Federer trumps Wawrinka for tying 5th Indian Wells title

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Elena Vesnina holds the BNP Paribas Open trophy after her three-set victory against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Indian Wells, California, on Sunday night. (AFP)
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Roger Federer after his victory over Stanislas Wawrinka in Indian Wells, California, on Sunday night. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2017
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Federer trumps Wawrinka for tying 5th Indian Wells title

INDIAN WELLS, California: Forget the comeback talk. Roger Federer is back.
He defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 to win a record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open title in an all-Swiss final Sunday to go with his record 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January after missing most of last year with various injuries.
“For me, the dream run continues,” he said.
Federer kept reminding everyone during the ATP Masters 1000 event that he was “on the comeback” and, wanting to see how he felt, had not planned beyond the first three months of year.
He might want to think bigger now.
“This was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells. The goal was to be top 8 by after Wimbledon, so I’m there much, much faster,” he said. “I will make the plan for the remainder of the season, especially for the clay, after Miami, and then see also what the goals are because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.”
Federer tied the tourney record of Novak Djokovic, who lost in the fourth round, while winning his 90th career title, keeping him third behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl on the all-time list in the Open era.
At 35 years and seven months, Federer became the oldest champion in the desert tournament’s history, surpassing Connors, who was 31 years and five months when he won in 1981.
“It’s an absolute huge start to the year for me,” he said. “Last year didn’t win any titles. The change is dramatic and it feels great.”
His twin daughters cheered and jumped up and down in a box above the court when Federer put away a high forehand volley while keeping Wawrinka pinned deep behind the baseline on match point.
Federer dropped serve just once in five matches, losing the first game of the second set against No. 3 seed Wawrinka. He saved one break point against Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, and never lost set in the tournament. Seeded ninth, Federer advanced to the semifinals via walkover when Nick Kyrgios withdrew.
“The way he’s playing is just so beautiful,” Wawrinka said. “Everything looks perfect. He’s moving amazingly well. He has amazing touch. He’s doing everything you can do on the tennis court.”
In an all-Russian women’s final, Elena Vesnina defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4.
She and Federer earned $1,175,505 each.
Federer will move up four spots to No. 6 in the ATP world rankings on Monday.
He hit 23 winners, including 16 off his backhand in the 80-minute match. Wawrinka had 17 winners and 21 unforced errors in front of the announced crowd of 17,382 that did not fill the stadium.
Federer improved to 20-3 against Wawrinka, including 15-0 on hard courts. Wawrinka’s wins have all been on clay.
“He’s the best player ever, so we all used to lose against him,” Wawrinka said.
Vesnina had never advanced beyond the third round in singles and just last year she lost in the first round of qualifying, although she has won three doubles titles at the tournament. She beat No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber and No. 12 Venus Williams on her way to the biggest final of her career at age 30.
Kuznetsova is 0-3 in finals here, also finishing runner-up in 2007 and 2008.
At age 31, Kuznetsova was the fifth-oldest women to reach the final. But the two-time major champion struggled playing with the lead as the No. 8 seed in front of hundreds of empty seats.
“I didn’t feel good today because she was very aggressive and I was a little bit out of my game,” Kuznetsova said. “I couldn’t figure out a lot the wind and stuff like that.”
Kuznetsova led 4-2 in the third before 14th-seeded Vesnina broke her twice in sweeping the final four games of the match.
Kuznetsova served one of her nine aces to lead 4-1 in the second, prompting Vesnina to bring out her coach-father Sergey Vesnin for a chat.
It worked.
Vesnina reeled off four straight games to lead 5-4. Her forehand error led to Kuznetsova’s break in the 10th game that tied it 5-all. But Vesnina broke back and served out the set 7-5.
“She had so many break points on my serve,” Vesnina said. “She was 30-love up couple of times on her serves, and I always keep coming back.”
Kuznetsova had luck on her side early, winning the first set on a net cord in the tiebreaker. She gave the traditional wave acknowledging her good fortune to Vesnina, who had blown leads of 2-0 and 4-2.
Vesnina had 46 winners and 49 unforced errors. She successfully gambled at the net, winning 24 of 32 points during the three-hour match.
Vesnina earned her third career singles title and will move up two spots to a career-high No. 13 in the world rankings on Monday.


“Captain fantastic” Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

Updated 18 June 2018
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“Captain fantastic” Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

  • Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner
  • England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes

VOLGOGRAD, Russia: Captain Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner, as England began their World Cup Group G campaign with a stuttering 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday.
Gareth Southgate’s men almost paid a heavy price for missing a slew of first-half chances when Tunisia’s Ferjani Sassi slotted home a softly-awarded penalty 20 minutes before half-time.
And the north Africans were still level as the game went past the 90-minute mark.
But Harry Maguire won a header from a corner and Kane was on hand at the far post to nod in the winner before being mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.
“I’m so proud of the lads,” Kane said. “They kept going, kept going to the last second.
“I am absolutely buzzing, everyone on the staff is. It shows good character to get the job done.”
England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes.
First Jordan Henderson’s lofted first-time pass released Dele Alli and when the ball eventually broke to Jesse Lingard he saw his shot from six yards saved by the outstretched left boot of Mouez Hassen in the Tunisia goal.
Kane had been kept quiet in the opening salvos but he exploded into action in the 11th minute when he cut inside from the left and saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide for a corner.
Ashley Young delivered the set piece for John Stones to rise highest and meet with a powerful header. Hassen saved acrobatically but Kane was on hand to tap home the rebound with his right foot and open his World Cup account.
Hassen, who had injured his left shoulder making an earlier save, could not continue and left the field in tears as he was replaced in goal by Farouk Ben Mustapha.
England continued to press and were made to pay for not converting a succession of chances when they conceded a soft penalty.
Kyle Walker swung a lazy arm across Fakhreddine Ben Youssef who fell as if poleaxed and Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot, with his decision being upheld by the VAR.
Ferjani Sassi took one step and fired home confidently past the hitherto unemployed Jordan Pickford and Tunisia who had been outplayed for the first half-hour were somehow level 10 minutes before half-time.
Still there was time for Lingard to come close again twice, first from a goalbound shot and then a dink over the keeper which agonizingly struck the post.
Alli too hit the woodwork with a header and England went into half-time wondering how they had not sealed victory already.
England still enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but could not find the same zip and penetration they had enjoyed at the start of the first half.
The ineffective Sterling gave way to Marcus Rashford with just over 20 minutes to go and the Manchester United man almost fashioned a chance straight away with a jinking run into the box.