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It was an ‘absolutely amazing’ week, says new world no 1 Roger Federer


London: After celebrating his return to the top of the ATP rankings by clinching the Rotterdam Open, 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has insisted that it was an ‘absolutely amazing’ week for him.

Yesterday, Federer, the oldest man to clinch the world number one spot in tennis, eased past Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 to clinch his 97th title at the Rotterdam Open.

Speaking after his win, Federer revealed that though his goal was to make it to the semi-finals as he wanted to become the oldest man to seal a numero-uno spot, he somehow managed to lift the title.


“Thank you very very much. What a week it’s been, absolutely amazing. The goal was to make it to the semis but I won the tournament so I am very happy. I would like to thank everybody who has been part of this tournament over the years. Getting the players back and making them feel incredibly welcome,” the Daily Express quoted Federer, as saying.

Meanwhile, the Swiss star also hailed Dimitrov after a tough week in the Netherlands, adding that he is looking forward to face him ahead in the season.

“Of course I would also like to congratulate Grigor after a tough week. I hope you feel better tomorrow or tonight already. All the best for the season, keep it up and I’m sure I’ll see you around soon,” he said.

By becoming the oldest number one male player by defeating Dutch opponent Robin Haase in quarter-finals, the 36-year-old had surpassed eight-time Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi, who previously held the record at 33 years since September 2003.

Federer first became world number one in February 2004 and had not topped the rankings since October 2012. He, in fact, slipped to a low of 17th in January 2017. Federer will officially dethrone his old rival Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings when the new ATP rankings are updated on Monday.




We have managed short-pitched balls pretty well on this tour: Bhuvneshwar Kumar


Johannesburg: The impressive performance in the ongoing South Africa tour has helped improve Indian batsmen’s reputation of not being good players of short-pitched balls, pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar has asserted. Kumar said South Africa’s ploy to unsettle Indian batsmen with short-pitched balls back-fired in the first Twenty20 on Sunday. whenever India goes abroad, the reputation is that India are not good at batting against short bowling.

This time we have not seen that thing. We have really tackled it well. Today they bowled 5-6 overs of short bowling to us early on and it really backfired on them,â? Bhuvneshwar said after India’s 28-run win. “Whatever the reputation we had, in the last few years we are playing totally opposite of that. We have managed the short ball pretty well on this tour. They wanted to bowl short but it didn’t really work well for them,â? he said. Bhuvneshwar (5 for 24) grabbed his maiden five-wicket haul in T20 internationals to help India restrict South Africa to 175-9 in 20 overs. â?oWhat I was trying to do is bring about change of pace in my bowling.

I just wanted to take the pace off the ball because I knew it won’t be easy to hit the ball and that’s what I did. The important thing is how you mix your deliveries according to the wicket,” he said. “For instance, today we bowled a lot of slow balls. It was a part of our strategy on this wicket, to do away with pace and make it difficult for the batsmen to score. Apart from line and length, it’s important to understand how you want to mix your deliveries. It matters. Today, for instance, it was about bowling slow.â? Shikhar Dhawan scored 72 off 39 balls as India sped off in the powerplay overs. The visitors finished with 203/5, their highest total in T20 cricket against South Africa. This was despite the Proteas targeting India with a short-ball strategy.


Bhuvneshwar hailed the team’s 28-run win in the first T20I as a “complete performance”. â?oWhen we went in there, we knew what we wanted to do as best as a bowling team. We lost the first two Test matches and then we came back. The momentum was on our side and if momentum is on your side, you have got to make it count. Credit has to go the Indian team for the way we have played in every department,â? he said. Bhuvneshwar became the first Indian pacer to pick up five wickets in each format of the game. Additionally, he has experienced a successful tour after impressing with both bat and ball in the Tests as well as the ODI series.

