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Even without Serena, Aussie Open women s field still tough

By Justin Bergman, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Without defending champion Serena Williams in the draw at the Australian Open, there's certainly an opportunity for another player to go on a surprising run and emerge as a first-time Grand Slam champion. Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko did it last year. Just don't describe the first Grand Slam of the year as "more open" than usual. "Whenever I get asked that question, it always comes across in really kind of an almost negative way instead of acknowledging how many great players we have," Johanna Konta, who reached the semifinals of Wimbledon last year, said in her pre-tournament news conference Saturday. "The depth in women's tennis, I really do believe in the last few years, has gotten so strong," she added. "There's no straight sailing to the quarters or semis. It doesn't exist." Stephens agrees the Australian Open field is still extremely tough, even without Williams, the 23-time major winner. Williams withdrew from the tournament to recover from health issues after a complicated childbirth in September. "There's a lot of great players," Stephens said. "It's up for grabs." A new face will be holding the trophy at Melbourne Park in two weeks. The No. 1-ranking changed seven times in 2017, with five different women assuming top spot — three for the first time. Top-ranked Simona Halep is looking to finally break through and win her first major after twice finishing runner-up. She won the season-opening Shenzhen Open in China, but has mixed results at Melbourne Park, losing in the first round the last two years. "I don't feel pressure. I feel OK. I feel fit. I feel ready to start," Halep said. "I have one more goal: to win a Grand Slam." Stephens made a stellar run to the U.S. Open title after missing several months with an injured left foot. She's struggled to adjust to the sudden stardom that's come with being a Grand Slam champion — losing seven straight matches since September — but believes she can find her game again in Melbourne. "I think it's always a tough transition when you go from not playing tennis for 11 months to winning a Grand Slam," she said. "I like to just stay in my own little bubble and do my own thing. ... It's kind of been what I'm trying to do." There are plenty of other contenders. Ostapenko, now 20, rocketed up the rankings after her stunning win at the French Open. Venus Williams is a threat at 37 years old after finishing runner-up to her sister last year. Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open winner, won the Sydney International title on Saturday. Garbine Muguruza is the reigning Wimbledon champion, though her health has been in question at the start of the new year. Caroline Wozniacki had a career-reviving 2017 season and could return to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in six years with a strong showing in Melbourne. Maria Sharpova, the 2008 winner, returns after missing last year's Australian Open because of a drug suspension. And then there's Elina Svitolina, who earned her 10th tour title last week at the Brisbane International. She has a shot at No. 1 during the Australian Open. "I had a great week in Brisbane. Of course, I'm confident," she said. But she added that isn't enough in the constantly shifting, ultra-competitive women's game. "Everyone wants to win a Grand Slam," Svitolina said. "So, I try to find my way, what can help me to be there, to be ready for the fight.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 13th, 2018

Even without Williams, Aussie Open women’s field still tough

MELBOURNE, Australia --- With no Serena Williams in the draw at the Australian Open, there's certainly an opportunity for another women's player to go on a surprising run and emerge as a first-time Grand Slam champion, as Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko did last year. Just don't describe the first Grand Slam of the year as "more open" than usual. "Whenever I get asked that question, it always comes across in really kind of an almost negative way instead of acknowledging how many great players we have," Johanna Konta, who reached the semifinals of Wimbledon last year, said in her pre-tournament news conference Saturday. "The depth in women's tennis I really do believe i...Keep on reading: Even without Williams, Aussie Open women’s field still tough.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Wozniacki wins 1st major title at Aussie Open

