Pakistan

Novak Djokovic out, but vaccine debate stays in Australian Open

Novak Djokovic out, but vaccine debate stays in Australian Open

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30591069

To some, it seemed a cloud had been lifted from the Australian Open. To others, Novak Djokovic still was almost palpably present, the name on everyone's lips on the opening day of the first major tennis tournament of the year.

Djokovic left Australia late on Sunday when he failed to overturn the cancellation of his visa due to his lack of a Covid-19 vaccination. His flight from Melbourne was touching down in Dubai early Monday just as the first matches of the tournament began.

As the number one-ranked male player and the three-time defending champion, Djokovic would have been the marquee attraction of the tournament. In absentia, he still exercised an outsized influence on opening day.

When his Serbian Davis Cup teammate Dusan Lajovic beat Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in a tight five-setter, a Serbian fan immediately tweeted “Dusan Lajovic has avenged his Serbian brother by eliminating Martin Fucsovics.”

Fucsovics had angered Djokovic’s supporters before the tournament when he criticized Djokovic’s unvaccinated status, saying “people’s health is paramount and there are rules that were outlined months ago namely that everyone should vaccinate themselves and Djokovic didn’t.

”From this point of view, I don’t think he would have the right to be here.”

Djokovic received an exemption to vaccination rules to play in the Australian Open, based on a coronavirus infection in mid-December. But upon arrival, border officials said the exemption was not valid and moved to deport him — sparking a 10-day legal battle and an ongoing political drama.

After his win at Melbourne Park, Lajovic displayed a Serbian flag emblazoned with Djokovic’s image and the words “like it or not, The Greatest of All Time.”

The celebrated Australian tennis coach Darren Cahill told Australian television “the players are relieved” that Djokovic’s departure focused attention on tennis.

The former coach of world No. 1s Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Simona Halep told the Nine Network “there has been a cloud hanging over the players.

“I hated the exemption that he had because I think that exemption is really for people who want to get vaccinated and can’t get vaccinated because they have contracted Covid in the last three or six months and Novak never wanted to get vaccinated.”

'Doesn't matter if you are No.1, rules are rules'

Australian federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg rejected the assertion of Serbia President Alexander Vucic that Djokovic was mentally and physically mistreated prior to his departure from Australia.

“I completely reject those comments and make no apologies for the application of the rules here in Australia around our border protection policies that have helped keep us safe,” Frydenberg said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re the No. 1 tennis player in the world or Betty from Utah, If you’re unvaccinated, the same rules apply, and that’s what’s applied here.

“The Australian Open … is a great celebration of tennis, and it’s much bigger than one individual player.”

Opinion remained divided worldwide on the No. 1 men’s tennis player and whether he should have been allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

At a tennis center in Phoenix on Sunday, employee Stan Taylor said the lobby was abuzz with just one question as players arrived: “What do you think about Novak Djokovic?”

There was no consensus on whether the No. 1 men’s player had tried to game the system in seeking an exemption to Australia’s strict vaccination rules or had the right to defend his title at the Open. In the end, the country’s immigration minister revoked his visa on public interest grounds, and Djokovic was deported on Sunday.

Taylor said he knows Djokovic has favored unconventional approaches all his life, but he wanted to see the tennis star display leadership in the polarizing Covid-19 vaccine debate.

“I love to watch him do battle,” said Taylor, who lives in Phoenix and has closely followed the saga. “I’ve watched him snatch victory from the mouth of defeat. .... So he loves the game, but this thing was not something to get on the soapbox about. He chose the wrong fight, and he lost.”

Djokovic has overwhelming support from his home country of Serbia, whose president said Australia embarrassed itself and urged his countryman to return where he would be welcomed.

The tennis player has also been held up as a hero by some in the anti-vaccine movement. One protester raised a poster in support of the tennis star at a rally in the Netherlands on Sunday.

Others were quick to criticize. One of Italy’s greatest tennis players, Adriano Panatta, called Djokovic’s expulsion from Australia “the most natural epilogue of this affair.”

“I don’t see how Australia could have granted the visa. He committed big errors, he created an international case when he could have done without that,” Panatta said to the Italian news agency LaPresse.

