NEW YORK (AP):For Serena Williams’ first 26 matches at major tournaments in 2015, no deficit was too daunting, no opponent too troublesome, no victory too far from reach.She was unbeaten and, seemingly, unbeatable, nearing the first Grand Slam in more than a quarter-century. All Williams needed was two more wins to pull off that rare feat. And yet, against an unseeded and unheralded opponent in the US Open semi-finals, she faltered. Her pursuit of history ended, oh so close.In one of the most significant upsets in the history of tennis, Williams finally found a hole too big to climb out of, losing 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 yesterday at Flushing Meadows to 43rd-ranked Roberta Vinci of Italy.”I don’t want to talk about how disappointing it is for me,” Williams said at the start of a briefer-than-usual news conference. “If you have any other questions, I’m open for that.”Vinci had never before played in a Grand Slam semi-final. She had never so much as taken a set off Williams in four previous match-ups.VICTORIOUS DAY”Today is my day,” Vinci told the crowd in an on-court interview. “Sorry, guys!”She said she told herself not to think about having Williams across the net. And Vinci’s unusual style, full of slices and net rushes, kept Williams off-balance enough to cause problems and prevent the 33-year-old American from becoming the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in a single season. Williams had been pushed to the limit before – this was her 12th three-setter in a major this season – but had managed to win titles at the Australian Open on hard courts in January, the French Open on clay courts in June, and Wimbledon on grass courts in July.This time, for once, the No. 1-ranked Williams could not pull it out, undone by 40 unforced errors, twice as many as Vinci. That negated the impact of Williams’ 16 aces, including one at 126 mph.”I thought she played the best tennis in her career,” Williams said about Vinci. “She played, literally, out of her mind.”Today, Vinci will face another Italian making her Grand Slam final debut: 26th-seeded Flavia Pennetta, who eliminated No. 2 Simona Halep 6-1, 6-3 earlier yesterday.Pennetta, 33, and Vinci, 32, have known each other since they were kids, having grown up in towns about 40 miles apart on opposite coasts of Puglia, a region in the south-eastern heel of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula.Now they will face each other in a stadium in New York – with a Grand Slam trophy on the line. An intriguing story line, to be sure, but nothing compared to what Williams was chasing: a perfect Grand Slam season.After all, not only was she 26-0 at those tournaments this year, but her winning streak at majors was 33 matches entering yesterday, because she won last year’s US Open.If she had managed to win a fifth consecutive major title, Williams would have raised her total to 22, equalling Graf for the most in the Open era, which began in 1968, and second-most in history behind Margaret Court’s 24.
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The West Indies Cricket Board yesterday urged top regional players to make themselves available for upcoming domestic tournaments, even as several of them prepared to turn out in Australia’s Big Bash League which runs alongside next month’s NAGICO Super50.Chief executive Michael Muirhead said the Super50 – the region’s premier one-day tournament – had been scheduled during a period to allow for maximum participation for the Caribbean’s leading players, and said their presence would be a fillip especially for West Indian fans.”There is an opportunity to have the best players compete for regional supremacy in the upcoming events,” Muirhead said.”The Board has looked at its tournament schedule and has placed each tournament at a time that allows our international players to participate in other competitions overseas.”We, however, value our competitions and we think the fans would want to see our best players compete against each other.”The Super50 bowls off from January 7-24 in Trinidad and Tobago and St Kitts, and features eight teams spread across two groups doing battle in a preliminary phase before climaxing with semi-finals and a grand Final.However, the Big Bash which started on Thursday, runs through to the New Year and is set to also wind up on January 24.Several West Indies players will be campaigning in the Big Bash with the likes of marquee opener Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree and Lendl Simmons all signed to various franchises.Players who fail to make themselves available for the Super50, will be ineligible for the Tri-Nations Series involving Australia and South Africa from June 6-26.Muirhead said with the packed schedule ahead next year, all players would also have the opportunity to develop further.”In the upcoming year, there are a number of tours in and out of the region and with that amount of cricket added, along with the phased roll out of the high performance program, the players will have a chance at better preparing themselves for producing at the highest level.”Following the Super50, the Regional First Class Championship will resume with the remaining five rounds on February 11.
