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Australian Open quotes: Rafael Nadal says no plans to retire

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal isn't planning to give up tennis anytime soon. Johanna Konta won't take too seriously her dominating win in the Sydney International last Friday. And Sam Stosur, who has never done well at her home Grand Slam tournament, isn't getting too down on herself after her preparation — or lack of it— for Melbourne Park. Following are some thoughts and impressions from players who spoke on Sunday, the day before the start of the Australian Open: ___ RAFAEL NADAL The takeaway: Rafa is not about to call it quits anytime soon. Nadal, a 14-time major winner, is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, including 2 ½ months off after pulling out of the French Open before the third round with left wrist injury and another rest at the end of the season. Just don't ask him if he's ready to pull out a rod and reel, or a 9-iron. 'If I don't believe that I can be competitive, and when I mean competitive, is fighting for the things that I fought for during the last 10 years, I will be probably playing golf or fishing at home,' Nadal said. 'I am being honest ... I am here because I believe ... I can fight for the things that really motivate me.' Given his history with injuries, Nadal was asked if he was playing pain free. 'What do you mean 'pain-free'?' he said. 'I am not injured, no. Pain-free is a long time ago.' ___ JOHANNA KONTA The Sydney-born British player, a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park last year, won the Sydney International final against Agnieszka Radwanska last Friday, a victory so dominating that the Polish player, ranked third in the world, said: 'I can't remember playing someone like this on that level, that consistent for the whole match. I couldn't really say that I did something wrong. She was just playing amazing tennis.' Konta said Sunday she's not reading too much into those plaudits. 'Obviously to have beaten a player like Aga, I'm definitely very pleased with the level I played,' Konta said. 'But we all know that it's not a given. It doesn't decide how you will do in the next event. I'm taking it as a positive from the week itself, but I'm looking to, again, work hard here and really try to do the best that I can here.' ___ SAMANTHA STOSUR Competing in her 15th Australian Open, the highest-ranked Australian woman in the draw has never made it past the fourth round at Melbourne Park. Her preparation for her home major wasn't helped with first-round losses at Brisbane and Sydney 'I can't change it, it is what it is,' Stosur said of her early exits. 'I'm not going into my first round freaking out that I haven't had more than two matches. Like I said, I've done everything else that I can. Obviously it would have been really nice to have played more. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in that situation from the first two weeks of the year.' The 18th-seeded Stosur has a tough first-round match against Heather Watson of Britain. ___ SIMONA HALEP The fourth-seeded Halep lost in the first round last year at Melbourne Park. This year she'll have the distinction of opening play on the main Rod Laver Arena on Monday, against American Shelby Rogers. 'I hope is going to be better this year ... it's special to open the tournament on the biggest stadium. I'm not thinking very much at that thing. I just have to go there. I know the opponent pretty well.' Halep beat Rogers in straight sets in the third round at the 2015 U.S. Open in their only previous meeting. ___ TOMMY HAAS The 38-year-old German veteran has said 2017 will be his last year on tour — he's taking over as tournament director at Indian Wells. Haas, who plays Benoit Paire of France in the first round, wants to go out with some dignity after a career of injuries. He has been ranked as high as No. 2, won 15 ATP Tour titles, reached the semifinals of the Australian Open three times and Wimbledon once, and won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. His career has been stalled by injuries since he had shoulder surgery two years ago and right foot surgery in the middle of last year. 'I think it's important to find that right time, or that moment for you when you feel it's over and it's time to do something else,' Haas said Sunday. 'For me it's very important just to be back on tour and back here at the Australian Open. It's been a while since I've played here and I'm excited to get the opportunity to go out on the court one more time and compete.' And to keep playing, hoping that his best is once again around the corner. 'When you are a dreamer, and a lot of us are, you obviously like to play at your best level again, maybe play against some of the top players somewhere on a big stage and play a great matches,' Haas said. 'Maybe get far in a tournament one more time.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — Capping what he called the best year of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth FIFA best player award on Monday. The double European champion with Portugal and Real Madrid beat great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. 'It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,' the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming 'Wow, wow, wow.' Ronaldo's fourth career FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, who has been the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory. His 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot was clearly better than Messi's 26.42 percent. Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online. Messi did not attend after being pulled out hours before the ceremony by his club Barcelona to prepare for a cup match on Wednesday. 'Of course, I wish that they (Barcelona players) had been here tonight like in the other years. We have to respect the decision,' Ronaldo said. Yet again, Ronaldo and Messi snubbed each other on ballot papers they got as captains of Portugal and Argentina. Ronaldo selected three Real Madrid teammates headed by Gareth Bale, and Messi picked Luis Suarez atop an all-Barcelona ballot. Ronaldo's 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine. 'I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,' said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira. Messi's Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double in 2016, though Argentina lost another Copa America final. Griezmann's France and Atletico Madrid lost their finals to Ronaldo's teams. Ronaldo's mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title. 'What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,' said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation. Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid's Zinedine Zidane and Portugal's Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters. Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second straight year, despite a quarterfinals exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd said. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.' Germany did win the women's coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist. The Puskas Award for best goal was won in an online poll by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang. A players' vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo. The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord. FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30. After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Australian Dennis wins stage, takes Eneco lead

