Tsitsipas storms into Australian Open semifinal

Tsitsipas storms into Australian Open semifinal
The Greek fourth seed played his best tennis yet in the year's opening major to romp past the 11th-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 January 2022

Tsitsipas storms into Australian Open semifinal

Tsitsipas storms into Australian Open semifinal
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas stormed into his third Australian Open semifinal against either Daniil Medvedev or Felix Auger-Aliassime

MELBOURNE: Stefanos Tsitsipas stormed into his third Australian Open semifinal with a blistering straight-sets victory over Jannik Sinner on Wednesday.
The Greek fourth seed played his best tennis yet in the year’s opening major to romp past the 11th-seeded Italian 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in 2hr 6min and into a semifinal against either Daniil Medvedev or Felix Auger-Aliassime.


Seville on alert: 150,000 expected for Europa League final

Seville on alert: 150,000 expected for Europa League final
Updated 5 sec ago

Seville on alert: 150,000 expected for Europa League final

Seville on alert: 150,000 expected for Europa League final
  • Both Glasgow Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt have huge and loyal fan bases, and many supporters are making the trip despite not having tickets for the final at the 43,000-capacity Sánchez-Pizjuan

SEVILLE, Spain: More than 5,000 police officers and security personnel are on high alert in Seville as the Spanish city braces for up to 150,000 supporters of Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt arriving for the Europa League final.

Streets are being closed, barriers are being erected around monuments and security has been heightened in subway stations and at the city’s main squares to try to maintain order among the throngs of Scottish and German fans who are expected in the city ahead of Wednesday’s match.

National Police Chief Juan Carlos Castro said 50,000 Frankfurt fans and up to 100,000 Rangers fans could make it to the city ahead of the final at Sevilla’s Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium.

Both clubs are hoping to end decades of European despair by winning the final of the second-tier continental competition. Frankfurt hasn’t won a European trophy in more than 40 years, while Rangers’ last European title came 50 years ago.

The winning club will also secure a coveted automatic spot in the group stage of the Champions League next season. Rangers last played in the group stage of the top European club competition in 2010-11, while Frankfurt have not played in the tournament since losing the European Cup final to Real Madrid in 1960.

“You see fans traveling in numbers and all sorts of routes to support us. For us we take a lot of pride in the support and backing we get,” Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack said Tuesday. “We’re the lucky ones as we get to play and there are 100,000 who would like to. We want to put on a performance and make them proud.”

Both clubs have huge and loyal fan bases, and many supporters are making the trip despite not having tickets for the final at the 43,000-capacity Sánchez-Pizjuán. Only about 10,000 tickets were allocated for fans of each club. UEFA asked for those without tickets not to travel to Seville and warned about the dangers of purchasing tickets on the secondary market.

“In order to maintain the safety and security of fans, ticket holders should be aware that checks will be carried out at the finals and the local authorities in the cities will take action against the unauthorized resale of tickets,” UEFA said.

Castro said police will pay special attention to fans trying to enter the stadium without tickets.

“Some groups will try to enter the stadium any way they can,” he said. “It’s a very big risk with that number of fans without tickets.”

The city prepared two fans zones — with a capacity of more than 20,000 each — to accommodate supporters who won’t be able to watch the match inside the stadium.

Hotels were at full capacity and fans from both clubs were seen in several other cities nearby Seville.

“I think it’s not about the numbers,” Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst said. “You can bring 50 people and and they will give you chaos. I know we have a lot of people traveling with us. We have to enjoy it, and make sure we are not causing any problems. Half of the people will go back home really happy and half of the people will go back home angry, but we should always respect the whole city.”

There had been fan violence involving visiting fans in Seville when local clubs Sevilla and Real Betis hosted matches earlier in the competition. Before the semifinal match between Frankfurt and West Ham in Germany, more than 30 arrests were made after supporters of both clubs clashed in several locations in Frankfurt.

Frankfurt fans swarmed into Barcelona when the team played against the Catalan club in the Europa League quarterfinals, with more than 30,000 making their way into the Camp Nou Stadium even though the club was only allocated about 5,000 tickets for its fans.

“Our fans are exceptional. They have gone to great lengths to follow us around Europe,” Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner said. “We’ve got two teams with incredible fans and maybe the best away fans in Europe.”

