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Thursday 31 March 2011

The Morung Express

Sharapova beats Dulgheru to reach semis

Maria Sharapova, from Russia, looks down at her ankle after she hurt it during her match against Alexandra Dulgheru at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla., Tuesday, March 29. (AP Photo)

MIAMI, FL, MARCH 30 (AGENCIES): It has been over two years since Maria Sharapova graced the Top 10 but that period will come to an end after this tournament, as the Russian secured a return to the elite with a dramatic 36 76(6) 76(5) win over Alexandra Dulgheru to reach the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open. Sharapova, the No.16 seed at the $4.5-million event, was playing the

No.26-seeded Dulgheru for the first time and had her hands full the entire time, losing the first set and surviving a tight 90-minute second set in which she was down 4-3 and 6-5, as well as two points away from losing at 6-all in the tie-break. The fighting spirit of Sharapova pulled through as the match went to a third, andafterlettinga4-2leadslip away the Russian was again a game away from going out

Paes and Bhupathi in third round at Miami MIAMI, MARCH 30 (AGENCIES): India’s Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi Wednesday entered the men’s doubles third round at the Miami Masters tennis tournament, defeating Spanish pair Marc Lopez and David Marrero 7-6(5) 6-4, here. The third-seeded Indian pair will next meet the winners of the match between Belgian Savier Malisse and Briton John Murray and Frenchman Michael Lodra and Serb Nenad Zimonjic. The third Indian in the doubles draw Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani partner AisamUl-Haq Qureshi will meet in the quarterfinals Austrian Oliver Marach and Janko Serb Tipsarevi, who knocked out topseeded Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, 7-5, 6-4. Marach said it took four years for him to get the better of the Bryan brothers. The Austrian was at the losing end of the court six times against the Bryans. Seventh-seeded Bopanna and Qureshi edged out Slovakian Michal Mertinak and his partner Belgian Dick Norman 7-6(4), 3-6, 10-8 in a second round dogfight Tuesday.

as Dulgheru served for the match at 5-4. Sharapova broke back for 5-all and although she turned her ankle after a serve in that game she still pressed on, eventually pushing it to a tie-break, where her aggression came through and she eventually closed out the three-hour, 28-minute duel with some big hitting. “It was long. It was tough. It was not my best performance, but I gutted it

out until the end,” Sharapova said. “I was making too many errors and my opponent was playing really well and consistent and even though I had the lead, I never took care of it. But at the end of the day I won, so I’m really happy tonight. “Sometimes it takes more than just playing well.” Sharapova commented on the ankle in her post-match presser. “It hurt when I did it. I’ve iced

it a lot, did an ice bath and got it taped. I’ll be okay. I’m tough.” Sharapova is projected to return to the Top 10 given her results here. It will be an amazing 240th week among the elite, her first 239 all coming consecutively between July 5, 2004 (right after she won Wimbledon) until February 1, 2009 (after she was unable to play the Australian Open, where she had won the year before, due to her welldocumented right shoulder injury lay-off). Next for Sharapova is No.21 seed Andrea Petkovic. They are tied in their headto-head series, 1-1, with Sharapova winning handily in Cincinnati last year and Petkovic getting revenge in Australia this year, 62 63. Dulgheru, who had only won one match this year before Miami, was gracious in defeat. “I knew I had to be more aggressive but I just didn’t have the energy after running around so much. My legs were heavy so I didn’t have great position on the court but after three sets, that can be expected. I tried to fight hard. “It’s tennis. I could have won, she could have won. She had some really good shots and we had some great points. All the credit to her - Maria is a great fighter. She can be down 40-0 and come back. It was a good match.” Dulgheru is the second Romanian ever to reach the quarterfinals in Miami, after Irina Spirlea did it in 1997 (Spirlea lost to Monica Seles that year, 36 62 63).

