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Morocco airline says seven World Cup flights to Qatar canceled

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RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco’s national carrier says seven flights that were meant to take soccer fans to Qatar for Morocco’s historic World Cup semifinal on Wednesday against France have been canceled because of restrictions by Qatari authorities.

Royal Air Maroc, or RAM, earlier this week announced it would organize 30 flights between Casablanca and Doha on Tuesday and Wednesday for fans eager to attend the game. The one-of-a-kind deal would be on sale for 5,000 dirhams ($475) round trip.

However, seven of those flights, operated by Qatar Airways, were cancelled, the airline said in a statement Wednesday to the official Moroccan news agency MAP.

“Following the recent restrictions imposed by the Qatari authorities, Royal Air Maroc regrets to inform its customers of the cancellation of flights provided by Qatar Airways,” it said. “Royal Air Maroc offers its apologies to customers for this inconvenience beyond its control.”

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It didn’t specify what restrictions Qatar had imposed.

The Qatari government’s and Doha’s media offices did not immediately respond to requests for details.

Hafsa Mostafid said she had booked a flight to Doha late Tuesday but was turned away at Casablanca airport.

“I could hear commotion coming from those who were willing to go to Qatar but were not allowed to enter the airport,” she said. “I also saw that there were police there to control the situation.”

She said officials at the aiport told travelers that due to the “sheer number of Moroccans currently trapped at the Doha airport without tickets for the match, no planes from Morocco would be flown to Qatar as per directives from the Qatari authorities.”

Morocco is the first African and Arab nation to make it to the semifinals in World Cup history.

On Tuesday, hundreds of Morocco fans already in Qatar lined up for hours outside a stadium hoping to receive free game tickets handed out by the Moroccan soccer federation in coordination with FIFA and the Qatari organizing committee. ___

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Novak Djokovic shares message to Australian Open runner-up Elena Rybakina – Tennis World USA

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Novak Djokovic congratulated Australian Open runner-up Elena Rybakina on “an amazing tournament.” On Saturday, 23-year-old Rybakina fell just short of landing her second Grand Slam title. In the Australian Open final, Rybakina was up by a set before 24-year-old Aryna Sabalenka stormed back to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Six months ago, Djokovic and Rybakina lifted titles at Wimbledon. “@lenarybakina, amazing tournament,” Djokovic captioned his Instagram Story.

Djokovic congratulates Rybakina

Rybakina has now made Grand Slam finals in two of the last three Major tournaments.

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After winning Wimbledon and finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open, Rybakina admits her confidence levels have increased and she now believes even more that she can win Grand Slams. “For sure, that’s the goal, to be in the second week of all the Grand Slam, to play finals.

I mean, now I have more confidence of course even after this final. I just need to work hard, same as I did during pre-season and actually throughout the years, be healthy, and for sure the results are going to come. I would say I’m trying to not think about expectations and everything.

Still after a great pre-season like this I was thinking I should show it on the court. Then, of course, the results are going to be there. First few weeks was not that great…but I think in the end it’s just confidence to go forward, to keep on working.

I feel now good physically also. I know if I’m going to keep on working, the results are going to be (good),” Rybakina said after the match, per Tennis Majors. Rybakina has proved over the last six months that she has what it takes to be a legitimate Grand Slam contender.

En route to reaching the Australian Open final, Rybakina defeated world No 1 Iga Swiatek. It will be interesting to see how will Rybakina do after a strong Australian Open run.

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Maple Leafs’ Murray dealing with ankle injury, Samsonov to start vs. Capitals – Sportsnet.ca

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Bo Horvat puts up four assists as Canucks top Blue Jackets – Sportsnet.ca

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