Advertisements


Hamilton: Australian GP could be start of competitive season

By Justin Bergman, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Lewis Hamilton won the Formula One driver's title in three of the last four years, but the Mercedes driver said Thursday on the eve of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix that he believes this year could be one of the most competitive yet in the sport. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who pushed the British driver hard last season, performed well in testing a few weeks ago in Spain, along with teammate Kimi Raikkonen. And Hamilton said F1 fans will "be surprised just how competitive" Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will be in Melbourne after putting a frustrating and inconsistent 2017 behind them. "There's a lot of hype around our team," Hamilton said. "I'm excited to see how we all fare up when we get to practice." For Mercedes, the hype at the start of each season is well-deserved: the team has dominated Formula One since 2014, winning four straight constructors' championships and 63 of 79 total races. But Ferrari demonstrated it could challenge Mercedes for a good portion of last season — Vettel actually led Hamilton through 12 races before the Mercedes driver took the lead for good at the Italian Grand Prix. Vettel said although he still believes Hamilton is the favorite to win the title again this year, his team has reason to be confident. "Our car is great . there's plenty to look forward to," he said. "Usually around this point, you don't know where the others are. That's why it's a bit pointless to come here and say you'll blow everyone away based on testing. I think we are in good shape. We could be in better shape, but it's always like that." Hamilton and Vettel have something else to vie for this year — a chance to pull even with former Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio for second place on the all-time championship list. Both drivers are tied with four titles, one short of Fangio's five. Michael Schumacher leads the list with seven titles. But for both Hamilton and Vettel, this statistic isn't top of mind. At least not at this early point of the season. "It's a long, long season," Hamilton said. "You don't really think about what could be, in the sense of matching others." And don't count out Red Bull. After a disastrous 2017 that saw the team struggle with engine problems and Ricciardo and Verstappen fail to finish 13 races combined, Red Bull is coming into the new season with hopes of challenging for victories again. "I think the car, compared to last year, definitely made good improvements," said the 20-year-old Verstappen, who finished last season strongly with two wins and a second-place finish in his last six races. "From my personal feeling, we have quite a strong car, but we have to wait and see how good our overall package is with the straights here (in Melbourne)." Ricciardo said anything will be better than last year's Australian GP, when he crashed in qualifying, started the race from pit lane due to a mechanical problem and then was forced to retire on the 28th lap. "Last year, we missed the anthem on the grid because I was in the garage trying to get the (car) going. I missed a lot of the Sunday build-up which was not fun," he said. "So, for sure this preparation is going to make more fun this weekend and we'll see where that fun takes us." It could take Red Bull all the way to the top of the podium — a result that couldn't come at a better time for Ricciardo, whose contract with the team expires at the end of 2018. "He's in a great place still with Red Bull," Hamilton said. "I think this year, he can really have a fighting chance to win the championship." Ricciardo, who's also facing a spirited challenge from his precocious teammate for the No. 1 position on Red Bull, said he's putting contract talks on hold to focus on starting the season strongly. "This is the year," he said. "Obviously, our prep's been good and I really, really hope Lewis is right and we will have a chance to fight for title and that will ultimately make me happy." Hamilton, though, isn't about to give an inch. He sounded a bit world-weary on Thursday, saying that after 12 seasons he's "not the most excited" about doing media conferences anymore, but he believes he still has as much passion for the sport as he did when he started out. "In my mind, I'm trying to break down new barriers, push the envelope," he said. "I'm seeing how far I can take the opportunity I have and obviously the ability I have to my full potential. I don't know what that is, and that's what I'm discovering.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMar 23rd, 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

Red Bull gets unwanted Bahrain GP double as both cars retire

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Two races into the Formula One season and Red Bull has yet to secure a podium finish. The team got an unwanted double at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen retiring early on. Verstappen punctured his rear left tire when trying a risky overtaking move on the inside of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes after a frantic start. Verstappen rocketed up from 15th on the grid and almost overtook Hamilton — starting ninth — with an audacious move on the inside. But it came at a price as he retired soon after coming back into the pits. Hamilton was perhaps lucky to stay in the race after Verstappen came perilously close to shunting the world champion off the track. "There needs to be a certain respect between drivers. I need to watch it again, but it didn't feel like a respectful move," Hamilton said. "It was a silly move for him because he didn't finish the race and obviously he's tending to make quite a few mistakes recently." It has been a frustrating start to the season for Verstappen, who span after pushing his car too hard at the Australian GP two weeks ago. He finished sixth in Melbourne. "Due to the hit with Lewis we sustained some more severe damage than just the puncture," Verstappen said. "It was shaping up to be an exciting race." Verstappen, who has earned a reputation for his dazzling but somewhat risky driving, has clashed with senior drivers in the past. The 20-year-old Dutchman, however, did not feel he was in the wrong. "In my opinion there was plenty of room for the both of us to go around that corner," Verstappen said. Ricciardo started from fourth on the grid but was undone by an electrical failure after just one lap. "This sport can rip your heart out, it's brutal sometimes," the Australian driver said. "Coming in to turn eight I lost all power, everything switched off without warning and I couldn't do anything." Ricciardo had topped first practice on Friday, boosting his confidence. "I really felt like we were going to be in with a good chance," he said. "Being out so early in a race is just the worst feeling, especially when it's a night race and you are up all day waiting for those two hours and after two minutes it's over." Red Bull enjoyed a strong finish last year from Verstappen and some encouraging pre-season testing raised expectations for 2018. "A brutally harsh race for us today," team principal Christian Horner said. "It is extremely disappointing, particularly when we had a race car today that was capable of challenging Ferrari and Mercedes. Thankfully the next race is only one week away." Red Bull will hope to finally make the podium at the Chinese GP next weekend......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2018

Vettel holds off Hamilton to win Australian GP

By Justin Bergman, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Believing his Ferrari still lacks the race pace to fully challenge Mercedes in Formula One, Sebastian Vettel will take a little luck when he can get it. On Sunday at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, his Ferrari team benefitted not only from a smart pit-stop strategy, but also the fortuitous emergence of a safety car midway through the race that helped Vettel take the lead from rival Lewis Hamilton and hold on for victory. "We got a bit lucky, but we'll take it," Vettel said. "We're not yet there where we want to be. . But I think it gives us a good start, a good wind and fresh motivation for the coming weeks." It was the 48th race win of Vettel's career and his 100th podium finish, coming in his 200th F1 race. The German becomes the fourth driver to claim 100 podium finishes, joining Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost. Vettel finished the race a full five seconds ahead of Hamilton, who started from pole and had made several late attempts to catch the Ferrari but couldn't manage to pass on the narrow Albert Park circuit. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen finished third, denying Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo a chance to become the first Australian driver to secure a podium place at the Australian GP. A resurgent Fernando Alonso of McLaren made a bold run to finish in fifth place, holding off a spirited challenge by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who recovered after losing control of his car and doing a 360-degree spin early in the race to take sixth. Hamilton looked comfortable up front for the first 20 laps before deciding to pit, giving up the lead to Vettel. The race then took a dramatic turn when Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean suffered calamitous back-to-back pit stops midway through the race. Both drivers had been running strongly in fourth and fifth places, respectively, but were forced to stop immediately after coming out of pit lane with loose wheels. The virtual safety car emerged as race marshals removed Grosjean's car from the circuit and Vettel took advantage of the slowdown to pit and change tires. He came out of the pit lane just ahead of a confused Hamilton, who got on the radio to ask his team what had just happened. "Why did you not tell me Vettel was in the pits?" Hamilton asked. "We thought we were safe, but there's obviously something wrong," his team responded. When racing resumed, Hamilton stayed close to Vettel's Ferrari, trailing by less than a second for more than 10 laps, but was unable to find space on the tight circuit to pass the German. With victory looking increasingly out of reach, Hamilton then eased up toward the end to conserve his engine for future races. Hamilton said after the race that he still wasn't clear exactly what happened. "I think just disbelief was really from that moment until the end. Just disbelief," he said. "I had extra tools and could have been further ahead by the first pit stop. There were so many good things we could have done." Vettel's victory comes a day after Hamilton set a blistering track record to capture pole position nearly 0.7 of a second ahead of the rest of the field, a massive margin that raised concerns among some teams that Mercedes had the speed to dominate yet another Formula One season. But Vettel said he believed Ferrari would fare better in race conditions — and he was right. "I think we didn't have the true race pace to match them but we weren't that far off," he said. "Even though we were probably lucky with the virtual safety car, we still had enough pace to stay ahead and make it very difficult for him to be close and try and do something." Ricciardo also pushed Raikkonen hard for the entire second half of the race for a chance at a podium spot, but the Ferrari driver put in a masterful drive to hold him off and maintain third. "I think we're pretty close with Ferrari and our race pace is strong," Ricciardo said. "Being so close to the podium and getting fastest lap is definitely an encouraging way to start the season." Alonso also put several dispiriting years of technical failures with McLaren's Honda-made engines behind him, securing his best race result since late 2016 with the team's new Renault engines. Renault's Nico Hulkenberg finished in seventh place, just ahead of the other Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, who crashed in qualifying and ended up starting in 15th place on the grid after incurring a penalty for switching out his damaged gearbox. McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne finished in ninth place, followed by Renault's Carlos Sainz in 10th......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018

