Tag Archives: procession

Australian Open 2013: Maria Sharapova wins first round

Sharapova begins Melbourne campaign with double-bagel win over compatriot Puchkova

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

01:41 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

04:03 GMT, 14 January 2013

Maria Sharapova dispelled any uncertainty over her fitness with a ruthless demolition of Olga Puchkova at the Australian Open today.

The Russian was forced to pull out of the warm-up event in Brisbane after suffering a collarbone injury shortly before Christmas.

But in her first competitive match of 2013 she showed no signs of rustiness by brushing aside her Russian countrywoman 6-0 6-0 in just 55 minutes.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Maria Sharapova eased through to the second round in Melbourne

Signed, sealed, delivered: Maria Sharapova eased through to the second round in Melbourne

Sealed with a kiss: Maria Sharapova cruised to victory against Olga Puchkova

Sharapova's dominance was only threatened in the early stages when Puchkova, ranked 107 in the world, held two break points in the opening game but the second seed gave an early demonstration of her physical state with two booming aces to avert the danger.

From there on in it was a procession as the first match of the tournament on the main show court – Rod Laver Arena – ended in a disappointing no-contest.

Sharapova reached the final last year before being crushed by world No 1 Victoria Azarenka and she is hoping to go one better this year and repeat her Melbourne triumph of 2008.

She said: 'After a couple of close games I started to concentrate a bit better.

Sealed with a kiss: Sharapova had too much in her locker as she crushed compatriot Olga Puchkova (below)

Sealed with a kiss: Sharapova had too much in her locker as she crushed compatriot Olga Puchkova (below)

Plenty to ponder: Puchkova was hopelessly outclassed by Sharapova

'I didn't want to focus on the fact I hadn't played a lot of matches but just focus on what was ahead of me and really be aggressive.

'Today was a good scoreline.'

Although she didn't drop a game, Sharapova insisted there was still room for improvement.

'It's tough to feel completely satisfied,' she said.

'You always want to improve on things and work on certain things that you feel will help you in the later rounds towards the end of the second week.

'But overall I was happy with the way I started considering I didn't play any matches coming in.'

Tito Vilanova returns to dugout as Barcelona win 4-0 against Espanyol

Vilanova returns to dugout as Messi gets his first of the year in 4-0 Barca win

PUBLISHED:

20:22 GMT, 6 January 2013

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UPDATED:

21:02 GMT, 6 January 2013

Tito Vilanova returned to the Barcelona bench with the minimum of fuss tonight as his side got all of their work done inside the first 30 minutes of the Catalan derby.

Manager Vilanova, back at the helm after a brief spell out for surgery on his parotid gland after contracting cancer for the second time, was given the easiest of nights as his stellar cast of players made life comfortable for him.

They had scored all of their goals by the time the 30th minute ticked by and after that it was procession football, with Pedro twice denied a hat-trick by the offside flag while other chances also passed.

Back with a bang: Pedro Rodriguez scores past Kiko Casilla

Back with a bang: Pedro Rodriguez scores past Kiko Casilla

After Xavi had opened the scoring, Pedro then chimed in with his brace before Lionel Messi set off on his pursuit of 100 goals this year with a penalty.

The Argentinian scored a record-breaking 91 times in 2012 and is expected to go even further this time around. His only regret will be that he did not make the most of the leisurely second-half conditions.

The writing was on the wall for Javier Aguirre's side early on, with Xavi's goal setting the template for how Barca would play all night.

All together now: Barcelona's players celebrate their 4-0 win

All together now: Barcelona's players celebrate their 4-0 win

Messi slid a pass through to Andres
Iniesta on the left, the cut-back arriving for Xavi to tap in from close
range, and he opened his body slightly to make the finish.

Three minutes later Messi and Cesc
Fabregas combined to release Iniesta but he was denied by Francisco
Casilla, but the keeper could do nothing as Pedro got his first in the
15th minute.

Again it was from a cut-back, this
time from Fabregas, and at first it looked as though it was Messi`s
goal, with replays then showing Pedro got the slightest of touches to
his shot.

Good to be back: Tito Vilanova returned to the dug-out to see Barcelona win 4-0

Good to be back: Tito Vilanova returned to the dug-out to see Barcelona win 4-0

It was three with 27 minutes gone,
Pedro racing onto Sergio Busquets' defence-splitting pass and lobbing
Casilla, and the keeper was all at sea again a minute later as he
bundled over Fabregas as he went away from goal.

Messi duly stepped up and converted from the spot, the first goal of what will no doubt be many this year.

The brakes were applied a little after that, with Espanyol defending better and Barca not as incisive. Casilla denied

In the goals: Lionel Messi scored his first goal of 2013

In the goals: Lionel Messi scored his first goal of 2013

Fabregas and a flag denied Pedro a 65th-minute hat-trick when Fabregas, crossing after Messi`s pass, was called offside.

