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Sagna charged for questioning integrity of EPL referee

LONDON (AP) — Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna has been charged by the English Football Association for questioning the impartiality of a referee in a Premier League game. The France international posted a message on Instagram after City beat Burnley 2-1 on Jan. 2, saying: '10 against 12... but still fighting and winning as a team.' City played more than half of the match with 10 men following Fernandinho's sending-off. The FA said Tuesday that Sagna has been charged with misconduct because his comment 'questioned the integrity of the match official and/or alleged and/or implied bias on the part of the match official, and/or brought the game into disrepute.' Sagna has until Friday to respond to the charge. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 10th, 2017Related News

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

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

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 9th, 2017Related News

Former No. 1 Wozniacki beats Olympic champion Puig in Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — Former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki stepped up her preparations for the Australian Open with 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win over Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig at the Sydney International on Monday. Wozniacki, who finished back-to-back years at No. 1 in the rankings in 2010 and '11, has never won a major and is determined to make up for a first-round exit at the Australian Open last year. Puig fought back to win the second set and force a decider but the Rio champion eventually succumbed after 2 hours and 10 minutes. Third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, last year's WTA Finals champion and a finalist at the Australian Open in 2014, opened in Sydney with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Laura Siegemund, advancing along with No. 6-seeded Johanna Konta and No. 9 Roberta Vinci. Americans Christina McHale and CoCo Vandeweghe had wins over seeded players, with McHale beating No. 4 Kateryna Bondarenko 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Vandeweghe leading 6-2, 4-0 when No. 8 Elena Vesnina retired from their match. Australian hope Sam Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, had another first-round defeat, losing 6-3, 6-1 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 63 minutes. On the men's side, fifth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4, Matthew Barton beat Kyle Edmund 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) and Daniel Evans had a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Thiago Monteiro. At the Hobart International, Andrew Petkovic opened with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Nicole Gibbs and No. 11 Johanna Larsson beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1. Lucie Safarova also advanced, while former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone lost to Jana Jett and No. 7-seeded Kristina Mladenovic was beaten by Elise Mertens. At Auckland, New Zealand, seventh-seeded Steve Johnson overcame an early struggle in a match of contrasting styles to beat Stephane Robert of France 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round of the ASB Classic. Johnson struggled to bring his heavy serve to bear at the start of the match and quickly found himself a break down at 3-1 in the first set. He also took time to find his feet against Robert who troubled him with his softer groundstrokes, deft touches and his thread-the-needle passing shots. 'At the start of the year you don't have much momentum and you try to figure out your game again and how everything works,' Johnson said. 'He came out and played a great game. 'I was in a lot of games on his serve in the first so I just sort of hung around and then fortunately got a break in the second and held onto my serve.' The match pivoted on eighth game when Johnson was finally able to draw level on his sixth breakpoint chance. He then began to serve more confidently, taking the ninth game with his sixth ace of the match and breaking Robert again to end the set. Sixth-seeded Feliciano Lopez rebounded to beat No. 1,035-ranked local wild-card entry Michael Venus 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Also advancing were Jiri Vesely, who won his only ATP title to date in Auckland in 2015, and Robin Haase. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 9th, 2017Related News

Former No. 1 Wozniacki beats Olympic champion Puig in Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — Former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki continued her preparations for the Australian Open with 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win over Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig at the Sydney International on Monday. Wozniacki, who finished back-to-back years at No. 1 in the rankings in 2010 and '11, has never won a major and is determined to make up for a first-round exit at the Australian Open last year. Puig fought back to win the second set and force a decider but the Rio champion eventually succumbed after 2 hours and 10 minutes. Third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, last year's WTA Finals champion and a finalist at the Australian Open in 2014, opened in Sydney with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Laura Siegemund, advancing along with No. 6-seeded Johanna Konta and No. 9 Roberta Vinci. Americans Christina McHale and CoCo Vandeweghe had wins over seeded players, with McHale beating No. 4 Kateryna Bondarenko 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Vandeweghe leading 6-2, 4-0 when No. 8 Elena Vesnina retired from their match. Australian hope Sam Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, had another first-round defeat, losing 6-3, 6-1 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 63 minutes. On the men's side, Matthew Barton beat Kyle Edmund 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) and Daniel Evans had a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Thiago Monteiro. At the Hobart International, Andrew Petkovic opened with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Nicole Gibbs and No. 11 Johanna Larsson beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1. Lucie Safarova also advanced, while former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone lost to Jana Jett and No. 7-seeded Kristina Mladenovic was beaten by Elise Mertens. At Auckland, New Zealand, seventh-seeded Steve Johnson overcame an early struggle in a match of contrasting styles to beat Stephane Robert of France 6-4, 6-3 in the opening round of the ASB Classic. Johnson struggled to bring his heavy serve to bear at the start of the match and quickly found himself a break down at 3-1 in the first set. He also took time to find his feet against Robert who troubled him with his softer groundstrokes, deft touches and his thread-the-needle passing shots. 'At the start of the year you don't have much momentum and you try to figure out your game again and how everything works,' Johnson said. 'He came out and played a great game. 'I was in a lot of games on his serve in the first so I just sort of hung around and then fortunately got a break in the second and held onto my serve.' The match pivoted on eighth game when Johnson was finally able to draw level on his sixth breakpoint chance. He then began to serve more confidently, taking the ninth game with his sixth ace of the match and breaking Robert again to end the set. Jiri Vesely, who won his only ATP title to date in Auckland in 2015, advanced to the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Horacio Zeballos, while Robin Haase beat New Zealand qualifier Finn Tearney 6-4, 7-5. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 9th, 2017Related News

