Wozniacki serves it hot, Fedex chugs on
Asian Games: Indian eves eyeing top-two finish
Team behind my success: Dhoni
Botham, Swann call England performance an embarrassment
Lewis Hamilton determined to claw back points
‘May play football after retirement’
AITA miffed with Som for giving Asiad a miss
Jamaican’s cricket skills floor Bhajji
Wozniacki serves it hot, Fedex chugs on
New York, September 3
Five-times champion Federer powered his way past Spain's Roberto Bautista 6-4 6-3 6-2, the 33-year-old raising his record on Arthur Ashe Stadium court to a dazzling 25-1. Facing Federer for the first time, the 26-year-old Spaniard quickly found himself 5-1 down in the opening set to the 17-time grand slam winner, who then eased off the gas and coasted to an unflustered straight sets win in just under two hours.
On another sweltering day, three emerging talents and potential grand slam winners of the future were finally ushered to the Flushing Meadows exit. Chinese doubles specialist Peng Shuai routed 17-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-1, Tomas Berdych thrashed 20-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-1 6-2 6-4, and Frenchman Gael Monfils schooled 23-year Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 7-6(6) 7-5.
Monfils put aside his showman antics for a more workmanlike approach to his fourth round match and it resulted in victory over the player dubbed “Baby Fed” for his all-around game that resembles Swiss maestro Federer's. Frenchman Monfils, seeded 20th, returns to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010 for a date with Federer.
“He's got easy top 10 potential,” said Federer of Monfils, who has yet to drop a set. “He's a great mover. He's got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much. His issues have really been just his fitness and his setbacks he's had because of injury. Then sometimes maybe not wanting to play sometimes because of reasons only he can explain.”
It was not all joy for the French contingent on Tuesday with Gilles Simon losing to big-serving Croat Marin Cilic. Cilic and Simon have played a combined 49 five-setters in their careers so it was no surprise that Tuesday's meeting between the two went the distance.
Cilic had won a five-set marathon over Simon earlier this year at the Australian Open and it was the 14th seeded Croatian coming out on top again 5-7 7-6(3) 6-4 3-6 6-3. While Cilic and Simon battled it out for over four hours in the heat, Federer, Monfils, Berdych, Peng and 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki conserved energy by registering straight-sets wins.
Peng, 28, delivered a 64-minute master class to 2013 junior world No. 1 Bencic in an unlikely quarterfinal between unseeded players.
The Chinese had rattled off three impressive upsets in a row from the second round, ousting fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, 28th seed Roberta Vinci and 14th-seeded Lucie Safarova, on her way to reaching her first grand slam singles semifinal in 37 attempts.
“This is amazing time for me,” said Peng, who has won 16 doubles titles, including this year's French Open, but is still chasing her first singles crown. “A lot of tennis. It's a long time, the career. It's tough sometimes. I'm thinking to give up and stop play because I don't know if I can make it or not.”
Wozniacki wallops Errani
Peng will next meet former world No. 1 Wozniacki, who used her aggressive groundstroke game to near perfection in a 6-0 6-1 victory over Italy's Sara Errani.
The 10th seed reached the last four at a grand slam for the first time since 2011 by beating Errani at her own strategy, engaging in long baseline rallies but using superior power to open the court and find lanes for winners. Wozniacki walloped winners of all varieties, belting 26 of them to just 12 for her Italian opponent, who looked dazed and confused at times on court.
