Tag Archives: rallies

WTA Sony Open – Miami: Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-3 6-0 in the final

Serena storms back to sink Sharapova in three sets and lift Sony Open title in Miami

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

20:14 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:39 GMT, 30 March 2013

Serena Williams lifted her sixth Sony Open title after magnificently bouncing back to see off Maria Sharapova in the final in Miami.

The world No 1 was edged out in a tight first set but lost three games thereafter as she stormed to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory and her 11th straight win over Sharapova.

The American has passed Steffi Graf's number of titles in this competition and became the oldest female champion at the tournament, while Sharapova has now been defeated in every one of her five final appearances in Miami.

Champion: Serena Williams holds the Sony Open trophy aloft in Miami

Champion: Serena Williams holds the Sony Open trophy aloft in Miami

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

History: The world No 1 became the oldest female winner of the tournament

Dominant: Williams beat Maria Sharapova (left) for the 11th time in a row

Dominant: Williams beat Maria Sharapova (left) for the 11th time in a row

After playing flawless tennis for an hour, Sharapova began to miss with her serve, and Williams dominated rallies with her power.

Sharapova built her lead by keeping Williams on the defensive, and she kissed the line with a winner on consecutive points to break for a 3-2 advantage in the second set.

But then came the turnaround. Williams began to capitalise on Sharapova's tentative second serve and broke back to love before taking advantage of two double faults by Sharapova to break again for a 5-3 lead.

Strong start: Sharapova edged ahead after winning a tight first set 6-4

Strong start: Sharapova edged ahead after winning a tight first set 6-4

Rampant: The American lost only 10 points in the final set to beat her Russian opponent

Rampant: The American lost only 10 points in the final set to beat her Russian opponent

Repeat: Williams became the first No 1 seed to lift the women's title in Miami since she won nine years ago

Repeat: Williams became the first No 1 seed to lift the women's title in Miami since she won nine years ago

Williams lost only 10 points in the final set and closed out the victory with a service winner.

'Maria definitely pushed me – she did a really great job today,' Williams said after he win.

'I look forward to our next matches – it's going to be really fun for the fans and for us and for everyone.'

Williams became the first No 1 seed to win the women's title since she was champion nine years ago.

Sharapova, who won the title in Indian Wells at the beginning of March, said: 'It's obviously been a really nice month.

'It's disappointing to end it like this but Serena played a great match and I'm sure we'll play a few more times this year.'

Australian Open 2013: Gilles Simon confirms he is fit to face Andy Murray

Murray is favorite to beat me, admits Simon after declaring himself fit following Monfils battle

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

06:17 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

06:17 GMT, 20 January 2013

Gilles Simon, Andy Murray’s fourth round opponent in the Australian Open, confirmed that he will be able to take the court for the match despite suffering heavy cramping in his Saturday night epic against Gael Monfils.

The slightly-built Frenchman was unable to speak to the media after beating his compatriot 8-6 in the fifth set of an extremely gruelling encounter that lasted nearly four and three quarter hours, and was marked by the sheer length of the rallies involved.

He only appeared in public this afternoon local time, having needed extensive treatment when he came off the court after midnight in some distress suffering cramp all over his body following the most attritional match imaginable.

Scroll down to watch the 71-shot rally between Simon and Monfils

Shattered: An exhausted Gilles Simon sits down after winning his third round match against fellow countryman Gael Monfils

Shattered: An exhausted Gilles Simon sits down after winning his third round match against fellow countryman Gael Monfils

There had been rumours that he had been taken to hospital and might pull out of his meeting with Murray due to leg or arm injuries, but he quickly quashed those while admitting that he was still very sore.

'No, my treatment was here, but yes I was in bad shape,' he said. 'I’m never cramping on the court normally. I felt like I played the end of the match in a dream, like I was not even on the court. I was just hitting the ball, trying to run, and not thinking anymore. I was too tired to be upset or happy, at the end of the match I had just completely lost control.'

