News Tennis

Federer reaches semis in Dubai as he chases 100th title

AP Updated: 1 March, 2019, 10:45 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Roger Federer is two matches away from his 100th career title
  • Federer is looking to become the second man to reach 100 tour-level tournament titles
  • He will next face sixth-seeded Borna Coric, who beat Nikolaz Basilashvili

Roger Federer is two matches away from his 100th career title after beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-4 to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals.

Federer faced two set points in the tiebreaker but Fucsovics hit two forehands into the net to let the Swiss star take control. Federer then wasted an early break in the second set but broke again for a 5-4 lead before serving out the match when Fucsovics sent a forehand return wide.

"The tiebreak was tough. I'm happy I found a way to get out of that one," Federer said. "That was an exciting match, to say the least."

Federer is looking to become the second man in the professional era to reach 100 tour-level tournament titles, joining Jimmy Connors, who won 109. Seven of Federer's previous 99 triumphs have come in Dubai.

He will next face sixth-seeded Borna Coric, who beat Nikolaz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (1). Coric beat Federer twice last year, including in the Halle final.

"He's really found his game," Federer said of Coric. "We've had a couple tough matches as of late."

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News Tennis

Nadal tumbles out of Mexican Open, falling to Kyrgios

AP Updated: 1 March, 2019, 11:10 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rafael Nadal tumbled out of the Mexican Open, squandering three match points in a 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (6) loss to Australia's Nick Kyrgios.

The top seed also fell in the women's event, with Sloane Stephens losing to Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 6-3.

Playing his first event since losing to Novak Djokovic in late January in the Australian Open final, top-seeded Nadal dropped the first two match points on Kyrgios' serve and the last one on his own first serve.

Nadal won in Acapulco in 2005 and 2013. On Tuesday night, the second-ranked Spanish star opened play with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Mischa Zverev.

Kyrgios set up a quarterfinal match against Stan Wawrinka, a 7-6 (5), 6-4 winner over seventh-seeded Steve Johnson in the hardcourt event at The Princess Mundo Imperial.

The fourth-ranked Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open, was making her first appearance in the event since winning the 2016 title. Haddad Maia earned her first victory in seven career matches against players ranked in the top 10.

"It was just a tough match, obviously she played well," Stephens said. "A tough day. But I'm not too sad about it. I'm just going to go back and work some more, practice some more and get ready for Indian Wells."

News F1

Ferrari's Leclerc sets fastest time of F1 preseason tests

AP Updated: 1 March, 2019, 11:06 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Charles Leclerc didn't join Ferrari just to learn from four-time former champion Sebastian Vettel.

He came to beat him.

While that goal still looks lofty, the 21-year-old Leclerc impressed on Thursday when he set the fastest lap so far of this year's Formula One preseason testing in northeastern Spain. His effort of 1 minute, 16.231 seconds was only 0.05 seconds short of the record for the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit set by Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for last season's Spanish Grand Prix.

According to Leclerc, both he and his new car have more potential.

"As every team we are not flat out," said Leclerc, who replaced Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari. "The car is solid (and) I feel pretty comfortable in it. There's still a lot to learn, but it's a good start."

After showing his speed, Leclerc was 20 minutes away from completing a trouble-free session when his Ferrari came to a stop on a straightaway.

Leclerc took a seat atop of a concrete barrier while his fuming Ferrari was loaded by marshals onto a flatbed and hauled away.

His 138 laps were second to Williams rookie George Russell, who led the field with 140 laps on the day.

Leclerc's stoppage was nothing compared to the scare that Vettel had on Wednesday, when he crashed into a barrier and needed to be checked out by medical staff.

When asked if he had gotten any pointers from Vettel, Leclerc said that they their relation was far from student-teacher.

"At the end we need to work together to try and improve the car, but he also wants to beat me on the track as much as I want to beat him," Leclerc said. "So it's not like I'm going to him to try and have some tips, but I can definitely learn from him (by) looking at his data, looking at the way he works with the team. So yeah that has been very, very helpful."

Vettel will be back behind the wheel on Friday, the last chance for teams to test their cars before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 17.

Defending champion Hamilton had another mundane session, clocking the 10th-fastest time while sharing the wheel with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Bottas said that Ferrari seemed to be a step ahead of Mercedes, which has won the title for five years in a row.

