Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 16


Mladenovic wins first title

France’s Kristina Mladenovic won her maiden WTA Tour singles title on Sunday, overcoming Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva in the final of the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy. Mladenovic, ranked 51st in the world, won a tough three-setter 6-2, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4 in 2 hours, 36 minutes to earn a 3-2 lead in her head-to-head record with 22-year-old Putintseva. “It was a very difficult week with plenty of close matches,” Mladenovic said. “Today it was also tough as Yulia is such a big fighter. I couldn’t relax and couldn’t find my rhythm. All the match it was up and down, and I tried really hard to stay calm and composed. Finally I did everything right to win my first title and now I’m super-glad.”


Teary Pierce bids farewell

Isaiah Thomas stole the spotlight from Paul Pierce on Sunday, scoring 28 points to lead the Boston Celtics to their seventh straight victory, a 107-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Pierce’s final game at the Garden. Al Horford had 13 points and a season-high 15 rebounds for the Celtics, who brought Pierce to tears with a first-quarter highlights video. Thomas also had eight assists. Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford scored 23 apiece, while DeAndre Jordan had 16 rebounds for Los Angeles, who lost for the sixth time in eight games. Pierce’s only points came on a three-pointer after checking in with 19 seconds left and the game out of reach. The 39-year-old Pierce, a former Celtics captain, plans to retire after the season.


Cook quits Test captaincy

Alastair Cook has stepped down as England’s Test captain, but plans to carry on as a player, the England and Wales Cricket Board said yesterday. Cook, who was appointed captain in 2012, led England in 59 Tests, including Ashes victories at home in 2013 and 2015, as well as series wins in India and South Africa. “Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision, but I know this is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team,” Cook said in a statement. “I’ve had time to reflect after the India series and this weekend I spoke to Colin Graves, the chairman, to explain and offer my resignation.” The 32-year-old has scored more Test centuries than any of his predecessors and is also England’s most prolific Test batsman with 11,057 runs in 140 matches.


Matsuyama edges Simpson

Japan’s red-hot Hideki Matsuyama maintained his sizzling run of form, successfully defending his Phoenix Open title with a gripping playoff victory over Webb Simpson of the US at the TPC Scottsdale in Arizona on Sunday. Matsuyama clinched his fifth win in his past nine starts worldwide when he sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole, the par-four 17th, where Simpson could only par.


Garcia wins in the desert

Sergio Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic, his 12th European Tour title, after a final-round 69 on Sunday kept him three shots clear of Ryder Cup teammate Henrik Stenson. The Spaniard finished with a bogey-free round to move to 19-under for the tournament, ahead of Swede Stenson, with Britain’s Tyrell Hatton and Denmark’s Lasse Jensen a further two shots adrift in third.