AS IT HAPPENED: Joy for Mercedes and Nyck de Vries on Diriyah E-Prix 2022 day one

Update Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne ensured it was a Mercedes 1-2 in round one of the FIA Formula E World Championship in Diriyah. (SPA)
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Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne ensured it was a Mercedes 1-2 in round one of the FIA Formula E World Championship in Diriyah. (SPA)
Update FIA Formula E World Championship’s Season 8 double-header opener in Diriyah gets underway on Friday. (Twitter/@FIAFormulaE)
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FIA Formula E World Championship’s Season 8 double-header opener in Diriyah gets underway on Friday. (Twitter/@FIAFormulaE)
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Updated 28 January 2022

AS IT HAPPENED: Joy for Mercedes and Nyck de Vries on Diriyah E-Prix 2022 day one

AS IT HAPPENED: Joy for Mercedes and Nyck de Vries on Diriyah E-Prix 2022 day one
  • The first E-Prix of the season kicks of in Riyadh and Arab News will bring all the latest developments and results from the circuit in Diriyah as they happen

DIRIYAH: With new regulations, a refined sporting product and a world-class grid of 11 teams and 22 drivers, the FIA Formula E World Championship’s Season 8 double-header opener in Diriyah got underway on Friday. 

It was a one-two for Mercedes as their drivers Nyck de Vries, reigning world champion, and Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne came home ahead of the pack.

British driver Jake Dennis got the final spot on the podium in the weekend's first race, with the grid gearing up to go again in round two on Saturday.

Follow live coverage below...(all times GMT)

18:30 - That concludes the first day of this double-header Diriyah E-Prix weekend, be sure to check back in tomorrow for round two!

18:00 - CHEQUERED FLAG! Mercedes driver Nyck de Vries wins in Diriyah yet again! The Dutchman finished first ahead of his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, who will be disappointed he didn't capitalize on pole position.

17:40 - Into the final 10 minutes of the race, and Nyck de Vries leads from Vandoorne and Jake Dennis, who tells his engineers he has a puncture, is clinging on to third place.

17:20 - And we have our first safety car of the season, with pole-sitter Stoffel Vandoorne still leading the E-Prix.

17:15 - It's bad news for Season 6 winner Antonio da Felix Costa, as he's forced to pit and retire after a busy first lap.

17:00 - WE'RE OFF! Lights have gone green in Diriyah and the season is underway.

16:45 - As the first race of this year's Formula E World Championship gets closer, you can remind yourself how the season went last year below...

16:30 - 22 of the best drivers in the world will race for eleven teams and the world championship in this season of the FIA Formula E World Championship. Here is a handy guide to the heroes behind the helmets.

16:15 - Missed the brand new qualification session earlier today? Not to worry, highlights below!


15:00 - UPDATE: Oliver Rowland will drop three places in the starting grid after receiving a penalty for impeding a car in the pit lane. He had qualified 8th.

14:30 - Right! We have some time to spare before it's lights out, which is a perfect chance to catch up with Julia Palle, the sustainability director at Formula E, who believes electrification is the way forward for motorsports. Read more of her interview here.

13:55 - It comes as no surprise that the driver who took the most pole positions last season has come out on top in the new qualifying format.

Vandoorne takes the first pole position of the eighth Formula E season here in Diriyah, giving himself a significant advantage over his fellow drivers in tonight’s season starter.

He will also claim three championship points for the pole position, meaning he's already the early pace-setter in the bid for the world title.

13:50 - The Flying Dutchman and reigning champion de Vries is bested by his teammate Vandoorne while a very quick lap for Dennis sees him proceed to the final and face off against the Belgian driver. Dennis however was faster than Vandoorne in the semifinals, so the Belgian will have to step up if we wants to take pole position.

With five minutes until the final gets underway, the teams call back the drivers to pit for tyre changes before the final qualifying.