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2018

DE JESUS: Genius, disciplinarian, champion coach

This story was originally published on May 7, 2017 De La Salle University head coach Ramil De Jesus came inside the press room of the Big Dome for a post-game interview wearing the same smile he had in the past nine times the Lady Spikers closed the UAAP season as champions. The only difference in those championship interviews were the players that accompanied him to answer questions from reporters. From Iris Ortega-Patrona, Desiree Hernandez, Maureen Penetrante, the legendary Manilla Santos, the Big Three of Cha Cruz, Paneng Mercado and Jacq Alarca, to Michel Gumabao and beast-mode-don’t-care Aby Marano to Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Kim Dy and gem of a setter in Kim Fajaro – all of them stood beside a genius and architect of DLSU’s successful volleyball program. Victory after victory, De Jesus built his reputation as a one of the best women’s volleyball mentors in the country. Last Saturday, De Jesus added another feather to his cap when he steered the Taft-based squad to back-to-back titles in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the expense of archrival Ateneo de Manila. Two decades since his arrival to the school of a different shade of green after playing for Far Eastern University, delivered 10 titles and brought the Lady Spikers to the Finals 17 times.   De Jesus shared the secret of his success. “Siguro, sistema siguro then hard work. And then, well-disciplined ‘yung mga bata. Siguro, ‘yun ‘yung key,” he said. His success earned him the respect of his peers including three-time UAAP men’s volleyball champion Oliver Almadro of Ateneo, who was once one of his lieutenants, and players alike. DLSU embraced him as one of its own. “Natutuwa ako kasi kahit hindi ako alumnus doon niyakap nila ako bilang parang doon na din nag-graduate,” said De Jesus. “Hindi ko naman napapansin ang mga nanyayari sa akin sila lang ang nakakapansin, binigyan nga ako ng award. Happy, very happy (ako).” De Jesus is known to be a no nonsense coach. Strict, straightforward and a disciplinarian – traits he inherited from FEU men’s coach Kid Santos.                He doesn’t like fanfare and as much as possible keeps attention away from him. De Jesus carefully chooses his words but when he gives one, everybody listens. He means business all the time.   Brilliance of De Jesus 246-65. De Jesus knows how to win and his career win-loss record says it all. The main reason why DLSU trusted De Jesus to handle the team for that many years – a rare feat considering that a UAAP coach’s tenure is very volatile.   It was summer 20 years ago when former basketball Olympian and influential DLSU sport personality Ramoncito Campos brought in a young mentor in De Jesus to save the school’s volleyball program, which then had yet to win a title since joining the league in 1986.           He entered the UAAP volleyball scene during the time when powerhouse teams Far Eastern University and University of Sto. Tomas, then mentored by legendary coach August Sta. Maria, were the ones lording over here the competition. Of course the road to glory didn’t come easy but his first tour of duty gave DLSU a chance to feel what it was to be in the Final Four when the Lady Spikers finished fourth a year when after strings of forgettable seasons. Quenching the thirst to salvage some pride in the sport that will eventually be DLSU’s second most valued contest next to basketball, the Lady Spikers began to hunger for the crown – something the school never felt before since winning it all back in 1976 as a member of the NCAA.   De Jesus submitted his team to Spartan-like training and hammering discipline and slowly molded the Lady Spikers to a championship-caliber squad. In Season 61, DLSU challenged FEU for the crown but the Lady Tamaraws’ championship experience prevailed. The loss only fueled De Jesus’ desire to bring the Lady Spikers to the throne even more. With the core of ace hitter Ortega-Patrona, setter Valerie Bautista, Sally Macasaet, Sheryl Magallanes, Demelle Chua, Hollie Reyes and then sophomore Ivy Remulla, De Jesus steered DLSU on the right track for another shot at the crown. Midway in the season Bautista got pregnant. De Jesus, calm and composed, knew what to do. He converted open spiker Reyes into a setter and the gambit worked as DLSU once again punched a ticket to the Finals, this time against UST – a very hungry team looking to reclaim the title. A year removed from the throne, UST was ready for the kill. But the Espana-based squad went against a famished team – DLSU will not leave the sweltering University of the Philippines Human Kinetics Gym without the championship trophy. In front of a crowd - dwarf-sized compared to the multitude of fans that troop bigger venues of today – the Lady Spikers wrote history. DLSU slew a giant in a thrilling five-set game behind the stellar performance of Ortega-Patrona, who won that Season’s Most Valuable Player award – the first of many incredible volleybelles that will bag the highest individual honor under De Jesus’ tutelage.     It was an incredible feat but it won’t see a repeat in the next three years.              Grand Slam After their breakthrough title, the Lady Spikers had three straight bride’s maid finishes behind FEU. Heartbreaks brought by Ortega-Patrona’s falling out with De Jesus over a disciplinary issue in Season 63 and the unstoppable power of FEU's Monica Aleta, who won three straight MVP awards while towing the Lady Tams to a three-peat. Like a chess master, De Jesus learned from his mistakes before pulling off a feat that will cement his name as one of the greatest. With Hernandez, Penetrante and a young Santos as his main pieces, he steered the Lady Spikers to a rare three-peat. DLSU brought into heel FEU, UST and Adamson to complete a grand slam. A four-peat loomed for the celebrated Lady Spikers but fate played a cruel trick on them after UAAP suspended DLSU in Season 69 because the Green Archers' basketball squad fielded two ineligible players the previous year.       When the ban was lifted in Season 70, De Jesus and the Lady Spikers were again under the radar as title contenders together with the defending champion UST, FEU and Adamson. But team was forced to file a leave of absence from the school while the tournament was ongoing because Alarca saw action despite incomplete academic credentials to be eligible to play. All of the team’s won games where Alarca played where forfeited and the Lady Spikers ended up at seventh place. It was a painful setback but it also served as a rallying point for DLSU. With Santos playing her final year and the emergence of enigmatic but then rookie libero Mel Gohing in Season 71, the Lady Spikers denied the then graduating Rachel Anne Daquis and FEU back-to-back crowns. DLSU relinquished the throne to the Angeli Tabaquero and Aiza Maizo-led Tigresses the following year. The Lady Spikers avenged their loss the next season in a rematch with UST behind Alarca, Mercado, Cruz, Gumabao and Gohing in the start of De Jesus’ second three-peat.   DLSU-Ateneo rivalry Nobody really knows when UAAP volleyball picked up the tremendous following it has today. Maybe it needed something for people to get hooked into. A continuous rivalry, perhaps? For six straight years DLSU and Ateneo did just that. The storied rivalry between La Salle and Ateneo spilled from the basketball court to the taraflex mat of volleyball. De Jesus had in his bench the core of veterans Cruz, Gumabao and Marano back and freshmen Galang, Reyes and Demecillo when they met in the Season 74 Finals a young and promising Lady Eagles side – much like the Lady Spikers De Jesus inherited 14 seasons back. Led by Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio and a fresh recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school Alyssa Valdez, Ateneo gave DLSU a tough challenge for two seasons but the Lady Spikers repelled them both times. Then came Lady Eagles Thai mentor Tai Bundit. For three years in a row, De Jesus’ system bested the rest of the field including that of then Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb. However, a coach who barely spoke English or Filipino provided him a challenge in Season 76. DLSU with an intact core led by Marano, swept its way straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. Ateneo crawled its way to the championship round through a series of do-or-die games. De Jesus is an old-school type of coach. His system is hinged on well-planned strategies and tactics. He was pitted against Bundit’s Thai-style of play anchored on a heartstrong mantra and a ‘happy, happy’ approach of the game. Bundit dances on the sideline, an animated fellow during the matches. De Jesus is stoic as always. When the two collided for the title for the first time, Bundit shocked De Jesus and DLSU when Ateneo beat them thrice in a four-game series that went the full distance. Bundit and the Valdez-led Lady Eagles did it again the following year, completing a season sweep at the expense of the Lady Spikers, who struggled to pose any form resistance in the Finals after Galang went down with a season-ending ACL tear in the semis. It was a devastating loss to say the least. But De Jesus, a general who fought many battles for the green and white, stuck with the weapon that brought him success – his ability to adjust. Outdueled by Bundit in their last six matches, De Jesus found a way to stop the rampaging Lady Eagles in their first meeting in Season 78. Ateneo equalized in the second round and even took the top spot after the elimination. The Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles would eventually meet in the Finals for the fifth year in a row. De Jesus was ready for Ateneo. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of the Lady Eagles and used it to his advantage to win the series opener. The then graduating Valdez brought Ateneo back in Game 2 to tie the series, but DLSU completed its long-awaited revenge in the decider and gave Reyes, Demecillo and Galang a fitting sendoff gift.                  Road to back-to-back Losing five veterans including three of their key players heading into Season 79 gave De Jesus one of the toughest challenges he ever faced as a DLSU mentor.  Setter Kim Fajardo returned for her swan song together with fourth year playes Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili and Majoy Baron. Desiree Cheng also came back after a year of absence due to a knee injury, but De Jesus was still left to navigate with a relatively young crew.  “Sa laht nang nai-form kong team, ito yung medyo (up and down) yung performance,” he said. “Sobrang babaw ng bench, wala ka halos (mahugot) pagtingin mo, wala ka makuha.” DLSU struggled early and was on the losing end of two elims matches against Ateneo. “Ateneo nu’ng buong elimination NU lang ang halos tumalo. Sabi ko ano bang meron ang team na ito?” he said. “Pinilit lang naming habulin.” “Kasi alam ko nag-start kami medyo hilaw ang team namin. Early part ng first round natalo kami sa UP sabi ko pukpok pa tayo, habol pa,” De Jesus added. “Ang nakakatuwa sa mga bata, ang determinasyon na humabol nandoon.” When the De Jesus found himself leading the Lady Spikers to a sixth straight title series against Bundit and the Lady Eagles, he knew his squad was ready to defend their crown. And protect it they did in a series sweep capped by a dramatic five-set victory.    “Siguro buong eliminations, nire-review namin ang mga games, nakikita mo yung difference, ‘yung advantage at disadvantage ng team, so siguro doon kami nag-focus, kung saan kami medyo dehado. Concentrate kami sa training,” he said. “Ine-explain ko rin sa players kung ano yung dapat naming gawin, although mahirap. So, tanggapin na lang nila.” In a rare moment, when Ateneo’s Jho Maraguinot sent her attack long that signaled DLSU’s back-to-back championships, De Jesus let his hair down a little. He was jumping, dancing, celebrating the victory and even held his hands up, both his palms wide open as confetti dropped and the deafening roar of the crowd and banging of the drums echoed inside the arena. De Jesus won his tenth title. When the celebration subsided, De Jesus fashioned the same smile he wore in his past nine championships as he was led inside the pressroom of the Big Dome. Only this time around, Fajardo, Cheng and Dy were the ones who followed him from behind.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

