Tradition, innovation collide at Wimbledon
Federer, Henin top seeds
PIL against Dhoni’s swimming pool
Ranchi, June 20
Indian vice-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s plans to build a swimming pool in his new home seem to have got into fresh trouble with his neighbours after they filed a public interest suit against its construction on grounds that it would add to the colony’s water woes.
New blood test may catch dope cheats
Paes-Damm in quarters
London, June 20
“Could be windy,” she said, as a stiff breeze whistled round the exposed seating and the cover protecting the famous green lawn billowed and sank.
Since Mauresmo and Roger Federer lifted two of the world’s most coveted tennis trophies, 300 builders, four tower cranes and countless diggers, lorries and power tools have turned the All England Club into a huge, muddy building site.
It is part of a three-year project to modernise facilities, add a retractable roof to the Centre Court playing area so action will not stop for rain, build a new sunken Court 2 and revamp others.
Part of Centre Court was reduced to its foundations but builders knew they had a deadline to get the stadium up and running, above all protecting the pristine playing surface, for the championships, which start on June 25.
“It will be the only time since 1922 there hasn’t been a roof at all,” Wimbledon chief executive Ian Ritchie told Reuters last week.
“It’ll be very different both to play and to visit as a spectator,” he said.
Ritchie believes one of the attractions of Centre Court was the enclosed, almost cloistered feel with the roof covering most seating areas. This year, he suggested, the atmosphere might be more informal. Next year the spectators will be covered again and in 2009 the moving roof over the court will be installed.
This is Ritchie’s second Wimbledon in charge and he bubbles with enthusiasm for the building project, for the tennis and for the institution that is the championships.
“Our view is that if you are a bit of an iconic sporting venue, if you keep the facilities the same you go backwards. The balance for us always is between tradition and innovation,” he said.
“There are some things that are sacrosanct: We’ll always play on grass; we believe it’s right for people to wear mostly white; we believe there shouldn’t be too much advertising around the place.
“That does not mean keeping a load of 1922 facilities. In some ways we are in quite a competitive market, particularly in the UK. There’s a new Wembley, a new Ascot, a new Emirates Stadium at Arsenal, a rebuilt Twickenham... “We take very seriously wanting to be at the top of the pile.” Wimbledon’s aim is to create a timeless, relaxed atmosphere “like a walk in an English country garden.”
But it is also a business with year-round commercial activities and an average surplus over the last few years of some $59.55 million.
“We are a private members club that has a bit of a do in the summer,” Ritchie joked. “But everyone is entirely focused on what is best for the championships...We’ve been going since 1877 and we have a long term view.”
One innovation that will add spice is the introduction of Hawk-eye, the line-call tracker, to be used for the first time, though only on Centre Court.
“If the technology is there you should use it,” Ritchie said.
“I’d hate somebody to win a match or lose a match on a bad call.” So the tradition of arguing with line judges in the “You cannot be serious!” manner of John McEnroe looks like a thing of the past.
Much will remain the same, however. The flower arrangements and window boxes are just coming into bloom. The strawberries are on order and the tea marquees are up. The paint pots will be put away and painters replaced by smart-uniformed door staff.
The courts are also looking flawless before the first players crush the grass.
“The head groundsman is really pleased because he thinks Centre Court is in better condition than before,” Ritchie said. “It’s had more wind and more sun, more air.” Mauresmo said she was pleased the court was playing true and hurried off to the practice grounds after a brief chat about the weather.
Weather is a constant preoccupation at Wimbledon and this year the Centre Court spectators will be more aware of it than ever. With the retractable roof in two years’ time they will not have to worry.
“Of course, the racing certainty in 2009 will be that we will have 13 days of unalloyed sunshine,” Ritchie mused. — Reuters
Wimbledon, June 20
Rafael Nadal, last year’s runner-up, was seeded number two ahead of Andy Roddick. Defending women’s champion Amelie Mauresmo was seeded number four in line with her world ranking.
Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam tournament of the year, begins on Monday. The draw will be held on Friday.
In determining the seedings, Wimbledon took past performances on grass into account. The seedings at other Grand Slams mirror the rankings.
The top 18 women are seeded according to their WTA ranking, with French Open champion Henin number one in her attempt to improve upon her performance as losing Wimbledon finalist in 2001 and 2006.