Gilles Simon

Gael Monfils

Epic: Simon and Monfils shared a brilliant 71-shot rally during their third round match

One of the rallies against Monfils had
lasted 71 strokes and took one minute forty second to complete, but many
of the baseline exchanges were long between two counter punchers.

'All parts of my body were painful but there’s no miracle cure so you’ve just got to have massage and stretching. I went to sleep about 5am and woke up about two o’ clock.'

Murray is about the last player you want to meet if your legs are heavy because he is so skilled at making opponents run side to side and back and forward, so it looked a mountainous task for the fourteenth seed to disrupt his march towards the last four.

Giving it everything: Simon rests on the net during his third round match

Giving it everything: Simon rests on the net during his third round match

Treatment: Simon received medical attention

Treatment: Simon received medical attention

Their match will start at 5pm local time so there was another 24 hours to recover, with Roger Federer the featured night match on Rod Laver Arena.

'With Andy I know how strong he is and of course it will be really difficult but at the moment I’m just happy I won the last match. Even if I don’t have a lot of chance to win this it’s my job to go on court and do the maximum I can to bother him and give him a hard time.

Next up: Andy Murray will be the strong favorite against Simon

Next up: Andy Murray will be the strong favorite against Simon

'It is not easy to win 6-2 6-3 6-2 against Andy and I’m not sure if we play longer than that I will be able to make it to the end. But I will do everything I can to be ready and I still have another sleep.'

Another small problem for Simon is that Murray has won their last nine matches against each other, so he would start as strong favourite regardless.

VIDEO Watch the amazing 71-shot rally between Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils

US Open 2012: Andy Murray beats Novak Djokovic

Major Murray! Grand slam glory for Andy after one of history's greatest matches

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UPDATED:

01:04 GMT, 11 September 2012

Andy Murray ended 76 years of hurt for British tennis as he emerged victorious from one of the greatest grand slam finals of all time.

The 25-year-old left every ounce of his being on the court as he finally ended a run of four major final defeats at the scene of his first heartache four years ago.

Credit must be given to his opponent Novak Djokovic – himself a five-time slam winner – who overturned a two-set deficit with some of his most brutal and brilliant hitting.

However it was the Olympic champion who found that little bit extra in the final set to eventually run out 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 winner and so become the first British man since Fred Perry to win one of tennis' biggest prizes.

More to follow….

Just awesome: Andy Murray is a grand slam champion, the least he deserves for an astounding display

Just awesome: Andy Murray is a grand slam champion, the least he deserves for an astounding display

Stunning: Both players had to contest with high winds early on, but Flushing Meadows still looked beautiful

Stunning: Both players had to contest with high winds early on, but Flushing Meadows still looked beautiful

Stunning: Both players had to contest with high winds early on, but Flushing Meadows still looked beautiful

Stunning: Both players had to contest with high winds early on, but Flushing Meadows still looked beautiful

Reaching for the top: At times Djokovic seemed out on his feet but he kept on fighting for each point

Reaching for the top: At times Djokovic seemed out on his feet but he kept on fighting for each point

Eyes on the prize: Murray, too, wobbled when seemingly comfortable, but regained his full focus

Eyes on the prize: Murray, too, wobbled when seemingly comfortable, but regained his full focus

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Famous faces: There was no shortage of interest from the usual, and not so usual, suspects

Tit for tat: There were occasions when both players seemed to let the occasion get to them

Tit for tat: There were occasions when both players seemed to let the occasion get to them

Tit for tat: There were occasions when both players seemed to let the occasion get to them

Tricky times: Murray and Djokovic had to find that little bit extra as they teetered on the brink of despair

Tricky times: Murray and Djokovic had to find that little bit extra as they teetered on the brink of despair

Tricky times: Murray and Djokovic had to find that little bit extra as they teetered on the brink of despair

Court coverage: The athleticism of both men was awesome, with rallies lasting more than 30 shots

Court coverage: The athleticism of both men was awesome, with rallies lasting more than 30 shots

US Open 2012: David Ferrer beats Janko Tipsarevic to reach semi-finals

Ferrer sees off Tipsarevic in epic five-set thriller to reach last four of US Open

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 6 September 2012

Fourth seed David Ferrer reached his second US Open semi-final after a quite brilliant five-set tussle against Janko Tipsarevic at Flushing Meadows.