McLaren shows new fight and speed at Australian GP

By Justin Bergman, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — For three years, McLaren's Fernando Alonso could only dream of having a car reliable enough to compete with the top teams in Formula One. Or at least finish races. In the first race of the new F1 season, Alonso showed that his team now has new fight since switching from its Honda-made engines to ones made by Renault as he took fifth place with a strong performance at the Australian Grand Prix, while his teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, finished ninth. "The last couple of years have been difficult, and I think the winter has been difficult, as well," Alonso said, referring to technical mishaps in off-season testing that limited McLaren to the fewest laps of the 10 teams running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. "And now we've come here and both cars have scored points — one in the top five. We should be proud of that, but I think there's a lot more to come from McLaren." After several years marked by technical issues and race retirements — Alonso failed to finish 17 races over three seasons — the team's fortunes are starting to look up. After starting 10th on the grid, Alonso fought hard against Red Bull and Renault for much of Sunday's race, managing to hold off numerous pass attempts by talented 20-year-old Max Verstappen of Red Bull towards the end to secure fifth place. This matched his best finish of the past three seasons. McLaren also benefitted from the dual retirement of the Haas cars, which had been running well in the top five before mishaps during their pit stops forced them to drop out. Still, Alonso sent notice to his competitors — and his own team — that more should be expected of the once-proud McLaren team this season. After qualifying on Saturday, he promised that McLaren would score "big points" this weekend, and at one point during Sunday's race, he even barked at his own race engineer, "Speak up a little bit, it is a long race and you are losing the energy already." After Sunday's strong race, Alonso set his sights on challenging Red Bull this season — a team that had been in a different league from McLaren in recent years. "This is only our first race together with Renault, and some updates will come in the next few races," he said. "We can start to look ahead a little bit and Red Bull will be the next target." This is a big turnaround from just a couple weeks ago when McLaren racing director Eric Boullier couldn't even guarantee McLaren would put a race-ready car on the track for the Australian GP after dismal testing results. On Sunday, Boullier said his team now believes it can be competitive again. "We're encouraged by the potential our car has shown in the first race of the season, but also reliability-wise we had a trouble-free weekend, which is a relief after the issues we had in winter testing," he said. McLaren has eight constructor championships and 12 driver titles to its name. But its last driver title was in 2008 and its last grand prix victory in 2012. It has been four years since one of its drivers finished on a podium. If he keeps driving this way, Alonso could be close to getting back there very soon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018

Vettel holds off Hamilton to win Australian GP

MELBOURNE, Australia --- Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel captured his third Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, taking advantage of a well-timed, mid-race safety car to take the lead and holding off his hard-charging Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton in a dramatic start to the new Formula One season. It was the 100th podium of Vettel's career and it came in his 200th F1 race. The German becomes the fourth driver to claim 100 podium finishes, joining Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost. Vettel finished the race a full five seconds ahead of Hamilton, who started from pole and had made several late attempts to catch the Ferrari but couldn't manage to pass on the narrow Albert ...Keep on reading: Vettel holds off Hamilton to win Australian GP.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018

Even without Serena, Aussie Open women s field still tough

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Bottas has Hamilton in a spin at season-ending Abu Dhabi GP

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Performing celebratory spins around the track was about as emotional as it got for Valtteri Bottas, after he beat his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. Hamilton joined the straight-faced Finnish driver in performing spins — known in Formula One as donuts — having already sealed his fourth world title before the season's finale. The race offered little excitement, but there wasn't much to fight over as the serious stuff had already been pretty much decided. Sebastian Vettel joined them on the podium, finishing third — and second overall — in an anti-climax to a season that had promised so much for Ferrari as it hoped to win its first drivers' title since 2007. As the three drivers soaked each other with celebratory bottles on the podium, Hamilton used his to douse Vettel as the German driver tried to turn and protect himself. It seemed a triumphant and fitting image, victor over vanquished. Vettel was already thinking of drowning his sorrows, perhaps understandably considering how his title challenge collapsed spectacularly following the summer break. "Probably find something to drink tonight and sober up tomorrow," Vettel said. "Congratulations to Lewis on his season. He was the better man. I hate to say it but he deserved it." Starting from pole position for the second straight race Bottas secured the third win of his career — all since joining from Williams. His 22nd career podium was his 13th with Mercedes. "It is a really important win for me after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year," said Bottas, who had a mid-season slump that damaged his confidence. "We Finns don't show much emotion but it doesn't mean we don't have any. I am so happy." Bottas placed third overall, 12 points behind Vettel and 58 behind Hamilton. "Hopefully better next year," Bottas said. He has only been given a one-year extension to his Mercedes contract, having joined this year as an emergency replacement for 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg. Having sealed the title, Hamilton had no need to chase Bottas too hard. The 32-year-old British driver finished 4 seconds behind and did not get close enough to attack on a track he called among the worst for overtaking in F1. "Never going to overtake unless he makes a massive mistake," Hamilton said. The race started at 5 p.m. local time with the sun setting on the desert setting of the Yas Marina circuit and finished under floodlights. Vettel, who won the last race in Brazil, finished about 20 seconds behind Bottas. "After three or four laps, I just couldn't go any faster," Vettel said. Vettel's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen — the 2007 F1 champion — was fourth and also moved up to fourth in the standings. Hamilton clinched the title — his third with Mercedes — in Mexico two races ago when he ended Vettel's fading hopes. The German driver's challenge evaporated in the Asian heat between September and October. Perfectly poised to regain the championship lead, he crashed out of the Singapore GP from pole position. "It's a bit different if you finish the race rather than if you don't finish the first lap," Vettel said with evident sarcasm. Then, plagued by reliability issues unbefitting a team of Ferrari's stature, he started last and finished fourth at the Malaysian GP. Bad luck struck again when he qualified third before retiring from the Japanese GP. "Mercedes has been more consistent," Vettel said generously. "It's a straight fight and they just did better." Continuing the sportsmanlike mood, Hamilton added: "Looking forward to another battle next year." Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished the race in fifth while teammate Daniel Ricciardo retired, dropping to fifth in the standings. The other wins for Bottas this season came in Russia and in Austria — also from pole. Hamilton won nine races this year — having won 10 during the past two seasons and a career-best 11 in 2014. The lower total is due to Ferrari's marked improvement this year. "I don't think it's a shame to come second in the way that we did," Vettel said. "But it's not what we want." Bottas made a clean start while Hamilton held off Vettel, who locked his left front tire angling into the first corner. Vettel was the first of the trio to pit for new tires. Bottas did one lap later, leaving Hamilton briefly in front. At much the same time, Ricciardo retired, leaving his stranded Red Bull on a patch of grass as he hitched a lift on the back of a scooter. It was the third time in four races — and sixth this year — that the Australian driver has failed to finish. He is weighing up his Red Bull future. Felipe Massa, the 2008 F1 runner-up to Hamilton, finished 10th in his last race......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2017

