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Del Potro proud to be in same era as Nadal - now he wants to beat him

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina celebrates breaking the serve of Gilles Simon of France during their men's singles match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday July 10, 20.....»»

Category: newsSource: philippinetimes philippinetimesJul 11th, 2018

Del Potro proud to be in same era as Nadal - now he wants to beat him

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina celebrates breaking the serve of Gilles Simon of France during their men's singles match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Tuesday July 10, 20.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

Nadal reaches US Open quarterfinals, will face Thiem

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal is back in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, where he won't face a rematch of the 2017 final. Instead, it's a rematch of this year's French Open final. Nadal beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4 on Sunday at Flushing Meadows. Next up is No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem. Thiem beat Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2), denying the fifth-seeded South African a second shot at Nadal. Nadal beat Anderson last year for his third U.S. Open title. The top-ranked Spaniard captured his 11th title in Paris by beating Thiem in straight sets in June. That was part of what's now a 26-1 run since Thiem beat him in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open in May. "He's a very powerful player, and, yeah, he knows how to play these kinds of matches," Nadal said. "Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament." Nadal leads the series 7-3, with all the meetings on clay. On Sunday, he responded to losing the third-set tiebreaker by breaking Basilashvili twice in the fourth set. Anderson was hoping to be waiting for Nadal. His run to last year's final was a surprise; At No. 32, he was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist in the history of the ATP rankings. But he backed that up with a strong season, reaching the Wimbledon final and earning the No. 5 seed in this tournament. "Of course it's disappointing," Anderson said. "I wanted to be here right until the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major. It wasn't meant to be." He had won six of seven meetings against Thiem, including all six on hard courts. Thiem's only victory had come on clay, his best surface. But Anderson couldn't get anything going in this matchup with Thiem, who won 41 of 45 points (91 percent) and never faced a break point. "First of all, I served really, really well today," Thiem said. "Not the best percentage, but I almost made every point in the first serve game. So I didn't face one break point, and I didn't feel so much pressure on service games." Thiem reached his first quarterfinal at any Grand Slam besides the French Open. He was agonizingly close to getting there last year at the U.S. Open, leading by two sets against Juan Martin del Potro in the round of 16 before the 2009 champion roared back to win. "It was not on my mind, but I was pretty close last year," Thiem said. "It was very painful." Del Potro was on Sunday's night schedule, facing Borna Coric. John Isner or Milos Raonic would meet the winner of that match. Serena Williams was in action later Sunday after routing her sister on Friday in what she felt was her best match since her return to tennis. She'll need to be sharp again, with Kaia Kanepi looking to knock out another women's star. Serena, seeded 17th, routed Venus 6-1, 6-2 in matching the most-lopsided victory in the Williams sisters' series. That put her into the match against Kanepi, the 44th-ranked Estonian who upset top-ranked Simona Halep in the first round and is seeking her second consecutive quarterfinal in Flushing Meadows......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018

1, done: Halep 1st No. 1 to lose 1st Open match; Serena wins

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Some players, like top-ranked Simona Halep, freely acknowledge they don't deal well with the hustle-and-bustle of the U.S. Open and all it entails. Others, like 44th-ranked Kaia Kanepi, take to the Big Apple and its Grand Slam tournament. Put those two types at opposite ends of a court at Flushing Meadows and watch what can happen: Halep made a quick-as-can-be exit Monday, overwhelmed by the power-based game of Kanepi 6-2, 6-4 to become the first No. 1-seeded woman to lose her opening match at the U.S. Open in the half-century of the professional era. On a Day 1 that featured the major tournament debut of 25-second serve clocks, Halep blamed opening-round jitters, a recurring theme throughout her career. The reigning French Open champion has now lost her first match at 12 of 34 career major appearances, a stunningly high rate for such an accomplished player. "It's always about the nerves," said Halep, who was beaten in the first round in New York by five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in 2017. "Even when you are there in the top, you feel the same nerves. You are human." She also offered up an explanation tied to this particular site. "Maybe the noise in the crowd. The city is busy. So everything together," said Halep, who was coming off consecutive runs to the final at hard-court tuneup tournaments at Cincinnati and Montreal. "I'm a quiet person, so maybe I like the smaller places." Her departure means she can't stand in the way of Serena Williams, who could have faced Halep in the fourth round. Williams, the 23-time major champion who missed last year's U.S. Open because she gave birth on Sept. 1, returned with a flourish, following singer Kelly Clarkson's opening night performance in Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Magda Linette under the lights. "The first set was tight. It was my first back here in New York, so that wasn't the easiest," Williams told the crowd. "Once I got settled, I started doing what I'm trying to do in practice." Williams, a six-time winner at Flushing Meadows, moved a step closer to a possible third-round matchup against her older sister, two-time winner Venus, who defeated 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Others making the second round included defending champion and No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens, two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka, and two-time major champ Garbine Muguruza. Four seeded men lost, including No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov against three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, who also beat him in the first round of Wimbledon, No. 16 Kyle Edmund and No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut. Andy Murray, whose three major titles include the 2012 U.S. Open, played his first Grand Slam match in more than a year and won, eliminating James Duckworth 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. At night, defending champion Rafael Nadal advanced when the man he beat in the 2013 French Open final, David Ferrer, stopped in the second set because of an injury, while 2009 champ Juan Martin del Potro had no trouble dismissing Donald Young 6-0, 6-3, 6-4. Halep's loss was the first match at the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which now has about 14,000 seats and a retractable roof, and what a way to get things started. That cover was not needed to protect from rain on Day 1 at the year's last major tournament — although some protection from the bright sun and its 90-degree (33-degree Celsius) heat might have been in order. "The courts suit my game, and I love being in New York. I like the city," said Kanepi, who is from Estonia and is sharing a coach this week with another player, Andrea Petkovic. "I like the weather: humid and hot." But several players had trouble in the heat, struggling with cramping or simply breathing. Since professionals first were allowed to enter Grand Slam tournaments in 1968, only five times before Monday did women seeded No. 1 lose their opening match at a major — and never at the U.S. Open. It happened twice to Martina Hingis and once to Steffi Graf at Wimbledon, once to Angelique Kerber at the French Open and once to Virginia Ruzici at the Australian Open. Halep got off to a slow start at Roland Garros this year, too, dropping her opening set, also by a 6-2 score, but ended up pulling out the victory there and adding six more to lift the trophy. There would be no such turnaround for her against Kanepi, a big hitter who dictated the points to claim her second career win against a top-ranked player — but first top-20 victory since 2015. Kanepi has shown the occasional ability to grab significant results, including a run to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows a year ago. On this day, Kanepi took charge of baseline exchanges, compiling a 26-9 edge in winners, 14 on her favored forehand side alone. Wearing two strips of athletic tape on her left shoulder, the right-handed Kanepi also had far more unforced errors, 28-9, but that high-risk, high-reward style ultimately paid off. "I thought, 'I just have to be aggressive and try to stay calm,'" Kanepi said. Early in the second set, on the way to falling behind by two breaks at 3-0, Halep slammed her racket twice, drawing a warning for a code violation from the chair umpire. Eventually, Halep got going a bit, taking advantage of Kanepi's mistakes to break back twice and get to 4-all in that set, getting a lot of support from fans who repeatedly chanted her first name. "I was thinking about that: Why (did) they cheer so much for her? Because normally, they cheer for the underdog," Kanepi said with a smile. "It was a bit annoying for some time, but I got over it." Sure did. She ended a 14-stroke exchange with a cross-court forehand volley winner to break right back for a 5-4 lead, then served out the victory......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2018

