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Federer's 17 majors stack up nicely against everyone else

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The 64 players contesting second-round matches at the Australian Open on Wednesday have won a total of 36 Grand Slam singles titles. One guy, however, has nearly half of them. Of the 17 titles captured by Roger Federer, who plays American qualifier Noah Rubin at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, four have been at Melbourne Park. Although he hasn't lifted the trophy here since 2010. Venus Williams, who will play Stefanie Voegele to open play on Rod Laver — has seven major titles. Others in action Wednesday are top-ranked Andy Murray and No. 4 Stan Wawrinka (3 majors each), defending champion Angelique Kerber and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2 each) and Marin Cilic and Garbine Muguruza, who have each won one major. Novak Djokovic, who has 12 Grand Slam titles of his own and is on the other side of the Australian Open draw, was quick to praise Federer as the Swiss star prepared to return from a six-month injury layoff. 'With Roger, you can always see a top level and quality of tennis ... that's what he brings,' Djokovic said last weekend. 'He brings this aura of a champion on and off the court. The sport definitely missed him. He's one of the most important people that ever held the racket.' ____ Here's a closer look at some of the second-round matches Wednesday: BIRTHDAY GIRL: Kerber, who plays fellow German Carina Witthoeft, will celebrate her 29th birthday on Wednesday. She is aiming to become the first player to defend the Australian Open women's title since Victoria Azarenka won in 2012 and 2013. ___ GOOD LUCK ANDREY: Murray plays Russian qualifier and 156th-ranked Andrey Rublev in a night match at Rod Laver Arena. The lowest-ranked player to beat Murray at a Grand Slam tournament is No. 91 Arnaud Clement at the 2005 U.S. Open. Overall, Murray has a 10-1 record against qualifiers at Grand Slam events. Still, Murray will be wary of Rublev. 'I know a little bit about him,' Murray said after his first-round win over Illya Marchenko. 'I never hit with him or played against him, but I've seen him play before and he goes for it. He doesn't hold back. He hits a big ball.' Murray has lost the Australian Open final five times in seven years, and never won the title. He hopes to have another chance this year to atone for his past defeats. 'I have had a lot of tough losses here, for sure,' he said. 'I have played some of my best tennis on hard courts here. But I keep coming back to try. I'll keep doing that until I'm done.' ___ AND GOOD LUCK NOAH: Federer has not lost to a player ranked as low as No. 200 Noah since losing to 249th-ranked Sergio Bruguera at Barcelona in 2000. In terms of Grand Slam events, the lowest-ranked player Federer has lost to was No. 154 Mario Ancic at 2002 Wimbledon. ___ LONGEVITY IN MELBOURNE: Venus Williams' match against Voegele comes in her 17th appearance at the Australian Open. She has never won the title in Melbourne, but was runner-up in 2003, losing to her younger sister, Serena. And for the record, her seven Grand Slam singles titles came five times at Wimbledon and twice at the U.S. Open. ___ ONCE A YEAR: Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori plays France's Jeremy Chardy to open play on Hisense Arena, and their meeting has become an annual thing. Nishikori has a 4-2 edge in matches which they've contested once a year for the past six years. Nishikori is attempting to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the seventh consecutive year. He lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the Brisbane International final two weeks ago. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 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

Pliskova, Konta win 1st-round matches at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta had their Grand Slam breakthroughs last year, and both prepared for the season's first major with title runs in Australia. They both won their first-round matches at the Australian Open in straight sets on Tuesday, and are growing in confidence. U.S. Open finalist Pliskova following her title win at the Brisbane International with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo to get day two under way on Rod Laver Arena. 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. 'It was incredibly tricky. She has the kind of game that can make any player feel uncomfortable out there,' Konta said. '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. Serena Williams was opening her bid for a record 23rd Grand Slam title with a first-round match against Belinda Bencic in the second match on Rod Laver Arena. 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. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Robben extends contract with Bayern Munich through June 2018

BERLIN (AP) — Arjen Robben has extended his contract with Bayern Munich for another year. Bayern says the Netherlands winger's contract will run until the end of June 2018. Robben has been with the club for almost eight years, joining from Real Madrid in 2009. He has scored 82 goals in 152 Bundesliga matches, 14 goals in 23 German Cup games and 21 goals in 53 Champions League matches, including the winning goal against Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Wizards get hot from beyond the arc to beat Trail Blazers

