Tag Archives: seventh

Rafael Nadal back in practice in bid to regain fitness for Australian Open

Nadal gets back on the practice court in bid to regain fitness for Australian Open

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UPDATED:

13:39 GMT, 20 November 2012

Rafael Nadal has returned to the training court and started hitting balls again for the first time since the latest in a series of knee injuries forced his withdrawal from the U.S. Open.

The 11-time grand slam champion, who has not competed since being stunned by Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon in June, completed a session under the supervision of coach and uncle Toni Nadal at an indoor facility in his home town of Manacor on the island of Majorca.

Nadal, 26, hopes to be back to full fitness in time for the Australian Open in January.

Absent friend: Rafael Nadal hasn't played since losing at Wimbledon in June

Absent friend: Rafael Nadal hasn't played since losing at Wimbledon in June

Shock: Nadal was beaten by Lukas Rosol

Shock: Nadal was beaten by Lukas Rosol

The Spaniard, whose athletic, aggressive playing style places huge demands on his muscles and joints, has been sidelined several times by knee problems during his 11-year career.

His latest injury was diagnosed as a partial tear of the patella tendon and an inflammation of the Hoffa's fat pad and after the shock defeat at Wimbledon he was unable to defend his Olympic title at the London Games.

As well as the U.S. Open, which he won in 2010 and lost to Novak Djokovic in last year's final, Nadal missed the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London and Spain's Davis Cup final defeat to Czech Republic at the weekend.

His absence deprived tennis of one of its 'big four' (Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray) for the second half of the season.

Nadal had played some of his best tennis in the first six months of 2012, losing narrowly to Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open and winning a record seventh Roland Garros title on his favoured clay.

James Rodriguez: Manchester United watch Porto winger for seventh time this season

So is he the new Nani, Fergie United scouts watch Porto's 36m Rodriguez for SEVENTH time this season

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UPDATED:

08:52 GMT, 13 November 2012

Manchester United scouts watched Porto striker James Rodriguez on Sunday for a seventh time this season, proving Sir Alex Ferguson’s interest in the 'new Nani' is as keen as ever.

Rodgriguez starred in Porto’s 2-1 victory over Academica and representatives from Old Trafford flew out to watch him first-hand — despite a release clause of 36million.

Rodriguez is one of Colombia’s hottest prospects. The 21-year-old has already earned been hailed as the ‘new Carlos Valderrama’, the ‘South American Cristiano Ronaldo’ and the new Nani.

In demand: James Rodriguez celebrates after scoring Porto's opening goal against Academica on Sunday

In demand: James Rodriguez – mobbed by his team-mates (below) celebrates after scoring Porto's opening goal against Academica on Sunday in front of watching Manchester United scouts

Porto player mob Rodriguez after he scored on Sunday

United have stepped up their pursuit of Rodriguez but been stunned by a massive hike in his asking price.

Sportsmail can reveal that United have been shocked by news that Rodriguez has renegotiated his Porto deal and agreed a significant increase in his transfer market valuation.

When United last enquired about cost, they were told they would have to pay 24m to buy him out of his contract. In a readjustment that surely places the goalscoring winger beyond their reach, the release clause now stands at 36m.

United have a ready-made bargaining tool in unsettled Portugal winger Nani, who could be used in a part-exchange package.

Porto
would happily welcome him back to his homeland but cannot afford his
current wage, let alone the 130,000 a week he is thought to be seeking
to stay at Old Trafford.

On the ball: Porto rate the Colombia star at 36million

On the ball: Porto rate the Colombia star at 36million

Porto
are unlikely to consider any bid for Rodriguez that falls below the
buy-out figure in his contract after seeing him further enhance his
reputation by laying on a fourth-minute opener for fellow-

Colombian Jackson Martinez and follow up with two goals of his own on Friday night.

It
leaves Ferguson exploring ways of raising funds to finance what would
be an expensive January transaction, with finding a buyer for Nani
appearing to be his main priority.

Rodriguez
was captain of the Colombian-U20 team, leading them to a victory at the
2011 Toulon Tournament where he was voted the best player.

He joined Porto for 4m from Argentine team Club Atletico Banfield in 2010.

ATP Masters: Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic set for battle

Murray and Djokovic gear up for seventh clash of the year at ATP Masters

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UPDATED:

17:59 GMT, 6 November 2012

There will be no quarter given when Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic meet for the seventh time this year at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London on Wednesday.

The rivalry has been a huge feature of 2012 and the clash is easily the most eagerly-anticipated of the group stages at the O2 Arena.

Their head-to-head for the year is tied at three all and the key feature of the battles between the two is that they have been just that, brutal battles to the point of exhaustion.

No 1: Novak Djokovic took over as the world leader from Roger Federer

No 1: Novak Djokovic took over as the world leader from Roger Federer

Both their grand slam meetings have lasted almost five hours, with Djokovic coming out on top in the Australian Open semi-finals before Murray turned the tables to win his first grand slam title at the US Open.

The last time they met was in the final of the Shanghai Masters last month, a three-set match that lasted three hours and 21 minutes in which Murray held five match points but Djokovic eventually came out on top.

The London crowd will be hoping for more of the same but for the loser, and possibly even the winner, their chances of progress may depend on the result of their final round-robin match on Friday.

Murray said: 'For me anyway there's an understanding of how much you have to put into the match to win it. I think that's just the nature of these matches.

'Both of us are very good retrievers, so often the points will go on a lot. Sometimes you feel like you need to win the point two or three times, which is tough and can be a little bit tiring.

Chat: Andy Murray talks after beating Tomas Berdych

Chat: Andy Murray talks after beating Tomas Berdych

'But we've played each other enough to know what to expect. We do practice with each other quite a lot, too. But it's never quite the same as the matches, that's for sure.'

Both players began their campaigns in London with victory yesterday, Murray fighting back from a set down to defeat Tomas Berdych while Djokovic saw off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets.

All the players are feeling the effects of a long season, but the world number one knows he must expect more punishment tomorrow.

He said: 'When I'm playing Andy, I need to be ready for long rallies and a physically demanding match. So I'm going to have a day to recover and get ready for my next challenge.

'Playing against Andy is always a big challenge. He has had lots of success in London, playing in his town, in front of his crowd, so he'll have big support. It's a big match.

'We know a lot about each other. I'm sure that we're going to come up with some really good tennis.'

Back home: This is Murray's first home tournament since winning gold

Back home: This is Murray's first home tournament since winning gold

This is Murray's first tournament back in London as a grand slam champion after he finally put questions about whether he would ever win one of tennis' biggest crowns to bed in New York.

Apart from a certain inner calm, Murray has not yet felt too many benefits on the court, but he hopes they will come.

He said: 'It's hard to say because I've lost a few very tough matches since. But I hope when I'm playing the best players in the world I'll believe in my shots a bit more and make sure to be aggressive when I can.

'I thought I did a good job of that (against Berdych). I tried to move forward and take his time away a little bit, which sometimes when I played him in the past, I'd let him dictate a lot of the points. I didn't feel like I did that.

'They're the things that, rather than it necessarily being just (a boost in) confidence, also just learning.

'Having won a few of the big events this year, and having lost a tough one in Australia against Novak, and at Wimbledon against Roger (Federer), I've learned a lot this year how I need to play those big points in big games.'

Wayne Rooney wants Manchester United to improve

Rooney says Man United must improve after striker bags two goals in win against Stoke

PUBLISHED:

18:12 GMT, 20 October 2012

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UPDATED:

18:12 GMT, 20 October 2012

Two-goal hero Wayne Rooney celebrated a personal milestone at Old Trafford on Saturday but warned Manchester United they must buck up their ideas if their Premier League title challenge is not to end in disaster.

