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A tournament without Djokovic to hit home in Australia

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

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 20th, 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 18th, 2017

Yes Sir: Andy Murray confident he can break Aussie drought

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray has become a father, gained the No. 1 ranking and received a knighthood since he left Melbourne Park 50 weeks ago after losing a fifth Australian Open final. Stress weighed him down at the season-opening Grand Slam in 2016, to the point where he thought about quitting the tournament to head back to Britain to be with his heavily pregnant wife. But even that would have presented problems, considering his father-in-law was in a Melbourne hospital after collapsing with an illness while watching a match at the Australian Open. Clearly, he's in a better place this year as he seeks to end his Australian drought. 'I obviously feel pretty confident after the way that last season finished,' he said. 'I do love it here. I love the conditions. I have played really well here over the years, and just haven't managed to get over the final hurdle. 'But, yeah, I think I'm in a decent position, for sure, to do it. I think I have a chance to win here. I'm playing well. Practice has been good. I feel healthy. I'll give it a good shot.' Rumors circulated last year that Murray would go home before facing Djokovic, his Melbourne nemesis, in the final. As it was, he was on the first flight to Heathrow after losing in straight sets — his fourth Australian Open final defeat to Djokovic and fifth overall dating back to 2010. His wife, Kim Sears, gave birth to their first child, Sophia Olivia, the following week. He confirmed Saturday, two days before he opens the 2017 tournament against Illya Marchenko of Ukraine, that he really had thought about leaving early. 'It was a tough tournament, obviously the situation with Kim and the baby coming was tough,' he said. 'Then with what happened with Nigel during the event made it really kind of awkward because there was times ... it was like 'I want to home for the birth,' but then I'm not just going to leave while my father-in-law is also in hospital. 'It was tough, and certainly not a position I would want to put myself in again, or my wife, or any of my family really.' Murray had a stunning end to 2016 after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach in June, winning his second Wimbledon title, defending his Olympic gold medal, and adding titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris to end Djokovic's 122-week stint at No. 1. He then clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking by winning the ATP Finals, beating the players seeded second, third, fourth and fifth. He set a record for most time between gaining the No. 2 and No. 1 rankings — seven years, and 82 days. But he has set a lot of timely records for British tennis in the last three seasons and, in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's honors list, he received a knighthood from the British monarch for reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Roger Federer was asked if he could remember what it was like back in 2004 when he first became No. 1, and how he'd explain it to Murray. 'It definitely feels different because everybody comes up to you and says, 'You're the best,'' said Federer, who spent a record 302 weeks at No. 1. 'You start walking around a bit differently. Just feel more confident overall in your shots.' Murray said he hasn't really felt a difference yet, but it has only been eight weeks. Considering how hard it was to achieve the top spot, he's hoping it doesn't take twice the energy to hang on to it. 'It is a mindset thing, because I think it could be quite easy that once you get to No. 1 that you think, 'Well, actually, I just need to keep doing what I've been doing,'' he said. 'The reality is that things obviously keep moving on, the game will get better, I'll obviously get older, the young guys will continue to improve, and also Novak and Roger and Stan (Wawrinka) and Rafa (Nadal) and all the guys at the top are still going to be wanting to get there. 'I need to continue to improve. I for sure need to keep working hard.' One thing he doesn't really want to change is how people refer to him now that formally he's recognized as Sir Andy Murray, particularly the broadcasters. 'I'm more than happy just being Andy. That's enough for me,' he said. 'Yeah, if they call me Andy, I'd be happy with that.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Nadal in Australia, still aiming to contend for major titles