em>By Stephen Whyno, Associated Press /em> WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon (Tuesday, PHL time). The Wizards, who rely less on the three-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13-of-23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The three-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8-of-26 on three-point attempts. After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11-of-29 from the floor. The Wizards have won four of their last five games. On the final day of All-Star voting, Wall put on show by dunking over Mason Plumlee and hitting a step-back three-pointer from the top of the arc. He finished 10-of-17 and Beal was 7-of-11, including 3-of-3 from three-point territory. Washington opened the game shooting 4-of-5 to jump ahead 10-0 and led by 30 after Marcin Gortat's layup with 4:24 left in the third quarter. Portland cut it as close as 17 in the fourth, forcing Wall and Beal back on the floor, but lost its second game in a row. strong>MLK DAY /strong> Wearing a shirt with the message: 'His dream inspired the world. Never stop dreaming,' Beal took the microphone to address the crowd of 17,395 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Brooks said he always stops by the MLK Memorial during his walks around the National Mall. Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said about half the team went to the National Museum of African American History and Culture after practice Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). 'It's a little sobering, the African-American experience in this country and also celebrating the contributions of the African-American community,' Stotts said. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Trail Blazers: /strong> /em>McCollum's streak of consecutive games with 25-plus points ended at eight. He became the eighth player to score 1,000 points this season, joining Russell Westbrook, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and Isaiah Thomas. F Maurice Harkless, who was questionable with a left calf injury, was 0 of 5 with no points. F Ed Davis, who had a left ankle injury, played just five minutes and scored two points. em> strong>Wizards: /strong> /em>Improved to 10-2 when F Otto Porter has at least three triples.. Their 37 first-quarter and 75 first-half points are season-highs. Their last 12-game home winning streak came in 1989 as the Bullets. F Markieff Morris had 17 points and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Kelly Oubre's 18 points were one shy of his career-high. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Trail Blazers: /strong> /em> Visit the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). em> strong>Wizards: /strong> /em>Look to extend their home winning streak to 13 when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Star defense provides best game yet

Since Chito Victolero took control of Star, all he's been preaching about is defense. Sure, the Hotshots haven't gone on to the best start under his reign, going 4-4 in eight games so far, but his crew did put up their best defensive effort Sunday, proof that they may be closer to their goal than their record suggests. Facing a TNT squad coming with with a league-best 100.7 points per game, Star shackled the KaTropa to a season-low 77 points on only 40 percent shooting, effectively taking out the flagship MVP franchise's greatest strength. Of course, the Hotshots won. 'Sabi nga ni coach, our defense against their offense so kailangan talaga i-maintain yung depensa namin. Hindi opensa yung magpapanalo sa amin,' forward Ian Sangalang said who led Star with 14 points in an 88-77 win. 'Yun game plan namin, hindi lalagpas ng 90 yung score nila. Much better na 77 lang yun naging score nila,' he added. After allowing Japeth Aguilar, Vic Manuel, and Calvin Abueva go wild on offense in their previous two defeats, Star has definitely learned its lesson of keeping the opponent's main man under control. They did just that on TNT's Jayson Castro, making it easier to pull off the victory against the KaTropa. 'I'm very proud of our guys, they stepped up on defense especially on Castro. We learned a lot from our previous games, I told them yun ang magagamit natin sa mga darating na important games,' Victolero said. The Hotshot's final three games sure are important as Star is currently in a five-team logjam for the 5th-9th places. One will be elimated by the time regular season wraps up. 'Right now, wala pang nakakasigurado, siguro SMB pa lang. Sabi ko sa kanila, one game at a time lang,' Victolero added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Steelers hold off Chiefs on Boswell's 6 field goals, 18-16

BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer br /> KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — Who needs to reach the end zone when you have Le'Veon Bell chewing up yards and the clock, and Chris Boswell setting an NFL playoff record with six field goals? Throw in a stingy Pittsburgh defense for most of Sunday night, and a multitude of mistakes by Kansas City, and the Steelers' 18-16 victory sent them into the AFC championship game. The Steelers (13-5) needed to hold off a last-ditch threat by the Chiefs (12-5) before advancing to face New England next Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl. The Patriots won at Pittsburgh 27-16, but Ben Roethlisberger was injured and didn't play. Spencer Ware's 1-yard touchdown run took Kansas City within 18-16. The Chiefs at first converted the 2-pointer to tie it, but tackle Eric Fisher — the first overall selection in the 2013 draft — was penalized for holding. The next try failed. With 2:43 remaining, Justin Gilbert misplayed the kick return and was tackled at the Pittsburgh 5. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 7 yards on third down and Pittsburgh then ran out the clock, securing a ninth straight victory for the Steelers. The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since 1994, losing five in a row. The scoring started furiously in the opening minutes, then the game became a kicking exhibition by Boswell, who also had six field goals in the regular season against Cincinnati. And Bell put on a virtuoso running performance, patiently finding holes and then exploding through them. He added a team-record 170 yards rushing to the 167 he had in a win over Miami last week. The Steelers became first team to win a playoff game without a TD since eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in the 2006 AFC divisional round at Baltimore. Using a no-huddle attack almost to perfection early on, the Steelers drove deep into Kansas City territory. But they bogged down inside the 5 and Boswell made a 22-yard field goal. The Chiefs were just as efficient on a six-play march capped by receiver Albert Wilson lining up in the backfield, then slipping uncovered into the end zone for a 5-yard score. Pittsburgh's answer came on a 52-yard heave to All-Pro Brown, who somehow was covered by linebacker Justin Houston. That led to Boswell's second field goal, a 38-yarder. He added a 36-yarder to cap a 14-play drive on which Pittsburgh again barely huddled. A clean game up until then turned to, well, turnovers, on successive series. Bud Dupree pounded Alex Smith, whose pass shot high into the air and was caught by linebacker Ryan Shazier. The Steelers got to the Kansas City 5, where Frank Zombo leaped to deflect Roethlisberger's throw, and All-Pro safety Eric Berry — burned for 26 yards on the previously play — picked it off in the end zone. Boswell's fourth field goal, from 45 yards, made it 12-7 at the half. His 43-yarder, setting the franchise record for a postseason game and tying the league mark of five, came on Pittsburgh's first series of the second half. A 43-yarder midway in the fourth quarter gave Boswell the NFL record. Kansas City's Cairo Santos got in on the kicking act with a 48-yarder to make it 15-10. At that point, 10 seconds from the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs were outgained 333 yards to 150. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Steelers hold off Chiefs on Boswell's 6 field goals, 18-16

BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer   KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — Who needs to reach the end zone when you have Le'Veon Bell chewing up yards and the clock, and Chris Boswell setting an NFL playoff record with six field goals? Throw in a stingy Pittsburgh defense for most of Sunday night, and a multitude of mistakes by Kansas City, and the Steelers' 18-16 victory sent them into the AFC championship game. The Steelers (13-5) needed to hold off a last-ditch threat by the Chiefs (12-5) before advancing to face New England next Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl. The Patriots won at Pittsburgh 27-16, but Ben Roethlisberger was injured and didn't play. Spencer Ware's 1-yard touchdown run took Kansas City within 18-16. The Chiefs at first converted the 2-pointer to tie it, but tackle Eric Fisher — the first overall selection in the 2013 draft — was penalized for holding. The next try failed. With 2:43 remaining, Justin Gilbert misplayed the kick return and was tackled at the Pittsburgh 5. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 7 yards on third down and Pittsburgh then ran out the clock, securing a ninth straight victory for the Steelers. The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since 1994, losing five in a row. The scoring started furiously in the opening minutes, then the game became a kicking exhibition by Boswell, who also had six field goals in the regular season against Cincinnati. And Bell put on a virtuoso running performance, patiently finding holes and then exploding through them. He added a team-record 170 yards rushing to the 167 he had in a win over Miami last week. The Steelers became first team to win a playoff game without a TD since eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in the 2006 AFC divisional round at Baltimore. Using a no-huddle attack almost to perfection early on, the Steelers drove deep into Kansas City territory. But they bogged down inside the 5 and Boswell made a 22-yard field goal. The Chiefs were just as efficient on a six-play march capped by receiver Albert Wilson lining up in the backfield, then slipping uncovered into the end zone for a 5-yard score. Pittsburgh's answer came on a 52-yard heave to All-Pro Brown, who somehow was covered by linebacker Justin Houston. That led to Boswell's second field goal, a 38-yarder. He added a 36-yarder to cap a 14-play drive on which Pittsburgh again barely huddled. A clean game up until then turned to, well, turnovers, on successive series. Bud Dupree pounded Alex Smith, whose pass shot high into the air and was caught by linebacker Ryan Shazier. The Steelers got to the Kansas City 5, where Frank Zombo leaped to deflect Roethlisberger's throw, and All-Pro safety Eric Berry — burned for 26 yards on the previously play — picked it off in the end zone. Boswell's fourth field goal, from 45 yards, made it 12-7 at the half. His 43-yarder, setting the franchise record for a postseason game and tying the league mark of five, came on Pittsburgh's first series of the second half. A 43-yarder midway in the fourth quarter gave Boswell the NFL record. Kansas City's Cairo Santos got in on the kicking act with a 48-yarder to make it 15-10. At that point, 10 seconds from the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs were outgained 333 yards to 150. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Clutch Rodgers leads Packers past rallying Cowboys, 34-31

SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Sports Writer   ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — This time it was a catch, and another win for the Green Bay Packers. Call it a 'Half Mary' from Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers threw a 36-yard pass to a toe-dragging Jared Cook on the sideline, and Mason Crosby kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Packers to the NFC championship game with their eighth straight win while thwarting a huge Dallas rally in a 34-31 victory in the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday. The throw on the run from Rodgers to Cook — confirmed on review — wasn't nearly as debatable as Dez Bryant's famous catch that wasn't in the Cowboys' divisional round loss to Green Bay two years ago. Cook kept both feet inbounds with a knee just above the ground out of bounds. And it came after the Cowboys tied the game twice in the final 5 minutes behind rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their playoff debut. It was the third field goal of more than 50 yards in the final 1:38 — two from Crosby and one from Dallas' Dan Bailey. And Crosby had to make the winner twice after Dallas coach Jason Garrett called timeout before the first attempt. Rodgers, who sparked last week's wild-card win over the New York Giants with another Hail Mary before halftime, is headed to an MVP showdown with Atlanta's Matt Ryan next Sunday. It will be his third NFC title game — all on the road. Green Bay's win was the first by a road team after 12 straight home victories in the playoffs dating to last season. The Cowboys (13-4) almost became the third team in the Super Bowl era to win in the playoffs after trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter. The first was Dallas in 1972, when 'Captain Comeback', Roger Staubach, rallied the Cowboys for a 30-28 win over San Francisco. Instead, Dallas ended up with its fifth straight loss in the divisional round and a 21-year drought in trips to the NFC championship game. Prescott got the Dallas rally going with a 40-yard touchdown toss in the first half to Bryant, the first playoff TD for the star receiver. Then he set the stage for the first tying score on a 6-yarder to Jason Witten, also the first postseason touchdown for the 14th-year tight end. Rodgers led the Packers to a go-ahead 56-yard field goal from Crosby with a big boost on a pass interference penalty against rookie Anthony Brown that wiped out an interception from Jeff Heath, whose pick earlier in the game helped Dallas rally. The Cowboys answered with a 52-yarder from Bailey. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

