Coppa Italia | Juventus 4-1 Sampdoria: Holders dominate in Turin

Juventus swept managerless Sampdoria aside 4-1 to book their spot in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, with Juan Cuadrado, Daniele Rugani, Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata on target.

The 2020-21 Coppa winners will face either Sassuolo or Cagliari in the next phase in early February.

The Bianconeri had Moise Kean, Matthijs de Ligt and coach Max Allegri sitting out bans, with Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi injured, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci not 100 per cent fit, but Danilo made his comeback. Samp sacked Roberto D’Aversa yesterday, so played under youth team boss Felice Tufano and director Angelo Palumbo instead. They missed  Maya Yoshida, Omar Colley, Julian Chabot, Emil Audero, Mikkel Damsgaard, Valerio Verre, Albin Ekdal and Fabio Quagliarella.

Coppa Italia Liveblog: Juventus vs. Sampdoria

Wladimiro Falcone got one hand to the Juan Cuadrado strike at the base of the near post and Mattia De Sciglio tested the goalkeeper.

Juve took the lead when a ferocious Cuadrado free kick from the edge of the box burst through the wall and took a slight deflection to squirm off Falcone’s glove into the far bottom corner.

Moments later, the Bianconeri had the ball in the net again with Alvaro Morata after a smart give-and-go with Cuadrado. However, VAR was used to check an Adrien Rabiot foul on Tomas Rincon in the build-up, so it was disallowed.

Falcone made a remarkable reaction save from point-blank range as Daniele Rugani redirected a corner with an outstretched boot, while Arthur curled wide.

There was another huge block on the stroke of half-time, Kulusevski rolling across for Morata to sweep first-time from eight yards, Falcone kicking it off the line with his trailing leg.

Juventus did double their lead when a corner was taken short, Arthur whipped in a cross for Rugani’s towering header from seven yards into the far bottom corner.

However, Samp got themselves back into it with a well-taken Andrea Conti half-volley on Tommaso Augello’s cross that bounced in off the inside of the far post.

Moments later, Kristoffer Askildsen’s glancing header was just wide, as Juve seemed to go to sleep.

However, so did Samp, a weak Falcone pass playing out from the back intercepted by Manuel Locatelli for substitute Paulo Dybala to sweep home. Unlike at the weekend, he did celebrate.

Nathan Ake came off the bench and within a couple of minutes was brought down by Augello for a penalty, which Morata converted despite Falcone almost getting his fingertips to it.

Adrien Rabiot came close too, hitting the upright from a tight angle, while Dybala forced a couple of difficult saves.

Juventus 4-1 Sampdoria

Cuadrado 25 (J), Rugani 52 (J), Conti 63 (S), Dybala 67 (J), Morata pen 77 (J)

Coppa Italia | Lazio 1-0 Udinese (aet): Immobile lob sets up Milan clash

Lazio will face Milan in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, but needed extra time and a Ciro Immobile lob to get the better of Udinese.

These sides drew 4-4 when they met in Serie A last month, so much was expected from this Coppa clash, even if many of the players had changed.

Udinese threatened early on, a free kick only grazing the boot of Isaac Success in front of goal, while Lazio went even closer from a set play with Vedat Muriqi’s header parried.

Rodrigo Becao made a desperate block to prevent Muriqi tapping in the Felipe Anderson cross and another header was smothered.

Mattia Zaccagni went off at half-time after Success accidentally fell on him, seemingly causing a bad ankle sprain.

Success forced a save from Pepe Reina after shrugging off Adam Marusic, then an impressive Lazar Samardzic curler was deflected inches past the far post.

Udinese started to grow into the game, so Lazio unleashed top scorer Ciro Immobile off the bench for the final 20 minutes.

Reina used his legs to deny Beto at the near stick, while Raul Moro bent a finish wide for the hosts.

There was a huge double chance for Lazio at the 87th minute, as first Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s strike was parried by the goalkeeper, then Destiny Udogie made a desperate block on the Moro follow-up.

With the last kick of normal time, Milinkovic-Savic’s header from a corner whistled wide, so they had to go to extra time.

