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Organisers dismiss Australian Open delay ‘speculation’ | Tennis News

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MELBOURNE: Tennis Australia (TA) dismissed on Saturday media reports claiming the start of the Australian Open is set to be pushed back from January to February or March next year due to COVID-19 protocols in the country.
The Herald Sun newspaper reported the year’s first Grand Slam risked being deferred even as the organisers discuss quarantine arrangements with the Victoria state government.
“It’s pure speculation,” a TA spokesperson said.
“Earlier in the week we… (said) how we continue to work closely with the Victorian government and we will update with more information as soon as possible, and there’s no update from that at the moment.”
The report quoted Victoria premier Daniel Andrews as saying he was “very confident” of hosting the Grand Slam but the exact timing and arrangements “are not settled yet”.
The TA had planned for players and their entourages to arrive in Victoria in mid-December to have time to undertake a mandatory two-week quarantine period before competing in Melbourne in January.


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“Unparralled Magician”, says Ronaldo, “Eternal Great” for Messi | Football News

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BARCELONA/TURIN: Cristiano Ronaldo hailed an “unparalleled magician” whom he could call “friend” while arch rival Lionel Messi remembered an icon with an “eternal appeal” as the two modern day geniuses joined the world in mourning Diego Maradona‘s untimely death on Wednesday.
Maradona, 60, considered the greatest footballer of all time alongside Brazil’s Pele, died following a cardiac arrest, two weeks after undergoing a surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain.
“Today I say goodbye to a friend and the world says goodbye to an eternal genius. One of the best ever. An unparalleled magician. He leaves too soon, but leaves a legacy without limits and a void that will never be filled,” the Portugal and Juventus superstar wrote in his twitter handle.

“Rest in peace, ace. You will never be forgotten.Folded hands,” Ronaldo added.
Maradona died two weeks after he was released from a Buenos Aires hospital following brain surgery.
Messi, who played under Maradona managership in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, termed his illustrious predecessor’s death as “sad for the beautiful game.”
“A very sad day for all Argentines and football. leaves us but he he doesn’t leave, because Diego is eternal,” Messi wrote in an Instagram post.

“I take the cute moments lived with him and wanted to take an opportunity to send condolences to all his family and and friends. RIP.”



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Diego Maradona: Argentine football genius Maradona saw heaven and hell | Football News

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World football great Diego Armando Maradona, who died on Wednesday less than a month after his 60th birthday, was worshipped like a god for his genius with the ball, but his demons almost destroyed him.
Maradona had died after suffering a heart attack at his home in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, those close to him confirmed.

Rising to stardom from a grimy Buenos Aires slum to lead Argentina to World Cup victory, Maradona was a rags-to-riches story in his soccer-mad homeland and gained the iconic status of fellow Argentines Che Guevara and Evita Peron.

One of the most gifted soccer players in history, Maradona’s pinnacle of glory came when he captained Argentina to win the World Cup in 1986 before plunging to misery when he was kicked out the 1994 World Cup for doping.

Years of drug use, overeating and alcoholism truncated a stellar career and altered his appearance from the lithe athlete who could slalom effortlessly through teams to a bloated addict who nearly died of cocaine-induced heart failure in 2000.

But he reinvented himself in a stunning comeback in 2008 as coach of the Argentina team, persuading managers that with sheer charisma he could inspire the team to victory, despite a lack of coaching experience.

A magician with the ball – deceptively quick and a visionary passer – Maradona is considered by some as the greatest soccer player ever, edging out that other great, Brazil’s Pele. In Argentina, he was worshipped as ‘El Dios’ – The God – partly a play on words on his number 10 shirt, ‘El Diez.’

He was largely responsible for Argentina’s World Cup victory in 1986 in Mexico, scoring two famous goals in one game against England in the quarter-finals.

The first was a notorious goal scored with his fist, and the second, where he dribbled past half the England team, is often called the goal of the century.

“It was partly by the hand of God and partly with the head of Maradona,” he said of his opener in the 2-1 win.

