Month: May 2020

High stakes in Djokovic-Federer U.S. Open final shootout

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first_imgBy Larry FineIt will be number one versus number two in the U.S. Open men’s final on Sunday (11pm), a seismic grand slam title match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer that transcends the world rankings.Both players burn with heaps of motivation to hoist the winner’s trophy at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the last grand moment of the 2015 slam season.Second seed Federer, who won five consecutive U.S. Open titles from 2004 and was runner-up in 2009, reigns on top of the all-time list for grand slam titles with 17.At the advanced age of 34 the Swiss is playing great and glowing with a desire to win his first grand slam title since his triumph at Wimbledon in 2012.Djokovic has ascended to the clear number one, but is not number one in the hearts of the New York fans. That distinction rests with the Swiss, who is still the darling of Flushing Meadows, while the Serb longs to be loved.The 28-year-old Djokovic is gunning for his third grand slam title of the year, which would replicate the dominance of his 2011 season.Both players have had brilliant years. Djokovic has compiled a 56-5 season with six titles. Federer is 45-7 and won five times. Their career head-to-head is 21-20 in Federer’s favour.Djokovic, the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, has won nine slam singles and will be playing in his sixth Flushing Meadows final.But Djokovic has won just one U.S. title (2011) from his five previous finals and the pressure is mounting to cash in on opportunity.“I came here with a wish and a mission, to reach the finals and fight for the trophy,” said Djokovic. “So I got myself in that position. It’s already a great result. But I want to get that final step on Sunday and get my hands on that trophy.”Their personal series further promotes the likelihood of a pitched battle at Arthur Ashe Stadium, with Federer’s victory over Djokovic in the final of last month’s Cincinnati hard court tune-up to the U.S. Open edging him ahead in their series.But Federer has a deeper wound to avenge, having lost in the 2015 Wimbledon final to the Serb.“I didn’t quite agree that I played a poor final,” he said about their clash at the All England Club. “I think I played OK in the final,” he insisted. “I just think Novak played a really good final. He was super tough and he deserved it at the end.”The Swiss has not lost a set in his march to a seventh U.S. final and his pointedly aggressive approach has served to shorten points and keep the veteran fresh.Federer has even mixed in a “sneak attack,” wherein he occasionally comes up uncomfortably close on a second serve to put his opponent under immediate pressure.“Now that I have been able to do it also against Stan (Wawrinka), definitely gives me confidence that maybe I can also do it against Novak this way,” Federer said after a semi-finals rout of his compatriot.Djokovic did not sound like a big fan of the tactic.“He tried that in Cincinnati. It worked a couple of times. It’s exciting shot for him. For the player opposite side of the net, not so much,” he said.Federer expects a hard-fought match and does not anticipate surprises from Djokovic.“That’s what I like about the rivalry. I don’t know how it is for him, but I feel like he doesn’t need to adjust his game as much, either,” said Federer.“I think it’s just a straight shootout, and I think that’s the cool thing about our rivalry.“We both can handle each other’s (weapons) – whatever we present to one another, and I think our matches, it’s very even.”last_img

Three mixed men’s teams advance to finals

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first_imgThe preliminary finals saw three teams advance through to the finals next Wednesday (June 29).As predicted for the premier mixed division, Kamuna has secured the spot after beating Mona while Veupunama 2 grabbed the social A mixed spot after thrashing BSP 2. Graffiti is in for the social B mixed after edging out Aura Netters.The grand finals will be played next Wednesday with Lasi 2 taking on Graffiti in the social B while in the social A division, PNGFP will clash with Veupunama 2. The main game of the competition will be between Veupunama 1 and Kamuna in the premier mixed division.President of the PNG Mixed Men’s Netball Association Adam Parker thanked all the participating teams. He congratulates the teams who made it through to the finals as he urged the teams to prepare for season two in August.last_img

