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first_imgNEW YORK — For stretches of the 27th edition of Williams vs. Williams, Venus gave Serena all she could handle.And when Serena took control down the stretch to emerge with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory in a well-played U.S. Open quarterfinal, allowing her to continue pursuing the first calendar-year Grand Slam in more than a quarter-century, a smiling Venus wrapped both arms around her little sister for a warm hug at the net and whispered, “So happy for you.”“Obviously we are very, very tough competitors on the court,” Serena said later, “but once the match is over, the second it’s done, you know, we’re sisters, we’re roommates, and we’re all that.”Serena called their unique sibling rivalry “the greatest story in tennis,” and who would argue? A couple of kids taught by their dad on cement courts in Compton, California, making it all the way to the top.With two more match wins, the No. 1-ranked Serena would become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to collect all four Grand Slam titles in a single season.Plus, if she can win what would be her fourth U.S. Open in a row, and seventh overall, she would equal Graf with 22 major championships, the most in the professional era and second-most ever behind Margaret Court’s 24.“That would be huge, not just for me, but for my family, just for what it represents and how hard we have worked and where we come from. So it would be a moment for our family,” said the 23rd-seeded Venus, who is 15 months older.“But at the same time, if it doesn’t happen it’s not going to make or break you. We don’t have anything to prove. She has nothing to prove. She’s really the best ever.”Serena is 16-11 in their all-in-the-family matches, including 9-5 in majors and 3-2 at the U.S. Open. And 14 years to the day after Venus beat Serena in the 2001 final at Flushing Meadows, they met again with so much at stake.Well-known folks such as Donald Trump — who was booed when shown on video screens — Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian dotted the teeming stands in Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the sellout crowd of 23,771 got its money’s worth.“They both played their best,” said Serena’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. “If they were feeling uncomfortable with playing each other, they could not play at that level.”The sisters combined for 57 winners (Serena had more, 35) and only 37 unforced errors (Venus had fewer, 15). How close was it? Serena won 76 points, Venus 75.Both pounded serves fast, very fast, each topping 120 mph. Both returned well, oh so well, each managing to put into play at least one serve at more than 115 mph by the other.Venus often attempted to end baseline exchanges quickly. Serena showed tremendous touch by using drop shots, one paired with a backhand passing winner, another with a perfectly curled lob.When a reporter implied he wasn’t sure whether Venus really wanted to beat Serena, the reply was drenched with incredulity.“I tried,” Venus replied. “Were you there?”On Sept. 10, Serena faces unseeded Robert Vinci of Italy, who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at age 32 by outlasting Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.In the men’s quarterfinals, No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated 18th-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in a match that ended at after 1 a.m. Sept. 9.Djokovic’s semifinal opponent Sept. 11 will be defending champion Marin Cilic, who edged 19th-seeded Jo Wilfried-Tsonga 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4.The 43rd-ranked Vinci is playing in the 44th major tournament of her singles career, the second-most appearances by a woman before reaching her initial semifinal.Vinci is 0-4 against Serena and joked about wearing a helmet for protection from some of the 33-year-old American’s booming shots.“She’s the favorite. Maybe she’ll feel the pressure. Who knows? It all depends on her. If she serves well, it’s tough to return,” Vinci said. “But I have nothing to lose.”Against Venus, Serena earned a key break to lead 2-0 in the third set thanks to a down-the-line backhand winner that landed in a corner, then she gritted her teeth, held clenched fists near her head and leaned forward, holding the pose.When she got to match point as a shot by Venus sailed long, Serena dropped to a knee behind the baseline and pumped an arm, her back to her sister.Serena then smacked a 107 mph ace, her 12th, to end it.At 35, the oldest woman to enter the tournament, Venus had her own reasons for wanting to beat Serena, of course. She hasn’t reached the semifinals at any Grand Slam tournament since the 2010 U.S. Open, and might have considered this her last, best chance to collect an eighth major singles championship of her own.Mouratoglou was asked whether Venus can do that. “I think so,” he responded, “except if she plays Serena.”(HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img

