PARIS: Australia took the deciding doubles rubber to beat France 2-1 in the Davis Cup group stage in Hamburg on Thursday, while the US saw off Kazakhstan.
In the second tie in the four-team Group C for both nations, Richard Gasquet gave France the lead when he beat Jason Kubler 6-4, 6-2 in the opening singles.
Alex de Minuar leveled for Australia, beating Benjamin Bonzi 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, before Max Purcell and Matthew Edben won the deciding rubber 6-4, 6-4 against Nicolas Mahut and Arthur Rinderknech.
Australia top the group with two wins out of two, though hosts Germany can draw level if they beat Belgium. France have lost both their ties.
The Americans did not allow a late finish to their opening tie against Britain in the early hours of Thursday morning affect them against Kazakhstan in Group D.
Tommy Paul thrashed Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1, 6-4 in Glasgow to put the US ahead, before Taylor Fritz clinched their second straight win by edging a dramatic contest with Alexander Bublik.
The world No. 12 saved four set points in the first set en route to a 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 6-3 victory.
“Last night was a tough one, and after getting that win it was important to build on that and hopefully not be here again at 1am,” Fritz told daviscupfinals.com.
“Any time I play Alex is really tough. He’s just awkward to play against.
“I rebounded in the third, changed my strategy a bit, and got the win.”
Bublik and Aleksandr Nedovyesov gave the Kazakhs a consolation doubles success by beating Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock, whose late-night triumph had downed Britain, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6).
Elsewhere, Serbia bounced back from their opening loss to Spain in Group B by beating South Korea, with wins for Dusan Lajovic and Miomir Kecmanovic giving them an unassailable 2-0 lead ahead of the doubles in Valencia.
Nam Ji-sung and Song Min-kyu cruised past Nikola Cacic and Filip Krajinovic in the doubles to give the Koreans a match win.
Lajovic played the opening singles rubber having played the doubles against Spain the previous day, also not finishing until gone midnight.
“It definitely wasn’t easy. We didn’t know who was going to play the singles,” he said.
“I went to bed at 4am. I didn’t sleep well.”
Croatia also managed to put a defeat behind them with a tense success against Sweden.
Eilas Ymer beat Borna Gojo in straight sets to put Sweden, who beat Argentina in the first Group A tie, ahead.
But Cincinnati Masters champion Borna Coric beat Elias’ brother Mikael Ymer in three sets and Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic completed the comeback by seeing off the Ymers 7-5, 6-3.
BARCELONA, Spain: Carlos Alcaraz’s biggest fans had flocked see the world’s new top-ranked player in his homecoming to Spain.
Instead, they witnessed Felix Auger-Aliassime beat their new idol before staying on the hard court to secure a second victory in doubles and help Canada score a 2-1 upset win over Spain in the Davis Cup group phase on Friday.
Alcaraz lost 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-2 to a superb Auger-Aliassime, who endured the partisan crowd and tilted the match at Valencia his way after the 19-year-old Spaniard dug deep to claim the first-set tiebreaker.
“Felix is a beast. Physically and mentally, Felix is one of the best in the world,” Alcaraz said after his first match since winning the US Open last weekend to become the youngest man to rise to the top of the ATP rankings.
“I didn’t come in very good physical condition,” he added. “It was a very tough day, but I have to say congratulations to him because he played an unbelievable game.”
As the pavilion roared for Alcaraz, Auger-Aliassime coolly responded by surgically placing shot after shot exactly where he wanted. He dominated on his serve with 16 aces and eventually broke Alcaraz late in the second set and twice in the third.
“He is the world No. 1 and big credit to him for that, but today I think I was a little bit better in the third set,” the 13th-ranked Auger-Aliassime said. “I wasn’t going to let my team down with my fighting spirit.”
Roberto Bautista gave Spain the first point after he fought back for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win against Vasek Pospisil.
With no time to recover, Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil showed no sign of being worn down when they came from behind to beat Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martínez 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the decider.
Canada next plays Serbia on Saturday while Spain faces South Korea on Sunday to determine which two advance to the quarterfinals in November in the southern Spanish city of Málaga.
