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Sports

Tennis: Federer thrilled with 2017 rebound

Roger Federer said Monday he is pinching himself over a resurgent season that has added two more Grand Slams to the Swiss great s trophy case and put 100 career singles titles within reach. Following an injury-plagued 2016 in which he failed to lift any hardware, Federer has thrived on a reduced schedule aimed at easing the strain on his …

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Football: Candreva ensures Italy seeded in play-offs

– Antonio Candreva lifted Italy to a 1-0 win over Albania in their final World Cup qualifying game on Monday that assures the Azzurri are top seeds for November s play-offs. Gian Piero Ventura s side were already through to next month s play-offs, but desperately needed a win in Shkoder to be guaranteed the status of top seeds in …

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Football: More history for Iceland, Serbia clinch World Cup spot

Iceland qualified for the World Cup for the first time after beating Kosovo 2-0 on Monday, while Serbia clinched a spot at next year s finals with a 1-0 win over Georgia. Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Gudmundsson scored in Reykjavik as Iceland, with a population of just 330,000, became the smallest country to advance to the World Cup …

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Football: Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar lead Ballon d’Or nominees

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar headline an impressive 30-man shortlist unveiled on Monday for the 2017 Ballon d Or world footballer of the year award. Portugal superstar Ronaldo is attempting to match Lionel Messi s record by winning the prize for a fifth time after his starring role in Real Madrid s first La Liga and Champions League double …

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Xavi open to being Qatar World Cup 2022 coach

Xavi Hernandez said he s open to being Qatar s coach when it hosts the 2022 World Cup and rebuffed his critics by claiming he is “very proud” to be in Doha. The Barcelona great, 37, who currently plays in Qatar for Al Sadd, told AFP he is “90 percent” certain to retire at the end of this season and …

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Nadal ‘destroys’ agitated Kyrgios to win China Open

– Rafael Nadal won his sixth title of another remarkable year by beating an agitated Nick Kyrgios at the China Open on Sunday, while unseeded Caroline Garcia stunned the new number one. The 16-time Grand Slam champion Nadal saw the Australian Kyrgios hit with a penalty point as the Spanish number one eased to a 6-2, 6-1 victory on the …

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Formula One: Arrivederci, Arrivabene? Five talking points

– Five talking points from the Japanese Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton’s victory on Sunday: How many Ferrari mechanics does it take to change a spark plug? The sight of Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene looking glumly at the floor after Sebastian Vettel’s early retirement told a story in Suzuka. A week after a fuming Ferrari president Sergio Marchione spoke …

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Tennis: China Open needs Chinese stars, says co-director

The China Open is finally getting the international recognition it deserves but it also needs successful Chinese players to make an impact, the co-tournament director says. Thomas Ross, a veteran of the tennis scene in the United States, was brought in this year to help boost the overseas profile of China’s biggest tennis tournament. The annual event this year attracted …

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Football: Moment of truth as Argentina seek World Cup berth

The once unfathomable prospect of a World Cup without Lionel Messi and Argentina could become reality on Tuesday as South America’s thrilling 2018 qualification battle reaches its climax. Two years after Argentina kicked off their troubled campaign with a 2-0 defeat at home to Ecuador, Jorge Sampaoli’s side travel to Quito to face La Tri once more with their hopes …

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What ban? Chinese in thrall to tennis ‘goddess’ Sharapova

One fellow player labelled her “a cheater” and she is said to be unpopular in the locker room, but Maria Sharapova remains a crowd favourite in China despite her doping ban. “Welcome back goddess,” said one banner at the China Open in Beijing this week, while a Russian flag had the words: “I got your back Maria.”

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