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Sport | The Guardian



Sports news, scores, blogs and opinion on US and world sports from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice



Published: Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:35:59 GMT2017-01-22T10:35:59Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Andy Murray crashes out of Australian Open to inspired Mischa Zverev

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 07:53:09 GMT2017-01-22T07:53:09Z

  • Top seed loses 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 to 50th-ranked German
  • Zverev to face Roger Federer or Kei Nishikori next

Andy Murray, out of sorts and scrapping like a junkyard dog for three-and-a-half hours over four sets, could not hold off the magnificent challenge of Mischa Zverev, the world No50, and went out of the Australian Open on day seven, when he surely harboured hopes of cashing in on the earlier departure of Novak Djokovic.

The last time the top two seeds failed to reach the quarter-finals of a slam was at Roland Garros in 2004. Denis Istomin, the world No 117, played the game of his life to put six-time champion Djokovic out in the second round; Zverev, best known as the older brother of 19-year-old prodigy, Alex – who lost a close match to Rafael Nadal on Saturday - finds himself in the quarter-final of a slam for the first time at 29, after beating a player he described beforehand as the best in the world.

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The Agenda: NFL championship games, EFL Cup, Frampton v Santa Cruz

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:00:01 GMT2017-01-22T10:00:01Z

The Super Bowl looms closer, Southampton seek to defend their lead at Liverpool, more Cup magic and Netball’s Quad Series

The eyes of the world remain on the USA on Sunday with the championship games of the NFL and places in the Super Bowl at stake. The Green Bay Packers travel to Georgia to face the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC match (Sky Sports 1, 8.05pm GMT), before the New England Patriots take home field advantage into their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC (Sky Sports 1, 11.40pm GMT). Oh, and the chance to meet Lady Gaga after her half-time show in next month’s final.

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Australian Open: Venus Williams beats Barthel to reach ninth quarter-final

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 04:49:57 GMT2017-01-22T04:49:57Z

  • 36-year-old beats German 6-3, 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena
  • Williams will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in last eight

The former world No1 Venus Williams continued her fine Australian Open as she beat Germany’s Mona Barthel in straight sets to reach the last eight for the ninth time in her career.

Barthel, the German qualifier, provided a stern test for Williams on Rod Laver Arena but the American 13th seed kept up her record of not having dropped a set in the tournament, eventually winning 6-3, 7-5.

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Colts fire GM Ryan Grigson – but Peyton Manning is 'not in the mix' to take over

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:30:44 GMT2017-01-21T23:30:44Z

  • Grigson departs after five seasons as Indianapolis general manager
  • Owner Jim Irsay says: ‘Peyton … I wouldn’t say that he’s in the picture’

Ryan Grigson has been fired after five seasons as the Indianapolis Colts’ general manager – but owner Jim Irsay says Peyton Manning is “not in the mix” to take over.

Related: Woody Johnson's record as Jets owner bodes ill for UK 'special relationship'

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Chapecoense draw with champions Palmeiras in first match since air disaster

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:17:20 GMT2017-01-21T22:17:20Z

• Emotional scenes as club return to action in friendly fixture
• 19 players were among those killed in November’s disaster

Chapecoense drew 2-2 against the Brazilian champions, Palmeiras, in their first match since the air disaster in November in which 19 players and 24 other club members were among those who died.

Around 20,000 fans attended the friendly fixture at the club’s Arena Condá stadium in Chapeco to pay tribute to the 71 people killed when the plane carrying the team to the Copa Sudamerica final in Colombia crashed into a mountain near Medellín.

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Wayne Rooney: a patched-up survivor with an astonishing goals record

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 19:12:02 GMT2017-01-21T19:12:02Z

It is a tribute to Rooney’s appetite and adaptability that he has surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton as Manchester United’s leading scorer. His goals and trophies make him the most influential English footballer of the last 25 years

It is one of the slightly lost details of Wayne Rooney’s unveiling as a Manchester United player, but at the time Sir Alex Ferguson felt the need to defend blowing United’s entire transfer budget for the following year on a teenager. “The fact is he is 18 and he could spend all his career at this club,” Ferguson pointed out to the gathered media while his player, all gawky jug ears and clear, hard, unblinking teenage talent, held up a red shirt and smiled politely.

Four weeks later Rooney scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut, leading the Manchester Evening News to note slightly saltily: “To some pundits it appeared to be a huge gamble. But surely not any more.”

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NFL Championship Games predictions: Falcons to end Packers' hopes

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:00:03 GMT2017-01-20T10:00:03Z

Aaron Rodgers has had a great run but injuries will catch up with Green Bay, while the Patriots’ struggles against Houston do not bode well for Tom Brady

Just like that, the end game is upon us. A starting field of 32 NFL teams has been whittled down to four. And of our 226 Pick The Playoffs contestants, a mere 12 are still in with a shot of a perfect score. Congratulations to bouncebounceprod, francaise, Mark Lewis, MisterHorse, mmmbop86, nbcnfl, Nick Young, ShadowWarrior, smjdublin, themagicman, waterhoose and, yes, me on calling every postseason game correctly so far.

I’ll post the full standings in the comments section below shortly. But before that, here are my picks for the Conference Championship Games.

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Pep Guardiola blames bad finishing and not referee for draw with Tottenham

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:31:20 GMT2017-01-21T21:31:20Z

• No penalty for Raheem Sterling moments before Tottenham equaliser
• Manchester City manager: ‘We did not win because we missed chances’

Pep Guardiola resisted the temptation to blame the referee for Manchester City being held at home by Tottenham, preferring to insist that had his players taken more of the chances they created the failure to award a clear penalty would not have mattered.

