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Simona Halep seeks French Open boost in Rome

Posted on 17 May 2018 by admin

ROME: World number one Simona Halep said on Sunday she was looking to lay the groundwork for a Grand Slam breakthrough at the French Open in the Rome WTA clay-court tournament.

The 26-year-old finished runner-up in Rome last year before losing in the final in Roland Garros for a second time. She was also a finalist in the Australian Open this year.

“Of course, the Grand Slam is now for me the most important tournament,” said top seed Halep ahead of the French Open which starts in Paris on May 21.

Romanian Halep has received a first round bye and will open against either former two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus or Japan’s Naomi Osaka on the clay surface at the Foro Italico.

“But, I cannot plan anything. So I’m taking every tournament as important. I’m giving everything I have every week. Like I did before Melbourne, I went to Shenzhen, I won singles, doubles.

“I’m doing nothing special before a Grand Slam. Just taking care of your body to be healthy. And if nothing bad happens, I feel like every time you are ready.

“I’m working every day, I’m playing every day. So, we’ll see what is gonna happen. But, the goal is the Grand Slam this year.”

Defending champion Halep lost her first match at the Madrid Open in three years on Thursday when she was beaten by Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals.

But that has not dented her confidence.

“Different tournament, different conditions,” she said. “I’m coming here with confidence that I’m playing okay on clay.

“I played the final last year so I have, you know, good feelings,” added Halep, the winner of 16-WTA titles.

Former four-time winner Serena Williams has pulled out of Rome as she returns from maternity leave with sister Venus, 37, seeded eighth in a tournament she won back in 1999.

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Afridi asks fan to hold Indian flag properly, wins hearts

Posted on 14 February 2018 by admin

ST MORITZ: Shahid Afridi won many hearts on either side of the border with a touching gesture in which he promptly told an Indian fan to hold the national flag properly while posing for a picture.

“Flag seedha karo apna (straighten the flag),” Afridi asked his Indian fan while posing for a picture on the sidelines of the St. Moritz Cricket Tournament here.

Afridi was among a host of former cricketers who took part in the inaugural event which concluded on Saturday.

The other big names to feature were Shoaib Akhtar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Graeme Smith, Andrew Symonds, Lasith Malinga and Mahela Jayawardene, among others.

Afridi also had the social media abuzz with people from either side of the border lauding the all-rounder’s gesture.

A handful of Indian and Pakistani expats gathered at the venue to watch the former players in action.

The tournament was played on a frozen lake in sub-zero temperatures. A matting wicket was used though the players fielded on ice.

Pakistani players including Afridi are loved in India.

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Sania Mirza-Shuai Peng out of China Open after semifinal loss

Posted on 13 October 2017 by admin

BEIJING: Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Shuai Peng’s campaign in the China Openended after they suffered a 6-2, 1-6, 5-10 defeat in the semifinal to Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-jan here on Saturday.

Swiss veteran Hingis and her her Taiwanese partner will take on Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova in the final.

Incidentally, Mirza and Peng had lost in the semifinal stage last week to the same opponents, and they went on to win the title on that occasion. While this Mirza and Peng lost in the Super Tiebreak, they went down in straight sets last week.

After comfortably winning the first set, they slumped to a defeat.

Yesterday, the third-seeded Indo-Chinese duo had defeated fifth seeded Barbara Strycova and Katerina Siniakova of Czechoslovakia 4-6, 6-2, 10-7 in the quarterfinals.

In the other doubles semifinal, Hungarian-Czech duo of Babos and Hlavackova defeated Ekaterina Makarova and Elina Vesnina 7-5, 6-4, 10-8 in a contest that went right down to the wire.

In the singles competition at the WTA Premier Mandatory tournament, Simona Halep advanced to the final by beating Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4. The win helped Halep become the new World No. 1 and the fifth top-ranked player this year on the women’s tour.

