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Serena pulls out of Italian Open with ailing knee

Serena pulls out of Italian Open with ailing knee.....»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardMay 15th, 2019

FRENCH OPEN 19: Serena Williams tries again for 24th major

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Women to watch at the French Open, where play begins Sunday: ___ NAOMI OSAKA Ranked: 1 Country: Japan Age: 21 2019 Match Record: 19-5 2019 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 3 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 — Australian Open (2019), U.S. Open (2018) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-Lost in 3rd Round, 2017-1st, 2016-3rd, 2015-Did Not Play, 2014-DNP Aces: After going only 5-4 on clay last year, heads to Paris with a 7-1 mark on the surface in 2019. ... Withdrew with injuries from tournaments in Stuttgart (abdominal muscle) and Rome (thumb). Topspin: Big hitting carried her to two Grand Slam titles in a row on hard courts. Clay presents different challenges. ___ SIMONA HALEP Ranked: 3 Country: Romania Age: 27 2019 Match Record: 23-8 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 18 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2018) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-Won Championship, 2017-Runner-Up, 2016-4th, 2015-2nd, 2014-RU Aces: Among the WTA's top 10 in break points converted and first-serve percentage in 2019. ... Pulled out of Italian Open with hamstring problem, but said she was sure she'd be OK for Paris. Topspin: Tries to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time. Her movement and defense-to-offense skills have carried her to three of the past five finals at Roland Garros. ___ KIKI BERTENS Ranked: 4 Country: Netherlands Age: 27 2019 Match Record: 26-10 2019 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 9 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: SF, French Open (2016) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-3rd, 2017-2nd, 2016-SF, 2015-1st, 2014-4th Aces: Ranks in the tour's top two in aces and service points won this season. ... Hit 20 aces in one match. ... At past three clay events, went semifinals-title-semifinals. Topspin: Has the game and the confidence to go far in Paris. Many in tennis think she is ready to play well deep into the second week at a major tournament. ___ PETRA KVITOVA Ranked: 6 Country: Czech Republic Age: 29 2019 Match Record: 28-8 2019 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 27 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 — Wimbledon (2011, 2014) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-3rd, 2017-2nd, 2016-3rd, 2015-4th, 2014-3rd Aces: Pulled out of Rome with a left calf issue. ... Is third on tour in aces this year, but also has hit by far the most double-faults. Topspin: Since getting to the 2012 semifinals at Roland Garros, only has been past the third round once. Her strong lefty strokes and recent form on clay could mean that changes this year. ___ SLOANE STEPHENS Ranked: 7 Country: United States Age: 26 2019 Match Record: 14-9 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 6 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open (2017) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-RU, 2017-DNP, 2016-3rd, 2015-4th, 2014-4th Aces: Recently hired coach Sven Groeneveld, who has worked with such past French Open champions as Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic. Topspin: Run to last year's final in Paris showed that Stephens is capable of winning a Grand Slam championship on clay to go with her hard-court title from the U.S. Open. ___ ASH BARTY Ranked: 8 Country: Australia Age: 23 2019 Match Record: 24-5 2019 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, Australian Open (2019) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-2nd, 2017-1st, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP, 2014-1st Aces: After going 1-6 against top-10 opponents in 2018, she is 6-4 in those matches in 2019. ... Played cricket while away from the tour for nearly two years after the 2014 U.S. Open. Topspin: After major breakthroughs at the Australian Open in January and when she collected the title at the Miami Open in March, seems poised to show big improvement on her 2-5 career record at the French Open. ___ SERENA WILLIAMS Ranked: 10 Country: United States Age: 37 2019 Match Record: 7-2 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 72 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 23 — French Open (2002, 2013, 2015), Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017), Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), U.S. Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-4th, 2017-DNP, 2016-RU, 2015-W, 2014-2nd Aces: Back in the top 10 this year after dropping out of the top 400 while away from the tour to have a baby. ... After missing about 1½ years of majors, reached two Grand Slam finals in 2018. ... Pulled out of last two tournaments because of injured left knee. Topspin: Comes to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open. There's also uncertainty about the status of her knee. So while she's always considered a favorite, no matter the site or surface, when she is healthy, it is hard to know what to expect from her this time around......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

Serena Williams set to return from injury at Italian Open

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Serena Williams is set to return from injury at the upcoming Italian Open. Tournament director Sergio Palmieri told The Associated Press on Friday that he spoke with Williams' agent and that Williams "has already reserved her rooms and should be here a few days early" for the May 13-19 event. Williams has not played since withdrawing from her third-round match at the Miami Open in March with a previously undisclosed left knee injury. She hasn't played in Rome since winning her fourth title at the clay-court event in 2016, when she beat Madison Keys in the final. Roger Federer's status, meanwhile, remains a question mark. Federer's announced schedule has him playing the Madrid Open next week as his only warmup for the French Open, which starts May 26. The 37-year-old Federer skipped the clay season the last two years. "Federer is entered to play, which is different from the last two years when he withdrew ahead of time," Palmieri said. "So the fact that he's entered means it's possible for him to play. It's impossible to predict, though. ... Knowing him, it's more probable that he'll come only if he's playing well." While he is a four-time runner-up, Federer has never won the Italian Open — making it one of the few significant trophies he hasn't claimed. "Playing three consecutive tournaments on clay at his age is complicated," Italian tennis federation president Angelo Binaghi said. "But I think it also depends on his results in Madrid." The only top men who have withdrawn from Rome are sixth-ranked Kevin Anderson and 16th-ranked Milos Raonic, who are both injured. The only top woman to pull out so far was three-time champion Maria Sharapova, who is recovering from a right shoulder injury. The Italian federation said 1999 champion Venus Williams and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka received wild cards to the tournament according to the WTA rule for former top-20 players. Another wild card was given to Sara Errani. The men's wild cards are Matteo Berrettini, last week's Hungarian Open champion, and Andreas Seppi and Lorenzo Sonego......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2019