“It's been a pretty up and down year for me,” said Wozniacki. “To be here in the semifinals of the US Open once again is an incredible feeling.” — Reuters
Women (Quarterfinals): 10-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) beat 13-Sara Errani (Italy) 6-0 6-1
Peng Shuai (China) beat Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) 6-2 6-1
Men (Round 4):
20-Gael Monfils (France) beat 7-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) 7-5 7-6(6) 7-5
6-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) beat Dominic Thiem (Austria) 6-1 6-2 6-4
14-Marin Cilic (Croatia) beat 26-Gilles Simon (France) 5-7 7-6(3) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Sania-Cara set up semifinal clash with Hingis-Pennetta
Sania Mirza and her Zimbabwean partner Cara Black hardly broke a sweat as they entered the women's doubles semifinals after their rivals retired midway through the quarterfinal match. Sania and Cara, seeded third, defeated Zarina Diyas and Yi-Fan Xu 6-1 1-0 (retd) in 45 minutes. They will now face the Swiss-Italian team of Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta, who upstaged fifth seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 6-4 6-3. In the junior competition, India's Sumit Nagal lost 2-6 2-6 to seventh seed Korean Duckhee Lee to bow out. — PTI
New Delhi, September 3
The Australian is eager to better his wards fifth place finish in the Commonwealth Games. “The Commonwealth Games was a big improvement. We wanted to secure the fourth position but had to satisfy ourselves with the fifth spot. But this time we wish to reach the final,” Hawgood said during an interaction with the media at the sidelines of the team's training session at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here today.
Hawgood considers the Asian Games a “big challenge” for the Indian eves considering the fact that they haven't played Asian powerhouses like China and Korea in over a year. “We have played a lot of European teams in the last few months and it has been a good experience for the team. But we haven't played Asian countries like China, Japan and Korea in the last 12 months and it is going to be a big challenge for us. China and Korea are major threats to us.”
India captain Ritu Rani feels the team will be high on confidence in Incheon. “We have been working hard for the Asian Games and the preparation is very good. Our confidence is high. The performance at the CWG boosted our morale,” said Ritu.
“We will be aiming for the gold medal,” she added.
“Our main focus will be on scoring more field goals. We are also hoping that our dragflickers covert more and more penalty corner opportunities,” Ritu said.
“Youngsters have been given opportunity and we hope that they will be able to score more goals. We also want to rectify the minor mistakes we committed at the Commonwealth Games.” — PTI
Birmingham, September 3
“There will always be ups and downs, but thanks to everyone whoever I have played with. Without their contribution, it wouldn't really have been possible. All the senior players I played with and who played under me, followed by the youngsters. I personally feel we are a fantastic ODI side. And there will be ups and downs, but the most important thing is to keep your intent positive,” said Dhoni.
“We had a tough time in the Test series, but the change of format helps. This format pushes you to be impressive, to back yourself to play your shots. I am very happy with the fast bowlers, especially how they bowled with the new ball. And spinners as well, whenever they get a bit of help from the wicket, they always do well,” he added.
“As far as this series is concerned, our bowlers didn’t have to bowl slog overs. Otherwise, the new-ball bowling has been good, spinners have been fantastic, there were run-outs in the games, brilliant catches, partnerships... we had our bases covered everywhere else. As for how our bowlers handle slog over, we will find out when the opposition have wickets in hand to go after them,” he said.
Dhoni agreed that India were not at all tested in the ODI series. “We were not tested because our fast bowlers bowled well upfront. Where they didn't bowl well, the spinners took the responsibility. In batting, we have kept improving from the first game, which I feel is important. Testing is good, but you don't always want to be tested. You want to win games easily too, you don't always want to hang in until the 49th-50th over,” said the Indian skipper. — PTI
Dhawan hails Shastri’s role as Team Director
Days after Suresh Raina hailed Ravi Shastri's role as Team Director, Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan has said that the former captain instilled confidence in the side after the Test debacle. Relieved after coming good with the bat following a string of poor scores in the Test series and then in the second and third ODIs, Dhawan thanked the support staff of the team and singled out Shastri for giving the team confidence. “I would like to thank the entire support staff, especially Ravi (Shastri) bhai, who has given us a lot of confidence since he joined the team,” the left-handed opener said. “We are playing the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and six months before that, winning an ODI series in England so comprehensively, is a huge confidence booster. It is all the more special given how we bounced back from the disappointing Test series,” he said.
London, September 3
“Rarely have I been so angry at watching an England cricket team perform. What I saw at Edgbaston was a joke. A total embarrassment from a team who should have designs on winning a World Cup in six months' time,” Botham said.
“Instead, they'll be lucky if they win an egg cup between now and then playing like this. They just never learn and it upsets me to see them making the same mistakes time and time again. The One-day game has changed and we have failed to change with it,” he added.
