Wimbledon champion Rybakina, 5th seed Sabalenka to clash in Australian Open women's final

MELBOURNE, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- A new Australian Open womens champion will be crowned with reigning Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka to battle for the trophy after recording commanding victories in the semifinals on Thursday.Kazakhstans Elena Rybakina hits a return against Belarus Victoria Azarenka during their womens singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Belarus Aryna Sabalenka smiles after victory against Polands Magda Linette during their womens singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Strong-serving 22nd seed Rybakina ended the resurgence of former champion Victoria Azarenka, who won titles in Melbourne in 2012 and 2013 but couldnt wind back the clock on this occasion.Rybakina of Kazakhstan fired down nine aces in her 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over 33-year-old Azarenka to reach her second Grand Slam final."Im super happy to be in the final. Today it was a bit tougher for me because it was different conditions," said Rybakina, who noted the blustery conditions on Rod Laver Arena."I couldnt play really aggressive tennis...but Im happy that in the end I managed to win.""For sure, I got a lot of experience from Wimbledon and, to be honest, I just want to come on court and really enjoy the moment, enjoy the atmosphere."The 23-year-old Rybakina has proven her shock Wimbledon triumph is no fluke after a stellar run in Melbourne yielded impressive victories over top seed Iga Swiatek in the fourth round and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals.In a see-saw of a first set against 24th seed Azarenka, Rybakinas trusted serve occasionally deserted her, but she broke twice and then held her nerve in the tiebreak to draw first blood.A confident Rybakina put the foot do...

Novak Djokovic, Aryna Sabalenka march into Australian Open semifinals

Novak Djokovic celebrates victory against Andrey Rublev during their mens singles quarterfinal match on day 10 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, January 25, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Novak Djokovic is two wins away from a 22nd Grand Slam crown after bulldozing into the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday, while Aryna Sabalenka was equally impressive in reaching the womens last four.Serbias Djokovic delivered a masterclass to crush Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena and set up a meeting with Tommy Paul for a place in Sundays final.Djokovics quest to go level with great rival Rafael Nadal on a leading 22 major titles carries an air of inevitability.The 35-year-old struggled with a hamstring injury in the early rounds at Melbourne Park but was dominant during his fourth-round demolition of Alex de Minaur and was equally clinical against the outclassed Rublev."Last two matches, playing against two guys who were in form and to beat them dominantly in three sets is something that I definitely want in this moment, something that sends a message to all my opponents," said a buoyant Djokovic."With this kind of game the confidence level rises, so I feel better on the court as the tournament progresses."Victory for the red-hot favorite propelled him into a 44th Grand Slam semi-final to close the gap on Roger Federers all-time record of 46.Anything other than a rampant win for Djokovic against unseeded Paul would amount to a massive upset, albeit at a tournament that has seen numerous shocks in the mens and womens draws.Aryna Sabalenka (L) shakes hands with Donna Vekic after Sabalenkas victory in their womens singles quarterfinal match on day 10 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, January 25, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Sabalenka set up a semi-final with surprise-package Magda Linette after once again displaying the kind of form a...

IOC seeks for ways to let Russia, Belarus athletes back to international competitions

Olympic rings seen in front of the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo: CFP)GENEVA, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC), accompanied with International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs), are seeking for ways to bring athletes of Russia and Belarus back to the international competitions, according to a statement released by the IOC on Wednesday.IOC, IFs, NOCs and athletes representatives unanimously agreed on the sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian State and Government, the solidarity of the Olympic Movement with the Ukrainian athletes and the Ukrainian Olympic community, as well as the possible access to sports competitions for individual athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports, IOC announced.The Executive Board (EB) of the IOC met on Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, following the unanimous conclusions of the Olympic Summit on December 9 and consultation calls with IOC Members, the global network of athletes representatives, IFs and NOCs on January 17-19, to make the statement.The vast majority of the participants in each of the consultation call agreed to "respect the rights of all athletes to be treated without any discrimination, in accordance with the Olympic Charter. Governments must not decide which athletes can participate in which competition and which athletes cannot," IOC said."A pathway for athletes participation in competition under strict conditions should therefore be further explored," IOC added.In the statement, IOC also disclosed a letter from the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying: "We express serious concern, however, about the recommendation to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials such as judges from international competitions, based solely on their nationality, as a matter of principle. This raises serious issues of non-discrimination."It also cited the President of the 77th...

Paul beats Shelton in all-US quarterfinal at Australian Open

Tommy Paul received a lot less attention than his younger, less-experienced, opponent, Ben Shelton, heading into their all-American quarterfinal at the Australian Open.Tommy Paul of the U.S. celebrates after defeating compatriot Ben Shelton in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Photo: AP)Perhaps that was a product of the fascination with the out-of-nowhere Shelton: Just 20, and less than a year after winning an NCAA title for the University of Florida, he was traveling outside of the United States for the first time and participating in his second Grand Slam tournament.So the loud shouts of support heard most often at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday under the sun that carried the temperature to 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) were for one of the pair: "Lets go, Benny! Lets go!" or "Benny, Benny, Benny! Oi, Oi, Oi!" or "Go, Gators!""He had a pretty good trip," Paul noted.Pauls story is a pretty good one, too, and it is the one that will keep going at Melbourne Park: The 25-year-old from New Jersey was a star in the juniors and now is making good on that promise in the pros, using a 7-6 (6), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Shelton to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal in his 14th appearance at a major.As a bonus, Pauls mother was in the Rod Laver Arena stands for the biggest victory of his career. He said Mom booked a flight after he won his fourth-round match, then went straight from work to the airport to make the long journey from the U.S. to Australia."Making it to the second weekend of a Slam, thats everyones dream when they start to play tennis," the 35th-ranked Paul said, "so I cant believe Im here right now."His path to this point went like this: He broke through as a teenager, taking the 2015 junior title at the French Open and getting to the final at Flushing Meadows that year, t...

How do you rate the performances of China's players in singles competition in Australian Open 2023?

As Zhang Shuai of China lost to Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 0-2 (0-6 and 4-6) in the womens singles Round of 16 match in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Monday, all nine players from the Chinese mainland finished their singles competitions in the first Grand Slam event in 2023.Zhang Shuai of China competes in the womens singles Round of 16 match against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 23, 2023. /CFPZhang Shuai of China competes in the womens singles Round of 16 match against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 23, 2023. /CFPReaching the Round of 16 was Zhangs second-best record in the Australian Open as she made the quarterfinals in 2016. As the No. 23 seed of the tournament, she defeated Patricia Maria Tig of Romania, Petra Martic of Croatia and Katie Volynets of the U.S. in the previous matches.Zhu Lin of China competes in the womens singles Round of 16 match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 22, 2023. /CFPZhu Lin of China competes in the womens singles Round of 16 match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 22, 2023. /CFPZhu Lin participated in the Australian Open for this first time this year. She went all the way to the womens singles Round of 16 after beating Rebecca Marino of Canada, Jil Teichmann of Switzerland and Maria Sakkari of Greece in the first three rounds. Though Zhu lost to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Sunday, her performance was remarkable enough after winning the first set against the former world No. 1 and two-time Australian Open champion.Wang Xinyu of China competes in the womens singles second-round match against Madison Keys of the U.S. in the Australian Open at Melbourne Pa...

