Karatsev ends Murray’s run, claims Sydney title; Badosa wins

Karatsev ends Murray’s run, claims Sydney title; Badosa wins
Aslan Karatsev of Russia and Andy Murray of Britain pose for photographs following the men’s final at the Sydney Tennis Classic in Sydney on Saturday. (AP)
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Updated 15 January 2022

Karatsev ends Murray’s run, claims Sydney title; Badosa wins

Karatsev ends Murray’s run, claims Sydney title; Badosa wins
  • The 34-year-old Murray started the week with his first win on Australian soil in more than 1,000 days
  • Karatsev, who reached the Australian Open semifinals last year after going through qualifying for the season-opening major, was just too good

SYDNEY: Andy Murray’s impressive run ended one win short of a 47th career title when he lost the Sydney Tennis Classic final 6-3, 6-3 to top-seeded Aslan Karatsev on Saturday.
The 34-year-old Murray started the week with his first win on Australian soil in more than 1,000 days. The three-time major winner progressed through the rounds to reach his first final since 2019.
Karatsev, who reached the Australian Open semifinals last year after going through qualifying for the season-opening major, was just too good.
“First time back in the finals for three years, it’s been a long road to get back here,” said Murray, a three-time major winner who has slid from No. 1 to No. 135 in the rankings. “I’ll keep trying my best to come back and have more nights like this. Maybe see you next year.”
Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist, received a wild-card entry for the Sydney tournament and beat Viktor Durasovic and 23rd-ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili, then Reilly Opelka in the semifinals, raising expectations after recurring hip injuries limited him to playing only one of the past four Australian Opens.
Murray won’t have long to recover before he takes on Basilashvili again in the first round of the Australian Open.
The men’s title in Sydney was one of four awarded on Saturday as the tune-up series concluded ahead of the Australian Open, which begins Monday.
In the women’s final in Sydney, Paula Badosa claimed her third career title when she upset French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4).
In Adelaide, unseeded Madison Keys claimed her first WTA Tour singles title since 2019 when she beat Alison Riske 6-1, 6-2 in an all-American final, and Thanasi Kokkinakis claimed in his first ATP Tour title in front of his home fans by beating Arthur Rinderknech 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-3.
The 25-year-old Kokkinakis considered retirement after struggling with shoulder, chest, groin, knee and elbow injuries over five years. That’s off the radar, for now, after a run of eight wins in two weeks.
Kokkinakis will play qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of the Australian Open and could meet 20-time major winner Rafael Nadal in the second round.
Earlier in Adelaide, Keys needed only 66 minutes to beat her regular practice partner in the first all-American final on the WTA Tour since Serena Williams beat Jessica Pegula at Auckland in 2020.
Wielding a powerful forehand from the baseline and moving well, Keys took the first set in less than a half-hour and broke Riske’s serve twice in the second set to claim her sixth career title and first since Cincinnati in 2019.
She didn’t offer the 57th-ranked Riske a break point chance while she converted five of nine and hit four aces.
Keys can now turn her attention to the Australian Open where she will face 2020 champion Sofia Kenin in the first round.
The former world No. 7 and 2017 US Open finalist, who has slipped to her current 87th-ranking due to injuries and a form slump in recent years, had overcome a leg injury to beat third-seeded compatriot Coco Gauff 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in a semifinals to reach her first tour final since 2020.
Badosa needed 2 hours, 22 minutes to clinch her win in Sydney, getting a vital mini-break in the third-set tiebreaker to close out the match.
The fifth-seeded Badosa used her strong serve to good effect, recording 12 aces including six in a commanding first set.
Third-seeded Krejcikova rallied in the second set, breaking Badosa’s serve twice. Both had a service break in the final set before Badosa got the winning edge in the decisive tiebreaker.