The Spaniard is known as the 'little beast' and he showed why as he recovered from two sets to one down and then a break down in the deciding set to win 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) after four hours and 31 minutes.

It was also a tremendous performance from eighth seed Tipsarevic, who delighted the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd with his superb shot-making but could not wear his opponent down.

Speaking on court afterwards, Ferrer said: 'I don't have words. I'm very happy. I ran a lot. It was a really tough match. Janko is an amazing player. He fought a lot and he deserved also to win today.'

On top of the world: David Ferrer is overcome with emotion after winning a sensational match

On top of the world: David Ferrer is overcome with emotion after winning a sensational match

Tipsarevic was playing in his second straight US Open quarter-final after losing to compatriot Novak Djokovic 12 months ago but was a clear underdog against Ferrer.

The relentless Spaniard has maintained the brilliant form he has shown this year and was looking to match his run here in 2007, when he lost to Djokovic in the last four.

Tipsarevic could not have made a better start, winning the opening two games, but Ferrer swiftly hit back and showed greater consistency to win the opening set.

Tipsarevic dug in well in the second, though, matching the intensity of his rival and really going for his shots.

Pure emotion: Ferrer fell to ground after five grueling sets

Pure emotion: Ferrer fell to ground after five grueling sets

And in the tie-break it was the Serbian who prevailed, taking his third set point with a ferocious off-forehand winner and letting out a roar of celebration.

Tipsarevic really had the bit between his teeth and he broke through to lead 3-2 in the third set after a game of spectacular rallies.

Ferrer was rattled and the eighth seed made it four games in a row to break again, and then five to clinch the set.

Tipsarevic threatened again at the start of the fourth set but Ferrer hung on, and slowly the Spaniard clawed his way back into the match.

He had his chance to break in the eighth game and he took it before levelling up at two sets all.

Pushed to the limit: Janko Tipsarevic receives treatment

Pushed to the limit: Janko Tipsarevic receives treatment

Tipsarevic was now looking very weary and was no doubt frustrated that, having thrown everything at Ferrer, the fourth seed was still right there.

He could not break through at the start of the decider, though, and holding on seemed to re-energise Tipsarevic, who attacked the Ferrer serve with gusto to take a 2-0 lead.

It was another twist in this remarkable match, but not the final one, as a heavy fall at the end of the sixth game seemed to unsettle Tipsarevic and he threw in a series to errors to hand back his hard-won break.

The fourth seed scented blood and he set up two more break points at 4-4 when Tipsarevic called for the trainer for treatment to his right thigh.

Steady hand: Ferrer plays a drop shot

Steady hand: Ferrer plays a drop shot

He had it strapped up and promptly saved both break points before holding serve to force Ferrer to serve to stay in the match.

The Spaniard managed it twice to set up a deciding tie-break, and he struck the first blow in another brutal rally to lead 5-3.

That gave Ferrer two serves to secure victory, and he did just that, the Spaniard kneeling down on the court and screaming with delight.

US Open 2012: Andy Murray beasts Ivan Dodig to reach third round

Murray cruises in third round following straight sets victory over Dodig

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UPDATED:

05:25 GMT, 30 August 2012

Andy Murray used his favourite platform in tennis – a night session under lights at Flushing Meadows – to cruise into the US Open third round with an emphatic demolition of Croatian Ivan Dodig.

