Things we learned from Wimbledon 2023

Special Things we learned from Wimbledon 2023
Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz in action against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic during the men’s singles final on day fourteen of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Sunday, July 16, 2023. (AP Photo)
Short Url
Updated 17 July 2023
Follow

Things we learned from Wimbledon 2023

Things we learned from Wimbledon 2023
  • Alcaraz picked up a second victory in three meetings with Djokovic, who is already keen to set up a rematch with the Spaniard at next month’s US Open
  • Vondrousova stayed composed and played freely, while Jabeur seemed tight and was understandably devastated after losing a third major final

An eventful Wimbledon came to a close on Sunday with Carlos Alcaraz ending Novak Djokovic’s 45-match Centre Court winning streak with a stunning five-set victory.

Here is what we learned from this year’s championships.

Alcaraz reignites men’s tour

He had not lost a match on Centre Court in 10 years, was on a 34-match unbeaten run at Wimbledon, and was looking to win a record-equaling eighth title at the All England Club, and fifth in a row … Novak Djokovic was regarded as the undisputed favorite for the title at SW19.

The Serb was barely tested en route to the final, dropping just two sets — one to Hubert Hurkacz and one to Andrey Rublev — and was primed to secure a record 24th Grand Slam crown.

But then came Carlos Alcaraz, a 20-year-old playing just his fourth tour-level tournament on grass and contesting a second major final. Djokovic in comparison was into a 35th Grand Slam final, which is an all-time record in singles for both men and women.

A showdown between the world No. 1 and No. 2, the four-hour 43-minute final was everything a sports fan could ask for. It had momentum swings, unthinkable shots, a broken racquet (and dented net post), code violations, tweener lobs, Brad Pitt and Princess Charlotte, a maiden champion and a tearful legend.

Now a two-time Grand Slam winner, Alcaraz picked up a second victory in three meetings with Djokovic, who is already keen to set up a rematch with the Spaniard at next month’s US Open.

For a long stretch, we had tournaments that featured either Alcaraz or Djokovic but not the two of them together. When Alcaraz won the US Open last summer, Djokovic was back home, unable to participate due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

When Djokovic won a 10th Australian Open crown in January, Alcaraz was sidelined with a leg muscle injury.

In the two Grand Slams since, the fabulous duo have faced off in the Roland Garros semifinals and now the Wimbledon final, teasing us with the possibility of a great rivalry developing between them, despite the 16-year age difference.

At a time when only a small few of the younger players on the men’s tour have risen to the occasion at the majors, Alcaraz has set himself apart and could provide a consistent challenge for the timeless and yet somehow still hungry Djokovic.

The two players should definitely continue to take this show on the road. It is exactly what men’s tennis needs as it faces up to life after the “Big Three” era.

Under the radar, Vondrousova emerges as champion

It is fair to say Marketa Vondrousova’s run to a maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon took many by surprise, not because she did not have the talent or pedigree (she was already a major finalist and an Olympic silver medalist) but due to the fact she had limited experience on grass, was unseeded, and was not on anyone’s radar as a potential contender on the lawns of the All England Club.

This time last year, the Czech lefty was in a cast, coming off wrist surgery and playing tourist in London while sidelined with an injury for six months.

In the final, she took on an opponent who adored the grass. Since the start of 2021, Ons Jabeur has won the highest number of grass-court matches on the women’s tour, and the Tunisian was contesting a second successive Wimbledon final.

Jabeur was the outright favorite, despite her two losses to Vondrousova earlier in the season, but she ended up falling to the Czech in straight sets.

From the outside it looked like the Tunisian was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, unable to reproduce the magic that saw her dismiss four Grand Slam champions in a row in the previous rounds, including world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 3 Elena Rybakina.

Vondrousova stayed composed and played freely, while Jabeur seemed tight and was understandably devastated after losing a third major final in her last five slams.

The 24-year-old Vondrousova has now cracked the world’s top 10 for the first time, while Jabeur remains at No. 6 and has US Open runner-up points to defend in September.

Just as she rebounded remarkably well from her Wimbledon final defeat to Rybakina 12 months ago by enjoying a great run at the US Open, we can expect Jabeur to dust herself off and contend again at the closing Grand Slam of the season in New York.