Also read: India vs South Africa Johannesburg T20I: India beat SA by 28 runs
The pacer said that managing workloads and fitness has been the key to his success. â?oFirst thing, it comes with fitness. It’s not easy playing all three formats, especially on a single tour. So the first thing before coming here what I wanted to do is manage workload. I wanted to practice but in a specific way, so as to not put extra workload on the body,” he said. taking wickets means a lot to me when you play for your country. It doesn’t matter if you take five wickets or how many as long as you’re winning matches for your country. That’s what matters and taking fifers in every format feels good. I want to do it as long as possible. Bhuvneshwar said batting first on the Wanderers pitch gave them ample idea about the nature of the wicket and it helped when they returned to defend their total.

After we batted, we had a certain idea of the kind of wicket we would be bowling on after what we saw. But the whole picture begins to emerge only after you’ve bowled because it depends on the bowlers,” he said. “Look at their bowlers â?” they’re of a different height and have different skill sets. So you get an idea but as I said, the whole thing emerges only after you’ve bowled a few balls. For instance, if I’ve bowled the first over, I can communicate with the rest of the bowlers what’s happening on the wicket, like that,â? he added.




India vs South Africa Johannesburg T20I: India beat SA by 28 runs


Johannesburg: A brilliant all-round show helped India beat South Africa by 28 runs in the first Twenty-20 International (T20I) at the New Wanderers Stadium here on Sunday.

Put in to bat, Shikhar Dhawan (72) hammered the South African bowlers all around the park and helped India to post a massive 203/5 before pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (5/24) wreaked havoc in the South African batting line-up to take a crucial 1-0 lead in the three-match series. With this bowling stats, Bhuvneshwar also became the first Indian bowler to take five wickets in each of the three formats (four times in Tests and once each in One Day Internationals and T20Is).

Chasing a challenging target, South African openers J.J.Smuts (14) and Reeza Hendricks got off to a good start. But in the third over, pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar  dismissed Smuts to make it 29/1. Middle-order batsmen Jean-Paul Duminy (3) and David Miller (9) were also dismissed cheaply by Bhuvneshwar and Hardik Pandya respectively. With the scoreboard reading 48/3, Farhaan Behardien (39) came in the middle and played sensibly along with Hendricks.


The two displayed quality shots and forged an 81-run partnership for the fourth wicket. But just when things seemed good Behardien was sent back to the pavilion by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in the 15th over. After adding a few more runs with new batsmen Heinrich Klaasen (16), Hendricks (70) was caught behind off Bhuvneshwar in the 18th over.

Now with 46 needed in 14 balls, lower-order batsmen Andile Phehlukwayo (13), Chris Morris (0), Dane Paterson (1) and Junior Dala (2 not out) failed to rise to the occasion and only managed to score 175/9 in 20 overs. Earlier, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan once again unleashed mayhem in South Africa, with his 72 powering India to 203 for five wickets.

The Delhi left-hander, who hit 323 runs in the six One-Day Internationals (ODIs), blasted 10 fours and two sixes in his 39-ball innings as others batted around him. After home captain Jean-Paul Duminy put India into bat, India’s innings was lifted by a brisk 21 off nine from Rohit Sharma, who got out in the fifth delivery of the second over after edging to wicket-keeper Heinrich Klassen off debutant Junior Dala.

Dhawan’s show began after this as he got useful support from Suresh Raina (15 off 7) and Virat Kohli (26 off 20). Till the dismissal of Kohli, who was ruled LBW against spinner Tabraiz Shamsi in the third delivery of the 10th over, India had already scored 108. Dhawan made the most of the ill-disciplined bowling from Chris Morris, Dala and Andile Phehlukwayo, who were allowing the 32-year-old to free his arms on the leg side.

A failed scoop attempt of a slower delivery from Phehlukwayo ended Dhawan’s innings as Klassen dived front to removed the danger. Later, Manish Pandey (29 not out off 27), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (16) and Hardik Pandya (13 not out) took India past the 200-run mark.




