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Best day ever: Destanee hits with Serena, her inspiration

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Last week, Destanee Aiava became the first player born this millennium to win a main draw match at a WTA event. Next week, the 16-year-old Australian will be the first player born in the 2000s to play in the main draw at a Grand Slam tournament, thanks to a wild-card entry to the Australian Open. This week, the highlight has been hitting with Serena Williams, the 22-time Grand Slam champion and the inspiration for Aiava's career. Aiava was 5 when she watched one of the Williams' matches on TV, and told her parents that tennis was going to be her career. Her parents took her seriously, and her mother became her learn-as-she-goes coach. On Thursday, the 35-year-old Williams did a promotional appearance for her racket sponsor on Margaret Court Arena, including a hit up against the Melbourne schoolgirl. Asked what it was like to hit with the six-time Australian Open winner, Aiava paused for a while before Williams chimed in with an answer for her: 'Great.' Aiava laughed, admitting she was more nervous meeting Williams than she had been playing in an exhibition tournament earlier in the day. 'It's actually one of the best days of my life,' she said. 'I've had a lot of fun today, getting to hit with Serena. Hopefully there'll be more opportunities like this in future.' Williams is seeded No. 2 at Melbourne Park, where she lost the final last year to Angelique Kerber. She lost the French Open final to Garbine Muguruza before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 major titles. Aiava, who was born on May 10, 2000, and was No. 386 at the start of the season, has already met the long-retired Graf, her prize for winning the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in Paris in 2012. After her first-round win in Brisbane last week, she lost to two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. So she's getting more comfortable in elite tennis company. The arena where she hit with Williams carries the name of the woman who holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles — Margaret Court won 24 from 1960 to 1973 in a career that spanned the amateur and Open eras. Williams is aiming for 23 when the Australian Open starts Monday and, with her competitive spirit, there's little doubt there's another target for her in the future. For now, though, she's not prepared to mention those milestones. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams said Thursday, despite some extra urging. 'I said I'm not talking about that, move on.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 12th, 2017

Best day ever: Destanee hits with Serena, her inspiration

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Last week, Destanee Aiava became the first player born this millennium to win a main draw match at a WTA event. Next week, the 16-year-old Australian will be the first player born in the 2000s to play in the main draw at a Grand Slam tournament, thanks to a wild-card entry to the Australian Open. This week, the highlight has been hitting with Serena Williams, the 22-time Grand Slam champion and the inspiration for Aiava's career. Aiava was 5 when she watched one of the Williams' matches on TV, and told her parents that tennis was going to be her career. Her parents took her seriously, and her mother became her learn-as-she-goes coach. On Thursday, the 35-year-old Williams did a promotional appearance for her racket sponsor on Margaret Court Arena, including a hit up against the Melbourne schoolgirl. Asked what it was like to hit with the six-time Australian Open winner, Aiava paused for a while before Williams chimed in with an answer for her: 'Great.' Aiava laughed, admitting she was more nervous meeting Williams than she had been playing in an exhibition tournament earlier in the day. 'It's actually one of the best days of my life,' she said. 'I've had a lot of fun today, getting to hit with Serena. Hopefully there'll be more opportunities like this in future.' Williams is seeded No. 2 at Melbourne Park, where she lost the final last year to Angelique Kerber. She lost the French Open final to Garbine Muguruza before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 major titles. Aiava, who was born on May 10, 2000, and was No. 386 at the start of the season, has already met the long-retired Graf, her prize for winning the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in Paris in 2012. After her first-round win in Brisbane last week, she lost to two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. So she's getting more comfortable in elite tennis company. The arena where she hit with Williams carries the name of the woman who holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles — Margaret Court won 24 from 1960 to 1973 in a career that spanned the amateur and Open eras. Williams is aiming for 23 when the Australian Open starts Monday and, with her competitive spirit, there's little doubt there's another target for her in the future. For now, though, she's not prepared to mention those milestones. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams said Thursday, despite some extra urging. 'I said I'm not talking about that, move on.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

92 minutes on court, lifetime of experience for Destanee

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Destanee Aiava's Australian Open lasted just 92 minutes Monday while making history as the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. She took away enough experience from her 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Mona Barthel to last a lifetime, she said, and received some advice from the biggest name in the women's game several days before she even stepped on court. And she fully expects to be back. 'This isn't the first and the last time I'm going to be here,' said Aiava, a 16-year-old Melbourne high school student who received a wild card to enter the season's first major. 'There's plenty more to come.' Last week, she had a short practice session with Serena Williams, the 22-time Grand Slam champion and the inspiration for Aiava's career. Aiava was 5 when she watched one of the Williams' matches on TV, and told her parents that tennis was going to be her career. Describing it then as 'one of the best days of my life,' Aiava explained Monday that Williams had imparted some good advice. 'She told me to dream big and you'll achieve big,' Aiava said. 'She's quite a nice person. It was a really good experience to get to hit with her.' Aiava played her match Monday before hundreds of vocal fans on Show Court 2 at Melbourne Park. 'It was pretty fun playing out there with all the crowd supporting me,' she said. 'Nothing really surprised me. I think I learned how to be more composed out there, and I didn't rush as much. Obviously it wasn't my day, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the year and what's out there for me.' What was out there for her shortly after her match ended was prize money of $37,500 as a first-round loser. 'I don't like to focus on that, or gloat,' said Aiava, who didn't plan to celebrate a loss. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Lexi Thompson opens 3-stroke lead at Kingsmill

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — Lexi Thompson shot her second straight 6-under 65 on Friday to take a three-stroke over playing partner Gerina Piller into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship. Thompson is playing her third tournament since losing the major ANA Inspiration in a playoff after being penalized four strokes for a rules violation that a TV viewer spotted. 'I feel great with where my game is at,' Thompson said. 'I am just trying to keep my thoughts very simple, focus on doing my routine and picking small targets out and committing to my shots. If I do that, my game is in a good spot.' The long-hitting Florida player had six birdies in a bogey-free round on Kingsmill's River Course. She waited out a rain delay in the middle of the round. 'Always stalls you a bit,' Thompson said. 'Wasn't too loose on the first iron shot that I hit, but, it was a beautiful day out. Not much wind. Hopefully, we get some good weather this weekend.' Piller shot a 67, closing birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey. Winless on the LPGA Tour, she chipped in for her birdie on 17. 'I feel like my putting is really great right now,' Piller said. 'Just excited for tomorrow. ... Hit the fairway, hit the green, make the putt. Keeping it as simple as possible.' Piller will play alongside U.S. Solheim Cup teammate Thompson again Saturday. 'She's a great ball-striker and hits it far,' Piller said. 'This course definitely suits the long-ball hitters, especially now. The greens are firming up and getting a little quicker. To have a shorter iron in is definitely an advantage.' Top-ranked Lydia Ko was four strokes back at 8 under after a bogey-free 67. Trying to hold off So Yeon Ryu and Ariya Jutanugarn for the No. 1 spot, Ko is winless since July. 'There is a lot of golf to be played,' Ko said. 'All I need to do is focus on my game and be excited for the weekend.' Ryu, the ANA winner, was 5 under after a 67. Jutanugarn, defending the first of her five tour victories last year, was 3 under after a 67 playing in the group with Thompson and Piller. Candie Kung joined Ko at 8 under. Kung eagled the par-4 sixth in a 66. In Gee Chun (66) and Vicky Hurst (67) were 7 under, and Angela Stanford (66), Shanshan Feng (67) and Brittany Lincicome (70) were another stroke back. Chun rebounded after an opening bogey on the par-4 10th. 'Walking to the (next) tee I said, 'Forget it, start again,' Chun said. 'I tried to stay patient and made a lot of birdies.' The South Korean player is one of five major champions in the top nine, joining Thompson, Ko, Feng and Lincicome. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2017