That is true, though it would be equally valid to point out that had Andre Marriner and his assistants spotted Kyle Walker’s push on Raheem Sterling seconds before Spurs drew level, City would not only have had a penalty and the chance to go 3-1 up but would most likely have played the remainder of the game against 10 men.

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Wayne Rooney breaks Manchester United scoring record with equaliser against Stoke City

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 17:10:27 GMT2017-01-21T17:10:27Z

Stoke City presented a new striker, Saido Berahino, before kick-off but wound up sickened by a goalscoring great. Wayne Rooney broke Stoke’s hearts as he surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record for Manchester United, stepping up four minutes into stoppage time to plunder his 250th goal for the club. It was an excellent strike a historic moment for Rooney and a mighty relief for his team.

After 90 minutes United looked on the brink of a defeat that would have ended their 16-game unbeaten run and hampered their hopes of climbing into the top four, let alone mounting an improbable title challenge. But Rooney left an indelible mark on the occasion by reaching a career tally for United that may never be matched.

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Gylfi Sigurdsson and Swansea stun Liverpool in five-goal thriller

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 14:38:25 GMT2017-01-21T14:38:25Z

The race to the finish line has started already according to Jürgen Klopp and by those punishing standards Liverpool have faltered badly. Swansea City belied their league position, their form and their history here to rise off the foot of the Premier League with an accomplished display that reverberated all the way to the top.

A cold, flat and goalless first half gave way to a remarkable second when Fernando Llorente gave Paul Clement’s team a two-goal lead only for Roberto Firmino to lead a comeback and level matters. Liverpool sensed another statement victory in their pursuit of the title but another defensive lapse enabled Gylfi Sigurdsson to seal Swansea’s first league win here. A first home league defeat for more than a year left Klopp and his players feeling bad and the hangover will be even worse should Chelsea open up a 10-point gap with victory over Hull City on Sunday.

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Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos bounces back with double to see off Málaga

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 17:50:46 GMT2017-01-21T17:50:46Z

Sergio Ramos made amends for his untimely own goal last week at Sevilla by scoring twice as Real Madrid bounced back from two successive defeats to beat Málaga 2-1 on Saturday and move four points clear at the top of La Liga.

The Real Madrid captain headed his side in front in the 35th minute by powering Toni Kroos’s outswinging corner beyond Carlos Kameni and struck again in the 43rd when he slid in a free-kick from his German team-mate from close range to net his third goal in four games.

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Formula One pulled a fast one on the US taxman – and it's all perfectly legal

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 12:00:00 GMT2017-01-21T12:00:00Z

Liberty Media, the new owner of motor racing’s premier series, has set up a tax-efficient structure that takes profits by way of the Cayman Islands and Delaware


When Liberty Media finalized the takeover of Formula One auto racing’s parent company Delta Topco last week, it should have been music to the ears of America’s taxman.

F1 is the world’s most popular motor sport, famous for the high-speed races it holds at glitzy locations from Malaysia to Monaco. Close to half a billion people watched the last season. And under its shiny hood beats a powerful business engine.

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Johnny Manziel wants to return to NFL: 'I only need one team to believe in me'

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:31:43 GMT2017-01-20T19:31:43Z

  • Manziel tells ESPN he’s sober and wants to resume NFL career
  • Former Heisman winner: ‘I’ll do anything to make that a possibility’

The NFL may be done with Johnny Manziel, but Johnny Manziel insists he’s not done with the NFL.

The former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback says he’s achieved sobriety on his own and is determined to resume his career.

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Australian Open: Johanna Konta powers through against Caroline Wozniacki

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 06:47:17 GMT2017-01-21T06:47:17Z

  • British No1 Johanna Konta beats Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1
  • Ekaterina Makarova will be fourth-round opponent

Johanna Konta is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open to play Ekaterina Makarova - for the second year in a row - after beating the former world No1 Caroline Wozniacki in an hour-and-a-quarter on day six, and there are sound reasons to believe she can reach the final weekend of the tournament.

She got to the semi-finals 12 months ago when ranked 47 in the world, losing to the eventual champion, Angelique Kerber, but her immediate goal is to get past Makarova again on Monday and then, in all probability, Serena Williams in the quarter-finals two days later.

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Chelsea and Tottenham will find progress has a price at capital grounds | Daniel Taylor

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 20:00:09 GMT2017-01-21T20:00:09Z

Even though their new stadiums will still be at Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane, with total rebuilds Chelsea and Tottenham will be losing history and memories

It isn’t always easy remembering what Stamford Bridge used to be like before the money arrived. Suffice to say, though, it was nothing like the shiny, photogenic ground Chelsea call home now. Stamford Bridge had soul. But it was hard-faced, too, and a little eccentric bearing in mind it was the only ground in the country where there was enough space for drivers to park round the edge of the pitch, meaning games would take place with a forecourt-style display of motors – including a sky-blue Robin Reliant if memory serves right – behind one goal. Handy for a quick getaway – but not without risks, given the number of occasions a stray shot would thud against someone’s near-side panel, followed by an unsympathetic cheer from the Shed.

If that sounds like an American drive-in movie theatre, in reality it was never quite that glamorous. Away fans in those days would be steered up some steps to a rough, crumbling terrace that is now the Matthew Harding stand. The facilities were basic, to say the least. There was often a sense of danger and Brian Clough described the away dressing room as a pigsty after one visit, otherwise notable for a smoke bomb being set off, with his Nottingham Forest side in 1977. The publicity was so embarrassing for Chelsea that one of their supporters, a painter and decorator, wrote to the club offering to spruce up the place free of charge.

