Tag Archives: killer

Grand National 2013: Last year"s fatalities put jump racing under the microscope

Grand National faces biggest test with fatalities putting jump racing under the microscope

By
Marcus Townend

PUBLISHED:

21:04 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:04 GMT, 3 April 2013

Four Grade One races of rare quality grace today’s opening day of Aintree’s Grand National meeting while tomorrow the clash between steeplechase superstar Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card and Flemenstar is being billed as the race of the season.

But which horses pass the winning line first over the next three days won’t matter a jot if Saturday’s big race turns into another visceral examination of jump racing.

Twelve months ago, when two horses were killed for a second year running, including Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised, the joy was squeezed out of the victory of Neptune Collonges.

Scroll down for Peter Scudamore's inside track on Aintree's new fences

Preparations: Aintree ground staff were tending to the new safer fences ahead of the three-day meeting

Preparations: Aintree ground staff were tending to the new safer fences ahead of the three-day meeting

The deaths of Synchronised and According To Pete raised questions as to whether the race could even survive in its present form.

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant called the deaths ‘totally unacceptable’ while branding the famous Becher’s Brook, where According To Pete was brought down before being hit by another horse, a ‘killer fence’. A nervous calm precedes this year’s race but a major modification to the fences’ construction has been welcomed (see graphic above).

Spokesmen for the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare deny the race is on trial but another body blow would be serious given a sponsor is being sought with John Smiths leaving after Saturday’s race.

Finishing touch: The grass on the Grand National finish line was cut this week before the Aintree showpiece

Finishing touch: The grass on the Grand National finish line was cut this week before the Aintree showpiece

WHW chief executive Roly Owers said: ‘There is still huge support for the race but there also are increasing voices within racing questioning whether the National is doing the sport any good. The warning bells have sounded and Aintree have recognised that.

‘Our biggest issue with the National is the number of fallers. It is five times higher than a normal steeplechase. The fewer fallers, the less chance of injury. The changes to the fence core are a real step forward and we also welcome the improvements in irrigation.

‘We recognise you can’t eliminate risk. The responsibility is to minimise it.’

WHW have repeated a call to reduce the number of starters.Owers said: ‘We believe there should be a trial reduction of three years. We recognise it has to be a great test but you can’t just accept the regular death of horses.’

Scrutiny: Last year's Grand National (above) saw the fatalities of According to Pete and Synchronised

Scrutiny: Last year's Grand National (above) saw the fatalities of According to Pete and Synchronised

RSPCA equine consultant David Muir added: ‘With 40 runners, you have 40 chances of things going wrong. I’d like to see them reduce it to 30 but we don’t run racing.’

Jockeys have been asked to moderate their speed to the first fence and the run-up to it has been shortened by 90 yards by moving the start further away from the unsettling cauldron of noise coming from of the grandstands.

Jamie Stier, BHA director of raceday operations, said: ‘The changes are all designed for horse welfare but at the same time we have maintained the shape, size and character of the fences.

Fences

‘People have to understand the position of the race within the fabric of society. Attendance figures last year were 155,000 at the meeting and more people watch the Grand National on TV than the FA Cup final — more than 11million — with a global audience of 600m in 140 countries.

‘We don’t feel it is on trial. It is down to the BHA and Aintree to find a way forward.’

Still, a lot of people will be holding their breath on Saturday.

Peter Scudamore looks at the major fences at this year's Grand…

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France v Spain preview – Giants prepare to meet in crunch clash in bid to reach World Cup

Le Crunch: All eyes on Paris as France host stuttering Spain in World Cup clash that could send champions tumbling towards play-offs

quarter-final in Donetsk” class=”blkBorder” />

Killer blow: Xabi Alonso opens the scoring for Spain against France in the Euro 2012 quarter-final in Donetsk

All-time Record

Played 32
Spain wins 11
France wins 14
Drawn 7

Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane could win his second cap by virtue of his more intricate knowledge of the Spanish forwards.

The Spanish – as is their way – will take nothing less than three points to recover the initiative in Group I with three matches remaining.

'The only thing that changes is that a draw with France now isn't enough,' Cesc Fabregas said. 'But the idea was always to go to France aiming for a victory.

'We will be highly motivated and we will have to bring out the best in ourselves.'

