The Centralian Advocate Tue 29 Mar 2022
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26 SPORT Tuesday March 29 2022 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 Kyrgios continues to court killer form NICK Kyrgios bulldozed through another opponent at the Miami Open on Monday before his close friend and doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis followed him into the fourth round. The Australian Open doubles champions continue to thrive together and on their own this year, in whats become a popular resurgence for two of the countrys tennis stars. They both spent time outside the top 100 in the ATP rankings this year Kyrgios is still the world No.102 but are now among the last 16 players left at one of the tours most prestigious tournaments. Kyrgioss day began with a swipe at former top-10 player Daniela Hantuchova and, to a lesser degree, Andy Roddick then ended with a 6-2 6-4 demolition of Italian firebrand Fabio Fognini. The former world No.13 has never won a Masters 1000 event and last won a singles title in 2019 but is in imperious form, evidenced by his 6-3 6-0 romp against world No.7 Andrey Rublev in the previous round. I knew that if I came out with some energy and jumped on him (Fognini) early, I was going to run with it, he said. The way Ive played the last couple of matches; I cant really ask for much more. Kyrgios hit 10 aces past Fognini and again didnt face a single break point in setting up a clash with Italys Jannik Sinner, who saved five match points to outlast Spains Pablo Carreno-Busta. They were meant to face off at Indian Wells a fortnight ago but Sinner handed Kyrgios a walkover into the quarter-finals, where Rafael Nadal beat the Australian in three sets. Kyrgios spoke candidly in February about dealing with depression during one of the darkest periods of his life three years ago but spoke earlier in the Miami event about being at peace with everything off the court. He has never been shy about airing his grievances and was clearly unimpressed with Hantuchovas comment that Emma Raducanu was losing the locker room respect she amassed with her US Open triumph. Whats with old retired players giving their opinion on our stars now? Kyrgios tweeted. I love A-rod (Roddick) and I agree we all need to chill with the rackets and all that, but geezus, I read an article about a past female player talking about Radacanu (sic), no offence but she is a far far bigger name already. Kokkinakis had a far tougher passage, surviving fellow qualifier Denis Kudla 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in a contest lasting almost three hours. The Adelaide singles champion further entrenches himself on the main tour with the win after spending more than six years with a tripledigit ranking as injuries and illness threatened to ruin his career. Kokkinakis will have to upset second-seeded German Alex Zverev if he is to advance to the quarter-finals. Their only meeting was at the now-defunct Hopman Cup in Perth four years ago, when Kokkinakis came from a set down to win 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-4. Kyrgios and Kokkinakis are also into the Miami doubles quarter-finals. Two other Australians, Alex de Minaur and wildcard Daria Saville, will play their respective third-round singles matches on Tuesday. Nick Kyrgios returns a shot to Fabio Fognini of Italy at the Miami Open on Monday. Picture: Getty Images/AFP Marc McGowan Scheffler triumphs in Match Play to take world No.1 ranking SCOTTIE Scheffler powered to victory in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play on Sunday to claim the world No.1 ranking from Spanish ace Jon Rahm. In another milestone for Scheffler this year, the 25-yearold American eased past Kevin Kisner to complete a 4&3 victory at Austin Country Club. Schefflers third PGA Tour victory of the year following wins at the Phoenix Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational saw him end Rahms 36-week reign at the top of golfs global rankings. I really dont know what to say, an emotional Scheffler said afterwards. Im just really pleased. Its a tough week, a long week. I figured out my routine to keep some energy. But Im pretty worn out right now to be honest. Its a dream come true to play in front of my hometown fans here, going to school here. I have some good memories on this golf course, coming out to watch this tournament. Im pleased to be playing in it, and even more happy to win it. Victory could not have been sweeter for Scheffler, the fifth seed who defeated former world No.1 Dustin Johnson in the semi-finals earlier Sunday and also eliminated defending champion Billy Horschel in the last 16 on Saturday. Against the 29th seeded Kisner in Sundays final, Scheffler took control early on, going three up after six holes and playing flawlessly thereafter to retain his advantage. Scheffler took the lead on the par-4 second hole when Kisner bogeyed after finding the greenside bunker with his second shot. Scheffler then drained a 20foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth to go 2 up, and then two holes later extended his lead on the par-5 sixth with his third birdie of the round. A superb third shot left him just two feet from the cup for the simplest of birdie putts while Kisner could only make par. Scheffler then extended his lead on the 14th with another birdie, rolling in a 15-foot putt to leave Kisner four down with four to play and staring at defeat. Kisner needed something special on the 15th but the writing was on the wall after he could only land his second 20 feet from the hole. Kisner missed the birdie putt to leave Scheffler two putts to seal the championship. Thai teen wins first title in playoff THAI teenager Atthaya Thitikul won a playoff over Denmarks Nanna Koerstz Madsen with a bogey on Sundays second extra hole to capture the JTBC Classic for her first LPGA title. World No.14 Atthaya, an LPGA rookie 19-year-old making only her fifth tour start, fired the low round of the week at eight-under-par 64 at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California. That left her deadlocked with Madsen after 72 holes on 16-under 272 and, after missing a six-foot birdie putt for the win on the first playoff hole, Atthaya took advantage of Madsen going into water and claimed the crown with a bogey on the second. I just focus on my game and do the best I can and it has turned out to be (enough), Atthaya said. It means a lot. It means the world to me. I know my parents and coaches back home are watching me now. Its meaningful to all of us not just me. South Korean An Na-rin was third on 273 with Canadas Maude-Aimee Leblanc, Thailands Pajaree Anannarukarn and top-ranked Ko Jin-young of South Korea on 274. Englands Charley Hull was seventh on 276. Ko fired a 68 for her LPGArecord 34th consecutive under-par round. The event was the final tune-up for next weeks first major womens golf tournament of the year, the Chevron Championship at Rancho Mirage. The playoff began at the par-4 18th hole. Madsen sent her approach over the back of the green while Atthaya bounced her second shot six feet beyond the hole. But Madsen chipped the ball two feet from the cup and Atthaya pushed her birdie putt wide left to set up another playing of 18. After Madsen chipped her fourth onto the green, Atthaya putted to eight feet. Madsen missed her bogey putt and the teen two-putted for the win. In the final round, Atthaya made nine birdies, matching the lead with birdies at the par-4 16th and par-5 17th and sinking a clutch eight-foot par putt at 18 to stay level with Madsen, who had three holes to play. AFP