Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stich loses on competitive return

Eurosport - Tue, 21 Jul 23:24:00 2009

Former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich's return to competitive action 12 years after his retirement lasted only 62 minutes, losing in the first round of the doubles at the German Open in Hamburg.

TENNIS Michael Stich Germany - 0

Stich, 40, joined up with 21-year-old Mischa Zverev but the German duo were beaten 6-4 6-2 by the Swedish-Australian pair of Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley, much to the disappointment of the watching 4,000 fans.

Stich, who won Wimbledon in 1991 and was also a French Open and US Open finalist, won a total 18 career titles and reached a career-high ranking of number two before retiring in 1997.

As tournament director of the German Open, which lost its Masters status this year and was moved to the unattractive - for clay courts - July date, Stich gave himself and Zverev a wildcard to add some spice to the competition and raise its profile.

Stich is not the only retired player to make a brief doubles comeback.

Former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe, partnered by Swede Jonas Bjorkman, won the San Jose doubles tournament in 2006 aged 47, 14 years after his last title.

Premier League - Man tells court of Gerrard 'attack'

Eurosport - Wed, 22 Jul 12:56:00 2009

The businessman allegedly attacked by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard in a bar room brawl told a court he faced a "barrage" of blows from the player when he refused to hand over control of a CD player.

FOOTBALL steven gerrard liverpool - 0

Marcus McGee, 34, lost a front tooth crown in the attack in the early hours of December 29 last year, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

McGee, who was initially attacked by one of Gerrard's friends, said he thought the 29-year-old England midfielder struck the first blow.

"I remember a barrage of punches coming in at my face but I didn't know who has done what," he said.

"Having watched the CCTV it was obvious Steven Gerrard hits me a couple of times, maybe three times but I couldn't honestly say on the night. I didn't know who did what."

McGee, who was in charge of music for the night at the Lounge Bar in Southport near Liverpool, said he had refused to let Gerrard take control of a CD player.

Gerrard later returned when McGee was sitting alone at the bar and swore at him.

"In my statement I didn't recall the conversation but looking at my hand movements I was asking him how he would react if somebody came up to him and wanted to take something off him in a manner I found to be rude," McGee told the court.

On Tuesday, the court was shown security camera footage of Gerrard talking to McGee before one of Gerrard's co-defendants elbowed the businessman.

The prosecution then said Gerrard hit the businessman with the "style and speed of a professional boxer".

The jury was also told Gerrard admitted hitting McGee but said he was acting in self defence, unaware the businessman had already been struck.

"I didn't throw any punches, I wasn't acting aggressively, I didn't hit anyone at all," McGee told the court.

Gerrard was arrested on the night - a day after he scored twice in a 5-1 win away to Newcastle United - and later pleaded not guilty to a charge of affray.

The Liverpool player's six co-defendants have already pleaded guilty to being involved in the brawl.


Tursonov sees off mis-firing Berrer

Eurosport - Wed, 22 Jul 11:06:00 2009

Fragile Russian top seed Dmitry Tursunov received an unexpected confidence boost as Michael Berrer made 16 double faults in a 6-3 2-6 6-0 loss at the ATP Indianapolis Championships.

TENNIS Dmitry Tursunov Russia - 0

Tursunov, who won the Eastbourne grass title but lost in the Wimbledon first round a few days later, was hardly the picture of confidence, but he was not complaining at the end of the opening-round victory over his German opponent.

"I'm not serving that great now, as I haven't played since Wimbledon," said Tursunov. "I can hit two or three good shots and then a bad one. But today he served terrible and that helped me.

"I'm not playing that well myself right now - but I have to be patient."

Tursunov, the 2007 Indy champion and last year's runner-up to absent Frenchman Gilles Simon, will next face either American Taylor Dent or Brazil's Marcos Daniel, who had trouble getting a timely air flight from Colombia where he won a Challenger at the weekend.

Surprising second seed Dudi Sela continued his recent red-hot pace as the Israeli sent home American veteran Vince Spadea 7-5 6-1.

The number 29 who helped his nation to a Davis Cup quarter-final upset of Russia after playing in the Wimbledon fourth round is taking full advantage of the highest tournament seeding of his career.

With most Europeans unwilling to travel to the US to start the hardcourt season a full six weeks before opening day at the US Open, willing outsiders like Sela are making up the numbers for the next few events.

"I may have been fifth or sixth before, but never second," said 24-year-old Sela. "When you are ranked 29th, it's not normal to be seeding this high.

"But I'll take it. I think my game has really been improving a lot recently. I'm just playing more solid," he said after advancing in an hour and a quarter.

Spadea, who recently turned 35, was a finalist here in 1999. He also lost to Sela on hardcourt in Washington last summer.

Russian Igor Kunitsyn, member of the defeated Russian Davis Cup side, is another unlikely seed who shined, earning a defeat of Argentine Brian Dabul 6-4 6-1.

German fifth seed Benjamin Becker stopped Go Soeda, a Japanese qualifier, 6-2 6-3.

