Defending champion Novak Djokovic defied a mid-match slump to reach the Wimbledon final with a four-set victory over Roberto Bautista Agut.
In an agitated display, the Serb beat Spain’s Bautista Agut 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-2 to reach his 25th Grand Slam final.
Djokovic, chasing his fifth Wimbledon title, will face Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal in the final on Sunday.
“This has been the dream tournament for me since I was a child,” said 32-year-old Djokovic.
“So to be in another final is a dream come true. Regardless of the history and many finals I’ve played, playing finals at Wimbledon is something different so I’ll definitely enjoy that experience.
“I had to dig deep. It’s the semi-finals and Roberto was playing his first Grand Slam semi-final. He was not overwhelmed.
“He played really well. He was managing his nerves in the first set but later on he established himself and started to play better.
“I got a bit tight. It was a close opening four or five games of the third set – that’s where the match could have gone a different way. I’m glad it went my way.”
Asked if he would be watching the second semi-final between Federer and Nadal, 15-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic said: “Of course I will watch it – my coaches will probably see the whole match. I’ll definitely see parts of it.
“I’m a fan of that match-up as well. Federer v Nadal is one of the most epic rivalries of all time.”
Bautista Agut – who had been expecting to be in Ibiza for his stag do on Friday – had won both of his ties with Djokovic in 2019, in Doha and Miami, yet this was to be their first meeting on grass.
But he showed little sign of troubling Djokovic in the first set, having his opening service game broken as Djokovic steamrolled his way into a 3-0 lead.
Looking cool, calm and in control, the world number one broke Bautista Agut again at set point, hitting 12 winners and three aces in a 36-minute set.
But Djokovic looked unsettled in a second set in which he changed his racquet on numerous occasions, falling to an early break from which he didn’t recover, reports the BBC.
He hit 13 unforced errors as Bautista Agut twice held to love, serving out the set at the first opportunity with a little help from the net cord.
Djokovic grew more agitated in the third set, taking a swipe at the grass early on after skewing a return, but he found the composure needed to go a break up midway through.
Ending a 45-shot rally with a backhand winner allowed Djokovic to hold the following game, in which Bautista Agut had held two break points, before serving out the set.
Djokovic spurned three break points in the opening game of the fourth set, ramming his finger into his head while looking towards his box as his frustrations got the better of him.
Bruce appointment: Wednesday report Newcastle to Premier League
Newcastle have been reported to the Premier League by Sheffield Wednesday over the appointment of Steve Bruce.
Bruce was named as Rafael Benitez’s successor last Wednesday, two days after he resigned as manager of the Owls.
Wednesday released a statement to say they were disappointed to learn of Bruce’s appointment via Newcastle’s public statement, claiming there were legal issues to be resolved.
Late on Monday night, the club released another statement. It said: “Following Newcastle United’s announcement on 17 July 2019 of its appointment of former Sheffield Wednesday staff Steve Bruce, Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, the Club confirms that it has today reported Newcastle United’s conduct to the Premier League.
“As the Premier League will now initiate and carry out investigations into the Club’s allegations, the Club will not be commenting further on this matter whilst such investigations are ongoing.”
Bruce was only in charge of Wednesday for 18 games after he began work in February following Jos Luhukay’s sacking, reports Sky Sports.
Following his appointment on Tyneside, he travelled to China to oversee Newcastle’s third-place victory over West Ham in the PL Asia trophy.
CAF crisis: Pinnick ready to unseat Ahmad in 2021
- NFF boss rallies progressives in Congress
The end has not been heard of the feud between the President of the Confederation of African Football Ahmad Ahmad and his former ally Amaju Pinnick as the Nigeria Football Federation boss is set to run against the Malagasy for the top position at the next elective Congress of the continental body.
The cold war between the two snowballed into big feud when Ahmad removed Pinnick as CAF 1st vice president at their Congress last Thursday in Cairo, Egypt.
Although it is the prerogative of CAF president to appoint his deputy, the action has caused big fraction within the soccer body and Pinnick now leads a growing population of disgruntled members of the confederation.
Pinnick was one of the younger elements that removed erstwhile CAF president Issa Hayatou and worked assiduously for the enthronement of Ahmad.
The Nigerian federation boss was so influential in football circle on the continent, getting all his proposals endorsed by Ahmad until the two fell out.
Sources close to the Nigerian said Pinnick was so embittered with the way he was booted out of influence in CAF and had vowed to bounce back in a manner that would engineer another change at the leadership of the continental body.
