DJOKOVIC FORCED TO FOUR SETS IN OPENER, NORRIE ALSO MAKES WINNING START - The Daily Guardian
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DJOKOVIC FORCED TO FOUR SETS IN OPENER, NORRIE ALSO MAKES WINNING START

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In the first match of the Wimbledon on Centre Court, defending champion Novak Djokovic recorded his 80th Wimbledon match victory with a win over South Korea’s Soonwoon Kwon on Monday.

The Serbian becomes the first player, man or woman, to record 80 singles victories across each of all four Grand Slam tournaments. The world no. 3 maintained a solid level in his 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against the World No. 81. Yet Kwon’s aggressive tactics meant Djokovic was never completely comfortable in his first tour-level match since his Roland Garros quarter-final on May 31.

The win extends Djokovic’s unbeaten run at Wimbledon to 22 matches. The Serbian is hunting a fourth consecutive crown at the third major of the year in London, and his second tour-level title of 2022 after he triumphed at the Italian Open in May.

The South Korean was a break up in each of the first two sets and pumped up the Centre Court crowd after he levelled proceedings at a set apiece, but Djokovic’s trademark consistency proved enough to complete a two-hour, 27-minute victory.

The top seed will face Thanasi Kokkinakis or Kamil Majchrzak in the second round at SW19, where he now holds an 80-10 record. The World No. 3 is chasing his seventh title at Wimbledon, a tally that would draw him level with legendary American Pete Sampras and move him within one of record-holder Roger Federer’s eight crowns.

Elsewhere, Cameron Norrie, the British No.9 seed, made a flying start in his 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over Pablo Andujar on No.2 Court.

The 26-year-old left-hander romped through the first set for the loss of just 11 points, in 23 one-sided minutes.The veteran Spaniard, who is 10 years Norrie’s senior, forced a tie-break in the second set but was always chasing the match in the third.

Tantalisingly, the play was suspended with the score at deuce in what proved to be the final game. Norrie, who achieved his best result at Wimbledon last year when he reached the third round, will face another Spaniard, Jaume Munar, in the second round.

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Kevin O’Brien retires from international cricket

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Ireland star all-rounder Kevin O’Brien called time on his international cricket career on Tuesday, leaving a lasting legacy on the game.

Making his debut for Ireland in 2006, O’Brien was a prominent figure in his team’s rise with a career that spanned close to two decades. The star all-rounder represented Ireland in three Tests, 153 ODIs, and 110 T20Is. In his blistering international career, he scored 5850 runs and bagged 172 wickets.

O’Brien announced his retirement in a Twitter post and said that he originally planned to retire after this year’s T20 World Cup but was not selected in Ireland’s WC squad and decided to call the time on his stunning career.

“Today I announce my retirement from international cricket after 16 years and 389 caps for my country. I had hoped to finish my career at the T20 World Cup in Australia but having not been picked for the Irish squad since last year’s World Cup, I feel that the selectors and management are looking elsewhere,” O’Brien wrote in a Twitter post.

“I have enjoyed every minute playing for Ireland, made many friends on the pitch and I have so many happy memories to remember from my time playing for the National side,” he wrote.

“I have enjoyed every minute of playing for Ireland, made many friends on the pitch and I have so many happy memories to remember from my time playing for the National side. It’s now onto the next stage of my life and my career for me, the time is right,” said O’Brien.

I want to continue to grow my own Coaching Academy here in Ireland and I have some exciting opportunities coming up in the near future. I also want to continue to gain coaching experience overseas and hopefully will have more opportunities with some international and professional sides in the near future,” he further added. He has performed extremely well as an all-rounder. And it would be a difficult job for Ireland Cricket to find his replacement in National team. Although, he has not performed that well in a last few tournaments.

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INDIAN TEAM SWEAT IT OUT IN NETS AHEAD OF FIRST ODI

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Team India held its first practice session in Harare ahead of their three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, which will start from 18 August onwards.

Players like Shubman Gill, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, and Mohammed Siraj were seen sweating it out in the nets.

The series is set to start from 18 August onwards and will go on till 22 August.

The All-India Senior Selection Committee has appointed KL Rahul as the captain of the side and named Shikhar Dhawan as his deputy.

Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan was supposed to lead the side touring Zimbabwe. But after KL Rahul has been cleared, the right-hander has been made the captain and Dhawan as his deputy.

Earlier on 30 July, the Indian squad touring Zimbabwe for a three-match ODI series was announced.

Senior players like Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, and Jasprit Bumrah were not included in the squad.

Rahul Tripathi, who represents Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, was included in the ODI squad after his solid performance in the 2022 edition. In 14 games, he scored 413 runs at an average of 37.55 and hit three fifties. He was the second-highest run-getter for his team.

All-rounder Washington Sundar and bowler Deepak Chahar have also made a return to the side after battling injuries.

The coaching staff for India’s tour of Zimbabwe, which consists of three ODIs, has been revealed. For the tour of Zimbabwe, India legend and current head of the National Cricket Academy (NCA), VVS Laxman, will assume the role of head coach.

