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Rublev tames Thiem, Sabalenka and Garcia stroll as Melbourne sizzles | Tennis News

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Fifth seed Andrey Rublev brought an end to the Australian Open campaign of former Grand Slam champion Dominic Thiem in the opening round on Tuesday when he overpowered the Austrian 6-3 6-4 6-2 on a sweltering John Cain Arena.

Thiem, a finalist at Melbourne Park and U.S. Open champion in 2020, is on the comeback trail after a wrist injury and was able to compete only to a certain extent against the power of the rangy Russian.

In a match studded with high quality rallies between the two baseliners, Rublev broke for a 5-3 lead in the opening set, for 5-4 in the second and, after a huge roar, for 2-1 in the third.

Thiem was simply unable to get a foothold in the contest and the 25-year-old Rublev, a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open in 2021, served out for the match after little more than two hours on court.

“We are really good friends and I know he is going through not so easy times … and I hope he can get back to the level he belongs as fast as possible,” Rublev said of the former world number three.

“It’s super hot today so I’m super happy I was able to win in straight sets and save some energy for the next match.

“The hotter it is, the tougher it is to make the right decisions, the tougher to move. When you start to think the other guy is also feeling the same, it’s a bit easier.”

Rublev, like all Russian and Belarusian players, is competing at the tournament without national affiliation as a result of last year’s invasion of Ukraine.

Tennis Australia on Tuesday morning banned fans from bringing flags of either nation into the Melbourne Park precinct after a Russian tricolour was hung on a bush next to a court where Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl was playing on Monday.

EXTREME HEAT

The heat was the other main topic of conversation on the second day of the championships as temperatures soared towards a forecast high of 36 degrees Celsius (96.8°F).

Play was suspended on the outside courts shortly after 2 p.m. (0300 GMT) local time as the tournament’s Extreme Heat Policy came into play.

Top women’s seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia spent as little time as possible on Rod Laver Arena in their opening matches at the year’s first Grand Slam.

Fifth seed Sabalenka, who opened the year by winning the Adelaide International 1 title without losing a set, kept up her fine form with an emphatic 6-1 6-4 victory over Tereza Martincova.

“It wasn’t that easy a match and I’m super happy to start with a win,” said the Belarusian.

“I need to work on my mindset, not getting upset with every mistake I am making, I truly believe that this is the only thing that is missing in my game.”

Fourth seed Garcia, who won the WTA Finals last season, was equally convincing with a 6-3 6-0 win over Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov in just over an hour.

Garcia will next face another Canadian in 2021 U.S. Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, who came from an early break down to beat Alize Cornet 7-5 6-2.

Italian Martina Trevisan was the first seed to fall on Tuesday. The 21st seed went down 6-3 6-2 to Slovakian qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Novak Djokovic will begin his bid for a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in the final match of the day on Rod Laver Arena.

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Leading Mexico players snub Davis Cup tie over differences with federation | Tennis News

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Mexico’s leading tennis players have decided not to play in next week’s Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Taiwan due to differences with the Mexican Tennis Federation (FMT).

Led by Santiago Gonzalez, Alejandro Hernandez and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, the players said they will not take part in the Feb. 4-5 Group I playoff tie in Metepec, State of Mexico.

“After a difficult deliberation, we have not reached a positive conclusion, so we have decided not to participate in the upcoming series against the Chinese Taipei team,” said the players’ statement, published on social media on Monday.

“The lack of communication, lack of planning and lack of interest show that the situation has not been handled in the right way and that personal interests have taken precedence over sporting ones.

“It is sad that the FMT does not have the minimum standards in dealing and planning with the best national representatives.”

The players said they had already informed the federation of their reasons for not participating in the Davis Cup tie.

The statement was also signed by players Ernesto Escobedo, Lucas Gomez, Hans Hach, Gerardo Lopez, and Manuel Sanchez.

The FMT was not immediately available to comment.

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West Ham set up Man United tie by beating Derby | Football News

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West Ham United eased into the FA Cup fifth round with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to third-tier Derby County on Monday to set up a meeting with Manchester United.

Derby, fourth in League One, went into the match on the back of 14 matches unbeaten in all competitions but were quickly overrun by the Premier League side, who took the lead in the 10th minute with a close-range volley from Jarrod Bowen.

Bowen went 12 matches without a goal before netting twice against Everton last week and now has three in his last two games.

The forward then crossed for striker Michail Antonio to head in a second goal five minutes after the interval to break his own goal drought stretching back to November.

David Moyes’ side saw out the victory without conceding many chances, recording back-to-back wins for the first time since October, and Bowen said he hoped the win would boost his side, who are 16th in the table, one point above the relegation zone.

“Two wins on the bounce is good for us it’s all about results and momentum and we can use this as a real springboard,” he said.

Midfielder Pablo Fornals added: “Everyone knows it hasn’t been an easy season so every game we can win gives us massive confidence.

“We work hard every day in training to get a chance and then you have to take it. That’s what the players tried to do tonight.”

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Valencia sacks coach Gennaro Gattuso for poor results | Football News

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Spanish club Valencia sacked coach Gennaro Gattuso on Monday following the team’s poor results.

Valencia said in a statement it reached a mutual agreement with Gattuso to end their contract.

The announcement came after a 1-0 loss at Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday. The club has won only one of its last 10 league games, before the World Cup.

The latest defeat dropped Valencia to 14th place, one point above the relegation zone.

Its only two wins this year came in the Copa del Rey, though it was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Athletic Bilbao at home last week. In the Spanish Super Cup, Valencia lost to Real Madrid in a penalty shootout in the semifinals.

The 45-year-old Gattuso arrived last June on a two-year contract.

The former defensive midfielder helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup and AC Milan win two Champions League titles, both as a player. He coached Milan and Napoli in Italy.

Valencia did not announce a replacement for Gattuso.

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