Medvedev in 5, finally, advances to 4th round in Australia

Russia's Daniil Medvedev hits a return against Serbia's Filip Krajinovic during their men's singles match on day six of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 13, 2021. (AFP / William West)
Russia's Daniil Medvedev hits a return against Serbia's Filip Krajinovic during their men's singles match on day six of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 13, 2021. (AFP / William West)
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Updated 14 February 2021

Medvedev in 5, finally, advances to 4th round in Australia

Medvedev in 5, finally, advances to 4th round in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia: Daniil Medvedev finally worked out how to a win a five-setter. All by himself.
The fourth-seeded Medvedev was 0-6 in Grand Slam matches that went to five sets, and his Australian Open third-round match against No. 28-seeded Filip Krajinovic looked like it was going all the way.
After some angry outbursts from an increasingly animated and chatty Medvedev directed at his box in an otherwise empty Rod Laver Arena — fans have been banned as a COVID-19 precaution — his coach, Gilles Cervara, got up and left.
“He said just before leaving that he’s sure I’m going to win the match. He’s going to leave me alone to be more calm,” Medvedev explained in his on-court TV interview after Saturday’s 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-0 win. “It was a good thing to do. Luckily I won.”
Some pundits, including John McEnroe, are tipping the 25-year-old Russian to make his major breakthrough in Australia. Medvedev, on a 17-match winning streak that includes titles at the 2020 season-ending ATP Finals, said while that’s nice to hear, he’s got a long way to go.
He’ll have to face unseeded American Mackenzie McDonald in the next round. After that could be a quarterfinal against No. 7 Andrey Rublev, who helped him win the ATP Cup title for Russia last week. No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal, a 20-time major winner, is also in his half of the draw.
Nadal extended his winning streak against fellow left-handers to 16 with a 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 victory over No. 69-ranked Cameron Norrie, reaching the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the 14th time in 16 trips.
He is chasing a men’s record 21st major title but entered the tournament with back stiffness and without any competitive matches in 2021.
“Today is better, yeah,” Nadal said of his back soreness. “First day I feel an improvement, and that’s the most important thing for me today.”
He hasn’t dropped a set in three matches that, he said, “I hope will help me for what’s coming.”
In his immediate future is No. 16 Fabio Fognini, who had a straight-set win over Australia’s last hope in the men’s draw, 21st-seeded Alex de Minaur.
Medvedev had been bothered by a problem with his upper left leg and had a medical timeout for treatment late in the fourth set.
When he fell behind 5-2 in the fourth, Medvedev shouted, “I never saw something like this!”
He returned to better much play in the deciding set, smacking an inside-out forehand winner to a corner to close an 18-stroke exchange and break to go up 2-0.
He didn’t drop another game as he seized the momentum back from Krajinovic, who was previously 4-1 in matches that went the full five sets.
“In contrary with previous matches where I could get tight . . . here I was really calm to finish the match,” Medvedev said. “Really happy I got the five-set win.”
Medvedev, the US Open finalist last year, will next play McDonald, a player he compared with Roger Federer in style. McDonald beat Lloyd Harris in straight sets to equal his best Grand Slam result by reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open.
Seventh-seeded Rublev had a 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 win over Feliciano Lopez, ending the 39-year-old Spaniard’s 75th consecutive major tournament.
The Russian men had one loss on Day 6, with No. 19 Karen Khachanov beaten by No. 9 Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). Berrettini will next play fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 winner over Mikael Ymer of Sweden.
Two women with titles already this year are through to the Round of 16.
Top-ranked Ash Barty, who won the Yarra Valley Classic last week for a title in her first tournament back from almost 12 months on the sidelines, beat Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 6-2, 6-4.
Barty said while it felt strange not having fans in the stadium for the first time in her career at the highest level, there were some things she didn’t mind.
“It feels a little bit like practice,” she said, “so we’re pretty used to it.”
Barty next faces American Shelby Rogers, who beat No. 21 Anett Kontaveit 6-4, 6-3.
Elize Mertens, a 2018 Australian Open semifinalist who won the Gippsland Trophy tuneup tournament last week, had a 6-2, 6-1 victory over 11th-seeded Belinda Bencic. She’ll take a seven-match winning streak into her next match against Karolina Muchova in the fourth round.
No. 25-seeded Muchova rallied from a 5-0 second-set deficit in near silence, which only made the turnaround seem more bizarre as she beat No. 6 Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 7-5.
There were no fans in the stands due to the start of a five-day lockdown imposed by the Victoria state government in response to a COVID-19 outbreak at a quarantine hotel. Up to 30,000 spectators daily — 50% of capacity — had been admitted on previous days.
“I was actually getting happy yesterday morning that I’m finally going to play on a bigger court and there’s going to be a crowd,” Muchova said. “”But unlucky now for five days here. Hopefully then it’s going to be back again.”
No. 61-ranked Jessica Pegula had a 6-2, 6-1 win over Kristina Mladenovic and will next play No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina, who won the last nine games to beat Yulia Putintseva 6-4,6-0.
No. 22 Jennifer Brady dropped only four games to advance to a fourth-round match against No. 28 Donna Vekic, who saved a match point and beat Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4.
“I was really brave in some moments,” Vekic said. “I was like, ‘OK, how am I a match point down? I don’t want it to be over.’”


Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs claims shock Olympic 100m win

Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy crosses the finish line and wins gold. (Reuters)
Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy crosses the finish line and wins gold. (Reuters)
Updated 01 August 2021

Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs claims shock Olympic 100m win

Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy crosses the finish line and wins gold. (Reuters)
  • The fastest man in the world this year, American Trayvon Bromell, was eliminated in the semi-finals
  • Jacobs had not even broken 10 seconds until this year

TOKYO: Unheralded Italian sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs stormed to a shock gold in the Olympic 100 metres on Sunday after Caeleb Dressel collected his fifth swimming gold medal of the Games.

Jacobs crossed the line in a European record of 9.80sec at the Olympic Stadium to succeed retired Jamaican legend Usain Bolt as champion of the blue riband event of the athletics programme.

Fred Kerley of the United States took silver in 9.84sec and Canada's Andre de Grasse collected bronze in 9.89sec.

The fastest man in the world this year, American Trayvon Bromell, was eliminated in the semi-finals.

Jacobs had not even broken 10 seconds until this year.

"It was my childhood dream to win an Olympic Games and obviously a dream can turn into something different, but to run this final and win it is a dream come true," the Texas-born Italian said.

Jacobs credited improvements in training, diet and mentality for his progression this season.

"I really work hard with my mind," he told AFP. "Because when I was arriving at the big moment my legs don't work too good. Now my legs go really good when it's a big moment."


From Japan to Germany: Golf’s Olympic gold medal winner Xander Schauffele’s roots span the globe

Xander Schauffele, of the US, poses with his gold medal next to bronze medal winner C.T. Pan of Taiwan, left, and silver medal winner Rory Sabbatini, of Slovakia, right, for the men's golf at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (AP)
Xander Schauffele, of the US, poses with his gold medal next to bronze medal winner C.T. Pan of Taiwan, left, and silver medal winner Rory Sabbatini, of Slovakia, right, for the men's golf at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (AP)
Updated 01 August 2021

From Japan to Germany: Golf’s Olympic gold medal winner Xander Schauffele’s roots span the globe

Xander Schauffele, of the US, poses with his gold medal next to bronze medal winner C.T. Pan of Taiwan, left, and silver medal winner Rory Sabbatini, of Slovakia, right, for the men's golf at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (AP)
  • American Schauffele won by a shot from surprise silver medallist Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia
  • 27-year-old Schauffele, a four-time winner on the US PGA Tour, has a family heritage which includes Japan

KAWAGOE, Japan: Xander Schauffele had more than thoughts of a medal inspiring him to gold at Tokyo 2020 on Sunday.
The world number five golfer was driven on by his father’s lost Olympic opportunity, and the 30 or more members of his Japanese extended family, including his maternal grandparents, who would have been on the course to cheer his every shot had there been spectators allowed.
American Schauffele won by a shot from surprise silver medallist Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia, with Taiwan’s C.T. Pan taking bronze after an epic seven-man playoff.
The 27-year-old Schauffele, a four-time winner on the US PGA Tour, has a family heritage that straddles the globe.
He says he was brought up culturally more Japanese because his Taiwanese mother ws brought up in Japan.
“My fellow countryman (Pan) is right next to me,” he laughed at the medallists’ press conference.
“We got a worldly deal. France, Germany, Taiwan, a little bit of Japan. My mom was born in Taiwan, so actually by blood I’m half-Taiwanese.
“My mom grew up in Japan from the age of four... and my grandparents have been in Japan ever since. So I have a family split between Taiwan and Japan.”
And that means normally it’s family party time whenever he arrives in the Land of the Rising Sun, at least when there are no Covid restrictions or states of emergency in force for his largely Tokyo-based relatives.
But Schauffele’s heritage spans far more than the US and the Far East. His father Stefan, who is half-French, was a top decathlete for Germany who never got to realize his own dreams of Games glory.
Stefan’s car was hit by a drunk-driver four decades ago on his way to Olympic training, shattering his sporting ambitions in an instant as he suffered multiple injuries including the loss of sight in his left eye.
Schauffele, the 2017 US PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, was proud to have won the medal for Team USA but pointed out he was the only member of his family who is actually American.
“I’m the only natural-born citizen in my family, being born in the United States,” he smiled. Schauffele’s brother, Nico, was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and he says his globe-trotting family background gives him a great perspective on life.
“I think that me being very international it’s taught me a lot about different cultures and it’s made me understanding of different cultures,” said Schauffele, who has made more than a dozen visits to Japan.
“I think that if everyone sort of had the ability to travel more and experience other cultures they would be more willing to get along, potentially.”
Silver medallist Sabbatini, born in Durban, South Africa, and now playing for Slovakia, was full of praise for Schauffele.
“Xander, never mind his golf game, probably one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve ever met. Always hospitable, you can tell he was raised right,” said Sabbatini, who shot an incredible final-round 61 to snatch a shock medal.
Schauffele had suffered the agony of losing out in the final pairing of the Masters to Hideki Matsuyama at Augusta, but hoped Japan would forgive him for turning the tables to register his first win since the 2020 Tour Championship.
“I can’t speak for the Japanese people, I’m sure my grandparents are very happy,” he said.
“But they may be the only people in Japan who were pulling for me, rather than Hideki.”