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Non-league to Premier League: Jamie Vardy won’t be the last to make the leap

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:00:01 GMT2017-01-22T10:00:01Z

Andre Gray, Dwight Gayle and Scott Hogan are recent examples of players finding a way to the top after initial failure and there are many more hidden gems to be found outside the league

“I got made redundant by Bentley on the Tuesday, which was crazy because I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said Arsenal’s new signing Cohen Bramall earlier this month. “My agent Lee Payne rings me on the Wednesday saying you’ve got a trial at Arsenal. I was like: ‘What?’ I was gobsmacked.”

Last week, the 20-year-old former sprinter made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt since his shock £40,000 move from Northern Premier League Premier Division side Hednesford Town, playing 83 minutes in a 3-1 victory over Southampton in the under-23 league. Following in the footsteps of England internationals Malcolm Macdonald, John Barnes, Ian Wright, Jamie Vardy and many others, Bramall’s journey to one of the biggest clubs in the land via 200-mile trips to training on the back of his father’s motorbike, rejection by local side Crewe and an audacious rabona assist that was featured on Soccer AM, is the stuff of schoolboy dreams.

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Said & Done: Fifa’s new focus; Dimitri Payet; and Orient’s golden ticket

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 09:05:41 GMT2017-01-22T09:05:41Z

Also featuring: Africa’s clean break; Felipe Melo; and feeling heavy with drink

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin – assessing what makes the rebranded Fifa 2.0 better: “I can see their objective of World Cup expansion is to make money. That’s one thing you can see clearly now: the new Fifa is more focused on income.”

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Steve Bruce attacks Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack for missing training

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:51:20 GMT2017-01-21T21:51:20Z

• Bruce claims absence was due to broken electric gates at striker’s home
• Manager says McCormack will not play again until attitude improves

Steve Bruce said he will refuse to pick Ross McCormack until the striker’s attitude towards training improves after leaving him out of Aston Villa’s 2-2 draw with Preston. The striker, a £12m signing from Fulham in the summer, has been linked with a loan back to Craven Cottage, but Bruce denied any deal was close. Instead, he questioned the 30-year-old’s commitment to the cause.

Related: Football League your thoughts: Tom Ince on target against to boost Derby County

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Jürgen Klopp unhappy with Liverpool’s defence after Swansea loss

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 16:47:14 GMT2017-01-21T16:47:14Z

• ‘Nearly everything was wrong’ for winning goal, says manager
• Klopp calls suggestions title aspirations are damaged ‘harsh’

Jürgen Klopp said Liverpool felt “really bad” after their Premier League title aspirations were damaged by a shock 3-2 defeat at home to relegation-threatened Swansea City.

Related: Gylfi Sigurdsson and Swansea stun Liverpool in five-goal thriller at Anfield

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Watford agree £2.3m deal to sign striker Mauro Zárate from Fiorentina

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 00:03:13 GMT2017-01-22T00:03:13Z

• 29-year-old Argentinian has been offered two-and-a-half year deal
• Zárate has previously played for Birmingham, West Ham and QPR

Watford have agreed a deal with Fiorentina to sign the striker Mauro Zárate for £2.3m. The 29-year-old Argentinian has been offered a two-and-a-half year deal and the Premier League club are expected to announce the signing in the next couple of days.

Related: Transfer window January 2017: every deal in Europe's top five leagues

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Andy Carroll’s double sinks Middlesbrough as West Ham climb table

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 17:26:00 GMT2017-01-21T17:26:00Z

Andy Carroll not only scored twice but made a compelling case for an England recall as West Ham United’s mid-winter revival continued with a fifth win in seven league games.

Much more of this from Slaven Bilic’s side and the striking Dimitri Payet will seem both increasingly dispensable and an even bigger idiot than he already appeared.

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AFL mulls venue change for women's competition opener due to popularity

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 06:48:39 GMT2017-01-22T06:48:39Z

  • Collingwood due to play Carlton at Olympic Park on 3 February
  • Princes Park under consideration due to larger capacity

Growing interest in the AFL women’s competition may force the league to move next month’s season opener between Carlton and Collingwood to a bigger venue. The traditional AFL club rivals had been scheduled to face off under lights at Melbourne’s 7,000-capacity Olympic Park on 3 February.

But AFL game development manager Simon Lethlean has confirmed the league will consider moving the prime-time clash to nearby Princes Park, which should be able to hold between 17,000 and 20,000 fans.

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Caleb Ewan claims last stage of Tour Down Under as Richie Porte wins title

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 05:40:22 GMT2017-01-22T05:40:22Z

  • Ewan narrowly beats Peter Sagan to win stage six in Adelaide
  • Porte’s 48-second triumph is second-largest margin in the race’s history

Australian sprint ace Caleb Ewan has won the last Tour Down Under stage as compatriot Richie Porte confirmed his overall title.

Ewan (Orica-Scott) narrowly beat two-time defending world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to take out stage six, a 90km Adelaide street race. It is Ewan’s fourth stage win in this Tour and his seventh win already this year. Ewan dominated the sprint stages and also took out the points classification.

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Wales ask to play all Six Nations home games under closed Cardiff roof

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:00:12 GMT2017-01-21T22:00:12Z

• Rob Howley believes it leads to better games at the Principality Stadium
• Wales host England and Ireland in Cardiff in 2017 Six Nations

Wales have asked Six Nations organisers to classify the Principality Stadium as a closed-roof ground, meaning all matches in the tournament would be played under cover regardless of the weather.

The roof may be closed currently only if both teams agree, which has led to mind games in the week of a match. With bonus points being trialled in the Six Nations this year, the Wales interim head coach, Rob Howley, believes it is the ideal opportunity to take advantage of the stadium’s roof.

