Djokovic cautious of semi-final underdog in quest for twenty second Slam title
MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic has received all 9 of his Australian Open semi-finals and isn’t able to let Tommy Paul wreck his unblemished report on Friday as he closes in on a twenty second Grand Slam crown.
The Serb, who received his first Slam at Melbourne Park in 2008, struggled bodily within the early rounds this yr with a hamstring damage.
However straight-sets thrashings of Alex de Minaur and Andrey Rublev for the lack of simply 12 video games ominously signalled that the favorite is again to his finest for the semi-finals.
Ought to he beat the unseeded American Paul on Rod Laver Enviornment, he’ll face both third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov as a closing roadblock to a tenth Australian Open title on Sunday.
Djokovic has further motivation to go all the best way and equal Rafael Nadal’s twenty second Grand Slam crowns after lacking final yr’s occasion when he was deported over his Covid vaccination stance. In his absence, the Spanish nice received.
“I at all times attempt to give my finest, significantly in Grand Slams, as a result of at this stage of my profession, these are the tournaments that depend probably the most,” stated the 35-year-old.
“However you would say that there’s something further this yr. You can say as a result of, yeah, the damage, what occurred final yr, I simply wished to actually do effectively.
“Up to now I’ve an ideal rating in Australian exhausting courts, in Adelaide (which he received) and right here. I’ve been enjoying higher and higher. I couldn’t ask for a greater scenario to be in in the meanwhile.”
With Djokovic on a 26-match win streak on the Australian Open — equalling Andre Agassi’s Open-era report on the first Grand Slam of the yr — the Thirty fifth-ranked Paul is a heavy underdog.
The 25-year-old is a shock semi-finalist, making this far at a significant for the primary time on the 14th try.
“We by no means performed a match towards one another. Clearly, he’s fairly snug right here in Australia,” Paul stated.
“It’s going to be a difficult match, however I’m enjoying a few of my finest tennis, so it’s time.”
Djokovic stated he had been monitoring the American and wouldn’t underestimate the problem.
“He’s been enjoying in all probability the tennis of his life,” he stated. “Very explosive, very dynamic participant. I believe he can hit all of the spots with the serve. Very full participant.
“First semi-finals for him, so in fact he doesn’t have a lot to lose.”
Tsitsipas meets Khachanov within the different last-four showdown on Friday, aiming to snap a run of three semi-final losses in Melbourne, together with over the previous two years.
Now 24, he believes he has matured and that this might lastly be his yr as he bids to turn out to be the youngest champion since Djokovic received the title in 2011 aged 23.
“I’m feeling nice with my tennis. I don’t suppose I felt so good in a very long time,” the Greek stated.
“I’ve stated it — I’m a special participant (from the previous), enjoying completely different. My mentality is completely different.”
He has received all 5 earlier encounters with Khachanov, most lately on the Rome Masters final yr, and stated he was desirous to face the Russian once more.
“It’s a match that I’m trying ahead to,” he stated. “I’m trying forward for extra, for higher. Trying to create some magical experiences right here in Australia.”
The 26-year-old Russian additionally made the semi-finals at September’s US Open.
He has now made the quarters or higher in any respect 4 Grand Slams and can draw on the expertise when he performs the Greek star.
“I believe the primary semi-finals, which I did in US Open, that gave me an additional increase and additional confidence to point out the place I actually am, and what I can do once I’m at my finest,” he stated. “I believe all these issues collectively, they push me to the place I’m proper now.”
Bullish Robinson predicts snug Ashes win for England
LONDON: England’s resurgent check crew can win the Ashes “comfortably” on residence soil this yr and make up for his or her 4-0 drubbing in Australia within the final collection, quick bowler Ollie Robinson stated.
Coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes have led England to 10 wins in 12 checks since taking up early final yr on the again of an aggressive fashion of play dubbed “Bazball”.
With England having fun with such a powerful run of type, Robinson noticed no cause why they need to not really feel assured about profitable the Ashes for the primary time since 2015 when the collection begins on June 16 at Edgbaston.
