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Monday, September 22, 2008

37th Ryder Cup 2008 - USA v Europe

Victorious United States captain Paul Azinger said the passionate support of the home fans had been the key factor in his team regaining the Ryder Cup.

The Valhalla fans were vociferous throughout as the US ended Europe's recent domination with a 16½-11½ win.

"It was a great day - I'm proud of my players, they really ground it out," Azinger told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The crowd energised our players for the whole week - the 13th man really made the difference."

But Azinger's verdict on the home fans was not shared by Europe's Lee Westwood, who said the conduct of some of the galleries had been "shameful" and worse than at the infamous Brookline event in 1999.

Azinger sent out Anthony Kim first off to take on European talisman Sergio Garcia, and saw the debutant pull off a famous 5&4 victory to set the day off on the right note for the US.

"It is the best day of my golfing life," said the 23-year-old.

"I wanted to come out here and give the fans what they wanted to see. I got chills up my spine the whole day and I'm loving every minute of it. I wouldn't trade this for $10m."

Victories for Europe's Robert Karlsson and Justin Rose raised European hopes, but the US players in the middle of the order - Kenny Perry, Boo Weekley, JB Holmes and Jim Furyk - all won to get Azinger's team over the finishing line and spark huge celebrations, despite four matches still being contested out on the course.

Azinger's team, which included six debutants and four wildcards, took a two-point lead into the final day's singles, and the 48-year-old admitted he felt helpless watching the action unfold on the course.

"I felt so much pressure but I had no control," said Azinger.

"I watched these guys play with heart, instinct, and courage and I'm so happy.

"These guys earned it and they really deserved it."

Furyk, who won the crucial point against Miguel Angel Jimenez to take the US to the 14½ required, said the victory felt all the sweeter for him after experiencing the last three unsuccessful campaigns.

"It feels great. I've been on the other side when Paul McGinley won it for Europe," said Furyk.

"I feel bad about Miguel because he's a class act and I think the world about him and his game.

"It's not his fault and I feel bad for him, but I feel great for my team-mates

"Paul shook things up, we had a lot of young talent and that made the difference. He provided a great atmosphere."

"I think excitement is the emotion everyone feels," said Mickelson.

"No-one expected us to play well this week and we were here without our number one player (Tiger Woods).

"The Europeans played great golf on Saturday and could only make a one-point dent in our lead. Look at how our young guys played - the Kentucky guys (Perry and Holmes) ultimately won us this match.

"It was awesome. I had so much fun with Anthony Kim (who he was paired with in the fourballs and foursomes). I've been laughing all week with him.

"We had six guys that have only seen victory. A lot of the guys won't have the baggage of the last decade but it's only one win and nothing like what the Europeans have done in the last nine years."


C Campbell P 3 - W 2 L 1 H 0 (2 pts)

S Cink P 3 - W 1 L 2 H 0 (1 pt)

B Curtis P 3 - W 1 L 1 H 1 (1½ pts)

J Furyk P 4 - W 2 L 1 H 1 (2½ pts)

JB Holmes P 3 - W 2 L 0 H 1 (2½ pts)

A Kim P 4 - W 2 L 1 H 1 (2½ pts)

J Leonard P 4 - W 2 L 1 H 1 (2½ pts)

H Mahan P 5 - W 2 L 0 H 3 (3½ pts)

K Perry P 4 - W 2 L 1 H 1 (2½ pts)

S Stricker P 3 - W 0 L 2 H 1 (½ pt)

B Weekley P 3 - W 2 L 0 H 1 (2½ pts)


Spain knock US out of Davis Cup

Spain's Rafael Nadal beat Andy Roddick in straight sets to put defending champions the United States out of this year's Davis Cup.

Nadal's 6-4 6-0 6-4 win gave Spain an unassailable 3-1 lead, taking them through to the final where they will face Argentina, who beat Russia 3-2.

The world number one was in imperious form on the clay in Madrid, breaking Roddick's serve five times.

David Ferrer and Sam Querrey's final singles match is now a dead rubber.

Playing at the Las Ventas bullfighting arena, Nadal put Roddick to the sword with his array of passing shots winning a huge ovation from the partisan home crowd.

It is the latest chapter in a dream year for Nadal, coming after his wins at the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympics and his claiming of the number one spot.

US pairing Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish had kept their team's hopes alive on Saturday with a thrilling 4-6 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-4 defeat of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in the doubles.

Fish was only playing because of a shoulder injury to Bryan's usual partner, his brother Bob.

But after a hesitant start that saw Lopez and Verdasco take the opening set, he proved to be a strong partner.

Nadal had survived an early scare against Davis Cup debutant Querrey before winning in four sets in Friday's opener.

The French Open and Wimbledon champion initially struggled to contain Querrey's powerful serve and forehand and had to recover from the initial shock of being put on the back foot by an opponent just out of his teens.

The 20-year-old took the first set on a tie-break but Nadal fought back to win 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3 6-4.

In Friday's second match world number five Ferrer rallied to beat Roddick 7-6 (7-2) 2-6 1-6 6-4 8-6.

Spain will play Argentina in the final in November after they completed a 3-2 win over Russia in Buenos Aires.

Russia's Nikolay Davydenko came from behind to beat David Nalbandian 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-0, bringing his side level at 2-2.

But Argentina secured victory when Juan Martin del Potro defeated Igor Andreev 6-4 6-2 6-1 in the decisive encounter.

On Friday, Nalbandian had swept Andreev aside to claim a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 6-4 win but Del Potro's victory over Davydenko was even more one-sided, the 19-year-old dropping only seven games against the world number six on his way to a 6-1 6-4 6-2 win.

Elsewhere in the Davis Cup, Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka teamed up for the first time since winning Olympic gold in Beijing to clinch Switzerland's place in the elite World Group.

They beat Belgium's Xavier Malisse and Olivier Rochus 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 6-3 on Saturday, giving the Swiss an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Individually they had got off to a perfect start on Friday, as world number nine Wawrinka eventually beat 58th-ranked Steve Darcis 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 6-3 2-6 6-4 in the first singles match.

US Open champion Federer saw off world number 95 Kristof Vliegen 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-2.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Sachin Tendulkar Fit to play in Irani Cup tie against Delhi

A fit-again Sachin Tendulkar is all set to get back into his groove after a poor run with the bat in the three-Test series against Sri Lanka by taking part in the Irani Cup tie for Rest of India against Delhi at Vadodara later in September.

"I will be participating in the Irani Trophy. Just now I'm fine," declared the master batsman at a promotional event for Aviva Insurance of which he is a brand ambassador.

The selectors will choose on Monday a near-strength Test squad for the annual tie from September 24-28 between last season's Ranji Trophy champions (Delhi) and the Rest of India and are expected to name Tendulkar in the squad.

Tendulkar had to miss the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, after being a part of the Test squad under Anil Kumble that lost the series to the home team 1-2, after sustaining an elbow injury while fielding in the third and final match at Colombo.

He returned home and was replaced in the ODI squad by S Badrinath. The champion batsman could muster only 95 runs at a very dismal average of 15.83 per innings with 31 in the second innings of the second Test at Galle, won by India, as his highest score in the three-match Test rubber.

Before the series, the ace batsman, who appeared in his 150th Test in Colombo, was only 172 runs adrift of overtaking West Indian great Brian Lara as the highest run getter in Tests, but fell way short of that target.

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Serena Williams plans new era of dominance

New world number one Serena Williams warned her rivals she had a renewed passion for the sport after capturing her third US Open title.

The 26-year-old's win over Jelena Jankovic earned her top spot in the rankings for the first time since 2003.

"I feel like I have a new career. I feel so young and I feel so energised to play every week," she said.

"I feel there's just so much that I can do in my career yet and I've never felt like I've played my best tennis."

Williams defeated second seed Jankovic 6-4 7-5 in Sunday's final, which had been delayed from Saturday because of heavy rain.

Jankovic, who would have become world number one with victory, had four set points in the second set but Williams came through to wrap up her ninth Grand Slam title.

Williams, who last won the US Open in 2002, put her renaissance down to a new dedication to fitness.

"I've been working so hard all year. Sometimes I wake up at like six in the morning to go practice and if it was too dark, I would have to wait until it gets light," she said.

"It's just paying off. No one really, really knows the work that an athlete puts in. You know, it's worth it. Then I felt like, 'Gosh, I've been working the hardest. I should win'."

Williams did not drop a set at the tournament as she became only the sixth woman in the Open era to win nine or more Grand Slam titles.

"This is cool, because I'm at number nine. I'm knocking at the door of double digits," she said.