 

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Sania Mirza-Shuai Peng crash out in US Open semi-finals

Posted on 15 September 2017 by admin

NEW YORK: The fourth seeded Indo-Chinese pair of Sania Mirza and Shuai Peng was sent packing by Swiss ace Martina Hingis and Yung-Jan Chanof Chinese Taipei in the women’s doubles semi-finals of the US Open.

While the scoreline suggests a straight-set victory of 6-4, 6-4 for the second-seeded pair but in both sets it was the Indo-Chinese combination that had the initial advantage which it frittered away.

Mirza-Peng started the match in right earnest breaking the opposition serve taking a 3-0 lead.

However, the Hingis-Chan pair levelled proceedings with double break to make it 3-3 before getting their third break in the ninth game to win the set at 6-4 in 31 minutes.

The second set also went along similar lines with Mirza-Peng leading 3-1 before blowing it all away.

The decisive break came in the ninth game and then closed the game in the 10th game.

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BCCI planning India A tours for women’s team

Posted on 01 September 2017 by admin

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to create a bigger feeder line for the women’s cricket team, the BCCI is planning to introduce more India A tours in near future.

Besides the ‘A’ tour, there are plans to expand the U-16 domestic zonal tournament to the all-India level. As of now, all-India junior tournaments cover only the U-19 and U-23 category.

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Edulji is part of the women’s committee, which will be meeting on Wednesday to decide the road ahead for women’s cricket in the country.

The other members are current ODI captain Mithali Raj, senior pacer Jhulan Goswami with the BCCI GM-Game Development, Ratnakar Shetty, being the convener.

“We plan to have India A tours for the women’s team besides reviewing the domestic structure. It is needed for creating a bigger bench strength for the women’s team. Mithali has herself felt that there is a lot of difference between our domestic cricket and international cricket,” the BCCI official said on condition of anonymity.

Another issue which is likely to be discussed in the meeting is the lack of international assignments for the national team, which became overnight stars with their showing in the World Cup last month.

“The team is not scheduled to play any international match this year. So we have already written to all the full members for bilateral limited overs series or even a tri- series. As of now, we have got positive response from England and Australia.

“The next assignment for India will probably be the ICC ODI Championship next year and there we are keen that team plays a tri-series along with the bilateral series. Having more domestic events and A tours will also go a long way in creating big enough pool for the Women’s IPL,” the official said.

Former India captain Shantha Rangaswamy said India A tours for women were due for a long time.

“I remember our A team travelling to Pakistan 15 years back but no tour has been organised since then. Therefore, it will be ideal if it becomes a regular feature. It will give our upcoming girls much needed exposure,” she said.

Contrary to popular belief that India is not yet ready for a Women’s IPL, Rangaswamy said the league could only help the game in the country.

“Everyone had their apprehensions when the men’s IPL started in 2008. Look where the league has reached in 10 years time. The Women’s IPL could have a similar script. If there can be a Big Bash in Australia, why not an IPL in India,” she asked.

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Sania Mirza-Kirsten Flipkens advance at Wimbledon

Posted on 13 July 2017 by admin

WIMBLEDON: Indian star Sania Mirza and her Belgian partner Kirsten Flipkens defeated the British pair of Naomi Broadyand Heather Watson in a hard fought encounter to enter the third round of the women’s doubles event at the Wimbledon tennis tournament on Saturday.

Sania and Kirsten had to struggle hard before scripting a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory in one hour and 45 minutes.

The 13th seeded Indo-Belgian pair will next meet third seeds Martina Hingis of Switzerland and Yung-Jan Chan of Chinese Taipei for a place in the quarter-finals.

Martina and Chan had defeated the unseeded Russian pair of Veronika Kudermetova and Natela Dzalamidze 6-1, 6-3 in the second round.

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Stokes, Wood knock Australia out of Champions Trophy

Posted on 16 June 2017 by admin

England made a chase of 277 seem like a weekend stroll down Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park as Ben Stokes reinforced his MVP status with a bludgeoning unbeaten 102, alongside a slightly more serene 87 from captain Eoin Morgan. The pair’s 159-run fourth wicket partnership ensured Josh Hazlewood’s early burst was but a footnote in the contest as Australia were sent crashing out of Champions Trophy group stage for a second successive edition.

