ROME (AP):Andy Murray celebrated his 29th birthday by beating Novak Djokovic on clay for the first time to win the Italian Open title yesterday in a match that Djokovic argued should have been stopped due to rain.Gaining a measure of revenge for his loss to Djokovic in the Madrid Open final a week ago, the third-ranked Murray defeated the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-3.”The finals of a Masters series on clay is something that’s a new experience for me,” Murray said. “It’s nice to still be sort of achieving new things and reaching new goals at this stage of my career.”During the trophy ceremony, Murray was presented with a birthday cake. He dedicated the title to his three-month-old daughter, Sophia Olivia.”I feel like that’s what I’m playing for now, so that in a few years, hopefully, she can be proud of what I have achieved,” Murray said.NINE-MONTH TITLE DROUGHTEarlier, Serena Williams ended a nine-month title drought with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Madison Keys in an all-American women’s final.Williams’ previous title came in Cincinnati in August a month before her attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam ended with a semi-final loss to Roberta Vinci at the U.S. Open.”It feels great,” Williams said, pointing out that she’s only played four tournaments since Cincinnati. “So it’s not like I was playing every week. That’s kind of how I look at it, but it feels great to win a title, especially on clay.”It’s Murray’s first title in Rome and it comes exactly a week before the French Open begins.”The last couple of years, clay has probably been my most successful surface, which I never expected,” Murray said.The only other British man to win the Italian Open was Pat Hughes in 1931.”It’s mostly great players who have won this event, so I’m very proud to have my name on the trophy,” Murray said.Djokovic had won all four of their previous matches on clay, but had to fight fatigue following draining wins over Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori.Djokovic also played with a bandage on his left ankle after bruising himself with his racket a day earlier.”It was a week with a lot of emotions, a lot of hours on the court,” Djokovic said. “It wasn’t easy to be fresh today and have the strength to play with Andy. He was just too good today, and he deserved it.”For much of the men’s final, steady rain fell and fans covered themselves with ponchos and held up umbrellas to keep themselves dry.Djokovic argued several times with chair umpire Damian Steiner over the court conditions, saying it was too slippery.”I don’t want to play anymore,” Djokovic told the umpire late in the second set.”I didn’t ask to postpone the match,” Djokovic explained later. “I asked to have a little break, where we would give a little more time, maybe five more minutes, to people to arrange the court.”For Williams, it was her fourth title in Rome, which puts her in position to defend her title at Roland Garros.”I’m feeling pretty fit, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Williams, who won’t have to answer any questions about a potential calendar-year Grand Slam in Paris this year. “I’m going to definitely go in there and feel more calm and (not) feel stress to have to win.”Williams addressed the crowd in Italian during the post-match ceremony then took a selfie as she posed with the trophy.It was the first time two American women would have met in a final on clay since Serena beat older sister, Venus, in the 2002 French Open.When they met at the net after the match, Serena told the 24th-ranked Keys that she could be No. 1 one day.”Too bad what she says doesn’t just happen,” the 21-year-old Keys said. “But it’s always great to hear that from her. … Hearing that is definitely something that makes me just work harder.”
The man who has been tasked with steadying the ship on interim basis, former Mathare United and Tusker FC goalkeeper Joseph Rutto is confident that he can bring the club safely into the survival harbor.“We have to be confident that we can survive relegation. That is our sole purpose this season and as players and coaches, we have to ensure that happens,” the interim coach told Capital Sport.“The players need to know that more or less, they are playing for themselves. They should ask, where will they go if the team is relegated. Even if there’s no money, who knows who might be watching them. Lack of finances cannot be a reason for playing poorly,” added the coach.Thika United’s Hansel Ochieng vies for the ball with Wazito FC’s Emmanuel during their Kenyan Premier League 1-0 win over Wazito FC at Camp Toyoyo on May 6, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluHe started his tenure off on a positive note, his side beating Wazito FC 1-0 courtesy of an 88th minute Eugene Mukangula goal on Sunday. He hopes that the win will be a catalyst for their turnaround.“It was a very important win and I am thankful to God for that. We really needed a win after such a poor run and I hope this will be the beginning of better things,” further noted the coach.The team has found itself in financial trouble and was struggling to pay players’ salaries in the first four months of the season with Capital Sport learning that their long time sponsors Brookside might have ditched them.Sources also intimate that it might have been the same reason Muyoti decided to walk away with players said to have boycotted some days of training protesting lack of payment.Thika United players hurdle together in prayer during their Kenyan Premier League 1-0 win over Wazito FC at Camp Toyoyo on May 6, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluBut, Rutto has urged the players to focus on their duty at hand, to deliver survival to the club that at one point had a fourth place finish in the league and reached the Top Eight Cup final.“Our work is on the pitch, the rest we leave to the management,” further affirmed the tactician.The win over Wazito took Thika a spot up to 16th with 12 points, one ahead of Sony Sugar who drew 0-0 with Kakamega Homeboyz on Saturday.Meanwhile, Nakumatt picked up their first win in 10 games with a 3-2 win over Zoo Kericho. Nakumatt had raced to a 2-0 lead but the hosts raced back to equalize. Nakumatt tjough wiped the blushes off their faces with a winner in additional time.They remained bottom of the Kenyan Premier League log despite the win with 10 points off 14 games.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Thika United interim coach Joseph Rutto (left) watches on during his side’s Kenyan Premier League 1-0 win over Wazito FC at Camp Toyoyo on May 6, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluNAIROBI, Kenya, May 7- Last season, Thika United survived relegation by the skin of their teeth, picking a nervy 1-0 aggregate win over Ushuru FC in the promotion and relegation play-off to guarantee another year in top flight football.The side finds itself bagged in the same situation this year after picking up only two wins off 14 games and their head coach Nicholas Muyoti dropping off the journey four months into the new season.