Mehdi Hasan, Hyderabadi spinner picked by “Sunrisers Hyderabad” IPL 2018


Hyderabad: Another Hyderabadi cricketer finds a place in the list of IPL players. “Sunrisers Hyderabad” picked Mehdi Hasan, a Hyderabadi spinner.
After picking, Sunrisers Hyderabad tweeted, ” Mehdi Hasan joins the #OrangeArmy squad for the #IPL2018. A left-arm spinner from Hyderabad. Bid Price: Rs. 20 Lacs. Welcome, miyan”

It also tweeted, “Another Hyderabadi on the rise. Let’s welcome our new left-arm spinner Mehdi Hasan to the #OrangeArmy. We look forward to some great cricket. ”

It may be mentioned that another Hyderabadi cricketer, Mohammed Siraj was picked by “Royal Challengers Bangalore”. His base price was Rs. 1 crore and he bagged Rs. 2.6 crore.

 




Australian Open 2018: Angelique Kerber beats Madison Keys to reach semifinals


Melbourne: Former champion Angelique Kerber signalled her intent to wrest back the Australian Open title as she brutally crushed US Open finalist Madison Keys today to reach the semi-finals. The 2016 winner, seeded 21, brushed aside the American17th seed 6-1, 6-2, breaking her much-vaunted serve at will as she triumphed in 51 one-sided minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

“It’s always tough to play against Madison,” said Kerber, who also won the US Open in 2016. “She is hitting the ball so hard and I was just trying from the beginning, like I played the whole week, just to playmy game. “I love playing in Australia and on Rod Laver Arena. Ihave so many good memories here.” The match was billed as a classic contrast of styles, thebig-serving power game of Keys versus the scurrying, chase-everything-down, all-action approach of Kerber. For Keys so much depends on the serve, which is aformidable weapon.

When on song it sets up the American’s power game as inher last-16 match when she blew away Caroline Garcia with 32winners on the back of nine aces. But on Wednesday Kerber negated it from the off, winning57 percent of points on Keys’ first serve. And, without a plan B, Keys was broken four times in anerror-riddled five games as the German raced to the first set6-1 in 22 minutes and went 3-1 up in the second. “I was not thinking a lot about winners or errors, I wasstaying in the moment and tried to play every single point, “Kerber said.


“I’m just happy to get through and be here in the semis.” Keys, who reached the semi-finals at Melbourne in 2015 ,momentarily held back the tide with a break to love to getback to 3-2. But the German juggernaut rolled on with a break back anda dominant hold, sealed with a tremendous overhead from nearthe baseline, to give Kerber a 5-2 advantage. Keys, serving to stay in the tournament, opened with twodouble faults and moments later Kerber was back in the semi-finals where she will face either top seed Simona Halep orsixth seed Karolina Pliskova.




Will India break the Jinx?


Beleaguered visitors eye consolatory win, avoid whitewash

Johannesburg : Faced with the prospect of a humiliating whitewash, a desperate India would be aiming to make the right selections against an unrelenting South Africa in the third and final Test, starting here.

The hosts have already sealed the series win, after winning the first Test in Cape Town by 72 runs and the second Test in Centurion by 135 runs. This was the first overseas Test series loss for India under Virat Kohli (discounting the 2014 loss in Australia as MS Dhoni was full-time captain back then). The tour has also also ended India’s streak of nine consecutive series’ wins since 2015.


The side, however, will not lose its no.1 Test ranking despite even if the rubber ends 0-3. As if responding to the severe criticism of selections so far, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is set to return to the side, after mysteriously sitting out the previous Test. Jasprit Bumrah, a surprise selection in both the previous Tests, is expected to be left out. While all five pacers bowled in the nets on Monday, a more certain hint emanated from the fact that four of them-Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami — batted in pairs.

