Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow

Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev celebrates winning his first round match against Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis at the French Open — Roland Garros, in Paris on Tuesday. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 May 2022

Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow

Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow
  • Medvedev routed Argentina's 103rd-ranked Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 35 winners and eight breaks of serve
  • "I love Roland Garros, especially since last year," said Medvedev

PARIS: World number two Daniil Medvedev eased into the French Open second round on Tuesday as Denmark’s Holger Rune reminded Roland Garros that Carlos Alcaraz is not the only teenager dreaming of the title.
Medvedev, who came into Paris with just one match on clay this year following hernia surgery, routed Argentina’s 103rd-ranked Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 35 winners and eight breaks of serve.
“I love Roland Garros, especially since last year,” said Medvedev, who had lost in the opening round on his first four trips to Paris before reaching the quarter-finals in 2021. “I hope this year I can go further.”
Rune, 19 and just a week older than the highly-rated Alcaraz, marked his main draw debut with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) dismissal of 14th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Rune, the boys champion in 2019 and a former world junior number one, entered Paris at a career-high 40 having started 2021 outside of the top 400.
In the current clay season, he won his first title in Munich, beating world number three Alexander Zverev on the way.
Shapovalov committed 53 unforced errors in a tie played at breakneck speed.
“I didn’t really show up today but Holger played great tennis,” said Shapovalov, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2021.
Later Tuesday, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost last year’s final to Novak Djokovic after leading two sets to love, has a dangerous assignment against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the night session on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The 20-year-old, ranked 66, also led Djokovic by two sets in the last 16 in 2021 before injury curtailed his challenge.
This year on clay he made the quarter-finals in Marrakech and third round at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid where he was forced to retire against world number three Alexander Zverev.
However, Tsitsipas is enjoying an impressive clay court season in which he has successfully defended his Monte Carlo title, was runner-up in Rome and made the semifinals in Madrid.
The Greek also enjoys a season-leading 31 wins on the tour this year.

Two former women’s champions were also in action.
Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, who is working with Serena Williams’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou, faces Nastasja Schunk, an 18-year-old lucky loser from qualifying, ranked at 165 in the world.
Jelena Ostapenko, who was a shock Roland Garros winner in 2017, defeated Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-4 to end a five-match losing streak having started the year winning 14 of 18.
Ostapenko became the latest player to cast doubt on her appearance at Wimbledon after the tournament was stripped of ranking points in response to its banning of Russian and Belarusian players.
“If there are no points, I’m not really sure what I’m going to,” said the Latvian.
“I think maybe they are going to change their mind. I’m not sure about points. But I think a lot of things may happen within the next week or two weeks.”
Spain’s world number four Paula Badosa, a quarter-finalist in 2021, takes on France’s Fiona Ferro.
Before that match on Court Philippe Chatrier, French fans will possibly bid farewell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the former world number five who will retire once his French Open campaign ends.
Tsonga, unseeded, lost the 2008 Australian Open final to Djokovic as the Serb claimed the first of his 20 Grand Slam titles.
He made it to the semifinals twice at both the French Open and Wimbledon and finished runner-up to Roger Federer at the ATP Finals in 2011.
“It’s a moment which I am sure will be full of emotion,” said the 37-year-old who takes on eighth seed Casper Ruud, the champion in Geneva at the weekend.


