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Cilic joins elite group by reaching Australian Open final

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Marin Cilic has joined an elite group at the season-opening Grand Slam, becoming just the second man outside the so-called Big Four to reach the Australian Open final in a decade. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have dominated the finals here since 2009, with only 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka breaking the quartet's court occupation in the men's championship match. After his 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-2 semifinal win over No. 49-ranked Kyle Edmund, Cilic could face one of the Big Four on Sunday night. That's if defending champion Roger Federer can get past Hyeon Chung on Friday night. "Now I have two days off — it's going to be a nice one on Sunday," he said. Cilic lost to Federer in last year's Wimbledon final, but beat the Swiss star on the way to his own Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open in 2014. The 29-year-old Cilic was under pressure early against Edmund and had to fend off break points in the opening game. He held and quickly got on top in the first set and, after maintaining his composure in a nervy second set tiebreaker, quickly established a break in the third set against the tiring British player. "I think in that second set, I was just a little up and down with my game. I wasn't getting enough returns back to put pressure on him in his service games," Cilic said. "I noticed that in the third game in third set, when I broke him, he just let a couple balls go past him. ... I was seeing with this movement he was a little bit restricted so I just tried to move the ball around." Cilic didn't face another break point after the opening game and took advantage of his experience, while Edmund got heated in his first major semifinal, arguing with the chair umpire over a call in the fifth game of the second set and demanding the tournament supervisor come onto court to explain the ruling. Wins over U.S. Open runner-up Kevin Anderson in the first round and in the quarterfinal over No. 3-seeded Grigor Dimitrov took a toll on Edmund, but Cilic praised him for a breakthrough major. "He's playing great tennis, last couple years he improved a lot." Cilic said. "He had an extremely tough run to the semis, couple five setters and four setters, as well. Definitely it left some scars on his body. I can feel that, too." It took Cilic 10 attempts to reach the final in Australia, equaling an Open era record held by Kim Wawrick. He lost a semifinal in 2010 to Murray, and said he benefited from the experience......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 25th, 2018

Federer reaches 7th Australian Open final after Chung retires

MELBOURNE, Australia --- Roger Federer has moved to within one win of a 20th Grand Slam singles title after reaching a record seventh Australian Open final when Hyeon Chung retired from their semifinal on Friday night. Defending champion Federer was leading 6-1, 5-2 when Chung retired because of blisters on his left foot. Federer, who spent just over an hour on court, will play No. 6-seeded Marin Cilic in the final on Sunday night. "I've played with blisters in the past a lot, and it hurts a lot. And at one point, it's just too much and you can't take it anymore --- you can't go on," said Federer, who will be contesting his 30th major final. "That's why this one feels bitterswe...Keep on reading: Federer reaches 7th Australian Open final after Chung retires.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 26th, 2018

Nadal, Dimitrov advance to Australian Open quarterfinals

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — If Rafael Nadal wanted a fitness test in the first week of the Australian Open, he got one in his almost four-hour, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 win over Diego Schwartzman. No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov did it tough, too, before advancing to the quarterfinals at the expense of the last Aussie in the draw. Dimitrov avenged a loss two weeks ago to Nick Kyrgios with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4) win over Nick Kyrgios on Sunday night. He'll next face Kyle Edmund, who reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal with a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 win over Andreas Seppi earlier in the afternoon and could relax and watch the night-time entertainment. Nadal, with his spot in a 10th Australian Open quarterfinal secure, draped an arm around his Argentine friend Schwartzman and patted him on top of the head after they met at the net. "A great battle ... he's a good friend of mine," Nadal said. "This is the first big match that I played in 2018. That's confidence for myself ... confidence I can resist for four hours on court at a good intensity." Nadal lost last year's Australian Open final to Roger Federer, but went on to regain the No. 1 ranking and win the French and U.S. Open titles before bringing his season to a premature end because of an injured right knee. He didn't play a competitive match before the season-opening major, and advanced through three rounds without dropping a set. That streak finished when Schwartzman took the second set, rebounding three times after dropping serve to break back against Nadal and level the match. Nadal lifted to win the third, but Schwatzman didn't relent. The second game of the fourth set lasted almost 13 minutes and 20 points, with Nadal finally holding after saving five break points. The 16-time major winner broke again in the next game and withstood more break points — seven in all in the last set and 15 of 18 in the match — before clinching it in 3 hours, 51 minutes. "It was a good test for me. It was a lot of hours on court. Moments under pressure," Nadal said. "So, yeah, a lot of positive things that I managed well." Nadal will next play 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who collected his 100th Grand Slam match win with a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (3) victory over No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta. "I had the 300th win of my career at the U.S. Open in 2014, so this is also beautiful one," Cilic said of his latest major milestone. "I hope I'm going to continue and gather three more here." Caroline Wozniacki continued to cash in on her second chance, reaching the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2012 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova. After saving match points and coming back from 5-1 down in the third set of her second-round win, No. 2-ranked Wozniacki said she was "playing with the house money" and had nothing to lose. "I played really well from being down 5-1 ... since then I've just kept that going," she said. After a tight tussle in the opening four games against No. 19-seeded Rybarikova, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, Wozniacki dominated the fourth-round match and conceded only six points in the second set. She tried a between-the-legs shot for the first time in a tour-level match. "I think you can tell my confidence is high," Wozniacki said in an on-court TV interview. "I tried a tweener today and it went in." Wozniacki next plays Carla Suarez Navarro, who came back from a set and 4-1 down to beat No. 32 Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-4, 8-6. Elise Mertens reached the quarterfinals in her Australian Open debut, beating Petra Martic 7-6 (5), 7-5 to extend her winning streak to nine matches including a title run at the Hobart International. _____ More AP coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2018