NCAA Season 93: women s volleyball preview

Exciting volleyball action starts early this year as NCAA opens its 93rd season on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Arellano University will try to retain its women’s crown against a field filled with squad’s raring to sit on the throne. Let’s take a quick peek at the competing teams.   MAPUA UNIVERSITY LADY CARDINALS   Winless last year, can Mapua University finally put a stop on their skid?  Season 92 record: 0-9 Titles: none  Key players: Danielle Ramilo, Shaira Hermano, Katrina Racelis, Dianne Latayan This team has nowhere to go but up after a forgettable season last year. The Lady Cardinals lost four of their games in straight sets, three in four frames and a couple of matches in five. Mapua’s last victory was against Letran in five sets back in Season 91 (January 7, 2016).   EMILIO AGUINALDO COLLEGE LADY GENERALS   Emilio Aguinaldo College needs to be consistent to add more Ws in their record this season.  Season 92 record: 1-8 Titles: none Players to watch: Iona Yongco and Yvette Tongco EAC’s lone win last season came at the expense of Mapua in straight sets before closing their campaign with a five-set loss against Letran.   LETRAN LADY KNIGHTS   Can Letran contend for a spot in the Final Four this year? Season 92 record: 2-7 Titles: 8 (last title: 1999) Players to watch: Glayssa Faith Torres and Jaymeleene Parin Letran finished at eighth spot last year. They won only two games, against Mapua and EAC, but gave Lyceum, College of St. Benilde and San Sebastian College a scare before bowing down to these powerhouse teams in five sets.   JOSE RIZAL U LADY BOMBERS   Shola Alvarez is expected to carry Jose Rizal University on her shoulders but will need to get support from her teammates. Season 92 record: 3-6 Titles: none Players to watch: Shola Alvarez, Dolly Versoza, Karen Montojo (Season 92 Best Opposite Spiker) JRU is a young and vertically challenged team, mostly banking on Shola Alvarez for point production. The Lady Bombers joined the PVL’s Collegiate Conference during the offseason but lost all of their five matches.    LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES U LADY PIRATES   Lyeum of the Philippines University is considered as a darkhorse this season.  Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: none Players to watch: Cherilyn Sindayen, Christine Miralles, Bien Juanillo An intact and veteran-laden team. But will the Lady Pirates’ exposure in the PVL Collegiate Conference be enough for them to contend for a spot in the Final Four?     UNIVERSITY OF PERPETUAL HELP LADY ALTAS   Veteran Lourdes Clemente will be one of Perpetual Help's vital cogs in their campaign to reclaim the throne.   Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: 3 (last title: 2014) Players to watch: Lourdes Clemente, Necelle Gual, Marijo Medalla Former CSB coach Macky Carino replaced long-time mentor Sammy Acaylar but the Lady Altas lost a solid middle in Coleen Bravo and hitter Jamela Suyat. After its three-peat (2012-14), Perpetual has yet to return to the Finals.     SAN BEDA COLLEGE LADY RED SPIKERS   All eyes will be on Cesca Racraquin when San Beda College makes a run for the crown. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: none Players to watch: Cesca Racraquin, Satrianni Espiritu, Nieza and Jiezela Viray Season 92 Rookie of the Year Cesca Racraquin will be the go-to guy of the Lady Red Spikers, who made it into the stepladder semis last year. SBC participated in the PVL Collegiate Conference while Racraquin had good stints in the PVL Reinforced and Open conferences for Creamline.      COLLEGE OF ST. BENILDE LADY BLAZERS   Ranya Musa (left) and Rachel Austero are the players to watch for a beefed up College of St. Benilde. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: 1 (2016) Players to watch: Ranya Musa, Rachel Austero, Maritess Pablo, Felicia Cui Expectations are high for this team with the arrival of transferees Maritess Pablo (NU) and Felicia Cui (Ateneo) to help Rachel Austero and graduating player Ranya Musa.     Leadership will be a tough challenge for this team after the departure of ace scorer Jeanette Panaga as well as adapting to a new system under interim head coach Arnold Laniog, who replaced Macky Carino.     SAN SEBASTIAN COLLEGE LADY STAGS   San Sebastian College is looking at a rough and bumpy road ahead this season. Season 92 record: 9-0 elims, defeated thrice in the Finals Titles: 23 (last title: 2011) Players to watch: Joyce Sta. Rita, Alyssa Eroa, Nikka Dalisay The most-decorated volleyball program in the NCAA will be facing its toughest season yet. If losing scorers three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones and Kat Villegas weren’t enough, head coach Roger Goreyab will have at his disposal a very short rotation on nine players. But his available players could even go down entering the season after Julie Anne Tiangco suffered a knee injury recently. Scarcity of players even forced SSC-R to field a swimmer to fill in the required minimun of nine players to be able to participate in the tournament.       ARELLANO UNIVERSITY LADY CHIEFS   Who will stop Arellano University from its back-to-back bid? Season 92 record: 8-1, won thrice in a row in the Finals Titles: 2 (last title: 2017) Players to watch: Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Andrea Marzan The Lady Chiefs lost Rialen Sante and veteran libero Eunice Galang, who both graduated, after last season but will still parade a grizzled core. Fueled by their stints in the PVL including a third place finish in the Collegiate League at the expense of UAAP team Adamson University, Arellano U is expected to make a return trip into the Finals. With SSC-R, the only team to defeat the Obet Javier-mentored squad last year, weakened after the departure of Soltones, the only question now is who will stop the Lady Chiefs’ impending rampage?       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2018