US OPEN 18: Federer tries to end decade drought in New York

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Even with all the times Roger Federer held the U.S. Open trophy, he still can't forget the time it slipped through his fingers. He had won five titles in a row in Flushing Meadows and was a game away from a sixth in 2009 when Juan Martin del Potro pulled out a fourth-set tiebreaker, then won the fifth set. "I still wish I could have played that match again," Federer said Friday. He's never been that close to winning the U.S. Open since, just once reaching the final. That would have been hard to imagine then, when Federer would steamroll into New York at the tail end of some of the greatest seasons in tennis history. He was 247-15 from 2004-06, and knew he'd figure things out across seven matches on the hard courts in a city where he is so comfortable. "For a long period I think I was not losing much," Federer said, "and when I came to the Open, I had all the answers for all the guys, all my opponents, all conditions, wind, you know, night, day. I really embraced everything about New York." Still does, which is why — at age 37, and a full decade removed from his last title at the place — Federer believes he can succeed again at the year's final Grand Slam tournament and collect a male-record 21st major when main-draw play begins Monday. A sixth U.S. Open title would break a tie with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for the most in the professional era. "Well, I mean, it would mean the world to me," he said. Novak Djokovic just beat Federer in the final in Cincinnati, and the Wimbledon champion might be the favorite in New York. Defending champion Rafael Nadal is the top seed after taking back the No. 1 ranking that Federer had regained earlier this season for the first time in five years. And del Potro is up to a career-best No. 3 in the world and proved again he could handle Federer at the U.S. Open when he stopped him last year in the quarterfinals. Yet few would count out No. 2 seed Federer, even as erratic as his gifted game looked against Djokovic on Sunday in Ohio. "If you are playing well before, is easier to play well in the Grand Slam, no? No doubt of that," Nadal said. "At the same time it's true that especially a few players are able to increase the level of concentration, the level of tennis, level of intensity in some places. If you have to do it, this is one of the places." Federer hasn't done it in the biggest moments in New York over the last decade. The loss to del Potro was followed by semifinal defeats against Djokovic in both 2010 and 2011, blowing two match points in both. He finally got back to the final again in 2015 but was beaten by Djokovic, then had to miss the 2016 event because of a knee injury. He won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in a resurgent 2017 but tweaked his back while reaching the Montreal final and knew his body and his game weren't in shape by the time he got to New York. "I knew from the get-go it was not going to be possible for me to win," Federer said. "Everything would have had to fall into place." So he was even more cautious in monitoring his schedule this year, sitting out the clay-court season again and pulling out of Toronto, making Cincinnati his only hard-court warmup. That's left him only four tournaments in five months, perhaps explaining some of the shots that once were winners but were sprayed around the court against Djokovic. "It's a fine line of how fit do you need to be and how much tennis can you play to be competitive?" Hall of Famer Rod Laver said. "And if you're not able to go get the match practice, then you've got to rely on being competitive on the other side of the coin, which is how fit can you be. He certainly is fit enough but mentally in the final, I could tell he was sort of down. You could tell he was just frustrated with some of the shots that he played." Federer won't second-guess his scheduling, believing he's made the right decisions for his preparation. Nor will he kick himself over the U.S. Opens lost over the last decade. "I won the U.S. Open five times. So I stand here pretty happy, to be quite honest," Federer said. "It's not like, 'God, the U.S. Open never worked out for me.' It hasn't the last couple years, but it's all good.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