Steve Johnson beats Stephane Robert in ASB Classic 1st round

  SYDNEY (AP) — Seventh-seeded American Steve Johnson overcame an early struggle in a match of contrasting fortunes to beat Stephane Robert of France 6-4, 6-3 Monday in the opening round of the ASB Classic tennis tournament in Auckland. Johnson, ranked 33, struggled to bring his heavy serve to bear at the start of the match and quickly found himself a break down at 3-1 in the first set. He also took time to find his feet against Robert who troubled him with his softer groundstrokes, deft touches and his thread-the-needle passing shots. The contrast between the players was shown in the fact that while Johnson was bent on wielding his powerful forehand from the back of the court, Robert played more than 60 percent of points from inside the baseline. Johnson hit nine forehand winners to Robert's seven but Robert had 10 backhand winners to Johnson's four. 'At the start of the year you don't have much momentum and you try to figure out your game again and how everything works,' Johnson said. 'He came out and played a great game. 'I was in a lot of games on his serve in the first so I just sort of hung around and then fortunately got a break in the second and held onto my serve.' The match pivoted around the marathon eighth game of the first set when Johnson was finally able to draw level on his sixth break point chance. He then began to serve more confidently, taking the ninth game with his sixth ace of the match and breaking Robert again to end the set in 51 minutes. Johnson's serve was more influential in the second set — he gave up only one point in his first three service games and broke Robert in the sixth game to lead 4-2. But the Frenchman refused to give up, held for 5-3 and saved two points in the ninth game before Johnson closed out the set and match 6-3. Johnson sent down 11 aces to Robert's three and Robert also paid for his six double faults to Johnson's three. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 8th, 2017Related News

Klopp's decision to field youngest ever side backfires

br /> JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer   Juergen Klopp's decision to field Liverpool's youngest ever team backfired Sunday as the Premier League title contender was held 0-0 at home by fourth-tier Plymouth in the third round of the FA Cup. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino also made sweeping changes, and was made to sweat as his side left it late to beat second-tier Aston Villa 2-0. Chelsea had an easier time, sweeping aside third-tier Peterborough 4-1, with Spanish forward Pedro scoring twice. With games coming thick and fast during the festive season and a midweek trip to Southampton looming in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals, Klopp made 10 changes from the team that drew 2-2 with Sunderland on Monday. But instead of keeping players rested for other competitions, the Liverpool manager now faces an unwanted replay at Plymouth. 'It's my responsibility, the whole thing, the lineup and performance. We could have done better,' Klopp said. 'If you want to see it (the result) in a bad way then I am 100 percent responsible, I have no problem with that.' Liverpool is in second place in the Premier League and well positioned to challenge for the title. Plymouth is second, too, but in the far less glamorous League Two. Despite this it still seemed a risky move by Klopp to select a team with an average age of 21 years, 296 days. 'There is a long season still to go and we need to change,' Klopp said. 'If you make that many changes, it doesn't make it easier for the boys.' The 17-year-old Ben Woodburn — Liverpool's youngest-ever scorer — made his full debut alongside 19-year-olds Ovie Ejaria and Sheyi Ojo in a three-man attacking midfield supporting lone striker Divock Origi. Trent Alexander-Arnold made only his second Liverpool start. Attacking midfielder Adam Lallana, forward Roberto Firmino and England striker Daniel Sturridge were on the bench. Woodburn and Ojo went close early on as Liverpool dominated. But for all of its possession, Liverpool struggled to create further chances. 'We started well but then we lost patience too early,' Klopp said. Klopp brought on Sturridge shortly after the hour mark, and he went close almost immediately with a low shot past the right post. Sturridge then clipped another shot narrowly wide as Liverpool continued to push forward. But even with the introduction of Lallana and Firmino late on — and six minutes of injury time — the winner never came. There were no such frustrations at Stamford Bridge, with Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi and Brazil midfielder Willian getting the other goals. Defender Ben Davies put Tottenham ahead and South Korea forward Son Heung-min scored for Tottenham in the last 20 minutes, while Middlesbrough eased past second-tier Sheffield Wednesday 3-0. Also, 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon scored Fulham's winner in a 2-1 win at Cardiff — a match pitting teams from the second-tier Championship. Defending champion Manchester United crushed Championship side Reading 4-0 on Saturday, but Premier League Bournemouth, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke lost to lower-league opponents, while Arsenal needed a late winner against Preston to reach the fourth round. ___ CHELSEA 4, PETERBOROUGH 1 Striker Michy Batshuayi got a rare start and welcome goal for his club while Spanish forward Pedro made it three in three games. After Pedro put Chelsea ahead in the 18th minute, Batshuayi made it 2-0 shortly before halftime. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek expertly cushioned a cross from the right into Batshuayi's path, and he drilled in a low shot into the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the season. Since joining from French club Marseille for a reported fee of 33 million pounds (around $40 million), Batshuayi has struggled to get games and he had not scored since netting twice in the League Cup on Aug. 23. Pedro set up Willian's goal in the 53rd for 3-0 and — after John Terry was shown a straight red card for hauling back Lee Angol — forward Tom Nichols scored for the visitors. With 15 minutes left, Pedro's curling shot completed a comfortable win. ___ TOTTENHAM 2, ASTON VILLA 0 Defender Ben Davies' first goal for the club was a timely one after second-tier Aston Villa frustrated the home side. Mauricio Pochettino made nine changes from the Tottenham side that beat Chelsea 2-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday and fans at White Hart Lane had to wait until Davies headed home in the 71st minute. South Korea forward Son Heung-min turned in a cross from France midfielder Moussa Sissoko with 10 minutes left. ___ MIDDLESBROUGH 3, SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 0 Central midfielder Grant Leadbitter put the Premier League side ahead with a free kick in the 58th minute, and Spanish forward Alvaro Negredo showed his alertness to make it 2-0 shortly after. Negredo charged down goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith's attempted clearance, and the ball went off Negredo and into the net. Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon wrapped up the win against the Championship side in injury time. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 8th, 2017Related News

