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Rosberg aims to strike back in Monaco

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 深圳桑拿网 /

Rosberg’s fourth successive second place, after winning the Australian season-opener, left him three points behind Hamilton and ‘gutted’ at the loss of the overall Formula One lead for the first time this year.

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One more lap at the Circuit de Catalunya might have seen the German pass Hamilton, who took the chequered flag just 0.6 of a second ahead after being chased to the line, but he was more concerned about the start than the finish.

“It’s a bit of a weakness that we have at the moment,” Rosberg said of his getaway from second place on the grid with Hamilton on pole.

“Just inconsistent and now I’ve had a couple of bad starts in a row. Actually, three bad starts in three races. And that’s costly…need to work on that.”

Qualifying and a quick start is even more crucial in Monaco, where overtaking is extremely tricky on the tight and twisting streets – particularly if the man in front is your team mate with the same equipment.

Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff, who again assured the fans that his two drivers would be allowed to race freely, said the team were working hard to resolve Rosberg’s problem.

“It seems to be a problem related to the clutch,” he told reporters.

“That is a special project of ours. We expected some improvement for Barcelona which didn’t kick in as expected and we just need to sort it out for Monaco because that’s crucial there. We discussed it in the debrief right now.”

HOME RACE

Rosberg won in Monaco last year and the German knows every kink, kerb and corner of what amounts to a home race in a principality he grew up in as son of 1982 champion Keke.

“Lewis did a great job the whole weekend and was just that little bit ahead,” he said on Sunday. “But there’s a lot of positives for me to take out of it.

“I’m fully motivated to just try to get that little bit extra and to edge him out next time – and it’s do-able.”

Hamilton’s failure to finish in Australia cost the 2008 champion heavily and consistency has been Rosberg’s ace, with the pair still barely apart in the standings despite the Briton’s four wins to the German’s one.

With double points on offer for the final race in Abu Dhabi, a first that has not gone down well with fans who decry the change as a gimmick, there is everything to play for.

Even if no driver has ever won four races in a row and not gone on to take the title that year, there is always a first time for everything.

While ‘gutted’ to lose out again in Spain, Rosberg left no doubt he had the mental fortitude to battle against a rival he has known and raced against since they were teenage team mates in go-karts.

“Break me down mentally ? I think he will struggle with that one,” he said. “He has the momentum. There is no way round that. I have to try to break it.”

Wolff, who introduced a sports psychologist to the team last month, agreed Rosberg was completely focused.

“We have seen in the past that you can win championships with three wins if you just keep scoring and I guess he knows that,” said the Austrian. “He’s such a competitive and tough personality who has no problems with coping with that situation.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Julien Pretot)

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Honeymoon murder case postponed

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 深圳桑拿网 /

British millionaire businessman Shrien Dewani has appeared briefly in a South African court, where his lawyers successfully argued he was not yet fit to stand trial for the murder of his Swedish bride.

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Dewani, 34, wearing a dark suit and tie, glanced nervously around in the dock on Monday as his lawyers said psychiatrists had told them Dewani had been co-operative but lacked the ability to concentrate for any length of time.

“I am informed that he has been fully co-operative and that his condition has improved,” lawyer Francois van Zyl told the court.

“We have been told by treating psychiatrists not to consult with him for longer than 30 minutes at a time.”

He said they hoped further improvement would mean that Dewani would be able to “instruct us properly”.

The judge president of the Western Cape high Court, John Hlope, ordered Dewani to appear in court again on June 20.

He was remanded in custody at the Valkenberg psychiatric hospital, where he has been receiving treatment since being extradited from Britain last month.

Dewani, who returned to Britain shortly after his wife’s murder, had fought his extradition for three years, claiming he had mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress.

If he is not found fit to face trial within 18 months, he will be returned to Britain under the terms of his extradition.

Dewani denies ordering the killing of his 28-year-old bride Anni in Cape Town in November 2010.

He claims the couple were hijacked at gunpoint during their honeymoon as they drove through the Gugulethu township in a taxi.

Dewani escaped unharmed, but his wife’s body was found in the abandoned car the next day. She had been shot dead.

Prosecutors allege Dewani hired South African Xolile Mngeni to kill Anni. Mngeni was jailed for life for the murder in December 2012.

Two other men also jailed over the killing allege that Dewani ordered the hit.

The prosecution is expected to argue that Dewani is gay and plotted to have his wife killed to escape an arranged marriage that he was pushed into by his family.

