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Nadal battles into fourth round in Madrid; faces Lehecka next

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Madrid, April 30 (IANS) Five-time champion Rafael Nadal continued his comeback from injury at the Madrid Open when he progressed to the fourth round in the Caja Magica.

The Spaniard battled past Pedro Cachin 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 to reach the fourth round at a tour-level event for the first time since 2022.

Nadal found himself ensnared in a battle of wits with Argentina’s Cachin. After waltzing his way through the first set, the Mallorcan was forced to endure a marathon that surpassed the three-hour mark. However, whenever his game abandoned him the Spaniard refused to back down.

After dropping the second set, Nadal found extra whip and power off the forehand wing in the decider, while he looked physically strong to secure a hard-fought victory after three hours and four minutes.

The 37-year-old is competing in his third tournament of the year, having lost in the second round in Barcelona last week. With his victory against World No. 91 Cachin, Nadal improved his clay-court record against players outside the Top 50 in the ATP Rankings to 162-1 since 2005. His only defeat in that 19-year period came against No. 73 Horacio Zeballos in Vina del Mar, according to ATP stats.

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Nadal’s gaze will immediately shift to his next challenge. With barely a day to recover, in the last sixteen at the Caja Magica on Tuesday the Spaniard will meet Czech player Jiri Lehecka.

Nadal holds a 59-14 tournament record in Madrid and will aim to reach his 10th consecutive quarterfinal in the Spanish capital when he plays Lehecka.

–IANS

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Euros and Copa America fever spreads in football-mad pockets of cricket-crazy India

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Euro 2024 and Copa America are both underway as the hype and excitement to watch, the biggest stars of world football representing their respective countries, has already begun to spread throughout India like wildfire.

A country that has historically adopted cricket as its main sport is not that far behind in football when it comes to passion. Fans are regularly seen at screenings in hotspots in various major cities while repping their favourite team’s jersey. Here’s a deeper dive into the rooted fixations that fans from all over the country have for their favourite players.

“In Kolkata, people are traditionally more of a FIFA World Cup and South American football fans. People are majorly neutral about European nations unless it’s Brazil, Argentina, or other South American powerhouses,” told a passionate football lover from Kolkata to IANS.

If one has to look for football fans in our country, then one would have to look no further than Kolkata, the city that breathes football. The fans went on to talk about the love the people have because of their roots and historical connection to such countries.

“With that said, there are parts of Kolkata where people are mad about England because of the colonial regime. There is a place called Bow Barracks where Anglo-Indians support the English, Dutch, and Scots because of their European roots. If you look on the outskirts of Kolkata, you will find your actual goldmine in Euro Football.

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“There is a place called Chandannagar in Hooghly district, the locals support France because the locality was under French rule until the independence of India. The Churches, Chapels, and a French diaspora help it to boost the French connections there,” added the die-hard Mohun Bagan supporter.

In previous editions of the Euros, Copa Americas, and the World Cups, social media has heavily highlighted the unreal passion that is on display by fans from Kerala. The 40-foot cutouts of Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar went viral not just in India but across the globe as FIFA also applauded the dedication and passion of the home fans.

“Here in Kerala, the fan bases for European teams are quite fragmented. This contrasts with the Copa America, where there’s a clear and intense rivalry between fans of Brazil and Argentina. That being said, Spain’s national team has significant support in Kerala, particularly due to their era of dominance and the magical style of play characterised by players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and David Villa.

“Their brand of technical, possession-based football (tiki-taka) has created a lasting affection for the team. I would say that the love for La Liga, especially for teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona has contributed to the support for the Spanish national side. The Portugal team also enjoys a massive following among the mallu youth, mainly because of their love for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been the poster boy for the Portuguese side for quite a few years,” a football fan hailing from Kerala told IANS.

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When it comes to recent times, the focal point of the sports events in the country has slowly transitioned from places like Kolkata and Mumbai to Ahmedabad. The city is filled with passionate football fans and one spoke fondly about the love that the city has for Ronaldo.

“I remember back in the day, we used to have a CR7 club in Ahmedabad. And I vividly remember how they took to the streets after Portugal won in 2016. 2021 was the year of COVID but I can guarantee you this year, places like TopSpin (club) will be packed especially when Portugal play. And given this is Ronaldo’s last Euros, who knows if he goes on to win it then the underground community of CR7 lovers will definitely have a little stroll past the Sabarmati Riverfront at night,” a Real Madrid fan and resident of Ahmedabad told IANS.

Messi and Ronaldo have been the epicentre of world football for the past two decades. The ongoing Euros have been a stepping stone that has displayed amazing talent from youngsters in the likes of Yamine Lamal and Jamal Musiala. One particular fan discussed his bond with the hosts of the 2024 Euros and how he watches the games despite being away from his home as he is currently studying in Punjab.

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“I have been a huge admirer of German football since 2010, and watching them go from Schweinsteiger and Muller to now Musiala and Wirtz has been nothing short of a crazy experience. The good part is that I am not alone, people here in Punjab are mad about football too. The excitement during the Euros is very visible here, with match screenings being set up in every possible corner of the town. It felt like an occasion during the 2022 World Cup when artists came to perform on screenings before the semifinals or the final, and I expect nothing less during the Euros.

