Monday 25 September 2017

'Satisfied' Nadal back with a bang

Rafael Nadal hits a return against Ryan Harrison
Rafael Nadal hits a return against Ryan Harrison

With the tennis world watching closely, Rafa Nadal made a successful return to Indian Wells with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Ryan Harrison in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Though initially looking a little rusty, the Spanish left-hander showed no visible sign of discomfort after being sidelined for seven months last year by a left knee injury before sealing a commanding victory in just over an hour-and-a-half.

Playing his first match on a hard-court surface in 346 days, Nadal edged a close first set 7-3 in the tie-break, then broke Harrison's serve in the third and fifth games of the second set to take firm control of the match.

The Spanish world No 5, who had his left knee taped up throughout the match, served out to book his place in the third round, ending Harrison's brave challenge with an overhead smash to spark loud roars from the crowd.

"It was a good victory for me against a good opponent," said Nadal, who clinched the Indian Wells title in 2007 and 2009.

"I am satisfied to be in the next round. That's the most important thing."

The Spaniard, who returned to the ATP circuit last month in South America where he competed in three relatively minor clay-court events, winning two of them after reaching all three finals, will next face Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.

Coyle delighted with Uptown Girl hat-trick

EQUESTRIAN

Daniel Coyle and Linzi Johnson's Uptown Girl made it a hat-trick of wins in the HSI/ Bluegrass Spring Tour series when topping the line-up again in the latest leg at Killossery near Swords in Dublin.

From a big starting field of 53 runners, Coyle was last to go against the clock, snatching victory from Edward Doyle and Samegemjee by more than two seconds and taking the lion's share of the €2,500 sponsored by Killossery Lodge Stud.

The previous weekend's winner, Eddie Moloney from Kilkenny, had to settle for third with Tom McGurk's Machushla, which was a half-second further off the pace.

Fearsome UCD look unstoppable

HOCKEY

UCD continued their march to the Leinster women's title with a 3-0 win over North Kildare.

On a day when their remaining rivals struggled to pick up points, the students were always in control at Kilcock.

Loreto needed a late Niamh Small winner to see off Old Alexandra and keep their faint hopes of topping the table alive, while Railway Union had to come from three down against Corinthians to maintain their mathematical interest in the chase.

Cork C of I are top in Munster after their 2-2 draw with arch-rivals Cork Harlequins, while Banbridge took the Ulster crown for the first time in 25 years with a 1-1 draw against Lisnagarvey.

Sutcliffe off to a flier in pro ranks

BOXING

FORMER Irish elite champion Phil Sutcliffe won on his pro debut on the night of the TKO in Dundalk.

The Dubliner stopped Hungarian Zoltan Kovacs 63 seconds into the first on an evening when seven of the 10 fights didn't reach the final bell.

James Tennyson, Daniel McShane, Declan Trainer, Noel O'Brien, Matt Wilton, Willie Mitchell and Sutcliffe recorded inside the distance wins.

Anthony Fitzgerald, Anthony Cacace and Christiana McMahon earned points verdicts – McMahon improved to 5-0 record following her 79-74 decision over Poland's Karina Kopinska.

Moores defends England

CRICKET

Former coach Peter Moores feels it is unfair to suggest that England were over-confident and disrespected the game prior to their Test series in New Zealand.

Ex-captain Michael Vaughan strongly criticised the team after they were bowled out for 167 in the first innings of the first Test in Dunedin and allowed New Zealand to establish a 254-run lead.

Vaughan claimed England's mindset had been one of over-confidence and that they were not "prepared to do the hard yards".

After that England battled back to save the match with hundreds from Alastair Cook and Nick Compton and half-centuries from Steven Finn and Jonathan Trott.

Moores countered: "The disrespect, I don't really agree with that. I can see where Michael is coming from, that you go in thinking you are going to win. But it is a sub-conscious thing rather than a conscious thing, because they are all saying the right stuff.

"I think they would have physically trained the same. What they wouldn't have done is been as mentally switched on for a really tough contest. Then you get your fingers burned.

"Then they have kicked back and shown what a good team they are, with Compton and Cook up front and Finn chipping in with the bat."

England will now hope to make a stronger start in the second Test in Wellington, which begins next Thursday.

Irish Independent

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