Sainz takes over lead
Carlos Sainz took over the lead in the Dakar Rally as Volkswagen swept the podium in a taxing fifth stage north through the foothills of the Atacama Desert on Wednesday. Mark Miller of the US won his first Dakar stage, the grueling 483km stretch from Copiapo to Antofagasta over rocks and the dust-like sand in 5 hours, 6 minutes, 15 seconds. Teammate Sainz finished 2:10 behind, and Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah was third, 4:27 back. Sainz led al-Attiyah by 4:37 overall and Miller was 9:39 off the pace in third. In motorbikes, defending champion Marc Coma’s Sherco blew a rear tire while leading by six minutes, allowing Contardo Lopez to win the stage on an Aprilla in 5:52:40. Cyril Despres’ KTM was 1:30 behind, allowing the Frenchman to extend his overall lead to 37:37 on Lopez. Rally great Stephane Peterhansel, who started the day as overall leader, stalled twice with mechanical problems and finished more than two hours behind Miller.
Vieira joining Man City
Patrick Vieira confirmed yesterday he was leaving Inter to join Manchester City in a bid to secure more first team action and gain a place in France’s World Cup squad. “I set myself an objective, I want to go to the World Cup,” the 33-year-old former France captain told television channel Eurosport. “The important thing for me is to go to Manchester City and to show the coach [Roberto Mancini] I’m the same player than when he was in charge of Inter,” he said. “After a year in Turin and three and a half years in Milan, it’s over. To go to the World Cup I need playing time and I can’t reach my objective with Inter where I’m not a first choice player.”
Atletico take Cup beating
Atletico Madrid’s miserable season took a turn for the worse when they were reduced to 10 men and beaten 3-0 at second division Recreativo Huelva in their King’s Cup last-16 first-leg match on Wednesday. Atletico were two goals behind and down to 10 men inside half an hour. Bruno Fornaroli gave the home side the lead on 14 minutes before Tomas Ujfalusi was shown a straight red card. The visitors’ misery deepened when Cedric brought Aitor down in the penalty area and Jeronimo Barrales scored from the spot. Recreativo easily contained a toothless Atletico in the second half and Daniel Candeias added a deserved third. The result left Atletico on the verge of elimination before next week’s second leg. In other King’s Cup games Deportivo Coruna won 2-1 at La Liga rivals Valencia, while Villarreal surrendered the lead to draw 1-1 at struggling second-tier side Celta Vigo. Third-tier Alcorcon, who dumped Real Madrid out in the last round, fell 3-1 behind at home to Racing Santander but scored a late goal to keep alive their hopes.
Fergie Jr takes Preston job
Darren Ferguson, the 37-year-old son of Manchester United boss Sir Alex, on Wednesday returned to management as manager of Championship side Preston. Ferguson, who left Peterborough in November was installed as the successor to Alan Irvine. “I’m very, very ambitious and with my name I cannot afford to fail,” he told reporters, shrugging off the inevitability of comparisons with his illustrious father. “Pressure is there in any walk of life but you’ve got to try and be successful. If you win enough games you will be fine, if you don’t then you will be under pressure.”
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first