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Sports Shorts: Prajnesh stuns World No. 67 Millman

July 30, 2019 13:55 IST

Summary of sports events and persons who made news on Tuesday

Prajnesh Guneswaran

IMAGE: Prajnesh Gunneswaran converted 5 of 16 break points against John Millman. Photograph: Mike Owen/Getty Images

India's top singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran stunned World No 67 John Millman, beginning his campaign at the ATP Los Kabos event with a bang in Los Kabos, Mexico.

The Indian left-hander, ranked 90 in the world, beat his Australian rival 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in one hour and 49 minutes on Monday.

 

There were plenty of chances that came Prajnesh's way and he utilised five of the 16 breakpoints he earned. He also saved three of the seven chances on his own serve.

Next up for Prajnesh could be World No 28 Taylor Fritz, who recently won his maiden ATP Tour title in Eastbourne on grass.

The 21-year old American is up against German qualifier Dominik Koeofer. 

In the doubles, the Indian pair of Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Purav Raja lost their first round 3-6, 3-6 to Lucas Pouille and Gregoire Barrere.

Divij Sharan and Jonathan Erlich will open their campaign against fourth seeds Ben McLachlan and John-Patrick Smith.

Sindhu withdraws from Thailand Open

Top Indian shuttler P V Sindhu has withdrawn from the Thailand Open but compatriot Saina Nehwal will return to the circuit in the BWF Super 500 event in Bangkok after missing out back-to-back tournaments.

Sindhu had reached the final in Indonesia Open but lost in the Japan Open quarter-finals last week.

She had lost to Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in both the previous tournaments. The reasons for her withdrawal from the event are not clear yet.

Saina, seeded seventh, will open her women's singles campaign against a qualifier on Wednesday.

She was forced to withdraw from both the Indonesia and Japan Open on medical grounds.

Sourabh, Uttejitha Rao enter main draw of Thailand Open

Indian shuttlers Sourabh Verma and Sai Uttejitha Rao Chukka made it to the men's and women's singles main draw of the Thailand Open badminton tournament after winning their respective qualifying round matches in Bangkok on Tuesday.

Sourabh first beat Kantawat Leelavechabutr of Thailand 21-18, 21-19 and then got the better of Zhou Ze Qi of China 11-21, 21-14, 21-18 in his second match of the qualification round to advance to the men's singles main draw.

Zhou had beaten another Indian Ajay Jayaram 21-16, 21-13.

Uttejitha Rao, meanwhile, beat Tam Brittney of Canada 16-21, 21-14, 21-19 to enter the women's singles main draw.

The likes of Saina Nehwal, in women's singles, and B Sai Pranneeth, Kidambi Srikanth, H S Prannoy and Parupalli Kashyap, in men's singles, are in the fray in the main draw of the BWF World Tour Super 500 tournament.

The main draw begins on Wednesday.

Tsonga makes winning return to Citi Open

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga turned back the clock to defeat Canadian Brayden Schnur 6-4, 7-6(2) at the Citi Open in Washington on Monday in his first match at the tournament in a decade.

The 34-year-old Frenchman pumped his fists, leapt in the air and did a series of twirls after Schnur sent a backhand long on match point to end the first-round match on a scorching day in the nation's capital.

Tsonga, ranked 70th, looked sharp but will have his work cut out for him in the second round when he faces second-seeded Karen Khachanov.

"Right now he's a tough opponent. I beat him two times before but that was before," he said of the Russian world number eight.

"I'm the outsider in this match on paper but in my head I'm going out there to play my game and go through."

Poland's Hubert Hurkacz, France's Adrian Mannarino and Americans Bjorn Fratangelo and Tim Smyczek were among the other players to advance on Monday, when play was interrupted for a while by rain.

Tuesday will see maverick Australian Nick Kyrgios face American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski for the first time and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic battle Romanian Marius Copil.

On the women's side of the draw, Lauren Davis put a quick end to Canadian Eugenie Bouchard's tournament with a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win.

Davis, a finalist at the tournament in 2016, ended the match with an emphatic overhead and will face fellow American Sofia Kenin in the second round.

Other first-round winners included Russia's Anna Kalinskaya, American Jessica Pegula and Poland's Iga Swiatek.

Hibi tops error-ridden Babos in Silicon Valley

Japan's Mayo Hibi battled back from 5-2 down in the third set to secure a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3) win over Timea Babos in the first round of the Silicon Valley Classic on Monday.

Hibi benefited from 52 unforced errors from the Hungarian to claim one of the biggest wins of her career but will be the underdog when she next faces Maria Sakkari, who rolled to a 6-1 6-4 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova later in the day.

