Thursday 30 June 2011

Sears Leaves LTA to Coach Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic

Nigel Sears has resigned as head coach of women's tennis for the Lawn Tennis Association to coach former world No 1 Ana Ivanovic.

Sears, who spent four-and-a-half years in the post, said: "It's been a real privilege to be in charge of women's tennis at the LTA, and an honour to captain Great Britain's Fed Cup team, and I feel we've made considerable progress in the women's game over this period.

"I've been fortunate to work with some great coaches, trainers and physios, and I look forward to following the progress of our players over the next few years."

During Sears' time as head coach of women's tennis, five British women broke into the world's top 100, two made the top 50 and two girls (Laura Robson and Heather Watson) won junior grand slam titles.

LTA chief executive Roger Draper added: "I would like to thank Nigel for his significant contribution to the LTA over the past four and a half years.

"Nigel has been instrumental in developing the player programmes for our most talented girls and women, and he leaves behind a real sense of confidence and optimism that we can look forward to a bright long-term future in the international game."

British No 3 Anne Keothavong admitted her disappointment at Sears' departure.

She said on Twitter: "Really sad Nigel Sears has decided to resign from his position as Head Coach of Women's Tennis.

"He has been one of the most influential people in my career and it's been a privilege to work with him. It's a loss for British Tennis and I wish him all the best working with Ana."

All Blacks Announce New Jersey

The All Blacks will reveal a new jersey for the 2011 season in their opening Tri Nations test on July 30, the New Zealand Rugby Union announced on Thirsday,

The new Adidas jersey, which has been designed and tested in conjunction with several senior All Blacks including captain Richie McCaw, will be unveiled for the first time when the All Blacks take the field against South Africa at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.

The jersey design has been a well-guarded secret and all McCaw will say about the jersey is that "it is revolutionary and also respectful to the All Blacks' long and proud history."

"It's not change for change's sake. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to rugby and fans can rest assured that it still looks like a rugby jersey. It's still an All Blacks jersey that you're proud to hold up and proud to run out and wear," he added.

The other players involved in the development of the jersey include Dan Carter, Andrew Hore, Brad Thorn, Conrad Smith, Mils Muliaina and Keven Mealamu.

The All Blacks strip has relatively remained the same since Adidas took over as the jersey maker in 1999 when the white collar was removed for an all black look.

Adidas Country Manager David Huggett says the jersey will contain a "visible difference".

"We are mindful that the people of New Zealand own the All Blacks jersey. Although there will be a visible difference in the All Blacks jersey this year, the change will be respectful to its 127-year legacy," he said.

"The 2011 jersey will again raise the bar for both technology and design," says David Huggett. "This year New Zealand rugby takes a big step into the international limelight, so it is fitting that the jersey should take a leap forward in its long evolution."

Thomas Continues RFU Acting CEO

The Rugby Football Union has temporarily rejigged its management structure until a new chief executive officer is appointed.

Martyn Thomas will continue as acting chief executive until a new CEO is in place, while senior non-executive Peter Baines steps in as chairman.

Thomas and Baines will revert to their previous positions when John Steele's successor starts.

Steele left his RFU post over the hunt for a new elite performance director.

This temporary structure has been put in place to address governance issues.

The search for a new CEO, which will be carried out by a panel, is expected to take between six to nine months.

By the end of the week the panel chairman is to be appointed.

Steele had removed overall responsibility for the senior England team from the job description for elite performance director, seemingly to block the possible return of 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward.

But that decision was reversed following an emergency meeting of the RFU board.

Woodward, currently director of sport at the British Olympic Association and deputy chef de mission for Team GB at London 2012, subsequently said he was not interested in a return to rugby union.

David de Gea Moves to United

Manchester United have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper David de Gea from Atletico Madrid on a five-year deal.

The Spain Under-21 international, 20, underwent a medical at Old Trafford on Monday and will finalise what is thought to be an £18.9m move on Friday.

"I feel very proud and I can't wait to start playing here," De Gea told MUTV.

"When a club the size of Manchester United comes in for you, it obviously makes you very, very happy. I'm keen to do my best and show what I can do."

The deal marks De Gea out as the second most expensive keeper behind Gianluigi Buffon, who cost Juventus £32.6m in 2001.