Williams & Wozniacki into WTA final

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first_imgWozniacki has enjoyed a fine season having reached seven finals but she has the chance to claim the biggest title of her career after a 7-6 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova on Saturday in the opening semi-final.The Dane lost in the final of this even in Doha in 2010 and has also suffered defeat in two US Open finals but she continued her week in Singapore with a dominant display to end Pliskova's season and year-end no 1 dream.With Halep already knocked out of the tournament, Pliskova was the only player who could prevent the Romanian ending the year at the top of the rankings but having lost her final group game she folded again against Wozniacki.The Danish sixth seed claimed an epic first set tie break by 11-9 before getting the better of a second set that featured five breaks of serve to eventually close out the match with a 7-6 6-3 victory."That was a little bit crazy. It was a rollercoaster," said Wozniacki."I'm just happy I got that first set under my belt. I've been playing really great tennis this week so to be in the finals, it means a lot to me."Standing in Wozniacki's way will be 37-year-old Venus Williams who also has the chance to put a host of near misses this season behind her.The older of the Williams sisters is without a title in 2017 but has enjoyed a fine year despite losing in the final of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open as well as reaching the last four at the US Open.She battled back from losing a first set tie-break against Caroline Garcia to reach a third year-end final of her career and in doing so become the oldest ever woman to do so.Williams beats the benchmark set by Martina Navratilova who reached the final aged 36 in 1992 and will now take on Wozniacki for a second WTA Finals title having won it nine years ago in 2008."It's hard to produce your best tennis at the end of the year because you've given so much but it's so important to do that in this tournament," Williams said."It's amazing to almost be standing in the winner's circle. It's not over till the fat lady sings and I'm not fat. I watch my figure."Garcia was the form player coming into the event having won back-to-back titles in China to claim the final spot and looked on course to continue the journey when she bossed the first set tie-break.But Williams hit back brilliantly to claim her place in the final with a 6-7 6-2 6-3 success and remain on course for a landmark title.last_img

Kumuls to return home tomorrow

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first_imgMedia manager, Joanna Lester, says the Kumuls will touch down in Port Moresby at 12pm.Only four teams remain in the contest for the ultimate prize in international rugby league.England will play Tonga at Mt. Smart Stadium, New Zealand, on Saturday, November 25. The semi-final will kick off at 6pm.In the other semi-final, Australia will clash with Fiji at Brisbane Stadium, Australia, on Friday, November 24, at 7pm.(Photo credit: NRL photos)last_img

Spurs would sell Kane to foreign club

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first_img26-year-old Kane signed a six-year contract with Spurs in June 2018.Last month, he said he would not stay at the north London club "just for the sake of it", and there are reports chairman Daniel Levy would be open to selling him for about $400 million.Manchester United are long-time admirers of the England captain.Tottenham were one of the first Premier League clubs to furlough staff in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with Levy warning that "people need to wake up to the enormity" of the crisis.There are suggestions that because of financial worries, Levy would sanction Kane's sale if the fee was in the region of the world record $400m Paris St-Germain paid Barcelona to sign Brazil forward Neymar in 2017.However, there is uncertainty over the summer transfer market given the present shutdown of football across Europe, with all the major clubs facing a financial headache.last_img

Liverpool to meet Leicester in Cup, West Brom host Man City

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first_imgEight-times winners Liverpool were paired with Leicester City when the draw for the third round of the English League Cup was made in Beijing today Thursday.Liverpool’s trip to face three-times winners Leicester at King Power Stadium for their first match of the competition this year was one of four all-Premier League ties.West Bromwich Albion host four-times winners Manchester City, Bournemouth play Brighton and Hove Albion, and Crystal Palace host Huddersfield Town.Manchester United, who beat Southampton in last year’s final, start their defence of the trophy at home to second tier Burton Albion.The seven Premier League sides involved in European competition all entered the draw at the third round.Former European champions Nottingham Forest, who won the League Cup four times in the Brian Clough era, were rewarded for their 3-2 second round upset of the Premier League’s Newcastle United with a trip to Chelsea.Twice winners Wolverhampton Wanderers also dispatched Premier League opposition in round two, beating Southampton 2-0, and were drawn at home to third tier Bristol Rovers.Burnley striker Chris Wood, who joined the Premier League club this week and made his debut in the second round win over Blackburn Rovers, will be heading back to his former club Leeds United in the third round.In other ties, Arsenal host Doncaster Rovers while north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur face a wait for their tie after being drawn against Derby County or Barnsley, who play their second round tie on Sept. 19.The remainder of the third round ties will be played over the week commencing Sept. 18.The competition is sponsored this year by Carabao Energy Drink, which is manufactured by a company based in Bangkok. The draw was moved to China earlier this week after previous draws held in the Thai capital were marred by problems.Carabao Cup third-round drawWest Brom v Manchester CityEverton v SunderlandLeicester v LiverpoolManchester United v BurtonBrentford v NorwichWolves v Bristol RoversBurnley v LeedsArsenal v DoncasterBristol City v StokeReading v SwanseaAston Villa v MiddlesbroughChelsea v Nottingham ForestWest Ham v BoltonCrystal Palace v HuddersfieldTottenham v Barnsley or DerbyBournemouth v BrightonTies to be played week commencing September 18.last_img