Halep wins Wimbledon, stops Williams bid for 24th Slam

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Clutching her trophy 20 minutes after becoming Wimbledon's champion, Simona Halep checked out the board inside Centre Court that lists tournament winners. Below all of the mentions of Serena Williams, her opponent in Saturday's final, there already was inscribed: "Miss S. Halep." Halep was not concerned with preventing Williams from winning a 24th Grand Slam title. All Halep cared about was winning her first at the All England Club. And she played pretty much perfectly. On top of her game right from start to finish, Halep overwhelmed Williams 6-2, 6-2 in stunning fashion for her second major championship. The whole thing took less than an hour as Williams lost her third Slam final in a row as she tries to equal Margaret Court's record for most major trophies in tennis history. "She literally played out of her mind. Congratulations, Simona. It was a little bit 'a deer in the headlights' for me," Williams said. "So, I mean, whenever a player plays that amazing, you just kind of have to take your hat off and give them a nod of the head." How good was the No. 7-seeded Halep? She made a mere three unforced errors, a remarkably low total and 23 fewer than Williams. Not bad for someone who has been frank about how jittery she has gotten in past big matches and began the day having lost nine of 10 matchups against Williams. But after losing each of her first three major finals, Halep now has won two straight, including at last year's French Open. "Well, I had nerves. My stomach was not very well before the match," said Halep, a 27-year-old Romanian, "but I knew there is no time for emotions. I just came on court and I gave my best." Couldn't have been any better, really. Williams also lost in straight sets against Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final a year ago, and against Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open last September. The 37-year-old American hasn't won a tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, when she set the professional-era record of 23 Grand Slam championships (Court won 13 of her titles against amateur competition). Williams was pregnant when she won in Australia and then took more than a year off the tour; her daughter, Olympia, was born in September 2017. Since returning to tennis, Williams has dealt with injuries but still managed to remain among the game's elite. In part because of a bad left knee, she only had played 12 matches all season until Wimbledon. "Just got to keep fighting," Williams said, "and just keep trying." Didn't take long on Saturday for Halep to demonstrate this was not going to be easy for Williams. Not by any means. Showing off the talents and traits that once lifted her to No. 1 in the rankings, Halep never really gave Williams a chance to get into the match. Halep tracked down everything, as is her wont. She didn't merely play defense, though, managing to go from retrieving an apparent point-ending stroke by Williams to lashing a winner of her own in a blink. Her returns were exceptional, repeatedly getting back serves that left Williams' racket at 115 mph or more. On this cloudy, cool afternoon, with the temperature in the low 70s (low 20s Celsius), Halep began with a pair of service breaks and even delivered the match's first ace, at 106 mph, which put her out front 4-0 after 11 astonishing minutes. Halep won 14 of the first 18 points, with many in the crowd roaring for each of the rare ones that went Williams' way. Halep produced eight winners before a single unforced error, avoiding a miscue until the seventh game. Williams, in stark contrast, came out looking a bit tight, short-arming shots and accumulating nine unforced errors before conjuring up a single winner. She spoke after her semifinal victory about trying to remain calm on court, and that she did, even in the face of a player who was at her very best. Williams would place a hand on her hip. Or put a palm up and look at her guest box, as if thinking, "What can I do?" Williams' greatest show of emotion came after she stretched for a forehand volley winner on the second set's second point. She leaned forward and yelled, "Come on!" But the comeback never came. Halep broke to lead 3-2 in that set when Williams pushed a backhand long, and there wasn't much left from there. Halep only had been as far as the semifinals once at Wimbledon until now. But she was determined to change that and said she told the locker-room attendants at the beginning of the tournament she wanted to grab a title to earn lifetime membership in the All England Club. "So here I am," she said Saturday, the fortnight done, her trophy won. "It was one of my motivations before this tournament. So now I am happy.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

Serena Williams loses her 3rd consecutive Grand Slam final

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — The Centre Court crowd kept roaring whenever Serena Williams would win a point in the Wimbledon final, seemingly trying to will her to make things interesting against Simona Halep. Never happened. Instead of earning an eighth title at Wimbledon and record-equaling 24th overall at Grand Slam tournaments, Williams fell one victory short yet again, beaten with surprising ease by Halep 6-2, 6-2 Saturday. Williams has now lost her past three appearances in major finals — and five of her last seven. There's no shame in repeatedly making it to championship matches, of course, but it used to be rather unusual to see her come up just short like this: Williams won 21 of the first 25 Slam finals of her career. "I'm always expected to win," Williams said. That is true. Still, it was the seventh-seeded Halep who grabbed ahold of this match and never let go, finishing with three unforced errors to Williams' 26. Halep created problems by repeatedly tracking down Williams' shots and forcing the 37-year-old American to hit another one and another one and another one to win a point. "I definitely knew that she was just playing her heart out. I felt like, 'OK, what do I need to do to get to that level?'" Williams said. "I don't know if there's anything I could have done differently." After entering the final with a tournament-high 45 aces, Williams only managed two on Saturday. She was broken in half of her eight service games. Halep had a lot to do with that. "I feel like I'm still incredibly competitive or else I wouldn't really be out here, per se," Williams said. "For the most part, I feel like I'm on the right track. I'm just going in the right direction in terms of getting back to where I need to be." She hasn't won a title of any sort since the 2017 Australian Open, when she was pregnant. That was Slam trophy No. 23, breaking a tie with Steffi Graf for the most in the professional era. It also moved Williams within one of Margaret Court's total, although Court won 13 of her 24 major titles before professionals were admitted to Grand Slam tournaments, while all 23 of Williams' major titles have come in the Open era, which began in 1968. Since returning to the tour last season after her daughter was born on Sept. 1, 2017, Williams has reached the finals at three of six major tournaments she entered, defeated in straight sets each time. A year ago, she was the runner-up at Wimbledon to Angelique Kerber, and then the runner-up at the U.S. Open to Naomi Osaka in a final that descended into chaos when Williams was penalized a game for arguing with the chair umpire. Williams recently revealed that she saw a therapist after that episode and sent Osaka a written apology. She's also dealt with a series of injuries and arrived in England having contested only 12 tour-level matches in all of 2019. Just four of the other 127 women in the Wimbledon field had fewer; 105 had at least twice as many. After losing to 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin in the third round of the French Open, Williams stuck around in Paris for medical treatment on her left knee. By the time she began preparing in earnest for Wimbledon, about 1½ weeks before the start of play, she was pain-free. "I feel like I'm just really on this journey of just doing the best that I can," Williams said Saturday, "playing the best that I can when I can." According to the WTA's website, women's tennis pioneer Billie Jean King said recently that she would like to see what Williams could do on the court if she were to put "everything else aside" and "focus on what's necessary" for her tennis. King added: "If she's happy doing it this way, then that's fine. It's whatever makes her happy — it's not about us." The last question of Williams' post-match news conference referenced those comments and asked for a reaction. "The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me," Williams said, "will be the day I'm in my grave.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

