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Federer gracious in praise of Sunday opponent at Aussie Open

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — As befitting his status as a 17-time Grand Slam champion and as an astute judge of the sport, Roger Federer's reply to a simple question about his next opponent was handled with the same aplomb as one of his stylish groundstrokes. The player in question was Kei Nishikori, who plays Federer in a fourth-round night match Sunday at Rod Laver Arena. 'I'm a big fan of his game,' Federer said. 'He's got one of the best backhands out there. I love how he can crush it down the line or cross-court. He's got wonderful second serve returns. He's fast on his legs. Strong in his mind. I know how tough he is as the match goes along. He finds his range and his rhythm, he's tough to stop.' Federer said he'll need another strong service game if he's going to give Nishikori some trouble. In Federer's win over Tomas Berdych on Thursday, he didn't face a break point and he won points on 95 percent of the first serves he got into play — 39 of 41, and all 16 in the third and final set. 'This one's going to be completely different to Tomas ... there's going to be more rallies, even though the surface remains fast. I said it at the beginning of the week, it's not easy to control the ball. Today again, when you serve well, it pays dividends. I hope I can keep that up against Kei.' Asked if Nishikori should be considered the favorite because of the No. 5 seeding (Federer is 17th after a six-month left knee injury layoff) Federer replied, smiling: 'Yeah, sure, he's the favorite. Maybe. I don't know.' Nishikori said he watched some of the Federer-Berdych match and was impressed. 'Roger, it's a big challenge for me,' Nishikori said. 'I'm just happy to play him because I think we needed him on the tour. Happy to see him back 100 percent.' Here are some other featured matches Sunday: ___ NO PRESSURE: Top-seeded Andy Murray plays Mischa Zverev in an afternoon match at Margaret Court Arena. Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist, is heavily favored. The 50th-ranked Zverev, the older brother of 19-year-old rising star Alexander Zverev — who lost to Rafael Nadal in the third round — says Murray could go either way while pondering his ranking advantage. 'I don't know if it's more pressure on him or maybe it's a relief,' Mischa Zverev said. 'If someone like Novak (Djokovic) is out of the tournament, I feel like the whole rhythm of the tournament changes a little bit, so we'll see what's going to happen.' Zverev hopes to possibly rile the often volatile Murray. 'If he plays his best tennis, obviously I don't think I have a lot of chances, but it'll depend on the day,' he said. 'Let's see if I can annoy him a little bit. If I'm serving well and not missing any volleys, maybe I can do some damage.' ____ KERBER IN CONTROL?: Defending champion Angelique Kerber plays American CoCo Vandeweghe in the match following Federer-Nishikori on Rod Laver. Kerber holds a 2-0 career edge, although the last time the two played — in Wuhan, China in 2015 — Vandeweghe retired from the match with a left ankle injury while trailing 6-1, 3-1. 'CoCo is a tough opponent ... she's serving well,' Kerber said. 'I have to move good ... bring a lot of balls back, but also be aggressive.' ___ IN BRIEF: Venus Williams, who is appearing in her 73rd Grand Slam main draw — a record for the Open era — plays Mona Barthel in an afternoon match. U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka continues his quest for titles in consecutive Grand Slams — and his fourth major overall — when he plays Andreas Seppi. French Open champion Garbine Muguruza plays Sorana Cirstea. ___ Associated Press writer Justin Bergman contributed to this story. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

