Tag Archives: ordeal

Pistorius ready to begin training as murder suspect visits Pretoria training base

Pistorius ready to begin training as murder suspect visits Pretoria training base

By
Associated Press

PUBLISHED:

17:56 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

07:14 GMT, 4 April 2013

Oscar Pistorius wants to train again and recently went back to visit his regular track in South Africa’s capital.

There was still no decision on an exact time-frame for the multiple Paralympic champion’s return to regular running, but Pistorius told his agent Peet van Zyl and coach Ampie Louw at a Tuesday meeting that he was 'definitely keen to get back on track to resume training,' the agent said.

'When, exactly, is his choice,' Van Zyl told AP on Wednesday.

Granted: Oscar Pistorius was freed on bail after being charged with the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Granted: Oscar Pistorius was freed on bail after being charged with the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Pistorius had also revisited his practice track in Pretoria on March 24, although he didn’t train, the agent said.

Pistorius last trained on a track over two months ago, and his last competitive race was his victory in the 400m final at the London Paralympics in September last year.

Van Zyl said Pistorius wasn’t ready 'mentally' to compete yet after he was charged with murder in the February 14 shooting of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home.

'From our meeting, it was clear and evident it’s going to take some time for him (to be ready to compete),” Van Zyl said. 'He’s trying to process this whole ordeal.'

Pistorius had also told his agent and coach that he would only consider running at the world championships in Moscow in August if he was in the right shape to run at the top level again.

'He (Pistorius) stated to me clearly yesterday, for the world champs, first he needs to be in some form,' Van Zyl said.

Back on track: Pistorius is keen to make a return to training, according to his agent

Back on track: Pistorius is keen to make a return to training, according to his agent

Still, Pistorius’ first significant move toward a return to the track on his carbon fiber running blades came at the meeting with his management team at the home of his uncle, Arnold Pistorius, on Tuesday night.

The 26-year-old Olympian has been staying at the house in the eastern suburbs of Pretoria since he was granted bail on February 22.

Victim: Steenkamp was shot dead in Pistorius' Pretoria apartment

Victim: Steenkamp was shot dead in Pistorius' Pretoria apartment

Pistorius denies murdering Steenkamp and says he shot her accidentally after mistaking her for an intruder in his house.

Prosecutors have charged him with pre-meditated murder and say he intentionally shot Steenkamp multiple times after the couple argued in the early hours of Valentine’s Day.

His next court appearance is on June 4.

Pistorius had visited his training track at the University of Pretoria with some other athletes, but hadn’t worked out properly, only doing a little jogging, Van Zyl said.

Although a high court ruling last week eased Pistorius’ bail restrictions on appeal and allowed him to travel to compete, Van Zyl said it would still take time to be ready for track meets.

'He hasn’t trained at all since the incident and you can’t expect him to go into competition. More important, mentally he is not there yet, he is some way off,' the agent said.

Long-time coach Louw, who discovered the double amputee’s talent for running when he was still a teenager, was eager, however, for the athlete to get back to training to help his mental process.

'Ampie was quite keen for him to start training as soon as possible so Oscar can get into some kind of routine,' Van Zyl said.

Ricky Hatton feels pain of defeat

Tears follow tragic mistake that turned into an ordeal for brave Hatton

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UPDATED:

01:01 GMT, 25 November 2012

Reality dawned deep into the ninth round. A left hook to the body stripped away the layers of self-delusion.

It ended the fight and it ended the unwisely extended career of Ricky Hatton.

He finished on his knees, gulping for breath, betraying the pain.

Sad end: Ricky Hatton after being counted out

Sad end: Ricky Hatton after being counted out

The tears began to flow, and Saturday night Manchester wept with him. His face was swollen, a purple bruise consuming his right eye.

He looked a broken fighter, a brutally broken man.

Vyacheslav Senchenko, at 35 a year older than Hatton, a smooth technician yet not a notoriously heavy puncher.

Body blow: Vyacheslav Senchenko knocks Ricky Hatton out with a body shot

Body blow: Vyacheslav Senchenko knocks Ricky Hatton out with a body shot

He is not a man equipped to take out a former world champion with a single body shot.

Yet you sensed that he had simply inflicted retribution for the life that Hatton had led during his three-and-a-half years of retirement.

Cocaine, depression, alcohol abuse, wanton excess; the list is notoriously long. And they all came rushing to the surface when Senchenko threw that shot.

Hatton had given his all in the only way he knows. His timing was helplessly astray, his ability to sustain pressure was sadly reduced.

But he came forward incessantly, despite being a caricature of the fighter he used to be.

Rough and tumble: The fighters fall to the canvas

Rough and tumble: The fighters fall to the canvas

Fighters are the most self-deluding of sportsmen, yet in the abject moments of defeat, Hatton seemed to glimpse the inevitable.

'I keep picking me a*** up off the floor,' he said. 'I don't know how many times I can do it. I'm not a failure, me. I'm not a failure. I'm so sorry, so sorry.'

But the words were spoken from a face which was taking on gargoyle proportions.

Even a light-punching welterweight can inflict depressing damage, and Senchenko had revealed a craftsman's style.