Cyclist Thomas voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year

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first_imgCyclist Geraint Thomas was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday, receiving British sport’s premier annual individual accolade in Birmingham as a reward for his remarkable Tour de France triumph.The Welshman, whose victory in cycling’s most prestigious race was the sixth by a British rider in seven years, topped the public vote ahead of Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and England soccer captain Harry Kane.Thomas was the first Welshman to win the award since soccer player Ryan Giggs in 2009.“I feel very lucky to have come into cycling when I did. I just went down to the local leisure centre for a swim and instead I rode my bike,” Thomas said.Although he had previously been a double Olympic champion on the track, he had lived in the shadow of four-times Tour de France winner Chris Froome in Team Sky until beating his team mate and defending champion in the 2018 race.“As a bike rider, I always focus on myself. Obviously, people want me to win, but hearing stories like Tyson (Fury)’s and Billy (Monger)’s, you realise that what we do does inspire people back home,” Thomas said.Fury amazingly beat the count after being knocked down in his world heavyweight title draw with Deontay Wilder while youngster Monger made an uplifting comeback to motor racing after having his legs amputated following a Formula 4 crash.The others short-listed for the award were triple European sprint champion Dina Asher-Smith, English cricket’s record test wicket taker James Anderson and double Olympic skeleton champion, Lizzy Yarnold.It completed a happy day for the 32-year-old Thomas at the end of an unsettling week in which Sky, sponsors of Team Sky, announced it would end its involvement with his team at the end of 2019.Thomas picked up a replica of the winner’s trophy from Tour de France organisers earlier on Sunday after the original was stolen from a cycling show.Gareth Southgate, who led England’s soccer men to the World Cup semi-finals, won coach of the year while the England women’s netballers who took Commonwealth Games gold won team of the year.Italian golfer Francesco Molinari, star of Europe’s Ryder Cup win and British Open champion, was voted World Sport Star of the Year.last_img

