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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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OLYMPICS: ZVEREV BECOMES FIRST GERMAN SINGLES TENNIS PLAYER TO WIN GOLD AT GAMES

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Tennis player Alexandar Zverev on Sunday became the first German player to win Olympic gold in the singles event.

Zverev defeated Karen Khachanov of Russia 6-3, 6-1 in the gold medal match, and hence the German walked away with the top prize. The German tennis player won the match in straight sets and he did not let Khachanov settle.In the first set, Zverev dropped just three games and he won it 6-3 inside 43 minutes.

Continuing from where he left off, Zverev wrapped up the second set inside 36 minutes and he won it 6-1, winning the match in straight sets.Earlier, Zverev had defeated number one seed, Novak Djokovic, in the semi-finals.

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Swimming great Katie Ledecky claims record 6th individual gold

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United States’ swimming great Katie Ledecky won her record sixth individual gold and 10th Olympic medal of her career after topping the podium in the women’s 800m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

Katie Ledecky still remains undefeated in every 800-meter freestyle race she’s competed in for 11 years. Ledecky touched the wall in 8:12.57. Ariarne Titmus of Australia won the silver and Simona Quadarella of Italy took the bronze. The American became the first female swimmer to win six individual golds and has now second-most in swimming to one person — Michael Phelps stands on record 13 individual gold.

On Sunday, Australia broke the Olympic record to win women’s 4×100 medley with timing of 3:51.60. Emma McKeon won her seventh medal in Tokyo 2020 after this victory. The USA claimed Silver while bronze went to Canada. Penny Oleksiak also became Canada’s most-medalled Olympian, with the seventh medal of her career.

In the last swimming final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Caeleb Dressel bagged his fifth gold medal of these Games as the United States completed the men’s 4×100 medley with a world record timing of 3:26.78. Dressel’s fly split was 49.03.

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Olympics: Emma McKeon becomes first female swimmer to win 7 medals at single Games

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Emma McKeon created Olympic history on Sunday after Australia upset two-time defending champions, the United States, to secure the women’s 4x100m relay gold medal here at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

In a close race, the Australian team of Kaylee McKeown, Chelsea Hodges, Emma McKeon, Cate Campbell won the race with a new Olympic record time of 3:51.60, pushing the USA into second. The USA quartet finished at a time of 3:51.73 while Canada claimed the bronze in 3:52.60. This was McKeon’s seventh medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, a feat that no other female swimmer has ever achieved at a single Games.

27-year-old McKeon has now won four gold in Tokyo along with three bronze, overtaking East German Kristin Otto’s six medal-haul in 1952 which was later matched by American Natalie Coughlin in 2008.

Earlier on Saturday, United States’ swimming great Katie Ledecky won her record sixth individual gold and 10th Olympic medal of her career after topping the podium in the women’s 800m freestyle. Katie Ledecky still remains undefeated in every 800-meter freestyle race she’s competed in for 11 years. Ledecky touched the wall in 8:12.57. Ariarne Titmus of Australia won the silver and Simona Quadarella of Italy took the bronze.

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PRESSURE WILL BE ON AUSTRALIA IN QUARTER-FINAL MATCH, SAYS INDIA COACH MARIJNE

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After securing back-to-back wins over Ireland and South Africa in their final two games in the Group Stage, the India women’s hockey team claimed the fourth position in Pool A to qualify for their maiden appearance in an Olympic quarter-final.

Team India will come up against Pool B toppers Australia, who have emerged from the Group Stage with a 100 per cent record of five wins in five matches. Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne believes the onus will be on Australia, heading into the quarter-final clash on Monday. Marijne said, “The pressure will be on Australia as they are one of the highest-ranked teams in the competition. We will be able to play freely, which is very important for us.”“Our own focus is on approaching each game one at a time and to keep improving with every match. We have a training session today to stay in good rhythm ahead of the game, and then tomorrow we will take the field and try to express ourselves there,” he added.

After a slow start to their Olympic campaign; which began with losses against the Netherlands (5-1), Germany (2-0), and Great Britain 4-1), India made a late surge to defeat Ireland (1-0) and South Africa (4-3) back-to-back in their last two games in Pool A and book their place in the quarter-final.India will now come up against Australia in search of a semi-final spot in the Tokyo Olympics. The Australian team boasts the best defensive record thus far in the Tokyo Olympics, having conceded just one goal in the entire Group Stage and picking up an impressive 15 points out of 15.

However, Marijne insists that India must not get preoccupied with the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition ahead of the crucial match. He said, “We have to keep playing our game as we did in the Group Stage. We won our last two matches because we learnt from the mistakes we made early on and made improvements accordingly.”

