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first_imgROGER Federer beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the Australian Open final and stay on course for an 18th Grand Slam title.The 35-year-old will face Rafael Nadal on Sunday if the Spaniard beats Grigor Dimitrov in today’s semi-final.The Swiss, returning from a six-month lay-off to rest his left knee, last won a major at Wimbledon in 2012.He is the oldest man to reach a Grand Slam final since Ken Rosewall did so at the 1974 U.S. Open at the age of 39.“I couldn’t be happier right now,” said Federer. “I felt like everything happened so quickly at the end, I had to check the score.“I never ever in my wildest dreams thought I’d come this far in Australia. It’s beautiful, I’m so happy.”Federer’s extraordinary run in Melbourne had already seen him beat top-10 seeds Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori to reach the last four.Seeded 17th following his injury, Federer had an 18-3 record against the fourth seed and reigning U.S. Open champion coming into the semi-final, but the two had never played a five-set match.Both players needed medical treatment during a match of high intensity but it was the 17-time Grand Slam winner who finally prevailed after three hours five minutes.Federer will now seek a fifth Australian Open title, and his first in Melbourne since 2010, when he plays in his 28th Grand Slam final and 100th Australian Open match on Sunday.FEDERER’S REMARKABLE RETURNWhat makes Federer’s run to the final remarkable is the combination of being in the twilight of his career and not having played competitively since his Wimbledon semi-final exit last year.Federer missed the Olympic Games and the rest of the 2016 season to have “more extensive rehabilitation” on a knee injury suffered in February while he ran a bath for his twin daughters.He played just seven tour events last year, leading to his dropping out of the world’s top 10 for the first time in over 14 years.After beginning his comeback with victories against Britain’s Dan Evans and France’s Richard Gasquet in the Hopman Cup – a non-ranked event played in the first week of January – Federer played down his chances of going far in the Australian Open.But, after reaching his first Slam final since the 2015 U.S. Open, he finally spoke about the prospect of winning in Melbourne.“I can really actually talk about playing a final – I’ve been dodging that bullet for a few rounds,” he said.“I’ll leave it all out here in Australia and if I can’t walk for five months that’s OK.”Wawrinka noted how the tour and the fans had missed Federer, saying: “Everyone wants even more to see him play, to see him win. He’s flying on the court. He’s playing amazing tennis. He’s the best player ever.”Former world number one Federer started the match brightly and had three early break points before converting his first set point, on Wawrinka’s serve, in the 12th game.Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, was broken for the second time at 2-3 in the second set as Federer maintained his impressive standards.Clearly frustrated, the 31-year-old Wawrinka cracked his racquet in two over his left knee and, after the set, left the court with a trainer for treatment to his other knee.But he came back superbly to win the third set in 26 minutes and break Federer in the ninth game of the fourth set to take the match to a decider.Federer went off for a lengthy medical timeout for treatment to his leg as the physical nature of the match started to tell.He also came back fighting and broke Wawrinka in the sixth game when the U.S. Open champion double-faulted on break point.There was no let-up as Federer completed a stunning victory to the delight of the majority of fans in Rod Laver Arena. (BBC Sport)last_img read more

first_imgThe battle for dominance between Nike and adidas is once again reshaping the commercial landscape of European football according to research released today.With the release of Repucomand PR Marketing’s latest Kit Supplier Report, figures show shirt sales in Europe continue to be big business for kit suppliers.Approximately 13 million shirts were sold by the 98 clubs of the top five European football leagues last season (2013/14), up over 14% on the 2011/12 season two years prior.English Premier League (EPL) clubs sold the majority of this figure, selling over five million shirts in total. This compares with clubs of Spain’s Primera División (3.10m), the German Bundesliga (2.32m), France’s Ligue 1 (1.22m) and Italy’s Serie A (1.18m).In the coming season however, of these top European leagues, it is only the EPL where Nike is not the most dominant kit supplier.Of the 25 brands supplying kits to teams of Europe’s top five leagues ahead of the 2014/15 season, Nike has outpaced its German rival adidas for the first time since the 2009/10 season. The US sports giant will kit out 26 clubs, an increase of five on last year’s total, whilst adidas will supply 18, a figure which has dropped by four. Nike now supply the kits to just over a quarter (26.5%) of all clubs in Europe’s top five leagues. In comparison, adidas’ kits represent an 18.4% share of the market.Andrew Walsh, football expert at Repucom, said: “In terms of revenue it is the top ten European teams which dominate, delivering 65% of total shirt sales in the five key football leagues, most of which coming from clubs in the English Premier League, adidas’ strongest market.“Whilst Nike may be winning in the quantity stakes, Adidas is certainly not bowing out in the running for market superiority, far from it in fact. The brand is now starting to flex its muscles by supplying Europe’s biggest clubs.”Currently, Nike’s top five deals which combined are worth approximately €125m per year include FC Barcelona, Manchester United FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, Juventus FC and FC Internazionale.adidas’s top five deals include Real Madrid FC, Chelsea FC, FC Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Olympique de Marseille and total approximately €135m per year, €10m more than Nike. However, ahead of the 2015/16 season, adidas will be taking two of Nike’s biggest club deals; EPL giants, Manchester United and Italian Champions, Juventus FC.Andrew Walsh continued: “Manchester United’s Nike deal is currently worth an estimated €31.5m per year, a figure dwarfed by adidas’ new €94m deal, a difference of over €62m. The deal with Juventus will also increase, from €19m to approximately €23.25m per year.“adidas’s position in the market is certainly one of ‘quality’, already official partner of World Football’s biggest tournament, the FIFA World Cup, as well as World Champions, Germany and the UEFA Champions League, now they are moving to kit out the world’s biggest clubs underlining their position as football’s leading sports brand in terms of sponsorship. A title that Nike will of course continue to rival.“How the strategies of these big brands develop will ultimately play a defining role in shaping the commerciality of the industry itself and it is key for clubs to see how these two giants are carving up the European football apparel market. Whilst Nike looks to maximise the number of teams it supplies, Adidas is going for the most popular, most followed and ultimately biggest selling clubs in the world.”Dr. Rohlmann of PR Marketing said: “Kit deals in football are increasingly becoming more important in achieving a stronger market share for sports brands. “These companies significantly benefit from supplying top clubs through both jersey sales and a rise to their reputation internationally.”In addition, Puma has been able to strengthen its market position as the third major power in European football apparel with its new deal with Arsenal FC, formerly supplied, again, by Nike.Including its deal with German side, Borussia Dortmund, Puma now kit out nine clubs in Europe’s top five leagues. Italian brand Kappa’s eight deals means it is the only other company to supply more than four clubs ahead of the 2014/15 season.last_img read more