The Indian skipper is expected to make at least one more change though. Since Sunday, when the team regrouped after a three-day mid-tour break, Ajinkya Rahane has batted the longest in nets. He has had four long practice stints over the past two days and is assured of a starting spot after Rohit Sharma scored 78 runs in four innings at Cape Town and Centurion. Despite Rahane’s anticipated comeback, however, it isn’t assured that Rohit will make way. India could yet go in with six batsmen and an all-pace attack at the Wanderers. They were certainly mulling this strategy 48 hours before the Centurion Test, so it only seems logical that this is again an option on a green pitch with ample pace and bounce.

Overall, the scenery has changed quite drastically for Kohli. Six months ago, he had led the side to an emphatic 3-0 victory in Sri Lanka, a feat never achieved by an Indian team. Now, he stands on the brink of another 3-0 score-line, fortunes reversed, as no Indian team has previously been whitewashed on the South African soil. Since 1992, India have visited six times and their worst defeat was by a 2-0 margin in a three-Test series in 1996-97 under the captaincy of Sachin Tendulkar.

Since 2006, in their last three visits to South Africa, India have managed to win or draw at least one Test and thus will be leaning on that historical fact to attain something of note in this series. In this endeavour, their record at the Wanderers Stadium should help. India have played four Tests at this ground — November 1992, January 97, December 2006 and 2013 — and are yet to lose a single game. In fact, they have one win here under Rahul Dravid in 2006, thanks largely to S. Sreesanth’s match-haul of 8 for 99.

More than 11 years later, India will be relying on a similar green, quick and bouncy pitch to do the damage as will be the case for this third Test. Pitch curator Bethuel Buthelezi had on Sunday said that no more grass would be shaved off the wicket. Until 24 hours to go for the first ball then, he had stuck to his word with a fine green carpet ready to welcome both the teams. While the ‘sub-continental wicket’ at Centurion was seen as India’s best chance to draw level in this series, the green track here is also a fair opportunity for the visitors. Kohli has never played the same eleven in 34 consecutive Tests now (dating back to Adelaide 2014) and this run is set to continue with the management intent on getting their team selection right on the money. On Monday, R Ashwin didn’t bat in the nets at all while the fit-again Ravindra Jadeja had a long stint. If India do play a lone spinner, the latter can be expected to make it.

Playing six batsmen and no spinner could also allow Kohli to field Hardik Pandya in an all-seam attack. Despite his lackadaisical run-out and shot-selection at Centurion, the all-rounder is still very much a vital cog in the plans. Meanwhile, Parthiv Patel — despite his ordinary showing behind stumps in the previous Test — is set to retain his spot after long net stints with both bat and gloves.

South Africa do not have any major selection headaches as opener Aiden Markram, who sustained a mild thigh strain during the second Test, is expected to be fit for this match. But they do have another four-Test series against Australia coming up and in that light, they might look to test their bench strength. Batsman Temba Bavuma has been ruled out of this match owing to a fractured finger, but all-rounders Chris Morris and Theunis de Bruyn provide adequate cover.

After sealing the series in Centurion, Faf du Plessis had pointed out that he wouldn’t like to take the ‘foot off the gas pedal’ as the Proteas push towards the no.1 Test ranking. Hence, it would be no surprise if they retain the five-bowler strategy, albeit with Chris Morris coming in for spinner Keshav Maharaj on account of the grassy and bouncy wicket that has been prepared on the home team’s specific request.

India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Parthiv Patel.

S Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Deal Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyne, Quinton de Kock (wk), Keshav Maharaj, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier.

Start at: 1.30 pm IST.




India Women vs South Africa Women‎ 2018: Going early on tour helps, says Mithali Raj


Mumbai: The Indian Women‘s team is going to South Africa early, and skipper Mithali Raj today said it would help the side to get used to the conditions there.

The women’s squad will tour South Africa for a three-match ODI series, which starts at Kimberly on February 5, followed by a five-match T20 series beginning on February 13 at Potchefstroom. The team will fly tomorrow. Asked whether going early to South Africa will help, Mithali said here, “We had (also) gone early for the World Cup in England (last year) to get acclimatised.

