Sharapova has it easy in Doha

Updated 13 February 2013
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Sharapova has it easy in Doha

DOHA: Maria Sharapova easily reached the third round of the Qatar Open yesterday, dispatching French qualifier Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2.
The third-ranked Russian, who won the tournament in her two previous appearances, broke Garcia twice go up 3-0 in the first set. Garcia won the next two games but Sharapova then broke for a third time. The second set went with serve through the first five games until Sharapova broke to go up 4-2, and she clinched the victory when the Frenchwoman hit a forehand long.
Sharapova was joined in the third round by 11th-ranked Marion Bartoli, who downed former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Benneteau wins

Frenchman Julien Benneteau joined compatriot Gilles Simon in the second round of the Rotterdam World Tennis yesterday as he beat lucky loser Tobias Kamke of Germany 6-3, 6-2.
Their progress — Simon eased through on Monday — offset the disappointment of their No. 1 Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga going out on Monday to unheralded Dutchman Igor Sijsling 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4.
The victory over Kamke, who was drafted in to the tournament proper when another Frenchman Michael Llodra pulled out through illness, sets Benneteau up nicely to reach the quarterfinals for the third time here.
He next faces Romanian Victor Hanescu.
Dutch players enjoyed mixed fortunes yesterday, with Thiemo de Bakker moving into the second round as Russian opponent Mikhail Youzhny was forced to retire in the third set with a hip problem.
De Bakker will await the winner from Wednesday’s match between top seed and holder Roger Federer and Grega Zemlja of Slovenia.
Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis admitted he had little to lose in his comprehensive defeat of Dutchman Robin Haase 6-2, 6-1, which took just 50 minutes with the winner breaking four times.
Gulbis, who reached a career-high ranking of 21st two years ago, now stands 132 and finished out of the ranking top 100 last season for the first time since 2006.
“I’m sorry Holland for beating a local,” joked the Latvian. “I played well and had almost perfect timing. I really didn’t give him any chances.
“I don’t have many expectations, my ranking is so low I barely got into qualifying anyway.”

Nadal renews attack on hard courts

In Sao Paulo, Former world No. 1 Rafa Nadal has renewed his attack on hard courts as he prepares for the second tournament on his comeback trail at the Brazil Open.
The 26-year-old Spaniard, who returned to competitive action at the Chile Open last week after a left knee condition sidelined him for seven months, said the number of tournaments played on hard surfaces would limit players’ careers.
He also criticized a move to speed up matches by strictly enforcing the 20-second rule between points at grand slams.
“Hard courts are aggressive on the knees, back and ankles,” the 11-times grand slam champion, told reporters in Sao Paulo.
“That is a theme among the players and doctors. To make a change like that (reduce the amount of hard court events) it won’t be possible in this generation but I think that the ATP has to work to think of how to lengthen tennis players’ careers.
“Can you imagine football players playing on cement?” Nadal has often been criticized for the length of time he takes between points but warnings for slow play have been few and far between.
ATP chiefs recently agreed that umpires would be expected to enforce the 20-seconds between points rule at grand slams, prompting criticism from leading players.
“Rule changes should be made to improve the sport,” he said.

“I don’t think the players in the dressing room are happy with the new rule and we’d like it to be modified and that the referee interpret when you can take longer rather than it be something mathematical.


Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

Updated 19 June 2018
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Heartbreak for Mohamed Salah and Egypt as Russia all but secure last-16 spot

ST. PETERSBURG: Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday, moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup’s knockout stage.
Mohamed Salah won and converted a penalty for a consolation goal on his return from injury but Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years could be over in barely five days following a second straight loss.
Ahmed Fathi poked the ball into his own net — the fifth own-goal of the tournament — to put Russia ahead in the 47th minute. Then Denis Cheryshev and Artyom Dzyuba scored in quick succession to leave Russia on course for a victory that followed up a 5-0 opening-night win over Saudi Arabia.
It was Cheryshev’s third goal of the World Cup, putting him tied with Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday. Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt, which started with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
The hopes of 100 million Egyptians were raised when Salah was selected in the starting lineup, the Liverpool forward making his comeback after 3 1/2 weeks out with damaged ligaments in his left shoulder after a tangle with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final.
Salah trotted out for his pre-match warmup to roars from Egypt fans, who at times appeared to outnumber their Russian counterparts. They shouted every time Salah’s face flashed up on the big screen and when his name was announced before kickoff.
Yet from the start, it was clear that Salah was staying out of anything too physical and there was no concerted effort from his Egypt teammates to pick him out each time. He didn’t touch the ball until the seventh minute.
He did win the penalty — confirmed by the video assistant referee after Salah was pulled down by Roman Zobnin. He converted it in the 73rd minute, but it wasn’t enough. Egypt is still without a victory in six World Cup matches.
Russia is nearly assured of advancing from the group stage for the first time since the Soviet era.
Cheryshev, who entered the World Cup as a fringe player, is proving lethal in front of goal, with his latest a side-footed effort from close range from Mario Fernandes’ cross in the 59th. Dzyuba’s goal was more direct, the striker chesting down a long ball from defender Ilya Kutepov, beating his marker and curling home a low finish.