SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
S P O R T S

India clinch series
Multan, February 16
An inspired India decimated Pakistan with an emphatic five-wicket victory to clinch the one-day series by taking an invincible 3-1 lead here today. After bundling out the hosts for a paltry 161 in 41.5 overs, the Indians romped home with 17.3 overs to spare to record their second consecutive one-day series triumph on Pakistani soil since the 2004 tour.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (left) and Rudra Pratap Singh celebrate the dismissal of Pakistan’s Younis Khan during the fourth Mahendra Singh Dhoni (left) and Rudra Pratap Singh celebrate the dismissal of Pakistan’s Younis Khan during the fourth 
one-dayer in Multan on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Sachin past his prime: Woolmer
New Delhi, February 16
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has joined the list of Sachin Tendulkar’s critics, saying that the batting maestro has passed his prime and some technical flaws have crept into his batting.

New Zealand ‘bowl out’ West Indies
Sydney, February 16
New Zealand beat the West Indies in a “bowl out” after their Twenty20 match in Auckland ended in a draw today. The match was decided by a soccer-style shootout in which the teams took turns bowling at the stumps after both teams made 126 from their 20 overs.

Kulkarni to lead CCI team
Mumbai, February 16
Former India bowler Nilesh Kulkarni will lead the Cricket Club of India XI in its three-day warm up match against the visiting England side to be played at the Brabourne Stadium here from February 18 to 20.


Estonia’s Kristina Smigun skies to win the women’s 10km cross country race at the Winter Olympics in Pragelato, Italy, on Thursday
Estonia’s Kristina Smigun skies to win the women’s 10km cross country race at the Winter Olympics in Pragelato, Italy, on Thursday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 

Pak start favourites
Chandigarh, February 16
The hockey fans can look ahead for another treat after Premier Hockey League when India and Pakistan clash in their first match of the six-match home-and-away series at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium at 6.30 pm tomorrow.


Pakistan players stretch out during a training session at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Thursday. The first match of the India-Pakistan hockey series will be played on Friday. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari
Pakistan players stretch out during a training session at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigarh on Thursday

Mixed fortunes for shuttlers
Jaipur, February 16
India were off to a flying start in Thomas Cup men’s badminton championship, clinching all three singles to sweep aside Singapore 4-1 here today. However, the women’s team in Uber Cup put up a spirited show but went down fighting 2-3 to second seed Hong Kong in group ‘Y’.

Kila Raipur Games
Bullock cart trial races held

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 16

The Kila Raipur Games, better known as the Rural Olympics, started today with bullock cart time trial races at the Grewal Sports Stadium in Kila Raipur village, near here.



A bullock cart time trial race in progress at the Grewal Sports Stadium in Kila Raipur on Thursday. — A Tribune photograph
A bullock cart time trial race in progress at the Grewal Sports Stadium in Kila Raipur on Thursday

AFI gets tough with 12 athletes
New Delhi, February 16
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) today announced that it had provisionally suspended 12 athletes who had not rejoined the national camp after their return from South Africa.

India retain 118th spot in FIFA rankings
New Delhi, February 16
A week before taking on Asian powerhouse Japan in the Asia Cup qualifiers, South Asian champions India retained their 118th position in the latest FIFA football rankings.

Sania-Huber duo win
Bangalore, February 16
A day after bowing out of the singles event, Sania Mirza paired with Liezel Huber to defeat Martina Muller and Silvija Talaja 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 in the second round of the $ 175,000 WTA Bangalore Open Tennis Tournament here today.

Santangelo in quarters
Bangalore, February 16
Italians Maria Santangelo and Maria Elena Camerin moved into the quarterfinals of the $ 175,000 WTA Bangalore Open Tennis Tournament in constrasting styles here today.

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India clinch series
S.S. Ramaswamy

Multan, February 16
An inspired India decimated Pakistan with an emphatic five-wicket victory to clinch the one-day series by taking an invincible 3-1 lead here today. After bundling out the hosts for a paltry 161 in 41.5 overs, the Indians romped home with 17.3 overs to spare to record their second consecutive one-day series triumph on Pakistani soil since the 2004 tour.

It was an awesome all-round display by the visitors who relied on newcomer Rudra Pratap Singh (4-40) and Irfan Pathan (3-26) before captain Rahul Dravid (59) and the in-form Yuvraj Singh (37) made useful contributions to steer the team to a facile victory, leaving a capacity crowd at the Multan Cricket Stadium shell-shocked.

Young guns Suresh Raina (35 not out) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2 not out) provided the finishing touches to a remarkable triumph built around exemplary team work.

