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Six Nations: Wales should stick with Gareth Anscombe – Jamie Roberts



Six Nations: Wales beat France in comeback in opening game
Video captionSix Nations: Wales beat France in comeback in opening game
Six Nations: Italy v Wales
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 9 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Bath centre Jamie Roberts says Wales head coach Warren Gatland should keep faith with half-backs Gareth Anscombe and Tomos Williams against Italy.

The Cardiff Blues pair started in Wales’ Six Nations opener against France in which Gatland’s side came back from 16-0 down to win 24-19.

Anscombe was not at his best in wet conditions, but Roberts believes he deserves to retain the number 10 shirt.

“I think he’s a quality player,” he said.

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“Gats has spoken openly about backing Gareth because he did very well in November, let’s not forget that.”

Gatland will name his side to play Italy on Thursday.

Fly-half Anscombe was preferred to Northampton’s Dan Biggar and scrum-half Williams was given the nod ahead of Scarlets’ Gareth Davies at the Stade de France.

Tomos Williams
Tomos Williams made his first Six Nations start in the win over France

Williams scored Wales’ opening try in Paris with Anscombe successful with two conversions, while his second-half replacement Biggar added a penalty and conversion.

“I’d back the lads again,” Wales international Roberts told BBC Wales’ Scrum V Six Nations special.

“It was wet at the weekend and it was a shame we couldn’t see the best of Anscombe.

“It was greasy, and for him and Tomos Williams, it was difficult to judge them on that performance, I think.

“Hopefully it’s a dry track in Rome and I’d go with those lads again.

“That’s not saying anything about Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar, I thought they were magnificent when they came on.

Wales have ‘plenty to improve on’ - Owens
Wales have ‘plenty to improve on’ – Owens

“What a great selection headache for Warren Gatland.”

But former Wales captain Gwyn Jones believes Biggar should start against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

“In dry weather with us going forward, I think Anscombe is a wonderful 10 and can rip teams apart,” Jones said.

“But in those [wet] conditions I don’t think he’s the man for us. He’s prone to good highs but very low lows.

“I think Dan Biggar gives you eight-and- a-half every week at least and gives you a couple of things Anscombe doesn’t give you.

“He gives defensive solidity, and he’s probably our best player in the air.

“If these aerial battles are going to define these games, then let’s get our very best guy at catching the ball in the air on the pitch and he gives fantastic kicking.”

Chelsea 5-0 Huddersfield: Gonzalo Higuain & Eden Hazard both score twice


Higuain scored eight goals in 22 games while on loan at AC Milan earlier this season

Maurizio Sarri says Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard are “suitable” to play with each other, as the pair both struck twice in Chelsea’s dominant victory over Huddersfield, which moved the Blues back into the top four.

It was Higuain’s first goals since signing on loan from Juventus in the January transfer window.

“Higuain is improving,” said Sarri. “He wasn’t physically at the top when he arrived, because he had a back problem and wasn’t involved, so only played a few matches.

“He is a great player. Apart from the goals, he is really very suitable to play very close to Eden.”

Argentina international Higuain opened the scoring in the 16th minute at Stamford Bridge.

N’Golo Kante played him in with a delightful reverse pass to beat the offside trap and the striker finished first time, lashing his shot in at the near post.

Just before half-time Elias Kachunga nudged Cesar Azpilicueta over and referee Paul Tierney awarded a penalty, although replays suggested the foul occurred outside the penalty area.

Hazard stepped up to smash in the penalty and score his first league goal since 26 December.

The Belgium international made it 3-0 on 66 minutes, rounding Terriers keeper Jonas Lossl and slotting in from a tight angle.

And just three minutes later Higuain got his second, curling in a shot from the edge of the area, with the help of a deflection.

David Luiz added a fifth in the closing minutes, with a powerful header from a corner that was deflected into his own net by Kachunga.

The win ended a troubled week for Sarri, following Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Bournemouth – their heaviest league defeat in 23 years.

Chelsea are now fourth, three points ahead of Arsenal, who play Manchester City on Sunday (16:30 GMT).

But it is an 11th defeat in 12 league games for the Terriers, who remain bottom of the league and 13 points from safety.

Emiliano Sala: Agent who booked Cardiff City striker’s flight reveals text messages

Goals finally flow for Chelsea

Chelsea came into the game having lost successive league matches against Arsenal and Bournemouth.

In recent weeks Sarri has questioned their motivation and Wednesday’s defeat led to an angry dressing room inquest.

His players gave the perfect response against Huddersfield, with a free-flowing attacking performance in what felt like a must-win game.

Chelsea had failed to score in three of their past four league games going into Saturday’s match, which was why Sarri brought in Higuain.

The 31-year-old, who had scored just eight goals in 22 appearances for AC Milan in the first half of the season, showed Chelsea exactly what he can bring to the side with clinical finishing.

Higuain played under Sarri while at Napoli in 2015-16, equalling the Serie A goalscoring record with 36 goals.

He continued his remarkable scoring record under Sarri on his home league debut, with his 37th and 38th goals in 37 league games for the Italian.

Sarri has previously said Hazard “has to do more” and the 28-year-old put in a performance to please his boss.

He was a constant menace in attack, terrorising the Terriers’ defence as he was given the run of Stamford Bridge and taking his goal tally to 15 for the season.

