Summary of sports events and persons who made news on Friday
P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal won their respective semifinals in contrasting fashion to set up a mouth-watering women's singles summit showdown at the 83rd Yonex-Sunrise Senior National Championship here Saturday, in Guwahati, on Saturday.
In a repeat of last edition's title clash at Nagpur, the two stalwarts will look to outdo each other and write another chapter in their on-field rivalry.
While Sindhu overcame a challenge from Assam's promising 19-year-old Ashmita Chaliha 21-10, 22-20 in the first semifinal, Saina got the better of Nagpur qualifier Vaishnavi Bhale, who was part of India's Uber Cup squad last year, 21-15, 21-14 to storm into the finals.
Saina had the last laugh against Sindhu in the last two encounters at the Nagpur Nationals in 2017 and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games gold-medal match last year.
While Saina has won the title in 2006, 2007 and 2018, Sindhu clinched the trophy twice, in 2011 and 2013.
"It will be just another match and I don't think it will help me for All England, I will just look to focus and give my best," Sindhu said about the final.
Two-time former champion Sourabh Varma, 26, too sealed his spot in the men's singles final after beating Mumbai's Kaushal Dharmamer 21-14, 21-17 in 44 minutes.
Earlier in the day, former champions Saina, Kashyap and Sourabh advanced to the semifinals with contrasting wins.
The three-time former champion Saina hardly broke a sweat to get the better of former India No 1 Neha Pandit of Mumbai 21-10, 21-10 in a lop-sided quarter-final contest.
Kashyap, a 2012 winner, prevailed 21-18, 21-16 over Bodhit Joshi, who had reached the finals of Iceland International last year.
Both Saina and Kashyap had played their pre-quarterfinal match on Thursday night at the newly-laid wooden court of the TRP Indoor Stadium after refusing to play at the Assam Badminton Academy courts due to "uneven" surface.
Former World No. 30 Verma, who had clinched Super 100 titles at Russia Open and Dutch Open last year, eked out a hard-fought 21-11, 21-23, 21-18 win over B Sai Praneeth.
Verma grabbed seven straight points from 14-17 down in the decider against former Singapore Open champion Sai Praneeth in the quarter-finals.
In the other semi-final matches of the day, Rohan Kapoor and Kuhoo Garg lived up to their reputation as the top seeds in mixed doubles. The World No. 46 pair needed only 32 minutes to dispatch Vighnesh Devlekar and Harika V 21-15, 21-16 to enter the final.
They will take on the unseeded combine of Manu Attri and Maneesha K, who continued their rampage with a fine 21-18, 21-17 victory over Shlok Ramchandran and Mithula UK.
In women's doubles, top seeds Meghana Jakkampudi and Poorvisha S Ram continued their quest for the title with a strong 21-13, 21-16 victory over Kuhoo Garg and Anoushka Parikh. They will take on the unseeded Shikha Gautam and Ashwini Bhat K in the summit clash after the latter edged Aparna Balan and Sruthi KP 21-19, 24-22.
Men's doubles second seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Chirag Shetty beat Arun George and Sanyam Shukla 21-17, 21-18 to secure a place in the final.
ISL: Kerala Blasters FC beat Chennaiyin FC 3-0
Kerala Blasters FC notched only its second win of the Indian Super League season after a comprehensive 3-0 win over rivals Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi.
Matej Poplatnik scored a brace (23rd and 55th minutes) to put Kerala Blasters in the driving seat and young midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad finished things off in the 71st minute to score his first ever ISL goal and end his team's 14-game winless run.
On the other hand, Chennaiyin saw it nightmare season continue after their 12th loss.
They are rooted to the bottom spot with eight points from 16 games, while Kerala have climbed to the eighth spot.
The visitors never really got going and were on the backfoot right from the start.
Kerala did make the early dominance count by taking the lead in the 23rd minute. Courage Pekuson's low cross into the box could only be deflected towards Poplatnik by Karanjit and the striker headed
home into an empty net.
John Gregory's side could not gain a foothold into the match and looked woefully out of rhythm.
As the half wore on, Kerala could have doubled their lead as Karanjit was forced into two fine saves from Pekuson and Seiminlen Doungel's efforts.
