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Barcelona and Manchester United reach Champions semis

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Barcelona and Manchester United moved a step closer to a rematch of the 2009 Champions League final yesterday, as both clubs earned victories to extend their first-leg advantage and reach the semis.

Lionel Messi scored his club-record 48th goal of the season in the 43rd minute to give Barcelona a 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk and secure a comfortable 6-1 aggregate victory that had never looked in doubt.

There was more drama at Old Trafford, where Park Ji-sung secured a 2-1 win for United over 10-man Chelsea, scoring the winner less than a minute after second-half substitute Didier Drogba had equalised for the London club in the 77th.

Javier Hernandez scored the opener in the 43rd, as United advanced 3-1 on aggregate.

"I think we played very, very well against a very, very good team," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Chelsea played a big part in that game today. I thought we were the better team on the night. In a team game we had some fantastic performances, Park, Chicharito (Hernandez), all over, no one let us down."

Barcelona are now looking at a likely semi-final against arch-rival Real Madrid, which hold a 4-0 edge over Tottenham going into the second leg of their quarter-final today.

United will face the winner of Schalke and defending champion Inter Milan, with the German club having won the first leg 5-2 in Italy.

No rest for the stars

Barcelona, who beat United 2-0 in the final two years ago, only needed to avoid an unlikely collapse in Ukraine following their 5-1 rout in the first leg. But coach Pep Guardiola still opted against giving stars like Messi, Xavi and David Villa a rest despite upcoming games against Madrid in both the league and Copa del Rey final.

While Shakthar came out attacking from the start, Barcelona soaked up the pressure and repeatedly threatened on counter-attacks. Messi provided the breakthrough in the 43rd when he received a pass from Dani Alves before holding off a defender in the box and slotting the ball past Pyatov for his ninth goal in 10 matches in the competition this season.

Source from : The Gleaner

Roger Federer : Comparing Him to the Top 10 Men's Tennis Players Ever

In over a century of judging the hits and misses of men’s professional tennis, tournament rules have come and gone. Styles of play rose and fell with the passage of time.

Technology has increased speed, spin and accuracy as rackets evolved and athletes became bigger, stronger and faster.

In light of constant evolution, it becomes difficult to compare players from one generation to the next because unlike baseball, tennis has never been a game noted for rote statistics.

That is not to say the stats were not there, but as a professional organization, no one thought to keep numbers comparing players in a consistent and forward-thinking manner. Sometimes even the most rudimentary facts about a match are missing.

Even today, there is no consensus about just what statistical measures are important in judging the overall careers of the top men in tennis.

The statistics that seem to matter most currently are: (1) the number of grand slam victories; (2) the number of weeks or total length of time holding the No. 1 ranking; (3) the number of year-end tour championship wins over the best eight men in the field, and (4) the number of Master’s Shields won. Many other statistics considered important by the ATP are detailed here

This ranking looks at players of the modern era, since 1968, although a great case can and should be made for male tennis stars who played before the Open Era.

Compare Federer’s numbers to the stats of others with him in the top 10, especially those who have won slams on all surfaces.

These 10 players in the modern era have set the bar for the rest following in this 21st century.

Source from :

Rafael Nadal hammers Nieminen in Monte Carlo Masters

World number one Rafael Nadal began the defence of his Monte Carlo Masters crown with an emphatic second-round victory over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.

The Spaniard, who received a bye in the first round, won 6-2 6-2 in just over an hour. It was a powerful display of hitting from the 24-year-old, who cruised to the title here a year ago. Nadal next plays Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-2 6-1 on Wednesday.

He still tops the world rankings despite the fact that his last title win was the Japan Open in October. Since then he has lost to Roger Federer in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals, and suffered consecutive defeats by world number two Novak Djokovic in the recent Masters finals at the BNP Paribas Open and the Sony Ericsson Open.

Last year, he came into the Monte Carlo Masters without a title win in 11 months but stormed to victory in the first clay-court tournament of the season without losing a set. There was never any danger of Nieminen upsetting him on Wednesday, the Finnish player failing to achieve even a break point.

"Today was a positive start," said Nadal. "I think I played better than what I practiced the last days, so that's always positive. "I think I needed a few more days. [It] is just the first match. [It] is positive the way I played with the forehand and positive the way that my serve worked. It wasn't bad. I have to play a little bit more aggressive with the backhand."