“We have been creating a lot of chances throughout the competition, but our conversion of those chances has not been up to the mark. We need to get better in that department, while also giving away fewer chances to the opposition,” he added.

Team India captain Rani Rampal has led the team from the front so far in the Tokyo Olympics. Ahead of the quarter-final clash against Australia, Rani displayed full confidence in her team to emerge with a win against their mighty opponents.

“We showed a lot of character to win our last two games after facing disappointment early on in the Group Stage. Winning our matches against Ireland and South Africa while facing elimination speaks a lot about the determination and mentality of this team. Competing against a world-class team like Australia to get to the semi-final in the Olympics will require special performance from the team, and I am confident that we have the ability to achieve a special result. We will go into the game without putting too much pressure on ourselves and do what we do best – play hockey,” said Rani.

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TOLD SINDHU TO KEEP ATTACKING, SAYS FATHER RAMANA

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As ace shuttler P.V. Sindhu won a bronze medal at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, her father P.V. Ramana on Sunday said he is impressed with the way her daughter kept on attacking in the bronze medal match. Sindhu on Sunday became the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals. Sindhu defeated China’s He Bing Jiao in the bronze medal match of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 1.

P.V. Sindhu plays a shot during her bronze medal match against Chinas He Bingjiao, in Tokyo on Sunday

P.V. Sindhu’s father P.V. Ramana

“I want to thank the Government of India, Sports Authority of India and I am grateful to them for giving her the encouragement. I am happy that she has won a medal for the country. Playing the bronze medal match can be painful, yesterday I motivated her a lot, thank God, with the blessings of everyone, she has brought a medal. I am happy that she is the first Indian woman to win two consecutive medals at the Olympics. She has brought name and fame to the country,” Sindhu’s father Ramana told reporters here at a press conference.“Yesterday, I told her that you have given your best, just think you are giving me a gift and play on the court. She had tears in her eyes, good that she has recovered and come back. Overall, she was very aggressive on the court, I just told her to keep attacking,” he added.

Sindhu’s father also revealed that Sindhu would be coming to Delhi on August 3 and he plans to go to the national capital to receive her daughter.“I told her that I’ll come to Delhi, I think she is coming to Delhi on August 3. Olympics is not a small event where you get a medal, a medal is a medal. I am happy with the way she has worked. I am confident she will play next Olympics also. We have to get as many medals to the country. Sindhu is focused and she has that hunger. She enjoys the game. Sindhu is 26, with age you get more experience. I have seen that in the entire Tokyo Olympics,” said Ramana.Sindhu defeated Bing Jiao 21-13, 21-15 in the bronze medal match that lasted for 52 minutes. Sindhu had earlier returned with a silver medal at the Rio Olympics 2016.

The 26-year-old Sindhu is now just the second Indian athlete to win two individual Olympic medals. Wrestler Sushil Kumar also has two medals as he returned with a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics 2008 and a silver at the London Olympics 2012.

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India men’s hockey team reach Olympics semis after 4 decades

India men’s hockey team defeated Great Britain 3-1 on Sunday.

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India men’s hockey team on Sunday reached the semi-final of the Olympics for the first time in 41 years as the team defeated Great Britain 3-1 to reach the semi-finals of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.

A semi-final berth had eluded the Indian men’s hockey team since the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games where the team led by V Baskaran won the eighth Gold medal for India. Coming back to the game, India suffered a blow when skipper Manpreet Singh received a yellow card in the dying minutes, but Hardik scored in the 57th minute to extend India’s lead.

Dilpreet Singh got India off the mark early as he netted a goal in the seventh minute of the match. Simranjeet stole the possession and passed through England’s defenders to Dilpreet who gave India the lead. Gurjant Singh doubled the lead as he scored right at the start of the second quarter.

India maintained the lead and went to the second half of the game with a score of 2-0.

In the third quarter, Sam Ward gave Great Britain something to play for as he netted a goal in the dying minutes of the essay. Great Britain won three back-to-back penalty corners and finally converted the last one into the goal.Despite the goal, India went into the fourth and final quarter with a lead of 2-1 with a thrilling essay on cards for both sides.

In the final quarter, Great Britain tried hard to score a goal after breaching the Indian defence.

The side even won a penalty corner but PR Sreejesh made a fine save to keep India on top. Hardik scored in the closing stages as India defeated Great Britain 3-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics. The team will face Belgium in the semis.

British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis congratulated the Indian men’s hockey team after it defeated Great Britain in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics .

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