“The local grounds are booked to capacity with a screen set up right in the middle of the ground, which makes sure the vibes are immaculate, and I expect nothing less. The arrangements plus the ample space in front of it make it the place to be during a match. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that it is very similar to the famous Boxpark in London,” said the admirer of German football to IANS.

Indian football fans over the years have grown accustomed to foreign fans trolling and questioning their dedication to international football but despite having to watch matches at ungodly hours and living in a country where cricket dominates all sporting discussions, the footballing fraternity has built a strong and unbreakable community to express their love for the beautiful game.

–IANS

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Football: Euro and Copa America fever spreads like wildfire through cricket crazy India

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) The Euro 2024 and Copa America are both underway as the hype and excitement to watch, the biggest stars of world football representing their respective countries, has already begun to spread throughout India like wildfire.

A country that has historically adopted cricket as its main sport is not that far behind in football when it comes to passion. Fans are regularly seen at screenings in hotspots in various major cities while repping their favourite team’s jersey. Here’s a deeper dive into the rooted fixations that fans from all over the country have for their favourite players.

“In Kolkata, people are traditionally more of a FIFA World Cup and South American football fans. People are majorly neutral about European nations unless it’s Brazil, Argentina, or other South American powerhouses,” told a passionate football lover from Kolkata to IANS.

If one has to look for football fans in our country, then one would have to look no further than Kolkata, the city that breathes football. The fans went on to talk about the love the people have because of their roots and historical connection to such countries.

“With that said, there are parts of Kolkata where people are mad about England because of the colonial regime. There is a place called Bow Barracks where Anglo-Indians support the English, Dutch, and Scots because of their European roots. If you look on the outskirts of Kolkata, you will find your actual goldmine in Euro Football.

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“There is a place called Chandannagar in Hooghly district, the locals support France because the locality was under French rule until the independence of India. The Churches, Chapels, and a French diaspora help it to boost the French connections there,” added the die-hard Mohun Bagan supporter.

In previous editions of the Euros, Copa Americas, and the World Cups, social media has heavily highlighted the unreal passion that is on display by fans from Kerala. The 40-foot cutouts of Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar went viral not just in India but across the globe as FIFA also applauded the dedication and passion of the home fans.

“Here in Kerala, the fan bases for European teams are quite fragmented. This contrasts with the Copa America, where there’s a clear and intense rivalry between fans of Brazil and Argentina. That being said, Spain’s national team has significant support in Kerala, particularly due to their era of dominance and the magical style of play characterised by players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and David Villa.

“Their brand of technical, possession-based football (tiki-taka) has created a lasting affection for the team. I would say that the love for La Liga, especially for teams like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona has contributed to the support for the Spanish national side. The Portugal team also enjoys a massive following among the mallu youth, mainly because of their love for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been the poster boy for the Portuguese side for quite a few years,” a football fan hailing from Kerala told IANS.

ALSO READ:  India's trap shooters unlikely to be in the mix for Olympic quotas in Doha

When it comes to recent times, the focal point of the sports events in the country has slowly transitioned from places like Kolkata and Mumbai to Ahmedabad. The city is filled with passionate football fans and one spoke fondly about the love that the city has for Ronaldo.

“I remember back in the day, we used to have a CR7 club in Ahmedabad. And I vividly remember how they took to the streets after Portugal won in 2016. 2021 was the year of COVID but I can guarantee you this year, places like TopSpin (club) will be packed especially when Portugal play. And given this is Ronaldo’s last Euros, who knows if he goes on to win it then the underground community of CR7 lovers will definitely have a little stroll past the Sabarmati Riverfront at night,” a Real Madrid fan and resident of Ahmedabad told IANS.

Messi and Ronaldo have been the epicentre of world football for the past two decades. The ongoing Euros have been a stepping stone that has displayed amazing talent from youngsters in the likes of Yamine Lamal and Jamal Musiala. One particular fan discussed his bond with the hosts of the 2024 Euros and how he watches the games despite being away from his home as he is currently studying in Punjab.

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“I have been a huge admirer of German football since 2010, and watching them go from Schweinsteiger and Muller to now Musiala and Wirtz has been nothing short of a crazy experience. The good part is that I am not alone, people here in Punjab are mad about football too. The excitement during the Euros is very visible here, with match screenings being set up in every possible corner of the town. It felt like an occasion during the 2022 World Cup when artists came to perform on screenings before the semifinals or the final, and I expect nothing less during the Euros.

“The local grounds are booked to capacity with a screen set up right in the middle of the ground, which makes sure the vibes are immaculate, and I expect nothing less. The arrangements plus the ample space in front of it make it the place to be during a match. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that it is very similar to the famous Boxpark in London,” said the admirer of German football to IANS.

Indian football fans over the years have grown accustomed to foreign fans trolling and questioning their dedication to international football but despite having to watch matches at ungodly hours and living in a country where cricket dominates all sporting discussions, the footballing fraternity has built a strong and unbreakable community to express their love for the beautiful game.

