Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wawrinka, Cilic Make Strong Starts; Qualifier Upsets Blake

Last year’s runner-up and No. 10 seed Stanislas Wawrinka made a confident start to his Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Igor Kunitsyn on Monday to reach the second round of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tennis tournament in Rome.

World No. 12 Wawrinka fired five aces as he saved five of six break points and broke serve three times to secure victory over his Russian opponent in 82 minutes. The 24 year old improved to a 13-7 match record on the season, highlighted by a semi-final appearance at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Federer, l. to Djokovic).

"I'm very happy with my game," said Wawrinka. "I know I play very well. I start good this week today with a good win against Kunitsyn, so I'm happy with my game and with the clay court season."

The Swiss reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final in Rome last year with back-to-back victories over World No. 8 James Blake and No. 6 Andy Roddick (retired) before losing to World No. 3 Novak Djokovic.

No. 15 seed Marin Cilic recorded his first victory at the Foro Italico by winning 71 per cent of points on serve as he defeated Italian wild card Flavio Cipolla 6-2, 6-2. The Croatian lost in the first round to Potito Starace on his debut last year. The 20-year-old Cilic is this week ranked a career-high No. 15 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings. He added to his ATP World Tour title collection early in the season in Chennai (d. Devvarman) and Zagreb (d. Ancic) and has a 20-5 match record.

In the second round Cilic will face Belgium’s Christophe Rochus, who converted five of 11 break points as he dismissed Juan Ignacio Chela 6-1, 6-2.

There was disappointment for American James Blake as he was ousted in the first round by Romanian qualifier Victor Crivoi (pictured). The No. 112-ranked Crivoi saved only one of four break points but was able to convert five of 10 break point chances on Blake’s serve to defeat the No. 14 seed 7-5, 6-3 in 72 minutes and record his first ATP World Tour-level win of the season (1-3 record). It was Blake’s third first-round loss of the season and his second on clay after he fell at the first hurdle (l. to Canas) in his last tournament at Houston.

"So far it hasn't been good," Blake said of his clay-court season. "Hasn't been my best tennis lately. I'd love to snap my fingers and magically turn it around and be playing better, but I don't have those powers. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know how I'm going turn it around. I've played worse before and turned it around and had some good results. Hopefully this time it'll be the same."

Spaniard Albert Montanes advanced to a second-round meeting with defending champion Novak Djokovic after edging out Italian wild card Potito Starace 7-6(8), 6-4. World No. 33 Montanes has had mixed results on clay in 2009 – he reached the semi-finals in Casablanca (l. to Serra) and the third round at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo, when he lost to Djokovic in three sets, but last week suffered a first-round exit at his home-town tournament in Barcelona (l. to Tipsarevic). He is looking to reach the third round in Rome for the first time since his debut in 2002 (l. to Costa).

Also Monday, Argentine qualifier Juan Monaco dismissed German Nicolas Kiefer 6-2, 6-3 and Serbian Viktor Troicki defeated Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-3. They will respectively face No. 4 seed Andy Murray and No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro in the second round.

Murray said about Monaco: "He plays well on hard and on clay. He had a bad illness last year, and before that he was ranked inside the top 20... On clay, he plays well in the South America clay court tournaments at the start of most years, and that's where he's had most of his success. He obviously likes this surface."

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS

PGA Tour Confidential: The Zurich Classic

Our insiders on Jerry Kelly's win in New Orleans, John Daly's return and the LPGA's struggles

Every week of the 2009 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Lots to chew on this week, including the first PGA Tour win by Jerry Kelly since 2002, a remarkable shootout in Mexico between LPGA titans Lorena Ochoa and Suzann Pettersen (that nobody saw) and the imminent return (again) of John Daly, minus 40 pounds or so. What does everybody expect from Long John in Spain this week? A win? A top 30? A made cut? A WD? A DQ? Is the erstwhile big man ever going to be a factor on the PGA Tour again?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: A successful week for Daly means not getting arrested, suspended, subpoenaed, punched-out, passed-out or otherwise making a further embarrassment of himself. Who cares how he plays?

Hack: Joe PGA Tour fan seems to. Other than Tiger and Phil, is there a more popular player on the PGA Tour?

Jim Herre, editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: Just so you know, Daly is Twittering.

Shipnuck: I can only imagine: "A dozen Twinkies for breakfast...Yum...Two pack of Ho-Hos at the turn, feeling frisky. Maybe tonight I can find the next ex-Mrs. Daly at Hooters."

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: I love that Daly write his Tweets the way he talks: "wow am i beat today just exhausted" and "done with practice n packin for europe--i do not want to fly"

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: By his own admission, Big John has always been a streaky player. I hope that he can at least return to respectability as a professional, minus the tantrums and the drinking. He can WD or win next week. It's up to him.

Shipnuck: I think Daly has lost a lot of fans and goodwill in recent years. When he was winning tournaments he was an original. Now it's just sad.

Herre: Daly can't chow down with that belly band. He's actually looking pretty good.

Shipnuck: Somehow I bet he'll find a way to put the weight back on. He's got a can-do attitude when it comes to his vices.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: Yes, but there's something about eating only what you kill that makes a guy play better. Todd Hamilton is in the last year of his British Open exemption, and suddenly he's on the leaderboard again. Is that a happy coincidence? It's conceivable that desperation will help Daly's game, too.

Hack: I think Big John has another run in him. Seems like it was just yesterday when he was knocking heads with Tiger in San Francisco at Harding Park. One of the best non-major events I've ever seen.

Morfit: If Daly would start playing well again, people would come back on the bandwagon with their Marlboros and Diet Cokes in a heartbeat. He's "relatable" and all that.

Dusek: Uh oh. Daly is onto us. He just Tweeted: "1 thing? can anyone tell me that site that posts the constant update when my name is mentioned on twitter? twzd? something"

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I've been mocked for saying this before, but I'll say it again: as a pure, natural golfing talent, JD's the best I've ever seen in person. He is a golf savant.

Shipnuck: Jerry Kelly is one of the good guys and this will be a popular win in the locker room, press room and caddie yard. But to me the real story is Charles Howell letting a tournament get away for the third time this year. I think he's too nice a guy for tournament golf. I hope he's somewhere trashing a hotel room. If you do it once it means you care. If you do it monthly, it means you're Daly.

Bamberger: I don't think the problem is that he's too nice — I think his desire to win is fierce — but he's got so much going on in that head. What makes him great for us (as writers) might be hurting him as he gets closer to the hole and there are more and more shot options.

Morfit: The thing that struck me about Kelly's win was how much of the Tour is a mind game. It's painful to watch Charles Howell try to close out a tournament. He's obviously very talented, and a nice guy, but man, something is way off between the ears. That par putt on 17 was pitiful, and the birdie effort on 18 was only slightly better. The only time that guy looked like a serious player was when he beat Phil at Riviera a few years back.

Hack: I like how the CBS crew questioned some of Howell's strategy coming home (laying up and relying on a shaky short game). Some good back and forth there between Faldo and McCord.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Choke of the week to Ian Baker Finch for patting Howell on the back for his great shots down the stretch. Uh, Ian, what great shots? With a bogey at 15, a three-jack bogey at 17 and a pedestrian par at the cupcake 18th, Howell further cemented his reputation as golf's richest choker. Why can't golf announcers, save Johnny Miller, just speak the truth?

Herre: Howell played lights out on the front, then you could see him start playing defense on the back, when he needed to stay on the attack. He did play great — for nine holes.

Dusek: His team, headed by GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher Todd Anderson, needs to convince him to put the hammer down when he's in the lead. Maybe he should talk to Brian Gay?

Morfit: He needs to see GOLF Magazine's resident mind-game guy, Dr. Dick Coop.

Hack: I do think that Charles will keep knocking on the door. He played great in Tampa this year, but it's pretty clear that he doesn't quite have the trust on those little feel shots (and the flatstick) that make all the difference late Sundays.

(From Website : http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1894021,00.html)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Unstoppable Nadal Wins Fifth Straight Barcelona Title

ATP World Tour Champion Rafael Nadal won a fifth successive title at the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell after defeating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-2, 7-5 Sunday in a repeat of the 2008 final. As the winner of the ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament, Nadal collected € 286,000 and 500 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points.

The 22-year-old Mallorcan clinched his 35th ATP World Tour title (35-9 in finals) and 24th on clay. Last week, he captured his 14th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on clay at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he has won each year since 2005.

Nadal, who received the trophy from Princess Cristina of Spain, said: “I never imagined anything like this. To win again here in Barcelona, in my home club and at such an important tournament is incredible.”

Nadal had held all 23 of his service games this week entering the final, but dropped serve three times against Ferrer in the championship match. The two traded breaks of serve in the first four games of the second set before Nadal succeeded in breaking Ferrer in the 11th game and promptly went on to serve out the match.

“This has been my best match of the year so far on clay,” said Nadal. “David played very well and was very aggressive. It was hard to take control of the match and I was lucky that the second set didn’t slip away from me.”

Ferrer reflected on the match: “The second set was very open. My serve wasn’t great and I lacked a little spark but I’ll leave here happy and with good memories because I know I’m playing good tennis and on a regular basis.”

The two players were facing off for the first time since last year’s final at the ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament, a match Nadal won in three sets. Nadal now improves to a 7-3 record against Valencia-native Ferrer.

It was the eighth all-Spanish final in Barcelona in the Open Era, including the fourth in the past five years. Nadal had won his first three Barcelona titles by defeating countrymen Juan Carlos Ferrero (2005) and Tommy Robredo (2006) and Argentine Guillermo Canas (2007). A Spaniard has won the Barcelona title the past seven years.

