Tag Archives: protagonists

Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic Australian Open final LIVE

LIVE: Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic – follow all the action from the Australian Open final

Martin Domin


00:01 GMT, 27 January 2013



08:18 GMT, 27 January 2013

Andy Murray is bidding to win his second consecutive Grand Slam title when he takes on Novak Djokovic in Melbourne on Sunday.

The two have enjoyed some epic battles, not least in the US Open final last September and the Serbian world No 1 is aiming for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

Follow all the action with Sportsmail's unrivalled coverage and send your emails to [email protected]

8.15am: So, what can we expect today Some huge hitting no doubt and hopefully a five-hour, five-set epic. Djokovic has the upper hand over Murray, winning 10 of their 17 meetings as well as both matches at the Australian Open. But the Scot's win at the US Open was a defining moment for him, and for British tennis, and with that monkey off his back, who knows how far he can go

And interestingly, Murray has won four of the seven finals the pair have contested…

8.05am: Seems like just yesterday that I was here looking forward to the US Open final between the same two protagonists. Difficult to see anything other than another classic clash between the two best players in the world right now.

And as John Lloyd said this morning, if Andy Murray wins, he can rightfully call himself the best on the planet.

8am: Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of the Australian Open final in Melbourne.

Andy Murray

Dereck Chisora to return to the ring on March 16 – as long as he is granted license

Chisora hopes for ring return in March – as long as he receives licence from British board

Martin Domin


12:50 GMT, 14 January 2013



13:52 GMT, 14 January 2013

Heavyweight bad boy Dereck Chisora will return to the ring at Wembley Arena on March 16 – if he is cleared to fight by the British Boxing Board of Control.

The Londoner was stripped of his licence last year after a shameful brawl with David Haye at a post-fight press conference in Munich in February following his defeat by WBC world champion Vitali Klitschko.

The two protagonists settled their differences in the ring at Upton Park in July under the auspices of the Luxembourg Boxing Federation when Haye stopped the 29-year-old in the fifth round.

Back in the ring: Dereck Chisora hopes to be fighting again in March

Back in the ring: Dereck Chisora hopes to be fighting again in March

Chisora, who has taken anger management classes in a bid to convince the Board he is fit to hold a licence, expects to hear shortly whether he will be cleared to fight on the same card as world champions Ricky Burns and Nathan Cleverly and Commonwealth champion George Groves.

'I've been keeping quite busy,' he said. 'I've been in the gym and I've been running.'

Chisora will hope that victory over 10 rounds in March – against an opponent yet to be named – will propel him back among the contenders for a world title or set him up to challenge David Price for his British and Commonwealth belts.

The undefeated Liverpudlian is open to the idea of fighting Chisora but must first face American Tony Thompson on home soil on February 23 at the Echo Arena.

England v India: Looking back to 1985

England will hope history repeats itself as Cook leads his men in India



00:25 GMT, 15 November 2012

Not since 1984-85, the winter of Alastair Cook’s birth, have England won a Test series in India.

In a parallel with the modern day, the tour followed a chastening home defeat to the world’s No 1 team the previous summer, while Indira Gandhi’s assassination took place within three hours of arrival.

Even though preparation was switched to Sri Lanka, and the itinerary revised, doubt was cast on whether the five-match campaign would actually take place at all when a second assassination, that of Percy Norris, the British Deputy High Commissioner, occurred on the eve of the opening contest in Mumbai.

Up for grabs: India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his England counterpart Alastair Cook

Up for grabs: India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his England counterpart Alastair Cook

But out of the chaos – star turn Sir Ian Botham had opted out of the trip, other high-quality players such as Graham Gooch and John Emburey were serving rebel South Africa tour bans and captain David Gower had not won any of his previous nine Tests in charge – developed one of England’s landmark away successes.