Spain beat Serbia 3-0 on Wednesday while Alcaraz was resting after jetting home from New York where he won his first Grand Slam singles title on Sunday after a grueling run that included three consecutive five-set victories.
Before the Davis Cup tie, Alcaraz was busy signing autographs and posing for photos after practice. He received the biggest applause when the Spain team was presented and he was introduced as the “new world No. 1.”
After the match, he didn’t focus on the loss, but rather the joy he got from being back home.
“I wanted to come back to Spain, I mean to share this moment to be No. 1 and to be US Open champion with all my people,” Alcaraz said.
After Spanish fans had to stay up practically all night to watch his matches at the US Open due to the time difference, this was the first chance many of his supporters had to watch him play at home since May when he won the Madrid Open. Alcaraz beat Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in the capital in what many saw as Nadal passing the torch to his Spanish successor.
Red and yellow flags were draped over railings at the pavilion, including one with the name of Alcaraz’s home region, Murcia, painted in big black letters. Valencia, on the Mediterranean coast, is about 2 1/2 hours north of Alcaraz’s hometown of El Palmar, population 24,000.
Alcaraz had only one previous meeting with Auger-Aliassime, at the 2021 US Open quarterfinals when the Spaniard had to retire due to injury.
While Alcaraz arrived from a tiring two weeks in the US, Auger-Aliassime played singles and doubles on Tuesday to help Canada beat South Korea in their Davis Cup opener.
Unable to touch Auger-Aliassime’s serve, Alcaraz summoned more cheers from the stands, which included his parents. He pumped his fist toward captain Sergi Bruguera and personal coach Juan Carlos Ferrero after hard-won points.
That proved enough for Alcaraz to eke out the first-set tiebreaker after Auger-Aliassime’s untimely errors.
But Auger-Aliassime never lost the initiative. Canada captain Frank Dancevic jumped out of his court-side seat to cheer when Auger-Aliassime finally broke Alcaraz late in the second set. The Canadian poured it on.
Also on Friday, the Netherlands advanced after beating Andy Murray’s Britain 2-1 in Glasgow. The result also meant the United States advanced from Group D.
Germany and Australia advanced from Group C after the Germans beat Belgium 2-1, while Italy defeated Argentina 2-1 in Bologna in Group A.
VERSAILLES, France: A former France and Paris Saint-Germain player was placed in pre-trial detention Friday, charged with aggravated violence and “criminal association” over an attack on teammate Kheira Hamraoui last November, prosecutors said.
Aminata Diallo, 27, was detained Friday evening at the behest of the prosecutor’s office in Versailles, near Paris, after police arrested her and took her into custody.
Four other suspects, men allegedly involved in the attack, have also been charged over the attack last November on Hamraoui, 32.
Two of them have been charged with aggravated violence.
“While in custody the men suspected of participating in the attack said someone had explained to them they had to prevent Hamraoui from playing,” a judicial source told AFP.
Hamraoui, who has 39 caps for her country, had only returned to PSG months before the attack after a successful spell with Barcelona, where she won three titles and the Champions League last year.
Investigators suspect the motive for the attack on her was professional rivalry as Diallo was competing with the veteran for a midfield starting spot.
Diallo denies any involvement with the attack.
Her lawyer Mourad Battikh was unavailable for comment Friday evening.
A source close to the inquiry said Diallo “did not say much” during Friday questioning, adding that “she did not recognize participation (in the attack) before swiftly invoking her right to silence.”
Of the four men under investigation, one aged 19 and the others in their early 20s, one was released from custody but remains under investigation.
Diallo, first detained in the wake of the attack, was arrested for the second time following the detention of the four men earlier in the week.
A judicial source told AFP the two men had implicated Diallo in the attack under questioning, though she has denied any involvement.
Diallo was driving Hamraoui, a star PSG midfielder, home from a club dinner on November 4, 2021, when they were allegedly forced to stop by two masked men.
Hamraoui was then dragged out and beaten on the legs with an iron bar, resulting in injuries that required stitches in hospital.
