The Independent

Sport news in brief


Raducanu battles past Maia

Emma Raducanu advanced to the last 16 of Indian Wells for the first time last night as she battled her way to a 6-1 2-6 6-4 win over 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia. Raducanu, who has overcome a wrist injury and illness, had to dig deep in a contest lasting more than two hours before claiming a win which ranks as her best since her 2021 US Open triumph. Raducanu’s serve was in full flow as she cruised through the opening set inside 34 minutes, but it deserted her in the second, the Briton double faulting four times as Haddad Maia turned the tide and

Raducanu lost her first set of the tournament. The world number 77 saved a break point to hold for 2-2 in the decider before going on to break the Brazilian for a 4-3 lead. She set up two further break points, but Haddad Maia made her serve it out, which she duly did. Raducanu will play either world number one Iga Swiatek or Bianca Andreescu in the next round.

World Test Championsh­ip finalists confirmed

India will take on Australia in this summer’s World Test Championsh­ip final at the Kia Oval after Sri Lanka fell out of the reckoning in dramatic fashion. Sri Lanka, led by former England head coach Chris Silverwood, needed a 2-0 series win over New Zealand to maintain their push but lost a nerve-shredding first Test in Christchur­ch off the final delivery of the match.

A scrambled bye, completed by Kane Williamson just before the stumps were thrown down, settled the result in the Black Caps’ favour and ended Sri Lanka’s underdog push to finish second in the WTC table.

The best they can now hope for is a points percentage of 56, with India guaranteed a minimum of 57. India finished as runners-up in the inaugural WTC final at the Ageas Bowl in 2021, defeated by New Zealand.

Australia had already secured their spot in the final, which will run from 7-11 June. The Kiwis have endured a poor run in the tournament’s second iteration, sitting second-bottom in eighth place with a points percentage of 33.33. England, who have played the most games in the two-year qualifying period with 22, lie fifth on 46.97. PA

‘Belly tackles’ on way to improve rugby safety

World Rugby is encouragin­g its member unions to trial “belly tackles” in the community game in a bid to make the sport safer. The global governing body’s executive board has recommende­d, subject to World Rugby Council approval, that national unions consult over lowering the tackle height at non-elite level in a bid

to reduce concussion­s caused by head-on-head contact between a tackler and the ball carrier.

World Rugby’s recommenda­tion is that the height be set below the sternum, which it also refers to as a “belly tackle”. The World Rugby Council will not meet to consider this proposal for approval until May, but World Rugby is making this announceme­nt to enable unions to engage in full consultati­on ahead of their new seasons.

The trials will be opt-in – unions do not have to take part, but almost all are understood to be seriously considerin­g World Rugby’s recommenda­tion. World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin said his organisati­on was also hoping to conduct a lowered tackle height trial in the elite game and would not rule out law changes in the future that would lower tackle height at the top level.

“The clear mounting evidence is that doing nothing is simply not an option,” Gilpin said. “Specifical­ly in the community game, head-on-head contact is something we need to reduce. We have to view these proposals as an opportunit­y to grow the sport at community level in tandem with reducing player risk.” There has been a mixed response globally to initiative­s aimed at lowering tackle height. PA

Tour de France 2024 to ditch Paris fifinale

The 2024 Tour de France will finish with a mountain stage from Nice to Col de la Couillole followed by a time trial between Monaco and the historic Place Massena in Nice, event organisers said yesterday.

The final stage of the Tour, which will start in Italy for the first time, is traditiona­lly held on the Champs Elysees in Paris but has been moved to Nice with the French capital hosting the Olympic Games next year.

“For the Tour de France to finish far from its traditiona­l Parisian finale is already a historic first,” organisers said in a statement. “But for the last two days of the 2024 edition, an extremely

promising menu has been prepared, including all the necessary ingredient­s for major upsets at the top... on the Saturday as well as on the Sunday.”

The penultimat­e stage will be a tough 132km ride while the 21st stage is a challengin­g 35km time trial with climbs on La Turbie and Col d’Eze as organisers look to make competitio­n for the yellow jersey tougher. The Tour will start on 29 June, with the opening stage from Florence to Rimini on the Adriatic coast.

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 ?? (Getty) ?? Emma Raducanu has to dig deep last night to make it through to the last 16 in Indian Wells
(Getty) Emma Raducanu has to dig deep last night to make it through to the last 16 in Indian Wells
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