Wimbledon diary: Halep snookered over Jester's job, Royal Box spot for Beckham

By Sports Desk July 11, 2019

Simona Halep kept herself in the frame for a first Wimbledon title and England's cricketers created an increased buzz in SW19 on Thursday.

Halep potted a semi-final win against Elina Svitolina before being asked about her interest in snooker given three-time world champion Mark Selby is one of only two people she follows on Twitter.

David Beckham was among the famous faces in the Royal Box to see Halep and Serena Williams seal their places in the women's singles final.

There was also excitement at the All England Club for a major sporting showdown taking place in Birmingham, where England beat Australia to reach the Cricket World Cup final.

Catch up on what was happening around the grounds on day 10 of the grass-court grand slam.

 

POCKET ROCKET HALEP CLEARS UP SELBY FOLLOW

Halep has huge Twitter support but chooses those she follows carefully, selecting only her former coach Darren Cahill and Leicester cueman Selby.

Romania's 2018 French Open champion might not know the intricacies of snooker, but she is a fan of the player nicknamed 'The Jester'.

"I have no idea how you play snooker. But I appreciate him." Halep said.

"He's been in Romania a few times. I met him. Also I have a snooker ball signed from him. That's why I follow him."

 

AUSTRALIA SOS SIGNALS CREATE A RACKET

Crowds gathered to watch a band strike up with numbers such as Abba's SOS as Pimm's and champagne flowed late in the morning.

The distress signals from Australia players at Edgbaston also went down well as word reached Wimbledon that England were on course to reach the World Cup final.

Australia's early collapse in their semi-final was being discussed on the walk-up towards the All England Club grounds and as the tennis was taking place.

While some were clearly as confused by the cricket as Halep is by snooker, the majority were looking forward to another huge final in London this weekend after England set up a clash with New Zealand at Lord's.

 

BECKS AND BRANSON WATCH ON

Beckham is a Wimbledon regular and all eyes were on the former England football captain when he rocked up in dapper attire.

As Halep and Williams made statements on the main showcourt, Beckham made one of his own with a gold jacket, blue and white striped shirt and a snazzy tie.

Sir Richard Branson sat just along from Beckham to witness Halep and Williams go about their business in ruthless fashion.

 

AMERICAN ROGER FAN FED UP

While most people know what is in store well before they arrive at Wimbledon, there can be the odd one unsure what action will be served up.

An American visitor was heard asking "What time is Federer on?" and appeared bemused when informed he faces Rafael Nadal on Friday.

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  • Australian Open 2020: Kobe Bryant inspired me – Kyrgios Australian Open 2020: Kobe Bryant inspired me – Kyrgios

    Nick Kyrgios mourned the loss of Kobe Bryant but said the NBA legend's achievements were an inspiration to him during his Australian Open clash with Rafael Nadal.

    Home hope Kyrgios walked onto the court wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey adorned with the number eight Bryant made famous at the start of his two-decade career with the franchise. 

    Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

    Taking to Rod Laver Arena the following day, an emotional Kyrgios succumbed to a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) loss against the world number one, but revealed Bryant's passing had been on his mind.

    "I never met Kobe but basketball is practically my life. I watch it every day. I've been following it for as long as I can remember," said Kyrgios.

    "When I woke up to the news, it was pretty emotional. It was pretty heavy, like, all day. Obviously I was having basketball on at my house, watching the games. It was heavy. It's just tough. It's horrible news.

    "If you look at the things he stood for, what he wanted to be remembered by, I felt like, if anything, it helped me tonight. When I was down a break in the fourth, I was definitely thinking about it. I fought back."

    Kyrgios is a fan of the Boston Celtics, a side who were often on the receiving end of Bryant's brilliance, but the 24-year-old had long admired the five-time NBA champion's skill and dedication to his craft.

    "I'm a Celtic fan. When I saw Kobe do what he does, break the hearts of so many Celtics fans, it was tough to see," he said.

    "I don't think they make them like him anymore. He was different, the way he trained, the way he did things, the way he played. He was special."

  • Australian Open 2020: Nadal admits to bout of nerves against Kyrgios Australian Open 2020: Nadal admits to bout of nerves against Kyrgios

    Rafael Nadal conceded nerves almost got the better of him at one stage against Nick Kyrgios but feels he is playing better every day after booking an Australian Open quarter-final against Dominic Thiem.

    The world number one hit 64 winners to just 27 unforced errors to impressively beat a motivated Kyrgios 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) in a tense fourth-round encounter.

