Matteo Berrettini, Fognini send Italy to ATP Cup final - The Daily Guardian
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Matteo Berrettini, Fognini send Italy to ATP Cup final

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Melbourne [Australia], February 6 (ANI): Matteo Berrettini sealed Italy’s spot in the final on Saturday with a 6-3, 7-5 victory against Roberto Bautista Agut, giving his country an insurmountable 2-0 lead against Spain. Earlier in the day, Fabio Fognini clawed past Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” Berrettini said in his on-court interview. “Last year I could not make it, so I am really happy that the first time that I played we are into the final. The job is not done yet, but we are really happy for what is happening.”
Berrettini has been a star for Italy in this ATP Cup, going 3-0 in singles and partnering Fognini in a deciding doubles victory against Austria in Group C play. The World No. 10 has beaten three of the top 13 players in the ATP Rankings without losing a set.
“I am feeling good. I am feeling pumped. I am feeling great to play not just for me, but for my team and for Italy in general. That is what matters the most,” Berrettini said. “I am really looking forward to playing tomorrow.”
The 24-year-old used a combination of controlled aggression and finesse to battle past the Spaniard after one hour and 26 minutes. The Italians jumped up and down in a huddle in their Team Zone after the match, celebrating their triumph. Russia, led by Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, awaits in the final.
“For sure it is a final, so we are the two best teams. These two guys, they played unbelievable at the end of 2020. They’re still playing really good, but it is a final, anything can happen,” Berrettini said. “They are great players, but we also have a great team, so it is going to be a tough one.”
Berrettini now leads Bautista Agut 4-1 in their ATP head to head series, with each of his four victories coming in straight sets. Bautista Agut took a medical timeout after the first set, but that did not stop the Spaniard from battling hard. The 32-year-old added more pace to the groundstrokes to try to push the Italian back.
But Berrettini, who bulldozed his way through the opening set with his power, used his backhand slice and drop shot to great effect, and seized the deciding service break with a tremendous forehand passing shot.
Fognini responded to every challenge thrown his way in the No. 2 singles match to give Italy a 1-0 lead in its ATP Cup semi-final against Spain.
Fognini clawed past Carreno Busta 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 in a roller-coaster battle that lasted two hours and 21 minutes. The Spaniard had won their seven previous ATP Head2Head meetings.
“I am happy because of course this week I started slowly and I am getting better and better,” Fognini said on court. “The sensations are good.”
After getting broken in the first game of the match, Fognini appeared concerned as he had the trainer visit to re-wrap his left ankle. But while the number seven was a bad omen for the Italian against Carreno Busta entering their No. 2 singles match, it proved a lucky number for Fognini at Melbourne Park.
The World No. 17 won seven consecutive games to seemingly take control of the match. Fognini was playing with controlled aggression, while the always steady Carreno Busta was making uncharacteristic unforced errors.
However, the rain threw a wrench in Fognini’s plans. At 1-0 in the second set, a delay of about 30 minutes changed the momentum. The players switched roles upon the resumption of play, with Carreno Busta back to his steady self and Fognini misfiring.
“I was playing really good tennis in the first set and then that is when we closed the roof. But I think I played three, four games in the second set really, really tight,” Fognini said. “I was feeling really great even if I was losing those games. In the third set, I think I played good tennis again.”
With national pride on the line, the Italian maintained his composure and found his game early in the deciding set. He began showing the jaw-dropping shotmaking that helped him crack the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2019. But Carreno Busta, who was advised by captain Pepe Vendrell, coach Samuel Lopez and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in Spain’s Team Zone, rallied from a double-break down in the third set to get within two points of getting back on serve.
While the Spaniard saved three match points on his serve, he was unable to hold off Fognini. The Italian’s firepower proved decisive, and he finished off his victory with a perfect backhand drop volley. Fognini began his week with a straight-sets loss against World No. 100 Dennis Novak of Austria, but he has found his rhythm at Melbourne Park.
Spain did not play the doubles match, making the final tie score 3-0. The ATP Cup final between Russia and Italy will begin from 4:00 am IST onward on Sunday. (ANI)

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Real Madrid, City storm into UEFA Champions League semi-finals

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LIVERPOOL

Manchester City advanced into the Champions League semi-finals after bouncing back from one goal down to snatch a 2-1 win over Dortmund (4-2 on aggregate), courtesy of Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden second-half goals.

Both teams staged a slow start into the clash but Jude Bellingham’s well-placed opener from 15 metres on 15 minutes sparked the game to life on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

Three minutes later, Dortmund had another promising effort on target as Manuel Akanji’s header following a corner forced Manchester City’s goalkeeper Ederson into action.

City dominated the proceedings on the pitch, but the hosts were still able to take the narrow lead into the half time.

In another game, Liverpool were left to rue a host of missed chances as Real Madrid held out for a 0-0 draw at Anfield to progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate.

Mohamed Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum were guilty of wasting glorious opportunities to get Jurgen Klopp’s men back into the tie as they failed to replicate a remarkable recovery from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate at the semi-final stage two years ago.

