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Sports Shorts: Paes-Bopanna knocked out of Japan Open

Last updated on: October 02, 2014 23:12 IST
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Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes of India in action during the Rakuten Open 2014 at Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo

Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes of India in action during the Rakuten Open 2014 at Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo. Photograph: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

India’s Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna crashed out of the Japan Open following a straight set defeat against Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, in Tokyo on Thursday.

The unseeded Indian combine lost 3-6, 2-6 to the second seeded Croat-Brazilian pair in a 51-minute quarter-final.

Melo and Dodig reached the US Open semi-finals and also reached finals of two Master series events -- Canada and Monte Carlo -- this year.

The Indian pair had just one chance to break their opponents and lost their serve thrice. Paes and Bopanna had beaten local wild card pair of Tatsuma Ito and Go Soeda in their opening round.

Nishikori, Raonic make Tokyo quarters in straight sets

Kei Nishikori of Japan

Kei Nishikori of Japan. Photograph: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

US Open finalist Kei Nishikori overcame a sluggish start to advance to the Japan Open quarter-finals on Thursday, while Milos Raonic also stayed on course to make it third time lucky at the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

Fourth seeded Nishikori beat American Donald Young 6-4, 7-6(4) in 78 minutes but not before he was made to toil at the Ariake Colloseum in front of his home fans.

Much to their relief, the 2012 winner saved one set point at 5-6 before gaining a mini-break at 5-4 in the second set tie-break to stay on course for a fourth ATP title of a career-best season.

"I've known my opponent since we were playing in juniors," Nishikori was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.

"We each know what the other's got, so it's a little hard to play him, but I competed without losing my concentration.

"I made sure to play a solid game in the second set, too."

Nishikori needs to beat Jeremy Chardy to reach the semi-finals in Tokyo and add to his total in the tight race to reach the season-ending ATP Finals in London next month.

Frenchman Chardy upset seventh seed Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 in the final match of the day.

Raonic, a finalist in Tokyo for the last two years, fired 11 aces past Austrian Jurgen Melzer for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

The Canadian broke Melzer in the 10th game to bag the opener before dropping a 3-0 lead in the second set and allowing Melzer to draw level.

But Raonic unleashed a wrong-footing forehand winner for his third service break and sealed the contest with an ace down the middle.

"I felt as though I played very well today," said Raonic, who meets Denis Istomin in the quarter-finals after the Uzbek downed Polish qualifier Michal Przysiezny 6-4 7-6(5).

"Jurgen played well to break me in the second set, but I'm happy with the level in which I finished both the first and second sets.

"I'm going to have to be well prepared for tomorrow and focus on keeping my level," added Raonic, who is currently ninth in the race to London with five of the eight spots up for grabs.


1 Novak Djokovic 8150-qualified

2 Roger Federer 7020-qualified

3 Rafael Nadal 6645-qualified

4 Stanislas Wawrinka 4795

5 Marin Cilic 3935

6 Kei Nishikori 3845

7 David Ferrer 3535

8 Tomas Berdych 3510

- - - - - - - - - - - -

9 Milos Raonic 3440

10 Andy Murray 3405

11 Grigor Dimitrov 3360

12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2650

13 Ernests Gulbis 2445

Top international women footballers to sue FIFA

 Women footballers celebrate (Picture for representational purpose only)

Women footballers celebrate (Picture for representational purpose only). Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

A group of top international women players filed a lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) on Wednesday alleging gender discrimination over plans to play the 2015 Women's World Cup on artificial turf.

The lawsuit, filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, claims the sport's governing body and CSA are discriminating against women by staging the tournament on artificial grass that they feel poses safety risks and alters how the game is played.

"The gifted athletes we represent are determined not to have the sport they love be belittled on their watch," Hampton Dellinger, the attorney representing the players, said in a statement.

"Getting an equal playing field at the World Cup is a fight female players should not have to wage but one from which they do not shrink. In the end, we trust that fairness and equality will prevail over sexism and stubbornness."

The World Cup finals for men and women, contested every four years, have always been played on natural grass.

The legal action comes one day after FIFA representatives began site inspections of the venues that will host the June 6-July 5 competition in six Canadian cities.

Tatjana Haenni, FIFA's deputy director of the competitions and head of women's competitions, told reporters after a tour of one of the stadiums that there is no Plan B and the tournament will go ahead as planned and be played on artificial turf.

"No plans to change that decision," said Haenni. "I can't answer if that is fair but that is the way it is going to be.

"It is according to the competition regulations, it is according to laws of the game so all matches will be on artificial turf."

