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15

Saudi Gazette, Friday, February 23, 2018

Svitolina seals semis

De Gea shuts

out Sevilla

Sock, Isner and Raonic upset

US ends 20-year hockey drought

Real beats

Leganes

DUBAI —

Elina Svitolina edged closer

to defending the second title of

her career as the Ukrainian held

off Japan’s Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-4

Thursday for a semifinal place at

the Dubai Championships.

Top-seeded holder Svitolina

also ended a run of two 2016 losses

to Osaka, ranked 48th, who beat

eighth seed Kristina Mladenovic in

the first round at the Aviation Club.

Osaka was the first Japanese

quarter-finalist at the event since

2004.

“I had a couple of tough match-

es against her. I had to be ready for

her to come back,” Svitolina said.

“I had to be ready for her to raise

her level.”

Svitolina, looking for her 11th

career WTA trophy, was coming off

an opening challenge less than 24

hours earlier when she beat Chinese

lucky loser Wang Qiang.

The world No. 4 took com-

manding control of the opening set

against Osaka, stamping her author-

ity on the session with a 5-0 lead.

After claiming the first set,

Svitolina faded slightly, with Osaka

breaking in the second game and

reaching a 4-1 lead before slowly

being reeled in.

Svitolina broke back for 3-4,

added an insurance break for 5-4

and closed out the win on a net

cord in her favor on first match

point.

“Definitely I’m happy the way

I’ve been handling the pressure and

tough moments,” she said.

“I had two good matches. I can-

not say it was amazing tennis, but

when I needed to I was stepping up

and playing well.

“I just stayed in the moment, I

was fighting, waiting for my oppor-

tunity, trying to earn opportunities.

“This was pretty much it - she

gave me a chance and I took it. This

was the key.”

— AFP

SEVILLE —

Manchester United

goalkeeper David de Gea added

another heart-stopping save to

his collection as his team held a

highly-impressive Sevilla side to

a 0-0 draw away from home in

the first leg of their Champions

League last-16 tie Wednesday.

The Spain international

foiled Colombian striker Luis

Muriel from point-blank range at

the end of the first half not long

after tipping over an overhead

kick from Argentine defender

Gabriel Mercado as the Span-

iards created far more chances

than Jose Mourinho’s side.

Shakhtar Donetsk’s South

American blend proved too

strong for AS Roma as goals

from Facundo Ferreyra and Fred

gave them a 2-1 win in a Cham-

pions League tie played in freez-

ing conditions.

United forward Romelu Lu-

kaku spurned a rare clear open-

ing in the first period when he

punted a pass from Alexis San-

chez well over the bar and the

Belgian had a goal ruled out for

handball late in the second.

Sevilla fired 25 shots at De

Gea’s goal while United only had

six attempts, only one of which

was on target.

United coach Jose Mourinho,

however, said he did not feel his

side had been fortunate to leave

Spain with the tie still wide open.

The second leg takes place at

Old Trafford on March 13, where

United will be looking to reach

the last eight of the competition

for the first time since 2014, with

Sevilla hoping finally to get past

the last-16 barrier it has failed to

overcome in three previous at-

tempts.

Mourinho’s relationship with

Paul Pogba was left open to more

scrutiny when the Portuguese

left his record signing out of

the starting lineup, although he

threw on the France midfielder

when Ander Herrera pulled up

injured early in the game.

Pogba did not manage to

answer his many recent critics,

who have questioned his influ-

ence over the last two months.

He was unable to engineer many

attacks and sent a long, hopeful

shot well wide of goal in the sec-

ond half.

United’s latest high-profile

signing, Alexis Sanchez, also

had a night to forget in his first

European game for the club since

joining from Arsenal in January

as he saw little of the ball and

was hauled off for Marcus Rash-

ford in the 75th minute.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine, the Se-

rie A team Roma appeared to be

coasting in the round-of-16 first-

leg tie when Cengiz Under put

them ahead with his fifth goal in

four games four minutes before

halftime.

Yet as the temperature dipped

toward minus-nine Celsius, Ar-

gentine striker Ferreyra took ad-

vantage of poor Roma defending

to score with an expertly-taken

goal in the 52nd minute.

That turned the game on its

head and it was no surprise when

Brazilian midfielder Fred curled

in a free kick off the underside of

the crossbar to stun the visitors

in the 71st minute.

“The team performed well in

the second half,” said Shakhtar’s

Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca,

whose side reached the knockout

stage at the expense of Roma’s

fellow Italians Napoli.

“It wasn’t easy to keep up

that pace after a long winter

break. The only reason we didn’t

win by a bigger margin was a

brilliant display from the Roma

keeper.”

