Alexander Zverev, Struff seal Germany's spot in ATP Cup semi-finals - The Daily Guardian
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Alexander Zverev, Struff seal Germany’s spot in ATP Cup semi-finals

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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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Shafali, Yastika, Sneh shine as India end Australia’s unbeaten 26-match run in ODIs

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Yastika Bhatia and Shafali Verma played knocks of 64 and 56 respectively as India defeated Australia by two wickets in the third and final ODI here at the Harrup Park on Sunday.

With this defeat, Australia’s unbeaten 26-match run in ODI cricket came to an end. However, the hosts won the three-match ODI series by 2-1. Chasing 265, India got off to a steady start as opening batters Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma put on 59 runs for the opening wicket. However, the stand did not last long as Ashleigh Gardner dismissed Mandhana (22) in the 11th over. Yastika Bhatia next joined Shafali in the middle and the duo did not let the momentum drop for the visitors.

Yastika was the aggressor of the two, while Shafali played the second fiddle. Both batters brought up their respective half-centuries as India was poised well in their chase at 153/1 by the end of the 28th over. A 101-run stand for the second wicket came to an end in the 30th over as Sophie Molineux bowled Shafali (56).

Richa Ghosh (0) and Bhatia (64) fell shortly after and India was reduced to 180/4, still needing 85 runs to win from 96 balls. Mithali Raj (16) and Pooja Vastrakar (3) departed in quick succession, and the hopes of India’s victory rested on Deepti Sharma and Sneh Rana’s shoulders.

Deepti was sent back to the pavilion after playing a knock of 31 runs, but Sneh Rana kept India in the game. However, the right-hander was dismissed in the penultimate over after playing a knock of 30 runs and India needed 4 runs from the final over to register a win. Jhulan Goswami (8*) showed her experience to finally take the visitors over the line.

Earlier, Ashleigh Gardner and Beth Mooney played knocks of 67 and 52 respectively as Australia posted a total of 264/9. Opting to bat, opening batters Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy put on 41 runs for the opening wicket, but this stand was broken in the ninth over as Jhulan Goswami dismissed Haynes (13). Indian bowlers then managed to get on top of Australia as Meg Lanning (0), Healy (35), and Ellyse Perry (26) departed in a matter of few overs and the hosts were reduced to 87/4 in the 25th over.

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OUR BATSMEN PLAYED REALLY WELL ON A DIFFICULT WICKET AGAINST RR: DC PACER NORTJE

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The Delhi Capitals registered yet another victory in the IPL 2021 season after defeating the Rajasthan Royals by 33 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Shreyas Iyer played a fantastic knock of 43 runs off 32 balls to help the Delhi franchise post a total of 154/6 before each of the bowlers chipped in wickets to help their team reclaim their position at the top of the IPL table. Delhi Capitals’ fast bowler Anrich Nortje, who picked up figures of 2/18, expressed that the batsmen performed very well on a difficult wicket, “It was a good game for us. The guys batted really well to get us to 154/6 on a difficult wicket. Shreyas played his part and Hetmyer played well towards the end of the innings, which was really nice to see,” he said in a DC release.

The fast bowler added that the batsmen also gave good insights about the pitch to the bowlers before they went out to defend their total, “The batsmen gave us good feedback about the wicket. Shreyas said that it was not easy to hit straight. So we just looked to hit our lengths while bowling and things worked out for us.”

When asked about his thoughts on bowling with the current crop of Delhi Capitals bowlers, Nortje said, “It’s really nice to be part of the Delhi Capitals bowling attack. Everyone knows what they have to do and how to execute it. All bowlers, whether it’s Axar, Ashwin, Avesh or Rabada, everyone is clear about their roles. We’ve got two consecutive games in Sharjah next. So interesting times coming up for us.”

The Delhi Capitals will take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in their next match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah on Tuesday.

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JADEJA’S BLITZKRIEG TAKES CSK HOME AGAINST KKR IN A CLIFFHANGER

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Ravindra Jadeja single-handedly took the game away from Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their Indian Premier League encounter at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Sunday after he scored 22 runs off the 19th over as Prasidh Krishna looked on haplessly.

