Stefanos Tsitsipas sorry for disparaging Andrey Rublev, still positive about 2022 season

Exclusive Stefanos Tsitsipas sorry for disparaging Andrey Rublev, still positive about 2022 season
At 24, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now facing a new generation of talent rapidly rising through the ranks. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 05 December 2022

Stefanos Tsitsipas sorry for disparaging Andrey Rublev, still positive about 2022 season

Stefanos Tsitsipas sorry for disparaging Andrey Rublev, still positive about 2022 season
  • Greek has failed to make top 3 this year
  • Player now readying for Mubadala champs in UAE

Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas feels he owes fellow top-10 player, Russia’s Andrey Rublev, an apology.

After losing to the world No. 8 in the ATP Finals last month in Turin, Tsitsipas said he felt like he was the better and more creative player on the court that day compared to his opponent, adding that Rublev “prevailed with the few tools that he has.”

Rublev’s group-stage triumph secured him a ticket to the semifinals in Turin and spelled the end of Tsitsipas’ 2022 season.

Tsitsipas, understandably, drew lots of criticism online for the statements he made about Rublev’s game and in response taunted his critics in an Instagram post that read: “Dear haters, I have so much for you to be mad at, just be patient.”

Two weeks have passed and the Greek now admits he regrets what he said about Rublev and explained why he made such comments in the first place.

“What I said in that press conference against Rublev was very unfair towards him and not correct,” Tsitsipas told Arab News in an interview on Thursday ahead of his upcoming participation in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

“I saw it from a sort of different approach; I wanted him to be mad going into his next match (against Casper Ruud), trying to play even better. I’m not going to declare the reasons why because I think it’s quite obvious the situation I was dealing with in the next match if (I) had played that opponent.”

 

 

Tsitsipas had wanted to finish the year ranked in the world’s top three but that loss in the ATP Finals, coupled with Rublev’s subsequent defeat to Casper Ruud in the semifinals, meant the Greek fell just short of his goal and concluded his campaign in the No. 4 spot behind Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal and Ruud.

“I really wanted Andrey to win the next match and my approach was to add fuel to the fire a little bit, to make him want to be more hungry and more concentrated on his next match,” Tsitsipas continued.

“I think that was wrong to do, because it felt like, I don’t know, he wasn’t able to perform, I saw the match, I don’t think he performed as good as I would have expected him to perform. That was my only way to finish in the top three if he had won that match.

“I just played a little bit with it and tried to use my chances as much as I could. But of course the best thing would have been to win my match.”

Tsitsipas and Rublev have established a tight on-court rivalry over the last four seasons and they have evenly split their 10 tour-level meetings so far.

“Andrey is an excellent player. He has a great array of weapons that he uses extremely well on the court. He can hit the ball really hard, he’s sort of like the Marat Safin of the new generation,” said Tsitsipas.

“I don’t think he’s limited in his game, I think he’s put himself over many years now on the tour that he’s capable of competing against the best. He’s one of the most disciplined guys out here, who is very professional towards his work. He’s a very funny guy, a very nice soul, I enjoy being around him. He’s extremely friendly and likes to make fun of himself.

“So if I regret saying that? I do regret saying that, yes. It was not very good for me, I was extremely hurt that I wasn’t able to go all the way at the ATP Finals, it hurt me a lot, I tried to let some bad energy out but that wasn’t the responsible or the good way, even if I wanted something out of it, it wasn’t the right way to do it.

“Definitely if I would see him I would like to apologize to him for thinking like this about him because it’s definitely not how I think about him in reality.”

This is the fourth consecutive season that Tsitsipas has ended inside the top six and the Monaco resident is not dwelling too much on the fact he missed out on a top-three finish.

“There are a few things I can improve and manage better in order to get there, but overall if you think about it, I was literally two matches away (from) finishing (as) world No. 1,” he said.

“If I would have won 63 instead of 61 matches — but of course selective, if I had to select which matches I should have won, I could have ended No. 1 this season. So that is to show that I was extremely close to get that privilege of being world No. 1.”

 

 

Tsitsipas, who will face Cameron Norrie in his Abu Dhabi opener on Dec. 16, amassed a 61-24 win-loss record in 2022, including two title runs in Monte Carlo and Mallorca.

“I think maintaining that kind of base and taking the right initiatives tournament after tournament is eventually going to give it to me one day,” he said of the No. 1 ranking.

“But I’m not here really for the sprint, I’m here for the marathon. I’m going to be on the tour for many more years and finishing in the top 10 is no easy feat, and it’s extremely challenging to be doing it year after year.

“You need consistent good results to get there, you need to be very focused on your job and have zero to no distractions during the year and you have to be a soldier. You have to wake up thinking about tennis and be extremely disciplined in what you do and include that with some hard work and some dedication to your craft. It never gets easier.