In the same Arthur Ashe Stadium that had been lit up a few hours earlier by Laura Robson in her defeat of Kim Clijsters the British number wasted no time in booking his passage with an impressively sharp performance.

He conserved energy for the bigger challenges to come by winning 6-2 6-1 6-3 in just an hour and fifty minutes, putting on more of an exhibition for the night crowd rather than allowing a full-blooded contest to develop.

Easy does it: Murray marched into the third round via a convincing win over Dodig

Easy does it: Murray marched into the third round via a convincing win over Dodig

Murray was back to his sharpest as he set up a meeting in the last 32 most probably on Saturday against a Spaniard, either Pablo Andujar or the more established Feliciano Lopez, and he was understandably happy about the performance.

'I thought I played well,' he said. 'There were a lot of long rallies, he is a great athlete and you need to play an extra shot against him, but I moved very well myself tonight.

'I've always enjoyed playing here and had great support after winning the junior event. The atmosphere is unique compared to anywhere else we play and a lot of fun.'

Certainly this was more evidence that he has been playing the best tennis of his career since Wimbledon began back in late June.

Who's next Murray was in commanding form as he swept hi Croatian opponent aside at Flushing Meadows

Who's next Murray was in commanding form as he swept hi Croatian opponent aside at Flushing Meadows

Who's next Murray was in commanding form as he swept hi Croatian opponent aside at Flushing Meadows

After an occasionally indifferent
performance in the first round against Alex Bogomolov in difficult
conditions he was keen to remind people of why he is some judges'
favourite for this event in the wake of his Olympic triumph.

He duly did so against a player who has proved he can be a tricky customer by notching career wins against the likes of Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal, the latter accomplishment only last year.

From the off Murray showcased a lot of the improvements Ivan Lendl has been trying to instil in him, such as stepping inside the baseline to attack the second serve and showing much more aggression with his forehand.

It helped that his opponent is someone who likes to come into the net and provide a target, and in the third game of the match the world number four broke for what would be the first of six occasions.

Fired up: Murray was watched by his partner Kim Sears

Fired up: Murray was watched by his partner Kim Sears

Fired up: Murray was watched by his partner Kim Sears

His tendency to struggle to consolidate
the break surface in the next game when Dodig forced a break point of
his own, but after that his progress was serene towards taking the first
set in 36 minutes, twice holding his serve to love.

It was much the same story in the second, with the Croatian often left shaking his head in puzzlement as his forays to the net were punished with precision passing shots.

With the 25,000-strong night crowd reduced largely to idle chatter his only slight hiccup came when Dodig gained a couple of break points at 2-4 down in the third, but this was to be a night of few dramas.

New balls, please. Fans wait patiently for an autograph from one of their heroes

New balls, please. Fans wait patiently for an autograph from one of their heroes

Andy Murray says back injury is fine before Queens

Murray ready to be let off the leash after insisting his back is fine for Queen's

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UPDATED:

21:13 GMT, 10 June 2012

The good news is Andy Murray is back on his favoured grass surface this week, playing in the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club in London.

The even better news is he can’t wait to be let off the elasticated leash his trainer is using to add strength.

‘I feel much better,’ said Murray after his back problems. 'It is fine. 'I practised the last couple of days on the grass.

Getting ready: Andy Murray is ready to be let off the leash after some hard training

Getting ready: Andy Murray is ready to be let off the leash after some hard training

Getting ready: Andy Murray is ready to be let off the leash after some hard training

'It is probably a better surface for us; it is a bit more forgiving than the clay.

'There are a lot of long rallies on the clay, long points, long matches so the grass will probably help it a bit.'

Although later he was feeling dog tired.

Dog tired: Murray was put through his paces but insisted his back was fine

Dog tired: Murray was put through his paces but insisted his back was fine

Mancini says every Man City game is a Champions League final

Every game is a final now! Mancini rallies City squad as Tevez prepares to join title bid

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has told his side to treat every game in their title run-in like a Champions League final.