"I have the game to do it. I obviously play well in Australia, and that's coming up soon, so maybe there. I have to win another French Open and I love Wimbledon. I love winning Grand Slams, so I look forward to it."

Jankovic, 23, declared herself satisfied with her efforts after reaching her first Grand Slam final.

"I had a great two weeks," she said.

"I really fought hard out there every match and tonight I gave everything I had. Unfortunately it was not enough."

However, Jankovic admitted she was annoyed that Williams had been allowed too much time between points as the American tired in the second set.

"I felt she was tired and I really had my chances," she said.

"I really was a little bit upset about the umpire, you know. She (Williams) took quite a lot of time in between the points and I thought it was not fair.

"She took her time to recover and get back. But you can talk all day about this. I lost, she won. That's what counts."

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Ganguly,Yuvraj, Rohit left out of Rest of India team for Irani Trophy

Sourav Ganguly was not included in the Rest of India squad for the Irani Trophy match against Ranji Trophy champions Delhi, to be played in Baroda, from September 24-28.

Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma were also left out of the 14-man squad, announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in Mumbai on Monday.

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni leads India's charge at ICC Awards

Mahendra Singh Dhoni leads India's charge at the LG ICC Awards 2008 with nominations in two categories, the International Cricket Council announced on Monday.

Dhoni, India's one-day and Twenty20 International (T20I) captain, is nominated for two prizes ---- the ODI Player of the Year and the Twenty20 International Performance of the Year ---- the latter for his captaincy in leading India to the inaugural title in South Africa last September.

The shortlists for the ICC Awards 2008 are as follows:

Cricketer of the Year
Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Mahela Jayawardena
Graeme Smith
Dale Steyn

ODI Player of the Year
Nathan Bracken
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Sachin Tendulkar
Mohammad Yousuf

Test Player of the Year
Shivnarine Chanderpaul
Mahela Jayawardena
Jacques Kallis
Dale Steyn

Emerging Player of the Year
Stuart Broad
Ajantha Mendis
Morne Morkel
Ishant Sharma

Associate Player of the Year
Ryan ten Doeschate
Alex Obanda
Niall O'Brien
Thomas Odoyo

Twenty20 International Performance of the Year
Chris Gayle
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Brett Lee
Yuvraj Singh

Women's Player of the Year
Nicola Browne
Charlotte Edwards
Lisa Sthalekar
Claire Taylor

Spirit of Cricket
New Zealand
Sri Lanka
West Indies

Umpire of the Year
Mark Benson
Aleem Dar
Steve Davis
Rudi Koertzen
Simon Taufel

The nominations for six of the awards were made by a five-man ICC selection panel chaired by West Indies legend Clive Lloyd .The panel also includes former Australia captain Greg Chappell , ex-South Africa all-rounder Shaun Pollock, former Sri Lanka opener Sidath Wettimuny and former Bangladesh batsman Athar Ali Khan. This panel will also select the ICC Test and ODI teams of the year.

The winners of these six individual awards will be voted upon by a 25-person panel from around the world, made up of renowned former players, respected members of the media, and an elite umpire and elite match referee.

Based on the 12 months between August 9, 2007 and August 12, 2008, the ICC Awards 2008 will take into account performances by players and officials in a remarkable period for the game. That period includes the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 2007 in South Africa.

The ICC Awards ceremony is now in its fifth year and this will be the first time it has been staged in Dubai. Previous ceremonies were held in London (2004), Sydney (2005), Mumbai (2006) and Johannesburg (2007).

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Lewis Hamilton stripped of Belgian Win - Belgian Grand Prix

Hamilton leads at the first corner in the McLaren while Kimi Raikkonen claims second spot from Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was stripped of a dramatic victory in the Belgian Grand Prix after stewards handed him a 25-second post-race penalty.

The Englishman was demoted to third place behind Ferrari's Felipe Massa and BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld.

He was accused of gaining an advantage by cutting the Spa circuit's Bus Stop chicane in a late-race battle with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

McLaren announced that they intend to appeal against the stewards' decision.

The demotion meant Hamilton's lead over Massa in the title chase cut to two points.

Massa's team-mate Raikkonen, who crashed out of second place shortly after losing the lead, is 19 points behind Hamilton.

Raikkonen is a point behind BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica.

Before the penalty, Hamilton had extended his lead over the Brazilian to eight points, with Raikkonen effectively out of the running on 23.

On the track, Hamilton had survived a frantic last two laps in a late shower of rain to apparently score a superb win.

Hamilton lost the lead to Raikkonen with an early spin but fought back in the closing laps to re-take the lead with two laps to go.

In a dramatic climax on a soaking track, Hamilton passed Raikkonen, lost the lead again with a spin, re-took it and then saw Raikkonen crash.

In a chaotic final couple of laps, Heidfeld jumped from eighth to third place on the track with what he called a "hero or zero decision" to come in for wet-weather tyres with two laps to go.

Renault's Fernando Alonso chose the same tactic a lap later and it secured the double world champion the fourth place he had held for much of the race.

"It was an experience and a half," Hamilton said before his penalty was announced. "I was praying for rain. I wanted it to come because I knew how to deal with it.

"The heavens opened and I saw Kimi begin to back off and to brake a bit earlier.

"I was going reasonably wide at Turn 12 but Rosberg spun and went off where I was coming back on. I went over the grass. It was incredibly tough.

"Kimi pushed me wide. I was a little bit ahead. I was outside on Turn One, I had no room and he basically pushed me so I went on the escape route.

"So I let him past, then got in his tow and he was ducking and diving left and right but I managed to get past him and I was pretty much gone from there."

It was another superb performance in the wet from Hamilton, who has inherited Michael Schumacher's mantle as Formula One's rain master.


McLaren to fight Lewis Hamilton penalty - Belgian Grand Prix

McLaren have said they intend to fight the punishment that stripped Lewis Hamilton of his Belgian Grand Prix win.

Stewards hit the Englishman with a 25-second penalty, demoting him to third, for cutting a chicane as he battled with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

But a McLaren spokesman said: "Having passed the lead back to Kimi, Lewis repositioned, moving his car across and behind Kimi to the right-hand line.

"He then outbraked him into the hairpin. We intend to appeal."

McLaren have seven days to decide whether to go ahead with the appeal.

If they do, it would be formally lodged by the UK's national sporting authority, the Motor Sports Association, with Formula One's governing body the FIA.

There is also some debate about whether the rules allow for teams to appeal against a time penalty - but that would be decided by the FIA court of appeal if the case comes before it.

The incident that led to the penalty arrived at the end of lap 42 as the rain Hamilton had been praying for duly arrived.

It allowed F1's wet-weather king to reel in leader Raikkonen and on the approach to the Bus Stop chicane, he had the Finn in his sights.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

US Open 2008 Men's Semi Final Photos

Actor Will Ferrell was among the stars enthralled by the action on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court

Murray forced the pace early in the fourth set but could not convert seven break points in the second game

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray resumed their rain-interrupted semi-final on Sunday. Nadal, trailing by two sets, hit back to take the third

Murray clinched the biggest win of his life when he chased down a Nadal drop shot for a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 win

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US Open 2008 Women's Final Photos

Anita Baker sings 'America The Beautiful' as the pre-match ceremony takes place ahead of the women's final

An overjoyed Williams converts her second championship point to land her third US Open title, and first since 2002

Williams celebrates both her ninth Grand Slam title and a return to the top of the rankings

American legend Billie Jean King is on hand to perform the coin toss

Williams and Jankovic share a joke after one of the more memorable US Open finals

Model Naomi Campbell (right) and Russian billionaire boyfriend Vladislav Doronin enjoy the action

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Serena Williams wins U.S. Open and returns to no. 1

Serena Williams saw off a valiant display from Serbia's Jelena Jankovic to win her third US Open title and regain the world number one ranking.

The American, 26, came through 6-4 7-5 in a fantastic match to secure her ninth Grand Slam title.

Jankovic, 23, was playing in her first Grand Slam final but made the better start before Williams fought back with three breaks to win the opening set.

And Williams sealed victory after saving four set points in the second.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I wasn't even going for number one and it's just like an added bonus.

"It is that special because I've been working so hard."

She has now won one French Open, two Wimbledon, three Australian Open and three US Open titles, adding to her victories of 1999 and 2002 in New York.

The final had been rescheduled after the remnants of tropical storm Hanna forced a postponement from Saturday for the first time since 1974.

It was worth the wait, with both players lurching between world-class winners and desperately nervous errors in a matter of moments.

Grand Slam final debutante Jankovic made the more confident start, breaking as early as game three, but Williams recovered from 0-40 in the following game to level.

