Archive for September, 2019

Stokes leads England to dramatic win at Lord’s

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

The fiery all-rounder dismissed Kane Williamson for 27 and Brendon McCullum for a golden duck before a defiant sixth-wicket partnership of 107 between Corey Anderson and BJ Watling gave New Zealand hope of salvaging a draw.

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But Mark Wood removed Watling for 59, Anderson was lbw to Joe Root for 67 and England quickly got rid of Mark Craig and Tim Southee.

Last-wicket-pair Matt Henry and Trent Boult survived for eight overs amid mounting tension before the latter was brilliantly caught at third man by a diving Moeen Ali off Stuart Broad as the Kiwis were bowled out for 220.

New Zealand, chasing 345 for victory, collapsed to 12 for three before lunch but Williamson and Watling lifted them to 61 for three.

Stokes, who struck the fastest test century at the home of cricket on Sunday, had the obdurate Williamson caught by Root in the slips for 27 before bowling captain McCullum with a venomous delivery that cut back sharply.

Anderson survived the hat-trick ball and immediately went on the attack, hitting Stokes for two fours and a six, and he continued to play positively alongside the more circumspect Watling as New Zealand took tea on 134 for five.

Wood broke the partnership when Watling gloved a fast straight delivery to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler and Anderson was trapped by Root.

Stokes returned to bowl Craig for four with a rapid full-pitched delivery and Southee was caught and bowled by Moeen for 20.

James Anderson and Broad had ripped out the top order to give England the scent of victory before lunch.

Martin Guptill edged Anderson’s second ball of the innings to Gary Ballance at third slip.

Broad trapped Tom Latham lbw with his first delivery to reduce the touring side to nought for two and he also dismissed Ross Taylor in the same manner as New Zealand slumped to 12 for three.

Earlier, Kiwi left-armer Boult picked up the last four wickets in under an hour as England were bowled out for 478.

The hosts resumed on 429 for six and Boult had captain Alastair Cook caught by wicketkeeper Latham for 162 before bowling Broad for 10.

Moeen was lbw for 43 and Anderson was bowled for nought to give Boult figures of five for 85 in the innings and nine wickets in the match.

(Editing by Justin Palmer)

Coric leads teenage assault on Roland Garros

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Coric, who plays with a maturity way beyond his years and is already in the world’s top 50, beat experienced American Sam Querrey in four sets while wildcard Kokkinakis, one of his country’s exciting brigade of young guns, battled past Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, also in four.

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Tiafoe, who only turned 17 in January and is the youngest of the seven teenagers in the main draw, found his first grand slam appearance a chastening one as he lost 6-2 6-1 6-4 to hard-hitting Slovakian Martin Klizan.

“It was great. I had a blast. I didn’t play my best today. Hopefully I can play again in the main draw next year,” wide-eyed wildcard Tiafoe, looking every bit the nervy teenager, said in front of the world’s media.

“It’s definitely different, walking around, seeing the greats in the locker room.

“But it’s great. Definitely fun.”

Tiafoe will be one to watch in the future but Coric is already looking like the real deal, with comparisons already being made to a young Novak Djokovic.

The 18-year-old, also making his debut at Roland Garros having rapidly scaled the ATP rankings to reach 46th, looked like a seasoned professional, saving a set point in the opener on his way to a 7-6(8) 6-3 0-6 6-3 victory over Querrey.

Apart from a wobble in the third set Coric had too much craft for the world number 38.

“It’s for sure a motivation, it gives you more self-belief to know that someone else who’s your age can do it,” Coric said of the new brigade.

Spanish claycourt specialist Tommy Robredo waits in the next round, although with a win against Nadal and Murray already on his CV, Coric will not go in to that clash feeling daunted.

Nick Kyrgios, 20, is already established as head boy in Australia’s new golden generation after his stunning Wimbledon upset of Nadal last year, but Kokkinakis, 19, looks like keeping him company in the years ahead.

Already up to 84th in the rankings after winning his first claycourt title, a Challenger in Bordeaux this month, he delighted a sizeable Aussie contingent with some dazzling tennis against Basilashvili.

Fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic, himself only 22, is next.

“Feel like I’m playing good enough tennis to knock him off. Should be a good match,” Kokkinakis said.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Justin Palmer)

Stosur keen to come up for air

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Samantha Stosur expressed relief at overcoming a frantic French Open build-up to safely progress to the second round at Roland Garros for the 10th time.

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Stosur’s 6-1 6-3 dispatch of American Madison Brengle on Monday edged the in-form 26th seed to within a win of a likely third-round confrontation with defending champion Maria Sharapova.

The former runner-up and two-time semi-finalist will be a raging favourite to keep up her end of the bargain with victory over lowly-ranked French qualifier Amandine Hesse on Wednesday.

But before plotting a path past the world No.272, Stosur was eager to come up for air.

Stosur’s last-minute acceptance of a wildcard into Strasbourg may have yielded a morale-boosting first title of the season, but it also left the Australian No.1 in mad scramble to make it to Paris.

She only arrived at midnight on Saturday before squeezing in brief practise session on Sunday and hitting Court 3 for her tournament opener less than 24 hours later.

The former US Open champion hadn’t even unpacked before powering past Brengle, the world No.36, in barely an hour.

“I have done a few loads of washing and there is stuff everywhere. I need to go to the supermarket to get some food,” Stosur said.