Botham's sentiments were echoed by Swann after England lost the fourth ODI by nine wickets. “It is boring and embarrassing cricket. We haven't caught up with the rest of the world. It is so outdated, outmoded and old fashioned and the whole strategy and outlook must change,” he said.
Former skipper Alec Stewart also felt that England's tactics were outdated. “We are playing One day cricket as if it is still 1995. We need a change of mindset.” — PTI
Monza (Italy), September 3
The chances of that happening at the 'Pista Magica', the venerable cathedral of Italian motorsport set in a former royal park near Milan, look even less likely than Ferrari winning, however.
Mercedes said last week, after a meeting with both drivers, that both understood the team's number one rule that there must be no contact between them on the track and another incident would not be tolerated.
Hamilton, who tweeted on Tuesday that his aim was “to claw back” the lead from Rosberg after dropping 29 points behind with seven races remaining, said then that both had accepted they made mistakes at Spa.
“The fans want to see a clean fight until the end of the season and that’s what we want to give them,” added the 2008 world champion, who had complained at Spa that Rosberg hit him 'on purpose'. “It’s going to be a tough road from here but Championships have been won from much further back than I am now.”
Hamilton may have a psychological advantage going into Monza, the final European round of the season, as the aggrieved party from the previous race and he also has a better record than Rosberg. — Reuters
‘May play football after retirement’
New Delhi, September 3
Usain 'The Showman' Bolt — the fastest man in the world — enthralled the Bangalore crowd with his showmanship during his maiden visit to India for a charity event.
Usain took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions from The Tribune. Excerpts from an exclusive interview.
This is your first visit to India, it must have been exciting to challenge Yuvraj Singh for a one-of-its-kind cricket face off?
Thank you for the warm welcome. Cricket is a sport I have watched a lot with my dad. As the cricket matches were aired at odd hours back home in Jamaica, he used to come to my room and wake me up so that we could watch the match. I had a great time playing cricket with Yuvraj, and then running a 100m dash with him. Obviously, Team Bolt had to win the cricket match!
You are a big fan of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. Did you get a chance to meet him?
I am a big Sachin fan and would love to meet him. Unfortunately, I am in India for a very short period of time. He is a legend in his own right and I would love to hear his thoughts on being such a superstar.
You are an ardent cricket lover and have expressed desire in the past to play in the Indian Premier League. Do you have plans to make yourself available for one of the IPL franchises after your retirement from sprinting?
You never know what the future holds for you. Right now, I am happy cheering on my buddy (Chris) Gayle while he plays in the IPL.
There is nothing else left to accomplish for you. Recently you said 'when you don't have anything left then you might as well retire'. How long do you intend to run?
I have a lot more to do before I retire. So, keep watching.
Do you see any athlete from Jamaica stepping into your shoes? Who would you like to see carrying your legacy forward?
As an athlete, I have watched several races and records being broken. It's all about that split second timing. To get there every athlete has to work hard, there is no substitute for hard work. If you want to succeed and be like me, you have to work hard for it.
Are you looking to claim an unprecedented “triple-triple” in Rio Olympics?
Here's hoping. I'm working at it and there are a lot of great competitors, but I'm going to give it my best shot.
Would you rather play cricket for the West Indies or football for Manchester United?
Post Rio, I will have one more season and then I want to travel. May be, I'll try my hand at playing football.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Where I am concerned, it is about breaking records and winning championships. How many championships can I win? For how long can I hold on to a record? Till when do I keep raising the bar? Critical questions.
Where do Indian athletes lack? India, as a country of 1.2-billion people, has failed to produce a world-class track and field star?
The main reason for this is that India is a nation whose main focus is on cricket. In Jamaica, everyone wants to run and become an athlete and that is why we have so many talented youngsters who are top athletes. The key to this is making a sport attractive by promoting it. In Jamaica, we have great competition and rivalry amongst schools too and this spurs the youngsters.
How the leading footwear brand PUMA has helped you in fulfilling your sprinting ambitions?
I have been associated with PUMA for a very long time. The relationship started when I was 14 and company approached me to be the ambassador. Since then, they have been with me throughout; even when I have struggled with my injury they were always by my side.
