Seeds tumble in Dubai as Ons Jabeur keeps Arab hopes alive

Ons Jabeur is keeping Arab hopes alive at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. (WTA Tour)
Ons Jabeur is keeping Arab hopes alive at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. (WTA Tour)
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Updated 10 March 2021

Seeds tumble in Dubai as Ons Jabeur keeps Arab hopes alive

Ons Jabeur is keeping Arab hopes alive at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. (WTA Tour)
  • Tunisian advances to third round, but fourth seed Petra Kvitova retires

DUBAI: Elina Svitolina led a procession of seeds out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday, losing 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to former three-time finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Ons Jabeur played her part, with the Arab sporting icon advancing beyond the second round for the first time with a 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-2 win over 14th seed and 2020 Dubai finalist Elena Rybakina. The match was a closely-fought affair right up until Jabeur finally took control late in the final set.

“It was a very tough match. I wasn’t feeling happy on the court, but I’m glad that I challenged myself mentally,” said Jabeur. “I always want to win in this kind of tournaments. Honestly, I’m probably not showing the best behavior on the court but I’m really trying to play and to win here and this win, I think, could bring some joy to me and help me get through this tournament.”

Fourth seed Petra Kvitova, who arrived in Dubai fresh from winning her 28th career title in Doha, was forced to retire with an injury after dropping the opening set 6-2 and leading Jil Teichmann 4-3 in the second. Fifth seed Kiki Bertens fell 6-1, 6-4 against qualifier Tereza Martincova and Madison Keys, seeded 11, was upset 6-4, 6-3 by tournament wild card Anastasia Potapova.

Kuznetsova, who has more wins in Dubai than any other active player, appeared to be on her way out of the tournament, but turned the tables on her opponent in dramatic fashion. From 4-4 in the second set she swept the next seven games to lead 5-0 in the deciding set and closed out the contest on her third match point.

Kuznetsova was in despair during the early stage of the match but stuck to her task and manged to turn things around.

“I was feeling so stressed out there in the first set,” said Kuznetsova. “I couldn’t make any balls. The feeling was terrible and I was just focusing on trying to make two or three shots in to see how I can go, how I can regroup.”

Svitolina looked close to tears as the match slipped away from her and said: “She was serving much better in the second set and I missed a few opportunities, but she played really good on the returns and it was not a great response from me. Obviously the loss is very tough because I think I started the match quite good and I was feeling good going into the tournament and I really love to play here in Dubai, so I’m disappointed that it went that way.”

In a three-set struggle, Coco Gauff took just two minutes under two hours to upset 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 and keep her dream alive of playing in the final on her 17th birthday on Saturday.

“I thought I played well. I’m just staying in there, fighting every point, to be honest,” said Gauff, who has been taken to three sets in her last seven matches, winning six. “Today she started off strong and I was making errors but I found my rhythm in the second and third sets.”

After Kvitova fell behind 4-1 in the first set she received treatment several times during the change of ends before deciding that she could no longer compete.

“Unfortunately, since my semi-final in Doha I felt my (right) adductor and in the second set it got a little bit worse and I could no longer move the way I wanted and I didn’t want to get it even worse,” Kvitova explained. “I’m disappointed how it ended today and that I couldn't be more in the tournament here in Dubai.”

Other seeds struggled to reach the third round but managed to avoid an upset.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova had to battle for more than two hours before overcoming Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, and former champion Belinda Bencic was also stretched to the limit, needing two hours 38 minutes to overcome Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. But third seed Aryna Sabalenka was able to ease past former finalist Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-4, eighth seed Iga Swiatek beat Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-4 and ninth seed Garbine Muguruza defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-4, 6-2.

There were also wins for 10th seed Elise Mertens and 15th seed Annet Kontaveit.


