No. 1 Barty to face Pliskova in 1st Wimbledon final for both

Australia's Ashleigh Barty (left frame) and Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova celebrate after defeating their respective opponents in the Wimbledon semi-finals in London on July 8, 2021. (AP & AFP photos)
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Australia's Ashleigh Barty (left frame) and Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova celebrate after defeating their respective opponents in the Wimbledon semi-finals in London on July 8, 2021. (AP & AFP photos)
Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova returns against Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka during their 2021 Wimbledon Championships semi-final match in London on July 8, 2021. (AFP)
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Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova returns against Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka during their 2021 Wimbledon Championships semi-final match in London on July 8, 2021. (AFP)
Australia's Ashleigh Barty returns against Germany's Angelique Kerber during their 2021 Wimbledon Championships semi-final match in London on July 8, 2021. (AFP / POOL)
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Australia's Ashleigh Barty returns against Germany's Angelique Kerber during their 2021 Wimbledon Championships semi-final match in London on July 8, 2021. (AFP / POOL)
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Updated 09 July 2021

No. 1 Barty to face Pliskova in 1st Wimbledon final for both

No. 1 Barty to face Pliskova in 1st Wimbledon final for both
  • Barty stands one win from a second Grand Slam title after beating 2018 champion Kerber 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Thursday
  • Pliskova emerged from a power-hitting and serving display to come back to defeat No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 5-7, 6-4, 6-4

WIMBLEDON, England: It was difficult for Ash Barty to imagine that a trip to her first Wimbledon final was just around the corner when she stopped playing at last month’s French Open with a hip injury.
Or even when she was two points from being pushed to a third set by Angelique Kerber in their semifinal at the All England Club.
Barty does not let obstacles trouble her for too long. She figures out a way and pushes forward. That’s why she’s ranked No. 1 and it’s why she stands one win from a second Grand Slam title after beating 2018 champion Kerber 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Thursday.
“I’ve had ups and downs and everything in between and I wouldn’t change one day or one moment or one, kind of, road that we’ve taken in my path and my journey,” said Barty, who was the 2011 junior champion at the All England Club and stepped away from tennis for almost two years starting in 2014 because of burnout. “It’s been unique. It’s been incredible. It’s been tough. There have been so many things that led to this point.”
Her opponent in Saturday’s final will be No. 8 seed Karolina Pliskova, who emerged from a power-hitting and serving display to come back to defeat No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
“Super proud about the way how I handled the situation out there,” Pliskova said.




Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova returns against Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka during their 2021 Wimbledon Championships semi-final match in London on July 8, 2021. (AFP)

Pliskova produced 14 aces, Sabalenka 18, and the combined total was the most in a women’s match at Wimbledon since they started keeping such stats in 1977. The difference in this match, ultimately: Pliskova was broken just once, Sabalenka twice.
After going 0 for 8 on break points in the first set, the first set she dropped in six matches, Pliskova “got a bit frustrated,” she acknowledged afterward.
But she went 1 for 1 in that category in each of the last two sets.
“She just returned like crazy — like, really good — and I couldn’t do anything,” said Sabalenka, the only top-20 seed in the draw without a major quarterfinal appearance until now.
Neither Pliskova — whose coach, Sascha Bajin, used to work with Naomi Osaka and was Serena Williams’ hitting partner — nor Barty had ever been past the fourth round at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.
“Coming into this tournament, the dream was to make the second week. ... Sascha was super confident in me,” said Pliskova, a 29-year-old from the Czech Republic who was the runner-up at the 2016 US Open to Kerber and used to be ranked No. 1. “He said, ‘I told you, you were going to make the final.’”
The 25-year-old Barty won the 2019 French Open and has been atop the WTA rankings for 1 1/2 years.
She is the first woman from Australia to reach the title match at Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong won the trophy 1980; Barty has been wearing an outfit intended as a tribute to Goolagong this fortnight.
“Now to kind of give myself a chance to create some history, almost in a way that’s a tribute to her, is really exciting,” Barty said.




