Firstpost Spodcast Episode 126: Serena Williams' fine form at Australian Open 2019, Prithvi Shaw's comeback in IPL and more

Welcome to Spodcast.

Serena Williams looks in imperious form in the 2019 Australian Open. She defeated the current World No 1 Simona Halep 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in a thrilling match that saw fortunes shift before Williams upped her game to qualify for the quarter-finals.

With Halep, Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber out of the tournament, Serena Williams is now the favourite to win the Australian Open.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic survived a minor scare to continue his quest for a seventh Australian Open championship. He defeated Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 to make it to the quarterfinals but had to work for the win.

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev lost against Canadian Milos Raonic 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 and had a meltdown midway that included smashing his racquet. The 21-year-old threw a tantrum during the second set, whacking his racquet into the ground eight times to leave it a crumpled mess.

The controversy around Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, after their comments on a television talk show, could continue for some time yet. While the two players stand suspended by the BCCI until an ombudsman appointed by the Supreme Court investigates the matter, the Committee of Administrators (CoA) said it is seriously considering behavioural counselling programmes for the Indian team.

A BCCI official, on condition of anonymity, told PTI, "The Indian senior team as well as the Emerging, A teams and U-19s will have behavioural counselling session at the National Cricket Academy. The course will deal with every aspect of a professional sportsperson's life. There will also be sessions on gender sensitivity."

Prithvi Shaw, who suffered an ankle injury in Australia last year on the cusp of the Test series, told the media on Monday that he would make his return to competitive cricket during the IPL. He said, "I will be fit before the Indian Premier League and I am trying hard to reach full fitness. I am working on my ankle as well as on my upper body."

Shaw twisted his ankle as he took a catch in a warm-up game against Cricket Australia XI. He explained that he tried to get fit for the second Test but the injury seemed to worsen, which meant he was forced to take a break. He recalled, "I was trying hard to play in the second Test and the physios too were trying to get me fit for the match. However, the more they tried, the swelling increased and it got more painful. So, I thought even if I play, I will not be able to give my 100 percent because it was not easy to play with that pain."

The 2019 edition of the IPL begins on 23 March.

Some news from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Australia prevailed against Uzbekistan after a penalty shoot-out while Japan defeated three-time champions Saudi Arabia to qualify for the quarter-finals.

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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2019 13:25:02 IST

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