Djokovic loses world number one ranking to Medvedev in Dubai shock

Djokovic loses world number one ranking to Medvedev in Dubai shock
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts after he lost a point against Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely during a quarterfinal match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai on Thursday. (AP)
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Updated 24 February 2022

Djokovic loses world number one ranking to Medvedev in Dubai shock

Djokovic loses world number one ranking to Medvedev in Dubai shock
  • Djokovic needed to at least reach the semi-finals in the Emirates to try and stop Daniil Medvedev from replacing him at the top of the rankings
  • US Open champion Medvedev becomes the third Russian man after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin to ascend to the world number one spot

DUBAI: Novak Djokovic lost his Dubai quarter-final and his world number one ranking in one go on Thursday as he suffered a 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) upset at the hands of Czech world number 123 Jiri Vesely.
Competing in his first tournament of the season, and first since getting deported from Australia, Djokovic needed to at least reach the semifinals in the Emirates to try and stop Daniil Medvedev from replacing him at the top of the rankings.
But Vesely had other ideas as the left-handed qualifier improved his career record against Djokovic to 2-0 — a result that will see Medvedev become the first man since 2004 outside the “Big Four” — Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray — to occupy the number one ranking on Monday.
Djokovic, who has spent a record 361 weeks as the world number one, said at the start of the tournament that he “would be the first to congratulate” Medvedev, if the Russian succeeded in his quest for the summit.
US Open champion Medvedev, currently involved in the Acapulco tournament, becomes the third Russian man after Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin to ascend to the world number one spot.
Vesely, a former junior number one, has won five matches in Dubai so far this week, making it through qualifying to reach his first tour-level semifinal since Pune in 2020.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I never thought I would really have a chance against Novak, he’s one of the greatest of all time, if not the best,” he said.
“After the last 12 months, I’ve been going through... it’s unbelievable, I have so many emotions inside, it’s hard to describe, it’s just an amazing feeling,” added Vesely, who next takes on Denis Shapovalov or Ricardas Berankis.
The 28-year-old came out victorious in his only previous meeting with Djokovic, defeating the Serb on the clay courts of Monte Carlo back in 2016.
Vesely started the match by breaking Djokovic on his way to a 2-0 lead.
He lost his advantage as the top seed struck back but some clever drop shots and some tricky lefty serves saw the towering Czech inch ahead once again and he served out the opening set on the 47-minute mark.
A down-the-line backhand drive earned Vesely a break in the seventh game of the second set but he wobbled while serving for the victory as Djokovic pegged him back to level for 5-5.
Vesely raced to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreak and soon completed a huge surprise win over the five-time Dubai champion.
Earlier on Center Court, second seed Andrey Rublev advanced to his third semifinal in as many weeks with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over American Mackenzie McDonald.
Contesting a 12th consecutive quarter-final at the ATP 500 level, Rublev recovered from a poor first-set performance against McDonald to reach the Dubai semifinals for a second year in a row.
The 24-year-old Russian will next face off with fifth seeded Hubert Hurkacz, who eased past Italian fourth seed Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-3 in 84 minutes.
“Today I was thinking that for sure it’s over, but somehow I was just trying to tell myself, ‘Just keep fighting and we’ll see what happens’,” said an exhausted Rublev, who won both singles and doubles titles in Marseille last weekend.
“I lost twice to Hurkacz. It will be interesting for me. In the situation I am right now, completely tired, last times I lost against him, I have nothing to lose. I will try to go for it and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”


Vardy must pay up to $1.7 million after losing UK ‘WAGatha Christie’ libel case

Vardy must pay up to $1.7 million after losing UK ‘WAGatha Christie’ libel case
Updated 04 October 2022

Vardy must pay up to $1.7 million after losing UK ‘WAGatha Christie’ libel case

Vardy must pay up to $1.7 million after losing UK ‘WAGatha Christie’ libel case
  • Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, had sued Rooney for libel after being publicly accused of leaking stories about her
  • On Tuesday, Vardy was ordered to pay 90% of Rooney's legal costs of about 1.67 million pounds

