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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

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

Inspiration hits Rio for Pinoy Jin Alora

Inspiration hits Rio for Pinoy Jin Alora.....»»

Category: editorialSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 19th, 2016

Serena Williams into Australian Open quarterfinals

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams scrapped her way into the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, working around a misfiring serve and a rash of unforced errors to beat Barbora Strycova as the heat intensified on Monday. She had a little bit of luck in some big moments, but created it herself by staying in points against the No. 16-ranked Strycova, who made the No. 2-ranked Williams engage in more and longer rallies than anyone so far in the tournament. Despite the four service breaks (three in the first set) and 46 unforced errors, and with the fluky net cord and the off-balance, scrunched-shoulder backhand that bounced flatly and clinched her the first set on her eighth set point, Williams found a way to win 7-5, 6-4. That keeps Williams on track in her bid for an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam title. If she gets there, the 35-year-old American will regain the No. 1 ranking as well. 'I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good, because sometimes you rely on one shot and if it goes off, and then, like, what happens now?' Williams said. 'It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too.' Next up, she'll face No. 9 Johanna Konta, who beat Ekaterina Makarova for the second straight year in the fourth round. The 2016 semifinalist was only broken once and broke Makarova four times. 'That's an incredible experience for me. She's one of the few players still playing I watched growing up,' Konta said of Williams. 'It's an incredible honor and I can't wait to share the court with her.' Williams' fourth-round match started with four straight service breaks, with only two points going with serve, until Williams held for a 3-2 lead. There were seven service breaks in the first set — with Williams getting the decisive one in the 12th game. She broke Strycova's serve early in the second to establish a lead but was broken while serving for the match. She finished off in the next game with another break of her own, her sixth of the match. 'It's good to know I have a plan B or option 2, I wasn't serving my greatest today, also she was putting a lot of returns in there,' said Williams, who had a first-serve percentage of 45, and made four double-faults. 'It's always good to have something to improve on.' The second-seeded Williams advanced to quarterfinals at Melbourne Park for the 11th time since 2001 — she's only ever lost three times here in that round. Angelique Kerber, who beat Williams in the final here last year and then ended the 22-time Grand Slam winner's 186-week streak at No. 1 by winning the U.S. Open, was upset in the fourth round six minutes into second week of the tournament in a straight-sets loss to Coco Vandeweghe the previous night. 'I love pressure. I feel like I deal well with pressure,' said Williams, who has won the Australian Open six times. 'I love the game. Honestly I have nothing to lose. I've won enough. ... Everything is a bonus for me right now. It's kind of a little relaxing.' The hot-and-cold run of weather in Melbourne continued, with the temperatures hitting 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) when Williams walked onto Rod Laver Arena to get play started on Day 8. It followed a chaotic middle Sunday that contained two big upsets, with Kerber's exit following top-ranked and five-time finalist Andy Murray's fourth-round defeat by No. 50-ranked Mischa Zverev. Roger Federer, returning from six months on the sidelines, rebounded to beat No. 5 Kei Nishikori in five sets and will meet Zverev in the quarterfinals. Rafael Nadal, the only major winner remaining on the bottom half of the men's draw, was playing for a quarterfinal spot later Monday against Gael Monfils. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News6 min. ago

Serena Williams into Australian Open quarterfinals

MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams scrapped her way into the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, working around a misfiring serve and a rash of unforce.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated News1 hr. 17 min. ago

Clamp on chemicals hits bags sector

MANILA, Philippines – Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in handicraft and bag industries are losing job orders due to the government clampdow.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated News2 hr. 41 min. ago
Category: newsSource:  manila_shimbunRelated News10 hr. 11 min. ago

Magnitude 8 quake hits New Guinea

A powerful magnitude eight earthquake hit the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands yesterday, but no tsunami was reported hours after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for nearby islands......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated News12 hr. 41 min. ago

Tough at top: Murray, Kerber out in 4th round in Melbourne

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It was tough at the top for Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber on Sunday at the Australian Open, with both the No. 1 seeds going out in fourth-round upsets. Five-time finalist Murray lost 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 to No. 50-ranked Mischa Zverev in the afternoon match on Rod Laver Arena, and defending women's champion Kerber lost 6-3, 6-2 to CoCo Vandeweghe in a night match that finished at six minutes past midnight. Vandeweghe had never been past the third round at the season-opening Grand Slam, and lost in the first round here last year. Kerber saved a match point in the first round last year before winning her first major title, beating Serena Williams in the final. She replaced Williams atop the rankings after winning the U.S. Open. Murray lost the final to six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic last year, but finished 2016 at No. 1 after a strong finish to the season that included titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the ATP Finals. Both Murray and Kerber were the No. 1 seeds at a major for the first time. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News14 hr. 38 min. ago

