Germany take early lead
Alexander Zverev yesterday handed Germany a 1-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group first-round tie against Australia when he outlasted Alex de Minaur in a four-hour marathon in Brisbane, Australia. Zverev was forced to fight every step of the way before seeing off the challenge of the 18-year-old De Minaur 7-5, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) on Pat Rafter Arena. The world No. 5 had looked down and out when De Minaur, playing superb defensive tennis, took a two sets to love lead. However, Zverev fought back to win the fourth set before recovering from an early break in the fifth to force a tiebreak. He then created a mini-break at 3-4 in the tiebreak and served superbly to take the match and give his country the early advantage. Zverev, 20, has had a disappointing Davis Cup record, with one win and four losses before yesterday’s match.
Haas leads at Phoenix Open
Bill Haas used a hot start to jump to the first-round lead on Thursday, as several big names queued up close behind at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona. Haas shrugged off a late tee time to card seven-under-par 64 in front of a typically raucous and large crowd at TPC Scottsdale, two strokes ahead of a five-strong group including fellow American Rickie Fowler. Spanish world No. 2 Jon Rahm is three behind, while American Justin Thomas trails by four. In a field that includes four of the top five players in the world rankings, Japanese two-times defending champion Hideki Matsuyama made a decent start to trail by five shots, but out-of-sorts American Jordan Spieth struggled to a one-over 72.
Russians hail ban ruling
Russia has hailed a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday to overturn Olympic doping bans on 28 of the country’s athletes, with the Russian Ministry of Sports declaring that “justice has finally triumphed.” The court ruled that there was insufficient evidence that 28 Russians, including several medalists, had broken anti-doping rules at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. “This, of course, cannot but give us joy,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “It confirms our position on the fact that the vast majority of our athletes are clean.” On Tuesday, Putin had admitted that some Russian athletes had been involved in doping, but he portrayed allegations of a state-sponsored doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games as a politically motivated attack on Russia by Western countries.
Grid girls, start times out
Having controversially dropped grid girls from Formula One, chiefs on Thursday axed another long-standing tradition — the 2pm start time. From this year, races are to start 10 minutes later, while the European and Brazilian grand prix are to begin an hour later than in previous years, Liberty Media Co said. “Some broadcasters usually go on air precisely on the hour, hence missing the tension and emotion that characterize the minutes before the start of each Grand Prix,” a statement said. “Thanks to this change, television viewers will be brought closer to the teams and the drivers and fully enjoy the spectacle offered just before the red lights go out.”
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker found himself in need of an assist to help the state fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He called on the New England Patriots. One of the team’s private airplanes on Thursday evening landed in Boston after returning from China carrying more than 1 million masks critical to healthcare providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus. Members of the Massachusetts National Guard met the airplane and offloaded the containers of masks onto waiting trucks for transport to warehouses for distribution. Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers, but had no way of getting them to the US. He
WAIT AND SEE: The estimated cost of postponement started at US$2 billion and has kept rising, but the IOC has yet to say whether it would help pay for the extra expenses Postponing the Tokyo Olympics to next year would make the event more costly for all parties, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged on Thursday, although it offered few details on what the final bill might be. Four directors of the Olympic body held a conference call three days after Tokyo’s new dates were finalized, with the Games pushed back to July 23 to Aug. 8 next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the new dates cleared up any uncertainty about the event’s future, there are still plenty of question marks as the committee begins to work with Tokyo organizers and the
MEDIA RUMORS? With no pay agreement secured and players’ representatives calling for more financial information ahead of talks, the sport had another week of bad press Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle could be sacked in a matter of days, media reported yesterday, as the embattled governing body struggles to deal with a financial crisis compounded by a shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Castle this week took a 50 percent pay cut and laid off 75 percent of Rugby Australia (RA) staff members, saying that the body would face losses of up to A$120 million (US$71.95 million) if no more rugby was played this year. With no pay agreement secured with the players and their representatives calling on RA to provide more financial information ahead of negotiations, the
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are planning to play a charity golf match next month with Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, CNBC reported on Wednesday. CNBC, which cited an unnamed person familiar with the negotiations, said that the charity match would be held at an undisclosed location without fans and is being organized by the PGA Tour and AT&T’s WarnerMedia. The negotiations are still being finalized, but the match pitting 15-time major champion Woods and Manning against five-time major winner Mickelson and Brady could be aired on live TV and is unlikely to be featured on pay-per-view, CNBC said. “Discussions