A guide to FIFA's options for expanding the 2026 World Cup

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is preparing to decide Tuesday on adding 16 more teams to the 2026 World Cup for a 48-team tournament. President Gianni Infantino's favored format would break with soccer tradition to play in groups of only three teams. Two would advance from each group to a Round of 32 knockout bracket. If agreed by the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council in Zurich, the 2026 hosting contest could formally open in weeks. A co-hosted North American bid is widely seen as the best option. Here are some things to know about overhauling the greatest competition in the world's most popular sport: ___ WHY EXPAND? A bigger World Cup was an Infantino campaign promise before his election last February, when his plan was 40 teams. It might have been key. Infantino's momentum for victory in a second-round poll was a three-vote lead over Sheik Salman of Bahrain in the first. Sheik Salman had promised only to review if more World Cup teams were wanted. Infantino also pledged to give more of FIFA's money to member federations — all 211 are now entitled to $5 million from each World Cup — and send more to continental and regional soccer bodies. So, more teams also had to mean more games, earning more revenue from broadcasters and sponsors. The '16x3' format arguably works better with only group winners advancing. But that would leave total matches unchanged at 64. Infantino also wants to create fervor in the extra countries which would qualify. In the short-term, competing national teams attract more sponsors. The long-term goal is appealing to more young people who are the future players, fans and officials. Expect to hear much FIFA talk of helping the next Costa Rica or Iceland — feelgood stories at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 — by inviting 16 more teams to the party. ___ 48-TEAM OPTIONS A near-consensus is growing around the '16x3' option revealed just one month ago. All 80 games would be played in exclusive time slots. That's more hours of TV exposure for sponsors and sales time for broadcasters in the same 32-day tournament period. By advancing two teams from each group, a Round of 32 ensures most teams still play at least three matches. FIFA's own analysis predicts this format will raise revenue by 20 percent from the equivalent $5.5 billion forecast from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The flaw for purists is planning for penalty shootouts to settle drawn group matches. If each game has a 'winner' that guards against teams colluding on a mutually favorable result in the last group games. Previously, Infantino suggested an opening playoff round of 16 matches to decide who would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group phase. That was unacceptable to many FIFA members federations who said 'one-and-done' teams were not part of a real World Cup. It also would stretch the tournament to 39 days. ___ 40-TEAM OPTIONS Infantino's plan from one year ago is now almost friendless. Either of two options, 10 groups of four teams or eight five-team groups, gives lopsided or weak match schedules, FIFA judged. In '10x4,' only 76 matches are played and only six group runners-up advance from a muddled tiebreaker process to a Round of 16. In '8x5,' the 88 matches include meaningless ones in a flabby group phase ripe for collusion. Also, the four semifinalists would play eight matches and that workload is unacceptable to European clubs releasing employees to national-team duty. ___ PROVEN 32-TEAM FORMAT Why fix something that is not broken? Germany, the defending champion, has publicly asked this question. The 32-team format and perfect 64-match bracket has worked well since being introduced at the 1998 World Cup in France (where Europe had 15 teams). FIFA acknowledged that it produces the best soccer — 'the highest absolute quality' of games pitting high-ranked teams against each other. Recall that former winners Italy, England and Uruguay were drawn in the same 2014 World Cup group — and yet Costa Rica finished top. Still, enough of FIFA's 211 members want change and their chance to play. ___ WHO WILL PLAY? A big question is likely not being resolved Tuesday. FIFA has yet to announce exactly how many entry slots each of six confederations would get for their own qualifying program. Quotas for a 40-team World Cup were proposed in December 2015 by a FIFA advisory group that included Infantino, then UEFA's general secretary. Some saw a cynical move to sweeten skeptical FIFA voters who were being asked to vote through modernizing and anti-corruption reforms on the same day they picked a new president. Then, assuming a single host nation would get automatic entry, the proposal for sharing 39 qualifying slots was: Europe 14; Africa 7; Asia 6; South America 5; North, Central America and Caribbean 5; Oceania 1; plus a final slot awarded 'based on sporting merits using a method yet to be defined.' Going from 40 to 48 can add at least one more from each continent. Who could those new teams be? On current form, maybe Wales and Panama, Congo and Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan and Oman, will bring something new to the 2026 World Cup. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 8th, 2017Related News

