Vinci beats second seed
Defending champion Roberta Vinci of Italy defeated second seed Aravane Rezai of France 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the Barcelona Ladies Open on Tuesday. Top-seeded Francesca Schiavone beat fellow Italian Alberta Brianti 6-2, 6-1 on the rain-affected outdoor clay courts of the David Lloyd Club Turo. Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez dispatched Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 6-4, 6-4, justifying her third seeding while fourth seed and 2008 champion Maria Kirilenko defeated Masa Zec Peskiric of Slovenia 7-5, 6-1.
Indian star makes debut
India’s Sunil Chhetri made his Wizards debut in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids in a US Open Cup qualifier on Tuesday, a day after his visa and international transfer certificate were cleared. Chhetri, the first Indian national on a Major League Soccer team, started and played the first half for Kansas City. He agreed to terms on March 25 and was added to the 24-man Wizards squad on Monday. Teal Bunbury opened the scoring for the Wizards in the fourth minute but Wells Thompson scored in the 24th and 80th minutes to secure the win for the visiting team. The Indian international is one of the most popular players in his home country. The Wizards’ Facebook page has added more than 6,000 fans since Chhetri signed and nearly every move he’s made has been on news pages in India. Chhetri had a decent scoring chance stopped early and received yellow card in the 20th minute for taking down Thompson from behind. He was replaced by Kei Kamara in the second half.
Monaco reach Cup final
Substitute Moussa Maazou struck in extra time to lift Monaco to a 1-0 win over RC Lens on Tuesday and a place in the French Cup final. Striker Maazou headed home with 10 minutes left in the extra period after Lens had dominated an entertaining game at the Stade Louis II. Monaco will face amateurs Quevilly or Paris St Germain, who played yesterday, in the final. Lens were more aggressive in midfield but failed to convert two clear chances before the break through Kanga Akale. The winger missed the target after breaking down the left flank in the sixth minute. Shortly after the half hour, Akale collected a defense-splitting pass from Yohan Demont but was denied from close range by Monaco goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier. Monaco earned a penalty 10 minutes into the second half when Alejandro Alonso was brought down in the box by goalkeeper Vedran Runje. Nene converted it but, with a few players in the box when he took his shot, referee Stephane Bre asked for the spot kick to be retaken and the striker skied his second attempt. With the match into extra time, Lens midfielder Sebastien Roudet had a clear chance in the 98th minute but his header was parried away by Ruffier. A minute later, Maazou replaced Alonso and immediately made his presence felt when he headed home a Nene cross.
Benfica win Lisbon derby
Second-half goals from Oscar Cardozo and Pablo Aimar gave Benfica a 2-0 win over Sporting Lisbon and put the Eagles six points clear at the top of the Portuguese league. Striker Cardozo, the league’s top scorer with 21 goals, deflected in a Fabio Coentrao shot after 68 minutes in the Lisbon derby on Tuesday. Playmaker Aimar scored on a break 10 minutes later. Benfica are unbeaten at home this season and with six games to play have 67 points. Braga are second on 61 and Porto third on 56. Sporting have 41 points in fourth.
Cagliari sack ‘Coach of Year’
Massimiliano Allegri became the 16th coaching change of the season in Serie A’s 20-team league as he was fired by Cagliari on Tuesday only two months after he had been voted coach of the 2008-2009 season by his peers. Allegri has been replaced by youth team coach Giorgio Melis. The 42-year-old — who received 40 percent of the vote from his fellow coaches for the award — was almost two years into a three-year contract and was seen as one of the bright young prospects in Italy’s top flight. In his first Serie A job, he guided Cagliari to an impressive ninth place finish last season and for large parts of this term they were challenging for European qualification. But they had not won in their last nine games and Cagliari released a brief statement thanking him for his work and wishing him the best in the future.