Osaka vs. Kvitova for Australian Open title, No. 1 ranking

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Naomi Osaka never made it past the fourth round at any of the first 10 Grand Slam tournaments of her career. Now, still just 21, she's suddenly on the verge of a second consecutive major championship. And the No. 1 ranking, too. Osaka moved one victory away from adding the Australian Open trophy to the one she collected 4½ months ago at the U.S. Open, using her smooth power to produce 15 aces and groundstroke winners at will while beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals Thursday. "I just told myself to regroup in the third set and just try as hard as I can," said Osaka, who saved four break points in the last set and finished the match with an ace at 115 mph (185 kph). "I was so scared serving second serves. I was like, 'Oh, my God. Please!" Osaka said. "Somehow, I made it. I guess that's experience." A day after erasing four match points and a 5-1 deficit in the third set to stun Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, Pliskova could not produce the same kind of comeback. Instead it is Osaka, the only Japanese woman to win a major singles title, who will face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on Saturday. The winner will rise to the top of the WTA rankings for the first time; Osaka is currently No. 4, Kvitova is No. 6. In the men's semifinals, Rafael Nadal continued his relentless roll through the draw by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 at night. Nadal has not dropped a set as he bids for a second Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall. Osaka's fourth-round finish at Melbourne Park a year ago was her best showing at a major until last year's U.S. Open, where she outplayed Williams in the final. A victory over Kvitova would make Osaka the first woman to win two Slams in a row since Williams claimed four straight across the 2014-15 seasons. Two years ago, Kvitova missed the Australian Open, just weeks after her left hand was stabbed by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic. Back at her best during what she calls her "second career," Kvitova surged to a 7-6 (2), 6-0 victory against 35th-ranked American Danielle Collins after Rod Laver Arena's retractable roof was closed as the temperature soared toward 105 degrees (40 Celsius). Kvitova reached her first major final since the December 2016 knife attack that led to hours of surgery on the hand she holds her racket with — and first since winning Wimbledon for the second time in 2014. "I didn't know even if I (was) going to play tennis again," Kvitova said. "It's been a long journey." Against Collins, a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Virginia who was 0-5 at Slams until this one, Kvitova was more aggressive throughout, mixing big lefty forehands and well-timed pushes forward to the tune of a 30-9 edge in total winners. But the key to the outcome might very well have been what happened at 4-all after 35 minutes of action: That's when the decision finally was made to close the 15,000-seat stadium's cover, drawing cheers of approval from broiling spectators. Kvitova probably wanted to applaud, too. "I was happier than the fans that the roof closed," she said afterward. "I like to play indoors. It helped me a little bit." She's made clear over the years she is not a huge fan of playing in stifling heat. Not too many people truly are, of course, but Collins is OK with it and thought the roof should have stayed open. "I grew up in Florida and am used to it being really hot all the time. So I kind of embrace that very well," Collins said. "Indoor tennis is a different game. Certainly had its effect." When play resumed after a five-minute delay, it went from being completely even to tilted in Kvitova's favor. She dominated the tiebreaker and the second set to stretch her winning streak to 11 matches. Osaka, meanwhile, extended her Slam run to 13 matches while putting a stop to Pliskova's 10-0 start to the season. Osaka accumulated a 56-20 advantage in winners — and held on when it all could have slipped away. She began the day having won 58 matches in a row after taking the first set, but that seemed in danger when Pliskova broke to end the second and had three break points to go up 2-0 in the third. But Osaka steeled herself there, erasing the first break chance with a huge forehand, the second with a down-the-line backhand winner. On the third, another terrific backhand forced a forehand error into the net by Pliskova, who cracked her racket against the blue court. When Pliskova netted a return of an 83 mph (133 kph) second serve to make it 1-all, Osaka tugged at the brim of her pink visor and let out a big exhale. The match would continue for another 28 minutes, but it basically was done, then and there. That stretch began a nine-point, three-game run for Osaka, and she was on her way. She would face one last break point at 4-3, but saved it with a 108 mph (174 kph) ace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2019

PVL: Valdez, Pablo headline PVL All-Star Game

Power-hitters Alyssa Valdez and Myla Pablo will headline their respective teams when the Premier Volleyball League’s biggest names collide in the PVL All-Star Game slated on February 2, Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Two-time champion and reigning Open Conference Most Valuable Player Valdez of Creamline will take on the squad of former Pocari Sweat-Air Force star Pablo in a fun and competitive match to kick off another promising season for the PVL, which is on its third year. The game is set at 4:00 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream. There will also be an autograph signing and skills games for fans before the game. Joining Valdez’s squad are Deanna Wong, Maddie Madayag and Dani Ravena of Ateneo de Manila University; Chie Saet and Jessey De Leon of PetroGazz; Creamline’s Michele Gumabao, Mel Gohing and Risa Sato; BanKo’s Nicole Tiamzon and Kathy Bersola, Grazielle Bombita of Iriga-Navy and Isa Molde of University of the Philippines. PetroGazz head coach Jerry Yee will handle the team with Adamson mentor Air Padda as his assistant. Backing up Pablo are Creamline’s Jia Morado and Jema Galanza; Jem Ferrer and Joy Dacoron of BanKo; Ateneo’s Kat Tolentino, Vanessa Gandler and Bea De Leon; Jonah Sabete and Cherry Nunag of PetroGazz; Tacloban’s Dimdim Pacres; Dell Palomata of Pocari Sweat-Air Force; and Thang Ponce of Adamson-Akari. Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro will call the shots for the team with Jasper Jimenez of Pocari Sweat-Air Force as his assistant.        Online selling of tickets will start on January 26. Ringside tickets are sold at P500 each and will include a free shirt and photo opportunity with the players. Lower box tickets cost P200 each while upper box passes are P50 each.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2019

