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Krajinovic upsets Isner to face Sock in Paris Masters final

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Qualifier Filip Krajinovic reached the Paris Masters final after upsetting John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5) on Saturday. Isner was also playing for a berth in the elite eight-man ATP Finals, and that ended, too. Krajinovic slid onto his back and sobbed, his arms raised, after sealing victory on his first match point. The Serb then knelt and kissed the court. "When I served for the match my hand was shaking," Krajinovic said. "It was tough to control the emotions. Best day in my life but the tournament is not over yet." He will play for his first career title against another American, Jack Sock, who comfortably beat Julien Benneteau of France 7-5, 6-2. Sock has never won a Masters title and can qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals in London if he does so here. Sock dropped his serve twice but broke Benneteau five times. Sock will go for his third title of the year and fourth of his career. Benneteau is retiring. "I was able to ... play my game, swing big," Sock said. "I'm going to have to bring my A game tomorrow. ... Everyone knows (Krajinovic) is a very talented player and he's showcasing that." Isner didn't hide his disappointment. "I had an opportunity here to do some things (ATP Finals) I've never done before," Isner said. He was a runner-up in Paris last year and again fell short of an elusive first Masters title. "This one is going to sting because I knew I was the highest-ranked player in the semifinals," he said. Krajinovic is the lowest-ranked in a Masters final since 2003, when 191st-ranked Andrei Pavel made it in Paris. The 77th-ranked Krajinovic had won only 17 matches in his whole career — thwarted by injuries — before this tournament. He is also the first qualifier to reach a Masters final since Jerzy Janowicz in 2012, also in Paris. However, he was helped by not having to play his quarterfinal because top-ranked Rafael Nadal pulled out with a right knee injury. Nadal has not said whether he will be fit enough to play in the Finals, starting on Nov. 12. Serving for the first set, Krajinovic held to love. Isner dominated the second-set tiebreaker and leveled the match with an ace. Isner forged a break point at the start of the third set, but missed it with a wasteful forehand. Then he spurned another chance on Krajinovic's serve at 30-40 in the ninth game. "I missed the ball by a few inches," Isner said. "With how well I was serving today, that was essentially a match point." In a tense decisive tiebreaker, Isner led 3-0 but Krajinovic went 5-4 up. Isner's 31st ace tied it but a superb return to Isner's feet on the next point gave Krajinovic match point on his serve. Reaching the final is particularly sweet for a top-10 junior whose promising career was held back by an extra bone in his right wrist that needed treatment, following on from a right shoulder operation in 2011. "I really had big injuries. But I stayed calm," he said. "I knew that one day everything will come back." He hasn't forgotten the support from countryman Novak Djokovic during his injury layoffs. "We are very close friends," Krajinovic said. "He was helping me right after the injuries. He gave me a coach." Nor has he forgotten the sponsors who dropped him when he was down. "I break top hundred a couple years ago and then all of a sudden I have an extra bone in my wrist," he said. "It was mentally really tough because, you know, getting older and older all sponsors said no to me." A whipped forehand winner into an open side of the court was enough for victory, prompting wild celebrations from Krajinovic's coach, Petar Popovic, who was topless as he shook his fists in delight. "We started four months ago and it's going unbelievable," Krajinovic said. "I knew him since I was 10.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 5th, 2017

Nadal a straight-sets winner to begin Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Top-seeded Rafael Nadal didn't show any side effects from a right knee injury that sidelined him at the end of last season, beating Victor Estrella Burgos 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round match. Nadal, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year, lost in last year's final here to Roger Federer. The Spanish lefthander has only lost in the first round at two Grand Slam singles tournaments — to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013, and to Fernando Verdasco in Melbourne in 2016. Nadal will play Leonardo Mayer in the second round on Wednesday. Mayer beat Nicolas Jarry 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-3 earlier Monday. In other matches: Caroline Wozniacki was an easy 6-2, 6-3 winner over Michaela Buzarnescu in a first-round match at Melbourne Park. At No. 2, Wozniacki is playing here at her highest seeding since appearing as the top-seeded player at the 2012 Australian Open when she lost in the quarterfinals. Wozniacki, seeded 19th in Melbourne last year, is still looking to win her first Grand Slam singles title. Add Jack Sock's name to the list of Americans departing Monday from the Australian Open. On the same day the U.S. lost eight women's players, including 2017 finalist Venus Williams and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, Sock was defeated by Japan's Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-1, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 in the first round. Sock, who's never advanced beyond the third round at the Australian Open, was the highest-ranked American man at No. 8 and had his highest seeding at a major. The American, who retired from a match against Sugita at the Hopman Cup to start the season, had 52 unforced errors compared to just 30 winners in the match. Sock is coming off a career-best season in which he won his first Masters title in Paris and qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time. He lost his first match of the new season last week in New Zealand, however, and was criticized afterward in the local media for appearing not to give his full effort in the match. Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the second round at the Australian Open for the seventh time with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Dennis Novak. Last year at Melbourne Park, Dimitrov equaled his best Grand Slam result, reaching the semifinals before losing to Rafael Nadal in five sets. He also lost a Wimbledon semifinal in 2014 to Novak Djokovic. Dimitrov has never lost to a qualifier in seven matches at a Grand Slam tournament, and has dropped only one set. American actor and comedian Will Ferrell watched the Rod Laver Arena match......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Federer wins, Serena loses in Cincy tourney

