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Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Latest: Bertens’ win closes women’s 3rd Rd in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on the Australian Open (all times local):
11:10 a.m.
No. 9 seed Kiki Bertens has reached the Australian Open’s fourth round for the first time.
Bertens closed out the women’s third round at Melbourne Park by beating Zarina Diyas 6-2, 7-6 (3).
Bertens compiled a 35-19 edge in winners and her serve was broken only once.
The best showing for Bertens at any Grand Slam tournament was a run to the semifinals of the French Open in 2016.
Bertens is the first Dutch woman to reach the round of 16 at the Australian Open since Brenda Schultz-McCarthy in 1996.
Next for Bertens is a match against two-time major champion GarbiƱe Muguruza.
10:40 p.m.
Nick Kyrgios and Karen Khachanov are heading to a fifth set in the last men’s third-round match at the Australian Open.
The winner will face Rafael Nadal.
Kyrgios took the opening two sets, then Khachanov the next two. Kyrgios had two match points along the way.
In another third-round match at night, 2019 U.S. Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev had no trouble beating 96th-ranked Alexei Popyrin, a 20-year-old Australian who is ranked 96th and was dealing with a left hip issue.
Medvedev won 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 and faces three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka next.

Lukaku: Conte told me I was trash in front of Inter stars

Romelu Lukaku has revealed that Inter head coach Antonio Conte’s no-nonsense approach is getting the best out of his game.
The Belgium international moved to the Serie A outfit from Manchester United for £75 million ($98m) in the summer and has rapidly established himself as one of the most dangerous forwards in Italy’s top flight.
After being perceived as a flop at Old Trafford, he has excelled in Milan, where he has 14 goals in 20 Serie A appearances this season.
He says that the mentality of Conte is getting the best from his game and even said that being rubbished in front of his team-mates after one particularly poor display has motivated him to achieve greater heights.
“I remember one of my first Champions League games against Slavia Prague when I played really bad - like I was trash that day - and I really got it from him in front of the whole team,” the former Everton hitman told Sky Sports.
“He told me that I was really trash and that he would take me off after five minutes if I would have done it again.
“It's little things like that. And we played the Milan derby just after that and I played one of my best games of the season.
“He just gave me that - he stepped on my confidence but it woke me up at the same time. He does it to everybody, it doesn't matter who you are. Everybody is equal.
“It had never really happened to me before. It had never happened.
“The manager, he tells it straight to your face if you're doing well or wrong.”
Lukaku also credits the formations used with Inter and Belgium, where Roberto Martinez is head coach, for his strong form.
“When there is a lot of movement around me, here and with the Belgian national team, I am at my best because then I can create myself and I can be at the end of the delivery,” he added.
“Right now, the systems we are playing, here at Inter with the 3-5-2, and with the Belgium national team in a 3-4-3 with players close to me.
“Here [at Inter] we play in a system where you have to be in a certain position but at the end of the day, if you stand in the right position, you get chances.
“It is different with the Belgian national team, where there is much more freedom but I have more players around me.”

Man Utd will not change Bruno Fernandes transfer offer after discovery of secret clause

Manchester United are desperate to sign Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon this month.
Manchester United want to complete a deal for Bruno Fernandes before the January 31 transfer deadline next week. But Ed Woodward will not bid any more than €50million because of a secret clause in the player’s contract, according to reports.
United and Sporting Lisbon have been locked in talks with neither team willing to compromise in recent days.
The Red Devils want to add Fernandes to their ranks with Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay injured, and a lack of quality in their squad overall.
Fernandes was also the subject of interest in the summer with Tottenham bidding €35m for his services.
In the 25-year-old’s contract at the time any bid of that amount would trigger a clause which meant Sporting had to pay the player €5m if they rejected the offer.
Fernandes went on the record in the summer transfer window saying he had waived his right to claim that financial reward.
Since then the United transfer target has signed a new contract but according to TVI24 journalist Rui Pedro Braz there is still a clause.
Instead of €35m, the figure is now reportedly €50m (£42m), which has been leaked to the Red Devils allowing chief Woodward to hold firm on not going above that number.
United are said to know the financial difficulty Sporting are in and have no plans to increase their bid as a result, according to TVI24 journalist Rui Pedro Braz.
Fernandes has been in sensational form this season, netting 15 goals and providing 14 assists for his team-mates.
And that has put him on the radar of United who are desperate for creativity in midfield.
That need has become even more urgent after the humiliating 2-0 defeat to Burnley at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Wednesday.
And ahead of United’s next match against Tranmere in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday (3pm), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted they are working to get a couple of deals done.
He said: “It is stretched, but of course we're getting players back after the break as well, so we will be better off with a break.
“We're still working on one or two things, so let's see if the club can get it over the line.”
As well as Fernandes, United are looking at bringing in a striker on loan after Marcus Rashford suffered a double stress fracture to his back.
The England international is set to miss three months of action, leaving Solskjaer with few options in attack.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard makes Jadon Sancho and Wilfried Zaha transfer decision

