Halep out of St Petersburg with injury

SAINT PETERSBURG - Top seed Simona Halep pulled out of the St Petersburg Trophy on Friday because of a persistent knee injury, propelling a Russian wildcard into the semi-finals. "I'm really disappointed that I had to withdraw from the quarter-final today, but my knee is not okay," Halep said. "After my last match I felt pain and I feel it's risky to continue here." Halep, who enjoyed an opening-round bye, beat Croatia's Ana Konjuh in the second round in St Petersburg. The 25-year-old Halep crashed out of last month's Australian Open in the first round and again cited a sore knee. "I've had a great time at St Petersburg. The city and the tournament are beautiful and I look forward to coming back here and hopefully next time I will be better on court and also be healthy."–AFP


Ronaldinho becomes Barca ambassador

BARCELONA - Spanish giants Barcelona announced legendary former player Ronaldinho will return to act as an ambassador for the club. The Brazilian, who won the World Player of the Year twice as well as two La Liga titles and the 2005/06 Champions League with Barca in five years at the Camp Nou, has not played since a short spell at Fluminense came to an end in September 2015. Barca initially announced a 10-year deal had been agreed, but issued a revised statement without a definitive timeframe for the agreement. "FC Barcelona and Ronaldinho have reached an agreement whereby the Brazilian will become a Club ambassador and representative," Barca said in the revised statement. Ronaldinho, 36, will also be part of a Barca legends team that will play exhibition matches across the world.–AFP


Barrichello to drive at Le Mans

PARIS - Retired Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello will make his debut driving in the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race. The Brazilian will share the wheel of a Dutch entry with Jan Lammers, the 1988 winner with Jaguar. "I'm delighted to hear that we have been accepted for my 23rd Le Mans and Racing Team Netherlands' first entry," ex F1 driver Lammer told Britain's autosport magazine online edition. "We are extremely proud to enter some Brazilian flavour into Le Mans," he added. They will be driving a Dallara LMP2 car which the pair have already started testing. Whilst this will be Barrichello's first taste of Le Mans, the 44-year-old has completed three editions of the Daytona 24 Hour, finishing runner-up last year. The former Ferrari ace retired from F1 in 2011 after 11 wins.–AFP


Pakistan rout Iran in Asian Jr Squash

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan junior team entered the semifinals of the 18th Asian Junior Team Squash Championship 2017, after routing Iran 2-0 in the last Pool A match played in Hong Kong on Friday. In the first match, Abbas Zeb thrashed Mojtaba 3-0, winning 11-4, 11-9, 11-8, while Mehran Javed thumped Alireza Shameli 3-1, winning 15-13, 6-11, 11-3, 11-5. Now Pakistan will take on second seeds Malaysia in the first semifinal today (Friday). Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) honorary secretary Group Captain Amir Nawaz said: “It was comfortable victory for Pakistan team. People don’t realise that the competition is very tough, as Hong Kong were stunned by Jordon in the Pool-B match while Pakistan lost against India but it was very a close affair. I hope the team will excel and try to win trophy.”–Staff Reporter


Olympia qualify for Rafi Polo final

LAHORE - Olympia defeated Guard Group/Dascon Construction 7-6 to qualify for main final of the Rafi Group Polo Cup 2017 here at the Lahore Polo Club (LPC) ground on Friday. Guard Group opened their account through Saqib Khan Khakwani to take 1-0 lead but Olympia then bounced back and thwarted two goals through Abdul Rehman Monnoo and Ahmed Ali Tiwana to finish the first chukker, having 2-1 lead. The second chukker saw in-form Taimur Ali Malik hitting two to give his team 3-2 lead. Both the teams then kept on scoring goals while in the dying moments of the match, the score was tied at 6-6. It was anyone’s match but Ahmed Tiwana’s timely goal pushed Olympia in the main final of the tournament. Meanwhile, the LPC will hold Riding Gala 2017 today (Saturday) at 2pm at the club premises.–Staff Reporter