The same thing happened again with 17
minutes left as Pedro chipped wide to Alves and then followed in to
score from the cross, while Espanyol`s only real chance ended with
Victor Valdes saving from a clean-through Juan Albin.

Messi then rattled the bar with a
25-yard free-kick, but after such an early rush, there would be no more
goals as Barca restored their 16-point lead over Real Madrid.

Celtic 2 St Mirren 0 match report:

Celtic 2 St Mirren 0: Wanyama and Hooper on target in Parkhead stroll

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UPDATED:

17:41 GMT, 15 December 2012

Goals from Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper either side of the break
gave Celtic a comfortable win over St Mirren in their Clydesdale Bank
Premier League clash at Parkhead.

In the 15th minute of a one-sided first-half peppered by Hoops penalty
appeals, none of which were given, midfielder Wanyama opened the scoring
at the second attempt following a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

Scramble: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (4th L) scores against St Mirren

Scramble: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (4th L) scores against St Mirren

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Ambrose (Izaguirre 72), Wilson, Matthews, Brown, Kayal (McCourt 85), Wanyama, Mulgrew,S amaras (Nouioui 76), Hooper. Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Miku, Rogne, Watt.

Goals: Wanyama 15, Hooper 83.

St Mirren: Samson,van Zanten, McAusland, Goodwin, Dummett, Teale, McGinn, Robertson (Guy 82), McLean, Imrie, Thompson (Parkin 74). Subs Not Used: Chris Smith, McGowan, Carey, Reilly, Barron.

Booked: Goodwin.

Ref: Calum Murray (Scotland).

The latest SPL table, fixtures and results

Saints showed resilience if nothing else as they withstood a constant Celtic procession towards their goal but seven minutes from time they succumbed again when former Scunthorpe forward Hooper struck from close range, following another Mulgrew corner.

The Buddies' last victory at Celtic Park was in 1990 and since taking over the St Mirren hotseat in 2010 Danny Lennon has failed to manage a point or even a goal against the champions and earlier in the season the Hoops strolled to a 5-0 victory in Paisley.

Thus, there was no surprise that Celtic emerged victors but it should have been a more convincing scoreline. The Parkhead club will discover in Thursday's Champions League draw who they will face in the last-16 of the competition and they will certainly have to be more ruthless if they are to progress further.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon had called it right when he brought Wanyama and Hooper back in to the side for Emilio Izaguirre and Lassad Nouioui who both dropped to the bench.

Saints boss Lennon also made two changes with midfielder Jon Robertson in for suspended stopper Lee Mair and wide-man Dougie Imrie replacing striker Lewis Guy who started as substitute.

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the opening goal

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the second goal

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the opening goal

Celtic started in determined mood and in the fifth minute, following a Mulgrew corner, there was a penalty appeal amid Wanyama's header and Efe Ambrose's subsequent shot but referee Calum Murray ignored the pleas, perhaps blinded by the sheer number of Saints defenders in the box.

The official took more stick from the Hoops fans when he ignored a further penalty claim when it looked like an Adam Matthews cross from the by-line might have hit a Buddies arm and also when he judged Saints skipper Jim Goodwin and defender Paul Dummett had not sandwiched Hooper in the box.

However, moments later that was all forgotten when Wanyama knocked the ball in from close range after his header from a trademark Mulgrew corner had been spilled by Saints keeper Craig Samson.

In the 26th minute, as the home side continued to monopolise possession, striker Georgios Samaras sent a shot from the edge of the box wide of the far post, before the Greek's low drive from 25 yards moments later drew a decent save from Samson.

With the beleaguered Buddies hanging on, but only just, Ambrose flashed a drive over the bar following yet another Mulgrew corner.

So close: Celtic's Scott Brown (2nd R) attempts a diving header

So close: Celtic's Scott Brown (2nd R) attempts a diving header

At first glance. the interval respite looked to have revitalised the visitors.

With three minutes played in the second-half midfielder Kenny McLean combined with Robertson before sending a drive from the edge of the box over the bar.

However, Celtic should have doubled their lead in the 51st minute when Samaras' cross from the by-line to the back post allowed Hooper to set up Scott Brown, whose point-blank header was blocked by Samson, with the Hoops skipper taking a bang in the face for his troubles.

The home fans were growing increasingly irritated by Celtic's apparent determination to walk the ball into the net. Just after the hour-mark, Wanyama, perhaps sensing the mood of the crowd, tried his luck with a 30-yard drive which bounced off Samson but away to safety, before Celtic defender Mikael Lustig headed a Mulgrew corner off the bar, with the Paisley side surviving again.