Jadon Sancho and Wilfried Zaha have both been targeted by Chelsea.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard does not want to sign either Jadon Sancho or Wilfried Zaha this month, says transfer expert Ian McGarry. Express Sport understands Chelsea are keen on wingers Sancho and Zaha after their transfer ban was lifted by FIFA last month. But Lampard has now decided against pursuing the duo in this window.
McGarry said on the Transfer Window podcast: “Lots of talk about Jadon Sancho and Wilfried Zaha, though I’m told that Lampard’s interest in both of those players is very limited because he doesn’t believe they are the right players to come into this squad.”
Lampard was asked about potential new signings before the end of the window at his press conference on Friday.
And the former Chelsea midfielder confirmed he is still in the market for a goalscorer.
“The impetus to bring in a striker or players potentially that can get on the end of these chances we're creating is there, and we have to be really honest about that,” Lampard said.
"Recent games have shown that if we are struggling to create that's one problem, but when you're creating 20 chances a game and not scoring enough goals that can be crucial.
“So I don't think it absolutely changes it but Tammy [Abraham] of course has been our main source of goals, so yes, it's very relevant.
“I think there’s choice but it’s not the ideal window.
“I think history has proven that, albeit there have been some good acquisitions for teams that have made a difference in the short term and long term.
“So I think it’s about trying to get the choice right of the player that we can bring in of what’s available. And I think there is.
“The club know my thoughts on it, I’m saying the same thing pretty much every press conference and the games are showing that.
“So we’ll have to see by the time the window shuts.”
Chelsea have also been linked with a move for Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare.
But Lampard says the Frenchman is not on his wish list for this month.
“I’m aware of him as a player but he’s not on my radar for this window, to be fair,” he added.
“We played against them [Lille] and I know he’s a good player but that’s one that’s not on the immediate radar, albeit he’s a good player.
“But he’s another club’s player.”

Transfer news and rumours UPDATES: Eriksen set to complete €20m Inter move

Sagna in negotiations with Ligue 1 side
Former Manchester City and Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna is in talks with Nantes, L'Equipe reports.
A free agent after his contract with the Montreal Impact expired, the 36-year-old could make a return to his homeland.
Eriksen set to complete €20m Inter move
The Danish star's transfer saga is finally set to end
Christian Eriksen will complete a €20 million (£16.7m) move to Inter next week, the Guardian reports.
Inter had several bids for the Denmark star knocked back before terms between the clubs were finally agreed.
Eriksena will sign a four-and-a-half-year contract worth £260,000 per week, which could rise to £320,000 with add-ons.

Newcastle boss Bruce drops Rose hint
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has suggested that he would love to sign England international left-back Danny Rose on loan from Tottenham this January.
“The kid’s a quality player and a class act,” Bruce said. “Whether it’s possible, who knows.”
Rose, 29, has made 12 Premier League appearances for Spurs in 2019-20.
Celtic interested in Toney
Celtic are closely watching Peterborough striker Ivan Toney, according to the Daily Record.
The Hoops have scouted the forward, who has 19 goals in 33 League One outings, on a couple of occasions.
Moyes rejects Payet transfer talk
Despite reports linking Dimitri Payet with a move back to West Ham, manager David Moyes has rubbished the rumours.
Payet starred for West Ham for a season and a half before forcing a move to Marseille in 2017.
Leeds set for Augustin swoop
Leeds United are close to signing Jean-Kevin Augustin, according to L'Equipe.
Currently on loan at Monaco from RB Leipzig, the striker is not getting game time in the principality and could make the switch to the Championship side.