LeBron s free agency decision could swing NBA s balance of power

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

Get ready for Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova in Paris

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — If the upcoming French Open showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova provides any of the sort of animus and back-and-forth they manage to stir up away from the court, look out. During a news conference after both won Saturday to set up the longtime rivals' fourth-round matchup at Roland Garros, Williams criticized Sharapova's autobiography as "hearsay" and twice brought up the Russian's 15-month doping ban. Producing by far the best performance in her return to Grand Slam tennis — 16 months after her last major tournament and nine months after having a baby — Williams played cleanly and powerfully in a 6-3, 6-4 tour de force against 11th-seeded Julia Goerges that lasted a mere 75 minutes and lacked much in the way of theatrics. "There is still a ways to go, but it's moving in the right direction," said Williams, who made only three unforced errors in the first set, 12 in all. "And I think that as long as it's moving in the right direction, I know I will get there." Sharapova advanced with a similarly lopsided win, 6-2, 6-1 against 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova. Now comes the drama: Williams vs. Sharapova on Monday with a quarterfinal spot at stake. They have verbally clashed in the past, such as a 2013 public spat about their private lives. Williams, 36, owns 23 major singles titles. Sharapova, 31, has won five. Williams has won the French Open three times, Sharapova twice. They are the only active women with a career Grand Slam; they are two of six in history to accomplish that. Both have been ranked No. 1. But the head-to-head history is overwhelmingly in Williams' favor: She has won 19 of 21 meetings, including 18 in a row. "Quite frankly, she's probably a favorite in this match, for sure," Williams said with a chuckle. "She's been playing ... for over a year now. I just started. So I'm just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go." The last time Sharapova beat Williams was in 2004. The last time they played was in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals, Sharapova's final appearance before her 15-month drug suspension. "Well, it's been a while," Sharapova said, "and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us, in very different ways." Williams was asked about Sharapova's book, which was published last year. It contains quite a bit of material about the American, including a reference to Williams crying in the locker room after losing to Sharapova in the Wimbledon final 14 years ago. "As a fan, I wanted to read the book and I was really excited for it to come out and I was really happy for her. And then the book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest," Williams said. "I was, like, 'Oh, OK, I didn't expect to be reading a book about me — that wasn't necessarily true.'" Insisting she doesn't "have any negative feelings" toward Sharapova, Williams said "the success of one female should be the inspiration to another." Seconds later, Williams made reference to Sharapova's "incident of drugs." There were plenty of other results involving top names at the French Open on Saturday. Other women moving into the fourth round included 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time runner-up Simona Halep, two-time major title winner Angelique Kerber and reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. Men's winners included 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Marin Cilic, No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 6 Kevin Anderson and No. 9 John Isner. The story of Day 7, though, was what everyone can look forward to on Day 9: Williams vs. Sharapova. This is Williams' first Grand Slam tournament since January 2017, when she won the Australian Open while pregnant. The American made a brief foray on the tour earlier this season, but she played only four matches. She had some problems in her initial two outings in Paris, including in the second round, when she dropped the first set against 17th-seeded Ashleigh Barty before — as Williams herself put it — "Serena came out." Against Goerges, the careless errors were largely absent. The missing energy was back. In front of a crowd that included former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, it took 15 minutes for Williams to gain the upper hand, sprinting to reach a drop shot and whip a cross-court forehand passing winner for a 3-1 lead. Williams yelled loudly and raised her fist. It was almost as if she'd never left the scene. "Any time you play against Serena, you know what you're up against. You know the challenge that is upon you," Sharapova said. "Despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best players.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

Panel hopes to end US NCAA one-and-dones

By Ralph D. Russo, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The most difficult part of the NCAA’s attempt to clean up college basketball begins now. Hours after former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presented the Commission on College Basketball’s sweeping recommendations for reforming a sport weighed down by corruption, NCAA leaders set in motion the process for turning those ideas into reality. The NCAA Board of Governors, a group of 16 university presidents and the association’s highest ranking body, unanimously endorsed all the commission’s recommendations Wednesday. Now it’s up to various subcommittees, working groups and college administrators to dig into a mountain of work over the next three months as the NCAA attempts to change NBA draft rules, create a new enforcement body, toughen penalties for rules violations, revamp summer recruiting and certify agents. All while trying to get buy-in from organizations that might not be motivated to help. “It’s going to be a challenge to say the least,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “This is a pace of decision making that the association’s really never done on this kind of scale before.” The Division I Council, comprised mostly of athletic directors and headed by Miami AD Blake James, has the job of turning the recommendations into rules. That requires feedback from schools, then council votes with some conference votes counting more heavily than others. Each proposal then goes to the Board of Directors, where a majority vote is needed to send it to the Board of Governors for final approval. It’s a winding path — crossing 351 Division I schools with varied priorities and concerns — and requiring consensus building and compromise for measures to pass. NCAA rule changes can sometimes take a full calendar year to sort out. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t let the good fall victim to the perfect here,” Emmert said. “Nobody believes we’re going to get everything perfect the first time through.” The independent commission Rice led released a much-anticipated and detailed 60-page report , seven months after the group was formed in response to a federal corruption investigation that rocked college basketball. Ten people, including some assistant coaches, have been charged in a bribery and kickback scheme , and high-profile programs such as Arizona, Louisville and Kansas have been tied to possible NCAA violations. “They believe the college basketball enterprise is worth saving,” Rice told the AP of commission members in an interview before addressing NCAA leaders. “We believe there’s a lot of work to do in that regard. That the state of the game is not very strong. We had to be bold in our recommendations.” The proposals were wide-ranging, falling mostly into five categories: NBA draft rules, specifically the league’s 19-year-old age limit that has led to so-called one-and-done college players; non-scholastic basketball such as AAU leagues and summer recruiting events; the relationship between players and agents; relationships with apparel companies; and NCAA enforcement. “Some people like some of (the recommendations) more than others, which is human nature, but as a board we’re unanimous in the endorsement and the acceptance of these recommendations for the NCAA,” said Minnesota President Eric Kaler, chairman of the Division I Board of Directors. It’s not yet clear how the governing body would pay for some of the proposals, though the NCAA reported revenues of more than $1 billion dollars for fiscal year 2017 in its most recent financial disclosures. The commission offered harsh assessments of toothless NCAA enforcement, as well as the shady summer basketball circuit that brings together agents, apparel companies and coaches looking to profit on teenage prodigies. It called the environment surrounding hoops “a toxic mix of perverse incentives to cheat,” and said responsibility for the current mess goes all the way up to university presidents. It also defended the NCAA’s amateurism model, saying paying players a salary isn’t the answer. “The goal should not be to turn college basketball into another professional league,” the commission wrote in its report. The commission did leave open the possibility that college athletes could earn money off their names, images and likenesses, but decided not to commit on the subject while the courts are still weighing in. Rice called the crisis in college basketball “first and foremost a problem of failed accountability and lax responsibility.” ONE-AND-DONE The commission emphasized the need for elite players to have more options when choosing between college and professional basketball, and to separate the two tracks. The commission called for the NBA and its players association to change rules requiring players to be at least 19 years old and a year removed from graduating high school to be draft eligible. The one-and-done rule was implemented in 2006, despite the success of straight-from-high-school stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. “I’m confident they are going to be very supportive,” Emmert said of the NBA and NBAPA. The NBA and players union praised the recommendations on enforcement and expressed concerns about youth basketball. On draft eligibility rules, however, there was no commitment. “The NBA and NBPA will continue to assess them in order to promote the best interests of players and the game,” they said. The commission did, however, say if the NBA and NBPA refuse to change their rules in time for the next basketball season, it would reconvene and consider other options for the NCAA, such as making freshmen ineligible or locking a scholarship for three or four years if the recipient leaves a program after a single year. “One-and-done has to go one way or another,” Rice told the AP. ENFORCEMENT The commission recommended harsher penalties for rule-breakers and that the NCAA outsource the investigation and adjudication of the most serious infractions cases. Level I violations would be punishable with up to a five-year postseason ban and the forfeiture of all postseason revenue for the time of the ban. That could be worth tens of millions to major conference schools. By comparison, recent Level I infractions cases involving Louisville and Syracuse basketball resulted in postseason bans of one year. Instead of show cause orders, which are meant to limit a coach’s ability to work in college sports after breaking NCAA rules, the report called for lifetime bans. “The rewards of success, athletic success, have become very great. The deterrents sometimes aren’t as effective as they need to be. What we want are deterrents that really impact an institution,” said Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins, who was a member of the Rice commission. AGENTS The commission proposed the NCAA create a program for certifying agents , and make them accessible to players from high school through their college careers. AAU AND SUMMER LEAGUES The NCAA, with support from the NBA and USA Basketball, should run its own recruiting events for prospects during the summer , the commission said, and take a more serious approach to certifying events it does not control. APPAREL COMPANIES The commission also called for greater financial transparency from shoe and apparel companies such as Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. These companies have extensive financial relationships with colleges and coaches worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and Adidas had two former executives charged by federal prosecutors in New York in the corruption case......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

