Barcelona and Argentina’s Boca Juniors will contest the Maradona Cup on Dec. 14 at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, several sources confirmed on Monday, including the European side.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, had previously announced in a message posted on Twitter this month that two of Argentine legend Diego Maradona’s former clubs would face off in a friendly match in November as part of Riyadh Season. On Monday night he posted update with the new date for the match.

The post included a short video that showed Maradona scoring his famous solo goal against England during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, along with highlights from his time with Barcelona and Boca Juniors. It ends with the words “legend forever.”

The inaugural Riyadh Season in 2019 attracted more than 10 million visitors. After skipping 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event returned this month. Described as one of the biggest global entertainment festivals, with a diverse program of events and experiences spread across 14 venues in the capital, it will continue until March 2022.


Saudi Arabia beat Kuwait by four wickets in ICC T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier

Saudi Arabia managed 149/6 with six balls remaining, with player of the match Sajid Cheema scoring 52 runs, having earlier taken two catches. (Twitter: @cricketsaudi)
Saudi Arabia managed 149/6 with six balls remaining, with player of the match Sajid Cheema scoring 52 runs, having earlier taken two catches. (Twitter: @cricketsaudi)
Updated 25 October 2021

Saudi Arabia beat Kuwait by four wickets in ICC T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier

Saudi Arabia managed 149/6 with six balls remaining, with player of the match Sajid Cheema scoring 52 runs, having earlier taken two catches. (Twitter: @cricketsaudi)
  • Men’s T20 World Cup will be held in Australia next October

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia beat Kuwait by four wickets in their Men's ICC T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier in Doha on Monday.

They won the toss and elected to field first, with Kuwait posting 146/8 in their 20 overs.

With a target of 147 set for a win, Saudi Arabia managed 149/6 with six balls remaining, with player of the match Sajid Cheema scoring 52 runs, having earlier taken two catches.

The Asia qualifiers in Qatar will determine which team progresses to next year’s Men’s ICC T20 World Cup taking place in Australia.

After two rounds of matches, Saudi Arabia now lead the five-team qualifying competition with a maximum of four points from two wins, followed by Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, who have two points each from a win and a loss. 

The Maldives are in last place with no points from two defeats. Saudi Arabia comfortably beat the Maldives in their first match by seven wickets, with 29 balls remaining.

The Maldives were 98/9, while the Saudis were 101/3 from 15.1 overs.

Saudi Arabia’s next match will be on Wednesday against hosts Qatar.


Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
Updated 25 October 2021

Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
  • The two men join women’s US Open winner Emma Raducanu and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the line-up for the tournament

ABU DHABI: World No. 8 Casper Ruud and No. 13 Denis Shapovalov have been confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship taking place at the International Tennis Centre on December 16-18.

After a one-year absence due to the pandemic, the tournament will be held in the UAE capital for the 13th time with full capacity crowds.

Ruud, winner of the most ATP titles in 2021, and Shapovalov, who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, are the first two male players to be confirmed for this year’s event.

The pair, both regarded as future Grand Slam champions, join women’s US Open winner Emma Raducanu and her opponent on day one, Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic, in signing up to make their Abu Dhabi and tournament debuts. The remaining four players will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Announcing the players for the Championship is always a special moment and we have two special players in Casper and Denis,” said John Lickrish, CEO of Flash Entertainment, which is running the tournament. “Our goal is to bring the world’s best talent and build on the legacy of our championship and both players are the perfect fit.”

“They are young, supremely talented, have had successes this season and are great additions to the line-up alongside Emma and Belinda,” he said. “We are once again on track to bring the best-of-the-best from the world of tennis. Stay tuned for more announcements and rest assured the Championship is, as always, a must attend for all tennis fans.”

Norwegian ace Ruud is arguably the most improved player on the ATP tour this year, having won five tour titles in 2021, his latest victory coming at the San Diego Open earlier this October. It is a run that has made him the first Norwegian to break into the world’s top 10.

“I’ve had a great season this year and I’m excited to make my debut at this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship. I’m eager to keep improving next year, so Abu Dhabi in December provides a chance to play against the world’s best in preparation for another big season, while exploring a new destination and new cultures,” said Ruud.