Draw is not enough: Cesc Fabregas, in action here in the return fixture in Gijon, says Spain will be going all out for the win

Draw is not enough: Cesc Fabregas, in action here in the return fixture in Gijon, says Spain will be going all out for the win

European World Cup qualifying Group I

Turning possession into goals is Spain's priority and the country's all-time leading scorer David Villa, who netted on their last visit to Paris in a 2-0 friendly victory in 2010, was confident of success.

'We were going there for a win anyway and now we do so with a stronger motive,' the Barcelona striker said after the Finland game.

'Our way of playing is always the same. Even if we had beaten Finland we would have played the same in Saint-Denis. We aren't thinking of the playoffs, or anything else beyond getting a win against France on Tuesday.'

When Spain beat Italy to win their third straight major title at last year's European Championship, it was unthinkable they could be absent from the Rio football carnival.

Following a run of 24 consecutive qualifying wins, they have slumped to back-to-back draws with France and Finland, having beaten Georgia and Belarus earlier in the campaign.

For once, Spain appear to be there for the taking, though much will depend on striker Benzema, who has scored just three times in his last 23 outings for France.

Certain sections of the French media have called for him to be dropped as a result, but Deschamps has no such intention.

'I believe in Karim,' he said unequivocally.

Thankfully for Deschamps, other sectors of the French attack are in full flow, with winger Franck Ribery and attacking midfielder Mathieu Valbuena in excellent form – particularly Valbuena, who scored a great goal against Georgia and created the other two.

'We ask attacking players to be decisive, and Valbuena is just that,' Deschamps said. 'He's full of confidence and it shows.'

Jubilation: Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery celebrate after the former scores against Georgia

Jubilation: Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery celebrate after the former scores against Georgia

Dropped points: Cazorla and teammates at the end of Spain's 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday evening

Dropped points: Cazorla and teammates at the end of Spain's 1-1 draw with Finland on Friday evening

Deschamps has high praise for Giroud, too, but suggested he could be more useful using his aerial threat against a tiring defence.

'He has that ability, and that's a weapon I can obviously use at any time,' Deschamps said.

Spain's Santi Cazorla knows all about Giroud, playing alongside him for Arsenal, and considers him to be an equal threat to Benzema.

'They are very different. Olivier has killer instincts, a penalty box player,' Cazorla said. 'Karim is a playmaker, he enters in open play more. They are two great players.'

Probable teams:

France: Hugo Lloris; Christophe Jallet, Mamadou Sakho, Raphael Varane, Patrice Evra; Moussa Sissoko, Blaise Matuidi, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Valbuena, Franck Ribery; Karim Benzema

Spain: Victor Valdes; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Nacho Monreal; Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta; Cesc Fabregas, David Villa

West Ham 2 Tottenham 3: match report – Gareth Bale scores winner

West Ham 2 Tottenham 3: Brilliant Bale hits last-gasp stunner to hand Spurs all three points

PUBLISHED:

21:54 GMT, 25 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:16 GMT, 25 February 2013

Gareth Bale scored another stunning goal to ensure Tottenham left Upton Park with all three points.

Jussi Jaaskelainen appeared to have kept the Hammers on terms after some remarkable second-half saves, but the Welshman carried the ball to the edge of the box in the 90th minute before letting fly with an unstoppable curling shot, notching up his ninth goal in seven games for club and country.

Bale had opened the scoring before Andy Carroll equalised from the spot. Joe Cole put the hosts ahead, but Gylfi Sigurdsson put Andre Villas-Boas' side back in the game, making things 2-2 with his close-range effort 14 minutes from time.

Unbelievable: Gareth Bale rushes to the bench after scoring his stunning match-winning goal

Unbelievable: Gareth Bale rushes to the bench after scoring his stunning match-winning goal

Unstoppable: Gareth Bale lets fly late in the day to clinch the match for Tottenham

Unstoppable: Gareth Bale lets fly late in the day to clinch the match for Tottenham


No chance: Bale's strike flew over West Ham's defenders before hitting the back of the net

No chance: Bale's strike flew over West Ham's defenders before hitting the back of the net

Too much space Hammers defenders stood off the Welshman, allowing him to aim his killer blow

Too much space Hammers defenders stood off the Welshman, allowing him to aim his killer blow

MATCH FACTS

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Reid, O'Brien, Collins, Demel (Pogatetz 72), Nolan (Taylor 35), Jarvis, Diame, J Cole, O'Neil, Carroll

Subs not used: Spiegel, Collison, Taylor, C Cole, Vaz Te, Chamakh

Goals: Carroll 25 (pen), J Cole 58

Booked: Diame, J Cole, O'Neill, Collins

Tottenham: Lloris, Vertonghen, Dawson, Walker, Caulker, Lennon, Parker (Livermore 88), Bale, Holtby (Sigurdsson 56), Adebayor, Dembele (Carroll 75)

Subs not used: Friedel, Gallas, Naughton, Assou-Ekotto, Sigurdsson

Goal: Bale 13, 90 Sigurdsson 76

Booked: Dembele

Referee: Howard Webb

Attendance: 35,005

More to follow…

Come here you! Bale hugged his manager Andre Villas-Boas (right) after scoring his second goal

Come here you! Bale hugged his manager Andre Villas-Boas (right) after scoring his second goal

.

