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Sports Shorts: Pallikal back in top-10 after Texas Open high

Last updated on: May 05, 2014 19:06 IST

Sports Shorts: Pallikal back in top-10 after Texas Open high

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A final appearance at the Texas Open last month has pushed India's top squash player Dipika Pallikal back to the top-10 of the world rankings.

Pallikal gained two places to be number 10 in the Women's Squash Association (WSA) rankings, the spot she has reached for the first time in December 2012.

"It is obviously a good feeling when you climb up the rankings. I have to be consistent now and try to get into the top five and eventually the number one spot," Pallikal said.

India's other women's player Joshana Chinappa remains in 21st position despite winning the Richmond Open last month.

While Malaysian legend Nicol David surges on to a 94th successive month as world number one, it is Ireland's Madeline Perry who has grabbed maximum attention in the latest rankings.

Perry has become the oldest player in history to retain a place in the top ten. She is ranked ninth.

England's world champion Laura Massaro holds onto second place ahead of Egypt's third-placed Raneem El Welily and New Zealander Joelle King at No.4.

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Image: Dipika Pallikal
Photographs: Stanley Chou/Getty Images

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Murray ponders hiring McEnroe as coach

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Wimbledon champion Andy Murray would consider hiring seven-times Grand Slam winner John McEnroe as his coach, saying the controversial American would have plenty to offer his game.

World number eight Murray, playing this week at the Madrid Masters, is without a coach since he split from Ivan Lendl in March after a successful two-year spell during which he won two Grand Slam titles and gold at the 2012 Olympics.

"Every player would consider someone with his credentials," the 26-year-old Scot told the BBC on Sunday.

"I like listening to him commentate and he has a lot to offer as well. It's interesting but if anything comes from it, who knows?

"When you are very competitive as a player, you are likely to be the same as a coach and that's also a benefit.

"He was a great player and he's always kept an interest in the game, which is important. He has a great knowledge of the sport."

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Image: Andy Murray
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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'I need to have the right person in place'

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American McEnroe, 55, indicated this week he would be willing to help Murray, despite having a number of media commitments and a lack of professional coaching experience.

Murray, however, is in no rush to make an appointment.

"It depends how I do in the next couple of weeks," he said.

"If I do well, I'm not going to have that much time. If I don't do so well, I'll have a little bit more time to think about it and chat to people.

"I need to have the right person in place. I don't want to have the wrong person in place by the French Open. I'd rather wait a few weeks and get the right person three weeks after Wimbledon."

The French Open begins on May 25 and Wimbledon just over a month later.

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Image: John McEnroe plays a forehand during the singles final against Mats Wilander of Sweden on Day Five of the Statoil Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on December 08, 2013 in London
Photographs: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Image

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Former British No.1 Baltacha dies of cancer, aged 30

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Former British women's number one Elena Baltacha has died at the age of 30 from liver cancer, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) announced on Sunday.

"The news of the death of Elena Baltacha, one of the shining lights of British women's tennis of recent generations, is devastating to everyone who has ever had the privilege to know her, play against her, or call her a friend or team mate," a statement on the LTA website said.

"It leaves a huge hole within our sport. Bally gave new meaning to the word 'fighter.' She fought tirelessly during her career against opposition on court, and never gave in to the struggles she endured off it."

Baltacha, who was born in Kiev but moved to Britain where her father Sergei was a professional soccer player for Ipswich Town, turned professional in 1997 and reached a career-high ranking of 49 in 2010.

She competed at the 2012 London Olympics but retired at the end of the following year because of persistent knee injuries. She married her coach Nino Severino in December 2013 before being diagnosed with cancer in January this year.

Even before quitting the Tour, Balatcha had set up an academy for young players in Ipswich.

"Words simply cannot express how saddened we are by this news. All our thoughts are with Nino and the rest of Elena's family. We will miss you Bal," LTA Head of women's tennis Iain Bates said.

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Image: Elena Baltacha of Great Britain returns a shot against Agnes Szavay of Hungary during the women's singles match on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Photographs: Phil Walter/Getty Images

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Olympic relay medals in jeopardy after Tyson Gay's ban

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The International Olympic Committee will have the final say on whether Tyson Gay's 4x100 meters relay team mates will be stripped of their London Games medals in the wake of the sprinter's doping ban, the IAAF told Reuters.

Gay received a one-year suspension on Friday after testing positive for a banned anabolic steroid in 2013. All his results from July 2012 onwards have been annulled and he has already returned his relay silver medal to the US Olympic Committee.

Still to be determined is whether his team mates - Trell Kimmons, Justin Gatlin and Ryan Bailey - will also lose the Olympic silver medals they won in London in 2012.

"Although our rules say clearly 'team forfeits medals', the IOC has control of the medals for the Olympics," Nick Davies, deputy secretary general for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said by email.

Athletics competitors must follow rules of the IAAF in the Olympics but the IOC has the final say on matters including medals.

Gay was banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) subject to appeal by the IAAF or the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Davies said the IAAF would reserve comment on Gay's suspension until its doping review board had a chance to see the judgement from USADA and either accepted or rejected the reduced sanction.

Gay, the joint second fastest man of all-time, could have been suspended for two years for his first doping offence but received a shorter ban because of his substantial assistance in the investigation of his case, USADA said.

