Former champion Simona Halep back in Wimbledon semifinals

Former champion Simona Halep back in Wimbledon semifinals
Romania’s Simona Halep returns to Amanda Anisimova of the US in a women’s singles quarterfinal match on day ten of the Wimbledon tennis championships on Wednesday. (AP)
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Updated 06 July 2022

Former champion Simona Halep back in Wimbledon semifinals

Former champion Simona Halep back in Wimbledon semifinals
  • The 16th-seeded Romanian reached the semifinals and stretched her winning streak at the All England Club to 12 matches
  • “I struggled a lot last year,” Halep said, “and now I’m just trying to build my confidence back”

WIMBLEDON, England: Simona Halep’s first appearance at Wimbledon since winning the title three years is going just as good as it did the last time.
The 16th-seeded Romanian reached the semifinals and stretched her winning streak at the All England Club to 12 matches by beating Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday on Center Court.
Halep missed the chance to defend her title at Wimbledon twice, first in 2020 when the tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic and then again in 2021 when she had to sit out with a left calf injury.
“I struggled a lot last year,” Halep said, “and now I’m just trying to build my confidence back.”
In the semifinals, Halep will face Elena Rybakina. The 17th-seeded Rybakina beat Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 on No. 1 Court.
Rybakina, a 23-year-old Kazakh, is playing at Wimbledon for only the second time in her career. She lost in the fourth round last year.
In the men’s quarterfinals, two-time champion Rafael Nadal was to play Taylor Fritz on Center Court while Nick Kyrgios was to face Cristian Garin on No. 1 Court.
Halep is making her 10th appearance at Wimbledon and has reached the semifinals for the third time. She is the only Grand Slam champion left in the women’s tournament.
“I’m very emotional right now, because it means a lot to be back in the semis,” Halep said.
The match against Anisimova appeared to be as straightforward as her first four victories at this year’s tournament — all came in straight sets. But the 20th-seeded American broke Halep when she was serving for the match at 5-2.
Anisimova then had three more break points when Halep again served for the match at 5-4, but the Romanian won five straight points to finish the match.
“She could crush the ball in the end, and I didn’t know, actually, what to do,” Halep said. “But I just believed in myself. I said that I have to stay there, strong on my legs.”
Halep injured her calf more than a year ago, forcing her to withdraw from the French Open and Wimbledon. She started working with Patrick Mouratoglou, the former coach of Serena Williams, in April.


Saudi delegation joins Turkey’s Erdogan to launch 5th Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi delegation joins Turkey’s Erdogan to launch 5th Islamic Solidarity Games
Updated 6 sec ago

Saudi delegation joins Turkey’s Erdogan to launch 5th Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi delegation joins Turkey’s Erdogan to launch 5th Islamic Solidarity Games
  • Official opening ceremony in Konya welcomes athletes from 54 countries

KONYA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday night officially opened the 2022 Islamic Solidarity Games in the presence of the President of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal.

The fifth edition of games will take place in Konya, Turkey, until Aug. 18.

The ceremony at Konya Metropolitan Municipality Stadium welcomed athletes from 54 countries in the presence of several Olympic federation leaders, including the head of the Saudi delegation and Vice President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC) Prince Fahd bin Jalawi.

Prince Abdulaziz, also SOPC president, said in his opening statement: “We meet today on a new date under one banner, permanent brotherhood and a great goal, for there is nothing more beautiful than peace and higher than Islam — Islam which, since its inception encouraged swimming, archery and horse riding, preceding humanity in promoting sports.”

He expressed his delight at the launch of the fifth Islamic Solidarity Games, in which more than 4,000 male and female athletes will compete.

Prince Abdulaziz thanked Erdogan, the government and the people of Turkey for hosting the event, adding: “You have all been nothing but supportive.

“The federation grants the new edition a certificate of success from its first moments.”


Manchester City’s youth Abu Dhabi Cup returns in 2023

Manchester City’s youth Abu Dhabi Cup returns in 2023
Updated 10 August 2022

Manchester City’s youth Abu Dhabi Cup returns in 2023

Manchester City’s youth Abu Dhabi Cup returns in 2023
  • Competition open to young male and female players from Feb. 18-19 at Zayed Sports City Stadium

ABU DHABI: The Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup will return to the UAE capital in February 2023, for the first time since 2019, the organizers have announced.

The youth tournament caters for players of all abilities, with the aim of developing footballers in the region.

