Sports Diary ( June 1-15, 2017, Issue)

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo Leads Real Madrid to 33rd La Liga Title

Real Madrid won their 33rd La Liga title and first for five years as Cristiano Ronaldo’s 40th goal of the season helped seal a 2-0 victory at Malaga on May 21st. Ronaldo got Madrid off to the perfect start after just two minutes before Karim Benzema’s close-range finish sealed the title 10 minutes into the second half. Madrid beat out Barcelona at the top of the table by three points as the Catalans’ come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Eibar in outgoing coach Luis Enrique’s last home game in charge wasn’t enough for a third straight title.

“It is the happiest day of my professional life by a distance,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane adding, “I have won everything with this club, this shirt but to win La Liga is the best of all.” Real needed just a point to be assured of the title and any lingering nerves were dispelled within seconds.

Lewis Hamilton Wins Thrilling Formula One Spanish Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton roared back into serious contention for a fourth drivers’ world title on Sunday when he drove to a well-judged victory for Mercedes in a dramatic Spanish Grand Prix. The three-time champion recovered after losing the lead from his 64th pole position to make the most of key strategic decisions and win with power and precision ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari. Hamilton finished the 66-lap contest 3.5 seconds ahead of the four-time champion German, having blasted past him to regain the lead after 44 laps.

It was his second win in five races this year and the 55th of his career and it brought him within six points of Vettel in the title race. The German now has 104 points and Hamilton has 98. Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Red Bull ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez and his Force India team-mate Frenchman Esteban Ocon.

Novak Djokovic Hires Andre Agassi As New Coach

Novak Djokovic confirmed last fortnight that he has hired American tennis legend Andre Agassi as his new coach for the French Open that starts next week. The Serb world No 2 announced this after his stunning loss to Alexander Zverev in the Rome Masters final but added that there was no ‘long-term commitment’ yet with Agassi.

“I spoke to Andre the last couple weeks on the phone, and we decided to get together in Paris. So he’s gonna be there. We’ll see what future brings. We are both excited to work together and see where it takes us,” said Novak Djokovic after the 4-6, 3-6 loss to 20-year-old German Alexander Zverev. Djokovic split with longtime coach Marian Vajda and two other team members at the start of the month. He also parted ways with Boris Becker after a three-year relationship, at the end of the last season.

Manpreet Singh to Lead India In Hockey World League Semis In England

Halfback Manpreet Singh last fortnight was named the Indian hockey captain for next month’s 3 Nations Invitational Tournament in Germany and the World League Semi Final in England after regular skipper PR Sreejesh was ruled out due to a knee injury. The 3 Nations Invitational Tournament will be played in Dusseldorf, Germany from June 1 followed by the Hockey World League Semi Final in London starting June 15. The 18-member team will play two matches each against hosts Germany and Belgium before arriving in London for the Hockey World League Semi Final where India are grouped with Canada, Netherlands, Pakistan and Scotland in Pool B.

Harmanpreet and Rupinder will continue to be the penalty corner specialists while Akash Chikte and Vikas Dahiya will carry the onus of goalkeepers for the team in absence of Sreejesh, who sustained injury while playing against Australia in the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Tournament.

India Stuns Indonesia 4-1 In Sudirman Cup Badminton Championship

After an embarrassing defeat against Denmark, India pulled off a dominating show to stun former champions Indonesia 4-1 in the Sudirman Cup mixed team badminton championship, being played at the Gold Coast in Australia, last fortnight. The victory over the fifth seeds kept India’s hopes alive of making the knockout stage of the tournament. India rode on stupendous performances by Kidambi Srikanth, PV Sindhu and the the experienced Ashwini Ponnappa, who won both the mixed doubles and women’s doubles match, with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and N Sikki Reddy respectively, to outwit Indonesia for the first time in team events.

Both Denmark and India now have won one match each and the knockout berths will be decided only after Indonesia and Denmark clash. If Indonesia defeat Denmark, it will come down to the number of matches, games and points as only two can qualify for the knockout stage from Group 1 D.

WADA Could Lift Russia’s Anti-Doping Suspension

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Craig Reedie said last fortnight that the body could lift its suspension of Russia’s drug-testing authority later this year after nearly two years on the blacklist. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has been suspended since 2015 in the wake of the report by Richard McLaren which uncovered widespread doping in Russian sport. Reedie however said RUSADA could resume testing based on WADA compliance criteria.

“There is a huge amount of work being done,” Reedie told a press conference following WADA’s Foundation Board meeting adding, “The board decided if we receive, and I’m sure we will, the necessary information … that the Russian anti-doping agency would be able to resume its testing program.” Russia’s commitment to comply with WADA’s demanded improvements was called into question by the appointment of former pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva as head of the supervisory board of RUSADA last December.