Madrid were far from their best, but did not need to be to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea as Los Blancos extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 14 games.

Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane warned after Saturday’s 2-1 El Clasico win over Barcelona that his players were at their “physical limit” and the visitors looked jaded as they were happy to sit on their first leg lead.

UEFA is set to announce major changes to the Champions League next week but the make-up of this season’s semi-finalists confirms the extent to which elite club football in Europe has already been

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KOHLI NAMED WISDEN ODI CRICKETER OF THE 2010S

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LONDON

India skipper Virat Kohli has been named Wisden Almanack’s ODI cricketer of the 2010s. Kohli made more than 11,000 runs in the period, averaging over 60 and scoring 42 hundreds.

The decade began with him winning the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011, and he added a Champions Trophy title two years later, top-scoring in the final. In five global ICC 50-over tournaments in the decade, Kohli and India never fell before the semi-final stage. Apart from this, England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been named Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World in 2020. West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder, Pakistani wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan, England’s emerging stars Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley, and Kent’s 44-yr old Darren Stevens have been named as the Five Cricketers of the Year.

Australia women cricketer Beth Mooney has been awarded as the leading women cricketer. West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard was named as the leading T20I cricketer in the world.

Earlier in the year, Kohli was named as the ICC Male Cricketer of the Decade and the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade.

“My only intention was to make winning contributions for the team and I just strive to do that in every game. Stats just become the byproduct of what you want to do on the field,” Kohli had said after winning the award.

Kohli was also named the skipper of ICC’s Test Team of the Decade.

In 2019, Kohli had surpassed MS Dhoni to become India’s most successful Test skipper. After winning the Test against West Indies, Kohli had scripted his 28th Test win as captain.

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Will Dhoni’s Chennai up their ante against Punjab?

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MUMBAI

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have their work cut out as they take on buoyant Punjab Kings in their second match of the IPL 2021 on Friday night.The MS Dhoni-led side put in a horrible performance on the field in their first match against Delhi Capitals, dropping catches and bowling too many poor deliveries.

Punjab Kings on the other hand survived a scare from Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson, who hit a century, in their first match as they held on to win the game by a slender margin of four runs even after having put up 221.

CSK have had too many ageing cricketers in their side. That apart, many of the players, including skipper MS Dhoni, haven’t played too much cricket in recent times which is why they look rusty.

On a belter of a wicket at the Wankhede Stadium, CSK’s bowling struggled for ideas. Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali looked ineffective partly because Prithvi Shaw was dropped twice off Moeen’s bowling.

CSK’s top-order batting also needs to fire. Had it not been for Sam Curran, who hit a 15-ball 34 towards the end, CSK would have barely crossed 150.

Skipper Dhoni had said after the match that a 200-run total would be the safest considering the dew sets in later.

Dew could have been the problem for CSK in their first match and Friday’s match against PK will prove further if it was dew or plain rustiness.

PK have very few worries, especially in their batting. Deepak Hooda was pushed up the batting order, to No. 4 and he repaid the faith put in him by the team management, scoring a 28-ball 64.

With Hooda shining, the top six of the line-up looks completely packed with power. KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Hooda, Nicholas Pooran and Shahrukh Khan are batsmen who can whack the ball to a distance while Mayank Agarwal can provide the steady hand.

The only concern for PK would be the Australian pace duo Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson, who were clobbered for runs.

One of those Aussies may have to give way to spinner Ravi Bishnoi.

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS

Strengths:

• The successful comeback of Suresh Raina.

• Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, and Sam Curran.

Weaknesses:

• Flop show of openers in the previous match.

• Sam Curran and Shardul Thakur were very expensive.

PUNJAB KINGS

Strengths:

• K.L. Rahul and Chris Gayle are in good touch.

• Hooda’s power-hitting.

• Mohammed Shami’s comeback boost to the team.

Weaknesses:

• Expensive buys like Riley Meredith & Jhye Richardson proved to be expensive.

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NEED TO WORK ON PLAN B IF WE WANT TO WIN A MEDAL IN OLYMPICS: CHIRAG SHETTY

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NEW DELHI

World number ten doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy have been on top of their game and the duo would be expected to perform to the best of their ability in order to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

The duo was recently knocked out from the All England Open in the second round and they would next be seen in the India Open which will be played in New Delhi behind closed doors this May. India Open 2021 will be conducted behind closed doors at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi from May 11-16. The tournament, which is also an Olympic qualifier event, has attracted 228 (114 men and 114 women) entries from 33 different national associations including China.

Chirag Shetty believes that if the duo wants to return with a medal from the Olympics, then they need to have a sort-out plan B as sometimes plan A does not work out.

“We started off the year playing tournaments, we have played a pre-quarterfinal and a semi-final in the second tournament. Playing after a year, we had some good matches in Thailand, although we lost in the second match of our first tournament, we played a very close game against the world number two and also in the second tournament, we beat some really good players to make the semi-final. We would have loved to play the finals, but I think overall it was a good tournament.

