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Rafael Nadal has won a record-breaking 21st grand slam title, beating Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in the Australian Open tennis men’s singles final.

Most of the build-up focused on the historic significance of the Spaniard bidding for his 21st grand slam title, but he found himself under pressure from the start on Rod Laver Arena.

Medvedev stamped his authority on the final by dominating the first set. Nadal saved two break points in a long third game but was then broken to love in the fifth as Medvedev, who was booed onto court by a section of the crowd, proved the steadier from the baseline.

Successive double faults then contributed to a second straight break and Medvedev served out the set 6-2.

There were dramatic scenes with Nadal facing break point serving for the second set at 5-3 when a man waving a banner jumped out of the crowd and down onto the court.

He was only metres from Medvedev but was immediately tackled by several security men and hauled away before the match resumed.

Nadal began to play more offensively in the second set and twice managed to break the Medvedev serve.

But holding his own proved a constant challenge and Medvedev twice responded, saving a set point at 5-3 before hitting back to level.

Into a tie-break they went, and again Nadal led 5-3, but this time Medvedev produced a sequence of fine points to take it 7-5, ending it with a backhand pass and taunting the crowd, who responded with boos.

Nadal had not recovered from two sets down to win a match since beating Mikhail Youzhny at Wimbledon in 2007, while he faded physically after the first two sets against Denis Shapovalov and Matteo Berrettini here.

But his competitive desire has never been in doubt and recovering from 0-40 at 2-3 in third set to hold galvanised the Spaniard.

With Medvedev beginning to look weary and muddled in his shot selection, Nadal pounced at 4-4 before serving out the set 6-4.

Medvedev was allowing himself to become increasingly wound up by the crowd, appealing repeatedly to umpire John Blom to control the “idiots”.

His mood was not improved when he double-faulted to drop serve in the third game of the fourth set and, although he got back on terms immediately, Nadal took his seventh break point in the next game.

Nadal created a set point on his opponent’s serve at 5-3, which Medvedev saved, but the 20-time grand slam champion took it 6-4 on his own serve to level the contest.

Both men headed off court for a bathroom break but Medvedev could not break Nadal’s momentum, a trademark forehand passing shot from the Spaniard giving him a 3-2 lead in the deciding set.

The Russian had three chances to break back in the next game but could not take any of them and Nadal was two points away at 30-0 serving at 5-4.

But a double fault proved costly – and betrayed the tension of the moment – and a netted backhand from Nadal saw Medvedev break back for 5-5.

The Russian, though, could not hold his own serve, giving Nadal a second chance to serve for it.

This time he did not falter, bringing up three match points and clinching it 2-6 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-4 7-5 after five hours and 24 minutes at 1.11am local time.

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Brentford have signed Christian Eriksen to a six-month contract.

They offered the 29-year-old a six-month deal with the option to extend the contract for a further year. Eriksen is a free agent after coming to an agreement with former club Inter Milan to terminate his contract last month.

Eriksen is currently in the Netherlands, training with young players at Ajax. He recently received his COVID-19 vaccination and will only travel to London in the next few days. He will also not train with Brentford this week in order to comply with UK government rules.

He suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s European Championship game against Finland on June 12.

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank said: “I am looking forward to working with Christian again. It has been a while since I last coached him, and a lot has happened since then. Christian was 16 at the time and has become one of the best midfield players to appear in the Premier League. He has also won trophies all over Europe and become the star of the Danish national team.

“We have taken an unbelievable opportunity to bring a world class player to Brentford. He hasn’t trained with a team for seven months but has done a lot of work on his own. He is fit but we will need to get him match fit and I am looking forward to seeing him work with the players and staff to get back towards his highest level.”

Earlier this month, Eriksen stated his ambition to resume his professional career, saying he was targeting a place in Denmark’s squad for the Qatar World Cup later this year.

His agent, Martin Schoots, later said that returning to English football would “feel like coming home”.

Eriksen previously played for Tottenham Hotspur between 2013 and 2020, making over 300 appearances for the north London side.

After being unable to play for Inter due to Serie A’s medical rules about implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), Eriksen was training with Danish club Odense Boldklub — who he played for between 2005 and 2008.

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Manchester United forward Anthony Martial has joined La Liga side Sevilla on loan until the end of the season, both clubs announced on Tuesday.

Martial, 26, will join Sevilla’s title charge in Spain, with the club in second place and trailing Real Madrid by four points.

The France international told United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick that he wanted to leave this month after finding opportunities limited at Old Trafford. Rangnick then accused Martial of refusing to travel to a game against Aston Villa earlier this month, a claim Martial refuted.

He made his first appearance under Rangnick as a substitute against West Ham last weekend and contributed to Marcus Rashford’s winning goal, after being jeered by some United fans when he came on.

“He’s a great player, one of the best strikers in the Premier League, but we have other players in his position. It’s his wish that he wants to leave,” Rangnick said on Saturday.

Martial was one of the brightest prospects in Europe when United signed him for a then world record fee for a teenager in 2015.