Victory for Nadal marked his 24th straight win in Barcelona, taking him to a 25-1 event record. His only loss came to countryman Alex Corretja in the second round in 2003, when he made his tournament debut at age 16.

Nadal has now won 47 consecutive matches on clay in the month of April, claiming eight titles during that stretch – five in Monte-Carlo and four in Barcelona (last year’s Barcelona final was on May 4). His last loss on clay in April came on April 8, 2005 to Igor Andreev in the Valencia quarter-finals. Since 2005, he has compiled a 142-4 surface match record.

He extended his clay-court winning streak to 25 matches, with his last loss coming to Ferrero in the second round of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome last year. Nadal will attempt to atone for that early exit when he opens against the winner between Italian Andreas Seppi and American Sam Querrey next week as the top seed in Rome.

Nadal leads the ATP World Tour this season with a 33-3 match record and four titles, highlighted by wins at the Australian Open (d. Federer in five sets to win sixth Grand Slam championship) and the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournaments in Indian Wells (d. Murray) and Monte-Carlo (d. Djokovic). He also was a finalist in February at Rotterdam (l. to Murray).

"Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year," said Ferrer. "He has a great rhythm right from the start and it’s very difficult to beat him."

Ferrer dropped to a 7-7 mark in tour-finals (4-5 on clay) and a 23-9 season match record. The 27 year old also finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic earlier this year at the ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament in Dubai.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS/NEWSARTICLE_3348.ASP)

Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Wigan Athletic

Ryan Nelsen scored his first Barclays League Premier League goal as Blackburn Rovers took a huge stride towards safety with victory over Wigan Athletic at Ewood Park.

The New Zealand defender headed home Benni McCarthy's free-kick on the hour after McCarthy had given Rovers the lead on the stroke of half -time.

Hugo Rodallega had hit the woodwork for Wigan in the third minute and the home side had Paul Robinson to thank for retaining their advantage in the second half.

Wigan gave the home side a mighty scare as early as the third minute when Antonio Valencia broke past Stephen Warnock on the right and floated a shot over Paul Robinson which crashed away off the underside of the bar.

Hugo Rodallega also threatened from the opposite flank as Allardyce's men began looking jittery, although Samba - playing up front as expected - almost got his foot on a long Warnock cross to the back post in the 11th minute.

Rovers came even closer one minute later when Morten Gamst Pedersen flashed a ball across the box and once again the lurking Samba just failed to get the crucial touch in front of goal.

El-Hadji Diouf was just beaten to Benni McCarthy's right-wing cross by Wigan keeper Chris Kirkland as the home side's early nerves seemed to evaporate and the dangerous Samba looked the most likely source of a breakthrough.

priceless opener

Wigan had a lucky escape in the 23rd minute when Pedersen's deep cross eluded everybody until it fell to Diouf at the far post, and his header goalwards was booted off the line despite Lee Cattermole slipping as he did so.

N'Zogbia lashed a left-foot shot wide for the visitors who continued to show plenty of purpose in their attacks. Watson should have done better when he was set up by Rodallega in the 26th minute but fired over the bar.

The visitors continued to shade the action up to the break, threatening from a series of Watson corners, while Allardyce's shortage of attacking options was underlined again by his side's absence of clear-cut chances.

However just as the half seemed destined to end in stalemate, McCarthy rose to meet Pedersen's corner in the final minute of the half and headed a potentially priceless opener past Kirkland.

Latics manager Bruce replaced the ineffective Mido with Amr Zaki at the break, handing the Egyptian striker a shot at redemption for the first time since the player was fined for returning late from international duty.

But Rovers had the first chance of the half in the 54th minute when Samba out-jumped Kirkland to meet Andre Ooijer's cross from the right but steered the ball just the wrong side of the post.

sharp effort

One minute later the visitors came closer when Valencia cut across the box and played a clever ball which put Watson through, but the midfielder's low drive was parried away by Robinson.

Rovers took another huge stride towards safety on the hour when they grabbed their second goal, McCarthy flinging in a free-kick from the left and captain Nelsen rising to flick home his first goal for the club.

Robinson denied Wigan an opportunity to reduce the deficit in the 65th minute with a series of fine saves which started when he tipped a Charles N'Zogbia header over the bar for a corner.

From Watson's set-piece Emmerson Boyce saw his initial shot cleared off the line before Robinson parried Valencia's long-range follow-up then Scharner's goal-bound close-range header.

Robinson continued to deny the Latics a chance at getting back in the match, stretching well to parry another sharp effort from the dangerous Rodallega in the 72nd minute.

To their credit Wigan pressed to the end and Robinson was called into action in injury time to save again from substitute Daniel De Ridder, and Ooijer booting a late Titus Bramble effort off the line.

(From Website : http://www.premierleague.com/page/MatchReports/0,,12306~45183,00.html)

Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough

Captain Cesc Fabregas scored both goals as Arsenal warmed up for their Champions League semi-final against Manchester United with a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners are now all but safe in fourth place following a run of 20 league matches without defeat.

Andrey Arshavin, who smashed in four goals at Liverpool in midweek, was again inspirational, but will not be eligible for the European tie against holders United.

With leading scorer Robin van Persie still sidelined by a groin problem, the double salvo by Fabregas and the return to fitness of goalkeeper Manuel Almunia could not have come at a better time.

With such a vital Champions League tie only some 72 hours away, manager Arsene Wenger would have been forgiven if he had rested a couple of his key men today in front of the watchful eyes of Sir Alex Ferguson in the Emirates crowd.

However, Arsenal had named a strong starting XI and remained positive from the outset, with Theo Walcott - in his 100th appearance for the club - looking to get clear down the right and Arshavin deployed in a roaming role from the left.

The first opening came after eight minutes. Walcott was sent clear by Fabregas, but Robert Huth, the former Chelsea defender, made a fine recovery tackle.

Arsenal continued to press Boro on the edge of the area, with full-back Kieran Gibbs almost getting on the end of Fabregas' pass at the near post.

crucial block

Arshavin snatched possession some 18 yards out, but could not make enough space for a clean shot, and would perhaps have been better to play Fabregas in on the overlap down the left.

To their credit Boro continued to chase down the home side albeit without making too much impression in the opposition half.

The Gunners went ahead on 26 minutes. Nicklas Bendtner flicked the ball to Fabregas in the centre-circle, and the Arsenal captain immediately released Arshavin down the left. The Russian raced into the area before laying the ball back across into the path of the on-rushing Fabregas, who drilled his shot past Brad Jones, low in the far corner.

Arsenal looked for a second, and Walcott screwed a shot across the face of goal when a square pass to Bendtner in the centre looked the better option.

Almunia, fit again following an ankle problem, was called into action on 43 minutes when he saved Stewart Downing's 20-yard snap-shot at full strength, down to the left.

Boro almost snatched an equaliser when former Gunner Jeremie Aliadiere took a through ball on his chest and raced into the area, but Almunia was quick off his line to make a crucial block.

closing stages

At the other end, Fabregas and Emmanuel Eboue combined to tee-up Walcott six yards out, with Jones producing a quick reaction save.

In a warning for the hosts, Boro striker Marlon King fired an angled volley from Tony McMahon's cross goalwards which Almunia held, but on 67 minutes, the Gunners cut the visitors' defence open again.

Arshavin stepped inside to find a square pass to Eboue, who slid the ball through into the path of Fabregas.

Jones rushed out to close down the Arsenal captain, but was promptly rounded before Fabregas rolled the ball into the net.

The Gunners played out the closing stages to record a first win over Boro since January 2006 to go into Wednesday's match at Old Trafford full of confidence.

(From Website : http://www.premierleague.com/page/MatchReports/0,,12306~45182,00.html)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kelly stretches Zurich Classic lead

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jerry Kelly just wants to have fun.

Of course, even in New Orleans where he loves the great food and hot music, walking off with his third PGA Tour victory and the $1.1 million payday the Zurich Classic would provide would certainly up the fun factor.

"I'm going to try to have fun and see what happens," Kelly said after shooting a bogey-free 3-under 69 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes. "That's the key to my success when I come to a place like this. I have fun outside the ropes and inside the ropes."

Kelly, the 42-year-old Wisconsin player who won his two PGA Tour titles in 2002, has previously held or shared a three-shot lead after 54 holes six times in his career. Only one of those leads has led to a win - the 2002 Sony Open. But this year 13 of the 16 players who have been up by three going into the final round have won.

"You know, I've got a swing that's not new, but it hasn't really been tested as much as I'd like to have it tested," said Kelly, who made two birdies on the front nine and one on the back. "That's because I haven't played well in the last few years."

His only goal Saturday was to be comfortable, said Kelly, who withdrew from the Verizon Heritage last week because of the flu and a dislocated rib that caused severe back pain. "I'm not going to force shots."

When he got into trouble Saturday, Kelly said he "played smart." He credited that, and an improved, but not perfect swing with his spot at the top of the leaderboard.

Kelly had a 13-under 203 total at TPC Louisiana. He opened with rounds of 68 and 68.

Steve Marino made the strongest move of the day, using eight birdies to offset two bogeys and a double bogey. Marino moved to 11 under before a bogey on the par-5 18th dropped him to 10 under, still good enough to give him sole possession of second place.

"It came out real hot and went over the green," said Marino, who finished with a 68. "That's the last place you want to be. I ended up making six. But I played well all day, and I look forward to more."