Despite Celtic's reticence in front of goal the visitors still looked unlikely to level but the Celtic support held its breath during a rare away break in the 66th minute when midfielder John McGinn's left-footed drive had keeper Fraser Forster scrambling down to his left to save.

The home side kept pressing for the second goal and in the 79th minute, after Goodwin was booked for a foul on Hooper 30 yards from goal, Mulgrew sent his curling free-kick over the wall but just past the post.

However, Hooper made sure of the points when he was in the right place to flick in after Mulgrew's corner had landed at his feet a couple of yards out after coming off Marc McAusland.

There was still time for Samson to make another save from Hooper down at his right-hand post but by that time the destination of the points were more than certain.

Steve Hansen"s New Zealand can be the best of all time

Hansen's New Zealand are on the brink of immortality: Why Richie and Co can be the best of all time

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UPDATED:

00:44 GMT, 30 November 2012

Rich talent: McCaw is the leader of this All Black side

Rich talent: McCaw is the leader of this All Black side

Since taking overall charge of a World Cup-winning squad that only just staggered over the line against a superior France side last year, Steve Hansen has achieved more than simply turning the All Blacks into a much more formidable force.

He has made them, potentially, the most successful New Zealand team of all — and that truly is saying something.

The precision of their high-octane game, the simplicity of their passing, their off-loading in the heaviest traffic, all add up to an irresistible force based on supreme athleticism.

In their quest for perfection, they found it in purple patches against Scotland and then against Wales before declaring at 33-0 with 20
minutes left.

They are as far ahead of the game as New Zealand’s first World Cup-winning team was 25 years ago. After 19 wins and one draw in their
last 20 Tests, it can be but a matter of time before they eclipse the 23-match record set by Wayne Shelford, Michael Jones and company.

No team has ever won successive World Cups. If Richie McCaw and Dan Carter are fit, this one surely will.

Yes, even better than these great sides

1987-90

The presence of Wayne Shelford and the advent of the peerless Michael Jones in the same back row turned the inaugural World Cup into a no-contest.

The All Blacks made the tournament a procession, starting with a 70-point rout of Italy.

For a young Londoner it turned into a fairytale. John Gallagher emigrated from London to Wellington to pursue a career in the police and play a bit of rugby.

Unstoppable: Wayne Shelford and the All Blacks romped to World Cup glory in 1987

Unstoppable: Wayne Shelford and the All Blacks romped to World Cup glory in 1987

In next to no time he had bridged the chasm between turning out for Old Askeans, his local club in Kent and winning the World Cup.

France in the final provided the most testing opposition and they still lost by 20 points.

1905

Wherever they went in the British Isles, the ‘Originals’ treated crowds to a brand of rugby they had never seen before and not just because their goalkicking full back, Billy Wallace, wore a trilby during the first match against Devon.

Captained by Dave Gallaher, a native Irishman from a fishing village in Co. Donegal, the prototype New Zealand touring team set the standard for the next century.

The Originals: The 1905 team were the first to undertake a tour outside Australasia

The Originals: The 1905 team were the first to undertake a tour outside Australasia

The Scots did their best to avoid them, threatening to cancel their fixture by claiming a daily allowance of three shillings (15p) made the visitors professionals.

Gallaher’s team won 31 out of 32 matches, losing only to Wales in controversial circumstances — and the late refusal of a Bob Deans try is still a sore point.

1996

There were times during the 20-odd years when Australia, South Africa and, all too briefly, England monopolised the World Cup that the All Blacks were still the team to beat — never more so than the year after they lost the 1995 final to South Africa.

Sean Fitzpatrick proved the point, captaining the first and so far only New Zealand team to win a Test series in South Africa, 3-0. Christian Cullen introduced himself with seven tries in two Tests.

The team: Cullen; Wilson, Little, Bunce, Lomu; Mehrtens, Marshall; Brown, Fitzpatrick, Dowd; R Brooke, I Jones; M Jones, Z Brooke, Kronfeld.

Whitewash: New Zealand stormed South Africa following the 1995 World Cup

Whitewash: New Zealand stormed South Africa following the 1995 World Cup

Quite the artist: George Nepia

Quite the artist: George Nepia

1924-5

Cliff Porter’s invincibles went one better than the 1905 team, winning all 32 matches. A 19-year-old Maori, George Nepia, played in every single one of them, an incredible feat considering the tour began in mid-September and finished four months later.

Nepia redefined the role of the full back, turning it into an art-form. He and his fellow backs ran riot behind a pack powerful enough to have blasted through every opponent, although one report claimed that several All Black forwards should have been sent off during the tour.

One fact remains beyond dispute — their record of invincibility has still to be matched.