Federer savors unexpected title over long-time rival Nadal

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer always believed he had more Grand Slam titles left in him. He just didn't think it would happen like this, playing in his first tournament following a six-month injury layoff. Or against his biggest rival in the game, Rafael Nadal. 'I said that also before the finals: if I were to win against Rafa, it would be super special and very sweet because I haven't beaten him in a Grand Slam final for a long, long time now,' Federer said after beating Nadal in the Australian Open final 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. A decade, to be exact. Federer's last win over the Spaniard in a major final came at Wimbledon in 2007. Nadal had beaten him in four consecutive slam finals since then. Both Federer and Nadal also didn't expect to be in this position at the Australian Open, coming off long layoffs last season to recover from injuries. Federer has rarely missed significant stretches with injuries throughout his career. This is the man, after all, who played in a record 65 consecutive Grand Slams — a streak that was broken when he withdrew from last year's French Open with a back injury. In recent years, however, he's acknowledged making mistakes by playing through pain instead of taking time off to heal. Last year, he did things differently — he took an extended break for the first time. And after six months off to fully heal his knee, he came back stronger than ever. 'What I've just come to realize is when you don't feel well, you have too many problems going on, you just won't beat top-10 players,' Federer said after his semifinal win over Stan Wawrinka. 'That's where both, I guess, Rafa and myself said, 'OK, enough of this already. Let's get back to 100 percent, enjoy tennis again, enjoy the practice.'' Hoisting his first major trophy in five years, Federer is certainly enjoying the tennis again. Here is what else we learned from the 2017 Australian Open: SERENA'S NEXT GOAL?: Serena Williams felt like it took a 'really long time' to win her 23rd Grand Slam title and break her tie with Steffi Graf on the all-time major winner list, so she wants to enjoy the victory and not look ahead. How about winning No. 24 and pulling even with Margaret Court, who holds the record for most major titles? She doesn't know, and doesn't want to talk about it yet. The elusive calendar year Grand Slam? 'I don't think about that either,' she said. 'Just one at a time.' THE 30-FUN FACTOR: Serena proved it's possible to keep winning majors at 35 — or as she likes to call it, '30-fun.' Indeed, the 30-somethings were having fun at the Australian Open this year. Venus Williams, 36, and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 34, joined Serena in the semifinals, becoming the oldest three women to reach the final four in Melbourne in the Open era. The old guard did well on the men's side, with 30-somethings Federer, Nadal and Stan Wawrinka all making the semis, too. DJOKOVIC'S SLIDE: Novak Djokovic hasn't been himself since capturing last year's French Open. Just what's bothering him, though, remains unclear. The six-time champion seemed to lack intensity in his defeat to Uzbek wild card Denis Istomin in the second round, his earliest loss at a Grand Slam since 2008. And he was tight-lipped afterward, too. Asked what he takes away from the loss, he responded: 'Take my bags and I go home.' SECOND CHANCES: It was the slam for heart-warming comeback stories. Lucic-Baroni had Rod Laver Arena in tears with her emotional interview after returning to the semifinals of a slam for the first time in 18 years. Mischa Zverev, not his highly touted brother Alexander, pulled off one of the biggest upsets, stunning No. 1 Andy Murray. And then there's Venus Williams, back in an Australian Open final after 14 years. 'She's my inspiration,' sister Serena said. Few could disagree. YOUNG AMERICANS: There was much to be excited about for American tennis fans. Nine American men advanced to the second round — the most since 2008 — including promising young players Frances Tiafoe, Ernesto Escobedo and Noah Rubin. On the women's side, CoCo Vandeweghe had the tournament of her life, upsetting former major winners Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza and reaching her first slam semifinal. In a post-Williams world, the future certainly looks bright. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 30th, 2017

Serena Williams wins record 23rd major with win over Venus

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams has won her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over her older sister Venus in Saturday's Australian Open final. With her record seventh Australian title, the 35-year-old Williams moved ahead of Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era. Margaret Court won 24 majors, but collected 13 of those before the Open era. The victory at Rod Laver Arena also ensured Serena Williams will regain the top ranking, which she lost in September after 186 straight weeks when Angelique Kerber won the U.S. Open. It was Serena's seventh win in nine all-Williams Grand Slam finals, and the first since Wimbledon in 2009. It was 36-year-old, No. 13-seeded Venus Williams' first trip back to a major final in 7 ½ years. Williams has won 15 majors since last losing to Venus in a Grand Slam final, at Wimbledon in 2008. Venus walked over to Serena's side of the net and the sisters hugged. 'This was a tough one — I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus,' Serena Williams said. 'She's an amazing person. There's no way I'd be at 23 without her. She's my inspiration and the only reason I'm standing here today. Thanks for inspiring me to be the best player I can be. 'She deserves a round of applause — she's made an amazing comeback.' The match didn't live up to its classic billing, with nerves and tension causing uncharacteristic mistakes and unforced errors and four consecutive service breaks before Venus finally held for a 3-2 lead. That included a game when Serena had game point but served back-to-back double-faults and three in all to give up the break. There were six service breaks in all. Both players were relatively subdued, except for Serena's racket smashing spike on the court in the third game that earned her a code violation. After making the three double-faults in the fourth game, however, the younger Williams didn't face another break point in the 1-hour, 22-minute match. In terms of total years, it was the oldest Grand Slam women's final in the Open era with the Williams sisters combining for 71 years, 11 months. Serena Williams now has a 17-11 career record against her sister, including a 10-5 advantage at Grand Slams. Serena hadn't wanted to talk about the No. 23 before or during the tournament. She finally can now. She tied Steffi Graf's mark of 22 Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era by winning Wimbledon last year. She missed her chance to break Graf's record with an upset semifinal loss at the U.S. Open — for the second year running — and hasn't wanted to talk about the number 23 since arriving in Australia. Until this trip, Venus hadn't reached another major final since 2008. She didn't make the second week for a few years as she came to terms with an energy-sapping illness since being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome in 2011, and made her comeback to the semifinals at Wimbledon last year. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 28th, 2017