Lucky loser from US upsets 2018 champ Kerber at Wimbledon

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Lauren Davis wasn't even supposed to be playing in Wimbledon's main draw, let alone upsetting defending champion Angelique Kerber in the second round. It's been quite a week. The 95th-ranked Davis lost in the last round of qualifying and figured that was that. But then another player withdrew from the tournament, opening up a spot, and the 25-year-old American got in — a "lucky loser" in tennis parlance. On Thursday, Davis turned things around after a poor start and knocked off the No. 5-seeded Kerber 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 to get to the third round and equal her best showing at any Grand Slam tournament. "I wouldn't say that I was surprised, because I always believe in myself. She's obviously an incredible champion; I have immense respect for her," Davis said. "I definitely believe in myself and believe that I can hang with these girls and beat them." She seemed to move around just fine despite a heavily wrapped left knee. "The tape is a lot worse than it looks. It's just a little soreness with my meniscus on my left side," Davis said. "It's really just prevention at this point, especially on the grass where it can be slippery potentially." Davis was by far the more aggressive player, compiling a hard-to-believe edge of 45-13 in total winners against Kerber, whom Davis called "a human backboard." This continues what's been an up-and-down season for Kerber, who won her third career major championship a year ago at the All England Club by beating Serena Williams in the final. Kerber hasn't won a title since. "I'm disappointed. Of course it's not the way I would like to finish here or to play here," the German said. "But you sometimes have days like that. You have to accept it. You have to learn from it." DUMPED FOR COCO Just a couple of other ways in which 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff is gaining attention at Wimbledon: Her third-round match Friday against another unseeded player was scheduled for Centre Court, and she was picked to play mixed doubles by someone who dumped his original partner in that event. First, Gauff was the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the professional era. Then the American went out on No. 1 Court and beat Venus Williams, who is 24 years older and had won four Grand Slam titles before Gauff was born. And then she beat 2017 semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova, again on No. 1 Court, and again in straight sets. Now she'll face 60th-ranked Polona Hercog at the most hallowed tennis arena anywhere. Gauff is entered in mixed doubles with Jay Clarke, who explained after losing to Roger Federer in singles on Wednesday that he switched things up after initially planning to play with fellow Brit Harriet Dart. "I made the decision a few days ago now to play with Coco, because ... you play with a big name or a past champion," Clarke said. "Yeah, I made the decision to play with probably the biggest name in the draw at the moment." Sorry, Harriet. "Obviously, initially, she was very upset," Clarke said. "She had every right to be; I'd be too." SO LONG, MARCOS Marcos Baghdatis said goodbye to tennis with a kiss. The 2006 Australian Open runner-up played the last match of his career Thursday at Wimbledon, a 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-3 loss in the second round to 17th-seeded Matteo Berrettini. After it ended, the 34-year-old from Cyprus patted his heart with both hands, then knelt and leaned his forehead on the grass, before planting a kiss on No. 2 Court. He cried as the spectators regaled him with a lengthy standing ovation. Baghdatis, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2006, said before the tournament began that it would be his last before retirement. His wife, former player Karolina Sprem, is expecting a baby in November, their third child. "I didn't want to leave the court," Baghdatis said. "It was a nice farewell. It felt amazing.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 5th, 2019

WIMBLEDON 19: What to know, from Murray s return to FAA

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Clearly, Andy Murray's tearful farewell to tennis was premature. So, too, was tennis' farewell to Murray. About five months since Murray discussed retirement because of pain in his surgically repaired hip — and everyone wished him well in any future endeavors — he is once again on tour thanks to a new operation. He's also back at age 32 at Wimbledon, where he won singles championships in 2013 and 2016. He is, for now, entered only in men's doubles but said Saturday he wants to find a mixed doubles partner, too. "We've had a number of conversations with a few players," three-time major champion said about finding a woman to play with, although he sidestepped questions about whether that could wind up being Serena Williams. "I mean, obviously she's arguably the best player ever," he said, before deadpanning: "It would be a pretty solid partner." In January, Murray said at the Australian Open that he would need to quit the sport because of his hip. After a five-set loss there — his first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years — Murray said: "If today was my last match, look, it was a brilliant way to finish." A video was shown there with tributes from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and others. The gist: "Congratulations on a great career. You'll be missed." Except Murray decided soon thereafter to get an artificial hip. He teamed with Feliciano Lopez at Queen's Club this month for the first test — and they left with the title. At Wimbledon, he will play with Pierre Hugues-Herbert. Did that immediate success shift Murray's expectations? "That's probably one of the things that I will try to make sure doesn't change over the next few years. I think a lot of that stuff kind of comes out from other people," said Murray, who was Britain's first men's singles title winner at Wimbledon in 77 years. "I'm just happy to be playing tennis again, really." Here are other things to know for Wimbledon, the year's third Grand Slam tournament: NADAL'S SEEDING Nadal was not pleased that Wimbledon — unique to majors, it gives extra credit for results on its surface over the preceding two years — dropped him from No. 2 in the rankings to No. 3 in the seedings, swapping spots with Federer behind No. 1 Djokovic. Nadal said it wasn't fair, and he blamed the ATP for not putting pressure on the All England Club to switch the way it determines seeds. ATP POLITICS Four members of the ATP Player Council resigned Saturday, a day after a 7-hour meeting to decide the new Americas' representative on the board. Dani Vallverdu, Robin Haase, Jamie Murray and Sergiy Stakhovsky stepped down. It's part of an ongoing, behind-the-scenes power struggle in men's tennis that has included the decision to not renew the contract of CEO Chris Kermode and the resignation of board member Justin Gimelstob after he was sentenced in court for attacking a former friend in Los Angeles. Former ATP executive Weller Evans was chosen Friday to fill Gimelstob's seat. FAA Everyone wants to try to figure out the sport's next new star, and there are plenty who think it could be Felix Auger-Aliassime, an 18-year-old from Canada who is seeded 19th. There are two particularly important numbers associated with a guy many refer to by his initials, "FAA." There's 88, the ranking spots he's climbed this year, from 109th to 21st. And there's zero, his career victory total at Grand Slam tournaments. That figures to change soon. "To me," said McEnroe, a seven-time major champion and now an ESPN commentator, "he's going to be No. 1." INJURIES The latest person out of the tournament was 14th-seeded Borna Coric, who withdrew Saturday because of an abdominal injury. Brayden Schnur, who lost in qualifying, moved into the field and will face Marcos Baghdatis. Earlier withdrawals included 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro (right knee) and Bianca Andreescu (right shoulder). Among those coming back to action are 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson, who has played only two matches since March because of a right arm issue; 2018 semifinalist John Isner, out since the Miami Open final because of an injured left foot; and five-time major champion Maria Sharapova, who returned this month after being out since January with a hurt right shoulder. Petra Kvitova, who missed the French Open with a left forearm problem, plans to play at Wimbledon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 2019

Kerber to play Pliskova in Eastbourne final

EASTBOURNE, England (AP) — Reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber will face Karolina Pliskova for the Eastbourne title after semifinal opponent Ons Jabeur withdrew with a right ankle injury on Friday. Jabeur rolled the ankle on Thursday in the quarterfinals and couldn't recover in time for her second career semifinal. Chasing her first title since she beat Serena Williams in last year's Wimbledon final, Kerber will play in the Eastbourne final for the third time after losing in 2012 and 2014. The second-seeded Pliskova didn't face a single break point in beating Kiki Bertens 6-1, 6-2. For Pliskova, it was her third consecutive match dropping three games or fewer. "I'm just pleased that I made it," Pliskova said. "I didn't spend too much energy and too much time on court." Bertens stumbled and hit her head on the court at 1-0 in the second set and went on to lose the next five games. Pliskova beat Caroline Wozniacki to win the Eastbourne title in 2017 after losing to Dominika Cibulkova the year before. Kerber has a 7-4 record against Pliskova and won their only previous meeting on grass in Birmingham in 2015. Pliskova is 2-1 in finals this season and won the Italian Open last month. Kerber will start her Wimbledon title defense against Tatjana Maria and is in the same quarter of the draw as Williams and French Open champion Ash Barty. There's an all-American final in the men's draw as Taylor Fritz plays Sam Querrey. Both are unseeded. Fritz upset third-seeded Kyle Edmund 7-6 (8), 6-3, while Querrey downed Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2019

