Alexander Zverev beats Borna Coric, Pablo Carreno Busta outlasts Kevin Anderson in Miami

alexander zverev

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev overcame a slow start on Thursday to wear down Borna Coric 6-4 6-4 and set up a Miami Open semi-final against Pablo Carreno Busta, who earlier defeated Kevin Anderson.

After a power failure delayed the start of the match by more than an hour, Zverev faced two break points in the second game but then settled down and took command.

One break in each set was enough for the German to clinch his first win in three career attempts against the Croat.

Zverev advances to a Friday semi-final against Spanish 16th seed Carreno Busta, who survived a match point to upset South African sixth seed Anderson 6-4 5-7 7-6(6).

The other semi-final pits Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro against American 14th seed John Isner.
Zverev did not use the power failure as an excuse for his slow start.

“I didn’t particularly care,” he said, adding that he spent the time watching an NBA game on a locker room television.
“I think I lost the first six points of the match. It wasn’t the best start. I’m just happy to get through.”

For Carreno Busta, who arrived on court in fine form having dropped only 12 games over his previous tee matches, the win was his first in five meetings against Anderson and avenged his fourth-round Indian Wells loss to the world number eight.
“It was an amazing match, no?” Carreno Busta said.

“He played some unbelievable points, passing shots.

“I lost to him, 7-6 in the third set (at Indian Wells). And today, well, at the beginning of the match I started playing really good, returning good, serving good, being very aggressive.”

Anderson saved a pair of match points in the second set and shifted momentum in his favour but Carreno Busta, seeded 16th at Crandon Park, regrouped in the decider where the two players stayed on serve until the tiebreak.

Carreno Busta was staring at defeat when 6-5 down in the tiebreak but was let off the hook when Anderson missed with a forehand.

From there the South African pushed a backhand volley wide and then mishit a second serve that handed the win to Carreno Busta after two hours, 42 minutes.

Anderson, whose year already includes an ATP Tour title at the New York Open and runner-up finishes in Acapulco and Pune, has now lost all 10 of his quarter-final matches at the Masters 1000 level – the highest-tiered tournaments after the four grand slams.

Sloane Stephens to meet Jelena Ostapenko in Miami Open final

sloane stephens

The Miami Open women’s final will pit two reigning grand slam champions after Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko won their respective semi-finals in Florida on Thursday.

U.S. Open champion Stephens again ended former world number one Victoria Azarenka’s hopes of a fairytale comeback by beating her 3-6 6-2 6-1 in an afternoon encounter.

French Open champion Ostapenko beat unseeded American Danielle Collins in the nightcap, staving off a set point en route to a 7-6(1) 6-3 triumph.

American 13th seed Stephens has five career titles, while sixth seed Ostapenko has two heading into Saturday’s final.

“I’m feeling amazing now,” said Latvian Ostapenko, who wore down Collins with a series of powerful groundstrokes.

She hit 33 winners and ended the match in style with a running forehand winner down the line.

“I was fine until the end,” Ostapenko said. “I was just trying to play my game and I’m really happy with the way I finished.”

She said she had been working this year on her mental approach.

“Now I’m trying to be calm and I think it’s helping.”

Three-times champion Azarenka, playing as a wildcard in her second event after an eight-month absence because of a custody dispute involving her son, showed glimpses of the form that took her to the top of the rankings but ultimately ran out of gas against her 13th-seeded opponent.

Stephens, who also beat Azarenka in the second round at Indian Wells this month, took control of the match early in the second set and never looked back as she raced through the decider with ease.

“I just knew I had to keep fighting. In the first set I was down but I battled back so I knew if I did that in the second, I’d be right in there,” the 25-year-old American said in an on-court interview.

“I ended up winning a lot of games in a row and I just tried to keep the momentum going.”

Azarenka’s initial comeback after the birth of her child in December, 2016 was short-lived as she played two tournaments before a custody battle with her son’s father prevented her from travelling with her child.

The Belarusian may have played little competitive tennis in recent years but she enjoyed a respectable run in Miami, including victory over Czech world number six Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals.

No ‘exotic tea’ or shisha: Russian Football Union’s guide on doping

 

http://images.indianexpress.com/2018/03/fifa-world-cup-759.jpgThe Russian Football Union is warning players against drinking “exotic tea” or smoking shisha pipes as it tries to avoid any doping cases ahead of its home World Cup.

In a guide to help players not to fail drug tests by accident, the RFU said on Friday players should be wary of accidentally consuming banned substances.

It recommends players always read the label on exercise supplements and check online whether they’re contaminated with banned products.

The RFU also advised players “not to consume exotic tea,” to avoid smoking shisha, and to be wary of possibly contaminated meat from China or South America, adding: “Be aware. Your career depends on it!”

It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the tea warning. A 2012 study suggested green tea could make testosterone appear lower on drug tests, though that wouldn’t constitute an offense.

As for shisha, an Algerian player was banned after a 2015 positive test for cocaine he said he accidentally consumed via a friend’s pipe.

The Russian guide comes as FIFA investigates allegations that positive drug tests in Russian football in previous years were covered up. Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said last month FIFA is investigating current Russia international Ruslan Kambolov.

Mutko said the case was “not linked to the national team.”

There is also a FIFA investigation into Ivan Knyazev, a former defender with the Russia Under-21 team, Mutko told the Tass state news agency at the time. Both players “have given evidence and we’ll see where it goes,” Mutko said.