US OPEN 18: Federer tries to end decade drought in New York

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Even with all the times Roger Federer held the U.S. Open trophy, he still can't forget the time it slipped through his fingers. He had won five titles in a row in Flushing Meadows and was a game away from a sixth in 2009 when Juan Martin del Potro pulled out a fourth-set tiebreaker, then won the fifth set. "I still wish I could have played that match again," Federer said Friday. He's never been that close to winning the U.S. Open since, just once even reaching the final. That would have been hard to imagine then, when Federer would steamroll into New York at the tail end of some of the greatest seasons in tennis history. He was 247-15 from 2004-06, and knew he'd figure things out across seven matches on the hard courts in a city where he is so comfortable. "For a long period I think I was not losing much," Federer said, "and when I came to the Open, I had all the answers for all the guys, all my opponents, all conditions, wind, you know, night, day. I really embraced everything about New York." Still does, which is why — at age 37, and a full decade removed from his last title at the place — Federer believes he can succeed again at the year's final Grand Slam tournament and collect a male-record 21st major when main-draw play begins Monday. A sixth U.S. Open title would break a tie with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for the most in the professional era. "Well, I mean, it would mean the world to me," he said. Novak Djokovic just beat Federer in the final in Cincinnati, and the Wimbledon champion might be the favorite in New York. Defending champion Rafael Nadal is the top seed after taking back the No. 1 ranking that Federer had regained earlier this season for the first time in five years, and del Potro is up to a career-best No. 3 in the world and proved again he could handle Federer at the U.S. Open when he stopped him last year in the quarterfinals. Yet few would count out No. 2 seed Federer, even as erratic as his gifted game looked against Djokovic on Sunday in Ohio. "If you are playing well before, is easier to play well in the Grand Slam, no? No doubt of that," Nadal said. "At the same time it's true that especially a few players are able to increase the level of concentration, the level of tennis, level of intensity in some places. If you have to do it, this is one of the places." Federer hasn't done it in the biggest moments in New York over the last decade. The loss to del Potro was followed by semifinal defeats against Djokovic in both 2010 and 2011, blowing two match points in both. He finally got back to the final again in 2015 but was beaten by Djokovic, then had to miss the 2016 event because of a knee injury. He won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in a resurgent 2017 but tweaked his back while reaching the Montreal final and knew his body and his game weren't in shape by the time he got to New York. "I knew from the get-go it was not going to be possible for me to win," Federer said. "Everything would have had to fall into place." So he was even more cautious in monitoring his schedule this year, sitting out the clay-court season again and pulling out of Toronto, making Cincinnati his only hard-court warmup. That's left him only four tournaments in five months, perhaps explaining some of the shots that once were winners but were sprayed around the court against Djokovic. "It's a fine line of how fit do you need to be and how much tennis can you play to be competitive?" Hall of Famer Rod Laver said. "And if you're not able to go get the match practice, then you've got to rely on being competitive on the other side of the coin, which is how fit can you be. He certainly is fit enough but mentally in the final, I could tell he was sort of down. You could tell he was just frustrated with some of the shots that he played." Federer won't second-guess his scheduling, believing he's made the right decisions for his preparation. Nor will he kick himself over the U.S. Opens lost over the last decade. "I won the U.S. Open five times. So I stand here pretty happy, to be quite honest," Federer said. "It's not like, 'God, the U.S. Open never worked out for me.' It hasn't the last couple years, but it's all good.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

US OPEN 18: Nadal aims for 2nd title in a row in New York

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Men to watch at the U.S. Open, where play begins Monday: ___ RAFAEL NADAL Seeded: 1 Ranked: 1 Age: 32 Country: Spain 2018 Match Record: 40-3 2018 Singles Titles: 5 Career Singles Titles: 80 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — U.S. Open ('10, '13, '17), Wimbledon ('08, '10), French Open ('05, '06, '07, '08, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14, '17, '18), Australian Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-Won Championship,'16-Lost in 4th Round,'15-3rd,'14-Did Not Play,'13-W Aces: Won the U.S. Open as No. 1 seed in 2010, 2017. ... Trying to become first man to repeat as champion in New York since Roger Federer won his fifth in a row in 2008. Topspin: Beat two past U.S. Open champions and two future stars en route to tuneup title at Toronto Masters this month. ___ ROGER FEDERER Seeded: 2 Ranked: 2 Age: 37 Country: Switzerland 2018 Match Record: 33-5 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 98 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — U.S. Open ('04, '05, '06, '07, '08), Wimbledon ('03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '09, '12, '17), Australian Open ('04, '06, '07, '10, '17, '18), French Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-QF,'16-DNP,'15-RU,'14-SF,'13-4th Aces: Only made it to the final at Flushing Meadows once in the decade since his last title. ... Could face Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Topspin: Still has never played Nadal at the U.S. Open. If they meet this year, it would be for the title. ___ JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Seeded: 3 Ranked: 3 Age: 29 Country: Argentina 2018 Match Record: 37-10 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 22 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-SF, '16-QF, '15-DNP, '14-DNP, '13-2nd Aces: Playing in his 22nd major tournament since his lone such title. If he gets a second, he would set an Open era record for most Slam appearances before No. 2. Topspin: Biggest forehand in the game makes him ever-dangerous on hard courts. Just needs his oft-repaired left wrist to hold up on backhands. ___ ALEXANDER ZVEREV Ranked: 4 Seeded: 4 Age: 21 Country: Germany 2018 Match Record: 43-13 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 9 Major Titles: 0 — Best: QF, French Open ('18) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-2nd,'16-2nd,'15-1st,'14-DNP,'13-DNP Aces: Recently started working with Ivan Lendl, saying: "He's a smart man, a great guy. Done it as a player, done it as a coach, so he knows what it takes." Topspin: Has won three Masters titles. Now it's time to step up at a Grand Slam tournament and get to his first semifinal. ___ KEVIN ANDERSON Seeded: 5 Ranked: 5 Age: 32 Country: South Africa 2018 Match Record: 33-1 2018 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open ('17) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-RU, '16-3rd, '15-QF, '14-3rd, '13-2nd Aces: Runner-up at two of the past four majors, including in New York last year, then again at Wimbledon last month. Topspin: Coming into his own late in his career, he's shown that with a big serve and consistent groundstrokes, he is a contender on fast surfaces. ___ NOVAK DJOKOVIC Seeded: 6 Ranked: 6 Age: 31 Country: Serbia 2018 Match Record: 33-10 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 70 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 13 — U.S. Open ('11, '15), Wimbledon ('11, '14, '15, '18), Australian Open ('08, '11, '12, '13, '15, '16), French Open ('16) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-DNP, '16-RU, '15-W, '14-SF, '13-RU Aces: Since starting the year 6-6, has gone 27-4. ... Titles at Wimbledon and Cincinnati Masters (beating Federer in the final) make him a popular pick. Topspin: Sure seems very close to being right back at his best after a lull caused at least in part by an injured right elbow. ___ JOHN ISNER Seeded: 11 Ranked: 11 Age: 33 Country: United States 2018 Match Record: 26-5 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 14 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, U.S. Open ('11) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-3rd, '16-3rd, '15-4th, '14-3rd, '13-3rd Aces: 12 of 14 titles have come in the U.S. ... Just one quarterfinal appearance in New York, way back in 2011. Topspin: Says playing with calm and not fretting over results helped him have his best season, including first Slam semifinal at Wimbledon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

