New York: Serena Williams has been named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated, the premier sports magazine in the United States. The 34-year-old Williams defied her age of 2015, winning 53 matches and losing only three, while taking three of the four major tennis tournaments the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon. She fell short of her quest for the calendar year Grand Slam when she lost in the semifinals of the US Open in September. For six weeks during the summer, Williams achieved a first in the history of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings she compiled so many ratings points that she had twice as many as the world No 2 and, incredibly, at one point the gap between her and No 2 was greater than that between No2 and No. 1,000. The magazine’s cover photo of Williams this week was her own inspiration, according to managing editor Christian Stone. It shows Williams in high heels in a one-piece black lace leotard, sitting on a gold throne, with one of her bare legs over an arm of the chair. Stone wrote on SI.com that it was “intended … to express her own ideal of femininity, strength, power.” Stone added that, among other things, Sports Illustrated honored Williams for her entire career of excellence, including her 21 Grand Slam titles that has her only one short of German Steffi Graf’s Open Era Slam record. Monday’s announcement brought a change to the formal name of the annua award that has been handed out since 1954, when Britain’s Roger Bannister got the honor for running the first sub-4 minute mile. Past recipients were touted as Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Year. It’s now Sportsperson of the Year. Some years, the award has had multiple recipients, as in 1999 when the US Women’s Soccer Team was honored for becoming World Cup Champions when the US hosted the tournament. It’s been 32 years since a female alone has been so honored. Double Olympic champion runner Mary Decker of the United States won the award in 1983.
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New Delhi: The Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer disclosed that he supports the world number one Indo-Swiss pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis.
Federer, who was in India recently to lead UAE Royals in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) told reporters hat he watched the entire Wimbledon (women's doubles) and supported the top ranked women's doubles pair.“They (Sania-Hingis) went on a run...I support them on the women's tour when they play the doubles. I watched the entire Wimbledon [women's doubles] final. It was thrilling and I couldn't be happier for them,” said Federer. FedEx seemed too impressed with his compatriot as she went on to say that: “I was very happy for Martina in particular, who I admire since I was 14 years old and I was practicing at the National Tennis Centre.” 17-time grand slam champion also praised Indian tennis queen Sania as he labelled her as 'very sweet girl'. “...Having played with Sania here (India) in the mixed doubles last year I could really see why is she so good. I knew her from before and she is a very sweet girl and it was pleasure teaming up with her."
Bloemfontein: Paralympian Oscar Pistorius’ conviction for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp has been scaled up to murder from culpable homicide by South Africa’s top appeals court. “Blade Runner” Pistorius could now be sent back to jail for at least 15 years for shooting Steenkamp dead on Valentine’s Day 2013. The athlete is expected to be sentenced for the new murder conviction by a lower court at a date still to be determined. Last year a judge gave Pistorius a five-year jail sentence for “culpable homicide” of Steenkamp, but prosecutors argued that he should be convicted of murder for firing four shots through a locked toilet door in a case that attracted interest around the world and continues to fascinate and divide South Africa. Pistorius left jail on parole in October and is meant to serve the rest of his sentence under house arrest. “This is a human tragedy of Shakespearean proportions,” Judge Eric Leach said as he started reading the ruling. State prosecutors who lodged the appeal say Pistorius intended to kill Steenkamp and that she fled to a toilet during a row. Pistorius denies deliberately killing Steenkamp, saying he mistook her for an intruder at his home. At the original trial in September last year, Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled that the state had failed to prove intent or “dolus eventualis”, a legal concept that centres on a person being held responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions. Dolus eventualis refers to whether a person foresees the possibility that his or her action will cause death but carries on regardless. “In these circumstances, the accused must have foreseen and, therefore, did foresee that whoever was behind the toilet door might die but reconciled himself to that even occurring and gambled with that person’s life,” said Judge Leach. “The identity of his victim is irrelevant to his guilt.”
