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McIlroy hurts his back, finishes round at SA Open

 JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Rory McIlroy stayed close to the leaders at the SA Open on Friday despite hurting his back. br /> The second-ranked McIlroy (68) made five birdies on the first six holes of the back nine but bogeyed the final two to finish in a five-way tie for fifth after two rounds. br /> 'I'm actually surprised I'm standing here. I actually thought about pulling out before even teeing off today,' he said. 'I tweaked my back somehow and the first few shots today weren't very comfortable and it still isn't really comfortable. I can't really take a deep breath because I've done something to my upper back.' br /> McIlroy said he was going to get treatment in an effort to stay in the tournament. br /> Graeme Storm jumped into a two-stroke lead at the top of the leaderboard after shooting a course record 9-under 63 at the Glendower Golf Club. br /> Storm had nine birdies and leads Peter Uihlein (64), overnight leader Trevor Fisher Jr. (68), and Jbe Kruger (67) by two. br /> 'I tip Rory to win this week because he hits it miles and he hits it straight,' said Storm, who leads at 12-under 132 overall. 'If I keep on his tail, I'll be happy.' br /> Storm finished one shy of his career best 62. br /> 'I could have birdied a couple more of the par fives, I only birdied one of them today,' he said. 'So to shoot 63 and only having birdied one of the par fives around here, I've played pretty well.' br /> Play was suspended at about 5 p.m. local time because of the threat of lightning, forcing 40 players — including Europe Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke — to complete their second rounds on Saturday. br /> McIlroy, a stroke off the lead overnight, bogeyed the 17th when his putt for par rolled just left of the hole. He ended up in the bunker on the final hole and over-hit his escape shot. It left him with a long but straight putt for par and his attempt fell just short. br /> 'Disappointed to finish the way I did. I thought I hit a good shot on 17, it just pitched a bit too far,' McIlroy said. 'Then on 18 I was probably just rushing a bit to get in before the weather. The start and the finish wasn't great but everything in between was pretty good and I'm still in contention.' br /> McIlroy is playing this week as a favor to Ernie Els, the South African great and tournament host. br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Tottenham beats Chelsea 2-0 to end 13-match EPL winning run

br /> ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — Dele Alli underlined his growing reputation by single-handedly ending Chelsea's 13-match winning run Wednesday, scoring two headed goals to give Tottenham a 2-0 victory over the Premier League leaders. The defense has been the bedrock of Chelsea's three-month hot streak but Alli was gifted space to score carbon copy goals in each half at White Hart Lane after meeting crosses from Christian Eriksen. By taking his tally to seven goals in four games, the 20-year-old Alli inflicted Chelsea's first loss since its last trip to north London at Arsenal in September and prevented the Blues from earning a league record 14th successive win in a single season. 'This league is very tough,' Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said. 'Now it's important to restart. After 13 wins in a row it's difficult to accept defeat.' Chelsea still leads Liverpool by five points but Tottenham is now only seven points behind in third after a fifth successive victory. 'It's a big statement for us but we are happy to stay under the radar,' said Alli, whose team's hopes of a first title since 1961 were ended by Chelsea last season. Conte established the winning run that sent Chelsea to the summit after switching to a three-man defense to stem the tide of goals in a 3-0 first half collapse at Arsenal. But the defense is now leaking goals, conceding four in the last two matches after only letting in two in the previous 12 fixtures. Tottenham matched Chelsea's formation and restricted Conte's side to few chances, while proving more cohesive and solid at the back to frustrate the visitors' forward line. 'I didn't get on the ball as much as I would have liked to,' Alli said. The midfielder didn't need to. Alli was described on the eve of the game by manager Mauricio Pochettino as the 'most important player to emerge in English football in recent years.' Signed from third-tier club MK Dons two years ago for 5 million pounds (then $8 million), Alli lived up to his manager's exalted praise with his mastery of the attacking spaces. While Chelsea was looking more likely to score on the counterattack in the first half, Tottenham used a break to devastating effect on the stroke of halftime with Alli making the breakthrough. Kyle Walker teed up Eriksen and as the cross was floated into the penalty area, Alli was left unmarked between Victor Moses and Cesar Azpilicueta to coolly nod past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. It was an assertive start to the second half by Chelsea, but Tottenham preserved its lead. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris blocked a low shot from Diego Costa, Eden Hazard's low header was off target and Moses' penalty appeals were dismissed when he was clipped by Mousa Dembele. Spurs then punished Chelsea's porous defending again in the 54th minute with a replica of the opener. Walker did the running down the right flank before laying the ball off for Eriksen. The Danish international picked out Alli between Moses and Azpilicueta, and the midfielder found the target with this header. 'We were short of the levels we set ourselves, for whatever reason that may be, a few misplaced passes and not moving the ball as quick as we have been,' Chelsea defender Gary Cahill said. 'They are a top quality opposition and we got punished for being short.' Chelsea's plight in the derby was summed up in the first half by the team's top scorer, Costa, engaging in an on-pitch row with Pedro Rodriguez for several minutes. It followed Pedro's failure to run into space in front of goal to meet a pass from Costa when the score was still 0-0. 'It is normal disappointment,' Conte said. 'It was a good chance for us and we wasted it.' ___ Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Lydia Ko shots 10-under 62, leads LPGA Tour finale