Sarri said: “Today is all positive, we played a full 90 minutes, defended very well, so it was a very good match but we need consistency now, we have to continue to play with the same mentality in all the matches.

“I hope in the future we will not need to lose a match to find the right mentality.”Sarri wants consistency from Chelsea

Blunt Terriers fail to fire again

This was Jan Siewert’s first away game in charge since succeeding David Wagner as Terriers boss and he was able to welcome back Aaron Mooy and Philip Billing.

But a change in manager has not solved their biggest problem, which is a lack of a goalscorer.

Stuck on just 13 league goals this season, they never looked like adding to that tally at Stamford Bridge, registering just two shots on target from five attempts.

Mooy had the best effort, heading over in the seventh minute, but that was as good as it got.

They also struggled in defence and were outclassed by Hazard, Higuain and Kante.

With just two wins all this season, they seem destined for a return to the Championship.

“I don’t feel well at the moment because we lost 5-0 and we cannot compete with Chelsea,” said Siewert.

“I think when you look at the game we had the first chance then conceded early and the penalty came at the wrong moment. I’m not sure if it was a penalty.

“We will not talk about these decisions because we lost 5-0 and this doesn’t feel good. We had the first chance and had several moments but missed our shots. We have to be more aggressive in the box to go for our goals.”Huddersfield cannot compete with Chelsea – Siewert

Man of the match – Eden Hazard

Hazard has now been directly involved in 201 goals in his top-flight league career (117 goals, 84 assists), with 130 of those coming for Chelsea

Stats – Stamford Bridge becomes a fortress

  • Chelsea have only lost one of their past 16 home Premier League games (won nine, drawn six)
  • Huddersfield have failed to score in a league-high 13 different Premier League games this season.
  • Chelsea scored five goals in a Premier League game for the first time since December 2017, when they beat Stoke 5-0 at Stamford Bridge
  • Higuain became the first Chelsea player to score twice on their home league debut for the club since Mario Stanic v West Ham in August 2000
  • Kante provided two assists in a single league match for the first time in his top-flight career.

What’s next

Chelsea travel to reigning champions Manchester City on Sunday, 10 February (16:00 GMT), while Huddersfield host Arsenal next Saturday (15:00 GMT).

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England in West Indies: Tourists collapse again as hosts seal series win..,


West Indies captain Jason Holder bowled superbly in claiming 4-43

Second Test, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua (day three)
England 187 (Moeen 60, Bairstow 52, Roach 4-30)& 132 (Holder 4-43, Roach 4-52)
West Indies 306 (Bravo 50) & 17-0
West Indies won by 10 wickets

England collapsed in dismal fashion yet again to lose the second Test by 10 wickets as West Indies sealed the series with a match to spare.

After West Indies were bowled out for 306 – a lead of 119 – the tourists slipped from 35-0 to 132 all out, with Kemar Roach and Jason Holder taking four wickets each in Antigua.

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With West Indies chasing only 14, John Campbell wrapped up victory with a six.

A three-day victory gave them a 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

It is West Indies’ first Test series win over England since 2009 and their first at home against a side other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since 2012.

Holder’s impressive team have a chance to secure a whitewash when the third Test in St Lucia begins on 9 February.

Woeful England fail to learn

A reverse angle of England batsman Joe Denly getting bowled by West Indies bowler Alzarri Joseph after leaving the ball
Opener Joe Denly was one of four England batsmen to be bowled

This England side are not blessed with prodigious Test-match batsmen – only captain Joe Root and Ben Foakes average more than 40 and the latter has played just five matches.

But neither are West Indies, yet the hosts were able to adapt their game to eke out a vital lead on a challenging pitch, epitomised by Darren Bravo’s defiant 50 off 216 balls.

Bravo batted for 342 minutes – the third slowest fifty in Test history by time. England’s second innings lasted 270 minutes, the tourists having failed to learn from both their previous collapses in this series and the approach of their determined hosts.

Rory Burns cut a ball that was too close to him straight to third slip to depart for 16 and fellow opener Joe Denly – who was dropped on nought – was bowled for 17, leaving a delivery from Alzarri Joseph to end a nervy innings full of ill-advised shots.

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Jonny Bairstow made 14 before he was bowled through the gate trying to drive Holder down the ground. He has been bowled in nine of his past 18 innings and 29 times this decade – the most of any batsmen in Tests.

In total, four England batsmen were bowled, Ben Stokes dragging on when playing too far away from his body and Moeen Ali missing an attempted drive down the ground off a very full delivery, both off Roach.

Of the recognised batsmen, only Root, Foakes and perhaps Jos Buttler were undone by fine deliveries. The rest were down to poor decision-making.

Holder leads superb side in fine style

West Indies captain Jason Holder holds up a stump in celebration after beating England in the second Test
Holder’s side are the first West Indies team to win two Tests in a series against England in 21 years

England had the better of the morning session, bowling well to take the last four West Indies for 34 runs before Burns and Denly battled through to lunch.

With opening bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Roach dropping too short, Holder brought himself into the attack and struck with his first ball to remove Burns before dismissing Bairstow shortly after.