Bruised and battered: Ricky Hatton after the fight

Bruised and battered: Ricky Hatton after the fight

Hatton had gone through his routine in the manner of an old music-hall artist; knowing the lines, reacting to the cues.

From the grotesque choreography of the ring walk to the all-action, fast-punching, not-a-backward-step style, he had demanded the applause of 20,000 Mancunians, many of them quite sober.

But all the time you remembered that this was the man who had swollen his body to 15 and a half stones, and had then been required to lose half of his body weight to re-enter the ring.

Of course, he had little to offer in terms of endurance and punch tolerance. And yet, the ending still held the power to shock, as his legs betrayed him and his lungs refused to suck in the air.

The end: But will Ricky Hatton consider trying to fight on

The end: But will Ricky Hatton consider trying to fight on

The flatterers were already whispering as he left the ring.

Senchenko was a tough choice for the first fight back. Perhaps an easier opponent next time, working slowly to another title shot

But it was nonsense, dangerous nonsense. The comeback was a tragic mistake, the fight a terrible ordeal.

The career is over. And Ricky Hatton knows it, better than anyone.

India v England: Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha open up fresh spin wounds

There's no hiding England's spin scars but ruthless India open up fresh wounds

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UPDATED:

11:36 GMT, 16 November 2012

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And here we go again. If England are to save this game, they will have to do it the hard way: first avoid the follow-on, which means reaching 322, then survive whatever last-day ordeal is laid before them.

On the evidence of their catastrophic start to their innings this evening, they will do well to get as far as that. Spin bowling in Asia Only the opposition changes. The outcome remains resolutely the same.

As so often when a side is inserted late on the second day after spending far too many overs in the field, they made an inauspicious start when Nick Compton failed to glue bat and pad together as he played forward to Ravi Ashwin.

Tailspin: Jonathan Trott was one of three England batsmen to fall on day two

Tailspin: Jonathan Trott was one of three England batsmen to fall on day two

England then provided an insight into their negative mindset when they sent in Jimmy Anderson as a nightwatchman with as many as 20 minutes of the day to go. He lasted six of them before propping forward fatally to the left-arm spin of Pragyan Ojha.

Enter Jonathan Trott, who had been hoping to put his feet up until the morning. He poked his fourth ball to forward short leg: 30 for 3, and the scars of England’s three trips to Asia this year had been opened in an instant.

India v England – day two:

Click here to read the report on the day's play

And there are still three days to go, which means at least 270 overs in which their faulty selection for this game will continue to come back and haunt them.

Prior to Compton’s dismissal, one ball from Ojha went through the top, spun back wickedly past his forward grope, and apparently summed up the size of their task. They can hardly say they haven’t been warned.

While Cheteshwar Pujara was compiling an unbeaten 206 of enviable unfussiness and composure, England’s preference for Tim Bresnan ahead of Monty Panesar assumed the proportions of an outright gaffe.

Masterclass: Cheteshwar Pujara showed great composure during his double ton

Masterclass: Cheteshwar Pujara showed great composure during his double ton

But it is no good picking on Bresnan, who – remember – would have had Pujara out for just eight had Jimmy Anderson not misjudged the flight of the ball at mid-on shortly after lunch yesterday. He was chosen, did his best, and formed part of a seam-bowling triumvirate which returned collective figures of 70-10-245-1.

Since England’s three spinners – Graeme Swann, Samit Patel and Kevin Pietersen – combined for 90-12-265-7, the numbers told their own story. How India are loving this.

As if to highlight England’s selectorial folly, MS Dhoni threw the new ball to Ashwin, his off-spinner. So what if Umesh Yadav barely gets a bowl in this innings. Cricket is about adapting to different situations as it is about executing your blessed skill-set and playing to your strengths.

India are doing that expertly so far. Beyond Swann’s diligence, it’s not entirely clear what – in these conditions – England’s strengths are.

Thomas Ince: England U21s are stronger after Serbian scare

England are stronger after 'frightening' Serbian scare, says Ince ahead of U21 friendly

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 12 November 2012

Thomas Ince has spoken for the first time about the 'frightening' ordeal England's Under-21 squad suffered in Serbia but insisted the experience will make them stronger.

The Blackpool midfielder, who will win his fifth Under-21 cap on home soil at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night in the friendly against Northern Ireland, was one of several black England players who were racially abused during the Euro 2013 play-off in Krusevac last month.

UEFA will hold a hearing in Nyon on Thursday week after charging the Serbian Football Federation with alleged racist chanting; the SFF and the Football Association were also both charged with failing to control their players after a brawl erupted at the end of a game England won 1-0.

Stronger: Ince was speaking ahead of England's U21 clash with Northern Ireland

Stronger: Ince was speaking ahead of England's U21 clash with Northern Ireland

That victory secured England their fourth consecutive trip to a Under-21 European Championship but that record-breaking achievement was barely mentioned in the aftermath because of a litany of appalling events.

Ince, 20, admitted to 'being scared' when Serbia's coaching staff charged onto the pitch at the final whistle and attacked England's staff but he took comfort from the way his team-mates stood together and he reflected on the events with great clarity and maturity.