Tops seeds Rafael Nadal, Djokovic roll to Miami wins

MIAMI, MARCH 30 (AGENCIES): The world’s two best players rolled into the quarter-finals of the ATP and WTA Miami Masters, following a two-hour afternoon rain interruption which put Tuesday’s programme well behind schedule. World number one Rafael Nadal lived up to expectations as the Spaniard strives for a first Miami title. The top seed reached the last eight over Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-2 in just 59 minutes. “It was very, very, very humid. That’s why I’m sweating a lot,” said Nadal, who said the long wait in the locker room did not bother him. It was a similar outcome for second seed Novak Djokovic as he won his 21st consecutive match of the season over compatriot and Davis Cup teammate Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-2. Former US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro was at a loss for words after his fourth-round ouster at the hands of American Mardy Fish 7-5, 7-6 (7/5). “It’s difficult to say something now because I just lost a very, very tough match,” said the Argentine. “Maybe in two or three days I can say my level at the moment and what I expect for the future.” Spanish sixth seed David Ferrer beat compatriot Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-2 and South African Kevin Anderson put out American John Isner 6-3, 7-6 (7/4). Number seven Tomas

Rafael Nadal, from Spain, returns the ball to Alexandr Dolgopolov, of Ukraine, at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla. on 29. Nadal won 6-1, 6-2. AP Photo)

Berdych battled to get past German Florian Mayer 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4) and next plays Nadal in a re-run of the 2010 Wimbledon final. There was third-round disappointment for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the French 15th seed was unable to recover in his rain-interrupted match from Monday against Dolgopolov. Dolgopolov finished off the final set to post a 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 7-5 win and set up a date with Nadal. In women’s play, battling Kim Clijsters saved five match points to overhaul Serb Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) to reach the quarters. Ivanovic, a former world number one and French Open champ, led 5-2 in the final set before second seed Clijsters began her fightback.

The Belgian rallied in championship style to earn her place in the last eight of the last hardcourt event prior to the start of the clay campaign. “Because I have been on the tour for many years, you realise that you have to keep trying until the last point is played,” said Clijsters. “In tennis, that’s sometimes probably the frustrating part about it. “It’s never over until that last shot is played. Even if it’s 5-1, Okay, you start a game 0-0. She has to win four points.” The match had been delayed almost 24 hours after rain struck the event on Monday evening, a problem that returned on Tuesday. German hope Andrea Petkovic began fulfilling her promise with an upset of Serbian sixth seed Jelena Jankovic 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Ferguson plays down United Spain unbeaten after seeing off Lithuania treble chance as injuries bite

HARRISON, MARCH 30 (REUTERS): A mounting injury list is looming as the biggest threat to Manchester United’s chances of winning the treble this season, manager Alex Ferguson said on Tuesday. United are on course to win the English Premier League, FA Cup and European Champions League and emulate their feat of 1999 but a spate of injuries to key players is causing problems. “We must have a chance but it’s a very difficult one, more difficult than it’s ever been,” Ferguson told a news conference to announce United’s tour of North America this year. “It’s more difficult than it was in 1999 because in 1999 we

didn’t have an injury through the last three months of the season,” he added. “That kind of luck is, at the moment, deserting us because we have so many injuries, particularly to defenders.” Ferguson admitted he would settle for just one of the trophies. Arsenal are snapping at their heels in the Premier League, United face Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals and Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinals. “Going away from the greed of achieving three trophies, if you win one major a year then you have to be happy with that,” Ferguson said. “If we can win one of those big trophies I’d be delighted.”

6th HASSU Football Running Trophy Wednesday’s results Chumukedima defeated Sugarmil 2-0 Lhomithi beat DEE 2-0 Thilixu defeated Ikishe 2-0 Toluvi beat Mishikito 1-0

Thursday’s Fixture

Chekiye Vs. Valley View 1st QF: Diphupar ‘B’ Vs. Diphupar 2nd QF: Lhomithi Vs. Chumukedima 3rd QF: K. Hollohon Vs. Thilixu

KAUNAS, MARCH 30 (AFP): World and European champions Spain remained unbeaten atop Group I of Euro 2012 qualifying with a 3-1 victory over Lithuania on Tuesday. Goals from Xavi and Juan Manuel Mata sandwiched an own goal by Tadas Kijanskas to hand the Spaniards their fifth win from five games, although the hosts had briefly drawn level with a wonder strike by Marius Stankevicius. “It was important to win today despite the lamentable state of the pitch,” said Spain midfielder Xavi. “It’s just sand, it’s sad to see a pitch like that. You can’t play football here. “But we’re happy. We have a foot and a half in the Euro,” he told Telecinco. “They played on the counter-attack and we tried not to fall into their trap.” All the pre-game talk had been of the poor quality of the pitch, with Spain coach Vicente del Bosque even going as far as saying he would prefer his side not to play the match due to the woeful state of the playing surface. But the two teams seemed unaffected on the pitch, with Spain opening the scoring in the Spain’s Javier Martinez, left, is challenged by Lithuania’s Darvydas 20th minute when Xavi’s dipSernas, during a Euro 2012 group I qualifying match in Kaunas, Lithuping shot took a wicked deflecania, Tuesday, March 29. (AP Photo)