Joseph bowled beautifully in tandem with Holder, claiming 2-12 in a splendid seven-over spell, made all the more powerful given the 22-year-old was playing after his mother Sharon died in the early hours of Saturday.

Touching 90mph and finding sharp bounce, he knocked over Denly and had Root caught behind after Holder’s shrewd decision to call for a review, despite Joseph thinking it had only hit Root’s hip and not the glove as well.

Holder proved adept at using the decision review system again to help a revitalised Roach dismiss Foakes lbw for 13 – a ball that ducked in appearing to be sliding down in real time but shown on ball-tracking to be hitting leg stump.

Roach then trapped Stuart Broad in front and Holder had James Anderson caught by a diving Joseph at mid-on before raising his arms and yelling in celebration.

Holder dedicated the victory to Joseph and his family, a unified, spirited West Indies hoping this stunning series win is the start of a welcome resurgence.

‘England have a lot of uncertainty still’ – reaction

England captain Joe Root: “We’ve been outperformed once again and that’s quite hard to take. Scoring under 200 isn’t going to win you many games of cricket.

“West Indies know these conditions well and they’ve exploited them to their advantage. They’ve played some really good stuff at times and made it very difficult. They’re fully deserving of winning the series.”

England coach Trevor Bayliss on Sky Sports:“Our batting has been poor. Some of our shot selection was well below par. The first two dismissals today were very loose shots. That doesn’t set a great example for guys coming in.

We’ve got to be harder to get out. It’s a case of applying ourselves a little better. Our concentration and will to bat for a long period of time is the way forward.”

West Indies captain Jason Holder: “It’s difficult to describe my emotions.

“We wanted to do it for Alzarri’s mother. For him to come out, play and bowl the way he bowled, was a credit to him. This win is for him and his family.”

Man of the match Kemar Roach, who took 4-30 and 4-52: “It’s a special award. A series win at home against England, the third best team in the world, is fantastic. I’m proud of the guys.”

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on the BBC’s The Cricket Social: “This West Indies team is full of character – their resistance, the bravery, the stubbornness, the discipline to play for 131 overs compared to the way England went about their business. You couldn’t blame the pitch for many of England’s dismissals.”

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Peter Crouch: Stoke City striker poised for Premier League return with Burnley



Substitute Crouch volleys Stoke level against Shrews
Substitute Crouch volleys Stoke level against Shrews

Stoke City striker Peter Crouch, who turned 38 on Wednesday, is set to return to the Premier League at Burnley as part of a deal which will see Sam Vokes go the other way.

Championship club Stoke will pay a fee for Clarets striker Vokes, 29.

Crouch has made 462 Premier League appearances for six different clubs, scoring 108 goals.

Emiliano Sala’s family view search area off Guernsey

The former England forward was part of the Stoke side relegated from the Premier League last season.

Crouch has also played in the top flight for Tottenham, Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool and Portsmouth.

Arsenal look to Christopher Nkunku but Ivan Perisic & Yannick Carrasco deals unlikely…

Vokes, who played for Wales at Euro 2016, has been at Burnley since July 2012 and has this season started 10 league games for the Clarets, who are 17th in the Premier League.

Listen: Peter Crouch tells us what it’s like to be a player on the move on deadline day, arguments with chairmen and disagreements with managers.

Most headers & most sub appearances – Crouch’s Premier League record

Crouch was handed his Premier League debut at Aston Villa by Graham Taylor – at the age of 21. He started in a 3-2 defeat against Bolton in March 2002 and his team-mates included Peter Schmeichel, Steve Staunton and Gareth Barry.

Crouch’s club-by-club Premier League career
Team Games played Minutes played Goals Assists
Stoke City 202 12690 45 18
Liverpool 85 4575 22 12
Tottenham 73 4231 12 12
Portsmouth 38 3361 11 5
Aston Villa 37 1755 6 5
Southampton 27 1780 12 6

A veteran of 42 England caps, Crouch has scored the most headed goals in the Premier League and made 152 substitute appearances – the most in Premier League history.

Most headed goals in Premier League
Player Premier League goals Headed goals
Peter Crouch (Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Tottenham, Stoke) 108 53
Alan Shearer (Blackburn, Newcastle) 260 46
Dion Dublin (Man Utd, Coventry, Aston Villa) 111 45

Of the 28 players to score 100 Premier League goals or more, Crouch is the oldest. He brought up his century playing for Stoke against Everton on 1 February 2017 – two days after turning 36.

Crouch 'really pleased' to get to 100-goal milestone
Crouch ‘really pleased’ to get to 100-goal milestone

He has also scored for each of the six clubs he has played for in the Premier League.

Only Craig Bellamy – for Coventry, Newcastle, Blackburn, Liverpool, West Ham, Manchester City and Cardiff – has scored for more.

Crouch has scored more Premier League goals (108) than Dennis Bergkamp (87), Fernando Torres (85), and Cristiano Ronaldo (84).

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Arsenal look to Christopher Nkunku but Ivan Perisic & Yannick Carrasco deals unlikely…


Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic handed in a transfer request

Arsenal’s attempts to sign Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan or fellow winger Yannick Carrasco of Dalian Yifang look to be over.

However the Gunners are still working on a deal for Paris St-Germain midfielder Christopher Nkunku.