Nicklaus cautions from experience against a Masters letdown

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press Tiger Woods built his comeback around the Masters, as was the case even in healthier years. He took a step back at Augusta National, not breaking par until the final round and finishing 16 shots behind Patrick Reed, the most he has trailed the Masters winner. Woods wasn't alone in his disappointment. Jordan Spieth geared his early part of the year toward being ready for the Masters, the major he says he most wants to win. He had a two-shot lead after the first round, and rounds of 74-71 meant even that closing 64 wasn't enough. Phil Mickelson took himself out of the hunt with a 79 in the second round. Jack Nicklaus can understand how they feel, and his message for anyone who puts so much emphasis on a green jacket is that the show goes on. "I had to learn that there were other tournaments in the country after Augusta," Nicklaus said at the Masters after hitting the ceremonial first tee shot. "I played Augusta a lot of times and lost. I won in '63, '65 and '66, and I just expected to win every year. I thought I would just continue to do that." Nicklaus missed the cut in 1967. He says that started a three-year trend in which it took him longer than it should have to get over not winning the Masters. "That was a humbling experience to miss the cut after you've won it twice in a row," he said. "But then the next couple of years, I think that it probably destroyed the rest of my year. Because I was so disappointed at not winning at Augusta that I had a downer most of the year." There's some truth to that. He didn't go more than two tournaments before winning again after the 1963, 1964 and 1965 Masters. After he repeated at Augusta in 1966, he ran off five consecutive top fives before winning the British Open at Muirfield to complete the career Grand Slam. But after missing the cut in 1967, he went five tournaments without winning and had one stretch of 10 straight rounds in which he failed to break 70. The following year when he tied for fifth at the Masters, Nicklaus didn't win again until the Western Open the first weekend in August. And after a tie for 23rd in the 1969 Masters, he didn't win again until the Sahara Invitational in October. "I put such a buildup to this tournament and the importance of winning that first major that it was to my detriment more times than a positive," he said. Nicklaus figured it out. Over the next four years, he never went more than three events after the Masters before winning again. Twice, in 1971 and 1973, he won in his next start after failing to win the Masters. CURTIS CUP Four years after Lucy Li qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at age 11, the Californian is headed to her first Curtis Cup. Li was among eight women selected for the June 8-10 matches against amateurs from Britain and Ireland at Quaker Ridge in New York. Li is the first 15-year-old to make the American team since Lexi Thompson in 2010. The other Americans selected for the team are UCLA star Lilia Vu, Andrea Lee, Jennifer Kupcho, Kristen Gillman, U.S. Women's Amateur champion Sophia Schubert, Lauren Stephenson and Mariel Galdiano. Lee and Galdiano played in the most recent Curtis Cup, which Britain & Ireland won in Ireland. AS THE WORLD TURNS For the second time since the World Golf Championships began in 1999, the PGA Tour is converting one of its regular tournaments into one of the four WGCs with a big purse ($10 million this year) and a limited field with no cut. Doral had been longest-running PGA Tour event on the Florida Swing until it morphed into the WGC-CA Championship in 2007. Now it's happening in Memphis, Tennessee. Bridgestone chose not to renew its increasingly expensive title sponsorship of the WGC at Firestone, which had hosted an elite event since 1976. Starting next year, the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will move to the TPC Southwind in Memphis. That will assure the strongest field for Memphis, which dates to 1958. But much like Doral in 2007, it becomes off-limits to PGA Tour regulars. Based on this week's world ranking, only 16 players in the field for the St. Jude Classic last year would be eligible at a World Golf Championship. BALANCE AT THE TOP Each generation believes it had stronger and deeper competition, though there at least appears to be more balance. Perhaps one way to measure that is through Tiger Woods. When he won the 2008 U.S. Open for his 14th major, only seven other players in the top 20 in the world ranking had combined for 13 majors. Phil Mickelson (No. 2), Ernie Els (No. 5) and Vijay Singh (No. 9), each had three majors. Geoff Ogilvy (No. 4), Jim Furyk (No. 10), Padraig Harrington (No. 13) and Trevor Immelman (No. 15) each had one. Just like then, four of the top five in the world have won majors (all but 23-year-old Jon Rahm). However, 12 of the top 20 in the world from this week's rankings have won majors. The top 20 includes Mickelson (now with five majors), Rory McIlroy (four majors), Jordan Spieth (three majors) and Bubba Watson (two majors). Eight other players have won at least one major. It's certainly younger at the top. Woods was 32 when he won his last major, and only three players from the top 10 were in their 20s — Scott, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose. This week, seven of the top 10 in the world are in their 20s. MANAGEMENT MOVES Jordan Spieth's manager has come full circle and is returning to IMG, and Jay Danzi is bringing his top client with him. Danzi has become a partner with California-based William Morris Endeavor, which owns IMG. Included in the move is Jordan Lewites, who was handling much of Spieth's day-to-day operations, and Laura Moses, who heads up Spieth's foundation. Spieth will be represented by WME and IMG. "Jordan is a world-class talent, and we're excited to welcome him to the family," said Patrick Whitesell, executive chairman of Endeavor. "When you look at what he and Jay have already accomplished and consider WME and IMG's ability to amplify Jordan's reach across entertainment and sports, the possibilities are endless." Danzi previously worked for IMG as global head of recruiting for its golf business. He left the Cleveland-based agency for Wasserman, and then started his own company (Forefront Sports Group) when he signed Spieth. The centerpiece of getting Spieth was a bold endorsement with Under Armour. Lagardere bought Forefront in 2013. Along with managing the three-time major champion, Danzi was in charge of Lagardere's brand consulting, sales and golf consulting groups. He left Lagardere last month. DIVOTS Ted Potter Jr. tied for 16th in the RBC Heritage, notable because he had missed his last five cuts dating to his victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. ... Satoshi Kodaira was the first player without PGA Tour status to win a regular PGA Tour event since Arjun Atwal at the Wyndham Championship in 2010. ... Cameron Smith, a 24-year-old from Australia, tied for 32nd at Hilton Head last week and moved past Jack Nicklaus on the PGA Tour career money list. ... Bryson DeChambeau moved into the top 50 in the world ranking for the first time, at No. 48. ... With his tie for fifth in the Masters, Bubba Watson became the 16th player to surpass $40 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour. STAT OF THE WEEK Rickie Fowler has been in the top 10 on the leaderboard in 20 out of the 32 rounds he has played this season. FINAL WORD "I will probably not wear it every day. But it is special." — Satoshi Kodaira on the tartan jacket he received for winning at Harbour Town......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 18th, 2018