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News5 hr. 14 min. ago

Greek teen Stefanos Tsitsipas reaches Toronto final

TORONTO (AP) — Greek teen Stefanos Tsitsipas became the youngest player to beat four straight top-10 players in an event since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990, outlasting Kevin Anderson 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (7) on Saturday to reach the Rogers Cup final. Tsitsipas, who will be 20 on Sunday, will face the winner of the late match between top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Karen Khachanov. "Playing in a Masters 1000 final is the best thing that can happen on your birthday," Tsitsipas said. "I cannot believe it." Tsitsipas beat the fourth-seeded Anderson after topping seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem, ninth-seeded Novak Djokovic and second-seeded defending champion Alexander Zverev to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal. Tsitsipas fired an ace at 7-7 before converting his third match point of the deciding tiebreaker when Anderson's return sailed long. The South African had a match point of his own at 7-6, but Tsitsipas came through with a brilliant backhand crosscourt winner to pull even. The 32-year-old Anderson reached the Wimbledon final last month. He also lost his only other match against Tsitsipas, falling this year on clay in Portugal. Tsitsipas is attempting to become the first player since Albert Portas at Hamburg in 2001 to win his first ATP World Tour title at a Masters 1000 event. Ranked 27th, Tsitsipas would jump 12th with a victory Sunday and to 15th with a loss when the new rankings are released Monday. Nadal beat Tsitsipas in April in the Barcelona Open final......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 12th, 2018

Sakkari upsets Venus Williams to reach Silicon Valley semis

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Maria Sakkari of Greece upset third-seeded Venus Williams 6-4, 7-6 (2) on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. Sakkari came back from 0-3 in the first set and 3-5 in the second set. She advanced to face American Danielle Collins — with the winner reaching her first WTA final. Collins, a two-time NCAA champion for Virginia, advanced after former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus retired midway through the second set due to injury. Azarenka led 4-2 in the first set before needing a tiebreaker to win the 72-minutes set 7-6 (4). She grabbed her right leg in the opening game of the second set, lost the first three games and was evaluated by a trainer and doctor before retiring prior to the fourth game. Fifth-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania secured the first semifinal spot by beating Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 7-5. The Romanian will face No. 4 seed Elise Mertens. Mertens, a Belgian, saved two set points in the first set, forced a tiebreak and won four straight games in the second set for a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over Johanna Konta. It's Mertens' fifth WTA semifinal of the year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 4th, 2018

John Isner reaches 8th Atlanta Open final

ATLANTA (AP) — Top-seeded John Isner advanced to the BB&T Atlanta Open final for the eighth time, beating fourth-seeded Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-1 on Saturday. Seeking his fifth victory at Atlantic Station in the last six years, Isner will face the winner of the night semifinal between eighth-seeded Ryan Harrison and Britain's Cameron Norrie. Isner beat Harrison in the final last year. "I've played both those guys before. Obviously I played Ryan here in the final last year," Isner said. "It would be great to play him again in the final, two Americans. But we'll see what happens." Isner improved to 4-1 against Ebden, rebounding for a loss in the Australian Open. "It was tough," Isner said. "Just like yesterday, I was able to get out early in the third set and that definitely took some pressure off. I'm very happy to be back in the final here. I need to get in the air conditioning and just rest so I could be ready for tomorrow." Isner improved to 30-4 in the event, winning his third match in Atlanta after a 6-hour, 36-minute loss — with a 26-24 fifth set — to Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon semifinals. The 6-foot-10 former University of Georgia star won the Miami Open in April for his 13th ATP Tour title. Isner is 8-1 in the Atlanta semifinals, with the lone loss coming to Andy Roddick in 2012. Isner's only other losses in the event came in the finals, to Mardi Fish in 2010 and 2011 and Nick Kyrgios in 2016. Isner won titles in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

Upbeat Guiao, NLEX looking to pull off upsets to end elims

Don't count NLEX out just yet. Despite sitting on the 11th spot in the PBA Commissioner's Cup, Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao is confident his team can still come up with a couple of upset wins to get a crack at the quarterfinals. "It's still a good sign for us, we're still looking forward to produce some upsets in our last games," said Guiao after their 120-111 loss to Alaska Friday at Mall of Asia Arena. NLEX holds a 2-7 record and will face Magnolia, 4-4, and defending champion San Miguel, 3-4, in its final two games. Guiao, though, is unfazed with the task at hand despite missing his star backcourt of Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas. Ravena is serving an 18-month...Keep on reading: Upbeat Guiao, NLEX looking to pull off upsets to end elims.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Muguruza sends Sharapova to worst Grand Slam loss in six years

Garbine Muguruza thrashed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 to reach the French Open semi-finals on Wednesday, condemning the Russian to her worst Grand Slam defeat in more than six years. The Spanish third seed, who was the champion in Paris in 2016, will face either top seed Simona Halep or two-time major winner Angelique Kerber for a place in Saturday's final. Sharapova, playing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015, suffered her most one-sided defeat at the Slams since a 6-3, 6-0 loss to Victoria Azarenka in the 2012 Australian Open final. "I am very pleased to be in another final in Paris," said Muguruza who has yet to drop a set in the tournament. "I was up agains...Keep on reading: Muguruza sends Sharapova to worst Grand Slam loss in six years.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 6th, 2018