Williams sisters, Federer advance to Australian Open finals

 JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer div>  /div> div>MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It was one, two and three for the ages as Venus and Serena Williams set up another all-sisters final and Roger Federer ensured he'll contend for another Australian Open title. /div> div>  /div> div>They're calling it Throwback Thursday at Melbourne Park: three players with a combined 46 Grand Slam titles and a combined age of 106 advanced to the finals. /div> div>  /div> div>Six-time Australian Open winner Serena Williams overwhelmed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in just 50 minutes in the second of women's semifinals, after Venus Williams beat fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3. /div> div>  /div> div>The only person standing between 35-year-old Serena Williams and an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam title is 36-year-old Venus Williams, the oldest player to reach an Australian Open women's final in the modern era. She is the oldest player since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994 to reach a women's major final anywhere. /div> div>  /div> div>'It felt really good because I felt like it was in my hands to force this Williams final,' Serena Williams said. 'Believe it or not, I was feeling a little pressure about that, but it felt really good to get that win.' /div> div>  /div> div>At 35, Federer is the oldest man to reach a Grand Slam final since Ken Rosewall made the 1974 U.S. Open final at the age of 39. /div> div>  /div> div>He had a 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 win in an all-Swiss semifinal against Stan Wawrinka, who has won three majors — the Australian in 2014, the French in 2015 and the U.S. Open last year — in the time since Federer captured the last of his record 17, at Wimbledon in 2012. /div> div>  /div> div>Wawrinka broke his racket over his knee in the second set. He needed a medical timeout before the third, came out with his right knee taped, and rallied to force Federer to five for the first time before double-faulting to give up the vital break in the sixth game. /div> div>  /div> div>Federer, coming back from six months on the sidelines to rest his injured left knee, made no mistake in closing out. He will next play Sunday against the winner of Friday's semifinal between 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov. /div> div>  /div> div>'I felt like everything happened so quickly,' Federer said. 'It feels amazing. I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought I was going to be coming this far here in Australia. It's beautiful.' /div> div>  /div> div>The women's final on Saturday night will be the first all-Williams final here since 2003, when Serena won what Venus has described as a 'battle royale.' /div> div>  /div> div>Returning to her first final since then in Melbourne was a momentous occasion for Venus Williams, given her struggles to overcome an energy-sapping illness since being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome in 2011. She hasn't been in a Grand Slam final since losing 2009 Wimbledon to Serena. /div> div>  /div> div>'Everyone has their moment in the sun,' she said. 'Maybe mine has gone on a while. I'd like to keep that going. I've got nothing else to do so let's keep it going.' /div> div>  /div> div>She was exuberant after clinching her win Vandeweghe on her fourth match point, putting hands up to her face, almost in disbelief, before crossing her arms over her heart. She then did a stylish pirouette on the court, smiling broadly, as the crowd gave her a standing ovation. /div> div>  /div> div>Serena Williams' celebration was more subdued after her lopsided win over 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni, who was playing her first semifinal at a major since Wimbledon in 1999. There was a warm embrace for the woman she'd played only twice before — both times in 1998. /div> div>  /div> div>Of all the comeback stories in the tournament, Lucic-Baroni's return to the top level after so much time struggling out of the game has captured the most heartfelt attention. After finishing the semifinal — notable for the record combined ages of the players at a major — Lucic-Baroni took a selfie with her cell phone on the court before waving and leaving Rod Laver Arena. /div> div>  /div> div>Serena Williams said Lucic-Baroni's comeback served as an inspiration for other players. Her own sister has also been an inspiration. /div> div>  /div> div>'Obviously I was really proud of Venus — a total inspiration, my big sister,' Serena said. 'She's basically my world and my life. I was so happy for her. For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true for us.' /div> div>  /div> div>Venus Williams has won seven major titles, but none since Wimbledon in 2008. Her seven-and-a-half year gap between major finals is the longest for any player in the Open era. She's also lost six of the eight Grand Slam finals she's played against Serena, and is 11-16 in their career meetings at tour-level. /div> div>  /div> div>The 25-year-old Vandeweghe, playing her maiden Grand Slam semifinal, was the first player to take a set off Venus Williams in the tournament, but then had her serve broken four times. /div> div>  /div> div>Venus Williams said she'd take a winning attitude into the final against her sister, and had nothing to lose. /div> div>  /div> div>'She's my toughest opponent — nobody has ever beaten me as much as Venus has,' Serena Williams acknowledged. But, 'I just feel like no matter what happens, we've won ... a Williams is going to win this tournament.' /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 26th, 2017

All-Williams final set at Australian Open; Venus, Serena win

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams is one win away from a record 23rd Grand Slam title after setting up an all-Williams final at the Australian Open against her older sister, Venus. No. 2-ranked Serena Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, overwhelmed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2, 6-1 in the second of the women's semifinals on Thursday after Venus Williams beat fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3. 'She's my toughest opponent — nobody has ever beaten me as much as Venus has,' Serena Williams said. 'No matter what happens, we've won. A Williams is going to win this tournament.' The 36-year-old Venus Williams is back in a Grand Slam final for the first time since Wimbledon in 2009 and her first in Australia since 2003, when she lost the only previous all-Williams final at Melbourne Park. Venus Williams tossed her racket after clinching the 2-hour, 26-minute semifinal on her fourth match point and put her hands up to her face, almost in disbelief, before crossing her arms over her heart. She then did a stylish pirouette on the court, smiling broadly, as the crowd gave her a standing ovation. 'Everyone has their moment in the sun,' Venus Williams said. 'Maybe mine has gone on a while. I'd like to keep that going. I've got nothing else to do so let's keep it going.' Serena Williams' celebration was more subdued after her 50-minute, one-sided win over 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni, who was playing her first semifinal at a major since Wimbledon in 1999. Lucic-Baroni took a selfie with her cell phone on the court before waving and leaving Rod Laver Arena. Serena didn't get to watch much of her sister's match, but she knew the result before she went out to play. 'Obviously I was really proud of Venus — a total inspiration, my big sister,' Serena said. 'She's basically my world and my life. She means everything to me. I was so happy for her. For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true for us.' Venus Williams has won seven major titles, but none since Wimbledon in 2008. Her gap between major finals is the longest for any player in the Open era. She's also lost six of the eight Grand Slam finals she's played against her younger sister, and is 11-16 in career meetings. Venus Williams is the oldest player to reach a women's major final since Martina Navratilova, then 37 and 258 days, at Wimbledon in 1994. The 25-year-old Vandeweghe was playing in the last four at a major for the first time and was the only semifinalist younger than 34. She'd advanced with back-to-back wins over top-ranked Angelique Kerber and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza and took charge against Venus Williams in the first-set tiebreaker. But Venus Williams rallied after dropping a set for the first time in the tournament, breaking Vandeweghe four times over the final two sets and putting pressure back on her fellow American. Vandeweghe said earlier in the tournament she'd admired the Williams sisters as an up-and-coming player, and once asked for Venus' autograph. Venus Williams said one of the best things about her longevity in the game was having an influence on other players. 'Growing up, all I wanted was to have an opportunity to play these tournaments. But then you get here and then you have an opportunity to inspire other people,' she said. 'It's more than a cherry on top. It's more than I dreamed of.' Earlier, Bob and Mike Bryan earned a shot at a seventh Australian Open doubles title after a rain-interrupted 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 semifinal win Friday over Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 26th, 2017

