Sunday, 25 October 2009


Five-star Chelsea back at the top

Lampard celebrates his second goal in front of a jubilant Chelsea crowd [GALLO/GETTY]Chelsea shot their way back to the top of the English Premier League with a resounding 5-0 record win over Blackburn.
Frank Lampard scored twice in a match dominated by Chelsea and his team led at half-time through an own-goal by Gael Givet.
Four second-half goals at Stamford Bridge sealed their biggest ever win in 102 years of games against Rovers.
"We wanted to bounce back and we've done it in style today,'' Lampard said.
"It was a determined performance and we've shown a little bit of what we're about.''
Tottenham could have gone level on points with leaders Manchester United with a victory but stayed in third place after a 1-0 loss to visiting Stoke, while Aston Villa drew 1-1 at lowly Wolves.
Sunderland were hoping to move into the top four but lost 2-1 at Birmingham.
In-form Lampard
Lampard scored with a firm shot, Michael Essien scored from about 35 yards, Lampard hit a penalty and Didier Drogba headed in, all goals coming by the 64th minute.
Chelsea now lead by two points from defending champions Manchester United, who could retake the top spot if they win at rivals Liverpool in a classic Sunday showdown.
Results & fixtures
Saturday October 24 B'ham 2-1 Sunderland Burnley 1-3 Wigan Chelsea 5-0 Blackburn Hull 0-0 Portsmouth Tottenham 0-1 Stoke Wolves 1-1 Aston VillaSunday October 25 Bolton v Everton Liverpool v Man Utd Man City v Fulham West Ham v ArsenalTottenham, Aston Villa and Sunderland all missed good chances to close on the leaders on Saturday.
Givet put Chelsea ahead in the 20th minute when he redirected Nicolas Anelka's pass into his own net, but the Blues had to wait until three minutes into the second half to score again.
Lampard rushed into the area to smash in a rebound, and nine minutes later Essien scored with a similarly fierce shot from about twice as far out.
Lampard scored a 59th-minute penalty following a foul by Ryan Nelsen on Drogba, and the Ivory Coast striker rounded off the scoring with a close-range header from a corner.
Chelsea have previously twice beaten Blackburn 5-1, most recently in 1964.
The Blues moved up to 24 points from 10 games, two more than United and five more than Tottenham, who dominated visiting Stoke but played the last 13 minutes with 10 men after an injury to winger Aaron Lennon and conceded a goal with four minutes left.
Frustration for Robbie Keane of Spurs [GALLO/GETTY]Missed chances
Ricardo Fuller burst down the right at White Hart Lane and cut a pass back to substitute Glenn Whelan, who smashed a shot past goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
"We had so many chances, the keeper's made great saves, they've kicked shots off the line and they've only had one shot worth talking about,'' Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said.
Tottenham's third loss of the season left them on 19 points and likely to be overtaken by Arsenal and Manchester City on Sunday.
The fourth-place Gunners are at West Ham, while fifth-place Manchester City host Fulham on Sunday. Bolton host Everton in Sunday's other match.
Villa are two points behind Tottenham in sixth place.
Villa took the lead in the 79th at Wolves through Gabriel Agbonlahor's sixth goal of the season but Sylvan Ebanks-Blake equalised four minutes later with a penalty awarded for a foul by Steve Sidwell.
Liam Ridgewell and James McFadden gave Birmingham victory over Sunderland, who scored only in the 82nd through an own goal.
Hugo Rodallega scored twice to lead Wigan to a 3-1 win at Burnley, while Portsmouth and Hull stayed in the bottom three after a 0-0 draw at KC Stadium.

Australia earn late draw

Australia mustered a 20-all draw against New Zealand in rugby league's Four Nations tournament at The Stoop in London after Cameron Smith scored a 79th-minute converted try.
The world champion New Zealand side slotted in four tries to Australia's three, but Smith's score and Johnathan Thurston's conversion secured a point for the Kangaroos.
The match was a physical one, featuring a first-half brawl involving most players.
Kiwi favourites
New Zealand had looked set to repeat last year's World Cup final upset when Lance Hohaia and Frank Pritchard crossed to establish a 20-14 lead in the 74th. Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Junior Sa'u had earlier scored for the Kiwis.
Nuuausala crashed over in the seventh minute after breaking the line 15 metres out and beating fullback Billy Slater for a converted try as New Zealand led 6-0.
Australia backrower Paul Gallen and Kiwi hooker Isaac Luke exchanged punches that sparked a brawl across the teams, with Kiwi forward Adam Blair sprinting 20 metres before torpedoing himself into a group of Kangaroos.
Australia drew level after Smith offloaded in a tackle to Greg Inglis, who ran 40 metres before finding Morris on his outside to touch down out wide.
Thurston converted the try from the sideline for a half-time score of 6-6, and he put Australia in front three minutes after the break by craftily stealing the ball from Hohaia only 10 metres out from the Kiwis' line to cross for an easy try.
Sa'u hit back in the 56th with a powerful run over the top of several defenders to draw New Zealand within reach, and subsequent tries by Hohaia and Pritchard looked to have sealed the match until Smith went over after good lead-up work by Inglis.
"At one stage it was a point lost, but in the end it was a point gained", said Australia coach Tim Sheens talking to the BBC.
"We had the game and enough ball, but they just wouldn't lie down and they defended their goal-line really well to frustrate us.
In the other game of the evening, Lebanon smashed Italy 86-0.

Rossi crowned world champion

Valentino Rossi celebrated his second successive MotoGP world championship title after finishing third at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The victory is the fourth championship title for the Italian with Yamaha and his seventh premier class world title overall in his glittering career.
Australian Ducati rider Casey Stoner brushed off the wet conditions at the Sepang circuit to snatch the lead from Dani Pedrosa on the first lap and then taking a commanding lead from the Spaniard.
Pedrosa finished in second place while Jorge Lorenzo, the only rider who had any hope of catching Rossi in the title race, finished fourth.
Chasing glory
Needing only a top four finish to seal the title, Rossi's title hopes were further bolstered when Spaniard Lorenzo was penalised for failing to take his starting position on time and made to start at the back of the grid.
Lorenzo, who had qualified second behind Rossi, battled his way up the order but his efforts came to nothing as Rossi settled after an early error and came home safely to win the title.
"It was a difficult year. This race reflected how the season went - very tough, with some mistakes, some disappointing results," Rossi told Mediaset television.
"But I won six races, I was consistent and it's another world championship. I thank all the team and everyone who's helped me."
Rossi has an insurmountable 286 points in the world title standings with Lorenzo on 245 and Stoner on 220 with the final race taking place in Valencia, Spain next month.
Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama earlier celebrated his 28th birthday in style with victory in the 250cc category ahead of second-placed Spaniard Hector Barbera and Italian champion Marco Simoncelli.
Aoyama holds a comfortable 21-point lead over Simoncelli going into the last race in Valencia.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Young medallist dies in crash

A 22-year-old Russian gymnast was killed in a car crash just five days after winning bronze at the world championships in London.
Police said Yury Ryazanov was killed on Tuesday as he was driving on a highway heading to his home city of Vladimir, around 200km east of Moscow.
His car collided head on with another vehicle, a spokesperson for the Russian gymnastics federation said.
He died at the scene.
Ryazanov had just returned home from England where he finished third in the all-around competition to claim Russia's first medal in the top individual event in a decade.
The young man was one of Russia's most promising gymnasts, winning this year's national all-around title and finishing third at the European championships in Milan.
"This is very tragic news for Russian gymnastics," federation spokeswoman Natalia Kulagina said.
"He was one of our most talented young athletes who could have achieved many great things for our sport."
Russia's overloaded roads are treacherous, with around 30,000 people dying in road accidents in the country last year according to official figures.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Ghana wins Under 20 World Cup

