Kyr­gios pulls Aussies level in Davis Cup clash against Bel­gium

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

CHICAGO: Marc Leish­man fired eight birdies in a seven-un­der 64 on Friday to stretch his lead in the BMW Cham­pi­onship to three strokes over fel­low Aussie Ja­son Day and Rickie Fowler.

Af­ter his only bo­gey of the day at the par-three 17th, Leish­man birdied the par-five 18th at Con­way Farms to com­plete 36 holes at 16-un­der par 126. “I’m pretty happy with back­ing up a 62 with a 64,” said Leish­man, who started the day with a two-stroke lead.

Four birdies on each side en­sured Leish­man fin­ished the day atop the leader­board de­spite the strong per­for­mances of Day and Fowler.

“I re­ally took that as a chal­lenge to­day, to not take it for granted that you’re just go­ing to make birdies,” added Leish­man, whose two US PGA Tour ti­tles in­clude this year’s Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional.

“You still have to earn every birdie. I think when you do get ahead of your­self, that’s when bad stuff can hap­pen.”

For­mer world num­ber one Day, seek­ing his first vic­tory in more than a year, carded a six-un­der 65, ben­e­fit­ing from what he called a “lucky” hole-in-one at the parthree 17th — where his tee shot hit in front of the green, bounced and rolled in.

“We were try­ing to land it 182 (yards) and I kind of pushed it,” said Day, who won the 2015 ti­tle at Con­way Farms. “It was a lucky holein-one, I guess.

“It’s been, I think, 10 years since last time I had a hole-in-one,” added Day, who had al­ready chipped in for ea­gle at the par-five 14th. “I’ve had two ea­gles and a hole-in-one this week al­ready, so ev­ery­thing’s come in bunches.”

Fowler also fin­ished strong, with three birdies and an ea­gle from the 13th through 17th of a 64 for 129.

Amer­i­can Patrick Cant­lay was alone in fourth af­ter a 65 for 132.

Bri­tish Open cham­pion Jor­dan Spi­eth, who topped the FedEx Cup stand­ings com­ing into the penul­ti­mate event of the US PGA Tour’s four-tour­na­ment play­off series, carded a one-un­der par 70 to lie nine shots off the pace on 135.

Spi­eth played the first two rounds along­side PGA Cham­pi­onship win­ner Justin Thomas and world num­ber one Dustin John­son — who came into the tour­na­ment sec­ond and third in the race for the $10 mil­lion play­off bonus that will be up for grabs at next week’s Tour Cham­pi­onship.

Thomas also carded a 70 that left him in a group on 137 while John­son closed with back-to-back bo­geys in a 72 that left him lan­guish­ing on one-over 143. MCIL­ROY HOPES FADE It was a dis­ap­point­ing fin­ish for de­fend­ing cham­pion John­son, who needed two chips to get out of the green­side rough at 17, and was in the wa­ter at the fi­nal hole.

North­ern Ire­land’s Rory McIl­roy saw his slim hopes of de­fend­ing the FedEx Cup play­off ti­tle dwin­dle fur­ther as his sec­ond-round 69 left him 15 off the lead.

McIl­roy came into the tour­na­ment in 51st place in the play­off stand­ings, with only the top 30 af­ter this week’s tour­na­ment ad­vanc­ing to the Tour Cham­pi­onship in At­lanta.

“It’s hard be­cause I know that re­al­is­ti­cally there’s not much chance of get­ting in next week, but I still want to go out there and play well,” McIl­roy said. “I’m here, so I might as well try to play well and try to get the most out of my­self.” — AFP PARIS: Nick Kyr­gios clinched a fiveset thriller to pull Aus­tralia level with Bel­gium in the Davis Cup semi­fi­nals on Friday, just hours af­ter ad­mit­ting he wasn’t tak­ing ten­nis se­ri­ously enough.

The com­bustible Kyr­gios came back from two sets to one down to de­feat 33-year-old Steve Dar­cis 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2 in 3hr 36min on the clay courts of Brus­sels’ Palais 12 arena.