A tournament without Djokovic to hit home in Australia

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The stark reality of an Australian Open third round without Novak Djokovic — for the first time in 11 years — hits home on Saturday when the remaining players in his half of the draw, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic among them, attempt to advance to the second week of the tournament. Djokovic was beaten on Thursday in five sets by wild-card entry Denis Istomin, the earliest that the Serbian star has left Melbourne Park in singles since his first appearance here in 2006 when he was beaten by American Paul Goldstein in the first round. 'What Novak did here is just amazing, six victories here, six titles ... so it is not possible to be every time in that situation, no?' Nadal said after his second-round win. 'So then today was probably an accident, that's all. We are athletes. We know when we are going on court we can lose and we can win. It probably was a combination that Denis played a great match and Novak didn't play his best. When this combination happens, then you are in trouble. Everything can happen. And (it) happened.' Istomin, meanwhile, plays on. He's up against 30th-ranked Pablo Carreno Busta on Show Court 2 on Friday. Here's a look at some of the key matchups Saturday: ___ RAFA'S TOUGH ASSIGNMENT: Nadal plays 19-year-old Alexander Zverev in an afternoon match at Rod Laver Arena. The young German was voted the ATP Star of Tomorrow in 2015 and has mostly lived up to the hype, seeded 24th here. 'He is one of the best players in the world, without a doubt ... and one of the next Grand Slam winners,' Nadal said. 'He has a big chance to become the future world No. 1 if he's able to keep improving the way that he's doing.' Nadal has been playing well since his return to the circuit after two lengthy injury spells last year, the 14-time major winner looking almost flawless in his straight sets win over Marcos Baghdatis in the second round. Still, he's expecting to have his hands full with Zverev: 'I know I have a very tough match ... I know I need to play my best if I want to have a chance.' ___ A SERENA BREATHER?: Six-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams had two fairly tough matches through the first two rounds, facing Belinda Bencic, a former No. 7-ranked player now sitting at 59, and Lucie Safarova, ranked No. 61 but who Williams beat in the 2015 French Open final. Williams won both matches in straight sets. Her third-round match is against fellow American Nicole Gibbs, who Williams beat in straight sets at Stanford in 2012 in their only previous meeting. Williams said she feels she's better for the experience of having had tough opposition in the first two rounds. 'When I play players like Bencic and Safarova, they force me to play better,' Williams said. 'It forces my game from the very first day to be at a high level. I needed something to start really fast. I'm not going to complain about it.' ___ CONTRASTING STYLES: Third-seeded Milos Raonic plays Gilles Simon on Hisense Arena and the Canadian holds a 3-1 edge in career meetings. Their only Grand Slam match came in the fourth round of the 2014 French Open, when Raonic won in five sets, including 7-5 in the fifth. 'I know a lot about his game. I've watched him play a lot,' Raonic said. 'He's going to be there really trying to get me to play at his speed, his rhythm. Obviously he tries to slow things down, play low. I won't have the opportunity to get too many swings at many shots.' Which means Raonic, with one of the best serves in the game, will try to get points over quickly. 'I've got to serve well and I've got to be aggressive and I've got to take it to him. The last thing I want to do is get into this sort of game of playing long rallies with him.' ___ KONTA vs WOZNIACKI: Last year's semifinalist Johanna Konta and Caroline Wozniacki, a former No. 1 who made it to the final four here in 2011, meet for the first time in an afternoon match at Margaret Court Arena. Both have been playing well, Konta coming off a win in the Sydney International last week, and Wozniacki having dropped just seven games in her first two matches at Melbourne Park. 'She had a good last year,' Wozniacki said. 'But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter who is on the other side.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Federer's 17 majors stack up nicely against everyone else

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The 64 players contesting second-round matches at the Australian Open on Wednesday have won a total of 36 Grand Slam singles titles. One guy, however, has nearly half of them. Of the 17 titles captured by Roger Federer, who plays American qualifier Noah Rubin at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, four have been at Melbourne Park. Although he hasn't lifted the trophy here since 2010. Venus Williams, who will play Stefanie Voegele to open play on Rod Laver — has seven major titles. Others in action Wednesday are top-ranked Andy Murray and No. 4 Stan Wawrinka (3 majors each), defending champion Angelique Kerber and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2 each) and Marin Cilic and Garbine Muguruza, who have each won one major. Novak Djokovic, who has 12 Grand Slam titles of his own and is on the other side of the Australian Open draw, was quick to praise Federer as the Swiss star prepared to return from a six-month injury layoff. 'With Roger, you can always see a top level and quality of tennis ... that's what he brings,' Djokovic said last weekend. 'He brings this aura of a champion on and off the court. The sport definitely missed him. He's one of the most important people that ever held the racket.' ____ Here's a closer look at some of the second-round matches Wednesday: BIRTHDAY GIRL: Kerber, who plays fellow German Carina Witthoeft, will celebrate her 29th birthday on Wednesday. She is aiming to become the first player to defend the Australian Open women's title since Victoria Azarenka won in 2012 and 2013. ___ GOOD LUCK ANDREY: Murray plays Russian qualifier and 156th-ranked Andrey Rublev in a night match at Rod Laver Arena. The lowest-ranked player to beat Murray at a Grand Slam tournament is No. 91 Arnaud Clement at the 2005 U.S. Open. Overall, Murray has a 10-1 record against qualifiers at Grand Slam events. Still, Murray will be wary of Rublev. 'I know a little bit about him,' Murray said after his first-round win over Illya Marchenko. 'I never hit with him or played against him, but I've seen him play before and he goes for it. He doesn't hold back. He hits a big ball.' Murray has lost the Australian Open final five times in seven years, and never won the title. He hopes to have another chance this year to atone for his past defeats. 'I have had a lot of tough losses here, for sure,' he said. 'I have played some of my best tennis on hard courts here. But I keep coming back to try. I'll keep doing that until I'm done.' ___ AND GOOD LUCK NOAH: Federer has not lost to a player ranked as low as No. 200 Noah since losing to 249th-ranked Sergio Bruguera at Barcelona in 2000. In terms of Grand Slam events, the lowest-ranked player Federer has lost to was No. 154 Mario Ancic at 2002 Wimbledon. ___ LONGEVITY IN MELBOURNE: Venus Williams' match against Voegele comes in her 17th appearance at the Australian Open. She has never won the title in Melbourne, but was runner-up in 2003, losing to her younger sister, Serena. And for the record, her seven Grand Slam singles titles came five times at Wimbledon and twice at the U.S. Open. ___ ONCE A YEAR: Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori plays France's Jeremy Chardy to open play on Hisense Arena, and their meeting has become an annual thing. Nishikori has a 4-2 edge in matches which they've contested once a year for the past six years. Nishikori is attempting to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the seventh consecutive year. He lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the Brisbane International final two weeks ago. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Federer returns with a win, joins Murray in 2nd round

