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Friday 18 March 2011

The Morung Express SPORTS Marion Bartoli battles into Spirited Somdev goes Indian Wells semi-finals

down fighting to Nadal INDIAN WELLS, MARCH 17 (REUTERS): Indian qualifier Somdev Devvarman ended a dream run at the Indian Wells ATP tournament on Wednesday on a high, despite losing 5-7, 4-6 to world number one Rafa Nadal in the fourth round. Devvarman has long admired the Spanish left-hander and he endeared himself to the evening crowd at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden with a plucky display against Nadal, especially in the opening set. “After the first couple of games, I felt normal ... like I was just out there playing a match,” the 26-year-old from Assam told reporters after becoming the first Indian to reach the fourth round of the elite ATP Masters 1000 event. “I didn’t think about who I was facing. I started out well, too, so I felt very comfortable on the court. “I was excited to play and the best part is I had played good tennis leading into this match. It was a great experience to play the number one player in the world in one of the biggest stadiums in the world.” The Indian world number 84, who is based in Texas, broke the Spaniard in the first game of the match and forced two break points in the 11th before losing the first set in just over an hour. Nadal, who began poorly by his usual standards, raised his performance in the second before sealing victory in the decisive 10th game where he broke Devvarman’s serve with a sublime forehand pass.

pleased by the way I competed. I wasn’t overawed by the situation or the guy I was playing against. “You only get a couple opportunities to play these kinds of players,” added Devvarman, who upset 19th-seeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 7-5, 6-0 in the second round. While disappointed with his sub-par display in the opening set, Nadal applauded the Indian’s run to the fourth round. “For sure, he did well and had a very good tournament,” the Spaniard said. “He had a very, very good victory over Xavier Malisse (in the third round) and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season.” Nadal was brutally honest in assessing his own form on the night. “I played really bad, especially in the beginning,” the 24-year-old said. “I wasn’t able to play aggressive with my forehand. “I was playing much better in the second set. For sure not perfect, but you have to come back after a terrible first set and (with) the mental situation is difficult to change a lot. “The second set was correct, it wasn’t a bad second set. That’s the most positive thing. I played much better in the end of the match than in the beginning.”

Marion Bartoli shrugged off a stomach bug to reach the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over former world number one Ana Ivanovic

Bopanna-Qureshi pair in Indian Wells semis

INDIAN WELLS, MARCH 17 (PTI):TheRohan Bopanna-Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi juggernaut continued to roll in the ATP BNP Paribas OpenastheIndo-Pakpairadvancedtothesemifinals with a straight-set triumph over Serbs Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki here. Bopanna andQureshitriumphed6-17-6(5)overtheSerbs yesterday to set up a clash with the Spanish-Canadian combination of Feliciano Lopez and Milos Raonic. The Indo-Pak pair, which upstaged thirdseedsLeanderPaesandMahesh Bhupathi in the previous match, raced away with the opening set very easily after breaking Djokovic and Troicki twice. But the second set was stifflycontested. Both the teams held serves, failing to convert any of the break chances they earned. The issue was settled in the tie breaker in which Bopanna and Qureshi held their nerves to emerge triumphant.

Marion Bartoli of France, returns a shot to Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, during a match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. on March 16. (AP Photo)

INDIAN WELLS, CALIF, MARCH 17 (AGENCIES):The Frenchwoman, at 26 the oldest player left in the draw, won three consecutive games to STRIKING GOLD claim an error-strewn first “I had my chances,” set in California. She ended the match by clinching the said the Indian, who struck second set tie-break 7-4 with gold in the men’s singles at an overhead smash into an last year’s Commonwealth open court. “I’m super-excitGames in Delhi. “I played ed and so happy to be in the my way to a point where I semi-finals,” said Bartoli. felt like I had opportuniThe 15th seed was handties to win the first set. I was ed a place in the last eight when Belgian second seed Kim Clijsters retired durSomdev Devvarman of India reacts to a shot by Rafael Nadal of Spain during ing the second set of their a match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., encounter the previous day Wednesday, March 16. Nadal won 7-5, 6-4. (AP Photo) with a shoulder injury. But