Raipur: It all boils down to one match now. The format is such that even a team that has struggled so far in the Hero Hockey World League Final can still maintain hopes of winning the title.For them, the real tournament starts in the quarterfinals as winning one match put them in contention for a medal. India have failed to win a single match in the Hero Hockey World League Final in Raipur so far. Their forwards have been inconsistent, error-prone and they seem to have ditched their internal GPS system at the team hotel. They have committed basic mistakes in trapping and passing too and have manufactured only three penalty corners in three matches despite there being three penalty corner experts in VR Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh and Jasjit Singh Kular in the team. But all that would not matter and even atoned if they beat Great Britain in Thursday’s all-important quarterfinal. There have been concerns in some sections of hockey stakeholders of performance in the preliminary league turning to nought because of introduction of the knockout quarterfinal stage. Teams can win any number of matches in the round robin pool but what matters in the end is the performance in the knockout stage. Such a thing happened at the Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar last year and the Indian fans would be hoping that such an upset takes place on Thursday when the hosts take on Pool A toppers Great Britain. While India have struggled in the tournament thus far, Great Britain looks like the team to beat by the way they demolished World Cup winners Australia in a Pool A match. Thus Roelant Oltmans boys will have to pull themselves up by the straps of their boot laces if they have to get past the British. “We have analyses their match against Belgium yesterday and have devised our strategy accordingly. One thing is that they have a tendency to commit mistakes if pressed. We will try and create enough pressure on them. Penalty corners is our strength and we would try and create more and score in the quarterfinal,” said Oltmans on Wednesday. Though his forwards have been erratic, Oltmans can take heart from his defenders who have kept strong teams like Germany and Netherlands quiet for long periods. However, it would be an uphill task for India as they had lost 1-5 to Great Britain when they last played them in the HWL semifinals in Antwerp in June this year. Great Britain coach Bobby Crutchley was cautious in his assessment of India. “India have put up a mixed show so far. I haven’t seen them enough as I was focussed on my group. But they played well against Germany but did not have good games against Holland and Argentina, as per the results. But then all teams are expected to raise their standards in the quarterfinals and I am sure India will be tough as well,” said Crutchley. “Even we have played mixed hockey so far. We weren’t that good in the game against Belgium so we have to improve on a few areas. We have a few young players. For them to play against a strong side like India at their home will be a tough challenge but a invaluable experience. The main tournament starts now for all teams. Oltmans too would hope that it would be a tough match and his boys will finally come good in the tournament.
London: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are set to lead their respective teams at the 2015 International Premier Tennis League (IPTL). The Indian Aces claimed the inaugural title last year after having Swiss great Federer as part of their outfit. An additional team has been added to the tournament in 2015, with the Japan Warriors joining the Aces, UAE Royals, Philippine Mavericks and Singapore Slammers. Federer has joined the Royals for the five-city swing, beginning with the opening stop in Kobe, Japan, on Wednesday. Nadal will lead the Aces in their bid for back-to-back titles, joined by Frenchman Gael Monfils and Polish star Agnieszka Radwanska. After an outstanding year that included three grand slam titles, Djokovic is part of a Slammers line-up that features Australian Nick Kyrgios. Kei Nishikori and Maria Sharapova headline the Japan Warriors outfit. Women's world number one Serena Williams will look to lead the Mavericks, who also have Milos Raonic, Richard Gasquet and Borna Coric as part of their team. After the teams do battle in Kobe, they will head to Manila, New Delhi, Dubai and the final stop of the season in Singapore on December 18-20. No-ad scoring and a shoot-out at 5-5, if required, is sure to make for some entertaining tennis, with some of the world's best competing.
London: British newspapers declared Andy Murray was on top of the world as they ecstatically hailed Great Britain’s Davis Cup victory.Britain won the Davis Cup for the first time in 79 years in Ghent on Sunday when Murray defeated David Goffin 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead over Belgium. Several newspapers focused on the contrast with decades of British underachievement in tennis. “British tennis, for so long the punchline to gags about national sporting ineptitude, has recovered its pride,” wrote Kevin Mitchell in the Guardian. “It is some journey from laughing stock to No 1,” said the Times’ Matt Dickinson. The win over Goffin made Murray just the third player, after John McEnroe and Mats Wilander, to win all eight singles in the same calendar year since the Davis Cup World Group started in 1981. And it underpinned Murray’s place in tennis history following his headline-making wins in the 2012 US Open and Olympics, and at Wimbledon the following year. “Murray’s individual contribution has been immense, but he has headlined a team effort that has been five years in the making,” said the BBC’s tennis correspondent Russell Fuller. “Strategy and team spirit have been expertly co-ordinated by captain Leon Smith, and many other players have won crucial points in the climb through the divisions,” he added. However, most pundits credited Murray with clinching the title. “As team triumphs go, this was about as individual as it gets. Andy Murray was on court to win the third and decisive point of the Davis Cup final this afternoon,” wrote the Telegraph’s Simon Briggs. The Times’s Dickinson said: “Soon there were six British players accepting their personal trophies, but it is Murray who has put Britain, improbably, on the summit of the tennis world.”