The Indian dressing room erupted in joy as Raina pulled part-timer Imran Farhat to the boundary to fetch India the winning runs in what turned out to be a lop-sided contest.

The visitors could not have chosen a better venue to deliver the knockout punch, coming as it did in the hometown of captain Inzamam-ul Haq, who top scored for the hosts with a defiant 49.

Dravid elected to field after winning the toss and his bowlers responded brilliantly to reduce the formidable Pakistan batting line-up to 29 for four by the 13th over. The home team never really recovered from the early jolts.

Barring Inzamam, none of the Pakistani batsman could hang around for long as the Indian pacers managed to obtain some assistance from the track in the early stages of the contest.

It was a pathetic display by the Pakistan batsmen who had no answers to the energetic Uttar Pradesh paceman R.P. Singh and Pathan, who wrecked the hosts with fiery spells.

Thanks to the efforts of these two left-arm pacemen, India were left with a modest asking rate of slightly over three runs an over to wrap up the series ahead of the fifth and last match at Karachi on Sunday. It was also a sweet revenge for the 2-4 loss India suffered at home last year.

However, a good start also eluded the Indians with openers Sachin Tendulkar (0) and Gautam Gambhir (21) perishing early with only 29 runs on the board, comeback man Mohammad Sami (3-42) doing the damage.

Dravid then guided the tourists with a fine innings of 59 containing nine fours before falling leg before to a swinging full toss from Sami.

Yuvraj (37 in 57 balls) paved the way for the victory with a third-wicket partnership of 85 in 106 balls.

The Punjab batsman struck six fours but his dismissal as well as that of Mohammad Kaif (0) in a span of eight balls provided Pakistan renewed hopes of a dramatic turnaround.

Dravid also fell after facing 72 balls when India needed 29 more runs to win.

Raina, getting his first chance to bat in the series, played in an impressive fashion and hit six fours in his 34-ball knock to guide the team to victory.

In the morning, another UP youngster — R.P. Singh — took 4 for 40 after coming first-change, including two wickets off successive balls, to steal the show.

The 20-year-old paceman was even on a hat-trick in his first six-over spell after sending back in-form batsman Shoaib Malik and vice-captain Younis Khan off successive balls in his very first over.

The Rae Bareilly youngster failed to complete the feat but came back in the second spell to take two more wickets while Pathan also bowled with a lot of verve.

Pakistan had little to show for in their do-or-die encounter, barring Inzamam’s determined knock of 49 in 62 balls with seven fours, as the batsmen failed to handle the pressure of a huge home crowd.

Scoreboard

Pakistan

Akmal c Raina b Pathan 3

Butt c Dravid b Sreesanth 13

Malik c Pathan b R.P. Singh 9

Inzamam lbw Tendulkar 49

Younis lbw R.P. Singh 0

Yousuf c Dhoni b Agarkar 25

Farhat c Raina b R.P. Singh 14

Razzaq c Dhoni b R.P. Singh 1

Naved not out 13

Sami c Agarkar b Pathan 11

Asif c Dhoni b Pathan 6

Extras (w-17) 17

Total (all out, 41.5 overs) 161

Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-27, 3-29, 4-29, 5-97, 6-124, 7-126, 8-131, 9-147.

Bowling: Pathan 7.5-2-26-3, Sreesanth 8-1-30-1, R.P. Singh 10-0-40-4, Agarkar 7-0-38-1, Tendulkar 9-0-27-1.

India

Gambhir c&b Sami 21

Tendulkar c Akmal b Sami 0

Dravid lbw Sami 59

Yuvraj c Akmal b Naved 37

Kaif c Inzamam b Razzaq 0

Raina not out 35

Dhoni not out 2

Extras (lb-1, nb-3, w-4) 8

Total (5 wickets, 32.3 overs) 162

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-29, 3-114, 4-115, 5-133.

Bowling: Asif 8-1-35-0, Sami 9-0-42-3, Naved 6-1- 33-1, Razzaq 9-0-47-1, Farhat 0.3-0-4-0. — PTI 

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Sachin past his prime: Woolmer

New Delhi, February 16
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has joined the list of Sachin Tendulkar’s critics, saying that the batting maestro has passed his prime and some technical flaws have crept into his batting.

Writing for the Wisden Cricketer, which will hit the stands tomorrow, the former England Test player said Tendulkar was now not as prolific as he was and his feet did not move as they used to.

“The local media is questioning his technique. He is susceptible to the ball nipping back off the seam and does not move his feet as well as he used to. I do not want to tempt providence but, for all his class, he is not as destructive as he was and he can be contained,” Woolmer said in the best-selling cricket magazine.

Pinpointing key areas for England to focus on to beat India in next month’s Test series, Woolmer also offered tips on how to bowl to Rahul Dravid.

“He is not nicknamed ‘The Wall’ for nothing, but, having taken on opening, he may have exposed himself slightly. The new ball can get him out and he tends to play with his bat outside his body to a ball on line with off stump, which can result in an edge.” — UNI

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New Zealand ‘bowl out’ West Indies

Sydney, February 16
New Zealand beat the West Indies in a “bowl out” after their Twenty20 match in Auckland ended in a draw today. The match was decided by a soccer-style shootout in which the teams took turns bowling at the stumps after both teams made 126 from their 20 overs.

The West Indies missed with all six of their attempts at hitting the stumps. New Zealand were successful with three of their six bowls.

West Indies, batting first, lost seven wickets for their 126 with Daren Ganga and captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul both making 26.

New Zealand lost eight wickets in their reply. The Kiwis looked to have the match under control when they raced to 73-2 in the 10th over, only to lose 44-6 in the last 10 overs.

Opener Lou Vincent was the top-scorer with 42 from 37 balls, but the batting collapse left the home team needing 16 off the last over, including a boundary from the last ball, to force the tie.

“Restricting a side to 120 on Eden Park is a very good effort, we got some good things out of that first 20 overs,” captain Stephen Fleming said.

Fleming paid special tribute to Chris Cairns, who was playing his last match for New Zealand after a distinguished international career that started in 1989. — Reuters

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Kulkarni to lead CCI team

Mumbai, February 16
Former India bowler Nilesh Kulkarni will lead the Cricket Club of India XI in its three-day warm up match against the visiting England side to be played at the Brabourne Stadium here from February 18 to 20.

With the senior players busy with the Ranji Trophy limited overs tournament of their respective zones, the English team could be facing a second strength domestic team.

The 16-member squad, however, has Karnataka’s strokemaking opener Robin Uthappa and Mumbai’s much talked about Vinit Indulkar among its ranks.

CCI XI squad: Nilesh Kulkarni (captain), Robin Uthappa, Vinit Indulkar, Sahil Kukreja, Amol Muzumdar, Hrishikesh Shende, Wilkin Mota, Aniket Redkar, Rajesh Varma, Kshemal Waingankar, Hiken Shah, Vinayak Samant, Hitshu Bachani, Abid Nabi, Munish Ansari, Swapnil Hazare. — PTI

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Delhi beat Haryana

New Delhi, February 16
Delhi’s top order led by skipper Mithun Manhas piled up the runs and then seamers Kunal Lall and Ishant Sharma ripped through the Haryana batting line-up to give the hosts a morale boosting 36 run win in the North Zone Ranji Trophy one day championship here today. Delhi scored 291 for five in the 50 overs and then bowled out Haryana for 255. — UNI

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Pak start favourites
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The hockey fans can look ahead for another treat after Premier Hockey League when India and Pakistan clash in their first match of the six-match home-and-away series at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium at 6.30 pm tomorrow.

The Pakistan team, which reached here today afternoon, has certainly psychological edge over the hosts if one goes by the past performance of both the teams. India got fifth position in the seven-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament at Kuala Lumpur last year while the Pakistan was placed third. Similarly, in the eight-nation Rabo Bank Hockey Tournament at Holland, India was at seventh slot whereas Pakistan won the top honours.

The Indian team, which will go into the series without key players like Gagan Ajit Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur and Viren Rasquinha, is still waiting for the announcement of their captain. But the hosts are counting on drag-flickers Sandeep Singh, Raghunath and Didar Singh, who put up a great show during the PHL held here last month.

However, Pakistan skipper Muhhamad Saqlain denies that there is any pressure on the Indian team. “The Indian team, which is fine combination of young and experienced players, can pose threat to any of the world’s team so we can not bank upon our past glory,” said Saqlain.

Pakistan coach Asif Bajwa is determined to take the series seriously as he says that this year is very important for the world hockey. “Many big events like Asian Games, World Cup and Commonwealth Games are scheduled to be held this year. So we can’t afford to lose the series at the beginning of the year”, viewed the coach.

He also termed the series as best opportunity for both of the countries to try out all combinations and strategies for the forthcoming events. The team will rely on its talented forwards like Mudassar Ali Khan, Adnan Zakir and Rehan Butt and experienced midfielder Muhammad Saqlain.

Meanwhile both the teams have practice session in the evening under the floodlights. The Adviser to the Administrator, Chandigarh Administration, Mr Lalit Sharma, will inaugurate the tournament.

Teams: India: Bharat Chettri, Adrian D’souza, Dilip Tirkey, Kanwalpreet Singh, Harpal Singh, Raghunath, V.S. Vinay, Vikram Pillay, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Sandeep Singh, Rajpal Singh, Didar Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Tejbir Singh, Arjun Halappa, Adam Sinclair, Shivender Singh and Hari Prasad.

Pakistan: Salman Akbar, Nasir Ahmen, Zeeshn Ashraf, Muhammad Imran, Imran Warsi, Imran Khan Yousafzai, Muhammad Saqlain, Dilawar Hussain, Sajjad Anwar, Adnan Maqsood, Rehan Butt, Adnan Zakir, Waqar Sharif, Mudassar Ali Khan, Shakeel Abbasi, Tariq Aziz, Muhammad Shabbir, M Zubair, Mudassar Khan and Shabbir Ahmad Khan. 

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Mixed fortunes for shuttlers

Jaipur, February 16
India were off to a flying start in Thomas Cup men’s badminton championship, clinching all three singles to sweep aside Singapore 4-1 here today. However, the women’s team in Uber Cup put up a spirited show but went down fighting 2-3 to second seed Hong Kong in group ‘Y’.

Tomorrow India would need to get past Singapore to qualify for the next stage of Thomas cup while the women team has to prevail over mighty Hongkong to advance into the same stage in Uber cup.

The men’s team comprising Chetan Anand, Anoop Sridhar and Arvind Bhatt won first three singles to decide the issue in their favour in the group ‘C’ tie. All of them lost their first games in singles but fought back to win their respective matches.

Chetan Anand, who lost to Lee-yen Kendrick in the All England Championship, avenged his defeat as he fought back from a game down to win the first singles. Anand lost the first game 12-21 to the world number 40 but came back strongly to pocket the next two 21-16, 21-11.

Arvind Bhatt too began in a similar fashion as he lost the first game 17-21 to world number 228 TanWei Kiat Aaron. Bhatt then overcame Aaraon’s resistance 21-12, 21-18 in the next two games and put India in a strong 2-0 position.

National Champion Anoop Sridhar, who faced Wijaya Hendra in the third singles, had a tough time negotiating his rival’s deceptive shots. After the 14-21 loss in the first game, Anoop subdued his aggressive opponent by slowing down the pace of the game. He won the second game 21-19 and third 21-17 to settle the issue in India’s favour.

In Uber cup, there was some hope for India to win against Hong Kong when the two teams were tied 2-2 after Aparna Popat and Trupti Murgunde losing in the first two singles and Saina Nehwal upsetting her higher ranked opponent in the third singles and following that the pair of Jwala Gutta and Shruti Kurian recording a thrilling victory over their rivals in the doubles.

But the Indian duo of B.R. Meenakshi and Aparna Balan disappointed the crowd when they just surrendered in the decisive doubles. Singapore combination of Yip Pui Yin and Wang Chen routed them in straight games 21-10, 21-12. — PTI, UNI

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Kila Raipur Games
Bullock cart trial races held
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 16
The Kila Raipur Games, better known as the Rural Olympics, started today with bullock cart time trial races at the Grewal Sports Stadium in Kila Raipur village, near here.

Though the formal inauguration would take place tomorrow, the games attracted a large number of participants and spectators from Punjab and its surrounding states on the first day. More than 100 villagers took part in bullock cart time trial races today.

Karnail Singh of Pakhowal, Charan Singh Gill, Mandeep Singh of Madoi, Baljinder Singh of Jartoli, Ajit Singh of Ghudani, Rattan Singh of Ayali Khurad, Sunni of Majri, Charan Jit Singh of Jitwal, Sukhjit Singh of Narangwal, Harjit Singh of Dhamot, Manpreet Singh of Mihun and Bhola Singh of Jaladiwal were the leaders in the trial races.

Sukhvir Singh Grewal, former international hockey player and the chief organiser of the games, said participants from Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana had confirmed their participation in this event. The organisers had introduced wrestling last year and top wrestlers of North India were expected to be seen in action this time also.

The games will feature the Bhagwant Memorial Gold Cup Tournament in which top hockey teams of the country would take part.

Mr Grewal said competitions would also be held in athletics, cycling, air pistol shooting and equestrian events, besides traditional rural sporting events like camel race, bullock cart race, dog race, kabaddi, tug-of-war, tent pegging, horse riding and aero-modelling. 

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AFI gets tough with 12 athletes

New Delhi, February 16
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) today announced that it had provisionally suspended 12 athletes who had not rejoined the national camp after their return from South Africa.

“Those athletes who have remained absent without taking any permission will not be allowed to go scot free. It is a act of defiance and indiscipline,” AFI Secretary-General Lalit Bhanot said here, adding that the athletes had been given time till February 26 to explain their absence from the camp, failing which strict action would be taken against them.

The athletes include long jumper Maha Singh, shot putters Navpreet Singh Ranvijay Singh, 100m runner Anil Kumar, quartermiler Bhupinder Singh, decathlete Kulwinder Singh, discus thrower Seema Antil, Olympian heptathlete J.J. Sobha and 400 m runner Manjeet Kaur.

However, discus thrower Harwant Kaur, who was also absent from the camp when the WADA team visited, has not been issued a show-cause notice. She is on the list of athletes under WADA’s scanner.

According to Bhanot, Harwant had sought permission for training in her hometown of Amritsar and her request had been granted.

Dr Bhanot, however, asserted that this suspension had nothing to do with doping or theWADA team’s visit to Patiala training camp.

The AFI Secretary-General said these athletes would not be considered for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games if their replies were found unsatisfactory.

“'If they have nothing to say about their disappearance, they could face suspension for periods ranging from one month to three months.”

Meanwhile AFI vice-president and former national champion Adille Sumariwala has disapproved the suspension of the athletes, saying that just because some of them were not present in the camp (at Patiala) when WADA officials came did not mean that they were guilty. “Some guilt proved before such strong action is taken,” Sumariwala added. — UNI 

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India retain 118th spot in FIFA rankings

New Delhi, February 16
A week before taking on Asian powerhouse Japan in the Asia Cup qualifiers, South Asian champions India retained their 118th position in the latest FIFA football rankings.

India are now placed just below Hong Kong with 380 points to their kitty in the rankings headed by Brazil, according to information received here.

Africa Nations Cup winners Egypt jumped 15 places to finish at 17th, while third-placed Nigeria moved up 12 places to occupy the 12th position.

India, who play Japan on February 22 at Yokohama, leads the pack among South Asian neighbours — Bangladesh (143rd), Sri Lanka (145th), Pakistan (157th) and Nepal (175th).

Top rankings: 1. Brazil; 2. Czech Republic; 3. Netherlands; 4. Argentina 5. France; 6. Spain; 7. Mexico; 7. USA; 9. England 10. Portugal; 11. Turkey; 12. Nigeria; 13. Italy; 14. Denmark 15. Sweden; 16. Cameroon; 17. Egypt; 18. Japan; 19. Greece 20. Germany. — UNI 

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Sania-Huber duo win

Bangalore, February 16
A day after bowing out of the singles event, Sania Mirza paired with Liezel Huber to defeat Martina Muller and Silvija Talaja 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 in the second round of the $ 175,000 WTA Bangalore Open Tennis Tournament here today.

In singles, wild-card entrant Isha Lakhani of India was eliminated in the second round after she lost 3-6, 3-6 to Ukraine’s Yuliana Fedak.

Italians Maria Santangelo and Maria Elena Camerin moved into the quarterfinals in contrasting styles.

While third seed Santangelo overcame a first-set deficit to defeat Tzipopa Obziler of Israel 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, Camerin outshone Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-1, 7-5. — Agencies

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Santangelo in quarters

Bangalore, February 16
Italians Maria Santangelo and Maria Elena Camerin moved into the quarterfinals of the $ 175,000 WTA Bangalore Open Tennis Tournament in constrasting styles here today.

While third seed Santangelo overcame a first-set deficit to defeat Tzipopa Obziler of Israel 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, Camerin outshone Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-1, 7-5.

Twentyfour-year-old Camerin, who upset second seed Shehar Peer in the previous round, started with a flourish taking the first set without much ado. However, her Russian rival fought back in the second and troubled her before she emerged victor. — UNI

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 BRIEFLY

Football tourney
Rewari:
Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala, won the championship by defeating Haryana Football XI, Jhajjar (Haryana), 2-0 in the final of the 1st All-India Invitational Football Tournament which concluded at Asra ka Majra village, near here, on Thursday.
The third prize was jointly received by Golden United Club, Hubli (Kolkata), and Indian Air Force, Delhi. The Union Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh distributed the prizes, while Deputy Commissioner Mahender Kumar, who presided over the function, announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for development work in the village as well as a financial assistance of Rs 21,000 for the Baba Asha Ram Youth & Sports Club which organised the tournament. — OC

Navratilova
PRAGUE:
Martina Navratilova will return in May to play in the Czech Republic for the first time since the 1986 Fed Cup final. Navratilova told the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes she would play doubles at the Prague Open. She has yet to choose a partner but indicated it could be Czech Kveta Peschke. — Reuters 

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