Are the Sixers too young for playoff success?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com The learning curve of the Philadelphia 76ers has taken on a new, more direct and simpler geometric shape. It’s now a straight line, pulled and yanked that way by an impatient team determined to take the expressway from now on. And so this is where The Process has led them, to the NBA playoffs, a place exclusively reserved for Big Boy Basketball, where we get to see if the Sixers will skip another floor in their rapid developmental rise or if youth is about to get served a lesson. Hey, if nothing else, it beats wiping away the stench of losing, which is what coach Brett Brown was doing this time the last few years before this club finally grew up and as we now see, blew up. "This year we exceeded 50 wins and when you do that, you get into NBA elite territory which is something different for us,” he said. “But what’s interesting is we want more. We have more room to grow and we want to do that now.” Yes, the Sixers, finally sprung free of the dark ages, have crashed the annual spring show and are doing so rather emphatically in addition to surprisingly. Surely you saw this coming this quickly, no? On Christmas Eve they were 14-18. Their sensational big man, Joel Embiid, was getting the kid glove treatment, rarely playing extended minutes or consecutive games because of his brittle injury history. Their top draft pick, Markelle Fultz, was out with a bad shoulder and a broken jumper. Obviously, they’d just emerged from their four years of Tankapalooza with the trepidation of a chick stumbling from the nest. And quite simply, four months ago they just weren’t good enough to be lumped with the lead pack. Yet. But since then, what the hell just happened? “This group has come together from a toughness standpoint, a spirit standpoint,” Brown said. To say the least. The Sixers are 50-game winners, with a strong Kia Rookie of the Year candidate in Ben Simmons and a top-10 talent in Embiid, whose orbital injury that cost him the final eight regular season games should be healed for the playoffs at some point. Everything has fallen into place to make Philly a basketball destination once again, and these Sixers find themselves in a unique situation heading into the weekend. That’s because the playoff landscape in the East is favorable for someone like Philly to pull a surprise or two. Can they last a round? Of course; they’ll be a favorite initially. How about reaching the Eastern Conference finals? That’s trickier, and it’ll come down to matchups, but stranger things have happened. And, the NBA Finals? Well. Consider that there’s no true beast taking up space in the East and sending shivers everywhere. All of the contenders are showing a scratch or two: Toronto brings a blah playoff history; some of LeBron James’ supporting cast in Cleveland is untested; the Celtics are without Kyrie Irving, not to mention Gordon Hayward. The Sixers are the wild card in the playoff picture. Their wart is their inexperience in these matters. And so: Are they too young to be taken seriously? “I understand why people might think that, but I think we’ll be fine,” said JJ Redick, the resident senior citizen at age 33. “I don’t expect any of us to play differently than we have lately. These young guys are all gamers.” The Sixers are uniquely built; their twin core of Simmons and Embiid has played a combined three NBA seasons. Redick is the only starter with playoff experience and is also the only player in the rotation who ever played a major role in the playoffs. The Sixers are cubs compared to most of the East, even those teams below them. Essentially, the veterans on the Sixers orbit around the youngsters, instead of vice versa. Brown regularly takes the temperature of his players and has yet to pause at the results he’s seeing. For the most part, this has worked out better than he and they expected. “At this stage you figure how you deliver a team to the playoffs, how do you arrive at the playoffs,” Brown said. “Well, you can check three boxes: Their health, their spirit and their form. And finally: Are they playing good basketball? They’re all very interconnected, they’re all closely intertwined. Those things rule my day when I watch film and see how hard and long we’re going to go in practice. These guys have embraced and improved in those areas. Our defense has been excellent and we’re regularly getting 30 assists as a team, another example of a team enjoying each other’s company.” This makes for an interesting postseason baptism. There’s hope in Philly that Simmons and Embiid and Robert Covington and Dario Saric won’t know the difference between March basketball and May basketball. “We’ll just come and play the same way we’ve been doing,” Simmons said. The other advantage for Philly is Simmons appears well beyond his years. His expression is stoic, no matter the game circumstances, and his poise has yet to shatter memorably and cost the Sixers when it counts. He’s giving 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists a night and had at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in 58 games, second only to Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. He is the first rookie in NBA history to average eight assists on a 50-win team. It remains to be seen how a 56-percent free throw shooter will respond if he’s put in that situation with the game on the line. Otherwise, his court direction and ability to reach the rim should not suffer from springtime stage fright. “Ben sits behind a glass wall and watches everyone else on the other side,” Redick said. “There’s nothing that affects him. He plays with the same demeanor and purpose no matter what’s going on around him. He brings a calm presence, and the maturity he plays with is beyond his years. Impressive.” Brown said: “He’s the stone cold Rookie of the Year and to me it’s not even close.” Philly’s best player is Embiid, though, and he’ll play with a mask once he does return, perhaps sometime in the first round. If he doesn’t suffer any lasting effects from the facial injury (vision, lack of balance), he’ll be the premier big man on the floor in the East. This allows the Sixers to exploit their low-post advantage over the Celtics, Raptors and Cavs should Philly meet any of those contenders along the way. The Sixers are also working with a pair of bonuses in Fultz and Ersan Ilyasova, two players they didn’t anticipate being in the playoff mix just a few months ago. Fultz is finally free of his shoulder woes and his shooting is starting to come around, to the point where Brown says he’ll find a role for Fultz in the rotation. Basically, the Sixers feel safe enough to put him on the floor, something that would’ve been a reach before he was activated, when he showed a nasty mechanical hitch in a jumper that somehow went south on him. “We don’t feel we’re going to be caught off guard with him,” Brown said. Ilyasova was gift-wrapped to Philly by the Hawks at midseason and has since been a solid source of scoring (17 points in a two-point win over Cleveland last week) and deepened the Sixers’ bench, allowing Brown to use a variety of different lineups and strategies. In all, the manner in which the season has come together is paying off at the right time for Philly. “We didn’t have this level of maturity in November and December,” Redick said. “If you look at some of our losses early in the season I felt they were immature losses. We’re more focused, more together, developed a mental toughness. Sometimes in life and in this league you have to go through things and experience things to grasp how to do them. There’s no better learning tool than the actual experience. So blowing a lead or coming back from a large halftime deficit, you have to do those things to understand that you can do it. Having those lessons early in the season has prepared us to have a great run since Christmas; we have the second best record in the league since then. This is better than what I expected or even hoped for. It’s been a long sustained growth period.” What does it all mean? Well, even though they’re entering the playoffs with the force of a hurricane, this isn’t the NCAA tournament. This is best-of-seven basketball, which means a team must prove itself worthy of moving on, instead of hoping to get lucky or hot. In the case of Philly and others in the East, that means beating LeBron four times in a series, and that hasn’t happened since 2010. You could also make the case the Sixers are playing with house money at this point, no matter what happens; after enduring The Process and painful progress, this is a blessing, a reward. The Sixers aren’t seeing it that way, though, not after growing up in a hurry. They want to seize the opportunity now, and any playoff success will largely depend on how they handle this as first-timers. Your guess is as good as Brown’s. “You really don’t know what to expect,” Brown said. “There’s no body of work. I will give our guys the benefit of the doubt. The poise they have shown in the regular season, the poise they’ve shown in big games and key moments, gives me tremendous confidence that we will handle this stage with a greater level of poise than what I might have guessed in October, or what I might have guessed not so long ago if you asked me questions about how will rookies and young guys handle this very different part of the season.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Venus, Halep win, Wozniacki upset at Indian Wells

