Power and glory as Rybakina eyes Wimbledon final

Published at : 11 July 2024, 08:22 pm
Power and glory as Rybakina eyes Wimbledon final
Elena Rybakina. Collected

Elena Rybakina can move closer to a second Wimbledon title on Thursday when she faces Barbora Krejcikova armed with one of the All England Club's deadliest serves, reports AFP.

Krejcikova is in her first Wimbledon semi-final as are Jasmine Paolini and Donna Vekic, who contest Thursday's other tie.

Rybakina, the 2022 champion, is the overwhelming favourite to sweep to a second title at the All England Club.

The Russian-born Kazakh, seeded fourth, has hit a joint tournament best of 31 aces and has dropped serve just six times.

The 1.83 metre (6 feet) Rybakina has unleashed 134 winners and spent only six hours and 14 minutes on court through five rounds.

"Of course I have such amazing memories from 2022 and I'm just enjoying every time I step on the court, especially when I play good. It's just really amazing," she said.

"In 2022 I was definitely more nervous than now. It was the first time for me to play on Centre Court. It was a lot of people, a lot of attention. Now, of course, I got used to it a little bit."

Krejcikova, the French Open champion in 2021, has spent over three hours more on court than Rybakina in getting to her first Wimbledon semi-final.

The 28-year-old played the longest women's match of the tournament in the first round, three hours and 14 minutes, to see off Veronika Kudermetova.

Such resilience would have been difficult to imagine earlier this year, when Krejcikova was laid low by injury and illness.

She also went winless between February and June.

"It was a very, very difficult period," said the Czech 31st seed who admitted she had surprised herself by making the semi-finals.

"I was out. I was ill and injured, this and that. Always coming back and getting ill again. Coming back, getting ill."

Krejcikova can at least take comfort from knowing that she has defeated Rybakina in both of their previous meetings.

Before this season, Paolini appeared destined to spend her career on the fringes of the women's game, a top-30 player making a comfortable living but falling well short of stardom.

In 16 appearances at the Grand Slams she had failed to get past the second round.

However, that changed with a fourth-round run at the Australian Open, a first WTA 1,000-level title in Dubai and a runner-up spot at the French Open.

Now the 28-year-old, who stands at a modest 1.63 metres, is in the semi-finals of Wimbledon, having never won a grass-court match until last month.

"I didn't realise before, but my coach was telling me that I could play well here. I wasn't believing too much," said the modest seventh-ranked Italian.

Paolini has thrived in her return game at Wimbledon, breaking serve 28 times.

However, that skill could be tested against Vekic, who has hit 28 aces through five rounds.

Vekic is in her first Grand Slam semi-final in her 43rd attempt. In the Open era, only four players have taken longer to make such a significant breakthrough.

Vekic has plenty of experience on her coaching staff in the shape of Pam Shriver, a three-time semi-finalist in the 1980s.

"She has all the experience, so she can help me in some crucial moments. She's great fun. I'm really proud to have her in my team," said the 28-year-old Croatian.

 

MSH

Mushfiqur to play for Fortune Barishal in BPL 2024

Published at : 24 September 2023, 03:42 pm
Mushfiqur to play for Fortune Barishal in BPL 2024

Bangladeshi wicketkeeper-batter Mushfiqur Rahim is set to feature for Fortune Barishal in the forthcoming Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).

 

Mushfiqur had played for Sylhet Strikers in the last edition. His price was fixed at 80 lakhs in the players' draft according to the category. Which means he was in 'A' category.

The top category player will play along with other star players like Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, and Khaled Ahmed in Fortune Barishal.

Neymar quits PSG to sign for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal

Published at : 20 September 2023, 05:06 pm
Neymar quits PSG to sign for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal

Neymar said he was relishing “new challenges and opportunities in new places” after he joined Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal from Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year deal Tuesday, becoming the latest big name lured to the oil-rich Gulf state.

The Brazil forward, 31, ends a six-year stay in the French capital and follows in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane in swapping Europe for the Middle East.

“I have achieved a lot in Europe and enjoyed special times, but I have always wanted to be a global player and test myself with new challenges and opportunities in new places,” Neymar said in a statement from the Saudi Pro League.

“I want to write new sporting history, and the Saudi Pro League has tremendous energy and quality players at the moment,” he added.

Neymar ‘in negotiations’ over Saudi move as Mbappe returns to PSG good books

Published at : 20 September 2023, 05:05 pm
Neymar ‘in negotiations’ over Saudi move as Mbappe returns to PSG good books

Neymar was “in negotiations” on Sunday to become the latest football superstar to decamp for Saudi Arabia, leaving Paris Saint-Germain just as Kylian Mbappe was brought back in from the cold by the French champions.

A source close to PSG told AFP that 31-year-old Neymar “no longer figures in the club or manager’s plans” with the Brazilian immediately linked to Al-Hilal in the Gulf kingdom.

Another source in Saudi Arabia said that “direct negotiations” between Neymar’s agents and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) were ongoing.

PSG get better of Dortmund in Champions League opener

Published at : 20 September 2023, 05:03 pm
PSG get better of Dortmund in Champions League opener

Paris Saint-Germain got their Champions League campaign off to a winning start on Tuesday as a Kylian Mbappe penalty set them up for a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes.

The French champions had dominated the first half without overly troubling the Dortmund defence, but they went ahead four minutes after the break when Mbappe scored a spot-kick awarded for a Niklas Suele handball.

Achraf Hakimi added a memorable second, and PSG could have won the Group F encounter by a far more handsome margin in the end.

The result immediately puts them in control of the group, after AC Milan and Newcastle United drew 0-0 earlier, and coach Luis Enrique will hope they can build on this performance when they visit the English side next in a fortnight.

"It was an almost perfect evening," said Luis Enrique.