BRUSSELS: Australian time-trial specialist Rohan Dennis took the Eneco Tour lead on Tuesday(Wednesday in Manila) after winning the second stage race-against-the-clock. BMC Racing’s Dennis inherited the overall leader’s white jersey from Dutc.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 21st, 2016

Towns leads Timberwolves past injury-depleted Clippers

em>By Tim Liotta, Associated Press /em> LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Karl-Anthony Towns scored 37 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 45 seconds left, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Clippers 104-101 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Andrew Wiggins added 27 points, including two free throws with five seconds left that helped Minnesota snap its six-game road losing streak. DeAndre Jordan had 29 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Clippers, but was unable to make enough free throws down the stretch to keep his team in front. Austin Rivers added 20 points for Los Angeles. The Clippers played without star point guard Chris Paul, who tore a ligament in his left thumb Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) during a 120-98 victory over Oklahoma City. Paul underwent surgery Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) and is expected to be out six to eight weeks. Los Angeles is still missing star forward Blake Griffin due to injury as well. He is expected back in a week or two. Minnesota pulled to 97-96 when Towns sank a three-pointer with 2:48 to play. At the other end, the Timberwolves hacked Jordan repeatedly, looking to take advantage of his poor foul shooting. The big man went 4-of-8 from the line over five possessions, setting the stage for Towns to drain a jumper from the left elbow to tie the score at 98 with 2:28 to go. After Jordan made 1-of-2 again, Wiggins missed from the outside and Jamal Crawford made a 14-footer with 1:28 left for a 101-98 Los Angeles lead. Towns answered with a short jumper to pull Minnesota to 101-100 with 1:12 remaining. Crawford missed a short jumper before Towns hit an 18-footer with 45 seconds left to put the Timberwolves up 102-101. After J.J. Redick missed a three-pointer from the right side, Wiggins grabbed an offensive rebound at the other end and made two free throws to put Minnesota up by three. Redick and Crawford missed long three-point attempts in the final four seconds. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em>This was the first road victory for the Timberwolves since they beat Atlanta on Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em> Los Angeles shot 48 percent from the field but went 4-of-22 on three-pointers. The 7-0 mark tied the franchise record to start a calendar year. The team was also 7-0 to begin 1974 when the franchise was located in Buffalo. After this game, the Clippers play 10 of their next 11 on the road. They open a five-game trip in Denver on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), return home to play Golden State on Feb. 2 (Feb. 3, PHL time) and then set out on another five-game swing. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Timberwolves: /strong> /em> Home against Denver on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em> At the Nuggets on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Lucic-Baroni's career revival continues with Melbourne upset

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The last time Mirjana Lucic-Baroni won a match at the Australian Open, Bill Clinton was in the White House. That was 1998. This week, in a span of three days, she's won two matches here, including a dominant 6-3, 6-2 win over third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday. Nineteen years was a long wait in between victories. But the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni is getting used to moments like these since she returned to tennis full-time in 2008 following a long hiatus. And she wouldn't mind extending her stay in Melbourne just a little longer. 'I know I have some good tennis in me still, that's the reason I'm still out here at 34,' she said. 'I'm not a spring chicken for sure. I'm playing because I'm enjoying it and I know that I can still get some really big wins and really great results.' Comebacks are common these days in women's tennis, but few players have worked harder — and longer — to get back to an elite level than Lucic-Baroni. She made a memorable debut at the 1998 Australian Open at the age of 15. She won only one match in singles, but she and partner Martina Hingis captured the doubles title, an achievement she still finds amazing looking back now. 'Just kind of a little kid having fun,' she said. 'Everything was normal, winning big matches, playing on big court, winning the title, like it's nothing. It's crazy when you look at it now.' After a remarkable run to the Wimbledon singles semifinals in 1999, however, Lucic-Baroni's career suddenly fell apart. She stopped playing for several years and struggled financially. She returned to the lower-tier women's tour in the late 2000s to try to resume her career, but it would take another couple years before she'd make it back to a Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2010. And four more years before a major win at a slam — an upset over second-seeded Simona Halep at the 2014 U.S. Open. When her power game is clicking, though, Lucic-Baroni can compete with anyone, as she proved against Radwanska. She smacked 33 winners to just eight for Radwanska and wrapped up the match in 63 minutes by breaking the Pole for the sixth time. 'I went in there with a game plan today to win the match,' she said. 'I didn't go to see, enjoy the court. I'm way too old and I've been around way too long to just gain experience.' Now, she'll try to back up her big win with another over 21-year-old Maria Sakkari of Greece in the third round. 'I missed quite a few years on tour. I missed a lot,' she said. 'I feel like this time around, I don't really have anything left to prove to anybody. I'm just enjoying myself, playing for myself.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Pursuing a record 23rd major title, Williams opens with win