Federer, Djokovic, Halep win rain-delayed matches, reach QFs

By Joe Kay, Associated Press MASON, Ohio (AP) — Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep made quick work of their rain-delayed matches Friday afternoon and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open, facing the daunting challenge of playing a few hours later in extremely humid conditions. Several days of rain turned the quarterfinals into an endurance test. Six men's and three women's singles matches were held over from Thursday because of rain. Federer — the top player left in the men's bracket after No. 1 Rafael Nadal withdrew to get some rest — needed only 72 minutes to beat Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 7-6 (6), leaving him on course for yet another Cincinnati title. He's won a record seven despite missing the tournament the last two years because of injury. Then, it was off for a little rest before an evening match against fellow Swiss player Stan Wawrinka, who advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Marton Fucsovics. "Waiting around all day and hardly seeing any tennis obviously is never fun for the tournament and the fans," Federer said. "So we're happy that the tournament is back underway. Today I tried to really focus on just the one match, not thinking that there is possibly going to be two." Djokovic's match against Grigor Dimitrov was suspended at the start of the third set on Thursday night. He finished off the defending champion 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, maintaining his hopes of a first Cincinnati title. Dimitrov didn't drop a set last year while winning his first Masters title in Cincinnati. He also won his first two matches this week in straight sets, a streak that was broken by Djokovic on Thursday night before the rains came and the match was suspended with Djokovic up 2-1. "I wish it didn't rain, for sure, last night," Dimitrov said. "I just thought that even though I lost that second set, I was feeling well on the court. "Today is a completely different day. The conditions are a little bit different. So yeah, everything came into play." With each win, Djokovic gets closer to the chance he covets — another appearance in the title match. He's never won at Cincinnati, going 0-5 in title matches. It's the only ATP Masters 1000 event that has eluded him. Djokovic acknowledges he would especially enjoy winning the title, which would make him the only player to win all nine ATP Masters events. Also Friday, Juan Martin del Potro and Nick Kyrgios split two tiebreakers before Del Potro prevailed in the third set for a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 6-2 win. Del Potro will face David Goffin, who upset Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Cincinnati quarterfinals for the first time in three tries. On the women's side, No. 1 Simona Halep beat Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals. Halep has faced the most challenges from the rain, with one match suspended overnight Wednesday in the third set and then her third-round match held over for a day as well. Barty, who lost to Halep in last week's Rogers Cup semifinals in Montreal, committed 32 unforced errors to Halep's 17. Halep is seeking her first Cincinnati championship after losing in the finals last year and 2015. ___ AP freelance writer Mark Schmetzer in Cincinnati contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2018

Landmark win as Djokovic reaches Queen s semis

LONDON (AP) — Novak Djokovic became the 10th man to register 800 victories since the Open Era began in 1968 when he beat France's Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-1 on Friday to reach the Queen's Club semifinals. Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, follows in the footsteps of Jimmy Connors (1,256), Roger Federer (1,156), Ivan Lendl (1,068), Guillermo Vilas (949), Rafael Nadal (903), John McEnroe (881), Andre Agassi (870), Ilie Nastase (846) and Stefan Edberg (801). "It's a great achievement," said the 31-year-old Serb. "I should be happy for it and proud of it. It's still the sport that I love with all my heart. I put in that heart every single day." Djokovic, through to the semifinals for only the second time since last year's Eastbourne International, next meets France's Jeremy Chardy after he defeated American Frances Tiafoe 6-4 6-4. Top-seeded Marin Cilic also advanced with a 7-6 (3) 6-2 win over 2010 champion Sam Querrey. Cilic now faces Nick Kyrgios, who eliminated defending champion Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3). The Croatian player hit 10 aces and dropped only three points on his first serve against American Querrey. He didn't give him a break point chance, and broke twice. Kyrgios again served 32 aces against Lopez, as he did in beating Kyle Edmund on Thursday, matching his personal best......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2018

I m only human, says Nadal ahead of 11th French Open semis

  PARIS, France – Rafael Nadal insisted he still "feels pressure" and is "only human," after battling back from a set down to beat Diego Schwartzman on Thursday, June 7, and set up a French Open semi-final clash with Juan Martin del Potro. The 10-time champion was much-improved under the sunshine ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 7th, 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

Federer loses his opening match at Miami Open to Kokkinakis

By Steve Wine, Associated Press KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Roger Federer lost his second consecutive match and the No. 1 ranking Saturday. Big-serving Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, a qualifier ranked 175th, rallied to upset Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4). The 36-year-old Federer had been the oldest No. 1 man ever, but he'll lose that spot to Rafael Nadal when the new rankings come out April 2. "I deserve it after this match," Federer said. "That's how I feel." Kokkinakis became the lowest-ranked man to beat a No. 1 player since No. 178 Francisco Clavet upset Lleyton Hewitt in 2003. That match was also at Key Biscayne. Federer now has a losing streak after a career-best 17-0 start to the year. The match was his first since he lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final Sunday, a match that also came down to a winner-take-all tiebreaker. Did the losses have anything in common? "Yes, 7-6 in the third," Federer said. "Other than that, not much." Kokkinakis, 21, has long been regarded as a promising talent thanks to a thunderous serve and forehand, but has been plagued by injuries. The match was his first against Federer, although they've practiced together. "I've always liked his game," Federer said. "I'm happy for him that on the big stage he was able to show it. It's a big result for him in his career, and I hope it's going to launch him." Federer's defeat left both No. 1 players out of the tournament. Simona Halep lost hours earlier to Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Eight-time women's champion Serena Williams was eliminated Wednesday. Federer won't be playing to reclaim the No. 1 spot anytime soon. He said he'll skip the upcoming clay season for the second year in a row, including the French Open. In other men's play, American Frances Tiafoe broke serve only once — after he was two points from defeat — and that was enough to rally past No. 21-seeded Kyle Edmund 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5). No. 4 Alexander Zverev edged Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (5). Federer's match turned when he played a poor service game and was broken at love to fall behind 3-1 in the second set. Kokkinakis never broke again but held the rest of the way, consistently topping 125 mph with his serve. "Every time I had chances, something bad happened," Federer said. "Wrong decision-making by me, good decision-making by him. It's disappointing. I don't know why I couldn't get to any level I was happy with today." Federer kept one exchange going by hitting a volley behind his back, but couldn't win even that point. He laughed then — it was early in the match — but looked grim two hours later as the end neared. On match point, Federer buried a backhand return in the bottom of the net. Kokkinakis screamed in celebration, waved his index finger and gestured for more noise from the appreciative capacity crowd. "It's pretty crazy," Kokkinakis said. "I'm pretty happy about it." The match was the last at Key Biscayne for Federer, a three-time champion. The event is moving next year to the Miami Dolphins' stadium. Nadal will become the new No. 1 even though he missed Key Biscayne because of a hip injury that also forced him to skip Indian Wells......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018