Ghana's head coach Sellas Tetteh celebrates his side victory [AFP]Ghana beat Brazil in a penalty shootout to become the first African team to win the Under-20 World Cup.
The final finished 0-0 after extra time at Cairo International Stadium, and Ghana's Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu scored the winning penalty to make it 4-3 after Brazil's Maicon missed a chance to win it at 3-2.
Ghana defender Daniel Addo was sent off in the 37th minute for a late tackle on Alex Teixeira as he ran through midfield.
But Brazil wasted several chances and struggled to break down Ghana's tenacious defence.
After Brazil goalkeeper Rafael saved poor penalties from defenders Jonathan Mensah and Bright Addae, Maicon stepped up to the spot with a chance to give Brazil its fifth tournament win.
But Maicon hesitated and sent his shot high over.
Then Dominic Adiyiah buried his chance past Rafael, Alex Teixeira's kick was saved, and Agyemang-Badu struck home confidently.
Ghana's players and staff streamed off the bench in wild scenes of jubilation, and as Agyemang-Badu peeled off his shirt and thumped his chest, Brazil's dejected players fell to the ground in disbelief.
Brazil had pressured early on, with Teixeira hitting a cross from Paulo Henrique over the crossbar, Dalton forcing a save from goalkeeper Daniel Agyei and Teixiera also testing Agyei after being set up by striker Alan Kardec.
Ghana was reduced to 10 men when Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere showed Addo a straight red, even though his foul on Teixeira was late rather than malicious.
After the break, Brazil played short passes and made Ghana do the running, and Brazil almost scored when Giuliano's header bounced off a Ghana defender.
Kardec should have done better in the 58th when he headed Souza's cross straight into Agyei's arms, and shortly after the tall striker capped a sprint down the left by hitting a low shot into the side netting.Brazil's late charge
With Ghana's tired right flank becoming vulnerable, Brazil substitute Douglas Costa found Kardec with another cross, but Kardec headed over and Souza poked a shot wide as the favourites continued to squander chances.
Ghana defended stubbornly and with great determination, but the supply line to tournament top scorer Adiyiah was easily cut off by Brazil's midfield.
Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh then withdrew his other striker, Ransford Osei, midway through the second half to strengthen his midfield.Captain Andre Ayew lasted the whole match despite twisting his ankle days earlier in the semifinal against Hungary, and struck Ghana's first penalty in the shootout.
Agyei made a brilliant point-blank save from Brazil substitute Maicon in the first period of extra time, after a quick burst down the left from Costa.
His save from Teixeira in the shootout was even more crucial.

Nadal moves into Shanghai semis

Top seed Rafael Nadal advanced to the semi-finals of the Shanghai Masters after Ivan Ljubicic retired with a thigh injury with the score at 3-6 6-3.
Croatian Ljubicic is the eighth player to withdraw, while world one Roger Federer and world number three Andy Murray skipped the event altogether.
Nadal plays fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez next. Lopez beat Sweden's Robin Soderling 7-5 (7-4) 6-3.
Number two seed Novak Djokovic beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3 2-6 6-2.
The Serb will meet number six seed Nikolay Davydenko in the last four after the Russian defeated Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-1 4-6.
Ljubicic took the first set of his quarter-final against world number two Nadal, a single break, courtesy of a Nadal forehand error, the deciding factor.
The world number seven had the chance to break at 1-1 in the second, but Nadal saved four break points and broke Ljubicic to love in the next game.
Nadal held his nerve to claim the set, but by then Ljubicic's discomfort had become obvious and he was unable to come out for the third.
Djokovic also had an uncomfortable day, needing two breaks to overcome stubborn Simon in the first set.
The Frenchman's dogged defence saw a frustrated Djokovic go to pieces in the second as he produced a host of unforced errors.
And in the third, Djokovic was a model of inconsistency, throwing in some misjudged drop shots and double faults and blowing his early break.
Djokovic broke again immediately, but put a routine overhead into the net to allow Simon to break back before smashing his racquet in annoyance.
Again Djokovic broke with the help of a trademark drive volley and this time he was able to make his advantage stick, holding for the first time in the set before going on to claim victory.
"You know, it's crazy, it was kind of advantage for the return player today," said Djokovic, referring to the slowness of the court.
"But most of the time when I smash the racquet things go better from then on."

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Ghana first into final

Dominic Adiyiah scored two first-half goals to lead Ghana over Hungary 3-2 and into the final of the under-20 World Cup for the third time.
Substitute Marko Futacs brought Hungary back into the match in the 73rd minute, but Abeiku Quansah restored Ghana's two-goal lead in the 81st before Adam Balajti scored in the 84th.
Ghana lost its two previous finals to Argentina in 1993 and 2001, and could face a South American opponent again if Brazil beats Costa Rica in the day’s late game.
Adiyiah is the tournament's leading scorer with eight goals, and is three behind Javier Saviola's record of 11 goals in 2001.
Brazilian striker Adailton scored 10 in 1997.
Ghana took the lead in the 10th minute when Adam Presinger's weak back pass forced goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi to rush off his line, but Andre Ayew skipped past him, kept his balance and set up Adiyiah for a simple tap-in.
Hungary lacked creativity without playmaker Vladimir Koman, who was suspended, and striker Kristzian Nemeth received little service in the first half and was replaced at the interval.
Adiyiah got his second of the match when he headed in Samuel Inkoom's cross from the right, with Gulacsi stranded.
Attack focused
With Ghana pushing up in numbers looking for a third goal, a long pass over the top allowed Andras Gosztonyi to run through down the right, but his shot skimmed past the post.
Nemeth, who received a heavy tackle early in the match, was replaced by Futacs and the Werder Bremen forward pulled a goal back after being set up by Balajti.
Andras Simon created another good chance in the 75th, but Gosztonyi shot just over, and then Janos Szabo headed wide when unmarked as Hungary pressedfor an equaliser.
Substitute Opoku Agyemang created Ghana's third goal, releasing Quansah down the right and his powerful strike flew into the top corner.
But Ghana's defending was exposed open again when Balajti collected a high ball, cut inside the penalty area and easily beat goalkeeper Daniel Agyei from close range.

Brazil set up date with Ghana

Alan Kardec's second-half goal led Brazil into the final of the Under-20 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica.
Brazil faces Ghana in Friday's final after the west Africans beat Hungary 3-2 in the other semifinal.
With a cross from Bertucci, Kardec scored in the 67th minute, swinging high to shoot past Costa Rica goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado at close range.
The Brazilians, four-time tournament winners, struggled to gain the advantage.
Costa Rica fielded five defenders against Brazil, determined to avoid a repeat of its 5-0 defeat on September 27 when the teams played their opening match.
Brazil coach Rogerio Lourenco said he was more concerned with Tuesday's result than the quality of the game.
"To make it clear, I am very happy to get to the final. But of course there is pressure to win. Anyone who coaches in Brazil knows this,'' he said.
"I'm fully aware that we didn't play a fantastic match. But you can't lose sight of the main goal, which is to reach the final.''
Costa Rica kept a vise-grip on defence, fighting hard to deny Brazil space, and using fast counterattacks and good shots from distance to try and unsettle the tournament favourite.
Goalkeeping heroics
A diving save by Brazil goalkeeper Rafael stopped a free kick from David Guzman in the 16th minute. Rafael again responded well to tip out a shot from Marcos Urena a minute before halftime.
Substitute Renan missed a clear chance to put Brazil ahead in the 61st minute by sending his shot over the crossbar.
But six minutes later Kardec finally found the net after teammate Alex Teixeira jumped too low for a header.
Costa Rica coach Ronald Gonzalez said he wasn't disappointed.
"Sometimes when you lose it almost feels like a win. Our appearances here have given us great confidence because we showed everyone that we can play at a high level,'' he said.
Fans at Cairo International Stadium roared on the Brazilians and booed Costa Rica, which had knocked out host Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to make it to the last four.
Costa Rica kept up the pressure for an equaliser with even Alvarado running forward, but the Brazilians fell back to preserve their lead.