Hard but fair: Whineray

Hard but fair: Whineray

1963-4

Wilson Whineray’s squad won 34 of their 36 matches, drawing 0-0 against Scotland and losing in a mudbath at Newport to a drop goal by John ‘Dick’ Uzzell. Whineray, later knighted, earned a reputation as a hard but scrupulously fair forward.

A former heavyweight boxing champion, his tough-as-old-boots mentality was never better exemplified than during the Ireland match when a punch from Willie-John McBride threatened to chop Colin ‘Pine Tree’ Meads down
for a long count.

‘Stay on your feet for Christ’s sake,’ Whineray told a staggering Meads. ‘Don’t let them know you’re hurt or we’re done for.’

London Welsh 16 Bath 9: – match report

London Welsh 16 Bath 9: Super Scott boosts Exiles survival hopes with 70-yard try

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UPDATED:

18:28 GMT, 4 November 2012

A 70-metre try from wing Nick Scott with the last action of the match gave London Welsh an unlikely but crucial win in their battle for Aviva Premiership survival.

Scott picked off Stephen Donald's telegraphed pass and had sufficient pace to hold off the cover for the match-winning try, which Gordon Ross converted.

It was the only try in a desperately poor game and a draw would have been a fair result as neither side played well enough to deserve a win.

Charge: Nick Scott piles through the Bath defence

Charge: Nick Scott piles through the Bath defence

Bath had the better scoring opportunities but though they went close on a number of occasions, they failed to take them. They had the more inventive backs but their scrum was continually under pressure.

Welsh were dogged throughout but provide no attacking spark and until Scott's effort, never threatened the try line.

Bath had an early chance for points but Donald was off target with a 40-metre penalty attempt.

Moments later, Welsh had their opportunity which they also failed to take as Gavin Henson was narrowly wide with his 45-metre kick – but with 10 minutes gone, the outside half was successful from 40 metres to put his side ahead.

Despite this reverse, Bath had the better of the first 15 minutes, desperate defence keeping the visitors out as Ben Williams and Michael Claassens made holes in the Welsh defence.

Against the run of play, the hosts broke out to win a penalty for Henson to extend their lead with a simple 25-metre kick.

Leap: Martin Purdy wins a line-out for London Welsh

Leap: Martin Purdy wins a line-out for London Welsh

The second quarter was more evenly contested, with the Welsh pack matching their opponents, but following a sustained drive from the Bath forwards the hosts were penalised and Donald made no mistake from 30 metres out.

The remainder of the half saw an abundance of penalty awards and a procession of aimless kicking, with Donald and Tom Arscott the worst culprits.

With the last movement of the half, Bath lock Dave Attwood did get over the line but he was held up by some stout home defence, allowing Welsh to retain their fortunate 6-3 lead at the interval.

Bath began strongly after the restart. Powerful runs from Williams and Matt Banahan gained them some momentum but the visitors lost a crucial scrum in front of the Welsh posts when they were easily pushed off their own ball.

However they did gain some reward when after 51 minutes Donald kicked his second penalty to tie up the scores.

No trouble: Tyson Keats gets his pass away during the match at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford

No trouble: Tyson Keats gets his pass away during the match at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford

With 20 minutes to go both teams made changes, with Henson and Banahan being the major casualties as they were replaced by Ross and Horacio Agulla respectively.

Exiles lock Kirill Koulemine was penalised for pulling down at the line-out and a well struck penalty from Donald put Bath into the lead for the first time.

With 10 minutes to go, Bath conceded a scrummage penalty. Ross' 45-metre kick was badly struck and fell short but with 90 seconds remaining on the, clock the outside half was successful from 30 metres to bring his side level.

Scott's heroics at the death then sealed the win.

Ryder Cup 2012: Ian Poulter shows bulldog spirit: But Europe face huge task to defeat USA

Pumped-up Poulter shows bulldog spirit… but Europe face huge task to defeat USA

By
Malcolm Folley

PUBLISHED:

00:20 GMT, 30 September 2012

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UPDATED:

00:39 GMT, 30 September 2012

Ian Poulter, a fist-pumping, snarling, bulldog of a golfer, offered the European team outside hope of defending the Ryder Cup here.

Poulter holed a 12-foot putt on the 18th green to defeat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson with his fifth consecutive birdie. On the side of the green, the European team celebrated as one while Rory McIlroy embraced his playing partner.

It was a one-man show of defiance from Poulter. ‘It’s going to be bloody hard tomorrow, but we’ve got to take it to them,’ he said.

