BREAKING NEWS: Ash Barty claims Australian Open title to end local drought

By Sports Desk January 29, 2022

Ash Barty ended the host nation's 44-year wait for an Australian Open singles champion after beating Danielle Collins in straight sets on Saturday.

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  • Reigning champion Ruud makes winning start in Geneva as Shapovalov bows out Reigning champion Ruud makes winning start in Geneva as Shapovalov bows out

    Reigning champion Casper Ruud made a winning start to his Geneva Open title defence after defeating Benoit Paire in straight sets on Wednesday.

    The world number eight triumphed in Switzerland 12 months ago with victory over Denis Shapovalov in the final, claiming the first of five ATP titles he won during an impressive campaign.

    Fresh from reaching the semi-finals in Rome, the Norwegian – also a winner in Buenos Aires and a Miami runner-up this season – made a dominant start.

    Although he was broken in game three of the opening set, Ruud responded immediately and a further four breaks wrapped up a commanding 6-3 6-1 victory in just 55 minutes.

    Meanwhile, Reilly Opelka registered his first win on European clay this season as he saw off Christopher O'Connell.

    Despite triumphing in Dallas and Houston earlier this year, Opelka has suffered first-round exits in Munich, Madrid and Rome since the latter. 

    Nevertheless, the fourth seed was in fine form in Geneva, hitting 13 aces on the way to defeating the Australian qualifier.

    However, there was no joy for 2021 runner-up Shapovalov as the third seed crashed out 6-4 6-7(2) 6-3 to Ilya Ivashka.

    Fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili fell 6-4 6-3 at the hands of 2015 finalist Joao Sousa, who progresses beyond round two for the first time since reaching the Championship match seven years ago.

    There were more surprise defeats in Lyon, where second seed Pablo Carreno Busta was beaten 7-5 6-3 by Federico Coria.

    After taking a close opening set, the world number 59 rallied from 3-1 down in the second to reach his fourth quarter-final of the season on clay.

    Karen Khachanov also bowed out to Marrakech runner-up Alex Molcan 6-2 7-6(4), while Munich champion Holger Rune built on his momentum with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino.

  • Pliskova battles through to Strasbourg quarter-finals, Muguruza bows out in Rabat Pliskova battles through to Strasbourg quarter-finals, Muguruza bows out in Rabat

    Karolina Pliskova reached her maiden quarter-final of the season after battling past Bernarda Para in Strasbourg 6-3 1-6 6-1.

    Runner-up to Ash Barty at Wimbledon last July, Pliskova has endured a stop-start 2022 campaign.

    The Czech missed the first two months with a hand injury, while suffering first-round exits in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid.

    But despite being taken to a decider by her French opponent, the top seed hit 16 aces on the way to reaching the last eight.

    Second seed Angelique Kerber also required a deciding set to progress to her first quarter-final of the campaign; the three-time Grand Slam winner overcoming Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-4.

    Fourth and ninth seeds Elise Mertens and Viktorija Golubic also advanced to the last eight following straight-set wins over Anna-Lena Friedsam and Fiona Ferro respectively.

    However, there was no joy for top seed Garbine Muguruza over in Rabat; the two-time Grand Slam champion was beaten 2-6 6-4 6-1 by world number 85 Martina Trevisan.

    The Italian's reward is a quarter-final showdown with seventh seed Arantxa Rus, who saw off Dalma Galfi 6-4 6-2.

    Mayar Sherif was another seed to tumble; the Karlsruhe champion lost 4-6 7-6(5) 6-1 to Claire Liu, who triumphed in the Trophee Lagardere last week.

    Third seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz recovered from losing the opening set to defeat Kristina Mladenovic 4-6 6-3 6-0, while Anna Bondar hit seven aces as she overcame Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-3. 

  • England appoint Mott as limited-overs head coach England appoint Mott as limited-overs head coach

    England have appointed Australia women's head coach Matthew Mott to take charge of their men's white-ball teams.

    Rob Key, the new managing director of England men's cricket, decided to split the coaching roles and appointed New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum as Test head coach last week.

    Paul Collingwood, interim head coach following the dismissal of Chris Silverwood, was thought to be the leading candidate for the role with Eoin Morgan's limited-overs sides.

    However, Mott has landed the job, and it was confirmed on Wednesday that the 48-year-old has signed a four-year deal. 

    Mott was appointed as Australia head coach in 2015 and subsequently guided them to the Women's World Cup title last April, losing just two of their past 42 ODI matches.

    He is expected to be in place for the world champions' three-match ODI series against the Netherlands in Amsterdam next month.

    Mott said: "I am delighted to accept the opportunity to take this white-ball role with England. Whilst I am Australian, I have deep connections, and several of my closest friends are in the UK, having spent considerable time in Scotland, Wales and England, both as a player and coach.

    "When this role became available, I was attracted by the chance to work with such an established and successful team under the astute leadership of Eoin Morgan and now Rob Key, whom I have always admired as an excellent cricket mind.

    "The idea of the split roles and the chance to work alongside Brendon McCullum in his red-ball role is an opportunity that I am incredibly enthusiastic about and certainly provides the right balance for my family as we embark on this exciting journey.

    "It was always going to take something special to leave the role that I have loved for the past seven years with the Australian Women's team. However, I genuinely believe that the time is right to play a role in helping the England Men's ODI and T20 group continue to evolve as one of the best teams in the world.

    "I am fully aware that this team has been functioning well and part of my initial plan is to work with the playing group and support staff on how we can firstly maintain, then enhance, the success they have started to build over the past few years.

    "Since the excitement of accepting this role, I, like many people around the world, have been trying to come to terms with the tragic loss of my great mate Andrew Symonds. The support of his beautiful family and close friends in the coming days will be vitally important, so I respectfully request some time to process his passing and the immense loss before making any further comment on the role at this stage."

    Mott has previously worked in the head coach roles at New South Wales and Glamorgan, while he has also had a few brief spells working with Australia A.

    A former top-order batter for Queensland and Victoria, he was among the names floated as a potential successor to Justin Langer to coach the men's side for Australia.

    In 2009, Mott was also an assistant coach in the Indian Premier League for Kolkata Knight Riders, who McCullum played for in the inaugural edition of the competition before later coaching the franchise.

    Mott will be aiming to deliver T20 World Cup glory in Australia this year before they defend their ODI World Cup title in India in 2023.

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