Being scheduled to play last on Court One on ‘Manic Monday’ is something Novak Djokovic is getting rather used to – and also getting rather fed up with.
A year after his 2017 fourth round match was postponed by 24 hours into what is a designated ‘rest day’ for the men, he narrowly avoided suffering the same fate again.
With South African Kevin Anderson taking almost 3-1/2 hours to tame French showman Gael Monfils in a four-set thriller in the previous match, Djokovic was left with about two hours of daylight to complete his match against Karen Khachanov if wanted to avoid coming back on Tuesday again.
It was not until he walked off court after booking his place in the quarter-finals that he heard how close he had come to being bumped off Monday’s schedule. “Post-match I heard that the organisers were planning to cancel my match if Monfils and Anderson went to a fifth. Luckily for me it didn’t happen,” Djokovic said after he romped to a 6-4 6-2 6-2 win to reach the last eight for a 10th time.
“The last couple of games I couldn’t really see the ball very clearly, it was getting very dark… so I had to hang in there.” Djokovic was kept waiting in the wings till after 7pm local time before he could start swinging his racket against the Russian but there was no stopping the Serb once he got on court.
Although he was broken twice in the opening set, Djokovic was rattling through the games at supersonic speed. With the light fading fast, the 12th seed timed the conclusion to perfection, sealing victory at 8.50pm on his third match point after Khachanov dumped a tired backhand into the net to end a 20-stroke rally. But it was the organisers’ decision not to move his match to Centre Court, where the three scheduled singles matches had already finished long before Anderson and Monfils came off court, that irked Djokovic.
A year ago, officials refused to move Djokovic’s match with Adrian Mannarino on to Centre even though the court sat empty, while on Monday they opted to give priority to a mixed doubles encounter once Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal had all swiftly booked their quarter-final berths. Asked if he had expected to be switched to Centre, where matches can go on till 11pm underfloodlights, the three-times Wimbledon champion said: “Of course, it’s always an option.
“It’s what I wished for. Like last year, I received the information that they can’t reschedule my match on the other court because of the tickets that are presold. I guess there are other factors that play in.” Being made to play his fourth round and quarter-final matches on successive days cost Djokovic dear last July as he not only ended up retiring hurt from in his last-eight contest but also had to call time on his 2017 season.
UEFA probe Ronaldo for ‘improper conduct’ over goal celebration
London : UEFA opened an investigation into Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal celebration after scoring a hat-trick in Juventus’ Champions League comeback win against Atletico Madrid last week.
European football’s governing body said Ronaldo was facing charges of “improper conduct” after he mimicked Diego Simeone’s crotch-grabbing gesture in last Tuesday’s 3-0 win that sent Juventus through 3-2 on aggregate.
After scoring the decisive penalty four minutes from time, Ronaldo turned towards the Atletico fans and replicated Simeone’s gesture after the Spaniards’ 2-0 first leg win by grasping his genitals and thrusting out his groin.
A decision will be taken by UEFA on March 21.
Juventus take on Dutch club Ajax in the Champions League quarter-finals over two legs, on April 10 in Amsterdam and April 16 in Turin.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri has said he is confident Ronaldo will not be fined or suspended.
“I think everyone celebrated their own way on the field and in the stands.
I saw nothing strange, just a celebration. There won’t be a ban,” said Allegri.
Simeone was fined 20,000 euros ($22,000) by UEFA for his gesture.
“He will have seen how I did it at the Wanda Metropolitano and, like me, was trying to show his character,” said the Argentinian coach.
Five-time Champions League winner Ronaldo is the record goal scorer in the European competition with 124 goals in 160 matches.
Sachin echoes Virat Kohli’s workload views
New Delhi: There cannot be a uniform structure for workload management during the Indian Premier League as each and every player will have different set of requirements, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar said .
There have been a lot of discussions about how the World Cup-bound players need to effectively manage their workload during a demanding tournament like the IPL, and the maestro has his own take on it.
“Preparation before the World Cup is different for each player and so their workload management will also be different,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar agreed with skipper Virat Kohli who recently said that it is up to the players to realise the kind of load they are taking as well as the form they are in. “To me, momentum is important. Every individual should be smart enough to assess if he needs to take a break or he needs to play games to stay in the thick of things. So the responsibility is on the individual to take a call,” said the world’s highest run-getter in Tests and One-day Internationals.
He then gave an example of how workload management will be different for different players. “As a pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah’s workload will be very different from a pure batsman like Virat Kohli and a wicket-keeper batsman like Mahendra Singh Dhoni. All these players have a lot of experience and they will certainly make the right call,” said Tendulkar, who is a mentor with IPL’s most popular franchise Mumbai Indians.
Tendulkar echoed what Kohli had said a couple of days earlier during a media interaction in Bengaluru. “If I’m able to play 10, 12 or 15 games, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other guy can only play that many. My body might demand I play a certain number of games and I need to be smart about that and rest,” the Indian skipper had said.
“Someone else’s body might be more capable than mine or less, that is a very individual thing. And everyone wants to play the World Cup, so people will be smart about it because you don’t want to miss out on such a big event.”
Kohli had said that it is up to individual players to deal with the issue to keep their body fit and be in contention for a place in the World Cup-bound squad. “From a responsibility point of view, all the Indian players will have the responsibility during the IPL to keep a watch on their fitness and their workloads,” he said.
“And to continue the frame of mind we have created in the Indian team – strive towards excellence and improve every day. Each player will take this tournament as an opportunity to go to the World Cup in a good frame of mind,” he said.
Kerala Blasters sign Rahul KP
Mumbai : Kerala Blasters have wrapped up a deal to bring Indian Arrows forward Rahul Kannoly Praveen on board for the 2019-20 season, Goal has learnt.
The 19-year-old forward has become the fifth former India U-17 player to be roped in by Blasters after Dheeraj Singh, Mohammad Rakip, Nongdamba Naorem and Jeakson Singh.
Thrissur-born Rahul featured for Luis Norton de Matos’ Indian team in the U-17 World Cup held in India. He continued his development with AIFF’s Indian Arrows in the I-League and impressed in patches last season, scoring two goals in 17 appearances.
He has stepped up his game at Arrows this season under Floyd Pinto and contributed greatly to the team’s eighth-placed finish under the Indian head coach. He has three goals to his name this season.
Blessed with pace and dazzling feet, Rahul is good at taking on his opponent from wide areas and also has an eye for a pass. He was impressive against Gokulam Kerala and scored a terrific volley in the I-League match at Kozhikode earlier this season. He also featured in the Super Cup qualifier against Kerala Blasters as Indian Arrows won 2-0.
In what seems like a much-needed move after a disapponting season in the ISL, Kerala Blasters, under the new leadership of CEO Viren D’Silva, are off to a good start off the field and have added a promising local talent to the squad.