Sport Djokovic, Nadal into last eight as Italian Open prepares for fans
Up to 1,000 fans to be allowed in for Italian Open tennis
ROME (AP) — Up to 1,000 spectators will be allowed in to watch the semifinals and finals of the Italian Open tennis tournament, the government said Friday. The tournament, which features nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic, has so far been played without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Starting with the semifinals and finals of the (Italian Open), up to 1,000 spectators can watch all sports competitions that are held outdoors and which scrupulously respect the rules in terms of social distancing, masks and reserved seating,” Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said.
World number one Novak Djokovic and defending champion Rafael Nadal welcomed the decision to allow a limited number of fans to watch the Italian Open as the top men's seeds advanced to the quarter-finals on Friday.
Italy's government have said that 1,000 spectators can be present at the Foro Italico from Sunday's semi-finals, with matches so far being played in empty courts.
Nurse tells German court of her role in sports blood doping
A nurse, one of the co-defendants in the trial of a German sports doctor accused of masterminding an international blood-doping network, described on Friday how she helped athletes dope with illicit blood transfusions. Sports physician Mark Schmidt, 42, and four co-defendants who allegedly aided him, stand trial in Munich accused of helping at least two dozen athletes undergo blood transfusions to boost performance. So far, 23 athletes -- mainly skiers and cyclists -- from eight countries are known to be involved.If found guilty, Schmidt and his co-defendants face jail for up to 10 years under anti-doping legislation introduced in Germany in 2015.
"If it's safe enough, fantastic," said Nadal after sweeping past Serb Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3 in his third round match.
Djokovic battled past fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (9/7), 6-3, to remain on a collision course for a final showdown with Nadal for a second conscutive year.
"A thousand people is better than no people, for sure, because we all miss the fans," said Djokovic.
Men's fourth seed Matteo Berrettini, the only Italian remaining in the tournament, regretted he could not benefit from spectators for his quarter-final against Norway's Casper Rudd on Saturday.
"A thousand people isn't insignificant, it's a thousand motivations," said Berrettini.
Nadal proved too strong for 25th-ranked Lajovic, who had valiantly but vainly launched a fightback after trailing 4-0 in the second set to the Spaniard.
Djokovic out to make amends in Paris for U.S. Open fiasco
Djokovic out to make amends in Paris for U.S. Open fiascoBELGRADE (Reuters) - If recent form is anything to go by, world number one Novak Djokovic is perfectly poised to launch a challenge for his second French Open title and an 18th major honour after one of the lowest ebbs of his trophy-laden career.
But Krajinovic made long-time friend Djokovic work hard to reach the quarter-finals for the 14th time, just one fewer than Nadal.
Djokovic double faulted on the first of his three set points in the first-set tiebreak but a quick break in the second put him through in a tournament he has won four times.
"Never easy, I think, emotionally to play against someone that is one of my best friends for many years," said Djokovic.
The top seed is warming up for the French Open in 10 days time, having made the switch from the American hard court tour where he won the Cincinnati tournament played in Flushing Meadows before the US Open from which he was disqualified.
He next plays German qualifier Dominik Koepfer who ended the run of Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-0.
World number two Nadal takes on Argentine eighth seed Diego Schwartzman, who dropped a set before recovering to see off Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Djokovic insists 'won't make same New York mistake twice'
Novak Djokovic insisted Saturday there will be no repeat of his sensational US Open disqualification at Roland Garros as the world number one promised: "I won't make the same mistake twice". "Of course, I will make sure I don't make the same mistake twice."Djokovic was defaulted in New York when a ball he swiped away in frustration struck a line judge.
Nadal, 34, won his first Rome title back in 2005, and is bidding for a third consecutive crown on clay in the Italian capital and 10th in total.
The 12-time French Open champion is returning to competition, having not played since winning in Acapulco in February.
- Halep, Pliskova advance -
Top women's seed Simona Halep and defending champion Karolina Pliskova also eased into the quarter-finals, along with two-time Rome winner Elina Svitolina.
Halep rallied from 0-3 down in the first set to see off Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska in a 7-5, 6-4 victory in one hour and 28 minutes.
The two-time Rome finalist next meets Yulia Putintseva, who came back from 6-4, 5-2 down to dispatch fellow Kazakh Elena Rybakina, the 10th seed, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2.
"I expect a tough battle but I feel fit," said former French Open champion Halep, a runner-up in Rome in 2017 and 2018 to Svitolina, who got past two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.
Halep said she was looking forward to the "good energy" generated by the crowd.
Thiem faces tough French Open start as Nadal, Serena pursue records
Newly-crowned US Open champion Dominic Thiem must confront his emotions and a testing first-round opponent at Roland Garros on Monday as Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams begin their assault on Grand Slam records. Thiem, the runner-up to Nadal here the past two years, captured his maiden Slam in New York and will try to become the only man in the Open era to win his first two majors at successive tournaments. He has been dealt a challenging draw though, with 2014 US Open Marin Cilic -- who Thiem beat on his title run at Flushing Meadows -- first up on the French Open clay.
"It will interesting and nice to have some people in the stands."
Ninth seed Garbine Muguruza advanced to her sixth quarter-final this year with a straight-sets win over last year's Rome finalist Johanna Konta.
The former French Open winner will next face US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka.
Video: US Open champion Dominic Thiem on his history-making comeback victory (ABC News)
Eagles have one healthy wide receiver on 53-man roster .
The Philadelphia Eagles are perilously thin at wide receiver, with Greg Ward currently the only healthy option at the position on the roster.Yet three games into the season, here they are again with their top three wide receivers either out or possibly unable to play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.