The South African Sunday Times quoted sources close to the investigation as saying that one of the prosecution’s main witnesses would be a “master” in sado-masochism from Britain who will claim that Dewani paid him for sex.

The case sparked outrage among South Africans who accuse Dewani of callously using the country’s reputation for violent crime to murder his wife in the belief that he would get away with it.

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Hayne lifts Eels to impressive victory

January 28th, 2019 / / categories: 深圳桑拿网 /

Jarryd Hayne and Chris Sandow have inspired Parramatta to a 42-24 win over Cronulla in an action-packed NRL clash at Pirtek Stadium on Monday.

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The pair scored three tries between them, with one of Hayne’s a contender for the season’s best as the Eels secured their fifth win of the season – matching their total for last year.

Cronulla’s disappointing evening was compounded by an early injury to Andrew Fifita with the NSW prop limping off with ankle syndesmosis early in the game which could potentially rule him out of the NSW side for the State of Origin opener on May 28.

Eels winger Semi Radradra opened the scoring after four minutes when he latched on to a bullet-like pass from Hayne.

But the Sharks hit back immediately with a Sosaia Feki try converted by Michael Gordon.

Wade Graham then showed some brilliant soccer skills by chipping Jeff Robson’s grubber-kick over the head of two Eels defenders then regathered to score.

However, that moment of magic was eclipsed by Hayne midway through the opening stanza with the superstar fullback stepping past five players to power his way over the line.

Will Hopoate appeared to have restored the Eels’ lead but the video referee backed the decision of the on-field officials to deny the try despite the centre looking to have grounded the ball.

But the Eels’ dismay was short-lived with Sandow hauling in his own chip and chase to score under the posts before winger Ken Sio increased the hosts’ advantage before half time.

The Sharks were much improved in the second period despite Hopoate’s try for the Eels just after the restart.

Graham looked to have scored his second when he drove his way to the line following a Robson pass, but the video referee infuriated the Sharks by denying his effort, deeming he’d lost control of the ball.

Inspired by a brilliant run and pass from skipper Paul Gallen, Isaac De Gois did get on the scoresheet for the visitors with Gordon’s kick closing the gap to 28-18.

However their hopes of a come-from-behind win were ended by Willie Tonga’s 90 metre intercept try in the 63rd minute. And despite Gordon keeping his side in touch with a four-pointer, Sio grabbed his second following some good work from the impressive Hopoate.

Fittingly, Hayne had the final word, racing almost the length of the field after a sloppy Blake Ayshford pass went to ground.

Despite the win, Eels coach Brad Arthur was upset at the manner of his side’s defending and said they have little chance of progressing to the finals this year unless they tighten up.

“Defence wasn’t good enough and moving forward if we want to be taken seriously we’ve got to be better,” Arthur said.

“We were ordinary through the middle, we did some good things with the ball but we have to learn to play for 80 minutes.”

However, Arthur was pleased with the contribution of Hayne and said his performance was his best of the year.

“He showed a lot of leadership qualities tonight,” Arthur said.

“His shoulder’s not 100 per cent … but he’s got to play with pain.

“He played tough tonight and he got the footy and ran and that’s what we need him to do.”

Sharks coach Peter Sharp said his side let themselves down with their first half effort and had no complaints with the loss.

“Parra were good tonight, but we made too many errors to compete at this level,” Sharp said.

“We kicked poorly and made poor decisions with or without the footy.”

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MP launches campaign for ‘new FIFA’

September 30th, 2019 / / categories: 深圳桑拿网 /

The summit on Jan.

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21 has been organised by British Member of Parliament Damian Collins, a long-time critic of the way football’s world governing body has been run.

Delegates will include FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the head of the technical inspection team for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, and the former chairman of the England FA, David Triesman.

The announcement comes three days after FIFA executive committee member and Asia vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan declared his intention to run as a reformist candidate against incumbent Sepp Blatter, the 78-year-old Swiss who has been FIFA president for the last 17 years.

“People have had enough,” said Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe and a member of parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

“I speak to amateur and professional players, fans, and mums and dads whose children play and love the game. It has reached the stage where FIFA is a laughing stock. We all love the game. But we all detest how it’s run.”

Collins says the Brussels meeting will be a first step to “making a new FIFA a reality”, adding, “It’s also the first of its kind where politicians, players, fans and corporations will come together in a campaign for change.”

Other European politicians and football personalities will be at the summit, Collins says.

“We don’t intend to talk about what is wrong with FIFA, as we all know what’s wrong,” he said.