Rampant Wolves raid Wembley to hurt Spurs’ title hopes

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first_imgTOTTENHAM 1 WOLVES 3Tottenham Hotspur’s status as Premier League title chasers was seriously harmed on Saturday as they fell to a first defeat in seven league games, losing the lead to go down 3-1 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.Harry Kane fired a largely unimpressive Spurs side in front midway through the first half, picking the ball up from deep out wide, cutting inside and finding the top corner from outside the area with a sumptuous strike on his weaker left foot.The goal was Kane’s fourth in three league games but was not enough to see off the dogged visitors, who have taken points off some of the biggest teams such as Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in their return to the top flight.Nuno Espirito Santo’s side levelled in the 72nd minute with a towering header from a corner from French defender Willy Boly after a period of sustained pressure around Tottenham’s area.Mexican forward Raul Jimenez then gave them the lead in the 83rd minute and Helder Costa sealed the win with a counter-attack goal in the 87th.A first home defeat since late October leaves second-placed Tottenham six points adrift of Liverpool, who can widen that gap when they host Arsenal later on Saturday. Manchester City could reclaim second spot if they win at Southampton on Sunday. FULHAM 1 HUDDERSFIELD 0Fulham boosted their Premier League survival hopes after Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a stoppage time winner to give them a 1-0 win over bottom team Huddersfield Town at Craven Cottage on Saturday.The result lifted Fulham one place up to 18th on 14 points from 20 games, two more than Burnley who are at home to West Ham United in one of Sunday’s four fixtures. Huddersfield have 10 points after suffering their seventh successive defeat.Having had a bullet of a header saved by Jonas Lossl, who also kept out an Aboubakar Kamara penalty, Mitrovic delighted the home fans after taking a Ryan Sessegnon pass in his stride and firing it past the visiting keeper.Kamara will have been particularly relieved with the outcome as he snatched the ball away from Mitrovic to take the spot kick he earned after Chris Lowe handled the French forward’s attempt to control the ball.Kamara was booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball in the closing stages and just when it seemed he would be left to rue his ill-judged perseverance, Mitrovic spared his blushes with a superb finish.Huddersfield launched a dangerous raid at the other end and after Fulham cleared the danger, they launched a quick breakaway move with Sessegnon feeding Mitrovic to rifle the ball past Lossl from just inside the penalty box.LEICESTER 0 CARDIFF 1A 92nd-minute goal from midfielder Victor Camarasa and a penalty save from goalkeeper Neil Etheridge ensured Cardiff City beat Leicester City 1-0 for their first away victory of the Premier League season on Saturday.Claude Puel’s Leicester, carrying momentum from consecutive wins against Chelsea and Manchester City, dominated the early exchanges at the King Power Stadium and came close with long-range efforts from James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira.Leicester had their best chance of the first half in the closing stages when Jamie Vardy was slipped through by Maddison, only for the striker to shoot straight at Etheridge.The hosts looked certain to claim consecutive home wins for the first time this season when Maddison was clipped inside the box by defender Sean Morrison but they were denied thanks to Etheridge’s heroics.With Leicester supporters heading towards the exit, Camarasa curled the ball past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel from the edge of the box to secure a dramatic win for the Welsh side.The victory takes Neil Warnock’s Cardiff up to 16th place in the league standings, four points clear of the relegation zone. BRIGHTON 1 EVERTON 0Brighton & Hove Albion’s Dutch striker Juergen Locadia pounced just before the hour as they carved out a 1-0 home win against an unlucky Everton side who hit the woodwork twice in their Premier League clash on Saturday.After a pedestrian opening 45 minutes, tempers flared in the second half of Everton’s 4,500th game in the English top flight when their forward Richarlison went down injured and Brighton declined to put the ball out of play after winning it back.The home side took the lead in bizarre fashion as a Pascal Gross corner struck Everton midfielder Andre Gomes, with the ball dropping to Locadia who swivelled before smashing it home.The goal was initially disallowed as Locadia was in an offside position, but referee Andrew Madley reversed his decision after consulting his assistant, ruling that no Brighton player had touched the ball before Locadia struck.Despite having a tough afternoon against Brighton centre-backs Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk, Brazilian Richarlison almost hit back immediately for the visitors, but his wicked shot was deflected onto a post by keeper David Button.Kurt Zouma also hit the woodwork for Everton, sending his header from Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free kick onto the crossbar in the dying minutes as the Blues slumped to their fourth defeat in seven league games in December.WATFORD 1 NEWCASTLE 1Abdoulaye Doucoure came off the bench to bundle home the equaliser and then almost grab a winner as Watford secured a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at Vicarage Road in the Premier League on Saturday.The French midfielder was brought on at the start of the second half as Watford went all out to avoid a sixth home league defeat this season.Doucoure met Gerard Deulofeu’s cross with a superb header in the 82nd minute to set up a frantic final few minutes.Newcastle had led for much of the game after Salomon Rondon, who had been left out of their 4-0 defeat at Liverpool on Wednesday, headed home Matt Ritchie’s centre cross.The goal was Rondon’s fifth in eight league games and the Venezuelan almost had another soon after but this time his effort was disallowed for a fractional offside.Fifteenth-placed Newcastle looked on course to secure the league double over Javi Gracia’s inconsistent side before Doucoure, who has been heavily linked with a move away in January, struck the equaliser and then headed wide from four metres in injury time.last_img