An ill-timed Jankovic double-fault contributed to another break of serve two games later but Williams failed to serve out at 5-3, netting a backhand on the third break point of the game.

All Jankovic's good work was undone almost immediately, however, when she fell 0-40 down in the following game and sent a forehand long on the second set point.

If the first set had been unpredictable, the second set was something else entirely.

Williams looked in charge with two break points in game two but failed to convert and it was exactly the same story in game six as the American seemed to be struggling physically.

And after the first of several Jankovic complaints to the umpire over how long her opponent was taking between points, the Serb moved 4-3 ahead with a break when Williams played a terrible drop shot at break point down.

Williams appeared to be tiring dramatically but then launched an astonishing comeback, recovering from 0-40 to save three set points when serving at 5-3 down.

The game of the match, and arguably the tournament, followed as Williams stormed 0-40 clear in game 10 before making three unforced errors.

Another Jankovic set point and a total of five break points would go begging before Williams finally levelled with a forehand winner.

A lunging backhand volley saw the former champion hold serve in the next game before Jankovic saved a first championship point with a forehand winner.

With the chance to force a tie-break in front of her, however, Jankovic double-faulted.

And when a second championship point came around moments later, her backhand error handed Williams back the title she last won six years ago, as well as the number one ranking.

"I was proud to be in the finals but I'm always disappointed when I lose," said Jankovic.

"Serena was a better player tonight. Congratulations to her for winning the whole tournament. She was just too good tonight.

"I really had a lot of injuries and struggled throughout the year with my health. For me to be in the finals was a great achievement."

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Andy Murray stuns Rafael Nadal to reach final

Britain's Andy Murray completed a sensational victory over world number one Rafael Nadal to reach his first Grand Slam final at the US Open.

The Scot, 21, resumed the rain delayed semi-final leading by two sets but trailing by a break, and Nadal soon cut the deficit by winning the third set.

But Murray recovered from a break down in the fourth set to win 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4.

He faces four-time defending champion Roger Federer in Monday's final.

Murray is aiming to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title since Fred Perry won the US Open in 1936.

The final will take place a day late, at 2200 BST, after the rain disruption on Saturday that resulted in Murray being agonisingly halted, having won the first two sets.

It brought back memories of Murray's predecessor as British number one, Tim Henman, who famously lost a Wimbledon semi-final to Goran Ivanisevic in 2001 when rain seemingly stopped the home favourite in his tracks.

Murray has already equalled Henman by assuring himself of a world ranking of four after the tournament and he has matched Greg Rusedski's run to the US Open final in 1997.

But he has surely proved himself to be a greater talent than either of his compatriots with victory over the seemingly unbeatable Nadal.

The Spaniard came into the semi-final with a 5-0 record against Murray, having won the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympic title in recent months and eyeing a first US Open crown.

Murray, in contrast, was playing his first Grand Slam semi and had to put a crushing defeat by Nadal at Wimbledon out of his mind.

He did so magnificently - and it was all the more impressive as he effectively had to win the match twice.

Murray had played superbly on Saturday to take charge on the Louis Armstrong Stadium, totally dominating on serve and breaking three times as he forged two sets clear before Nadal grabbed an early break in the third.

It seemed the rain might have come at the right time for Nadal and he began in much more positive fashion when play resumed on Sunday, with the match switched to the 23,000-seater Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Murray managed to earn one opportunity to get the break back in game 12 of the third set but Nadal fired down an ace before converting his second set point.

Both players hit the heights in the early stages of the fourth set but it was Murray who was keen to take the initiative.

After saving an early break point with an ace, the Scot fashioned seven chances to break in game two but Nadal just would not yield.

And having escaped from that crucial game he immediately broke Murray to love and appeared to be closing on a fifth set.

But Murray remained undaunted and continued to press, breaking back at 3-3 as he dictated the rallies and forced errors from Nadal.

A place in the final was within sight now for the Briton and he shrugged off a missed break point in game eight, easily holding serve before setting about the Spaniard's serve again at 5-4.

Murray got a huge slice of luck with a net cord on the first point and at deuce he made his move, darting into the net to punch away a volley before chasing down a poor drop shot on match point and making the backhand pass.

"It's awesome to beat him, a great feeling," said Murray afterwards.

"He's beaten me five times in a row, so that was tough, and to do it in a semi meant it was really difficult.

"With the rain delay yesterday, and it was windy today, there were a lot of different things but I'm happy I came through in the end.

"It was really tough to serve from the near end, it was very windy, so I knew I was going to have chances to break and I just had to hang in."

Nadal stated: "I'm disappointed but at the same time I'm happy. I did a good semi-final and when I arrived I had too many matches on my shoulders. I leave the US Open with positive memories."

He added: "I go on court all day with calm, try to fight as much as I can, going home knowing I tried everything.

"I had my chance in the fourth set. I just didn't come back."

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Cara Black and Liezel Huber win women's doubles

Cara Black of Zimbabwe and Liezel Huber of the United States won their fourth women's doubles Grand Slam title at the US Open on Sunday.

The top seeds beat Lisa Raymond of the US and Australian Samantha Stosur 6-3 7-6 (8-6) for their first US Open win.

Huber, born in South Africa but a US citizen since 2007, said: "I don't know whether to sing the anthem, cartwheel or just encourage you all to vote."

She added: "I am just the proudest American right now."

Black had already teamed up with India's Leander Paes to win the mixed doubles, when she beat Huber and Briton Jamie Murray in the final.

"For Liezel, playing that match against her the other day was one of the toughest matches I've ever played," she said, "so I really wanted to win it for her."

In the junior finals, CoCo Vandeweghe of the US defeated Gabriela Paz Franco of Venezuela 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 for the girls' title, and Wimbledon junior champion Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria beat Devin Britton of the US 6-4 6-3 for the boys' title.

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Weather ends Trent Bridge contest

Heavy rain ensured day four of Nottinghamshire's top-of-the-table clash against Somerset was abandoned as a draw at Trent Bridge.

No play was possible as the umpires abandoned the final day without a ball being bowled.

The result means Nottinghamshire have a four-point lead over Somerset in the County Championship Division One table.

However, Somerset, who face title hopefuls Durham on Tuesday, have one game in hand over Nottinghamshire.


Superb Ramprakash punishes Kent

Mark Ramprakash smashed his 103rd career century as Surrey's rain-hit championship match against Kent finally saw action on day three at Canterbury.

The 39-year-old arrived at the crease at 0-1 after opener Scott Newman had been bowled by Robbie Joseph.

And Ramprakash laid into Kent's attack, smashing 127 off 176 balls with 12 boundaries and six sixes before he was caught off Yasir Arafat (3-42).

Surrey finished the day on 220-5, with Usman Afzaal unbeaten on 31 not out.

A positive result seems highly unlikely after two washout days, leaving struggling Surrey to play for as many bonus points on offer.

Only seven overs were possible in the morning session, but Joseph had enough time to collect his 50th wicket of the season when Newman opted to leave a ball which uprooted his off stump.

But soon after Ramprakash began to find his stride, although he was fortunate to survive when James Tredwell dropped a sharp chance at slip off Joseph when he was on 31.

Opener Chris Murtagh became the first of Pakistani Arafat's three wickets, edging a catch to Geraint Jones, bringing a laborious innings of nine to an end.

Ramprakash brought up his half-century with a cover-driven six off Ryan McLaren, repeating the same treatment for Arafat and Darren Stevens.

Jonathan Batty contributed 13 as he put on 56 with his former captain before he was caught at third man off Amjad Khan.

Ably assisted by Afzaal, Ramprakash maintained his aggressive manner to bring up his 50th century for Surrey.

His brilliant innings was brought to an end when he edged Arafat to Tredwell - the man who had earlier dropped him at the start of his innings - at slip.

Afzaal added a further 30 runs with Matthew Spriegel (16 not out) before stumps.


Paralympic Games begin in Beijing

Fireworks erupt of the National Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games in Beijing Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008.

The Paralympic Games opened in Beijing on Saturday with a burst of fireworks as China welcomed another chance to cement its role as a global player to an international audience.

Thousands of cheerleaders and dancers in puffy, rainbow-colored suits performed a dance routine in the center of the field at the National Stadium before athletes from 148 countries were introduced. The crowd cheered and waved flags as China’s Communist Party leaders and foreign dignitaries looked on.

The guest list included Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, German President Horst Koehler and South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo.

Earlier Saturday, they shook hands and posed for photos with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China’s legislature in the heart of Beijing. Hu gave a brief speech and toasted the games.