Sergio Aguero, twice, and Fabian Delph and David Sivla scored to power City to a 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace. There was a pair of significant wins, however, for struggling teams. Bournemouth halted a four-match winless run with a 3-0 victory over Norwich that was completed by $17 million record signing Benik Afobe, a recent recruit for the newcomers, after goals from Dan Gosling and Charlie Daniels. The win lifted Bournemouth a place above Norwich into 15th – only a point behind Chelsea. Newcastle climbed out of the relegation zone to move two points behind Norwich by beating West Ham 2-1 through first-half goals from Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum. With fifth-place West Ham losing, it was an even better day for Tottenham, which moved four points ahead of its London rival by coming from behind to beat Sunderland 4-1. James Ward-Prowse scored twice and Dusan Tadic as Southampton beat West Bromwich Albion 3-0. Additional minute LONDON (AP): In an English Premier League campaign about restoring pride at Chelsea, the fallen champions still ensure their games cannot be ignored. It’s not just fascination with watching a wealthy team in decline. Yesterday, a dreary opening 45 minutes against Everton made way for a thrilling second half that started with John Terry’s own goal and ended with the captain scoring in the right net in the eighth minute of stoppage time to clinch a 3-3 draw. Even Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink – unbeaten since replacing the fired Jose Mourinho last month – accepted Terry was offside when he flicked the ball past goalkeeper Tim Howard in stoppage time. Everton manager Roberto Martinez was aggrieved that the referee played an additional minute of injury time when seven had been indicated on the fourth official’s board just after Ramiro Funes Mori made it 3-2 in the 90th minute. Everton led through Terry’s own goal and Kevin Mirallas’ strike on the turn before Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas scored for Chelsea. “There is an understandable feeling of disappointment in having to drop two points in a game that we had to play seven minutes of injury time with the last action happening in seven minutes and 51 seconds,” Martinez said. The surprise leaders once again were Leicester, the team that was battling relegation a year ago. And yet yesterday represented a missed opportunity for the team led by former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri. By drawing 1-1 with bottom-place Aston Villa after Shinji Okazaki’s opener was cancelled out by Rudy Gestede, Leicester are only on top by a point. Arsenal can reclaim top spot by just drawing at Stoke today. Between Leicester and Arsenal are ever-present Manchester City. Struggling teams
The visitors were pegged back largely by rookie leg-spinner Damion Jacobs, who picked up four for 53 from his 10 overs. “It was a really good sign that our bowlers got some time in the middle before it started raining. It was turning out to be a good game,” Amla said. “They bowled well. It started raining and the ball got really wet, but even then they bowled decently. Getting overs under the belt is the most important thing.” South Africa will join hosts West Indies and world champions Australia in Guyana for the Tri-Nations Series, which runs from June 3-26. The series will move on to St Kitts from June 11-15 before winding up in Barbados. Though the majority of the Proteas unit are coming off the Indian Premier League, which climaxed last Sunday, Amla said he did not foresee any major problems with the transition from Twenty20 cricket to the 50-overs format. “I don’t think (the difference) is that big. The only thing is that you have a lot of time to set the game up,” the former captain said. “You have to remind yourself that there is a lot of time still left in the game, but it’s a lot easier to go from T20s to one-dayers than from a Test match.” GOOD SIGN PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC): Opener Hashim Amla says Sunday’s one-day tour match against the WICB President’s XI was important in South Africa’s build-up to the start of the Tri-Nations Series later this week, even though rain ruined the contest at Queen’s Park Oval. Opting to bat, the Proteas piled up 280 for nine off their 50 overs, and the President’s XI were 127 for three in the 25th over when rained arrived to end the game prematurely. The game was ruled a tie under Duckworth/Lewis. “It was a great outing for us. When you come to a foreign country, the most important thing is having time on the legs, especially some of the guys who haven’t played in a while,” said the prolific opener, who top-scored with 92. “We put up a good total on the board. Fortunately I managed to get some runs and a few of the lower order batsmen as well, which is quite handy.”
