Boosted by Australian visa, Djokovic ‘flawless’ against Rublev

Boosted by Australian visa, Djokovic ‘flawless’ against Rublev
Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Russia's Andrej Rublev during their singles tennis match in the ATP World Tour Finals at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, on Nov. 16, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 17 November 2022

Boosted by Australian visa, Djokovic ‘flawless’ against Rublev

Boosted by Australian visa, Djokovic ‘flawless’ against Rublev
  • On Tuesday, Australian media reported that the government had decided to grant the unvaccinated Serbian a visa
  • Djokovic: Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam

TURIN, Italy: Novak Djokovic confirmed Wednesday he has received a visa to travel to Melbourne to play in the 2023 Australian Open, after he was deported last January over his vaccine status.

“I was very happy to receive the news yesterday. It was a relief,” the Serbian said after beating Andrey Rublev in the ATP Finals in Turin.

“It was a relief obviously knowing what I and people closest to me in my life have been through this year with what happened in Australia and post-Australia obviously. I could not receive better news for sure, during this tournament as well.”

On Tuesday, Australian media reported that the government had decided to grant the unvaccinated Serbian a visa, overturning a three-year ban after his ejection from the country.

This year’s championship was overshadowed by nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic being put on a plane on the eve of the contest after a high-stakes legal battle over his visa status.

“Australian Open has been my most successful Grand Slam.” said Djokovic. “I made some of the best memories there.”

Djokovic was speaking afer securing a spot in the semifinals of the season-ending Finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Rublev, his second straight sets victory in as many matches.

He said the news from Australia had been a boost.

“Did it affect my game today? I would like to believe it did.” he said.

“Knowing that I have clarity now, what I do in the off-season, starting the season in Australia, also of course did relieve some of the pressure.”

He shattered Rublev’s resistance in just a few games after taking the only break point either player had in the first set at 4-4.

Djokovic served out the set and then exploited Rublev’s frustration to break again early in the second as he went 3-0 ahead and cruised to victory.

“One of the best matches I played this year, particularly in the second set. Just a flawless set really.”

Having beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas in his first Red Group match on Monday, the Serb is guaranteed a spot in the last four regardless of his result on Friday against Daniil Medvedev.

“I’m really glad to be through to the semis,” he said. “At the same time, I want to win that match, win every match that I play here.”

Djokovic is ranked just eighth in the world in part because he missed tournaments, including the Australian Open and US Open, over his vaccination status.

“The upside of not playing many tournaments is that you’re going to be fresher than when you’re playing a lot more,” he said. “I had more time to train, to practice.”

“Sometimes I do wish, in the pro men’s tennis season, we have a bit more time to really have those training blocks to be a bit longer, so you can really work on your game and your body.”

“I’m also at the position I think now in my career where I’m able to choose which tournaments I play and where I want to peak, at what time of the season.”


‘Action-packed’ Diriyah double-header opens Formula E 9th season

‘Action-packed’ Diriyah double-header opens Formula E 9th season
Updated 16 sec ago

‘Action-packed’ Diriyah double-header opens Formula E 9th season

‘Action-packed’ Diriyah double-header opens Formula E 9th season

DIRIYAH: Formula E is back for its ninth season and after a two-week break following an opener in Mexico City, the Diriyah E-Prix kicked off on Friday in the Saudi capital with two days of racing on the Diriyah Street Course.

TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team driver Pascal Wehrlein won round two of ABB FIA Formula E.

British racer Jake Dennis for team Avalanche Andretti said that the big difference between the Gen3 car from the Gen2 is in the grip and power of the vehicles. “But I think we did a really good debut night race here. You know, it was a lot of overtaking for everyone. It seemed like the race was action-packed the whole time. So I think we can be really happy with, you know, the good show and the pre-race build looks pretty cool as well with the fireworks and the drone display. So yeah, very happy for everyone involved to put on a good show today,” he said.

“Yeah, those Gen3 cars are massively different. They have more power, we have different tires. Also, the energy management is completely different. So, we have a lot to learn still. We are still figuring out how this animal works. But overall, I think we were making good progress. Especially I did a big step from yesterday to today. finishing fifth today for me, is quite a good result,” said Rene Rast, a German driver with McLaren.