"They still seem strong, (but) as always from testing to Melbourne a lot can change," said Bottas, who had the slowest time of the 13 drivers. "We need to unlock more from the new package to be able to compete with them properly."

News Football

UEFA bans Sergio Ramos for additional Champions League game

AP Updated: 1 March, 2019, 11:03 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

  • Sergio Ramos has been banned for an additional Champions League game
  • UEFA says its disciplinary panel found Ramos guilty
  • He will now also miss the first leg of the quarterfinals

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has been banned for an additional Champions League game for deliberately provoking a yellow card to control the timing of a one-game suspension.

UEFA says its disciplinary panel found Ramos guilty of "clearly receiving a yellow card on purpose" against Ajax two weeks ago.

He will now also miss the first leg of the quarterfinals if Madrid advances from the round of 16.

The Spain defender was booked for a foul in the 90th minute of Madrid's 2-1 win in Amsterdam in the first leg.

That triggered a one-game ban for the second leg at home, which would have cleaned Ramos's disciplinary slate for the quarterfinals.

Ramos reportedly acknowledged his intentions in a post-game interview, then retracted it in a Twitter post.

News Cricket

Maxwell discloses the reason behind Stoinis and Cummins holding hands

Harshit Anand Updated: 1 March, 2019, 10:54 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Recently, Australia's 'hand-holding' team photo had gone viral on social media. The Australian team was posing for the customary team photograph and there Marcus Stoinis and Pat Cummins were holding hands. Not only these two but Adam Zampa also joined in with him holding onto Stonis' finger.

Maxwell disclosed the reason behind them posing like that. "Yeah it is a pretty tight group, as you can see by the photos. I think Stoin (Marcus Stoinis) and Patty (Pat Cummins) were genuinely holding hands," Maxwell explained.

"We've got 'Keithy Miller' involved now so that's good for the weirdos in the team, which is nice. We're trying to get the coach involved but I'm not sure we're going to have much success there," Maxwell added.

"It's such a tight group. To have a group of guys that are just playing so much for each other out in the field is brilliant. They're enjoying each other's success. They are really feeling every moment together and I know it just means a lot to all of us tonight," Maxwell said.

News Wrestling

WWE's Roman Reigns announces leukemia in remission

AP Updated: 1 March, 2019, 10:39 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The Big Dog is back. Professional wrestler Roman Reigns says his leukemia is in remission and he'll be returning to the WWE ring.

The 33-year-old, whose real name is Leati Joseph Anoai, made the announcement Monday at a WWE Raw event in Atlanta. Reigns told the crowd he was terrified and scared before disclosing in October that the disease had returned.

Reigns was 22 years old when he was first diagnosed with leukemia.

He thanked fans for their support and thanked his family in a video on Instagram.

News Cricket

King Kohli enters list of top three run-getters list in T20Is

Staff Writer Updated: 28 February, 2019, 8:17 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday added another feat to his illustrious career. The right hand batsman has entered the list of top three run-getters in T20 internationals. He has climbed to third spot with 2263 runs from 67 matches.

Rohit Sharma of India leads the list with 2331 runs to his name in 94 matches and is followed by Guptill, who has amassed 2272 runs in 76 matches. However, Virat Kohli’s average of 50.28 is the best among the top five highest run-getters in T20Is.

Kohli scored 72 runs off 38 balls in the second and final T20 against Australia but he ended up on the losing side as Maxwell's brilliant century proved to be decisive in the end.

He has been one of the most consistent performers across formats since last few years and was awarded the ICC Cricketer of the Year by the governing body of international cricket.

News Cricket

Chris Gayle has some good news for his fans

Staff Writer Updated: 28 February, 2019, 8:15 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Chris Gayle, who had announced on February 17 that he would retire from ODIs after World Cup, is reconsidering decision after his stellar show with the bat in the ongoing ODI series against England. The left hand batsman has smashed two tons so far and is looking in great touch ahead of the World Cup.

"I've been playing a lot of T20 cricket, so it's always going to be a difficult coming back into 50 over cricket. But eventually the body gets accustomed to the 50-over format," Gayle was quoted as saying by icc-cricket.com. Since making his comeback in the Windies ODI squad, Gayle has scored 347 runs from four matches at a strike-rate of 120.06.

"I just have to work on the body, and then maybe you can see a bit more Chris Gayle. Things change quickly. Hopefully, the body can change in the next couple of months and we can see what happens. What's the matter with the body? I'm nearly 40. But could I un-retire? We'll see. We'll take it slowly."

