By Pritha SarkarAndy Murray preserved his 100 per cent claycourt record in 2015 to reach the French Open semi-finals with a 7-6(4) 6-2 5-7 6-1 win over Spanish warrior David Ferrer on Wednesday.While the rest of tennis world was transfixed with the Novak Djokovic-Rafa Nadal blockbuster that was simultaneously being played out on the main Philippe Chatrier stage, Murray went about his task in a businesslike manner to reach the last four in Paris for the third time.A backhand volley winner gave him the first set, and after squandering a match point in the third set, the British third seed sealed his 15th successive win on red dirt with an unreturnable serve.He will next face world number one Djokovic for a place in the final.
By Mark Lamport-StokesMasters champion Jordan Spieth added another chapter to golf’s record books with a nerve-jangling, one-shot victory at the US Open on Sunday after Dustin Johnson blew his chance to force a playoff by three-putting the last.American young gun Spieth sank a curling 28-footer to birdie the 16th and forge three ahead, then shrugged off a double-bogey at the 17th before becoming just the sixth player to slip into a green jacket and hoist the US Open trophy in the same year.Though Spieth birdied the par-five 18th to end a wildly fluctuating final round of high drama with a one-under-par 69, he then had to watch as fellow American Johnson, in the last pairing, had a 12-foot eagle putt to win it at the 18th.Johnson’s putt slid past the cup and he then missed a four-foot birdie putt coming back to squander the chance of forcing an 18-hole playoff on Monday at Chambers Bay.The 21-year-old Spieth posted a five-under total of 275 on a challenging links-style layout that firmed up under a baking sun as he became the youngest winner of the US Open since Bobby Jones in 1923.“I’m still amazed that I won, let alone that we weren’t playing tomorrow,” Spieth told reporters. “So for that turnaround right there, to watch that happen, I feel for Dustin.“But I haven’t been able to put anything in perspective yet. When I finished, I was just hoping to be playing tomorrow. I can’t seem to wrap my head around the finish of today.”The victory saw Spieth join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Craig Wood as the only players to have won the Masters and US Open in the same year.“It’s cool to be able to have two legs of the grand slam now, and to conquer golf’s hardest test,” said Spieth. “The US Open is conquering the hardest layout in all of golf.“The fact that we did it is amazing. We really grinded this week. Didn’t have my best stuff ball-striking at all and we really grinded over those four or five-footers … that was the difference.”Spieth, who stunned the golf world with a wire-to-wire victory by four shots at the Masters in April, became the youngest player to win back-to-back majors since Gene Sarazen in 1922 (US Open and PGA Championship).Johnson, seeking his first major crown, had to settle for a share of second place with South African Louis Oosthuizen, who sensationally birdied six of the last seven holes, including five in a row from the 12th, for a 67.It was further major heartbreak for the big-hitting Johnson, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour who came desperately close in his title runs at the US Open and PGA Championship in 2010.South African Branden Grace, who’s hopes evaporated with a double-bogey at the 16th where his tee shot ended up on railroad tracks out-of-bounds, carded a 71 to share fourth place with Australians Adam Scott (64) and Cameron Smith (68).Johnson, one of four players tied for the lead overnight in the year’s second major, appeared to have the title within his grasp when he moved two strokes clear at the turn on a picture-postcard afternoon in the Pacific Northwest.However, he lost his way with bogeys at the 10th, 11th and 13th, leaving Spieth and Grace effectively duelling for the lead.Spieth then benefited from a three-shot swing at the 16th after he sank a left-to-right breaking birdie putt from 28 feet and Grace ran up his double, before further drama unfolded over the last two holes.World number one Rory McIlroy had earlier sent a tremor of excitement across the course as he racked up six birdies in his first 13 holes to reach two under for the tournament, just two off the lead.The Northern Irishman drained a 70-footer at the par-four 13th to spark thunderous roars from the grandstands but bogeyed the 15th and 17th on the way to 66 and a tie for ninth at level-par.“I hit some good shots early on, made some nice putts and just got a little bit of momentum going there,” McIlroy, who won the 2011 US Open at Congressional by eight shots, told reporters.“I feel like it’s sort of one that got away, especially the way I putted this week. I don’t think I’ve ever hit the ball as well in a major championship.”Low scoring was plentiful, especially for the early starters, on a par-70 layout made more receptive by overnight watering and a set-up at its shortest yardage of the week.The links-style venue became the longest course to stage a US Open when it measured 7,695 yards for the second round, but was cut back to 7,384 yards for the final round.
