Tag Archives: masters

ATP Monte Carlo Masters – Rafael Nadal beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic beats Fabio Fognini in semis

Serving up a classic Djokovic and Nadal to meet in mouthwatering Monte Carlo final

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

17:40 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:01 GMT, 20 April 2013

Eight-time champion Rafael Nadal will lock horns with world No 1 Novak Djokovic for third time in the Monte Carlo Masters final after both sailed through their semi-finals with relative ease on Saturday.

Nadal was given a fight by Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before the Spaniard won 6-3, 7-6 but Djokovic was dominant in a 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of Italian showman Fabio Fognini.

Former world No 1 Nadal, looking for his fourth title of the year in only his fifth event since returning from a long-standing knee injury, clinched a 46th consecutive victory at the traditional clay court event alongside the Mediterranean.

Winning run: Rafael Nadal beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in his semi-final

Winning run: Rafael Nadal beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in his semi-final

Serving up a classic: Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday in Monte Carlo

Serving up a classic: Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday in Monte Carlo

The final against Djokovic will give a further measure of Nadal’s physical condition as he eyes the French Open, especially as the Serb is showing no sign of being worried by the ankle he twisted while on Davis Cup duty two weeks ago.

‘It’s fantastic to be in a fifth final in a row after seven months out,’ Nadal said. ‘Novak always pushes you to the limits.’

Djokovic, who has branded Nadal ‘the ultimate challenge on clay’, will hope to improve on his previous Monte Carlo finals against Nadal. He was beaten 6-3, 6-1 in the final last year and in three sets in 2009.

Looking to the heavens: Nadal beat the Frenchman Tsonga 6-3, 7-6

Looking to the heavens: Nadal beat the Frenchman Tsonga 6-3, 7-6

Smashing effort: Tsonga put up a fight in the second set but couldn't force a decider

Smashing effort: Tsonga put up a fight in the second set but couldn't force a decider

‘I will have to be at the top of my game. I’m ready for it. I know what I need to do,’ said Djokovic, who was pleased to have spent only 52 minutes on the court.

‘I had enough tests already this week so I’m happy I can be fresh,’ said the Serb, who was pushed to three sets in his first two matches.

Nadal set up a 16th tournament final against Djokovic despite a wobble from 5-1 up in the second set when Tsonga produced a late surge to make a match of it. Neither the cold wind gusting off the sea, nor the inconsistent Tsonga managed to upset a solid Nadal, who has made the Centre Court stage his own since 2005.

Drubbing: Novak Djokovic beat Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-1 in his semi-final in Monte Carlo

Drubbing: Novak Djokovic beat Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-1 in his semi-final in Monte Carlo

Drubbing: Novak Djokovic beat Fabio Fognini 6-2 6-1 in his semi-final in Monte Carlo

Sixth seed Tsonga made too many mistakes from the baseline as Nadal took a stranglehold on the match. However, a change of tactics when he began charging the net briefly unsettled Nadal to the delight of the previously subdued French crowd.

He attacked in waves and saved four match points to force a tie-break before running out off steam and allowing Nadal to take the match and avoid a third set.

Fognini played some crowd-pleasing winners against Djokovic but was no match for the ruthless Serb who was in no mood to mess around on the centre court.

The 32nd-ranked Italian, who has enjoyed a huge support this week at a stadium located just kilometres away from his home, offered little fight and was booed off court after only 50 minutes by the restless crowd.

Adam Scott pays tribute to Greg Norman after US Masters win

Scott pays tribute to Norman after breaking Australia's majors duck with Masters win

By
Phil Casey, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

00:35 GMT, 15 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:30 GMT, 15 April 2013

Adam Scott paid tribute to Australian great Greg Norman after breaking his major duck, and that of his nation at the Masters.

Scott saw off Angel Cabrera at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off at Augusta to win the 77th Masters and lay the ghost of Lytham last year, when he bogeyed the last four holes of the Open to lose by one stroke to Ernie Els.

'I don't know how that happens,' Scott said of today's dramatic finale. 'It seems a long way away from last July when I was trying to win another major.

Scroll down for video

Looking good in Green: Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the US MAsters

Looking good in Green: Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the US Masters

Adam Scott wins the Masters

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'It fell my way today, there was some luck there. It was incredible.'

