MELBOURNE, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) — World No. 1 Iga Swiatek crashed out of the Australian Open on Sunday after a shock fourth-round defeat to reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, while men’s third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a major scare to reach the quarterfinals.
The upsets at an unpredictable tournament continued with hot favorite Swiatek’s exit perhaps the most surprising so far.
The Pole will have to wait another year to break her title drought in Melbourne after falling to an impressive Rybakina 6-4, 6-4 in 89 minutes.
It is the first time at a Grand Slam in the Open era – since 1968 – that the top two seeds in the men’s and women’s draws all fell before the quarterfinals.
“I felt the pressure,” said 21-year-old Swiatek, who is a three-time Grand Slam champion.
“I felt that I didn’t want to lose instead of wanting to win.
“I felt like I took a step back in terms of how I approach these tournaments, and I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard.”
While Swiatek was left disappointed, Kazakhstan’s Rybakina took a major step towards adding a second Grand Slam title to her collection.
Moscow-born Rybakina, the 22nd seed, unleashed her high-octane game and hit 24 winners to overwhelm a flustered Swiatek.
Rybakina stormed into a quarterfinal against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who also produced a boilover by defeating seventh seed Coco Gauff 7-5, 6-3.
There has been much hype over 18-year-old Gauff, who has been tipped as a successor to her legendary American compatriot Serena Williams, but the pressure appeared too great for her as she fell well short of a maiden Grand Slam triumph.
With Swiatek and second seed Ons Jabeur eliminated, red-hot American Jessica Pegula has ascended into title favoritism.
The third seed strengthened her status with a comfortable 7-5, 6-2 victory over former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.
Pegula made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for a third consecutive year.
Tsitsipas, the highest seed remaining in the men’s draw, overcame a gallant comeback from 15th seed Jannick Sinner 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3.
The third seed appeared to be cruising after winning the opening two sets before the Italian stormed back to force a deciding set.
Tsitsipas rallied and gained the decisive break in the sixth game before prevailing in an epic contest lasting four hours.
“I’m trying to do my best out here. It’s not easy,” Tsitsipas said. “I had an unbelievable opponent on the other side of the court today, playing incredible tennis in the third and fourth sets.”
Tsitsipas plays 21-year-old Jiri Lehecka, who defeated sixth seed Felix Auger Aliassime 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3).
“Honestly, it feels amazing,” said Lehecka, who is ranked 71.
“It’s tough to find the words because of what I’ve been through in the last year and now coming back to Australia.”
Sebastian Korda, son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, will meet 18th seed Karen Khachanov in a surprise quarterfinal match-up.
Korda, the 29th seed, upset 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7), while Russian Khachanov swept aside Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0, 6-0, 7-6 (4).
Men’s favorite Novak Djokovic highlights fourth-round action on Monday, while China’s Zhang Shuai plays former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova.
Analysis: Bayern remains in unrest, Nagelsmann’s future depends on success against Paris
by Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) — Seven days ahead of the last-16 duel against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Bayern Munich remains in a state of deep unrest.
The delicate statements of keeper Manuel Neuer create a decisive rift in the Bavarian side and in the club’s surroundings.
The 2014 world champion accused the club’s leaders of “brutal” actions when firing his favorite goalkeeper coach Toni Tapalovic.
Everything between the noisy departure of the currently injured 36-year-old German international and the dismissal of coach Julian Nagelsmann seems possible.
The outcome of the showdown against the French giant seems to play a vital role when it comes to predictions.
Not only that former Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel is mentioned as a possible Nagelsmann successor. Further involved parties such as chairman Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic seem exposed to great pressure.
An opinion battle of pundits and former Bayern players endangers the team’s efforts to concentrate on sportive issues.
Nagelsmann is mentioned as the initial point for the Tapalovic sacking while Neuer is sidelined due to a skiing injury.
Inside reports speak of a damaged relationship between the coach and the captain. The Bayern manager is said to need success against Paris to secure his future at the club.
