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GLITZ AND GROUND STROKES: Maria Sharapova became the first Russian to reach the top of the woman's tennis hierarchy

Maria Sharapova: A russian fairytale

Eighteen-year-old Maria Sharapova has done what no Russian athlete managed to achieve: she has led the WTA ratings and become the first in the world, having been the best in the last 52 weeks of WTA tours. Sharapova has become the 15th tennis player to reach the top WTA ratings during the 30 years of their existence. Masha's incredibly strong character revealed itself very early. It was Martina Navratilova who discovered talent in the 6-year-old girl and convinced her father, Yury Sharapov, to send the girl to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. She was mastering tennis techniques in a foreign country, the US, practically without parents. But she was prepared to overcome any ordeal and tolerate the austere conditions of her academy. At 15, Sharapova reached the junior tour finals at the Australia Open and Wimbledon, where her rivals were two or three years her senior. She even won her first three tournaments of the ITF series. Many hastened to call her a "second Kournikova". But Maria proved very fast that tennis ranked first among her priorities, whereas fashion and business came next, as distinct from Kournikova, never won a single championship.

Sachin will quickly recover on return: Mahanama

Sachin Tendulkar will just need to spend some time at the crease to rediscover his touch when he returns after an elbow injury, says former Sri Lanka batsman Roshan Mahanama. “Someone like Sachin who has accumulated 23,000 runs (in Tests and one-day internationals) should have enough experience and confidence to go through situations like this,” Mahanama told IANS in an interview. Now an International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee, Mahanama felt that 15 years of international experience would help Tendulkar adapt more easily than others when he stages his comeback.

The 39-year-old said Tendulkar might be a little rusty initially because there was nothing like time spent in the middle. “So, what he would require is some time in the middle. But he will come out of situations like that quicker than someone else.” Tendulkar, 32, was ruled out of the game for at least 14 weeks following a surgery on his left elbow in May. He has been provisionally picked in the Test squad to play Zimbabwe. The former stylish Sri Lankan batsman felt it was up to Tendulkar to decide on the weight of his bat a subject of a passionately raging debate in India. “It is his preference, really. Critics can say that he should bring down (the weight) or whatever, but then he can turn around and say ‘when I was scoring runs I was used a heavy one’. So, he would know the best,” said Mahanama.


BLOCKING OUT BRAZIL: Russian colts beat Brazil in the World Youth Volleyball Championship

Pakistan wants it share

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Shaharyar Khan may visit India to recover his country’s share of $3.7 million from the joint organising committee of the 1996 World Cup hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. “I might have to fly down to India for a day or two later this month to meet the officials concerned and sort out this issue as the money involved is large for us,” Khan was quoted as saying by The News Wednesday. Following the Indian government’s decision to waiver taxes for major tournaments recently, Khan took up the issue with the Indian cricket board to resolve the long-standing issue.

LACKING APPEAL: Despite Virender Sehwag's pyrotechnics and Irfan Pathan's fire, India couldn't beat the determined Sri Lankans in the Indian Oil Tri-nation one-day international series

cricket calendar

Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore will host the one-day internationals against South Africa in November, soon after Sri Lanka finishes its one-day series in India. According to Indian cricket board sources, the first part of the split tour by Sri Lanka will be played between Oct 25 and Nov 12. The team would return to play the three Tests even before the South African side leaves the country.

India’s other engagements in the 2005-06 season involves the tour to Pakistan for a Test and ODI series besides the Asia Cup, a home series against England immediately after the Asia Cup and a tour of the West Indies, comprising five Tests and seven ODIs, the source said. The five one-day internationals against South Africa will be played at Mumbai (Nov 17), New Delhi (Nov 20), Kolkata (Nov 23), Chennai (Nov 26) and Bangalore (Nov 29).

The dates of the home series against England have also been finalised, but the venues are yet to be chosen as the BCCI is still in talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board over the issue.


September 2005

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