“Caring for the disabled is an important symbol for social civilization and progress,” Hu said before raising his glass.

Paralympics Games host Cities

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Andorra 0-2 England

Two-goal hero Joe Cole spared England's blushes as Fabio Capello's side began their World Cup qualifying campaign with a stuttering victory over Andorra.

In Capello's first competitive match in charge, England dominated but were booed off at half-time after failing to break down Andorra's packed defence.

Cole came on at the break and made an instant impact, volleying home Frank Lampard's free-kick on 49 minutes.

Six minutes later, Cole prodded home his second from Wayne Rooney's pass.

It was a match reminiscent of England's last visit to the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, under Steve McClaren in March 2007, when they were also jeered off at the interval and had to wait until Steven Gerrard's 54th-minute goal to break the deadlock against the part-timers.

Again England's frustration grew as Andorra, ranked 186th in the world, continued to hold out and Capello will be relieved that the changes he made at the break paid dividends.

He may have left established players such as Joe Cole and David Beckham on the bench here with that match in mind but it will worry him that their replacements struggled against such unheralded opposition.

Initially, Capello's decision to hand a first start to Theo Walcott looked a good one, with the Arsenal forward involved in two good chances in the first three minutes.

Walcott used his pace to reach a ball on the byeline then sent it across the face of goal and, after Rooney miscued, Jermain Defoe was beaten to the ball by Koldo.

Seconds later, Walcott ran into the area to meet a lofted pass from Rooney but had to rush his shot and clipped the ball narrowly over.

It was a promising start for England but, despite them staying in complete control, that was as good as it got for the visitors in front of goal in the first half.

Capello continued to try to use Walcott's speed on the right flank but he was increasingly crowded out as the match wore on.

And, with Stewart Downing's crossing completely ineffective on the opposite wing, England quickly ran out of ideas.

Too many times the ball was pumped aimlessly into the Andorra area where, with Defoe unable to offer a physical presence, it was easily cleared by defenders.

The travelling England fans showed their discontent as the players came off at the interval and, unsurprisingly, Capello made changes - replacing the Downing with Joe Cole and sending Emile Heskey on in place of Defoe.

Cole had a point to prove after being left out of Capello's last four starting line-ups and immediately looked lively.

He soon made his presence felt too, providing an emphatic first-time finish when Joleon Lescott flicked Lampard's free-kick into his path.

The goal visibly lifted England and John Terry went close to making it 2-0 when he drove a shot into the side-netting from the edge of the area.

A second goal was not long coming, however, and inevitably it was Cole who got it - running on to Rooney's superbly weighted pass to prod the ball past the onrushing Koldo.

Glen Johnson thought he had added a third just after the hour mark but his powerful strike was ruled out because Cole - for once the villain - had drifted into an offside position.

By now England were more than comfortable and Terry also came close to adding to their tally against a side that managed only one shot on target in the entire match and were clearly only interested in damage-limitation.

But there are harder tests to come in Group Six, starting with the trip to Zagreb on Wednesday to face Croatia - the scourge of McClaren in his failed bid to reach Euro 2008.


Andorra: Alvarez, Ayala, Txema, Sonejee, Antoni Lima (Fernandez 90), Ildefons Lima, Pujol (Vales 90), Vieira, Silva (Toscano 65), Jimenez, Andorra.
Subs Not Used: Josep Anton Gomez, Riera, Escura, Moreno.

Booked: Silva, Vieira, Antoni Lima.

England: James, Johnson, Lescott, Terry, Ashley Cole, Walcott, Barry, Lampard (Beckham 79), Downing (Joe Cole 45), Rooney, Defoe (Heskey 45).
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Brown, Bridge, Bentley.

Goals: Joe Cole 49, 55.

Att: 17,500

Ref: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).

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Rashad Evans knocks Chuck Liddell cold at UFC 88

Light heavyweights: Rashad Evans (17-0-1) def. Chuck Liddell (21-6)
How: TKO, 1:51 Round 2
Key moment: Evans, after not having landed many strikes, suddenly connected with a punishing overhand right that knocked Liddell out.
Analysis: Liddell made the same mistake he made when he lost his light heavyweight belt last year to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. He went to throw an uppercut and Evans caught him with a booming overhand right. The win will zoom Evans to the top of the division and places him squarely among the UFC’s elite at 205 pounds. Liddell has lost three of his last four and there at least has to be thought if he’s come to the end of the line of a spectacular career. – Kevin Iole

Light heavyweights: Rich Franklin (26-3) def. Matt Hamill (6-2)
How: Ref stoppage at 0:39 of Round 3
Key moment: Franklin’s ability to continually land kicks to the leg and body and keep Hamill from taking him down most of the way spelled the difference. The low kicks slowed Hamill’s movement and left him open for body kicks. In the third round, Hamill went down from a hard body kick and Franklin finished him with punches on the ground. Franklin has a nasty cut on the side of his right eye but Hamill wasn’t able to connect on it after early in the second round.
Analysis: Former middleweight champ Franklin, in his first light heavyweight fight in more than three years at light heavyweight, executed a good game plan on one of the stronger man in the division. But in moving up in weight, the question becomes how he can fare with the high-caliber strikers at the top of this division. What he showed is strong takedown defense and a good battle plan against someone is primarily a wrestler, something that was his strength as a middleweight. – Dave Meltzer

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Jelimo hits jackpot, Bolt wins in Brussels

Barely two weeks after winning her first major global race at the Beijing Olympics, Pamela Jelimo will be out again to prove her prowess in the 800m in the penultimate race towards the Sh67 million jackpot at the Zurich Golden League on Friday night.Also on parade will be Usain Bolt, the Jamaican who dominated the sprints on the super-fast track of the Bird's Nest Stadium in Bejing, winning three Olympic gold medals and setting fabulous World records in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.

The Zurich meeting has gathered 38 Olympic medallists, among them 14 winners and 50 finalists from Bejing Games, for what meeting director Patrick Magyar calls "the Olympic Games in one night".

The six meeting quest to claim the $1 million jackpot reaches its penultimate fixture tonight and only two athletes remain in the hunt for the perfect series of six victories, which is required to at least have a share of the prize. Jelimo, 18 and Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic, 24 are the only candidates still in the chase.

While Jelimo remained strong to win the gold in Beijing in her seventh race in the two lap event, Vlasic was not lucky enough as she had to settle for silver.

Lucrative league

Tia Hellebaut of Belgium edged her out jumping 2.05m. Though both had the same jump, Vlasic struggled and her statistics were weak on the count back.

The world famous Zurich Golden League, is the first of two remaining events which follow the conclusion of the athletics events of the Olympics Games. The other four meetings were held in Berlin, Oslo, Rome and Paris.

Jelimo surprised the world when she ran a fast race in Hengole Grand Prix a week before the start of the Golden League in Berlin.

This prompted the organisers to give her a wild berth to compete in the lucrative League and she has not disappointed.

She ran a record 1:54.99 which was then a World Junior record a week later she clocked 1:55.41 in Oslo, was unstoppable in Rome as she registered a time of 1:55.69 and lowered her personal best in Paris to 1:54.87 before heading to Beijing.

In winning the gold, Jelimo clocked 1:54.87 ahead of World champion Janeth Jepkosgei who took silver in 1:56.07.

On the other hand, Vlasic jumped 2:03m in Berlin; 2.04m in Oslo and 2.00m in Rome.


Dinara, Serena Qualify for Doha

Serena Williams and Dinara Safina have clinched their spots for the Sony Ericsson Championships, set to take place at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, November 4-9, 2008. The world's Top 8 singles players and Top 4 doubles teams from the 2008 season will compete for the title and a share of the record prize money of $4.45 million.

Williams, who won the Sony Ericsson Championships in 2001, and Safina, who will be making her debut in the eight woman field, join previously qualified Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic in the singles line-up. After the US Open Williams will have at least 3,130 points, while Safina will have at least 3,123 points in the Race to the Championships standings.

"I am delighted to have qualified again for the Sony Ericsson Championships," said Williams, who will make her eighth career appearance at the season-ending event. "It's always an honor to play at the year-end Championships, and I'm looking forward to playing in Doha where I can hopefully show my best tennis."

This season, the 26-year-old American megastar has won three singles titles (Bangalore, Miami, Charleston) and was runner-up once (Wimbledon). She has reached the quarterfinals or better at 10 of 11 tournaments played this year, including the US Open (her only pre-quarterfinal loss came at Roland Garros).

"I am really happy about qualifying for the Sony Ericsson Championships," Safina said. "I think this is the goal for every player, to reach the Championships at the end of the year, and finally my dream has come true."

