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Friday, July 31, 2009

Williams sisters reach round two

Wimbledon champion Serena Williams and sister Venus progressed to round two of the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California.

Top seed Serena was taken to a second set tie-break but battled past China's Li Na 6-3 7-6 (8-6).

Second seed Venus made light work of Stephanie Dubois, winning 6-2 6-3.

Former Stanford champions Anna Chakvetadze and Aleksandra Wozniak lost 6-4 5-7 7-6 (7-5) and 6-4 4-6 7-5 to Maria Kirilenko and Daniela Hantuchova.

The Williams sisters are competing in their first tournament since Serena beat Venus in the final at SW19, with both now looking forward to the US Open, which starts on 31 August.

"I was a little off. I'd rather be a little off now and peak during the second week of the US Open," said 11-time Grand Slam champion Serena.

Venus, who won the Stanford title in 2000 and 2002, said she was pleased with her first game back after Wimbledon.

"It was a great match to get my rhythm, hit a lot of balls and work on my shots," she added.

"It's all about the mentality. I'm working on my transition game. I'm not afraid to come in and use my size."

In the other first-round ties, Australia's Samantha Stosur upset number six seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-4 6-3, while fourth seed Jelena Jankovic cruised past American Angela Haynes 6-3 6-1.

Eighth seed Marion Bartoli of France overcame Ayumi Morita of Japan 7-6 (8-6) 6-3, with Russian qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva beating France's Julie Coin 6-1 7-6 (7-5).

Elsewhere Russia's Maria Kirilenko beat compatriot Anna Chakvetadze 6-4 5-7 7-6 (7-5) and Germany's Sabine Lisicki knocked out Lilia Osterloh 6-2 6-3.

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Baljit to get treatment in USA, sports ministry to foot bill

Nursing an injured eye, Baljit Singh will undergo treatment in the United States to regain his full vision after the sports ministry agreed to foot the bill for the trip.

Hockey India secretary Mohammad Aslam Khan said the ministry has agreed to bear the expenses, thus clearing the decks for the custodian's treatment in the US.

"We have decided to send him to US for treatment and the sport ministry is bearing all the expenses for his treatment," Aslam said.

"We are now in discussion with the ministry to make all the arrangements for his travel. As soon as the formalities
are over, he will leave for the US," he added.

Even though reports claimed Baljit is likely to be treated at the Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore, Aslam said nothing has been finalised yet.

"Doctors here (at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences) are working out whom and where to consult in USA," Aslam said.

"We are determined to see Baljit back into the field and the federation is behind him," Aslam added.

Baljit was left with a damaged right eye after a golf ball, with which he was practicing, sneaked through his visor to rupture his globe during the practice in Pune.

The custodian was rushed to the capital that day and he underwent an emergency surgery even though doctors are still not ready to assure that he would regain full vision.

Sports minister MS Gill had visited him in the hospital and assured him of help.

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Sharapova brushes aside Petrova

Maria Sharapova thrashed fifth seed and world number 10 Nadia Petrova to reach the quarter-finals of the Bank of the West Classic in California.

The three-time Grand Slam champion is continuing her comeback, having returned in May after nine months out because of shoulder surgery last year.

And the 22-year-old Russian hammered compatriot Petrova 6-1 6-2 in Stanford.

There were also wins for third seed Elena Dementieva, Daniela Hantuchova and Samantha Stosur.

Dementieva swept past fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-1 6-2, the unseeded Hantuchova upset seventh seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1, and Australian Stosur beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-1 7-5.

Sharapova, ranked 62nd, was playing just her 17th match since returning from injury and enjoyed her second win in that time over Petrova, having also won their second-round encounter at the French Open.

"I knew what I had to improve upon," said Sharapova, who beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama in the first round in Stanford. "I started that first match lousy. This time the goal was to get a better start.

"I was aggressive the whole way through. I didn't have many letdowns and even when I made unforced errors I stayed with it."

Sharapova will next play the winner of the match between Venus Williams and Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, and the former world number one would relish the chance to face Williams.

"Its always great to come back and play someone who's at the top of the game and playing pretty well. I always relish playing the top players," she said. "I'd love to play against her."

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Roger Federer becomes proud father of twins

15-time grand slam champion Roger Federer and wife Mirka have become proud parents of twin girls. Mirka had the babies late on Thursday night.

The twins are the first children born of the couple, who got married in April.

The 31-year-old Swiss world tennis number one has named the girls Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, reports The Telegraph.