“It helps (because) we try and organise practise games…get used to the bounce, because normally you don’t get to see that bounce in subcontinental wickets and the lateral movement which we are probably expecting, because this time we are playing with two new balls,” she told reporters.


“This is our first international tournament where we will be playing with two new balls. So it is important, we are going early so that we get used to these conditions,” the 35-year-old batswoman added.

Coach Tushar Arothe echoed her views.

“We need to get acclimatised, that is very important, and are playing a couple of practise games before the first ODI. We went to the World Cup 10 days early….which helped us,” Arothe said.

Incidentally, Indian men’s team, currently on South Africa tour, has come in for criticism after losing the Testseries for not having enough practise in those conditions. Mithali concedes that the coming tour won’t be easy.

“I would tell the young girls to start fresh, it is an important tour and it is not going to be easy, because we have played South Africa before, we have toured South Africa for the quadrangular series.

“The South Africa team is a very good side and we have seen in the World Cup, they almost made it to the finals, so it’s going to be competitive cricket and it will test each and every player,” she said.

The Indian women’s team rose to fame after ending as runners-up in the World Cup, but they have not played after that. However, Mithali said the break helped them focus on fitness.

“See, before the World Cup, we have been busy with the qualifiers and the Quad-triangular series and the preparation for the World Cup, so its been a long season for us.

“And after the World Cup, it was important for girls to recover, we had few injuries, ideally we as players would have preferred to have a continuation…but when you have injuries in the side, you need to recover and get back your fitness levels,” she said.

She also said the girls were in match mode, as they have played enough domestic cricket, and also worked hard on fitness. “…they look agile and fit,” she added.




Vijender trumps – Retains WBO Oriental & Asia Pacific pro boxing titles


Jaipur : Vijender Singh belatedly went into the offensive to defend his WBO Oriental and Asia Pacific Super middleweight titles with an unanimous verdict over African champion Ernest Amuzu here Saturday night, continuing his unbeaten run in the pro circuit.

With this victory, Vijender has now won 10 pro bouts on the trot.

The 32-year-old Olympic bronze medallist has so far enjoyed a great run in the professional career, winning all his nine fights, and tonight was no different at a jam-packed Sawai Mansingh Stadium as he emerged as the king of ‘Rumble Rajasthan’.


It was very cautious first round from both, and barring a few jabs here and there, both tried to read each other’s styles.

Vijender seemed to have found his bearing only when the sixth round started.

He landed some real hard punches on Amuzu’s rib- cage to take control of the bout. Amuzu returned the favour with a few of his own, but the West African Boxing Union Middleweight champion could not sustain the tempo against his determined Indian opponent.

A confident Vijender then turned up with renewed vigour to unleash a flurry of punches on Amuzu.

Two powerful jabs on Amuzu’s jawline must have hurt the African, but he retaliated with a hook aiming at Vijender’s head.

It was easy picking for Vijender thereafter as the Amuzu committed technical blunders by rushing to the corners.

With Vijender having the upper hand, a tired Amuzu tried to stage a fightback but the Indian was up to the task, even as the duo exchanged a few punches.

Vijender played a percentage game during the final round when he had already suffered a muscle pull and didn’t attack a lot.

Prior to this bout, Amuzu had 23 wins under his belt including 21 knockouts out of 25 fights.

In other under-card bouts of the day, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Amandeep Singh defeated Punjab’s Manoj Kumar.

Kuldeep Dhanda beat Fateh Singh, Pradeep Kharera got the better of Nikhil Sharma, while Dharmender Grewal beat Harsh Nagar.




India vs Sri Lanka Visakhapatnam ODI: Statistics highlights of the third match


Visakhapatnam: Statistical highlights of the third and final cricket one-dayer between India and Sri Lanka here. India’s winning streak of eight successive bilateral series is a new record for them. After losing 4-1 to Australia in Australia at the start of the last year, India have won each of the eight bilateral series they have played.