Russia has been rocked by multiple doping tests across many sports in recent years, and of a state-sponsored cover-up. The government denies ever supporting drug cheats.

Cut Dele Alli some slack, says Mauricio Pochettino

dele alli

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino says people should remember that midfielder Dele Alli is only 21-years-old and that while he has failed to reach the heights of last season he has a bright future ahead for club and country.

Alli has scored only six times in 29 Premier League appearances for Spurs this campaign and his place in England’s World Cup team is far from certain after playing 22 minutes of two friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy this month.

He scored 18 league goals last season.

But Pochettino said Alli, who was nursing a slight groin problem during the international window, would get all the support he needed to achieve his goals.

“I have full confidence in him and his talent and because I know him – he is a great kid and a very good person,” Pochettino told reporters.

“But he is young. He is 21. If you compare with normal people on the street who are 21, they are still living at home with their parents, they are still at university doing stupid things.

“We are going to help him because he is a talented player and a great kid. And he has done a lot for us and the club.”

Tottenham, currently fourth in the league, are hoping to extend their five-point advantage over fifth-placed Chelsea when the teams meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

IOC president Thomas Bach meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach met with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on Friday and said the North Korean leader is committed to having his country participate in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the Beijing Winter Games in 2022. Bach told an Associated Press Television crew that the two had a 30-minute formal meeting followed by 45 minutes of casual discussions while watching a football match Friday afternoon at Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium.

He called the talks productive and said Kim expressed his appreciation for the IOC’s role in helping North Korea compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea last month.

“We had a very fruitful meeting where it became clear that the supreme leader has a clear vision of the role that sport can play in a society with regard to education, with regard to health,” Bach said. He added that Kim told him the North’s participation in the Pyeongchang games and marching together with South Korean athletes were an “important contribution to a peaceful dialogue.”

Bach arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday to discuss development of sports in North Korea and the preparation of its athletes to qualify and participate in upcoming Olympics. He is the first foreign official to meet Kim since the North Korean leader returned earlier this week from a summit in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

That was Kim’s first known trip abroad since he assumed power after the death of his father in late 2011. Kim is to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27.

Bach, who also met with North Korea’s sports minister, said he received a commitment from the county’s National Olympic Committee to participate in Tokyo in 2020 and Beijing in 2022, along with competing in the respective youth Olympic Games.

“This commitment has been fully supported by the supreme leader Kim Jong Un in a meeting we had this afternoon,” he said. “He explained that sport is a pillar in his policy for the future development of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

Both the North and South hailed the Pyeongchang games as a significant step toward easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula that reached dangerously high levels last year as the North stepped up its missile tests and detonated its largest nuclear device to date.

Since the Olympics, the North has pushed forward with a flurry of diplomatic moves. After his summit with Moon, Kim is to meet U.S. President Donald Trump by May, though the date and location of that summit have not been announced. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he is exploring the possibility of a meeting with Kim as well.

The exact reasons behind Kim’s seeming change of tactics remain something of a mystery.

Hopes have been raised that the North Korean leader may be willing to discuss his nuclear weapons program and other measures to reduce the threat of war, possibly in exchange for security guarantees and an easing of the international sanctions that have severely pinched the already struggling North Korean economy.

Kim’s talks with Bach appear to have focused mostly on sports.

Raising the level of North Korean athletes has been high on Kim’s agenda since he became leader. Of the 22 North Korean athletes who competed in Pyeongchang, only two won places on merit and the other 20 were granted special spots by the IOC.

Bach, who is German, competed in the Olympics for West Germany when the Germanys were still divided and says that gives him a special feeling for the Koreas.

“It is the mission of the International Olympic Committee always to build bridges and by building these bridges through sport we can also make a contribution to the ongoing political talks,” he said, adding that he hopes the talks will lead “in the Olympic spirit to a peaceful future for the Korean Peninsula.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure a big loss for European football, says Jose Mourinho

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a short but succesfull stint at Manchester United, where he won the League Cup and the Europa League. (Source: AP

European soccer has lost a “huge player” in Zlatan Ibrahimovic but the striker will raise the level of the game in the U.S following his move to LA Galaxy, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said on Friday.

Ibrahimovic last week ended a short but successful stint at United – where he won the League Cup and the Europa League – to become the latest high-profile player to move to the MLS, following the likes of David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry and Frank Lampard.

Mourinho used his news conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against Swansea City to pay tribute to the talismanic Swedish forward who he previously coached at Inter Milan.

“For me it’s always sad when the big players move towards the end,” Mourinho told reporters.

“I remember Luis Figo’s last match with me and Inter, it was one of my saddest moments. The Zlatan goodbye was more in that direction, he’s a huge player that European Football has lost.

“But this period with LA Galaxy will be very good for him, he will be good for American football, because of what he can do; his personality, his passion and his professionalism.”

Ibrahimovic sustained a bad knee injury in United’s Europa League quarter-final against Belgian side Anderlecht last April but returned to make seven appearances for the Old Trafford side this season.

“His recovery was an example of what a professional should be,” Mourinho added. “For him (the move to U.S.) will just be a way to enjoy the last couple of years of football.”

United will be without back-up goalkeeper Sergio Romero for the weekend’s game, after the Argentine international picked up a knock in his country’s 6-1 friendly defeat by Spain.

Ashley Young was also injured on international duty with England but could play against Carlos Carvalhal’s 14th-placed side.

United are second in the table on 65 points from 30 games as they bid to finish as runners-up to champions-elect Manchester City.