At the start of the transfer window, Arsenal made an approach to take Belgium forward Carrasco, 25, on loan.

The loan fee they proposed was deemed too low but there was optimism an agreement could be reached.

Emiliano Sala’s family view search area off Guernsey

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The idea of joining Arsenal appealed to Carrasco – partly because returning to Europe would have suited his family and the Belgium national team – and he was willing to accept a salary reduction.

As Arsenal considered their next move, there was internal upheaval within the club as it was announced head of recruitment Sven Mislintat would leave on 8 February.

Arsenal subsequently decided to focus their search for a wide player on Perisic, offering to take the Croatia winger on loan with an option to buy him at the end of the season.

Perisic, 29, handed in a transfer request Inter insisted he could only leave permanently or on loan with an obligation to buy.

Arsenal informed their potential recruits that they are not in a financial position to make permanent signings this month or commit now to doing so in the summer.

They are set to have a higher budget in the next transfer window but cannot guarantee to potential signings whether they will play in the Champions League or Europa League in 2019-20.

That uncertainty ended any realistic hope Arsenal had of recruiting Perisic, so the pursuit of Carrasco on loan was reignited.

However, their offer to Dalian Yifang for the former Monaco and Atletico Madrid player had not changed and was still considered unacceptable.

There has been no indication Arsenal will resurrect those moves.

They are still trying to sign 21-year-old Nkunku on loan with an option to buy, the same basis on which they have completed the acquisition of another midfielder, Denis Suarez from Barcelona.

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Emiliano Sala’s family view search area off Guernsey


GETTY IMAGES/DAVID IBBOTSON
Emiliano Sala (left) was on board a plane being flown by pilot David Ibbotson (right)

The family of missing Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala are planning an underwater search.

Family spokesman David Mearns told a press conference that a private search of the English Channel, paid for by fundraisers, also included fishing boats and other vessels.

The underwater search is expected to begin on Sunday.

Meanwhile the family has been taken on a plane to see the area that rescuers have been searching.

They left Guernsey Airport at about 09:30 GMT on a chartered flight with harbourmaster David Barker.

Sala’s sister Romina and mother Mercedes arrived on the island on Sunday and a family spokesman said they were struggling for answers.

The family travelled on a twin-engine Dornier 228-212 plane which flew from Guernsey and circled the island of Alderney.

The plane leaving the airport
The family’s flight leaving Guernsey Airport

Mr Mearns told a press conference on Monday: “We would like to thank all the people and all the companies that have offered their help,” he said.

“We have been planning an underwater search as a next phase… there are still boats on the water… and people are still looking.”

Speaking of Sala and the football community’s reaction, Mr Mearns added: “He’s a really friendly person that people loved – from both clubs and any other clubs, and that’s where you see the breath of the football community coming together in an extraordinarily short period of time to raise this type of money.

“So, obviously the family appreciate that, but their minds have been in a different place this week.”

Burhou Island near Alderney
The family was shown the search area which included Burhou Island near Alderney

An official search for 28-year-old Sala and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, was called off on Thursday, with Mr Barker saying the chance of them being alive was “extremely remote”.

But, after a plea from his sister not to give up, more than £290,000 was raised for a private search to continue – which is being led by Mr Mearns, said to be a renowned shipwreck hunter.

High-profile donors to the GoFundMe page include France and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe, former West Ham midfielder Dimitri Payet and Leicester City winger Demarai Gray.

More than 4,000 people have donated to the page.

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Ms Sala said of her brother: “He’s a fighter, he started his football career from very little… He’s a very humble, family man.

“He was always joking, he was very keen to stay with the family all the time and we know he’s here somewhere and we are here to bring him back”.

Neil Warnock said he remembered Mr Ibbotson as a "fabulous pilot"
Neil Warnock said he remembered Mr Ibbotson as a “fabulous pilot”

Speaking for the first time since Sala disappeared, Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock said he could understand Sala’s family’s stance on keeping the search going.

“If it was my kid I’d want everybody looking forever,”he said at a press conference  on Monday.

“It’s by far the most difficult week in my career. Even now I can’t get my head round the situation,” he said.

“When I look at Romina and the family, it’s such a difficult time. I keep looking at my own children and thinking what I would be doing now, as well.”

Mr Warnock added he believed he had also been flown by Mr Ibbotson.

“I’d been on a couple of planes like that, but I think the ones I’d be on might have had two engines.

“But I’d been over the top to Nantes a couple of times, and I do think I had that pilot – who I thought was a fabulous pilot.

“So I just can’t comprehend it.”

Map showing location of Alderney and lighthouse
Emiliano Sala was on board a plane bound for Cardiff from Nantes when it disappeared from radar

Argentine striker Sala signed for the Bluebirds from Nantes on Saturday, 19 January and was flying back to Wales from France when the plane disappeared from radar last Monday evening.

At 19:15 GMT, Mr Ibbotson made a request to descend before losing contact with Jersey air traffic control.

Mr Mearns said they had travelled to Guernsey to be near where the plane was last located and to find out about the investigation and what happens next.

He said: “This is a family that has come from Argentina with this huge shock out of nowhere and is struggling with very, very few answers about an unexplained loss.”

He added the family “still have some hope”, saying: “They’re looking at this as a missing person, a missing plane and until they are satisfied, that’s the mode that we are in.”

