Hot Spurs in Europa comeback, Porto and Napoli win

first_imgBy Toby DavisEMMANUEL Adebayor scored twice in four minutes as Tottenham Hotspur overturned a two-goal aggregate deficit to beat 10-man Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3-2 over two legs on Thursday to reach the last 16 of the Europa League.It was a painful return to London for Tottenham’s former coach Juande Ramos whose side took the lead on the night through Roman Zozulya.Forward Zozulya was then sent off in the 62nd minute, six minutes after Christian Eriksen had levelled, and Adebayor grabbed his quickfire double to give twice UEFA Cup winners Spurs a 3-1 second-leg victory.Nabil Ghilas, of twice former champions Porto, netted in the 86th minute to secure a 3-3 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt, the Portuguese side going through on away goals after the tie ended 5-5 on aggregate.Napoli, with coach Rafa Benitez attempting to win back-to-back Europa Leagues after picking up the trophy with Chelsea last season, and Ludogorets also came out on top in thrilling second-leg matches.The Serie A team scored two late goals to beat Swansea City 3-1 on the night and on aggregate while Bulgarians Ludogorets ousted Lazio after an 88th-minute goal from Juninho Quixada gave them a 3-3 home draw and a 4-3 win overall.Ramos looked on course for revenge over the club that sacked him five years ago when his Dnipro team took the lead on the night through Zozulya who headed in unmarked early in the second half.Joy soon turned to despair for the Spanish coach, who led Tottenham to their last trophy when they won the English League Cup in 2008, as Eriksen scored with a free kick and Zozulya saw red for appearing to head-butt defender Jan Vertonghen.Tottenham were then firmly in command and Adebayor converted an Eriksen cross from close range on 65 minutes before grabbing his second after collecting a long-ball and finishing with a clever flick.The Togo striker now has 11 goals from his last 15 games, making it harder to see why he was left out earlier in the season under former manager Andre-Villas Boas before being brought back into the fold by new boss Tim Sherwood.“I’m very glad to be back scoring goals and happy with my team,” Adebayor told ITV Sport.“I have to keep focused and keep going. I want to say thank you to the new manager who came in and gave me my stage to perform.”Porto looked to be heading out when they trailed 2-0 in Frankfurt, Stefan Aigner prodding the German side ahead from close range and Alexander Meier converting a cross to double the lead.Two second-half headers from defender Eliaquim Mangala made it 2-2 and levelled the tie 4-4 on aggregate.Eintracht regained the advantage through Meier but Ghilas latched on to a loose ball when keeper Kevin Trapp could only parry a shot and slid the ball into the empty net to give the visitors an away-goal victory.Ludogorets had won the first leg against Lazio 1-0 but were quickly behind in the return game when Balde Diao Keita bundled the ball into the net after a minute and Brayan Perea converted an Ogenyi Onazi pass to make it 2-0 on the night early in the second half.Goals from Roman Bezjak and Hristo Zlatinski made it 2-2 but the Italians again looked set to advance when Miroslav Klose poked in a rebound with eight minutes remaining.Quixada then pounced on a long pass to flick the ball over the on-rushing Lazio keeper and put the hosts into the last 16.Napoli scored early through Lorenzo Insigne’s dinked finish but Swansea equalised through Jonathan de Guzman.Gonzalo Higuain’s predatory instincts then came to Benitez’s rescue as the Argentine swivelled and volleyed home with 12 minutes remaining before Napoli keeper Jose Reina pulled off a remarkable reflex save from Dwight Tiendalli’s header.Gokhan Inler netted deep into injury time to take the tie out of Swansea’s reach.Serie A champions Juventus comfortably beat Trabzonspor 2-0 in Turkey to progress after winning by the same scoreline in Italy last week while Benfica scored three goals in nine second-half minutes to beat PAOK Salonika 3-0 on the night, 4-0 overall.Salzburg, who won all six group matches earlier in the competition, thrashed Ajax Amsterdam 6-1 on aggregate after winning 3-1 in Austria in the second leg.Spanish club Real Betis secured a 3-1 aggregate victory over Russians Rubin Kazan, winning 2-0 away with Nono and Ruben Castro on target.Sevilla beat Slovenians Maribor 2-1 with goals from Jose Antonio Reyes and Kevin Gameiro to go through 4-3 on aggregate while Viktoria Plzen defeated Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 to advance 3-2 overall.Alexandre Lacazette scored in the 80th minute for Olympique Lyon against Chernomorets Odessa to progress 1-0 on aggregate and Fiorentina drew 1-1 at home to Esbjerg but went through 4-2 overall.last_img read more

