Sports in brief - 2012-03-08

  • 2012-03-07

The Estonian men’s football team has experienced a positive start to 2012, defeating El Salvador 2-0 in a friendly match played in Los Angeles, USA, on Feb. 28. Coming off the most successful campaign in the country’s history, when they reached the final round of qualifying for the 2012 European Football Championship, Estonia showed that their good form is set to continue into their qualifying campaign for the 2014 Football World Championship, which will begin later this year. The two teams came into the match sharing a world ranking of 54 – the highest ranking the Central American country has ever held and two places of the highest ranking Estonia has ever achieved. Going into half-time the teams showed why they hold the same ranking, with the teams locked in a nil-all deadlock. However, the second half belonged to the northernmost Baltic State, with captain Ragnar Klavan scoring in the 71st minute and Raio Piiroja adding a second in the 86th minute when he headed home from a corner. Following the second goal, the referee was forced to call the game off early as the 15,000-strong predominantly El Salvadorian crowd showed their dissatisfaction at some of his calls by pelting the linesmen with trash. Estonia next play on May 25 when they take on Croatia.

Estonian Kaia Kanepi will return to the tennis court for the first time since her second round exit at the Australian Open back in January. Following the first grand slam of the season, the world no. 31 was forced to withdraw from her next three tournaments in Dubai, Paris and Doha complaining of a shoulder injury. The 26-year-old is now in Indian Wells, USA where she will be hoping to emulate the form that saw her win the Brisbane International prior to competing in the Australian Open. Seeded 29th in Indian Wells, Kanepi has been granted direct entry into the second round, where she will either meet South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers or Frenchwoman Mathilde Johansson. Fellow Estonian Jurgen Zopp will be hoping to join Kanepi in the main draw with the world no. 123 seeded 13th in the men’s qualifying draw. Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis is also expected to be a feature in the men’s main draw.

Last week Gulbis experienced his best result of the season to date, making it through to the quarter-finals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championship, the tournament in which the current world no. 75 claimed his breakthrough ATP tournament victory back in 2010. Having defeated higher-ranked opponents in Colombia’s Alejandro Falls and Belgium’s Steve Darcis to make the final eight, the 23-year-old then blew out against world no. 173, Marinko Matosevic of Australia, 6-3, 1-6, 1-6. It was the first time this season that the former world no. 21 has managed to win a match in an ATP tournament after exiting in the opening round of his previous three tournaments to date this year. Gulbis’ current lapse in form last week had Latvia’s number one player contemplating retirement, telling reporters that this season will be a decisive one in deciding his future. The son of millionaire parents, money should not be a problem for the temper-tamper prone player should he opt to leave tennis behind, a sport in which many had once predicted he could become a world top 10 player.