Fist of fury: Ian Poulter celebrates after keeping his nerve to win a point for Europe in the final match

Fist of fury: Ian Poulter celebrates
after keeping his nerve to win a point for Europe in the final match

Poulter and McIlroy’s victory came
minutes after Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia had defeated Tiger Woods and
Steve Stricker by one hole as Europe at least reminded the Americans
they remain in a fight. As a result of the late European heroics, the
Americans will begin the final day 10-6 ahead.

‘Poulter was awesome,’ said McIlroy. ‘When he gets that look in his eye he can do anything.’

At last the American crowd was made
to feel nervous; at last this Ryder Cup had become a contest rather than
a ceremonial procession for those representing Uncle Sam. Finally, the
tension was palpable.

Grim viewing: Jose Maria Olazabal cannot bear to watch

Grim viewing: Jose Maria Olazabal cannot bear to watch

Jose Maria Olazabal has been a
low-profile captain, at times appearing invisible. Yet, behind closed
doors after a ragged, unprofitable first day for the stars of the
European game, he voiced his displeasure in a speech of controlled
anger.

‘We got the hair dryer treatment,’
said Graeme McDowell. And McIlroy, a fervent Manchester United fan,
added: ‘It was a roasting, real Sir Alex Ferguson stuff.’

Olazabal failed to generate the
response he had hoped for until the end of a momentous day. Yet Davis
Love III’s men need just 4 more points to reclaim the trophy.

Olazabal’s captaincy of the European
team is unlikely to be regaled in tales of wonder. For when the story of
the 39th Ryder Cup is retold, we will think of Americans Keegan
Bradley, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson and the ageless Phil
Mickelson burying the reputations of the finest golfers from the other
side of the Atlantic beneath the first fall of leaves at the Medinah
Country Club.

We will struggle to understand how
Olazabal had been unable to galvanise such renowned players as McIlroy,
Donald, Lee Westwood, McDowell, Garcia and Justin Rose into offering
greater resistance.

‘It’s a crisis now,’ said Colin
Montgomerie, who proved a shrewd captain of Europe at Celtic Manor two
years ago. ‘Our players haven’t performed to their ability and that’s
why the gap has widened all the time.’

Defining moment: Dustin Johnson (centre) celebrates sinking a birdie putt to win the 17th hole

Defining moment: Dustin Johnson (centre) celebrates sinking a birdie putt to win the 17th hole

In Wales, Monty had been a general
buzzing around the course from match to match, like Seve Ballesteros had
done so memorably at Valderrama in 1997.

Once Olazabal had worked in magical
tandem with his late friend in the Ryder Cup, yet his desire to emulate
Ballesteros’s triumph as captain was fading faster than the sun setting
over Chicago.

‘The difference has been mainly
around the greens,’ said Olazabal. ‘Our boys are not making the putts.
And, it’s true, some of them haven’t performed to their expectations.’

Fighting against the tide: Sergio Garcia (right) congratulates Luke Donald after winning the eighth hole

Fighting against the tide: Sergio Garcia (right) congratulates Luke Donald after winning the eighth hole

Only an exceptional performance from
every man in the European team in the 12 single matches can deny the
Americans from reclaiming Sam Ryder’s old trophy. That seems unlikely.
On what we know, all that is to be determined is the scale of the
American victory.

Inside the European team there is an
air of despondency that is too late to be dispersed. Each putt that
failed to go in — and Nicolas Colsaearts was a victim of some cruel
near-misses — brought closer the reality of defeat.

Donald tried to make sense of the
manner in which Bradley has placed the Ryder Cup under his spell.
Bradley, 26, from Woodstock, has made sweet music in harmony with Phil
Mickelson to the unbridled joy of the home crowd.

‘Keegan’s been like a rock star this week,’ said Donald.

US yay: Keegan Bradley shows his delight as the Americans stamp their authority on the morning foursomes, to the delight of the home crowd

US yay: Keegan Bradley shows his delight as the Americans stamp their
authority on the morning foursomes, to the delight of the home crowd

Bradley and Mickelson won their third
point by defeating Donald and Westwood 7&6 in the morning
foursomes. It was perhaps as much humiliation as a man can experience
with his clothes on and equalled the worst-ever Ryder Cup beating, when
Nick Faldo and David Gilford were flattened by Paul Azinger and Mark
O’Meara at Kiawah Island 21 years ago. If that 1991 Ryder Cup became
known as the War on the Shore, there is a distinct possibility this
might become the Mismatch at Medinah.

By lunchtime, the United States had
stretched their lead to 8-4, having won the foursomes 3-1. Everywhere
you looked American golfers were pumping fists as a pall of glumness
descended over the Europeans.

It was unimaginable to suppose
Westwood, a man with a record of distinction in seven previous Ryder
Cups, could play so disappointingly. Yet too many European players have
been far from their best.