Canadian star Shapovalov has also had an impressive year, achieving his best Grand Slam results in reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon. In 2020 he was one of only two Canadian men to achieve an ATP Top-10 ranking.

“It’s always nice to play in a new city and get the opportunity to see and do different things. I’m excited to come to Abu Dhabi to see all it has to offer, and I’ve heard great things about the venue so I’m looking forward to playing against the best in the world and putting on a show for the fans,” said Shapovalov.


Rosberg X Racing wins Island X Prix in Sardinia to take commanding lead in inaugural Extreme E season

Rosberg X Racing wins Island X Prix in Sardinia to take commanding lead in inaugural Extreme E season
Updated 25 October 2021

Rosberg X Racing wins Island X Prix in Sardinia to take commanding lead in inaugural Extreme E season

Rosberg X Racing wins Island X Prix in Sardinia to take commanding lead in inaugural Extreme E season
  • The team established by former Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg has now won three of the four races in electric SUV series

SARDINIA: Rosberg X Racing made it three wins from four races by securing victory at the Enel X Island X Prix in Sardinia to build a commanding lead in the inaugural Extreme E championship season.

The race was the fourth in the first-ever electric SUV series, which launched in April with the Desert X Prix at AlUla. That was followed by the Ocean X Prix in Dakar, Senegal, at the end of May and the Arctic X Prix in Greenland in August. The fifth and final race will be the Jurassic X Prix in Dorset, the UK, in December.

RXR drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor kept their heads in difficult conditions to seal a dramatic victory in Sardinia — for the team established by former Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg — ahead of ABT CUPRA XE, who secured their best result of the season in second.

“It was pretty slippery out there, so it was a bit difficult to judge at first,” Taylor said. “From that point it was just trying to manage the risk and I think that is what we did really well. Johan brought it home and again it was just an amazing effort by all of the team. We had a very challenging weekend from our side, but we never gave up and are very happy to be the winners here.”

There was heartbreak, however, for long-time leaders in the final SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing. Sara Price’s crash on the second lap caused terminal damage and meant she had to stop on the track, ensuring the team could only finish as high as fourth on their finals debut. That meant JBXE were able to secure their third podium finish in succession with third place despite also suffering damage out on the course.

Bad luck once again befell fastest qualifiers X44 in the final, as Sebastien Loeb was forced to stop out on track and retire with broken steering. Loeb was running in second behind SEGI TV’s Kyle LeDuc despite driving with a slow puncture at the time of the stoppage, which meant the team fell even further behind winners and championship leaders RXR in the standings.

“When I took over the car, we were in second place and were pretty isolated,” RXR’s Kristoffersson said. “We had Mattias (Ekstrom) behind, but I knew it was going to be tricky to do the overtake. Then I heard that Sara had suffered broken steering out in front so I tried to get the car back in one piece by not taking any big risks. I think in this final that Molly really did the best job and it feels great to bring it home.”

In treacherous conditions, four of the five teams were able to get off the start line cleanly, although ABT CUPRA XE were left with plenty of work to do after Jutta Kleinschmidt stalled on the grid. It looked like X44 had staged a remarkable comeback to lead into the first corner, but were beaten spectacularly by LeDuc, who managed to get in front after using the alternative route.

“I was so concentrated on the start to make it well and light and then I pushed the car and nothing happened. I said, ‘Oh shoot, what is going on,’” said Kleinschmidt. “Then I pushed it, but everybody was gone, so I had to try to come back, which worked very well. We so nearly made it ahead of RXR, but unfortunately then Mattias lost the door so he had to slow down to not let the water come in, because then maybe you have mud inside and then you don’t see anything anymore. Finally, though, we are on the podium so we are happy.”

