Powered by Maxwell special, Australia sets England 279 in tri-series final

Powered by Maxwell special, Australia sets England 279 in tri-series final

01/Feb/2015  //  682 Viewers

Australia surmounted a fiery opening spell from James Anderson and built on a 141-run 5th-wicket partnership between Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh

Australia made 278/8, batting first after losing the toss in Sunday’s tri-series one-day final against England at the WACA Ground.

The Australians, who were reduced to 60/4 in the 18th over thanks to a fiery spell by James Anderson, went on to build on a 141-run partnership for the fifth wicket by Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh and a 24-ball unbeaten 50 by James Faulkner to post a challenging total on a bouncy Perth surface.

Maxwell went past his previous-highest ODI score of 93 and breaking a recent scoring drought.

Marsh made 60 in his first innings in the tri-series, compiling his fourth half century in ODIs from 64 balls before being run out in the 44th over.

James Faulkner performed strongly in the closing overs, hitting a six off the final ball.

Ealier, England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and decided to bowl, mindful that the pitch at the WACA on which his team played India on Friday would provide variable bounce and that every match in the series so far had been won by the team batting second.

James Anderson dismissed Aaron Finch with the third ball of the match, a delivery which swung and bounced, as Finch sparred to Joe Root at first slip.

Anderson bowled an outstanding opening spell of six overs, two of which were maidens and from which he took 2-11. But the pressure England tried to impose was eroded by a poor opening spell from Chris Woakes, who took the other new ball and conceded 29 runs from four overs.

Woakes finished with humbling figures of 0-89 from his 10 overs, giving up almost a third of Australia’s runs.

Steve Smith steadied the Australia innings after the loss of Finch and David Warner (12), who also fell to a ball from Anderson which spat from just short of a length and was fended to James Taylor at backward point.

Captain George Bailey fell for 2 to a rising delivery from Broad which flew to a Taylor standing in an unusual bat-pad catching position.

Smith batted calmly through that period, scoring 40 from 50 balls to lift Australia to 60-4. He had scored two centuries in his previous five ODI innings and seemed set for another large score. But Smith, who likes to move across his stumps and play to the leg side, moved too far and missed a ball from Moeen Ali. He was stumped by Buttler who first dropped the ball but recovered it on the bounce before the batsman could regain his ground.

Ali bowled a sound 10 overs, taking 1-39 through the middle of the innings and Broad returned to dismiss Maxwell and Brad Haddin (9) to finish with 3-55. Anderson remained the pick of the English bowlers, taking 2-38 from his 10 overs.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/

Formula One 2015 Season Pursuit of Mercedes Begins in Jerez

Formula One 2015 Season Pursuit of Mercedes Begins in Jerez

31/Jan/2015  //  491 Viewers

Mercedes, who will also use the Spanish track to launch their 2015 car on Sunday, cruised to the constructors' championship last season, whilst Lewis Hamilton edged out teammate Nico Rosberg for the drivers' title.

Jerez de la Frontera, Spain: Preparations for the Formula One season start in Jerez on Sunday with the first of three four-day testing sessions and with Mercedes looking to lay down an early marker for continued dominance.

Mercedes, who will also use the Spanish track to launch their 2015 car on Sunday, cruised to the constructors' championship last season, whilst Lewis Hamilton edged out teammate Nico Rosberg for the drivers' title.

A series of technical changes at the start of 2014 gave Mercedes a huge jump on their title rivals.

However, with comparatively few tweaks to the rules this off season there should be far more competition at the front of the grid.

Despite their success, Hamilton and Rosberg endured a frosty relationship last season with Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff at one point describing their battle as "two enemies competing for the world title".

However, Hamilton is determined to remain on top for as long as possible.

"Anything less than what I did last year is not going to be good enough," said the Englishman, who won 11 races on his way to a second world championship.

"But I can be better. There are going to be 20 races this year, there were eight races that I didn't win, so you can always get better."

Red Bull were the best of the rest in 2014 despite finishing nearly 300 points adrift in the constructors' standings.

The Milton-Keynes based team came into Jerez last year on the back of four consecutive world drivers and constructors titles but suffered a torrid time in registering a mere 21 laps in four days.

Their performance improved as the campaign wore on, with Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo winning the only three races not won by Mercedes.

However, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel endured a nightmare campaign which precipitated his move to Ferrari with 20-year-old Russian Daniil Kyvat taking his seat at Red Bull.

"After the first test last year, hopefully this one cannot be any worse than that," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said this week.

"We managed very few laps over the four days, with the car either stopping on track or setting on fire, so hopefully we've made progress from that point.

"It's at least been the most impressive winter we've had as a team in terms of everything coming together, with the car being produced in the shortest time ever, the design staff hitting all their headlines and targets."

Vettel has been tasked with restoring the glory days at Ferrari as their quest for a drivers' title stretches into an eighth year.

The German will be partnered by the last man to do so in a Ferrari as Kimi Raikkonen hopes to improve on a disappointing first year back with the Italian giants as he failed to even make the podium once in 19 races.

Vettel's arrival at Ferrari coincided with Fernando Alonso's controversial return to McLaren where he suffered a turbulent one season spell in 2007.

The Spaniard clashed with then rookie teammate Hamilton, whilst McLaren were expelled from the constructors' championship and fined $100 million for spying on Ferrari's technical data.

Yet, Alonso claims he has never been more ready for a new campaign as McLaren launched their new Honda-powered car on Thursday.

"I've never felt better, or more ready for a new season," said the 2005 and 2006 world champion.

"Of course, we're prepared for a steep learning curve, but it's clear to see that inside McLaren-Honda there's total commitment, and a real change in feeling, as we start this new partnership."

Force India are the only team to decide against testing in Jerez, instead opting to concentrate on the second series of testing in Barcelona beginning on February 19.

Andy Murray Out to End Aussie Heartbreak Against Novak Djokovic

Andy Murray Out to End Aussie Heartbreak Against Novak Djokovic

31/Jan/2015  //  471 Viewers

The Australian Open has been a heartbreak Grand Slam for Andy Murray, but he has given himself another chance to finally break through and add to his Wimbledon and US Open crowns.

Melbourne: Andy Murray will bid to end a tormenting run of three losing Australian Open finals as world number one Novak Djokovic eyes a fifth triumph in Sunday's decider in Melbourne.

The year's first major has been a heartbreak Grand Slam for the Scot, but he has given himself another chance to finally break through and add to his Wimbledon and US Open crowns.

To do that the British sixth seed must halt Djokovic's formidable record on the Melbourne hardcourts where he reigns supreme, is four-from-four in finals and into his fifth title decider in eight years.

Djokovic has beaten Murray in two of his three Australian losses in 2011 and 2013, but the feisty Scot has mastered the Serb in his two major triumphs at the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon.

History also beckons for Murray, who became the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years two years ago. He could also become the first Briton since Fred Perry in 1934 to lift the Australian trophy.

Djokovic, chasing his eighth Grand Slam triumph, is the favourite, but Murray carries sentimental support given his travails in Melbourne. The question is whether he is a better player for those experiences.

"I know it's going to be extremely difficult to win the match tomorrow. I know if I want to win, it will probably be very tough and challenging physically," Murray said Saturday.

"So I need to prepare myself mentally for that. But he has a fantastic record here. He obviously loves the court and the conditions. It would be a big upset if I manage to win tomorrow."

Murray, under the coaching of two-time French major champion Amelie Mauresmo, looked impressive in turning over Tomas Berdych in Thursday's semi-final, while Djokovic laboured over five sets to put away defending champion Stan Wawrinka.

While delighted to have again reached Sunday's final, Djokovic admitted "the level of performance was not where I wanted it to be".

For his part, Murray was pleased with the state of his game and proud to be in a fourth Melbourne final in an era dominated by Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

- Good relationship -

Wawrinka had the weapons to leave Djokovic gasping at times running around the court during their semi, which must have encouraged Murray, who while regarded as a great defensive players, is looking to add more variety to his game.

"He's been playing some great tennis these couple weeks," Djokovic said of Murray. "From my side it's going to be necessary to play my best match of the tournament if I want to win.

"There's no clear favourite. But the record I have in finals against him in Australia can serve maybe as a slight mental edge. But not much.

"I'm sure he's going to be very motivated to win his first title here. I'm going to give my best to make sure that doesn't happen."

Up until Friday's semi-final, Djokovic had lost just one of his 74 service games in the tournament. Against Wawrinka his serve was broken five times and that will give Murray confidence.