Thiem routs weary Zverev to reach 3rd straight French Open semi-final

PARIS, France – Dominic Thiem reached his 3rd successive French Open semi-final on Tuesday, June 5, with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 demolition of a hobbled and exhausted Alexander Zverev. Thiem, the Austrian 7th seed, goes on to face either 2016 champion and 12-time major winner Novak Djokovic or Italy's world ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Get ready for Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova in Paris

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — If the upcoming French Open showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova provides any of the sort of animus and back-and-forth they manage to stir up away from the court, look out. During a news conference after both won Saturday to set up the longtime rivals' fourth-round matchup at Roland Garros, Williams criticized Sharapova's autobiography as "hearsay" and twice brought up the Russian's 15-month doping ban. Producing by far the best performance in her return to Grand Slam tennis — 16 months after her last major tournament and nine months after having a baby — Williams played cleanly and powerfully in a 6-3, 6-4 tour de force against 11th-seeded Julia Goerges that lasted a mere 75 minutes and lacked much in the way of theatrics. "There is still a ways to go, but it's moving in the right direction," said Williams, who made only three unforced errors in the first set, 12 in all. "And I think that as long as it's moving in the right direction, I know I will get there." Sharapova advanced with a similarly lopsided win, 6-2, 6-1 against 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova. Now comes the drama: Williams vs. Sharapova on Monday with a quarterfinal spot at stake. They have verbally clashed in the past, such as a 2013 public spat about their private lives. Williams, 36, owns 23 major singles titles. Sharapova, 31, has won five. Williams has won the French Open three times, Sharapova twice. They are the only active women with a career Grand Slam; they are two of six in history to accomplish that. Both have been ranked No. 1. But the head-to-head history is overwhelmingly in Williams' favor: She has won 19 of 21 meetings, including 18 in a row. "Quite frankly, she's probably a favorite in this match, for sure," Williams said with a chuckle. "She's been playing ... for over a year now. I just started. So I'm just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go." The last time Sharapova beat Williams was in 2004. The last time they played was in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals, Sharapova's final appearance before her 15-month drug suspension. "Well, it's been a while," Sharapova said, "and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us, in very different ways." Williams was asked about Sharapova's book, which was published last year. It contains quite a bit of material about the American, including a reference to Williams crying in the locker room after losing to Sharapova in the Wimbledon final 14 years ago. "As a fan, I wanted to read the book and I was really excited for it to come out and I was really happy for her. And then the book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest," Williams said. "I was, like, 'Oh, OK, I didn't expect to be reading a book about me — that wasn't necessarily true.'" Insisting she doesn't "have any negative feelings" toward Sharapova, Williams said "the success of one female should be the inspiration to another." Seconds later, Williams made reference to Sharapova's "incident of drugs." There were plenty of other results involving top names at the French Open on Saturday. Other women moving into the fourth round included 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time runner-up Simona Halep, two-time major title winner Angelique Kerber and reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. Men's winners included 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Marin Cilic, No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 6 Kevin Anderson and No. 9 John Isner. The story of Day 7, though, was what everyone can look forward to on Day 9: Williams vs. Sharapova. This is Williams' first Grand Slam tournament since January 2017, when she won the Australian Open while pregnant. The American made a brief foray on the tour earlier this season, but she played only four matches. She had some problems in her initial two outings in Paris, including in the second round, when she dropped the first set against 17th-seeded Ashleigh Barty before — as Williams herself put it — "Serena came out." Against Goerges, the careless errors were largely absent. The missing energy was back. In front of a crowd that included former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, it took 15 minutes for Williams to gain the upper hand, sprinting to reach a drop shot and whip a cross-court forehand passing winner for a 3-1 lead. Williams yelled loudly and raised her fist. It was almost as if she'd never left the scene. "Any time you play against Serena, you know what you're up against. You know the challenge that is upon you," Sharapova said. "Despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best players.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

Icardi left out of Argentina s World Cup squad

By Debora Rey, Associated Press BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Serie A co-top-scorer Mauro Icardi was left out of Argentina's World Cup squad on Monday. Icardi, also the Inter Milan captain, was the most notable absentee from coach Jorge Sampaoli's 23-man list. Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, who has not played since March and is recovering from a knee operation, was picked. Sampaoli said in a news conference his choices were based on "players that can do many functions to give us different characteristics." "Those players in the final list are closer to the idea we are implementing. They are closer to the opposition's goal line than to their own." Icardi was part of Sampaoli's preliminary list of 35 players announced on May 14. He scored 29 goals in Serie A, one of them on Sunday when Inter secured a spot in the Champions League for the first time since 2012. Aguero had a great season with English Premier League champion City, scoring 31 times until he was injured. It is still uncertain when he will be back in action. Also injured, defender Gabriel Mercado and midfielder Lucas Biglia were in the squad. Mercado's injury opened a door for Torino left back Cristian Ansaldi, who can also play on the right. Asked about the risks of taking recovering players to the World Cup, Sampaoli said he will take full responsibility for his choices. "We need to face the World Cup without fear," he said. "In this list there are players with a lot of skill. The ones that understand our game better will be closer to being starters." Argentina is grouped in Russia with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. ___ Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Wilfredo Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate). Defenders: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Federico Fazio (Roma), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Marcos Acuna ( Sporting Lisbon), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax). Midfielders: Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (Milan), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica). Strikers: Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Wawrinka has his fitness back - now he needs confidence