Safina has had her best season to date, beginning the year with an 11-10 record but going 37-4 since the beginning of the European clay court season, which includes her five match wins in reaching the US Open semifinals. During this phenomenal stretch she has won three titles (Berlin, Los Angeles, Montréal) and finished runner-up three times (Roland Garros, 's-Hertogenbosch, Olympics). Her only pre-final loss in her last seven tournaments came at Wimbledon.

"I'm delighted that Serena and Dinara have both qualified for this year's Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha," said Larry Scott, Chairman & CEO of the Tour. "Dinara has had a fantastic run this year and absolutely deserves a spot in her first Sony Ericsson Championships. Serena is without doubt a true global icon and displaying wonderful tennis this season. Having both players showcase their talent in Doha will be great for tennis fans around the world."

"We're very pleased to see that Dinara and Serena have both qualified for the 2008 Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha," said Aldo Liguori, Corporate VP and Head of Global Communications & PR at Sony Ericsson. "They are top players and their considerable talent makes them fantastic ambassadors for women's tennis. We're sure they will make the season finale one of the most exciting yet."

Sony Ericsson is committed to bringing entertainment, innovation and glamour to the tennis world by creating unique sporting events like the 2008 Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha. This tournament will bring the excitement of the game to a new audience, with Doha set to benefit from the biggest tennis event ever to be held in the region. Sony Ericsson strives to energize the fan experience at the Championships, by bringing them closer to tennis through the integration of innovation and technology, to deliver the best possible sports experience.

The Championships were first played in 1972 and since then the event has been held in such notable venues as Madison Square Garden, New York City; the Olympiahalle in Munich; Staples Center in Los Angeles; and the Recinto Ferial Casa de Campo in Madrid. Former singles champions include Tracy Austin, Kim Clijsters, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Gabriela Sabatini, Serena Williams and Justine Henin. Cara Black and Liezel Huber, defending champions in doubles, lead in the Doubles Race with 3962 points, followed by Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual.

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US Open 2008 Day 13 Photos

There is little Djokovic can do to contain Federer in the first set and at times he is left to applaud the world number two's artistry

Among the spectators at Flushing Meadows is former world number one golfer Greg Norman, the husband of Chris Evert

Defending champion Federer, unbeaten at Flushing Meadows since 2003, looks in sensational form and breaks Djokovic in game four

The Murray-Nadal match attracts a star-studded crowd to Louis Armstrong Stadium including Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend

Djokovic wonders where it all went wrong after Federer breaks twice in the fourth set and is a game away from a place in the final

Nadal shows rare flashes of his usual self as Murray dominates the first set and claims a second break at 5-2 up to wrap it up

A well beaten Djokovic congratulates Federer after the Swiss storms into his fifth consecutive US Open final with a 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-2 win

A nail-biting tie-break sees the momentum swing both ways before Murray battles through for a two-set lead

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Andy Murray leading when rain arrives - US Open 2008 Semifinal

Andy Murray produced a sensational performance to lead world number one Rafael Nadal by two sets to love before rain halted their US Open semi-final.

The British number one led 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 2-3, trailing by a break in the third set, when the predicted bad weather arrived at Flushing Meadows.

They will now return at 2100 BST on Sunday to complete the match, with the men's final to be played on Monday.

Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-2 in the first semi-final.

He will have to wait until 2200 BST on Monday for the rescheduled men's final.

The second semi had been due to follow the Federer match but was moved to an earlier start on Louis Armstrong Stadium in the hope of avoiding the arrival of the remnants of tropical storm Hanna.

Murray went into the match having lost all five previous encounters with Nadal, who has overtaken Federer as the world number one with victories at the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympic Games this year.

Nadal may present the most daunting challenge in the game at the moment but Murray began in blistering fashion.

The 21-year-old Scot broke in game three as Nadal appeared to struggle with the pace on Louis Armstrong.

Murray's impressive serving and frequent serve-volley tactics saw him rarely troubled on serve, and he was equally aggressive from the baseline, crunching a couple of clean winners for the double break at 5-2 as he took the first set.

Nadal fared little better in the second as he was repeatedly pressured on serve, and it was a credit to the struggling top seed that he held off seven break points despite failing to force a single one of his own.

The tie-break was a tense affair, with Murray letting an early lead slip but reeling off three points in a row to take it 7-5.

It was predictable that he would struggle to maintain that high standard and Nadal took advantage at the start of the third, finally earning himself a couple of break points and converting his first when Murray went long with a forehand.

While Nadal's level of play began to improve there was no sign of panic from Murray, and he had just wrapped up another service hold with successive aces when spots of rain began to fall on the court.

Umpire Steve Ullrich tested the footing and made the players wait in their chairs for a few minutes, to Murray's obvious displeasure, but the rain soon began to fall more heavily and they headed for the locker room.

Tournament director Jim Curley later defended the decision not to play both men's semi-finals at the same time.

"We had 23,000 people that wanted to see all four players," he said. "If you split them, the fans are not going to get that opportunity."

And tournament chief executive Arlen Kantarian gave the first indication that a roof will be built over Arthur Ashe Stadium - something that had previously been considered prohibitively expensive.

"At this point it is a question of when and not if," said Kantarian.

"We believe this tournament has reached the point where we are looking seriously at putting a roof on the Arthur Ashe Stadium."

It remains to be seen which of Murray and Nadal gains an advantage from the overnight delay.

Murray hopes to become the first British man since Fred Perry at the 1936 US Open to win a Grand Slam singles title.

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Roger Federer too strong for Djokovic

Defending champion Roger Federer gave one of his best displays of a troubled season to beat Novak Djokovic and reach his fifth successive US Open final.

The Swiss world number two, unbeaten at Flushing Meadows since 2003, stormed to the first set after an early break.

Djokovic rallied to take the second but Federer showed his class and experience to come through 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-2.

Federer will play Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal in the final, which has been moved to 2200 BST on Monday.

Rain began to fall during the third set between British number one Murray and world number one Nadal, forcing the match to be suspended until Sunday.

"This was a big match, I knew it from when I saw the draw," said Federer. "He's been playing very well on hard courts for the last one-and-a-half years.

"It was important to stay grounded because I knew the match could change, like it did in the second set.

"I think I broke his will when I won the third set and then I knew if I played well I could win in four sets."

And looking ahead to the final, Federer admitted he would like another crack at Nadal.

"I won't be surprised if Andy would beat Rafa, but just I think the meaning would be more to play against Rafa here at the Open," he said.

In what was a rematch of last year's final, both Federer and Djokovic held their opening service games in impressive fashion, but Djokovic could not manage to do so in his second as Federer's power from the baseline saw him establish a 3-1 cushion.

Federer denied the Serbian any opportunities to get back into the first set, making just three unforced errors in total.

The second set looked like it too would hinge on the fourth game, when Federer sent a backhand wide to hand Djokovic his first break of the match and a 3-1 lead.

Federer, appearing in his 18th straight Grand Slam semi-final, battled back to 4-4 but then at 5-6, having already saved two set points, pulled a forehand wide to hand the Serb the set.

Defeat for Federer would have seen the 27-year-old slip to number three in the rankings behind Djokovic.

But, after the third set went with serve up to 5-5, the 12-time Grand Slam champion raised his level to secure a crucial break en route to taking the set 7-5.

Federer lost to Djokovic in the semi-finals of this year's Australian Open but there was to be no repeat for the 21-year-old, who made two backhand errors to gift Federer a break in the fifth game of the fifth set.

The world number two never looked likely to relinquish that advantage and did not lose another game in sealing his triumph.

"I think he deserved to win, absolutely," said Djokovic. "I was just a little disappointed from my side that I wasn't able, physically I wasn't able enough to give him a challenge.

"I think I played well that second set, and, you know, was on serve in that third one. Then I was just unlucky to lose that third set and then more or less routine in the fourth for him.

"Overall, it's been a very exhausting tournament mentally and physically for me, so I'm happy that I got to the semi."

And asked if he regretted his critical comments towards the New York crowd following his semi-final win over Andy Roddick, the Serb said: "No, I think they were pretty fair."

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Rain forces women's final delay - US Open 2008

Serena Williams of the US will take on Serbia's Jelena Jankovic in New York on Monday with both the US Open title and the number one ranking at stake.

The match was scheduled to begin at 0000 BST on Sunday, but the remnants of tropical storm Hanna forced a delay.

Williams and Jankovic will now take to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the rescheduled final at 0200 BST on Monday.

It will be the first time since 1974 that the women's US Open final is not played on a Saturday.