If you reach three major finals in the span of a year, you should never be discounted, or discouraged. Her time will come!

Swiatek one step closer to figuring out the grass

Aryna Sabalenka was one set away from dethroning Iga Swiatek at the top of the rankings but fell to Jabeur in the Wimbledon semifinals to remain at No. 2.

Swiatek has been open about her feelings about grass, a surface on which she won Wimbledon as a junior but one that poses many challenges for her, given her style of play and movement on the court. Her march to the quarters this year was her best showing yet at the championships at the professional level. She fought valiantly against Belinda Bencic in the fourth, saving match point before moving into the quarters, and ultimately lost to Elina Svitolina in three sets.

The 22-year-old Pole says she is eager to learn and is feeling more comfortable on the grass, and it shows. It is hard to imagine she will not win Wimbledon one day.

Svitolina, Eubanks bring feel-good factor to SW19

Driven by a higher purpose to do everything possible to help her country and the people of Ukraine, Elina Svitolina has been incredibly inspiring to watch these past few weeks.

The former world No. 3 gave birth to her first child Skai last October and returned to action in April to storm to the title in Strasbourg, make the quarters at Roland Garros and now reach the semis at Wimbledon.

Working with one of the best coaches in business in Raemon Sluiter, Svitolina has revamped her game, showcasing a more aggressive style that has resulted in a much higher average winner count.

The Ukrainian has a newfound swagger both on and off the court and has been a real joy to watch. Much respect for this latest supermom to enjoy a stunning return to the WTA tour.

On the men’s side, American Chris Eubanks proved to himself, and the world, he can go toe-to-toe with the very best as the 27-year-old Wimbledon debutant made it to the last eight. He broke the record for most winners struck at a single Wimbledon Championship (since the tournament began keeping record in 1977) by firing 321 through five matches.

En route to the last-eight stage, he knocked out No. 12 seed and British No. 1 Cameron Norrie, as well as No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. In the quarters, he led former US Open champion and No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev by two-sets-to-one before succumbing in five.

A great player with an even greater personality, Eubanks had the entire Wimbledon crowd rooting for him. He will likely be seeded at the US Open after starting the year outside the top 100.


PSG coach Luis Enrique promises ‘much better team’ next season

PSG coach Luis Enrique promises ‘much better team’ next season
Updated 59 min 37 sec ago
Follow

PSG coach Luis Enrique promises ‘much better team’ next season

PSG coach Luis Enrique promises ‘much better team’ next season
  • “If everything goes well I am convinced we will have a much better team than this year,” the Spaniard said
  • “I am convinced, as much in defense as in attack, in the midfield, tactically, physically”

POISSY, France: Paris Saint-Germain coach Luis Enrique on Thursday promised that the French giants will have a stronger team next season despite the impending departure of Kylian Mbappe when the superstar forward’s contract expires.
“If everything goes well I am convinced we will have a much better team than this year,” the Spaniard said after refusing to name specific targets when asked if AC Milan forward Rafael Leao was on the club’s shopping list.
“I am convinced, as much in defense as in attack, in the midfield, tactically, physically,” added the former Barcelona and Spain coach.
His comments came after he took Mbappe off with PSG trailing in last week’s 1-1 draw against Rennes.
Luis Enrique later said the Ligue 1 leaders needed to become accustomed to life without Mbappe, who recently informed PSG of his decision to leave at the end of the current campaign.
“Sooner or later, when it happens, we are going to have to get used to playing without Kylian,” he said after that game.
PSG are 11 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 before going to Mbappe’s former club Monaco on Friday, when they will be without captain Marquinhos due to a calf injury.
They then travel to Spain to face Real Sociedad in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie next Tuesday, defending a 2-0 lead from the first meeting.
“Obviously we are entering into a difficult period. The players really want to win things and this is the key point in the season, the best time,” Luis Enrique said.
“It is all or nothing, and that is a nice feeling.”


Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba banned for 4 years for doping

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba banned for 4 years for doping
Updated 29 February 2024
Follow

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba banned for 4 years for doping

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba banned for 4 years for doping
  • World Cup winner tested positive for testosterone
  • Sentence could end Pogba’s career as the France international turns 31 next month

ROME: Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court on Thursday after the World Cup winner tested positive for testosterone.
Pogba’s positive test was announced in September, stemming from an exam that was carried out after Juventus’ game at Udinese on Aug. 20. Pogba did not play in the Serie A match but was on Juve’s bench.
Pogba opted not to make a plea bargain with Italy’s anti-doping agency and so the case was tried before the country’s anti-doping court. A person with direct knowledge of the case confirmed the verdict to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the sentence was not made public due to Italy’s privacy laws.
Pogba could appeal the decision to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The sentence could end Pogba’s career, as the France international turns 31 next month.
Four-year bans are standard under the World Anti-Doping Code but can be reduced in cases where an athlete can prove their doping was not intentional, if the positive test was a result of contamination or if they provide “substantial assistance” to help investigators.
Pogba rejoined Juventus from Manchester United in 2022 but struggled with injuries, playing in only six Serie A matches for Juventus last season and two this season. He was ruled out of France’s run to the World Cup final that year due to a knee injury.
Pogba helped France win the previous World Cup, scoring in the 4-2 win over Croatia in the final. He played in 178 matches for Juventus from 2012-16.


EA Sports announces inaugural Ramadan Tournament for MENA region gamers

EA Sports announces inaugural Ramadan Tournament for MENA region gamers
Updated 29 February 2024
Follow

EA Sports announces inaugural Ramadan Tournament for MENA region gamers

EA Sports announces inaugural Ramadan Tournament for MENA region gamers
  • Participants will take part in 2 competitions, EA Sports FC 24, EA Sports FC Mobile

RIYADH: EA Sports has announced the launch of the first-ever Ramadan tournament, set to take place during the holy month from March 18 to 29.

The EA Sports FC Ramadan Tournament will be organized by Zawaya Gaming and powered by Pepsi with support from the Saudi eSports Federation.

The event will feature two parallel knockout tournaments: one for EA Sports FC 24 on PlayStation 5, and the other for EA Sports FC Mobile.

A total of 16 players will qualify to compete in the finals, with eight players being paired with athletes and creators for a two-versus-two tournament in the two competitions.

The console tournament will be open to participants from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, while mobile participants will include competitors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Indonesia.

The live finals will take place at the SEF Arena in Riyadh.


Jaguar’s Mitch Evans optimistic of form return at Sao Paulo E-Prix

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans optimistic of form return at Sao Paulo E-Prix
Updated 29 February 2024
Follow

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans optimistic of form return at Sao Paulo E-Prix

Jaguar’s Mitch Evans optimistic of form return at Sao Paulo E-Prix
  • The New Zealand driver has been frustrated with his start to the Formula E season

DUBAI: Formula E driver Mitch Evans admits he has been frustrated with his performances this season but is optimistic he can bounce back, beginning with next month’s Sao Paulo E-Prix.

The Jaguar driver has yet to achieve a podium finish after ending fifth in the season opener in Mexico before matching the result in January’s Diriyah E-Prix. The New Zealander closed the Diriyah E-Prix doubleheader weekend with a disappointing 10th, leaving him fifth in the standings and 36 points behind leader and teammate Nick Cassidy.

“It is frustrating and am disappointed to how the season has started as I felt we had one of the quickest cars on average,” said the 29-year-old. “I have just not been able to convert it into a decent result. My best shot was in the first race in Diriyah but we didn’t execute the race properly.

“We still got some good points on the board but I walked away from Saudi that we left some good opportunities from my side of the garage. It’s still early days but it seems we still have the pace which is one of the main things.

“But I do need to ramp up big points and that is the focus. I’m still feeling very optimistic of having a good run in the next phase of the season.”

Evans is disappointed that he has not contributed more to the team’s points tally unlike teammate Cassidy who has enjoyed three podium finishes including his triumph in Diriyah’s round three.

He said: “What the most frustrating this is that we could be one-two in the championship and we’re not. Nick has done a great job in the first three races and has settled nicely into the team. He has transitioned into the team really well so Nick has driven really well in this Gen3 car and not overly surprised. We are leading the teams’ constructors which is good but I feel we could be one, two or three in the championship and that is the most frustrating.

