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Wimbledon 2024: Paolini outlasts Vekic in record-breaking semifinal

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Wimbledon 2024: Paolini outlasts Vekic in record-breaking semifinal

London, July 11 (IANS) Italy’s Jasmine Paolini battled from a set down and twice a break down in the decider to outlast Donna Vekic in three sets in the longest semifinal-ever in women’s singles at Wimbledon here on Thursday. Paolini, the No.7 seed, defeated Vekic 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) in 2 hours and 51 minutes to become the first Italian woman to reach the final at Wimbledon in the Open Era.

The previous longest Wimbledon semifinal had been Serena Williams’s 6-7(4), 7-5, 8-6 defeat of Elena Dementieva in 2009, a contest which lasted 2 hours and 49 minutes.

Around 15 years on, Paolini held her first match point at 5-4 in the third set and her second at 6-5 before edging Vekic on her third in a gripping super-tiebreak. The result was her third win in four meetings with Vekic.

The runner-up at Roland Garros a month ago to Iga Swiatek, Paolini has immediately backed up that run with her second major final. The 28-year-old is the first player since Serena in 2016 to reach both the French Open and Wimbledon finals in the same season.

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Paolini is only the fifth player to accomplish that feat in the past 25 years following Steffi Graf (1999), Serena Williams (2002, 2015, 2016), Venus Williams (2002), and Justine Henin (2006).

Having never won a tour-level match on grass before 2024, Paolini’s record on the surface is now 8-1, with her sole loss coming to Daria Kasatkina in the Eastbourne semifinals two weeks ago. Currently, at a career-high ranking of No.7, she is guaranteed to make her Top 5 debut next week.

–IANS

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Sub-jr Men, Women West Zone Hockey: M.P, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh win on Day 1

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Sub-jr Men, Women West Zone Hockey: M.P, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh win on Day 1

Sub-jr Men, Women West Zone Hockey: M.P, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh win on Day 1

Surat, July 23 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh scored comprehensive victories in their respective matches in the women’s category, while Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra won in the men’s category on the opening day of the 2nd Hockey India Sub-junior Men & Women West Zone Championship 2024 here on Tuesday.

Hockey Madhya Pradesh began the Zonal Championship with a 13-0 victory against Goans Hockey in the Women’s category at Veer Narmad South Gujarat University Hockey Ground. The goal-scorers for Madhya Pradesh were Sajeda Begum (3’, 25’, 37’), Bhabar Keshar (5’), Captain Tanvi (19’, 21’, 23’, 34’, 52’), Hirva Purohit (22’), Ekta Jakhodiya (23’), Aqsa Khan (47’), and Geethasri Nammi (53’).

In the second match, Maharashtra registered a 4-2 win against Rajasthan in the women’s category. Rawat Anvi (10’, 53’) opened the account for Maharashtra but a quick brace from Lamoria Salini (19’, 25’) turned the table in Rajasthan’s favour.

Hockey Maharashtra fought back through goals from captain Yashasvi Prakash Kubde (25’, 44’) and Rawat Anvi to secure a comeback victory.

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Chhattisgarh Hockey defeated Hockey Gujarat 14-1 in the women’s category in the third match of the day. Naina (5’, 10’, 38’), Shyamlee Ray (8’, 40’), Dubee Rawat (24’, 46’, 53’, 56’), Sidar Madhu (26’, 44’, 50’), and Maurya Priyanshi (48’, 60’) got on the scoresheet for Chhattisgarh Hockey while Captain Ghadge Komal (9’) scored the lone goal for Hockey Gujarat.

The men’s category commenced with Chhattisgarh beating Goans Hockey 11-1. Sahu Piyush Kumar (24’, 37’, 39’, 45’, 46’, 49’, 55’) led the goalscoring efforts for Chhattisgarh. He was joined on the scoresheet by Avi Manikpuri (27’, 36’), Kujur Pritam (27’), and Om Kumar Yadav (42’). Gaonkar Ansh Ankush (59’) managed to score a consolation goal for Goans Hockey towards the end of the match.

The last match of the day saw Maharashtra defeat Rajasthan 3-1 in the men’s category. Vijkape Dnyaneshkumar (7’, 38’) and Thakur Siddharth Sachin (60’) scored for Maharashtra while the only goal for Rajasthan was scored by captain Amit Singh (13’).