13:40 - German driver Lotterer bests dutch opponent Frijns to progress to the semifinals, along with Dennis who beat Bird, Vandoorne who defeated Cassidy and reigning FE champion de Vries who just knocked out British driver Rowland out of a better qualifying result.

A surprise twist sees both Mercedes-EQ teammates face each other in the semifinals of the qualifying, with Lotterer to face Dennis first.

13:30 - Take a look at the Diriyah circuit below, which the drivers will be taking on at 17:00 GMT (20:00 KSA)...

13:25 - Poor Edoardo Mortara of Rokit Venturi - he crashed out with a mechanical problem last year, and now in the first session of the new season, he locks up and heads into the barriers on Turn 1, bringing out the yellow flag out in the first sector.

13:20 - So, after all that action - what happens next?

The top four from both groups now advance to a round of eight, during which power will be bumped up to 250 kW from 200 in the first round. Frijns, quickest in group A faces off against Lotterer, fourth quickest from Group B. Bird, Group A’s second quickest faces off against Dennis, third quickest from Group B. 

Group A third quickest Vandoorne faces Cassidy, second quickest form Group B, and finally Rowland, Group A fourth quickest faces Group B first quickest, de Vries.

13:15 - Mercedes-EQ’s Nick de Vries, Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy, Avalanche Andretti’s Jake Dennis and TAG Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer take top four in Group B and face off Group A’s top four.

13:00 - The top four from Group A saw Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns, Jaguar Racing’s Sam Bird, Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Mahindra Racing’s Oliver Rowland advance to the duels in the second round of the qualifying.

12:45: Drivers take to the Diriyah circuit for the start of qualifying under the new knockout format as the 8th season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship gets underway.

The format sees two 11-driver groups, ordered based on their Championship position, set lap times in a 10-minute session.

The fastest four from each progress into the knockout stages, where the winning driver takes pole.

Matteo Berrettini targets return to world top 10 with Diriyah Tennis Cup campaign

Matteo Berrettini targets return to world top 10 with Diriyah Tennis Cup campaign
Updated 08 December 2022

Matteo Berrettini targets return to world top 10 with Diriyah Tennis Cup campaign

Matteo Berrettini targets return to world top 10 with Diriyah Tennis Cup campaign
  • ‘I’m ready to compete again,’ Italian star says, looking back on injury-plagued year

After a stop-start 2022 campaign that saw Matteo Berrettini miss two of the four tennis grand slams due to injuries and illness, the Italian is hoping he enjoys a healthier 2023 as he targets a return to the world’s top 10.

Berrettini, who is in Saudi Arabia this week competing in the Diriyah Tennis Cup, was ranked a career-high No.6 early this season after reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.

A right-hand injury that required surgery ruled him out of the entire clay season before he made an impressive return to the tour, winning back-to-back grass-court titles in Stuttgart and London. Bad luck struck again, however, as he tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of Wimbledon and the 26-year-old sat out the action, knowing he was considered one of the favorites for the title.

Last month, a foot problem he picked up in Naples stopped him from playing singles for Italy in the Davis Cup finals, where he took part in just one doubles match before wrapping up his season.

“Mentally, it was really tough,” Berrettini told Arab News, reflecting on his 2022 campaign.

“I was at my best ranking, I was playing good, I had a good run in Australia, clay season was coming and grass season was coming, which are the ones I love the most, and then that injury happened so it was tough to deal with that.

“At the same time I tried to take that time in order to come back stronger, with more energy. Because, obviously, the tour can be really tiring in some ways, so I was like, OK, I have to stop and get surgery, but I’m going to try to use this time to get better, to maybe do something I wouldn’t able to do when I’m on tour. Just invest some time to do stuff I never had the time to do and I helped myself like that.

“It worked out because when I came back I was feeling ready, I was feeling good. Obviously after I got COVID in Wimbledon everything went a little bit downhill, but it’s ups and downs and, hopefully, next year there are going to be more ups.”