“He’s had a great start and picked up a lot of good points total and he is going to be really competitive and quick. I just need to make some better results on the board.”


LeBron James leads epic Lakers fightback to beat Clippers 116-112

LeBron James leads epic Lakers fightback to beat Clippers 116-112
Updated 29 February 2024
Follow

LeBron James leads epic Lakers fightback to beat Clippers 116-112

LeBron James leads epic Lakers fightback to beat Clippers 116-112
  • The 39-year-old NBA icon reeled off 34 points — 19 of them in the fourth quarter — to help the Lakers claim a pulsating victory over their in-form city rivals at the Crypto.com Arena
  • Nikola Jokic bagged his fourth straight triple-double as the Denver Nuggets overpowered the Sacramento Kings 117-96

LOS ANGELES: LeBron James staged the biggest fourth quarter comeback of his two-decade career on Wednesday as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a 21-point deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 116-112.

The 39-year-old NBA icon reeled off 34 points — 19 of them in the fourth quarter — to help the Lakers claim a pulsating victory over their in-form city rivals at the Crypto.com Arena.

It was another storybook performance from the evergreen James, who along with the Lakers had looked to be heading for an emphatic defeat after the Clippers jumped into a 98-77 lead early in the final frame.

But an inspired James helped the Lakers outscore the Clippers 39-16 in the fourth quarter to see them home.

“The game is not ever over until it’s double zeroes (on the play clock),” James told an on-court interviewer after the win.

James was backed by 20 points and 12 rebounds from Anthony Davis, while D’Angelo Russell added 18 and Rui Hachimura 13.

Kawhi Leonard topped the Clippers scoring with 26 points.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue took responsibility for the loss.

“When you’re up 21 points you can’t lose a game like that,” Lue said. “I don’t think that’s ever happened since I’ve been coaching — to lose a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter.”

In other games on Wednesday, Nikola Jokic bagged his fourth straight triple-double as the Denver Nuggets overpowered the Sacramento Kings 117-96.

Two-time former NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic finished with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to bag his 19th triple of the season.

The Serbian star had gone into the game facing an intriguing duel with Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis, who himself has been in blistering form since the All-Star break with three consecutive triple-doubles.

But Sabonis was effectively bottled up by Denver as the Nuggets staged a superb second quarter rally to turn the game around after trailing by 15 points.

Sacramento, missing injured playmaker De’Aaron Fox, had swept into a 47-32 lead to raise hopes of a morale-boosting road victory.

Denver roared back with a 21-4 run to regain control with Jamal Murray, who finished with 32 points, outstanding as the Nuggets opened up a 65-55 half-time lead at the break.

Denver outscored Sacramento 35-17 in the third quarter before coasting to victory by a 21-point margin.

The win leaves reigning NBA champions Denver third in the Western Conference with a 40-19 record, while Sacramento slipped to 33-25 in eighth place.

Elsewhere, Anthony Edwards shrugged off a lingering ankle injury to score 34 points as the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves overcame stubborn resistance from the struggling Memphis Grizzlies to grind out a 110-101 victory.

Memphis (20-38) had surged into an early 14-point lead in the first quarter and also led by double digits in the third before Minnesota hit back to claim their 42nd win of the season.

Edwards led the Wolves scoring with 34 points while four other Minnesota players reached double figures.

In Toronto, Luka Doncic celebrated his 25th birthday with a 30-point triple double as the Dallas Mavericks bounced back from Tuesday’s shattering buzzer-beater defeat to Cleveland with a 136-125 win over the Raptors.

A high-scoring first half saw Toronto sneak into a 67-66 lead at the break before Doncic sparked a 40-point third quarter to take the visitors out of reach.

Doncic scored 15 of his 30 points in the third quarter, finishing the game with 16 assists and 11 rebounds to complete his triple.

“Just a normal game, a triple double,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said of Doncic’s gem. “He was really good. Luka is our leader and he was really good tonight.”

Cleveland were unable to back up Tuesday’s win over Dallas in their road game against Chicago, the Bulls winning 132-123 in double overtime.

Donovan Mitchell could have won it for Cleveland as time expired in the first period of overtime, only to see his 20-foot jump shot miss.