Tyagi grabs dramatic 2-run win for Rajasthan in IPL

Tyagi grabs dramatic 2-run win for Rajasthan in IPL
Updated 32 sec ago

Tyagi grabs dramatic 2-run win for Rajasthan in IPL

Tyagi grabs dramatic 2-run win for Rajasthan in IPL
DUBAI, UAE: Fast bowler Kartik Tyagi conceded just one run and took two wickets in the last over of the game as Rajasthan Royals snatched a dramatic two-run victory against Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday.
Punjab needed only four runs off the last over, with plenty of wickets left, but Tyagi (2-29) had Nicholas Pooran (32) and Deepak Hooda both caught behind and managed to frustrate Fabian Allen (0 not out) off the last ball as Punjab finished at 183-4.
Earlier, Rajasthan slumped to 185 all out in 20 overs after being put in to bat. Punjab claimed seven wickets in the last six overs with fast bowler Arshdeep Singh ending up with 5-32.
“Tyagi was confident with his yorkers and executed them well against the new batters,” Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson said. “We were happy with our score. On this wicket that was a good score.”
Punjab was heading for a big win after Rajasthan dropped Punjab captain K.L. Rahul three times. Mayank Agarwal (67) and Rahul (49) pounced on the sloppy fielding and provided their team a commanding start of 120 runs off 71 balls before both fell in successive overs.
Tyagi, who had earlier dropped Rahul on 31, finally grabbed one at short third man as Rahul tried to cut Chetan Sakariya in the 12th over. Agarwal, who hit seven fours and two sixes, tried to play one too many and sliced a catch at deep point against spinner Rahul Tewatia.
However, Pooran and South Africa’s Aiden Markram (26 not out) seemed to have the match in their hands before Tyagi delivered his sensational last over, which Punjab started on 182-2.
Earlier, Rajasthan looked set for a 200-plus total after opener Evin Lewis (36 off 21 balls) contributed to an opening stand of 54 by smashing seven fours and a six before he was out in the sixth over. But once fellow opener and top scorer Yashasvi Jaiswal fell for 49 in the 15th over, Rajasthan lost its way despite Mahipal Lomror (43) and Liam Livingstone (25) playing cameos.
Mohammed Shami also bowled well for his 3-21 that included the wickets of Tewatia and Chris Morris in his last over.
Rajasthan has eight points from eight games and is tied for fourth with defending champions Mumbai Indians. Punjab is in danger of missing out on the playoffs with only six points from nine games.
“Tough one to swallow,” Rahul said. “We need to see how we can handle pressure better. It’s happened to the best in the game.”

Princess Reham greets Saudi shooting team on return from successful 14th Asian air gun titles

Princess Reham greets Saudi shooting team on return from successful 14th Asian air gun titles
Updated 3 min 50 sec ago

Princess Reham greets Saudi shooting team on return from successful 14th Asian air gun titles

Princess Reham greets Saudi shooting team on return from successful 14th Asian air gun titles
  • Saudi Olympic Committee official congratulates athletes on winning individual and team medals

The Saudi Arabian national shooting team was greeted by Princess Reham bint Seif Al-Islam, Saudi Olympic Committee’s executive director of protocol and events, on its return from a successful participation at the 14th Asian Air Gun Championships 2021 in Kazakhstan.

After landing at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on Monday, the squad was congratulated on winning several team and individual medals in the tournament, which was held at Shymkent Shooting Plaza from Sept. 9-20.

The Saudi participation at the championship ended with Safar Mohammed Al-Dossari winning silver in the individual 10m air pistol competition.

Earlier in the competition Al-Dossari, Atallah Nidaa Al-Anazi and Aqil Abdulhadi Al-Badrani came second to the host nation in the team 10m air pistol event.

Hussein Al-Harbi, Misfir Al-Ammari and Fayez Al-Anzi won bronze in the team 10m air rifle category.


Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi joins training camp for 2021 world karate titles in Dubai

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi joins training camp for 2021 world karate titles in Dubai
Updated 7 min 36 sec ago

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi joins training camp for 2021 world karate titles in Dubai

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi joins training camp for 2021 world karate titles in Dubai
  • National coach Mounir Afkir picks 21 athletes for the November tournament

The Saudi Arabian national karate team, led by Tokyo 2020 silver medal hero Tarek Hamdi, has begun preparations for the 2021 World Karate Championships to be held in Dubai from Nov. 16-21.

Coach of the Saudi national team Mounir Afkir selected 21 players for the squad heading to the UAE: Hamdi, Fahd Al-Khathami, Imad Al-Maliki, Badr Al-Otaibi, Faraj Al-Nashiri, Omar Al-Azmi, Yasser Al-Barqi, Mazen Al-Duqail, Majed Al-Khalifa, Sultan Al-Zahrani and Al-Hussein Al-Sharif, Khaled Al-Sheikhi, Abd Al-Rahman Hafs, Ali Barnawi, Muhammad Al-Thubaiti, Fahd Hakami, Muhammad Al-Maliki, Haitham Hafs, Misfir Al-Dossari, Abdullah Hakami and Abdullah Al-Nasir.

The Saudi karatekas will begin their preparation program with daily morning and evening training sessions at their Riyadh hotel.