Czechs wave cheque at San Marino

Czech newspaper Blesk is offering San Marino's struggling football team one million crowns - or $57,410 - if they can beat Slovenia and help the Czech Republic go through to next year's World Cup.
The Czechs are in third place in European qualifying Group Three, two points shy of Slovenia and four behind group leaders Slovakia. They could move up into the runners-up spot if they beat Northern Ireland in the final qualifier on Wednesday and bottom team San Marino cause a major upset by beating Slovenia.
San Marino have yet to win in nine matches and have scored only once while conceding 44 goals.
"Blesk is offering a contribution to make the final day of qualification a happy one: a prize of one million crowns to the San Marinesi for a win over Slovenia!," the tabloid said.
San Marino captain Andy Selva told Blesk the offer was interesting.
"We will do the maximum for a win but our biggest problem is that we rarely score a goal," he said.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Deng inspires Bulls to London win

Luol Deng enjoyed a successful homecoming as his Chicago Bulls edged out the Utah Jazz in a thrilling finale to their NBA pre-season game in London.
The Team GB star finished joint top scorer with 18 points as the Bulls won 102-101 in front of a crowd of 18,689.
Deng added five assists in 24 minutes on court to the delight of most of the fans, who were supporting the Bulls.
Chicago had rookie James Johnson to thank for the win with a dramatic, buzzer-beating winning basket.
It was the third year in a row the NBA has staged a pre-season game in London as it looks to step up its plans for a global expansion push ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
The game at the O2 Arena was the culmination of a four-day charm offensive in which the league staged events across the capital featuring a host of current and past NBA players.
This year the main event was given extra significance by the presence of 24-year-old Londoner Deng.
He was playing only his second game in eight months as he continues his rehabilitation from a stress fracture that caused him to miss GB's EuroBasket campaign in the summer.
What did you make of the game?
BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener
Injury problems have led some Bulls fans to question the club's decision to give Deng a six-year contract worth over £40m and there will be high expectations on him to rediscover the form of 2006-07 when the season gets under way for real later this month.
There were no such worries at the O2, which will host the Olympic basketball finals in 2012, with Deng receiving a rapturous ovation as he addressed the crowd before tip off.
It was perhaps unsurprising as Deng - one of nine brothers and sisters - could have filled up a section of the arena with friends and family alone.
The crowd included footballers Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole, Sol Campbell, Darren Bent and Michael Dawson, triple jumper Phillips Idowu, boxer David Haye, rugby union stars Joe Worsley and Steve Borthwick and boy band JLS.
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Deng looked determined to impress as he led all scorers with nine points in an opening quarter that the Bulls edged 27-26.
He got his first points with a strong move to the basket to score before adding the resulting free throw.
Despite not looking completely comfortable on the right leg that has kept him out since March he still made four of his six shots in the period before being substituted towards the end of the opening quarter.
With Deng on the bench, the Bulls' rookies helped them open up the game's first significant lead.
A big dunk from Taj Gibson on the Jazz's Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko was followed by a spectacular slam by first-year forward Johnson, who then hit a three-pointer from the corner to give them a 43-36 lead halfway through the second quarter.
The Bulls, who were missing injured guard Derrick Rose, opened up a 10-point lead before a mini-comeback from the Jazz was halted by four points late in the quarter by the returning Deng, and a Kirk Heinrich three-pointer helped them take a 55-48 lead at the half.

Both sides put on an entertaining show for an enthusiastic crowd
The Jazz struggled with their half-court offence as coach Jerry Sloan used 13 players in the opening half alone.
But the combination of star guard Deron Williams and forward Wesley Matthews saw them narrow the lead to 81-77 by the end of the third quarter.
With Deng on the bench at the start of the fourth quarter the Jazz went ahead from a basket by Paul Millsap, who led Utah with 18 points.
As the lead changed hands in the closing minutes Deng remained on the bench.
Johnson completed a three-point play to give the Bulls a 100-99 lead and then came up with a steal at the other end.
Utah retook the lead with two free throws from Ronnie Price only for the Bulls, who famously beat the Jazz in the 1998 Finals courtesy of some last-second heroics from Michael Jordan, to have the final say.
Johnson won a rebound off a missed shot by Derrick Byars and with time running out he sunk an off-balance 10ft shot to the delight of a partisan London crowd and their chief cheerleader Deng.
Chicago forward Luol Deng:"It was just unbelievable, looking in the stands and seeing so many people who helped me play basketball, and for them to see me playing in a Bulls jersey.
"It's hard not to (start thinking about 2012).
"As a basketball player there is so much I want to accomplish before the Olympics but it does cross your mind and I definitely can't wait."
Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro:"Luol played very well, he was very aggressive from the get go.
"We know how important he is to our team so we have to be smart with him because it's a long season.
"The crowd was tremendous, a full house, and an exciting game. You want to put on a good show and I think both teams did that."

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

South Korea loom large at World Cup

After their floundering start, South Korea has become a team to fear at the Under-20 Word Cup.
Coach Hong Myung-bo's players flexed their goalscoring muscles again Monday, hammering Paraguay 3-0 for a place in the last eight.
The win followed another 3-0 win, over the United States, when Korea keptthe Americans pinned back with long-range shots, fluid passing, and waveafter wave of attacks.
Both the U.S. and Paraguay were overrun by the speed of players like Kim Min-woo who scored twice against a Paraguayan team that could not cope with his team's swift counterattacks.
Striker Kim Bo-Kyung, who also scored Monday, is another constant threat to opposing teams.
Korea's drive and commitment was equaled by 300 traveling fans who have turned up at every game to energetically cheer them on.
Keen to attack
Coach Hong, who captained South Korea when it reached the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup when it co-hosted the event with Japan, says an open game suits his players' attacking style.
"Our aim is to play more combination football and create as many passes as possible,'' said the soft spoken 40-year-old coach, who ended his playing career at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
South Korea has made it to 11 of the 17 tournaments at this level and finished fourth in 1983. But they have been knocked out at the group stage every time they played for the past 16 years.
"Asian countries have not done so well at this level. So it's very important for us to be representing the continent here,'' Hong said.
"We still have room to improve ... No one knows how far we'll go. I'm planning to play three more matches. But to do that, you always have to concentrate on your next opponent.''
Big turnaround
South Korea looked toothless in attack in its opening match and lost to Cameroon 2-0.
A much-improved side then went on to hold Germany 1-1, and then followed the last two impressive victories.
"We're getting better with every game,'' Hong said.
His opponents agree.
"They are a quality team and play very well down the flank. They have good positions on the field. They're very strong,'' Paraguay coach Adrian Coria said after his team's defeat.
U.S. coach Thomas Rongen came to a similar conclusion after the Americans lost their final game here.
"They deserved to win,'' he said. "They played us off the park, both tactically and technically. They were also much better organised than we were.

Teen dreams at US Open (Caroline Wozniacki)

Melanie Oudin hits centre court again in the next chapter of her Cinderella story when the 17-year-old American takes on Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the quarter-finals of the US Open.Oudin, who has captivated Flushing Meadows crowds with an electric run past a battery of Russian favourites, will match her gritty groundstroke game against 19-year-old Wozniacki under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.The teenagers are the opening act of Wednesdayss night programme that closes day 10 with five-times champion Roger Federer taking on Robin Soderling for a semi-final spot.Top seed Federer has been down this Grand Slam road before, beating the 12th-seeded Swede this year on his way to the French Open and Wimbledon titles.The day matches set up the other semi-finalists in the top half of the draw.Fourth seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the 2007 runner-up to Federer, plays 10th-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, and Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium will be up against Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko in a quarter-final match-up of unseeded players.Sugiyama to goAway from New York, Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama says she is likely to retire at the end of this tennis season.Sugiyama, 34, has indicated the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo later this month will be her last in a 17-year career in which her singles ranking rose to a high of eighth in the world."I am normally the type that can picture what the near future holds but to be honest at this moment in time I can't see myself competing next season," Sugiyama told Kyodo news.Sugiyama won six WTA tour singles titles plus doubles titles at all the Grand Slam events except the Australian Open, where she reached the final this year