There had been no incidents of fan violence reported early in the week in Seville but authorities said the worst was yet to come.

“We need maximum coordination between local and federal police to reduce as much as possible the risks that come along an agglomeration of fans like this,” Sevilla mayor Antonio Muñoz said.

The economic impact of the Europa League final to Seville is expected to reach about $52.6 million (50 million euros), the mayor said.


All eyes on Tiger’s comeback and Jordan Slam quest at PGA

All eyes on Tiger’s comeback and Jordan Slam quest at PGA
Updated 18 May 2022

All eyes on Tiger’s comeback and Jordan Slam quest at PGA

All eyes on Tiger’s comeback and Jordan Slam quest at PGA
  • Woods' emotional return at last month’s Masters ended with a share of 47th and a stamina struggle, but he saw walking 72 holes as a major feat and says he’s stronger as another endurance test looms
  • If he wins, Spieth will join Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only players to sweep all four major titles in their careers

OKLAHOMA, U.S:Tiger Woods and his incredible injury comeback and Jordan Spieth’s quest for a career Grand Slam will seize the spotlight in Thursday’s opening round of the 104th PGA Championship.

Woods, a 15-time major champion, and three-time major winner Spieth are grouped with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy in a marquee trio for the first two days at Southern Hills.

Top-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, 2021 British Open winner Collin Morikawa and second-ranked Spaniard Jon Rahm are among the most fancied players and are together as well, but might struggle to match the Woods group spectator count.

“Tiger’s here, so nobody really remembers that I’m here,” Scheffler said. “So it’s all good.”

Woods suffered severe leg injuries in a February 2021 car crash, spending weeks hospitalized and months unable to walk.

His emotional return at last month’s Masters ended with a share of 47th and a stamina struggle, but he saw walking 72 holes as a major feat and says he’s stronger as another endurance test looms.

“I’ve gotten stronger since then, but still it’s going to be sore and walking is a challenge,” Woods said.

Asked if he can win, Woods said, “I feel like I can, definitely. I just have to go out there and do it.”

Among those trying to stop him will be Rahm, who comes off a victory two weeks ago at the US PGA Mexico Open.

“He’s Tiger. He’s a competitor,” Rahm said. “He’s going to try to win every single time and anytime he tees up, the world wants him to win.

“Yeah, totally expected for the attention to be on him, but it doesn’t really change anything of what I want to be doing this week.”

Like Rahm, Spieth wants to be having his name engraved on the Wanamaker Trophy. If he wins, Spieth will join Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only players to sweep all four major titles in their careers.

Spieth won last month’s Heritage title and was second at last week’s hometown Byron Nelson event. He expects Southern Hills will be formidable.

“I think it’s going to be one of the higher scoring PGAs that we’ve seen,” Spieth said. “It’s a great test.”

World No. 4 Cameron Smith of Australia, a top-five Masters finisher in three of the past five years, is ready for the struggle of playing in the group just ahead of Woods.

“There can be a lot of external noise with crowds and just a lot more moving parts,” Smith said. “Just another thing to really think about. Just make sure to spend a little bit more time worrying about what’s happening outside to make sure when you’re inside that shot, everything’s perfect.”

Tricky winds are expected, with the strongest breezes on the first two days.

“The forecast is different every day in this wind,” Woods said. “It’s supposed to be all different directions. We’re going to see a different course almost every day.”

That, warns Rahm, also comes with tee boxes made for adjustable distances, changing the holes each day no matter the weather.

“They can truly make it as difficult as they want to be,” Rahm said. “They can really, truly manipulate the score out here very easily, even if the conditions are benign and we don’t get too much wind.”

Scheffler, happy to hide in Woods’s shadow, will try to become the first player to win the green jacket and PGA Championship in the same year since Nicklaus in 1975.

“It’s right in front of you. It’s just really hard,” Scheffler said of the course. “You know what to do. It’s just hard to actually do it.”

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka sees Scheffler as the man to beat.

“He’s No. 1 in the world. That usually has something to do with it,” Koepka said. “I think confidence, too. No. 1 in the world, you’ve got that swagger when you walk on the range. I know I did.

“I’m pretty sure everybody else that has been No. 1, you’ve got a little extra strut. You’ve got a little something and I think it’s noticeable.”