Scott and Argentinian Cabrera had finished at nine under, two shots ahead of Jason Day with a third Australian, Marc Leishman, tied for third on five under alongside world number one Tiger Woods.

And Scott said: 'Australia's a proud sporting nation and this was one notch on the belt that we'd never got.

Enlarge

Nail biting: Scott beat Argentinian Angel Cabrera in a tense finish

Nail biting: Scott beat Argentinian Angel Cabrera in a tense finish

'It's amazing that it's come down to me today, Marc and Jason Day, it could have been any of us.

'But there was one guy that inspired a nation of golfers and that's Greg Norman. He's been incredible to me and all the young golfers in Australia and part of this definitely belongs to him.'

Scott looked to have avoided the need for a play-off when he drained a superb 25-foot putt on the final hole of his fourth round to card 69.

So close: Cabrera throws his putter after just missing his birdie putt on the second playoff hole

So close: Cabrera throws his putter after just missing his birdie putt on the second playoff hole

Embrace: Second placed Angel Cabrera (right) congratulates Scott on his win

Embrace: Second placed Cabrera congratulates Scott on his win

But Cabrera, in the following group, hit a magnificent approach to little more than three feet and holed out to extend the contest.

'It was a split-second I thought I'd won, you should never count your chickens,' said Scott of his wild celebrations on the 72nd green.

'But that was the putt, we've seen so many guys make it to win and I thought 'it's time for me to step up' and see how much I wanted it.

Passover: Bubba Watson gives Scott his jacket

Passover: Bubba Watson gives Scott his jacket

'To make a couple of putts to win the Masters tournament is just an amazing feeling.'

Cabrera himself went close when his chip at the first play-off hole ran just past the cup and said: 'That's how golf is. I came back and I had that chip on 18, I could have won it.

But Adam's a good winner. I would have been happier if I had won but he's a great player, I get along with him, we've played together in the President's Cup and I'm happy for him.'

Tiger Woods should disqualify himself from Masters, says Sir Nick Faldo

You should disqualify yourself! Faldo says Woods will damage legacy if he plays on at Augusta

By
Nick Metcalfe

PUBLISHED:

14:31 GMT, 13 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:58 GMT, 13 April 2013

Sir Nick Faldo has hit out at Tiger Woods after the American superstar was given a two-shot penalty for a controversial drop at the Masters, saying he should disqualify himself from the tournament.

Woods hit his third shot against the flag stick on the 15th hole at Augusta, with the ball bouncing into the water. He then took a drop from what appeared to be the wrong place, two yards away from its original lie.

It was thought at one time that the world No 1 could have been disqualified, but he was given a reprieve on Saturday morning by rules officials.

However, three-time Masters winner Faldo told the Golf Channel that he should elect not to play the final two rounds, saying he 'should think about mark this will leave on his legacy'.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Drama: Woods reacts after his ball flies into the water (left) and then takes his drop (right)

Key moment: Woods seen here dropping the ball on the 15th after his third shot found the water

Key moment: Woods seen here dropping the ball on the 15th after his third shot found the water

MASTERS LIVE

Follow all the third round news from Augusta as it happens with Brian Lee

Faldo added: 'For me, this is dreadful. Absolutely, no intention to drop this as close as possible. Simply, a breach of rules.

'The rules of golf are black and white and Tiger broke them. He’s admitted he broke them. He should stand up and earn himself some brownie points and say to all his fellow professionals: ”I’ve broken the rules, I’m going home and I will see you next week.” He should consider the mark this will leave on his legacy.’

Woods will start the third round on one-under par, five off the lead held by Jason Day.

Golf's rules were changed a year ago, with players now not being disqualified for signing the wrong card.

New rules state that 'if the Committee is satisfied that the competitor could not reasonably have known or discovered the facts resulting in his breach of the Rules, it would be justified under Rule 33-7 in waiving the disqualification penalty prescribed by Rule 6-6d.'

Way back when: Woods receives the green jacket from Sir Nick Faldo in 1997

Way back when: Woods receives the green jacket from Sir Nick Faldo in 1997

MASTERS ESSENTIALS

Hole-by-hole guide to Augusta National
Third round tee times
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Former US Open champion Graeme
McDowell said on Twitter: '2 shot penalty for TW for wrong drop. New
rule applied for trial by tv. Instead of retrospective DQ, player
receives a penalty. Decent rule.'

