Australian Open: Naomi Osaka sails into third round - The Daily Guardian
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Australian Open: Naomi Osaka sails into third round

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Melbourne [Australia], February 10 (ANI): Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka sailed into the third round of the ongoing Australian Open after registering a comfortable win over France’s Caroline Garcia on Wednesday.
The third-seeded Osaka set the tone in the first game by belting three aces, one on a second serve down the tee. Osaka defeated Garcia in two straight sets (6-2, 6-3) in the match that lasted for 61 minutes.
Osaka had clinched her first-round match on Monday after defeating Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets 6-1, 6-2.
Earlier in the day, American tennis star Serena Williams stormed into the third round of the tournament as she emerged triumphant in her second-round fixture.
Williams outclassed Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic 6-3, 6-0 in the second round and she wrapped up an easy straight-sets victory.
The 39-year-old showed no tentativeness and she was on her game from the very start, not letting her opponent get an upper hand.
Also, World number one Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Dominic Thiem both progressed to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
Djokovic outclassed America’s Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 (2), 6-3 to win the second-round match at the Rod Laver Arena while Thiem defeated Germany’s Dominik Koepfer in three straight sets 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 in one hour and 39 minutes. (ANI)

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Strandja Memorial Tournament: Deepak Kumar enters semis, ensures second medal for India

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): Indian boxer Deepak Kumar continued his sensational run at the 72nd Strandja Memorial Tournament as he stormed into the men’s 52kg semi-finals with a dominating 5-0 win against local boy Darislav Vasilev on the fourth day in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The Asian Championship silver medallist Deepak looked in complete control throughout the match. Deepak was swift in his movement inside the ring and his speedy footwork did not allow his Bulgarian opponent any chance to score.
With this win, Deepak became second Indian after Naveen Boora (69kg) to seal a spot in the semi-finals in the on-going tournament and also assured a second medal for the country.
Both the Indians will play Uzbekistan boxers in their respective last-4 clash on Friday night. While Deepak will face a strong challenge from Rio Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov, Boora will be up against Asian Games gold medallist Bobo-Usmon Baturov.
Meanwhile, Indian women boxers Jyoti Gulia (51kg) and Bhagyabati Kachari (75kg) suffered 5-0 defeats in their quarter-final bouts.
Gulia lost to Romanian boxer Lacramioara Perijoc, Kachari also went down against the world championship bronze medallist Naomi Graham of USA. Manjeet Singh also lost his +91kg quarter-final bout against Armenia’s Gurgen Hovhannisyan. (ANI)

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NZ vs Aus: Still a leg-side dominant player, want to expand my game, says Neesham

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Auckland [New Zealand], February 26 (ANI): New Zealand all-rounder James Neesham on Friday said that he is still looking to improve his game as he still remains a leg-side dominant player.
Neesham has been in tremendous form as he played a quickfire 45-run knock off just 16 balls with the help of one four and six 6s against Australia in the second T20I to help the Kiwis to post a mammoth 219/7 on the board.
Before the series against Australia commenced, Neesham was picked by Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Mumbai Indians for his base price of Rs 50 lakh.
“It’s probably not good enough in the modern-day and age to be a guy who just stands there and tries to hit sixes over long-on and cow corner. I think you have to be a little bit more nuanced than that. It’s sort of something I’ve been working on. I’m still quite a leg-side dominant player,” ESPNCricinfo quoted Neesham as saying.
“I’m trying to expand my game as much as I can. Those sorts of shots, when you think of the very, very best players in the world, guys like Jos Buttler and the like, they can hit the ball 360 degrees around the park. It’s certainly something that you try and develop and it’s something that I’m trying to bring into my game,” he added.
Australia needed 15 runs off the final over to win the second T20I, but Neesham managed to defend the total and the Kiwis ended up registering a narrow 3-run victory to go 2-0 up in the five-match series.
“I knew pretty early on that it was probably going to be me to bowl it. I was just trying to keep it really simple, trying to bowl yorkers. Dunedin is obviously a really small ground so you need a little bit of luck and in that capacity I think one of the better yorkers I actually bowled Marcus Stoinis managed to still get out of the park so when that happens you just shrug your shoulders and try and hit the next one,” said Neesham.
New Zealand and Australia will now lock horns in the third T20I of the five-match series on Wednesday in Wellington. (ANI)

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IPL 2021: RR appoint Ish Sodhi as Team Liaison Officer

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Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], February 26 (ANI): Rajasthan Royals on Friday confirmed the appointment of New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi as the team’s Liaison Officer ahead of the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.
In this new role, Sodhi will be working closely with both Kumar Sangakkara, the team’s Director of Cricket, and Jake Lush McCrum, the chief operating officer.
“The Royals are an innovative, dynamic franchise that plays an entertaining brand of cricket, and I am delighted to rejoin my IPL family to work across the board,” Sodhi said in a statement.
Sodhi will work with the cricket operations team to create an engaging environment for the players as well as assisting the coaching staff towards match day preparations.
With the 2021 tournament set to happen in a bubble again, Sodhi will be responsible for creating a variety of team events, while supporting the creation of engaging content to keep the Royals fans as close to the action as possible.
In the mini-auction, Rajasthan Royals had bought Proteas all-rounder Chris Morris for a whopping Rs 16.5 crore, making him the most expensive foreign player in the history of the tournament.
Rajasthan Royals had finished at the bottom of the IPL 2020 standings. (ANI)

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Puerto Rico Open: Lahiri closes bitter-sweet round with eagle for 2-under 70