The original captain of Zimbabwe, Craig Ervine, is still out of the squad due to a hamstring injury. Fast bowlers blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara continue to remain on the sidelines in the series against India too. The left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza will miss the series.

KL Rahul (captain), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna, Mohd Siraj, Deepak Chahar.

Regis Chakabva (c), Tanaka Chivanga, Bradley Evans, Luke Jongwe, Ryan Burl, Innocent Kaia, Kaitano Takudzwanashe, Clive Madande, Wesley Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, John Masara, Tony Munyonga, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, and Donald Tiripano.

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FC Goa set to take on Mohammedan SC in opener

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In what is set to be a repeat of the Durand Cup 2021 final, defending champions FC Goa are all set to lock horns with Mohammedan SC in the opening match of the Durand Cup 2022 on Tuesday.

The Gaurs arrived in Kolkata for the tournament on Sunday ahead of the club’s third campaign at the Durand Cup, having previously played in the 2019 and 2021 editions. So far, the club has remained unbeaten in the tournament and would look to extend its solid run. Doggie Cardozo, the head coach of FC Goa’s Durand Cup squad, is upbeat about the team’s chances in the competition. “Our players have trained well and are in good spirits.” “They are aware that playing in the prestigious tournament is a good opportunity for them, and are hence keen to create an impact,” he said, ahead of the team’s clash against the Kolkata-based club.

FC Goa players during the practice ahead of Durand Cup.

“Our training session on Monday was quite fruitful. The whole squad worked in unison and we were able to discuss some key areas as far as preparation for the games is concerned.

The Boys in Orange, who are also the tournament’s defending champions, are expected to open their campaign in front of a packed house. Cardozo added that this serves as extra motivation for the team.

“We are not under any pressure.” Our objectives are clear-be the best versions of ourselves and try to get the trophy back home. “Playing in front of the fans would inspire us more and help us remember what we’re here for, and we look forward to having a great match against Mohammedan SC,” he commented.

“We intend to take the three points home , as that will give us an added boost.” Starting on a strong note is important, as it will set the tone for the rest of our campaign.

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WEST INDIES BEAT NEW ZEALAND BY 8 WICKETS

The decision by the West Indies to play with two spinners, Akeal Hosein and Hayden Walsh proved crucial in the match. They created difficulties for batters to play shots.

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A blistering 102-run opening wicket stand between Brandon King and Shamarh Brook guided West Indies to a win against New Zealand by eight wickets in the third T20I to prevent a sweep in the three-match series on Sunday.

Despite suffering a defeat against the West Indies by 8 wickets in the third and final match, New Zealand clinched the T20I series 2-1. Chasing 146, right-hander Brandon King (53) got the hosts off to a flyer on his return from injury, while fellow opener Shamarh Brooks (56*) played a more cautious role as the hosts put on 102 for the opening wicket to leave New Zealand needing a miracle.

Rovman Powell (27*) came in to guide the run chase home, with the stand-in West Indies captain smashing Jimmy Neesham for six on the final delivery of the penultimate over to seal the contest.

Earlier, opting to bat first, the New Zealand top-order made double-digit figures during their respective innings, but only one batter scored more than 24 as the hosts’ excellent bowling restricted the visitors from scoring runs.

Glenn Phillips looked the best of the New Zealand batters, smashing 41 from just 26 balls to help the visitors post a below-par score of 145/7 from their allotted 20 overs. While New Zealand opener Martin Guptill only scored 15 before he was bowled by Akeal Hosein, the veteran did enough to become the leading run-scorer in the history of men’s T20I.

The decision by the West Indies to play two spinners proved crucial in the match, with Hosein bagging two wickets conceding 18 runs, Hayden Walsh (1/16) creating difficulties for batters to play big shots, and pacer Odean Smith (3/29) reaping the rewards with career-best figures.

Brief score: New Zealand 145/7 (Glenn Phillips 41, Kane Williamson 24; Odean Smith 3-29) vs West Indies 150/2 (Shamarh Brooks 56*, Brandon King 53; Ish Sodhi 1-36).

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Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen gifts PM Modi boxing gloves

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Indian Commonwealth Games contingent expressed their delight at being honored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their excellent performance at Birmingham 2022.

PM Modi felicitated the Indian contingent for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2022 in New Delhi on Saturday. The felicitation was attended by both athletes and their coaches. Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports Anurag Singh Thakur and Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Nisith Pramanik were among those present. Prime Minister congratulated the players and coaches for their stupendous performance at the Commonwealth Games 2022 held in Birmingham, where India bagged 22 Gold, 16 Silver, and 23 Bronze medals in various disciplines.

During the event, sprinter Hima Das gave the traditional Assamese gamocha, and Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen gifted PM Modi her boxing gloves.

“Honoured to gift the boxing gloves signed by all the pugilists to our honorable Prime Minister @narendramodi sir. Thank you for this amazing opportunity. A great day spent with my fellow athletes who have made the country proud,” Nikhat tweeted.

