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Tennis: Rafael Nadal downs battling Kei Nishikori to reach Barcelona quarter-finals

Tennis|: Dubai: Rafael Nadal needed to go the distance for the second successive day in Barcelona, defeating Japan’s Kei Nishikori to make the last-eight and stay on course for a 12th title at the tournament. The world No. 3 triumphed 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 over 2014 and 2015 champion Nishikori and next face Britain’s Cameron Norrie, a fellow left-hander, for a place in the semi-finals. Tennis: Djokovic to relaunch ill-fated Serbia tournament a year after COVID ‘horror show’ Tennis: Rafael Nadal rues missed chance after Rublev shock in Monte Carlo Tennis: Novak Djokovic knocked out of Monte Carlo Masters by Dan Evans in last 16 Tennis during COVID-19: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic miss ‘energy’ of fans Nadal, who suffered a surprise quarter-final exit at the Monte Carlo Masters last week, had also required three sets to beat Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka, ranked at 111, in his Barcelona opener on Wednesday. Former world No. 4 Nishikori, now down at 39 in the rankings, was left to regret converting just two of 13 break points carved out against the man who also beat him in the 2016 Barcelona final. World No. 58 Norrie progressed when Belgian eighth seed David Goffin retired with an injury in the second set. Nadal defeated Norrie in their only previous meeting in straight sets in the Australian Open third round in February. Second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, the champion in Monte Carlo, eased into the last-eight with a 7-5, 6-3 victory Australian 14th seed Alex de Minaur. Tsitsipas next faces 11th seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime who got the better of compatriot Denis Shapovalov 6-2, 6-3. “I was happy with my level today,” said Auger-Aliassime. “It’s never easy to play against him and it’s great to have won in straight sets. The next match won’t be easy, a tough challenge.” Russian third seed Andrey Rublev, the runner-up to Tsitsipas in Monte Carlo, claimed a 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 victory over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in two and a half hours. Rublev, who has a tour-leading 26 wins in 2021, fired 35 winners past the Spanish clay-courter. He has an intriguing quarter-final against red-hot Italian teenager and 11th seed Jannik Sinner who defeated fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6, 6-2. It was Sinner’s third win over the veteran Spaniard this year.

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Brajkovic leads from start to finish at Nad Al Sheba Cycling Championship

Dubai: Slovenian Jani Brajkovic, a resident in the UAE since 2010, took the Men’s Open crown at the 75km Nad Al Sheba Cycling Championship on Thursday night, finishing 0.07 seconds ahead of his friend Vladimir Gusev of Russia. Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council and Chairman of Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament’s Organising Committee, flagged off the race, which featured more than 370 riders of different nationalities, in the presence of Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, Hassan Al Mazrouei, Director of NAS Sports Tournament, Adel Al Bannay, Chairman of the Tournament’s Technical Committee, and a number of UAE Cycling Federation officials. Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid’s Addeybb defends Queen Elizabeth Stakes title in Sydney UAE youngster Rashid Al Dhaheri continues sensational racing season Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi to host Fina World Swimming (25m) in December Al Kamali and Al Qasim aim for gold at Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament Padel Championship Brajkovic, winner of the UCI Under-23 Road World Championships time trial title in 2004, took the lead from the start and topped the leaderboard with a time of one hour, 41 minutes and 45.26 seconds despite waiting for Gusev when the Russian suffered a puncture in the middle of the race. The Slovenian, who finished ninth overall at the 2012 Tour de France and fourth at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Tour, took home the winner’s cheque of Dh18,000, while Gusev – Brajkovic’s teammate early in their professional career at Discovery Channel and Astana between 2006 and 2008 – received Dh12,000 for his runners-up finish. Slovenia’s Grega Bole, another former professional who was riding for UCI World Team Bahrain–McLaren until 2020, finished third in 1:43.43 and he was followed by the Emirati duo of Talal Mohammed and Khalid Mayouf in fourth and fifth. “It was a very nice race,” said Brajkovic, 37, who was riding for the Slovenia-based team Adria Mobil until last year. “The road itself is so nice that the speeds are very high. There is no problem anywhere. “There was a lot of riders at the start, so I needed to make sure that I am at the front all the time and not at risk. Unfortunately, in the middle of the race Vladimir got a puncture and couldn’t get a wheel. But anyways, I decided to wait for him because together we are much, much stronger.” Calling Brajkovic a deserving champion, Gusev said: “I had a technical problem, a puncture, and he waited for me. He is a very strong rider and a deserving champion. He is also a good friend. Before in professional racing, we were racing for the same team and he was my roommate. “I came here in 2014 when they started the cycling tour and cycling has really grown in these seven years. Many more people are training now and it is really nice to see all the community riding together here tonight.”