Monday, 5 October 2009

Australia wins Champions Trophy

Australian batsmen Shane Watson, right, and James Hopes celebrate their victory [AFP]Shane Watson scored an unbeaten 105 to guide Australia to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand and back-to-back Champions Trophy titles.
Chasing New Zealand's 200 for nine, Australia struggled early with the loss of Tim Paine and Ricky Ponting with just six runs on the board.
But opener Watson and Cameron White (62) put on 128 for the third wicket to set up Monday's win. Australia reached 206-4 in the 46th over.
"We needed discipline at the start,'' said Watson, who posted an unbeaten 136 in Australia's semifinal win over England, "It was hard to score and even to survive in the beginning.''
Once Watson settled in, New Zealand's hopes slowly evaporated.
"I knew if I could be around in the 40th over, we'd have a chance of winning,'' Watson said.
The Australians beat the English by nine wickets in the semis and were hot favourites to become the first team to retain the Champions Trophy title.
The victory comes after a difficult 12 months for Australia, which has lost test series to India, South Africa and in England and slumped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the test rankings with a young, inexperienced squad.
By winning the Champions Trophy, the second most important ODI tournament in the International Cricket Council's program, Australia ensured it will retain its status at the top limited-overs lineup.
"We've been bringing younger, fresher faces into the side,'' Ponting said , "and two of them saw us home tonight, and they handled the situation very well.''
New Zealand struggled to 200-9 in its 50 overs, having won the toss and elected to bat.
The Black Caps lost stand-in captain Brendon McCullum early for a duck in the fourth over after making a slow start.
McCullum was deputising for Daniel Vettori, who injured a hamstring in the morning while the teams were preparing for the match.
The batsmen struggled to come to grips with some tight bowling, and nobody was able to score at any kind of threatening pace.
Martin Guptill was top scorer for New Zealand with 40 off 64 balls, while the middle-order pair of Neil Broom and James Franklin shared a partnership of 65 for the sixth wicket in just over 14 overs.
Spinner Nathan Hauritz kept things quiet for Australia in the middle overs of the innings, and finished with 3-37 off his 10 overs. Paceman Brett Lee returned 2-45.
New Zealand's early raid
For New Zealand, Shane Bond and Kyle Mills struck early: Bond had Paine caught at slip for one, and then Mills trapped Ponting lbw for one to have the Australians reeling at 6 for 2.
But Watson and White were prepared to score slowly until the threat of Bond and Mills had been weathered, and then pick up the required runs of the rest of the New Zealand attack.
"Kyle Mills and Shane Bond were brilliant today,'' McCullum said. "It was a fantastic effort from them, but in the end we didn't have enough runs on the board.''
McCullum brought them back into the attack as Australia approached victory, and Mills picked up the wicket of White and had Michael Hussey (11) to finish with 3-27.
"We came together as a group throughout the tournament,'' said McCullum, "and we had huge expectations going into the final. But Australia were brilliant today and they are deserved winners of the trophy.''

Tigers claw into sudden death match

The Detroit Tigers clawed themselves into contention for the Major League Baseball postseason by forcing a title playoff against Minnesota Twins.
With the Twins battering Kansas City Royals 13-4, the Tigers had to beat Chicago White Sox to stay level at the top of the American League Central on Sunday.
A defeat to the Sox would make them the only team in history to lose a title in the last week after being on top at the start of May.
But they ran out 5-3 winners at Comerica Park to set up a sudden-death match in Minneapolis on Tuesday – with the winners going through to a divisional playoff series against the New York Yankees.
Sunday's results left the Tigers and the Twins with identical 86-76 records.
Backs to the wall
"We had our backs totally up against the wall, and we won," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
"We still have a heck of a chance, obviously, to win this division."
The Tigers' Justin Verlander pitched seven-plus innings and gave up six hits and struck out five.
Ryan Raburn homered twice, the second a solo shot in the sixth giving Detroit a 5-0 lead before the White Sox scored three runs in the eighth off Verlander.
In Minneapolis, Jason Kubel hit two three-run homers for the Twins while Delmon Young added two solo home runs.
The Royals came within 8-4 in the sixth, but the Twins scored the game's final five runs.
Tuesday's winner will meet the AL East champions Yankees in the best-of-five divisional series starting on either Wednesday or Thursday in New York.
AL West champions the Los Angeles Angels will host the wildcard Boston Red Sox in the league's other playoff series with the opening date to be determined.
In the National League, the West champions Los Angeles Dodgers will host Central winners St Louis and wildcards Colorado will play at the East champions Philadelphia Phillies.
Both NL series are due to start on Wednesday.

Button can be beaten, says Vettel

Sebastian Vettel believes he can snatch the world crown from under Jenson Button's nose after a Japanese Grand Prix win kept him in the title race.
"It can still be done," he said on Sunday after Button finished in eighth.
With two races and 20 points left, Red Bull's Vettel now sits 16 behind Brawn's championship leader with Rubens Barrichello two ahead of the German.
Button and Barrichello's team boss Ross Brawn said Vettel's "great performance" at Suzuka was "perhaps a major worry".
He added: "Jenson will be looking at both sides after today."
And a bullish Vettel vowed to keep battling until the last moment.
"As I've said many times already, I will fight until the end, until the last breath," he declared.
Button will win the title in Brazil if...
He finishes third or better
OR Vettel finishes lower than second and Barrichello finishes lower than fourth
OR he outscores Barrichello by four points
The gripping title chase resumes at Barrichello's home grand prix in Brazil on 18 October, with the season finale in Abu Dhabi on 1 November.
Button, who won six of the first seven races in a season he had threatened to completely dominate, got lucky when an early collision between Adrian Sutil and Heikki Kovalainen allowed him to jump into the final points position from 10th.
The 29-year-old Englishman never looked like outscoring Barrichello by the five points he needed to clinch the drivers' championship in Japan after a poor qualifying session saw him start from the midfield.
A third place at the penultimate race in Brazil would still see Button take his maiden world title.
But Red Bull are not giving up hope that 22-year-old Vettel can continue his dominant Japan form into the final two races and take the crown.
"He's got nothing to lose," said Horner. "He just has to win the next two races."
Pointing out that Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen made up a 17-point deficit on McLaren's Lewis Hamilton with two races to go to take the 2007 title, Vettel added: "It's a shame that there's only two races to go, but that's life.

Brawn GP boss assesses title race
"We're here to fight. Two more races like this and it's looking better. Our task now is pretty straightforward, we have to push ourselves to the maximum and try to win."
"We have a great car, still improving, everyone in the factory is improving so we'll see."
Button himself was "disappointed" that fifth-placed Williams driver Nico Rosberg was not penalised for speeding under yellow flag conditions, but felt the decision will not have a huge impact on his championship bid.
"It's not going to change anything massively," he said. "Life goes on.
"I only lost one point to Rubens today, which is my main priority. Obviously we lost a few points to Sebastian but we were expecting them to be strong here.
"We go to two circuits now which should suit our car so I'm excited about the end of the season and already looking forward to the next race in Brazil."
Barrichello said: "The most important thing is that I gained a point on Jenson this weekend.
"The Brazilian Grand Prix is always a very special occasion for me. It's my home race so I'll be going happily there to win the race and hopefully keep my [title] chances alive."
Former world champion Damon Hill believes Button must "raise his game" if he is to be the second Briton to take the world crown in consecutive seasons following Lewis Hamilton's 2008 success.
"This is dragging on a bit," he said. "He really does have to lift his game, to put his stamp of authority on this one and make sure it happens."
Of Button's mentality, boss Brawn insisted his driver remained unaffected by the pressure and claimed it is his team's collective struggles in qualifying which have prevented him from finishing higher in recent races.
"I think it's an easy to make that accusation [that Jenson is choking]," he said. "He has got a lot of pressure which he has not had for years.
"He is driving very well in the races but we are not getting the qualifying together for one reason or another and that's where we have to focus our efforts."