Marino's best finish was a second last year at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Five players - Rod Pampling (68), Aaron Watkins (69), Charles Howell III (70), John Rollins (71) and Charlie Wi (71) - were tied for third at 9 under. Howell and Wi moved to 10 under, but both bogeyed No. 17.

Pampling got in trouble on 12 with a double bogey.

"Trust me, I wasn't very happy," Pampling said. "You know, hitting a 5-wood and the ball plugs, you're never too happy after that. But I'd been playing good. I hadn't made too many mistakes."

The tough Pete Dye-designed course, pin placement, and swirling wind that was made unpredictable by trees on the course, all contributed to problems, players said.

"It's very difficult with the wind conditions," said Wi, who had the first-round lead. "Especially on 17, you get it next to the water. And you make mistakes there."

David Toms (72) was 8 under along with Jeff Overton (68), Joe Ogilvie (69), Roland Thatcher (70), Rory Sabbatini (71), Kevin Stadler (71) and John Merrick (72).

"I wasn't making birdies and I got kind of behind," Toms said. "I needed to make some shots and play smart and play the golf course like you have to."

Stadler, who finished with a triple bogey, gained entry into the tournament as a Monday qualifier when he shot a 66 at the Bridges Golf Club in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Stadler is a conditional player after finishing 145th on last year's money list.

(From Website : http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1893985,00.html)

Nadal To Face Ferrer In Repeat Of 2008 Final

ATP World Tour Champion Rafael Nadal is just one win away from clinching his fifth straight Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell title after dismissing World No. 8 Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-2 to reach the final of the ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament on Saturday.

Victory for the Spaniard marked his 23rd successive win in Barcelona, taking him to a 24-1 event record. His only loss came to countryman Alex Corretja in the second round in 2003, when he made his tournament debut at age 16.

In the final Nadal will face David Ferrer in a repeat of the all-Spanish 2008 final after the fourth seed fought past fifth-seeded Chilean Fernando Gonzalez 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(5).

In blustery conditions at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, Nadal saved all six break points he faced in the one-hour 46-minute encounter, while converting four of nine break point chances on Davydenko’s serve to improve his career lead over the Russian to 4-2.

Davydenko, who is continuing his comeback from a left-heel injury that sidelined him for two months, slipped to a 7-3 season record after suffering his second semi-final loss in Barcelona. The 27 year old dropped to a 1-15 lifetime against World No. 1 players.

The 22-year-old Nadal’s statistics on clay continue to amaze. The Mallorcan has won his past 24 matches on the surface, with his last loss coming to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome last year, and has a staggering 141-4 match record on clay since 2005.

The left-hander is chasing his 24th clay-court title and his 35th tour-level trophy (34-9 lifetime) on all surfaces. Last week he claimed his 14th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 shield on clay at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he has won each year since 2005.

World No. 1 Nadal leads the ATP World Tour with a 32-3 match record on the season. He has clinched three tour-level titles at the Australian Open (d. Federer in five sets to win sixth Grand Slam championship), and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournaments in Indian Wells (d. Murray) and Monte-Carlo (d. Djokovic), while also finishing runner-up in Rotterdam (l. to Murray).

When Nadal takes on Ferrer in Sunday’s final it will be the eighth all-Spanish final in the Open Era at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona. Nadal defeated Ferrer in three sets to win the title last year and takes a 6-3 career lead into the pair’s 10th clash.

All-Spanish Finals In Barcelona

2009 - Rafael Nadal vs. David Ferrer
2008 - Rafael Nadal d. David Ferrer
2006 - Rafael Nadal d. Tommy Robredo
2005 - Rafael Nadal d. Juan Carlos Ferrero
2001 - Juan Carlos Ferrero d. Carlos Moya
1997 - Albert Costa d. Albert Portas
1991 - Emilio Sanchez d. Sergi Bruguera
1969 - Manuel Orantes d. Manuel Santana

World No. 13 Ferrer was made to work hard for a place in his 14th ATP World Tour final (7-6 record). Gonzalez started the match producing some of his best tennis to break twice and take a one-set lead 6-2 before Ferrer was able to make his mark in the encounter and convert two of three break points in the second set to level the match. The Javea native then took charge in the deciding set as he raced out to a 5-2 lead.

"It was a crazy match that could have gone either way," commented Ferrer. "When he double faulted, I saw a light. I played well, very aggressive, although I need to serve a bit better. I'm happy with my form and to have played well here. I love this tournament and its history."

The 14th-ranked Gonzalez hit back to break to love as Ferrer served for the match at 5-4 and replicated his form from the first set as he pushed the set to a deciding tie-break. However, the Chilean remained frustrated by Ferrer’s perseverance and crucially double-faulted at 5-5 before netting a forehand to grant Ferrer victory after two hours and 13 minutes.

The 27-year-old Ferrer, who reached a career-high No. 4 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings in February 2008, improved to a 23-8 match record as he advanced to his second final of the season. In February, the right-hander finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the Dubai final on hard court. He takes a 21-37 record against Top 10 players into the final against No. 1 Nadal.

"Rafa is the World No. 1 and the best on clay, it's very difficult to beat him," admitted Ferrer. "I'll try to play good tennis, if not I'm dead, but I'm not thinking about whether or not I'll beat him, I go on the court to play as well as possible."

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS/NEWSARTICLE_3335.ASP)

Manchester United 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United staged a stunning fight-back to go back to the top of the Barclays Premier League.

After being overhauled by Liverpool earlier in the day, United found themselves 2-0 down at half-time as Darren Bent and Luke Modric gave Tottenham Hotspur a commanding lead.

However the champions hit back to win with two goals apiece from Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

Dimitar Berbatov scored the fifth against his old club to put the Red Devils three points clear of the Merseysiders with a match in hand.

(From Website : http://www.premierleague.com/page/Headlines/0,,12306~1639413,00.html)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Premier League Football News

Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Aston Villa

Bolton Wanderers moved a point closer to safety with this draw at home to Aston Villa.

Tamir Cohen marked his first start of the season by scoring for Bolton at the Reebok Stadium.

He smashed the ball home from close range in the 59th minute after Aston Villa failed to clear a free-kick from Matt Taylor.

The visitors had taken the lead through Ashley Young but have now failed to win in 12 matches in all competitions.

A full match report will be available shortly.

Hull City 1-3 Liverpool

Liverpool kept up the pressure on Manchester United at the top of the table.

Xabi Alonso put the Reds ahead, and after Caleb Folan had been sent-off for Hull City, Dirk Kuyt made it 2-0.

Geovanni reduced the arrears before Kuyt made sure of victory late on.

A full match report will be available shortly.

Fulham 1-0 Stoke City

A first-half goal was enough to see Fulham keep up their push for a place in Europe.

Erik Nevland scored the only goal of the match after 29 minutes to give Roy Hodgson's side victory.

A full match report will be available shortly.

West Ham United 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea kept up the pressure towards the top of the Barclays Premier League with a narrow victory at West Ham United.

The Blues scored the only goal on 55 minutes through Salomon Kalou. Frank Lampard wriggled to the byline down the left and floated a cross to the far post, where Kalou took one touch before planting his finish into the empty net for his ninth goal of the season.

A full match report will be available shortly.

West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Sunderland

West Bromwich Albion kept alive their hopes of Barclays Premier League survival with a convincing win over Sunderland.

Jonas Olsson broke the deadlock after 40 minutes putting Albion in front with his third goal of the campaign.

Greening's inswinging corner flicked off the head of Marc-Antoine Fortune to Olsson whose low left-footed half volley flew past Marton Fulop.

After 58 minutes Brunt scored his fourth goal in the last three matches to double the Baggies lead.

Fortune held off a weak challenge from Anton Ferdinand and his low cross from the byline was turned home at close range by the Northern Ireland international.

Carlos Menseguez added a third two minutes from time to wrap up the points.

A full match report will be available shortly.

(All From Website : http://www.premierleague.com/page/Headlines/)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Davydenko To Meet Nadal; Ferrer Wins All-Spanish Clash

Nikolay Davydenko continued his return to top form on Friday, when the third-seeded Russian beat Radek Stepanek for the first time since October 2004 at Moscow. Davydenko snapped a three-match losing streak against the ninth-seeded Czech with a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2 win in two hours and 19 minutes for a place in the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell semi-finals.

Davydenko progressed to his first ATP World Tour semi-finals since November 2008, when he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai – now re-named the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Stepanek hit seven aces and saved 11 of 16 break points in the pair’s first career meeting since August 2007 at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Canada in Montreal, but it was Davydenko who was more consistent winning 67 per cent of service points and winning four of five break point opportunities.

“I’m not thinking about tomorrow yet,” explained Davydenko. “I haven’t played that many matches this year yet, so I want to enjoy this moment. I’m starting to find my game and I know I can play better.”

The 27-year-old Davydenko returned to competitive tennis last week at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo, where he reached the quarter-finals (l. to Murray), after a two-month injury lay-off due to a left heel injury. He improved to 7-2 on the 2009 ATP World Tour season and 11-4 lifetime at the clay-court tournament. The World No. 8 also reached the Barcelona semi-finals in 2005 (l. to Ferrero).

Stepanek, 30, is off to his best career-start to a season (22-8 record), winning the first of two ATP World Tour titles in the year’s first tournament in Brisbane (d. Verdasco). He then captured San Jose (d. Fish) in February and also advanced to the Memphis final (l. to Roddick).

Davydenko takes a 2-3 record into Saturday’s semi-final against Spaniard Rafael Nadal, but the four-time defending champion and ATP World Tour No. 1 has won both clay-court meetings. Nadal advanced to the last four when No. 7 seed David Nalbandian of Argentina withdrew due to a right hip injury on Thursday.

“It’s a secret,” smiled Davydenko, when asked about the tactics he might use against Nadal. “I’m not going to tell the press, because tomorrow you’ll print it and then Rafa will read it and know all the secrets. Really, I haven’t thought much about it yet, for the rest of today I just want to relax and enjoy life.”

Fourth seed David Ferrer, the 2008 runner-up (l. to Nadal), won an all-Spanish battle against 2004 winner and sixth seed Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4 in 83 minutes. Ferrer, who also won in straight sets at the same stage last year, improved to 13-6 lifetime in Barcelona and 22-8 on the 2009 ATP World Tour season. Robredo won just 18 of 61 points on return of serve.

The 27-year-old Ferrer advanced to his fourth semi-final (or better) this year. He has also reached the semi-finals at Auckland (l. to Querrey) and Johannesburg (l. to Chardy), with a runner-up finish in Dubai (l. to Djokovic).

Robredo, 26, leads the ATP World Tour this season with the most match wins on clay courts (17-4). In February he won back-to-back titles in Costa do Sauipe (d. Bellucci) and Buenos Aires (d. Monaco). The 2004 Barcelona titlist (d. Gaudio) and 2006 finalist (l. to Nadal) dropped to 24-8 this year.

Seven of the top eight seeds advanced to the quarter-finals at the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell, the fifth ATP World Tour 500 tournament of the season, for the first time since 1987. In addition, for the third time in four years (except 2007), at least four Spaniards have advanced to the quarter-finals.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS/NEWSARTICLE_3325.ASP)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nadal Starts Strong; Davydenko Dismisses Clement Challenge

ATP World Tour Champion Rafael Nadal began his quest for a fifth consecutive Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell title with a commanding 6-2, 6-2 win over Portuguese qualifier Frederico Gil, Wednesday at the ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament. Nadal had also defeated Gil last month at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Miami.

“In Miami I played pretty badly against him,” said Nadal. “Today I played a more serious match, without making any big changes. Last time we played I felt he could have won a set, but not today. Of course because I stayed focus. He's fighter and you need to be concentrated all the time in order to not let him get into the match and win a set. First rounds are always difficult because you need to adjust to the new conditions. It was a relatively comfortable match and I’m happy to have won without suffering too much.”

Nadal extended his winning streak on clay to 22 matches and he has now compiled an outstanding 139-4 match record on clay since 2005. The 22-year-old Mallorca native is 22-1 in Barcelona and 30-3 overall this season with three titles. In addition, since the beginning of Monte-Carlo last year when he captured his first ATP World Tour title of 2008 through his last tournament in Monte-Carlo, Nadal owns an overall 90-8 record with 11 titles.

Two other Spaniards, No. 2 seed Fernando Verdasco and No. 6 Tommy Robredo, also advanced to the third round courtesy of straight-sets wins Wednesday. Verdasco defeated Ecuadorian qualifier Nicolas Lapentti 7-5, 6-3, while Robredo ousted wild card Gaston Gaudio 7-6(6), 6-1 in a meeting of former Barcelona champions.

Tenth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro faced a tougher challenge in his second-round match, made to battle for two hours and 23 minutes in a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 win over Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela. Almagro, a semi-finalist in 2006 at Barcelona (l. to Nadal), led the circuit with the most match wins on clay last season (30-8).

Third seed Nikolay Davydenko dismissed France’s Arnaud Clement 7-6(2), 6-2 to secure his place in the third round. The Russian saved five break points in a tight first set before clinching a one-set lead by winning the tie-break 7-2. He then stepped up a gear in the second set and converted two of six break points to wrap up victory and improve to a 4-0 career lead over Clement in one hour and 56 minutes.

The 27-year-old Davydenko made his comeback from a foot injury by reaching the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters quarter-finals (l. to Murray) last week and is looking to build on his comeback at a venue where he has enjoyed success on previous visits. The right-hander reached the semi-finals (l. to Ferrero) at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona in 2005 and advanced to the quarter-finals in 2003 (l. to Moya) and 2007 (W/O vs. Canas).

He next faces a daunting third round match against No. 16 seed Feliciano Lopez, who rallied to defeat fellow Spaniard Santiago Ventura 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Lopez leads the head-to-head series against Davydenko 4-0, last defeating the Top 10 player in three sets in the 2008 Dubai semi-finals.

Czech No. 15 seed Tomas Berdych was tested by Spain’s Oscar Hernandez before prevailing 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the third round in Barcelona for the first time in three visits. The 28th-ranked Monte-Carlo resident improved to 9-8 on the season, highlighted by fourth-round showings at the Australian Open (l. to Federer in five sets) and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami (l. to Djokovic).

Other seeds enjoyed comfortable wins in their second round matches, with No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez, No. 7 David Nalbandian, No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka and No. 9 Radek Stepanek advancing in straight sets.

Italian Potito Starace and Belgian Christophe Rochus recorded the only wins over seeded players on Wednesday. Starace ousted No. 14 Robin Soderling 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2, while Rochus outlasted 13th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-7(2), 6-3 to earn the unenviable task of playing Nadal in the third round.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS/NEWSARTICLE_3302.ASP)

Manchester United 2-0 Portsmouth

Paul Scholes marked his 600th Manchester United appearance in trademark fashion, supplying a great through ball that could eventually seal an 18th league championship for the Red Devils.

Chelsea's failure to beat Everton at Stamford Bridge leaves Liverpool as United's only realistic title rivals. Goals from Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick mean Sir Alex Ferguson's men are now three points clear of their north-west rivals, with a match in hand.

It would be Scholes' ninth title medal. He deserves it for the sublime defence-splitting pass that set up Carrick seven minutes from time after United had failed to capitalise on Rooney's early opener.

Unusually for Scholes, until his telling late intervention he was fairly subdued as he joined Bill Foulkes, Sir Bobby Charlton and long-time team-mate Giggs in United's exclusive 600 club.

In fact, it was midfield partner Anderson and evergreen Giggs - who has now turned out an incredible 799 times for his only professional club - who caught the eye.

The pair were at the heart of most United attacking moves, combining in brilliant fashion for Rooney's early opener.

As Sir Alex Ferguson is well aware, quick goals are vital at this stage of the season, when nerves can create so many problems at both ends of the table.

So the United manager must have been delighted to see Anderson sent Giggs flying down the left flank with a brilliant reverse pass that found the Welshman just onside.

forward line

With 10 championship medals to his name, Giggs is not in the habit of panicking in such situations. And he calmly rolled his cross along the six-yard box, where Rooney gleefully tapped him.

Had Rooney been allowed to dart onto another precise Giggs pass at the end of a one-sided opening period, United would have had the victory they craved wrapped up with half the match remaining.

Instead, a very marginal offside decision went against them, as did a failure to convert a series of excellent chances, the best of which fell to Giggs.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the provider with a low cross from the right. Giggs' deft chip sailed over David James but bounced agonisingly wide of the post.

Substitute John O'Shea, who replaced Gary Neville shortly after Rooney's opener, had a header cleared off the line by Nadir Belhadj, with Giggs spurning another opportunity after Rooney had sent him through, United's stand-in skipper firing straight at James.

The half-time introduction of Jermaine Pennant brought some pace to Portsmouth's forward line. The problem for Pompey was they struggled to get into an area where it might be exploited.

bottom corner

On the one occasion they did, Glen Johnson was the provider. But Edwin van der Sar read his idea and pushed the England defender's low cross away from Peter Crouch.

Van der Sar was one of nine changes to Ferguson's FA Cup semi-final line-up.

Yet still the United manager could afford to leave Rio Ferdinand out altogether and have both Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez on the bench.

And once O'Shea had limped off, leaving Ferguson with a single remaining substitution, it was the Argentina star most United fans wanted to see introduced.

By then, anxiety appeared to have set in. In addition to Johnson's cross, Van der Sar had to keep out a volley from Crouch and a far more dangerous header from the same man that seemed destined for the bottom corner.

Rooney would have restored a sense of calm if he had finished instead of firing straight at James after shrugging off the attentions of Johnson to reach Van der Sar's long punt forward.

Yet Portsmouth's urgency left Ferguson to conclude neither Tevez nor Berbatov would be needed, bringing on Michael Carrick instead to help steady the ship.

The tactic worked a dream, although probably not in the way Ferguson imagined as the England man collected Scholes' superb pass and finished smartly.

It left Pompey dangling precariously six points above the drop zone, facing a crucial trip to Newcastle United on Monday.

By then, United will be getting ready to face Arsenal in a Champions League semi-final, with Scholes hoping another of those cherished title medals is within touching distance.

(From Website : http://www.premierleague.com/page/MatchReports/0,,12306~44741,00.html)

Chelsea 0-0 Everton

Battling Everton ended Chelsea's lingering Barclays Premier League title ambitions with a hard-fought goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.

The result leaves Guus Hiddink's side three points behind second-placed Liverpool and six adrift of leaders Manchester United, who beat Portsmouth at Old Trafford and also have a game in hand.

The match, a dress rehearsal for May's FA Cup final, was dominated by both goalkeepers.

Chelsea's Petr Cech and Everton's Tim Howard took the plaudits on a night when both sides failed to make the most of their chances.

Cech was the first goalkeeper forced into action when a left-wing cross from Joleon Lescott was glanced into the arms of the Czech Republic international by Jo in the second minute.

Cech came to Chelsea's rescue in the sixth minute when Tim Cahill put Jo through with a neat pass but the Everton striker was unable to beat the home goalkeeper who kept out his shot at point-blank range.

Moments later Chelsea responded with a long-range effort from Michael Ballack smothered by Howard who dived low to his left to ensure the ball did not creep inside the post.

Minutes later Lampard, playing his 50th game of the season, sent a 25-yard shot just over Howard's crossbar.

Michael Essien tried to go one better than Lampard in the 19th minute but his effort was well off target.

Chelsea were now dominating the match but Everton still had their moments.


In the 22nd minute Steven Pienaar tried to curl a 25-yard shot into the top corner but unfortunately his accuracy left him down and the ball went the wrong side of Cech's left-hand upright.

Cech then had to back-pedal frantically to ensure that a long-range free-kick from Leighton Baines did not creep in underneath the crossbar.

But Everton's spell of pressure was when Joseph Yobo had to incept a Lampard pass to keep out the lurking Drogba.

Chelsea continued to press for an opening goal but Everton's defence remained resolute.

Indeed, the Toffees almost opened the scoring themselves in the 33rd minute when Jo broke down the left-flank and crossed low for Cahill.

The Australian midfielder turned cleverly before drilling a low shot towards the bottom corner of the net.

But for the third time in the match, Chelsea goalkeeper Cech pulled off a superb save to deny Everton the lead.

Cech's performance was outstanding and in complete contrast with his recent displays.


The Czech Republic international had been suffering something of a confidence crisis after conceding eight goals in Chelsea's previous three fixtures.

But he kept Chelsea in this match in the first half to silence the critics who had criticised his nervy performances of late.

A lightning counter-attack from Chelsea in the 42nd minute almost brought reward for the home side.

Nicolas Anelka led the charge as he burst down the right flank but with Florent Malouda completely unmarked in the penalty area, the France international's cross was easily intercepted by Howard.

Two minutes before the break Cech raced out of his goal to beat Leighton Baines to the ball as Everton threatened to open-up the home side once more.

Cech rescued Chelsea again two minutes after the interval when a cross from Leon Osman was met by the head of Cahill.

The Everton midfielder's glancing effort was well held by Cech who was looking unbeatable in the home goal.

The Toffees continued to press forward but Pienaar was again off target when he tried his luck from 25-yards.

Chelsea managed to wrestle back the initiative from the visitors but despite some intricate approach play, there was little invention in their attack.


The best they could muster was a clever flick from Drogba that set Anelka racing into the penalty area but his shot flew across the six-yard box without troubling Howard.

A minute later John Terry almost broke the deadlock for the home side when he let fly from fully 30 yards only for Howard to leap spectacularly to his left to deny the captain an opening goal.

Salomon Kalou then squandered a clear opportunity when he fired high over the bar from a corner by Malouda.

Jo wasted a chance to pinch the points for Everton when he fired high and wide from 18-yards in the 73rd minute.

Chelsea's Kalou did likewise at the opposite end when he headed a cross from Malouda over the bar from six yards.

Everton goalkeeper Howard then saved superbly to deny Kalou in the 79th minute after Lampard's corner found him unmarked.

Pienaar and Cahill both wasted late chances for Everton while Drogba hit the crossbar with a volley in injury time - a miss that almost certainly ended Chelsea's interest in the title race.

(From Website : http://www.premierleague.com/page/MatchReports/0,,12306~45138,00.html)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Davydenko Dismisses Clement Challenge

ATP World Tour No. 8 Nikolay Davydenko dismissed the challenge of France’s Arnaud Clement 7-6(2), 6-2 on Wednesday to secure his place in the third round of the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell, an ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament.

The third-seeded Davydenko saved five break points in a tight first set before clinching a one-set lead by winning the tie-break 7-2. The Russian then stepped up a gear in the second set and converted two of six break points to wrap up victory and improve to a 4-0 career lead over Clement in one hour and 56 minutes.

The 27-year-old Davydenko made his comeback from a foot injury by reaching the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters quarter-finals (l. to Murray) last week and is looking to build on his comeback at a venue where he has enjoyed success on previous visits. The right-hander reached the semi-finals (l. to Ferrero) at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona in 2005 and advanced to the quarter-finals in 2003 (l. to Moya) and 2007 (W/O vs. Canas).

Czech No. 15 seed Tomas Berdych was tested by Spain’s Oscar Hernandez before prevailing 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the third round in Barcelona for the first time in three visits. The 28th-ranked Monte-Carlo resident improved to 9-8 on the season, highlighted by fourth-round showings at the Australian Open (l. to Federer in five sets) and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami (l. to Djokovic).

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS/NEWSARTICLE_3302.ASP)

Ferrer, Andreev Advance To Third Round; Former Champion Gaudio Wins Opener

No. 4 seed and last year's runner-up David Ferrer reached the third round of the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell, an ATP World Tour 500 clay-court tennis tournament, with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Kazakhstan qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin on Tuesday.

Ferrer, who notched his 20th match win of the season (20-8), converted four of seven break points and saved six of eight on his serve. The 27-year-old Valencia resident also improved to 11-6 in Barcelona.

No. 12 seed Igor Andreev (pictured) made short work of his second-round clash with Alberto Martin, dismissing the Spanish wild card 6-2, 6-2 in just 62 minutes.

Andreev saved the one break point he faced on serve while converting four of seven break point opportunities on Martin’s serve. The Muscovite dropped just eight points on serve throughout the match and won nearly half (48 per cent) of points on Martin’s serve in the pair’s third meeting (Andreev leads 3-0).

Argentine wild card Gaston Gaudio fought back from a break down in the final set to oust compatriot Diego Junqueira 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Gaudio captured the title at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona in 2002 (d. Costa) and reached the final in 2004 (l. to Robredo in five sets). He has a 19-6 career record in Barcelona.

Tuesday’s victory marked World No. 966 Gaudio’s first tour-level win since May 2007, when he defeated Marc Gicquel to reach the Roland Garros second round (l. to Hewitt in five sets). The 30-year-old Buenos Aires native recorded his greatest achievement in 2004, when he defeated Guillermo Coria 8-6 in the fifth set to win his lone Grand Slam championship at Roland Garros. He reached a career-high No. 5 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings the following year on 25 April.

No. 9 seed Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic also won his 20th match of the year (20-7) as he edged out Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and five minutes. Stepanek saved 11 of 13 break points while converting two of nine break point chances.

No. 11 seed and wild card entry Marat Safin, who won the title in 2000, fell to Juan Monaco 6-4, 6-1 in the first round. The 29-year-old Russian slipped to 6-7 on the season.

No. 13 seed Richard Gasquet made a successful season clay court debut with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic. He will next meet Belgian Christophe Rochus on Wednesday.

Top Swede and No. 14 seed Robin Soderling needed only 61 minutes to beat Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-1, 6-4. Soderling converted four of eight break points and only lost his serve once.

Madrid native and No. 16 seed Feliciano Lopez defeated Jarkko Nieminen for the first time in six ATP World Tour meetings as he ousted the Finn 6-2, 6-1 in 52 minutes. Lopez evened his Barcelona mark to 9-9 and he will next face countryman Santiago Ventura in the second round.

Two other Spaniards reached the second round as Oscar Hernandez ousted Eduardo Schwank 6-2, 6-4, and qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver defeated Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-3.

In a clash of two former Top 10 players, France’s Arnaud Clement dismissed 2007 finalist Guillermo Canas 7-6(0), 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with third-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko – who received a bye through the first round.

Russian Mikhail Youzhny rallied past Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-3, in two hours and 44 minutes. He will next face No. 8 seed and last week's Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters semi-finalist Stanislas Wawrinka.

Qualifier Nicolas Lapentti, the oldest player in the draw at 32, eliminated Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, to even his match record at 7-7 on the season. Lapentti will take on No. 2 seed Fernando Verdasco.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS/NEWSARTICLE_3291.ASP)

Verizon Heritage all about making a living for professional golfers

Boo Weekley won at Hilton Head in 2007 and again in '08, and coming into last week's Verizon Heritage, all through South Carolina there were old men at sleepy filling stations talking about a threepeat. With chew under his lip and duck hunting on his mind, Boo's an easy fit in the Low Country. He has looked right at home, parading around in his rumpled khakis and that old-school Phi Beta Haggis tartan sport coat they give the Heritage winner.

But by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Boo was putting his clubs in the back of a van packed with a couple dozen other Tour bags that soon would be rolling through the night to New Orleans. He knew the truth, and so did everybody else: His reign was over, and a new guy, 37-year-old Brian Gay, would be slipping into the tartan coat soon enough. BG had a 10-shot lead on a slippery and mossy course with itty-bitty greens. Not one of the veteran brand-name golfers behind him could make anything like a move — your Lee Janzens, your Davis Love IIIs, etc. — and in the end Gay won by 10. No mercy rule on the PGA Tour.

It was strange. Big wins usually come on big courses: Tiger by 12 at Augusta in '97; Tiger by 15 at Pebble Beach in the 2000 U.S. Open. The par-71 Harbour Town Golf Links is not even 7,000 yards when it's all stretched out. Ten is the biggest win margin ever at the Heritage. Gay now has the tournament scoring record, 20 under par. Very nice. His winning score, 264, should be drug-tested. The third-round leader closed with a 64, low man by two shots. Pow!

