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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Venus rises again to win in Charleston

Sports Shorts: Venus rises again to win in Charleston

Last updated on: April 03, 2014 19:31 IST

Sports Shorts: Venus rises again to win in Charleston

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Venus Williams, battling a mystery bug and a dogged opponent who refused to lie down, advanced to the third round of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston on Wednesday.

A day after her younger sister Serena was surprisingly beaten at the South Carolina event, Williams kept the family flag flying with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over South African Chanelle Scheepers.

It was anything but easy for the 33-year-old Williams, who won the tournament a decade ago but has struggled with health issues in recent years.

"She was playing so well, but good thing is that when I get behind, I give even more effort and get even more focused," Williams told reporters.

The next opponent for Williams is rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard.

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Image: Venus Williams
Photographs: Mike Segar/Reuters

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Stephens was philosophical about her loss

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The biggest surprise on Wednesday was the defeat of Sloane Stephens. Seeded fifth, she fell to a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Ukrainian teenager Elina Svitolina.

"I was waiting for this win a long time," said the 19-year-old Svitolina.

"I've been working hard and believing in myself, so I was waiting for this win."

Stephens was philosophical about her loss.

"I didn't play that bad, I didn't think so, but obviously she played pretty well," said the American.

With Serena and now Stephens out of the tournament, just three of the top five seeds remain in the event.

Serbia's Jelena Jankovic, the second seed and 2007 champion, easily beat American Lauren Davis 6-0, 6-3 while Italian third seed Sara Errani cruised into the third round when she won the first set against Kiki Bertens after her Dutch rival retired.

The fourth seed, Germany's 2009 champion Sabine Lisicki, had a much tougher time against American Vania King but survived 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

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Image: Sloane Stephens of the US
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters

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Barcelona to appeal FIFA transfer ban, club says

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Barcelona will lodge an appeal to try to overturn a ban on participating in the transfer market for breaching rules on the international transfer of foreign under-18 players, the club said on Wednesday.

FIFA, soccer's world governing body, announced earlier on Wednesday that it had banned Barca from the transfer market for two consecutive windows and fined the club 450,000 Swiss francs.

"FCB will present the corresponding appeal to FIFA and if necessary will submit the resulting resolution to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)," Barca said in a statement on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es).

"Appropriate precautionary measures to preserve the rights of the club" would be taken to ensure they were not kept out of the transfer market, the statement added.

Barca said the rule they had been accused by FIFA of infringing was designed to prevent minors from being denied a proper education.

The club argued that their academy, "La Masia", has been held up as a model of good practice and they had not breached any civil law.

They had also been trying to get FIFA to reform the rules to make them more efficient at protecting minors, they said.

"FCB creates people before they create athletes, a fact that has not been considered by FIFA, which has applied a penalty ignoring the educational function of our training program," they said.

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Image: Barcelona's players pose with the La Liga trophy
Photographs: Albert Gea/Reuters

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Ronaldo knee problem a concern for Portugal

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However much Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted there was no cause for concern, the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo limping off near the end of Wednesday's Champions League match will have set alarm bells ringing in his native Portugal.

The national team captain, the leading marksman in both La Liga and the Champions League this term, will need to maintain his scintillating goal-scoring form if Portugal are to advance to the later stages of the World Cup finals in Brazil starting in June.

However, the 29-year-old former Manchester United player has been complaining of discomfort in his left knee in recent weeks and has been playing on while receiving treatment from Real medical staff.

He netted a record-equalling 14th goal of the latest edition of the Champions League in Wednesday's 3-0 quarter-final, first leg win at home to Borussia Dortmund before asking to come off 10 minutes from time.

"It's a slight knee problem and I'm not worried about it," Ancelotti told a news conference.

"If the niggle, which at the moment is not a worry, continues we can rest him, but the player is relaxed," added the Italian.

Real have a busy schedule in the final weeks of the season and they have a potentially tricky La Liga match at sixth-placed Real Sociedad on Saturday before Tuesday's return leg at Dortmund.

The world's richest club by income are still in with a chance of a rare treble, although La Liga defeats to Barcelona and Sevilla last month saw them slip into third place behind leaders Atletico Madrid and Barca.

They play Barca, who have beaten them home and away in La Liga this term, in the King's Cup final on April 16. 


Image: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts
Photographs: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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World Cup stadium holds first match after October fire

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Brazil's unfinished Arena Pantanal stadium in Cuiaba has held its first match since an October blaze raised fears it would not be ready in time to host World Cup games this summer.

The fire in late October caused more damage than was initially thought and prompted prosecutors to open a safety investigation at the arena, one of 12 Brazilian stadiums that will host the World Cup between June 12 and July 13.

