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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Portugal Open: Sania-Cara cruise into final

Sports Shorts: Portugal Open: Sania-Cara cruise into final

Last updated on: May 03, 2014 22:17 IST

Sports Shorts: Sania-Cara clinch Portugal Open title

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Sania Mirza and Cara Black won their first title of the season with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Eva Hrdinova and Valeria Solovyeva in the final of the WTA Portugal Open, in Oeiras, Portugal on Saturday.

The top seeded Indo-Zimbabwean pair, playing their third final of the season, was tested by the Czech-Russian team in a match that lasted 1 hour and 18 minutes.

Before, this Sania and Cara had ended runners-up at Indian Wells in March and at the Stuttgart event last week.

Following an early break, the top seeds raced to 3-1 lead in the opening set but Eva and Valeria raised their game to not only break their rivals back but also snatch lead by the seventh game.

Stunned by their fight-back, Sania and Cara broke Eva and Valeria in the eight game to make it 4-4 and again in the 10th to pocket the first set.

After trading a break each, the two pairs were 3-3 in the second set. A double fault by Cara put the top seeds down a breakpoint but they saved it go up 4-3.

They broke their rivals in the next game and Sania served out the match in the ninth game.

Sania and Cara shared euro 9,919 as prize money and earned 280 ranking points each for the win. 


Image: Sania Mirza and Cara Black
Photographs: Getty Images

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Dope-tainted Maheswary nominated by AFI for Arjuna Awards

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Triple jumper Renjith Maheswary, who has been stopped from receiving Arjuna Award under controversial circumstances on charges of dope violation last year, has again been recommended by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for the coveted honour this year.

A top AFI official informed that Maheswary's name has again been nominated for this year's Arjuna Award on the ground that the Sports Ministry's eligibility rule does not bar him from getting the coveted honour.

"Sports Ministry's eligibility clause says that any athlete who failed a dope test conducted by a WADA or IOC accredited laboratory will be barred from getting the award. But Maheswary's case relates to a test conducted in 2008 while the NDTL got WADA accreditation in 2009 only," the official said.

"So, we have recommended Maheswary's name again for this year's Arjuna Award. Let us see what the new government does this time," he said.

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Image: Renjith Maheswary
Photographs: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

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Maheswary has good performance to back his nomination

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Interestingly, this same eligibility rule (4.2) of the Sports Ministry for conferring Arjuna Awards was considered when the controversy over Maheswary being barred from receiving the coveted award cropped up in September last year.

The eligibility rule (4.2) for Arjuna Awards as amended on March 15, 2010 states that "sportspersons found positive for use of drugs banned by the International Olympic Committee in any laboratory accredited by the IOC will not be eligible for Arjuna Award".

Maheswary also has the performance to show as he won a silver in the Pune Asian Championships in July last, besides winning a silver and a bronze in the Asian Grand Prix last year.

After a detailed investigation, the Ministry had come to a conclusion in September last that Maheswary was found to have used ephedrine during the 46th National Athletic Championships in Kochi in 2008 and hence he would not be conferred with the award.

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Image: Renjith Maheswary
Photographs: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

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Asian Snooker C'ship: Chawla loses semis, settles for bronze

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Indian cueist Kamal Chawla had to settle for a bronze medal after losing his semi-final to Chuan Leong Thor of Malaysia at the Asian Snooker Championship in Al Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

Chawla struggled against his Malaysian opponent and lost 2-6, after a fine run in the tournament. The Indian somehow managed to win two frames in the best of 11 semi-final but that was not enough for him to advance further.

This was Chawla's first medal in the Asian Championships.

Earlier, Chawla had cued past Chen Zifan of China 4-2 in the pre-quarters and then outplayed Malaysian cueist Moh Keen Ho 5-3 in the last-8 encounter to book a last four berth.

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Image: Kamal Chawla
Photographs: Getty Images

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Gerrard's Liverpool deal to be extended to 2016

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Liverpool will offer captain Steven Gerrard a new contract at the end of the season to keep him at Anfield until at least 2016, according to manager Brendan Rodgers.

The 33-year-old midfielder, whose current contract expires at the end of next season, has played a major role in the club's drive towards a first English League title since 1990.

"Steven will be one we look to get a contract to in the summer," Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo.

"With a year to go, it's something we will address. I believe Steven will play beyond 2015. He is a player who has really shown his qualities this season.

