Paris, Oct 31 (AP/UNB) — Roger Federer turned down an invitation to play in a planned exhibition match in Saudi Arabia in December which his rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have committed to play in.
Saudi Arabia is under growing pressure from the international community following the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi after he entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He was a Washington Post columnist who had written critically of Saudi Arabia's crown prince.
Tennis stars Djokovic and Nadal have expressed doubt as to whether they will play an exhibition match at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah on Dec. 22, but they have not withdrawn. Both players have said the invitations were made at least one year ago.
Asked in Paris on Tuesday if he was also previously invited, Federer said "they contacted me too, yeah."
The Swiss star was then asked why he turned it down.
"I didn't want to play there at that time," the 20-time Grand Slam champion said. "So, for me, it was a very quick decision."
Amnesty International has urged Nadal and Djokovic not to play.
"Of course I'm aware of the situation. But I had a commitment since one year ago to play there. And my team is talking to them, to analyze the things. That's it," Nadal said when asked his position on Sunday. "It's terrible that one journalist lost (his) life. I know something happened very bad inside there. So we are looking about how evolves the situation and I hope the things will clarify as soon as possible."
Djokovic also made it clear that the decision to play was made a long time ago.
"We have the commitment with them for over a year, actually last year when we were discussing this potential matchup," he said. "It was my professional tennis decision to do that. Of course I know, I'm aware of what's happening, and it's sad, of course."
The top-ranked Serb also stopped short of confirming his presence.
"My team right now is in touch with the people in Saudi Arabia as well as Rafa's and of course we are all talking to understand the situation better," the 14-time Grand Slam champion said Sunday. "Because right now we just don't have obviously enough information, and we have to look into that a bit more and then we'll make our decision soon."
He added: "We have to get more information on what's happening so we can make a rational decision whether it's good to go or not."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the investigation needs to be completed swiftly and wants an extradition request for 18 suspects detained in Saudi Arabia to be put on trial in Istanbul. The country is also asking Saudi Arabia to help locate Khashoggi's body, which still has not been found.
Turkey alleges a hit squad from Saudi Arabia traveled to Istanbul to kill the journalist and then tried to cover it up.
Dhaka, Oct 30 (UNB)- The 55th Infantry Division became champion and the 66th Division finished runners-up in the Bangladesh Army Boxing Championship’ 2018 in Rangpur Cantonment on Tuesday.
Maj Gen Masud Razzak, GOC of the 66th Infantry Division, was the chief guest at the closing ceremony and later he handed over prizes among the winners.
Corporal Wahiduzzaman of the 55th Infantry Division was adjudged as the best boxer while NC(E) Ruhin Reza of the 10th Infantry Division named as the promising boxer of the meet.
A total of 12 teams took part in the championship.
Basel, Oct 29 (AP/UNB) — Roger Federer won his 99th career ATP tour title on Sunday, beating qualifier Marius Copil 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the Swiss Indoors final.
A ninth title at Federer's hometown event in Basel, where he was once a ball boy, matched the nine he has won at the Halle grass-court event in Germany. He closed the gap on the all-time singles titles list to Jimmy Connors, who leads with 109.
Federer blew kisses to a 12,000 crowd in the renovated St. Jakobhalle, which now gives Basel's local hero a bigger main stage.
"It's been a magical week. It was dream run for me," Federer said in his on-court acceptance speech, before his fans' ovation brought tears welling in his eyes.
"To come through and win again here in my hometown, never knowing if this might be your last time ... it obviously means a lot to me and it becomes very emotional," he said later.
The top-seeded Swiss rallied from trailing by a service break in each set against the 93rd-ranked Romanian, whose serve was measured at 243 kph (151 mph) in his opening service game.
Federer clinched minutes after saving a break point, taking his first match-point chance when Copil sent a backhand into the net.
The title was the 37-year-old Federer's first in more than four months since winning on grass at Stuttgart in June.
Federer's 151st singles final on the ATP tour shaped as one of his biggest mismatches by ranking. He has never lost a final to an opponent ranked below No. 87.
Their first meeting came after Federer amassed 20 Grand Slam singles titles, while Copil has just one career match win at a Grand Slam — in the 2015 Australian Open first round.
The 28-year-old Copil came to Basel with career prize money — $1.67 million — significantly less than Federer earned just for winning the Australian Open in January. His second career runner-up finish, both this season, earned almost 210,000 euros ($239,000).
Copil, currently ranked No. 93, will rise to a career-best ranking of No. 60 when the new list is published Monday.
"I would love for it to be the beginning of my career at this level," said Copil, who played his first tour-level match in 2009.
The first-set tiebreaker was likely to be crucial given Copil's career record of 8-52 when losing the opening set in top-tier matches.
Federer got a mini-break in the seventh point, being rewarded for solid defense from the baseline when Copil netted an attempted drop shot.
After Copil saved two set points with big serves, Federer took the first on his own serve when his opponent sent a forehand long. Federer celebrated with a shout and a pump of his right fist.
In the second set, Copil again quickly broke serve and this time held the key fifth game when Federer had two break points.
It was a brief respite until Federer broke in Copil's next service game despite the Romanian ending one long rally with a backhand lob for a winner.