“The experience since the Presidential election in 2011 — when we were promised things would change — shows that FIFA is incapable of reforming itself. But we also know that FIFA’s problems go much further back than that.”

Collins says the recent events concerning the Garcia report into the conduct of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Bids was the final motivation needed for him and others to take action.

“Like the decisions surrounding Russia and Qatar, the farce surrounding the Garcia report is symptomatic of a governing body where democracy, transparency and accountability were long ago forsaken in place of corruption, mismanagement and self-interest.”

Michael Garcia, FIFA’s chief ethics investigator who spent 18 months compiling a report into the controversial World Cup bidding processes quit his post last month, with a withering attack on FIFA’s culture and practices, claiming “a lack of leadership” in the organisation.

Collins continued: “We want to see football governed by people who make decisions and take action in a transparent manner, and who are held accountable in the best interests of the sport and civil society.”

No-one at FIFA was immediately available to comment.

(Editing by Martyn Herman)

Developed by an Israeli firm, Smart Court is designed to help coaches by reviewing players’ strokes, recording ball speed and other statistical data and tracking drills, but it can also be used to call lines and identify service faults.

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Until now, the dominant review system in tennis has been Hawk-Eye, a computerised network of six cameras that can pinpoint a ball to within 5 millimetres.

It has added drama to the grand slams and is a hit with broadcasters and spectators alike. But at an estimated cost of $100,000 per court, Hawk-Eye is only for professionals and the world’s top tournaments.

Smart Court uses a different approach involving six permanently fixed cameras that record everything that happens during play. While less accurate than Hawk-Eye, it is precise enough to check lines and comes at a much lower price — $10,000 and a licence fee — making it affordable for serious clubs.

Already installed on 80 courts across the United States and Europe, the system has drawn praise from current and former top players and coaches, including world number one Novak Djokovic and six-times grand slam singles champion Stefan Edberg, who now works with Roger Federer.

The coaches of Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are also converts.

Chen Shachar, the chief executive of PlaySight, the company which developed the system, is encouraged by the positive feedback and has ambitions to expand globally, with tennis one of the world’s most popular amateur sports.

“Our plan for the next two years is to install it on at least 200 courts and have between 4,000 and 5,000 smart tennis courts in the next four years,” Shachar told Reuters, adding that revenue should reach $10 million in the coming year.

As with many of Israel’s technological breakthroughs, the system is derived from the military, where event-based analysis of combat scenarios, particularly aerial warfare, is crucial for training. Some PlaySight executives have military backgrounds.

When it comes to using the system, players wanting to review a line call, a tight rally or a particularly great (or terrible) shot would go to a touch-screen console at the side of the court and hit review.

The screen would play it back instantly. The data and imagery can also be viewed over the Internet later.

While Smart Court is focussed on tennis for now, Shachar plans to roll it out for other sports, including basketball, handball and squash, soon. Ice hockey and soccer are also potential targets as goal-review technology becomes more popular.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; editing by Luke Baker and Toby Davis)

The 34-year-old captain, who has spent his entire career at Anfield and is worshipped by the fans, agreed this week to continue his illustrious career in California with the Major League Soccer champions.

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Gerrard has been quoted as saying he would have stayed at Liverpool had he been offered a new contract in the close season, while Rodgers admits his departure will be a huge loss.

“No doubt Steven is still a top class player and him leaving in the summer will leave a void on the pitch and off the pitch also,” Rodgers told a news conference.

“But we will have to move forward and bring in the best players we possibly can into this wonderful club.

“History shows that great players here have moved on and it’s an opportunity for the club and other players to go and grab the mantra and make their presence here felt.”

Gerrard said at the weekend the turning point in his decision to depart came when Rodgers told him he could no longer play every game.

He did not blame the club for effectively making up his mind to leave but said he was ready to commit his future to Liverpool in the summer after they finished as Premier League runners-up.

“If a contract had been put in front of me in pre-season I would have signed it,” Gerrard was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo on Tuesday.

“I’d just retired from England to concentrate all my efforts on Liverpool. I didn’t want my club games to be tailored.”

Gerrard can still play a pivotal role in Liverpool’s season which offers a League Cup semi-final against Chelsea, an FA Cup run and the Europa League as well as trying to climb the Premier League table and grab a top-four spot.

They are currently eighth, seven points behind fourth-placed Southampton.

“It will be tough to qualify for the Champions League but I’m looking forward to the challenge in the second half of the season,” Rodgers said. “Seven points may seem a lot but it can be whittled away.”

