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Goffin wins Japan Open for 2nd title in 2 weeks

em>By David Hulmes, Associated Press /em> TOKYO (AP) — David Goffin atoned for his defeat in the Japan Open final last year by winning it on Sunday, beating Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-5. The victory extended Goffin's winning streak to nine matches, including four in Shenzhen last week when he won his first title in more than three years. He lost last year's Tokyo final to Nick Kyrgios. The Belgian stands at No. 8 in the ATP Race to London rankings. With the injured Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka ruled out, 10th place will be good enough to secure a place at the end-of-season showpiece. Mannarino started slowly in his attempt to win a first ATP title. Goffin broke in the fourth game with a forehand winner down the line, and again in the seventh. The Frenchman posted his first victory over a top-five opponent when defeating Marin Cilic in the semifinals. As in that match, he gained a foothold in the middle of the second set, breaking Goffin to lead 4-2. However, Goffin immediately broke back, and again in the 11th game before serving out to love for the title. 'I've been serving well for a few weeks,' Goffin said. 'During the rallies he was hitting the ball really flat, and that combined with the surface meant the bounce was really low. It was tough on the legs to stay with him in the rallies. 'When we started the second he became more aggressive and my return was not enough. He started to serve better so I needed to do something more aggressive because the first six games he was really comfortable. I read his serve a bit better, and then I took control of the rallies.' Goffin has 33 hard-court wins this year, joint-top on the tour with Rafael Nadal, who played the China Open final later Sunday. Mannarino leaves Japan having equaled his 2015 career-best 28 wins in a season. Also, Japan Davis Cup duo Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama surprised hot favorites Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-4, 7-6 (1) to claim the doubles crown. .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnOct 8th, 2017

Federer wins, Serena loses in Cincy tourney

MASON, Ohio (AP) — Roger Federer made a successful return to the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday. The day wasn't so great for Serena Williams. Federer advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Peter Gojowczyk, and Williams was eliminated by eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 second-round loss. Federer and Williams were making their first appearance at the tournament since they each won the title in 2015. Williams opened with a straight-set victory against Daria Gavrilova. After a first-round bye, Federer extended his Cincinnati winning streak to 11 matches since losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2013 quarterfinals. "It doesn't feel like I have been away for so long here from Cincinnati," Federer said. "I guess the wheel keeps turning. It's not like I missed two years of tennis. It was a great pleasure to be back." The second-seeded Federer, refreshed from a month off after losing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, became the tournament favorite when Nadal withdrew on Sunday night. Williams also was knocked out in her last tournament at San Jose two weeks ago after reaching the Wimbledon final. Cincinnati was her fifth tournament since she had a baby last September. She has dealt with blood clots and recently said she has been struggling with postpartum emotions. "You know, this is a long comeback," she said. "I just began. I just started — definitely at the very, very beginning. I'm getting there, and I'm going to just continue to work hard, and hopefully, I'll start winning more matches." Karolina Pliskova and Nick Kyrgios also advanced Tuesday in early tournament action. Pliskova moved into the second round by snapping a seven-match losing streak against Agnieszka Radwanska with a 6-3, 6-3 win. "It means a lot because it was against her, and, like, you know, I never beat her," Pliskova said. "We played so many times. I think I always played her at her best level the matches before, so it was always tough." Kyrgios, a finalist last year in Cincinnati, overcame physical problems to fight off qualifier Denis Kudla for a 6-7 (2), 7-5, 7-6 (9) victory. "This year has been tough," Kyrgios said. "I started the year very well. Then, obviously, I hurt my elbow. Then I had an ongoing hip injury. We have been definitely thinking about the options with my hip. You know, there is only so much you can do before you have to, you know, I guess, get surgery or something like that. You know, right now I'm just managing it." No. 11 seed David Goffin advanced with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Leonardo Mayer became the first player to reach the third round on the men's side with a 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory over 16th-seeded Lucas Pouille. Denis Shapovalov also reached the third round with an upset, knocking off 14th-seeded Kyle Edmund, 6-4, 7-5. Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung won the last five games to beat Jack Sock 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. Sock has lost eight straight matches since winning in Rome on May 13. Two-time Cincinnati semifinalist Milos Raonic advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over qualifier Dusan Lajovic. Robin Haase also made it to the second round, defeating Filip Krajinovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina was tested by wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova before reaching the third round with a gritty 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 win. Sixth-seeded Caroline Garcia also reached the third round with a 6-4, 6-5 win over wild card Victoria Azarenka, but 12th-seeded Daria Kasatkina suffered a first-round upset at the hands of qualifier Petra Martic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Elise Mertens scored a 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over Magdalena Rybarikova. Ashleigh Barty stopped wild card Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 7-5. Maria Sakkari upset Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka 6-3, 7-6 (8). Ekaterina Makarova cruised past qualifier Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-2......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Jackson leads surging Ravens to 22-10 victory over Chargers

By Joe Reedy, Associated Press CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Just like that, the Baltimore Ravens have gone from a midseason swoon to the brink of their first playoff trip in four years. The resurgent Ravens continued their late push with a 22-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday behind Lamar Jackson's first 200-yard passing game and a stingy defense that held one of the NFL's top offenses under 200 yards for the first time since 2014. Baltimore, which has won five of its past six with Jackson as the starter, dominated for most of the night to remain in possession of the last AFC wild card with one game remaining in the regular season. And the Ravens (9-6) would move into first place in the AFC North if Pittsburgh loses at New Orleans on Sunday. "I'm proud of our guys. So many of them stepped up and made plays," coach John Harbaugh said. "Our guys were winning the 1-on-1 battles and our coverage was real good." Baltimore got a win against a Los Angeles squad that had already clinched a playoff spot with wins in 10 of its last 11 games. The Chargers' loss, which drops them to 11-4, deals a big blow to their hopes of winning the AFC West. Kansas City can wrap up the division title and a first-round playoff bye with a win at Seattle on Sunday night. "We couldn't get them off the field on defense. And we couldn't stay on the field on offense," coach Anthony Lynn said. "We got outplayed. We got outcoached. It's just that simple." Jackson, the 32nd overall draft pick in April, completed 12 of 22 passes for 204 yards. He had come into the game averaging 146.2 yards in the previous five games. "I'm used to playing on big stages and people doubting us. I try to prove them wrong," Jackson said. "We can play with anyone. That was a great team. We can fight and everyone sees it now." Baltimore led 6-3 at halftime but the Chargers took the lead less than two minutes into the third quarter on Melvin Gordon's touchdown from a yard out. The Ravens got the ball to start the second half but Chargers rookie safety Derwin James forced Kenneth Dixon's fumble, which was recovered by Melvin Ingram at the Ravens 21 and returned 3 yards. The Ravens quickly answered on the ensuing possession when tight end Mark Andrews split safeties Adrian Phillips and Jahleel Addae, taking Jackson's pass in stride and racing 67 yards for a TD. "We turned it over so it was up to us to go back down and score," said Jackson, who also rushed for 39 yards. "It was play action. Mark got open and made a great catch." The Ravens' defense, which came into the game as the top-ranked unit in the NFL, frustrated the Chargers most of the night. Philip Rivers — who went 23 of 37 for 181 yards — was sacked four times, threw two interceptions and didn't have a touchdown pass for the first time this season. Baltimore converted three Los Angeles turnovers into 10 points. The Ravens were up 16-10 with 2:40 remaining when Patrick Onwuaso forced Antonio Gates to fumble and Tavon Young scooped it up and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown. "I saw a couple opportunities where I could punch the ball out and that was one of them. Once I punched it I didn't know if he was down or not," Onwuaso said. STUCK IN NEUTRAL The 198 net yards by the Chargers' offense was their fourth-lowest total since Rivers became the starting quarterback in 2006. The last time they were held under 200 yards was Nov. 2, 2014, at Miami (178). "We got off to a terrible start, turning the ball over on the first play. And we had three third-down conversions called back really that we couldn't overcome. We got ourselves in third-and-super-long a lot," Rivers said. "It's a good defense and they outplayed us today. Depending on what happens we may get another crack at them in two weeks." It is the fourth time this season the Ravens have held a team under 200 yards and the 20th time since Harbaugh became coach in 2008. PRETTY GOOD TRIP It ended up being a great 48 hours for Harbaugh. On Friday, the Ravens announced their longtime coach will be back next season. Some had wondered if Harbaugh's 11th season in Baltimore would be his final one because the team has reached the postseason only once since winning the Super Bowl in 2012. "This is about our guys in the locker room and us. We're fighting to accomplish something," Harbaugh said. While Harbaugh tried to deflect questions about his contract extension, players were supportive of the decision. "That's really cool that he's going to keep being here when I excel," Jackson said. BATTLE OF THE BACKS Baltimore's Gus Edwards had 92 yards rushing on 14 carries. Nearly half his yards came on the Ravens' first offensive play when he went 43 yards up the middle for his longest run of the season. It was also the longest rushing play the Chargers have allowed all season. The rookie has rushed for 578 yards over the past six games. Gordon, who missed the past three games due to a knee injury, had 41 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. UP NEXT Ravens: Host the Cleveland Browns in the regular-season finale Dec. 30. Chargers: At the Denver Broncos on Dec. 30......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2018

