Melbourne [Australia], February 5 (ANI): Alexander Zverev bounced back after a tough singles defeat to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Friday to send Germany into the ATP Cup semi-finals for the first time.
The World No. 7 partnered Jan-Lennard Struff to victory in the deciding doubles rubber against Djokovic and Nikola Cacic 7-6(4), 5-7, 10-7.
Struff was Germany’s hero, having earlier won the No. 2 singles against Dusan Lajovic, before teaming with Zverev to seal the tie for Germany 2-1, knocking out the defending champion.
Germany advances to face Russia, the Group D winner, in Saturday’s semi-finals, with the final to be played Sunday. Team Russia is led by the double threat of Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, who are both ranked inside the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
“Obviously, [Russia is a] great team. Daniil Medvedev [is in] great shape. Rublev [is in] very good shape. But we too are also in good shape, so [it is] going to be [a] very interesting, intense tie and I hope we can beat them,” said Germany captain Mischa Zverev in a statement.
In dramatic doubles, the Germans won six straight points from 2/4 down in the Match Tie-break, freezing out Djokovic at every opportunity and directing as much traffic as possible to the more inexperienced Cacic.
In last year’s ATP Cup final, Djokovic backed up from his singles win over Rafael Nadal to partner Viktor Troicki in the deciding doubles, which earned Serbia the inaugural title.
“I think we played maybe a little bit more aggressive [in the doubles]. In the end, we maybe took a few more shots, but it was so tight it could have gone both ways,” said Alexander Zverev.
“At the end of the day, when you win the doubles decider 10-7 in the third set there’s not much between the two. We’re just super happy right now,” he added.
In the No.1 singles match, Djokovic extended his record at the ATP Cup to 11 straight victories after winning a three-set thriller against Zverev 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-5 to keep defending Serbia alive in the tie.
“I thought we both played well,” Djokovic said on court. “He definitely had a big serving match. It was so difficult to play against him today. Missiles from the other side of the court, both first and second serve. He was going for it, not too many double faults. You’ve got to give him credit for being courageous and trying his best… Overall it was a very enjoyable match.”
There was little to separate Zverev and Djokovic throughout a tense opening set under the roof in Rod Laver Arena. There were no break-points on offer as both players leaned on big first serves to take control of the rallies. Zverev pulled away in the tiebreak and closed out the set with an ace.
The Serbian adjusted his return position to deal with Zverev’s powerful second serves, the German gambling with first-serve levels of speed and power.
Djokovic took a step back and was rewarded with his first break of the match. He reeled off three games in a row to take a 5-2 lead with a perfectly placed lob landing plumb on the line.
Djokovic broke through late in the third set to take a 5-4 lead, but struggled to close it out the as the German saved a match point.
With his back against the wall, Zverev finally earned his first break chance of the match in the third, breaking the World No. 1 to level the score. But two double faults in the next game undid his effort, and gave Djokovic the opening to break back and claim his 11th consecutive ATP Cup victory.
“Staying on the line with 220, 217 [kph] second serves, it’s a huge risk,” Djokovic said of his second-set adjustments. “I tried to read his serve. [In the] second set I started to read his patterns a little bit better.
“The third set was a gamble, really. It was anybody’s game. He double-faulted on a break-point, it was a crucial game. I was 15/30 down, I went for it also, a big second serve. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t.”
Struff, who also represented Germany in 2020, won his third consecutive ATP Cup match with an upset over former World No. 3 Milos Raonic to give his country a winning start, and backed it up against Lajovic that came out swinging in the opening set.
The Serbian outlasted him at the baseline to claim the first break of the match at 4-2. He exploited the German’s movement as he continually dragged Struff out wide and followed up with down-the-line winners to closeout the opening set.
But Struff raised his level in the second set and saved four break points across two service games to keep Lajovic at bay. The German finally broke through at 5-3, and levelled the score after serving out the set to love. Lajovic looked to be struggling physically and needed a medical time out to treat blisters on his feet after dropping the second set.
Struff kept Lajovic on the defence and under pressure with his big serve, and he edged in front after trading breaks of serve for a 5-4 lead. Lajovic couldn’t convert on two more break-points as Struff claimed the victory after just over two hours on court.
“[I feel] very, very relieved. It was a tough match. I didn’t start very well. Dusan was playing pretty good. He had break points [at the] beginning of the second set. I managed to stay in the match,” said Struff
“I managed to gain some more self-confidence there in my strokes… In the third set, I had the feeling I had very good energy from the beginning on. Yeah, very, very happy about this [victory],” he added. (ANI)
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WILL STAY LIVERPOOL MANAGER AS LONG AS PEOPLE LET ME DO THAT: KLOPP
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp would not be walking away from the club despite his reservations over its involvement in the controversial European Super League.
A group of 12 European clubs on Monday confirmed their plans to launch a new European Super League. Among these 12, six belong to the Premier League. Liverpool, who played out a 1-1 draw in the Premier League against Leeds United on Monday were subjected to boos by the fans ahead of this particular fixture.