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–IANS

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Women's Asia Cup: Harmanpreet, Pooja rested as India opt to bat first against Nepal

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Women's Asia Cup: Harmanpreet, Pooja rested as India opt to bat first against Nepal

Women's Asia Cup: Harmanpreet, Pooja rested as India opt to bat first against Nepal

Dambulla, July 23 (IANS) India stand-in captain Smriti Mandhana won the toss and opted to bat first against Nepal in a Group A match of the Women’s Asia Cup here on Tuesday. India have rested regular skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and pacer Pooja Vastrakar for the encounter. S. Sajana and Arundhati Reddy come in for the duo in India’s playing 11.

“We’d like to bat first today. In the last few years, T20 cricket has changed. It’s a collective effort, we’ve looked to take on whatever is in our range. The outfields are quick, the tracks are flat, and sometimes even 200 isn’t enough. We’ll look to trust our process and look to bat. 180 will be great, it’s about playing one ball at a time. Harman and Pooja are resting,” Mandhana said at the toss.

On the other hand, Nepal captain Indu Barma confirmed two changes in her team.

“We are ready for both. We have some youngsters who are keen to get into the contest. We are ready for every challenge; we look to give our 100%. We have two changes,” she said.

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Playing XIs:

India Women: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana(c), Dayalan Hemalatha, Jemimah Rodrigues, Richa Ghosh(w), Deepti Sharma, S Sajana, Radha Yadav, Tanuja Kanwar, Renuka Thakur Singh, Arundhati Reddy.

Nepal Women: Samjhana Khadka, Sita Rana Magar, Kabita Kunwar, Indu Barma (c), Dolly Bhatta, Rubina Chhetry, Puja Mahato, Kabita Joshi, Kajal Shrestha(w), Sabnam Rai, Bindu Rawal.

–IANS

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Paris Olympics: 'We are confident about our chances', says archer Deepika Kumari

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Paris Olympics: 'We are confident about our chances', says archer Deepika Kumari

Paris Olympics: 'We are confident about our chances', says archer Deepika Kumari

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) India’s ace archer Deepika Kumari is confident of the team’s chances in the Paris Olympics. She said clear communication in tough situations will benefit them in the quadrennial event. Indian archers will compete in all five medal events in Paris: men’s and women’s teams, individual, and mixed categories.

The women’s team boasts exceptional talent including the 2022 Asian Games bronze medallists Ankita Bhakat and Bhajan Kaur, apart from Deepika.

“The strength of any team lies in its communication and combination. It’s essential to support each other in various situations. We talk a lot and discuss how to handle different scenarios. Clear communication, especially in tough situations, is a huge strength for us. We are confident about our chances at the Olympics,” Deepika said on JioCinema’s ‘The Dreamers’.

Bhakat, who is fulfilling a lifelong dream of competing in the Olympics, expressed her confidence in the team’s progress.

“Since I started archery, I have always dreamt of playing in the Olympics. Now, that dream is coming true. In past World Cups, we rarely played podium matches, but this time it’s different. We learned from our early setbacks and improved significantly. Our performance has been consistently better in each competition, and I believe we will perform well at the Olympics,” Bhakat stated.

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She emphasised the importance of self-belief, adding, “I know what level of performance I’m capable of. When I give my 100%, the medal will surely follow.”

Bhajan echoed Bhakat’s sentiments, stressing on the importance of continuous improvement and giving their best effort. “My performance at the second World Cup was much better than the first one, so I started feeling victorious about my progress since the first World Cup,” said Kaur.

“Whenever we go for a tournament, we focus on giving our best, no matter the magnitude of the tournament. Our aim is to leave no stones unturned for the Olympics as well and we are confident that we will return from Paris with a medal.”

Bhakat also pointed out the invaluable experience of having a veteran like Deepika Kumari in the team. “It’s a great advantage that Deepika is going to the Olympics for the fourth time. She understands the challenges we might face in Paris,” she explained.

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Bhajan added, “Deepika’s experience, along with Ankita’s, is our biggest strength. They help us understand and rectify any issues in our game. Our ability to communicate and support each other is crucial.”

Deepika, one of India’s most decorated archers, has been a beacon of excellence in the sport. The former World No.1 archer has won medals in World Cups, Asian Championships, the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships, and the Asian Games.

