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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clinical Murray brushes Lopez aside

Andy Murray reached his third successive Wimbledon semi-final by brushing aside the negligible challenge of weary Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday to set up another last-four showdown with Rafa Nadal.

The fourth seed -- desperately seeking his first grand slam title -- was never remotely threatened by the unseeded Spaniard, who seemed drained of energy following his gruelling fourth-round victory over Lukasz Kubot when he came from two sets down to win in five.

Murray, bidding to become the first British men's singles champion at Wimbledon for 75 years, said: "I've played a little bit better every year here.”

"I've been beaten in the semis for the past two years and this time I want to go further."

Coming into a near-empty Centre Court as the dust settled on Roger Federer's five-set defeat by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the one-sided match struggled to produce much atmosphere despite Murray again carrying the hopes of the host nation.
Murray looked a little tentative at first but Lopez, who knocked out number eight seed Andy Roddick in the third round, was unable to take advantage as the Scot dropped only four points on his own serve en route to a 40-minute 6-3 success.

Murray did not have to do anything extraordinary as the Spaniard, one of the few players to use serve and volley tactics on a regular basis in this year's tournament, mixed up the occasional eye-catching winner with a string of unforced errors.

The Scot broke in the fifth game of the second set after finding an impossible angle with a lovely two-handed backhand and won that set too at a canter.

Not until the eighth game of the third set did Lopez force his first break points but Murray saved both and went on to finish with a flourish by sending down three successive aces after only two hours of action.

"It was good. I got off to a good start in all of the sets and that helps against someone like Feli because he serves well," Murray said.

"Normally against the big servers, they like to put pressure on you towards the end of the set but because I got ahead early in all of them, I was able to dictate the points from the back of the court and played a good match."

Murray, into his third grand slam semi of the year, has won only four of his 15 matches against Nadal who triumphed in last year's semi-final here in straight sets.

"I believe I can win against him," Murray said. "I had chances last year -- I was up a break in the third set and had breakpoint on my serve in the second set. I think there was only one break in the first set. We both played good tennis.”

"But I just have to have a better game plan. Sometimes it comes down to strategy. Sometimes it comes down to having more experience. Yeah, just have to go out there and play well and serve well and believe and I'll have a chance.”

"I know how difficult it's going to be. I know what the task is. So I'll be ready for it."

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Barcelona now offers £32 million for Cesc Fabregas

Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas's three-year wait to rejoin Barcelona is all set to end, as the Spanish club have increased their bid for Fabregas to £32 million.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is preparing for the loss of his skipper by signing two new players and is confident of capturing Lille's Gervinho and Velez Sarsfield's Ricky Alvarez - each for £11 million.

Fabregas said: "There is nothing to talk about. I'm calm. If something has to happen it will. I am always optimistic."

"If a player is on the market it's because a club doesn't want him. I have no problem," the Sun quoted him, as saying.

Wenger will use all the Fabregas cash to beef up the Arsenal squad and Ivory Coast striker Gervinho is almost certain to join.

Wenger is also poised for a renewed attempt to get 16 million pounds Bolton centre-half Gary Cahill in the next few days.


ICC issues sanctions warning for government interference

Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been given a maximum of two years to reorganise their boards after the International Cricket Council (ICC) ordered its members to free themselves from government interference or face sanctions.

The ICC annual conference upheld a constitutional amendment to provide for the principle of free elections and the independence of member boards, cricket''s governing body said in a statement on Thursday.

"It was agreed that all member boards must implement the provisions before annual conference in June 2012 and a further 12 months (to June 2013) would be allowed before any sanctions would be considered," the statement read.

"It was a well-established principle of modern sporting governance that national federations should be autonomous and free from interference from government in the administration of their affairs."

The decision means administrative reforms will be required in at least three test playing nations.

In Pakistan, the cricket board chief is appointed by the country's president, who is designated chief patron of the board.

Sri Lanka Cricket has an interim body which requires issues such as team selection to be approved by the sports ministry, while the Bangladesh board chief is appointed by the government.

In a separate matter at the meeting, non-test playing nations expressed disappointment at the governing body's decision to maintain the 12-team format for the Twenty20 World Cups in 2012 (Sri Lanka) and 2014 (Bangladesh).

"The ICC acknowledges their disappointment but the decision to have 14 teams in the (50-over) World Cup and 12 teams in the ICC World Twenty20 is a return to the current format for ICC events," chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.

The governing body's initial plan was to restrict the 50-over World Cup to 10 test playing nations for the 2015 tournament and adopt an expanded 16-team format for the Twenty20 event.

However, an Ireland-led protest from the non-test playing associate nations prompted the ICC to retain the 14-team format for the 2015 World Cup.

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Champions League T20 scheduled to begin from September 23

The Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) cricket is scheduled to begin in India from September 23 and go till October 9.

The tournament returns to India this year with matches in Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata, as well as a qualifying event in Hyderabad from September 19-21.

The tournament will have 10 teams competing. Seven teams have already qualified for the event. A six-team qualifying event will be held for the first time to determine the final three participants.

The teams will be divided into two pools and the top team from each pool qualifies for the group stage, and the third would be the next highest ranked team based on points and then net run rate.

In the group stage, 10 teams have been divided into two groups for a round robin phase. The top two teams from each group would progress to the semifinals.

The group stage matches will be held in Eden Gardens, Kolkata, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, and MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.

Bangalore will host the first semifinal (October 7) while the other semifinal (October 8), and the final (Octover 9) will be held in Chennai.

Chennai Super Kings, the defending CLT20 Champions, have been drawn in Group A along with Cape Cobras (South Africa's Pro20 Series Champions), 2009 Champions NSW Blues and Mumbai Indians. The fifth team from the group will be the team that finishes top of Pool B in the qualifier.

Group B contains Royal Challengers Bangalore (IPL runners-up), Warriors of South Africa (2010 CLT20 runner-up), and South Australian Redbacks (Australia's Twenty20 Big Bash Champions). The remaining two places will come from the Qualifiers (the top of pool A and the next highest qualifier).

The tournament starts in Bangalore with a group B clash between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Warriors at M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

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Gautam Gambhir fit for England, ready with a batting plan

India's star opener Gautam Gambhir today declared himself fully fit for the upcoming cricket tour of England for which he has devised a specific batting strategy to counter the seaming conditions there.

Gambhir, who skipped the ongoing tour of West Indies due to a shoulder injury, reckoned that "mental adjustment" will be a key to the Indian batsmen overcoming the conditions in England and said certain strokes would have to be avoided.

"I am back at my full fitness and feeling fresh both physically and mentally. The pain that I had in my shoulder is gone," Gambhir told PTI in an interview here.

"Before returning from Bangalore I batted in the nets against the likes of S Sreesanth and I didn't feel any discomfort. Even in Delhi I will resume practice in a day or two," he said.

The 29-year-old left-hander, who has 3234 runs in 38 Tests at an average of 51.33, will be playing Test matches for the first time on English soil if he is picked for the series starting July 21.

All excited about the challenge, Gambhir said he is working hard on his game.

"I think it begins with mental adjustment. One has to see the ball early and play it late. For some time now I'm not playing on rise. At the top level one has to tighten up his game and I have done that," said the batsman who has 4073 runs in 114 ODIs at an average of 40.73.

"In England, for first few balls you can't drive on the up till you are very sure. There are certain other strokes one should avoid. The rest I'd do it when I reach there," he added.

In the interview, Gambhir spoke about a range of issues, including his relationship with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and former India coach Gary Kirsten and the cramped international schedule.

Gambhir was still fuming about the furore his IPL stint created after it came to light that he was carrying a shoulder injury while captaining the Kolkata Knight Riders before their eliminator match against Mumbai Indians.

The injury, which Gambhir picked up during the World Cup, eventually ruled him out of the ongoing series against the West Indies, where he was initially chosen to lead the side in the ODIs after Dhoni took a break.

Asked whether he could have avoided the controversy by opting out of IPL after first experiencing discomfort in his shoulder, Gambhir said, "I think the whole episode was a bit unnecessary, just a ploy to sell news. The most unfortunate part was that it somewhat took the limelight away from the good work done by Kolkata Knight Riders."

"I feel sad for guys like Iqbal Abdullah, Manoj Tiwary, Shaqib-Al Hasan, Rajat Bhatia and many more who had done so well in IPL but because of this unwanted controversy the focus shifted somewhat. Look, I have always been committed to the team that I represent, that's my upbringing.

