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Saturday,08-May-2021

International

Novak Djokovic falls, Nadal beats Dimitrov at Monte Carlo Masters

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Novak Djokovic admitted he played an “awful” match against Dan Evans at the Monte Carlo Masters as Rafael Nadal advanced with ease to the quarter-finals.

World number one Djokovic, playing in his first tournament since winning a ninth Australian Open in February, suffered his first defeat of 2021 on Thursday, DPA reported.

Evans, who had never before reached the last eight of a Masters 1000 tournament, won 6-4 7-5 with a performance that belied his relative lack of success on clay.

The 30-year-old Briton will now meet David Goffin, who surprised fifth seed Alexander Zverev 6-4 7-6 (9-7).

“To be honest, this has been probably one of the worst matches and performances from my side I can recall in the last years,” said Djokovic. “I don’t want to take anything away from his win, but from my side, I just felt awful on the court overall. Just nothing worked. It’s one of those days.”

Saying he felt “completely the opposite” to Wednesday’s win over Jannik Sinner, Djokovic added: “Just was obviously very, very windy, tough to play in these kinds of conditions against a guy like Evans who makes you move. He’s very unpredictable with his shots. He dismantled my game.”

Eleven-time Monte Carlo champion Nadal had no such problems in his match as he dismissed Grigor Dimitrov 6-1 6-1 in 55 minutes.

Nadal, who boasts a 14-1 career record against the Bulgarian, did not face a break point in either set against his off-colour opponent.

Dimitrov started the match with three double faults in his opening service game and was 4-0 down in each set.

“(I am) sorry for him. He played a bad match. That is the truth,” said Spaniard Nadal. “He made a lot of mistakes. I was there. I was doing the right thing, but it is true that today was more his fault than my good tennis.”

Nadal will face Andrey Rublev after the Russian battled past Roberto Bautista-Agut 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-3.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Cristian Garin 6-3 6-4, will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina next, while Fabio Fognini’s straight-sets win over Filip Krajinovic set up a meeting with Casper Ruud.

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Kane Williamson & Co move to Maldives after entry in England delayed

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New Zealand Test players Kane Williamson, Mitchell Santner and Kyle Jamieson, who were playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), have opted to spend extra days in Maldives instead of India after their entry in England was delayed by a week.

The three have flown to Maldives from where they will travel to England after about 10 days. They were supposed to fly to England from New Delhi on May 11 according to initial plans after the postponement of IPL.

“There have been changes to the arrangements for New Zealand’s UK-bound Test contingent, with Kane Williamson, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, and physio Tommy Simsek, transferring to the Maldives (rather than staying in New Delhi) ahead of travelling to England,” said a statement from New Zealand Cricket.

“The decision for this group to transfer to the Maldives was taken after advice that their entry into the UK, initially thought to be about May 11, was likely to be delayed a further week,” the statement added.

Williamson, Santner and Jamieson are part of New Zealand’s Test squad that will play two Test matches against England — between June 2 and 14 as well as the World Test Championship final against India from June 18.

“Blackcaps (New Zealand team) trainer Chris Donaldson, who initially signalled his intention to return home on one of the NZ-bound charter flights before returning to England, has instead opted to remain with the UK-bound players and is also in the Maldives,” the statement further said.

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Play IPL in England in September as top players will be there: Kevin Pietersen

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The availability of players from world’s top two T20 Internationals teams — England and India — should prompt the Indian cricket board (BCCI) to host the remainder of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in England in September, said former England captain Kevin Pietersen.

The IPL was postponed indefinitely last week, after just 29 matches, as Covid-19 cases emerged in the bio-bubble.

The BCCI, which was left red-faced, is mulling over a window and venues to complete the tournament which still has 31 matches left.
Pietersen said that the matches should be held immediately after the India-England series in September.

“I have seen people talking about the UAE as a possible destination to finish the IPL in September but I actually think that the IPL should move to the UK,” said Pietersen in his blog on betway.com.

“There is a window in September after the England v India Test series has finished. All the best Indian players would already be there and all of the best English players would be available as well,” added the South African-born English player who was commentating at the IPL.

“Mid-to-late September is the most beautiful time in the UK. They could use Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and the two London grounds… There is also a good chance that crowds will be allowed in the grounds and there will be great atmospheres,” he further added.

“I have played internationals against India – one in particular in a World T20 against India at Lord’s – when it has felt like an away game because of how well Indian cricket is supported in the UK.”

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Mike Hussey and Balaji air-lifted to Chennai, put in isolation

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Mike Hussey and Lakshmipathy Balaji, the Covid-19 affected members of Chennai Super Kings’ coaching staff, have been flown to Chennai from Delhi in an air ambulance by their franchise and kept in isolation at a hotel in the city.

An official on Thursday told IANS, “They have been flown to Chennai in an air ambulance and have been kept at the Taj Club House in isolation.”

Both Hussey and Balaji had tested positive and were left behind as the rest of the team members, who reported negative tests, flew to Chennai soon after the Indian Premier League (IPL) was suspended on Tuesday.

While Balaji will then leave for home, Hussey will most probably be flown on a chartered plane to Maldives and stay there for a while before departing to Australia.

All of Hussey’s fellow Australians, who were part of the Indian Premier League — players, members of the coaching staff, commentators and other support staff — left for Maldives on Thursday morning.

They will do a two-week long quarantine before leaving for Australia.

The Australian government has banned flights from India till May 15.

After three Aussie players — Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye — had left for Australia earlier during the tournament after getting an inkling that the government would ban flights, commentator Michael Slater and umpire Paul Reiffel tried to leave but couldn’t since the ban was already underway.

Slater later escaped to the Maldives where the rest of the Aussies joined him.

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