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‘Been a long day’: Ruud through at Australian Open with 1am finish

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'Been a long day': Ruud through at Australian Open with 1am finish
GLOBALTIMESPAKISTAN

Norwegian second seed Casper Ruud battled through to the Australian Open second round on Tuesday as he kicked off a campaign that could see him become world number one.

The 24-year-old ground down Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena in a match that finished after 1:00am.

He will next play American Jenson Brooksby who toppled Australian Christopher O Connell.

“It s been a long day,” said the world number three Ruud, whose build-up suffered an unexpected blow when he lost his first match at the Auckland Classic warm-up tournament.

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“I m very eager to hopefully have a good tournament and this was a good start, a tough one.

“Tomas played well, very aggressive, but I was able to come back and stay strong towards the end, so very happy,” he added.

Ruud missed last year s event with an ankle injury, but recovered to enjoy a breakthrough 2022, reaching the final of both the French and US Opens.

He had a chance to top the rankings when he took on Carlos Alcaraz in the Flushing Meadows final, but the Spanish teenager won in four sets to take the title and with it the number one spot.

Alcaraz is not in Melbourne as he nurses an injury and three players could take the top ranking from him by lifting the trophy.

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They include Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic, Greek third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Ruud.

According to the governing body ATP, Ruud can also become world number one by simply reaching the final, as long as neither Djokovic nor Tsitsipas win the title.

If none of those scenarios play out, the reign of Alcaraz will continue. 

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Attempted rape charge against Man Utd star Greenwood dropped

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Attempted rape charge against Man Utd star Greenwood dropped

Charges of attempted rape and assault against Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood have been dropped by prosecutors, British police said on Thursday.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material coming to light were factors in their decision to stop the case against the 21-year-old.

Greater Manchester Police said it was “only fair” that they announce that Greenwood, who was arrested in January last year, would no longer face criminal proceedings “given the significant media coverage of this case”.

The striker originally faced one count of attempted rape, one count of controlling and coercive behaviour and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, all against the same complainant.

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“In this case a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction,” the CPS said in a statement.

“In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.”

Greenwood, who has played 129 times for United, scoring 35 goals, last played for United against West Ham in January last year.

“Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this,” said chief superintendent Michaela Kerr.

“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.

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“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.

Greenwood, a product of United’s academy, and once considered one of English football’s brightest prospects, made his senior debut for the Red Devils in a Champions League victory at Paris Saint-Germain in March 2019.

He signed a new contract at United in February 2021 that runs until at least 2025.

The forward made his England debut against Iceland in September 2020, but he and Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden were sent home after breaching the team’s coronavirus guidelines.

Nike suspended and later terminated its sponsorship deal with the player, while Electronic Arts confirmed his removal from active squads on its FIFA 22 game following his arrest. 

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Potter’s free-spending Chelsea can ‘attack’ end of the season

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Potter's free-spending Chelsea can 'attack' end of the season

Chelsea manager Graham Potter says he is excited by the challenge of getting the best out of a bloated squad after the Blues smashed spending records during the January transfer window.

World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez could make his debut against Fulham on Friday after joining for a British-record 121 million euros ($132 million, £107 million) from Benfica.

Ukraine’s Mykhailo Mudryk could also make his Stamford Bridge bow after joining from Shakhtar Donetsk for a fee that could rise to 100 million euros.

Chelsea signed eight players in total in January, taking their total spend in the first season under new ownership to more than £500 million.

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Despite the investment, Chelsea sit 10th in the Premier League table and were dumped out of both domestic cups by Manchester City.

Potter’s men have a 10-point deficit to make up if they are to catch the top four.

And the former Brighton boss faces a tricky task ahead, unable to register all the new arrivals for the latter stages of this season’s Champions League.

“It’s exciting,” said Potter, who only arrived at the club in September.

“It’s a test for me of course and for the staff and everybody but it’s an exciting one. We’ve got a lot of really good players.

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“We have to create an environment where there’s healthy competition and they can push each other and at the same time understand that there’s going to be frustration at times because only 11 can play.

“But we’ve got a lot of important games and we need to improve our results so it’s about playing, supporting the team and being ready to play.”

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Potter suddenly has a wealth of options at his disposal, with Chelsea’s long injury list beginning to clear.

Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Raheem Sterling and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are available again for selection.

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“There is a youthful dynamic and you can see the type of player we’ve tried to sign. We are trying to build something for now and the future,” Potter said, referring to Chelsea’s much-criticised transfer policy.

“We’ve had a pretty unprecedented injury situation, lots of things have happened. We’ve learnt a lot and we can attack the second half of the season.”

Argentina’s Fernandez was signed with minutes to spare as protracted negotiations with Benfica went down to the wire on Tuesday’s deadline day.

But not all of Chelsea’s business was completed — a move to send Hakim Ziyech to Paris Saint-Germain on loan collapsed after the paperwork was not finished in time.

“I’m the head coach so I don’t get too involved in the nitty gritty of deadline day,” said Potter.

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“I’ve been involved too long to know that there are some things you can’t control and I couldn’t do anything at that point to change things. I found out that we had signed Enzo when it was all done and I’m very pleased, because he is a fantastic player.” 

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France defender Varane announces international retirement at 29

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France defender Varane announces international retirement at 29

a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life. Each time I wore this special blue shirt I felt immense pride,” said Varane.

Varane’s decision to call time on his France career leaves Kylian Mbappe as the frontrunner for the captaincy, with Didier Deschamps’ side set to begin Euro 2024 qualifying at the end of March with a double-header against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

The former Real Madrid star played every minute of his country’s triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign as France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the final.

He was one of five French players who also started the 2022 final defeat by Argentina on penalties, recovering from a leg injury that ruled him out of the start of the tournament.

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“I’ll definitely miss these moments with you, but the time has come for the new generation to take over,” he said, thanking Deschamps and his coaching staff as well as the supporters.

“We have a group of talented young players who are ready to step up and who deserve their chance.”

Deschamps paid tribute to Varane and praised him for the leadership qualities he had brought to the team throughout his time with France.

“I cannot turn this page without some emotion, given the bonds we have formed,” said Deschamps, who gave Varane his international debut in a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Georgia.

“I respect his decision even if it may seem a bit unfortunate given everything he was able to do with the national team through to the World Cup, during which he behaved like the leader we know he is from start to finish.” 

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