Petrova steamrolls Sania
Sania Mirza reacts as she plays Nadia Petrova in the women’s singles match. —
Murali, Mendis run through Pakistan
Gupta stretches Kunte
Safin sets up Federer clash
Melbourne, January 21
Melbourne, January 21
Twice runner-up here and champion in 2005, Safin is eagerly anticipating his clash with the 13-times Grand Slam champion. “I’m looking forward. I have nothing to worry about. I’m going to play my match,” said Safin, who beat the Swiss the last time they faced off at the Open in the 2005 semis.
“We know each other pretty well. He knows how to play against me, I know how to play against him. Unfortunately I didn’t win a lot of matches against him, but I’m looking forward. It’s another chance. I have nothing to lose. I’m going to go for it. Whatever comes, comes.”
Federer was equally keen to clash, even though he holds a commanding 9-2 lead in their head-to-heads. “It’s going to be a nice match for sure,” he said. “We have a history. We have played a few times. We’ve played in majors before and played some good matches before. We go way back. Him, of course, being a former number one, same for me, former Grand Slam champion, it’s an intriguing matchup.”
Federer and Safin were joined in the winners’ circle by the Serbian trio of Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic. Andy Roddick also progressed. Women’s top seed Jankovic beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 7-5 and fifth-seeded Ivanovic beat Italy’s Alberta Brianti 6-3, 6-2.
“She’s not an easy opponent. She can be very dangerous,” Ivanovic said of her performance against Brianti. “There is still some areas I have to work on and improve. I know there is still lots of room for improvement. So that gives me confidence,” added the 21-year-old, a beaten finalist at Melbourne Park last year.
Djokovic eased into the third round with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 win over France’s Jeremy Chardy. The 21-year-old world number three struggled initially against Chardy in an even first set, breaking just once in the 12th game, before he romped away with the second and third.
“I’m playing better and better which is a very encouraging fact for me,” Djokovic said. “I really stepped it up and played pretty good in the second and third set especially.”
Roddick, the last American man to win a Grand Slam title with his 2003 U.S. Open crown, ousted Belgian qualifier Xavier Malisse 4-6, 6-2, 7-6, 6-2. “I felt good from the first ball,” Roddick said. “Credit to him. He came out with a good game plan and he was just going to fire.”
Argentina’s David Nalbandian had no excuses for becoming the highest ranked men’s player to be knocked out. “I don’t think I played bad, but every set I was starting a break down and had to fight from a break down and come back,” the 10th seed told reporters after he was beaten 6-4, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 by Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun in the second-round.
“He played, I don’t know if it was perfect, but he played at a very good level.”
The host nation suffered mixed fortunes in the night session on Rod Laver Arena. Australia’s next big hope, 16-year-old Bernard Tomic, was brought down to earth with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 defeat by Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller. Former world number four Jelena Dokovic thrilled a seething mass of green and gold local fans by beating Russian 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze 6-4, 6-7, 6-3.
“I’ve just been really, really focused and really wanted it so bad,” the on-again-off-again-on-again Australian said. “Things are going really well at the moment.” — Reuters
Sania Mirza crashed out of the Australian Open singles event after being hammered in straight sets by Russian 10th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round here today.
World number 11 Petrova took just 70 minutes to beat the 22-year-old Sania 6-3 6-2, also bringing down the curtains on India's singles challenge in the process. Although disappointed with the loss, Sania said she was relieved to be back on the court after being out for months due to a career-threatening wrist injury.
“I’m just happy to be back and doing what I love doing, playing tennis and competing. There was a big crowd out there and I haven't played like that for six months,” she said. “Of course, I'm disappointed at losing but I will try and take positives from this. I will try and get into the top 30, of course, but the last five or six months have taught me to live for the moment so I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
Sania and Petrova had faced each other twice earlier and the record stood 1-1 before today. Petrova, whose best at the Australian Open has been reaching the quarterfinals in 2006, broke Sania in the fourth game of the first set to take a 3-1 lead.
Petrova consolidated the lead to 4-1 by holding her serve in the next game and the set went on serve from there in favour of the Russian. Sania did well to save another break and edge closer to the Russian at 3-5 but Petrova managed to take the first set after an unforced error by Sania.
