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Hockey: Korea keep Asia’s flag flying at the World Cup | Hockey

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The decibel levels rose dramatically at the Kalinga Stadium. If one would have had their eyes shut, they would assume that India were scoring goals, racing away to victory. Only that India have already been knocked out of the competition for the top spot and will play classification games 320km away in Rourkela.

Despite the home team being eliminated, fans turned out in huge numbers to support the only Asian team left in the World Cup – South Korea. With the roughly 12,000 supporting every forward push the Koreans were making, the world No 9 team fought back from 3-5 down to not just level the scores at 5-5 but eventually oust 2016 Rio Olympic champions Argentina on Sunday by a 3-2 margin in the shootout – arguably the biggest upset of the tournament.

The shootout was nothing short of dramatic. Every Korean goal was cheered and every save by Kim Jaehyeon was celebrated in the stands. After Kim saved the final Argentine attempt by Martin Ferreiro, the Korean goalkeeper rushed towards the stands to acknowledge the support with his team engulfing him for crazy celebrations with water replacing the unavailable champagne.

“India being Olympic bronze medallists, Asia’s leader, a high-ranking team, it was very sad to see them going out in the crossovers by losing the shootout. Then Malaysia and Japan also did not make the quarter-finals. So, there was pressure on Korea as the only Asian team left,” said South Korean coach Shin Seok Kyo, who won two Asian Games gold medals in 1994 and 2002 apart from the 2000 silver at the Olympics.

Korea’s hockey journey began in the mid-1980s. To prepare for their first-ever Olympics in 1988 Seoul, they put together a team for the 1986 Asian Games, also held in South Korea’s Seongnam. After testing players through various athletic disciplines, South Korea created history by winning gold in 1986. In the next 10 years, a country with no hockey history became the undisputed kings of Asia with skillful players using unique tricks, lobs and aerial balls – unfamiliar to the game back then.

From 1994 to 2006, South Korea reached the finals of all four Asian Games, winning three. They reached the finals of the Asia Cup five out of six times from 1994 to 2013, winning four. They also won the 2022 Asia Cup when India sent a second-string side to Jakarta. In World Cups, they finished fourth twice in 2002 and 2006. But their greatest success was a silver medal finish at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

But the East Asian nation’s standards and fortunes have declined in the last decade. They failed to qualify for both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 and missed the cut for the 2018 World Cup here.

But Odisha 2023 falls in good stead ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games later this year. A come-from-behind victory over a team that stood atop the Olympic podium only seven years ago in a crucial World Cup knockout game speaks volumes about their aspirations. Significantly, the winner of the 2023 Asian Games will get direct qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics, meaning the South Koreans could also hamper India’s chances.

“After a long time we are playing a World Cup. The last was 2014. Considering that, our entry into the quarter-finals is fantastic. Fourteen of our players are playing their first World Cup while six are experienced. We have a young team who have a bright future. Our target is to win the Hangzhou Asian Games,” said Shin, who was part of the Olympic silver medal-winning squad in 2000.

To beat Argentina, the Koreans were not just all high press but also a strong defensive unit, especially in the last quarter when Argentina increased their attacks. After thwarting Los Leones, the Koreans toppled South Americans in the shootout to enter their first World Cup last eight since New Delhi 2010.

“Our boys had the confidence. I am so happy that an Asian team is in the quarter-finals. My boys are young. On some days they play very well, on other days not. They will take more time, training and experience. Maybe they will take 2-3 years to develop into a strong team,” added the head coach, who also played in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

Hockey is a small sport in South Korea approximately having 10,000 amateur players out of which only 500 take it up professionally. The number reduces to 150-200 who play at the elite level in five university teams and four clubs – Seongnam, Gimhae, Incheon and the Army. The national league commences in March and ends in October.

The outfit had a busy end of 2022 as they played the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in November, the Nations Cup in December after which they went to Spain for practice games, returned home for only two days before heading out to India.

“We prepared for long which is why we have been successful here. Our players have got good individual skill, the team is strong but it will not be easy in the quarter-finals. I told the team to focus on basic skills like ball control, open receiving, how to get kick in attacking, how to defend. Our opposition here have very good skills. We are preparing for a better future. This competition is a good experience for the young boys. I hope they will have the confidence for the quarter-finals,” said the coach.

The hero of the Korean team in the shootouts, Kim feels the quarter-final is going to be tough. “Holland is the No 1 team in this tournament. We saw their group stage matches. They are the only team to have won every single group game. They are a very strong team, scoring plenty of goals,” said Kim.

The Netherlands have so far scored 22 goals – the second highest in the tournament after Australia – and are the only team apart from England to have not conceded even one goal. But they too are not taking South Korea for lightly. “We don’t underestimate them. We are really focussing on how to beat them. I didn’t expect them to beat Argentina. On paper Argentina is a better team. But in a tournament a lot of things can happen. Everything is possible. We saw yesterday South Korea is a really good team with penalty corner specialists,” said Dutch forward Thijs van Dam.

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Australian Open final Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Novak Djokovic: All you need to know | Tennis News

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After being denied thrice in his career at the Rod Laver Arena – by Rafael Nadal (2019) and Daniil Medvedev (2021-22) – Stefanos Tsitsipas finally cracked the code this time to make this first ever final at what he calls his ‘home Slam’. But in a bid to walk home, to Greece, with the biggest prize of his career, Tsitsipas would have to take down the toughest barrier at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic. Not only is the Serb a nine-time champion at the Melbourne Park, the two most telling stats that perfectly sums up his dominance in Australian Open is his 9-0 record in the final and his 27-0 record in this Slam since 2019. Not to forget, this is a man on a mission, eager to provide the fitting reply to the drama that unfolded last January and to level Nadal in etching his name in history.

Ahead of the blockbuster Australian Open final between nine-time champion Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Melbourne Park, we take a look at the head-to-head record, key stats and records in line for the match…

HEAD-TO-HEAD TIE:

Sunday’s tie will be their 13th ATP meeting between the two with Djokovic being the overwhelming favourite in the head-to-head record. Although it was Tsitsipas who had stunned the Serb in their very first meeting back in 2018 Canadian Open, and then again in the Shanghai Masters in the following year, Djokovic silenced the Greek winning all the next nine matches, including two at the Grand Slam level, both of which were at the Roland Garros.

Seven of these 12 meetings have been on hard court and Djokovic leads 5-2. However, Tsitsipas has won two of their three meetings on outdoor hardcourt.

This will also be their second meeting in a major final. Tsitsipas has gone down from a two-set lead in the 2021 French Open final to lose 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

BATTLE FOR NO.1 RANKING:

Three players – Casper Ruud, Djokovic, Tsitsipas – had set out to topple injured Carlos Alcaraz from the world no.1 spot in the ATP rankings. It is now down to the final two and with them reaching the summit clash, Alcaraz’s 20-week run ends on Monday as the winner of the Australian Open trophy will emerge as the new world no.1. The loser will be third in the world.

If Djokovic wins, he will ascend to the top spot in ATP rankings for the first time since June 6. He has already spent a record 373 weeks as World No. 1 across his career. For Tsitsipas, it will be first such feat in his career.

KEY STATS:

On reaching his 33rd Grand Slam final, already a record in itself in the Open Era in men’s singles tennis, Djokovic became the fourth oldest male player in the Open Era to reach the final at the Australian Open, younger only than Ken Rosewall (1972 and 1971), Mal Anderson (1972) and Roger Federer (2018). The 35-year-old presently has a 21-11 record in Grand Slam finals.

The win against Tommy Paul in the semis also took Djokovic past Andre Agassi’s long-standing tally of 26 wins as he now holds the record of longest men’s singles main draw winning streak at the Australian Open in the Open Era. Djokovic hasn’t lost a match at the Australian Open since 2019 and owns a 9-0 record in the final at the Melbourne Park.

This will be Tsitsipas’ second appearance in a Grand Slam final and he became only the youngest male player to reach the final at the Australian Open since Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray who faced each other in 2011.

RECORDS IN LINE:

Djokovic will be aiming for not one but two of Nadal’s most glorious feats in Open Era tennis. With the elusive trophy on Sunday night, Djokovic will level The Spaniard’s record tally of 22 Grand Slam titles, the most ever in men’s singles tennis. He will also become the second player after Nadal to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam, joining the 36-year-old’s tally of 14 French Open hauls.

Lifting his maiden Grand Slam trophy, Tsitsipas will become the first singles player from Greece to achieve this feat.


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Australian Open final: How Tsitsipas can defeat the indomitable Djokovic | Tennis News

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After thrashing Alex de Minaur in the fourth-round tie earlier this week, nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was asked on the remainder of the draw. Of the seven men left, he narrowed it down to just Stefanos Tsitsipas, but for Djokovic, their only ever Grand Slam final meeting, at the 2021 French Open, had faded into oblivion.

“Tsitsipas [is] probably the most experienced guy out of all the quarterfinalists. He has played the final stages of a Grand Slam quite a few times. I think he has never played a final. Am I wrong?” asked Djokovic.

On being reminded by the journalist, he smirked and said, “That’s right. Sorry, my bad.”

In the context of their second Grand Slam final meeting, and first ever tie at the Australian Open, one could call it mind games. But for a player so has incurred just two losses in a Grand Slam since 2021 and only two on the tour since May last year, it could be rightfully down to the Serb’s sheer forgetfulness. Tsitsipas’ loss from two-set lead in Roland Garros is part of his indomitable Slam streak. Add to that Djokovic’s 9-0 record in the Australian Open final, 27-0 record in Melbourne Park since 2019 and 9-2 head-to-head record against the Greek and the 24-year-old has one of the toughest barriers to break in a bid to claim his maiden Grand Slam title.

But here stands Tsitsipas, the only man, of the 63 others, from his section of the draw, standing between Djokovic and his unprecedented 10th title at Rod Laver Arena, having reached the final by playing his career-best tennis. He sure has the weaponry to pull off an upset in the final, but against an opponent of this stature, Tsitsipas needs to be flawless with his skill, consistent with his aggression and poised from the inside. Ahead of the blockbuster meeting in the Australian Open final on the Rod Laver Arena, we take a tactical dive into the factors that could help Stefanos Tsitsipas beat nine-time champion Novak Djokovic

“Stefanos should call Daniil!”

When Karen Khachanov was asked about how Tsitsipas could beat Djokovic, moments after his semifinal loss to the third seed, the Russian was apt in pointing out that “nobody from that generation beat him, except Daniil I think in the US Open final,” before cheekily adding, “Maybe Stefanos has to call to Daniil to ask him what he did that day (smiling). I don’t know if that’s going to happen…”

It is unlikely that Tsitsipas would give the 2021 US Open winner a call, given their on-court tensions, during their rivalry meetings, which is well-documented. But it wouldn’t harm the Greek to keep aside his differences and revisit Medvedev’s winning strategy at the Flushing Meadows.

Bouncing back the thrashing he received from Djokovic in the Australian Open final at the start of that year, Medvedev decided to change his plan and overload the Serb’s Ad court with umpteen backhand-to-backhand exchanges, although much of that tactic also relied on the Russian’s ultra-flat backhand which gave Djokovic nothing to work with.

Pull a leaf out of Holger Rune’s book

The only player to have troubled Djokovic since last May, apart from Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarters, was the young Holger Rune. And it was Djokovic during his best run in 2022 and at one of his most favourite venues, the Paris Bercy. On back of titles in Tel Aviv and Astana, Djokovic had reached his eighth final in Paris Masters, hoping to add a seventh title to his name at Bercy. But his run was halted by an aggressive Rune who used a rather risky approach in scripting a turnround in the match and it was all down to his serve.

The Danish used the Serve + 1 forehand approach which handed his 16 of the 18 points. The strategy allowed him to unsettle Djokovic by taking time away from him.

One of the crucial factors that could alleviate Tsitsipas’ chances of beating Djokovic for the first time in 10 meetings is sheer aggression – willingness to keep the rallies short, not allow Djokovic from settling into long rallies and baseline exchanges, and come to the net as often as possible.

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Germany vs Belgium, Hockey World Cup 2023 Final Live Streaming: How to watch | Hockey

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Germany will take on Belgium in the final of FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 on Sunday. Belgium are the defending champions and have won the title only once while Germany have done it twice. A nail-biting contest is on the cards as both Belgium and Germany have been undefeated in the tournament thus far.

Belgium are currently ranked No.2 in the world while Germany are just one spot below at No.3. Going by recent head-to-head record, Belgium have the upper hand as they have beaten their opponent 10 times in 16 matches that they played against each other since mid-2017. The two teams squared off in the group stages of the ongoing tournament and drew 2-2.

Both teams have got some brilliant players who have delivered at the big stage. Belgium’s Tom Boon is the second highest goal scorer in the tournament, having scored seven goals. While Germany also have Niklas Wellen who has found the net on six occasions.

Here are the live streaming details

When will the Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final take place?

The Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final will take place on Sunday, January 29, 2023.

Where will the Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final be played?

The Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final will be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

What time will the Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final start?

The Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final will start at 7:00 PM IST.

Which TV channels will broadcast Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final?

The Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final will be on broadcast on the Star Sports First, Star Sports Select 2 and Star Sports Select 2 HD TV channels in India.

Where can I watch the live streaming of Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final?

The live streaming of Germany vs Belgium Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 final will be available on Disney+ Hotstar app and website. FanCode will also be streaming the matches in India for free.


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