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Davis Cup: Serbia leads Spain 2-0 as Novak Djokovic returns

BELGRADE, Serbia — Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki won their singles matches in straight sets to give Serbia a 2-0 lead against Spain in the Davis Cup quar.....»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarApr 8th, 2017

Nadal dismisses Djokovic, sets up Zverev clash in Rome final

ROME, Italy – Rafael Nadal closed in on an 8th Rome Masters title as he dismissed old rival Novak Djokovic 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 on Saturday, May 19, to reach the final for a record-extending 10th time. The Spanish top seed will meet second-seeded holder Alexander Zverev, a 7-6 (15/13), 7-5 winner over ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

Nadal beats Djokovic and will face Zverev for Rome title

The latest installment in the rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met expectations for one tight set......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

Nadal beats Djokovic and will face Zverev for Rome title

ROME --- The latest installment in the rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met expectations for one tight set. Then Nadal pulled away for a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win to reach the Italian Open final on Saturday. In their 51st meeting but first in more than a year, Nadal's court coverage eventually proved too much to handle for Djokovic, who is still regaining his form from a persistent right elbow injury. "That was a tough battle, a good level of tennis, a combination of good tactics and great shots from both of us," said Nadal, who has had injury trouble of his own over the past year. Nadal's opponent in Sunday's final will be defending champion Alexander Zverev, who recovered f...Keep on reading: Nadal beats Djokovic and will face Zverev for Rome title.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

Madrid draws at Villarreal 2-2 before Champions League final

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid showed Liverpool its strengths and weaknesses a week before their Champions League final. Madrid squandered first-half goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in drawing at Villarreal 2-2 on Saturday in its last match before attempting to win Europe's most coveted trophy for a third year in a row. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane aligned what could be his starting 11 for the final against Liverpool, except for giving 20-year-old son Luca Zidane his competitive debut in goal. Zidane left striker Karim Benzema on his bench in favor of starting Ronaldo and Bale alone up front and playing Francisco "Isco" Alarcon along with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos as playmakers in front of holding midfielder Casemiro. Madrid showed the same dominant form that has taken it to another Champions League final in the first half at Villarreal. But after Ronaldo and Modric were replaced by Benzema and Lucas Vazquez with half an hour remaining, Zidane's bunch displayed the same complacency and faulty defending that scuttled its Liga title defense months ago. The draw in the final round meant Madrid finished the Spanish league in third place behind Atletico Madrid and champion Barcelona. Bale opened the scoring with a solo effort in the 11th minute, and Ronaldo headed in a superb cross by Marcelo just after the half-hour mark. Fifth-place Villarreal outplayed the visitors in the second half and leveled through goals by substitutes Roger Martinez in the 70th and Samuel Castillejo in the 85th. "We played a very, very good first half, with determination, scoring goals, but the second half was the exact opposite," Zidane said. "The important thing is that we didn't have any injuries and can now rest well for next weekend. We are only thinking about winning the final." Bale, who struggled for most of the season to make Zidane's first-choice 11, has finished the season strong and appears to have earned a spot in the Champions League final. His opener against Villarreal, created when he let Modric's pass run through as he spun around his marker, was his 14th goal in the last 10 rounds. "Gareth has never given up," Zidane said. "He has trained well. Nothing has changed. The only difference is that now he is scoring." Ronaldo's goal was his 26th in the league. Barcelona's Lionel Messi leads the competition with 34. Castillejo snatched the draw after he raced behind Marcelo to receive a lobbed pass from Rodrigo Hernandez. Luca Zidane, who normally plays for Madrid's reserve team in the third divison, stopped his initial chipped shot but Castillejo slotted the rebound into the open net. Saudi Arabia midfielder Salem Al Dawsari made his Liga debut as a second-half substitute for Villarreal. ASPAS MAKES HIS CASE Iago Aspas made the most of his last chance to show Spain coach Julen Lopetegui that he deserves a spot on his World Cup squad. The striker scored twice to lead Celta Vigo's 4-2 win over Levante, taking his season tally for the league to 22, the most by a Spanish player. Aspas was regularly chosen by Lopetegui during World Cup qualifying. Celta announced after the match that coach Juan Carlos Unzue will leave the club and break his contract by mutual agreement. OTHER RESULTS Uruguay striker Christian Stuani scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season to lead Girona's 2-1 win at Las Palmas. Leganes fought back while playing with 10 men for over an hour to beat Real Betis 3-2 in a farewell of coach Asier Garitano, who won't stay on after a good season for the modest Madrid club. Wissam Ben Yedder gave Sevilla a 1-0 win over Alaves, and Loic Remy converted a penalty for Getafe to beat Malaga 1-0......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

Nadal, Djoko renew feud in Italian Open semis

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open semifinals – and three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova also reached the last four Friday......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

How can Rafa Nadal wrest top ranking from Roger Federer?

