Tough singles draw for Gopichand
IFA may lift Chima ban
Team crown for Indian women
CAB trials
Bangalore Races/ Allocated may be hard to toss

Seville, June 1: 
All-England champion Pullela Gopichand, seeded sixth in World Championships singles here, has a tough draw. He is scheduled to play Jens Roch in his first round, but thereafter Gopi has really tight matches.

Gopi maintains: “I do not look at the draw, because basically it has no meaning for me. I feel that I should be mentally ready to face any player any time in any round.” But after seeing the players he meets till his semis, there looked a hint of anxiety in his voice.

In round two he is scheduled to play Johan Hadikusuma of Indonesia, a player to whom Gopi lost in the last years Danish Open. He will then play in all probability Taipei shuttler Fung Permadi, not seeded here but a top five player just two years ago.

In his quarters Gopi runs into Hong Chen of China, the same player Gopi defeated in the All-England final. Hong is seeded above Gopi at the fourth spot. If Gopi had played in the Swiss and the Japanese Opens after the All-England, then he would have been seeded higher.

If Gopi wins all his matches till this stage, the much awaited re-match with top Dane and number two seeded Peter Gade Christensen may take place in the semis. Indian badminton fanatics will remember the incredibly exciting semis encounter between the two at the All-England and if the clash takes place again as it is likely to, then it could well turn out to be the match of the championships.

‘Peaking right’

“I have played reasonably well all through the Sudirman Cup and am peaking at the right time and I am sure to play well here. I have four more days to go before the open events main draw and I will be doing some more training, but I am happy with my preparations. Let us see what happens.”

For India, however, the most intersting aspect of the draw is that India number two Abhin Shyam Gupta — who arrived here amid lots of drama, having lost his passport and tickets on way from Bangalore to Delhi — plays the top-seeded Malaysian Hashim M. Roslin in the first round itself. Hasim, a semi-finalist at the All-England and winner of back-to-back Swiss and Japan Opens, is the current world number one and is riding high. But Abhin could prove to be the ideal foil, with his terrifically focused defensive game.

If Abhin can find his rhythm and length early on in the match, he could well cause the most sensational upset of the championships.

In the India-Malasyia Thomas Cup tie in Kulala Lumpur last May, Hashim had lost to Siddhartha Jain.

“Though I came late here to Seville, I also am getting into shape and am looking forward to playing the top seed. I always feel that the best time to play these players is early in the draw,” says the Indian, who if he wins will run into Tam Kai Cheun of Hong Kong in Round 2. The other two Indians in the event are qualifying and have all the chances of joining Gopi and Abhin in the main draw.

Siddhartha Jain is, in fact, top seeded in the qualifying event and in case of any last minute withdrawl he will be the first to enter the main draw as substitute. Chetan Anand, the most famous stroke player from the younger generation in the world, should also qualify without too many problems.

India also has an entry in the men’s doubles in the main draw. Hungarian open winners Sanave Thomas and V. Diju play the Czech pair of Petr Martine and Jan Frohilich and can win this match. In Round 2 they will run into Wang Wei/Cheng Rui of China who are unseeded.

Apart from these entries all other Indian entries — four ladies’ singles of Meenakshi, Jwala Gutta, Shruti Kurien and Manjusha Kanwar are in qualifying rounds and will have to win four matches before qualifying. In men’s doubles and ladies’ doubles too Indian pairs will have to qualify.

So as far as the Indians are concerned the draw is a mixed bag, with Gopi still as a favourite for the title along with the likes of Taufique Hidayat, Christensen of Denmark and the Chinese Hong Chen.

Roslin Hashim did not play the Sudirman Cup, with the view of staying fresh for Open events, but that can well boomerang on him.

For the international badminton fraternity here in Seville, the hottest favourites to clash in the finals will be Taufique Hidayat and Peter Gade. As Morten Frost puts it: “These two have been the most consistent in the entire year. The dark horse as far as I am concerned will be Gopichand of India, because he grows in temeperament as the matches go on. He is still the best net player and if he can control the net like he did at All-England, then Gopi may well emerge as the new champion.”

The distaff side

Though Camilla Martin of Denmark is top-seeded in ladies’ singles, it will be difficult for her to retain her crown of two years back. The conditions here at the San Pablo Stadium are really hot, touching 30°C in the morning itself. Also the fact that she will have to battle Chinese Yun Dai in the third round, All-England champion Gong Zhi Chao (also China) in the quarters and again another chinese Gong Ruina — the most consistent player on the GP circuit this season — the chances of Camilla making it even to the semis are dim.


Calcutta, June 1: 
The Indian Football Association (IFA) may consider lifting the two-year ban on controversial Nigerian player Chima Okerie when the IFA governing body meets tomorrow.

Ranjit Gupta, IFA joint secretary confirmed today that the issue on Chima’s ban has been an agenda in the meeting but refused to dilvulge anything.

However, sources in IFA office said a lot will depend on whether the player shows up and how he presents himself in the meeting.

Chima had earlier appealed to the governing body to truncate his suspension, slapped on him for manhandling a referee in a Super Division match two years back and which ends on September 30.

Meanwhile, Ranjan Dey decided to stay back with East Bengal, while his teammate Dipankar Biswas and Tollygunge Agragami’s Mohammed Kaizar signed for Bhatri Sangha in the inter-club transfers today.

Inter-college tennis

NIIT defeated Saifee Hall 2-0 to set up a title clash with Calcutta University in the inter-college tennis meet at High Court club courts today.

Alok Sharma beat Mudassar Ahmed 6-1, 6-0 in the first singles. Simon Chakraborty then scraped past Arif N. Hasan 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

Later in the play-off for the third-fourth place, Jadavpur University trounced Saifee Hall by an odd set in three.

Federation Cup squads

A squad of four boys and five girls will represent Bengal in the Federation Cup athletics meet for juniors to be held next month.

THE SQUADS: Boys — Subrata Das, Bapi Mondal, Abul Rejak Mollah and Ashesh Mallick. Girls — Ranjita Roy, Dipa Das, Basanti Biswas, Lucy Deshmukh and Tucy Deshmukh.

WBKA meet

Noapara Mitra Sangha beat S.B. Kabaddi Club 52-40 in the WBKA knock-out meet in men’s section today. The finals for men and women will be played tomorrow at WBKA ground at 3.30 pm.


Bahrain, June 1: 
The Indian women’s team of Bimal Sicka, Yvette Singapuri, Marriane Karmarkar, Gita Lakhani, Ameeta Raythatha and Feroza Chothia won the Women’s Team event at the 11th Asia & Middle East bridge meet today.

They qualified for the world inter-zonal women’s team championship for the Venice Cup to be played in October in Bali.

In the six-session final which ended today, they started with a carry-over of 1 IMP, and then won all six sets to record a thumping 192 IMPs victory over Sri Lanka.

In the Open Teams final, India, starting with a 10-IMP carry-over, were marginally ahead of Syria, 127 IMPs to 123, after three sessions with two more to go tomorrow.

In the play-off for third spot in the Open, Pakistan ensured a Bermuda Bowl berth by defeating Bahrain by 106 IMPs to 60.


Calcutta, June 1: 
Trials for junior cricketers for BCCI-conducted meets will get underway at Eden Gardens from June 4.

About 200 players, selected from teams that took part in the just-concluded Ambar Roy meet, will be divided into 12 teams for practice matches. After the trials, around 30-40 players will be shortlisted for final selection.

Meanwhile, Arindam Das will leave for the Australian Cricket Academy on Monday.


Bangalore, June 1: 
Allocated, hailing from Darius Byramji’s yard and with Ruzaan in the saddle, may be hard to toss the 1,400m Karnataka Police Cup, tomorrow’s main attraction. The Placerville-Arctic Theme gelding — last year’s winner of the colts classic — has been sparingly raced and may have the measure of his eight rivals including Axe, Royal Satin and Bank Balance who look best to make it an issue.


3 pm: Pettalumma 1. Parisien Belle 2. Flaming Tower 3.
3.30 pm: Hope And Faith 1. Refresher 2. Assertive Allies 3.
4 pm: Allocated 1. Royal Satin 2. Axe 3.
4.30 pm: Alisa 1. One So Wonderful 2. Finest Flare 3.
5 pm: Judge Jules 1. St. Lucinda 2. Kyosoba 3.
5.30 pm: Discuss 1. Crystal Ocean 2. Jungle Cat 3.
Day’s Best: Pettalumma
Double: Hope And Faith & Allocated

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