The
leader after two rounds was Australia's Jason Day, on six-under. But
all the talk as the weekend began was once again about Woods.

Watch Tiger Woods' shot fly off the stick and into the water…

Masters 2013: Bubba Watson sinks hole-in-one in practice round

Fun in the sun at Augusta as defending champion Watson sinks hole-in-one in Masters practice round… and he didn't cry!

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

16:47 GMT, 10 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 10 April 2013

Bubba Watson is clearly in top form to defend his green jacket in style after getting a hole-in-one in a practice round today.

Last year's Champion was playing a practice round before the tournament starts tomorrow, and achieved a hole-in-one on Augusta's par 3 16th hole.

Watson's practice partner Scott Piercy described Watson's reaction: 'Arms in the air, big smile, like a little kid in the candy store,' he told the Chicago Tribune.

High fives: Bubba Watson (right) laps up the apprecation of the crowd after sinking a hole-in-one

High fives: Bubba Watson (right) laps up the apprecation of the crowd after sinking a hole-in-one

Mini-me: Watson takes out his driver during a practice round today ahead of defending his Masters title

Mini-me: Watson takes out his driver during a practice round today ahead of defending his Masters title

Turtle and the hare: Sergio Garcia attempts to chase some unwanted visitors back into the pond today

Turtle and the hare: Sergio Garcia attempts to chase some unwanted visitors back into the pond today

'That was really cool. To do it on 16 at the Masters, I'm sure it's something he’ll never forget. And I can tell my kids that Bubba Watson made a hole in one here, and I saw it.'

Watson's caddie, Teddy Scott, told the same paper: 'The crowd was obviously really into it. any time somebody makes a hole-in-one, if there's just four of you playing with your buddies, you're excited. So everybody was pumped and high-fiving. It was cool.'

Ready and waiting: Rory McIlroy plays a shot in today's practice round ahead of the Masters starting tomorrow

Ready and waiting: Rory McIlroy plays a shot in today's practice round ahead of the Masters starting tomorrow

Rory McIlroy

McIlroy

Face in the crowd: Scotsman Paul Lawrie hits a shot from the trees in a practice round today

Face in the crowd: Scotsman Paul Lawrie hits a shot from the trees in a practice round today

The amazing feat comes the day after the Masters Club Dinner in honour of Watson, a tradition started by Ben Hogan in 1952.

Fans leapt to Watson's defence over the menu he chose for the meal, which Sir Nick Faldo joked on Twitter was a 'happy meal'.

Posting a message to Watson, Faldo said: 'You had a year to decide on, grilled chicked, mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni & cheese!!!#HappyMeal #PlayLikeaChampion,' before quoting a Tweet from a fan which suggested diners got a toy prize if they cleaned their plates.

Happy meal: Sir Nick Faldo joked about the quality of Watson's Masters Club Dinner menu

Happy meal: Sir Nick Faldo joked about the quality of Watson's Masters Club Dinner menu

Hitting the target: Argentinean Angel Cabrera chips on the driving range before a practice round today

Hitting the target: Argentinean Angel Cabrera chips on the driving range before a practice round today

Watson broke down in tears in a press conference yesterday after a reporter asked him what he did with the green jacket he won last year.

He also famously cried on the shoulder of his mother Molly when he won the tournament after a play-off with Louis Oosthuizen, leading to the nickname 'Blubba.'

Suits you: Two Australian fans got in on the fun (above) while another fan proposed to his partner (below)

Suits you: Two Australian fans got in on the fun (above) while another fan proposed to his partner (below)

Proposal

Proposal

Bubba Watson in tears AGAIN at The Masters

Blubba Watson II! Masters champion in tears AGAIN on return to defend his title at Augusta (two days before the tournament even starts!)

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Breakdown: Watson cries on the shoulder of his mother Molly after his 2012 victory

Seemingly beaten, with his ball
trapped in the straw between the pine trees and towering magnolias, he
somehow contrived to find the green from 165 yards with his wedge before two-putting to
victory.

Watson starts his defence on Thursday
alongside Ian Poulter, with 2012 US Amateur champion Steven Fox, in
what promises to be a fascinating group.