Super old Federer to face ex-contemporary s son at French

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Roger Federer, 37, joked to a stadium filled with screaming kids that he's "so super old." Stan Wawrinka, 34, pulled a crying boy out of a crush of autograph-seekers in the stands. Rafael Nadal, about to turn 33, offered this advice to youngsters at his match who might be pondering a tennis career: "The main thing is, don't think about winning Roland Garros." Schools in France are closed on Wednesdays, bringing out a, um, louder brand of fan to the French Open, and that trio of past champions of the clay-court major seemed to appreciate the adulation from the little ones who attended their straight-set victories. Fitting, too, perhaps, that Federer advanced to a third-round meeting against 20-year-old Casper Ruud, someone so much his junior that the guy's father was in the field when Federer made his debut in Paris in 1999. "I know probably more about his dad," Federer said, "than about him." Federer, the tournament's 2009 champion who hadn't been in the field in four years, will be playing his third opponent in a row who is 25 or younger, after beating 144th-ranked Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round. Now the 20-time major champion takes on Ruud, a Norwegian ranked 63rd. He is coached by his father, Christian, who told Casper he once practiced with Federer, although they never played. "Ever since I can remember, I've been watching Roger on TV," said Ruud, who knocked off 29th-seeded Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Then came this admission from Ruud: "To be honest, I've been a little bit more of a Rafa fan and Rafa guy." Better hope no one tells Roger. Still, even if he always has preferred Nadal, Ruud described what comes next this way: "I'm playing one of the greatest champions ever of this sport on Friday, so I'm just super excited for it. I can play loose and free." Wawrinka, the winner in 2015 and the runner-up two years later, also had no trouble against a much younger foe Wednesday, eliminating 22-year-old Cristian Garin 6-1, 6-4, 6-0. Afterward, Wawrinka came to the rescue of one of his tiniest fans, lifting him away from danger and offering a towel as a keepsake. "I took him out of that mess a little bit," Wawrinka said. "He was in pain and sad." Owner of three Grand Slam titles in all, Wawrinka will bring his signature backhand into what shapes up as a more competitive matchup against two-time major semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who eliminated 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-7 (3), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 over nearly 4½ hours. Nadal's form hadn't been up to his usual standards during much of the clay season: This was the first time since 2004 that he entered May without a title for the year. But he looked good while taking the title at the Italian Open this month, including a victory over Novak Djokovic in the final, and he's been close to untouchable so far as he seeks a record-extending 12th trophy in Paris. His latest tour de force was a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over 114th-ranked Yannick Maden, a qualifier from Germany. OK, so Nadal hasn't really faced much of a test yet. Still, he is displaying the court-covering, ball-walloping style he has perfected, which could come in handy when he plays 2016 French Open quarterfinalist David Goffin in the third round. "I don't like the word 'easy,' because when you win, it always looks easier," Nadal said. "I can say (I had) a comfortable victory. I have been in control most all the time. And that's the only thing that really matters." While plenty of the sport's big names still dot the men's bracket, the women's field keeps seeing top players depart. On Wednesday, No. 4 seed Kiki Bertens, a 2016 semifinalist and considered a contender for her first major title, quit during the first set of her match against Viktoria Kuzmova because she was sick. Tears filled Bertens' eyes as she described waking up at 3 a.m., feeling ill. "Vomiting. Diarrhea. All night long, all day long. I felt a little bit better before the match. I had some sleep, and I just wanted to give it a try," she said. "But then as soon as I start warming up right before the match, it started again. There was not any energy left." Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian who was seeded 22nd, pulled out before her match against 20-year-old American Sonia Kenin, citing an injured right shoulder that sidelined her from March until this week. Kenin will face the winner of Thursday's match between Serena Williams and Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara. Bertens and Andreescu join two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who withdrew before her first match because of an arm injury, and former No. 1s Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki, who both lost in the first round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

Nadal opens bid for 12th French Open title against qualifier

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting. The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form. Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay. "It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I'm very happy to find myself in this situation." In the women's draw, Simona Halep will open the defense of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka, who seeks a third consecutive major championship, will be up against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová. Coming to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw with Osaka and Halep. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. Osaka will be up against a tough opponent if she gets past Schmiedlova, facing the winner of a first-round match pitting 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko and former top-ranked player Victoria Azarenka. Nadal, who last year became the first male player to win 11 titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, could meet his old foe Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential quarterfinal matchup. Federer is back on clay after skipping that part o the season for the past two years. He reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome, where he withdrew because of a right leg injury. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz. The Serb has been enjoying a good run of form during the clay season, winning the title in Madrid before losing to Nadal in Rome. Organizers announced before the draw that Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic had withdrawn from the tournament, which starts on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Serena Williams, umatras sa nagpapatuloy na Italian Open Tennis Tournament

TENNIS superstar Serena Williams.   NG: SMNI NEWS UMATRAS na sa nagpapatuloy na Italian Open Tennis Tournament ang tennis superstar na si Serena Williams. Sa pahayag ni Williams, sinabi nito na ang kanyang pag- withdraw sa torneyo ay bunsod ng kanyang iniindang injury sa kaliwang tuhod. Nakatakda sanang makaharap ni Serena ang kanyang kapatid na […] The post Serena Williams, umatras sa nagpapatuloy na Italian Open Tennis Tournament appeared first on PINAS......»»

Category: newsSource:  pinasglobalRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

Svitolina, Zverev shocked in Rome as Serena withdraws from Italian Open - The Manila Times Online

ROME: Two-time womens holder Elina Svitolina crashed out of the WTA and ATP Italian Open on Tuesday along with Germanys Alexander Zverev as Serena Williamss return to the courts wasREAD The post Svito.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

Serena Williams set to return from injury at Italian Open - Inquirer Sports

ROME Serena Williams is set to return from injury at the upcoming Italian Open. Tournament director Sergio Palmieri told The Associated Press on Friday that he spoke with Williams agent and that Will.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsMay 4th, 2019