"Come the summer, he will still only be 34. Looking towards the future, I still think he's going to be a key part of our squad."

Liverpool has been Gerrard's only professional club and for most of his 16-season career, he has been its best player with his ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck with a surging run into the box or a thunderbolt strike from range.

This season, however, Rodgers has used him in a deeper role, allowing him to mastermind play from in front of the defence and help unleash Liverpool's pacey and potent strikeforce.

"He has dropped into a new position and played it seamlessly. His intelligence in the game is second to none. He is improving all the time," Rodgers added.

"It's one where he has been brilliant for me as a captain and as a player this season and I would like that to continue.

"Most clubs, especially bigger clubs, recognise now that once a player gets over a certain age you have to look at a contract's duration.

"But for me Steven still has so much to offer and I really want him beside me here working on the field."

Rodgers said everyone at the club had felt empathy for Gerrard after his slip in the crunch match against Chelsea last weekend helped the Londoners to a 2-0 win that blew open the title race.

Liverpool will be looking to keep their title hopes alive in their penultimate match of the season against CrystalPalace on Monday and Rodgers expects Gerrard to put last week's costly error behind him.

"There is no blame attached to him because he has been instrumental in where we are to this day and he will continue to be in the coming years," Rodgers said.

"Steven has been brilliant on the training field this week. He has narrowed his focus like the team has and now we're looking forward to playing CrystalPalace."

Liverpool (80) lead Chelsea (78) in the standings by two points with two matches remaining and ManchesterCity (77) lie a further point adrift but have a game in hand as well as a superior goal difference to both sides above them.

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Image: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers with captain Steven Gerrard
Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters

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Athletic Bilbao seal Champions League place with Rayo win

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Athletic Bilbao claimed a spot in next season's Champions League playoff round with a 3-0 win at Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Friday which was sealed by a late Ander Herrera free-kick. 

Athletic are fourth on 68 points, nine above Sevilla and with a superior head-to-head record against the Europa League finalists who have three games left, including Sunday's home match with Villarreal, and cannot overhaul the Basque side. 

Athletic's Mikel San Jose flicked the ball into the net on the volley in the 20th minute after keeper Ruben Martinez failed to reach a corner and 10 minutes later Oscar De Marcos picked up a loose ball in the area from another corner and fired home. 

Midway through the second half Herrera slotted home a free-kick from 25 metres for a resounding win. 

“This is the result of a lot of hard work over the season but now we can enjoy this moment,” San Jose told reporters. 

“I was lucky enough to score the first goal that helped us to achieve our aim.” 

Athletic's return to Europe after a year out is reward for their consistency under coach Ernesto Valverde, who has been linked to the Barcelona job currently held by Gerardo Martino.

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Image: Athletic Club fans cheer up their team during the La Liga match
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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I will be back says convicted former Bayern boss Hoeness

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Disgraced former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness, who is set to start a 3-1/2 year jail term this month for tax evasion, said on Friday he would return to the sport after prison. 

In an emergency general meeting aimed at confirming Bayern's interim president Karl Hopfner as Hoeness's official successor, after the long-time club boss stepped down earlier this year, Hoeness said he would not go into hiding after his prison term. 

"I made a huge mistake and I will accept the consequences for this," Hoeness told club members. "And then, when I return I will not go into any retirement. This wasn't it." 

Hoeness, Germany's most famous soccer general manager, was convicted on March 16 of evading 28.5 million euros ($39 million) in taxes on income earned in a secret Swiss bank account and sentenced to prison in a spectacular case that grabbed headlines for months. 

He had hoped his voluntary disclosure of income earned would lead to leniency and a suspended sentence but the Munich court convicted him to serve time in the Landsberg prison 70km west of Munich. 

Hoeness said the German champions, whose hopes of retaining their European crown ended when they lost in the Champions League semi-finals to Real Madrid this week, would continue to be a dominant force in football even without him around. 

"I am not concerned about the club at all," said Hoeness, who has overseen a sensational period of growth that has made Bayern one of the biggest clubs in the world. 

"I am leaving with a good conscience. The club has no debts. The stadium is being paid off and the team won the league." 

"If I had to paint a picture of this club I would have painted it exactly as it is now." 

Hoeness was part of the successful Bayern team that won three consecutive European Cups in the 1970s before spending 30 years as a the club's general director. He was elected to the presidency in 2009, succeeding Franz Beckenbauer. 