Ponting targets final Aussie push

Australia captain Ricky Ponting says his side will have to be at their best to beat New Zealand in the Champions Trophy final at Centurion on Monday.
The Aussies, who thrashed England in the semi-final, are aiming to win their fourth 50-over crown in five attempts.
"To have this group of relatively young guys make it through to a final is a great achievement but we won't be happy until we peak on Monday," he said.
"We will need to play our best game in a month in the final."
Holders Australia brushed England aside in the last four having topped their group on the way to the final at Centurion.
The Aussies have won the previous three World Cups and are the reigning Champions Trophy holders.
They went into this year's tournament behind some of their rivals in the rankings table but will now be favourites against New Zealand.
Who will win the Champions Trophy final?
"It's always satisfying when you win," said Ponting, who was fined 20% of his match fee for a slow over rate against England, with his colleagues being hit with 10% charges.
"It's the first time in a few years we have not been ranked the number one team coming into a tournament like this.
"We were probably number three or four for this one and that is where some of the experts thought we would finish.
"But we are happy with the way we have played one-day cricket over the last three to four weeks.
"I thought we would be competitive when we arrived here. Our record in these events speaks for itself and my expectations have always been pretty high with this group."
New Zealand beat Pakistan in their semi-final as they also upset the form book to secure the meeting with rivals Australia.
On Monday the adrenalin will take over and everyone will be pretty excited about playing in a final
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori
"The Kiwis have probably upset a few along the way," said Ponting.
"We know they are always a competitive team and few gave them a chance against Pakistan but they were obviously the better team."
Black Caps skipper Daniel Vettori would have liked an extra day of rest after the win over Pakistan on Saturday in a day/night match, but insists his team are hungry to win the competition.
"I wish we had another day before the final, to be honest," he said.
"It was exhausting to get through the late game, but I think once Monday turns up the adrenalin will take over and everyone will be pretty excited about playing in a final."
Vettori added: "I think you probably have achieved what you set out to achieve. But once you reach that level, you realise there is an immense desire to go all the way and I think there's no relief in the camp.
"It was all about how we're going to win on Monday as opposed to 'it's great that we've made it'. It's pleasing to me as captain to hear those sorts of sentiments and we've got to make sure we put it into practice."

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Greg Norman, Chris Evert announce separation

Just 15 months after they were married, golf star Greg Norman and tennis great Chris Evert announced they have separated. The announcement Friday comes three days before Norman is to captain the International team at the Presidents Cup in San Francisco, where wives of the captains take on a visible role.
Norman and Evert, each in the Hall of Fame in their respective sports, did not say whether they planned to divorce.
In a statement, the couple said only, "We will remain friends and supportive of one another's family." The statement said they requested privacy for them and their families.
Norman's spokesman, Bart Collins, said the two-time British Open champion would not comment beyond the statement. Norman's first press conference at the Presidents Cup is Tuesday morning at Harding Park.
They were married June 28, 2008, in The Bahamas. A month later, while still on their honeymoon, Norman was nine holes away from becoming golf's oldest major champion at 53 when he led the British Open. He eventually tied for third at Royal Birkdale.
Norman was coming off an ugly divorce from Laura Andrassy, the mother of his two children, which ended in a settlement that paid her just over $100 million. Evert was married twice previously, most recently to Olympic downhill skier Andy Mill, with whom she had three children. They were divorced in December 2006.
The timing of the announcement was in part to prevent speculation on Evert's absence at the Presidents Cup, matches between the United States and an International team of countries from every continent but Europe.
"I don't think it will be a distraction," said Robert Allenby of Australia, part of the International team. "That's just not the way Norman is. He's normally very private with his life. I know Norman. Next week his whole focus will be purely on what we have to do as a team and how we have to come together. He'll be right behind us 110 percent."
Norman had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder Wednesday to prepare for a winter golf schedule in Australia, and he stuck to his regular schedule on Friday to announce the field for his Shark Shootout, which is in Naples, Fla.
Norman and Evert became sports' most high-profile couple when they started dating, got engaged and married. Evert, with 18 Grand Slam titles, attended her first PGA Tour event last year at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which Norman played with his son, Gregory. And she was with him every step at the British Open last year at Royal Birkdale.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Vettel on pole in Japan

Sebastian Vettel put Red Bull on pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in a crash-hit qualifying session in Suzuka.
The German will share the front row with Italian Jarno Trulli in a Toyota with Britain's outgoing world champion Lewis Hamilton third for McLaren.
Jenson Button's hopes of wrapping up the Formula One title receded after race stewards slapped a five place penalty on the championship leader.
The Briton was one of five drivers, including Brawn team mate and closest title rival Rubens Barrichello, to be punished for speeding in Saturday's qualifying while yellow warning flags were being waved.
Button can only win the championship on Sunday, with two races to spare, if he scores five points more than Brazilian Barrichello.
That looked unlikely as night fell at Suzuka, with the stewards reaching their decision after deliberating for more than three hours.
Button, who needs to finish at least fourth if the title race is not to go on to Brazil in two weeks' time, will now start 12th on the provisional grid with Barrichello 10th.
Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso, who qualified 12th, and Toro Rosso's Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi were also handed five place penalties.
Buemi, who scattered debris across the track and brought out the warning flags when he skidded along the barriers in the second part of qualifying, was also reprimanded for impeding others and posing a potential hazard by staying on the track.
The final grid positions could change further however, with Toyota's Timo Glock doubtful after crashing heavily and being taken to hospital.
A spokeswoman for the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said the official grid would not be published before Sunday.
McLaren were also changing the gearbox on Heikki Kovalainen's car, which will drop the Finn five places from ninth once confirmed.
Toyota's Timo Glock is attended by medical staff after crashing out [GALLO/GETTY]Rough run
"It was a tough session. No one got any practice yesterday, very little this morning," said Button, who is 25 points clear of Vettel with three races remaining.
"Three red flags is very unusual so I hope everyone is OK.
"I think we've got a reasonable amount of fuel on board ... I'm not looking at Sebastian really."
All of the top three drivers had team mates who crashed, with the three-part qualifying halted on three separate occasions.
Glock had the most serious accident, plunging into the barriers at the final corner only hours after he had been passed fit to race.
The German, who missed Friday's rain-hit practice because he had a heavy cold and fever, waved and gave a thumbs-up sign as he was extracted from the car but was then flown on to hospital for further checks.
Webber last
Vettel's Australian team mate Mark Webber did not take part in qualifying and will start from the pit lane in last place after damaging his car in a crash in the morning's final practice.
McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen went into the tyre wall at the Degner corner in the final phase of qualifying.
Toro Rosso's Spanish rookie Jaime Alguersuari brought out the first of two red flags in the space of 11 minutes when he ploughed into the tyre wall in the second phase. He was unhurt.
Apart from the Brawn drivers, only Vettel remains in championship contention and he needs to take his third win of the season after his fourth pole of the year.
Red Bull must also score seven points more than Brawn on Sunday to prevent that team from taking the constructors' championship.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Rio wins right to host the 2016 Olympics

COPENHAGEN (AP)—Finally, South America gets an Olympics. The 2016 Games are going to Rio de Janeiro.

In a vote of high drama, the bustling Brazilian carnival city of beaches, mountains and samba beat surprise finalist Madrid, which got a big helping hand from a very influential friend.

Chicago was knocked out in the first round—in one of the most shocking defeats ever in International Olympic Committee voting. Even Tokyo, which had trailed throughout the race, did better—eliminated after Chicago in the second round.

Rio spoke to IOC members’ consciences: the city argued that it was simply unfair that South America has never hosted the games, while Europe, Asia and North America have done so repeatedly.

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“It is a time to address this imbalance,” Brazil’s charismatic president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told the IOC’s members before they voted. “It is time to light the Olympic cauldron in a tropical country.”

The bearded former union leader disappeared into a huge group hug with the joyous Rio team after IOC president Jacques Rogge announced that the city won. Football great Pele had tears in his eyes.