"My family values have taught me to be committed and that's what I do for a club team, state team, country or a franchisee. I know how hard I have worked for my India cap and what it means to me. I can't deride the honour of playing for India," he asserted.

But his focus is completely on England, where India is scheduled to play four Tests and five ODIs, and Gambhir said Andrew Strauss' men are the team to beat right now.

"Well, let me get picked first. If I am, like always I'd put my heart and soul into the effort to get my team to a good start. I think England is the team to beat besides South Africa at the moment.

"They have their tails up boasting a world class bowling attack which has really tall fast bowlers and a spinner who is pretty good as well," he said.

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Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni to fly Sukhoi soon

Star Indian cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will soon don the flying suits, with the defence ministry clearing their flights in Indian Air Force's mighty Su-30 MKI fighter jets.

"Our proposal to fly the two cricketers in the Su-30s has been approved by the defence ministry and we are looking forward to their flight in Pune soon," IAF officials said.

The proposal for flying Tendulkar and Dhoni was submitted with the government by the IAF.

They said the dates for the flights have not been finalised yet and would be done soon depending on the availability of the two cricketers.

After India's World Cup victory in April this year, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal PV Naik had said that he would seek special permission from the government so that Dhoni and Tendulkar could experience a flight in Su-30MKI.

"Tendulkar is already our honorary group captain. Once both Sachin and Dhoni are free from their cricketing engagements, I will ensure that they get to fly Su-30MKI. They have done our country proud and it will be an honour for us," he had said.

At present, Dhoni is leading India in the three match test series against West Indies in the Caribbean and Tendulkar is on a personal visit to England.

Pune-based air force station Lohegaon is the home-base of Sukhois and VIPs including President Pratibha Patil and her predecessor APJ Abdul Kalam had also taken off in the mighty jets from the air base.

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Flooring Roger Federer is my best moment: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga described his incredible comeback to floor Roger Federer at Wimbledon on Wednesday as the greatest moment of his career.

The jovial Frenchman, nicknamed Ali for his striking resemblance to boxing great Muhammad Ali, proved that as well as his crowd-pleasing antics and flashy game he also possesses a fighter's survival instincts and a knockout punch.

After being softened up by Federer for two sets in their quarter-final on Centre Court, the 26-year-old world number 19 countered to win 3-6 6-7 6-4 6-46-4 and earn an unexpected crack at second seed Novak Djokovic in the semi-final.

"I felt so good on the court. I was quick, I was just perfect today. Every time I was feeling like a dream," said Tsonga, who is now in his third grand slam semi-final.

"For me it's the most special because I beat Roger Federer in the quarter-final here on this big court. I like the atmosphere here. For me it's just amazing.

"The feeling is like maybe what it would be like to beat Nadal in Roland Garros, so it's just amazing. For sure, one of the best memories in my career anyway."

At 26 Tsonga's career has been disrupted by too many months recovering from a plethora of knee, back and hip injuries and despite one of the most destructive games in tennis his best result was a run to the 2008 Australian Open final where he was beaten by Novak Djokovic.

After two sets it looked as though he would just become another of Federer's many Wimbledon victims but, after loosening his shoulders, he came back swinging to leave the six-times champion, who had never lost from 2-0 up in a grand slam, reeling.

His victory was all the more impressive as six-times winner Federer did not do too much wrong.

Tsonga was simply ruthless when his chances came along early in the third, fourth and fifth sets and he hammered home his advantage with unplayable service games and fizzing groundstrokes as well as some trademark full-length dives.

Serving at 5-4 in the fifth Tsonga refused to let the Swiss maestro off the ropes, pounding down three juddering first serves to leave Federer no escape route.

"I think I've improved a lot mentally," Tsonga said of his clinical victory. "I'm stronger because I changed a lot of things in my tennis. Now I try to stay focused all the time and just breathe and stay quiet. I did it today and it worked.

"I think I'm the kind of player who likes these big moments. So I hope I will have some more."

Next up is Djokovic again and Tsonga insists he has a puncher's chance of rolling over the Serb.

Asked if he can win Wimbledon, he replied: "Why not?

"I played against Novak many times. He beat me all the time in the big moments and I want change it. That's it."

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Boris Becker empathises with sportsmen who are caught in sex scandals

Former Tennis player Boris Becker, who has had his fair share of affairs, has admitted that he empathises with sportsman who gets tangled in sex scandals.

Becker, who parted ways with his wife following his brief fling, also expressed sympathy for Tiger Woods and other high-profile people.

"Sportsmen and women are human beings, we’re not perfect, nor do we claim to be," the Age quoted Becker as saying.

"I can empathise with high-profile people who find themselves in the spotlight in this way. I feel their pain, their embarrassment, so I wouldn’t ever dare criticise anybody’s private life," he said.

When he was asked if sportsmen are more prone to straying. Becker, who described himself as “disciplined and a quick learner” said that it was all about chances.

"No. It’s just about opportunity," he added.

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India to host Pakistan for a cricket series in 2012

India will host Pakistan for three Tests and five One-Day Internationals in March-April 2012 for the first time since 2007, according to the Future Tours Programme (FTP) of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The details of the tour are yet to be finalised as it is subject to government clearance. The tour will be preceded by India's three-month tour to Australia, from December, during which they will play four Tests and 8-11 ODIs.

India will also play five ODIs and a Twenty20 against England in October. The English team will be arrive in Hyderabad on October 4 and will play two warm-up matches on October 8 and 11.

The first ODI against England will be held in Hyderebad on October 14 while the second will be held in Delhi on October 17.

Mohali will host the third ODI (October 20) while the fourth match is slated for Mumbai on October 26. Kolkata will host the fifth ODI (October 26) and the only Twenty20 (October 29).

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Wimbledon: Sania Mirza in mixed doubles third round, women's doubles semis

India's Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna defeated England's Jamie Murray and Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia 7-6 (5), 6-2 to move into the third round of mixed doubles in Wimbledon Championships on Wednesday.

The sixth seeded Indian pair will now take on the Czech Republic's Martin Damm and Renata Voracova.

Earlier, Sania and her Russian partner Elena Vesnina entered the semifinals of women's doubles. They edged past the Spanish pair of Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Fourth seeds Sania-Vesnina, who finished runners-up in the French Open, got the better of Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the third round Tuesday.

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'Saina can end Chinese domination'

With 13 titles and former world No 1 tag to his name, Xiong Guabao can easily pass off as one of badminton’s greats. But in a country that has produced ‘n’ number of world champions, and continues to do so, his achievements have gone fairly unnoticed.
Perhaps, that’s the downside of being a Chinese badminton player who has managed to win every other title but the world championship or an Olympic gold. Guabao is quick to admit that but at the same time, refrains from talking much about it.

“I feel the players today are much better. There is no doubt about it,” he said here on Wednesday. “Guys like Lin Dan, who I feel is the greatest ever badminton player, have taken the sport to the next level.”

Such is the Chinese shuttlers’ domination that Guabao believes that no country can come close to challenging them for many more years. That’s until a name suddenly strikes him. “No one. No one can challenge Chinese players. They are way ahead than everyone,” he said via a translator, before interrupting him.

“Saina…” he said, adding, “She is the only one in the world who can end the Chinese domination. That girl, she needs put in more effort, devote more time and prepare herself in a thorough way to do that. But she is the only one capable.” The problem Saina is facing, he felt, was the relatively inferior quality of opponents in the domestic circuit.

“The reason why China is strong is that there are players constantly challenging the ones at the top. But India has only one Saina and that is the problem. She needs more world-class competitors at the domestic level. That will help her a lot,” said Guabao,talking on the sidelines of the launch of Thwack range of sports equipments manufactured by Indian company One Sports.
Meanwhile, managing director of One Group, Akhil Ganatra, said they hoped to make Thwack products available by the end of July.

“We have made an initial investment of around $10 to $15 million. We feel sports will promote a healthier and a fitter lifestyle with a lot of fun. I think the products should be in the market by end of July,” Ganatra said after launching a rangeof badminton rackets andaccessories.

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Coming soon: Kashmir Premier League

Those who are missing Lahore Badshahs or Chennai Super Kings can draw some solace from Budgam Badshahs and Shopian Super Kings!

