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Federer to meet qualifier Melzer in 1st round at Aussie Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — While Roger Federer spent his time at Melbourne Park on Saturday talking about his comeback at a news conference, dozens of lower-ranked players were still at work trying to earn a spot in the main draw of the Australian Open. Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer was among them, along with Americans Noah Rubin and Bjorn Fratangelo. Melzer's reward for his 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win over Rajeev Ram out on Court 13 was a first-round match on Monday night against 17-time major winner Federer on Rod Laver Arena. Federer has won the Australian title four times, and reached the semifinals or better in 12 of the last 13 years, but hasn't played a match for rankings points since Wimbledon. When the draw was conducted Friday, the 17th-seeded Federer landed on position 24 and had three blank slots above him, reserved for players who advanced through qualifying. Melzer ended up in position 23, while Fratangelo's 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Hiroki Moriya and Rubin's 6-2, 6-4 win over Evgeny Donskoy resulted in them finishing up in positions 21 and 22. They'll meet in the first round, with the winner advancing to the second round to play the winner of the Federer-Melzer match. Melzer and Federer are both 35 and both had significant time off in 2016 with injuries. Melzer, who reached a career-high No. 8 ranking in 2011, missed the first part of last season recovering from surgery on his left shoulder and slipped as low as No. 550. Federer missed the last six months to let his left knee recover and ended the season ranked 16th. Federer didn't know who he'd be playing when he sat down for his pre-tournament news conference. 'Yeah, it would be good to know who I play. I guess I could tell you what I think,' he said. 'Once it's out, it's actually a good thing because then you can start actually mentally preparing for the Aussie Open. Is it a lefty, a righty? It's a big deal. Is he a big server, a grinder? 'A bit of an unknown here the first round because that's the part of the draw I care most about because of having not been playing.' He won't have to do too much research. Federer has a 3-1 record against the left-handed Melzer, winning three times in 2010 but losing their last head-to-head in straight sets on clay in Monte Carlo in 2011. Czech veteran Radek Stepanek, seeded top in the qualifying tournament, had a 6-2, 6-4 win over John-Patrick Smith to reach the Australian Open main draw for the 14th time. He has a 14-13 win-loss record to date, never advancing beyond the third round. His best run at a major was reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2006. Among the other qualifiers was Alexander Bublik, who recovered from a break down in the third set to beat deaf South Korean teenager Lee Duck-hee 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Bublik will play No. 16 Lucas Pouille in the first round. Two Americans were among the women's qualifiers, with Julia Boserup winning through to a first-round match against 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and Jennifer Brady advancing to her debut in the main draw at a major, where she'll play Johanna Larsson. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

McIlroy says he resents Olympics for making him choose sides

  DUBLIN (AP) — Rory McIlroy says he resented how the Olympics forced him to decide whether he would represent Ireland or Britain and that it reached a point that it 'wasn't worth the hassle' to compete in Rio de Janeiro. In an interview with the Sunday Independent in Ireland, McIlroy explained why he was so critical of golf's return to the Olympics during a press conference at last summer's British Open. McIlroy, the four-time major champion from Northern Ireland, cited concerns over the Zika virus as his reason not to go to Rio. He told the Irish newspaper that when the International Olympic Committee announced in 2009 that golf would be part of the program for the first time since 2004, 'all of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am.' 'Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to (upset) the most?' McIlroy said. 'I started to resent it. And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in. That's my feelings toward it. And whether that's right or wrong, that's how I feel.' McIlroy said he sent a text message to Justin Rose to congratulate him on winning the gold medal in Rio for Britain. He said Rose thanked him and asked if McIlroy felt as though he had missed out. 'I said, 'Justin, if I had been on the podium (listening) to the Irish national anthem as that flag went up, or the British national anthem as that flag went up, I would have felt uncomfortable either way.'' McIlroy told the newspaper. 'I don't know the words to either anthem. I don't feel a connection to either flag. I don't want it to be about flags. I've tried to stay away from that.' McIlroy was among several top stars who opted to skip the Olympics, most citing the Zika virus. He had been scheduled to play for Ireland until announcing in June he would not be going. Jordan Spieth did not announce his decision to miss Rio until a few days before the British Open. McIlroy spoke after Spieth, and the Olympics was brought up again. McIlroy dismissed the notion that he had let down his sport, saying, 'I didn't get into golf to try and grow the game.' He also said that he probably wouldn't watch Olympic golf on TV, only 'the stuff that matters.' 'Well, I'd had nothing but questions about the Olympics — 'the Olympics, the Olympics, the Olympics' — and it was just one question too far,' McIlroy said. 'I'd said what I needed to say. I'd got myself out of it, and it comes up again. And I could feel it. I could just feel myself go, 'Poom!' And I thought, 'I'm going to let them have it.' 'OK, I went a bit far,' he added. 'But I hate that term, 'growing the game.' Do you ever hear that in other sports? In tennis? Football? 'Let's grow the game.' I mean, golf was here long before we were, and it's going to be here long after we're gone. So I don't get that, but I probably went a bit overboard.' McIlroy said Olympic golf didn't mean that much to him. 'It really doesn't. I don't get excited about it. And people can disagree, and have a different opinion, and that's totally fine,' he said. 'Each to their own.' McIlroy, who is to play the South African Open this week, said he has never been driven by nationalism or patriotism because of where he was raised. 'And I never wanted it to get political or about where I'm from, but that's what it turned into,' he said. 'And it just got to the point where it wasn't worth the hassle.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Klopp's decision to field youngest ever side backfires