–IANS

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Head coach Gambhir takes charge as Indian players hit the ground in Pallekele

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Head coach Gambhir takes charge as Indian players hit the ground in Pallekele

Head coach Gambhir takes charge as Indian players hit the ground in Pallekele

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Newly-appointed head coach Gautam Gambhir has taken official charge of the Indian team as the players assembled in Pallekele on Tuesday for the first training session in Sri Lanka ahead of the limited-overs series. Suryakumar Yadav-led Indian team reached Pallekele on Monday for the upcoming three-match T20I series, followed by three ODIs. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared a video of India’s first practice session in Pallekele on their official X account.

“Head Coach Gautam Gambhir Takes Charge!” BCCI captioned the post.

In the video, Gambhir was seen watching players closely and giving some valuable batting tips to wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson.

Before leaving for the island nation, Gambhir addressed his first press conference with chief selector Ajit Agarkar, who revealed the reason behind the appointment of Suryakumar as the T20I captain over all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

“He is one of the deserving candidates. He is one of the best T20 batters in the world. We wanted a captain who was likely to play all the games. We will see how he will do,” Agarkar told the reporters.

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“As far as Hardik is concerned, he is still a very important player. And that’s what we want him to be. Fitness has been a challenge for him over the last few years…Then it becomes difficult for the coach or selectors. I think Surya has the necessary qualities to succeed as a captain,” he added.

The first T20I between India and Sri Lanka will be played in Pallekele on Saturday.

India T20I Squad: Suryakumar Yadav (C), Ꮪhubman Gill (VC), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rinku Singh, Riyan Parag, Rishabh Pant (WK), Sanju Samson (WK), Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohd. Siraj.

–IANS

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Women’s Asia Cup: Pakistan inch closer to semis spot with 10-wicket win over UAE

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Women’s Asia Cup: Pakistan inch closer to semis spot with 10-wicket win over UAE

Women’s Asia Cup: Pakistan inch closer to semis spot with 10-wicket win over UAE

Dambulla, July 23 (IANS) Pakistan Women’s completed a dominating ten-wicket victory over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) side to proceed closer to the semifinals of the Women’s Asia Cup at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium.

This was the first-ever ten-wicket victory for any team in the history of the Women’s Asia Cup.

The Pakistani spinners took full advantage of the conditions in the subcontinent and turned the game away from the UAE batters in the first innings of the game taking seven of the eight wickets that fell. Despite a valiant 40-run knock by opening batter Theertha Satish, the wicketkeeper-batter was heavily let down by her teammates with the second-highest scorer being skipper Esha Oza who scored 16 runs.

Sadia Iqbal, Nashra Sandhu and Tuba Hassan all contributed with two wickets each to their name and restricted their Middle Eastern opponents to just 103 runs setting up a comfortable chase.

Pakistan-W opening batters Gull Feroza and Muneeba Ali once again did not put up a foot wrong as the opening pair took their partnership to cross the 100-run milestone for a second consecutive game. Feroza scored the grunt of the runs with 62* and was supported well by Ali 37* to claim the ten-wicket victory.

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Pakistan has virtually qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament. Their progression will only be confirmed after the India-W vs Nepal-W game late in the evening on Tuesday, however, it is highly unlikely that they miss out given their superior run rate compared to the Nepal side.

“I talked to the batting unit regarding batting intent. Against India, we didn’t execute the plans well. But we got down about the plans with batting. Sometimes it’s a plan, sometimes it’s about giving the others chances [on being introduced late into the attack],” said Pakistan-W captain Nida Dar in the post-game interview.

“Every game is a learning experience. When you have such a short tournament, it’s important you put your best foot [forward]… Assessing the pitch, 140 or 150 would have been a great score. We created the opportunities; it was about grabbing them. It’s a great experience. Our team has grown quite a bit. We’ve only grown,” added UAE captain Oza.

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Brief score:

United Arab Emirates 103/8 in 20 overs (Theertha Satish 40, Sadia Iqbal 2-11, Tuba Hassan 2-17) lost to Pakistan 107/0 in 14.1 overs (Gull Feroza 62 not out, Muneeba Ali 37 not out) by 10 wickets.

–IANS

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