Arsenal silence doubters with statement win over Man Utd

Premier League leaders Arsenal have had their title credentials questioned all season but their last-gasp 3-2 win against Manchester United has silenced many of the remaining doubters.(Photo: AFP)Eddie Nketiah scored the winner in the dying moments of a pulsating match at the Emirates on Sunday as the home fans were infused with fresh belief that this could be their year.The game against in-form United was seen as a critical test for the Gunners, especially after Manchester City closed the gap at the top of the table to just two points earlier in the day.It was a challenge they did not fluff, hitting back hard after conceding the first goal, scored by Marcus Rashford, and staying calm after Lisandro Martinez cancelled out Bukayo Sakas strike in the second half.Arsenal, who have made their best-ever start to an English top-flight season, now have 50 points after 19 games -- five clear of defending champions City with a game in hand at the halfway point of the campaign."I dont think it gets much better than that," said a buoyant Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta. "It was a beautiful moment, a really special one because we were pushing and pushing and pushing and the goal wasnt coming and it came at the end... it was just electric. It was really emotional, really passionate and I lost it."Arteta said he hopes the result, which follows last weeks 2-0 win against Tottenham in the north London derby, gives his team the belief that Arsenal can be crowned league champions for the first time since 2004.But he wants to keep his teams feet on the ground despite a remarkable season in which they have lost just once in the league."We know our reality, we know how much we still have to improve," said the Spaniard, who was previously Pep Guardiolas assistant at City.

China beat South Korea to get gold at Winter World University Games women's curling

Photo: Peoples DailyChinese womens curling team beated South Korea 6-4 on Saturday to clinch gold at the ongoing 2023 Winter World University Games, It was the first gold medal for the Chinese team at this Games and also the teams best performance at the event at the Games overseas.In the womens curling final of the 31st World University Winter Games held in Lake Placid, the US, the Chinese national team overcame a 3-0 deficit to win the final 6-4, winning the gold medal for the first time in 14 years.Falling behind 4-1 at halftime, the Chinese girls reaped at least one point in each of the next four ends for an amazing comeback win over the South Koreans, who had taken an 8-6 victory in their previous encounter in the round-robin preliminaries, the Xinhua News Agency reported."We were planning to grab the lead at the beginning, but unfortunately we couldnt make it happen. After that, we just went all out to attack, and I think our determination helped us win," said China coach Yu Zuojun, according to Xinhua.A total of 10 teams took part in the womens curling competitions at the World University Winter Games, with the top four teams in the round-robin qualifying for the semifinals.The Chinese womens curling team consists of the champions of Chinas College Curling National Championship and athletes from the Beijing Sports University. It includes Han Yu and Dong Ziqi, who represented the Chinese curling team at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.China won seven straight games in the round-robin to clinch an early berth in the semifinals.China beat the host US 6-5 in the semifinals to book a berth in the final against South Korea, the womens runner-up at the 2022 Pan Continental Curling Championships.Earlier on Saturday, China claimed the silver medal in the womens 3,000 meters relay of short track speed skating with a time of 4 minutes and 14.642 seconds. South Korea was crowned with 4:12.557, with the bro...

China's Zhu Lin edged out with narrow loss, Yang/Chan advance in women's doubles

Chinas Zhu Lin hits a return against Belarus Victoria Azarenka during their womens singles match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 22, 2023. (Photo: AFP)On day six of the Australian Open, Chinas Zhu Lin was edged 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 by the 24th-seeded and former Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, while Yang Zhaoxuan and her partner of Chinese Taipei Chan Hao-ching reached the third round in womens doubles with a straight-set win."It was a super tough match. Im really exhausted. I mean I gave everything out there, and Im really proud of myself," Zhu told reporters after the match."Victoria, shes a Grand Slam champion. You have to be like 120 percent, or even 200 percent to be able to beat her," the 28-year-old Chinese player said. "I need to be more consistent. This is what I need to work on."Zhu broke the two-time Australian Open champion and held her own serve to lead 2-0 before Azarenka survived six deuces to claw one point back in the fourth game.Both players fired roughly the same amount of winners - 15 from Azarenka and 14 from Zhu, but two double faults and 15 unforced errors obliged the Belarusian veteran to concede 6-4 in the 53-minute opening set.In the second set, Azarenka stormed to a commanding 5-0 advantage with higher serve speed but reduced errors. Facing a 40-0 down in the seventh game, Zhu tried to save the set with her impressive forehand winners, but Azarenka drew a backhand error from Zhu and hit 6-1 on the scoreboard.The breaking-serve episode kept repeating itself throughout the six games of the decider. When the score was tied at 4-4, Azarenka broke Zhu in the determining ninth game and held her serve in the following game to seal the hard-fought win after playing two hours and 40 minutes on the center court of the Rod Laver Arena."With this tennis, She must be in the top 20 players. Of course, I know her from China. Bu...

'I'm really proud of myself,' says China's Zhu Lin after Australian Open exit

Chinas Zhu Lin was edged out 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 by the 24th-seeded and former Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during the Australian Open on Sunday.Photo: CFP"It was a super tough match. Im really exhausted. I mean I gave everything out there, and Im really proud of myself," Zhu told reporters after the match."Victoria, shes a Grand Slam champion. You have to be like 120 percent, or even 200 percent to be able to beat her," the 28-year-old Chinese player said. "I need to be more consistent. This is what I need to work on.""With this tennis, she must be in the top 20 players. Of course, I know her from China. But in tennis, I have never heard of her before," said Azarenka, adding that she hoped to see Zhu a lot more this year.Azarenka won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013.

China's women's curling make a comeback win at Winter Universiade

Team China won the first gold medal at the 31st Winter World University Games as the womens curling rallied past South Korea 6-4 in the final in Lake Placid in the U.S. on Saturday.Chinas womens curling team take the gold medal at the award ceremony of the 31st Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, the U.S., January 21, 2023. (Photo: Peoples Daily Sports)Falling behind 4-1 at halftime, the Chinese girls reaped at least one point in each of the next four ends for an amazing comeback win over the South Koreans, who had taken an 8-6 victory in their previous encounter in the round-robin preliminaries."We were planning to grab the lead at the beginning, but unfortunately we couldnt make it happen. After that, we just went all out to attack, and I think our determination helped us win," said China coach Yu Zuojun.Earlier, China claimed the silver medal in the womens 3,000 meters relay of short track speed skating with a time of four minutes and 14.642 seconds. South Korea was crowned with 4:12.557 with the bronze going to the United States.In the womens 500m of short track speed skating, Wang Yichao claimed a silver medal with 44.568 seconds, behind South Korean Choi Min-jeong at 44.050 seconds.In the mens 500m, Li Kongchao ranked third with 41.886 seconds.