Zverev's win over Murray caps dramatic career comeback

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Mischa Zverev still remembers one of his earliest losses to Andy Murray, when the two were rising juniors, just 17 years old, and playing in the semifinals of the 2004 U.S. Open boys' tournament. Zverev tried playing a serve-and-volley game and lost. Murray went on to win the title. More than 12 years later, Zverev tried the same tactics against Murray on a far bigger stage — and this time it worked. The German journeyman served, volleyed and sliced his way to a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 upset over No. 1-ranked Murray to reach the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. 'I knew I could get to him with my game,' Zverev said. 'I knew I could slice a lot, come in, try to annoy him, which worked.' The win capped an improbable career comeback for Zverev, who has recently been known as the older brother of star-in-waiting Alexander Zverev and may now be finally starting to realize his own potential as a player — at the ripe old age of 29. Zverev had been a highly regarded junior player, but his professional career never really took off. He peaked at a high ranking of No. 48 in 2009, but injuries and a lack of dedication took a toll. After undergoing surgery to repair a fractured wrist in 2014, Zverev hit what he calls 'the bottom.' His ranking plummeted to No. 1067 and to stay engaged in the sport, he chaperoned teenage friends of his brother around south Texas to play in the bottom-rung of professional tournaments. 'We went to really like small towns,' he said. 'No hospitality. You stay at hotels, eat at Subway.' But his brother had faith he could play at a high level again. And Zverev began to miss the sport, too. And so when he was able to hold a racket again at the end of 2014, he devoted himself to his training like never before. Keeping up with Alexander, 10 years his junior, was a major motivation. Considered by many to be a future Grand Slam champion, Alexander began his rapid ascent just as Mischa was finding his feet again. It was around that time Alexander first beat Mischa in a practice set. 'We didn't talk about it until dinner and he actually said 'Do you know what happened today?' and I was like 'no,' and he said, 'I beat you for the first time,'' Zverev said following his third-round win on Friday. 'And that was it, nobody said anything else.' Rather than get discouraged when his much younger brother surpassed him, however, Zverev found inspiration. After failing to qualify for 11 straight Grand Slams dating back to 2002, he finally broke the drought by making the main draw at last year's U.S. Open and finished the year strongly, reaching the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Masters and notching wins over U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios. 'I always say, when I see (Alexander) beat those top guys, I start believing in myself because every time we practice, I can kind of compare my game with his level,' Zverev said. 'And if I feel like I can keep up with him, that means I can keep up with other guys, too.' Zverev's high-risk serve-and-volley strategy doesn't always work, as his 6-1, 6-1 drubbing by Rafael Nadal at an Australian Open tune-up event shows. But he was undeterred heading into his match against Murray. 'If he plays his best tennis, I mean, obviously, I don't think I have a lot of chances. Let's see if I can annoy him a little bit,' Zverev predicted. 'If I'm serving well and not missing any volleys, maybe I can do some damage.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News14 hr. 41 min. ago