De Gea, part of the Spain squad that won the European Under-21 Championship on Saturday, is a product of Atletico's youth academy, spending his first professional season with the club's reserves in the Segunda Division B before making his senior debut as a substitute in the Champions League against Porto in September 2009.

Since then he has made nearly 100 senior appearances for the Spanish outfit.

His arrival at Old Trafford follows the departure of Edwin van der Sar, who retired after the Champions League final defeat by Barcelona in May.

In May, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed the Red Devils had been working on the De Gea deal for "quite a while".

"He's a young goalkeeper, very quick, good composure, presence and an outstanding replacement for Van der Sar," Ferguson told the club website.

"We were looking for the same type of qualities as Edwin, because the one great quality Edwin always had was his composure and organisational ability."

And, upon completion of the deal, De Gea added: "I saw Man Utd's interest as an extra motivation to work even harder to show off my ability.

"It's a great privilege to be part of a club like United."

Ferguson currently has goalkeepers Tomasz Kuszczak, Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos on his books but De Gea is widely expected to be the Scot's number one in the new season.

The deal takes the Premier League champions' summer spending past the £50m mark after the acquisitions of defender Phil Jones from Blackburn and Ashley Young from Aston Villa.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Villas-Boas Outlines Chelsea Plans

New Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has promised to bring a more attack-minded philosophy to the team as he begins his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

The 33-year-old has signed a three-year deal after replacing Carlo Ancelotti.

I am just one guy in this big club. Maybe I should be called 'The Group One'

He has appointed former West Brom boss and Blues midfielder Roberto di Matteo as his assistant.

The Portuguese said: "It's not just about winning, but winning with a certain amount of flair. Everyone likes attacking football."

He added: "If you see the technical staff in front of me, and my appointment of Roberto, these are people who like the quality of the game and have a philosophy.

"The Premier League has a certain amount of goals in every game and it should be an entertaining game for the fans and that is what we will look to do."

Ancelotti was sacked at the end of last season just a year after guiding the club to the double.

In depth - Villa-Boas on the need to succeed

Villas-Boas admits he will be expected to challenge for the Premier League title immediately, with the Blues opening their campaign at Stoke on 13 August, but will relish the challenge.

"The expectations are for the maximum. We want to win trophies, that is the challenge we face day by day in any business.

"Everyone wants to be the best and win something and the challenge is to win as soon as possible and to build a platform for the future."

Given the comparisons with one of his Chelsea predecessors Jose Mourinho, who proclaimed himself 'A Special One' on his arrival at the club, Villas-Boas was keen not to indulge similar notions about his own influence.

"This is not a one-man show, this is about creating empathy, ambition and motivation in everybody," he said.

"I am just one guy in this big club. Maybe I should be called 'The Group One'. I want to group people to be successful.

"It's not a question of me taking on Sir Alex Ferguson or other Premier League managers, it's about a top club like Chelsea challenging for the title.

"We need to be up there from the beginning; it's about trying to build something that can make us powerful, and help us threaten for the title as we have in the past."

Villas-Boas says he was offered an "extremely competitive offer" to stay at Porto and acknowledged it was a "difficult separation" from the Portuguese champions.

He revealed that pre-season training will start on 6 July and he will welcome back all current players.

"I'm more than happy with the actual squad," he said.

"Minor changes can be done and we can put some input here or there in certain sectors, but my confidence in them is for them to return to me and judge from that.

"We have plenty of time up to 31 August to make a decision."

1977: Born in Porto 17 October
1993: Works as a trainee under Sir Bobby Robson at Porto
1994: Achieves Uefa C coaching licence in Scotland
2002: Becomes part of Jose Mourinho's staff at Porto
2004: Follows Mourinho to Chelsea
2008: Moves with Mourinho to Inter Milan
2009: Appointed manager of Academica
2010: Named Porto boss
2011: Wins league, cup and Europa League in first season
2011: Named Chelsea manager

Dodgers File for Bankruptcy

The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club has filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court, blaming Major League Baseball for not approving a television deal that could have kept the team secure.

Bankruptcy permits the Dodgers to use $150m (£94m) for daily operations and gives the team time to to seek a media deal, the club said in a statement.

The statement added that the team would not be disrupted by its financial woes.

But reports indicated the Dodgers could have trouble meeting its next payroll.

