Federer Books Date With Wawrinka In Cincinnati : All Blacks Defeat Wallabies In Championship Opener : Arsenal Agree To sell Song To Barcelona : Wenger Admits United Are Stronger : aforadio.com
Posted in Sports on 19. Aug, 2012
Federer Books Date With Wawrinka In Cincinnati
Federer showed glimpses of the form that has seen him reclaim the world number one ranking in a 6-3 7-6(4) win over Fish, who was the last American standing at the tournament in Mason, Ohio.
Four-times Cincinnati winner Federer broke in the first and final game of the first set, looking in good shape against Fish, a hard court specialist who finished runner-up to the Swiss in the 2010 final.
Fish stuck at his task in the second set but the world number one turned it up a notch in the tie-break which he won to four.
“I’m very pleased that I was able to play at a high level and keep there throughout the match,” said Federer.
Earlier, Federer’s Davis Cup team-mate Wawrinka came from behind to down Milos Raonic 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4.
Reaching the last four at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre looked a remote possibility for Wawrinka after his Canadian opponent romped through the first set in clinical fashion. Raonic’s game, built on a vicious serve and a booming forehand, was simple but effective.
He was bidding to become Canada’s first semi-finalist at a Masters tournament or its equivalent level since 1969, and without offering up a break point during the second set, looked the favourite to close out the tie-break.
But an impressive resurgence from Wawrinka turned a 4-2 deficit into a 7-5 win, and with it the match turned on its head.
Raonic, who also had a run in Toronto the previous week, seemed to tire, and errors crept into his game. Wawrinka saw 17 aces flash by him, but when his one and only break point opportunity came up in game three of the decider, he took it, and served out from there.
“I’m playing great tennis after two tough months. I lost in the first round at Wimbledon, Gastaad and the Olympics and it wasn’t easy, but I am glad to be back on the hard court,” Wawrinka said.
All Blacks Defeat Wallabies In Championship Opener
The World Cup holders raced into an 18-3 lead in the opening game of the newly expanded tournament, which now includes Argentina, through tries by Israel Dagg and Cory Jane before veteran lock Nathan Sharpe crossed just before halftime for the Wallabies’ only try.
Berrick Barnes’ kicking hauled Australia to within five points to leave New Zealand facing an uncomfortable final few minutes but Dan Carter’s fifth successful penalty ensured that the All Blacks take pole position ahead of next weekend’s return fixture in Auckland.
Defending southern hemisphere champions Australia troubled their trans-Tasman rivals when they had the ball in hand but a raft of missed tackles and a couple of knock-ons at key moments effectively handed the win to the All Blacks.
“You could say its rustiness, who knows,” Barnes said. “We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and rectify it. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
Carter kicked 17 points but the biggest difference between the sides in a stop-start match at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium was the speed of the ball won by the New Zealand forwards – and the mistakes made by the Wallabies as the black shirts came at them.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen blamed the mistakes and 28 penalties in the match on the short turnaround for players following the conclusion of the Super 15.
“It’s probably not the most perfect game in the world but when you get two sides coming off the breaks we’ve had, playing at the intensity we’re playing, there’s going to be errors,” Hansen said.
The visitors’ solid scrum laid the platform for their first-half tries and only the regular whistling of referee Alain Rolland kept the Wallabies from being even more comprehensively dominated at the set piece.
The score was 3-3 when Sonny Bill Williams ran decoy to let Carter carry the ball away from the scrum to meet the Australia midfield, slipping a delayed pass to Dagg. The fullback tore past opposite number Kurtley Beale on the left touchline and scored in the corner.
The hapless Beale was then culpable for New Zealand’s second try, knocking on a kick under no pressure inside his own 22.
The All Blacks sprayed the ball left to right from the resulting scrum and Dagg swiftly deposited the ball in Jane’s hands on the right for the winger to score.
“We worked pretty hard but it’s not all about the backs, it’s about the timing of the delivery particularly from the scrum,” assistant coach Ian Foster said. “It got us ahead of their defenders and we took advantage of that.”
Australia made a final attack of the half and Digby Ioane powered through only to be hauled down just short. Will Genia popped the ball up off the ground for Sharpe to go over for his eighth try from 106 tests.
Barnes pulled the Wallabies to within eight points with the conversion and the gap was just five points within five minutes of the restart after the flyhalf landed another penalty.
Carter and Barnes then traded kicks before the New Zealand flyhalf restored the cushion with his fourth successful penalty.
Dagg was bundled into touch as he raced in for a second try in the right corner following a break by Liam Messam and Jane spilled just short of the line on the other wing.
The All Blacks looked to be home and dry but Barnes again hauled the Wallabies to within a try and the majority of the 76,877 fans were roaring, only to be silenced as the ball was hacked clear and Carter made the game safe with the final kick of the match.
Having won the last 13 straight matches against Australia at Eden Park, New Zealand will now keep hold of the Bledisloe Cup for a 10th year in a row if they edge out the Wallabies next weekend.
Arsenal Agree To sell Song To Barcelona
Song, 24, will travel to Spain to agree personal terms and have a medical before finalising the £15 million move.
Last season’s La Liga runners up Barca said the player would sign a five-year contract and have a release clause of 80 million euros.
Song will take his medical on Monday and is expected be presented along with the rest of the Barca squad in a friendly against Sampdoria at the Nou Camp later that day.
He is expected to provide cover in the centre of defence, a priority new coach Tito Vilanova laid out when he stepped up from assistant to replace Pep Guardiola last season.
Barca have struggled at the back recently with ageing captain Carles Puyol, who is 34, struggling with a string of injuries, and Eric Abidal out as he recovers from a liver transplant.
Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano have dropped back from midfield to play alongside Gerard Pique at the back, and Song will provide further options to fulfil a similar role.
He is Barca’s second major signing of the closed season after they landed Spain full back Jordi Alba from Valencia for 14 million euros.
Arsenal signed Song from French side SC Bastia in August 2005 and made 205 appearances for the Londoners, scoring 10 goals.
Song was not named in Arsenal’s squad for their opening Premier League game of the season against Sunderland, which finished 0-0.
Wenger Admits United Are Stronger
Red Devils boss Ferguson believes his formidable frontline next season will be just like it was when Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer drove them on to domestic success, which was then capped by a remarkable late comeback in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
Wenger, though, feels juggling the likes of Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck alongside Van Persie and Wayne Rooney will not be as straight forwards as it sounds, and said: “Alex Ferguson is a bit too confident when he says 1999, but of course it increases their potential offensively because they got a world-class players.”
He went on: “However, they also have a number of players – like Hernandez and Wellbeck – who have a restricted chance to play.”
While Arsenal were prepared to make the 29-year-old Dutchman the highest-paid player in the club’s history, it was again a case of being unable to match what was on offer elsewhere – with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri also moving away last summer.
Wenger, however, firmly believes the days of clubs being bankrolled beyond their means are numbered, as UEFA look to implement financial fair play.
“It is a short-term problem, that the world cannot go on like that,” said Wenger, who admitted midfielder Alex Song could yet join Barcelona before the end of the transfer window.
“You cannot imagine that the world will go on just splashing money out without any return, people will get tired of that because you will have just a few teams competing with each other.
“When you have lost the standard of living in life for normal people, the football world always gets higher and higher – that cannot last because people will not accept it.”
The Arsenal boss added: “Financial Fair Play will make a big difference, how quickly I cannot answer because I am not responsible for putting it in place.”