The Englishman, of course, reduced
Watson to tears of sorrow last October as he steered Europe to a
miraculous Ryder Cup victory in Medinah.

For Bubba's sake, let's hope he makes the cut on Friday. Or else he might just cry again…

Heady times: Bubba Watson gestures after his play-off victory at Augusta last year

Heady times: Bubba Watson gestures after his play-off victory at Augusta last year

VIDEO Watch Bubba's emotional press conference

Masters champion Bubba Watson bursts into tears

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Luke Donald misses the cut in Malaysian Open

Donald loses proud record as his Masters build-up takes knock in Malaysia

By
Derek Lawrenson

PUBLISHED:

11:49 GMT, 23 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:49 GMT, 23 March 2013

Poor form: Luke Donald missed the cut in Malaysia

Poor form: Luke Donald missed the cut in Malaysia

They were playing in tournaments thousands of miles apart, but Luke Donald and Phil Mickelson headed home united by one common thought: with the Masters less than three weeks away, they have plenty of work to do.

Donald crashed out of the Malaysian Open at the halfway stage on Saturday to spoil one of the things he was most proud about in his career.

It was the first time he had ever missed a halfway cut in a European Tour event.

'I guess all good runs come to an end eventually, but I'm hugely disappointed,' he said.

Mickelson looked positively shattered after running up a horrific 79 in the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

'I just played terribly,' he said. Only three times in his last 12 Masters appearances has the three-time champion finished outside the top five, but the gifted lefty sounded like a man who did not expect to keep that remarkable run going.

He also had a dig at the PGA Tour for changing the schedule this year. Instead of the Houston Open – a tournament Mickelson loves – being the event before the Masters, it will be the Texas Open.

'Personally, I like playing on a course the week before that's similar, but the Texas Open layout is tight and it's windy, and that's not conducive to getting ready for Augusta,' he said.

'That makes it difficult for me. I find when I take a week off I come out and play like I did here – not mentally sharp. That's not good at the Masters, where you have to be sharp out of the gate.'

Donald's first missed cut on the European Tour came in his 119th start, stretching back a decade, and followed poor rounds of 74 and 73 to fall short by three shots as he struggled to read the slow greens at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

'I've got two weeks at home now and I'm going to have to be diligent in my Masters preparation,' he said.

Two up: Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand claimed a two shot lead in the second round

Two up: Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand claimed a two shot lead in the second round

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Click here for the latest standings

'It's true we've all seen players
who are seemingly out of form go and have a good week at the Masters,
but I need my scoring clubs – from 100 yards and in – to be better than
they have been.'

Meanwhile, as the third round of the
Arnold Palmer Invitational got underway at Bay Hill yesterday, Lee
Westwood did not improve his position among the back markers with a 72,
while Graeme McDowell is almost propping up the field after a 75.

One of the best early moves came from
Scot Martin Laird, a former winner of this event, who shot 68 to leap
up 35 places into the top 40.

Englishman Justin Rose began his third round tied for the lead with American Bill Haas, while Tiger Woods was four back.

Here in style: Charl Schwartzel of South Africa arrives in a helicopter on Saturday

Here in style: Charl Schwartzel of South Africa arrives in a helicopter on Saturday

Canada's Mike Weir, winner of the 2003 Masters, withdrew with a rib injury.

Weir, who was looking forward to
celebrating the 10th anniversary of his only major win at Augusta next
month, walked off the Bay Hill course after going four over through 11
holes.

Playing on a career money earnings
exemption after three barren injury-plagued seasons, Weir had begun to
show signs of turning his game around after making the cut for only the
fifth time in a PGA Tour event over the past three years.

Three of those have been this season, with a best finish of tied 50th at Pebble Beach.

'I'm feeling closer,' he said after his opening round on Thursday.

'It's not easy, but it's part of the game. I want to compete and that makes the hard work easier. I still love the game.'

Weir had been scheduled to play the Houston Open next week in his final competitive tune-up before the year's first major.

Judd Trump wear spiky shoes at snooker – that cost 845!

Trumped in the fashion stakes Judd sends snooker loopy with crazy spiky shoes… and they'll cost you more than 800 (if you'd actually want them, that is!)

By
Dan Ripley

PUBLISHED:

16:47 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:20 GMT, 15 January 2013

Snooker isn’t the sort of game where you let your feet do the talking but Judd Trump has sure made a decent effort to try to change that.