Thanks to Kashmir Premier League (KPL), the army has taken the battle of winning the hearts and minds in the valley to a new level by starting the first ever Twenty20 tournament in the state. The tourney has brought youth of all districts together to display their cricketing prowess.

Fourteen teams of 10 districts will compete with each other for the prestigious Chinar Cup spanning over a one month from July 4. Besides the trophy, the winning team will get a cash prize of Rs5 lakh with Rs3 lakh going to the runner-up.The best three players of the tournament will be recommended for training at the best academies of the country.

“The first phase of the tournament was conducted in May and June with 193 teams from across the valley taking part. There were over 300 matches at the intra-district level. The best 14 district teams were selected for the final phase”, said a defence spokesman.

The importance of the tournament could be gauged from the fact that chief minister Omar Abdullah will inaugurate the tournament on July 4 at DPS grounds at Pantha Chowk. The chief minister is also expected to watch the inaugural match between Srinagar Sher Dil andBadgam Badshahs.

“The second phase of the summer slam promises to be the biggest extravaganza Kashmir has ever seen. The major districts of Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Badgam will be fielding two teams each while the districts of Kupwara, Bandipur, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Ganderbal will field a team each,” said the spokesman.

To add glamour quotient to the tourney, the army has also gone for a makeover for the teams with catchy suffixes. Sher Dil, badshah, gladiators, tigers, panthers, bhadurs et al have been added to different district teams to attract the attention.

The KPL comes at a time when army is facing flak from political parties over its opposition to the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state.

However, leaving behind the bitterness, the army is now trying to invest in peace in a bid to reach out to the people and rebuild bridges that had taken a hit. “Entry for the opening ceremony and all matches is free. The public is requested to attend in large numbers to encourage the players,” the spokesman said.


Spotted! Celebs at Wimbledon

Singer Jay Z was there without wife, Beyonce as he mingled with the English crowd.

Hollwood actress Dakota Fanning also made an appearence.

Singer and actress Grace Jones was also present.

Former champion Boris Becker

Newly-wed royals the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine (Kate) were there to watch the action on centre court.

Model and actress Brooklyn Decker was there to cheer hubby, Andy Roddick on.

Actress Kristen Dunst added to the glam quotient.

Singer Cliff Richards also showed up.

Sachin Tendulkar and wife, Anjali were also there in the royal box at Wimbledon.

Roger Federer's wife Mirka is always there in the stands for her man.

Rafael Nadal's girlfriend Maria Xisca Perello has started attending almost all of his matches and she does not skip Wimbledon for sure, where he is the defending champion.

Andy Murray's girlfriend Kimberley Sears is always in the stands with mom Jusyn to cheer the Scot on as he bids to become the first player from the UK after Fred Perry to win at Wimbledon.


Rain plays spoilsport on 2nd day after Ishant's double strike

Bad weather combined with persistence of Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to frustrate India as the West Indies reached 98 for five on the rain-hit second day of the second cricket Test.

Indian paceman Ishant Sharma struck twice in three balls to reduce the West Indies to 57 for five in the curtailed morning session after the hosts resumed at an uncomfortable 30 for three.

However, several rain interruptions and some sensible batting by Samuels (21) and Chanderpaul (20) gave India no chance to make further in-roads into the hosts' batting line up.

The two batsmen added 41 runs for the unconquered sixth wicket and batted together for 19.3 overs on a day when only 25.3 overs of play was possible on the day.

The tenor of the day was set early when a shower delayed the start of the game by 45 minutes. There was another break of half an hour after lunch but the resumption lasted no more than eight-odd overs.

Heavy rains lashed Kensington Oval in the second session which forced umpire to enforce an early tea in the hope of squeezing as much play as possible in the final session.

That opportunity never arrived. Even though it stopped raining after a while, early tea was taken and players even came out in the final session. It began raining almost immediately for players to go to pavilion. Thereafter it was poor light which never allowed the game to resume.

The most play possible was in the morning session as West Indies retired for lunch at 82 for 5 from 29 overs.

Both the overnight batsmen, Ramnaresh Sarwan (18) and Devendra Bishoo (13), fell prey to Ishant's bounce with the paceman bowling a spell of 6-2-23-2 in the morning.

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India bullies Daryl Harper into premature retirement

Criticised by the Indian cricket team for his poor decisions in the first cricket Test against the West Indies, controversial Australian umpire Daryl Harper today withdrew from the third match starting July 6 at Roseau.

He will be replaced by Englishman Richard Kettleborough of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires.

The third Test was to be Harper's final match as umpire of the elite panel.

"Emirates Elite Panel umpire Daryl Harper has withdrawn from the third Test between India and the West Indies, which is due to start in Dominica on 6 July. His decision was made despite the fact that the ICC had full confidence in him to officiate the remainder of the series," ICC said in a statement.

Expressing regret over over Harper's decision to withdraw, ICC General Manager (Cricket) David Richardson said the criticism from the Indian cricket team was "unfair".

"In the wake of some unfair criticism, Daryl has informed us that he does not wish to stand in what would have been his final Test," said Richardson.

"The reality of the situation is that Daryl's statistics show his correct decision percentage in Tests involving India is 96 per cent, which is considerably higher than the international average for top-level umpires.

"We have every faith in Daryl to finish the series and while we regret his decision we do respect it. The real shame is it deprives him of the opportunity to sign off as a Test match umpire in a manner befitting someone who has served the game so well since making his international debut back in 1994," Richardson said.

The 59-year-old Harper has stood in 95 Tests, 174 ODIs and 10 T20Is since his his ODI debut in January 1994 at Perth in a match between New Zealand and South Africa. In November 1998, he made his Test debut as Australia took on England in the Ashes at the same venue.

The Indian cricket team had blasted Harper for his poor decisions in the first Test of the ongoing series against the West Indies and a senior cricketer had said that they would not want him in the third match.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did little to hide his disgust at Harper's decisions after the match. "If correct decisions were made, the game would have ended much earlier and we would have been in the hotel by now," Dhoni said after India won the first Test by 63 runs.

The Indians were upset that Harper made at least three critical errors against India -- dismissals of Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and Dhoni -- and three in favour of West Indies -- Darren Bravo (twice) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (once).

Harper also needled the Indians by banning Praveen Kumar from bowling for treading on to the 'danger area' of the pitch in his follow-through in the first innings.

The controversial Australian umpire has given a number of dubious decisions in his career.

The ICC apparently has also come round to the general perception and declared that Harper will stand down after the termination of his contract in July 2011.

Indian cricketers had been at the receiving end of Harper's decisions for some years, including the one during the Australia tour in 1999-2000 when he gave Sachin Tendulkar out lbw in a Test when the batsman had ducked and was hit on his shoulder off a Glenn McGrath delivery.

Harper promptly gave Tendulkar out though he was to say later 'the one (decision) that I would like the world to forget is the Sachin one.'

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Manchester United agree deal for goalkeeper David De Gea

Manchester United have agreed to sign Spain under-21 goalkeeper David De Gea from Atletico Madrid on a five-year contract, the Premier League champions said on Wednesday.United, seeking to replace retired keeper Edwin Van der Sar, did not provide details of the transfer fee but local media has estimated it to be around 18 million pounds ($29 million). The club said the 20-year-old had passed a medical test this week."I feel very proud and I can't wait to start playing here," De Gea said on the club website (

"When a club the size of Manchester United comes in for you it obviously makes you very, very happy. I saw their interest as an extra motivation to work even harder to show off my ability."De Gea, who came through the youth ranks at Atletico before making his La Liga debut in 2009, arrives at Old Trafford fresh from helping Spain to win the Euro Under-21 championship in Denmark last week.

He will be United's third signing since the end of the season as the champions have led the way in spending, having brought in defender Phil Jones and forward Ashley Young in a close season spree reported to be close to 50 million pounds.

United manager Alex Ferguson, who has spoken previously of the desire to sign an adequate replacement for Van der Sar in good time, targeted one of the continent's best young goalkeeping talents in De Gea. When Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel quit Old Trafford in 1999 the club struggled for six years to sign someone of a similar calibre, eventually settling on Van der Sar having passed up the chance to snap him up from Ajax years earlier.

Knowing the Dutchman planned to retire at the end of last season, when United won a record 19th English league title, Ferguson learnt from past mistakes and had already begun preparing for his top keeper's departure. He signed 27-year-old Dane Anders Lindegaard last November and De Gea will now compete with him and Van der Sar's previous deputy Tomasz Kuszscak for the number one spot between the posts.