State and federal prosecutors have since said they were satisfied with the stadium's safety.

The match between Mixto and Santos in the Brazilian Cup on Wednesday was open to only 20,000 fans, about half of the stadium's planned capacity.

Local media said some 23,000 seats still needed to be installed before the stadium's official opening game on April 26.

Construction of several of the World Cup stadiums have been marred by repeated delays, fatal accidents and cost overruns.

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Image: An aerial view of the construction of the Arena Pantanal soccer stadium, which will host several matches of the 2014 World Cup, in Cuiaba
Photographs: Reuters

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Ajax close in on fourth straight title with easy win

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Early goals from Joel Veltman and Davy Klaassen ensured a comfortable 2-0 win for Ajax Amsterdam away at RKC Waalwijk on Wednesday to move them a step closer to retaining their Dutch league title.

Ajax could afford to rest several regulars but were untroubled as Veltman scored from a 13th-minute corner and Klaassen added a second 14 minutes later after being set up by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

The win kept Ajax eight points clear of second-place Feyenoord, who came from behind to win 2-1 at Heracles Almelo.

Ajax could clinch a fourth consecutive title if they beat Vitesse Arnhem on Sunday and other results go their way.

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Image: Joel Veltman of Ajax on the ball
Photographs: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

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Roma win 81-minute game to cut Juve's lead further

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Second-placed AS Roma brought the Serie A title race to life when they beat Parma 4-2 on Wednesday in the second part of a match which started on February 2.

The original game was rained off in the ninth minute and Serie A ruled that it should start where it left off, with a Parma throw-in, rather than being replayed in its entirety.

However, the teams were not obliged to field the same starting line-ups and both made changes.

Roma have lopped six points of Juventus' lead in the last four days, cutting it from 14 to eight points, after they won at Sassuolo on Sunday when the champions lost at Napoli.

Juventus, aiming for a third successive title, have 81 points and Roma 73 with seven matches each to play including a meeting between the two at the Stadio Olimpico in the penultimate round of games.

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Image: Francesco Totti of AS Roma celebrates after scoring the second team's goal during the Serie A match against FC Parma
Photographs: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

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Mexico rally for 2-2 friendly draw against US

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The United States squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with their long-time rivals Mexico in an international friendly in Arizona on Wednesday.

The Americans looked to be in complete control after midfielder Michael Bradley then striker Chris Wondolwski scored in the first half but they wilted in the second term.

Mexico, who had not scored a goal against the US since 2011, pulled back one when veteran defender Rafael Marquez scored, then levelled when striker Alan Pulido found the net.

The US thought they had regained the lead when substitute forward Eddie Johnson scored with five minutes to go but the goal was disallowed for offside, although television replays suggested his strike should have counted.

Bradley opened the scoring in the 15th minute when he half-volleyed a cross from Graham Zusi into the net from the back post.

Then he set up his team's second goal when he headed the ball towards Wondolwski, who poked it in from close range to double the American team's lead in the 28th minute.

The Mexicans, who arrived late to the University of Phoenix Stadium after getting stuck in heavy traffic, found their rhythm in the second half.

An unmarked Marquez headed home a corner from Marco Fabian four minutes after the restart then Pulido calmly tapped in a rebound after Paul Aguilar's angled shot hit the post in the 67th minute.

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Image: Juan Carlos Valenzuela of Mexico attempts a shot defended by Michael Parkhurst of USA
Photographs: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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Sweden must end hooligan threat

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Football violence in Sweden could drive sponsors away from the game and threatens the sport's long-term future, the country's former national anti-hooliganism coordinator has told Reuters following the death of a fan at the weekend.

The death of father of four Stefan Isaksson has thrust the hooligan problem back into the spotlight in Sweden.

According to police reports, the Djurgarden fan was struck on the head with a blunt instrument before being kicked and beaten as he made his way to see his side take on Helsingborg.

The game went ahead as planned, but was abandoned when his fellow fans invaded the pitch having received reports that he had died in hospital from his injuries.

Bjorn Eriksson, who published the findings of a two-year investigation into sports-related violence, making dozens of recommendations, said it had only been a matter of time before someone died.

Football violence has hit the headlines several times in recent years, with a slew of matches disrupted and abandoned by fans throwing fireworks and other objects at players and officials, and organised fights between hooligan "firms" taking place away from grounds.

The former police chief said violence threatened the long-term financial health and popularity of football in Sweden.

Eriksson said that threats from hooligans had also scared "normal people" away from serving on boards.


Image: A bloodied Cardiff City fan looks on after a clash with Liverpool fans
Photographs: Getty Images

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