ON THE BALL FROM THE START
Born on October 30, 1960 in the Buenos Aires working class suburb of Lanus, the fifth of eight children of a factory worker, Maradona grew up in the Villa Fiorito shanty town.
His mother Dalma, known to his fans as “Dona Tota,” saw a star reflected on the floor in the church where her son was baptized and imagined a bright future as an accountant.
But Maradona’s love affair with soccer was apparent from the start. Given his first football as an infant, he slept with it under his arm.
Discovered in street kickabouts by the scout for first division club Argentinos Juniors, the prodigy made his league debut at 15.
At 17 he just missed inclusion in Argentina’s 1978 World Cup-winning squad at home. In the 1982 tournament in Spain, a sending-off against Brazil was a fitting prologue to two unhappy seasons at Barcelona, marred by hepatitis and injury.
But then came liberation, and triumph. In 1984, he moved to Napoli for a then world-record $7.5 million contract. Maradona helped underdogs Napoli to the Italian title twice – creating a whole new set of adoring fans in the process.
And, after the 1986 World Cup triumph in Mexico, he also coaxed a mediocre Argentine team to a second successive World Cup final in Rome in 1990.
But by 1991, drugs and alcohol began taking over his life.
That year Maradona was handed a 15-month suspension from football worldwide for doping and was called to trial in Naples over alleged links with a vice ring.
He was banned again for 15 months after testing positive for drugs at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
The compact, 5-foot 4-inch (1.65m) player with dark curly hair and a pugnacious set to his jaw surrounded himself with an entourage of yes-men and became known for his sharp-tongued confrontations with reporters and critics.
Through the years he reflected publicly on his greatness and on his weaknesses, publishing books of photos and quotes about himself and hosting a television show.
“Soccer is the most beautiful and healthy sport in the world. Soccer shouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes. It’s not the ball’s fault,” he said.
SLOW-MOTION SUICIDE
Maradona retired from professional soccer in 1997 and after his brush with death in 2000 he underwent drug rehabilitation, living off-and-on in Cuba between 2000 and 2005, where he often spent time with Fidel Castro. He had a tattoo of the Cuban leader on his leg – and one of fellow revolutionary Che on his arm.
For many, his off-pitch sins overshadowed his genius.
“My main doubt is whether he has the sufficient greatness as a person to justify being honored by a worldwide audience,” Pele said after a popular vote gave Maradona the FIFA century award in 2000, leaving Pele in second place.
Argentine media obsessed over Maradona’s addictive personality, with blanket coverage of his 2005 gastric bypass operation to lose weight and his 2007 hospitalization for life-threatening alcohol-induced hepatitis.
Drug and alcohol experts called Maradona’s abuse of one substance after another a slow-motion suicide.
But Maradona cleaned up and bounced back. In 2008 he talked himself into a position as the coach of Argentina’s national team.
Many Argentines doubted he could get a talented squad of players to act as a coherent unit, and they seemed justified when the team barely squeaked through the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, finally crashing out in the quarter-finals.
Spells coaching in the United Arab Emirates were followed by a stint in charge of Mexican second division club Dorados de Sinaloa, before returning to Argentina to take over Gimnasia y Esgrima in La Plata in 2019.
All the while, Maradona was never far from the front pages.
During a rest cure in Italy, tax police confiscated his trademark diamond earring to help pay back taxes. In 2010 he was rushed to a hospital in the middle of the night for reconstructive surgery after one of his own dogs bit his lip.
With his knees causing him increasing pain and his weight fluctuating, his mobility was hampered and his famous speed long gone.
But fans remained devoted. From China to Europe, Argentines found they could make friends just by mentioning Maradona’s name.
Some created the Maradoniana Church, complete with its own religious imagery and 10 Commandments, one of which is, ‘Make Diego your middle name and name your first son Diego.’
Maradona was an antidote to upheaval for Argentina as it suffered successive economic crises and humiliating defeat to England after the 1982 conflict over the Falklands, or Malvinas Islands.
And he was balm for the wounded soul of Argentines, obsessed with their country’s perpetual failure to live up to its potential on the world stage.
“In our collective imagination Diego Maradona represents a certain glorious past, he’s a symbol of what we might have been,” popular culture professor at Buenos Aires University and Maradona expert Pablo Alabarces has said.
“He will always be forgiven,” said Maradona fan Marcelo Pose, a Buenos Aires attorney.