Nadal, Sharapova and Wozniacki advance at Australian Open

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal has missed a lot of tennis since last September. He hasn't missed a beat. The No. 2-seeded Nadal had a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth on Monday in the first round of the Australian Open, his first match back on Rod Laver Arena since he had to retire during his quarterfinal match last year. The 17-time major winner hasn't played since retiring from his semifinal at the U.S. Open because of a knee injury, and then had surgery on his right ankle in November. He also withdrew from a tune-up tournament in Brisbane because of a muscle strain in his thigh, mainly as a precaution, to ensure he's fit for the season-opening major. "Not easy to come back after a lot of months of competition, especially against a player playing super aggressive every shot," Nadal said. "It's very difficult to start after an injury — I know it very well. "So that's an important victory because is the first victory since a while, and at the same time, because that gives me the chance to be on court again." Wearing a sleeveless top, he showed no signs of any issues against Duckworth. His only hiccup came when he served for the match in the ninth game of the third set and was broken. He returned the favor quickly, though, to seal his spot in the second round. Nadal has only lost twice in the first round at Grand Slams — to Steve Darcis at 2013 Wimbledon, and to Fernando Verdasco here in 2016. Maria Sharapova's record in the first round is good, too. She was the first of five Australian Open winners to play on Rod Laver Arena on Day 1, starting with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Harriet Dart. No. 2-ranked Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, opened with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Polona Hercog and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 6-4 in the first of the night matches on the main arena. Sharapova has the second-best record (behind Serena Williams) among active women's players in first-round matches at the majors, and she gave an illustration of why that's the case in a 63-minute disposal of Dart. Stung by a first-round loss at Wimbledon last year, 2008 Australian Open champion Sharapova said she couldn't afford to feel any empathy for Dart. "There is no time for that, I'm sorry to say ... when you're playing the first round of a Grand Slam," said Sharapova, who is still feeling pain in her right shoulder despite sitting out the end of last season after the U.S. Open. "I think I was just focused on not having a letdown." Also advancing were 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, No. 9 Kiki Bertens, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, local favorite Ash Barty, No. 19 Caroline Garcia, No. 20 Anett Kontaveit, No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko, No. 29 Donna Vekic and No. 31 Petra Martic. Katie Boulter earned the distinction of winning the first 10-point tiebreaker under the Australian Open's new system for deciding sets, and she celebrated twice. Boulter beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (6), including 10-6 in the tiebreaker. Boulter started celebrating and went to the net when she reached 7-4 in the tiebreaker, forgetting it wasn't a conventional count. The new rule was introduced to ensure matches don't get too lengthy — previously the third set in women's matches and the fifth set in men's matches at the Australian Open had to be decided by a two-game advantage. Fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson won his first match at Melbourne Park since 2015 when he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Also advancing on the men's side were No. 14 Stefanos Tsitsipas, no. 18 Diego Schwartzman, No. 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili, No. 20 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 26 Fernando Verdasco and No. 27 Alex de Minaur, who won the Sydney International final last weekend. It was high stakes when ninth-seeded John Isner lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) to No. 97-ranked Reilly Opelka in a match featuring two of the tallest players on tour. Tomas Berdych sent 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Kyle Edmund home early with right away with a 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 win over the No. 13 seed on Melbourne Arena in the match before five-time finalist Andy Murray took on Roberto Bautista Agut......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Nadal withdraws, Murray loses to Medvedev in Brisbane

By John Pye, Associated Press BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray lost his second-round match less than an hour after Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Brisbane International on Wednesday. Both players arrived in Australia after long injury breaks, and neither had played a competitive match since September. At least Murray completed two matches, playing on a protected ranking after an injury-interrupted 18 months, beating James Duckworth before losing to fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2. There were signs in both matches that he is still bothered by the hip problem which has derailed his last two seasons. The second-ranked Nadal had a first-round bye but withdrew on the eve of his scheduled second-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after having an MRI on a muscle strain in his left thigh. Nadal said he would keep practicing in Brisbane until the weekend, then head to Melbourne after a brief stopover in Sydney to prepare for the Australian Open. The 32-year-old Spaniard is confident he will be fit enough to compete at the season's first major, which starts on Jan. 14 at Melbourne Park. "After analyzing everything, (doctors) say that it's a very small thing, but can become a big thing, because a strain in the muscle is dangerous," Nadal said during a news conference staged while Murray was playing Medvedev on Pat Rafter Arena. "When you increase the intensity on the muscle competing, then there is a big risk to make something bigger." Also exiting the men's draw on Wednesday where defending champion Nick Kyrgios, who lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3, and third-seeded Kyle Edmund, who lost to Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (6), 6-4. Second-seeded Kei Nishikori and 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov had straight-set wins earlier to set up a quarterfinal showdown — a rematch of their final in 2017 — and fifth-seeded Milos Raonic advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over Miomir Kecmanovic. Anett Kontaveit beat fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova 7-5, 7-6 (1) to advance to the women's quarterfinals, and Anastasija Sevastova set up a match against U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka when she beat Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-0. Fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Marie Bouzkova, Ajla Tomljanovic beat Johanna Konta 6-2, 7-6 (2), and Donna Vekic ousted No. 6 Kiki Bertens 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5. Nadal withdrew after one match at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi before arriving this week in Australia, where he forecast another withdrawal when he said he wanted to focus on quality of his play over quantity of matches in his schedule this year. He played nine tournaments in 2018, winning five titles, including the French Open, in a season curtailed by knee and ankle injuries. "Probably I'm 100 percent in five days. And then I have plenty of time to prepare Melbourne," he said. "It's a waste to damage my body for one month if I keep playing here. After all the things that happened to me, probably I am not ready to assume that waste." Taro Daniel, a lucky loser from qualifying, will take Nadal's place in the Brisbane draw and will play Tsonga on Thursday. The absence of Nadal and Murray casts more focus on the Nishikori-Dimitrov quarterfinal match. Nishikori broke at love in the 11th game to seize momentum in a 7-5, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla in the second round. The sixth-seeded Dimitrov, who beat Nishikori in the 2017 final, had to withstand a late comeback from local favorite John Millman before winning 6-3, 6-4. He's using the quarterfinal match against Nishikori as a barometer for where his preparations stand for the Australian Open. "It's great. I mean it's right off the blocks," Dimitrov said. "It's perfect to play a match like that to kind of see where your game is at.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

Serena Williams wins Perth season-opener ahead of Grand Slam tilt

PERTH, Australia --- Serena Williams overcame a sluggish start to power past Maria Sakkari in straight-sets at the Hopman Cup on Monday in her first competitive match since melting down in the U.S. Open final. The 37-year-old was rusty and down an early break but did enough to record a comfortable 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory in one hour and 44 minutes in the women's singles match. The result leveled the tie between the United States and Greece, but Williams and playing partner Frances Tiafoe lost the later mixed doubles match in three sets to Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas . Even though both her ankles were strapped and required medical attention during the change of sets, Williams...Keep on reading: Serena Williams wins Perth season-opener ahead of Grand Slam tilt.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 31st, 2018