Liverpool face an away trip to Sunderland on Saturday.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis)

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, who was not even born when Blatter first joined FIFA as its technical director in 1975, declared his candidacy on Tuesday, promising to make the organisation more transparent.

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The 39-year-old royal faces a tough battle to beat the 78-year-old Swiss who is expected to formally declare his intention to stand for a fifth term before the Jan. 29 nomination deadline even though FIFA, and Blatter, have been engulfed in one scandal after another for years.

Until Prince Ali, who has some powerful backers including UEFA president Michel Platini, announced his intentions the only other runner was FIFA’s former deputy secretary-general Jerome Champagne.

The 56-year-old former French diplomat declared his candidature a year ago and like Ali, is committed to bringing much-needed change to world soccer’s governing body which is generally perceived as a corrupt, secretive organisation.

But however well-intentioned Champagne is and despite a series of absorbingly well-argued documents outlining a brighter footballing future if he became FIFA president, it is difficult to see where his votes will come from — especially as Prince Ali has now thrown his hat in the ring.

REAL ALTERNATIVE

Because, to all intents and purposes, Prince Ali, FIFA’s Asia vice-president perceived as the leading reformist member of the FIFA executive committee, will be regarded as the only credible alternative to the old guard.

The election will take place at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29 and is a one-member one-vote process with an outright winner needing two-thirds of the 209 votes cast.

If the vote was held today, Blatter would probably hold an advantage of around 120-90 and the ageing tyro is probably secure enough to withstand Ali’s attack because, as ever, he is the man holding all the aces.

And it almost seems impossible to imagine that the Swiss will not be milking the applause after a fifth election victory following his earlier successes in 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2011.

In those 17 years, he has only faced two challenges — first when he beat UEFA’s Swedish president Johansson for the seat left vacant following the retirement of 82-year-old Joao Havelange 111-80, and again in 2002 when he saw off a half-hearted campaign headed by Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, the president of the African confederation by 139 votes to 56.

BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS

No-one stood against him in 2007 when he was returned unopposed by acclamation, while in 2011 his rival Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar withdrew from the campaign shortly before voting took place after facing bribery allegations.

He was eventually banned from soccer for life.

Since 2011 though, FIFA have come under the microscope as never before following endless allegations of wrong-doing regarding the voting process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively on the same day in December 2010.

To this day there have been no satisfactory answers to allegations of FIFA skulduggery in determining those votes and the situation was made worse last month when Michael Garcia, the New York lawyer who spent 18 months investigating the allegations, quit his post, blaming FIFA for a “lack of leadership” and questioning its intention to work as an open, transparent organisation.

Despite all that, Blatter still commands the support of the majority of the 209 member nations and as he clocks up 40 years at FIFA, he certainly knows how to use the system.

In June Blatter was assured of the continuing support of the majority of delegates in five of FIFA’s six confederations.

The only one that gave him a frosty reception during a whistle-stop tour of confederation meetings in Sao Paulo just before the World Cup in Brazil was Europe’s UEFA.

As one of his long-time executive committee colleagues Michel D’Hooghe of Belgium told Reuters, he retains a steely grip on FIFA’s affairs.

“He is powerful, he is untouchable, he is, I would say, the Pope of Football,” D’Hooghe, the president of the Belgian FA said.

(This refiled version of the story corrects lit in sixth paragraph)

(Editing by Martyn Herman)

Pardew was named as manager of his former playing club Crystal Palace on Saturday after Palace met the terms of a release clause in his Newcastle contract.

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While he is busy plotting this weekend’s home clash with in-form Tottenham Hotspur, Pardew’s Thursday news conference inevitably focussed on his reasons for leaving mid-table Newcastle for a relegation battle.

“It was difficult because it’s a big club run on fairly tight financial margins,” Pardew, who spent 229 games in charge of Newcastle and took them into the Europa League in 2012, said.

“Our net spend was one of the lowest, we had to really work hard at transfers because the funds for a club of that size makes it difficult and for the fans to understand that you need slow progress, to build slowly, which we did for four years.”

Despite a steady tenure at club desperate for success, Pardew never completely won over the Geordie faithful and a dismal start to this season saw a concerted campaign by fans to get him sacked, with scores of banners held up at home and away matches.

Pardew resisted any temptation to hit back though.

“I’ve left a good club, I like to think with a good base of young players and some fantastic professionals,” the former Crystal Palace midfielder said.