Here, Gower, Mike Gatting and Neil Foster, three of the protagonists of that 2-1 victory, relive their memories and offer their thoughts on how the 2012-13 vintage can forge a repeat:

Gower (first series win as captain): It was very satisfying because we had had a traumatic summer against the West Indies. It is never a straightforward process to win in India and defeat in the first Test was a mixture of surprise, some interesting umpiring and us not really being in the right frame of mind. Half the team had wanted to go home three days before it, so getting an XI on the field was an achievement.

We could cite various excuses for our poor start, a prime one being that we had not previously had a look at the leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan. He took a dozen wickets but people got used to him as the series went on.

Main man: Mike Gatting batting during his century against India

Main man: Mike Gatting batting during his century against India

The Indians then gave us half a chance at Delhi, which we took, thanks to getting Kapil Dev out in the nick of time in the final session, and even though we were missing people that you might otherwise have expected to be there, the ones that came in responded to being given responsibility. Graeme Fowler loved it out there, Gatt responded to the fillip of being made vice-captain, and I really liked having Philippe Edmonds and Percy Pocock around – two very good, experienced spin bowlers. As captain, they gave me control at good times. Everything and everyone came together. It was a happy bunch and that is no bad thing when you are away together for four months.

There is a new regime for this current England team, and new regimes tend to wipe the slates clean. You normally get a good response to a new captain, and when you look at India, yes, they always start favourites at home but they have their own niggles. It is certainly not all sweetness and light in their camp, and they have just picked an off-spinner (Harbhajan Singh) who’s been bloody ordinary for the past two years. So I reckon it’s not a bad time to play them.

Double century: Graeme Fowler

Double century: Graeme Fowler

Gatting (575 runs at an average of 95.83): It was a huge period in my career. David stuck his neck out just to get me on the tour, and then made me his vice-captain. I made my first hundred, trying to save the first Test match. It was a long time coming in my international career but the right things happened for me as opposed to the wrong ones for a change and the challenge of securing a draw put meaning on it for me

We might not have been one of the better England sides from that era but there was a deep-rooted desire to do well, we didn’t have the worst attack in the world and we went out on the field believing we had a decent chance.

There were some incredible efforts from the bowlers: Phil Edmonds completely lost his run-up in Delhi and ended up bowling off one pace, and Neil Foster came into the penultimate match of the series and took 11 wickets at Madras. Then, having gone in front, the whole team battled it out to seal things in Kanpur.

The fact that people are so fanatical about the game out there can work in your favour. They expect their own players to perform like superstars but they also appreciate the opposition doing well, so you know when you hear light applause or it goes deathly silent that you have done a good job. The othet thing that you learn about cricket in India is that batting and bowling well in pairs gives you a better chance of success.

Foster (took 11 for 163 in penultimate Test to send England into 2-1 lead): I have got a picture on the wall at home that is my favourite from my playing days. It is after that win in Madras and there are three faces – myself, Gatt and Foxy Fowler, those two sporting beards – all looking rather pleased with ourselves. We appear to have been sprayed with champagne, only it wasn’t champagne, it was water. We were rather wet but rather happy.

That performance was always likely to be my best one for England statistically but, unfortunately, it didn’t do me any favours because two Tests later, the first of the next summer, I wasn’t selected. I felt it was an opportunity missed on a personal level and also poor from the selectors not to give a 22-year-old, who had just helped win a game, a run in the side.

In hot countries, as a fast bowler, you have to keep plugging away and hope to finish the day somewhere close to where you started it in terms of your pace. It is not just a case of bowling flat out, taking opponents on, you have to bowl in tight areas to expose their limitations, because if you don’t then people like Virender Sehwag will take the game away from you. Stamina and patience are the key factors for me.

Lewis Hamilton ready to join Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher on the contract merry-go-round

Hamilton revving-up to join Massa, Webber and Schumacher on the contract merry-go-round



21:07 GMT, 9 June 2012

After two seasons of stagnation in the driver market, the transfer merry-go-round is finally showing signs of spinning into action.

Chief among the potential protagonists is Lewis Hamilton, whose contract at McLaren expires at the end of the current campaign.

