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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Sharapova rallies from set down to beat Li Na

Sports Shorts: Sharapova rallies from set down to beat Li Na

Last updated on: May 09, 2014 22:14 IST

Sports Shorts: Sharapova rallies from set down to beat Li Na

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Maria Sharapova fought back from a set down to oust China's Li Na 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 on Friday and claim a place in the last four of the Madrid Open.

The eighth seeded Russian showed all her battling qualities on the clay at the futuristic Magic Box arena to dispatch the world No 2 and set up a semi-final clash with third-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska or French qualifier Caroline Garcia.

Sharapova lost to top-ranked American Serena Williams in the 2013 Madrid final and her chances of going one better this year were boosted when Williams withdrew with a thigh injury before her quarter-final against Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova.

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Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia blows a kiss to the crowd after her victory over Li Na of China.
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Thigh injury forces Serena out

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Williams, winner of the last two editions of the tournament and seeking her 60th career singles title, suffered the injury in her first-round match against Belinda Bencic.

With the French Open just two weeks away she decided to pull out to give herself time to recover.

"It’s beyond words. It’s so frustrating," Williams said in comments released by the WTA. "This is not the way I wanted this week to end."

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The 17-times Grand Slam singles champion had been on a run of 15 consecutive victories in the Spanish capital and her victory over Carla Suarez Navarro in the last round brought up her 650th win on the women's tour.

In Friday's other quarter-final, fourth seed Simona Halep of Romania beat 11th-seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Kvitova in the semi-finals.

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Image: Serena Williams of the United States stretches to play a forehand against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in their third round of the Madrid Open.
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Maken welcomes court's decision to uphold Sports Code

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Former Sports Minister Ajay Maken today welcomed the Delhi high court’s decision to uphold the legal validity of the Sports Code, which was passed by the government during his tenure, saying that his stand on the initiative has been vindicated.

The National Sports Development Code of India was passed by the government in 2011 under the initiative of Maken. It primarily seeks to put restrictions on the age and tenure of office-bearers, besides envisaging free and fair elections and transparent functioning of National Sports Federations.

"My stand on the Sports Code has been vindicated with the high court supporting the Code which was envisaged in February 2011. This Code will ensure that the NSFs follow the age and tenure norms and also conduct the election in a free, fair and transparent manner through secret ballot as provided for in the National Sports Code," said Maken who served as Sports Minister in 2011-12.

Under the Sports Code, the age limit of all the office-bearers will have to be 70 years.

The tenure regulations will, however, be applied to three office-bearers only -- the president, secretary-general/secretary and treasurer.

The president of any NSF may hold office for a maximum period of 12 years (three terms of four years) with or without break and secretary general/secretary and the treasurer may serve a maximum of two successive terms of four years each after which a minimum cooling off period of four years will apply to seek fresh election.

NSFs availing government grants will be declared as public authorities and brought under purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Notification and implementation of NADA Anti-Doping Rules; Guidelines for holding fair and transparent elections to NSFs will be applied under the Sports Code.

Recently, the Sports Ministry had asked all NSFs to amend their constitutions in line with the Sports Code by December 31, 2013 else face de-recognition.

Almost all the NSFs have accepted the age and tenure guidelines provided in the Sports Code. The Ministry had recently derecognised Indian Amateur Boxing Federation for possible manipulation in its elections while Archery Association of India also met the same fate for flouting age limit guideline.

Reacting to the development, Indian Olympic Association senior vice-president Virendra Nanavati said that the IOA has already incorporated the tenure guidelines of the Sports Code.

Regarding the age limit, he said the IOA follows International Olympic guidelines.

But the latest IOC fact sheet says that "the age limit fixed is 70 years old, except for members co-opted between 1966 and 1999, for whom the age limit is 80".

"We have to see the details of the high court ruling and discuss among our office bearers what are the implications on the IOA," Nanavati said.

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Image: Ajay Maken
Photographs: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

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Mourinho fined over referee comments after key defeat

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Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has been fined 10,000 pounds after sarcastically praising the match referee and English referees' chief following a key Premier League defeat last month, the FA said on Thursday.

The Londoners lost 2-1 at home to a struggling Sunderland side, which ended Mourinho's 77-game unbeaten league record at StamfordBridge and hit their title bid, with ManchesterCity now poised to wrap up the championship this weekend.

"I want to congratulate again (referee) Mike Dean. I think his performance was unbelievable," Mourinho told reporters after a controversial Sunderland penalty, which led to his assistant Rui Faria being sent to the stands after a pitchside rant.

"And... congratulations also to Mike Riley, the referees’ boss. What they are doing through the whole season is fantastic, especially in the last couple of months, and in teams involved in the title race. Absolutely fantastic," Mourinho added.

Mourinho had denied the misconduct charge but the FA said in a statement on Thursday that an independent commission had ruled that his comments had brought the game into disrepute and the charge for improper conduct was found proven.

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Image: Jose Mourinho
Photographs: Juan Medina/Reuters

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Golf Players Championship: Kaymer sets pace with record equalling 63

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Martin Kaymer birdied his last four holes to equal the tournament record and seize a two-shot lead in Thursday's opening round of the Players Championship as several other big names lined up in pursuit.

On an ideal day for low scoring at the TPC Sawgrass where the par-72 Stadium Course has been softened by recent rain, Germany's Kaymer raced home in a sizzling seven-under-par 29 to complete a nine-under 63.

His back nine, holes one to nine, set a new low for the tournament while his 63 matched the record scores previously posted at the Players Championship by Fred Couples (1992), Greg Norman (1994) and Roberto Castro (2013).

Kaymer sank a 16-footer at the par-three eighth, then got up and down from a greenside bunker at the par-five ninth to end the day two strokes in front of American Russell Henley, who had set the clubhouse lead with a sparkling 65 in the morning.

South Korea's Bae Sang-moon opened with a 66 while US Open champion Justin Rose, England's former World No 1 Lee Westwood and 2008 Players champion Sergio Garcia of Spain were among a large group on 67.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy got to five under after 11 holes on a hot and sunny morning at the TPC Sawgrass but then struggled coming home on the way to an opening 70.

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Image: Martin Kaymer of Germany watches a shot on the ninth hole
Photographs: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

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NBA: Heat finding other ways to score, go 2-0 up on Nets

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The Miami Heat delivered another strong performance on defense to beat Brooklyn 94-82 on Thursday and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven National Basketball Association Eastern Conference semi-final series.

Miami, who are now 6-0 in the postseason, broke clear of the Nets in the final quarter. Brooklyn shot only 42 percent from the field.

In Game One on Tuesday the Heat held Nets center Kevin Garnett scoreless for the first time in his career.

On Thursday it was Nets point guard Deron Williams who suffered the same fate, held without a point after missing all nine of his shots from the floor.

"We're just doing what we can to keep him in front of us as much as we can," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the defense on Williams. The Heat were led by LeBron James, who had a game-high 22 points on nine-of-18 shooting from the field, but this was not the sort of high-powered offensive show fans are used to seeing from Miami.

The Heat got just five points on the fast break after getting four in the opener.


Image: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat shoots over Shaun Livingston (14) of the Brooklyn Nets
Photographs: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

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