French tennis player Alize Cornet, meanwhile, expressed sympathy while reserving judgment.

“I know too little to judge the situation,” she posted on Twitter. “What I know is that Novak is always the first one to stand up for the players. But none of us stood for him. Be strong.”

'Hope such a situation won't repeat next time': Murray

British player Andy Murray said he hoped that such a situation wouldn’t be repeated at the next tournament.

It's not clear where Djokovic will play next, and he is the defending champion at the next scheduled major, the French Open in May-June.

At this stage, he could still play — if virus rules don’t change before then. French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu confirmed earlier this month that Djokovic would qualify for a “health bubble” that allows unvaccinated players to train and play.

The same could be true for Wimbledon, where he is also the defending champion. England has allowed exemptions from various coronavirus regulations for visiting athletes, if they remain at their accommodation when not competing or training.

The US Tennis Association, which runs the US Open, has said it will follow government rules on vaccination status.

A Djokovic appearance at those tournaments certainly would attract those who want to see great players in action, said Dillon McNamara, who runs a tennis academy in Las Vegas.

“I’m not a Novak Djokovic fan at all ... but I would have really liked to see him play,” he said, arguing the Australian Open could have put measures in place to keep the tournament safe beyond barring the unvaccinated.

Perhaps there is only one thing everyone can agree on.

As Murray put it: “The situation has not been good all-round for anyone.”



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669965/novak-djokovic-out-but-vaccine-debate-stays-in-australian-open
Novak Djokovic out, but vaccine debate stays in Australian Open

Novak Djokovic out, but vaccine debate stays in Australian Open

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30591035

To some, it seemed a cloud had been lifted from the Australian Open. To others, Novak Djokovic still was almost palpably present, the name on everyone's lips on the opening day of the first major tennis tournament of the year.

Djokovic left Australia late on Sunday when he failed to overturn the cancellation of his visa due to his lack of a Covid-19 vaccination. His flight from Melbourne was touching down in Dubai early Monday just as the first matches of the tournament began.

As the number one-ranked male player and the three-time defending champion, Djokovic would have been the marquee attraction of the tournament. In absentia, he still exercised an outsized influence on opening day.

When his Serbian Davis Cup teammate Dusan Lajovic beat Marton Fucsovics of Hungary in a tight five-setter, a Serbian fan immediately tweeted “Dusan Lajovic has avenged his Serbian brother by eliminating Martin Fucsovics.”

Fucsovics had angered Djokovic’s supporters before the tournament when he criticized Djokovic’s unvaccinated status, saying “people’s health is paramount and there are rules that were outlined months ago namely that everyone should vaccinate themselves and Djokovic didn’t.

”From this point of view, I don’t think he would have the right to be here.”

Djokovic received an exemption to vaccination rules to play in the Australian Open, based on a coronavirus infection in mid-December. But upon arrival, border officials said the exemption was not valid and moved to deport him — sparking a 10-day legal battle and an ongoing political drama.

After his win at Melbourne Park, Lajovic displayed a Serbian flag emblazoned with Djokovic’s image and the words “like it or not, The Greatest of All Time.”

The celebrated Australian tennis coach Darren Cahill told Australian television “the players are relieved” that Djokovic’s departure focused attention on tennis.

The former coach of world No. 1s Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Simona Halep told the Nine Network “there has been a cloud hanging over the players.

“I hated the exemption that he had because I think that exemption is really for people who want to get vaccinated and can’t get vaccinated because they have contracted Covid in the last three or six months and Novak never wanted to get vaccinated.”

'Doesn't matter if you are No.1, rules are rules'

Australian federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg rejected the assertion of Serbia President Alexander Vucic that Djokovic was mentally and physically mistreated prior to his departure from Australia.

“I completely reject those comments and make no apologies for the application of the rules here in Australia around our border protection policies that have helped keep us safe,” Frydenberg said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re the No. 1 tennis player in the world or Betty from Utah, If you’re unvaccinated, the same rules apply, and that’s what’s applied here.

“The Australian Open … is a great celebration of tennis, and it’s much bigger than one individual player.”