“The best way we’re taking part in cricket in the meanwhile, we really feel like we are able to actually stick one on them and win the collection comfortably,” he instructed British media on Wednesday. “There’s undoubtedly a want there nonetheless, a starvation to place it proper.
“I felt after I obtained again from that journey I didn’t depart all of it on the market and I’d let myself down and the facet down just a little bit,” stated Robinson.
“There’s numerous hungry boys this summer season desirous to beat the Aussies once more … It’s one of many greatest collection we play, so why not discuss it up?”
England’s radical rebrand has yielded outcomes each at residence and overseas as they blanked New Zealand 3-0, beat South Africa 2-1 and accomplished a 3-0 sweep in Pakistan. They misplaced their final check by one run in opposition to New Zealand in Wellington in February.
“We’ve been dominating groups in all circumstances for 12 months now,” Robinson stated. “In England we dominated, in Pakistan we dominated, and in New Zealand, we performed a lot of the cricket for 9 days and misplaced on the final day.
“With Baz and Stokesy main the facet, from one to 11, we’ve enormous confidence and it places us in an amazing place for the summer season.”
Germany fail first true post-World Cup check with Euro in sight
COLOGNE: Germany coach Hansi Flick has admitted his group have “a whole lot of work to do” to be prepared for a tilt on the Euro 2024 title, simply over a 12 months earlier than internet hosting the match.
The four-time world and three-time European champions on Tuesday slumped to a 3-2 dwelling defeat in a pleasant towards a Belgium group who have been dumped out of final 12 months’s World Cup within the group stage.
Germany additionally exited the match in Qatar on the first hurdle, for the second straight World Cup, to proceed a disastrous four-year spell by their excessive requirements.
“We’ve got numerous work to do. We all know that,” the supervisor stated after Germany’s first loss to Belgium since 1954.
A dominant 2-0 win over Peru on Saturday in Germany’s first match since their World Cup debacle had raised hopes of a revival.
However towards Belgium, Germany confirmed they have been nonetheless effectively off matching Europe’s elite.
“If I used to be to say that we’re tremendous comfortable, then that may not be true. It’s clear that every little thing isn’t at 100%,” Flick stated.
Germany reached not less than the semi-finals at six consecutive main tournaments between 2006 and 2016 however have didn’t even make the quarters since, having additionally been knocked out within the final 16 by England at Euro 2020.
Typically put down to only dangerous luck and poor ending, the poor run of kind is trying increasingly vital.
After the same stoop which noticed Germany knocked out within the group stage at Euro 2000 and Euro 2004, a younger group restored confidence by reaching the World Cup final 4 on dwelling soil in 2006.
However Flick is aware of an early exit subsequent 12 months as hosts would characterize all-time low for Europe’s most embellished nationwide group.
‘The worst I’ve seen’
Not identified for mincing his phrases, Ballon d’Or winner turned TV pundit Lothar Matthaeus laid into the facet’s timid opening towards Belgium, which noticed the guests rating twice within the first 10 minutes.
“That was the worst that I’ve seen in my lengthy, lengthy life,” stated the 1990 World Cup winner.
“They let the Belgians stand and play,” he added.
Flick intervened after simply half-hour, bringing on Emre Can, who had began the earlier match towards Peru, and Germany appeared a unique facet afterwards.
“The supervisor reacted after which issues received higher,” stated striker Niclas Fuellkrug, who scored his sixth objective in six Germany caps from the spot.
Captain Joshua Kimmich stated that “from the thirtieth minute it was undoubtedly higher”, including “the second half was extra like how we imagined it”.
Flick referred to as Can “the aggressive chief we would have liked” and credited the previous Liverpool participant for “waking up the group”.
“A gap 25 minutes like that mustn’t ever be repeated.”
‘We nonetheless have time’
With Germany already certified for the European Championship as the house nation, Flick had promised to experiment with group picks within the two friendlies and stood down a number of first-team regulars together with Thomas Mueller, Leroy Sane, Niklas Suele and Antonio Ruediger.
