Czechs must wait after being stunned by Kazakhs

Updated 07 April 2013
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Czechs must wait after being stunned by Kazakhs

ASTANA: Outsiders Kazakhstan stayed alive in their Davis Cup quarterfinal against holders Czech Republic after winning the doubles rubber yesterday.
The Czechs were looking to wrap up the tie after winning both of their singles matches on Friday, but Andrey Golubev and Yuri Schukin stunned Radek Stepanek and Jan Hajek 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 to take the contest into a third day.
Stepanek, who had not played since undergoing neck surgery in January to relieve stress on a nerve, teamed up with Hajek for the first time after his regular doubles partner Tomas Berdych pulled out of the indoor tie in Astana with a shoulder injury.
After losing the first set in a tie-breaker 7-2, the Czechs were gradually outplayed by the newly-made pair of Golubev and Schukin, who also won their previous doubles encounter in Davis Cup by beating Austria at the same venue in February.
Kazakhstan are now hoping for another shock victory over the Czechs after beating them 3-2 in their only previous Davis Cup encounter in Ostrava in 2011 when they made their debut in the World Group as an independent nation.
Today, Czech Lukas Rosol is scheduled to meet 156th-ranked Mikhail Kukushkin in the first reverse singles while Hajek must face Golubev in the last rubber, but visiting captain Jaroslav Navratil said he might alter the plan.
The winner of tie faces France or Argentina, who are tied 1-1 after the first day of their quarterfinal, in the semifinals in September.

Djokovic successfully blunted the powerful serve of towering American John Isner to win 7-6, 6-2, 7-5 and provide Serbia with the perfect start in Idaho.
But Querrey, who only recently became America’s top ranked player, battled his way back from a set down to defeat Victor Troicki 7-6, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
“These kind of matches are very intense and there is a lot at stake,” said Djokovic.
“You’re playing for your country. You get more involved with the emotions and you really want to start well.” Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame Carlos Berlocq 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 to give France the early lead over Argentina but Monaco, ranked 19th in the world, ensured the tie remained wide open after he won the second singles.
“We have taken one point, we need two more,” Argentine captain Martin Jaite said.
Raonic cracked 25 aces to defeat Fabio Fognini 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 in Vancouver after Seppi fought back from two sets behind to beat lowly-ranked Vasek Pospisal 5-7 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.


‘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.”