Murray showed he is capable of making tactical tweaks during his matches to counter his opponents and is expecting he may have to do the same against Djokovic.

"I made some big adjustments in the Berdych match from how things were going at the start," he said.

"I'll need to do the same thing again on the Sunday against Novak because things that you think will work doesn't always work out that way."

Djokovic and Murray have been playing each other since they were young juniors and both teams socialise with each other and get on well.

"There is only week difference (in age) between us. Very similar game and very similar role to professional tennis. So I think that's what makes it very special," the Serb said.

"We have a very good relationship, my team and his team, so we always joke around."

Australia Edge out South Korea in Asian Cup Final

Australia Edge out South Korea in Asian Cup Final

31/Jan/2015  //  516 Viewers

The South Koreans were relentless in attack and with their defensive force-field, which had not conceded a goal in five pre-final matches. But Australia was resolute in taking its chances when opportunity knocked to lift the Asian Cup, their most prestigious football trophy since entering international matches in 1922.

Sydney: It was a game where both sides deserved to win but it was Australia which triumphed 2-1 in extra time to win the country's most prestigious football trophy since entering international matches in 1922.

And the coaches -- South Korea's Uli Stielike and Australia's Ange Postecoglou -- aired expected disappointment and joy when the Asian Cup final finally ended here Saturday evening. The heart-stopping match saw South Korea snatch a draw just 90 seconds from full time at Stadium Australia.

Midfield danger man Son Heung-min received a ball from teammates, who managed to clear the ball from heavy defensive traffic and give him the opportunity to score a 1-1 equaliser.

A crowd of more than 82,000 people gasped as it seemed Australia had been about to win but the estimated 20,000 South Korean supporters were delirious as Son leapt advertising hoardings and ran to their grandstand to rejoice.

The South Koreans were relentless in attack and with their defensive force-field, which had not conceded a goal in five pre-final matches. But Australia was resolute in taking its chances when opportunity knocked.

And it did so against play in the 45th minute when midfielder Massimo Luongo received a counter-attacking long-range pass from defender Trent Sainsbury. Luongo, later named player of the tournament, hammered a rocket-ball straight past South Korea's goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon from 20 metres to put Australia in front after South Korea had been on top.

The second half opened with physical intensity between both teams and several free kicks were awarded to both. Australia's premiere player Tim Cahill was substituted in the 63rd minute by Tomi Juric. But disaster struck in the next few minutes when key Australian players Robbie Kruse and Ivan Franjic left the field injured.

South Korea launched a series of attacking raids but Australia held them off. Until Son swooped and settled the scores to push the game into extra time.

It opened with both teams playing as if the game had just begun, showing energy levels and attacking and defensive intensity belying the fact that they had already played more than 90 minutes of regular time.

South Korea goalkeeper Kim punched a near certain Australian goal clear in the 100th minute. Two minutes later South Korea were all over Australia's defence, only to be thwarted by Australian goalie Mat Ryan, who also punched a close shot clear of his goal.

Three minutes later came an extraordinary play which epitomised the way both teams were giving their all. Australia substitute Juric was outside South Korea's penalty box near the dead-ball line with the ball at his feet. Two South Korean defenders launched themselves at him. They tussled, fought and scrapped for the ball for at least five seconds, centimetres from the line.

Then Juric managed to clear and flick the ball to a waiting fellow substitute James Troisi in the South Korean penalty box, who scored a goal.

Play went from end-to-end till the 114th minute when South Korea again took control. The Australians resolutely hurled their bodies at attacking plays, smothering raids with just three minutes to go. With 15 seconds left, South Korea had one final chance but the shot missed.

The final whistle blew. The Australians leapt with joy as the South Koreans slumped to the pitch. Australia were presented with the Asian Cup trophy which captain Mile Jedinak held aloft before the cheering crowd.

Ronaldo-less Madrid too Strong for Moyes's Sociedad

Ronaldo-less Madrid too Strong for Moyes's Sociedad

31/Jan/2015  //  404 Viewers

With World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo missing through suspension, Real Madrid still managed to brush aside Real Sociedad 4-1 to move four points clear at the top of La Liga.

Madrid: Real Madrid recovered from an awful start to move four points clear at the top of La Liga with a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad on Saturday.

