Medvedev advances to W&S quarterfinals; Osaka knocked out

Daniil Medvedev of Russia returns a shot to Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during the Western & Southern Open on August 19, 2021 in Mason, Ohio. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP)
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Daniil Medvedev of Russia returns a shot to Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during the Western & Southern Open on August 19, 2021 in Mason, Ohio. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP)
Daniil Medvedev is helped to his feet by Grigor Dimitrov after falling in their match during the Western & Southern Open on August 19, 2021 in Mason, Ohio. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP)
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Daniil Medvedev is helped to his feet by Grigor Dimitrov after falling in their match during the Western & Southern Open on August 19, 2021 in Mason, Ohio. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 20 August 2021

Medvedev advances to W&S quarterfinals; Osaka knocked out

Medvedev advances to W&S quarterfinals; Osaka knocked out
  • Naomi Osaka of Japan sprayed balls all over the court in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to No. 76 Jil Teichmann.
  • Medvedev is the first player not named Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray to crack the top two since July 18, 2005

MASON, Ohio: No Novak, no Roger, no Rafa doesn’t mean winning his second Western & Southern Open championship will be easy for top-seeded Daniil Medvedev.
He’s just making it look that way.
Medvedev, the 2019 champion and last year’s runner-up to Novak Djokovic, advanced to the quarterfinals of the US Open tune-up event Thursday with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Grigor Dimitrov.
“It was definitely a great level of tennis,” Medvedev said. “It was pretty hot for both of us. I saw Grigor struggling, so I figured that’s how it is. It’s the same for everybody. Our bodies are getting more used to the heat.”
Second-ranked Naomi Osaka wasn’t as lucky. In the second match of her first tour appearance since late May, Osaka sprayed balls all over the court in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to No. 76 Jil Teichmann.
Osaka repeatedly punched her left thigh with her left wrist and talked loudly to herself, trying to get herself going, but she was impassive as she shook hands at the net with the exuberant Teichmann.
Top-ranked Ash Barty rolled through the first 10 games of her match with defending champion Victoria Azarenka in a 6-0, 6-2 win to reach the women’s quarterfinals.
“I think sometimes the scoreline in tennis can fool you,” Barty said. “Though it seemed like a quite convincing scoreline in the match, each and every game had crucial poits and I was able to win most of those.”
Former tournament women’s champion Karolina Pliskova advanced with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over Jessica Pegula.. Olympic champion and third-seeded Alexander Zverev also moved on, beating Guido Pella 6-2, 6-3.
Medvedev bounced back up after a nasty fall early in the second set and went on to close out the win.
“You can’t see this on video, but my racket got between my legs and hit the back of my calf,” Medvedev said. “I don’t know how that happens. I actually have a bruise on my calf. A bruise is a bruise. It’s nothing serious.”
The second-ranked Russian, the winner last week in Toronto, won when Dimitrov double-faulted on match point. Medvedev has been on the court for only 2 hours, 28 minutes while winning his first two matches in straight sets after a first-round bye.
Medvedev is the first player not named Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray to crack the top two since July 18, 2005. Injuries and other issues kept Djokovic, Federer and Nadal from competing this year.
While his matches have been short, Medvedev feels winning will go a long way.
“The more matches I can win in these two tournaments that are similar to New York, the more confidence you have,” he said. “Confidence is the big key. It’s good coming there knowing that you’re capable of playing good. Now, I know it’s possible. A Grand Slam is a Grand Slam. They’re tough. Opponents want to beat you. You hope you show your best tennis.”
 


5 things we learned from first round of matches at 2021 FIFA Arab Cup

5 things we learned from first round of matches at 2021 FIFA Arab Cup
Updated 45 sec ago

5 things we learned from first round of matches at 2021 FIFA Arab Cup

5 things we learned from first round of matches at 2021 FIFA Arab Cup
  • The 16-nation tournament is a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup with seven of the eight stadiums for Qatar 2022 hosting matches

The first round of eight matches in the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup are now done and dusted. Here are five things we learned from the action in Qatar.