Madrid’s surprising success in reaching the final round came after former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch made an unusual appeal for the Spanish capital, reminding the IOC’s members as he asked for their vote that, at age 89, “I am very near the end of my time.”

Samaranch ran the IOC for 21 years before Rogge took over in 2001.

Chicago had long been seen as a front-runner and got the highest possible level of support—from President Barack Obama himself. But he only spent a few hours in the Danish capital where the vote was held and left before the result was announced. Former IOC member Kai Holm said that the brevity of his appearance may have counted against him.

The short stopover was “too business-like,” Holm said. “It can be that some IOC members see it as a lack of respect.”

Senior Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper surmised that Asian voters may have banded together for Tokyo in the first round, at Chicago’s expense.

“I’m shocked,” Gosper said. “The whole thing doesn’t make sense other than there has been a stupid bloc vote.”

He worried that the shock exit could do “untold damage” to the already testy relations between the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee. They had recent flare-ups over revenue sharing and a USOC TV network.

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“To have the president of the United States and his wife personally appear, then this should happen in the first round is awful and totally undeserving,” Gosper said.

The European-dominated IOC’s last two experiences in the United States were marked by controversy: the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics were sullied by a bribery scandal and logistical problems and a bombing hit the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Obama had held out the enticing prospect of a Chicago games helping to reconnect the United States with the world after the presidency of George W. Bush. He told the IOC earlier Friday that the “full force of the White House” would be applied so “visitors from all around the world feel welcome and will come away with a sense of the incredible diversity of the American people.”

Now, Chicago can only rue what might have been. And Obama’s gamble of expending his own political capital on the bid backfired.

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The last U.S. city to bid for the Summer Games, New York, did scarcely better. It was ousted in the second round in the 2005 vote that gave the 2012 Games to London.

Tokyo did better than many expected by reaching the second round. It had offered reassurances of financial security, with $4 billion already banked for the games.

But the fact that the Olympics were held only last year in Asia, in Beijing, handicapped the Japanese capital’s bid.

Its plans for a highly compact games, sparing athletes tiring travel by holding all but the shooting within 5 miles of the city center, were technically appealing. But the bid failed to generate real enthusiasm, even in Japan. Tokyo had the lowest public backing in IOC polls.

Tokyo’s final presentation Friday to the IOC, while smooth and heartfelt, lacked the buzz that the Obamas and Rio generated. In short, Tokyo was simply overshadowed, failing to convince IOC members that it really wanted or needed the games.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

'Close race' for 2016 Games vote

The hosts of the 2016 Olympics will be decided in Copenhagen on Friday, with Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo bidding for the Games.
The presentation ceremony will get under way at 0730 BST, with the winning bid announced at around 1800
Chicago are rated as slight favourites but many commentators are describing the outcome as too close to call.
"This is a very, very close race between four outstanding bids," said British IOC member Sir Craig Reedie.
"Because the bids are so good and because it is so close the last few hours are going to be even more exciting than usual."
The city receiving the fewest votes will be eliminated round-by-round until one candidate secures a majority.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told the BBC: "I believe it's going to be very close - this is a trend we have seen in the last five to six years.
"Security - not only physical but also in terms of the organisation - is very important. We need a very good Olympic Village, state-of-the art venues, a good transportation system.
Report - Big names bolster 2016 bids
"If beyond that we can have a very good home team and a very warm public, the game is almost over."
A large factor behind Chicago's potential success could lie in the presence of US President Barack Obama, a former Illinois senator and Chicago resident.
Obama is due to arrive on Friday but his wife Michelle has been in the Danish capital since Wednesday, lobbying IOC members.
In the past, the impact of star personalities on Olympic bids has been key, demonstrated when lobbying by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair helped London win the 2012 Games and Russian President Vladimir Putin led Sochi's bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
However, Chicago's rival bidders will also be boasting big names, with King of Spain Juan Carlos, the President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Japan's new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, all coming to Denmark to lobby for their respective cities.
A number of factors are considered by the IOC's voting members in determining an Olympic host city; political and social support, general infrastructure, sports venues, Olympic Village, environment, security, transport, accommodation, past experience, finance, and legacy.
Everyone I've spoken to here is hedging their bets, although Chicago and Rio de Janeiro seem to be out in front of Madrid and Tokyo
However, alongside these more fundamental considerations, other factors such as emotion, sentiment, geography, politics, self-interest and other factors also play a role - often making predicting a winner near impossible.
The key to victory is picking up votes from the eliminated cities.
The voting starts with all four cities in the hat and the candidate city with the least amount of votes is eliminated at the end of the first round. The IOC members from country of the rejected city then join the voting and a new vote is cast between the three remaining cities. This process is repeated until a majority is found, expected to be in the third round.
Still, one major consideration is believed to mark Chicago and Rio de Janeiro as favourites.
Although there is no official IOC continental rotation policy, it is believed the Americas may have an edge as previous Summer Games will have been held in Europe, Asia, Europe again and Australasia (although it is worth noting the 2010 Winter Games are in North America).
And Rio will be hoping the opportunity to award South America the Olympics for the first time could prove decisive.

President Obama's presence could be key to Chicago's hopes of victory
Long-time IOC member Dick Pound noted recently: "Policy wise, the IOC has to decide if we're ready to go to a new continent (South America). Is the time right?"
Factors against Rio include concerns about crime and security in the area, an issue representatives from Madrid and Tokyo have drawn attention to in recent speeches and press releases.
Some extra spice has been added to the process with a row breaking out after Spain's Olympic vice-president Jose Maria Odriozola labelled Rio as "the worst of the four candidates", breaking IOC rules about criticism of rival bids.
Madrid officials swiftly apologised for the comments, but Rio have made an official complaint to the IOC over the incident.
Madrid, loser to London in the 2005 bidding process for the 2012 Games, boasts a sound plan, having already built most of its venues. It also has the behind-the-scenes support of former IOC president and current honorary president Juan Antonio Samaranch and credit in the bank from previous bids.
Tokyo also makes a compelling case on paper: a compact Games with superb green and redevelopment credentials.
Rogge predicting close 2016 vote
"They (Tokyo Games) have been designed by athletes for athletes," said Mikako Kotani, a 1988 Seoul Games bronze medallist in synchronised swimming and head of the bid's athletes commission.
"Ninety-seven percent of venues are within an 8km radius of the stadium and the athletes village. Seventy percent of athletes are less than 10 minutes from their venues."
However, a win for Madrid would make it three European-based Olympics in a row (London 2012 and Sochi 2014 precede it), while Tokyo's bid could suffer from being too like and too close to Beijing, last year's hosts.
The latest indictor of where the IOC's vote may be headed - their final evaluation report published at the beginning on September - only served to further blur the situation, with no rankings offered and all cities praised.

Alonso out to emulate Schumacher

New Ferrari signing Fernando Alonso says he would like to follow in Michael Schumacher's footsteps and win multiple world titles for the team.
The Spaniard has signed for three years and will partner Felipe Massa in 2010.
"It will not be easy but I would like to do the same as Michael and win many championships with Ferrari," he said.
"It is going to be very difficult but I am in the best team for my career. We share many things, like the passion for competition and giving 100%."
Rubens Barrichello, a former team-mate of Schumacher at Ferrari, told BBC Sport: "Fernando is a top-class driver. For me, he is on the level of Michael Schumacher. I just wish my friend Felipe Massa can hold on to him."
Asked if he would be able to live up to the legacy of Schumacher, who won five of his record seven titles with Ferrari, Alonso said: "I don't arrive there to do the same as Michael, but I would like to do the same."
Ferrari have this season had their least competitive year since 1995, and have won just one race, courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen, who is leaving the team to make way for Alonso.
The team have abandoned developing their current car to concentrate on next year's model, and Alonso said he was optimistic Ferrari would be competitive from the first race of 2010.
"Hopefully we can fight for races and championships from next year. I do not know what we can do together but I will put all my input and experience there and I will be working for Ferrari 365 days a year.
"I know there will be pressure to win titles. It is not enough one win a year. In the next few years hopefully there will be one at least. Hopefully we can fight until the last race.
"You're never sure. We saw in F1 this year it is difficult to predict what is going to happen the year after but Ferrari has been dominating F1 for the last 10 years.

