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BORIS BECKER: Rafa Nadal looks like a champion while Serena Williams puts no-show rivals to shame

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boris becker rafa nadal looks like a champion while serena williams puts no show rivals to shame

The match I am most eagerly anticipating is on Friday — Rafael Nadal versus Dominic Thiem in the men’s semi-finals. 

That is providing Thiem can recover from his gruelling match on Sunday and make it through the quarters. The energy he will have expended in that five-setter only supports my belief that Nadal is favourite to win the event, despite all the question marks against him at the start of it. 

He has not had a proper test yet but I thought it was crucial that he got a relatively comfortable first-week draw and that is what transpired. 

Dominic Thiem faces Diego Schwartzmann in the French Open quarter-final next week

Dominic Thiem faces Diego Schwartzmann in the French Open quarter-final next week

Dominic Thiem faces Diego Schwartzmann in the French Open quarter-final next week

A win for the Austrian in that match would likely see Thiem face Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals

A win for the Austrian in that match would likely see Thiem face Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals

A win for the Austrian in that match would likely see Thiem face Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals

In an example of how Rafa is always prepared to adapt his game, it looks like he has been flattening out his strokes in the early rounds. Given the slow balls and conditions his usual heavy spin is not quite so effective, so he is hitting through the court more. 

Before the tournament he complained about the balls, yet he and the other two main contenders have just gone about their business once the matches got underway. 

All of them came in with issues: Nadal lost in Rome and was short of matches, Novak Djokovic was weighed down by what happened in New York and Thiem had time off after his life-changing win at Flushing Meadows. 

It appears that Rafa Nadal has been flattening out his strokes in the early rounds

It appears that Rafa Nadal has been flattening out his strokes in the early rounds

It appears that Rafa Nadal has been flattening out his strokes in the early rounds 

They are used to having everything perfect for them off the court but they seem to have ignored irritations with the bubble restrictions and the weather that have stressed other players and got on with it. 

Judging by what I have heard from players, the bubble is not as strict as New York. It is nonetheless a very different type of French Open. 

On the men’s side at least it seems the cream will rise to the top, regardless. It would not be a surprise if the four semi-finalists end up being the first, second, third and fifth seeds, with Stefanos Tsitsipas emerging to meet Djokovic

HATS OFF TO SERENA 

Serena Williams was never going to win this French Open, but she deserves credit for making the journey to Paris and trying to compete before realising that her achilles injury made it too difficult. 

The women played some fantastic matches in New York, often better than the men, but I am not seeing it in Paris. Where are those big matches involving the women? In fact, where are some of the biggest names in the women’s game? 

They could do worse than look to Serena. Everyone talks about whether she can win a historic 24th Grand Slam but I am not convinced it is as important to her as everyone makes out. Anyone who knows a bit about it already recognises her as the greatest player ever.  

Serena Williams was never going to win the French Open but she should get credit for playing

Serena Williams was never going to win the French Open but she should get credit for playing

Serena Williams was never going to win the French Open but she should get credit for playing

Winning the 24th Grand Slam is not as important to Serena Williams as others make out

Winning the 24th Grand Slam is not as important to Serena Williams as others make out

Winning the 24th Grand Slam is not as important to Serena Williams as others make out

She increasingly looks like the elder stateswoman and by coming to Paris and supporting the tour she acted like it. I have missed the likes of recent Grand Slam champions Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu. 

To me, it was a bit disappointing not to see Barty at either of the US or French Opens. These are difficult times and people are free to make their own choices but quite a few Australian players made the effort to play the US and French and to support the tour. 

The Australian cricket team have just been in England to play a series and help support their game. This year we have hardly seen Barty, who was watching Australian Rules football last week while the tournament she won 12 months ago was underway, or Andreescu. 

It was a bit disappointing not to see Barty at either of the US or French Opens

It was a bit disappointing not to see Barty at either of the US or French Opens

It was a bit disappointing not to see Barty at either of the US or French Opens 

Osaka won the US Open but then could not make it to Paris. There are hardly any women’s events happening in 2020 after this. Serena, and before her the likes of Billie Jean King, have driven the game forward — and it is because of them that today’s top, younger players enjoy big contracts and huge prize money. 