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — For the first five games in the second set, Serena Williams played almost flawless tennis in her first-round match at the Australian Open. Then came the rustiness that tends to follow a lengthy layoff, giving Belinda Bencic a glimmer of hope, before Williams regained her composure to win 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday. The six-time Australian Open champion improved her impressive record in the first round of Grand Slam tournaments to 65-1. The No. 2-ranked Williams' priority here is an Open era record 23rd major title. She's one win down — beating a player who was seeded 12th here last year and reached a career-high No. 7 ranking last February — and is targeting six more at Melbourne Park. 'She was just recently in the top 10. I knew it would be one of the toughest first-round matches I've ever played,' the newly engaged Williams said. In round two she'll meet Lucie Safarova, who beat Yanina Wickmayer 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1. Bencic got one service break in the first set, but only took two points in the first three games on Williams' serve in the second. Serving for the match at 6-4, 5-1, things changed. Williams finished her 2016 after the U.S. Open, resting injuries. And started 2017 with an error-prone loss in Auckland, New Zealand. Williams served only her second double-fault of the match to give Bencic a break-point chance, and Bencic converted it with a crosscourt winning forehand. The Swiss teenager held at love and then faced a match point, when Williams double-faulted again. The 35-year-old Williams made no mistake on her second match point and pumped her first in celebration. She finished with 30 winners and 30 unforced errors, eight errors and four double-faults. Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta both had their Grand Slam breakthroughs last year, both prepared for the season's first major with title runs in Australia and both advanced with straight sets wins. U.S. Open finalist Pliskova following her title win at the Brisbane International with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo. The fifth-seeded Pliskova, who beat Serena Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals before losing the final to Angelique Kerber, has never advanced past the third round at Melbourne Park — losing at that stage in the last two years to Ekaterina Makarova. Pliskova is feeling more confident this time. 'I feel good on the court, especially when I win my first title in the first week of the year,' Pliskova said. 'So I'm ready for the tournament.' Konta, who won the Sydney International title last week, had a tougher time in beating Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena. 'I definitely love playing here. It's a dream. A lot has happened in the last year, but I'm just enjoying playing and getting better each day.' Ninth-seeded Konta was a surprise semifinalist in her debut at the Australian Open last year, starting with a first-round win over Venus Williams and sparking a strong 2016 season which ended with her in the top 10. In other early results, No. 21 Caroline Garcia beat Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6 (4), 6-4 and No. 30 Makarova had a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova. On the men's side, No. 25 Gilles Simon beat U.S. wild-card entry Michael Mmoh 6-1, 6-3, 6-3. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Murray wins in straight sets in 1st major match as No. 1

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — In his first Grand Slam match with the elevated status of having a knighthood and the No. 1 ranking, Andy Murray berated himself when he made mistakes and frequently yelled during his 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Illya Marchenko. In other words, nothing much has changed in his approach. The five-time finalist, back in Melbourne trying to end his drought, started on Rod Laver Arena on Monday and took the first step in his bid for a first Australian Open title. Murray has lost four of the last six finals here — including the last two — to six-time champion Novak Djokovic. But he did take something off his long-time friend at the end of last year when he replaced Djokovic in the top ranking during a stunning finish to the season. In Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's honors list, Murray received a knighthood from the British monarch for reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Murray said the ranking and the civic honors won't change anything, and he faces 'the same pressure, same expectations.' He admits there's one thing he desperately wants to change. 'I've never won here — I'm going to try to change that this year,' he said. Two players who could potentially stand in his way — No. 5 Kei Nishikori and No. 10 Tomas Berdych — had first-round wins earlier in the day. Another, Roger Federer, was set to play his first tour-level match in more than six months when he played Jurgen Melzer in a night match on Rod Laver. There are 18 American women in the draw, and two recorded wins in the first two matches on Rod Laver. Venus Williams went onto main court right after Shelby Rogers' upset win over fourth-seeded Simona Halep, a result which sent the former French Open finalist out in the first round again. Williams also lost in the first round last year, and didn't plan to replicate Halep's early exit again. The seven-time major winner beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (5), 7-5, twice recovering breaks in the first set and despite her 48 unforced errors. 'It's never easy playing the first round — you're just trying to find the rhythm,' Williams said. 'She played amazing. It's very satisfying to get through a match against an opponent who is on fire.' Rogers caused the first upset of the tournament with her 6-3, 6-1 win over Halep. Rogers made a surprising run to the French Open quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza last year, when she was ranked No. 108, but only advanced to the second round at one other tournament in 2016. But the run at Roland Garros gave her confidence. 'The biggest thing I took away from that was just that I can compete with the top players in the world and I'm good enough,' said Rogers, who was playing just her second main draw match at the Australian Open. 'So I have definitely carried that away from the French Open and just been enjoying it a little bit.' Halep, a two-time quarterfinalist in Australia, said she'd been hampered by left knee pain that was compounded by the pressure of the match. Seventh-seeded Muguruza saved a set point in the first set, needed a medical timeout and had to fend off three break-point chances at 1-4 in the second set before advancing with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Marina Erakovic. Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig raced through her opening match, beating Patricia Tig 6-0, 6-1, and No. 20 Zhang Shuai, No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No. 27 Irina-Camelia Begu also advanced. Australian teenager Destanee Aiava's milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to German qualifier Mona Barthel. The 16-year-old Melbourne high school student became the first player born in this millennium to play a main draw match at a major. In two all-U.S. matches, Samantha Crawford defeated Lauren Davis 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 and Alison Riske beat Madison Brengle 7-5, 6-3. Fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe recovered from a break down, and an illness, in the second set to beat No. 15-seeded Roberta Vinci 6-1, 7-6 (3). Two other seeded players lost early women's matches, with Varvara Lepchenko beating No. 19 Kiki Bertens 7-5, 7-6 (5) and former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic beating No. 26 Laura Siegemund 6-1, 1-6, 6-4. On the men's side, Nishikori needed 3 hours, 34 minutes to beat Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2, but Berdych only played a set — which he won 6-1 — before Luca Vanni retired from their match. No. 19 John Isner beat Konstantin Kravchuk 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1 and advanced along with No. 27 Bernard Tomic, No. 29 Viktor Troicki and No. 31 Sam Querrey, who beat Quentin Halys 6-7 (10), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Fifth Harmony to stage 7/27 Tour in Manila this April