In a statement released on his Facebook page, Federer said: "I have some exciting news to share with you. Late last night, in Switzerland, Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls.

"We named them Myla Rose and Charlene Riva and they are both healthy and along with their mother they are doing great. This is the best day of our lives."

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Cricketer fighting for his life after being struck by lightning

A cricket player was battling for his life Sunday night after being struck by lightning while racing off the field to escape a sudden thunderstorm in Brooklyn.

According to the New York Daily News, Patrick Gibson, 41, was barely breathing and his legs were badly burned after the Marine Park lightning strike.

"His pants were burned. His tongue was out of his mouth and his eyes were rolled back in his head," the paper quoted Kenneth Charles, 38, as saying.

Gibson was playing in his first game for the Brooklyn-based Stars United team when the wild weather chased players off the field at Avenue S and E 32nd St just after 4 pm.

Friends said Gibson lagged behind the group to collect theequipment when he was hit.

Joseph Shortte, 49, of Brooklyn said he performed CPR on Gibson until paramedics arrived.

Gibson went into cardiac arrest as he was being rushed to Beth Israel Medical Center in Brooklyn, Fire Department officials said.

He was in critical condition last night.

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Sania Mirza wins challenger title in USA

Competing in only her second Challenger event, Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza clinched the $50,000 ITF title in Lexington, USA after an upset win over top seed Julie Coin.

The Indian, who was seeded second in the event, defeated France's Coin 7-6 (5) 6-4 yesterday. The last time Sania competed in a Challenger event was way back in 2003.

There was more good news for Sania, who recently got engaged. The 22-year-old rose three places to 80th in this week's WTA singles rankings.

However, she dropped 10 spots to 49th in the WTA doubles list.

In the ATP rankings, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi held on to their sixth and eighth spot respectively in the doubles list.

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I almost quit tennis at 19: Leander Paes

He won us a bronze medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and has nine Grand Slams in his kitty. Yet at 36, he has no plans to quit.

But not many people know that Leander Paes had almost quit tennis when he was 19.
Paes, who was DNA's Guest Sports Editor on Wednesday, said he had "made up" his mind. "I had a chance to turn pro or pick up a scholarship at Stanford University. I thought college life was more happening." Also, in his 19th year, Paes was out of home for 10 months and felt "homesick". "I started losing badly," he said. "I came back, threw my racquets in a corner and promised my dad that I would never play again. He turned to me and said coolly: 'Ok'."

"If he had said 'no, you should play' and all that, then I would never have played, because I am a bit of a rebel. After four months, I picked up my racquet and started playing and never stopped again. My tank was empty then but now it's full," he said.
Paes, who left the comforts of his home in 1986, has been on the road for 23 years.
Among all the trophies and medals that he's collected along the way, his biggest achievement is "fatherhood", said Paes, whose daughter Aiyana is more than three years old now.

"Parenthood has affected me as a player, but in the most positive way imaginable," said Paes, who thinks Aiyana is his lucky charm. "I took my daughter to the US Open when she was just two months old. I had never won the tourn

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Sourav Ganguly reveals secret behind toss delay

Almost eight years after he got under the skin of Steve Waugh in the 2001 series, Sourav Ganguly today revealed the secret of making the Australian captain wait for the toss.

Interacting with the participants of his new TV reality show Dadagiri Unlimited, the former India captain said the delay was not deliberate.

"There is a tradition that both team captains have to sport the team blazer while going for the toss. On that particular day, I did not get my blazer and it took time to get hold of it... That was the reason for the delay," Ganguly told a participant.

In the epic 2001 series, India beat Australia 2-1 to end the Aussies world record of Test wins.

The toss incident is the folklore with the former World Cup winning Australian captain criticising the iconic left-hander for deliberately delaying the proceedings.

The two former skippers had a strained relationship during the historic series with Ganguly's turning up late during India's home series being the lowest point.

In his autobiography, 'Out Of My Comfort Zone', Waugh has criticised Ganguly dubbing him 'elitist' saying he was 'wound up' by the former Indian captain's 'continued petulance' in being late for the toss and then walking off.

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Muralitharan to retire from Test cricket next year

Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan today said he is planing to quit Test cricket after next year's series against the West Indies.

The 37-year-old off-spinner said he is eyeing the two Test matches against the West Indies in November next year as his farewell series because he feels his body cannot bear the rigours of five-day games for much longer.

"We don't have many Test matches next year but I am thinking that next year's Test series against West Indies (in November) will be my last two Test matches," Muralitharan said after Sri Lanka registered a 36-run victory over Pakistan in the first ODI here.