'You have to look back and say it is something in your life that you experienced but didn't want to,' said Ince.

Clash: England's qualification was marred by ugly scenes after the game

Clash: England's qualification was marred by ugly scenes after the game

Andros Townsend separates his team-mate Danny Rose and Sasa Markovic

'People get put into those situations and you just have to do the best you can. It was frightening but all the lads behaved well in the manner expected of an England player.

'The rest of the fiasco is out of the way now and we are looking forward to the summer. The camaraderie was fantastic. We all got back into the dressing room and everyone was scared but we all stuck together and pulled each other through.

'We just wanted to get through the tunnel into the dressing room and back home to where we would be safe. Now you can look back on it as an experience that we have had but we were together and showed our maturity.

Centre of attention: England boss Stuart Pearce speaks to the assembled media on Monday

Centre of attention: England boss Stuart Pearce speaks to the assembled media

'I think a lot of players would say they had been (racially) abused but in the game you just have to deal with it. That's just the way it is. No matter what colour of our skin, we all stuck together and did well. Whatever happened off the pitch is nothing to do with us.'

The FA remain furious the game was held in a provincial town in a primitive stadium and their anger has been exacerbated by the Serbian police attempting to press charges against defenders Tom Lees and Steven Caulker and assistant coach Steve Wigley for 'acting violently at a sporting event'.

Ince was erroneously named as someone who could face charges from one report that came out of Serbia.

Under scrutiny: Danny Rose was subjected to racist taunts by the Serbian fans

Under scrutiny: Danny Rose was subjected to racist taunts by the Serbian fans

England team to face N. Ireland

(4-2-3-1 probable): Amos: Smith, Lees, Wisdom, Robinson: Henderson, McEachran: Townsend, Powell, Ince: Wickham.

Curiously, the FA are still awaiting official confirmation from Serbia that the charges will be followed up.

'The game was live on ESPN and we all looked after each other,' said Ince.

'There is no sight of any fighting from England players; it was all about sticking together and getting back into the tunnel. It was weird (to hear about the charge). I looked at it and I'm thinking, “I didn't do anything.”

''Whatever Serbia want to throw at people they can throw at people. Whether it is yourself or any team-mates you all stick together and do the best you can.'

Should England win tonight, it will be the first time since 1991 they have won every Under-21 fixture during a calendar year but Ince is already looking forward to next summer and potentially playing at in Israel at Euro 2013.

'I'm very excited and it is great to represent your country at my home ground,' said Ince.

'Everyone has to work hard and try to impress (Stuart Pearce) to try and get in the team for the summer. There is everything to play for.'

John Terry not wanted to wear Kick It Out t-shirt

EXCLUSIVE: Terry to face Kick It Out backlash on return from ban

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 8 October 2012

Furore: Terry (right) is to serve a four-game ban

Furore: Terry (right) is to serve a four-game ban

John Terry faces fresh controversy after it emerged that the Kick It Out campaign have serious reservations about the Chelsea skipper wearing their T-shirts later this month.

Chelsea’s players are due to wear Kick It Out shirts with the message ‘one game one community’ for games against Tottenham on Saturday week and Manchester United eight days later.

If Terry appeals against his 220,000 fine and four-game ban for racially insulting Anton Ferdinand, he will be available to play in both matches.

Kick It Out chiefs will meet Chelsea officials in the next fortnight to discuss the potential ramifications and will raise their fears about the issue.

It has become a delicate area for Kick It Out after their public show of support for the Ferdinand family during the case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July, when Terry was cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence.

They have aligned themselves with the
Ferdinand family throughout the ordeal and welcomed the findings of the
FA’s independent regulatory commission, who condemned Terry in a report
published last week.

The
panel held that he had used the words ‘f****** black ****’ as a racial
insult against Ferdinand during that infamous game against QPR at Loftus
Road last October.

Fallout: Terry has received bad publicity over the incident

Fallout: Terry has received bad publicity over the incident

Champions League draw: Manchester City face Real Madrid, Ajax and Dortmund

City handed a Real ordeal! Mourinho, Dortmund and Ajax lie in wait

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UPDATED:

21:36 GMT, 30 August 2012

As Joleon Lescott said: ‘That is why they call it the Champions League’.

For Lescott and his Manchester City team-mates it is more like the European Cup of old this season; a competition that sees them drawn only against other league champions in the opening group stage.

Manchester United might dare point to their group and claim they face a similar such challenge. They have to meet the champions of Romania and Turkey, after all.

Scroll down for the full draw

Lying in wait: Manchester City face Real Madrid in a mouthwatering Champions League group

Lying in wait: Manchester City face Real Madrid in a mouthwatering Champions League group

But it is a tough road ahead for Roberto Mancini’s side if they want to arrive in Wembley next May, with the champions of Spain, Germany and Holland making it another difficult campaign for the relative new boys of the Champions League.

Group D stood for death in the Grimaldi Forum. Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund bring 14 European Cups between them to a four-club fight-out that looks more daunting for City than the group they failed to emerge from last season, which comprised Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal.