Reasons to watch 2018 slate of NBA X mas day games

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Bucks vs. Knicks (1am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Two words; Giannis Antetokounmpo. The most dominant force in the league this season resides in Milwaukee. That’s right, the Greek Freak sits atop the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder heading into the Christmas Day showcase games. And with good reason. The Bucks are riding the wave their dynamic superstar forward has created in his first season in Mike Budenholzer’s system. Open it up and enjoy because … The Bucks are more than a one-man show. Antetokounmpo should be joined on the All-Star team this season by Khris Middleton, who is playing at that level, and point guard Eric Bledsoe is shooting better than he ever has in Budenolzer’s aggressive, shooter-friendly system. Watching the Bucks try and set a record for three-pointers taken and made should be entertaining enough. But the Knicks will offer some entertainment value of their own as they attempt to match the Bucks shot-for-shot with Tim Hardaway Jr. leading the way. The gift we’re hoping for is … The Knicks could use a statement win before a global audience to jump start the post-Christmas portion of their season-long grind. The Bucks have spent most of this season frightening the competition, both in the Eastern Conference and beyond. They’ve got the gift that’ll keep on giving for years in Antetokounmpo, who’ll get another chance to show the basketball public that what they’ve hard about a contender rising in the Central Division is real. Thunder vs. Rockets (4am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Do we really need anyone to remind us to tune in for every Russell Westbrook-James Harden matchup for the foreseeable future? Didn’t think so. The matchup of the last two Kia MVPs winners is enough of an incentive to lock in on this one. And the fact that the Thunder occupy the space in the standings most thought was reserved for the Rockets only adds to the intrigue. Open it up and enjoy because … The real showstopper in this one isn’t either one of the MVP winners. Thunder swingman Paul George is the player you need to lock in on as he continues his dark horse MVP campaign for a much-improved team (the Thunder are light years away from the group that started the season 0-4). There are few soap operas better right now than the Rockets, who are dealing with yet another injury to All-Star point guard Chris Paul (hamstring) and a failure to play up to expectations that threatens to swallow up their season before Santa’s finished off his cookies and milk. The gift we’re hoping for is … What Westbrook and Harden wear into the building is worth a few moments of your time as these two fashion-forward superstars never fail to make an impression. But it’s the competitive fervor on the court that should provide the ultimate viewing pleasure. The Thunder would love to take over the position the Rockets held last season, as the legitimate threat to the Golden State Warriors’ stranglehold on the Western Conference throne. In the absence of a Christmas tilt against the two-time defending champs, the Rockets make an ideal fill in. Sixers vs. Celtics (6:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: The Eastern Conference version of Thunder-Rockets, the schedule makers look pretty good slotting the Sixers and Celtics in this spot. No one relishes an opportunity to take down a projected heavyweight the way the Sixers do (what else would you expect with Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid leading the charge?). The suddenly chummy Celtics, however, appear to be the team most eager to prove that they are indeed who we all thought they were in the summer, when they were the consensus pick to ascend to the top of the heap in place of Cleveland. Open it up and enjoy because … Kyrie Irving has embraced his role as the leader of this disjointed Celtics bunch in ways that fans in Cleveland have to be enjoying with an eyebrow raised. Kyrie trying to convince his young teammates to follow his lead is rich, given his reluctance to do exactly that when he was in their shoes. As far as rivalries go, this is perhaps the day’s deepest and most volatile. The Sixers are still smarting from that playoff ouster at the hands of the Celtics. And they won’t have ant sympathy for the Celtics as they continue their search for good health and better chemistry. The gift we’re hoping for is … A Ben Simmons-Kyrie point guard duel will make this game shine even brighter than usual. And they’re both more than capable of going off on the big stage. But the real treat here is going to be watching Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum match wits in what could be a preview of fireworks to come in a potential playoff matchup. Tatum’s sophomore season has been a bit choppier than expected. And Butler, whose shown a penchant for schooling youngsters (teammates and opponents) is surely betting on himself in this game within the game. Lakers vs. Warriors (9am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: With all of the recent history dripping off of this LeBron James-Warriors rivalry, the inclusion of the Los Angeles Lakers into the mix only serves to take this spectacle to the next level. LeBron insists this isn’t a measuring stick game for the upstart Lakers, not against a Warriors juggernaut that has won three of the last four Larry O’Brien trophies. Yeah, whatever you say big fella. Folks who haven’t watched a minute of NBA basketball season will be tuned into this one. Count on it. Open it up and enjoy because … Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have moved into that cosmic zone that only the all-time greats are capable of locating (see their work in their Monday, PHL time win over the Los Angeles Clippers for proof). We already know how the superstars respond in a matchup of this nature. The great unknown is how the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will react to the marquee spotlight at Oracle Arena. The Lakers’ youngsters have thrived at times and struggled at others in their first season inside the LeBron bubble. But they haven’t seen anything like what they’ll experience in Oakland on this night. The gift we’re hoping for is … Draymond Green hasn’t had a true breakout game since returning from his extended injury absence. With Lance Stephenson in uniform on the other side, the opportunity for fireworks would appear to be extremely high. We’d settle for some Finals-level intensity from both of the world class agitators in the building. That and vintage performances from LeBron, Steph, KD and Klay Thompson are expected. Anything else beyond that is really gravy on the best basketball meal of the day. Trail Blazers vs. Jazz (11:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: We’re dubbing the nightcap of the Christmas Day showcase the “Respect Bowl.” The Trail Blazers are always on the hunt for more respect and the Jazz, one of the trendy summer picks as a team poised to become a contender in the Western Conference this season, could stand to show a little self-respect in the way they tackle the remainder of this season. Open it up and enjoy because … Second-year Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is suffering from the same sophomore spell that has plagued Jayson Tatum in Boston. It’s one thing to surprise the basketball world as a rookie and another to come back better and even more dangerous the second time around. We’re betting on Spider showing up and showing out for the Christmas Day crowd. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Damian Lillard will not allow someone else to steal the spotlight from him. He warmed up for Mitchell and the Jazz by finishing off Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night. You know his swagger travels, so expect to see his competitive best against Mitchell and the Jazz. The gift we’re hoping for is … Joe Ingles stealing the show would make for an ideal end to a day full of some the league’s biggest and brightest superstars. And the sweet-shooting Jazz swingman is one of the league’s criminally underrated stars. It would also be nice to see the rest of that Jazz team we expected to make things interesting this season make an appearance. Christmas Day games have always served as a launching pad/turning point for teams willing to dive in. And the Blazers and Jazz both seem like prime candidates to take advantage of the opportunity. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2018

Zverev s ATP Finals win vs. Federer tainted by ball boy flub

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — After pulling off one of the biggest wins of his career, Alexander Zverev was left apologizing for an unforced error he didn't make. Zverev denied Roger Federer a shot at a 100th career title by beating the Swiss great 7-5, 7-6 (5) at the ATP Finals on Saturday to advance to the championship match against Novak Djokovic. Federer was leading the second-set tiebreaker 4-3 and in the ascendancy of a rally on a Zverev service point when a ball boy at the back of the court dropped a ball. Zverev immediately signaled for the point to be stopped and the umpire ordered the point to be replayed. Zverev served an ace before going on to close out the match moments later. "I want to apologize for the situation in the tiebreak," said Zverev, who was booed by some of the crowd during his on-court interview. "The ball boy dropped the ball so it's in the rules that we have to replay the point. "I'm a little bit upset about the whole situation because this is not how I wanted it to end." Zverev is the youngest player at 21 to reach the final since 2009 and the first from Germany since 1996. He will face five-time champion Djokovic, who defeated Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2 to extend his semifinal win-loss record at the tournament to 7-1. Federer, 37, was seeking a record-extending seventh title, but was unable to cope with the pressure created by Zverev's power and precision at the O2 Arena. "He (Zverev) apologized to me at the net," Federer said. "I was like, 'Buddy, shut up. You don't need to apologize to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals.' And you move on." An inspired series of shots earned Zverev the first break points of the match in the 12th game and Federer sent a forehand wide to fall behind. Federer willed himself to a break for 2-1 in the second set, but Zverev quickly composed himself to hit straight back in the following game. Zverev overcame the freak interruption to establish a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker, and Federer netted the simplest of forehand volleys to bring up match point. He saved the first, but Zverev confidently put away a backhand drive volley to set up a shot at the biggest title of his career and leave Federer waiting until next season for his 100th title. "Overall, I'm happy how the season went," said Federer, who picked up his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. "There's many positives. So I'm excited for next season." Despite having reached only one Grand Slam quarterfinal this year, Zverev is the only active player outside the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to have won three Masters titles. But victory at the tour's flagship event would exceed those achievements. "Novak right now is the best player in the world," said Zverev, who lost to Djokovic in the round robin. "You have to play your best game to even have a chance. I hope I'll be able to do that tomorrow." The Serb maintained his record of having not lost a set — or service game — at the tournament as he thrashed debutant Anderson to give himself the chance to join Federer on six titles. "I played very well in the group stage against Sascha (Zverev)," Djokovic said. "But I don't think he was close to his best." Djokovic won 20 out of 27 points on Anderson's second serve as he broke the South African twice in each set. "It was the best match I've played so far this week," Djokovic said. Having ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by defeating Anderson in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic went on to win his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open and has already sealed the year-end No. 1 ranking. The victory extended Djokovic's record to 35-2 since the start of Wimbledon, a tournament he began ranked 21st after a right elbow injury interrupted his first half of the season. "It's remarkable what he's done since Wimbledon," Anderson said. "It seems like he's definitely right back playing some of the best tennis of his career.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

