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Manchester City eye autumn advantage over Liverpool

NEW YORK: Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the all-time leaders in Grand Slam titles, cruised into the fourth round of the US Open on Friday while 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori was ousted by Australian Alex de Minaur.Federer routed Britain’s 58th-ranked Dan Evans 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in only 80 minutes, blasting 48 winners to…

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Manchester City eye autumn advantage over Liverpool

NEW YORK: Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the all-time leaders in Grand Slam titles, cruised into the fourth round of the US Open on Friday while 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori was ousted by Australian Alex de Minaur.Federer routed Britain’s 58th-ranked Dan Evans 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in only 80 minutes, blasting 48 winners to just seven for Evans, whose effort was hampered by an 18-hour turnaround between matches.“I really enjoyed myself,” Federer said. “I was able to adjust and take care of business so it was good.”After dropping the first set in his first two matches, Federer was solid from start to finish.“What matters the most is that I’m in the third round after those two sort of slow starts,” Federer said. “I actually can go through three sets in a row playing really good tennis.”Evans blasted organizers for playing him first on limited rest after a rain-delayed match on Thursday while his 38-year-old Swiss rival, a 20-time Slam champion, rested after playing Wednesday under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.“I was fatigued,” Evans said. “I thought it was pretty tough I was first up after playing yesterday, if I’m being brutally honest, so it was a bit disappointing.“Just to try and beat him feeling tired, stiff, playing four sets yesterday, it’s near on impossible, but I actually thought he played pretty much no-error tennis.”Next up for Federer is Belgian 15th seed David Goffin.Williams continued her quest for a 24th career Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record by crushing 44th-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-2 in 74 minutes.“I had a lot of intensity today, which is really good for me,” said Williams, whose next opponent is Croatian 22nd seed Petra Martic.The 37-year-old American, six times a US Open champion, has been a runner-up in three of the past five Slams, falling to Naomi Osaka in last year’s US Open final.She last won a Slam crown at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant and hasn’t won the US Open title since 2014.Japanese seventh seed Nishikori was dispatched by the 20-year-old De Minaur 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. The Aussie, on his deepest Grand Slam run, will next face Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov or Polish lucky loser Kamil Majchrzak.“This is where I feel like my game’s at. I want to be pushing second weeks of Grand Slams and putting myself out there. So very happy,” De Minaur said. “Hopefully I can just keep it rolling.”It was the first victory over a top-10 foe in 12 tries for De Minaur, who squandered a two-set lead over 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic in last year’s Open third round.“I had a little bit of a thriller last year versus Cilic and was two sets to love up,” De Minaur said. “I was glad I could finally get the win.”Reigning French Open champion Ashleigh Barty, the Aussie second seed, and Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova, chasing her first Grand Slam title, also reached the last 16.Pliskova, the 2016 US Open runner-up, outlasted Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 while Barty dispatched Greek 30th seed Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3.“Physically it was quite a tough battle,” Pliskova said. “It was important to win so it doesn’t matter how I feel. So pleased to be through.”Pliskova will play British 16th seed Johanna Konta for a quarter-final spot while Barty, a possible Williams quarter-final foe, next meets Chinese 18th seed Wang Qiang.Barty and Pliskova are battling top-ranked defending champion Osaka to be world number one at the end of the Flushing Meadows fortnight.Barty has the inside track because Osaka has so many points to defend. The Japanese 21-year-old must win the title to have any chance at staying on top while Pliskova must reach at least the semifinals.Top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic, who has won four of the past five Slam titles and 16 overall, was set to play a night match against 111th-ranked American Denis Kudla, who has never beaten a top-10 rival in 10 tries.The 32-year-old Serbian, a three-time US Open winner, has been no worse than a US Open semifinalist since a third-round exit in 2006.Should Djokovic win, he will face three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round. The Swiss 23rd seed eliminated Italian lucky loser Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 7-6 (11/9), 7-6 (7/4).

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Pliskova survives scare at French Open

Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world…

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Pliskova survives scare at French Open

Karolina Pliskova reached the Italian Open final earlier in SeptemberCzech second seed Karolina Pliskova came from a set down to avoid an upset against Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the French Open first round.World number four Pliskova, 28, had eight set points in the opener, before losing to Sherif – ranked 172nd in the world – in a tie-break.The 2017 semi-finalist wrapped up a quick second set against the 24-year-old after winning four games in a row.Pliskova came through a tense decider to claim a 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4 victory.”It was super tough,” she said. “Especially after losing the first set after having set points.”She played a great game, especially in these conditions.”Sherif kept up an impressive level throughout and the pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set.But Pliskova then won four games in a row, eventually holding serve to level things.The Czech was made to work much harder for the final set as she failed to convert five break points before winning the sixth to go 4-3 up.She held serve and wrapped up the match after two hours and 15 minutes with an ace down the middle.Pliskova, who has never won a Grand Slam, will face Latvian world number 43 Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone
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Williams overcomes slow start to win

Serena Williams is a three-time champion at Roland Garros, having won the 2002, 2013 and 2015 titlesSerena Williams began her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a hard-fought win over fellow American Kristie Ahn in the French Open first round.Sixth seed Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday, overcame a rusty start to win…

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Williams overcomes slow start to win