Wenger gamble on Arsenal’s golden oldies pays off

first_imgBy Sam HoldenArsene Wenger took a risk by picking Arsenal’s old guard against West Ham United on Tuesday but it paid off with a 3-1 win as his weary side regained fourth place in the Premier League.The Frenchman fielded a team with an average age of 29 at the Emirates, with Olivier Giroud their youngest outfield player at 27, as he banked on his golden oldies to get a result.Wenger, renowned for developing young players, opted for a wealth of experience to overcome stubborn West Ham and wrestle back fourth place, and the last Champions League qualification spot, from Everton who are a point behind with a game in hand.“It was a gamble,” Wenger told a news conference. “I said before the game it was the oldest team that I have ever played at Arsenal since I’ve been here.”In fact he fielded an Arsenal team with an average age of 30 against Leeds United in 2003 but his point was valid.“I trusted the experience of the players,” said Wenger. “Tonight it was an unusual around 30 (years of age) team and that experience helps when your backs are against the wall.”Arsenal reached the FA Cup final on Saturday on penalties against second-tier holders Wigan Athletic but, without a win in four league games and with the semi-final having taken its toll, Wenger decided older heads were needed against West Ham.Goals from Lukas Podolski either side of a sublime Olivier Giroud finish secured the win for Arsenal, who fell behind to a Matt Jarvis header five minutes before halftime.It was Giroud’s strike, his 14th league goal this season, that especially pleased Wenger, who hailed the France striker’s mental toughness after a tame finish in the first half when played through on goal caused uproar amongst the home fans.“Olivier is a great guy with a great mentality,” Wenger said. “At halftime he came in and was very down because he missed a great chance but he responded well in the second because mentally he is a strong guy.”Giroud, who was dropped from the starting lineup against Wigan, held off the challenge of two defenders to deftly bring down Thomas Vermaelen’s long ball and strike his shot between West Ham’s goalkeeper Adrian’s legs.“It was a perfect first touch,” the Arsenal manager said. “What I like is that he used his upper body first to make some space and despite that he managed to have a great first touch, and he finished well.“He’s come through a difficult period. I think it affected his game for a while and his confidence. Tonight you could see that he was refreshed and up for it.”Arsenal now have 67 points and four games left, one ahead of Everton who host Crystal Palace on Wednesday, and they will be confident they can hold off the challenge of their rivals who have more difficult fixtures in their remaining five games.“We know we have to win our games and hope Everton slip up somewhere,” Wenger told reporters. “Lets focus on our job. At the moment we can only do it (finish fourth) if we win all of our games, so let’s focus on that.”last_img read more