ONE: Shinya Aoki says he’d enjoy a rematch with fellow former champ Eduard Folayang

Nearly two years removed from losing ONE Championship Lightweight World Title, Japanese MMA legend Shinya Aoki finds himself back on the path towards championship glory, and the next stop on his journey brings him to Manila at ONE: Reign of Kings, Friday, July 27th at the Mall of Asia Arena. In a battle of top lightweight contenders, Aoki meets Thai MMA star Shannon ’OneShin’ Wiratchai, with the winner moving one step closer to a lightweight world title shot. And while another run at the world title could be on the line, the Evolve MMA star says that his focus in the lead up to the fight will be his own progress and no one else’s. “I approach all my fights the same. I focus on myself, and my game.” Aoki shared with ABS-CBN Sports via email. “I train hard with all my training partners and coaches, whether its in Japan or at Evolve MMA in Singapore, to improve all aspects of my game to prepare myself for the bout ahead. I am confident in my abilities and am looking forward to this bout.” Adding another layer to the upcoming Aoki versus Wiratchai fight will be the fact that the Thai star revealed that he looks up to the Japanese legend. “I have been competing for a long time now so it is interesting that I am competing against someone who used to watch me growing up. When I compete I go out there to do my best as a martial artist, if my performances inspire someone to start martial arts that’s just an extra bonus.” “Shannon is a good strong opponent, I look forward to competing against him.” Aoki added. If Aoki can defeat Wiratchai in Manila, it’ll mark his first string of back-to-back wins since 2015, definitely a step in the right direction. From 2016 to 2017, Aoki went through quite a rough patch that was kickstarted with him dropping his ONE title to Eduard Folayang in Singapore, followed a grappling superfight loss to Garry Tonon and a one-sided beatdown from then-ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren. Momentum shifted to Aoki’s favor in the start of 2018, as he submitted fellow former ONE champion Marat Gafurov in another grappling superfight, before getting back in the win column in MMA, choking out Rasul Yakhyaev in just one round back in May. “As a professional athlete, winning and losing is all a part of the journey.” Aoki said of his struggles and his recent run of success. “As a martial artist, all I focus on is continuing to improve and learn from the past and improve my game in all aspects. Improving a little bit every day is what martial arts is about. This is the mindset I’ve always had.” Speaking of Eduard Folayang, Aoki now is on the same boat as the Filipino MMA star, both former champions looking to regain their place at the top of the division. Folayang will also be fighting on ONE’s Reign of Kings card in Manila, against unbeaten Russian Aziz Pahrudinov. Much like Aoki, a win for Folayang moves him one step closer to another shot at the championship. If everything goes according to plan for these two former champions, their paths could cross once more, and that’s something that Aoki says he wouldn’t mind. “I am open to compete against anyone or rematch anyone. If ONE Championship wants me to face Eduard I would enjoy that. My job is to train hard to improve all aspects of my game for whoever I am facing.” Before anything else however, Aoki and Folayang will have to take care of business come fight night. For Aoki, who is, by all means, a proven legend in MMA, the learning never stops, and it’s this feeling of hunger for more that keeps the former champ motivates. “I never think of my accomplishments as enough. Every bout is a new challenge for me to take on, so I push myself to be able to handle anything that comes my way. I am always training and learning new techniques so my game is constantly improving. The martial arts journey never ends.” said Aoki.   Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki meets top contender Shannon Wiratchai in a lightweight contest with massive title implications at ONE: Reign of Kings on Friday, July 27th at the Mall of Asia Arena. Catch it LIVE starting at 8:30 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!   *Special thanks to Aliya Anwar of Evolve MMA.        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 23rd, 2018

