Djokovic to meet Nishikori Miami Open final

Miami, April 2 (IANS) Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic advanced to his third straight Miami Open final with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 victory over David Goffin, overcoming aggressive hitting by his Belgian opponent and hot and humid conditions here in South Florida.

Djokovic will on Sunday seek his sixth championship at this hard-court event and a record 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title when he takes on Japanese No. 6 seed Kei Nishikori, who defeated 24th-seeded Australian Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-5 on Friday, reports Efe.

The world No. 1 started showing signs of fatigue in the first set, but his counterpunching skills thwarted the aggressive game plan of the 15th-seeded Goffin, who smacked 18 winners to the Serb’s eight in the opener and 27 to 21 for the match.

Goffin struck first by breaking the 11-time Grand Slam champion’s serve in the seventh game, but Djokovic broke back immediately to make the score 4-4 and the set eventually came down to a tiebreaker after the Serb escaped a 0-30 hole in the 11th game.

The pressure weighed on Goffin in the tiebreaker and led to some unforced errors that were welcomed by the weary top seed, who also caught a huge break when his shot hit the net cord and trickled onto the Belgian’s side of the court for a fortunate winner on set point.

Djokovic started slowly in the second set as well, but he managed to stay on serve and then got a fresh burst of energy from a dispute with the chair umpire, who gave him a time-violation warning that the Serb considered unfair.

The top seed, who argued that the delay in stepping to the line and serving came after he had turned his ankle and needed a bit more time, used his annoyance to fuel him to a strong finish that ended Goffin’s challenge after just over two hours of play.

AFL boss agrees to be drug tested, in line with players

Melbourne, April 2 (IANS) The head of Australia’ s biggest sporting competition, the Australian Football League (AFL), has revealed that he and his key staff have agreed to be regularly tested for illicit drugs, following criticism of the code’s controversial drug-testing policy.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said on Friday the league’ s new, tougher testing regime would extended beyond the 700-odd players to every AFL employee, including himself, reports Xinhua.

“I’ve been drug tested,” McLachlan said on Melbourne radio on Friday. “All our management team is subject to the same policy.

“What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.”

On the eve of the first game of the season last week, the AFL was rocked by a media report that said the league’ s biggest club, Collingwood, had up to 11 of its players test positive for recreational drugs over the off-season.

Under the AFL’ s new illicit drug policy, updated at the end of last year, hair-tests conducted during the summer break were to be used purely for survey purposes with the results remaining confidential within AFL ranks.

However, Collingwood’ s data was leaked and published by News Corp just days before their season opener against Sydney – which they lost by 80 points – in what club president Eddie McGuire believed was a targeted act of sabotage as other clubs’ results remained secret.

McLachlan acknowledged the report took the gloss of an exciting opening round but reaffirmed the AFL’ s commitment to the new hardline stance on illicit drugs, which now results in players being banned for four games if they record two positive tests.

“Our policy has got tougher in the last 12 months. We have gone from three strikes to two,” he said.

“Our statistics are lower than in average society but it is still something we are confronting from head on.”

McLachlan said criticism that the policy, which operates outside of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines, had proved to be a failure was completely unwarranted.

“This concept that actually we’re soft on drugs is crazy because it’s the strongest illicit drug policy in world sport,” he said.

“I don’t think any policy we have will satisfy some people’ s insatiable demand for creating a story like this.”

Costa Rican female cyclists travel to Mexico seeking Rio 2016 ticket

San Jose, April 2 (IANS) The Costa Rican cycling team will work hard to make sure of a ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the Costa Rican Cycling Federation (Fecoci) has said.

Local media said six Costa Rican female cyclists, Milagro Mena, Paula Herrera, Edith Guillen, Marcela Rubiano, Daniela Martinez and Maria Jose Vargas, were sent to Mexico for the first Olympic qualifier for women this weekend at Mexico’s seaside resort La Paz, reports Xinhua.

The main goal is to make sure that Mena remains within the first 100 of the world rankings so that Costa Rica will have a ticket to Rio 2016.

“Let us see if we can win more ranking points to get an Olympic ticket for the country. It is a well-formed team ready to fight for this goal,” said Mena.

Guillen also said the six women make a good team.

“The aim is to try to qualify (for the Games) and then it will be out of our hands who will represent us (at the Olympics) but I think it is too early to talk about that. First we have to win the place which will be difficult and then we will all fight for the ticket,” said Guillen.

The Mexican event includes a 111km race on Saturday starting with a 31-km track followed by a 16km circuit which will be cycled round for five laps.

On Sunday, the cyclists will complete in a 108km race which involves nine laps round a 12km track.

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