The 23-year-old has caught the attention of many in the game, with his quick playing style already making him world No 1 last year, but it is his footwear that is now the talk of the baize.

Spiky competitor: Judd Trump's loafers caught the attention at Alexandra Palace

Spiky competitor: Judd Trump's loafers caught the attention at Alexandra Palace

Talk of the baize: Judd Trump's spiked loafers caught the attention at Alexandra Palace

Playing in the Masters tournament at Alexandra Palace, the current world No 2 took to the table in his last 16 clash win over Barry Hawkins wearing a pair of spiked loafers.

Being snooker, they are unlikely to have any impact on his performance at the famous event which is contested by 16 of the game’s top ranked players.

But fans hoping to snap up a similar pair to practice in may want to double check the price tag before doing so.

The Juddernaut’s loafers are a bold
fashion statement as they are a pair of Christian Louboutin’s Rollerboy
Spikes that would set you back 845.

Those
still interested in following in the footsteps of the 2011 World
Championship runner-up may instead want to save their spikes for a
mid-week six-reds tournament down the local snooker club.

Ace of baize: Trump plays a shot in his last 16 Masters match with Barry Hawkins

Ace of baize: Trump plays a shot in his last 16 Masters match with Barry Hawkins (below)

Full focus: Trump plays a shot in his last 16 Masters match with Barry Hawkins

Trump survived a huge scare to seal his spot in the quarter-finals of the Betfair Masters with a nail-biting 6-5 victory over Hawkins, claiming the win with a superb century.

The 23-year-old, who was last year's semi-finalist and widely fancied to go all the way at Alexandra Palace this time, looked destined for an early exit after Hawkins rattled off three successive frames from 3-2 down to leave himself within sight of the win.

However, Trump battled back with a 105 break before edging a tension-filled 10th frame – where Hawkins missed a couple of a straightforward-looking pots with victory within his grasp – to send the match to a decider.

No doubt relieved to still be in contention, the Bristolian made no mistake in the final frame as he rattled off a break of 107 to claim the win and set up a quarter-final meeting with Graeme Dott.

Masters 2013: John Higgins beats Ali Carter at Alexandra Palace

Higgins Masters Carter with fine victory to book quarter-final spot at Ally Pally

By
Nick Metcalfe

PUBLISHED:

22:09 GMT, 14 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 14 January 2013

John Higgins fought back from 2-0 behind to beat Ali Carter and book a place in the last eight of the Masters at Alexandra Palace.

Higgins, winner of this great event in 1999 and 2006, lost the second frame despite Carter needing two snookers, and seemed really up against it at that stage.

The Scot soon found his feet however, firing in a clearance of 117 to reduce Carter's lead, and then winning the fourth frame to level at 2-2.

Job done: Higgins came from 2-0 down to beat Carter on Monday

Job done: Higgins came from 2-0 down to beat Carter on Monday

Higgins soon went 3-2 up, and then he won the sixth frame with a 97 to take control of the match.

Carter pulled one back with an 83, and looked set to win another when he was first in with 54 in the ninth frame, but he missed a pink to middle, and Higgins made him pay with a 65 clearance to seal his win.

'I was thinking Ali was going to pull it back to 5-5 because I was beginning to feel the pressure a bit, but luckily I held myself together,' Higgins said afterwards.

On his poor start, he added: 'I was still feeling okay. I hadn't missed much and felt fine and that's half the battle. It's only you and your mind out there and I was still in the game so you just get on with it.'

Katherine Grainger: Sports Personality of the Year nominee

Homicide PhD and SPOTY nomination end London 2012 heroine Grainger's year to die for…

|

UPDATED:

23:41 GMT, 11 December 2012

Not once in 15 years had she merited so much as a sideways glance from a passing fan. Somehow, Katherine Grainger imagined that she would retain her blessed anonymity for ever. And she’s supposed to be the brains of the outfit…

In fairness, it's easy to see why the phenomenal rower with the equally impressive intellect – she has a Masters degree, with a PhD almost completed – should be stumped about nationwide fame and its potential hysteria.