It would be inexcusable if credit was
not paid to the Americans, so expertly managed by Love. When the
moment arises, Olazabal will accept defeat with dignity and a warm
handshake but his swansong in the Ryder Cup was not supposed to end like
this.

Ricky Burns beats Kevin Mitchell in Glasgow

Feel the Burns: Rampant Ricky blasts through Mitchell to win 'Battle of Britain' and retain world belt

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UPDATED:

23:23 GMT, 22 September 2012

Burns stunned Kevin Mitchell in front
of a raucous crowd in Glasgow to retain his world lightweight title in
breathtaking fashion.

The Scot, defending his WBO belt for
the second time, took the fight to his opponent from the first bell and
never relented in a staggering display.

Mitchell was floored twice in the
fourth round before yet another unanswered flurry of punches forced the
referee to call a halt to the bout.

Impressive: Ricky Burns aims a punch at Kevin Mitchell during his convincing victory

Impressive: Ricky Burns aims a punch at Kevin Mitchell during his convincing victory

Billed as a 'Battle of Britain', Burns turned the fight into a procession, beating the Englishman to the punch time and time again before pinning him to the ropes and unloading.

Controlling the fight with his jab and always looking to land the right to head and body, Burns edged the opening exchanges of the first round.

Mitchell looked to respond where he could but the bout burst into life when the pair went toe-to-toe with neither giving an inch.

Down and out: Ricky Burns knocks Kevin Mitchell down

Down and out: Ricky Burns knocks Kevin Mitchell down

The home favourite continued to dominate in the second stanza as the pace of the bout refused to relent.

Mitchell served the champion with some timely reminders of his punching power but it was he who was taking some hefty punishment.

Mitchell showed he was not fazed by the Scot's flying start in the third round when, pinned to the ropes, he beat his own chest in a mocking show of defiance.

Punishing: Ricky Burns goes on the attack

Punishing: Ricky Burns goes on the attack

But if that was an indication that he was forcing his way into the contest, the sizeable English contingent in the crowd were silenced minutes later.

Burns' pressure fighting paid off as he floored Mitchell twice in quick succession and although he rose on both occassions, Burns' victory was inevitable and 10,000 fans rose as one to salute their hero.

Burns is set to defend his title again in December with countryman Scott Harrison a possible opponent.

US OPEN 2012: Novak Djokovic beats Juan Martin Del Potro

Djokovic to meet Ferrer in US Open semi-final after beating Del Potro in straight sets

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UPDATED:

05:40 GMT, 7 September 2012

Novak Djokovic showed he is very much the man to beat at the US Open with a stunning display to defeat Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets in the quarter-finals.

The 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 scoreline does not remotely tell the story of a match where 2009 champion Del Potro threw everything at last year's winner only to see it come back with interest.

Djokovic said: 'Even though it was straight sets it was much closer than that. He's a great player. I was lucky in the second set.

Marching on: Djokovic is the defending champion and favourite for the title

Marching on: Djokovic is the defending champion and favourite for the title

'We played some incredible points. It's always entertaining to play at night – so much fun. This is very special and I'm really happy to be in the semi-finals.'

Djokovic will now play fourth seed David Ferrer, who beat Janko Tipsarevic in another classic earlier on Thursday, in a rematch of a last-four clash from 2007.

Djokovic lost to Roger Federer in the final that year but, with the world No 1 knocked out by Tomas Berdych on Thursday, the second seed assumed the favourite's mantle.

So easy had the Serbian's progress been until this point, it was difficult to tell how well he was playing.

Titanic battle: Del Potro threw everything he had at Djokovic

Titanic battle: Del Potro threw everything he had at Djokovic

Titanic battle: Del Potro threw everything he had at Djokovic

Djokovic had seemed out of sorts at Wimbledon and the Olympics, where Del Potro beat him to the bronze medal, but he showed on Arthur Ashe Stadium he is back to the form that brought him three grand slam titles last season.

The first set was a bit of a procession as Del Potro struggled to find his rhythm on his huge groundstrokes but the second was tennis of the highest order.

Djokovic began by losing the first 10 points but was soon back on song and it became a tale of attack versus defence as Del Potro unleashed huge shots only to see the defending champion somehow retrieve almost every one.

The Argentinian served for the set at 5-4 but could not hang on and he then saved three set points in a titanic 12th game that lasted for more than 17 minutes.

Job done: Djokovic will face David Ferrer in the semi-final

Job done: Djokovic will face David Ferrer in the semi-final

Del Potro was having to work so hard just to win a point, and that was certainly the case in the tie-break, the seventh seed left draped over the net in exhaustion and disbelief after one such encounter that left him facing three set points.

And Djokovic needed only one, taking it with a ridiculous backhand winner.
It was a long way back for Del Potro now, and even more so when he was broken again at the start of the third set.

