Tag Archives: breath

Ronnie O"Sullivan says snooker return could be car crash TV

It could be car crash television, but I'll still be worth watching! Returning O'Sullivan says appearance at Crucible will be like a reality TV show

By
Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:30 GMT, 15 April 2013

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UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 15 April 2013

Snooker's biggest star Ronnie O'Sullivan joked that his return for the Betfair World Championship at the Crucible will be like watching Big Brother.

The 37-year-old has taken most of this season off, but is returning for the spring showpiece in Sheffield.

And he said: 'It's like my own reality TV show. It could be car crash, it could be good. You just don't know.

'I’ve never been one for doing Big Brother but this is about as close as it gets to it. It’s definitely exciting for me and everyone looking in.

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

'If I'm cueing all right and feeling all right, then I should be a match for anyone, but who knows'

The snooker world waits with bated breath to see what kind of form O'Sullivan will be in at the Crucible.

He insists that his desire for success, focus, to lose weight and reconnect with friends encouraged him to return to defend his title.

The 37-year-old Chigwell cueman
confirmed in February that he would defend the title he won 12 months
ago, despite not competing in a tournament since.

'There's a part of me that wants
instant success,' the four-time champion said. 'That would be nice, but
for me it's just about having fun. I felt it was time to have some sort
of focus in my life.

'Running was a massive part of my
life and I found I got that lazy having nothing to do, I had too much
time to even go and run in the end. I started putting weight on.

'I realised that snooker gave me an
opportunity to meet some good people, to travel and that's kind of what I
missed, missing the routine.'

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

O'Sullivan has lost a stone since
deciding to come back by returning to a routine and plans to run during
the 17-day World Championship, which begins on Saturday with his
first-round match against Marcus Campbell.

O'Sullivan believes he has plenty to
offer the game, adding: 'If you look at it statistically I've done
pretty well, but from my own perspective I feel like I've still
underachieved. I'd like to win another world title in my forties. I've
not set myself the goal to win this year's world title because that
would be a bit of a silly goal.

'I'd like to be a world champion when
I'm 40. It gives me a bit of leeway. It's the long game I'm looking at,
rather than just the short-term. This is just the start.'

Winning on his comeback would be an
overwhelming experience, O'Sullivan admitted. 'It would be a fairytale
dream, but last year was my greatest performance,' he said.

'I'd had a good season and it was
expected by pretty much everyone that I was going to win the tournament
before it started. To me that is the ultimate achievement, because
anything other than a win would've been seen as a failure in most
people's eyes.

'This year it's a different ball
game. I've come here with no matches under my belt. It'll just be nice
to be out there playing. I don't have anything to prove to the general
public.'

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

O'Sullivan is something of an enigma
and has worked with Dr Steve Peters, the sports psychiatrist who worked
with British Cycling and whom he now regards as a friend. O'Sullivan is
instinctive in his game and his life and his recent practice sessions
with Peter Ebdon were 'by coincidence' in Sheffield.

'Peter was the only decent player for
me to play. I had no choice,' O'Sullivan said. 'That's not being
horrible because I love Peter. And I can handle him better now since
I've been working with Steve Peters. I wish I'd been working with him 20
years ago.'

O'Sullivan was speaking at the Groucho Club in London's Soho alongside world No 1 Mark Selby, who is favourite for the title.

Selby, described as an 'invoicing
operation' by World Snooker chief Barry Hearn, has won the UK
Championship and Masters tournaments this year and is aiming to become
the fourth player – after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams –
to win the 'triple crown' in the same season.

The 29-year-old from Leicester said:
'It's a tough tournament to win. There's a lot of great players in it.
It's great to have Ronnie back playing as well, so it's going to be
tough.

'He's one of the most natural players
to ever play our game. If any one player can do it (win after a year
out), Ronnie's the person.'

Gary Parkinson, who suffers from locked-in syndrome, home for Christmas

After 27 months in care, Gary Parkinson, the former Blackpool coach who suffers from locked-in syndrome, is home for Christmas

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UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 23 December 2012

Nine-year-old Sophie Parkinson took a deep breath and recited her line: 'I won't be cooking my turkey until Christmas Day because I'll be too busy.'

No doubt more significant words were spoken during Sacred Heart Primary's carol service but few resonated so powerfully with the congregation. In their midst was Sophie's father Gary Parkinson, the reason why this Christmas is so special to her.

The former Blackpool coach has locked-in syndrome. A stroke in 2010 left him paralysed and needing 24-hour residential care. That is until last week, when he returned home permanently.

Debbie Parkinson

Gary Parkinson

Family support: Deborah has been a tower of strength for Gary (right) who suffers from locked-in syndrome

That night in Sacred Heart Church, surrounded by his family, Gary's head lifted to listen intently to his daughter's soft voice. His eyes were bright, welling with tears of pride.

There could be no words, they weren't needed, it was just enough for wife Deborah to recognise the scale of the step forward they had taken.