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal cuddled a koala on the banks of the river, something that has become a customary photo opportunity for celebrity players on debut at the Brisbane International. The 14-time major winner has altered his preparation for the Australian Open, hoping a change of venues for the warmup tournaments will bring a change of luck at the season's first Grand Slam tournament after a shocking first-round exit in 2016. Nadal kicked off his season with a win in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi on New Year's Eve, then headed directly to Australia to fine-tune at the Brisbane International in preference to remaining in the Gulf for the event in Doha. 'I played well in Abu Dhabi ... I played three good matches, and that's important for me,' Nadal said Monday after the brief meet-and-greet with a local politician and a native marsupial. 'I really hope the good matches I played in Abu Dhabi helps me for here.' The 30-year-old Spaniard is playing in Brisbane for the first time, replacing Roger Federer as the tournament's male draw card. He has a tricky opener against Alexandr Dolgopolov and, if he gets through that, a potential quarterfinal against top-seeded Milos Raonic, the defending champion. Nadal is coming off a left wrist injury that curtailed his 2016 season, and thinks the extra time in Australia will help him prepare to win his first major title since the 2014 French Open. Until last year, he had reached the quarterfinals or better at every Australian Open he had contested since 2007, including victory in '09 and runs to the final in 2012 and '14. The wrist injury last year forced Nadal to withdraw from the French Open before the third round and skip Wimbledon. He won the Olympic doubles gold medal for Spain in Rio de Janeiro, but he struggled with the pain and didn't win a title on a surface other than clay in 2016. 'Last year that I was playing great, I get injured in the worst moment possible,' he said. 'I'm happy to be back on the competition again. Abu Dhabi was a good start. I need to continue that way.' Despite his struggles with injury and the recent dominance of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, Nadal thinks he can still contend for the Grand Slam titles. 'Being here in Brisbane is good news for me,' he said, two weeks before the Australian Open starts. 'I don't know if that's going to help me or not — I can tell you after Melbourne, I cannot predict the future. 'The only thing I can say is if I am healthy, I believe that I can do it. If not, I (would) be at home fishing.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2017

Djokovic cries at his Belgrade event

Belgrade--Emotional Novak Djokovic broke down in tears in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in Belgrade after he failed to make the final in the first leg of his Balkans charity tennis tournament on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 16th, 2020

Djokovic breaks down in tears at his Belgrade event

  Emotional Novak Djokovic broke down in tears in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in Belgrade after he failed to make the final in the first leg of his Balkans charity tennis tournament on Sunday. “I am not crying because I missed the finals. I am just overwhelmed by emotion because this reminds me […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJun 15th, 2020

Pinoy netters clash with Greek titans in Davis Cup

The Philippines plays David against the Goliaths in World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas and the Greeks in their Davis Cup World Group II playoff tie Friday at the Philippine Columbian Association’s Plaza Dilao courts in Paco, Manila. AJ Lim, 20, drew Tsitsipas at 10 a.m. while Jeson Patrombon clashes with the younger Tsitsipas in Petros. Lim is the underdog against Tsitsipas, who is riding the crest of a runner-up finish to Novak Djokovic in Dubai less than a week ago. But Lim can draw strength from the fact that he once defeated Tsitsipas in a doubles tournament in their junior days. But that was eons ago as the 21-year-old Tsitsipas had won four titles since turning pro to zoom to the top 10 in the world. “It was in the past and very long time ago,” said Lim. “I will just give it my best when we play tomorrow (today). For Tsitsipas, he will not take Lim lightly. “We’ll just take it match by match,” said Tsitsipas, who at 6-4 towers above the 5-7 Lim. Francis Casey Alcantara and Ruben Gonzales will team up as they tackle Petros Tsitsipas and Markos Kalovelonis in the doubles Saturday. And then the reverse singles pitting Lim and Patrombon against the Tsitsipas follow after. This will be the first time that the Filipinos clash with a non-Asian country since the Felix Barrientos-led squad battled the Swedes in World Group Qualifiers 29 years ago. This is because the Davis Cup organizers are implementing a new format that allow 12 simultaeneous home-and-away ties in Group II as well as in Group I. The Group II winners will then compete in the World Group II ties in September along with the losing nations from World Group I. The losers of World Group II, meanwhile, will be relegated to the Regional Group III in June/July or September......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 5th, 2020

Djokovic pulls out of Adelaide International

ADELAIDE, Australia – Novak Djokovic on Saturday, January 11 pulled out of the upcoming Adelaide International in a big blow to the new tournament. The world No. 2 has been leading Serbia at the ATP Cup team event in Sydney, where they face Russia in a semi-final on Saturday, January 11.  No ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 11th, 2020