Carnage: Gylfi Sigurdsson popped up in the box to score Tottenham's equaliser against West Ham

Carnage: Gylfi Sigurdsson popped up in the box to score Tottenham's equaliser against West Ham

Main man: Gareth Bale scored Tottenham's first goal after just 13 minutes

Main man: Gareth Bale scored Tottenham's first goal after just 13 minutes

In front: Joe Cole put West Ham in the lead after latching on to a long ball

In front: Joe Cole put West Ham in the lead after latching on to a long ball

Just about: Cole hit his shot into the floor as Hugo Lloris (right) was wrong-footed

Just about: Cole hit his shot into the floor as Hugo Lloris (right) was wrong-footed

.

In it goes: Gareth Bale opened the scoring for the visitors

In it goes: Gareth Bale opened the scoring for the visitors

No mistake: Andy Carroll fired his shot home from the spot to equalise

No mistake: Andy Carroll fired his shot home from the spot to equalise

.

Putting the boot in: Carroll was brought down by Scott Parker (left)

Putting the boot in: Carroll was brought down by Scott Parker (left)

On fire: Jussi Jaaskelainen (centre) made a number of saves to keep West Ham in the game

On fire: Jussi Jaaskelainen (centre) made a number of saves to keep West Ham in the game

.

Nice try: Bale tries a bicycle kick, to no avail

Nice try: Bale tries a bicycle kick, to no avail

Game for a laugh: Sam Allardyce (left) and Andre Villas-Boas embrace before the match

Game for a laugh: Sam Allardyce (left) and Andre Villas-Boas embrace before the match

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Tussle: Aaron Lennon (right) tries to resist the challenge of Matt Jarvis

Tussle: Aaron Lennon (right) tries to resist the challenge of Matt Jarvis

Flying the flag: Moore's Poppy (left) Freddie (centre) and Ava (right) led the two teams out

Flying the flag: Moore's Poppy (left) Freddie (centre) and Ava (right) led the two teams out

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Appreciation: The players gathered round the centre circle to mark the 20th anniversary of Bobby Moore's death

Appreciation: The players gathered round the centre circle to mark the 20th anniversary of Bobby Moore's death

Icon: Fans held up posters to make a mosaic which read: MOORE 6

Icon: Fans held up posters to make a mosaic which read: MOORE 6

In memory: Posters were stuck to fans' seats for supporters to lift to pay their respects

In memory: Posters were stuck to fans' seats for supporters to lift to pay their respects

Respect: Tributes to West Ham legend Moore were pinned to the gate outside Upton Park

Respect: Tributes to West Ham legend Moore were pinned to the gate outside Upton Park

Bruges 2 Newcastle 2: match report

Bruges 2 Newcastle 2: Ameobi rescue mission keeps Toon on course in Europe

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UPDATED:

00:40 GMT, 9 November 2012

One more win and Newcastle United will have completed their first European mission under Alan Pardew.

Pardew’s fully stretched squad now
know a home victory over Group D strugglers Maritimo in a fortnight will
guarantee them passage to the knock-out stage after they came back from
two goals down to deny FC Bruges victory in Belgium.

Cracker: Vurnon Anita scores his first goal for Newcastle

Cracker: Vurnon Anita scores his first goal for Newcastle

Match facts

Bruges: Jorgacevic, Hogli, Hoefkens, Almeback, Jordi,Donk, Odjija Ofoe (Lagrou 81), Lestienne, Jorgensen, Trickovski (Tchite 46), Bacca. Subs Not Used: Kujovic, Vleminckx, Buysse, Engels, Verstraete.

Booked: Almeback, Hoefkens.

Goals: Trickovski 14,Jorgensen 19.