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Eddie Jones sees a bright future with Sherylle Calder in England camp

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:00:12 GMT2017-01-21T22:00:12Z

• Jones: ‘She will work with all the backs, but especially the back field guys’
• Hartley not named England captain when squad was announced

Eddie Jones believes the crackdown on high tackling will stimulate attacking rugby, one reason why he has hired the vision specialist Dr Sherylle Calder through to the 2019 World Cup.

Calder, who worked with England’s 2003 World Cup-winners, will be involved in the squad’s training camp in Portugal this coming week. Jones has asked her to pay special attention to the back five players in the 34, the full-back Mike Brown and the wings Jack Nowell, Marland Yarde, Jonny May and Anthony Watson.

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Bundesliga roundup: Werner strikes as RB Leipzig outclass Eintracht Frankfurt

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:38:24 GMT2017-01-21T21:38:24Z

• Leipzig back to within three points of Bayern Munich after 3-0 win
• Hoffenheim, Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg all record wins

RB Leipzig moved back to within three points of the Bundesliga leaders, Bayern Munich, with a comfortable 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday evening.

Marvin Compper, Timo Werner and a Jesús Vallejo own goal sealed the victory after the visitors had their goalkeeper, Lukas Hradecky, sent off for handling outside the box after just three minutes.

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Wayne Rooney: breaking Manchester United scoring record a huge honour

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 19:50:20 GMT2017-01-21T19:50:20Z

• Striker scored 250th goal against Stoke, surpassing Bobby Charlton’s total
• Charlton: ‘He’s a true great for club and country’

Wayne Rooney, a teenager when he arrived at Manchester United more than a decade ago, beamed with delight on Saturday after plundering a stoppage-time equaliser to become the club’s outright leading goalscorer.

A free-kick against Stoke City brought his 250th goal for United and, by being both exquisite and dramatic, it was a fitting way for Rooney, on as a substitute, to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton’s record.

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Jürgen Klopp rues defending after Swansea beat Liverpool at Anfield – video

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 19:37:09 GMT2017-01-21T19:37:09Z

Jürgen Klopp says poor defending is to blame following Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat to Swansea at Anfield on Saturday. Newly-appointed Swansea manager Paul Clement says his side showed confidence and character in the win, and hopes it will give the team a lift going forward

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The gifs that keep on giving: laughter, face football and two big clearances

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 10:00:32 GMT2017-01-21T10:00:32Z

Featuring two UFC fighters trying to pretend, a new form of badminton, fast fists, a very short game of pool and an exceedingly chamring basketball player

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Ravens' Zach Orr retires from NFL at 24 because of serious spine condition

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:34:24 GMT2017-01-20T17:34:24Z

  • Baltimore linebacker says doctors ‘probably ended up saving my life’
  • Doctors told Orr he wouldn’t be able to pass an NFL physical again

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Zach Orr is retiring from the game at the age of 24 because of a congenital spine condition that puts him in danger of serious injury.

Orr, the Ravens’ leading tackler this season, made the announcement on Friday. He said fewer than 1% of people are born with his condition.

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Woody Johnson's record as Jets owner bodes ill for UK 'special relationship'

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:33:52 GMT2017-01-20T16:33:52Z

If America doesn’t win anymore as Donald Trump groused on the campaign trail, then his choice of the Jets owner for UK ambassador is a curious one

If the success of New England during Woody Johnson’s tenure as New York Jets owner is any indication, then old England and the rest of the United Kingdom is in for a real treat during his time as US ambassador to the UK.

President-elect Donald Trump tabbed Johnson for the most prestigious ambassadorship in the US Foreign Service on Thursday, exactly 381 days after mocking the man on Twitter for helming a losing football team.

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Venus Williams crushes Ying-Ying Duan in 58 minutes at Australian Open

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:05:04 GMT2017-01-20T15:05:04Z

• No13 seed, now aged 36, wins 6-1, 6-0
• Williams will meet unseeded Mona Barthel in fourth round

Before anyone rushes to talk up the chances of Venus Williams winning her first Australian Open title, it is worth remembering that she will face stiffer challenges than the one posed to her by Ying-Ying Duan. Williams could hardly have wished for a more deferential opponent than Duan, who resembled little more than a hitting partner for the American.

Related: Ashleigh Barty's dream Australian Open return ends in loss to Mona Barthel

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NFC Championship Game preview: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons – video

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:23:26 GMT2017-01-20T14:23:26Z

Two of the NFL’s leading offenses will meet in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday as the Green Bay Packers face the Atlanta Falcons in Georgia. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has put up impressive numbers this year, throwing for 38 touchdowns in the regular season

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Sports quiz of the week: Novak Djokovic, Xabi Alonso and Marco van Basten

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:28:56 GMT2017-01-20T12:28:56Z