Russia, Australia, Serbia, Britain into ATP Cup quarters

SYDNEY (AP) — Daniil Medvedev helped Russia to a 3-0 sweep of its pool matches to join Australia, Serbia and Britain in the quarterfinals of the inaugural ATP Cup on Tuesday. Medvedev clinched victory against Norway by beating Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-6 (6) in Perth. Karen Khachanov had already routed Victor Durasovic 6-2, 6-1. The fifth-ranked Medvedev will join Serbia's Novak Djokovic, undefeated Australia and probably Rafael Nadal in Sydney for the knockout stages starting on Thursday. Only an unlikely 3-0 loss to Japan on Wednesday would stop Nadal and his Spanish Davis Cup-winning teammates from making the quarterfinals. Australia will play Britain for a spot in the final four after Britain swept past Moldova 3-0 without dropping a set and then took advantage of Bulgaria losing to Belgium 2-1 to finish first in Group C. After David Goffin beat Grigor Dimitrov 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, Belgium rallied from a match and a set down to take the group match in Sydney. The loss was costly for the previously unbeaten Bulgarians, who fell to third in their group and out of contention for a quarterfinal spot as one of the best two group runners-up. Australia, which had already qualified for the quarterfinals by topping Group F, clinched a win over Greece in Brisbane where Nick Kyrgios defeated a hot-tempered Stefanos Tsitsipas. Kyrgios returned from a back injury to claim a 7-6 (7), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5) win at Pat Rafter Arena. After losing the first set, Tsitsipas slammed his racket into the bench, accidentally hitting his father and Greece captain Apostolos Tsitsipas on the forearm. His father walked away briefly before Tsitsipas' mother, Julia, emerged from the crowd to stand behind the bench and criticize her son for his behavior. Earlier, John Millman of Australia beat Michail Pervolarakis 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1). British No. 1 Dan Evans outclassed Radu Albot 6-2 6-2 to clinch their match after Cameron Norrie downed Alexander Cozbinov by the same scoreline. Britain captain Tim Henman said he's looking forward to the quarterfinal against Australia. “I have a lot of history with (Australia captain) Lleyton (Hewitt) and everyone knows the team well. It would be a big challenge, but we would love that opportunity," Henman said. Also in Brisbane, Canada eliminated Germany 2-1. Alexander Zverev made seven double faults in losing to Denis Shapovalov 6-2, 6-2 after Jan-Lennard Struff put Germany ahead defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-4. But Zverev's loss and a 6-3, 7-6 (4) doubles win for Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime over Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies gave Canada the win. With a 2-1 record in pool play, Canada can still quality for the quarterfinals as one of the best two group runners-up. Zverev has 31 double faults in 31 service games in the tournament. He said an offseason exhibition tour in South America with Roger Federer left him behind in his preparations. “I had like five days less than I normally have ... I didn't practice a lot of tennis," he said. “You can see that on the tennis court. There are a lot of things that I still need to improve.” In the night match at Perth, Italy took a winning 2-0 lead over the United States. Fabio Fognini beat John Isner 6-4, 7-6 (5) and Stefano Travaglia defeated Taylor Fritz 7-6 (3), 7-6 (1). The six group winners and two best second-place finishers advance. Two quarterfinals are set for Thursday and two more on Friday. The semifinals are on Saturday and the final on Sunday at Ken Rosewall Arena......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2020