Teenager gatecrashes Serena and Federer party

first_imgBy Larry FineDespite boasting 34 grand slam singles titles between them, Serena Williams and Roger Federer were forced to share the spotlight with a 15-year-old at the U.S. Open on Tuesday as all three advanced to the second round.American wild card Catherine Bellis, the youngest player in the draw, took her place alongside the five-times U.S. champions by stunning 12th seeded Australian Open finalist Dominica Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-1 4-6 6-4.The second-seeded Federer, looking to extend his record men’s haul of slam titles to 18, posted a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (4) demolition of Australian Marinko Matosevic as the 33-year-old’s boyhood idol Michael Jordan of basketball fame looked on.“He was just my hero of all sports,” said Federer, who has collaborated with Jordan on a sneakers design. “Besides (Stefan) Edberg and (Boris) Becker being my tennis idols, I had Jordan as my all-sports idol.”Williams advanced 6-3 6-1 over unseeded fellow American Taylor Townsend as she followed Federer onto the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to cap the second day of the championships.Should she go on to win the tournament, the two-times defending champion would join Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in fourth place on the all-time list of women’s grand slam singles champions with 18 titles apiece.“Hopefully, I can just build on this,” said Williams, who has had a disappointing slam season with her best result a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open back in January.Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22) and Helen Wills Moody (19) are the only three women to have won more grand slam titles.ENERGY JOLTOther leading contenders were keen to display their skills on a sunny day in Flushing Meadows.Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and runner-up Eugenie Bouchard launched their Open campaigns with a bang, blasting by their respective first-round opponents with a minimum of fuss.They were joined in the second round by eighth-seeded former world number one Ana Ivanovic, 11th-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta, 16th seed Victoria Azarenka and 2011 champion Sam Stosur, but the biggest jolt of energy was supplied by Bellis.Playing on the secondary Court Six, the teenager added her name to the record books by becoming the youngest female to win a match at the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova in 1996.“I went into the match thinking it was going to be such a great experience,” said the pony-tailed Bellis, who received her wild card when she became the youngest player to win the girls’ 18s national championships since Lindsay Davenport in 1991.“But I never thought I would come out on top winning. I’m still in shock about that match.”Third-seeded Kvitova of the Czech Republic crushed Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-1 6-0, while Bouchard was nearly as efficient in dismissing Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2 6-1 in the afternoon sunshine.“I’m very happy. First round is always nerves,” said the hard-hitting Kvitova, who won the lead-in tournament in New Haven last weekend. “It was the same today. When I wake up, I start to feel nervous. I was just glad how I played today.”BOUCHARD CONFIDENTKvitova fell at the first hurdle here after winning her first Wimbledon crown in 2011.“The other grand slams are a big challenge for me right now. I remember 2011 when I lost my first round after winning Wimbledon, so I’m just glad that I’m better already,” she said with a smile.The 20-year-old Bouchard, the only woman to reach the semi-finals of the year’s first three majors, answered questions over her hardcourt form with an overwhelming win.Seventh-seeded Bouchard, who won one match in three events since losing to Kvitova at the All England Club last month as she was bothered by knee and hamstring injuries, ripped 19 winners and forced 24 errors from an outclassed Govortsova.“Obviously I would have liked more matches, but that’s the way it is sometimes,” said the aggressive baseliner.