Marseille’s plans rocked as coach Jorge Sampaoli leaves club

Marseille’s plans rocked as coach Jorge Sampaoli leaves club
Updated 5 sec ago

Marseille’s plans rocked as coach Jorge Sampaoli leaves club

Marseille’s plans rocked as coach Jorge Sampaoli leaves club
MARSEILLE, France: Marseille’s preparations for next season were rocked Friday as coach Jorge Sampaoli left by mutual consent.
Sampaoli was popular with the club’s very demanding fans and guided 1993 Champions League winner Marseille back into the competition, after the southern club finished second in the French league to Paris Saint-Germain.
“Marseille and Jorge Sampaoli announce a mutual decision to end their collaboration,” the club said in a statement. “Since arriving in Marseille he invested himself fully in putting into a place a style of play and a fighting spirit which corresponded to Marseille.”
The 62-year-old Argentine had demanded a strong summer recruitment drive from club president Pablo Longoria and reportedly was unhappy with a lack of strong signings so far.
Sampaoli took over from Andre Villas-Boas midway through the 2020-21 campaign and the former Argentina coach quickly turned the club’s fortunes around.
The team’s work rate rose sharply as attitudes improved, and he started to get the best out of veteran playmaker Dimitri Payet again.
“Marseille wish to sincerely and very warmly thank Jorge Sampaoli for his work. After 16 months of working together, this work helped the club step up a level,” Marseille said in a statement. “We’re satisfied with how far we’ve come and the emotions we experienced together, but after a long period of reflection the two parties agreed to end this period.”

US basketball star Griner goes on trial in Russia on drug charges

US basketball star Griner goes on trial in Russia on drug charges
Updated 47 min 44 sec ago

US basketball star Griner goes on trial in Russia on drug charges

US basketball star Griner goes on trial in Russia on drug charges
  • The case was brought after Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in Griner's luggage at a Moscow airport in February
  • The 31-year-old athlete was seen arriving at Khimki City Court in handcuffs shortly after noon Moscow time on Friday

KHIMKI, Russia: US basketball star Brittney Griner went on trial in a court on the outskirts of Moscow on Friday to face drug charges that could see her face up to 10 years in prison.
The case, which coincides with fraught relations between Moscow and Washington over the conflict in Ukraine, was brought after Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in Griner’s luggage at a Moscow airport in February.
Griner, a star in the US-based Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), was arrested and charged with smuggling a large quantity of drugs.
The 31-year-old athlete was seen arriving at Khimki City Court in handcuffs shortly after noon Moscow time (0900 GMT) on Friday, wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt and sneakers without laces, which are forbidden in Russian jails.
The prosecutor told Griner that she was being charged with intentionally transporting narcotics. Griner spoke to say she understood the charges.
Three employees of the US embassy, including deputy of chief of mission Elizabeth Rood, were present in the courtroom. Griner was seated in a cage with a zip-lock bag of cookies and a bottle of mineral water.
Griner told a Reuters reporter she was finding detention hard because she was unable to speak Russian, and that she was unable to fully keep up with physical fitness, only general exercises such as stretching.
Her lawyers told Reuters they would not say yet whether or not she would be pleading guilty.

’ILLEGAL DRUGS’
Asked about the case, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied it was politically motivated.
“I can only operate with known facts, and the facts indicate that the eminent athlete was detained with illegal drugs that contained narcotic substances. There are articles in Russian legislation that provide for punishment for such crimes,” he told reporters. “Only the court can pass a verdict.”
US officials and a score of athletes have called for the release of Griner — or “BG” as she is known to basketball fans. They say she has been wrongfully detained and should be immediately returned to her family in the United States.
Griner’s detention also prompted concerns that Moscow could use the two-time Olympic gold medallist to negotiate the release of a high-profile Russian in US custody.
The Kremlin has said that Griner violated Russian laws and denied she was being held hostage amid Russia’s stand-off with the United States.
Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury, had played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia during the WNBA off-season, like several other US players offered lucrative contracts by the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League.
However some have now left the Russian league, amid Griner’s detention and Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
Griner’s partner, Cherelle Griner, told CNN in an interview on Thursday evening that she was hoping for a meeting with US President Joe Biden.
“I would love for him to tell me he cares,” Cherelle Griner said.
The US government has warned citizens against traveling to Russia in light of the “potential for harassment against US citizens by Russian government security officials.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week there was “no higher priority” than bringing home Griner and other Americans “illegally detained” abroad.