The 2008 world champion may continue to stick to the mantra that the complexities of the 2012 championship mean he has little time to ponder his future.

The future is unknown: Lewis Hamilton's contract expires at the end of the season

The future is unknown: Lewis Hamilton's contract expires at the end of the season

But rest assured that his management company, Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment, are giving it plenty of thought — even if serious negotiations are unlikely to begin in earnest until after the British Grand Prix next month.

That they have something to ponder is down to the fact that at Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher find themselves in the same boat as Hamilton.

It will take one of that quartet to start the ball rolling, perhaps Webber to Ferrari to replace Massa or Schumacher if the German goes back into retirement, freeing up a space at Mercedes.

Maybe all employers and employees will decide they are happy with the status quo, lucrative contracts and preferential clauses permitting.

One thing is for certain, Jenson Button is absolutely delighted his long-term deal with McLaren was signed, sealed and delivered during the relative calm of last season.

Top three: Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton pose in Montreal

Top three: Alonso, pole-sitter Vettel and Hamilton pose in Montreal

There are obvious reasons for his contentment. Despite enduring a difficult start to 2012, barring his victory in the opening race in Australia, Button’s place with one of the true greats of Formula One is almost as assured as that of Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.

It also means that Button can remain fully focused on reviving his title tilt this year. Just as well given he suffered another frustrating qualifying session in Canada yesterday, only just making it into the top 10 shoot-out by the skin of his teeth, thanks to Pastor Maldonado blowing his chance by clouting the ‘Wall of Champions’ at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.

Ultimately, Button could only manage 10th on the grid for the race. Once again he was comprehensively out-qualified by Hamilton, who will start second after offering the sternest challenge to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, celebrating the 32nd pole of his career with yet another faultless lap.

Whatever this season has in store for Button, the 2009 world champion, by next year he will be in his third campaign at McLaren, fully bedded in and without the need to start feeling his way into a new team. He knows a thing or two about having to carve a niche in an organisation with a formidable team-mate, having chosen to pit himself against Hamilton, who has been at McLaren since he was 13 years old. ‘It will be towards the end of the year when most of the people get their contracts done,’ said Button.

Deal sealed: Button signed a long-term contract with McLaren

Deal sealed: Button signed a long-term contract with McLaren

‘For next year, if they are moving teams, they need to start focusing on settling into that team and making sure they are a big part of that team and not a second driver.

‘A driver needs to give good input and get the team around him because that is a big thing in the sport these days, especially at the top teams with the team-mates they will have. They are all very competitive and very clever individuals.’

Phil Duncan F1 blog

No wonder Button has a mischievous smile on his face when asked about the ensuing silly season. ‘I like a bit of action, it’s good fun,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot of talk, even about Sebastian Vettel, who has got a contract at Red Bull.

‘It’s interesting to hear the top drivers’ comments — the drivers who you know play games and those who don’t.’

He does not have to indulge in such scheming. Indeed, Button need only worry about getting his title challenge back on track.

Floyd Mayweather beats Miguel Cotto

Wait for it, Amir: Another year and Floyd may be beaten



21:30 GMT, 6 May 2012

Money talks and Floyd Mayweather spoke so eloquently inside and outside the ring in Las Vegas on Saturday night that the whole world sat up and took notice.

The brilliance with which Mayweather repulsed Miguel Cotto’s machismo assault on his unbeaten record spelt out his claim to be recognised above Manny Pacquaio as the best pound-for-pound fighter on planet earth.

Those fight-by-fight exchanges of bragging rights are important since, as Mayweather admits himself: ‘That fight between me and Pacquaio which all the fans want to see is not going to happen.’

Champion: Floyd Mayweather extended his unbeaten record against Miguel Cotto

Champion: Floyd Mayweather extended his unbeaten record against Miguel Cotto

For that he blames the PacMan’s promoter, Bob Arum, but there are also issues about his own demand for the lion’s share of the $100 million-plus purse.