Federer extends run of reaching 3rd round to 18 Aussie Opens

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer relied on his Grand Slam experience during the most important points to beat Noah Rubin 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Wednesday, maintaining his record of never failing to reach the third round at the 18 Australian Opens he's contested. After back-to-back wins over qualifiers, the degree of difficulty in his comeback from a six-month injury layoff will increase exponentially. Next up he faces 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, who had a 6-3, 7-6 (6), 6-2 win over Ryan Harrison. Also looming, potentially, is No. 5 Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, who set up a third-round match against Lukas Lacko with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Jeremy Chardy. Federer didn't play after his semifinal exit at Wimbledon last year, resting his injured left knee. He returned at the Hopman Cup exhibition in Perth this month, and opened at Melbourne Park with a win over another 35-year-old veteran, Jurgen Melzer. Against Rubin, a 20-year-old qualifier and 2014 Wimbledon junior champion, the 17-time Grand Slam winner played the big points like the old pro that he is. Rubin had his chances in the third set, breaking Federer in the second game and having two set points on the Swiss star's serve when he led 5-2. But Federer upped the tempo, winning four of the last five games to force a tiebreaker, which he dominated. Rubin moved well from the baseline, and hit 11 forehand winners, but was only able to convert one of his six break-point chances. 'I definitely got lucky winning that third set. He had a couple of set points on my serve,' Federer said. There were, 'a lot of difficult points, which is what I need.' Federer has a 16-6 record against Berdych, winning the last five, but has had losses to the Czech player at the 2004 Olympics, at Wimbledon in 2010 and at the 2012 U.S. Open. 'He's caused difficulties for me in the past on faster courts,' Federer said. 'Then again, I've played him here, as well, when it went my way. I just got to play on my terms.' U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka advanced 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 over Steve Johnson and will next play No. 29 Viktor Troicki. No. 19 John Isner, the highest-seeded U.S. player in the men's draw, lost to Mischa Zverev 6-7 (4), 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (7), 9-7 and followed Johnson, Rubin and Harrison out in the second round. No. 23 Jack Sock and No. 31 Sam Querrey won in straight sets, ensuring the U.S. men finished day three on a brighter note. Defending champion Angelique Kerber celebrated her 29th birthday with a 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-2 second-round win over Carina Witthoeft. The crowd sang her 'Happy Birthday,' although she wasn't entirely on song. The No. 1-ranked Kerber angrily swiped her racket in the second set in a burst of frustration that momentarily threw her off her game. She had two double-faults in the tiebreaker, as Witthoeft leveled the match, but regained control in the third. Kerber planned to celebrate over dinner, then get back to work before Friday's third-round match against Kristyna Pliskova, who beat No. 27 Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4, 7-6 (8). Pliskova's twin sister, Karolina, lost the U.S. Open final to Kerber. 'I'm always playing on my birthday — always in Australia,' said Kerber, who had her major breakthrough here last year. 'I feel like at home here.' Speaking of age, Venus Williams had to field questions about getting older after an energetic performance in her 6-3, 6-2 win over Stefanie Voegele. The 36-year-old, seven-time major winner played the first of her record 73 Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open in 1997. 'It's an honor and privilege to start that young,' she added, laughing, 'and play this old.' Venus and Serena Williams, who have won 14 major doubles titles together, withdrew from a scheduled first-round doubles match later Wednesday, citing an injury to Venus' right elbow. In her next singles match, Venus will play Duan Yingying, who beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 3-6, 10-8. In other third-round matches, two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova will meet former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic, No. 11 Elina Svitolina will take on No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Eugenie Bouchard, who reached the semifinals here and the Wimbledon final in 2014, will play CoCo Vandeweghe. French Open champion Garbine Muguruza beat Samantha Crawford 7-5, 6-4 in a night match, and Mona Barthel beat Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Federer returns with a win, joins Murray in 2nd round

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer shanked a few shots and was unsettled by how nervous he felt after six months on the sidelines, despite the familiar surroundings at the Australian Open. No other man on tour knows the way around a Grand Slam tournament better than Federer, who is playing in his 69th major and has won a record 17. He served 19 aces and had only one double-fault in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win Monday over fellow 35-year-old Jurgen Melzer, but dropped serve three times and experienced frustrating moments. 'I was feeling nervous once the match actually started,' said Federer, who hadn't played at tour level since Wimbledon after taking time off to let his injured left knee heal. 'In the warmup ... I felt fine. Then I hit four frames in a row. It was like, 'Whew, it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be.' 'I struggled for a while to find that groove, that rhythm.' Federer had surgery on the knee after a semifinal exit at the last Australian Open and missed the French Open, ending his streak of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. He returned for Wimbledon, reached the semifinals, then didn't play again in 2016. In November, he fell out of the top 10 for the first time in 734 weeks. The 17th-seeded Federer wasn't the only highly-ranked player to find the going tough Monday. Stan Wawrinka, the U.S. Open champion, was pushed to five sets. So was No. 5-seeded Kei Nishikori. Angelique Kerber, defending champion and ranked No. 1 at a major for the first time, had some nervous moments in her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Lesia Tsurenko. Kerber won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year, beating Serena Williams in the final after saving a match point in the first round. After wasting a match point before her serve was broken as Tsurenko rallied to win the second set, Kerber said her mind raced back 12 months. 'When I lost the second set, and I had match point, I was thinking about my match last year in the first round,' she said. 'First rounds are always tough.' 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 a 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Illya Marchenko. In other words, nothing much has changed. The five-time finalist comfortably navigated what he hoped was the first step to a drought-breaking Australian Open title. Murray has lost four of the last six finals in Melbourne to six-time champion Novak Djokovic. Gaining the top ranking and receiving the civic honors doesn't change anything for Murray, who said he faces 'the same pressure, same expectations. I've never won here — I'm going to try to change that this year.' Wawrinka, who made his Grand Slam breakthrough in Australia in 2014, narrowly scraped past 35th-ranked Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. In the ninth game of the fifth set, Wawrinka smashed a soft half-volley from Klizan straight back into the Slovakian's body, clipping the frame and just missing his midsection. He stepped over the net and ensured Klizan was OK, then held serve in that game and broke in the next game to finish it off. Nishikori beat Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Joining him in the second round are 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 19 John Isner, No. 23 Jack Sock, No. 27 Bernard Tomic, No. 29 Viktor Troicki and No. 31 Sam Querrey. Also, No. 14 Nick Kyrgios returned from his suspension for underperforming in Shanghai last year and raced through a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Gastao Elias. No. 16 Lucas Pouille was the highest-ranked of the three men's seeded players to lose. Five of the women's seeded players went out, including No. 4 Simona Halep, who lost 6-3, 6-1 to Shelby Rogers in the first match on Rod Laver Arena, and No. 15 Roberta Vinci, who lost to CoCo Vandeweghe. Seven-time major winner Venus Williams beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (5), 7-5, and 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard continued her recent resurgence by routing Louisa Chirico 6-0, 6-4. Joining them in the next round will be French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 10 Carla Suarez, No. 11 Elina Svitolina and No. 20 Zhang Shuai. Sixteen-year-old Destanee Aiava became the first player born in this millennium to play in the main draw of a major, but the milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Mona Barthel. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

