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Federer withdraws from Paris Masters

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Paris, Oct 30: Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has decided to quit next week’s Rolex Paris Masters due to back injury, the organiser has announced.

“Roger Federer has withdrawn with back injury,” the Paris Masters organiser wrote on Twitter on Sunday, moments after the Swiss lifted his eighth trophy at the Swiss Indoors Basel after beating Juan Martin del Potro in full sets, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I am very sorry to have to pull out of the Rolex Paris Masters but my body needs a rest after Basel. I’ve played a lot of tennis this year and need to make sure I look after my physical well being if I want to continue to compete at the highest level for years to come,” said Federer.

“In 2016, it was very painful to miss half of the season so I learned my lesson. I really wanted to play in front of the Paris crowd but I am sure it will be a great event nevertheless and I hope to be able to play next year,” he added.

The title in Basel was also the seventh of the year for 36-year-old Federer, who won at the Australian Open and the Wimbledon.

Seeded second in Paris, Federer was expected to face Rafael Nadal, who claimed titles at Roland Garros and US Open this year, in a highly-anticipated final next Sunday.

Federer was chasing Nadal for the year-end world number 1, but the Swiss’ withdrawal effectively earned Nadal the top position if the latter came through the first match in Paris.

Federer recorded his triumph at the Paris Masters in 2011, and last played in 2015.

“I am very disappointed. It is also disappointing for Roger Federer’s fans who will now not see this great champion in action. Despite this bad news, the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters promises to be highly compelling and of great sporting interest,” said the tournament director Guy Forget.

The Paris Masters, with its main draw to be played from next Monday, is the final ATP 1000 tournament ahead of November’s Finals in London.

IANS

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FIFA WC 2018: Brazil edge past brave Costa Rica with last gasp goals

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Sochi, June 23: Philippe Coutinho and Neymar Junior scored late in the second half as Brazil ensured their passage to the second round with a hard-earned 2-0 win over Costa Rica in a Group E clash of the FIFA World Cup here on Friday.

Both Brazilians struck in the second half added time at the Saint Petersburg Stadium to hand the five-time World Cup winners their first victory in the tournament.

Costa Rica managed to hold fast for the full 90 minutes of normal play thanks to a solid display from goalkeeper Keylor Navas but one minute into stoppage time, Barça’s Coutinho rescued Brazil, driving through the defense to attack a loose ball in the penalty area, smashing it home between the legs of the Real Madrid man between the posts.

Then, in the dying embers of stoppage time, of which there were six minutes, Neymar, who was yet to score at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, connected to a simple cross to tap home and seal the game.

At the final whistle, the most expensive player in the world broke into tears of relief in the center of the pitch.

Brazil, one of this year’s favourites to win the trophy, all but secured its place in the knockout stages of the competition, recovering from a 1-1 draw in its opening match against Switzerland, who in turn is to meet with Serbia in the evening kick-off.

Costa Rica put on a tough display in the first half knowing that a loss would essentially resign them to booking an early ticket home, but the players tired towards the end of the 90 minutes and succumbed to the relentless attacking tactics of the Brazilians.

Brazil, who now top the table with 4 points, is set to play Serbia on Jun 27 in its final Group E match.

IANS

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Ahmed Musa double downs Iceland to keep Nigeria’s World Cup dreams alive

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Volgograd (Russia), June 23: Two brilliant strikes by Ahmed Musa propelled Nigeria to a 2-0 win over Iceland in a Group D match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup here on Friday.

Musa (49th, 75th minutes) scored both his goals in the second half as Nigeria revived their chances of advancing to the second round.

The Africans, who had lost 0-2 to Croatia in their campaign opener, now have three points from two matches.

They now face a must win clash against Argentina in their third and last group encounter.

Iceland have two points from as many matches. They had held mighty Argentina 1-1 in their first match.

The result also helps the chances for Lionel Messi’s Argentina to advance, as they can move from bottom of the table into second with a win over Nigeria, so long as Iceland do not beat Croatia by an equal or larger margin.

In the first half of the game, chances were few and far between. While Nigeria dominated possession, Iceland got the better chances to take the lead.

The best of them all was a Gylfi Sigurdsson effort which was tipped over the bar by Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.

Nigeria nosed ahead four minutes into the second period when Victor Moses sprinted down the right wing and crossed towards Musa. The Nigerian controlled beautifully, before slamming home to give his side the lead.

Musa could have grabbed a hattrick had his attempt from 20 yards not come off the crossbar.

Musa then sped past Iceland right-back Kari Arnason on the wing to round goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson and score his second of the evening.

Iceland were handed a lifeline when Tyronne Ebuehi was late on a challenge on Alfred Finnbogason, and the referee gave a penalty — though only after reviewing the play on video.

But Sigurdsson sent his shot high over the bar and into the stands after a short run-up and Nigeria held on to take the three points.

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World Cup: Switzerland beat Serbia 2-1 in Group E tie

Switzerland equalised in the second half, thanks to a superb long range strike by Granit Xhaka (52nd).

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Switzerland vs Serbia

Kaliningrad (Russia), June 23 (IANS) A late goal by Xherdan Shaqiri earned Switzerland 2-1 win over Serbia in a Group E clash of the FIFA World Cup at the Kaliningrad Stadium here.

Aleksandar Mitrovic handed Serbia the lead in the fifth minute during the match on Friday.

Switzerland equalised in the second half, thanks to a superb long range strike by Granit Xhaka (52nd).

Shaqiri (90th) found the winning goal in the final minute of regulation time.

Switzerland now have four points from two matches.

Serbia have three points from two games.

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