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2018

Reed s defense of Masters title starts early

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Patrick Reed won't have to wait until next April to defend his title in the Masters. Even as he slipped into a green jacket, he was perceived more as a villain than a victor. The loudest cheer from the first tee at Augusta National was for Rory McIlroy, who played with Reed in the final round. The loudest cheer on the 18th green was for Rickie Fowler, who finished ahead of Reed. The mood all afternoon screamed out, "Anyone but Patrick." Reed had the last shot, a 3-foot par putt for a one-shot victory and his first major championship. All he did was play a brand of golf that champions from any era would embrace. He seized control on Saturday with two eagles on the back nine, the second a 3-wood from just under 270 yards into the wet, heavy air that barely cleared the water in front of the 15th green. From there, he chipped in from 80 feet. And on Sunday, he heard the cheers ahead of him for Jordan Spieth and answered with a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 12 and an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 14. That's how you win majors and earn respect. The applause, however, sounded more like acceptance than celebration. Instead of looking ahead to how much more this Masters champion might achieve, the inclination was to look into the past of a flawed character in a green jacket. Reed wasn't anyone's favorite Sunday outside of his immediately family, and that includes parents with whom he has had no contact for more than five years. They live a few miles from Augusta National. That's not unusual at the Masters. Danny Willett wasn't the patron's choice in 2016 when he took advantage of Spieth's misfortunes at the 12th hole. Charles Coody played the best golf in 1971 when the Masters could have had Jack Nicklaus or 23-year-old Johnny Miller. Even without a checkered past at two colleges — Georgia and Augusta State — or Reed's brash claim after his third PGA Tour victory that he considered himself among the top five players in golf, the role of villain fit as snugly as that green jacket. There was McIlroy — honest, refreshing, talented — who already had paid his dues at Augusta National with that final-round 80 in 2011 and now lacked only this major to complete the career Grand Slam. It wasn't Reed's fault that McIlroy couldn't buy a putt. Then it was Spieth, who says and does all the right things off the course, making a Sunday charge that even Nicklaus could appreciate. He was one swing away from the lowest final round and perhaps the greatest comeback in Masters history. His tee shot was too far left and hit a tree limb. And finally it was Fowler's turn. If he isn't the best player never to have won a major, he is the most popular player without a major by a wide margin. Fowler hit all the right shots, especially on the 18th hole for a birdie that gave the gallery hope and left Reed no room for a mistake. Reed loves a moment like this. "It's just a way of God basically saying, 'Let's see if you have it,'" Reed said. He had it all, except the affection that appears to be harder to find than the wide fairways of Augusta National. Reed didn't care when someone asked Saturday night why fans don't embrace him. "Why don't you ask them?" he said. "I'm out here to do my job, and that's to play golf. I feel like if I'm doing it the right way, then that's all that really matters." Reed is part of the youth movement, primarily because of his age (27). The consummate team player can be a bit of a loner. He does his work quietly on the range, rarely without his wife along for observations. He doesn't have regular partners for practice. You won't find him on any social media channels during spring break in the Bahamas. He wears boots, not flip-flops. And yes, he has flaws. He inevitably has let people down, even if he was never a hero to legions of fans. There were plenty of American fans cheering for him at Hazeltine in 2016 when he matched McIlroy shot for shot and at one point wagged his finger at him. That finger was pressed against the lips when he had the audacity to shush a Scottish crowd during Ryder Cup debut in Gleneagles. Top 5 in the world? Maybe at annoying people. "He's a member of the Masters Club now. He'll have a green jacket forever," Spieth said. "His name is etched in history, and I'm sure he's going to carry everything that he went through today and go into Paris and try and win a Ryder Cup on European soil." They love him in red, white and blue. Perhaps one of these days, they'll come to embrace him in green......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Woods improves in final round at Masters, welcomes break

