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Sports Shorts: Saina crashes out in first round of Singapore Open

Last updated on: April 09, 2014 20:25 IST

Saina crashes out in first round of Singapore Open



India's ace shuttler Saina Nehwal's poor form in the international arena continued as she crashed out of the $300,000 Singapore Super Series after losing to Eriko Hirose of Japan in the opening round of the women's singles in Singapore on Wednesday.

However, other Indians in the fray -- B Sai Praneeth, H S Prannoy and P C Thulasi -- advanced to the second round of the tournament after contrasting victories on the opening day of the main draw.

World No. 8 Saina fought for 62 minutes before losing 21-16, 15-21, 11-21 to her lower-ranked Japanese opponent.

Also read: Still as much in love with Shoaib as when we got married: Sania

The London Olympics bronze medallist hardly had to break sweat in the opening game, though. Dominating from the word go, the Hyderabad-based shuttler opened up a 5-2 lead and eventually extended it to 13-4, before wrapping it up 21-16 in style.

Saina, seeded seventh, started the second game also well as she took a 4-2 lead. But the Japanese quickly got her act together and from tied 4-4 position, she surged ahead to 10-4.

Thereafter, the Indian was always on the backfoot and was playing the catching-up game.

Hirose finally stole the game 21-15 to take the match to the decider.

In the final game, the Japanese straightaway moved up 5-0 and maintained a comfortable cushion to seal it off.

In other women's singles first round matches, Arundhati Pantawane fought hard before going down to another Japanese Shizuka Uchida 21-16, 11-21 15-21 in just over an hour, while top seed and Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China made mincemeat of Tanvi Lad during her 21-6, 21-11 win.

However, P C Thulasi notched a 21-13, 21-16 victory over New Zealand's Anna Rankin to set up a second round clash with world No 2 Chinese Yihan Wang, who was runner-up at the India Super Series last week.

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Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images


Jamaican sprinter Simpson handed 18-month doping ban

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Athens Olympics relay champion Sherone Simpson has been suspended for 18 months after testing positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrine during last June's Jamaican trials.

Simpson was the second Jamaican athlete to be handed a doping ban on Tuesday as Olympic discus thrower Allison Randall was suspended for two years after she too failed a drugs test during the 2013 national trials.

"Miss Simpson has admitted the anti-doping violation and ... now having listened and reviewed all the evidence and listened to the detailed submissions of councils, this panel is unanimously of the view that Ms Simpson was negligent in all the circumstances as an elite athlete and as such, the period of ineligibility will be 18 months," Lennox Gayle, a member of the Jamaica Anti-doping Disciplinary panel, said.

During a hearing in January, Simpson said a supplement provided by her Canadian trainer was responsible for her positive test.

Simpson's agent Paul Doyle said on Tuesday she would lodge an appeal against the ban.

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Image: Sherone Simpson of Jamaica
Photographs: Michael Steele/Getty Images

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Thorpe 'in good spirits' as he fights infection

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Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe is in "good spirits" in a Sydney hospital as he fights a serious infection and reports that he might lose the use of his arm are "nonsense", his manager said on Wednesday.

The five-time Olympic champion, who retired after the Athens Olympics before making an unsuccessful comeback bid for the 2012 London Games, contracted the infection after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this year.

"He's fine, he's a battler," James Erskine told Channel 9's Today programme.

"He's in good spirits, you know, he's got drips in, he's got antibiotics and all that sort of thing so he's not exactly going to swim in the Commonwealth Games tomorrow."

Erskine said he was not sure how long Thorpe, who attended the wedding of Britain's Prince William in 2011 and might have been expected to catch up with the royal on the upcoming tour of Australia, would remain in hospital.

"As of yesterday he's not in intensive care. He's a sick boy, he's not going to get out and have a cup of coffee and go and meet Prince William," he said of the 31-year-old.

"At the end of the day he's fighting it, he's got an infection and like any of these infections you get in hospitals, they have to take it seriously."

As for Tuesday's reports that the infection could leave Thorpe without the use of his left arm, Erskine was dismissive.