By Beth Harris, Associated Press INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Venus Williams defeated Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 7-6 (8), 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday as the oldest woman in the draw. The 37-year-old American was coming off a straight-set victory over younger sister Serena a night earlier, ending a three-match skid against her sibling. "It was a quick turnaround from last night when it feels like, 'Hey, this is a final to you're only in the fourth round,'" Williams said on court. Playing under cloudy skies in 80-degree heat, Williams had her hands full with Sevastova, who used drop shots, top spin, lobs and jerked her 10-years-older opponent side to side. "There were some points where she just played and it was too good," Williams said. "I thought I was in control of the point and winning the point, and she turned it around. It's just real talent." After early losses in her first two tournaments of the year, Williams hasn't dropped a set at Indian Wells, where she has yet to reach the final in six previous appearances. Awaiting Williams in the quarterfinals is 27th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who beat American wild card Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-4. Simona Halep is on track to retain her No. 1 world ranking after defeating Wang Qiang of China 7-5, 6-1 in the fourth round. Halep is the only former Indian Wells winner left in the women's draw after No. 20 Daria Kasatkina upset No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 7-5. Wozniacki blew a 3-0 lead in the first set and was on the run most of the match before losing for the second time this year to the 20-year-old Russian. "She outsmarted me," Wozniacki said. By reaching the quarterfinals, Kasatkina is projected to surpass her career-best ranking of 17th. She has beaten all four current Grand Slam titleholders in the past year, including U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens in straight sets this week. "I'm playing best matches against the best players," Kasatkina said. "But as I say, if you want to be on the top, you have to beat the top players. So quite simple rule." Halep improved to 17-1 this year and needs only to reach the final to stay at the top. Next up for Halep is Petra Martic of Croatia, who beat Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (4). American teenager Amanda Anisimova's run of success ended in a 6-1, 7-6 (2) loss to No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Anisimova, a 16-year-old wild card, won her first three WTA Tour matches at Indian Wells, beating Pauline Parmentier, No. 23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova without dropping a set. "She's 16, so she's not scared," Pliskova said of Anisimova. "You can see she's hitting the ball without thinking. But everybody is playing like this when they are 16. I think this will change a little bit in the future, but for sure the game is good and not really any weakness. I think everything is pretty solid." Pliskova faces a quarterfinal against Naomi Osaka, who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 5-7, 6-1. Halep attended Venus Williams' straight-set victory over 36-year-old sister and new mother Serena on Monday night. "I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid," Halep said. "It's a great thing what they do for sport, and it's great that tennis has them. I have many things to learn from them. That's why I'm trying just to go in to watch every time I can." On the men's side, Gael Monfils retired in the second set with a back injury trailing fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 3-1. Monfils used an eight-minute injury timeout in the second set to get his back worked on before returning to the court and getting broken in fourth game. He then walked to the net and ended the match. Herbert moved on to a fourth-round matchup with Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who upset No. 2 seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4. Cilic won 19 of 23 points on his first serve, but failed to convert four break points against 31st-seeded Kohlschreiber, who snapped a 12-match skid against top-10 opponents. Herbert remains in contention for the $1 million bonus offered to a player who sweeps the singles and doubles titles. No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina defeated No. 29 David Ferrer of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (3) for the fifth straight time. With Cilic, Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, Monfils and John Isner all eliminated from his quarter of the draw, things are looking wide open for del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion. Top-ranked Roger Federer and del Potro are the highest seeds remaining. "I'm not thinking about that. I just want to keep winning," del Potro said. "Still far away from the final, but of course, any chance to play with Roger would be great." Del Potro's countryman, Leonardo Mayer, beat Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-1. Mayer next plays del Potro. No. 18 Sam Querrey rallied past Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-4 and will play No. 28 Feliciano Lopez of Spain. He spoiled a potential all-American quarterfinal by beating No. 8 Jack Sock 7-6 (8), 4-6, 6-4. No. 32 Milos Raonic of Canada defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 and will meet Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who beat lucky loser Dudi Sela of Israel 7-6 (7), 6-4......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 14th, 2018

