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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Bhat, Varma in pre-quarter-finals of NZ Open

Sports Shorts: Bhat, Varma in pre-quarter-finals of NZ Open

Last updated on: April 16, 2014 21:35 IST

Sports Shorts: Bhat, Varma in pre-quarter-finals of NZ Open

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German Open winner Arvind Bhat and Malaysia Open finalist Sourabh Varma advanced to the pre-quarter-finals of New Zealand Open with straight-game victories in the men's singles of the US $50,000 Grand Prix event in Auckland.

World No 65 Arvind staved off a stiff challenge from Hsu Jui Ting, ranked 164, to notch a 21-17, 25-23 victory in 37 minutes.

The Bangalore shuttler will square off with Malaysia's Tang Jie Chen next.

Sourabh, who recently clinched three titles – Tata Open, Austrian International Challenge and Iran Fajr International Challenge, thrashed New Zealand's Dylan Henton 21-11, 21-12 in another match.

The World No 31 Indian will next take on 14th seed Kuei Chun Shih of Chinese Taipei.

Arvind's match was a hard-fought battle as Ting recovered from 4-9 to 10-10 in the first game but the Indian did not give him any chance after that and comfortably pocketed the game.

In the second game also, Ting fought back from 6-11 down to reach 11-11. Arvind moved ahead to open up a 17-12 lead but Ting soon turned the tables at 21-20. But Arvind's experience helped him to wriggle out and seal the issue.

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Image: Sourabh Varma


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Real's Ronaldo to miss Cup final against Barca

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Real Madrid top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Wednesday's King's Cup final against Barcelona after failing to recover from knee and thigh muscle problems, coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday.

The Portugal captain and Ballon d'Or winner has missed Real's last three matches since limping off near the end of the Champions League quarter-final, first leg against Borussia Dortmund on April 2.

Ancelotti said on Friday there was a still a chance Ronaldo might recover for the clash at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia but confirmed at a news conference the player was unavailable.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is out, we have a lot of players sidelined," said Ancelotti, who will also be without longer-term absentees Jese, Sami Khedira, Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo.

"But we have a lot of confidence in this team," added the Italian, who declined to answer a question about who would start the Cup final in Ronaldo's absence.

"It has always reacted well to injuries and I think we can also do things very well tomorrow."

The latest edition of Spain's 'Clasico' between arch-rivals Real and Barca is their 228th meeting and a repeat of the 2011 Cup final, also held at the Mestalla, when Ronaldo's extra-time header secured a 1-0 win.

The Portuguese is top scorer in La Liga and the Champions League this season and Ancelotti will be desperate to have him back for the semi-finals of Europe's elite club competition later this month when they play holders Bayern Munich over two legs.

"We are losing a player with incredible quality. But it could be that Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence will motivate the rest of the team even more," Ancelotti said.

"The matches we have played without him have gone very well, working harder, running more and working together more.

"Working as a unit is the of course the objective and that is what we have been training for.

"I don’t think there will be any problem motivating the players tomorrow, they are all very motivated and very excited. I am seeing a lot of desire to play this final."

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Image: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts
Photographs: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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Dortmund's winning run earns them Cup final spot

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In-form Borussia Dortmund kept up their hopes of a trophy this season, easing past VfL Wolfsburg 2-0 on Tuesday with goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Robert Lewandowski to reach the German Cup final.

Three-times winners Dortmund, who last lifted the trophy in 2012, could face holders and rivals Bayern Munich, who play second division's Kaiserslautern in the last four on Wednesday, in the final on May 17 in Berlin.

"For us today it was kind of a reward for all our efforts in the past few weeks," Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp, whose team beat both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich last week, told reporters.

"We did a lot things well but we had an opponent who was fresh and played great football. We had to do a lot of running to close the spaces and it was hard."

Fired up by a ear-splittingly loud 80,000 strong crowd, the hosts, who beat champions Bayern 3-0 in the league on Saturday, grabbed a well-deserved 13th minute lead when Armenian Mkhitaryan rifled in after a fine solo effort.

It took some time for the visitors to recover but they came agonisingly close four minutes before the break with Junior Malanda's header hitting the base of the post and fellow Belgium international Kevin De Bruyne's shot whizzing narrowly wide.

But it was Dortmund who scored again two minutes later with Poland international Lewandowski, left unmarked in the box, drilling in a Marco Reus cutback for his 100th goal for the club in all competitions.

It will be his last chance to win another title with Dortmund, who also beat Real Madrid 2-0 last week but were eliminated 3-2 on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-finals, before joining Bayern next season.

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Image: Head coach Juergen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund gives a press conference
Photographs: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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Misbehave and you won't make World Cup squad: Prandelli

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Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has warned that players won't be considered for the World Cup if they are sent off or caught misbehaving in club matches before the end of the season.

He also effectively ruled out veteran AS Roma forward Francesco Totti's hopes of making the squad but would not commit himself on the chances of injured striker Giuseppe Rossi.

Prandelli, famous for his tough disciplinary stand against bad behaviour, was speaking to reporters as 42 World Cup hopefuls gathered for two days of fitness tests at Italy's national team headquarters outside Florence.

"This morning I faced the players and reminded them that the code of ethics will remain in force in the final month (before the World Cup)," said Prandelli.

"Anyone who messes around will stay at home, because it will mean that they can't handle the pressure of a World Cup.

"I'm sick and tired of seeing certain types of behaviour. National team players should have the strength to avoid rising to provocation.

"But I'm convinced that nobody will make a mistake. When I spoke to the players about this, none of them objected," he added.

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Image: Head coach Italy Cesare Prandelli during a training camp in Rome
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

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Djokovic cruises in to third round at Monte Carlo

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Novak Djokovic opened his Monte Carlo Masters title defence with a 6-1, 6-0 demolition of Spanish qualifier Albert Montanes on Tuesday to reach the third round.

In his first claycourt match of the season, the Serbian world number two won 11 games in succession from 1-1 in a 45-minute stroll on centre court.
Djokovic, bidding to become the first player to achieve an Indian Wells-Miami-Monte Carlo Masters treble in the same season, ended his opponent's ordeal on his first match point with a volley, having broken five times and saved four break points.

Fifth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic was made to work hard to dismiss Russian Dmitry Tursunov 7-5, 6-4, while Spain's David Ferrer, the sixth seed, stormed into the third round with a 6-3, 6-0 thrashing of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

But it was Djokovic who had the easier day.

"For the first match on clay, it was great. I lost only one game, so there were not too many flaws in my game that I could recall," said Djokovic, who has been nursing a wrist problem for a week.

"I have a certain problem that I carry for the last week or so with the wrist," he explained. "The short match today helped definitely. So I'm going to have some time to heal it."

Djokovic, who 12 months ago ended Rafael Nadal's eight-year reign in the principality, has won the last four Masters events he has played, prevailing in Shanghai, Paris, Indian Wells and Miami and also won the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals.


Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia thanks the support after defeating Albert Montanes of Spain
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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