Two-time defending champion PV Sindhu completed a hat-trick of titles at the Macau Open after defeating sixth seeded Minatsu Mitani 21-9 21-23 21-14 in the finals on Sunday. Fifth seeded Sindhu earlier advanced to finals of the event with a gruelling three-game triumph over second seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in the semifinals. World No. 12 Sindhu triumphed 21-8 15-21 21-16 in the semifinals contest which lasted an hour and three minutes to make the summit clash of the $120,000 event. The two-time World Championship bronze-medallist, who is seeded fifth here, Sindhu will next square off against the winner of the match between He Bingjiao of China and sixth-seeded Japanese Minatsu Mitani. Sindhu was off to a fantastic start as she pocketed the opening game in a mere 14 minutes. But Yamaguchi did not let the Indian run away with it and roared back into the contest to claim the second game. The World No. 9 went neck-and-neck with the Indian till 15-15 before breaking away to draw level. Sindhu raised her tempo in the decisive third game and raced to an 11-5 lead. Yamaguchi did claw back to reduce the margin but the Indian managed to do just enough to seal the issue in her favour. With this, Sindhu avenged a loss that she had suffered at the hands of Yamaguchi in 2013 when the Japanese had knocked her out of the Japan Open with a 21-6 21-17 win.
The magnificent Murrays, Andy and Jamie, put Britain within touching distance of a first Davis Cup triumph for 79 years with a doubles victory over Belgium duo David Goffin and Steve Darcis in Ghent on Saturday. A match played out in an electrifying atmosphere ebbed and flowed before the brothers took charge to carve out a 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory and give Britain a 2-1 lead. World number two Andy was inspired, as he has been throughout Britain's run to a first final since 1978, and can deliver the winning point in Sunday's first reverse singles against Belgium's top player Goffin. Older brother Jamie, the seventh best doubles player in the world, struggled at times, but his nerve proved solid as he served for the match. One more win for the world number two, who beat Ruben Bemelmans on Friday, over Goffin in the reverse singles on Sunday would give Britain a first Davis Cup title since 1936.
Nairobi: Seven Kenyan athletes, including two-time cross-country world champion Emily Chebet received bans for doping offences on Friday. Chebet, the cross-country world champion in 2010 and 2013, was banned for four years after testing positive for the diuretic and masking agent furosemide, the Kenyan athletics federation said. The 29-year-old Chebet was also a bronze medalist in the 10,000 meters at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Her ban was backdated to July 17 and runs through until July 16, 2019, according to the reports. Beijing world championships participants Joyce Zakary and Koki Manunga each was banned for four years for furosemide. Zakary, a 400-meter runner, and Manunga, a 400-meter hurdler, had been provisionally banned after they tested positive at August’s worlds. The other four athletes banned on Friday were Agnes Jepkosgei, Bernard Mwendia, Judy Jesire Kimuge and Lilian Moraa Marita. Jepkosgei was banned for four years for testing positive for the anabolic steroid metabolite norandrosterone. Mwendia was given a two-year ban for norandrosterone. Kimuge was banned two years for the norandrolone and Marita two years for the blood-booster EPO. Some Kenyan athletes protested at Kenyan athletics’s federation this week, demanding the federation’s president Isaiah Kiplagat and vice president David Okeyo step down.
London: Andy Murray said on Tuesday he had no qualms about playing the Davis Cup final in Belgium despite the security alert, but added that he would understand if any British fans decided to cancel their trips. The world number two, and the rest of the British team, arrived in Ghent, 55 kilometres (35 miles) from Brussels on Monday, a day later than planned after the Belgium capital was put on maximum security alert in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Paris that killed 130 people. The lock-down was still in place on Tuesday as the hunt for suspected terrorists continued, but Murray said the feeling was very different in Ghent. “It was obviously a bit concerning a few days ago,” he said. “I think once we got here and got into the hotel, came to the venue and saw what it was like here, I think that made everyone a lot more comfortable. “Obviously it’s a different situation in Brussels than it is here. “I know a lot of fans were staying there and planning on travelling through there. Obviously listen to the right people, if you’re doing that. “But here in Ghent, everything seems fine. It’s very quiet. I think it’s a really nice city. “I hope as many fans can travel over as possible to give us the best support. Obviously understand if people make another decision because of what’s been happening in Brussels.” Murray’s older brother Jamie, who is expected to join him for what could be a crucial doubles rubber on Saturday said that not playing in Ghent because of the security situation had never been an option for him. “I was always planning on coming and playing. Always planning to come. Obviously things had happened that made it a bit more concerning. But, you know, we’re here. We’re training. Business as normal. Yeah, ready to play on Friday.” Security has been tightened at the 13,000 capacity Flanders Expo, which will host the final from Friday to Sunday including a ban on bags and backpacks, as well as any food and drink, inside the arena. Sniffer dogs will also be used at the stadium to search for any explosives.