“I think we would like to play a new trend of the game. If we really need to go for a shot at the medal in Olympics, we need to have a Plan B as well because we need to focus on our Plan B if our plan A is not working,” said Shetty while replying to a query.

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Morris’ cameo, Miller magic help RR beat DC

Chasing 148, the left-handed Miller came out to bat with the score at 17/3, and guided Rajasthan’s innings with a knock of 62 runs. With 27 needed off the final two overs, Morris stepped up to the occasion to take his side over the line.

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MUMBAI

Back against the ball, left-handed batsman David Miller produced a 62-run knock and it was followed by Chris Morris’ cameo of 36 runs off just 18 balls as Rajasthan Royals defeated Delhi Capitals by three wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday here at the Wankhede Stadium.

Miller played a knock of 62 runs. The left-handed batter came out to bat with the score at 17/3, and he guided Rajasthan’s innings. And with 27 needed off the final two overs, Morris stepped up to the occasion to take his side over the line with two balls to spare. With this win, Rajasthan has registered their first victory in this edition of the IPL. Chasing 148, Rajasthan did not get off to an ideal start as the side lost its opening batters Manan Vohra (9) and Jos Buttler (2) in the third over of the innings. Chris Woakes provided the first two breakthroughs to Delhi. In the very next over, Kagiso Rabada dismissed Sanju Samson (4), leaving Rajasthan in a spot of bother at 17/3.

Shivam Dube and David Miller put on a 19-run stand for the fourth wicket, but Avesh Khan cut short the partnership in the eighth over as he dismissed the left-handed Dube (2). Avesh caused further trouble as he sent Riyan Parag (2) back to the pavilion, reducing Rajasthan to 42/5 in the 10th over. Rahul Tewatia then joined Miller in the middle and the partnership between these two batters saw Miller taking the mantle and accelerating the innings.

Miller and Tewatia put on 48 runs for the sixth wicket, but as soon as Rajasthan started getting on course for a win, Delhi stormed right back as Rabada sent Tewatia (19) back to the pavilion. Miller went on to register his half-century and he even dispatch Avesh for two consecutive sixes, but in looking for a third, he ended up losing his wicket in the 16th over after playing a knock of 62 runs.

With 27 needed off the final two overs, Morris first smashed Rabada for 15 runs in the penultimate over, and with 12 needed off the final over, Morris and Jaydev Unadkat managed to guide Rajasthan over the line by three wickets.

Earlier, an inspired bowling performance by Jaydev Unadkat, Chris Morris, and Mustafizur Rahman helped Rajasthan Royals restrict Delhi Capitals to 147/8. Delhi kept on losing wickets at regular intervals, and although skipper Rishabh Pant played a knock of 51, Delhi would have been hoping for a big partnership from skipper Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis, but this was not to be the case as Mustafizur Rahman had Stoinis (0) fooled by a slower delivery in the seventh over, and as a result, Delhi was reduced to 37/4.

Lalit Yadav and Rishabh Pant then got together at the crease and the duo revived the innings for Delhi by stitching a partnership of 51 runs for the fifth wicket, and this saw skipper Pant going past his 50-run mark. However, as soon as Delhi’s innings started to come on track, Pant (51) was sent back to the pavilion via a run-out. Soon after, Lalit Yadav (20) was dismissed by Chris Morris, reducing Delhi to 100/6 in the 15th over. In the final overs, Tom Curran (21), Ravichandran Ashwin (7), and Chris Woakes (15*) added some crucial runs to the total and as a result, Delhi Capitals posted a total of more than the 140-run mark.

Brief Scores: Delhi Capitals 147/8 (Rishabh Pant 51, Tom Curran 21, Jaydev Unadkat 3-15); Rajasthan Royals 150/7 (David Miller 62, Chris Morris 36*, Avesh Khan 3-32).

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ZIMBABWE’S HEATH STREAK BANNED FOR EIGHT YEARS UNDER ICC ANTI-CORRUPTION CODE

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Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak on Wednesday was banned from all cricket for eight years after he accepted five charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

Streak was charged as a participant under the Code by virtue of his status as the coach of Zimbabwe from 2016 to 2018 and as the coach of various domestic teams. The charges are as follows: 2.3.2 – disclosing inside information under both the ICC Code and various domestic Codes, in circumstances where he knew or should have known that such information may be used for betting purposes. In particular, he disclosed inside information in relation to matches in the 2018 Tri-Series involving Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, the Zimbabwe versus Afghanistan series in 2018, the IPL 2018, and the APL 2018.

2.3.3 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, persuading, encouraging, or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach the Code. In particular, he facilitated or attempted to facilitate the introduction of four different players, including a national captain, to someone he knew, or should have known, may have wanted to approach them to provide inside information for betting purposes.

Under the provisions of the Code, Streak chose to admit the charges and agreed with the sanction with the ICC in lieu of an Anti-Corruption Tribunal hearing. He will be free to resume his involvement in the game on March 28, 2029.

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