Patrick Vieira did not disagree when he emerged from the draw hall. ‘It’s not easy at all,’ said City’s football development officer. ‘It is the most difficult group but when you play the Champions League, you want to face these kind of teams and I’m sure the players are 100 per cent excited to go to the Bernabeu as well as the fantastic stadium in Dortmund and a big club like Ajax.’

City’s group campaign will begin at the Bernabeu and end at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. You have to wonder if Mancini is confident he has added enough quality to a squad who excelled in England but struggled in Europe last season.

Vieira said: ‘Mancini is the only one who can answer if he’s happy with the squad. One thing I am sure is Roberto will want to win the Champions League because he never won it as a player or a manager.

Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini

Real Madrid's Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho

Head to head: Roberto Mancini (left) and Jose Mourinho will do battle in the Champions League when Manchester City face Real Madrid

‘Winning the league and having the
experience in the Champions League last year will bring the belief that
we can win. That belief started with winning the FA Cup, then the
Premier League.’

Jose Mourinho’s involvement adds spice to what will be the first competitive game between City and Real. Mourinho succeeded where Mancini failed by guiding Inter Milan to Champions League glory and the Real manager had a tempestuous relationship with Mario Balotelli at the San Siro.

‘Unmanageable’ was how Mourinho described the eccentric Italian.

‘Mario is Mario and Jose is Jose,’ said Vieira with a smile. ‘Facing Madrid, Dortmund and Ajax, Mario will want to play and score goals. With the way he played in the Euros there is expectation for all of us.’

The prospect of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo return to Manchester is a further cause for excitement. He was here in Monaco, one of the three top nominees for a ‘UEFA best player in Europe’ award that went to Andres Iniesta. Before Michel Platini made the announcement, Lionel Messi shook the hands of the two presenters but blanked Ronaldo. No love lost there then.

Afterwards Ronaldo echoed the thoughts of Vieira. ‘Pretty difficult group,’ he said. ‘But we are ready. We are champions of Spain.’

Not impressed, Cristiano Andres Iniesta (centre) was named UEFA's Best Player in Europe

Not impressed, Cristiano Andres Iniesta (centre) was named UEFA's Best Player in Europe

Chelsea begin their defence with a
clash against the Italian champions at Stamford Bridge. With Real and
City on the Tuesday and Chelsea and Juventus on the Wednesday that is
some first week for the competition.

Olivier Giroud, having signed for Arsenal for 13million in the summer, will return to the club who sold him when Arsene Wenger’s side begin in Montpellier before meeting Schalke and Olympiakos later in the competition.

United have to be pleased. ‘Great draw,’ was how Peter Schmeichel described a group that includes Cluj, Galatasaray and SC Braga. Sir Alex Ferguson was a touch more cautious, however, after United also failed to progress from their group last season.

‘We have the experience of playing against Galatasaray in the past and will always remember the “Welcome to Hell” banners,’ he said. ‘So it’s always a difficult type of match.

‘Braga are one of the improving teams in that country. We’ve never played Cluj but after the experience of last year we don’t want to make any stupid errors this time. We will play our strongest team to make sure we get through.’

Better luck this time: Manchester United will be keen to avoid another embarrassing exit from the Champions League

Better luck this time: Manchester United will be keen to avoid another embarrassing exit from the Champions League

David Gill was here in Monaco and the United chief executive was asked to respond to reports that Wayne Rooney’s future at the club was now in doubt. ‘He’s definitely not for sale,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Celtic boss Neil Lennon demanded an apology after the ITV Football Twitter account wrote off his club’s chances after the draw by writing: ‘/08/30/article-2196054-14C25408000005DC-85_964x593_popup.jpg” rel=”” class=”lightboxPopupLink” onclick=”return false”>
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Champions League draw

Chelsea"s Gary Cahill praises John Terry

Cahill hails Terry's strength of character as he looks forward to rekindling partnership

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UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 17 July 2012

Gary Cahill has paid testament to Chelsea skipper John Terry for the way he 'steamrollered' through the mental ordeal of last week's racism trial.

Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand at Westminster Magistrates Court last Friday – finally ending his nine month nightmare.

But despite having a potentially career-ending conviction hanging over him, Terry helped his side to FA Cup and Champions League triumphs last season.

Good to be back: Gary Cahill is looking forward to playing again after injury

Good to be back: Gary Cahill is looking forward to playing again after injury

And speaking from the club's pre-season training base in Seattle, Cahill – who is the first Chelsea player to speak about the trial since it ended – said: 'John has gone through loads of stuff in his career, but the character he is, he just seems to steamroller over it and just motor on.

'So I don't think it will affect him in any way. Of course, everyone is happy with that (the verdict).

'The most important thing for us is that JT is playing in a Chelsea shirt, and I am sure that will be the case now so that is fantastic. When he comes back from holiday that will be behind him and put to bed.'

Terry will meet up with his Blues team-mates on the East coast leg of their US tour, with Roberto Di Matteo's side scheduled to arrive in New York on Friday night, ahead of Sunday's clash against Carlo Ancelotti's Paris St Germain.

