Nadal, Djokovic beaten at ATP, setting stage for Medvedev, Thiem final – Newstrends
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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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Aston Villa opens offers for Fiorentina’s Kayode

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Michael Kayode

Aston Villa opens offers for Fiorentina’s Kayode

Aston Villa have tabled an opening bid for Fiorentina full-back Michael Kayode, the 19-year-old Nigerian descent  who exploded onto the scene last season in Serie A.

Transfer expert Alfredo Pedulla  was  quoted as  saying that the Premier League club will use the funds collected in the sale of Douglas Luiz to Juventus, to help finance the deal.

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Villa sporting Director, Monchi, is thought to be a huge fan of the player and Pedulla claimed that the Birmingham club has made an initial offer of €15M plus bonuses. Fiorentina are understood to be ready to sell for a fee in the region of €20M with the two parties now close to an agreement.

Kayode grew up in the youth ranks at Juventus before making the switch to La Viola’s under-19 squad in the summer of 2021. Last season, the Italy Under-21 international made 26 Serie A appearances for the club and six in the UEFA Conference League, which Fiorentina ultimately lost to Olympiacos.

Aston Villa opens offers for Fiorentina’s Kayode

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Napoli plans to slash asking price for Victor Osimhen

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Victor Osimhen

Napoli plans to slash asking price for Victor Osimhen

Italian club, Napoli is reportedly set to reduce their asking price for Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen.The Nigerian international currently has a €150 million release clause in his contract, which has put off some of his potential buyers.

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Italian reports have claimed that Napoli will lessen their release clause stance on the Nigerian, with Calciomercato stating the Partenopei may lower their initial valuation to €100 million.Napoli’s new coach, Antonio Conte is said to be aiming to bring in Romelu Lukaku as his replacement, with the pair interested in being reunited after working together at Inter for two seasons before the manager’s resignation after claiming the 2020-21 Scudetto.

Napoli plans to slash asking price for Victor Osimhen

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Super Eagles Coach: NFF divided over Minister’s choice of Amuneke

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Emmanuel Amuneke

Super Eagles Coach: NFF divided over Minister’s choice of Amuneke

There are serious indications that some members of the  Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) are grumbling about the latest development by the Sports Ministry to allow former U-17 coach, Emmanuel Amuneke to oversee the remaining games of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

ThePAPERS reports that the  Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) axed Finidi George‘s tenure as  Super Eagles coach and announced plans to hire a foreign technical adviser in the wake of the team’s shambolic 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign so far.

A reliable source from the Glass House told ThePAPERS that there are rumours from the Sport Ministry that the rejected Emmanuel Amuneke could eventually be appointed as interim coach of  the Super Eagles Super Eagles for the remainder of the World Cup qualifiers before appointing a foreign coach.

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This development, according to the source, will not be welcomed by the top executive members of the NFF, while some are already grumbling to decline the approach of the Sports Ministry whenever it comes up.

The PAPERS had earlier reported that former Tanzania national team coach, Emmanuel Amuneke was the anointed candidate of the Honourable Minister of Sports and Youth Development, John Enoh before NFF appointed Finidi George for the top job.

It is yet to be confirmed if the speculations could amount to the announcement of Amuneke as interim  Super Eagles coach.

Super Eagles Coach: NFF divided over Minister’s choice of Amuneke

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