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.


‘Captain fantastic’ Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

Updated 19 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.