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Lydia Ko shot a tournament-record 10-under 62 on Friday to take a three-stroke lead in the CME Group Tour Championship, putting the top-ranked New Zealander in position to win the player of the year award with a victory Sunday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2016

Mirim Lee leads Women's British Open, following 62 with 71

WOBURN, England (AP) — Mirim Lee followed her opening 10-under 62 with a 71 on Friday in the Women's British Open, leaving her a stroke ahead entering the weekend at tree-lined Woburn Golf Club. A day after matching the tournament record and fal.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2016

Nadal holds off Zverev to reach 4th round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal held back time, for one match at least, when he rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2 win over German teenager Alexander Zverev to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. The 14-time major winner is on a comeback after an extended injury layoff, yet he finished stronger in the 4-hour, 6-minute match on Rod Laver Arena as Zverev tightened up with cramping and nerves. 'I enjoyed a lot this great battle. I was losing the last couple of times in the fifth set and I said to myself, 'today's the day',' said ninth-seeded Nadal, who had lost eight of the previous nine times he'd trailed 2-1 in a best-of-five set match. His 30-year-old legs, conditioned by 236 Grand Slam matches, carried him all the way. 'Well, fighting — and running a lot,' Nadal said, when asked to explain the difference. 'I think you know, everybody knows how good Alexander is — he's the future of our sport and the present, too.' Serena Williams has done it more easily, reaching the fourth round without dropping a set to stay on course in her bid for a record 23rd Grand slam title. Williams beat fellow American Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 and didn't face a break point until she was serving for the match. Dropping serve in that game was her only lapse in a match that then extended just beyond the hour — to 63 minutes to be precise. The six-time Australian Open champion next faces No. 16 Barbora Strycova. 'I don't have anything to prove in this tournament here. Just doing the best I can,' Williams said. 'Obviously I'm here for one reason.' Milos Raonic is here pursuing his first major title, aiming to improve on his runs to the semifinals in Australia and the final at Wimbledon last year. He reached the fourth round with a 6-2, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 win over No. 25 Gilles Simon and will next play No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat David Ferrer 7-5, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-4. Nadal, who had two months off with an injured left wrist at the end of 2016, will get another veteran next after U.S. Open semifinalist Gael Monfils beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-4. In another gripping five-setter, but on an outside court, wild-card entry Denis Istomin followed his upset win over defending champion Novak Djokovic with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Pablo Carreno Busta. No. 8 Dominic Thiem beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a fourth-round match against No. 11 David Goffin, who ended Ivo Karlovic's run 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Zverev's creative shot-making gave the 19-year-old German a confident start. He had won his previous three matches against top-10 players, and has been widely touted as a future Grand Slam champion. But Nadal, the champion here in 2009, didn't let him get too far in front. In an exchange of breaks in the fifth set, Nadal broke to open, then dropped his own serve, before breaking Zverev again. Nadal finished with 43 winners and 34 unforced errors, while Zverev — hitting harder and trying more to find the lines — had 58 winners and 74 unforced errors. In early women's matches, Ekaterina Makarova led by a set and 4-0 but had a mid-match fade, needing three sets and almost three hours to finally beat WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3. 'An amazing fight,' Makarova said of her first win over sixth-seeded Cibulkova, the 2014 finalist at Melbourne Park. 'I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set. But I'm still here.' She'll now take on last year's semifinalist Johanna Konta, who beat former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1, in a rematch of their fourth-round encounter here last year. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni continued her unlikely run with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari, and so did American qualifier Jennifer Brady. Before this week, the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni hadn't won a match at Melbourne Park since her debut here in 1998. The 19-year gap in between match wins at a Grand Slam tournament broke the record set by Kimiko Date-Krumm. The 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist next plays No. 116-ranked Brady, who had never played in the main draw of a major before she qualified for this week. The 21-year-old Brady had a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina on Show Court 2. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Serena Williams reaches 4th round without dropping a set

