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Sports Shorts: Sindhu, Srikanth seek to reclaim India Open crowns

Last updated on: March 25, 2019 16:10 IST
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A summary of sports events and persons who made news on Monday

PV Sindhu

IMAGE: Sindhu will open against compatriot Mugdha Agrey. Photograph: PV Sindhu/Twitter

Former champions P V Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth will look to shrug off their erratic form and ensure an Indian sweep at the USD 350,000 India Open, which is shorn of star power this time.

With Saina Nehwal pulling out of the country's blue-riband tournament after failing to recover from acute gastroenteritis, the onus will be on Sindhu and Srikanth to keep the tricolour flying at the business end of the tournament starting on Tuesday.

 

Olympic silver-medallist Sindhu, who claimed the World Tour Finals in December last year, will be the firm favourite to secure the women's title after receiving the top billing following the pullout of Chinese top seed and reigning All England champion Chen Yufei due to medical reasons.

The absence of Japanese players will also help Sindhu's case.

Sindhu had a decent start to the new season with a quarterfinal finish at the Indonesia Masters but a first-round exit at the prestigious All England Championship came as a major jolt.

The Indian ace, who won silver medals at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the World Championship in 2018, will draw inspiration from her performance in the last two editions where she had reached the finals and claimed the title in 2017.

Sindhu will open against compatriot Mugdha Agrey and is expected to face fast-rising Danish Mia Blichfeldt, seeded eighth, in the quarterfinals. A win is likely to pit her against Chinese third seed He Bingjiao.

Youngsters Vrushali Gummadi and Sai Uttejitha Rao Chukka will also be in the fray in women's singles at the World Tour Super 500 event.

The tournament will hold a lot of prominence for third seed Srikanth, who has endured a title draught for the last 17 months.

With defending champion and top seed Shi Yuqi pulling out, Srikanth will be at the forefront along with former world champion Viktor Axelsen, who had claimed the title in 2017 after three back-to-back finals.

Srikanth, who clinched as many as four titles in 2017, consistently reached the quarterfinals in 2018 but couldn't come close to claiming a title with the 2017 French Open triumph being his last win.

The 26-year-old from Guntur, who clinched the title in 2015, will begin his campaign against familiar foe, Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent, and might come across fellow Indians Sameer Verma or B Sai Praneeth later as both are in the same half of the draw.

O'Sullivan on top of the world after Tour Championship win

Ronnie O'Sullivan

IMAGE: Snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan poses after receiving an OBE from the Prince of Wales. Photograph: John Stillwell/Reuters

Five-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan reclaimed the world number one spot for the first time in nine years by winning the inaugural Tour Championship against Neil Robertson on Sunday.

The Englishman known as ‘The Rocket’ led 5-3 overnight in Llandudno, Wales but Australian Robertson stayed in the contest until 10-10 after which O’Sullivan pulled away to win 13-11.

The 43-year-old is level with Scot Stephen Hendry on 36 ranking titles and in top spot for the first time since May, 2010 - the oldest man to lead the rankings since Ray Reardon in 1983.

Asked about matching Hendry, O’Sullivan said: “That’s one of the records that’s nice to get, the centuries was nice, the 19 majors was nice. Those three records are great. The only one now is the world titles but I don’t see that happening.”

Earlier this month, O’Sullivan became the first player to compile 1,000 career century breaks en route to winning the Players Championship final in Preston.

As well as five world titles, O’Sullivan has won a record seven Masters titles and a record seven UK Championships — the sport’s Triple Crown tournaments known as the majors.

Hendry tops the list for world titles with seven followed by both England’s Steve Davis and Welshman Reardon on six.

O’Sullivan, who leapfrogged compatriot Mark Selby at the top of the world rankings, added: “It’s crazy, really, I’ve probably only played about half the events that everyone else has played in to get to number one. It seems quite weird, really.”

The Tour Championship is contested by the sport’s leading eight players with a top prize of 150,000 pounds ($198,120.00).

Sheeraz best-placed Indian in men's skeet, Kimberly Rhode wins women's event

Sheeraz Sheikh was the best-placed Indian with a score of 48 out of 50 in the men's skeet event at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Shotgun World Cup in Acapulco, Mexico.

In the women's event, American legend Kimberly Rhode nailed her sixth ISSF World Cup stage gold over the last two years on Sunday.

Sheeraz was placed 22nd in the pecking order on count-back with 14 others in a field of 95, shooting the same score. Four, including world champion Vincent Hancock of the USA, shot a perfect 50 while 12 others missed one bird each.

Two other Indians in the field Mairaj Ahmad Khan and Angad Vir Singh Bajwa shot 44 and 43 to be placed 74th and 86th respectively, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) stated in a press release.

Among the women, Rashmmi Rathore shot 112 in qualification to end in 23rd place. Maheshwari Chauhan shot 109 to finish 33rd while Simranpreet Kaur shot 97 to be 48th.

In the final, Kimberly shot 57 to leave New Zealand's Chloe Tipple way behind in silver medal position with a score of 48. Donglian Zhang of China won bronze with a score of 42.

Chloe and Zhang also picked up the two available Tokyo 2020 Olympic quota places on offer in the event. Kimberly had already booked hers earlier.

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