Sport news in brief
Raducanu has a ‘long way to go’ after ‘ruthless’ Swiatek defeat
Emma Raducanu reflected on a “positive week” at Indian Wells but admitted defeat to world number one Iga Swiatek in the fourth round showed she has a “long way to go” to get back to full physical fitness. Raducanu was an injury doubt ahead of the tournament in California after the recurrence of a wrist problem and the 20-year-old was still feeling the effects of a bout of tonsillitis, but managed to pull off some of her best victories since her US Open run.
The British No 1 defeated Australian Open semi-finalist Magda Linette and world No 13 Beatriz Haddad Maia to reach the fourth round, where Swiatek won their second competitive meeting in straight sets. Raducanu said she tired in the second set after coming into Indian Wells short of match practice as she now aims for a consistent block of training ahead of the Miami Open later this month. “I can take a positive week,” Raducanu said after her 6-3 6-1 defeat to Swiatek, which came in an hour and 24 minutes.
“I did two good training weeks in London. They paid off to an extent but ultimately two weeks of training isn’t going to cut it against the world number one right now. I’m looking forward to playing her after I’ve got more time under my belt. Physically I feel like that’s going to be one of my biggest assets. I think that I’m going to be one of the best athletes on the tour, and that’s going to be a big part of my game. I would say there is a very long way to go, but I’m definitely starting the right work now. Iga showed why she is number one in the world. She was very ruthless. I was able to stay competitive for the beginning of the match but ultimately she ground me down and by the end of it I was just taking way too long to recover.”
A Dream To Share delivers emotional Cheltenham win
There was a very special conclusion to day two of the Cheltenham Festival when 18-year-old John Gleeson steered John Kiely’s A Dream To Share to a thrilling Weatherbys Champion Bumper success. The 85-year-old Kiely has won many big races throughout a long and distinguished career in the training ranks but one notable omission was a victory at the festival. He found the perfect ally to fill that void in the unbeaten five-year-old, who was bred and previously owned by ITV and RTE presenter Brian Gleeson – father of jockey John – and his wife Claire.
He headed to Prestbury Park on the back of a win at the Dublin Racing Festival last month, and with new owners, having been snapped up to run in the colours of JP McManus. But the 7-2
chance remained the mount of the younger Gleeson who produced a ride befitting a man with much more experience than his tender years and someone experiencing the white-hot atmosphere of the festival for the first time.
Kiely said: “I was always happy with the horse all the way through, he’s been a nice horse since day one but I was concerned about the ground today to be honest. I knew the horse was tip-top but I was worried about the ground so I’m delighted with the way it worked out. This horse is named well isn’t he, they named him on Christmas day as a family, A Dream To Share, it’s lovely.” PA
March strike has Brighton dreaming of Europe
Solly March’s timely goal boosted Brighton’s bid for Europe as they sank derby rivals Crystal Palace 1-0 in the Premier League. March scored the winner in the 15th minute to move the Seagulls level on points with sixth-placed Liverpool with a game in hand. It also provided a double celebration for Brighton chairman Tony Bloom after his horse Energumene won the Champion Chase at Cheltenham. The problems are mounting up for Palace, though, after their winless run stretched to 11 matches.
Meanwhile along the south coast, Ivan Toney was on target again to give Brentford’s slim chances of securing a place in Europe a boost following a 2-0 Premier League win at struggling Southampton. The Bees had a 12-match unbeaten run that bolstered the aspirations broken by a 1-0 defeat at Everton but bounced back on a wet day.
Toney poked the ball into the net from a corner for his 16th goal of the season in a game with few clear-cut chances, before Yoane Wissa wrapped up all three points with a second in second-half stoppage time. The result ensures Saints remain rooted to the foot of the table, despite a recent improvement in fortunes including a draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Napoli prove they’re Champions League contenders
Napoli cruised into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a comfortable 5-0 aggregate victory over Eintracht Frankfurt last night. Victor Osimhen hit a brace as the hosts won the second leg 3-0 in Naples as three Italian clubs reached the last eight for the first time since 2006.
Trouble in the streets of the city between supporters marred the evening but on the pitch it was one-way traffic as a Piotr Zielinski penalty sealed victory for the Serie A leaders. Napoli were always favourites to advance after a good win in Germany and Osimhen’s fine header on the stroke of half-time sent them on their way. A close-range finish after the restart all-but secured safe passage before Zielinksi won and scored a spot-kick.
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