Portuguese driver Antonio Felix da Costa of Porsche described it as “awesome” to be back in Saudi Arabia. “It’s impressive to see the evolution of this place or the area, where everything’s being built around and how we are always welcome,” he said, adding that the Kingdom always gives a warm welcome to the Formula E. “The track is one of the most fun tracks of the year. And it’s a big challenge. But it’s a lot of fun.”

He added that every track is different, but that the Diriyah course has a lot of character. “You know, there’s a sector, too, it’s kind of high speed, you know, a good sequence of corners which is a good challenge for us and makes it fun,” he said.

This season, laps have replaced the previous 45-minute timed races and pit stops are also back with the “attack charge” to be trialed at select races.


LeBron James jersey sells for whopping $3.7 million

LeBron James jersey sells for whopping $3.7 million
Updated 28 January 2023

LeBron James jersey sells for whopping $3.7 million

LeBron James jersey sells for whopping $3.7 million
  • Sotheby’s in New York sold the jersey, which James wore while playing for  Miami Heat in their 2013 NBA Finals Game 7 victory against San Antonio Spurs

NEW YORK: A game-worn jersey of basketball superstar LeBron James sold for $3.7 million at auction Friday, five times more than the previous record for one of his shirts.

The sale comes with interest even higher than usual in the 38-year-old LA Lakers icon as he nears the NBA’s all-time scoring record.

Sotheby’s in New York sold the jersey, which James wore while playing for the Miami Heat in their 2013 NBA Finals Game 7 victory against the San Antonio Spurs.

It smashed the previous record of $630,000 for a James All-Star jersey worn in 2020.

Game-worn sports memorabilia is big business.

Michael Jordan’s 1998 NBA Finals jersey, which sold for $10.1 million in September 2022, is currently the most valuable such item.

Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” jersey sold for $9.3 million at Sotheby’s in London last year.

James needs just 178 points to eclipse Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s tally of 38,387 points, one of the most coveted and longstanding records in basketball.

Sotheby’s also sold a dress worn by the late Princess Diana for $604,800 Friday.


Inspired Szoboszlai leads Leipzig to victory over Stuttgart

Inspired Szoboszlai leads Leipzig to victory over Stuttgart
Updated 28 January 2023

Inspired Szoboszlai leads Leipzig to victory over Stuttgart

Inspired Szoboszlai leads Leipzig to victory over Stuttgart
  • Szoboszlai showed off his technical skills with the second goal in the 49th

LEIPZIG, Germany: Two sweetly hit shots from Dominik Szoboszlai lifted Leipzig to a 2-1 win over Stuttgart to close within a point of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Friday.

Szoboszlai had not scored in the league since September before the Hungarian midfielder gave his team the lead with a swerving, dipping free kick in the 25th minute that goalkeeper Florian Muller could only push into his own net.

Szoboszlai showed off his technical skills with the second goal in the 49th, using one touch to control a header from teammate Andre Silva on the edge of the penalty area before letting the ball drop and striking a half-volley that left Muller no chance.

Embroiled in a fight to avoid relegation, Stuttgart had plenty of chances to exploit defensive errors from Leipzig but couldn’t convert enough of them.

Shortly before Szoboszlai’s second goal, Stuttgart’s Niklas Nartey could have leveled the score when he was one-on-one with Leipzig goalkeeper Janis Blaswich, but his shot bobbled wide of the far post instead. Stuttgart finally scored when Chris Führich powered a penalty past Blaswich in the 68th after a handball by defender Joško Gvardiol. That ensured a tense finish for Leipzig but the hosts largely kept Stuttgart at bay in the closing stages.

Bayern has drawn both of its opening games of 2023, including one against Leipzig last week, as it adapts to life without goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who has a broken leg. Bayern can restore a four-point lead if it beats fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.


Manchester City knock out Arsenal 1-0 in FA Cup

Manchester City knock out Arsenal 1-0 in FA Cup
Updated 28 January 2023

Manchester City knock out Arsenal 1-0 in FA Cup

Manchester City knock out Arsenal 1-0 in FA Cup
  • England’s two best teams have a league showdown at Emirates Stadium on Feb. 15

MANCHESTER, England: Manchester City issued a statement of intent by knocking out Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup on Friday.