br /> JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer   Juergen Klopp's decision to field Liverpool's youngest ever team backfired Sunday as the Premier League title contender was held 0-0 at home by fourth-tier Plymouth in the third round of the FA Cup. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino also made sweeping changes, and was made to sweat as his side left it late to beat second-tier Aston Villa 2-0. Chelsea had an easier time, sweeping aside third-tier Peterborough 4-1, with Spanish forward Pedro scoring twice. With games coming thick and fast during the festive season and a midweek trip to Southampton looming in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals, Klopp made 10 changes from the team that drew 2-2 with Sunderland on Monday. But instead of keeping players rested for other competitions, the Liverpool manager now faces an unwanted replay at Plymouth. 'It's my responsibility, the whole thing, the lineup and performance. We could have done better,' Klopp said. 'If you want to see it (the result) in a bad way then I am 100 percent responsible, I have no problem with that.' Liverpool is in second place in the Premier League and well positioned to challenge for the title. Plymouth is second, too, but in the far less glamorous League Two. Despite this it still seemed a risky move by Klopp to select a team with an average age of 21 years, 296 days. 'There is a long season still to go and we need to change,' Klopp said. 'If you make that many changes, it doesn't make it easier for the boys.' The 17-year-old Ben Woodburn — Liverpool's youngest-ever scorer — made his full debut alongside 19-year-olds Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo in a three-man attacking midfield supporting lone striker Divock Origi. Trent Alexander-Arnold made only his second Liverpool start. Attacking midfielder Adam Lallana, forward Roberto Firmino and England striker Daniel Sturridge were on the bench. Woodburn and Ojo went close early on as Liverpool dominated. But for all of its possession, Liverpool struggled to create further chances. 'We started well but then we lost patience too early,' Klopp said. Klopp brought on Sturridge shortly after the hour mark, and he went close almost immediately with a low shot past the right post. Sturridge then clipped another shot narrowly wide as Liverpool continued to push forward. But even with the introduction of Lallana and Firmino late on — and six minutes of injury time — the winner never came. There were no such frustrations at Stamford Bridge, with Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi and Brazil midfielder Willian getting the other goals. Defender Ben Davies put Tottenham ahead and South Korea forward Son Heung-min scored for Tottenham in the last 20 minutes, while Middlesbrough eased past second-tier Sheffield Wednesday 3-0. Also, 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon scored Fulham's winner in a 2-1 win at Cardiff — a match pitting teams from the second-tier Championship. Defending champion Manchester United crushed Championship side Reading 4-0 on Saturday, but Premier League Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke lost to lower-league opponents, while Arsenal needed a late winner against Preston to reach the fourth round. ___ CHELSEA 4, PETERBOROUGH 1 Striker Michy Batshuayi got a rare start and welcome goal for his club while Spanish forward Pedro made it three in three games. After Pedro put Chelsea ahead in the 18th minute, Batshuayi made it 2-0 shortly before halftime. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek expertly cushioned a cross from the right into Batshuayi's path, and he drilled in a low shot into the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the season. Since joining from French club Marseille for a reported fee of 33 million pounds (around $40 million), Batshuayi has struggled to get games and he had not scored since netting twice in the League Cup on Aug. 23. Pedro set up Willian's goal in the 53rd for 3-0 and — after John Terry was shown a straight red card for hauling back Lee Angol — forward Tom Nichols scored for the visitors. With 15 minutes left, Pedro's curling shot completed a comfortable win. ___ TOTTENHAM 2, ASTON VILLA 0 Defender Ben Davies' first goal for the club was a timely one after second-tier Aston Villa frustrated the home side. Mauricio Pochettino made nine changes from the Tottenham side that beat Chelsea 2-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday and fans at White Hart Lane had to wait until Davies headed home in the 71st minute. South Korea forward Son Heung-min turned in a cross from France midfielder Moussa Sissoko with 10 minutes left. ___ MIDDLESBROUGH 3, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 0 Central midfielder Grant Leadbitter put the Premier League side ahead with a free kick in the 58th minute, and Spanish forward Alvaro Negredo showed his alertness to make it 2-0 shortly after. Negredo charged down goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith's attempted clearance, and the ball went off Negredo and into the net. Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon wrapped up the win against the Championship side in injury time. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Giroud caps hot streak by spearheading Arsenal comeback