Newcastle: Krul, Anita, Williamson (Steven Taylor 58),Coloccini, Tavernier, Tiote, Sammy Ameobi (Amalfitano 83), Marveaux, Bigirimana (Cabaye 72), Obertan, Shola Ameobi. Subs Not Used: Elliot, Santon, Cisse, Ferguson.

Booked: Tiote,Cabaye.

Goals: Anita 41, Shola Ameobi 43.

Att: 18,000

Ref: Luca Banti (Italy).

It was the Ameobi brothers, Shola and Sammy, who conjured the equaliser to keep Bruges at arm’s length in the group and deliver a killer blow just before half-time.

Pardew said: ‘We had Ameobi to Ameobi, which sounds like a song, for the second goal, which was nice.

‘I thought they were both good. Sammy has this way of getting out of corners I have not seen in many players and he wriggles out of situations.

‘He still needs to tighten up on the tactical and intelligence side of the game but he will learn.’

The visitors had done their best to gift Bruges a goal in the opening 10 minutes but somehow managed to come away from errors by Tim Krul, Gael Bigirimana and Fabricio Coloccini unscathed.

Bruges’s 14th-minute opener was almost an exact replica of the Luis Suarez equaliser from the weekend which had denied Newcastle their first win at Liverpool in 18 years.

The long ball came from Bruges midfielder Ryan Donk and captain Coloccini was deceived by the pace of striker Trickovski. He moved cleverly inside the Argentina centre back and beat Krul with a low shot from the edge of the area.

Six minutes later, Newcastle were two down and in total disarray as their 2,300 fans inside the Jan Breydel Stadium fell silent.

Dutch of class: Vurnon Anita celebrates his strike

Dutch of class: Vurnon Anita celebrates his strike

Nifty footwork: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew

Nifty footwork: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew

The goal was created by livewire winger
Maxime Lestienne, who curled in a cross which James Tavernier nodded out
to the edge of the area. Jesper Jorgensen gathered the ball and beat
Krul with another low shot, which the Dutch keeper seemed to see late.

Pardew claimed Newcastle had started well, but it took the two-goal
deficit to wake them up. Recalled Sylvain Marveaux squandered a great
chance in front of goal with an air shot and Bojan Jorgacevic got the
vital touch to a Shola Ameobi header.

The first Newcastle goal was worth the wait, however.

Former Ajax player Vurnon Anita has taken his time to warm to English
football but the first-time volley which flew over Jorgacevic was a real
sign of his intent and ability. ‘It was a great strike,’ said Pardew.
‘He showed he is a class act and that was his best game for us.’

He's tricky: Ivan Trickovski, left, scores the opening goal

He's tricky: Ivan Trickovski, left, scores the opening goal

Ivan Trickovski (L) scores the first goal for Bruges

Ivan Trickovski (L) scores the first goal for Bruges

The Ameobis then combined, as they had in the first game for Gabriel
Obertan’s winner. Sammy turned quickly midway inside the Bruges half,
spotted his older brother Shola and played a perfect pass which was
prodded past Jorgacevic.

Newcastle’s best chance then fell to Shola Ameobi, who headed narrowly
over before drawing a smart save from Jorgacevic. Yohan Cabaye’s first
touch as substitute was a powerful shot against the bar.

Bruges top scorer Carlos Bacca will be mystified by his inability to add
to his 14 goals this season. He missed two clear-cut chances and was
denied by Krul twice, as the Dutch keeper more than made amends for the
second goal from the home side.

If looks could Krul: Trickovski, left, celebrates

If looks could Krul: Trickovski, left, celebrates

Trickle treat: Jesper Jorgensen doubled their lead

Trickle treat: Jesper Jorgensen doubled their lead

He also saved superbly at his near post to deny Everton target Vadis Odjidja.

Bacca’s dramatic fall when Steven Taylor grabbed his shirt two minutes
from time probably made Italian referee Luca Banti’s mind up that it
was not a foul.

‘I thought it was a terrific game,’ said Pardew. ‘It was a good night of football and I hope you enjoyed it.

‘/11/08/article-0-15EC2542000005DC-271_634x470.jpg” width=”634″ height=”470″ alt=”Heady stuff: Goalscorer Vurnon Anita (right) celebrates with Fabricio Coloccini and James Tavernier” class=”blkBorder” />

Heady stuff: Goalscorer Vurnon Anita (right) celebrates with Fabricio Coloccini and James Tavernier

Cool finish: Shola Ameobi, left, scores Newcastle's second goal

Cool finish: Shola Ameobi, left, scores Newcastle's second goal

Surrounded: Newcastle's Sammy Ameobi

Surrounded: Newcastle's Sammy Ameobi

Andy Murray looks to regain lethal touch

Murray looking to shake bad habits and regain killer touch at ATP World Tour Finals

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UPDATED:

15:52 GMT, 4 November 2012

Andy Murray will focus all his energies on winning the final point in his matches at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London this week after developing an unwelcome habit since becoming a grand slam champion in New York two months ago.