After a promising first season under Louis van Gaal, the Frenchman struggled to impress Jose Mourinho during his two-year spell at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment rekindled Martial’s career in Manchester and he enjoyed his best goalscoring season in 2019/20, netting 23 times. But a long-term knee injury saw him miss the second half of last season and he fell down the pecking order after the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho.

He has scored only one goal in 11 appearances this term but could be an astute signing for Sevilla if he can recover his goalscoring form under Julen Lopetegui in Spain.

Sevilla have been hit by a number of injuries to key players, including their top scorer last season, Youssef En-Nesyri. They will also be among the favourites to win the Europa League, particularly as the final will be played at their own Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in May.

Martial will hope the switch can also revive his hopes of playing for France at the World Cup in Qatar later this year. A knee injury scuppered his chances of being included in the French squad at the European Championship last summer while his lack of form meant he was also left out of the last squad in November.

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Achraf Hakimi scored a brilliant free kick to send Morocco through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 win over Malawi on Tuesday.

Gabadinho Mhango gave outsiders Malawi, playing their first knock-out game at the tournament, a shock early lead with a stunning goal from 40 metres at Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium.

But Youssef En-Nesyri headed Morocco level in first-half stoppage time before Hakimi drilled in the winner on 70 minutes to set up a meeting with Egypt or Ivory Coast in the last eight.

When you win you get respect,” said Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

“Malawi scored a fantastic goal. I think we played really well in the first half, unfortunately we lacked efficiency. We had around 10 chances you can’t miss.

“But I was always confident. The team was upset but I knew at some point we would score a second goal. We controlled the match and we more than deserve to qualify.”

Morocco’s quarter-final tie was due to take place at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde but will be moved after a fatal crush outside the ground on Monday, which killed eight people and injured 38.

As with the earlier match between Senegal and Cape Verde in Bafoussam, a minute’s silence was observed before kick-off and players of both teams wore black armbands.

Morocco, bidding for a second Cup of Nations title and first since 1976, fell behind on seven minutes when Mhango caught Yassine Bounou off his line with a superb long-range strike.

The Atlas Lions responded by creating a series of chances as Imran Louza stung the palms of Charles Thomu, who then did well to keep out Hakimi’s powerful free-kick and the follow-up from Louza.

Mhango dragged wide for Malawi after a terrific long ball from Micium Mhone, but the Flames found themselves under sustained pressure as Morocco captain Romain Saiss volleyed against the bar.

En-Nesyri prodded weakly at Thomu from close range before the Malawi goalkeeper tipped Hakimi’s low drive on to the post and then denied Sofiane Boufal with his legs.

Morocco were finally rewarded for their persistence on the stroke of half-time as En-Nesyri rose to power Selim Amallah’s deep cross past Thomu.

Hakimi appealed for a penalty in the second half when his cross struck the arm of Malawi defender Dennis Chembezi, but the Paris Saint-Germain star took matters into his own hands to secure victory.

His late equaliser against Gabon had secured top spot in the group stage, and Hakimi delivered again with another magnificent free-kick 20 minutes from time to end Malawi’s impressive run.

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Hull City have confirmed the departure of head coach Grant McCann after two and a half years in the role.

McCann’s future had been in doubt after Turkish businessman and TV personality Acun Ilicali completed his £20million takeover of the Sky Bet Championship club last Wednesday.

Chairman and owner Ilicali said in a statement: “Grant has done an excellent job for this football club in difficult circumstances, most specifically during the takeover process, and for that I offer my sincere thanks.

“These matters are never easy and are more often than not protracted. During the process, Grant has always remained professional and fully focused on the team, and will forever be a friend of the Tigers. I’m sure Grant will be successful in whatever his next challenge is.”

Ilicali said a new head coach would “be announced very shortly”, while former Rangers striker Shota Arveladze has been reportedly lined up for the job.

Hull also confirmed McCann’s assistant head coach Cliff Byrne had left the club with immediate effect.

Ilicali added: “I understand the timing may look odd, after two good wins, but I wouldn’t be fair or honest if I merely waited for a defeat to change manager.

“That benefits nobody. I will continue to be transparent with you, our fans. Our new head coach will be announced very shortly.”

McCann, 41, ended his time in charge on a high as the Tigers beat promotion-hopefuls Blackburn and Bournemouth in his last two matches.

The former Northern Ireland international was appointed as Nigel Adkins’ replacement in June 2019 and guided Hull to promotion as League One champions last season.

The Tigers ended a five-game winless run with their win over Blackburn earlier this month and currently sit 19th in the table, 10 points clear of the bottom three.

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Watford Football Club are set to appoint former Liverpool, Crystal Palace, and England manager Roy Hodgson as the manager of the club until the end of the season. The 74-year-old will be Watford’s 3rd manager of the 2021/2022 season and will replace the recently sacked Claudio Ranieri.

Ranieri had taken charge of The Hornets in October 2021, after owner Gino Pozzo sacked Xisco Munoz due to a poor run of results. A similar run of results led to the removal of Ranieri as well; he was in charge of the Vicarage Road side for just three-and-a-half months.

A Premier League-winning manager, Ranieri was in Watford dugout for just 12 games. During his time in charge, Watford won just two games, drew one, and lost nine. One of those wins came against a poor-performing Everton side, while the other was against a struggling Manchester United team.