By Mark Long, Associated Press AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Tiger Woods nearly aced a hole and made his lone eagle of the week. The four-time Masters champion somewhat returned to form at Augusta National. It was just a few days too late to be more than an afterthought at golf's first major. .@TigerWoods records his first eagle of the Tournament on No. 15 in the final round of #themasters. pic.twitter.com/ykAqxyNo7F — Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 8, 2018 Woods closed with a flurry, recording a 3-under 69 in the final round at the Masters. He finished 1 over for the tournament and left the hallowed grounds feeling a little better about his game. Woods last played the event in 2015. He returned the last two years for the champions' dinner, but didn't get on the course. The hiatus left him feeling nostalgic during his walk to the 18th green. "This is one of the greatest walks in all of golf," Woods said afterward. "And I had missed it for the last couple of years. I hadn't been able to play in it, so now I'm glad I'm competing in this tournament. And to face the challenges out there, I missed it. I really did. I missed playing out here. I missed competing against these guys. Such a great event. Best (event) in all of our sport." Woods started the weekend more than a dozen shots out of the lead and knew he would need something special to happen to get back in contention. It never happened. Never even came close, either. But there were some glimpses Sunday in his traditional red shirt. Woods had two birdies and an eagle on the back and looked like he would get to even par for the event. He lamented his iron play for the fourth straight day and loathed two three-putts, including one for bogey on No. 18. "Another loose day with the irons," he said. "And I putted awful. It was possibly the highest score I could have shot today. All in all, a bittersweet ending." He still drew one of the round's largest galleries, giving spectators a reason to get to the course long before the leaders arrived at the practice range. They simply wanted to catch a glimpse of one of golf's greatest players. Woods is assured of moving back into the top 100 in the world, notable only because he was at No. 1,199 just over four months ago when he returned from yet another long layoff following a fourth back surgery. "I think things are progressing," he said. "It was a little bit disappointing I didn't hit my irons as well as I needed to for this particular week. You miss it just a touch here it gets magnified. And I just didn't do a good enough job this week in that regard. But overall I'm five or six tournaments into it, to be able to compete out here and to score like I did, it feels good." Woods plans to take some time off in April, maybe even putting the clubs in the closet for a few weeks to "kind of get away for a while." "The run up to this event is pretty hard and pretty grueling," said Woods, who finished 12th, tied for second and tied for fifth in three tournaments on the Florida Swing. "I pushed myself pretty hard to get ready. And I peaked at it four times over the course of my career, and it's tiring." He can take some solace in making six birdies or better in the final round — nearly as many as he made in the first three rounds combined. The best one came early Sunday. Woods nearly aced the 240-yard, par-3 fourth. His tee shot landed a few feet short of the flag, bounced a couple of times and then skirted by the left edge of the hole. He was left with a left-to-right-breaking 10-footer that he dropped in the left side of the cup. His eagle putt at the par-5 15th was even better. He drained a sweeping 30-footer after reaching the green in two. Those shots provided a brief snippet of what might have been at Augusta National had Woods had better control with his irons. Woods missed greens right and left, never really getting approach shots in the precise spots on treacherous greens. His errant ways left him starting a lot sooner than expected Sunday and finishing shortly after the leaders teed off. "My swing is slightly off," he said. "I was pleased with the way I was able to drive it, but I just could not convert with my irons. I struggled with obviously controlling the shape. Can't control the shape. Can't control the distance. And it was one of those weeks in that regard.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2018