Kubica is tipped to join Renault as a replacement for Alonso
"It is the most famous, most popular team in the world and you become a legend when you drive that car whatever the performance is. It is very attractive to drive for Ferrari."
The 28-year-old is the most successful active driver in F1, with two world titles and 21 wins to his name, and he said he would ideally like to see out his career with Ferrari.
"I really think that Ferrari will be my last team," he said. "Leaving Ferrari to change teams is always a step backwards. It has to be a step backwards because Ferrari is more than a team and I want to finish my career with them.
"The contract is three years, now, and then with some options to continue. So hopefully I can continue as long as they want and I can finish the career here with a lot of wins."
Alonso's last move away from Renault ended prematurely in 2007 when he left McLaren just one year into a three-year contract after a tempestuous season.
He fell out with the team management, with an intense battle with team-mate Lewis Hamilton as the back-drop.
But he said he did not expect history to repeat itself with Massa.
Fernando Alonso's move to Ferrari is the most exciting shift in the Formula 1 fabric for years
"It will not happen again," Alonso said. "I am more prepared than I was two years ago. And Ferrari is more important than any driver in that car.
"We arrive in a team that it is a pleasure and we are proud to drive that car. It doesn't matter if you are quicker or slower than your team-mate. The people want to see a Ferrari car in front.
"Felipe is a great driver and also has a very good personality. It will be fine, we will both work for the team to score points for the team."
Alonso's move to Ferrari will trigger a series of other driver switches throughout F1.
BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica is in line to replace Alonso at Renault, although it has emerged that the Pole has not yet signed a contract.
The French team said on Thursday they would not announce their new driver until next week.
A Renault source said his team-mate could be German Timo Glock, who drives for Toyota this year.
Raikkonen is hotly tipped to move back to McLaren, for whom he drove from 2002-6, as team-mate to Hamilton.
The Finn said on Thursday: "I'm not going to go to a small team, my only aim is to have a chance with a team that can fight for the world championship. Otherwise there is no point in staying in F1."
BBC Sport understands the 2007 world champion has not agreed a contract with McLaren but that both parties want to come to a deal.
"I don't have any bad things to say about them," Raikkonen said of McLaren. "We always had a good relationship. It's a chance, but so far I have not thought much about these things."
He also raised the possibility of not racing in F1 at all.
World championship leader Jenson Button has not yet come to an agreement with his Brawn team, but is expected to stay and could be joined by German Nico Rosberg.
In that instance, Barrichello, Button's current team-mate and title rival, is considered likely to replace Rosberg at Williams.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Sharapova gives Pan Pacific Open a facelift

Sharapova reaches last eight
* Jankovic unfazed by seed jinx
* Azarenka also powers through (Adds Azarenka win, details in paras 5-6)
By Alastair Himmer
TOKYO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Former world number one Maria Sharapova continued her salvage operation at the Pan Pacific Open by screeching into the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Wearing a pink dress, the Russian beat compatriot Alisa Kleybanova 2-6 6-2 6-2—to the relief of Tokyo organisers after a flood of early upsets at the $2 million event.
“It took a while to get my reaction and instincts back today,” Sharapova, ranked 25th in the world following shoulder surgery last October, told reporters.
Seventh seed Jelena Jankovic, the highest-ranked survivor, avoided the rush for the exit after Russian Elena Vesnina retired with a thigh strain while trailing 6-1 3-0.
A tournament which began with nine of the world’s top 10 players at least kept its remaining two as eighth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus also powered on.
The world number nine, a three-times title winner on the women’s WTA Tour this year, beat Czech Lucie Safarova 7-5 6-4 to set up a quarter-final with China’s Li Na.
Sharapova recovered from an error-strewn first set to reach the last eight of a tournament she won in 2005.
The 22-year-old called coach Michael Joyce on court for advice at the end of the set before storming through the second to level the match and turn the tide in her favour.
Pumping up the volume as the ferocity of her hitting increased, Sharapova secured the crucial break at 2-2 in the decider by smashing a forehand return across court.
The three-times grand slam winner sealed victory with a vicious kick serve that bamboozled Kleybanova and celebrated by blowing kisses to all corners of the crowd.
“Michael’s come on court a few times this year,” said Sharapova, referring to the on-court coaching rule approved for this season by the WTA Tour.
“I use it to give me a little boost of energy, not change anything drastically. He just gave me a few pointers. It pumps you up a little bit, gives you that fresh breath of air.”
Sharapova’s next opponent is Czech Iveta Benesova, who knocked out Taiwanese qualifier Chang Kai-chen—shock conqueror of world number one Dinara Safina—with a 7-5 6-2 win.
Jankovic, who finished 2008 as the world number one, was cruising when Vesnina threw in the towel in cold conditions under a closed centre court roof as rain lashed Tokyo Bay.
“My goal is to make the (WTA Tour’s season-ending) championships,” the world number eight said. “I’m really not worrying about what’s happening to the other seeds.”
Jankovic next plays 14th seed Marion Bartoli after the Frenchwoman scored a 4-6 6-2 7-5 win over Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Safina, second seed Venus Williams and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova all lost their opening matches on Monday after first-round byes.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Obama set to be lord of the rings

The four cities bidding for the prize honour of hosting the 2016 Olympic Games have begun three intensive days of lobbying – with the Obama factor looming large ahead of Friday's vote by the International Olympic Committee.
The White House announcement on Monday that President Barack Obama would fly in to Copenhagen to appear before the International Olympic Committee in support of Chicago's bid for the Games was the news the other three candidates least wanted.
Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo all fear that the IOC membership could be swayed by Obama's charismatic appeal, as they were four years ago when then British prime minister Tony Blair helped persuade them to choose London over clear favourites Paris for the 2012 Olympics.
Two years later, then-Russian president Vladimir Putin was similarly persuasive when the Black Sea resort of Sochi, rank outsiders, won the right to stage the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Obama, who has close connections with the Windy City, had originally opted to stay at home to deal with his healthcare reform plans and announced that First Lady Michelle Obama would travel instead to the Danish capital.
Chicago bid leaders were delighted by Monday's news which means both Obamas will now be part of the team making the presentation to the IOC membership on Friday.
Close call
Before the announcement of Obama's visit, the Olympic insider publication Around the Rings had rated Rio as marginal favourites over Chicago with Madrid and Tokyo close behind in a contest widely seen as the closest ever.
Rogge is due to form the vanguard of a large IOC contingent in Denmark [GALLO/GETTY]There was little doubt among observers that the Obama factor has tipped the odds in Chicago's favour but, in such a close contest, late lobbying has often been decisive and all four have to consider they still have a reasonable chance.
IOC president Jacques Rogge was due to arrive in Copenhagen later on Tuesday and most of the IOC's 115 membership are expected in the next two days.
Chicago, Rio and Tokyo all launched their last lobbying effort on Tuesday, mainly for the benefit of more than 1,000 accredited written media in the Danish capital and a host of major broadcasters.
Madrid, who have favoured a more low-key approach, were due to start their lobbying in Denmark on Wednesday after Tuesday's planned arrival of King Juan Carlos and Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero.
Celebrities were also flooding in to support the various bids.
Rio were wheeling out World Cup great Pele on Tuesday in a street football photo opportunity while Chicago were parading former US sprint world record holder Michael Johnson and Romanian gold-medal gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Obama to woo IOC over Chicago bid

US President Barack Obama will travel to Copenhagen to support the bid by the city of Chicago to host the 2016 Olympic Games, the White House says.
He will join his wife, Michelle, and other administration members at the International Olympic Committee meeting in the Danish capital on Thursday.
Chicago faces opposition from Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo in the vote.
Brazilian, Spanish and Japanese leaders are also expected to lobby IOC delegates at the meeting.

