Nadal on track for Federer showdown as Sock downed

MIAMI, March 30, 2017 – Rafael Nadal took a step closer to a possible final against long-time rival Roger Federer in the Miami Open after a straight sets win over American Jack Sock on Wednesday at Key Biscayne.

Nadal’s 6-2, 6-3 win over the 13th-seeded Sock sets up a semi-final meeting with unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini who upset second ranked Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2 earlier in the day.

The Spaniard’s forehand was ominous as he neutralised Sock in one hour and 22 minutes.

Nadal was able to save six of seven break points earned by Sock as he kept control of the contest.

He broke Sock in the American’s first service game and swiftly established a 3-0 advantage and a second break at 5-2 wrapped up the opening set.

The American showed his spirit though as he broke Nadal at the start of the second but was unable to take advantage of a double break that could have put him 3-0 up.

Instead Nadal pulled back to 2-2 and with Sock failing to make the most of a chance of further break points it was comfortable in the end.

The 30-year-old Spaniard has never won in Miami despite being a four-time finalist and he expects plenty of work to get past Fognini and make it a fifth appearance.

“We know each other very well. He has beaten me a couple of times and so it will be a good test. I am happy to be the semi-finals but it will be a tough one and I will need to play my best,” said Nadal.

Fognini has three wins from ten meetings with the Spaniard, the most recent coming on clay in Rio de Janiero in 2015.

The 29-year-old world number 40 showed plenty of confidence as he took the game to his Japanese opponent from the outset.

It was the Italian’s first victory in three attempts over Nishikori and his first Masters series quarter-final win since 2013, when he reached the last four in Monte-Carlo.

Nishikori earlier said he had not felt fully in top shape for the contest.

“I wasn’t 100%, physically, I mean, it was tough conditions for me,” he said, referring to the heat on the mid-afternoon Key Biscayne centre court.

“But it was also same for him, too. He was playing a lot of the long matches, but I think he still played good enough to beat me today,” he added.

Fognini, who was cheered on by his friend, former Italy footballer Christian Vieri, said he had come through a demanding test.

“It wasn’t easy and I was just focused on my game. I am very happy, I’m in the semifinal, I’m playing well and I feel good again on the court,” he said.

On Thursday, Federer takes on Czech tenth-seed Tomas Berdych while the last quarter-final pits Germany’s Alexander Zverev against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios.

Source -TheNation

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Trump and Japan’s Abe share high-five on Florida golf course

President Donald Trump has long boasted about his prowess on the golf course. Now he’s putting his game to work.

The president spent a good part of his Saturday golfing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he hosts his first foreign leader at his winter estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

After a rocky diplomatic start that included contentious phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia, the friendly weekend of meetings, dinners and golf suggests the new president is willing to invest time in developing close personal relationships with leaders he feels he can work with.

Trump and Abe, both frequent golfers, left Mar-a-Lago early Saturday morning and headed north to one of Trump’s golf courses in Jupiter, Florida. Reporters and photographers from both countries did not catch a glimpse of the pair as they played. But Trump later posted a photo of them giving each other a high-five on the golf course and tweeted, “Having a great time hosting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the United States!”

The Trump National Golf Club website, in typical Trumpian language, claims the course “features the finest revetted bunkers in the United States, incredible water hazards, including a magnificent island green, and one of the most picturesque landscapes, all of which make for a truly memorable round.”

The pair also paid a visit to another nearby Trump property: The Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

Abe had joked at a joint press conference at the White House on Friday that he was looking forward to playing golf with Trump, even though, he claimed, he’s not nearly as good on the links.

He said he planned to use the time to discuss the future of the world, the Pacific region and U.S.-Japanese relations.

In a sign of unity, neither Japanese nor White House officials volunteered the pair’s final score.

The White House issued a statement after the pair returned saying the day was “both relaxing and productive. They had great conversations on a wide range of subjects, and the President looks forward to further discussions with the Prime Minister at dinner this evening.”

As their husbands golfed, Melania Trump and Akie Abe toured the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in nearby Delray Beach. It was Mrs. Trump’s first solo event as First Lady. The women were also expected to have lunch together at Mar-a-Lago.

First lady Melania Trump, left, and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, tour Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens with park administrator Bonnie White Lemay in Delray Beach, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. (Michael Ares/Palm Beach Post via AP) (AP/Michael Ares/Palm Beach Post)

The two couples touched down in Florida on Friday afternoon and headed straight to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, where they enjoyed a late dinner at its crowded patio restaurant. They were joined by Robert Kraft, the owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and several interpreters. Paying members and club guests took in the scene and mingled with Trump and Abe into the night.

The president and Mrs. Trump planned to host a more formal delegation dinner with the Abes on Saturday night.

Trump also was expected to tend to other business in Florida: calling Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos as he continues conversations with foreign leaders.

Trump and Abe appear to have hit it off early, despite Trump’s sometimes hostile rhetoric toward Japan on the campaign trail. Abe was the only world leader to meet with Trump before his inauguration, and Trump welcomed Abe to the White House with a hug.

As a candidate, Trump often railed against former President Barack Obama for his frequent golfing, claiming Obama played more often than players on the PGA Tour.

He said if he won he’d likely be too busy to golf and would only play with people with whom he was looking to make deals.

Trump and Abe have plenty to discuss, including the defense treaty between the nations and their trade relations. One of Trump’s first actions as president was to withdraw the U.S. from a 12-nation, trans-Pacific trade agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and strongly supported by Tokyo.

Abe has said that Japan may be open to a bilateral trade deal with the U.S., but reaching such a deal could be political difficult. Japan logged the second largest trade surplus with the U.S. last year.

The visit comes as the White House continues to weigh its options after a stinging legal defeat. On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a restraining order on Trump’s executive order suspending the nation’s refugee program and barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

While the administration maintains that all options are on the table — Including a Supreme Court appeal — Trump said Friday he was considering signing a “brand new order” as early as Monday, which could address some of the legal issues the court has identified. (dan)

Source: TheJakartaPost