DOC VOLLEYBALL: FIVE FOR (FINAL FOUR) FIGHTING

A couple more games in and the elimination round will soon come to a close. Even up to this point, the women’s volleyball tournament of UAAP Season 80 continues to prove to be the most unpredictable year in recent UAAP history. While the top two seeds, the DLSU Lady Spikers and the Ateneo Lady Eagles have already secured spots in the Final Four, it’s still an on-going Battle Royale for the remaining two spots among teams gunning for a chance at either redemption or ascendancy.  With the FEU Lady Tamaraws, NU Lady Bulldogs, Adamson Lady Falcons, UP Lady Maroons, and the UST Golden Tigresses still slugging it out to prove their worth, the last few games of the eliminations couldn’t be more exciting and interesting at the same time. FEU Lady Tamaraws (7 – 4) Numerically speaking, the Lady Tamaraws have the best chances of booking the 3rd spot based on their team’s performance in the different skill departments. Despite being 7th overall in spiking, the Lady Tamaraws have shown consistency in the more crucial departments such as serve (2nd), receive (4th), and setting (3rd). At a relatively more comfortable standing of 7 – 4, FEU just needs one win to seal their Final Four spot or 2 to guarantee at least a 3rd rank finish. In their upcoming game against their 1st round tormentors, the Adamson Lady Falcons, the Lady Tamaraws’ services would definitely be challenged by the resurgent passing and commendable first point conversion of the Lady Falcons. Likewise, FEU would be expected to capitalize on the relatively less aggressive serving of Adamson to run their bread and butter combination plays. A revenge win against Adamson, avoiding an upset against a confident UE Lady Warriors squad and a repeat over skidding NU will enable the Lady Tamaraws to bag the best possible ranking at the end of eliminations. NU Lady Bulldogs (6 – 6) Despite the downward spiral that the Lady Bulldogs have found themselves in this second round, their stellar performance during the first round could still be enough of a cushion for them to keep their Final Four dreams alive. In their recent matchup with the Lady Maroons, Queen Bulldog Jaja Santiago was being maximized with her relatively more unstoppable attack from the right wing and back row. At times that the team was able to go for a high enough dig or pass, despite the location quality, a safety set to Santiago proved to be much needed relief. However, despite this dominance by Santiago, the team still sorely lacks output from the left wing as a much needed support. Had the left wing been more successful in attempt-to-point ratio, the match would have had a different tone. But moving forward, now that the team has had some positional adjustments that ensures libero Gayle Valdez’s stint is fully utilized, a few adjustments in passing formation is needed to ensure that Valdez has the best coverage. With the current struggles in their floor defense, the Lady Bulldogs will benefit more with slowing the rally down will high first balls regardless if on a perfect location just so setter Jasmine Nabor can better shoot to the wings. Adamson Lady Falcons (5 – 6) With a recent commanding win against the NU Lady Bulldogs and an almost statement win versus the Ateneo Lady Eagles, the Adamson Lady Falcons have found a much needed momentum boost amidst a slow second round start. In recent games, the Lady Falcons have seen a resurgence in their receiving prowess which has enabled them to beat powerhouses like DLSU and FEU in the first round. In their recent outings, the Lady Falcons have shown that they have superior side-out game as they have relatively higher first point conversion coming from a serve but have had some struggles in earning points off the transition. In addition, perhaps the most significant limiting factor for Adamson is their serving, which is notably the least aggressive in the league. Though successful in their first encounters against DLSU and FEU, the Lady Falcons’ upcoming rematch against these two teams would be their toughest challenge yet as they would heavily rely in their steady passing against the top two serving teams. To increase their chances of a first round repeat against these two teams, serving adjustments should also be made to ensure that they can limit the DLSU’s Majoy Baron from the middle as well as FEU setter Kyle Negrito from setting up their combination plays. UST Golden Tigresses (4 – 8) Despite a rough and disheartening initial run in this season, the UST Golden Tigresses have started to show what they are seriously capable of achieving. Albeit a too little too late with their current resurgence, a fully intact team is not to be discredited yet. Although much like the UP Lady Maroons in that their fate relies on the succeeding outcome for both NU and Adamson, UST still has a slightly better chance given that they can ensure a win against the Lady Falcons. Able to stretch out the Lady Eagles into a five-set thriller recently is much of a testament that UST is indeed final four material given a fully functioning roster. Much like how Adamson capitalized on Ateneo’s passing, UST proved to be one of the leagues better serving team, but also felt quite short when it came to transition play compared to the Lady Eagles. In line with that, the Golden Tigresses will also have to rely on their serving for their match against the Lady Spikers to ensure easier transition when the middle is eliminated from the attack. Interestingly enough, UST’s situation is mirrored by the Adamson Lady Falcons and their fate relies on each other as both teams are yet to face off against top seed DLSU and are set to face each other for their last elimination match. UP Lady Maroons (4 – 8) Despite a rough start early on in the league that casted some doubts on the inclusion of new coach Godfrey Okumu, the Lady Maroons have slowly found their groove as well as their identity. Though the hopes of a Final Four finish are not as feasible as their fate relies on the further performance of both NU and Adamson, the Lady Maroons are in a good position to prepare for the next season. With all the rotational adjustments Okumu has utilized throughout the season, the current setup is perhaps their best bet to build on. Perhaps the main challenge UP has faced the entire season is that with the short stint under a new coach, the tournament has been more of an unlearning process first before Okumu’s new system, a more scientific one as he claims, is infused. For their upcoming match against the Lady Eagles, the Lady Maroons will find much benefit in aggressive serving to take opportunity of the less threatening passing proficiency of their opponent but at the same time, the challenge is ensuring they convert every possession since the Ateneo has shown much skill in winning the point the longer the transition rally progresses. Final Four Probabilities As with the standings in UAAP History, the elusive 7th win is always the magic number to strive for to get an assurance of a Final Four spot. At this point, FEU is almost guaranteed of that spot given that they just win another game. Should NU finally get out of their slump and manage their first win in the second round, they can guarantee an extension in their stint which would be enough time to at least familiarize their new rotation. Adamson undeniably has the best chances based on numbers as they still have 3 more games but these last elimination games will be relatively challenging as they will have to perform a repeat of their first round win against the top seeded teams FEU and DLSU. Finally, both UP and UST should ensure a win for their last 2 games and hope for upsets against NU and Adamson to at least be within striking distance for the last Final Four spot.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 5th, 2018

Duke, Kentucky again rely on freshmen in NCAA Tournament

By Joedy McCreary, Associated Press DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke and Kentucky are viewed as the masters of the one-and-done era, winning championships with extraordinarily young rosters. Both programs have a chance to do it again. After several potential one-and-done phenoms were bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the opening weekend, the Blue Devils and Wildcats are the teams still playing that have rosters stacked with high-profile freshmen. Duke, the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, starts four freshmen — led by Wooden Award finalist Marvin Bagley III — while Kentucky, the South’s No. 5 seed, features Kevin Knox as its centerpiece. The Wildcats (26-10), arguably the biggest beneficiary of a run of upsets in the South, play ninth-seeded Kansas State on Thursday night in Atlanta. The following night, Duke (28-7) faces a rematch with 11th-seeded Syracuse in a Midwest semifinal in Omaha, Nebraska. Hall of Fame Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said his freshmen are “not afraid of the moment. It’s how much preparation do they have for the moment? “We’re trying to condense about four years into eight months,” he said. “I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. You just kind of live it.” Among the star freshmen who didn’t make it to the tournament’s second weekend were Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Texas’ Mohamed Bamba. Young and Bamba have already declared for the NBA draft, and Ayton joined them Wednesday . Both the Blue Devils and Wildcats have previously had predominantly young teams cut down the nets at past Final Fours. Kentucky won a national title in 2012 behind top-two draft picks Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, while Duke’s most recent national title came in 2015 behind three one-and-done freshmen — Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones. This Duke team has looked capable of joining that squad, with four freshmen averaging double figures in their two NCAA Tournament games, led by Bagley’s 22.0 scoring average. Another of those freshmen, forward Wendell Carter Jr., believes the Blue Devils are “reaching our peak at the right time” and have “developed into a team that can crush another team, our opponent. “I try not to look ahead about this being my last year or anything,” Carter said. “I’m just living in the moment.” The Blue Devils have three players — Bagley, Carter and point guard Trevon Duval — in the top seven members of the 2017 recruiting class, according to 247Sports. The fourth freshman, Gary Trent Jr., was rated No. 17 by the service. The highest-rated members of Kentucky’s class are Hamidou Diallo, Knox and Jarred Vanderbilt — who are ranked 10th-12th by 247Sports — as well as Nick Richards, who’s No. 18. (Point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander arrived as a relatively unheralded recruit.) No other top-20 ranked players are still playing in the NCAA Tournament. “No one really cares what the (NBA) is telling you to do, you’ve just got to come out and do what you do best,” Knox said. “And that’s why (coach John Calipari) has sat down with each and every one of us and told us what we need to do for the team, and that’s what we’ve been able to do.” Calipari has said his group “needed to fail as a team” to figure out how to win. The Wildcats in January dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2014, then in February lost four in a row to NCAA Tournament team. But Kentucky enters the Sweet 16 on a five-game winning streak and are the highest remaining seed in the South. Of his group, Krzyzewski said he doubts “they have ever felt pressure.” It showed last weekend when the Blue Devils beat both Iona and Rhode Island by at least 20 points to cruise into their 26th Sweet 16. “It’s not just pressure being off, it’s confidence growing,” Krzyzewski said. “We know (as coaches), if we lose, that’s it. But they don’t look at, ‘That’s it.’ No, the reality is, that’s it, and that’s a different way of looking at it. “Dealing with reality is good. Being nervous about it is not good.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 21st, 2018