Berrettini admits it is tough getting back to being fully focused on tennis, and not spending too much time worrying about his body and his physical problems.

He said that he is feeling better and is “ready to compete” with an eye on having another strong run in Australia next month.

The Rome native explains how he tries to bring an intensity to his practice sessions to mimic match conditions in order to regain that match toughness he was lacking while dealing with injuries. He believes a healthier body can help relieve some of the pressure he has been feeling at tournaments lately.

“In general, I would like to be healthier. I played I don’t know how many tournaments this year and I felt like each tournament I played I had to perform and get points, otherwise my ranking would drop even more and having that kind of pressure is not easy to deal with,” said Berrettini.  

“So being healthy would mean also to be less stressed about that, so that’s one of the goals for sure (in 2023). Obviously I’d like to come back to the top 10, because I think the tennis is there, I just have to be more consistent.”

A former Wimbledon finalist with a devastating serve and forehand combination, Berrettini has shown great consistency at the grand slams over the last few years. He has made at least the quarterfinals in each of his last five major appearances, losing to Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in four of them.

The men’s game is going through a generational change right now and players such as Berrettini are no longer focused only on chasing Djokovic and Nadal at the biggest events. The current world No.1 is Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz and Berrettini senses a shift in mentality on tour now that a 19-year-old is at the helm.

“It feels unbelievable if you think about it, what he achieved in such a short time,” Berrettini said of Alcaraz.

“I remember playing him in Australia at the beginning of the year and I played him Rio as well, and I felt he is a great player but what he did is still impressive for his age. The physicality he already has and everything, also mentally it’s not easy to deal with everything that he dealt with, so it’s impressive.

“At the same time we know that tennis it’s really tough, but it’s not impossible, we all know we can play our best tennis, I have to say it was a weird year with Novak not playing most of the slams, it was kind of a little weird. But Carlos deserves the world No.1 and I think everybody now is like, OK, he did it, yeah maybe it changed (our mentality) a little bit, it’s like maybe we can do it as well.

“Before world No.1 was Novak and Rafa, Daniil (Medvedev) already did it, which was impressive, but now, even Casper (Ruud) had the chance to be No.1 after the US Open.”

Away from the court, Berrettini has had an eventful year, full of new experiences. He became one of the faces of the fashion label Boss, alongside TikTok star Khaby Lame and supermodel Hailey Bieber. He attended the Cannes Film Festival and has been followed by cameras all year as one of the protagonists of the Netflix tennis docu-series that will be released early next season.

“It’s been fun,” he said of being part of the Netflix project.

“At the beginning I was like, what is this? Obviously when you win it’s always easy to have people around you and stuff but then when you lose, it’s tougher, you want to be by yourself, you don’t want to be bothered. But I was like, if I’m going to do this, I want to do it the right way. And that’s what I tried to do. I think it’s going to be really interesting to show people behind-the-scenes the stuff you don’t usually see.”

Berrettini lost his Diriyah Tennis Cup opener on Thursday to Stan Wawrinka. The Italian kicks off his 2023 campaign by representing Italy in the United Cup mixed team event in Brisbane, Australia, starting Dec. 29.

England’s Sterling to return to Qatar

England’s Sterling to return to Qatar
England's Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring past Iran's goalkeeper during Qatar World Cup Group B match. AFP
Updated 08 December 2022

England’s Sterling to return to Qatar

England’s Sterling to return to Qatar
  • The Chelsea forward temporarily left to attend to a family matter but is now expected to rejoin the squad