German FA boss Grindel quits over expensive gift

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first_imgGerman Football Association President Reinhard Grindel resigned on Tuesday after apologising for accepting an expensive watch from a Ukrainian colleague as a gift, although he said he had not known its value.Grindel, who took over the world’s biggest sports federation by membership in 2016, had come under pressure over reports about income he received from a DFB subsidiary and about a watch he had been given by Ukrainian businessman and football administrator Grigory Surkis.“Everyone who knows me knows that I am not greedy. The price of the watch was 6,000 euros. I did not know the brand or its value at the time,” Grindel said in a brief statement to reporters.“Mr Surkis had no intention to use this with the DFB. He never asked me for any support. It was a private gift with no relation to the Ukraine federation or commercial enterprises. It was a matter of politeness to accept it.”“I cannot explain why I did not take action for swift clarity. I am stunned by my mistake. I resign as DFB president. I apologise for my less-than-exemplary action of accepting the watch.”The DFB, which will host the Euro 2024 tournament, said vice presidents Rainer Koch and Reinhard Rauball would be an interim solution until elections in September.Grindel, a former journalist and conservative CDU member of parliament, had also been in the spotlight after a Spiegel report identified a 78,000 euro income he had received from a DFB subsidiary that had not been made public.He is also a UEFA Executive committee member and a FIFA Council member. He took over at the DFB from Wolfgang Niersbach, who was forced to resign amid allegations of vote-rigging for the 2006 World Cup and a payment to world soccer’s governing body FIFA that led to a separate investigation.Grindel had virtually no international experience in football when he took over the role. But he oversaw the DFB-commissioned investigation in the 2006 affair that found no proof of vote-buying but could not explain the million-dollar payment via FIFA that eventually landed with a senior FIFA official.last_img

City title hopes in tatters as United take derby spoils

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first_imgManchester City’s Premier League title hopes were in tatters after suffering a 2-1 derby defeat at home to Manchester United on Saturday, leaving Pep Guardiola’s champions 14 points behind leaders Liverpool.Goals from Marcus Rashford (penalty) and Anthony Martial put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side 2-0 up at the break and City only pulled one back in the 85th minute through Nicolas Otamendi.While over half the season remains to be played it is hard to see a scenario where Liverpool throw away this huge advantage, particularly given the way Guardiola’s side are struggling to get anywhere close to the performance levels of their back-to-back title campaigns.This was City’s fourth defeat of the season and 32 points marks Guardiola’s worst return after the first 16 matches of a top-flight season in his managerial career.For United, now up to fifth and within eight points of City, it was the finest Premier League win for their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and capped a perfect week after they beat Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham on Wednesday.United were a constant threat on the counter-attack with the pace of the front three but crucially showed organisation and resilience to cope with City’s inevitable response after the break.Remarkably though, United could have had the game wrapped up inside half hour, given the amount of chances they created as they swept aside City in midfield and exposed their shaky defence.Daniel James and Martial tested City keeper Ederson in the early stages before Rashford, in a rich vein of form, engineered the opener.A VAR review ruled that Bernardo Silva had brought down Rashford inside the box and the United striker kept his cool to convert from the spot.PROMISING POSITIONRashford missed a good chance to double the lead, curling wide from a promising position and with United ripping open the City defence the England forward struck the bar with a lofted shot from the edge of the box.The second goal wasn’t long in coming, however, Martial squeezing home a low, left-foot shot after a swift exchange with Dan James.City felt they should have had a penalty before the break when Fred slid in to block a low pull-back from Kyle Walker with the home players feeling the ball struck his arm but the VAR review backed referee Anthony Taylor’s judgement.Guardiola’s side were on top for most of the second half but when they did manage to break down United’s back line, Spanish keeper David De Gea kept them at bay.On the hour, Victor Lindelof was caught dawdling on the ball in the area and robbed by Raheem Sterling inside box but the forward overdid his dribble across the area and the chance evaporated.Four minutes later Rodri let fly from the edge of the box and his effort took a deflection but somehow De Gea managed to reach back to tip over the bar.Five minutes from the end, Otamendi headed in a Riyad Mahrez cross after a corner, powering the ball in with real determination and the Etihad came alive.The prompted a late scramble for an equaliser but once again the inspired De Gea was able to get down to keep out their most dangerous effort, a low shot from substitute Mahrez.United’s Brazilian midfielder Fred appeared to be struck by an object thrown from the crowd while taking a corner in the second half, with reports that he and Jesse Lingard were subjected to racial abuse.last_img