Udinese almost broke through when Tolgay Arslan’s free kick was deflected to clip the outside of the near post.

There was a bizarre moment when Ignacio Pussetto accidentally collided heavily with Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri on the touchline and wiped him out, but the pair hugged afterwards and smiled.

Immobile finally broke through when he ran onto a Danilo Cataldi floated ball over the top, took one touch to control and with the second flicked it over the goalkeeper for a perfect lob.

Beto fought back immediately, his header not far wide at all, and nobody was able to take advantage of a Reina error on Samardzic ball into the box.

Lazio 1-0 Udinese aet

Immobile 106 (L)

Coppa Italia LIVE: Juventus vs. Sampdoria

Juventus allow Danilo to make his comeback in defence for Juventus, while Dejan Kulusevski partners Alvaro Morata in the Coppa Italia against a Sampdoria side under their interim manager.

The Round of 16 tie kicks off at the Allianz Juventus Stadium in Turin at 20.00 GMT.

You can follow all the build-up and action as it happens and give your views on the LIVEBLOG.

Coppa Italia Liveblog: Juventus vs. Sampdoria

The winners of this tie, decided after 90 minutes, extra time or penalties, will go on to face either Sassuolo or Cagliari in the quarter-final.

The Bianconeri are feeling the tension after their Supercoppa Italiana extra time defeat to Inter and Paulo Dybala’s glare towards the stands during the win over Udinese.

Coach Allegri sits out a touchline ban, with Matthijs de Ligt and Moise Kean both suspended too.

Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi are injured, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci not at 100 per cent, so Danilo makes his comeback in defence with Kulusevski partnering Morata.

Sampdoria are in even worse condition, having sacked coach D’Aversa yesterday and not found a replacement yet, though they are in talks with Marco Giampaolo.

Youth team staff Felice Tufano and Angelo Colombo therefore sit on the bench.

Among the absentees for the Blucerchiati are Maya Yoshida, Omar Colley, Julian Chabot, Emil Audero, Mikkel Damsgaard, Valerio Verre, Albin Ekdal and Fabio Quagliarella.

New signing Giangiacomo Magnani is therefore thrown straight into the XI for his debut.

Juventus: Perin; De Sciglio, Danilo, Rugani, Alex Sandro; Cuadrado, Arthur, Locatelli, Rabiot; Kulusevski, Morata

Sampdoria: Falcone; Conti, Magnani, Augello, Murru; Thorsby, Askildsen, Rincon, Bereszynski; Torregrossa, Caputo

epa09607788 Juventus' Alvaro Morata in action during the Italian Serie A soccer match Juventus FC vs Atalanta BC at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, 27 November 2021. EPA-EFE/MASSIMO RANA

Tsitsipas Back Up to Speed in Comfortable Australian Open Win

Stefanos Tsitsipas wasted little time getting up to speed at the Australian Open on Tuesday night.

The Greek dispelled any lingering doubts around his recovery from an elbow injury with a quickfire 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 win against Sweden’s Mikael Ymer in two hours and 10 minutes to reach the second round.

Tsitsipas has been understandably cautious at the beginning of the 2022 season. There was concern for the World No. 4 when he withdrew from his opening singles match against Hubert Hurkacz at the ATP Cup earlier this month, but the Greek insisted he just needed more preparation.

Fast-forward two weeks and the fourth seed made a fine start to his Australian Open campaign, showing no signs of physical discomfort against World No. 86 Ymer. Having reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park in 2019 (l. to Nadal) and 2021 (l. to Medvedev), Tsitsipas will hope this win can be a springboard for another deep run in Melbourne.

His run last year also included a meeting with Ymer, in which Tsitsipas dropped just six games in a straight-sets third-round win. The Swede managed a better tally this time around but was still unable to make a real dent in the Greek’s defences.

Tsitsipas won five games in a row in taking the first set 6-1, but had to recover from going down an early break to win the second. A year ago, Ymer had defeated Hubert Hurkacz and Carlos Alcaraz before falling to Tsitsipas, and he showed glimpses of that quality again. However, all too often he found himself pinned to the baseline as Tsitsipas made good use of his volleying skills, winning 34 of 48 points he played at the net.