Rooney's salvo, in addition to goals from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck, allowed Manchester United to record a 4-2 win over Stoke.

It also took Rooney to 200 club goals – for United and Everton – an early present for his 27th birthday on Wednesday.

On song: Wayne Rooney scored two goals against Stoke to help Manchester United win 4-2 at Old Trafford

On song: Wayne Rooney scored two goals against Stoke to help Manchester United win 4-2 at Old Trafford

However, United found themselves behind for the seventh time in 11 games this season, and have now conceded seven goals in four Premier League home games.

And Rooney knows it cannot continue. He said: 'Of course it is a concern.

'We can't keep doing that.

'No disrespect to Stoke, but better opposition will punish us.

'We need to keep working and keep defending well.

'Hopefully soon we will get the players back who can provide a bit of cover for us because if we want to be successful this season, we can't keep doing that.'

In diverting home Charlie Adam's free-kick for the first own goal of his career, Rooney was becoming the first United player to score at both ends since David Beckham at Blackburn in 2001.

Michael Kightly then struck after United had responded with three goals of their own, meaning Rooney's second was required to keep the Red Devils four points adrift of pacesetters Chelsea.

'We keep starting badly,' said Sir Alex Ferguson. 'Early goal against Fulham. Early goal against Tottenham. Early goal today.

'We are giving ourselves uphill fights. You don't want it to happen and hopefully we will get it sorted.
“The second in particular was a really slack one for us to lose.'

In on it: United's strikeforce were on fire as Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck added a goal each to Rooney's double

In on it: United's strikeforce were on fire as Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck added a goal each to Rooney's double

In on it: United's strikeforce were on fire as Robin van Persie (centre) and Danny Welbeck (right) added a goal each to Rooney's double

In on it: United's strikeforce were on fire as Robin van Persie (centre) and Danny Welbeck (right) added a goal each to Rooney's double

Rooney was unaware of his personal milestone until informed after the final whistle.

It was what he was told beforehand that bothered Stoke boss Tony Pulis more.

'I was disappointed to see him on the team sheet,” he said. “I thought Alex might have rested him today.

'Wayne is a great player. You watch him at times and his movement is absolutely first-class.'

Rooney's partnership with Van Persie looks as though it might pay big dividends over the coming months, with both men equally adept at moving wide and creating a chance for others, as the Dutchman did on Saturday.

'We are getting more of an understanding,' said Rooney.

'That is the first game we have started together up front and we have both scored. I am sure it will get better.'

Bad start: Rooney (centre) scored an own goal early in the game to hand Stoke the lead

Bad start: Rooney (centre) scored an own goal early in the game to hand Stoke the lead

It was only Stoke's second defeat of the season, not a disastrous statistic considering they have played all the title challengers.

And, whilst Chelsea have a clear advantage at present, Pulis is predicting a thrilling race.

'They have all got players in their teams who can change games,' he said.

'Manchester United have leg-beaters. They can beat you with a pass or with movement.

'That is what great teams have, all mixed up into one.

'Manchester United have got it, Chelsea, Arsenal. It will be a great Premier League this season.

'Tottenham got beaten today but they have got some outstanding players and obviously you have Manchester City in there.'

Richard Hughes wins seven of eight at Windsor

Seventh heaven! Hughes claims string of Windsor wins at odds of 10,168-1

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UPDATED:

17:59 GMT, 15 October 2012

Red riding: Richard Hughes won seven of his eight races at Windsor on Monday

Red riding: Richard Hughes won seven of his eight races at Windsor on Monday

Richard Hughes rode his way into the racing record books with his own fantastic 10,168-1 seven-timer at Windsor on Monday.

The 39-year-old jockey, who is on the verge of his first championship, won on all but one of his mounts to become the first jockey to ride seven winners at a meeting since Frankie Dettori's Magnificent Seven at Ascot on September 28, 1996.