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams is still on track in her bid to win a record 23rd Grand Slam title. The six-time Australian Open winner beat fellow American Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 in the third round on Saturday, when she didn't face a break point until she was serving for the match. Dropping serve in that game was her only lapse in a match that then extended just beyond the hour — to 63 minutes to be precise. That made it one minute and one game longer than her only other match against Gibbs. Williams started the tournament with difficult assignments in the first two rounds, but also got through those — against Belinda Bencic, with a career-high ranking of 7, and Lucie Safarova, a French Open finalist in 2015 — without dropping a set. She has set the tone for the tournament. Williams will next play No. 16 Barbora Strycova, who beat No. 21 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 7-5. Ekaterina Makarova led by a set and 4-0 but needed three sets and almost three hours to finally beat WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3. 'An amazing fight,' Makarova said of her first win over sixth-seeded Cibulkova, the 2014 finalist at Melbourne Park. 'I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set. But I'm still here. I love this Grand Slam.' In a momentum-swing match featuring some long streaks of games and 11 service breaks, Makarova got the decisive break in the eighth game of the deciding set and closed it next. Makarova will play either 2016 semifinalist Johanna Konta, who beat her in the fourth round here last year, or former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni continued her unlikely run with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari, and so did American qualifier Jennifer Brady. Before this week, the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni hadn't won a match at Melbourne Park since her debut at the Australian Open in 1998. The 19-year gap in between match wins at a Grand Slam tournament broke the record set by Kimiko Date-Krumm, who went 17 years between match wins at Wimbledon. Lucic-Baroni reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 1999 as a 17-year-old and captured the Australian Open doubles title a year before that with Martina Hingis. She next plays Brady, ranked No. 116, who had never played in the main draw of a major before she qualified for this week. The 21-year-old American had a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina on Show Court 2, and is making the most of the occasion. By saving five match points before rallying to beat Heather Watson in the second round, Brady effectively doubled her number of career wins. On the men's side, No. 8 Dominic Thiem beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a fourth-round match against No. 11 David Goffin, who ended Ivo Karlovic's run 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. The 37-year-old Karlovic's win in the first round set an endurance record — the 84 games in the win over Horacio Zeballos, which ended 22-20 in the fifth, was an Open-era mark for the tournament. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Federer joins Murray in 4th round at Australian Open

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Bravo, Clemente shine as Perpetual survives JRU

strong>Games Monday: /strong> (The Arena, San Juan) 8:00 p.m. --- EAC vs Letran (jrs) 9:30 a.m. --- EAC vs. Letran (m) 11:00 a.m. --- EAC vs. Letran (w) 12:30 p.m. --- SSC-R vs. LPU (w) 2:00 p.m. --- SSC-R vs. LPU (m) 3:30 p.m. --- SSc-R vs LPU (jrs)   University of Perpetual Help kept its Final Four bid alive with a 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 25-15, win over Jose Rizal University Friday in the 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball competition at The Arena in San Juan. Towering middles Coleen Bravo and Lourdes Clemente combined for 33 of the Lady Altas’ 58 kills. Bravo registered her career-high 21 points coming off 18 attacks, two kill blocks and an ace for Perpetual while Clemente had 20 markers. Jamela Suyat added 15 points for the Lady Altas, who survived the upset-conscious Lady Bombers despite committing 40 errors.      But it was Perpetual Help playmaker Necelle Mae Gual that hogged the spotlight in the victory with her eye-popping 73 excellent sets.     The Lady Altas improved their record to 5-3 at fifth to sixth spot tied with idle Lyceum of the Philippines Lady Pirates behind no. 4 San Beda College (6-3), which secured at least a playoff for a semifinals spot. With their backs against the wall, the Las Pinas-based squad survived another win or go home match to remain in contention for the last two semifinals berths. Perpetual will close its elimination round campaign on Wednesday in a do-or-die match with the streaking Arellano University Lady Chiefs (7-1). The unbeaten San Sebastian College (7-0) and Lady Chiefs (7-1) secured the first two Final Four spots while defending champion College of St. Benilde (6-2) and San Beda College are both assured of at least a playoff for a semis seat.   The Lady Bombers closed their season with a 3-6 slate. Shola Alvarez scored 18 points while Rosalie Pepito got 11 for JRU.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Towns leads Timberwolves past injury-depleted Clippers

