Novak Djokovic shocked he is ending year as world No.1 after rapid route back to top spot

It has been a brilliant second half of the year for the Serb. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Novak Djokovic shocked he is ending year as world No.1 after rapid route back to top spot

LONDON: Novak Djokovic revelled in his “perfect” five months as he took aim at his sixth ATP Finals title with the year-end No.1 ranking in the bag.
The Serb, who won Wimbledon and the US Open, earlier this week replaced the injured Rafael Nadal at the top of the men’s rankings and is guaranteed to end 2018 in top spot.
Speaking before the start of the season finale at London’s O2 Arena, the Serb said next to the Grand Slams and the ATP Finals, reaching the number one spot was the “ultimate challenge” in the sport.
“I’m very proud of that achievement and I understand that it’s extra special this year because of the journey I’ve been through in the last 15 months, especially and particularly in the last eight to 10 months.
“After February’s elbow surgery it looked quite improbable that I would be in this position as the year-end No.1, not just because of the rankings — I was 22 (in May) — but just because of how I felt on the court, how I was playing.
“But there was always part of me that believed I could make it back and I never thought it was impossible. I just thought at the time it might take more time than I wished it to be.
“It turned to out to be a perfect five months of the year, with two Grand Slam titles,” he added.
“Of course, unfortunately Nadal had to withdraw from all of his tournaments after the US Open so he was not in that race but at the same time I thought it was a great five months that is crowned with this achievement.”
The 31-year-old Djokovic underwent surgery on his right elbow in January after the Australian Open, which was his first tournament in six months.
He struggled to find his best tennis when he returned to the court but reached the final of Queen’s before winning Wimbledon and the US Open.
Since the start of Wimbledon he has won 31 out of 33 matches.
Djokovic is seeking his fifth ATP Finals title in London to go with his first, which he won in Shanghai in 2008.
If he wins the tournament, which starts on Sunday, he would draw level with Roger Federer with six wins in total.
Djokovic is in Group Guga Kuerten along with Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and John Isner while Federer is in Group Lleyton Hewitt with Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori.
Each player plays the other group members, with the top two advancing to the semifinals.
Djokovic also confirmed that he would not be playing Nadal in the exhibition match in Saudi Arabia in December because of the Spaniard’s injury.


Finch, Starc shine as Australia beat Sri Lanka in World Cup

Updated 15 June 2019
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Finch, Starc shine as Australia beat Sri Lanka in World Cup

  • Defending champions record their fourth win of tournament at the Oval encounter

LONDON: Australia captain Aaron Finch and pace bowler Mitchell Starc stole the show as the holders eased to an 87-run win over Sri Lanka at the Oval on Saturday.

Finch equalled his career-best one-day international score with a masterful 153 and Steve Smith chipped in with 73 as Australia scored 334-7.

Needing a World Cup record run-chase to claim a shock win, Sri Lanka got off to a flying start thanks to a first-wicket partnership of 115 between captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera.

But Perera departed for 52 and when Karunaratne fell on 97 the game swung back in Australia’s direction.

Starc was the catalyst with a fiery spell of three wickets in six balls, Australia eventually dismissing Sri Lanka for 247 thanks in large part to his 4-55 from 10 overs.

Kane Williamson added three wickets of his own as Australia made it four wins from their five group matches after previously beating Afghanistan, the West Indies and Pakistan.

Their lone defeat in the 10-team tournament came against India and their latest victory puts them well on course for a semifinal berth.

Sri Lanka, who lost their last seven wickets for 42 runs, have only one win from their five matches, a disappointing run that includes two washouts.

They face a struggle to reach the semifinals with only four matches left, a spell that features encounters with title contenders England and India.

Sri Lanka had briefly looked capable of surpassing the World Cup chase set by Ireland, who made 329-7 to beat England in 2011.

Karunaratne and his opening partner Perera blasted 24 from the first two overs and reached their fifty partnership in just the seventh over.

But Starc bowled Perera and Jason Behrendorff dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne for 16 as Australia hit back.

A six from Kusal Mendis in the 31st over signalled Sri Lanka’s intent to get cracking.

But crucially Karunaratne stumbled short of his maiden World Cup century when he carelessly flicked Richardson to Glenn Maxwell at backward point.

That left Sri Lanka 186-3 and set the stage for Starc to turn the screw by dismissing Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera and Mendis in quick succession.

Mendis’s mistimed drive off Starc reduced Sri Lanka to 222-7 and shattered their resistance.

Earlier, Finch took the Sri Lanka attack apart with a dazzling display that included 15 fours and five sixes.

He was well-supported by Smith’s 73 from 59 balls and the pair put on 173 runs for the third wicket.

Together with opening partner David Warner, Finch took the attack to the Sri Lankans after being put in to bat under cloudy skies in south London.

The pair passed 50 for the opening wicket for the fourth time in five games at the World Cup.

Sri Lanka had no answer to Finch’s brutal assault and by the time he departed, caught by Karunaratne off Isuru Udana, he had put Australia in a commanding position.

Maxwell’s quick-fire 46 from 25 balls rubbed salt into Sri Lanka’s wounds.