SPORTS DAY: Can Sharapova take Wozniacki Down Under?
Your roundup of the sporting news of the day
Sharapova sets up Wozniacki clash Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova’s scintillating return to form continued on Wednesday as she powered into the Australian Open third round to set up a mouthwatering clash with defending champion Caroline Wozniacki. Sharapova, who is seeded 30th at the tournament and seeking to recapture former glories after coming back from a drugs ban in 2017, brushed aside Swede Rebecca Peterson 6-2, 6-1. There is no love lost between Sharapova and Wozniacki. Wozniacki questioned the way the WTA handled Sharapova’s return from her drugs ban in 2017 and was furious when she was bumped from the show court in favour of the Russian at that year’s US Open.
Federer and Nadal stay on track
Roger Federer ground out a tough three-set win to make the Australian Open third round for an incredible 20th straight year on Wednesday, with longtime rival Rafael Nadal also safely through. But it was curtains for South African Kevin Anderson, who slumped out to young American Frances Tiafoe and became the highest seed, at five, to be sent packing so far. “I lost to him three times last year and when I was down a set and a break it looked like it would happen again,” said Tiafoe. “I dug deep and went to a different place.”
Leeds unveil plaque for SA star
Leeds United have unveiled a plaque in memory of SA winger Albert Johanneson‚ the first black African to play in an FA Cup final. His granddaughter unveiled the blue plaque at Elland Road at the weekend as the club kept up their bid to win promotion back to the Premier League. Johanneson moved to Britain as one of few SA footballing exports of his time.
Can Spurs go on without Kane to lean on? Tottenham have defied the odds to remain alive in three cup competitions and on course for a top-four finish in the Premier League after spending nothing in the summer, but staying afloat without injured talisman Harry Kane could be the biggest challenge yet for manager Mauricio Pochettino. The loss of the World Cup’s Golden Boot winner has been exacerbated by the departure of Son Heung-min to the Asian Cup – potentially for the rest of the month – leaving Pochettino desperately short of striking options. Pochettino will now be forced to turn to 33-year-old Spanish striker Fernando Llorente, who has played just over an hour of Premier League and Champions League football all season.
Beale apologises over white powder video
Wallabies star Kurtley Beale has apologised and been reprimanded after being caught laughing at a man snorting white powder in a video circulated on social media. The Australian playmaker was seen in the clip with rugby league star Corey Norman in a luxury hotel room while an older man sniffed the substance off a plate. Beale was seen laughing after the incident in the video, which was taken in 2016 but only became public this week.
‘Scotland can challenge despite injuries’
Head coach Gregor Townsend believes Scotland can challenge for the Six Nations crown despite an extensive injury list containing 19 internationals. Townsend has named seven uncapped players in his 39-man squad for the tournament, which starts early next month.
RWC boss planning for typhoons, quakes
With the final countdown to this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan well under way, organisers are focusing their efforts on contingency planning in the notoriously earthquake- and typhoon-prone country, tournament director Alan Gilpin said. Japan is especially vulnerable to extreme weather in September, when the tournament will be in full swing, he noted. In September last year one typhoon knocked out Osaka Airport and another lashed the whole country, forcing authorities to take the highly unusual step of cancelling public transport in Tokyo. A strong earthquake also rocked the northern island of Hokkaido, killing dozens.
New stands for Lord’s
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has been granted permission to build two new stands at Lord’s to replace the Compton and Edrich stands and increase the stadium’s capacity to 31,000, it said on Wednesday. The new three-tier stands, to be built at the stadium’s Nursery End, will cost £50m.
Bevin wins second Tour Down Under stage
New Zealand time-trial champion Patrick Bevin swooped to take his first cycling World Tour stage and claim the overall lead in Australia’s Tour Down Under on Wednesday. Bevin, 27, riding for the CCC Team, capitalised on confusion in the peloton sparked by a mass crash inside the final kilometre of the 122km second stage to power home in the finish.
Japan’s last grand master retires
The only Japanese-born grand champion or “yokozuna” in sumo has decided to retire following a disastrous run of form and injury, leaving two Mongolians on top of the ancient sport. The 32-year-old Kisenosato, the first Japanese-born wrestler to reach the heights of yokozuna since 1998, decided to throw in the towel after three straight losses in the New Year “basho” or tournament.
Former star nabbed on child sex abuse charge
Former World Series winning pitcher John Wetteland was arrested on Monday on a child sex abuse charge in Texas, jail records in Denton County near Dallas showed. Wetteland, 52, was charged with “continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14”, according to the jail records, which under Texas law means committing two or more acts of sexual abuse in a period of 30 or more days, regardless of whether the acts are committed against one or more victims.
– AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE