Shootout in Vienna, Spain survive
Ivanovic, Serena win
AELTC plays down match-fixing reports
Pak favourites to lift Cup, says Malik
McGrath hails Jane's courage
Pele looted at gunpoint
NBA to help b’ball in India
Vienna, June 23
They will now face Russia, who they thrashed 4-1 in their opening group game, thanks to substitute midfielder Cesc Fabregas who scored the decisive spot kick after Iker Casillas had saved two of Italy's penalties.
It is the first time Spain have reached the last four since they got to the European Championship final in 1984 and came after they had lost three previous quarter-final shootouts in major tournaments, all on June 22.
The victory was also their first over Italy at a major tournament outside the
"It was about time we won one, we deserve it," said Casillas, who saved from Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale.
"Losing on penalties again would have been terrible. Now the fans can enjoy this because we've got to the semi-finals at last."
The game ended goalless after extra time as both well-organised defences coped relatively comfortably with the too-cautious attempts to break them down.
"It was a very evenly balanced game," said Spain coach Luis Aragones. "Italy are always a difficult side to break down and very dangerous on the break."
Two years ago Italy won the World Cup on penalties and current coach Roberto Donadoni had no complaints on Sunday.
"The players should leave here with their heads held high," he said after they took their tally of shootout defeats to five.
Spain are the only one of the Euro 2008 group winners to reach the semi-finals after Portugal, Croatia and Netherlands all lost.
Like the three who fell before them, they were unable to reproduce their earlier form as they were frustrated by an Italy side who had rediscovered their defensive solidity after a shaky start to the tournament.
Neither keeper was stretched in the first half and though Spain continued to have the better of the game after the break their play lacked accuracy and a real commitment to attack.
Fabregas and Santi Cazorla came on after an hour and though they livened things up a little it was Italy substitute Mauro Camoranesi who almost opened the scoring moments later when his close-range shot was saved by Casillas with his feet.
Midfielder Marcos Senna then almost snatched it for Spain nine minutes from time when Gianuigi Buffon fumbled a long-range Marcos Senna drive on to a post but he safely gathered the rebound.
Spain remained the more ambitious side in extra time but few in the crowd were surprised when it went to penalties.
Buffon saved from Daniel Guiza but David Villa, Santi Cazorla and Senna all beat him and after Casillas played his part with two diving stops, Fabregas settled it.
"Naturally, it was the most important goal of my life," said Fabregas. "It was football justice that we won the match." — Reuters
London, June 23
Federer, extending his unbeaten streak on grass to 60 matches, eased into second round with confident performance on Centre Court.
“I did feel a little pressure about two minutes before I went on court. I felt like, wow, okay, here we go. Let's try to get off to a good start. I did, I don't think think I dropped a point in the first few games. That was a great start.”
The top seed, who next faces big-serving Swede Robin Soderling, was in imperious form against an opponent who had won their only two previous encounters, the last four years ago on a hard court in Cincinnati.
He is one of only three active players who boast a winning head-to head record against Federer.
With a radiant sun beating down, Federer was swiftly into the groove, holding his first service game to love and racing into a 3-0 lead after winning the first 11 points against the rusty Slovak.
Playing his first game on grass since last year's tournament after an injury-hit season and competing here under a protected ranking of 70, rather than his true one of 272 after undergoing elbow surgery, Hrbaty held serve at the second time of asking to sympathetic cheers.
He earned one standing ovation for an audacious lob at full stretch that left Federer flailing but the champion was in no mood to let his flying start slip.
Working his opponent around the court with a mix of precise groundstrokes, crisp volleys and a remorselessly accurate serve, Federer was able to hit his stride back on a court that he has made his own.
The Swiss was put under pressure for the only time in the seventh game, Hrbaty forcing three deuces but no break points, but held firm and took the opening set in 25 minutes.
Fully into top gear, Federer raced away with the second set after breaking Hrbaty twice and, having barely broken sweat, had little trouble clinching the match for the loss of a further two games.
Meanwhile, Serbian top seed and current world no.1 Ana Ivanovic had little trouble in advancing to the second round at Wimbledon, beating Rossana De Los Rios of Paraguay 6-1, 6-2 on Monday.
French Open champion Ivanovic, who reached the semifinals here last year, had far too much power for her 103rd-ranked opponent, belting winners at will from the back of the court. Ivanovic saw off her 32-year-old opponent in under an hour and will next face France’s Nathalie Dechy.
Former champion Serena Williams also made a stuttering start at Wimbledon on Monday before overcoming big-hitting Estonian Kaia Kanepi 7-5 6-3.
The 26-year-old sixth seed looked flat-footed and struggled to keep her shots in play during the first set against an opponent who reached the quarter-finals at the French Open earlier this month.
