sports world

The sports wrap: PV Sindhu breaks into the top-5 of badminton world rankings, and other top stories

Manchester United beat Saint-Etienne after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick, top seed Angelique Keber crashed out of the Qatar Open.

The big news: Sindhu on the rise

Shuttler PV Sindhu became the second Indian woman to break into the top-five of the badminton singles world rankings. The Olympic silver medalist, who broke into the top-10 in 2013, achieved her career-best ranking of No. 5 on Thursday. Former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal is only other Indian woman to achieve such a feat. Sindhu, who started 2016 at No. 12, finished the year at No. 6 owing to her stellar show at the Rio Olympics and for clinching the China Open Super Series Premier in November.

Sindhu was delighted and said the No. 1 rank remains her goal. “I’m really very happy for achieving a career high rank of No. 5,” Sindhu said. “When I started playing in 2016 I never thought I would break into top-five within a year. This is quite unexpected,” she added. Her next target is to be world No. 3 by the end of 2017.

“I want to do well and win tournaments. I want to be No. 3 by the end of the year. But to achieve that I need to work really hard. Hopefully, I will give my best,” said Sindhu, who started 2017 by winning the Premier Badminton League title and the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. Meanwhile, Nehwal remained static at No. 9, while Ajay Jayaram is the top-ranked Indian in men’s singles at No. 18.

Football:

  • Edin Dzeko smashed a hat-trick for Roma as they beat Villareal 4-0 in their first-leg encounter in the round-of-32 of the Europa League. The former Manchester City striker scored three in the last 25 minutes to take his European total to eight goals.
  • Southampton have signed former Juventus and Barcelona defender Martin Caceres until the end of the season. Caceres, who is a free agent and has 68 caps for Uruguay, left Serie A giants Juventus in the summer.       
  • According to Mesut Ozil’s agent, the forward is being made the scapegoat for Arsenal’s problems. Ozil was criticised again after Arsenal suffered a 5-1 defeat at Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.
  • Tottenham were handed a surprise 1-0 loss by Belgian side Gent in their Europa league encounter. French striker Perbet scored the only goal of the match in the 59th minute. The second leg of the encounter will take place at Wembley on February 23.  
  • Mark Clattenburg is quitting his job as a Premier League match official to become Saudi Arabia’s new head of referees. Clattenburg is widely regarded as one of the best referees in football and took charge of the Euro 2016 final, the Champions League final and the FA Cup final last season.
  • Manchester United continued their amazing run as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick in their 3-0 win against Saint-Etienne in the first leg of the round-of-32 clash in the Europa league. The two sides meet for the second leg in St Etienne on February 22.
  • India coach Stephen Constantine has been asked to take temporary charge of the Under-17 squad and help them prepare for the World Cup, reported Hindustan Times

Tennis:

  • Top seed Angelique Kerber crashed out of the Qatar Open after she was beaten by Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. Kasatkina will face Monica Puig in the quarter-finals.
  • Top seed Marin Cilic reached his first quarter-final of 2017 after he beat compatriot Borna Coric 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 at the Rotterdam Open.
  • Netherlands’ Jean-Julien Rojer recorded his 300th doubles career win by partnering Horia Tecau to a 6-4, 6-4 victory at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament over second-seeded Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez.      
  • Top seed Ivo Karlovic was stunned by Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(2), 6-3 of the Memphis Open. With the win, Basilashvili reached the quarter-finals of the tournament. 
  • Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov put up a solid performance at the Argentina Open after he beat second seed Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6(4) to reach the quarters.
  • Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Barbora Strycova beat USA’s Raquel Atawo and China’s Yifan Xu to enter the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open. The Mirza-Strycova duo beat their opponents 6-2, 6-4.

Cricket:

  • India U-19 managed to earn a hard-fought draw against England U-19 in the first Youth Test in Nagpur on Thursday.
  • Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif has been appointed the assistant coach of Indian Premier League side Gujarat Lions for the upcoming Indian Premier League season. 

Boxing:

  • India’s Vijender Singh will be gunning for a second title when he faces WBO Oriental middleweight champion Zulpikar Maimaitiali of China in Mumbai on April 1. 
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