Mabkhout’s blank good for UAE

The United Arab Emirates’ 2-1 win over Syria was not just a positive way to start the tournament but it also makes it two wins out of the last two games for the Whites, who had been struggling in the final round of qualification for the World Cup. To taste victory again can only be good for confidence.

On the road to Qatar, star striker Ali Mabkhout has been the go-to man for the goals, understandably so given the fact that he is just a goal away from joining Lionel Messi as the second-highest active goalscorer in international football. It was welcome however that he did not score.

The goals came from elsewhere. Caio Canedo was impressive up front and scored the first. It was a goal that demonstrated that quality deliveries into the area make things happen. 

A great cross from Bandar Al-Ahbabi was headed home. Mabkhout played a big part in the second with a long and direct run that caused problems and resulted in the ball falling to Ali Saleh who made no mistake. Two good goals and now two good wins.

Egypt labor against Lebanon, but have time to improve

Fans in Egypt were a little disappointed with a 1-0 win over Lebanon as they expected to pick up a comfortable win with a three or four-goal margin. Anybody who has been closely following World Cup qualification in Asia would have warned how hard Lebanon can be to play against as Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz, who remembers the Cedars from his time with Iran, did.

The Pharaohs had two-thirds of the possession but struggled to make things happen. The first game of any tournament is not usually when the big boys hit the heights and it is more about getting points on the board.

Queiroz said before the tournament that it will be a chance for some fringe players to play their way into the squad for the upcoming African Cup of Nations. Mohamed Magdy has certainly helped his chances of making the starting 11. The midfielder didn’t just score the winning penalty but created a number of chances at a time when good ones were at a premium. There’s more to come from Egypt.

Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia look ominous

While Tunisia have a handful of European-based players with them in Qatar, the other two North African giants are using only domestic squads. It didn’t make much of a difference in the opening round as they both won 4-0.

Morocco had perhaps the toughest task in taking on a hard-working Palestine team missing a few players of their own. The Atlas Lions were just a class above, with Abdelilah Hafidi really catching the eye with two goals and a fine all-round display.

Algeria dismissed Sudan by the same scoreline. The likes of Baghdad Bounedjah and Hilal Soudani have been in good form for Al-Sadd of Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s Damac respectively and brought that sharpness to the international stage.

Tunisia were far too strong for Mauritania as the 5-1 thrashing suggests. 

There is still a long way to go but there would be no surprise if one of these three teams lifted the trophy in two weeks’ time.

Encouragement for Iraq as spirit returns

A 98th minute penalty kick to salvage a 1-1 draw with Oman ensured that Tuesday was not a day to remember for Iraq, but it was a solid start under Zeljko Petrovic, the interim boss following the recent resignation of Dick Advocaat.

The Lions were lively in the first half and should have gone in at the break ahead after twice being denied by the woodwork. The second half sending off of Yasser Karim halted their momentum and it was no surprise when Oman, who have been performing well in World Cup qualification and have plenty of confidence, took the lead with 12 minutes remaining. 

Yet Iraq did not give up and were rewarded for their efforts with that last-gasp spot kick that was converted by Hassan Abdulkareem in his first game for the country. Some of that old Iraqi spirit looks to have returned.

Lebanon fight hard, and fall short, once more

The 1-0 defeat to Egypt was a familiar story for fans back in Lebanon. The last three games for the national team have seen them come up against some of the best in Asia and Africa in Iran, UAE and now Egypt. All three ended in one goal defeats. 

Against Iran, they were minutes away from a famous victory but conceded twice in  the final moments. Then there was a dodgy penalty conceded against UAE with five minutes left. A penalty against Egypt with 19 minutes to go settled the first game. Once again, Lebanon were competitive against a bigger team as the result shows even if Egypt felt they should have won by a bigger margin.

Given all that has happened in the country in recent years, that the football team can still perform should be a source of pride. Some fans wanted coach Ivan Hasek to try a different game plan however. He went with five at the back, the team sat too deep and there was too much giving the ball away, especially in the first half.

