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French Open: Alexander Zverev stuns Rafael Nadal in first-round blockbuster

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Paris, May 27 (IANS) Alexander Zverev added another feather to his crown, becoming only the third player in recent times to beat 14-time champion Rafael Nadal in the French Open, handing the Spanish legend a straight sets defeat in a blockbuster first-round encounter here on Monday.

With World No.1 Novak Djokovic, Iga Swiatek, and Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz watching from the stands, Zverev defeated Nadal 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 in a three-hour battle at the Court Philippe-Chatrier on Monday afternoon.

The clash between Nadal and Zvarev, the fourth seed from Germany, was the marquee match on the second day at Roland Garros. But it ended in disappointment for the Spanish clay-court specialist who is now virtually in the final stages of his career following multiple injury breaks.

After just over 45 minutes Zverev broke for a second time in the match to wrap up the first set against Nadal 6-3. The German broke Nadal’s service in the first game and set the early tone for the match. Some big serving enabled Zverev to keep his nose in front thereafter as Nadal battled hard to stay in the set but lost a long ninth game to drop serve for a second time.

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The same trend continued, and Zverev took a stranglehold on the match by edging the second set tiebreak 7-5. Rafa had his chances in that set -– he served for it at 5-4 only to be broken to love and he had two break points with the German serving at 5-5. There wasn’t much to separate the two players in the shootout either when they swapped ends at 3-3. The fourth seed produced a winning drop volley to go up a mini break at 4-3 and came through a 19-shot exchange to extend that lead to 5-3.

A packed house was treated to a bit of Nadal magic with a rocket of a forehand pass to bring the scores back to 5-4 but a poor drop shot then left Zverev up 6-4 and with two set points. The right-hander converted the second of those to go up two sets to love and leave the left-handed 14-time Roland Garros champion staring at an early exit.

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This was Nadal’s first match on Court Philippe-Chatrier since triumphing in 2022. He is 112-3 at Roland Garros and has not lost to someone other than Novak Djokovic at the tournament since 2009 (Robin Soderling).

But the Spanish star has struggled with injuries over the past couple of years and tallied a 5-3 record this clay-court season entering Roland Garros, well below his lofty standards.

The German fourth seed Zverev broke Nadal in the seventh game of the third set. Nadal kept things very tight, but Zverev, the three-time Roland Garros semifinalist from Hamburg, rode the momentum to win the set 6-3 and clinch the match.

–IANS

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Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg joins Marseille on loan

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Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg joins Marseille on loan

Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg joins Marseille on loan

Marseille, July 23 (IANS) Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has joined the Ligue 1 club Marseille on an initial loan deal for the 2024-25 season.

Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg joins Marseille on loan

Marseille, July 23 (IANS) Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has joined the Ligue 1 club Marseille on an initial loan deal for the 2024-25 season.

The 28-year-old midfielder has joined the club on loan with an option to buy after successfully passing his medical.

After playing in the youth teams of FC Copenhagen and Brondby IF, Hojbjerg made his professional debut at Bayern Munich club. His time at Bayern, interspersed with two formative experiences in the form of loans to FC Augsburg and Schalke 04, also allowed him to be called up to the Danish national team at the age of 18 and to add the Bundesliga and the German Cup to his list of achievements.

Hojbjerg was then signed for Southampton FC in 2016. With the Saints – of which he quickly became captain – the defensive midfielder played 134 matches and impressed in the Premier League. His technical quality, his work in midfield and his propensity to recover balls made him a real leader in the English championship and caught the eye of Tottenham, the club with which he signed in the close season in 2020.

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The Danish midfielder continues his progression with the London club. In 4 seasons, he played 184 matches, scored 10 goals and provided 16 assists for Spurs .

An experienced player with 36 European Cup matches and more than 80 selections, Hojbjerg was even elected to the typical Euro 2020 team, actively contributing to the journey that led his selection to the semifinals.

Trained in particular by Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho during his career, the Dane comes to strengthen Roberto De Zerbi’s squad.

–IANS

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'I can't wait to get started': Onana joins Aston Villa fromEverton

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'I can't wait to get started': Onana joins Aston Villa fromEverton

'I can't wait to get started': Onana joins Aston Villa fromEverton

Birmingham, July 23 (IANS) Aston Villa have signed 22-year-old midfielder Amadou Onana from Everton, the Premier League club said.

Onana becomes Villa’s eighth signing in a busy summer transfer window, and the second within a week following the return of winger Jaden Philogene from Hull City.

The Cameroonian will join his new team-mates for Villa’s pre-season tour of the United States, which starts with a match against Columbus Crew July 27.

“It feels amazing. I’m glad to be here, finally, and I can’t wait to get started,” Onana was quoted by club’s official website.

On his reasons for joining, he added: “It was a bit of everything. There’s a healthy atmosphere here to grow as a player and as a man. The team played very attractive football last season with loads of goals and will now be playing in the Champions League.

“I’ll be playing in the Champions League again and that’s very exciting. We also have a manager that’s one of the best in the business and I think he can take my game to the next level.”

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Onana took his first steps in professional football with Hamburger SV in Germany before spending a year at LOSC Lille in Ligue 1. He would then join Everton in the summer of 2022, going on to make over 70 appearances for the Toffees, scoring three times last term.

Having played against Villa a number of times during his stay on Merseyside, Onana now hopes to star in claret and blue.

“It’s a great stadium with a great atmosphere and the fans are amazing. I’ve played several times against the lads and I know how good they are. I’m ready to bring something to the team as well. I want to bring this football club to the top. They had a tremendous season last season. We’ve got to continue that vibe and try to compete at the top,” said Onana.

On the international stage, he has been capped 17 times by his country.