These bids are now being run like election campaigns, by hard-nosed political strategists working out tactics for grabbing the second or even third preference votes that will be crucial to the chances of any of the bidders.
Strict IOC rules dictate the boundaries of what is permitted, and transgressing them could be fatal.
Expenses-paid trips to bid cities for voting members - with freebies ranging from the odd case of wine to dental work to scholarships for offspring - were banned after the Salt Lake City "votes for gifts" scandal.
It is all strictly above board now.
However, one of the unexpected consequences of the ban on members' visits seems to be that if you cannot go to the city, the city now comes to you, with half the nation's politicians, sports stars and famous alumni in tow.
Correspondents say the impact of star personalities on Olympic bids was demonstrated when lobbying by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005 helped London win the 2012 Games, and Russian President Vladimir Putin led Sochi's bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics in 2007.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed hope on Monday that he would "return from Copenhagen with a victory".
"This is a fight," he said in his weekly radio programme. "And if we don't win, we'll have to prepare for another one."
Mr Obama, who was senator for Illinois and lived in Chicago before his election to the White House, will be the first sitting US president to take on such a direct role in an Olympic bid.
He will be joined on Friday by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who are both from Illinois.
"President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolise the hope, opportunity and inspiration that make Chicago great, and we are honoured to have two of our city's most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen," Chicago Mayor Richard M Daley said on Monday.
"Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement," he added.

Chicago was chosen ahead of four other US cities to bid for the Games
Candidates for 2016 Olympics
Mr Obama had reportedly told IOC chief Jacques Rogge last week that the pressure of his push for healthcare reform would prevent him from attending the meeting.
The race to host the 2016 Olympics has been described as one of the closest in history.
But correspondents say Chicago, with President Obama's overt support, could be considered a slight favourite.
Chicago was chosen to bid for the Games two years ago by the US Olympic Committee ahead of four other US cities.
The city's plan revolves around providing a compact event in the middle of the city, on the shores of Lake Michigan, using many established venues. The costs of Games will be borne by the private sector - unlike the three other bids.

Other government heads will be lobbying IOC delegates in Copenhagen
It is expected that Chicago's renowned skyline, history and cultural heritage will be positive factors in its Olympics bid, while the city also boasts good transport infrastructure.
Although there is no official IOC continental rotation policy, correspondents say the Americas may have an edge as previous games will have been held in Asia, Europe, and Australasia.
This factor, they add, is considered the most significant weakness of both Madrid - one of the few major European capitals yet to host the Games - and Tokyo's bids.
Rio de Janeiro's successful staging of the Pan-American Games in 2007 and their future hosting of the 2014 World Cup seemed to bolster its prospects, but the IOC recently noted that it would not be capable of providing the level of security and safety required for the Games.

Barcelona face Kiev test

Striker Henry is an injury doubt with a left thigh strain [GALLO/GETTY]Coach Pep Guardiola faces injury concerns over Thierry Henry and Dmytro Chygrynskiy ahead of Barcelona's Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev, a game the Spanish champions need to win to kick-start their title defence.
Despite winning all five games to be neck and neck with Real Madrid in the domestic Liga competition, Barcelona were held 0-0 by Italian champions Inter Milan in the Champions League group play two weeks ago.
They now face the side at the top with Kiev having won their opening match against Russia's Rubin Kazan.
Another draw or a loss would put pressure on Guardiola and he could go into Tuesday's game at Camp Nou without both striker Henry and Ukraine defender Chygrynskiy, who were both injured in Saturday's victory at Malaga in La Liga.
Injury woes
Henry is a doubtful starter with a left thigh injury while Chygrynskiy, signed from Uefa Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk on the final day of the transfer window, has knee ligament damage and is out for up to three weeks.
At least Barca easily won that game against Malaga and France defender Eric Abidal believes their domestic form has given the Spanish club a boost to beat Kiev at home.
"It is always better to win before a Champions League game to give you confidence,'' Abidal said.
"Dynamo won their opening match (against Rubin Kazan) and we drew. We know that all Champions League games are hard to win but we are preparing well for this one.''
Despite the new injury problems, Barcelona have the strength in depth to beat the Ukraine champion at home in a competition where all the leading contenders avoided defeats in the opening round of games and should be confident of reaching the knockout phase.
Inter travel to meet the Russian champions in Group F and, although the winner of the last four Italian titles are coming off a 1-0 defeat at Sampdoria in the Serie A, they should rebound with a victory on Tuesday to stay in contention for a title they have not won since 1965.
Big match
One of the highlight games of the week's group matches is Bayern Munich at home to Juventus in Group A on Wednesday. The German club lead the group by two points.
Neither team won at the weekend, however, with Bayern losing 1-0 at new Bundesliga leaders Hamburg and Juve were held 1-1 by Bologna to squander a chance to return to the top of Serie A.
Five-time European cup winners Liverpool visit Fiorentina in Group E and are level on points with Lyon, who go to Hungarian league champions Debrecen.
A 6-1 victory over Hull on Saturday is the ideal preparation with Fernando Torres scoring three times for Liverpool to take his tally for the season to an English Premier League best eight.
"He is the kind of player who can change a game and the way he is working at the moment you can see the best from him,'' Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said.
"When a striker, especially, scores goals he has more confidence.
"After last year, when he was injured a lot, he wanted to do well this year again.
"Our players want to win trophies and the big names have to perform, because the other players will follow them.''
Room for improvement
Chasing an elusive 10th title in European football's biggest club competition, Real Madrid began with a 5-2 victory away at FC Zurich in Group C and now host Marseille on Wednesday.
Like Barcelona, they have begun the domestic season with five straight wins but coach Manuel Pellegrini, whose club has twice broken the international transfer record price to build the most expensive squad in the world, sees room for improvement.
"The team is still working on many aspects of the game,'' the Chilean coach said.
"We are improving on many of them. We've scored 16 goals so far, more than three on average per clash. We are also the least scored-upon team.
CL Fixtures
Tuesday 29 September AZ v Standard Liege Arsenal v Olympiakos Barcelona v Dynamo Kiev Debrecen v Lyon Fiorentina v Liverpool Rangers v Sevilla Rubin Kazan v Inter Milan Unirea Urziceni v StuttgartWednesday 30 September AC Milan v FC Zurich Apoel Nicosia v Chelsea Bayern Munich v Juventus Bordeaux v Maccabi Haifa CSKA Moscow v Besiktas FC Porto v Atletico Madrid Man Utd v Wolfsburg Real Madrid v Marseille"We have to improve on several things, but I think we are on the right track regarding others.''
AC Milan, a seven-time winner of European football's top prize, is trying to shrug off some poor domestic form - including a 0-0 draw with Bari on Sunday - and host Zurich, who are joint top with Madrid.
Runners-up last year, Manchester United began with a routine victory over Turkey's Besitkas in Istanbul and now host German champions Wolfsburg for the first time.
Alex Ferguson's team is boosted by going to the top of the English Premier League on Saturday with an expected 2-0 victory at Stoke and will open up a three-point lead in their Champions League group if they win at Old Trafford.
Arsenal and Olympiakos both won their opening games in Group H and meet at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, when AZ Alkmaar welcome Standard Liege.
The Dutch champions lost 1-0 at Utrecht on Saturday, their third in a row, and another loss will likely increase pressure on coach Ronald Koeman.
"We need to go back to the basics,'' captain Stijn Schaars said.
"We must look back at our form from last season. Hopefully, things can change with victory against Standard Liege.''
English side Chelsea lead Group D but lost their perfect start to the Premier League season on Saturday when they surprisingly lost 3-1 at Wigan.
Now they travel to APOEL Nicosia, who did well to capture a draw with Atletico Madrid two weeks ago.
The Spanish club hope to rebound with a victory at Portuguese champion FC Porto.
Sevilla top Group G and face a lively atmosphere at Rangers on Tuesday, while Stuttgart head for Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni buoyed by a 3-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt, where Julian Schieber scored twice.