City sunk 4-0 at Everton for Guardiola's biggest league loss

  LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Pep Guardiola endured the heaviest league defeat of his coaching career as Manchester City was thrashed 4-0 by Everton in the Premier League on Sunday to plummet further out of title contention. Two weeks after a 1-0 loss at Liverpool, City had more misery on Merseyside following goals by Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, 18-year-old midfielder Tom Davies and 19-year-old debutant Ademola Lookman. City has now lost three of its last four matches away, with the latest setback for Guardiola coming at the hands of a team managed by his former Barcelona teammate, Ronald Koeman. The team had dropped out of the top four — into fifth place — following wins for Tottenham and Arsenal on Saturday, and is now 10 points behind first-placed Chelsea. 'It is awful for my players,' Guardiola said. 'I said to the players 'be positive' because they have made fantastic things in this season.' The title is looking out of reach for City now, though, just when things appeared to be looking up after a 5-0 win at West Ham in the FA Cup last week. It was another poor defensive display, summed up in injury time when John Stones — a former Everton player — tried to clear the ball for a throw-in only to see it ricochet off Everton defender Seamus Coleman to set up Lookman. Signed from Charlton this month and on as a late substitute for his Everton debut, Lookman completed City's misery by shooting through Bravo's legs. 'Pep Guardiola knows it is a project at Manchester City,' Koeman said. 'Of course, maybe they expected better results and a defeat like this is really strong but Pep has the experience to turn it around. I don't doubt it.' Lukaku sidefooted home a square ball from Mirallas to put Everton ahead in the 34th, with the move sparked by Davies intercepting Gael Clichy's ball forward from left back. Starting for a second straight game, Davies was everywhere — even clearing Bacary Sagna's header off the line just before halftime at Goodison Park. Ross Barkley slipped in Mirallas to score with an angled shot in the 47th before the best goal of the match, Davies dinking the ball over goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and inside the near post to crown an impressive individual display. 'The consequence of the game is an example of many that has happened this season,' Guardiola said. 'In football, you sometimes don't need to do many things to score. They arrive once and score a goal. It is not today, it is almost all the season and it is tough for the players to handle that situation.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

McIlroy to have tests on his injured back

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — One tournament into the new year, Rory McIlroy is going for tests on his back Monday to make sure he is fit enough to play Abu Dhabi without further damage. McIlroy felt pain in his back before the second round of the South African Open, and it lingered throughout the final round, where he closed with a 67 and lost in a playoff to Graeme Storm. McIlroy was flying to Dubai on Sunday and said he would have an MRI 'just to see what's up with this joint in my back.' 'It's OK,' McIlroy said on the European Tour's website. 'It was manageable this week. I'm taped up and I've got a few pills in me and I'm fine. But first and foremost, that's the most important thing, to get fit and healthy again. And hopefully, I'll be all right to play next week.' The runner-up finish looks to be enough for McIlroy to have a chance to return to No. 1 in the world if he were to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which in recent years has been the strongest field of the year among regular European Tour events. Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler are among those playing. McIlroy has not been atop the world rankings since September 2015. He is scheduled to play Abu Dhabi and then Dubai two weeks after that. 'If I go to Abu Dhabi next week and win, I think I get back to No. 1, so it's a nice goal to have going into next week,' McIlroy said. 'I really want to make next week because there's so much to play for. But at the same time, there's so much to play for this season. I don't want to jeopardize long-term goals for short-term gains. So we'll see. Hopefully, I'll be good to go.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Economy: More investment needed to reach affluent society goal -- NEDA

THE PHILIPPINES needs to attract more investment from both domestic and foreign sources to achieve the goal of becoming a high-income economy by 2040......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