The seventh-seeded Greek, who reached the third round of Wimbledon in July, fired six aces and won 82 percent of her first service points to easily dispatch Alexandrova on a warm and breezy day in Northern California.

Other first-round winners included sixth-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro as well as Americans CoCo Vandeweghe and Kristie Ahn.

The action picks up on Tuesday when former world number one Victoria Azarenka faces France's Harmony Tan and seven-time major champion Venus Williams is set to battle fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Olympic silver medallist Max Parrot says he has beaten cancer

Olympic snowboarding slopestyle silver medallist Max Parrot of Canada has said he has beaten cancer and intends to return to competition at an X Games event in Norway in August.

Parrot, a five-times X Games champion who won silver at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, revealed in January that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.

"After battling myself to the best I could during these past seven months, I can finally say that I have won against cancer," the 25-year-old said in an Instagram post.

"So hyped to compete at @xgamesnorway in a month. It has felt so weird not to compete last season. Stoked to get back at it. Can't wait."

Hodgkin lymphoma is a relatively rare cancer, according to Lymphoma Canada.

It accounts for around 0.5% of all cancers and 15% of all lymphomas diagnosed. Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.

'Without fear': US bill aims to protect athletes after Nassar sex-abuse scandal

Two US senators introduced legislation on Tuesday to prevent sexual assaults against athletes by increasing oversight and legal liability for US Olympic and sports officials following the Larry Nassar scandal.

The legislation was welcomed by former gymnasts and abuse survivors such as Jordyn Wieber but drew a mixed response from the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), which said it could cause operational "disruption" for athletes.

The bill followed an 18-month bipartisan investigation that found Nassar, the former team doctor for USA Gymnastics, was able to assault hundreds of girls and women because of a lack of transparency and accountability among US Olympic officials, coaches and trainers.

"This needs to empower and embolden the athletes who should feel they can come forward without fear of retaliation, and without intimidation," Democrat Richard Blumenthal said in a conference call about the bill he co-sponsored with Republican Jerry Moran.

The bill gives Congress authority to dissolve the board of the US Olympic Committee and decertify national governing bodies should they fail to protect athletes.

The Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act would also impose greater legal liability on both the USOPC and national governing bodies that oversee amateur sports for acts such as sexual abuse by coaches and employees.

Nassar was sentenced to up to 300 years in prison in 2017 after more than 350 women testified about abuse at his hands, including Olympic champions Aly Raisman and Wieber.

The scandal prompted the resignation of the board and other officials at USA Gymnastics (USAG), the sport's governing body, after victims accused them of being slow to investigate abuse allegations.

Former USAG officials said the national Olympic committee was informed of sexual abuse in gymnastics more than two decades ago but did little to address the issue.

To raise oversight, the Senate bill would increase the level of athletes' representation on the USOPC board. It would also require the committee to pay the Center for SafeSport $ 20 million a year to raise the independence of the organization set up to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in sports.

“Stronger oversight by Congress and a truly independent Center for SafeSport is necessary to restore public confidence in our Olympic organizations,” Wieber said in a statement.

USOPC Chief Executive Officer Sarah Hirshland supported the senators' bid to improve safety but said she looked forward to working with Congress to address certain areas of the bill.

The legislation does not spell out, for example, how a sports governing body would be replaced should it be dissolved by Congress, she said.

"There are sections in the proposed legislation that, while conceptually appropriate, could result in unintended consequences and disruption for athletes in operational reality," Hirshland said in a statement.

Hungary charges former swimming exec with murder of business rival

Hungarian prosecutors charged former international swimming executive Tamas Gyarfas on Tuesday with ordering the murder of a business rival in Budapest more than two decades ago, prosecutors said in a statement.

Gyarfas, a member and former vice president of the Lausanne-based International Swimming Federation's Bureau, had denied the charges when he was first detained, in April 2018. He was freed on bail then.

Neither he nor his lawyer could be reached immediately for comment.

Hungarian media mogul Janos Fenyo was sprayed with submachine gun bullets in his car at a stoplight in Budapest in February 1998. The killing shocked Hungary, which was emerging from Communist rule.

Prosecutors said Gyarfas and Fenyo had been involved in a business rivalry and power struggle from the mid-1990s, which led to strong personal discord between them.

"The accused decided in 1997 to settle the score for good by having the plaintiff killed," prosecutors said in the statement, which identified Gyarfas only by his initial as Gy.

Prosecutors brought charges against Gyarfas for instigating Fenyo's murder through an associate, Tamas P, whom Gyarfas had known since 1994, the statement said. Police have said new evidence emerged in 2010 and later, in 2017, which helped the investigation.

In 2017, a Hungarian court sentenced Jozef Rohac of Slovakia to life in jail for killing Fenyo, but at the trial it did not emerge who ordered the killing.

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