DOHA: England forward Raheem Sterling is to return to the World Cup in Qatar on Friday after spending time in England following a robbery at his home, England’s Football Association said on Thursday.
“Raheem Sterling will return to England’s World Cup base in Qatar. The Chelsea forward temporarily left to attend to a family matter but is now expected to rejoin the squad in Al Wakrah on Friday ahead of the quarter-final with France,” the FA said in a statement.
Sterling did not feature in England’s squad for the 3-0 win against Senegal with Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka playing either side of striker Harry Kane.
It would be a surprise should Sterling be picked to start against France although his return does increase manager Gareth Southgate’s options from the bench.
British media reports had said that Sterling’s home was broken into by armed intruders while his family were in the property on Saturday night.
However, Surrey Police later said that no-one was at home at the time of the burglary and no threats of violence were involved.
The police said the house’s occupants were away on an ‘international trip’ and discovered on their return that a number of items of jewelry, including watches, had been stolen.
Southgate had been supportive of Sterling’s decision to leave the camp and return to England.
“At the moment clearly the priority is for him to be with his family. We’re going to support that and leave him to have as much time as he needs,” he had said.
Sterling has been a key player for England during Southgate’s six years in charge.
The 28-year-old has 20 goals in 81 caps for his country, including one at the 2022 World Cup in a 6-2 victory over Iran.

The evolving role of the substitute in cricket

The evolving role of the substitute in cricket
Updated 08 December 2022

The evolving role of the substitute in cricket

The evolving role of the substitute in cricket
  • As the sport’s franchises continue to grow, the role of the ‘12th player’ has taken on more importance

If evidence is needed of cricket’s attempts to ape the commercial march of football, then the decision of the Board for Control of Cricket in India, or BCCI, to introduce a tactical substitute system into the Indian Premier League, known as the IPL, in 2023 is an example. However, it has taken years to arrive at this position.

Substitutes were introduced in professional football for the qualifying rounds of the 1954 World Cup, although it was not until 1970 that they were allowed in the finals, despite having been added to the Laws of the Game in 1958. Many countries adopted the measure during the 1950s but English football authorities dragged their feet and it was not until 1965 that the first substitution was made in the English league. In 2022-23, five substitutes are allowed, whilst, in 2021, trials took place relating to substitutes for players suspected to have suffered concussion during a match.

The same concern has been taken seriously in cricket. In July 2019, the International Cricket Council, or ICC, announced a provision for concussion-substitution in Test cricket. If a player suffers concussion and becomes unfit to take any further part in the match, a like-for-like substitute is allowed to play. There are restrictions. If a specialist batter is injured and there is no specialist batter in the squad, but an all-rounder is available, then that player is only allowed to bat. A specialist bowler cannot substitute for a specialist batter. The first call on the provision occurred soon after its introduction. In August 2019, a specialist Australian batter was concussed in a Test with England at Lords and was replaced with a like-for-like substitute.

Prior to this sensible concussion provision, any injury incurred by a player during a match, sufficient to lead to him or her to leave the field either for the remainder of the match or for a shorter time, triggered the use of the “12th player.” Traditionally, this was the player, or one of the players, who was not selected in the starting lineup. Given that the player may not be happy to be omitted, there was no guarantee that the duties would be conducted with good grace and efficiency. One very famous player, who was not selected for the starting 11 when first picked for his country, is rumored to have paid someone else to perform his duties.

Since the 12th player is not permitted to either bat or bowl in the match, the duties are mostly unglamorous. They involve taking out replacement equipment, including bats, messages from coach and/or captain, drinks, ensuring that the team bath has been run to proper temperature, that drinks have been procured for consumption at the end of the day’s play, and sympathizing with a colleague who has been dismissed harshly or cheaply. One legend of the game is rumored to have had a permanent 12th man one season when captaining a county side because he was concerned with horse racing. The messages exchanged in the middle were mainly about the results of a race and which horse to select for another race.

On occasion, fate strikes a 12th player. This could be a catch or an outstanding or calamitous piece of fielding. One famous example occurred at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in 2005, when England’s substitute fielder pounced on the ball at cover, threw down the stumps, to leave a well-set Australian captain out of his ground. The moment irked the Australian for years, even more so as it was a decisive one in the game.