Serena loses in exhibition comeback after giving birth

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Serena Williams lost in her return to tennis after giving birth in September, beaten by French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in an exhibition Saturday and still unsure if she will defend her Australian Open title. Williams called it a "wonderful" match despite the defeat — she took the second set in a score of 6-2, 3-6 and 10-5 in a super tiebreaker. The Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tournament, begins Jan. 15. "I don't know if I am totally ready to come back on the tour yet. I know that when I come back I definitely want to be competing for championships. I am definitely looking forward to getting back out there," Williams said. "I am taking it one day at a time. I am going to assess everything with my team before deciding." The 36-year-old Williams took time off after winning the Australian Open last January while pregnant. She gave birth to her first child, a girl named Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on Sept. 1. She married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November. Williams struggled with her serve in the 67-minute match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. But, after nearly a year away from the game, she did win a set against the world's No. 7 player "I don't think I am going to rate my performance," Williams said. "I have plenty of comebacks, from injuries, from surgeries, but I've never had a comeback after actually giving birth to a human being. So, in my eyes, I feel it was a wonderful, wonderful match for me." Williams insisted she has a lot more tennis to play. "Knowing that I have won 23 Grand Slam titles and several other titles, I don't think I have anything more left to prove," she said. "But I am not done yet." Williams won her opening game, breaking Ostapenko. But she was nowhere near her best in the first set before fighting back and winning the second. After the initial break, Ostapenko latched onto Williams' weak serves and capitalized on several unforced errors to go up 4-1 with two breaks. Williams again struggled with her serve in the second set. But she went ahead 3-0 with a couple of early breaks and hit with more confidence, including several crowd-pleasing double-handed passing shots. Another break in the ninth game gave her the set. "In the beginning, it felt a little tough. But as the match moved on, I was less afraid. I knew I was not going to fall over and break," she said. "The more I played, the more confident I felt that I would be able to go for shots that I was afraid to go for in the first set." In the super tiebreaker, Ostapenko raced to an 8-2 lead before halting a brief recovery by Williams. "For me, it is all about physical, how I am feeling physically. ... I am just proud being out here and playing in Abu Dhabi and to be able to just compete," Williams said. "I have had a tough few months and I am just excited to be able to play again." It was the first time a women's match had been played in the traditionally men's only exhibition. U.S. Open runner-up Kevin Anderson defeated Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-6 (0) in the men's final. The 14th-ranked Anderson immediately broke Bautista Agut and was never in danger of losing serve in the first set. In the second set, Bautista Agut broke in the second game, but the South African broke back immediately. An aggressive Anderson swept the tiebreaker......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

Anderson tops Isner 26-24 at Wimbledon; other SF suspended

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — To say that Kevin Anderson won this interminable Wimbledon semifinal, and that John Isner lost it, didn't really seem fair. To Anderson, anyway. They had played on and on, through 6 1/2 hours of ho-hum hold after ho-hum hold, during the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877, all the way until the never-ending serving marathon did, finally, end at 26-24 in the fifth set Friday, with Anderson claiming the most important of the 569 points — the last. So when Anderson left Centre Court, well aware that his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory earned him the chance to win his first Grand Slam title at age 32, the South African said: "At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us." He continued: "John's such a great guy, and I really feel for him, because if I'd been on the opposite side, I don't know how you can take that, playing for so long and coming up short." Only one match at Wimbledon ever lasted longer: Isner's 2010 first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, the longest match in tennis history. It went more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth on Court 18, which now bears a plaque commemorating it. Friday's contest lasted so long, the day's second semifinal didn't finish. Novak Djokovic was leading Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) in a compelling showdown filled with entertaining points that was suspended as soon as the third set concluded at just past 11 p.m., the curfew at the All England Club. Some people in the stands booed the decision to halt the match after a fantastic tiebreaker in which Nadal wasted three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7. Djokovic cashed in on his second when Nadal's backhand found the net after an 18-stroke exchange. Because Nadal and Djokovic didn't begin playing until after 8 p.m., the retractable roof above the main stadium was shut between the matches and the arena's artificial lights were turned on. Now they'll come back Saturday to figure out who will face Anderson in the final, resuming at 1 p.m. local time, under the roof. The women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will then follow. That creates an unusual situation: Instead of a standard 2 p.m. start, Williams and Kerber won't know exactly when their match will begin. Anderson will certainly appreciate the chance to put his feet up ahead of Sunday's final, while Nadal and Djokovic — who have a combined 29 Grand Slam titles between them, five at Wimbledon — push each other some more. Anderson's fifth set alone lasted nearly 3 hours as his semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill. "He stayed the course incredibly well," said the No. 9 seed Isner, a 33-year-old American playing in his first major semifinal. "Just disappointed to lose. I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final and it didn't happen." Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the right-hander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty. "That definitely brings a smile to my face," said Anderson, the runner-up to Nadal at last year's U.S. Open. "At that stage, you're just trying to fight in every single moment, and I was like, 'Just get up!'" The No. 8 seed Anderson eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Between that and the energy-sapper against Isner, it's hard to imagine how Anderson will have much left for his second Slam final. Wimbledon doesn't use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women, so there's nothing to prevent a match from continuing ad infinitum. Both Isner and Anderson said they'd like to see that change. At one point in the fifth set, a spectator shouted, "Come on, guys! We want to see Rafa!" The 6-foot-8 Anderson and 6-10 Isner go way back, to their college days, Isner at Georgia, Anderson at Illinois. In the pros, Isner had won eight of 11 previous matchups. But this one was as close as can be. There wasn't a whole lot of intrigue, or momentum shifts. The serving, though, was something else. Isner pounded his at up to 142 mph; Anderson reached 136 mph. They combined for 102 aces: 53 by Isner, 49 by Anderson. "The effort they both put in and the performance and the guts, the way they competed — a lot to be proud of," said Justin Gimelstob, one of Isner's coaches. Both failed to seize early opportunities. Isner wasted a set point in the opener. Anderson served for the third at 5-3, got broken, and then had a pair of set points in that tiebreaker, double-faulting one away. By the latter stages, with break chances so rare, murmurs would spread through the Centre Court stands whenever a game's returner got to love-15 or love-30. Could we be about to see the sixth and last break of a match that would end up with 90 holds? Repeatedly, the answer was, of course, "No," even when Anderson held break points at 7-all, 10-all and 17-all. The 10-all game ended with Isner hitting a forehand passing winner on the run to hold, then letting his momentum carry him directly to his sideline chair, where he plopped himself down. By the end, he was looking exhausted, leaning over to rest a hand on a knee between points. "I feel pretty terrible," Isner said afterward. "My left heel is killing me and I have an awful blister on my right foot." He never got a break point in the fifth set. Anderson finally came through on his sixth for a 25-24 lead, when Isner wearily put a backhand into the net. Then Anderson served out the victory, with Isner sailing a forehand wide on match point. Soon, they were meeting for an embrace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

