Naomi Osaka says she was unwilling to sacrifice her happiness after split from coach

Naomi Osaka and Sascha Bajin

World number one Naomi Osaka says she was not willing to “sacrifice” her happiness following her surprise split from coach Sascha Bajin last week.

Osaka split with Bajin 16 days after winning the Australian Open, which sealed back-to-back major titles after she won her first at the 2018 US Open.

“If I’m not waking up happy to practise and happy to be around the people I’m around, this is my life,” Osaka said.

“I’m not going to sacrifice that just to keep a person around.”

Japan’s Osaka, 21, had worked with Bajin for just over a year when she announced the split on Twitter.

Bajin, the 2018 WTA coach of the year, is a former hitting partner of Grand Slam champions Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

Under him, Osaka rose from world number 72 at the start of 2018 to the summit of the rankings little over a year later.

No reason was given for the split at the time, but Osaka says issues with the German had been “brewing” at January’s Australian Open.

“I think some people could see that if they saw how we interacted,” she told reporters at the WTA event in Dubai.

“I’m not going to say anything bad about him because, of course, I’m really grateful for all the things he’s done.

“During the Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it. I’m not sure, but I think you guys noticed.”

Osaka said she hopes to have a new coach in place by the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which starts on 4 March.

“[The most important thing for me is] just to have a positive mindset,” Osaka said. “I don’t want someone that’s in the box saying negative stuff. That would be the worst.

“Yeah, someone that’s kind of direct, not afraid to say things to my face. I’d rather someone say it directly to me than go around my back. That’s one of the biggest things.”

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Kristoff survives late climb but denied by Lutsenko in Oman

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) came close to doubling up at the Tour of Oman on Sunday but, despite surviving the late climb of Al Jissah and winning the finish sprint from the group, the stage 1 winner had to settle for second place as Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) had already crossed the line alone. Consolation came courtesy of the bonus seconds that keep him in the red jersey as overall leader of the race.

The uphill drag of a finish suited Kristoff, but matters were complicated by Al Jissah – 1.4km at 9 per cent – which topped out 5km from the line and was followed by a fast descent into the final kilometre.

As the elastic between Kristoff and the rapidly-thinning main group started to fray on the steep incline, Lutsenko was leaving the bunch at the front end, heading over the top alone. The Kazakh rider was already sat up and celebrating when Kristoff was moving up through the watts.

“It was fast, and I was a bit dropped on the last section of the climb. I had maybe 25 metres to be in the group, and behind me I saw nobody so I was actually alone on the top,” Kristoff told Cyclingnews.

“I just sat on my frame the whole downhill, going very fast through the corners, and I managed to come back to the group, but unfortunately there was a guy in front. I took the sprint but it was for second place.

“I think Lutsenko was the strongest. He deserved the win. To manage to attack in such a finale and stay away, he was very strong.”

Kristoff, who opened his 2019 account on Saturday with a fast sprint on the Suhar Corniche, could take plenty of heart from his second place. As he recalled, he was completely dropped on Al Jissah 12 months ago, when the same finale was used for the corresponding stage of the 2018 edition.

This year he still lost contact, but was climbing well enough that the damage was repairable.

“There wasn’t really anything else I could’ve done,” he said. “I think I did the climb perfectly. It’s just unfortunate there was one guy ahead. Maybe the bunch was not going so fast on the downhill because I came back alone, so maybe there they missed him but anyway for me it was good because I could come back.”

As for the final sprint, with the final 100 metres pitching uphill, Kristoff could see the win was gone but went all-in for second place, beating Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data) to the line, with other pre-stage favourites Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) further back.

“I won the sprint, but ok, it was not a super sprint,” Kristoff said. “I barely managed to pass Gibbons, but I was really tired so I’m really happy I was the fastest in the group.”

The uphill finish at Qurayyat on stage 3 (2.8km at 6.5 per cent) should take Kristoff out of the equation – he was over a minute down last year – but he’ll have the chance to strike again on stage 4, which features three ascents of Al Jabal Street (3.4km at 8.8 per cent), but then a flat 20-kilometre run-in and another uphill drag to the line.