Just before this tournament people were recognising the 50th anniversary of when Billie Jean and others were making sacrifices to establish the women’s tour. I could understand players not travelling to New York more, because that was the first big event back with a lot of uncertainties, but it went well. 

It is a shame some did not come to Paris after that. We are left with an intriguing women’s event and we will see who can take advantage of the situation. But it would have been great to have had some more big-name matches.

SHOULD FRENCH OPEN USE A LINE-CALLING SYSTEM? 

There has been a growing debate about whether or not they should be using an electronic line-calling system at Roland Garros. 

Some people are even asking whether line judges should be used at all at big events. But I haven’t seen matches won or lost because of line calls, and on clay it is debatable whether having a robot doing the line calling job makes it totally accurate. 

The decision to introduce an electronic line judge is being debated in tennis at the moment

The decision to introduce an electronic line judge is being debated in tennis at the moment

The decision to introduce an electronic line judge is being debated in tennis at the moment

I am always in favour of retaining as much of the human element as possible. In most tournaments for various reasons, financial considerations apart from anything, you are going to need line judges and you do not want to discourage people from becoming involved in the umpiring side. 

They want something to aspire to. During my career I had my share of calls that I thought went against me but on balance I would not want line judges taken away. 

BRITS’ POOR PERFORMANCES UP FOR DEBATE 

The debate about the British singles performances at the French Open was understandable, and it is natural that people ask questions about why the country with perhaps the greatest tournament in the world does not produce more elite players. 

I am not involved directly in the GB game, but I would make the observation — as we are talking about Roland Garros — that there is no substitute for learning to play the game on clay. 

It was not the surface that gave me my best results, but I never regretted the fact I grew up playing on it. 

Andy Murray was always going to struggle against Stan Wawrinka in round one

Andy Murray was always going to struggle against Stan Wawrinka in round one

Andy Murray was always going to struggle against Stan Wawrinka in round one 

Clay is the ultimate teacher: you have to be mentally and physically strong and learn to construct the points. Learning on it made me a more complete player. 

Andy Murray was always going to struggle against Stan Wawrinka in the first round. I will be very surprised if he suffers similar results when playing on other surfaces so I do not think too much should be read into it. And I do not agree with any suggestion that he should not be taking wildcards. 

To any young British player who wants to try to emulate him I would say: ‘Play on clay as much as you can, and not just to one day win matches at the French Open. 

FRENCH OPEN SHOULD HAVE LET MORE FANS IN 

Over the last 10 days, because of my work for Eurosport, I have been based in Munich. In Germany they are steadily allowing relatively small but growing crowds at Bundesliga football matches, and at the ATP event in Cologne next week they will be permitting a limited number of fans. 

While I am aware of the different situations in different countries you cannot help thinking that they could have let a few more into Roland Garros beyond the 1,000 per day. 

With the roof closed over the Philippe Chatrier stadium it has been great to see and hear something resembling a proper atmosphere. 

Perhaps they should have brought in more fans than 1,000-a-day at Rolland Garros this year

Perhaps they should have brought in more fans than 1,000-a-day at Rolland Garros this year

Perhaps they should have brought in more fans than 1,000-a-day at Rolland Garros this year

There have been big social distancing gaps between people in an arena that size and you have got to apply some common sense to the times we find ourselves in. 

At least we have managed to salvage some of the tennis season. 

Six or eight weeks ago I was unsure which way it was going to go but overall it seems that a pretty decent job has been done by the US and French Opens. 

Let’s hope there are no unpleasant surprises in the second week. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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UFC 254 LIVE REACTION: Khabib RETIRES, McGregor responds, champ ‘had suffered BROKEN foot and toes’ just WEEKS ago

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ufc 254 live reaction khabib retires mcgregor responds champ had suffered broken foot and toes just weeks ago
OFF PLATFORM KHABIB 4

‘NUMBERS DON’T LIE’

Jon Jones has rejected Khabib Nurmagomedov’s claim he is the best pound-for-pound fighter.

The UFC lightweight champion stretched his unbeaten record as a pro to 29-0 in MMA on Saturday night with victory over Justin Gaethje.

Many felt it was ‘The Eagle’s’ biggest test yet as he took on the American at UFC 254 on Fight Island.