Australia's Ashleigh Barty returns against Germany's Angelique Kerber during their 2021 Wimbledon Championships semi-final match in London on July 8, 2021. (AFP / POOL)

She arrived in England not having competed since June 3, when she withdrew during her second-round match in Paris, her left hip in too much pain to continue.
“To be honest, it was going to be touch and go. Everything had to be spot on to give myself a chance to play pain-free and to play knowing that I could trust my body,” Barty said. “If you told me a month ago we’d be sitting in this position, I really wouldn’t have thought that we would even get close.”
On Thursday, she faced a big test in the second set, which Kerber was two points from owning when Barty served at deuce while trailing 5-2. The full-capacity crowd was backing the comeback effort for the 33-year-old German, too, with shouts of “Come on, Angie!” and “Go on, Kerber!”
But Barty steeled herself to hold there, then broke to get within 5-4 with a cross-court forehand passing winner.
That was part of a 38-16 advantage in total winners for Barty, responsible more than anything else for her triumph. And this was remarkable: She compiled that many point-ending shots while making only 16 unforced errors.
“A great level, the best level I’ve played in quite some time,” Barty said. “Angie is an incredible competitor. She brought out the best in me today.”
It was a rather entertaining and, from point to point, rather even contest, two talented baseliners willing to try a volley, drop shot or lob when required. They were each other’s equal for long exchanges — in all, 22 points lasted at least nine strokes, with Kerber winning a dozen.
Their approaches are different, though. Kerber is a left-hander who hits flat groundstrokes and is just fine with handling foes’ low shots, often dropping a knee onto the turf to get leverage.
Barty is a righty who relies on heavy topspin for a forehand packed with power, and her slice backhand can produce tricky bounces on the grass.
She ended up with an 8-0 edge in aces and 18-9 in forehand winners.
“I was trying to playing my game,” Kerber said. “But she had always a good answer.”


UEFA targets FA for discipline over fan chaos at Euro final

UEFA targets FA for discipline over fan chaos at Euro final
Updated 03 August 2021

UEFA targets FA for discipline over fan chaos at Euro final

UEFA targets FA for discipline over fan chaos at Euro final
  • Fans without tickets forced their way into the stadium and there were ugly scenes in the stands
  • European soccer's governing body added that more information "will be made available in due course”

NYON, Switzerland: UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the English Football Association on Tuesday over the behavior of some England fans at the European Championship final at Wembley Stadium.
Fans without tickets forced their way into the stadium and there were ugly scenes in the stands during the July 11 game, which Italy won 3-2 on penalties.
“Following an investigation conducted by a UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspector into the events involving supporters which occurred inside and around the stadium during the UEFA Euro 2020 final match between the national teams of Italy and England played on 11 July at Wembley Stadium, London, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the English Football Association for a potential violation of Article 16(2)(h) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations for a lack of order or discipline by its supporters,” UEFA said.
European soccer’s governing body added that more information “will be made available in due course.”
Fans without tickets broke through security barriers and turnstiles to get in to see England’s first major tournament final in 55 years. England defender Harry Maguire said last month that his father sustained rib injuries during “a stampede” of fans.
The official attendance was around 67,000 of the stadium’s 90,000 capacity, with many seats intended to be left empty to distance fans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FA itself had described the scenes as ” disgraceful ” and earlier commissioned an independent review.
“We are determined to fully understand what happened outside and then inside Wembley Stadium at the UEFA Euro 2020 final on Sunday 11 July,” the FA said last month.
The FA had vowed to work with law enforcement “to identify those responsible and hold them to account.”


Right decision to hold Tokyo 2020, says head of Jordan Olympic Committee

Taekwondo silver Medallist Saleh Elsharabaty of Jordan wearing a kaffiyeh celebrates after his bout. (Reuters)
Taekwondo silver Medallist Saleh Elsharabaty of Jordan wearing a kaffiyeh celebrates after his bout. (Reuters)
Updated 03 August 2021

Right decision to hold Tokyo 2020, says head of Jordan Olympic Committee

Taekwondo silver Medallist Saleh Elsharabaty of Jordan wearing a kaffiyeh celebrates after his bout. (Reuters)
  • Country participating with delegation of 14 athletes

TOKYO: Holding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was the right decision, according to the secretary-general of the Jordan Olympic Committee.

Nasser Al-Majali told Arab News Japan that it was the “correct decision” to go ahead with the event despite calls to cancel it due to the pandemic.

“The dreams of our players would not have been realized without holding the Olympics,” he said. “Many Arab and non-Arab players had the opportunity to realize their dreams.”

