Unseeded Tamara Zidansek reaches semifinal at French Open

Unseeded Tamara Zidansek reaches semifinal at French Open
Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek after winning her quarterfinal match against Spain’s Paula Badosa. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 June 2021

Unseeded Tamara Zidansek reaches semifinal at French Open

Unseeded Tamara Zidansek reaches semifinal at French Open
  • The French Open is the only remaining Grand Slam where tiebreakers are not played in the last set

PARIS: Before the French Open, Tamara Zidansek had never advanced past the second round at any Grand Slam.

The former snowboarder has now become the first woman from Slovenia to reach the semifinals at a major tournament.

Spurred on by the vocal support of her coaching team on Court Philippe Chatrier, the 85th-ranked Zidansek defeated Spanish rival Paula Badosa 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 Tuesday at the clay court tournament.

The French Open is the only remaining Grand Slam where tiebreakers are not played in the last set. Wimbledon recently installed tiebreakers at 12-12 in the final set.

After splitting the first two sets, Badosa violently threw her racket in anger at the changeover after Zidansek held for a 6-5 lead in the third. She regained her composure but Zidansek then saved three break points to take a 7-6 lead and converted her second match point with a big forehand in the next game.

Zidansek, a three-time national junior snowboarding champion in Slovenia, will face either Elena Rybakina or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in the final at Roland Garros.

In perfect weather conditions, both players pulled off some spectacular winners but also hit a lot of unforced errors.

Badosa applied pressure from the start with a flurry deep groundstrokes from the baseline. The strategy worked as Zidansek dropped her first service game and then trailed 3-0. But an error-strewn game from Badosa gave her rival a break and a boost.

Zidansek started to return better and went for her shots, linking attacks with bold moves at the net to even the score at 3-3. Badosa saved a set point in the 12th game with a forehand attack but could not fend off the second as her poor drop shot ended up in the net.

Badosa trailed 4-2 in the second set after a series of unforced errors but Zidansek could not build on the momentum and struggled with her serve, too.

The Spaniard rallied, made the decisive break in the ninth game at love and sealed the set with a big forehand.

The 23-year-old Zidansek opened this year’s tournament by upsetting seventh-seeded Bianca Andreescu in the first round for her first career win over a top-10 player. In that match, she was two points from defeat in both the second and third sets.

Zidansek reached a career-high ranking of No. 56 in June 2019.


Wrestling success for Egypt on mixed morning for Arab athletes at Tokyo 2020

Wrestling success for Egypt on mixed morning for Arab athletes at Tokyo 2020
Updated 55 sec ago

Wrestling success for Egypt on mixed morning for Arab athletes at Tokyo 2020

Wrestling success for Egypt on mixed morning for Arab athletes at Tokyo 2020
  •  Mohamed Metwally and Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed reach semifinals of 87 kg and 67 kg categories

TOKYO: Egyptian athletes had a good day on the wrestling mat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Tuesday morning with two wrestlers reaching the semifinals.

Mohamed Metwally beat Cuba’s Daniel Hechavarria 4-0 in the quarterfinals of the Greco-Roman 87 kg competition after a crushing 9-1 win against Kiryl Maskevich of Belarussia in the previous round.

Metwally’s compatriot Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed had a tougher time in his 67 kg matches, edging Korea’s Hansu Ryu in his first bout, and getting an equally slim VPO1 victory over Karen Aslanyan of Armenia in their quarterfinal bout.

Both will take to the mat later in the day in their bid to reach the finals of their respective comeptions.

In other bouts, Tunisia’s Lamjed Maafi lost 11-1 to Azerbaijan’s Rafig Huseynov in the 77 kg Repechage while Korea’s Ryu had beaten Algeria’s Abdelmalek Merabet 8-0 in a 67 kg qualification match before losing to Metwally.

Aker Al-Obaidi of the Refugee Team beat Tunisia’s Souleymen Nasr 8-0 in the 67 kg category but was then defeated 10-0 by Georgia’s Ramaz Zoidze in the quarterfinals.

Algerian wrestler Bachir Sid Azara wiped out China’s Fei Peng 11-1 to reach the 87 kg quarterfinals, but then lost narrowly to Ukraine’s Zhan Beleniuk.

In the women’s freestyle quarterfinals, Sweden’s Henna Johansson overcame Tunisia’s Marwa Amri 5-1.

On the track, Lebanon’s Noureddine Hadid finished last in the 200-meter heats with a time of 21.12 and didn’t advance.


Euro hero Chiellini signs two-year deal with Juventus

Euro hero Chiellini signs two-year deal with Juventus
Updated 02 August 2021

Euro hero Chiellini signs two-year deal with Juventus

Euro hero Chiellini signs two-year deal with Juventus
  • Chiellini, 36, was out of contract after his previous deal with Juve expired at the end of June
  • He put pen to paper on a contract which runs until 2023

ROME: Giorgio Chiellini has signed a new two-year contract with Juventus, the Serie A club announced on Monday, a few weeks after the Italy captain led his country to triumph at Euro 2020.
Chiellini, 36, was out of contract after his previous deal with Juve expired at the end of June, while Italy were still on their charge to European Championship victory.
He put pen to paper on a contract which runs until 2023, contrary to initial reports in Italy which said he was prepared to agree to a deal until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which takes place in November and December next year.
“Giorgio Chiellini embodies everything that Juventus stands for, and it is through his commitment and excellent displays over the course of last 16 years that has earned him a contract renewal,” Juve said.
“There is an overlap in Giorgio’s DNA and that of Juve’s. He forms a big part of Juve’s history, yet also the present and the future,” they added.
The announcement of his new contract was expected, with chairman Andrea Agnelli saying last week that the club were waiting for the center-back to return from his post-Euro holidays before agreeing a new deal.
Chiellini began his long Juventus career in 2005 and was a pillar of the team which won nine successive Serie A titles before Inter Milan broke their rivals’ run of domestic dominance last season.
He has also contested two Champions League finals and won five Italian Cups with Juventus.
Chiellini and his Juve teammate Leonardo Bonucci were central to Italy’s success at this summer’s Euro, providing the solid basis from which Roberto Mancini’s vibrant team flourished.
The Azzurri won the tournament in impressive style, cruising through their group and seeing off the likes of Belgium and Spain in the knockout stages before beating England on penalties in the final at Wembley.
He has played 112 times for his country, finishing runner-up at Euro 2012.


