Swiatek racks up 31st straight win as French Open gets Nordic twist

Swiatek racks up 31st straight win as French Open gets Nordic twist
Poland's Iga Swiatek returns to Montenegro's Danka Kovinic during their women's singles match on Day 7 of the French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 28, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 29 May 2022

Swiatek racks up 31st straight win as French Open gets Nordic twist

Swiatek racks up 31st straight win as French Open gets Nordic twist
  • Swiatek’s winning streak is the best since Serena Williams’s 34 successive victories in 2013

PARIS: World No. 1 Iga Swiatek was the only top 10 women’s seed left standing at the French Open on Saturday as Casper Ruud and Holger Rune gave Roland Garros a rare Nordic twist with landmark performances.

Swiatek, the 2020 champion, dropped serve three times against 95th-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro before sealing a 6-3, 7-5 third round victory, her 31st successive win.

“I wanted to play really aggressively but sometimes I felt I was hitting with too much power and it was hard to control,” said the 20-year-old Pole.

Swiatek’s winning streak is the best since Serena Williams’s 34 successive victories in 2013.

She next faces Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen who made the last 16 on her debut when French veteran Alize Cornet, playing in her 61st consecutive Grand Slam, retired with a leg injury, trailing 6-0, 3-0.

Having stunned 2018 champion Simona Halep in the second round, Zheng becomes only the fourth Chinese woman to make the fourth round in Paris where compatriot Li Na captured her landmark Slam title in 2011.

“I always knew I had the level to do well, now I just want to keep going,” said the 19-year-old Zheng, ranked at 74.

Cornet, the last Frenchwoman in the draw, was booed off by the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd.

“It hurt more than my injury,” she said.

Spain’s Paula Badosa, who made the quarterfinals in 2021, retired due to a calf injury when she was trailing Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 2-1.

Aryna Sabalenka, the seventh seed, slipped to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 defeat against Italy’s Camila Giorgi.

The exits of Badosa and Sabalenka meant that for the first time in the Open era only one top 10 seed has survived to the fourth round.

In stark contrast, nine of the top 10 men’s seeds have made the second week.

Eighth-seeded Casper Ruud became the first Norwegian man to reach the last 16 with a 6-2, 6-7 (3/7), 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.

Ruud hit 39 winners and goes on to face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year who is also in the last 16 in Paris for the first time.

Meanwhile, Holger Rune became the first Danish man in the Roland Garros fourth round since 1959 when he knocked out France’s last man, Hugo Gaston.

Rune, 19, and ranked at 40, breezed to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win and next faces 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The last Danish man to make a Slam fourth round was Kenneth Carlsen at the 1993 Australian Open.

Fourth seed Tsitsipas needed just 92 minutes to clinch a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over 95th-ranked Mikael Ymer.

The Greek star had to come back from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti and then needed four hours and four sets to see off 134th-ranked qualifier Zdenek Kolar in his first two outings.

However, the 23-year-old was never troubled on Saturday, breaking his Swedish opponent six times.

“It was different from my first two matches. The conditions were warmer and drier, which suited me better,” said Tsitsipas after a season-leading 34th win.

World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev eased through by defeating Serbian 28th seed Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

Medvedev has not dropped a set in three rounds and will next play former US Open champion Marin Cilic who ended 37-year-old Gilles Simon’s 17-year-old Roland Garros career with a 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 win.

Medvedev fell in the opening round on his first four trips to Paris before reaching the quarterfinals a year ago.

“It was really hard, everyone was asking how I could be number two in the world without getting past the first round,” said the US Open champion who has never won a clay title.

Mackenzie McDonald, the 60th-ranked American, lost to Italian 11th seed Jannik Sinner after managing to squander 11 set points in the second set.

Sinner, a quarterfinalist in 2020, triumphed 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 and will face seventh-seeded Andrey Rublev for a last-eight spot.

Rublev, also a quarterfinalist two years ago, defeated Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (13/11).


Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
Updated 01 July 2022

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
  • Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way in the Drivers’ World Championship with a five-point advantage over nearest challenger and double champion Jean-Eric Vergne of DS TECHEETAH

SAUDI ARABIA: The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to Marrakesh on Saturday for round 10 in the 16-race season, with four drivers pulling ahead in the battle for the drivers’ title.

Going into the Marrakesh E-Prix at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way in the Drivers’ World Championship with a five-point advantage over nearest challenger and double champion Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH).

Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) is two points back in third place, while Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing), who won last time out in Jakarta, sits fourth, but only 12 points back from the standings lead.

With a maximum of 29 points on offer in Marrakesh, any one of those four drivers could lead the championship come the chequered flag on Saturday,

Evans’ win in Indonesia squeezed the margins splitting the top four, with Mortara and Vergne also making the podium last time around to pile the pressure on points pacesetter Vandoorne.

Consistency is key in Formula E if any driver is to assemble a run at the World Championship. The Belgian has finished outside the top five just twice in nine rounds, though both Evans and Mortara have scored in all but two races this season, while Vergne has never failed to tally.

The Atlas mountains provide the backdrop for Formula E’s fifth trip to the city’s centuries-old Agdal district, with the first Marrakesh E-Prix taking place in 2016. The track follows the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan — named after the crown prince of Morocco — before spilling out onto the streets of Marrakesh’s hotel district.

Renowned for being an energy-zapping circuit, this fast and highly technical track features 12 turns, three straights and a series of bends completing a track length of 2.971 kilometers.

Last time out in Morocco was magic for Antonio Felix da Costa and DS TECHEETAH who dominated proceedings, with victory setting in motion a run to the 2019-20 championship trophy.

Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) sealed the win on Formula E’s inaugural visit in 2016, with Felix Rosenqvist and Jerome D’Ambrosio taking back-to-back victories for Mahindra Racing in 2018 and 2019 before da Costa fired his season six title charge into life a year later here.


Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia
Updated 01 July 2022

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia
  • Automobile Club d’Italia and Regione Sardegna co-organizing event

RIYADH: The countdown is on to the first-ever double-header Extreme E event, as the championship returns to the Italian island of Sardinia for a summer showdown of back-to-back racing on July 6-7 and July 9-10.

NEOM’s title sponsorship of the Island X Prix follows the announcement that Extreme E has entered into a multi-year relationship with ENOWA, NEOM’s energy, water, and hydrogen subsidiary, to introduce green hydrogen power to their global sustainable racing series.

Extreme E continues to showcase innovative sustainable solutions, whether they demonstrate the full potential of e-SUVs or deliver legacy programs at race locations.

The event will be returning to the Season 1 location of the army training area at Capo Teulada in Sulcis-Iglesiente. The Teulada will provide a challenging backdrop for the course, which measures around 7 kilometers.

Due to the hot summer conditions in July, the terrain will be much drier than last year’s Enel X Island X Prix, with the drivers having to navigate a harder, more compact surface riddled with rocks, bushes, and dry riverbeds cracked from the heat.

The purpose-driven message of the series will focus on blue and green carbon restoration in Sardinia, continuing to work alongside the MEDSEA Foundation (Mediterranean Sea and Coast Foundation) to support two significant projects.

For Round Two, the first project explores green carbon. The sport-for-purpose championship will be returning to Sennariolo to visit the communities affected by the devastating wildfires of 2021.

As for Round Three, the second project supports seagrass conservation,  mitigating the detrimental effects of blue carbon in Mediterranean waters.

Extreme E has been working closely with Automobile Club d’Italia - the national sports federation co-organizing and coordinating the event - the Region of Sardinia and its Tourism Department, the Ministry of Defense, and the Italian Army.


Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan
Updated 01 July 2022

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan
  • Milan icon Maldini's new deal means that the seven-time European champions will keep the duo who built their Scudetto-winning side
  • Maldini worked alongside sporting director Frederic Massara to take Milan from the doldrums to the top of the Italian game

MILAN: Paolo Maldini will stay on as AC Milan’s technical director after signing a new two-year contract, the Serie A champions announced on Friday.
Milan icon Maldini’s new deal means that the seven-time European champions will keep the duo who built their Scudetto-winning side.
Maldini worked alongside sporting director Frederic Massara, who has also signed a two-year extension, to take Milan from the doldrums to the top of the Italian game.
“This deal highlights the importance of continuity we see throughout the club as we continue to strengthen and grow,” Milan said in a statement.
The 54-year-old confirmed late last night that he had signed an extension after weeks of delays which almost led to Milan starting the summer transfer window — which opened in Italy on Friday — without their key men.
He has been critical in Milan signing some of their most important players, one such example being a now-famous meeting in Ibiza which was crucial to bringing Theo Hernandez to the club in 2019.
France left-back Hernandez was a stand-out player in last season’s surprise title win.
Maldini is one of the greatest players in Milan’s history, winning a raft of trophies over a quarter of a century passed entirely with his boyhood club.
He played over 900 times for Milan, winning the European Cup or Champions League five times and claiming seven Serie A titles before retiring in 2009.
That success was not replicated in an Italy jersey despite earning 126 caps, losing in the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 finals.
Last month Milan announced that current owners, investment fund Elliott Management, had agreed to sell the club to rival US fund RedBird for 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
Milan said that the sale of the club will be completed no later than September.


Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract
Updated 01 July 2022

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract
  • The Egypt international had entered the final year of his existing contract
  • Salah has scored 156 goals in 254 appearances for the club since arriving in 2017

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah signed a new three-year contract with Liverpool on Friday which will keep him at the club until 2025.
The Egypt international had entered the final year of his existing contract after negotiations over extending his stay dragged on for most of last season.
The 30-year-old forward’s wage demands had been a stumbling block, but a delegation flew out to meet with the player, who is still currently on holiday in the Mediterranean, and came to an agreement which reportedly makes the forward the highest-paid player in the club’s history.
“I feel great and (I am) excited to win trophies with the club. It’s a happy day for everyone,” Salah told the club’s website. “It takes a little bit of time, I think, to renew, but now everything is done so we just need to focus on what’s next. I think you can see in the last five or six years the team was always going (upwards).”
Salah has scored 156 goals in 254 appearances for the club since arriving in 2017 and has helped them win the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup, FA Cup and League Cup during that time.
“If I look back to that time when I came (here), the club were not winning many things but I think I told you I had come (here) to win trophies,” Salah said. “I think we have won good trophies together and I think we can do it again.”
Liverpool won the FA Cup and League cup last season but finished second to Manchester City in the Premier League and lost the final of the Champions League to Real Madrid.


Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying
Updated 01 July 2022

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying
  • Saudi Arabia remained composed and saw out the game to seal a 69-67 win

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s basketball team secured their spot in the second round of qualifying for next year’s FIBA World Cup with a come-from-behind win against Indonesia in Jakarta on Friday.

The Saudis were down by 13 points at one point mid-third quarter, but outscored their hosts by 16-2 to lead 49-48 going into the final quarter.

Despite a valiant effort from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia remained composed and saw out the game to seal a 69-67 win, which propelled them to top of their Asia First Round qualifying pool.

The Saudis can go into their preparations for the second round in style if they seal another win on the road when they face Lebanon, who along with Jordan have also qualified for the next phase, in Zouk Mikael on Monday.

Indonesia are co-hosting next year’s basketball World Cup with the Philippines and Japan.