He reached the 10,000-run mark in ODIs with his 25th century in one day internationals. Gayle also became the first batsman to hit 500 sixes in international cricket.

News Cricket

Aussie journo trolls Sehwag over Babysitting ad after Maxwell’s stunning performance

Staff Writer Updated: 28 February, 2019, 8:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virender Sehwag warned the Aussies ahead of the T20 series against Men in Blue and had even mocked the visitors in a babysitting advertisement featuring him and former Aussie batsman Matthew Hayden.

His mocking and warning turned the tables in Australia’s favour as they raced away with the trophy after thumping the hosts comfortably.

Australian journalist Dennis Freedman took a dig at Sehwag with a hilarious meme. The meme shows Maxwell babysitting Sehwag.

Maxwell was a satisfied soul after leading Australia to win.

“It feels really good. We haven’t had a lot of success here of late. To come over here and perform like we have has started it off well for us on this tour. It helps a big bulk of T20 cricket in the domestic tournament back home. Having confidence in my game also has helped a lot and it feels great to contribute to two special wins,” said Maxwell at the post-match presentation party.

News Cricket

Steve Smith hits the nets running for the first time after surgery  

Staff Writer Updated: 28 February, 2019, 8:09 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Steve Smith, who was out of the action after going under the knife to fix his elbow injury, has hits the nets running after recovering from the problem. He has showed signs of quick recovery after an unfortunate injury had ruled him out of the Bangladesh Premier League.

He shared the good news with the fans by uploading a video from his latest training session where he can be seen playing his trademark shots. “Great to have my first hit back today. The elbow is feeling good," he wrote.

His 12-month ban is about to end and he is expected to play a big role for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. Smith's performance for his IPL franchise will determine his participation in the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales.

The 29-year old player was banned for one year following his involvement in the ball tampering scandal in South Africa. He was also stripped off his captaincy armband.

News Cricket

KL Rahul lone Indian player in top 10 of ICC T20 rankings

Staff Writer Updated: 28 February, 2019, 8:07 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

KL Rahul, who scored heavily in the T20 series against Australia, was the lone Indian to feature in the top 10 of ICC T20 rankings. The right hand batsman scored 47 and 50 in the two matches of the series against the visitors. He has jumped four places and is now placed at sixth spot with 726 rating points.

Current skipper Virat Kohli has improved on his previous ranking and is now ranked 17th in the world while the former Indian skipper MS Dhoni has also gained and is placed at 56th spot in the world.

Glenn Maxwell has reached third position after his scores of 56 and 113 not out led Australia to triumph in India.

The right hand batsman single-handedly took Australia over the line in the second T20 match in Bengaluru. He was declared Man of the Match and Man of the Series for his effort.

News Cricket

Eagerly waiting for Abhinandan Varthaman to return home, says Shikhar Dhawan

Staff Writer Updated: 28 February, 2019, 8:04 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan took to twitter to post a heartfelt message for Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who is in Pakistan custody. Pakistan has confirmed the release of Indian braveheart. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of IAF pilot as a peace gesture.

He was taken in custody after his fighter jet had crashed in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir’s (PoK’s) Bhimber district.

"As a peace gesture, we are releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan (Varthaman) tomorrow," said Pakistan PM Imran Khan, confirming the Indian pilot's release.

Reacting to this piece of news, Dhawan wrote: "Eagerly waiting for our braveheart to return home. #WelcomeBackAbhinandan."

Earlier, Indian Air Force had carried out strikes across the line of control, killing more than 300 terrorists. This move was taken to avenge the killing of 42 CRPF security personnel in Pulwama.

Videos Cricket

Watch: The video of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli's camaraderie is winning the Internet

Harshit Anand Updated: 28 February, 2019, 5:03 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The understanding and bond between MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli is well documented. Virat Kohli's career flourished under the able leadership of MS Dhoni. They have a great amount of mutual respect for each other, which is evitable on the field as well.

MS Dhoni has struggled in the last two years, yet Virat Kohli has been backing him. Kohli depends on Dhoni for tactical inputs and we see many times that Kohli keeps fielding on the deep boundary, leaving the bowlers under the guidance of Dhoni.