Jurgen Klopp, who has breathed new life into Liverpool in his seven months in charge, would seal his place in the hearts of the club’s supporters if he pulls off victory over Sevilla in Wednesday’s Europa League final (9.45pm)It would bring Liverpool’s first European trophy since the famous fightback against AC Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul in 2005.Klopp conjured up the spirit of that historic win in the extraordinary quarter-final performance over his former club Borussia Dortmund when the Reds turned a 3-1 halftime deficit in the second leg into a stunning 4-3 victory in stoppage time.Sevilla, current holders, might be a different matter though. Klopp will be up against coach Unai Emery, whose side have won the last two editions of the tournament and hold a record four UEFA Cup/Europa League triumphs, all in the last decade.Sevilla had an easier path to the final, beating Shakhtar Donetsk 5-3 on aggregate in the semis, although they needed a penalty shootout to overcome fellow Spaniards Athletic Bilbao in the last eight.Sevilla have endured a disappointing domestic campaign, finishing seventh in La Liga and failing to win a single away game, the only team in Europe’s top five leagues to do so.Liverpool’s season has not been dissimilar.Klopp’s team have ended in eighth place in the Premier League, their lowest finish since 2012.The charismatic German has proved a master of the big occasion, however, knocking out Manchester United and Villarreal as well as Dortmund with his trademark game plan of high intensity pressing.He will be looking for the same high octane performance against Sevilla.“There will be challenges all over the pitch. There will be a lot of fight, for sure; you cannot win a cup with just a little bit of playing football,” Klopp told UEFA.com.“You have to show that you’re really ready for the big moments.”Klopp must decide whether to start with captain Jordan Henderson, who only returned from a knee injury by playing half an hour as a substitute in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion.Emery, who has no new injury concerns from the semi-final, is banking on his team’s mental resilience to become the first coach to win three consecutive Europa League trophies.“The fact that this is our third consecutive final demonstrates how focused and hungry we have been to do well in the Europa League, and win it,” he said.“That means competing – standing up to be counted throughout the 90 minutes.”
Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic will play British wildcard James Ward in the first round of the Wimbledon championships on Monday as he continues his bid for a calendar year grand slam.Serena Williams, looking to retain her women’s title and match Steffi Graf’s professional era record of 22 major singles crowns, opens up against a qualifier.Djokovic, seeded number one, could face a semi-final with third seed Roger Federer, the seven-times champion he beat in the last two finals at the All England Club.The 29-year-old, the first man to win the year’s first two grand slams since Jim Courier in 1992, is bidding to become the first man to sweep all four majors in the same season since Australian great Rod Laver in 1969.He could face a tricky path though with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, seeded six, looming in the quarter-finals.Federer, who missed the French Open through injury after contesting 65 consecutive majors, plays Argentina’s Guido Pella in the first round.Second seed Andy Murray faces an all-British first round against wildcard Liam Broady.Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka, Murray’s prospective semi-final opponent, begins against American teenager Taylor Fritz.American veteran Williams, stuck on 21 grand slam singles titles since beating Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in last year’s final, could face Italian Roberta Vinci in the last eight.Vinci ended her dream of winning the calendar year slam at last year’s US Open.Second seed Muguruza, fresh from winning the French Open, faces Italy’s Camila Giorgi in round one.
Premier League Stoke City support forward Saido Berahino’s claim that his eight-week drugs ban was a result of a spiked drink, manager Mark Hughes said.Berahino served the ban earlier this season for failing a drugs test while at former club West Bromwich Albion. The former England under-21 striker told the BBC this week that his ban was the result of someone spiking his drink at a nightclub.“That’s always been Saido’s stance and we’ve got no reason not to believe him. From the first time we spoke to Saido that’s always been his stance and he’s never wavered,” Hughes told reporters on Friday.“In this day and age you can believe that it can happen… He’s playing football again, doing well.”Berahino joined Stoke in January for a reported 12 million pounds having not played for Albion since September 2016.Stoke, ninth in the table, face 15th-placed Leicester City on Saturday and Hughes is wary of a rejuvenated side that have won all three of their league games since sacking manager Claudio Ranieri last month.“They’ve gone back to what they were doing last season and they’ve got a bit of a new manager boost,” Hughes added, referring to Leicester’s surprise Premier League triumph.“It’s always difficult against Leicester because they’re a fully committed side and you have to make sure their key players can’t influence the game. It’s never going to be an easy fixture but I still feel we can go there with good intentions.”Hughes hoped Xherdan Shaqiri, who last featured in January, could return shortly as the club look to sort out the winger’s persistent calf problems.“At the moment when he steps things up he gets set-backs. We don’t anticipate it will be too long,” Hughes said.
Several umpires went on strike this week over a dispute over their pay. This caused a delay in games for the senior tournament.Speaking at the presentation of the 2015 Digicel netball national championships this afternoom, an angry Abel expressed concern at what the umpires had done.”You delayed my championships over money. You should always put the players first before yourselves.””Don’t ever take out your grievances on the players,” said Abel.