Nadal's record at the Monte Carlo event now stands at 35-1 and he was won 33 straight matches there since a third-round defeat by Guillermo Coria on his debut at the venue in 2003. His success there in 2010 - his sixth consecutive title - acted as the launch pad for victories at the Rome and Madrid Masters, before he clinched his fifth French Open, the Wimbledon crown and the US Open.

He will be hoping to use this tournament to give him a similar boost this year, particularly as his number one status is under threat from Djokovic, although the Serb is missing Monte Carlo because of a knee injury. Also on Wednesday, fourth seed David Ferrer made it through to the third round after trouncing fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-0.

Ferrer used his powerful serve to superb effect, firing down three successive aces to take a 5-0 lead in the second set to knock the remaining fight out of his opponent. Also into round three is eighth-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, who defeated Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5 6-2.

He is joined by Serbian 11th seed Viktor Troicki, who beat Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3 4-6 6-4, Croatian 15th seed Marin Cilic, whose opponent Pere Riba of Spain retired because of a knee injury with the first set score at 5-2.

However, sixth seed Fernando Verdasco was knocked out 6-4 6-3 byb fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo.

Source from : BBC Sport

Serena hopes for Wimbledon return after emergency lung surgery

Serena Williams has set her sights on a return to action by early summer - possibly at Wimbledon - after undergoing emergency surgery as a result of a blood clot in her lung earlier this week.

The 29-year-old four-time reigning SW19 champion admitted the last few days had been 'extremely hard, scary, and disappointing' after it was confirmed she had received treatment on Monday for a haematoma, suffered as a result of a pulmonary embolism which was diagnosed last week.

'Thank you everyone for all of your prayers, concerns, and support,' the former world No 1 said in a statement. 'This has been extremely hard, scary, and disappointing. I am doing better, I'm at home now and working with my doctors to keep everything under control.

'I know I will be okay but am praying and hoping this will all be behind me soon.

While I can't make any promises now on my return, I hope to be back by early summer. That said, my main goal is to make sure I get there safely.' A separate statement released on Wednesday confirmed the 13-time grand slam title winner would spend the immediate future under close medical scrutiny.

'Serena did indeed suffer from a pulmonary embolism last week, and the haematoma was another unexpected scare that was subsequently removed. Thankfully everything was caught in time,' the statement read.

'With continued doctor visits to monitor her situation, she is recuperating at home under strict medical supervision.' The Women's Tennis Association expressed relief that the worst appears to be over for Williams, saying in a statement: 'We are very heartened to hear that despite the serious medical situation that she had to deal with, Serena is now recovering and on the road to full health and a possible return to professional tennis in early summer.

'Serena is a champion on and off the court, and we, along with her millions of fans around the world, wish her a speedy recovery.' Williams has been out of competitive action since winning Wimbledon in July. She subsequently cut her foot on some broken glass, an injury which has required two operations.

Despite her lengthy absence, she is still ranked 11th in the world. On Sunday night, the day before her reported emergency treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, she attended the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party in Los Angeles.

Source from :

How would the Lakers match up with San Antonio in the playoffs?

This is the last thing the Lakers should be reading or discussing. They're in the midst of a five-game losing streak. They aren't even sure whether they'll finish as a No. 2 seed or drop down to No. 4. And they've demonstrated such a riddling amount of inconsistency, that it's plausible they wouldn't even advance this far in the postseason to see such an outcome.

So why on Earth am I analyzing how the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs would match up in the playoffs? Give me a break. The Lakers will turn things around. They just have to prove that they will. As Kobe Bryant said, "Everybody wants to put the nail in the coffin, but we've been there before and it doesn't bother us."

That's why it's plausible that the Lakers and Spurs matchup Tuesday at Staples Center won't be the last time they meet this season. The Lakers can take care of their responsibilities, secure the No. 2 seed and meet the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Or they may end the season on a seven-game losing streak, drop down to No. 4 and face a tougher road by playing the Spurs in the West semifinals. Either way, it would be one great series.

"I love those guys, but at the same time, I want to beat the hell out of them," Bryant said of the Spurs. "But I have a lot of a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it."

After the jump, I size up how each team could win.

Why the Lakers would beat the Spurs in the playoffs: The Lakers and Spurs have shared similar success, with the Lakers winning five NBA championships in the last decade and San Antonio three. The Lakers have often mentioned that the preparation for a playoff series is easier when they're familiar with the opponent. Obviously that history also applies to San Antonio, but here's where the Lakers have the edge: The Lakers have met the Spurs in the postseason this decade five times, and the Lakers have won four of those series.