The Scot has played in three tournaments since winning the US Open, in Tokyo, Shanghai and Paris, and in all of them he has held match points in clashes he went on to lose.

In Tokyo it was a semi-final meeting with Canada's Milos Raonic, then a classic final in Shanghai against Novak Djokovic where he had five chances to win, before last week he lost to Poland's Jerzy Janowicz at the Paris Masters.

Killer touch: Andy Murray (left) is focusing his energy on closing games after squandering match points in all three tournaments since his US Open win

Killer touch: Andy Murray (left) is focusing his energy on closing games after squandering match points in all three tournaments since his US Open win

In it to win it: Murray (left) wants to repeat his Olympic glory in London by winning the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena

In it to win it: Murray (left) wants to repeat his Olympic glory in London by winning the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena

This run has also come after Murray talked about how confident he normally feels in finishing off matches.

The 25-year-old said: 'I did say in Shanghai when you speak about things like that it's bound to go against you. I'm aware how hard it is to finish matches off. It's not an easy thing to do.

'In Shanghai I didn't just play against Novak, I played three matches previously. I've played hundreds and hundreds of matches on tour and sometimes it's going to go your way, sometimes it's not.

'I don't feel in the match with Novak I did too much wrong. I was disappointed with last week, I didn't feel like I focused as hard as I needed to when I was serving for the match.

'That's something this week I'll make sure I play one point at a time, take my time and fight for every single point. I need to try to do a better job of that.'

Murray may not have made much impact in Paris with his tennis but the 25-year-old did cause a bit of a stir with his comments about cycling and drug-testing in sport.

They were taken as a slur on cycling in some quarters and Murray took to Twitter to explain himself in the face of criticism from a few cycling fans.

The line up: The players were in London on Saturday at the official launch of the tournament

The line up: The players were in London on Saturday at the official launch of the tournament

See you there: Murray is in the same group as Novak Djokovic (centre right)

See you there: Murray is in the same group as Novak Djokovic (centre right)

The Scot has plenty of experience of remarks being interpreted in a different way to what he intended, notably with a joke he made about the England football team in 2006.

Murray said: 'What happened in cycling is pretty shocking and you just want to make sure you can completely rule anything like that out in your own sport, because I love tennis, so you'd hate for anything like that to happen.

'A lot of things you can say may come across the wrong way. It's not always easy when you're in a room filled with people and you get asked a question you have to answer straight away.

'One or two words can make something you meant in the right way come across badly. I try my best to not make any silly comments or say anything jokingly that may be taken out of context.

Eyes on the prize: Murray was warming up for the tournament over the weekend

Eyes on the prize: Murray was warming up for the tournament over the weekend

Eyes on the prize: Murray was warming up for the tournament over the weekend

Down to you: Andy Murray (left) and coach Ivan Lendl (right) are hoping to add another tournament win in Murray's best year yet

Down to you: Andy Murray (left) and coach Ivan Lendl (right) are hoping to add another tournament win in Murray's best year yet

'It's unfortunate it comes across that way sometimes. I'll just try better to not make any more mistakes like that.'

Murray opens proceedings in the singles competition at the World Tour Finals on Monday afternoon against Czech Tomas Berdych, with Djokovic taking on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the other Group A clash in the evening.

The tournament is being held at the O2 Arena for the fourth year after London signed a five-year contract to take over from Shanghai in 2009.

It has been a huge success, with organisers expecting even bigger attendances this year, and a deal to extend the contract is thought to be not far away from being signed.

Murray said: 'If it does stay here then that's obviously good. I think they do a great job here, they put on an excellent show and everyone seems to enjoy it.

'From a players' point of view, because we've finished the year in Europe, it's nice to have a tournament of this size being convenient, you wouldn't want it being a hassle for guys to go to. London has been a great spot.'

Joe Cole says Liverpool lack cutting edge

We lack a cutting edge, admits Liverpool's Cole after goalless draw against Stoke

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UPDATED:

14:36 GMT, 8 October 2012

Joe Cole admits Liverpool have to rectify their poor goalscoring form if they are to claw their way back up the Premier League table.

Cole, who returned as a substitute in the 0-0 draw with Stoke on Sunday for the first time since injuring his hamstring on the opening day of the season, conceded that Liverpool lacked a killer instinct.

Brendan Rodgers' side remain in 14th place in the table, without a win at home this season, and having scored nine goals in seven games, five of which came against strugglers Norwich.

Back in action: Cole returned from a hamstring injury on Sunday

Back in action: Cole returned from a hamstring injury on Sunday

The Reds hit the woodwork three times against Stoke, but it was the outside of the upright each time rather than a close call, and they were chances squandered rather than a case of bad luck.

'There was a bit of frustration in the dressing room after the Stoke game,' Cole told www.liverpoolfc.com.

'We felt we should have won the game with the chances we had.

'The only criticism of us that I would have was that we didn't stick the ball in the back of the net. We just lacked that final bit. We have two weeks now to work on it and we're looking forward.'

The midfielder insisted that there were elements from the goalless draw that should hearten the Liverpool players and supporters.

He added: 'There's a lot to work on but we have got to take the positives out of it. We didn't get beat and we kept a clean sheet, which was important as we haven't kept one for a long time. Now we just need to kick on.

'I know a lot of the lads are now away on international duty, but we have got two weeks to keep going, keep working on things, getting in and around the box and picking the right pass.

Goalless: Liverpool could not break Stoke's resistance at Anfield

Goalless: Liverpool could not break Stoke's resistance at Anfield

'Hopefully we can get three points at home to Reading and then we can go to Goodison (Park to face Everton) and get a result.'

He also praised Liverpool's teenage stars Suso, Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom for coming through a gruelling encounter with Stoke's large and physical players.

'It was important for the young boys and I thought they were really good again,' he said. 'I think you've got to match Stoke .They're strong lads and they like to compete.

'Personally, it was brilliant to get back. You're always nervous with hamstring injuries in terms of the first time you come back in. But I felt good and I have two weeks now to work hard and get back up to a high level of fitness.'

US Open 2012: Laura Robson beats Li Na

Stunning! Robson dumps world No 8 Li out to reach US Open fourth round

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UPDATED:

18:43 GMT, 31 August 2012

Laura Robson continued her giant-killing run at the US Open with a brilliant victory over ninth seed Li Na to reach the fourth round.

The 18-year-old had pulled off one of the results of the tournament in the second round by beating three-time champion Kim Clijsters, sending the Belgian into retirement, but this was even better.

In the final set in particular, Robson outplayed one of the form players of the tour and last year's French Open champion to clinch a 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 victory.

Giant killer: Laura Robson will face Sam Stosur in the fourth round at the US Open

Giant killer: Laura Robson will face Sam Stosur in the fourth round at the US Open

Impressive: Laura Robson took the game to Li Na

Impressive: Laura Robson took the game to Li Na

She becomes the first British woman
to make the fourth round at a grand slam since Sam Smith at Wimbledon in
1998 and the first in New York since Jo Durie 21 years ago.Afterwards,
Robson revealed her plan had just been to take on her shots.

'I knew if I kept sticking with her and playing my shots it might pay off and it did,' she told Sky Sports 3.

'I had a few break points early on and I gave them up with average returning, so when I got a chance I knew I had to go for it.

'She's a great hitter so knew I had to go for it, I`m going to go back to the gym and try to recover for the next match.'

Robson also put her stunning tournament so far down to her fitness levels.

'I've been injured loads in the past
and this is my first time injury free. That`s the biggest improvement
and difference,' she added.

Against Clijsters, Robson had taken
her time to settle but she was firing from the off on Friday, breaking her
opponent's serve with a crunching return to lead 2-0.

Li hit back immediately but the
Chinese player was making far more mistakes than usual and a forehand
long handed Robson another break to lead 4-2.

She missed her chance serving for the
set three games later but Li was helping her opponent out and another
error gave Robson the set on her second opportunity.

Outclassed: Li Na could not get going in the contest

Outclassed: Li Na could not get going in the contest

The quality was nothing like that of the Clijsters encounter, with both players making a lot more mistakes than they would have liked, but it was costing the ninth seed more.

Robson dropped serve for a third time at the start of the second set but again responded straight away, nailing a cross-court backhand that had too much power for her opponent.

Robson screamed when she conceded a break point in the seventh game only to save it with an ace. The 18-year-old was serving more double faults than she would have liked, seven in total, but, when she got her first serve in, it was causing big problems for Li.

Twice the British number three held to force Li to serve to stay in the match, but the 30-year-old was playing much better now and did not waver.

The tie-break was as tight as they come and, although Robson did little wrong, it was Li who took it on her first set point with a backhand that landed on the back of the baseline.

Coming-of-age: Robson has now beaten Kim Clijsters and Li on her way to the last 16

Coming-of-age: Robson has now beaten Kim Clijsters and Li on her way to the last 16

It was a blow for the British player but, far from letting it affect her, she redoubled her efforts, showing the improved movement that has been such a feature of her run here.

Li saved three break points in the third game but she could not hold off Robson two games later.

It looked like the ninth seed had been handed a reprieve when a poor line call denied Robson but that only spurred her on even more and the teenager's prodigious ball striking drew the error from Li.

It really was a remarkable performance from Robson, who was playing better and better, and she broke through again to lead 5-2 and leave herself serving for the match.

A double fault hinted at nerves but that was a minor blip and Robson took her first match point with another big serve that Li could only scramble back long.

It does not get any easier for the 18-year-old, though, with defending champion Sam Stosur up next.

Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0 – match report

Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0: Life after RVP proves hard to bear as Gunners draw blank

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UPDATED:

16:05 GMT, 18 August 2012

Arsenal started life after Robin van Persie with a frustrating goalless draw against Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium.

The Holland striker – whose 30 goals had dragged the Gunners into third place last season – yesterday completed a 24million move to Manchester United, having made it clear earlier in the summer he would not be signing a new deal.

Arsene Wenger's side, boasting summer signings Lukas Podolski, the German striker, and impressive Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla in the starting XI, enjoyed plenty of possession, but lacked a killer instinct in the final third.

No way through: Arsenal dominated possession but were unable to force their way past Sunderland

No way through: Arsenal dominated possession but were unable to force their way past Sunderland

MATCH FACTS

ARSENAL: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski. Subs not used: Mannone, Andre Santos, Giroud, Ramsey, Djourou, Coquelin, Arshavin.

SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Richardson, Larsson, Colback, Cattermole, McClean, Sessegnon, Campbell. Subs not used: Westwood, Wickham, Kilgallon, Meyler, Bramble, Saha, Elmohamady.

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

Check out all the latest, stats, facts and table from the Premier League

When a clear opening eventually came
their way late in the second half, substitute Olivier Giroud, who netted
21 goals for Montpellier last season, fired wide.

While there were plenty of positives
to take from the workrate of his side, manager Arsene Wenger will know
there must be an improvement in conversion rate if Arsenal are to
challenge over the course of the season.

New skipper Thomas Vermaelen received
a warm welcome from the returning Arsenal faithful, along with summer
signings Cazorla and Podolski in the starting line-up.

It was a lively start by the hosts, but Sunderland remained dangerous on the counter through Stephane Sessegnon.

Bright start: Lukas Podolski put in a solid hour-long shift up front for his new club

Bright start: Lukas Podolski put in a solid hour-long shift up front for his new club

On six minutes, the Arsenal defence
was opened up as James McClean slipped into the penalty area, but his
shot was blocked smartly by Wojciech Szczesny.

Spain international Cazorla, signed
from Malaga, almost made himself an instant hero when he charged
forwards and unleashed a 20-yard effort which Black Cats keeper Simon
Mignolet beat away.

Sunderland created another decent
opening when the ball was worked to Jack Colback at the edge of the
Arsenal area, but his low effort was straight at the keeper.

Attacking threat: The likes of Abou Diaby, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla all banged on the Sunderland door

Attacking threat: The likes of Abou Diaby, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla all banged on the Sunderland door

Attacking threat: The likes of Abou Diaby, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla all banged on the Sunderland door

Attacking threat: The likes of Abou Diaby, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla all banged on the Sunderland door

Gervinho skipped away down the left
and rode a couple of tackles before cutting the ball back across goal,
only for Cazorla to drill it wide.

Arsenal continued to press Sunderland deeper as Abou Diaby's low, 20-yard effort was touched around the post.

The visitors, however, set up with two banks of four and were hard to break down.

Sunderland also looked to get forwards themselves, with the best success again coming down the left flank though Sessegnon.

Running man: Theo Walcott was a thorn in the side of the visitors' defence for the most part

Running man: Theo Walcott was a thorn in the side of the visitors' defence for the most part

Arsenal finally pulled some passes
together as Theo Walcott was played into the right and his cutback to
the near post was hacked behind before Podolski could get there.

The second half opened the same
pattern, with the hosts were left frustrated by some stern defending as
much as their own poor choice of final pass.

Old friends: Sebastian Larsson, formerly of Arsenal, tried his best to give Sunderland a presence in attack

Old friends: Sebastian Larsson, formerly of Arsenal, tried his best to give Sunderland a presence in attack

On 57 minutes, Kieran Richardson
upended Walcott some 25 yards out. Podolski took the free-kick, but the
German's effort flew just over.

As the hour mark passed, Sessegnon was replaced by Louis Saha, signed on a free transfer after he left Tottenham.

The Gunners also made a change when Giroud came on for his debut, Podolski making way.

Wenger then aimed to inject some
fresh ideas into midfield as Wales captain Aaron Ramsey – part of the
Team GB Olympic squad this summer – came on for the hard-working Diaby.

Don't forget us: Jack Colback was at the heart of the good things being done by the Mackems

Don't forget us: Jack Colback was at the heart of the good things being done by the Mackems

Don't forget us: Jack Colback was at the heart of the good things being done by the Mackems

Sunderland continued to sit back, but
Arsenal failed to make the most of their possession heading into the
final 15 minutes, when Walcott was replaced by Andrey Arshavin, the
Russian whose future remains uncertain following a loan spell at former
club Zenit St Petersburg last season.

With nine minutes left, Cazorla
played in Giroud, but the French striker, so clinical in Ligue 1 last
season, fired wide from 10 yards.

Arsenal pressed in search of a winner
during four minutes of stoppage time, but had to be content with just a
point – which was greeted by boos from some home supporters.

Steve Kean to be sacked if he loses three on the bounce

Three losses and you're out, Steve! Kean will be axed if he fails to deliver again at Blackburn

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UPDATED:

15:41 GMT, 11 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Steve Kean has been hit with a 'three strikes and you're out' warning by the Blackburn Rovers hierarchy.

The club's global advisor Shebby Singh revealed that if Kean loses three games in a row he will be sacked as manager.

Singh, who was appointed over the summer, oversees the day-to-day running of the club.

Three strikes: Steve Kean (right) could be sacked if he loses three games on the trot

Three strikes: Steve Kean (right) could be sacked if he loses three games on the trot

Kean, who joined Blackburn after Sam Allardyce left in December 2010, struggled with the club last season, as the Rovers failed to escape the drop from the Premier League into the Championship.

The Scot has been unpopular with much of the Ewood Park faithful since he took the helm, and fans have on several occasions staged protests calling for his sacking.

Singh was speaking at an open forum organised by fans from the Blackburn Rovers Action Group, and said that failure this season would not be tolerated by Venkys Group, who own the club.

Kean has overseen signings such as Danny Murphy from Fulham

Kean has overseen signings such as Danny Murphy from Fulham

'I am here to be successful and I know what it needs to get out of the Championship and so far nobody has disagreed with me at the club,' he said.

'The owners have said to me do what you are doing, continue doing it – the manager has not said to me we should have signed so-and-so, or we don’t need so-and-so.

'For me, it is all about results. For me, after three games if we have dropped nine points, we would quite literally only have a 50 per cent chance of getting promoted, so everyone has to start from day one.'

When asked the killer question about whether Kean could be sacked, he replied: 'If we lost three games on the trot, definitely. Yes.'

Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray beats Ivo Karlovic in four sets

Giant killer! Murray overcomes threat of big serving Karlovic to reach third round

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UPDATED:

16:47 GMT, 28 June 2012

Andy Murray made his way into the third round after seeing off giant Ivo Karlovic in four sets.

The big serving Croat looked to cause the Scot some problems and he was pushed all the way in the opening set with Murray eventually winning 7-5.

Karlovic hit back in the second set winning it on a tie break before Murray won the third set 6-2 and then claimed the fourth set on a tie break.

More to follow…

No messing about: Andy Murray celebrates beating Ivo Karlovic

No messing about: Andy Murray celebrates beating Ivo Karlovic

On the way to victory: Murray beat Karlovic in four sets

On the way to victory: Murray beat Karlovic in four sets

Fighting back: Karlovic celebrates taking the second set during his match with Murray

Fighting back: Karlovic celebrates taking the second set during his match with Murray

At full stretch: Murray goes for the ball

At full stretch: Murray goes for the ball