Esteban Ocon wins chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix, Vettel disqualification puts Hamilton 2nd

Second placed Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin, first placed Esteban Ocon of Alpine and third placed Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes on the podium after the race. (Reuters)
Second placed Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin, first placed Esteban Ocon of Alpine and third placed Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes on the podium after the race. (Reuters)
Updated 02 August 2021

Esteban Ocon wins chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix, Vettel disqualification puts Hamilton 2nd

Second placed Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin, first placed Esteban Ocon of Alpine and third placed Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes on the podium after the race. (Reuters)
  • Max Verstappen’s Red Bull was damaged in a first lap crash, which took out five cars
  • Bottas acknowledged he was at fault after being given a five-place penalty on the grid for the next race

BUDAPEST: Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was disqualified from the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday and stripped of second place, the FIA said.
Vettel's Aston Martin car was deemed to have insufficient fuel left after the race.
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was promoted to second place behind race winner, Alpine's Esteban Ocon with Carlos Sainz in a Ferrari inheriting third place.
World champion Hamilton now has a seven-point lead over title rival Max Verstappen who moved up a place from 10th to ninth after Vettel's banishment.
“After the race it was not possible to take a 1.0 litre sample of fuel from car 5,” said an FIA statement released five hours after the chaotic race ended at the Hungaroring.
“The team was given several opportunities to attempt to remove the required amount of fuel from the tank, however it was only possible to pump 0.3 litres out.
“Given this situation, car No. 5 is not in compliance with the requirements of FIA Technical Regulations.”
The decision robbed Aston Martin of what would have been just their second podium of the 2021 season following Vettel's runner-up spot in Azerbaijan.
“The 18 points loss is disappointing for the team, but it doesn't take away from an otherwise flawless drive from Sebastian,” said a team statement.

Max Verstappen’s Red Bull was damaged in a first lap crash, which took out five cars, and he eventually finished 10th, leaving Hamilton to take a six-point lead in the championship.
“Today we showed that our car has strong race pace. Onwards and upwards,” Ocon said of his win.
“What a moment! It feels so good!
“It’s fantastic, what can I say? Congrats to Fernando (Alonso) as well, I think the win is also thanks to him with the fight that he did.
“It’s teamwork, it’s been a fantastic day!”