“I still feel very confident with myself.”Another seeded woman shown the exit was former French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova (20th) of Russia, who lost to 82nd-ranked Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 3-6 6-2 7-6 (3).On the men’s side, 10th seed Kei Nishikori of Japan, 13th-seeded American John Isner and 25th seed Ivo Karlovic of Croatia were among first-round winners.Nishikori shrugged off a recent toe injury to dismiss American wild card Wayne Odesnik, while Isner ousted compatriot Marcos Giron and Karlovic eliminated Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.Although five of eight U.S. men in action were eliminated, Sam Querrey gave local fans something to celebrate with a 6-2 4-6 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina. U.S. Open Men’s Singles Round 1 matches on Tuesday 2-Roger Federer (Switzerland) beat Marinko Matosevic (Australia) 6-3 6-4 7-6(4)Samuel Groth (Australia) beat Albert Ramos (Spain) 6-3 7-6(5) 6-3Tim Smyczek (U.S.) beat Filip Krajinovic (Serbia) 4-6 6-3 6-2 7-6(5)4-David Ferrer (Spain) beat Damir Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 6-1 6-2 2-6 6-226-Gilles Simon (France) beat Radu Albot (Moldova) 6-3 6-4 6-220-Gael Monfils (France) beat Jared Donaldson (U.S.) 6-4 6-2 6-4Adrian Mannarino (France) beat Pere Riba (Spain) 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-212-Richard Gasquet (France) beat Denis Istomin (Uzbekistan) 7-5 7-6(5) 6-4Jan-Lennard Struff (Germany) beat Mikhail Kukushkin (Kazakhstan) 2-6 3-6 6-3 6-3 7-5Yoshihito Nishioka (Japan) beat Paolo Lorenzi (Italy) 1-6 2-6 1-2 (Lorenzi retired)Borna Coric (Croatia) beat 29-Lukas Rosol (Czech Republic) 6-4 6-1 6-2Victor Estrella (Dominican Republic) beat Igor Sijsling (Netherlands) 2-6 6-4 6-3 6-213-John Isner (U.S.) beat Marcos Giron (U.S.) 7-6(5) 6-2 7-6(2)15-Fabio Fognini (Italy) beat Andrey Golubev (Kazakhstan) 6-4 6-4 6-2Pablo Andujar (Spain) beat Jack Sock (U.S.) 6-4 3-6 6-1 0-0 (Sock retired)Sam Querrey (U.S.) beat Maximo Gonzalez (Argentina) 6-2 4-6 6-4 4-6 6-3Federico Delbonis (Argentina) beat Noah Rubin (U.S.) 6-4 6-3 6-0Marcel Granollers (Spain) beat Jurgen Melzer (Austria) 7-6(1) 6-3 6-225-Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) beat Jarkko Nieminen (Finland) 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-410-Kei Nishikori (Japan) beat Wayne Odesnik (U.S.) 6-2 6-4 6-228-Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) beat Lu Yen-Hsun (Taiwan) 6-4 6-2 6-2Bernard Tomic (Australia) beat Dustin Brown (Germany) 7-6(2) 6-4 7-6(3)Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) beat Dmitry Tursunov (Russia) 6-4 6-4 7-517-Roberto Bautista (Spain) beat Andreas Haider-Maurer (Austria) 5-7 7-6(1) 1-6 7-5 6-1U.S. Open Women’s Singles Round 1 matches on Tuesday 1-Serena Williams (U.S.) beat Taylor Townsend (U.S.) 6-3 6-13-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) beat Kristina Mladenovic (France) 6-1 6-0Vania King (U.S.) beat Francesca Schiavone (Italy) 6-3 3-6 6-3Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) beat Alison Van Uytvanck (Belgium) 7-5 6-2Mona Barthel (Germany) beat 32-Zhang Shuai (China) 6-1 6-224-Samantha Stosur (Australia) beat Lauren Davis (U.S.) 6-1 6-4Kaia Kanepi (Estonia) beat Pauline Parmentier (France) 7-6(3) 3-6 6-1Coco Vandeweghe (U.S.) beat Donna Vekic (Croatia) 2-6 6-3 6-115-Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) beat Ajla Tomljanovic (Australia) 3-6 6-2 6-111-Flavia Pennetta (Italy) beat Julia Goerges (Germany) 6-3 4-6 6-1Shelby Rogers (U.S.) beat Maryna Zanevska (Ukraine) 6-4 6-3Nicole Gibbs (U.S.) beat Caroline Garcia (France) 6-2 2-6 6-323-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) beat Teliana Pereira (Brazil) 6-2 6-029-Casey Dellacqua (Australia) beat Patricia Mayr-Achleitner (Austria) 7-5 6-3Wang Qiang (China) beat Paula Kania (Poland) 6-2 6-0Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) beat Yvonne Meusburger (Austria) 6-2 6-28-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) beat Alison Riske (U.S.) 6-3 6-0Petra Cetkovska (Czech Republic) beat Klara Koukalova (Czech Republic) 6-1 2-6 6-3Aleksandra Krunic (Serbia) beat Katarzyna Piter (Poland) 6-4 6-127-Madison Keys (U.S.) beat Jarmila Gajdosova (Australia) 6-0 6-3Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) beat 20-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) 3-6 6-2 7-6(3)Elena Vesnina (Russia) beat Chan Yung-Jan (Taiwan) 6-0 7-5Christina Mchale (U.S.) beat Chanelle Scheepers (South Africa) 6-2 1-6 7-6(5)16-Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) beat Misaki Doi (Japan) 6-7(3) 6-4 6-1Catherine Bellis (U.S.) beat 12-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) 6-1 4-6 6-4Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan) beat Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) 6-1 6-2Polona Hercog (Slovenia) beat Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) 6-2 7-6(4)17-Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) beat Grace Min (U.S.) 6-4 6-230-Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) beat Ashleigh Barty (Australia) 6-1 6-3Monica Niculescu (Romania) beat Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) 6-7(5) 6-1 7-5Sorana Cirstea (Romania) beat Heather Watson (Britain) 6-1 6-17-Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) beat Olga Govortsova (Belarus) 6-2 6-1last_img read more