Federer wraps up 20th slam title

MELBOURNE – Roger Federer powered home to beat Marin Cilic in five sets to win his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title in a riveting final on Sun.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 29th, 2018

Federer beats Cilic in Aussie final; wins 20th major title

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer has won his 20th Grand Slam singles title with a 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic in the Australian Open final. Back where his career resurgence began last year with an unexpected run to the title following a six-month injury layoff, Federer had an almost perfect title defense until he reached the second set of the final. After going through four years without winning a major, Federer has now won three of the last five. The 36-year-old Federer started with an intensity that stunned Cilic, getting service breaks in the first and third games and forcing his Croatian rival to go for a new racket after just 12 points. Federer only conceded two points on his serve in the opening set, which lasted just 24 minutes and was played under a closed roof on Rod Laver Arena because of the heat outside. But Cilic rallied in the second, getting his big forehand working and, after missing a set point on Federer's serve in the 10th game, leveled the match in the tiebreaker. Federer won the third set in 29 minutes and was up a break in the fourth but momentum swung fully again, with Cilic going on a roll to level the match. Federer's first-serve percentage plummeted from above 80 in the third set to 36 in the fourth as Cilic attacked. The fifth started with Federer fending off two break points to hold, then breaking Cilic for a 2-0 lead. Federer upped his level when it counted most, breaking Cilic again in the sixth game and then closing out love — including an unsuccessful challenge from Cilic on match point — to start his celebrations. Federer had won eight of their previous nine matches — his only defeat coming in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2014, where Cilic claimed his first major title......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 28th, 2018

UPDATE: Federer wins Australian Open for 20th Grand Slam title

ROGER Federer powered home to beat Marin Cilic in five sets to win his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title in a riveting final on Sunday. The Swiss defending champion dropped his only sets of the tournament before completing a 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over the sixth seeded Croatian in [...] The post UPDATE: Federer wins Australian Open for 20th Grand Slam title appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsJan 28th, 2018

Federer wins Australian Open for 20th Grand Slam title

Roger Federer powered home to beat Marin Cilic in five sets to win his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title in a riveting final on Sunday. The Swiss defending champion dropped his only sets of the tournament before completing a 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over the sixth seeded Croatian in 3hr 3min. Federer, playing in his 30th Grand Slam final, joined Novak Djokovic and Australian great Roy Emerson as joint top for the most Australian Open men's titles. He added to his already imposing win-loss record in Melbourne and is now 94-13. His overall his Grand Slam mark stands at 332-52. The roof was closed over Rod Laver Arena as the tournament's heat policy was im...Keep on reading: Federer wins Australian Open for 20th Grand Slam title.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 28th, 2018

Wozniacki wins 1st major title at Aussie Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It took Caroline Wozniacki 43 majors and two failed attempts in finals before finally claiming her first Grand Slam singles title. One of the first things she did as a champion was apologize to top-seeded Simona Halep following her 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4 win in the Australian Open final on Saturday night. "I'm sorry, I'm just taking a second to hug Daphne," Wozniacki said as she clutched the winner's trophy in the on-court ceremony. "I dreamt of this moment so many years, to be here now it's a dream come true." More than seven years after appearing in her first Grand Slam final at the 2009 U.S. Open, Wozniacki can finally erase the "but never won a major" footnote that has long been attached to her resume. "I'm never going to get the question again about being a world No. 1 without a Slam," she said after leaving the court. Wozniacki will regain the top ranking next week for the first time in six years — beating Serena Williams' record of 5 years, 29 days between stints at No. 1 on the women's tour — in another benefit of beating the top-seeded Halep. Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" played over the stadium speakers as the 27-year-old Danish player carried the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup around Rod Laver Arena. Wozniacki lost two U.S. Open finals — in 2009 and 2014 — and Halep lost two French Open finals before their meeting at Melbourne Park. It was the first time in the Open era that players ranked No. 1 and 2 were meeting in a major final without either having won a Grand Slam title. So the pressure was on. It was the first time in the Open era that both Australian Open finalists had saved match points before reaching the final, also, so in some ways the pressure was off. In Halep's case, she was the first player who had saved match points in multiple matches to have reached the final. She saved triple match point and rallied in the third set to beat Laura Davis 15-13 in the third set of her third-round match, and also needed to save match points in her semifinal against Angelique Kerber. Wozniacki saved match points in her second-round win over Jana Fett and later said she was relaxed because for the rest of the tournament she was "playing with the house money." So both players rolled the dice in the 2-hour, 49-minute final, which featured some long, absorbing rallies and 10 service breaks — including six in an eight-game run in the third set. "I know that today is a tough day," Wozniacki said to Halep. "I'm sorry I had to win today but I'm sure we'll have many matches in the future. Incredible match, incredible fight. And again, I'm sorry." Halep, who was playing with an injured left ankle and had rallied from a break down in the third set to lead 4-3 when Wozniacki took a medical time out to have her left knee taped, just ran out of steam. "It's not easy to talk now, she played amazing," Halep said. "It's been a great tournament for me. I started not very well with the ankle injury. I just wanted to give my best every match, which I did. Of course I'm sad I couldn't win today but Caroline was better than me. "Sad that I couldn't make it the third time, maybe the fourth time will be with luck." Wozniacki is the third first-time major winner in the four Grand Slam tournaments since Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open for her record 23rd Grand Slam title. Serena Williams, who beat her older sister, Venus, in last year's final, took time out for her pregnancy and the birth of her first child in September, and is preparing to return to competition next month......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2018

Halep and Wozniacki aim for Australian Open first

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki face off for the Australian Open title on Saturday in a culmination of two weeks of intense tennis that will see a new name engraved on the trophy. The Romanian is the top seed and the Dane number two, with the evening decider on Rod Laver Arena having an extra enticement for both players with the number one world ranking at stake. Defeat for Halep would see her toppled by Wozniacki, who is currently second. Defending men's champion Roger Federer plays Croat Marin Cilic in the men's final on Sunday. The Swiss ace, who leads Cilic 8-1 in their previous meetings, is targeting an incredible 20th Grand Slam title and...Keep on reading: Halep and Wozniacki aim for Australian Open first.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 27th, 2018