Winners of Prince Faisal bin Fahad Award for Sports Research announced

Winners of Prince Faisal bin Fahad Award for Sports Research announced
Updated 28 May 2022

Winners of Prince Faisal bin Fahad Award for Sports Research announced

Winners of Prince Faisal bin Fahad Award for Sports Research announced
  • The $2 million international research grant program was launched in 1983 by the late Prince Faisal bin Fahad Al-Saud

Seventeen project proposals exploring topics related to sports in Saudi Arabia have been chosen in the latest funding round of the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Award for Sports Research.

The $2 million international research grant program was launched in 1983 by the late Prince Faisal bin Fahad Al-Saud, President of the General Presidency of Youth Welfare (later the Ministry of Sport) and chairman of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, to capitalize on the tremendous role research played for the development and training of world-class Saudi athletes.

Selected from more than 400 proposals – covering  public health, coaching and education, or youth and grassroots tacks – coming from over sixty countries, the winning projects were awarded grants ranging from $80,000 to $120,000 to execute a year-long research project focused on sports in Saudi Arabia. An independent scientific committee appointed by the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology based in Lausanne, Switzerland selected the winners.

The recipients include Dr. Amanda Visek from The George Washington University, whose project explores why Saudi youth opt out of sport participation and their motivations to opt in and stay involved with sports; Dr. Matthew Reeves from the University of Central Lancashire, whose project examines the talent identification and talent development processes and practices in football in Saudi Arabia; Prof. Hussein Ageely from Jazan University, whose project examines the effects of a home-based physical activity program on the quality of life for Saudi type-2 diabetes patients

Also chosen was Dr. Deepti Adlakha from North Carolina State University, whose project explores the correlation between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and weight status in adolescents, and neighborhood environments in Saudi Arabia; and Dr. Ahmed Alanezi from Alfaisal University, whose project explores the governance and the gender equality agenda of professional football clubs in Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Mahmoud Abulmeaty of King Saud University on the development and validation of new predictive equations for energy requirements in Saudi athletes and Dr. Abdulrahman Alshabeb of Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University on Fun Move Saudi: Promoting physical activity and health in children through fundamental movement skill development will also be funded.


Butler, Heat drag Celtics to Game 7 in Miami

Butler, Heat drag Celtics to Game 7 in Miami
Updated 28 May 2022

Butler, Heat drag Celtics to Game 7 in Miami

Butler, Heat drag Celtics to Game 7 in Miami
  • Butler’s 47 points were the seventh-most in NBA history for a player facing elimination

BOSTON: Jimmy Butler had 47 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and the Miami Heat forced the Eastern Conference finals to a decisive seventh game by beating the Boston Celtics 111-103 on Friday night.

Ten years after LeBron James had 45 points in Boston to help the Heat avoid Game 6 elimination en route to the first of their back-to-back NBA titles, Butler scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to top him and send the series back to Miami.

With a victory at home Sunday, the Heat would advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in three years.

“This is the way it should be, with these two teams. It should have gone seven games,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’m just really thrilled that our group gets an opportunity to compete in a Game 7 in front of our home crowd.”

In the most back-and-forth game of the series, Boston took a 97-94 lead on Derrick White’s 3-pointer with under five minutes to play — the first time all series the lead has changed hands in the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry answered with a 3 and then added two free throws as Miami scored 11 of the next 13 points.

Lowry finished with 18 points and 10 assists before fouling out with 2:18 left. Butler made 16 of 29 shots, hitting 4 of 8 from 3-point range and all 11 free throws.

“Matching his intensity from the start wasn’t there,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “Understanding that he was going to put it on his shoulders, and we didn’t match it.”

Jayson Tatum had 30 points and nine rebounds and Derrick White came off the bench to score 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for Boston. The Celtics are trying to reach the finals for the first time since 2010.

Boston’s Jaylen Brown scored 20 points, missing a pair of free throws with the game tied at 99 after Lowry fouled out. Brown fouled out himself on a charge offensive that was assessed after a challenge on a missed dunk with 13 seconds left and the Celtics down by four.