Rahm tells Spanish teen tennis star to embrace routine

Rahm tells Spanish teen tennis star to embrace routine
Updated 18 May 2022

Rahm tells Spanish teen tennis star to embrace routine

Rahm tells Spanish teen tennis star to embrace routine
  • Rahm’s advice was to stay with his regimen and work habits even if tempted to make changes in the wake of early success

TULSA, OKLAHOMA: Reigning US Open golf champion Jon Rahm of Spain has some advice for teen tennis star compatriot Carlos Alcaraz — embrace the routine and put in the work.

World No. 2 Rahm praised the 19-year-old Spanish sensation on Monday as he prepared for Thursday’s start of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

Alcaraz, who won his first ATP title in March at Miami, captured his second earlier this month at Madrid, defeating 20-time Grand Slam winners Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic plus third-ranked Alexander Zverev on his way to the crown and a jump to sixth in the world rankings.

“Pretty impressive, especially in the world of tennis. He’s got some big shoes to fill,” Rahm said.

“Historically Spain has had great tennis players, and with Rafa out there it can be probably daunting yet really exciting too for somebody like him.

“He has got a great start. Hopefully he can keep it going and be a great champion.”

Rahm’s advice was to stay with his regimen and work habits even if tempted to make changes in the wake of early success.

“Believe in yourself and keep working, I would probably tell him,” Rahm said.

“You see a lot of people... they win a major championship and they decide they need to change things because they need it to get better.

“There’s a reason he’s gotten to this point. Just keep using that routine and keep getting better. Don’t need to do a complete 180 flip. Just keep believing in yourself, keep practicing and keep training and results will come.”

Rahm has done that this week in the hope he can add to his major title haul, which began last June at Torrey Pines.

The 27-year-old Spaniard comes in off a victory two weeks ago at the Mexico Open, Rahm’s seventh career US PGA triumph and first since last year’s US Open.

“I don’t know if I needed more confidence, but a win is a win. It was a good one,” Rahm said.

“Hadn’t had my best year so far. I had a couple of really good finishes, but since Torrey, I wasn’t really relevant on the leaderboard, so it was nice to be up there and get the win.”

Rahm says tee shots will be crucial to attack the course this week, but Southern Hills will test all facets of his game.

“If you’re in the rough, you might not be able to be aggressive toward the pins,” Rahm said. “You have to hit a lot of fairways out here.

“Everything needs to be good. Iron game, short game, putting, driving, everything — otherwise something really will have to excel for something else to be lacking.”


Medvedev rules himself out for French Open crown after loss in return from injury

Medvedev rules himself out for French Open crown after loss in return from injury
Updated 18 May 2022

Medvedev rules himself out for French Open crown after loss in return from injury

Medvedev rules himself out for French Open crown after loss in return from injury
  • Medvedev went under the knife after losing in the quarterfinals in Miami, meaning the Geneva loss was his only clay-court match ahead of Paris

GENEVA: World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday ruled himself out as a title contender at next week’s French Open after losing his first match back after an hernia operation.

The US Open champion, who underwent surgery last month, was beaten 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) by French veteran Richard Gasquet in the Geneva Open round of 16.

Medvedev said it was hard to look beyond Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as favorites to win the second Grand Slam of the year and said he would work further on sharpening up his game in the remaining days before Paris.

“I don’t play my best tennis on clay courts. I know that I’m capable of making some good results, as I did in the past. But for this I kind of need to be in the zone,” Medvedev told reporters.

“I don’t feel as confident on clay as on other surfaces, that’s why I lost 7/5 in the tiebreak finishing with a double fault. It’s disappointing but I’ve had tougher losses in my career.

“Physically I felt not bad. With more days of practice I should be ready for Roland Garros.”

The 26-year-old Russian reached the 2021 French Open quarterfinals.

“I haven’t played for a month and a half, two months. I’m going to try to work both physically and tennis-wise and hopefully I can find the game I had there last year — which is not going to be easy,” he said.

Medvedev went under the knife after losing in the quarterfinals in Miami, meaning the Geneva loss was his only clay-court match ahead of Paris.

“Clay for my body is the most dangerous surface. For me it’s clay courts — every time, every year I have some problems where I cannot be 100 percent,” he said.