Sania engaged her opponent in long rallies, did show that she had a plan to set up points, but lacked in execution. Sania now will play in women's doubles with American Vania King and in mixed doubles with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi. — PTI
Murali, Mendis run through Pakistan
Karachi, January 21 Pakistan were bowled out for 161 in 34.5 overs, with just three batsmen reaching double figures, after Sri Lanka had posted a challenging 290 for eight thanks to half centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilana Kandamby. The home side never recovered from a terrible start when they lost three wickets for 17 runs at National stadium. Opener, Salman Butt (62) and captain Shoaib Malik (54) featured in a 108-run stand from 121 balls for the fourth wicket but once they were separated the spinners ran through the rest of the batting. Both went at the total of 125. Muralitharan and Mendis got in on the act with Sanath Jayasuriya also snapping up one wicket as Pakistan lost six wickets for 28 runs. The early damage was done by pacer Nuwan Kulasekara, who trapped Khurrum Manzoor leg before in the first over and in his next over got the experienced Younis Khan to drag the ball on to his stumps.
Karachi, January 21
Pakistan were bowled out for 161 in 34.5 overs, with just three batsmen reaching double figures, after Sri Lanka had posted a challenging 290 for eight thanks to half centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Thilana Kandamby.
The home side never recovered from a terrible start when they lost three wickets for 17 runs at National stadium.
Opener, Salman Butt (62) and captain Shoaib Malik (54) featured in a 108-run stand from 121 balls for the fourth wicket but once they were separated the spinners ran through the rest of the batting. Both went at the total of 125.
Muralitharan and Mendis got in on the act with Sanath Jayasuriya also snapping up one wicket as Pakistan lost six wickets for 28 runs.
The early damage was done by pacer Nuwan Kulasekara, who trapped Khurrum Manzoor leg before in the first over and in his next over got the experienced Younis Khan to drag the ball on to his stumps. — Reuters
Dilshan c Misbah b Akhtar 76
Jayasuriya hit wicket b Gul 19
Sangakkara run out 16
Kandamby c Malik b Iftikhar 59
Jayawardene c Akmal b Gul 24
Kapugedera c Younis b Gul 44
Maharoof b Tanvir 17
Thushara c Akmal b Gul 8
Muralitharan not out 11
Kulasekara not out 0
Extras (lb-1, w-9, nb-6): 16
Total (8 wickets; 50 overs): 290
Fall of wickets: 1-43 2-66 3-165 4-190 5-231 6-253 7-269 8-289.
Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 6-0-45-1; Sohail Tanvir 7-0-50-1; Rao Iftikhar 10-1-43-1; Umar Gul 9-0-58-4; Shahid Afridi 10-0-42-0; Shoaib Malik 8-0-51-0.
Manzoor lbw b Kulasekara 1
Butt c Jayawardene b Jayasuriya 62
Younis b Kulasekara 4
Misbah c Sangakkara b Thushara 1
Malik c Sangakkara b Muralitharan 54
Akmal c Sangakkara b Mendis 6
Afridi c Kulasekara b Muralitharan 14
Tanvir c Dilshan b Muralitharan 1
Gul lbw b Mendis 0
Iftikhar lbw b Mendis 5
Akhtar not out 1
Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-8): 12
Total (all out; 34.5 overs): 161
Fall of wickets: 1-6 2-14 3-17 4-125 5-125 6-145 7-150 8-151 9-153
Bowling: Kulasekara 7-0-31-2; Thushara 5-0-24-1; Maharoof 5-0-31-0; Mendis 6.5-1-29-3; Jayasuriya 4-1-23-1; Muralitharan 7-1-19-3.
New Delhi, January 21
The other four who made it to the top five are: Gautam Gambhir, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma.
Sehwag had a phenomenal year in Test Cricket with a triple century against South Africa and a double hundred against Sri Lanka, along with some blazing starts at the top of the order in one-day cricket.
Carrying on with his splendid form against the Australians in the Test series, the livewire opener also came good in the one-dayers against England with a blistering 85 in the first game at Rajkot, propelling India to a massive total of 387 for 5 in their allotted 50 overs. He followed that up with knocks of 68 in Kanpur, 69 in Bangalore, and missed out on a scintillating century with 91 in the fifth game at Cuttack.