Fifth Harmony to stage 7/27 Tour in Manila this April.....»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  pepRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Rose, Johnson try to make up ground on Thomas

 DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer HONOLULU (AP) — Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose and Zach Johnson did their parts to stay in the game Friday at the Sony Open. Then it was up to Justin Thomas. Johnson birdied his last three holes for a 9-under 61, and Rose shot a 64. They joined Hudson Swafford (68) at 10-under 130. That allowed them to get within one shot of Thomas, who played Friday afternoon after opening with a 59. br /> 'Today was an important round to keep pace with them and obviously Justin Thomas, I also anticipate him playing well,' Rose said. 'It's about consistently playing well the whole week and waiting for your hot round.' br /> The conditions were so pure again — fast fairway, soft green and barely enough wind to blow a palm frond — that Rose isn't sure his 64 will be his best this week.' br /> Johnson, who has posted a 60 at the Tour Championship and at the Texas Open, holed a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 18th as he made the turn, and he closed with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 7, a birdie from 6 feet on No. 8 and a two-putt birdie from 30 feet on the par-5 ninth. br /> 'There wasn't any major stress,' Johnson said. br /> Swafford, who opened with a 62, could only manage a 68. br /> Webb Simpson (65) and Charles Howell III (66) were among those at 9-under 131, while the group at 132 included former Navy lieutenant Billy Hurley III (68) and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, who had his best year in 2016 on the Asian Tour. br /> Thomas posted the eighth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history on Thursday with a 15-foot eagle putt on the final hole. The only other player to shoot 59 in the first round was Paul Goydos in the 2010 John Deere Classic. He finished second that week to Steve Stricker, who opened with a 60. br /> Rose knows the feeling of a hot start. br /> Just over 10 years ago, he flirted with a 59 on the Palm course at Disney and settled for a 60. He was just as good the next day, but only for a short time, and had to settle for a 67. On the weekend, rounds of 72-69 left him in fourth place, five shots behind the winner, Joe Durant. br /> The message from that: It's a long week. br /> 'I think I started strong the second day ... and then yeah, stalled a bit,' Rose said. 'The rest of the field is going to keep making birdies, especially when they're playing free with nothing to lose when you are up ahead of them. You definitely need the mindset when you're that far ahead to keep the accelerator down. But it's hard to keep that sort of momentum going, for sure.' br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Worth a mention: Williams aiming for record 23rd major title