Not guilty: John Terry faced a case against him after being accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

Not guilty: John Terry faced a case against him after being accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

And Cahill now hopes the fact he can play alongside Terry in the heart of Chelsea's back-four will help his international chances.

'It would be nice to think that playing alongside John week-in week-out, and Ashley [Cole], can help me get in the England team,' said the ex-Bolton man.

'There's some good understanding there between us because we train and play with each other every day. But only Roy Hodgson will decide that.'

Cahill looked all set to play a prominent role for England in Euro 2012 before Belgium's Dries Mertins' needless push in a pre-tournament friendly resulted in the defender breaking his jaw, an injury that ruled him out of the tournament.

The 26-year-old now hopes to get the chance to re-establish himself in Hodgson's plans when England face Italy in a friendly next month.

'Having to watch the Euros was horrible. For the first game I was in Spain with my family, I watched it and you see everyone lining up and singing the national anthem.

'It was not a nice moment because obviously I thought I should have been a part of that.

'But after a couple of weeks it sunk in and I stopped sulking and I was alright.' He added: 'That's football. It's such a roller coaster of emotions.

'One minute it's the best moment of you football career by far winning the Champions League, the next minute its probably one of the worst, because you miss out on the Euros, the first competition I would have been involved in. It's crazy.'

Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray to face David Ferrer on Centre Court after Marin Cilic win

No hassle for Murray, now for the hustle as British No 1 faces up to the in-form Ferrer

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UPDATED:

21:31 GMT, 3 July 2012

Andy Murray will be welcomed back on to Centre Court on Wednesday like the Prodigal Son, having served his time out in rain and windswept exile on Court No 1.

He survived the ordeal impressively. Facing a powerful man like Marin Cilic in a stop-start fourth round could have been a nasty excursion, but he handled it adroitly, running out a 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 winner before the elements had a chance to do their worst.

Job done: Andy Murray beat Marin Cilic to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon

Job done: Andy Murray beat Marin Cilic to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon

And now, again, for something
completely different. As in previous rounds, Murray's opponent bears no
relation to what has gone immediately before, with the tall and languid
Cilic replaced with the ultimate little hustler in David Ferrer.

The two men have emerged from the
toughest quarter of the draw to reach the last eight and if Murray has
done well to get this far without any major mishaps then Ferrer has been
even more convincing.

He is like those skilful Spanish
footballers who run and pass the opposition into oblivion, seemingly
incapable of feeling fatigue. Is he, as he maintained yesterday, not as a
good a player as Murray

Not again! The umbrellas went up soon after the resumption of Murray's match on Tuesday afternoon

Not again! The umbrellas went up soon after the resumption of Murray's match on Tuesday afternoon

Blown away: No 16 seed Cilic was no match for the impressive Murray on Court 16

Blown away: No 16 seed Cilic was no match for the impressive Murray on Court No 1

The 12-month rankings agree, although
the arguably more reliable season's 'race' does not. While Murray is
listed one place above Ferrer at four, the positions are switched when
2012 is looked at in isolation, with the Spaniard having a points
advantage of 3,395 to 2,600.

His immediate form is also superior,
having won the ATP event in Holland on grass the week before Wimbledon
and compiling a winning streak of eight matches on the turf. No wonder
Murray laughed when he was described to him as a 'clay-court
specialist'.

The last time they met was on the
dirt four weeks ago at the same stage of the French Open, with Ferrer
winning in four sets, but while he would choose that environment for a
duel the 25-year-old Scot would probably opt for grass.

Brit of alright: Murray stretches for a ball on Court No 1 on Tuesday afternoon

Brit of alright: Murray stretches for a ball on Court No 1 on Tuesday afternoon

Andy's girls: Murray's mum, Judy, and girlfriend, Kim Sears, in the stands at the All England Club

Andy's girls: Murray's mum, Judy, and girlfriend, Kim Sears, in the stands at the All England Club

Those who witnessed Ferrer's
surprise demolition of Juan Martin del Potro yesterday marvelled at just
how well he played, but the way Murray dealt with Cilic suggested he is
equipped for the task.

When Murray met Ferrer in Paris the
features of the match were the British player's inability to hold serve
after securing a break and the vulnerability of his forehand when moved
wide to his right.

Against Cilic, though, his serve was
impressive and his movement on to the forehand is superior on grass to
the slightly awkward way he slides on the clay.

Up next: Murray will face the in-form Ferrer for a place in the Wimbledon semi-final

Up next: Murray will face the in-form Ferrer for a place in the Wimbledon semi-final

Coach Ivan Lendl has made it a
priority to beef up Murray's second serve and it looks to be paying off,
with 71 per cent of points won against the Croat.

There were also 16 aces delivered
against a player with a massive wingspan so, even though Ferrer is an
outstanding returner, there is some encouragement for what is going to
be a key battleground. In the end it mattered little that they did not
come out until noon yesterday as the match was completed, although one
of the scheduling puzzles at this year's Championships was the decision
not to get under way at 11.30am, like the other outside courts.