Wild-card entry Bouchard wins 1st-round match at Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — Eugenie Bouchard made the most of her wild-card entry to the Sydney International, beating Zhang Shuai of China 7-6 (1), 6-2 on Sunday in a first-round match. Bouchard, a 22-year-old former Wimbledon finalist, was beaten in the first round of the Brisbane International last week in her first warmup tournament for the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 16 and where she was a surprise semifinalist in 2014. The Canadian went on to make the semis at the French Open that year before losing to Petra Kvitova in the Wimbledon final. Bouchard finished that year ranked seventh, but injuries and poor form since have seen her ranking slide to 46. Earlier at Sydney, two-time Grand Slam singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-1, 6-4. Defending champion Kuznetsova broke the Romanian's serve in the ninth game of the second set, then held serve to advance to the second round of the ATP-WTA tournament. Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan advanced when Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who partnered Roger Federer in last week's Hopman Cup, retired with a toe injury when Putinseva was up 6-4, 2-3. In a first-round men's match at Sydney, France's Nicolas Mahut beat Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-2, 7-6 (2). Earlier, Brisbane International finalists Karolina Pliskova and Alize Cornet withdrew from their next scheduled tournaments due to injuries. Pliskova, who beat Cornet 6-0, 6-3 at Brisbane on Saturday evening, withdrew from the Sydney International with a left inner thigh injury. Pliskova, who would have been seeded fourth in Sydney, was replaced by lucky loser Roberta Vinci of Italy. Sydney officials also announced seventh-seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine withdrew due to a viral illness. 'I've had constant headaches for the last two days and unfortunately in today's hot weather it got even worse when I was warming up and my body wasn't ready to compete,' Svitolina said. Svitolina was scheduled to play Olympic champion Monica Puig on Sunday, but Puig will now play a lucky loser from qualifying on Monday. No. 1 Angelique Kerber and third-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska remain in the Sydney draw. At Hobart, defending champion Cornet withdrew from the tournament with a back injury, a Tennis Australia official said. American Shelby Rogers posted the first upset of that tournament in the opening match, beating second-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Lizette Cabrera of Australia continued the Hobart trend, beating fifth-seeded Misaki Doi of Japan 6-4, 5-7, 7-5. Third-seeded Monica Niculescu defeated former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-3. In a men's tournament at Auckland, New Zealand, top-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut and second-seeded John Isner headline the entries. Bautista Agut, Isner, third-seeded David Ferrer and No. 4-seeded Jack Sock have first-round byes in the tournament which begins Monday. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 8th, 2017Related News

Gasquet beats Sock to give France lead in Hopman Cup final

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Richard Gasquet saved a match point in the third-set tiebreaker and held on for a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (6) win over American Jack Sock to give France the early lead in the Hopman Cup mixed teams final on Saturday. Sock broke Gasquet's service in the 11th game of the deciding set, helped by Gasquet's double-fault on break point. But Gasquet came back to break Sock in the next game and send it to a tiebreaker. The match lasted 2 1/2 hours. Coco Vandeweghe will attempt to keep the American side in the best-of-three match when she plays Kristina Mladenovic of France. A potential deciding mixed doubles match was scheduled to follow. The U.S. has won the Hopman Cup a record six times in the tournament's 28-year history. Organizers announced earlier Saturday that the tournament would remain in the Western Australian state capital for at least the next five years. The state government extended its contract with the International Tennis Federation and Tennis Australia to host the exhibition event at Perth Arena until at least 2022. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 7th, 2017Related News