Cilic obstacle in way of Nadal’s semifinal quest

Rafael Nadal sees his quarterfinal showdown with big-match player Marin Cilic on Tuesday as the time to crank up his Australian Open offensive for Grand Slam number 17. The Spanish world No.1 has been in ominous form in the first week after coming into the year's opening major tournament with knee concerns. Nadal, who lost to Roger Federer in last year's final, overcame tenacious Argentine Diego Schwartzman in a classic round of 16 encounter and will have to get past former US Open champion Cilic to reach the semi-finals. In Tuesday's other quarter-final in the top half of the draw, Bulgaria's world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov is up against British hope and 49th-ranked Kyle Edmund for a pl...Keep on reading: Cilic obstacle in way of Nadal’s semifinal quest.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2018

Kerber pulls through a surprising challenge, faces Keys next

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Angelique Kerber remains the only Grand Slam singles winner in the Australian Open women's draw after surviving a frustrating fourth-round match. For a while, though, it appeared Kerber's progression may have unraveled against No. 88 Hsieh Su-wei, a former top-ranked doubles player with a double-handed grip on both sides. With a mix of slice and chips, lobs and bunts, whippy half-volleys and wristy crosscourt ground strokes off both wings, Hsieh pushed Kerber to the extremes and unsettled her rhythm. Former No. 1-ranked Kerber finally got a succession of breaks to take the second set and dominate the third in a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory on Monday afternoon. "Credit to her. She played an unbelievable match," said Kerber, who won the Australian and U.S. Open titles and reached No. 1 in 2016. "I was feeling I was running everywhere. She was playing a lot of corners and drop shots. I was bringing a lot of balls back." After holding it together to improve her 2018 winning streak to 13, Kerber faces U.S. Open quarterfinalist Madison Keys in the quarterfinals. Keys returned to the quarterfinals here for the first time in three years with a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 8-seeded Caroline Garcia. She has yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park and is averaging a brisk 62.5 minutes on court through her first four rounds. Going into the fourth round, Keys had only dropped 14 games — the second fewest among the women through three rounds, just behind Kerber's 13 games. Keys, the only American woman to reach the fourth round, said she feels like she's playing without pressure since returning from her wrist injury that forced her out of last year's Australian Open. "I definitely realize how much l love it and how much pressure I put on myself," in the past, she said. "Just being really happy to be back out here and not at home in a cast." Hsieh certainly made the most of her time back in the spotlight, returning to the fourth round at a major for the first round in a decade. She took out one major winner — Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza — in the second round, and took a set off an almost dumbfounded Kerber to open the fourth. Kerber, returning from a form slump that saw her ranking drop into the 20s in 2017, had to produce some of her best tennis. She finished a 14-shot rally early in the second set by racing to the net and reaching at full stretch to track down a drop shot and send a forehand winner over the net post. The 30-year-old German player had to serve to stay in the match in the ninth game of the second set. Then, after winning four straight points and converting a break-point chance with a sliding forehand winner down the line, Kerber crouched and screamed to celebrate the point. She served out the set at love and then got critical service breaks in the first and fifth games of the final set as Hseih began to tire and started to miss the lines. Hsieh has won two Grand Slam doubles titles, and was ranked No. 1 in doubles in 2014 but had a career-high singles ranking of 23. At age 32, she was oldest woman still in the singles draw. Recent work with former doubles champion — and Australian Open tournament director — Paul McNamee paid off with her singles ranking expected to rise again. She'll likely also attract more attention from sponsors after going through the singles in an unadorned white tank top and black skirt. On the men's side, Tomas Berdych returned to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the seventh time after a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Fabio Fognini. Berdych has been this far at Melbourne Park for seven of the last eight years. The only time he's failed to reach at least the quarters was last year when he lost in the third round to Roger Federer. He could meet Federer again in the next round, if second-ranked Federer wins his fourth-round match against Marton Fucsovics later Monday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2018

Nadal a straight-sets winner to begin Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Top-seeded Rafael Nadal didn't show any side effects from a right knee injury that sidelined him at the end of last season, beating Victor Estrella Burgos 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round match. Nadal, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year, lost in last year's final here to Roger Federer. The Spanish lefthander has only lost in the first round at two Grand Slam singles tournaments — to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013, and to Fernando Verdasco in Melbourne in 2016. Nadal will play Leonardo Mayer in the second round on Wednesday. Mayer beat Nicolas Jarry 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-3 earlier Monday. In other matches: Caroline Wozniacki was an easy 6-2, 6-3 winner over Michaela Buzarnescu in a first-round match at Melbourne Park. At No. 2, Wozniacki is playing here at her highest seeding since appearing as the top-seeded player at the 2012 Australian Open when she lost in the quarterfinals. Wozniacki, seeded 19th in Melbourne last year, is still looking to win her first Grand Slam singles title. Add Jack Sock's name to the list of Americans departing Monday from the Australian Open. On the same day the U.S. lost eight women's players, including 2017 finalist Venus Williams and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, Sock was defeated by Japan's Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-1, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 in the first round. Sock, who's never advanced beyond the third round at the Australian Open, was the highest-ranked American man at No. 8 and had his highest seeding at a major. The American, who retired from a match against Sugita at the Hopman Cup to start the season, had 52 unforced errors compared to just 30 winners in the match. Sock is coming off a career-best season in which he won his first Masters title in Paris and qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time. He lost his first match of the new season last week in New Zealand, however, and was criticized afterward in the local media for appearing not to give his full effort in the match. Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the second round at the Australian Open for the seventh time with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Dennis Novak. Last year at Melbourne Park, Dimitrov equaled his best Grand Slam result, reaching the semifinals before losing to Rafael Nadal in five sets. He also lost a Wimbledon semifinal in 2014 to Novak Djokovic. Dimitrov has never lost to a qualifier in seven matches at a Grand Slam tournament, and has dropped only one set. American actor and comedian Will Ferrell watched the Rod Laver Arena match......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Golf Channel cameramen walk out on coverage amid Sony Open