"It's a great privilege to be part of a club like United and I'm keen to do my best and show what I can do," De Gea added.


Judy Murray to cheer for son Andy, not her crush Feliciano Lopez

Judy Murray has said that although she is fan of Feliciano Lopez, she would be cheering for her son, Andy, when the two men play in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

Judy, 50, who is divorced, and is said to have embarrassed her son with her obsession for Lopez, admitted that she is a Lopez admirer.

"I'm just one of a lot of Feliciano female fans,” the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

But she also added that she will to put aside her crush and concentrate on her son during the game.

"But of course family loyalty comes into it hugely," she stated.

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Commonwealth Games gold medal winner fails dope test

India's quarter-miler female runners Mandeep Kaur and Juana Murmu have been suspended for testing positive for anabolic agents in an out-of-competition test conducted by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

ML Dogra, director of Athletics Association of India (AAI), told IANS that the two athletes were tested May 25 by IAAF out of competition. Their B sample, which was opened Monday, also tested positive.

Mandeep, who won the 400m relay gold in the Commonwealth and the Asian Games, tested positive for methandienone and stanozolol while Juana, who missed a podium finish in the 400 metres in the Asian Games, tested positive for methandienone.

Both substances fall in the category of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) in WADA's prohibited list. Stanozolol is one of the oldest anabolic agents since American sprinter Ben Johnson took it in 1988.

"The two athletes were on World Anti Doping Agency's (WADA) whereabouts list and the tests were done randomly. Their B sample has also tested positive and they have been suspended," Dogra said.

Dogra said the disciplinary committee of the IAAF will meet next month to decide on the quantum of the bans to be imposed on the two athletes.

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Suresh Raina fined for dissent at umpire's decision

ndian batsman Suresh Raina has been fined 25 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent at an umpire's decision during the first day of the second test against West Indies, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Wednesday.

Left-handed batsman Raina, who led India in the five-match ODI series against West Indies in the absence of regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, showed his displeasure after being given out caught off leg spinner Devendra Bishoo.

"What Suresh did was a clear breach of the code, something the player himself has accepted," ICC match referee Chris Broad was quoted as saying in an ICC statement.

"There is a fine line between showing disappointment at a dismissal and demonstrating dissent but on this occasion Suresh was well over that line and his behaviour was unacceptable."

Raina pleaded guilty and accepted the fine imposed on him after the end of play on Tuesday, the statement added.

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Roger Federer loses to Tsonga in Wimbledon quarterfinals

Roger Federer became one of the greatest players of all time thanks partly to his remarkable calmness under pressure but it was that very same quality which cost him dear in Wednesday''s shock Wimbledon defeat by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The 3-6 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-4 quarter-final reverse, which condemned the record 16-times major champion to a second Wimbledon last-eight exit in a row, was the first time the Swiss has lost a grand slam match having been two sets up.

As excitable Frenchman Tsonga stormed back into the contest by markedly increasing the power of his hitting, an unruffled-looking Federer just played his usual game when a spot of tub thumping and a change of approach might have worked better.

The likes of Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic would have slammed their rackets into their feet or the ground and screamed with anger having let such a lead slip and then going a break down early in the fifth.But third seed Federer, bidding for a record-equalling seventh title on the South London grass, kept up his poker face and banked on his glorious stroke-making to dig him out of a hole instead of charging into the net or boosting his shot speed.

"At least it took him, you know, sort of a special performance to beat me, which is somewhat nice," a still laidback Federer told a news conference as he avidly defended his doomed strategy. "He hung in there. I was controlling the match. Next thing you know, he just continued serving great, which for me was important to get at least a couple of chances."But the chances were slim and he only needed a couple of breaks to end up bringing it home. I thought my game was plenty good enough to win the tournament."

Federer's reputation as the undisputed King of Wimbledon has further slipped, though, after signs at the French Open and this fortnight that he was back to his very best following last year's humbling defeat by Tomas Berdych and a barren spell. He has not triumphed in a grand slam since the 2010 Australian Open and with world number one Rafa Nadal having cast his spell over the Swiss, the chances of more major success look slimmer.

Tsonga, whose love of diving around Centre Court endeared him to the crowd and lessened the blow of seeing their beloved former champion lose, was not surprised that Federer failed to change his demeanour despite impending trouble.
"It's difficult to play against him because you don't know exactly what he's thinking, what's happening in his head," he said ahead of a last-four meeting with Novak Djokovic on Friday. "Federer has all the time the same comportment and it's difficult because he plays so fast. You don't know if he's scared or not, and it's really difficult. But, anyway, I didn't look at him. I was just focused on me, on my serve."

Federer glided through the first set and never looked in danger in the second set or tiebreak as Tsonga showed few signs that he was capable of making a scrap of it. However, Tsonga soon found his groove with his immense energy and athleticism suddenly worrying Federer. Famous as a Muhammad Ali lookalike, Tsonga broke for 2-1 in the third and fourth sets and held out thanks to some punching groundstrokes and trademark volleys when against the ropes.

His raw power began to completely stifle Federer, who slipped a break down at the start of the fifth set when he netted. Federer could do nothing to halt Tsonga's momentum with the Frenchman piling into every stroke with all his might to reach a third grand slam semi-final.

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Saina Nehwal's performance in Indonesia Open satisfactory

Terming the performance of Saina Nehwal in the Indonesia Open Super Series tourney as satisfactory, national coach Pullela Gopichand today said the badminton ace lost a keenly contested match against China's Yihan Wang after doing well in the tournament.

"Saina played excellently in the final match and lost to Wang in a keenly contested match to miss her hat-trick. She is suffering from minor injuries but she is fit," the former All England Badminton Champion told reporters here.

Nehwal went down to Wang 12-21, 23-21, 14-21 in a gruelling tussle in the final of the Indonesia Open Super Series badminton on Sunday.

On the Badminton World Federation's decision to make it mandatory for women to wear skirts during tournaments, he said players should decide on their own what they want to wear and what not.

Gopichand said said Saina, P Kashyap and Anurag Thakkar had the potential to emerge as world-class players. If they get proper training and coaches, then they can also perform better at international events, he said.

In order to produce quality players, the country must provide as many coaching facilities as possible and also appoint foreign coaches for giving proper training, he added.

Gopichand arrived here on the invitation of Madhya Pradesh Sports and Youth Welfare Ministry for the selection of promising players in the age group of 9-12 years.

He said he had high hopes from the State Badminton Academy's Samir, Sourabh and Anurag Thakkar, who have just stepped into the international arena.

Praising the facilities at the State Badminton Academy at Gwalior, Gopichand said such facilities should also be provided at the district and tehsil level.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

England move above Brazil to fourth in Fifa rankings

England have moved above Brazil to fourth in the Fifa world rankings, despite their recent run of poor form.

Fabio Capello's England side only reached the last 16 of last summer's World Cup and have not won their last two qualifying matches for Euro 2012.

Spain are top of the rankings, followed by the Netherlands and Germany.

Republic of Ireland (31st), Scotland (61st) and Northern Ireland (62nd) also climb the rankings but Wales stay in 114th place.

It is the first time England have been as high as fourth since 1997, after they reached the semi-finals of Euro 96.

However, Capello and his side have come under criticism after a poor World Cup and only managing a 2-2 draw against Switzerland at Wembley earlier this month - a result that the Italian coach blamed on fatigue.

Spain's haul of 1,871 points keeps them top and they are 210 points ahead of the Netherlands, who they beat in the World Cup final in South Africa last year.

Germany's 1,417 points moves them up to third, while England tally 1,146 points.

Brazil (1,130), Italy (1,059), Portugal (1,046), Croatia (1,033), Mexico (1,007) and Argentina (979) complete the top 10.

Fifa ranking points are accumulated according to results, the importance of the matches played and the strength of the opposing teams.

A team's total number of points is representative of a four-year period, calculated by the average number of points gained over the past 12 months and the average gained from older games, though that points total depreciates yearly.

Since they were knocked out of the World Cup by Germany just over a year ago, England have won five matches, including three qualifiers; drawn three, which includes two competitive games; and lost once - to France in a friendly.

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Manchester United confirm signing of David de Gea

Manchester United have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper David de Gea from Atletico Madrid on a five-year deal.

The Spain Under-21 international, 20, underwent a medical at Old Trafford on Monday and will finalise what is thought to be an £18.9m move on Friday.