ROME, Italy – Rafael Nadal set up an Italian Open semi-final blockbuster against old rival Novak Djokovic after both former world number one players battled back in thrilling last-8 clashes on Friday, May 18. It will be the 51st meeting between the tennis superstars, but the second-ranked Nadal must get ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

Nadal and Djokovic to renew rivalry in Italian Open semis

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open semifinals — and three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova also reached the last four Friday (Saturday in Manila)......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

Nadal and Djokovic to renew rivalry in Italian Open semis

ROME --- Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open semifinals --- and three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova also reached the last four Friday. Nadal, who holds a record seven titles at the Foro Italico, overcame a poor first set and a partisan crowd to beat Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Then, four-time Rome winner Djokovic rallied past Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Nadal and Djokovic have played each other 50 times but their last meeting came more than a year ago, when Nadal won in the Madrid Open semifinals. "Tomorrow is going to be the ultimate challenge on clay," Djokovic said. "Beating Rafa is a really difficult thing to do on this ...Keep on reading: Nadal and Djokovic to renew rivalry in Italian Open semis.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

Fognini fires up Italian Open crowd with win over Thiem

ROME --- Fabio Fognini got the Italian Open crowd fired up with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 win over sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem to reach the third round Wednesday. Italy's top player came out wearing a black shirt with a red lightning bolt design down his chest and he was energized from the start, grazing the flower beds lining the court to return Thiem's high-bouncing topspin serves and frustrating the Austrian with well-placed lobs and touch volleys. "I played very well today," said Thiem, who beat Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open semifinals last week. "It was just him, he was very pumped playing at home." Nadal, a seven-time Rome champion, and four-time champion Novak Djokovic also ...Keep on reading: Fognini fires up Italian Open crowd with win over Thiem.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 17th, 2018

Verstappen fastest on 1st day of mid-season F1 tests

MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Max Verstappen recorded the fastest time through the first day of mid-season Formula One testing on Tuesday. Verstappen steered his Red Bull to a lap of 1 minute, 17.538 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where he finished Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix in third place behind winner Lewis Hamilton and runner-up Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton had the sixth fastest time and put in the most work of any driver with 151 laps in his Mercedes. Renault's Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari clocked the second- and third-quickest laps. Many teams used junior drivers, defined as a driver who has completed two or fewer races, as required by F1 regulations for in-season testing. Nicholas Latifi, driving for Force India, was the fastest of the inexperienced drivers with the fifth-best time behind Haas' Romain Grosjean in fourth. Toro Rosso had to change a power unit and kept reserve driver Sean Gelael to a session-low 50 laps. Testing in northeastern Spain concludes on Wednesday. Hamilton leads the standings with 95 points after five races. Vettel is second with 78......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 16th, 2018

Djokovic finds his feet on Rome clay after injury

ROME: Former world number one Novak Djokovic said Monday (Tuesday in Manila) he felt reassured to be back playing on the familiar red clay of Rome as he dispatched Alexandr Dolgopolov in straight sets in the first round. The 12-time Grand Slam champion, who won the last of his 68 ATP titles at the Canadian [...] The post Djokovic finds his feet on Rome clay after injury appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Djokovic keeps things in perspective after win in Rome

Novak Djokovic was not looking too far ahead after beating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-3 in the first round of the Italian Open......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Japan, Germany emerge victorious in inaugural FIVB Manila Open

Despite coming from countries which experience the cold confines of winter, Japan and Germany sizzled and came out as the Queens and Kings of the sand court at the conclusion of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open at the SM Sands by the Bay. The Japanese tandem of Nishibori Takemi and Kosano Ayumi defeated Spain's Paula Soria Gutierrez and María Belén Carro Márquez de Acuña despite the scorching bayside afternoon heat in straight sets, 21-14, 21-18. With the victory, the gold medallists have gone undefeated in the tournament, 6-0, while the silver medalists ended the tournament with a 5-1 slate.  Meanwhile, their countrymates were not as lucky in the bronze medal match, as the top-seeded Paraguay tandem of Erika Bobadilla and Michelle Amarilla managed to eke out a 21-17, 21-16 victory over Tanaka Shinako and Sakurako Fujii in the preceding match. Takemi and Nishibori advanced to the Finals after beating Tanaka and Fujii, 21-13, 21-16, in the semis while Bobadilla and Amarilla won over Soria Gutierrez and Carro Márquez de Acuña, 21-16, 21-15. #FIVBManilaOpen Women's Division Podium Finishers: 1st: Japan 🇯🇵 2nd: España 🇪🇸 3rd: Paraguay 🇵🇾@abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/PLxetGh9aN — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018 In the men's division, the Germans defeated the Russians as they came back and won a grueling three-set affair,15-21, 23-21, 15-9, to be crowned the kings of the Manila sand court. Max-Jonas Karpa and Milan Sievers took advantage of the visibly tired Russian duo of Petr Bakhnar and Taras Myskiv, finding open holes in the defense and winning jousts to take home the gold an a $1000 cash prize.  Meanwhile, Switzerland's Michiel Zandbergen and Gabriel Kissling won third after stifling Spanish brothers Javier and Alejandro Huerta Pastor in a thrilling match, 22-20, 19-21, 15-13. It was a see-saw third set which saw both teams exchanging leads. However, it seems the final change of the sides of the court did wonders for the Swiss nationals as Zandbergen emphatically rejected two straight attacks to clinch the third spot.  Bakhnar and Myskiv went to the finals by defeating the Huerta Pastor brothers, 21-18, 17-21, 21-18, while Karpa and Sievers won over Zandbergen and Kissling in the semis, 21-17, 21-16. #FIVBManilaOpen Men's Division Podium Finishers: 1st: Germany 🇩🇪 2nd: Russia 🇷🇺 3rd: Switzerland 🇨🇭@abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/hwwXsj5w75 — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018  The four-day tournament, which featured teams from 23 different countries, featured eight teams, four each for the men's and women's bracket from the Philippines. #FIVBManilaOpen winners celebrate at the podium with champagne @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/VdVEvPU3Ew — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018 UAAP beach volleyball veteran Sisi Rondina and Beach Volleyball Republic founder Dzi Gervacio, used their wit and skill up to the quarterfinals, where they bowed to Japan's Shinako Tanaka and Fujii Sakurako, which went to three sets and went in the favor of the Japanese, 13-21, 21-17, 11-15, Saturday afternoon. READ MORE: Kaya nating sumabay, kaya nating manalo -- Rondina “Sana ito na talaga ang reason why the Philippines should have a good, long term and continuous program for beach volleyball,” said Gervacio to ABS-CBN Sports' Mark Escarlote after their loss against Japan. “Kita naman natin na with just two weeks of practice, never ko ‘tong naging partner si Sisi and never ko itong naging teammate kahit saan but we’ve managed to play until the quarterfinals.” The former Ateneo Lady Eagle also hopes that this will be a springboard for the development of the popularity of the sport in the country. "Sana ito na ang heads up to everyone na, ‘Tara let’s start a beach volleyball program.’ We’ve won against USA and Canada and I think that’s a good turnout for someone who’s very young and a young team in beach volleyball." With the win in the one-star tournament, the participants recieved a $1000 prize for first, $700 for second, and $500 for third, coupled with their corresponding FIVB ranking points.       -- Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2018

