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Djokovic advances to Australian Open quarters, Garcia knocked out




MELBOURNE, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) — Novak Djokovic brushed aside fitness concerns with a vintage performance to thrash Alex de Minaur in the fourth round, but women’s fourth seed Caroline Garcia on Monday became the latest high-profile casualty at the Australian Open.

Nine-time champion Djokovic has battled a hamstring injury throughout the tournament, but moved freely to overwhelm the Australian 22nd seed 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 and silence the home fans at Rod Laver Arena.

In their first match-up, the fleet-footed de Minaur hoped to exploit Djokovic’s ailment but he was blown off the court by the spectacular Serb, who rediscovered his best form in his march towards a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title.

“I really wanted to win in straight sets. I kept my focus all the way through and it was my best result of the year,” Djokovic said.

“I didn’t feel any (hamstring injury) today. I know things can change quickly, so I don’t take anything for granted.”

Djokovic booked a blockbuster quarterfinal with fifth seed Andrey Rublev, who survived a fierce examination from rising Danish star Holger Rune to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (9).

The Russian survived two match points in the 12th game of the fifth set and then found himself on the brink of defeat trailing 0-5 in the match deciding tiebreak.

But he dug himself out of a hole to storm into the quarterfinals for the seventh time in his Grand Slam career, but he has never progressed further.

“I think I was never able to win matches like this and this was the first time ever that I won something like this to be in the quarterfinal,” said Rublev, who was down 5-2 in the fifth set before storming back.

American Ben Shelton continued his dream Australian Open debut after overcoming compatriot J.J. Wolf with a tense 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory.

The 20-year-old will play Tommy Paul in an all-American quarterfinal in what has been a resurgence for men’s players from the U.S..

Paul defeated Spain’s 24th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

The upsets at an unpredictable tournament continued when Garcia of France fell to 45th ranked Magda Linette 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the women’s singles.

It was a bitter disappointment for Garcia, who has had a career revival in the last 12 months and eyed a first Grand Slam triumph.

But she’ll have to wait after 30-year-old Linette reached her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.

Linette of Poland will face former world number one Karolina Pliskova, who ended a strong run from China’s Zhang Shuai 6-0, 6-4.

Zhang, the last remaining Chinese player in either the men’s or women’s singles draw, fell to Pliskova for the eighth straight match.

The 23rd seed Zhang was unable to match her fairytale quarterfinal runs at the 2016 Australian Open and 2019 Wimbledon.

But she did reach the last 16 for the second straight Grand Slam after making the fourth round at last year’s US Open.

In-form Aryna Sabalenka has ascended to title favouritism alongside third seed Jessica Pegula after comfortably defeating Belinda Bencic 7-5, 6-2.

The fifth seed set up a last-eight clash against unseeded Donna Vekic, who overcame a mid-match stutter to beat 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.

Notably playing with a steelier edge, Sabalenka has been in irresistable form as she strives for a maiden Grand Slam trophy.

“My whole life, it took me a little while to understand that negative emotion is not gonna help you on court,” she said.

“You have to just stay strong and believe no matter what and then do everything you can.”

Title favourite Pegula and men’s third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas highlight quarterfinal action on Tuesday.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Haaland scores five as Man City beat Luton for FA Cup quarters





LONDON, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) — Erling Haaland scored five times as FA Cup holders Manchester City booked their place in the quarterfinals of the competition with a 6-2 win away to Luton Town.

Kevin de Bruyne showed his importance to Pep Guardiola’s side with assists for the goals after three, 18 and 40 minutes, before Jordan Clark showed Luton’s fighting spirit with goals in the 45th and 52nd minutes.

Haaland made it 4-2 almost immediately after another De Bruyne assist and then scored his fifth of the night in the 58th minute after a pass from Bernardo Silva.

Mateo Kovacic made it 6-2 with 18 minutes left to play and the only setback for City was a first-half injury suffered by Jack Grealish.

Bournemouth and Championship leaders Leicester City exchanged over 30 shots in 90 minutes, with both sides hitting the woodwork, but no goals after 90 minutes took the game into extra time.

Leicester booked their quarterfinal place thanks to Abdul Fatawu’s 25-meter thunderbolt in the 105th minute, and although Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers got a hand to it, he couldn’t keep it out.

Anthony Gordon gave Newcastle a 71st-minute lead away to Blackburn Rovers, but Sammie Szmodics leveled after Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka had tipped a shot from Dilan Markanday onto the bar.

Extra time failed to produce any more goals and Dubravka was Newcastle’s hero with two saves in the penalty shootout as his side went through 4-3.