first_imgAbhishek Hore New Delhi, Jul 29 (PTI) The stage is getting bigger and the expectations are going higher but Indian shooting sensation Manu Bhaker is grounded as she gears up for another test of her 16-year-old mind and body in next month’s Asian Games. “I want to do well in those events (Asian Games followed by World Championships) but, frankly speaking, I am mainly thinking about competing in the next competition and not about medals. Pressure is there, but it’s there everywhere,” the shooter from Jhajjar, Haryana told PTI as she calmly spoke about the challenges that lie ahead. Bhaker is also least affected by the controversies surrounding her selection in three events for the Asian Games, scheduled to be held in Jakarta and Palembeng from August 18. After taking the shooting world by storm with a plethora of medals,including innumerable gold in top international events, the 16-year-old will next compete in 10m air pistol, 25m sports pistol and mixed air pistol at the Asian Games. In fact, her international gold medal count stands at an astonishing10, a massive achievement for a teenager. Ignored for the Asiad mixed team air pistol event, the seasoned HeenaSidhu had hit out at the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and, in a thinly-veiled reference to the Haryana girl, said the federation was bending rules to favour the favourites. One of the “favourites” is understood to be Bhaker, who remains unperturbed. “Main sirf khelne se matlab rakhti hoon, bas (I am only concerned about my shooting). I am fine if I am picked in three events, if they select me for one event I am fine and if I am not picked for one, then also I am ok,” Bhaker said.advertisement Bhaker’s inclusion reportedly pushed Sidhu to No.2 in the 10m air pistol event and No.3 in 25m sports pistol, from No.1 in the 10m air pistol and No.2 in 25m pistol. “I can’t think about selection. I don’t allow all these things to weigh me down,” she added. When she claimed the individual gold medal in her maiden senior WorldCup appearance in Mexico earlier this year, Bhaker became the youngest Indian shooter to finish top of the podium in these events. Living up to the billing, she did something similar at the ensuingCommonwealth Games in Gold Coast. The expectations will understandably be high as she gears up tocompete in the upcoming tournaments. “In recent times I have worked a lot on the technical aspect. Goodpreparations, I can say. Tried to improve my scores, but you can’tshoot well all the time.” Asked if she is better off technically right now compared to the daysleading to the Commonwealth Games, Bhaker responded in the positive. Ominous signs for her opponents, though she is aware that techniquealone won’t fetch her a medal in a sport that is so much about themental aspect as well. “My body is recovering now after months of training and competition. Iwill be off to Bhopal for a junior camp on August 1, having just comeback from a senior camp.” The Asiad will be followed by the ISSF World Championships, which willbe the first quota event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The prestigious event is scheduled from August 31 in South Korea. Extending her golden run, Bhaker recently won her ninth internationalmedal in one year, at the Meeting of the Shooting Hopes, a prestigiousjunior tournament in Pilsen, Czech Republic. PTI AH PM ATKATKlast_img

first_imgMithali Raj has accused coach Ramesh Powar of discrimination and bias in a letter addressed to the BBCI. Raj has also alleged that Powar humiliated her during the World T20 in West Indies.Raj, in the letter, also said she was hurt and baffled when she was left out of the Indian team for the World T20 semi-final.”…. I would also like to point out that I have nothing against the T/20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur except for the fact that her call to support the decision of the coach to leave me out of the eleven was baffling and hurtful. I wanted to win the world cup for my country and it hurts me because we lost a golden opportunity.”Raj also said she understood the risk she took by writing the letter.”May I say that I am aware that by writing this email I am making myself even more vulnerable. she is a COA member while I am just a player. For the record, I scored back to back fifties in the games before the semi final, was adjudged player of the match on both occasions, to leave me out in the semi final and go with only three performing batters was a decision that left me baffled as much as it left the whole world.”Raj, who is the leading scorer for India in women’s T20 Internationals, had scored two fifties in two matches and won player of the matches awards before she was controversially left out of the semifinal against England.advertisementIndia went down to England by eight wickets and serious questions were raised on Harmanpreet Kaur’s team selection. However, the India women’s T20 skipper said she had no regrets about her team selection.Also read – No regrets, says Harmanpreet Kaur after India’s semi-final defeat”Whatever we decided, we decided for the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, no regrets. I’m proud of the way my girls played through the tournament,” Harmanpreet had said at the post-match presentation ceremony.Hours after India’s exit, Mithali’s manager lashed out at Harmanpreet. In a tweet which Annisha Gupta later deleted, she said: “Unfortunately @BCCIWomen believes in politics not sport. After witnessing what @M_Raj03 ‘s experience could do in IndvIre it’s shocking that they went with what pleases @ImHarmanpreet -a manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain.”Also read: Will Mithali Raj retire from T20Is after World T20 fiasco in West Indies?Meanwhile, Mithali and Harmapreet met with BCCI CEO Rahul Johri after their return from the West Indies.Also read – After World T20 controversy, Mithali and Harmanpreet meet BCCI CEO Rahul JohriMithali’s personal coach RSR Murthy had revealed she was terribly disappointed after being left out of the World T20.Also read – Manipulative, lying, cheat: Mithali Raj’s manager