Al-Majali singled out Jordan’s silver Taekwondo medal from Saleh Elsharabaty and Qatar’s high jump gold from Mutaz Barshim as highlights.

When asked about his impression of the general atmosphere in Tokyo, especially with concerns over the spread of COVID-19, Al-Majali thanked the Japanese for their hospitality.

“They try as much as possible to be hospitable, and they really are. The Japanese are apologizing to us because they can't do more due to the coronavirus situation. Even outside the Olympic Village they are very civil, and that's their nature.”

Al-Majali said it was a shame that the games had to be held with so many restrictions, and that the Jordanian Olympic delegation in Japan had been exercising caution throughout.

“We spend most of the time in the village and between the tournament hotels, in compliance with the laws in force, to reduce the possibility of anyone being infected inside or outside the Olympic Village. But we hoped that we would have the opportunity to learn about Japanese culture.”

He extended his gratitude to the city of Noshiro, in Akita Prefecture, which hosted the Jordanian Olympic delegation in a pre-game camp.

“I would like to extend special thanks to the city of Noshiro. We receive messages from the people of Noshiro all the time asking us to send them Jordanian flags signed by the athletes. We thank them and hope that we will have the opportunity to visit them with our athletes in the future.”

Jordan is participating with an Olympic delegation of 14 athletes and Al-Majali said the standard had been good in general.

The most important performance was that of Elsharabaty, whose silver was the second Olympic medal in Jordan’s history, after the gold won by Ahmad Abu Ghosh, also in Taekwondo, at the 2016 Rio Olympics.


Egyptian Equestrian star Nayel Nassar qualifies for Tokyo 2020 Jumping Individual Final after near-faultless ride

Egypt's Nayel Nassar rides Igor van de Wittemoere in the equestrian's jumping individual qualifying during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Equestrian Park in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. (AFP)
Egypt's Nayel Nassar rides Igor van de Wittemoere in the equestrian's jumping individual qualifying during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Equestrian Park in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2021

Egyptian Equestrian star Nayel Nassar qualifies for Tokyo 2020 Jumping Individual Final after near-faultless ride

Egypt's Nayel Nassar rides Igor van de Wittemoere in the equestrian's jumping individual qualifying during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Equestrian Park in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. (AFP)
  • He will be joined in the 30-athlete field by compatriot Mood Zeyada

DUBAI: After a near-faultless ride at Tokyo’s Equestrian Park, Egypt’s Nayel Nassar qualified for the Olympic Jumping Individual Final taking place on Wednesday where he will be joined by compatriot Mouda Zeyada in the quest for gold.

The 30-year-old Nassar, riding the horse Igor van de Wittemoere, and 26-year-old Zeyada, on Galanthos Shk, will be among 30 top performers from the 73 that took part in the Qualifier on Tuesday afternoon.

Their success came on a day that also saw Egypt’s handball team reach the Tokyo 2020 semifinals after beating Germany 31-26.

Nassar in particular has been center of attention since the weekend after Bill Gates, father of his wife Jennifer Katharine Gates, sent him a message of good luck on social media that went viral.

“I support many athletes in the Tokyo Olympics at the moment, but there is no athlete I support more than my son-in-law Nayel Nassar. Good luck Nayel,” Gates, the founder of Microsoft, posted on his official Instagram account.

Nassar proposed to the daughter of the billionaire founder of Microsoft at the start of last year, the two Stanford graduates having been in a relationship for four years.

As well as taking part in equestrian competitions that have helped him amass a reported net worth of $75 million, the Chicago-born Egyptian also owns Nassar Stables, established in 2014 and based in the city of Encinitas in California.


Egypt stun Germany to reach men’s handball semifinals at Tokyo 2020

After the final whistle, there were joyous celebrations from the Egyptian team on the court along with the millions of fans who watched from home or followed on social media. (AFP)
After the final whistle, there were joyous celebrations from the Egyptian team on the court along with the millions of fans who watched from home or followed on social media. (AFP)
Updated 03 August 2021

Egypt stun Germany to reach men’s handball semifinals at Tokyo 2020

After the final whistle, there were joyous celebrations from the Egyptian team on the court along with the millions of fans who watched from home or followed on social media. (AFP)
  • The North African nation will meet France in the semi-finals on Thursday as its improbable run for an Olympic medal continues
  • Ahmed El-Ahmar starred for Egypt during its 31-26 win over Germany

DUBAI: Egypt are just one win away from securing their first-ever Olympic medal in the men’s handball event while a possible rematch against Denmark looms.