The Barclays Premier League leaders resume their championship quest following their latest European exploits as struggling Blackburn visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez are able to be selected, although the latter is extremely unlikely to feature.

Characters: Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez train under the gaze of manager Roberto Mancini

Characters: Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez train under the gaze of manager Roberto Mancini

Return: Carlos Tevez could make his comeback

Return: Carlos Tevez could make his comeback

Balotelli's suspension for stamping on Scott Parker's head has expired, while Tevez's exile has also been resolved after the striker apologised to the club for his behaviour.

City have a two-point advantage with 13 games remaining and Mancini is braced for a stern test of resolve in the season's closing months.

The Italian said: 'It is impossible to be complacent.

'Every game is like a Champions League final and for this reason we need good concentration.

'Now we have a game against Blackburn on Saturday and I think every game from now until the end will be difficult.

'When you play against a squad playing against relegation, it can be more difficult.

'Blackburn won away against Manchester United and we know they are a good team, they are strong on the counter-attack.

'They have been playing very well in the last two or three weeks. They are playing to get away from the bottom.'

City's title challenge is boosted by the return of inspirational midfielder Yaya Toure from the African Nations Cup.

Toure has not played in the Premier
League since the victory over Liverpool on January 3, but returned last
week to feature in both legs of the Europa League win over Porto.

During his absence, City went out of both domestic cup competitions and suffered a disappointing league defeat at Everton.

Mancini said: 'Yaya is a high-quality player, he used to play for Barcelona and he is used to playing to win every game.

'I think his mentality is very strong and that can help all the team.

'But we have other important players and I think it is a good mix.'

Since their last Premier League outing – a 1-0 win at Aston Villa a fortnight ago – City have made comfortable progress in the Europa League, beating the Portuguese champions 6-1 on aggregate to set up a meeting with Sporting Lisbon.

Welcome: Yaya Toure is a big player for City, who were pleased to see him return from the Africa Cup of Nations

Welcome: Yaya Toure is a big player for City, who were pleased to see him return from the Africa Cup of Nations

Trouble: Balotelli and Tevez are tough to handle

Trouble: Balotelli and Tevez are tough to handle

Off the field the headlines have also been positive too, with Tevez returning from his self-imposed exile in Argentina and apologising for his conduct in recent months.

Mancini has accepted the apology, opening up the possibility of a first-team return, but first the striker needs an estimated two or three weeks to recover match fitness.

City are determined to ensure the huge coverage surrounding the issue does not prove a distraction and Tevez, who has not played since September, will only feature again when ready.

First-team coach David Platt said:
'He still has a bit of work to do in terms of preparations before he is
ready to go on to the pitch. That is probably not what people want to
hear.

'There will be a clamour for a Carlos Tevez story but that is not the important thing. The important thing is Manchester City.

'We have to try and temper the clamour. It will take its own course and its own action.'

Tevez
has been working on his own fitness programme for the past week but,
after meeting Mancini on Thursday, will be reintegrated into first-team
training in due course.

Questions were asked of City's durability in January, when they also lost at Sunderland.

The potential injection of quality offered by Tevez – who has scored 52 goals in 91 City appearances – and the return of Toure are therefore seen as potentially crucial factors in the title race.

Yet Platt insists nobody at the club had been doubting their staying power.

He said: 'What belief do we need After two thirds of the season we sit top of the league.

'We have a group of players and a staff that believe that we can continue to do what we have done for the first two thirds of the season. If we do that we will be hard to shift off the top.

Good start: On-loan David Pizarro opened his account for City

Good start: On-loan David Pizarro opened his account for City

'We feel in a good position with a good dressing room that is full of very important players.

'Hopefully everything will move forward in a positive way.'

Platt is aware people will expect City to ease past Blackburn and their relegation rivals Bolton next week.

Yet he also is taking nothing for granted.

He said: 'We are getting to the business end of the season but so are Blackburn, so are Bolton.