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Lionesses eye Final Four spot playoff

strong>Games Friday: /strong> (The Arena, San Juan) 9:00 a.m. --- San Beda vs. Mapua (m) 10:30 a.m. --- San Beda vs. Mapua(w) 12:00 noon --- Perpetual vs JRU (w) 1:30 p.m. --- Perpetual vs JRU (m)   San Beda College hunts to secure a playoff for a semifinals berth Friday when the Lionesses take on the listless Mapua Lady Cardinals to close their elimination round campaign in the 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball competition at The Arena in San Juan. Totting a 5-3 win-loss record at fourth to fifth spot tied with idle Lyceum of the Philippines University, San Beda puts its season on the line at the 10:30 a.m. clash with the Cardinals, who remain winless in eight games. A win by the Lionesses will not only give the Mendiola-based squad a playoff for a semifinals slot in case of a tie at 6-3 card but will also put San Beda in a good position to advance in the next round with Perpetual Help and LPU facing tough opponents in their remaining assignments. If San Beda hurdles Mapua and the Lady Altas and Lady Pirates absorbing their fourth loss, the Lionesses will get the last semis spot.   In case the Lionesses lose, SBC will have to wish that LPU drops its last game against San Sebastian College and for Perpetual to at least lose one of its last two remaining games for tie at 5-4 that will also force sa playoff for the last semis seat. Unbeaten SSC-R  (7-1) and Season 90 champion Arellano University secured the first two Final Four berths while defending champion College of St. Benilde (6-2) is assured of at least a semis seat playoff. San Beda is coming off a painful straight sets loss at the hands of the Lady Blazers, 25-12, 17-25, 23-25, 19-25, last week and is looking for a bounce back against the Lady Cardinals, who were swept by Emilio Aguinaldo College 18-25, 13-25, 24-26, last Friday. Meanwhile, the Lady Altas fight for survival when they face upset-conscious Jose Rizal University at 12:00 noon. With a 4-3 card, Perpetual can still make it to the Final Four if the Las Pinas-based squad completes a sweep of its last two games starting with the Lady Bombers. The Lady Altas will end the elims on January 25 against Arellano University. Perpetual survived its first test last week with a sweep of LPU, 25-21, 29-27, 25-23. JRU is out of contention with a 3-5 slate but is looking to play the spoiler’s role. In men’s play, San Beda (6-2) attempts to formally advance in the semis to join CSB (7-1) in a clash against Mapua (5-3) at 9:00 a.m. while defending champion Perpetual (6-1) also seeks a Final Four berth in a faceoff with JRU (1-7) at 1:30 p.m.       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Andy's ankle, Federer's biggest test highlight Friday action

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — One big question ahead of the start of the third round Friday at the Australian Open is the state of Andy Murray's injured right ankle. And nearly as important, how Roger Federer will perform in his first major test — against Tomas Berdych — since returning from a six-month injury layoff. The top-seeded Murray tumbled to the court at Rod Laver Arena, clutching his ankle and cringing in pain during the third set of his second-round match against No. 156-ranked Andrey Rublev on Wednesday. 'It just a little bit stiff just now,' he said after the match. 'I don't think I've done too much damage.' Murray held a practice session on Court 17 on Thursday afternoon and appeared to be moving freely. He is scheduled to play No. 31-seeded Sam Querrey in a Hisense Arena afternoon match. Something that may have made Murray's ankle feel better later in the day was news that Novak Djokovic was upset in the second round by Denis Istomin. On opposite sides of the draw, they couldn't have met until the final, but Murray has lost five finals at Melbourne Park — four of them to Djokovic. Here is a look at some of the other featured matches Friday: ___ FEDERER'S BIG TEST: Undoubtedly No. 10 Tomas Berdych will be 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer's biggest challenge since returning from his left knee layoff. Federer, a four-time Australian champion, was tested from time to time in wins over qualifiers in his opening two matches. The good news is that he holds a 16-6 career edge over Berdych, including all three times they've met previously at Melbourne Park. Federer is 5-0 in their most recent meetings. 'I did feel like I actually played him quite well in recent times, thanks for reminding me,' Federer said. 'I just got to play on my terms and really be focused on my own service games to make sure I don't have any lapses there. I know I've got to lift my game a little bit.' The pair will play the final night match on Rod Laver Arena. ___ BEATING THE TWINS?: Top-ranked Angelique Kerber beat Karolina Pliskova in the U.S. Open final, and will have a chance to beat the Czech player's twin sister, Kristyna, in the next major when the pair meet in an afternoon match at Rod Laver Arena. Kerber has never played the 58th-ranked Kristyna. Asked if it was 'weird' to play twins, Kerber seemed perplexed by the question. 'I don't know if it's weird. I mean, the one is right and the other one is left-handed.' For the record, Kerber and Kristyna are both left handed. ___ And briefly: No. 4 Stan Wawrinka vs. No. 29 Viktor Troicki: U.S. Open champion and 2014 Australian winner Wawrinka beat Troicki in the second round at the Brisbane International two weeks ago, his seventh consecutive win over the Serbian player. Advantage Stan. _ No. 7 Garbine Muguruza vs. No. 32 Anastasija Sevastova: 2016 French Open champion Muguruza lost to Sevastova in the second round at the U.S. Open last year in straight sets, but returned the favor at Tokyo a few weeks later. _ No. 13 Venus Williams vs. Duan Yingying: Duan beat former top 20 player Vavara Lepchenko in the second round. She and Williams have never played, and both players said they know little about the other. Duan said she had never even seen Williams play. 'I don't really watch that much tennis, so I think my coach will do the job to try to tell me what I need to do on the court,' Duan said through a translator. _ No. 5 Kei Nishikori vs. Lukas Lacko: Nishikori is looking to advance to the fourth round for the sixth year in a row. He's made it to the quarterfinals the past two years. Lacko, a qualifier, has played nine sets in two rounds, including a five-setter in his first-round win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas. _ Eugenie Bouchard vs. CoCo Vandeweghe: After a poor second half of 2015 and most of 2016, Bouchard is playing with more confidence. The 22-year-old Canadian, who made the semifinals here and the French Open in 2014 before reaching the final at Wimbledon, beat Vandeweghe the only time they've met at Indian Wells in 2015. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

