Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
In tennis news, the 2019 French Open got underway on Sunday. Roger Federer marked his return to Roland Garros after a four-year absence with a straight sets win over Italy's Lorenzo Sogo while Angelique Kerber's hopes of completing a career Grand Slam came to an end.
Federer, a 20-time major winner, hadn't played the tournament since 2015 when he reached the quarter-finals. However, on Sunday, the 37-year-old made it his 60th successive first-round win at a Grand Slam as he won 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 41 minutes. Federer broke serve five times and fired 36 winners past 24-year-old Sonego, the world number 73 who made the quarter-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters.
After his win on the new-look Court Philippe Chatrier that is being rebuilt for a retractable roof by 2020, Federer said, "I felt on edge at the start, my heart was beating crazily...I felt great playing on this court. It looks very attractive, so congratulations to everyone involved. Hopefully, I can play here again for my next match."
In the women's draw, German fifth seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber saw her hopes of a career Grand Slam ended by Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova. Kerber lost 6-4, 6-2 to 18-year-old Potapova who was making her French Open debut. The 31-year-old has now lost six times in the first round of the French Open. The German left-hander had come into Roland Garros carrying a right ankle injury that forced her out of the Italian Open and saw her retire from a second-round tie in Madrid. Her serve was broken six times by Potapova. The 81st-ranked Russian, who hit 28 winners past the German, said, "Kerber is actually one of my idols, and when I was young I was looking for her game."
India's Apurvi Chandela continued her golden run of form, winning the women's 10m Air Rifle event after a close contest on Sunday at this year's third International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol stage in Munich, Germany.
Chandela shot a score of 251 in the final to outshine Wang Luyao of China, who shot 250.8. Another Chinese shooter, Xu Hong, finished third with a score of 229.4 It was a neck-and-neck battle between Apurvi and Wang, where the Indian was just 0.1points ahead as she shot a 10.4 to Wang's 10.3 to clinch the issue.
This was Apurvi's second ISSF World Cup gold of the year followed by a world record score in New Delhi in February, and her fourth ISSF medal. In the second Beijing leg she had finished just outside the medal bracket -- at fourth place.
Another Indian shooter, Elavenil Valarivan, also made it to the finals along with Apurvi but narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing fourth. She lost to eventual bronze medallist Xu Hong just 0.1 points. After 20 shots in the 24-shot final, Xu edged out Elavenil 208.4 to 208.3.
India had a good day in other events as well. After the first round of qualifying in the women's 25m Pistol, Asian Games champion Rahi Sarnobat stood second with a score of 294. A good rapid fire round later today could see winning a medal as well as an Olympic quota. India already has five quota places in Rifle and Pistol competitions. As a result, they forfeited their right to quotas in the women's air rifle and men's 10m air pistol competitions, because they have already secured the maximum possible two quotas in these events. Apurvi, Anjum, Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma and Divyansh Singh Panwar have secured quotas for India so far.
The two Tokyo 2020 Olympic quotas available on Sunday went to Laura-Georgeta Coman of Romania and 16-year old Hungarian Eszter Meszaros, who finished 5th and 6th respectively in the women's 10m air rifle. Monday will witness three finals with a total of six Tokyo quota places up for grabs.
In Formula One news, defending champion Lewis Hamilton soaked up intense pressure on Sunday to secure a narrow, dramatic and emotional victory for Mercedes at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton finished ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen by a hair's breadth in a race riddled with drama. By lap 42, Hamilton led Verstappen by just six-tenths of a second with Sebastian Vettel third 1.7 seconds adrift, ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton radioed the team on lap 50, "I think I'm in big trouble guys," only to be told Mercedes had no intention of pitting again.
Hamilton managed to stay half a second ahead, warding off a lunge from Verstappen on lap 76. Their cars touched, but continued, with Hamilton cutting the chicane to retain the initiative and win.
After the race, Hamilton, who wore a new red helmet in tribute to F1 legend Niki Lauda, said he won because he fought off the challenges "with the spirit of Niki (Lauda)". He dedicated his third win at Monaco to the three-time champion Austrian and non-executive chairman of Mercedes who died on Monday. He said, "That was the hardest race I think I've had...I was fighting with the spirit of Niki. He's been truly an influential person in our team and we miss him."
In the end, Verstappen, who was involved in a pit-lane collision with Valtteri Bottas during the race, was classified fourth after receiving a five-second penalty. This pushed four-time champion Sebastian Vettel to second for Ferrari, and lifted Bottas to third. Both joined Hamilton in donning red 'Niki' hats in tribute to Lauda during the podium ceremonies.
In badminton news, China won the Sudirman Cup for the 11th time after defeating Japan on Sunday. Shi Yuqi stunned world champion Kento Momota as hosts China whitewashed Japan 3-0. Their dominant victory over the top seeds is an ominous indication of the depth they possess in their ranks with next summer's Tokyo Olympics on the horizon. Roared on by a raucous home crowd, China went 1-0 up through their men's doubles and then took a 2-0 lead after a captivating women's singles match between Chen Yufei and Akane Yamaguchi.
Japan needed their talisman Momota to beat Shi in the men's singles to keep the tie alive. The world number one had defeated second-ranked Shi four times in five previous meetings, including last year's world championship final. 24-year-old Momota won the first game 21-15, but Shi found rhythm and his subdued Japanese rival faded spectacularly. 23-year-old Shi raced to win the second game 21-5, and took that momentum into the decider, winning the third game - and with it the Sudirman Cup - 21-11.
Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar feels that, just like a bowling outfit, a batting side should also be penalised seven runs if they breach the rules of the game during the course of a match.
Tendulkar's comments came after a bizarre controversy rocked the second semi-final of the Mumbai T20 League between Sobo Supersonics and Aakash Tigers Mumbai Western Suburb on Saturday.
In that game, at the end of the 15th over, SoBo Supersonics were coasting along at 158 for no loss when Hersh Tank required medical attention for cramps. on the last ball of the 15th over, Jay Bista took a single but at the start of the next over, none of the players or umpires realised that it was Tank who was on strike and not Bista. After wrongfully taking the strike, Tank got out on the first ball of the next over. Sensing that the batsmen hadn't changed ends, the umpires called it a dead ball, denying the wicket to Aakash Tigers when the fault lay entirely with the batsmen.
An unamused Tendulkar said, "I saw for this for the first time and then I started thinking...what could be done?...it cannot be a dead ball. But the rules are such, whatever happened it was the right thing to happen at that moment...if three fielders are there in the circle, the umpire never tells them that you need to have the fourth fielder in the ring and it's called a no-ball and there is a free hit. So the fielding side is penalised for that...But when the batters don't go to their respective ends, why isn't the batting side penalised? I think the batting side should also be penalised. And what is the maximum that one could score off each ball is possibly 7 runs, which is a no ball of previous delivery and a free hit. So maybe here also it should be seven runs penalty for the batting side and then they change the ends. "
Tendulkar also said it was the duty of the off-field match officials to point out the mistake to on-field umpires.
Updated Date: May 27, 2019 15:04:35 IST