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams definitely doesn't want to talk about the No. 23. She doesn't really want to think about planning a wedding, either, while she's pursuing a Grand Slam record. Newly engaged Williams brushed off concerns about the 88 unforced errors she had in a loss in New Zealand last week in her only warmup tournament ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Monday and where she's aiming for Open-era record 23rd major title. 'I've moved on,' she said. 'I'm feeling relaxed, calm, ready and poised.' Williams responded to questions about milestone achievements last year when she had 21 Grand Slam titles, and it didn't help — she lost the final here to Angelique Kerber and to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open era mark of 22. She's being more superstitious this time. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, said as she shut down questions during a promotional activity this week. 'I said I'm not talking about that. Move on.' Another Australian title is also high on the agenda for Novak Djokovic, who already has won six. But he isn't thinking much beyond his opening match after drawing Fernando Verdasco. A first is the priority for Andy Murray, recently knighted in Britain after finishing 2016 at No. 1. He is looking at the draw from the top for the first time at a major and is hoping it comes with a change in fortunes at Melbourne Park. He has lost five Australian Open finals — the first to Roger Federer in 2010, the other four to Djokovic. Federer could again stand in his way, only at the quarterfinal stage this time. The 17-time major winner slipped down the rankings during six months off last year recovering from an injured left knee and was seeded No. 17. Williams took time off after the U.S. Open, where she lost in the semifinals for the second year running and lost the top ranking to Kerber. The big news during her break was her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month, when she posted a poem on the news website to confirm she'd accepted his proposal. After hitting this week with 16-year-old Destanee Aiava, who will be the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a major when she meets a qualifier in the first round, Williams said her mind was back entirely on business. 'I told (Ohanian) my main goal was to win this title,' she said. 'Yeah, it really doesn't feel like anything different.' No date has been set for the wedding, with Williams' mind on one major thing, so she's not thinking about a dress or a cake, and she's not wearing a ring to practice. 'Oh my God. I don't think about it really,' she said, responding to questions about her marriage plans. 'I'm just ... I don't know I'll have to ask him that. I have a job — I mean, he does too. I kinda gotta focus.' Kerber won the Australian and U.S. Open titles last year, so will be attempting to defend a major for the first time in Melbourne. She may be feeling pressure as the No. 1 seed, having won only one match in two warmup tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney. That doesn't take any pressure off Williams. 'I am No. 2, I guess. I definitely don't feel like anyone's saying that, 'Oh, there's no pressure on Serena,'' she said. 'It's always there, I'm used to it. 'I feel like I've been No. 1 for so long, so many times. I've done things that are amazing. Sometimes that ranking really means a lot, but also I feel like sometimes just winning events ... means just as much.' That's something Djokovic understands. His 122-week streak at No. 1 ended amid Murray's incredible finish to last season, when he won Wimbledon and defended the Olympic gold medal among eight titles he won after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach. Before then, Djokovic had beaten Murray in the Australian and French Open finals, his 11th and 12th major titles. Half of those have come in Melbourne, where his victory last year equaled the record six Australian titles Roy Emerson won (1961 and 1963-67). 'I'm feeling phenomenal,' Djokovic said after arriving in Australia following a win over Murray in his season-opening event at Doha. 'Maybe this is the year — 2017 for seven. I'm not a numerologist, but it sounds good.' Murray jumped on a flight almost immediately after last year's final to be with his wife, who was expecting their first child. There have been plenty of changes for him since, becoming a father for the first time, No. 1 in the world for the first time, and reuniting with Lendl. 'Each time I come, I think I've got a chance of winning but it's just never happened,' he said. 'Hopefully, this year will be different. 'I do think the last few months of last year can help me with giving me confidence — other players look at that and see you're playing well and (I) feel physically and mentally strong.' Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who ended the run of wins by Djokovic and Murray when he won the U.S. Open last September, said the next generation of players such as Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori would be among the contenders for the Australian title. But he thinks it will be difficult for any new champion to emerge against the likes of the in-form Murray and Djokovic, and the returning Federer and Rafael Nadal. 'So far, last 10 years, the 'Big Four' was really strong,' Wawrinka said, 'so it's going to be interesting to see this year how Novak, Andy, Rafa, and Roger will play.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 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

Kings rally back to beat Pistons

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to help the Sacramento Kings stage a fourth-quarter comeback in defeating the Detroit Pistons 100-94 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). The Pistons led by nine entering the fourth, when they were outscored 32-17. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Kings, who had lost five of six since winning a season-high four straight. Anthony Tolliver added 17 points for Sacramento. Kosta Koufos scored 10 of his 12 in the final period. Rudy Gay and Garrett Temple both finished with 11. The Kings closed the game with an 11-2 run, and Detroit went scoreless over the final 1:15. They made four three-pointers in the fourth and were 13-of-24 overall from beyond the arc. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made six three’s and had 21 points for the Pistons, who had won two straight and three of four. Reggie Jackson had 19 points, Tobias Harris 18 and Andre Drummond added nine points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. Temple's triple with just under two minutes left gave the Kings their first lead since the opening quarter. Cousins hit another three-pointer to put Sacramento ahead 98-94. Averaging 28.1 points per game, Cousins had only 55 over the previous three games while shooting 17 of 45. He scored 16 first-half points this time, but picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Pistons: /strong> /em>Detroit made its first three triples and was 5-of-7 in the first quarter. G Reggie Bullock (left knee meniscus tear) hasn't played since Nov. 23, but has been practicing for a week. Drummond missed his first five free throws and finished 1-for-6. em> strong>Kings: /strong> /em>Veteran forward Matt Barnes was given the night off by coach Dave Joerger. It was Equality Night at Golden 1 Center. Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay player, sat courtside and joined various organizations to honor the Sacramento LGBTQ community. The Kings had 11 first-half turnovers that led to 12 points. They trailed 56-43 at halftime. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Pistons: /strong> /em> Travel to Golden State for Thursday's game (Friday, PHL time) against the team with the NBA's best record. em> strong>Kings: /strong> /em>Host the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2017