This season, the Lakers have shown how that familiarity can pay off. There's no doubt that future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan has taken a backseat this season, willing to sacrifice his offensive production so he can facilitate a more up-tempo offense that runs through Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. But the Lakers have taken Duncan out of his comfort zone this season, with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol helping to limit Duncan to 12 points on five-of-26 shooting in three meetings.

The Lakers' stiff defense hasn't applied only to Duncan. In their 1-2 regular season series with the Spurs, the Lakers have held San Antonio to an average of 89.66 points a game. That included poor shooting nights for Ginobili (three of 12) and Richard Jefferson (six of 14) in the Lakers' 97-82 loss Dec. 28, for Ginobili (five of 17) in the Lakers' 89-88 loss Feb. 3 and for Ginobili (three of 10), Parker (six of 14) and Jefferson (zero of three) in the Lakers' 99-83 victory March 6. The Lakers' defensive presence was a large reason they went 17-1 after the All-Star break and it could be a huge if they were to overcome San Antonio's homecourt advantage and sixth-best offense, averaging 103.83 points a game.

Why the Lakers would lose to the Spurs in the playoffs: The Lakers' effort in stifling Duncan has had little correlation to actual victories. For example, Duncan finished with a one-of-seven clip in two games this season, but one came in the Lakers' 97-82 loss Dec. 28 and the other came in the Lakers' 99-83 victory March 6. Their defense in general also did very little to stop San Antonio. That's because the Lakers performed abysmally on the offensive end.

The Lakers' 35.4% clip in their double-digit loss to September mostly pointed to Bryant shooting eight of 27, but only Bynum and Matt Barnes shot above 50%. Bryant also shot only five of 18 in the Lakers' one-point loss in February. Surely, two of the Lakers' games against the Spurs came when L.A.'s chemistry wasn't as sharp as it was after the All-Star break, showing why the Lakers blew out the Spurs so drastically. But the Spurs are quite familiar with the Lakers and could disrupt them enough offensively at least to cost them a game in the series. Considering that the Spurs would have homecourt advantage and own a two-game winning streak at Staples Center indicates they're capable of stealing a road game, that would be a lethal combination.

But here's more. The Spurs' bench has proven vastly superior to the Lakers'. San Antonio boasts George Hill (17.3 points on 56% shooting in his last seven games) and three-point specialists in Matt Bonner and Gary Neal, who have been instrumental to the team's league-leading 39.9% shooting from three-point range. The Lakers can count on only Lamar Odom off the bench, which also features a cold-shooting Shannon Brown, a tentative Steve Blake and a previously aggressive Matt Barnes, who hasn't looked the same since returning last month from surgery on his right knee. That's why it comes as no surprise that Jackson removed his reserves in the Lakers' win in March after they allowed San Antonio to creep back into contention.

Source from :

Michael Jordan is the legend of Basketball

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963) is a former American professional basketball player, active businessman, and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.". Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.

After a standout career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of the Tar Heels' National Championship team in 1982, Jordan joined the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly emerged as a league star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line in slam dunk contests, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness". He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat".

Although Jordan abruptly retired from basketball at the beginning of the 1993–94 NBA season to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships (1996, 1997, and 1998) as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards.

Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances, three All-Star Game MVP awards, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press's list of athletes of the century. He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 6, 2009 and was inducted on September 11, 2009.

Michael Jordan wowed us year after year with breath taking abilities while still managing to attain every accolade possible. MVP, Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, All-NBA, All-Star, Slam-Dunk Champion and Olympic Champion are awards that highlight Jordan's memorable career.

Many people, including MJ himself, wonder how all that greatness would translate to today's game. In the era of the "Black Mamba" and "King James," one has to wonder how Jordan would fare. Well, wonder no more! The following list tells you exactly how a prime Michael Jordan would fare on each team in the NBA today, including their playoff result.

Hot Corner: NBA's best coach is in Chicago

I move that nominations for NBA Coach of the Year be closed with just one name -- Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls.

And don't be too quick to discount his worthiness for this award because he has the league's best player on his roster. Teams that have had the best player have not always produced. Consider the Michael Jordan-led Bulls before Phil Jackson came to the Windy City.

Yes, Derrick Rose is an amazing player who can take over a game whenever the notion strikes him. But, as LeBron James learned, it takes more than a superstar, or even three, to produce a championship.

