Djokovic, Sharapova irresistible

Updated 17 January 2013
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Djokovic, Sharapova irresistible

MELBOURNE: Defending champion Novak Djokovic oozed class in an awesome performance at the Australian Open yesterday as Maria Sharapova stormed into the third round without dropping a game.
Djokovic, up last on center court and chasing the first Australian Open hat trick since the 1960s, wasted little time in dispatching America’s Harrison, who was never close to taking his first ever set off the Serb.
The world No.1, handed an uncomplicated draw after the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal, was irresistible as he blew away Harrison 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, but afterwards he spared a thought for his floundering opponent.
“It’s a pity for him, I don’t think he played his best. It’s probably just the occasion, playing on center court,” Djokovic said.
With Roger Federer and Andy Murray both playing today, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych also pressed their outside claims as they reached the third round, along with 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis and Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
And as women’s pre-tournament favorite Serena Williams, a day after rolling her ankle, skipped a public practice session, Sharapova showed why she must be taken seriously for her second Australian Open title.
Sharapova, the world No. 2, had been flawless in her 6-0, 6-0 opener against Olga Puchkova, and she remarkably repeated the scoreline — a feat not achieved at a Grand Slam since 1985 — against Japan’s Misaki Doi.
“It’s not really the statistic I want to be known for. I want to be known for winning Grand Slam titles, not that I won two matches 6-0, 6-0,” said Sharapova, the 2008 winner and beaten finalist last year.
Standing in Sharapova’s way in round three is Serena’s sister Venus, who is climbing back up the rankings after a long spell of illness and dispatched France’s Alize Cornet on the center court.
“Going out there, there won’t be too many secrets. I hope for it to be a great match,” Sharapova said.
Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska smoothly put away Irina-Camelia Begu to reach the third round, where she was joined by German fifth seed Angelique Kerber and China’s sixth seed Li Na.
“Australia for me — I really believe I can win this Grand Slam,” said 2011 runner-up Li, after her 6-2, 7-5 victory over Olga Govortsova.
But there was misery for Australian favorite Samantha Stosur, the ninth seed and 2011 US Open champion, who threw away five consecutive third-set games as she crashed out against China’s Zheng Jie.
Stosur, who suffered first round flops at WTA events in Brisbane and Sydney this year, was leading 5-2 in the third set but she choked in front of her home fans and ultimately double-faulted to hand Zheng victory 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
In the men’s draw, Spanish fourth seed Ferrer was extended by 125th-ranked American Tim Smyczek before winning 6-0, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, while Berdych, the fifth seed, enjoyed a straight sets win over Frenchman Guillaume Rufin.
Elsewhere on day three, Japan’s Nishikori powered on with a straight-sets victory over Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq, and Spanish 10th seed Nicolas Almagro went through in three sets.
Towering Pole Jerzy Janowicz succumbed to the tournament’s first meltdown, after he fell to his hands and knees and repeatedly screamed, “How many times?” over a line call during his win over India’s Somdev Devvarman.
“I was thinking dude, relax,” Devvarman said later. “He is a friend and I have played him before. He got a little upset with a couple of calls.” Footage of the incident, which follows Baghdatis’s tantrum when he smashed four racquets in swift succession last year, quickly circulated on the Internet.
But there was agony for the luckless Brian Baker, who has battled back from six years on the sidelines following a series of operations, when he collapsed with a serious knee injury while playing fellow American Sam Querrey.


‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

Updated 20 June 2018
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‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

  • A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
  • Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”