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Darvish wants to prove himself in final year of Texas deal

STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer br /> DALLAS (AP) — Yu Darvish marked his five-year anniversary as a Texas Ranger this week. Now healthy again, he wants to prove how good a pitcher he is. 'It's not much about my contract, but coming back from Tommy John surgery,' Darvish said through his interpreter at the Rangers' winter banquet Friday night. 'This will be my second year to see how my body reacts and how much I can do to prove how good of a pitcher I am. That's what I'm looking forward to.' Darvish is entering the sixth and final year of the contract he signed with the Rangers in January 2012 after seven seasons in Japan. While the 30-year-old Darvish is 46-32 with a 3.29 ERA in 100 career starts for Texas, he missed all of the 2015 season because of the surgery and didn't pitch for the Rangers last season until May 28. Darvish was 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings during the regular season. But in his first AL Division Series start last October, he gave up a career-worst four homers. Three of them were in the same inning of a 5-3 loss to Toronto in Game 2 of the best-of-five series that the Blue Jays swept. 'I would love to pitch in that kind of situation again this year,' Darvish said. 'And I would like to pitch very well.' Darvish said he just started throwing again and feels 'really good.' Texas spent more than two years scouting Darvish and getting to know him personally before committing more than $107 million to get him. On top of his guaranteed $56 million contract, the Rangers had to pay in the old system a massive $51,703,411 posting bid to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, his team in Japan. The 2017 season could have become a player option without a buyout had Darvish won the Cy Young and finished second-through-fourth another time, or finished second in the voting once and second-through-fourth two other times. Darvish finished second behind Max Scherzer in the 2013 AL Cy Young voting, when the Rangers right-hander was 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA and a league-high 277 strikeouts. He was an All-Star each of his first three seasons (2012-14), a span in which he had 680 strikeouts before getting shut down late in the 2014 season because of elbow inflammation. 'I am really grateful to the Texas Rangers organization by just giving me this big of a contract. They've been taking care of me really well,' he said. 'So I just want to show the Rangers how much I can do and then show them that they were right giving me that contract.' Darvish said he considered it too much of a risk just two years after surgery to compete in the World Baseball Classic this spring. Then, he smiled and said, 'At the end, let me tell you that I didn't get offered' a spot. NOTES: The Rangers announced they will retire uniform No. 7 during an August ceremony to honor former catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week and will be inducted with the class of 2017 on July 30 in Cooperstown, New York. The only other Rangers to have their numbers retired by the club are Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan (No. 34) and former manager Johnny Oates (No. 26). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Venus focused on tennis, not age, in record 73rd Grand Slam

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — One could never accuse Venus Williams of being sensitive about her age. Not the way she keeps making self-deprecating jokes about it at the Australian Open. Case in point: Asked about the Australian great Margaret Court after her third-round win over China's Duan Yingying at Margaret Court Arena on Friday, Williams said she had a letter from the 24-time major winner hung on the wall in her room as a memento. 'It's a congratulations for me being the oldest person in the draw or something like that,' she dead-panned. The 36-year-old Williams fields more than her fair share of questions about her advanced age in the sport, how often she considers retirement, what keeps her motivated after more than two decades on the court. Indeed, she is appearing in her 73rd Grand Slam singles draw — a record for the Open era. And she is the oldest woman in the draw at Melbourne Park, though it should be noted that male players her age, such as Ivo Karlovic and Roger Federer, aren't continuously peppered with the same questions. But rather than show her annoyance, Williams smiles and patiently responds each time, sometimes with a joke. And she's made clear with her play this week that she's still a serious contender — she's reached the fourth round at the Australian Open for the 10th time in her career, and without dropping a set. Against Duan, a player who admitted she'd never seen the seven-time Grand Slam winner play, the 13th-seeded Williams only lost one game. 'Just like every player here, I have put in a ton of work,' Williams said earlier in the week. 'I'm not coming all the way to Australia for kicks and giggles. I'm here as a competitor.' Williams made clear Friday she doesn't want to get dragged into controversies, either. She declined to comment on a remark by a TV commentator during her second-round match when he described her as moving in and charging with what sounded like a 'gorilla' or 'guerrilla' effect. The commentator, Doug Adler, who maintains he said 'guerrilla' — as in, her choice of tactics — but apologized for his poor word choice, was dropped from ESPN's coverage for the rest of the tournament. 'All I can say is it's been a wonderful, wonderful career for me full of positives. That's what I focus on,' said Williams, who hasn't shied away from addressing issues ranging from racism to gender pay equity throughout her career. 'I pay attention and address situations that are noteworthy,' she added, when pressed on the subject. 'That's been my past record, clearly.' What Williams wants to talk about is her tennis. Especially as she continues to win at Melbourne Park, where she's reached the final just once in her career. Her next opponent is another player many years her junior, 26-year-old Mona Barthel, a No. 181-ranked qualifier from Germany. 'It's never enough,' Williams said. 'I've been in the fourth round before. I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Silence, mourning since fatal crash turn to hope at Chapeco

