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Sports in brief - 2012-09-05

Sep 05, 2012

In a similar scenario to Wimbledon back in June, Ernests Gulbis has knocked out a top-ranked player in the opening round of the U.S. Open before falling to a lesser opponent in the second round. In his opening match at Flushing Meadows, New York, the 23-year-old went behind early against tournament 21st seed, Tommy Haas, of Germany, losing the opening two sets 6-2, 6-4. However, Gulbis displayed a rare fighting quality in the third set, winning it 6-4 to get back into the match before going on to win the final two sets to claim the 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 victory. In the second round, Gulbis came up against NCAA champion Steve Johnson, who is ranked exactly 100 places below the Latvian at 245 in the world. Despite his superior ranking, Gulbis’ seemingly straightforward journey into the third round never sufficed as the American recovered after dropping the first set in a tie break to win the next three and advance to the third round with a 6-7 (3-6), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-4 win. Estonia’s Jurgen Zopp had a major breakthrough in New York, making it to the second round of a grand slam for the first time in his career. But there the 24-year-old met his match, losing to Tomas Berdych, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. In the women’s doubles, Latvian Liga Dekmeijere also made it as far as the second round with her Bosnian Herzegovinan partner, Mervana Jugic-Salkic, before losing out to the 14th seeded pairing of South Africa’s Natalie Grandin and her Czech partner Vladimira Uhlirova, 6-2, 6-3.

Aigars Apinis has won Latvia’s first gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics, achieving the feat in the men’s F52/53 shot put on Aug. 31. Throwing 10.23 meters, Apinis broke his own previous world record, going 1.55 meters clear of silver medalist Maximo de Jesus Mauro. It is Apinis’ third Paralympic gold medal, but his first in shot put, with the previous two coming in discus in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. Apinis, who has no trunk or leg function and limited finger movement, claimed silver in the shot put in Beijing and bronze in Sydney back in 2000. On Sept. 6, Apinis will attempt to complete a three-peat of golds in the discus. Apinis is now responsible for six of his country’s 11 Paralympic medals.

Latvia remains on track to qualify for Eurobasket 2012 with three games remaining in their qualifying campaign, whilst Estonia’s path to their first finals appearance since 2001 looks a little trickier. The northernmost Baltic State began its campaign with a bang, racing to the top of Group A with wins over the Slovak Republic and then Israel on the road. However, since then, the wheels have come loose with just two wins coming in their next five games to see them slip back to fourth in their group, two places outside of automatic qualification and one outside of qualifying on account of being one of the four best third-placed teams. Their campaign finishes with a game away to the undefeated Montenegro on Sept. 5 before hosting second-placed Serbia on Sept. 8 and the currently bottom-placed team, Iceland, on Sept. 11. The equation is somewhat simpler for Latvia, which is currently placed third in group D, with three wins and two losses from five games, breaking an almost two-year drought since last winning a competition game. They will now expect to win their away games to the Netherlands on Sept. 5 and Romania on Sept. 11, having already beaten both opponents convincingly at home. Their biggest remaining challenge will come on Sept. 8 when they host Georgia, whom they lost to at the buzzer, 79-76, on the road back on Aug. 27.

 

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