Bartoli thought her luck had run out on Wednesday when she was unable to eat anything for breakfast. “I slept before my match because I was really feeling sick,” she said. “I went on court and at the beginning, the weather was not that hot, so it kind of helped me. “But then it started to feel really hot and then in the end of the first set I was definitely not feeling very good. “I was taking a lot of time between the points, walking very slowly. “I really took the bit of energy I still have in my body to try to save it. I knew I had to finish in two sets, because three would

have been very difficult.” There were eight breaks of serve in a wildly fluctuating second set before Bartoli, renowned for her two-handed play on both sides, took control in the tie-break. “To be able to still win these kinds of matches against a player as good as Ana, it means a lot to me,” added the former Wimbledon finalist. Ivanovic, Indian Wells champion in 2008 and runner-up in 2009, had been aiming to reach her first WTA semi-final of the year. Bartoli, who is chasing a sixth WTA title, will face Clijsters’ compatriot Yanina Wickmayer for a place in the final.

Wasteful Chelsea move into quarterfinals

LONDON, MARCH 17 (AFP): Chelsea booked their place in the Champions League quarterfinals despite wasting a host of chances in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against Copenhagen in the last 16 second leg match at Stamford Bridge. Carlo Ancelotti’s side went through 2-0 on aggregate and their first leg victory in Denmark meant they were never likely to rue some woeful finishing. But far sterner tests lie in wait on the road to Wembley and there will have to be a significant improvement if the Blues are to reach the final. After three successive wins, Ancelotti must be concerned that his team returned to the kind of flawed display that has been the hallmark of Chelsea’s inconsistent campaign. Ancelotti did not seem at all concerned that his strikers have scored just twice in the six matches since signing Fernando Torres for £50million. “We didn’t need to score to-

night in any case as we had already won 2-0,” said the Italian. “We had a lot of opportunities, I think it was 24 shots, and didn’t take them but I am not worried.” Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech said that he believed the side were back on track after a worrying dip in form earlier in the season. “All we were missing tonight were goals,” said the Czech Republic star. “But the job was done and we kept a clean sheet. “We are in a good position now, we are in the quarterfinals and we are confident as we have a lot of experience. “We have come through our difficult period and I think we are stronger for that.” Nicolas Anelka’s brace in the first leg had put Chelsea within touching distance of the last eight and Ancelotti clearly felt the job was all but done as he left Torres, Michael Essien and Florent Malouda on the bench. Chelsea had lost just one Chelsea’s Ashley Cole, shoots at goal as FC Copenhagen’s Oscar Wedt blocks the shot, during a Champions League, of their previous 25 home round of 16, second leg soccer match at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London on March 16.(AP Photo)

Silver Cup T20 Cricket Tournament from April 4 DIMAPUR, MARCH 17 (MExN): The 2nd Silver Cup T20 Cricket Tournament organized by the Youth Department of Nepali Baptist Church, Kohima will be held from April 4 at Kohima local ground. This is one of the highest prize money Cricket tournaments in the State and is open for all interested Cricket teams and clubs from any part of the state and beyond. The champions will receive cash award of Rs. 45,000 while runners-up will pocket Rs. 20,000 with trophies and certificates. Individual prizes in the categories - Player of the Tournament, Best Bowler, Best Batsman, Best Wicket Keeper and Man of Series will also be given out with cash award, trophy and citation while Man of Match will also be given in every match, informed the secretary of organizing committee Robi Thapa in a press note. The note also stated that interested teams from can collect the entry forms from the following shops: Kohima – Sports World, Opp. Bank of Baroda and Café Inn, High School junction; Dimapur: Universal Sports, Nyamo Lotha Road. The forms can be submitted at the same places while the last date of submission of entry forms along with entry fees of Rs. 4000 is March 26, 2011. For further information and necessary clarification kindly contact: Organizing Committee Convener – 9436077633, Secretary– 9774416162 or Member – 9856203781.