Jaguars hire Marrone, bring back Coughlin, extend Caldwell

MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer br /> Jacksonville's coaching search landed someone from its past and present. The Jaguars can only hope the old-school combination leads to better results in the future. Owner Shad Khan hired Doug Marrone as head coach Monday and brought back Tom Coughlin to oversee football operations. Marrone replaces Gus Bradley, who was fired in late November after going 14-48 in three-plus seasons. The Jaguars (3-13) also gave general manager Dave Caldwell a two-year contract extension. So Marrone, Coughlin and Caldwell are now signed through 2019, giving the new regime a three-year window to, at the very least, make Jacksonville relevant in the AFC South. 'I have confidence that one day soon we'll look back on today's news as the moment that inspired and ultimately established the Jacksonville Jaguars as a football team that wins, week to week and season to season,' Khan said in a statement. 'The results will speak for themselves in time, but with Tom coming in to join Dave and Doug, there is no question the Jacksonville Jaguars are a stronger football team today.' Marrone and Caldwell will report to Coughlin, meaning Jacksonville's first coach is now in charge and will have final say in personnel decisions. Marrone is the fifth head coach in franchise history, following Coughlin (1995-2002), Jack Del Rio (2003-11), Mike Mularkey (2012) and Bradley (2013-16). 'I think Doug has earned the respect of the offensive players, and I'm excited for him to get this opportunity and the direction of this team,' quarterback Blake Bortles told AP in a text message. Coughlin, a winner of two Super Bowls in 12 seasons with the New York Giants, will serve as executive vice president of football operations. Coughlin, who led the Jaguars to four playoff appearances in his first five years, will have final say in the NFL draft and in free agency. Caldwell has been the primary decision maker in all personnel moves the last four years. 'I am honored to welcome Tom Coughlin back to Jacksonville, where winning was customary under his leadership,' Khan said. 'I know he expects the same in his return to head our football operations, and that's good news for us and Jaguars fans everywhere. The extension of Dave Caldwell's contract speaks to his excellent work thus far and the continued importance of complementing our talented and promising roster.' Khan, who hired Jed Hughes of Korn Ferry International to help with the search, also interviewed Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Arizona offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin for the head coaching job. He ended up keeping Marrone, who served as Jacksonville's interim coach for the final two games. The Jaguars won one and blew a late lead in the season finale at Indianapolis. Players seemed to rally around him, but after the loss to the Colts, rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey said a 'complete flip will serve us good.' Marrone and Coughlin could provide that. They surely will bring a different vibe, a much more disciplined approach that will put more emphasis on winning games than Bradley did. 'I can see what they're doing,' veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis told AP. 'These are good moves for a young team, a team that needs to be held to a certain standard. Marrone's a good man. He's good for the culture. 'It's not like we're bringing in a brand new coach and he's going to wipe the face of the earth of everything we've built.' Marrone likely will keep offensive coordinator Nate Hackett, providing some stability for the inconsistent Bortles. The 2014 first-round draft pick has had three play callers in three seasons. Marrone has been Jacksonville's assistant head coach/offensive line coach since January 2015. He joined the team after two seasons as Buffalo's head coach. He guided the Bills to a 15-17 record before opting out of his contract because of uncertainty over potential organizational changes. The Bills went 9-7 in Marrone's second season in 2014, the franchise's only winning record since 2004. The 70-year-old Coughlin led the Jaguars to a 68-60 record in eight seasons. Coughlin resigned last January after a dozen years with the Giants, but made it clear he wanted to return to the NFL. He served as a senior adviser to the league's football operations department this season. 'He's got so much experience on myself or on any coach that we have in this building and he's a great individual, so I think you can always learn from people,' Caldwell said after Bradley was fired. 'There's always a place for knowledge.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Giants need to turn their attention to fixing the offense

TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer br /> EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) — Hiring Ben McAdoo to replace Tom Coughlin as coach, spending a mint on the defense in free agency and picking up a couple of gems in the first two rounds of the NFL draft got the New York Giants back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Despite a one-sided wild-card loss to the Packers on Sunday, there is much optimism looking toward 2017. The team went from 6-10 the past two seasons to an 11-5 regular-season mark that included a pair of wins over the NFC top-seeded Dallas Cowboys. All general manager Jerry Reese has to do in the offseason is fix the offense this time around, with a lot less money to spend in free agency. The unit that was supposed to be the strength of the team failed to score 30 points in any game and wrapped up the year by scoring less than 20 in the final six games, including Sunday's 38-13 setback to the Packers. The running game was among the worst in the league and 36-year-old Eli Manning never had much time to throw. Odell Beckham Jr. was his big weapon — 101 catches, including 10 touchdowns — but there was little else outside of him and rookie Sterling Shepard, the second-round pick. 'We felt that we had the talent and the coaching in the scheme this year to have a better year than we had,' McAdoo said. 'We obviously fell short from an offensive prospective.' The offensive line might need the most attention. Left tackle Ereck Flowers, the No. 1 pick in 2015, has underperformed, and right guard John Jerry and right tackle Marshall Newhouse will be unrestricted free agents. A decision has to be made on the future of receiver Victor Cruz. He played after missing most of the last two seasons but was limited to 39 catches playing on the outside instead of his normal slot position, which was given to Shepard. 'Obviously you can't do everything in one year, or one draft, or one free agency period,' Reese said. 'We have things that we can build on. We want to continue to build on every position and upgrade where we can, and build as strong a football team as we can, moving forward.' Most of the players in the locker room felt the foundation was set for the future and a fifth Super Bowl title for the Giants. 'I'm by no means satisfied,' linebacker Devon Kennard said. 'I don't think anybody in this locker room is satisfied with how things ended. It's going to be motivation for us moving forward.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Lakers beat Magic, pick up back-to-back wins

