Thiem beats Mur­ray to make Barcelona fi­nal

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - WORLD - Agen­cies

Do­minic Thiem claimed his first win over world num­ber one Andy Mur­ray to book his place in the fi­nal of the Barcelona Open on Sat­ur­day 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.

The Aus­trian will face Rafael Nadal, who moved to within one win of a 10th Barcelona ti­tle when he swept past Ar­gentina’s Ho­ra­cio Ze­bal­los 6-3, 6-4 in the semi­fi­nals of the clay court event.

Mur­ray squeezed past Al­bert Ramos-vi­no­las in a three-hour en­counter on Fri­day and looked flat-footed as Thiem roared through the open­ing set with three breaks of serve in just over half an hour. The Scot had to stave off another break point in a marathon open­ing game to the sec­ond set. But he held on and then jumped at his chance to take the match to a de­cider.

Mur­ray, though, still looks a pale shadow of the player that rose to num­ber one on a spec­tac­u­lar run at the end of last year as he strug­gles for form and fit­ness after an el­bow in­jury.

Thiem had to bat­tle back from a break down in the third, but broke Mur­ray another three times in the de­cider to win.


For­mer world num­ber one Maria Shara­pova crashed out of Stuttgart Grand Prix semi­fi­nal in her first event back after a 15-month dop­ing sus­pen­sion, los­ing to France’s Kristina Mlade­n­ovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 on Sat­ur­day.

Wild­card en­trant Shara­pova, a five-time grand-slam win­ner, squan­dered a 6-3, 2-0 lead as Mlade­n­ovic clawed her way back into the game to win after two

Shara­pova had not lost a set in the pre­vi­ous three matches of her come­back this week. Her de­feat means she will fin­ish out­side the top 200 when the rank­ings are re­leased on Mon­day rul­ing out French Open.

Shara­pova, who was banned for us­ing mel­do­nium after test­ing pos­i­tive at the 2016 Aus­tralian Open, has also re­ceived wild­cards for forth­com­ing tourna


Aus­tralia’s Nick Kyr­gios with­drew from the Es­to­ril clay­court tour­na­ment on Fri­day fol­low­ing the death of his grand­fa­ther, the world num­ber 16 an­nounced on Twit­ter.

Kyr­gios, who was due to be top seed at the Por­tuguese event start­ing on Mon­day, said he was head­ing home to at­tend the fu­neral of his grand­fa­ther Chris­tos Kyr­gios who lost his bat­tle against can­cer.

“I have un­for­tu­nately with­drawn from the Es­to­ril Open to go back to Aus­tralia and at­tend my grand­fa­ther’s fu­neral,” said the con­tro­ver­sial 22-year-old Aus­tralian star.

“The de­ci­sion was a hard one but my fam­ily is very im­por­tant to me and I feel the need to be around my loved ones at this time as well as pay my re­spects to my

One front-run­ner Se­bas­tian Vet­tel stunned Mercedes to take Fer­rari’s first pole po­si­tion since 2015 on Sat­ur­day with team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen com­plet­ing a front row lock­out at the Rus­sian Grand Prix.

The pole, Vet­tel’s 47th, ended a run of 18 in a row for once-dom­i­nant world cham­pi­ons Mercedes, who had Valt­teri Bot­tas and Lewis Hamil­ton right be­hind the two red cars in third and fourth places. The German, a four-time world cham­pion with Red Bull, has won two of the first three races and leads triple cham­pion Hamil­ton by seven points in the cham­pi­onship.

As a mea­sure of Fer­rari’s achieve­ment in break­ing the Mercedes stran­gle­hold and re­turn­ing to form, the pole was only the Ital­ian team’s sixth since 2008. It was also Fer­rari’s first front row sweep since Brazilian Felipe Massa, now with Wil­liams, and Raikko­nen qual­i­fied first and sec­ond at the French Grand Prix — a race no longer on the cal­en­dar in June 2008 thumb back to the 2015 Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix, 31 races ago, to find the last time Mercedes had no car on the front row.

“The first run was not re­ally tidy, so I left it to the end, and I im­proved some­time in the last sec­tor,” said Vet­tel, who had to wait be­fore con­fir­ma­tion came over the ra­dio that Mercedes were beaten.

“I im­me­di­ately opened the ra­dio ‘tell me about the oth­ers, tell me about the oth­ers!’,” he said. “When I got the mes­sage we got it I was over the moon. The car was phe­nom­e­nal this af­ter­noon.”

Bot­tas was fastest in the first two phases, with the choice of tyres com­ing into play, and those who had sus­pected the cham­pi­ons were hid­ing their pace in


Madrid’s Anti-dop­ing Lab­o­ra­tory was re­in­stated by the World Anti-dop­ing Agency (WADA) on Fri­day, more than a year after it was sus­pended. The sus­pen­sion, which fol­lowed WADA’S dec­la­ra­tion last March that the Span­ish Anti-dop­ing Agency (AEPSAD) was non-com pli­ant, pro­hib­ited the lab from car­ry­ing out any Wada-re­lated anti-dop­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

AEPSAD, which had missed a dead­line for re­quired changes to its drug-test­ing pro­ce­dures, was re­moved from the non-com­pli­ant list early last month and an in­spec­tion of the Madrid lab fol


France's Kristina Mlade­n­ovic sent Maria Shara­pova pack­ing.

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