Vettel to replace Alonso at Ferrari in 2015

first_imgBy Alan BaldwinSebastian Vettel looked forward to following in Michael Schumacher’s Formula One footsteps after Ferrari confirmed on Thursday that the four-time world champion would replace Fernando Alonso next season on a three-year deal.The long-awaited news, an open secret since the German announced in October that he was leaving Red Bull, formally ended a five-year love affair with double world champion Alonso that frustrated both sides.Vettel will partner Finland’s 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who has a year remaining on his contract.“The next stage of my Formula One career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true,” said Vettel.“When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari,” added the 27-year-old, who took his first Formula One win in a Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso at Monza in 2008.Compatriot Schumacher won five of his seven titles with Ferrari.“The Scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen,” said Vettel.Alonso is expected to return to McLaren, the team he spent a torrid season with in 2007 before falling out with current overall head Ron Dennis.Ferrari announced the news in two separate statements, the first declaring their relationship with Alonso to be over and the second welcoming the sport’s youngest multiple champion.Alonso, who won his titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, had his hopes of taking a third championship with Ferrari repeatedly thwarted by Vettel and his own team’s lack of performance.The Spaniard leaves after a partnership that brought him 11 wins and 44 podiums.He came closest to the title in 2010, when he went into the final race as favourite only for a team strategy error to gift the title to Vettel. The German then began a run of four championships in a row.Alonso was runner-up in 2012 and 2013 but Ferrari have not won a race since the Spaniard was triumphant in Barcelona in May last year and are staring at their first season without a victory since 1993.“Today is not an easy one for me, because even if I always look to the future with great enthusiasm and determination, at the end of this season my journey as a Ferrari driver will come to an end,” he said.“It was a difficult decision to take, but a carefully considered one and from start to finish, my love for Ferrari was a prime consideration.“I have always been lucky enough to make my own decisions about my future and I have that possibility now too,” added the 33-year-old.Alonso, who said he was proud of his achievements with Ferrari, is one of very few drivers to choose to leave Formula One’s most glamorous team. The Spaniard had signed a contract to the end of 2016 and had talked of extending that.last_img read more

Barça-fever grips Cyprus as APOEL host Catalan giants

first_imgBy Andreas VouIn one of the most eagerly-anticipated games in the history of Cypriot football, APOEL host FC Barcelona at the GSP Stadium for Matchday Five of the Champions League.The issues of foreclosures, privatisations and breach of its exclusive economic zone are temporarily put aside as the arrival of Lionel Messi and co. takes over as the most-talked about topic on the island.While Barcelona are strong favourites, APOEL will take the first meeting between the two sides in the opening group game as the blueprint for Tuesday’s match, where they narrowly lost out by a 1-0 scoreline. The Cypriot champions defended astutely against one of the best forward lines in the game and created good chances to grab an equaliser right up until the last minute, only to be stopped by Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barcelona goal.Another narrow defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in APOEL’s last Champions League match made it mathematically impossible for them to reach the next round of the competition but still hold hopes of finishing third in the group which would see them progress to the knockout phase of the Europa League.Giorgos Donis’ men currently lie bottom of Group F, one point behind Ajax who they will face in the final group match on December 10 in the Dutch capital. Therefore, a positive result for either side on Matchday 5 could make a significant difference ahead of the last match of the group.“It’s the biggest game of the year,” APOEL forward Gustavo Manduca told Balla.“We must try to enjoy it alongside our fans. We know that we must work hard, run a lot and be very organised. But ok, it’s just one game with three points at stake and we will try cause a surprise and gain points from this match.”APOEL welcome back left-back Marios Antoniades who missed the trip to Paris through injury but are sweating over the fitness of midfielder Vinicius who was forced off just after the hour mark of Friday’s 0-0 draw with Apollon.Barcelona, despite their superb start to the league campaign which saw them win seven of their first eight games without conceding a goal, have come under heavy criticism after two recent consecutive defeats which has seen them slip to second place, two points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid.Three straight wins since those defeats have begun to ease the pressure on the new manager while Lionel Messi geared up for Tuesday’s game with a hat-trick in Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing of Sevilla. With his three goals over the weekend, the Argentine becomes the Spanish league’s all-time top scorer, surpassing the great Telmo Zarra who scored 251 goals before retiring in 1955. Following his record-breaking goal, APOEL keeper Urko Pardo had a message for his former Barcelona B colleague via his Twitter account.“Congratulations Leo for this new record. Like myself, any fan of good football would be delighted for you. See you on Tuesday night.”There will be no shortage of motivation for Barcelona either, as they must win to keep their hopes of winning the group alive. Enrique’s side are currently one point behind PSG, who host Ajax at the Parc des Princes. Failure to beat APOEL, coupled with a win for the Parisians, will rule out any chance of Barcelona finishing top of the group.For APOEL, the objective remains the same – Donis’ disciplined and organised approach will aim to keep Barcelona at bay for as long as possible and pick its moments to strike on the counter, though Tuesday’s challenge will be like no other that his side have faced.last_img read more