–IANS

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3rd ODI: Priya, Shreyanka come in as SA opt to bat first against India

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Bengaluru, June 23 (IANS) Top-order batter Priya Punia and off-spin all-rounder Shreyanka Patil come in for India as South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first in the third women’s ODI at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.

India have a 2-0 unpassable lead in the series and a win for them on Sunday will confirm their clean sweep over South Africa. The Proteas women did run India close in a run-fest second ODI on June 19, but fell short of a victory by four runs in pursuit of chasing 326, where Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Marizanne Kapp and Laura Wolvaardt slammed centuries.

For Sunday’s match, which is still worth ten ICC Women’s Championship points, left-arm seamerTumi Sekhukhune replaces pacer Masabata Klaas, while Sinalo Jafta remains ruled out due to a mild concussion.

For India, Priya makes a return to the playing eleven after last playing in the format against Bangladesh in 2023, and replaces Dayalan Hemalatha.

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On the other hand, hometown favourite Shreyanka replaces leg-spinner Asha Sobhana, with the match to be played on the pitch used for the ODI series opener last week.

Playing XIs

India: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Priya Punia, Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Jemimah Rodrigues, Richa Ghosh (wicketkeeper), Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav, Arundhati Reddy and Shreyanka Patil

South Africa: Laura Wolvaardt (captain), Tazmin Brits, Anneke Bosch, Sune Luus, Marizanne Kapp, Nadine de Klerk, Nondumiso Shangase, Mieke de Ridder (wicketkeeper), Tumi Sekhukhune, Nonkululeko Mlaba and Ayabonga Khaka

–IANS

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Bajrang Punia again suspended by NADA for anti-doping rule violation: Report

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia has received a formal “notice of charge” from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for refusing to provide a urine sample. As a result, a multiple World Championships medallist, has once again been provisionally suspended by NADA, says a report.

Last month, Punia was provisionally suspended after he refused to provide his urine sample to NADA during the selection trials in Sonepat on March 10.

According to the Tribune report, “the latest order was issued by NADA on Thursday and he has been asked to respond to the latest suspension by July 11”.

Following reports of his inital provisional suspension order, the wrestler had clarified that he never “refused to give his sample” and requested NADA officials for a response about the expired kit which they had sent to collect his sample.

Later, Anti Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADAP) revoked the 30-year-old wrestler’s suspension, citing that NADA had not formally charged Bajrang for the anti-doping rule violation that allegedly took place in March this year.

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–IANS

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T20 World Cup: 'Knew conditions well, tried to vary my pace & length', says Kuldeep

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North Sound (Antigua), June 23 (IANS) After his superb 3-19 played a key role in India’s comprehensive 50-run win over Bangladesh in their second Super Eights game of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav said he knew conditions well and was focused on varying his pace and length in outclassing batters.

Kuldeep had made his international white-ball debut in the Caribbean in 2017 and after not playing Group A matches in pace-friendly New York, he was brought back for the Super Eights, where he has now taken five wickets across two games.

“I was helping out the team-mates and carrying the drinks (in New York). That is more like playing as a 12th man. I would have loved to bowl there. But it’s more like an Australian sort of wicket.

“But here I made my T20 (and) ODI debut back in 2017. I knew the conditions very well, just the length and trying to vary my pace. So it’s perfect for spinners to come here and bowl,” said Kuldeep in the post-match press conference.

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Against Bangladesh, Kuldeep bowled a wonderful spell on a pitch having bounce and bit of grip to trap Tanzid Hasan lbw on the back leg via a stunning googly. He then got a leg-break to turn in slightly to go past a slog-sweeping Towhid Hridoy and trap him lbw. He completed his three-fer by forcing Shakib Al Hasan to mistime a loft to cover.

“It’s very important to play every game, take every game as a normal game. Now obviously we playing at Super Eight, obviously we have a lot of pressure as well. We’re going to play Australia in a couple of days’ time.

“The wickets are good for spinners, as you have seen in the last few games as well. Nothing changes. I’ve got four overs to bowl and that was my plan. Just sticking with the length and varying my pace. For me it’s nice,” added Kuldeep.

He also touched upon that despite the cross breeze challenging his bowling from the Sir Andy Roberts End, it was important for him to nail his lengths and read what the batters might do, instead about thinking how wind can hamper him.

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“It was difficult from this end as a spinner because my rhythm is like, not like running rhythm, it’s more like a one step and then aggressive. I didn’t think about the wind, just the length matters. And obviously reading the batter what they are expecting from me, just reading one step ahead, what they are thinking.

“So just keeping this in mind and changing the line and length, and obviously they were targeting the windy side, and just reacting to what they are doing. When the other team needs 10 runs or 12 runs per over and the batter’s going against you my plan is to just stick with the length.

“Obviously when they try to attack you, if you have a proper plan against them and you are bowling in probably the better length, you have maximum chances of getting the batter out. So that is my thinking, not thinking I have to get him out, just the length,” he concluded.

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–IANS

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