Belarusian athlete to fly to Warsaw from Tokyo on Wednesday

Belarusian athlete to fly to Warsaw from Tokyo on Wednesday
Updated 02 August 2021

Belarusian athlete to fly to Warsaw from Tokyo on Wednesday

Belarusian athlete to fly to Warsaw from Tokyo on Wednesday
  • Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya will fly from Tokyo on a direct flight to Warsaw

WARSAW: Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya will fly to Warsaw on Wednesday, the chairman of the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation said on Monday.
Tsimanouskaya who took refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo a day after refusing her team’s orders to board a flight home from the Olympic Games.
“She will fly from Tokyo, a direct flight to Warsaw on August 4, in two days’ time,” Aleksandr Opeykin told Reuters.
“She has accepted the offer issued by the Polish Foreign Ministry to request international help, she has done that and she has received a Polish visa today. We, at the Foundation, helped her to get the ticket to Warsaw,” he added.


‘Best thing ever’: Gianmarco Tamberi basks in shared glory with friend Mutaz Barshim

Gianmarco Tamberi has expressed his joy at sharing an Olympic high jump gold medal with his friend from Qatar Mutaz Essa Barshim. (AFP)
Gianmarco Tamberi has expressed his joy at sharing an Olympic high jump gold medal with his friend from Qatar Mutaz Essa Barshim. (AFP)
Updated 02 August 2021

‘Best thing ever’: Gianmarco Tamberi basks in shared glory with friend Mutaz Barshim

Gianmarco Tamberi has expressed his joy at sharing an Olympic high jump gold medal with his friend from Qatar Mutaz Essa Barshim. (AFP)
  • The high jump rivals and friends decided to share Olympic gold rather than have a deciding jump-off

TOKYO: Gianmarco Tamberi has expressed his joy at sharing an Olympic high jump gold medal with his friend Mutaz Essa Barshim, calling it the “best thing ever.”

The Qatari and Italian athletes captured the hearts of sports fans around the world when, in an unprecedented show of sporting solidarity, they decided to share the gold medal in the men’s high jump rather than participate in a deciding “jump-off” against each other.

“Mutaz is my big friend so we enjoyed the evening yesterday and we decided to share the gold medal,” Tamberi told Arab News Japan as he prepared to leave the Olympic Village in Tokyo.

“It’s the best thing ever and that’s the Olympic spirit,” he added. “It was amazing.”

Tamberi had perviously revealed that it was Barshim who, more than anyone else, helped him get over the severe disappointment of missing out on the high jump competition at Rio 2016 due to a injury.

On Sunday, the friends and rivals both cleared 2.37 meters, but then failed with three attempts each at 2.39 meters.

As a Tokyo 2020 official explained to Tamberi and Barshim that a jump-off could be introduced to separate them, the Qatari athlete uttered the words that have now gone down in Olympic history: “Can we have two golds?”

As the official confirmed they could, the duo hugged and broke into tearful celebrations, finally banishing years of injuries and close calls.

Having won bronze in London in 2012 and silver in Rio five years ago, the 30-year-old Barshim now has his gold. Barshim missed a large part of the 2018 season with an ankle injury, but returned to win gold at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.

“This is a dream I don't want to wake up from,” Barshim said on Sunday. “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,” he added.


Glory for Morocco’s Soufiane El-Bakkali as he wins gold in Men’s 3000m Steeplechase at Tokyo 2020

Soufiane El Bakkali, of Morocco celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)
Soufiane El Bakkali, of Morocco celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)
Updated 02 August 2021

Glory for Morocco’s Soufiane El-Bakkali as he wins gold in Men’s 3000m Steeplechase at Tokyo 2020

Soufiane El Bakkali, of Morocco celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)
  • The 25-year-old left a strong field behind him as pre-race talk focused on battle between Kenyans and Ethiopians

A glorious run by Moroccan runner Soufiane El-Bakkali saw him win the gold medal in the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Monday.

The 25-year-old, who finished fourth in this event at Rio 2016, won with a time of 8:08:90, ahead of Lamecha Grima of Ethiopia in second and Benjamin Kigen in third.

Before the final, all the talk had focused on the fact that no Ethiopian had ever won this event at the Olympics, while the Kenyans had won every 3000m Steeplechase gold medal since Los Angeles 1984.

But the Moroccan proved to be the ace in the pack, in the end comfortably stretching away from his opponents on the last lap and collapsing into tears at the finish line.

El-Bakkali had won the 3000m Steeplechase Heat 3 on Friday with a time of 8:19:00, ahead of Topi Raitanen of Finland and Alexis Phelut of France, who both qualified to the final.

Previously, he had won bronze in this event at the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Qatar and silver two years earlier in London.

The Moroccan will now turn his attentions to the Men’s 1500m Round 1 — Heat 3 (3:27 a.m. KSA).