MAURICIO SAVARESE, AP Sports Writer   CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) — Silence and mourning are slowly being replaced by boisterous fans and hope. As the Chapecoense club rebuilds after the air crash that killed 19 players and nearly all members of the staff and board of directors, so is the town of 200,000. Like many in Brazil, football is the oxygen for everything: gossip, community pride and heated debate. On Saturday, Chapecoense's 20,000-capacity Arena Conda will host the team's first match since the tragedy almost two months ago. Lines outside are filled with fans excited about the club's and the city's restart. Fifty coffins lined the same field in November, where this time Chape's reconstructed team will play Brazilian champion Palmeiras in a friendly match. 'I bet I won't be able to sleep Friday night,' 19-year-old fan Marcelo Ribeiro said as he walked to the stadium. 'Since the accident the city is dead. The festivities were mostly canceled at the end of the year, and all most people are thinking about is the rebirth. I want to see what the rebirth looks like.' At the Hotel Bertaso, where most of Chape's players and coaching staff have traditionally lodged, the first signs of that rebirth are obvious. The second floor, which was home to many of the victims, including coach Caio Junior, is once again full. 'I can't help feeling a lot of hope for the future now,' said receptionist Gelson Mangone, who lost several friends in that crash on an Andean mountain side near Medellin, Colombia, on Nov.28. 'It has been a lot of work to settle all these new signings here, they are also learning their way here,' the receptionist said. 'But it does feel like a brand new start.' New coach Vagner Mancini is one of the hotel's new residents. He said the job makes him 'a better human being, but it's the most challenging to face.' 'We have to build a team, a coaching staff and a club infrastructure in a season in which Chape will be in demand,' Mancini told The Associated Press. 'I understand now that the city was so affected because the club and the city are run like a family,' he added. 'The players we brought are cut from that cloth, but we have to reach a higher level now.' After the crash, Colombian club Atletico Nacional, which was to face Chape in the Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin, awarded the victory to the small Brazilian team. That means that Chape qualified for South America's No. 1 tournament for the first time, the competitive Copa Libertadores. The team will also try to defend its title in the Santa Catarina state championship, try to stay up in Brazil's top-flight competition, and play in a pile of fundraisers, including one against Barcelona. 'We have to assemble a competitive team at the same time we need to hire someone to handle passports, contracts,' Mancini said. 'The club used to handle this well, but like a family run business. Now we are at a different moment.' Chapecoense had almost nothing left after the crash: six players that did not travel on the ill-fated flight, two physiotherapists, one goalkeeping coach, one doctor, one data analyst, one nurse and a few club officials. New chairman and club co-founder Plinio David de Nes Filho, a wealthy local businessman known as Maninho, is leading the charge to bolster club finances. Former players like Nivaldo Constante, who played as a goalkeeper until the tragedy struck, are approaching players that can help. And Chapeco Mayor Luciano Buligon is working as a kind of ambassador for the club and the city. 'Our weekends were about three things: family, church and Chapecoense,' Buligon said. 'It has been hard to get the city back on track because the wounds are still very open. But we are slowly moving on. On Saturday we will start getting a part of our weekends back.' Not everyone is happy. Rosangela Loureiro, widow of crash victim Cleber Santana, said she is upset because his belongings still have not been returned to the family. 'I feel sadness and rage. No one is doing anything to bring their belongings back. I plead with them to soften our pain and make us get the memories that we will hold dear for the rest of our lives,' she said on Instagram last week. Other widows have complained about damages not yet being paid by the club. Chapecoense directors say they are doing the best they can as they try to rebuild. There are even complaints at the joyous Hotel Bertaso. 'These new players love to make a mess in their rooms,' said a cleaner, who declined to offer her name. 'The other ones were older, more mature and the new ones seem to be more infantile. I hope they are up for the task. The city really needs that now.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Pochettino, Guardiola confounding expectations in EPL

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — In one dugout at Etihad Stadium on Saturday will be a manager enjoying a six-match winning streak with his second-place team. In the other, a manager reeling from the biggest loss of his career and down in fifth place. Few at the start of the English Premier League would have predicted it would be Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino with the edge over struggling Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola. But the top of the standings is confounding expectations in the second half of the season. City hosts Tottenham with Guardiola's side trailing the second-place London club by three points and leader Chelsea by 10 points. Having already ruled City out of the title race, Guardiola is now in a scrap just to secure Champions League qualification by finishing in the top four as he endures a difficult first season in English soccer. It was against Tottenham in early October when Guardiola experienced his first setback at City, with Pochettino ending the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach's winning league start. Last weekend, he was humbled by a 4-0 loss at Everton, a career low for the Champions League-winning coach. Has Guardiola lost the Midas touch? 'The coach has to adapt with the players, the players have to adapt with the coach,' Eric Abidal, who played under Guardiola at Barcelona, told The Associated Press on Thursday. 'Tactically, and the methodology of Pep Guardiola is methodology from Barcelona ... he needs time. They will win trophies. 'I spoke with some players from (City), tactically they learn a lot,' Adibal added at a Barcelona event on Thursday in Singapore. 'But when you have a good coach and good players, a lot of teams want to beat you. So it's not easy, every weekend, and we know the intensity of English football.' City racked up six successive wins in the league before losing 2-0 at Tottenham on Oct. 2. Since then City has dropped 18 points, winning seven of its 14 games as the shortcomings of the brittle defense and shaky goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has been exposed. City's attacking options have been reinforced with Gabriel Jesus completing his move from Palmeiras in time to feature against Tottenham. 'Gabriel is a technically gifted player who was chased by some of Europe's biggest clubs and we are delighted he decided to join City,' director of football Txiki Begiristain said. 'He has the potential to become one of the best attacking players in the game.' And for the 19-year-old Jesus, Guardiola played a big part in deciding his next destination. 'He was the only manager who called me so I was very pleased,' Jesus said. 'One thing I've noticed is that, like me, he is mad about football. He lives football 24 hours a day. I'm like that, too. 'When I'm not playing, I'm watching, or playing a video game, doing something linked to football. This is very important, that I'm the same as him, and I hope to learn.' Tottenham could move six points clear of City by completing the double over Guardiola's side. And for Pochettino it's not just about securing a second successive season in the Champions League but delivering the north London club's first domestic title since 1961. 'We have to try to show that we can be real contenders for the Premier League, that's the real challenge,' Pochettino said. 'It's more important that we can show ourselves, rather than show Manchester City. 'We need to show ourselves we are capable of dealing with that pressure, and to try to win games to achieve big things.' Tottenham has received more positive news on defender Jan Vertonghen's ankle injury. After initial fears the center back could be out for three months, Tottenham now expects him back in six weeks. Here are some other talking points around the Premier League: ___ PAYET PREDICAMENT West Ham travels to Southampton on Saturday with the fate of star player Dimitri Payet still uncertain after the France midfielder told the club more than a week ago he wants to leave to rejoin Marseille. Payet would not play against Crystal Palace last weekend, according to manager Slaven Bilic. 'Is his departure inevitable? I don't know,' Bilic said. 'We are not going to sell our best players on the cheap just because someone wants to sign them or even because they want to go home. 'I left it with the chairman and I'm sure he's going to do the best thing. The ball is in Marseille's court. They are the ones who expressed interest. Now they should act ... like everybody, he has his price.' AT THE BOTTOM Two of the teams in the relegation zone have tricky trips to top-four opposition. Paul Clement takes Swansea to third-place Liverpool on Saturday for a daunting second league game in charge of the bottom-place team. 'It does not look hopeless,' the former Bayern Munich assistant coach said. 'We are one point behind the team outside the relegation zone and not far behind the teams just above that as well.' Sunderland, which is above Swansea on goal difference, is at West Bromwich Albion. Hull is a point further up the standings going into Sunday's game at leader Chelsea. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