Ahmad, within the space of three months, sacked CAF secretary general, finance director and his vice president. He also kicked out other members of the team that enthroned him including Musa Bility who is the president of Liberia FA.
Several other members of the congress are believed to be embittered by the happenings in CAF but are afraid of being victimized by a power-hungry bloc but are ready to queue behind any efforts that will ensure the removal of the current administration.
Our sources said Pinnick was ready to appeal to those elements in a bid to take over the control of CAF from Ahmad.
“Pinnick’s sin was that he constantly tackled his boss on a number of issues that may affect the game on the continent and Ahmad did not want to take more of that,” the source told our correspondent.
“We were on the same plane to Nigeria from Egypt last Friday; the day of the final of the Nations Cup and I realized that the NFF boss meant well for African football and was unhappy the gains of the change he masterminded has now been eroded by highhandedness, maladministration and corruption that has characterized the Ahmad’s style of leadership.
“The NFF boss has decided to fight; he said he would contest against Ahmad for the post of CAF president in 2021. This is not his own decision alone but that of very many well-meaning members of the CAF confraternity who are unhappy about the sliding fortune of African football which has culminated into the administration of the game being taken over by FIFA.”
Ikpeazu urges Chukwueze to invest wisely
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu on Monday welcomed dazzling the bronze winning Super Eagles of Nigeria younster, Samuel Chukwueze at the Government House in Umuahia.
Ikpeazu seized the opportunity to remind the flying winger that football is a very short career and urged him to invest his earnings wisely to ensure better tomorrow.
The 20-year-old Abia-born footballer paid a courtesy visit to the governor, to mark his return from the Total African Nations Cup 2019 in Egypt where he and his teammates won bronze medal for Nigeria.
Ikpeazu who congratulated the youngster for making himself, his family and the people of Abia State proud, advised him to avoid being misled by a momentary feeling of triumph but focus on building a career that will last long and become successful.
The Governor used Chukwueze as an example to urge other young Nigerians who are blessed with talents to remain humble and hardworking because “pride is the virus that destroys talent.”
In his words, “You are a young man with prodigious talent. But you must know that talent can showcase you but you need to work very hard to remain at the top. Talent is not enough to keep you at the very top of your game for too long.
“You must work extra hard. You must take your trainings seriously. You must be humble. You must respect your coaches and take their instructions seriously. If training is by 6pm, get there at 5. This is no longer your days at Umuahia.
“This is professional soccer, a career that has the potential of making you a multi millionaire. You must take if very seriously. You have all it takes to become the best player in the world. I have watched you play and I mean what I am saying.”
“The easiest way to destroy your career is to become proud of what you think you have achieved. Once pride sets in, you are finished. I have seen players…good players who had the world at their feet but pride didn’t allow them excel. Remain humble. Remember where you are coming from, your poor parents.”
Speaking further, Ikpeazu said, “One more area you must take very seriously is the area of managing your resources. Soccer brings a lot of money. You will earn millions in hard currency. How you manage the money will determine a lot in your life.
“Football career is like a flower that blossoms in the morning and withers in the evening. You cannot play football beyond a certain age. As a University teacher, I can remain at work till almost 70 but a footballer cannot.
“You must invest wisely in ventures that can guarantee you good returns. Employ good investment advisors. I have seen ex footballers who were very good and made lots of money but are begging for food today.
“Invest your money wisely my son and you will be happy for it. On behalf of the government and people of Abia State, we thank you for making us proud and welcome you back from Egypt and pray the good Lord to grant you a successful and injury free soccer career.”
Meanwhile, Chukwueze presented the Governor with his Super Eagles jersey, the bronze medal he won and the prize he won as the Man of the Match between the Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
A release by the Chief Press Secretary to Ikpeazu, Onyebuchi Ememanka however had it that the governor rewarded the Umuahia born youngster with some handsome cash.
Nigeria can win next AFCON title, says Amuneke
Former Super Eagles winger and Tanzania coach to the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Emmanuel Amuneke has said Nigeria had a good campaign at the championship and is backing the team to build further in a bid to compete for the title next time.
Amunike told journalists in an after the arrival of the team from Egypt over the weekend by highlighting the key areas the team can concentrate on to compete favourably next time.