New look: Murray, Kerber start Australian Open as top seeds

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It's new and exciting for Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, entering a Grand Slam tournament with the No. 1 in front of their names. Both reached the top of the rankings for the first time near the end of 2016, ending long reigns by Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. And so they'll open their Australian Open campaigns on Rod Laver Arena on day one — both against Ukrainians. Murray, a five-time runner-up, opens his pursuit of a first Australian title against Illya Marchenko in the last day match on the main show court. Kerber opens the night session against Lesia Tsurenko. She'll be followed on court by Roger Federer, who is returning from six months on the sidelines. The 'one-round-at-a-time' cliche is well worn in tennis. For Kerber, though, it's pertinent. Seeded seventh last year, the left-handed German had to save a match point in the first round against Misaki Doi. Spurred on by that, she went on to beat Serena Williams in the final and claim her first Grand Slam title. She added a second major at the U.S. Open and ascended to the No 1 ranking. 'I think this point where I was match point down, that was the important point for my career,' Kerber said Sunday, speaking of her first-round escape against Doi. 'You never know (if) I lost the match, what would have happened.' It gave her the freedom to play without pressure, and that made all the difference. 'When I'm looking back, I was feeling that I got a second chance to stay in the tournament,' she said. 'I was playing since then without expectation ... just enjoying everything.' Kerber can hang on to the top ranking by reaching to the final here, but she's already feeling there's more to defend than her title. 'It's a new challenge for me, for sure,' she said. But, 'We are starting from zero here. I have to be ready from the first round again. 'I will try to not put too much expectation and pressure on myself. I mean, I will try to do it like last year — that was the way I had my success.' Record-chasing, six-time champions Djokovic and Williams, seeded No. 2 and anchoring the bottom half of the men's and women's draws, won't be in action until day two. Djokovic is aiming to be the first man to win seven Australian titles. Serena Williams is chasing an Open-era record 23rd major title. Newly-engaged Williams hasn't wanted to talk about the record, being a little bit superstitious. Williams is concentrating on her first-round match against Belinda Bencic, who was seeded 12th here last year and who beat her in Toronto in 2015. While Serena has to wait, the Williams family will be represented on Rod Laver Arena on Monday by her older sister, Venus. The 13th-seeded Venus Williams will play against Kateryna Kozlova following fourth-seeded Simona Halep's opener against Shelby Rogers. French Open champion Garbine Muguruza starts play on Margaret Court Arena against Marina Erakovic, and U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka opens the night session on the second show court. Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori gets things underway against Andrey Kuznetsov on Hisense Arena, where Nick Kyrgios will make his return to the tour against Gastao Elias. The 21-year-old Kyrgios finished 2016 under a ban in a season overshadowed by clashes with officials and fans and by the tanking at the Shanghai Masters which led to an eight-week suspension. The ban was reduced to three weeks when Kyrgios agreed to consult a sports psychologist, allowing to warmup for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup. That's where Federer made his return from six months out to give his injured left knee time to heal. The 17-time major winner didn't play after Wimbledon and his ranking slid to No. 17 by this week. That resulted in him getting a tougher draw than usual at the tournament he has won four times, and where he has reached the semifinals in 12 of the last 13 years. If results go with rankings, he'll play two qualifiers before a potential third-round match against No. 10 Tomas Berdych. Nishikori and Murray are also in his quarter. Federer will open against another 35-year-old veteran, former No. 8-ranked Jurgen Melzer. 'That's the part of the draw I care most about because of having not been playing,' Federer said. Wild-card entry Destanee Aiava, a 16-year-old Melbourne high school student, is set to become the first player born in this millennium to play a main draw match at a Grand Slam when she meets German qualifier Mona Barthel on Show Court 2. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 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

Serena unsure what rest of 2016 holds

NEW YORK: Serena Williams couldn’t get her mind off her sore left knee as she was sent reeling from the US Open semifinals Thursday (Friday in Manila) by 11th-ranked Czech Karolina Pliskova. The 34-year-old Williams, who was gunning for a 23rd Gran.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 9th, 2016

Lowry, Holmes share Open lead as McIlroy leaves with cheers

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Everyone in the massive grandstand rose to cheer and celebrate a bold performance by Rory McIlroy, who longed for such support and affection on his walk toward his final hole at Royal Portrush in the British Open. Except this was Friday. And now McIlroy can only watch on the weekend as one of his best friends, Shane Lowry of Ireland, goes after the claret jug. Lowry birdied four of his opening five holes on his way to a 4-under 67 and shared the 36-hole lead with J.B. Holmes, who had a 68. Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood were one shot behind. Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth were three back. That can wait. This day was all about McIlroy, who kept the sellout crowd on edge as he tried to make the cut after opening with a 79. The roars had the intensity of a final round as McIlroy ran off five birdies in seven holes to brighten a gloomy sky over the North Atlantic. Needing one last birdie, his approach took a wrong turn along the humps left of the 18th green. He made par for a 65. "It's a moment I envisaged for the last few years," McIlroy said. "It just happened two days early." He was disappointed. He was proud of his play. Mostly, though, he said he was "full of gratitude toward every single one of the people that followed me to the very end and was willing me on." "As much as I came here at the start of the week saying I wanted to do it for me, by the end of the round there today I was doing it just as much for them," he said. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won't be around, either. It was the first time in 77 majors they have played as professionals that both missed the cut in the same major. Darren Clarke, who honed his game on the Dunluce Links as a junior and now calls Portrush home, missed the cut in a most cruel fashion with a triple bogey on his final hole. And now the first British Open in Northern Ireland since 1951 moves on without them, still with the promise of a great show. Lowry was so nervous he was shaking on the tee when the tournament began Thursday, swept up in the emotion of an Open on the Emerald Isle, and on a course he knows. He gave fans plenty to cheer when he opened his second round with three straight birdies, added a birdie on the fifth and holed a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 10 to reach 10 under, making him the only player this week to reach double figures under par. The cheers were as loud as he has heard. "Just incredible," Lowry said. "You can't but smile, but can't but laugh how it is. There's no point trying to shy away from it. It's an incredible feeling getting applauded on every green, every tee box. I'm out there giving my best, trying to do my best for everyone." He three-putted the 14th, saved par on the next three holes with his deft touch around the greens, and closed with a bogey to fall back into a tie with Holmes, who played earlier in the day and was the first to post at 8-under 134. Holmes won at Riviera earlier this year, and then failed to make the cut in eight of his next 12 tournaments as he battled a two-way miss off the tee and felt so bad that he never thought he'd recover. But he did enough in Detroit three weeks ago to regain some confidence, and he has been in a groove at Portrush. "You can have that great round and that day where everything goes right. But it's nice to get two rounds in a row," Holmes said. "It shows a little consistency. And two days in a row I've hit the ball really well and putted well." Fleetwood and Westwood, two Englishmen at different stages in their careers, each had a 67 and will play in the group ahead of Lowry and Holmes. Westwood is 46 and can make a case as the best active player without a major considering his status — a former No. 1 in the world and on the European Tour — and the number of near misses in the majors, such as Muirfield and Turnberry at the Open, Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open and Augusta National when Mickelson out played him in 2010. Is it too late? Westwood wasn't willing to look that far ahead. "There's too much ground to cover before Sunday night," Westwood said. "There's a long way to go in this tournament. I've never felt under that much pressure, to be honest. You lads write about it. I've always gone out and done my best. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen, and if it doesn't, it doesn't." The experience of winning majors was behind them. Justin Rose had a 67 and was two shots behind, along with Cameron Smith of Australia and Justin Harding of South Africa. Another shot back was a group that included Koepka, who has won three of the last six majors. He was in a tie for eighth, the 16th time in his last 17 rounds at the majors he has ended a round in the top 10. Koepka wasn't happy with much about his 2-under 69, calling it "a little bit disappointing," perhaps because he played in dry weather and only a mild wind. "But at the same time, I'm close enough where I play a good weekend, I'll be in good shape," he said. Spieth hasn't quite figured out how to get the ball in play more often — too many bunkers on Thursday, too much high grass on Friday. But that putter is not a problem, and it carried him to a collection of mid-range birdie and par putts for a 67. "I'm in contention. I feel good," Spieth said, winless since his Open title at Royal Birkdale two years ago. "I feel like if I can continue to improve each day, hit the ball better tomorrow than I did today, and better on Sunday than Saturday, then I should have a chance with how I feel on and around the greens." Graeme McDowell, born and raised in Portrush, played well enough to make the weekend. He finished with four straight pars for a 70 to make the cut on the number at 1-over 143, and felt the pressure of sticking around for the home crowd. Woods, meanwhile, began this major championship season as the Masters champion, ended it as a mystery. He missed the cut in two of the next three majors, and never seemed fully fit or engaged at the British Open. He was 3 under for his round through 11 holes with hopes of making it to the weekend, but he had no more birdies and finished with two bogeys for a 70 to miss by five shots. "I'm going to have my hot weeks. I'm going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments," Woods said, facing the reality of a 43-year-old who has gone through eight surgeries on his knee and back. "But there are times when I'm just not going to be there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2019

