News Brief

14 Aug 2020

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Djokovic to play at US Open

BELGRADE: World number one Novak Djokovic will compete at the Aug 31-Sept 13 US Open and the Western & Southern Open curtain-raiser, the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles said in a statement on Thursday.

His decision will come as good news for the US Open organisers after several high-profile players, including former winners Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, pulled out over issues related to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

But it is also a U-turn from Djokovic after his June statements that competing at the 2020 US Open would be ‘impossible’ due to ‘extreme’ Covid-19 protocols for the tournament at Flushing Meadows.

“I am happy to confirm that I will participate at the Western & Southern Open and US Open this year,” the 33-year old Serb said. “It was not an easy decision to make with all the obstacles and challenges on so many sides, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited.

“I am aware that this time around it will be very different with all the protocols and safety measures that are put in place to protect players and the people of New York.” —Reuters

Ex-England spinner Marsh retires

LONDON: Off-spinner Laura Marsh, who helped England to Women’s World Cup titles in 2009 and 2017, has said she is retiring from all forms of cricket.

After bringing an end to her international career last December, the 33-year-old was due to feature in the inaugural Women’s Hundred this year but the competition was pushed back to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have made the decision to retire from all forms of cricket,” tweeted Marsh, who also helped England to the Women’s T20 World Cup title in 2009. “With the cancellation of The Hundred competition this year, I feel it is the right time to hang up the boots.

“I want to say a huge thank you to all the teams and organisations I have represented over the years.”

She made her debut as a pace bowler in 2006 before switching to spin, picking up 217 international wickets.

Marsh, who played in 103 One-day Internationals, made her debut for the Kent Women’s team in 2003 before moving to Sussex in 2011. She also played for the Surrey Stars and took part in Australia’s Big Bash League.—Agencies

Independence Day Cup off

KARACHI: Like always, the Karachi Race Club (KRC) won’t be able to organise Independence Day Cup this year as it has not released handicap for the meeting.

Independence Day Cup has been a regular event of the KRC for decades and celebrated with fervour.

Despite resumption of races at the Lahore Race Club following government’s announcement, the KRC is still reluctant to resume and waiting for further clarification.

It has been exactly five months now when the races were suspended after government clamp nation-wide lockdown in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic.

The KRC has so far suffered approximately Rs7.5 million loses.

According to sources, the races at KRC are likely resume after 10th Moharram in the first week of next month.—Anwar Zuberi

Pliskova, Mertens reach quarters

PRAGUE: Kristyna Pliskova upset second-seeded Petra Martic 6-1, 7-5 to advance to the quarter-finals of the Prague Open here on Wednesday.

Pliskova, ranked 69th, hit nine aces and 28 winners on the way to her first win over her 14th-ranked opponent. It’s the eighth clay-court quarter-final for the hard-serving Czech since she was runner-up in Prague in 2017.

Pliskova next faces Ana Bogdan, who advanced after Lesia Tsurenko withdrew.

Third-seeded Elise Mertens defeated Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-2 and will play either Tamara Zidansek or Eugenie Bouchard in the quarters.

In the last first-round match, Laura Siegemund knocked out Mayar Sherif 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.—AP

Three Pakistani athletes banned

LAHORE: The Nepal Olympic Committee, the organisers of last year’s South Asian Games, has announced the decision of banning three Pakistani athletes who were found positive in the dope tests.

Mehboob Ali, who won gold medal in 400m hurdles, 110m hurdles champion Mohammad Naeem and

100m bronze medallist Samiullah will be banned for four years.

Two athletes had challenged the first sample’s reports but the second also came positive, which left the organisers with no option but to announce the ban.

The Athletics Federation of Pakistan has so far made no comments on this development.—Sports Reporter

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020