Q& A: Hornets Walker starts season in scoring groove

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com With the new season underway, and with his game as hot as almost anyone to start, Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker was asked what impressed or surprised him about the first 10 days or so of 2018-19. “Nothing besides my own play,” Walker said, laughing after a shootaround Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Nothing besides seeing my name near the top of the NBA scoring, which is pretty weird.” Eh, maybe not so weird. Walker, a two-time All-Star, is the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer. At 28, the former ninth overall pick in the 2011 Draft is in his prime as a player. The 41 points he dropped on Milwaukee on opening night and the fact he’s gone for at least 23 every game since (with three more games of 30 or more) seems like the next logical step. It earned him the season’s first Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor and as Week 2 ended, his 31.7 ppg trailed only Golden State’s Stephen Curry (33.9) and Portland’s Damian Lillard (33.8). “It was [gratifying]. Who wouldn’t want it to keep going?” Walker told NBA.com. “I know teams will be gearing up on me and double-teaming me. But I just want to win, man. I want to get back to the playoffs any way possible. I don’t care what I average the rest of the year.” Walker, in the final year of a four-year, $48 million deal he signed in 2014, never has shot the ball so well -- 40.5 percent from the arc, 46.6 percent overall. Neither has he shot it so often and from such range. Walker is averaging 23 shots, including more than 11 3-point attempts. His usage rate of 33.5 trails only Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (35.1) and his 29.4 PER puts him ahead of Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Is it sustainable? That was one of multiple topics Walker talked about with NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner: *** Steve Aschburner: On Media Day, you made it sound as if you would hit this season hard from the start, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen. How do you explain it? Kemba Walker: I knew I had a good summer. I put in the work and the time and the effort to get better. And I’m healthy -- I haven’t felt healthy like this in a long time. Over the last three summers, I wasn’t healthy, having knee surgeries and ‘scopes. So I was rehabbing. This summer, I had a chance to work on my game. Being able to work on my shooting over a long period of time really helped as well. SA: You took as many 3FGAs last season as you shot your first two seasons combined. Now you’re launching them at a pace (11.3 per game) to break Steph Curry’s single season record (886). Is this a conscious change by you or a reaction to the league’s preferred style? KW: Both. The league definitely has changed from the time I first came in. Everybody’s shooting more threes, no matter their position. Me, I’ve just become more confident. I worked on my shot tremendously to get to this point. I’m comfortable now shooting it, whenever I can get to my spots. SA: What’s your preference -- pull-up threes, spot-up threes or those halfcourt threes like Steph takes? KW: Not at all [laughing]. Steph is a different type of shooter, maybe the best to ever shoot the basketball. But I’m comfortable shooting them however. It doesn’t matter. If I can get ‘em up, I try to make ‘em. But I do love for my teammates to create for me and get me some easy ones. It does take some stress, some pressure, off of me. SA: Your coach, James Borrego, has talked of using you more off the ball. Does that suit you? KW: It really helps. It gets me a little bit of rest, and it opens up a different dynamic in my game. As well as giving other guys a chance to have the ball in their hands and create for others. But the main thing is, it just keeps me fresher, which is huge for me. SA: What’s your take on the Charlotte rookies? KW: Oh, I’m a huge fan. Devonte’ [Graham] really hasn’t gotten a chance to play yet, but I’ve always been a huge fan, even when he was at Kansas. Just love his game, love his poise. And that’s skill -- I don’t think people understand how much of a skill it is to be poised, especially at a young age. It’s something that I didn’t have, something that took me a very long time to get. Miles [Bridges], he’s a hard-playing kid. Smart, always in the right spot on both ends of the floor. I can see him getting more minutes as the season progresses. SA: Malik Monk is a second-year guy who didn’t have the most satisfying rookie season. What do you see from him, and can he become a reliable backcourt mate? KW: Oh yeah, he’s growing. Every single day. His efficiency will come. He needs time to learn, needs time to develop, to figure out where his shots are going to come. He’s getting better already. He’s passing the ball really well, getting other guys involved. He needs to know we need him every night, with him coming off the bench for us. SA: Your rookie season was about as challenging as could be -- delayed by a lockout, rushed through training camp and a quickie preseason, and then a 7-59 experience. Did that set you back as a player? KW: Nah, it wasn’t a setback. It was humbling. I took it as a point in my career where I was going through adversity. It was tough -- nobody likes to lose -- and through my basketball career I felt I had been a winner. But I just stuck to it, just kept working hard. SA: You said you don’t want to talk anymore about your free agency next summer -- and your general manager, Mitch Kupchak, is on record saying, “Our intention is for him to end his career in a Hornet uniform.” Some people wonder what the market might be, though, given how many terrific point guards are out there. So let’s address that another way: what is it like competing with all those rivals? KW: It’s unbelievable, man. Every night. Every single night, somebody is there to … I can’t even explain it. Every team, there’s so many great point guards out there who are just ready to showcase their talents. There are young guys ready to show how good they are. Yeah, it’s a point guard league. SA: We’re seeing more and more teams switching everything defensively. How hard is that on a 6-foot-1 point guard? KW: It’s … tough sometimes. Some matchups, you don’t want to get. But I rely on my teammates to help out as much as possible. The most challenging part probably is boxing guys out. But I’m always up for the challenge. SA: Some players talk or at least play like defense is optional. Your thoughts? KW: Not at all. I’m paid to do it all. It’s not even about being paid -- I’m just competitive. I want to play defense. I want to score. I want to do it all. SA: I’ve often wondered what it’s like to play for the team that Michael Jordan owns. Other teams, the owners aren’t basketball experts. But that’s not the case for the Hornets. Is it intimidating? KW: I wouldn’t say intimidating. I love it. I want my owner to have played. He knows what’s going on, he knows how it feels after losses, after wins. Traveling. Being tired. He’s been through it. He knows what it takes to win games in this league. Even though basketball’s a bit different now from when he played, but still, he knows. I feel like I’m at an advantage because I can go to him, I can ask him things. Or he can just come to me, or text me or call me to let me know things. And let me know how to get past things. No, it’s an honor for us, it’s an honor for me to have him as an owner. SA: How is basketball different from when Jordan played? KW: For me, just the threes. A lot of bigs shooting threes. The bigs are different in general, you know? Back with MJ, I feel like the shooting guards and the forwards were dominant, and it was more of a post-up league. Now it’s a point guard’s league for the most part. And it’s not a post-up league much anymore. There are so many threes up in the air. SA: Do you little guys resent the stretch-fours and stretch-fives coming out onto your turf these days? KW: Yeah, man, it’s crazy. But it’s fun. Just seeing the development and the change. Even from when I first got in the league it wasn’t like that. But guys are so talented nowadays, it’s unbelievable. SA: Tell me about the Big Brothers Big Sisters work you do, mentoring four kids -- two boys and two girls -- in the Charlotte area. KW: Just to be in their lives. I take ‘em out to eat, take ‘em to Dave & Buster’s every now and then. It’s fun. I try to avoid the cameras. It’s not for social media. It’s not for anything but them. The kids are doing great in school. That’s the biggest progress, that’s what you want. They’ve really started to love basketball now -- they come to games sometimes. It’s been fun to see them grow, each and every time I see them. One of the kids, his mom passed away. I know it’s been a struggle for him. For me to be able to help get his mind off of that for a time, just be there for him, that’s definitely rewarding for me but I hope it’s more rewarding for him. SA: You’re in your eighth season, and you’ve played a total of 11 playoff games. What stands out for you about the postseason? KW: I remember every game. We played Miami twice. The first year [2014] was when they had LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They swept us, but I thought we played really well. Obviously it wasn’t enough -- they had three Hall of Famers. I remember the level of intensity those guys played with. I remember telling myself, the next time I get to the playoffs, I’m going to try my best to play like that. The next time [2016], that’s what I did. People thought we might get swept again, but we went to seven games. It was really fun. The whole atmosphere was so intense. I loved it. You have to take your game to a whole ‘nother level. You have to play hard every possession, every second of those games. The competitiveness, the toughness, everything goes up. SA: A problem that team had, it still has -- you’re carrying such a big load offensively. Do you need a second reliable scorer, and is that guy on the roster now? KW: Of course. We need it. I’m not going to have huge games every night. It’s on one of these guys to step up. I think guys are still searching for their roles at this point, especially with a new coach, new system. We’re still learning. But as the season progresses, I think they will. We have guys who are capable of putting points up for us. SA: The All-Star Game this season is in Charlotte. You’ve been selected twice. What would you think of playing in that game in your market? KW: That’d be amazing. To be in Charlotte, the team that drafted me, the team I’ve played with for eight years now, it would be a really special moment. Hopefully I can get there. It’d be fun. A really important and fun moment in my career. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