Benzema strikes again as Real end last 16 jinx

MADRID, MARCH 17 (AFP): Real Madrid put their recent European woes behind them to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the first time since 2004 with a comfortable 3-0 win over Lyon on Wednesday. Real had crashed out at the last 16 stage of the Champions League for six successive seasons, but new coach Jose Mourinho brought an end to that jinx. Goals from Marcelo, Lyon old boy Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria secured victory as Madrid progressed 4-1 on aggregate. Brazilian full-back Marcelo scored his first Champions League goal on 37 minutes to break the deadlock, before Benzema netted his sixth goal of the competition on 65 minutes against his hometown club. Argentine di Maria added a third on 76 minutes as Real took revenge on Lyon, who defeated them at this stage last season, and keep alive their hopes of a first Champions League title since 2002. Mourinho, who won the trophy with Inter Milan at the Santiago Bernabeu last season, is looking to provide Real with their 10th European Cup and make history by becoming the first manager to win the Champions League with three different clubs. “We did what the man-

ager wanted and went out to win the game,” said Marcelo. “This victory gives us a lot of confidence and we owed it to the Madrid fans. We are not thinking about who we could get in the next round. We will just wait for the draw and see.” Real welcomed back top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo from injury -- the Portuguese star having missed the last two league games with a thigh problem -- and the world’s most expensive player was thrust into the starting line-up. Lyon had never lost in their three Champions League trips to the Bernabeu but the French visitors knew they would have to score in the Spanish capital after the 1-1 draw in the first leg. Lyon welcomed back striker Lisandro Lopez and Brazilian captain Cris shrugged off a knock to start. Ronaldo tried his luck with a long range free-kick early on but his effort sailed over the crossbar. With four minutes gone Real almost scored but goalkeeper Hugo Lloris raced out to thwart German international Mesut Ozil, who had timed his run to perfection. On 21 minutes Madrid got a real scare when Argentine Cesar Delgado curled a shot towards the bottomright corner but goalkeeper Iker

matches in the Champions League, so it was hardly surprising that Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken admitted his side would need a miracle to go through. The only miracle in the first half was how Chelsea failed to put the tie completely beyond Copenhagen’s reach. Fabio Capello’s move to reappoint John Terry as England skipper in place of Rio Ferdinand was given a resounding endorsement from the Chelsea fans who hailed their defender with chants of “there’s only one England captain”. But Terry had few chances to show his leadership qualities as Copenhagen’s bright pink shirts left more of an impression than the players wearing it. Ancelotti’s side created and then squandered chances from the start, with Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole both shooting wide when they should have at least tested Copenhagen goalkeeper Johan Wiland.

Yuri Zhirkov had an even better chance to open the scoring after Didier Drogba’s clever back-heel and Cole’s pass carved open the Copenhagen defence, but the Russian winger curled his shot wide. After spending 25 minutes penned into their own half, Copenhagen were agonisingly close to taking a shock lead when Dame N’Doye’s whipped free-kick caught Cech moving the wrong way and cannoned to safety off a post. The Danish defence was pierced moments later but Zhirkov was having a night to forget in front of goal and he was off-target from closerange after Anelka crossed from the touch-line. John Obi Mikel had Chelsea’s closest effort when he hit the crossbar after Terry and Anelka flicked on Lampard’s corner. But Chelsea’s profligacy spread to Anelka, who was twice played in by Drogba, only to dwell on the ball and give Copenhagen time to clear the danger.

Casillas got down to palm away. Real responded by upping their game and took the lead on 37 minutes thanks to a fine individual goal from Marcelo. The Brazilian exchanged passes with Ronaldo before surging into the area, cutting back onto his left foot and firing in a shot that deflected off Lloris on its way in. The relief was tangible and Benzema, in fine form with six goals in his last three league outings, was denied by Lloris four minutes later after latching onto a Marcelo cross. Benzema had the ball in the net 60 seconds later with a fine header but was flagged offside. Coach Claude Puel threw on striker Bafetimbi Gomis to give his side more firepower, but it was the hosts who looked the more dangerous, especially from set-pieces. Benzema had a penalty appeal turned down on 63 minutes but shrugged off the disappointment to score three minutes later. A defensive mix-up allowed Benzema a free run on goal and the Frenchman slotted home for his sixth goal in the competition this term. Lyon sensed the game was up and winger di Maria went clean through on goal in the 76th minute before Golden State Warrior girl cheerleaders entertain fans in sarongs as part producing a neat chipped finish to of Bollywood festivities prior to the Dallas Mavericks vs. Golden State complete the scoring. Warriors NBA basketball game on March 16, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo)


Friday 18 March 2011 STRIKING GOLD “I had my chances,” said the Indian, who struck gold in the men’s singles at last year’s Commonwealth Gam...