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer br /> LONDON (AP) — Olivier Giroud rescued Arsenal from embarrassment at Bournemouth, taking center stage for the London club yet again with his third game-changing contribution in nine days. With Arsenal three goals down entering the final 20 minutes, Giroud spearheaded a stirring fightback on the south coast in the Premier League. After setting up Alexis Sanchez's header and Lucas Perez's volley, Giroud saved the biggest moment for himself - flicking home a header in stoppage time to salvage a 3-3 draw. The 30-year-old striker only made his first start of the start of the league campaign on Dec. 26 and he has made the most of a rare break in the team. After providing the winning goal against West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day, the striker who divides opinion at the Emirates Stadium scored an eye-catching 'scorpion' goal in Sunday's win against Crystal Palace. With another influential performance at Bournemouth, Giroud has made it harder for manager Arsene Wenger to return him to his usual spot on the substitutes' bench. Not that Giroud reveled in his impact on Tuesday night, instead bemoaning the early capitulation that saw Charlie Daniels netting and Callum Wilson scoring a penalty inside 20 minutes and Ryan Fraser putting the ball through Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech's legs early in the second half. 'It's a shame we conceded three goals like that,' Giroud said. 'We should not have done these kind of mistakes. At halftime we wanted to come back ... it's very frustrating. Hopefully we are going to learn from our mistakes today.' Arsenal had already reduced the deficit to 3-2 when it gained a man advantage in the 82nd minute with the dismissal of Simon Francis for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey. 'We refused to lose the game and there's a great resilience in the team,' Wenger said. Even with Giroud's late equalizer, Arsenal missed a chance to regain third place from Manchester City and the club could be knocked out of the top four on Wednesday if north London rival Tottenham beats leader Chelsea. 'At least we have come back and shown great mental strength,' Giroud said. ___ CRYSTAL PALACE 1 , SWANSEA 2 Paul Clement took his place on the touchline hours after being appointed Swansea manager to see his new team climb off the bottom of the standings. While Clement made an instant impact as Bob Bradley's successor, Sam Allardyce remains winless after three games as Palace manager. Wilfried Zaha looked to have rescued a point for Palace in the 83rd minute when he canceled out Alfie Mawson's header but substitute Angel Rangel netted the Swansea winner five minutes later at Selhurst Park. ___ STOKE 2, WATFORD 0 Ryan Shawcross started at the end of the first half and Peter Crouch scored quickly after the interval to move Stoke nine points clear of the drop zone. A fifth winless game for Watford left the team two points further behind Stoke. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2017

Ronaldo's agent confirms $315 M offer from Chinese league

MILAN (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo's agent says the Real Madrid star has been offered 'more than 100 million' euros per season to move to the Chinese Super League. But Ronaldo isn't going anywhere. Asked by Italy's Sky Sport about reports of a 300 million euro ($315 million) transfer offer to Madrid and a 100 million euro ($105 million) per season contract offer from an unspecified club, Jorge Mendes replied, 'It's normal. He's the best player in the world and the best of all time. More than 100.' Mendes adds, 'But Cristiano is happy at Real Madrid. China is a new market which could buy some players. But for Cristiano it's impossible. ... He's going to continue playing at Real Madrid. Money is not everything in life. Speaking at a soccer awards event in Dubai, Mendes did hint at a possible departure from Madrid for James Rodriguez but wouldn't say where the Colombia international might go: 'I'm not going to talk about squads. Let's see what happens.' On Thursday, Argentine striker Carlos Tevez signed to play for Shanghai Shenhua, becoming the latest in a procession of star players to join the Chinese Super League. Chinese clubs have spent heavily over the past year to attract mainly South American stars. Last week, Shenhua's city rival Shanghai SIPG sealed a deal with Oscar from Chelsea. Other stars to join Chinese clubs include the Brazilians Hulk, Ramires and Paulinho, Colombian striker Jackson Martinez and Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2016