Butler’s 47 points were the seventh-most in NBA history for a player facing elimination.

Elgin Baylor had 61 against Boston in Game 5 of the 1962 finals. Wilt Chamberlain topped 50 three times, Sleepy Floyd had 50 against the Lakers in 1987 and Jamal Murray scored 50 against Utah in 2020.

It was also the third-most to stave off elimination against the Celtics. In addition to Baylor, Chamberlain had 50 in Game 5 of the East finals in 1960.

James’ 45 against Boston in Game 6 of the 2012 conference finals set the stage for a Game 7 win in Miami.

The Heat are hoping Butler’s performance can do the same.

“I get it, people can easily draw the comparisons between the two,” Spoelstra said. “That’s a different era. That’s a different team. I want our guys to embrace this moment.”

Miami guard Tyler Herro missed his third straight game with a strained groin, costing the team its No. 2 scorer. Kyle Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring) and P.J. Tucker (knee) had been listed as questionable but were in the starting lineup.

Boston’s Marcus Smart (sprained right ankle) and Robert Williams III (sore knee) tested their injuries pregame and were also in the lineup.

TIP-INS

Heat: Butler had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists in the first. He scored or assisted on 24 of Miami’s 29 points in the quarter.

Celtics: Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, who was inducted into the ballclub’s Hall of Fame on Thursday night, was courtside. Ortiz threw out a ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park earlier in the evening. Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez was also at the game, wearing his World Series ring.


Bouwman rules Giro 19th mountain stage, Carapaz keeps leader’s pink jersey

Bouwman rules Giro 19th mountain stage, Carapaz keeps leader’s pink jersey
Updated 28 May 2022

Bouwman rules Giro 19th mountain stage, Carapaz keeps leader’s pink jersey

Bouwman rules Giro 19th mountain stage, Carapaz keeps leader’s pink jersey
  • Bouwman negotiated the jostling on a sharp final bend to beat his four breakaway companions for his second stage win after Potenza in southern Italy two weeks ago
  • The Giro will go down to the wire with Saturday’s stage in the Dolomites now looking crucial to the outcome

CIVIDALE DEL FRIULI, Italy: Dutch rider Koen Bouwman won a sprint finish in the mountains for stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia at Santuario di Castelmonte on Friday as Richard Carapaz held the leader’s pink jersey.

Ecuador’s 2019 Giro winner Carapaz holds a slim three-second advantage on Australian Jai Hindley two days before the race finishes with a time-trial in Verona.

Bouwman negotiated the jostling on a sharp final bend to beat his four breakaway companions for his second stage win after Potenza in southern Italy two weeks ago.

Quick Step’s Mauro Schmid of Switzerland was just behind with Italian Alessandro Tonelli of Bardiani three seconds off the pace.

“After I won one stage I said anything else would be a bonus,” said Jumbo-Visma’s Bouwman who is assured of the top climber’s blue jersey providing he finishes the race.

“Today I rode for the Maglia Azzurra and I’m glad I secured it.

“I knew about the last corner but I didn’t expect it to be that sharp.

“I had to break but it’s great that I was in the best position there. That gave me the win. I’m delighted.”

Carapaz survived the setback of losing his key mountain lieutenant Richie Porte early in the 178km stage from Marano Lagunare which included four climbs and crossed into neighboring Slovenia.

Ineos Grenadiers rider Porte was dropped from the peloton on the first climb of the day, the third-category Villanova Grotte, after 70km of racing. Organizers later confirmed the 37-year-old Australian had withdrawn from the Giro.

“It’s been a pretty hard stage,” said Carapaz.

“It’s a pity that we lost Richie Porte early in the race but the team has done a great job and Pavel Sivakov is in a great shape.

“All top three riders, we’re together. It’s fine with me. Whatever happens tomorrow will be fine with me too.”