"I very much hope to see you all in good health when I return and this trauma is over," he said in an emotional speech before earning a minute's applause in Bayern's basketball hall where the meeting was held.

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Image: Uli Hoeness
Photographs: Goran Gajanin-Pool/Getty Images

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Nine clubs face punishment over financial losses

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Nine European soccer clubs face punishment under new rules designed to force teams to rein in their financial losses, UEFA said on Friday, without naming any of the offenders.

Media reports this week said big-spending Manchester City and Paris St Germain have been given the chance to settle breaches of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules that will leave them free to play in next season's Champions League.

There had been speculation that details of those settlements would emerge as early as this week.

In a statement issued after a two-day meeting of its Club Financial Control Body (CFCB), UEFA said it had given a clean bill of health to 67 of the 76 clubs who had been asked earlier this year to supply additional information about their accounts.

The remaining nine clubs have exceeded the maximum permitted losses under the new regulatory system and sanctions are expected to be announced by the end of next week.

"Further information shall be provided once this process has been completed," UEFA said.

UEFA has the power to ban teams from European competition if their losses exceed its limits but is expected to shy away from imposing that punishment at this stage.

The likely sanctions range from a reprimand, to a fine or a cap on squad size for next season's European competition.

Rival clubs could seek to challenge the verdicts if they think they have been unduly lenient.

Having spent heavily to compete with the best teams in Europe in recent seasons, ManchesterCity and PSG appear most at risk of falling foul of the rules.

City, in the running for their second Premier League title in three years, have been bankrolled by cash from Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour while PSG have been lavishly funded by their Qatari owners and now dominate French soccer.

Under FFP, the headline numbers limit club losses to 45 million euros ($62.30 million) over the past two seasons, but there are various exemptions for spending on youth development, stadium infrastructure and older contracts.

The aim of the rules is to bring greater financial stability to European soccer.

However, critics of the system say it makes it harder for a new owner to come in and challenge the biggest clubs in European soccer.

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Image: Manchester City players
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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Bayern's Neuer extends contract till 2019

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Bayern Munich's Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer signed a contract extension that will keep him at last season's treble winners until 2019, the Bundesliga club said on Friday.

Announcing the deal after the end of an emergency general meeting to elect the successor to convicted former club president Uli Hoeness, Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the 28-year-old neuer had added three years to his contract.

"Our goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has today extended his contract to 2019," Rummenigge told reporters.

"It is a sign of his wonderful character that he said: 'Bayern forever'," Rummenigge said. "For that I would like to thank Manuel Neuer."

Neuer joined Bayern from Schalke 04 in 2011 and has already won the Champions League, two Bundesliga titles and a Club World Cup among other trophies.

The keeper has been first choice for Germany since 2010.

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Image: Manuel Neuer
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

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India lose to Belgium Champions Challenge 1

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The India women’s hockey team put on a fight before losing 2-4 to Belgium in a classification match of the Champions Challenge 1 tournament, in Glasgow on Saturday.

Belgium captain Charlotte de Vos scored the first goal for her team in the 20th minute. Five minutes later Poonam Rani drew parity for India by converting a penalty corner.

Belgium came back well as Emilie Sinia found the net through a field goal in the 28th minute. Indian team then defended stoically till the end of the first half.

In the second half Indian eves looked purposeful and Monika neutralised the lead in the 44th minute through a field goal.

However Begium fought back in the very next minute (45th Minute) a through Louise Versa Vel goal to put Belgium ahead. In the 60th minute, Sinia scored her second goal to take the game away from the Indians.

India next play hosts Scotland for seventh place.

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Image: Action from the match between India and Belgium in Glasgow
Photographs: Hockey India/Facebook/Rodrigo Jaramillo in Glasgow, United Kingdom

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'Ribery probably provoked before slapping Real defender'

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Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery was probably provoked before slapping Real Madrid's Daniel Carjaval in their Champions League semi-final second leg, French federation president Noel Le Graet said on Friday.

"It's a bad reflex. I know he's a bit nervous these days," Le Graet told French radio RTL. Ribery slapped Carjaval around the face on Tuesday as Bayern suffered a 4-0 home defeat to Real Madrid.

"I know Franck well, it's not the kind of gesture he makes naturally," Le Graet said. "There were probably little niggles before that."

Ribery has been below par this year after losing the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or award to Cristiano Ronaldo despite winning the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup with Bayern last season.