The world record is 14 consecutive bilateral series victories by West Indies between 1980 and 1988. Out of ten bilateral series against Sri Lanka in India since 1982, India have won nine — the remaining one ended in a draw. India have played 51 ODIs vs Sri Lanka in India, winning 36 and losing 12 while the remaining three could not produce results — win/loss ratio 3.000. India have won 21 out of 29 ODIs contested (lost 7 and NR 1). India’s win/loss ratio of 3.000 is their all-time best in a calendar year. India’s run-rate of 5.93 is their best ever in a calendar year in ODIs, eclipsing the 5.88 recorded in 2009.

Sri Lanka have fared poorly this year in ODIs – just 5wins out of 29 matches contested (lost 23 and NR 1). The win/loss ratio of 0.217 is the worst recorded by any team this year. Dhawan’s unbeaten 100 off 85 balls is his 12th century in ODIs. Dhawan has recorded four hundreds vs Sri Lanka – the most registered by him against a team. In wins, Dhawan is averaging 53.75 – his tally being2903, including ten centuries and 17 fifties, in 58 matches. # Dhawan race to 4,000 runs in just 95 innings.


Just five players have taken fewer innings for this milestone -South Africa’s Hashim Amla (81), West Indian Vivian Richards(88), England’s Joe Root (91), India’s Virat Kohli (93) and Australia’s David Warner (93).  Dhawan’s feat of reaching 12 centuries in 95 innings is the fifth quickest in ODIs – the top four being Quinton de Kock (74 innings), Hashim Amla (81), Virat Kohli (83) and David Warner (90). For the third time, Dhawan was adjudged the Player of the Series in ODIs. Kuldeep Yadav (3/42) has recorded his second best figures in ODIs behind the 3 for 41 vs West Indies at North Sound on June 30, 2017.

He was deservingly named the Man of the Match for the first time in ODIs. Danushka Gunathilaka has made just 30 runs at a poor average of 10.00 – the least average recorded by him in an ODIseries. His scores were 1 at Dharamsala, 16 at Mohali & 13 at Visakhapatnam. His previous worst performance in a series of three matches was against Bangladesh in Sri Lanka in 2016-17 -43 runs in three innings at an average of 14.33.  Upul Tharanga (95) has posted his sixth fifty vs India- his 36th in ODIs. Tharanga has totalled 1011 runs (ave.48.14) in 25 matches this year, including two hundreds and six fifties.

He became the first Sri Lankan and the third batsman to aggregate1,000 or more in a calendar year – the first two being Virat Kohli (1460) and Rohit Sharma (1293). # Sadeera Samarawickrama (42), playing in his third innings, has posted his highest score in ODIs.  In his first two innings in this format vs Pakistan at Sharjah in October 2017, he had recorded ducks. Gunathilaka and Tharanga shared a 121-run partnership -Sri Lanka’s fifth century stand for the second wicket vs India in India in ODIs. Shreyas Iyer (65) has recorded his second fifty in ODIs- the first being 88 at Mohali on December 13, 2017.




Brazilian football star Kaka announces retirement


Brasilia: Former AC Milan, Real Madrid, Brazil midfielder Kaka has announced his retirement from football. The 35-year-old footballer posted a prayer on Twitter on Friday to announce his decision to hang up his boots, writing that he is “ready for the next journey”.

“Father, It was much more than I could ever imagined. Thank you! I’m now ready for the next journey. In Jesus name. Amen,” he tweeted. The 2007 Ballon d’Or winner confirmed that he would not renew his contract at MLS side Orlando City in October.

However, Kaka also indicated he could continue his post-playing career in football. The local media quoted Kaka as saying, “I am preparing to continue in football and to have a different role, but I will no longer be a professional player, an athlete”. “I would like to take part in a club in a role more like… a manager, a sporting director – someone between the field and the club”, he added. Kaka made his professional club debut at the age of 18 at São Paulo FC in Brazil in 2001.




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