A tournament without Djokovic to hit home in Australia

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The stark reality of an Australian Open third round without Novak Djokovic — for the first time in 11 years — hits home on Saturday when the remaining players in his half of the draw, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic among them, attempt to advance to the second week of the tournament. Djokovic was beaten on Thursday in five sets by wild-card entry Denis Istomin, the earliest that the Serbian star has left Melbourne Park in singles since his first appearance here in 2006 when he was beaten by American Paul Goldstein in the first round. 'What Novak did here is just amazing, six victories here, six titles ... so it is not possible to be every time in that situation, no?' Nadal said after his second-round win. 'So then today was probably an accident, that's all. We are athletes. We know when we are going on court we can lose and we can win. It probably was a combination that Denis played a great match and Novak didn't play his best. When this combination happens, then you are in trouble. Everything can happen. And (it) happened.' Istomin, meanwhile, plays on. He's up against 30th-ranked Pablo Carreno Busta on Show Court 2 on Friday. Here's a look at some of the key matchups Saturday: ___ RAFA'S TOUGH ASSIGNMENT: Nadal plays 19-year-old Alexander Zverev in an afternoon match at Rod Laver Arena. The young German was voted the ATP Star of Tomorrow in 2015 and has mostly lived up to the hype, seeded 24th here. 'He is one of the best players in the world, without a doubt ... and one of the next Grand Slam winners,' Nadal said. 'He has a big chance to become the future world No. 1 if he's able to keep improving the way that he's doing.' Nadal has been playing well since his return to the circuit after two lengthy injury spells last year, the 14-time major winner looking almost flawless in his straight sets win over Marcos Baghdatis in the second round. Still, he's expecting to have his hands full with Zverev: 'I know I have a very tough match ... I know I need to play my best if I want to have a chance.' ___ A SERENA BREATHER?: Six-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams had two fairly tough matches through the first two rounds, facing Belinda Bencic, a former No. 7-ranked player now sitting at 59, and Lucie Safarova, ranked No. 61 but who Williams beat in the 2015 French Open final. Williams won both matches in straight sets. Her third-round match is against fellow American Nicole Gibbs, who Williams beat in straight sets at Stanford in 2012 in their only previous meeting. Williams said she feels she's better for the experience of having had tough opposition in the first two rounds. 'When I play players like Bencic and Safarova, they force me to play better,' Williams said. 'It forces my game from the very first day to be at a high level. I needed something to start really fast. I'm not going to complain about it.' ___ CONTRASTING STYLES: Third-seeded Milos Raonic plays Gilles Simon on Hisense Arena and the Canadian holds a 3-1 edge in career meetings. Their only Grand Slam match came in the fourth round of the 2014 French Open, when Raonic won in five sets, including 7-5 in the fifth. 'I know a lot about his game. I've watched him play a lot,' Raonic said. 'He's going to be there really trying to get me to play at his speed, his rhythm. Obviously he tries to slow things down, play low. I won't have the opportunity to get too many swings at many shots.' Which means Raonic, with one of the best serves in the game, will try to get points over quickly. 'I've got to serve well and I've got to be aggressive and I've got to take it to him. The last thing I want to do is get into this sort of game of playing long rallies with him.' ___ KONTA vs WOZNIACKI: Last year's semifinalist Johanna Konta and Caroline Wozniacki, a former No. 1 who made it to the final four here in 2011, meet for the first time in an afternoon match at Margaret Court Arena. Both have been playing well, Konta coming off a win in the Sydney International last week, and Wozniacki having dropped just seven games in her first two matches at Melbourne Park. 'She had a good last year,' Wozniacki said. 'But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter who is on the other side.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Federer joins Murray in 4th round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer showed against 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych that his first two wins against qualifiers at the Australian Open really were warmups. The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded a lowly-by-his-standards 17th after spending six months on the sidelines last season, only needed 90 minutes to beat Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round on Friday night. This was against a rival who played the Wimbledon final in 2010 and reached the quarterfinals or better in Australia the previous six years. And he'd beaten Federer in six of their previous 22 matches. Federer hit some vintage backhand winners, one that earned a hearty applause from the great Rod Laver — sitting in the crowd at the stadium named in his honor — in the second set. He had 40 winners and won 95 percent of points when he got his first serve into play. He didn't face a breakpoint. 'Crazy how quick I got out of the blocks — I did surprise myself,' Federer said of his almost flawless performance against Berdych. 'I did feel like I struggled a bit in the first two rounds.' He next plays fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori, who beat Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for a sixth straight year at Melbourne Park. Federer leads that matchup 4-2, winning the last three. The winner of that has a potential quarterfinal against top-ranked Andy Murray, who showed no signs of trouble with his sore ankle as he advanced to the Round of 16 for the ninth straight year with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 31 Sam Querrey. It was Querrey who ended then No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic's impressive Grand Slam run in the third round at Wimbledon last year. At that time, Djokovic had won four straight major titles — Wimbledon and U.S. Open in 2015 and Australian Open and French Open in 2016. Murray, who replaced Djokovic at No. 1 last November, said he was surprised at the six-time Australian Open champion's second-round loss to Denis Istomin the previous night. But the five-time Australian Open runner-up didn't think it changed anything for him, unless he reached the final. 'I wasn't scheduled to play Novak today, so my job's to concentrate on Sam and to go into that match with a clear head and a good game plan and try to play well,' said Murray, who lost to Djokovic in four of the five finals he has contested in Melbourne. 'I did that. 'Obviously, if you're to get to the final, then it has an effect.' Murray injured his right ankle in the second round, and said he was hesitant at first but warmed into the match against Querrey. 'I felt better and better as the match went on in terms of my movement,' Murray said. 'I was moving well at the end — it was very positive.' Murray next plays Mischa Zverev. Seven-time major winner Venus Williams routed Duan Yingying 6-1, 6-0 in less than an hour to progress to the fourth round for the 10th time since her Australian Open debut in 1998. 'It's good (but) it's never enough,' she said, looking ahead to her fourth-round match against Mona Barthel. 'I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for.' The last two Americans in the men's draw lost within an hour of each other. After Querrey's exit, No. 23-seeded Jack Sock lost 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-7 (8), 6-3 to No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. There are no more Australians in the men's draw, either, after Daniel Evans beat Bernard Tomic 7-5, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka had 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7) win over Viktor Troicki to move into a fourth-round match against Andreas Seppi. In the last match of day five, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza closed out with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Anastasia Sevastova. Top-ranked Angelique Kerber had a straight-sets win for the first time in her first Australian Open title defense, 6-0, 6-4 against Kristyna Pliskova. She next play 35th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, who reached the fourth round in Australia for the first time with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over 2014 semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard. Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova held off former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 5-7, 9-7 in 3 ½ hours. Australian Open organizers were briefed by Victoria state police over an incident in downtown Melbourne where a man deliberately drove into a street crowded with pedestrians, killing three people and injuring 20. Police said the incident, about three kilometers (two miles) from Melbourne Park, had no links to terrorism. 'Be assured there is no threat to the precinct,' Australian Open organizers said in a statement. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Diego Maradona hopeful of future Napoli role

  NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Former Napoli star Diego Maradona is in talks to work with the Serie A side, where he is still idolized nearly 27 years after leaving the club. Maradona, who is in Naples for a theatrical event on Monday celebrating the club's first title win, met with Napoli President Aurelio de Laurentiis on Saturday night. 'It was the first step,' Maradona said Sunday. 'First of all I have to sort out the problems I have here in Italy, then I can work for Napoli in Italy and in the world. 'We have to do things well because I want a winning team, a team that can play on level terms against Juve, Inter, Milan and Roma. He understood immediately because in these years he has grown from a president who didn't know much about football to become an expert today.' An Italian court is scheduled to finally end the decades-long battle between Maradona and the Italian government on Feb. 28. Maradona has always insisted he does not owe any of the millions in back taxes the government claims are due. The 56-year-old Argentine arrived in the city on Saturday night and was greeted by more than 100 cheering Napoli fans, who had waited in freezing temperatures outside his hotel for a glimpse of their idol. 'It continues to surprise me,' Maradona said. 'There are kids who have never seen me play and today they get excited and cry for a photo with me. 'Every day I feel the affection and love the Neapolitan people have for me. The father has transmitted it to his son, who has then transmitted it to his and this will never end. After 30 years the same love continues, like the first woman you have in your life.' Maradona led Napoli to its only two league titles in 1987 and 1990 and scored a club record 115 goals between 1984 and 1991. 'After a match against Cremona at the beginning of the season which didn't count for anything but which drew 80,000 people, I understood that here at Napoli we needed to play for the title,' Maradona said. 'I came from Barcelona, where we could win, draw or lose, but here at Napoli no, I couldn't lose, I told myself then. 'I would have been ashamed to have 80,000 people and then not to win. And we won everywhere, at Juve, at Inter, at Roma... And if now Napoli can think it can win the title, it is thanks to me.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Best day ever: Destanee hits with Serena, her inspiration