"I feel very proud and I can't wait to start playing here," De Gea told MUTV.

"When a club the size of Manchester United comes in for you, it obviously makes you very, very happy. I'm keen to do my best and show what I can do."

The deal marks De Gea out as the second most expensive keeper behind Gianluigi Buffon, who cost Juventus £32.6m in 2001.

De Gea, part of the Spain squad that won the European Under-21 Championship on Saturday, is a product of Atletico's youth academy, spending his first professional season with the club's reserves in the Segunda Division B before making his senior debut as a substitute in the Champions League against Porto in September 2009.

Since then he has made nearly 100 senior appearances for the Spanish outfit.

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Webber picking up the pace again

Mark Webber has sent out a warning to Red Bull's rivals that he is getting back up to speed after putting in his strongest performance of the year at Red Bull's weakest track.

The Australian may have finished only third in Sunday's European Grand Prix but team principal Christian Horner was smiling afterwards.

"It was Mark's best race of the season in terms of his performance on those tyres," he told reporters. "It's the closest he has been to Sebastian all season. He drove well this weekend."

Red Bull's Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel won in Valencia, chalking up his sixth victory in eight races so far, and is now a massive 77 points clear of Webber and McLaren's Jenson Button.

Button and his team mate Lewis Hamilton are the only drivers to have beaten Vettel this campaign with Webber struggling to match the 23-year-old's pace on the new Pirelli tyres introduced this year.

A championship leader and contender down to the final race of 2010, Webber has not won a race since Hungary last August.

Valencia, a circuit where the Australian crashed spectacularly last year, suggested Webber was getting on top of the tyre problems and could put Vettel under more pressure in future.

"I hope so," said Horner. "I hope he keeps building up the momentum from this weekend.

"He's made no secret of the fact he's struggled more on these tyres than Sebastian. I think he's understanding them better now.

"If you look at the time difference between the guys during the race he was never more than four or five seconds away for 90 percent of the race, which is the best we've seen all year," added Horner.

"He'll take a lot of confidence out of the weekend."

The next race up is Silverstone in two weeks time, a race Webber won last year after complaining that Vettel was being favoured by the team.

There have been no such public complaints so far this year and Webber, who has had one pole position this year to Vettel's seven, will be hoping to be even more on his team mate's tail.

"It was the closest I have been for a while," he said of Sunday. "In qualifying in Canada it was very close between us with the KERS situation but racing is when it counts. But I think I am getting better.

"I learnt a lot today. I was happy with my performance and I will come back better for the next race. “

"I think this is probably our weakest track of the year, maybe, so we didn't do too badly," he grinned even if for many it was also the dullest race of the season. “

"We have a different regulation from Silverstone onwards and we expect that we can still be pretty competitive again. If we can keep Valencia as one of our weakest, definitely our top three weakest tracks,... we should go OK on the other ones."

Formula One's governing body is clamping down on teams' use of engine electronics to control the flow of exhaust gases and give a performance advantage even when a driver lifts off the throttle.

Some rivals had hoped Red Bull would be hit more than others but Valencia suggested that would be far from the case.

"Historically we prefer tracks with high speed corners so Silverstone coming up should be a good one for us," said Vettel.

"Now the rules change slightly. It's the same for everyone, so if we are not allowed to do that any more, its (the same for) the others as well."


Sitwala, Kothari in quarters of Australian Open

India's Dhruv Sitwala and Sourav Kothari entered the quarterfinals of the Australian Open billiards championship here on Tuesday winning all their respective league matches.

Sitwala, runner-up at the recent South Australian invitational tournament, topped his four-player group with an unbeaten record as did Kothari, who came through his five matches that were played on the 150-up points format.

Both Indians dropped just one game en route to the knock-out round, the draw for which was still to be announced.

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Cloud hangs over Alberto Contador's Tour

Much to the dismay of Tour de France organisers, a cloud of doping suspicion will hang over their race, and in particular over triple champion Alberto Contador, when the 2011 edition begins Saturday.

The 28-year-old Contador will start the race from Passage du Gois in the Vendee region still waiting for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to rule on an appeal concerning a failed dope test in last year's race.

Contador was cleared of wrongdoing by the Spanish federation but the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed.

The CAS will not hear the appeal until August, meaning that Contador, the overwhelming favourite, could end up losing two Tour titles if the decision goes against him.

Last year, the Tour was rocked by Floyd Landis's doping allegations against seven-times champion and fellow American Lance Armstrong.

Contador's presence on the Tour, while his case remains unresolved, is another embarrassment this year.

"We wanted a quick resolution, before the Tour, but it looks like it was too much to ask," Tour director Christian Prudhomme told reporters.

On the road, the slender Spaniard has been his brilliant and dominant self this season, snatching nine victories and winning the Giro d'Italia in merciless fashion, putting his rivals in the shade.

Contador, whom Armstrong described as "the most talented guy to ever throw a leg over a bike," used his outstanding climbing abilities to destroy the field in Italy and could become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to achieve a Giro/Tour double.

This year's route will favour the climbers and the Tour is likely to be decided during a tough third week in the Alps, where the race went for the first time 100 years ago.

The Col du Galibier will be climbed twice, with one stage finishing at l'Alpe d'Huez and featuring the famous 21 hairpin bends to the ski resort.

Twenty-three mountain passes are included in the Tour and it looks like only Andy Schleck could be capable of beating Contador.

Cool Reception

Contador himself admits his form is something of an unknown quantity after his exertions in the Giro.

"As time goes by, I feel more and more rested (after the Giro) but I'm still a bit in the dark because all I did was rest," Contador, one of only five men with titles in all three grands Tours, said last week.

"I don't know how I will respond (to the efforts). Undoubtedly, (compared to those who did not ride the Giro), I lack physical but also mental freshness."

Contador, who was sometimes booed by the fans during the Giro, could also get a cool reception from the French crowd, but the determined Spaniard is used to it, as well to the media grilling he is likely to face.

Last year, the crowd hissed at him after he gained 39 seconds on Schleck following his attack in a mountain stage after the Luxembourg rider's chain had come off.

Schleck, who has finished runner-up to Contador in the last two years, will once again be the champion's top challenger on the French roads, with a handful of outsiders hoping to make it to the podium.

Schleck left Saxo Bank to launch his own outfit, Leopard Trek with several others, including his brother Frank and Olympic and world time-trial world champion Fabian Cancellara.

In the absence of last year's third-placed Denis Menchov, whose team were not invited, the battle for the podium is likely to involve Bradley Wiggins, who is looking to become the first Briton to finish in the top three.

The Team Sky leader won the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month and looks in great form, having changed his preparations for the Tour.

Australian Cadel Evans, the 2009 world champion, is still looking for a maiden grand Tour title after repeatedly being tipped for glory.

Spain's Samuel Sanchez, backed by an Euskaltel team of Basque climbers, finished fourth last year after being leapfrogged by Menchov following the final time trial.

Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck and Dutchman Robert Gesink also have the climbing abilities to handle a tough Tour, while Slovenian Janez Brajkovic is filling the big shoes left empty by Armstrong after the American retired.

Italian Ivan Basso skipped his beloved Giro to concentrate on the Tour but a crash during training hampered his preparations and his form is under question.


Two top Indian athletes flunk dope test

Doping came back to haunt Indian athletics with two top women quarter-milers returning positive for a banned substance in tests conducted by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The 'A' samples of the two 400m runners taken by an international agency -- International Doping Tests and Management of Sweden -- on behalf of the IAAF at NIS Patiala and tested at National Dope Testing Laboratory had returned positive for prohibited substance, a NADA source said.

One of the two was a member of the women's 400m relay quartet that had won gold in the Commonwealth Games here last October and in the Asian Games in Guangzhou last November. The other had missed out a podium finish in the 400m race in the Asian Games.

The banned substance is expected to be revealed only after 'B' sample test results. Both the athletes had their 'B' samples tested on Monday at the NDTL.

The development is a huge setback for the country as both were in the yet-to-be-announced Indian team for the Asian Athletics Championships to be held in Kobe, Japan from July 7.

They will have to be dropped from the team if their 'B' samples test positive.

The IAAF is expected to impose a provisional two-year suspension if the 'B' sample results also test positive for the banned drug.

