Roger Federer loses at the ATP Finals in straight sets… The blue half of Manchester celebrates as United lose to City… The All Blacks eke out a narrow victory… Boca Juniors denied a home win in Copa finals… Hamilton’s win overshadowed by slaps. This is your Monday sporting recap.
Federer falls to Nishikori in ATP Finals
Swiss serial champion Roger Federer lost his opening match of the Nitto ATP Finals, going down to a shock defeat to Japan’s Kei Nishikori, losing 7-6(4), 6-3 at the O2 in London.
The Japanese held his nerve to beat the six-time former champion for the first time since 2014, winning six of the first seven tie break points to put pressure on Federer. Following a nervy first set for Nishikori, the pair went toe-to-toe at the beginning of the second, exchanging service breaks before Nishikori settled and ground out the win.
Federer later said he felt that neither player sparkled during the first set and that he rued not being able to hold onto early second-set momentum. “I felt we both struggled throughout the first set,” he told the official ATP website.
“I had my chances maybe a bit more than he did. Then I started to feel better in the second set. I think we both did. The level went up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep the lead that I got early.”
Federer will now face Australia’s Dominic Thiem in the round-robin tournament, while Nishikori plays fourth seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa in Group Lleyton Hewitt. Thiem lost to first-time qualifier Anderson earlier in the day.
Man City outclass United
It was business as usual at the top of the English Premier League table, as leader Manchester City brushed aside its biggest rival Manchester United with a cool 3-1 win.
The victory emphasized the current gulf in class between the two cross-city rivals, with Pep Guardiola’s City sealing the win with a memorable team goal from Ilkay Gundogan – the German finding the net after a 44-pass move, adding to goals by long time City stalwarts David Silva and Sergio Aguero. The emphatic win sends the Sky Blues two points clear in the standings and gives Guardiola further bragging rights over long-time foil Jose Mourinho, whose Manchester United now sit eighth in the Premier League table.
Elsewhere in the EPL, second-placed Liverpool escaped with a lucky 2-0 win against Fulham when Aleksandar Mitrovic had a goal incorrectly ruled offside, only for the Reds to break up field for Mo Salah to score his eighth of the season. Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri put the result beyond reach with a second after the break.
Later, Chelsea missed its chance to go temporarily top, but was held to a goalless draw by an improving Everton at Stamford Bridge, while fifth-placed Arsenal escaped in a 1-1 home draw against promoted Wolves, with Henrikh Mkhitarayan sparing the Gunners’ blushes with an 85th minute equalizer. The result means Arsenal extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 16 matches.
All Blacks taken to the wire at Twickenham
New Zealand’s famed All Blacks had the uncomfortable experience of having to come from behind to eke out a narrow 16-15 win against England at Twickenham on Saturday, following tries from England’s Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley.
Steve Hansen’s men ultimately pulled out some patented Kiwi magic to pull ahead at the hour mark, with Damian McKenzie scoring under England’s posts, before Beauden Barrett converted, adding a penalty and a drop-goal before another penalty on the hour mark to pull ahead.
English hearts were broken when a Sam Underhill try was adjudged to be marginally offside with five minutes left, but ultimately both teams came out of the match with positives, just a year ahead of the World Cup in Japan.
“I thought England were very good, but I thought we showed a lot of character to be down 15-0 in a hostile environment, with 79,000 not being Kiwis, and the weather conditions – it wasn’t conducive to being able to play razzle-dazzle rugby – and the boys stuck with it,” said Hansen.
River Plate hold rivals Boca to draw
Argentina’s biggest derby took to the continent’s biggest stage Sunday as Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate played out a pulsating 2-2 first leg draw in the Copa Libertadores final at the famed Bombonera stadium Sunday.
The Superclasico lived up to its name, with a raucous atmosphere from kick off, following torrential downpours that postponed the match for a full 24 hours.
The bitter rivals fought a hard-earned draw, with home side Boca unable to grab the win despite leading twice, through Ramon Abila and Dario Benedetto. Each time River Plate hit back, drawing level through Lucas Pratto – scoring a sucker punch of a goal as the Boca defense went to sleep – and an own goal from Carlos Izquierdoz.
The bad news was compounded for the home side as Boca lost star forward Cristian Pavon to injury before the half-hour mark. All eyes will now be on Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti come November 22, as the delicately poised Copa Libertadores final moves across town to River Plate’s stadium.
F1: Hamilton win overshadowed as Verstappen accused of trying to punch ‘idiot’ Ocon
The Brazilian Grand Prix descended into acrimony post-race after Red Bull’s Dutch star Max Verstappen confronted French driver Esteban Ocon, calling him an “idiot” for a collision on the 43rd lap.
Video showed Verstappen shoving the Force India driver a number of times as other drivers watched on.
“He pushed me and wanted to punch me, that’s not professional,” said Ocon, who was a fierce rival of Verstappen as both men moved up through the ranks.
The Dutchman had to settle for second place behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton – fresh from wrapping up his fifth driver’s title in Mexico two weeks ago – with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third in a nailbiting finish at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo.
Hamilton’s team also clinched the constructor’s championship following teammate Valtteri Bottas’ fifth place finish.