A look back at Roger Federer s record 8 Wimbledon titles

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer's paths to his record eight Wimbledon championships were each different, of course. Different opponents. Different degrees of difficulty. Same old Federer. A year ago, for example, he did not drop a set the entire way, becoming the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to claim the title at the All England Club in that unblemished manner. In 2009, in contrast, Federer was pushed to the very limit, edging Andy Roddick 16-14 in the fifth set of a final that remains the longest, by games, of any Grand Slam title match in tennis history. Here is a year-by-year look at Federer's trophy runs at Wimbledon: ___ No. 1: 2003 Final: Beat Mark Philippoussis 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (3). Grand Slam Title: 1 Age: 21 At Stake: Pegged for great success, Federer had yet to get past the quarterfinals of a major tournament. Close Call: Federer dropped only one set, to Mardy Fish in the third round, but the toughest moment came in the round of 16, when Federer needed treatment on his aching back while beating Feliciano Lopez. Key Quote: "There was pressure from all sides — also from myself. I wanted to do better in Slams." — Federer. ___ No. 2: 2004 Final: Beat Andy Roddick 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4. Grand Slam Title: 3 Age: 22 At Stake: His first attempt to defend a major championship. Close Call: After dropping the first set, then trailing by a break at 4-2 in the third, Federer used a rain delay to change strategy, opting to charge the net more. He made that switch on his own, because he'd been without a coach since firing his a little more than six months earlier. It worked: Federer won 24 of the next 28 points on his serve. Key Quote: "This is a very important phase in his career as well, that he could step back, not rely on somebody, get to know himself, get to know his own tennis and technique." — Federer's mother, Lynette. ___ No. 3: 2005 Final: Beat Roddick 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Grand Slam Title: 5 Age: 23 At Stake: Trying to become the first man in 50 years to win his first five major finals. Close Call: None, really. Federer dropped merely one of 22 sets he played over the two weeks, a tiebreaker against 25th-seeded Nicolas Kiefer in the third round, but quickly recovered to win that match 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 7-5. Key Quote: "It's hard for him, because I really played a fantastic match — one of the best of my life. Today it seemed liked I was playing flawless." — Federer. ___ No. 4: 2006 Final: Beat Rafael Nadal 6-0, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-3. Grand Slam Title: 8 Age: 24 At Stake: Entering the championship match, Federer was 0-4 that season against Nadal — including a loss in the French Open final weeks earlier — and 55-0 against everyone else. Close Call: Once again, nothing to speak of, because Federer dropped just one set all tournament, this time in the final. Nadal did serve for the second set at 5-4, but missed three forehands and double-faulted to get broken there, before ceding the ensuing tiebreaker. Key Quote: "I'm very well aware of how important this match was for me. If I lose, obviously, it's a hard blow for me — he wins French, Wimbledon back-to-back. It's important for me to win a final against him, for a change, and beat him, for a change." — Federer. ___ No. 5: 2007 Final: Beat Nadal 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2. Grand Slam Title: 11 Age: 25 At Stake: Joining Borg as the only men in the last 100 years to win Wimbledon five years in a row. Close Call: After dropping just one set (in a quarterfinal against 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero) along an unusually short road to the final (fourth-round foe Tommy Haas withdrew with an injury), Federer got all he could handle against Nadal. Key Quote: "He's an artist on this surface. He can stay back. He can come in. No weaknesses. I believe if he continues the way he's doing and stays away from injuries and has the motivation, he'll be the greatest player ever to play the game." — Borg. ___ No. 6: 2009 Final: Beat Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14. Grand Slam Title: 15 Age: 27 At Stake: Breaking Sampras' record for most major singles trophies won by a man and reasserting his supremacy at Wimbledon after losing a 9-7 fifth set to Nadal in the 2008 final. Close Call: What could be a closer call than that fifth set? Federer's only break of the day came in the match's 77th and last game. Also worth remembering is that 2017 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Roddick led the second-set tiebreaker 6-2 but did not convert any of the four points that would have given him a two-set lead. Key Quote: "He's a legend. Now he's an icon." — Sampras. ___ No. 7: 2012 Final: Beat Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. Grand Slam Title: 17 Age: 30 At Stake: Tying the record held by Sampras and William Renshaw (who played in the 1800s) for most Wimbledon men's championships, plus ending a personal 2½-year Grand Slam drought. Close Call: Federer dropped the first two sets in the third round against 29th-seeded Julien Benneteau of France, then was two points away from losing a half-dozen times, but pulled out a 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-1 comeback. Key Quote: "Oh, my God, it was brutal. The thing, when you're down two sets to love, is to stay calm, even though it's hard, because people are freaking out, people are worried for you." — Federer. ___ No. 8: 2017 Final: Beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. Grand Slam Title: 19 (he added No. 20 at this year's Australian Open) Age: 35 At Stake: Breaking the mark for most men's singles titles at the All England Club after coming up just short with losses to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 finals. Close Call: Nothing whatsoever. The closest thing to a close call came in the semifinals, when 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych pushed Federer to tiebreakers in each of the first two sets. Cilic was hampered by foot blister in a final that was lopsided throughout. Key Quote: "Wimbledon was always my favorite tournament. Will always be my favorite tournament. My heroes walked the grounds here and walked the courts here." — Federer......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

Nadal and Djokovic to renew rivalry in Italian Open semis

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open semifinals — and three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova also reached the last four Friday. Nadal, who holds a record seven titles at the Foro Italico, overcame a poor first set and a partisan crowd to beat Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Then, four-time Rome winner Djokovic rallied past Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Nadal and Djokovic have played each other 50 times but their last meeting came more than a year ago, when Nadal won in the Madrid Open semifinals. "Tomorrow is going to be the ultimate challenge on clay," Djokovic said. "Beating Rafa is a really difficult thing to do on this surface. But, I've done it before." Djokovic leads Nadal 26-24 overall, but Nadal holds a 15-7 advantage on clay. Nadal can replace Roger Federer at No. 1 if he lifts the Rome trophy for the first time since 2013. Federer is sitting out the clay season to prepare for Wimbledon, where he will bid for a record-extending 21st Grand Slam title. Djokovic, who is returning from a persistent right elbow injury, hadn't reached a semifinal since before Wimbledon last year. "This is what I was looking forward to," Djokovic said. "This is what I was hoping to achieve." In the other half of the draw, defending champion Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to 12 matches with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over ninth-seeded David Goffin. He'll meet Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic, who beat 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3. Sharapova required more than three hours to eliminate last year's French Open winner, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-5; and defending champion Elina Svitolina defeated Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4 for her sixth straight victory over the former No. 1 player. Svitolina will next face 26th-ranked Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who beat Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1. Sharapova's semifinal opponent will be Simona Halep, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia that ensures she will keep the No. 1 ranking for another week. Djokovic has now won 12 straight matches over Nishikori and the Japanese player didn't help his cause when he landed an easy overhead into the net early in the third set. Still, it remained tight with long rallies until the end. "It was a fantastic match," Djokovic said. "We went toe to toe until the last point." Fans were decidedly behind Fognini, Italy's top player, and Nadal was under pressure when Fognini won five straight games to cancel out a 4-1 deficit and win the opening set. "He played aggressive, a great level of tennis, creating a lot of winners and taking balls earlier," Nadal said. "I felt the pressure a little bit and played a couple of bad games." But Fognini couldn't keep up with Nadal's consistency and heavy topspin on the red clay court and eventually was physically worn down. "I tried to play more with my forehand and when I play aggressive with my forehand the backhand becomes better," said Nadal, who sat out earlier this season with right knee and hip injuries. "It's important to be able to change the tactics of the match." Fognini had tape applied under his left knee while trailing 3-2 in the third set due to a physical problem that has bothered him for weeks. "The first set lasted more than an hour," Fognini said. "It's him that causes the problem." While the result meant it was now 42 years since an Italian man last won the tournament — Adriano Panatta in 1976 — Fognini was still applauded as he walked off of the court. Nadal joined in the applause for Fognini......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