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I can relate to Tendulkar in dedication: Bolt

Yearning to see Sachin Tendulkar play, Olympic and world champion sprinter Usain Bolt said he can relate to the Indian cricket icon when it comes to dedication and aggression.

Asked about the qualities he admires in Tendulkar, Bolt said, "Tendulkar is obviously dedicated. He is aggressive but calculated and knows how to make runs."

"He (Tendulkar) also plays for the fans ... really similar to what I do," Bolt told reporters in an e-mail interview.

Tendulkar recently met tennis great Roger Federer during the ongoing Wimbledon Championships in London and Bolt said he would be game for a similar meeting with the Indian.

"I hope to be able to watch him play sometime in future but I don't have any plans to meet him at the moment. He is always welcome to come and watch me run," said the Jamaican triple Olympic and World Championships gold medallist.

Bolt described Tendulkar as one of the greatest cricketers but picked fellow West Indian Vivian Richards as the greatest of all time.

Asked to take his pick among Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Vivian Richards, Garfield Sobers and Shane Warne, Bolt said, "That is a difficult one, they were all great in their time, but I think I would give the edge to Sir Vivian Richards."

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Michael Nobbs named India hockey coach

The Indian hockey team got a new coach on Wednesday with Australian Olympian Michael Jack Nobbs bagging the coveted post after the exit of coach Jose Brasa. He has been appointed the coach for the national team till 2016, giving him ample time to revive the national sport and bring it to its glory days.

The other front runners for the post were twice Olympic and world champion Jacques Brinkman of Netherlands and Dutchman Roelant Oltmans.

SAI Director General Desh Deepak Verma said, “The new coach will be given a contract till 2016 Olympics because we now have to think about long-term associations."

Although the new coach will be provided a long-term contact, his performance will be evaluated after every international outing.

"But after every international tournament we will assess his performance," the SAI DG said.

Asked about the remuneration of the new foreign coach, Verma said, "It would be slightly expensive than the last foreign coach but I guess we can afford that for Indian hockey.

"In addition his contract will also have provision for incentives if we qualify for the (2012 London) Olympics," he said.

Apart from the SAI DG, the meeting was also attended by HI secretary general Narinder Batra, former skipper and HI Developmenet Committee chairman Pargat Singh, who shortlisted the candidates, HI Executive Director Anupam Ghulati among others.

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Roddick exits Wimbledon in 3rd round

Head bowed, Andy Roddick trudged off Centre Court, his purple Wimbledon towel dragging along the turf.

As the three-time runner-up at the All England Club headed for the exit, he passed some kids clamoring for an autograph from their front-row perch. Roddick paused and tossed his blue-framed racket underhand. Thanks to his latest earlier-than-anticipated Grand Slam loss, the American won't be needing it next week.

The eighth-seeded Roddick departed quickly Friday, beaten 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the third round by unseeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain. Lopez served spectacularly well, hitting 28 aces, and finally got the better of the 2003 U.S. Open champion after losing all seven previous matches they played.

Roddick turns 29 in August, and he was asked whether, as the years go by, one particularly depressing thought creeps into his mind: He might never win Wimbledon.

"Well, sure. You're human. I mean, of course it does," he replied. Then, speaking directly to the reporter, Roddick added: "You know, you may never get your favorite job, either — no offense to your current employer."

Roddick lost to Roger Federer in the 2004, 2005 and 2009 finals — 16-14 in the fifth set of that last one — but only made it as far as the fourth round last year, and second round in 2008.

"What do you do? You keep moving forward until you decide to stop," Roddick said. "At this point, I've not decided to stop, so I'll keep moving forward."

He hasn't been past the quarterfinals at any of the past seven major tournaments; he withdrew from the French Open in May because of a right shoulder injury, but said he's healthy at the moment.

That, in part, is why Roddick figured he'd make a deep run at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

"He gears a lot of his year for Wimbledon. It's a tough loss," said Roddick's coach, Larry Stefanki. "He's disappointed. Very disappointed."

It didn't help that Lopez was nearly perfect, conjuring up 57 winners and eight unforced errors.

"Unbelievable," Lopez said. "When I came back in the locker room, my coaches told me. I was surprised that I didn't miss anything, almost."

Because of rain, only two other third-round men's matches finished Friday: No. 4 Andy Murray moved forward in his bid to give Britain its first male champion at Wimbledon since 1936, beating Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4) with the help of a behind-the-back, between-the-legs trick shot under the Centre Court roof; and No. 17 Richard Gasquet of France beat Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Murray plays Gasquet next.

Roddick is the highest-seeded man out of the tournament so far. Two of the top three women already are gone: No. 2 Vera Zvonareva, the runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010, was eliminated by No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-3 Friday, less than 24 hours after No. 3 Li Na, the French Open champion, lost.

Pironkova reached the semifinals last year, when she upset five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, and they'll have a rematch in the fourth round next week. Williams overpowered 76th-ranked Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain 6-0, 6-2 on Court 1.

"I'm in the next round. That's my main goal, regardless whether I play amazing, whether I play halfway decent. Doesn't matter," Williams said. "It's just about finding a way to win."

Looking ahead to facing Pironkova, Williams said: "Last year, you know, I think I just got unhappy with how I was playing, and I let that affect my game. This year, I won't let that happen."

Another past Wimbledon winner, Maria Sharapova, struggled at the start against 17-year-old Laura Robson of Britain before righting herself to win their second-round match 7-6 (4), 6-3, her shot-accompanying shrieks as loud as ever.

Sharapova trailed 4-1 early, then fell behind 4-2 in the tiebreaker, before taking the set's last five points, closing it with a 108 mph service winner against 2008 Wimbledon junior champion Robson.

"She was much more aggressive than I was in the beginning," Sharapova said. "But then I just kind of got my rhythm a little bit and started playing better."

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki also won a delayed second-round match, as did 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli. Defending champion Rafael Nadal's match was among several in the third round stopped because of rain Friday evening.

Having saved two set points against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, the top-seeded Nadal came back to take the opener 7-6 (6), despite slipping behind the baseline and tumbling to his knees. At the ensuing changeover, Nadal asked to see the trainer for treatment.

But play was suspended before the start of the second set, then called off for the day at about 7 p.m. Shortly thereafter, Nadal walked out of the club without any noticeable hitch in his gait.

It has rained on four of the first five days of competition, but the tournament press office said there hasn't been consideration given to scheduling matches for the middle Sunday, traditionally a day off at Wimbledon. Saturday's forecast calls for a chance of rain in the morning, but dry weather in the afternoon.

In three second-round men's matches held over from Thursday, 18-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia, the youngest man left, defeated Igor Andreev of Russia 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1; No. 11 Jurgen Melzer of Austria beat Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1); and No. 7 David Ferrer of Spain finished off a 6-7 (6), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback victory over 19-year-old Ryan Harrison of the United States.

Harrison credited Roddick with being a mentor.

"He's helped me deal with every situation I've faced, as far as all the new stuff I haven't experienced myself yet," Harrison said. "He's made himself available to ask him any questions, whether or not it's about tennis, life, priorities, whatever. I can ask him and talk to him about anything, which has been a great help to me."

Roddick never got comfortable against the 44th-ranked Lopez, who played his usual classic grass-court style, charging the net whenever possible, a tactic that carried him to the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2005 and 2008.

While Lopez is one win away from returning to the quarterfinals, Roddick heads home. He'll have much more time than he wanted to work on his game ahead of the July 8-10 Davis Cup quarterfinals between his US team and Lopez's Spain.

Roddick beat Lopez on grass two weeks ago at the Queen's Club tuneup tournament. But this time, Roddick said, "He played better than I did. He beat me. It's easier for me to walk out of here with that and move forward with that than, let's say, '08, where I lost to (Janko) Tipsarevic, and I felt like I completely choked, or last year, where I just kind of had a million opportunities and kind of gave it away."

Roddick managed to break Lopez once, in the first set. But he only earned one break point the rest of the way, in the opening game of the second set, and Lopez saved it.

"That was about his only opportunity to make a dent," Stefanki said. "He returned as well as he could return when he got his racket on it."

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Sania-Vesnina in Wimbledon quarterfinals

India's Sania Mirza and Russian Elena Vesnina advanced to the quarterfinal of women's doubles in Wimbledon Championships with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland Tuesday.

The Indo-Russian pair, seeded fourth, will next take on Spain's Nuria Llagostera and Arantxa Parra Santonja.

Sania and Vesnina had also made it to the title round of French Open.

