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Naomi Osaka beats Victoria Azarenka to win US Open and third Grand Slam

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka came from a set down to beat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and win the US Open yesterday, clinching her third Grand Slam title.

Osaka, the fourth seed, overcame her unseeded opponent 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in one-four, 53 minutes inside a near-empty Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows.

It brought 22-year-old Osaka’s haul of tennis major trophies to three after her victories at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.

Azarenka, 31, sprinted to the first set in just 26 minutes, dominating Osaka with an 88 per cent success rate on her first serve.The Japanese was uncharacteristically sloppy, hitting a whopping 13 unforced errors.

Azarenka then went 2-0 ahead in the second set before Osaka fought back to break her opponent’s serve twice and take a 4-3 lead. The momentum had quickly swung in Osaka’s favour and she broke a third time to take the match to a deciding set.

Osaka enjoyed the first breakthrough of set three in game four when she broke Azarenka’s serve to take a 3-1 lead.

Azarenka then blew a golden opportunity to get back into the match, wasting three break points as Osaka recovered from 0-40 to hold for a 4-1 lead. Azarenka then saved four break points to make it 4-2 as she battled to keep the contest alive.

When she broke Osaka in game seven, the set was back on serve. But Osaka immediately broke back after Azarenka pushed a forehand wide to leave herself the opportunity of serving for the match. On Osaka’s second championship point, Azarenka found the net.

After touching racquets with her opponent, Osaka lay down in the middle of the court and looked up at the sky in celebration.

Osaka had walked onto the court wearing a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy who was shot dead by a white police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014.

Osaka, of Japanese and Haitian heritage, wore different masks honoring victims of racial injustice and police brutality in each round of the tournament.

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Wazito fc Boss to pay sacked players over Sh6 million

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The Fifa Dispute Resolution Chamber has ordered Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKFPL) side Wazito FC to pay five players it sacked over six million shillings cumulative within 45 days.

Ugandan midfielder Mansoor Safi Agu, DR Congo international Piscas Muhindo, Ghanaian Paul Acquah, Liberian Augustine Otu and Togolese defender Issofou Bourhana, through their lawyer Felix Majani, stated the club to the world football governing body seeking compensation for unfair dismissal. Of the five, only Mansoor Safi was dismissed by the club at the beginning of the year while the rest were victims of the recent massive restructuring in the team.

Their cases were presented directly to the Fifa Dispute Resolution Chamber in mid-August and the department has now expedited the matter.

In a previous interview, Wazito CEO Dennis Gicheru admitted he had received demand letters for compensation from some of the sacked players and their representatives as well communication on the same issue from Fifa. He, however, unapologetically said he was not keen on responding to the demand letters.

If Wazito fails to pay the monies within 45 days, the club will face a transfer ban over three windows. The ban will only be lifted after the amounts are paid in full.

The ruling by Fifa could set precedence as far as the speed at which cases regarding the termination of contracts, unfair dismissal of players and the ramifications of the same in the top league in Kenya are concerned.

Earlier this year, the worldwide representative organization of professional footballers, FIFPRO publicly expressed dissatisfaction with how the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) was handling such cases, with a lot of such claims remaining unsettled since 2017.

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Harambee Stars exclude four top-tier players

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Harambee Stars will miss the services of the  influential quartet of Victor Wanyama, Arnold Origi, Ayub Timbe and Michael Olunga when they face Zambia in the Africa Cup of Nations build-up match against Zambia on Friday.

The four were omitted yesterday when Football Kenya Federation released a final squad for the match set to be staged at the Moi Stadium, Kasarani behind closed doors. “The four will not be available for the match,” said FKF’S communications chief Ken Okaka.

The experienced players were part of the 34-man provisional squad released last week by coach Francis Kimanzi who will use the match to gauge his readiness for the November qualifier double against Comoros.

Origi, who plies his trade with Finland side HIFK Fotboll, was supposed to make his comeback to the team after five years in the cold. In the absence of the revered custodian, Kimanzi will pick the starter from the Zambian based Ian Otieno and national U-23  and Ulinzi Stars  goalkeeper Timothy Odhiambo.

With Wanyama unavailable, all eyes will be on Kimanzi’s choice for the captaincy. Prior to his lengthy hiatus from the team, the former Maritzburg centre back Brian Mandela who made it to the team despite being unattached served as Wanyama’s deputy alongside Musa Mohammed.

Former Gor Mahia defender Joash Onyango skippered the team during last year’s Cecafa Senior Challenge in Uganda. Having established himself as Stars preferred centre forward, the unavailability of the red-hot Olunga will leave Kimanzi with no options other than to try a new formation upfront.

Algerian-based Masud Juma is likely to fill in Olunga shoes with reigning Cecafa top scorer Oscar Wamalwa, AFC Leopards striker Elvis Rupia and Zambia-based Timothy Otieno offering options.

Meanwhile Kimanzi recalled Bandari’s wing-wizard Abdallah Hassan to replace Timbe Hassan  was part of the Stars team which scooped bronze in the past Cecafa championship.

Yesterday, eleven local-based players reported to camp and were screened for Covid-19  in line with the protocols sanctioned by the Ministry  of Sports. Foreign-based players were expected to start checking into camp  last night.

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Why did Kipchoge loose the London Marathon

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When race commentator Steve Cram announced “this is not normal” midway through Sunday’s London Marathon it was something of an understatement as Eliud Kipchoge, the most dominant performer the distance has ever seen, was finally looking mortal.

An hour later, Kipchoge trailed home eighth in a time six minutes slower than his own world record and over a minute adrift of Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata, who won the race after a spectacular sprint finish in two hours, 05.41 minutes.

The Kenyan had finally cracked just under three miles from the end, later saying he was suffering from a blocked ear that affected his breathing and cramp in his hip, but refusing to blame the cold, wet conditions for his poor run.

It was no surprise that he looked slightly bemused as he tried to articulate what had happened, having never previously experienced what almost every other marathon runner at every level has a bad day at the office.

His record over the distance almost defies belief. He posted in his Twitter account that one of his ears blocked, and it could not open anymore.

The Ineos Challenge record holder has however promised to fight for the title another day.

“But this is how the sport is, we should accept defeat and focus for the winning next time. Thanks for the support,” Kipchoge said. He added “If you want to enjoy sport then you have to accept the results. I congratulate the top finishers, and that is how to enjoy the sport.”

He has appreciated Kenyans and his fans for the tremendous support, saying that he is taking the defeat in a positive way.

The race was won by Ethiopian Shura Kitata in a thrilling sprint finish to claim an unexpected victory ahead of Kenyan Vincent Kipchumba.

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