Hughes said: 'I'm over the moon. I always thought I might do it one day at Windsor – my lucky track. It’s one thing after another this year, it’s been great.'

HUGHES' SEVEN WINNERS

Pivotal Movement 13-8

East Texas Red 5-2

Embankment 7-1

Magic Secret 4-1

Links Drive Lady 5-2

Duke Of Clarence 7-4

Mama Quilla 15-8

Hughes, who has ridden 161 winners this season, leads nearest title race pursuer William Buick by a massive 47 wins.

His winning roll started with
three-and-a quarter length success of Pivotal Movement in the colours of
Sir Alex Ferguson and trained by his boss and father-in-law Richard
Hannon, who supplied three of his winners.

The opportunity to go through the
eight-race card was blown when Ever Fortune could only finish third in
race six – the mile handicap.

But the Irishman was back in the
winner’s enclosure with a rallying effort on Hannon’s Duke of Clarence
before Ryan Moore stood down to allow his friend to pick up the
successful mount on William Haggas-trained Mama Quilla in the final
race.

Hughes celebrated with his own (less flamboyant) version of the Dettori flying dismount.

Bookmakers bemoaned the result but said the day was nowhere near as financially damaging as Dettori's 20,095-1 achievement which cost the industry 40million.

David Williams of Ladbrokes, who said
one client had won almost 250,000 for a 256 Hughes-related bet, said:
‘It would be wrong to liken it to Dettori day which was a Saturday with
terrestrial TV coverage but we have not had as bleak a midweek day for
a long time.’

'That was probably the cheapest
seven-timer ever for the bookies,' said William Hill spokesperson, Kate
Miller. 'The last time a high-profile jockey rode a big seven-timer it
cost us 7million, so we're very grateful that Richard timed his on a
quiet Monday.

'We'll pay out around 100,000 but the figure could easily have been 10 times that if he'd chosen this Saturday instead.'

The record for winners at a meeting
outside of Britain is held by US jockey Eddie Castro, who rode nine from
11 mounts at Calder in 2005.

England lose to Spain in Gold Coast Sevens

England suffer painful defeat to Spain in Australia's Gold Coast Sevens

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UPDATED:

11:24 GMT, 14 October 2012

England were beaten finalists in the Bowl competition of the Gold Coast Sevens, going down 19-14 in sudden-death extra-time to Spain in Australia.

Ben Ryan's team overcame Scotland 35-7 in the Bowl quarter-finals, having missed out on a place in the last eight of the main tournament following a 19-17 pool defeat to Samoa on Saturday.

Spanish inquisition: England were beaten in the bowl final

Spanish inquisition: England were beaten in extra time of the Bowl final

Spanish inquisition: England were beaten in extra time of the Bowl final

Dan Norton scored two tries in the win over the Scots, which set up a semi-final against Canada.

England triumphed 24-19 against the North Americans after extra-time and appeared on course to win the Bowl title at 14-7 up in the second half, but Spain battled back with tries from Ignacio Martin and Matias Tudela.

Fiji won the overall title, beating New Zealand 32-14 in the final, while Wales were losing Bowl semi-finalists to Spain.

Seventh heaven: Spain celebrate a famous victory over England in Australia

Seventh heaven: Spain celebrate a famous victory over England in Australia

Seventh heaven: Spain celebrate a famous victory over England in Australia

Big winners: Fiji ran out overall victors of the competition on Australia's Gold Coast

Big winners: Fiji ran out overall victors of the competition on Australia's Gold Coast

MK Dons 0 Sunderland 2: Lee Cattermole sent off but Black Cats progress

MK Dons 0 Sunderland 2: Captain Cattermole sent off but Black Cats progress

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 25 September 2012

When Martin O'Neill confirmed Lee Cattermole as Sunderland's skipper this season, the Irishman joked that he needed his head examined.

Such levity was in short supply on Tuesday night as Cattermole was sent off for the seventh time in his career.