Watford had beaten Manchester United 4-1 on the day. That result led to the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the manager of Manchester United. Nine games later, Ranieri is now gone after his team lost 3-0 to relegation foes, Norwich City.

Hodgson will be Watford’s 15th managerial appointment since the Pozzo family took charge of the club in June 2012. Fourteen managers in less than 10 years is a stat Watford fans will not be proud of. This is a stat that speaks volumes of the instability, and poor decision-making that exists behind the scenes at Watford Football Club.

Hodgson had announced his retirement from football management after 45 years of working in the industry and after his four-year spell at Crystal Palace concluded.

He will sign a six-month contract at Vicarage Road, and his only task will be to ensure Watford stays in the Premier League at the end of the campaign. They will be Hodgson’s sixth Premier League club having worked at Blackburn, Fulham, Liverpool, West Brom, and Palace in the past.

Hodgson will be well aware of the task at hand; the expectations from the fans and the board, and is also familiar with his bosses, having briefly worked with the Pozzo family in the past during his time with Udinese in Serie A, back in 2001.

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Former Celtic manager Wim Jansen has died at the age of 75, his ex-club Feyenoord have announced.

The Dutchman, who had been living with dementia, won the title in his only season in charge in 1997-98, stopping Rangers from winning ten-in-a-row.

Jansen signed club legend Henrik Larsson and also won the League Cup.

He made over 500 appearances for Feyenoord, including the 1970 European Cup final win over Celtic in Milan, and managed the Rotterdam team.

Twice a losing World Cup finalist in 1974 and 1978, he also won four titles with Feyenoord as a player as well as the Uefa Cup in 1974. At the tail end of his career he won another title with Ajax in 1982.

As a manager he won the Dutch Cup twice with Feyenoord.

His old club paid tribute to “a wonderful person and great Feyenoord player”.

Jansen replaced Tommy Burns in July 1997 and was Celtic’s first non British or Irish manager.

The title was clinched by a two-point margin thanks to a final day win at home to St Johnstone, but he resigned almost immediately and was later replaced by Jozef Venglos.

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Brentford boss Thomas Frank has signed a new contract with the club that runs until the end of the 2024-25 season.

The Dane led the Bees to promotion to the Premier League last season as they ended a 74-year exile from the top flight.

Frank’s assistant Brian Riemer has also signed a new contract until 2025.

“They have been integral to the success that we’ve shared over recent seasons,” said Brentford director of football Phil Giles.

“We want to continue to take Brentford forward, to compete with clubs far bigger than us, and to see how far we can progress.

“I am sure that we can build on the success that Thomas and Brian have helped deliver along with all of the other staff and players and look forward to what I hope will be a successful conclusion to the season and beyond.”

Frank took over as Brentford manager in 2018 after stepping up from his role as assistant to Dean Smith, who left to take over as Aston Villa boss.

The Bees beat Arsenal 2-0 in their first Premier League game of the season and are 14th with 23 points from 23 games.

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Hornets close in on Hodgson as Claudio’s successor

Watford are reportedly set to appoint former England boss Roy Hodgson as head coach after sacking Claudio Ranieri.

The relegation-haunted Hornets dropped the axe on Ranieri earlier this evening after the Italian, who was only appointed last October, oversaw 10 defeats in 13 games. 

And former Blackburn, Liverpool, and Crystal Palace boss Hodgson, 74, has emerged as the leading candidate to replace him at Vicarage Road. 

Hodgson has been out of work since leaving Palace at the end of last season and it was widely believed he would not manage again after leaving Selhurst Park. 

But the Croydon-born tactician is now in line to become Watford’s THIRD boss this season, following in the footsteps of Ranieri and Xisco Munoz, who led the Hornets for the first seven Premier League games of the campaign.

Ranieri’s departure means Watford have now sacked five head coaches since Javi Gracia’s exit in September 2019. 

Quique Sanchez Flores, Nigel Pearson, Vladimir Ivic, Munoz and ex-Chelsea and Leicester boss Ranieri have all left the club during that 28-month period, while Hayden Mullins has also had two spells as caretaker boss. 

If appointed, Hodgson will become the Pozzo family’s 15th permanent manager since they completed their takeover of Watford in June 2012.

The 19th-placed Hornets return to league action when they travel to rock-bottom Burnley on February 5. 

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Watford have sacked manager Claudio Ranieri after just 16 weeks in the hot seat, according to reports.

The well-travelled Italian signed a two-year deal at Vicarage Road in October, replacing Xisco Munoz with the side 15th, having taken seven points from their first seven Premier League games.

But Ranieri only managed to double that points tally during his 13 top-flight matches in charge and has now reportedly been sacked after 112 days.

The Hornets languish in 19th place in the Premier League and sit just two points above bottom-placed Burnley, who have two games in hand on the Hertfordshire side.

The relegation rivals will go toe-to-toe in a rearranged encounter at Turf Moor this weekend, with last Friday’s chastening 3-0 home loss to struggling Norwich seemingly the final straw for the Watford hierarchy.