Isner, Anderson agree: Wimbledon needs 5th-set tiebreaker

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — John Isner already had won the longest match in Wimbledon — and tennis — history. And now he's lost the second-longest one ever played at the All England Club. So there's not much better an authority to weigh in on whether it's time for fifth-set tiebreakers at all Grand Slam tournaments. Actually, both Isner and Kevin Anderson, the man who won their Wimbledon semifinal 26-24 in the final set after more than 6 1/2 hours Friday, agree a switch is necessary. "I'm a proponent of changing that rule, for sure," Isner said. "I think it needs to be done." The 33-year-old American is best known, of course, for beating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set of an 11-hour, 5-minute match that was contested over three days in Wimbledon's first round in 2010. This one seems rather tidy by comparison: Anderson won 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24. Still, Isner did jokingly ask chair umpire Marija Cicak at one point during the last set whether they could play a tiebreaker. That's how the U.S. Open settles things at 6-all in the fifth set of a men's singles match — or at 6-all in the third set for women — and has since 1970. But the other three Grand Slam tournaments all play on until one player wins by two games. "It's way beyond a normal tennis match or tactics. I mean, it's just who's going to outlast each other," said Anderson, a 32-year-old from South Africa who is seeking his first major trophy. "It's pretty tough in the format that we have right now, especially at Slams. I mean, it's not easy in that setting at the end." He and Isner suggested one possible compromise: a tiebreaker at 12-all. "A sensible option," Isner called it. Anderson noted that some members of the Centre Court crowd were ready for his match to end, so that the day's second semifinal, between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, could begin. One spectator called out, "Come on, guys! We want to see Rafa!" "If you ask most of them, I'm sure they would have preferred to see a fifth-set tiebreaker, too. They've paid to see two matches, and they came pretty close to only seeing one match," Anderson said. "I don't see the other opposing view of not incorporating a fifth-set tiebreaker at all the Slams." Now he's going to have to use Saturday to try to rest and recover so he can give it his best shot in Sunday's final. Isner had nothing left to give after his 70-68 record-setter eight years ago, and lost his next match. Of course, Isner would love to have to deal with such problems now. He also would love it if this were never again an issue. "I think it's long overdue," Isner said. "I mean, I'm a big part of that, a big part of this discussion, of course.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

CJ Perez -- Baby Beast, or The Blur 2.0?

With a monicker such as "Baby Beast", this versatile swingman from Lyceum of the Philippines University conjures images of a young Calvin Abueva, the triple-double machine that was the heart and soul of the daunted Baste-triumvirate several years back. Abueva was an unstoppable force on both ends of the floor, chasing after loose balls and rebounds and dominating the game despite his generously listed 6’3” frame. CJ Perez, who is just a shade under 6’3”, affects the game very similarly as Abueva on both ends of the floor, but at his age, is a more polished scorer, and plays at a more controlled pace, whether it is because of the system run by Coach Topex Robinson, or because of his experience playing internationally at a younger age. His journey to Lyceum was not without its twists and turns. After suiting up for San Sebastian for two seasons in the NCAA, Perez transferred to Ateneo where he was supposed to play for the Blue Eagles in Season 79 of the UAAP. However, academic issues forced him to rekindle his playing career back in the NCAA, where, after another year of residency, he was finally able to debut for the Pirates in Season 93 of the NCAA tourney. There he made up immensely for lost time, bagging the NCAA’s season MVP award, with averages of 19.3 points on 45 percent shooting from the field, 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals a contest while leading the Pirates to a stellar 18-0 sweep of the elimination round. Their 0-2 defeat in the Finals at the hands of defending champion San Beda did little to tarnish the achievements of Perez, who many now consider as the best collegiate player in the country today, and a sure top three pick in the next PBA draft. Let’s break down his attributes as a basketball player and see just how good Baby Beast (or some may even conjecture The Blur 2.0), really is. STRENGTH AND ATHLETICISM Pound for pound, CJ Perez is as good as it gets in college basketball, athletically and talent-wise. A natural scorer and slasher, he’s a tremendous leaper, and his ability to get rebounds (great positioning and leaping ability) is what allowed Lyceum to play him at the four spot in their pressing line-up. He has wiry strength and an explosive first step. This allows him to get past defenders without the need for any fancy dribbling. His solid upper body also allows him to muscle his way in traffic, create enough separation for a jumper, or more often than not, finish strong with either hand. "UMUPO SA ERE!" CJ Perez edition #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/Haf8oXmAqs — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 19, 2017   SLASHING AND SHOOTING While slashing is his primary scoring option, he’s also developed a respectable outside shot. Though he’s not a volume 3-pt shooter, he has throughout the season taken and made open threes, even of the step-back variety. And while his mechanics are not like those of a pure shooter (feet and shoulders are not perfectly square, has a habit of fading back on jumpers), his confidence and determination to make them have allowed him to shoot at a 45% clip from the field. Tough jumper for CJ Perez! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/9quJAhsazz — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) July 14, 2017 NO GO-TO MOVE? In terms of offensive moves, he has yet to show that he can regularly attack with his back to the basket, as he prefers starting from outside. We’ve not seen him regularly post up smaller defenders or use his athleticism to score on turnaround fadeaway jumpers. Another move he may have to master would be a mid-range floater, as he has not really had to play against much bigger opponents in the college ranks. This, together with a dangerous euro-step would definitely serve him well against bigger, more athletic competition. COURT VISION AND PASSING ABILITY Another positive is his willingness to make the extra pass. Because defenses are always keyed in on him, Perez has shown good court vision and an innate passing ability, many times hitting an open teammate, whether with a forward pass that leads to a fast break or an interior pass leading to an easy score under the basket. And while he is still prone to taking difficult and at times ill-advised shots because of his athleticism, his passing ability is something he can definitely capitalize on. ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT ON DEFENSE On the defensive end, CJ Perez knows how to make full use of his God-given talents. He is terrific at playing the passing lanes, in fact most of his steals are from reading the passing lanes and picking off cross court passes from their full court trap. Those are almost automatic transition baskets. His on-ball defense needs a little more improvement however, as one gets the sense that he relies more on his athleticism rather than solid defensive fundamentals, as seen when guys less athletic are still able to beat him off the dribble from time to time. Something that he’ll have to eliminate if he wants to excel in the next level. CJ Perez getting it done on both ends of the floor! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/RQVGAPnNtL — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 16, 2017 VERSATILITY In terms of intangibles, there is not much more to ask for. Perez has the motor of a Calvin Abueva, and his impact is felt on both ends of the floor. He can play all positions except center, bring the ball up like a point guard, slash like a wing, and rebound like a power forward. While his ballhandling still needs to be improved on (he’s shown to be vulnerable crossing over against smaller guards), there is little doubt that with his work ethic and attitude it’s only a matter of time before he tightens up those handles. Most importantly, he doesn’t showboat, but just goes about his business on the court -- a proven winner who still plays with a chip on his shoulder. #NCAASeason93 MVP CJ Perez's all-around brilliance was all the difference for the stunning Lyceum Pirates! pic.twitter.com/BH9uBYDwVl — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) December 19, 2017 An official from one PBA team thinks that if developed properly, CJ Perez could actually be the next Jayson Castro instead of a Calvin Abueva. That’s a scary thought; but what’s even scarier is that it’s actually not that farfetched to consider......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2018