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press HONOLULU (AP) — Union workers for video and audio production at Golf Channel events walked out Sunday over stalled contract negotiations, leading to limited coverage of the final round at the Sony Open and two other events in the Bahamas and Florida. Golf Channel said it has been negotiating an agreement for nine months with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union for tournament technicians at golf tournaments, such as the camera crew. The strike involves only tournaments that Golf Channel produces. The network also produces the CareerBuilder Challenge next week in Palm Desert, California. CBS Sports produces the following week at Torrey Pines, where Tiger Woods plays on the PGA Tour for the first time in a year. "Golf Channel has been working on negotiating an agreement for nine months with a union that represents our live tournament technicians," the network said in a statement. "Those efforts have not yet yielded a resolution, and we look forward to reaching a mutually agreeable contract. However, some technicians have chosen to walk off the job today. We have contingency plans in place, and will continue to deliver coverage." It declined further comment, such as how it will provide coverage. The Sony Open telecast was scheduled for 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern, and starting times are set for the final group to finish in that window. However, the PGA Tour moved up tee times by about an hour, so that the last group finishes around 9:15 p.m. Some three dozen IATSE members from Local 665 picketed outside the main road into Waialae Country Club in support of the Golf Channel's technical crew. John Culleeny, an international representative for the union, said its members wanted Golf Channel to meet industry standards. He was not specific on the talking points that stalled negotiations. The video and audio crew had talked about walking out during the third round Saturday but held back for another meeting. Culleeny said the next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday. Golf Channel is producing three tournaments next week — the CareerBuilder Challenge, another Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas and the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event on the Big Island of Hawaii. Along with the Sony Open, Golf Channel is televising the second round of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas, a 72-hole event that ends on Tuesday. It also is televising the unofficial Diamond Resorts Invitational in Orlando, Florida, for players from the PGA Tour Champions, LPGA Tour and celebrities. Golf Channel has headquarters in Orlando and likely will be able to have more complete coverage of that event. The PGA Tour sent notices to its players on all tours notifying them of the labor dispute. "We are working closely with our partners at the Golf Channel to provide as much television coverage as possible," the tour said in a statement. It said fans could follow the tournaments with real-time scoring on its website, through social media channels and PGA Tour Radio on SiriusXM for the Sony Open......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Vandeweghe, Goerges advance to WTA Elite Trophy final

ZHUHAI, China (AP) — Julia Goerges will take on CoCo Vandeweghe in the WTA Elite Trophy final on Sunday. Vandeweghe advanced with a convincing 6-3, 6-3 win over rising Australian star Ashleigh Barty on Saturday, while Goerges held serve throughout in her 6-3, 6-3 victory over seventh-seeded Anastasija Sevastova. "I think my results through my whole career have always been early exits or I go deep in tournaments," Vandeweghe said. "I play better the more I play on the court. I like to compete. I feel more comfortable, more confident with my strokes." Vandeweghe is looking for her first WTA title of the year. After this tournament she will travel to Minsk to be part of the United States team at the Fed Cup final against Belarus. Goerges has won eight straight matches, including the Kremlin Cup title in Moscow last month. "I would say it probably helps me a bit to have played already a lot of finals this year and to just come from a tournament win," the German said. The tournament in Zhuhai features the leading players on the women's tour who didn't qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore last week. The 12-player draw was divided into four groups of three, with the winner of each group advancing to the semifinals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2017

Krajinovic upsets Isner to face Sock in Paris Masters final

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Qualifier Filip Krajinovic reached the Paris Masters final after upsetting John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5) on Saturday. Isner was also playing for a berth in the elite eight-man ATP Finals, and that ended, too. Krajinovic slid onto his back and sobbed, his arms raised, after sealing victory on his first match point. The Serb then knelt and kissed the court. "When I served for the match my hand was shaking," Krajinovic said. "It was tough to control the emotions. Best day in my life but the tournament is not over yet." He will play for his first career title against another American, Jack Sock, who comfortably beat Julien Benneteau of France 7-5, 6-2. Sock has never won a Masters title and can qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals in London if he does so here. Sock dropped his serve twice but broke Benneteau five times. Sock will go for his third title of the year and fourth of his career. Benneteau is retiring. "I was able to ... play my game, swing big," Sock said. "I'm going to have to bring my A game tomorrow. ... Everyone knows (Krajinovic) is a very talented player and he's showcasing that." Isner didn't hide his disappointment. "I had an opportunity here to do some things (ATP Finals) I've never done before," Isner said. He was a runner-up in Paris last year and again fell short of an elusive first Masters title. "This one is going to sting because I knew I was the highest-ranked player in the semifinals," he said. Krajinovic is the lowest-ranked in a Masters final since 2003, when 191st-ranked Andrei Pavel made it in Paris. The 77th-ranked Krajinovic had won only 17 matches in his whole career — thwarted by injuries — before this tournament. He is also the first qualifier to reach a Masters final since Jerzy Janowicz in 2012, also in Paris. However, he was helped by not having to play his quarterfinal because top-ranked Rafael Nadal pulled out with a right knee injury. Nadal has not said whether he will be fit enough to play in the Finals, starting on Nov. 12. Serving for the first set, Krajinovic held to love. Isner dominated the second-set tiebreaker and leveled the match with an ace. Isner forged a break point at the start of the third set, but missed it with a wasteful forehand. Then he spurned another chance on Krajinovic's serve at 30-40 in the ninth game. "I missed the ball by a few inches," Isner said. "With how well I was serving today, that was essentially a match point." In a tense decisive tiebreaker, Isner led 3-0 but Krajinovic went 5-4 up. Isner's 31st ace tied it but a superb return to Isner's feet on the next point gave Krajinovic match point on his serve. Reaching the final is particularly sweet for a top-10 junior whose promising career was held back by an extra bone in his right wrist that needed treatment, following on from a right shoulder operation in 2011. "I really had big injuries. But I stayed calm," he said. "I knew that one day everything will come back." He hasn't forgotten the support from countryman Novak Djokovic during his injury layoffs. "We are very close friends," Krajinovic said. "He was helping me right after the injuries. He gave me a coach." Nor has he forgotten the sponsors who dropped him when he was down. "I break top hundred a couple years ago and then all of a sudden I have an extra bone in my wrist," he said. "It was mentally really tough because, you know, getting older and older all sponsors said no to me." A whipped forehand winner into an open side of the court was enough for victory, prompting wild celebrations from Krajinovic's coach, Petar Popovic, who was topless as he shook his fists in delight. "We started four months ago and it's going unbelievable," Krajinovic said. "I knew him since I was 10.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2017