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Last week, Destanee Aiava became the first player born this millennium to win a main draw match at a WTA event. Next week, the 16-year-old Australian will be the first player born in the 2000s to play in the main draw at a Grand Slam tournament, thanks to a wild-card entry to the Australian Open. This week, the highlight has been hitting with Serena Williams, the 22-time Grand Slam champion and the inspiration for Aiava's career. Aiava was 5 when she watched one of the Williams' matches on TV, and told her parents that tennis was going to be her career. Her parents took her seriously, and her mother became her learn-as-she-goes coach. On Thursday, the 35-year-old Williams did a promotional appearance for her racket sponsor on Margaret Court Arena, including a hit up against the Melbourne schoolgirl. Asked what it was like to hit with the six-time Australian Open winner, Aiava paused for a while before Williams chimed in with an answer for her: 'Great.' Aiava laughed, admitting she was more nervous meeting Williams than she had been playing in an exhibition tournament earlier in the day. 'It's actually one of the best days of my life,' she said. 'I've had a lot of fun today, getting to hit with Serena. Hopefully there'll be more opportunities like this in future.' Williams is seeded No. 2 at Melbourne Park, where she lost the final last year to Angelique Kerber. She lost the French Open final to Garbine Muguruza before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 major titles. Aiava, who was born on May 10, 2000, and was No. 386 at the start of the season, has already met the long-retired Graf, her prize for winning the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in Paris in 2012. After her first-round win in Brisbane last week, she lost to two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. So she's getting more comfortable in elite tennis company. The arena where she hit with Williams carries the name of the woman who holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles — Margaret Court won 24 from 1960 to 1973 in a career that spanned the amateur and Open eras. Williams is aiming for 23 when the Australian Open starts Monday and, with her competitive spirit, there's little doubt there's another target for her in the future. For now, though, she's not prepared to mention those milestones. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams said Thursday, despite some extra urging. 'I said I'm not talking about that, move on.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Knighthoods for Murray and Farah in New Year's Honors List

LONDON (AP) — Andy Murray received a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's Honors list on Friday, recognition from the monarch for reaching the pinnacle of tennis by winning his second Wimbledon and Olympic titles on his way to topping the rankings. The 29-year-old Murray was previously named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, in 2012 after becoming Olympic champion for the first time. Joining Murray in being knighted in British sports is Mo Farah, who retained his 5,000- and 10,000-meter titles at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August, becoming the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals. 'I'm so happy to be awarded this incredible honor from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight,' Farah said Friday. 'Looking back at the boy who arrived here from Somalia, not speaking any English, I could never have imagined where I would be today — it's a dream come true. 'I'm so proud to have had the opportunity to race for my country and win gold medals for the British people, who have been my biggest supporters throughout my career.' Lee Pearson, who won his 11th Paralympic gold in equestrian in Rio, was also knighted. He already held the MBE, OBE and CBE for services to equestrianism and to disabled sport. Damehoods went to heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and rower Katherine Grainger, who both retired from competitive action following the Rio Olympics. Ennis-Hill added silver in Rio to her gold at London, as did Grainger, who came out of retirement to compete in the double sculls alongside Vicky Thornley. Knights are addressed as 'Sir' or 'Dame.' Recipients of the other honors have no title, but can put the letters after their names. The ranks for the Orders of the British Empire are Commander, Officer and Member, in descending order. Away from the Olympics, Wales manager Chris Coleman was awarded an OBE for steering his national football team into its first semifinal at the European Championship. Northern Ireland was eliminated by Wales at Euro 2016 in the round of 16 but its manager, Michael O'Neill, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE. Britain's honors are bestowed by the monarch, but recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2016

Four titles up for grabs at URCC 28: Vindication

Four championships will be put on the line as the URCC returns to the Marriott Grand Ballroom at Resorts World Manila for URCC 28: Vindication.  In the main event, reigning URCC flyweight champion CJ 'The Golden Boy' de Tomas puts his tit.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 6th, 2016

Mighty Sports-PH battles Samsung

Mighty Sports Apparels-Philippines launches its bid for back-to-back titles when they test the Samsung Thunders at the start of the Merlion Cup today at the OCBC Arena in Singapore......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsSep 20th, 2016

Magpahanggang Wakas hits TV screens today

Last July, I wrote about the main cast of the Never Ever Say Goodbye, one of the working titles of Magpahanggang Wakas......»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 18th, 2016

PH eyes water polo crown

Team Philippines Turbo skipper Tani Gomez expects a strong competition as his team aims for back-to-back titles in the 3rd edition of the Smart Infinity Pilipinas Beach Water Polo Tournament today at the Sunrise View Beach Resort in Igacos, Davao del Nort.....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsAug 27th, 2016