Koutsokoumnis CFA head for seventh time

first_imgCostakis Koutsokoumnis was officially given the green light on Monday to serve his seventh consecutive term as head of the Cyprus Football Association (CFA).Koutsokoumnis, who ran unopposed for re-election, has held the post so far for 14 years and was approved by the CFA’s general assembly to serve until 2019.His election comes amid controversy following police investigations into referee-turned-whistleblower Marios Panayi’s, charges of widespread match-fixing involving referees and the CFA. The investigations led to three cases referred to trial. Panayi named CFA deputy chairman Giorgos Koumas as the man pulling the strings.During his acceptance speech Koutsokoumnis said that it has been a difficult year for football and himself as a CFA chairman.“This year football was attacked, not only from the outside but also from within. Without essential evidence, we saw our sport vilified,” he said.last_img read more

Britain counting on Murrays to bring home Davis Cup

first_imgBy Martyn HermanBRITAIN will attempt to win the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years this weekend when they take on Belgium in Ghent, although if they do succeed the Scottish town of Dunblane could argue its name should be enscribed on the trophy.World number two Andy Murray and his brother Jamie, who grew up in Dunblane, have propelled Britain through the draw, with Andy churning out vital singles wins and teaming up with his elder sibling in the doubles.That is likely to be the scenario again at the Flanders Expo, beginning today, where despite 13,000 home fans trying to cheer Belgium to their first ever Davis Cup, Britain will start favourites.Twice grand slam champion Andy Murray is the class act of the final – a repeat of the 1904 match when the British Isles won 5-0 with brothers Laurence and Reggie Doherty starring.Murray’s commitment to the cause this year has been immense.The 2013 Wimbledon champion is undefeated, winning two singles against the United States in Glasgow in March.Against France in the quarter-finals at Queen’s Club, the Murrays joined forces to win the doubles with Andy winning both his singles in a 3-1 victory – the second against Gilles Simon when he was down on both knees with fatigue.Then came the semi-final against Australia, again in Glasgow, when the 28-year-old crushed Bernard Tomic, having won a gripping doubles five-setter with Jamie the previous day, to send Britain into the final for the first time since 1978.He flew into Belgium on Monday – a country on high alert after the Paris attacks – having lost two of his three matches at the ATP World Tour Finals last week.How he adapts to the quick switch to indoor clay will be crucial for Britain captain Leon Smith.“The reality is that if Andy gets injured or ill, then it would be a very difficult match to win,” Mark Cox, who played for Britain in the 1978 final, told Reuters.“Leon has done well to bond the team and get some performances from James Ward, well beyond what realistically would be expected.“But the whole run to the final has relied on Andy’s performances and it has been great to see Jamie rising to the challenge and becoming a force in doubles.”Roger Federer, who won the trophy for the first time last year for Switzerland, believes Murray will decide the tie.“Britain are the favourites, in my opinion, because they have Andy in the team,” he said.Federer, however, believes Belgium should not be dismissed, especially with world number 16 David Goffin in their ranks.“Belgium are at home. I really like Goffin, a great player. Good attitude. I feel like he’s the kind of guy that can handle pressure,” he said.Unheralded Kyle Edmund will make his Davis Cup debut for Britain when he faces Goffin in the opening rubber on Friday.The 20-year-old, ranked just 100th in the world, will join an elite group of players – including John McEnroe and Pete Sampras – to make their debuts in a final.Andy Murray will face off against Ruben Bemelmans in the second rubber of the best-of-five contest, before teaming up with Jamie to face Steve Darcis and Kimmer Coppelmans in doubles on the Belgian clay on Saturday.last_img read more