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Julius Randle scored 19 points and rookie Brandon Ingram matched his career high with 17 in the Los Angeles Lakers' 111-95 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). It was the first time in their last 30 games the Lakers put together consecutive victories. D'Angelo Russell also scored 17 points for the Lakers, and center Timofey Mozgov had 15 points and nine rebounds. It was the second consecutive game Ingram matched his career-high in points. Serge Ibaka, Evan Founier and Nikola Vucevic each scored 19 points to lead Orlando. The Magic dropped their third straight. The Magic trailed by two at the break, but missed their first 10 shots in the second half. They did not connect on a field goal until Ibaka hit a driving hook shot with 4:47 left in the third quarter. Orlando finished just 2-of-10 from the field in third quarter and scored only nine points a season-low for any quarter by a Lakers' opponent. The Magic shot 37.8 percent for the night. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Magic: /strong> /em>Vucevic started the first 16 games of the season, averaging 11.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and 27.6 minutes per game while shooting 43.7 percent. In his next 19 games off the bench, he's averaged 14.1 points and 9.5 rebounds in 28.7 minutes, shooting 46.5 percent. Orlando is 29th in free-throw percentage (71.4). em> strong>Lakers: /strong> /em> Forward Larry Nance Jr., out since Dec. 20 (Dec. 21, PHL time) with a left knee bruise, continues to improve and has begun shooting. 'Hopefully, he's close,' Lakers coach Luke Walton said. The season-high 127 points the Lakers scored in their win Friday (Saturday, PHL time) against the Miami Heat included a season-high 62 rebounds. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Magic: /strong> /em> Remain in Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Orlando has lost its last six to the Clippers, who now have All-Star guard Chris Paul back from a hamstring injury. em> strong>Lakers: /strong> /em>Play the Trail Blazers for the second time in six days when they host Portland on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). The Blazers have won a team record nine consecutive games against the Lakers after their 118-109 loss in Portland on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Higuain helps Juventus to record 26th straight home win

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Beermen stay hot after surviving Gin Kings in thriller

It wasn't as dominant as their last couple of wins but it was a win regardless. Two-time defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel pushed its winning streak to six games after surviving sister team Ginebra in a low-scoring affair, 72-70, Sunday at the Big Dome. Already assured of a quarterfinal berth after taking care of Blackwater just two days ago, the Beermen have started their quest for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. The champs also maintained their stranglehold of first place after pushing their record to a near-perfect 7-1. San Miguel appeared to cruise to a victory, leading by eight with two minutes to go but Ginebra got two booming treys from Joe Devance and LA Tenorio to make things interesting. With 11 seconds to go, the Gin Kings had the chance to tie or go for the win after Marcio Lassiter missed two crucial free throws but Tenorio's floater was way short against the defense of Arwind Santos. 'I know from the start na this will be a tight game for us dahil I think the energy of our team has gone down since our last game against Blackwater,' head coach Leo Austria said who once again started his post-game talk with his now infamous 'well ah...' remark. 'Mabuti na lang talagang may kaunti pang Petron na laman ang gas tank ng mga players,' he added finding time to put a little product placement here and there. Despite a broken nose, Alex Cabagnot once again led the Beermen in scoring with 16 points while Santos posted a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds. Ronald Tubid came off the bench to add another 10 points for the champs. Meanwhile, Ginebra's up-and-down season continued as the Gin Kings dropped to 3-4 in the Philippine Cup. Japeth Aguilar picked up where he left off from Christmas and paced Ginebra with 17 points.   The scores: SAN MIGUEL 72 - Cabagnot 16, Tubid 12, Santos 10, Fajardo 9, Lassiter 7, Espinas 7, De Ocampo 5, Ross 4, Garcia 2, Heruela 0. GINEBRA 70 - Aguilar 17, Mercado 11, Tenorio 8, Devance 7, Ferrer 7, Thompson 6, Cruz 6, Ellis 2, Mariano 2, Marcelo 2, Caguioa 2. Quarters: 15-17, 32-31, 53-49, 72-70   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Thomas takes 2-shot lead over Matsuyama in Kapalua