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer shanked a few shots and was unsettled by how nervous he felt after six months on the sidelines, despite the familiar surroundings at the Australian Open. No other man on tour knows the way around a Grand Slam tournament better than Federer, who is playing in his 69th major and has won a record 17. He served 19 aces and had only one double-fault in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win Monday over fellow 35-year-old Jurgen Melzer, but dropped serve three times and experienced frustrating moments. 'I was feeling nervous once the match actually started,' said Federer, who hadn't played at tour level since Wimbledon after taking time off to let his injured left knee heal. 'In the warmup ... I felt fine. Then I hit four frames in a row. It was like, 'Whew, it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be.' 'I struggled for a while to find that groove, that rhythm.' Federer had surgery on the knee after a semifinal exit at the last Australian Open and missed the French Open, ending his streak of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. He returned for Wimbledon, reached the semifinals, then didn't play again in 2016. In November, he fell out of the top 10 for the first time in 734 weeks. The 17th-seeded Federer wasn't the only highly-ranked player to find the going tough Monday. Stan Wawrinka, the U.S. Open champion, was pushed to five sets. So was No. 5-seeded Kei Nishikori. Angelique Kerber, defending champion and ranked No. 1 at a major for the first time, had some nervous moments in her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Lesia Tsurenko. Kerber won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year, beating Serena Williams in the final after saving a match point in the first round. After wasting a match point before her serve was broken as Tsurenko rallied to win the second set, Kerber said her mind raced back 12 months. 'When I lost the second set, and I had match point, I was thinking about my match last year in the first round,' she said. 'First rounds are always tough.' In his first Grand Slam match with the elevated status of having a knighthood and the No. 1 ranking, Andy Murray berated himself when he made mistakes and frequently yelled during a 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Illya Marchenko. In other words, nothing much has changed. The five-time finalist comfortably navigated what he hoped was the first step to a drought-breaking Australian Open title. Murray has lost four of the last six finals in Melbourne to six-time champion Novak Djokovic. Gaining the top ranking and receiving the civic honors doesn't change anything for Murray, who said he faces 'the same pressure, same expectations. I've never won here — I'm going to try to change that this year.' Wawrinka, who made his Grand Slam breakthrough in Australia in 2014, narrowly scraped past 35th-ranked Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. In the ninth game of the fifth set, Wawrinka smashed a soft half-volley from Klizan straight back into the Slovakian's body, clipping the frame and just missing his midsection. He stepped over the net and ensured Klizan was OK, then held serve in that game and broke in the next game to finish it off. Nishikori beat Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Joining him in the second round are 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 19 John Isner, No. 23 Jack Sock, No. 27 Bernard Tomic, No. 29 Viktor Troicki and No. 31 Sam Querrey. Also, No. 14 Nick Kyrgios returned from his suspension for underperforming in Shanghai last year and raced through a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Gastao Elias. No. 16 Lucas Pouille was the highest-ranked of the three men's seeded players to lose. Five of the women's seeded players went out, including No. 4 Simona Halep, who lost 6-3, 6-1 to Shelby Rogers in the first match on Rod Laver Arena, and No. 15 Roberta Vinci, who lost to CoCo Vandeweghe. Seven-time major winner Venus Williams beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (5), 7-5, and 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard continued her recent resurgence by routing Louisa Chirico 6-0, 6-4. Joining them in the next round will be French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 10 Carla Suarez, No. 11 Elina Svitolina and No. 20 Zhang Shuai. Sixteen-year-old Destanee Aiava became the first player born in this millennium to play in the main draw of a major, but the milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Mona Barthel. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

New look: Murray, Kerber start Australian Open as top seeds

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It's new and exciting for Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, entering a Grand Slam tournament with the No. 1 in front of their names. Both reached the top of the rankings for the first time near the end of 2016, ending long reigns by Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. And so they'll open their Australian Open campaigns on Rod Laver Arena on day one — both against Ukrainians. Murray, a five-time runner-up, opens his pursuit of a first Australian title against Illya Marchenko in the last day match on the main show court. Kerber opens the night session against Lesia Tsurenko. She'll be followed on court by Roger Federer, who is returning from six months on the sidelines. The 'one-round-at-a-time' cliche is well worn in tennis. For Kerber, though, it's pertinent. Seeded seventh last year, the left-handed German had to save a match point in the first round against Misaki Doi. Spurred on by that, she went on to beat Serena Williams in the final and claim her first Grand Slam title. She added a second major at the U.S. Open and ascended to the No 1 ranking. 'I think this point where I was match point down, that was the important point for my career,' Kerber said Sunday, speaking of her first-round escape against Doi. 'You never know (if) I lost the match, what would have happened.' It gave her the freedom to play without pressure, and that made all the difference. 'When I'm looking back, I was feeling that I got a second chance to stay in the tournament,' she said. 'I was playing since then without expectation ... just enjoying everything.' Kerber can hang on to the top ranking by reaching to the final here, but she's already feeling there's more to defend than her title. 'It's a new challenge for me, for sure,' she said. But, 'We are starting from zero here. I have to be ready from the first round again. 'I will try to not put too much expectation and pressure on myself. I mean, I will try to do it like last year — that was the way I had my success.' Record-chasing, six-time champions Djokovic and Williams, seeded No. 2 and anchoring the bottom half of the men's and women's draws, won't be in action until day two. Djokovic is aiming to be the first man to win seven Australian titles. Serena Williams is chasing an Open-era record 23rd major title. Newly-engaged Williams hasn't wanted to talk about the record, being a little bit superstitious. Williams is concentrating on her first-round match against Belinda Bencic, who was seeded 12th here last year and who beat her in Toronto in 2015. While Serena has to wait, the Williams family will be represented on Rod Laver Arena on Monday by her older sister, Venus. The 13th-seeded Venus Williams will play against Kateryna Kozlova following fourth-seeded Simona Halep's opener against Shelby Rogers. French Open champion Garbine Muguruza starts play on Margaret Court Arena against Marina Erakovic, and U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka opens the night session on the second show court. Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori gets things underway against Andrey Kuznetsov on Hisense Arena, where Nick Kyrgios will make his return to the tour against Gastao Elias. The 21-year-old Kyrgios finished 2016 under a ban in a season overshadowed by clashes with officials and fans and by the tanking at the Shanghai Masters which led to an eight-week suspension. The ban was reduced to three weeks when Kyrgios agreed to consult a sports psychologist, allowing to warmup for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup. That's where Federer made his return from six months out to give his injured left knee time to heal. The 17-time major winner didn't play after Wimbledon and his ranking slid to No. 17 by this week. That resulted in him getting a tougher draw than usual at the tournament he has won four times, and where he has reached the semifinals in 12 of the last 13 years. If results go with rankings, he'll play two qualifiers before a potential third-round match against No. 10 Tomas Berdych. Nishikori and Murray are also in his quarter. Federer will open against another 35-year-old veteran, former No. 8-ranked Jurgen Melzer. 'That's the part of the draw I care most about because of having not been playing,' Federer said. Wild-card entry Destanee Aiava, a 16-year-old Melbourne high school student, is set to become the first player born in this millennium to play a main draw match at a Grand Slam when she meets German qualifier Mona Barthel on Show Court 2. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Worth a mention: Williams aiming for record 23rd major title