Nathan Ake’s 64th-minute goal settled the fourth-round match at Etihad Stadium and the result may yet reverberate through the rest of the season.

Arsenal lead City by five points at the top of the English Premier League, but their seven-game unbeaten run was ended by City, who have three straight wins in all competitions.

England’s two best teams have a league showdown at Emirates Stadium on Feb. 15. For now, City manager Pep Guardiola has gained an edge on his former assistant, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

“I know how difficult it is to beat Arsenal. They lost one game in the Premier League, so I know how difficult it is,” Guardiola said.

Defender Ake was the unlikely match-winner after curling a low shot past goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Arsenal had chances while enjoying the better of the first half. Takehiro Tomiyasu and Leandro Trossard forced saves from City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega, and Eddie Nketiah fired narrowly wide from close range.

The visitors were made to pay when City improved after the break and Ake produced the decisive strike.

“(I’m) really disappointed,” Arteta said. “We could have got much more out of the game. In the big moments in big matches you have to make the difference.”

While a place in the fifth round of the cup was at stake, it was impossible to ignore the wider context of a match between the teams who are the front-runners in the league race.

Arsenal have been in outstanding form, picking up 50 points after 19 games and playing with a confidence not seen since Arsene Wenger’s title-winning teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

As if to underline the fact that the cup is neither team’s priority, Guardiola and Arteta left key players out of their lineups.

Guardiola benched Ederson, Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva.

Arteta left out Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, William Saliba, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Arsenal’s new signing, Trossard, was given his first start since joining from Brighton last week.

Despite the changes, Arsenal created the better chances in the first half but could not make them count.

City began to control the game after the break without creating many clear-cut openings until Ake broke the deadlock.

Substitute Alvarez’s strike from outside the box beat Turner, but came back off the post. Jack Grealish picked up the rebound and laid off to Ake, who hit a first-time effort low into the corner.

Elimination gives Arsenal one less distraction in its bid for the title and Arteta hopes to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

The London club has been linked with a $74 million move for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo, but Arteta would not answer specific questions about the player.

“We have been pretty active in the market. We have some necessities,” he said. “If something else is available, the club is willing to try to do it when it is reasonable and hopefully he’s a player that can improve our squad.”


Sprinting great Bolt says ‘stressful situation’ trying to recover lost millions

Sprinting great Bolt says ‘stressful situation’ trying to recover lost millions
Updated 28 January 2023

Sprinting great Bolt says ‘stressful situation’ trying to recover lost millions

Sprinting great Bolt says ‘stressful situation’ trying to recover lost millions
  • SSL said in a Jan. 12 statement that it had become aware of fraudulent activity by a former employee and had referred the matter to law enforcement

KINGSTON: World 100 and 200 meters record holder Usain Bolt said on Friday that it was a “stressful situation” trying to recover more than $12.7 million that has disappeared from his account with a Jamaican investment firm.

The 36-year-old Bolt earlier this month was informed that his account balance at Kingston-based Stocks and Securities Ltd. (SSL) had inexplicably dwindled to just $12,000, lawyer Linton Gordon told Reuters on Jan. 17.

“It’s tough you know, but I think through the years I’ve competed it has helped me to understand and focus on what matters,” Bolt told reporters on Friday.

He was speaking at the Gibson McCook Relays launch in Kingston where he was unveiled as the ambassador of the athletics meet, now in its 50th year.

“I will leave the matter in my lawyer’s hands and focus on my family, try not to think too much about it because it’s a stressful situation,” the 11-time world champion added.

SSL said in a Jan. 12 statement that it had become aware of fraudulent activity by a former employee and had referred the matter to law enforcement, adding it had taken steps to secure assets and strengthen protocols.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force said its fraud and financial investigation teams were probing “alleged fraudulent activities at (SSL) which are said to have affected the accounts of Mr. Usain Bolt among other individuals.”

Bolt’s account was intended to serve as a pension for the eight-time Olympic champion and for his parents, Gordon said.

Bolt retired in 2017 after dominating global sprinting for a decade, reviving a sport plagued by doping scandals and becoming a household name like Brazilian soccer great Pele and American boxing champion Muhammad Ali.