Launched in 2017, the youth tournament has over the years attracted international interest with the participation of 13 countries from four continents, over 1,750 players (including Manchester City academy footballers from the UK) and 4,000 spectators.

In 2018, the organizers also launched a new girls’ category, which will return for the upcoming 2023 edition.

The tournament will be held over the weekend of Feb. 18 and 19 at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the largest multi-purpose venue in the UAE. Off the pitch and away from the action, families will be able to enjoy live entertainment and fun activities in the ‘City Village.’

Aref Hamad Al-Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “Abu Dhabi Sports Council is delighted to once again support the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup. Football tournaments in the capital city are essential to ensure the growth, further development and improvement of the football landscape in the UAE. We are very excited to see the Cup competition return in 2023 and are looking forward to welcoming teams from the region competing alongside youth Abu Dhabi football clubs.”

The age categories for the 2023 tournament will be under-8, under-10, under-12 and under-14 boys, and two categories for under-11 and under-14 girls.

Simon Hewitt, senior manager, Football Operations MENA - Football Education, said: “We can’t wait to see so many young footballers playing with a smile on their faces and having fun at the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup in February 2023. The tournament returns and promises to be a fantastic experience for all involved, from players to families and the coaches.”

“The tournament caters for all levels of abilities with day two ending in a selection of finals for the City Cup, City Plate, City Trophy and City Shield all up for grabs, with one lucky team winning an all-expenses paid trip to the City Football Academy in Manchester.”

Meanwhile Saleh Mohamed Saleh Al-Geziry, director general for tourism at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, said: “Inspiring the next generation of sports stars and sharing Abu Dhabi with the world are among the key goals of DCT Abu Dhabi, so we’re thrilled to support the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup and showcase our world-class sporting infrastructure and partnerships.”


Runners have new short races before Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022

Runners have new short races before Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022
Updated 10 August 2022

Runners have new short races before Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022

Runners have new short races before Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022
  • Yas Island and Al-Ain stadium to host 1km to 21.1km events
  • Aim to hone fitness of elite and amateur racers, say organizers

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company have announced an all-new Race Series Edition of short distances that will allow elite and amateur runners to hone their fitness ahead of the fourth edition of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon on Dec. 17 this year.

The series is open to people of all ages and will feature three organized runs. The first is scheduled to take place on Sept. 3 over 5 kilometers inside Yas Mall Abu Dhabi, and over 1 kilometer and 3 kilometers. The second event will take place on Oct. 8 at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain, and offer an outdoor race of 10 kilometers as well as options of 3 kilometers and 5 kilometers.

The third run of the series is on Nov. 5, just over a month before the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon. It will provide participants the chance to race a 21.1-kilometer half-marathon on a new course on Yas Island, as well as options of 3 kilometers, 5 kilometers and 10 kilometers.

Aref Al-Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “The new series of community races represent a distinctive addition to the fourth ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon program and the agenda of our sporting activities in general.

“It further reveals our enduring commitment to encourage the practice of sports among members of society of all age groups and ensuring that it promotes our healthy and active lifestyle program to further improve the Quality of Life Index in Abu Dhabi.”

In keeping with the slogan “For the Community, By the Community,” the series demonstrates how the marathon is driving community engagement and promoting a healthy lifestyle for all UAE residents, he added.

Dr. Saif Sultan Al-Nasseri, director of the Human Capital Directorate at ADNOC, said: “The Race Series Edition provides a great opportunity for members of the public to train and practice their race strategies ahead of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon and we encourage everyone to take advantage.

“ADNOC is pleased to support this initiative and we will continue enabling the wellbeing of our community through our integrated health and sporting initiatives.”

Last year’s marathon attracted more than 12,000 participants of various ages, in addition to a sizeable group of elite international athletes. The 42.2-kilometer race was held alongside 10-kilometer, 5-kilometer, and 2.5-kilometer competitions.


Nutrition for health and sports under spotlight in Riyadh

Nutrition for health and sports under spotlight in Riyadh
Updated 10 August 2022

Nutrition for health and sports under spotlight in Riyadh

Nutrition for health and sports under spotlight in Riyadh
  • Saudi federation holds workshops with PepsiCo
  • Seminars part of Vision 2030’s xQuality of Life Program

The importance of nutrition for athletic performance and general health was under the spotlight in Riyadh recently with the Saudi Sports for All Federation, or SFA, holding its second series of workshops with PepsiCo’s Gatorade Sport and Science Institute.

