Latest – French Open organisers say Novak Djokovic is allowed to defend his title as the tournament prepares to stage what is expected to be the first Grand Slam without any COVID-19 related restrictions since the pandemic broke two years ago.
France has lifted restrictions in almost all public spaces – except hospitals, nursing homes and public transports, meaning the Roland Garros stadium should be operating at full capacity with Djokovic taking to the red clay courts.
“As things stand, nothing stands in the way of Djokovic taking part in the French Open,” tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner was unable to defend his Australian Open title in January after being deported from the country in a furore after being initially admitted to the tournament despite not being vaccinated against coronavirus.
The 34-year-old is also out of this month’s ATP 1000 tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami, unable to enter the United States without a proof of vaccination.
While that is not required to enter France or any sporting event in the country, French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton warned that things could change before the tournament starts on May 22.
NZ SailGP round confirmed
The inaugural New Zealand round of SailGP will take place in Christchurch in March 2023.
New Zealand SailGP Team co-helmed by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Photo: Bob Martin for SailGP
The event will be held in Lyttelton Harbour on the 18th and 19th of March.
It is the first of a four year commitment to have the high speed foling catamarans in Christchurch and Auckland.
New Zealand SailGP Team co-CEO Blair Tuke said.
“Knowing we’ll be racing on home waters in March adds an extra element of excitement and determination. New Zealanders have always been keen sailors and supporters, and we can’t wait to have that Kiwi energy and hype right there on the water’s edge.”
Ten teams representing their nations will contest nine events in season three which starts in Bermuda in May and finishes in the US in May next year.
England back in the hunt
England breathed life into their World Cup defence with a four-wicket hammering of India in Mount Maunganui.
Amy Jones Photo: PHOTOSPORT
The holders were transformed from the team riddled with errors in three previous defeats, taking every catch and nailing two direct-hit run-outs to bowl India out for 134.
Off-spinner Charlie Dean, in just her second World Cup match, claimed 4-23 while Anya Shrubsole became only the sixth England woman to reach 100 one-day international wickets in her 2-20.
In a nervy start to the chase, England were reduced to 4-2 and Nat Sciver survived the ball hitting her stumps without the bails coming off.
Sciver went on to make 45, while captain Heather Knight ended unbeaten on 53 as the victory was completed with more than 18 overs to spare.
In registering their first win, England move up to sixth in the table, only two points behind third-placed India, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals.
However, they cannot afford another slip-up and face another must-win situation when they meet hosts New Zealand in Auckland on Sunday.
Pakistan hold on for a draw
Skipper Babar Azam produced a career-best 196 under immense pressure as Pakistan snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat in the second test against Australia in Karachi.
Chasing a record 506 for an improbable win, Pakistan’s best bet was to bat out the final day and Babar led by example as they finished on 443-7, the sixth highest fourth innings total of all time.
Babar’s knock, which included 21 fours and a six, will be an inspiration for his team heading into the third and final test in Lahore on Monday.
The hosts were on the back foot after folding for 148 in reply to Australia’s massive first innings total of 556-9 at the National Stadium.
The record victory target was never within Pakistan’s reach but Babar’s marathon 228-run partnership with opener Abdullah Shafique (96) kept them afloat in the contest.
Nathan Lyon (4-112) injected fresh drama in the final session dismissing Babar and Faheem Ashraf with successive deliveries but Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 104 helped Pakistan salvage a draw.
The opening test in Rawalpindi had also ended in a draw.
Grand Slams introduce 10-point tie breaks
All four tennis Grand Slams will use a 10-point final set tie-break on a trial basis, starting from the French Open in May.
The move, which will be tested out over the next 12 months, will see a tie-break commence if the score reaches six games all in the final set.
Roland Garros is the only major that does not have a final set tie-break.
The Grand Slam Board said the change would ensure “greater consistency” and “enhance the experience for the players and fans alike”.
Under the new rules, the winner will be the first player to win 10 points with an advantage of two or more points.
It will apply in singles and doubles competitions at all four majors, as well as qualifying, wheelchair and junior events.
The Australian Open is the only Slam to currently use the 10-point decider, but all the other Slams will now follow suit.
United investigate bottle throwers
Manchester United are identifying fans who threw objects at Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone after their Champions League match, with those guilty facing a three-year ban.
Simeone sprinted towards the tunnel soon after Atletico beat United 1-0 to advance to the quarter-finals with a 2-1 aggregate victory, with several bottles and objects thrown from the stands missing the Argentine coach by inches.
“We are reviewing CCTV footage to identify those responsible for throwing bottles. Throwing of any objects towards the field of play is against ground regulations and subject to a three-year ban,” a club spokesperson said.
United could face punishment from European football governing body UEFA, with the incident likely to feature in the match delegate’s report on the game.
The result thwarted United’s hopes of ending a five-year trophy drought, meaning they are on their longest run without silverware since the period between FA Cup wins in 1977 and 1983.
Cubs keen on Chelsea
The owners of U.S. baseball team the Chicago Cubs have teamed up with Citadel founder Ken Griffin to work on a bid to buy English Premier League football club Chelsea.
Aroldis Chapman of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with teammates after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: AFP
The Cubs’ owners, the Ricketts family, and Griffin have formed an investment group which is set to make a formal offer for the London club later this week.
Reuters has been told the bid does not involve Citadel, the hedge fund business, only Griffin.
Chelsea were initially put up for sale by its owner Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before sanctions were imposed on the Russian oligarch by the British government.
The European champions are currently operating under a special licence and are now effectively controlled by the British government.
Abramovich’s investment resulted in the most successful era in their history as they won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the Champions League twice.
The club are third in the league standings — 11 points behind leaders Manchester City — while they are set to play Lille in the Champions League last-16 second leg later on Wednesday.
Ricciardo fit to drive
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo will be fit for this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix after recovering from COVID-19.
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo. Photo: Photosport/Actionplus
The 32-year-old Australian tested positive last week and was unable to participate in three days of pre-season testing in the Gulf kingdom.
Rivals Alpine had offered McLaren their Australian reserve driver Oscar Piastri as a stand-in should Ricciardo have been unable to race.
Practice for the opening race at Sakhir is on Friday and Ricciardo will go into it without having driven the car since Barcelona on Feb. 24.
Bahrain is something of a home race for McLaren, with the team majority owned by the Gulf kingdom’s sovereign investment fund Mumtalakat. Ricciardo finished seventh last year with team mate Lando Norris fourth.