New Delhi, September 3
“Somdev said the federation did not ask for his availability before naming the Asian Games squad. We said that since he is country's No. 1 player, he was expected to play. We said that at least play the team event but he was adamant,” said a peeved AITA general secretary Bharat Oza.
Somdev, who won two gold medals in the last edition of the Asian Games in Gunagzhou, wants to improve his ranking as he has slipped to 143rd rank following a prolonged poor run. Somdev will lead India's challenge in the Davis Cup to be held from September 12 to 14 in Bangalore and Asian Games are set to begin in five days' time after the World Group play-off tie. Oza said they cannot think of taking any disciplinary action. “Tennis is an individual game. They do not play under national federation. We also understand that playing on ATP Tour is their bread and butter. So what can we do? The only thing we have in hand is Davis Cup selection.”
Somdev claimed that he had informed the AITA about his decision but the federation still included him in the squad. “I had conveyed my decision around the Wimbledon and they still picked me anyway. I don't really know what they are trying to get at,” an irate Somdev said.
“Trying to convince me is one thing, and then just going ahead and putting my name in a squad when I have specifically asked to be excused is just ridiculous. They are not tennis players. They won't ever understand what it's like for us out there.”
Somdev said his commitment to country can never be questioned. “I am very committed to Davis Cup. I am very close to the captain, coach and all the players. I enjoy my camaraderie with them and enjoy playing for the country. I certainly do not play for AITA,” he said. —PTI
Djokovic to lead Serbia in India
World No.1 Novak Djokovic will lead Serbia against India in the Davis Cup World Group playoff here September 12 to 14, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) confirmed on its website Tuesday. Dusan Lajovic, Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic complete the line-up for Serbia, the 2010 champions. The Indian team will include Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni and Rohan Bopanna with Anand Amritraj as the captain.
Jamaican’s cricket skills floor Bhajji
New Delhi, September 3 What completely floored Harbhajan was the manner in which Bolt bowled during the exhibition match in Bangalore yesterday. “I think cricket is in Bolt's blood. Since I got to watch from close quarters, it was amazing to see him run up to bowl. The perfect delivery stride is understandable because he is a champion athlete. But the manner in which he loaded at the crease and then bowled left me zapped. “He looked like a natural cricketer. Probably, he would have been as successful playing cricket as he had been in athletics,” said Harbhajan, who played alongside the Jamaican legend in the match. Harbhajan, who was in Brazil during the FIFA World Cup had an opportunity to meet Pele but this was “even more special” as the interaction with Bolt was lengthier. “It felt wonderful when Bolt came up to me and Yuvi and said 'I have watched your matches and great to know you guys'. It was great to know that he is so passionate about cricket,” Harbhajan said. “How he mingled with fans really touched my heart. It is a lesson for celebrities from all walks of life... it's the fans who have made them who they are. Long after the event ended, he walked to the other side, shook hands with at least hundred of his fans. Imagine how special those young boys and girls must have felt to watch the great man from such close quarters.” — PTI
New Delhi, September 3
What completely floored Harbhajan was the manner in which Bolt bowled during the exhibition match in Bangalore yesterday. “I think cricket is in Bolt's blood. Since I got to watch from close quarters, it was amazing to see him run up to bowl. The perfect delivery stride is understandable because he is a champion athlete. But the manner in which he loaded at the crease and then bowled left me zapped.
“He looked like a natural cricketer. Probably, he would have been as successful playing cricket as he had been in athletics,” said Harbhajan, who played alongside the Jamaican legend in the match. Harbhajan, who was in Brazil during the FIFA World Cup had an opportunity to meet Pele but this was “even more special” as the interaction with Bolt was lengthier.
“It felt wonderful when Bolt came up to me and Yuvi and said 'I have watched your matches and great to know you guys'. It was great to know that he is so passionate about cricket,” Harbhajan said.
“How he mingled with fans really touched my heart. It is a lesson for celebrities from all walks of life... it's the fans who have made them who they are. Long after the event ended, he walked to the other side, shook hands with at least hundred of his fans. Imagine how special those young boys and girls must have felt to watch the great man from such close quarters.” — PTI
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