Venus, Halep win, Wozniacki upset at Indian Wells

By Beth Harris, Associated Press INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Venus Williams defeated Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 7-6 (8), 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday as the oldest woman in the draw. The 37-year-old American was coming off a straight-set victory over younger sister Serena a night earlier, ending a three-match skid against her sibling. "It was a quick turnaround from last night when it feels like, 'Hey, this is a final to you're only in the fourth round,'" Williams said on court. Playing under cloudy skies in 80-degree heat, Williams had her hands full with Sevastova, who used drop shots, top spin, lobs and jerked her 10-years-older opponent side to side. "There were some points where she just played and it was too good," Williams said. "I thought I was in control of the point and winning the point, and she turned it around. It's just real talent." After early losses in her first two tournaments of the year, Williams hasn't dropped a set at Indian Wells, where she has yet to reach the final in six previous appearances. Awaiting Williams in the quarterfinals is 27th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who beat American wild card Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-4. Simona Halep is on track to retain her No. 1 world ranking after defeating Wang Qiang of China 7-5, 6-1 in the fourth round. Halep is the only former Indian Wells winner left in the women's draw after No. 20 Daria Kasatkina upset No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 7-5. Wozniacki blew a 3-0 lead in the first set and was on the run most of the match before losing for the second time this year to the 20-year-old Russian. "She outsmarted me," Wozniacki said. By reaching the quarterfinals, Kasatkina is projected to surpass her career-best ranking of 17th. She has beaten all four current Grand Slam titleholders in the past year, including U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens in straight sets this week. "I'm playing best matches against the best players," Kasatkina said. "But as I say, if you want to be on the top, you have to beat the top players. So quite simple rule." Halep improved to 17-1 this year and needs only to reach the final to stay at the top. Next up for Halep is Petra Martic of Croatia, who beat Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (4). American teenager Amanda Anisimova's run of success ended in a 6-1, 7-6 (2) loss to No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Anisimova, a 16-year-old wild card, won her first three WTA Tour matches at Indian Wells, beating Pauline Parmentier, No. 23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova without dropping a set. "She's 16, so she's not scared," Pliskova said of Anisimova. "You can see she's hitting the ball without thinking. But everybody is playing like this when they are 16. I think this will change a little bit in the future, but for sure the game is good and not really any weakness. I think everything is pretty solid." Pliskova faces a quarterfinal against Naomi Osaka, who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 5-7, 6-1. Halep attended Venus Williams' straight-set victory over 36-year-old sister and new mother Serena on Monday night. "I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid," Halep said. "It's a great thing what they do for sport, and it's great that tennis has them. I have many things to learn from them. That's why I'm trying just to go in to watch every time I can." On the men's side, Gael Monfils retired in the second set with a back injury trailing fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 3-1. Monfils used an eight-minute injury timeout in the second set to get his back worked on before returning to the court and getting broken in fourth game. He then walked to the net and ended the match. Herbert moved on to a fourth-round matchup with Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who upset No. 2 seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4. Cilic won 19 of 23 points on his first serve, but failed to convert four break points against 31st-seeded Kohlschreiber, who snapped a 12-match skid against top-10 opponents. Herbert remains in contention for the $1 million bonus offered to a player who sweeps the singles and doubles titles. No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina defeated No. 29 David Ferrer of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (3) for the fifth straight time. With Cilic, Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, Monfils and John Isner all eliminated from his quarter of the draw, things are looking wide open for del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion. Top-ranked Roger Federer and del Potro are the highest seeds remaining. "I'm not thinking about that. I just want to keep winning," del Potro said. "Still far away from the final, but of course, any chance to play with Roger would be great." Del Potro's countryman, Leonardo Mayer, beat Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-1. Mayer next plays del Potro. No. 18 Sam Querrey rallied past Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-4 and will play No. 28 Feliciano Lopez of Spain. He spoiled a potential all-American quarterfinal by beating No. 8 Jack Sock 7-6 (8), 4-6, 6-4. No. 32 Milos Raonic of Canada defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 and will meet Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who beat lucky loser Dudi Sela of Israel 7-6 (7), 6-4......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 14th, 2018