Serena Williams seeded for Wimbledon

    LONDON, United Kingdom – Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams has been seeded 25 for this year's women's singles by the organizers despite being ranked 183 in the world. The 36-year-old – who was not seeded for the French Open – has made only a tentative return to action following complications during ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 27th, 2018

Hope Solo says don t vote for US World Cup bid

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — A World Cup winner and Olympic champion with the United States, Hope Solo now wants her country to lose one of its biggest soccer contests: FIFA's vote on the 2026 World Cup host. "I can't say it should be awarded to Morocco," Solo told The Associated Press. "But I don't think it should go to the United States, and that's hard to say." Concerns about the financial dealings of the United States Soccer Federation and the closed men's league system led Solo to that conclusion. By choosing to actively campaign against the U.S.-led North America bid, Solo risks alienating herself further from the soccer community in her homeland. The bid leadership was exasperated when informed Solo was undermining their efforts heading into Wednesday's vote, dismissing her criticism of the governance of soccer but declining to go on the record in detail. This is not an isolated eruption against U.S. Soccer. Solo has reason to be disgruntled. After 202 international appearances — a record for an American goalkeeper — Solo was fired over an outburst at the 2016 Olympics against the opposition and a series of off-the-field controversies. In an attempt to take control of the organization that ostracized her, Solo ran for the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) presidency in February. There was a resounding verdict: Solo garnered only 1.4 percent of the vote to finish last out of five candidates. Solo still wants to be heard to try to secure equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women's team, and force Major League Soccer to open up the closed competition. Her gripes provide a counterpoint to the loyal championing of the American World Cup bid by David Beckham in a video released by MLS, where the former England captain is launching a team in Miami. That is only possible because Beckham secured a cut-price deal for an expansion franchise as part of his contract to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy. "That is not helping the sport in America," Solo said. "I want to see promotion-relegation in the NASL and the MLS. Right now it's true, you have rich ownership groups owning MLS teams and they're only getting richer and they're alienating everybody else. "A new ownership group can't just come in and purchase a team even though they have the financial security, even though they have the commitment. It's controlled by those single individuals at Soccer United Marketing, MLS in particular, (Commissioner) Don Garber." FIFA's statutes enshrine the principle of a system of promotion and relegation in domestic competitions to ensure participation "shall depend principally on sporting merit." The regulations then say that qualification can be subject to other criteria including "financial considerations." MLS stridently defended itself against Solo's criticism, saying team owners have invested more than $3 billion in stadium and training facilities to grow the sport because it's a closed league. "The structure that we have has given owners certainty to make that type of investment," MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott told the AP. "Had we had a system of promotion and relegation it would not have been possible to generate that level of investment from owners, local communities or private banks that help to fund some of these facilities." Solo also questioned Garber's role overseeing MLS and Soccer United Marketing, which is the exclusive marketing partner of U.S. Soccer, while also sitting on the USSF board. "There are too many conflicts of interest that need to be addressed immediately," Solo said. Garber represents MLS on the U.S. Soccer board but recuses himself from discussions about the "sanctioning of other professional leagues in the U.S.," Abbott responded on behalf of the commissioner. Turning on the USSF, Solo said the organization lacks integrity and highlights the absence of an independent ethics committee, which FIFA has. She also filed a claim with the U.S. Olympic Committee, saying the USSF violates a law that offers protections for athletes, alleging improper conditions for soccer players. "If you're an Olympic sport, your national governing body, every NGB has an obligation to give resources and funds to all of its members, not just professional and amateur players or Paralympic team women's teams or youth teams," Solo said. "But what U.S. Soccer does is they give the money directly to the pro teams. So it's in violation of the Ted Stevens Act and I have a hearing in a couple weeks in front of the Olympic Committee. "I also met with Congress members recently. I went to Capitol Hill, met with Republicans and Democrats, and there's a lot of interest to make sure that U.S. Soccer is an organization that actually is run transparently, has integrity and is an open and honest national governing body." Up to 207 soccer federations will vote next Wednesday in Moscow on whether North America or Morocco should host the 2026 World Cup, or the bidding should be reopened by choosing "none of the above." In FIFA's inspections report, North America's bid, which includes Canada and Mexico as minority partners, scored 402 out of 500, while Morocco was marked 275 in part due to a lack of infrastructure. "Hopefully FIFA can stand up and step in and say, 'If we're going to reward you, let's look at everything and point out where you can fix certain things,'" Solo said. Her call for greater transparency from the USSF came after speaking at the London launch conference for the Foundation for Sports Integrity, which has one named official who would not disclose the source of funding for the group or who paid to hire lavish facilities at a Four Seasons hotel. "I want to put my faith and trust in people," Solo said. "Who's funding it? That's no different from the way a lot of organizations are run.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018

It s all true: Sharapova hits back at Serena book 100 percent hearsay claim

Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts during her women's singles quarter-final match against Spain's Garbine Muguruza, on day eleven of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Djokovic s next French Open foe was cleared of match-fixing

