Sky high Swiss: Belinda Bencic plans parachute jump to celebrate Dubai title

Tennis - WTA Premier 5 - Dubai Tennis Championships - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - February 23, 2019 Switzerland's Belinda Bencic celebrates winning the final against Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova REUTERS/Christopher Pike
Updated 23 February 2019
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Sky high Swiss: Belinda Bencic plans parachute jump to celebrate Dubai title

DUBAI: Belinda Bencic defeated Petra Kvitova 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 on Saturday to win the Dubai Championships and vowed to celebrate with her first parachute jump.
“We agreed that the next title I won, we would go skydiving,” the Swiss said after ending a four-year trophy drought, explaining that the dare-devil plan may not please her father and coach, Ivan.
“It may be funny, because my dad is afraid of heights. He says, ‘why risk your life’.”
The 21-year-old Bencic last won a title in Toronto 2015 before the former world number seven’s career was blighted by a series of back and wrist injuries.
Saturday’s title — the third of her career — will see her jump to 23 in the new world rankings from her current spot of 45th.
Bencic handed second seed Kvitova a setback in the Czech’s quest to eventually claim the world number one ranking — had the two-time Australian Open champion won the Dubai title, she would have risen to second in the world behind Naomi Osaka.
Victory over Kvitova was Bencic’s fourth straight comeback this week at the Aviation Club.
“This is amazing, I can’t believe it,” the champion said. “It’s an honor to be on the court with Petra.”
“It’s incredible. After two rounds we were already saying ‘wow, this is a great tournament. Now it’s only a bonus.
“So many times I was close to defeat. It’s unbelievable that I ended up winning this. I was not coming into this tournament thinking about winning at all. It was really seeing who I play first round.”
Against Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, Bencic had to save six match points before going on to beat world number two Simona Halep and two-time defending Dubai champion Elina Svitolina.
Bencic swept the opening set on Saturday but was pegged back in the second as her two-time Wimbledon champion opponent returned the favor.
The third — like the last three Bencic matches in Dubai — made the difference.
Bencic broke in the third and seventh games. One game later, she netted a backhand on a first match point but profitted on a second as Kvitova returned long over the baseline.
“There was not much I could do, Petra plays so fast, so I had to do the same,” Bencic said.
“I just kept trying to return balls and put the pressure on her. With Petra, she’s hitting full power, so it was incredibly tough first set,
“In the second set, I missed by little in the start of the games, then she gained a lot of confidence. She was playing great. She was serving great.”
Bencic won her 13th match of the season against two defeats while Kvitova was thwarted in a second final after winning Sydney but losing the Australian Open title match to Osaka.
“She played great, it was a tough one today for sure,” Kvitova said. “It was a very exhausting week.”


Bangladesh sink Afghanistan to keep alive World Cup semifinal hopes

Updated 24 June 2019
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Bangladesh sink Afghanistan to keep alive World Cup semifinal hopes

  • Shakib’s 51 laid the foundations for Bangladesh to score 262-7 and made him the leading run-scorer in this year’s World Cup
  • The 32-year-old then ripped through the Afghan batting line-up with his career-best ODI figures of 5-29 from 10 overs

SOUTHAMPTON: Bangladesh boosted their bid to reach the World Cup semifinals as Shakib Al Hasan’s superb all-round display inspired a 62-run win over Afghanistan on Monday.
Shakib’s 51 laid the foundations for Bangladesh to score 262-7 and made him the leading run-scorer in this year’s World Cup.
The 32-year-old then ripped through the Afghan batting line-up with his career-best ODI figures of 5-29 from 10 overs.
Shakib is only the second player in World Cup history to take five wickets and hit a 50 in the same match after India’s Yuvraj Singh against Ireland in 2011.
Bangladesh, winners against South Africa and the West Indies earlier in the tournament, are up to fifth place in the 10-team group stage.
They sit one point behind fourth-placed England, who face Australia on Tuesday, in the race to seal a semifinal berth via a top-four finish.
Mashrafe Mortaza’s side play India and Pakistan in their final two group matches.
Afghanistan became the first team to be eliminated after an agonizing 11-run loss against India on Saturday, when Mohammed Shami’s final-over hat-trick denied them a famous upset.
Gulbadin Naib’s team have lost all seven of their matches, leaving with two games to avoid finishing the tournament without a single point.
Rahmat Shah and Gulbadin put on 49 for the first wicket, giving Afghanistan hope of a surprise win.
But Shakib’s introduction brought the breakthrough as the spinner weaved his magic.
Rahmat carelessly flicked a flatter delivery to Tamim Iqbal at mid-on and departed for 24.
Just 10 runs came from the next five overs and Hashmatullah Shahidi perished when he tried to accelerate, stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim off Mosaddek Hossain for 11.
Bangladesh had victory in their sights after Shakib took two wickets in the space of four balls.
Gulbadin was removed for 47 after driving low to Liton Das at short extra cover before Mohammad Nabi was bowled through the gate for a duck.
Shakib became the first Bangladesh player to take five wickets in the World Cup when he had Najibullah Zadran stumped.
Earlier, Shakib became the leading run scorer in this year’s World Cup so far as his side posted a solid score after being put into bat.
Shakib’s 51 took him to 476 runs in the tournament, while Mushfiqur top-scored with 83 from 87 balls.
Liton was promoted ahead of Soumya Sarkar to open along with Tamim for Bangladesh, with the pair managing a brisk 23 from the first four overs.
But Liton fell for 16 in the next over after being fooled into a miscued drive by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who finished with 3-39.
That brought Shakib to the crease and he upped the tempo even further with some aggressive hitting that maintained his fine World Cup form.
When Shakib, who has two centuries already in the tournament, pulled Naib to the boundary, it moved him above Australia’s David Warner’s 447 runs.
Tamim and Shakib put on their fourth successive fifty partnership in one-day internationals.
Shakib went on to become only the second player to hit six consecutive 40-plus scores in a World Cup.
Not long after that milestone, Shakib brought up his half-century in 66 balls — his fifth score of 50 or more in this tournament — to huge cheers from the Bangladesh fans who made up the majority of the crowd.
Shakib was unable to turn his solid start into another century, but he would contribute more than enough with the ball to seal the victory.