It has been 27 arduous months since Gary, once a dynamic full-back with Middlesbrough, Preston and Burnley, had a bleed on the brain that crushed his brainstem. His body shut down but his mind and soul were very much alive. He was 42.

The road to recovery as a patient at Priory Highbank Centre for neuro-rehabilitation, near Bury, has been tinted dark and light. The concert marked a new beginning: one the family feared they would never see.

On target: Parkinson enjoyed successful stints at Middlesbrough, Burnley and Preston (pictured)

On target: Parkinson enjoyed successful stints at Middlesbrough, Burnley and Preston (pictured)

'Carol services can be emotional at the best of times,' says Deborah, 'but that was a real tear-jerker. The hymns and carols all seemed to carry greater meaning.

'We've had outings before while Gary was at the centre but this was a big step for us as a family and Gary coped really well. He was so proud of Sophie and everyone there could see that.'

Deborah, a former childminder, shatters the stereotype of a footballer's wife. She is irrepressible. She excuses her croaky voice. It's not down to emotion, but a cold.

Black and white: Gary in a family portrait with Deborah, son Luke and daughters Chloe and Sophie

Black and white: Gary in a family portrait with Deborah, son Luke and daughters Chloe and Sophie

She has beaten red tape and financial obstacles to get her husband of 22 years back to the family home near Bolton. Now a revamp and two-storey extension mean her dream, or at least part of it, has come true. That first night for the reunited family was one to savour.

'After all we have been through, it was just such a lovely, lovely night,' says Deborah. 'It was like a new baby coming home. We were all so excited to have him back where he belongs.'

Gary uses a Tobii, an innovative communication box, to get his message across. A pad, about 12 inches across, reads his eye movement to pick out letters and browse the internet.

Son Luke, 19, a sports journalism student at Leeds University, has already set up dad's favourite sports sites. Eldest daughter Chloe, 16, a tower of strength for her mother, hung on dad's every word.

'We have an armchair next to his bed and we chatted and chatted like a normal family again,' says Deborah.

'The girls made him laugh. It was getting late and every time they said they were going to bed because they had school the next day, he'd mark out the words: “Stay up!” Chloe wanted to act as second carer so ended up staying up to make sure he went to sleep soundly. She went to bed in the early hours.

'We were all nervous about what would happen but once he settled he was fine. He said something lovely, “I feel relaxed”. I just stared at him, he looked so healthy.

'It was a wonderful feeling. A night I'd only dreamed about for two years and thought would never come.'

A trip to the cinema to see Nativity 2 is the family's next planned outing but for now they are just glad to have Gary home.

Back home: The football fraternity have looked out for Parkinson

Back home: The football fraternity have looked out for Parkinson

Although Gary can't eat, he likes to sit at the dining table while everyone else has dinner, a tradition the family has always upheld.

The Tobii box allows him to join in with the banter he honed in dressing rooms as he cracks jokes and chips in with answers to the odd quiz question. He is also something of a backseat driver, where his sense of humour shines through.

'He always said I drove too fast,' Deborah says. 'His eyes go up when I ask him, “Am I driving OK” So I tend to do about 50 or 60 on the motorway when he's with me.'

Gary's care at Priory Highbank was around the clock and cost 4,000 a week. At home, seven nurses care for Gary, two per day, on a rota. Deborah is also a carer.

As she says, 'I've always been one to ask: “How does this work”' From an early stage, she sought inspiration in the words and actions of other sufferers.

One, Kate Allatt, recovered fully and visited Gary to prove 'the impossible was do-able'. Inevitably, downsides have come. Another sufferer, Tony Nicklinson wanted the right to die. His death in August from pneumonia and starvation was sorely felt in the Parkinson household.

'But that was Tony's choice,' says Deborah. At times, the odds seem stacked against them. Yet, like a true football underdog, Deborah won't allow her husband to be beaten.

Positivity remains her motto for the man who once cleaned Andy Gray's boots as an Everton apprentice and thankfully the football fraternity has been there for them.

The PFA have helped financially and chief executive Gordon Taylor visited often during Gary's physiotherapy.

Everton manager David Moyes popped round last week with an invitation to watch training and Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray has asked Gary to scout for him, studying a DVD of players and providing reports on each.

Old team-mates have been frequent visitors. Best man at their wedding, ex-Middlesbrough striker Lee Turnbull, and former Preston and Burnley midfielder David Eyres have been constant sources of strength. The support has been overwhelming at times, especially from the local community.

Deborah adds: 'People want to stop you and offer support but I have good friends who know well enough when not to ask and just say “Come and have a cup of tea”.

'We don't want people to feel sorry for us. Everything has to be positive. Gary is a fighter. The one thing about neuro damage is that no-one can predict how it turns out and you have to hope. 'Who knows what can happen'

For information visit GaryParky.co.uk. Donations are welcome to the Gary Parkinson Trust Fund.