Paraguay coach unrepentant
Paraguay’s Argentine coach Gerardo Martino is unrepentant over his penchant for picking naturalized compatriots for the team he is preparing for the World Cup finals. Buenos Aires-born striker Lucas Barrios is the latest to take Paraguayan citizenship through his mother, with Martino suggesting the Borussia Dortmund player could be in his World Cup squad. Paraguayans have questioned Martino’s use of players born in neighboring Argentina, though the coach was adamant he would continue the policy. “It doesn’t seem logical to me to miss out on an important player,” Martino told the Cardinal radio station in Asuncion on Tuesday. “The people will hang me for losing, not for nationalizing [players].” Midfielders Jonathan Santana and Nestor Ortigoza have played for the team and Jonathan Fabbro of local side Guarani has also taken Paraguayan nationality.
Twente suffer second defeat
An own goal by defender Peter Wisgerhof condemned Twente Enschede to only their second defeat of the season, the Dutch league leaders going down 1-0 to AZ Alkmaar on Tuesday. At the other end of the table RKC Waalwijk were relegated after suffering their 27th defeat of the season, losing 4-1 at Heracles Almelo, with Brazilian Everton scoring twice. With two matches remaining Twente top the standings with 80 points. Second-placed Ajax were aiming to reduce the gap to one point when they visited Willem II Tilburg yesterday. Wisgerhof found his own net in the eighth minute to put Alkmaar ahead and although Steve McClaren’s side dominated the second half they were unable to find an equalizer. Twente were unlucky to be denied a penalty despite an obvious handball from defender Simon Poulsen while he was trying to block striker Blaise Nkufo’s header.
Windies crush Canada
A fine knock by veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul saw hosts West Indies romp to a 208-run victory over Canada in their one-day international in Kingston on Tuesday. The 35-year-old hit 101 off 120 balls including six fours and a six as West Indies racked up 316 for 4 off their 50 overs. Dwayne Bravo contributed 74 off 75 balls including two sixes whilst the match featured the return of class batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan for the first time since he returned home from the tour of Australia late last year with a back problem. Sarwan showed he was in good order as he hit a quickfire unbeaten 47 off 26 balls with six boundaries including a six. Canada were never in the hunt with just Umar Bhatti putting up much resistance with 32 not out — Nikita Miller returning the best figures for the West Indies of 3-15.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is buying the Forum for US$400 million, ending the billionaire’s legal fight with Madison Square Garden Co (MSG) and clearing the way to build a new arena for his NBA team down the street in Inglewood, California. Ballmer on Tuesday announced his cash purchase of the venerated arena. Ballmer, a former Microsoft executive, and Clippers vice chairman Dennis Wong are making the transaction through CAPSS LLC, a newly formed entity that would continue to operate the Forum as a live music venue. “This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” Ballmer said.
DISSENT: The US track and field body joined sports officials in Norway and Brazil, as well as Indian athletes, in calling on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 organizers have started drafting possible alternatives to holding the Olympics this summer, two sources familiar with the talks said, in contrast to the Japanese government’s stance that postponement is not an option. While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted sports events around the world, Japan has been steadfast in saying that the Games would go on. A Japanese government spokesman on Wednesday said that Tokyo was not preparing for postponement. “Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement,” said one of the sources, an official close to the organizing committee who is involved in drafting the
EXPENDITURE: Tokyo Games organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said that ‘additional expenses are going to be quite massive’ to reschedule the Olympics The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is working with sports bodies to arrange a July-to-August window next year for the postponed Tokyo Olympics and hopes to confirm the schedule within a month, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported yesterday. John Coates, head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics, told the newspaper that the Games would have to be held between the tennis Grand Slams of Wimbledon, scheduled to end in mid-July, and the US Open, which starts in late August. “We want to more or less finalize the dates in four weeks’ time,” the newspaper quoted Coates as saying. Coates, who is also
PROUD, BUT BOWING OUT: The Dallas center missed all of 2018 due to Guillain-Barre syndrome, but Travis Frederick returned to be a standout again last season Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick on Monday stunningly announced his retirement. Frederick, who turned 29 on Wednesday last week, was a Pro Bowl selection in five of his six NFL seasons. Frederick revealed his retirement in a lengthy letter, beginning it by writing: “After much consideration, discussion, and reflection, I have decided to retire from football. This was not an easy decision.” Frederick cited his bout with autoimmune disease Guillain-Barre syndrome as a factor. He missed the 2018 season due to the illness in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system, but he returned to be a standout again last