“It’s similar to today but there’s a longer run-in after the climb, so I have chance to come back, but depends how the other guys ride it,” Kristoff said.

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Astana’s Lutsenko powers to solo victory in Stage two of the Tour of Oman

Kazakh moves into second overall as Kristoff retains race lead

Last year’s overall winner Alexey Lutsenko stamped his authority on this year’s Tour of Oman on Sunday, winning stage two at Al Bustan.

In what was an exciting final, the 26 year old Astana rider attacked a strung out peloton on a ramp preceding the final classified climb, and was able to hold on to finish alone.

However, even as the Kazakh champion entered the final uphill straight to the line, the result was not in the bag, the peloton closing him down fast.

Eventually yesterday’s opening stage winner, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) led home a group of 35 riders to finish second, just three seconds back, with Dimension Data’s South African Ryan Gibbons just behind in third. 

Having placed second on the same finish last year, Greg van Avermaet (CCC) had targeted the stage, and tried to bridge to Lutsenko on the final classified climb, but was unable to make contact, eventually finishing 15th.

The result puts Lutsenko into second place overall, Kristoff’s second place enough for him to retain the leader’s red jersey.

How it happened

In a repeat performance of yesterday’s opening stage, four riders escaped the moment the flag dropped for the start of the 156.5km stage between Royal Cavalry Oman and Al Bustan.

Aritz Bagües (Euskadi-Murias), former Belgian champion Preben van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and his two compatriots, Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Lionel Taminaux (Wallonie-Bruxelles) soon opened a lead of 2.15, with just ten kilometres behind them.

In the peloton, while he held little hope of retaining the leader’s jersey, the UAE Team Emirates team of yesterday’s stage winner Alexander Kristoff led the bunch through the dusty, undulating hinterland inland from the nation’s capital, Muscat.

On the approach to the first classified climb at Fanja, with 49km gone, the leaders’ gap had risen to 3.30, though the battle for the king of the mountains classification was such that the group split into two.

However, after van Hecke took maximum points, the quartet reformed on the descent, the lead stretching to 4.30 where it stayed until Taminaux won the day’s first intermediate sprint at Saal, with 83km to go.

It was after this point that the gap began to come down, the bunch knocking a minute off the break’s lead, with Van Avermaet’s CCC squad and Lutsenko’s Astana team leading the charge.

Van Hecke attacked the break on the second of the four climbs, eking out a lead of 40 seconds on two chasers as Taminaux was conclusively dropped back to the closing bunch.

With gap now below 50 seconds, Van Hecke once again attacked on the penultimate short sharp ascent of Al Hamriyah, but when CCC surged from behind, he was finally swallowed up 16km out.

Though there are only three classified climbs during  tomorrow’s 192.5km stage, the longest day of the race overall is likely to prove more challenging than Sunday’s. The uphill finish at Qurayyat is far tougher than today’s, and with the final circuit ascending it twice, a smaller group could be contesting the win.

Results

Tour of Oman 2019, stage two: Royal Cavalry Oman to Al Bustan (156.5km)

1. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana in 4-07-19
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates at .03 sec
3. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
4. Iuri Filosi (Ita) Delco Marseille Provence
5. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2R La Mondiale
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Merida
7. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Katusha Alpecin
8. Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Clément Venturini (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale
10. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana all at same time

General classification after stage two
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates in 7-01-56
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana at .03 sec
3. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data at .12 sec
4. Clément Venturini (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale at .16 sec
5. Iuri Filosi (Ita) Delco Marseille Provence
6. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana
7. Greg van Avermaet (Bel) CCC
8. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Tem Emirates
9. Élie Gesbert (Fra) Arkéa Samsic
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates all at same time. 