–IANS

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Tour de France winner Pogacar pulls out of Paris Olympics

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Tour de France winner Pogacar pulls out of Paris Olympics

Tour de France winner Pogacar pulls out of Paris Olympics

Paris, July 23 (IANS) Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar will not compete at the Paris Olympics after the Slovenian rider renounced the chance to go for gold due to accumulated tiredness.

The Slovenian agency STA confirmed the news on Monday after Pogacar won his third Tour with a lead of over six minutes over the second place Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark just one day ago, reports Xinhua.

Pogacar won six stages as he dominated the race, with his triumph made more impressive after he also won the Giro de Italia in May.

The manner of his wins and the form that Pogacar showed in the early season one-day races, which are similar to the 273-km Olympic road cycling race, meant the bronze medal winner of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was favorite to add an Olympic gold medal to his already spectacular season.

However, his agent Alex Carera explained that the fatigue that the 25-year-old has accumulated over the past three months has led him to take the decision to withdraw from the Paris Games.

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With Pogacar and Vingegaard both not competing in Paris, Belgian duo of Remco Evenepoel, who finished the third in the Tour de France, and Wout van Aert will be the new favorites in Paris, with Evenepoel challenging for gold in the road race and also the 32-kilometer time-trial.

–IANS

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ATP Tour: Nagal overcomes Klein in three sets in poor court conditions in Kitzbuhel

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ATP Tour: Nagal overcomes Klein in three sets in poor court conditions in Kitzbuhel

ATP Tour: Nagal overcomes Klein in three sets in poor court conditions in Kitzbuhel

Kitzbuhel (Austria), July 22 (IANS) India’s Sumit Nagal failed to capitalise on six match points and some poor playing conditions before finally overcoming Lukas Klein in three sets in the first round of the Generali Open here on Monday. Nagal let slip six match points before finally overcoming Klein 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(3) to advance to the second round.

Nagal was unhappy with the court conditions, at one time asking the chair umpire, “Tell me how it’s possible to play on a court like this.” To this, the umpire responded, “I have seen worse”, according to an account of the conversation published on social media.

Nagal termed the conditions “bad” and struggled to play his game in the match.

The 26-year-old Indian came back from an early break of serve in the second game to break back Klein’s serve in the fifth and ninth games to win the first set. But after that, Nagal lost his rhythm, losing serve in the second, and sixth games as Klein dominated the second set.

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Nagal was in trouble after losing his serve in a marathon first game in the third set. The Indian from Haryana was staring at defeat, 3-5 down in the decider before mounting a comeback to win the set in the tie-break, losing break-point opportunities in the 12th game.

Meanwhile, Serbian Laslo Djere continued his strong showing in this Austrian town, moving past qualifier Vit Kopriva to kick-start his 2024 campaign here on Monday. The eighth seed prevailed 7-6(6), 6-3 in the first-round clash at the clay-court ATP 250 tournament. Djere is a two-time semifinalist in Kitzbühel, and he improved his record in the Austrian Alpine town to 8-4 by converting three of four break points he earned against Kopriva, according to Infosys ATP Stats.

Djere will take on Thiago Seyboth Wild, a 6-2, 7-6(6) winner against home favourite Joel Schwaerzler, in the second round. The Serbian defeated Seyboth Wild in the second round in Kitzbuhel last year and holds a 3-0 lead overall in his ATP head-to-head series with the Brazilian.

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Yannick Hanfmann and Nicolas Moreno De Alboran also registered first-round wins on Monday in Austria. The 2020 finalist Hanfmann defeated Jaume Munar 6-3, 6-4 and wild card Moreno De Alboran beat Andrea Collarini 6-4, 6-4.

–IANS

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Sub-jr Women, Men North Zone Hockey: U.P, Haryana win titles

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Sub-jr Women, Men North Zone Hockey: U.P, Haryana win titles

Sub-jr Women, Men North Zone Hockey: U.P, Haryana win titles

Jhansi (U.P), July 22 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh Hockey and Hockey Haryana secured the titles in the men’s and women’s categories of the 2nd Hockey India Sub Junior Women and Men North Zone Championship 2024 respectively here on Monday. Hockey Haryana beat Uttar Pradesh Hockey 5-2 in the women’s category Final and Hockey Punjab defeated Hockey Himachal 3-0 to finish third.

In the men’s category, Uttar Pradesh Hockey beat Hockey Haryana 5-0 in the final and Hockey Punjab beat Hockey Uttarakhand 6-0 to finish third.

The women’s category final saw Hockey Haryana beat Uttar Pradesh Hockey 5-2. For Hockey Haryana, Neeshu (22’) Manjinder (25’, 39’, 41’) and Mahi (50’) got on the scoresheet, while for Uttar Pradesh Hockey, Vaishali Sen (24’) and Somika Dhanuk (47’) were the goalscorers.

The 3rd/4th Place match in the women’s category saw Hockey Punjab beat Hockey Himachal 3-0. For Hockey Punjab, Taniya Chandeliya (9’), Rashmeen Kaur (37’) and Captain Saloni (60’) were the goalscorers.

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Meanwhile, the Men’s category final saw Uttar Pradesh Hockey beat Hockey Haryana by 5-0. For Hockey Uttar Pradesh Hockey, Captain Keta Kushwaha (2′), Prahalad Rajbhar (15′, 54′) and Shahrukh Ali (26′, 49′) got on the scoresheet.

The 3rd/4th Place match in the Men’s category saw Hockey Punjab beat Hockey Uttarakhand 6-0. For Hockey Punjab, Diljit Singh (14′), Gourav Singh (23′), Rana Fateh Singh (26′, 56′), Mandeep Singh (34′) and Pargat Singh (37′) were the goal scorers.

–IANS

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