Serena Williams is a three-time champion at Roland Garros, having won the 2002, 2013 and 2015 titlesSerena Williams began her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title with a hard-fought win over fellow American Kristie Ahn in the French Open first round.Sixth seed Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday, overcame a rusty start to win 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in Paris.Once she came through a 74-minute opener, Williams began to play with more belief and clarity as she swept Ahn aside in a one-sided second set.Williams will play Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.Pironkova, 33, was handed a wildcard by Roland Garros after a memorable run to the US Open quarter-finals – where she lost to Williams – in her first tournament since 2017 after giving birth.More to follow.Live scores, results and order of playAlerts: Get tennis news sent to your phone
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‘We have lost the plot with handball’

MOTD2: ‘Ridiculous’ handball rule has ‘got to change’Football has “lost the plot” with the new handball ruling and decisions made by officials are causing Premier League matches to “lose the spectacle”, says Newcastle manager Steve Bruce.The Magpies were awarded a late penalty after Andy Carroll’s knockdown came off Eric Dier’s arm inside the box.Callum Wilson…

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‘We have lost the plot with handball’

MOTD2: ‘Ridiculous’ handball rule has ‘got to change’Football has “lost the plot” with the new handball ruling and decisions made by officials are causing Premier League matches to “lose the spectacle”, says Newcastle manager Steve Bruce.The Magpies were awarded a late penalty after Andy Carroll’s knockdown came off Eric Dier’s arm inside the box.Callum Wilson converted the 97th-minute spot-kick in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham.Spurs boss Jose Mourinho did not want to comment but said there was “no respect” for his club.’We’ve lost the plot’ – Bruce on handball and VARThe hosts led through Lucas Moura’s first-half strike but missed a number of chances, allowing Newcastle to earn a point with their only shot on target in the contest.With time running out, Jonjo Shelvey floated a free-kick into the area which substitute Carroll nodded down but the ball came off Dier’s outstretched arm – with the defender’s back towards the ball – as he jumped to make a challenge.Following a lengthy consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR), on-field official Peter Bankes awarded the penalty after reviewing the incident on the pitch-side monitor.Jose Mourinho says Spurs ‘deserve more respect’Mourinho walked down the tunnel in disgust after seeing Wilson score the penalty and, when asked to give his reaction to the decision, he said: “I don’t want to speak about it.”The only feeling I am ready to share is that I don’t feel Tottenham is respected according to what the club is. No respect.”It is my feeling. You know it is the third club I have managed in the country, so happy so proud, so happy every day, I would not change it for any other job in the world but I feel it, I feel we deserve more respect.”So far this season, six penalties have been awarded for handball compared to 19 in the entirety of the last campaign. At this stage last season, there had been no penalties awarded for handball in the Premier League.The major European leagues were already implementing the new ‘stricter’ interpretation of the handball law last season and that resulted in 50 penalties due to handball in La liga and 60 in Serie A.Bruce added: “The handball has been around for a hundred years. If it is deliberate, no problem, but it has to be clear and obvious. We have lost the plot with it and it loses the spectacle of it.”Maybe we can do something about it, we seem to have these phases where we take everything literally in the Premier League and maybe we have to say no to it.”On Saturday, Roy Hodgson said the “nonsense” handball law that led to a penalty against Joel Ward in Crystal Palace’s 2-1 defeat by Everton was “ruining the game”.Referee Peter Bankes reviewed the decision on the pitch-side monitorSo what is the new law?A new interpretation of the handball law was introduced at the beginning of this season. Under these new rules, a player will be penalised for handball if:The hand/arm is clearly away from the body and outside the “body line” .The player clearly leans into the path of the ball.The ball travels some distance.The ball touches a hand/arm that is clearly raised above the shoulder.The player falls and the hand/arm is extended laterally or vertically away from the body.A deflection clearly makes no difference to the ball touching a hand/arm that is clearly extended away from the body and/or above the shoulder’An absolute joke’ – what the pundits saidFormer Premier League striker Clinton Morrison on BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s a terrible decision. I would be going mad. VAR is ruining our game. It’s the law, I understand, but he is facing the other way. We have got to be more consistent when we are making these decisions.”I totally get it’s the law, but you’ve got to be consistent. Mourinho will be asking why they did not decide to check the handball incident with Jamaal Lascelles moments before, which looked more of a penalty. Dier was looking the other way.”It just frustrates me. At the end of the game I want to talk about football. Instead we are talking about VAR and the handball rule. I would take the handball rule away from the VAR officials.”I like it that the referee goes to the monitor because the players will respect it more. I don’t blame the referee, I blame VAR. That is the problem.”Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports: “An absolute disgrace, a joke. Everyone in this country will say what I am saying. “Dier had no control of where his arm was. Whether it’s the FA, Fifa, Pierluigi Collina, stop it, it is ruining football for everyone. An absolute joke.”Former Newcastle manager Graeme Souness: “It is the new rules. It is harsh but these are the rules.”Maybe it is going to create more excitement and goals and eventually we will get to accept it.”‘Get our game back’ – reaction on social mediaWhat you said on #bbcfootball:Ashley: Yes we need VAR, but that was never a handball by Dier. He clearly didn’t know where the ball was! Change the rule NOW!Adam Salter: In all seriousness, accidental handball should not be given as a penalty. Give it the hockey treatment and award an indirect free-kick on the corner of the box on the byline.
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