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Australian Open: Defending champion Rafael Nadal knocked out in second round

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Tennis top seed Rafael Nadal’s defence of his Australian Open title has ended in defeat by American Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.

Nadal was knocked out by American world No 65 Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 6-4 7-5.

The top seed was already in trouble at a set and a break down to unseeded McDonald when he crouched down in obvious pain clutching his left hip after chasing out wide for a forehand, according to a Sky News report.

Nadal called for the trainer after limping through the rest of the game and headed off court for treatment.

The last time a top seed (Nadal) was ousted in the second round of the Australian Open was against Gustavo Kuerten in 2001.

A retirement seemed on the cards, with the Spaniard’s wife Maria crying in the stands, but he opted to continue despite limping around the court.

Nadal managed to hold his serve until the 11th game, roared on by fans still believing he could somehow turn things around, but it was a case of when not if McDonald would find a way through and he soon polished off the win.

Nadal later revealed he had come into the match with an issue in his hip that then became significantly worse.

He said: “It has been a couple of days like this, but nothing like today in that movement. We’re going to start talking about that now, but I don’t know what’s going on, if it’s muscle, if it’s joint.

“I have history in the hip. I had to do treatments in the past, address it a little [but there] was not this amount of problem. Now I feel I cannot move.

“I tried until the end. I don’t know if in good conditions I will win the match, I will have better chances without a doubt. But at the end, that’s it. I just tried. It was not possible.”

It was a hugely sad way for Nadal to exit the tournament a year after his near-miraculous run to the title when he feared his career may have been over because of a chronic foot problem, and there must be serious doubt over whether he will play again at Melbourne Park.

He went on to win a 22nd Grand Slam title at the French Open last year but has found the going tough since suffering an abdominal tear and pulling out of Wimbledon ahead of the semi-finals.

Nadal went into a first-round clash with Britain’s Jack Draper having lost six of his previous seven matches and, although he scrapped to a four-set victory, was some way below his best.

The same was true in the early stages against McDonald, a 27-year-old ranked 65th looking for his first victory over a top-five player at a Grand Slam.

The match was played under the roof on Rod Laver Arena on a wet day in Melbourne, and the indoor conditions certainly suited the flat-hitting McDonald.

Nadal, who complained before the tournament about the balls, produced a couple of trademark forehands but there were also too many errors, and more often than not it was he who broke down first in baseline rallies.

Asked why he did not retire, Nadal said: “I didn’t want to retire being defending champion here. Better like this at the end. I lost; nothing to say.”

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Super Eagles striker Paul Onuachu joins EPL club Southampton

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Super Eagles striker, Paul Onuachu, has joined an English Premier League club Southampton on a permanent deal.

Onuachu who left Genk signed a three-and-a-half year contract with the Premier League side.

The South Coast club beat Bundesliga side, Eintracht Frankfurt to the forward.

Onuachu is coming to the St Mary’s Stadium with huge reputation having scored 17 goals in 22 appearances for Genk this season.

In total, he departs with 85 goals in 134 games for the club, which he joined in 2019 from Danish side FC Midtjylland.

Southampton manager Nathan Jones said, “Paul is a significant signing for us and completes what has been an extremely positive month in terms of recruitment.

“He’s a handful to play against, has got a tremendous record throughout his career and he’s also someone who brings great experience with him, so he’ll be a really positive addition to the squad.”

 

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Everton confirm former Burnley boss Dyche as new manager

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Everton have confirmed the appointment of former Burnley boss Sean Dyche as their new manager on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

The report came on Monday that Dyche had been chosen by the Everton board as Frank Lampard’s successor, after also holding talks with former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa.

Dyche, according to a Sky Sports report, is the seventh permanent manager hired by Toffees owner Farhad Moshiri since he took over the club nearly seven years ago.

Lampard’s last game in charge was a 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers West Ham on January 21, which kept them second-bottom on 15 points after 20 games – two points below the safety zone.

The Merseyside club had been floundering under the former England international, having last won a league game in October when they beat Crystal Palace 3-0 at home.

Lampard was appointed by Everton in January 2022 after he managed Chelsea from 2019/2021 and Derby County in the second tier in 2018/19, but Dyche will now be tasked with arresting the slide towards the Championship.

Dyche told the club’s official website, “It’s an honour to become Everton manager. My staff and I are ready and eager to help get this great club back on track.

“I know about Everton’s passionate fanbase and how precious this club is to them. We’re ready to work and ready to give them what they want. That starts with sweat on the shirt, effort and getting back to some of the basic principles of what Everton Football Club has stood for for a long time.”

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Mourinho Compares Victor Osimhen to one of the African legend, Didier Drogba

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Victor Osimhen

AS Roma manager, Jose Mourinho, has compared Super Eagles of Nigeria and Napoli of Italy hitman, Victor Osimhen, to Chelsea and Ivory Coast legend, Didier Drogba.

NEWSBREAK reports that the  Nigerian striker netted a world-class goal as his side, Napoli, marched towards the Serie A title on Sunday. Osimhen’s classic goal came against Mourinho’s Roma at the Diego Maradona stadium where Napoli won 2-1.

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Speaking after the match, Mourinho, a former Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid manager, said: “He (Osimhen) is of the same level as Drogba, but Didier didn’t dive.

“If Victor changes, then OK. I’d buy him if I was at a club with a lot of money. However, if he does go to England one day, he needs to change, because in Italy they put up with this sort of behaviour, whereas in the Premier League, they’d come down hard on him.”

He added: “I told him that he scored a wonderful goal and needs to stop diving so much. His goal was fantastic, he did the same thing when we met earlier this season, so he’s a fantastic player. But he mustn’t dive.”

Osimhen, 24, is currently the highest goal scorer in the Italian league Serie A with 14 goals scored in 16 matches.

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