A 12-man breakaway approached the main climb of the day, the Kolovrat over 10.3 km and with a 9.2 percent gradient, with more than nine minutes on the peloton.

The four survivors only lost a little over a minute on this climb near Caporetto, the site of a historic defeat for the Italians in the First World War.

Neither Carapaz nor Hindley tried to pull ahead in the final climb having made several attempts earlier along with Spaniard Mikel Landa, third in the standings.

The Giro will go down to the wire with Saturday’s stage in the Dolomites now looking crucial to the outcome.

The 20th stage, the last in the mountains, includes three great climbs — the San Pellegrino, the Pordoi for the highest point of this year’s race at 2,239 meters above sea level concluding at the Fedaia, with a spectacular steep climb in the last 5,400 meters.

Sunday’s final stage is a 17.4km individual time-trial into Verona where Ecuadorian Carapaz claimed overall victory three years ago.


World No.1 Scheffler clings to a  share of lead at PGA Colonial 

World No.1 Scheffler clings to a  share of lead at PGA Colonial 
Updated 28 May 2022

World No.1 Scheffler clings to a  share of lead at PGA Colonial 

World No.1 Scheffler clings to a  share of lead at PGA Colonial 
  • After winning his first US PGA title at Phoenix in February, Scheffler won at Bay Hill and captured the WGC Match Play title in March then won his first major title at the Masters in April to overtake Spain’s Jon Rahm as world No. 1 

LOS ANGELES: Top-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler fired a 5-under par 65 to keep a share of the lead after Friday’s second round of the US PGA Charles Schwab Challenge.

Scheffler, chasing his fifth victory of the year, stood alongside fellow Americans Beau Hossler and Scott Stallings on 9-under 131 after 36 holes at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

After winning his first US PGA title at Phoenix in February, Scheffler won at Bay Hill and captured the WGC Match Play title in March then won his first major title at the Masters in April to overtake Spain’s Jon Rahm as world No. 1.

“I’ve definitely enjoyed the stuff that comes with winning majors and winning the other tournaments that I have,” Scheffler said. “It has been a lot of fun.”

Scheffler has not made a bogey in the first two rounds.

“I love that stat,” Scheffler said. “I kept the stress off myself for the most part.”

Scheffler missed the cut at last week’s PGA Championship, giving him a much-needed break before a hometown event.

“It has been busy,” he said. “Definitely a good reset. I came home and did nothing on Saturday and had a relaxing practice on Sunday. It was definitely a good little break.”

Hot and windy weather is forecast for the weekend.

“I like it when the conditions are really hard and so I’d rather it be very difficult than very easy,” Scheffler said. “If you’re playing really good golf, you can extend yourself and I’m really excited for the challenge this weekend.”

Scheffler opened with back-to-back birdie putts from about four feet and made a par save from just inside 10 feet at the par-4 seventh.

He began the back nine with a birdie then holed a 24-foot birdie putt at the 12th and a 14-footer for birdie at the 17th to share the lead again after being among eight co-leaders following the first 18 holes.

“I worked really hard just improving my iron play and creating a lot of different shots for myself,” Scheffler said. “This course is a lot about the approaches to the green and it looks like the hard work is paying off out here.”

Stallings fired a 64, the best round so far this week. He closed the front nine with a 20-foot birdie putt at the eighth and holeout from 37 feet at the ninth, then sank a birdie putt from just inside 29 feet at the 18th to share the lead.

“Had some good looks early,” said Stallings. “I felt good on the greens, felt good with my stroke and nice to see them fall in there toward the second half of the round.”

Hossler holed birdie putts at the par-3 eighth from 24 feet and the par-3 13th from 21 feet to highlight his bogey-free 65.

“Played a solid round,” Hossler said. “Nothing too exciting. Hit a lot of greens and just made the round relatively stress free.”

Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, was fourth on 132 with fellow Americans Pat Perez and Chris Kirk sharing fifth on 133.