Dominant Davis leads Pelicans past Warriors, 119-100

By BRETT MARTEL,  AP Sports Writer NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 33 points, 18 rebounds and four steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans defeated Golden State 119-100 on Friday night to trim the Warriors' series lead to 2-1. Davis was particularly dominant around the basket, scoring numerous times on dunks of the driving, put-back or alley-oop variety, and the Pelicans outscored the Warriors 54-36 in the paint. Jrue Holiday scored 21 for New Orleans and Ian Clark had 18 points against his former club for the Pelicans. Klay Thompson scored 26 for Golden State, but missed 13 of 22 shots. Stephen Curry, in his second game back after a sprained knee sidelined him more than a month, missed 13 of 19 shots and finished with 19 points. Kevin Durant scored 22 points. Golden State shot uncharacteristically poorly from outside, missing 22 of 31 3-point attempts and finishing at 38 percent shooting (35 of 92) overall......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2018

Iniesta leaving Barcelona after 16 trophy-filled seasons

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Andres Iniesta took two deep breaths, and then said the words that announced his story-book career at Barcelona was coming to an end. In an emotional news conference Friday attended by most of his teammates, his family and club executives, the midfielder who has embodied Barcelona's creative attacking style said that he was leaving after 16 trophy-packed seasons. "I have spent all my life here at this club and it is not easy to leave," Iniesta said after fighting back tears and regaining his composure. "My time here ends this season. I understand that the club that took me in at 12 deserves the best of me in return, and I have given it that until now, but in the near future I won't be able to both physically and mentally. "The club has placed its confidence," he said. "And I have always said that if I am not able to give my all to my club that has given me everything then I wouldn't be happy." Iniesta, who turns 34 on May 11, said that he intends to continue playing but did not reveal what his next club will be. "I have always said that I would never compete against my club, so all the options outside Europe are open," Iniesta said. "When the season is over we will know my choice." Local media reported that the Spain midfielder will be signing a lucrative contract with a club in the Chinese league. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were his only teammates not present to receive Iniesta's thanks. The club said that they had personal commitments they could not break. Iniesta left his village in southern Spain to join Barcelona's youth academy when he was 12. He went on to become one of the best players in its history, helping the team win 31 titles — a club record he shares with Messi. Iniesta has helped Barcelona win four Champions League titles, eight Spanish leagues, six Copa del Reys, three Club World Cups, seven Spanish Super Cups and three European Super Cups. And Iniesta is expected to get one more trophy for the club with Barcelona on the cusp of clinching the league title. The team leads Atletico Madrid by 11 points with five games left. Iniesta has been a fan favorite at Camp Nou since he helped it start its current winning era by claiming the Spanish league title in 2005 under Frank Rijkaard. He went on to form a dominant midfield pairing with Xavi Hernandez under the orders of Pep Guardiola, and has become team captain. "It would not have been possible without him so I just say 'thank you' because he helped me," Guardiola said. "People believe the managers help the players, but in a few cases, and I think Andres is one of them, he helped me to understand the game better." Last year, Iniesta signed the first lifelong contract ever given by Barcelona. And even though he is opting out of that deal, club president Josep Bartomeu said that there were no hard feelings. Bartomeu said Messi was the best player in Barcelona history for his goals and unmatched talent, but he has plenty of praise for Iniesta, too. "Iniesta is the most important player of this winning era that started in 2004," Bartomeu told Cadena SER radio on Thursday. "He has been a key part of all the teams under all our coaches, from Rijkaard, Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, (Gerardo) "Tata" Martino, Luis Enrique and now Ernesto (Valverde). He deserves our respect." Iniesta has shown this season that he is still able to perform at a top level. He has been a first-choice player for Valverde and was still its most decisive attacking midfielder. The loss of Iniesta is a blow to the entire Spanish league. He is widely admired and loved by fans across the country for his winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup and his role in Spain winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships. He is often applauded by opposing fans when substituted on the road. "He is charming, very reserved, and I like people who do their talking on the pitch," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "I only have good things to say about him, admiration for his football and I wish him the best." This year, Iniesta will play for Spain at the World Cup in Russia. That will likely be his last chance to add to his glorious career with the national side. But first, Iniesta has five more matches with Barcelona, starting on Sunday at Deportivo La Coruna. He will bid his final farewell at home on May 20 against Real Sociedad. "To Barcelona's fans, who have seen me grow up and followed every step I have taken, and been with me through the good times and the bad," Iniesta said, "I will take your love with me in my heart.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Nadal wins to set up ‘difficult’ Thiem quarter-final clash in Monaco