ONE Championship: Bigdash retains title; Catalan, Subora victorious

ONE Championship returned to the Jakarta Convention Center for another evening of world-class mixed martial arts (MMA) action. ONE: QUEST FOR POWER set the tone for what will be an amazing 2017 for ONE Championship with a series of compelling bouts featuring the absolute best in local and international MMA talent. In the main event, ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash retained his title, defeating top contender “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang by unanimous decision after five rounds. div>  /div> div>In the main event of the evening, ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash of Rostov-on-Don, Russia impressed with a great show of strength in a dominant performance over “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar. Throughout the bout, Bigdash kept N Sang at bay with his sharp combinations, while on the mat he connected with multiple elbows. After five rounds of action, it was a clear win for Bigdash who met very little resistance in outlasting the durable N Sang to remain undefeated, retaining his ONE Middleweight World Championship. /div> div>  /div> div>In the co-main event of the evening, 27-year-old Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen of Sydney, Australia authored one of the most spectacular finishes of the evening, stopping Japanese MMA veteran Kazunori Yokota with strikes to win by technical knockout just past the midway point of the first round. Yokota stalked Nguyen, looking to throw combinations but Nguyen timed Yokota with an overhand right that dropped him to the canvas. From there, Nguyen jumped on his foe and rained down punches from the top to earn the stoppage victory. /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight contenders Vincent “MagniVincent” Latoel and Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre put on an exciting show for fans in attendance, tagging each other with intense combinations for the majority of the three-round lightweight contest. On the mat, Donayre showcased his grappling skills, threatening with various submissions off his back. Latoel however was more consistent throughout and scored points with his takedowns and cage control. All three judges saw the bout in favor of Latoel to win by unanimous decision. /div> div>  /div> div>The highly-anticipated lightweight showdown between Georgi Stoyanov of Bulgaria and Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev of Russia ended on an unfortunate note, as the bout resulted in a No Contest ruling. Although Arslanaliev swarmed Stoyanov from the beginning of the bout and completely outclassed the Bulgarian, an ill-advised technical ground kick landed for Arslanaliev and Stoyanov was unable to continue. /div> div>  /div> div>Dutch featherweight standout based in Jakarta, Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen, put on a masterful performance, stopping Malaysian fight veteran A.J. “Pyro” Lias Mansor in under two minutes in the first round of a scheduled three-round bout. Engelen pressed Mansor up against the cage fence with a combination before a beautiful right hand felled Mansor, earning Engelen one of the most spectacular knockouts of his career. /div> div>  /div> div>Fans were treated to an action-packed clash of colossal light heavyweights as Igor Subora of the Ukraine and Sherif Mohamed of Egypt pushed each other to the limit in a tremendous three-round show of determination from both fighters. Subora effectively used his reach advantage to keep the smaller, stockier Mohamed at bay with his boxing throughout the bout. In the third round, both fighters fought through sheer exhaustion to make it to the final bell as Subora did just enough to outlast Mohamed to earn the unanimous decision. /div> div>  /div> div>Local martial arts hero from Jakarta, “The Terminator” Sunoto, brought the crowd to its feet with a riveting performance to defeat Cambodia’s Chan Heng by technical knockout just a little under three minutes into the first round. Sunoto wasted no time in taking the fight directly to Heng, challenging the Khun Khmer practitioner to a striking showdown at the center of the ONE Championship cage. Sunoto however, proved too much for the Cambodian after he gained mount and unleashed the ground-and-pound. /div> div>  /div> div>Unbeaten Indonesian flyweight prospect Stefer Rahardian defeated Jakarta-based Liberian fighter Jerome S. Paye via unanimous decision in the second preliminary bout of the evening. Rahardian showcased tremendous cage-control for the majority of the fight, smothering Paye with a consistent attack that left the Liberian stifled throughout the contest. The 30-year-old Rahardian left very little openings for Paye who just couldn’t get his offense going. In the end, Rahardian had just enough in the tank to complete a comprehensive three-round performance, earning the nod on all three judges’ scorecards. /div> div>  /div> div>Strawweights Rene Catalan of the Philippines and Adrian Matheis of Indonesia kicked off ONE: QUEST FOR POWER with a spirited display of mixed martial arts action, on a bustling Saturday night in Jakarta. After a dominant first round from Catalan, one that saw the Filipino attempt various finishes, the end came swiftly in the second when Catalan was able to execute an armbar to earn the submission victory. /div> div>  /div> div> strong>COMPLETE RESULTS /strong> /div> div>  /div> div>MW Title: Vitaly Bigdash defeats Aung La N Sang by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Featherweight bout: Martin Nguyen defeats Kazunori Yokota by TKO (Strikes) at 3:36 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight bout: Vincent Latoel defeats Vaughn Donayre by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight bout: Georgi Stoyanov, Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev (No Contest) /div> div>  /div> div>Featherweight bout: Anthony Engelen defeats AJ Lias Mansor by Knockout (KO) at 1:42 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Light Heavyweight bout: Igor Subora defeats Sherif Mohamed by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Bantamweight bout: Sunoto defeats Chan Heng by TKO (Strikes) at 2:30 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Flyweight bout: Stefer Rahardian defeats Jerome S. Paye by Unanimous Decision (UD) /div> div>  /div> div>Strawweight bout: Rene Catalan defeats Adrian Matheis by Submission (Armbar) at 2:08 minutes of round 2 /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Ryan leads Falcons to NFC title game, beating Seattle 36-20

PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer br /> ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan looked very much like an MVP and the Atlanta Falcons are headed to the NFC championship game. Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Falcons to a 36-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round Saturday. Atlanta will face either the Dallas Cowboys or the Green Bay Packers, who meet Sunday in the NFC's other divisional game. After the Seahawks zipped down the field for a touchdown on the opening possession, Atlanta's young defense largely shut down Russell Wilson & Co. the rest of the way. Ryan and the high-scoring Falcons took it from there — getting a huge boost from a holding penalty that wiped out an 80-yard punt return by Devin Hester. Ryan hooked up with Julio Jones on a 7-yard touchdown and Tevin Coleman for a 14-yard score before finishing off the Seahawks with a 3-yard toss to Mohamed Sanu in the corner of the end zone with just under 4 minutes remaining, sparking a raucous chant of 'MVP! MVP! MVP!' from a Georgia Dome crowd that stood most of the game, giving the Falcons the sort of home-field advantage that Seattle is used to having at the Link. Before a foot injury limited him in the second half, Jones made life miserable for Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, who got away with an apparent pass interference penalty on Atlanta's star receiver when the teams met during the regular season, preserving a 26-24 victory for the Seahawks. Jones was targeted eight times, coming up with six receptions for 67 yards to set a tone that Atlanta would not be intimidate by the Legion of Boom. But, as usual, Ryan spread the ball around to everyone. Speedy Taylor Gabriel had a 37-yard reception. Running back Devonta Freeman slipped out of the backfield to haul in a 53-yard pass, putting a dazzling fake on replacement free safety Steven Terrell right in the middle of the field. In all, eight players caught passes for Atlanta. For only the fourth time in their 51-year history, the Falcons (12-5) will be playing for the conference title and a spot in the Super Bowl. They made their only Super Bowl appearance during the 1998 season, falling to Denver in John Elway's final game, and lost in the NFC title game during the 2004 and 2012 seasons. The Seahawks (11-6-1) couldn't follow up a dominating win over Detroit in the opening round, the game turning dramatically on a holding penalty in the second quarter that wiped out Hester's return to the Atlanta 7. Instead of having first-and-goal and a chance to extend a 10-7 lead, Seattle was backed up to its 7. After Thomas Rawls was thrown for a 3-yard loss, Wilson attempted to drop back for a pass. One problem: rookie right guard Rees Odhiambo, taking over after Germain Ifedi was injured, stepped back onto Wilson's foot, sending the quarterback tumbling down in the end zone. Ben Garland fell on Wilson for a safety that turned the momentum Atlanta's way. Matt Bryant's 35-yard field goal put the Falcons ahead to stay, and the home team closed out the first half with a 99-yard drive touchdown that was extended by Sanu's brilliant, one-handed catch for 22 yards with Jeremy Lane grabbing at his arm. After getting beat on Seattle's first possession, an Atlanta defense featuring four rookies and a bunch of second-year players limited the Seahawks to a pair of a field goals before giving up a meaningless 31-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin in the closing minutes. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Draxler scores again as PSG wins 1-0 at Rennes

JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer br /> PARIS (AP) — Winger Julian Draxler's second goal in as many games showed why Paris Saint-Germain signed him as the defending champion won at Rennes 1-0 in the French league on Saturday. Running onto an astute pass from midfielder Marco Verratti, and without breaking stride, the German curled in a delightful shot from the left of the penalty area into the bottom right corner in the 40th minute. 'It was a great goal,' Verratti said. 'We needed a player like this.' PSG moved level on points with Monaco, which is in second place thanks to a better goal difference and plays on Sunday, as does leader Nice. Draxler joined from Wolfsburg this month in a deal reportedly worth up to 47 million euros (about $49 million), and scored an equally good goal on debut in a 7-0 rout of Bastia in the French Cup last weekend. 'He worked hard, scored a good goal,' PSG coach Unai Emery said. 'He's brought his quality to the team.' The 23-year-old Draxler, a regular for Germany at last year's European Championship, struggled to settle in at Wolfsburg after joining from Schalke early into last season and failed to score this season. His arrival may not be great news for Angel Di Maria, who has been mostly out of form this season and faces tough competition from Draxler on the left wing, and from Lucas on the right. It was a good day for Draxler, but not for Edinson Cavani, who stormed angrily past Emery when he was substituted with 20 minutes left. Di Maria also came on, and fell over backward trying to play a quick pass on a PSG counterattack. PSG won its previous three games, scoring 14 goals and conceding none, but they were at home and against poor sides. A trip to Rennes — which had lost only once at home — offered a much tougher test, especially considering PSG lost four times away from home in the first half of the season. 'It's a big win for us,' PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said. 'We're not very confident away from home and needed the points.' PSG started in determined fashion and Cavani should have scored after just 40 seconds. Having missed four chances in midweek when PSG beat Metz 2-0 to reach the League Cup semifinals, Cavani fluffed this one by poking wide of goal after being put clean through. PSG dominated the first half, with Rennes panicking and frequently losing the ball. Verratti was enraged when he was not given a penalty after running onto Draxler's excellent pass and rounding goalkeeper Benoit Costil, who appeared to take him down. But the referee instead gave Verratti a yellow card. 'It's a huge mistake. It was a penalty,' Verratti said. He was still arguing with referee Benoit Bastien as the players prepared to start the second half. Bastien also showed PSG midfielder Thiago Motta a yellow card in the 62nd, although he appeared to fall down as he rounded Costil. 'Well done to the referee for not getting conned,' Costil said after the game. '(Verratti) was falling down before I came out and the second one (Motta's) was even more blatant.' ___ OTHER MATCHES Forward Majeed Waris scored twice as Lorient beat fifth-place Guingamp 3-1 to earn a vital win in its relegation scrap. The win moved the Brittany side off the bottom of the table, with Metz dropping to last ahead of its game on Sunday. Having started the season strongly, Toulouse is drifting further away from the top five after losing at home to Nantes 1-0, with Emiliano Sala scoring. Winger Issiar Dia scored the winner as Nancy climbed up to 11th by beating Corsican side Bastia 1-0. Also, it was Angers 1, Bordeaux 1, and Montpellier 1, Dijon 1. On Sunday, Nice faces Metz, while Monaco has a tough game at Marseille, and Caen hosts Lyon. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Icardi scores to help Inter fight back to beat Chievo 3-1