"There will be no disruption to the Dodgers day-to-day business, the baseball team, or to the Dodger fans," team owner Frank McCourt said in a statement.

Mr McCourt has reportedly been struggling to meet payroll, having been heavily in debt and locked in a divorce battle with his estranged wife.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said last week that he would not approve a Dodgers television deal with the Fox television network that was reportedly worth $3bn (£1.8bn), saying it would not be in the best interests of the team, the game and fans.

The contract included a $385m upfront payment Mr McCourt has said is crucial to the team's financial stability.

The bankruptcy filings listed debts to several current and retired players

And not striking a deal has left Mr McCourt facing the prospect of missing the team payroll on 30 June, which could lead to a Major League Baseball takeover.

"We brought the commissioner a media rights deal that would have solved the cash flow challenge I presented to him a year ago," Mr McCourt said.

"He's turned his back on the Dodgers, treated us differently, and forced us to the point we find ourselves in today," Mr McCourt added, referring to Mr Selig.

The Dodgers began seeing "cash flow difficulties" last year due to a decline in attendance at the games, according to the bankruptcy filing.

The documents list debts to current and former players, including retired star Manny Ramirez, who is owed more than $20m.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Mexican Federation Suspend 8 Players

Eight players in Mexico's Copa America squad have been suspended for six months for indiscipline, with reports claiming they had female guests in their hotel rooms during training.

The Mexican Football Federation would not disclose the details on Tuesday.

Mexico is fielding a youth team for the tournament, with Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez not playing.

Jonathan Dos Santos - brother of Tottenham winger Giovanni - was one of the eight players suspended and fined.

Israel Jimenez, Nestor Vidrio, David Cabrera, Marco Fabian, Javier Cortes, Jorge Hernandez and Nestor Calderon were the others involved in the incident - reported to have taken place after Saturday's 1-0 win over Ecuador, Mexico's final warm-up match.

Their first match in the tournament in Argentina, which starts on Friday, is on 4 July when they play Chile in Group C.

The only 2011 Copa America match scheduled to be played in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, is the final on 24 July. But that venue is now under question after recent rioting at River Plate's Monumental Stadium. Eight venues in Argentina are being used - several in smaller cities that are largely unknown outside the country

"The players confessed," said Hector Gonzalez Inarritu, director of Mexico's national teams selection.

"They are very hurt, very sorry and they have said they are sorry to their fans.

"They are assuming the consequences. I am not going into details of what happened. The rules were broken, the code of discipline was broken and I have to act."

The players, who were each fined $4,100 (£2,570), are expected to be replaced.

Earlier this year, in June, five Mexico internationals tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol during the Concacaf Gold Cup.

Woods Still Uncertain about Open

Tiger Woods has said he still does not know if he will play at the Open, which begins on 14 July at Royal St George's.

The 35-year-old former world number one has been out of action since May with injuries to his left leg and is remaining cautious.

"I will come back when I'm 100%. I don't know when that's going to be," said the American.

"I'm just playing it by ear right now. I've not hit any balls yet. I want to be playing, but I'm not ready yet."

Woods, who has won 14 major championships, including three Open titles (in 2000, 2005 and 2006), has had a string of injuries since returning at the 2010 Masters from a five-month break following his much-publicised personal problems.

At this year's Masters he suffered a sprain to his knee that was twice operated on in 2008 and also a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon.

Woods, now ranked 17th in the world, returned for the Players' Championship at Sawgrass on 12 May but withdrew after only nine holes of the opening round because of a recurrence of the problems he experienced at Augusta.

The injury problems also caused him to miss the recent US Open, the first time he has missed the event since making his debut in 1995.

But he admitted he made a mistake by trying to return at Sawgrass: "It was a borderline call to play The Players. I wasn't quite 100% and I hurt myself there," he said.

"There's not going to be a 50-50 call this time. I need to get my body ready where I can practice and play and apply it. But I'm 35, I'm not 65 - I've still got some years ahead of me and I feel my best years are still ahead of me."

Woods, who has not won a tournament since November 2009,finished joint third when the Open was last held at Sandwich in 2003.

He is still having treatment twice and sometimes three times a day and has also spoken to coach Sean Foley about the plan for when he is fit to play again.

"I've played injured before and been successful at it [at the 2008 US Open]. I didn't think this was anywhere near that, but it's time to have a different approach. I'm setting no timetable - I'm 
going to learn my lesson and apply it. I'm being smarter this time."