The two-wicket win sees Chennai Super Kings (CSK) return to the top of the table. Needing 26 off the last two, CSK took two singles of the first two balls off Prasidh’s over before Jadeja went berserk. He hit a six over the long leg, followed it with a straight six, then a square drive for a boundary and then one at third man. By the time the 19th over ended, CSK needed just 4 more runs to make it three consecutive wins.

While Narine did pick two wickets in the 20th over — Sam Curran and Jadeja — but it just wasn’t enough at the end of the day as Jadeja had already done the damage in the previous over. In the end, he finished with 22 off 8 balls.

For CSK, Faf du Plessis top-scored with 43 followed by Ruturaj Gaikwad 40 and Moeen Ali 32. Sunil Narine scalped three wickets while Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy and Andre Russell returned with one each.

Chasing the target of 172, Chennai Super Kings openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis provided a perfect start for the team as the duo put 74 run stand for the first wicket.

But then a breakthrough came for KKR when Russell scalped Ruturaj Gaikwad in 8.2 over. After Ruturaj’s departure, Moeen Ali smashed Ferguson and Russell in the 10th and 11th over. Ali and du Plessis were going great as the duo built 28 runs stand for the second wicket, but then CSK lost their second wicket in the form of du Plessis caught by Ferguson and bowled by Prasidh Krishna in 11.3 over at 44 off 30 with 7 fours.

With 2 wickets down CSK now needed 61 runs in 43 balls. However, Moeen Ali and Ambati Rayudu further shaped the innings for CSK as both played sensibly. But then CSK received another blow when Sunil Narine bowled Ambati Rayudu.

After Rayudu Suresh Raina came in and in the very first ball he smashed Narine for four. In 15th over 12 runs came for CSK. CSK lost its 4th wicket in form of Moeen Ali in the 17th over bowled by Ferguson at 32. In the very next over Suresh Raina was run out. Dhoni soon followed him in the same over.

With CSK needing 26 off the last two, Jadeja took matters into his own hands and helped his team across the victory line.

Earlier, Rahul Tripathi’s gutsy knock and Nitish Rana’s quickfire helped Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) post a total of 171/6 in their allotted 20 overs against Chennai Super Kings (CSK). For KKR Rahul Tripathi top-scored 45 while Nitish Rana scored 37. Shardul Thakur and Josh Hazlewood scalped two wickets each while Ravindra Jadeja returned with one wicket.

Chennai Super Kings got an early breakthrough after Kolkata Knight Riders opener Shubman Gill was run out by Ambati Rayudu in the very first over. Gill’s innings ended for 9 off 5 with 2 fours.

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IGOR STIMAC NAMES 23 PLAYERS FOR SAFF CHAMPIONSHIP

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Indian men’s football team head coach Igor Stimac has named a list of 23 players for the forthcoming SAFF Championship which kicks off in the Maldives from October 1 onwards. The final of the championship is slated for October 16.

The players and the support staff will assemble in Bengaluru tomorrow (Monday, September 27), and will fly out to the Maldives the next day. Stimac, and other members of the technical staff will join the squad directly in Maldives on the same day.

Besides India – Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and hosts Maldives are the other teams in the Championship. Each team will play each other once with the top two teams qualifying for the final.

Head Coach Igor Stimac stated: “We are all looking forward to the SAFF Championship as the leading football country in this part of Asia. These 4-5 games are extremely crucial for us as we won’t have any other chance of getting together before the start of 3rd round AFC Asian Cup qualifiers next season. So these matches should help us to improve a few points in our game.”

The Blue Tigers have won the SAFF Championship (formerly SAARC Cup) 7 times – 1993 in Lahore, 1997 in Kathmandu, 1999 in Margao, 2005 in Karachi, 2009 (U23 squad) in Dhaka, 2011 in New Delhi), 2015-16 in Thiruvananthapuram.

India begins their campaign against Bangladesh on October 4.

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Harshal, Maxwell help Kohli’s Red Brigade beat MI by 54 runs

Glen Maxwell and Virat Kohli starred with the bat as Royal Challengers Bangalore posted a score of 165/6 on the board.

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Hat-trick hero Harshal Patel, and Glen Maxwell handed Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) a comprehensive victory by 54 runs in the Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter against Mumbai Indians (MI) here at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

Harshal Patel (4-17) starred with the ball for RCB as the 30-year-old dismissed Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Rahul Chahar on three consecutive deliveries in the 17th over to turn the tide in favour of Virat Kohli-led side. For RCB, Glen Maxwell was another hero in the match as after scoring a half-century (56), the Australian followed it by scalping two crucial wickets with the ball in hand. RCB skipper Virat Kohli also scored a half-century in the match.