Only one thing was left unsaid at the MGM Grand Garden: If boxing is dead, then nobody has told the corpse.

As each three minute stanza of dazzling intensity came to its climax the sell-out crowd rose to its feet. Not just to roar its excitement but to applaud the celestial quality of what all 16,047 of them had just witnessed.

Boxing still can be a noble art and when it is performed with such virtuosity it deserves its standing ovation.

When it is shot through with such courage as this the protagonists deserve their rich rewards, on this hot night in Sin City a minimum $32million and $8million for Mayweather and Cotto respectively.

Amir Khan would like to share in such a pay-TV bonanza but Mayweather’s master-class sent out another message, once which warned Britain’s Olympian talent to be patient.

In control: Mayweather got the better of Cotto over 12 thrilling rounds

In control: Mayweather got the better of Cotto over 12 thrilling rounds

Before trading with the man who calls himself Money our former – and hopefully soon to be reinstated – world light-welterweight champion should have at least one acclimatising fight at full welter and wait until next year.

Khan seeks to regain his titles in a grudge re-match with Lamont Peterson on this Strip in less than a fortnight. But it is not in his best interests to be the first challenger in waiting when Mayweather comes out of the Clark County jail some three months from now.

Not only does he need to test himself at the heavier weight but by next summer Mayweather will be another year older and Khan another year wiser.

At 35, the not-so-quiet American remains a remarkable athlete and a demonic trainer. But even on this impressive occasion the first subtle signs that Father Time is catching up with him became apparent.

Mayweather explained his willingness to engage in a full-blooded battle with Cotto as a desire to entertain the masses. Maybe so but even the greatest pugilists go through the transition from boxer to fighter as they age.

Tough challenge: Cotto gave Mayweather the toughest fight of his career

Tough challenge: Cotto gave Mayweather the toughest fight of his career

As they become less light on their feet and less fluent in movement – almost imperceptibly at first – they find themselves standing and exchanging punches instead of dancing and dazzling.

It is more dramatic to watch but it takes its toll and for the first time in his 43-win career Mayweather was bleeding from nose and mouth as the battle raged.

Although he won, deservedly, that proved to be a maturing experience. At the final bell he told Cotto: ‘You’re a helluva a champion, the toughest guy I ever fought.’

When the officials gave him victory by a Cotto-insulting 118-110 points on one card and an exaggerated 117-111 on the other two, this man who has always liked to announce himself perfect was the first to voice dissent: ‘This was a night of blood, sweat and tears and Miguel won a few rounds.’
That he did, four of them on my 116-112 scorecard.

Cotto troubled Mayweather with his violent persistence at close quarters, even though he was caught marginally more often by the accuracy of his celebrated challenger’s mix of counter punches and offensive combinations.

Wait: Amir Khan (right) must beat Lamont Peterson before facing Mayweather

Wait: Amir Khan (right) must beat Lamont Peterson before facing Mayweather

The fight was in the balance until Mayweather changed up a gear with four rounds to go, culminating his effort with a grandstand finish in the 12th which had the Puerto Rican staggering.

But Cotto , whose WBA light-middleweight belt was on the line, is nothing if not defiant and when the last bell sounded they embraced in mutual respect.

Perhaps the imminence of the June 1 start to his prison sentence for domestic violence is enabling Mayweather to put his life in more reasoned perspective. It certainly sounded like that as he said: ‘Going away is an obstacle I must overcome by strengthening my mind – and next time I am in a situation like that I hope I will deal with it a different way.’

He spoke after adapting in the ring to become a world champion for the eighth time in five different weight divisions.

Despite the degree of difficult and discomfort which Cotto brought to the equation, Mayweather said: ‘It was a cool fight.’

It is also one which breathes life back into a sport requiring resuscitation.

As Oscar De La Hoya, president of promoters Golden Boy, put it so succinctly: ‘This was a beautiful thing for boxing.’