Sports shorts: Shuttler Sourabh loses in Malaysia GP Gold final
India's Sourabh Verma suffered heartbreak in the men's singles final of the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold as he went down fighting in a three-game thriller against Simon Santoso of Indonesia in Johor Bahru in Malaysia on Sunday.
The 21-year-old from Madhya Pradesh squandered a one-game advantage to lose 21-15, 16-21, 19-21 to former World No 3 Simon in an energy-sapping match that lasted an hour and nine minutes at the Stadium Perbandaran Pasir Gudang.
World No 30 Sourabh, had recently clinched three titles -- TATA Open, Austrian International Challenge and Iran Fajr International Challenge.
With this win, the World No 56 Indonesian kept his unbeaten record intact against Sourabh. Simon had beaten the Indian in straight games in their only previous meeting in 2012 at the Indonesia Open.
Simon didn't take much time to get off the blocks, opening up a 4-2 lead and then extending it to 12-5. However, Sourabh soon found his rhythm back and slowly surpassed the Indonesian to reach 16-14. The Indian then reeled off five straight points to win the first game.
In the second game, Simon regrouped himself and surged to a massive 16-6 lead. Sourabh once again started dominating the proceedings and narrowed the margin down to 15-18, before the Indonesian moved to enjoy five-game point. The Indian saved one but Simon didn't give Sourabh any chance after that and roared back into the contest.
In the decider, Sourabh lead 9-5 initially but Simon clawed back at 10-10 before the Indian moved into the breather with a slender 11-10 lead.
After the break, the duo fought a fierce battle of supremacy with Sourabh breathing down Simon's neck. The eighth seeded Indian grabbed the lead at 19-18 but Simon once again wriggled out and then shut the door on his younger rival in the end.
Image: Sourabh Verma
Photographs: Indian Badminton League
Kaka double sees Milan triumph; Bayern lose
Playmaker Kaka received a standing ovation from the San Siro crowd after marking his 300th AC Milan appearance with two goals in a 3-0 win over hapless Chievo Verona in Serie A on Saturday.
The Brazilian produced a simple finish in the 27th minute and curled in a stunning long-range goal nine minutes after the break.
Mario Balotelli had volleyed the opener after four minutes as Milan continued their mini revival to climb to ninth place, level with Lazio on 42 points.
Clarence Seedorf's Milan have now gone three matches without defeat, a sequence that has offered the Dutch coach a reprieve after media speculation over his future.
"The goals mean a lot and it was a great night for us," said Kaka. "Tonight was a special achievement for me, 300 games and two goals and it was much more than I expected.
"Football is both great and ugly because of the fact everything changes so quickly. I said last week that the dressing room wasn't divided and you saw that tonight."
Chievo, who missed an injury-time penalty through Cyril Thereau, never looked like notching their first win over Milan at the San Siro.
Image: Kaka of AC Milan (C) celebrates scoring the third goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and AC Chievo Verona at San Siro Stadium in Milan on Saturday
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Chievo put up almost no resistance
The visitors gave an insipid display and are fifth from bottom on 27 points, three points clear of the relegation zone and one ahead of Bologna who were brushed aside 2-0 by red-hot Atalanta.
Two goals in six first-half minutes from Giuseppe De Luca and Marcelo Estigarribia gave Atalanta their sixth straight victory, a club record run that has lifted them to seventh place on 46 points.
Milan were on top from the start at the San Siro and it did not take them long to open the scoring.
An inswinging Kaka cross was headed out towards the right wing and Adil Rami whipped over a vicious ball that Balotelli expertly glanced home.
Chievo allowed Kaka to celebrate his special night with a gift of a goal just before the half-hour mark.
The defence stood still as Keisuke Honda dinked a delicate pass towards the 31-year-old who had all the time in the world to chest the ball down and roll in his sixth league goal of the campaign.
Honda was then involved in one of the misses of the season as the unmarked Japanese midfielder smashed the ball over from close range after Balotelli had rolled an inviting pass to him at the end of a slick counter attack.
Chievo put up almost no resistance and Kaka soon put the result beyond doubt with a vintage strike, collecting the ball on the edge of the area and curling a sublime shot in off the post.