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Azarenka makes light of change of court

Victoria Azarenka shrugged off an unusual change of courts to crush Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-1 and reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time.

The pair begun their match on Court One but after just one game they both agreed conditions were too slippery and as the referees pondered what to do, drizzle came down to make the decision for them.

In a largely unprecedented move, organisers decided to switch the match to Centre Court given the roof had prevented Sabine Lisicki and Maria Sharapova's victories from being unduly affected by the weather.

The fourth seed from Belarus, who changed from leggings to a skirt after switching courts, then overwhelmed her Austrian opponent and clinched victory on her second match point.

She will play Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova in the last four, with fifth seed Sharapova taking on wildcard Lisicki in the other semi-final.

"It was very difficult to wait the whole day and keep focus the whole day," Azarenka said in a televised interview having hung around in the locker room as Kvitova's Court One match with Tsvetana Pironkova was delayed by rain.

"I'm glad we managed to play today. It's my mum's birthday today so I wanted to give her a good gift."

Azarenka, in good form this year but entering her first grand slam semi-final, has caused commotion at Wimbledon because of the extreme wailing noise she makes when striking the ball.

Despite her idiosyncrasies, she is seeded higher than fifth seed Russian Sharapova and looks the former winner's biggest threat for the title.

Austria's Paszek, who beat sixth seed Francesca Schiavone in a long three-setter in the third round, looked overawed from the start and the result was never really in doubt.

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Scan reveals no serious injury for Rafael Nadal

A scan on Rafa Nadal's injured left foot has shown no major damage and the holder and number one seed should be fit to play Mardy Fish in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, Nadal said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Spaniard suffered the injury towards the end of the first set of Monday's four-set victory over Juan Martin Del Potro and needed almost 10 minutes of courtside treatment from a physio and doctor.

"I thought I'd have to retire," Nadal said after the match. "I felt something very strange. I felt that I had broken my foot, I felt terrible. I am worried for sure. I will have the scan and then let's see if I can recover for Wednesday."

After having the foot strapped he was able to play the rest of the match, though he said he was suffering some pain whenever he hit a forehand.

He underwent an MRI scan on Tuesday morning and will practise in the afternoon.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ryan Giggs’ lovers offered £2 million for girl-on-girl romp in ‘mother of all’ porn film

The two women who had flings with Manchester United ace Ryan Giggs, have been offered £2 million to team up for a girl-on-girl romp in an adult film.

Big Brother beauty Imogen Thomas and Ryan Giggs’s sister-in-law Natasha are being offered £1million each.

A spokesperson for adult movie makers Television X said if they did team up it would be one of the world’s biggest-selling top-shelf films in history.

“Imogen and Natasha would make this one of the world’s biggest-ever porn tapes due to the massive scale of the scandal,” the Daily Star quoted her as saying.

The flick would be more popular even than the sex tapes that featured Pamela Anderson, 43, and Paris Hilton, 30, she claimed.

A source at the channel revealed they were still working on titles, adding: “There’s plenty of room for fun - Shaving Ryan’s Privates is certainly in the running.”

American porn films king Steven Hirsch, who last month offered Pippa Middleton £3 million to do an X-rated movie, is also interested in signing the pair.

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Steve Rixon appointed Australia's fielding coach

Former wicket-keeper Steve Rixon was Tuesday appointed as the Australian cricket team’s fielding coach

Rixon, who played Test and one-day cricket for Australia during the late 1970s and early 1980s, will join the team on the coming tours of Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Cricket Australia (CA) acting chief executive officer Michael Brown said: "We are very excited Steve is joining our staff as a fielding coach. His experience as a player and successful coach at both domestic and international level will be invaluable for our group as we prepare for tough tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa in the next six months.

“The group of coaches we now have in place has a great blend of coaching expertise and cricket experience to benefit this developing Australian side and Steve has an important role to play as we move forward,” Brown added

Rixon said he was thrilled with the appointment and is looking forward to work with the Australian team over the next two tours.

"Fielding skills play such an important role in the modern game and often proves the difference between winning and losing. I feel my experience firstly as a player and more importantly a successful coach across the world can help many of these young Australian players, together with the outstanding group of assistants Tim Nielsen has at his disposal," he said.

“The Australian team has long been known as one of the best fielding sides in world cricket and my job will not only be to maintain the good work done before but about setting the benchmark for opposition sides,” Rixon added.

Albury-born Rixon made his Test debut against India at the Gabba in 1977 and played 13 Tests and six One-day internationals for Australia as a wicket-keeper and lower-order batsman.

He played over 150-first class games, 107 of which were for New South Wales (NSW), taking 395 catches and effecting 65 stumpings. When he retired in 1988 he had donned the baggy blue more than anyone before him

In an illustrious coaching career beginning in 1989, Rixon led NSW for five seasons making the Sheffield Shield final on each occasion, winning three times and completing the Sheffield Shield and one-day competition double in 1992-93 and 1993-94.

From late 1996 to 1999 he was head coach of New Zealand taking the Black Caps to third place in one-day and Test cricket rankings. He then returned as NSW coach in 2000. For the past two seasons, Rixon has assisted Stephen Fleming with two-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, also enjoying success with victory in the 2010 Champions League Twenty20.

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Sunil Gavaskar says ICC's decision to abolish runners is unfair

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar feels that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has taken an unfair decision by abolishing runners for injured batsmen in international cricket

The batting legend said it was an unfair decision and asked the ICC to even it out by disallowing bowlers to have water as rules should be the same for everyone.

"I would also like to suggest that there should be no water for bowlers at the boundary end. They bowl one over and come to the boundary where energy drinks are waiting for them," said an angry Gavaskar.

"There should be no drinks breaks that are usually scheduled after one hour or so. If you are going to make a situation like this then there should not be any substitute fielders either," he said.

Gavaskar said ICC should also abolish the practice of having substitute fielder

"There should not be a substitute fielder when a regular player goes off the field. If a fielder gets injured or has cramps, he should either go off the field or stay there. That way it balances out everything and the batting side is not the only one affected," he said.

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ICC abolishes runners for injured players

Associate nations such as Ireland and Netherlands may not be dumped out of 2015 cricket World Cup with the ICC chief executives' committee (CEC) today recommending that there should be a qualifying tournament for participation in the elite event.

The ICC in April had decided to restrict the 2015 World Cup to top 10 nations only, much to the dismay the associate nations who strongly protested the decision.

The decision to put a cap on the teams had come due to criticism of the tournament's lenghty format.

The CEC stopped short of putting a seal on the number of teams for the tournament but the decision raised hopes of teams like Netherlands, Ireland, Canada and Kenya to feature in the 2015 edition of the event to be held in Australia and New Zealand.

"The CEC recommended that there should be a qualification process for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but did not make a recommendation to the ICC executive board on the number of teams that should compete in the event to be held in Australia and New Zealand," ICC said in a statement.

ICC oresident Sharad Pawar has taken up the cause of the minnows by asking its Board to reconsider the decision.

In other key decisions, the CEC decided that a captain will now be suspended for two over-rate breaches in a 12-month period in any one format of the game rather than the current position which is three breaches prior to suspension.

"The CEC, like the ICC cricket committee, was concerned at the slow over-rates in Test match cricket and agreed on stricter sanctions against captains for over-rate breaches," the statement said.

The abolition of runners, the usage of new balls from each end in one-dayers, and regulation of when the batting and bowling powerplays can be taken are among the other key recommendations the ICC chief executives' committee has made after its meeting in Hong Kong.

These suggestions will come into effect from October 1 if approved by the ICC executive board.


ICC reinstates associates for 2015 World Cup, 10 teams in 2019

Under fire for its move to restrict the World Cup to 10 teams, the ICC today reversed its decision on excluding the Associate nations for the 2015 event which will now comprise 14 teams.

The 2019 World Cup will, however, see only 10 teams with the top eight in ICC rankings getting automatic entry and the remaining two spots being filled up through a qualification tournament.

The decision was taken by the ICC's Executive Board on the third day of its annual conference here.

"The ICC Executive Board today reversed its previous decisions and approved a 14-team format for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to be held in Australia and New Zealand and a 12-team format for the ICC World Twenty20 events in 2012 (Sri Lanka) and 2014 (Bangladesh)," the ICC said in a statement.