lashes out at Harmanpreet Kaur”Mithali was told after the warm-up session on the morning of the semifinal that she doesn’t figure in the playing eleven, leaving her terribly disappointed,” Murthy told Sportstar.Also read: Ganguly relates to Mithali’s omission from World T20 semi-final: ‘Welcome to the group'”Only last night, I spoke to her and she looked mentally and physically geared up for the semifinal and even hinted that she might not open but would play in the middle-order. I told her just to enjoy batting in any position she gets a chance.”But, apparently, the coach and the captain Harmanpreet Kaur took the call to drop her.”Here is Mithali Raj’s full letter to BCCI:Dear Rahul Sir and Saba,Warm greetings!First of all I would like to thank you both for lending me an ear to hear my grievances. In all the years I have played cricket for India and under the BCCI, I have always found the board to be open to player grievances and finding an appropriate resolution.However, for the first time in a 20 year long career I felt deflated, depressed and let down. I am forced to think if my services to my country are of any value to a few people in power who are out to destroy me and break my confidence.To put things in perspective, I have always reposed faith in diana Edulji and have always respected her and her position as a member of the COA, Never did I think she will use her position against me, more after hearing what all I had to go through in the Caribbean as I had spoken to her about it . Her brazen support in the press with regard to the decision of my benching in the semi final of the t/20 World Cup has left me deeply distressed, more because she knows the real facts having spoken to me. Thereafter her statement saying ‘selection is not the COA’s headache’ is like suggesting there is no system of cheques and balances and anyone can do anything and get away because they have the backing of people in power.advertisementMay I say that I am aware that by writing this email I am making myself even more vulnerable. she is a COA member while I am just a player. For the record, I scored back to back fifties in the games before the semi final, was adjudged player of the match on both occasions, to leave me out in the semi final and go with only three performing batters was a decision that left me baffled as much as it left the whole world.I have always adhered to protocol and haven’t said a word in the press regarding anything that happened in the West Indies believing that the BCCI is there and in the end ‘my truth ‘ will have an ear there and my matter will be handled justly. But the brazen support of a COA member is a clear sign of bias and also that a stance has already been taken against me. By saying ‘I don’t support someone’ and then going all out to support my benching in the press is prejudice of the clearest sort.At this juncture I would also like to point out that I have nothing against the T/20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur except for the fact that her call to support the decision of the coach to leave me out of the eleven was baffling and hurtful. I wanted to win the world cup for my country and it hurts me because we lost a golden opportunity. But I am of the opinion that Harman and I are senior players and our issues, if any, should be sorted out by the two of us by sitting across the table. As India’s 50 over captain, I value Harman as one of our best players and will always want to ensure that the two of us perform our best for India. Having said that, my issue is deeper. My issue is with the coach Ramesh Powar and in all stories circulating in the press, I find that issue getting diluted.My issues with the coach started immediately as we landed in the West Indies. At first there were small signs that his behaviour towards me was unfair and discriminatory but I did not bother much about it. Right from the Sri Lanka tour to Australia A matches I opened the innings and in the World Cup warm up games too I had done the same. One day before the game after I came out of the nets, he walked up to me and informed me that he wanted me to bat in the middle order as we needed depth in the middle order against New Zealand. Not having played middle order in recent times and without practice still , I agreed for the greater cause of the team. For me team comes ahead of anything. After the game it was evident that the opening did not work as the team was 3/38 after power-play and yet in the team meeting the next day he informed me that we are going with the same opening pair as against New Zealand. And he also praised the openers despite them not succeeding.advertisementThis left me completely shocked as against Pakistan there was no requirement of strengthening the middle order and also I have a great record against them. This was a match we had to win. I immediately reached out to the selectors and upon their intervention, he told me just before the game at breakfast that I was opening. I performed well in the game and we cruised to victory. But instead of saying any words of encouragement it appeared he was out there to prove a point and from there on his behaviour changed dramatically towards me and really caused a lot of stress in the middle of one of the most important tournaments for us.For instance, walking off if I am sitting anywhere around, watching in the nets when others bat but choosing to walk away when I am batting in nets, if I try to go up to him to talk to start looking into his phone and keep walking. It was embarrassing and very evident to everyone that I