Early bath: Cattermole was shown the seventh red card of his career on Tuesday night

Early bath: Cattermole was shown the seventh red card of his career on Tuesday night

Match facts

Milton Keynes Dons: McLoughlin, Chicksen, Kay, Williams, Lewington, Powell (O'Shea 77), Gleeson, Potter, Chadwick (Lowe 62), Bowditch, Smith (MacDonald 62).

Subs Not Used: Burns, Doumbe, Ali, Spence.

Booked: Kay.

Sunderland: Westwood, Gardner, Meyler, Kilgallon, Rose, Colback, Cattermole, Vaughan, McClean, Saha, Sessegnon (Johnson 85).

Subs Not Used: Mignolet, Campbell, Wickham, Ji, Fletcher, Egan.

Sent Off: Cattermole (32).

Booked: Colback.

Goals: Gardner 54, McClean 82.

Att: 10,489

Ref: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).

The midfielder was dismissed by
referee Stuart Attwell following a lunge at Dons' midfielder Adam
Chicksen, adding to a disciplinary record that makes for sorry reading.

In 79 appearances for Sunderland, the
24-year-old has been sent from the field five times, with 34 cautions
to be taken into consideration.

They certainly will be when O'Neill
censures a player who lasted just 32 minutes of a clash that was
competitive but without malice until Cattermole added to his
considerable charge-sheet.

But the Sunderland boss was far happier when his side took the lead, nine minutes after half-time.

Anthony Kay was booked after blocking James McClean's energetic run 25 yards from goal.

Right-back Craig Gardner had a fierce shot and his direct free kick left Ian McLoughlin flat-footed.
The ball appeared to wobble in the air, thoroughly defeating the MK Dons
keeper, who was making his full debut after first-choice David Martin
was ruled out with a stomach bug.

On target: McClean doubled Sunderland's advantage with nine minutes remaining at MK Dons

On target: McClean doubled Sunderland's advantage with nine minutes remaining at MK Dons

Former Liverpool trainee Darren
Potter forced Keiren Westwood into a smart stop with a low, 25-yard
drive moments before Gardner's opening goal.

Sunderland made their extra class
tell even with 10 men and were rewarded when McClean doubled their lead
with an excellent individual goal.

He turned his defender before hitting a shot into the bottom corner of McLoughlin's goal.

All smiles: Gardner celebrates after giving Sunderland the lead shortly after half-time

All smiles: Gardner celebrates after giving Sunderland the lead shortly after half-time

US Open 2012: Andy Murray beats Milos Raonic

Murray dismantles big serving Raonic to line up US Open quarter-final with Cilic

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UPDATED:

07:10 GMT, 4 September 2012

The furies of Milos Raonic's serve were made to count for nothing as Andy Murray reached a level not seen since the Olympics to dismantle the young Canadian and make the last eight of the US Open.

Swapping the boiling heat of his last match against Feliciano Lopez on Saturday afternoon for a cool evening, the 25 year-old Scot humbled the world number fifteen in exactly two hours 6-4 6-4 6-2, managing to avoid the expected bad weather due to hit American’s Eastern Seaboard.

For the eighth consecutive time Murray is through to a Grand Slam quarter final and now faces Croatian Marin Cilic, who he comfortably defeated en route to the Wimbledon final in July.

Magic Murray: Raonic was brushed aside with minimal fuss at Flushing Meadows

Magic Murray: Raonic was brushed aside with minimal fuss at Flushing Meadows

Raonic threw everything he had Murray but it was not remotely enough thanks to some brilliant returning backed up by an outstanding serving display of his own that never gave the 21 year-old Canadian, regarded as the game’s most dangerous emerging talent, the sniff of an upset.

There was not a single break point against the favourite’s serve after the match was brought forward in anticipation of weather disruption. If Cilic can be beaten for what would be the seventh time out of eight in their meetings then a semi-final against Roger Federer looms.