“I don’t feel that. I am 20 years in football, and a lot of times owners made decisions without asking me, and I deal with it. I don’t want to be involved in these things, I don’t understand them. I’m a football person. It’s not about letting me down. I’m here as a football coach and manager, and I will do that as long as people let me do that. I heard today that I will resign or whatever,” Goal.com quoted Klopp as saying.
“If times get even tougher, that makes me even more sticky that I will stay here. I feel responsible for the team, responsible for the club, and for the relationship we have with our fans. It’s a very tough time, but I will try to help to sort it somehow,” he added. Klopp said: “I am at the club six years, around about. I know our owners, they are serious people, reasonable people. They care about us. But they never had to explain these kinds of decisions to me or ask me for permission. That’s the situation. I speak a lot to them, but I was not involved at all in the process. I got the information yesterday.”
With ANI inputs
Babar Azam eyes fastest to 2,000 T20I runs record
Pakistan captain Babar Azam will aim to become the fastest to score 2,000 T20I runs when his side takes on Zimbabwe in the three-match T20I series commencing from Wednesday at the Harare Sports Club.
Babar needs 60 more runs to break Virat Kohli’s record of fastest to 2,000 T20I runs, which the Indian captain achieved in 56 innings.Babar who has scored 1,940 runs at 48.50 in 49 innings, will be eyeing to achieve the feat in the first T20I against Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
The right-handed Lahore-born batsman is in sublime form these days, as he struck his maiden T20I hundred in Pakistan’s nine-wicket win over South Africa in the third T20I at SuperSport Park on April 14. He was also awarded the player-of-the-series award for his 210 runs at 52.50 in the four-match series.
Babar’s captaincy has been on a constant improvement since last year’s series against Bangladesh. Pakistan has won four T20I series (Bangladesh 2-0, Zimbabwe 3-0, and South Africa 2-1 at home and 3-1 away against South Africa) besides the 1-1 series draw against England and they are yet to lose a single T20I series.
On the ICC T20I rankings, Pakistan has gained two points after the series win against South Africa and has consolidated their fourth position with 262 points.
ARCHER DEEPIKA KUMARI LEARNING MIND CONTROL TO BREAK OLYMPIC JINX
India’s top woman archer Deepika Kumari is busy working on the mental side of her game in her effort to break the country’s medal jinx in the sport at the Olympics.
Deepika has won the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold at the age of 15, and has finished on the podium five times in seven appearances at the Archery World Cup Final, besides collecting several other international medals, but she faltered at the Olympics.
“The upcoming Olympics will be different for me. I’m learning how to control my thoughts. At the same time, I’m performing better,” she told World Archery ahead of the first stage of the World Cup in Guatemala City.
“Archery is all about your mind and thoughts. We have to know how to handle pressure. How to control the brain. My mind control, my thought control. That’s the key in archery and sports,” Deepika said.
In her first appearance at London 2012, Deepika exited in the first round of both individual and team events. Four years later at Rio, Deepika made a last-16 exit in the individual section, and lost to Russia in the team quarter-finals.
This time Deepika will be the lone entry from India at the Tokyo Olympics if the archers fail to grab the team quota at the World Cup Stage 3 in Paris.
The tournament, however, will not feature defending champions Korea. Traditionally dominant in the women events at the Olympics, Korea has confirmed that it would not participate in the Archery World Cups in 2021.
“If they participated, there would be a little more competition, but it doesn’t matter for me. It’s their decision if they want to play or don’t want to play… I want to play,” Deepika said.
CHENNAI AIM TO KEEP WINNING MOMENTUM AGAINST KOLKATA
Hyderabad gearing up to record their first win in this season against Punjab.
NEW DELHI: Chennai Super Kings (CSK), on a high after vanquishing Rajasthan Royals in the last match, would look to extend its winning streak when it takes on Kolkata Knight Riders in Mumbai on Wednesday. CSK had a bad start to the season, losing to Delhi Capitals by seven wickets in a one-sided affair. But since then, CSK has come on its own, with M.S. Dhoni making the most of his resources.
While Deepak Chahar helped CSK win against Punjab Kings, Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja’s spin web decimated the Royals. Sam Curran too is in good form, making impact both with the bat and ball. Be it his 15-ball 34 against in a losing cause to Delhi Capitals, or his bowling in the Powerplay, Curran is giving Dhoni many options. CSK will start as overwhelming favourites against KKR, which after its emphatic start against Sunrisers Hyderabad, has slipped to the fifth spot with defeats to Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
And in both the defeats, the Morgan-led team had the upper hands but could not capitalise on their starts. Head coach Brendon McCullum has already hinted at making some changes after KKR’s 38-run defeat to RCB.
As for CSK, opener Ruturaj Gaikwad is in a terrible form with scores and it remains to be seen whether he is given a longer rope by Dhoni.