MONTE CARLO, Principality of Monaco: World number one Rafael Nadal cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Russian Karen Khachanov on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to set up a “difficult” Monte Carlo Masters quarter-final against Dominic Thiem, after the Austrian stunned Novak Djokovic. Nadal needs to win an 11th Monte Carlo title to stay clear [...] The post Nadal wins to set up ‘difficult’ Thiem quarter-final clash in Monaco appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

MVP Ladder: No topping Harden in award chase

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Stump speeches aren’t necessary. Not when your campaign drives itself on performance alone, when you elevate the conversation with each and every outing, the way James Harden did from the opening tip of this regular season until the final buzzer. So if it seems like Harden has skillfully avoided getting caught up in this reporter-crafted Kia MVP pickles that often drive the rest of our NBA dialogue on a daily basis, it’s by design. Besides, who needs to dive in on the debate when you have unsolicited celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kobe Bryant, who made clear to USA Today Sports that Harden’s time is now. “It’s got to be James,” Bryant said. “I really don’t understand the debate about picking somebody else. I don’t get it. Like, what the hell does this guy have to do? I mean for the last three years, the guy has been absolutely lights out, and now you still want to sit here and debate who should be MVP when he leads the league in scoring (30.4 points per game), his assists numbers (8.8 apg) are off the charts, they have the best record in the league (65-16). “If he doesn’t win MVP this year, what the hell is he supposed to do to win MVP, average 40 [points], 15 [assists] and 15 [rebounds]? I mean, come on now. Enough is enough.” After coming up short twice in the past three seasons, Harden is poised to capture the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. It is something he felt he earned last season, when his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, Russell Westbrook, used a triple-double season to claim the hardware. Stephen Curry won the award in 2015 and 2016, his star rising in concert with the Golden State Warriors' surge from lottery team, to contender to championship-winner in two of the last three seasons. While Curry claimed those awards, Harden won MVP honors in a vote of his peers at the NBPA’s first Players Awards in July 2015. There will be no dispute this time around. There is no other narrative that trumps Harden’s.   No other player's performance rises above what he’s done for the Rockets this season, the first with he and fellow superstar point guard  Chris Paul sharing the leadership load of the league’s best team. Not even four-time Kia MVP LeBron James, who turned in one of the finest seasons of his 15 year career in Cleveland, could catch Harden on the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder or in the minds of most voters. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni coached Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and two-time Kia MVP Steve Nash. Yet it was Harden who received D'Anton's greatest compliment after a win in Portland last month when called Harden the “best offensive player I’ve ever seen.” “He’s a hell of a player, first off,” D’Antoni told USA Today Sports when asked to explain his declaration. “It’s a combination of everything. There are other players who might be better at this, or a little bit better at that. But when you put everything together, and the way he passes, the way he sees teammates, the way he can lob, the way he can fight through a foul. I mean even on an off night, he’s probably getting 30, 40 points, and I mean efficiently. And he doesn’t even have anything going. But he’s so efficient, and he gets other guys involved.” If the strength of Harden’s MVP case this season was just his own individual offensive brilliance, he’d still have a rock-solid case. He did record the first 60-point triple-double in NBA history this season and won the scoring title a season after leading the league in assists. But, as D’Antoni noted, Harden's ability to raise the level of play from teammates like Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and others is what stands out. “I don't think there's a player that's had to create as much as I've had to in these last three years," Harden said in a GQ profile that came out this week. "I don't know if there's a guy in NBA history.” That comment can be interpreted in a number of ways, and it’s sure to spark yet another debate as the conversation continues deep into this postseason about who is most deserving of Kia MVP honors. But we’re done here. “It’s James Harden, no doubt about it,” a Western Conference executive told me when asked if there was any dispute about this season’s most valuable player. “Harden in a landslide.” * * * The top five in the Final Edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 2017-18 season stats: 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden declared early on that this was the Rockets’ season. He felt they finally had the pieces to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference standings, and, therefore, the entire league. He served notice on opening night, when he and the Rockets spoiled the Warriors' championship banner and rings celebration at Oracle Arena by claiming a win. Harden’s 27 points, 11 assists and six rebounds was the opening salvo in what turned into the best season in Rockets history. Harden’s ability to blend his point guard responsibilities with his role as the most lethal scorer in the league fueled one brilliant performance after another. As well, Harden also silenced the critics who suggested he and Paul would not be able to play well off of each other. The Rockets enter the postseason with the No. 1 overall seed and with all the confidence needed for a championship run. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 2017-18 season stats: 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds LeBron put the final touches on his outstanding 15th NBA regular season by capturing Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for March/April, the fourth time this season he took those honors (October/November, December and February). In addition to the parade of milestones LeBron reached this season, he also piled up a career-high 18 triple-doubles, led the Cavaliers through a tumultuous year that ended with 50 or more wins for the fourth straight season. He shot better than 54 percent from the floor (.542) and also had his best shooting from beyond the 3-point line (.367) since returning to Cleveland from Miami before the 2014-15 season. The true test of his super powers, though, will be on display in this postseason. The Cavaliers finished as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference but go into the playoffs as the favorite, in the eyes of most, to survive the gauntlet due in large part to LeBron’s work the past seven seasons guiding his teams to The Finals. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 3 2017-18 season stats: 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks Davis turned it on when the Pelicans needed it most, after DeMarcus Cousins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. He powered the Pelicans with 50 double-doubles, one triple-double and, when the Pelicans needed grind their way into the postseason as 2017-18 waned, he picked his game up even more. He averaged 29 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks during the Pelicans’ season-ending five-game win streak that helped them secure the No. 6 seed. That sealed up Davis' second career playoff run and he’s still looking for his first playoff win. His ability to carry the load for the Pelicans the way he did, though, is easily the most impressive part of his season. There was no guarantee the Pelicans would make the playoffs in a rugged Western Conference even with Cousins healthy. To do it without him speaks volumes about the impact Davis had on his team. 4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 4 2017-18 season stats: 26.9 points, 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard has done what few thought possible after the Portland team he joined as a rookie was taken apart and rebuilt around him. The catalyst for a Blazers team that finished third in the West, Lillard forced his way onto that short list of names in the best-point-guard-in-the-game discussion. He lacks the championship and/or Kia MVP hardware guys like Curry, Kyrie Irving and Westbrook all have. But his body of work as the face of Portland's franchise makes it difficult to leave him out of the discussion. The Blazers wouldn't have come anywhere close to that No. 3 seed without Lillard going nuclear in February (31.4 points, six assists and nearly five rebounds in 10 games). This has been a transformative year on and off the court for Lillard, who is not only had a career-best season, but also celebrated the birth of his son late last month. 5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 5 2017-18 season stats: 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists Durant followed up his 2017 Finals MVP honors with a steady season, by his lofty standard, but not one that pushed him closer to the top of this list. His understanding of the way the regular season connects to the postseason no doubt played a role in the way he paced himself. That’s not to say that Durant didn't have an outstanding regular season, because he did. But just like James and to an extent his All-Star teammate, Curry, Durant’s seasons are now measured against the high standard he’s set in past ones. He actually averaged more points and assists this season compared to his first with the Warriors. And he set a career-high with 1.8 blocks per game, showing off his improved awareness and effectiveness on defense. With Curry out for the first round of the playoffs due to injury, Durant will get a chance to remind the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the league just how dangerous he can be with everything on the line. The next five 6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks 10. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsApr 14th, 2018