Maria Sharapova, who won the 2004 title at age 17, is seeded number two, followed by Jelena Jankovic. Two-time winner and Australian Open champion Serena Williams is number seven.
Below the top three men, there were mostly minor movements against the rankings. Fifth-ranked Novak Djokovic was moved up to the number four seeding after winning in Estoril, Miami and Adelaide.
Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, was No. 16, three spots above his ranking. — AP
Belfast, June 20
The team, accompanied by cricket manager Chandu Borde, will begin its 80-day tour of the United Kingdom by playing the first match of the off-shore series against South Africa at Stormont on June 26.
The Indians are scheduled to play a warm-up match against Ireland here on Saturday.
After the series, India will travel to Scotland to take on Pakistan in a one-off ODI clash at Glasgow on July 3, the proceeds of which would go to the Prince Charles Charitable Trust.
The players would then move to England to take on the hosts in a three-Test series, which would be followed by seven one-dayers. — PTI
Durham, June 20
England beat West Indies by seven wickets in the fourth Test with left-arm spinner Monty Panesar claiming five for 46 to turn the match at a time when West Indies were still hoping for a draw.
The series did not even come close to eliminating the embarrassment and pain at their 5-0 Ashes loss to Australia but at least showed England were back to winning ways. The first Test against India starts on July 19 at Lord’s.
“You know that they (India) are going to bring a huge amount of experience,” Vaughan told reporters. “The batting line-up looks formidable.
“But I do believe in our conditions if we get the ball swinging like we know we can we can really put them under a lot of pressure.”
Vaughan, who also revealed that he had made his decision to quit the one-day captaincy during the unsuccessful World Cup campaign in the Caribbean, was especially pleased with the Durham win because two days were lost to the weather.
“Trying to force a victory from 165 for six on Monday looked a long shot but full credit to the batsmen and Paul Collingwood (128) in particular on his home ground.
“We then went out and bowled with some intensity and put the ball in the right areas, swung it and then Monty produced his magic once again and Steve Harmison was back to somewhere near his best.” Panesar took a series-high 23 wickets.
Harmison’s revival was unexpected after it was disclosed earlier on Tuesday that he will have to undergo a herniaoperation, which the bowler hopes can be delayed until after the India series. He finished the day with two for 92 from 20 overs.
“Figures can sometimes be misleading because Steve Harmison was running in to bowl with five slips and there were plenty of gaps so there are runs around,” Vaughan said.
“I don’t look at the runs column when Steve Harmison is bowling, I look at the amount of pressure he’s creating.
“I don’t know too much about his hernia but I hope we will see Steve bowling as he did today against the Indians later in this summer.”
Ranchi, June 20
Residents of Harmu Housing Colony here filed a PIL in the Jharkhand High Court yesterday, pleading that the pool’s construction be halted. They have also questioned the manner in which the Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA) passed the building plans of the house and the pool.
They had earlier petitioned the RRDA and Jharkhand chief secretary in this regard.
Last week, a team of experts had given a clean chit to the pool in their report submitted to the RRDA. It said “there would not be any wastage of water by constructing the swimming pool”.
However, the first report submitted by the experts earlier this month had been turned down by the Urban Development Department (UDD), which sought a second report on the technical details.
The PIL also alleges that laws were violated while passing the blueprints of the pool and the adjoining house in the colony.
“The building plan of Dhoni’s house was passed in just one day. The RRDA overlooked the technical aspects before clearing it. There is a survey report that Harmu Housing Colony faces a water crisis,” said one of the petitioners.
The residents have alleged that the swimming pool will need 400,000 gallons of water, which will lead to a water scarcity in the neighbourhood.
The Jharkhand government had gifted the 5,000 sq ft plot in Harmu Housing Colony to Dhoni in November, 2005. — IANS
London, June 20
Dr Ken Ho of Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and colleagues recently developed the blood test, with support from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
“This new test is more sensitive to human growth hormone than what we’ve had in the past,” Ho said. “My message to athletes would be to train harder instead of cheating.”
It has been notoriously difficult to identify athletes illegally using human growth hormone. Not only is the hormone naturally produced in the body, making it harder to detect synthetic versions, but also the concentrations of it normally circulating in the body vary enormously and can disappear within minutes.