No practice, no problem: Stenson leads in Abu Dhabi

STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer br /> ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Henrik Stenson chipped in from 30 yards and had seven more birdies Thursday to open the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with an 8-under 64 in his first competitive round of 2017. Showing no rustiness from an offseason of little practice, the fourth-ranked Stenson led by two strokes midway through the first round. Three-time winner Martin Kaymer, Oliver Fisher, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Marc Warren were next. Stenson will do well to top 2016 — he won the British Open for his first major title and finished the season as Europe's No. 1 — and he prepared for the new year by mostly ditching his clubs, preferring to spend more time on the ski slopes with his family in Utah. Even his build-up to the Abu Dhabi event wasn't ideal, with two overnight flights in three days from his home in Orlando interrupted by his attendance at an awards ceremony in Stockholm where he beat Zlatan Ibrahimovic, among others, to win Male Sports Athlete of the Year at the Swedish Sports Awards. All Stenson needed was a few buckets of balls and some good putting sessions to get him back on track. Playing in an early-morning three-ball with two more current major champions in Dustin Johnson and Danny Willett, Stenson birdied four of his first five holes after starting at No. 10, completing the hot streak with the chip-in after leaving his approach five yards short of the green. He curled in a birdie putt from 15 feet on No. 17 and tapped in at the par-5 18th to pick up another shot before making birdie on two of his last three holes to end a round in which he was never in trouble. 'Very limited preparation,' said the 40-year-old Stenson, before adding with a smile: 'So that might be the way forward.' 'I was quite amazed how good the game felt coming into today. But again, I feel like I scored better than I played.' It was Stenson's second best round at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, only bettered by his course-record 62 in 2006 when he was runner-up to Chris DiMarco. It is a long course that suits Stenson's eye, and the same could be said of Kaymer. The two-time major winner from Germany mixed eight birdies — three coming on his final three holes — with two bogeys for his 66, his latest low score at an event where he usually excels. He won in 2008, '10 and '11, and should have won in 2015, only to throw away a 10-shot lead with 13 holes to play on the final day. 'The golf course, for me, doesn't feel like I need to do a lot of special things in order to play well because I usually putt well on those greens,' Kaymer said. 'Doesn't feel like a hard-working day.' Johnson, at No. 3 the highest-ranked player in a strong field after Rory McIlroy's withdrawal on Monday, shot 72 in his first appearance in Abu Dhabi. Defending champion Rickie Fowler also was at even par. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