Wawrinka has his fitness back - now he needs confidence

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — The good news for Stan Wawrinka is that he finally feels physically fit again following surgery on his left knee. The challenge now for the three-time Grand Slam champion is regaining his confidence and fluidity of movement on the court. Playing his first match in three months, Wawrinka was more pleased than upset despite losing to 55th-ranked Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4 Sunday in the first round of the Italian Open. "My level is really high, better than what I expected," Wawrinka said, adding that he returned to proper on-court training only 12 days ago. "I'm happy with physically where I am right now." Wawrinka committed 30 unforced errors to his American opponent's 17, was broken once in each set and failed to take advantage of his only two break opportunities. "I was nervous during the match. A lot of hesitation with my game, with my movement and everything. Quite tight with my body. And that's going to make a big difference, especially for me, the way I move and the way I play," said Wawrinka, who draws enormous power from his robust frame. "Even with that, it was a tough match. One, two points could have changed the match." Wawrinka was operated on in August — twice — and returned in January at the Australian Open, where he was eliminated in the second round by Tennys Sandgren. "When I came back in Australia, it was quite clear that I wasn't ready at all," the Swiss player said. "I wasn't at my top physically." Wawrinka then retired from a match against 193rd-ranked Ilya Ivashka in Marseille, France, in February, citing a left knee injury — and hadn't played since. "I wanted just to play a few tournaments to test the knee," he added. "I was positive to see that the knee was doing OK. But I knew I needed a lot of time to work on my fitness. "And that's what I did when I stopped after Marseille. I went back to doing fitness almost every day for like three months. ... It was some tough weeks." Magnus Norman has returned as Wawrinka's coach after leaving the Swiss player's staff in October — to Wawrinka's dismay at the time. "He's going to keep working with me, hopefully the full year," Wawrinka said. "I still have a lot of work to do. I still need a lot of time, play matches, keep trying to play week after week to find the confidence back." Three other Americans were also in action on the Foro Italico's red clay. Twelfth-seeded Sam Querrey was eliminated by Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 6-2, 7-6 (7); 13th-seeded Jack Sock beat Spanish veteran David Ferrer 6-3, 6-4; and Ryan Harrison eliminated Yuichi Sugita of Japan 7-6 (5), 6-3. Also, Italian wild card Lorenzo Sonego had strong fan support as he came back from a set down to defeat Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3. Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova withdrew from the tournament citing a muscular injury that occurred during a grueling three-set win over Kiki Bertens in Saturday's Madrid Open final — her second title in two weeks after also taking the Prague Open. "After these incredible two weeks of tennis my body needs to rest and recuperate," Kvitova said. The women's tournament at the Foro Italico starts Monday. It's the last Masters 100 event before the May 27-June 10 French Open — a tournament that Wawrinka won in 2015......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2018

Slow starters: Pats have no 1st quarter SB points with Brady

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — Tom Brady has accomplished just about everything when it comes to playing in the Super Bowl. His five titles and four Super Bowl MVPs are more than any other quarterback. He has posted the two biggest comeback wins in Super Bowl history, including last year's rally from 25 points down to beat Atlanta. He has thrown for more yards or touchdowns than any quarterback on the biggest stage. Perhaps the only accomplishment missing seems like a relatively simple one: leading a first-quarter scoring drive. In one of the more surprising Super Bowl stats, the Patriots have failed to score a single point in the first quarter in their seven Super Bowl trips in the Brady-Bill Belichick era. "We're trying to score every time we take the field," Brady said. "There's a little caveat to that in my opinion. In 2007, it was our first drive of the game, it just happened to be the first play of the second quarter. "But it was the first time we touched it. So we did score when we got it first. But I'd love to score 21 points in the first quarter if we can but obviously this defense can make it really tough for us." The Patriots did score on that first possession in their first meeting against the Giants. But because New York held the ball for 9:59 to open the game with a field-goal drive, Laurence Maroney's 1-yard run came on the first play of the second quarter. The first-quarter scoring woes in the Super Bowl led to a memorable moment from an NFL Network documentary about last year's title of linebackers coach Brian Flores addressing a banquet to honor the team. "Coach Belichick, prior to the game, looked right at Tom Brady and goes 'Tom, we've been to six Super Bowls together, and we've never scored a point in the first quarter. Can we get that done?'" Flores told the crowd. "I look around and I go, 'Man, we're going to score 30 points in the first quarter.'" Instead it didn't happen. It was another first-quarter shutout as the Patriots went three-and-out the first time they had the ball and then stalled near midfield following two sacks on the second drive. The third drive ended when LeGarrette Blount fumbled on the second play of the second quarter. Brady has been on the field for a first-quarter score when his intentional grounding penalty in the end zone against the Giants in 2012 led to a safety for New York. That was one of four scores in the first quarter against the Patriots in their seven trips with Belichick and Brady. "Look, we try to score in every game," Belichick said. "I know that's probably hard to understand, but we try to go out and score and keep the other team from scoring. That's our goal every game." It's not as if slow starts are a chronic problem for Brady and the Patriots. Since his first season as the starter in 2001, New England leads the NFL on first-quarter scoring with 5.7 points per game. The Patriots are only a tick behind that at 5.5 points per first quarter in the playoff rounds prior to the Super Bowl with Brady at quarterback. But for some reason that all changes on the biggest stage, even though it hasn't stopped the Patriots from winning five Super Bowl titles. "I would say that's the emphasis every week," receiver Phillip Dorsett said. "We play better when we start fast, and that's a big emphasis every week, not just in the Super Bowl but in the weeks prior to this. I mean, we have a better record when we're playing fast and we get out to a good start, when we get points on the board on that first drive. So, we always like to do that." ___ AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this report.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 3rd, 2018

Federer joins Djokovic, Sharapova in 2nd round in Australia

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer picked up where he left off at the last Australian Open on a day when Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic ensured there were all kinds of successful comebacks. Defending champion Federer beating Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a night match, his first on Rod Laver Arena since clinching a career-reviving title here last year. He's been met on court after wins here previously by tennis greats Laver, John McEnroe and Jim Courier. On Tuesday night, he got something different. Comedian Will Ferrell stepped out of the crowd and, slipping into character as Ron Burgundy from the movie Anchorman, conducted the post-match interview. Six-time champion Djokovic and 2014 Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka stuck to business, returning from long injury layoffs with victories in their first matches since Wimbledon. Sharapova barely missed a beat in her first match in Melbourne since a failed doping test in 2016 resulted in a 15-month ban from tennis. One of just two former champions in the women's draw, Sharapova recovered from an early break in the second set and closed out her 6-1, 6-4 victory over Tatjana Maria with an ace at Margaret Court Arena. She celebrated by twirling, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd. "It's been a couple of years since I've been back here — obviously I wanted to enjoy the moment," the 2008 Australian Open champion and three-time runner-up said in an on-court TV interview. Former No. 1-ranked Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open winner, continued her resurgent run with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Anna-Lena Friedsam to extend her streak to 10 consecutive wins. Her ranking slid into the 20s in 2017, but she's coming back into the kind of form that won her a title in Sydney last week and makes her a strong contender at Melbourne Park. "Something is going on with Australia and me," Kerber said. "I enjoy my stay, play my best tennis." Djokovic tweaked his service motion while recovering from an injured right elbow, and used it to good effect in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Donald Young. Djokovic lost in the second round here last year, but won five of the previous six Australian Open titles. "Obviously I wanted to start with the right intensity, which I have," Djokovic said. "I played perfect tennis, like I never stopped." Wawrinka, who had six months out after surgery on his left knee, beat Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2). No. 4-ranked 4-Alexander Zverev and No. 7 David Goffin advanced, but No. 20 Roberto Bautista Agut lost to Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist here in 2009, and former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic lost 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to Lukas Lacko. No. 13 Sam Querrey restored some order for the U.S. men with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez. Two other U.S. contenders, No. 8 Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner, were out on opening day. Madison Keys also reversed a trend, becoming the only one of the four American women who contested the U.S. Open semifinals last September to reach the second round in Australia. Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe were all eliminated on Monday. No. 17-seeded Keys, the runner-up at the U.S. Open, had a 6-1, 7-5 win over Wang Qiang. No. 9 Johanna Konta beat Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1 and will meet another American, Bernarda Pera in the second round. The U.S. women had four wins and 14 losses in round one. No. 1-ranked Simona Halep was in serious trouble twice — having to save set points at 5-2 down in the first set, and badly twisting her left ankle early in the second — before beating 17-year-old Australian wild-card entry Destanee Aiava 7-6 (5), 6-1. Halep, who lost back-to-back first-round matches here in the previous two years, will next play Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon finalist who beat Oceane Dodin 6-3, 7-6 (5). "It's always really cool to go up against the best in the world," Bouchard said. "You use it as a measuring stick. I want to try to play my game and go out there and do some damage." Other seeded players advancing included Wimbledon champion Garbine Mugurza, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 8 Caroline Garcia, No. 16 Elena Vesnina, and No. 29 Lucie Safarova. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lost 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 to Andrea Petkovic. Sharapova was banned for after testing positive for the drug meldonium here in 2016, when she reached the quarterfinals, and finished last year ranked No. 60. The five-time major winner will next play No. 14-seeded Anastasija Sevastova, who beat her at the U.S. Open last year in her return to a Grand Slam to tournament. After returning in New York, Sharapova is confident she's prepared again for a major. "I felt like I have got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally last year with — there was a lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament, first Grand Slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely," she said. "But it felt pretty routine today.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2018