Williams, looking for her first singles title here since 2003, survived an anxious moment at 5-5 when she saved a break point and took control after a Kanepi double-fault gifted her the opening set in 49 minutes. — Reuters
London, June 23
In a startling report by two former Scotland Yard officers, it was suggested that eight Wimbledon matches may have been fixed since 2002 and at least four of them were from last year’s championship.
The revelations have forced the AELTC to impose stricter locker-room rules to prevent betting syndicates from gaining access to players this year.
AELTC chief executive Ian Ritchie said these measures include forbidding anyone other than players and their coaches to enter the locker room besides a betting ban on players and their representatives.
However, Ritchie insisted that match-fixing, though a potential threat, was not a major issue for the championship this year.
“While we are taking it seriously as potential threat, we currently don't believe it is a serious one for this year’s Wimbledon,” he was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
“If anybody is proved to be involved in this, then the penalties, I am sure, will be severe, but nobody has been proved to be involved,” he added.
Ritchie said the report was commissioned by all tennis bodies but urged critics to view the report in perspective as it does not conclusively say matches were fixed.
“It is a good sign of how the four tennis bodies work together. We are trying to deal with this on a global basis, it is a global issue. The key word is perspective. I do not think we have a significant problem. Let’s keep it in perspective,” he said.
“I think it is right we have reacted to the report and adopted it but I really don’t think there is a serious threat at this tournament the motivation to win is extremely strong,” he explained.
The Wimbledon gets underway today and Ritchie urged the fans to not let the report cloud their mind as they enjoy the strawberries and the cream.
“I do not think it should cloud anybody’s view of Wimbledon. The concentration once we start will be on the tennis and the glorious sunshine. There is nothing that will diminish people’s enjoyment of Wimbledon,” he asserted. — PTI
Karachi, June 23
Bangladesh will take on unfancied United Arab Emirates in Lahore and hosts Pakistan will lock horns with Hong Kong in Karachi in the opening day.
The six-nation tournament was last staged in Sri Lanka in 2004 and political problems between India and Pakistan have restricted the number of Asia Cup tournaments to just eight since its inception in 1983-84.
On the sidelines of the tournament, Pakistan and India will also resume traditional rivalry from the recent tri-series in Bangladesh where Pakistan clinched the title.
The real battle would be between Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka while Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates would have the opportunity to learn a few tricks of the trade from the superior opponents.
Bangladesh have always cut a sorry figure when they have rubbed shoulders with big teams barring a few exceptions, so they would be keen to shrug off that image and put up a spirited fight to create an upset.
Having constantly faced questions from foreign teams over the wisdom of having international cricket events in the strife torn country, the Pakistan Cricket Board will be keeping its fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly over next two weeks.
The PCB would use the hosting of Asia Cup as a dress rehearsal for the Champions trophy, slated for September, to allay the security reservations of some teams.
Led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India come to Pakistan after a gap of two and half years when they last toured in early 2006 for a Test series.
Stung by the tri-series defeat in Bangladesh, India would be keen not only to take revenge but also assert themselves as the region's cricket powerhouse.
After launching their campaign with a match against Hong Kong on Wednesday, the Indians take on arch-rivals Pakistan the following day and no wonder the organisers have upped the prices of the tickets for this match.
The tri-series win in Bangladesh makes Pakistan a confident side and with the home advantage, it would be tough for India and Sri Lanka to rein them easily.
Sri Lanka, led by Mahela Jaywardene, have not played one-day cricket since losing series 0-2 against West Indies in April. They will look to get back to winning ways.
No wonder all teams have included specialist spinners in their line-ups with Pakistan opting for two tweakers in Saeed Ajmal and Mansoor Amjad and three spinning all-rounders in Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam and Shoaib Malik.
India will definitely miss the services of their two most experienced bowlers in off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and pacer Sreesanth. — PTI
Pak favourites to lift Cup, says Malik
Lahore, June 23 ''Pressure of competing at home is always there, but we have an edge of knowing our playing conditions very well,'' Malik said. Malik insisted that his team are on a high after the morale boosting win against arch-rivals India in the triangular series final at Dhaka earlier this month. ''The morale of the team is very high after the tri-series final in Bangladesh,'' Malik stated.
Lahore, June 23
''Pressure of competing at home is always there, but we have an edge of knowing our playing conditions very well,'' Malik said.
Malik insisted that his team are on a high after the morale boosting win against arch-rivals India in the triangular series final at Dhaka earlier this month.
''The morale of the team is very high after the tri-series final in Bangladesh,'' Malik stated. — UNI
Sydney, June 23
''I am devastated by the loss of my beautiful wife Jane,'' Glenn McGrath said in a statement today.
''She was my best friend. This is also a very tough time for our children James and Holly. I am grateful they were able to spend the time they had with their mother.
''They were her world. I would like to think that Jane will be remembered as an extraordinary person whose courage and determination humbled me and inspired so many people.