“You might want to make it easier in your mind, you try to find small exits and ways to make this process easier, but trust me it never gets easier. You cannot cheat codes on the ATP tour to make your way through.”

Not so long ago, Tsitsipas was the young up-and-comer trying to pose a threat to tennis’ “Big Three” of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

He has posted wins against all three of them but has yet to secure a maiden Grand Slam title — his runner-up showing at Roland Garros last year was his best result at a major so far.

At 24, Tsitsipas is now facing a new generation of talent rapidly rising through the ranks with 19-year-old Alcaraz occupying the No. 1 spot and 19-year-old Holger Rune cracking the top 10 last month (he is a combined 0-5 head-to-head against them).

Djokovic, 35, and Nadal, 36, are also still around and winning majors and Tsitsipas finds himself grappling with both generations, the teenagers and the veterans.

“They’re extremely talented and good at what they do,” he said of the younger crew.

“They’re the most challenging thing we have ahead of us going forward. They can hit the ball extremely well, move very good around the court, athletic, have good intuition when it comes to their tennis.

“Of course I was kind of the new generation when I walked in facing Novak and Roger and Rafa the very few first times. I felt like I didn’t have much to lose because I was young and I kind of realized it early on and I was able to perform well against them.

“But now we have to deal with the even younger generation, I’m not 18 anymore, I’m 24 years old and that’s a different phase in my career now, a different step and a different approach that I need to take.

“I see it as a color index, before I was in the blue index where I’m really young and getting to know the tour and now I’m more like in the yellow index. And the next index, which will probably come at the age of 27 or 28, it will be the red index where more experience kicks in, you’ve been around and you’ve seen a lot of things. So I’m still somewhere in-between the middle I would say.”


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.

 

 


Victory for Pascal Werhlein and Porsche on day one of Diriyah E-Prix

Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team stormed from ninth to win the first of two races at the Diriyah E-Prix
Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team stormed from ninth to win the first of two races at the Diriyah E-Prix
Updated 28 January 2023

Victory for Pascal Werhlein and Porsche on day one of Diriyah E-Prix

Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team stormed from ninth to win the first of two races at the Diriyah E-Prix
  • Wehrlein looked the quickest on the track as he picked his way through the points-paying positions to the front of the pack

DIRIYAH: Pascal Wehrlein of the TAG Heuer Porsche team stormed from ninth to win the first of two races at the Diriyah E-Prix, with standings leader Jake Dennis of Avalanche Andretti Formula E following home in second after starting in 11th.

Wehrlein looked the quickest on the track as he picked his way through the points-paying positions to the front of the pack.

The move for the lead came on lap 30 at turn 16, with Sam Bird in the Jaguar TCS Racing car unable to hold back Wehrlein’s 99X Electric Gen3.

Both driver and car looked dominant for a second straight race. It was an emotional win for the 28-year-old, who once again credited his team with a monumental amount of work off-track to get things so right on it.

Jake Dennis in the Porsche-powered Avalanche Andretti took the fight all the way to the line with his factory Porsche counterpart from all the way back in 11th on the grid, but he couldn't find a way beyond Wehrlein — who sealed his second Formula E win on his 50th start.

 

 

The result was a reversal of the one-two we saw two weeks ago in the 2023 Hankook Mexico City E-Prix — and both TAG Heuer Porsche and Avalanche Andretti look to have thrown down the challenge to the rest of the field as the GEN3 development race continues at pace.

Sam Bird was overjoyed to make the podium for the first time since winning in New York City in Season 7 — calling it a "mini victory" for himself and Jaguar after a tough Season 8 for the Brit — the only season he has failed to claim Formula E silverware.

Sebastian Buemi started in pole position and finished in fourth, his best finish since the Season 6 finale in Berlin.

NEOM McLaren Formula E Team’s René Rast started fifth and ended fifth following a long battle in middle of the points-paying positions. He also sealed the TAG Heuer Fastest Lap.

Nick Cassidy made it two Envision Racing cars in the top six. Jean-Éric Vergne fought from 12th to the points for DS PENSKE, winding up just ahead of Jake Hughes in the sister McLaren. André Lotterer and Mitch Evans rounded out the top 10 - the latter slipping from sixth on the grid.

That leaves Dennis as standings leader at just a point over Werhlein — 44 to 43 points — while Avalanche Andretti retain their Teams' advantage over TAG Heuer Porsche, 58 to 49 points, with Envision Racing third.

Formula E’s return to Diriyah, a historical and cultural destination in Saudi Arabia, marks a groundbreaking move as it continues to prioritise sustainability and shift the paradigm in the sports industry.