In recent years, there has been a tendency for the 12th player to be someone on the fringe of the team, so as to provide him or her with a taste of the action. In addition, some of the tasks have changed. Formal, timed, drinks breaks are now common, communal baths are less common, and additional ways of communicating messages exist. The BCCI’s proposal for IPL 2023 will go beyond the role of the 12th player as a partial substitute, effectively severing their traditional link as a substitute fielder.

Although the details of the BCCI’s scheme have not yet been revealed, it is thought likely to follow the lines of the Impact Player system used in the 2022 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, India’s domestic T20 competition. At the toss, each team was able to name four substitutes, one of whom could replace any member of the starting team at any point before the end of the 14th over of either innings. The player was able to replace someone who had already been dismissed and bat, as long as no more than 11 players batted. Alternatively, a bowler who had already delivered some overs, could be replaced, with the substitute allowed a full quota of four overs.

There have been previous experiments with substitute systems. Super subs were introduced into one-day internationals, or ODIs, by the ICC in 2005. Under this, a substitute, who had to be named prior to the toss, was a direct replacement for another player. If the original player had been dismissed, the substitute could not bat and could only bowl the number of overs that the original player had not delivered. The system proved to be unpopular with players. It was judged that sides who were already advantaged by winning the toss also benefitted from using their substitute to far greater effect. The experiment was ended in March 2006.

Australia’s Big Bash League experimented with an X Factor system in 2020, whereby teams were able to substitute a member of the starting team after 10 overs of the first innings if the player had not already batted or bowled more than one over. Utilization of the substitute system has been infrequent, suggesting a lack of traction. It has been dropped for the 2022/23 tournament. This flies in the face of the BCCI’s direction of travel and may represent a divergence in T20 innovation philosophy between boards, players and viewers in different countries. It will be fascinating to follow how this plays out in the forthcoming global evolution of T20 franchise cricket.

World’s elite runners to contest Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022

World’s elite runners to contest Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022
Updated 08 December 2022

World’s elite runners to contest Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022

World’s elite runners to contest Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022
  • Kenyan duo Daniel Kibet and Dickson Chumba confirmed for men’s race
  • Ethiopia’s former world marathon champion Mare Dibaba and Kenya’s Angela Tanui will line up in the women’s event

ABU DHABI: Some of the world’s leading distance runners will participate in this year’s ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon on Dec. 17, it has been revealed by the organizers.

Kenya’s Daniel Kibet, winner of the 2019 Istanbul Marathon and second-place finisher at this year’s Milan Marathon, has confirmed his place on the starting line for the fourth edition of the race in less than two weeks. He will be joined by compatriot Dickson Chumba, who has won two of the World Marathon Majors (Tokyo in 2014 and 2018, and Chicago in 2015).

Meanwhile, the women’s race will feature 2015 Marathon World Champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Mare Dibaba, from Ethiopia, alongside Angela Tanui, from Kenya, who won the Amsterdam Marathon in 2021 and finished fourth and second respectively in the 2022 Tokyo Marathon and 2019 Vienna Marathon.

A record 20,000 runners are expected to line up for this year’s event, which includes a new route for the 42.2km race. The day also features other contests including the marathon relay (two runners completing 21.1km each), and 10km, 5km and 2.5km runs. The event starts in front of ADNOC’s headquarters, and the runners will pass a host of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

Aref Al-Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “Since its inception, the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon has attracted interest from the world’s elite marathon runners who view our event as a great way to finish their season and begin preparations for next year. The caliber of elites for this year’s race speaks volumes of how quickly Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi ADNOC Marathon have earned a reputation on the world’s long-distance running map.

“Attracting more than 20,000 participants is clear evidence of the event’s distinguished position in the community and its ability to enhance collective efforts and encourage healthy and active lifestyles. The participation is still open across all distances and accessible to participants of all abilities.”