Friday, January 24, 2020

‘I’m better than that’: Serena stunned at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Down to what sure felt like her last chance, Serena Williams came through with a cross-court forehand winner to close a 24-stroke point, then raised her arms, held that celebratory pose and looked over toward her guest box.
Finally, on her sixth try, after 1½ hours of action, she had managed to convert a break point against 27th-seeded Wang Qiang in the Australian Open’s third round.
Right then, it appeared that the comeback was on, the bid for a 24th Grand Slam singles title could continue. It turned out that Williams only was delaying a surprising defeat.
So tough at the toughest moments for so many years, Williams just could not quite do enough to put aside some shaky serving and all manner of other miscues, instead making her earliest exit at Melbourne Park in 14 years, a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 loss to Wang on Friday.
“I was optimistic that I would be able to win. I thought, ‘OK, now finish this off.’ I honestly didn’t think I was going to lose that match,” Williams said about her mindset after forcing a third set.
She began by crediting Wang but eventually shifted to criticizing herself for not playing well enough to win.
“I didn’t return like Serena. Honestly, if we were just honest with ourselves, I lost that match,” Williams said. “I can’t play like that. I literally can’t do that again. It’s unprofessional. It’s not cool.”
Williams was broken in the final game after more than 2 1/2 hours, fittingly ending things with a backhand into the net. That was her 27th unforced error on the backhand side, part of a total of 56 miscues. Wang made only 20.
“I’m better than that,” said Williams, who trudged through the long walkway that leads to the locker room, carrying two bags, while Wang was doing the winner’s interview in Rod Laver Arena.
Later, at her news conference, Wang laughed as she said: “I always believed I could do this one day. I didn’t know which day.”
Since grabbing major championship No. 23 at the 2017 Australian Open, while she was pregnant, Williams hasn’t added to her total.
She appeared in four major finals over the past two seasons, losing each one.
And she bowed out much, much sooner this time, animated as can be, often displaying what she later called “the signature ‘Serena frustration’ look.”
Williams owns seven trophies from the Australian Open and hadn’t lost as early as the third round at either of the hard-court Grand Slam tournaments — in Melbourne or at the U.S Open — since all the way back in 2006.
Here is just one measure of how unexpected this result was: The only other time these two women faced each other came at Flushing Meadows last September — the only Slam quarterfinal appearance of Wang’s career thus far — and Williams needed all of 44 minutes to dominate her way to a 6-1, 6-0 victory. The total points were 50 to 15.
Wang quickly surpassed those game and point totals Friday, thanks in large part to nearly flawless play in the first set.
She saved all four break points she faced in that set, accumulated 10 winners and made just five unforced errors. Wang picked up the lone break she needed at love with an easy forehand putaway winner that made it 5-4, and she soon owned the set.
After that lopsided loss in New York, Wang decided she needed more powerful strokes to compete with the likes of Williams, devoting her offseason to more work in the gym.
“I think it worked,” Wang said, nodding. “You can see the result.”
Wang quickly went up a break in the second set, too. Then, when Wang served for the victory at 5-4, Williams seemed to shift the entire complexion of the match.
She was 0 for 5 on break chances until then but the sixth time was the charm. On the point of the day, with both players slugging away from the baseline, it was Williams who did what it took to take it.
She was superior in the tiebreaker, too, and on they went to a third set.
“During the second set, (I was) a little bit confused. … I have to be calm, you know?” Wang said. “A little bit confused inside, but my mind always told me I had to focus on the court, focus on the point and trust myself.”
Asked whether she would party Friday night, Wang offered a simple answer: “No.”
So what were her plans?
“Rest,” she said, “and just prepare for the next match.”
That will come against 78th-ranked Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who ended the career of Caroline Wozniacki by eliminating the 2018 Australian Open champion and former No. 1 by a 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 score.
The 29-year-old Wozniacki had announced that she would retire after this tournament. Following her final match, she sat on her courtside chair and cried.
At least the Dane was able to quickly joke about the circumstances, saying: “It was only fitting that my last match ended with a forehand error.”
She and Williams are close friends; their losses concluded at around the same time. They ran into each other in the locker room and “were both kind of bummed,” said Williams, who teared up herself while discussing Wozniacki.
Friday’s winners included No. 1 Ash Barty, two-time major champion Petra Kvitova, No. 18 Alison Riske and No. 22 Maria Sakkari. In men’s action, defending champ Novak Djokovic, No. 14 Diego Schwarzman and unseeded Marton Fucsovics advanced.
The defending women’s champion, Naomi Osaka, was scheduled to take on 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff at night.
This was the first Grand Slam tournament in 11 years with each of the top 10 seeded women reaching the third round. Who would have suspected Williams would be the first to lose?
Williams was only seeded No. 8, on account of how infrequently she has competed since being away from the tour while having a baby daughter in September 2017.
But she is still about as good as it gets in women’s tennis, as evidenced by her so-close-yet-so-far Grand Slam showings of late: The 38-year-old American was the runner-up at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in both 2018 and 2019.
She started 2020 well enough, winning a hard-court tuneup title in Auckland, New Zealand, this month for her first trophy of any sort in three years — and first as a mom.
But Williams wasn’t able to carry that success to the Grand Slam level, where it matters the most to her.
“I’m way too old to play like this at this stage of my career,” Williams said. “Definitely going to be training tomorrow, that’s first and foremost — to make sure I don’t do this again.”

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