Who beat Real Madrid? Who said sorry? And which record fell in Melbourne?• Afcon 2017 nicknames quiz: do you know the Warriors from the Pharaohs?Xabi Alonso is to retire at the end of the season, having won league titles in Spain and Germany, the Champions League with Liverpool and Real Madrid and the World Cup and European Championship with Spain. Where did he start his career?Real BetisReal SociedadReal MadridValenciaNovak Djokovic won’t be wining the Australian Open this year. How many times has he won it?Two FourSixEightNon-league Lincoln City have made it into the FA Cup fourth round for the first time since 1976. Who was their manager that season?Don Revie Bill Shankly Bobby Robson Graham TaylorReal Madrid went unbeaten for 40 matches then lost two in a row to which clubs?Valencia and Barcelona Sevilla and Celta VigoAtlético Madrid and Granada Deportivo La Coruña and Málaga Why did Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown apologise to his coach and team-mates?For posting a video from the dressing room in which his coach called the Steelers’ opponents ‘assholes’For missing training and then being caught tweeting from the golf course For taking his coach's daughter out for a nice seafood dinner and never calling her againFor posting a quote on Instagram that suggested a referee was biased Which record did Ivo Karlovic break in the first round of the Australian Open?At 37, he became the oldest player to compete in the men’s singlesHe hit 75 aces, the most in a match in the tournament’s historyHe lost three sets in 28 minutes, making it the shortest defeat in the open eraHe lost in the first round for a record 23rd year runningWhat happened to referee Carl Cheffers after his officiating was called ‘horseshit’ by Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs?He retired from the NFL and was offered a deal by the NBAHe was appointed to referee next month’s Super BowlHe was backed by his fellow referees, who threatened to strike unless the Chiefs apologisedHe offered Kelce an arm wrestling contest in the post-match press conferenceWho stepped in to caddie for Lee Westwood at the Abu Dhabi Championship this week when his regular bagman had to travel home?Westwood’s girlfriend, Helen StoreyHis old mate, Darren Clarke Sheikh Mansour, the Manchester City owner Rory McIlroy, who had pulled out with a rib injuryMarco van Basten, who is now working for Fifa, has suggested some changes to the laws of football. Which of these ideas did he not put forward?Scrapping the offside rule Introducing sin bins and orange cards Restricting players to '55 or 60' games a year Requiring that referees have 'played the game'Why is Tokyo’s governor unhappy about the golf course that will host the Olympic tournament in 2020? No one has played on it since October due to waterlogging The club does not admit women as full membersThe governor is disappointed that every hole does not have a bunkerIt is a par 72 and the governor believes that is an unlucky number Continue reading...[...]


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The forgotten story of … Jeff Hall, the footballer whose death turned tide against polio | Simon Burnton

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 10:15:26 GMT2016-12-09T10:15:26Z

It took the sudden passing of the 28-year-old England right-back in 1959 to get a generation pouring into clinics for inoculation against a disease that in the previous 10 years had killed over 3,000 people in England and Wales

On the face of it there was nothing particularly memorable about Birmingham City’s 1-1 draw at relegation-bound Portsmouth in March 1959 but for the sense of disappointment the visitors took from it. “Blues did themselves no credit in this so-casual stroll in the sun,” wrote Dennis Shaw in Birmingham’s Sports Argus. “Portsmouth did all they could to show why they have not won a league game since November. Blues were little better. After shooting into the lead shortly before the interval they just hadn’t the skill, and the drive, nor the determination to run up a hefty total. On a pitch like concrete the ball was ballooned back and forth over the halfway line like a ping-pong game.”

At right-back for City, making his 227th league appearance for the club, was 28-year-old Jeff Hall. Two days later he was diagnosed with polio, and within a fortnight he was dead.

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The Fiver | The special cheese lounge at Spurs

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:00:09 GMT2017-01-20T16:00:09Z

In today’s Fiver: gastrofooty, David Moyes’ rallying cry and a funk in France

The Fiver have been clean 28 days, six hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. That’s how long it’s been since we ate our last bit of ill-smelling cheese. It was one bite too many and prompted a sickening Twin Peaks-themed dream in which we looked in the mirror, saw Brian Kilcline staring back, and could not stop shouting “How’s Granny Fiver?” All of which makes it a particularly sadistic decision by The Man to ask us to write about the special cheese lounge at Spurs’ new stadium!

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The Joy of Six: epic football goalmouth scrambles | Michael Butler

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:52:33 GMT2017-01-20T10:52:33Z

From Australia’s Matildas to Joe Duckworth’s heroics for Reading in 1929, via Blackpool and Brazil, here are six of the best penalty-box pinballs

Related: The Joy of Six: comedy football goals | Rob Smyth

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It's time to introduce a two-legged MLS Cup - with a twist

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:00:10 GMT2016-10-24T09:00:10Z

The single final is insufficient, and the two-leg final doesn’t reward the higher-seeded team for their regular-season performance. So why not combine the two?

Do US soccer leagues need their own Super Bowl, a week-long festival of the sport at a neutral site? Or should they reward the best regular-season team with home-field advantage for the final game?

Related: Didier Drogba fined but not suspended for Montreal Impact tantrum

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Graham Taylor remembered, the mini Mike Tyson and Hail Marys | Classic YouTube

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 10:23:36 GMT2017-01-19T10:23:36Z

This week’s roundup also features Sutton United, Pointless, Neymar’s acting and a double animal cameo in Mexico

1) The rise and rise of Watford under Graham Taylor included 1999’s play-off final victory – his fifth promotion at the club, and a moment that left an overwhelmed Elton John paying tribute via satellite link-up: “I’m very emotional as I speak … you know how much I think of you … To me you are the best, and the best person.” Warmth, humour and decency are themes in the footage from Taylor’s career – including in this BBC profile from 1990; a 5 Live interview from 1996 reflecting on the England experience; Taylor, Bobby Robson and Terry Venables in their 1994 Yellow Pages advert; and a chat with Des O’Connor in 1994, which began in self-effacing style: “There’s something wrong here … I’m being clapped by a crowd for the first time in four years.” Among the reactions to Taylor’s death on 12 January was this from his 5 Live colleague Mark Pougatch: “Graham Taylor showed the way to behave, to treat people – and to know what’s really important in life.”