Ronaldo favored to win his 4th FIFA award as world's best

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable run of success can continue with a fourth FIFA award as the world's best player on Monday. A European champion with club and country last year, the Real Madrid and Portugal forward is favored to beat great rival Lionel Messi and France forward Antoine Griezmann when winners of the rebranded Best FIFA Football Awards are presented in Zurich. Messi leads Ronaldo 5-3 in their career-long duel for FIFA's top individual prize. However, Ronaldo is set to complete a hat-trick of major awards for 2016 after taking home trophies presented by UEFA and France Football magazine's prestiguous Golden Ball. FIFA will also name the best women's player, and the best coaches in men's and women's soccer. Voting is by national team captains and coaches, selected journalists and — for the first time — an online poll of fans. Each category counts for 25 percent of the points. Here is a look ahead to the awards ceremony: ___ CRISTIANO RONALDO After Messi in 2015, it was Ronaldo's turn to win the Champions League in 2016 as the prolific scorer netted 16 goals in the competition. He also got the decisive penalty in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with Griezmann's Atletico Madrid. But where he really dominated Messi was on the national-team stage. Ronaldo captained Portugal to a long-awaited first title at the European Championship — two weeks after Messi's Argentina again lost the Copa America final to Chile. Portugal seemed a long way from glory, and faced a humiliating group-stage exit, before Ronaldo's two goals helped salvage a 3-3 draw with Hungary. He also netted in the 2-0 semifinal win against Wales. In the final against host France, Ronaldo went off injured in the first half, then returned to the bench for extra time as — with his knee strapped — he passionately urged teammates on to a 1-0 win. For good measure, Ronaldo scored a Club World Cup final hat trick against Kashima Antlers in December, but that was after FIFA voting had closed. ___ LIONEL MESSI Messi looks to extend a streak of being winner or runner-up in nine straight seasons since placing second behind Kaka of Brazil in 2007. Last year, Messi and won a Spanish league and Cup double with Barcelona. Yet there was another painful Copa America final loss — a third straight year Argentina lost a major final without scoring — and a Champions League quarterfinal exit against Atletico. Nearing his 30th birthday, Messi's prolific scoring rate has not slowed, and 10 goals in the Champions League group stage means that Ronaldo's season record of 17 — set in 2013-14 — is within his sight this year. ___ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN Griezmann's goals helped get France and Atletico Madrid into major finals in 2016. In the Champions League final in Milan, Atletico trailed 1-0 to its city rival when Griezmann missed with a penalty kick that struck the crossbar. Still, he confidently converted his kick in the penalty shootout. Griezmann's six goals at Euro 2016 made him the tournament top scorer. In a tricky round of 16 match, his two goals overturned an early Ireland lead, and he also struck twice — including a coolly taken penalty — against favored Germany in the semifinals. However, he missed two good chances in the final against Portugal as France 1-0 in extra time. ___ COACHING AWARD Could the coach of a provincial club side beat the men who coached European champions Real Madrid and Portugal? Yes, when that coach is Italian Claudio Ranieri and his team, unheralded Leicester City, won an English Premier League title that delighted and stunned fans worldwide. Zinedine Zidane started 2016 having never coached a senior match. The newly appointed Madrid coach won a Champions League title within five months and started 2017 riding a 37-match unbeaten run. Fernando Santos marshalled one of the less obviously talented Portugal teams of recent years to win Euro 2016 despite winning only one of its seven matches during the 90 minutes. ___ WOMEN'S AWARDS Germany's Olympic gold medal-winning team is favored to sweep the awards. Midfielder Melanie Behringer is challenging two past FIFA award winners: defending champion Carli Lloyd of the United States and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. All three coaching candidates are previous FIFA award winners: Silvia Neid of Germany, last year's winner Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia Sundhage of Sweden. ___ FIFA AWARDS FIFA has added a Fan Award to its annual ceremony, and all three candidates from an online poll are European. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, whose fans sang You'll Never Walk Alone before a Europa League match at Anfield; Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord; and the Iceland fans at Euro 2016 for their inspirational clapping salute to players after games. A fans' vote will also decide the Puskas Award for best goal. The candidates are: Marlone of Corinthians, Daniuska Rodriguez of the Venezuela women's Under-17 team, and Mohd Faiz Subri of Malaysian side Penang. FIFA will also present a Fair Play award, and members of the players' union FIFPro worldwide have voted to select a World XI team. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 6th, 2017Related News