In some quarters around Edgbaston, this clash was billed as the preamble for the winter Ashes series. The fans certainly were up for it. England have rarely enjoyed an edge over their old rivals in white-ball cricket as they did going into the clash. Heavy favourites by virtue of a mentality overhaul, the hosts had already sealed their path to the semifinals leading into the clash. Australia, on the other hand, had grappled with inclement weather, had to pip their arch rivals to progress even as Bangladesh, buoyed by their Cardiff exploits, watched on intently from a distance.

Steve Smith’s men had one more rain break to contend with in their ill-fated sojourn. The heavens opened in the sixth over of the chase, with England 35 for 3 in pursuit of 277. By recent standards, the target was grossly sub-par but, in a welcome change, the white Kookaburra appeared to be moving around for Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood. Then, 42 minutes later, swing disappeared along with the rain, without a trace left behind. The game turned on its head.

Stokes and Morgan led a brutal counter-attack, scoring their 159 partnership runs in just 26.1 overs. Stokes shredded Australia’s attack with piercing drives, dismissive pulls and the occasional deft touch. Pat Cummins bore the brunt of this retaliation – going for 33 in his first four overs, the first of which was a maiden. In a stinging sign of just how Stokes dominated, check this: Mitchell Starc ran up and bowled a 140kmph bouncer and the Durham all-rounder simply dismissed it from his presence with a pull off such ferocity that Smith at first slip simply puffed his cheeks and exhaled.

Morgan was more measured in his assault, but no less belligerent, as he relished Australia’s decision to bowl to his body as opposed to the more popularly executed strategy outside the off-stump. Upon play resumption after the rain break, he creamed two elegant drives for fours and then smartly settled into a more anchor role. That he finished with eight fours and five sixes of his own and a strike rate of 107.41 reflected the measure of his control. When Morgan eventually fell – run out after a miscommunication – England had motored along to 194 for 4 and had daylight separating them from their opponents.

It was a humbling experience for Australia’s attack which didn’t possess the variety, or the nous, to force Stokes and Morgan to change their games. Smith even threw the ball to Travis Head before he could bring on his lead spinner – Adam Zampa – into the attack in the 18th over. By then, however, the stand had already knocked the stuffing out of Australia, ensuring that any feel-good factor from Head’s flourish with the bat and Hazlewood’s strikes was distant memory. With Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali still to come and Stokes showing no signs of slowing down, only the margin of victory remained in question.

Smith had lost the coin toss earlier in the day but got what he wished for nonetheless when Morgan opted to bowl. The final result result – a total of 277 for 9 – would have left him somewhat comfortable given that his side had oscillated between a 300+ total and a 240-odd total. Mark Wood (4 for 33) and Adil Rashid (4 for 41) grabbed eight wickets between themselves to ensure Australia didn’t put up a target too daunting for England’s batsmen.

David Warner’s horror time in the UK continued when Wood angled one across him to find his outside edge. Aaron Finch rediscovered his touch with a series of well-timed straight drives even as his captain fidgeted (more than usual) to another half-century. The pair added 96 for the second wicket before Stokes ended the stand by getting Finch to miscue a lofted shot. Henriques, who kept his place in an unchanged Australian line-up, took a while to get going and as did Glenn Maxwell, both of whom fell either side of Smith.

Rashid came on for his final spell post the 40th over and instantly accounted for Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in a period of play that saw Australia lose five wickets for 15. Head, who’d yearned for company through the middle over, did well to compile a breezy 71 and push the total to competitive levels.

After England lost Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root and a review inside six overs of the chase, Australia could have been forgiven into believing they’d psychologically had over 300 on the board. It wasn’t to be.

