Firstpost Spodcast Episode 124: Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul's future remains undecided, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic storm into third round of Australian Open and more

Welcome to Spodcast, where we look at the big sports headlines of the day.

The immediate future of Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul remains undecided after the Supreme Court adjourned the much-awaited hearing pertaining to the Lodha Committee reforms.

Pandya and Rahul have been suspended by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) until the culmination of an internal inquiry. However, CoA members Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji continue to disagree over the method and means of inquest. Now, the apex court’s adjournment means that the two cricketers could well miss the first ODI against that will be played in Napier on 23 January. The hearing of the petition in the SC on 17 January, which was filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar, was expected to address many issues - ranging from the appointment of an Ombudsman to spelling out a timeline for BCCI elections. Instead, the court ruled that it would proceed with the case only after the appointment of amicus curiae to replace Gopal Subramanium, who left that post recently.

Owners of the IPL team Rajasthan Royals have decided to sell half of their stakes in order to provide a financial boost to the franchise ahead of the 2019 edition of Indian Premier League that begins in late March. Manoj Badale is the principal owner of Rajasthan Royals.

Serena Williams looked to be on course for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam win after defeating Eugenie Bouchard in the second round. In the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic recalled his emotional 2008 Australian Open final against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, prevailing 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Serena Williams, who won her first round match in just 49 minutes, needed only 70 minutes to brush aside the Bouchard 6-2, 6-2. However, she later claimed it wasn’t an easy match. She said, “It wasn't an easy match tonight. So I knew 'Serena, you've got to come out hot, you've got to come out firing, she's a really good player and I haven't had many matches since last year'.”

In contrast, US Open champion and fourth seed Naomi Osaka had a relatively easy outing, against Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek. She won the match 6-2, 6-4. The 21-year-old said, “I thought I served alright, this was my first time playing her and I'm just happy to win to be honest.”

Novak Djokovic, who is chasing a seventh Australian title, had an emotional outing against the man he beat in the 2008 Australian Open final, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Memories of that tense final came rushing back as match began. Djokovic said, “You could feel the tension on court at the beginning. We felt a lot of emotion and tried to play a great game.” However, it wasn’t quite a repeat of the 2008 final, as Djoker eventually won the match easily in three sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Women's top seed, and world number one, Simona Halep struggled against American player Sofia Kenin before winning 6-3, 6-7, 6-4. It was Halep’s second three-set match in a row. She spoke candidly after her match, saying, “I have no idea how I won this, it's so tough to explain what happened on court.”

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat, who won gold medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Asian Games, became the first Indian to receive a nomination in the history of Laureus World Sports Awards. Phogat’s sensational comeback after a long battle with an injury sustained during the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympics has earned her a nomination for Laureus World Comeback of the Year.

The Laureus World Sportsman of the Year category will be an intensely contested award this year - nominees include F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, Kenyan marathon world record-breaker Eliud Kipchoge, Novak Djokovic, basketball player LeBron James, as well as footballers Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe.

Laureus World Sports Awards are considered the world’s premier international sports awards. Sports media from across the world select the highest achieving men, women and teams in sport over the calendar year as nominees. The winners are selected by the 66 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy and will be unveiled at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco on 18 February.

Updated Date: Jan 18, 2019 13:50:52 IST