Poor CBS. After a spine-tingling Sunday at Augusta — Tiger! Phil! Angel! Chad! Kenny! — Sunday at Hilton Head had Jim Nantz & Co. resorting to pictures of luffing windsurfers and a group effort to describe Brian Gay's bold look (pants the color of an unripe banana; a shirt he stole from George Jetson). Gay himself described his getup as "fashion forward." To which he sensibly added, "if you will."

Janzen, winner of two U.S. Opens, didn't scare him. Neither did Jose Maria Olazabal, winner of two green jackets. Nor Todd Hamilton, winner of a British Open. Nor Tom Lehman, who turned 50 last month, another claret jug winner. Ditto for DL3, winner of a PGA Championship — and five tartan coats. Whatever happened to the phrase, "The Verizon Heritage doesn't begin until the back nine on Sunday"? Nothing doing, not this year.

But in other ways tradition reigned at the Heritage. The Hilton Head stop is the spring break of golf tournaments. After two years of the Boo Weekley Show the crowd didn't quite know what to make of the new guy, with his spiky hair and gargantuan lead, his mechanical-looking setup and his unresponsive demeanor. Among the spectators, or at least in one crowd of overdaiquiried collegians in flip-flops and polo shirts, you could hear witty comments like, "Brian's gay." You can be sure that Brian Gay's been hearing that all his life. Evidently they knew nothing of Kimberly Gay, a north Florida gal who seemingly walked off the set of Dallas, circa 1989, and onto the PGA Tour. You'd want her at your party, unless you like dead parties.

Anyway, his last name brings to mind the Johnny Cash song A Boy Named Sue and these immortal lyrics: "But ya oughtta thank me before I die/For the gravel in yer guts and the spit in yer eye/'Cause I'm the son of a bitch that named you Sue."

It so happens that Brian Gay comes by his surname the usual Western way, inherited from his father, M. Sgt. Joseph Gay, U.S. Army (ret.). There is, fittingly, no retreat in Brian Gay's career. This is a man who toiled for seven years in professional golf before cracking the PGA Tour's top 125, a man who played in 292 Tour events until winning for the first time, last year in Cancun. To keep at it takes guts. Of course a lack of other options helps too.

That doesn't apply only to Gay. It pretty much goes for any of the golfers. There's nothing like a tanking economy to get a player back on the range and back on his game. Todd Hamilton had a solid Masters this year, coming in 15th. He was solid at Hilton Head, finishing in a tie for fourth. Some of golf's ever-growing population of talking heads have been hyperfocused on how much Hamilton, at 43, wants to, quote, get back in the winner's circle, unquote. That's all well and good, and every Tour player wants to win, but there's something else dear to every man, woman and child who has his or her name sewn on the side of a supersized golf bag. It's simple: Hamilton, in the final year of a five-year exemption for winning the 2004 British Open, made $131,000 at Augusta; he made $251,000 at Hilton Head. What else on God's green earth is he going to do to earn that kind of money?

(From Website : http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1892738,00.html)

Benitez: United in driving seat

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez says Manchester United are in the "driving seat" for the league title.

Benitez concedes it will be difficult to end the campaign above United after Tuesday night's 4-4 draw at home to Arsenal moved the Reds top.

But he believes there are still plenty of twists left in the championship race, despite United only being behind Liverpool on goal difference with two matches in hand - the first at home to Portsmouth on Wednesday.

keep pushing

"United are in the driving seat and we will see what happens," he said. "If they win it will be more difficult but they have to win and they also have to play against Arsenal so we will see.

"We have a point against a good team and we are top. We have to keep pushing until the last game. It's football, you never know."

Benitez was left to rue a number of uncharacteristic defensive errors which cost his side victory.

"It is really disappointing because we conceded four goals and normally we were not conceding these kind of goals," said the Liverpool manager.

"We made massive mistakes. It is difficult to explain because it was different players in different stages of the game. You don't remember any save from Pepe (Reina), it is just four chances and four goals and all of them have been our mistakes.

"The positive thing is we have scored four goals against Arsenal and the team was fighting and working hard. We know this has to be the way until the end of the season."

(From Website : http://www.premierleague.com/page/Headlines/0,,12306~1635391,00.html)

Arsenal 4-4 Liverpool

Four goals from Andrey Arshavin put a huge dent in Liverpool's Barclays Premier League title hopes as Arsenal drew 4-4 at Anfield.

The hosts went ahead of Manchester United on goal difference having come from behind three times, starting with Arshavin's first in the 36th minute.

Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun scored soon after the interval but three further goals from the Russian Gunner piled the pressure back on Rafael Benitez's side and even a second from Torres and an injury-time equaliser from Benayoun were not enough to force victory.

The result hands a huge advantage to United, who have two matches in hand with the first at home to Portsmouth.

Liverpool were architects of their own downfall as the first three Arsenal goals came from mistakes.

It was almost a carbon copy of their Champions League exit against Chelsea a week ago when a 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge saw them miss out on the semi-finals.

It was also not the first time Arsenal had done serious damage to a Liverpool title challenge, it being 20 years since Michael Thomas scored on this ground with the last kick of the season to deny the Reds the championship.

Torres and Albert Riera should have done better with their early efforts to test the fragile confidence of Lucasz Fabianski but both fired straight at the goalkeeper.

Javier Mascherano fired wide after 15 minutes as Arsenal were content to soak up what Liverpool had to offer and swiftly counter-attack when the chance arose.

Those occasions were few and far between and Fabianski, who had looked shaky on a couple of occasions, had to be at his best to tip over Torres' shot from the right angle of the penalty area.

diving save

Referee Howard Webb waved away Liverpool appeals in the 26th minute when Mikael Silvestre appeared to catch Dirk Kuyt on the edge of the area.

Arsenal's first chance came when they broke quickly from a Liverpool corner and Cesc Fabregas volleyed wide after Daniel Agger, making his 50th league appearance, had got in Jose Reina's way as he tried to punch clear.

A smart turn by Torres on Kolo Toure saw the Spain striker fire in a 25-yard shot which Fabianski could only parry but Silvestre cleared the danger.

Samir Nasri then had to clear off the line at the far post after Agger flicked on Xabi Alonso's right-wing corner before the Gunners hit their hosts with a sucker punch in the 36th minute.

Mascherano lost the ball on the edge of the penalty area and Fabregas exchanged passes with Nasri before crossing for Arshavin to fire home off the underside of the crossbar.

Benayoun immediately brought a diving save from Fabianski and then headed over as Liverpool piled on the pressure leading up to the interval without reward.

Liverpool realistically had 45 minutes to keep their season alive and that realisation brought the equaliser within four minutes of the restart.

Alvaro Arbeloa's cross was poorly dealt with by Bacary Sagna and Kuyt collected the ball, got to the byline and crossed for Torres to head low into the left corner of Fabianski's goal.

level again

Seven minutes later they were ahead. Fabianski and Kieren Gibbs both misjudged their clearances and Kuyt crossed to the far post where Benayoun headed in.

The goalkeeper claimed to have clawed the ball out but it was clearly over the line.

In the 65th minute Arsene Wenger brought on Theo Walcott for Denilson to try to get back in the game but it was another mistake which brought their equaliser.

Arbeloa could not control Jamie Carragher's downward defensive header and Arshavin nipped in to fire past Reina's outstretched left hand.

Incredibly for a team which had conceded just eight goals in 16 home league matches a third error handed Arsenal the lead again.

Fabio Aurelio played a left-wing cross straight to Arshavin 10 yards out and he drilled a shot under Reina for his hat-trick in the 70th minute.

Amazingly Liverpool were level again two minutes later when Torres controlled Riera's cross, turned Silvestre and fired past Fabianski.

Torres had a header cleared off the line by Gibbs from Alonso's corner with nine minutes to go and Carragher fired over from Aurelio's cross as Liverpool desperately pushed for the winner.

And that cost them as Walcott broke from a corner and played in Arshavin to score his fourth in injury time.

Benayoun bundled home an equaliser even later on but it was too late to force a victory.

(From Website : http://www.premierleague.com/page/MatchReports/0,,12306~45139,00.html)

Monday, April 20, 2009

China race analysis - Red Bull find their wings at last

With Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button fourth and fifth on the grid, both with heavily fuelled cars, Brawn had looked set for another victory in Shangai. That was until the dark clouds arrived, changing the whole complexion of the Chinese Grand Prix before it had even started.

Brawn - nor anyone else - had any answer to the sheer class of Sebastien Vettel and the Red Bull. In the atrocious conditions Adrian Newey’s latest creation - boasting only a single diffuser - was unstoppable. With a revised diffuser on the way, the RB5 must now be considered a serious title contender…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P2

The sheer class of the Red Bull RB5 was more and more apparent as the race developed, and it became clear that in the wet it generated the right sort of tyre temperatures to keep Vettel and Webber happy. The German certainly benefited from the safety car start, without which the outcome might have been closer, but Webber provided much of the entertainment in his fight with Button. Vettel’s only major problem was an inadvertent attack by Buemi, who got caught out under the second safety car when Vettel slowed for a white car he believed to be Barrichello, which turned out to be the damaged Trulli. It’s been a long road for Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz since he came into F1 with Sauber and then bought Jaguar Racing, and his one-two victory was richly deserved.

Jenson Button, P3
Rubens Barrichello, P4

For a while Brawn looked good for a third consecutive victory, especially as the Red Bulls were running on a short fuel strategy. But it soon became clear that the BGP001’s dry road advantage of being kind to its tyres was a serious handicap when it came to generating decent temperatures in the wet. Both Button and Barrichello struggled like mad, but third and fourth places kept them at the head of both championships.