It was a deficit he never recovered, although there was time for one last hurrah as he chased down a Djokovic volley and drilled a backhand winner, with his momentum leaving him standing on the advertising hoardings as he soaked up the crowd's adoration.

But three points later the match was over, Djokovic clinching victory after three hours and six minutes.

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt beaten again

London set for fastest 100m ever as Bolt is beaten again and rivals smash 10-second barrier

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 2 July 2012

So, Usain Bolt is not quite the ice-veined winner the world thought he was. Twice in 48 hours he has lost to his apprentice friend Yohan Blake and, suddenly, the Olympics has a race on its hands.

Paying up to 750 to watch a 100 metres procession came with magic attached. Could Bolt move back the frontiers in 9.4sec How early in the race could he launch into a celebration How much daylight would there be between him and the pursuing world

But the possibilities now are all together more intriguing. Blake, Bolt’s vanquisher in the 100m at the Jamaican trials on Friday and in the 200m on Sunday night, is suddenly the man to beat. A competition rather than a demonstration beckons us.

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

Second-best: Bolt (above left) is beaten by Blake (above right) again before receiving treatment

It changes the nature of the history that could be written in London’s Olympic Stadium on 100m final night, Sunday, August 5.

Yes, we could yet witness Bolt finding how to uncoil those lanky legs off the blocks – he started desperately slowly in Kingston – so he can run the times he has talked of. But more likely we will see the fastest foot race since cavemen learned to walk: eight men traversing the blue-riband distance of sprinting in under 10sec.

This year alone 17 men have managed the feat, led by Blake’s 9.75sec over the weekend. On a warm night in London, without the wind intervening, who would bet against the 2012 cast transcending the 1991 World Championship peak, when six finalists managed to beat the 10sec mark

Our own Linford Christie ran 9.92sec yet finished fourth. Whither British sprinting, whose fastest competitor this year, teenager Adam Gemili, has run 10.08sec. The fireworks that await us in London will be a foreign affair.
Jamaica, with Bolt, Blake and Asafa Powell, and America, with Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey, lead the way. Trinidad, through Keston Bledman and Richard Thompson, promise to be bit-part players in the phenomenon. Europe Christophe Lemaitre, of France, has run sub-10sec, but not this year.

Pole position: Blake has made himself the man to beat

Pole position: Blake has made himself the man to beat

WORLD'S FASTEST MEN

Usain Bolt
Jamaica, 25. Season’s Best: 9.76sec.
The Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19) is the man to beat but Blake proved he is not invincible in the Jamaican trials at the weekend.

Yohan Blake
Jamaica, 22. SB: 9.75. Bolt’s training partner and current 100m world champion. Fourth fastest in history (9.75).

Justin Gatlin
USA, 30. SB: 9.8. Won Olympic gold in 2004 but was then banned for doping. Ran PB of 9.8 to win US trials.

Asafa Powell
Jamaica, 29. SB: 9.85. Third fastest man in history (9.72) and former 100m world record holder.

Keston Bledman
Trinidad, 24. SB: 9.86.
Won silver in the 4x100m in the 2008 Olympics and ran PB of 9.86 last month.

Tyson Gay
USA, 29. SB: 9.86.
Second fastest in history (9.69) but has never won an Olympic medal because of injury.

Ryan Bailey
USA, 23. SB: 9.93.
Finished third in the US trials behind Gay and Gatlin. Ran a PB of 9.88 in 2010.

Richard Thompson
Trinidad, 27. SB: 9.96.
Ran a PB of 9.89 to take silver in Beijing. Qualified for London with a run of 9.96.

Over in Jamaica, Bolt was coming to terms with his fallibility. Defeat in the 200m was more of a jolt than in the 100m. He has not lost at the longer distance, which suits his 6ft 5in frame more naturally, since 2007. He holds the world record that eclipsed Michael Johnson’s unforgettable 1996 gold medal-winning time.

Bolt looked left as the finishing line approached, his face etched into a grimace. Blake ran 19.8sec, winning by 0.03sec.

Bolt embraced Blake, at 22 three years the younger, before lying on the ground to have his right hamstring stretched out, reinforcing my belief that he has not been entirely injury-free this year no matter what his control-freak retinue might have us believe.

Bolt acted cool, of course. ‘I can never be discouraged,’ he said. ‘I’m never worried until my coach gets worried, and my coach isn’t worried.’

Glen Mills, a sturdy man with a gravelly voice reminiscent of Michael Holding, is coach to Bolt and Blake. He is avuncular and not given to panic. ‘Usain has the experience and the ability and has been there before,’ he said.

‘He might be a little off but I’m sure, when the time of delivery comes around, he’ll be on top of his game.’