Serena survives scare to beat McHale in three-set thriller

first_imgSerena Williams composed herself after a first-set loss and a burst of anger to vanquish tenacious fellow American Christina McHale 6-7(7) 6-2 6-4 in a nail-biting second-round match at Wimbledon on Friday.The defending champion finally ran out a winner against the world number 65, marching on in her quest to emulate Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 grand slam singles titles.Williams thought she had won the first set and was walking back to her chair after a McHale forehand was called long with the world number one 5-4 and 40-30 up. To her chagrin, however, a Hawkeye challenge showed the ball brushing the baseline.McHale went on to win the game and force a tiebreak in which a rattled Williams made a string of errors, including two double faults, before burying a forehand into the net to lose the set.Furious as she sat down, she hammered her racket into the ground in frustration before hurling it behind her.But the 34-year-old put the disappointment behind her and showed the battling form that has won her six Wimbledon crowns to take the next two sets, closing out the two-and-a-half hour match with three aces.Round 38-Venus Williams (U.S.) beat 29-Darya Kasatkina (Russia) 7-5 4-6 10-812-Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) beat Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) 6-2 6-2Round 213-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) beat Tara Moore (Britain) 6-1 2-6 6-31-Serena Williams (U.S.) beat Christina McHale (U.S.) 6-7(7) 6-2 6-421-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) beat Yulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan) 7-5 6-124-Barbora Strycova (Czech Republic) beat Evgeniya Rodina (Russia) 6-4 6-0Annika Beck (Germany) beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus) 6-2 6-1last_img read more

Rosberg on pole for home German grand prix

first_imgNico Rosberg set a scorching pace under pressure on Saturday to seize pole position, ahead of Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, in qualifying for his home German Formula One Grand Prix.Rosberg, determined to take back the championship lead from Hamilton on Sunday after losing it in last weekend’s race in Hungary, lapped the 4.5-km Hockenheim track in one minute 14.363 seconds.The German had only one flying lap to set his time, however, after being forced to abandon his first attempt in the final pole-position phase of qualifying due to an electronics problem.“It’s a great feeling and just a great lap,” Rosberg said. “I also had extra fuel to make sure I could get another shot … so (I am) really satisfied with that one, that was cool.”Saturday’s pole was the 27th of Rosberg’s career and fifth of the season. It was also Mercedes’s 47th in the last 50 races. The German team have started all but one race this year from the front.Hamilton, who escaped a penalty for an unsafe release in the final practice session, was 0.107 seconds slower than Rosberg.The Briton had trailed the German in each of the three practice sessions in the build-up to qualifying but was quickest in Sunday’s opening two phases before locking up on his final lap.“I had the pace today, just didn’t finish it off on the last lap,” said Hamilton, who leads Rosberg by six points heading into Sunday’s race.Daniel Ricciardo will head an all-Red Bull second row after going third-fastest ahead of 18-year-old Dutch team mate Max Verstappen.The Australian, who finished third in Hungary, was 0.363 seconds behind Rosberg’s benchmark but was optimistic that a different tyre strategy to the Mercedes pair could put him in the mix.Kimi Raikkonen was fifth for Ferrari, beating team mate Sebastian Vettel who was a disappointing sixth on his first appearance on home soil in the Italian team’s scarlet colours.Nico Hulkenberg was seventh ahead of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas and Force India team mate Sergio Perez. Felipe Massa, in the second Williams, was 10th.Rosberg won at Hockenheim in 2014 and a repeat would allow him to put the brakes onHamilton, who has won five of the last six races.last_img read more

Korea DPR thanks PNG

first_imgCoach Hwang Yongbong thanked the hotel staff that accommodated the team, the Local Organising Committee and the PNG Football Association for hosting them.Yongbong was very happy and proud of his players for winning the tournament trophy.The coach attributed the win to every player who played their part in contributing to the win against France on Saturday at the National Football Stadium.Korea DPR was unbeaten throughout the tournament, defeating Sweden 2-0, Brazil 4-2 and PNG 7-1 in the group round, beating Spain 3-2 in the quarterfinal and beating the United States 2-1 in the semifinal.Yongbong stressed that Korea DPR now has double celebrations this year for winning both the U17 and U20 Women’s World Cup 2016 tournaments.“This doesn’t mean we will stop here, we have to set higher goals with more hard training for upcoming tournaments in the future.“When we return to our country, we are expecting a big crowd to welcome us at the airport,” Yongbong said.France took home silver, Japan finished in third place taking home the bronze medal after defeating USA who finished fourth in the tournament.The Adidas Golden Boot went to Mami Ueno of Japan, Gabi Nunes of Brazil received the Silver Boot and Sweden’s Stina Blackstenius received the Bronze Boot.The Adidas Golden Ball was awarded to Hina Sugita of Japan, Kim So-hyang of Korea DPR received the Silver Ball and France’s Delphine Cascarino received the Bronze Ball.     The FIFA Fair Play Award was awarded to Team Japan.last_img read more