The story remained pretty much the same in the second half as well and the second goal came 10 minutes later. Len Doungel initiated a quick counter-attack and fed Sahal down the right wing. The midfielder squared a pass into the box which was not dealt with by the Chennaiyin defenders. Stojanovic got to it and found Poplatnik who lashed a shot home.
That goal was a blow Chennaiyin FC never recovered from. It did not help that Christopher Herd, who was injured in the build-up to Kerala's goal, had to be substituted.
The home team continued to call the shots and soon got the third in the 71st minute. Again, Samad started the attack with a run from inside his own half.
The Chenanaiyin defenders could not clear the ball after Samad's attempted one-two with Doungel did not come off. Sahal carried on his run to latch on to the loose ball and lift a finish over the onrushing Karanjit.
Chennaiyin did push forward a bit to notch a consolation goal but Kerala saw them off with consummate ease.
16-year-old Aryaan becomes first Indian tennis player to flunk dope test
Aryaan Bhatia became the first Indian tennis player to fail a dope test and has been put under provisional suspension, the National Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday.
The 16-year-old Bhatia's urine sample was taken during the Fenesta Open National Tennis Championship held here in October last year. The NADA had collected samples for the first time from tennis players during the championship.
All India Tennis Association Secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee claimed it was a case of ignorance and the banned substance entered into Aryaan's system from a medicine prescribed by a doctor.
"It's a case of ignorance, a mistake has been made. The player had cold and he took a medicine as prescribed by a doctor. He was not aware that the medicine carried banned substance. He has already appealed and it will be heard soon," Chatterjee said.
"We will also put it strongly before NADA that he be excused since he is a junior player and mistake happened due to lack of awareness," he added.
The national anti-doping watchdog also provisionally suspended seven other sportspersons last month for flunking dope tests. They are Sandeep Kaur (powerlifting), Ankit Gosai (handball), Jithu Thomas (volleyball), Yaiphaba (canoeing), Vishan Sing (kayaking and canoeing) and Shivam Kasana (cycling).
Middle distance runner Monika Chaudhary, who had moved Delhi High Court to secure a trial ahead of last year's Asian Games and later tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), has been handed a four-year ban by the Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP).
The ADDP also handed four year bans to hockey player Bharat Singh and hammer thrower Ginjan Singh.
The ban period of decathlete Jagtar Singh, who tested positive for Meldonium during the Federation Cup Athletics Championships in 2017, has been reduced from four years to two years by the Anti-Doping Appeal Panel (ADAP).
The NADA also said that it has conducted 675 dope tests, including 57 blood samples, in the last month.
Chawrasia, Kapur make cuts at Perth
India's SSP Chawrasia survived some anxious moments before making his first cut of the year at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth golf tournament in Perth.
Chawrasia, who was tied fifth after the first round, shot two-over 74 and was placed tied 37th after two rounds of the tournament, which is a mix of stroke play and match play.
It was Chawrasia's first cut in three starts in 2019.
Also making the 36-hole cut was another Indian, Shiv Kapur (73-70) who was placed tied 49th after the second round.
However, four other Indians, Ajeetesh Sandhu (71-73), S Chikkarangappa (73-71), Khalin Joshi (73-72) and Viraj Madappa (74-75) missed the cut.
Chawrasia had three birdies against five bogeys, while Kapur made five birdies and two bogeys.
Thailand's Panuphol Pittayarat is placed at the top of the leaderboard after firing seven birdies against one bogey to share the second round lead with New Zealand's Ryan Fox, Matthew Griffin of Australia and Belgium's Thomas Pieters.
Starting his round five shots off the lead, Pittayarat quickly made a comeback with birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and seventh holes.
He dropped a shot on the eighth but regained his advantage with further gains on nine, 11 and 15 to sign for a six-under-par 66 and a total of eight-under-par 136 at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
The top 65 and tied players after 36 holes have advanced to Saturday's round where the leading 24 players after 54 holes of stroke play will progress to the six-hole knockout match play on Sunday.
The weekend cut was set at one-under with 66 players making it into the third round.