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Shy Osaka working to be more mature

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MELBOURNE: US Open winner Naomi Osaka admitted on Saturday that she was naturally shy and said one of her key goals in the off-season had been to work on her confidence and become more mature.

The likable 21-year-old Japanese was catapulted into the global spotlight when she won the US Open last year, beating Serena Williams, whose tantrum at the umpire in the final almost overshadowed her achievement.

The breakthrough made her a new standard bearer for tennis in her homeland, Asia and the next generation of women, and she is working hard on living up to the hype.

While focusing on her game during the off-season, she has also been concentrating on better dealing with the off-court responsibilities that come with being a major winner.

“For me one of my biggest goals is to be more mature, like to mature as a person,” she said ahead of her opening round clash at the Australian Open against Poland’s Magda Linette next week.

“And I feel like in a way I am, but in other parts I’m very, like, three years old mentality, you know? I feel like just levelling that out is one of my biggest goals I had during the off-season.”

Winning in Flushing Meadows has meant Osaka now has to do far more media, and her confidence in that department is growing.

But she admits to still struggling in one-on-one situations.

“I mean, in press I feel comfortable because I’m being asked questions,” she said, when it was noted that she seems more relaxed in media conferences.

“But you know when you have to do small talk, like, ‘hello, how are you?’, after that, I don’t know what to do.”

Asked what she does in those situations, she replied: “I go, ‘uhm, okay’, then I walk away.

“But, yeah, I mean, I feel like I’m more comfortable talking to people,” she added. “I’ve sort of been put in the position that I have to. It’s not something I can avoid any more.”

 

 

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Barcelona sign De Jong from Ajax for 75 million euros

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BARCELONA: Barcelona have won the race to sign highly-rated Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, the Spanish club announced on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old will join Barca on July 1 for 75 million euros ($85 million), with a further 11 million euros due to Ajax in additional payments.

De Jong, who is considered one of the most exciting young players in Europe, will begin a five-year contract with his new club.

“Barcelona and Ajax have reached an agreement for the transfer of midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who will be joining the Catalan club from July 1, 2019,” a Barcelona statement read.

“The cost of the transfer is 75 million euros, plus a further 11 million in variables. The player will be signing a contract for the next five seasons, through to 2023/24.”

De Jong had attracted interest from a host of European clubs, with Paris Saint-German and Manchester City reportedly among those keen.

After coming through the ranks at Willem II in the Netherlands, De Jong signed for Ajax in 2015. He has been a first-team regular for the past two seasons.

“He’s a great player, who certainly has a great future,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Saturday.

De Jong will also follow a prestigious line of Dutch players to represent Barcelona, which includes Johan Cruyff, Ronald Koeman, Patrick Kluivert and Frank de Boer.

He will be given an early taste of Spanish football when Ajax face Real Madrid next month in the last 16 of the Champions League.

 

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PCB regrets Durban incident

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LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has expressed regret over the remark made by Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and picked up by the stump mic during the second ODI against South Africa in Durban.
The PCB neither endorses nor supports any comments that have the potential to cause offense, and firmly reiterates their zero-tolerance approach towards racist comments made; in whatever context, said a spokesman of the PCB here on Wednesday night. “This incident has also highlighted the importance and significance of player education and training at all levels. The PCB endeavors to improve their player education programmes to ensure these types of incidents do not happen again,” he said.
“Sarfaraz is one of the most respected cricketers in the world. However, captaining Pakistan is a massive honor and any hurtful remarks by any cricketer, let alone the captain, is not acceptable to the PCB,” he added. The spokesman said, “The PCB is confident that this incident will not affect the series, which has been played in great spirit with some excellent performances from both sides. The PCB is also hopeful that the crowds will continue to turn up in big numbers for the remaining matches to support cricket.”

 

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PSL: Haier joins Peshawar Zalmi as Main Title Sponsor

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LAHORE: Peshawar Zalmi and Haier Pakistan have signed a MoU for Main Title Sponsorship for Peshawar Zalmi for the 4th Edition of Pakistan Super League being played from February 14 in UAE and Pakistan.
Pakistan Super League’s most valued franchise in terms of Media and Brand, Peshawar Zalmi signed the MoU at an impressive ceremony. Chairman Peshawar Zalmi, Javed Afridi and Haier Pakistan Senior Director Li Da Peng signed the MoU here on Wednesday. Also present were Peshawar Zalmi players Kamran Akmal and Umaid Asif. Javed Afridi and Li Da Peng expressed their happiness on the signing and said that Partnership between Haier Pakistan and Peshawar Zalmi will strengthen in future and it will benefit Pakistan Cricket too along Peshawar Zalmi. Javed Afridi said that Haier Pakistan did a great part in past in promotion of Cricket in Pakistan and he is grateful for their tremendous support for Pakistan Sports and Peshawar Zalmi.
Li Da Peng highlighted the efforts of his organization for the uplift of cricket in Pakistan and expressed the hope that with the efforts of Peshawar Zalmi cricket will gain rapid promotion in China as well. “Besides being Pakistan’s number one brand in electronics, Haier is actively involved in sports-related activities and we are gaining rapid success in the field of electronics and sports,” he asserted. Javed Afridi said he has a multi-dimensional vision which focuses on generating more and more cricket activities from the platform of Peshawar Zalmi besides speeding up efforts to play due role in the fields of education and sports. “We are doing it for our country and to contribute in the national duty, we are not just focusing on cricket only we are lending support to hockey which is our national sports and needs immediate attention for its revival,” he said.
Javed Afridi called upon the need for introducing a transparent system in Pakistan Hockey Federation to ensure that funds being provided to them were being spent in the right direction purely on the development of the game. “We will soon reveal our ambitious plan to spend resources in the field of education and health as they are the two most neglected fields in the country and the future of our country heavily depends on improvement and progress of these fields “, he said. He said star-studded Peshawar Zalmi will perform to a higher level in the Pakistan Super League and its players will live up to the expectations by giving their best form and performance in the mega event. Kamran Akmal and Umaid Asif also spokesman on the occasion and reiterated their pledge to support Peshawar Zalmi by putting up their best in the PSL.

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