Wednesday’s matches see Chelsea at home to Leeds United, while Liverpool entertain Southampton, Wolverhampton face Brighton, and Nottingham Forest are at home to Manchester United.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Gov’t announces ongoing development of tennis complex in Hulhumale’





Minister of Sports, Fitness, and Recreation Abdulla Rafiu has announced the ongoing development of a world-class tennis complex in Hulhumale’.

The complex will ne located near the synthetic athletics track in Hulhumale’. The project is being funded by Honorary President of the Tennis Association of Maldives Ahmed Nazeer, who laid the foundation stone in March last year.

Speaking to PSM News, Minister Rafiu expressed the significance of the complex in hosting top-tier tournaments, highlighting the government’s intervention with the Housing Development Corporation Limited (HDC) after a year of stagnation. He praised Honorary President Nazeer’s dedication to expediting the construction at his own expense, acknowledging his substantial contributions to the sport.

Additionally, Minister Rafiu addressed the challenge of Maldivian athletes transitioning from outdoor to indoor competitions. He also underscored the government’s commitment to establishing new sports complexes to mitigate the issue.

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s Week 14 Roadmap emphasises the development of sports facilities, particularly focusing on football and netball complexes. Land allocation for these projects has already been completed, with the netball complex slated for Hulhumale’ Phase I and the football complex for Hulhumale’ Phase II. The initiatives mark the inception of five stadium complexes in the Maldives, designed to accommodate various sporting events.

Source(s): PsmNews

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Real Madrid beat Sevilla, while Barca move second in La Liga





MADRID, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) — Real Madrid beat Sevilla 1-0 in La Liga on Sunday night to move eight points clear of FC Barcelona and nine in front of Girona thanks to an 81st-minute goal from Luka Modric.

Modric fired home an unstoppable effort from outside the area to end stubborn resistance from the visitors, who had ex-Madrid captain Sergio Ramos at the heart of their much-improved defense.

Ramos received a homage from Real Madrid for his 671 matches at the club, before he and his Sevilla teammates went close to frustrating the fans in the Bernabeu.

Modric’s strike came after the ball had been only half-cleared, although Sevilla complained the original ball into their area had been aimed at Antonio Rudiger, who was in a clear offside position.

Both keepers made decent saves to keep the score at 0-0 until Modric’s goal.

FC Barcelona produced arguably their best performance this season to beat Getafe 4-0 on Saturday

Goals from Raphinha, Joao Felix, Frenkie de Jong and Fermin Lopez beat a below-par Getafe to move Barca ahead of Girona, who play on Monday.

Atletico Madrid, who were without the injured Antoine Griezmann, could only draw away to bottom-of-the-table Almeria, for whom Luka Romero scored spectacular brace to cancel out goals from Angel Correa and Rodrigo de Paul.

Athletic Bilbao, who play Atletico in the Copa del Rey semifinal on Thursday, were unable to take advantage of Atletico’s slip-up as they lost 3-1 away to Real Betis on a day when everything seemed to go wrong for them.

Chimy Avila put Betis ahead with his first goal for the club, and it was 2-0 when Unai Simon made a save only for the ball to rebound off Yuri Berchiche and end up in the net.

Nico Williams was then sent off for the visitors after sarcastically applauding the referee, and Yuri had to leave the pitch with a hamstring injury.

Gorka Guruzeta pulled a goal back for Athletic with a header in first-half injury time, but Johnny Cardoso’s 67th-minute shot made the points safe for Betis.

Osasuna and Las Palmas drew a mid-table match 1-1, with Unai Garcia opening the scoring for the home side with a 48th-minute volley, only for Kirian Rodriguez to smash home from just outside of the area in the 52nd minute to assure a point.

Darwin Machis scored a 99th-minute goal that saw Cadiz come back from 2-0 down at home to Celta Vigo to claim a point that maintains their chances of avoiding relegation.

Things looked grim for Cadiz when goals from Iago Aspas and Williot Swedberg made it 2-0 for the visitors, but Juanmi pulled a goal back with a smart finish and Machis saved a vital point in the ninth minute of added time following a corner.

Alaves and Mallorca drew 1-1 with a result that keeps the home side well clear of the relegation zone and leaves the visitors in trouble.

Carlos Benavidez headed Alaves in front after 75 minutes of a close match, but Matija Nastasic gave Mallorca a morale boost ahead of Tuesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal return leg when he nodded home an equalizer two minutes from time.

On Friday night, Santi Comesana scored twice as Villarreal won 3-1 away to Real Sociedad, with a goal from former Real Sociedad forward Alexander Sorloth rubbing salt in the wounds for the home side, who are dropping a lot of points at home.

The scheduled game between Granada and Valencia was postponed because of a fire in Valencia on Thursday which claimed 10 lives.

Source(s): Xinhua

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