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams definitely doesn't want to talk about the No. 23. She doesn't really want to think about planning a wedding, either, while she's pursuing a Grand Slam record. Newly engaged Williams brushed off concerns about the 88 unforced errors she had in a loss in New Zealand last week in her only warmup tournament ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Monday and where she's aiming for Open-era record 23rd major title. 'I've moved on,' she said. 'I'm feeling relaxed, calm, ready and poised.' Williams responded to questions about milestone achievements last year when she had 21 Grand Slam titles, and it didn't help — she lost the final here to Angelique Kerber and to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open era mark of 22. She's being more superstitious this time. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, said as she shut down questions during a promotional activity this week. 'I said I'm not talking about that. Move on.' Another Australian title is also high on the agenda for Novak Djokovic, who already has won six. But he isn't thinking much beyond his opening match after drawing Fernando Verdasco. A first is the priority for Andy Murray, recently knighted in Britain after finishing 2016 at No. 1. He is looking at the draw from the top for the first time at a major and is hoping it comes with a change in fortunes at Melbourne Park. He has lost five Australian Open finals — the first to Roger Federer in 2010, the other four to Djokovic. Federer could again stand in his way, only at the quarterfinal stage this time. The 17-time major winner slipped down the rankings during six months off last year recovering from an injured left knee and was seeded No. 17. Williams took time off after the U.S. Open, where she lost in the semifinals for the second year running and lost the top ranking to Kerber. The big news during her break was her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month, when she posted a poem on the news website to confirm she'd accepted his proposal. After hitting this week with 16-year-old Destanee Aiava, who will be the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a major when she meets a qualifier in the first round, Williams said her mind was back entirely on business. 'I told (Ohanian) my main goal was to win this title,' she said. 'Yeah, it really doesn't feel like anything different.' No date has been set for the wedding, with Williams' mind on one major thing, so she's not thinking about a dress or a cake, and she's not wearing a ring to practice. 'Oh my God. I don't think about it really,' she said, responding to questions about her marriage plans. 'I'm just ... I don't know I'll have to ask him that. I have a job — I mean, he does too. I kinda gotta focus.' Kerber won the Australian and U.S. Open titles last year, so will be attempting to defend a major for the first time in Melbourne. She may be feeling pressure as the No. 1 seed, having won only one match in two warmup tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney. That doesn't take any pressure off Williams. 'I am No. 2, I guess. I definitely don't feel like anyone's saying that, 'Oh, there's no pressure on Serena,'' she said. 'It's always there, I'm used to it. 'I feel like I've been No. 1 for so long, so many times. I've done things that are amazing. Sometimes that ranking really means a lot, but also I feel like sometimes just winning events ... means just as much.' That's something Djokovic understands. His 122-week streak at No. 1 ended amid Murray's incredible finish to last season, when he won Wimbledon and defended the Olympic gold medal among eight titles he won after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach. Before then, Djokovic had beaten Murray in the Australian and French Open finals, his 11th and 12th major titles. Half of those have come in Melbourne, where his victory last year equaled the record six Australian titles Roy Emerson won (1961 and 1963-67). 'I'm feeling phenomenal,' Djokovic said after arriving in Australia following a win over Murray in his season-opening event at Doha. 'Maybe this is the year — 2017 for seven. I'm not a numerologist, but it sounds good.' Murray jumped on a flight almost immediately after last year's final to be with his wife, who was expecting their first child. There have been plenty of changes for him since, becoming a father for the first time, No. 1 in the world for the first time, and reuniting with Lendl. 'Each time I come, I think I've got a chance of winning but it's just never happened,' he said. 'Hopefully, this year will be different. 'I do think the last few months of last year can help me with giving me confidence — other players look at that and see you're playing well and (I) feel physically and mentally strong.' Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who ended the run of wins by Djokovic and Murray when he won the U.S. Open last September, said the next generation of players such as Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori would be among the contenders for the Australian title. But he thinks it will be difficult for any new champion to emerge against the likes of the in-form Murray and Djokovic, and the returning Federer and Rafael Nadal. 'So far, last 10 years, the 'Big Four' was really strong,' Wawrinka said, 'so it's going to be interesting to see this year how Novak, Andy, Rafa, and Roger will play.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Nadal continues comeback with a 1st win in Brisbane