— Reuters

DELRAY BEACH —

Top seed Jack

Sock was “served off the court”

while John Isner and Milos

Raonic also exited on a day of

upsets at the Delray Beach Open

in Florida Wednesday.

Two months after clinching

his first Masters 1000 title in

Paris, Sock was in less stellar

form, beaten 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 by fel-

low American Reilly Opelka 4-6,

7-5, 6-3 in the second round.

The 6-foot-11-inch Opelka

used his height and power to

fire down 17 aces, though the

20-year-old was not really happy

with his biggest weapon.

“I didn’t serve as well as I’d

have liked to or as well as I usu-

ally do,” the world number 228

said after the biggest win of his

career.

“I was really pleased with

how I played from the baseline

though. I thought I hit my fore-

hand great and made it really

tough for him to be offensive,

which is his game.”

Isner came out on the wrong

end of three consecutive tie-

breaks against German Peter Go-

jowczyk, who prevailed 7-6(3),

6-7(4), 7-6(5).

Thirty aces were not enough

for Isner in a match that did not

feature a service break.

Raonic was beaten more

comprehensively, outplayed 6-2,

6-4 by American Steve Johnson,

who earned his first ever victory

over the Canadian.

Raonic was nonplussed by

his own performance.

“I’ve got to definitely review

it, think about it, because that

was a pretty poor level I put out

there today,” he said.

“Not much to be happy with.

I had a tough time with a lot of

things today.”

Johnson, who next faces

Russian Evgeny Donskoy, a 7-6

(8/6), 6-3 winner over American

Donald Young.

“The first set kind of got

away from him with a second

break so that is always comfort-

able,” Johnson said.

Second-seeded Juan Martin

del Potro will try to book his

quarterfinal berth on Thursday,

taking on American Frances Tia-

foe. Eighth-seeded Chung Hyeon

of South Korea faces Croatian

qualifier Franko Skugor for a

place in the last eight.

Rain suspends play

Frenchman Gael Monfils led

top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croa-

tia 6-3 and was tied 7-7 in a sec-

ond-set tiebreaker when heavy

rain suspended play Wednesday

night in the Rio Open.

In other second-round match-

es in the clay-court event, Chile’s

Nicolas Jarry beat fourth-seeded

Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain

7-5, 6-3, and sixth-seeded Diego

Schwartzman topped Argentine

countryman Federico Delbonis

6-2, 6-3.

Pouille beats Herbert

Third-seeded Lucas Pouille

advanced to the Open 13 quar-

terfinals after rallying from a

set and 3-0 down to beat Pierre-

Hugues Herbert 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4

Wednesday.

He withstood 15 aces from

Herbert, with both French play-

ers dropping serve twice. Pouille,

who recently won the Open Sud

de France in Montpellier for a

fifth career title, made the crucial

beak in the ninth game of the

deciding set and then served out

the match. He next faces either

countryman Gilles Simon or Ser-

bia’s Filip Krajinovic.

There was an upset in

Wednesday’s other second-round

match as 36-year-old Frenchman

Julien Benneteau won 7-6 (2),

7-6 (5) against fifth-seeded Span-

iard Roberto Bautista Agut.

Second-seeded Stan Waw-

rinka of Switzerland and fourth-

seeded Czech Tomas Berdcyh

will play their second-round

matches on Thursday.

In other first-round matches,

No. 6 Gilles Muller of Luxem-

bourg had 15 aces in a 7-5, 6-3

win against Ukrainian Sergiy

Stakhovsky; Mischa Zverev of

Germany beat Blaz Kavcic of

Slovenia 6-4, 6-4, and French

veteran Nicolas Mahut won 7-5,

7-6 (4) against 19-year-old Greek

Stefanos Tsitsipas.

— Agencies

PYEONGCHANG —

America’s

women broke an ice hockey gold

medal drought stretching back

20 years Thursday as a Russian

curler admitted doping and was

stripped of bronze at the Py-

eongchang Winter Olympics.

American skier Mikaela Shif-

frin was denied gold in the wom-

en’s combined, while veteran

teammate Lindsey Vonn bombed

out of the same event, in a sad

end to her Olympic career.

In the ice hockey, USA edged

fierce rival Canada 3-2 on pen-

alties, celebrating ecstatically

when goaltender Maddie Rooney

saved the decisive attempt from

Canada’s Meghan Agosta.

America’s win torpedoed a

24-game Olympic win streak for

Canada, the four-time defending

champion. It also edged USA

12-11 ahead over its fierce rivals

in Olympic and world titles.

Away from the competition,

Russia’s Alexander Krush-

elnitsky was stripped of his

mixed doubles curling bronze

medal after testing positive

for meldonium, an endurance

booster.