2018 MLB preview: AL Central

By The Associated Press Capsules of American League Central teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Cleveland Indians 2017: 102-60, first place, lost to Yankees in ALDS. Manager: Terry Francona (sixth season). He's Here: 1B-DH Yonder Alonso, LF Rajai Davis, RHP Alexi Ogando. He's Outta Here: 1B Carlos Santana, OF Jay Bruce, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Joe Smith, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Boone Logan. Projected Lineup: SS Francisco Lindor (.273, 33 HRs, 89 RBIs, 44 2Bs, 15 SBs, 10 errors), 2B Jason Kipnis (.232, 12 HRs, 35 RBIs in 90 games), 3B Jose Ramirez (.318, 29, 83, AL-leading 56 2Bs), DH Edwin Encarnacion (.258, 38, 107), 1B Yonder Alonso (.266, career-high 28 HRs, 67 RBIs with Athletics and Mariners), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (.288, 12, 53 in 82 games), C Roberto Perez (.207, 8, 38, club went 44-22 in his starts) or Yan Gomes (.232, 14, 56), CF Bradley Zimmer (.241, 8, 39, 18 SBs, 0 errors), LF Michael Brantley (.299, 9, 52 in 90 games) or Rajai Davis (.235, 5, 20, 29 SBs with Oakland and Boston). Rotation: RH Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 Ks, 2nd Cy Young Award), RH Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29, 226 Ks), RH Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19, 10-1 in final 13 starts), RH Mike Clevinger (12-6, 3.11, 137 Ks in 121 2/3 innings), RH Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.28, 12.67 Ks per 9 innings). Key Relievers: RH Cody Allen (3-7, 2.94, 30/34 saves, 96 saves past 3 seasons), LH Andrew Miller (4-3, 1.44, 2 saves), RH Dan Otero (3-0, 2.85, walked just 19 of 511 batters since 2016), LH Tyler Olson (1-0, 0.00 in 20 innings over 30 games), RH Zack McAllister (2-2, 2.61 in 50 games). Hot Spots: Kipnis and Brantley. The former All-Stars have been hindered by injuries in recent years, but both appear on track to bounce back in 2018. The Indians need them to produce. Cleveland is better defensively with Ramirez at second base, but he'll stay at third as long as the 31-year-old Kipnis hits. Kipnis has been mentioned in trade talk for two years. Brantley, once considered one of baseball's best all-around talents, has played in only 101 games since 2015. Outlook: No team has felt postseason pain lately quite like the Indians. They blew a 3-1 lead and lost the 2016 World Series to the Cubs, and squandered a 2-0 advantage in last year's best-of-five Division Series against the Yankees. With arguably baseball's strongest rotation led by Kluber, the Indians are poised to possibly end a championship drought approaching its 70th anniversary. Alonso must help the offense offset the losses of Santana and Bruce. Francona won't have Shaw in the bullpen anymore after the durable reliever pitched in at least 74 games each of the past four seasons. Winning the AL Central won't suffice for the Indians, who are determined to finish the job this year. ___ Minnesota Twins 2017: 85-77, second place, lost to Yankees in wild-card game. Manager: Paul Molitor (fourth season). He's Here: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Jake Odorizzi, DH-1B Logan Morrison, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Addison Reed, LHP Zach Duke, SS-3B Erick Aybar, RHP Michael Pineda. He's Outta Here: RHP Matt Belisle, RHP Bartolo Colon, C Chris Gimenez, DH-1B Kennys Vargas, LHP Hector Santiago, LHP Glen Perkins, LHP Buddy Boshers, RHP Michael Tonkin. Projected Lineup: 2B Brian Dozier (.271, 34 HRs, 93 RBIs, 106 runs), 1B Joe Mauer (.305, 7, 71, .384 OBP), 3B Miguel Sano (.264, 28, 77, 173 Ks in 114 games), DH Logan Morrison (.246, 38, 85, .868 OPS with Rays), LF Eddie Rosario (.290, 27, 78), SS Eduardo Escobar (.254, 21, 73), CF Byron Buxton (.253, 16, 51, 29/30 SBs), RF Max Kepler (.243, 19, 69), C Jason Castro (.242, 10, 47). Rotation: RH Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA, 5 CGs, 211 1/3 IP, expected to begin season on DL), RH Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.89), RH Lance Lynn (11-8, 3.43 with Cardinals), RH Jake Odorizzi (10-8, 4.14 with Rays), RH Kyle Gibson (12-10, 5.07). Key Relievers: RH Fernando Rodney (5-4, 4.23, 39/45 saves with Diamondbacks), RH Addison Reed (2-3, 2.84, 19 saves with Mets and Red Sox), LH Taylor Rogers (7-3, 3.07), LH Zach Duke (1-1, 3.93 in 18 1/3 IP with Cardinals), RH Ryan Pressly (2-3, 4.70), RH Trevor Hildenberger (3-3, 3.21, 1 save), RH Phil Hughes (4-3, 5.87 in 53 2/3 IP). Hot Spot: Left Side Of The Infield. Sano had surgery in November to have a rod inserted in his left shin after a stress reaction kept him out for the last six weeks of the 2017 regular season, and the burly slugger has struggled to keep his weight down. He's also been under investigation by Major League Baseball, facing potential discipline, for alleged harassment of a woman during an encounter