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer br /> KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Justin Thomas, who as a skinny kid in Kentucky had to hit driver to reach a par 3 in junior golf, stood on the 14th tee at Kapalua trying to decide if 3-wood would be enough to drive the green on a par that was playing 287 yards up the hill. His caddie thought driver was the club, and Thomas took it from there. 'It needs to be something hot to run up there,' he said. 'And I just nuked it, and hit it low and just enough to scoot up the ridge.' The ball bounded onto the green to 20 feet, and Thomas made that for eagle . It was enough for him to take control Saturday at the SBS Tournament of Champions, ultimately leading to a third straight round of 6-under 67 and a two-shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama, who had a 66. Perhaps it's only fitting that those who will be in the final group. Thomas, who was at 18-under 201, is the only player to beat Matsuyama over the last three months. The 24-year-old from Japan has won four of his last tournaments dating to Oct. 16 at the Japan Open, a streak that includes seven-shot victories in Japan and at a World Golf Championships event in Shanghai. Thomas beat him by three at the CIMB Classic at Malaysia, and Matsuyama wasn't much of a threat that final round. He is now. 'If I'm near Hideki in the tournament, that's usually a pretty good thing on Sunday,' Thomas said. 'He's obviously a tremendous player and he's on an unbelievable run here the last five events. I actually had no idea I was the only one to beat him in the last five events, which is absurd, the fact he's won four of his last five. ... But there's a lot of great players out there. I just need to go take care of my job.' There might not be as many players to beat in this winners-only field after Thomas gave himself a little separation. Only five players were within five shots of the lead going into the final round, with Dustin Johnson seven shots back and world No. 1 Jason Day eight shots behind. Thomas was only mildly perturbed that his lead wasn't greater. Following his eagle on the 14th, he smashed another drive that caught the slope on the par-5 15th and rolled to the bottom of the hill, a 348-yard drive that left him only 180 yards to the elevated green. But his shot was a clunker coming out of the short rough, and while he hit a tough pitch to 6 feet, he read a fraction too much break in the putt and had to settle for par. 'I had 8-iron twice and made par,' he said of his week. On the short 16th, he pounded another drive within 60 yards of the pin, but his wedge came up well short and he missed from 15 feet. He also looked back to how he closed out the front nine, with a soft bogey on No. 7 and missed birdie chances of 10 feet on the par-3 eighth and a 3-footer on the par-5 ninth. 'I'm definitely not disappointed with today, but I left a lot out there,' Thomas said. Matsuyama made three birdies over his last five holes, starting with a chip-in on the 14th hole, to get into the final group as he goes for his fourth straight victory 'Justin doesn't have any weaknesses at all in his game,' Matsuyama said. 'He hits it long, has a marvelous short game, putts well, hits the ball well. We've got to go low tomorrow to be able to catch him.' Memorial winner William McGirt, one of 11 players playing the Plantation course at Kapalua for the first time, played bogey-free for a 66 and was four shots behind, along with Ryan Moore (71) and Jimmy Walker (70). Moore was tied for the lead until Thomas drove the 14th green for his eagle and Moore missed a 15-foot birdie putt. On the next hole, Moore's tee shot plugged into the steep face of a bunker and he had no choice but to pitch out sideways, leading to another bogey. Walker spent most of the gorgeous afternoon wincing over putts that kept burning the edges of the cup. 'Plenty of looks. Nothing went in,' Walker said. 'That's just kind of frustrating, especially the finish. I had a good look on 17, and then to not get that up-and-down on 18 is a bummer. ... I'm hitting the putts the way I feel like I need to hit them. They're just not going in.' Thomas has won twice in his three years on the PGA Tour, both in Malaysia. Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, had another double bogey, this one on his second hold. He ended with a three-putt par on the 18th for a 70 and was 10 shots behind. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Pliskova routs Cornet, wins Brisbane title

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Karolina Pliskova won all but five points in the first six games to set up a 6-0, 6-3 rout of Alize Cornet in the Brisbane International final on Saturday, setting an ominous tone for the first Grand Slam. The U.S. Open finalist will move to a career-high No. 5 ranking for the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 16, after winning her first Brisbane title and seventh on the WTA tour. The first set lasted less than 20 minutes, with third-seeded Pliskova not dropping a point on serve until the last game. Cornet, who was unseeded and ranked No. 41, didn't get on the scoreboard until she held to open the second set. 'I didn't miss in almost the whole first set,' Pliskova said. 'Yeah, I was feeling pretty good.' Cornet said she couldn't get a read on Pliskova's serve, rating it as more difficult to handle than 22-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams' serve. Pliskova is 'serving really, really well. I mean, I played Serena a few times, and I could always be able to return a first serve ... somehow,' Cornet said. 'When you have a serve like this, it's such a weapon. It's pretty much nightmare, actually.' On Sunday, Sydney International organizers said Pliskova, who was scheduled to be seeded fourth there, withdrew due to a left inner thigh injury. Pliskova had a breakout season in 2016, reaching her first Grand Slam final — beating both Venus and Serena Williams before losing to Angelique Kerber at the U.S. Open — and helping the Czech Republic win the Fed Cup. On the men's side, Milos Raonic's title defense ended in a 7-6 (7), 6-2 semifinal loss to Grigor Dimitrov, who will play third-seeded Kei Nishikori in Sunday's final. Dimitrov fended off set point in the tiebreaker and converted his own moments later. He broke Raonic's serve twice in the second set. Raonic didn't blame a late finish on Friday in his quarterfinal win over Rafael Nadal, or the toll that playing the 14-time Grand Slam winner took on his body. Dimitrov 'made it obviously very difficult (and) I didn't turn around and bring the performance I needed to bring,' Raonic said. 'I was just a tidbit slow.' Raonic made the semifinals at the Australian Open last year, reached his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, and finished the year ranked No. 3. But he hasn't won a title since his success in Brisbane last year. He thinks his preparation can change that in 2017. 'I'm on that right track,' he said. 'I feel like if I can avoid that hiccup, I can have a very, very good time in Melbourne.' Nishikori beat U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (3), 6-3 to reach the Brisbane final for the first time, ending a run of three semifinal defeats. He has a 3-0 record against Dimitrov, who lost the 2013 Brisbane final to Andy Murray. Wawrinka had treatment on his left ankle in the first and second sets but didn't expect it to cause him any trouble at the Australian Open. Nishikori took full advantage, converting his first break point in the second set to take a 3-1 lead when Wawrinka missed consecutive backhands. The No. 2-seeded Wawrinka broke back immediately, but dropped his serve again in the next game. Wawrinka beat Nishikori in the U.S. Open semifinals; his only win in their past four matches. Now they're 4-4 in career meetings. Nishikori is making his seventh trip to Brisbane. 'This is my first time to get Sunday, so I'm really happy,' the 2014 U.S. Open finalist said. 'And especially beating Stan today, it was a good start of the year.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017