"There's a lot for me to tell, my side," Gay, 31, said on Saturday in an interview with his hometown newspaper, the Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky.

"But under the rules of USADA, they didn't want me to speak on the case. But they definitely understand what happened, and USADA understands that it was a mistake. That's why they're allowing me to run this year."

The American 100 meters record holder is eligible to race again beginning June 23 and, Reuters has learnt, is making plans to return to competition in July.

The IOC welcomed the decision to suspend Gay.


Image: Silver medalists Trell Kimmons, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey of United States pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's 4 x 100m relay on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Berlocq, Klizan win unexpected ATP titles

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Outsiders Carlos Berlocq and Martin Klizan won unexpected ATP titles on Sunday as the clay-court season continued to throw up surprises.

Both came from a set down with Argentine Berlocq beating Tomas Berdych 0-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the Portugal Open final and Klizan battling back to overwhelm Italian Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 to become the first qualifier to win the Munich Open.

World number six Berdych was the favourite to claim a first title on clay for five years but despite racing away with the opening set against 31-year-old journeyman Berlocq he fell to a disappointing defeat. 

Like Berlocq, Klizan started as the underdog against enigmatic top seed Fognini and just like Berlocq also looked in danger of being swept aside.

However, the left-handed Slovakian, ranked 100 places below his opponent, hit back with thundering forehands and deft drop shots to leave Fognini reeling.

Clay-court specialist Fognini, ranked 15th in the world, seemed to be cruising to his second title of the year in the opening set, whipping away baseline winners at will.

The tables were turned in the second set, however, when Fognini felt the full force of the 24-year-old Klizan's game.

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Image: Martin Klizan of Slovakia poses with the trophy after winning the BMW Open final against Fabio Fognini of Italy in Munich, Germany
Photographs: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

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No player is yet dominating on clay

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Klizan, who beat defending champion Tommy Haas in straight sets in the semis despite stomach pains, broke twice in the second set and continued to dominate in the decider, giving Fognini the run-a-round with a string of drop shots.

Fognini, renowned for his short temper, vented his frustration in the second game of the third set and was handed a point penalty after smashing his racket.

Klizan, whose ranking slumped after a wrist injury last year, kept his cool and never looked back.

"They can see my name now (on the winner's list). It was a crazy match today," Klizan, who played eight matches in nine days, said.

"I was not very fit. I was just trying to fight and am very happy that I ended this tournament as champion."

With the French Open approaching no player is yet dominating on the clay, with world number one Rafael Nadal struggling for form and Novak Djokovic battling a wrist injury.

Since the onset of the European clay-court season titles have been shared by the likes of Japan's Kei Nishikori, Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov and Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat Roger Federer in the Monte Carlo final.


Image: Carlos Berlocq
Photographs: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

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CWG bronze medallist Dilbag set to lose state honour

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Commonwealth Games bronze medallist boxer Dilbag Singh is all set to lose the Haryana government's sporting award bestowed on him this year due to a dope test he failed in 2011.

Dilbag, a former Commonwealth Championships gold medallist and a multiple-time national champion, flunked the test after clinching a gold in the 2011 Jharkhand National Games.

The welterweight boxer was presented Haryana's state honour -- the Bhim award -- earlier his year, despite being ineligible for the honour due to his dope taint.

In reply to an RTI query, the State Public Information Officer and Deputy Director Sports of the Haryana Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, S K Goyal, said the process to take back the award from the boxer has been initiated.

"NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency) has informed on 07-02-2014 that a period of one year ineligibility from competing in sports events with effect from 24-02-2011 to 23-02-2012. Matter is under process by the Sports Department for withdrawing his Bhim Award," Goyal stated in the reply.

The enquiry into Dilbag's credentials was launched after reports of him being dope-tainted appeared on the day he was bestowed the award.


Image: Dilbag Singh
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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SC refuses to interfere with govt's decision on Arjuna award

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The Supreme Court refused to interfere with the government's decision withdrawing Arjuna award from triple jump athlete Renjith Maheshwary, hours before the presentation ceremony last year.

"This is not a subject matter of judicial review. You cannot bring such matter for judicial review. It is not justiciable," a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said.

The bench also questioned Kerala-based organisation Navalokam Samskarika Kendram, Kottayam, which had filed the petition saying "is it a fundamental right to get Arjuna award"?

"What is your fundamental right which has been violated"? the bench asked when senior advocate Gopal Subramanium was arguing for the organisation.

"There are much more deserving persons who do not get and could not make it to Arjuna award and there are also some who get, though not deserving," the bench said while further elaborating that "even if you have not got Arjuna award, a person can be a good sportsperson".

The bench, also comprising Justices M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, declined to go into the issue that "the present refusal (in 2013) should not come on his way (this year)".

The court was told that Maheshwary has again been recommended by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for the coveted honour this year.

In the petition, the Kottayam-based organisation said Maheshwary's name was in the award list released on August 14, 2013.

On August 29, he came to Delhi from Chennai and stayed at Hotel Ashoka, along with other award winners, and participated in a rehearsal at Rashtrapati Bhavan for the function.

The next morning, he was told to stay away from the ceremony as the award had been withdrawn


Image: Renjith Maheswary
Photographs: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

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