Williams will start as favourite as she goes for her ninth Grand Slam and third US title, while Jankovic is appearing in her first Grand Slam final.

The pair have a 3-3 record in career meetings, with one win apiece this year, but the American's huge advantage in experience is expected to tell.

Jankovic, 23, is the world number two and has won six career titles but had lost in four previous Grand Slam semi-finals before beating Elena Dementieva on Friday.

The 27-year-old Williams, in contrast, is ranked third but has won eight Grand Slam titles and is aiming to win her third at the US Open, where she triumphed in 1999 and 2002.

However, Jankovic is convinced the fact that she is finally feeling healthy gives her a chance.

"To be honest, this has been the first Grand Slam that I don't have any injuries, that I don't have any issues bothering me," she said.

"(In the past) I wasn't thinking about, you know, tennis. I was thinking, 'Oh my God, this is hurting. This is bothering me.'

"So I was really struggling and really not playing my tennis and not thinking about my game."

But Jankovic admitted that she might struggle to cope with Williams if the American is at the top of her game.

"Overall, she's, I think, the strongest player on the tour, together with her sister. Nobody has the power that they have. We cannot compare.

"At least I cannot compare to any of them, you know, with their strength. They're great athletes, really. I'm a little athlete. They move really well. They hit the ball so hard.

"If you want to really win when they're in form, you really have to be on the top of your level and you really have to go for every shot and really have to run a lot.

"So it will be difficult, but it's doable."

Williams is keen to play down the favourite tag and put the pressure on her opponent.

"I don't feel expected to win," she said. "I feel expected to show up and do the best that I can do, and I feel like I have nothing to lose.

"I'm going against, you know, someone that's ranked higher than me. She has a lot of pressure to win her first Grand Slam, and I'm just enjoying every moment."

Williams won a tight three-set battle the last time the two played each other in the Miami final in April, and she expects another test.

"I don't know too many people on the tour that can hang in there as much as she can," said Williams. "She's playing well, and she's just going for glory here."

And as for the added incentive of regaining the number one ranking for the first time in five years, Williams said: "Number one is not my goal right now.

"I know I'll get that eventually if I continue to play the tournaments. I just want to be able to win the Grand Slams, and, you know, play and stay healthy.

"And I think the ranking will definitely come."

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Bryan brothers win doubles title - US Open 2008

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan came through a dramatic second-set tie-break to win the men's doubles title at the US Open for the second time.

Seeded second, the Bryan brothers beat Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic and Leander Paes 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (12-10) to claim their sixth Grand Slam title.

The 30-year-old brothers clawed back from an early break in the opening set to snatch it in a tie-break.

And after trading breaks in the second set the Bryans edged another tie-break.

The Bryan brothers have also triumphed at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and twice at the Australian Open, and this latest victory sees them return to the number one ranking.

"This is unreal. Words can't describe it. This feels as good as any win we have ever won. We love playing in New York," said Bob Bryan.

Mike Bryan added: "Just a few points (made the difference). I have a lot of respect for Leander, Leander is a legend. And Lukas is an unbelievable player, he is going to win Grand Slams coming up."

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Australia complete 3-0 series sweep against Bangladesh

Australia beat Bangladesh by 73 runs on Saturday to complete a 3-0 sweep of their limited-overs series in Darwin. The Australians posted a modest total of 198 for five from their 50 overs but sealed a comfortable victory by bowling out the visitors for 125 in the 30th over.

Mike Hussey, who was named player of the series, top scored for the Australians with an unbeaten 57 while opener Shaun Marsh made 30 after scoring half-centuries in the previous two matches.

Bangladesh, who were thrashed in the two previous matches, briefly threatened an upset when they reached 82-3 on the back of a splendid half-century from Tamim Iqbal.

The teenage opener made 63 off 69 balls, featuring five fours and a six, but received little support from his team mates as only two other players making double figures.

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Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso top Spa standings

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso topped the timesheets in Friday's dual practice sessions ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa.

Massa confirmed Ferrari's dominance in Spa with a lap of one minute 47.284 seconds - the fastest of the day.

But it was Renault's Alonso who topped the timesheets in 1:48.454 in a rain-interrupted second practice, which was stopped when Giancarlo Fisichella spun.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton finished third in the first session and then fourth.

Massa is six points behind Hamilton in the drivers' standings and is looking to close the gap by building on his victory in Valencia two weeks ago.

The Brazilian was in a class of his own in the first practice session; knocking out fastest lap after fastest lap in the closing stages as team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton were unable to close him down.

After a spell of testing in Monza, Ferrari believe they have ironed out their technical problems and are ready to launch a renewed attack on the drivers' title.

Ferrari's defending world champion Raikkonen is hoping to use his experience at Spa, where he has won the last three Grands Prix, to propel himself back into the title race.

But the Finn's run of bad luck continued in the second session, when he spun, slid into a tyre wall and dislodged his rear wing.

He finished fifth overall to follow up his second place in first practice.

Soon afterwards, Fisichella spun coming out of a patch of standing water and crashed into a metal barrier before bringing his Force India to a halt on the grass.

The session was then halted for 10 minutes to remove Fisichella's car while officials brushed away the water.

Australian Mark Webber was also caught out by a shower in the second session as he slid into the barriers at Rivage, while Renault's Nelson Piquet also lost his rear wing.

Alonso looked to be taking advantage of a lighter fuel load as he finished top of the timesheets, just 0.050 secs ahead of Massa.

The McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and Hamilton followed the Brazilian home in a reversal of their placings from first practice.

Nonetheless, Hamilton remains confident that he can challenge the Ferraris for a race victory on Sunday in wet or dry conditions.

"This track is a great challenge in the dry, but in the wet it will be so tricky for everyone," the 23-year-old said.

"We're going for the win. We're just as competitive as them. We're pretty much equal with them.

"They have a bit more speed at the end of the straight, but I don't think it will make any difference.

Overall, six drivers - Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Alonso and Webber - set quicker times in the morning run than Alonso in the afternoon.

The two sessions, one played out in overcast, chilly conditions and the other affected by sudden rain, proved just how changeable the conditions in Spa can be and underlined their importance in determining the outcome of Sunday's race.

The drivers return to the winding track through the Ardennes Forest for final practice and then qualifying at 1300 BST on Saturday.


Rio Ferdinand to miss England opener

Rio Ferdinand will miss England's opening World Cup qualifier against Andorra on Saturday.

The Manchester United defender has a back injury but manager Fabio Capello expects him to be fit for the key game against Croatia on Wednesday.

Joleon Lescott, Wes Brown or Matthew Upson could step in to partner skipper John Terry in central defence.

Chelsea midfielders Frank Lampard and Joe Cole are both likely to shake off minor knocks.

England are expected to get their qualification campaign off to a winning start against the Group Six minnows in Barcelona on Saturday, Capello's first competitive game as manager.

In the absence of injured midfielders Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves, Fulham's Jimmy Bullard is pushing to make his international debut at the Olympic Stadium, although Gareth Barry seems more likely to play alongside Lampard.

Some newspaper reports on Friday claimed Arsenal youngster Theo Walcott could make a surprise start with David Beckham being saved for the match against Croatia.

The last time England played Andorra at the Olympic Stadium, in March 2007, a goalless first half led to a torrent of verbal abuse being directed at then England boss Steve McClaren.

England eventually won 3-0 in far from convincing fashion, and Wayne Rooney had to be substituted for fear he would get a second yellow card.

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US Open 2008 Day Twelve Photos

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan defeat Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic and Leander Paes 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (12-10) to win the men's doubles title

Jankovic treats the crowds to a couple of examples of her famous splits as she runs down everything behind the baseline

It is Safina who finds it hardest going as the unforced errors begin to flow

Williams makes a point of apologising for hitting a ball straight at Safina during the match

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Serena Williams to face Jelena Jankovic in final - US Open 2008

Serena Williams will face Jelena Jankovic in the US Open final after the pair came through testing conditions to win their semi-finals on Friday.

Second seed Jankovic beat Olympic champion Elena Dementieva 6-4 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final.

And Williams coped far better than Dinara Safina with the gusty winds at Flushing Meadows as she won the second semi-final, 6-3 6-2.

The women's final is scheduled for Saturday but bad weather is forecast.

Dementieva, who was a runner-up at Flushing Meadows four years ago, came into the tournament on the back of her Olympic gold.

And she carried that confidence into the early stages of the first semi-final, breaking immediately and moving 4-2 up by dominating from the baseline.

At this point, though, the unforced errors began to flow from the Russian and she ended the match with 42, to 22 from Jankovic.