Australian Open: A lookahead to Sunday, recap of Saturday

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A quick glance at the Australian Open: LOOKAHEAD TO SUNDAY Local hope Nick Kyrgios and third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov meet for the second time this year, this time with more on the line. Kyrgios beat Dimitrov in three sets in the Brisbane International semifinals two weeks ago, then went on to take the title. Dimitrov had beaten the Australian in their two previous meetings, including in straight sets on hard courts at Cincinnati last year. Kyrgios defeated Jo Wilfried-Tsonga in the third round and was mostly well-behaved, a far cry from some of the antics he has pulled in the past, including a suspension in October 2016 for not trying during a match in Shanghai, and a heavily-criticized on-court exchange with Stan Wawrinka in 2015. Kyrgios said he's doing nothing special to change his image: "It's not something I wake up and I'm like, 'Look, today I'm going to try to change the perception'. Nothing has changed. I've always been emotional." Dimitrov said he won't get caught up in the moment, or the expected parochial crowd cheering on Kyrgios' attempt to become the first Australian man since 1976 (Mark Edmondson) to win the Australian title. "I've played against the local, so to speak, all that," Dimitrov said. "That's part of the game." Kyrgios pulled out of his doubles pairing with Matt Reid on Friday to save himself for the Dimitrov match. Top-seeded Rafael Nadal plays Diego Schwartman in another fourth-round match. In women's fourth-round matches, second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki plays Magdalena Rybarikova. Wozniacki needed to win the last six games of her second-round match against Jana Fett to stay in the tournament, and says she's playing with "house money." Another fourth-round match has fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina playing Denisa Allertova, a Czech qualifier who has not dropped a set in any of her main-draw matches. __ By AP Sports Writer Dennis Passa. ___ SUNDAY FORECAST Partly cloudy, high of 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit) SATURDAY'S WEATHER Mostly sunny, high of 24 C (75 F) SATURDAY'S RESULTS Men's Third Round: No. 2 Roger Federer beat No. 29 Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4; Chung Hyeon beat No. 4 Alexander Zverev 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0; No. 5 Dominic Thiem beat No. 26 Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-2, 7-5; No. 14 Novak Djokovic beat No. 21 Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-3, 6-3; No. 19 Tomas Berdych beat No. 12 Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-3, 6-2; No. 25 Fabio Fognini beat Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Women's Third Round: No. 1 Simona Halep beat Lauren Davis 4-6, 6-4, 15-13; No. 6 Karolina Pliskova beat No. 29 Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5; No. 8 Caroline Garcia beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2. No. 17 Madison Keys beat Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-4; Naomi Osaka beat No. 18 Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-2; No. 20 Barbora Strycova beat Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-2; No. 21 Angelique Kerber beat Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3; Hsieh Su-wei beat No. 26 Agniezska Radwanska 6-2, 7-5. STAT OF THE DAY 2:22: time in hours and minutes of the third set of the Halep-Davis match (3 hours, 45 minutes for the match). QUOTE OF THE DAY "I'm almost dead" — Halep after her win. _____ More AP coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2018

Nadal saves 2 match points, advances at China Open

em>By Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press /em> BEIJING (AP) — Rafael Nadal needed to save two match points before advancing to the second round at the China Open. The top-ranked Spaniard, playing for the first time since winning the U.S. Open title last month, rallied to beat Lucas Pouille 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5 Tuesday. Pouille held two match points while leading 6-4 in the second-set tiebreaker. But Nadal reeled off four straight points to take the set and turn the match around. 'Was a very tough first round, as I say the other day,' said Nadal, who lost to Pouille in five sets at the 2016 U.S. Open. 'He played well, I think. Very aggressive. He's serving well. For me was little bit difficult at the beginning. Then I started to play better, I think. 'But still, I didn't have the control of the match for almost all the time.' In the final set, Nadal broke Pouille's serve to take a 6-5 lead and then served out the match. Nadal is 57-9 this season and leads the tour with five ATP singles titles, including the French Open. He won the China Open title as a teenager in 2005 and has a 21-5 record in Beijing. He next plays Thursday against Karen Khachanov, who beat Chinese wild-card entry Wu Di. Earlier, Juan Martin del Potro advanced by beating Pablo Cuevas 7-6 (4), 6-4. 'It was enough to win. I play good in important moments of the match, that's the tiebreaks and the last game of the second set,' said the 2009 U.S. Open champion, who returned to professional tennis last year after wrist surgery. Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, sixth-seeded John Isner, eighth-seeded Nick Kyrgios and Leonardo Mayer also advanced. In the women's tournament, Maria Sharapova rallied to defeat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. 'She definitely picked it up in the second. But I felt like although she won that second set, I was really motivated to start the third,' Sharapova said. 'I was questioning how I would feel physically, but I felt really good going into the third set.' The former top-ranked Russian will next face second-seeded Simona Halep on Wednesday. 'We know each other's games very well. That's no secret. They've always been very challenging, tough, competitive, emotional,' Sharapova said. 'Any time you're able to face an opponent that's done something and well, it's great to see where you are and where your level is.' Halep advanced after Magdalena Rybarikova retired from their match while trailing 6-1, 2-1. Other winners include Karolina Pliskova, Elena Vesnina, Petra Kvitova, Daria Gavrilova, Sorana Cirstea, Darla Kasatkina and Barbora Strycova.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 4th, 2017