Pop star: The Saturdays' member Molly King (right) watched Murray's impressive win over Cilic

Pop star: The Saturdays' member Molly King (right) watched Murray's impressive win over Cilic

What's going on Murray speaks to the umpire as rain starts to fall again on Tuesday

What's going on Murray speaks to the umpire as rain starts to fall again on Tuesday

After Rafael Nadal, the most missed
man at this year's event might be former chief executive Ian Ritchie,
recently departed to rugby, with his wealth of Wimbledon experience. It
has been a baptism of fire (or rainwater) for his successor Richard
Lewis, who has relatively little 'live' event experience.

At least they were on court very
promptly, unlike, say, at the rain-threatened French Open final, when
Nadal and Novak Djokovic did not start until 20 minutes past the
allotted hour.

Murray, resuming at 7-5, 3-1, kept
his focus either side of the rain delays, highlighting his supreme ease
of movement on the turf for someone 6ft 3in, running like a gazelle and
not once slipping over despite the greasy surface.

All the shots: British No 1 Murray hits a backhand during his demolition of the Croatian

All the shots: British No 1 Murray hits a backhand during his demolition of the Croatian

Great Scot: Murray looked comfortable despite all of the stoppages due to persistent rain

Great Scot: Murray looked comfortable despite all of the stoppages due to persistent rain

He added to the existing break when
he took the second set, Cilic reluctant to get up from his chair
afterwards in the steady drizzle. Strangely that was a precursor to the
most awkward game that Murray faced, with Cilic, the 16th seed, forcing
four break points at the start of the third.

There are certain signs you pick up
that tell you Murray is feeling good about himself, and one was the way
he pulled out excellent first serves, including two aces, when faced
with going behind.

Danger lurking: The Scotsman could face Tsonga in the last four

Danger lurking: The Scotsman could face Tsonga in the last four

Another was his willingness to keep
trying the drop shot which, while not working every time, succeeded
often enough to keep his opponent guessing. The decisive break came for
3-1 and he romped home after that, the business done by 2.10pm.

Now for Spain's Mighty Mouse, with
the winner to face either No 6 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or German
outsider Philipp Kohlschreiber. One thing we know for certain is that
between them they will produce a first-time Wimbledon finalist.

Put it there: The two competitors shake hands at the end of the three-set match

Put it there: The two competitors shake hands at the end of the three-set match

England coach Stuart Lancaster calls for attitude at altitude

Lancaster calls for attitude at altitude as England seek to hit new heights

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UPDATED:

19:59 GMT, 15 June 2012

England will attempt to harness a
healthy dose of fear at the Springboks' stronghold of Ellis Park
to keep this Test series alive.

However brutal and draining the
experience of losing 22-17 to the host nation in the first Test in Durban last Saturday, Stuart Lancaster's players are braced for an
altogether more arduous ordeal here at altitude on the Highveld when
they bid to defy the odds and produce an upset.

In your face: England will face a hostile crowd in Johannesburg

In your face: England will face a hostile crowd in Johannesburg

S Africa VS England

Some 6,000ft above sea level, the reshuffled, raw national team must contend with the thin air that will burn their lungs. There is also the small matter of the heavyweight Bok artillery of thunderous ball carrying and sustained aerial barrage.

Whatever the opposition hurl at England, it will be matched by the stifling intensity of the occasion at the Johannesburg venue renowned for the hostility of the home crowd. South Africa have a 70 per cent success rate at the stadium, which staged the 1995 World Cup final when the Boks ambushed favourites New Zealand to claim the Webb Ellis Cup. That episode enhanced the forbidding aura at Ellis Park, but the Lions won 28-9 there in 2009.

Graham Rowntree, the England forwards coach who was part of the management team then, hopes that England will be galvanised by playing here. 'It is an inspiring place – the Springboks' spiritual home,' he said. 'That's the beauty of these young men playing in these big stadiums steeped in history – it's such a great experience for them.

'I have fantastic memories of going there with the Lions and winning three years ago and I would love this to be as great an occasion as that was,' added Rowntree.

'You have to be turned on by the fear of going to play in these big stadiums in front of passionate home support. We have to use that to drive us on.'

High point: Chris Robshaw knows England are up against it

High point: Chris Robshaw knows England are up against it

As for the altitude factor, England have been at pains to play down its significance. However, the midweek team sampled the Highveld air on Wednesday. Test captain Chris Robshaw said: 'It's pretty tough. They passed on their experience of it and we've been training at altitude, but we won't really know what it's like until we get out there.'

Familiarity means that the conditions will work in favour of the hosts – assisting their lethal kicking game as the ball travels further – and they are more used to adjusting accordingly. England kicked and chased poorly last week, and they know that aspect of their game must improve.

Gamble: Stuart Lancaster has had to make changes

Gamble: Stuart Lancaster has had to make changes

Given the adventurous team selected by Lancaster and his assistants, the hope is that England will play with more attacking purpose and freedom and avoid becoming embroiled in another arm-wrestling contest. Robshaw alluded to that, saying: 'We played into their hands a bit last week. We have to have more balance. We need to move them round more and focus on what we are good at by playing with tempo.'