“It was an ambush. These people were waiting for me behind a truck. They were at the right place at the right time. How could they have been so well informed?” she told French daily L’Equipe in June.
According to media reports, Hamraoui also told police she suspected Diallo might be involved because of the unusual route she took home, and the slow speed of their vehicle when the two attackers sprang out to stop the car.
Since the attack, Hamraoui’s defense team has said she has been the target of harassment campaigns fomented by fellow teammates over the suspicions against Diallo, which have impacted team morale and PSG’s performance.
She has been kept apart from fellow teammates since the start of the 2022-23 season, though the experienced international — twice a Champions League winner with Lyon — insists she intends to see through her PSG contract until June 2023.
The sporting director of PSG’s women’s team, Sabrina Delannoy, says Hamraoui does not feature in their plans, however, for the rest of the season.
Diallo, who has been capped seven times by France, is without a club since the expiration of her PSG contract.
The attack shook the wealthy Qatar-owned club and the French women’s league more broadly, just as women’s football is growing in popularity.
Clubs across Europe have plowed money into women’s clubs in recent years, with PSG attracting 16,000 supporters to their match against Real Madrid just a week after the November 2021 assault.
NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe believes Loris Karius has a point to prove at Newcastle United, but not for the reasons many believe.
The Magpies’ head coach has handed the German keeper a fresh start in the Premier League after his controversial, stop-start spell at Liverpool was cut short last summer. The 29-year-old was a free transfer signing after Karl Darlow picked up an injury and the club’s coaching staff wanted to improve on third choice Mark Gillespie.
It’s a move that has raised eyebrows, especially given the high-profile errors that go hand-in-hand with Karius’ name. The new United signing was, of course, to blame for two goals in Liverpool’s 2018 Champions League final loss to Real Madrid, a game which has haunted the player’s career ever since.
However, while Howe believes the player arrives on Tyneside with something to prove, it is not because of that night in Kyiv four years ago.
“I think there has been a period where he hasn’t had that day-to-day contact with a team,” he said of Karius, who is expected to be on the bench for tomorrow’s visit of AFC Bournemouth to St. James’ Park.
“I think he’s improved and got better with every training session we’ve had. Certainly, he’s been really good with the team.
“You don’t want to bring someone in who doesn’t want to play and who can’t play. He can do both. He’s pushing and trained very well.”
When asked about Karius’ Champions League final errors, Howe said: “I haven’t really gone into any depth into his career with him yet, he’s only been here minimal time. But every player that comes in has a point to prove, depending how you look at it.
“We certainly want to help him get to the best levels he’s capable of. From what I’ve seen in training I’ve been very impressed by him, not just his performances but his conduct and how he’s carried himself. He’s fitting into a group that has a really good feel about them, so he’s fitted into that really well.”
The Karius move only materialized when usual stand-in keeper Darlow suffered an ankle injury, which looks set to keep him out of action for the next two months.
It’s understood, having let Martin Dubravka go to Manchester United on loan, the club were unconvinced Gillespie could provide adequate cover for in-form No. 1 Nick Pope, and so they went for Karius.
Howe said: “The injury to Darlow was strange how he picked it up. He was just doing goalkeeping training with two or three goalkeepers and twisted his ankle from a normal shot action.
“With that news, and our 25-man squad still being open at that stage, we decided it was wise to move for someone with experience who could complement the goalkeepers we have, and Loris was the outstanding candidate when we looked at the goalkeepers available, which was quite a small pool.
“He’s a really good age and had some incredible experiences in his career. He’s trained very well.”
Meanwhile, Howe is keeping his cards close to his chest in relation to whether key trio Bruno Guimaraes, Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson will return to the fold for the clash with the Cherries.
He said: “Everyone has improved but I’ll leave my team news until the time when we get it. It’s been a difficult period for us but hopefully we’re coming out of that. They’re big players for us, we need them back quickly.”
It’s understood that of the trio, Brazilian Guimaraes is the closest to a return before the Premier League closes down for next week’s international break.