World number two Jankovic reeled off four consecutive games to take the first set, although there was some mild controversy when she appeared to deliberately disrupt the Dementieva serve on set point by reaching for her towel.

The early stages of the second set saw both players struggling desperately on serve, and when Jankovic managed to hold for 4-3 it felt like a decisive moment.

Two games later, Dementieva had to hold serve to stay alive and she failed miserably, handing over two errors and a double fault before firing a forehand long on the second match point.

"I have tears in my eyes," said Jankovic. "I have played in five semi-finals and to be in the final for first time in a Grand Slam is unbelievable. I'm thrilled."

Dementieva admitted: "I just feel like I did too many unforced errors today. She was playing very solid, very safe, especially in the conditions, on a windy day.

"So she was trying to do everything, and I just was trying to go for the winner and couldn't make it."

The second semi-final followed a similar pattern to the first as Williams dropped her opening service game before wrestling control from Safina.

Despite reaching the final in six of her last seven tournaments, including a first Grand Slam final at the French Open, Safina was undone by the experience of Williams.

The eight-time Grand Slam winner is looking for her third US Open title, but she has not won in New York since 2002 and appears desperate to end that barren run.

A picture of calm in comparison with her opponent, Williams dealt superbly with the wind as an increasingly frustrated Safina produced a stream of errors.

Williams broke for a 5-3 lead and staved off a break point in the following game with a bold move to the net before serving out.

Safina then let a 40-0 lead slip to drop serve at the start of the second set and Williams' greater solidity from the baseline, plus her ability to attack the net, proved too much for the Russian.

The 1999 and 2002 champion eased into a 5-1 lead and closed out the match with a big serve, setting up a final that will also decide who takes the number one ranking.

"I thought, OK, if it's so windy then I'm not going to go for so many winners and stay out here and do what I can," said Williams.

She added: "It's so awesome. I'm just happy to be finally back in the finals. For once, an American back in the finals here so I'm really excited."

Safina admitted: "I think I was behaving like a really spoilt girl today. I have to learn from these things if I want to get better.

"If I want to make one step in front, I have to learn to handle my emotions better."

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Usain Bolt defeats Asafa Powell in Brussels

Usain Bolt ended his stunning season by running down Asafa Powell to win the 100m by just 0.06 seconds at the Van Damme Memorial meeting in Brussels.

Fellow Jamaican Powell - who equalled the second-fastest 100m time ever on Tuesday - led until the final 15m, but Bolt came through to clock 9.77s.

Kenyan Pamela Jelimo, 18, won the 800m to clinch the Golden League's entire $1m (£588,000) jackpot on Friday.

Britain's Christine Ohuruogu came seventh in the women's 200m.

Triple Olympic champion Bolt won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in Beijing, setting world records in each event.

But despite winning in Brussels, Bolt got a poor start to the race and admitted he needs to concentrate in future to get it right.

"I still have to get used to the different starters," he said.

Powell added: "Since I've been running, this has been the most exciting race I've ever been in.

"I knew it was going to be a close thing, as I've been running well. But he [Bolt] got me at the end."

Jamaica's Nesta Carter and Michael Frater came third and fourth in the race.

Olympic 800m champion Jelimo secured the jackpot on her own for being the only athlete to win their event at all six Golden League meetings.

She finished in one minute 55.16s, more than three seconds ahead of Janeth Jepkosgei, while high jumper Blanka Vlasic lost for the first time in the series.

Vlasic had a chance to split the jackpot but failed to clear 2.02m to finish second to Germany's Ariane Friedrich at 2.00m on a countback.

Britain's Olympic 400m champion Ohuruogu registered 23.33s in the 200m, a distance she was running in a bid to sharpen up her speed before a potential 400m head-to-head meeting with Sanya Richards at next weekend's World Athletics Final in Stuttgart.

Marshevet Hooker of the US finished first in 22.62s.

"This race is fun," said Ohuruogu. "A 200m is not my thing and after the gold medal in Beijing, I needed to take a short break."

Britain's number one 400m men's runner Martyn Rooney produced an excellent display to snatch second place after storming down the home straight, finishing behind Olympic silver medallist Jeremy Wariner, who was well clear in a time of 44.44s.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Vallamkali a traditional boat race-Nehru Trophy boat race punnamada lake

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Pankaj Advani becomes world billiards champion

Pankaj Advani proudly holds aloft his trophies after beating Geet Sethi in the final on Friday

Asserting his supremacy, Pankaj Advani on Friday annexed the ONGC IBSF World Billiards Championship (point format) with a comprehensive six games to one victory over Geet Sethi.

The 23-year-old Bangalorean delighted the home crowd at Karnataka State Billiards Association Hall with a superlative display, winning 150-90, 151-0, 150-24, 150-0, 86-150, 150-72, 150-12.

After a below-par semifinal outing on Thursday, Advani played with far more focus and swept the first four games in the morning session to gain a position of strength.

Though the veteran Sethi, with eight world billiards titles under his belt, won the first game in the next session, he could not get the momentum going, with his younger opponent dominating proceedings.

Advani said the "bad" semifinal had spurred him to come out with improved performance and it paid off.

"In sport, every day is a new day", he said after the match which promised to be an "epic" encounter before the start but turned out to be one-sided in the end.

He said every day throws up new challenges and it's different from the previous day.

Sethi said inclusion of billiards in the Asian Games inspired him to continue playing the game and expressed hope that it would figure in the Olympics as well. "I am still going strong, I still enjoy the game", he added.

Meanwhile, the time format of the ONGC IBSF World Billiards Championship gets underway from Sunday, with the final slated on September 10.

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Leander Paes- Lukas Dlouhy lose in men's doubles final

Double whammy eluded Indian ace Leander Paes as he failed to add to his mixed doubles title, going down fighting along with his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy against Bob and Mike Byran of United States in a thrilling US Open doubles final on Friday.

Seventh seeded Paes and Dlouhy lost 6-7(5-7), 6-7(10-12) in one hour and 29 minutes which put paid to the Indian's hopes of second title in the season's last Grand Slam after winning the mixed doubles title on Thursday, partnering Cara Black of Zimbabwe.

Paes and Dlouhy had to be content with $120,000 while their opponents were richer by $420,000 for their effort at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 35-year-old Indian, who had notched up his eighth Grand Slam title yesterday, was as usual lightning fast in front of the net and came up with some stunning winners but failed to match the consistency of the Byran brothers.

The Americans were the better side in the first set winning their serves easier than their opponents and at the same time having better returns.

However, it was Paes and Dlouhy who took the early initiative by breaking serve of their second seeded opponents in the third game with the Indian ace producing a forehand winner to go 2-1 up.

The Indo-Czech pair then saved two break points in their serve to race ahead 3-1 with Dlouhy winning two points in the deuce.

But the Byrans broke back in the sixth game with Dlouhy committing a double fault to level 3-3 and then going 4-3 up before Paes saved a break point to hold serve and level 4-4.

Paes produced some lightning fast movements in front of net to come up with a couple of winners at the crucial moments to level the score 5-5 and then 6-6.

The tie-break went on serves till Paes conceded 3-4 lead to the Americans who seized the opportunity to go 6-3 ahead.

Facing three set points, Dlouhy won two serves to make it 5-6 but failed to stop the brothers to run away with the first set 7-6 in 49 gruelling minutes.

The second set saw the Indo-Czech pair coming back strongly after conceding a service break but they squandered four set points in the tie-break to lose the match in one hour and 29 minutes.

The Indo-Czech pair saved one break point to hold serve in the first game but Bob Byran came up with two winners including a fantastic running forehand to make it 1-1 in quick time.

Dlouhy then double faulted to give away a service break to the Byrans though the Indo-Czech duo made a stunning fightback to break even 2-2 in the next game with Paes sending down a thundering backhand volley and his partner making amends by producing a backhand return winner on Bob's serve.

The next six games went on serve but Paes and Dlouhy had to save three break points on the former's serve in the fifth game and almost broke the Byrans in the eighth game but losing out after a long drawn deuce.

Two desperate attempts by the Indo-Czech pair to take the second set with the Byrans serving at 4-5 and 5-6 failed and another tie-break followed.

Dlouhy committed a blunder at crucial moment double faulting his serve, his sixth in the match, in the Fourth serve of the tie-break to trail 1-3.

The Byrans were in an advantageous position at 4-2 ahead at the change of ends in the tie-break but Paes came up with a great forehand return in the seventh to make it 4-3 and produced two good serves, including an ace, to make it 5-4.

But the Byrans were not to be outdone and they fought back only to squander a match point while serving at 6-5.

