Australia, Jan 18 (AP/UNB) — Roger Federer has played on Rod Laver Arena a hundred times and has six Australian Open crowns in his collection of 20 Grand Slam titles.
The 37-year-old tennis statesman has developed a loyal following over 20 consecutive visits for the season-opening major.
After beating 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday on the center court at Melbourne Park, and reaching the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the 63rd time, he raised his racket to the crowd. It was not unlike what a batter scoring a century would do to acknowledge 100 at the nearby Melbourne Cricket Ground.
He'll next play 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who draws a big, vocal crowd to Melbourne Park.
"I think I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly. I knew of the threat of Taylor," said Federer, who has won 97 of his 110 matches overall at Melbourne Park. "I think I had extra focus today."
Tsitsipas had a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili earlier on Margaret Court Arena to become the first Greek man to reach the fourth round at multiple majors. He reached the same round at Wimbledon last year.
Big sections of Greeks sang and waved the blue and white flag and scarves in the crowd. Melbourne has the highest concentration of Greek people of any city outside of Greece, and is getting a lot of attention.
"I'm delighted," he said. "I feel so comfortable. I feel like playing at home.
"It's exciting to have such an atmosphere. I never get to play with so many Greek people supporting me ... and, and, and, Australians!"
While rain prevented early play on outside courts at Melbourne Park for the first 2 ½ hours of Day 5, matches went ahead on the show courts. At one stage, Greek fans had to split their time between the adjoining Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas.
There was no split loyalties on Rod Laver, where local favorite Ash Barty became the first player through to the fourth round a 7-5, 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari.
It was first time a Greek man and woman have advanced to the third round at the same Grand Slam tournament since 1936.
Barty continued the so-called "Barty Party" by ending Sakkari's run, and will play either former champion Maria Sharapova or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the next round.
In the only other completed match by early afternoon, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych beat No. 18-seeded Diego Schwartzman 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Berdych, who has reached the quarterfinals or better in seven of his previous eight trips to Melbourne Park, will meet either 2009 champion Rafael Nadal or local favorite Alex de Minaur in the next round.
Madrid, Jan 18 (AP/UNB) — Barcelona earned a spot in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday, but its continued participation in the tournament remains under threat.
Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele led Barcelona to a comfortable 3-0 win over Levante at Camp Nou Stadium, helping it advance 4-2 on aggregate. However, the Catalan club could be disqualified for allegedly using a suspended player in the first leg.
Levante said it will make a formal complaint to the Spanish soccer federation on Friday, ahead of the draw for the quarterfinals.
The four-time defending Copa champion has denied any wrongdoing for using youth player Juan "Chumi" Brandariz in last week's match in Valencia.
"We don't have any doubts," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "We believe we will be in the draw tomorrow. We did everything right and we won on the field, which is where we had to win."
Levante said Chumi should not have played because of an accumulation of yellow cards with Barcelona's "B'' team, arguing that his suspension applied to the senior team as well, including in Copa matches.
"We prefer to win on the field, but the regulations exist and everyone needs to follow them," Levante coach Paco Lopez said. "Let's see what happens."
The Spanish federation is expected to rule on Levante's complaint before Friday's draw.
Real Madrid was eliminated in the tournament's round of 16 in 2015 for using striker Denis Cheryshev while he was suspended.
"We are surprised, we found out about it by the press," Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives said. "We analyzed the situation and concluded that Chumi's participation was legal."
With Messi back in the lineup after being rested in the first leg, Barcelona easily reversed the 2-1 deficit from the first match. The Argentine playmaker set up goals by Dembele in the 30th and 31st minutes, then sealed the victory by scoring in the 54th.
Barcelona has made it at least to the quarterfinals in the Copa in nine straight seasons. It won the title five times in the last seven years.
Earlier Thursday, Espanyol defeated Villarreal 3-1 at home with two goals by striker Borja Iglesias to advance 5-3 on aggregate, while Real Betis salvaged a 2-2 draw at Real Sociedad to reach the last eight on away goals after a 0-0 first-leg draw.
Real Madrid, Girona, Valencia, Getafe and Sevilla also made it to the quarterfinals. Atletico Madrid was eliminated by Girona on Wednesday.
Dhaka, Jan 17 (UNB) — South African batsman AB de Villiers is joining the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) for the first time. The right-hander arrived in Dhaka on Thursday to join Rangpur Riders, the defending champions.
He will be playing the remaining matches of the league.
Riders roped in Villiers under the direct signing act of BPL. He will join Chris Gayle and Alex Hales in the camp.
Villiers played 261 T20 matches.
Riders played six matches in BPL so far and won only two. Their performance with the bat has been poor.
In his long T20 career, AB scored 6,931 runs with three hundreds and 47 fifties. Before coming to BPL, he played in Mzansi Super League in South Africa for Tshwane Spartans.
He played 10 matches and scored 282 runs.
Dhaka, Jan 17 (UNB) — English opener Jason Roy is all set to join Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
He is joining Sylhet Sixers as a replacement for David Warner who will leave BPL after the ongoing Sylhet phase due to an elbow injury.
Sixers have played five matches so far and won two of them.
Jason is the second English national cricketer after Alex Hales to feature in the ongoing BPL. Alex is playing for defending champions Rangpur Riders.
Sixers will play their next two matches on January 18 and 19 but it is unclear if Jason will be able to play.
The right-hander has played 184 T20 matches and scored 4,815 runs with four hundreds and 31 fifties.
Dhaka, Jan 17 (UNB) — An elbow injury is forcing Sylhet Sixers' batsman David Warner to leave the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) midway.
The left-hander had informed Cricket Australia of pain in his elbow and was called back.
A news published on Cricket Australia’s official website said Warner would return after the ongoing Sylhet phase of BPL. This means, he will be able to play Sylhet’s next two matches scheduled for January 18 and 19.
Sylhet have played five matches in the ongoing BPL and won two. Warner hit two fifties.
Another Australian star Steve Smith had also left BPL due to an elbow injury. He has had a surgery and will have to use an elbow brace for at least for six weeks before the start of his rehabilitation. He may end up missing the Indian Premier League, slated to start from March 23.