Muguruza breezes past Puig to reach Tokyo quarters

Garbine Muguruza of Spain hits a return against Monica Puig of Puerto Rico during their women’s singles second round match at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2017
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Muguruza breezes past Puig to reach Tokyo quarters

TOKYO: Newly crowned world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza pulverised Olympic champion Monica Puig 6-4, 6-0 on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the Pan Pacific Open.
Earlier, second seed Karolina Pliskova, who held the top ranking briefly over the summer, crushed Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2, 6-1 as the Czech set up a clash with another former world No. 1, Angelique Kerber.
Wimbledon champion Muguruza recovered from an indifferent start to reach the last eight in Tokyo, the top seed catching fire after a trade of early breaks to rattle off the last seven games.
A booming serve down the middle sealed the first set for the Spaniard, who seemed intent on hitting the fur off the ball in her first match since reaching the top of women’s WTA rankings last week.
Muguruza, chasing a third title of the year, roared through the second, a murderous backhand pass giving her a 3-0 lead to effectively kill off any hopes Puig had of mounting a comeback.
The Puerto Rican, who upset Muguruza on her way to winning a shock gold medal at last year’s Rio Olympics, fell apart thereafter as her Spanish tormentor turned the screw, bringing the match to a close with an ace after an hour and 14 minutes.
“The last time I played her it didn’t go my way at all,” Muguruza told reporters.
“I’m also happy to win my first match as number one. To be honest nothing has really changed but I know every match is going to be even tougher now.”
Pliskova likewise tore through her second-round match, the world No. 4 taking exactly an hour to see off Linette.
A ferocious forehand gave the Czech an early break in the first set, which she pocketed thanks to a clinical cross-court backhand.
The second set was almost a carbon copy as Pliskova again raced to a 3-0 lead before a thunderous backhand pass brought a double break.
The end came mercifully swiftly for a dejected Linette, who wafted a Pliskova serve wide on match point to sum up her contribution to a lop-sided contest.
“The No. 1 ranking is not really my goal,” insisted Pliskova, chasing a fourth title of the year and 10th of her career.
“It would be great to end the year there,” added the 25-year-old, who beat Linette in the first round of the US Open by the same score before losing in the quarterfinals earlier this month.
“But my aim right now is just to try to win more titles.”
German Kerber booked her place in the quarter-finals with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in the day’s late match.
Elsewhere, China’s Wang Qiang failed to capitalize on her stunning 6-0, 6-0 ambush of eighth seed Kristina Mladenovic as she was bundled out 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 by Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Muguruza heads a strong field in Tokyo featuring several top 10 players including Pliskova, Johanna Konta and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 21 April 2018
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Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.