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — In his record 12th French Open quarterfinal, Novak Djokovic will face a man he knows well, even if the rest of the world does not. What a tale Marco Cecchinato (it's pronounced Cheh-key-NAH'-toe) can tell, though. He is a 25-year-old from Sicily who once was handed a match-fixing suspension that later was thrown out on appeal. His tour-level career record was 4-23 before this season. His Grand Slam record was 0-4 before last week. Yet here he is, earning the right to face Djokovic for a spot in the semifinals at Roland Garros by eliminating the No. 8-seeded David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 on Sunday. How surprising is this run? Cecchinato's ranking of No. 72 is the lowest in a decade for a man in the final eight at the French Open. Asked whether he could have envisioned, even as recently as April, that he would get this far at a major tournament, Cecchinato answered with one word, "No," before breaking into as wide a smile as can be. "For me," he continued, "this is the best moment of my life." Cecchinato and Djokovic, who meet Tuesday, have crossed paths often in Monte Carlo. Djokovic, a 12-time major champion, lives there; Cecchinato has worked on his game at an academy there. "I have known of him for many years," Djokovic said after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 30 Fernando Verdasco. "I know now his game and I practiced with him. I watched him play. For sure, he's playing the tennis of his life." Yes, Djokovic was thrilled to get back to a ninth consecutive quarterfinal in Paris after dealing with elbow trouble for more than a year and needing surgery in February. And in other men's action Sunday, No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev was relieved to win a third consecutive five-setter — after trailing 2-1 in sets each time — to get to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, where he will face No. 8 Dominic Thiem. But one of these is not like the others. At all. In July 2016, Cecchinato was one of three Italian players initially suspended by their national tennis federation for allegedly influencing the outcome of matches. He was banned for 18 months and fined 40,000 euros (about $45,000), accused of losing on purpose during a lower-tier Challenger event at Morocco in 2015. Cecchinato appealed, and the Italian Olympic Committee announced in December 2016 that the sanctions were dropped entirely. Asked Sunday whether he wanted to explain what happened, Cecchinato replied in Italian: "Right now, I want to enjoy this moment. That year was a tough time. I want to think about the present. Maybe we can talk about it after the tournament. Now I want to enjoy the fantastic moment that I am living. And I think that's good enough." Fact is, his French Open probably should have ended in the first round. Cecchinato dropped the opening two sets that day against someone named Marius Copil, a Romanian ranked 94th, and then was two points from losing, right then and there. But Cecchinato came all the way back, winning 10-8 in the fifth set. And so the journey began. Next came a straight-set win over 190th-ranked Marco Trungelliti. The "lucky loser" made the 10-hour, 650-mile drive with his 88-year-old grandmother, mother and younger brother from his home in Barcelona to Paris once he realized there was a spot in the field available because someone else withdrew. That was followed by a four-set upset of 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta, and then the surprising win over Goffin. "When he made me run, he was actually dictating the rallies," said Goffin, whose right elbow was looked at by a trainer during the match, "so it was hard for me to have the upper hand." Cecchinato certainly appeared to be appreciating every moment of his time on Court Suzanne Lenglen. He chatted with himself during changeovers — "I like to talk," he said later — and dropping down onto the red clay after one last backhand winner on match point. And what a beautiful, one-handed backhand that is. A reporter wanted to know whether he thinks that shot of his is more like Gustavo Kuerten's or Stan Wawrinka's, a pair of past French Open champions. "Honestly," came the reply, "I want to be like Cecchinato.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Rain helps Campbell top her first Ironman 70.3 race in PH

SUBIC --- The rain poured and it was just what Australian triathlete Brittany Campbell needed to fight off the unbearable heat and push through her first Ironman 70. 3 race in the Philippines. And it doesn't seem like it's going to be Campbell's last here after having a triumphant first try. "The rain was really nice. It definitely cooled things down," Campbell told INQUIRER.net shortly after crossing the finish line at Remy Field here. "It was a really tough course, beautiful and really solid." "The heat was definitely the biggest challenge. It really got hot towards the end of the ride." Campbell became the first female finisher after topping the 25-29 age group women in five...Keep on reading: Rain helps Campbell top her first Ironman 70.3 race in PH.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 3rd, 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

Miciano, Galas, San Diego hang tough

Standings after seven rounds: Open 6 points -- Y. Xu (China) 5 -- J. Miciano (Philippines), Y. Wang (China), M. Ali (Indonesia), J. Sai Agni (Indonesia), Y. Taher (Indonesia), C. Wang (China). 4.5 -- P. Bersamina (Philippines), Q. Yuan (China), A. Hafiz (Indonesia). Women 6 -- J. Wang (China) 5….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsMay 31st, 2018

Serena Williams launches fashion collection of her own

NEW YORK --- Serena Williams has launched a fashion collection soon after participating in her first major tennis tournament in 16 months, dressed in a black "warrior princess" catsuit, no less. But don't look for her French Open outfit among the athleisure, office and evening clothes on her new namesake website, the only place her duds are available. Following collaborations with HSN and Nike, Williams' "Serena" line includes an "S'' motif and comfortable price points. The letter adorns bralettes and high briefs, along with a T-shirt with the name of her childhood home, Compton. She says she hopes to inspire women to own their own "s'' words, like strong, sexy, soph...Keep on reading: Serena Williams launches fashion collection of her own.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 31st, 2018

Questions and comebacks in the French Open 2018 women s singles

PARIS, France – Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are making their returns to Grand Slam tennis at the French Open, while world number one Simona Halep is bidding to finally win her first major title.  Here are 5 things to watch out for in the women's singles at Roland ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 26th, 2018

PNG: Nakano, Pamintuan highlight Tuesday s medal haul

Filipino-Japanese judoka twins made their presence felt while a young swimmer from Laguna continued to assert her dominance at the 9th Philippine National Games (PNG) Tuesday at the Cebu City Sports Complex. Shugen and Kensei Nakano clobbered their respective foes in impressive fashion to boost their preparation for the 18th Asian Games in this prestigious multi-sport tourney organized by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). Representing Pasay City, the 22-year old Shugen crushed Al-Rolan Llamas by way of ippon to capture the gold medal in the men’s -66kg class of this battle that also serves as qualifying tourney for aspiring members of the national team. Minutes later, his twin brother – Kensei – emerged victorious as he downed Czar Augustus Bayas of Taguig City via ippon in the finals of the men’s 73kg class held at the University of San Carlos north campus. Their exploits caught the attention of Philippine Judo Federation (PJF) Dave Carter, who believes that the Nakano brothers have what it takes to regain their slots in the national squad after clinching the bronze medal in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur last year. “We were impressed because all of their victories from the eliminations up to the finals were via ippon,” said Carter, whose federation clinched a pair of gold medals in the previous biennial meet courtesy of Kiyomi Watanabe in the women’s -63kg and Mariya Takahashi in the women’s -70kg class. “We are closely monitoring the matches because this tournament will give us an idea on who we will recommend for the Asian Games this August.”  Also making their mark in judo were Alvin Mendoza of Zamboanga City, who dominated Sean Levyn Panganiban of Valenzuela City in the men’s -55kg class while national team member Bryan Quillotes of Manila proved that he’s still the best in the men’s -60kg class after outmuscling teammate Adrian Perillo. In the distaff side, Jeanalene Lopez of Pasay City prevailed over Mylene Pinkihan in the -44kg; Jazlen Awitan of Baguio City plucked the gold medal after frustrating Sharia Dean Battala of Quezon City in the -48kg category; national team mainstay Helen Dawa reigned supreme over Honey Lorraine Dabucol of Davao City in the -52kg category; and Rena Furukawa of the national team dominated Jenielou Mosqueda of Davao City in the -57kg class. However, the day still belonged to Nicole Meah Pamintuan of Sta. Rosa City. After taking the first two days of this tourney by storm, the 18-year old student from De La Salle-Zobel reasserted her mastery as she clinched the gold medal in the girls’ 100-meter backstroke to add to her ever-growing medal collection. She registered an impressive one minute and 9.81 seconds while Andrea Punay of Gen. Santos City and Miles Valdez of Iligan City tallied 1:21.70 and 1:23.68 to settle for the silver and bronze medals, respectively. “I hope my performance would help me make it to the Asian Games and the SEA Games next year,” said Pamintuan, a bronze medalist in the previous SEA Games, said. In track and field, national team members Harry Diones, Rhea Joy Sumalpong and Rosie Villarito scored impressive wins to build momentum before competing in the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association  National Open in Ilagan City next month. Diones registered 15.94 meters to clinch the gold medal in the senior men’s triple jump while Sumalpong tallied 40.65 meters to emerge victorious in the senior women’s discuss throw event. Villarito, the grizzled SEA Games campaigner, emerged with 45.98 meters to clinch the mint over Narcisa Atienza in the senior women’s javelin throw. As of 2:30 pm, Tuesday, Cebu City remains on top of the medal tally with seven gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals while Gen. Santos City is not far behind with six gold, five silver and seven bronze medals at the midway mark of this week-long tourney......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Helio, Danica move on; Hinchcliffe is bumped from Indy 500