PH’s Kelly collides against veteran Latoel in ONE Jakarta

Team Lakay mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly will battle Dutch-Indonesian veteran Vincent Latoel in ONE: Titles and Titans today at the Jakarta Convention Center in Jakarta, Indonesia. Fighting out of Baguio City, K.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsAug 26th, 2016

FCVBA seeks to rule 60 & above crown

The Filipino-Chinese Veterans Basketball Association (FCVBA) hopes to produce another first as it tries to add the 65-above championship to its already vast collection of titles when the 25th ASEAN Veterans Basketball Championships start today in two diff.....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsAug 21st, 2016

BWC titles up for grabs

BWC titles up for grabs.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 18th, 2016

Asia-Pac Ironman on

Tim Reed and Caroline Steffen hope to capitalize on competing in familiar grounds as they defend their titles today in the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship presented by Ford at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort &'038; Spa here......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsAug 6th, 2016

LeBron considering return to US Olympic team under Popovich

em>By Tom Withers, Associated Press /em> INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James might make another run at Olympic gold with Gregg Popovich. James, who already has two gold medals, said that Popovich taking over as coach of the U.S. team will influence his decision on whether to play in the 2020 Tokyo Games. 'It factors a lot,' James said Saturday as the Cavaliers prepared to host Popovich's San Antonio Spurs. 'I've said that before. He's just a great mastermind of the game of basketball.' James skipped last summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to get rest after leading Cleveland to an NBA championship. But he's still connected with Team USA and Popovich replacing outgoing coach Mike Krzyzewski could be enough to draw James back to the Olympics. James will be 36 in 2020, but his game is showing no signs of decay and the three-time NBA champ has relished his previous Olympic appearances. He was a key member of the American teams that captured gold in Beijing (2008) and (2012), performances that helped him and the U.S. squad erase some of the disappointment from taking bronze in Athens (2004). Krzyzewski, the Duke coach who led the U.S. team to three consecutive gold medals, had a hand in naming Popovich as his successor. For James, the pick was perfect. 'Team USA is in good hands with him,' James told The Associated Press in 2015. 'It was in good hands with Coach K. It's almost like 'The Godfather.' We hand it off to Michael Corleone now.' Earlier this week, James said he considers Popovich, who has led the Spurs to five NBA titles, 'the greatest coach of all time. I've said that over and over and over. You have to be sharp, mentally and physically, when you go against his ballclub. If you were an NFL player, it's probably the same as going against a [Bill] Belichick team. 'What they're going to do, they're going to do and you have to try to figure it out.' James has lost twice to teams coached by Popovich in the NBA Finals — in 2007 with Cleveland and in 2014 with Miami. He admires the way the 67-year-old coach has adjusted and adapted over the years. 'A guy that's been able to do what he's done in an era of basketball where it's changed so much and he's been able to have a growth mindset and be able to change with the game,' James said. 'Obviously Tim Duncan was a huge part of that because Timmy was allowed to change with the game as well, but he's just continued to build around Timmy and Manu [Ginobili] and Tony [Parker] and bring pieces in and out throughout his whole tenure.' On Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), the Spurs will play their first game without center Pau Gasol, sidelined indefinitely with a broken left hand. James said that won't change San Antonio much — because of Popovich. 'It doesn't matter who is in the lineup for the Spurs,' James said. 'They'll play Spurs basketball and Pop will have them ready. I mean, what's their record, 33-9, I believe? And if you asked me how things would change without Timmy D., they still pushing forward, man. It's just nothing out of the ordinary.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Rotabowl tilt today

At least 34 Rotary Clubs in Quezon City have fielded teams to the 2017 Rotabowl Championships that offer a brand new 220 cc Kawasaki Bajaj Avenger as the grand prize for a perfect game......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Top karters compete in Carmona

Young ace karters gear up for crucial intense showdowns in their last ditch efforts for the titles at stake in the season-ender of the 2016 Petron ROK Karting Super Series at the Carmona Racetrack......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Alab PH faces HK today

The capability of Alab Pilipinas to compete for the championship will be known today as it faces the Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions for the first time in the ASEAN Basketball League at the Southorn Stadium in Hong Kong......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

NSPC under way today

Campus journalists from private and public elementary and secondary schools nationwide are set to gather today for the 2017 National Schools Press Conference conducted by the Department of Education......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

How do you imagine the Kingdom?

In our Gospel today, we hear Jesus preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17)......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017