Orleans Masters: Saina Nehwal, Ira reach quarters
Saina Nehwal beat France’s Marie Batomene 18-21, 21-15, 21-10 to reach the women’s singles quarterfinals of the Orleans Masters Super 1000 tournament on Thursday.
Ira Sharma, who was promoted to the main draw from the qualification, also reached the quarterfinals after beating Bulgaria’s Mariya Mitsova 21-18, 21-13.
Saina, seeded fourth in the tournament, struggled in the first game against Batomene, ranked 65th in the world. The pair went toe-to-toe for much of the game before Batomene won three consecutive points from 17-17 to reach game point.
However, Saina gained control of the match in the subsequent games, winning three consecutive points to start off the second game and going into the interval with a 11-6 lead. She maintained a six-point lead for much of the game, taking it 21-15.
Saina then won four consecutive points from 17-10 to sail into the quarterfinals. The 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist now faces either Iris Wang of the US or France’s Yaelle Hoyaux in the quarterfinal.
Ira, meanwhile, secured her second win over higher-ranked opposition in Orleans. Ranked 162, 21-year-old Ira had defeated 110th ranked LeOnice Huet in the first round before her win over the 71st ranked Mitsova.
Ira did well to come back from a 4-9 deficit in the first game, fighting back to level the scores at 12-12. She then took the lead and never turned back, winning four consecutive points to race to 16-12. She won another three consecutive points to reach 20-15 and while Mitsova saved three game points, Ira took the game with a three-point gap.
The second game was poised at 11-10 in Ira’s favour before the Indian raced away post the interval. She took seven consecutive points to lead 18-10 and took the game 21-13. Ira faces Denmark’s Line Christophersen in the quarterfinal.
Men’s doubles pair M.R. Arjun and Dhruv Kapila also reached the quarterfinals after beating England’s Rory Easton and Zach Russ 21-11, 21-12. They now face another English pair, Callum Hemming and Steven Stalwood, in the last eight stage.
Kidambi Srikanth, who is the top seed in the men’s singles category, faces Malaysia’s Cheam June Wei later in the day.
Earlier, Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy reached the women’s doubles quarterfinals after receiving a walkover in the second round against Indonesia’s Fabriana Kusuma and Amalia Pratiwi.
Mark Zuckerberg strikes gold against jiu jitsu fighters, posts pictures on Instagram
In the past, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has appeared helpless in front of the US Congress where he has been slapped by fines, and fired 11,000 vulnerable employees after being hit by falling revenues. But outside the business arena where Meta is facing tough competition from TikTok and other rivals, Zuckerberg is a huge mixed martial arts fan.
Contrary to setbacks in the tech sector, the Facebook founder has tasted victory in jiu jitsu.
Striking gold, but in a different arena
- The billionaire who has trained with UFC fighters, posted pictures after winning jiu jitsu matches for the first time.
- The billionaire who tried his hand at martial arts, revealed that he won a gold medal in the Gi categroy and a silver medal in the No-GI category.
- His post on Instagram received comments from UFC featherweight and bantamweight category champions, as well as jiu jitsu hall of fame member Bernardo Faria.
Competitive or short tempered?
- The entrepreneur turned sportsperson, who also enjoys surfing, was seen getting into a heated argument after losing a contest during the tournament in California as well.
- On the work front, Zuckerberg’s firm Meta also surprised the markets by bouncing back with strong earnings, after struggling with loss of ad revenue.
Al Hilal swoop in with bumper €400 million per year salary deal amid reports of Lionel Messi leaving PSG
Paris Saint Germain forward Lionel Messi is reportedly planning to cut short his time at FC Barcelona and eventually join Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia. This comes after Messi was suspended for two weeks for travelling to the Kingdom without PSG’s Qatari owners’ permission.
End of Project Messi
Messi had hoped to stay at PSG beyond the end of the current season. However, with recent events, the situation has changed drastically. Given his incredible record with FC Barcelona and PSG, Messi’s potential move to Al-Hilal would undoubtedly shake the football world.
While Messi’s priority remains to play in Europe, transfer market expert Fabrizio Romano reported that Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal has offered the Argentine superstar a bumper contract with a record-breaking salary worth €400 million per year. The potential deal will lead to Messi surpassing his eternal rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, who earns €223 million per year at Al Nassr.
Hindrance to Messi’s Barcelona return
There is strong speculation that Messi may return to his former club, FC Barcelona. However, the club is facing difficulties in shedding the €200 million ($220 million) required from their wage bill to make the deal viable. Despite this challenge, Barcelona is trying to convince La Liga that they have a workable plan to make the numbers work for a potential deal with Messi.
Consequences of Messi’s Suspension
Messi’s suspension was imposed because he went to fulfill his duties as a tourism ambassador. The Argentine will also be docked two weeks’ pay, which Forbes’ recently-published list of the World’s 10 Highest-Paid Athletes 2023 estimated to be around $2.5 million. As a result, Messi will miss games against Troyes and Ajaccio.
In addition, PSG has reportedly cancelled a contract renewal offer to Messi, whose current agreement at the Parc des Princes expires on June 30. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will be free to negotiate with other clubs starting in January 2023.
Saudi Arabia to host FIFA Club World Cup 2023
Saudi Arabia has been named the host of the FIFA Club World Cup 2023, scheduled to take place from December 12-22.
“In relation to the FIFA Club World Cup 2023�, which is due to be played under the current format with seven clubs, the FIFA Council unanimously appointed the Saudi Arabian Football Federation as tournament hosts from 12 to 22 December 2023,” the FIFA said in a statement on Tuesday night.
The unanimous decision was made at a FIFA Council meeting and came only a few days after Real Madrid lifted the trophy in Morocco, following a thrilling 5-3 win over Al-Hilal, the first Saudi club to reach the final of the tournament.
Saudi Arabia will be only the sixth host of the competition since its inception in 2000.
The Gulf nation, earlier this month, was awarded the hosting rights of the men’s Asian Cup 2027 and is also bidding to host the Women’s Asian Cup for the first time in 2026.
The FIFA Council also confirmed a change in the format of the tournament from June 2025 — to expand the FIFA Club World Cup from 24 to 32 teams — with 12 teams from Europe involved along six from CONMEBOL, while CONCACAF, CAF and the AFC will each have four, with one place for the OFC and another for the hosts.
In addition, the Council also confirmed that the hosts of the FIFA World Cup 2026, namely Canada, Mexico and the USA, will qualify automatically as the joint hosts of the tournament, with their slots, therefore, being deducted from the overall allocation of six assigned to Concacaf.
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