    While the Australian acknowledged Nadal had performed better than him on the biggest points, the Spaniard noted he had struggled at one key period on Monday.

    Serving for the match at 5-4 up in the fourth set, he lost the game to allow Kyrgios back into the match and had to make a gutsy hold soon after just to force a second tie-break, which he ultimately won.

    "I played a bad game, that's true," said Nadal. "I was playing great with my serve, winning all the games with very positive feelings. 

    "In the 5-4 game, like everybody, I get a little bit more nerves, I was nervous at that moment.

    "I played a bad game. I accept I was more nervous at that moment. I am humble enough to accept that sometimes I am nervous and I can have mistakes. That's what happened.

    "I kept going, because in the next game I have 15-40 again. I was not able to achieve the break but I said after it got to 6-5, 'I need to forget the bad game with my serve, we are still very close to the victory'. 

    "I needed to play with the right determination until the end of this set. I can lose, I can win, but I cannot play with more nerves than what I should. I did it already once, and I didn't want to repeat that. 

    "And I think I didn't – in the 6-5 I played a great game with my serve. In the tie-break, I was serving well. I played a solid tie-break.

    "Anything could happen in the tie-breaks. Both of them have been very close."

    Nadal is optimistic about the state of his game after reaching a 12th Australian Open quarter-final, with the Kyrgios match being the first time he has dropped a set at the tournament.

    He added: "I am moving in the right direction. Every day I'm playing a little bit better.

    "Very tough match next against Dominic. He's playing well. I saw him play against Gael Monfils and he was playing tennis at a very high level.

    "We know each other well. He's a player that I like a lot, the way that he works, the way that he plays, and the way that he tries his best always.

    "It is a match that going to be a tough one, but it will be interesting, no? I am excited to play this quarter-final. I know I have to be at my best to have chances."

  • Australian Open 2020: Kyrgios 'shattered' to lose but appreciates 'champion' Nadal Australian Open 2020: Kyrgios 'shattered' to lose but appreciates 'champion' Nadal

    Nick Kyrgios conceded he was "shattered" to have a lost his tense fourth-round match against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, but spoke of his appreciation for the world number one.

    Amid an apparent softening of relations between the two rivals, Nadal praised Kyrgios in his on-court interview after winning a close encounter 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) in three hours and 38 minutes.

    Having overcome a worthy opponent, Nadal said the 24-year-old could contend at any tournament if he maintains his level of performance.

    The scoreline was the same as when he beat Kyrgios at Wimbledon last year, but the Australian felt he was much closer to securing an upset victory this time.

    "I mean, I appreciate it," Kyrgios said when he was asked about Nadal's comments.

    "I've known that for the last four years but the trouble for me is being able to actually just produce the same attitude over and over again. Hopefully I can keep doing it. I'm just taking it day by day, trying to be positive, just bring positive vibes.

    "Rafa was really good. Played too good. The court was really, really slow. I just couldn't get a ball past him. 

    "I was trying to serve and volley, trying to dropshot. Eventually I would have to win the point three times to win a point. That's just the champion he is, the player he is. 

    "He makes you play the extra ball. He played well, considering how slow [the court] was. He served really well, hit his backhand slice really well. He just played the bigger points better than I did.

    "I'm shattered to have lost. Obviously these are the matches that I want to win the most. I had chances. I was a couple of points away from the third set and the fourth set.

    "It felt a lot closer this time, especially in the 5-5 game in the third set where I was at deuce a couple times. He played some unbelievable points. I felt like if I got that third set, I would have really, really been on top of him.

    "I was kind of feeling the match turn a little bit. If I break in that game, I thought I was going to raise my intensity, my energy. I definitely felt a lot closer this time around. The one at Wimbledon, I felt like I wasn't playing as good."

    Kyrgios has been pleased with his progress on and off the court over the past month after an emotional period where he inspired fundraising efforts for the bushfire crisis in Australia.

    And his tournament is not yet over with a mixed doubles campaign alongside Amanda Anisimova ongoing.

    Kyrgios added: "Overall all this summer has been fun. My focus shifts to mixed now.

    "I just want to go out there and have fun. I'm still in the tournament. I'm not going to take it for granted, another day at the Australian Open.

    "I think I'm playing better tennis than I was [in making the 2015 quarter-finals]. You look at my draw back then to the opponents I played this time around, probably a lot tougher this time.

    "I felt good. I actually felt fresh. I was ready to go five if it needed to get there.

    "I feel like I've made progress as a human. A tennis player, I don't really care about as much, but I feel good and for sure I want to keep going in this direction."

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