By Michael Marot, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — IndyCar's marquee names turned a day of qualifying for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" into a throwback, nail-biting, bumping affair. Helio Castroneves, seeking a redemptive record-tying fourth victory, was fastest around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Danica Patrick was fast, too, and she averaged 227.610 mph to snag the ninth and final spot in the next round of qualifying, the Fast Nine. But this was a full field for the first time in years, and it meant two drivers weren't making next Sunday's show. Never did the renewed bumping expect to be a threat to James Hinchcliffe, one of IndyCar's top drivers, a popular Canadian, and a celebrity from his stint as runner-up on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" show. Add in this is the final Indy 500 on ABC, ending a partnership that started in 1965 and is second in sports only to CBS and the Masters. The network has been a strong partner for tiny IndyCar, and it helped turn Hinchcliffe and Castroneves into crossover stars. And no one expected trouble for Pippa Mann, a perennial presence in the Indy 500. The British driver spends her entire year working to raise the money to run the Indy 500. Yet after a day of bumping, it was Hinchcliffe and Mann who were surprisingly sidelined. "It was devastating in every way possible," said Hinchcliffe, who is fifth in the IndyCar standings and a full-time series racer for an anchor team. "We came here with big expectations and high hopes. We didn't have Fast Nine speed but we didn't think we'd miss the race. "It's Indy and we finally have bumping again and everyone was thrilled about it. Well, I'm a lot less thrilled about it." Hinchcliffe nearly lost his life at Indy in a 2015 crash in which he was pierced in an artery and would have bled to death if not for IndyCar's standard-setting medical staff. He missed the race that year, but otherwise is a staple of the series. Mann is a one-off. Without her in the field, the Indy 500 will have just one woman, Patrick, at the time her return to American open wheel's crown jewel event is being celebrated. Patrick is retiring after this Indy 500, her first since 2011 because of a brief and unsuccessful move to NASCAR. Back for the second leg of a farewell in "The Danica Double" she's bookended Indy with the Daytona 500 on a two-race goodbye tour. There's a chance IndyCar could intervene. The standard is 33 cars, but the Indy 500 is the only race that matters to the IndyCar elite and it had a 35 car field in 1997. So the hand-wringing could be real as purists wonder if Tony George, head of the family that owns all things-Indy, can force an exception to get Hinchcliffe and Mann in the field. "Should they just start everyone? To me, I'm definitely a traditionalist," said Ed Carpenter, son of George and the owner of Patrick's car. "As tough as it is to watch a guy like Hinch, who has had great moments here, really tough moments, I feel for him, I feel for Pippa. We've all worked very hard to be here. I really feel for them. "At the same time, Indianapolis, that's part of the lure of what makes this race so special and important to all of us. Growing up around this event, seeing years where Team Penske struggled and missed the race, Bobby Rahal missed the race one year, it's happened to great teams." What happens with Hinchcliffe and Mann next is anyone's guess. Hinchcliffe has the sponsorship that could likely buy someone's seat. Mann needs a miracle in the field being expanded. Hinchcliffe understood options were being explored, but wasn't asking for favors. "Nobody screwed us. The system didn't fail us. We failed us," Hinchcliffe said. "We just have to do better. I know this team is capable of better. We are better than this, I know that. Everybody in the garage knows that. We deserve to be in this race. Just not this year." Meanwhile Patrick would have been content qualifying with something in the middle of the pack. Instead, her four-lap average around the track earned her a slot among the nine drivers who will shoot it out Sunday for the pole. Her Chevrolet from Carpenter is fast, and Carpenter was second only to Castroneves. She's now guaranteed a starting spot in the first three rows of her final Indy 500. "I have high expectations for doing well here," said Patrick, the only woman to lead laps in the Indy 500 and Daytona 500. "But to think that I was going to come back and be in the Fast Nine right off the bat, I mean, I'm going to tell you ... I definitely am relieved." It was jubilation for Castroneves, who posted the best four-lap average of 228.919 mph to make a statement in the Penske Racing "Yellow Submarine." Castroneves is a wildly popular Brazilian seeking a record-tying fourth victory. He's been sidelined to sports cars this season by Penske, but he's back home again in a car as bright and familiar at Indy as Castroneves' yellow suit from his winning stint on "Dancing With The Stars." He's a threat to win the pole, and maybe even the race. Over the last 17 years, he has turned Indy's tricky 2.5-mile oval into his personal proving ground. In addition to the three wins, he's won four poles and had three runner-up finishes with Roger Penske's powerhouse team. All 33 spots for the May 27 race will be set Sunday. All three of Castroneves' teammates — 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud, 2014 series champ Will Power and defending series champ Josef Newgarden — made the final nine. Pagenaud was third at 228.304, Power was fourth at 228.194 and Newgarden was seventh at 228.049. Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais are the only Honda drivers in the shootout. Bourdais, who drives for Dale Coyne Racing, was fifth at 228.090. Dixon, of New Zealand and the star for Chip Ganassi, was eighth at 227.782......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

World champion banners tough Xterra Legazpi cast

World champion Bradley Weiss of South Africa will pursue a third Philippine title while the women's division, sans its defending champion, will be a wide-open contest as the premier off-road t.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018