Hima Das took to her Twitter handle and wrote, “Elated to receive blessings from our honorable Prime Minister – Shri @narendramodi Ji, by virtue of Commonwealth Games 2022. Fortunate to have presented him with our traditional gamcha, wrapped with immense gratitude from all of Assam.”

Commonwealth Games 2022 champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who won the gold medal in the Women’s 49kg final, thanked the PM for his words of motivation.

“Honoured to meet & interact with our Honourable Prime Minister @narendramodi Sir. Thank you so much sir for all your support & encouragement. Jai Hind,” Chanu said.

“Thank You Sir for sparing your valuable time and inviting us over to your residence. It was like always a delight to speak with you,” wrote shuttler Chirag Shetty.

CWG 2022 gold medallist Lakshya Sen also expressed his appreciation for being honored by the PM.

“What a great day for all the Athletes #gratitude. Thank you so much Sir for appreciating our hard work and for your words of encouragement. We are all very grateful for your support. Will continue to make our nation proud. Jai Hind!” Indian shuttler Sen tweeted.

“Meeting Hon. PM @narendramodi once again, interacting with him and seeking a blessing was motivating and inspiring as always. His keen interest in our performances and detailed conversations are very gratifying!” said Bhavina Patel, who won the gold medal in Para table tennis at the Birmingham 2022.

Addressing the Indian CWG contingent on Saturday, PM said that the golden period of Indian sports has just begun and hailed the fine show of the athletes.

India finished 4th in the medal tally winning a total of 61 medals at the CWG 2022, including 22 gold, 16 Silver, and 23 Bronze medals.

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Four games win hearts, disappointment in weightlifting and squash

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This time, a total of 16 medals, including seven gold were lost due to the non-availability of shooting events in the CWG. It was largely compensated by wrestling, badminton, table tennis, Para Powerlifting, lawn ball, cricket, hockey, athletics, and judo. India’s number of gold medals increased in the first four games compared to the last CWG held at Gold Coast. India won gold and a bar of silver in the lawn bowl in which not a single medal was won before. In hockey, both the teams returned empty-handed last time but this time the men’s team won a silver, and the women’s team won a medal after 16 years. In cricket, the Indian women’s team could not win gold after defeating Australia as they lost the last eight wickets for 34 runs but beating England in the SF was an achievement. Judo was not their last time, India won three medals including two gold in Judo. The personal best performance of many players in athletics proved that India’s preparations are on the right track because of the Paris Olympics.

Despite all this, weightlifters and squash players disappointed. The boxers equalled last time’s three gold medals but they got only one silver means two silvers less than last time. Mirabai Chanu, Jeremy Lalrinnunga, and Achinta Sheuli, did win gold medals in weightlifting, and they broke snatch games record but the rest of the weightlifters could neither break the national record nor give personal best. Most of these weightlifters could not even repeat their performance in the National Championship. Poonam Yadav, who won gold last time in 69 kg, failed in all three clean and jerk attempts, it is a matter of mystery. In TT, Achanta Sharath Kamal proved that age is just a number. The player was once weak in the backhand, but he made it his strength, winning a total of seven golds in 16 years. His biggest quality is to play his strategy according to the opposition player.

In athletics, however, the situation was quite the opposite. In a ten km walk, Priyanka Goswami and Sandeep won medals in their respective categories with PB performances. In the 3000m steeplechase, Avinash Sawale clocked a PB performance to outdo a Kenyan in medals and very near to the other Kenyan who won the gold medal by a fraction of a second. Gold medalist Eldhose Paul and silver-winner Abdulla Aboobacker won the triple jump gold and silver & broke the 17-meter barrier. For all the athletes including Murali Sreeshankar in the long jump, the World Championships held recently formed the base of their medals. Murli, who was performing lighter than the qualifying competition in the final, corrected his mistake and got the silver, but Seema Poonia and Navjeet Dhillon, who won silver and bronze at Gold Coast were almost four to five meters lesser this time. Both have shown that their preparations are going in the opposite direction. Two silvers in squash narrowed us down to two bronzesthis time.

In wrestling, only Canadian and Nigerian wrestlers were challenged as usual and Indian wrestlers managed to bag all the medals like the last time, which includes six golds i.e., one more gold than last time. Vinesh Phogat continued to create history in women’s wrestling by winning her third gold while emerging Naveen proved to be a new sensation in 74kg. Some players gave a befitting reply to their federations with their excellent performance. Judoka Tulika Maan was not considered for selection in the judo team. Even the federation said that there is no hope of a medal in the highest weight category of women, but Tulika won the silver.

Similarly, Tejaswin Shankar had to take refuge in the court to participate in these games. His name was rejected saying that he had not participated in the National Championship, arguing that he was participating in a competition in the US at the same time. Eventually, this player made 2.22 m in the high jump. He won the bronze medal. In lawn ball, women from other sports showed that if there is scope, there is nothing wrong with changing the game. When Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the Olympic medal, he emphasized this the most because he too was once among the cricket potential players of Madhya Pradesh.

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