Hamilton title chase returns to track he s dominated

By Jim Vertuno, Associated Press AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lewis Hamilton usually feels at ease in the U.S. And why not? It's pretty easy to be happy when he's usually finishing first. Yet despite his commanding lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the chase for the Formula One championship, the Mercedes driver barely cracked a smile Thursday as he dismissed scenarios that he could clinch the title with a win and another Vettel collapse. Hamilton also fended off speculation that he might take a knee when the American national anthem is played before Sunday's race. Hamilton, the only black driver in Formula One, said he supports the demonstration that began as a protest over treatment of minorities by police that has roiled the National Football League and drawn heavy criticism from President Donald Trump. But when asked if he would kneel on Sunday, the British driver said "I don't have any plans" and was concentrating on the race. "I know black and white people that live here in America, so I get quite a view of what's happening here in the States," Hamilton said, calling the protest movement "awesome." "I'm very much in support of it. But I'm here to win and that's the top of my priorities at the moment and I'm not really focused on anything else." Hamilton dismissed the notion of winning the championship in Texas as "silly." He would clinch his fourth F1 season title Sunday if he finishes 16 points ahead of Vettel. For example, if Hamilton again wins a race which he's won four of the last five years, Vettel would have to finish sixth or lower to give the title to Hamilton. Outside of the two races he didn't finish, Vettel has finished lower than fourth just once. "Sebastian, you cannot expect him to have a difficult weekend, they are going to be quick," Hamilton said. "He has been strong all year. He has had a few technical issues, but the car is as good as it has always been ... I have to continue to keep the pressure on." Yet the Circuit of the Americas would seem Vettel's last realistic chance to keep the title chase alive. He's had some success here, winning in 2013 as part of a dominant season with Red Bull when he won nine consecutive races. He finished second in 2012 when he lost a duel with Hamilton's McLaren. Hamilton has made the Austin race something of a personal playground. He cruised to wins in 2014 and 2016 and his rain-soaked victory in 2015 clinched the season championship with three races left on the schedule. Hamilton won from pole last year and from P2 in 2012, 2014 and 2015. The Briton's American success dates back to 2007 when he won the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis. And he's gotten stronger through the second half of this season. Hamilton has four victories and one second-place finish over the last five races as his lead over Vettel has ballooned to 59 points. "The championship, as long as it is done in the last four races that is my focus. I honestly don't care if it is here or the last race, as long as it is done," Hamilton said. Vettel's problems struck late in the season. After two wins in the first three races, many hoped for an epic title fight after years of dominance by Mercedes. But Vettel's season has been hit by car troubles and a crash in recent weeks. In Singapore, Vettel started on pole but a first-turn crash with teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen knocked out all three. In Japan, he was foiled by the smallest of engine parts — a spark plug — that again knocked him out on the first lap. Even when he finished a brilliant drive in Malaysia, coming from the back to finish fourth, he lost ground to Hamilton. Ferrari team principle Maurizio Arrivabene has pledged the team will fight "right up to the last corner of the last grand prix." The U.S. Grand Prix will be the Formula One debut of Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley, who will be the first New Zealander on the grid since Mike Thackwell at the 1984 Canadian Grand Prix. Hartley is a former World Endurance Championship winner in 2015 and a winner of this year's 24 hours at Le Mans. Hartley said the call from Toro Rosso and the trip to Austin happened so fast he's hardly had time to meet his team. "Obviously I want to do the best I can. I'm trying not to put too many expectations on it," Hartley said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 20th, 2017

Nadal and Federer win in straight sets at Shanghai Masters

SHANGHAI (AP) — Rafael Nadal lost only four points on serve Wednesday in a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jared Donaldson in the second round of the Shanghai Masters. The top-ranked Spaniard and No. 2 Roger Federer both advanced by winning their opening matches in straight sets. 'It was a very quick match,' said Nadal, who won his sixth title of the year in Beijing last week. 'I was happy to have that early break in the sixth game. After that I played a great match, not many mistakes, played aggressively.' Federer defeated Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (4), 6-4, winning the match with his 14th ace on his second match point. 'I knew going in it was not going to be easy because he's had a great run the last few weeks, months,' Federer said. 'He was confident. He was shaking off misses, no problems. He was serving well, making the right decisions. 'He was confident and as an opponent you can feel that. I felt that today it was going to be dangerous down the stretch of every set.' Nadal and Federer are both in contention for the season-ending No. 1 ranking, although only Nadal can clinch that honor this week. Nadal will be guaranteed to retain the No. 1 ranking through the end of the season if he wins his first career Shanghai title and Federer loses before reaching the semifinals. Earlier, sixth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov saved three match points before finally defeating Ryan Harrison 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6). The 46th-ranked Harrison led 4-2 in the third set and then 6-3 in the tiebreaker. But Dimitrov won the final five points to get through. 'I just had to be there (on those match points),' Dimitrov said. 'At (my) match point, I just had to make my first serve because I knew he would go for it if not.' Also, U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson lost to Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2), while Gilles Simon, Alexander Zverev, Sam Querrey and John Isner all advanced. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Raonic wins first match back from injury; calls for a review