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Rio Grande [Puerto Rico], February 26 (ANI): Anirban Lahiri had a bitter-sweet round on the first day of the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open.
Returning to action after three weeks, Lahiri opened with a hat-trick of birdies from the second to fourth holes and closed the day with a superb eagle, but in between four bogeys between 10th and 17th as he carded a 2-under 70 in the first round.
Lahiri was placed T-37, while his senior colleague, Arjun Atwal, seeing action for the first time in four months, scored a 1-under 71 to be T-52. Daniel Chopra, who played with Lahiri shot 2-over 74.
The leader was Tommy Gainey who birdied five of the last seven holes for a 7-under 65. Gainey, 45, had his lone PGA Tour win in 2012 and he led by one over local favourites Rafael Campos, Robert Garrigus, Taylor Pendrith, Lee Hodges, Greg Chalmers, Fabian Gomez and Brandon Wu. Gainey birdied the opening two holes and three of the first four and overall had nine birdies against two bogeys.
One of the early starters in the first round, Lahiri, who has not won since his home country success at the 2015 Hero Indian Open, started with a par on the first. He birdied three in a row from second to fourth, parred the rest of the front nine to turn in a healthy 3-under.
He dropped shots on 10th, 13th, 16th and 17th with just one birdie on Par-5 15th. When he came to the 18th tee for the Par-5 closing hole he was even par despite a fine start. He then two fine shots and landed an eagle for a more satisfying 2-under 70.
Atwal had three birdies against two bogeys, while Chopra had two birdies against four bogeys.
The Puerto Rico Open, which is played opposite the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship event in Florida, as usual, saw windy conditions but in warm temperatures at the Grand Reserve. The winner here will get into the PGA Championship in May.
European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington shot 70. Ian Poulter opened with a 71. Greg Chalmers aced the par-3 eighth hole en route to a 6-under 66. It was his second hole-in-one in the event and his seventh career hole-in-one.
All action from PGA Tour — The Puerto Rico Open, Day 2 will be Live on EUROSPORT and EUROSPORT HD from 8:30 pm (IST) onwards on Friday. (ANI)

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Pietersen wants England batsmen to acknowledge their ‘dreadful’ performance

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 26 (ANI): England’s defeat in the pink-ball Test inside two days might have raised questions on the quality of pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium by former cricketers, but Kevin Pietersen has indirectly rubbished all the criticism and wants the English batsmen to realise from their mistakes.
England were 74/2 at one stage in the day-night Test after winning the toss but Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin spun a web over hosts in both essays to hand India a comprehensive 10 wicket win. Former skipper Pietersen wants England batsmen to acknowledge the poor display with the bat rather than questioning the quality of the wicket.
After the win, India skipper Virat Kohli and batsman Rohit Sharma had said that most batsmen from both teams got out off straight balls and it was not a case of pitch misbehaving a lot. Pietersen on Friday cited Rohit and Kohli’s example and called out on England batsmen to be at least honest with themselves and not to blame anyone else for the defeat.
“I hope there are some England batters waking up this morning and being honest with themselves at least, by acknowledging their batting was dreadful on that wicket?! I’ve heard Virat & Rohit say theirs was!” Pietersen tweeted.
Speaking after the game, Rohit said: “Pitch didn’t do anything, honestly speaking, if I can recollect, most of the batsmen got out on straighter deliveries. We also as a batting unit, made a lot of mistakes while batting. We also did not bat well in the first innings, the pitch did not have demons, there is nothing like that,” Rohit said during the virtual press conference on Thursday.
Even skipper Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams. Kohli said the quality of batting was to be blamed as most of the batsmen got out to balls that didn’t turn.
Meanwhile, England is out of the race for a place in the final of the ICC World Test Championship.
England has dropped to 64.1 percentage points on the points table, which is now led by India with 71 percentage points. New Zealand is assured of a place in the final with 70 percentage points.
India need to either win or draw the last Test to stay ahead of Australia, who is in third place with 69.2 percentage points. (ANI)

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We merited to still be in the competition, says Arsenal coach after progressing in Europa League

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Piraeus [Greece], February 26 (ANI): After progressing to the last-16 of the Europa League, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is really pleased with the character that his team showed against Benfica and said his side “merited to still be in the competition”.
Arsenal secured a place in the last-16 of the Europa League in dramatic fashion after a late winner from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang guided them to a 3-2 win in the second leg on Thursday. The first-leg match between Arsenal and Benfica had ended in a 1-1 draw.
“I think again we made it really difficult for ourselves. Over the two legs we have given them two goals, and when that’s the case you going to put the tie in a really difficult position,” Arteta told Arsenal.com.
“At the same time I’m really pleased with the character, the courage and the personality that team showed. And the willingness to win the tie, until the end, we threw everything at them and at the end we got rewarded because I think we merited to still be in the competition,” he added.
Aubameyang scored the opening goal of the match in the 21st minute but Benfica managed to equalise in the 43rd minute. Benfica then went ahead in the 61st minute with the help of Rafa Silva’s strike but Kieran Tierney fired in an equaliser six minutes later.
The manager was also relieved for Dani Ceballos after Arsenal’s victory. The Spain midfielder gave away a free kick for Benfica’s equaliser, then made a defensive error for their second — but Aubameyang’s late goal ensured Arsenal’s win.
“I’m especially happy for Dani because he’s a player that lives his professional life as the most important thing in his life and I know that if we had lost that tie, for him it would have meant the world,” Arteta said.
“So that’s when you need somebody like Auba to come and step in and score the goals and make him much happier than he would have been,” he added. (ANI)

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