Charlie Beljan has three stroke lead in Children"s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic

Beljan overcomes health scare to take three stroke lead in Florida

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UPDATED:

01:16 GMT, 10 November 2012

Charlie Beljan defied a health scare to take a halfway three-stroke lead in the the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Florida.

The American, who suffers from asthma, had to rest on several occasions during his round after battling shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate.

Out in front: Charlie Beljan leads the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals golf tournament in Lake Buena Vista

Out in front: Charlie Beljan leads the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals golf tournament in Lake Buena Vista

The 28-year-old was expected to be taken to hospital after recording a magnificent 64, which moved him to 12 under par overall.

'I think he's scared,' Beljan's caddie Rick Adcox told the Golf Channel. 'He kept saying he thought he was going to die.'

'I've got to give Charlie credit for what he did. I thought he was going to quit out there a few times. Unbelievable.'

'A couple of times I thought he might pass out,” Adcox added.

'He just said, 'I'm gonna keep going until I pass out or they take me off,' and I kept saying 'it doesn't matter to me, it's only a golf tournament'.'

Beljan was reportedly struggling throughout, with medical personnel keeping a close watch on him for much of his back nine.

He was eight under for his round after 11 holes, carding two eagles and four birdies.
He then bogeyed the par-four 12th before picking up back-to-back shots on his next two holes although he dropped back to eight under for his round at the 17th.

Despite clearly struggling, he courageously carried on and managed to hit a brilliant up-and-down for par on the final hole before bursting into tears.

'He was trying to keep upright,” playing partner Ed Loar said. 'Hopefully he'll be all right. It was pretty bizarre.'

Overnight leader Charlie Wi was among seven players three strokes behind Beljan.
The Korean, without a win on the PGA Tour, failed to build on yesterday's magnificent 64 after recording a one-under-par 71.

He enjoyed mixed fortunes on the Magnolia course with five birdies and four bogeys.
Australia's Matt Jones put himself into contention with an excellent round of 64 to join Wi, Ryuji Imada, Harris English, Charles Howell III, Mark Anderson and Henrik Stenson on nine under overall.

Michael Hills fails breath test at Newmarket

Hills misses final races of career after failing breath test at Newmarket

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 3 November 2012

Michael Hills was forced to miss his intended farewell at Newmarket after failing a breath test before racing.

The 49-year-old had five booked mounts at Headquarters, his final rides before he retired from the saddle.

However, he was stood down for the day by the stewards after returning a positive test before the action began.

Over and out: Michael Hills with brother Richard at his retirement presentation

Over and out: Michael Hills with brother Richard at his retirement presentation

While the Flat season officially ends next Saturday, Hills confirmed he will not ride on into the final week.

He announced only last month he would retire at the end of the current campaign.

He has ridden over 2,000 winners and signs off the same year as his twin brother Richard, who decided the time was right to call it quits in March.

Michael Hills won the 1996 Derby on the William Haggas-trained Shaamit and was champion apprentice in 1983.

Among the best horses he rode were Royal Applause, trained by his father Barry, and Pentire who won the King VI And Queen Elizabeth and Irish Champion Stakes.

Among his other big-race winners were La Cucaracha, First Island, Handsome Sailor and Equiano.

His final winner came only on Friday when he partnered Winter Song, trained by his brother Charlie, to victory at Newmarket.

Kyle Walker: We love playing under Andre Villas-Boas

We love playing under AVB, insists Spurs full-back Walker

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 15 September 2012

Anyone who thinks the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas in succession to Harry Redknapp was a dangerous gamble should think again, according to the club's England full-back Kyle Walker.

Tottenham travel to Reading seeking their first Premier League win after a shaky start that has yielded just two points from three games, but Walker says everyone has been pulling in the same direction since Villas- Boas was controversially appointed Redknapp's successor, despite having been sacked by Chelsea in March.

High praise: Kyle Walker says AVB has impressed at Spurs

High praise: Kyle Walker says AVB has impressed at Spurs

As part of the new broom sweeping into Spurs, last week the club used their new 45million state-of-the-art training ground for the first time.

Walker is convinced it will revive their fortunes with Villas-Boas in charge, even though the 34-year-old has a record of just three wins from his last 15 games in the top flight.

International acclaim: Walker is now and England regular

International acclaim: Walker is now and England regular

'The gaffer has been top-class tactically and training-wise it's the hardest I can ever remember in my career,' said Walker.

'Results may not have come but it takes time to gel. Personally, I don't feel any pressure. If you feel pressure in football, you're not going to play your best. Once we put into practice what we are working on in training, we could go out and beat someone 6-0. I'm certain it will come good.'

Rumour has it that, in the last few months of Redknapp's four-year reign, some players were uncomfortable with his coaching methods – or lack of them.

And according to Walker, Villas-Boas has been a breath of fresh air.

'I was excited when he got the job. Chelsea are Chelsea, Spurs are Spurs,' said Walker, who was talking at the launch of the FIFA 13 Demo.

