Japan’s Kei Nishikori says he’s gaining in confidence after scoring his first win in over a year on Monday on the comeback trail from elbow surgery.
But he says he needs more matches ahead of the French Open starting in less than two weeks.
Nishikori was the first man from Asia to reach a Grand Slam final when he made it to the 2014 United States Open title clash.
It was also on the hardcourts of Flushing Meadows that the 30-year-old last won a match when he reached the third round last year.
“I was very pleased to be on the court today, first win on the Tour,” Nishikori told reporters after defeating Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4 7-6(3) in the opening round of the Italian Open in Rome.
“I’m still not feeling 100 percent tennis-wise, but I enjoyed. Now it’s important to have as many matches as I can, keep winning.
“I need to start getting into a good tempo, good rhythm.”
Nishikori had surgery on his right elbow after the 2019 United States Open.
He was slated to return last month at Flushing Meadows, but pulled out after testing postive for coronavirus in the lead-up in spite of a later negative test.
The Japanese played at Kitzbuehel in Austria last week, but the former world number four lost his opening match on clay.
“Today was much better than last week, maybe twice better,” he said, trying to build his confidence ahead of the French Open, where the main draw starts on Sept. 27.
“I think at some moments I still don’t have confidence … But little by little I’m getting better,” he said. “If I can have many more matches before French Open, it will be good.”
Nishikori needed six match-points to secure his opening win and could next play three-times Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, who will meet Italian qualifier Lorenzo Musetti later on Tuesday.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Italy votes in referendum on downsizing parliament
Polls closed in Italy late on Sunday in the first of two days of voting on a constitutional referendum over the slimming down of parliament.
Voting is also on in local elections expected to favour the right-wing national opposition bloc.
Voting continues on Monday, with polls opening at 7 am (0500 GMT) and closing at 3 pm.
Results are expected later the same day.
Some 51.6 million people are eligible to vote in the referendum on reducing the number of lawmakers in Italy’s two chambers by roughly one third.
The Chamber of Deputies would go from 630 lawmakers to 400, and the Senate from 315 to 200.
By Sunday evening, voter turnout had reached 29.98 per cent in the four of the seven regions for which figures were available, according to the Interior Ministry.
In the referendum on the planned reduction of the parliament, 29.71 per cent of the 51.6 million eligible voters had cast their votes.
Observers have feared a low turnout amid concerns about people being infected with the coronavirus.
No minimum turnout is needed for the vote to be valid, amid expectations that the reform will be approved.
Elections are also taking place in seven regions and just under 1,000 cities, including Venice in the north and Reggio Calabria in the south.
The main national government parties – the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) – have been bracing for a poor showing.
The national opposition, led by Matteo Salvini of the far-right League, is expecting to win in at least three regions, including Veneto and Liguria in the north.
The PD is confident of victory only in Campania, the region around Naples, and is desperate to avoid defeat in Tuscany, a former leftist stronghold where a League candidate could achieve a historic win.
The M5S has no strong candidates, but is likely to console itself with a referendum win.
It considers reducing the size of parliament part of its quest to end perks and privileges for politicians.
Critics of the constitutional reform say it produces minimal cost savings and risks undermining the democratic system by weakening the authority of parliament.
In any case, a defeat for the government parties is unlikely to topple Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, as the PD and M5S have strong incentives to try to hold on to national power together.
One is the prospect of managing more than 200 billion euros (238 billion dollars) in loans and grants from the European Union due to arrive from 2021 as part of the bloc’s post-coronavirus recovery fund.
Another is the opportunity to influence the parliamentary election of the next Italian president, due in January 2022, and avoid snap national polls, which the PD and M5S would likely lose.
Pandemic-era restrictions were in place across all polling stations, many of which are located in school buildings.
Voters currently in self-isolation due to the coronavirus were permitted to vote from home on submitting an application on a one-off basis.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
NCDC records 97 new COVID-19 infections, total cases now 57, 242
The NCDC disclosed this on its official twitter handle on Sunday .
It added that three persons died of COVID-19 complications while 138 patients, who recovered at various isolation centres across the country the same day, were discharged.
Based on the figures released, Lagos state recorded the highest number of infections with 46 new cases.
The data released also indicated that Kwara recorded 12 new infections, Rivers 11, and Adamawa 4.
Others were Niger – 4, Ogun – 4, Osun – 4, Ekiti – 3, Imo – 3, Kaduna – 3, Plateau – 2, and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – 1.