Chasing the target of 166, Mumbai Indians had a brilliant start as their openers Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma frustrated RCB’ bowlers throughout the first powerplay.

The duo gathered 56 runs after the 6 overs in the match. Yuzvendra Chahal provided the much-needed breakthrough for the RCB in the seventh over as he sent Quinton de Kock back to the pavilion at the score of 24. With spinners on both ends, MI felt the heat in the middle overs. Glen Maxwell struck for RCB in the 10th over as he removed dangerous-looking MI captain Rohit Sharma. Sharma walked back after scoring 43 off 28 balls. In the very next over, Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Ishan Kishan after MI batter mistimed a slog.

With runs in scarcity, wickets kept falling for MI as Glenn Maxwell struck again in the 14th over. The Australian all-rounder clean bowled Krunal Pandya for 5 off 11 balls. Mohammed Siraj joined the wicket-taking pack in the 15th over after he sent back Suryakumar Yadav (8 off 9) to the pavilion. Harshal Patel dusted all hopes for MI in the 17th over of the match after he took an incredible hattrick.

Patel removed Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Rahul Chahar for his hat-trick as defending champions suffered a stunning collapse. Yuzvendra Chahal clinched his third of the match in the next over. Patel then removed Adam Milne in the penultimate over to wrap up MI’s innings. Earlier, Glen Maxwell and Virat Kohli starred with the bat as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) posted a score of 165/6.

For RCB, Glen Maxwell and Virat Kohli played innings of 56 and 51 respectively. K.S Bharat also played a crucial knock of 32 for the team in red. Jasprit Bumrah scalped three wickets while Trent Boult, Adam Milne, and Rahul Chahar returned with one wicket each for Mumbai Indians. Put in to bat first, RCB had a decent start as they end up scoring 48 runs in the first six overs with the loss of one wicket. Jasprit Bumrah got the wicket of Devdutt Padikkal in the powerplay while bowling the second over. RCB batter edged to Quinton de Kock.

Virat Kohli along with K.S Bharat strengthen RCB innings as the duo soon raced towards 51 run partnership in 31 balls. Rahul Chahar provided the much-needed breakthrough for MI in the 9th over as Bharat walked back for 32 off 25 after getting caught at deep cover.

Glen Maxwell then joined the RCB skipper on the pitch and the duo stabilised the innings of the team in red. Virat Kohli continued with his carnage and brought up his second consecutive IPL half-century in the 15th over of the innings. But the RCB skipper was not able to profit from the good start as he walked back to the pavilion in the very next over after getting caught on deep. Adam Milne sent Kohli to the dressing room after a fine inning of 51 off 42 balls.

Maxwell then scored his fifty in the 18th over of the match – off just 33 balls -which included three sixes. Bumrah who was bowling penultimate over removed dangerous-looking Glen Maxwell and AB de Villiers on two consecutive deliveries. Glenn Maxwell returned to the pavilion after scoring 56 off 37 balls.

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MESSI WAS ‘TYRANT’ DURING TRAINING, SAYS BARCA COACH RONALD KOEMAN

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Barca coach Ronald Koeman has said Lionel Messi was like “a tyrant” during training at Barcelona.

The Argentina star raised the bar at the Camp Nou club as he developed into one of the greatest to ever play the game before departing to join Paris Saint-Germain this year. “Lionel Messi has obscured everything. He was so good and he won,” Koeman told Voetbal International, as reported by goal.com.

“Of course he had good players around him, but he made the difference. Everyone seems better than they are because of him. This is not a criticism, but an observation,” said the Barcelona coach.

Koeman, who worked with the Argentina star for a year before Messi left the club for Paris Saint-Germain said, “I knew how good he is, but it’s still nice to see it up close every day. Everything you would like to teach a football player, in recognising situations, in taking the ball under pressure, in ball speed, in finishing; with Messi everything is a 10 Not normal, not normal!

“When we did a finishing practice during training, there were sometimes players who started to hit easy balls, a bit of fooling around. But with Messi everything was: boom, boom, boom, boom. Never frills, everything functional. And always wanted to win everything.”

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