“We’ve pulled above our weight at times. Of course when you lose games there will be criticism from the stands but never once did I sense that outside of the ground.

“I had tremendous support while I was there and want to thank all Geordies.”

Pardew, who has also managed Reading, West Ham United and Southampton, said the decision to leave was his alone.

“Personally and professionally it was the right time for me and the right time for Newcastle too if I’m honest,” he said.

“It was my decision, (Palace chairman) Steve (Parish) met the clause in my contract and I had to make a decision which I hope was the right one for me and the right one for Palace.”

Palace are third from bottom in the table and this weekend host a Tottenham side buoyant after beating Chelsea.

“When you’re fighting relegation you don’t want to hit teams in red hot form and Totenham are, so not the greatest of starts,” he said.

“We will have to try and knock them off their stride.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Justin Palmer)

A string of doping cases, headed by last month’s positive EPO test returned by Boston and Chicago marathon winner Rita Jeptoo, has raised questions about the level of testing in the country that has dominated distance running for decades.

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An ideal physiology, training at altitude, running to school and a desperate motivation to escape poverty through athletics success are routinely trotted out as some of the reasons behind Kenya’s astonishing performances.

But now, particularly in the wake of Jeptoo’s positive test, people are looking with new eyes.

For Bedford, London Marathon’s head of international relations and a former 10,000 metres world record holder, it is a sad state of affairs but one with a brighter side.

He held a media conference call on Thursday to discuss the first race between world record holder Kimetto and Kipsang, the man whose mark he smashed last September and the reigning London marathon champion.

They head an April 26 field including eight men who have run under two hours five minutes — six of them Kenyan — yet Bedford was forced to discuss the way that doping has emerged in the country and in marathon running after previously largely being restricted to the track.

“We have been aware through rumour for a little while that there were problems in Kenya and I suppose the most shocking thing we’ve seen is the Rita Jeptoo situation,” Bedford said.

“As an event we’ve had quite an extended period of being relatively unaffected by this scourge in comparison to other events.

“But London Marathon and the Marathon Majors are at the centre of ensuring that there is adequate testing and that anyone who is found cheating will not be welcome back at any of our events.

“I believe that a lot of this is about a lack of education in Kenya, with athletes not fully understanding the implications, and in some ways I actually feel heartened that we are on the verge of an opportunity for increased testing with elite marathon runners and increased penalties for those who are caught.”

(Editing by Justin Palmer)

The Portuguese was furious with Taylor after he booked Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas for diving in the Dec.

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28 match.

Mourinho said the referee’s failure to award a penalty was a scandal and that he should be ashamed.

He added that his team were being unfairly targeted in a campaign waged against them after Fabregas became the fifth Chelsea player to become involved in a row over diving in a matter of weeks.

The Spaniard, though, appeared to be tripped by Southampton defender Matt Targett in the penalty area.

“In other countries where I have worked, tomorrow in the sports papers it would be a front-page scandal because it is a scandal,” said Mourinho.

“It is not a small penalty, it is a penalty like Big Ben. In this country, and I am happy with that, more than happy with that, we will just say that it was a big mistake with a big influence on the result.

“I will go to the referee and wish him a good year and tell him he will be ashamed,” added Mourinho.

In a statement, the FA said his remarks constituted improper conduct in that they allege and/or imply bias on the part of a referee or referees and/or bring the game into disrepute.

Mourinho has until 1800 GMT on Jan. 13 to respond to the charge.

The FA will not take any action against him following the comments he made before the game against Stoke City on Dec. 19 but gave him a formal warning as managers and players are banned from making pre-match media comments about officials.

Before the game Mourinho said he hoped referee Neil Swarbrick “does his job”.

“I like these matches,” added the Chelsea manager. “It’s no problem with a good referee that can understand what is aggressivity or when aggressivity finishes and when the rules of the game start.

“I know it is difficult for every team to play this kind of match but again I’m not worried. The referee is there exactly to judge what is aggressivity. And aggressivity I always welcome, it makes the game much more beautiful and difficult.”

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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Spanish second seed Feliciano Lopez crashed out of the ATP Chennai Open on Thursday in a stunning second-round loss to qualifier Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia.

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The world No.14 looked rusty in his first match of the season as he tamely went down 6-4 6-4 to the 156th-ranked Bedene in an hour and 25 minutes at the Nungambakkam tennis stadium.

“He played a great match and he was a better player than me in this match,” Lopez said of his unfancied opponent.