In a game that did not have the pressure and jeopardy of a final round World Cup qualifier and playing Egypt, a tough opponent but without their European stars, was perhaps a chance to try a more expansive game. It is a big ask.


Haas F1 driver Mick Schumacher discusses ‘challenging’ Jeddah Grand Prix

Haas F1 driver Mick Schumacher discusses ‘challenging’ Jeddah Grand Prix
Updated 56 min 32 sec ago

Haas F1 driver Mick Schumacher discusses ‘challenging’ Jeddah Grand Prix

Haas F1 driver Mick Schumacher discusses ‘challenging’ Jeddah Grand Prix
  • Schumacher was in Riyadh on Friday and Saturday for the Ferrari Motorsport Festival
  • The Jeddah Grand Prix on Dec. 5 is the penultimate race of the 2021 season

RIYADH: Haas Formula One Team driver Mick Schumacher said he is looking forward to racing this weekend by the open sea in what is Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Grand Prix for the championship.

A member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Schumacher was in Riyadh on Friday and Saturday for the Ferrari Motorsport Festival before making his way to Jeddah for the fifth night race of the season.

The Swiss-born German driver — son of seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher — told Arab News: “I’ve only driven (the Jeddah Corniche Circuit) in the simulator, so it will be different in real life. It seems to be a very quick track.” 

Schumacher, who currently drives for the American team Haas, drove two historic Ferrari cars at the festival in Riyadh: the SF70H, and the FXX which his father Michael previously drove. “These cars are very special to drive, it was great being able to connect with them even though it’s not a big track here, I still got to feel it,” he said.

Mick Schumacher driving the Ferrari FXX that his father Michael previously drove. (AN Photo/Zaid Khashogji)

The younger Schumacher began his career in karting in 2008 and progressed to the German ADAC Formula Four in 2015. After winning the 2018 FIA Formula Three European Championship, he moved up to Formula Two in 2019 and won the championship the following year. Along with Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, Schumacher replaced Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean on Haas’ roster this season.

The Jeddah Grand Prix on Dec. 5 is the penultimate race of the 2021 season, with fans eagerly anticipating the culmination of an epic competition to discover who will take the crown: seven-time world champion Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton or up-and-coming Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen.

“I think the average speed (of the Jeddah track) is more than 250 kilometers per hour, so it will be challenging for sure,” Schumacher said. “Hopefully with some ocean breeze, we’ll be able to have a nice race.”

Behind the scenes with Mick Schumacher and Arab News. (AN Photo/Abdulaziz Khashoggi)

Located on the corniche along the Red Sea, the Formula One stc Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is 6,175 km long, making it the second-longest circuit on the F1 calendar after Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, and the longest and fastest street track in Formula One, with average speeds of 252 kilometers per hour and top speeds of up to 322 kilometers per hour between Turns 25 and 27. 

Several Formula One teams have already arrived to a colorful welcome at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, with more due to arrive in the coming days as the countdown to the big race continues.

International stars Justin Bieber and Jason Derulo will headline a pair of after-race concerts over the race weekend, joined by Tiesto, ASAP Rocky and David Guetta.

The Formula One village will offer visitors outdoor recreational activities on its new walkways and cycling paths and children’s playgrounds.

“Jeddah is my hometown and I cannot wait to see the Formula One cars drive on the corniche by the Red Sea, where I used to drive before construction began,” one fan told Arab News. “That is something I’ve been waiting my whole life to see.”


Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud appointed Vice President of the Global Esports Federation

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud appointed Vice President of the Global Esports Federation
Updated 11 min 41 sec ago

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud appointed Vice President of the Global Esports Federation

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud appointed Vice President of the Global Esports Federation
  • The President of the Saudi Esports Federation has overseen the dramatic rise in the popularity of gaming and esports participation across the region in recent years

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud, President of the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF), has been appointed Vice President of the Global Esports Federation from Dec. 1, 2021.