With World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo missing through suspension, Madrid were stunned in the first minute when Aritz Elustondo headed the visitors into a shock lead, but they were level almost instantly when James Rodriguez nodded home.

Sergio Ramos handed the hosts a deserved 2-1 lead at half-time before Karim Benzema scored twice after the break.

Second-placed Barcelona aren't in action until Sunday when they host Villarreal, while champions Atletico Madrid take on Eibar later on Saturday.

Sociedad boss David Moyes hadn't lost to Real coach Carlo Ancelotti in six previous meetings when they were in charge of Everton and Chelsea respectively, and Sociedad had already shown their ability to upset the odds with victory over Madrid and Barcelona at home this season.

Moyes's men couldn't have hoped for a better start when youngster Elustondo bulleted Ruben Pardo's corner past Iker Casillas with barely a minute gone.

However, the Basques have yet to win away from home this season and their fragility was exposed just two minutes later when Rodriguez sneaked ahead of his marker to head Marcelo's cross into the top corner.

The visitors then suffered a huge blow when top scorer Carlos Vela limped off after just 17 minutes and the Mexican's absence sapped Sociedad of any attacking threat thereafter as the European champions pilled on the pressure.

Benzema and Rodriguez fired straight at Geronimo Rulli when well-placed inside the area, while Gareth Bale saw a header flash just wide.

Rulli denied Benzema again from a narrow angle eight minutes before the break, but the ball fell kindly for Ramos to rifle home his sixth goal of the season.

Bale missed a huge opportunity to make it three before the break as he took Benzema's pass off the toes of Rodriguez, but somehow managed to fire wide of an open goal.

The Welshman didn't take long to make amends, though, when he teed up Benzema for a simple tap in to put the game beyond Sociedad six minutes into the second period.

Bale was then denied by a goal-line clearance from Inigo Martinez with Rulli out of position.

However, there was no stopping Benzema 14 minutes from time as he exchanged passes with Isco before thrashing the ball high into the far corner for his 17th goal of the season.

Bale's chance to make his mark in Ronaldo's absence was frustrated one final time when he broke clear on goal, but Rulli stood tall again to block with his legs.

Daniel Sturridge Strikes on Liverpool Return While Manchester United go Third

Daniel Sturridge Strikes on Liverpool Return While Manchester United go Third

31/Jan/2015  //  430 Viewers

Manchester United climbed into third place with a 3-1 win over basement club Leicester at Old Trafford.

London: Daniel Sturridge put nearly five months of injury frustration behind him by coming off the bench to score in Liverpool's 2-0 win at home to West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 25-year-old striker had been sidelined with thigh and calf injuries since September, with his inital fitness problems coming while on England duty.

Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock in the 51st minute at Anfield before Sturridge, a 67th minute replacement for Lazar Markovic, marked just his fourth Liverpool appearance of the season by slotting home 10 minutes from time as the Reds bounced back from their League Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea.

Premier League leaders Chelsea will go eight points clear of second-placed Manchester City if they beat the defending champions in Saturday's late kick-off at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United climbed into third place with a 3-1 win over basement club Leicester at Old Trafford.

The Foxes produced one of the upsets of the season in coming from 3-1 down to beat United 5-3 when the teams last met in September.

But there was no danger of a similar revival in the return fixture as Louis van Gaal's men went 3-0 up before half-time through goals from Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao and an own-goal by Wes Morgan.

Marcin Wasilewski pulled a goal back for Leicester 10 minutes from time.

United will only be in the top three briefly if Southampton regain third place by avoiding defeat at home to Swansea on Sunday when Arsenal, also vying for a top-four finish, face Aston Villa at the Emirates.

- Kane double -

Tottenham Hotspur completed a fine week with a 3-0 win away to West Bromwich Albion where Harry Kane scored twice to take his tally for the season to an impressive 20 goals.

Christian Eriksen scored his third goal in two matches and 11th of the season to give Mauricio Pochettino's men the lead at the Hawthorns.

Eriksen, who scored twice in the midweek League Cup semi-final win at Sheffield United that gave Spurs a 3-2 aggregate victory, has become renowned as a late-goal specialist.

But the Denmark midfielder needed just six minutes to put Spurs in front on Saturday when, as he did against the Blades, he curled in a superb free-kick from outside the box.