The 25-year-old was one of

168 Russian athletes who passed

rigorous testing to compete as

neutrals in Pyeongchang, after

Russia was banned over a major

doping scandal.

In skiing, Shiffrin was re-

stricted to second place in the

women’s combined, meaning she

ends the Games with one gold

and one silver — a far cry from

the potential five titles she had

targeted.

Vonn, 33 and competing at

her last Olympics, led the com-

bined after the downhill race, but

she only lasted a couple of gates

in the slalom before skiing out.

Austria’s Hirscher, seek-

ing his third gold medal in Py-

eongchang, crashed out in the

morning run and Kristoffersen

of Norway followed suit in the

afternoon, leaving the stunned

Myhrer to top the podium.

In the men’s ski halfpipe,

American defending champion

David Wise kept his nerve de-

spite crashing out of his first two

runs to seal victory on the final

attempt.

Wise, 27, twice lost a ski on

his first two runs but he recov-

ered to notch up a scintillating

97.2 on his last attempt and lead

a USA one-two ahead of Alex

Ferreira.

Among the evening events,

South Korea’s teenage short-

track speed skater Choi Min-

jeong suffered heartbreak as she

crashed out of her final event, the

women’s 1,000m.

Choi, winner of the 1,500m

and 3,000m relay, clipped the

blades of teammate Shim Suk-

hee in the final lap, sending both

skaters hurtling into the side

padding.

That left Suzanne Schulting

of the Netherlands to claim gold,

with Canada’s Kim Boutin tak-

ing silver and Arianna Fontana of

Italy the bronze.

Then in the men’s 500m,

South Korea had to settle for

second and third in the shadow

of China’s Wu Dajing, who set a

new world record.

The silver medalist from

Sochi 2014 clocked the fastest

ever time in his quarterfinal, and

lowered that with 39.584sec in

the final.

South Korea’s Hwang Dae-

heon finished second, with his

compatriot Lim Hyo-jun taking

bronze.

In the men’s 5,000m relay,

South Korea was knocked out of

contention halfway through the

race after a fall left them three-

quarters of a lap adrift.

Further ahead there was no

stopping Hungary, who held off

China with Canada taking bronze

to claim their first Winter Olym-

pics gold, and first medal of any

colour since 1980.

Hungary — Csaba Burjan,

Victor Knoch, Shaoang Liu and

his older brother, Sandor Liu

Shaolin — did it in style, setting

a new Olympic record of 6min

34.510sec.

— Agencies

MADRID—

Real Madrid overcame

the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo

and other regular starters Wednes-

day, coming from behind to defeat

Leganes 3-1 Wednesday in a Span-

ish league match postponed from

last year.

The result allowed the defend-

ing champion to regain third place

from Valencia, but it did little to

put Zinedine Zidane’s team back

in the title race as it still trails lead-

er Barcelona by 14 points after 24

matches. Madrid is seven points

behind second-place Atletico Ma-

drid.

“We will keep trying to move

up, it’s important to keep our mo-

mentum,” Zidane said. “We got

back to third place and now we

will try to reach second place.”

Less than a month ago, Lega-

nes jolted Madrid into a crisis by

eliminating the Spanish power-

house from the quarterfinals of the

Copa del Rey.

The hosts from southern Ma-

drid went ahead less than 10 min-

utes into the match on Wednesday,

but Madrid answered with first-

half goals by Lucas Vazquez and

Casemiro. Sergio Ramos sealed

the victory by converting a 90th-

minute penalty kick.

The league match was re-

scheduled from the 16th round

because of Madrid’s participation

in the Club World Cup in Decem-

ber, a competition it won.

Only in its second season in

the first division, Leganes had a

promising start to the campaign

but has struggled recently. It hasn’t

won in six matches and has lost

four straight, dropping to 13th with

29 points.

Madrid has won four in a

row, including 3-1 against Paris

Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the

Champions League last week.

Ronaldo, who scored twice

against PSG and has 10 goals in

his last six matches, was rested

Wednesday along with goalkeeper

Keylor Navas. Marcelo, Tony

Kroos and Luka Modric are trying

to recover from injuries in time for

next month’s return match against

PSG in Paris.

—AP

Elina Svitolina

Manchester United’s goalkeeper David De Gea makes a save from Sevilla’s Luis Muriel during their

Champions League match at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville, Wednesday. — Reuters

Jack Sock

The US women’s ice hockey team poses with gold medals after the medal ceremony at the Pyeongchang 2018

Winter Olympic Games Thursday. — AFP

Shakhtar leads Roma 2-1