World Sports News in Brief

WTA Tour returns with Palermo Open to mark new normal amid pandemic

Tuesday, 2020-08-04 08:13:41
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Australian Open - Second Round, Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 23, 2020 Croatia's Donna Vekic celebrates during the match against France's Alize Cornet. (Photo: Reuters)
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Nearly five months after the sport was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Donna Vekic became the first player to win a main draw match in the COVID-19 era, beating Arantxa Rus 6-1 6-2 in the first round of the Palermo Ladies Open on Monday (Aug 3).

The claycourt event in Sicily marked the return of the WTA Tour which last held a tournament in March as the sport looks to limp back to a semblance of normality, albeit with strict guidelines in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

* Qatar forward Almoez Ali, topscorer in last year's Asian Cup with a record nine goals, is eligible to play for them, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled on Monday as it dismissed an appeal by the United Arab Emirates.

* Spanish side Fuenlabrada's final match against Deportivo La Coruna that was suspended when several players tested positive for COVID-19 will now go ahead on Wednesday after La Liga made a u-turn on their initial decision. Fuenlabrada had confirmed 28 positives in total in the first team squad and at the club's base in Madrid, forcing La Liga to invoke the force majeure clause and suspend the game permanently.

* The next Serie A season will start on Sept. 19, one week later than originally planned, the Italian league said in a statement on Monday. There will also be a shorter Christmas break than usual and matches will be played on both Jan 3 and Jan 6.

* MotoGP champion Marc Marquez had fresh surgery on Monday to replace a damaged titanium plate inserted after he broke his arm in the July 19 season-opening race in Spain, making him uncertain for Sunday's Czech Grand Prix. His Repsol Honda team said the Spaniard will stay in hospital in Barcelona for 48 hours before being discharged.

* England fast bowler Reece Topley will miss Tuesday's one-day international against Ireland after picking up a groin injury, the country's cricket board said on Monday, two days after he made his international comeback.

* Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte is committed to a three-year project with the club, he said on Monday, two days after his highly critical and typically outspoken outburst raised questions over his future with the Serie A outfit. Conte, in his first season in charge, led Inter to a second-placed finish, their best performance for nine years, but then publicly slammed his employers immediately after Saturday's 2-0 win at Atalanta.

* Denmark's staging of the Tour de France's start, known as the 'Grand Depart', has been pushed back a year to 2022, Danish organisers said in a statement on Monday. The Danish organisation charged with planning the start of the Tour de France has come to an agreement with French Tour organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation, to postpone hosting the first three days of the tour, it said.

* Borussia Moenchengladbach's thousands of cardboard cutouts of fans that were installed late last season when Bundesliga sides were playing in empty stadiums due to the pandemic are now ready to leave the stands, the club said on Monday. Fans who paid 19 euros to put their effigies up in the seats during the home matches in May and June can this week pick them up as their job is done.

* A third of international male cricketers have not been paid or suffered breaches of contract from events regulated by the global governing body or its member nations, the international players' federation said on Monday. The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations said after the release of its 'Men's Global Employment Report 2020' that the International Cricket Council had a duty to protect those working within its regulatory framework.

* Players who deliberately cough at opponents or referees can be shown red or yellow cards under new guidelines issued by England's Football Association amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The instructions to referees taking charge of games when COVID-19 restrictions are in place will come into force immediately and be applied at all levels of the game.

* Rory McIlroy says the coronavirus shutdown has made him more focused on adding to his tally of four major titles, the last of which came in 2014. The 31-year-old will compete in the PGA Championship at Harding Park starting on Thursday, before the US Open and the Masters in September and November. The British Open, the fourth men's major, was cancelled earlier this year.

* Former Chelsea midfielder Eddie Newton has been appointed the permanent manager of Trabzonspor after he guided them to the Turkish Cup title as caretaker, the Super Lig club said. The 48-year-old had taken charge on an interim basis for Trabzonspor's final two games of the season after the departure of Huseyin Cimsir and oversaw a 2-0 win over Alanyaspor in the Cup final to land the club's first trophy in a decade.

* The Tokyo Paralympics may require specific COVID-19 measures to help keep athletes safe as they move between venues, organisers said on Monday. The 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics have been pushed back to next year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Paralympics organisers said on Monday the schedule would remain largely the same for next year. The opening ceremony will take place on Aug. 24 and the Games will feature 539 events at 22 different venues.