Team Lakay s Gina Iniong and Joshua Pacio: Two paths, one goal

Lakay. It is the Ilocano word for old man.   But when you go up to Baguio, it has an altogether different meaning. You cannot miss that word when you drive down Benguet road, on a nifty sign attached to a normal-looking office building: Team Lakay.   The home of the best Philippine mixed martial arts team in history. Almost all of the big names local fight fans have come to cheer and love as our modern-day heroes trace their roots to the relatively small, packed training room down Benguet road, where mats are soaked with the sweat of the fighters.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, Rey Docyogen, Roldan Sangcha-an, and Mark Eddiva are all hallowed names in the annals of Philippine mixed martial arts, disciples of Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, who established, and groomed Team Lakay to the fearsome fighting factory that it is today.   While all the names above have ensconced themselves on pedestals, Team Lakay’s pipeline includes two more who have been fighting for recognition in recent fights: lone female fighter Gina Iniong, and ONE’s current Strawweight lynchpin and youngest champion, Joshua Pacio.   Both fighters may have started their professional fighting careers for different reasons, but Iniong and Pacio still have a lot to offer and prove for mixed martial arts in the country and in the international stage, such as being prominent fighters in the prestigious cage of ONE Championship.   CHANCE OF A LIFETIME   Gina, the first female Filipino mixed martial artist to fight and win abroad, started boxing back in high school as part of her after-school activities. When she was about to graduate, she actively sought scholarships in order to finish her education. One such opportunity presented itself in the form of an athletic scholarship, concentrating on the martial art of Wushu, which has a huge following in her hometown of Baguio City, with the University of the Cordilleras having a team of its own.   “Our former boxing coach, who was a former student of Coach Mark (Sangiao), approached me one day, telling me to join the upcoming wushu competition then for the college scholarship. So I joined it, and took a chance,” Iniong shared, recounting how she got into the world of combat sports as a young lady.   However, it was too good to be true, as she had to hurdle quite a huge problem if she wants that scholarship: a fight record. Sangiao told the young Iniong it would be difficult to get her a scholarship if she does not have a record to show in active combat in Wushu.   “I was lucky because there was a Wushu National Games here in Manila and we immediately went down and made our way there. Thankfully, I got the gold after the competition, and that paved the way for my scholarship,” said Iniong.   From there, the “Conviction” was born. After competing in numerous Wushu tournaments, Iniong finally caught the eye of Sangiao, who decided to take her under his wings and train her to be his female version inside the MMA cage.   After debuting in the Universal Reality Combat Championship in 2010, Iniong hasn’t looked back in the 12 bouts she has figured in, compiling a professional record of 8-4.  As the lone female representative of the most-successful mixed martial arts team in the Philippines, she has displayed that trademark fearsome striking prowess of fighters coming from the Lakay camp.   When asked about the fact that she is one of the only five Filipinas making the country proud inside the ONE cage, the 29-year old’s face lit up, in disbelief, in honor, in humility, for she cannot believe it herself.   “I’m very proud, and humbled, of the fact that I am the lone female fighter representing Team Lakay in ONE Championship. Many very skilled female fighters dream of being part of ONE Championship, and fight under Team Lakay, yet I am the one that Coach Mark has seen with the most potential to carry the flag inside the cage,” she said.   However, what drives Gina to fight, and it has been a well-known fact, is her mother, diagnosed with a stage 5 chronic kidney disease. In her fight against Jihin Radzuan last February, Iniong dedicated the fight to her mother, who to this day, is scared of seeing her daughter mix it up in the ring.   “To this day, she hasn’t watched me fight live, not even on TV because she is quite the nervous person, and she would only watch if she knew I won, during replays. She is very unlike my dad, who has fully supported my life as an athlete, after being a boxer himself in his younger days,” she shared.   CHALLENGE ACCEPTED   Joshua “The Passion” Pacio never intended to make mixed martial arts fighting a career growing up. The 23-year old fighter deemed it impossible back then, to reach a stage as huge as ONE Championship, due to the excellence of the fighters that he used to watch with his uncle through videos.   Add to the fact that Pacio was overweight. Obese, specifically. It made it all the more difficult for the kid to follow his dream and passion to be a fighter.   It all changed when his uncle started training him in Muay Thai, the art of the eight limbs that originated from Thailand, and considered one of the deadliest forms of combat striking. It started out as training just for fitness, but as if seeing a tiny ray of light in a dark tunnel, Pacio wanted more.   “At first, it was only for fitness, with my uncle training me, and watching videos of various MMA fights, which really inspired me to push myself harder. I really wanted to test myself, compete with the best, and it all seemed impossible when I was out of shape. My uncle really pushed me starting with Muay Thai. I started competing a few months after that, but I suffered defeat after defeat in amateur competitions. I questioned myself why I still trained afterwards. But at the same time, that’s when I realized that this is really my passion, that even if I lost my last fight,” shared the ONE Championship Strawweight king, who has not looked back since then.   “The goal for me has ever been to prove to myself that I have improved in skills, and be the best fighter I can be,” Pacio added.   He made his ONE debut three years ago, finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of professional mixed martial arts, facing a more experienced Filipino fighter in Robin Catalan at the age of 20, one of the youngest to enter ONE’s cage.   “Before I got to represent Team Lakay in ONE Championship, the roster spot was actually up for grabs. Fighters of the team figured in a Team Lakay Championship, a grand-prix style tournament within the team, for the ONE Championship contract. I fought twice victoriously in one night to get it. Two weeks later, with a ONE Championship event in Manila, that’s when I found out I am making my professional debut,” said an astounded Pacio.   Everything about the man they call “The Passion” has been hard earned. He finally tasted gold last 2018 when he decisioned the famed Yoshitaka Naito, a Japanese ground and wrestling master that forced Pacio to tap via a rear-naked choke when they first met. Facing, and losing to Naito, according to Pacio, was a revelation that he has to improve his overall skills, especially his ground game in order to play with the big boys of the cage.   Striking will definitely get you somewhere, as is with Pacio’s base as a martial artist, but one has to have more tricks up his sleeve when they aspire for the pinnacle of the competition. Joshua came back with a vengeance in 2018 to show “Nobita” that “The Passion” is no longer the young kid who will be submitted easily.   However, 2019 did not start of great for Pacio and Team Lakay, after he lost the belt in January to Naito’s contemporary in Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta in a questionable split decision. But that did not deter the young man, who has made it his personal goal to continue improving and treat each loss as a lesson, in ONE Championship’s “Roots of Honor” fight card, where he faced Saruta once more.   This time, in front of a racous Filipino crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena, Pacio did not let the judges’ cards decide as he detonated a right knee to the side of Saruta’s head late in the fourth round to reclaim his throne. The dreaded Team Lakay striking power knocked the lights out from the Japanese fighter as Baguio’s young lion let out a furious roar to celebrate his redemption.   TWO PATHS, ONE GOAL   One did it for education, the other for health. Nowadays, however, MMA means more to Iniong and Pacio than just a stepping stone to something else. It is their passion, their advocacy, their bread and butter.   They continue to grind each day, waiting for another opportunity to show what they got and get the win, not just for personal glory, but also for the country and their family.   Inspired by her ailing mother, the “Conviction” promises to keep her current winning streak up despite being up against a formidable foe in her next match. After tasting defeat from Brazilian Istela Nunes, Iniong bounced back with a split decision over Radzuan last February to get herself back on track. Right now, Gina has one thing in mind with their goal: chase that ONE Women’s Atomweight division title, currently held by Angela Lee, and become the Philippines’ very first female ONE world champion.   However, Iniong acknowledges that the path towards the gold may not be easy, as she is currently eyeing a rematch with Japanese tormentor Mei Yamaguchi, the number one-ranked Atomweight fighter whom she has fought with twice, in order to settle who the rightful challenger to Lee’s belt is.   “Everyone has gotten belts. My big brothers in the team have tasted championship. I felt jealous because I do not have a belt, and lost my fight that would have given me a title shot. This time, I will make sure that I will do my best to secure a title fight,” rued Iniong in a previous interview with ONE Championship prior to fighting Radzuan.   While Iniong wants hit paydirt, it’s all about keeping the belt on his waist for Pacio, the reigning ONE Strawweight champion. His most probable foe is his nemesis Yoshitaka Naito who he does not have a problem with facing for the third time.   “I really want to prove I am the champion, and if it’s by facing him (Naito), so be it. I also want to prove that I have greatly improved as well from the last time we fought,” he shared.   While Iniong and Pacio await their next fighting assignment, their teammates are in the thick of training for the upcoming “Dawn of Heroes” megafight card happening on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena. It features Team Lakay members, led by Edward “Landslide” Folayang, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and Danny “The King” Kingad, who will face the best of the world as represented by Eddie Alvarez, Reece McLaren, and Yuya Wakamatsu.   The entire country will be cheering on them as the whole world watches. And maybe somehow, somewhere there will be new blood encouraged and inspired by them to take on the challenge of continuing the legacy of the nation’s best fighting team alongside Iniong and Pacio.   After all, Sangiao did not establish Team Lakay just to be some Bagiuo-based fitness gym down Benguet road. He made Team Lakay to provide a home, a family, for young Filipinos who have the heart to fight for their dream, their family, and the country.     Watch “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena, to be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD with livestreaming on iWant for all the Pinoy fight fans to see. For more stories and news one ONE Championship, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2019