In the second match Sunrisers Hyderabad, battered after suffering three successive defeats, will take on Punjab Kings, which is a tad better than SRH with win out of three games. Chasing has been a problem for Sunrisers. They have been hit hard by the lack of depth in their playing XI and below-par Indian bench strength. Warner and Rashid Khan are certainties in the foreign players’ slots, but the absence of Kane Williamson has been badly felt. Going by Wridhhiman Saha’s poor form, Jonny Bairstow is the frontrunner for the wicket-keeper’s position. SRH have been hit hard by the poor show of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T. Natarajan. Rashid has been economical but didn’t look menacing so far.
TEAM ANALYSISPUNJAB KINGS VS SUNRISERS HYDERABAD Punjab Kings (1 win & 2 losses)
• Top 4 batsmen—K.L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle & Deepak Hooda
• Shahrukh is a good middle order batsman
• Arshdeep Singh seems to be a good strike bowler
• Bowlers are not performing up to their potential
• Batting collapse against CSKSUNRISERS HYDERABAD (All three lost)
• Good opening pair of David Warner & Jonny Bairstow
• Good bowling unit of Rashid, Mujeeb and Khaleel
• Main strike bowler Bhuvneshwar was expensive in the last match
• Middle and lower-middle batsmen are not doing well
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS VS CHENNAI SUPER KINGSKKR (1 win, 2 losses)Strength
• Nitish Rana is in good touch
• Harbhajan Singh is good in power-play
• Players are not able to turn a good start into a big score
• Bowling is in-consistentCSK (2 wins & 1 lose)
• Moeen Ali and Sam Curran are in good form
• Ravindra Jadeja is in good touch
• Raina & Rayudu were good in the middle overs
• Deep batting order
• Dhoni is out of touch so far
• Flop show of opener Ruturaj Gaikwad
• No genuine pacer
FIFA CHIEF ‘STRONGLY DISAPPROVES’ CREATION OF EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE
MONTREUX: FIFA president Gianni Infantino “strongly disapproved” the formation of the European Super League and has alerted the 12 teams to be ready for “consequences”.
His comments come after a group of 12 European clubs on Monday confirmed their plans to launch a new European Super League. Among these 12, six belong to the Premier League—Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Chelsea.
“At FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove the creation of a Super League which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA,” goal.com quoted Infantino as saying at the UEFA Congress.
Infantino said the game of football might lose a lot in a bid for “short-term financial gain” for some people. “There is a lot to throw away for maybe a short-term financial gain of some. People need to think very carefully. They need to reflect and they need to assume responsibility,” said the FIFA president. “If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choice. They are responsible for their choice. Concretely, this means either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in or half out,” he added.
The European Super League has been met with severe backlash ever since reports started doing rounds in the media. Despite this, the 12 clubs have given confirmation. On Monday, FIFA had expressed its disapproval for the proposed league. “FIFA stands firm in favour of solidarity in football and an equitable redistribution model which can help develop football as a sport, particularly at global level, since the development of global football is the primary mission of FIFA,” FIFA had said in an official statement.
Mishra, Dhawan help Delhi beat Mumbai in low-scoring match
Amit Mishra picked four wickets as SC restricted MI to 137/9 and then chased down the target with five balls to spare.
Delhi Capitals recorded a six-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in a low-scoring Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday evening wherein leg-spinner Amit Mishra spun a web before Shikhar Dhawan and Steve Smith played significant.
Mishra picked four wickets as Delhi Capitals first restricted Mumbai Indians to 137/9 and then chased down the target with five balls to spare. Delhi needed 15 runs in the last two overs and Shimron Hetmyer and Lalit Yadav ensured the side didn’t falter towards the end. Moreover, Jasprit Bumrah’s two no-balls in the penultimate over made the job easier for the batsmen.
Chasing 138, Delhi had suffered an early jolt as Jayant Yadav dismissed Prithvi Shaw in the second over. Dhawan (45) and Smith (33) stitched a 53-run stand for the second wicket but at a sluggish rate.
Pollard ended the partnership in the 10th over to reduce Delhi Capitals to 64/2. However, Dhawan continued scoring at a brisk rate and built a 36-run stand with Lalit the winning team scored 100 before the completion of the 15th over.
Rahul Chahar removed Dhawan to ignite a glimmer of hope with Delhi needing 38 runs in the last five overs. But the Capitals got over the line and registered their third win of the ongoing IPL.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav launched a counter-attack and steered Mumbai Indians to 55/1 at the end of the powerplay after Quinton de Kock departed in the third over.
Rohit and Suryakumar slowly found their rhythm but Avesh Khan triggered a middle-order collapse by removing ‘SKY’ in the seventh over.
After Suryakumar’s dismissal, Mishra removed Rohit, Hardik, and Pollard. Lalit too joined the party as he dismissed Krunal Pandya. Mumbai Indians lost five wickets in less than five overs.
Ishan Kishan and Jayant Yadav revived the Mumbai Indians innings but Mishra again struck removing the wicket-keeper batsman as the Rohit-led side posted a 138-run target.Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 137/9 (Rohit Sharma 44, Ishan Kishan 26; Amit Mishra 4-26); Delhi Capitals 138/4 (Shikhar Dhawan 45, Steven Smith 33; Kieron Pollard 1-9)
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