UAAP: Former UP cagers congratulate Fighting Maroons for Finals trip

The celebrations are on. The UP Fighting Maroons wrote another chapter in this storybook season, climbing from a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the Adamson Soaring Falcons in the Final Four to advance to the UAAP Season 81 Men's Basketball Finals Wednesday evening. It is their first Finals appearance since 1986, on top of making the semifinals for the first time in 21 years. The current roster has accomplished something no previous UP team has done in decades. That is why former Maroons congratulated their team for doing a job well done. Ginebra guard and former UP team captain Jett Manuel could not express his happiness fully. WHAT A GAME!!! Happy beyond words!!! This is what the UP Community deserves!! #UPFight — Jett Manuel (@_jettmanuel) November 28, 2018 Dave Moralde of the Muntinlupa Cagers in the MPBL simply invoked his school's hymn to express his elation. UP NAMING MAHAL!! #UAAPFinals — Dave Moralde (@davemoralde8) November 28, 2018 From the other side of the world in Canada, JR Gallarza stayed up in the wee hours of the morning just to watch his beloved team make the championship series. Unfortunately, he slept through the epic second half and overtime but woke up to the most wonderful news.  I was keeping my family awake while watching the first half of the game so I closed my eyes for a bit... ...ended up waking up and UP is off to the finals?!?! This shit is so crazy. 21 years since the final four, 32 years since the finals...and I’m alive to witness all this?!?! — Role x Coach JR (@JRGallarza) November 28, 2018 He also wished his alma mater good luck against the defending champions Ateneo. EVERYONE LOVES A WINNER. EVERYONE LOVES AN UNDERDOG STORY. EVERYONE also LOVES CONSISTENCY. Keep the consistency up UP Family!!! The boys need it the most this weekend! 🏆 — Role x Coach JR (@JRGallarza) November 28, 2018 ABS-CBN Sports analyst Mikee Reyes shared a throwback photo when Gelo Vito, Jarrell Lim, and Diego Dario sported skinhead cuts to signify that they were rookies. How fast time flies. Back when Gelo, Jarrell and Diego were rookies, and Coach Mo was a player. Proud of u guys ❤️ Pag rookie ka, tradition na kakalbuhin ka. Ayan sila. Mga batang kalbo 😂@IAmGeloV @JarrellLim12 @Diego5Dario pic.twitter.com/r9Vk0FGgY9 — Mikee (@_mikeereyes) November 28, 2018 Former foreign center Ibrahim Ouattara sounded off the alarms for this Tagalog tweet. Exempted na kayo? Awwww sayaaanng. TAYO HINDEEEEE#Finalsbound #proudoftheboys#UPFIGHT #NOWHERETOGOBUTUP ✊🏾✊🏾 — Ibrahim ouattara (@ibrahouatt11) November 28, 2018 Former courtside reporter Niña Alvia called on the Maroons to recreate an iconic moment from years back. throwing it back to a couple of seasons ago (season 79), this was right after the @upmbt won against ateneo. it was the first time they won against the blue eagles in a decade (i think)! TARA, REMAKE???? hehehe #UPFIGHT pic.twitter.com/eb14xXklfB — Niña Alvia (@NinaAlvia) November 28, 2018.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2018

Zverev beats Djokovic in 2 sets to win ATP Finals title

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Despite beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win the ATP Finals at only 21, Alexander Zverev knows keeping pace with the Serb isn't going to be easy. Zverev claimed the biggest title of his career with a 6-4, 6-3 upset on Sunday, becoming the youngest champion of the season-ending event since Djokovic claimed the first of his five titles a decade ago — also at age 21. "Oh my God," said Zverev, who also became the first German winner since 1995. "I've won one (year-end title). He's won five. He's won, I don't know what, 148 titles more than me. Let's not go there for now. I hope I can do great ... but just chill out a little bit." Top-ranked Djokovic was attempting to tie Roger Federer's record of six titles but followed the same path as the Swiss great, who lost to Zverev in the semifinals at the O2 Arena. Djokovic's serve hadn't been broken all tournament until the final. Zverev did it once in the first set and three times in the second, completing the victory with a spectacular backhand winner up the line. "There's a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory ... in our careers," said Djokovic, who ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by winning Wimbledon this year, before going on to claim his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open. "Hopefully he (Zverev) can surpass me." Both players began the match in the same form that had seen them earn straight-sets semifinal victories a day earlier, with few points going against the server. It was Djokovic, who had lost just two of his previous 37 matches and defeated Zverev in the round robin, who began to feel the pressure as consecutive forehand errors gave up his first break of the tournament for 5-4. Fans gave Zverev a huge ovation as he stepped up to serve for the set, and it appeared to inspire him. Three straight aces brought up three set points, the second of which he took when Djokovic sent another forehand long. "I was making way too many unforced errors," Djokovic said. "From 4-4 in the first set, my game really fell apart." Zverev even began to win the longer rallies, an area of the game that Djokovic usually dominates. A 26-shot duel brought up another break point in the opening game of the second set and, although Djokovic saved it, Zverev won another lengthy exchange moments later with a forehand winner to go 1-0 up. With the biggest win of his career in sight, Zverev began to show some nerves. Although he is the only active male player outside of the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to possess three or more Masters titles, the young German has only reached one Grand Slam quarterfinal. Two double faults and two backhand errors gifted Djokovic an immediate break back, but Zverev quickly refocused to win a 28-shot rally on his way to breaking in the following game. "I lost my serve once against him today," Zverev said. "I think this is a pretty good stat, especially as he's the best returner we have in the game." From there he remained solid on serve, before ending with a flourish. A backhand winner on the run drifted past the helpless Djokovic and Zverev sunk to the ground in tears. "This trophy means a lot, everything," Zverev said. "You only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only." Djokovic sportingly crossed the net to embrace the player who will now be considered among the favorites in Australia in two months' time to end the Serb's run of two consecutive Grand Slam victories. "I've had most success in my career in Australia," said Djokovic, who has won six times in Melbourne. "Hopefully I can keep that going." Earlier, American pair Mike Bryan and Jack Sock saved a match point in the deciding tiebreaker to beat Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 for their first ATP Finals doubles title together. Having failed to take advantage of five championship points during the first-to-10 match tiebreaker, Bryan and Sock then had to save one against their French opponents before finally closing out victory. "It was a hell of a match," Bryan said. The 40-year-old Bryan has now won the tournament five times. He won four times with his usual partner — and brother — Bob, who has been out with an injured hip since May. Sock and Bryan have dominated since teaming up, winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before finishing their season in style in London. "It's been a hell of a ride," Bryan said. "This could be our last hoorah because Bob's training back in Florida.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Gasquet will face Sock after beating Shapovalov in Paris