The loss nevertheless couldn’t be chalked as much as blooding inexperienced children, with solely 4 of the 17 who took the pitch on Tuesday aged below 27.
Flick’s subsequent check will are available June, when Germany tackle Ukraine at dwelling and Robert Lewandowski’s Poland away.
“Our objective is to develop additional,” Flick stated. “Video games like this are good for our growth. We’ve got to take the constructive issues with us and work on the opposite issues.”
The loss to Belgium, who’ve spent a lot of the previous few years because the world’s quantity one-ranked nation, is a far cry from the lows of a 6-0 thrashing by Spain in November 2020 and the house defeat towards North Macedonia in 2022 World Cup qualifying.
However captain Kimmich is aware of lots has to alter within the subsequent 15 months, saying: “Right this moment we seen that we’re not but on the high worldwide degree.
“Luckily, we nonetheless have a bit little bit of time.”
Messi scores one centesimal Argentina purpose in Curacao romp
SANTIAGO DEL ESTERO: Argentina captain Lionel Messi on Tuesday scored his one centesimal worldwide purpose for the reigning world champions as they romped to a 7-0 pleasant win over outclassed Curacao.
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi opened the scoring towards the Caribbean island minnows on 20 minutes in Santiago del Estero.
It got here 17 years after he opened his Argentina account in a 3-2 defeat to Croatia in March 2006.
The 35-year-old quickly added one other simply after the half-hour mark to make it 3-0, after which accomplished his hat-trick on 37 minutes with the fifth as Argentina toyed with their overmatched opponents.
It was his seventh hat-trick for the nationwide crew.
“You can not describe Messi in phrases,” stated fellow goalscorer Nicolas Gonzalez.
“He’s the very best on the planet and he exhibits it match after match, day after day. Each time he touches the ball, he makes you smile.”
Messi got here into the sport not simply as his nation’s all-time file goalscorer, however with extra objectives than the subsequent two prime marksmen — Gabriel Batistuta on 56 and Sergio Aguero with 41 — put collectively.
This was Argentina’s second match since successful the World Cup in dramatic type towards France in Qatar in December — triumphing 4-2 on penalties after an exciting 3-3 draw — and it was all the time going to be about Messi reaching 100 objectives.
Now with 102, he stays third within the all-time listing, behind nice rival Cristiano Ronaldo (122) of Portugal and Iran’s Ali Daei (109).
‘Straight to the museum’
Messi had come up quick on Thursday final week when he notched his 99th purpose for the Albiceleste as Argentina toiled of their homecoming celebration match towards Panama.
The Central People had held out till the 78th minute earlier than 21-year-old MLS sensation Thiago Almada broke their resistance.
Messi then scored direct from a free-kick a minute from time — his 800th purpose in skilled soccer — in entrance of 83,000 delirious followers in Buenos Aires.
Curacao, ranked 86th by world governing physique FIFA, might solely maintain out for 20 minutes earlier than Messi took a move from Giovanni Lo Ceslo, lower inside his marker onto his weaker proper foot and fired a low shot into the underside nook.
The referee was then seen on stay tv throwing the ball to somebody on the facet of the pitch as DirecTV commentators speculated that it was heading “straight to the museum.”
Three minutes later Gonzalez outjumped goalkeeper Eloy Room to move house from 4 yards.
Gonzalez turned supplier as Messi scored the primary of three objectives in 4 minutes, this time together with his left foot.
He then laid off the ball for Enzo Fernandez to make it 4 with a shot from a distance earlier than Lo Celso launched Messi behind the protection to notch his treble.
Argentina took their foot off the gasoline within the second half, with solely a generously-awarded Angel Di Maria penalty and a close-range end from Gonzalo Montiel including to the rating.
However the 42,000 followers current remained in a celebration temper all through, ready for his or her heroes to elevate the World Cup trophy in entrance of them.
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