"The ICC Board opted to retain the 14-team format that was used at the highly successful and universally acclaimed ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka with the 10 Full Members being joined by four Associate or Affiliate qualifiers," the statement said.

The ICC in April had decided to restrict the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand to top 10 nations only, much to the dismay of the associate nations like Ireland and the Netherlands who strongly protested the decision.

Regarding the 2019 edition, the ICC said it would be "a 10-team event with the top eight in the ICC rankings earning their qualification automatically with the remaining two places being decided by a qualification competition."

Today's decision keeps the door open for the Associate Nations to qualify for the 2019 World Cup from the qualification round if they can beat the lower-ranked Full Members.

It was also in line with ICC's decision in October last year that all Members would be given an opportunity to participate in the 2019 World Cup through a qualification process.

The ICC Executive Board retained the 12-team format for the Twenty20 World Cup in 2012 and 2014, reversing its October 2010 decision to have 16 teams.

"ICC World Twenty20 in 2012 and 2014 will now remain as 12-team events (10 Full Members and two Associate/Affiliates), which has been the format for the ICC World Twenty20 events since its inception in 2007," the ICC statement said.

Following a presentation on the Reliance ICC Rankings system by statistician David Kendix, who devised and operates the system on behalf of the ICC, the Executive Board has confirmed that the ICC Rankings are suitable for use in determining qualification for ICC global events, subject to any regulatory amendments necessary to protect the integrity of the system.

The Board also confirmed the introduction of the promotion/relegation system previously agreed.

According to 'ESPNcricinfo', the inclusion of the associate nations in the 2015 World Cup was part of a deal to build support for the last major issue for discussion at the conference -- scrapping the rotation policy for appointment of the ICC president.

In order to pass a resolution amending the rule about the appointment of the ICC chief, eight of the 10 Full Members and 38 of 50 Associates will have to vote in favour of the motion. That vote could now be a formality with the Associates being placated by today's decision.

Pakistan and Bangladesh -- the two Full Members who were to nominate the next candidates for president and vice-president by the rotation system -- are opposed to the change in the policy.


West Indies 30/3 after bundling India for 201 on day one of 2nd Test

VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina rescued India from an early slump but the visitors were still bowled out for 201 by West Indies in their first innings on the opening day of the second Test.

In reply, West Indies were 30 for three at stumps, trailing India by 171 runs at the Kensington Oval here yesterday.

Ramnaresh Sarwan was batting on 10, while night watchman Devendra Bishoo had just joined him at the crease before the end of day's proceeding here.

Earlier, India were left struggling at 38 for four, courtesy pacer Ravi Rampaul's three-wicket haul in the pre-lunch session but Laxman and Raina added 117 runs for the fifth wicket to bring the visitors back into the game.

Laxman dropped the anchor initially and along with Raina started dominating the bowlers in the afternoon session but West Indies bounced back after tea with Fidel Edwards and Devendra Bishoo taking three wickets each.

If Rampaul (3 for 38) was incisive in the first session, Edwards (3 for 56) and Bishoo (3 for 46) were lethal in the final session as India lost their final five wickets for just 34 runs.

India did manage to get colour back on their cheeks with three strikes of their own -- openers Adrian Barath (3) and Lendl Simmons (2) departed with only five runs on board and left-hander Darren Bravo (9) left with just a delivery remaining for the day's play.

All three Indian seamers -- Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun -- picked up a wicket each as West Indies ended the day on 30 for 3.

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Forgive Sachin Tendulkar for his 'blasphemies'

Usually he manages to steer clear of controversies — the way he steers clear of deliveries outside the off stump. But last week, he dragged himself into a couple of them. Yes, I am talking about Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar.

The fact that he sold off the Ferrari that was gifted to him and borrowed money to buy a 1BHK flat in Panvel has not gone down too well with his fans who worship him like God. Of course, he is the God of Cricket.

Being on top of the game for two decades, despite carrying the expectations of a billion people, is no joke, and he has done that without showing any pain on his face. He has rarely faulted on the cricket pitch. And also off the pitch. But if he did, so what? Let’s deal with the flat first. What’s wrong in borrowing, if it is going to give him tax breaks? It is merely an accounting issue, a decision made by his charted accountant, fully endorsed by him. Everybody does that and it’s allowed by the system
Similarly, I don’t understand the whole brouhaha surrounding the Ferrari sale. Did he sell off a gold medal? Did he sell off some trophy? It was a gift from a company with whom he had a commercial deal. The company was interested in being associated with the legend and hence gifted its product to him. It helped the company’s brand image. Remember how Fiat sold its cars, riding on Sachin’s popularity?

At least he hasn’t done what Shane Warne did. Do you remember how he threatened a girl who had taken his picture while smoking? He was bound by a contract with Nike that offered him great money if he stayed off cigarettes for the contract period. If the picture were to be published, Warney would have lost money. Is Sachin’s ‘crime’ so big?

There is another angle for those who consider him God. Don’t temple authorities auction off things offered to deities? Devotees make offerings to the god and his managers sell them off after a while. We don’t object to that. In fact, many make a beeline to buy them and offer big money to get them as they are considered sacred.

As long his core values are intact, there is no need to criticise the man who has been a real ambassador of the game. He refused to fix matches as he strongly believes in the spirit of the game. He refused to endorse liquor brands even though his teammates and even the Captain Cool didn’t find anything wrong with it. He could have easily added a few crores to his kitty, but he made a conscious decision.

Agreed, he is seen as a God. But he is not the God. And even our gods have had their failings. There could be a few minor blemishes in Sachin’s image. But who doesn’t have them? The problem with us Indians is that that we see things only in black and white. No grey shades are ever allowed.

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Rain delays women's quarter-finals at Wimbledon

Rain delayed the start of women's quarter-final day at Wimbledon on Tuesday and the Centre Court roof was closed.

German Sabine Lisicki's match against ninth-seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli was due to start once the roof was shut but Petra Kvitova's clash with Tsvetana Pironkova on Court One, which has no roof, can only begin when the rain stops.

Fifth seed Maria Sharapova takes on Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova later on Centre Court with fourth seed Victoria Azarenka due to face Austria's Tamira Paszek on Court One.

There was confusion among fans as organisers initially kept the Centre Court roof open despite the presence of dark clouds above and only began to close the structure once drizzle began and the official start time had passed.


McIlroy gives Britain top 3 places in rankings

British golfers hold the top three spots in the world rankings, the first time that's happened in the 25-year history of the rankings.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland rose to third Monday following his triumph at the U.S. Open. Englishmen Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are No. 1 and No. 2.

Having started the year at No. 10, McIlroy overtook PGA Champion Martin Kaymer without playing last weekend because of the German's poor showing at the BMW International Open.

McIlroy won the U.S. Open by a record score at Congressional on June 19. His next tournament is the British Open at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, England, starting July 14.

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Colombia face tough women's WC debut

Colombia face a baptism of fire in their first ever FIFA Women's World Cup in a tough Group C where they open against European heavyweights Sweden on Tuesday.

The experienced Swedes are old hands on the world stage having competed in all five previous World Cup finals, finishing runners-up to Germany in 2003, and third in the inaugural event in 1991.

The young Colombians find themselves in the 'group of death' that also includes the United States - the two-time world and Olympic champions and the top ranked FIFA team - and North Korea.

The Swedes are ranked fifth with Colombia, South American runners-up last year, ranked 31st, and Asian hopefuls North Korea, eighth.

Hopes are high however among the Colombian team which includes nine players who surprised by finishing fourth in the under-20 World Cup last year in Germany which was won by the hosts.

"We're preparing with a view to going all the way; that's our dream," said 17-year-old Colombian midfielder Yoreli Rinco.

"With God's help, we’ll go far in this competition. It would be extraordinary to come up against Brazil and (striker) Marta in the final.”

"Victory would strengthen belief in women’s football in Colombia and who knows maybe it would help me be voted World Player of the Year."

Colombia lost a warm-up match against World Cup rivals New Zealand but achieved a confidence-boosting win over Denmark on penalties.

"These matches helped up get in form for the World Cup and we're heading to Germany with high hopes," said coach Ricardo Rozo.

The South Americans will be looking to get some experience under their belts before they clash with the United States on July 2 in Sinsheim, with their final group game against North Korea in Bochum four days later.

Sweden, the 1984 European champions, are looking to return to the glory days on the 1990s. They next play North Korea on July 2 in Augsburg and the United States on July 6 in Wolfsburg.

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