ICC Reverse Ireland Cricket 2015 Decision

Ireland will be given the chance to qualify for the 2015 Cricket World Cup after the ICC reversed the decision to restrict the tournament to the 10 Full Member nations.

The ongoing annual conference of the ICC have backed the decision to include four Associate teams in the tournament, reverting to 14 teams - the same number of team that played in this year's World Cup.

'The ICC Executive Board opted to retain the 14-team format that was used at the highly successful and universally acclaimed ICC Cricket World Cup 2011,' the governing body said in a statement.

The ICC had sparked outrage in April when they announced plans to reduce the World Cup to a 10 team tournament, excluding all Associate nations.

This u-turn represents a significant boost for Ireland, who will now be strongly expected to qualify for their third consecutive World Cup, after establishing themselves as the best-performed Associate nation in recent years.

In addition to today's decision it was also agreed that the next two World twenty20 tournaments would be reduced back to 12 teams.

'The ICC executive board today reversed its previous decisions and approved a 14-team format for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to be held in Australia and New Zealand and a 12-team format for the ICC World Twenty20 events in 2012 (Sri Lanka) and 2014 (Bangladesh),' the statement read.

'The board had previously decided in October 2010 that the ICC Cricket World Cup would comprise a 10-team event and that the ICC World Twenty20 events would involve 16 teams.'

The ICC also revealed the 2019 World Cup would be a 10-team tournament, with their rankings system used to determined the first eight direct entries. A qualification tournament will then be held to determine the final two teams to fill the numbers.

'In addition, the board confirmed that the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 would be a 10-team event with the top eight in the Reliance ICC rankings earning their qualification automatically with the remaining two places being decided by a qualification competition,' the statement added.

Richardson Announces Initial Squad

Damien Richardson has confirmed his initial 35-man Airtricity League selection to face Celtic and Manchester City at this year’s inaugural Dublin Super Cup.

With Richardson recently installed as the Airtricity League XI team’s manager, a large preliminary selection of players has been chosen in preparation for the tournament that takes place at the Aviva Stadium on the 30th and 31st July. The final squad will then be cut down closer to the tournament, to no less than 25 players making the final selection.

Richardson’s initial squad boasts four full internationals – Alan Mannus (Northern Ireland), Joe Gamble (Republic of Ireland), Jason Byrne (Republic of Ireland) and the league’s top scorer, Eamon Zayed (Libya). The initial panel also contains six of the players from last year’s Airtricity League team that faced Manchester United, whose experience should be invaluable when facing teams of similar calibre.

Richardson has also used his knowledge of the league to delve into the Airtricity First Division to give Danny Murphy (Cork City) and Joe Gamble (Limerick) an opportunity to shine. Players from FAI Ford Cup winners, Sligo Rovers, have not been considered for the tournament as they will be involved in Europa League action. Richardson is keen to only select players that can play in the Dublin Super Cup matches competitively and has made the decision early on to exclude them from the selection process.

Damien Richardson commented, “I’m really excited to be naming my provisional panel for the Dublin Super Cup today as I think it highlights some of the exciting talent we have playing in the Airtricity League. I will now use the coming weeks to fine tune my selection before confirming the final squad. I’m confident we’ll be capable of competing with Celtic and Manchester City in this tournament, which I feel has captured the imagination of the Irish sporting public.

“I’ve already spoken to some of the boys and I know how thrilled they are to be taking part in a game that will be broadcast around the world and already I sense a mood of anticipation and determination beginning to build.”

As well as Manchester City and Celtic being in attendance at the Aviva Stadium, Italian cup winners and current FIFA Club World Cup holders, Inter Milan, will also be in the hunt to win the first Dublin Super Cup. Inter, like the Airtricity XI, will be up against Manchester City and Celtic with the Airtricity League fans relishing the prospect of watching the likes of Samuel Eto’o and Wesley Sneijder in action.

Tournament organisers, Endemol Sport, have recently announced that the tournament will be broadcast around the globe in over 130 territories after announcing deals with Sky, Fox and SuperSport. The Dublin Super Cup will also be broadcast in 3D, showcasing the Airtricity League players in this format for the very first time.