Emiliano Sala's family arriving at Guernsey Airport
Sala’s family arrived at Guernsey Airport on Sunday

Emiliano Sala's sister Romina at Cardiff City Stadium
Romina Sala visited Cardiff last week and said she believes both Emiliano and the pilot are alive

Mr Mearns said the private search would entail “more investigative technical searches underwater” at some point.

The family have also thanked donors for their “exceptional generosity” after money was raised to pay for a private search.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has begun an investigation which will look at “all operational aspects,” including licensing and flight plans.

The PA-46-310P Malibu aircraft
The PA-46-310P Malibu aircraft Sala and Mr Ibbotson were on board

Tributes
Tributes have been left outside the Cardiff City Stadium

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Tears, tantrums & YouTube – what we learnt from the Australian Open


Tears. Celebrations. Hugs. Broken racquets.

Tsitsipas dedicated a post to his father on his birthday, writing: “I am proud to say that I’ve spent 20 years of my life with the best memories in the back of my head… and most of that thanks to you!”

The Australian Open has brought us everything from dramatic finals to people willingly drinking pickle juice.

.Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic laid down the marker at the first Grand Slam of the season as they walked away with the titles, and there was plenty else to enjoy over the fortnight in Melbourne.

Here’s five things we learned at the Australian Open.

Andy Murray can still make you believe

There was plenty of praise for Andy Murray when he announced on the eve of the tournament that he plans to retire in the summer.

Given Murray’s injury struggles in 2018, his first-round match against Roberto Bautista Agut in Melbourne was always going to be difficult.

But if there’s one thing we know about Murray, it’s that giving up is really not in his nature.’A colossal match’ – best moments as Murray bows out of Australian Open in style

On the opening day of the tournament, Murray battled for four hours and nine minutes.

In front of a packed Melbourne Arena, he fought back from two sets down to force a fifth set.

Ultimately, the Scot fell just short – but it offered a stark reminder of how much we will miss Murray.

No-one could decide who they wanted to be women’s champion

Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova are arguably two of the most likeable players on the women’s tour.

Japan’s Osaka has endeared herself to the public with her down-to-earth and slightly awkward public speaking.

The controversial US Open final against Serena Williams reduced her to tears as she collected her maiden Slam trophy to boos from the crowd.

Kvitova, meanwhile, has made a remarkable return to tennis since she suffered career-threatening injury in a knife attack at her home in 2016.

People couldn’t decide who they wanted to win…

Ultimately, it was Osaka who took home the title and the world number one ranking with a dramatic 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4 win.

Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova’s thrilling match lasted for two and a half hours

The changing of the guard might have to wait

This time last year, Osaka was 72nd in the world rankings and was yet to win a WTA title.

Now, she’s at the top of the world rankings with two Grand Slam titles to her name.

Melbourne was also where Ashleigh Barty reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final and rising American Danielle Collins thrashed second seed Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.

Top seed Simona Halep lost to Serena Wiliams in the fourth round, before Williams, despite holding four match points, fell to Karolina Pliskova in the quarters.

So, things are changing in the women’s game. Is it the same in the men’s?

ATP Finals winner Alexander Zverev, 21, has yet to go beyond the quarter-finals in a Slam.

He continued that record when he fell to Milos Raonic in the fourth round, promptly taking his frustration out on his racquet.

Alexander Zverev’s racquet was barely recognisable by the time he had finished smashing it

French Open finalist Dominic Thiem, 25, also lost his cool and his racquet during his second-round match against Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin.

Thiem was forced to retire injured, while last year’s semi-finalist Kyle Edmund was easily beaten by veteran Tomas Berdych in the first round.

However, Stefanos Tsitsipas – more on him later – claimed a fine victory over Roger Federer, leading to some suggestion of a “changing of the guard”.

Not that Federer was convinced.

“I’ve heard that story the last 10 years. From that standpoint, nothing new there,” he said, while Rafael Nadal said the next generation can “wait a little bit”.

Novak Djokovic looks unstoppable

Novak Djokovic is five Grand Slam titles away from Roger Federer’s all-time record

If proof was needed that the champions are not done yet, then Djokovic provided it by thrashing Nadal in the final.

Djokovic inflicted a first straight-set defeat in a Slam final on Nadal to claim his 15th major title.

Since the start of 2015, Djokovic has competed in 10 of the 17 Grand Slam finals – winning eight of them – and has risen to the top of the world rankings.

His victory over Nadal in Melbourne means Federer’s record of 20 Slam titles is very much within reach.

“It was the first time where I have watched the Australian Open and thought that one man can win all four Grand Slams this year,” BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller said.

“He was outstanding and on a different planet.”

Are they set for a rematch at Roland Garros in May?

Tsitsipas takes YouTube lessons to beat idol Federer

Stefanos Tsitisipas arrived at the Australian Open as one of the NextGen – the young players tipped for major success in the future.

He had studied defending champion Federer on YouTube

as a child, and one of his favourite matches was the then-teenage Federer’s victory over Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001.

So what did Tsitsipas do when he met Federer in the fourth round? He beat him in four sets.

The Greek fell in the semi-finals to Rafael Nadal but he captured the imagination in Melbourne.