Human growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and helps cells regenerate. Synthetic versions of the hormone are routinely prescribed to children with growth problems, or tuberculosis and AIDS patients who need to maintain their body weight.
It is also widely taken among some anti-aging advocates since it can improve skin elasticity. But improper use of the hormone can lead to problems including the nerve disorder acute carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, and unnatural growth of the bones.
The new test works by finding proteins triggered by the hormone. “We’ve been able to identify markers that show abuse by measuring when other hormones and proteins released by human growth hormone reach certain levels,” said Dr Olivier Rabin, WADA’s science director. Rabin said that these biological markers are not affected by any other differences between athletes, such as ethnicity, gender, or physiology.
WADA has already introduced another test, which identifies the synthetic version of human growth hormone in the body, on a limited scale. That test was in place at the Athens and Turin Olympic Games.
The agency hopes to use both tests together to maximise their chances of detection. But finding cheating athletes on a large scale will be difficult since the hormone can be detected only in blood. Only trace amounts are present in urine. And blood tests are not used as regularly as urine tests.— AP
Hertogenbosh, June 20
In an edge-of-the-seat thriller yesterday, Paes-Damm dug in deep after losing the opening set and overcame the French duo 6-7, 7-5, 13-11 in match tiebreaker.
Mahesh-Justin crash out
New Delhi: Fourth seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and his American partner Justin Gimelstob made a shocking first-round exit from the Nottingham Open, losing to British wildcards Joshua Goodall and Ross Hutchins. The Indo-American pair squandered a one-set lead to go down 7-5, 4-6, 8-10 in little over one-and-a-half-hour long match. In a hard-fought contest, the fourth seeds won the opening set after breaking their rivals once but could not sustain the lead against the local favourites. The wildcards broke Bhupathi and Gimelstob once to pocket the second set and take the match into super tie-breaker, which turned out to be an engrossing battle. —
New Delhi: Fourth seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and his American partner Justin Gimelstob made a shocking first-round exit from the Nottingham Open, losing to British wildcards Joshua Goodall and Ross Hutchins.
The Indo-American pair squandered a one-set lead to go down 7-5, 4-6, 8-10 in little over one-and-a-half-hour long match.
In a hard-fought contest, the fourth seeds won the opening set after breaking their rivals once but could not sustain the lead against the local favourites.
The wildcards broke Bhupathi and Gimelstob once to pocket the second set and take the match into super tie-breaker, which turned out to be an engrossing battle. — PTI
Yalta (Ukraine), June 20
Sasikiran, who started off with a rocking victory over Alexander Onsichuk of the USA, was completely out of sorts against Jakovenko and lost a theoretically drawn rook and pawns endgame after a long battle.
Alexei Shirov of Spain, meanwhile, emerged as the sole leader with his second successive triumph in the tournament.
On the receiving end was Lenier Dominguez of Cuba who was outdone in a complex middle game.
Shirov took his tally to two points with his second successive victory and is now followed by Vassily Ivanchuk and Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine and Jakovenko who all have 1.5 points apiece. — PTI
Socceroos seek Waugh’s advice
The Socceroos are wary of the heat and tough playing conditions that await them at the championship, which starts next month. The Aussies will be based in Bangkok initially and could play in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia depending on their progress in the tournament. — PTI
Asian Grand Prix
India’s ace long jumper Anju Bobby George, who did not figure in the Bangkok leg as her event was not on the schedule, would participate in the meet, which has 22 events.
Some of the other Olympians are china’s Li Yanxi, Wu Tao, Wen Yongyi, Tong Xiaomei, Xue Juan, and Olga Tereshkova and Marina Aitova of Kazakhstan.
The third and final leg of the Asian Grand Prix would be held in Pune on June 27. — PTI
The website would initially have 500 pages containing all the details about Mumbai cricket, including tournaments some of which are more than half a century old and players with their career stats, according to MCA sources.
Strangely, the website of the BCCI has not yet seen the light of the day though the board had announced long ago that it was in the pipeline. — PTI
ICC match referee Alan Hurst found Edwards guilty of using inappropriate language in a hearing after play concluded in Durham on Tuesday.
Edwards was found to have breached clause 1.4 of the ICC Code of Conduct, which relates to “using language that is obscene, offensive or insulting.” — PTI