'Every team in the Premier League has 13 games to go and all have something to play for. The business end counts for 20 clubs.'

Rangers in administration: Goian – We just don"t know our fate

We just don't know our fate, admits Rangers defender Goian

Dorin Goian admits that the players who arrived at Rangers last summer did so with their eyes open.

A few internet searches or phone
calls revealed that a huge tax bill was still hanging over the Ibrox
club, even as Craig Whyte spoke of a supposed bright new era.

Together we stand: McCoist rallies his troops

Together we stand: McCoist rallies his
troops

Yet surely none of them could have predicted the dire events of this week after Rangers were instead forced into administration over 9million in PAYE and VAT that has not been paid since Whyte's takeover last May.

All the talk from the Ibrox chairman of the major HM Revenue and Customs case – which he has claimed could total 75million – sending them down that road right now has proved to be yet another statement that simply does not add up.

Goian and the rest of the players are
now left to wait and wonder. Speaking to Romanian media, the
centre-back claimed Whyte had told them on Tuesday that they would be
paid as normal at the end of this month.

Given that the squad were also
informed at that meeting that administration was still 10 days away, it
is unlikely many will be taking Whyte's assertion to the bank.

Uncertain times: Rangers have been place into administration

Uncertain times: Rangers have been place into administration

'I knew there were problems at the
club,' said Goian. 'Of course, I knew there was a chance of us going
into administration and I asked a few people about it, but nobody really
could tell us what was happening.

'I spoke about it with my wife last
night and we agreed that you know a team has problems when the owner
comes into the dressing room to talk to the players.

'All I know is that we are in administration, but I do not know what will happen to us.

'The owner came and talked to us. The players asked him some questions and he told us our wages will be paid on time.

'They now have to decide whether or not to let any players go.'

Club in crisis: Paul Clarke and David Whitehouse from administrators Duff and Phelps hold a press conference at Ibrox

Club in crisis: Paul Clarke and David Whitehouse from administrators Duff and Phelps hold a press conference at Ibrox

The extent of the cuts will soon
become clear, but Goian is hoping those who remain at Ibrox will show
defiance in the weeks ahead.

A 10-point penalty for entering
administration has ended hope of a fourth successive title, with Celtic
now cruising towards the crown with a 14-point lead.

Goian, though, believes the squad left at Ally McCoist's disposal
cannot afford to simply go through the motions when they face Kilmarnock
at Ibrox on Saturday.

'I
don't know how this team will react on the pitch,' said Goian. 'Our
captain has told us we will meet with the PFA to see where we stand.

WHAT THEY SAID

As players, we need to go out and
perform and give the fans
something to be happy about. It’s a difficult situation for them but we need to go out there and give them something to look forward to.

CARLOS BOCANEGRA

Testing times for everyone at
RFC. Great people and fans at the
club in short time I’ve been there! Sure answers and clarity will
come..

SONE ALUKO ON TWITTER

I haven’t been told at all what is
happening and I am still trying to find out. No one at Rangers has told me what is going on. It’s a very worrying situation, especially as Rangers are still paying part of my
wages.

JUANMA ORTIZ

It’s a tragedy what has happened
at the moment. The fans are
looking for leadership and I hope
we get some leadership from
somewhere. It has all been
accelerated very quickly. I just
think it’s a huge blow.

FORMER RANGERS CAPTAIN RICHARD GOUGH

It’s very sad for Scottish football, and European football, to see such a big name (in trouble). As an ex-Rangers player, it’s very sad. It’s not the first club to get in a mess and all of Europe is a little bit like this at other clubs.

FORMER RANGERS STAR FRANK DE BOER

'We've lost 10 points in the league and I hope that will see a positive reaction from us.'

The Romanian international has formed a centre-back partnership this term with another summer arrival in Carlos Bocanegra. The former St Etienne and Fulham player echoed Goian's thoughts as he urged the players to deliver a weekend performance capable of lifting the spirits of their worried and angry fans.

