Rome, May 19 (AP/UNB) — After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Rafael Nadal looked more like his old, dominant self when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Italian Open final on Saturday.
It was a measure of revenge for Nadal after losing to Tsitsipas in three sets at this stage in Madrid last week. This victory should also restore Nadal's confidence as he seeks a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.
"The main thing is I am playing better. If I play better, I know I'm going to have chances to be in finals and to win semifinal matches," Nadal said. "If you are not playing well, (beating) the best players of the world is much more difficult. ... I have margin to keep improving. But I am doing the right steps to be there."
In Sunday's final, Nadal will resume his rivalry with top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who faced an unusually high number of drop shots from Diego Schwartzman before winning 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3.
Djokovic also required three sets to eliminate Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals, meaning he has been on court for more than 5 ½ hours over the last two days.
It will be the 54th career meeting between Djokovic and Nadal, with Djokovic leading the series 28-25. The pair has split the four Italian Open finals they've played. They last met in the Australian Open final won by Djokovic in straight sets.
"He's my greatest rival of all time," Djokovic said. "Every time we get to play each other it's a thrill. It's the ultimate challenge."
Nadal is aiming for a record-extending ninth trophy in Rome while Djokovic is seeking his fifth title at the Foro Italico.
Nadal is in the middle of his longest title drought to begin a season since he came onto the scene in 2004. His last trophy came last August in Toronto.
The crowd attempted to encourage Tsitsipas with chants of "Tsi-Tsi-Tsi, Pas-Pas-Pas" but the 20-year-old Greek player couldn't keep up with Nadal on the long rallies — even though he didn't play a day earlier after Roger Federer withdrew injured from their quarterfinal.
Conditions were much slower than on the high-altitude court in Madrid, which favored Nadal and made it tougher for Tsitsipas to execute his attacking game.
"The shots that I played today, I played similar shots last week," Tsitsipas said. "Today those shots felt really slow and he had plenty of time to pass me when I was approaching to the net. .. The court speed was the difference."
Midway through the first set, Nadal produced a blistering forehand winner up the line on the run, drawing a loud roar from the packed Campo Centrale crowd.
Nadal broke Tsitsipas' serve early in both sets.
In the women's tournament, Johanna Konta rallied past sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in nearly three hours to reach the biggest clay-court final of her career.
Karolina Pliskova beat Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari in the other semifinal, 6-4, 6-4.
Pliskova didn't immediately realize she won because she lost track of the score.
"I thought it was 4-3," she said. "I felt bad about it."
Pliskova is having a solid year, having reached the Australian Open semifinals and the Miami Open final after opening the season with a title in Brisbane, Australia. The Czech player recently announced she promoted four-time Italian Open champion Conchita Martinez as her head coach.
Konta's only previous final on clay came recently in Rabat, Morocco, where she lost to Sakkari.
"I've never really doubted my ability on the surface," Konta said. "I won a lot of my first junior titles, first professional titles on clay. I've always felt that I have a game that has the ability to do well on this surface."
Dhaka, May 18 (UNB) – Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) is looking for a new coach for their Indoor Hockey team.
Bangladesh team will take part in the Indoor Hockey Asia Cup’2019 for the first time scheduled to be held in Thailand on July 15-21.
Bangladesh team will fly for Thailand on July 1 to join a 15-day preparation camp there ahead of the tournament.
Senior Vice-president of Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) Abdur Rashid Shikdar on Saturday said the federation is looking for a new and skilled coach for the indoor hockey team.
“We’re looking for a new and skilled coach for our team [indoor hockey]. I hope we can manage a coach within a week,” he said.
The BAF vice-president said a 15-member team, including 12 players and three officials, will fly for Thailand on July 1. “We don’t have enough training facilities here. So, we’ve decided to send the team there for a 15-day preparation camp ahead of the tournament and a 15-member indoor hockey team will fly for Thailand on July 1,” he added.
Earlier, Rashid Shikdar met Thailand Hockey Federation president Chaiyapak Siriwat in Bangkok on May 16.
The Thailand Hockey Federation President assured Bangladesh Hockey Federation for all kinds of cooperation, including accommodation, transports and other facilities there.
BHF General Secretary AKM Mominul Haque Sayed also met AHF Chief Executive Dato Tayyab Ikram Kuala Lumpur on May 16.
They discussed eight-point agenda for the development of Hockey in Bangladesh.
The BHF general secretary also expressed his keen interest to host two hockey tournaments in Dhaka, including the Champions Trophy and Junior Hockey World Cup.
Rashid Shikdar said AHF Chief Executive Dato Tayyab Ikram welcomed their proposals and assured them of extending their helping hand for the promotion of indoor and outdoor hockey in Bangladesh. “He [Dato Tayyab Ikram] assured us of high-performance training camps and other technical supports.”