Opinion remained divided worldwide on the No. 1 men’s tennis player and whether he should have been allowed to compete in the Australian Open despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

At a tennis center in Phoenix on Sunday, employee Stan Taylor said the lobby was abuzz with just one question as players arrived: “What do you think about Novak Djokovic?”

There was no consensus on whether the No. 1 men’s player had tried to game the system in seeking an exemption to Australia’s strict vaccination rules or had the right to defend his title at the Open. In the end, the country’s immigration minister revoked his visa on public interest grounds, and Djokovic was deported on Sunday.

Taylor said he knows Djokovic has favored unconventional approaches all his life, but he wanted to see the tennis star display leadership in the polarizing Covid-19 vaccine debate.

“I love to watch him do battle,” said Taylor, who lives in Phoenix and has closely followed the saga. “I’ve watched him snatch victory from the mouth of defeat. .... So he loves the game, but this thing was not something to get on the soapbox about. He chose the wrong fight, and he lost.”

Djokovic has overwhelming support from his home country of Serbia, whose president said Australia embarrassed itself and urged his countryman to return where he would be welcomed.

The tennis player has also been held up as a hero by some in the anti-vaccine movement. One protester raised a poster in support of the tennis star at a rally in the Netherlands on Sunday.

Others were quick to criticize. One of Italy’s greatest tennis players, Adriano Panatta, called Djokovic’s expulsion from Australia “the most natural epilogue of this affair.”

“I don’t see how Australia could have granted the visa. He committed big errors, he created an international case when he could have done without that,” Panatta said to the Italian news agency LaPresse.

'Hope such a situation won't repeat next time': Murray

French tennis player Alize Cornet, meanwhile, expressed sympathy while reserving judgment.

“I know too little to judge the situation,” she posted on Twitter. “What I know is that Novak is always the first one to stand up for the players. But none of us stood for him. Be strong.”

British player Andy Murray said he hoped that such a situation wouldn’t be repeated at the next tournament.

It's not clear where Djokovic will play next, and he is the defending champion at the next scheduled major, the French Open in May-June.

At this stage, he could still play — if virus rules don’t change before then. French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu confirmed earlier this month that Djokovic would qualify for a “health bubble” that allows unvaccinated players to train and play.

The same could be true for Wimbledon, where he is also the defending champion. England has allowed exemptions from various coronavirus regulations for visiting athletes, if they remain at their accommodation when not competing or training.

The US Tennis Association, which runs the US Open, has said it will follow government rules on vaccination status.

A Djokovic appearance at those tournaments certainly would attract those who want to see great players in action, said Dillon McNamara, who runs a tennis academy in Las Vegas.

“I’m not a Novak Djokovic fan at all ... but I would have really liked to see him play,” he said, arguing the Australian Open could have put measures in place to keep the tournament safe beyond barring the unvaccinated.

Perhaps there is only one thing everyone can agree on.

As Murray put it: “The situation has not been good all-round for anyone.”



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669965/novak-djokovic-out-but-vaccine-debate-stays-in-australian-open
Pat Cummins wins hearts by holding champagne shower for Usman Khawaja

Pat Cummins wins hearts by holding champagne shower for Usman Khawaja

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30591009

Pat Cummins' leadership qualities were on full display even after his side sealed a 4-0 Ashes series win on Sunday as he ensured Usman Khawaja, the first Muslim cricketer to play for Australia, was not showered by champagne amid the celebrations.

As his euphoric teammates started popping champagne bottles on the stage at Hobart's Bellerive Oval, Khawaja stepped aside to avoid being sprayed with alcohol in keeping with his religious beliefs.

Cummins quickly noticed and asked his teammates to put aside the bottles and gestured for Khawaja to rejoin them on the dais.

Khawaja, who played the last two matches of the five-test series, returned to the stage and kneeled beside Cummins as the victorious side let out a roar posing for the cameras.

“Usman is obviously Muslim, so he doesn't like the champagne being thrown,” Cummins, who also finished as the highest wicket-taker in the series victory over England, told reporters.

“I just made sure he got up there and no champagne was thrown.” Cummins' “classy” gesture went viral on social media and was praised by fans as wells as former England cricketer Isa Guha.