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Will Jesus be Manchester City's saviour against Spurs? – Football Weekly Extra

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:30:54 GMT2017-01-19T16:30:54Z

The podders look ahead to a huge weekend in the Premier League. Plus, an update from the Africa Cup of Nations, and Juventus’ controversial new crest

Subscribe and review: iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast & Stitcher.

On today’s Football Weekly Extra, James Richardson, James Horncastle, Paolo Bandini and Gregg Bakowski do their level best to not forget anything as they preview a crucial weekend at the top and bottom of the Premier League.

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Claudio Bravo still in the spotlight despite clangers from Spurs’ Hugo Lloris | Paul Wilson

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:16:25 GMT2017-01-21T22:16:25Z

The theory was that Manchester City look vulnerable unless they score the first goal but despite scoring the first two they managed to end up with only a point against Tottenham in an exciting 2-2 draw at the Etihad

Claudio Bravo was the goalkeeper under pressure going into this match; Hugo Lloris was the one who ended up going to pieces. While Manchester City’s last line of defence did not exactly redeem his reputation, Tottenham’s goalkeeping was the greater influence on the game, with Lloris responsible for two errors in quick succession at the start of the second half.

The only slight good news for Pep Guardiola, whose top four hopes are fading by the week, is that, regardless of goalkeeping, City actually deserved to win this game. Placing their faith in attack and creating far more chances than their high-flying opponents, City could and probably should have been out of sight even before Lloris lent them a hand, and they were harshly denied a penalty before Spurs drew level.

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Wayne Rooney becomes Manchester United's record goalscorer – video

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 17:24:07 GMT2017-01-21T17:24:07Z

Wayne Rooney scored his 250th goal for Manchester United against Stoke City on Saturday to become the club’s record goalscorer. His late equaliser for United took him past the 249 Sir Bobby Charlton scored for the club. Charlton’s record, held since 1973, took place over a 17-year playing career at Manchester United

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Australian Open day six: Nadal, Williams and Konta through to last-16 – video highlights

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 15:02:49 GMT2017-01-21T15:02:49Z

Rafael Nadal survived a five-set thriller on Saturday, overcoming Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2. Serena Williams says she has ‘nothing to prove’ after beating Nicole Gibbs in straight sets, while British No1 Johanna Konta beat former world No1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1

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Australian Open tennis 2017: day six in pictures

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 07:05:32 GMT2017-01-21T07:05:32Z

The best images of the day from the 2017 Australian Open tennis tournament during day six of competition in Melbourne.

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Eddie Jones urges England players to focus on Six Nations – video

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:57:41 GMT2017-01-20T13:57:41Z

England rugby union coach Eddie Jones issues a warning to his players on Friday after naming his squad for the upcoming Six Nations tournament. Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Jones says players cannot afford to be distracted by the prospect of touring New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions later this year.

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Australian Open day five: Murray, Evans and Federer all win – video highlights

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:49:38 GMT2017-01-20T10:49:38Z

Andy Murray eased into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday, defeating Sam Querrey in straight sets in Melbourne. The world No1 will be joined in the next round by Dan Evans, the British No3, who beat Australian Bernard Tomic. It is the first time Evans has reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam. Third seed Stan Wawrinka is also through, as is women’s top seed Angelique Kerber

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Premier League preview: a look ahead to the weekend's action – video

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 08:41:09 GMT2017-01-20T08:41:09Z

We take a look ahead to this weekend’s Premier League games: Liverpool host Swansea at Anfield, Manchester United visit Stoke, Manchester City welcome Tottenham to the north-west, Burnley go to Arsenal and Chelsea take on Hull City at Stamford Bridge

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Australian Open tennis: day five – in pictures

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:19:22 GMT2017-01-20T07:19:22Z

The best images of the day from a rain delayed day five of the 2017 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne

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AFC Championship Game preview: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots – video

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:18:27 GMT2017-01-19T14:18:27Z

The Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Massachusetts to face the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. For the victors, a place in Super Bowl LI awaits. New England are aiming to reach to their seventh NFL title game of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era while Pittsburgh are hoping to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time in six years

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Sport picture of the day: Alfie Spinner earns his stripes at Wincanton

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 11:44:30 GMT2017-01-20T11:44:30Z

The shadow of the wing of the fence shows on the side of Alfie Spinner as he jumps the chase fence in front of the grandstands at Wincanton Racecourse. The 9-1 shot, with Jamie Moore on board, led all the way to win The Higos Insurance Services Somerset National Handicap Steeple Chase

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Sport picture of the day: Carlos Tevez arrives in China

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:01:30 GMT2017-01-19T11:01:30Z

Carlos Tevez makes his way through the arrivals hall at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Tevez arrived to a rousing welcome from hundreds of Shanghai Shenhua fans, after a move that is thought to make him the world’s top-earning footballer

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Australian Open 2017 day seven: Murray dumped out, Federer v Nishikori and more – live! | Les Roopanarine

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:31:37 GMT2017-01-22T10:31:37Z

Fourth set: Nishikori 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 1-6, 1-2 Federer* (*denotes server)

A wayward forehand from Nishikori seals another solid hold for Federer, the former champion clenching a fist in approval. It follows one of the best points of the night, a wonderful rally that ends with Nishikori racing on to a short ball to slam a backhand pass beyond the Swiss at the net. But it’s an increasingly rare ray of light for the Japanese.

Fourth set: Nishikori* 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 1-6, 1-1 Federer (*denotes server)

When Nishikori is on song, he strikes the ball with a purity that frequently has the locker room crowding around the TV. Extended on his serve yet again, he is forced to dig deep into that bag of tricks merely to stay on an equal footing. Stretching every sinew, he produces some wonderful forehands to see out the game. But it doesn’t exactly bode well for his quarter-final prospects.