But the Dagestani fighter left everyone in no doubt who the top dog was as he needed less than ten minutes to see off the man dubbed ‘The Highlight’.

Khabib, 32, shocked everybody afterwards by announcing his retirement from MMA.

That is despite him being linked with mega-money matches against old foe Conor McGregor or his hero Georges St. Pierre.

Inside the octagon after his latest win, he said: “There is only one thing I want from UFC, to put me as No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world because I deserve it

However, the current P4P king Jones quickly refuted Khabib’s request.

Writing on Twitter, he wrote: “Until I take that heavily crown, I grant you the spot. Enjoy Champ.”

He then tweeted: “15 world titles, numbers don’t lie.”

‘Bones’ then wrote: “I want to congratulate Khabib for an outstanding career.

“I know he made his father along with millions of fans around the world incredibly proud today.

“May God continue to bless him on his journey.”

The American then added: “Definitely a powerful moment, but my logic is definitely not clouded.”

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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UFC 254 REACTION LIVE: Khabib RETIRES, McGregor messages, champ ‘had suffered BROKEN foot and toes’ just weeks ago

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ufc 254 reaction live khabib retires mcgregor messages champ had suffered broken foot and toes just weeks ago
OFF PLATFORM KHABIB 4

‘NUMBERS DON’T LIE’

Jon Jones has rejected Khabib Nurmagomedov’s claim he is the best pound-for-pound fighter.

The UFC lightweight champion stretched his unbeaten record as a pro to 29-0 in MMA on Saturday night with victory over Justin Gaethje.

Many felt it was ‘The Eagle’s’ biggest test yet as he took on the American at UFC 254 on Fight Island.

But the Dagestani fighter left everyone in no doubt who the top dog was as he needed less than ten minutes to see off the man dubbed ‘The Highlight’.

Khabib, 32, shocked everybody afterwards by announcing his retirement from MMA.

That is despite him being linked with mega-money matches against old foe Conor McGregor or his hero Georges St. Pierre.

Inside the octagon after his latest win, he said: “There is only one thing I want from UFC, to put me as No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world because I deserve it

However, the current P4P king Jones quickly refuted Khabib’s request.

Writing on Twitter, he wrote: “Until I take that heavily crown, I grant you the spot. Enjoy Champ.”

He then tweeted: “15 world titles, numbers don’t lie.”

‘Bones’ then wrote: “I want to congratulate Khabib for an outstanding career.

“I know he made his father along with millions of fans around the world incredibly proud today.

“May God continue to bless him on his journey.”

The American then added: “Definitely a powerful moment, but my logic is definitely not clouded.”

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Who is Khabib Nurmagomedov’s wife, how many children does UFC star have with her, and where do couple live?

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who is khabib nurmagomedovs wife how many children does ufc star have with her and where do couple live

KHABIB NURMAGOMEDOV defended his UFC title at UFC 254, and has now retired as one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the Octagon.

After his famous victory over Conor McGregor, Khabib become a household name – but who is his wife and what do we know about her?

 Khabib married his wife in 2013, but she has kept out of the public eye - this is him with Russian TV presenter Olga Buzova

2

Khabib married his wife in 2013, but she has kept out of the public eye – this is him with Russian TV presenter Olga Buzova

What is the name of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s wife?

The 32-year-old married his better half in June 2013, celebrating their fifth anniversary earlier this year.

But out of respect for his family, her name has never been revealed to the general public.

Khabib has kept his private life private, with his Instagram page having zero pictures of his wife or children.

 Khabib and his wife married in a traditional wedding

2

Khabib and his wife married in a traditional wedding

How many children do they have?

The couple have two children, first welcoming a baby girl on June 1, 2015.

Two years later, Khabib’s wife gave birth to a boy on December 30, 2017.

While it is unknown to the public as to the name of their daughter, it has previously been revealed they called their son Mohammed.

Where do they live?

The Nurmagomedov family reside in Makhachkala in the Republic of Dagestan.

The capital city has suffered trouble following the Second Chechen War that ended in 2009.

In sporting terms, it is more known for its main football club, Anzhi Makhachkala, who signed current Arsenal star Willian and Barcelona legend Samuel Eto’o under the ownership of oligarch Suleyman Kerimov seven years ago.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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