|S P O R T||
Tuesday, September 1, 1998
|Omello puts Mohun Bagan into semis
MUMBAI, Aug 31 Guyana import and defender Omellos header in the 82nd minute helped Calcutta giants Mohun Bagan, beat State Bank of Travancore, Trivandrum, 1-0 on way to the last four stage of the KBL Federation Cup Football Tournament at the Cooperage here today.
LONDON, Aug 31 Muttiah Muralitharan increased his match haul to 11 wickets at the Oval today as Sri Lanka stepped up their attempt for a maiden Test win in England.
Indian cricket team
"shaping up well"
JAIPUR, Aug 31 Cricket board president Raj Singh Dungarpur has expressed satisfaction with the way the probables for the 1999 World Cup were shaping up and said he has not seen any Indian team in better shape going into a tournament.
GAVLE, SWEDEN : Korean Sang-Pil Son (above) defeated the Polish wrestler Ryszard Wolny in the 69 kg finals of the World Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships in Gavle on Sunday. AP/PTI
Pak Sahara Cup
KARACHI, Aug 31 The three-member selection committee of the Pakistan Cricket Board has submitted a list of 14 players and three reserves for the Sahara Cup for approval.
Madan helps India
AMRITSAR, Aug 31 India Seniors registered a comfortable 5-wicket win over Sri Lanka Seniors in the fourth match of the five match one-day series of All Out Freedom 50 Cup played in the Gandhi Grounds here today.
|Rohan, Nazma emerge champs
HOSHIARPUR, Aug 31 Rohan Kapoor and Nazma are the junior Punjab champions in badminton. They won these titles in the Punjab Junior Badminton Championships which concluded here.
Setback for Essex
LONDON, Aug 31 Essexs hopes of winning the Sunday league title were undermined by their defeat by Yorkshire at Scarborough yesterday.
Punjab varsities attain lofty heights
NEW DELHI, Aug 31 Amidst the annual hype and hoopla over individual sporting honours like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award, the acknowledgement to universities as the springboard for excellence receives scant attention.
Shivalik, Guru Nanak teams enter final
CHANDIGARH, Aug 31 Defending champions Shivalik Public School, Sector 41, sailed into the final, ousting last year's semifinalist St John's High School, Sector 26, by 4-1 in the Sub-Junior Chandigarh Football Tournament being held at the Sector 17 Football Stadium here today.
US Open is truly wide open
NEW YORK, Aug 31 Cacophony and chaos are the trademarks of the US Open Tennis Championships.This year, on-court action promises to be as unpredictable as the summer weather and the notoriously noisy New York crowds.
Romario feels like a wounded lion
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 31 Brazilian striker Romario responded to criticism of his recent goal drought for Flamengo by comparing himself to a wounded lion who would soon show his claws.
Hockey team starts training session
CHENNAI, Aug 31 Even as the Indian cricket team is to be announced shortly here, the Commonwealth Games bound hockey team has begun a short five-day training session before emplaning for Kuala Lumpur on September 4.
Blanc to continue with France
MARSEILLE (France), Aug 31 Defender Laurent Blanc, who missed Frances World Cup triumph after being sent off in the semifinals, said here yesterday he had decided to prolong his international career after all.
Omello puts Mohun Bagan into semis
MUMBAI, Aug 31 (PTI) Guyana import and defender Omellos header in the 82nd minute helped Calcutta giants Mohun Bagan, beat State Bank of Travancore, Trivandrum, 1-0 on way to the last four stage of the KBL Federation Cup Football Tournament at the Cooperage here today.
The teams had failed to score in the first half. Bagan will now meet arch rivals Mohammedan Sporting in the semi-finals at Calcutta on September 6.
The hero of the match was banks custodian Feroz Sheriff but for whom Bagan would have pumped in at least half a dozen goals.
Bagan made the first move in the fifth minute of the game. Their Nigerian star striker Chima Okeries try off a free ball went wide as unplayable ground conditions added to the players difficulties. With both teams going for safety to avoid injuries to their players on a slippery surface, the pace was slow.