“You feel like everything has been kind of a whirlwind. Obviously this was a very quick turnaround, coming here and then playing straight away, so it was nice to get through this one.

“Now I feel like I can practice and then settle in, do a few things and then take it from there.”

Stosur’s resurgence since reuniting with long-time coach David Taylor last month – after falling out of the top 20 for the first time in five years – has raised hopes of another title push on her favourite claycourt surface.

“I have played some of my best tennis here. I like the court and the surface and everything else,” she said.

“Having said that, I have also had some disappointing experiences as well, so it doesn’t mean that is all plain sailing and that you are rolling in and everything is fantastic.

“But I know that my game suits here, if I can put it all together and keep doing what I am doing, I know that I can do well.”

Sharapova and Murray show off title credentials

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Defending champion Sharapova was nursing a cold but opened her bid for a third Roland Garros title in four years with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Estonian Kaia Kanepi on a breezy Court Phillipe Chatrier.

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Men’s third seed Murray then took his winning streak on the red dust to 11 matches by overpowering Argentine lucky loser Facundo Arguello 6-3 6-3 6-1, maintaining his unbeaten run since marrying long-term partner Kim Sears.

Sharapova, who was also champion in 2012 and runner-up in 2013 despite an intense dislike for the surface earlier in her illustrious career, produced her usual power tennis to ease through to the second round.

It was not a perfect performance, perhaps due to the cough that was troubling her, but she never looked in danger as she set up a meeting with fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko.

Sharapova left to a few boos though after declining an on-court interview.

“Unless I’m really in my coffin I’m going to be out there,” she told reporters. “I got sick a week before the tournament, not right before.

“I guess it’s a little bit better timing but it’s just the way it is. I’m getting over it, hopefully it will pass soon.”

DARK HORSE

The world number two is in the opposite side of the draw to her old nemesis, top seed Serena Williams, and will need to be 100 percent to negotiate her way through to the final.

Former runner-up Samantha Stosur, an easy winner against American Madison Brengle, could await in the third round while eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, tipped as a dark horse for the title, is a possible foe in the quarter-finals.

Suarez Navarro beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-2 6-2 but several seeds tumbled on day two in swanky western Paris.

Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, the men’s 11th seed, became the highest casualty so far, losing 6-3 7-6 (9) 6-3 to Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili while women’s 14th seed Agnieszka Radwanska’s slump continued as the former world number two succumbed 6-2 3-6 6-1 to Germany’s Annika Beck.

American veteran Venus Williams, seeded 15, also lost, although a 7-6 (5) 6-1 defeat by compatriot Sloane Stephens barely registered on the shock scale.

With nine-times champion Rafa Nadal and top seed Novak Djokovic keeping their powder dry until Tuesday, Murray joined Roger Federer in getting a head start with a confident display on Court Phillipe Chatrier.

There were a few early nerves, a double-fault in the opening game giving Arguello a break point that he could not convert and again when he allowed his 137th-ranked opponent to recover from 3-0 down to level at 3-3 in the first set.

Once Murray, twice a French Open semi-finalist, broke in the eighth game though he was untroubled.

“I hope (nerves) are always there,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time I played a first-round match in a slam and did not feel nervous.”

Murray was joined in the second round by fourth seed Tomas Berdych who beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0 7-5 6-3.

Nishioka was one of seven teenagers in the men’s draw, two of whom produced excellent wins on Monday.

Croatian Borna Coric, 18, beat American Sam Querrey 7-6 (8) 6-3 0-6 6-3 while Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis, 19, put out Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Kokkinakis will face countryman Bernard Tomic next.

Nick Kyrgios, yet another Aussie young gun, lived up to his 29th seeding by breezing past Denis Istomin.

Home crowds flocking in to the grounds had plenty to cheer too with French number one Alize Cornet opening proceedings on centre court with a fighting 4-6 6-4 6-1 triumph over Italian Roberta Vinci and the ever-popular Gael Monfils, the 13th seed, defeating compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Stephens downs Venus to advance into Paris round two

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

It was not a major surprise though as Stephens has reached the fourth round of the claycourt grand slam in the past three years.

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She will face Briton Heather Watson next.

Seven-times grand slam champion Williams, whose best result in Paris is a runner-up spot in 2002 but had not gone past the second round in the last four years, made the better start, opening a 2-0 lead but Stephens proved more accurate.

The 22-year-old broke back and sent the opening set into a tiebreak, which she easily won as her opponent, whom she had never met, netted a forehand.

The 34-year-old Williams never recovered and looked short of energy in the second set as Stephens raced to a 3-0 lead and never looked back, ending the baseline contest with an ace.

“I feel like I had some good practices coming into Roland Garros but sometimes things don’t always work out the way you would like,” said Williams.

Stephens’s biggest fright of the match came in the second game of the second set, when a pigeon came down flying past her as she was about to receive a serve.

“First of all, I didn’t know what it was,” an amused Stephens, who reached the semi-finals at the Strasbourg Internationals last week, told a news conference.

“I thought it was way closer to me than it actually was. So that was why I screamed so loud. And I don’t know, in the moment, things just happen and it was just scary and I was like, ahhh and a scream came out.

“And then she probably wasn’t happy because she probably would have hit an ace and it was just a weird moment.”

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Martyn Herman and Justin Palmer)