Collins oust Svitolina, Stosur upsets Kerber in Brisbane

By John Pye, Associated Press BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Danielle Collins needed less than an hour to beat 2018 champion Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-1 at the Brisbane International on Monday, already a better start to the Australian summer than she made in her breakthrough trip last year. Collins lost in her main draw debut to Petra Kvitova in Brisbane last year, but rebounded to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open. She had never won a main draw match at a major until going on a five-match roll at Melbourne Park in 2019, including an upset over then-No. 2 Angelique Kerber. The 26-year-old American finished last year at No. 31 in the rankings, posting five top 20 wins in the season. She has added another one already after dismantling the sixth-ranked Svitolina, who was runner-up at last year's season-ending WTA Finals and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Collins will play either Donna Vekic or qualifier Yulia Putintseva in the next round, and possibly 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur after that. The 35-year-old Stosur, a wild-card entry in her 10th appearance at the tournament in her home state, upset Kerber 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) to advance beyond the first round in Brisbane for the first time since 2016. “That's exactly the start anyone wants is to win their first one. I'm very, very happy with that win over Angie," Stosur said. “It's probably my first top-20 win in a little while, so to come out and play well ... it was great feeling." Stosur led 5-2 and had a chance to serve for the first set before Kerber rallied and won five straight games, then get within two points of clinching it when she took a 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker. On a stadium court — the main arena is reserved for the ATP Cup, which is running concurrently in Brisbane until Wednesday — Stosur won the next six points to regain momentum. There were no breaks of serve in the second set, and Stosur controlled the tiebreaker this time. The win ended a run of four losses to former No. 1-ranked Kerber, a three-time major champion, and improved her record to 6-4 in their head-to-head meetings. Barbora Strycova beat seventh-seeded Johanna Konta 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and Americans Alison Riske and Sofia Kenin opened with wins. Riske beat Karolina Muchova 6-4, 6-2 and Kenin beat Anastasija Sevastova 7-6 (1), 6-4. Top-ranked Ash Barty and second-seeded Karolina Pliskova had first-round byes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2020

Aussie wildfires worry tennis star

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – Novak Djokovic has voiced concerns about the impact of the devastating wildfires in Australia on tennis’ season-opening major, saying organizers may have to consider delaying the tournament if conditions around Melbourne deteriorate. Djokovic has won a record seven Australian Open men’s championships at Melbourne Park among his 16 Grand Slam singles […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 5th, 2020

Team USA reshuffles roster after first scrimmage

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com LAS VEGAS -- The first week of U.S. Senior Men's National Team training for the FIBA World Cup concluded on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) with a scrimmage against the Select Team and a little bit of roster reshuffling. After the Senior Team beat the Select Team, 97-78, in the scrimmage, two players on the Senior Team were replaced by two players from the Select Team for the next phase of training camp -- three practices and an exhibition game against Spain in Los Angeles. Sent home from the Senior Team were center Bam Adebayo and forward Thaddeus Young. The 22-year-old Adebayo was one of the best rebounders in camp, but was probably a little too raw in comparison to the other bigs. Young, meanwhile, didn't provide the shooting that the remaining power forwards on the roster do. Added to the roster in their place are Marvin Bagley III and Derrick White, who impressed as members of Jeff Van Gundy's Select Team. They will join the 13 other healthy players from the Senior Team, along with Kyle Lowry (who is recovering from thumb surgery and missed all of this week's camp) and Marcus Smart (who missed the last three days with a sore left calf). From those 17 players, a 12-man roster will be selected for the World Cup. That roster doesn't need to be finalized until two days before the tournament begins on Aug. 31, a fact that USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo has brought up multiple times this week. So he and the rest of the staff clearly won't rush a final decision and it's possible that the team will take more than 12 players with it from Los Angeles to Australia, where it will play three more exhibition games before heading to China. "We're going to be patient with the rest of the squad, because we have plenty of time," Colangelo said Friday (Saturday, PHL time). "We want to make sure everyone gets a real shot, and I think the staff is sorting through all that. There's something we like about every one of the players." Both Lowry and Smart are likely to make the final roster if they're healthy, but the status of both is still very much in the air. Lowry is expected to be reevaluated by his doctor before the start of the L.A. camp, and Smart will see how he feels after a few days off. Other sure things to make the final roster are Jayson Tatum (Friday's leading scorer) and four of the five starters from the scrimmage: Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Jaylen Brown and Khris Middleton, though Senior Team head coach Gregg Popovich said afterward that inferring too much into the starting lineup would be "an incorrect assumption." "We're still trying to figure out how people fit together," he continued. "You don't always necessarily play your most talented guys together. It's got to be a good mix. You got to have something coming off the bench also. What we're doing now is just mixing and matching and taking a look at everybody." The status of guards De'Aaron Fox (who had 12 points and three steals), Joe Harris and White could depend on the health of Lowry and Smart. The frontline may have more questions than answers. Harrison Barnes is a pretty safe bet to make the roster, maybe leaving one roster spot between Kyle Kuzma and P.J. Tucker. Bagley is now in a competition at center with Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee and Myles Turner, who was the Senior Team's starting center on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). "There are going to be some players that are more talented than others, but a lot of jobs have to be filled," Popovich said. "Overall, we're looking for people who are committed defensively and are totally unselfish and are willing to move the ball and move themselves at the offensive end." With the Senior Team scoring just once on is first six possessions and with the Select Team bigs feasting inside, the young guys jumped out to an 8-2 lead on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). But the Senior Team got some stops and the second unit -- Fox, Harris, Tatum, Kuzma and Lopez -- took the lead for good with a 9-0 run to close the first quarter. The Select Team scored just 28 points over the second and third periods and it was a 30-point game going into the fourth. Credit the Senior Team defense (which mixed in some 2-3 zone), though it should be noted that the Select Team was lacking shooters (it finished 3-for-26 from three-point range) and running plays that they'd seen all week. Tatum was the offensive star, scoring a game-high 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting in just 15:44 off the bench. His biggest highlight on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) was a late-third-quarter spin move to a left-handed scoop in traffic. But he has shot well most of the week, looking to be in midseason form despite not having played an NBA game in almost three months. "I just tried to come in the best shape as I could," he said. "I just tried to get in a rhythm before I got out here." Though Popovich was quick to dismiss Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) starting lineup as non-news, it's easy to see Tatum staying in that sixth man role, where he could provide some scoring punch off the bench. "He was very aggressive tonight," Popovich said. "We really like that about him and need that from him." A foundation has been set. But there's still a long way to go before this team is ready for real competition. Developing chemistry, so that the talent can really flourish within the system, takes time. "Everybody here is really talented and has a high IQ," Tatum said. "We all know how to play basketball. We did a lot of great things on the fly today, but it's going to get better with time." John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2019