The Najafgarh lad's special year ended in a fitting finale during the first India England Test in Chennai, with a blistering 83 on the fourth evening, which tilted the scales in India's favour.
While Sehwag has 59 points in his kitty, his Delhi team mate Gautam Gambhir comes in a close second with 52 points, after matching his opening partner's good run with scores of 51,70 and 40 in the one-dayers against England, along with a gritty century in seaming conditions in the second Test against England in Mohali.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni concluded one of the most successful years by an Indian captain, with four wins in five Tests. Dhoni led from the front with sterling performances at crucial moments to take the third position with 48 points.
Two young bowlers walked away with the fourth and fifth positions with pivotal spells against the visiting English team.
Harbhajan Singh kept the pressure on the Englishman with some tight spells during the one dayers, and picked up crucial wickets during the Chennai Test, to capture 41 points.
Ishant Sharma enhanced his reputation as India's new speed sensation, spearheading the attack with 6 wickets in the two Tests against England, and holds fifth position with 37 points. — UNI
London, January 21
Strauss said English players will have no problem playing in the IPL if the England and Wales Cricket Board, Professional Cricketers Association and the IPL authorities come up with an amicable solution.
Strauss will lead England to a 11-week Caribbean tour with the players central contracts still unsigned.
However, negotiations are on between the ECB and PCA to find out a solution for the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff to play in the second edition of the IPL starting April 10.
"There's a huge will on behalf of the players, the PCA and the ECB to get it done and dusted as soon as possible.
Everyone will work as hard as they can to ensure it's done before the cricket starts.
"From the players' point of view, there are huge opportunities there financially. We need to find a way of marrying the opportunities available to the players and making sure the players are able to commit themselves to playing for England," he told reporters yesterday.
Although, talks are on, English players have very little time left in their hand as the deadline to confirm their participation in the cash-rich tournament is February 4.
The ECB prevented English players from the inaugural edition of the event last year because of a clash of programme with their national duty.
To add to that, IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi has already made it clear that English players have to commit at least four weeks to the Twenty20 event, but the ECB is willing to release the players for only two weeks.
However, the ECB is working hard to churn out a compromise formula of a three-week stint for players like Pietersen and Flintoff to allow them to return in time for the home series against the West Indies starting May 6.
Strauss is unlikely to be a part of IPL because of his absence from one-day cricket since 2007 World Cup and he said his team-mates have to keep their focus on Test cricket.
"What that preparation is depends on the player to a certain extent. I believe the players who will be involved in the IPL are experienced campaigners. They didn't just turn up yesterday. They know what Test cricket is about and know what preparation they need." — PTI
Gupta stretches Kunte
Gurgaon, January 21
Top seed Grand Master Alexander Areshchenko of Ukraine had a smooth sailing over Vikram Ranolia on the first board. Areshchenko was his usual attacking self in this one-sided encounter.
Important Results of Round 1(Indians unless specified): Vikram Ranolia (0) lost to GM Alexander Areshchenko of Ukraine (1) ; GM Yuriy Kuzubov of Ukrain (1) beat Niraj Niraula of Nepal (0) ; Ritwan Sauntra (0) lost to GM Yuri Solodovnichenko of Ukraine (1) ; GM Evgeny Gleizerov of Russia (1) beat Kapil Lohana (0) ; Ram Gupta (0) lost to Abhijit Kunte (1) ; GM Anuar Ismagambetov of Kazakhstan (1) beat Ravikant Sharma (0) ; Saket Kumar (0) lost to GM Saidali Iuldachev of Uzbekistan (1) ; GM Safin Shukhrat of Uzbekistan (1) beat Cheniram Pegu (0) ; IM B Adhiban (1) beat Avinash Sharma (0) ; Sharma SK (0) lost to GM Petr Kostenko of Kazakhstan (0) ; GM Neelotpal Das (1) beat Niraj Saripalli (1) , Shikha Shah (0) lost to GM Magesh Chandran (1) IM R R Laxman (1) beat Vasanta Wettasinha of Sri Lanka (0) ; Aman Chahal (0) lost to M R Lalith Babu (1).
Women’s boxing meet from January 24
for Champion Colleges Hockey
Collage Group enter quarters
of cricket tourney