'There has been no bickering whatsoever. The gaffer before was very old school but it's modern- day football now. It's fast, it's quick, the tempo is frightening.'

Walker revealed how his fellow England full-back Ashley Cole played up the credentials of AVB despite the well-chronicled fallouts at Stamford Bridge.

He said: 'Ashley had nothing but positive things to say about him.

'I remember playing against Ashley when the gaffer was at Chelsea. He was incredibly difficult to mark because of the way the gaffer gets his full-backs playing.

'Jose Mourinho was known as the Special One – maybe he learned from him.'

Kyle Walker appears in EA SPORTS FIFA13, available on iOS on Sept 25 and on all formats on Sept 28. Download the DEMO now on PS3, Xbox and PC.

Guly Do Prado banned from driving

Southampton ace Do Prado slapped with 12-month ban after drink-drive guilty verdict

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UPDATED:

11:59 GMT, 12 September 2012

All smiles: Do Prado leaves Southampton Magistrates Court

All smiles: Do Prado leaves Southampton Magistrates Court

Southampton striker Guly Do Prado has been banned from the road for a year and fined 2,500 after admitting drink-driving.

Do Prado was stopped by police in Southampton on August 27 while driving his 70,000 black Porsche Panamera in the early hours.

Officers were responding to reports of a possible drink-driver and followed the two-year-old car before stopping it in the city's High Street at 4.35am, Southampton Magistrates' Court heard.

The Brazilian-born 30-year-old failed the breath test and was found to have 57 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Dressed in a grey suit jacket, grey cardigan and ripped jeans, Do Prado came to court with several minders. At one point he was told by the court clerk to take his hands out of his pockets.

Ban: The Southampton star was also fined 2,500

Ban: The Southampton star was also fined 2,500

Philip Somarakis, in mitigation, said: 'There is no suggestion that Mr Do Prado's driving was affected. He was respectful and compliant.

'He is very sorry to be appearing before the court and bringing unwanted attention on him and his club.'

Mr Somarakis said Do Prado's club had already dealt with the matter but he did not give details of any sanction.

The player, whose full name is Guilherme Do Prado Raymundo, and who lives in Channel Way, Southampton, was also ordered to pay 85 costs and a 15 victim surcharge.

He was told that if he paid for and completed a drink-drive awareness course he would receive a 25 per cent reduction in his ban.

US Open 2012: Andy Murray wins, beating Novak Djokovic

Major Murray! Grand slam glory for Andy after one of history's greatest matches

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UPDATED:

02:23 GMT, 11 September 2012

It was a celestial wind that blew Andy Murray to a magnificent victory in the US Open last night, perhaps blown from Fred Perry somewhere on high down on the country he ended up calling home.

From some source – who knows what – Murray found the momentum to take a dramatic deciding set with a monumental display of guts when it had looked like his legs were going to buckle.

Just champion: Andy Murray has made history with victory in the US Open final over Novak Djokovic

Just champion: Andy Murray has made history with victory in the US Open final over Novak Djokovic

Epic: Murray sealed his glory with a kiss after a match which fell a minute short of the longest ever US Open final

Epic: Murray sealed his glory with a kiss after a match which fell a minute short of the longest ever US Open fina

Epic: Murray sealed glory with a kiss after a match which fell a minute short of the longest ever US Open final

Epic: Murray sealed his glory with a kiss after a match which fell a minute short of the longest ever US Open final

This time he was too tired to cry, he could barely walk. History will record it as a minor detail that the 25-year-old Scot, like Perry something of an outsider, just about handled the prevailing gusts better than his old rival Novak Djokovic to win his first Grand Slam title.

Far more important is the fact that Perry’s ghost may have exhaled its last breath in its haunting of British tennis, with the 76-year wait to find his successor as a major winner finally at an end.

That finally came to pass as New York was brought to its feet when Djokovic blasted a final return long, the two men embracing at the net. It concluded a wildly undulating, gripping 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 victory that took four hours and 54 minutes.

Disbelieving: Murray's reaction was one of wonder and amazement as he dropped to his haunches

Disbelieving: Murray's reaction was one of wonder and amazement as he dropped to his haunches

Welcome to the club, pal: Djokovic was gracious in defeat and hailed his old friend's achievement

Welcome to the club, pal: Djokovic was gracious in defeat and hailed his old friend's achievement

Murray said: ‘It was incredibly tough
conditions. After the third and fourth set it was tough mentally. Novak
is so strong, he fights until the end in every math. I don’t know how I
came through in the end.

‘Ivan Lendl has been one of the
greatest players that ever played, it has been great to have him helping
me in the tense moments, not just him but everyone who has been here
from the start .’

In front of Scottish knights Sir Alex
Ferguson and Sir Sean Connery, Murray met with the destiny that had
been denied him four times before, and there will be those who believe
the younger man now deserves the same prefix.