Top seed Swiatek knocked out by Wimbledon champion Rybakina

World No.1 Iga Swiatek crashed out of the Australian Open on Sunday with a 6-4 6-4 defeat by Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan celebrates after defeating Iga Swiatek of Poland during their fourth round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne, January 22, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Kazakhstans Rybakina advanced to the quarter-finals of the seasons opening Grand Slam for the first time. The 22nd seed will face Latvias Jelena Ostapenko will next face Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Coco Gauff 7-5, 6-3.Swiatek, the reigning French Open and U.S. Open champion, got off to a rough start, surrendering her opening service game after receiving a warning from the chair umpire over the time she took for her pre-match preparations.She fought back to level the score by the fourth game but Rybakina would break again, clinically punishing the Poles second serve to take the opening set.Swiatek looked to have recovered after she rattled off three straight games at the start of the second set behind a more aggressive forehand, only for Rybakina to haul herself level with another break of serve.Rybakina broke Swiatek again at 4-4 in the second set before holding her own serve in convincing fashion to close out the match.Meanwhile, a frustrated Gauff broke down in tears after her defeat, as the 18-year-old American said she just could not come up with the answers to Ostapenkos game. Gauff came into the tournament having enjoyed a superb 2022 where she reached the French Open final but it was former Roland Garros champion Ostapenko who dominated the contest."I think every loss is somewhat in my control because I do feel like Im a good player, but today she just played better," Gauff, seeded seventh, told reporters."There were moments in the match where I was getting frustrated because I normally can problem solve but today I feel like I didnt have much answers to what she was doing.Gauff is also partnering fellow American...

'Every season counts now' says Djokovic as he makes Melbourne last 16

An ailing Novak Djokovic said Saturday every moment counted now that he was in the "last stage" of his career, after battling past Grigor Dimitrov and into the Australian Open last 16.Novak Djokovic hits a return against Grigor Dimitrov during their men’s singles match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Saturday. (Photo: AFP) Please credit and share this article with others using this link: View our policies at and © Bangkok Post PCL. All rights reserved.The Serb came through a titanic 77-minute first set before taming the Bulgarian 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena, needing treatment twice on his troublesome hamstring.He will face home hope Alex de Minaur for a place in the quarter-finals after the 22nd seed defeated Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi in three sets.Djokovics gutsy win inched him nearer to a 10th Australian Open title and record-tying 22 Grand Slam crowns.Winning once again in Melbourne would also return him to world number one for the first time since June.Now 35, Djokovic said he was savouring each tournament more."Every season counts I guess now, when you come to the last stage, the last quarter, of your career," he said."Obviously you start appreciating and valuing each tournament more because you might not have a lot left in the tank. "Ive been truly fortunate to do what I love, I love the sport, I love competing. Its been almost 20 years now of professional sport. I cant be more grateful than I am."Victory put Djokovic into the last 16 for a 15th time but he was made to work for it, especially with his left hamstring troubling him."It kind of always starts well in last few matches, including this one, and then some movement happens and then it gets worse," he said. "Pills kick in, some hot cream and stuff. That works for a little bit, then it doesn...

Impressive Zhang charges into Australian Open last 16

MELBOURNE, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinas highest-ranked player Zhang Shuai brushed aside American qualifier Katie Volynets 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday to storm into the womens singles fourth round of the Australian Open.Zhang Shuai of China plays a forehand against Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania on Day 6 of the Rothesay Classic Birmingham at Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham, England, June 16, 2022. (Photo: CFP)The 23rd-seeded Zhang gained a crucial break in the sixth game of the second set and then ran away with a one-sided victory in 63 minutes.She had 20 winners in a polished performance on her 34th birthday to overwhelm 21-year-old Volynets, who had caused a major boilover in the second round by beating the ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2."Very good and amazing," said Zhang, who reached the last 16 in consecutive Grand Slams after her fourth-round finish at last years US Open."I talked with my coach, before that we always finish like [in] the first round, and the second round. Now, many times we can reach the third round."Im really happy that because weve worked [on] a lot of things and everything is on the right way, so we will keep going [further in the tournament]."Zhang is getting closer to matching her fairytale quarterfinal runs at the Australian Open in 2016 and at Wimbledon in 2019.To do that she will need to defeat former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, who beat Russian Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-2.Zhang will need to defy history of having never beaten the 30th seed Pliskova from seven previous matches with the last being in 2018."We played a lot of times against each other, I never won. So there is not any pressure," Zhang said."Also today, really every day, Im happy when Im on court."In the last 16, Zhang joins her compatriot Zhu Lin, who knocked out the sixth seed Maria Sakkari 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-4 in the biggest win of her career.The 87th-ranked Zhu next plays the 24th-seed...

Juventus deducted 15 points for financial irregularities

Juventus of Serie A took a heavy blow as they were deducted 15 points for the ongoing 2022-23 campaign for inflating transfer values and lying to financial officials, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced on Friday.Logo of Juventus is seen on the screen during the UEFA Champions League game against Malmo at Juventus Stadium in Turin, Italy, December 8, 2021. (Photo: CFP)"The Federal Court of Appeals, presided over by Mario Luigi Torsello, has partially accepted the appeal brought by the Federal Prosecutors Office for the partial revocation of the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals, United Sections No. 89 of 27 May 2022, thus sanctioning Juventus with a 15-point penalty to be served during the current season and with a series of inhibitions for eleven executives," FIGC said in a statement.Andrea Agnelli, who stepped down as chairman last November, and the clubs former CEO Maurizio Arrivabene, were both banned from holding office in Italian football for 24 months; former sports director Fabio Paratici was handed a 30-month-long inhibition; his successor Federico Cherubini will stay away from football activity in Italy for 16 months.Pavel Nedved, Paolo Garimberti, Enrico Vellano, Assia Grazioli-Venier, Caitlin Hughes, Daniela Marilungo and Francesco Roncaglio were all suffered an eight-month-long ban.Juventus denied any wrongdoing and said they will appeal to Italys sports guarantee court after the reasons were published for the ruling."We consider this to be a blatant injustice also for millions of fans, which we trust will soon be remedied in the next court," the clubs lawyers said.Another eight clubs, including Sampdoria and Empoli of Serie A, and their directors, were acquitted, the court confirmed.Having lost 15 points, Juventus dropped from the third to 10th on the Serie As standings table, 25 points behind the leading Napoli. With 20 games to go, the "Old Ladies" are unlikely to return to th...

China wins two short track medals at Winter World University Games

The Chinese team parades during the opening ceremony. (Photo: Xinhua)WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- China claimed one silver and one bronze medal in the short track speed skating competitions of the 31st Winter World University Games in Lake Placid on Friday.In the womens 500m final, Chinas Wang Yichao clocked 44.568 seconds to finish second behind South Korean Choi Min-jeong, who was crowned with a time of 44.050 with the bronze going to Chois compatriot Park Ji-yun.Later on Friday, Li Kongchao of China took the mens 500m bronze after crossing the line in 41.886 seconds. Japans Shogo Miyata bagged the gold in 41.377, 0.414 seconds faster than silver medalist Kim Tae-sung from South Korea.France took home the mixed team relay gold medal with South Korea, the United States and China all being penalized.

