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Djokovic barrels into Shanghai third round

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SHANGHAI: Novak Djokovic, the hottest player on the men’s tour in the second half of the year, stepped up his bid to dethrone Rafael Nadal from the top of the world rankings with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the second round of the Shanghai Masters.
The 31-year-old Serb was playing his first match on the ATP tour since lifting his 14th Grand Slam title at the US Open last month and looked in complete control as he won 34 of 40 points on his first-serve to book a place in the last 16.
Djokovic, who received a first-round bye, could pass Roger Federer at number two in world rankings if he reaches Sunday’s final. Nadal’s lead at the top will be trimmed as he is skipping the Asian swing to recover from a knee injury.
The Serb’s victory improved his perfect record against the 41st-ranked Chardy to 12-0 in matches played, and 28-0 in sets won, and will play either Italy’s Marco Cecchinato or South Korea’s Chung Hyeon next.
Fifth-seeded Marin Cilic became the highest seed toppled in Shanghai when 48th-ranked Nicolas Jarry of Chile rebounded for a 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 second-round win.
Cilic served for the match at 5-4 in the third set but couldn’t. Jarry won the next two games to advance to the third round.
World number seven Dominic Thiem’s bid to qualify for the next month’s ATP World Tour Finals suffered a blow as the sixth seed was edged out 6-4, 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (7-4) by Australian Matthew Ebden.
Thiem, who also received a first-round bye, struggled to find his rhythm in a tightly contested encounter which lasted two hours and 45 minutes.
A couple of champions from last weekend also progressed.
Nikoloz Basilashvili, who downed Juan Martin del Potro for the China Open title on Sunday, won his sixth straight match after beating Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-2, 6-2 in just under an hour to open his Shanghai account.
Up to a career-high ranking of 23, Basilashvili never faced a break point on his serve. The 26-year-old Georgian earned his first win in Shanghai after qualifying in 2015 and 2017 and will meet fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the second round.
Daniil Medvedev, who upset Kei Nishikori to win the Japan Open on Sunday, struggled but beat Chinese wild card Zhang Ze 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.
Briton Kyle Edmund, who moved to a career-high ranking of 14 this week, continued his impressive run in Asia with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic. Also, French qualifier Benoit Paire upset 15th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4.


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I am the greatest player in the world: Gayle after announcing retirement

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Dubai: West Indies swashbuckling batsman Chris Gayle, who recently announced that he would bid adieu to one-day internationals after the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, has described himself as the “greatest player in the world”.

When quizzed if he is satisfied with his career, the 29-year-old said that he is a great man and that he would take the tag of the “Universe Boss” to his grave.

“You’re looking at a great man.I’m the greatest player in the world. Of course I’m still the Universe Boss. That will never change. I’ll take that to the grave,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Gayle as saying.

 

Looking forward to a fairy-tale swansong by winning the May 30 to July 14 showpiece event, the 39-year-old said that it is time to give opportunities to youngsters to come forward and show their talent.

“Yes, I’m looking to draw the line after the World Cup. Or should I say cut the string? Definitely, in 50-over cricket, the World Cup is the end for me. I’ll let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them have some fun,” Gayle said.

“Winning the World Cup would be a fairy-tale finish. The youngsters owe it to me to win. They have to do that for me and try and get me the trophy. I’ll be looking to put my input in as well,” he added.

However, it will not be an end of the international career for Gayle as he has not ruled out playing for West Indies in the ICC World T20 in Australia in late 2020, when he will be 41-year-old.

While stressing that his body is feeling good at the moment, Gayle further hoped to feature in England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) inaugural 100-ball competition in 2020.

“If I don’t start it, it won’t be a tournament. I guess England should invite me over. Then I’ll explode the tournament and say ‘thank you guys; bring in a youngster now.’ I’ll set the trend like I did in all tournaments around the world,” the Caribbean star said.

“I’m in good condition. The body is feeling good and I’m pleased with that. I’ve lost a bit of weight and I don’t want to get too big. I’m still working on my six pack. I’m trying to keep up with the youngsters in the field who are like cats the way they chase the ball. I still have it in me and I’m still enjoying it,”he continued.

Gayle, who made his debut in 1999 during an ODI series against Bangladesh, has appeared in a total of 284 matches in the 50-over format and scored 9,727 runs, including 29 centuries and 49 fifties. He also notched 1,607 runs in 56 T20Is and 7,215 runs in 103 Tests he played for West Indies.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean batsman is just 273 runs short of becoming the 14th man and second West Indies player to smash 10,000 ODI runs.

The part-time off-spinner, who has a total of 255 scalps to his name in the three formats, will look to reach the 10,000-run mark when he will lock horns with England in the five-match ODI series beginning February 20 in Barbados.

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Covering of Imran Khan Pictures in India ‘Regrettable’, Says PCB

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Islamabad:The Pakistan Cricket Board has said it will take up with the BCCI the “regrettable” removal of pictures of its former players at venues in India after the Pulwama attack.

PCB’s Managing Director Wasim Khan, in a statement issued , 17 February, said the issue will be raised during an ICC meeting scheduled to held in Dubai next month.

This comes after the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai covered a portrait of former Pakistan captain and present prime minister Imran Khan, as a sign of protesting against the ghastly attack , 14 February, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans.

 

“… covering or removing portrait of former Pakistan cricket captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan and other legendary cricketers from one of the most historic cricket clubs and venues are highly regrettable actions.”

In addition to CCI’s move, the Punjab Cricket Association too removed photographs of Pakistani cricketers from various points inside the PCA Stadium in Mohali.

Elsewhere, IMG Reliance announced its withdrawal as the official production partner for the Pakistan Super League to protest against the Pulwama attack.

“… we have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate. History tells us that sports, particularly cricket, have always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries.”

Reacting to IMG Reliance’s pull-out as broadcasters of PSL 2019, Wasim said: “We have been informed by IMG Reliance that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights. The PCB always had a contingency plan in place.”

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Messi the only player in the world who can win a game on his own : Anderson

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London: Former Barcelona striker Sonny Anderson says Lionel Messi can win any game on his own, but he understands why coach Ernesto Valverde has left him out of his team this season.

The Spanish champions are preparing to face another of Anderson’s former sides Lyon in the Champions League.

Messi has been left out of Valverde’s team on a number of occasions this term, most significantly for the Copa del Rey semi-final draw against Real Madrid earlier in February.

 

And ahead of Champions League last-16 first leg, Anderson was sympathetic with Valverde’s need to rotate his star man in order to get the best out of him.

In an exclusive interview with Goal, the Brazilian said: “Messi is one hundred per cent capable of winning any game on his own and at any moment he wants, and that is why he [Valverde] takes care of him at Barcelona.

“He wants him to be at his best. Barcelona will suffer a lot when he is not there, so I see very well that they take care of him.

“I fully understand that he was not in the starting line against Real Madrid, and that the team has the quality to play some games without Messi.

“But as a rule he [Valverde] has to try to get the most out of him because he is the only player in the world capable of deciding a game on his own.”

Barca go into the tie against the Ligue 1 outfit as favourites to progress, but to do so they will have to find a way past a team that has already got the better of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain this season.

Lyon edged through to the last-16 after finishing second behind City in the group stage, and needed a hard-fought draw against Shakhtar Donetsk on the final matchday to ensure progression.

“The Lyon game is more difficult than it seems,” said Anderson. “Already against Manchester City and PSG, they have made good duels this season. It is a team that usually improves when playing against the strongest in Europe.

“I think with or without Messi, it will be very difficult for them. Lyon can get a good result at home but at Camp Nou it will be very difficult for them to do what Messi does.”

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