Stunning: Both players had to contest with high winds early on, but Flushing Meadows still looked beautiful

Stunning: Both players had to contest with high winds early on, but Flushing Meadows still looked beautiful

Stunning: Both players had to contest with high winds early on, but Flushing Meadows still looked beautiful

Stunning: Both players had to contest with high winds early on, but Flushing Meadows still looked beautiful

The biggest set of Murray’s life, the
fifth, began with the momentum in the defending champion’s favour, but
Murray, who in sets three and four had drifted into the back court,
showed new purpose and secured the break.

The Djokovic fightback further had
its sting drawn when Murray consolidated the break for 2-0, the
athleticism of the two players belying the the four-and-a-quarter hours
they had played.

Suddenly the Serb started to miss again and, when a forehand was sent limply into the net, Murray was two breaks to the good.

Reaching for the top: At times Djokovic seemed out on his feet but he kept on fighting for each point

Reaching for the top: At times Djokovic seemed out on his feet but he kept on fighting for each point

Eyes on the prize: Murray, too, wobbled when seemingly comfortable, but regained his full focus

Eyes on the prize: Murray, too, wobbled when seemingly comfortable, but regained his full focus

But then that jaw-jutting, proud
Djokovic pout returned, skidding around the court to pull back to 3-2
down. When the Scot easily held for 4-2 to deafening acclaim, we started
to see the Serb crack physically, his legs going into cramp.

Djokovic called the trainer on for a
rub of his thighs while the crowd booed and Murray waited to serve. The
legs went again, though, and Murray’s path to glory was cleared, serving
it out superbly, courageously to 15.

Anyone who saw the opening-set
tiebreak would have been glad they did, not that the passages before it
were shabby in view of the conditions.

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

With the wind cascading down the
steep banks of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Murray’s gale force win against
Berdych was proving perfect preparation, but even when he wriggled ahead
to 4-2 Djokovic kept snapping away.

With risk management to the fore, one
rally took a staggering 54 strokes to complete before Murray
capitulated. /09/10/article-2201319-14F2D442000005DC-19_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Tit for tat: There were occasions when both players seemed to let the occasion get to them” class=”blkBorder” />

Tit for tat: There were occasions when both players seemed to let the occasion get to them

Tit for tat: There were occasions when both players seemed to let the occasion get to them

But another groundstroke from the
world No 2 went long and this time Murray, steadying himself as the
breeze ruffled his shirt, pulled out a first serve which Djokovic sent
beyond the baseline.

Tellingly the Scot had stepped up the power and cut his margin for error in the last few points.

Though he would never show it, old
stoneface Lendl will have been doing cartwheels inside. The tiebreak’s
duration would have taken you much of the way to half-time in a football
match, the whole first set had taken 87 minutes and the points tally in
it was 46-44.

Tricky times: Murray and Djokovic had to find that little bit extra as they teetered on the brink of despair

Tricky times: Murray and Djokovic had to find that little bit extra as they teetered on the brink of despair

Tricky times: Murray and Djokovic had to find that little bit extra as they teetered on the brink of despair

There was going be a psychological
backdraft from it, and this time Murray was able drive on, as we have
only seen him do in the Olympic final among the biggest matches of his
career.

With Djokovic starting to wear a
rueful grin the first four games were won, and even after ceding a break
it was 5-3. A horrible, error-strewn bid to close it down came to
nothing and the Serb was believing again with the purpose that has seen
him win five Grand Slams.

Murray was now intermittently
grabbing his thigh, signalling tension-induced cramp. With the two and
half hour mark looming after less than two sets that was an ominous
warning with the threat of an attritional war coming on.

Court coverage: The athleticism of both men was awesome, with rallies lasting more than 30 shots

Court coverage: The athleticism of both men was awesome, with rallies lasting more than 30 shots

Drama to the last: With one game to go, Djokovic, who had seized up, called for a medical time out

Drama to the last: With one game to go, Djokovic, who had seized up, called for a medical time out

But a difference between this year
and last for Djokovic is his shifting focus and at 6-5 he pulled out a
hideous wide smash, which was followed by a dragged forehand to give
Murray the biggest break of his career.

What he has not forgotten is how to
fight and, cutting his error count to virtually nothing and serving
better, came back ferociously to take the third and fourth sets, before
the strain of pulling level led to a sensational conclusion.

WHY MURRAY'S WIN WAS NEVER IN DOUBT

The omens were good. Fred Perry (below) was the last British man to win a major, the 1936 US Open, and three years earlier broke his Grand Slam duck at the tournament… on September 10.

The only other British winner of the US Open was Laurence Doherty in 1903 – after winning Olympic gold at the 1900 Paris Games, just as Murray did in London.

Fred J. Perry

Steven Gerrard backs Raheem Sterling to shine following first England call-up

Liverpool's 'shining light': Gerrard backs whizzkid Sterling to become England regular

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UPDATED:

15:50 GMT, 10 September 2012

Steven Gerrard is backing teenage forward Raheem Sterling to become an England regular after he earned a late call-up for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine at Wembley.

