SYDNEY: Defending champion Angelique Kerber cruised into the Sydney International third round today as she targets back-to-back titles, while world number five Sloane Stephens narrowly avoided a shock loss.
The second-seeded German was made to work hard in the opening set against Italy’s Camila Giorgi but took control in the second to ease through 7-6 (7/3), 6-2. “It’s always tough to play Camila, the way she is hitting the ball. Her second serve is like her first serve,” said world number two Kerber, who had a first-round bye and is now into the third round.
“It’s never easy to play your first tournament match but I am happy to be through. Hopefully, I can go back-to-back, but there’s still a long way to go.” America’s Stephens battled back from the brink of a defeat to beat 72nd-ranked qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova in their first-round clash.
Less than a week before the Australian Open – the season’s first Grand Slam – she was on the ropes with Alexandrova winning the first set to love and serving for the match in the second set.
But Stephens somehow rallied to win 0-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/3).
“I was, like, it’s not going to get any worse than this,” Stephens said of the first set. “So it was like I might as well just play.
“Obviously she was playing well. Sometimes when you play a player that’s just playing like that, there is not much you can do.”
Earlier, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova avenged her US Open defeat to in-form Aryna Sabalenka.
The Czech, who slumped to 29 in the world after being attacked in her home by a knife-wielding man in 2016, has battled back to number eight and was encouraged by her 6-1, 7-5 win over the Belarusian.
Sabalenka is a form player, racing to number 11 in the world after a stellar 2018 and starting the year by winning the Shenzhen Open.
“She was definitely (finishing strongly). She came from Shenzhen (last week) where she won the tournament so I knew it would be a tough match,” said Kvitova.
“Unfortunately I lost (to her) at the US Open but I’m happy with my performance here in the first round.”
Kvitova, who is aiming for her second Sydney title after lifting the trophy in 2015, belted 28 winners to Sabalenka’s 11 and won an incredible 85 percent of her first-serve points.
Cricket 2nd ODI: Australia beats Pakistan by 8 wickets
SHARJAH: Pakistan, that had opted to bat after winning the toss in the 2nd one-day international match against Australia failed to give maximum performance.
Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (captain), Shan Masood, Umar Akmal, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hasnain, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas
Australia: Aaron Finch (captain), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa Umpires: Michael Gough (ENG) and Ahsan Raza (PAK) Tv umpire: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI) Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)
International cyclist wins Pakistan Day Cycle Race
PESHAWAR: International Cyclist Mohsin of Sui Southern Gas grabbed the title of the Pakistan Day Cycle Race after paddling past his rival cyclists in the 14 kilometer dash in 18.04.33 sec of the Individual Team Trial here at Northern Bypass on Saturday.
There were great enthusiasm witnessed and the spectators were standing on both side of the road wherein the cyclists took part in the Individual Time Trial, Scratched Race and Team Time Trials.
President KP Chamber of Commerce and Industries Fayyaz Muhammad was the chief guest on this occasion who gave away the trophies and cash prizes to the position holders.
Secretary General Pakistan Cycling Federation Syed Azhar Ali Shah, President KP Cycling Association Nisar Ahmad and former international record holder cyclist Murad Ali, players and spectators were also present.
The KP Traffic Police has taken all appropriate measures by overtiring the traffic on one-side of the main Northern ByePass so that to provide much open space for the cyclists.
Mohsin has better idea of road and that is why he dashed toward the finish.
He clocked 18.04-33sec, followed by Farman Muhammad of SSGC with 19.95.14sec and Ali Ahmad of Swat got third position with20.21.22sec.
Farhan Khan of Sui Gas won the Scratch Race title with his clocking showing 22.22.54sec, followed by Mohsin of SSGC with 21.02.24sec and Habib Ullah of Islamabad with 21.03.29sec.
Islamabad won the Team title and time of three top cyclists comprising Abdullah, Usman and Habib Ullah was taken for the position. Islamabad clocked 19.22.21sec, followed by Peshawar White team including Zeb, Akhtar and Ahsan Ullah and Peshawar Green comprising Sajid, Sadiq and Irshad.
Out of six participating teams Islamabad won the Team Time Trials title.
The Pakistan Day Cycle Race is an annual feature of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cycling Association wherein teams from Peshawar White, Peshawar Green, Sui Gas Corporation, Mardan, Islamabad and Swat took part as each team have six cyclists and time of three top cyclists counted for the overall position.
People of the district came out in sizeable number to enjoy the race on a sunny day. In an interview, General Secretary Pakistan Cycling Federation Syed Azhar Shah informed that event was comprised on three races including Team Race, Scratch Race and Individual Race and started from Northern Bypass to Charssadda Road and back which covered approximately 14 kilometers.
Gautam Gambhir joins BJP, likely to contest this year’s polls in India
NEW DELHI: Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir has joined Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is likely to contest election from the country’s capital.
Former Indian cricketer will contest elections from one of the seven seats in Delhi. The elections in India will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19.
Gambhir played a key role in India’s victory in the finals of 2011 and 2007 World Cups.