After all, if an astonishing six world titles and three successive Olympic silvers hadn’t piqued much interest beyond her own sport, why should she expect the wider public to be swept up in her summer tale of sweet redemption and long-awaited reward

Gold standard: Grainger (right) was one of Team GB's heroes in the summer

Gold standard: Grainger (right) was one of Team GB's heroes in the summer

Protected in the bubble around so many elite athletes, she genuinely had no idea that finally landing an Olympic gold would stir emotions throughout the land.

Grainger, whose success with Anna Watkins in the double sculls provided one of the great moments of London 2012, told Sportsmail: 'I didn't realise until afterwards how much that gold medal meant to everyone. It’s probably a good thing, in hindsight.

'It was an incredible moment, with what it meant to Anna and me, as well as Paul Thompson, our coach. We were aware of what it meant to us and those close to us.

'The room Anna and I shared in the village was full of cards from people saying lovely things. But we had no idea the nation was following us, not until we went out in the Olympic Park a few days later.

'I've been doing this for 15 years and have never been recognised, ever. And I never expected to. Could I walk down a High Street Of course, I could. Nobody knows who I am. But we went into the Olympic Park, just excited to be finished and be out watching other sport.

'We got maybe 50 yards and got mobbed. People were hugging us, crying, wanting photos and autographs. We just couldn’t move.

Magic moment: Grainger's life changed after winning double sculls at Eton Dorney

Magic moment: Grainger's life changed after winning double sculls at Eton Dorney

'I stood there thinking, “Hang on a minute, how do you know who I am Are you sure you’re not mistaking me for someone else” That is when I got it. That is when I realise it wasn't just our story. It told me everything about the scale of the Games – that we would never see anything like this again.'

If the glory of London 2012 may never be repeated, the prospect of winning another Olympic gold shouldn’t be ruled out. At 37, Grainger is in no rush to decide.

Her life since the summer has been a whirlwind of events, ceremonies and appointments. She has delivered inspirational talks, including delivering the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Christmas Lecture, and chatted with schoolchildren.

If it has all felt like one extended celebration of a glorious Olympic summer, Glasgow-born Grainger knows she cannot avoid returning to her other great love, and a much darker subject, much longer – her homicide PhD, to be completed by the end of March.

'The original deadline was July 2012, which wasn’t great planning,’ she laughs. 'The university are hugely supportive, but they weren’t going to just stop for anything.

'So yes, I did expect an extension to take in the Olympics but I don’t expect them to give me anything beyond that.

'I thought I would give myself two or
three months to enjoy the post-Olympic experience, then imagined I’d be
back in the library hard at it by now. It hasn’t quite worked out like
that.

All smiles: Grainger with team-mate Anna Watkins

All smiles: Grainger with team-mate Anna Watkins

'So I've got until after Christmas to enjoy this, as it's a unique experience, then the new year will be all about getting the PhD done. It is homicide I’m studying and it is a dark subject but fascinating. It questions things politically, socially, morally, ethically. It shows where cracks start forming in our society.

'It's an emotional subject and it's fascinating to see how we've got to where we are now. It's a shame it has come at the same time as the Olympics as it has taken a back seat for the last year but it is time for it to come back to the fore.'

Long term, law may be where Grainger's future lies, but she says it is no more than ‘an option’. The girl who took up rowing at Edinburgh University almost 20 years ago strikes you as someone capable of succeeding in any field.

She’s enjoying staying indoors on freezing mornings, instead of doing double sessions on the water. She claims to look back on those with some fondness – 'That's how we achieved what we did' – but doesn't miss them.

Life has been more chaotic without the routine. Grainger says: 'The invitations come in. It’s a crazy mix of the incredibly formal, with heads of state, monarchs, you name it, to speaking to kids at the school where my sister teaches. I did that on Skype, so I could sit at home in my pyjamas!'

Next up for Grainger is Sunday night's BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, as one of 12 contenders of unprecedented quality.

'You don't always get invited, so the invitation just to attend SPOTY is wonderful,’ she says with typical self-effacement. ‘Then I got the call that I’m on the list. It has never happened for a female rower.

'It's odd to be nominated when Anna isn’t. But she knows how great it is for the sport and is hugely supportive.

'Any one of those athletes, looking at what they’ve achieved, there are iconic names, incredible results, multiple medallists. How do you narrow it down How do you even choose a top three

'To be in the top 12 in this year, of all years, the biggest year in British sport, is such an honour. Just being on the list is a prize in itself.

'I've got everything I ever wanted, I got it all in the summer. It’s been enough. More than enough.'

Mark Selby beats Shaun Murphy UK Championship final

Selby celebrates return to top of rankings with UK Championship victory over Murphy

|

UPDATED:

01:23 GMT, 10 December 2012

It was a case of better late than never for Mark Selby as he beat Shaun Murphy in the williamhill.com UK Championship final.

The Leicester man landed the biggest ranking event title of his career, tying up a 10-6 victory over his good friend Shaun Murphy at two minutes past midnight at the York Barbican Centre.

It was an appropriate way to mark his return to the world No 1 ranking, and Selby was warmly embraced by Murphy after wrapping up his win.

Done it: Mark Selby celebrates with the trophy after winning the final of the UK Snooker Championships

Done it: Mark Selby celebrates with the trophy after winning the final of the UK Snooker Championships

Selby, 29, had a 14-month spell as snooker's top-ranked player in which he failed to win a major trophy, and consequently he relinquished top spot to Judd Trump last month.

But Trump's first spell as number one was brief, ending when Selby reached the final at York's Barbican Centre. And there could be no better way for Selby to begin his second stint as the sport's leading player than with some long-awaited silverware.

He and Murphy looked to be perfectly matched as they shared the opening 12 frames today.

But just as a very late finish, well into the early hours of the morning, began to loom, Selby seized control and reeled off four straight frames after the interval to take the trophy and a 125,000 winner's cheque.

While Selby has won the Masters title twice, the UK Championship and World Championship titles had proved elusive. Now he has the first of those, the second will be his target in the second half of the season.

From 4-4 at the end of the afternoon action, they progressed to 6-6 by the evening mid-session interval, and in the best-of-19 contest that meant there were a possible seven frames still to play.

Selby needed only four.

It was no surprise the final was closely fought until its closing stages, with both men having needed to rely on battling tendencies to last the distance over the nine-day tournament.

Selby came from 4-0 behind to beat Neil Robertson 6-4 in the quarter-finals, while Murphy produced the tournament's finest fightback to stun Ali Carter in their semi-final, recovering from 8-4 adrift to win 9-8.

No 1: Selby will return to the top of the rankings

No 1: Selby will return to the top of the rankings

Selby had breaks of 54, 66, 70, 58, 51 and 98 in his success, while Murphy had 83, 98 and 65.

This was the first all-English final at the UK Championship since Jimmy White beat John Parrott in 1992. In those days the final was a best-of-31 match.

There was plenty riding on this final, with Murphy seeking his first ranking title for over 18 months and Selby bidding to lift his maiden UK Championship.

Selby now has a third ranking title to his name, still a meagre tally considering his great ability.

Murphy remains on four rankings titles.

Selby's charge began after the mid-session interval, and as Murphy's game began to deteriorate he took full advantage.

Murphy had the chance to pinch the 16th frame but could not hold his game together under intense pressure and Selby made certain of the title by clipping in the blue.

Selby was delighted at last to claim one of the game's two biggest ranking titles.

'I'm over the moon,' he said. 'It means a great deal to me and to beat someone of Shaun's class in a major final it makes it even more special.

Not to be: Shaun Murphy lost out to his close friend

Not to be: Shaun Murphy lost out to his close friend

'It was a strange game tonight. It wasn't pretty. I felt as if it wasn't even my arm half the time, twitching all over the place and flicking them in here and there.'

Murphy felt Selby deserved the victory.

'He's the hardest player on tour by a mile,' said Murphy. 'He's a worthy world No 1, he fully deserves it and he fully deserves tonight.

'This tournament doesn't owe me anything. I should have gone home to Luca [Brecel] in the quarters and I should have gone home to Ali in the semis. I've had a great week and I've had great support.

'I've played some good stuff and I've been beaten by the best in the world so it's not all bad.'

Selby conceded he too could easily have gone out of the tournament before the final.

'I never really give in until the last ball's potted, that's just me all over,' he said. 'If I wasn't like that there's no way I would have got to the final.

'Like Shaun, I should have gone out to Ryan Day, should have gone out to Neil, but here we both are in the final.'

With 125,000 in his bank account just before Christmas, he added: 'We can have a bit more tinsel and a few more baubles, so that's good.'