Coach Conte hopes Oscar, Mikel departures are the only ones

Associated Press br /> LONDON (AP) — Coach Antonio Conte hopes he has seen the last of the Chelsea exodus to the lucrative Chinese Super League. Midfielder John Obi Mikel followed hot on the heels of Brazilian playmaker Oscar's big-money move to Shanghai SIPG when he joined Tianjin TEDA on Friday. Although neither were key players in Conte's squad this season, the Chelsea coach does not want any more of his players following them. 'I hope this offer from China finishes with Mikel and Oscar,' Conte said Friday. 'I think that it's important now to remain with this squad.' The Italian, who took charge this season, hinted at bringing in reinforcements in the January transfer window but said the Premier League leader is 'not close' to recruiting anyone yet. He has, however, ruled out bringing in a center back with France defender Kurt Zouma available again following a long-term knee injury. 'I don't think we need another central defender,' Conte said. Zouma will start Sunday's FA Cup third round match against third-tier Peterborough at Stamford Bridge, as will Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi, who has been given limited opportunities since his move from Marseille in the summer. 'I have a good opportunity in this game to see Michy from the start,' Conte said. 'I think it's important. He's working a lot. I'm seeing that he's improving. Sunday for him, but also for other players, could be a good opportunity to show me that he deserves to play more.' Chelsea's run of 13 consecutive league wins ended with a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham on Wednesday and Italian Conte wants a quick response. 'One defeat is enough for us now. In every game our mentality must be that we have to try to win every game,' he said. 'FA Cup or league (it) doesn't change. I want always the same mentality, the right mentality, a winning mentality.'   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 6th, 2017Related News

France launches mass duck cull to stem spread of bird flu virus

France launches mass duck cull to stem spread of bird flu virus.....»»

Source: Manilatimes_net Manilatimes_netCategory: NewsJan 6th, 2017Related News

Americans finish round-robin play at Hopman Cup unbeaten

PERTH, Australia (AP) — American teammates Coco Vandeweghe and Jack Sock remained unbeaten after round-robin play at the Hopman Cup, defeating Daria Gavrilova and reserve Australian player Matt Ebden 4-1, 4-1 Thursday in the deciding mixed doubles match. The United States had already qualified for Saturday's final with wins in its opening two matches at the ITF invitational event, which offers no ranking points but has prize money. Sock earlier beat Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 6-2 and Gavrilova defeated Vandeweghe 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in singles play. Kyrgios, who said he has some left knee soreness but expects to be ready for the Australian Open, was replaced by Ebden in the mixed doubles. 'It's not terrible, but it's not great,' Kyrgios said. 'I just need to rest now and a couple of days without the load and I should be back to normal. A thing like this won't take too long.' Earlier, the Spanish pair of Lara Arruabarrena and Feliciano Lopez beat Lucie Hradecka and Adam Pavlasek of the Czech Republic 4-2, 4-1 in mixed doubles to give Spain a 2-1 win. Lopez had earlier beaten Pavlasek 7-6 (5), 6-4 while Hradecka gave the Czechs the lead with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Arruabarrena. Switzerland, led by Roger Federer, plays France on Friday in its final round-robin match, with the winner to face the United States in the final. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 5th, 2017Related News

Djokovic wins, then poses for selfie, Murray advances

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Defending champion Novak Djokovic and top-seeded Andy Murray posted straight-set wins on Wednesday to reach the Qatar Open quarterfinals, but only Djokovic was asked to pose for a selfie by his opponent after the match. Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, honored the unusual request of Horacio Zeballos of Argentina after his 6-3, 6-4 win. 'I just have to mention making a selfie after the match was over, that was the first time that I ever had this kind of experience in my career,' Djokovic said on the court. 'So, Horacio, well done. Very original.' Murray had a challenging outing against Gerald Melzer of Austria, the younger brother of former world No. 8 Jurgen Melzer, before advancing to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (6) 7-5 win. 'He played great, great tennis and was dominating large parts of the match,' said Murray, who was on the defense through much of the match. 'He made it extremely, extremely difficult. I was a bit lucky to through in two sets today. 'I think he's playing much better than someone ranked 69 in the world,' Murray added. In the first set, Murray required nine set points before Melzer mis-hit a forehand to surrender the set. In the second, Melzer saved two Murray match points on his own serve in the ninth game, and then broke for 5-5. Murray broke Melzer's serve on a fourth break point in the 11th game and then sealed the victory on a third match point when Melzer blasted a shot long. 'Today was a perfect example of the depth in the men's games just now,' Murray said. 'I actually played pretty good, but he was hitting the ball huge from both sides. You need to be ready for every single match.' Murray, a two-time champion in Doha, will face Nicolas Almagro of Spain in the quarterfinals. Djokovic never offered Zeballos a break point opportunity, but could only carve out one service break in each set against the Argentine's serve. 'Credit to Zeballos for playing some fearless tennis,' Djokovic said. 'He was stepping in and trying to go for his shots. He wasn't backing up to the baseline.' Djokovic will play qualifier Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic, in the quarterfinals. At 38, Stepanek, who ranked a career-best No. 8 in July 2006, is the oldest ATP Tour quarterfinalist since a 42-year-old Jimmy Connors reached the final eight at the 1995 Halle tournament. Stepanek defeated wildcard entrant Arthur De Greef of Belgium 6-3, 6-2 for his quarterfinal berth. Spaniard Fernando Verdasco needed six match points, three in the second set tiebreaker, to upset fourth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 6-1, 7-6 (6). Verdasco will play sixth-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the last eight. The other quarterfinal will pit third-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic against fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who beat Dustin Brown of Germany 6-1, 6-3. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 4th, 2017Related News