Indian Olympic Association forms committee to probe sexual harassment allegations

NEW DELHI, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Friday formed a seven-member committee to probe into the wrestlers allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh.File photo: AgenciesThe committee includes female boxer Mary Kom, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, Dola Banerjee, Alaknanda Ashok, Sahdev Yadav, besides two advocates.The wrestlers, who have been protesting for the past three days in the heart of Delhi, had demanded the formation of an inquiry committee to investigate the allegations.In a letter to IOA president P.T. Usha, the protesting wrestlers had also accused the WFI of financial misappropriation and claimed that coaches and sports science staff at the national camp were "absolutely incompetent".Wrestlers also demanded that the WFI be disbanded and its president be fired. "A new committee should be formed to run the affairs of WFI in consultation with the wrestlers," they wrote in the letter.Earlier, two rounds of meetings between the protesting wrestlers and the federal government in the past 24 hours, including one with the countrys sports minister Anurag Thakur, remained inconclusive. The third meeting with the sports minister is underway in Delhi to resolve the matter.The WFI president remained adamant on not stepping down from the post, saying that he is at the helm "not at anybodys mercy" but because he contested the elections and won on his own strength.

Chinese women's football team to play four friendlies in February

Members of China celebrate during the awarding ceremony after winning the 2022 AFC Womens Asian Cup in Mumbai, India, Feb. 6, 2022. (Photo: Xinhua)BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese womens football national team will play four friendlies in February as part of their preparation for the FIFA Womens World Cup this year.The Chinese team will hold a training camp in Guangzhou from January 26 before traveling to Spain on February 10.According to the schedule, China will play the Spanish club side Real Betis on February 14, and Sweden two days later. They will play another Spanish side Sporting de Huelva and Ireland on February 19 and 22 respectively.The 2023 FIFA Womens World Cup will be played from July 20 to August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.In the World Cup group stage, China will take on England, Denmark and the winner in the play-off tournament Group B, which includes Chile, Haiti and Senegal.

'Is this real?' Tearful Zhu stuns sixth seed Sakkari in Melbourne

Sixth seed Maria Sakkari became the latest major casualty at the Australian Open on Friday when she was shocked 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-4 by an emotional world number 87 Zhu Lin of China.Zhu, whose 29th birthday will be on womens singles final day next Saturday, is into the last 16 and a date with former champion Victoria Azarenka.Chinas Zhu Lin celebrates after victory against Greeces Maria Sakkari during their womens singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Zhu had lost all seven of her previous encounters against top-10 players.But you wouldnt have known it in a late-night encounter on Margaret Court Arena which went past midnight and, fittingly, into Chinese New Years eve.Underdog Zhu celebrated the Year of the Rabbit by taking the first set on a tiebreak. Greeces Maria Sakkari serves against Chinas Zhu Lin during their womens singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Though she dropped the second as Sakkari finally woke up, Zhu regrouped to secure the biggest win of her Grand Slam career and then burst into floods of tears."Is this real? Am I in a dream?" she sobbed. "Thank you, my team, and thank you for pushing me every day," she said, looking to her players box."Its just I have to believe in myself that I have the ability to be able to play at this high level and I need to work hard every day."And, yeah, who knows whats going to happen? You never know."The Chinese player had never got beyond the second round previously at Melbourne Park -- or any other Slam -- but now finds herself facing the 2012 and 2013 champion Azarenka for a place in the quarter-finals.The Belarusian 24th seed earlier knocked out American 10th seed Madison Keys 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 to reach the fourth round for the second year in succession.

Medvedev knocked out of Australian Open by 'thrilled' Korda

Sebastian Korda (R) of the US greets Russias Daniil Medvedev are winning their mens singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Sebastian Korda stunned two-time losing finalist Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open on Friday, adding the Russian to a growing list of top seeds crashing out early.The 31st-ranked American, son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, blasted past the seventh seed 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) on Rod Laver Arena to race into the last 16.Kordas upset teed up a clash with Polish 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz -- who battled past Canadas Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 -- for a place in the quarter-finals."An unbelievable match, I sort of knew what I had to do and I stuck with it even when I was going up and down with the emotions," said the 22-year-old Korda, adding that his game plan was "just go for it"."Im thrilled right now, I played amazing."Medvedev was a losing finalist at the last two Australian Opens, to Novak Djokovic in 2021 and then in a demoralising five-set defeat 12 months ago against Rafael Nadal after leading by two sets.He was attempting to become only the fourth man in the Open era to reach three consecutive Melbourne Park finals after Djokovic, Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl. But that quest is now over as he joined defending champion Nadal, second seed Casper Ruud and eighth seed Taylor Fritz as high-profile first-week casualties at the season-opening Grand Slam.Djokovic remains in the hunt for a 10th title, but has a hamstring injury and confessed on Thursday he was "worried" it could derail his tournament.Korda displayed his credentials when he pushed Djokovic to the brink in the Adelaide International final this month, earning a championship point before the Serb rallied to win in three close sets.The Florida native bounced back to claim a pair of victories in Melbourne against...

Olympic gold medalist fencer Sun Yiwen is back on track for Paris 2024

Sun Yiwen of China poses with the individual womens epee gold medal after defeating Ana Maria Popescu of Romania in the event final in the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba, Japan, July 24, 2021. (Photo: CFP)Chinese fencer Sun Yiwen has returned to the training base in Beijing after resting for over a year to recover from the injuries that cost her the Asian Fencing Championships and the World Fencing Championships in 2022."I have recovered from the injuries since the Olympics," Sun said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency on Friday. "I spent most of my time in the team on treatment and recovery. I suffered entrapment neuropathies in my waist and the coccyx. I havent jumped at all since the Olympics because even one small jump can affect the nerves and cause a lot of pain. Thats what I have been receiving various treatments for."Before Sun took the above long rest, she won the first individual womens epee gold medal for Team China in history at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. That was the summit of her career, but she also considered it as the new beginning.Sun Yiwen of China celebrates her victory over Ana Maria Popescu of Romania in the individual womens epee final in the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba, Japan, July 24, 2021. (Photo: CFP)"Im still growing and making progress," Sun said. "I didnt come back this time to necessarily go for a gold medal [in Paris]. I just realized that when I won the gold in Tokyo, I still had a lot of shortcomings to fix and a lot of room for improvement.""I feel like if I can fix those shortcomings, I will be in an even better form than I was [in Tokyo]," she added. "Result is not the most important thing to me. It matters more for me to find, problems, solve them and have fun in this process."Sun was inducted into the International Fencing Federation Hall of Fame in December 2022. She was both surprised at and ...

Teen Gauff wins all-American clash to reach Australian Open last 16

Coco Gauffs bid to become the youngest Australian Open champion since 1997 gathered pace Friday with a straight-sets victory over fellow American Bernarda Pera.USAs Coco Gauff celebrates after victory against USAs Bernarda Pera during their womens singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2023. (Photo: AFP)The 18-year-old won 6-3, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to set up a last-16 clash against the 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.A maiden Grand Slam title for seventh seed Gauff would make her the youngest Melbourne champion since a 16-year-old Martina Hingis 26 years ago.Gauff headed into the first major of the year on a high after winning her third WTA title at the Auckland Classic earlier this month. She admitted she "got lucky" in her tight second-round victory over Emma Raducanu in a battle of tennis prodigies.But Gauff let her racquet do the talking in her first meeting with power-hitter Pera, relentlessly soaking up some late pressure from the world number 41 when serving for the match at 5-2.USAs Bernarda Pera hits a return against USAs Coco Gauff during their womens singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2023. (Photo: AFP)"She was hitting the ball really hard," said Gauff, who this week became the first woman to register 100 tour-level wins before her 19th birthday since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009."So I was trying to hang in there and take the ground when I could."Last season she had a really long match streak so I knew she would be a tough player to beat, so Im glad to be through to the second week."Gauff is one of two teenagers left in the womens draw. The other is 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova, who plays Marketa Vondrousova in an all-Czech third-round clash on Saturday.Gauff admitted that playing a former Grand Slam champion in Ostapenko for a place in the quarter-fi...