em>By David Hulmes, Associated Press /em> TOKYO (AP) — After returning to the ATP Tour in style by beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4 at the Japan Open on Tuesday, Milos Raonic called for a review of the tennis circuit. It was Raonic's first match following a seven-week absence after left-wrist surgery. The big-serving Canadian has withdrawn from five events this year, and conceded walkovers at two others. 'It's been very frustrating,' said Raonic, who started the year at No. 3 and has slipped to No. 12 in the rankings. 'I've had more than a dozen different injuries and reasons that have kept me away from tournaments. That hasn't been fun because I haven't been able to focus on tennis, I've been focusing on 'Can I play today or can't I?' rather than, 'What do I need to do with my tennis game?'' Raonic knows tennis isn't a sport that's easy on the body, and the travel and length of the season are demanding, too. 'I believe out of those of us that finished top five last year, I'm the only guy still trying to play this year, and none of the top five played the U.S. Open,' Raonic said. 'Maybe it's testament to some kind of reform being needed for the sake of players' careers, and being able to provide a certain caliber of tennis for spectators. 'Scheduling, the length of the year and how spread out — geographically and throughout the year — the tournaments are, especially the top tournaments for the top players, is something that deserves a second look. It's hard to peak four times of the year for Grand Slams, let alone for other tournaments.' The 11-month season has long been an issue for players, something the men's and women's tours have taken some steps to address. Even the biggest stars on the men's tour, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, had injury layoffs before returning to win two major titles each this season. Raonic thinks a more compact season would help the competition across the board. 'Give the players that really stand out mandatory events, give them a chance to play everything within a seven-month period so they can really focus on themselves health-wise, but also on improving, because you need that time,' Raonic said. 'We're the only sport, outside of golf maybe, that plays as spread out as we do without any time for rest.' Raonic next plays Yuichi Sugita, who took the first set 6-4 from Benoit Paire when the Frenchman retired with fatigue. Home-crowd favorite Taro Daniel was thumped by Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-1, 6-3 and gave his backing to Raonic's review call. 'It's ridiculous the way the tour's scheduled,' Daniel said. 'You see how many people are injured right now. Half the top 10's out, 80 percent of players have some sort of pain right now. There needs to be a bit more space between the tournaments; there are players doing crazy stuff like playing in the U.S. one week, China the next week, and after Roland Garros playing 15 weeks in a row. 'It's a great opportunity for us to play different places around the world, and it's really exciting, but it's a little too hard. It's easy for us to say it's too much but then how are we going to change it? I don't know what the solution is, but I feel something needs to change.' Daniel said he was splitting from his coach and moving from Spain back to Tokyo. 'I was playing really well until Roland Garros, then I had a bit of a physical letdown, fatigue — a lot of matches and heat during those weeks,' he said. 'My confidence isn't great right now. I had great practices this week, felt like I could do something good here, but I got killed out there today.' Lu next faces Richard Gasquet, who beat sixth-seeded Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-6 (2) The Frenchman missed the opening five Masters events this year, following appendicitis surgery and subsequent back problems. Those back problems also forced him out of two other events. 'Now I'm feeling fit,' Gasquet said. 'I had appendicitis then everything went wrong with my body after that. The back problems came after that surgery, my recovery was very bad, and I started practicing a little bit too quickly, after five weeks — I wasn't ready. I didn't think it would be so tough to recover — of course I'm not 20 anymore, I'm 31.' Gasquet said the players outside the so-called Big Four need to play a lot of tournaments because they lose more often. 'We go to Australia, then we go on clay courts, we go on hard courts, need to change the type of balls, and you're jet-lagged,' he said. 'Tennis is very demanding — when I came on tour 15 years ago the 100-ranked player was not so difficult to beat, now they are very good so it's a big difference. 'Tennis is a tough sport. Of course there's a connection between the length of the tour and injuries, but it's a bit tough to say whether we should play more or less.'   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 4th, 2017

As calendar flips to October, the MLB postseason from A to Z

em>By Ben Walker, Associated Press /em> All those home runs by Aaron Judge, all those wins by the Los Angeles Dodgers, nicely done. Except none of that matters now — a sinker that bounces to the backstop, a liner that hooks barely foul, the whole script flips. October has a way of doing that. The Major League Baseball playoffs start Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium when New York hosts the Minnesota Twins in the AL wild-card game. A look at the 2017 postseason, from A to Z: strong>A: ALTUVE'S ASTROS — /strong>Generously listed at 5-foot-6, Jose Altuve is baseball's little big man. The do-everything second baseman won his third AL batting title and aims to lead the Astros to their first World Series crown. With the Houston area recovering from Hurricane Harvey, they're the sentimental favorites. strong>B: BULLPENS — /strong> Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman going long, Andrew Miller entering early, Clayton Kershaw as a closer. The old rules were out last October when it came to relief roles. We'll see what pops up in the 'pens this year. strong>C: CUBS VS. CLEVELAND — /strong>Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Corey Kluber & Crew, once more? It's been a while since a World Series rematch, when Reggie Jackson led the Yanks over the Dodgers in 1977-78. But, it's already been a ripe year for repeats — Warriors vs. Cavaliers, Alabama vs. Clemson. strong>D: DEBUTS — /strong>Strikeout king Chris Sale makes his first playoff appearance when Boston starts at Houston on Thursday in the best-of-five AL Division Series. Rockies bopper Nolan Arenado and Twins slugger Brian Dozier are postseason newbies, too. So is Nationals backup Adam Lind, after 12 years and more than 1,300 games. strong>E: EXTRA — /strong>Hmmm, anyone remember the last time a postseason game went to extra innings? Hard to top the Cubs' 10-inning, rain-delayed, 8-7 thriller over Cleveland in Game 7. The Red Sox are the experts of extras this year — they're 15-3, including seven straight wins. strong>F: FREE AGENTS — /strong>Sure, 20 teams are done. But their fans can always dream. Cubs righty Jake Arrieta, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Rays thumper Logan Morrison are on the list of who'll soon be available. The most intriguing possibility might be Shohei Otani, a star pitcher and hitter in Japan. strong>G: GOOD TO SEE YA — /strong> Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, when he was 10 for 17. Twins star Joe Mauer has been absent since 2010. And Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg has pitched just once in Washington's three trips, heading into this matchup with the Cubs. strong>H: HOME FIELD — /strong>World Series home-field advantages go to the team with the best record. Thankfully, it's no longer based on who wins the All-Star Game. That means the Dodgers (104 wins) get first dibs, followed by Cleveland (102), Houston (101), Washington (97), Boston (93) and the Cubs (92). strong>I: INJURIES — /strong>Nationals ace Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring, teammate Bryce Harper is getting over a bad knee. Banged-up All-Stars Miguel Sano of the Twins and Michael Brantley of the Indians might be able contribute this week. Might not. strong>J: JOE MADDON — /strong>A cool cat, he keeps his Cubs loose. He reveled in last year's rallying cry: 'Try Not to Suck.' The skipper became the toast of Chicago, ending that century-old drought. Funny, all those warm-and-fuzzy Wrigley Field feelings are gone now, at least beyond the Friendly Confines. strong>K: KERSHAW — /strong>He tied for the major league lead in wins and won his fifth ERA title. He's a three-time Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star. But will anyone get more scrutiny in the postseason than Clayton Kershaw? Probably not, because the LA lefty is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in the postseason. strong>L: LOUSY WEATHER — /strong>Too bad, the temperature is often better suited for snowballs than baseballs. It was in the low 40s at Wrigley last year, and just imagine how it might feel in Denver or Minneapolis. If you want clear conditions, root for Arizona vs. Houston and their retractable roofs. strong>M: MANAGERS — /strong> Twin Cities native Paul Molitor, Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks and Bud Black of the Rockies are first-time skippers in the playoffs. Washington's Dusty Baker is back for his ninth try, still seeking that elusive first World Series championship. strong>N: NETTING — /strong>Fan safety has drawn special focus ever since a 1-year-old girl was recently hit by Todd Frazier's 105 mph foul ball at Yankee Stadium. Of the teams in these playoffs, three already had extended the netting to screen spectators: Houston, Washington and Minnesota. The Yankees say they'll have it next year. strong>O: OCTOBER — /strong>Of course. But if the World Series goes to Game 7, they'll go beyond Halloween and play on Nov. 1. strong>P: PUERTO RICO — /strong> Carlos Beltran, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa are among the many players from Puerto Rico trying to raise money and awareness for the damage done to their island by Hurricane Maria. Look for messages on caps and shoes over the next few weeks. strong>Q: QUICK? — /strong>Extra mound conferences, longer TV commercials, more pitching changes, they all contribute to slowing down the pace in the playoffs. MLB wants to speed up the action and avoid a repeat from last year, when postseason games averaged almost 3 1/2 hours. Not a good sign that regular-season games this year took more than 3 hours, 5 minutes on average, the longest ever. strong>R: ROOKIES — /strong>Yankees behemoth Aaron Judge broke the major league record with 52 home runs by a rookie, Dodgers surprise Cody Bellinger set the NL mark with 39. Other newcomers who could make an impact: Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, Cubs outfielder/infielder Ian Happ and 33-year-old Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel. strong>S: STREAKS — /strong> Jose Ramirez and the Indians set an AL record by winning 22 straight, the Dodgers dropped 11 in a row for their worst skid since moving from Brooklyn. A year after winning its first six postseason games, and in this season of streaks, Cleveland hopes to do it again. strong>T: TRADES — /strong>Justin Verlander (5-0, 1.06 ERA for Houston), J.D. Martinez (29 homers in 62 games for Arizona) and Jose Quintana (7-3, 3.74 for the Cubs) are some of the stars who were acquired in midseason trades. Yu Darvish, David Robertson and Eduardo Nunez also gave their new teams a boost. strong>U: UMPIRES — /strong>It won't be long before some team is hollering about an ump's strike zone. Those calls can't be contested, but others can. Some teams are very good at getting them overturned (Joe Girardi and the Yankees won 72 percent of their challenges). Others, not so much (the Nationals were right only 36 percent). strong>V: VOTING — /strong>All ballots for MVP, Cy Young and other major awards must be sent before the playoffs begin. These honors will generate plenty of debate before the winners are announced in November. Altuve or Judge, Kluber or Sale? strong>W: WILD CARDS — /strong> Madison Bumgarner and the 2014 Giants are the only wild-card team to win the World Series since MLB went to a one-and-done format in 2012. Before that, five wild cards took the title: Cardinals (2011), Red Sox (2004), Marlins (2003, 1997) and Angels (2002). strong>X: XANDER BOGAERTS — /strong> Perhaps the Boston shortstop might be the next infielder to really break out in postseason. Think Javier Baez, Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist and Alcides Escobar in recent years. strong>Y: YANKEE STADIUM — /strong> The playoffs begin the Bronx, with Yankees youngster Luis Severino starting the AL wild-card game, taking on Ervin Santana and the Twins. strong>Z: ZACK GREINKE — /strong>The Arizona ace is set to throw the first pitch in Wednesday's NL wild-card game at home against a familiar opponent. He's 2-1 in five starts vs. Colorado this year. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2017