was being humiliated. Yet I never lost my cool. Finding the situation completely out of control and realising that it is important to resolve issues as it affects the team I reached out to the team manager and conveyed my grievances. She convened a meeting at my request between the coach and me in her presence and I spoke to him politely yet firmly about all that was going on. In front of the manager at numerous instances he agreed to his fault ‘ haan Meri Galti hai, ‘Mujhe Aisa Nahin karna chahiye tha’. I also offered for the team cause that if he wants to send youngsters to open to try them it would be best if he can try them against Ireland as they were the minnows to which he said no you will open against them. I hoped this would be the end of the differences between us but clearly I was wrong.After the meeting his behaviour turned worse. He would not even acknowledge me. To him I didn’t exist in the team. If I was around he would immediately move away from the scene, if I looked to wish him he would deliberately start looking in other direction. He continued to behave badly as I have already informed you yesterday. It appeared to me that for him the meeting had hurt his ego. In the game against Ireland also on a tough pitch I scored another match winning performance but unfortunately took a bump on my knee while fielding. The physio advised some rest and said to review it the next day. Because of all the stress I was running low grade fever also. We had no game the next day but there was a training session. The physio advised me to rest it out as there was slight swelling and because I had fever. In the evening after the team meeting before the Australia game, Ramesh rings up in my room and instructs me not to come to the ground as the media will be there. I was taken aback as to what media has to do with me being with the team. I was told I was not to be with my own team in one of our biggest games. I was shell shocked. I spoke to the manager immediately and told her that I am not seriously injured and only seriously sick andthat I want to come and watch my team play. She agreed and told me to come. But I received a text from Ramesh in a few minutes after my conversation with the manager wherein he told me not to step out of the dressing room. I found it strange why is he getting involved when it was purely the managers’ and physio’s call.when we won the Australia game Ramesh sent a word across with a team mate to call me down to the dugout so that I can join the team for a victory lap. It was strange because right through the match I had been put under house arrest and was never allowed to leave the dressing room.When we reached Antigua for the semi-finals, we had 3 days before we played England. The first day there was no nets, it was just a fielding session, but Ramesh was taking 5 girls for extra practise. When I heard this from one of the girls I thought that since I did not bat for 2 days, I should also join them for practice. So, I texted Ramesh that I would like to join for the extra training. However, I did not receive any response from him and hence I reached out to the manager. She got back to me saying Ramesh wants you to come with the whole team later and skip the game, so I can bat..I went into the nets and as soon I got into the nets, Ramesh just walked away from the area. The sign was clear that he had already made up his mind that he didn’t want to play me in the semis. The next day he paired me up with Deepti, second last pair in nets wherein I had to play part time bowlers and sometimes I just had 3 bowlers in the nets. It was not even middle order, it was lower middle order where I was batting, the kind of practice given to a player who is not in your scheme of things in a key match. All this made me believe that he didn’t want me in the team and will oust me despite performing. Coming to the semi finals, usually Ramesh announces the team a day before or on the day of the game before we enter the ground but it was unusual that on the day of the semis, he did not announce the team. It is when Harman walked to toss, he came running to me and said that they were going with the same team. It meant the whole team knew who were playing and it was just me who was not aware. Also, when the team was getting ready to field in the second innings, it is customary that even those who aren’t playing should join the team huddle as it has always been the norm in our team. But to insult me that day, he sent a word through the manager to tell that it was only the playing eleven that can join in the huddle and the rest can go back to dugout making us feel as outcasts. It was worrying and insulting because the coach was out to destroy and humiliate me.I couldn’t control my tears having given it my all for 20 years. It seemed my efforts had no value.After the Australia game, which we won, Ramesh sent a word across with a team mate to call me down to the dugout so that I can join the team for a victory lap. It was strange because right through the match I had been put under house arrest and was never allowed to leave the dressing room.In the light of the above, I as captain of India in ODI’s who has given her best for the country, do I have any hope left to be given justice. With Diana turning against me publicly and with the coach’s unjust behaviour ,I feel utterly dejected and depressed. As I was told not to go to the media I write this email to you as the last resort. Please advise against the next course of action.RegardsMithalilast_img

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