Australian Olympic runner Bol tests positive for EPO

Australian Olympic middle-distance runner and 2022 Commonwealth Games silver medalist Peter Bol has tested positive to a banned performance-enhancing drug.Athletics Australia said Friday that Bol, the national 800-meter record holder, failed an out-of-competition test on Oct. 11. The 28-year-old tested positive to the banned drug erythropoietin, known as EPO.Peter Bol, of Australia, wins a mens 800-meter semifinal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo. (Photo: AP)"I am innocent and have not taken this substance as I am accused," Bol said on Twitter.Bol said his career hinged on the result of a B sample from the October test which would be known next month.Athletics Australia provisionally suspended Bol from formal training and competition at any level, the organizations chief executive Peter Bromley said."There are procedural fairness and investigative considerations . . . at this point it would be inappropriate for Athletics Australia or anyone else to speculate about the specific details or pre-empt any outcome," Bromley said in a statement.Bol, who emigrated to Australia from Sudan with his family when he was eight years old, competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, when he placed fourth in the 800-meter final.In Tokyo, Bol broke the Australian 800-meter record. He lowered that mark at a Paris Diamond League meet in June of last year before claiming Commonwealth Games silver in Birmingham, England, in August.

Gu Ailing makes strong return at FIS Freeski World Cups Calgary

VANCOUVER, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Gu Ailing claimed the halfpipe gold at Calgary on Thursday, making a strong return to the FIS Freeski World Cups.The Beijing 2022s two gold and one silver owner did not compete in the FIS World Cup after the Winter Olympics but stunned the audience with 95 points from both the second and third run at Thursdays womens finals.The silver medalist is Canadian Rachael Karker, who got her best 89 points from the third run. Hanna Faulhaber of the United States took a bronze.After the legendary victory at Beijing 2022, Gu focused more on her newly started college studies.According to her social media release, Gu resumed Freeski training in November.

2024 Gangwon Winter Youth Olympics unveils mascot

Photo: Courtesy of IOCGENEVA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Organising Committee of the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon (YOGOC) unveiled the mascot "Moongcho" on Thursday, with one year until the start of the competition.Moongcho comes from the Korean word "Moongchida", which means to bring together various thoughts and powers. The mascot is a snowball emanating from a fight between Soohorang and Bandabi, the mascots of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) website, "Moongcho is a leader with lots of passion and courage who always reaches out his hand to help."IOC President Thomas Bach was quoted as saying, "The unveiling of the mascot is always an important milestone, and with just one year to go today, we can be confident that the youth of the world will have an outstanding experience during their time in Gangwon."The YOGOC also released the official song, "We Go High", and an accompanying choreography was also performed for the first time at an event in PyeongChang on Thursday.

Second seed Jabeur knocked out of Australian Open

Tunisias Ons Jabeur reacts after a point against Czech Republics Marketa Vondrousova during their womens singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Ons Jabeur suffered a shock second-round exit at the Australian Open on Thursday, becoming the latest seed to fall at Melbourne Park.The Tunisian number two seed was beaten 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 in 1hr 41min by Czech world number 86 Marketa Vondrousova."I think she just got better, you know, in the second set," Vondrousova said."She played some amazing points. I just tried to stay focused and play my game. And Im just so happy to be through."Vondrousova, 23, was ranked as high as 14th in 2019 and is on the comeback trail after an injury-hit season which resulted in surgery on her left wrist."Its always tough to come back after such a long time," she said."I just started in November and I felt good and I did great," said the left-handed Vondrousova, who reached the last 16 at Melbourne Park in 2021."I worked on my fitness a lot and Im just very happy to be back on this level and to be able to play these sorts of matches."Jabeur had only fleetingly showed the form that took her to two Grand Slam finals during a shaky opening-round win.The Tunisian eventually saw off 98th-ranked Tamara Zidansek 7-6 (10/8), 4-6, 6-1 after 2hr 17min in an unconvincing display littered with unforced errors.And in a late-night match that did not start until 11.24 pm on Rod Laver Arena, she struggled again.Jabeur dropped her first service game against Vondrousova, who raced into a 3-0 lead.Czech Republics Marketa Vondrousova hits a return against Tunisias Ons Jabeur during their womens singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 19, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Vondrousova had lost all three of her previous tour-level matches against Jabeur but this was th...

Rampant Djokovic surges into 10th Australian Open final

A rampant Novak Djokovic surged into a 10th Australian Open final Friday to close in on a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam crown, with only Stefanos Tsitsipas now standing in his way.Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Tommy Paul of the U.S. in their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (Photo: AP)The Serbian fourth seed overcame an early wobble to romp past unseeded American Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena in style. Another title on Sunday will move him alongside Rafael Nadal with 22 Slam wins and see the 35-year-old return to world number one for the first time since last June.Greek third seed Tsitsipas, who ground past Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 in the other semi-final, can also become the top-ranked player should he lift the trophy."Im really thankful that I have enough gas in my legs to be able to play at this level on one of the biggest tennis courts in the world," said Djokovic, who is now 11-0 for the season and into a 33rd Grand Slam final."Of course, Im not as fresh as the beginning of the tournament but we put in a lot of hours in the off-season on fitness in order to be in a good condition to play best of five (sets)."I know whats expected of me, Ive been in this situation so many times in my career. Experience helps also," he added of being in another final. The win extended his unbeaten streak at the Australian Open to 27 matches to claim sole ownership of the Open-era record at Melbourne Park ahead of Andre Agassi.Djokovic had never played Paul before and said he was wary of a "very explosive, very dynamic player", with the American initially refusing to go quietly.

Record Premier League spending fuels transfer market recovery: FIFA

Record spending by English Premier League clubs fueled a recovery in the international transfer market in 2022 with a total outlay of some $6.5 billion, according to a report published by football governing body FIFA on Thursday.The figure represents an increase in the last two years as football recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but is still below the levels of 2019 ($7.35 billion), just before the health crisis, International Association Football Federation (FIFA) said in its Global Transfer Report.The report only takes into account international transfers, in which over 20,000 were recorded and fewer than 3,000 involved a fee.English clubs spending "reached a record high of almost $2.2 billion", the report said, with six of the 10 biggest international transfers involving moves to Premier League sides.Liverpools Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, England, January 21, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Among those moves were Liverpools signing of Darwin Nunez from Benfica for an initial 75 million euros ($82 million) plus 25 million in potential bonuses and Luis Diaz from Porto as well as Manchester United’s purchases of Casemiro and Antony from Real Madrid and Ajax respectively.There was also Erling Haalands switch from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City and Newcastle Uniteds signing of Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad.French clubs brought in the most money, although the total amount recouped of $740.3 million was still down on 2019 figures of over $900 million.Keira Walsh (R) of England is put under pressure by Rose Lavelle of the United States during the Womens International Friendly match between England and USA at Wembley Stadium in London, England, October 7, 2022. (Photo: CFP)Meanwhile, the continuing growth of womens football was reflected by a 19 percent increase in the number of international transfers to a t...

Tsitsipas beats Khachanov to reach 1st Australian Open final

Stefanos Tsitsipas had a harder time strictly following all of the rules than he did outplaying his opponent in the early going, then recovered after blowing two match points late in the third set, and eventually reached the final at the Australian Open for the first time by beating Karen Khachanov 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 on Friday.Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reacts after defeating Karen Khachanov of Russia in their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (Photo: AP)The No. 3-seeded Tsitsipas had been 0-3 in semifinals at Melbourne Park, but he finally went a step further to get to the second Grand Slam championship match of his career.It looked easy for the better part of three sets against Khachanov, but Tsitsipas got broken when serving for the match at 5-4 in the third, then failed to convert either chance to end it when he went up 6-4 in the ensuing tiebreaker. Khachanov collected four consecutive points there, erasing the match points with a pair of booming forehands. Tsitsipas, though, regained his footing quickly, grabbing a 3-0 lead in the fourth.Karen Khachanov of Russia plays a forehand return to Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (Photo: AP)"If you stick around, if you dedicate yourself even more and if you concentrate on these important moments," Tsitsipas said, "it pays off quite well."Now Tsitsipas will face Novak Djokovic or unseeded American Tommy Paul in the mens singles final on Sunday.If he claims his first major trophy, Tsitsipas would also achieve another milestone: He would rise to No. 1 in the ATP rankings for the first time."I like that number. Its all about you. Its singular. Its 1," Tsitsipas said. "These are the moments that Ive been working hard for."Djokovic, who would return to No. 1 if he wi...

China sweeps five titles at WTT Feeder Doha

Xu Yingbin (R) and Zhou Kai of China pose with the trophies during the awarding ceremony after their mens singles final match at WTT Feeder Doha 2023 in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 26, 2023.DOHA, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- China claimed five titles on offer at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Feeder Doha, the first tournament of WTT Feeder Series 2023 here on Thursday.He Zhuojia (R) and Kuai Man of China pose with the trophies during the awarding ceremony after their womens singles final match at WTT Feeder Doha 2023 in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photos: Xinhua)With their respective semifinal victories, Zhou Kai and Xu Yingbin secured the mens singles championship for China before Xu won three straight sets over Zhou in the final."I had not expected this score. I just prepared for difficulties ahead and fought point by point," said Xu, attributing his success in the Qatari capital to a fine mindset."I felt that I had a strong will this time, drew lessons from the past matches and made some adjustments here," commented Xu.China took up all berths in the womens singles semifinals, meaning it would be an all-Chinese affair in deciding the winner.Kuai Man edged past Liu Weishan 3-2, setting up a final clash with He Zhuojia, the winner in a comfortable 3-0 victory over Zhang Rui. Later in the title contention, He accounted for Kuai 3-1 to stand on top of the podium.Fresh from her title, He expected much room for her improvement in the future. "I can do better, and I need to make full preparation for the upcoming tournaments," she said.Yuan Licen/Xiang Peng of China and Ho Kwan Kit/Lam Siu Hang of Chinas Hong Kong pose with the trophies (from R to L) during the awarding ceremony after their mens doubles final match at WTT Feeder Doha 2023 in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 26, 2023.The mens doubles title went to Xiang Peng and Yuan Licen, who bounced back from two sets down to defeat Lam Siu Hang and Ho Kwan Kit of Hong Kong, China 3-2.Qian...

People ring in Chinese New Year with sports

BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- After eating dumplings on the first day of the Year of the Rabbit, Tong Shijin packed his skiing equipment, started his car and headed to a place that was quite familiar to him.Photo: Beijing DailyTong is a skiing enthusiast in Hohhot, north Chinas Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. After his graduation from university, he set up a skiing club, opened a skiing equipment store with his friends and became a skiing coach.After a half-an-hour drive, Tong arrived at the Mazongshan Ski Resort. As he didnt need to offer guidance to skiing amateurs, he had enough time to enjoy skiing in the clear air and bright sunshine."It feels so cool. Without so many people here, now I can gambol as much as I like," Tong said.Nowadays in China, the Spring Festival holiday is not only about reuniting with family members and visiting scenic spots, but also basking in the joy brought by sports.Like Tong, people across the country have engaged themselves in various sports during the holiday.In a badminton venue of the Zhengzhou Olympic Sports Center in Henan province, Jia Junling wiped the sweat off his face after finishing a game with a friend."We have been playing here for four days since the Lunar New Years Eve, without missing a single day. Playing badminton and chatting with friends makes me feel happy and healthy. Its a meaningful way to celebrate the Spring Festival through sports," Jia grinned.In many cities, sports venues are open to the public free of charge or at a low price during the Spring Festival holiday with the aim to attract more people.In Hangzhou, host city of the 19th Asian Games set for September 23 to October 8 this year in Zhejiang province, some of the Games venues are free or at a low cost for no less than 12 hours every day for citizens fitness exercises, which ensures a non-stop operation of the venues during the holiday.According to the State General Administration of Sport, thousands...

Fiery Djokovic blasts into Australian Open third round

Novak Djokovic defied rowdy fans and hamstring trouble to haul himself into the Australian Open third round with a drama-filled win over qualifier Enzo Couacaud on Thursday.The Serbian suffered a mid-match wobble before blazing past his 191st-ranked opponent 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena.Serbias Novak Djokovic celebrates a point against Frances Enzo Couacaud during their mens singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 19, 2023. (Photo: AFP)It was his 23rd straight win on the Melbourne Park centre court as he steps up his quest for a record-extending 10th Australian Open crown.In a colourful match, he also had a major moment with the umpire, demanding that a drunken fan be thrown out."Hes been drunk out of his mind from the first point, provoking me," he fumed in the fourth set. "What are you going to do about it? Why dont you get him out of the stadium?"Four fans, beer in hand, were later shown being escorted out.The dogged win set up a clash against Bulgarias Grigor Dimitrov, who swept past another Serb, Laslo Djere, 6-3, 6-2, 6-0. With three top 10 seeds -- Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud and Taylor Fritz -- already out of the tournament, and world number one Carlos Alcaraz injured, Djokovics route to another title, and a 22nd Grand Slam crown, has become easier.Thats if his hamstring holds up.Djokovic aggravated it during his run to a 92nd tour-level title at the Adelaide International this month and his left thigh was again heavily strapped.After racing through the first set, he went off for a medical timeout for treatment at 4-5 in the second set, with his movement hampered.He returned to lose the tiebreak before recovering his poise."There was a lot happening tonight and Enzo deserves credit, he played some really great tennis, especially in the second set," said the 35-year-old, who is into the third round for a 15th time on his 18th...