in 2015. Jorge Polanco, who got so hot at the plate down the stretch of his first full season as a regular in the lineup that he wound up third in the batting order, was suspended for the first 80 games this season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Escobar can fill in capably at shortstop, but he's also the top backup for Sano if the All-Star has to sit for any reason. Outlook: After their massive 26-win turnaround last season, earning Molitor the AL Manager of the Year award and a new contract through the 2020 season, the Twins were already on the upswing with their 25-and-under core of Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Kepler. Then, after spring training began, they traded for Odorizzi and signed Morrison and Lynn, all at market-bargain prices. They've already had some setbacks, with finger surgery for Santana expected to keep him out for most or all of April, and the gut-punch news of Polanco's suspension, plus the uncertainty that surrounds Sano. But this is a team, even with the bold offseason moves made by AL heavyweights Boston and New York, and the strength of reigning AL Central champion Cleveland, that has the talent and spunk to be right in the playoff mix. With Hughes and Tyler Duffey on track for long-relief roles and a spate of well-regarded prospects set to fill out the rotation at Triple-A Rochester, this is as much starting pitching depth as the Twins have had in years. After using 16 different starters in 2017, they needed that. Rodney, Reed and Duke were important additions to bolster the bullpen, too, after Minnesota relievers ranked 22nd in the majors with a collective 4.40 ERA. ___ Kansas City Royals 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Ned Yost (ninth season). He's Here: RHP Jesse Hahn, CF Jon Jay, 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Justin Grimm. He's Outta Here: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, LHP Jason Vargas, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP Mike Minor, OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Scott Alexander, DH Brandon Moss, RHP Mike Morin, LHP Ryan Buchter, RHP Trevor Cahill. Projected Lineup: CF Jon Jay (.296, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs with Cubs), 2B Whit Merrifield (.288, 19, 78, AL-leading 34 SBs), 3B Mike Moustakas (.272, 38, 85), C Salvador Perez (.268, 27, 80), 1B Lucas Duda (.217, 30, 64 with Mets and Rays), DH Jorge Soler (.144, 2, 6), LF Alex Gordon (.208, 9, 45), RF Paulo Orlando (.198, 2, 6), SS Alcides Escobar (.250, 6, 54). Rotation: LH Danny Duffy (9-10, 3.81 ERA), RH Ian Kennedy (5-13, 5.38), RH Jason Hammel (8-13, 5.29), RH Jakob Junis (9-3, 4.30), RH Nate Karns (2-2, 4.17). Key Relievers: RH Kelvin Herrera (3-3, 4.25, 26/31 saves), RH Wily Peralta (5-4, 7.85 in 19 games, 8 starts with Brewers), RH Brandon Maurer (2-2, 8.10 in 26 games with Royals; 1-4, 5.72 in 42 games with Padres), RH Justin Grimm (1-2, 5.53 with Cubs), LH Brian Flynn (5-3, 5.40 at Triple-A Omaha), RH Kevin McCarthy (1-0, 3.20), RH Brad Keller (10-9, 4.68 ERA at Double-A Jackson). Hot Spots: Just About Everywhere. The Royals struggled to score last year, and losing Hosmer and Cain in free agency won't help. They'll turn to Moustakas, who set a club record for home runs in a season, and newcomers Jay and Duda to ignite the offense. The only starting pitcher with a track record of success is Duffy, while the bullpen features plenty of unproven talent that must show it can close down games if the Royals are to approach .500 this season. Outlook: This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Kansas City, when most of the Royals' top players hit free agency en masse. With Moustakas and Escobar finding little market, both returned to Kansas City with prove-it contracts. That gives the Royals a fighting chance to stay competitive into July, and then all bets are off. But the reality is there are still far too many holes, both in the lineup and on the pitching staff, for the Royals to be considered contenders. They would do well to match the 80 wins they had last season, and could be a big seller at the July 31 trade deadline, which would allow them to replenish a shallow farm system and begin their rebuilding job in earnest. ___ Chicago White Sox 2017: 67-95, fourth place. Manager: Rick Renteria (second season). He's Here: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, C Welington Castillo. He's Outta Here: LHP Derek Holland, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Al Alburquerque, RHP Jake Petricka, C Geovany Soto, OF-2B Alen Hanson, RHP Zach Putnam. Projected Lineup: 2B Yoan Moncada (.231, 8 HRs, 22 RBIs), RF Avisail Garcia (.330, 18, 80), 1B Jose Abreu (.304, 33, 102), DH Matt Davidson (.220, 26, 68), C Welington Castillo (.282, 20, 53 with Orioles), SS Tim Anderson (.257, 17, 56), 3B Yolmer Sanchez (.267, 12, 59), LF Nicky