Australia first to qualify for ATP Cup quarterfinals

first_imgMelbourne: Australia, led by 20-year-old Alex de Minaur, has become the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals of the inaugural ATP Cup, defeating Canada 3-0 in the group stage.On Sunday afternoon, Alex de Minaur rallied from a set down to win for the second time in as many matches and put the host country in the Final Eight qualification position.De Minaur defeated Canada’s Denis Shapovalov 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 and clinched the tie for the home country. “I managed to turn things around, get back into a positive mindset, get my energy back,” De Minaur said.“I think it’s all energy. It’s good that in the back of my head I know that all the hard work I’ve put in in the pre-season, so I know that my body’s ready to keep on going for however long it takes,” he added.John Millman, who replaced Nick Kyrgios as Australia’s No. 2, defeated Canada’s Feliz Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-2.In doubles, the duo of Chris Guccione and John Peers finished off the sweep with a 3-6, 7-6(3), 10-8 win against Auger-Aliassime and Adil Shamasdin.The group phase of the ATP Cup, which is being played in Brisbane, Perth, and Sydney, will end on January 8, while the final phase, in which the six group winners and the two top No. 2 teams will compete, will be played between January 9-12 in Sydney. AgenciesAlso Read: Marnus Labuschagne hits ton as Australia dominate Day 1Also Watch: Torch Relay of 3rd Khelo India Youth Games received by District Administration in Kokrajharlast_img read more

USC looks to make it three in a row against Arizona

first_imgAfter a Halloween win in the Bay over quarterback Jared Goff and the California Golden Bears, the Trojans will return home to the Coliseum to host Arizona. The Trojans are riding a two game-win streak to improve to 5-3 while the Wildcats are coming off of two straight losses, falling to 5-4.The last time these teams met, USC barely escaped a loss in Tucson, as No. 10 Arizona missed a last-second field goal that would have won the game. Since knocking off former No. 3 Utah, USC has moved up to third place in the Pac-12 South while Arizona is fifth, ahead of only Colorado.Since taking over, interim head coach Clay Helton has slowed his team down and strayed from former head coach Steve Sarkisian’s fast-paced offense. Last week against Cal, the Trojans held Goff and the Bears offense to a season-low 61 plays and will likely bring that same approach to the Coliseum on Saturday.“When you look at some of the teams that we are playing right now, these high-play teams, you’re trying to keep that ball away from them, steal a possession from them, limit a possession for them,” Helton said.The defense fell flat against Stanford, Washington and Notre Dame, but since switching to a more controlled tempo, has been unwavering against Utah and Cal. A fast-paced offense puts a lot of pressure on the defense since the offense is limiting its time of possession. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said that reducing the amount of time the defense is on the field will greatly reduce the margin of error, especially against a high-scoring team like Arizona.“They are averaging over 500 yards of offense,” defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. “They have scored a lot of points. They have been in the 90s and 100s in the play count, so they get a lot of plays.”Arizona running back Jared Baker will try to capitalize on the defense’s Achilles heel — run game defense. Baker slowly grinds out yards on the ground and wears down defenses, something USC struggles to defend.Arizona quarterback Jerrard Randall started in place of an injured Anu Solomon, but now that Solomon is healthy again, head coach Rich Rodriguez seems to favor some variation of the two of them. Neither one has been outstanding, so as long as USC’s defense is able to stop the run game and play through the fourth quarter, the Trojans shouldn’t have a problem getting a win.“Our D-line and linebackers are playing lights-out right now,” said redshirt sophomore safety Chris Hawkins. “From here on out, we’re going to be needed a lot.”On the other side of the ball, redshirt senior quarterback Cody Kessler is coming off a game against Cal in which he did not throw a touchdown pass. Kessler has seemingly been a non-factor in USC’s past two wins but will need a big game to make up for the potential absence of his favorite target, sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.“Right now you’ve got to plan for him not to be there,” Helton said of Smith-Schuster, who had surgery to repair a fracture in his hand on Monday. “We’re not going to put a kid out there who’s not ready. If he’s ready, he’s ready. If not, we’ll save him for the next game.”Like Arizona, USC relies heavily on the run game under Helton, and especially if Smith-Schuster is out, the trio of tailbacks Justin Davis, Tre Madden and Ronald Jones will need to continue to exhaust the opposing defense. They haven’t met a defense who could stop them yet, and Arizona’s vulnerability isn’t likely to either.But many USC players have said that more important than offense and defense is playing together.“He has made us a real family,” Hawkins said.Wide receiver Darreus Rogers echoed Hawkins’s thought, and added that Helton has given the Trojans something to play for.“I believe in Coach Helton — we all believe in him — and we will do whatever it takes to win for him,” Rogers said.Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Coliseum. The game will be aired live on ESPN.last_img read more

Munster’s European hopes dashed

first_imgMunster’s European Champions Cup hopes of a place in the knockout stages have been dashed.It’s been a disastrous afternoon for the province in their Pool 1 away game to Saracen.Chris Ashton got two of the Saracens three tries in a 33-10 win at Allianz Park. Owen Farrell also kicked 18 points for the home side.Denis Hurley got Munster’s only try with 11 minutes remaining.It was a must win game for Munster they went down to Sarries, who fell just short of a four try bonus point.last_img read more