“Till date, 57, 242 cases have been confirmed, 48, 569 cases have been discharged, and 1,098 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the FCT,” the centre said.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Emmanuel Yashim
Golf: DeChambeau muscles his way to United States Open victory
A bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau bashed his way to a six-shot United States Open victory on Sunday, silencing any lingering questions as to whether his brawny game could translate to the major stage.
World number nine DeChambeau, who began the day two shots back of United States Open debutant Matthew Wolff, clinched his first major title with a mix of jaw-dropping drives and clutch putts.
He shot a virtually flawless three-under-par 67 to reach six under for the tournament at Winged Foot.
“On nine is when I first thought, ‘OK, this could be reality’,” DeChambeau, speaking during the trophy presentation, said of his mindset after an eagle at the par-five ninth.
“I made that eagle, long eagle putt and I shocked myself by making it, too, and I thought to myself, ‘I could do it’. And then immediately after, I said, ‘nope, you’ve got to focus on each and every hole’.”
Wolff (75), appearing in only his second major, was one shot back of DeChambeau at the turn but fell apart over a back nine that included two bogeys and a double-bogey.
A fearless DeChambeau, whose final round included the eagle, two birdies and a bogey, attacked at every chance.
For his efforts was the only player to break par in the final round as he cruised to a maiden major at his 16th attempt.
He attacked Winged Foot all week like few other golfers can.
So confident in his approach, DeChambeau unleashed his driver on practically every par-four and par-five hole as he figured the birdie chances would outweigh the risk that Winged Foot’s nasty rough creates.
DeChambeau grabbed the solo lead after five holes, hit a perfectly-paced 40-foot eagle putt at the ninth to maintain a one-shot cushion.
It was a tournament that came down to a two-horse race between him and Wolff as they made the turn.
The 21-year-old Wolff was bidding to become the first player to win the United States Open on his tournament debut since Francis Ouimet in 1913.
But he bogeyed the 10th and 14th holes, before a double-bogey at 16.
“I battled hard. Things just didn’t go my way,” said Wolff. “But first United States Open, second-place is something to be proud of and hold your head up high for.”
Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (73) birdied the last to finish alone in third-place, a distant eight shots back of DeChambeau.
He was one shot clear of Harris English (73), who made a double-bogey at the first where he lost his tee shot.
Xander Schauffele (74) looked ready to make a back-nine charge after making the turn fresh off back-to-back birdies.
But the world number seven made five consecutive bogeys from the 13th and finished in fifth-place.
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (75), who finished in a share of eighth-place, was almost left in a state of disbelief at DeChambeau’s win.
This was given his inaccuracy off the tee at a tournament renowned for its thick rough.
“I don’t really know what to say because that’s just the complete opposite of what you think a United States Open champion does,” said McIlroy.
“Look, he’s found a way to do it. Whether that’s good or bad for the game, I don’t know.
“But it’s just – it’s not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It’s kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
15th Abuja Int’l trade fair to feature 500 exhibitors – ACCI
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says its 15th Abuja International Trade Fair will feature not more than 500 local and foreign exhibitors.
ACCI Media Officer Latifat Opoola who made the disclosure on Sunday said the fair would hold in October at the Abuja Trade and Convention with the theme “Trade and Commerce Beyond Borders”.
According to Opoola, this year’s event in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols will only showcase indoor and virtual exhibitions to make room for a controlled environment that will ensure social distancing.
She noted that an average attendance of 100,000 visitors from both Nigeria and 150 countries, including U.K., United States, UAE, India, Malasyia and China would participate both physically and virtually at the fair.
She said other countries like Saudi Arabia, Ghana, South Africa, among others, were expected to participate.
She noted that over the years, the fair had been an amazing trade platform for international and domestic industry professionals, leading brands and MSMEs to transact, share market insights, cutting edge technology and expertise in an interactive environment.
“This year’s event will provide a platform for sharing of trade, investment and market opportunity as well as information. It will also help buyers, investors and traders to foster business relationships.
“Over 500 exhibitors from within and outside Nigeria in all sectors of the economy, including Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining, Electricity, Oil and Gas, Tourism, Textile, Transport, Telecommunications, Financial and Service sectors are expected to participate.
“With a team of trade professionals, we are persistent in providing a conducive trading atmosphere for our exhibitors, which will lead to strategies and tactics needed to innovate, grow and promote businesses,” she said in a statement.
The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on Oct. 22, while the closing ceremony holds on Nov. 2.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Peter Ejiofor)