“Good leader always looks after the team as a whole and respects everyone equally and @patcummins30 has shown to be that leader,” former Pakistan fast bowler Umar Gul said on Twitter.

One Twitter user said Cummins, in his first series as captain, was a “fantastic role model”. “Take a bow, Captain Cummins. Inclusive, respectful, decent and humble leadership,” the user wrote.

Playing his first test in 2-1/2 years, Khawaja smashed a hundred in each innings of the fourth match in Sydney batting in the middle order.

Opening the innings in Hobart, the left-hander scored six and 11 but still finished as the fifth highest scorer in the five-match series.

The Islamabad-born player was part of a Cricket Australia working group aimed at increasing diversity in the game.



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669961/pat-cummins-wins-hearts-by-holding-champagne-shower-for-usman-khawaja
PCB conducts second round of wrist tests in junior events

PCB conducts second round of wrist tests in junior events

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30590941

LAHORE: Despite announcing the squads for the ongoing National U-13 and U-16 tournaments after conducting wrist tests of the participating players, the Pakistan Cricket Board went for a second round of tests across the weekend. Wrist tests of players of 12 teams — two each of six provincial cricket associations — in the U-16 event being held in Multan were conducted on Sunday, while players of six U-13 sides in Karachi were tested for their ages a day earlier.

The tests, Dawn has learnt, have impacted the players’ mental health, while also burdening the PCB exchequer. “The tests are being redone to streamline the process further and make it tighter,” a PCB spokesperson told Dawn.

“This is a part of ensuring the protocols are further stringent for the events ahead as most of these players are going to progress to junior cricket tournaments and High Performance Centres.”

Most players participating in the U-16 event have already featured in the previous U-13 events and if any of those are tested to be overage, it would question mark over the officials responsible to ensure the accuracy of wrist test results. It is also yet to be seen, how the PCB decides to penalise the people involved if players are proven overage after the recent tests.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669900/pcb-conducts-second-round-of-wrist-tests-in-junior-events
Suspended Copa game resumes without injured player

Suspended Copa game resumes without injured player

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30590927
SEVILLE: Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic (2nd L) vies for the ball with Real Betis’ Sergio Canales during their Copa del Rey round-of-16 match at the Benito Villamarin Stadium on Sunday.—AFP
SEVILLE: Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic (2nd L) vies for the ball with Real Betis’ Sergio Canales during their Copa del Rey round-of-16 match at the Benito Villamarin Stadium on Sunday.—AFP

MADRID: The Copa del Rey match suspended after an object was thrown from the stands resumed on Sunday behind closed doors and without the Sevilla player hit in the head in what the club called “an appalling attack”.

Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan was doing well but did not play in their 2-1 loss to Real Betis in a match that restarted in the 40th minute with the score tied at 1-1. Betis reached the quarter-finals with the victory at home.

Jordan had been taken to a hospital after being hit by a piece of PVC hurled from the stands while Betis were celebrating Nabil Fekir’s equaliser before halftime in Saturday’s round-of-16 match between the fierce Seville rivals at the Benito Villamarin Stadium in southern Spain.

Jordan underwent a series of tests and was diagnosed with a head trauma. He will remain under observation for at least 24 hours, the Spanish football federation said on Sunday.

The federation said “it wanted to avoid major logistical challenges by keeping the match at the Villamarin stadium”, but no fans were allowed to guarantee the match ends without new incidents, “considering the seriousness of what happened”.

Sevilla tried to postpone the match until a later date so it could count on Jordan, but the federation’s competitions committee denied its request.

Sergio Canales scored Betis’ winner from inside the area after a breakaway in the 73rd. The match ended without any major incidents or altercations between the rivals.

Only one other Copa del Rey match was scheduled for Sunday, with Valencia winning 1-0 at visiting Atltico Baleares to also reach the quarter-finals.

In other round-of-16 games on Saturday, Mallorca, Rayo Vallecano, and Cadiz all advanced.

Japan forward Takefusa Kubo scored from a free kick to help Mallorca beat Espanyol 2-1.