Meanwhile, BHF will sign an MoU with the Asian Hockey Federation for the promotion of indoor and outdoor hockey in Bangladesh giving special focus on hockey in rural areas.
Dhaka, May 18 (UNB)- Bangladesh Archery team will compete in the upcoming World Archery Championship 2019 and OG QT World Ranking Event, scheduled to be held in Netherlands on June 10-16.
Archery Media Committee Convener Rafiqul Islam Tipu said Saturday that the team members are expected to fly on June 5 or 6.
He said that around 10 archers are participating in a training session at the Archery Training Centre at Shaheed Ahsanullah Master Stadium in Tongi under the supervision of head Coach Martin Frederick.
“We’ll disclose the squad and other details at a press conference on May 30,” Tipu said.
The 50th edition of World Archery Championships, a biennial event, will be held in s-Hertogenbosch in Netherlands.
The competition will be considered as the primary qualification tournament for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Earlier, Bangladesh took part in stage 2 of Archery World Cup 2019 held in Shanghai on May 6-10.
Bangladesh had a chance to grab the first medal in their second appearance in the World Cup Archery but they managed the fourth slot after conceding a 2-6 sets defeat to South Korea by 2-6 sets in men’s recurve team event.
Rome, May 18 (AP/UNB) — Rafael Nadal put away Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 at the Italian Open on Friday to reach the semifinals after conceding only six games in his six sets of tennis at the tournament.
Yet he ought to be a little nervous.
Nadal has fallen in the semifinals of his last three tournaments — all on his favored clay. And next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas, whom Nadal lost to in Madrid last week.
"I know what happened last week, and I (am) going to try to do it better tomorrow," Nadal said. "I have to hold the level or increase a little bit more. If that happens, I (am) going to have my chances. The good thing is during the last month my feeling is every week was better than the previous one."
Tsitsipas, 20, is up to No. 7 in the rankings.
"Every year, we make (a) prediction with the team which player is going to be at the top 10 at the end of the season," Nadal said. "I put Tsitsipas there. ... He started even better than what I (expected). He deserves to be where he is now."
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic outlasted Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 in an entertaining slugfest that lasted more than three hours and finished after 1 a.m. local time at the Foro Italico.
Djokovic saved a match point in the second-set tiebreaker and was frustrated at times, receiving a warning for slamming his racket to the clay early in the third. But the Serb regained his composure and closed it out by serving an ace on his first match point.
Djokovic next faces Diego Schwartzman, who beat Kei Nishikori for the first time in four tries, 6-4, 6-2, to reach his first Masters Series semifinal.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer and top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew before their quarterfinals because of injuries.
Federer reported a right leg injury ahead of his match against Tsitsipas, and Osaka said she'd mysteriously woken up with a sore right hand ahead of her scheduled match against Kiki Bertens.
On the women's side, Karolina Pliskova rallied past former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-2 and will face qualifier Maria Sakkari, who came back to beat Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.
Bertens, who won the Madrid Open last week, will face Johanna Konta, who beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Although Osaka won both of her matches on Thursday in straight sets, Federer, 37, had to labor for more than 2 ½ hours to overcome Borna Coric in his second time on court.
Federer said after beating Coric that he slid on a wet line and his leg "was hurting a little bit."
"I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today. I am not 100 percent physically and, after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play," Federer said. "Rome has always been one of my favorite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year."
Later, Federer wrote on Instagram: "The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour."
It's only the fourth time in Federer's career he has had a walkover loss, the ATP Tour said, adding the 20-time Grand Slam champion has never retired in 1,465 matches.
Osaka couldn't immediately say how serious her injury is or if it will affect her status for Roland Garros, which starts in nine days. She had yet to see a doctor, but when she held her hand up for reporters, it was clearly swollen.
"I woke up this morning and couldn't really move my thumb," Osaka said. "I tried to practice and grip my racket but I couldn't, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions."
Osaka's win on Thursday guaranteed she will remain No. 1 going into the French Open.
"I didn't feel anything yesterday. That's why I'm kind of confused right now because I literally woke up in the morning and couldn't move my thumb," Osaka said. "So I was like, 'Maybe I slept on it and maybe it will go away.' But it didn't."
Osaka also withdrew before a semifinal in Stuttgart, Germany, last month due to an abdominal injury, and she retired from her previous meeting with Bertens at last year's WTA Finals with a leg injury.
"I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don't think I could have helped it because I don't know what caused it," Osaka said. "I don't know why I have it."
Dhaka, May 17 (UNB)– The Walton International Rating Chess Tournament 2019 (Open) will begin here on May 23 at the Chess Federation hall-room of National Sports Council.
The tournament will follow eight-round Swiss-League system.
Walton will award the winners with its accessories and prize money.
Interested chess players of any age can enroll their names on May 22 at Bangladesh Chess Federation office.