Heikki Kovalainen, P5
Lewis Hamilton, P6

Kovalainen was McLaren’s lead driver, and his fifth place finish was well deserved after a canny single-stop strategy and some peerless driving enabled him to make significant progress. Hamilton was fantastic in the early stages and he climbed as high as fourth, but his push-on style took its toll on his tyres. Subsequently he admitted to making too many mistakes, but his was a typically determined run that netted sixth, helping to give McLaren seven valuable points.

Timo Glock, P7
Jarno Trulli, Retired lap 18, accident with Kubica

A bump with Heidfeld on lap 13 delayed Glock, but despite a few off-course moments the German charged his way up to seventh place in the closing stages to add to Toyota’s constructors’ championship score. Trulli fell back quickly after the start, and was taken out when Kubica aquaplaned heavily into the back of his TF109 on lap 18.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P8
Sebastien Bourdais, P11

Buemi drove another excellent race and stayed cool under heavy pressure from the likes of Alonso. He also passed Raikkonen and Hamilton! He was also lucky to get away with his heavy shunt into Vettel when they came across a slowing Trulli while running under the safety car. Thankfully the Toro Rosso is a strong car and so is the Red Bull. All he needed was a new front wing on the STR4. Bourdais had a couple of spins which prevented him from finishing better than 11th.

Fernando Alonso, P9
Nelson Piquet, P16

As expected, Alonso was the first to refuel, on lap seven before the safety car had even come in! That dropped the Spaniard to the back of the field and he spent the afternoon trying to recover ground. His pressure on Buemi paid off and he was in contention for minor points when he spun late in the race and had to be content with ninth. Piquet had a terrible afternoon, two big spins each requiring a new nose. He finished an unhappy 16th.

Kimi Raikkonen, P10
Felipe Massa, Retired on lap 21, electrical

Ferrari went home without any points for the third race in succession, but they were unlucky this time. Massa drove really hard in the opening stages and had climbed to a promising third place by the 21st lap when his F60 simply ground to a halt with an electronic failure. Raikkonen fared a little worse in the initial going but was fourth by the time of his first stop on lap 27. Unfortunately that dropped him down the field, and he was never able to recover to better than 10th.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, P12
Robert Kubica, P13

Heidfeld made a good start but soon ran wide on the lake in Turn 16 and lost places. Then he had a collision with Glock in Turn 14 on lap 13 which damaged his car. Later still, he was hit by one of Sutil’s wheels when the Force India driver crashed on lap 51 and lost four places in rapid succession. Kubica had that shunt with Trulli on lap 18, and later had to stop for another front wing when the replacement worked loose and lost him downforce. Altogether, a day to forget for BMW Sauber.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, P14
Adrian Sutil, P17, Retired lap 51, accident damage

Fisichella was Vijay Mallya’s sole finisher in 14th after numerous excursions as his Bridgestones grained. Sutil gambled on an early fuel stop on lap four and another on 19 and had worked ahead of Hamilton for sixth within sight of the finish before losing it on lap 51 and crashing heavily enough to remove both front wheels.

Nico Rosberg, P15
Kazuki Nakajima, Retired lap 44, transmission

Yet again, Williams showed great potential and came away with zero. Rosberg complained of water drops on his visor which made visibility even more difficult in the tricky conditions. With 15 laps to go he desperately tried intermediates, but that gamble was negated when it began to rain again. Nakajima’s afternoon of spinning or running off-course was brought to an end by transmission problems.

(From Website : http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2009/4/9214.html)

Andreev, Tipsarevic Up And Running In Barcelona

Russian No. 12 seed Igor Andreev won his first match in four attempts at the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell by edging past Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to reach the second round of the ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament on Monday.

World No. 26 Andreev had made first-round exits in each of previous three visits to Barcelona in 2004 (l. to M. Lopez), 2005 (l. to Monaco) and 2006 (l. to Gabashvili). The Muscovite fired nine aces in Monday’s clash and converted five of eight break points to clinch victory in two hours and 10 minutes.

The 25 year old bounced back from the first-round loss he suffered at last week’s Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters to improve to 12-11 on the season. He best result in 2009 came on clay at Casablanca, where he reached the semi-finals (l. to Ferrero).

Serbian Janko Tipsarevic (pictured) advanced to a potential second-round clash with No. 9 seed Radek Stepanek after disappointing Barcelona resident Albert Montanes with a 6-4, 7-6(1) victory. Meanwhile, Belgium’s Christophe Rochus knocked out Nicolas Devilder 6-4, 6-4 to set up a possible second-round meeting with No. 13 seed Richard Gasquet.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS/NEWSARTICLE_3284.ASP)

Nadal Wins Record Fifth Straight Monte-Carlo Crown

Reigning ATP World Tour Champion Rafael Nadal captured his fifth straight Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title on Sunday with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 victory over third seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia in two hours and 44 minutes to extend his winning streak to 27 matches at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament.

The top-seeded Spaniard won his third ATP World Tour title of the 2009 ATP World Tour season and is the first player to win an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament five consecutive years and at 22 years of age he joins Roger Federer with 14 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, second only to Andre Agassi’s record haul of 17.

Nadal is also the first ATP World Tour No. 1 to win the Monte-Carlo title since Ivan Lendl in 1988 (d. Jaite) and received €434,000 in prize money and 1000 South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings points for his fifth straight triumph.

“[It is] always really important for me start the clay season like this, for the confidence,” explained Nadal. “[To] win another time here is more than a dream for me. [It] is unbelievable, a fifth title here in Monte Carlo. I never expect something like this.

“[It] is one of the most important tournaments in the world. [It] is a really historic tournament. [The] best players of the history [played] here. [It was] a dream when I came to Monte Carlo in 2003.”

Nadal, who was appearing in his 43rd ATP World Tour level final, has now won 34 trophies putting him alongside Michael Chang in a tie for No. 15 place on the Open Era title list. He is now 23-1 lifetime in clay-court finals, with his only loss coming at Hamburg in May 2007 to Swiss Roger Federer.

He has also won 43 straight matches on clay in the month of April since 8 April 2005.

In an eagerly-awaited encounter, the 16th between the ATP World Tour No. 1 and No. 3-ranked players, Djokovic made three groundstroke errors in the first game that Nadal took advantage of by gaining a service break with a cross-court backhand winner on approach to the net.

Djokovic responded by rushing Nadal into two forehand and one backhand error to get back on level terms at 1-1. Appearing in his eighth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final, Djokovic secured the first service hold of the match with a smash winner and well-placed ace down the middle for the third game.

Nadal fought off one break point at 1-2, 30-40 as Djokovic hit a crosscourt forehand into the net off a short rally, but could not conjure up a suitable response to a Djokovic drop shot on the Serbian’s second break point opportunity.

Nadal then reeled off five straight games with service breaks in the fifth, seventh and ninth games to take the opening set in 63 minutes. Djokovic received treatment for a lower back injury after saving four of five break points in the seventh game.

Djokovic highlighted just why he is returning to top form by resisting a barrage of powerful groundstrokes from Nadal in the first game of the second set to secure a service break after a lengthy rally ended with a smash winner from Djokovic.

The 21-year-old Serbian went on to extend his lead to 4-1 courtesy of a second service break with a backhand volley winner on approach to the net. Nadal kept battling hard but conceded his first set since his 2006 final win against Federer, when Djokovic hit two consecutive aces to wrap up the 42-minute second set.

In a key first game of the third set, Nadal first recovered from a 0-30 deficit and then saved three break points – completing a 16-minute opening game with a forehand crosscourt winner.

Djokovic opened up a 40-15 lead on serve in the second game, but saw that cut back by a forehand hit long and a double fault. Two further game points came and went before Nadal claimed a 2-0 lead when a Djokovic forehand hit the net tape and landed wide. Djokovic immediately hit a tennis ball out of the Monte-Carlo Country Club grounds, as a result he received a code violation from the chair umpire.

The World No. 3 regained his composure and won the third game after Nadal hit two groundstrokes out on successive points. After 41 minutes of play in the third set Nadal flexed his muscles and won four straight games – dropping just three points – to wrap up victory in two hours and 44 minutes.

“[Novak] is a very good player,” said Nadal. “On clay, too, he has very good results. I think top three or top four on clay. [Whenever you] play against him [it] is tough. And today wasn't an exception.”

Nadal is now just one Monte-Carlo title away from equalling England’s Reggie Doherty’s six titles (1897-99, 1902-04) at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, won at the dawn of the 103-year-old championship. The Spaniard has a 29-1 career record at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament, with his only loss coming in 2003 to Guillermo Coria.

The Mallorcan, who has ranked No. 1 since 18 August 2008, improved to 29-3 on the 2009 ATP World Tour season with other championship successes coming at the Australian Open (d. Federer) in January and at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (d. Murray) in March.

Djokovic was appearing in his first Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final, having retired due to dizziness in the second set of his 2008 semi-final against Federer. The Monte-Carlo resident has an 8-4 tournament record. He was awarded €203,000 as runner-up and received 600 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking points.

“I think I've played a very good match, actually one of the best I have played against him on this surface,” said Djokovic.

“It's really unfortunate that in certain moments I didn't play the way I was supposed to play, with a little bit more patience. I went for too much. He used his strength and his experience playing in the big matches and just waited wisely for his chances, then he used them.”