DANIELLA MATAR, Associated Press br /> MILAN (AP) — Serie A's top goalscorer will not be moving to the Chinese Super League anytime soon. Mauro Icardi scored again to help Inter Milan come from behind to beat Chievo Verona 3-1 on Saturday, and his goalscoring rate is sure to be garnering attention among the new pacesetters in the global transfer market. However, Icardi, who turns 24 on Thursday, insists he is not about to follow the likes of Carlos Tevez, Axel Witsel, Oscar, and John Obi Mikel to China. 'I renewed my contract at the beginning of the year and I'm happy to stay with this shirt,' Icardi said. 'There's always time to go to China at the end of my career.' Icardi scored the equalizer in the 69th minute, volleying in Antonio Candreva's stunning cross from the right. Icardi's 15th goal in 20 league matches moved him two clear of Roma forward Edin Dzeko and Torino's Andrea Belotti in the goalscoring charts. Icardi also had a hand in the winner, four minutes from time. He won the ball back in midfield and set up Ivan Perisic, who raced towards goal before firing past Stefano Sorrentino after the Chievo defenders backed away from him. Eder topped the scoring in stoppage time. Inter extended its winning run in the league to five matches and moved up to fifth, level on points with AC Milan, which has played two matches less than Stefano Pioli's side and visits Torino on Monday. Chievo remained 11th. 'We had a great game,' Icardi said. 'We've shown we have character for several games now.' Inter dominated the match and only Sorrentino's heroics in goal prevented it from taking the lead. The 37-year-old goalkeeper made some fine stops, including twice preventing new signing Roberto Gagliardini from scoring on his debut. At the other end, a fellow veteran gave Chievo a surprise lead, completely against the run of play, with the 37-year-old Sergio Pellissier volleying in a corner. Pellissier almost doubled his tally in the opening minute of the second half but Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic got down smartly to beat away his effort. Sorrentino made another fantastic stop to keep out Perisic's header from point-blank range, and he also twice denied Eder before he was finally beaten. Overall, Inter had 31 attempts on goal, 14 of which were on target. Inter is nine points behind league leader Juventus, which visits Fiorentina on Sunday. ___ CROTONE 0 BOLOGNA 1 Crotone looks ever more likely to go straight back down to Serie B after a 14th defeat of the season left it bottom, eight points from safety. Bologna moved up to 14th, 13 points off the relegation zone after Blerim Dzemaili's 51st-minute strike. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Romeo in the middle of Globalport's maturation process

Terrence Romeo is in the middle of the ongoing maturity of Globalport as a team in 2017. Since they suffered a 26-point fourth quarter collapse to Phoenix late last year, the Batang Pier have won back-to-back games, playing well enough in crunch time to hold on for victories even if they still have a tendency to let go of big leads. It's a lesson they would probably take for the rest of their careers. 'Tumatak yun, kasi parang isa yata yun sa biggest comeback eh,' said Terrence Romeo and he's absolutely right as the Phoenix rally was the biggest fourth-quarter miracle in a decade. 'Dapat di na mangyari yun,' he added. In order to not let that sort of thing happen again, Romeo is leading by example for Globalport as the dynamic guard out of FEU has slowly learned to pick his spots in games. Sure, he's still scoring an insane amount of points (27.6 points per game after Friday's 32-point effort), but the Bro is timing his scoring explosions effectively. Romeo scored a season-high 22 points in the first half against the Road Warriors, setting the tone early for Globalport. He then took a backseat in the third perid and allowed runningmate Stanley Pringle do his thing. But when NLEX cut a once 21-point lead to eight in the fourth and final quarter, it was Romeo that put the finishing touches for the Batang Pier, scoring another seven points for good measure. 'Natutunan ko yun nung mga last games ko,' Romeo admits. 'Pagka first half okay laro ko, pagdating ng third and fourth pag pinilit ko pa rin na ako pa rin, masyadong nakatutok sakin yung depensa. Ginawa ko nag spot up lang ako, hinayaan ko sila maglaro.' 'Pero pag tingin ko naman na kailangan nila ako, kukunin ko din ang bola at didiskarte din ako,' he added. Aside from managing his scoring opportunities, part of Romeo and Globalport's maturation process is not to get excited over one big win. With a chance to go for the top-2 spots in the All-Filipino and a matchup against the mighty San Miguel Beer on the horizon, the Batang Pier remain all business. 'Kailangan wag namin isipin yung panalo namin dito, hindi naman sa minamaliit namin yung NLEX pero kailangan yung goal namin is mapunta dun sa number one or number two so hindi kami pwede matuwa dahil natalo namin NLEX. Kumbaga after one day celebration, next day back to focus na kami,' Romeo said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