Hamilton wins F1 title, Verstappen wins Mexican Grand Prix

By Jim Vertuno, Associated Press MEXICO CITY (AP) — Lewis Hamilton won his fifth career Formula One championship with a fourth-place finish Sunday at the Mexican Grand Prix, a race dominated by Red Bull's Max Verstappen. Hamilton's season championship was all but assured, and after a brief bid for the lead off the start and a scary run off the track late, he finished off the title with a drive further into the F1 record books. The British driver tied the late Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina for second-most titles in F1 history. Only Germany's Michael Schumacher has more with seven. The 33-year-old Hamilton won titles with McLaren in 2008 and with Mercedes in 2014, 2015 and 2017. He also clinched last season's title in Mexico City. Verstappen earned his fifth career victory and defended his 2017 race win. At age 33, Hamilton can set his sights on something previously unthinkable: chasing Schumacher. Hamilton's championship this season arguably ranks among his best. For the second consecutive year, he fended off a strong challenge from Ferrari in a season when even Hamilton had to admit the Italian team often had the stronger car. Title rival Sebastian Vettel finished second Sunday and Ferrari also took third with Kimi Raikkonen Hamilton has won four of his five titles with Mercedes and he's contract through 2020, a deal he extended this season. And even with Ferrari's mechanical gains, Mercedes shows no signs of slowing down. Hamilton's drive wasn't the Sunday leisure spin he'd hoped for as he complained of problems with the car and tires much of the race. He even had a drive off into the grass when he missed the corner out of the long straight at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. He got the car back on the track with any damage, except for a moment's aggravation on his historic day. "A very, very surreal moment," Hamilton said of his championship. "I was just trying to bring the car home." Red Bull had dominated qualifying to earn its first 1-2 start of the hybrid engine era, but pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo was beaten off the line by Verstappen and Hamilton. Ricciardo's race ended late with engine failure. Hamilton could have let the Red Bulls ride off from the start, but he'd promised to look for a shot to grab the lead. He nearly found it when he saw a gap between the Red Bulls and tried to take it. The straight line power of his nosed his car in front until Verstappen cut under him at the first corner. "The start was the key," Verstappen said. "I was determined to win today." Hamilton could afford to back off because all he had to do to finish no worse than seventh to win the championship. And even that would have Vettel to win. Hamilton's primary goal was to avoid trouble. A bump from Vettel at the first turn punctured a tire which relegated him to ninth. Vettel, a four-time champion himself, opened the season with a strong charge of two straight victories before Hamilton and Mercedes dominated the second half of the season. Vettel will have the small consolation of beating Hamilton in the title-clinching race, passing him about midway through on a run down the long straight in a test of power between F1's top two teams Hamilton wrapped up the title with two races left. "He did a superb job all year," Vettel said. "I would have loved to hang in there a little bit longer.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2018

FEU hits rough patch after strong start

As the Final Four race starts to heat up, Far Eastern University finds itself stumbling on a bumpy track. The Tamaraws were on top after the first round of the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball tournament but then, took a rough path to start the second round, dropping their first two games to tie De La Salle in the third spot of the standings. But head coach Olsen Racela is not worried by the chaos, even as the battle has evidently become more competitive than ever for FEU. "I don't wanna look at the standings yet. We're just gonna take it one game at a time," Racela said in Filipino, whose team is also on a possible three-way tie with the Green Archers and UST if the Growling...Keep on reading: FEU hits rough patch after strong start.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 21st, 2018

MAJOR POINT: Has the PBA Solved Its Draft Problem?