105-year-old Frenchman sets cycling record

SAMUEL PETREQUIN, AP Sports Writer   SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AP) — Nearly a century ago, Robert Marchand was told by a coach that he should give up cycling because he would never achieve anything on a bike. He proved that prediction wrong again on Wednesday. In a skin-tight yellow and violet jersey, the 105-year-old Frenchman set a world record in the 105-plus age category -- created especially for the tireless veteran -- by riding 22.547 kilometers (14.010 miles) in one hour. 'I'm now waiting for a rival,' he said. Marchand had ridden faster in the past on the boards of the Velodrome National, a state of the art venue used to host the elite of track cycling. But he had warned before his latest attempt that his current form was not as good. 'I did not see the sign warning me I had 10 minutes left,' Marchand said after his effort. 'Otherwise I would have gone faster, I would have posted a better time. I'm not tired. I thought my legs would hurt, but they don't. My arms hurt, you have to hurt somewhere.' Three years ago at the same venue, Marchand covered 26.927 kilometers (16.731 miles) in one hour to better his own world record in the over-100s category. Still, impressed fans and chanted 'Robert, Robert' during the last minutes of his ride. Marchand received a standing ovation once he completed the last of his 92 laps and was then mobbed by dozens of cameramen and TV crews. 'He could have been faster but he made a big mistake. He has stopped eating meat over the past month after being shocked by recent reports on how animals are subjected to cruel treatment,' Marchand's physiologist, Veronique Billat, told The Associated Press. By way of comparison, the current overall world record for one hour is 54.526 kilometers (33.880 miles) set by British rider Bradley Wiggins in 2015. But Wiggins, who smashed the previous record using the world's leading track cycling equipment, is now retired. Marchand, who lives in a small flat in a Parisian suburb with a meager pension of about 900 euros ($940), keeps pedaling and stretching every day. As if time had no effect on him. 'He's got two essential qualities. A big heart that pumps a lot of blood, and he can reach high heart beat values that are exceptional for his age,' said Billat, a university professor. 'If he starts eating meat again and builds more muscle, he can better this mark.' Marchand, a former firefighter who was born in 1911 in the northern town of Amiens, has lived through two world wars. He led an eventful life that took him to Venezuela, where he worked as a truck driver near the end of the 1940s. He then moved to Canada and became a lumberjack for a while. Back in France in the 1960s, Marchand made a living through various jobs that left him with no time to practice sports. He finally took up his bike again when he was 68 years old and began a series of cycling feats. The diminutive Marchand — he is 1.52 meters (5-foot) tall and weighs 52 kilograms (115 pounds) — rode from Bordeaux to Paris, and Paris to Roubaix several times. He also cycled to Moscow from Paris in 1992 and set the record for someone over the age of 100 riding 100 kilometers (62 miles). 'If the president of his teenage club who told him he was not made for cycling because he was too small could see him today, he would kick himself,' Marchand's coach and good friend Gerard Mistler told the AP. According to Mistler, the secret behind Marchand's longevity relates to his healthy lifestyle: eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, no smoking, just the occasional glass of wine and exercising on a daily basis. 'He never pushed his limits, goes to bed at 9 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m., there's no other secret,' Mistler said. 'If had been doping, he would not be there anymore.' To stay fit, Marchand rides every day on his home trainer and puts himself through outdoor training sessions on the road when the weather is good enough. 'One needs to keep his muscles working,' said Marchand, a faithful reader of communist newspaper L'Humanite. 'Reading a lot keeps his mind alert,' Mistler said. 'He does not watch much TV, apart from the Tour de France stages.' At 105, Marchand is not making plans for the future. His coach would not be surprised to see him back on the boards, though. 'Setting goals for himself is part of his personality,' Mistler said. 'If he tells me he wants to improve his record, I'll be game. Robert is a great example for all of us.' .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 4th, 2017Related News

Top-seeded Cilic loses in 2nd round at Chennai Open

CHENNAI, India (AP) — Top-seeded Marin Cilic was beaten in the second round of the Chennai Open on Wednesday, losing to 117th-ranked Jozef Kovalik 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-5. 'It was the first match of the season and I was a little hesitant to go for my shots,' said Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion. Kovalik will next face Daniil Medvedev of Russia in quarterfinals. Medvedev advanced by beating eighth-seeded Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-4, 6-3. Third-seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas also reached the quarterfinals, beating Steve Darcis of Belgium 6-2, 6-0. He will next play Dudi Sela of Israel, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over South Korean qualifier Hyeon Chung. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 4th, 2017Related News

Panama looks to talks with France to get off tax haven list

Panama looks to talks with France to get off tax haven list.....»»