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India v England: third one-day international – live!

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:31:25 GMT2017-01-22T10:31:25Z

35th over: England 202-3 (Bairstow 41, Buttler 7) First signs of proper turn, as Bairstow wears a spitting delivery from Jadeja on the glove. Buttler’s undone later, but goes hard at the ball for a boundary just beyond Kohli at fist slip.

34th over: England 195-3 (Bairstow 40, Buttler 1) So Morgan goes and his vice-captain, Jos Buttler, replaces him. Pandya with the breakthrough. The replays show he ran his fingers down one side of the ball, but the delivery was off-line. A yard either side of Bumrah and that’s four. Ten feet higher and it’s six, too. On such margins....

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Australia v Pakistan: fourth one-day international - live!

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:29:57 GMT2017-01-22T10:29:57Z

39th over: Pakistan 229-6 (Rizwan 7, Imad 3)

Sniffer Smith keen to wrap this game up early, he’s got Starc and Hazlewood in tandem. Starc attacking the stumps in this over, but he can’t break through. Three singles from the over. Death, where is thy sting? It surely has gone out of this match.

38th over: Pakistan 226-6 (Rizwan 6, Imad 1)

Two new batsmen at the crease, really only a matter of a Happy Hour slogfest or a free net session here. What would you do? Hazlewood is bowling consistently outside off now looking for edges, so Imad slaps one to point, Rizwan does the same for two, and then he finishes off the over by doing it four four. I wonder if they can keep up this rate of incremental increase? Next scoring shot will 8, then 16, then 32 - they could win this in five balls.

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San Diego refused to be bullied by the NFL and billionaire owners | Les Carpenter

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:27:59 GMT2017-01-12T18:27:59Z

The Chargers are moving to Los Angeles because the city chose to put its own needs before those of a sports franchise and its wealthy backers

Sooner or later the public welfare office for sports billionaires is going to close. American cities will look at the more than $7bn of taxpayer money spent in the last 20 years on football stadiums alone and say: “Enough!”

On Thursday, the San Diego Chargers announced they will be leaving the city where they have played for the last 56 years, and will move to Los Angeles. They are doing this because the politicians and voters in San Diego did not give Chargers owner Dean Spanos the same golden gift Atlanta and Seattle and all the other capitulating municipalities gave their ridiculously wealthy teams’ owners.

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Chargers confirm they're leaving San Diego and heading to LA

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 21:20:45 GMT2017-01-12T21:20:45Z

  • Owner Dean Spanos announces he’s moving the team to Los Angeles
  • Chargers will play at StubHub Center until new stadium is built in 2019
  • ‘Dean Spanos made a bad decision and he will regret it,’ says mayor

The Chargers have officially announced they’re leaving San Diego and moving to LA. The switch means Los Angeles will have two NFL teams for the first time in decades.

In a letter published on Thursday morning, Chargers owner Dean Spanos confirmed the team would be relocating in time for the new season. The Chargers had until a league-mandated deadline of Tuesday to make a decision on their future.

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Australian Open: Rafael Nadal survives five-set thriller against Alexander Zverev

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 10:09:33 GMT2017-01-21T10:09:33Z

• Spaniard comes through 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2
• Gaël Monfils or Philipp Kohlschreiber next up for Nadal

Rafael Nadal delivered a resounding message to his Australian Open rivals by coming from behind to win a five-set thriller against Alexander Zverev.

Nadal defied doubts about both his fitness and form during a pulsating four-hour contest on Rod Laver Arena, at the end of which he had beaten Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2.

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Lizzie Armitstead did not challenge missed drug test until Rio place threatened

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 10:12:53 GMT2016-08-02T10:12:53Z

• Armitstead’s reprieve for Olympic Games questioned by fellow athletes
• Ukad says British cyclist chose not to contest two ‘whereabouts’ tests

Lizzie Armitstead did not challenge a missed drug test from 2015 until she faced an 11th-hour ban from the Olympics for missing three controls, UK’s anti‑doping federation has said.

Drug testers from UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) could not find the world road race champion on three occasions during the past year, resulting in an automatic suspension from the sport pending an independent review into whether she had violated doping rules.

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Roger Federer blitzes Tomas Berdych at Australian Open 2017 – as it happened

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:12:57 GMT2017-01-20T12:12:57Z

Roger Federer will play Kei Nishikori in the fourth round after crushing Tomas Berdych in straight sets

Roger Federer laps up the acclaim from the crowd, who are giving him a standing ovation after that destruction of poor Tomas Berdych, who waves and puffs out his cheeks as he walks off. That took all of 90 minutes for Federer. “I always felt against better ranked players, you lift your game,” Federer says. “I didn’t expect it to go quite this hard. I had no expectations. In practice things were going well, but I’ve never been the practice king.” He’s still the king in other ways, though, and it promises to be a fascinating occasion when he faces Kei Nishikori in the fourth round on Sunday. That’s all from me for today. Thanks for reading. Bye.

Federer whips a backhand pass beyond Berdych for 15-0, before a punchy forehand makes it 30-0. An ace down the middle brings up three match points. He squanders the first with a dismal backhand, but a beautiful backhand on the second wraps it up. That was an absurd performance from, er, the world No17.

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Australian Open: Nadal, Pliskova and Dimitrov reach round four – as it happened | Les Roopanarine

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 15:06:02 GMT2017-01-21T15:06:02Z

Dimitrov says he’s off for an ice bath. After a marathon day six in Melbourne, I think I might need one too. Thanks for reading, enjoy the rest of your Saturday, and see you again tomorrow.