Tsitsipas’ lack of match practice began to show a little in the third set, with some sloppy errors bringing his unforced error count to 38. He highlighted this area for improvement after the match.

“[I will try to] decrease the unforced errors, I think I had a few more than I usually have,” said Tsitsipas. “When you’re a professional tennis player, these small things can make a massive difference.”

He was also full of praise for Ymer, an opponent he knows well.

“Mikael is someone that I’ve been competing with for the past fifteen years, we are the same age, so it’s special to be facing each other on this court,” said Tsitsipas. “We started from eight years old playing together and now we are playing on Rod Laver [Arena].

“He gave me a hard time, really going after every single ball and staying in the match for as long as he could.”

Next up for Tsitsipas will be Argentine Sebastian Baez, who eliminated Spanish veteran Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 after three hours and 26 minutes.

Baez is used to the big stage after competing in last year’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. At the 21-and-under season finale, the Argentine defeated Hugo Gaston and Lorenzo Musetti to earn a place in the semi-finals, where he lost against Carlos Alcaraz.

De Minaur Feeds Of Aussie Fans To Stage Musetti Comeback

Alex De Minaur fed off strong home support to rally from a set down and defeat Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the Australian Open first round on Tuesday.

A bright start from the sublimely talented Italian suggested that de Minaur would be in for a tough evening on Kia Arena, but Australia’s No. 1 player fought back impressively to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” said de Minaur when addressing the crowd after the match. “I’ve had some great memories on this court, playing in front of my home fans. There’s no place I’d rather be, that’s for sure.

“The most important thing is I stayed positive throughout the whole match. I’m not allowed to get negative on court so if you guys see me negative on court, make sure to tell me off.”

#NextGenATP star Musetti was playing in the Australian Open main draw for the first time but has already shown he has the game for the big stage. He reached the fourth round of the 2021 French Open on his Grand Slam debut, going two sets up on World No. 1 Novak Djokovic before being forced to retire in the fifth set.

“He’s obviously a very talented player,” said de Minaur. “He’s gone to five sets with Novak, so I knew it was going to be a very tough match and I was happy I was able to turn it around after the first set, play some good tennis and move on to the second round.”

At just 22, de Minaur has already won five ATP Tour titles, including two in the 2021 season (Antalya, Eastbourne). He showed some early season form at this year’s ATP Cup in his hometown of Sydney, winning two singles matches, including a confidence-boosting victory over World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini.

The threat of Musetti was immediately evident as the 19-year-old reeled off five consecutive games to seal the first set 6-3. The Italian was never able to build on that early promise, however, and the speed and tenacity of de Minaur began to tell as he took the second set 6-3 to level.

The third set was one-way traffic as Musetti’s game eluded him and the Australian took it 6-0, making it eight games won in a row in the process. Musetti won just five points in the set as the home favourite began to assert his dominance.

The Italian was more competitive again in the fourth set, but de Minaur made sure that his young opponent was constantly under pressure, winning 28 out of 40 points at the net and hitting 34 winners on his way to victory.

De Minaur faces another star of this year’s ATP Cup in the second round, Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak. The World No. 107 won all three singles matches he played for Poland at the team competition two weeks ago, and he came through 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 against Italy’s Andreas Seppi on Tuesday to set the De Minaur clash.

Kyrgios Sets Medvedev Clash In Melbourne

A fired-up Nick Kyrgios provided the entertainment on John Cain Arena Tuesday, downing British qualifier Liam Broady to set up a popcorn second-round match against World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open.

The dynamic Aussie showcased his repertoire of trick shots throughout his 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory, bringing the raucous crowd to their feet with his majestic hitting as he reached the second round in Melbourne for the eighth time.

“I served well today,” Kyrgios said in his on-court interview. “I don’t know what I have done to this crowd as you guys are a zoo now. I am super happy to be here again. We have all had a tough couple of years, so just to be back at Aussie Open and be back here in front of you guys [is great].”

Kyrgios has enjoyed strong results at his home major, advancing to the quarter-finals in 2015 and the fourth round in 2018 and 2020. The 26-year-old set the wheels in motion for another good run, firing 41 winners past Broady to triumph after one hour and 54 minutes.

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Ruthless Medvedev Advances At Australian Open

Medvedev awaits next for the six-time tour-level titlist after the Russian cruised past World No. 91 Henri Laaksonen 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3) in one hour and 56 minutes. Kyrgios holds a good record against the 25-year-old, leading their ATPHead2Head series 2-0. However, their last meeting came back in 2019, when Medvedev was outside the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings.

On facing Medvedev, Kyrgios said: “He is an amazing player. I knew he was going to do some amazing things in this sport. He was won a Grand Slam. I am just going to enjoy it tonight though.”

The World No. 115 was competing for the first time since September, when he represented Team World at the Laver Cup. He showed little sign of rustiness though against Broady, throwing in underarm serves and tweeners as he played with a beaming smile on his face throughout.

Kyrgios started the first and second sets quickly, breaking Broady in the opening game of both as he gained control of the match. The Australian hit with great variety and raised his level in the crucial moments, saving a break point at 0-1 in the third set, before breaking in the following game when his forehand clipped the net, forcing the 28-year-old into a forehand volley error.

The former World No. 13, whose last win before tonight came in the first round in Atlanta in July, won 81 per cent (47/58) of his first-serve points and hit 21 aces in the match to secure victory.

Broady was making his Australian Open debut, having battled through qualifying. The World No. 128 captured his first ATP Challenger Tour trophy last year in Switzerland.

Did You Know?
Kyrgios is also playing doubles in Melbourne, teaming with Adelaide International 2 champion Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Felix Survives, Reaches Round 2

Ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime survived a major scare Tuesday, battling back to defeat Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 0-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second round at the Australian Open for the second time.

The 21-year-old arrived in Melbourne in form after he helped guide Team Canada to the ATP Cup title in Sydney earlier this month. However, the eight-time tour-level titlist was tested to the limit against Ruusuvuori, but found a way through, hitting 26 winners to triumph after three hours and 43 minutes in their first ATPHead2Head meeting.

Auger-Aliassime is making his third appearance in Melbourne, with his best result at a major coming at the US Open last year when he enjoyed a run to the semi-finals. The World No. 9, who fired eight aces in his first-round win against the Finn, will next meet Australian wild card Alex Bolt or Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

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Murray Wins Epic On Australian Open Return

In other action, 24th seed Daniel Evans cruised past David Goffin 6-4, 6-3, 6-0 in one hour and 48 minutes as he maintained his strong start to the season.

The 31-year-old is now 6-1 on the season after he earned three victories for Great Britain at ATP Cup and advanced to the semi-finals at the Sydney Tennis Classic. Evans will play Australian Alexei Popyrin or Adelaide International 2 finalist Arthur Rinderknech in the second round.

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Murray Wins Epic On Australian Open Return

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray earned his first victory at the Australian Open in five years Tuesday as he showed his trademark fighting spirit, overcoming 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 to reach the second round in Melbourne.

Murray, who has struggled with injuries since he reached the fourth round as the top seed in 2017, sat deep behind the baseline against Basilashvili in a physical clash, soaking up the Georgian’s powerful groundstrokes in a performance full of grit and determination to advance after three hours and 52 minutes as he demonstrated his big-match mentality.

It is Murray’s second victory over the 29-year-old in the past week, having beaten the World No. 23 in three sets en route to his first tour-level final since 2019 (Antwerp) at the Sydney Tennis Classic

The 34-year-old’s last appearance in Melbourne came in 2019, when he lost an emotional match against Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets, with many fearing it would be Murray’s last hurrah at a tournament he has reached the final at five times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) due to his hip problem.

However, following further hip surgery, Murray has built himself back up, reaching tour-level quarter-finals in Metz and Stockholm in 2021 and earning Top 10 wins over Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner.

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Ruthless Medvedev Advances At Australian Open

The Scot, who broke Basilashvili nine times on John Cain Arena, will next face Taro Daniel after the Japanese qualifier defeated Chile qualifier Tomas Barrios Vera 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-1.

Murray made a fast start against the Georgian, hitting with consistent depth to force Basilashvili into errors from the baseline as he moved ahead. In a topsy-turvy clash, where the momentum swung one way and then the other, Basilashvili raised his level in the second set to level, before there were three consecutive breaks in the third set from 2-2, with Murray earning two of them to lead once again.

The wild card struggled on serve at the start of the fourth set though as he started to look physically drained. Murray spent large periods of the clash scampering around the baseline to fend off Basilashvili’s heavy groundstrokes, but worked his way back into the set from 2-4 down as he started to close the net effectively to shorten points.

Murray showed courage to save a set point on serve at 4-5, 30/40, striking a powerful backhand cross court as they moved to a tie-break. However, Basilahvili was too strong in the breaker, hitting through Murray to force a decider. Murray changed up the chess board in the five set though, playing more aggressively as he stepped inside the court to dictate. From 4-1 up and nearly home though, Murray squandered his advantage as Basilashvili levelled. However, the Scot maintained his focus and broke again in the 10th game of the set to seal another classic win.

Did You Know?
With his defeat, it is just the second time Basilashvili has lost in five sets, triumphing on six occasions when taken the distance. 

Ruthless Medvedev Advances At Australian Open

New year, same ruthless efficiency for Daniil Medvedev at a hardcourt Grand Slam championship. With a 13-1 record across the Australian Open and US Open in 2021, the Russian dropped just three sets in those 13 victories.

The World No. 2 continued that trend in the first round of the 2022 Aussie Open, blanking Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(3), in Rod Laver Arena.

Playing in his first major since his US Open triumph, Medvedev dropped serve in the opening game, then surrendered little else over the one-hour, 54-minute match. The 2021 AO finalist did not face a break point in sets two and three, though Laaksonen allowed just one break point on his own serve in that period as the match tightened down the stretch.

“He started playing better. He was touching a lot of the lines,” Medvedev said of his opponent’s third-set surge. “He was controlling the game, was hitting full power every shot he had.”

At the crucial moment, Medvedev’s patience paid off. Despite some visible frustration late in the third set—and the loss of a 32-ball rally at 3-2 in the tie-break—the Russian baited his opponent into three unforced errors in winning the match’s last four points.

As the highest-seeded player in the men’s draw, Medvedev is not shying away from the spotlight: “I like pressure,” he said in his on-court interview. “It’s a really important tournament for me always in Australia. I like to play here, I like hard courts. So I always want to do better than I did last year, but it’s not going to be easy.”

After the win over World No. 91 Laaksonen, who was seeking a first Top 5 win to go along with his current career-high ATP Ranking, Medvedev could face home favourite Nick Kyrgios in the second round on Thursday. The Aussie faces British qualifier Liam Broady, who is making his AO debut, later on Tuesday.

Should Medvedev go all the way in Melbourne, he would become the first man in the Open Era to follow up his maiden Grand Slam title with another title in his next major appearance. This feat has been accomplished five times on the WTA, most recently by Naomi Osaka (2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open).

Despite Lapses, Sinner Safely Through To Round 2

On paper, it looked like a routine win. In reality, Jannik Sinner will be looking to tidy up some glitches ahead of his next match at the Australian Open.

The World No. 11 took down Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 7-5, 6-1. But after giving back breaks in the first and second sets, the Italian won’t have been entirely satisfied with the nature of his victory.

Sinner served for the first set at 5-3 only to be broken and also allowed Sousa back on even terms early in the second set after opening a 2-0 lead, when it looked likely that he was heady for a speedy victory.

In the end, however, the Italian used his fresh, young legs to shut down angles for 32-year-old Sousa to hit into on Melbourne’s Park’s newest show court, Kia Arena. Sinner hit 31 winners (to Sousa’s 14) and also 31 unforced errors.

Sinner, who improved to 4-0 on the year following his three ATP Cup victories, next faces the winner of Steve Johnson and Jordan Thompson. He will attempt to reach the Australian Open third round for the first time in three attempts.

More to follow…

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