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Iga Swiatek outlasts Karolina Muchova to win 3rd French Open



Iga Swiatek outlasted Karolina Muchova to win her third French Open trophy and fourth Grand Slam title. (pic ESPN)

Iga Swiatek suddenly seemed lost in the French Open final. Her strokes were awry. Her confidence was gone. Her big early lead vanished, too.

She kept looking up into the stands, seeking guidance from her coach and her sports psychologist. So much was amiss right up until she was two games from defeat against unseeded Karo;ina Muchova on Saturday. And then, when she needed to most, Swiatek transformed back into, well, Swiatek. The No. 1 player in women’s tennis for more than a year. The defending champion at Roland Garros. Aggressive. Decisive. Full of clarity.

Swiatek overcame a second-set crisis and a third-set deficit to beat Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 and collect her third career championship at the French Open and fourth Grand Slam title. “I really love being here,” Swiatek said. “Basically, it’s my favorite place on tour.”

Looking comfortable at the outset, she raced to a 3-0 lead after just 10 minutes in Court Philippe Chatrier — taking 12 of the initial 15 points — and then was ahead 3-0 in the second set, too, before Muchova made things more intriguing.

Swiatek seemed out of sorts, unable to find the right strokes and unable to figure out why. Players are allowed to communicate with their coaches, but whatever Tomasz Wiktorowski — or sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz — might have been trying to tell Swiatek, either the message wasn’t getting through or it wasn’t working right away.

“I know much how much teams are important in our sport. Even though it’s an individual sport, I wouldn’t be here without my team,” Swiatek said afterward. “So, really, thank you, guys. Sorry for being such a pain in the…” — and she let the sentence end there.

Muchova grabbed five of six games on the way to pulling even at a set apiece. She carried that momentum into the deciding set, going ahead by a break twice. That’s when Swiatek returned to her usual brand of crisp, clean tennis, scurrying around the red clay with sublime defense and finding just the occasions to try for a winner. She claimed the last three games of the match.

When it ended on a double fault by Muchova, Swiatek dropped her racket, hunched forward and covered her face as she cried.

She has won the French Open twice in a row now, along with her 2020 title there and her triumph at the US Open this past September. That makes Swiatek, from Poland, the youngest woman with four Grand Slam trophies since Serena Williams was 20 when she got to that number at the 2002 US Open.

Swiatek, 22, is also only the third woman in the professional era to start 4-0 in major finals, joining Monica Seles and Naomi Osaka.

“This was so close, but yet so far,” said Muchova, who is ranked 43rd and was participating in a championship match at a Slam for the first time. “That happens when you play one of the best: Iga,” Muchova said. “So I want to congratulate you out loud once again and your team.”

The contest was filled with sections where Swiatek — the dominant player in women’s tennis for more than a year now — was better, and sections where Muchova was.

Every time one woman or the other seemed to be wresting control, every time one or the other raised her level enough that the end appeared in sight, the road curved in a different direction.

Swiatek’s brilliant beginning meant little. As did Muchova’s edges of 2-0 and 4-3 in the third set. One point in particular captured the essence of Muchova’s unwillingness to count herself out.

Serving for the second set at deuce while ahead 6-5, Muchova pushed to the net and ranged well to her right for a forehand volley. Swiatek then sent her scrambling to the left, and Muchova somehow slid and stretched for a backhand volley while losing her balance. Her racket fell, and so did she, placing her hands on the clay to brace herself.

The ball, somehow, landed in to take the point, and a moment later, when Swiatek’s backhand return sailed long, Muchova raised her right fist and let out a yell.

Suddenly, it was a set apiece. Suddenly, the outcome was entirely in doubt.

So then the question became: Might Muchova be able to fashion another dramatic comeback, the way she did in the semifinals Thursday? In that match, against No. 2 Aryna Sebelenka , the reigning Australian Open champion, Muchova faced a match point while trailing 5-2 in the third set and then completely reversed things, taking 20 of the last 24 points and each of the last five games to win.

That result made Muchova 5-0 for her career against foes in the top three. Any hope she had of making that 6-0 dissipated down the stretch.

Once again, Swiatek produced what it takes to win. Once again, she was holding a trophy — although she bobbled it during the postmatch ceremony, causing its top to fall.


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Ministerial Consultative Committee unanimously consent to canceling the nominations submitted for the Local Government Elections




The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils & Local Government chaired by  Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena as well as the Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government  unanimously consented to cancel the nominations submitted for the Local Government Elections given that those who have submitted nominations have faced great difficulties due to the postponement of the elections.


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India set to approve historic women’s quota bill




Sonia Gandhi called for the bill's immediate implementation (pic BBC)

The lower house of the Indian parliament has passed a bill guaranteeing a third of seats for women in the parliament and state assemblies.

First proposed in 1996, the bill had been pending for decades amid opposition from some political parties.

On Wednesday, the Lok Sabha passed it with near unanimity after hours of fierce debate. The bill will now require the approval of lawmakers in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. If passed here, it will be sent to the Indian president for approval and become law.

But it is still some way from being implemented as that would depend on the completion of India’s census. The exercise, conducted every 10 years, was set to be held in 2021 but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and is now expected to take place in 2025. Reported plans to redraw boundaries of assembly seats to increase the overall number of constituencies, known as delimitation, could further complicate the bill’s implementation.

The passing of the bill is expected to boost the fortunes of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general elections next year.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked MPs who voted for the bill in Lok Sabha. He called it a “historic legislation” that will enable greater participation of women in the political process. The bill was passed after 454 MPs from across party lines voted in its favour with only two against it.

The Lok Sabha debated the legislation for nearly eight hours, with several members of the Opposition raising concerns about its implementation even as they voiced their support. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the party supported the proposed legislation but demanded its immediate implementation. “How many years will they have to wait, two, four, eight?” Ms Gandhi asked. “Delaying this would be doing gross injustice to women.”

Several opposition MPs have also demanded a separate quota for women belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Hinduism’s caste system puts Brahmins or priests at the top, and Dalits (formerly untouchables) and Adivasis (tribespeople) at the bottom. In between are a multitude of lower and intermediate castes, which are roughly believed to constitute about 52% of the population, and are recognised as Other Backward Classes or OBCs. While India’s census has always recorded the population of Dalits and Adivasis, it has never counted the OBCs.

The proposed bill provides for one-third of the seats, which are already reserved for Dalits and tribespeople, to be reserved for women. But it excludes a similar sub-quota for women who belong to OBCs.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Ms Gandhi said the government should conduct a caste census – or a count of OBCs – and extend the benefits of the proposed law to women from those groups as well. Some other opposition MPs called the move an eyewash by the ruling party.

MP Asaduddin Owaisi, one of the two votes against the bill, said the current bill would only benefit upper caste women.


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Kerala cannabis with a street value of over Rs.132 million held by Navy in Negombo




A special search operation conducted by the Navy in the Mankuliya Lagoon of Negombo today (21st September 2023) led to the apprehension of a dinghy loaded with over 400kg of Kerala cannabis with an estimated street value of over Rs. 132 million

The seized consignment of Kerala cannabis and the dinghy were handed over to the Negombo Excise Station for onward legal action

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