Meanwhile, the race organizers have revealed a new medal design for those who complete the various races. The medal will incorporate a reference to the expected record number of participants due to take part this year.

Celtics rout Suns in NBA showdown, Morant has triple double in Memphis win

Celtics rout Suns in NBA showdown, Morant has triple double in Memphis win
Updated 08 December 2022

Celtics rout Suns in NBA showdown, Morant has triple double in Memphis win

Celtics rout Suns in NBA showdown, Morant has triple double in Memphis win
  • Simone Fontecchio made the winning basket to give Utah a 124-123 home victory over Golden State Warriors

WASHINGTON: Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum turned a matchup of NBA conference leaders into a rout on Wednesday while Ja Morant’s triple double sparked the Memphis Grizzlies over Oklahoma City.

Tatum and Brown each scored 25 points as the Celtics improved the NBA’s best record to 21-5 with a 125-98 blowout victory at Western Conference leader Phoenix.

Boston stayed two games atop Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference while Phoenix fell to 16-9 and a half-game behind New Orleans (16-8) in the West.

The Suns trailed 69-42 at halftime, their largest deficit of the season to that point, and by as many as 45 points in the third quarter.

“We were just really connected,” Tatum said. “We’re just making the right plays. We hit a lot of shots tonight.”

The Celtics, who lost to Golden State in last season’s NBA Finals, improved to 10-3 on the road.

“We’re happy with the way we’re playing,” Tatum said. “But we’re far from satisfied. This doesn’t mean anything if we don’t get back to where we want to get to (the NBA Finals) and get over that hump.

“It’s a long process but we’re trending in the right direction.”

Phoenix welcomed back guard Chris Paul, who missed a month with a heel injury. He had four points, four rebounds and four assists.

Morant, meanwhile, delivered a triple double with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists to lead host Memphis over the Thunder 123-102.

It was a club-record sixth career triple double for the 23-year-old US guard.

“It means a lot,” Morant said. “A lot of credit goes to my teammates and my coaches putting me in positions to excel at a high level.

“We knew rebounding was important. I took it upon myself early on, I think I had seven early. Every other stat was from my teammates. Them knocking down shots opened up shots for me on the floor as well.”

Memphis allowed only 15 points in the fourth quarter.

“It was pretty much just locking in, getting stops and rebounds,” Morant said. “We’ve got to continue fighting and play hard.”

Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 35 points and added six rebounds and seven assists while Jrue Holiday contributed 31 points in Milwaukee’s 126-113 victory over visiting Sacramento. The Bucks improved the NBA’s second-best record to 18-6.

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 33 points with nine assists, five rebounds and four blocked shots while Kevin Durant added 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Brooklyn’s 122-116 home victory over Charlotte.

Simone Fontecchio made the winning basket with 1.4 seconds remaining to give Utah a 124-123 home victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Golden State’s Jordan Poole scored a game-high 36 points but his bad pass set up the Italian forward’s decisive inside shot.

Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 22 points while Fontecchio added 18 off the bench.

Zion Williamson scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to spark New Orleans over Detroit 104-98. The host Pelicans took the West lead with their fifth consecutive victory.

D’Angelo Russell scored a game-high 28 points and Frenchman Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 21 rebounds to power Minnesota’s 121-115 home win over Indiana.

Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet each scored 25 points to lead the Toronto Raptors over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 126-113.

The Lakers, without Anthony Davis due to illness and LeBron James with a sore ankle, were led by German guard Dennis Schroder’s 18 points.

Orlando’s Paolo Banchero made six free throws in the last seven seconds of overtime to give the Magic a 116-111 home triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Italian-American Banchero scored a game-high 23 points and went 13-of-14 from the free throw line.

Chicago defeated visiting Washington 115-111 behind 27 points from DeMar DeRozan while Julius Randle had 34 points and 17 rebounds to lead New York over visiting Atlanta 113-89.