Source: Manilatimes_net Manilatimes_netCategory: NewsJan 4th, 2017Related News

Roger Federer loses close match to Zverev at Hopman Cup

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer found himself overmatched — just — by a younger and stronger-serving opponent on Wednesday, losing 7-6 (1), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4) to 19-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany at the Hopman Cup. The 35-year-old Federer was playing just his second match since returning from a six-month layoff because of a left knee injury. He led 5-2 in the first set, but ran into an opponent whose first-serve percentage exceeded 80 percent midway through the final set of the 2 ½-hour match in the mixed teams tournament. 'I thought we both played really well,' Zverev said of his second career win over Federer. 'But I always play unbelievable against him.' Serving to stay in the match at 5-6, someone in the 13,700-capacity crowd at Perth Arena crowd yelled out: 'Let's have another tiebreaker.' Non-plussed, Zverev smiled and replied: 'What do you think I am trying to do?' Andrea Petkovic will try to clinch the match for Germany when she plays Federer's Swiss teammate Belinda Bencic in women's singles, with a mixed doubles match to follow. Switzerland won its opening match against Britain. A comeback victory over Germany would leave France and Switzerland playing for a spot in Saturday's final when they conclude round-robin play on Friday. Otherwise, Switzerland, Germany and France would all be 1-1 going into the last set of round-robin matches. Earlier Wednesday, France's Kristina Mladenovic and Richard Gasquet won their singles matches to give France victory over Britain. Mladenovic beat Heather Watson 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 before Gasquet defeated Dan Evans 6-4, 6-2. Gasquet and Mladenovic later defeated Evans and Watson 4-3, 4-3 in mixed doubles, played in the Fast4 format, to complete a sweep. Temperatures during the opening match rose to as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), forcing both players to conserve their energy. 'It was definitely difficult,' said Mladenovic, who estimated she drank seven bottles of fluid during the match. 'Sometimes you would like to try to put more intensity, but you have to be smart sometimes and maybe not run down every single ball.' The United States, represented by Coco Vandeweghe and Jack Sock, have already qualified for the final from Group B after beating Czech Republic and Spain in its opening matches. On Thursday, Czech Republic plays Spain and defending champion Australia takes on the U.S. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 4th, 2017Related News

Serena, Venus Williams forced out of ASB Classic

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Serena Williams was knocked out of the ASB Tennis Classic on Wednesday, reducing her match practice for the upcoming Australian Open, while sister Venus withdrew due to injury. Top-seeded Serena was frustrated by a swirling wind, her inability to find her A-game, and a tenacious opponent as she went down 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-4 to 72nd-ranked American compatriot Madison Brengle. Older sister Venus withdrew from the tournament with an arm injury ahead of her scheduled second-round match. Both players will now head to Melbourne to prepare for the first Grand Slam tournament of the season with less match play than they would have hoped. Serena had shown signs of rustiness in her 6-3, 6-4 first round win over Pauline Parmentier of France, and her power-hitting game was again affected by gusting wind on the open-air center court. She struggled with her ball toss in the windy conditions and made 88 unforced errors, including the double fault that ended the match and caused Brengle to clap her hand over her mouth in surprise. Brengle, a 26-year-old Delaware native, had played Serena only once before, in 2015, losing 6-0, 6-1. Williams, a 22-time Grand Slam tournament winner, played only eight events in 2016 — the most recent at the U.S. Open in August — but still got off to a good start, taking a 4-1 lead before faltering. Brengle rattled off four straight games to lead 5-4, and then served out the set. Williams was down a break in the second set before breaking Brengle and then powering through her service game to lead 5-4. She had four set points in Brengle's next service game but again her accuracy deserted her and she squandered every one. It finally took a fifth set point in the tiebreak for Williams to close out the set in 60 minutes. Games went on serve in the third set, and Brengle's plan of taking the pace off the ball with her returns paid off as she broke Williams in the final game. 'I just tried to concentrate on every point and run down every ball,' Brengle said. 'It was difficult conditions with the wind and I just tried to right for every point. 'I tried to use the slice and get as many balls back as I could and it ended up working out.' .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJan 4th, 2017Related News

World No. 1 Murray wins his opening match of 2017 in Doha

DOHA, Qatar — Top-ranked Andy Murray extended his winning streak to a career-best 25 matches by defeating Jeremy Chardy of France 6-0, 7-6 (2) in his first m.....»»

Source: Philstar PhilstarCategory: SportsJan 4th, 2017Related News