Two American journeyman booked spots in the second round. Qualifier Jesse Levine beat Thai Danai Udomchoke 6-1 7-6(10) while Alex Bogomolov stopped Italy's Flavio Cipolla 6-2 6-3 to next face Sela.

NBA - Yao surgery successful

Eurosport - Wed, 22 Jul 08:28:00 2009

Chinese center Yao Ming underwent successful surgery to repair the left foot fracture that has ruled him out for the whole of the next NBA season, the Houston Rockets said.

30/06 news Yao Ming - 0

The operation at the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute also included additional procedures to "change the alignment of his foot" and prevent the injury recurring, said a report on the team's website.

The seven-times All Star has been blighted by injuries in recent years, the latest of which - described by team doctor Tom Clanton as "career threatening" - occurred during the Western Conference semi-finals against the LA Lakers on May 8.

"Everything went according to plan and we were able achieve not only fixation of the broken bone but also realignment of the bones to improve the stress pattern on his foot," Clanton said.

"Yao is doing well and resting comfortably after these procedures. We expect him to be immobilised in a cast and using crutches for at least 6-8 weeks."

The Rockets said last week that the 28-year-old Yao, who averaged 19.7 points per game and 9.9 rebounds last season, would sit out the entire 2009/10 season to allow his full recuperation.

The 7'6" Shanghainese is China's most popular sportsman and topped the most recent Forbes China list of entertainers with an estimated income of £32 million.

Yao had been scheduled to take part in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders camp for young Asian players in Beijing next week but was absent from the list of participants issued by NBA China on Tuesday.


Tennis Spy: Alexandra Dulgheru

Eurosport - Wed, 22 Jul 06:53:00 2009

Tennis Spy runs the rule over Alexandra Dulgheru, who finally seems to have shrugged off the injury problems that blighted her early career.

TENNIS Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania - 0

Full name: Alexandra Dulgheru

Nationality: Romanian (Born in Bucharest)

Age: 20 (born May 30, 1989)

World Ranking: 74

Career highlights: Won WTA Warsaw in May 2009.

General: Dulgheru is a classic example of a late developer. Showed early promise winning an ITF event in her hometown back in 2005, but several undistinguished years in satellite tour events followed, as did a string of injuries. Everything changed in Maym 2009 when she came through qualifying to win WTA event in Warsaw, beating no less than Daniela Hantuchova and Alona Bondarenko on her way to the title.

Strengths: Strength and fitness are up there with the best players on the circuit. In beating both Hantuchova and Bondarenko in Warsaw, she battled through tough opening sets before crushing her opponents in the decider, winning those third sets 6-1 and 6-0.

Fast on her feet, with an exciting style of play that sees her cover a huge amount of court, and keeps her opponents running round.

Weaknesses: Erratic shotmaking and very loose style makes her look like a player who relies heavily on her timing being on song. That's all well and good, but she'll struggle for consistency unless she can tighten things up.

More of a problem is her inability to finish points off: partly an issue of lacking a bit of power on the killer blow, and partly a matter of decision-making - something she herself admits can be a problem.

Prospects: The hard work put in on her fitness is bearing fruit, but it's the mental aspect of her game that seems to need work. Not in the sense of focus and concentration - both of which are excellent - but in her tennis sense. The injuries that have held her back since her junior days seem to have retarded the development of her game. At 20, however, time is still on her side - whether she can use it or not is another matter.

Personal: Coached by Daniela Dobre. Born just a few months before the Romanian revolution that saw Nicolae Ceausescu deposed and then executed, Dulgheru is a true post-Communist Romanian with a sunny disposition who lists New York as her favourite city. Loves drawing, going swimming, trips to the cinema, and - slightly surprisingly - snooker.

Shrugged off comparisons to Justine Henin, but names her as her favourite player. Father is an airline pilot with Romanian national airline Tarom.

Sister Bianca-Mihaela started playing at a tennis club five minutes walk from her house, and a four-year-old Alexandra soon got in on the act.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Last-gasp Swiss hold England

Eurosport - Tue, 21 Jul 20:50:00 2009

An injury-time equaliser earned Switzerland a 1-1 draw with England in the first game of the European U19 Championships in Ukraine.

FOOTBALL England U19 Danny Welbeck - 0

Sebastien Weutrich's 92nd-minute free-kick cancelled out a similar effort by Joe Mattock on 35 minutes to share the spoils in the Group A clash at Metalurg Donetsk's stadium.

England took the lead with the first clear-cut chance of the match when Leicester's Mattock curled the ball just inside Oliver Klaus's left-hand post.

Marco Schoenbaechler almost leveled two minutes later but his mis-hit shot was deflected wide.

England went into the break ahead and started the second half well when Aston Villa striker Nathan Delfouneso set-up Manchester United youngster Danny Welbeck, whose shot was blocked.

Arsenal's Henri Lansbury almost extended England's lead with a swerving corner that Switzerland failed to clear but none of his team-mates were able to get a final touch.