6-time champs Djokovic, Williams post Australian Open wins

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The record will show that six-time Australian Open champions Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic each had straight-set wins. It may seem straight-forward, but it was not routine. Newly-engaged Williams, aiming for an Open-era record 23rd major title, and Djokovic, bidding to become the first man to win seven Australian titles, confronted former top-10 players in the first round at Melbourne Park. And so there was no chance for the No. 2-ranked players, in the recently unaccustomed position at the foot of the draw, to feel their way into the season's first major. Djokovic faced Fernando Verdasco, who beat Rafael Nadal in the first round last year and who had five match points in their last head-to-head encounter — only 10 days earlier. Djokovic held off the Spanish lefthander in a 71-minute, momentum-swinging second set before winning 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2 on Tuesday. The first and third sets were great, he said, but the second was 'a gamble.' 'I'm very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form,' Djokovic said. 'He's a quality player. He's a big match, big-time player.' The 33-year-old Verdasco peaked at No. 7 in the rankings in 2009, not long after he pushed eventual champion Nadal in five sets in one of the best and latest-finishing semifinals ever at the Australian Open. 'From one perspective it was good that I got to have the very tough first-round match, because it made me prepare better and kind of approach the tournament with the right intensity, right from the first point,' Djokovic said. Williams, on the comeback after a stint on the sidelines following a U.S. Open semifinal loss, took a 5-0 lead in the second set against Belinda Bencic. But Bencic has been ranked in the top 10, and was seeded 12th in Melbourne last year. She applied pressure on Williams, who made mistakes on key points — including a double-fault to give Bencic a break point, and another on her first match point — before recovering to win 6-4, 6-3. Williams became engaged to Alexis Ohanian during the holiday break, and the Reddit co-founder was in the crowd at Rod Laver Arena. She has been asked repeatedly about her wedding plans since arriving in Australia, but only gave a time frame for that discussion after her opening match. 'February I'll start looking at the bigger picture of my life,' she said. 'Right now, I'm just so focused that this is kind of all I can think about.' Williams made a big statement, though, by walking into her news conference wearing a shirt with the word 'Equality' emblazoned across the front. It was still before midnight Monday in the United States, where the holiday in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was nearly ending. 'It's important to spread the message,' she said. Asked if she was concerned about the future of equality in the United States, Williams declined to comment apart from saying it was 'a concern for just everyone in general.' After improving her record in the first round of majors to 65-1, Williams will play Lucie Safarova, who saved nine match points before beating Yanina Wickmayer 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1. Nadal, also returning from a couple of months on the sidelines following the U.S. Open with an injured left wrist, has already improved on 2016. 'I'm happy to do an interview with you — last year, I didn't have the chance!' Nadal said in his on-court interview after a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Florian Mayer. As usual at Melbourne Park, the heat was a factor. The thermostat reached almost 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) on a day when Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic beat Dustin Brown and No. 11 David Goffin beat 19-year-old qualifier Reilly Opelka 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Ivo Karlovic was thankful that it was cooler at night, when the 37-year-old Croat fired 75 aces and held off Horacio Zeballos 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in a match that set a record for most number of games (84) at the Australian Open in the tiebreak era. No. 6 Gael Monfils, No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 18 Richard Gasquet were among the other seeded players to advance. Heather Watson beat No. 18 Sam Stosur, extending the 2011 U.S. Open champion's drought on home soil. U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, 2016 Australian Open semifinalist Johanna Konta, No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova, former top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, No. 14 Elena Vesnina, No. 21 Caroline Garcia and No. 28 Alize Cornet all advanced before third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska finished off her 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 win over Tsvetana Pironkova just before midnight. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Patriots face different Steelers team with healthy Big Ben

KYLE HIGHTOWER, AP Sports Writer br /> FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (AP) — The New England Patriots got a break by not having to face Ben Roethlisberger during their regular-season win over the Steelers in October. The Patriots' coaching staff is expecting to get his best this time around with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake. The 27-16 home loss to New England was the only game the Steelers' 34-year-old quarterback missed due to injury this season. He was away less than a month after undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee Oct. 17. He was also among several Pittsburgh players that sat out the regular-season finale against the Browns to rest. Backup quarterback Landry Jones was serviceable in just his third career start in Roethlisberger's absence. The Steelers outgained the Patriots 375-362, but were 1 for 4 in the red zone and Jones finished with only one touchdown and an interception. Pittsburgh is expecting, and will need a stronger performance from the quarterback position this time around. Coach Bill Belichick said Monday that Big Ben's return makes the Steelers' primary offensive options — running back Le'Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown — only that much harder to contend with. Bell rushed for 81 yards in the first meeting and Brown had seven catches for 106 yards. 'They're a tremendous offense. Kansas City was able to make some plays in the red area, but I mean (the Steelers) could've easily been up in the 40s,' Belichick said. 'They do a lot of things well; can run it, can throw it. Brown's the main guy, but all of the receivers, tight ends, backs, I mean they're all a problem.' The Chiefs may have planted the seed for how to keep Roethlisberger out of the end zone, however. The Steelers were held without a touchdown in Sunday's 18-16 divisional-round win over Kansas City. They also ranked 12th in the NFL during the regular season in red zone efficiency, scoring a touchdown on 59 percent of the trips inside the 20-yard line. They were 0 for 5 in their trips against Kansas City. Roethlisberger had 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions in the red zone in 14 regular-season games. But so far in the playoffs, Big Ben has just two total passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Still, the Steelers coaching staff's trust in him to throw the deep ball is something that will be a point of emphasis this week, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said. In particular he said Roethlisberger's calm in the pocket and his offensive line's ability to protect him helps him buy time to improvise. 'If those plays can get extended or prolonged, that's when it becomes really difficult,' Patricia said. 'I think Roethlisberger right now (is) very mobile, very healthy, a guy that showed even again (Sunday night) that just a slight bit of movement or a slight bit of ability to maybe evade the rush, or stand in there just a little bit longer gives his guys enough time to get open in those situations.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Storm stays calm to lead McIlroy by 3 shots at SA Open

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Graeme Storm will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the SA Open as he bids for his first European Tour title in 10 years. The Englishman turned in a third-round 67, the same as Rory McIlroy, who moved into second to set up an intriguing fight on Sunday. 'I'd like to be a few shots better or at least a few shots closer to the lead,' McIlroy said. 'But hopefully, I can get off to a good start tomorrow and put a bit of pressure on Graeme and make it interesting.' Storm had five birdies on Saturday and extended his bogey-free run to 41 holes to leave him at 17-under 199 and on the verge of a second European Tour title after winning the Open de France in 2007. 'I have never played with Rory before and I know him really well so it will be a lot of fun,' Storm said. 'If he hits a good shot and pips me or beats me comfortably, or whoever makes a move from behind, I can't really control that. All I can do is control my golf ball. 'If I can shoot another score in the 60s I'll be pleased even if I don't win. I have come here as a big underdog so that is fine with me.' It would complete an amazing turnaround for Storm, who thought he lost his playing privileges by just 100 euros in October but was then handed a reprieve after Patrick Reed opted not to play the Final Series. 'I find myself now in a position that I have only been in a couple of times over the past few years,' Storm said. 'Things have been difficult and last year was a tough year but it has given me a new lease of life and I hope to continue playing well. 'I thought I had lost my card and all of the privileges that come from playing on the European Tour, and when that happens you realize that you can't afford to lose it.' McIlroy twice caught Storm at the top of the leaderboard with the help of a stunning eagle from 157 yards on the par-4 seventh and a hat trick of birdies on the back nine. But the second-ranked McIlroy, who almost pulled out of the tournament on Friday with a back complaint, bogeyed the 18th as Storm put in a consistent performance to extend his second-round lead by one shot. 'The back was a little tender this morning — I didn't really get much sleep last night,' McIlroy said. 'I couldn't get comfortable and I had to wake up in the middle of the night to take a couple of painkillers, but the physios did a good job on me this morning and strapped me up pretty well, and then gave me a couple of anti-inflammatories, which helped. 'It was a bit uncomfortable for the first five or six holes but then I took another couple of anti-inflammatories in the middle of the round and it actually felt pretty good on the back nine so hopefully it will continue to feel that way.' Storm has led a tournament three times after 54 holes on the European Tour, but hasn't converted any of those leads into victories. Jordan Smith (68) looked set to challenge Storm after four birdies and an eagle but bogeyed the final two holes to leave him four shots behind his compatriot, level with home favorite Jbe Kruger (69). Italy's Edoardo Molinari equaled the course record with a 63 — as Storm had done Friday — to surge more than 30 places up the leaderboard into a tie for fifth. Molinari is at 12 under, alongside South African duo Dean Burmester (67) and Jaco Van Zyl (68), French pair Romain Langasque (68) and Joel Stalter (65), and American Peter Uihlein (70). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Match-fixing back in spotlight on eve of first Grand Slam

