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Sports Shorts: Sania-Cara in quarter-finals of Madrid Open

Last updated on: May 07, 2014 18:14 IST

Sports Shorts: Sania-Cara in quarter-finals of Madrid Open

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Fifth seeds Sania Mirza and Cara Black had things their way while beating the Taipei-South African pair Hao-Ching Chan and Chanelle Scheepers to enter the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

The Indo-Zimbabwean pair won 6-4, 6-1 in little over an hour.

Sania-Cara, winners of the Portugal Open last week, raced to 4-1 lead in the first set but Chan and Scheepers reduced the margin 3-4.

However, the Taeipei-Chinese pair could not sustain the momentum.

The second set was simply one-sided.

Sania and Cara will meet either wild cards Francesca Schiavone of Italy and Spain’s Silvia Soler-Espinosa or the top seeds Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei and Shuai Peng of China.

Sania-Cara are in third place in the Race to Singapore, where the year-end finals will be played in November.

World No 1 team Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci lead the table with 3430 points, followed by Elena Vesnina and Ekaternia Makarova (2266) and Sania and Cara (2247).

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Image: Sania Mirza and Cara Black
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

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Saina, Srikanth to lead India in Thomas and Uber Cup

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London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and Thailand Grand Prix champion K Srikanth will spearhead the Indian challenge at the Li-Ning BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals, at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in Delhi, from May 18 to 25.

The 24-year-old Saina will lead India’s challenge in the Uber Cup while world No 18 Srikanth will shoulder the responsibility in the Thomas Cup as India went with five singles and five doubles players in both the squads, selected on the basis of world rankings.

With the maximum number of players allowed in the squad being 10, many teams have gone for four singles and six doubles players.

Besides Saina, other singles members in the women’s team include World Championships bronze medallist P V Sindhu, National Games champion Arundhati Pantawane, world No 57 Tanvi Laad, world No 65 P C Thulasi.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who recently won a bronze at the Asian Badminton Championship, will lead in doubles while others in same section include Aparna Balan, N Sikki Reddy and Pradnya Gadre.

"Uber Cup is the biggest tournament in India and we are focussed to do well. We have got a decent draw. We need to focus and give our best and play with confidence and I am sure we will do well," Ashwini said.

In the men’s competition, for the Thomas Cup, the other singles members include world No 21 Parupalli Kashyap, world No 30 R M V Gurusaidutt and world No 35 Sourabh Varma, while world No 52 B Sai Praneeth has been selected ahead of world No 42 H S Prannoy and No 49 Anand Pawar.

"It is a prestigious tournament and there are no easy draws here. It is difficult to predict where we will finish in the tournament. The team will give their best in every match and I think we should get into the last-eight stages in Uber Cup," chief coach Pullela Gopichand said.

"The men's draw is tough. But I think, except for Lee Chong Wei, every singles match we have a chance," he added.

India squads:

Men: K Srikanth, P Kashyap, RMV Gurusaidutt, Sourabh Varma, B Sai Praneeth (singles) Pranaav Jerry Chopra, Akshay Dewalkar, Manu Attri, Arun Vishnu and B Sumeeth Reddy (doubles).

Women: Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Arundhati Pantawane, Tanvi Laad, PC Thulasi (singles), Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa, Aparna Balan, N Sikki Reddy and Pradnya Gadre (doubles).

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Image: Saina Nehwal


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Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant named MVP

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Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder was named on Tuesday as the National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 season.

Durant won the MVP award for the first time in his seven-year career, claiming the honor by a landslide after capturing his fourth scoring title in five seasons and leading the Thunder to the Northwest Division title and the NBA playoffs.

Miami Heat's LeBron James, who had won the MVP title four times in the last five seasons, finished a distant second in the voting while Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers was third, Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls fourth and James Harden of the Houston Rockets fifth.

Durant received 119 first-place votes from a total of 124 votes cast by sportswriters and broadcasters in North America plus one special fan vote. James picked up the other six first-place votes.

During the regular season, five-time All-Start Durant averaged a career-best 32 points per game to go with 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists, also a career high.

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Image: Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant speaks after receiving the MVP trophy
Photographs: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

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Napoli clinch Champions League playoff spot

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Napoli clinched a third-place finish in Serie A and a Champions League qualifying spot after they beat Cagliari 3-0 and rivals Fiorentina lost 4-3 at home to Sassuolo on Tuesday.

Teenage forward Domenico Berardi scored a 20-minute hat-trick in the first half to guide Serie A debutants Sassuolo to a win which lifted them two points above the relegation zone with two games to play.

Substitute Giuseppe Rossi was on target for fourth-placed Fiorentina on his Serie A comeback after suffering a knee injury in January.

Napoli and Cagliari played a pedestrian opening half hour before Dries Mertens fired the hosts ahead with a 33rd minute penalty and Goran Pandev added another before halftime.

Marek Hamsik missed another penalty for Napoli in the 56th minute, after Cagliari goalkeeper Marco Silvestri had been sent off, but midfielder Blerim Dzemaili scored the third one minute later.

Rafael Benitez's Napoli, who won the Italian Cup on Saturday, have 72 points from 36 games and will go into the fourth qualifying round of next season's Champions League, the final round before the group stage.

Champions Juventus and second-placed AS Roma have already made sure of the automatic group stage places.


Image: Marek Hamsik of Napoli poses with the Tim Cup next to his team-mates
Photographs: Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

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