MEXICO CITY (AP):Lewis Hamilton survived a nervous start to win the Mexican Grand Prix yesterday, grabbing another victory as he chases Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg for the Formula One season championship.But with a 19-point deficit to Rosberg and just two races left, Hamilton is running out of time.Rosberg finished second.Hamilton started on pole position and held the front, despite locking his wheels and cutting through the grass on the first corner. He recovered to hold position and drove off to grab his 51st career victory, tying Alain Prost for second most in F1 history.The two-time defending champion is keeping what pressure he can on Rosberg in the title chase. Rosberg can still win his first career championship if he gets a second and third-place finish in the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished third after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was penalised five seconds after the race for leaving the track and gaining the advantage. The move came in a late-race duel between Vettel and Verstappen for third.As they crossed the finish line, Vettel pulled alongside Verstappen and waved his finger at him. The Dutch teenager responded by shaking his fist. The penalty pushed Verstappen back to fifth behind his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.Hamilton has been bedeviled by poor starts all season, but got a good bolt off the line into one of the longest straights in Formula One. A big wheel lockup approaching the first sent him through the turn and driving into the grass, but he held position before driving off for the victory.Rosberg battled with Verstappen all afternoon. They bumped tires on the first corner, sending the Mercedes driver into the grass. Rosberg held position and race stewards decided there would be no penalty, but without the bump, Verstappen likely would have emerged in second for the early laps.
LAUSANNE, AP:The verdict in former FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s appeal against a six-year ban for unethical conduct will be announced on Monday.The Court of Arbitration for Sport said yesterday it will publish the ruling at 3 p.m. Swiss time ( 9 a.m. Ja time).Blatter has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in authorising a $2 million payment to Michel Platini in 2011. They claimed it was uncontracted salary for France great Platini advising Blatter from 1999 to 2002.FIFA’s ethics committee ruled the payment was a conflict of interest in 2011 just as a FIFA presidential election campaign was starting and banned both for eight years last December. FIFA’s appeal committee cut the bans to six years.Platini, who gave evidence for Blatter at a 14-hour hearing in August, previously had his ban cut to four years at CAS.Though a different three-member panel judged Blatter’s case, it would typically be obliged to respect the precedent of the Platini case which was based on much of the same evidence.Swiss federal prosecutors opened criminal proceedings against Blatter in September 2015 when details of the “disloyal payment” to Platini emerged. Both men were questioned at FIFA headquarters by Swiss investigators who waited for them outside an executive committee meeting.The case ended then-FIFA vice president Platini’s chance to replace Blatter as president, and also forced him out of UEFA.
Preparation and discipline enabled the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to take top honours in the National Amateur Boxing Championships held at the Stanley Couch Gym in Kingston last weekend. Ten gyms participated, and the JDF scored an impressive 42 points, well ahead of Stanley Couch 22, Bruising 17, St Thomas 14, G.C. Foster 10, Oracabessa 6, Heavy Metal 5, Dream Sports 4, Boys Town 3 and Sugar Olympic 2. Special guests at the finals on Saturday were Oliver McCall, former world heavyweight champion; and USA boxing promoter Chris Joy. The army men were superior to the other teams in every department, and although some of their bouts were keenly contested, they were able to produce the extra spark at the right moment to take the honours. They were very aggressive in the closing 10 seconds of each round, a tactic that paid rich dividends for them. The most exciting bout of the night, was the lightweight contest between the army’s Marvin Shea and Sanjay Williams from Bruising gym, who reached the finals by dethroning defending champion Ricardo Carter from G.C. Foster gym. SPLIT DECISION In a torrid third round, in which both boxers let it all out, Shea’s consistency ruled the day, and he came away with a split decision. He was also voted the outstanding boxer of the competition. Former middleweight champion Janathan Hanson, from Stanley Couch, regained his title with a good victory over Alando Lewis from Heavy Metal gym. Hanson was methodical, and Lewis did not challenge him enough during the encounter to give himself a better chance of victory. The bouts in the heavier weight classes ended with decisions that neither the losers nor the crowd agreed with. In the light-heavyweight division, Ian Darby from the JDF was given the nod over Carlos Dwyer from Stanley Couch. Dwyer was impressive, but the hard working Darby got the nod from the judges. There was also crowd displeasure with the decision in the heavyweight division, when army man Bassanio Shaw outpointed Clive Thomas from St Thomas. This, too, was close, but Shaw finished each round with a flurry of activity, and this assisted his cause. In the Super heavyweight division, veteran Dukey Rowe from Stanley Couch, used his experience to defeat Ricardo Brown from the G.C. Foster gym. The army’s Gilbert Vaz was named the outstanding coach, and a special award was given by the Jamaica Boxing Board to referee/judge Ransford Burton for his invaluable service to boxing.