Muralitharan has been struggling with a knee injury for quite some time, which forced him to stay out of Sri Lanka's recent Test series win over Pakistan. His decision came after doctors warned him against surgery at this moment as it could virtually see the end of his career.

"I put in a lot of effort in the past month to get fit. The doctors told me I have to go through (the pain) and train harder because an operation will mean me being out for six to seven months."

"They think I'll be able to play for one to two years and told me to have the operation when I finish playing. That means my career is almost over and I am not going to play for long," he said.

Muralitharan, however, said he plans to carry on playing shorter formats of the game for few more years.

"I still want to play on if I can to the 2011 World Cup and I will enjoy playing T20 for a few more years if I can," said the Sri Lanka spinner, who is the leading wicket taker in Test history with 770 from 127 match.

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India cricket captain MS Dhoni buys a 'Hummer'

Known for his passion for vehicles, Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has added a brand new 'Hummer' worth around Rs one crore to his collection.

The H2 2009 Hummer will definitely get the pride of place among Dhoni's Toyota Corolla, Scorpio, Mitsubishi Pajero, Harley Davidson, Yamaha 650cc sports bike, Kawasaki Ninja and other two-wheelers.

Accompanied by teammate and friend RP Singh and a few of his relatives, Dhoni drove home his 'prize catch' from Delhi via Lucknow last evening.

The stylish cricketer stayed in Lucknow for a day, before hitting the road to reach Ranchi.

"We are thrilled to see the car. We read in the newspapers that film actor Sunil Shetty and singer Mika already have the car," said Abhijit of Ramgarh, one among the crowd who saw the star cricketer's latest acquisition when he made a brief halt en route.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cricket-Sri Lanka still eye series sweep

Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss said he was confident his team can still win the third test against Pakistan to complete a series whitewash despite trailing by 366 runs after the third day on Wednesday.

Pakistan will resume on 300 for five after Shoaib Malik scored a defiant 106 not out, Misbah ul-Haq made 65 and Kamran Akmal chipped in with an unbeaten 60.

"We certainly won't be giving up whatever the target is we'll be trying to bat for a long time and score the runs," Bayliss told reporters.

"It's not impossible to bat on this wicket as they guys showed today," he added.

"It will start to take a little more turn in the next couple of days but we've got some quality players who have scored big runs on these types of wickets."

Bayliss said Sri Lanka were disappointed by their batting after being dismissed for 233 in the first innings.

"We could have scored more runs and the boys in the dressing room are disappointed they couldn't score more runs," he said.

"The batters are all striking the ball well and playing nicely but the difference between this series so far and in the last couple of years is that they haven't gone on to make the big scores.

"They'll be looking to turn that around in the second innings. It's not a real concern we know they are quality players."

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Cricket-West Indies selectors stick with weakened squad

West Indies are sticking with their weakened squad for the one-day internationals against Bangladesh despite the leading players ending their boycott.

A deal was struck on Tuesday for the players, who are in a dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) over contracts and payments, to make themselves available for selection while negotiations take place.

It was widely expected that leading players such as Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo would return for Sunday's first one-dayer against Bangladesh.

A weakened squad had lost both matches in a two-test series against Bangladesh and players drawn largely from that team were named on Sunday for first two one-dayers, before the leading players ended their strike.

The WICB on Wednesday posted a squad list on its official website ( which featured none of the formerly striking players.

No explanation for the decision was given and the WICB was not immediately available for comment.

"They (are) not picking us for the first two games; so I guess that sums up the situation," wrote Gayle, the pre-boycott captain of the team, on his twitter feed.

"They are the boss playing hard ball," he added.

The squad continues to be captained by 36-year-old Barbadian Floyd Reifer with Darren Sammy as his deputy.

The WICB and the players union WIPA met on Tuesday with the head of the regional economic co-operation body CARICOM, Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo, and reached an agreement to have their dispute mediated.

In a statement issued by Jagdeo's office, the two parties agreed to have former Commonwealth secretary general Shridath Ramphal handle the talks.

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England beats Australia in second Ashes cricket Test

Andrew Flintoff took five wickets to help England secure a 115-run win against Australia Monday on the fifth and final day of the second Ashes Test.

The victory, England's first in a Test against Australia at Lord's in 75 years, gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. The first Test was drawn.

Flintoff, bowling through pain in his right knee that led him to announce that he will retire from Test play after this series, finished with figures of 5-92. He bowled 10 consecutive overs from the start of play to earn his third five-wicket Test haul.