For Australia, the match was unmemorable, even in its ending. Maxwell, the chirpiest of Australia’s fielders during their brief early success, completely lost sight of the ball as Jos Buttler cut Starc uppishly in his direction. Fittingly, weather had the final say in their campaign as rain came bucketing down not too long after Stokes completed his third ODI ton in the chase as England shoved their ‘dear’ rivals out and took Bangladesh with them to the semifinals.

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French Open: Sania Mirza storms into mixed doubles quarters

Posted on 08 June 2017 by admin

PARIS: Sania Mirza stormed into the quarterfinals of mixed doubles event as she and her partner Ivan Dodig of Croatia notched up a commanding win over their opponents at the French Open on Sunday.

The Sania-Dodig pair beat the duo of Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) and Artem Sitak(New Zealand) 6-2, 6-4 in a second round match to book a last-eight spot.

However, Rohan Bopanna, partnering with Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, crashed out of the men’s doubles event after losing to Jamie Murray (Great Britain) and Bruno Soares (Brazil) 6-7 2-6 in a third round match.

The Indian men’s doubles duo of Purav Raja and Divij Sharan also lost their third round match to the pair of Ryan Harrison (USA) and Michael Venus (New Zealand) 6-4 6-7 2-6.

Meanwhile, Zeel Desai lost her girls’ singles opening round match to Daniela Vismane of Latvia 0-6 2-6.

In boys’ singles also, Abhimanyu Vannemreddy lost his opening round match against Clement Tabur of France 0-6 1-6.

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Sachin Tendulkar Receives Blessings From PM Narendra Modi. Here’s Why

Posted on 28 May 2017 by admin

Legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on Friday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inform the latter about his upcoming film “Sachin: A Billion Dreams”. “Briefed our honorable PM Narendra Modi about the film and received his blessings,” tweeted Tendulkar after his meeting with PM Modi.

Tendulkar shared a photograph on Twitter in which he is seen shaking hands with PM Modi.

The former India cricket captain also thanked PM Modi for his special message ‘Jo khele, Wahi khile!’

“I was in Delhi so, I thought it would be nice to brief him about the movie. I told him what the movie is about and he was quite happy and gave me a positive feedback,” Tendulkar said.

“He told me that the film will not only inspire the next generation but through my highs and lows it will tell everyone that challenges are everywhere but that does not mean you surrender… you overcome those challenges and he said it applies to everyone in life,” he added.

“Sachin: A Billion Dreams”, directed by James Erskine, is about Tendulkar’s personal journey from a young boy to a cricketing icon.

The film has already been declared tax-free in Kerala and Chhattisgarh.

“Sachin: A Billion Dreams” is scheduled to release on May 26.

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Satnam Singh: Social media celebrates first Indian NBA draft pick

Posted on 02 July 2015 by admin

Basketball in India

A 7’2″ boy from Punjab has created history by becoming the first Indian-born player to be drafted into the NBA.

Satnam Singh Bamarra was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks as their 52nd pick.

The Mavericks website said “Singh averaged 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in six games at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships”.

#SatnamSingh began trending on Twitter India, with many users cheering his selection.

One of the first to tweet his congratulations was India basketball coach Scott Fleming.

And India cricket captain Virat Kohli responded enthusiastically to the “great news”.

Bollywood star Akshay Kumar tweeted about what an “inspiration” Singh was.

Other Twitter users in India cheered his selection, with some saying that it marked an important moment for Indian basketball.

The 19-year-old sportsman is from a tiny village called Ballo Ke, in Punjab, where his parents are farmers.

An ESPN profile on the player says that the villagers’ term for him translates from the Punjabi as “little one”.

Singh has been in the United States since September 2010 as part of a scholarship programme between IMG and Reliance, a leading company in India, according to a report in Sports Illustrated.

The online excitement around Satnam Singh came a day after users took to Twitter to deride Louisiana senator Bobby Jindal after he announced that he would join the Republican presidential race.

The hashtag #BobbyJindalIsSoWhite began trending in India as users poked fun at Mr Jindal’s speech and alleged attempts to distance himself from his Indian heritage.

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