PARIS (AP) — In a battle of different generations, home favorite Richard Gasquet beat Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov in straight sets to reach the second round of the Paris Masters, where he will face American defending champion Jack Sock. The 32-year-old Gasquet was 3-0 down in the opening set but rallied to win 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Monday. Another Frenchman was safely through after Adrian Mannarino beat compatriot Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-2. He next plays 10th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan. Nicolas Mahut is out of his home tournament, however, after losing to Frances Tiafoe of the United States 7-6 (1), 6-2. The 20-year-old Tiafoe will face fourth-seeded Alex Zverev of Germany. Novak Djokovic, who is aiming to wrestle back the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal, will be relieved to be facing Joao Sousa of Portugal in the second round and not Marco Cecchinato of Italy. Cecchinato, who upset Djokovic in the French Open quarterfinals, lost to Sousa 7-5, 6-3. Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany will play fifth-seeded Marin Cilic in the next round after recovering to beat Robin Haase 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2. Steve Johnson's miserable run against Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain continued. Bautista Agut improved to 6-0 against Johnson after winning 6-4, 7-6 (2) on Monday to set up a second-round meeting against ninth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov. Elsewhere, Karen Khachanov beat last year's runner-up, Filip Krajinovic, 7-5, 6-2, and Damir Dzumhur and Feliciano Lopez also advanced. Nikoloz Basilashvili won when opponent John Millman retired with a back injury after losing their first set 6-4......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

Rafael Nadal maintains lead as Russian breaks into ATP Top 20

PARIS, France – Russia's Karen Khachanov moved into the Top 20 of the latest men's ATP tennis rankings released Monday, October 22, following his win in the Kremlin Cup. Third seeded wildcard Khachanov beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets on Sunday to secure his second ATP title of the season ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2018

Rugby: Philippines wins silver in Asia Trophy Series

The Philippine women's rugby team settled for the silver medal after bowing to Malaysia, 10-7, on Sunday in the 2018 Asia Trophy Series in Brunei. The Lady Volcanoes went undefeated, winning their first five games of the two-day competition before running into the Malaysians in the gold medal match. "I couldn't be more proud of how the team performed overall. Not only is it the best result the team has ever had in a single tournament, the entire team was composed of Philippine homegrown players. The program is on track for a competitive rematch against Malaysia in the Southeast Asian Games next year," said Philippine team head coach Ada Milby. The Philippines beat Uzbekistan, 12-10,...Keep on reading: Rugby: Philippines wins silver in Asia Trophy Series.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2018

Warriors dominance in the West shows no sign of relenting

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com We have reached the point in this Golden State Warriors’ chokehold on the Western Conference where it turns spooky: The last team out West to deny the Warriors (technically) no longer exists. Yes, the LA Clippers are still right where they’ve always been. But all other traces of May 3, 2014, when they beat the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, have turned to dust. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, JJ Redick, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford -- they’re all gone. Usually, it’s the loser who feels the cold repercussions and fallout of a first-round defeat in the playoffs. But what’s often lost as the Warriors run the table in the West is how they’ve shattered so many teams, schemes and dreams along the way. In hindsight, four years ago was not the beginning of “Lob City” and the Clippers. It was the beginning of their end. The wreckage left behind by the Warriors over the ensuing 53 months underlines the undeniable truth: They’ve taken ownership of their very own West Side Story. They had a record-setting 73-win regular season. They’ve won 12 straight West payoff series (and 15 of 16 playoff series overall). Only twice – the West finals in 2016 and '18 -- did they endure the indignity of needing to survive Game 7 in the West playoffs. In short, this dynasty shows no signs of dying this season. If anything, the argument can be made -- even before it’s proven as fact -- that the 2018-19 Warriors are their most talented team yet. All-Stars Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson welcomed a fifth, DeMarcus Cousins, to their mix this summer. That is not typical in the NBA, folks. “This," Durant said, "is going to be an exciting season. Fun.” The Warriors’ five All-Stars (two of whom are former Kia MVPs) are still in their prime. And given that Andre Iguodala tends to transform from a fossil to an X-factor when spring arrives, perhaps only injury or another uncontrollable circumstance will keep the Warriors from making it an NBA-record five straight Western Conference crowns. “In terms of encouraging each other, being in tune with some of the things that might be thrown at you, whether it's injuries, whether it's a couple of slumps on the court, whatever the case is, we adapt really well and we don't stay down for too long,” Curry said. The Rockets, who won 65 games a season ago, are perhaps the most realistic challenger to the Warriors out West. But it's quite possible that Houston is weaker than it was in 2017-18. To understand how high the Warriors are sitting on the throne, you must survey what they’ve left behind. Just look at how the biggest threats in the West have either hit dead ends or maxed themselves out trying to chase the Warriors since 2014. Memphis Grizzlies: At one point, they were considered the toughest matchup for the Warriors because they were polar opposite in style. Half-court and methodical, the Grizzlies took a switchblade to the basketball, slowing the tempo. And they exploited Golden State’s lone weaknesses: Interior size and overall strength. They physically beat up the Warriors in the paint (Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol) and on the perimeter (Tony Allen). Additionally, Mike Conley was at times a handful at point guard at a time when Curry was winning MVP awards. But health and age wore the Grizzlies down and eventually forced them into a current reinvention that likely won’t reap benefits until after the Warriors are finished. Oklahoma City Thunder: As one of only two West teams (Houston being the other) to force the Warriors into a seventh game, OKC was prime for a takeover in 2016. That season, OKC eliminated a 67-win San Antonio Spurs team in the West semfinals. Durant and Russell Westbrook were healthy, humming and helping the Thunder to a 3-1 lead in the West finals. That, however, was their apex, and the costly collapse was heightened by the “Klay Game” (41 points in Game 6). Imagine, if not for a fateful turn of events -- Klay’s 3-point rampage, KD’s second-half Game 7 vapor and the Warriors losing the 2016 Finals to Cleveland -- maybe Durant sticks around in OKC. At any rate, the post-2016 West finals reconstruction being done by the Thunder (Exhibit A: The short-lived Carmelo Anthony experience) is falling short so far. Portland Trail Blazers: They were never seriously considered a thorn to the Warriors, and still aren’t. It’s just that they played themselves. They were fooled by the events in 2016, when they beat the injury-hampered Clippers in the first round. They were then somewhat competitive against the Warriors in the West semifinals (winning one game by 12, losing another in OT and the elimination game by just four). Flushed with false hope, that summer the Blazers handed out rich extensions to rotational players and, unfortunately, locked themselves into a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since. San Antonio Spurs: Like the Grizzlies, the Spurs caused trouble for the Warriors because of their disciplined style that put the brakes on the pace. San Antonio ruled the West just prior to the Warriors’ run and the proud franchise wasn’t willing to relinquish its hold so easily, causing the Warriors to shiver by winning the regular season matchup from 2014-16. Still, like Memphis, the Spurs turned gray almost overnight. Tim Duncan retired, Tony Parker lost some zip and then, of course, came the sneaky Zaza Pachulia foot plant that KO’d Kawhi Leonard in the first game of their 2017 series. It hasn’t been the same for the Spurs, who shipped off the disgruntled Leonard this summer. Houston Rockets: While the Warriors were able to build around Curry to create a dynasty, the Rockets are in their third attempt to do likewise with James Harden. The Dwight Howard experiment was an exploding cigar, and then the strategy of turning Harden into a point guard failed to draw blood. Chris Paul arrived last season and the best record in the West followed, but Paul has always limped at the wrong time. True to form, his body failed him in the conference finals, just when the Rockets were up 3-2 on the Warriors and primed to issue a stunning statement. The conference-wide process of teams searching for the formula to bring an end to this “Golden” era has taken on an interesting twist. Except for the Rockets, who shuffled their deck slightly this summer, other West contenders are on a semi-defeatist two-year plan. As in: We’re not ready now, but look out in a coupla years! LeBron James joined the Lakers this summer, but it’s hard to take them seriously when LeBron himself says his new team isn’t breathing the same air as the defending champs. His supporting cast is a mix of pups with no playoff experience and vets who’ve seen better days. It’s foolhardy to doubt the potential of any team with LeBron — eight straight trips to the championship round is no joke, even if it came through the East. But they’ll stand a better chance next season, especially if they’re bringing Kawhi or Jimmy Butler by then. There’s also the Utah Jazz, a Spurs-like operation led by a pair of Spurs alums in GM Dennis Lindsey and coach Quin Snyder. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is a star in the making, but you need more than one of those to match Golden State. Perhaps in time, Mitchell will get a shotgun rider, but Utah is a tough sell for A-list free agents. Houston stands out from the pack with Harden, Paul and center Clint Capela, who gave the Warriors fits last spring. They’re still an attractive, turnkey team. Adding Anthony provides scoring, but does he impact a potential West finals rematch in 2019? With Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute gone, where is the perimeter defense coming from? Is it possible that Houston, with Paul aging, had its best chance last spring and didn’t cash in? It’s also possible the Warriors will do everyone in the West a favor and destroy themselves in the very near future. Durant can become a free agent next summer. Thompson’s contract is up, too, although he’s been very clear about his preference to stay even if that means making below market value. “What’s happening right now is going to be really tough to replicate for anybody,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “You have the proverbial window, however you want to put it. We have an incredible opportunity that’s just not always going to be here. We want to take full advantage not only from a success standpoint but from an enjoyment standpoint. “We’re well aware that it’s not going to last forever.” But that’s getting ahead of the story here, which is whether the Warriors will fall shy of The Finals for the first time since 2014. A three-time champion is bringing everyone back and will add a bonus whenever the healing Cousins returns. Basketball can sometimes be a funny game and anything can happen to throw this scenario for a loop. Until then, however, it's hard to imagine anything derailing another season of Warriors dominance. 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 NewsOct 16th, 2018