Justin Thomas, who won his second major title at last week’s PGA Championship, and fellow American Will Zalatoris, who lost at Southern Hills in a playoff, each missed the cut.

Chile’s Mito Pereira, who missed out on the PGA playoff after a 72nd-hole collapse on Sunday, fired a 66 to stand on 136.


Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz roll into last 16 at French Open

Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz roll into last 16 at French Open
Updated 28 May 2022

Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz roll into last 16 at French Open

Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz roll into last 16 at French Open
  • The 35-year-old Serb is aiming to become the oldest men’s singles champion in Paris in the Open era as he chases a record-equalling 21st Grand Slam title
  • The Spanish teenage star is the youngest man in the Roland Garros fourth round since Djokovic 16 years ago

PARIS: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal closed in Friday on a blockbuster clash at the French Open as both reached the last 16, while 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest man to make the second week in Paris since 2006.

Reigning champion Djokovic and 13-time winner Nadal are on course to meet in the quarterfinals, with the Spaniard seeded outside the top four at Roland Garros for just the second time.

World No. 1 Djokovic strolled to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win over Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene and Nadal eased past Dutch 26th seed Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

“I’m always very motivated when I get on the court, with the desire to produce my best level each time. It’s not always possible to do it, but today it was very good,” said Djokovic.

The 35-year-old Serb is aiming to become the oldest men’s singles champion in Paris in the Open era as he chases a record-equalling 21st Grand Slam title.

Next up for Djokovic, who was also French Open champion in 2016, is a matchup with Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, the 15th seed.

Nadal, the 21-time major champion, improved his record at Roland Garros to 108-3 after seeing off 2021 US Open quarter-finalist Van de Zandschulp.

He has now reached at least the fourth round in 17 of 18 visits to Roland Garros, with the exception of 2016 when he withdrew in the third round with a wrist injury.

“Today has been a very good test and very positive test, because I was able to play my best match of the tournament so far, without any doubt,” said Nadal.

The Spaniard had a break point for 5-0 in the third set, but Van de Zandschulp refused to roll over, winning four of the next five games before Nadal put away his second match point, having saved a break point in between the two.

“You always feel a little bit the nerves to finish the match, so I’m happy to be through in straight sets,” said Nadal, who plays Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime for a place in the last eight.

In a twist to that clash, Toni Nadal, the uncle and former coach of the Spaniard, is now working with Auger-Aliassime.

Alcaraz gained revenge against the only man to beat him on clay this year, defeating US 27th seed Sebastian Korda 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in the evening session.

The Spanish teenage star is the youngest man in the Roland Garros fourth round since Djokovic 16 years ago.

“I’m trying to have fun out there. I just enjoy every single second. I love playing tennis,” said Alcaraz, who saved a match point against countryman Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the previous round.

He has won 20 of 21 matches on clay this season and next faces 21st seed Karen Khachanov. The Russian knocked out Cameron Norrie in four sets as the 10th-seeded Briton became the highest-ranked player to fall.

Alexander Zverev, the third seed and 2021 semifinalist, ended the run of American Brandon Nakashima, winning 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

The German Olympic champion, who also saved a match point in round two, next takes on Bernabe Zapata Miralles, the 131st-ranked Spaniard who downed John Isner in five sets.

Amanda Anisimova, the 27th seed and a 2019 semifinalist, advanced to the last 16 as injury-plagued Karolina Muchova retired down 6-7 (7/9), 6-2, 3-0 after falling and twisting her ankle midway through the second set.

Last year’s US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez beat Olympic champion Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich defeated three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).

Coco Gauff, the youngest player left in the French Open, made the last 16 with a straight-sets win over Kaia Kanepi, the oldest woman in the tournament at 36.

Sloane Stephens, runner-up in 2018, ended the run of French teenager Diane Parry in straight sets, while Swiss 23rd seed Jil Teichmann overcame two-time former Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (10/5).