“Our duty is to see how we can develop our football, how we can say that our players, regardless of their individual talents have the mind, capacity to develop the game in a tactical concept. We have a good team that can win the next AFCON ”
The former African footballer of the year noted that the Super Eagles have a young squad and believes the team can be built on the third-place finish and progress into a team that can compete in a subsequent competitions.
“We have young players and that is true but in football now, it’s not all about being young and old but about the capacity of your players to be able to do the right thing at all times,” Amunike said.
2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open: Players relish Lagos experience
Lagos has registered itself among the cities that is fans’ friendly. The city has now been regarded as the ‘Mecca of table tennis in Africa’ considering its huge fans presence whenever it hosts the annual Seamaster ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open.
From the few numbers of countries that featured in the 2014 edition, hundreds of players from 32 national associations are expected to converge in the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria – Lagos for the five-day tournament.
Among the players that had graced the tournament and are still eager to be part of its are Antoine Hachard of France, Mudit Dani of India and Sarah De Nutte of Luxembourg.
For Mudit Dani, the excitement in Lagos is incomparable.
“The crowd at the ITTF Challenge Plus Nigeria Open was the biggest highlight and difference between this event and other ones. Everyone was super energetic. Not only did they support Nigerian players, but it seemed like they came to support the game. It was a truly special feeling to play in Lagos. The crowds, their energy, the atmosphere is electric.
For Sarah De Nutte, the energy display by the Lagos fans has been awesome. “The atmosphere in Lagos is great; there are not many tournaments with that many spectators like in Lagos.”
I think it’s so nice to play there because the crowd is always fun and excited to see some table tennis matches and are always cheering the players, no matter where they are from,” said Sarah De Nutte.
Despite confirming his absence at this year’s tournament, Antoine Hachard would forever cherish every moment he spent in Lagos in 2018 as a finalist. “The atmosphere in Lagos was crazy, people are screaming for you, which are unusual and amazing. It is a special atmosphere as the fans are so involved and they want you (player) to fight until the end,” said the Frenchman.
Apart from the fans’ engagement in the sport, the organisations coupled with the Lagos hospitality were the high points for the visitors.
From Mudit Dani, “It is a very well organised event. The hotel and food are good, the hall is nice and always filled with energetic crowds and players are well cared for in terms of transport, lounge and security among others. My experience at the 2018 Nigeria Open was great! The crowd, playing conditions and hospitality were all perfect. Being my first ever senior pro tour event made it even more special. If I had to put it briefly, I hope to be back again this year because it was one of the most memorable weeks of my life,” said Mudit Dani.
Osimhen, Chukwueze eye future success with Eagles
Rising Nigerian stars Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze are targeting more success with the Super Eagles after picking up bronze medals at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
The duo featured in Nigeria’s U-17 World Cup win in 2015 and both appeared under Gernot Rohr at the AFCON, with Chukwueze particularly influential.
“When you pick up a medal in your first major tournament it is a positive sign of bigger things to come,” Chukwueze, who has played for his country at all levels, told BBC Sport.
“Not so many young players get the opportunity to be in the Nigeria squad and even get a chance to play.
“I know with our squad we are capable of winning this competition in the future, and I really want to be a part of that.”
Osimhen made just a solitary appearance at the finals in Egypt, but will be one of the contenders to wear Nigeria’s number 9 jersey following the retirement of Odion Ighalo from international football.
“Words are not enough to describe this feeling. I’m quite overwhelmed. We wanted the trophy, but this bronze medal is a sign that the future is bright and we are looking forward to it,” he told BBC Sport.
“I was looking forward to playing for my country, it’s a great feeling for me and my family. I thank the coach for the opportunity and I want to build on this.”
AFCON Fallout: Shorunmu tasks NFF to focus on domestic league
Former Super Eagles goal tender, Ike Shorunmu, has told the Nigeria Football Federation NFF to concentrate more on the country’s Nigeria Professional Football League if it wants to churn out a better senior national in future.
The former Stationery Stores and Shooting Stars goalkeeper said by doing so, the home-based players would have the opportunity for positions with the foreign-based ones.
Shorunmu said such system worked well in the days of Father Tiko and Clemens Westerhof when players were only release on weekend from the national team camp to play for their various clubs.
He said: “In most cases, they take whatever they learnt from the national camp to their clubsides at weekends. The national team was doing well that time because the players train together and easily found it easy to play well for the national team,” he said.
“We need to work more on our league, if our league is still the same the way we have been running before, things would have been better. When the foreign-based were invited to the camp, they believe they will just stroll into the camp and pick up jerseys.