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Diego Maradona – Five of his greatest goals | Football News

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BUENOS AIRES: Few players mastered the spectacular quite like Diego Maradona. From stunning free-kicks to winding dribbles, the Argentine, who has died at the age of 60, scored some of the most famous — and thrilling — goals in football history.
Here we pick five of the best from arguably the greatest footballer to ever play the game:

The solo goal against which all solo goals will be judged. Named the “Goal of the Century” by FIFA in 2002, his high-speed slalom in Mexico in 1986 ended England’s World Cup and cemented Maradona’s position as the world’s best footballer.

The goal trumps others of its type not just because of its impact, the stage, the spectre of the Falklands War and the fact that it came just minutes after his notorious ‘Hand of God’ goal, but for the efficiency of its execution.

Maradona barely deviates from his path towards goal the moment he spins free in midfield, with a few drops of the shoulder enough to embarrass England for the second time in the space of five minutes.
“Diego assures me that he meant to pass to me several times but there was always some obstacle that forced him to change plans. Just as well,” striker Jorge Valdano, who followed Maradona up the field, said later.
“But let’s not deceive ourselves, I am convinced that Diego was never going to release that ball. Throughout those 10 seconds and 10 touches, he changed his mind hundreds of times because that’s how the mind of genius in action works.”
Nicknamed the “divine free-kick” in Italy, Maradona’s iconic winning goal for Napoli in the November 1985 home clash with Michel Platini’s Juventus — reigning European champions — was the one that created the Argentine’s legend in Naples.
Standing over an indirect free-kick well inside the penalty area, legend has it that Maradona asked midfielder Eraldo Pecci to roll him the ball for a shot despite the closeness of the Juventus wall.
With Napoli players furious at their Juve counterparts for not stepping further back, Maradona simply said: “Don’t worry, I’ll score anyway”.
A quick touch from Pecci was all he needed to flick a stupendous effort over a group of Juve players who were practically on his toes as he hit the ball and past a bamboozled Stefano Tacconi in the Juve goal.
“With this goal,” he wrote in 2017, “I conquered the hearts of Neapolitans.”
There were more crucial goals among Maradona’s 115 for Napoli, but few matched the sheer nonchalance of his outrageous lob in a 5-0 hammering of reigning Serie A champions Hellas Verona in October 1985.
Collecting a long pass with his back to goal on the left flank, Maradona span round and saw future teammate Giuliano Giuliani positioned just too far to the left, only a few yards off his line.
Quick as a flash, and with the ball still bouncing, Maradona took a step and clipped a looping shot towards goal that gently faded off the left post as Giuliani realised — too late — that he was about to be humiliated.
His world-beating effort against England is rightly the goal everyone remembers, but his second of another double against Belgium in the semi-finals of the same World Cup in 1986 was almost as good.
Picking the ball up on the edge of midfield in the 63rd minute having already put Argentina a goal ahead, he quickly advanced and sent three Belgium defenders packing with one shimmy which allowed him to charge into the penalty area.
Having now isolated flat-footed right back Eric Gerets, he drags ball and defender to the left before cutting his shot back across goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, who can only sit on his backside as a fierce drive flashes past him and puts Maradona to within touching distance of World Cup glory.
A lifelong Boca Juniors fan, Maradona spent barely a year and a half at his boyhood club before departing for Europe, but he quickly won the hearts of the supporters of the Buenos Aires giants with his prodigious attacking play.
In November 1981 Maradona lit up River Plate’s Monumental stadium with the sort of vision that took him to the very top of the game, somehow scoring from a tight angle on the left flank with nothing on and barely any gap in which to squeeze the ball.
The shot both floated and flew past a bewildered River and Argentina stopper Ubaldo Fillol, who in a foreshadowing of Giuliani’s desperation for Verona, raced in vain towards his near post but was beaten before he had even moved.


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