Ivanovic tops Cibulkova at Carlsbad

Updated 12 August 2013
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Ivanovic tops Cibulkova at Carlsbad

CARLSBAD, California: Martina Hingis won in her return to the WTA Tour, teaming with Daniela Hantuchova for a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Julia Goerges and Darija Jurak on Wednesday in the Southern California Open.
Hingis, the 32-year-old former top-ranked singled player whose last tour match was September 2007, consistently showed the deft hands that made her a nine-time Grand Slam doubles champion before a sparse crowd that gave her a warm ovation when she was introduced.
Hingis didn’t touch the ball until the fifth point of the match but flashed her doubles talent when she hit a backhand volley right at Jurak for a point in the second game.
Hingis is scheduled to play doubles with Hantuchova in four tournaments, including the US Open.
The ‘Swiss Miss’ has retired twice previously, the first time in early 2003 at 22 and the last time in November 2007.
In singles, Ana Ivanovic advanced to the second round by beating defending champion Dominika Cibulkova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The seventh-seeded Ivanovic, from Serbia, won nine of the final 11 games. She used a strong ground game to overpower Cibulkova, the Slovak coming off a victory Sunday in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
“As soon as the draw came out I thought it was one of the toughest first-round matches, especially being a seeded player,” said Ivanovic, the former top-ranked singles player and 2008 French Open champ. “But I was really happy with my performance.”
Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat Italy’s Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-3 in the second round. Azarenka was playing her first match since withdrawing from her second-round match at Wimbledon because of knee and hip injuries.
“Just going on the court and competing was so much joy for me,” Azarenka said. “I was really playing and happy to be doing something I was training for. . . . I don’t think about it (injuries).”
Ivanovic, who fired coach Nigel Sears after her second-round loss at Wimbledon, said she has been working on “being consistent and also working on that confidence part. It plays a big role. I felt like my game has been there at times but not my confidence.”
Third-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and fourth-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy had few problems in winning their opening matches after receiving first-round byes.
Kvitova advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over British teenager Laura Robson. The victory avenged Kvitova’s second-round loss to Robson at the Australian Open in January.
Vinci beat American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4.


Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall

Updated 43 min 16 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall

  • Saudi Arabia play Italy on May 28
  • Balotelli set to play for the Azzurri for the first time in four years

TURIN: New Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Saturday recalled Nice striker Mario Balotelli to the Azzurri fold for three upcoming friendlies as he begins the job of reviving Italian fortunes.
Mancini was appointed last Monday, six months after Gian Piero Ventura was sacked following the four-time world champions’ failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The 53-year-old, who left Zenit Saint Petersburg to take the job, unveiled his first 30-man squad for matches against Saudi Arabia, France and the Netherlands.
Mancini takes charge of his first game against the Green Falcons in St. Gallen, Switzerland on May 28.
As expected, the 27-year-old Balotelli was included for the first time in nearly four years.
Balotelli has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for the Azzurri but has not played international football since Italy’s humiliating group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup.
Balotelli was last called up by coach Antonio Conte in November 2014 but did not play because of injury.
He has now been given another chance by Mancini, who coached him at both Inter Milan and Manchester City.
Balotelli has resurrected his career since joining Nice in 2016 after less successful spells with AC Milan and Liverpool, scoring 26 goals in all competitions this season, without any of the bad-boy behavior that previously dogged his career.
Italy are not spoilt for choice with forward so Balotelli’s success with Nice could not be overlooked by Mancini.
As a youngster, Balotelli was part of the Inter side coached by Jose Mourinho that won the Champions League in 2010.
He also won three Serie A titles with Inter before switching to Manchester City and helping them claim the Premier League crown in 2012.
Meanwhile, Mancini’s squad was without goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon who this week confirmed he would not play again for the national side.
The presence of Buffon — who holds the record for Italy caps with 176 — proved controversial during friendlies in March with his critics wanting him to move over for a younger generation.
In his absence, Mancini has recalled Salvatore Sirigu, who has had a successful season since joining Torino, alongside AC Milan teenager Gianluigi Donnarumma and Genoa’s Mattia Perin.
Among the veterans there was no call-up for Roma captain Daniele De Rossi, with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini absent through injury.
The captain’s armband is expected to go to AC Milan center-back Leonardo Bonucci.
Five players have been given a first call-up — Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri, Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli, Crotone midfielder Rolando Mandragora, Sassuolo striker Domenico Berardi and Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara.
Along with defenders Alessio Romagnoli and Daniele Rugani, midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini and strikers Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi are among the promising youngsters who are expected to put Italy back on the road to victory.
The squad will meet for the first time at the Italian national team’s training camp at Coverciano near Florence on May 23.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino);
Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg/RUS), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Emerson Palmieri Dos Santos (Chelsea/ENG), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea/ENG)
Midfielders: Daniele Baselli (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Jorginho (Napoli), Rolando Mandragora (Crotone), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Nice/FRA), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Simone Zaza (Valencia/ESP)