Sports in brief - 2011-07-28

  • 2011-07-27

Young Lithuanian tennis star Richard Berankis has impressed in a rare doubles showing, making it through to the semifinals of the July 17 – July 24 Atlanta Tennis Championship, playing alongside Xavier Malisse of Belgium. Having been out of action with injury for nearly four months, Berankis decided to enter both the doubles and singles draws on his return to action – just the second time this season that he has appeared in a doubles draw at an ATP event. After being delayed by rain earlier in the week, the pairing finally took to the court on Wednesday, knocking over Nicolas Mahut of France and Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, 4-6, 6-4, 10-5. It was sweet revenge for Berankis, who had been knocked out of the singles draw in the first round by Mahut earlier in the week. In the quarter-finals, Berankis and Malisse needed just two sets to tidy up India’s Somdev Devvarman and his Filipino partner, Treat Conrad Huey, winning through to the semifinals 6-1, 7-6 (5). Their run, however, would be stopped in the semis by eventual champions Alex Bogomolov Jr. of USA and partner Mathew Ebden of Australia. Going down 6-1 in the opening set, Berankis and Malisse showed more fight in the second set before eventually falling, 7-6 (3), in a tie breaker. This week Berankis will be back to just competing in singles, playing in the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles, alongside Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.

Following on from the highs of their national U19 team winning the FIBA U19 World Championships in Latvia earlier this month, Lithuanian basketball has been brought crashing back down to earth after their U20 men’s team barely avoided relegation from Europe’s top division following the recently completed European U20 Championship in Bilbao, Spain. Confidence was high amongst the Lithuanians going into the tournament, following their warm-up victory over the USA U19 team. But confidence evaporated rapidly as the tournament began to unravel. After beating Italy in a close fought opening game, Lithuania fell apart, losing their next two games heavily to Ukraine and Germany, seeing them dropped to the 13th – 16th classification games. The news was no better for them there, losing to Croatia and Serbia in their two opening games. The losing rot would finally end when they beat Austria before they then had to play all three teams once more. They would then lose to Serbia again, but then finish the tournament off by defeating Croatia and then Austria once more to narrowly avoid relegation. The news was somewhat better for their northern Baltic neighbors Latvia, who were able to finish the tournament in eighth place.

A ten-man Ekranas side have left themselves with everything to do on the road next week after resisting late pressure from Belarussian club BATE to hold on for a 0-0 draw on the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third round qualifying match. BATE were heavily favored to win the tie and justified the favoritism tag by dominating proceedings, hitting three shots on target and a further 14 off target, compared to a combined effort of just three from their opposition. Yet despite being reduced to ten men, following the dismissal of Marko Andjelkovic in the 58th minute following his challenge on Pavel Nekhaychik, Ekranas were remaining steadfast, effectively frustrating BATE’s offense. BATE will now host Ekranas for their second leg match on Tuesday, Aug. 16.