SPORTS DAY: Serena clicks ominously into high gear
Your roundup of the sporting news of the day
Serena, Djokovic make statements A focused Serena Williams sent an ominous Australian Open warning with a 49-minute first-round demolition on Tuesday as world No 1 Novak Djokovic destroyed his opponent as he targets a record seventh title. The US giant, now 37, is bidding to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam crowns on her first return to Melbourne Park since winning in 2017 while eight weeks pregnant.
Hewitt refutes rift after Tomic blast Lleyton Hewitt has refuted claims of a gaping rift in Australian tennis after firebrand Bernard Tomic slammed the Davis Cup skipper, claiming he had ruined the national system. “It’s all Lleyton. I’m going to say it honestly – no one likes him anymore,” said Tomic. But the 37-year-old played down Tomic’s extraordinary blast as “a bit of a laugh”. “I don’t think there’s a rift, there’s always communication going on between the captain, coaches and the players, and leading into the next tie that will all happen.” SOCCER
Benni scared of ‘a Ferrari’
Benni McCarthy is hoping Free State Stars star winger Sinethemba Jantjie moves to Bidvest Wits earlier than anticipated and will not play on Wednesday night when Cape Town City host the Nedbank Cup holders in a catch-up league game at the Cape Town Stadium. McCarthy has labelled Jantjie “a Ferrari” and says he scared of the damage that the winger could potentially do to his side‚ especially given the crisis they potentially face at left-back. “Go on‚ Hunty‚ take him man!’ McCarthy joked this week.
Provincial funeral for Chippa
SA soccer legend Philemon “Chippa” Masinga will be given a provincial official funeral in Klerksdorp in North West on Thursday January 24, the national sports ministry confirmed on Tuesday. Barcelona break half-a-billion barrier La Liga champions Barcelona became the first soccer team to spend over half a billion euros in wages after their staff costs shot up by 42% over the past year, according to KPMG’s Football Benchmark study, which analysed the squads and finances of the champions of Europe’s top eight leagues. Paris St Germain have the second highest wage bill at €332m, and Manchester City was the only side to see their spending drop, by 5%. The report says Manchester City have the most valuable team, at €1.182-bn, while PSG duo Neymar (€229m) and Kylian Mbappe (€215m) are the most valuable players in the world, followed by Messi (€203m). Injury leaves Reds short of defensive options Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold is expected to be sidelined for up to a month with knee damage, leaving the Premier League leaders short of defensive options. The England international sustained a problem in the warm-up before Saturday’s 1-0 win at Brighton but played the full 90 minutes.
Tensions high ahead of Saudi match
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus target their first title of 2019 in the Italian Super Cup on Wednesday against a backdrop of controversy and protests over human rights issues and ticket restrictions imposed on female fans by hosts Saudi Arabia. The showdown against AC Milan will the 10th time the Super Cup final has been played abroad in 31 editions, but not since the 2002 choice of the Libyan capital Tripoli has there been such heated discussion.
Halfpenny included in Wales squad
Wales included Leigh Halfpenny in their Six Nations squad on Tuesday, despite the fullback having not played rugby since he was concussed against Australia in November. Halfpenny, one of seven back-three options in a 39-man squad named by coach Warren Gatland, was poleaxed by Australia’s Samu Kerevi in the 9-6 victory over the Wallabies, one of four November wins for the Welsh. “We’ll make an assessment when he comes in,” said Gatland.
India win to level ODI series
Veteran wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni steered India to a six-wicket victory over Australia in the second one-day international to level the series in Adelaide on Tuesday. Former skipper Dhoni, playing in his 334th ODI, coolly guided India across the line with four balls to spare to back up a dazzling century from captain Virat Kohli.
India’s Sawhney named new ICC chief
The International Cricket Council on Tuesday named 52-year-old Indian Manu Sawhney its new CEO to replace David Richardson, who will step down after the World Cup in July. Sawhney is a former CEO of Singapore Sports Hub and managing director of ESPN Star Sports, and is a non-executive director and member of the audit committee of Manchester United Limited.
Viviani wins opening Tour Down Under stage
Italy’s Elia Viviani won a tight finish to take the opening stage of Australia’s Tour Down Under in brutal temperatures in Adelaide on Tuesday. Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Viviani, the omnium gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics and one of the world’s leading sprinters, powered out of the pack to reel in Germany’s Max Walscheid and claim the ochre jersey after the first of six stages. Defending champion Daryl Impey, 11th, is bidding to become the first cyclist to win back-to-back titles there.
Japan’s Olympic head denies impropriety
The head of Japan’s Olympic Committee confirmed on Tuesday that he was questioned by French authorities in December but repeated his denial there was anything improper involved in Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Games and vowed to show his innocence. French financial prosecutors investigating a multimillion-dollar payment made by Japan’s bidding committee to a Singaporean consultancy questioned Tsunekazu Takeda in Paris and he was placed under formal investigation for suspected corruption on December 10.
- AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE