Not much fazes Roberta Vinci after 16 years on Tour but the maelstrom swirling around her opening match in Stuttgart against Maria Sharapova will test even the Italian’s vast experience.Her 946th singles might ordinarily have been one to chalk off and forget about but standing over the other side of the net on Wednesday will be the former world number one on her return from a 15-month doping ban.Whatever else is happening on any other tennis court in the world will become irrelevant as Russian multi-millionaire Sharapova, who turned 30 last week, resumes a career that made her the world’s richest sportswoman.Debate still rages about Sharapova’s crime and punishment.While some say the five-time grand slam champion, initially banned for two years after testing positive for Meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, has done her time some fellow players are angry the red carpet is being rolled out.With no ranking after such a long period without swinging her racket in anger, Sharapova could have been forced to work her way back from the lower rungs of the tennis ladder.Instead, with tournament chiefs and sponsors well aware of her ticket-selling appeal she has been handed wildcards into the claycourt events in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome.It is not an arrangement Vinci approves of. “My personal opinion is (I do) not agree about wild cards… about Rome, about other tournaments,” she said in a press conference at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.”She is a great player – I don’t have nothing against her. She made her mistakes for sure. She can return to play, but without wild cards. I know (Sharapova) is important for the WTA, for tennis, for everything. She is a great person, a great champion. My personal opinion is this.”advertisementFormer world number one Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska have also cried foul, believing a player returning from a doping ban should have to do it the hard way.Sharapova, whose defence was that she had not realised Meldonium had been added to a list of banned substances at the start of 2016, insisted the substance is as common as aspirin in Russia where it is known as Mildronate.The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) agreed that Sharapova was not an intentional doper shortened her ban from two years to 15 months.While admitting her mistake, Sharapova has hardly been full of contrition and has criticised the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for failing to notify her that Meldonium, a medication she said she had used for a number of years to treat health issues, had indeed been flagged up by WADA as ‘performance enhancing’.Only last week Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud stoked the fires by saying the likes of Wozniacki and Radwanska were “journeyman” players hoping to benefit from Sharapova’s exclusion.Sharapova’s prospective second-round clash in Stuttgart against Poland’s Radwanska could be an awkward encounter.A decision is expected soon on whether the French Tennis Federation (FFT) will fast-track the 2012 and 2014 Roland Garros champion into the French Open draw. Her only other route is to win the Stuttgart title so that she can boost her ranking to enter French Open qualifying.What adds intrigue to Sharapova’s return is that it comes at a time with the WTA Tour reeling from the news that world number one and 23-times major champion Serena Williams will not play again this year after announcing she is pregnant.With twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova recovering from being stabbed, former number one Victoria Azarenka still to return from childbirth the cupboard looks a little bare when it comes to headline acts.So while Sharapova’s might get a lukewarm welcome in the locker room there is no question the money men will welcome her back with open arms, not least Porsche.The German sports car giant is the lead partner of the Stuttgart event and also sponsor Sharapova.
Juventus watching Tottenham youngster Troy Parrottby Paul Vegas2 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveJuventus are watching Tottenham youngster Troy Parrott.The Irish teen is yet to make a first team appearance for Mauricio Pochettino in the Premier League.The striker is being earmarked as one of Spurs’ most promising youngsters and there is hope he can break into the first team before the end of the season.Calciomercato says Juventus have been impressed by the youngster and will continue to monitor his development.The report claims the Bianconeri are interested in the Irishman and are deciding on whether to make a move when the transfer window reopens. TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
VANCOUVER – The New Democrats started the last full week of British Columbia’s election campaign by pushing a climate-change agenda while the Liberals put jobs at the top of their campaign bid to win votes.NDP Leader John Horgan attended a town hall meeting Monday with members of a climate leadership team the Liberal government had tasked in 2015 to advise them on climate-change recommendations.Prominent environmentalist Tzeporah Berman, who was a member of the climate-action team, said Monday she is endorsing the NDP because as premier, Liberal Leader Christy Clark didn’t follow the panel’s recommendations after hailing its work at a climate-change conference in Paris.Horgan said he would re-establish the team within the first 100 days in office if he wins the election on May 9 and would work to implement 32 recommendations that include an increase in the carbon tax to fight climate change.He said the NDP would introduce a federally mandated carbon price of $50 a tonne by 2022, but do it over three years, starting in 2020.“It’s going to be a gradual implementation and we’re going to make sure that almost 80 per cent of British Columbians will get some form of a rebate so they can have less money out of their pocket than before,” he said.The plan calls for low- and middle-income families to get a rebate cheque intended to mitigate increases in the carbon tax.Berman said Green party Leader Andrew Weaver’s climate-action plan is also strong but that the NDP’s agenda is more robust, with initiatives to create jobs in the mining, agriculture and forestry sectors.“Under Christy Clark, the B.C. Liberals have focused on trying to increase fracked gas and LNG. Now our greenhouse gas emissions are going up.”Berman said she met with Clark after the task force was convened in June 2015 and the Liberal leader seemed serious about implementing climate-change initiatives that would take into account affordability and a strong economy.However, the plan the party introduced last August will allow climate pollution to increase for the next 10 to 14 years, Berman said.The carbon tax was launched in 2008 by then-premier Gordon Campbell but Clark froze it when she took office three years later.The tax sits at $30 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions though Berman’s team had called for a $10 increase starting in 2018.Clark told a crowd at a Vancouver biotech firm on Monday that the biggest threat facing the province is U.S. President Donald Trump and his anti-trade rhetoric.When asked by reporters about Berman’s claims, Clark said the Liberals accepted many of the panel’s recommendations.“We did not, though, accept the key recommendation in the minds of some of the folks from the environmental movement, which is that we double the carbon tax,” she said.“Is now the time to double the carbon tax, to hike business taxes, to hike personal income taxes, when we are facing a rising tide of protectionism and a tax-cutting government down south of the border? I think it would be disastrous for jobs in our province.”Clark said British Columbia remains a leader on climate change.“Nobody else in North America is paying a $30-a-tonne carbon tax, nobody,” she said. “And we should be very proud of our leadership position. As other people catch up we’ll be in a position to rethink that policy. But we are going to freeze it.”— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
New Delhi: India’s northern and eastern states saw a rapid decline in usable groundwater between 2005 and 2013, raising an impending risk of severe droughts, food crisis, and drinking water scarcity for millions of people, researchers have found.A team from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, West Bengal and Athabasca University, Canada, compiled the first estimates of usable groundwater storage (UGWS) at the state-level across all of India using both in situ and satellite-based measurements. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Groundwater-level data was used from 3,907 in situ monitoring wells across the country and the total UGWS was estimated between 2005 and 2013. The estimate shows rapid depletion of UGWS in Assam, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. In these areas, increases in agricultural food productions have resulted at the cost of non-renewable loss in groundwater volume at an alarming rate, the researchers wrote in the study published in the journal Advances in Water Resources. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KOn the other hand, southern and western Indian states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chattisgarh show replenishing usable groundwater storage trends. Earlier works by the government agencies have only been able to estimate the total groundwater, only a part of which is usable for human purposes, said lead researcher Abhijit Mukherjee, Associate Professor Hydrogeology, Department of Geology and Geophysics, IIT Kharagpur. “The estimates show rapid depletion of usable groundwater storage during 2005-2013 in most of northern parts, losing 8.5 cubic kilometre per year (km3/year) of total groundwater, and eastern parts which lost 5 km3/year of total groundwater,” Mukherjee told PTI. He emphasised that more than 85 per cent of the groundwater usage in India is linked with irrigation abstraction practices. India is the largest user of groundwater in the world. It uses an estimated 230 km3 of groundwater per year — over a quarter of the global total. Groundwater being an essential natural resource for irrigational water supply during non-monsoonal months, large-scale depletion could have unforeseen consequences in future food security, said Mukherjee. “Underground water is definitely declining in Rajasthan at faster rate. There are pockets in UP which have seen a dip in groundwater table as well,” agreed Dr N C Ghosh, former Head of Hydrology, National Institute of Hydrology (NIH), Roorkee, who was not involved in the study. The problem, Ghosh said, is compounded by over-exploitation of the ground water. “About 85 per cent of rural drinking water needs and 65 per cent of irrigation needs and 50 per cent of urban drinking water and industrial needs are fulfilled from the ground water,” he said. Mukherjee noted that rapid depletion in UGWS would accelerate the decline in food production and availability of drinking water, two of the prime goals of achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. “More than 120 million people would get affected only in the Gangetic states,” he said. The study combined borehole data from Central Ground Water Board, rainfall data and satellite data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a pair of satellites launched in 2002. A northeastern state like Assam, which was regarded always as water-affluent, has lost two per cent of its usable groundwater resource, and is at the brink of suffering drought and famine in impending years, said researchers, including first author Soumendra N Bhanja from Department of Geology and Geophysics, IIT Kharagpur. PTI