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American Nelly Korda wins Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide

Nelly Korda

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open final leaderboard
-17 N Korda; (US); -15 J Ko-young (Kor); -12 H Wei-ling (Tpe); -11 H Nomura (Jap), A Yin (US); -10 A Munoz (Spa), A Sharp (Can); -9 J Ewart Shadoff (Eng), M Steen (US)
Selected others:-7 B Law (Eng); -6 M MacLaren (Eng); -5 Y Liu (Chi); -1 C Hull (Eng)

American Nelly Korda continued her family’s remarkable success in Australia by winning the Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide.

Korda finished on 17 under par, two clear of South Korea’s Ko Jin-young.

Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda who won the 1998 Australian Open men’s singles title.

Her sister Jessica also won the golf Australian Open in 2012 while her brother Sebastian won the tennis junior singles title last year.

The 20-year-old took a three-shot lead into the final round at The Grange and shot a five-under-par 67 to win.

England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff finished in a tie for eighth on nine under.

‘Dad called to say you’re part of the Korda Slam now’

Nelly Korda

Korda was born six months after her father won the Australian Open in Melbourne, the Czech’s only Grand Slam title.

At the start of the week she said she felt “so left out” when her family discussed their Australian titles and when she completed her own victory she celebrated with her father’s trademark scissor kick.

“I’m finally a part of the club,” Korda said.

“I mean this win was really special for my family.

“I think there’s something in the air here, we love coming down under.

“I just got off the phone with my dad and he said, ‘Well, congratulations, you’re part of the Korda Slam now’.”

Petr Korda

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Sunday trading: Get 50% off an Elite smart turbo trainer and PowerTap pedals

We’ve scoured the internet and here are the best picks from the online retailer sales

If you’ve been after a power meter, then this week you’re in luck. Sunday trading’s headline deal is a whopping 53% discount on a set of PowerTap pedals. This is followed up by another 50% discount on a Elite smart turbo trainer as well as £100 off a set of Giro Techlace cycling shoes.

The products featured have been chosen because we know they’re good quality and are an excellent offer at the price we’ve included (at the time of writing). Our tech team have unrivalled expertise and years of experience testing new products, so you can trust our recommendations – and we also know what represents a good deal. Where we’ve reviewed the product we’ve included a link to it so you can read more.

With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

PowerTap P1 pedals were £1050, now £494.99

Read more: PowerTap P1 pedals review

The PowerTap P1 pedals are still one of the best pedal based power meters on the market. They’re accurate, easy to install and have great longevity – we rate them very highly.

Getting left and right power measurement for less than £500 is a great deal, well worth snapping up if you’re on the look out for a power meter.

Buy now: PowerTap P1 pedals at Chain Reaction Cycles for £494.99

Elite Drivo direct drive turbo was £1199, now £650

elite drivo turbo trainer 2

Read more: Elite Drivo smart trainer review

Halfords are offering £650 off of an Elite Drivo smart trainer that’s compatible with Zwift and other smart training software. The Drivo is capable of simulating ascents of 24% and the electro magnetic resistance automatically adjusts. It is a bit heavy compared to competitors but at this discount it’s forgivable.

Buy now: Elite Drivo smart trainer at Halfords for £650

Giro Factor Techlace road shoes were £299, now £199

Giro Factor techlance cycling shoes

Read more: Giro Factor Techlace review

The Giro Factor Techlace offers an in between laces and boa dial retention systems, adding that bit more security and comfort while retaining the great looks that laced shoes are known for. This is partnered to a stiff carbon sole.

Currently, sizes 41 through to 47 are still available.

Buy now: Giro Factor Techlace road shoes at Evans Cycles for £199

Fulcrum Racing 3 clincher wheelset was £549.99, now £384.99

If you’re after a set of training wheels then look no further than these Fulcrums. They’re shallow aluminium rims but they roll well, and at 1560g they’re not too heavy for their level, either.