Kyr­gios fired 34 aces and 41 win­ners to take his Davis Cup sin­gles record to seven wins in eight, as Aus­tralia fin­ished the day at 1-1 af­ter world num­ber 12 David Gof­fin had beaten 185-ranked John Mill­man 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

Kyr­gios, de­feated in the first round of the US Open by com­pa­triot Mill­man ear­lier this month, went into the match suf­fer­ing a hip in­jury as well as a lack of mo­ti­va­tion.

Writ­ing on www.play­ersvoice.com, the 22-year-old said: “I am not the pro­fes­sional ten­nis needs me to be”.

“I’m not mak­ing the im­prove­ments I should be­cause I don’t want it enough, I’m not tak­ing it se­ri­ously enough.

“There is a con­stant tug-of-war be­tween the com­peti­tor within me want­ing to win, win, win and the hu­man in me want­ing to live a nor­mal life with my fam­ily away from the pub­lic glare.”

How­ever, he was over­joyed by his per­for­mance in Brus­sels as Aus­tralia, the 28-time cham­pi­ons, seek a place in the Davis Cup fi­nal for the first time since they last won the ti­tle in 2003.

“(Cap­tain) Lley­ton He­witt and I have put so much ded­i­ca­tion into this, the Davis Cup has been my No 1 pri­or­ity this year. I think we must be favourites go­ing into the dou­bles’ to­mor­row,” Kyr­gios told dav­iscup.com.

Jor­dan Thomp­son and John Peers will play the dou­bles against Arthur De Greef and Ruben Bemel­mans with the re­verse sin­gles to be played on Sun­day.

In Lille, Du­san La­jovic made a mock­ery of the ab­sence of No­vak Djokovic to give Ser­bia a shock lead over France in their semi­fi­nal.

World num­ber 80 La­jovic edged Lu­cas Pouille, ranked 58 places higher, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5) in the first rub­ber of the tie also be­ing played on clay.

“This is what the Davis Cup is all about,” said Ser­bia cap­tain Ne­nad Zi­mon­jic, who is with­out his three lead­ing sin­gles play­ers — Djokovic, who is side­lined un­til 2018 with a wrist in­jury, Janko Tip­sare­vic and Vik­tor Troicki.

How­ever, France, the nine-time cham­pi­ons, lev­elled the tie at 1-1 when Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga downed Davis Cup debu­tant and world num­ber 95 Laslo Djere, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-3. Noah ‘stressed’ - France cap­tain Yan­nick Noah was crit­i­cal of his own per­for­mance.

“I did not have a very good match as a cap­tain. I was a bit stressed and I think I passed my stress to Lu­cas,” he said. “I’ll have to im­prove our com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the next rub­ber.”

In the play-offs, where the win­ners will com­pete in the World Group next sea­son, 2016 cham­pi­ons Ar­gentina are 1-1 against Kaza­khstan af­ter US Open quar­ter­fi­nal­ist Diego Schwartz­man eased past Dimtri Popko 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

Mikhail Kukushkin had given the hosts the lead by see­ing off Guido Pella 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-4.

Boris Becker’s first day as head of men’s ten­nis with Ger­many ended with his coun­try — miss­ing broth­ers Alexan­der and Mis­cha Zverev — level at 1-1 in Por­tu­gal. Ja­pan are 2-0 up on Brazil as are the Czech Repub­lic in the Nether­lands.

— USA To­day Sports

Rickie Fowler watches his birdie putt fall into the cup on the 17th green dur­ing the sec­ond round of the BMW Cham­pi­onship at Con­way Farms Golf Club.

— AFP

Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos con­trols the ball dur­ing the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League match at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu Sta­dium in Madrid.

— AFP

Aus­tralia’s Nick Kyr­gios re­turns the ball to Bel­gium’s Steve Dar­cis dur­ing the Davis Cup semi­fi­nal in Brus­sels.

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