Final Result

1 Rosberg X Racing (Molly Taylor / Johan Kristoffersson) 2 laps (11.42)

2 ABT Cupra XE (Jutta Kleinschmidt / Mattias Ekstrom) +24.58s

3 JBXE (Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky / Kevin Hansen) +1 lap

4 SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) +1 lap5

X44 (Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez) +2 laps


Championship Standings

1 Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 129 points

2 X44 (Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez) 113 points

3 Andretti United Extreme E (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 93 points

4 JBXE (Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky) 92 points

5 ABT CUPRA XE (Mattias Ekstrom / Jutta Kleinschmidt) 83 points

6 ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz Snr. / Laia Sanz) 78 points

7 SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle Leduc / Sara Price) 63 points8

8 Veloce Racing (Stephane Sarrazin / Emma Gilmour) 60 points

9 XITE ENERGY RACING (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) 55 points


Dubai Moonlight Classic returns to Faldo Course as world’s only day-to-night tournament

Dubai Moonlight Classic returns to Faldo Course as world’s only day-to-night tournament
Updated 25 October 2021

Dubai Moonlight Classic returns to Faldo Course as world’s only day-to-night tournament

Dubai Moonlight Classic returns to Faldo Course as world’s only day-to-night tournament
  • Top international female players will take part in action at Emirates Golf Club on Oct. 27-29

DUBAI: The Dubai Moonlight Classic by EGA will put some of the best female golfers in the world under the spotlight when they tee off on the Faldo Course at Emirates Golf Club from Oct. 27to 29 in the only day-to-night tournament in world golf.

With the tournament free to enter for spectators, here are five reasons to watch the on-course action:

1. Sibling rivalry

Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn are in red-hot form this season, the pair winning the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in July thanks to an impressive fourball 59 on the final day.

Aside from the shared win, younger sibling Ariya also claimed victory in the Honda LPGA Thailand and posted seven top-10 finishes this year. The 25-year-old is also a two-time Major winner, while older sister Moriya, 27, has six top-10 finishes to her name this year.

2. Golfing greats

Even to those who know little to nothing about golf, Dame Laura Davies will need no introduction. With a staggering 85 professional wins, the Englishwoman is a bona fide golfing legend and one of the game’s all-time greats. What is more, she plays golf with a smile on her face.

Scottish golfing legend Catriona Matthew hit the headlines earlier this year when she successfully captained the European Team to a Solheim Cup title defense. The 15-13 win over the US team at the Inverness Club in the face of a partisan home support in Toledo, Ohio gave Team Europe back-to-back wins, and the 52-year-old ranks the result right up there with her 11 professional tournament wins.

3. The next generation

While Matthew and Davies have seen it all, Chiara Noja is at the other end of the spectrum. The 14-year-old, playing her second Dubai Moonlight Classic, officially turned professional on the eve of the tournament, marking a major milestone in what could well be a promising career.

The Dubai-based golfer could learn a thing or two from current Race to Costa del Sol leader, Atthaya Thitikul. Still only 18, the Thai sensation became the youngest ever golfer to win a professional tournament at the Ladies European Thailand Championship in 2017 where she triumphed aged just 14 years, four months, and 19 days old.

4. Indian inspiration

There is not one but two Indian Olympian stars in the field at this year’s event. Aditi Ashok, a three-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, narrowly missed out on a medal at this year’s Games as she finished fourth in Tokyo. The 23-year-old will be one to watch on the Faldo for sure; she finished tied sixth at last year’s Dubai Desert Classic just two strokes behind eventual winner Minjee Lee.

Compatriot and left-hander Diksha Dagar, who received a late entry to this year’s Games, is a two-time winner on the LET. The 20-year-old also represented India at the 2017 Summer Deaflympics where she secured a silver medal.

5. Race to the top

It is not just the coveted Dubai Moonlight Classic title that is up for grabs at the Faldo – the tournament also counts toward the Race to Costa del Sol, the season-long competition to crown the No. 1 player on the LET.

With a $290,000 bonus pool for the top three finishers, there is plenty at stake.  Current leader Thitikul will be looking to further consolidate her grip on this year’s title and hoping for a third tournament win this season, but the Thai sensation will be joined by nearest challengers Sanna Nuutinen, Stephanie Kyriacou, Pia Babnik, and Marianne Skarpnord as the entire top five and eight of the top 10 tee it up at the Faldo.