However, in the 35th minute Bagans defender Riajul Mustafas long ranger was off target. Five minutes later Chimas try off a Mustafa cross went off a defender before Feroz blocked it well. The resultant rebound went to winger I. M. Vijayan but his try was once again well collected by Feroz.
A couple of minutes later Vijayans attempt off left winger Amit Das short pass was well punched out by a diving Feroz.
Soon after the breather, the ever agile bank custodian Feroz was in action smartly punching out Amit Das essay off a Vijayan forward pass. Das had beaten a host of defenders before taking a shot at the goal mouth.
In the 51st minute bankmen made the first worthwhile move when their mid-fielder Ignatious Sylvester, who was the hero of their last match against Salgaocar, Goa, came up with a left footer from 30 yards before the Bagan custodian and international Hemanta Dora effected a diving save. The bankmen got their first flag-kick in the 60th minute but wasted it.
In the 66th minute Vijayans shot beat defender Shiv Kumar but Feroz came up with a sliding tackle.
Six minutes later, Bagan should have got a spot kick when their mid-fielder Dipu Krishnan deflected out Vijayans shot with his hand. However, referee Gokuldas Nagvenkar of Goa thought otherwise despite the Bagan players pleadings.
Soon after Vijayans left footer was deflected out by one of banks defenders. In the 77th minute Chima lobbed over an advancing Feroz but defender Martin Mathew came to his teams rescue with a timely clearance.
In the 80th minute Vijayan, Chima and mid-fielder Satyajit Chatterjee all tried to score in quick succession before Chatterjee shot over.
A couple of minutes later Omello produced the all-important goal to seal the bankmens fate with a fine header following a flag kick by Iranian import Basim.
With just two minutes to go for the hooter, Vijayans try off Amit Das cross was well blocked by Feroz but the rebound went back straight to Basim whose try was collected well by Feroz.
Mid-fielder Khenthang Paite and defender Jeevan Moras came in as substitutes in the dying stages of the game though both have enough knowledge of this ground while representing Air-India last year.
Mohun Bagan: Hemanta Dora (gk), Riajul Mustafa, Omello S. Biswanath Mondal, Satyajit Chatterjee, Debjit Ghosh, Basim (K Paite), R. P. Singh (J Moras), Amit Das, Chima Okerie, I. M. Vijayan.
State Bank of Travancore, Trivandrum: Feroz Sheriff (gk), Martin Mathew, Jiju Jacob, V Shiv Kumar, Dipu Krishnan, Shabir Ali, Lanel Thomas (Sunil Kumar), Ignatious Sylvester, P M Manoj (Edin Rose), V P Shaji, Earnest Sylvester
Referee: Gokuldas Nagvenkar (Goa).
Muralitharan sends England reeling
LONDON, Aug 31 (Reuters) Muttiah Muralitharan increased his match haul to 11 wickets at the Oval today as Sri Lanka stepped up their attempt for a maiden Test win in England.
England, 146 behind on first innings, lost Steve James (25), captain Alec Stewart (32) and John Crawley (14) on the fifth and final morning and were 116 for five at lunch, still 30 behind with four hours remaining.
Off-spinner Muralitharan, under a cloud after England coach David Lloyd said yesterday he would be giving his views on the Sri Lankans "unorthodox action" to the authorities, added the wickets of James and Crawley to the two he had taken when England made 54 for two overnight.
Muralitharan, called for throwing in Australia three years ago but later cleared by the ICC, struck his first blow of the day to end 185 minutes of resistance by James, who pushed forward and was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at silly mid-off.
Sri Lanka captured their second wicket of the day through a brilliant piece of fielding from Upal Chandana, substitute for Aravinda De Silva. The Lankan vice-captain aggravated an ankle injury trying to hold a return chance by Stewart (24).
Stewart had added only eight more to his score when, going for a quick single with Mark Ramprakash, he was run out as Chandana swooped on the ball at square leg and hit the stumps with a direct throw.
Muralitharan returned to torment England again in his third spell of the morning when he produced a well-flighted delivery that bowled Crawley between bat and pad. He has now taken four for 46 in 32.1 overs to follow his first innings figures of seven for 155.
Indian cricket team "shaping up well"
JAIPUR, Aug 31 (PTI) Cricket board president Raj Singh Dungarpur has expressed satisfaction with the way the probables for the 1999 World Cup were shaping up and said he has not seen any Indian team in better shape going into a tournament.
"I have not seen an Indian team in better shape. The boys are full of confidence and are in better physical shape than they have ever been", Mr Dungarpur told PTI here.
But they still need more of sharpening in some aspects such as running between the wickets, he said, adding the physical conditioning level can still be improved and felt conditioning camps would help in this regard.
Mr Dungarpur said the presence of Australias former captain and coach Bobby Simpson at the camp had made a lot of difference and his novel methods sharpened the Indian players.
He also praised physio Andrew Kokinos and coach Anshuman Gaekwad and said the combined efforts of all of them would certainly help the Indian players in their preparation for the biggest tournament in the sport.
Mr Dungarpur said the World Cup in England, where the tournament would be held after a gap of 15 years, would be a totally different proposition as the weather could be quite difficult, especially in the early half of May.
Keeping this in view, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was planning of holding a camp in England and some practice matches against county sides like Liecestershire before the World Cup.
"This would enable our cricketers to cope well with the weather conditions", Mr Dungarpur said, adding that the camp in England would be arranged early next year and the list of probables pruned down.
Regarding dropping of players frequently from the team, the BCCI president said it goes on everywhere but added "now we have almost settled down" with the side.
Mr Dungarpur said he still felt the Indian team needed some good allrounders.
"I would not say that we need allrounders of the stature of Kapil Dev or Vinoo Mankad because such players are a rare breed. But still I would say we lack good allrounders. It is not a question of asking a bowler to bat a little or a batsman to bowl a little. We need genuine allrounders", he said.
Regarding the dispute over sending teams to the Sahara Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Mr Dungarpur said the schedule for the Sahara Cup was decided long back and the board was committed to sending the team for it but the matter of games came later and it was unfortunate that it had kicked up so much controversy.
Mr Dungarpur said the
board had decided to select two teams without calling
them 'best or second best'. One of the teams will be sent
to Toronto and the other to Kuala Lumpur for the
Commonwealth Games. "It was for the others to decide
which team was better than the other", he said.
Pak Sahara Cup squad finalised
KARACHI, Aug 31 (ANI) The three-member selection committee of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has submitted a list of 14 players and three reserves for the Sahara Cup for approval.
The 14 players submitted by the selectors are: Aamir Sohail (captain), Saeed Anwar, Inzamam Haq, Ijaz Ahmad, Salim Malik, Yousuf Yohanna, Shahid Afridi, Moin Khan (wicketkeeper), Abdul Razzak, Azhar Mahmood, Mushtaq Ahmad, Aqib Javed, Waqar Younis, Mohammad Zahid. Reserves: Saqlain Mushtaq, Murtuza Husain and Fazl-i-Akbar.
The five-match series for the Sahara Cup is to be contested between Pakistan and India at Toronto in Canada on September 12, 13, 16, 19 and 20.
According to sources close to the PCB, the final list will be officially released in the next few days after the approval by the executive council.
The executive council's approval is expected to be taken on telephone as no meeting is scheduled in the near future and the team has to leave for Canada on September 8.
It may be recalled that the council unanimously decided not to give clearance to any team on telephone at its last meeting.
The salient feature of the team is the recall of former captain Salim Malik and the omission of speedster Wasim Akram and spinner Saqlain Mushtaq.
Malik has been called back on the basis of his being the top scorer in the national one-day championship with 395 runs in seven innings besides scoring 414 first-class runs at 34.50. Akram has not been kept in the list because of his commitments with Lancashire in the English cricket circuit.
Saqlain Mushtaq, though, has not been included in the first 14 players, yet he is one of the three reserves as the selectors are hoping to have him for the series against India despite the fact that he has expressed his inability.
Saqlain's county Surrey is leading the English county championships. The selectors are hoping that if Surrey win the next two games, they would be crowned champions and the off-spinner might be released before the final game starting around September 10.
The other two reserves are paceman Fazl-i-Akbar, who has been kept as a back-up for Waqar Younis, and off-spinner Murtuza Husain. Younis, currently out of Pakistan, and reportedly nursing an injured elbow and problem-ridden ankle, is expected to be back today. His availability will be known on his return.
In another development the PCB has refused to accede to selection committee's request to replace Shoaih Akhtar with Abdul Razzak for the Commonwealth Games. This means that Akhtar will got to Kuala Lumpur and Razzak will proceed to Toronto.
Earlier, chief selector Wasim Bari said the selection committee had finalised the team in consultation with the senior coach Javed Miandad and captain Aamir Sohail. However, he clarified, that neither Javed Miandad nor Aamir Sohail sat in the short selection committee meeting.
"We have been doing a lot of home work for the last two days. Therefore, it did not take us long in finalising the team," said Wasim Bari.
While replying to a question, the chief selector said that a 14-member team would go to Toronto, but the selection committee added two more members in place of unfit paceman Waqar Younis and middle-order batsman Ijaz Ahmad. If both the players could not gain full fitness till departure of the team for Toronto, the remaining 14 players would make up the team.
Wasim Bari said that if the PCB asked him, he would feel no hesitation in announcing the team before mediamen.
"The selection committee can explain its decisions better," said Wasim Bari while replying to a question.
Wasim Bari said that if
the PCB gave him a "go ahead" signal, his
selection committee could also prepare the Pakistan team
for the seventh World Cup Cricket Tournament to be held
in England next year.
Madan helps India Seniors triumph
AMRITSAR, Aug 31 (PTI) India Seniors registered a comfortable 5-wicket win over Sri Lanka Seniors in the fourth match of the five match one-day series of All Out Freedom 50 Cup played in the Gandhi Grounds here today.
With this win India have gone up 3-1. India lost its first match at Agra by 14 runs.
Sri Lanka, batting first, were all out for 186 runs in 39 overs. Middle order batsman Amal Silva scored the highest 40 runs for the visitors which included four fours. Ashok de Silva scored 30 runs with the help of two fours. Medium fast bowlers Sanjeev Sharma took three wickets for 24 runs whereas Roger Binny, Madan Lal and Sandeep Patil took two wickets each.
Indian Seniors overhauled the target in 33.2 overs with two consecutive fours by Chander Kant Pandit in his unbeaten 27 runs in 23 balls.
The main scorer for India was Madan Lal who made 61 runs in 62 balls with the help of five fours and three sixes. Ashok Malhotra ably helped him in the third-wicket partnership. Ashoks individual score was 37 with the help of three fours. Madhura Singh took three Indian wickets for 47 runs whereas Ashok de Dilva and A. de Mel took one wicket each.
Madan Lal was declared Man of the Match for scoring 61 runs and taking two wickets.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 186 all out (Amal Silva 40, Ashok de Silva 30, Deva Priya 21, Sanjeev Sharma 3 for 24, Roger Binny 2 for 22, Madan Lal 2 for 28 and Sandeep Patil 2 for 29).
Rohan, Nazma emerge champs
HOSHIARPUR, Aug 31 Rohan Kapoor and Nazma are the junior Punjab champions in badminton. They won these titles in the Punjab Junior Badminton Championships which concluded here.
Rohan retained his title defeating Ludhiana's Dilpreet Singh in a cliff-hanger 17-14, 17-14. The match lasted more than an hour. Dilpreet, who lost to Rohan just two days ago in inter district final, was determind to take revenge and he tried his level best to win but it was not his day.
The singles match was the most refreshing part of the tournament. Dilpreet started the first game with a bang racing with the score of 5-0, 10-5, 13-10. But Rohan hung on. He crept back slowly to catch Dilpreet at 14. Dilpreet , who looked nervous by the turn of events, gave away three negative points to make the job easier for Rohan.
Rohan was once again behind through out the second game. At one stage Dilpreet was leading 12-5. But Rohan, who is great fighter, started to make progress and reduced the margin 12-14. Service changed hands for five times and Dilpreet failed to get a single point for winning the game. Instead Rohan caught him at 14 and raced to 17-14 victory with some powerful down the line smashes.
Later Dilpreet joined Amardeep to win the Junior boys doubels title 15-10, 15-9.
The girls singles was a disappointing event. Nazma won the title 11-7, 11-0 in just over 15 minutes defeating Sumit of Jalandhar. Much was expected from Sumit. She played well in the earlier matches, but she disappointed everybody.
Later on Nazma and Sumit joined together to win girls doubels title. They defeated Navdeep and Vidhu Vatrana of Patiala 15-11, 15-6.
Setback for Essex
LONDON, Aug 31 (Reuters) Essexs hopes of winning the Sunday league title were undermined by their defeat by Yorkshire at Scarborough yesterday.
Needing a win to draw level at the top with Lancashire, who had overtaken them in midweek, Essex managed only 129 all out from their allotted 40 overs.
Ronnie Irani, with 37, was the only batsman to offer much resistance in the face of tight bowling by spinners Ian Fisher and Richard Stemp.
Yorkshire reached their target easily, winning by eight wickets with more than 12 overs to spare.
Lancashire are now four points clear with two matches each to play.
In the days only County Championship match Somerset beat their local rivals Gloucestershire.
Needing only 164 to win, Somerset lost three quick wickets to West Indies paceman Courtney Walsh but recovered to win by five wickets.
Defeat for fourth-placed Gloucestershire severely dented their championship hopes, leaving them 33 points behind leader Surrey with three matches to play.
Scores and results:
At Derby: Durham beat Derbyshire by 22 runs. Durham 217-9 in 40 overs (J. Morris 50). Derbyshire 195 all out in 39 overs (M. Casser 61). Durham 4 points.
At Southampton: Hampshire beat Middlesex by 12 runs. Hampshire 210-5 in 40 overs (G.White 51). Middlesex 198-7 in 40 overs. Hampshire 4 points.
At Northampton: Kent beat Northamptonshire by 7 wickets. Northamptonshire 168-6 in 40 overs. Kent 172-3 in 36.4 overs (C. Hooper 65 not out). Kent 4 points.
At Hove: Glamorgan beat Sussex by 37 runs. Glamorgan 212-7 in 40 overs (A. Cottey 63). Sussex 175 all out in 38.4 overs. Glamorgan 4 points.
At Edgbaston: Warwickshire beat Worcestershire by 4 wickets. Worcestershire 127 all out in 32.5 overs. Warwickshire 128-6 in 30.5 overs. Warwickshire 4 points.
At Scarborough: Yorkshire beat Essex by eight wickets. Essex 129 all out in 37.3 overs. Yorkshire 131-2 in 27.3 overs (M. Wood 65 not out). Yorkshire 4 points.
Punjab varsities attain lofty heights
NEW DELHI, Aug 31 (PTI) Amidst the annual hype and hoopla over individual sporting honours like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award, the acknowledgement to universities as the springboard for excellence receives scant attention.
The Maulana Abul Kalam Azad trophy for allround best performance by a varsity in a year brings up the rear on the scale of popularity attached to the awards given away by the President on the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand which is celebrated as National Sports Day.
But Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, claimed the latest award for its performance during 1996-97 carving a special place for itself with its 13th triumph in 21 years to equal Delhis record for the trophy instituted in 1956-57.
Sports at the varsity level, which once held much glamour as hordes of young stars graduated to represent India, today is crying for rejuvenation with even the Rohington Baria Trophy Tournament for inter-varsity supremacy in cricket slowly fading into oblivion.
From halcyon days when former India skippers like Ajit Wadekar and Sunil Gavaskar came through the college set-up, the slide has been so sharp that even the combined varsities team was not being fielded in the last hockey nationals.
Amidst such a slump, Punjab remains wedded to the uplift of sports at the college level as amply reflected in the performance of GND University founded in 1969, and Panjab University as 12-time winners of the Azad Trophy.
Apart from Delhis distinction, only Bombay (thrice) and Kurukshetra, Haryana (once) find place in the roll of honours to form an exclusive sporting club among varsities.
"There is a great sports culture in the colleges under GND University. We have been able to create such an atmosphere and Principals of all the colleges under us have keenly promoted sports," Director Sports, of the University Kanwaljeet Singh told PTI after collecting the running trophy from President K.R. Narayanan along with Pro-Vice Chancellor Inderpal Singh.
The list of stars to emerge from the GND University stables is enviable with former India hockey captain Pargat Singh and his woman counterpart Rajbir Kaur, former India cricketers in brothers Mohinder and Surinder Amarnath, Madan Lal and international wrestler Kartar Singh among the best.
Colleges located in the five districts of Amritsar, Jalandar, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr in the north-west border areas of India which come under GND University have always imparted excellent training with coaches showing lot of dedication, Mr Inderpal Singh said.
Pointing out the special reason for excellence by the two Punjab Universities, Mr Kanwaljeet Singh said: "If you notice there are a number of Arjuna awardees also who were from our university, and many of them are from the rural areas."
GND University's focus on holding separate competitions among colleges set up in rural areas has consistently ensured that sportspersons who would otherwise have been overwhelmed competing with better-endowed rivals from urban areas, gain a lot of confidence winning at a certain level before moving up.
"Competing at B level competition makes it easy for them to do well at the A grade later on," Mr Kanwaljeet Singh added.
Colleges take extra interest in absorbing talented youth and providing funds, free hostel facilities to the economically underprivileged and cash awards for performances.
GND University entered the race for the Maulana Azad Trophy only in 1970-71, but have since then won it 13 times and have been adjudged runners-up eight times apart from coming third overall twice to reveal their consistency.
Mr Inderpal Singh, however, was not satisfied with the Rs 1 lakh grant that goes with the trophy for buying sports equipment. "It is a meagre amount. The government should increase it to around Rs 10 lakh so that the winning varsity can provide scholarships, diet money and build its sports infrastructure".
The lament of poor support from the government has been a constant refrain in the last decade as universities have been losing their pride of place in Indian sports development.
Shivalik, Guru Nanak teams enter
CHANDIGARH, Aug 31 Defending champions Shivalik Public School, Sector 41, sailed into the final, ousting last year's semifinalist St John's High School, Sector 26, by 4-1 after leading by a solitary goal at the lemon break in the Sub-Junior Chandigarh Football Tournament for the Shivalik Trophy sponsored by the Shivalik Public School under the aegis of the Chandigarh Football Association being held at the Sector 17 Football Stadium here today.
The Sector 26 St John's High School put full pressure from the kick-off. The game was hardly five minutes old, when the Sector 26 St John's players got a penalty kick which was awarded when right stopper Amrinder Singh of Shivalik Public School stopped the ball with his hand in the dangerous area. Right-half Kartik missed the penalty kick which sailed over the cross bar.
In a counter attack by Shivalik player right striker Neeraj Malik also missed a gold chance in the eighth minute with only goal-keeper at his mercy. St John's boys made a dangerous move and the kick taken by Manu Sharma, right-half of the Sector 26 school, missed the target.
Shivalik boys changed their tactics and succeeded in scoring the first goal in the 25th minute through left striker Sukhwinder Singh. Neeraj Malik of the Shivalik school was shown yellow card by the referee. As he has collected two yellow cards he has been debarred to play the next match.
At half time, the score was 1-0 in favour of the Sector 41 team.
After resumption of the second half right-half Vinay of the Sector 41 school gave a diagonal pass to his team-mate right striker Neeraj Malik who beat the rival custodian with a powerful kick in the 40th minute and it made 2-0. Shivalik lads again attacked the rival goal area through right-half Vinay who dribbled past two defenders and also beat the St John's custodian with a fine placement in the corner of the goal net in the 44th minute (3-0).
However, for the Sector 26 St John's High School right winger Sahil reduced the margin in the very next minute with long ranger kick which straight went into the goal net beating the goalkeeper completely.
Right-half Vinay scored the fourth goal in the 50th minute with solo effort and the team moved into the final.
In another semifinal of the day, between Sector 36 Guru Nanak Public School and Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 22, the former school entered the final winning on 3-2 via tie-breaker rule after remaining goalless after the regular period.
In well-contested match both the teams failed to score any goal due to tight defence and the ball remained in mid-field. At half time, the score was goal-less.
US Open is truly wide open
NEW YORK, Aug 31 (AFP) Cacophony and chaos are the trademarks of the US Open Tennis Championships.
This year, on-court action promises to be as unpredictable as the summer weather and the notoriously noisy New York crowds.
Pete Sampras, the top seed who comes into the final Grand Slam of the year with his world no.1 ranking less than secure, reckons there are "probably eight guys who can logically win here."
Pete Sampras is gunning for a 12th Grand Slam crown, which would tie him with Australian Roy Emerson for the most mens singles titles. He knows that despite his victory at Wimbledon this year, his brief falls from the no. 1 spot -which he ceded twice this year to Chiles Marcelo Rios have diminished his lustre.
Defending champion Pat Rafter, who defeated Briton Greg Rusedski in last years final to capture his first Grand Slam title, burnished his reputation with a victory yesterday in the ATP Tour Hamlet Cup.
The womens draw is, if anything, more open than the mens.
World no. 1 Martina Hingis
is the defending champion and top seed, but the aura of
invincibility she brought into the tournament last year
is missing now.
Seles beat Hingis en route to the Canadian Open title earlier this month and is one of several veterans making a stand against the tennis teens including Hingis and 1997 open runner-up Venus Williams this year.
Novotna (29) finally captured her first Grand Slam title. Spains Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (26) ended a four-year Grand Slam drought at Roland Garros, and 29-year-old Steffi Graf, who missed last years US Open because of knee surgery, won her first title in more than a year on Saturday in New Haven.
Seles, the sixth seed, said the atmosphere of the US Open itself can be as big a challenge as any persons across the net.
Romario feels like a wounded lion
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 31 (Reuters) Brazilian striker Romario responded to criticism of his recent goal drought for Flamengo by comparing himself to a wounded lion who would soon show his claws.
"I feel like a wounded lion but the claws are still sharp and they will appear again," Romario told "O Globo" newspaper.
Romario, plagued by pulled muscles since he was forced to drop out of Brazils World Cup squad in June, has been jeered off the field in his last two matches.
"I would jeer as well because I didnt play well the day they jeered me," he admitted.
But the 32-year-old player, who became a national hero when Brazil won the World Cup in 1994, denied suggestions that his career was over and said he planned to continue playing for a further four years.
"Every time I am in a phase where Im not scoring goals, they invent these things. It doesnt affect me at all," he said.
Hockey team starts training session
CHENNAI, Aug 31 (UNI) Even as the Indian cricket team is to be announced shortly here, the Commonwealth Games bound hockey team has begun a short five-day training session before emplaning for Kuala Lumpur on September 4.
According to Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) Secretary K. Jyothikumaran, the team will have training sessions at the astro turf stadium here under coach M.M. Kaushik and Ramesh Parameswaran, his deputy. They were put through a physical training session at the Nehru Stadium this morning.
The team will also play practice matches against Tamil Nadu XI and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) sports Hostel team. The first game would be against the Tamil Nadu team on September 1.
IHF President and chairman of the selection committee K.P.S. Gill will arrive here to be with the team. The selectors have picked Punjab's Daljit Singh in place of Sanjeev Kumar, who would be unable to go with the team to Kuala Lumpur. Daljit Singh has been selected based on his previous performance.
The Indian team would practice under lights in Kuala Lumpur for acclimatisation in the evening of September 4 after reaching there in afternoon.
Blanc to continue with France
MARSEILLE (France), Aug 31 (AFP) Defender Laurent Blanc, who missed Frances World Cup triumph after being sent off in the semifinals, said here yesterday he had decided to prolong his international career after all.
Blanc (32) who had earlier announced he could retire from the French side, made the announcement during a parade in Marseille for several of its World Cup heroes.
He said he would "take it match by match, to help France qualify" for the European Championships in 2000.
Around 50,000 people turned up to see the parade in Marseille. French World Cup players Blanc, Didier Deschamps, Christophe Dugarry, Zinedine Zidane and Robert Pires, all current or former Marseille players, passed through the crowds on an open-topped bus.
Wills Open from September 2
NEW DELHI, Aug 31 The Wills Southern Open, the second event of the newly-formed Wills Sport Golf Tour, will be played at the Karnataka Golf Association Classic Golf Course from September 2 to 5.
This event is the oldest tournament for professionals with a history dating back to 1964, when it was first played at Chennai.
The Wills Southern Open has a prize money of Rs 6 lakh with the winner receiving Rs 99,960/-
While Arjun Singh showed
superb form by winning the recently-concluded Wills
Masters at Gurgaon, other Tour regulars, namely Firoz
Ali, Vivek Bhandari and Indrajit Bhalotia, showed signs
of coming into form and therefore, an exciting event is
on the cards.
Paes to meet O Brien in first round
NEW YORK, Aug 31 (DPA) Indias Leander Paes will meet Alex O Brien of the USA in the first round of the $ 14 million US Open which begins here today.
The draw including qualifiers for the top 10 rankers:
Pete Sampras, 1 (USA) v Marc Goellner (Germany), Daniel Vacek (Czech Republic) v Marcelo Rios 2 (Chile), Patrick Rafter, 3 (Australia) v Hicham Arazi (Morocco), Peter Korda, 4 (Czech Republic) v Bernd Karbachar (Germany), Richard Krajicek, 5 (Holland) v Arnaud Clement (France), Greg Rusedski, 6 (Britian) v Wayne Ferreira, (South Africa), Alex Corretja, 7 (Spain) v Gianluca Pozzi (Itali), Andre Agassi, 8 (USA) v Sebastian Grosjean (France), Karol Kucera, 9 (Slovakia) v Steve Campbell (USA), Carlos Moya, 10 (Spain) v Mariano Puerta (Argentina).
Disabled Aussie swims Channel
SYDNEY, Aug 31 (DPA) Australian John McLean has become the first wheelchair athlete to swim the English Channel, taking 12 hours to complete the 34-kilometre course on his second attempt, the channel swimming association said in a press note today.
MacLean lost the use of his legs 10 years ago after being hit by a truck while training for a triathlon. The 36-year-old professional athlete abandoned his first attempt on August 14 after encountering adverse weather.
MacLean, who put on extra weight to cope with the cold during his swim, is the first disabled athlete to complete the Hawaiian ironman triathlon in the required time.
He said before leaving
Australia for his channel swim that he hoped he would
inspire other paraplegics. "If they want to play a
musical instrument, or play sport, or whatever they want
to do, I hope I can be some source of encouragement for
Chang subdues Haarhuis
BROOKLINE (Massachusetts), Aug 31 (Reuters) Fourth-seeded American Michael Chang heads into the U.S. Open after claiming his first title in more than a year here yesterday.
Chang broke unseeded Dutchman Paul Haarhuis three times and saved all six break points he faced in a 6-3 6-4 victory.
Chang missed almost two months this year battling knee and wrist injuries. His world ranking dropped to 22nd this week after he started the year ranked third. Earlier this year, he came up short in the finals of the Kroger St. Jude and U.S. Mens Clay Court Championships.
The 26-year-old Chang will face Israeli qualifier Eyal Erlich in his opening-round match at the U.S. Open. He is unseeded after being the second seed last year.
Chang improved to 7-1 lifetime against Haarhuis and 2-0 in Hardcourt matches. Chang took their other previous hardcourt meeting in the final at Indian Wells, California, in 1996.
Haarhuis, 32, was appearing in his first singles final since Indian Wells in 1996. His lone ATP Tour title came in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1995. He has lost seven singles finals.
Eves' national hockey meet postponed
CHENNAI, Aug 31 (PTI) The 49th Bank of Baroda National Women's Hockey Championship has been postponed by four days due to certain administrative problems, according to the organisers, Tamil Nadu State Women's Hockey Association (TNWHA).
COA members back Kashyap
CHANDIGARH, Aug 31 All members of the Chandigarh Olympic Association have offered their unstinted support to Mr Rajan Kashyap, the newly-appointed president of the association.
The executive committee members of the association met Mr Kashyap here immediately after the appointment and apprised him of various developments.
Mr Kashyap promised to work for the promotion of sports and assured the members that elections of the office-bearers, which were due, would be held as per rules at the earliest.
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