YouTube star Logan Paul signs with WWE

YouTube star Logan Paul signs with WWE
Updated 01 July 2022

YouTube star Logan Paul signs with WWE

YouTube star Logan Paul signs with WWE
  • The 27-year-old seeks revenge on former WrestleMania 38 partner The Miz

RIYADH: Logan Paul has officially become a member of the WWE locker room after signing a contract with the company this week.

The renowned American YouTuber took to social media to announce the news by sharing photos of his visit to the WWE headquarters. Paul was pictured signing his contract alongside Paul Levesque, aka Triple H, who serves as the executive vice president for Global Talent Strategy & Development, and his wife Stephanie McMahon who is interim chief executive officer for the WWE.

Paul didn’t waste any time and delivered a message to The Miz, Mike Mizanin, following their run-in at WrestleMania 38.

The social media star had previously teamed up with The Miz to take on the legendary masked luchador superstar Rey Mysterio and his son Dominik at the WWE showpiece event. Fans were impressed by his performance, as the 27-year-old mocked the late legend Eddie Guerrero with the Three Amigos and the Frog Splash.

Paul and The Miz emerged victorious on WrestleMania 38’s first night, largely thanks to the newcomer’s efforts.

However, after their The Showcase of the Immortals victory over the Mysterios, The Miz dropped Paul with a Skull-Crushing Finale. After much speculation that they might once again team up, Paul made it clear he’s out for payback at SummerSlam on July 30.

Last year, Paul attempted to kickstart a boxing career as he took on Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition. He managed to go the distance with the former world champion as the contest ended in a tie. Mayweather’s superior boxing was reflected by the CompuBox punch stats, with the tired champion having landed 43 punches of 107 thrown (40.2 percent), compared to Paul’s 28 landed of 217 thrown (12.9 percent).

On Feb. 3, 2018, following his white-collar amateur boxing match with Joe Weller, a British YouTuber who goes by the name of KSI (real name Olajide Olayinka Williams “JJ” Olatunji) challenged Paul to two boxing matches in which Logan and his brother Jake would fight KSI and his younger brother, Deji. While Jake Paul won his match, Logan’s ended in a draw.

In November 2019, Paul made his professional boxing debut in a rematch against KSI. The bout consisted of six three-minute rounds, and resulted in a win for KSI via split decision, with two judges scoring the fight 57–54 and 56–55 for KSI, and one judge scoring it 56–55 in favor of Paul.


Semi-automated offside technology to be used at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar

Semi-automated offside technology to be used at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar
Semi-automated offside technology will be introduced at Qatar 2022. (FIFA)
Updated 01 July 2022

Semi-automated offside technology to be used at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar

Semi-automated offside technology to be used at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar
  • System provides automated offside alert to video match officials, has been successfully tested at previous FIFA tournaments
  • 3-D animation improves communication to in-stadium fans, TV viewers

RIYADH: FIFA officials have announced that semi-automated offside technology will be used at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar that kicks off on Nov. 21.

Bosses at football’s international governing body said the system would offer a support tool for video match officials and the on-field referee to help them make faster, more accurate, and more reproducible offside decisions on the biggest stage of all.

Following the successful use of video assistant referee technology at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, FIFA President Gianni Infantino declared in The Vision 2020-23 that his federation would strive to harness the full potential of technology in football and further enhance VAR.

He said: “At the FIFA World Cup in 2018, FIFA took the brave step to use VAR technology on the world’s biggest stage, and it has proven to be an undisputable success.

“Semi-automated offside technology is an evolution of the VAR systems that have been implemented across the world. This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing to provide the very best for the teams, players, and fans who will be heading to Qatar later this year.

“And FIFA is proud of this work, as we look forward to the world seeing the benefits of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup 2022.

“FIFA is committed to harnessing technology to improve the game of football at all levels, and the use of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup in 2022 is the clearest possible evidence,” Infantino added.