Hungary gets 1-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism

Hungary gets 1-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism
Updated 21 September 2021

Hungary gets 1-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism

Hungary gets 1-match fan ban, $217,000 FIFA fine for racism
  • Monkey chants were aimed at England forward Raheem Sterling and unused substitute Jude Bellingham on Sept. 2
  • The Hungarian federation was fined 200,000 Swiss francs

LONDON: Hungary was ordered by FIFA on Tuesday to play its next World Cup qualifier without spectators as punishment for the latest racial abuse by its supporters when England played in Budapest.
Monkey chants were aimed at England forward Raheem Sterling and unused substitute Jude Bellingham, who are Black, at Puskas Arena on Sept. 2.
The Hungarian federation was also fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($217,000), one of the largest financial penalties handed out to a country by the world governing body.
In a sign of a systemic problem with racism from Hungarian fans, the punishment extends the country’s run of games in empty stadiums because of racism in qualifiers for the 2014 and 2022 World Cups and Euro 2016.
The team will have to play another FIFA match without a crowd if there are future incidents of abuse, with the second match of the punishment being suspended for a probationary period of two years.
“The FIFA ban on Hungary for racism and the huge fine is welcome and a signal from FIFA of a renewed determination to punish racism,” Piara Powar, executive director of the anti-racism FARE network, told The Associated Press. “But this also means that Hungary will serve bans from two different football governing bodies at European and international level at the same time, the principle of escalation has not been applied, it will not deal with the problem of racism inside Hungarian stadiums longer term.”
Hungary’s Sept. 2 match against England in Budapest would already have been played without spectators had FIFA been asked to implement a UEFA punishment t for discriminatory abuse during European Championship matches. That two-game ban on spectators will take effect next June during the Nations League.
Hungary will have to host Albania on Oct. 9 in an empty stadium in its next World Cup qualifier.
“This case highlights the need to make sure that regulations that ensure a consistency of approach across governing bodies are in place,” Powar said. “If all Hungarian offenses had been taken into account they would be facing exclusion from the World Cup, and remedial measures would have been put in place. There should be better co-ordination between confederations, such as UEFA, and FIFA, to coordinate action.
In this case UEFA should have asked FIFA to apply their previous sanction and the Hungary vs. England match played behind closed doors. An administrative loophole has allowed racism to flourish.”
FIFA’s disciplinary committee ruled there had been “racist behavior of numerous supporters” during the England match this month that was played in front of a crowd of almost 60,000 at Puskas Arena.
The verdict came “after analizing and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, specifically the seriousness of the incidents,” FIFA said in a statement highlighting “racist words and actions, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks, blocked stairways” by Hungary fans.
FIFA’s claim to adopt a “clear zero tolerance stance against such abhorrent behavior in football” was challenged by English football’s anti-racism organization.
“What does zero tolerance approach even mean? Words that read good in print but we’ll never actually adhere to them,” tweeted Kick It Out’s head of development Troy Townsend. “Anyway, we have our own problems and don’t even go this far with punishments.”


Italian boxer of Moroccan origin beats Nazi-tattooed rival

Italian boxer of Moroccan origin beats Nazi-tattooed rival
Updated 21 September 2021

Italian boxer of Moroccan origin beats Nazi-tattooed rival

Italian boxer of Moroccan origin beats Nazi-tattooed rival
  • Hassan Nourdine: Michele Broili’s tattoos ‘disgusted me … I had more of a taste to win’
  • Nourdine gained Italian super-featherweight title on points

LONDON: An Italian boxer born in Morocco has claimed victory over a fighter whose body is tattooed with Nazi symbols.

Hassan Nourdine, 34, beat Michele Broili, 28, on points to win the Italian super-featherweight title in the northeastern city of Trieste.

Nourdine, who moved to the Italian town of Asti with his parents when he was 6, said Broili’s tattoos motivated him to win.

“I tried to stay focused and undistracted the whole evening, but seeing Broili’s tattoos glorifying Nazism disgusted me, not to mention the spectators giving stiff-armed fascist salutes,” Nourdine told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper. “I wanted to have a good fight and given the situation I had more of a taste to win.”

He said the Federazione Pugilistica Italiana, Italian boxing’s governing body should not allow Broili to compete due to his tattoos.

“They should have realized this boxer had certain leanings — the incitement of hatred is punishable by law,” Nourdine added.

“Anyone who has been to school knows what the Nazis did, and even those who didn’t go to school know what the Holocaust was.”

Broili’s tattoos include the SS logo, a Celtic cross and the number 88, neo-Nazi shorthand for the expression “Heil Hitler.” 

Nourdine, who works night shifts at a factory making industrial machinery to support his family and boxing career, said: “You need to make young people understand these are dangerous messages. You need to remind them these symbols encouraged genocide.”

After the fight, the FPI said it was considering action against Broili for his tattoos.