Federer through to 2nd round at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Defending champion Roger Federer began his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Denis Istomin. Playing before a capacity crowd of more than 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena, Federer broke Istomin's serve at 2-2 in the third set on the way to his seventh win in a row without a loss against the Uzbekistan player. Federer's seventh Australian Open title would be the most by any player. Novak Djokovic, who plays his first-round match on Tuesday, and Roy Emerson, also have six wins each at the Australian Open, although Emerson's wins were before the start of the Open era in 1968. A win in Melbourne would also be Federer's 100th tour-level title, the second man after Jimmy Connors to win 100 titles. Connors had 109......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Serena Williams shooting for Slam history

Serena Williams has adopted a low profile ahead of the Australian Open, but rival players admit the American's shadow looms large in Melbourne as she eyes a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam crown. Williams won her 23rd title and seventh at Melbourne Park while eight weeks pregnant two years ago, and now attempts to match Margaret Court's mark of 24 singles majors on the Australian's home soil. The 37-year-old's last outing on tour was her meltdown in losing the US Open final to Naomi Osaka in September and she enters the season-opening Slam as the 16th seed. Yet she has proved in the past that such numbers mean little to her and Osaka said most in the locker room believed the vetera...Keep on reading: Serena Williams shooting for Slam history.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 13th, 2019

Australian Open: History beckons as Serena Williams shoots for Slam history

Serena Williams is back in Melbourne as hot favorite to repeat her 2017 Australian Open win and claim a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam with rivals, including defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, battling health issues and poor form. Williams won her 23rd title and seventh at Melbourne Park while eight weeks pregnant two years ago, and now attempts to match Margaret Court's mark of 24 singles majors on the Australian's home soil. The 37-year-old enters the tournament ranked 16 in the world but has proved in the past that such numbers mean little to her, despite fresh memories of her meltdown in losing the US Open final to Naomi Osaka in September. Her 2017 triumph Down Un...Keep on reading: Australian Open: History beckons as Serena Williams shoots for Slam history.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 8th, 2019

10 can’t-miss moments in sports for 2019

2018 is already in the books. Now, we look forward to the next chapters we’re all about to read in 2019. Laban Azkals in AFC Asian Cup – January The Azkals will enter historic grounds as early as January as they play for the first time in the AFC Asian Cup in 2019. Their ticket was booked after crushing Tajikistan in a 2-1 home victory early in 2018. With a world-renowned mentored on their side in Sven-Goran Eriksson and veteran national players, the Azkals will travel to the United Arab Emirates for the continental showdown. The Azkals kick off their 2019 AFC Cup Campaign on January 7th against South Korea, followed by a match against China PR on January 11th, before closing out the Group Stage on January 16th against Kyrgyzstan.  Newest season of the oldest professional league in Asia – January After just roughly a month of break from basketball action, the oldest professional league in Asia is back. The PBA will be kicking off its 44th season on January 13 with San Miguel defending its Philippine Cup title. Aside from that, marquee rookies such as CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, and Paul Desiderio are all set to play their first professional games with their respective teams. Up next on Pacman’s list – January The Filipinos will be treated to quality boxing as early as January 19 when Manny Pacquiao defends his WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship against challenger American Adrien Broner. After two years of fighting outside the US, Pacquiao will be back in Las Vegas to defend his title against a tough challenger in Broner. Just like old times, Freddie Roach will be back in Pacquiao's corner, this time serving as a consultant. Fanning the flames for a place in FIBA World Cup 2019 – February For the Philippines to be back in the FIBA World Cup, these are the things that need to happen: we must sweep out last two games then Japan must lose at least one of its last two games – giving us the third spot in Group F. Alternatively, we can pin our hopes on China winding up in the top four of its group – giving Groups E and F four berths apiece. Gilas Pilipinas begins its trek through that long and winding road away from home up against Qatar. All teams are teams-to-beat in UAAP 81 Volleyball – February The exciting and highly entertaining collegiate volleyball league is back on February 16. Things to watch out for? La Salle's bid for their fourth consecutive title, Ateneo's face post-Tai Bundit era, UP's confident aura coming off two major preseason championships, and UST's game-changing rookies. Eaglets-Bullpups Finals rematch or not – March Without a doubt, Ateneo and NU, the very same two teams that battled in the Finals last year, are the favorites to go all the way back to the champipnship round in the ongoing season. After all, the Blue Eaglets still have 7-foot-1, 16-year-old Kai Sotto and the Bullpups boast of the deepest roster in all of high school. After the first round of eliminations, however, it’s also clear that RJ Abarrientos-led FEU-Diliman and Joem Sabandal-fronted Adamson have other plans. For sure, something’s gotta give. Alab Pilipinas’ shot at history – April In the almost decade-long history of the Asean Basketball League, no team has won back-to-back championships. Alab Pilipinas is here to change that with the Puerto Rican pair of Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos showing the way alongside two-time Local MVP Ray Parks Jr. No doubt, this is the most talented team in franchise history and as such, nothing but a second straight title will be an acceptable outcome. The NCAA is five years away from its centennial celebration – July The first collegiate league in the country is approaching rarified air. Set to open its milestone mark 95th Season, the same old intensity is to be expected in the NCAA. The protagonists, however, may very well be different as all of last year’s Final Four teams will now be missing their main men – Robert Bolick for San Beda, CJ Perez for LPU, Bong Quinto for Letran, and Prince Eze for Perpetual. Is the UAAP 82 Basketball crown Katipunan’s to keep – September In Season 82, all teams will be seeking to nip the dynasty that the Ateneo Blue Eagles are trying to build. After going for back-two-back last season, all eyes will still be on them as their enter the season with an intact core. However, just like Season 81 it will not be a walk in the park with all contenders striving to match their caliber through massive recruitment, coach changes, and tough training camps. Filipino hospitality in SEA Games 2019 – November For the first time since 2005, the SEA Games will be played in Manila. That means that, at long last, our regional neighbors will yet again experience that world-renowned warmth of the Philippines and its people. Make no mistake, however, the Filipinos are all set to go all-out and dominate the medal tally – whether that be basketball in Manila or athletics and aquatics in Clark......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2018