Jarencio, Globalport welcome long break before crucial battles ahead

GlobalPort coach Pido Jarencio would rather stick to the positives as his side remains in the running for a quarterfinal spot in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup. After losing to Magnolia, 96-81, on Friday, the outspoken mentor put the spotlight on the scheduling advantage the Batang Pier has into their final two elimination games as they will be well-rested for their remaining assignments this conference. "At least, we have a five-day break before we go against Kia. And after Kia, it will be a 10-day rest before we face Phoenix. That's going to be big for us," he said. GlobalPort faces the Picanto on Wednesday before taking on the Fuel Masters on March 2. Jarencio highlighted...Keep on reading: Jarencio, Globalport welcome long break before crucial battles ahead.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2018

Best in history Ronaldo put to test by Messi in clasico

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo has made his claim. Now he has to live up to it. Ronaldo will face Lionel Messi on Saturday for the first time since the Portugal forward declared himself “the best player in the history” of soccer after equaling the Argentine’s five Ballon d’Or awards this month. Basking in the spotlight of a glitzy ceremony under the Eiffel Tower, Ronaldo felt confident enough to put himself at the pinnacle of the sport, ahead of Messi and other greats like Pele and Diego Maradona. “You will go and say that I have a big head, but when you’re at the top, it’s normal that you’re criticized,” he told France Football. “I am the best player in history, in both good and bad times.” Personalities aside, Ronaldo has a tough case to make. He and Messi both have four Champions League titles, but Messi’s eight Spanish league titles double Ronaldo’s tally for Madrid and Manchester United. Messi also has the edge in their head-to-head duels. Messi has outscored Ronaldo 19-17 since Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009. Prior to that, Messi scored in a 2-0 win over Ronaldo’s Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final. The Barcelona-led Messi has also had a clear advantage over Ronaldo’s Madrid. Messi has helped Barcelona beat Ronaldo’s side 13 times, to eight wins for Madrid and seven draws. Overall, Messi holds the “clasico” record with 24 goals in 36 matches. Ronaldo is one goal shy of matching Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano’s 18 goals against Barcelona. The camera-shy Messi insisted again on Monday when he was recognized for leading the Spanish league in goals last campaign that he put more value on team titles than individual honors. “Titles are our goal,” Messi said. “If individual statistics are there also, that’s even better, but they are not the objective.” Ronaldo has no doubt closed the gap with Messi after he led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles in the last two seasons. But for Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, this past decade is still set to bear Messi’s mark. “If it wasn’t for (Ronaldo), Messi would have won twice as much,” Torres said Wednesday. “What Ronaldo has done in the age of Messi says a lot about him.” Ronaldo will need to be at his best on Saturday because anything other than a victory will deal a huge blow to Madrid’s title defense before the season reaches its midway point. Madrid enters the match in fourth place and trailing Barcelona by 11 with a match in hand. Atletico Madrid and Valencia are in second and third. “Given the situation we are in we are obligated to win,” Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. Messi had one of his most memorable performances at Madrid last season when he scored his second of two brilliant goals in stoppage time to silence the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid got revenge with wins of 3-1 and 2-0 in the Spanish Super Cup in August, when Barcelona was reeling from the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, however, quickly rallied his team and the Catalan club has not lost since, a run of 24 matches. With Neymar gone, Valverde has succeeded in tightening up Barcelona’s defense. “It would be important to win for everything that would represent, since the match is so special, and we are playing at their ground,” Messi said. “There would still be a long way to go for the league title, but a victory would be a nice before the Christmas break.” Here are some other potential keys to the “clasico.” ___ SUAREZ Striker Luis Suarez has rediscovered his scoring touch at just the right time for Barcelona. After only scoring three times in the first 11 matches, Suarez has six goals in his last five league games. They will need him even more with backup forwards Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu injured. ___ BENZEMA Karim Benzema has only scored two goals in 11 league appearances for Madrid this season. The drop in production has contributed to Madrid’s stumbles, leading many fans to lament the exit of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea. ___ ALBA Jordi Alba has flourished going forward into the hole that Neymar used to occupy. The Spain left back is a favorite of Messi to weave together short-passing combinations that unlock packed defenses. His matchup against Madrid right back Dani Carvajal should be key. ___ BALE Gareth Bale is playing for his future. Recurrent injuries have cost the Wales winger his spot in Madrid’s starting lineup, with coach Zinedine Zidane preferring the playmaking — and sturdier legs — of Francisco “Isco” Alarcon. Bale returned after his latest injury layoff to help Madrid win the Club World Cup, but as a second-half substitute. He is likely to have that role against Barcelona and will need to make the most of the minutes he gets. ___ VERMAELEN Thomas Vermaelen was considered a lost cause. That was until defenders Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano got injured, giving the Belgian another chance to find his spot in Barcelona’s rotation. Vermaelen has played six consecutive matches, a personal record for him at Barcelona. Injuries limited him to 11 league appearances in two seasons before he was loaned out to Roma last year. Now that he is back, the former Arsenal player will be critical to Barcelona’s chances of stopping Ronaldo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017