Initial 35-man selection to face Celtic and Manchester City:
Goalkeepers: Ger Doherty (Derry City), Gary Rogers (St Patrick’s Athletic), Alan Mannus (Shamrock Rovers)

Defenders: Pat Sullivan (Shamrock Rovers), Owen Heary (Bohemians), Simon Madden (Dundalk), Stewart Greacen, Shane McEleney (Derry City), Colin Hawkins (Dundalk), Dan Murray, Craig Sives, Ken Oman (Shamrock Rovers), Danny Murphy (Cork City), Daniel Lafferty (Derry City)

Midfielders: Daniel Kearns (Dundalk), Gareth McGlynn (Derry City), Daryl Kavanagh (St Patrick’s Athletic), Gary McCabe (Shamrock Rovers), Barry Molloy, Ruaidhri Higgins (Derry City), Joe Gamble (Limerick), Gary Dempsey (Bray Wanderers), Dave Mulcahy (St Patrick’s Athletic), Dean Bennett (Dundalk), Ronan Finn, Conor McCormack, Stephen Rice (Shamrock Rovers), Killian Brennan (Bohemians), Ross Gaynor (Dundalk), James McClean (Derry City)

Forwards: Gary Twigg, Karl Sheppard (Shamrock Rovers), Eamon Zayed (Derry City), Jason Byrne (Dundalk), Danny North (St Patrick’s Athletic)

Cesc Fabregas Barca Bound

Barcelona’s hopes that their pursuit of Cesc Fàbregas may end successfully this summer have been raised following quotes that were attributed on Monday to a senior Arsenal official.

The source reportedly told the BBC that he expected the club would be forced to sell Fàbregas if a second offer arrived in the coming days that was considered sufficient. “If it’s enough I expect we’ll have to sell,” said the official.

At one level, the comment amounts to a statement of the obvious, as just about any player would be sold from any club in the world if the price was deemed to be high enough. Yet it hints at a subtle change in Arsenal’s stance, and according to sources in Spain Barcelona quickly became aware of the comments. Arsenal immediately rejected Barcelona’s opening offer of £27 million last week but have not made any public comment about their captain.

Last summer, Arsenal issued a public statement at the beginning of June to make it clear they would not countenance any sale.

Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, is understood to be relaxed about the situation and there is a sense that the club’s position has always been that Fabregas will stay unless an acceptable offer comes in.

At what price that line might be drawn is debatable. Last summer, club sources were talking about Fabregas as a player in at least the £45-50 million bracket. The fact that Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll were sold in January for £50 million and £35 million respectively would appear to support that view.

However, Arsenal must also consider his recent injury record and the impact of having a captain who would rather be at Barcelona. While the onus is now on Barcelona to make the next move over Fabregas, Arsenal are working on their own transfer targets. They are interested in Juan Mata, although a fee has yet to be agreed with Valencia. Wenger’s budget for fees and new players’ wages is around £40 million.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Savare Spares Stade Francais Relegation

Stade Francais will not be relegated from the Top 14, French rugby's financial watchdog ruled on Monday night.

The two-time Heineken Cup winners were facing demotion over mounting financial problems, but have been saved by Thomas Savare, the director general of technology company Oberthur.

The DNACG, which supervises administrative, legal and financial issues among France's rugby clubs, ruled at a meeting this evening Stade would retain their top-flight status.

Savare will become the club's new president, according to L'Equipe.

A statement on the Top 14 website read: 'The supreme council of the DNACG observed at the meeting on Monday, June 27, the terms of the reorganisation of Stade Francais Paris and the guarantees provided for the upcoming season through the contributions made by the new investors.

'In view of these, the supreme council believes there is no reason to prevent the club from participating in the Top 14, provided that that all legal procedures related to payments and commitments are achieved within a period of 48 hours.'

Savare, according to L'Equipe, will replace Max Guazzini, who will become honorary president.

'We struggled. This was born out of adversity but we are very happy,' Savare told reporters.

'We saved a great club. This is a private investment of passion because I am a supporter. We will continue the tradition. I told Max that I needed him to rebuild, to continue the work he has done.

'It was not possible for Stade Francais to disappear. This is a wonderful adventure.'

Carragher Says Fear Holds Back England

Carragher spots some faults

Jamie Carragher has admitted there is a fear factor playing for England.