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Image: Ian Thorpe

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Paes hails India's Davis Cup win over Korea

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India's veteran tennis star Leander Paes gave kudos to the Somdev Devvarman-spearheaded squad for clinching the Davis Cup play-off berth with a 3-1 away game victory over South Korea last week, but cautioned that the next tie against Serbia would be a difficult one.

"The next tie is going to be a tough one but kudos to all our boys for a job well done in Korea," Paes said.

While praising the squad, the 40-year-old Atlanta Olympic Games bronze medal winner said that India need to become stronger in singles play to take on stronger opponents in the World Group.

"The boys did well, but at the same time we have a long way to go as far the singles players are concerned to play against the world group nations," said Paes, a seven-time Grand Slam winner in men's doubles and mixed doubles.

Paes felt that India had a few options in doubles play in contrast to the singles and in this respect the victory over Korea was good.

Recalling India's halcyon days as the top tennis- playing nation in Asia, Paes said the country had slipped down the pecking order a bit in the continent.

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Image: Leander Paes
Photographs: Getty Images

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PCB issues show cause notice to Afridi

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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has issued a show cause notice to flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi for speaking to the media after returning from Dhaka recently after taking part in the World T20 tournament.

The notice was issued after some members of the national team relayed their reservations to the board over the comments made by the outspoken Afridi, according to sources in the board.

Afridi told the media at the airport that Pakistan team had not shown an aggressive mindset in the match against the West Indies which led to their ouster from the tournament before the semi-finals.

He also said that if offered the captaincy he was ready to take up the challenge for the sake of the nation and team.

One of the sources said that Afridi had been asked to explain why he spoke to the media when only the captain and team officials were told to do so after the return.

Afridi is being tipped to take over as the captain of the T20 side after Muhammad Hafeez stepped down from the post after returning home.

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Image: Shahid Afridi of Pakistan
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Latif turns down offer for chief selector

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Pakistan's former captain and wicketkeeper Rashid Latif has turned down the offer for the post of chief selector in the Pakistan Cricket Board.

He informed the board via e-mail on Wednesday that he is not willing to take up the responsibility as he did not want to get involved in any controversies.

"There should be and are no hard feelings between me or the board. I thought about the offer and decided not to accept it because I don't want to get involved in controversies," Latif said.

There have been a number of stories in the media about Latif being unhappy with the board over his assignment to take over as the chief selector.

The former player apparently had started having second thoughts when the board dragged its feet on giving approval to the rest of the national selection committee for whom Latif had made some recommendations.

Latif confirmed he had recommended the names of former Test batsman Muhammad Yousuf, former opener Wajahatullah Wasti and former Test pacer Shabbir Ahmed, but declined to comment on reports that the board instead wanted him to work with former selectors -- Azhar Khan and Saleem Jaffer.

Latif said he would not like to make any more statements on the issue and wished the PCB and its chairman Najam Sethi well.

"I hope Pakistan cricket flourishes under Sethi," he said.

Latif, one of the most enigmatic characters in Pakistan cricket, was designated the new chief selector last month by the board that announced he would take over from April 1.

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Image: Rashid Latif
Photographs: Getty Images

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Burnley win to move closer to Premier League promotion

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Burnley moved a step closer to promotion to the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Barnsley that consolidated second spot in the English Championship on Tuesday.

Ashley Barnes headed the winner after seven minutes for Burnley who have 83 points and are now six behind already-promoted leaders Leicester City, who were thrashed 4-1 at home by playoff-chasing Brighton & Hove Albion who are seventh.

With only two clubs going up automatically and the next four entering the playoffs, Derby County won 3-1 at Blackpool to move up to third on 72 points with five games remaining.

They are two points clear of Queens Park Rangers, who are fourth having lost 2-0 at Blackburn Rovers, while fifth-placed FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic, who play Arsenal in the semi-finals at Wembley on Saturday, lost 1-0 at home to Millwall.

Sixth-placed Reading are still four points behind Wigan on 63 having lost 3-1 at Bournemouth who, along with Ipswich Town - 2-0 winners at Huddersfield Town - and Brighton, have 61 points and are within two points of the playoffs.

Promotion to the Premier League brings vast financial rewards, with a 2013 report by the Sports Business Group at Deloitte saying it could be worth up to 120 million pounds, much of that from broadcast rights.

Image: Sam Vokes of Burnley celebrates
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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