tion off a defender to loop past goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas. But Lithuania battled well against the winners of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and hit back in the 57th minute through Stankevicius. The Valencia defender capitalised on a poor clearance from the penalty area to drill a right-footed volley straight and hard past despairing Spain captain Iker Casillas in goal. Xabi Alonso then saw his well-struck 65th-minute freekick magnificently tipped over the bar by Karcemarskas. Although Spain were not dominating midfield, a slip-up by the hosts saw Mata played in down the left. The Valencia forward drove into the area and crossed perfectly into the path of Fernando Llorente. But the Athletic Bilbao striker was beaten to it by the misjudged knee of fast-approaching defender Tadas Kijanskas, contact from which nudged the ball into the goal. Spain wrapped up the result when a beautiful onetouch build-up saw David Silva play in Mata, the diminutive winger taking the ball on and beating Karcemarskas at the near post.

Gyan late show helps Ghana snatch draw vs England

LONDON, MARCH 30 (AGENCIES): Asamoah Gyan grabbed an injurytime equaliser as World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana snatched a 1-1 draw with England in an entertaining friendly at Wembley here Tuesday. Andy Carroll’s first international goal for England looked to have secured a 1-0 victory for Fabio Capello’s side until Sunderland striker Gyan took advantage of hesitant defending to blast home the leveller in the 91st minute. Gyan’s goal was no less than the Black Stars deserved for their contribution to a passionate encounter played out before a crowd of 80,102 which included a large and raucous contingent of Ghanaian fans. Nevertheless Capello was satisfied after running the rule over several junior members of his squad following the decision to release John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and Michael Dawson. “I’m really happy because I saw a fantastic game, not a friendly game,” Capello said. “Every tackle was a fight, the players played very well, the

players that played not a lot of games here, the new players, played well. It was interesting for me to know the value of these players when they need to play here at Wembley, in the senior shirt.” Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic said his side had deserved to grab a draw. “In the first half England was the better team, then in the second half I think my team gave a very good performance. I think after the way we played in the second half we merited this result,” he said. “It’s a good result because playing against England at Wembley is very tough.” Despite showing seven changes to the starting XI which defeated Wales 2-0 in a Euro 2012 qualifier last Saturday, England looked to have done enough to secure third straight win until Gyan’s late strike. England took the lead two minutes before the interval through Carroll, making only his second international start following an appearance in a 2-1 defeat by France last November. Aston Villa’s Ashley Young dropped deep and England’s Andy Carroll, left, shoots pass Ghana’s John Mensah to score during their international soccer match at flighted an exquisite ball Wembley Stadium, London, Tuesday, March 29. (AP Photo)

over the top for club teammate Stewart Downing. Downing miscontrolled but the ball fell kindly into the path of the advancing Carroll, who drove hard and low across Ghana goalkeeper RichardKingsonintothebottom corner. England’s lead was no less than the home side deserved after a pulsating period which saw both teams carve out a number of promising openings. England’s defence had any early scare on seven minutes when KwadwoAsamoahsentDominic Adiyiah racing clear on goal. The Partizan Belgrade striker shot low but England goalkeeper Joe Hart spread himself well and managed to block with his legs. At the other end, England’s movement continued to cause problems for Ghana’s back four, and bothYoungandDowninghad early chances. Only a superb one-handed save from Kingson prevented Young from grabbing England’s opener on 15 minutes, the Ghana keeper diving at full stretch to turn the Villaplaymaker’scurlingshot behind for a corner. Young squandered another giltedged chance on 24 minutes.

Downing picked out James Milner down the right who squared across the six yard box only for Young to somehow scoop his close-range shot onto the bar. That miss might have proved costly for England had it not been for another fine save from Hart. A free-kick swept in from the right eluded England’s defence and Adiyiah dived to head across goal, only to be thwarted by a magnificent one-handed block from the Manchester City goalkeeper. A lively start to the second half saw Ghana enjoy their best spell of the game, with John Pantsil seeing his shot from the edge of the area deflected just over the bar by Gareth Barry, named as captain in the absence of Terry. Substitute Jonathan Mensah then headed over a corner from Sulley Muntari as England’s defence came under pressure. England withdrew Carroll to a standing ovation on 59 minutes, the goalscorer being replaced by Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe. With the clock running down England looked to be home only for Gyan to pop up with low shot that beat Hart diving to his right.


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