'I used a lot of variation tonight,' said Murray. 'Milos has got a huge game, a massive serve and I just had to guess sometimes on the returns. I got lucky a couple of times and I hit my passing shots very well, which was important.

'I've only played him one time before, so you start to see things after a few games. But he started serving a lot of big serves and I was just trying to react as quickly as possible. That’s all you can do. I was lucky because sometimes they fly past you and sometimes you get a racket on it. Tonight I got a racket on it.

'It's so important that you focus on
every service game because if you let him back into it you can maybe not
touch the ball on his service for three or four games. I tried to stay
focused for every point and did a good job of that.'

Big hitter: Murray wasn't dominated by Raonic's mighty serve

Big hitter: Murray wasn't dominated by Raonic's mighty serve

Big hitter: Murray wasn't dominated by Raonic's mighty serve

He was delighted to have got through ahead of threatened thunderstorms.

'We found out it was being switched about five minutes after we arrived at the stadium . It throws you a little bit, but both of us agreed to go on at 7.30 because we heard that rain was coming at 9.30. I was glad we got it done before the rain started.

'I expect a tough match against Cilic. I lost against him here in the fourth round in 2009. I've played him a few times. I won against him at Wimbledon in our most recent match. He’s a tough player. He works extremely hard, he’s got a solid game and I’ll need to play very well to beat him.'

The very first point saw a blinding backhand passing winner from Murray that was to set the tone for the night, although it was tense until he managed to get his first break.

Murray's agonised reaction to missing his first break opportunity told of the pressure that the Raonic serve brings to opponents, but as it turned out there would be plenty more as the Olympic gold medallist began to read the serve.

He got Raonic to 0-40 at 4-4 and was
thwarted by serves of 136 mph and 131 mph, but then managed to get in a
rally which was won with a drop shot.

Put it there: The Pair shake hands after the entertaining clash in New York

Put it there: The Pair shake hands after the entertaining clash in New York

Put it there: The Pair shake hands after the entertaining clash in New York

Put it there: The Pair shake hands after the entertaining clash in New York

Moving with fluency, much more so than in Saturday’s sticky win over Lopez, he got the Canadian in trouble again at 2-2 in the second and on a third break point gratefully received a forehand in the net.

For much of the time he made Raonic look ordinary, and it is true that his all-round game does not match his serve, but the margin of victory was still surprising given the hot streaks he is capable of launching.

/09/04/article-2197962-14D2EC68000005DC-715_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”All smiles: Murray was watched – as usual – by his girlfriend Kim Sears” class=”blkBorder” />

All smiles: Murray was watched - as usual - by his girlfriend Kim Sears

All smiles: Murray was watched – as usual – by his girlfriend Kim Sears

Murray had only just walked off the court after taking exactly two hours to wrap up the victory when the rain began to fall, which was fitting on a night when it seemed the Scot could do nothing wrong.

He said: 'It just started raining just now, so it was perfect timing to finish.

'When we got told the match was getting moved a bit earlier, it wasn't so much the match getting earlier that was hard – it's knowing there is possibly going to be showers and stops, which can disrupt the rhythm of the match and can make it tough, especially when you're playing against someone with as big a serve as him.

'It's tough to get into a rhythm when there isn't stops in the match. I was glad I managed to get the match done before the rain came.'

At 21, Raonic is closing in fast on the top 10 and his huge serve and forehand make him a threat to even the game's best players.

He had demolished James Blake in the previous round and it was partly because of the danger posed by the young Canadian that Murray made sure his concentration never wavered.

'I knew going into the match that I was going to have to return well,' the third seed said. 'And then I also had to stay extremely focused and give as few points as possible on my serve away.

'He was always going to come up with some big returns or come to the net a couple of times, get me in tough positions on my serve.

In the limelight: Murray looked unstoppable against Raonic at Flushing Meadows

In the limelight: Murray looked unstoppable against Raonic at Flushing Meadows

In the limelight: Murray looked unstoppable against Raonic at Flushing Meadows

'But I passed really well tonight when I needed to. I kind of made him back away from the net. I had to play extremely solid, and I did that.'