PSA to honor Diaz as 2016 Athlete of the Year

Behind her powerful arms and legs, a young petite lady gave Philippine sports a lift it badly needed in the year just passed. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz gave this country of 100 million people something to cheer about at the break of dawn one rainy day in August after copping an Olympic medal that was long overdue during the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games. A combination of hard work, effort, heart, and sheer luck paved the way for the 25-year-old pride of Zamboanga City to run away with the silver in the women’s 53-kg weight division behind eventual winner Hsu Shu-Ching of Chinese Taipei. Diaz totaled a combined 200 kgs. in both the snatch and clean and jerk to the 212 of the Taiwanese bet. An Airwoman First Class at the Philippine Air Force, Diaz was only hoping for a bronze medal finish, but ended up a surprise runner up when fancied Li Yaiun of China – who earlier set an Olympic record in the snatch - failed to complete her final two attempts in the clean and jerk. “Sabi ko thank you Lord. Bronze lang ang hinihingi ko, pero silver ang ibinigay mo,” said Diaz moments after her triumph as the first-ever Filipina to win an Olympic medal. The Cinderella finish by Diaz was the first for the country in the last 20 years since boxer Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco punched his way to a similar silver medal feat during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Hidilyn also became the first Filipino weightlifter to win an Olympic medal for the country and the only one to bag a silver outside of boxers Velasco and the late Anthony Villanueva (1964 Tokyo Games). In the light of her outstanding feats, the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) was one and unanimous in naming Diaz its 2016 Athlete of the Year during its traditional Awards Night presented by MILO and San Miguel on Feb. 13 at the LE PAVILION in Pasay City. Diaz is the first lady to be feted by the country’s oldest media organization with its highest individual honor after boxer Josie Gabuco and the Team Manila women’s softball team in 2012. “This one is a no-brainer. Hidilyn Diaz is truly the hands-down choice as the 2016 PSA Athlete of the Year,” said PSA president Riera Mallari, sports editor of The Standard. Last year, pro boxers Nonito Donaire Jr. and Donnie Nietes, along with young golfer Miguel Tabuena were the recipient of the coveted award annually handed out by the PSA, comprised by editors and sportswriters from the different broadsheets, tabloids, and online portals in the country. Diaz, who came home empty handed during both the 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London) Olympics, respectively, leads a long list of personalities and entities to be recognized during the formal rite co-presented by CIGNAL/HYPHER TV. In the coming days and weeks, recipients of the President’s Award, Lifetime Achievement honor, Executive of the Year, National Sports Association of the Year, Mr. Basketball, Mr. Golf, Mr. Football, and Ms. Volleyball will also be named as part of the two-hour program backed by Smart, Foton, Mighty Sports, Philippine Basketball Association, ACCEL, Gold Toe, SM Prime Holdings Inc., Globalport, Rain or Shine, ICTSI, and MVPSF. There will also be major awardees in different sports and citations to various personalities and entities in the annual rite backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and Federal Land. Not to be missed out is the PSA’s recognition to young promising achievers such as the Tony Siddayao Awards and the Milo Male and Female Junior Athletes of the Year, as well as posthumous awards to those dearly departed friends of the local sportswriting community.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Murray, Federer advance to 3rd round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — When Andy Murray tumbled to the court, clutching his right ankle, the top of the men's draw at the Australian Open momentarily took on a new complexion. Top-ranked Murray, a five-time runner-up at Melbourne Park, was leading his second-round match comfortably Wednesday night when his right shoe caught on the surface in the third game of the third set, and he rolled awkwardly on the ground. He continued and won that game, talking to himself, saying 'It's not good news.' He saw a trainer during the next change of ends, but decided he didn't need any extra treatment on his already heavily strapped foot. Murray went on to win 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 against No. 156-ranked Andrey Rublev, later saying 'It's a little bit sore — not too serious.' ''I was moving OK toward the end, so that's positive,' he said. It was Murray's 178th win in a Grand Slam match, joining Stefan Edberg at equal eighth on the list of match winners in the Open era. The 19-year-old Rublev's first-round win here was his first in a major tournament. Murray next faces No. 31 Sam Querrey, who had 7-6 (5), 6-0, 6-1 win over 17-year-old wild card Alex De Minaur. Roger Federer's progress was more straight forward, beating 20-year-old qualifier Noah Rubin 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to maintain 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 the 17-time Grand Slam winner's comeback from a six-month injury layoff will increase exponentially. Next up, Federer 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. They're all in the same quarter of the draw as Murray. U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka advanced 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 over Steve Johnson and will next play No. 29 Viktor Troicki in the lower quarter of the top half of the draw. 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. Wins by No. 23 Jack Sock and Querrey ended the day on a more positive note for the American men. No. 7 Marin Cilic and No. 14 Nick Kyrgios were beaten in night matches. Cilic lost in four sets to Daniel Evans, and No. 89-ranked Andreas Seppi rallied from two sets down and saved a match point to beat Kyrgios 1-6, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 in a seesawing match that featured a high-risk, between-the-legs shot from the enigmatic Australian. 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. 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. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

