Sharapova strolls into Qatar semis

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Updated 16 February 2013
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Sharapova strolls into Qatar semis

DOHA: Maria Sharapova continued her untroubled progress at the Qatar Open yesterday, brushing aside Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.
The Russian, who began the week with the possibility of reclaiming the world No. 1 ranking, has not dropped a set in her three matches, a feat equaled by world No.1 Victoria Azarenka who saw off Italian Sara Errani 6-2, 6-2.
American Serena Williams, 31, will return to the top of the rankings if she beats Petra Kvitova later in the day to set up a semifinal showdown with Sharapova.
Should 15-times grand slam champion Williams beat the Czech she will go back to No.1 for the first time since October 2010 and become the oldest woman to top the rankings.
Sharapova held an 11-2 career record over Stosur and was never threatened during an 82-minute victory.
Australian Open champion Azarenka’s hopes of holding on to the top ranking are out of her hands, even if she wins the title.
Nadal cruises
In Sao Paulo, Rafael Nadal beat Joao Souza of Brazil 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Brazil Open, his second tournament since returning from a left knee injury.
Nadal broke Souza’s service late in each set to win in 1 hour, 18 minutes at the indoor clay-court tournament in South America’s biggest city.
The victory over the 140th-ranked Brazilian came a day after Nadal withdrew from the doubles tournament to look after the sore knee, which had kept him sidelined for seven months.
Earlier in the day, defending champion Nicolas Almagro of Spain reached the quarterfinals by beating Chilean qualifier Paul Capdeville 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.
The 11th-ranked Almagro won the last four games to stay on track for his third straight title in Sao Paulo — and fourth overall.
The second-seeded Spaniard will face David Nalbandian, who beat Guido Pella 6-4, 6-2 in an all-Argentine match.
The Brazil Open is Almagro’s first tournament since his five-set loss to compatriot David Ferrer in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.
Third-seeded Juan Monaco lost an opening-round match for the third time this season, falling to Simone Bolelli of Italy 7-5, 6-2.
The 15th-ranked Argentine had his service broken four times in the second-round loss at the Ibirapuera arena. Monaco, who had a bye in the first round, lost his opening match at the Australian Open and last week in Vina del Mar, Chile.
The 80th-ranked Bolelli needed 1 hour, 16 minutes to defeat Monaco and advance to the quarterfinals in Brazil. He will face Albert Montanes, who beat seventh-seeded Pablo Andujar, also of Spain, 7-5, 6-2.
Italy’s Filippo Volandri won 6-3, 6-2 against fifth-seeded Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil’s top ranked player.
Dimitrov rallies
In Rotterdam, Netherlands, Grigor Dimitrov rallied from a set down to beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-7 (4), 7-6 (0), 6-3 and book a place in the semifinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament yesterday.
Baghdatis took the first-set tiebreak after neither player managed to break serve. Both then broke once in the second set before Dimitrov ran away with the tiebreak, not allowing Baghdatis a single point.
The talented Bulgarian broke Baghdatis’ first service game of the final set to set up his win, before leaping over the net to hug Baghdatis.
Dimitrov said he made the jump with “my last one percent of power.” In other quarterfinals, Roger Federer played Julien Benneteau, Juan Martin del Potro played Jarkko Nieminen, and Martin Klizan faced Gilles Simon.


Danish Kaneria admits guilt in spot-fixing scandal

Updated 36 min 55 sec ago
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Danish Kaneria admits guilt in spot-fixing scandal

LONDON: Pakistan’s Danish Kaneria has finally admitted his role in a fixing scandal that led to the imprisonment of former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield after six years of denials.
Kaneria, who was given a life ban by English cricket chiefs that effectively applied worldwide, said: “My name is Danish Kaneria and I admit that I was guilty of the two charges brought against me by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2012.”
Leg-spinner Kaneria, who insisted he was repentant as he called for his life ban to be overturned, added: “I want to apologize to Mervyn Westfield, my Essex team-mates, my Essex cricket club, my Essex cricket fans. I say sorry to Pakistan.”
Westfield spent two months at Belmarsh prison in south-east London after pleading guilty to accepting £6,000 ($7,862) from an illegal bookmaker, Anu Bhatt, to concede 12 runs in his first over of an English county 40-over game against Durham in 2009. He conceded only 10, but still took the money.
Kaneria was the “middle-man” in the scam, having introduced Westfield to Bhatt, but avoided criminal charges when English legal authorities decided they lacked the evidence for a conviction.
Now 37, Kaneria remains Pakistan’s leading spinner with 261 Test wickets.

FORGIVENESS

He last played for Pakistan in the Trent Bridge Test of 2010, and has not appeared in any first-class game since March 2012, with all major boards upholding the ECB ban under International Cricket Council guidance.
“I want to ask people’s forgiveness,” said Kaneria.
“Cricket has given me so much in my life and I want to give something back.
“If the ECB and ICC and other bodies would give me a second chance I can help to educate young people in cricket, teach them that if you do wrong you are finished like me.”
Kaneria said the fear of embarrassing his father, who died in 2013 and had been suffering from cancer, explained part of the reason behind his repeated denials of wrongdoing.
“His health was getting worse and worse,” he recalled.
“I didn’t have the courage to face him and tell him that I was wrong. He was a very, very proud guy. Very, very proud of me and what I did, representing Pakistan, representing my country.
“I want to apologize to my father, who has always been a role model for me.”
Meanwhile Westfield told the Daily Mail he accepted Kaneria’s apology, saying: “This whole chapter of spot-fixing changed my life, but I have never blamed anyone for the terrible mistake I made.
“However, opening up about my wrongdoing and telling the truth allowed me to move on,” added Westfield, now 30, who was banned from professional cricket for five years after being released from jail but has since played club and minor county matches.
“I hope that Danish finds peace and closure by doing this, and I wish him all the best for the future.”