India’s campaign in both men’s and women’s singles event in the Australian Open ended on a sour note with Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza going down fighting in their respective first round matches here today.While, Somdev went down fighting to Tommy Robredo of Spain in straight sets 6-7(4) 3-6 4-6, Sania managed to bag a set before losing 7-5 3-6 1-6 to former World No 1 and winner of seven Grand Slams Justine Henin of Belgium.Somdev, who was handed a wildcard after his impressive performance last year, posed some threat to the world no 52 Robredo, who was once ranked as high as number 5, but eventually failed to sustain in a contest that lasted two hours and 37 minutes.On the other hand, the 24-year-old Sania, who booked a berth in the women’s singles main draw of the Australian Open only after going through a tough qualifying route, gave Henin a run for her money.Henin had to draw all her trademark fighting spirit to avoid a disastrous first-round departure from the mega-event.Sania, during her seventh straight Australian Open appearance, came up with some winners and looked almost set to cause an upset.Having won the first set that lasted an hour, Sania raised hopes of an improbable Indian win but she failed to make any impact in the remaining two sets, allowing 11th-seeded Belgian to come back right into the game and finally steal the match in a little over two hours.Sania, though hardly had any real chance of registering a win in the first round, after being drawn against a tough opponent in Henin, who on her part is also making a comeback after missing the US Open because to an elbow injury suffered at the Wimbledon last year.advertisementSania, who once reached as high as 27th in WTA rankings, has slipped to 145 because to a recurring wrist injury last season.Sania’s best singles performance at the Australian Open has been third round appearances in 2005 and 2008. She had won the mixed doubles title with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi in 2009, which is her only Grand Slam title.Somdev Devvarman returns to Spain’s Tommy Robredo in Melbourne on Monday. APEarlier, the gutsy 25-year-old Somdev, who was making his debut in the Australian Open, tested Robredo in the first set, but the Spaniard then brought all his experience to fore to ultimately prevail with a 7-6 win.Robredo, however, did not have much difficulty in the next two sets. Somdev could not break his first round jinx this year as he had lost in the opening round of the Aircel Chennai Open also.- With PTI inputs
Hockey India (HI) on Tuesday announced the appointment of David John as the High Performance Director. David has previously worked with the men’s national team as the physiologist/scientific advisor prior to the London Olympics in 2012.In his role he had implemented and introduced new strength and training programs for the Indian men’s team.He had also worked in a similar role, as a Performance Director for two teams of the Hockey India League (HIL), most recently for Kalinga Lancers’ for the 2016 season where the team finished as runners up.David has experience working across sporting disciplines, which include Hockey, Rugby, Australian Rules Football and Triathlons.Speaking about the appointment, HI Secretary General Mohd. Mushtaque Ahmad said: “We welcome David’s inclusion into a role that has over the years become one of great importance for Hockey India.”A High Performance Director’s role is one that is not just demanding in the present but also has to include a vision for the future.””We are confident with David’s extensive experience and background in Sports Science that he along with the Chief Coaches for each of the Men and Women programmes that our athletes will have the best planning and assistance ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.””Added to this David’s enthusiasm to develop and identify national talent that Indian hockey will go from strength to strength in the next Olympic cycle,” he added.John, on his part hoped that his previous experience of being with the Indian side would help in his new role.advertisement”The role comes with its own unique set of challenges. I am hopeful that my previous experience as well as the presence of people who share a deep and long history with the game in the country will help me fulfil my role,” he said.”One of the crucial areas is the identification and nurturing of talent in the country and look to develop the team for the 2020 Games. I look forward to working towards that,” he added.