His YouTube channel, where he vlogs about life on tour, cracked 100,000 subscribers and he even had a dish named after him at a local Greek restaurant.

Tsitsipas recently said he used filming and photography as a way to explore the various countries tournaments are held in

Tsitsipas has a Youtube channel, where he post vlogs of his life on tour

Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari paired up for the Hopman Cup, where they beat Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic in the mixed doubles

Tsitsipas lost to Roger Federer 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) at the Hopman Cup

Tsitsipas beat Australia’s Alex de Minaur to win the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals title

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Australian Open 2019: Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal to win record seventh title


Novak Djokovic won a record seventh Australian Open title and a third successive Grand Slam as he swept aside Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.

The Serb, rarely troubled on his serve, won 6-3 6-2 6-3 for his biggest victory in a major final over his great rival.

Spanish second seed Nadal, 32, looked rattled by the world number one’s intensity and made 28 unforced errors.

Djokovic, 31, won in two hours and four minutes to move clear of six-time men’s winners Roy Emerson and Roger Federer.

Emiliano Sala: Agent who booked Cardiff City striker’s flight reveals text messages

Australian Open 2019: Naomi Osaka beats Petra Kvitova to win title

Emiliano Sala: £220,000 raised for private search

A forehand winner down the line brought up two championship points, Djokovic taking the second when Nadal clubbed a backhand long.

Djokovic, who was the top seed, fell to his knees after sealing another triumph on Rod Laver Arena, smacking the court with both hands and screaming towards the sky.

The reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion claimed his 15th Grand Slam title, moving him outright third ahead of American Pete Sampras in the all-time list, closing in on Switzerland’s Federer (20) and Nadal (17).

Djokovic has now won 13 of his past 16 meetings with Nadal, who has not beaten the Serb on a hard court since the US Open final in 2013.

He leads 28-25 in their record 53 meetings between two male players.

Djokovic continued his fine record of going on to win the tournament every time he has reached the semi-finals, while Nadal lost for a fourth time in the Melbourne showpiece.

The result meant the 2009 winner was unable to become the first man in the Open era to win all the Grand Slams at least twice and was the first time he had lost a major final in straight sets.

Djokovic’s dominance stuns an expectant Melbourne

Djokovic said his clinical semi-final win over French 28th seed Lucas Pouille on Friday was one of his best performances on Rod Laver Arena.

Two days later, he surpassed that against the man with whom he shares what many consider to be the greatest male rivalry.

Most expected a much closer encounter between the pair, whose previous meeting at Melbourne Park had been the epic 2012 final, which lasted five sets and almost six hours.

Quickly it became apparent that a repeat was unlikely in front of a stunned crowd.

Djokovic was as close to flawless as he could have been – dominating on serve, controlling the rallies with crisp groundstrokes, rarely making a mistake and showing incredible athleticism around the court.

His tally of 34 winners and nine unforced errors highlights how high his level was.

The Serb made a fast start by breaking in Nadal’s first service game and, although that was the only break in the opener, the gulf between the players felt much wider.

He took his first set point after landing a first serve which Nadal could only bat back into the net, wrapping up the opener in only 38 minutes.

More pressure came on Nadal’s serve immediately in the second set, Djokovic eventually going a break up in the fifth game and, after surviving Nadal taking him to deuce in the following game, broke again to leave him serving for a two-set lead.

Djokovic then underlined his dominance by firing down three aces to leave him one set away from the title.

Another break for a 2-1 lead in the third put Djokovic on his way to a comfortable win, before he fought off a break point in the sixth game and then sealed victory on the Nadal serve.

Nadal sees positives despite being outclassed

Rafael Nadal just could not find a way to challenge a brilliant Novak Djokovic

Nadal had not dropped a set on his way to the final but, having come into the tournament without competitive action since September’s US Open, he was nowhere near the level required to cause problems for an in-form Djokovic.

The Spaniard looked like he lacked belief as he made a slow start, winning only one point in the opening three games.

Nadal particularly struggled to make an impact on Djokovic’s serve, not managing to win a receiving point until the ninth game and with more than half an hour on the clock.

Nadal continued to toil in the second and third sets, although a rare error from Djokovic brought up a first break point for the Spaniard after one hour and 46 minutes.

However, a backhand into the net left Nadal grimacing and looking up the sky in frustration as the chance – and the championship – slipped from his grasp.

The Spaniard won 53 points compared to Djokovic’s 89, and took only 13 receiving points.

“I have been going through tough times over the past year. I only played in nine events and had to retire from two, and I was not able to play professional match since the US Open,” said Nadal.

The Spaniard, who cut short his 2018 season with an abdominal muscle problem and to have ankle surgery, retired injured in the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year.

“Even though tonight was not my night, it was very important for me in coming back from injury,” he said.

“I believe I played a good two weeks of tennis and it is a great energy and inspiration for what is coming.

“I will keep fighting and keep practising to give myself better chances in the future.”

Can Djokovic overtake Federer’s tally?

If Djokovic is to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once by winning the French Open, he may well have to get past Rafael Nadal, who has won the title a record 11 times

Australian great Rod Laver, watching in the arena which bears his name, said before the final he felt Djokovic would eventually overtake both Federer and Nadal in terms of Grand Slam titles.