''I never took for granted the time I had with Jane and if there is one thing that can be drawn from her life, it is that every day is a blessing.''
The Australian cricket team will honour Jane's memory during Tuesday's one-day international against West Indies in St. Vincent. The players will wear pink ribbons and batsmen will use pink grips on their bats.
The colour pink represents the McGrath Foundation, an organisation set up by Glenn and Jane to raise money for the fight against breast cancer.
''Jane was a wonderful person who fought and maintained grace and dignity during her long-term illness,'' Australia captain Ricky Ponting said in a statement. — PTI
Burgundy, France, June 23
While Fisichella brought his VJM01 home in 18th position yesterday, Sutil was just behind in the 19th following a tough 70 lap race from which only one car retired.
Fisichella started from 17th on the grid and immediately gained a position on the first lap. Keeping pace with the group in front on his first stint, the Italian pitted late on lap 32 to try to gain track position.
He remained in touch with the field, getting back to 16th by the mid point of the race but was unfortunate to have dropped back to 18th following his second stop on lap 54.
Sutil too had a good start and was on the tail of the Honda of Barrichello in 17th until his first stop on lap 20.
In the middle stint on medium tyres, Sutil put in some strong laps and closed the gap to the field but his second stop dropped him back to the rear of the field.
The team will take heart in scoring its first double finish since Bahrain. Sutil, however, was disappointed and said the team had some better races this year.
''It was a bit frustrating. Both myself and Giancarlo had a very aggressive strategy to try to make up some more places in the race, but we needed to have some luck.
''This was disappointing, seeing the cars passing you when you are lapping well. In the middle stint the pace was OK, it was just the strategy didn't work out in the end,'' Sutil said.
Meanwhile, Fisichella looked a bit relieved and said the team did achieve its target of finishing the race.
''Our target from today's race was to get to the end of the race and we did, so I am pleased from this respect as we have not finished the last three races.
''We had more reliability from the car but the pace was not as good as we would have liked at times. It was better than yesterday, but we need a step forward to move on.
Force India chairman and managing director Vijay Mallya said his team can a lot positives from yesterday's race but was a disappointed to the fact that his drivers could not make use of the opportunities at crucial stages.
''Our goal here was to improve reliability and we can take some confidence that we have achieved this aim, with no problems on either cars.
''We had a strong strategy to try to make up places, which we needed to do when starting from the back, but sadly we could not capitalise on it with the extraordinary reliability of the field,'' Mallya said.
From here, Force India will now return to its UK base to regroup ahead of a three-day test at Silverstone next week where a new aero and mechanical package will be tested for the first time.
''However with this strong basis in the back of our minds we can now move onto Silverstone for the test next week, where we look forward to some new developments that should hopefully let us make up some time up to the field,'' Mallya conceded. — UNI
London, June 23
As many as 10 people are reported to have been involved in the robbery, but Pele was unhurt in the incident.
The robbery, which took place on June 13, was not made public till now. It occurred near the city of Santos in southern Sao Paulo state, The Telegraph reported.
Pele was riding in the passenger seat of a car when it was stopped near a slum by at least 10 young men armed with pistols and knives, the report said.
When the assailants approached his car, Pele rolled down the window and told them who he was, but they robbed him anyway, according to the Veja report.
Estado de S. Paulo reported the robbers gave back some of the items after learning of their victim’s identity.
Both Veja and the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper quoted an unidentified Pele spokesman as saying that the 67-year-old star told friends about the robbery while attending last week’s football match between Brazil and Argentina. — ANI
NBA to help b’ball in India
New Delhi, June 23
Donating health equipment and clothing, training youth in basketball, dedicating an ‘Education to Empowerment Centre’ and addressing “HIV/AIDS myths” are some of the items on the itinerary of NBA players Garrity, Kyle Korver, Ronny Turiaf and Linton Johnson, and NBA legends Dominique Wilkins and Sam Perkins.
The NBA tour is being felicitated by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Basketball Federation of India.
The NBA visit, titled “Basketball without borders”, is intended to help create positive features in communities around the world.
The NBA players will visit the Sahara Centre for Residential Care and Rehabilitation, which provides treatment and counselling to people afflicted with HIV/AIDS and women and children who have been rescued from domestic abuse and sex trade.
The NBA team will also conduct a coaching clinic at the Siri Fort basketball complex in South Delhi.
And a four-day basketball camp will be held at the American Embassy School in which top 50 basketball players and 19 young talent from across Asia will be imparted the finer aspects of the game.
Randhawa finishes tied 43rd at BMW Open
Bjorkman to quit at
end of season
Last chance for ‘Singing in the Rain’
Atwal finishes tied 9th
in Knoxville Open
Sania moves to 32nd
in WTA rankings
On a high, Chandhok