Paes and Dlouhy then got four set points in the marathon tie-break but failed to finish before finally capitulating to the relentless consistent effort of the Byran brothers.

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U.S. Open Champions : Golf

Here's the list of champions of the U.S. Open, dating back to the tournament's beginning in 1895.
Note: The "p" following some winners' names denotes they won in a playoff.

2008 - Tiger Woods-p
2007 - Angel Cabrera
2006 - Geoff Ogilvy
2005 - Michael Campbell
2004 - Retief Goosen
2003 - Jim Furyk
2002 - Tiger Woods
2001 - Retief Goosen-p
2000 - Tiger Woods
1999 - Payne Stewart
1998 - Lee Janzen
1997 - Ernie Els
1996 - Steve Jones
1995 - Corey Pavin
1994 - Ernie Els
1993 - Lee Janzen
1992 - Tom Kite
1991 - Payne Stewart-p
1990 - Hale Irwin-p
1989 - Curtis Strange
1988 - Curtis Strange-p
1987 - Scott Simpson
1986 - Ray Floyd
1985 - Andy North
1984 - Fuzzy Zoeller-p
1983 - Larry Nelson
1982 - Tom Watson
1981 - David Graham
1980 - Jack Nicklaus
1979 - Hale Irwin
1978 - Andy North
1977 - Hubert Green
1976 - Jerry Pate
1975 - Lou Graham-p
1974 - Hale Irwin
1973 - Johnny Miller
1972 - Jack Nicklaus
1971 - Lee Trevino-p
1970 - Tony Jacklin
1969 - Orville Moody
1968 - Lee Trevino
1967 - Jack Nicklaus
1966 - Billy Casper-p
1965 - Gary Player-p
1964 - Ken Venturi
1963 - Julius Boros-p
1962 - Jack Nicklaus-p
1961 - Gene Littler
1960 - Arnold Palmer
1959 - Billy Casper
1958 - Tommy Bolt
1957 - Dick Mayer-p
1956 - Cary Middlecoff
1955 - Jack Fleck-p
1954 - Ed Furgol
1953 - Ben Hogan
1952 - Julius Boros
1951 - Ben Hogan
1950 - Ben Hogan-p
1949 - Cary Middlecoff
1948 - Ben Hogan
1947 - Lew Worsham-p
1946 - Lloyd Mangrum-p
1942-45 - Not played due to World War II
1941 - Craig Wood
1940 - Lawson Little-p
1939 - Byron Nelson-p
1938 - Ralph Guldahl
1937 - Ralph Guldahl
1936 - Tony Manero
1935 - Sam Parks Jr.
1934 - Olin Dutra
1933 - Johnny Goodman
1932 - Gene Sarazen
1931 - Billy Burke-p
1930 - Bobby Jones
1929 - Bobby Jones-p
1928 - Johnny Farrell-p
1927 - Tommy Armour-p
1926 - Bobby Jones
1925 - Willie MacFarlane-p
1924 - Cyril Walker
1923 - Bobby Jones-p
1922 - Gene Sarazen
1921 - James M. Barnes
1920 - Edward Ray
1919 - Walter Hagen-p
1917-18 - Not played due to World War I
1916 - Charles Evans Jr.
1915 - Jerome Travers
1914 - Walter Hagen
1913 - Francis Ouimet-p
1912 - John McDermott
1911 - John McDermott-p
1910 - Alex Smith-p
1909 - George Sargent
1908 - Fred McLeod-p
1907 - Alex Ross
1906 - Alex Smith
1905 - Willie Anderson
1904 - Willie Anderson
1903 - Willie Anderson-p
1902 - Laurie Auchterlonie
1901 - Willie Anderson-p
1900 - Harry Vardon
1899 - Willie Smith
1898 - Fred Herd
1897 - Joe Lloyd
1896 - James Foulis
1895 - Horace Rawlins

Source: United States Golf Association

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Newcastle begin hunt for new boss

Newcastle have begun their search for a sixth manager in four years after the resignation of Kevin Keegan.

Everton boss David Moyes and former Juventus coach Didier Deschamps are among the names being considered, BBC 5 Live's Jonathan Legard understands.

Moyes was previously mentioned as a possible successor to Sam Allardyce when he left Newcastle in January.

Deschamps, a former Chelsea team-mate of Magpies executive director Dennis Wise, is available at present.

But Legard believes a link-up between Wise and another former Chelsea team-mate, Gus Poyet - currently assistant manager at Tottenham and the bookmakers' early favourite for the job - is not on the cards.

Keegan confirmed he was leaving St James' Park on Thursday evening after days of speculation about his future.

It leaves Magpies owner Mike Ashley looking for his third manager since taking over in June 2007 - and the club's eighth in 11 years since Keegan's first reign ended in 1997.

Moyes, who has yet to sign a new contract with Everton, was among those considered before Keegan returned to St James' Park in January.

Legard said: "Sources in the North-East claim Moyes' name is again in the frame, particularly as his new Everton contract remains unsigned, although I am told that is set to change imminently.

"Whether Moyes would want to work in tandem with Newcastle's director of football Dennis Wise is another matter.

"And whatever his frustrations with Everton's transfer budget, he'll have seen that Newcastle's recent spending power has been flyweight by comparison."

Deschamps, who has also coached Monaco and has previously declared his interest in a job in the Premier League, would fit the club's continental coaching structure.

"Significantly, he's readily available and keen to work in the Premier League," Legard added.

Keegan said his lack of control over Newcastle's transfer policy had been a key factor in his departure and Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers' Association, said the club has to resolve the issue before they appoint a new manager.

"Newcastle failed to create a structure where Kevin Keegan could flourish," Bevan told BBC Radio 4.

"You can't have an orchestra with three conductors. You won't be very successful and people will leave," he said.

"The director of football issue is a broad one.

"If you are going to work with a director of football, what's really important is not whether or not you have one person in charge or not but there is a common purpose and a shared vision and a structure where the manager can actually flourish."

Reports suggest Keegan could be liable to pay Newcastle £2m compensation for resigning just eight months into a three-and-a-half-year contract.

"The dispute between Kevin and the club is in the hands of the lawyers but at no time in our discussions did Kevin talk about compensation," Bevan added.

Keegan's departure has created unrest among the club's fans, who idolise the man who helped them regain their top-flight status as a player and took them to within a whisker of the Premier League title in his first spell as manager.

About 200 angry fans gathered outside St James' Park on Thursday to protest after hearing of his departure, and some were seen scaling the walls attempting to get into the ground.

Since the end of Keegan's first spell as boss in 1997, six other managers have tried to bring a trophy to Newcastle.

Only Sir Bobby Robson, who spent five years at the helm between September 1999 and August 2004, has come close to success.

Robson's side finished fourth, third and fifth in successive seasons and reached the second phase of the Champions League, and the semi-finals of the Uefa and FA Cups.

Kenny Dalglish and Ruud Gullit both guided their teams to FA Cup final defeats, while under Glenn Roeder, they won the derided Intertoto Cup.

But no Newcastle manager has landed meaningful silverware since Joe Harvey's men were victorious in the Fairs Cup in 1969.

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Here are some facts you may want to know about US Open

Most US Open Men's Singles Titles - The most US Open singles tennis titles won by a man is seven. The record is shared by Bill Tilden (USA) who won in 1920-25 and 1929, Richard Sears (USA) who won in 1881-1887; and William Larned (USA) who took the title in 1901, 1902, and 1907-11.

Most US Open Titles Won by a Man - The most US Open Tennis titles won by a man is 16, by American Bill Tilden. Tilden won his first title, the mixed doubles, at the US Open in 1913, aged 20, but he did not achieve his first singles title until 1920. The US Open proved to be his most successful tournament, where he won seven singles, five doubles, and four mixed doubles trophies

Oldest US Open Tennis Champion - The oldest US Open Tennis winner is Margaret Du Pont, who won the mixed doubles in 1960 at the age of 42 years, 166 days. One of those tennis facts that will stand the test of time.

Oldest Men's US Singles Champion - William Larned of the USA was 38 years 242 days when he won the championship in 1911

Oldest US Women's Singles Champion - Maud Barger-Wallach was 37 years 244 days when she won the championship in 1908

Youngest Man to Win the US Open Singles Title - The youngest man to win the US Open Singles Tennis Championship is Pete Sampras (USA, August 12, 1971) who was 19 yr. 28 days old when he won on September 9, 1990.

Youngest US Open Women's Singles Champion - The youngest woman to win the US Open Singles Tennis Championship is Tracy Austin (December 12, 1962), who was 16-years, 271-days old when she won the women's singles in 1979.


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