Third set: Dimitrov* 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 Gasquet (*denotes server)

It’s all over! Despite a final gesture of defiance from Gasquet, who rips a return deep into Dimitrov’s forehand corner to save a match point, the Bulgarian seals a thoroughly deserved victory. That was some performance.

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Dan Evans the entertaining maverick has matured at Australian Open

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 13:38:57 GMT2017-01-21T13:38:57Z

Evans has been embroiled in Twitter spats and critical of fans, but he has found consistency on his way to the last-16 match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Whatever else happens to the extraordinary career and interesting life of Dan Evans, it has already been a ride of which Evel Knievel would be envious. He is the daredevil of his calling, a calculated risk-taker who has flirted with disaster on occasion, but has matured just in time to survive and to make the most of his considerable gifts with a racket.

In what was probably the most entertaining press conference any seasoned hack present had witnessed, the 26-year-old Birmingham maverick the other night revealed facets of his character and personality rarely seen on court, but which occasionally surface away from the workplace, usually when the trains and buses have stopped running but the beer hasn’t, and his mates have gathered around to talk about Aston Villa or cricket or boxing or ... well, it helps to have an imagination in such circumstances.

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How a new coach made Kei Nishikori a grand slam contender

Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:47:05 GMT2015-08-27T14:47:05Z

In 2013, the Japanese youngster added Michael Chang to his coaching staff – and with the US Open just around the corner, Nishikori is feeling confident of success

How does one begin to measure toughness? It’s probably most akin to gauging or producing team chemistry, and about as tangible. Lucky for Kei Nishikori and his coach, American legend Michael Chang, both have seemed to arrive for them almost effortlessly, with favorable results nearly as rapidly.

Since naming Chang, the former world No 2 and the 1989 French Open champion, to a support team that includes longtime coach Dante Bottini, Nishikori’s game and results have continued to grow. After turning pro in 2007, the top-ranked Japanese player slowly rose in the rankings up to a career-high No 11 for a handful of weeks in 2013, ending that season at No 17. But talk about impact. Since Chang began working with him, Nishikori, now 25, has won seven of his 10 ATP titles (including three this season), broken into the top five (he’s currently No 4 in the world), and made it to his first grand slam final at last year’s US Open.

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Insurrection in the air as Dan Evans eyes semi-final with Andy Murray

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 22:01:15 GMT2017-01-20T22:01:15Z

• Australian No27 seed Tomic falls 7-5, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3)
• Briton now faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his first last-16 slam match

The prospect of Dan Evans playing Andy Murray in the semi-final of a slam had probably not occurred to anyone outside Birmingham until day five of this Australian Open, but there is insurrection in the air. Against all odds and forecasts, anything seems possible.

Evans, who used to get homesick moving beyond Spaghetti Junction, is reaching out across wider tennis vistas and creating the sort of magic that impossible dreams are made of, while Murray is forging towards what he has every right to believe will be his first title in Melbourne. If they meet along the way, it would be a match to savour.

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Novak Djokovic endures Australian Open horror show of paralysis and self-doubt

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 08:28:55 GMT2017-01-19T08:28:55Z

This was drama Tennis Australia could not have dialled up in a movie, although they did not want their defending champion leaving in the first week

When the 117th best player in the world, Denis Istomin – here courtesy of a wildcard – put his 15th ace past the six-times champion, Novak Djokovic, in the fourth-set tie-break to take their second-round struggle into a deciding frame, disbelief dressed the Serb’s reddened face.

He could hardly believe a player he had beaten five times for the loss of only one set and 36 games was a handful of well-struck winners away from putting him out of the Australian Open, a tournament he all but owns. Now he had taken him for two sets and 28 games; it was his stage and his time to dream the impossible.

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Monty Panesar: 'I just want to play for England again, I’ve got to do it'

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:00:01 GMT2017-01-22T10:00:01Z

The spinner has been troubled on and off the pitch but a winter spent coaching in Australia has left him in positive mood for 2017

It was the Northamptonshire coach, David Ripley, who came up with the idea that Monty Panesar should spend this winter in Australia. If it seemed a risky move to send a man with well-documented mental health problems, kept in check by a robust support network, way out of his comfort zone then, listening to him talk, it is seeming an inspired idea.

The primary reason for his southern summer was to get revolutions in his troublesome left shoulder (in another bid to rouse his dormant elite-level career) playing grade cricket and coaching youngsters at Campbelltown-Camden just outside Sydney. But he has also trained with the Big Bash team Sydney Thunder, and is speaking from Brisbane, where Cricket Australia are tapping into his knowledge of taking wickets – and winning matches – in India to help the batsman Matt Renshaw and spinner Steve O’Keefe before their tour next month. He is pleased with the state of his shoulder, and his bowling; professionally, it is proving a fruitful jaunt. He has taken to coaching with glee and describing his method, he is calm and lucid.

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga too strong for Dan Evans in Australian Open fourth round

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 09:20:16 GMT2017-01-22T09:20:16Z

  • Tsonga wins 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4
  • Frenchman will play Stan Wawrinka, who beat Andreas Seppi

There’s no good time to lose a tennis match, but Dan Evans, who has had the week of his life, at least could leave the Australian Open under the shelter of the fallout from Andy Murray’s shock exit a couple of hours earlier than his own stout but vain effort against the 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The Frenchman had to play near his best to win their fourth-round match 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in just under three hours in the Hisense Arena, a couple of hundred yards from the earlier carnage on the main court of Rod Laver Arena. The Birmingham player fought hard all the way but Tsonga, who reached the final here in 2008 and the quarter-finals four years ago, was too strong over the distance.

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