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

Williams, Safarova in French Open final rematch at Melbourne

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — On paper, Serena Williams' second-round match on Thursday against Lucie Safarova should be no contest. The six-time Australian Open champion in search of her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title has beaten the Czech player all nine times they've met, including the 2015 French Open final. But Safarova, ranked 61st, saved nine match points in the second set of her first-round match here against Yanina Wickmayer before advancing 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1. So Williams may need to be patient, or ruthless, in the match which opens night play at Rod Laver Arena. After her win Tuesday, Safarova wasn't aware of the extent of her feat. 'I stopped counting after a few (match points), I was like, just another one,' she said. 'But I was like, 'I'm just going to go for it and if she closes the match, well OK, but I'm just going to play my game.' It was exciting.' Safarova is expecting a fast start from Williams. 'Serena's always a tough opponent,' Safarova said. 'She hasn't played many matches so that could be maybe a little bit to my advantage, but she always comes out strong. I have nothing to lose so I'll be ready.' ___ Here is a look at some other matches in the bottom half of the draw on Thursday, the fourth day of the Australian Open: CONCERN FROM RAONIC: Milos Raonic takes on Gilles Muller, who is coming off his first career tournament victory at the Sydney International last week. Muller broke down at the trophy presentations in Sydney, relieved that he finally achieved a win. Raonic lost to Muller in Valencia, Spain in 2012, although that was before Raonic developed into the third-ranked player in the world. Raonic also had to retire from a second-round match at Wimbledon in 2011 while leading 3-2 in the first set due to a right hip injury. 'I have struggled with him,' Raonic said. 'He had a great, phenomenal week last week. For him it was something very special, and obviously it was pretty special to see, as well, that final and his reaction to it.' They play an afternoon match on Margaret Court Arena. ___ MUTUAL RESPECT: Johanna Konta beat Naomi Osaka in straight sets in their only previous meeting in the semifinals of qualifying at the U.S. Open in 2015. The pair, who meet again Thursday — the opening match of the day at Rod Laver — made positive impressions on each other during that match in New York. 'I remember playing her, and she had a real good serve and a really good return,' Osaka said of last year's semifinalist. 'I think it's really awesome like how she rose so high and quickly. She's a really good player.' Konta returned the favor: 'She's improved a lot. I know she plays a big game. She has big shots. I'm definitely prepared to go in for a battle.' ___ DOMINATING DJOKOVIC: Six-time champion Novak Djokovic has beaten his second-round opponent, Dennis Istoman, all five times they have met. Two of those matches have come at the Australian Open, although it wasn't until the third round. Istoman has won only one set in those five career matches. Among other matches Thursday, 2009 champion Rafael Nadal plays 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis and No. 3-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska takes on Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