Luca Zidane, son of Zinedine Zidane, saved a penalty to ensure Rayo Vallecano won at Girona 2-1.

Cadiz also moved on after getting past second-tier side Sporting Gijon in a penalty shootout following a scoreless match.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669905/suspended-copa-game-resumes-without-injured-player
Liverpool go second with comfortable win over Brentford

Liverpool go second with comfortable win over Brentford

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30590926
LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (second L) heads to score during the English Premier League match against Brentford at Anfield on Sunday.—AFP
LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (second L) heads to score during the English Premier League match against Brentford at Anfield on Sunday.—AFP

LONDON: Liverpool found the goal-scoring alternatives needed in the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as their stand-ins stepped up in a 3-0 win over Brentford at Anfield to climb up to second in the Premier League on Sunday.

Midfielder Fabinho proved an unlikely solution with his third goal in eight days with the opener just before halftime when a corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold bounced to the back post and was nodded home by the Brazilian.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s diving header in the 69th and substitute Takumi Minamino’s close-range finish wrapped up the win.

A 0-0 draw against 10-man Arsenal in the League Cup on Thursday had raised questions about how Juergen Klopp’s side would cope while Salah and Mane remain at the African Cup of Nations, but this result offered more hope for the coming weeks.

With a first clean sheet in five league matches and a first league win since mid-December, Liverpool moved above Chelsea in second place but 11 points behind Manchester City with a game in hand.

And Klopp insisted Liverpool will not give up the chase of City.

“We don’t have to convince anybody outside [the club]. People who are with us, they want to enjoy the ride,” said Klopp. “This is not the situation to talk about a title race, 11 points with one game in hand. In a normal world [City win the league], but what is normal nowadays?”

In Sunday’s other game, West Ham United squandered a chance to cement fourth spot as they lost 3-2 at home to Leeds United with Jack Harrison scoring a hat-trick for the visitors.

After three successive wins West Ham had the chance to open up a five-point gap between themselves and fifth-placed Arsenal whose game at Tottenham Hotspur was postponed. But Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, missing seven players through injury or suspension, had other ideas.

Harrison put Leeds ahead at the London Stadium and netted again after Jarrod Bowen’s equaliser. When Pablo Fornals hauled West Ham level in the second half, Harrison had an instant response as the midfielder completed his treble.

West Ham remained fourth with 37 points but the three sides below them — Arsenal (35), Tottenham (33) and Manchester United (32) all have at least two games in hand.

On Saturday, Philippe Coutinho marked his debut for Aston Villa with a late equaliser to complete a dramatic comeback in a 2-2 draw against United, for whom Bruno Fernandes scored twice to put the visitors 2-0 ahead.

Everton boss Rafael Benitez was sacked on Sunday, a day after a 2-1 defeat at Norwich City, who moved off the bottom of the table with their third win of the campaign and dragged the visitors into the relegation picture.

Newcastle United conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to Watford, missing the chance to escape the drop zone.

Eighth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers continued their good form with a 3-1 home win over Southampton thanks to goals from Raul Jimenez, Conor Coady and Adama Traore.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669901/liverpool-go-second-with-comfortable-win-over-brentford
Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by five wickets in first ODI

Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe by five wickets in first ODI

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30590925

KANDY: Dinesh Chandimal and Charith Asalanka smashed half-centuries to guide Sri Lanka to a comfortable five-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the first one-day international on Sunday.

Chasing 297 for victory, Sri Lanka rode on a 129-run stand between man-of-the-match Chandimal (75) and Asalanka (71) to achieve the target with nine balls to spare and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series in Kandy.

Opener Pathum Nissanka made 75 to set up the chase on a batting-friendly wicket. Sean Williams scored 100 in Zimbabwe’s 296 for nine in 50 overs.

“Our batsmen showed the class and maturity during the chase,” skipper Dasun Shanaka said after the win.

“Credit to Nissanka, Asalanka and Chandimal. We got lot of players on the bench as well. We would want to consider them in the upcoming games.”

Nissanka put on key partnerships including an opening stand of 40 with Kusal Mendis.

Blessing Muzarabani sent back Kusal for 26 and Richard Ngarava bowled Kamindu Mendis to check Sri Lanka.