"One mistake and you could be absolutely slaughtered," the Liverpool defender told BBC Radio 5 live.

"At your club, you know you will not be criticised as much and perhaps three days later there will be another game.

"With England, it could be months before you have another fixture. There is a fear at times when playing for England."

Carragher, speaking a year after England's elimination from the World Cup, said players sometimes buckled under the media scrutiny.

I spoke to a few England players who said they were sat in their rooms waiting for the day to passSpurs boss Harry Redknapp

England were knocked out of the World Cup in South Africa by Germany, beaten 4-1 in the second round.

Carragher played in the group games against the United States and Algeria after coming out of international retirement but was on the bench for the defeat by the Germans.

In a BBC Radio 5 live documentary, to be broadcast on Tuesday at 1930 BST, Carragher appeared to criticise England's set-up in South Africa, arguing that players were bored.

"You stay in a hotel all day but you are at a World Cup for a long time and should be able to experience different things," he said.

"I wouldn't want players holed up. Take away the boredom, embrace the country we are in more. You never see anything."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp echoed Carragher's sentiments.

"I spoke to a few players who said they were sat in their rooms waiting for the day to pass," said the Spurs boss. "Some said they were bored out of their brains."

Redknapp also argued that many Premier League footballers now prioritise club football over representing their country.

"The rewards, the money that is involved in club football and the desire to play in the Champions League - it seems the international game is almost taking second stage," he said. "Players are loved by their clubs but not always when they play for their country."

England won only one of their four games in South Africa, recording a 1-0 victory over Slovenia in their final Group C match, and were widely criticised for their poor performances.

Coach Fabio Capello remains in charge and has started to place more faith in youngsters like Jack Wilshere and Adam Johnson.

Former German international and coach Franz Beckenbauer believes Capello should place more trust in his younger players.

"I like Fabio but maybe he still holds on to older players," said Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as a player and as a coach.

"Maybe he should be brave and bring on more youngsters. England always has a lot of youngsters."

Three Lions of Africa, examining England's World Cup failure in South Africa, will be broadcast at 1930 BST on Tuesday, 28 June. Former Football Association executive director David Davies will present the programme and host a studio discussion immediately afterwards.

Monday 27 June 2011

Rafa Nadal Critical of ITF Schedule

Rafael Nadal has launched a scathing attack on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) accusing it of having 'zero consideration' towards players.

The source of the Spanish star's irritation is the ITF's organisation of Davis Cup matches, which he labelled 'inconsiderate'.

Nadal, who is currently in London defending his Wimbledon title, has pulled out of Spain's Davis Cup clash against the United States next month to rest.

The world number one said that the tournament would not be able to attract the top players due to the hectic scheduling by the ITF and risked losing its prestige.

"The International Tennis Federation (ITF) continues to get it wrong by insisting with the format and calendar for the Davis Cup," he said.

"There is zero consideration towards us, the players. If the best players don't attend, the competition loses prestige. The ITF should ask themselves why this happens."

Nadal said that he wanted to remain in top shape for the US Open and had decided not to take part in the Davis Cup match to preserve his health.

"I won't be there," he said. "The priority is to be healthy and I have to stop. I can't be everywhere.

"After finishing the first part of the season I need to rest. I need 15 to 20 days to be in good shape for the second half of the season.

"I should have a check-up on my knees, and see how everything is going with the treatment we did, which is what has allowed me to carry on.

"The idea is to do what I did in 2010 to arrive the same or even better prepared for the US Open."

Women's World No.1 Out of Wimbledon

World number one Caroline Wozniacki crashed out at Wimbledon as Dominika Cibulkova triumphed in three sets to make the quarter-finals.

Wozniacki, 20 is still hunting a Grand Slam trophy and flew through the first set, but was taken to a decider after losing the tie-break in the second.

And Slovakia's 24th seed broke in the 11th game and held serve to shock the Dane and win 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5.

Cibulkova will face 2004 champion Maria Sharapova, who beat Shuai Peng 6-4 6-2.

Fourth seed Victoria Azarenka, 22 in July, eased through her match, beating Russian Nadia Petrova in 64 minutes and will next play Austrian Tamira Paszek or Russian Ksenia Pervak.

German Sabine Lisicki came through a tight opening set to finally see off Petra Cetkovska 7-6 (7-3) 6-1.