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press   For Rafael Nadal and the other stars of tennis, there's a familiar ring to the questions being raised as the first ball is about to be struck at the Australian Open. Recent match-fixing sanctions and a new case are bringing fresh scrutiny to the integrity of the sport a year after corruption allegations cast a pall over the first Grand Slam of the year. '(It's) obviously negative, always in the first month of the season starts to happen,' Nadal said at the season-opening Brisbane International. 'You get tired about this kind of stuff, but the most important thing is fight against these kinds of things.' The headlines started appearing early in the new year. On Jan. 5, police in Australia charged an 18-year-old player with a match-fixing offense at a lower-tier tournament last October in Traralgon, near Melbourne. Days later, another Australian player, Nick Lindahl, now retired but once ranked in the top 200, was handed a seven-year ban and $35,000 fine from the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) for offering to throw a match at a minor tournament in the city of Toowoomba in 2013. Lindahl had already been fined after a criminal trial. Two other Australian players received lesser punishments in connection with the incident. While Traralgon and Toowoomba are far removed from the glittering lights of Melbourne Park, the timing of the developments was troubling nonetheless. Last season began similarly beneath a cloud of suspicion after a report by BBC and Buzzfeed alleged that tennis authorities had suppressed evidence of match-fixing and failed to investigate possible cases of corruption. The reports went over old ground, but the timing and the headlines overshadowed the tournament. 'I haven't heard anything (about match-fixing) since last year's Australian Open,' German player Mischa Zverev told The Associated Press last week in Brisbane. 'I think it was funny timing. ... Like the day before the Oscars, they're going to bring something up to make somebody not win it, or win it.' Since then, tennis leaders have gone into overdrive to restore confidence in the sport. An independent panel was created to review the TIU, the internal body tasked with combating corruption, and authorities promised to implement all of its recommendations when it is completed this spring. The TIU also took separate steps to strengthen its monitoring and investigation efforts, develop new anti-corruption education programs for players, and improve the transparency of its operations. In an email statement to The AP, the agency said nine players and officials were sanctioned last year for match-fixing — the most for a single year since the unit was established in 2008. Several were banned for life, including a young South African player and four officials from Turkey and Uzbekistan. The unit also expanded its outreach efforts with betting operators and regulators, leading to increased reporting of suspicious wagers. In 2016, the TIU received 292 betting alerts — an 18 percent increase over the previous year. The vast majority of those came from the Challenger and Futures circuits on the men's tour, considered the most at-risk for match-fixing given the lower likelihood of detection and the smaller earnings of the players. However, the TIU said three alerts were generated at Grand Slam events, as well. The agency was quick to note, though, that an alert isn't necessarily proof of match-fixing. Of the more than 114,000 matches played last year on the professional tours, only 0.2 percent triggered a suspicious betting alert. 'Tennis was one of the first major sports to recognize the potential threat of betting-related corruption and do something about it,' the TIU said. 'It will be for the independent review panel to take a view on the conduct and effectiveness of the unit and to put forward recommendations to improve the current structure and approach.' Whatever the investigators recommend, the fact remains the TIU faces an uphill battle. Technology has shifted the gambling landscape in such a way, it's increasingly difficult for monitors to keep up. In tennis, wagers aren't just placed on who wins or loses; bets can be placed during matches in real time on everything from total points won in a game to whether a set goes to a tiebreak. 'We're talking individual player activities here,' said Hans Westerbeek, dean of the College of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. 'It's much easier to get into a situation where you approach individual players to do things that can be, if done well, quite well hidden from it being suspicious.' He likens it to the ongoing battle against performance-enhancing drugs. 'You're always struggling to keep up with the innovations that a better-resourced front of gambling operators, legal or illegal, will have available to advance their technology.' Ryan Rodenberg, an associate professor of forensic sports law analytics at Florida State University, says this is one reason a more sophisticated approach is critically needed. He recommends an internal monitoring system that analyzes each match for suspicious activity in real time, rather than relying solely on betting alerts. 'A robust betting data-monitoring operation would have both in-house capabilities and a number of collaborative information sharing agreements with third parties such as sportsbooks, private monitoring firms or academics,' he said. 'Anything less is sub-optimal.' With a limited budget of just $3.23 million for 2017, however, there is only so much the TIU can do. As such, preventative measures such as education have become a priority. More than 25,000 players and officials have completed the TIU's online anti-corruption training program, and a new version will be launched that players will be required to complete every two years. 'Educating players who are up-and-coming and those who support those players is a very good, positive and necessary thing to do,' Westerbeek says. 'Because the root of the problem is ... people not really (understanding) they're engaging in criminal activity.' ___ AP Sports Writer John Pye contributed to this report. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

October net FDI inflows smallest in four months

THE PHILIPPINES saw fewer foreign capital inflows in October that hit a four-month low, although the year-to-date tally remained poised to meet the government’s forecast for 2016, the central bank announced yesterday......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Sharapova to return from ban in April at Stuttgart event

MOSCOW (AP) — Maria Sharapova will return from her 15-month doping ban at a tournament in Germany in April. Car manufacturer Porsche, which sponsors both Sharapova and the event in Stuttgart, says Sharapova has been given a wild-card entry into the tournament. It will be her first official competition since she tested positive for meldonium at last year's Australian Open. Sharapova, who won the Stuttgart tournament from 2012-14, says 'I could not be happier to have my first match back on tour at one of my favorite tournaments.' Sharapova was originally banned for two years but that was reduced on appeal in October. She said she had used meldonium for years and was not aware it had been banned for 2016. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

US forward Carli Lloyd wins 2nd FIFA best player award

ZURICH (AP) — Carli Lloyd of the United States won her second FIFA's best woman player award, even if an Olympic gold medal eluded her. Lloyd seemed surprised to retain the prize she first won after an outstanding 2015 Women's World Cup on the title-winning U.S. side. Still, Melanie Behringer of the Germany team that won the Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro, placed third in the voting totals, and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd, who captained the U.S. team that exited in the Olympics quarterfinals, said in her acceptance speech. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics. (She and Marta are) both so deserving of this award,' the Houston Dash forward said. Lloyd tallied 20.68 percent of the voting points, Marta got 16.60 percent and Melanie Behringer, who retired from national team duty after the Olympics, got 12.34 percent. Behringer acknowledged she was 'disappointed' but declined to criticize the result. Lloyd said she was 'incredibly honored' to have won the support of her peers in a poll by national team captains and coaches, selected media and fans voting online. Germany did win the women's coaching awards as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize. She also won the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: Last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, was runner-up edging former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, who guided Sweden to the Olympic silver medal. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Higuain helps Juventus to record 26th straight home win

ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer   ROME (AP) — It's no coincidence that Juventus has won Serie A every season since the Juventus Stadium opened in September 2011. The Bianconeri have been virtually unbeatable in the Italian league's only major club-owned stadium and improved on their own Serie A record with a 26th consecutive home win Sunday. Gonzalo Higuain scored his fourth brace of the season as Juventus beat Bologna 3-0. Juventus held the previous record of 25 straight home wins, established at the stadium between 2013 and 2015. The current streak began against Bologna on Oct. 24, 2015, and Bologna never really had a chance to prevent the latest record. Higuain opened the scoring with a volley from a lobbed pass from Miralem Pjanic seven minutes in, Paulo Dybala added a penalty before the break and then Higuain headed in another early in the second half. Juventus, which still has a game in hand, restored its four-point lead over Roma, which beat Genoa 1-0 earlier. ___ ROMAN VICTORIES Roma finally found a way to win away from home — with an own goal. Armando Izzo redirected a cross from Bruno Peres into his own net in the first half as Roma won 1-0 at Genoa for its first victory away from the Stadio Olimpico since October. Roma has won all nine of its home matches, while its away record now reads four wins, two draws and four losses. 'It's a big win. This is a tough league and we've faced some difficult opponents,' Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi said. 'If we had won all of our away matches, too, we would be champions of Italy by now.' Roma's last win outside the capital had been a 3-1 victory over Sassuolo on Oct. 26 in Reggio Emilia. The Giallorossi also beat Lazio 2-0 in the Rome derby early last month when they were technically the visitors. Roma forward Edin Dzeko hit the post near the hour mark, the fourth time the Bosnia and Herzegovina striker has found the woodwork this season — more than any other player in the league. Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny preserved the win with a difficult save on a shot from beyond the area by Lucas Ocampos in stoppage time. 'For Genoa, I think in 38 matches they won't play one that's not physical. Because that's the type of football they play — very aggressive, man against man,' De Rossi said. 'We needed to put our work boots on and we did.' Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin tore his ACL early on and will miss the rest of the season. Lazio also won 1-0, over struggling Crotone with a last-minute goal from Ciro Immobile after Lucas Biglia hit the crossbar with a penalty in the first half. Lazio is fourth, one point behind third-placed Napoli, which beat Sampdoria 2-1 on Saturday. ___ MILAN CLUBS WIN Fresh off its Italian Super Cup win over Juventus, fifth-placed AC Milan needed a late goal to beat visiting Cagliari 1-0. Carlos Bacca scored from close range two minutes from the end after being set up by Gianluca Lapadula. Cagliari ended with 10 men when Bruno Alves was sent off for pulling down Bacca just outside the area to prevent a clear scoring opportunity in added time. Earlier, Ivan Perisic scored twice and seventh-placed Inter Milan came from a goal down to beat Udinese 2-1 and win its fourth straight game. Perisic equalized in first-half added time, slotting a shot inside the near post after receiving a pass from Mauro Icardi, then headed in from a free kick three minutes from the end. It was the first brace in Serie A for Perisic, a Croatia international who joined Inter from Wolfsburg in 2015. Jakub Jankto, a 20-year-old Czech midfielder, had put Udinese ahead early in the first half after being set up by French talent Seko Fofana. ___ OTHER MATCHES: Atalanta revived its chances of finishing in the Europa League spots with a convincing 4-1 win at Chievo Verona. Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez scored twice for Atalanta, with Andrea Conti and Remo Freuler also finding the target for the Bergamo club. Sergio Pellissier's goal for Chievo temporarily made it 3-1. Domenico Berardi returned from a long injury layoff for Sassuolo in a 0-0 draw with Torino. The Pescara-Fiorentina match was postponed due to too much snow and ice inside and around the Stadio Adriatico. ___ Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Hello, Cleveland: Indians welcome slugger Encarnacion

TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer br /> CLEVELAND (AP) — With his family watching proudly, Edwin Encarnacion stood in front of his new locker inside Cleveland's clubhouse, pulled on a fitted cap and slowly buttoned the front of his white No. 10 jersey. Once finished, he pointed to the 'Indians' logo on his chest and flashed a huge smile as cameras clicked. It felt seamless. 'He's a perfect fit for our team,' Indians president Chris Antonetti said Thursday. In so many ways. The Indians, accustomed to being outspent for high-priced free agents winter after winter, introduced Encarnacion, a premium player for the middle of their lineup who will boost attendance and maybe help them win the World Series. One of baseball's most productive hitters over the past five years, Encarnacion finalized a $60 million, three-year contract — the richest in Cleveland history — with a team that got to Game 7 of the Series last season. Encarnacion's deal would be worth $80 million over four years if the Indians exercise a $25 million option for 2020 that includes a $5 million buyout. There are also attendance bonuses built in as both the Indians and Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzer, recognized the three-time All-Star's ability to spin turnstiles. 'He's a quiet guy that just goes out and grinds every day,' Kinzer said. 'This is a blue-collar town and he's a blue-collar guy. Cleveland is going to love him.' Encarnacion averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs over the past five seasons with Toronto, which made it to the AL Championship Series last season only to be eliminated in five games by the Indians. Encarnacion, who turns 34 on Saturday, watched Cleveland's players celebrate at Rogers Centre that day in October not ever imagining he would be joining them a little more than two months later. But while he figured to land with Boston or Texas or in another major market, Cleveland's pitch was the most persistent. And although the first baseman and designated hitter could have made more money elsewhere, Encarnacion wanted to join a winner. The Indians, with one of the majors' best pitching staffs and a lineup featuring young stars in Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis, are positioned to contend for years. 'That's why I came here,' Encarnacion said. 'I believe in this team and I know we can win the World Series with the talent that we have.' The Indians' courtship of Encarnacion began with owner Paul Dolan's commitment to building on the momentum created by the team's AL Central title and first Series appearance since 1997. Cleveland was boosted by cleanup hitter Mike Napoli, who set career highs in homers and RBIs during his one season with the Indians. There were better options available and, after deciding not to re-sign Napoli, the Indians focused on Encarnacion, who hit 42 homers and drove in 127 runs last season. Antonetti didn't have to sell Dolan on Encarnacion's obvious talents. The challenge was convincing him that the slugger was worth a long-term financial obligation. 'It took a lot of work to make that happen, both compromises from our side and compromises from Edwin's side to make this fit and be the right fit for both teams,' Antonetti said. 'And it took a great leap of faith by ownership to make that extraordinary investment.' It also took some clever negotiating. As the sides were nearing a deal, Oakland made a $50 million, two-year offer that caused the Indians to counter. Kinzer proposed an attendance clause, a suggestion Antonetti initially wasn't sure was possible. 'That was a way to bridge the gap,' Kinzer said. 'When Edwin went on that run five years ago, Toronto was at 1.9 (million) in attendance. Now, they're at 3.4. Well, if Edwin contributes to that, then we should be rewarded for it.' Encarnacion gets a $5 million signing bonus, half payable on May 1 and the rest Aug. 1, and salaries of $13 million this year, $17 million in 2018 and $20 million in 2019. The Indians agreed and Encarnacion has already made an impact, as the team has sold more than $1 million in season tickets since he agreed to the deal on Dec. 22. He would earn bonuses of $150,000 each when the Indians reach 2 million, 2.15 million, 2.3 million, 2.5 million and 2.75 million in home attendance. He can make another $250,000 for 3 million. Once the deal's parameters were settled, Antonetti and Kinzer then had to maneuver around some family holiday obligations. As they neared an agreement, Kinzer was at Six Flags Amusement Park in Atlanta with his grandchildren to see Santa Claus, while Antonetti was attending a performance of 'The Little Mermaid' with his wife and two daughters. Antonetti ducked in and out of the theater's auditorium before closing the biggest deal in team history during a break between two songs from the musical. 'We were somewhere between 'Under the Sea' and 'Part of Your World,' he said with a smile. 'It was a great performance.' The Indians can take a bow for theirs, as well. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Wild-card Dolphins draw Steelers in 1st round of playoffs

STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer br /> MIAMI GARDENS, Florida (AP) — As the Miami Dolphins trudged to the locker room after a 35-14 thumping by New England, fans stood and cheered the home team, losers on Sunday but playoff-bound for the first time since 2008. The crowd was looking at the big picture and the Dolphins were, too. Miami (10-6) clinched an AFC wild-card berth a week ago and will play next weekend at Pittsburgh. 'All you want is the opportunity,' guard Jermon Bushrod said. 'You know where we want to go and we've got an opportunity.' Still to be determined is whether quarterback Ryan Tannehill might contribute to any playoff push. He missed the final three regular-season games with a sprained left knee and Matt Moore has gone 2-1 as a replacement. Coach Adam Gase was noncommittal about any timetable for Tannehill's return. 'I don't even know where he's at right now,' Gase said. 'I'm going to make the call on it. If I don't feel comfortable with it, then Matt will stay the starting quarterback. I need to get a lot of information. I have to see him practice and I have to see him move around and I have to feel really good about it. I'm not going to jeopardize his career.' Moore went 24 for 34 for 205 yards and two scores and an interception against the Patriots and has eight touchdown passes in his three starts. 'He has done a great job,' Gase said. 'He has protected the ball and has operated the offense very well and has led those guys. We just have to build on what we've done in the last 3½ games with him.' If Moore starts next weekend, it will be his first playoff game. His only other postseason season experience was as an inactive backup for the Carolina Panthers in 2008. 'It's a big deal,' Moore said. 'It's hard to get there.' And harder to win there. The Dolphins are bidding for their first playoff victory since 2000. Their game at AFC North champion Pittsburgh will be a rematch. Miami won at home in Week 6 against the Steelers, 30-15. 'We beat them here in the heat,' Bushrod said. 'Now we've got to go up there and beat them in the cold.' The win over the Steelers in October helped the Dolphins turn their season around after a 1-4 start. 'We're a different team; they're a different team,' Gase said. 'Both of us have different players. That's what makes this part of the season interesting.' If the Dolphins win next week, they'll face New England again. The Patriots swept the regular-season series between AFC East rivals for the first time since 2012. The Dolphins are in the playoffs even though they have been outgained by 798 yards and outscored by 17 points this season. But in games decided by a touchdown or less, they've won nine in a row, despite a slew of injuries. Gase's players sounded confident of their chances against the Steelers. 'They're a great team,' receiver Jarvis Landry said. 'So are we.'   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2017

Thunder's Cameron Payne assigned to Oklahoma City Blue

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thunder guard Cameron Payne, who hasn't played this season since fracturing a bone in his right foot in a scrimmage in October, has been assigned to the Oklahoma City Blue D-League team. Thunder general manager Sam Presti announced the move in a statement on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). Payne had previously broken the fifth metatarsal, and he had surgery in July. After consulting with specialists, he elected not to have surgery again, instead hoping the bone would heal on its own. The 14th pick in the 2015 draft, Payne averaged 5.0 points, 1.9 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 57 games during his rookie season as a backup to Russell Westbrook. He also became known for his pregame dance routine with Westbrook. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2017