However, England skipper Gerrard does not want too much pressure to be placed on the 17-year-old's shoulders so that he can be allowed to develop as a player.

Sterling is unlikely to feature against Ukraine after being called up along with Southampton captain Adam Lallana and Tottenham midfielder Jake Livermore.

He'll be a star: England's Steven Gerrard (left) has backed his Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling to become a regular on the international stage after manager Roy Hodgson (right) called him up to the squad

He'll be a star: England's Steven Gerrard (left) has backed his Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling to become a regular on the international stage after manager Roy Hodgson (right) called him up to the squad

Promotion: Sterling, 17, has previously represented England at Under-19 level

Promotion: Sterling, 17, has previously represented England at Under-19 level

The trio are there as cover in case England suffer any more withdrawals after Theo Walcott was ruled out through illness and Daniel Sturridge is laid low with stomach cramps.

But Gerrard has no doubts that his Reds team-mate will eventually step up on to the international stage as a fully fledged international.

Gerrard said: 'He is a fantastic talent, one of the shining lights at our club this year, even though results haven't been good enough.

'It is great for him to be called up and get a feel for the senior group because it won't be too long before he becomes a regular in this group. He is that good.

'He is a mature 17 year old. There is nothing flash about him at all. He is a quiet kid. He works hard and listens and that is the key when you are that age and a good player.

'If you can listen and take advice from good managers and players, you will keep on progressing and improving.

'He is a breath of fresh air, especially for the older lads, with the pace and excitement he brings. He is a nightmare to mark for defenders.'

Breakthrough: Sterling has impressed for Liverpool in his first few games this season

Breakthrough: Sterling has impressed for Liverpool in his first few games this season

But Gerrard also stressed: 'Let's be patient with him. Let's not force it and expect too much too soon.

'Let it happen naturally and in time we will have a fantastic player for Liverpool and England.

'Of course, a lot more people follow the game, social media, and the impact of the Premier League is world wide. The expectations are high with young kids.

'It is different for the young lads now, there is a lot more pressure on them. It's important the people around them support them and give them the back-up they need.

'Just because you break into an England squad, or played a handful of games for your club, it doesn't mean you are the finished article.

'There is still so much improving and learning for these guys to do.'

Livermore made his England debut against Italy in Berne last month but it is the first call-up for Sterling and Lallana.

Consummate professional: Gerrard (right) was outstanding against Moldova in England's opening World Cup qualifier

Consummate professional: Gerrard (right) was outstanding against Moldova in England's opening World Cup qualifier

England head coach Roy Hodgson said: 'Their early performances for Southampton and Liverpool this year have been very impressive.

'Lallana is a player I've known about and watched even when Southampton were in the Championship because, as a club coach, he has been on the radar of players to watch and possibly attempt to buy.

'It is good he has confirmed what we have already thought, that he is a talent.

'With Raheem, in the past two years he has come on leaps and bounds and in the opening matches he has played this season, the reports on him have been very good.

'I shall make it clear to him that I am not bringing him with a view to necessarily playing him now.

'I'm bringing in more because there might be a time in the future when not only does he feature as a substitute, he might even be breaking his way into the team.'

Gerrard knows England will have to be on top of their game against Ukraine as they look to follow up the 5-0 win in Moldova on Friday with another victory.

Next generation: Hodgson has called up Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore into the England squad for the Ukraine match

Next generation: Hodgson has called up Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jake Livermore into the England squad for the Ukraine match

He concedes England were fortunate to win the Euro 2012 clash between the two countries in Donetsk.

Gerrard said: 'We need to build on the Moldova game, try and improve and keep learning. The performance was positive on Friday but tomorrow will be a bigger test.

'They are a group of players who have played together for a long time. Technically they are very good. If you stand-off these players, they can hurt you.

'There were times in the Euros when we gave them too much respect and stood off them and they had a few dangerous opportunities to score.

'Over the 90 minutes they could feel hard done by not to have got at least a point.

'But we won the game, did what we needed to do, and hopefully we can get the same outcome tomorrow.'

Gerrard will win his 98th cap tomorrow tonight and could now reach the 100 mark against San Marino next month in the same match as Ashley Cole, who is currently side-lined with an ankle injury.

He said: 'That would be a nice touch for both of us. But the important focus is to get to the World Cup.

'Individual achievements are always nice along the way but I'm more interested in the points tomorrow night.'

Kevin Pietersen England future is dependent on his attitude – Lawrence Booth

KP's England future is more dependent on his attitude than he may realise

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UPDATED:

11:33 GMT, 4 September 2012

It's been a madcap month for followers of English cricket. Kevin Pietersen is on the naughty step, Andrew Strauss has graduated to real life, the Test reign is over and the Alastair Cook era has begun.

Oh, and the armchair critics have had a ball. But what have we learned The Top Spin takes a deep breath – and a, er, provocative look back.