Wozniacki's defeat will be the latest frustration for the sport's top-ranked player as she awaits a maiden Grand Slam title.

She reached semi-finals at the US Open in 2010 and the 2011 Australian Open but has failed to progress beyond the fourth round at the All-England Club in five attempts.

However, it was a stunning result for former French Open sem-finalist Cibulkova, 22, who enjoyed a surprise victory over highly rated German Julia Goerges to secure her first appearance in the last 16.

On bouncing back from her first-set demolition, Cibulkova said: "I just had to be more aggressive on return and more confident on my return.

"It was a great win because it's very hard to beat her. She's a very defensive player and you have to go for your shots. I was really risking it, my forehand was really working and I went for it."

Wozniacki took only 24 minutes to breeze through set one and despite being taken to a decider looked set to progress with a 2-0 lead.

And having survived three break points to level at 5-5, it seemed the momentum was back with the Dane, but Cibulkova was relentless and secured her triumph on her third match point.

The Slovakian's reward is a battle with fifth seed Sharapova for a spot in a Wimbledon semi-final.

It was the first time Russian Sharapova had played Peng, seeded 20th, on grass and both struggled with their serves and range early on with error-strewn games.

It went with serve until the ninth game when a double-fault by Peng set the tone and she was broken to 30 with the Russian serving for the set and winning the game to love with some blistering ground strokes.

It was much easier for Sharapova in the second set and she wrapped up the match in one hour 21 minutes, with her fiance, the 6ft 7in New Jersey Nets shooting guard Sasha Vujacic, a vocal supporter.

Phillips Wales Squad Ban Lifted

Phillips in playing action

Mike Phillips' Wales squad ban over a late night incident has been lifted and he is back in their preliminary World Cup squad.

Phillips, 29 has apologised to his team-mates and management.

In a statement, he said: "[I] would like to take this opportunity to do exactly the same to the Welsh rugby public and anyone else who has been offended by this or any other episode."

Phillips added: "There have been times I have let myself down."

The 2009 British and Irish Lions scrum-half has recently joined French Top 14 side Bayonne from the Ospreys, but is now back in contention for a place at the World Cup in New Zealand in the autumn.

Cardiff Blues' Lloyd Williams, who Wales coach Warren Gatland called in to replace Phillips when the ban was announced, remains in the squad.Phillips back as Wales ban lifted

Phillips admits he must now address his off-field behaviour and says he will "seek, help and advice in relation to that issue".

In a statement issued by the Welsh Rugby Union, he said: "This is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to me in my career.

Mike Phillips had been told not to report for training following the incident

"I am ashamed to have let myself get into this kind of situation and I am determined to put things right.

"As a player I'm really passionate and never back down. I know I can't allow that part of my character to come to the surface off the rugby pitch.

"I have realised I have an issue with the way in which I deal with, and have dealt with, the pressures of my current environment and have sought, and will continue to seek, help and advice in relation to that issue."

Phillips says the incident in which he was photographed face down while being restrained by a doorman on a pavement in Cardiff City centre has forced him to face up to his actions.

He added: "The positive thing to come out of everything is that I now fully recognise that I need to deal with these pressures and I am taking every step to ensure that it is resolved.

"I deeply regret my behaviour, my exclusion from the squad took place in the glare of intense publicity and all I can hope for now is the privacy to concentrate totally on convincing the squad management I deserve to keep my place and the public's understanding and support for what I'm trying to do.

"I am a proud Welshman and I remain determined to devote myself to being the best rugby player I can possibly be to gain success for Wales in the World Cup and future tournaments."

Wales twice face England then take on Argentina in August as they build up to the World Cup in New Zealand and coach Gatland says Phillips' return is due to the player being prepared to tackle his behaviour.

"Mike clearly breached the disciplinary code of conduct we have in place and was dealt with decisively and properly," said Gatland.

"We have taken into account all the relevant issues and Mike's apology in taking the decision to reinstate him in the extended RWC squad.

"An important factor in allowing Mike back into the squad was his decision to actively seek help to resolve his behavioural issues."

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis said: "It was very important for us to make it absolutely clear that Welsh rugby will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour.

"The message is now abundantly clear that we represent certain standards which will be maintained at all times both on and off the field of play.

"The Welsh rugby public expect it and deserve it."

Enhanced by Zemanta