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal was in need of some sleep, so he didn't waste much time against Alexandr Dolgopolov on Tuesday. The 14-time major champion, playing his opening match at the Brisbane International a day after arriving in Australia following a win in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, beat the Ukrainian 6-3, 6-3 after getting on court at almost 10:30 p.m. local time. Returning from a wrist injury which curtailed the end of his 2016 season, Nadal said he's determined to use every match as preparation for a shot at the title in the season-opening Grand Slam event in Melbourne. The 30-year-old Spaniard dropped serve in the third game but recovered to win the last five games of the first set against the 2012 finalist. In all, he converted all four of his break points and fended off three of the four he faced. 'A little bit of jet lag. It's tough, these kinds of things at the beginning,' said Nadal, who added that he was still sleeping in the early afternoon and felt 'destroyed' after the travel. 'There wasn't a lot of time to adapt.' He only made nine unforced errors, and his most glaring miss of the night was when whiffed at a ball as he tried to hit it into the crowd to celebrate his win. In a post-match news conference, he apologized after stifling a yawn, but said he still preferred the late start to help him overcome the jetlag. Nadal has changed his preparation for the Australian Open, arriving two weeks ahead of time to fine tune his game in a bid to make amends for a shocking first-round exit last year. He will next play Mischa Zverev, who opened with a 6-3, 6-3 win over teenage Australian qualifier Alex De Minaur, and has a potential quarterfinal match against defending champion and top-seeded Milos Raonic. Also, sixth-seeded Lucas Pouille lost the first five games before rebounding for a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) win over Gilles Simon, while Viktor Troicki beat Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 7-5 and Diego Schwartzman had a 6-2, 6-4 win over Sam Querrey. In the women's draw, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, who all had career-highlight victories over Serena Williams last season, are already through to the quarterfinals. Destanee Aiava, a 16-year-old high school senior who was inspired to take up tennis when she was 5 after watching Williams on TV, also made a mark. Aiava became the first player born in the 2000s to win a main draw match in an elite WTA event when she beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a first-round match that spanned two days. She already has a wild-card entry to the Australian Open but, before then, will face two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round in Brisbane. The third-seeded Pliskova, who beat Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals last year before losing the final to Angelique Kerber, defeated American qualifier Asia Muhammad 6-1, 6-4 to secure the first spot in the quarterfinals. Svitolina, seeded sixth and the only woman to beat both Williams and Kerber when in 2016, advanced with a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 win over Shelby Rogers. The fourth-seeded Muguruza wasted a match point and saved one before clinching a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7) win over Daria Kasatkina in a three-hour night match. Both players had eight service breaks and Muguruza, who beat Williams in the French Open final last year to claim her first Grand Slam title, dropped her opening serve in all three sets. Her next match will be against either Kuznetsova or Aiava, who was born on May 10, 2000, was No. 386 in the latest rankings and is very new to the tour. 'Pretty crazy,' Aiava said of her first trip to the locker rooms in the main draw. 'I walk in, and there is people I have watched on TV before and it's, like, 'Oh!'' Her mother, Rosie, has been her coach since she showed interest in the game. She keeps the teenager grounded. After her milestone win, Aiava said her mother just said 'good job' and took her back onto the practice courts for 20 minutes to work on her serve. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Government fiscal surplus hits P52.8 B in April

MANILA, Philippines - The government generated a fiscal surplus of P52.8 billion in April as tax collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) during t.....»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated News7 hr. 56 min. ago

Djokovic hoping Agassi can inspire him back to No. 1

DANIELLA MATAR, Associated Press br /> PARIS (AP) — Nearly a year after his slump started, Novak Djokovic is ready to reveal his new game at the French Open. The 30-year-old Djokovic won the tournament at Roland Garros last year for his fourth straight major title. That completed a career Grand Slam, but it also marked the end of his dominance. Last week, in an effort to turn things around, Djokovic said former great Andre Agassi would be his coach on the red clay in Paris. 'He's someone who inspires me and that's what I felt I needed. A new inspiration, someone who knows what I'm going through,' Djokovic said Friday, two days before the start of the French Open. 'He's been in my shoes before, playing Grand Slams, being the best in the world, facing all the challenges ... we can relate to each other. 'That's why I'm very excited for him being here because it's a great opportunity for me to learn, to grow.' After last year's French Open, Djokovic lost in the third round at Wimbledon, his earliest defeat in a Grand Slam in seven years. He then lost in the first round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, reached the final of the U.S. Open, and lost early again at the Australian Open. The Serb finished 2016 at No. 2, his current ranking, and has won only one of his last 11 tournaments. At the beginning of the month, Djokovic split with longtime coach Marian Vajda and two other team members — fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic. 'It feels like a new chapter. It's a big change that I've experienced in the last three, four weeks, separating from the team I was with the last 10 years,' Djokovic said. 'It feels exciting. It feels right in this moment. 'In the last five, six months I was struggling a bit on the court. I'm trying to redefine myself and rediscover what kind of approach is the right one. I just felt I needed change. We needed to go our separate ways.' Agassi, who retired in 2006, won eight Grand Slam titles — four fewer than Djokovic — but has never coached. Djokovic said he wasn't planning on starting a professional relationship when he contacted Agassi for the first time. 'I asked for his contact number to thank him for talking nicely about me in the press,' Djokovic said. 'He only had positives to say about me ... when things weren't going well he was one of the few standing on my side and supporting me so I wanted to thank him. 'It turned out to be a long conversation and that's where it started. We didn't think about it becoming a professional relationship but after a few weeks it did ... I was not rushing the process of getting a new coach because I trust in myself. I've been around long enough to know how to play tennis.' Agassi and Djokovic have been speaking regularly on the phone for the past couple of weeks but trained together for the first time on Thursday at Roland Garros. The 47-year-old Agassi will not stay in Paris for the duration of the French Open. 'Yesterday was the first day. We had practice and then had a very long talk in the evening,' Djokovic said. 'Even thought it was the first day, it felt like we'd known each other a long time. We just clicked and connected. 'Andre is a perfect fit for me now in every aspect.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News9 hr. 59 min. ago

NDF hits Lorenzana, calls on CPP to reconsider intensified NPA attacks - Inquirer.net

NDF hits Lorenzana, calls on CPP to reconsider intensified NPA attacks - Inquirer.net.....»»