England hands Spain its first home loss in 15 years

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It was an odd scene at Benito Villamarin Stadium in Seville: The few visiting English fans were chanting "Ole" at every touch of the ball by their squad, while the home Spanish crowd was jeering its own players. It was only halftime on Monday and the Spaniards had already seen their national team concede three goals for the first time ever in a competitive match at home. By the end, they were witnesses to La Roja's first home loss in 15 years. Raheem Sterling scored twice and Marcus Rashford once in a stunning first half for England, which held on to beat Spain 3-2 in the UEFA Nations League to get back in contention for a spot in the final four of Europe's newest competition. In the other match in League A, Iceland lost to Switzerland 2-1 and was relegated to the second-tier League B. Sterling ended his three-year scoring drought with England with goals on each side of Rashford's strike before the break, leading England to its first win in Spain since 1987. "For a young team, they put in an incredibly mature performance, withstood pressure reasonably well and should all be really proud," England coach Gareth Southgate said. Spain suffered its first loss in a competitive match at home since 2003 against Greece. It hadn't lost at home in 38 matches, and had not conceded three goals in a home match since 1991 in a friendly against Hungary. "It shows how tough it is to come here and win and we have done that," England forward Harry Kane said. "We came out of the blocks firing, great pressing." Paco Alcacer scored Spain's first goal early in the second half and Sergio Ramos claimed the second on the final play of the match. "We have to admit we played very badly in the first half," Spain coach Luis Enrique said. "We made a lot of individual mistakes." Despite the loss, Spain stayed ahead in Group 4 of League A with two more points than England after three matches. Croatia, with a game in hand, was five points behind Spain. Spain could have secured a spot in the last four with a win, while a draw would have ended England's chances of advancing. Only the group winner moves on. Spain started well but its high defensive line struggled against the speed of England's young forwards. The visitors were clinical, scoring on all of their attempts on goal. Spain totaled 25 attempts and 70 percent of possession, and blew it. England opened the scoring early in a fast breakaway. Rashford sent a nice ball into space for Sterling, who entered the area with only the goalkeeper to beat and found the top of the net with a superb finish. It was his first goal for England since 2015, and first ever away from Wembley. "It was a beautiful feeling," Sterling said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to get in the box and score. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't, but it's my position to score goals so I need to keep that going." Rashford added to the lead in the 30th after a perfect through ball by Kane, entering the area and finishing with a shot from near the penalty spot. Sterling got on the board again from close range after Kane's set-up in a move which started with a nice pass by Ross Barkley over the top of the Spanish defenders. Spain got on the board in the 58th through a header by substitute striker Alcacer, who has 10 goals in his last six games with club and country. Ramos' last-minute goal also was a header. RELEGATED ICELAND Iceland needed to beat Switzerland for the first time to avoid relegation but the Swiss got off to a two-goal lead and held on to victory. Switzerland routed Iceland 6-0 at home in the team's opener. It moved into a tie with Belgium for first place in Group 2. The Belgians have a game in hand. LOWER LEAGUES In League B, Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 at home to take a six-point lead over Austria atop Group 3. In Group 2 of League C, Finland beat Greece 2-0 at home to remain perfect with four wins and a clean sheet after four matches. Estonia and Hungary drew 3-3 in the group's other match. Luxembourg defeated San Marino 3-0 to take the lead in Group 2 of League D, ahead of Belarus, which was held by Moldova to 0-0......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018