Retire or fight back? MMA stars offer advice to Ronda Rousey

div>GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer /div> div>  /div> div>LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ronda Rousey is taking time off to ponder her future after her 48-second loss in her comeback fight at UFC 207. /div> div>  /div> div>Amanda Nunes thinks Rousey must retire. /div> div>Jon Jones believes Rousey should fight again. /div> div>  /div> div>The UFC's biggest names offered strong opinions about Rousey's future Saturday, a day after Nunes punched Rousey into submission in less than a minute. Rousey (12-2), once the most dominant fighter in the sport, has now lost two straight boutss 13 months apart, looking unprepared and overmatched against both Holly Holm and Nunes. /div> div>  /div> div>After Nunes easily defended the bantamweight belt once held by Rousey, the champion encouraged Rousey to move on. /div> div>  /div> div>'That's it for her,' Nunes said Friday night. 'For sure, she's going to retire. She can't take it anymore. If she wants the rematch, I'm going to do the same thing, because she can't take my punches.' /div> div>  /div> div>Other major figures in mixed martial arts disagree. /div> div>Jones was arguably the most feared fighter in the sport before failing a drug test last summer. The suspended former light heavyweight champion took to Twitter on Saturday to encourage Rousey. /div> div>  /div> div>'My advice to Ronda would be to pick yourself up and try again,' Jones wrote. 'I think it's important for Ronda to show her fans how great she truly is by displaying her courage and giving it another try.' /div> div>  /div> div>Rousey declined to promote her comeback bout, and she refused to discuss her loss with fans or reporters after making a guaranteed $3 million along with undisclosed millions in bonuses and pay-per-view revenue from the UFC's year-end show. She issued a statement to ESPN on Saturday. /div> div>  /div> div>'Returning to not just fighting, but winning, was my entire focus this past year,' Rousey wrote. /div> div>  /div> div>'However, sometimes — even when you prepare and give everything you have and want something so badly — it doesn't work how you planned. I take pride in seeing how far the women's division has come in the UFC and commend all the other women who have been part of making this possible, including Amanda. /div> div>  /div> div>'I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future. Thank you for believing in me and understanding.' /div> div>  /div> div>Nunes acknowledged feeling sorry for Rousey after landing 27 punches on the former champion in just 48 seconds. Nunes believes the cumulative stress of Rousey's first loss, her acting career and numerous outside-the-cage responsibilities combined to 'pressure her too much.' /div> div>  /div> div>Nunes spoke directly to a bloodied Rousey in the cage after the loss. /div> div>  /div> div>'I told her, 'You did a lot for this sport,'' Nunes said. ''Thank you so much. Now, take some time to rest and maybe do something else.' Why should she keep doing this? She's a millionaire already. Why would she want to keep doing this? She'll hurt herself.' /div> div>  /div> div>But Jones sees a ferocious competitor in Rousey behind the acting jobs and modeling gigs. /div> div>  /div> div>'What she does next will truly determine her legacy,' Jones wrote. 'I really hope she chooses to be ... unbroken. Her story doesn't have to be over here. I also still believe she beats 90 (percent) of the division. Lots of ass kicking still to be done, lots of money to be made. /div> div>  /div> div>Jones also joined Nunes and innumerable MMA figures in questioning the effectiveness of Rousey's coaching. /div> div>  /div> div>Edmond Tarverdyan, Rousey's coach, was widely criticized for his uneven, unusual coaching methods even before Rousey's career faltered. /div> div>  /div> div>Even Rousey's mother, AnnMaria De Mars, has ripped Tarverdyan, but Rousey has remained fiercely loyal to her longtime guru. /div> div>  /div> div>Jones is based at the Albuquerque gym of respected trainer Greg Jackson, the mastermind behind several UFC champions. Rousey's striking has long been a weak spot for the Olympic judo medalist, and she was utterly unable to cope with Nunes' punching ability, showing little growth in the past year from the weaknesses exposed by Holm. /div> div>  /div> div>'Maybe she just needs to complement her coach with an MMA family,' Jones wrote. 'Maybe she should join one of the bigger MMA teams. ... Being around other bad asses and constantly sharing your spotlight could be good for you (in) so many ways. They can improve on your humility.' /div> div>  /div> div>Rousey turns 30 years old in February, with several years of her ostensible athletic prime before her. While she has circled several major acting jobs after playing three supporting roles in recent years, she doesn't appear to have any major film commitments. /div> div>  /div> div>But Rousey took several months off after her first defeat, and she seems likely to be deliberate again. De Mars, who cradled Rousey as the fighter left the T-Mobile Arena cage, took to her blog Saturday to offer support. /div> div>  /div> div>'She cares DEEPLY about winning to an extent that I don't believe the average person can wrap his/her head around,' De Mars wrote. 'I am very proud of my daughter.' /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2017

Mickelson has a 2nd surgery to repair hernia

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (AP) — Phil Mickelson has had surgery for a sports hernia for the second time in three months and is not sure when he will play next. Mickelson first had surgery on his hernia in October, right after playing in the Safeway Op.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 13th, 2016

Labor & Management: Euro-area unemployment at 7-year low as recovery proceeds

AMSTERDAM -- Euro-area unemployment unexpectedly declined in October to the lowest level in more than seven years, signaling that companies are confident in the region's slow but steady recovery......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsDec 1st, 2016

October inflation rate steady at 2.3% ­— PSA

October inflation rate steady at 2.3% ­— PSA.....»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 4th, 2016

October inflation hit 2.4%—UK bank

October inflation hit 2.4%—UK bank.....»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2016