Category: newsSource:  googlenewsRelated News16 hr. 41 min. ago

Ray goes 7 innings as Diamondbacks beat Brewers 4-0

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Robbie Ray pitched seven innings of two-hit ball to lower the NL's second-best road ERA to 0.57, Gregor Blanco and Chris Owings homered, and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 Thursday night for their ninth win in 10 games. Ray (4-3), coming off a dominating performance against San Diego in his last start, did not allow a run for the second straight outing. He struck out nine and walked none to send the Brewers to their season-worst fourth straight loss. Arizona is 11 games above .500 for the first time since 2011. Blanco, who went 3 for 4, hit the second pitch of the game off Milwaukee starter Zach Davies (5-3) for his fourth career leadoff home run. Owings tied his career high with his sixth of the season leading off the second. David Peralta had an RBI double in the third and Paul Goldschmidt scored on a wild pitch in the eighth. CUBS 5, GIANTS 1 CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist hit solo homers, and Chicago won its third straight. Spot starter Eddie Butler (2-0) allowed one run and four hits in five innings, and Mike Montgomery pitched one-hit ball over four innings for his first professional save. Jeff Samardzija (1-6) gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts. He also gave up three home runs against Arizona in his first start of the season on April 6. MARINERS 4, NATIONALS 2 WASHINGTON (AP) — Nelson Cruz greeted reliever Jacob Turner (2-3) with a three-run homer in the sixth inning that overturned a 2-0 deficit, and Seattle stopped a five-game losing streak. Ariel Miranda (4-2) allowed two runs, three hits and three walks in five innings. Edwin Diaz, Seattle's sixth pitcher, threw a one-hit ninth that completed a six-hitter. Diaz got his first save since May 9 and has eight in 10 chances overall. PIRATES 9, BRAVES 4 ATLANTA (AP) — Ivan Nova (5-3) allowed four runs and 10 hits in 8 1/3 innings, and Adam Frazier hit a three-run homer. Pittsburgh pounded Bartolo Colon (2-5), who a day after his 44th birthday allowed seven runs and 10 hits in five innings. His ERA rose to 6.96. PHILLIES 2, ROCKIES 1 PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tommy Joseph hit a tying home run in the seventh inning and a winning single against Scott Oberg (0-1) in the 11th after Michael Saunders' one-out double, stopping Colorado from a four-game sweep. Jeanmar Gomez (3-1) pitched a hitless 11th is his return from a disabled list stint caused by an elbow injury. Philadelphia ended a five-game losing streak, winning for the fifth time in 25 games. Colorado, which has the NL's best record, had won four in a row. RAYS 4, ANGELS 0 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Matt Andriese (5-1) allowed six hits over eight innings, Colby Rasmus drove in four runs and Tampa Bay salvaged a four-game split. Tommy Hunter got three outs to complete a six-hitter. Daniel Wright (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to fill in for the injured Alex Meyer, allowed four runs — two earned — and six hits in 4 1/3 innings. PADRES 4, METS 3 NEW YORK (AP) — Dinelson Lamet overpowered the Mets in his major league debut, New York's Rafael Montero labored on short notice and San Diego won on a rainy night. Scattered showers soaked Queens all day, and thunderstorms were forecast for midgame, although heavy rain never came. Mets manager Terry Collins pushed back scheduled starter Jacob deGrom to try avoiding an abbreviated outing, instead telling Montero around 3:45 p.m. that he'd start the 7:10 p.m. contest. Montero (0-4) allowed two runs during a 45-pitch first inning, including a bases-loaded walk to Matt Szczur. Montero threw 87 pitches over three innings, giving up three runs, five hits and three walks. His ERA rose to 8.24. Lamet (1-0) cruised through five innings of one-run ball. The 24-year-old right-hander punched out eight and surrendered just three hits, including Lucas Duda's solo homer in the second. Brad Hand allowed a run but escaped a jam in the ninth for the second straight night, geting his second career save and second in two nights. RED SOX 6, RANGERS 2 BOSTON (AP) — Drew Pomeranz pitched six strong innings and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts to lift Boston past Texas. Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to their fourth straight win. Pomeranz (4-3) made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings. Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five. Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Nick Martinez (1-3) early. ASTROS 7, TIGERS 6 HOUSTON (AP) — Jake Marisnick hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning for Houston's fourth homer of the game, lifting the Astros to a 7-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night. The Tigers tied it 6-6 in the top of the eighth when Jose Iglesias doubled off reliever Luke Gregerson (2-1) to drive in Andrew Romine. Marisnick's homer to deep center off Detroit reliever Alex Wilson (1-2) gave Houston the lead back. Ken Giles got the last three outs for his 13th save as the Astros won three of four from the Tigers. Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez and Juan Centeno all homered off Justin Verlander in Houston's five-run fourth that gave the Astros a 5-3 lead. DODGERS 7, CARDINALS 3 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kenta Maeda fell into a 3-0 hole in the first inning of his first start for the Dodgers in two weeks coming off the disabled list. Then, the Japanese right-hander rallied Los Angeles to the win. Maeda (4-2) drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a two-out single in the fourth off Michael Wacha and turned an inning-ending double play in the fifth to help the Dodgers take two of three from the Cardinals. Maeda allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings, struck out four and walked two. Wacha (2-2) gave up six runs and seven hits in four-plus innings. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News17 hr. 53 min. ago

Govt hits Reds for ordering offensives amid martial law

Govt hits Reds for ordering offensives amid martial law.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsMay 25th, 2017

Ex-tennis great avoids airline over same-sex marriage edict

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Former tennis great and now Christian pastor Margaret Court says she will stop using Qantas 'where possible' in protest over the Australian airline's promotion of same-sex marriage. 'I am disappointed that Qantas has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage,' Perth resident Court said in the letter published in The West Australian newspaper. 'I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible. Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines were possible for my extensive travelling.' Serena Williams' 23 Grand Slam singles titles are a record for the Open era, which began in 1968 — she broke a tie with Steffi Graf at this year's Australian Open. Only one player has won more: Court, who claimed part of her 24 during the amateur era. Australia's other major domestic airline Virgin and its founder Richard Branson also support gay marriage. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce recently had a pie thrown in his face in front of hundreds of people at a business breakfast in Perth by a man who said he was protesting the fact that Joyce and 20 chief executives of major companies had signed a joint letter in support of marriage equality. The man was charged by police with assault and banned by Qantas. Court, a 74-year-old senior pastor at Perth's Victory Life Church and critic of homosexuality and same-sex marriage for decades, said in the letter she had proudly promoted Qantas during her days 'of never losing a tennis match while playing for my country.' 'I love all people and will be pleased to talk to your board at any time,' she wrote Thursday. 'But it won't be in the Qantas lounge.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2017

Jet Spikers upset Lady Warriors in five sets

Philippine Air Force arrested a seven game slump as the Jet Spikers spoiled Pocari Sweat’s outright semifinals entry with a hard-earned, 25-19, 24-26, 25-27, 25-21, 15-6, Thursday to close the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference prelims on a high note. Thai import Patcharee Saengmuang led the Jet Spikers’ assault in the five-set match inside the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan, capping her scoring spree with back-to-back hits to seal the victory. Air Force closed the prelims with a 2-8 win-loss record and bagged the much-needed morale-boosting win as the Jet Spikers head into the dangerous round robin quarterfinals starting Saturday. 'Siguro maganda ang gising sabay-sabay ng mga bata,' said Air Force coach Jasper Jimenez. 'Sinabi ko sa kanila na gawin lang natin sa laro ang ginagawa natin sa practice kasi sunud-sunod na ang ating talo.'  Saengmuang scored 27 points and had plentuy of support from the locals as Joy Cases finished with 21 markers while Jocemer Tapic and Iari Yongco chipped in with 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Air Force.   The Jet Spikers broke open a hairline, 3-2, lead in the deciding frame with a 6-2 scoring blast for a 9-4 lead. Pocari Sweat, which played sans injured Bosnian import Edina Selimovic, stopped the bleeding with a hit by American reinforcement Michelle Strizak but another scorching run capped by Cases’ two straight service gems gave Air Force a 13-5 cushion. Strizak answered with an attack but Saengmuang completed an upset with her parting pair of missiles. The Lady Warriors dropped their second straight match to slide to 6-4 card. Top local hitter Myla Pablo was in uniform but skipped her second straight match because of a back injury. Pocari Sweat will follow BaliPure straight in the best-of-three semis if Perlas and the Power Smashers lose their last prelims games.  Strizak’s league-high 40 points anchored on 38 attacks came into naught after another painful loss for the Lady Warriors. Jeannette Panaga had eight points while Cai Nepomuceno and Elaine Kasilag combined for 14.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2017