Two tries and a penalty was enough to give the Hunters the win over the competition leaders in a low scoring affair.“I think we dropped eight balls in the first half and didn’t complete our sets well. Our kicking game wasn’t that good,” said Marum.Marum added there were some positives from the win, one of which was the defensive effort that the Hunters put up for the full 80 minutes.“It was always going to be a low scoring game. There are a lot of things we’ve taken out from this and we’ll work on them. But I think we defended well all throughout the game.“Redcliffe we knew were going to be tough at home, but it was good to get over the line at the end and pick up the two points,” said Marum.
Discussions are pencilled in for the coming weeks as Spurs prepare to reward the South Korean for his continued fine form.Son is on course to surpass the 20-goal mark for a second successive season having scored 18 in 43 appearances this term, including seven in his last four games.He scored in the 2-1 defeat against Juventus in the Champions League at Wembley earlier this month and more recently got two in the 4-1 win at Bournemouth.The 25-year-old’s current deal – signed when he joined from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015 – expires in 2020.Son has become an instrumental part of the team, with 47 goals in 130 appearances in total, and he will be relied upon for more goals with Harry Kane out for a lengthy period with an ankle injury.He has helped Spurs climb to third in the Premier League with eight games to go but his immediate concern is the FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea on Saturday.
Old Trafford was a deflated place following United’s dismal exit from the Champions League against Sevilla on Tuesday but goals from Romelu Lukaku (37) and Nemanja Matic (84) lifted the spirits.It was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggests with United having just two shots on target during the 90 minutes – both of which were converted via back-post headers.United goalkeeper Sergio Romero – deputising for David de Gea – was kept busy by Brighton, who played with more adventure than the hosts but lacked a killer finish in the final third.Jose Mourinho’s side will find out their opponents for the semi-finals on Sunday evening.Player RatingsManchester United: Romero (8), Valencia (6), Bailly (7), Smalling (7), Shaw (5), Matic (8), McTominay (5), Mata (7), Lingard (5), Martial (6), Lukaku (7).Subs: Young (6), Fellaini (6), Rashford (6)Brighton: Krul (5), Schelotto (7), Dunk (6), Duffy (6), Suttner (6), Kayal (6), Propper (5), Gross (6), Locadia (7), Ulloa (6), March (6).Subs: Izquierdo (6), Murray (6)Man of the match: Nemanja MaticThe first half was a drab affair played out in a quiet atmosphere considering it was a cup quarter-final. United created a couple of half chances as Anthony Martial and Juan Mata linked up but a tame shot drifted wide of the post and Chris Smalling hit a close-range effort off a post.Old Trafford was awoken by Lukaku just before the break.Matic swept a first-time cross towards the far post and Lukaku powered home a header past Tim Krul in the Brighton goal.After the break, Jurgen Locadia hit a dangerous effort that was flying towards the top corner until Romero flung out a left-hand to make a fine stop.Team newsJose Mourinho made five changes from their Champions League exit to Sevilla with Alexis Sanchez one of the quintet to drop out. Brighton also made five changes as Glenn Murray dropped to the bench.Locadia was Brighton’s biggest threat and should have levelled on 67 minutes but his header at the back post from a Solly March cross flew wide.Chris Hughton would have sensed an equaliser was very possible but United wrapped up the game with their only effort on goal in the second half when Matic met Ashley Young’s free-kick.Man of the match – Nemanja MaticMatic scored and assisted in a game for the first time since August 2014 for Chelsea against Everton as he was the unlikely creative lynchpin in an underwhelming showing from United’s attacking trio of Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard.Opta statsMourinho has reached the FA Cup semi-final stage for the first time since 2007 when managing Chelsea.Mourinho has won 15 of his 17 home FA Cup matches (D1 L1), winning all three with Manchester United by an aggregate score of 12-0.Chris Hughton, meanwhile, has managed five away matches at Old Trafford in all competitions and lost all five without seeing his sides score a single goal.Lukaku has scored 12 goals in his last 11 FA Cup appearances – the only match he failed to score in of those 11 games was against Man Utd for Everton in the semi-final in April 2016.Lukaku has been directly involved in 14 goals in his 14 appearances in 2018 (10 goals, 4 assists).
Two-time MVP Curry sustained a grade two sprain of his left medial collateral ligament in his first game back from an ankle injury against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday,Curry will be re-evaluated in three weeks, which means he will miss the start of the postseason, according to Kerr.”There’s no way he’s playing the first round,” Kerr told reporters on Sunday, prior to Golden State’s clash with the Utah Jazz.”He’s being re-evaluated in three weeks so we have to be ready to play without him then see how he’s coming along. The good thing is that we’ve been through this.”We went through it last year with KD [Kevin Durant], he missed five weeks or so. It was a similar situation where we had to play without one of our best players and we felt that appropriate fear and turned it up and got it going and when KD came back, he was Finals MVP. There are a lot of similarities and we should feel good about our ability to play through this stuff.”The Warriors essentially are locked into the Western Conference’s second seed behind the Houston Rockets when the NBA playoffs begin on April 14.The Minnesota Timberwolves hold a half-game lead over the Jazz for the seventh spot entering Sunday’s games.