Lowry, Holmes share Open lead as McIlroy leaves with cheers

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2019

World Cup s top teams enter knockout stage on a roll

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press While it may be tempting to look ahead to the quarterfinals and a possible clash with France, the defending champion U.S. has thrived at the Women's World Cup by keeping its focus on the present. The Americans will face Spain in the round of 16 on Monday in Reims as the tournament enters the win-or-go-home phase. Games begin Saturday with Germany facing Nigeria in Grenoble followed by Norway's match against Australia. The U.S. had emphatic wins in the group stage, routing Thailand 13-0 in the opener before more clinical victories over Chile and Sweden. The team had three shutouts while also collecting a World Cup group-stage record 18 goals. Coach Jill Ellis said the three-time World Cup champions accomplished their early-round goals. "When you come out of the group stage, a lot of what we talk about is mentality and being healthy," she said. "I think they're in a really good place." The United States has performed largely as expected in France, though the team faced criticism after the game against Thailand for celebrating every goal. The Americans set World Cup records for most goals and margin of victory in the game. The team toned it down against Chile. Ellis made seven lineup changes to keep her team fresh and Carli Lloyd — the hat trick hero of the World Cup final four years ago in Canada — scored a pair of goals. Facing their toughest challenge of the group in ninth-ranked Sweden, the United States pounced early with Lindsey Horan's goal within the first three minutes and emerged with a 2-0 victory on Thursday night. Spain, ranked No. 13, finished second in its group to reach the knockout stage for the first time. If the top-ranked Americans can defeat La Roja, they could possibly face No. 4 France in Paris next Friday. They could potentially face No. 3 England in the semifinals before getting a shot at defending their title. The United States, France, England, Germany and the Netherlands all won their first three games in France. Like the Americans, Germany did not concede a goal. MAKING A STAND: France, vying to become the first country to simultaneously hold the men's and women's World Cup titles, faces Brazil in Le Havre on Sunday. They'll face determined Brazilian star Marta, who comes into the game with a World Cup record 17 goals but no title in a major tournament. She surpassed Germany's Miroslav Klose for the record on a penalty kick during the team's 1-0 victory over Italy on Tuesday. She celebrated by kissing her cleats, which in France have sported a blue and pink symbol for equality. She is currently without a shoe sponsor because she claims the men's contracts are unequal to the women's. "This record doesn't belong to me, it belongs to all of us," she said after the game. "I share it with anyone fighting for more equality." The World Cup in France comes at a time when female players worldwide are fighting for better playing conditions, treatment and pay. Ada Hegerberg, the first female Ballon d'Or winner, is not playing for Norway. She stepped away from the team over what she has characterized as the federation's lack of respect for the women's team. The U.S. women's team filed a lawsuit back home earlier this year that accuses its federation of gender discrimination and seeks equitable pay to the men's team. GOLDEN BOOT: American Alex Morgan and Australian Sam Kerr both have five goals to lead the tournament field. Morgan matched a U.S. record by scoring five goals in the team's big win over Thailand. Kerr got four in Australia's final group match, a 4-1 victory over Jamaica. It was the most goals for an Australian — male or female — in a World Cup game, and the final goal ensured the Matildas finished second in their group to avoid France in the round of 16. "At the time I didn't know how important it is, but we knew every goal would count," she said, adding with a smile: "I actually wanted more after that, being my selfish self." EDGING CLOSER: Christine Sinclair scored her 182nd career goal for Canada in a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands on Thursday. She also became the second player to score in five straight World Cups, joining Marta. Sinclair is now just two goals away from matching the international record set by former U.S. forward Abby Wambach. Canada plays Sweden on Monday in Paris. The Swedes rested many players in their match against the United States, with an eye toward the next round. THE REST: Looking ahead, England faces Cameroon in Valenciennes on Sunday. Italy and China meet in Montpellier on Tuesday, followed by the Netherlands and Japan in Rennes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