The players, led by US national team forward Abby Wambach, had given FIFA and the CSA a deadline of last Friday to open a dialogue on the issue but when their requests for a meeting were ignored followed through on their promise of legal action.

In addition to the application, the attorneys filed a brief detailing the facts and law in support of the discrimination claim and a motion to expedite the proceedings.

"Through public statements and private communications the players and their lawyers have clearly signalled to CSA and FIFA that we want to resolve the 'turf war' through good faith negotiations rather than litigation," said Dellinger. "CSA and FIFA have ignored these overtures.

"As a result, the players have no choice but to initiate the legal action filed today.

"Whatever happens in court, CSA and FIFA have lost any claim to being good stewards of the women’s game -- until they correct their mistake."

The standoff has cast a cloud over the buildup to the women's showcase.

More than 40 of the world's best players, including Wambach and Germany's Nadine Angerer, FIFA players of the year for 2012 and 2013, respectively, have so far joined the coalition.

Thailand in talks to host Tour de France

Tour de France

The peloton rides past Cambridge University at the start of the third stage of the 2014 Tour de France, a 155km stage between Cambridge and London. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Thailand are in talks with Tour de France organisers about bringing the world's most prestigious cycling race to Asia for the first time and are confident of doing so by 2016, a senior tourism official said on Thursday.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand said they had held fruitful talks with Jean-Etienne Amaury, Chairman of the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) who organise the Tour de France, last month in Paris and were encouraged.

"We are still talking with Tour de France organisers but we are looking at next fiscal year. So 2016, not 2015," TAT governor Thawatchai Arunyik told Reuters.

"We’re not sure yet how many stages we will hold whether it is one or two stages or the whole competition. This is something that still needs to be discussed.

"Thailand is the perfect location for this highly prestigious competition, not to mention that cycling as a sport is enjoying enormous popularity here at the moment."

The ASO was unable to provide immediate comment.

The Tour, first held in 1903, is one of the most gruelling sporting tests, with professional cyclists completing last year's 3,663.5 kilometre race (2,276 miles) in 23 days.

Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Spain and Luxembourg have also hosted the start of the race in recent years before the riders make their way through France and finish at the traditional end point, the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Brazil's Dani Alves plans to leave Barcelona

Dani Alves

From left, Barcelona's players Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Dani Alves joke during a training session. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Brazil international Dani Alves is planning to leave Barcelona at the end of this season and join an English club, the fullback said on Wednesday.

"I am moving to England next year," he told Rio de Janeiro's O Globo newspaper.

"I am going to play in the cradle of football. This will be my last year at Barcelona."

He did not say which club he might join or why he wanted to leave the Spanish giants.

The 31-year old joined Barcelona in 2008 and has won four La Liga crowns and two Champions League titles.

Caterham F1 team to race on despite bailiffs


Marcus Ericsson of Sweden and Caterham. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

The Caterham Formula One team say they are going ahead with preparations to race in Japan this weekend despite bailiffs visiting their factory in central England on Wednesday.

The troubled team issued a statement ahead of the race at Suzuka that condemned "unfounded and unsubstantiated rumours concerning actions against 1MRT, the entrant and owner of CaterhamF1".

"An action was threatened yesterday (Wednesday) against a supplier company to 1MRT. This company is not owned by 1MRT and it has no influence over the entry of CaterhamF1 or the entrant," it added.

"Contrary to uncontrolled rumours, all operations are currently in place at Leafield and the race team is doing its preparation in Japan," the statement concluded.

A senior source close to the team confirmed to Reuters by telephone that bailiffs had visited the Leafield factory but said it was not the first time and denied reports that the facility or computer servers had been closed down.

"All this nonsense is nothing to do with the Formula One is 100 percent not related to the F1 team or any company or subsidiary of the F1 team," added the source, who did not want to be identified.

Caterham changed ownership in July when Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes sold the struggling team to an unidentified "consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors".

Since then the new owners have been embroiled in legal action with some 40 former employees who accuse them of unfair dismissal.

There have also been issues to resolve with suppliers.

Caterham, who are last in the championship standings and have never scored a point, said in a statement in July that the staff in question were employed by a supplier rather than the Formula One team itself.

The team's Leafield site was previously used by Super Aguri and Arrows, two now-defunct teams that collapsed due to financial problems.

Japan's Kamui Kobayashi and Sweden's Marcus Ericsson are Caterham's current drivers, with Spaniard Roberto Merhi due to take part in Friday first practice at Suzuka.

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