Toby Flood has been recalled to unlock the potential in the new-look back line by playing flat and opening gaps with subtle, clever distribution. One of the men aiming to benefit from his passing is London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph, who is making his full Test debut. The 21-year-old is determined to stay true to his attacking tendencies as he forms a new combination with Manu Tuilagi.

'It would be pointless being on the
pitch if I wasn't going to give it a real go,' said Joseph. 'I'm going
to stick to my game and hopefully it'll go well. They're big boys but
I'm ready to challenge them. I'm looking forward to it. I want to go
out there and prove a point.'

England are in enforced experimentation mode following the injuries to Brad Barritt and Mike Brown.

Adversity has created an opportunity and the 10-12-13 area now has a
balanced and potent look about it, although such optimism is based on
mere theory at this stage.

Nevertheless, the management have been bold in their selection so now
it just remains to be similarly daring in on-field intent. England will
not beat the Boks in a tight tussle, so they must aim to stretch them
in the wide areas.

Yet, as
is always the case, they can do so only from a solid platform. Rowntree
admitted that last week's effort in the scrum was 'unacceptable', so the
visitors are bound to be better in that crucial area this time.

They also need a strong carrying contribution from No 8 Ben Morgan, along with – at some stage – Thomas Waldrom, who was yesterday promoted to the bench after Phil Dowson withdrew with a tight hamstring.

However, even in likely defeat, England can provide hope for the future, as long as the onus shifts from being reactive to proactive, from absorbing to threatening, from containing to challenging.

Des Kelly: England don"t stand a chance, right? So just enjoy Euro 2012

Des Kelly: England don't stand a chance, right So just enjoy Euro 2012

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UPDATED:

00:45 GMT, 9 June 2012

Give me an E. Give me an N. Give me a
G. Actually, just give me a whole load of Es, because the only way I’m
going to carry on with this England cheerleader nonsense is if I’m on
mind-bending drugs.

There’s no need for the pom poms this
time. It seems the majority of people in this country have finally
accepted that we need to treat the national team in a truly English
fashion, with a cough of embarrassment and a muttered apology.

Over me head, son: Andy Carroll is caught out by a playful attack from team-mate Wayne Rooney in training

Over me head, son: Andy Carroll is caught out by a playful attack from team-mate Wayne Rooney in training

Over me head, son: Andy Carroll is caught out by a playful attack from team-mate Wayne Rooney in training

Instead of ranting and raving at the
inevitable — and yes, I include the media in this — the public have come
to regard the football side in the same way we view so many other
perennial disappointments of this nation’s daily life, like the weather,
public transport, daytime TV and Nick Clegg.

We put up with it. We make do. We
tell ourselves, ‘mustn’t grumble’, join the queue and wait patiently in
line for the only cashier on duty.

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It seems England has acknowledged it’s fine to keep the face paint to a minimum and leave the Jubilee bunting in the garage until the Olympics.

As far as the country is concerned, this Euro 2012 tournament is the sporting equivalent of a Bank Holiday washout, where people sit on the beach in the freezing rain, eating their ice cream cone under an umbrella. Yes, it is grim, but there is still a bloody-minded determination to extract some small delight from the ordeal, even if it is through chattering, gritted teeth.

In light of this prevailing mood, there should be no problem with the fact that most of the media believe Roy Hodgson’s side don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of success either.

Yet a constant moan is heard that England’s chances are somehow being undermined by reports suggesting — and you may need to sit down before you read this — the team aren’t particularly scintillating right now.

Broadcasters and Football Association suits are running around saying how we ‘must be positive’, as if Noel Edmonds’ cosmic ordering baloney will somehow propel Hodgson to the European crown.

Why It is not unpatriotic to remind everyone Hodgson is taking a depleted squad into a major championship after minimal preparation. Or that he has stupidly landed himself with an unpleasant subplot involving Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.

No matter what the FA ostriches think, it is not the media’s role to stand on the touchline waving little flags to ‘get behind the team’. Asking questions is the job.

And Hodgson has still not dealt with his ludicrous assertion that Ferdinand was left out of Euro 2012 for ‘football reasons’. Nor has the presence of obvious passengers in the squad like Martin Kelly or Jordan Henderson been accounted for.

Fostering a bond: England players visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and former concentration camp, in Oswiecim, Poland

Fostering a bond: England players visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and former concentration camp, in Oswiecim, Poland

Perversely, people have twisted the
pessimism into something else. This near-complete lack of expectation
has led to a bizarre ‘logic’ where some genuinely believe England will
do well — because it is assumed we won’t.
If I haven’t lost you already, the argument, as I understand it, seems
to be that because the squad are ostensibly poorer than any in recent
years, the pressure is off and this offers England a better chance of
victory.

Why didn’t we think of this ruse before If this is the yardstick of
likely success, then the favourites, Germany and Spain, are out of it
already while the Republic of Ireland will surely walk away with the
trophy because nobody gives them a prayer.

Such thinking says a great deal about the human spirit. Or it
demonstrates there are enough deranged mugs out there swallowing this
reverse psychology claptrap to keep bookmakers and casinos in business
for ever.