Nissanka, who combined with Chandimal for a 66-run stand, raised his maiden ODI fifty in 48 balls amid raucous applause from the home crowd.

He fell while attempting to hit a wide delivery and got caught behind off Sikandar Raza.

But the right-left batting pair of Chandimal and Asalanka combined to take the attack to the opposition before losing their wickets. Chandimal fell to Ngarava who also got Asalanka trapped lbw, but Shanaka and Chamika Karunaratne completed the win.

Earlier the left-handed Williams recorded his fifth ODI century after the tourists elected to bat first.

Regis Chakabva, who hit 72, and debutant Takudzwanashe Kaitano, who made 42, set up the batting charge with an opening stand of 80.

Jeffrey Vandersay broke the partnership with his leg spin and denied Kaitano a fifty in the batsman’s first international but Chakabva kept up the attack.

He made the most of a dropped catch on two to raise his fourth ODI half-century before being caught behind while attempting a slog sweep.

Williams, who hit nine fours and two sixes in his 87-ball knock, reached his fifty in 52 balls.

He was finally bowled by Karunaratne, who finished with three wickets including two in the final over, which ended with a six and four by Ngarava.

Scoreboard

ZIMBABWE

T. Kaitano lbw b Vandersay 42
R. Chakabva c Kusal b Vandersay 72
C. Ervine b Kamindu 9
S. Williams b Karunaratne 100
W. Madhevere b Karunaratne 20
S. Raza lbw b Pradeep 18
R. Burl c Shanaka b Pradeep 4
W. Masakadza run out (Karunaratne) 6
B. Muzarabani b Karunaratne 3
T. Chatara not out 1
R. Ngarava not out 10

EXTRAS (LB-2, W-8, NB-1) 11
TOTAL (for nine wickets, 50 overs) 296
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-80 (Kaitano), 2-110 (Ervine), 3-160 (Chakabva), 4-202 (Madhevere), 5-248 (Raza), 6-252 (Burl), 7-269 (Masakadza), 8-285 (Williams), 9-286 (Muzarabani).
BOWLING: Pradeep 10-1-54-2 (1nb, 1w), Gunasekara 1-0-8-0, Theekshana 10-0-40-0, Shanaka 4-0-34-0 (2w), Karunaratne 10-1-69-3 (1w), Vandersay 6-0-44-2 (1w), Kamindu 6-0-32-1 (1w), Asalanka 3-0-13-0.

SRI LANKA

P. Nissanka c Chakabva b Raza 75
Kusal Mendis c Chakabva b Muzarabani 26
Kamindu Mendis b Ngarava 17
D. Chandimal c Ervine b Ngarava 75
C. Asalanka lbw b Ngarava 71
D. Shanaka not out 10
C. Karunaratne not out 5

EXTRAS (B-4, LB-2, W-14, NB-1) 21
TOTAL (for five wickets, 48.4 overs) 300
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-40 (Kusal Mendis), 2-81 (Kamindu Mendis), 3-147 (Nissanka), 4-276 (Chandimal), 5-292 (Asalanka)
DID NOT BAT: J. Vandersay, M. Theekshana, C. Gunasekara, N. Pradeep
BOWLING: Muzarabani 9.4-0-57-1 (w2, 1nb), Chatara 9-0-56-0 (2w), Ngarava 9-0-56-3 (8w), Masakadza 6-0-29-0 (2w), Burl 1-0-12-0, Williams 8-0-43-0, Raza 4-0-23-1, Madhevere 2-0-17-0.

RESULT: Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets.
SERIES: Sri Lanka lead the three-match series 1-0.
UMPIRES: Kumar Dharmasena and Lyndon Hannibal (Both Sri Lanka).
TV UMPIRE: Raveendra Wimalasiri (Sri Lanka).
MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669907/sri-lanka-beat-zimbabwe-by-five-wickets-in-first-odi
Australian Open ready to go after Djokovic saga

Australian Open ready to go after Djokovic saga

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30590924

MELBOURNE: An extraordinary Australian Open dogged by unprecedented controversy and confusion finally gets under way on Monday -— without defending champion Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian world number one’s decision not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 sparked a saga which dragged through the courts and culminated in him facing deportation on Sunday.