The popular program saw 61 participants selected from 303 applicants, which included Community Sports Groups, coaches, and experts in several sporting codes.

Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini, managing director of the SFA, said: “At SFA, we take a holistic approach to health and wellness that encompasses all elements required for a healthy lifestyle. The sports nutrition workshop is one of our initiatives to provide our communities with trainers to help them navigate a lifestyle driven by sports and physical activity.

“Participants from the workshop are now equipped with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to support fellow citizens and residents with guidance on nutrition and hydration as we embark on our goal to increase sports and physical activity in the Kingdom,” she said.

PepsiCo’s GSSI was established in 1985 to help athletes with expert nutritional advice.

Karim Khedr, franchise VP, said: “Through our partnership with SFA, we are aiming to improve people’s quality of life in Saudi Arabia. We recognize the importance of working with partners who share the same ambitions — and together we want to empower athletes for success by providing tools to advance them to become strong assets in building a better future.

“We are proud to see the number of participants who attended the sports nutrition training workshops and look forward to further playing our part in supporting the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 goal of being among the leaders in selected sports regionally and globally.”

The three-day seminar covered a range of topics, including hydration, the function of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and dietary supplements.

Participants received personalized GSSI certificates and will serve as sports ambassadors.

The workshops are supported by the Ministry of Sport. This is part of Vision 2030’s Quality of Life Program to increase the number of people exercising at least once a week to 40 percent.


Naomi Osaka exits opening match at Toronto with back injury

Naomi Osaka exits opening match at Toronto with back injury
Updated 10 August 2022

Naomi Osaka exits opening match at Toronto with back injury

Naomi Osaka exits opening match at Toronto with back injury
  • She had been eliminated from her last three competitions in the first or second round
  • Includes straight-sets loss to Coco Gauff at last week’s Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic

TORONTO: Naomi Osaka’s recent struggles continued Tuesday with an early exit at the National Bank Open.

The four-time Grand Slam champion retired from her first-round match with a back injury. She was trailing 7-6 (4), 3-0 against Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi when she withdrew from the contest.

“I felt my back from the start of the match, and despite trying to push through it, I just wasn’t able to today,” Osaka said. “I’d like to pay credit to Kaia for playing well and want to wish her all the best for the rest of the tournament.”

Entering the tournament, Osaka had been eliminated from her last three competitions in the first or second round, including a straight-sets loss to Coco Gauff at last week’s Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. That was her first tournament since the French Open as she recovered from an Achilles injury.

Prior to that run, she had her best tournament of the year making it to the final of the Miami Open in early April before losing to top-ranked Iga Swiatek.

The 31st-ranked Kanepi will next play No. 8 Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

In other matches, 10th seeded Gauff beat fellow American Madison Brenglem 6-1, 6-3; China’s Zheng Qinwen got past Canada’s Rebecca Marino, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4; Italy’s Camila Giorgi defeated ninth-seeded Emma Raducanu of England, 7-6 (0), 6-2; and Bianca Andreescu of Canada beat Daria Kasatkina of Russia, 7-6 (5), 6-4. Elize Mertens of Belgium, Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, Ajla Tomljanovic of Russia, Amanda Anisimova of the US, and Zhang Shuai of China also advanced.

Osaka struggled with unforced errors and had four of her five double faults in the first set. She won the first game with the help of three unforced errors from Kanepi, but the four-time Grand Slam champion lost her momentum after going up 2-1.

Kanepi won four of the next seven games to go up 5-3. From there, Osaka had to fight her way out of two set-point opportunities from Kanepi. With a mix of a strong backhand and multiple errors from Kanepi, Osaka was able to tie it up and send the set to a tiebreaker.

With the tiebreaker tied 3-3, Kanepi turned up her level of play taking four of the next five points as Osaka handed her set point on a shot past the baseline. Kanepi built on that momentum in the second set, taking advantage of Osaka’s mishaps and firing sharp forehands past the Japanese star.

After hitting her second ace of the match earlier in the final game, Kanepi closed out with a strong serve that Osaka returned high and wide.

Andreescu won this event in 2019 before taking the US Open title in what was a breakout year for the 22-year-old. She hasn’t won a tournament since, having battled through injuries and taking a “mental break” at one point in 2021. Andreescu’s lone final appearance this year has been at the Bad Homburg Open where she fell to Caroline Garcia.

Andreescu will play Alize Cornet of France in the second round.