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Sports Shorts: Murray gets Shanghai Masters wildcard

September 12, 2019 16:07 IST

Andy Murray

IMAGE: Andy Murray became the youngest champion in Shanghai in 2010 at the age of 23, beating Swiss Roger Federer in the shortest final of the tournament. Photograph: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Former world number one Andy Murray will return to the Shanghai Masters for the first time since 2016 after the Briton was awarded a wildcard for the tournament, organisers said on Thursday.

Murray, a three-times winner in Shanghai, is looking to play himself back into form in singles after undergoing career-saving hip resurfacing surgery earlier this year.

The 32-year-old recorded his first two singles victories since the injury at the Rafa Nadal Open Challenger tournament in Mallorca before losing in the third round.

"I'm really looking forward to be going back to Shanghai, a tournament I have had success at in the past – the last time I was there was in 2016," Murray said in a statement.

"Thanks to the tournament for a wildcard, it's great to be able to continue my comeback and play more tennis in China."

Murray became the youngest champion in Shanghai in 2010 at the age of 23, beating Swiss Roger Federer in the shortest final of the tournament.

Murray, who has slipped to 415 in the world rankings, has already confirmed his entry for two other tournaments in China during the ATP Tour's Asian swing -- in Zhuhai and Beijing.

The Shanghai Masters will be held at Qizhong Stadium from October 5-13.

Mladenovic wins all-French battle to reach Zhengzhou quarters

Kristina Mladenovic won an all-French battle against eighth seed Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals at the inaugural Zhengzhou Open on a rain-interrupted Wednesday.

Mladenovic, the world number 49, kept things tight against Garcia, who is ranked 18 places higher, winning 71% of her first serve points and hitting 17 winners.

Garcia struck two more winners than her opponent but also made 33 unforced errors to Mladenovic's 19 as she slumped to her second defeat of the year against her compatriot.

"It was an extremely difficult day for everybody," Mladenovic said in an on-court interview, after rain delayed play for three hours during the day session. "I'm very pleased with my performance tonight.

"It's never easy to play against someone you know really well, but I think we showed great spirit. It was a quality match despite the conditions being very windy."

Next up for Mladenovic, who is the only French player left in the draw, is a meeting with either Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva or second-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.

Sixth-seed Sofia Kenin made short work of Alize Cornet, beating the Frenchwoman 6-4, 6-2, while Croatian seventh seed Petra Martic bounced back after losing the first set to defeat Cornet's compatriot Fiona Ferro 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova was on the verge of losing the second set against Slovenia's Polona Hercog in the day's last match before the rain returned, leading to play being suspended with the score at 6-3, 2-5.

3000 students to be invited for first-ever NBA match in India

The National Basketball Association on Thursday said 3,000 students from over 70 schools will be extended invitations for the first-ever NBA game in India to be played here next month.

NBA sides Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers will play two pre-season games on October 4 and 5.

While the first game will be watched by the students under the Reliance Foundation Jr NBA program, the second game on October 5 is open for fans.

The NBA India Games will mark the first games that teams from a North American sports league will play in India. 

As part of Reliance Foundation's Education and Sports for All (ESA) initiative, the NBA will invite 3,000 boys and girls from more than 70 participating Reliance Foundation Jr NBA schools in Mumbai to attend the event.

"We are proud to provide young Indian boys and girls under the Reliance Foundation Jr NBA program with the opportunity to experience the first-ever NBA game in India," NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, Mark Tatum said in a media release.

In addition to the games, the league and its partners will also host interactive fan activities, Jr NBA events, an NBAAcademyIndia development camp for women and NBA Cares community outreach efforts benefiting fans of all ages across Mumbai.

Siril, Sourabh progress in Vietnam Open, Shubhankar crashes out

India's Siril Verma stunned top seed Darren Liew of Malaysia in a hard-fought three-game contest to enter the men's singles third round of the Vietnam Open badminton tournament in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Thursday.

Siril, who is ranked 97th in the world, battled hard for 52 minutes to get past world no.22 Liew 17-21, 21-19, 21-12 in a second round duel.

Siril will next face Chinese qualifier Lei Lan Xi for a place in the quarterfinals of the BWF Tour Super 100 tournament.

Another Indian to make it to the men's singles third round was second seed Sourabh Verma. Sourabh had to dig deep to get the better of Japan's Kodai Naraoka 22-20, 22-20          

in a match that lasted 54 minutes.

Sourabh will take on Japan's Yu Igarashi next.

It was curtains for third seed Shubhankar Dey, who suffered a straight-game 11-21, 17-21 defeat at the hands of unseeded Malaysian Jia Wei Tan.

India's campaign also ended in the men's doubles event after the pair of Arun George and Sanyam Shukla lost 13-21, 11-21 to top seeds Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han of Chinese Taipei.

Jamaica name Williams in Doha team despite positive dope test

Briana Williams was named in Jamaica's team for the world athletics championships in Doha on Wednesday despite facing a hearing into a positive doping test.

The inclusion of the world under-20 double sprint champion in Jamaica's 55-member squad is contingent on the outcome of her disciplinary hearing, which is set for Sept. 23-25 in Kingston.

"We have entered Briana Williams in the 100m and the 4x100 relay, subject of course to clearance," Lincoln Eatmon, the second vice president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), told a news conference in Kingston.

"Jonielle Smith is the reserve for the 100m and is a part of the 4x100 relay pool," he added.

Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and three-times 100m world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who are both set to contest the 100m, 200m and sprint relay, headline Jamaica's team for the global championships, which get underway on Sept. 27.

With Danielle Williams winning the 100m hurdles Diamond Trophy to secure a wildcard entry to the world championships, the JAAA has named four athletes to contest the sprint hurdles, with Janeek Brown, Megan Tapper and Yanique Thompson completing the lineup.

Akeem Bloomfield, who only contested the 200m at the Jamaican trials in June but finished third in the 400m final at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Brussels in a time of 44.67 seconds, will contest one-lap event in Doha.

Diamond League finalist Nathon Allen, who also missed the trials due to illness, has been named as a reserve for the 400m.

Yohan Blake, 100m world Champion in 2011, and Omar Mcleod, the defending sprint hurdles champion, headline the men's team, which also includes Commonwealth discus champion Fedrick Dacres.