“I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love,” said Djokovic, 34, after his fellow players had complained about just that.

“I would like to wish the players, tournament officials, staff, volunteers and fans all the best for the tournament.”

It halted, for now, his dream of becoming the first man to win 21 Grand Slam titles.

That opportunity is now solely in the hands in Melbourne of rival Rafael Nadal, even if Djokovic’s shadow will continue to loom large over the first major of the year.

Fellow 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer is injured and not in Australia.

The 35-year-old Spaniard Nadal won the warm-up Melbourne Summer Set title on his return from a long injury lay-off and being “very sick” with Covid-19 last month.

“The main thing is to be back. I am enjoying that fact. I’m excited about playing again in a Grand Slam here in Australia,” said Nadal, who has only won the title at Melbourne Park once, in 2009.

“I’m just enjoying the practices and being back and feeling myself again a professional tennis player. I’m playing some good tennis.”

After recent events, the players will just be glad to get on with the tennis.

Nadal, who was on course to face fellow great Djokovic in the semi-finals, said: “The Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him.”

Nadal, who faces American Marcos Giron in the first round on Monday, is seeded six this year and in the same quarter of the draw as world number three Alexander Zverev.

With Djokovic out, world number two Daniil Medvedev — last year’s Melbourne finalist who won his first major crown at the US Open in September — will start as favourite.

“I’m feeling much more confident than last year in terms of knowing my game, what I’m capable of,” he warned ahead of his opening match against Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen on Tuesday.

Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev round out the top six with 150th-ranked Salvatore Caruso of Italy the so-called ‘lucky loser’ selected to take Djokovic’s place in the draw.

World number one Ashleigh Barty is the hot favourite on the women’s side to break through and win a Grand Slam on home soil for the first time.

With American great Serena Williams missing through injury, defending champion Naomi Osaka could be her main threat, although with the Japanese seeded 13 they would meet before the final.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Barty capped a perfect preparation by convincingly winning the Adelaide International, her first tournament since the US Open, and said she was “chomping at the bit”.

“I can’t do any more than try, that’s all I can do,” she said ahead of her Monday evening clash with qualifier Lesia Tsurenko. “For me it’s about still going out there and trying to play my brand of tennis.”

Osaka also played her first event since Flushing Meadows in the lead-up in Australia, but pulled out of her Melbourne Summer Set semi-final complaining that her body “got a shock” from the three matches she contested.

She will test her fitness again on Monday against Camila Osorio of Colombia.

Like Barty, two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep is also in form, winning the Melbourne Summer Set as she returns from a truncated 2021 season plagued by calf and knee injuries.

Spain’s Paula Badosa and American Madison Keys also won pre-Open events, but world number two Aryna Sabalenka is in crisis, self-destructing early at two warm-up tournaments where her serve deserted her.

Garbine Muguruza, Barbora Krejcikova, Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit are all also considered contenders.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669924/australian-open-ready-to-go-after-djokovic-saga
Djokovic flies out of Australia after losing deportation appeal

Djokovic flies out of Australia after losing deportation appeal

17/01/2022, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30590590

Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic flew out of Australia on Sunday after a court upheld the government's decision to cancel his visa, capping days of drama over the country's Covid-19 entry rules and his unvaccinated status.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge Federal Court bench dealt a final blow to Djokovic's hopes of chasing a record 21st Grand Slam win at the Australian Open that starts on Monday.

The Serbian player went to the airport in Melbourne just hours later. Federal agents escorted him and his team from the business lounge to the gate, where he boarded an Emirates flight bound for Dubai. The flight took off shortly before 11pm (1200 GMT).

In a rollercoaster ride, the world's top men's player was first detained by immigration authorities on Jan 6, ordered released by a court on Jan 10 and then detained on Saturday again pending Sunday's court hearing.

Djokovic said after the ruling he was extremely disappointed as it meant he could not take part in the tournament.

“I respect the Courts ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he said in a statement and wished the tournament well.

Djokovic, 34, had appealed against Immigration Minister Alex Hawke's use of discretionary powers to cancel his visa.