Firmino helps rampant Liverpool open 9-point lead in EPL

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Roberto Firmino scored with an impudent no-look finish. There were jubilant cries of "Ole!" as Liverpool played possession football near the end, and the final whistle was met with a chant of "We shall not be moved" from The Kop. Juergen Klopp's players look unstoppable as they march toward a first English top-flight title since 1990. And they are having fun at the same time. In the latest statement victory in its unbeaten start to the Premier League season, Liverpool overwhelmed Arsenal's meek challenge in a 5-1 win at Anfield on Saturday, with Firmino scoring a hat trick and Mohamed Salah invariably among the goals. A ninth straight league victory opened a nine-point lead over second-placed Tottenham, which unexpectedly lost 3-1 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers in its first match since seriously entering the title-race conversation. Manchester City will climb back into second spot, and within seven points of the lead, if it beats Southampton on Sunday. But there is already an ominous feel about Liverpool's ruthless performances, and it is now 20 league games undefeated for Klopp's men. "I'm not the smartest person in the world but I'm really not an idiot," Klopp said. "It's not important how many points you are ahead in December ... if we drop three points, the next headline is, 'Are they nervous now?'." Liverpool received huge help from their rivals on Saturday. Tottenham started it by appearing to run out of energy in the loss to Wolves at Wembley Stadium, with all of the visitors' goals coming in the final 18 minutes. Then Arsenal, arriving as England's fifth best team, produced a shambolic defensive display that Liverpool's devastating front three happily capitalized on. Sadio Mane was the other scorer. Arsenal mistakes preceded at least four of Liverpool's goals, two of them being penalties after clumsy challenges by Sokratis and Sead Kolasinac. Salah converted the first to make it 4-1 in first-half injury time and gave up spot-kick duties to allow Firmino to complete his hat trick in the 65th. "So, 2018 ends with a Christmas present from Mo Salah," Klopp said. "It was one of the nicest things I have seen in my life." TOTTENHAM CRUMBLES Having the Premier League's most punishing schedule over the Christmas period caught up with Tottenham against Wolves. It was the team's third game in six days — there is another one coming up on Tuesday, too — and it showed at Wembley as Wolves dominated the second half and scored through Willy Boly, Raul Jimenez and Helder Costa. Harry Kane, with a long-range effort off his left foot, netted for the third straight game to put Tottenham ahead in the 22nd minute. "We were wrong in the way we tried to play, too much long ball and our energy dropped in the second half," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. ANGRY RANIERI Claudio Ranieri had tough words for Aboubakar Kamara after the Fulham striker's stubbornness almost cost his side three precious points in its battle against relegation. After Fulham was awarded a spot kick in the 81st minute against Huddersfield, Kamara argued with Aleksandar Mitrovic — the team's designated penalty taker — before eventually taking it himself. He failed, with his shot lacking any conviction and being easily saved by Jonas Lossl. "I said to Kamara to leave the ball to Mitrovic, he is the man who shoots the penalties," Ranieri said. "It is unbelievable. He did not respect me, the club, the team and crowd. I spoke with him, it is not right. I wanted to kill him." Mitrovic spared Kamara's blushes by scoring in stoppage time to secure a 1-0 win and move Fulham four points above last-place Huddersfield. OTHER RESULTS Cardiff also scored in stoppage time to beat Leicester 1-0, with Victor Camarasa netting to earn the Welsh team its first away league win since getting promoted. Leicester was coming off impressive back-to-back wins over Chelsea and Manchester City. Brighton beat Everton 1-0, and Watford drew 1-1 at home to Newcastle......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Modric wins Balkan award ahead of Djokovic and Halep

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Croatia soccer star Luka Modric has been chosen Balkan athlete of the year. Modric won the Champions League with Real Madrid and then guided Croatia to the World Cup final in July, where the midfielder was voted player of the tournament. He also won the prestigious Ballon d'Or for the first time earlier in December. Tennis great Novak Djokovic of Serbia was second in the Balkan poll, and Romania's Simona Halep third. Djokovic raised his haul of major trophies to 14 with Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year, and Halep won the French Open for her first career Grand Slam title. The poll was organized by the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) and included the national news agencies of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2018

Nadal looks to Australian Open with confidence after surgery

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rafael Nadal is confident he can be fit for the Australian Open as he chases an 18th Grand Slam title. A right knee injury forced Nadal to retire from his U.S. Open semifinal in early September — his last competitive match — and the 32-year-old Spaniard had ankle surgery at the start of November. Asked Thursday to assess his fitness level out of 10 ahead of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, Nadal said: "I don't know . I am not that good with numbers. "I started about two weeks ago and I am taking small steps forward. I am just making sure I am moving forward and it's not a step backwards. I know I have time to be ready for Melbourne at 100 percent." The Australian Open starts Jan. 14. Nadal, who won his 17th Grand Slam at the French Open in June, said he was happy with his progress "but of course I need to prove myself in competitions and hopefully, playing here will help me take the first steps." The exhibition tournament also features top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who had surgery in February for an injured right elbow. "It's been a very exciting 12 months. Last year here, I was still carrying the injury of the elbow that resulted in the surgery," Djokovic said. "I am grateful that this season has taught me a lot about myself as a tennis player and as a person. I really had to dig deep to sort of turn the table in my favor." Djokovic, who raised his haul of major trophies to 14 this year with Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, said his aims had changed. "I feel I am not prioritizing success on the tennis court for the sake of success only as I used to do probably until about five years ago," Djokovic said. "For me, tennis is more of a platform now for other things — for the values that I want to share and the messages that I want to give out to the young generation." The exhibition tournament also features a one-off match between the Williams sisters — Venus and Serena — on Thursday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2018