LONDON: Coleen Rooney, wife of ex-England soccer captain Wayne Rooney, will receive up to 1.5 million pounds ($1.7 million) in legal fees from the spouse of one of her husband’s former teammates after winning her high-profile libel case, a judge has ruled.
Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, had sued Rooney for libel after being publicly accused of leaking stories about her to the Sun tabloid.
In July, Judge Karen Steyn ruled that Rooney, 36, had proved her allegation was “substantially true” and that Vardy, 40, knew and condoned private details being leaked to the Sun by her agent.
On Tuesday, Vardy, who said the judge had got it wrong, was ordered to pay 90 percent of Rooney’s legal costs of about 1.67 million pounds, with 800,000 to be paid by the middle of November.
The case has drawn in the public and media with its mix of glamor, soccer, and amateur sleuthing with Rooney turning detective to track down the culprit behind the leaks.
She said she had blocked everyone from viewing her Instagram account except one person and then posted a series of false stories to see whether they leaked out, which they did.
“It’s ... Rebekah Vardy’s account,” she posted on social media, which saw Rooney dubbed “WAGatha Christie,” a reference to the “WAG” moniker given to the glamorous group of footballers’ “wives and girlfriends.”
During the trial, the court was shown message exchanges between Vardy and her agent, which included derogatory remarks about Rooney and talk of leaking stories.
Rooney’s lawyer said Vardy deleted other media files and messages, while the agent’s phone ended up at the bottom of the North Sea after she said she accidentally dropped it over the side of a boat.
“In my judgment, what takes this case out of the norm in a way which compels the conclusion that I should make an order for indemnity costs is that in my judgment following the trial I found that the claimant (and also her former agent) had deliberately deleted or destroyed evidence,” Steyn said.


Spain says would support Ukraine joining its 2030 soccer World Cup bid with Portugal

Spain says would support Ukraine joining its 2030 soccer World Cup bid with Portugal
Updated 04 October 2022

Spain says would support Ukraine joining its 2030 soccer World Cup bid with Portugal

Spain says would support Ukraine joining its 2030 soccer World Cup bid with Portugal
  • Ukraine is set to join Spain and Portugal in their bid to host the soccer World Cup in 2030

MADRID: Spain would support Ukraine joining its 2030 soccer World Cup hosting bid with Portugal, government spokeswoman Isabel Rodriguez said on Tuesday, asked about a report in The Times.
The Times reported on Monday that Ukraine is set to join Spain and Portugal in their bid to host the soccer World Cup in 2030.
The soccer chiefs of both Spain and Portugal will hold a news conference at European governing body UEFA’s headquarters in Switzerland on Wednesday, authorities said.


Sebastien Loeb notches vital stage win to lead in Morocco rally

Sebastien Loeb notches vital stage win to lead in Morocco rally
Updated 04 October 2022

Sebastien Loeb notches vital stage win to lead in Morocco rally

Sebastien Loeb notches vital stage win to lead in Morocco rally
  • Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver grabs advantage in world title race as Qatar’s Al-Attiyah and Saudi’s Al-Rajhi hit trouble
  • Lying second at the end of the first desert stage, Al-Attiyah plunged out of contention after three punctures forced him to wait for assistance

AGADIR: Sebastien Loeb powered his way to a vital stage victory for Bahrain Raid Xtreme to take the lead in the Rallye du Maroc, as the Prodrive Hunters dominated proceedings in the Western Sahara.

The nine-time World Rally champion won the 315 km competitive section from Agadir to Tan-Tan on Monday by 10 minutes 15 seconds from BRX teammate Orly Terranova, with Guerlain Chicherit in another Hunter completing the top three on a dramatic day in Morocco.

The result lifted Loeb from seventh overnight into an outright lead by eight seconds from Terranova, with Chicherit just 4:12 away in third place overall.

Most significantly, the French star finished the day with a massive 33:18 advantage over Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, his fierce rival in the battle to become the first World Rally-Raid (W2RC) champion.

While the trio of Prodrive Hunters had all lost ground through a combination of mechanical, tire and navigational problems on the previous leg, this time it was Al-Attiyah and Saudi Arabia’s overnight leader Yazeed Al-Rajhi who found trouble.

Lying second at the end of the first desert stage, Al-Attiyah plunged out of contention after three punctures forced him to wait for assistance, while the same problem late on the stage dropped Al-Rajhi to fourth overall.

For the second day running, Chicherit impressed on his first competitive drive in the Hunter, setting the pace on the early part of the stage.

It was then Loeb’s turn to increase the power and take the stage lead before the halfway point, with Terranova also making good progress to take the Hunters to the top three positions, before the Argentine moved ahead of Chicherit.