“But if there is a competition for the home-based, they will know they need to fight for jerseys right from preparation.”
Speaking on the way forward for a better Super Eagles, Shorunmu said all that was needed by the coaching crew is knowing when to take professional risk like the Super Eagles team that conquered Africa back in 2013.
Liberia’s Bility heads to CAS over FIFA/CAF alliance
Liberia’s Musa Bility, a member of the Confederation of African Football’s Executive Committee, has said he will file a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Bility is unhappy with what he calls the ‘co-operation agreement’ between the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA.
In a statement he said he will file a case imminently seeking to have the agreement made “null and void with immediate effect”.
The recent agreement will see FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura work with CAF as a “General Delegate to Africa”.
It is a move where he hopes CAS “will give interim orders stopping the hostile takeover of CAF by FIFA and especially the decision to bring Fatma Samoura to head the CAF Secretariat.”
The controversial decision to bring in Samoura was given “almost unanimous” support by Caf’s Executive Committee according to the head of the Nigerian federation Amaju Pinnick.
Pinnick insisted that Samoura’s appointment would help “strengthen our judicial, governance and fiscal discipline”.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino attended the meeting and said he believed the plan would help “significantly improve” football on the continent.
Alleged rape: Ronaldo won’t face charges
Football star Cristiano Ronaldo will not face charges after being accused of sexual assault, US prosecutors say.
Football star Cristiano Ronaldo will not face charges after being accused of sexual assault, US prosecutors say.
She reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement with the Portuguese star in 2010, but sought to reopen the case in 2018. He denied the allegations.
In a statement on Monday, Las Vegas prosecutors said the claims could not “be proven beyond reasonable doubt”.
In a statement on Monday, Las Vegas prosecutors said the claims could not “be proven beyond reasonable doubt”.
German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, first published the story about the allegation last year.
It said that in 2010, she reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo involving a $375,000 (£288,000) payment for agreeing never to go public with the allegations.
Ms Mayorga’s lawyer said she had been inspired to speak out about the assault by the #MeToo movement.
FIFA’s CAF takeover plan set for court challenge
FIFA’s plan to take over the running of African football is set to face a possible roadblock with an Executive Committee member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) saying he will challenge the decision in court.
Hasan Bility, who is from Liberia and a CAF Executive Committee member for last two years, said he will ask the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport to declare invalid the agreement by which FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura will be sent on a secondment to overhaul the African governing body.
Bility said he also wants to ask the court to compel CAF to start a forensic audit of its finances, which he said the Executive Committee had previously agreed to but CAF President Ahmad Ahmad then stalled.
CAF is in crisis following corruption allegations against Ahmad which he has denied.
Ahmad was reported in March to FIFA’s Ethics Committee for alleged corruption and harassment by CAF General Secretary Amr Fahmy. Fahmy was then fired.
He was detained in June by French police in Paris where he was questioned over a sportswear deal between CAF and a French company in which the African body is said to have paid exorbitant prices for equipment it could have got much cheaper directly from the manufacturers.
In a statement released to the media on Monday, former Liberian Football Association President Bility said Ahmad must resign and the proposed FIFA takeover be cancelled, reports Reuters.
“In an attempt to salvage CAF from imminent implosion and irreversible reputational damage, FIFA proposed a poorly conceptualised and worse executed agreement,” Bility said.
“Logically, and in a sane world, the acquiescence by the CAF leadership that they have been unable to manage their own affairs ought to have been followed by quick resignation of its top leaders.
“It is clear to me and many others that the agreement as currently structured has the sole purpose of shielding and cleansing CAF President Ahmad from the crimes he has committed – financial impropriety, sexual harassment and nepotism.”
FIFA has confirmed there is an ethics investigation into Ahmad, although he was yet to be sanctioned.
Ahmad has not responded to Reuters’ requests for comment on the specific allegations against him.
Bility also claimed FIFA President Gianni Infantino has seized on the opportunity to get rid of his Secretary General.
“Infantino has thus seized this opportunity to offer Fatma a ‘golden parachute’ into a confederation job to pave the way for her eventual replacement at the helm of FIFA,” he said.
FIFA on Monday told Reuters it had no further comment to add to last week’s release of an 11-point road map to help African football.
Infantino claimed last week that the unprecedented move to step in and administer African football would “significantly improve” the sport in the continent.
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