Columbus, Oct 29 (AP/UNB) — Gyasi Zardes completed a hat trick in the 83rd minute to give the Columbus Crew a 3-2 victory over Minnesota United on Sunday and a fifth seed in the playoffs as the Major League Soccer regular season concluded.
The Crew (14-11-9) were assured of a playoff spot with a win but had secured the berth earlier when Montreal lost. All season finales started at the same time, but there was a long weather delay in Columbus.
Columbus will play at fourth-seeded D.C. United in a Knockout Round game on Wednesday or Thursday.
Zardes scored in the 11th minute, just after play resumed and scored again in the 49th minute. But Minnesota rallied as Francisco Calvo scored his first goal of the season in the 68th minute and added his second 11 minutes later, cleaning up a loose ball from close range in the box. But Zardes picked up his first career hat trick when Harrison Afful played the ball ahead to Niko Hansen at the end line and he quickly centered a pass to Zardes for a point-blank score. He finished the season with 19 goals.
Minnesota (11-20-3) finished 1-14-2 on the road for five points and only five teams have gone a full season with fewer.
Leicester, Oct 29 (AP/UNB) — Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha achieved what seemed impossible in modern soccer: Gaining promotion with a modest club and winning the English Premier League title within two years.
Bankrolling Leicester City but without the lavish spending of the bigger clubs, the Thai billionaire oversaw one of the greatest underdog successes in sports when the 5,000-1 outsiders won soccer's richest competition in 2016.
In an era of often-absentee foreign owners in the Premier League, Vichai also broke the mold by forging close ties with supporters and the local community.
While Vichai did not seek the limelight and was far from flamboyant, the wealthy entrepreneur's grandiose mode of transport from the King Power stadium named after his duty-free empire became symbolic of the club's newfound status in the game. A helicopter would land on the field after matches and whisk away the owner.
Saturday night was the last journey for Vichai.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was seen weeping as he stared at a fireball in a carpark outside the stadium around an hour after a 1-1 draw with West Ham. Moments earlier, the AgustaWestland AW169 had risen from the center circle and cleared the stadium roof before it spiraled out of control and plummeted into an adjacent carpark in flames.
The 60-year-old Vichai and the four other people on board did not survive the inferno, Leicester announced Sunday.
"I am so totally devastated. I just cannot believe what I saw last night," Schmeichel said. In an emotional tribute to Vichai, the seven-year veteran of the club said: "You changed football. Forever. You gave hope to everyone that the impossible was possible, not just to our fans but to fans all over the world in any sport."
On the spot where fans danced into the night after the improbable title victory two years ago, people gathered through the day to mourn. Hours before the Sunday night confirmation that Vichai did not survive the crash, scarves, jerseys and flowers were laid in an ever-expanding memorial in front of the stadium.
"Without you," read one message on a club flag, "the dream wouldn't have become reality."
Leicester's next game, which had been scheduled for Tuesday against Southampton in the League Cup, has been postponed.
"We now have a responsibility as a club, as players and fans to honor you," Schmeichel said.
Two members of Vichai's staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, also died along with pilot Eric Swaffer and passenger Izabela Roza Lechowicz. Fears that family members were on board were allayed through the day, with his Vichai's son, Aiyawatt, now in line to step up from his role as vice chairman.
"The world has lost a great man," the Leicester club said in a statement. "A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led."
Vichai, who started with one shop and grew Thailand's massive King Power duty-free chain, bought Leicester for 39 million pounds ($50 million) in 2010 when it was in the second-tier competition. Avoiding relegation in its first season back in the Premier League was remarkable enough in 2015 after spending much time in last place. But that was eclipsed in 2016 by the team winning the top-flight title for the first time since being founded in 1884.
"I always believed in the power of our spirit," Vichai said at the time. "It drove us to reach the Premier League, it gave us the strength to stay in the Premier League, and now it has inspired us to win the Premier League.
"It is a spirit that has spread beyond Leicester, taking our story to the hearts of the world. Our spirit exists because of the love we share for each other and the energy it helps to create, both on and off the pitch, and in the years to come, it will continue to be our greatest asset."
Vichai was ridiculed for hiring the manager who masterminded the title success. Claudio Ranieri had been out of work since being fired by the weak Greece national team and his only job in the Premier League at Chelsea ended 11 years earlier. But it proved to be an inspired recruitment, helping to turn a humdrum group of journeymen and modestly purchased signings into a lineup that overpowered the mega-rich giants of the Premier League.
"That was a dream," life-long supporter Ian Hubber said outside the stadium on Sunday. "This is a nightmare."
The outpouring of emotion at the stadium on Sunday reflected how highly the ownership is regarded in the city, which has only one professional soccer team. Vichai has formed a close bond with the fans, sometimes mingling with them at games.
Vichai has been praised for his charity work, donating 2 million pounds ($2.5 million) toward a new local children's hospital, and he often provided free beer and food for fans outside games.
"He's an owner who actually cared about a club," 19-year-old fan Rikesh Vaja said. "It's not just the club. He impacted the entire city."
He also gained for the club new fans in Thailand, where they mourned Vichai's sudden death.
"It's Thailand's team," soccer fan Chatworachet Sae-Kow said in Bangkok. "It brought fame to Thailand when they won (the title). He carried the Thai flag with him and made people know more about Thailand."