"It's been a good Test match," said Flintoff, named man of the match. "It's nice to take five (wickets) on the last morning and receive all the plaudits but it's been a team effort."

"There might be occasions when I'm feeling tired or aching but Straussy (captain Andrew Strauss) was never going to get the ball out of my hand," he added. "I have got three Test matches left and I will give my all. It's going to be hard to get through them but I will be giving everything."

Off-spinner Graeme Swann had 4-87 and removed Michael Clarke, who made 136 and was Australia's main hope in an attempt to reach a record run chase total of 522. Australia, seeking to retain the Ashes, was eventually dismissed for 406 with Mitchell Johnson contributing 63 from 75 balls.

The third Test starts July 30 in Edgbaston.

The hosts were humiliated in the 2006-07 Ashes series, losing by a 5-0 margin. This series started differently when the first Test in Cardiff was drawn after a battling match-saving effort by England.

"We have enjoyed playing here (Lord's) and have a proud record over a number of years so it's disappointing to lose any Test match and especially here," Australia captain Ricky Ponting said.

James Anderson set an early positive tone for England with two lbw appeals in the first four balls of the day, though both were given not out by umpire Billy Doctrove.

Flintoff then claimed the first wicket of the morning before Australia had registered a run. Brad Haddin's resistance, which spanned 196 minutes, came to an end when he edged to Paul Collingwood at second slip for his overnight score of 80. The score was then 313-6.

Flintoff's bowling speeds were consistently above 145 km/h and, to emphasize his threat, struck established batsman Clarke on the glove with a spiteful bouncer. The next ball swung into Clarke and cut away from the outside edge of his bat.

Johnson experienced similar hardship against Flintoff and was hit on the shoulder when he failed to connect with a hook shot when on 11. Two balls later he connected for one of his nine boundaries.

Johnson edged Stuart Broad towards Flintoff at second slip when on 15 but the ball just failed to carry and the batsman scrambled a single. Later in the same over, Clarke reasserted his authority by cover driving for a well-timed boundary.

Swann produced the key breakthrough by bowling Clarke, who had advanced down the pitch only to see the ball dip under his bat and spin back on to the off stump. Swann's ecstatic celebration illustrated the team's relief at removing Clarke.

Australia's vice-captain batted for 319 minutes, faced 227 deliveries and struck 14 boundaries.

Nathan Hauritz (1) was bowled by Flintoff after offering no stroke and Peter Siddle was also bowled by the Lancashire all-rounder, who celebrated his fifth wicket with his usual modesty, kneeling on the Lord's turf and acknowledging the applause.

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Pakistan leads Sri Lanka by 366 runs in third cricket Test

Shoaib Malik scored 106 not out and put on two century stands Wednesday to help Pakistan reach 300-5 and lead by 366 runs over Sri Lanka at stumps on the third day of the final Test.

Malik hit 10 boundaries and two sixes in nearly five hours. He added 119 with Misbah-ul-Haq (65) and an unbeaten partnership of 114 with Kamran Akmal (60 not out) as Pakistan bids to deny Sri Lanka a 3-0 series sweep.

Akmal's ninth half-century came off 68 balls, including six boundaries and a six.

Misbah was was the only batsman to be dismissed after the morning session, when three wickets fell. He hit five boundaries and a six in 149 balls before he chased a ball outside off stump from Angelo Mathews and was caught by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara.

Pakistan lost its first wicket for the day when opener Fawad Alam on 16 scooped a return catch to bowler Thilan Thushara with six runs added to the overnight score of 16-1.

Pakistan captain Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf shared a 32-run partnership before Khan was out lbw for 16 to a dubious decision by English umpire Ian Gould.

Television replays showed that Khan got an inside edge to an inswinger from Nuwan Kulasekera before the ball hit high on a pad.

Yousuf was next out for 23, pushing forward to an away-turning delivery by Herath and edging the ball to Sangakkara.

Regular wicketkeeper Tillakaratne Dilshan did not take the field for Pakistan's second innings because of a fractured finger and a cut on the eyebrow after being hit by a ball while batting on Tuesday.

Herath was the best of Sri Lanka's bowlers in the second innings with figures of 2-113.

Batting first after losing the toss, Pakistan made 299 in the first innings before dismissing Sri Lanka for 233.

Sri Lanka lost its last five wickets for 69 in the post-tea session Tuesday despite Mahela Jayawardene's 79.

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