Thibodeau has gotten everybody on his roster to buy into the defense-first philosophy that has been the staple of his career. This group has taken off and quickly reached for the potential that had James considering the Bulls last summer.

Would the Bulls have been better had The King graced their roster? Who knows? But I'm figuring Thibodeau would have made it work.

Source from :

NBA cancels summer league as lockout looms

Publicly, players and the league are still staying positive about the possibility of averting a lockout by reaching a new collective bargaining agreement before the current deal expires on July 1. But behind the scenes, both sides are hunkering down for a long work stoppage.

As one player agent told Sporting News this week, “We’ve been preparing for this for a while. No big new purchases, make sure you have enough to meet your obligations for six-to-12 months. There’s never been a sense that there was going to be a chance that a deal would get done without at least a short lockout.”

Apparently, the league agrees. According to the New York Daily News, the NBA has canceled the annual Las Vegas Summer League, which usually gives teams their first looks at draftees and offers a chance for unsigned free agents to show their wares. Last year, the Vegas league featured 22 NBA teams and ran from July 9-18. It’s also an important meeting post for front-office executives looking to talk trade and agents hoping to make pitches for their clients.

The Daily News report, citing league sources, also said that the NBA is canceling its summer intern project and won’t be sending any teams abroad to conduct training camp or play preseason games.

Source from :

Lionel Messi strikes to send Barcelona past Shakhtar Donetsk

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lionel Messi's first-half goal ensure that this tie, which looked over after the first leg, when Shakhtar were obliterated in the Camp Nou, reached a tame conclusion.

Messi's goal, his 48th of the season, set up a probable semi-final tie against their Spanish rivals Real Madrid, barring a miracle comeback from Tottenham Hotspur – 4-0 down after the first leg – on Wednesday night.

Shakhtar, who knocked out Roma in the previous round, started well and dominated the early stages of the game while Barcelona lay back and soaked up the pressure from the Ukrainian side without ever really being troubled.

But, as with every side that has faced Barcelona this season, Shakhtar learned the hard lesson that if you cannot punish the Catalans when you are on top, then they will punish you. And so it proved just before half-time.

Dani Alves found space on the right hand side. He squared the ball to Messi and the Argentinian danced around a few defenders before slotting the ball past Andriy Pyatov in the Shakhtar net. It was his ninth goal in 10 Champions league games this season.

The second half brought more of the same from both sides. Shakhtar continued to press, and required Víctor Valdés to pull off some good saves in the visitors' goal. But Barcelona were once more able to contain with Messi again the star of the show. Barcelona are now in the semi-finals for the fourth successive season and face the prospect of playing Real Madrid four times in different competitions over the coming weeks.

Source from :

Furusawa retirement because Rossi has gone

Yamaha boss, Masao Furusawa, disclose the reasons why he took the decision to retire. People who have enormous influence in the success of Yamaha in the MotoGP arena, said the departure of Valentino Rossi to join Ducati in the 2011 season a major factor in his deciding to quit.

It is undeniable, Furusawa is the "brains" of the success of MotoGP Yamaha to rule in the last seven seasons. He started an era of success when the hook Rossi of Yamaha Honda team at the end of 2003, and since then Yamaha transformed into the most respected teams.

The proof, they successfully brought Rossi won four world titles, and last season's turn Jorge Lorenzo who continued triumph of "The Doctor". In fact, Lorenzo appear very dominant and record history by creating the highest point in the history of MotoGP.

Furusawa, however last month announced that his retirement. The news was not too surprising, because it has had time to calm the issue. It also (news Furusawa retirement) which triggers Rossi to lift the foot of the Japanese team, and off to Ducati.

However, the MCN Furusawa revealed the reason he chose to retire. Men born in Kyushu, Japan, February 17, 1951, said that Rossi's departure a major factor in him deciding to quit, despite Yamaha's senior management had tried to convince him to survive.

"I actually really wanted to ask Valentino to retire with us and become ambassadors Yamaha for the future. But he changed his mind. MotoGP is very pleasant for him but I've decided to quit.

"If Valentino decided to stay with Yamaha, I would probably stay for two more years. But once he decided to go to the Ducati, I immediately decided to quit.

"I received several requests from the President of Yamaha to continue to survive, but I need time to enjoy my life. I still would have a position at Yamaha for another year as an adviser."

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