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Image: Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery (right) and Real Madrid's Daniel Carvajal fight for the ball during their Champions League semi-final second leg match in Munich on April 29
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

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F1 'Spygate' protagonist Stepney dies in road accident

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Former Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney, who was sacked by the Formula One team after being accused of sabotage and leaking confidential data to McLaren in 2007, has died in a road accident, his sportscar team said.

The JRM team said their technical director and team manager was killed on Friday morning.

Kent Police said in a separate statement that a 56-year-old, confirmed by the team to be Stepney, was hit by a truck at 1.28 am after stopping his van on the hard shoulder of the M20 motorway at Ashford.

"For reasons yet to be established, the man appears to have entered the carriageway and was then in collision with an articulated goods vehicle. He was pronounced deceased at the scene," the police said.

McLaren were fined a record $100 million by the International Automobile Federation and stripped of all their constructors' points in 2007 after being found guilty of possessing a 780-page dossier of Ferrari data.

Stepney and McLaren's then-chief designer Mike Coughlan, who had the information at his home, were sacked by their teams.

The FIA took no formal action against Stepney, since he was not a licence holder of the governing body, but recommended that teams should have no professional ties with him for two years.

He never worked in Formula One again.

Ferrari had also accused their employee of attempted sabotage, allegations Stepney denied. The team had claimed a mysterious powder was found around the fuel caps of both their cars before the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix.

Powder turned up in Stepney's trouser pocket but the Briton said he was set up.

In 2010, an Italian court sentenced Stepney to a 20 months in jail, as well as a 600 euro fine, but a plea bargain meant he did not have to serve any time.

Before the 'Spygate' affair, one of the biggest scandals to hit Formula One in the modern era, Stepney had an impressive Formula One resume.

He had worked with Brazilian Ayrton Senna at Lotus and was at Ferrari when Michael Schumacher won five world championships in a row between 2000 and 2004.

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Image: Nigel Stepney
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

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ISL: Atletico boss to unveil Kolkata franchise on May 7

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Atletico Madrid team owner and CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin will unveil the Kolkata franchise's name and jersey for the upcoming Indian Sports League here on May 7.

The only franchise in the eight-team ISL which has a strategic tie-up with top foreign club, the Kolkata team will also be the first to unveil the side when their Spanish co-owners begin their three-day visit from May 6 to discuss the roadmap for the tournament scheduled in September.

The Atletico owner will be accompanied by team advisor Peter Kenyon a former CEO with Chelsea and Manchester United, director of marketing Emilio Gutierrez and Carlos Aguilera Martin who is the director of grassroots and head of Atlético Academy.

"Their itinerary also includes meetings with city's football greats PK Banerjee, Chuni Goswami and Syed Nayeemuddin. A short city tour to soak in Kolkata's heritage and culture is also scheduled with visits to the historic Victoria Memorial, Salt Lake Stadium and Mother House," the team said.

This will be their first visit to Kolkata after they won the ISL bid for the Kolkata franchise along with former India captain Sourav Ganguly and city-based industrialists Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka and Utsav Parekh.

Atletico have made the Champions League final for the first time since 1974 as they are eyeing a first ever title in the European Cup when they face Real Madrid in Lisbon on May 24.

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Image: Club Atletico de Madrid fans cheer
Photographs: Clive Rose/Getty Images

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Women paddlers stumble in World Championships quarters

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India's women bowed out of the World Team Table Tennis championships after they lost 1-3 against Brazil in the quarter-finals in Tokyo on Saturday.

After a brilliant performance in group events of Stage 1 in second division, the Indian girls were expected to put on a fighting performance in the knockout stage, but except for Manika Batra, none of the other girls could withstand the pressure built by the Brazilians.

India did not have an ideal start against Brazil.

K Shamini, who had been playing well, was unable to come to terms against Gui Lin, who made most of her rival's mistakes at crucial junctions. Although Shamini won two games, she ultimately lost 8-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 7-11.

However, Manika, who is in the best form of her life, brushed aside the pressure and restored parity by beating Ligia Silva 13-11, 7-11, 11-4, 12-10. Playing an attacking game, Manika kept pushing Silva to the brink.

Ankita lost her singles to Caroline Kumahara 4-11, 8-11, 11-7, 6-11 without putting up much fight. Once again, the pressure was back on Manika, who had to play her reverse singles against Brazil's No. 1 player Gui Lin.

The Indian could not sustain the pace generated by Lin and succumbed 12-14, 7-11, 12-10, 5-11.




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