Delmonico (.262, 9, 23), CF Adam Engel (.166, 6, 21). Rotation: RH James Shields (5-7, 5.23 ERA), RH Lucas Giolito (3-3, 2.38), RH Reynaldo Lopez (3-3, 4.72), RH Miguel Gonzalez (8-13, 4.62 with White Sox and Rangers), RH Carson Fulmer (3-1, 3.86) or LH Hector Santiago (4-8, 5.63 with Twins). Key Relievers: RH Nate Jones (1-0, 2.31, 11 appearances), LH Luis Avilan (2-3, 2.93 with Dodgers), RH Joakim Soria (4-3, 3.70, 1 save with Royals), RH Juan Minaya (3-2, 4.53, 9 saves), RH Gregory Infante (2-1, 3.13), RH Danny Farquhar (4-2, 4.20 with White Sox and Rays). Hot Spot: Bullpen. A particular strength for the first half of 2017 is now a major question mark after Chicago traded away Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and closer David Robertson last season. Soria has 204 career saves but his best days might be behind him, and there aren't many other proven late-inning options. Renteria and respected pitching coach Don Cooper might have their hands full mixing and matching while trying to figure out how to hold leads. Outlook: For a team with five straight losing seasons and a record that ranked among baseball's worst last year, the White Sox are generating plenty of buzz. That's because they're loaded with promising young players after going all-in on a rebuild prior to last season. The moves have sparked a belief that better days are ahead. Moncada and hard-throwing pitchers Giolito and Lopez showed promise in the majors last season. Right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and outfielder Luis Robert are elite prospects on their way in the minors. Garcia, coming off a breakout season, is looking to prove he's not a one-hit wonder. Anderson hopes to bounce back from a trying season in which a close friend was shot to death. Abreu is back after the slugger was viewed as a potential trade candidate this winter. Left-hander Carlos Rodon is expected to be out until at least June following shoulder surgery last September. It's not clear when he'll be ready. Rodon also was sidelined at the start a year ago because of shoulder and biceps problems. The big question is whether he'll ever develop into the pitcher the White Sox envisioned when they drafted him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014. ___ Detroit Tigers 2017: 64-98, fifth place. Manager: Ron Gardenhire (first season). He's Here: OF Leonys Martin, RHP Mike Fiers, LHP Francisco Liriano, OF Victor Reyes. He's Outta Here: Manager Brad Ausmus, 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Anibal Sanchez, INF Andrew Romine, RHP Bruce Rondon. Projected Lineup: CF Leonys Martin (.172, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs with Mariners and Cubs), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.283, 3, 16 with Cubs and Tigers), 1B Miguel Cabrera (.249, 16, 60), RF Nicholas Castellanos (.272, 26, 101), DH Victor Martinez (.255, 10, 47), C James McCann (.253, 13, 49), LF Mikie Mahtook (.276, 12, 38), SS Jose Iglesias (.255, 6, 54), 2B Dixon Machado (.259, 1, 11). Rotation: RH Michael Fulmer (10-12, 3.83 ERA), RH Jordan Zimmermann (8-13, 6.08), LH Francisco Liriano (6-7, 5.66 with Blue Jays and Astros), RH Mike Fiers (8-10, 5.22 with Astros), LH Daniel Norris (5-8, 5.31) or LH Matthew Boyd (6-11, 5.27). Key Relievers: RH Shane Greene (4-3, 2.66, 9/13 saves), RH Joe Jimenez (0-2, 12.32), RH Alex Wilson (2-5, 4.50, 2 saves), LH Daniel Stumpf (0-1, 3.82). Hot Spot: The Farm System. After finishing tied for the worst record in baseball last year, the Tigers enter 2018 with no real expectations of success at the big league level, so the question is how quickly the franchise can make it through this rebuilding stage. Franklin Perez, a right-hander acquired last season when Detroit traded Justin Verlander, is expected to be out at least until June with a lat strain, and right-hander Matt Manning is also dealing with an injury. Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows are other pitching prospects to watch as they try to work their way toward the majors. Wins may be few and far between in Detroit, but Tigers fans will hope Cabrera — one star who avoided the roster purge of the last year — can rebound from a rough season. Outlook: The Tigers traded Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez last season, then dealt away Kinsler during the offseason. There could be more big moves on the horizon — Fulmer, Iglesias and Castellanos should all have some trade value, but each of them is young enough that he could be useful to the Tigers when they become competitive again. That's especially true of Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. Barring a huge surprise in terms of on-field results, the biggest suspense this season might revolve around how general manager Al Avila approaches the next few steps in the rebuild......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