The World: Park to be first sitting president questioned by prosecutors

SEOUL -- South Korean prosecutors will question President Park Geun-hye over a political corruption scandal engulfing her presidency, an official said on Sunday, the first time a sitting president will be questioned by prosecutors over a criminal case......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsNov 13th, 2016

Jessy Mendiola bags award in Korea, mingles with Korean stars

MANILA, Philippines – Actress Jessy Mendiola has won an award in APAN (Asia Pacific Actors Network) Star Awards 2016 in South Korea......»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2016

NKorea: US pushing peninsula to ‘explosion’

SEOUL: North Korea on Wednesday accused the United States of pushing the Korean Peninsula to “the point of explosion” after it dispatched two huge bombers in a show of force against Pyongyang. The supersonic B-1B Lancers flew over South Korea .....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 14th, 2016

NKorea says US pushing peninsula to ‘explosion’

SEOUL: North Korea on Wednesday accused the United States of pushing the Korean Peninsula to &'8220;the point of explosion&'8221; after it dispatched two huge bombers in a show of force against Pyongyang. The supersonic B-1B Lancers flew over South Korea .....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 14th, 2016

NKorea ready for another nuke test – Seoul

SEOUL: North Korea is ready to conduct another nuclear test at any time, South Korea’s defence ministry said Monday, just days after Pyongyang sparked worldwide condemnation with its fifth and most powerful test. “An additional test could be .....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 12th, 2016

NoKor ‘ready for another nuclear test’

North Korea is ready to conduct another nuclear test at any time, South Korea’s defense ministry said Monday, just days after Pyongyang sparked worldwide condemnation with its fifth and most powerful test......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsSep 12th, 2016

NKorea ready to conduct another nuclear test

SEOUL: North Korea is ready to conduct another nuclear test at any time, South Korea's defence ministry said Monday, just days after Pyongyang sparked worldwide condemnation with its fifth and most powerful test. &'8220;An additional test could be conduct.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 12th, 2016

Seoul leads broad Asia equity drop after NKorea test

HONG KONG: South Korean stocks and the won led most Asian markets lower Friday after the North conducted another nuclear test, while trading was also hit by worries over global central bank policy easing. Pyongyang said it had conducted a &'8220;successfu.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 9th, 2016

SKorean law on NKorea human rights in effect

SEOUL: A South Korean law aimed at improving human rights in North Korea came into force on Sunday, days after reports that the regime in Pyongyang had executed a top official. The bill, proposed in 2005 but shelved for more than a decade by bickering bet.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 4th, 2016

Russia told to pressure North Korea over nukes

South Korean President Park Geun-hye called on Russia and other major global players yesterday to increase pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program which could open the road for cooperation with Pyongyang......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2016

South Korea-US military drill shadowed by N. Korea threats

Tens of thousands of South Korean and US troops began a military exercise simulating an all-out North Korean attack on Monday, as Pyongyang issued bellicose threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes in retaliation......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2016

S. Korea-US military drill shadowed by N. Korea threats

Tens of thousands of South Korean and US troops began a military exercise simulating an all-out North Korean attack Monday, as Pyongyang threatened a pre-emptive strike on forces participating in the drill......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 21st, 2016

N. Korea calls South’s leader ‘psychopath’ over missile row

North Korea on Wednesday labelled South Korean President Park Geun-Hye a "psychopath" after she made a speech slamming Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and defending the deployment of a US anti-missile system......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 17th, 2016

NKorea calls South’s leader ‘psychopath’ over missile row

SEOUL: North Korea on Wednesday labeled South Korean President Park Geun-Hye a &'8220;psychopath&'8221; after she made a speech slamming Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and defending the deployment of a US anti-missile system. In her televised address on Mo.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsAug 17th, 2016