Late last week on October 12th, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) made an announcement that the PBA Board of Governors voted and agreed unanimously that starting 2019, the number 1 overall draft pick can no longer be traded and is exclusively for the worst team in the league to pick who they choose. At first glance, the PBA’s announcement looks like a solution to the draft problem that has gone on for over a decade. If you just read the headline or skimmed through the press release or an article written on the subject maybe you think the PBA has found its solution to the draft problem that caused division in the PBA Board and led to the hiring of a new commissioner after another draft debacle last year. Ever the skeptic, I read more than the headlines. Instead of skimming through the press release and articles, I read the fine print. After my readings and a few discussions with basketball people, do I feel the PBA has found a solution to its draft problem? I’m skeptical. I have questions. But before we get to my questions, lets take a look at how the PBA got itself in a situation where they had to make an actual rule that the worst team in the league CAN’T trade the number one overall pick: 2005: Anthony “Jay” Washington gets drafted number one overall by Air21 Express. Washington gets traded on draft day to the Talk ’N Text Phone Pals. Talk ’N Text was second in wins in the PBA in the three conferences leading up to the 2005 draft. 2008: The Talk ’N Text Phone Pals have picks 2 and 4 in the first round of the draft despite being tied for the most number of wins in the 2006-2007 season. They draft Jared Dillinger and Rob Reyes with those picks. TNT trades Jay Washington to the San Miguel Beermen and acquires the third overall pick, which turns out to be Jayson Castro. 2009: Japeth Aguilar is selected number one overall by the Burger King Whoppers. Aguilar plays one game for the Whoppers, before he is shipped to the Talk N Text Tropang Texters in a three-way trade also involving Barako Bull. Burger King was able to get Barako Bull’s 2010 (previously acquired by Talk ‘N Text) and 2012 first-round picks along with Talk ‘N Text’s 2013 and 2014 first-round picks. 2010: Noy Baclao and Rabeh Al-Hussaini are selected first and second overall by Air21 Express. Midway through their rookie season both Baclao and Al-Hussaini along with Rey Guevarra are traded to Petron Blaze in exchange for Danny Seigle, Dondon Hontiveros, Dorian Peña and Paul Artadi. Baclao and Al-Hussaini help the Petron Blaze win the 2011 PBA Governors’ Cup. Al-Hussaini wins Rookie of the Year. 2012: The Petron Blaze Boosters (from Barako Bull via Air21) select June Mar Fajardo number one overall. 2013: Barangay Ginebra (from Air21) selects Greg Slaughter number one overall. Barako Bull had the fourth, fifth and sixth picks in the first round. Barako Bull decides to trade away all three first round picks. The fifth pick turns out to be Terrence Romeo. 2014: Despite winning the Philippine Cup in a 4-0 sweep, Talk ’N Text lands the second and fourth picks overall and selects Kevin Alas and Matthew Ganuelas-Rosser before the 2014-2015 PBA season begins. Alas & Ganuelas-Rosser help Talk ’N Text win the 2015 Commisioner’s Cup. Kia Sorento with their first pick in franchise history selects Manny Pacquiao 11th overall. 2015: Despite winning the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup, Talk ’N Text has the number one overall pick (from Blackwater). Talk ’N Text selects Moala Tautuaa number one and then two days later trade for the number two overall pick, Troy Rosario (Mahindra). 2016: The “Special” Draft. Gilas players are selected behind closed doors. One Gilas cadet per team, not to be traded for two years. Draft order was never released to the PBA fans/public. 2017: The San Miguel Beerman, despite winning two championships, having the most wins and the best win percentage, select Christian Standhardinger number one overall after a trade from Kia. Losing out on the Standhardinger sweepstakes, TNT blasts Commissioner Narvasa for approving the trade. The PBA divides where seven teams declare they have a “loss of confidence” in Commissioner Narvasa. Five teams support Commissioner Narvasa. After a three-month stalemate, Commissioner Narvasa steps down and the PBA Board appoints a new commissioner, Willie Marcial. As you can see, it is a little more complicated than having the number one overall pick protected from a trade. While the number one overall pick has been traded seven times in the last 13 years, which has to be some kind of record, there have been other issues as well. And that is where my long list of questions begins: -    What’s to stop an already winning team from stacking up multiple first round picks other than the number one overall pick, like in 2008 and 2014? -    This "no trading of the top pick rule" becomes effective in 2019. Why the wait? Why can’t it apply this year? Columbian Dyip has the first pick this season. History says they could likely trade that pick to a championship team. Why do we have to go through this make-believe world another year? -    Hypothetically, how would the PBA handle this situation: Phoenix trades an active player to Rain or Shine for ROS’s 2021 1st round pick. Unfortunately, in 2020, ROS has a variety of injuries and acquires the number one overall pick. What happens then? Who gets the first pick? ROS or Phoenix? -    After the first pick is drafted, when does that player selected first become tradeable? Can it be traded after the draft? If not, for how long? Looking at the draft history of the last 13 years, you have to wonder, what were the objectives of teams like Air21, Barako Bull & Kia? Were those teams in the league to form competitive teams? Were they attempting to build championship teams? Why were those teams trading so many of their top picks? Columbian justified its trading of the number pick last year by saying they were going to play in an “unconventional” way. Their unconventional way has led them to five wins in 31 games so far this season. It has also earned them the number one overall pick for the second year in a row. The PBA Draft is supposed to be fun. It used to be fun. Before 2005, the PBA Draft was a legitimate event. It was something to look forward to. The idea of the draft is still special in theory. It’s a day where dreams come true. Drafted players lives change that day. Many times, the lives of a player's family change forever when their son or husband or father is drafted in the PBA. It's an opportunity for teams who have struggled to get better. It's supposed to give hope to teams drafting high and a challenge to teams drafting low. That is how the draft system is supposed to work. Unfortunately, in the PBA that system has been broke for a long time. I like the idea and the spirit of the draft. However, last year on my podcast, Staying MAJOR, I argued that the PBA should scrap its draft. That made me sad. It made me sad because I feel like the spirit of the PBA Draft has been lost. It's been lost by teams manipulating the system for the improvement of their individual team or their team's objective, but not for the betterment of the league. I’m tired of the PBA Draft getting hijacked every year. And now we have to likely go through it again this year. Even after what happened last year. Not being able to trade the number one pick sounds good. It’s a nice blanket statement. I even think it might be a step in the right direction. But, sometimes when you're bleeding, you need more than a band-aid. Fans aren’t naive. They can figure out what’s going on when year after year the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. Maybe some of my questions will get answered here as the draft approaches? Maybe Columbian Dyip won’t trade their pick again? Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part? If there is a silver lining, it is at least the PBA and its Board have acknowledged that there is a problem. At least there was an attempt to fix it. I’d say vetting of new potential franchises, so the PBA doesn’t have members who want to trade their draft picks to already successful teams is the bigger issue, but hopefully this is a start of trying to level the playing field. Wouldn’t it be fun to have teams that haven’t won in a while, keep their picks and build contending teams? Or at least not give them to the already strong teams? Wouldn’t that be fun? Wouldn’t it be fun to celebrate the draft spirit of hope on draft day without trying to figure out how the best teams ended up with the top picks again? The PBA is a professional, competitive, sports league. That’s what it’s supposed to be. The PBA is supposed to be fun too. However, it’s NOT fun or competitive when the top teams keep picking high every year. That’s not real competition to me. So will the PBA’s new rule regarding the number one overall pick change anything? This year, no. Starting next year, maybe. I’d like to be optimistic that there will be change or that this rule will initiate an on-going conversation of how to make the draft better. Unfortunately, we still have a full year of waiting before we find out. Eric Menk played in the PBA from 1999 to 2016. Menk is a four-time PBA champion, three-time PBA Finals MVP and one-time PBA MVP (2005). He will be writing for ABS-CBN Sports weekly. Menk also has his podcast Staying MAJOR as welll as his own YouTube channel ......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2018

Newcomer Leonard scores 24 as Raptors beat Cavaliers 116-104

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and a team-high 13 rebounds in his Toronto debut, Kyle Lowry scored 27 points and the Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-104 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) in the season-opener for both teams. Fred VanVleet scored 14 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 and Danny Green 11 as the Raptors won their sixth straight season opener and gave Nick Nurse a victory in his first game as head coach. Kevin Love scored 21 points and Cedi Osman had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Cleveland knocked Toronto out of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but faces a struggle this season now that former star LeBron James is with the Los Angeles Lakers. Leonard played 37 minutes in his first competitive game since January with San Antonio. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year was limited to nine games last season because of a quadriceps injury. Acquired from the Spurs in a July blockbuster that sent four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, Leonard was introduced to a thunderous ovation, the final Raptors starter to have his name announced to the capacity crowd of 19,915. Lowry led Toronto with eight assists and shot 5-for-6 from three-point range. Jordan Clarkson and George Hill each scored 15 points and Rodney Hood had 12 for the Cavaliers, who trailed by as many as 20. Cleveland had won 15 of the previous 17 meetings between the teams, including 10 straight postseason games. Leonard missed his first three shot attempts but made three of his next four to score a team-high six points in the opening quarter. Lowry and Siakam each scored five in the first as Toronto led 28-25 after one. Leonard added six more points in the second quarter and Lowry had five as Toronto made 5-of-10 from three-point range to open a 60-47 lead at halftime. Lowry and Leonard each scored nine points in the third, with Lowry making three from long range, as Toronto took a 90-75 lead into the fourth. TIP-INS Cavaliers: F Larry Nancy Jr. (right ankle) and G J.R. Smith (right elbow) were inactive. ... Love shot 5-for-18 from the field and went 10-for-14 at the free throw line. ... Tristan Thomspon led Cleveland with 13 rebounds. Raptors: Leonard shot 9-for-22. ... G Delon Wright (left thigh) was inactive. . ... F OG Anunoby did not retrun after being hit in the face early in the fourth. The Raptors said Anunoby suffered a right orbital contusion. ... Siakam got the opening night start ahead of Serge Ibaka, but Nurse has said he intends to vary his starting lineup on a regular basis. ... Ibaka missed his first eight field goal attempts before connecting on a three in the fourth. ... Valanciunas had 12 rebounds and matched a career-high with three assists. ... Green stood at center court and thanked fans for their support in a brief pregame address. UP NEXT Cavaliers: Visit Minnesota on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Raptors: Host Boston on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2018

Wimbledon champ Kerber splits with coach

Reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber has split from coach Wim Fissette, the player's entourage announced Tuesday. "Despite the success of the cooperation since the start of the season, this step is needed because of differences of opinion as the future direction," a statement read. Former coach of Kim Clijsters (2009--11), current world number one Simona Halep (2014) and Victoria Azarenka (2015--16), Fissette joined forces with Kerber in November 2017. With the Belgian by her side, the 30-year-old Kerber, who reached No.1 in the rankings in 2016 but now sits third, reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open before going on to win Wimbledon....Keep on reading: Wimbledon champ Kerber splits with coach.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018