'They give us excellent support and I hope that everyone still comes out to cheer us on,' said Bocanegra. 'As players, we need to go out and perform to give them something to be happy about.

'They need something at the weekend to raise the spirits, but they are all staying behind us and the support at this club has been fantastic since I've been here – and that's been a really cool experience.

'I don't see that going anywhere. The fans are pretty loyal and their roots are deep and tied in with this club.

'It's a difficult situation for them, but we need to go out there and give them something to look forward to.

'This is the time when everybody needs to stick together. There might be finger-pointing and apportioning of blame but, in the end, we are all in it together.

'We need to stick together and we'll pull through it. This club has been around for a long time and has a lot of history, so it'll be OK.

'There is a lot of support around the world, but especially here with the fan base in Glasgow.

'For them, I know it is really frustrating because, as players, we come and go. But the fans have been here for a long time so, hopefully, it works out in the best possible scenario.'

Whatever anyone might say, blocking the events of this week from their minds is patently impossible for the players ahead of their return to on-field action.

Bocanegra, though, feels the fact the game against Kilmarnock is a situation they can influence will provide some comfort.

'As a competitor, any time you go on to the field, you want to win,' he told Rangers TV.

'Everything else is out of our hands and it might sound clichd to say it, but we can't do anything about it.'

Other players used Twitter to voice their feelings, with defender Kyle Bartley responding to speculation that his loan agreement will be cancelled, causing him to return to Arsenal.

'Being told by fans I'm moving back to London Lol,' he tweeted. 'Don't even know what's happening myself. The club's the most important thing.'

Winger Sone Aluko admitted the players were no clearer than the fans about what the way ahead might be for the 54-times Scottish champions.

'Testing times for everyone at RFC,' he tweeted. 'Great people and fans at the club in short time I've been there! Sure answers and clarity will come …'

Australian Open 2012: Maria Sharapova beats Ekaterina Makarova

Ice maiden Sharapova crushes Makarova to book Kvitova clash

Maria Sharapova got the better of
Russian compatriot Ekaterina Makarova to advance to a semi-final meeting
with Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open.

In a match of hard-hitting baseline
rallies, fourth seed Sharapova possessed the greater accuracy,
particularly at the key moments, to move through 6-2 6-3.

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates beating compatriot Ekaterina Makarova

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates beating compatriot Ekaterina Makarova

Done it: Maria Sharapova celebrates beating Ekaterina Makarova

Makarova, the world number 56 and appearing in her first grand slam quarter-final, acquitted herself well but was not able to make enough headway on the Sharapova serve.

She started nervously, having to save three break points in her opening service game, but when Sharapova threatened again the 2008 champion in Melbourne made no mistake with a blistering forehand winner.

The forehand was prominent once more when Sharapova broke at 5-2 to claim the opening set, a drilled return cross court giving Makarova no chance.

See you soon: Maria Sharapova celebrates in Melbourne

See you soon: Maria Sharapova celebrates in Melbourne

Her victory over Serena Williams in the previous round proved Makarova was not one for respecting an opponent's reputation and she started the second set strongly, breaking for a 2-1 lead but Sharapova hit back straightaway and then ran through the next three games to take the match away from the 23-year-old.

Makarova made her serve it out after Sharapova squandered a straightforward opportunity on match-point, netting a mid-court backhand, but she made no mistake to give herself the chance to avenge her loss to Kvitova in the Wimbledon final last July. Earlier, Kvitova overcame a mid-match slump to beat Sara Errani 6-4 6-4.

With her big-hitting game, the match was always going to be played on Kvitova's terms against the smaller Italian.

Runaround: Makarova lost the key points

Runaround: Makarova lost the key points

So it proved as the rallies were won or lost by the Czech with Errani simply trying to make it as difficult as possible for her opponent.

And for the most part she did a good job.