6-time champs Djokovic, Williams post Australian Open wins

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The record will show that six-time Australian Open champions Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic each had straight-set wins. It may seem straight-forward, but it was not routine. Newly-engaged Williams, aiming for an Open-era record 23rd major title, and Djokovic, bidding to become the first man to win seven Australian titles, confronted former top-10 players in the first round at Melbourne Park. And so there was no chance for the No. 2-ranked players, in the recently unaccustomed position at the foot of the draw, to feel their way into the season's first major. Djokovic faced Fernando Verdasco, who beat Rafael Nadal in the first round last year and who had five match points in their last head-to-head encounter — only 10 days earlier. Djokovic held off the Spanish lefthander in a 71-minute, momentum-swinging second set before winning 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2 on Tuesday. The first and third sets were great, he said, but the second was 'a gamble.' 'I'm very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form,' Djokovic said. 'He's a quality player. He's a big match, big-time player.' The 33-year-old Verdasco peaked at No. 7 in the rankings in 2009, not long after he pushed eventual champion Nadal in five sets in one of the best and latest-finishing semifinals ever at the Australian Open. 'From one perspective it was good that I got to have the very tough first-round match, because it made me prepare better and kind of approach the tournament with the right intensity, right from the first point,' Djokovic said. Williams, on the comeback after a stint on the sidelines following a U.S. Open semifinal loss, took a 5-0 lead in the second set against Belinda Bencic. But Bencic has been ranked in the top 10, and was seeded 12th in Melbourne last year. She applied pressure on Williams, who made mistakes on key points — including a double-fault to give Bencic a break point, and another on her first match point — before recovering to win 6-4, 6-3. Williams became engaged to Alexis Ohanian during the holiday break, and the Reddit co-founder was in the crowd at Rod Laver Arena. She has been asked repeatedly about her wedding plans since arriving in Australia, but only gave a time frame for that discussion after her opening match. 'February I'll start looking at the bigger picture of my life,' she said. 'Right now, I'm just so focused that this is kind of all I can think about.' Williams made a big statement, though, by walking into her news conference wearing a shirt with the word 'Equality' emblazoned across the front. It was still before midnight Monday in the United States, where the holiday in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was nearly ending. 'It's important to spread the message,' she said. Asked if she was concerned about the future of equality in the United States, Williams declined to comment apart from saying it was 'a concern for just everyone in general.' After improving her record in the first round of majors to 65-1, Williams will play Lucie Safarova, who saved nine match points before beating Yanina Wickmayer 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1. Nadal, also returning from a couple of months on the sidelines following the U.S. Open with an injured left wrist, has already improved on 2016. 'I'm happy to do an interview with you — last year, I didn't have the chance!' Nadal said in his on-court interview after a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Florian Mayer. As usual at Melbourne Park, the heat was a factor. The thermostat reached almost 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) on a day when Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic beat Dustin Brown and No. 11 David Goffin beat 19-year-old qualifier Reilly Opelka 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Ivo Karlovic was thankful that it was cooler at night, when the 37-year-old Croat fired 75 aces and held off Horacio Zeballos 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in a match that set a record for most number of games (84) at the Australian Open in the tiebreak era. No. 6 Gael Monfils, No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 18 Richard Gasquet were among the other seeded players to advance. Heather Watson beat No. 18 Sam Stosur, extending the 2011 U.S. Open champion's drought on home soil. U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, 2016 Australian Open semifinalist Johanna Konta, No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova, former top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, No. 14 Elena Vesnina, No. 21 Caroline Garcia and No. 28 Alize Cornet all advanced before third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska finished off her 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 win over Tsvetana Pironkova just before midnight. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Karlovic smacks 75 aces, sets long match mark at Aussie Open

 JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — As Ivo Karlovic and Horacio Zeballos struggled deep into the fifth set at the Australian Open on Tuesday night, fans rushed to distant Court 19 to watch as a record unfolded. The stands completely packed, some spectators stood on tables and chairs and even balanced on the fence of a neighboring court to try to get a view. Others lay on their stomachs and peeked beneath the black windscreen lining the fence, using their phones to record it. br /> After five hours, 15 minutes, Zeballos finally cracked in the 84th game. Chasing down a lob on Karlovic's second match point, he mis-hit a forehand and it floated long, giving Karlovic an epic, come-from-behind victory, 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20. br /> The 37-year-old Karlovic, one of the oldest players on tour, was elated to pull out the victory — if a little sore. br /> 'Arm is good,' he said, noting the frequency of ace. 'But my knee, my back, little bit not so good.' br /> The final set alone took two hours, 37 minutes. And though most points were short, the match didn't lack for some quality — the players combined for 237 winners to 94 unforced errors. br /> 'This is what I will, after my career, remember,' Karlovic said. 'If it was easy match or I lost easy, I wouldn't remember. But this one, definitely, I will remember forever.' br /> The scoreline didn't come close to the famous marathon match between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, which Isner finally won 70-68 in the fifth set after more than 11 hours. br /> 'Actually, I was thinking about that other match, Isner against Mahut,' Karlovic joked afterward. 'I was hoping little bit it could go this long so I could also have record.' br /> The match also fell short of the 5-hour, 53-minute Australian Open final played by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in 2012, the longest in terms of time at the tournament. br /> But Karlovic and Zeballos did set a couple records. br /> The total of 84 games broke the previous Australian Open mark of 83 set by Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui in 2003, a match Roddick won 21-19 in the fifth. Karlovic's 75 aces also smashed the previous record of 51 for a single match, set by Joachim Johansson against Andre Agassi in 2005. br /> The 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Karlovic has a massive serve that opponents often stand and watch as it whizzes by. Zeballos was particularly powerless against the towering Croat's serve: He only had four break points in the match and converted just one. br /> Still, Zeballos hung tough as the fifth set wore on, buoyed by the raucous Argentine fans, who sang and waved their blue and white flags at every opportunity. br /> After Zeballos' last shot floated long, Karlovic thrust his arms in the air and his supporters leapt to their feet, chanting 'Ivo, Ivo!' br /> Then, he started to think about recovery ahead of his next match against Australian wild-card entry Andrew Whittington. br /> 'I will have two days now,' he said. 'I'm just going to do the ice bath, try to hit good, go to sleep early. Hopefully that will be enough.' br />   .....»»

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