Firstpost Spodcast Episode 243: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal enter Wimbledon quarters, Rahul Dravid to head NCA and more

In today's episode, we discuss results from Wimbledon 2019, I-League clubs' plea to PM Narendra Modi, Rahul Dravid's appointment at NCA and more.

FP Sports July 09, 2019 15:55:03 IST
Firstpost Spodcast Episode 243: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal enter Wimbledon quarters, Rahul Dravid to head NCA and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

Another day at Wimbledon, and another Roger Federer record. On Monday, he delivered another vintage Centre Court performance to reach a record-extending 17th Wimbledon quarter-final.

Federer ousted 17th-seeded Matteo Berrettini 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in a match that only lasted 1 hour and 14 minutes. So complete was Federer’s dominance that he lost just one point on his serve in the first set and didn't face a break point until he was up 3-0 in the third. He saved that break point and went on to serve out the match at love. The 37-year-old eight-time Wimbledon champion became the oldest man to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal since Jimmy Connors did it at 39 at the 1991 US Open. He will face off against Kei Nishikori in the next round.

World number 1 Novak Djokovic coasted into the quarterfinals after beating Ugo Humbert in straight sets. Djokovic took advantage of 34 unforced errors by Humbert to win 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and set up a meeting with David Goffin in the round of eight. That makes 2019 Djokovic’s 11th Wimbledon quarterfinal, which brings him level with Boris Becker at fourth place on the all-time list.

Rafael Nadal reached his 39th career Grand Slam quarterfinal by beating Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on Centre Court. Nadal dominated from the start, breaking Sousa in his first two service games to take a 4-0 lead in the first set. He never faced a break point and converted six of the eight he created on Sousa's serve. Nadal received a standing ovation from parts of the crowd after setting up one of those breakpoints, ending a 20-shot rally with a running backhand cross-court winner to make it 30-40 at 1-1 in the third set. Monday’s victory was the two-time Wimbledon champion's 52nd win at the All England Club, surpassing Bjorn Borg for eighth place on the all-time list.

In the women’s draw, Serena Williams eased into the quarterfinals for the 14th time by beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-2. She won six straight games from 3-2 in the first set to take complete control of the match. She has never lost a set in seven career meetings against Suarez Navarro. Williams is looking for her eighth Wimbledon title after losing last year's final to Angelique Kerber. She will next face fellow American Alison Riske, who upset top-ranked Ash Barty earlier in the day.

Barty opened the match with four straight aces but landed only 40 percent of her first serves in the second set and was broken four times in total. The unseeded Alison Riske came from a set down to defeat Barty 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and qualify for her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. She broke for a 5-3 lead in the deciding set and clinched the win on her first match point when Barty sent a backhand wide. The loss ends a 15-match winning streak for Barty, who was coming off titles at the French Open and Birmingham and was playing her first tournament as No. 1.

British player Johanna Konta reached her second Wimbledon quarterfinal by coming from a set down to knock out two-time champion Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Konta, the only local player left in the tournament, missed two match points at 5-2 in the decider but served it out on her next opportunity when Kvitova sent a shot long. Kvitova, who had a terrible match, hit 40 winners compared to Konta's 22, but also had 34 unforced errors compared to Konta’s 21.

Karolina Muchova narrowly avoided a deciding-set tiebreaker, beating third-seeded Karolina Pliskova 4-6, 7-5, 13-11 to reach the quarterfinals as well. Muchova won the last three games of the match and converted her third match point with a return that clipped the net cord.

Meanwhile, Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old who shot to fame after defeating Venus Williams in the first round, failed to make it to the quarterfinals. She lost to former No 1 Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round. Halep broke Gauff five times and took advantage of 29 unforced errors by Gauff.

The crisis facing Indian football reached the doorsteps of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. Six I-League clubs requested the PM to set up an enquiry commission and "probe the All India Football Federation's functioning".

In a dramatic move, a letter signed by Swapan Sadhan Bose, managing director of Mohun Bagan, urging the prime minister to "intervene and save the sport" was handed over. Besides Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Churchill Brothers, FC Goa, Gokulam Kerala FC, Minerva Punjab FC and Aizawl FC have requested the centre’s intervention.

The letter states, “Recent media reports and press statements from the AIFF itself have indicated that the AIFF is seeking to make the ISL, which came into existence in 2013, the senior most league in the country, whereas I-League, that dates back to 2007 when it was launched as India's first ever professional football league is sought to be made into a second tier and inferior league...There is a sharp decline in the standard of Indian football. Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, including India, but this popularity has not been matched by necessary and good administration as far as the national body is concerned.”

AIFF president Praful Patel had assured the I-League clubs last week that their future is secure and that he would approach the AFC to ensure the I-League continues to co-exist with the ISL for another 2-3 years. The clubs accepted most of his proposals.

The clubs also questioned the status granted to ISL. They said, “ISL is just like the IPL of football and so the question that arises is how can a purely commercial league be made into the senior-most league of the country which has no international recognition or standing?”

Yet another Indian athlete is being investigated for possible doping. Weightlifter Swati Singh has returned an adverse analytical finding (or AAF) for morphine, the International Weightlifting Federation said in a statement. However, the world body is yet to clarify whether she has actually committed a doping violation.

The IWF did not specify the competition in which Swati, a 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in the women's 53kg category, returned the AAF. Their report simply stated, “IWF reports that the sample of Ms. Swati Singh...has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for Morphine (S7. Narcotics) ...In any case where it is determined that the athlete did not commit an anti-doping rule violation, the relevant decision will also be published. IWF will not make any further comments on the case until it is closed.”

Morphine falls in the narcotics sub-category of drugs under specified stimulants which are prohibited in-competition, as per the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. That said, Swati does not face any ban until it is proved she committed an anti-doping rule violation.

Rahul Dravid was appointed the Head of Cricket at the National Cricket Academy (or NCA), the BCCI announced on Monday.

Dravid was supposed to take over as NCA head from 1 July but his job at India Cements caused the delay.

The BCCI’s Committee of Administrators asked Dravid to relinquish his post as vice-president of India Cements or be on leave until he completes his tenure. India Cements then sent him on leave to avoid conflict of interest.

Explaining his role, the BCCI said, “Mr Dravid will oversee all cricket related activities at NCA and will be involved in mentoring, coaching, training and motivating players, coaches and support staff at the NCA. (He) will also work closely with the National men's and women's Head coaches and coaches for India developmental teams including India A, India Under 19, India Under 23 teams, in the identification of key training and development objectives.”

The former captain will also be responsible for monitoring the progress of developmental teams and providing necessary inputs on them to the senior men's and women's head coaches. The cricket board did not specify the tenure of Dravid’s appointment.

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