The North African nation stormed into the semifinals at the 2020 Tokyo Games with a 31-26 victory over Germany on Tuesday afternoon at the Yoyogi National Stadium.

Egypt’s win sets up a final-four meeting against France on Thursday while Spain takes on the Danes in the other semi-final.

The Egyptian players got off to a fast start against Germany and opened a 6-1 lead inside the first 10 minutes. The Germans would eventually catch up but Egypt went into the intermission leading 16-12.

Egypt maintained their momentum after the break as Ahmed El-Ahmar carried on the strong form he has shown throughout the tournament.

After the final whistle, there were joyous celebrations from the Egyptian team on the court along with the millions of fans who watched from home or followed on social media.

The Pharaohs defeated Bahrain 30-20 in their final preliminary match on Sunday to take second in Group B and progress to the quarterfinals.

With a 4-1 record, Egypt finished behind group winners Denmark — the only team to beat Egypt in group play — to book their quarterfinal place against Germany. If both Egypt and Denmark win their next matches, they will meet again in the final as the Egyptians could take aim at their first-ever handball medal at the Olympics.

Egypt opened their Olympic handball campaign with a 37-31 win over Portugal on July 24, but two days later, they lost the second fixture to Denmark, 32-27. The Egyptian team rallied by beating hosts Japan (33-29), Sweden (27-22), and then fellow Arab competitors Bahrain ​​(30-20).


Italy, Spain to host football tournament in support of Saudi Quality of Life project

Italy, Spain to host football tournament in support of Saudi Quality of Life project
Updated 03 August 2021

Italy, Spain to host football tournament in support of Saudi Quality of Life project

Italy, Spain to host football tournament in support of Saudi Quality of Life project
  • Proceeds from tournament to be donated to center specialized in cardiology
  • Mahd Academy to sponsor event as part of efforts to support medical, sports research centers

ROME: Four of the best football teams in Italy and Spain will play a tournament in Florence and Seville to support medical and sports research centers as part of the Quality of Life project, one of the programs of the Saudi Vision 2030.

On Aug. 7, the football teams AS Roma, ACF Fiorentina, Espanyol de Barcelona and Real Betis will kick off the first edition of the Unbeatables Cup, organized by the Italian association Unbeatables with the sponsorship of the Mahd Academy, the Saudi government body for supporting the development of sports disciplines in Saudi Arabia.

The cup will be played in two matches: Fiorentina-Espanyol at 7:00 p.m. in Florence and Betis-Roma at 10:00 p.m. in Seville.

All the proceeds of the tournament will be donated to a research center specialized in cardiology at the service of the world’s athletes.

Unbeatables was established in 2016 by ex-athletes affected by inherited cardiac arrhythmias.

In the aftermath of what happened to footballer Christian Eriksen, who collapsed suddenly after suffering cardiac arrest during Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener against Finland, as well as to many other footballers around the world, it was clear that the matter deserved widespread attention.

“Congenital cardiomyopathies are a silent killer. They can remain asymptomatic for years and, when not diagnosed, appear suddenly, causing cardiac death. Young athletes often pay the highest price because intense physical activity may be an important trigger. Promptly identifying the people most at risk of sudden death through screening activities is essential to implement prevention strategies and appropriate therapies. Only in this way can we be able to save more lives, on and off the playing field,” said Unbeatables Chairman Simone Ambrosi.

The Mahd Academy’s sponsorship of the Unbeatables Cup is part of the academy’s efforts to support medical and sports research centers around the world.

Established in July 2020, the academy aims to provide research related to the sports community as well as to discover and develop talent to build the next generation of athletes in Saudi Arabia, as part of the Quality of Life project.

Abdullah bin Faisal bin Hammad, president of Mahd Academy, expressed his appreciation for the royal approval to sponsor this tournament.

He extended his sincere thanks to HRH Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Saud, minister of sports, for his keenness to participate in such initiatives that promote sports around the world.

“The Mahd Academy will continue to support such initiatives,” he said in a statement, reaffirming the academy’s primary goals of achieving positive social impact through sports and supporting athletic talent in Saudi Arabia.