Image: Keisuke Honda of AC Milan #10 and Nicolas Frey of AC Chievo Verona compete for the ball during their match on Saturday
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Hoffenheim snap Bayern's winning run
Hoffenheim surprisingly ended champions Bayern Munich's 19-game Bundesliga winning streak with a 3-3 draw after taking the lead and then fighting back from two goals down on Saturday.
Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus scored a hat-trick to bring his team back from two goals behind as they beat relegation-threatened VfB Stuttgart 3-2 to remain in second place.
Last season's treble winners Bayern, who are likely to be without their Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara for both legs of the Champions League quarter-final with Manchester United after he limped off with a suspected ligament injury, did manage to stretch their unbeaten domestic league run to 53 games.
Hoffenheim's Anthony Modeste silenced the Munich crowd, whose side secured the 2013/14 title at Hertha Berlin on Tuesday, by slotting in a 23rd minute goal.
The hosts, with a largely second-string team ahead of their first leg at United on Tuesday, then responded with three goals in an explosive nine-minute spell before a Hoffenheim comeback.
"Hoffenheim deserve congratulations because they played a very good pressing game," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola told reporters.
"But in the first half we were able to solve that problem. In the second half we were not good. We need to control the ball and when that is not the case we have a problem. We certainly must improve," he said.
Image: Hoffenheim's Anthony Modeste scores a goal past Bayern Munich's goalkeeper Tom Starke during their Bundesliga match in Munich on Saturday
Photographs: Michael Dalder/Reuters
Reus helps Dortmund rally to win
Germany international Reus was in scintillating form after Stuttgart shocked his visiting Dortmund side, who play at Real Madrid in the Champions League last eight on Wednesday, with two goals in the opening 19 minutes to take a firm grip on the game.
Christian Gentner put the home side ahead and Martin Harnik doubled their lead from point blank after a fine solo effort from Ibrahima Traore.
Reus's fine finish on the half hour put Dortmund back in the game and they turned up the heat in the second period with Robert Lewandowski hitting the woodwork and Reus firing narrowly wide.
He then converted a spot kick in the 68th and clinched the winner seven minutes from time to keep Dortmund a point ahead of Schalke 04 with six games left in the season.
Stuttgart, who were left with 10 men after a second booking for Georg Niedermeier, are in 17th place on 24 points.
There were more jeers than cheers in Leverkusen where fourth-placed Bayer had to settle for a 1-1 draw against bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig.
VfL Wolfsburg, in fifth, moved within a point of Leverkusen thanks to Brazilian Naldo's stunning 30-metre shot in the last minute to give them a 2-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Freiburg snatched a 3-2 win over Nuremberg to move up to 13th, five points away from the relegation zone. Nuremberg, who had Emanuel Pogatetz sent off in stoppage time for a second booking, are 15th.
Image: Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus celebrates a goal against Stuttgart on Saturday
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
Mickelson withdraws from Texas Masters
An abdominal injury has prompted three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson to pull out of the Texas Open, less than two weeks before the first major championship of 2014 at Augusta.
Mickelson, who was out of contention, pulled an oblique muscle midway through the third round at the TPC San Antonio on Saturday.
"I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit the ball hard on the second hole," Mickelson, who started his round on the 10th hole, said in a statement.
"It wouldn't subside for 10 or 12 seconds. I'm going to go back to San Diego for a couple of days and have a doctor take a look at it but there's really not much you can do for a pulled muscle."
The injury scare comes as world number one Tiger Woods battles to regain his health in time for the April 10-13 Masters.
Woods has been plagued by back spasms the past month and did not defend his title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida last week.
Caddie Jim Mackay indicated that Mickelson withdrew as a precaution.
"He's trying to get ready for Augusta, hitting a lot of drivers, hitting them a little harder and he hit one… and felt a little pain in his side," Mackay told NBC television.
"It continued on for a few minutes and he decided he didn't want to take anything to chance relative to what's going on the next couple of weeks."
Mickelson, 43, was planning to play the Houston Open next week as a final Masters tune-up, but his participation is now in doubt.
His injury did not seem to be related to a back problem he had earlier in the year, Mickelson said.
"My back's feeling great, my body's been feeling great. I felt as good as I have all year. My speed is back, I was hitting the ball hard, driving it great."
Mickelson barely made the cut at the Texas Open on Friday, after splashing a recovery shot out of the greenside creek at the 36th hole, before sinking a five-foot putt to survive for the weekend.
Image: Phil Mickelson
Photographs: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images