Monday’s leg had begun with a 119-km journey from Tan-Tan to the start of the rally’s second desert stage, which included a variety of terrain up to a large plateau at the midway point, followed by a succession of dunes.

The stage finished at the new Laayoune bivouac, located on an imposing site overlooking a wadi, where the Rallye du Maroc set up camp for two nights. Tuesday's 299-km third desert stage follows, with another two set to take place before the finish in Agadir on Thursday.


World No. 3 Casper Ruud to join Carlos Alcaraz at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

World No. 3 Casper Ruud to join Carlos Alcaraz at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
Updated 04 October 2022

World No. 3 Casper Ruud to join Carlos Alcaraz at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

World No. 3 Casper Ruud to join Carlos Alcaraz at Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
  • The Norwegian is the latest name added to the Dec. 16-18 tournament at the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City
  • Just months after facing off in the US Open final, Ruud and Alcaraz could face each other again in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI: Just a day after announcing World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz will make his Middle East debut at this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship in December, organizers have revealed World No. 3 Casper Ruud will join the Spaniard in making his first appearance in Abu Dhabi.

Ruud is coming off a stellar season in which he made it to two Grand Slam finals and secured three ATP Tour wins. After reaching the French Open final in June, he reached the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows where he was narrowly beaten in a thrilling match by Alcaraz.

The 23-year-old Norwegian will arrive in the UAE capital aiming for a maiden MWTC title. In securing the World No. 2 ranking last month, he became the highest-ranked Norwegian tennis player in history. He has nine ATP Tour singles career titles and is looking forward to playing on the hard court at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City.

“I’m really looking forward to visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time to contest the Mubadala World Tennis Championship,” said Ruud. “It’s been a tournament on my radar for some time and I know that the level of tennis is going to be of the highest quality. I’m excited to be involved and play in front of my fans over there in the UAE.”

John Lickrish, CEO, Flash Entertainment, added: “We are delighted to confirm Casper Ruud will be contesting this year’s Championship. To have the World No. 1 and No. 3, and the next generation of tennis superstars, is a real coup for the UAE capital and shows the popularity of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Just last month, these two players were contesting the final of the US Open and now there is every chance they could face each other in Abu Dhabi. That is what we are always looking to produce — an event featuring the very best.”

Ruud, Alcaraz, and female pair Ons Jabeur and Emma Raducanu will be joined by four remaining male players in the event’s star-studded line-up, with one more being announced tomorrow.

Celebrating its 14th edition this year, the MWTC will take place from Dec. 16-18 at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City. As well as witnessing a field comprising six of the world’s top male players, the two female players will face off on the opening day.


Al-Shabab’s Krychowiak voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week after two-goal performance

Al-Shabab’s Krychowiak voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week after two-goal performance
Updated 04 October 2022

Al-Shabab’s Krychowiak voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week after two-goal performance

Al-Shabab’s Krychowiak voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week after two-goal performance
  • Polish midfielder scored twice as league leaders maintained perfect start to season with 2-1 win over Al-Fayha

Al-Shabab’s Grzegorz Krychowiak has been voted Roshn Saudi League player of the week by statistical website SofaScore after a match-winning performance in Round 5 of the season.

The Polish midfielder, on loan from Major League Soccer club New York City FC, managed a rating of 8.6 after scoring two goals from outside the penalty in his team’s 2-1 win over Al-Fayha on Sunday.

Team of the week for Round 5 of the Roshn Saudi League. (SofaScore)

The team of the week included Damac goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba, who scored a historic goal in the 2-0 win over Al-Tai; defenders Saeed Al-Mowalad (Al-Ettifaq), Mohammed Salem (Al-Raed), Djamel Benlamri (Al-Khaleej) and Tawfiq Buhumaid (Al-Fateh); midfielders Aschraf El Mahdioui (Al-Taawoun), Faycal Fajr (Al-Wehda), Lucas Souza (Al-Khaleej), Abdullah Al-Ammar (Damac) and Krychowiak; and finally Alexandru Mitrita (Al-Raed) in attack.

The fifth of the Rosh Saudi League concluded with Al-Shabab top of the table with a maximum of 15 points, Al-Hilal in second with 12 and Al-Ittihad in third with 11.