Zhang Shuai reaches Australian Open third round

MELBOURNE, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinas top seeded womens player Zhang Shuai swept past Petra Martic in straight sets on Thursday to book a spot in the Australian Open third round.Zhang, the 23rd seed, beat Martic of Croatia 6-3, 6-3 in 73 minutes.Chinas Zhang Shuai hits a return against Romanias Patricia Tig during their womens singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2023. (Photo: AFP)The result was achieved exactly seven years after her first victory at a Grand Slam, which kick-started Zhangs fairytale quarterfinal run at the Australian Open in 2016."I am always feeling good at the Australian Open because it is special for me," Zhang said. "Im feeling so happy. I think all the hard work is working and made me improve a little bit every day."It was an impressive follow-up performance after 33-year-old Zhang had defeated Patricia Maria Tig of Romania 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in a first round match on Wednesday that was rescheduled due to Melbournes wild weather on Tuesday.Zhangs victory set up a third round clash with American qualifier Katie Volynets, who stunned ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.Having played her opening two rounds within a tight timeframe, Zhang admitted she had not had time to study upstart Volynets."I have no idea because 20 hours ago I was [still playing] first round," said Zhang, who also reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2019."Now I can focus on work for the next round. Nothing better than the feeling now."Zhang gained an early break against the strong-serving Martic, ranked 37th, in the fourth game of the match en route to claiming the first set.Her momentum continued in the second set to frustrate Martic, who could see the writing on the wall.Zhang served accurately and her precise groundstrokes overwhelmed the error-prone Martic, whose fate was sealed when she dropped her serve in the ninth game....

'Gave it my all': Ruud out as Australian Open loses another top seed

Second seed Casper Ruud refused to blame an abdominal injury on Thursday after being sent packing from the Australian Open by American Jenson Brooksby, a day after Rafael Nadal also went out.Norways Casper Ruud serves against USAs Jenson Brooksby during their mens singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 19, 2023. (Photo: AFP)The Norwegian, who took a medical timeout after the second set, succumbed 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2 in the second round to the 39th-ranked Brooksby on Rod Laver Arena.His early exit left the tournament without its top two seeds in week one after Nadals shock loss on the same court Wednesday to another American in Mackenzie McDonald.It opens the door to Novak Djokovic winning a 10th Melbourne title and temporarily derails Ruuds dreams of becoming world number one."I gave it my all, but in the fourth set especially wasnt enough. The first two sets were sort of closer, but I ended up getting broken a bit too many times," said the world number three."I will try to learn from it. I think that he played great today."The 24-year-old Ruuds defeat ended any immediate hope he had of assuming the world number one ranking from Carlos Alcaraz, who is absent from Melbourne with an injury.Serbian superstar Djokovic or Greek third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas can top the rankings if they win the title.Ruud enjoyed a breakthrough 2022, reaching the final of both the French and US Opens.He felt "tension and some slight pain in my abdominal" but said it was not responsible for the surprisingly one-sided defeat."Its something that has actually been with me for around two years. It just sort of tightens up my left side from serving," he said."It didnt affect me a lot, but I felt it a little bit in the second set. I hope its nothing serious."

Coco Gauff beats Emma Raducanu in Australia 'with maturity'

Might be easy to forget, perhaps, that Coco Gauff is still just 18. After all, shes been winning Grand Slam matches for 3 1/2 years. Already reached one major final. Moved into the top 10 of the WTA rankings in singles and doubles.So Gauff was proud of the way she handled the situation when she was twice a point away from being pushed to a third set by Emma Raducanu at the Australian Open on Wednesday in the first head-to-head meeting between the two young tennis stars.Coco Gauff of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Emma Raducanu of Britain in their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (Photo: AP)"I stayed calm when I needed to and made the serve when I needed to. Held when I needed to. I think that definitely comes with maturity," Gauff said. "I feel like in the past, I would have freaked out in that moment."Instead, she steadied herself and went on to a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over the 20-year-old Raducanu in Rod Laver Arena to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2020."Fans are eager to see a new face of the game," said the seventh-seeded Gauff, who was the runner-up to No. 1 Iga Swiatek at the French Open last June.Raducanu has not made it past the second round at a Grand Slam tournament since she won the 2021 U.S. Open as a teenager. That made her the first qualifier to claim a major trophy."Were going to be playing each other many times in the future, as were both young and coming," Raducanu said. "You know, like, were going to be the next generation."Emma Raducanu of Britain plays a backhand return to Coco Gauff of the U.S. during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (Photo: AP)Currently ranked 77th, Raducanu has been dealing with an ankle injury and said she was on crutches 10 days before the Australian Open...

China's Zhu Lin renews Grand Slam best reaching 3rd round of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese womens singles player Zhu Lin on Wednesday booked her berth in the third round of the 2023 Australian Open after posting a 6-2, 6-2 win over the tournaments 32nd seed Jil Teichmann of Switzerland.Chinas Zhu Lin celebrates after winning against Switzerlands Jil Teichmann during their womens singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2023. (Photo: AFP)The feat marks Zhus personal best record at a Grand Slam event since she made her career debut in 2009.Currently ranked as world No. 87, Zhu sprinted to a 4-0 advantage in 21 minutes and sealed a comfortable 6-2 first-set victory. With her good form extended into the second set, Zhu came back from a 0-1 down and reeled off three-game wins to secure her leading place.Though Teichmann tried to save the match by drawing the deciding game into a deuce, two forehand unforced errors in the last minutes saw the world No. 33 knocked out by Zhu.Zhu will have a tougher game in her first-ever Grand Slam third round with sixth seed and world No. 6 Maria Sakkari of Greece. The two players had one head-to-head in the 2016 Australian Open qualifying round, where Sakkari beat Zhu 6-3, 6-2.

Top seed Nadal upset by unseeded McDonald in Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Defending champion and top seed Rafael Nadal crashed out of the Australian Open on Wednesday after going down 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 to unseeded Mackenzie McDonald of the United States in the second round.Spains Rafael Nadal leaves the court after losing to USAs Mackenzie McDonald in their mens singles match on day three of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Nadal lost his first two service games, with world No. 65 McDonald taking a 4-1 lead before claiming the set 6-4.When the 27-year-old McDonald charged into a 5-3 lead in the second set, a physio examined Nadals left thigh. The top seed later went off court for a medical timeout. Though Nadal returned and clawed one game back, McDonald seized his chances to take the set.Tensions kept mounting in the third set, as both players won their service games and leveled the score at 5-5. McDonald broke for a narrow 6-5 lead and sealed his straight-set triumph over Nadal by holding his serve in the final game.McDonald fired 14 aces throughout the match, while Nadal only landed six, all of which came in the third set.After the match, Nadal said he suffered a hip injury in the second set, adding that the pain had been present for a couple of days, "but nothing like today in that movement.""I have a history in the hip that I had issues. I had to do treatments in the past, [but it] was not this amount of problem. Now I feel I cannot move," he noted.Speaking of his disappointment at the result, the 22-time Grand Slam winner said it was difficult for him."I cant say that I am not destroyed mentally at this time, because I will be lying," said Nadal. "I went through this process too many times in my career, and I am ready to keep doing it."Nadal and McDonald had one head-to-head previously - in the second round of the French Open last year, with the Spaniard emerging victorious 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.USA&...