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

Federer gracious in praise of Sunday opponent at Aussie Open

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Istomin credits coach (and mother) for upset over Djokovic

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — When Denis Istomin walked off court after upsetting Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open — without a doubt the biggest win of his career — his mother had just two words for him: 'Good job.' There's a reason she's probably more measured than most mothers would be: She doubles as his coach. It's an unusual arrangement on the men's tennis tour, to be sure, but one that works well for the Uzbek player with the neon green eyeglasses and droll sense of humor. He said he wouldn't have it any other way. 'When your family is part of your team, it's great. I was lucky that my mother is coaching me,' he said, before adding with a smile, 'The (other) good thing that I don't need to pay the coach extra, you know. Everything to my mother.' Klaudiya Istomina might be due a raise after her son's stunning 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Djokovic in the second round on Thursday. Not only was Istomin just 1-33 in his previous matches against top-10 players (the only win coming against David Ferrer at Indian Wells in 2012), he was also ranked a lowly No. 117 after a demoralizing year punctuated by frequent losses. His ranking was so low, in fact, the 30-year-old Istomin had to win a special Asian wild card tournament just to gain entry to the tournament. He was realistic when asked what he would have thought if someone told him before the tournament that he would upset Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion. 'I would say, 'Are you crazy or what?'' he said, laughing. 'For me, (it) was impossible to think about that I can hold it five sets with Novak, physically and mentally.' But Istomin still had the belief he could at least compete with Djokovic. The 12-time major winner's loss to Sam Querrey in the third round at Wimbledon last year showed that even the top players are sometimes vulnerable. 'I mean, maybe today (Djokovic) wasn't best,' Istomin said. 'But the level of all players is growing. So if you can see everybody's fighting, even for Roger (Federer) or other players, it's not easy to win against, like, the top 20, top 30. And more young players are coming, as well.' Istomin was nearly forced to give up tennis after a serious car accident in Uzbekistan when he was 14. He was in the hospital for three months and the doctors doubted he would be able to play at the elite level. But two and a half years later, Istomin picked up his racket — thanks to the encouragement of his coach (and mother), Klaudiya. 'I mean, it was all (these) years together. We have a good relationship. We understand each other very well,' he said. 'She was always believing in me.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 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

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 18th, 2017

Federer's 17 majors stack up nicely against everyone else

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017