“I’m not a favorite for Roland-Garros but I do want to play well. If I can find my level again, I can be dangerous.”

It was the first time 35-year-old Gasquet had defeated a top two player since beating Roger Federer in 2005 — his only other victory over a top-two opponent in 38 attempts.

“It’s a great victory for me and it’s incredible for me to win against Daniil, even if he’s coming back from injuries,” Gasquet said.

“It’s a great moment and that’s why I still continue to play and try to do well.”

The former world No. 7, who underwent hernia surgery himself in 2019, was surprised by the speed of Medvedev’s comeback.

“The first match after surgery it’s always difficult, so I knew it was tough for him but I know how good he is,” he said.

“He has come back quickly because two months off is not a lot after an operation. It’s impressive. It will take time for him to get back to his best.”

The world No. 75 faces Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Last year’s Geneva winner Casper Ruud, runner-up Denis Shapovalov and Reilly Opelka are the top 20 players still in the draw.


Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1, title race goes to the wire

Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1, title race goes to the wire
Updated 18 May 2022

Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1, title race goes to the wire

Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1, title race goes to the wire
  • The victory leaves Jurgen Klopp’s team a point behind Manchester City heading into the final round of a thrilling league campaign
  • Liverpool were 14 points behind City at one point in January, albeit with two games in hand

SOUTHAMPTON, England: The Premier League title race is going to the wire. Remarkably, an unprecedented quadruple is still on for Liverpool.

Tired and hit by injuries after winning the FA Cup final on Saturday, Liverpool fielded a second-choice lineup against Southampton and demonstrated a great mentality to come from behind to win 2-1 on Tuesday.

It leaves Jurgen Klopp’s team a point behind Manchester City heading into the final round of a thrilling league campaign. That’s on Sunday, when Liverpool are at home to Wolverhampton at the same time as City host Aston Villa — managed by Liverpool great Steven Gerrard.

“Whatever happens this season, we have done ourselves proud,” Liverpool midfielder James Milner said. “All we could do is take it to the last game and we’ve done that.”

City remain the favorite in their bid for a sixth league title in 11 seasons, but Liverpool have done their part by taking the defending champions all the way.

In fact, the Reds are taking every competition to the final game this season, with a Champions League final against Real Madrid still to come on May 28. They’ve already won both domestic cups in a season for the ages.

Joel Matip completed Liverpool’s latest comeback by unwittingly heading home the winning goal in the 67th minute at St. Mary’s Stadium.

Klopp’s team had also come from behind in its previous two league games, a 2-1 win against Villa and a 1-1 draw with Tottenham. It just doesn’t know when it is beaten.

“We keep going,” Klopp said. “We never give up. That’s how it is.”

The game came only three days after Liverpool’s energy-sapping FA Cup triumph over Chelsea, which went 120 minutes before the Reds won a penalty shootout. Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were injured at Wembley Stadium and didn’t travel to Southampton. Fabinho was already injured. Andrew Robertson and Luis Diaz were unused substitutes.

Despite the slew of changes, Liverpool dominated a passive Southampton team with nothing left to play for this season but still fell behind in the 13th minute when Nathan Redmond cut inside from the left and sent in a shot that deflected off Milner and into the far corner.

Liverpool’s players kept their composure and replied 14 minutes later when Diogo Jota laid the ball off to Takumi Minamino, who displayed quick feet before firing a rising shot inside Alex McCarthy’s near post. The Japan forward was on loan at Southampton last season and hadn’t started a league game since then.

The rest of the match saw Liverpool camped inside Southampton’s half but only managing to create half-chances. The atmosphere was starting to get tense when Liverpool was gifted what proved to be the winning goal, after a corner by Kostas Tsimikas was glanced on at the near post by Southampton forward Mohamed Elyounoussi.

The ball flew across the area, skimmed off the head of Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters, hit the forehead of Matip and rebounded into the far corner beyond McCarthy’s despairing dive.

Liverpool were 14 points behind City at one point in January, albeit with two games in hand. Somehow, the title is still within reach with 90 minutes left to play. And Gerrard, who never won the league with Liverpool as a player, could yet have a decisive role in helping his former team win it this time.

“If we said in January it would go to the last game, we would have taken that,” Liverpool manager Jordan Henderson said. “Hopefully Stevie and Villa do us a favor.”