Nadal Survives Epic Tiebreak To Power Into Quarters

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates after the match point against Marcos Giron of the US during their men’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2022. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

Rafael Nadal came out on top of an epic 28-minute opening-set tiebreak in sapping heat to power past Adrian Mannarino into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion needed all of his experience and resolve to go on and claim a 7-6 (16/14), 6-2, 6-2 victory in 2hr 40min on Rod Laver Arena to reach the last eight.

It is the 35-year-old Spanish great’s 14th quarter-final in his 17th visit to Melbourne.

The sixth-seeded Nadal will next face 14th seed Denis Shapovalov in the quarters after the Canadian leftie stunned German third seed Alexander Zverev in straight sets.

“I was a little bit lucky at the end of the tiebreaker, I had my chances but then he had a lot of chances too,” Nadal said.

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“That crazy first set was so important and the service break at the beginning of the second set too.

“He had been playing some fantastic tennis during the whole tournament, winning against amazing players, and today the first set was super difficult.

“His ball was very difficult to control, very flat, very fast and I am very happy that I survived that.”

Nadal is chasing a men’s record 21st Grand Slam and coming off a curtailed 2021 season caused by a chronic foot injury followed by a bout of Covid-19 in December.

Nadal was effusive in his praise of his next opponent, 22-year-old Shapovalov, who he leads 3-1.

“He is one of the players with the biggest potential on the tour,” he said.

“He has a lot of amazing things on his game, and his results say that. When he’s playing well, it’s very difficult to stop him.”

The story of the match was the extraordinary opening-set tiebreak, where Nadal held seven set points and Frenchman Mannarino four.

It proved an epic in the searing heat, before Nadal prevailed 16-14 after winning a furious rally.

The 69th-ranked Mannarino appeared to injure his groin or abdomen in chasing down a drop shot during the tiebreak and needed treatment courtside.

The effort of the draining 81-minute opening set told on Mannarino, who lost his opening service game of the second set and another break followed in the fifth game as the outcome became inevitable with Nadal taking command.

Mannarino was coming off a 4hr 38min struggle to get past 18th seed Aslan Karatsev in the previous round which finished in the early hours of Saturday.

he gamely battled on but Nadal worked his way to victory to remain unbeaten after seven matches this season.

VAR To Star In 2019 Asian Cup Quarter-Finals

Video Assistant Referees will be used in the Champions League from the 2019-20 season and will also be introduced at the 2020 European Championship, UEFA confirmed on Thursday.

 

The Asian Football Confederation on Thursday said the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system will be implemented from the quarter-finals of next year’s Asian Cup.

The AFC which is the regional governing body, said VAR will be used in seven matches and at four venues.

The system allows referees to review video footage of key decisions such as the awarding of goals, penalties and red cards during matches.

It was used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but with mixed results.

VAR is already in use across the majority of Europe’s major leagues including La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A.

“The decision to include VAR was only made on September 26 and that has meant a tremendous amount of work has been required to ensure that it can play a role at the tournament from the quarter-final stages,” Windsor John, the AFC general-secretary said in a statement.

The bigger 2019 Asian Cup will feature a record 24 teams from all corners of Asia, up from 16 that participated in the previous four editions.

The 2019 tournament will be the second time the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has hosted the event, after successfully staging the finals in 1996.

The Asian Cup UAE 2019 runs from 5 January to 1 February 2019, with 51 matches being played in eight world class stadiums located across four host cities – Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

AFP

Russia Beat Spain On Penalties To Reach World Cup Quarter-Finals

Players celebrate Russia’s victory at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Spain and Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 1, 2018.
PHOTO: YURI CORTEZ / AFP

 

Host nation Russia beat Spain in a penalty shootout to move into the World Cup quarter-finals and knock out the 2010 winners.

Iago Aspas’ penalty was saved by Igor Akinfeev to hand Russia victory after a match that Spain had completely dominated.

Ikpeba Sets Quarter-Finals Target For Eagles

Former Super Eagles Striker, Victor Ikpeba has set a quarter-final target for Nigeria at Next Year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The former Monaco Star says it high time the Eagles break the round of 16 ceiling, adding that expectations are very high after their impressive qualifying campaign which saw them go unbeaten in Group B which featured Algeria, African Champions, Cameroon and Zambia.

Ikpeba was speaking in Abeokuta the Ogun State capital on Saturday, after a training session for  about 300 students drawn from  public school across the state held at the Moshood Abiola International Stadium.

He says with the quality of players in the team, reaching the last eight should be Nigeria’s aim at her 6th appearance at football’s showpiece event.

“We keep on saying they have done well. All that we will hope for is for them to get to the quarterfinals. I think with the quality of players we have. I this set of players are quality players, I think they can do it,” he said.

The 44-year-old who played and scored at the France 98 World Cup also lauded the Nigeria Football Federation for its unwavering support of the team ahead of the Mundial in June.

The Eagles will know their World Cup group opponents on December 1st, this year.

Djokovic Crashes Out Of Mexican Open

Novac Djokovic Crashes Out Of Mexican OpenSecond seeded Novak Djokovic suffered a shocking defeat on Thursday night at the Acapulco International competition in Mexico.

The Serb was defeated 7-6, 7-5 by Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the quarter-finals of the Mexican Open.

He was seen off in straight sets by his 21-year-old opponent, who produced the best performance of his career.

The one hour 47-minute clash was the first ever meeting between the pair.

Kyrgios fired amazing 25 aces in the match to edge past 12-time grand slam winner Djokovic.

The Australian faces American Sam Querrey in Friday’s semi-finals.

 

 

Adebayor Blames Coach For Togo’s Exit

In the aftermath last night’s 1-0 extra-time quarter final defeat to Burkina Faso, Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor has blamed manager Didier six for the team’s ouster from the nations cup.

Adebayor criticised the Frenchman’s style of management pointing out flaws in his approach to the game.

His sentiments were shared by goal keeper Koffi Agasa who had no kind words for the manager.

However the coach choose to take positives from the performance of the hawks  than to join issues with his players citing the teams’ progress to the quarter final for the first time as an achievement.