World Sports News in Brief

Thiem sails past Monfils into maiden Melbourne quarters

Monday, 2020-01-27 11:27:59
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Tennis - Australian Open - Fourth Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 27, 2020 Austria's Dominic Thiem in action during his match against France's Gael Monfils. (Photo: Reuters)
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Fifth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria kept his flawless record intact against Gael Monfils with a trouble-free 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory on Monday to reach his maiden quarter-final at the Australian Open.

Twice French Open finalist Thiem came into the fourth-round clash against the 10th seed having won all five of the matches they have previously played and did not face a single breakpoint against the Frenchman on the Rod Laver Arena. The 26-year-old will meet either top seed Nadal or local hope Nick Kyrgios, seeded 23rd, for a place in the semi-finals.

* Simona Halep produced a match of near flawless counter-punching tennis and held off a furious second-set comeback to beat Elise Mertens 6-4 6-4 on Monday and advance to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Halep, a beaten finalist at Melbourne Park two years ago, will next meet either Estonia's 28th-seed Anett Kontaveit or Poland's Iga Swiatek in the last eight and will draw confidence from her high intensity fourth-round win over Mertens.

* Musicians and performers at the Grammy Awards paid tribute to Kobe Bryant on Sunday at his former home arena, the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, hours after the NBA great was killed some 65 km away in a helicopter crash. Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people died on Sunday morning when the helicopter they were riding in went down in heavy fog and hilly terrain in suburban Calabasas, northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

* Serie A leaders Juventus suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Napoli on Sunday, with coach Maurizio Sarri returning to his former club for the first time, though Cristiano Ronaldo still managed to score for an eighth league game in a row for the visitors. Juve, who are chasing a ninth successive title and could have gone six points clear with a win, instead remained on 51 and saw their lead cut to three points by Inter Milan, who drew 1-1 at home to Cagliari earlier on Sunday.

* Neymar was in a class of his own again on Sunday, scoring a double to help Paris St Germain extend their Ligue 1 lead to 10 points with a 2-0 win at Lille. Brazil forward Neymar found the back of the net either side of the interval with a sublime curled shot and a penalty to put PSG on 52 points from 21 games. Second-placed Olympique de Marseille were held to a goalless stalemate at home by Angers on Saturday.

* Real Madrid defender Nacho was the unlikely hero as they snatched a 1-0 win at Real Valladolid on Sunday to capitalise on Barcelona's defeat at Valencia this weekend and move three points clear of their rivals at the top of La Liga. The Spaniard was handed his fourth league start of the season only because usual right back Dani Carvajal was suspended but he proved the difference in a tight encounter by heading home a Toni Kroos cross in the 78th minute. Real, who have not won the title since 2017, lead the standings on 46 points after 21 games. Barca, who lost 2-0 at Valencia on Saturday in their first defeat under new coach Quique Setien, are second on 43 while Sevilla are third with 38.

* Bayer Leverkusen sent Fortuna Duesseldorf to the bottom of the Bundesliga with a 3-0 home win on Sunday although their poor finishing made it more difficult than it should have been. Leverkusen, who climbed above Schalke 04 into fifth place and are two points off the top four, dominated the match but needed two late goals to make sure of the points.

* Premier League leaders Liverpool were given a huge scare by third-tier Shrewsbury Town as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 away in a pulsating FA Cup fourth round tie on Sunday. A much-changed Liverpool appeared to be cruising into the fifth round for the first time since Juergen Klopp took over in 2015, but Shrewsbury substitute Jason Cummins had the compact New Meadow stadium rocking with a memorable brace.

* Lazio’s 11-match winning run in Serie A was ended on Sunday following a 1-1 derby draw with AS Roma that was decided by two goalkeeping errors. Thomas Strakosha misjudged a cross to allow Roma’s Edin Dzeko to head in the opener after 26 minutes, but Lazio were level just eight minutes later when Pau Lopez failed to gather his own punch before Francesco Acerbi tapped in.

* Lucas Herbert marked Australia Day in his native country by claiming his maiden European Tour title after beating Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a thrilling playoff at the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday. Herbert saved par on the first extra hole after hitting his approach shot into the water, before returning to the same green to roll in the winning birdie.

* Next month's Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group I event has been moved out of China over concerns at the ongoing coronavirus outbreak which has so far killed 56 people in the country. A statement from the International Tennis Federation said the group event from Feb 4-8 featuring China, Taiwan (China), India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Uzbekistan had been switched from Dongguan to Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) in Kazakhstan.

* Atletico Madrid missed the chance to close the gap on La Liga pacesetters Real Madrid and Barcelona on Sunday with a dismal goalless draw at home against 19th-placed strugglers Leganes. The visitors had to play the final minutes of the game with 10 men as goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar was sent off in added time for a second booking for time-wasting but Atletico never looked like taking advantage.

* China has withdrawn as host of a four-nation women's Olympic qualifying tournament next month because of concerns about the outbreak of the new coronavirus in the country, Asian soccer officials said on Sunday. The qualifying group matches, involving Australia, Taiwan (China), Thailand and China, would be moved to Sydney, the Asian Football Confederation said in a statement.

* Roger Federer regained control after a slow start against Hungarian Marton Fucsovics to march into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 win on a chilly evening at the Rod Laver Arena on Sunday. The six-time Australian Open winner, who was two points from defeat against John Millman in his previous round, looked rusty in the opening set against Fucsovics in a repeat of their fourth-round clash here in 2018.

* Australian top seed Ash Barty said she was proud of her indigenous heritage but deflected questions about a contentious national holiday after advancing to the Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday. The Queensland-born Barty delighted the crowd on Rod Laver Arena when she mounted a comeback from a set down to beat American Alison Riske 6-3 1-6 6-4 on Australia Day, which marks the 1788 arrival of British ships to the continent.

* World number 100 Tennys Sandgren reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the second time in three years with an ill-tempered 7-6(5) 7-5 6-7(2) 6-4 victory over combustible Italian Fabio Fognini on Sunday.

* World number one Rafa Nadal renews his rivalry with Nick Kyrgios in a blockbuster fourth-round clash at the Australian Open on Monday, as the Spaniard prepares for the trickiest test of his Melbourne campaign. Nadal has not dropped a set so far as he bids for just his second title at Melbourne Park and was at his ruthless best to dismiss compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta and reach the last 16. In Kyrgios, however, he faces an opponent who has won two of their three previous matches on hardcourts.

* Novak Djokovic continued his imperious progress through the Australian Open draw on Sunday, negotiating a potentially tricky encounter with Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-4 6-4 to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park for the 11th time.

* In-form Canadian Milos Raonic pounded down 35 aces and 55 winners to overcome Croatian Marin Cilic 6-4 6-3 7-5 on Sunday and become the first man to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. The 29-year-old, a former world number three, is seeded a lowly 32nd at Melbourne Park but has been in impressive form over the first week and reached the last eight without losing a set.

* Petra Kvitova came from a set down and took full advantage as her Greek opponent Maria Sakkari's self-belief drained away to advance to the Australian Open quarter-finals with a 6-7(4) 6-3 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.