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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports shorts: Sania-Cara storm into Indian Wells final

Sports shorts: Sania-Cara storm into Indian Wells final

Last updated on: March 14, 2014 22:01 IST

Sports shorts: Sania-Cara in Indian Wells final; Saina in QF

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Indian tennis sensation  Sania Mirza and Zimbabwean Cara Black are in line for their first title of season.

They defeated Lucie Hradecka and Jie Zheng to reach the final of the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open.

The fifth seeded Indo-Zimbabwean pair defeated the eighth seeded Czech-Chinese team 6-4, 3-6, 10-7 in an hour and 37 minutes in the semi-final of the $ 5,946,740 hard court event.

It will be the first final of the 2014 season for Sania-Cara, who had won two back-to-back titles at the end of the previous season.

Before this event, in the season's four tournaments, they twice suffered a first round exit and reached quarter-finals of the other two, including the Australian Open.

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Image: Sania Mirza of India and Cara Black of Zimbabwe celebrate
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

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Azarenka withdraws from Miami; Anelka accept five-match ban

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Victoria Azarenka announced on Thursday she is withdrawing from next week's Sony Open in Miami because of a foot injury.

The Belarussian has been plagued by a problem with her left foot for the past month but played through the pain. Now, however, she says she needs to take a break to get it healed.

"I love playing in the US and my results in the past were also great. But it's now been over a year that it seems bad luck has been following me," she said.

"I couldn't play in Miami last year with a problem in my ankle and now this with my foot. It is time for me to think about my recovery and I will work hard for that."

Azarenka's foot problems flared up at the Australian Open in January, where she was attempting to win the title for the third year in a row.

She was beaten by Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-finals and did not play again until this week's BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where she lost her opening match to Lauren Davis.

The Sony Open, one of the biggest tournaments outside the Grand Slams, has long been one of Azarenka's favourite events. She won the title in 2009, beating Serena Williams in the final, then again in 2011 when she defeated Maria Sharapova.

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Image: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters

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Anelka, FA accept five-match ban

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Nicolas Anelka has decided not to appeal against the five-match ban imposed for his controversial 'quenelle' gesture, the FA said on Thursday.

The 34-year-old French forward and West Bromwich Albion striker was suspended for his goal celebration during a Premier League match against West Ham United.

Anelka had until Thursday to appeal but the FA said the player had confirmed to them he would not be doing so.

The soccer body had already said it would not be appealing to extend the sanction either.

"We do not consider there is a real prospect of successfully appealing to extend the sanction," the FA declared on its website.

"Having carefully considered the written reasons of the Independent Regulatory Commission together with our appointed QC, The FA confirm they will not be appealing the sanction imposed on Nicolas Anelka," it added.

"The grounds of appeal available to The FA are limited to legal challenges or to circumstances in which the sanction imposed is 'so unduly lenient as to be unreasonable'."

The regulatory commission had found that the 'quenelle' gesture Anelka used was "strongly associated with anti-Semitic sentiments and anti-Zionist politics".

It ruled that while there was no proof Anelka was "expressing or promoting" anti-Semitism when he used the inverted Nazi salute, the gesture was in itself offensive enough to warrant his five-match ban.

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Image: Nicolas Anelka of West Brom
Photographs: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

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Hamilton on top after first day of new season

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Lewis Hamilton lent some credibility to the hype surrounding Mercedes by posting the fastest time in Friday practice at the Australian Grand Prix, as the Formula One season kicked off with teams still battling reliability problems.

The 2008 world champion could not finish a lap in the first session due to a sensor problem, but topped the time sheets in the second with a lap of one minute 29.625 seconds on a glorious sunny day at Albert Park.

Hamilton's quickest edged out team mate Nico Rosberg by 0.157 seconds as the pace of the two Mercedes' drivers carried on from their promising performances in winter testing.

"I was trying to feel the car. I missed obviously P1 which I felt like was a big back-step," Hamilton told reporters in the paddock.

"I'm satisfied with P2 ... Not the most perfect day but I'm really glad I got some run in P2 and just grateful I got some time to feel the car.

"For me, it didn't feel like a good lap. I'd only done a few laps until then. So I've still got a lot to improve on, a lot to find (out). Otherwise the balance doesn't feel too bad."

Teams struggled to come to terms with the new turbocharged hybrid engines during pre-season, and continued to battle glitches during practice, with drivers cooling their heels for long stretches in the garages, as technicians tinkered frantically.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso handled conditions better than most, posting the quickest lap of one minute 31.840 seconds in the first session and finishing third fastest in the second.

Reigning quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel had a couple of nervy skids, coming onto the grass at one point in the later session, but finished an encouraging fourth, having endured a dismal winter testing with Red Bull.

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Image: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP
Photographs: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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Saina meets Wang in Swiss Open quarter-finals

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London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal set up a quarter-final meeting with world No 3 and top seed Yihan Wang of China, while Commonwealth Games bronze winner Parupalli Kashyap also made it to the last eight stage in the US $125,000 Swiss Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament in Basel.

The 23-year-old from Hyderabad registered an easy 21-7, 21-13 win over Sashina Vignes Waran of France in 34 minutes.

Kashyap, however, had to toil before prevailing over Malaysia's Beryno Jiann Tze Wong 21-23, 21-9, 21-14 in 57 minutes.

He will meet Chinese Taipei's Tien Chen Chou in the quarter-finals.

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Image: Saina Nehwal
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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'Schumacher's accident happened for a reason'

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Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton has put his foot in the mouth with his comment over comatose Formula One legend Michael Schumacher, in which he said that ''all things happen for a reason''.

Not for the first time, the former Formula One world champion has stunned fans with some ill-advised comments.

According to Stuff.co.nz, ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton said that “all things happen for a reason” when asked about Schumacher's skiing accident and the subsequent induced coma the seven-time world champion's been in for the past 11 weeks.

However, Hamilton later explained his remark, saying said that as young drivers who watched Schumacher through his early days and championship wins, they- as F1 - would carry him through the whole of the season, adding that the German is a legend in the sport and a very motivated individual.

Hamilton further said that therefore he believes everything happens for a reason, adding that Schumacher's tragedy will show his character and depth even more so than any other experiences he has ever had.


Image: Lewis Hamilton
Photographs: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

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