Buy now: Fulcrum Racing 3 clincher wheelset at ProBikeKit for £384.99

More great deals:

dhb Aeron FLT Roubaix bib tight was £85, now £55

Rapha Classic wind jacket II was £145, now from £58

dhb Classic long sleeve jersey was £55, now £30

Castelli Nanonflex 2 padded bib shorts was £85, now £59.50

Bont Riot Road+ cycling shoe was £149, now from £104

Cateye Volt 1300 front light was £129, now £71.49

Castelli women’s Aero Lite jacket was £175 now £75.00

Shimano Dura-Ace 11-25 cassette was £209.99 now £94.99

Giro Empire SLX cycling shoes were £289.99 now from £129.99

Fizik Arione R3 Versus Evo Kium saddle was £144.99 now from £94.99

Selle Italia Novus Flow saddle was £89.99 now £38.57

100% SpeedCoupe SL sunglasses were £159.99 now £42.50

Rapha poplin collared shirt was £120 now £47.50

Moon Meteor Auto/Arcturus lightset was £67.99 now £34.29

That’s all the deals for now, check back next week for more!

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Genesis Open: Justin Thomas edges ahead of Adam Scott at start of third round

Justin Thomas and Adam Scott both had early starts to complete their second rounds on Saturday

Genesis Open latest third-round leaderboard
-13 J Thomas (US); -12 A Scott (Aus); -11 JB Holmes (US), P Rodgers (US); -10 M Thompson (US); -9 K Jones (US) -8 R McIlroy (NI), P Casey (Eng), T Finau (US); -7 J Spieth (US), K Kraft (US), B Watson (US), Jon Rahm (Spa)
Selected others: -6 T Woods (US); -5 B DeChambeau (US), -4 T Fleetwood (Eng); -3 D Johnson (US); -1 P Mickelson (US), D Willett (Eng)
Full leaderboard

American former world number one Justin Thomas holds a one-shot lead over Adam Scott after an eagle on the first hole of the third round at the Genesis Open.

The pair only managed two holes before bad light intervened at a tournament which has been hampered by rain delays.

They started the round level on 11 under, but Australian Scott’s birdie on the first allowed Thomas to edge ahead.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Englishman Paul Casey are five shots off the lead on eight under.

Four-time major winner McIlroy also birdied the first, while two birdies for Casey in his first four holes kept him in contention.

Tiger Woods made a blistering start to his third round after beginning on the 10th, hitting three birdies and an eagle in his first four holes to move to six under par.

The American 14-time major winner had only just made the cut at one under after two rounds at the par-71 Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

JB Holmes is two shots behind the leaders, alongside fellow American Patrick Rodgers.

Officials are confident of completing 72 holes on Sunday with play set to start at 06:45 local time (14:45 GMT).

Thomas and Scott had similarly early starts on Saturday in order to finish off the remaining holes of their second round in chilly conditions.

Both players carded second-round 65s.

Australian Scott said: “It wasn’t that easy early. It was very cold and hard to have any feel in the hands.”

Tiger Woods

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Valverde misses out on win in Murcia

World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) continued his consistent start to the season with yet another podium place at the Vuelta Murcia, although the Spaniard’s search for a first win the rainbow jersey in 2019 continues.

Valverde finished second to Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) on the second and final day of racing in Murcia with the Movistar rider finishing the race second overall, once again behind Sanchez. Valverde, 38, has now racked up 10 top-10 finishes this season – split between one day races, stages and overall classifications, with half of those results consisting of podium finishes.

On the final stage in Murica, Valverde went on the attack after his Movistar team set the pace on the final climb before the finish. The world champion attacked before the summit but was caught by Luis Leon Sanchez on the descent. The pair initially worked together but with Astana already holding the race lead through Pello Bilbao, the onus was on Valverde to drive the pace. This dynamic allowed Sanchez to sit back and save himself for the sprint. Despite not winning Valverde, who like Sanchez, was racing on home road saw the race as a positive experience.

“Racing in my home region with this jersey on for the last two days already was a victory for me. Every race I take the start of has that special feeling in the rainbow colours,” Valverde said in press release.

“If I’m able to win after that, it’s even better, but I feel like we’re doing just fine at the moment. Runner-up in Valencia, second again here – we’re still missing a victory, but I’m close, and my legs on the climbs feel really good, close or even better than the strongest guys uphill.