Francois Affolter saved his side with a goal-line clearance after Welbeck's finish beat Klaus, while Swiss substitute Admir Mehmedi flicked a header wide following a corner as Switzerland pressed for an equaliser.

Keeper Jason Steele was put under increasing pressure and made saves from Weutrich and Mehmedi but he was unable to stop Weutrich's powerful late effort.

England face hosts Ukraine on Friday while the Swiss play Slovenia.

In the other Group A match, Ukraine were held to a goalless draw by Slovenia.

Group B saw Turkey beaten 1-2 by Spain, while France were held to a 1-1 draw by Serbia.

Watch Ukraine U19 v Slovenia U19 LIVE at 5pm and Spain U19 v Turkey U19 at 6.15pm on Tuesday 21 July on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin Media 521); Also available on your PC via the Eurosport Player - click on the link under the picture to subscribe

Premier League - Gerrard 'like a boxer' in brawl

Eurosport - Tue, 21 Jul 15:13:00 2009

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard lashed out at a man "with the style and speed of a professional boxer" after losing his cool in a bar brawl, a court heard.

FOOTBALL 2009 - Liverpool and England star Steven Gerrard arrives at North Sefton Magistrates court in Southport - 0

The 29-year-old England midfielder is accused of being part of a group that injured businessman Marcus McGee, 34, at the Lounge Inn nightclub in Southport, near Liverpool in December last year.

Gerrard was celebrating Liverpool's 5-1 win at Newcastle United at the time. He denies the charge of affray. An initial charge of assault was dropped at a court hearing in March.

The row erupted after Gerrard asked McGee for a card controlling the CD player, saying: "Give me that, lad," the court heard.

"Mr. McGee took offence at his attitude and the expression 'lad' and he refused. Not many people on Merseyside, or indeed anywhere else, would refuse a request from Steven Gerrard but Mr. McGee did," said prosecutor David Turner.

Gerrard was left fuming by the exchange, and six minutes later came back over to Mr. McGee, swearing and squaring up to him "in the sort of hostile confrontation that is often seen between professional footballers."

"Steven Gerrard had clearly lost his cool: he was angry with Marcus McGee," said Turner.

Gerrard's friends came over to help, and one of them, John Doran, pushed McGee away and "could not resist following through with his right elbow into Mr McGee's face", said Turner.

"We say at this stage Gerrard totally lost it.

"Within seconds, Steven Gerrard joined in the attack with a succession of well aimed uppercut punches delivered with the style and speed of a professional boxer rather than a professional footballer."

Turner said the key question was whether Gerrard was acting in self-defence.

"Steven Gerrard is a world class footballer. He has the honour to be captain of Liverpool FC and to play for England. He is a star. He is Liverpool born and bred and here on Merseyside is a hero," he said.

"We do not say that Mr. Gerrard is normally an arrogant man, we don't say that he is a bully.

"What we do say is that that night he just lost his self control and joined in an attack which should never have taken place. He let himself down."

Gerrard is facing trial alone, after five co-defendants admitted affray, and one admitted a lesser charge of threatening behaviour.

Premier League - Hart handed Portsmouth job

Eurosport - Tue, 21 Jul 20:10:00 2009

Paul Hart has been installed as Portsmouth's permanent manager, just hours after Sulaiman Al-Fahim's confirmation as chairman.

FOOTBALL 2008-2009 Premier League Portsmouth Paul Hart - 0

Hart has signed a two-year contract, having helped Portsmouth avoid relegation after taking over as caretaker boss in February.

Al-Fahim has acted quickly, having taken over as chairman on Tuesday morning after passing the Premier League's fit and proper person test.

He said: "Paul did a great job keeping the team in the Premier League last season, and having previously worked as director of youth operations he knows the club inside-out.

"He has immense experience and a great knowledge of the game, and commands the respect of the players."

Hart said: "The players responded brilliantly to the challenge when I was handed the role last season and I'm looking forward to continuing that relationship."


Premier League - Nasri breaks leg in training

Europeansport - Tue, 21 Jul 15:13:00 2009

Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri will miss the start of the Premier League season after breaking his leg in training.

Samir Nasri - Arsenal - 0

The France international fractured his fibula during the Gunners' pre-season camp in Austria. Club medics expect the 22-year-old to be out for between two and three months.

He is also set to miss France's World Cup qualifiers against Faroe Islands in August and September's clashes with Romania and Group Seven leaders Serbia.

Nasri arrived at Arsenal a year ago from Marseille for around £15 million and immediately established himself as Arsene Wenger's first-choice on the left wing, scoring on his full debut in the 1-0 win over West Brom.

In all, he scored seven goals in his first season at the Emirates, including a decisive brace in the 2-1 win over Manchester United in November.

The injury blow is not as harsh as it could have been for Wenger as another left winger, Czech Tomas Rosicky, returned to action for the first time in 18 months in Saturday's pre-season friendly at Barnet.

Wenger is yet to boost the attacking contingent of his squad this summer, despite the recent sale of striker Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City. So far, Belgian centre-back Thomas Vermaelen is the only major addition to the Gunners' squad during the transfer window.