BRUSSLES: Romelu Lukaku will miss Belgium’s upcoming Nations League matches with injury as coach Roberto Martinez named a 30-man squad on Friday.
Belgium’s all-time record goalscorer, on loan at Inter Milan from Chelsea, has not played since August due to a muscle problem.
Rennes winger Jeremy Doku is also out injured, with Martinez giving a first call-up to 18-year-old Anderlecht defender Zeno Debast.
Belgium will host Wales in Brussels on September 22 and take on the Netherlands in Amsterdam three days later in their final competitive game before the World Cup in Qatar.
The Belgians trail leaders the Netherlands by three points in Group A4 heading into their last two matches.
Belgium open their World Cup campaign against Canada in Al Rayyan on November 23, before further Group F games against Morocco and Croatia.
Belgium Nations League squad:
Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid/ESP), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge), Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg/GER), Matz Sels (Strasbourg/FRA)
Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Antwerp), Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Arthur Theate (Rennes/FRA), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Timothy Castagne (Leicester City/ENG), Dedryck Boyata (Club Brugge), Zeno Debast (Anderlecht), Jason Denayer (free agent), Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Wout Faes (Leicester City/ENG)
Midfielders: Axel Witsel (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City/ENG), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/ENG), Amadou Onana (Everton/ENG), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Alexis Saelemaekers (AC Milan/ITA), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Leander Dendoncker (Aston Villa/ENG)
Forwards: Michy Batshuayi (Fenerbahce/TUR), Lois Openda (Lens/FRA), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid/ESP), Leandro Trossard (Brighton/ENG), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Charles De Ketelaere (AC Milan/ITA), Dries Mertens (Galatasaray/TUR), Dodi Lukebakio (Hertha Berlin/GER)
BERLIN: Borussia Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl says his side have an “obligation” when they host Schalke in the 99th Ruhr derby of the Bundesliga era on Saturday.
While the derby is widely considered the biggest and most storied in German football history, the sides’ contrasting fortunes in recent seasons highlight the growing gap between them.
Speaking after his side’s narrow 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday, Kehl turned his focus to the “insanely important” game.
“I’m proud of our performance but for me it goes hand in hand with some obligations,” Kehl said late on Wednesday.
“It’s an insanely important game for us. (We need) to put in a really good performance again before the national team break.”
Dortmund gave one of the best displays of coach Edin Terzic’s reign against City and looked set for an unlikely victory thanks to a goal from Jude Bellingham, before late strikes from John Stones and former BVB striker Erling Haaland allowed the home side to snatch the win.
Even if the club went home with zero points, Kehl said Dortmund could take plenty out of the performance.
“If the team performs like they did today, then there can be only one winner on Saturday.”
While Dortmund may have gone toe-to-toe with the Champions League favorites in the lead-up to the bitter clash, Schalke come into the match on the back of their first Bundesliga win in 483 days — a 3-1 defeat of fellow Ruhr rivals Bochum.
Speaking on Thursday, Schalke coach Frank Kramer sought to get inside Dortmund’s head, saying the visitors would look to channel the spirit of fellow promoted side Werder Bremen who scored three late goals in four minutes to beat Dortmund 3-2 in August.
“Performing with determination and looking for a chance at any time — that’s what Bremen did in Dortmund and got the better of them,” Kramer said.
“They hit Dortmund where they didn’t expect it.
“We know it’s a special game. We want to rock it.”
Werder Bremen’s impressive rise under coach Ole Werner saw them promoted back to the Bundesliga at their first attempt — and it would have been close to impossible without Niclas Fuellkrug.
Fuellkrug and strike partner Marvin Ducksch scored 60 percent of Bremen’s goals in their promotion season.
While Ducksch has been quiet this season, Fuellkrug’s five goals in six matches, out of his team’s total of 12, has him atop the Bundesliga scoring charts.
His form is so strong he has an outside chance of making Germany coach Hansi Flick’s World Cup squad — a fact his club manager Werner is well aware of.
“Niclas is currently the most accurate striker Germany has. That shows how good he is and what quality he has. But the squad decision is made by others.”