Prince Faisal has overseen a dramatic rise in the popularity of gaming and participation in the esports industry both in the Kingdom and regionally in recent years.

“I would like to thank the Executive Committee for the trust they have put in me as Vice President of the Global Esports Federation and I am committed to exceeding all expectations set by the global esports community,” said Prince Faisal.

“I believe that this will enable us all to broaden our horizons and to go above and beyond to serve the global world of esports,” he said. “To me, nurturing the industry has been and will always be a mission, and serving the community is a passion. This only makes me more compelled to do so with great partners and colleagues.”

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Prince Faisal spoke about his new role at the Global Esports Federation, his continuing work with SEF and the future of esports in the Kingdom and the region.

Arab News: Many congratulations on your new role. Please tell us what you will be looking to achieve as the Vice President of the Global Esports Federation?

Prince Faisal: From the start, with both the Saudi federation and the Arab federation our goal was to grow the esports industry both regionally and globally. My new role at GEF is a continuation of that ambition.

We have always said that gaming and esports are the ultimate social activities. They are not bound by space or borders. At GEF, we truly embody this belief through our mantra of #worldconnected. Our goal is to cultivate competition along with developing communities and the connection between sport, esports and technology.

Arab News: As President of the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF) you have been promoting esports and gaming in the Kingdom for several years. What future plans are there that we can look forward to?

Prince Faisal: There are many exciting developments coming in the next year and the years following that. Over the past years we’ve learned that the potential for esports is much higher that we even could have imagined. As a result, we have shifted to a more holistic approach on a national level. I would ask you and the readers to stay tuned. We are working on locally and globally impactful initiatives in coordination with many governments and private sector entities over the years to come.

Arab News: Earlier this year, the Saudi Esports Federation organized Gamers Without Borders, the world’s biggest esports charity gaming, which looked to combat coronavirus worldwide by raising $10 million. Will this kind of event continue to be hosted by Saudi Arabia?

Prince Faisal: Yes, absolutely. At the federation our focus is to dedicate esports and gaming for the betterment of humanity. From humanitarian aid to education and more, we believe gaming and esports can be a force for good. Our ambition is to bring back GWB but with a new cause every year. We hope that the world will overcome the pandemic and we will be able to focus on betterment and development rather than fighting a global crisis.

Arab News: In October, Saudi Arabia took part in an esports match against Japan at the Tokyo Game Show, and there are plans for return match in the Kingdom next year. Are such high profile matches against other nations something that we will see more of in the coming years?

Prince Faisal: We have a long-term partnership with the Japan Esports Federation for the development of the esports community in both countries. This partnership comes as part of our countries’ shared Vision 2030. Our goal is to build these bilateral and multilateral relationships globally to truly bring communities together and to learn from each other and develop together.

Arab News: Mosaad Al-Dossary won the FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final 2018 in London and FIFA in particular is a huge game in esports competitions. What do you think of the rising popularity of gaming among Saudis and the fact that they are beating the world’s best in games like FIFA and others?

Prince Faisal: We have some of the most talented indviduals and organizations. A few examples that make me proud include Falcon Esports, a Saudi-based team that just won the European Fortnite Grand Royale championship. Their prize was more than $600,000. That is a success not just on the individual level but also shows how we are now exporting globally leading esports organizations.

In the 2021 EA FIFA West Asia playoffs, 6 of the top 8 players were from Saudi. A few days ago on the FGS 22 Middle East qualifier 13 of the top 16 players were Saudi. Additionally, as early as 2017 Sary Al-Jefri took home the Tekken World Championship.

This goes to show that Saudi is home to some of the best talents globally. It is these talents that will inspire others and become role models for successful and responsible professionalism. And when we combine these talented players and organizations with the support we offer as a country, it’s easy to see why we are quickly growing to become one of the leaders of the industry globally.

Arab News: Will there be more international competitions — FIFA eWorld Cup — being held in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in the coming years?