Andre Lowe, Sports Editor The Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) has asked athletes interested in competing at the upcoming IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas to confirm their availability by April 3. The request was made through an email, which was sent to the island’s pool of athletes, managers and agents late Monday evening. With no trials scheduled ahead of the international relay carnival, the JAAA will rely on the expressions of interest from the athletes and consider their form through times recorded since August 1, 2016. In the previous two instalments of the IAAF World Relays in 2014 and 2015, which also took place in Nassau, Jamaica finished second behind the United States with 41 and 46 points. The Jamaicans took gold in the men’s 4x200m and women’s 4x100m in the 2015 event with the men’s 4x100m and women’s 4x200m and 4x400m teams winning silver medals. Several top Jamaicans such as Elaine Thompson and Kemar Bailey-Cole have already publicly expressed an interest in competing at the meet. The IAAF World Relays will take place at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas on April 22 and 23.
The Jamaica Scorpions will seek to keep alive their slim hopes of winning the Digicel-WICB Regional Four-day Tournament when they meet mid-table contenders, the Windward Islands Volcanoes, in St Vincent starting today. The Scorpions, third in the standings on 95.2 points, trail leaders and back-to-back defending champions, the Guyana Jaguars, by 14.6 points, and second-place Barbados Pride by four. This is with two rounds of matches to go and with Guyana and Barbados having the luxury of playing their final two fixtures at home. Guyana, starting this weekend, will host the Leeward Islands Hurricanes, and next week, the Volcanoes. Barbados are down to play Trinidad and Tobago Red Force this weekend, and the Scorpions next weekend. “Winning against the Red Force in the last game was a welcome boost, and though our chances are slim, we have to give it our best shot,” states Scorpions coach Robert Samuels. Changes have been made to the 13-man squad, some forced and one due to a lack of form. Andre McCarthy has been dropped because of poor form while Brandon King got injured in Trinidad and had to sit out. Leg-spinner Damion Jacobs is unavailable while Chadwick Walton and Rovman Powell are with the West Indies one-day team. Left-arm wrist spinner Dennis Bulli and young batsmen Oraine Williams and Peat Salmon have come into the squad. The Windwards, who are out of the title race, have made two changes to their outfit, which defeated neighbours Leeward Islands Hurricanes two weeks ago. The experienced batsman, AndrÈ Fletcher, and left-arm spinner Larry Edwards have replaced West Indies Under-19 batsman Roland Cato and the uncapped Gian Benjamin. Jamaica Scorpions – Nikita Miller (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Marquino Mindley, John Campbell, Fabian Allen, Dennis Bulli, Derval Green, Paul Palmer, Peat Salmon, Oraine Williams, Jerome Taylor, Devon Thomas, Trevon Griffith. Windwards Volcanoes – Liam Sebastian (captain), Devon Smith, Tyron Theophile, Jerlani Robinson, Sunil Ambris, AndrÈ Fletcher, Kyle Mayers, Larry Edwards, Shane Shillingford, Delorn Johnson, Kenroy Peters, Shermon Lewis, Keddy Lesporis. WELCOME BOOST
Kerby Raymundo. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netKerby Raymundo is back home.The 1999 NCAA Most Valuable Player has made his way to the sidelines, joining Jeff Napa’s coaching staff to serve his alma mater Letran for NCAA Season 93.ADVERTISEMENT For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES Duterte’s ‘soft heart’ could save ABS-CBN, says election lawyer Missile-capable frigate BRP Jose Rizal inches closer to entering PH Navy’s fleet End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ IT happens: Facebook sorry for Xi Jinping’s name mistranslation View comments Malacañang open to creating Taal Commission Napa himself confirmed the move and the mentor said the addition of the former ace Knight would serve as a huge boost for the squad in this year’s campaign.“Kerby is a huge part for us, especially with his experience in the PBA. He can teach the players on how to handle some situations and that’s the aspect which he can really help us,” he said.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’Napa noted that Raymundo’s resume alone is enough testament on what the newest assistant coach can bring to the table.“He’s Kerby Raymundo. When you talk about Letran, you cannot talk about Kerby Raymundo, so he’s really a big boost for us that he’s here,” said the soft-spoken bench tactician. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LIVE: Sinulog 2020 Grand Parade NBA: Paul believes blockbuster trade will benefit both Rockets, Clippers Duterte’s ‘soft heart’ could save ABS-CBN, says election lawyer MOST READ 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano