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Nadal, Djokovic beaten at ATP, setting stage for Medvedev, Thiem final

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Daniil Medvedev sent Rafael Nadal packing after a gruelling slugfest at the ATP Finals in London on Saturday to set up a title match against Novak Djokovic’s conqueror Dominic Thiem.

The Spanish world number two, who has never won the elite event in his illustrious career, faltered when serving for the match in the second set and was beaten 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

Earlier, US Open champion Thiem recovered from 4-0 down in the third-set tie-break against Djokovic to win 7-5, 6-7 (10/12), 7-6 (7/5).

Russian giant Medvedev — who has won nine matches in a row — put Nadal’s serve under intense pressure in the early stages of their evening match at the empty O2 Arena.

But he was unable to make his chances count and a drop in his level allowed the Spaniard to break to love to lead 5-3 before he served out for the set.

Medvedev immediately found his focus at the start of the second set, winning his first service game to love before Nadal, a two-time finalist at the event, double-faulted to give the Russian a 2-0 lead.

Just when it seemed as though Medvedev was cruising, Nadal, 34, broke back twice to take total control and stepped up to serve for the match.

But in another astonishing twist, the 20-time Grand Slam champion played a sloppy game, allowing the Russian back into the match, and Medvedev won the eventual tie-break.

The deciding set hinged on the seventh game — the Russian produced an overhead winner on his third break point, breaking again to beat Nadal for the first time.

The Spaniard entered the match on a 71-match winning streak after taking the opening set, but 24-year-old snapped that run with a gritty mental and physical performance over two hours and 36 minutes.

“I felt really strange until 5-4 for him in the second set, when he was serving for the match,” said the fourth seed, who lost all three of his matches on his debut at the season-ending tournament last year.

Djokovic agony

Thiem’s victory against Djokovic ended the world number one’s hopes of equalling Roger Federer’s record of six titles at the eight-man event.

The 2019 runner-up faced an uphill battle psychologically after squandering four match points in the second-set tie-break.

But he was quickly back in the groove and rallied from a desperate situation in the final-set tie-break, winning six successive points to earn two match points, taking the second of those.

“It was for sure a mental battle,” said Thiem. “I got so tight in the second-set tie-break, first of all because to play these legends is always going to be something special.”

The Austrian is only the second player in 2020 to win a tie-break against Djokovic, who entered the third-set decider with a 15-1 tie-break record this season.

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Klopp proved right about Tuchel after Chelsea’s win over Man City in FA Cup

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Chelsea booked their place in this season’s Emirates FA Cup final with a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday evening.

Hakim Ziyech, who joined the Blues from Dutch giants Ajax last summer, netted the only goal of the game just ten minutes into the second half after he connected with Timo Werner’s square pass.

The Moroccan’s fifth goal of the campaign, and his second in his last two FA Cup appearances, was enough to seal the win for Thomas Tuchel’s charges, meaning they brought an end to City’s hopes of completing a famous quadruple this season, with Pep Guardiola’s side currently riding high at the top of the Premier League table, in the final of the Carabao Cup and just two games away from the final of the UEFA Champions League.

t is fair to say that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was bang on the money when waxing lyrical about Tuchel when he was in charge of Paris Saint-Germain.

Klopp had hailed Tuchel as a “fantastic manager” and spoken highly of the way he had changed the French club’s style of play, something he most certainly had not been afraid to do since arriving in West London.

“A fantastic, fantastic manager. You can see really his influence, it has changed a lot their style of play, how they play, different formations and stuff like that,” Klopp said back in 2019, as quoted by Get French Football News.

He also said, “I know a lot of people who have worked with him, they all are full of respect for him. You cannot be in the Champions League only because of spending money; that is not how it is.

“You need to have on the pitch a good organisation, because all the others we are not blind.

“We do our job as well and you need to have the right tools in the right moments and Thomas has that.”

Tuchel reacts

Although City have been a dominant force in England this season, sweeping almost everybody aside who they have come up against, Tuchel had the measure of them. The German implemented his tactics to perfection and guided his side to a fully deserved victory.

The win over City capped off what can only be described as an outstanding week’s work. The Blues defeated Crystal Palace 4-1 at Selhurst Park last weekend, securing their biggest win of the Tuchel era so far, before booking their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in seven years on Tuesday evening. Now, they have ended the week by moving to within one game of lifting the FA Cup for a ninth time.

Considering Chelsea was a club that was in serious danger of missing out on the top-four when they sacked Frank Lampard towards the end of January, to still be in with an excellent chance of finishing third this season, booking a place in the final of the Champions League and lifting the FA Cup deserves enormous amounts of praise.

And the vast majority of that praise should be sent in Tuchel’s direction. The German has arrived at Stamford Bridge and wasted no time in setting out his own philosophy for how he wants his team to play. He has changed the formation, their outlook and the belief they have within as a squad. They fear nobody, proven with wins over Atletico Madrid (twice), Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and City.

To have beaten all of those clubs, and done so without conceding a single goal, deserves massive amounts of plaudits.

-Football.london

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UCL: PSG advance to semis, beat Bayern on away goals

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There was joy around Paris, France, last night and among fans of the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club globally as the French team defeated Bayern Munich on away goals to qualify to the UEFA Champions League semifinal.

Eric Maxim Choupo Moting’s header levelled the scores on aggregate but the PSG’s three away goals allowed the French champion to progress to the next round.

In a match where the PSG had many chances to score, it can count itself lucky as the missed chances did not come to bite them at the end as Bayern failed to get the all-important second goal.

In the other quarterfinal, Chelsea conceded a late goal in the 93rd minute but it did not matter as Chelsea qualified to the semifinal with a 2-1 aggregate.

Mehedi Taremi’s exceptional overhead kick beat Chelsea keeper Mendy at the twilight stages of the game but Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell’s goals from the first leg were enough to shepherd Chelsea to the Champions League semis for the eighth time, more than any English side in the competition’s history.

Full-time: PSG 0 Bayern 1 (Aggregate Score- PSG 3 Bayern 3).

PSG qualifies to the UEFA Champions League semis via the away goals rule.

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National Sports Festival: Boxer knocks out opponent in 15 seconds

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Ondo state boxer, Adedeji Adegbola, on Friday, knocked out his opponent, Oluwafemi Adetoye of Yobe state, in a record 15 seconds of their first round heavyweight boxing bout at the ongoing National Sports Festival in Benin.

The bout, held at the Oba Akenzuwa Cultural Center, Benin, was at the semi-finals stag

With the win, Adegbola has qualified for the semi finals of the heavyweight category and placed him with the medals range, alongside five team mates vying in other weight categories.

Adegbola said that he trained very hard for the festival, while expressing his optimism of clinching the gold medal in the heavyweight category.

“I am happy and I thank God, I trained very well ahead of the festival and I thank my coaches for the advice and the training process,” he said.

According to Guinness World Records, the fastest knockout in boxing history was in a Golden Gloves tournament at Minneapolis, United States on Nov. 4, 1947, when Mike Collins knocked out Pat Brownson in four seconds.

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