“I know it is always tough to play the first match of the season because you are not confident, you need to adjust. But credit to him because he was very consistent.”

Lopez, 33, revealed he had been sick last week but refused to use that as an excuse.

“Nothing worked for me today,” he said. “My serve and volley was not working and I was also not moving well from the baseline. I need to work on my game. Hopefully I will be ready for the (Australian) Open.”

Bedene was excited after winning what he said was “the best match of my career.”

“I have never beaten such a high-ranked player before, so obviously this was very special,” the 25-year-old said.

“I was more solid on the baseline and I read his serves well. I was also feeling good with my serves.”

Bedene felt that coming through the qualifying round gave him an advantage against Lopez, who took to the court for the first time after being handed a bye into the second round.

“It always helps to be familiar with the conditions,” he said.

Two other Spaniards, third seed Roberto Bautista-Agut and No.5 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, advanced to the quarter-finals.

The 15th-ranked Bautista-Agut proved too strong for No.102 Peter Gojowczyk of Germany, cruising to a 6-3 6-2 win in an hour and 10 minutes.

The 31-year-old Garcia-Lopez fought back after losing the first set to oust Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-7 (1-7) 6-2 6-0 in two hours on an outside court.

“My game picked up as the match went on, so I am happy the way it went in the end,” said Garcia-Lopez, who finished 36th last year.

In Friday’s quarter-finals, Garcia-Lopez will take on Bedene.

Taiwanese veteran Yen Hsun-Lu rode past Pablo Carreno-Busta of Spain 6-4 6-4 in 73 minutes to set up a quarter-final against Bautista-Agut.

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France, UK boost security after attack

August 30th, 2019 / / categories: 深圳桑拿网 /

France has extended the highest security alert level already in place in greater Paris to the northern Picardy region where police have zoned in on two suspects in the magazine massacre.

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“The prime minister has decided to extend the attack alert level to Picardy,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ office said on Thursday afternoon

The security step-up came after two brothers sought for the attack against the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were spotted in the region, resulting in a massive deployment of security forces.

Britain, meanwhile, has stepped up security at ports serving France following the attack in Paris, as the MI5 intelligence agency offered French counterparts its “full support”.

The terror threat level in Britain remains at “severe” and officials said the measures were a precautionary measure following the slaying of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo.

In rare public comments, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker said the attack was a “terrible reminder” of the threat facing Western nations.

He confirmed the national spy agency was offering its French colleagues their “full support as they respond”.

“It is too early for us to come to judgments about the precise details or origin of the attack but it is a terrible reminder of the intentions of those who wish us harm,” Parker said.

Home Secretary Theresa May, the interior minister, held a meeting of the COBRA crisis committee to consider Britain’s response to the attacks and its own preparedness for a similar assault.

She said the government had offered France “every assistance necessary”.

Searches have been stepped up on cars and trucks crossing the English Channel to British ports, while armed patrols have increased at the Eurostar terminal at London’s St Pancras station.

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Boko Haram’s seizure of a key town and military base in Nigeria’s far northeast has tightened its grip on the region, undermining efforts to tackle the insurgency, experts say.

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The capture of Baga and the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) now means the Islamists control all three of Borno state’s borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Analysts said that as a result, the militants were in a better position to launch fresh attacks both within Nigeria, including against the key city of Maiduguri, and across borders.

“The capture of Baga is of enormous significance,” Abdullahi Bawa Wase, a Nigerian security analyst who tracks the Boko Haram conflict, told AFP.

“It has put a lie to the Nigerian government claim that it is on top of the situation. It is a serious symptom of defeat on the side of the government.”

Boko Haram has had Baga in its sights for months, as it was said to be one of the last towns in northern Borno under federal government control.

The militants have seized more than two dozen towns in northeast Nigeria in the last six months in their quest to establish a hardline Islamic state.

With Baga the latest to fall, Boko Haram has effectively encircled the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, where it was founded in 2002 and which has been repeatedly attacked.

Analysts assessed that the group’s control of border areas potentially secures it important supply lines for weapons as well as a wider recruitment base to replenish its ranks.

“Their next move is predictable, which is expanding their territory southwards,” said Wase.

Nigeria’s highest ranking military officer, Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh, told reporters on Tuesday that Baga can be recaptured, although he refused to give a time frame for any counter-offensive.

Asked whether the town can be retaken, he said only: “Why not?”

But getting it back could be a struggle, with Boko Haram likely to be boosted by a victory against a multi-national force.