Kane doubled Spurs' lead in the 15th minute before beating Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster from the penalty spot in the 64th minute after Kyle Walker's cross hit the hand of Joleon Lescott.

Meanwhile Crystal Palace saw a run of four successive wins in all competitions since manager Alan Pardew arrived from Newcastle ended with a 1-0 loss to Everton at Selhurst Park.

Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game as early as the second minute when he followed up after a shot from Steven Naismith was blocked by Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

Second-bottom Queens Park Rangers' dreadful away record continued as they suffered an 11th straight league defeat on the road with a 3-1 loss to former manager Mark Hughes's Stoke City side as Potters forward Jonathan Walters scored his first top-flight hat-trick.

QPR's run of 10 successive away defeats was already a Premier League record and they fell behind at the Britannia Stadium when Walters capitalised on poor defending in the 21st minute.

Walters added a second goal after a neat one-two with Stephen Ireland before Niko Kranjcar pulled a goal back in the 36th minute.

Jermain Defoe scored his first goal since returning to English football from Toronto as he netted Sunderland's second in a 2-0 win at home to Burnley after Connor Wickham put the Black Cats ahead.

Saturday's early kick-off saw John Carver enjoy his first win as Newcastle boss after a 3-0 success away to Hull ended a run of four games without a victory since Pardew's exit.

Remy Cabella put Newcastle ahead five minutes before half-time with his first goal for the Magpies.

Hull claimed an equaliser in first-half stoppage time but Ahmed Elmohamady's effort was rightly disallowed for after the Egyptian punched Andrew Robertson's cross into the net.

Sammy Ameobi made it 2-0 with a 25-yard shot before Magpies substitute Yoan Gouffran put the result beyond doubt 12 minutes from time.

Pakistan Cricket Board in Verbal Agreement with Players Over Contracts

Pakistan Cricket Board in Verbal Agreement with Players Over Contracts

31/Jan/2015  //  298 Viewers

Instead of a three-month central contract, the Pakistan Cricket Board has verbally assured the players that when they return home from the World Cup, they will be issued fresh 12-month contracts backdated from January 1, 2015, according to sources.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has reached a verbal agreement with the national cricket team players, who are currently touring New Zealand, that they do not need to sign the three-month central contract.

"Instead of a three-month central contract, the board has verbally assured the players that when they return home, they will be issued a fresh 12-month contracts (sic) backdated from January 1, 2015," a source said.

The source also said that since PCB had to ensure that the players in New Zealand and Australia were contracted to them to cover issues of payments, discipline and other commercial stakes, it would probably issue special tour contracts now.

"These tour contracts will ensure the board has legal documents binding the players to certain clauses and vice-versa," the source added.

The 15-member World Cup squad and even those 18 who are not selected for the event, had refused to sign the three-month central contracts offered by the board when the team left for New Zealand.

The players led by seniors had expressed concerns over certain clauses and loss of payments in the three-month contracts.

Despite manager Naved Akram Cheema asking them to sign the short contracts, the players stuck to their stance with senior player Saeed Ajmal meeting with board officials in Lahore on behalf of the others to sort out the issue.

"The players contention is simple that when the board gave them 12-month contracts last year after a few months delay and in backdate they can do the same thing this year and there was no need for the three-month contracts," he said.

Another source said the Board's decision to issue the short-term contracts stemmed from the fact they wanted to issue fresh long-term contracts after the World Cup, after it was clear which players were required for which format and in which category.

Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi have announced that they will retire from ODIs after the mega event, while it is also unlikely that Younis Khan will play in the format in the post World Cup scenario. And all three were given category A contracts last year.

"The board decided to end this deadlock over signing of the contracts as it was clearly distracting the players' preparations for the World Cup, so now the matter is sorted out after the verbal agreement between the two parties," the source said.

Djokovic Dominates and Moves Into Australian Open Semifinals

Djokovic Dominates and Moves Into Australian Open Semifinals

28/Jan/2015  //  532 Viewers

MELBOURNE, Australia — Facing one of the best servers in the game, the top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia turned in an untouchable performance.

Djokovic beat the eighth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday evening in the Australian Open quarterfinals, and he did not face a single break point on his serve the entire match.

In the Friday night semifinal match, Djokovic will face the fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6) on Wednesday afternoon.

Djokovic has served dominantly throughout his first five matches in Melbourne, and he has only been broken once in 73 service games (on a double fault on break point in his second-round rout of Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia). More known for his returning and rallying skills than his serving prowess, Djokovic said his new coach, Boris Becker, could be credited with some of the improvement on that shot, which was the German champion’s forte.

“Serve was one of the tasks, one of the things that we wanted to improve,” Djokovic said of his work with Becker. “I know I can’t serve as fast as Milos, but I’m trying to use the angles, the accuracy, align myself to have some free points with that serve. That’s what I used well during this 10 days now so far.”

The fifth-seeded Nishikori trailed Wawrinka by two sets and was behind 6-1 in the third set tiebreaker before he saved five consecutive match points to level the score at 6-6, sending the resigned crowd into unlikely excitement. But with Wawrinka pinned behind the baseline on the next point, Nishikori’s attempted drop shot on Wednesday hit the bottom of the net tape and slid down onto his own side of the court, sending his coach, Michael Chang, similarly slumping into his seat.

The error gave Wawrinka, of Switzerland, a sixth match point at 7-6, which he converted with an ace for a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6) victory and a spot in the semifinals.

“I’m still nervous,” Wawrinka, the defending champion in Melbourne, said in his on-court interview after his narrow escape against Nishikori, the first Asian man to break the top five of the ATP rankings in singles.

“I was really happy because I was not going to get to that ball,” Wawrinka said of the failed drop shot in his news conference. “Yeah, I had the wind with me, so it was not easy to make a drop shot, especially at that moment. No, it was a crazy tiebreak, but good tiebreak. Good to finish in three sets.”

After his run to the final of the United States Open last year, which included a five-set win over Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, many thought Nishikori was poised to move one step further at this tournament. Still, he said he believed that reaching the last eight of this tournament was a strong result.

“It’s not easy, come quarterfinal Grand Slams,” he said. “I have to keep doing this. I mean, I could be better. But, you know, I think I need, kind of, this experience, playing tough all the time, playing a lot of matches. Especially Grand Slam, there is more pressure. I don’t know — you get more experience on Grand Slams, I think.”

Plenty of fans from Nishikori’s native Japan, many in face paint and kimonos, flocked to Rod Laver Arena to watch him at a tournament that has called itself the “Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific.” But it was Wawrinka who looked at home from the start, taking early break leads in each of the second and third sets and overpowering Nishikori consistently, especially with his serve. Wawrinka won 86 percent of points in the match on his first serve and struck 20 aces to Nishikori’s six.

Over all, he hit twice as many winners as Nishikori, 46 to 23. Wawrinka, who is trying to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time in his career, said he believed his game was even better than it was here last year, when he beat Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to his first major title.

“I think I play better, but I think we all improve every year,” Wawrinka said. “I’m more aggressive. I’m more confident with my game when I come to the net. Again, it’s a Grand Slam. You play every two days. Today was a great level, was a great match. Now I’m going to enjoy a little bit, watch who’s going to win tonight and get ready for the semifinal.”

Wawrinka and Djokovic have played grueling five-setters each of the previous two years in Melbourne, with Djokovic prevailing 12-10 in the fifth set in the fourth round in 2013, and Wawrinka avenging that loss with a 9-7 edge in the fifth set in the quarterfinals last year.

“You know when you play Novak, especially in a semifinal in a Grand Slam, you have to play your best game,” Wawrinka said. “You have to play your best tennis if you want to push him. So far, I’m playing great. I’m confident with my game. I’m happy I won in three sets today. Let’s see.”

Djokovic, who also won in five sets against Wawrinka in the semifinals of the 2013 United States Open, said he was prepared for another grueling match.

“I’m ready for the battle,” he said. “When we played last three Grand Slam matches, they were the finals stages of a Grand Slam, semifinals, quarterfinals. Grand Slams are the tournaments where you want to perform your best. I’m sure we both are very much aware of that fact, and it’s why we get to play on a high level against each other and we push each other to the limit, in a way.”

Djokovic said he would watch the footage of his loss to Wawrinka last year here, which he has not previously brought himself to revisit.

“Probably now is the time,” he said, grimacing playfully. “I will not watch the last point of that match. Everything else is fine.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/

Knicks, Nets NBA Games in New York Postponed as Storm Approaches

Knicks, Nets NBA Games in New York Postponed as Storm Approaches

27/Jan/2015  //  631 Viewers

National Basketball Association games scheduled for tonight in New York have been postponed because of expected severe weather conditions.

The Sacramento Kings at New York Knicks game has been rescheduled for at 7 p.m. March 3 at Madison Square Garden (MSG:US), while the Portland Trailblazers at Brooklyn Nets game has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. April 6 at the Barclays Center, the NBA said.

As much as 24 inches of snow may fall in New York, while Boston and eastern New England may see 36 inches, the National Weather Service said. Philadelphia could get 8 inches.

Thousands of flights have been canceled and commuter rail service around New York City will close tonight. Northeast governors and mayors have told people to prepare for the storm and stay off the roads.

Source: http://www.businessweek.com/
Rafael Nadal ousted in Australian Open quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal ousted in Australian Open quarterfinals

27/Jan/2015  //  569 Viewers

MELBOURNE, Australia — Rafael Nadal has joined Roger Federer on the sidelines at the Australian Open, taking their combined 31 Grand Slam singles titles with them.

On the women's side, second-seeded Maria Sharapova, who beat Eugenie Bouchard on Tuesday, and Ekaterina Makarova are still around and will play an all-Russian semifinal.

Nadal's lack of match fitness from nearly six months of injuries and illness finally caught up with the 14-time major champion in his quarterfinal match against Tomas Berdych. He was never much of a factor and lost 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (5).

The third-seeded Nadal said before the tournament that his inactivity over the last half of 2014 made him unlikely to win more than a few rounds. Coming into the Australian Open, Nadal had played only eight matches since last June because of a right wrist injury and appendix surgery in November.

Federer, who has 17 major titles, including four in Australia, departed Melbourne Park after an upset third-round loss to Andrea Seppi.

Nadal said he was surprised to have advanced as far as he did in Melbourne.

“It is obvious that I needed something more to be more competitive,” Nadal said. “As I said when I arrived here, the process always is not easy. When you have injuries, comebacks are difficult. But without being at my top level of tennis, I was able to be here in quarterfinals. Is not a bad result at all for me.”

Berdych said, “I was ready for everything and I think that was the difference … when you're playing Rafa you have to keep going to the last point.”

The seventh-seeded Berdych, who had lost 17 straight matches to Nadal, will play sixth-seeded Andy Murray in the semifinals after the British player beat local hope Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 in a night match.

Kyrgios came back from two sets down and saved a match point in the fourth round Sunday before beating Italian Andreas Seppi, the player who had eliminated Federer, but there was no such comeback on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old Kyrgios, who walked onto the court with his headphones on and gave two thumbs-up to the crowd, was at his crowd-pleasing best. After hitting a backhanded drop shot at the net for winner in the second set, he spread out his arms for applause, and in the third set, he hit a between-the-legs shot that Murray easily returned.

“It was a tricky match,” Murray said. “I tried to start as quick as possible because I know how dangerous Nick is. He's a huge hitter of the ball, so I tried to keep it out of his strike zone as much as possible. Thankfully it worked.”

Sharapova moved closer to another Australian Open title, defeating 20-year-old Bouchard 6-3, 6-2.The Russian made all the big points look easy and advanced to play Makarova, who earlier beat third-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0.

“I felt pretty good from the start, didn't feel I had too many letdowns,” Sharapova said, adding that her close call in the second round — facing two match points against a qualifier — sharpened her focus for the rest of the tournament.

The last time Sharapova and Bouchard met — in the semifinals at the French Open last year — Bouchard won the first set before Sharapova came back to take the next two. The Russian then won the title at Roland Garros.

This time, Bouchard, who made the finals of Wimbledon and two other Grand Slam semis last year, didn't come close to taking a set, looking flat from the outset while being broken in her opening service game. The Genie Army, a group of young Australian men who croon about the Canadian player, was left to sing another day.

“She didn't give me many chances, and against the great players you have to take any chances you can get,” Bouchard said.

The other women's semifinalists will be determined on Wednesday when No. 1-ranked Serena Williams plays last year's finalist, Dominika Cibulkova, and Venus Williams, playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in nearly five years, takes on 19-year-old American Madison Keys.

If the Williams sisters play each other in the semifinals, it would be their first meeting in a Grand Slam tournament since the Wimbledon final in 2009 — won by Serena.

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/