On the evidence of this victory, and his performances over the past six months, few would disagree.

Djokovic was ranked outside the world’s top 20 in July after coming back from elbow surgery.

But he showed he was back to his best with victory at Wimbledon and followed up that performance with another triumph at the US Open in September.

Now Djokovic, who reclaimed top spot in the rankings in November, will go to the French Open in May aiming to hold all four major titles simultaneously for the second time.

Victory over Britain’s Andy Murray in the 2016 French Open final meant Djokovic became the first man since Laver in 1969 to hold all four Slams at once.

“I’m trying to contemplate on the journey in the past 12 months. I had surgery exactly 12 months ago,” Djokovic said.

“To be standing now here, in front of you today, managing to win this title and three of the four Slams is truly amazing.”

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic claimed his 15th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Sunday

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

This was one of the great Grand Slam final performances by Djokovic. He simply knocked the stuffing out of Nadal.

The offensive side of Nadal’s game, which had been so eye-catching in earlier rounds, was snuffed out by Djokovic. The world number one took all of Nadal’s time away and forced him on the defensive from the very first ball.

If he wins Roland Garros in June, he will hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously for the second time in his career. This might just be the best chance Djokovic has ever had to win all four Slams in the same calendar year.

Nadal will have a lot to say about that – especially in Paris. The Spaniard felt four months away from the Tour caught up with him here: as he says, he was just not able to find the higher gear required to make the match competitive.

He is, though, optimistic things will look a lot brighter in a couple of months’ time: just as the clay-court season looms into view.

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Emiliano Sala: Agent who booked Cardiff City striker’s flight reveals text messages


Emiliano Sala’s sister made an emotional plea for the search for her brother to resume

Football agent Willie McKay says he arranged the flight that missing Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala took from Nantes, but was not involved in selecting the plane or pilot.

The search for Argentine Sala, 28, and 59-year-old pilot David Ibbotson was called off on Thursday.

Their plane disappeared, from radar as they flew over the English Channel on their way to Cardiff on Monday night.

McKay has revealed text messages with Sala discussing flight arrangements.

One of McKay’s sons, Mark, was the agent acting for Nantes in the £15m transfer that made Sala Cardiff’s record signing earlier in January.

McKay told the BBC he had arranged the flight through David Henderson – an experienced pilot who had flown him and many of his players “all over Europe on countless occasions”.

It is not known how the job of flying Sala ended up being passed to Ibbotson.

The Civil Aviation Authority is to examine whether Ibbotson was operating with a private or commercial licence.

Henderson has not so far commented on what happened.

In the text exchange released to the BBC by McKay, his other son, Jack – who is a Cardiff player – offers to arrange the private flight for free so Sala could return to Nantes to pick up his belongings and say goodbye to former team-mates at the Ligue 1 club.

McKay said both Mark and Jack had a conversation with Sala about the difficulties of flying to the French city by commercial airline.

He also says a Cardiff player liaison official knew of the arrangements that were made. The BBC has approached the Premier League club for comment.

“With regards to the booking of the flight we contacted Mr David Henderson, who has flown us and many of our players all over Europe on countless occasions,” McKay said.

In a 2015 interview with the BBC, Mr Henderson spoke about his life as an experienced light aircraft pilot.

McKay added: “We had no involvement in selecting a plane or a pilot and we also wish to make clear again we do own the plane that Emiliano flew on.”

The Times newspaper has apologised to McKay for incorrectly stating that he owned the plane.

The agent also said he has met Sala’s friends and family to “give them an understanding of how Emiliano came to be on that plane”.

“The tragic events that have unfolded have shocked us all,” he added.

Emiliano Sala: Julien Laurens on 'warrior spirit' of Argentine striker
Emiliano Sala: Julien Laurens on ‘warrior spirit’ of Argentine striker

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has started an investigation

which will look at “all operational aspects,” including licensing and flight plans.

Similarly the Civil Aviation Authority is to examine whether the pilot was operating with a private or commercial licence.

Cardiff have started an internal inquiry to try to establish the events leading up to the flight, but a senior source has denied reports the club is considering a multi-million pound negligence lawsuit over the incident.

The source claimed senior club officials only became aware a private flight had been arranged after they were alerted by the club’s player liaison officer that Sala had failed to arrive at Cardiff airport as planned on Monday.

They also made the point that the club does not have a private jet for players to use and therefore they could not be expected to have arranged his travel to and from Nantes.

Argentina’s president has joined calls from Sala’s family and many fellow footballers for the search to resume.

Cardiff’s players will wear yellow daffodils for Tuesday’s Premier League fixture at Arsenal to honour Sala.

Australian Open 2019: Naomi Osaka beats Petra Kvitova to win title

Full text message exchange

These messages between Jack McKay and Sala were translated from French.

Friday, 18 January

7:43pm – Jack McKay: “My dad has told me that you are going home tomorrow. He could organise a plane to take you direct to Nantes and to come back on Monday, at a time that suits you, so you can get to training on Tuesday.”

7:51pm – Emiliano Sala: “Ah that is great. I was just in the middle of checking if there are some flights to get to Nantes tomorrow.”

7:56pm – McKay: “He said he could organise a plane that would go direct to Nantes.”