Summer League winds down, and now, maybe, some NBA rest

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press They'll hand out T-shirts to the Summer League winners following the championship game between Memphis and Minnesota in Las Vegas on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), and then things will finally slow down a bit in the NBA. Maybe. And probably not for long. It's been a hectic month since Toronto won the NBA championship and the so-called offseason commenced. Already this summer, 18 current and former All-Stars have changed franchises, and that number will rise to 19 if Vince Carter finds a new home for his final season. Recent NBA Finals MVPs Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala all were among those on the move. And another three past finals MVPs — Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker — all retired. So when next season begins, very little will look the same. "I think there's going to be a lot of parity," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "That's my gut." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expected this summer to be loaded with player movement, and wasn't complaining about so many big names — Durant, Leonard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jimmy Butler and many more — needing to file change-of-address cards. "At the end of the day, it's positive for the league," Silver said. "I will say, though, I'm mindful of this notion of balance of power, and I think it applies in many different ways. An appropriate balance of power between the teams and the players ... at the end of the day, you want to make sure you have a league where every team is in a position to compete." There were some clear winners in free agency: Brooklyn (who got Durant and Irving), the Los Angeles Clippers (who got George and Leonard) and the Los Angeles Lakers (who got Davis) were among them. It could be argued that the Oklahoma City Thunder won as well — no, they won't be as good this season as they were this past season after trading George and Westbrook, but general manager Sam Presti has enough draft picks now to enjoy flexibility for years. The losers are clear as well: Toronto lost Leonard and Danny Green and Golden State lost Durant, so last season's finalists certainly aren't favorites to be this season's finalists. It's also easy to say that New York lost after coming up empty on the big-name free agents, but the Knicks got plenty of good players on deals that ensure the team will have money again next summer. A lookahead at what's coming, and some notes on what's gone down: SO NOW WHAT? Any NBA withdrawal will really only last about three weeks, until roughly three dozen players return to Las Vegas for USA Basketball's training camp leading up to the FIBA World Cup in China that starts on Aug. 31. San Antonio's Gregg Popovich is coaching the Americans, assisted by Golden State's Steve Kerr, Atlanta's Lloyd Pearce and Villanova's Jay Wright. Zion Williamson, knee permitting, may take part in camp as one of the young players brought in to help the more-established pros get ready. If Williamson impresses, he may get a shot at joining the varsity club. Also, this season's NBA schedule is likely to come around the second week of August, if recent years are any indicator. WHO'S LEFT? Plenty of free agents remain unsigned, and that'll still be the case even in September as training camps get ready to open. It's still hard to see the Thunder keeping Paul, acquired in the Westbrook trade to Houston, so expect at least one more blockbuster trade before too long. Or can a player who is owed $121 million over the next three seasons be bought out? Stay tuned. Carter wants to come back for a 22nd NBA season, which would be a league record. If he gets into a game after Jan. 1, he'll also become the first NBA player to appear in four different decades. Jamal Crawford remains out there as well, and contenders should be calling him. LOADED WEST Philadelphia, Boston, Brooklyn, Indiana and Miami all likely got better in the East. Milwaukee kept most of its team that won an NBA-best 60 games. The East will be good. The West might be bloody. The Clippers, the Lakers, Houston, Golden State, Denver, Utah, Portland and San Antonio could end up as the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference. It's plausible; they're probably the most realistic eight picks right now. But at least four of those teams — most of them with superstar duos that are all the rage now — won't be in the second round of next season's playoffs. LONGEVITY AWARD For now, Golden State's Stephen Curry is the longest-tenured player under contract to one team. He's entering his 11th season with the Warriors. With Nowitzki (21 seasons with Dallas) retired, Mike Conley (12 seasons with Memphis) traded to Utah and Westbrook (11 seasons with Oklahoma City) traded to Houston, no current player has had a longer uninterrupted run with one team than Curry. But if Udonis Haslem re-signs with Miami, it'll be his 17th season with the Heat. THE NUMBERS Including the $196 million extension for Portland's Damian Lillard, a $170 million extension for Denver's Jamal Murray and another in-the-works $170 million extension for Philadelphia's Ben Simmons, NBA teams have committed to spend roughly $4 billion in new deals that were struck in the last three weeks alone. And that's with 100 more signings to come, at least. That $4 billion figure is twice what the total payroll was a decade ago for every team in the league, combined......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2019