Serena Williams, Barbora Strycova renew Grand Slam rivalry

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams and Barbora Strycova meet for the third time on Monday, and once again it's on one of the grandest stages in tennis. Williams, seeking her Open era-record 23rd major title, has beaten the Czech player both previous times. Both were in 2012 and in straight sets at majors — in the second round at the Australian Open, and in the first round at Wimbledon. They come into Monday's opening match on Rod Laver Arena without having dropped a set in their three previous matches. But that's where the similarity ends: Strycova's fourth-round appearance last year at Melbourne Park was her best result here; Williams is a six-time champion. Still, Strycova wouldn't have it any other way. 'That's why you train, why you work hard, to play these matches on these stages and against the best one,' she said. 'She's a powerful player, and I'm so small. 'I don't give anything for free, and I fight all the time. She's human, and she is beatable.' And more about that height difference: Strycova is 1.64 meters (5 foot-4), Williams is 1.75 (5 foot-9). Williams said she's familiar with Strycova's game 'I have seen her play a lot ... she's super fit, she has a good game, she's very aggressive, Williams said. Here is a brief look at some of the other matches Monday which complete the fourth round: ____ No. 9 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 6 Gael Monfils: The Spanish lefthander has beaten the often- acrobatic Monfils 12 out of the 14 times they've played, and the last four matches in a row. Nadal, the 14-time Grand Slam champion and only remaining major winner in this half, is coming off a tough five-set, four-hour win over 19-year-old Alexander Zverev. U.S. Open semifinalist Monfils beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets. They open night play on Rod Laver Arena. _ No. 3 Milos Raonic vs. No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut: Raonic has had a cold and fever since his first-round match, but his career record against Bautista Agut might make him feel better — he's 4-0. '(He) tries to take over a little bit more with the forehand. Also, you know, doesn't suck you in as much into his game,' Raonic said. ' So I've been able to find the solutions for him a few times in the past ... it's going to be a match that I'm going to have to step up and dictate and take it on my terms.' _ No. 9 Johanna Konta vs. No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova, the rematch: Konta came out of nowhere last year to make it to the semifinals here to start a breakout year. She won the Sydney International to this season. She owns a 3-0 record against Makarova, a semifinalist at Melbourne Park in 2015. 'We played fourth round last year here and we had an incredibly close one, I believe it was 10-8 (actually it was 8-6) in the third. I'm ready for a battle and it will be nothing short of that.' _ No. 5 Katarina Pliskova vs. No. 22 Daria Gavrilova: Last year's U.S. Open finalist Pliskova will attempt to end the strong run of the Russian-born Australian. Pliskova has beaten Gavrilova both previous times they played. 'I'm used to having the crowd against me, so nothing's going to surprise me,' Pliskova said. Gavrilova said Pliskova was playing 'unbelievable' tennis and that at the beginning of the tournament, she picked Pliskova to win it, if it wasn't her. _ No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov vs. wild-card entry Denis Istomin: both have played some difficult and high-profile matches: Dimitrov beat Richard Gasquet in straight sets in a match that began two minutes before midnight and ended around 2 a.m. Sunday. Istomin upset second-seeded and six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the second round. They'll play late Monday afternoon on Margaret Court Arena. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News17 hr. 26 min. ago

Magnitude 8 quake hits Solomon Islands; no tsunami reported

Magnitude 8 quake hits Solomon Islands; no tsunami reported.....»»

Category: worldSource:  philstarRelated News20 hr. 26 min. ago

Venus Williams reaches quarterfinals at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Venus Williams has returned to the quarterfinals for the ninth time at the Australian Open, where she first made the last eight on debut in 1998. The 36-year-old, seven-time major winner had a 6-3, 7-5 fourth-round win Sunday over No. 181-ranked Mona Barthel, who won three matches in qualifying and then beat two Australian wild cards and Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig in the first three rounds. Williams will next play No. 24-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-3 in the opening match of Day Seven at Rod Laver Arena. Pavlyuchenkova's win over fellow Russian Kuznetsova left Williams as the only Grand Slam winner left in that quarter of the draw. 'I was really challenged to play my best tennis,' Williams said. 'It's wonderful to get through to the quarterfinals against an opponent who's on fire.' Williams hasn't advanced beyond the quarterfinal round at Melbourne Park since her loss to younger sister, Serena, in the 2003 final. But she hasn't lost a set en route to the quarterfinals this year. Against Barthel, she won 90 percent of points when she got her first serve into play, hit 31 winners and four aces while not serving any double-faults. 'This is what you do all the hard work in the off-season for,' she said. 'It's wonderful to be able to advance even further.' Barthel was the lowest-ranked player to reach the fourth round of the women's draw here since 2010, although she has a career-high ranking of 23 and was consistently top 50 before an illness last year caused her slide down the rankings. 'I know what it's like to be down on my luck,' Williams said. 'We've played a couple of touch matches before. Today I expected to have some competition.' Defending champion and No. 1-ranked Angelique Kerber was playing CoCo Vandeweghe in the last night match. It's a lot more crowded on the top quarter of the men's draw, which features matches later Sunday involving top-ranked Andy Murray against Mischa Zverev and Roger Federer against Kei Nishikori. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2017

Fire hits Zambo village; 55 families left homeless - Sun.Star

Fire hits Zambo village; 55 families left homeless - Sun.Star.....»»

Category: newsSource:  googlenewsRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017