Jim Hines first broke the 10sec mark in 1968, in the Olympic 100m final at altitude in Mexico City. Eight athletes accomplishing the feat in one London evening would be more than compensation for Bolt spluttering. Even – well, maybe – at 750 for the privilege.

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt"s 100m dream in danger

Beaten Bolt looks shot: Usain's golden dream under threat after shock defeat to Blake

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UPDATED:

21:32 GMT, 1 July 2012

The unthinkable happened in the early hours of our Saturday morning. Usain Bolt, the man who was perceived to have one rival in the Olympic 100 metres final, namely The Clock, lost to his training partner Yohan Blake.

The result in the Jamaican trials was met by dumbstruck faces among the crowd. Blake had won in 9.75sec, a personal best and the fastest anyone has run this year.

Bolt was 0.11sec behind, separated by daylight having made a dismal start. The third member of the island’s male sprinting trinity, Asafa Powell, was third, 0.02sec further back.

Plenty to ponder: Usain Bolt (left) was beaten into second by Yohan Blake

Plenty to ponder: Usain Bolt (left) was beaten into second by Yohan Blake

It was balm for those who have paid 750 for the best seats at the Olympic 100m final. But it was time to put a brake on some of the fawning mythology that continued to build up around Bolt even as his magic waned over the last couple of years.

The biggest bet of my life was placed at the Writers’ Bar in Raffles, the great colonial hotel in Singapore. It concerned that old rogue Max Mosley and I lost. The second largest, though mercifully a 10th of the size, was wagered the other week close to the home of the first modern Olympics, the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens. So 100 says Bolt will not win the blue riband of sprinting on the stomach-churning evening of Sunday, August 5.

The evidence suggests Bolt has struggled for fitness and form since he moved the boundaries of human achievement in 2009 by winning the world title in 9.58sec, a year after his chest-thumping procession at the Beijing Games.

After partying too hard in 2010, he lost to America’s Tyson Gay over 100m. In 2011, he was disqualified for a false start in the World Championships final in Daegu. The belief here, mostly viewed as maverick at the time, is that the error was born of his desperation for a good getaway given his fearfulness of Blake in the next lane.

Bolt from the blue: Blake (left) crosses the finish line to win in Kingston

Bolt from the blue: Blake (left) crosses the finish line to win in Kingston

That interpretation is shared by Maurice Greene, the American who won the 100m gold in Sydney and is now a trenchant pundit on Eurosport. ‘There was so much pressure on him,’ he said. ‘There is a reason why Bolt and Blake hardly race against each other. Last season Usain was getting his stuff together. Then they line up and he knows he has to get it right or the dude is right beside him.

‘He’s got to go as soon as that gun goes off. And what happens He goes too early.

‘Bolt was not confident last year. After all the antics, you see his facial expression change a bit. His last 50m is fine but the first 50m is more technical. If he doesn’t get that beginning together, it gets close. If it’s a close race, he’s lost. He doesn’t know how to compete in those circumstances.

‘He has a lot of talent and is very fast but has no plan. He goes out there to run but I don’t think he knows exactly what he’s doing.’

Well beaten: Bolt (left) congratulates Blake after the race

Well beaten: Bolt (left) congratulates Blake after the race

My recent trip to Jamaica showed a Bolt at least partly at odds with the clowning, chilled, happy-go-lucky persona we see on the start line. His retinue, led by his best friend NJ Walker, keep him closely guarded. I was invited to watch him train but he did not show up.

According to his people and his website, he was due to run for the first time this season just a few days after I left the island, yet he pulled out at the last minute and instead went to see his doctor in Munich. I reported that he had made an ‘unexpected’ medical trip, which sent at least one of his representatives into meltdown.

Only three weeks ago his car crashed at 5.15am on a Sunday. Powell, his great rival, was on the scene but in a separate car. Had they been partying Or was there another explanation

Back in the day: Bolt has struggled to replicate his performance in Berlin

Back in the day: Bolt has struggled to replicate his performance in Berlin

Whatever the real story with Bolt, Greene is certain of one thing. ‘If he is in similar shape as he was in China, we will see some fireworks,’ he said. ‘If he puts his mind on it he could do 9.4sec, do anything.

‘But if he races as he did last year, he will get beaten, possibly by Blake, possibly by one of the Americans. He’s trying to do something he can’t do. He’s not flowing.

‘He talks about wanting to be a living legend. Yes, fine, but is he doing all that is necessary to become that living legend Are you You have to be truthful to yourself. I’ve seen some of his practice and he’s not really working.

‘I’d tell him to be serious. You can look at him run in China and two years afterwards it has all changed. He’s doing different things. He has to study what he was doing back then and emulate that. There were not as many flaws as then.’