Novak Djokovic won his seventh Australian Open title on Sunday in an unexpectedly one-sided match where he crushed Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. It was an exhibition of near flawless tennis from the world no. 1 as he beat the formidable Nadal in just over two hours.
Rafael Nadal came into the final having dominated nearly every opponent he faced. His serve had not been broken since the third set of his first round match, but his own blistering form was no match for Djokovic who took the first set in just 36 minutes. By the fifth game of the second set, Djokovic had conceded just two points on his own serve in the match. Nadal threatened to break back in the next game, but Djokovic held on to take a 4-2 lead and eventually broke Nadal’s serve again to take the second set 6-2. In the third set, Nadal’s serve was broken in the third game, and it was clear that Djokovic was too good for the Spaniard on Sunday.
Novak Djokovic now has more Australian Open championships than Roger Federer and Roy Emerson, with whom he held the joint record of six titles. He also won the US Open and Wimbledon in 2018.
India’s badminton ace Saina Nehwal notched up her first World Tour title win of 2019 at the Indonesia Masters on Sunday. She won the final after her opponent Carolina Marin retired hurt during the first game due to a leg injury.
Saina was trailing 4-10 in the first game when Marin forfeited the match. She last won a BWF title in 2017. About Marin’s injury, she said, “It is (an) important year for all of us. This was not good at all. She is a tough competitor, she started off well and it is unfortunate what happened today.”
Speaking about her own form, Saina said, “I just came out of injury. I played this event to see how good is this, and I'm happy I could play the semifinals at Malaysia and (the) final here. Looking forward to get back to shape and play next tournament.”
Some updates from Indian football now. First up, the I-League. East Bengal beat archrivals Mohun Bagan 2-0 on Sunday to remain in contention for the I-League title.
25-year-old Jobby Justin from Kerala was once again the star for East Bengal. He set up the first goal for Jaime Colado in the 35th minute, while his own header in the 75th minute made it 2-0 for the red and gold brigade. East Bengal picked up three points from the win, taking them to fourth position on the table. They now have 25 points from 13 matches. Third placed Real Kashmir have 25 points as well, but are just ahead on goal difference.
Meanwhile, Neroca FC suffered a setback in their title chase after a goalless draw against Aizawl FC on Sunday. Neroca's Brazilian defender Eduardo Ferreira was red carded in the 48th minute for a dangerous challenge on Zikahi Dodoz. That meant they were down to 10 men. Following consecutive defeats to Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers, a beleaguered Neroca desperately needed a win to remain in the reckoning for the championship. A threatening Aizawl FC looked like taking the match away but failed to convert their chances. However, Neroca had the same problem. Aizawl’s defenders and, in particular, goalkeeper Lalawmpuia thwarted all attempts by Neroca to ensure that no goals were conceded.
An ISL update now and Mumbai City FC halted Bengaluru FC’s unbeaten run this season with a 1-0 win in Mumbai on Sunday.
Mumbai captain Paulo Machado scored the solitary goal in a tense and thrilling encounter. Bengaluru made a typically aggressive start, creating two scoring opportunities within the first seven minutes but both kicks went above the bar. Mumbai City FC were no slouches either, having a crack at the Bengaluru goal in the fifth minute, only for goalie Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to collect the ball safely.
That was how most of the match went as the evenly matched teams battled it out for the top spot on the points table. Mumbai scored in the 29th minute when Paulo Machado collected a pass from Rafael Bastos and slammed it into the left corner of Bengaluru’s goalpost. Bengaluru tried to equalize but failed to convert any of their chances thanks to Mumbai’s robust defence.
Both teams now top the table with 27 points each, but Mumbai are in first place having scored 21 goals as against Bengaluru’s 18. Bengaluru have played one match less than Mumbai FC at this stage.
An FA Cup update from Europe now. Tottenham Hotspur suffered a shock 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace while titleholders Chelsea beat Sheffield 3-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.
It has been a torrid time for the Spurs of late. Their key players are missing - Harry Kane and Dele Alli out with injuries while Son Heung-Min is yet to return from international duties for South Korea in the Asian Cup. Connor Wickham scored for Crystal Palace in just the ninth minute and former Tottenham winger Andros Townsend scored the second goal in the 34th minute off a penalty. Tottenham’s spot-kick woes persisted on Sunday as Kieran Trippier missed a penalty before half time.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said after the loss, “It was so painful to lose the game like this. We have to look forward to the Premier League and Champions League. We cannot complain and just try in the two competitions to give our best.”
Chelsea had no such trouble as they defeated Sheffield 3-0. Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Willian scored twice as they dominated the game against second-tier side Sheffield Wednesday FC. Willian scored his first goal off a penalty in the 26th minute. Callum Hudson-Odoi scored Chelsea’s second goal in the 64th minute and Willian scored once more in the 83rd minute. The game also saw Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain make his debut for Chelsea. Though Higuain scored no goals on Sunday, Chelsea's assistant manager Gianfranco Zola said, “We are pleased with Gonzalo Higuain's performance, he was trying to find the space and get on the ball. It wasn't easy as they had a lot of players round him.”
There was also a VARS incident in the 22nd minute. Sheffield’s Joey Pelupessy exchanged passes with Steven Fletcher as they ran into the box. Ethan Ampadu of Chelsea challenged Pelupessy and seemed to kick Pelupessy’s ankle. Wednesday were then awarded a penalty by Referee Andre Marriner but that decision was overturned by VAR, leaving Sheffield fuming. Caretaker boss Steve Agnew said, “Obviously the VAR decisions are correct but what baffled me was surely it's a corner if it came off their player. The referee gave a drop ball. And a minute later they have a penalty.”
The Pakistan cricket team’s captain Sarfraz Ahmed has been suspended for four matches after he was caught racially abusing South African bowler Andile Phehlukwayo.
The Pakistan skipper accepted that he was in breach of the ICC’s Anti-Racism Code for Participants in an incident that occurred during the second ODI against South Africa in Durban on January 22. As per the Anti-Racism Code, Sarfraz will also be required to undergo an education programme to understand the issue.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said, “The ICC has a zero-tolerance policy towards conduct of this nature. Sarfraz has promptly admitted the offence, was regretful of his actions and has issued a public apology, so these factors were taken into account when determining an appropriate sanction.”
Following the suspension, Sarfraz will miss the remaining two matches of the ongoing ODI series as well as the first two matches of the upcoming T20I series. The Pakistan Cricket Board expressed “utmost disappointment” over the ICC’s decision. Its statement said, “The PCB notes the ICC decision on Sarfraz Ahmed with its utmost disappointment. PCB had anticipated that the matter had been resolved amicably between the two players and the two Boards following Sarfraz Ahmed’s public apologies which were accepted by the player, the Board and South Africa cricket team.”
The board said, “The PCB will be pursuing this matter at the ICC forums with the objective to bring reforms to the Code, promoting amicable resolutions to issues as opposed to penalties.”
However, they also added, “Having said that, the PCB reiterates its zero-tolerance approach towards racist comments and behavior. In consultation with Sarfraz, it has been decided that he will return to Pakistan immediately. Shoaib Malik will captain the team for the remaining ODIs and T20 internationals of the series.”
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Jan 28, 2019 13:17:32 IST