“Congratulations to the Alpine team and to Esteban for his first win — he’s been a shining star for a long time,” said Hamilton who was booed again during his post-race interview by a section of the packed crowd who blame him for the crash at the British GP two weeks ago which took out Verstappen.
“Today was definitely tough, we always make it difficult for ourselves.
“Crazy to think we were the only ones on the grid at the start, but these things happen and we learn from them. I gave it everything and I have nothing left in the end.”
Mercedes also took over the constructors championship lead. Going into the summer break they are now 10 points ahead of Red Bull.
Two weeks after the controversial collision between Hamilton and Verstappen on the opening lap at Silverstone, there was early trouble again at the Hungaroring, this time prompted by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
With the rain coming down, the Finn triggered a series of collisions on the opening turn which not only took him out of the race but accounted for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll and the McLaren of Lando Norris.
Bottas acknowledged he was at fault after being given a five-place penalty on the grid for the next race, the Belgian GP at Spa at the end of August.
“I think that’s fair enough,” said Bottas.
“I had a bad start and I lost the momentum. I misjudged the braking point and locked the wheels.
“I was responsible for hitting Lando and that meant he cut people off in front of him.
“It’s not great for me and not great others. It’s not like I did it on purpose.”
Seven-time world champion Hamilton, starting on pole for the 101st time in his F1 career, was ahead of the chaos in the rain and looked a nailed-on winner when he was on his own on the grid for the restart while the other cars were all changing tires to suit the improved weather.
Bizarrely, within one lap, Hamilton was at the back as Mercedes, having failed to switch his tires, called him in.
“I was telling the team how the track was during the lap but they said the rain was coming when we got in the car so I thought they had other information,” said Hamilton after the race.
It marked the start of an epic race from the Briton which might well have ended in his 100th GP win had it not been from superb defensive driving from 40-year-old Alonso who prevented him closing on Vettel and Ocon.
Ocon was also untouched by the first lap chaos and was second at the restart. With Hamilton’s plight, the Frenchman took over the race lead.
Four-time world champion Vettel pressed him hard but could not get close enough to mount a serious challenge.


Olympic gold medals in weightlifting, high-jump mark historic day for Qatar

Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Faris Ibrahim El-Bakh made history for their country by claiming the first ever Olympic gold medals in history just a few hours apart. (AFP)
Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Faris Ibrahim El-Bakh made history for their country by claiming the first ever Olympic gold medals in history just a few hours apart. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2021

Olympic gold medals in weightlifting, high-jump mark historic day for Qatar

Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Faris Ibrahim El-Bakh made history for their country by claiming the first ever Olympic gold medals in history just a few hours apart. (AFP)

TOKYO: Qatar's Mutaz Barshim won his country's first Olympic track and field gold medal in the high jump on Sunday.

Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi both recorded a best clearance of 2.37 meters, which meant they ended up with a rare shared title.

Both athletes said they were in dreamland as they put behind them the nightmare of serious injuries to claim the top prize.

Barshim, though, missed out on a share of the gold because of an earlier failure.

The jubilant duo declined the chance of winning the title outright by turning down a jump-off.

For Barshim, 30, it completes a full house of Olympic medals having taken bronze in London in 2012 and silver in Rio five years ago.

Barshim missed a large part of 2018 with a serious ankle injury, bouncing back to win world outdoor gold on home soil in 2019.

"This is a dream I don't want to wake up from," he said. "I have been through a lot. It's been five years that I have been waiting, with injuries and a lot of set-backs.

"But we are here today sharing this moment and all the sacrifices. It's really worth it now in this moment."

Elsewhere at the Games, a few hours before Barshim, it was another first for Qatar after weightlifter Faris Ibrahim El-Bakh won the country's first ever gold medal in the Men's 96kg weightlifting competition.

His historic achievement came after lifting a total of 402kg, which set a new Olympic record in the process.

Venezuelan Villanilla Sanchez finished second whilst while the bronze went to Georgian Plisnoll Anton.

* With AFP


Egypt suffers double defeat in Olympic Table Tennis Team competitions

The men’s duo of Ahmed Saleh and Khalid Assar (pictured) went down 3-0 (11-4,11-7,11-3) in 16 minutes to the powerful Chinese pairing of Long Ma and Xin Xu. (AFP)
The men’s duo of Ahmed Saleh and Khalid Assar (pictured) went down 3-0 (11-4,11-7,11-3) in 16 minutes to the powerful Chinese pairing of Long Ma and Xin Xu. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2021

Egypt suffers double defeat in Olympic Table Tennis Team competitions

The men’s duo of Ahmed Saleh and Khalid Assar (pictured) went down 3-0 (11-4,11-7,11-3) in 16 minutes to the powerful Chinese pairing of Long Ma and Xin Xu. (AFP)
  • Two 3-0 losses eliminates the men's and women's teams from Tokyo 2020 ahead of Monday’s quarterfinals

DUBAI: Egypt’s men and women suffered straight-games defeats in their respective Table Tennis Team Round of 16 matches to exit Tokyo 2020 at the Japanese capital’s Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sunday.

The Egyptian women’s team of Yousra Helmy and Farah Abdelziz lost 3-0 (11-8, 13-11, 11-6) to Daniela Dodean and Elizabeta Samara of Romania at Table 3 in the morning session.

In the afternoon session, the men’s duo of Ahmed Saleh and Khalid Assar also went down 3-0 (11-4,11-7,11-3) in 16 minutes to the powerful Chinese pairing of Long Ma and Xin Xu.