While Nagelsmann called Neuer’s statements far from helpful considering the team is ahead of important games, the Bayern coach triggered indignation among rival Paris assuming the news of the injury loss of star striker Kylian Mbappe is a bluff.
The coach is said to have lost support in the locker room while he claims it’s on Neuer to put things back to normal. “My doors are open,” he said.
The leaders face the allegation to disturb the team’s internal harmony and not consider players’ demands.
Both claim Neuer is putting personal issues above the club’s purposes. “We expected other reactions from him,” Salihamidzic said while Kahn announced “straight talking” with Neuer shortly.
Both are under fire after Nagelsmann failed to lead the team to calm waters despite the club having paid 25 million euros to secure his signing from Leipzig 18 months ago.
The goalkeeper’s statements are considered a direct attack on Nagelsmann as the Bayern coach is said to have neglected the relationship with his team captain.
Reports speak of the coach consulting midfielder Joshua Kimmich instead of Neuer when discussing team issues.
Several squad members expressed understanding for Neuer and revealed the team’s inner struggle.
Nagelsmann and the club leaders’ harsh comments on the free day trip of striker Serge Gnabry to a fashion fair in Paris between two league games have been taken by surprise by most players.
Premier League announces charges of breach of financial rules against Manchester City
LONDON, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) — Premier League champions Manchester City have been charged by the Premier League with a series of breaches of the competition’s financial rules.
The Premier League issued a statement on Monday morning confirming it had “referred a number of alleged breaches of the Premier League Rules by Manchester City Football Club to a commission under Premier League Rule W.3.4.”
The Premier League explains the commission is “independent of the Premier League and member clubs” and that the members of the commission will be appointed by the independent chair of the Premier League judicial panel, in accordance with Premier League rules.
“The proceedings before the commission will, in accordance with Premier League rule W.82, be confidential and heard in private. Under Premier League rule W.82.2, the commission’s final award will be published on the Premier League’s website.”
“This confirmation is made in accordance with Premier League rule W.82.1. The Premier League will be making no further comment in respect of this matter until further notice,” reads the statement.
The charges are thought to come from an investigation which opened in March 2019 in relation to the seasons from 2009 to 2018. They relate to financial information, over the club’s income, payments to playing and coaching staff, profitability and financial sustainability.
Manchester City are currently second in the Premier League, five points behind Arsenal and it is so far uncertain what punishment they would face if found guilty, although it is possible they could have points taken away from them and face a heavy fine.
Lautaro’s header decides Milan Derby
ROME, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) — Lautaro Martinez continued his scorching form with his header deciding the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday, as Inter Milan beat AC Milan 1-0 in Serie A.
The Nerazzurri lost the Milan Derby back in September but took revenge on their city rivals in the Supercoppa last month, while AC Milan were looking for a resounding response after a dismal run since the start of 2023.
Inter Milan had a relatively full squad to choose from, but AC Milan still had to do without Mike Maignan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Head coach Stefano Pioli made a tactical tweak to opt for a 3-5-2 system, as Rafael Leao was benched again. The Italian manager Roberto Mancini also presented on the stand for the showdown.
Hosts Inter pressed high from the start, trying to use their aggression and tempo to good effect as a couple of attempts from Lautaro threatened goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
The efforts paid off in the 34th minute as Hakan Calhanoglu’s corner found Lautaro, whose twisting header went beyond Tatarusanu.
Inter Milan kept creating havoc after the break, but AC Milan were poor in their attacking quality, they had the chance to level the scoring, but Olivier Giroud’s awful first touch fumbled a golden opportunity.
Romelu Lukaku came off the bench and found the net in the 83rd minute, but the goal was wiped out while Lautaro’s second was also canceled for offside.
With the win, Inter still rank second with 43 points, 13 points behind Napoli who staged a second-half show to crush Spezia 3-0, while the third consecutive defeat in the league dropped AC Milan to sixth place.
Also on Sunday, Torino edged Udinese 1-0, Fiorentina lost to Bologna 2-1 on home turf.
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