Prince Faisal: Our goal is to become a global hub. Part of that is further developing our relationships with publishers and showing how we excel in organizing tournaments and growing talents within esports. GWB is a great example of this. After the massive success in the first year, PUBG Mobile approached us to co-organize their first global charitable invitational tournament.

That shows how much trust they now have in SEF. As a result of that many more conversations have now sparked.


UK, Saudi firefighters join forces for Jeddah F1 Grand Prix

UK, Saudi firefighters join forces for Jeddah F1 Grand Prix
Updated 02 December 2021

UK, Saudi firefighters join forces for Jeddah F1 Grand Prix

UK, Saudi firefighters join forces for Jeddah F1 Grand Prix

JEDDAH: British and Saudi firefighters have joined forces for the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah.

Professional crews from the UK have been training with their Saudi counterparts as fire marshals for the upcoming race in the Red Sea coast city.

Nine members of Britam Arabia, a Saudi and British joint venture that provides private fire and rescue services at 11 sites throughout the Kingdom, have been undergoing specialist training in support of the Saudi Civil Defense at the prestigious sporting event.

The Britam Arabia volunteers, who protect some of Saudi Arabia’s most vital infrastructure, are relishing the chance to hone their skills and experience at the big race both for the qualifying stages and the main event.

British fire chief, Iqbal Ali, originally from the UK but now working for Britam Arabia in Makkah and living in Jeddah, praised the quality of training they had received.

He said: “Fire safety at Formula 1 events requires a special skill set and the training our firefighters are receiving from the race organizers is first class.

“We are delighted to support this exciting event and are relishing the chance to be part of the fire safety support team track side. We are stood by to provide any assistance in any way we can whenever we are called upon,” he added.

Britam Arabia provides a full range of professional firefighting services in the Kingdom, from fire safety consultancy to station operations, in support of the Vision 2030 reform plan. 


Chelsea beats Watford 2-1 to stay top of Premier League

Chelsea beats Watford 2-1 to stay top of Premier League
Updated 02 December 2021

Chelsea beats Watford 2-1 to stay top of Premier League

Chelsea beats Watford 2-1 to stay top of Premier League
  • Chelsea remained a point ahead of Manchester City and two clear of Liverpool on a night when all three teams won

WATFORD: Chelsea stayed top of the Premier League with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Watford on Wednesday in a match that was halted for 32 minutes in the first half after a spectator suffered cardiac arrest.
Substitute Hakim Ziyech grabbed the winner for the leaders in the 72nd minute, converting a cross from Mason Mount — the England midfielder who had put Chelsea in front in the 29th.
By then, the teams had been taken off by the referee because of the medical emergency in the stands that happened after about 13 minutes. The incident happened on the side of the field where Chelsea left back Marcos Alonso was stationed and he appeared to alert the referee and the medical staff on the touchline.
The spectator was stabilized and taken away on a stretcher to applause from the crowd.
Emmanuel Dennis equalized for Watford in the 43rd after Ruben Loftus-Cheek — one of a number of fringe players handed a start by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel because of injuries — was dispossessed in the center circle by Moussa Sissoko, who drove forward and set up his teammate to score.
Chelsea remained a point ahead of Manchester City and two clear of Liverpool on a night when all three teams won.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said his weakened team was “lucky” to come away with all three points
“That’s not us. We were absolutely not ready today for this match," said Tuchel, who was without Reece James, N'Golo Kante, Ben Chilwell, Mateo Kovacic because of injury while Timo Werner and Jorginho started on the bench because they needed a rest.
“I missed maybe to find the right approach to make my team ready. We had the break due to very sad circumstances – hopefully the person is better — but even this break after the first (13) minutes did not change our approach. We did not cope with the pressure, with the first ball, second ball.”
Tuchel said all his team did was “hang in there.”
“I see this totally as an exception from the rule," he said. “I will not insist too long on this match because it’s so unusual for us to play like this.”
Tuchel said he was concerned about an injury sustained by defender Trevoh Chalobah in the second half.
“The doctor was on the pitch 20 times today it felt like,” he said. “It’s a big loss, Trev. I’m a bit worried.”