China's Zhang triumphs on home soil

SHANGHAI - China's Zhang Shuai battled to her second career title with a gutsy three-set victory in Guangzhou Open final Saturday. The number two seed defeated unseeded Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in nearly two hours on the hard courts, to the delight of the home crowd. Zhang, the world number 30, held her arms aloft and dropped to her knees after sealing the title with an ace, recapturing the crown she won in 2013. Krunic was on testing the first WTA final of her career and displayed her nerves in making 11 unforced errors in the first set to hand the initiative to Zhang. But Krunic found her groove in the second set and the more experienced Zhang, 28, began to falter. Krunic, ranked 65 in the world, reeled off three games without reply to level the match at one set each.–AFP

Ostapenko powers into Korea Open final

SEOUL - Top seed Jelena Ostapenko powered her way into the Korea Open final Saturday after a tight three-set battle with Thailand's Luksika Kumkhum, moving closer to claim the $250,000 title. The 20-year-old French Open champion from Latvia beat Luksika KumKhum, who had earlier upset the number four seed Sorana Cirstea, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. The 24-year-old Thai stunned the world number 10 by winning the opening set 6-3 before Ostapenko won the following two sets to reach her third final of the 2017 season. Ostapenko is a favourite to win the title after her surprise upset win over third-seed Simona Halep at the French Open in June. Ostapenko will face Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, who sailed into the final after defeating Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands 6-1, 7-6 (9/7) in the semi-final. –AFP

 Sagan uninterested in worlds recon

BERGEN - Reigning champion Peter Sagan admitted on Saturday he hasn't yet ridden the world championship circuit in Bergen, Norway and has no intention of doing so before Sunday's race. World champion in Richmond two years ago and Doha last year, the 27-year-old Slovak can equal the record number of rainbow jerseys won by the likes of Belgian great Eddy Merckx if he triumphs on Sunday's 276.5km race. And if he does, he'll be the first person to win three world titles in a row. But Sagan was typically laid back when meeting the press on Saturday, insisting he has no intention of checking out the 19km circuit that will be ridden 12 times following an initial 40km ride from Rong to Bergen. "We have to do the lap 11 times or 12," quipped Sagan. "That's a lot of time to see it."–AFP

 Axelsen reaches Japan Open final

TOKYO - Denmark's Viktor Axelsen defeated world number one Son Wan-Ho in the men's singles semi-finals at the Japan Open Saturday. Axelsen, who beat two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China to clinch the world title in Glasgow last month, overpowered South Korea's Son with a 21-16, 21-16 win. He now faces Malaysian Lee Chong Wei who has won the Japan Open six times. Lee booked a spot in the final after a 21-19, 21-8 win over China's Shi Yuqi. In the women's singles, Spain's Carolina Marin reached the final as Japan's Nozomi Okuhara dropped out from the semi-finals due to knee trouble. Marin faces China's He Bingjiao who beat Chen Yufei 21-14, 25-23. Okuhara, newly crowned women's world champion, was aiming to reclaim the trophy on home soil after winning it in 2015.–AFP

 NBP-ICA T20 Cricket Tournament

ISLAMABAD - A powerful 81 by Sajawal Riaz and polished 45 by Wajid Ali helped Classic Club thrash strong XI-Star Club by 23 runs in the NBP-ICA T20 Cricket Tournament – 2017, encounter held at Shalimar Cricket Ground. Sajawal and Wajid shared 102 runs third wicket stand as Classic piled up 174-5 while XI-Star managed to score 151, thus making an early exit from the event. At the same venue, Diamond Club demolished Al-Muslim by 6 wickets with Ali Nadim hitting a 46-ball 61. At Bhutto Cricket Ground, Youngster Club defeated Punjab Club by 4 wickets with Ehsan Malik hitting unbeaten 46. At the same venue, Shahid Ilyas hit superb unbeaten 71-ball 127 as Junoon amassed tournament’s highest total of 229 against Evans, which lost the match with highest margin of 179 runs.–Staff Reporter