'Nothing is impossible. I am living proof of that.' - Milan Melindo

strong>'NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.' /strong> This is what the new IBF interim world Jr. light flyweight champion Milan Melindo wishes to impart to aspiring boxers and champions alike. Barely two months after his impressive win over then-IBF number-three ranked light flyweight Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. at the Cebu Coliseum, Melindo has already set his sights on his next goal. In an interview with ALA Boxing, Melindo shares that he now looks forward to becoming a regular world champion. While there's no final date yet for a fight against regular IBF World Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi, Melindo hasn’t stopped training since coming back to the gym a week after his most recent championship win.  “I didn’t even feel like going on a vacation for the holidays. I know I still have to train harder, I want to train harder”, Melindo added.  strong>Q: Do you feel like you need to train harder because Yaegashi’s a better fighter? /strong> strong>Milan Melindo /strong>: Yes and No. Yaegashi is a good fighter. He doesn't have the world title if he isn’t. But that is not why I am more relentless in my training after my latest fight. I realized what helped me win is the strong motivation from my past two attempts at world titles. Because of the experience, I felt a stronger will to finally win and make something out of my dreams. I want to train harder because I want more. I don’t want to go back to just dreaming of being in this level. There’s more out there, and that’s what I want now. strong>Q: How different is Milan Melindo now? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: There’s not much difference in me as a person. I am the same Milan before I won the title. I want people to know that. What I am is thankful. I am very happy to have finally won a world title for all of us. I am happy I was given the chance fight again despite my failures the past years. More importantly, I am happy with how I turned my doubters to believers. It gives me more confidence to aim higher not just for myself, but also for my gym and country. This is for all of us. strong>Q: Why do you think you succeeded this time? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: I prayed to win. I have to admit, the last fights I had, I don’t pray to win. I pray for guidance instead. I pray for our safety. I was always dependent on our training and my skills as a fighter. But this time, I prayed since I got the date and confirmation of the fight. I prayed all the time. I asked for this. I also worked so hard to win. I realized it does take everything from you to get what you really want to happen. strong>Q: What’s next for Milan Melindo? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: I want to be a regular world champion first. After that, I hope to challenge the other world champions in my division. It’s strange because before I got this title, I was only focused on actually winning it. Now that I have it in my hands, I want to achieve more. I want to get my country on top of the rankings again. It’s the reason I’ve been spending more time training instead of resting after my fight. There’s this want in me that’s keeping me on the move. Milan added that he wants to get his story out, how he failed not once, but twice, before he won his first title. He believes he can inspire other Filipino athletes. “I know not everyone gets the opportunity to big fights, that is why I am very thankful to my manager, my promoter, all the people behind ALA Gym and ALA Promotions, my coaches, stable mates that I’ve sparred with, my family, and of course our TV partner ABS-CBN Sports. Without everyone, the media, and fans who’ve always supported us fighters, I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am now. This is the motivation everyone needs and I hope, everyone finds. I hope the young fighters out there who have yet to conquer their own dreams know my story and continue to do what they believe in. I know I’ve yet to achieve mine too, but I hope they don’t give up when they fail and do their best every time they go in the ring. I hope they continue reaching for their dreams because nothing is impossible. I am living proof of that.” .....»»

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

Hot-shooting Spurs rout Lakers by 40 points

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Kawhi Leonard had 31 points despite sitting out the fourth quarter, and the San Antonio Spurs set several season highs in rolling past the Los Angeles Lakers 134-94 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). San Antonio rebounded from a last-minute loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) with its highest point total and largest margin of victory this season. The Spurs also set a season-high with their best field goal shooting (61 percent). Pau Gasol had 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 26 minutes. Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge added 13 points apiece. The Spurs' starters did not play in the final quarter after closing the third with a 31-point lead. San Antonio increased the advantage to 40 points in the fourth, matching a season high. Julius Randle had 22 points on 6-for-7 shooting, but he was the only Lakers starter in double figures. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017