7:56pm – Sala: “How much will it cost?”

7:56pm – McKay: “Nothing. He said if you help me to score goals it’s nothing.”

7:59pm – Sala: “Hahaha with pleasure.”

8:00pm – Sala: “We are going to score lots of goals.”

8:01pm – Sala: “I want to leave tomorrow for Nantes at around 11am and come back on Monday night around 9pm to Cardiff if that is possible.”

8:05pm – McKay: “Good. I’ll send a message when that’s sorted.”

Sunday, 20 January

5:00pm – McKay: “Hi there is it possible you could come back at seven in the evening on Monday night? Just because the pilot has to get home in the north after he gets to Cardiff.”

5:01pm – Sala: “Hi, Half past seven would be possible.”

5:03pm – McKay: “Yes that’s good.”

5:05pm – Sala: “[PICTURE OF LUGGAGE] Can you ask if I can bring this on the plane?”

5:06pm – McKay: “Good yeah.”

5:07pm – Sala: “But is that going to be OK for the plane?”

McKay: “Yes there is space on the plane for your luggage.”

5:12pm – Sala: “OK.”

Monday, 21 January

4:16pm – McKay: “I’m going to call in a moment.”

4.23pm – McKay: “He said that it is the same company.”

4.27pm – Sala: “OK thanks.”

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Australian Open 2019: Naomi Osaka beats Petra Kvitova to win title


Naomi Osaka won the match on her fifth championship point

Australian Open 2019 Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka beat Czech Petra Kvitova in a thrilling Australian Open final to win back-to-back Grand Slams and become the new world number one.

The US Open winner, 21, missed three championship points in the second set but regrouped to win 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4.

The fourth seed broke for 2-1 in the decider, then served out to clinch victory in Melbourne.

Eighth seed Kvitova, 28, was bidding for her first major title since being stabbed in a knife attack.

England in West Indies: Jason Holder & Shane Dowrich dominate tourists

Roger Federer beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in Australian Open fourth round

The US Open winner, 21, missed three championship points in the second set but regrouped to win 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-4.

The fourth seed broke for 2-1 in the decider, then served out to clinch victory in Melbourne.

Eighth seed Kvitova, 28, was bidding for her first major title since being stabbed in a knife attack.

Osaka was all smiles during the trophy presentation – in contrast to her US Open victory – and she continued a tradition of slightly awkward acceptance speeches.

“Erm, hello. Sorry, public speaking isn’t my strong point so I hope I can get through this,” she said.

“I read notes before this but I still forgot what I was meant to say. Thank you everyone, I am really honoured to have played in this final.”

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who said she was fortunate to be alive after the stabbing incident in December 2016, showed resilience to take the match into a third set as momentum swung from side to side.

Victory seemed to be inevitable for Osaka before Kvitova broke back for 5-5 in the second, then going on to win 12 points in a row to lead for the first time since the start of that set.

However, after shedding tears at the end of the second set while she left the court for a bathroom break, Osaka regained focus to take a decisive advantage in the decider.

She went on to become the first player since American Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to follow her maiden Grand Slam win immediately with another triumph.

She missed a fourth championship point with a long return, but took the fifth when Kvitova hit a forehand wide.

A smiling Osaka dropped to her haunches on the baseline before returning to her chair and covering her face in shock as she savoured the moment.

Osaka, who replaces Simona Halep at the top of the rankings after the Romanian’s 48-week stint, becomes the first Asian player to be world number one.

She is also the youngest to hold top spot since Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, then aged 20, took the ranking in 2010.

A different type of drama to US Open win

Osaka claimed her first Grand Slam by beating 23-time champion Serena Williams in a dramatic final at Flushing Meadows, which is remembered for the American’s row with umpire Carlos Ramos.

That left the Japanese player in tears and hiding behind her visor as she collected the trophy to the sounds of jeers from home fans in New York angry at Ramos, with Williams having to appeal for calm and respect for the new champion.

This time the atmosphere as she collected the trophy could not have been more different.

The Rod Laver Arena, which sounded evenly split in terms of support during the match, erupted when she finally sealed victory after two hours and 27 minutes.

More followed as she lifted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup before the 15,000-capacity stadium fell silent as Osaka started her victory speech by praising Kvitova’s career comeback.

“I wouldn’t have wanted this to be our first match, but huge congratulations to you and your team,” she told the Czech.

“You are amazing and I am honoured to have played you in a Grand Slam final.”

What was similar to Osaka’s US Open victory, however, was a match also filled with intense drama.

Serve ruled in a tight first set before Osaka dominated the tie-break to edge ahead, boosted by the knowledge she had won her previous 59 matches after winning the opener.

That extraordinary record, which stretches back to 2016, meant Kvitova knew the importance of making a fast start to the second set – and she did that by breaking for a 2-0 lead.

Osaka immediately broke back, though, going on to move within touching distance of the match before another dramatic twist.

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Osaka’s come an enormously long way in a very, very short time. At the age of 21, she has won back-to-back Grand Slams and this time she can rejoice in the moment. This is her moment. She has won it in dramatic style after a fabulous comeback from Kvitova.

She is the first player in 18 years to win a first Grand Slam title and then follow it up by winning her second. What an extraordinarily resilient woman, what an extraordinary player.

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