BCCI has released a video, which showcases the camaraderie between the two:

News Cricket

Glenn Maxwell reveals how he nullified world's best bowler

Harshit Anand Updated: 28 February, 2019, 4:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Glenn Maxwell wants to bat higher up the order in ODIs. He made a series-winning 113 at number four for Australia in the Bengaluru T20I. He took just 55 deliveries for his 113 and smashed seven fours and nine sixes. His knock helped Australia cross the line with ease.

Maxwell bats at number seven in ODIs but would love to get promoted in the five-match ODI series against Australia, starting in Hyderabad on March 2.

He revealed how he countered the Bumrah threat. Bumrah had the wood over Maxwell in T20Is. “I was always trying to attack him. We needed 44 off the last four overs and he came back on. I suppose it was a key over. If that only went for four or five, suddenly you need 13 an over. And it only takes six good yorkers from him to push that up to 18-19. That can be quite difficult to get in the last two overs, or the two other overs.

“So I was just hoping he missed a couple of times and wanted to pounce on that. He’s done me a fair few times in T20 cricket to his credit. I have sort of changed my approach to him a little bit. Been able to wait for a ball that’s slightly off and capitalise on that.

“I was able to get him for two boundaries in that over, and keep the run rate in check and I was able to target Siddarth next over and then we only needed 14 off 12 balls,” said Maxwell.

Feature Cricket

Shocked and Dazed: South Africa

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 28 February, 2019, 3:12 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Even as the Test cricket season draws to a close, South Africa had expected they would be raising a toast to their home Test series successes as a boost to their World Cup preparations. However, the stunning defeat to Sri Lanka has now firmly placed doubts in their mind not only about the World Cup but also, about their Test future.

Sri Lanka were expected to be easy game. There was not to be much resistance from the team that was coming to South Africa after being routed in Australia and New Zealand and before that at home by England. South Africa, with one eye on the ICC Cricket World Cup coming up in June in England, did not think they would have someone nipping at their feet.

Instead Durban proved to be at first, a nagging passage of play with the last wicket partnership for Sri Lanka delaying what seemed like the inevitable. With nearly eighty runs to get and a disastrous season behind them off and on the field, Sri Lanka were a ticking bomb, or so the cricket world, including South Africa thought. But South Africa’s fierce pace attack was treated confusingly at times, with reverence and then indifference. The plan worked. Sri Lanka pulled off the unthinkable.

With just the two Test series, South Africa found themselves in an unusual scenario: win the Test in Port Elizabeth, draw the series. Their best case scenario. Could the seemingly buried Sri Lankan team do it twice in a row? Turned out, they could. And it has left South Africa in a fix. They now not only have to bolster their World Cup preparations for England but also, square off against questions they may not have immediate answers for, even if the examination is still a fair way away in September when they play their next Test series against India.

The series against Sri Lanka exposed what South Africa had been trying to cover and assuage for themselves. Under Ottis Gibson, the current coach, South Africa reverted to their age old tactics of pace only, no spin. Keshav Maharaj became an irregular fixture as the faster pitches proved an awkward proposition to South Africa’s own batsmen who struggled, Hashim Amla included as the barren of Test centurions shows. Dean Elgar admitted as much previously about compromises having to be made about batsmen contending with pitches that were prepared to undermine the opposition strengths. Modest batting totals were laudably defended by a formidable pace attack even as it changed faces depending on injury status.

What South Africa did not see coming was their careful, safe, almost defensive plans unraveling against an unexpected, till-then-beleaguered opponent. Armed with safe results, South Africa could have headed into the World Cup believing they were fine just as long they crossed the line. The bar was set low. The bar was subsequently breached and how!

Now age is being brought out onto the table. Hashim Amla is thirty-six, Faf du Plessis thirty-four. Those knocking on the door are far too embryonic to take on India or such is the contention. The balance has been skewed far too low in the absence of recent retirees such as Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers. The bowlers can only do so much and under restrictive plans for a one trick pony.

Coach Ottis Gibson must now first contend with taking the team to the ICC Cricket World Cup to England in June without appearing to look light on experience. His tenure is up in July shortly thereafter and it will be interesting to see how South Africa approach what has been by the captain’s own admission ‘a huge dent’ to their confidence going forward. How much of this upset applecart has eaten into South Africa’s fragile build up to the World Cup remains to be seen. But the real test (pun intended) awaits them thereafter as well.