With service holds at a premium, the opening set came down to Kvitova's consistency and she held it together long enough to claim it in 53 minutes.

And she looked on her way to a routine win when she also claimed the Errani serve at the start of the second.

Hot heads: Fans wear protection from the baking heat

Hot heads: Fans wear protection from the baking heat

But the world number 48, appearing in her maiden grand slam quarter-final, had other ideas as Kvitova's game started to disintegrate.

The number of unforced errors from the Czech increased rapidly – she made 44 in the match – and Errani took full advantage, wisely keeping the ball in play and making her opponent play one more shot.

It led to her winning four games on the trot.

But Kvitova, sensing the match was getting away from her, refocused and having held for 2-4, reeled off another four games in a row, reasserting her authority from the baseline.

'I expected it to be tough,' said Kvitova. 'She played very well today and also over the past few days. I didn't expect it to be easy.'

Australian Open 2012: Rafael Nadal beats Feliciano Lopez

Nadal cruises into Aussie Open quarters after straight sets win over Lopez

Rafael Nadal continued his dominance of Spanish compatriot Feliciano Lopez to ease into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

The world number two had not dropped a set in their four previous hard court meetings and maintained that record with a 6-4 6-4 6-2 success on Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal's all-round game was too much for 18th-seed Lopez, whose passive approach played into his opponent's hands.

Aussie rules! Nadal made light work of compatriot Lopez top reach the quarters

Aussie rules! Nadal made light work of compatriot Lopez top reach the quarters

Possessing a big serve, a good touch at the net and powerful forehand, Lopez was expected to move forward as often as possible.

But mystifyingly he opted to take on Nadal at his own game, becoming engaged in baseline rallies he was unlikely to win. And with Nadal's serve, particularly early on, offering nothing, it was always going to be an uphill task for the 30-year-old.

Nadal dropped just four points on serve in the opening set and a solitary break in the third game – secured via a Lopez double-fault – proved decisive.

Marauding: Nadal is yet to lose a set so far in Melbourne and made light work of Lopez (below)

Marauding: Nadal is yet to lose a set to Lopez and made light work of his compatriot (below) to move into the quarter-finals

Marauding: Nadal is yet to lose a set so far in Melbourne and made light work of Lopez (below)

The second was at least more competitive as Lopez cancelled out an early break to level at 2-2.

And when Nadal threatened again in game five, it seemed as though Lopez realised a more attacking approach was required as he charged the net to avert the danger.

However, he retreated backwards once
more and was made to pay as 10-time grand slam champion Nadal broke for
4-3, capitalising on a poor Lopez volley.

From two sets down it looked a long way back for Lopez and so it proved as two more breaks settled it.

Feeling the heat: Nadal takes on drinks at the arena in Melbourne as he overcomes Lopez (below)

Feeling the heat: Nadal takes on drinks at the arena in Melbourne as he overcomes Lopez (below)

Feeling the heat: Nadal takes on drinks at the arena in Melbourne as he overcomes Lopez (below)

'It
was a very hot day and so it is positive for me to keep winning in
straight sets, especially in these conditions,' Nadal said. 'I did what I
had to do to win in straight sets.'

Despite having not played a warm-up event prior to the season's first grand slam, Nadal, not renown as a fast starter at major tournaments, has looked in ominous shape early on.

He said: 'I think I started the tournament playing really well this time.

'Sometimes in tournaments I feel that I am improving day by day but this time I felt that I played well on the first day, the second and two days ago.

'And today I played another complete match.'

Put it there: The Spaniards embrace at the end of the match

Put it there: The Spaniards embrace at the end of the match

But with Tomas Berdych to come in the
last eight and Roger Federer his scheduled opponent in the semi-finals,
he knows he must get even better.

'Now I am in the quarter-finals and this is the moment to keep playing well and to try to do a little bit more,' he added.

'In general I am doing the right things but, if it's possible, (I need) to try to improve a little bit.'