By working with adidas and various partners, and especially with the Working Group for Innovation Excellence and technology providers, FIFA has spent the last few years further improving the VAR system, including the use of semi-automated offside technology.

The new technology uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of the stadium to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player, 50 times per second, calculating their exact position on the pitch. The 29 collected data points include all limbs and extremities that are relevant for making offside calls.

Al Rihla, adidas’ official match ball for Qatar 2022, will provide a further vital element for the detection of tight offside incidents as an inertial measurement unit sensor will be placed inside the ball. This sensor, positioned in the center of the ball, sends ball data to the video operation room 500 times per second, allowing a very precise detection of the kick point.

By combining the limb- and ball-tracking data and applying artificial intelligence, the new technology provides an automated offside alert to the video match officials inside the video operation room whenever the ball is received by an attacker who was in an offside position at the moment the ball was played by a team-mate.

Before informing the on-field referee, the video match officials validate the proposed decision by manually checking the automatically selected kick point and the automatically created offside line, which is based on the calculated positions of the players’ limbs. This process happens within a few seconds and means that offside decisions can be made faster and more accurately.

After the decision has been confirmed by the video match officials and the referee on the pitch, the exact same positional data points that were used to make the decision are then generated into a 3-D animation that perfectly details the position of the players’ limbs at the moment the ball was played. This 3-D animation, which will always show the best possible perspectives for an offside situation, will then be shown on the giant screens in the stadium and will also be made available to FIFA’s broadcast partners to inform all spectators in the clearest possible way.

The workflow of semi-automated offside technology and the connected ball technology have been successfully trialed at numerous test events and live at FIFA tournaments, including the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 and the FIFA Club World Cup 2021.

More tests will be conducted in the coming months to fine-tune the system before a global standard is implemented to ensure that the new technology can be used in the world of football.

All details on the semi-automated offside technology set-up and the connected ball technology will be presented to the teams that have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022 at the Team Workshop in Doha on July 4 and 5 and then shared with the public.

Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, said: “We expect that semi-automated offside technology can take us a step further. We are aware that sometimes the process to check a possible offside takes too long, especially when the offside incident is very tight.

“The testing has been a major success and we are very confident that, in Qatar, we will have a very valuable support tool to help referees and assistant referees make the best and most correct decision on the field of play.

“I know that someone called it robot offside; it’s not. The referees and the assistant referees are still responsible for the decision on the field of play,” he added.


Cosmin Contra apologizes to Al-Ittihad fans for SPL title race collapse, promises strong comeback next season

Cosmin Contra apologizes to Al-Ittihad fans for SPL title race collapse, promises strong comeback next season
Cosmin Contra has apologized to Al-Ittihad for the club's late SPL title race. (Arriyadiyah)
Updated 01 July 2022

Cosmin Contra apologizes to Al-Ittihad fans for SPL title race collapse, promises strong comeback next season

Cosmin Contra apologizes to Al-Ittihad fans for SPL title race collapse, promises strong comeback next season
  • Romanian coach’s team blew 16-point February lead over Al-Hilal to lose title by 2 points on last day of season

RIYADH: Al-Ittihad coach Cosmin Contra has apologised to club supporters for his team’s late collapse in the 2021-22 Saudi Pro League title race which allowed Al-Hilal to claim a record-extending 18th championship.

And the Romanian coach promised that the Jeddah club would return stronger in the coming season.

In February, the 46-year-old manager’s team were 16 points clear of the Riyadh giants, but a poor run of form, including two defeats to Al-Hilal, saw them lose the title by two points on the last day of the campaign.

Writing on his official Twitter account, Contra said: “I would like to apologize that we let you down at the last minute, and although we did our best, we did not live up to the aspirations of our fans.”

He highlighted that great champions bounce back from big disappointments by learning from their mistakes. “Al-Ittihad will return next season stronger to achieve the title that we have been waiting for a long time,” he added.

In his tweets, Contra finished by thanking Al-Ittihad fans for the support they had provided to the team throughout the season.