All change: Strauss has exited all forms of cricket, but can KP make a return

All change: Strauss has exited all forms of cricket, but can Pietersen make a return

More from Lawrence Booth…

The Top Spin: Strauss's future uncertain after mid-table mediocrity takes hold at precisely the wrong moment
21/08/12

The Top Spin: Don't judge Pietersen – leave that up to Flower and Strauss
14/08/12

The Top Spin: Pietersen chasing omnium of desires… love, 10,000 Test runs and to be rich
07/08/12

The Top Spin at the Test: Headingley – the ground where Weird Things Happen (And Mainly To England)
02/08/12

The Top Spin: Are England in it for the long haul at the top of the world rankings
31/07/12

The Top Spin: South Africa outplayed England at their own game… pray for cloud cover at Headingley and Lord's
24/07/12

The Top Spin: Strength in depth gives England the edge against South Africa
17/07/12

The Top Spin: Aussies must find 'mongrel' for the Ashes… or England will stay top dogs
10/07/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

There's nothing like a platitude, is there

There sure isn't. Try this one: the best teams know how to manage their most difficult players. Shucks. If only Andy Flower had realised!

While some have pontificated from afar about the nuts and bolts of man-management, cheerfully applying general principles to a complex situation, Flower and Co have spent the past few months dedicating more energy to one cricketer than even Don Bradman would have deserved.

England did not become No 1 by making it up as they went along. They did so by squeezing every last drop out of a very good – but not great – team.

Boring though it sounds, they specialised in sensible decisions. The dropping of Kevin Pietersen was not carried out with a jerk of the knee. Only team insiders know when enough is enough. The rest is just theorising.

But England would have won the Lord's Test if KP had been playing!

Probably not, Piers. Pietersen might have scored more than Jonny Bairstow's first-innings 95, but his career stats suggest he had only a one-in-five chance of doing so. And the fourth-innings run-chase

Well, KP's fourth-innings Test average is 40, and only one of his 21 Test hundreds was made in the fourth innings. Bairstow made 54. Again, we're into the realms of wishful thinking. There really is no cricketer as great as one who isn't playing…

Still, all those leaks, eh Eh!

Oh, for a leak from the ECB! According to sections of Twitter, any news story published on the Pietersen affair in the past month was yet another scandalous example of the ECB cherry-picking their journalists. If only.

What looks like a leak is usually – not always, but usually – the result of persistent journalism. And if I explain any more, I'll have to kill you.

Have you heard the news Despite Strauss's departure, Pietersen's return to England set-up isn't guaranteed

Have you heard the news Despite Strauss's departure, Pietersen's return to England set-up isn't guaranteed

Wouldn't Strauss still be captain if Textgate hadn't happened

Doubt it. Strauss said himself at last week's press conference he had been thinking about retiring for the previous 'six to 12 months'.

His close friend Angus Fraser has written that Strauss had been discussing the possibility with him over a pint some time ago, well before Pietersen's latest stint as enfant terrible. Like Flower, he is not a man inclined to the rash decision.

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Conspiracists love the idea that Pietersen helped bring down Strauss, but conspiracists tend to ignore the evidence. Strauss had played 100 Tests, 50 of them as captain. He was no longer scoring any meaningful runs. England had lost six Tests out of 11 since ascending to No 1. He's 35.

Next up was a trip to India, where things were not going to get any easier. If Pietersen featured at all in his list of reasons for retiring, it would have been somewhere near the bottom.

Now that Strauss has gone, Pietersen's chances of a return have improved, right

Not quite yet. But the England set-up is a pragmatic place, and Cook knows that Pietersen's presence in India paves the way, in theory, for some Colombo-style match-winning genius. After all, what's not to like about a top seven of Cook, Trott, Bell, Pietersen, Morgan, Bairstow and Prior

First things first, however. Pietersen has to apologise properly and in person, not just for the texts, but for generally annoying the hell out of his team-mates. And he has to promise to behave. If that sounds like the language of the class room, then – well – you tailor your vocabulary accordingly.

Who's to blame Strauss's list of reasons for retiring is long, KP's involvement would feature near the bottom

Who's to blame Strauss's list of reasons for retiring is long, KP's involvement would feature near the bottom

And what about Pietersen's own gripes

Flower has admitted he should have handled the fake Twitter account better. The message to the dressing room should have been: why tease a guy who doesn't enjoy being teased

But it seems fairly clear that the tittering was a symptom of a wider malaise, and it's the malaise that needs addressing.

Pietersen can do this if he shakes off his own sense of grievance. His England future is more dependent on his attitude than he may realise.

Does the Top Spin want to see Pietersen play for England again

Yes please.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WASLet's hear it for Mankad

As a Northamptonshire supporter who has never quite got over the last ball of the 1981 NatWest Trophy final, when the non-striker – Geoff Miller of Derbyshire – was halfway down the pitch before the delivery had even been sent down, we've always had a sneaking regard for a Mankading or two.

And so the Top Spin couldn't quite believe our ears when Surrey captain Gareth Batty was forced to apologise after Murali Kartik had enacted the very deed to get rid of Somerset’s Alex Barrow in last week's Championship game at Taunton.