Raonic was left almost in awe of Murray's performance, and he told the Scot so when they shook hands at the net.

Raonic said: 'He said, 'Sorry, I got lucky a few times.' I said, “Don't be sorry – it was simply amazing. Keep it up and you'll do well”.

'Considering what I was able to put into the match, to have somebody that took me out of it and neutralised me and took it even one step further… I haven't really felt in that situation too much when I feel like I'm doing things well.'

Raonic had served 89 aces in his first three matches – substantially more than anyone else in the tournament – and in the first few games Murray struggled to get a racquet on the ball.

Get in there! The heavens opened almost as soon as Murray left the court

Get in there! The heavens opened almost as soon as Murray left the court

Murray's tally of 31 winners and 12 unforced errors was a reflection of his quality, while he was delighted to deny Raonic any chance of a break.

'On this surface, against a big hitter like him, normally you'll have to save some break points,' Murray added. 'But I served really smart today, did a good job behind my serve.

'I did the same at the Olympics. I didn't get broken the last three matches I played there. It's really important to serve well the deeper you go in the tournament. It conserves a lot of energy.

'The first round I served really badly, so there were long baseline rallies. It's physically tiring when you're serving at or 29 per cent or whatever I was serving at in the first match. So I was happy with that.'

Aston Villa sign Ashley Westwood from Crewe

Seventh heaven for Villa as Crewe captain Westwood joins Lambert's revolution

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UPDATED:

20:52 GMT, 31 August 2012

Done deal: Ashley Westwood

Done deal: Ashley Westwood

Aston Villa have signed Crewe skipper and midfielder Ashley Westwood for an undisclosed fee, on a four-year contract.

The 22-year-old has put pen to paper on a deal which will keep him at Villa Park until the end of the 2015-16 campaign.

Westwood helped Crewe gain promotion to League One last season and is now relishing a crack at proving himself in the Barclays Premier League.

He said: 'I see myself as a Michael Carrick-type of player, someone who stays out of the limelight and keeps it simple, retaining the ball and laying it off to team-mates.

'From the conversations I've had with the new manager (Paul Lambert) I think that will fit in perfectly here.

'He said to me that he's looking for younger lads to work with him, step up and lift this club to the next level and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.

'This is a fantastic football club, a massive club and I can't wait to get started really. It's a bit surreal right now but I'll get out training with the lads tomorrow morning and take it in my stride.'

Westwood – a product of the Crewe Academy – is Villa's seventh signing of the summer.

Lambert said: 'Being captain of his football club at 21 years of age, I think that says a big thing about Ashley's quality, the responsibility he has taken on his shoulders and his temperament.

'He's also a terrific prospect for this football club – a real, real talent.

'He's had a really good grounding at Crewe and he will fit in with what we're looking to do here. He's a good player and he'll do fine.'

Bakary Sako completes Wolves switch from St Etienne

Seventh heaven for Wolves as Solbakken secures Sako from St Etienne

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UPDATED:

12:08 GMT, 29 August 2012

Wolves have completed the signing of French midfielder Bakary Sako from St Etienne on a three-year deal.

The 24-year-old watched the npower Championship draw against Derby at Molineux on Saturday and joined his new team-mates for training on Wednesday morning.

Sako becomes Stale Solbakken's seventh summer signing and the Wolves boss is delighted with his latest capture.

New boy: Bakary Sako becomes Wolves seventh summer signing

New boy: Bakary Sako becomes Wolves seventh summer signing

Football League blog

'I am very pleased that we have completed the deal to sign Bakary,' he told the club's official website.

'He can play on either side and also in behind the striker and has a great left foot, which is something we are missing now in attack.

'He has great experience from playing in a top-six or -seven team in France over the last two seasons and hopefully he can be a match-winner for us.'