Djokovic dropped to 26-9 on the 2009 ATP World Tour season after he appeared in his 20th ATP World Tour final (12-8). This year he won his 12th ATP World Tour title at Dubai (d. Ferrer) and also finished runner-up at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami (l. to Murray).

“We are coming back again to the story of believing in yourself,” said Djokovic of believing he could beat Nadal. “I think there is where the key of playing him. You just have to be focused every single point because you have a player on the other side of the net that doesn't really give you any points.

“I mean, you could see him [at] 5-1 in the third set, he played like it’s 5-all. He really doesn't care about the result. He just wants to give his best every single point. That's why he's very unique and that's why he's the best now.”

His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco attended the 103rd edition of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, which had a record attendance of 123,000 spectators during the week.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/TENNIS/1/EN/NEWS/NEWSARTICLE_3276.ASP)

FT Everton win 4-2 on penalties

Everton win 4-2 on penalties

The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON
The Semi-Final
4pm, Sunday 19 April 2009
Winning clubs will receive £1,000,000 from The FA
Losing clubs will receive £500,000 from The FA

Live on ITV1

Phil Jagielka finds the corner of the net to send Everton into their first FA Cup Final for 14 years. The Blues win 4-2 on penalties.

MANCHESTER UNITED PENALTY 4 - Anderson scores for United. 3-2.

EVERTON PENALTY 4 - Vaughan puts Everton 3-1 up.

MANCHESTER UNITED PENALTY 3 - Vidic follows suit, sending Howard the wrong way. 2-1 Everton.

EVERTON PENALTY 3 - Former United man, Phil Neville puts Everton 2-0 up sending Foster the wrong way.

MANCHESTER UNITED PENALTY 2 - Ferdinand has his penalty saved by Howard. It's advantage Everton now.

EVERTON PENALTY 2 - Baines calmly puts his penalty into the roof of the net. 1-0 Everton.

MANCHESTER UNITED PENALTY 1 - Berbatov fails to capitalise as his penalty is saved by Howard's feet.

EVERTON PENALTY 1 - It's advantage United as Cahill blazes his penalty over the bar.

ET 30 mins - This Semi-Final will now be decided by penalty kicks after neither team scored in 120 minutes of play. United's Ben Foster will be hoping to reproduce his Wembley penalty heroics from the League Cup Final in March, against Tottenham.

ET 29 mins - After his clearance is blocked by Osman, Foster is penalised for a foul on Baines, but the free-kick comes to nothing.

ET 26 mins - A looping shot from Gibson is deflected for a corner, despite Howard's best attempts to keep the ball in play.

ET 20 mins - Cahill is booked for dissent following a foul on Vidic.

ET 17 mins - Arguably the best chance of the match falls to Everton substitute, Vaughan. Good work from Baines on the left allows him to pull the ball back to Vaughan in space, but his left foot shot is turned away for a corner by Vidic.

ET 16 mins - Berbatov and Tevez get the final 15 minutes up and running.

ET 15 mins - Howard holds on to a shot from Tevez before Riley brings the first half of extra-time to an end.

ET 13 mins - James Vaughan is brought on for Fellaini. It is Vaughan's first game back for Everton following a long-term injury.

ET 10 mins - Berbatov pulls the ball back to Welbeck, but Welbeck misses his kick and Everton can clear. Tevez has a long range shot which flies over the frame of the goal.

ET 6 mins - Cahill evades Ferdinand on the Everton left and finds Fellaini inside the 18-yard box but his shot is blocked by Nemanja Vidic.

ET 3 mins - Cahill has a shot saved by the legs of Foster.

ET 2 mins - Scholes is booked for a trip on Pienaar.

ET 1 min - Extra-time is underway. If neither side scores in the next half-an-hour, we will have penalties here at Wembley.

Extra-time - Dimitar Berbatov replaces Macheda in the United frontline.

90+3 mins - The full-time whistle is blown and there are to be an extra 30 minutes in this Semi-Final encounter.

89 mins - The fourth official indicates a minimum of three minutes added time.

84 mins - Fellaini is booked for an aerial challenge on Ferdinand.

83 mins - Welbeck cuts inside Hibbert and tries to bend the ball into the far corner, but it has got too much height on it and curls narrowly over.

79 mins - As we enter the last ten minutes, United are beginning to enjoy the majority of possession. A scramble inside the Everton box. involving Welbeck and Macheda, results in the latter requiring treatment after a collision with Tony Hibbert. The Everton right-back also needs attention, but both players are ok to continue.

75 mins - Tevez has a shot blocked by Lescott moments before Anderson shrugs off the challenge of Rodwell and unleashes a right foot shot which hits the side netting.

70 mins - Saha receives applause from all around the stadium as he is substituted for Everton youngster, Jack Rodwell.

68 mins - Riley dismisses United claims for a penalty after Phil Jagielka appears to bring down Welbeck inside the box.

66 mins - Gibson troubles Howard with a long-range effort, but the American stopper parries the ball away for a corner. Park is replaced by Paul Scholes.

63 mins - Tevez and Anderson create an opportunity for Ji-Sung Park, but the South Korean drags his effort narrowly wide of the post. Patrice Evra comes on for United, replacing Fabio Da Silva at left-back.

57 mins - With little action happening on the pitch, both sets of fans really turn up the volume at Wembley.

54 mins - Tim Cahill tries his luck from distance and forces Foster into a decent save, diving down to his right to parry the ball to safety.

50 mins - Neither side has seized the initiative in this second period, with some wayward passing and lack of chances typifying the first five minutes.

46 mins - Tevez and Macheda get the second half underway. There are no changes from either side at half-time.

45+1 - Riley blows his whistle for half-time and it remains goalless between Manchester United and Everton at Wembley Stadium.

45 mins - There is to be one added minute before half-time.

40 mins - With half-time approaching, Welbeck, Macheda and Tevez combine to present a chance for the England Under-21 international, but he slices his effort wide of the target.

38 mins - Saha's cross-cum-shot is blocked by young Irish midfielder Darron Gibson.

37 mins - Everton appeals for a penalty are dismissed after a coming together between Rafael Da Silva and Pienaar.

34 mins - Tevez is the second United player to have his name taken by Mike Riley after fouling Pienaar on the halfway line.

27 mins - Rafael Da Silva receives the first caution of the afternoon after bringing down Leighton Baines on the edge of the United box. Pienaar's subsequent free-kick is cleared for a corner by Anderson.

23 mins - A near post cross from Rafael Da Silva is directed goalwards by Welbeck, but Joleon Lescott blocks it behind for a corner.

21 mins - Foster ponders on a back pass from Rio Ferdinand, presenting an opportunity for Louis Saha, but the young goalkeeper atones for his error and blocks Saha's attempt at goal.

13 mins - Good work from Danny Welbeck allows him to feed Carlos Tevez on the edge of the Everton area. A poor first touch takes him marginly too wide and, tracking back, Steven Pienaar helps to avert the danger.

11 mins - Fellaini plays a through ball which finds Toffees' skipper, Phil Neville venturing forward. Advancing into the box, Neville is put under pressure by Fabio Da Silva and the former Red shoots over.

4 mins - United youngster, Federico Macheda attempts to add to his recent tally of goals with a shot from 20 yards out, but it fails to trouble former United 'keeper, Tim Howard.

1 min - Leon Osman registers the first half-chance of the afternoon, latching on to Marouane Fellaini's knock-down. His effort from the edge of the area bends just wide of Ben Foster's goal.

Kick-off Everton get this season's second FA Cup Semi-Final underway at a noisy Wembley Stadium. Chelsea await the winners in The Final on Saturday 30 May.

The Teams
Manchester United
12 Ben Foster, 5 Rio Ferdinand (c), 8 Anderson, 13 Ji-Sung Park (18 Paul Scholes, 66), 15 Nemanja Vidic, 19 Danny Welbeck, 20 Fabio Da Silva (3 Patrice Evra, 63), 21 Rafael Da Silva, 28 Darron Gibson, 32 Carlos Tevez, 41 Federico Macheda (9 Dimitar Berbatov, 91)
Subs 2 Gary Neville, 17 Nani, 23 Jonny Evans, 29 Tomasz Kuszczak

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson

24 Tim Howard, 2 Tony Hibbert, 3 Leighton Baines, 5 Joleon Lescott, 6 Phil Jagielka, 9 Louis Saha (26 Jack Rodwell, 70), 17 Tim Cahill, 18 Phil Neville (c), 20 Steven Pienaar, 21 Leon Osman, 25 Marouane Fellaini (14 James Vaughan, 103)
Subs 1 Carlo Nash, 4 Joseph Yobo, 8 Segundo Castillo, 15 Lars Jacobsen, 32 Dan Gosling

Manager David Moyes

Kit Colours
Manchester United
Red shirts, white shorts, black socks
Everton Blue shirts, blue shorts, blue socks

Referee Mike Riley
Assistant Referees Peter J Kirkup & Shaun R M Procter-Green
Fourth Official Alan G Wiley

Attendance 88,141

The Official Match Programme
On sale here at Wembley or Buy Online here

Exclusive interviews with Sir Alex Ferguson • David Moyes • Michael Carrick • Phil Neville • Wayne Rooney • Jack Rodwell, plus Edwin van der Sar and Phil Jagielka introduce their team-mates.

Also The Road to Wembley • Semi-Final Classics and Kids Section

(From Website : http://www.thefa.com/TheFACup/FACompetitions/TheFACup/NewsAndFeatures/2009/FACSF_ManUvEverton_minbymin.aspx)