Not only do the Laws make provision for the Mankading: it is a necessary corrective for batsmen who plainly care nothing for the so-called spirit of the game when they wander out of their crease in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage. Kartik, it seems, had already warned Barrow.

So why the bleating The answer is simple: no other sport, with the possible exception of golf, regards itself quite so smugly as cricket.

Flashpoint: Kartik and Batty were involved in one of the season's more dramatic events

Flashpoint: Kartik and Batty were involved in one of the season's more dramatic events

England's bowling all-rounder

Ravi Bopara may have stopped scoring runs ever since he pulled out of Headingley Test squad for personal reasons (that’s 28 runs in seven innings now), but the man just can't help hustling through tidy spells of medium-pace.

Hot on the heels of figures of 10-1-31-1 at The Kia Oval, Bopara took 2 for 34 off nine overs on Sunday at Lord's. Among non-Associate bowlers in 2012, only West Indian Sunil Narine (3.44) has a better economy-rate than Bopara's 3.46. For the wrong reasons, he is becoming hard to drop.

Ghosts of interviews past

There are those who feel Kevin Pietersen has, in part, been a victim of a media witch-hunt. Others wonder whether Pietersen might occasionally help himself.

In an interview with The Cricketer – held before Headingley and the texts but published only last week – he explains how delighted he was to have retired from limited-overs internationals: 'Hey, a game called off in Leeds or 35 degrees on a beach in Portugal It's a no-brainer.'

So much of a no-brainer that – not long after, faced with the prospect of entire summers spent reflecting on his good fortune on the Algarve – Pietersen promptly made himself available again for ODI and international Twenty20 cricket.

In his now infamous YouTube interview, Pietersen chuckles about his tendency to 'shoot from the hip'. He didn’t need to add that the gun seems forever directed straight at his own foot.

No-brainer KP removed his name for short-form selection... then promptly changed his mind

No-brainer KP removed his name for short-form selection… then promptly changed his mind

Whoa!

Memo to the ICC: the surest way of turning fans against the team rankings is to update them after every single one-day international. In the England-South Africa series, the No 1 spot has already changed hands twice, which may ensure publicity while hacks feel obliged to mention the tussle in their intros but does little for credibility.

Last week England were No 1 until Tuesday, No 2 for most of the rest of the week, then No 1 again by Friday evening. You may have missed the developments if you popped out to put the kettle on. The Test rankings are updated after every series, and as a result are treated with a degree of respect. Why not do the same for one-day cricket

Liam Plunkett banned from driving again

England bowler Plunkett in second drink-drive ban

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UPDATED:

19:34 GMT, 15 August 2012

In court: Plunkett has been banned for a second time

In court: Plunkett has been banned for a second time

Durham star Liam Plunkett was banned from driving for a second time on Tuesday after he was caught behind wheel while more than twice over the legal limit.

The 27-year-old fast bowler was driving to an all-night garage for food, having returned home from an evening out with friends, when he was stopped, Peterlee Magistrates' Court heard.

He was arrested at around 3.10am on July 28 after he was stopped on the A690 Leazes Bowl, Durham, in his Jaguar XJ.

His reading was 74mg of alcohol in
100ml of breath when the limit is 35mg. Blair Martin, prosecuting, said
Plunkett was stopped because his headlights were not on, and officers
smelled intoxicants.

County Cricket blog

He was taken to Durham City Police Station where he provided two breath samples.

'The police have noted during
procedures the defendant was co-operative, (he had) red eyes, speech
slightly slurred,' Mr Martin said.

Magistrates were told Plunkett was convicted for drink driving in February 2007 and was banned for 20 months.

International: Plunkett has played in nine Tests for England

International: Plunkett has played in nine Tests for England

Mark
Haslam, defending, said: 'His decision to drive was completely
unjustified and completely illogical. 'He has been in this position
before, he should have known better.'

Plunkett had been out and returned home in a taxi with friends.

'He did everything right until somebody wanted some food. He took the decision to drive a very short distance to an all-night garage to get some food,' Mr Haslam said.

Plunkett is currently injured and is not sure when he will be fit again, Mr Haslam said, and his financial circumstances were worse than in 2007 when he was playing for England and his county.

The Jaguar was loaned from a firm and will be returned. Jeff Gray, chairman of the bench, said Plunkett would be fined 1,000 and must pay 100 costs.

He was banned from driving for 40 months, which will be reduced to 30 months if he completes a drink driving awareness course. It will be the second time he has taken such a course, the court heard, although it has changed in the last five years.

Plunkett, originally from Middlesbrough, has played in nine Tests and 29 One Day Internationals. The 6ft 3in player is recovering from an achilles injury which prevents him from playing.

The bowler, of Roundhaven, Durham, was driven to court by his solicitor in a Range Rover.

Video: Liam Plunkett's solicitor makes a brief statement outside court

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