After a bit of spin-doctor coaching, no doubt, Wayne Rooney delivered an upbeat assessment as the team touched down in Poland.

‘We know we’re good enough to make the semis or the final,’ he said. ‘If
people don’t believe that, then it’s up to them, but I don’t see why we
can’t.’

Maybe it’s because they’re not wearing his red-rose tinted spectacles.
Of course, Rooney has to sound positive and it is right and proper he
should talk a good game. But what a shame he can’t play it too.

His stupid red card against Montenegro means he misses the opening two
group matches and England could be out of the tournament by the time he
has a chance to kick a ball rather than an opponent.

Waiting for action: Wayne Rooney will miss out on England's first two games

Waiting for action: Wayne Rooney will miss out on England's first two games

Once again, we are all hoping it might come better. If England feel
insulted by the negativity, maybe it will create a siege mentality
reminiscent of Bobby Robson’s squad during their run to the semi-finals
at Italia 90 But back then they could rely on quality too, with Gary
Lineker scoring goals and Paul Gascoigne providing the spark.

And England’s best European Championship showing was when Terry Venables
got the media and the public onside at Euro 96.

MY EURO 2012 PREDICTIONS

England to scrape through in second place behind France in Group D following a nervy win over Ukraine in the final match.

Despite a couple of dogged draws in a difficult group, Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland exit the competition in the first round.
England go one stage further than Ireland but surrender to Spain in the quarter-finals with barely a whimper.

In the semis, Germany beat Italy and the Spanish edge past Holland in a repeat of the fractious 2010 World Cup final.

On July 1, Germany deny Spain the chance to become the first nation to defend the title and Joachim Low’s men are crowned European champions for the fourth time.

CHAMPIONS: Germany

ENGLAND: Quarter-finals

That was on home soil
with Alan Shearer leading the line and Gazza still offering the odd
flash of unpredictable genius.

So forget counter intuitive psychology, or the media or ‘pressure’.
It’s about good players performing when the occasion demands.

And, besides a good goalkeeper and an able left back, there’s little of that class on offer in Hodgson’s squad without Rooney.

England should still get through their group. They have enough to
squeeze past Sweden and Ukraine and they will be tidy and organised.
This is probably the best that can be said about them — and maybe we
should accept that is how it will be.

This could help. A study in America showed that the majority of people
reading a book found it more pleasurable if they knew the ending in
advance.

San Diego psychologists gave their subjects 12 short stories and in
every single case those armed with a plot spoiler preferred the
experience. They were less anxious about the eventual outcome and could
therefore enjoy the detail of the story itself.

Let’s do the same with England at Euro 2012. There are two realistic
plotlines. Either England perform with style before they are knocked out
in the quarter-finals; or they bore everyone rigid before they are
knocked out in the quarter-finals.

Now that we know how this all ends, pass the popcorn and let’s enjoy it.

On side: England's best showing in a European Championship came in 1996, when there was a measured and enjoyable attitude towards the team

On side: England's best showing in a European Championship came in 1996, when there was a measured and enjoyable attitude towards the team

Zero chance

UEFA say they have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to racism. They announce this while turning a blind eye to the fact that black players in the Holland squad were subjected to monkey chants during training in Krakow.

So I assume when UEFA talk about ‘zero tolerance’ the zero relates to the amount of effort they intend to put in to tackle this vile behaviour.

Controversy: UEFA chief Michel Platini sparked outrage by suggesting players might be booked should they leave the field of playing protest against racism

Controversy: UEFA chief Michel Platini sparked outrage by suggesting players might be booked should they leave the field of playing protest against racism

Picking Beckham makes a mockery of the motto

Speaking of cheerleaders, the reasons
people are celebrating David Beckham’s tediously inevitable appearance
in the British Olympic football team appear to be:

a) There’s a chance they might get a glimpse of his underpants, and
b) Lots of people will turn up to see him.

On that basis, Robbie Williams should get the call. He draws a crowd and even plays soccerball in the United States on occasion.

Hands up who wants in: David Beckham

Hands up who wants in: David Beckham

But ignore the bogus suggestions that Beckham can lay claim to an Olympic place based on football ability.

He will be in the side simply because of his celebrity status. This is why the British Olympic Association have told Stuart Pearce that he must pick the LA exile. He shifts tickets and will keep the three-striped sponsors happy.

To be fair to Beckham, he was an outstanding talent. Although he never makes a shortlist of the best-ever Premier League footballers, he was a superb club servant. Barring the odd silly episode, he turned out on England duty with pride too and was always charming enough to warrant his fame.

But it is all past tense on the playing front. His best was some years ago. If he has a role with Team GB, it is on the sidelines next to Pearce as an ambassador and member of the backroom team.

Olympic football should be about youth, promise and the future, not all our yesterdays and fool’s gold. Otherwise it is time to change that Olympic motto to ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius… vel Celebrer’.
Higher, Faster, Stronger… or Famous.

Interesting. Or not

Alan Shearer interviewed Wayne Rooney on the television this week. For some reason it reminded me of the day he creosoted his garden fence after winning the Premier League title.