Read more: Australia cancels Novak Djokovic's visa again

The minister had said Djokovic could be a threat to public order because his presence would encourage anti-vaccination sentiment amidst Australia's worst coronavirus outbreak.

Chief Justice James Allsop said the court ruling was based on the lawfulness and legality of the minister's decision in the context of the three grounds of appeal Djokovic's legal team lodged.

“It is no part of the function of the court to decide upon the merits or wisdom of the decision,” Allsop said, adding that the three judges were unanimous in their ruling. Full reasoning behind the ruling would be released in the coming days, he said.

Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight, after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Melbourne on Sunday. — Reuters
Novak Djokovic walks in Melbourne Airport before boarding a flight, after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa to play in the Australian Open, in Melbourne on Sunday. — Reuters

It was not immediately clear when Djokovic would leave the country.

'Keep borders strong'

The player's visa saga has dominated headlines around the world and fuelled a debate over the rights of people who opt to remain unvaccinated as governments take measures to protect their people from the two-year coronavirus pandemic.

The controversy became a political touchstone for Prime Minister Scott Morrison as he prepares for an election due by May. His government has faced criticism for its handling of Djokovic's visa application.

Morrison welcomed the court's ruling, saying the decision will help “keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe.”

“It's now time to get on with the Australian Open and get back to enjoying tennis over the summer,” he said in a statement.

Djokovic had been granted a visa to enter Australia, with a Covid-19 infection on Dec. 16 providing the basis for a medical exemption from Australia's requirements that all visitors be vaccinated.

The exemption was organised through Tennis Australia.

That exemption prompted widespread anger in Australia, which has undergone some of the world's toughest Covid-19 lockdowns and where more than 90% of adults are vaccinated.

The government said recent infection alone did not meet its standards for an exemption.

Weeping fans

But the player also had some support, especially in his native Serbia and from Serbians living in Australia.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Sunday, “I think that the court decision is scandalous, I am disappointed, I think it demonstrated how the rule of law is functioning or better to say not functioning in some other countries.”

Supporter of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic listen to the court hearing, as Djokovic attends a hearing at the offices of his legal team, after his visa to play in the Australian Open was cancelled a second time and he was placed back in immigration detention, in Melbourne on Jan 16, 2022.  — Reuters
Supporter of Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic listen to the court hearing, as Djokovic attends a hearing at the offices of his legal team, after his visa to play in the Australian Open was cancelled a second time and he was placed back in immigration detention, in Melbourne on Jan 16, 2022. — Reuters

In Melbourne, around 70 Djokovic fans, including young children, sang folk songs and chanted in the Federal Court plaza while they waited for the courts ruling.

They gathered around a loudspeaker to hear the judge reading out the decision, but it took several minutes after the court adjourned before they worked out that Djokovic had lost.

Two women were weeping, while others started up chants for a short while before the crowd dispersed.

“What they did today is everything except justice, said Natasha Marjnovic, 44, a Djokovic supporter who was wiping away tears.

“They killed a beautiful sportsman and his career and for all of us who love tennis.” In Serbia, people have vented their anger at the treatment of their sporting hero.

President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday criticised Australia's government for what he called the “harassing and bullying (of) ... the best tennis player ever.” Vucic said on Sunday he had spoken to the player after the court decision.

“I told him we cannot wait to see him,” he told reporters.

“I told him he is always welcome in Serbia.” The men's tennis governing body ATP said “today's decision to uphold Novak Djokovic's Australian visa cancellation marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events”.

It added in a statement that decisions of legal authorities regarding public health must be respected.

Tennis Australia said it respected the decision.

On the tennis circuit, fellow players had become impatient for the media circus around Djokovic to end as it had become an unwelcome distraction, casting uncertainty over the draw for the tournament.

But several voiced sympathy for Djokovic following his legal defeat.

“There was a political agenda at play here with the elections coming up which couldn't be more obvious,” Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian tennis player, said on Twitter.

“This is not his fault.”



https://www.dawn.com/news/1669786/djokovic-flies-out-of-australia-after-losing-deportation-appeal
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