World number two Iga Swiatek defeated third-ranked Coco Gauff 6-0, 7-5 in a showdown of reigning Grand Slam champions on Wednesday in a group-stage match at the WTA Finals.
Poland’s 22-year-old Swiatek, the French Open winner and a four-time Grand Slam champion, took only 89 minutes to dispatch 19-year-old American Gauff, who won the US Open last month.
“In the second set, obviously, it got more tight,” Swiatek said. “I was happy I stayed focused. I had plenty of chances in her first service games to break back, but I knew somehow I would use one of those chances.”
The victory also boosted Swiatek’s chances to overtake Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka for the year-end world number one ranking at the season-ending outdoor hardcourt event in Mexico.
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur beat Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-3 in a rematch of the Wimbledon final in the night’s other group-stage match.
The result meant Swiatek has not clinched a semi-final berth despite her 2-0 start.
In windy conditions, Gauff hit only six winners compared to 31 unforced errors while Swiatek hit 11 winners, half her number of unforced errors.
“I would say this match wasn’t consistent, in terms of the level,” Swiatek said. “So for sure adjusting to everything that happened was the most important thing.”
Swiatek, a three-time Roland Garros champion and last year’s US Open winner, improved to 9-1 all-time against Gauff, whose only triumph in the rivalry came in August’s Cincinnati semi-finals ahead of her first major title at New York.
Swiatek, the 2022 year-end number one, also beat Gauff in their most recent prior meeting last month at a Beijing semi-final but the US teen was nursing a right shoulder injury.
Gauff could not become the first teen to win multiple matches at a WTA Finals since Serbian Ana Ivanovic in 2007.
Gauff netted a forehand to surrender the first break and a 2-0 lead in the opening set and Swiatek smashed a backhand shot on the baseline to break again at love for a 4-0 edge.
Swiatek hit a backhand volley winner for another break to claim the first set in 27 minutes.
Gauff broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set when Swiatek hit a forehand volley wide, her third unforced error of the game, and Gauff held in a dramatic 12-minute sixth game for a 4-2 edge.
Serving for the set, however, Gauff made four double faults in a row and was broken to 5-5, then broken again by Swiatek in the final game, netting a forehand volley on the final point.
“I’m happy that I could actually problem solve a little the way to win these last games,” Swiatek said. “The key was maybe being confident and mentally not focusing on the score, but really just sticking with the plan that worked in the first set.”
Sabalenka must defeat Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan on Thursday in a group-stage rematch of January’s Australian Open final to qualify for Saturday’s semi-finals.
Sabalenka would clinch the year-end top spot by reaching Sunday’s final.
PCB reveals schedule of National T20 Super 8
The schedule for the National T20 Super 8 has been revealed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) following the advancement of the top two teams from each group to the Super Eight stage. This stage is set to take place in a round-robin format spanning from December 1 to December 8.
🚨 Schedule of the @AHGroup_Pk Presents Jazz Super 4G National T20 Cup 2023-24 Super 8 🗓️
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) November 30, 2023
Following the Super Eight stage, the top four teams will qualify for the semi-finals. Both semi-finals are scheduled to be played on 9 December at National Bank Stadium, at 1500 PKT and 2000 PKT respectively.
The final is scheduled to be played at the same venue on 10 December. The toss will take place at 1930 PKT and the first ball will be bowled at 2000 PKT.
The winning team of the tournament will pocket a prize money of PKR 5 million.
Meanwhile, the tournament runners-up will be awarded PKR 2.5 million. The player of the tournament will be rewarded with PKR 250,000. The same amount has been allotted to three other awards; best batter, best bowler and best wicket-keeper of the tournament. The player of the final will receive PKR 50,000 while player of the match in each of the
Super Eight games and the semi-finals will be given PKR 25,000.
This is the first edition of the tournament played since the PCB 2014 Constitution was reinstated. The previous edition of National T20, which featured six sides, was won by Sindh who clinched their maiden title after defeating defending champions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by eight wickets. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lost out on securing a hat-trick of titles after winning both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 editions.
British Gymnastics bans weighing young athletes
British Gymnastics has introduced new safeguarding rules that will prevent coaches from weighing athletes to stamp out methods it said are “on the fringe of abuse”.
The rules are part of a series of policies that the governing body is introducing following the 2022 Whyte Review, which found there was “systemic” physical and emotional abuse within the sport.
British Gymnastics has said it intends to go beyond the recommendations of that report to stamp out “harmful practices”.
Under the new rules, no gymnasts aged 10 or under can be weighed. Those above that age can only be weighed with the consent of both the gymnast and if they are under the age of 18, a parent or guardian.
If athletes are weighed, it must be done by a sports science or medical practitioner, with a “scientifically valid rationale” for it, including measuring growth or designing strength and conditioning exercises.
British Gymnastics said the policy had been introduced “to prevent inappropriate practices and prevent potential areas of concern around weighing, due to some of the related psychological distress and risks of the development of mental health problems such as eating disorders/disordered eating, anxiety, and depression”.
“Inappropriate or excessive weighing of gymnasts is an example of poor practice which may be on the fringe of abuse, and if/or repeated could amount to abuse,” it added.
The Whyte Review focused on 2008 to 2020 and received more than 400 submissions of those, more than 40 percent described physically abusive behavior towards gymnasts from coaches.
In a statement, British Gymnastics chief executive Sarah Powell said: “Above all else, we care about gymnasts as people, and these new policies make clear that what matters most in gymnastics is the welfare of those involved.
“While practices have moved on a long way, we know there has been poor practice in these areas and so by providing clarity for gymnasts, parents and carers, coaches, clubs, volunteers, and officials through the statements set out in these policies it will ensure everyone understands what is OK and what is not OK and help prevent that happening in the future.”
Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans, Rossouw returns to Quetta Gladiators
Pakistan all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed will don the Multan Sultans’ jersey in the ninth edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL).
In a trade, Iftikhar has moved to Multan Sultans, whereas Rilee Rossouw has returned to his previous franchise, Quetta Gladiators.
🔥🚨 Box-office Trade Alert 🚨🔥
🔁Iftikhar Ahmed joins Multan Sultans
— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) November 30, 2023
The trade deal with Quetta Gladiators also sees Multan Sultans get the first pick in the platinum round one in exchange for Rilee Rossouw and the first Silver category pick.
Iftikhar has evolved into a formidable all-rounder for his power-hitting and foxy off-spin. He brings an experience of 229 T20 matches in which he has scored 4,476 runs. He also has a century in the format to go with 30 half-centuries. Since the start of his career in October 2010, the muscular batter has been smashing a boundary every 6.75 balls. He recently reached the 50-wicket landmark and his economy stands at 7.31.
Iftikhar Ahmed: “I am delighted to become a Sultan. It is an honour for me to represent the people of Multan as their passion for this game is second to none. Multan Sultans have evolved into a strong team and their record in the last three seasons speak for itself. Now, it is my ambition to help them bag the prestigious HBL PSL trophy,” Iftikhar said.
Captain Muhammad Rizwan: “I am very excited to welcome Iftikhar Ahmed. He brings outstanding all-round skills, which we need to be a champion team.
“It was not only his on-field skills that made us finalise this trade, but he is also a brilliant team player who uplifts dressing rooms with his presence. We are eager to put together a set of players whose skills are in sync with our positive, bold and aggressive brand of cricket.”
PCB reveals schedule of National T20 Super 8
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