Nadal to return for Spain against Germany in Davis Cup

Nadal to return for Spain against Germany in Davis Cup.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

6-time champ Djokovic loses at Miami Open to Benoit Paire

By Steven Wine, Associated Press KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Novak Djokovic's 16-match Key Biscayne winning streak ended, and his struggle to come back from an elbow injury continued. Djokovic lasted barely an hour at a tournament he has won six times, losing his opening match Friday in the Miami Open to Benoit Paire, 6-3, 6-4. The defeat was Djokovic's third in a row. He returned from a six-month injury absence at the Australian Open and lost in the fourth round, and was upset two weeks ago at Indian Wells by Taro Daniel, a 109th-ranked qualifier. "I'm trying, but it's not working," Djokovic said. "Obviously, I'm not feeling great when I'm playing this way. Of course I want to be able to play as well as I want. Just it's impossible at the moment. That's all." Against the 47th-ranked Paire, Djokovic dropped serve four times, returned poorly and had difficulty anticipating his crafty opponent's drop shots. "It happened very fast," Djokovic said. "I'm just in general trying everything I can. I'm not at the level that I used to be. I'm aware of that. I just have to obviously believe in myself, and hopefully it will come." In women's play, Naomi Osaka's breakthrough winning streak ended with a loss to No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-2. Osaka said began feeling ill before the match but didn't want to retire after upsetting eight-time champion Serena Williams in the first round. The 20-year-old Osaka is ranked a career-high 22nd and won her first career title last week at Indian Wells. Djokovic sat out the last half of 2017 because of problems with his racket-swinging arm, saying it had been bothering him for more than a year. He was sidelined again after this year's Australian Open and said he had a "small medical intervention" on his elbow. The 12-time Grand Slam champion didn't seem to favor it against Paire, but his shots lacked their usually snap and sometimes were awkwardly struck, including the last two on match point. In the first set Djokovic served with a chance to reach 5-all, but from 40-0 he lost five consecutive points and the set. Another dismal stretch came when he was broken at love in the final game of the match. When asked if he expects to regain his championship level, Djokovic said he didn't know. He was also noncommittal about his schedule for the upcoming clay season. "I don't want to sit here and whine about my last couple of years," Djokovic said. "The truth is that it wasn't easy. Obviously, I compromised my game and the movement and everything because of the injury. I'm trying to figure things out." The latest loss was Djokovic's first at Key Biscayne since 2013. He missed last year's Miami Open but won the title three consecutive years in 2014-16......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2018