“At the Cresta del Gallo, I knew Luis could make up some terrain against me in the downhill, but I had to give it a try with all I had. I jumped solo, though the gap I had built wasn’t enough for Luis not to catch me. We had a couple of good turns together as he caught me, but later on, he started saving more energy because he still had the race leader behind from his own team and couldn’t continue to push.

“That energy I spent in the end helped him win. In the end, it’s one-two for our Murcia region, just like last year, in both the stage and overall – it’s good to have someone from here win and continue to show some of the best cyclists in the world are from Murcia.”

Valverde, a five-time winner of Murcia, will next line up at the UAE Tour, before a clutch of one-day races that include Milan-San Remo. This year, he will target the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España.

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Genesis Open: Justin Thomas & Adam Scott share lead after second round

Justin Thomas

Genesis Open latest second-round leaderboard
-11 J Thomas (US), A Scott (Aus); -10 JB Holmes (US); -9 P Rodgers (US), M Thompson (US); -8 J Spieth (US), T Finau (US); -7 K Jones (US) R McIlroy (NI)
Selected others: -6 P Casey (Eng), B Watson (US); -3 T Fleetwood (Eng); -1 T Woods (US), Evens D Willett (Eng)
Full leaderboard

Former world number ones Justin Thomas and Adam Scott shared the lead at 11 under par after the second round of the rain-delayed Genesis Open.

Half the field only began their second round on Saturday, after heavy rain had affected play on Thursday and Friday.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is four shots off the lead after a bogey-free 63 that included eight birdies.

The field also started the third round on Saturday with only a few hours of daylight left in Los Angeles.

Officials are confident of completing 72 holes by late Sunday at Riviera Country Club.

JB Holmes is one shot back at 10 under while Tiger Woods just to make the cut at one under.

Thomas had to finish off six holes of his second round on Saturday, while Australian Scott had seven left.

American Thomas, who was one of the day’s earliest starters, complained about the cold conditions saying: “I couldn’t feel my toes. In that shade, it was really, really chilly.”

Scott added: “It wasn’t that easy early. It was very cold and hard to have any feel in the hands.”

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Qatar Open: Elise Mertens beats Simona Halep to win her biggest tour title

Elise Mertens

Elise Mertens has claimed the biggest title of her career by beating top seed Simona Halep to win the Qatar Open.

Mertens, 23, recovered from a set and a break down – losing 18 points in a row at one stage in the second set – to beat the world number three 3-6 6-4 6-3.

World number 21 Mertens also overcame a lengthy medical time-out for a back issue in the first set.

“Simona is a great player and it’s nice to get the trophy,” the Belgian said.

Halep, 27, who last won the Qatar title in 2014, said: “Honestly, I wanted to lift this beautiful trophy but Elise deserved it very much.”

Mertens’ triumph over the Romanian was her third win over a top 10 player in Doha.

She had already beaten Angelique Kerber and Kiki Bertens, a year after she was knocked out of the tournament in the first round.

Halep outclassed her opponent in the opening set, but Mertens powered back into the match to force a decider.

The players traded breaks in the third set, but Mertens broke in the fifth game of the final set to make it 3-2 – the 12th break of serve in 24 games in the match.

Halep tried to rally, but at at 5-3 and appearing to be hampered by an injury, she lost her serve, handing Mertens a famous victory.

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Women’s Australian Open: Jodi Ewart Shadoff four shots off lead in Adelaide

Jodi Ewart Shadoff

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open third-round leaderboard
-12 N Korda; (US); -9 H Nomura (Jap); -8 J Ewart Shadoff (Eng), L Jeong-eun (Kor), H Wei-ling (Tpe)
Selected others: -7 B Law (Eng), K Jin-young (Kor), Y Liu (Chi); -1 C Hull (Eng)

England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff is four shots off the lead after the third round of the Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide.

America’s Nelly Korda leads on 12 under par while Ewart Shadoff is in contention after a round of 70.

The 31-year-old, who had shared the lead in the first round, is level with Lee Jeong-eun of South Korea and Taiwanese Hsu Wei-ling at eight under.

England’s Bronte Law is in a group at seven under after also shooting 70.

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