Paris 2024 releases 'one-for-all' packages to fans

GENEVA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Paris 2024 Olympic Games unveiled Tuesday an e-commerce platform to access the hospitality packages, which could guarantee tickets, hotels, transportation and other services to fans during the Games.The Paris 2024 Olympic Games mascot during the press conference on the launch of the ticketing campaign for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on November 28, 2022 at the Salon Gustave Eiffel, Eiffel Tower. (File photo: AFP)"Following the launch of the International Olympic Committees new global hospitality model, this is the first time that hospitality packages for the Olympic Games have been available via a single hospitality provider. This ground-breaking model ensures a secure and more accessible way for spectators to experience the Olympic Games Paris 2024," according to a press release of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday.IOC also indicated that the Paris 2024 Hospitality Program is the only official and secure way to buy tickets and hospitality packages for next years Olympic Games.

China's Zhang Zhizhen 1 game away from first Grand Slam win in AO 2023

Zhang Zhizhen (L) of China and Ben Shelton of the U.S. shake hands after the mens singles first-round match in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Zhang Zhizhen of China lost to Ben Shelton of the U.S. 2-3 (6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2 and 6 (4)-7 (10)) in the mens singles first-round match in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.As the first player from Chinese mainland to enter the top 100 on the Association of Tennis Professionals world rankings table, Zhang was going after his first win in the Grand Slam tournaments. He participated in the Wimbledon Championship and the U.S. Open last year but did not go past the first round on both occasions.Having reached a 2-2 tie after four games in the first set, Zhang broke Sheltons serve first and then carried on the good momentum to win the first set. Shelton soon responded by getting three breaks to win the following two sets.Ben Shelton of the U.S. competes in the mens singles first-round match against Zhang Zhizhen of China in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2023. (Photo: CFP)Zhang stole a march on Shelton by breaking his first serve in the fourth set and then went on to establish an overwhelming lead of 5-2 before ending this set with another break. The match then entered the final set.After the two reached 1-1 in the fifth set, the competition was suspended for hours because of sudden rain. Having rested enough to restore their strength, both Zhang and Shelton dominated in their serving games to win until the score reached 5-4 for Zhang. He had a match point but it was blown by Shelton with an ace.Zhang Zhizhen of China competes in the mens singles first-round match against Ben Shelton of the U.S. in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, January 17, 2023. (Photo: CFP)The final set went to the super tiebreaker after both sides won six games. Shelton gained an ear...

Djokovic storms into Australian Open second round on return

Serbias Novak Djokovic hits a return against Spains Roberto Carballes Baena during their mens singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2023. (Photo: AFP)Novak Djokovic swept past Spains Roberto Carballes Baena to launch his bid for a 10th Australian Open title and record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam crown, with the Serbian star enjoying a rousing reception.The 35-year-old, who missed last years tournament when he was deported, showed few signs of the hamstring niggle he picked up in Adelaide this month as he raced to victory on Rod Laver Arena 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

Curtain drops on Shanghai Games with new records set

The curtain dropped on the 17th Shanghai Games, which involved more than 30,000 youth and student athletes taking part in online and offline competitions over the past two months.First introduced in 1953, the city-level Games intend to enhance communication between local young athletes, while select

Andy Murray edges Berrettini in 5 sets at Australian Open

Andy Murray of Britain reacts during his first round match against Matteo Berrettini of Italy at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Photo: AP)Andy Murray has beaten a top-20 opponent at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 2017.The three-time major champion blew a big early lead, then needed to save a match point and wound up eliminating 13th-seeded Matteo Berrettini in five sets in the first round of the Australian Open.The match was played under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena because the tournaments heat rule was invoked. Murray raced through the first two sets in less than 1 1/2 hours before the big-hitting, big-serving Berrettini turned things around and took the match to a fifth.Murray won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (10-6).They played under a closed roof at Rod Laver Arena on account of temperatures that soared up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) and caused suspensions of play that lasted hours in matches on smaller courts that cant be covered.

2023 Women's World Cup ticket sales surpass 500,000

CANBERRA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- More than half a million tickets have been sold for the 2023 Womens World Cup, FIFA and Football Australia (FA) have announced.(File photo: AFP)According to data released on Tuesday, fans from more than 120 countries and regions have bought tickets for the ninth FIFA Womens World Cup - and the first to feature 32 teams - taking place in Australia and New Zealand between July and August.Supporters of Chinas Steel Roses rank among those who have bought the most tickets, along with fans from the two host nations, England, Qatar, the United States and Canada."Ticket sales for the FIFA Womens World Cup 2023 are off to a great start and its not just home fans in Australia and New Zealand purchasing tickets," FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura said in a media release."This highlights the fantastic pull of the female game and the passion it evokes among the global football fandom, who want to be part of the FIFA Womens World Cup."No single game has sold out but tickets for the World Cup final at Stadium Australia in Sydney on August 20 have been most in demand.FIFA has told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that more sales phases for tickets are scheduled, offering fans more opportunities to buy tickets for games that are currently unavailable.

China women's curling team register sixth straight win at Winter World University Games

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- China womens curling team claimed back-to-back wins on Monday, extending their winning streak to six at the 31st Winter World University Games held in Lake Placid.Having opened the campaign with four consecutive wins, China beat Canada 7-4 earlier on Monday before dominating Britain 6-3."Our conditions are better and better after six games, but its not easy. We need to focus on ourselves and try to get a better toss every time," said player Han Yu.China now leads the round-robin phase attended by 10 teams, with the top four finishers advancing into the semifinals.The two important wins on Monday earned China a positive position on the table, which was beyond Chinas coach Yu Zuojuns expectations."The team will continue this tide, we didnt set a specific goal, but we all expect a result as good as possible," Yu noted.

Extreme heat halts play at Australian Open

Extreme heat forced play to be halted Tuesday on outside courts at the Australian Open, with the roofs closed on its three main stadiums -- Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena. Czech Republics Karolina Pliskova drinks during a break in her womens singles match against Chinas Wang Xiyu on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2023. (Photo: AFP)With players sweltering in 36 Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit) temperatures, the tournaments five-part heat stress scale hit five.The scale measures four climate factors -- radiant heat (strength of the sun), air temperature in the shade, relative humidity and wind speed.The lowest level reading is one and the highest five, at which point play is suspended. "This means play continues until the end of an even number of games or the completion of a tie-break," organisers tweeted."No new matches will be called to court. Play on outdoor practice courts is also suspended."

History as Chinese man wins for first time at Australian Open

File photoTeenager Shang Juncheng created a slice of history Monday by becoming the first male Chinese player to win an Australian Open main draw singles match.The gifted 17-year-old, a qualifier, battled past Germanys Oscar Otte 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 7-5 in nearly three hours of intense tennis to progress.After saving two break points in the opening set, he did not face another as he sealed the win on his third match point.His reward is a tough second round encounter with either American 16th seed Frances Tiafoe or another German, Daniel Altmaier.In addition to the significance of the result for China, Shang also achieved several personal milestones -- aside from notching his first major win, he also earned his first tour-level win in four tries.Shang, the youngest player in the mens draw, is leading a historic charge in Melbourne with three male Chinese players competing at any Grand Slam main draw since the Open era began in 1968.He is joined by fellow Chinese Zhang Zhizhen and Wu Yibing.There are seven Chinese women in the singles draw, led by the veteran Zhang Shuai, who is ranked 22 in the world.The retired Li Na remains Chinas best-ever player after she won the French Open in 2011 and Australian Open three years later.

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