Tag Archives: silences

Andy Murray beats Carlos Berlocq in straight sets to march into Indian Wells quarter-finals

Murray silences Berlocq with straight sets victory to march into Indian Wells last eight

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

02:22 GMT, 14 March 2013

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UPDATED:

06:07 GMT, 14 March 2013

Andy Murray fought out a niggly battle that did little to enhance relations between Britain and Argentina as he struggled to overcome the grunting Carlos Berlocq to reach the last eight of the BNP Paribas Open.

Amid accusations of deliberate stalling across the net and complaints to the umpire about the South American’s varied volume of lingering growl Murray eventually got the better of him in an ill-tempered affair, winning through 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 55 minutes.

He now meets another Argentinian in his fellow US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, and will be relieved that he does not have to listen the ghastly soundtrack of Berlocq, which he described as ‘the worst I’ve ever heard on the men’s tour.'

On a run: Andy Murray sailed past Carlos Berlocq and into the quarter-finals

On a run: Andy Murray sailed past Carlos Berlocq and into the quarter-finals

Murray was particularly aggrieved that he was being warned about time violations between points while having to put up baritone groan of his muscular opponent.

'I’ve never experienced before when I’ve had to speak to an umpire about it,' he said. 'I’ve never found it to be that off-putting. But if it’s going to be suggested that I’m using gamesmanship by taking too long between points then you can’t be making noises like that on court. He was still making a noise when I was hitting the ball, it’s annoying. There was silence and then it was extremely loud, that’s off-putting.'

You wish other players would speak up against the habit, which is more associated with the women’s tour, but they rarely do.

As Murray admitted afterwards, he will have to play better if he is to progress further. 'It wasn’t the prettiest match and I’ve got to improve on it, but conditions were quite tough,' he said. 'When we went out there it was bright and in the 90s and the ball was bouncing very high, but as it got cooler and the sun went down my timing got better.'

Hot streak: Murray is enjoying his best run of results at Indian Wells

Hot streak: Murray is enjoying his best run of results at Indian Wells

Certainly you would not have expected Berlocq – happiest on clay, ranked 85 and never having been past the second round of a Grand Slam – to mount such a challenge, but he went for broke and hit some glorious winners to discomfort his opponent.

Having had six weeks off after the Australian Open Murray is yet to look entirely into his rhtythm at this tournament, where he has struggled before, although the fact is he is through to the last eight for the loss of just one set.

The only thing that will linger about the match was the bad blood that developed between the players from early in the first set onwards. Murray usually only gets cross with himself and rarely falls out with opponents, but he did not enjoy the way the barrel-chested Berlocq played the game and did not hide his feelings.

Having started in awkward conditions of glaring sun and mixed shadows across the court, he complained to his box – that contained his regular celebrity supporter Kevin Spacey – that 'I can’t see the ball!' as breaks were exchanged.

Outgunned: Argentine Berlocq was swatted aside by the world No 3

Outgunned: Argentine Berlocq was swatted aside by the world No 3

In the tenth game the two players swapped accusations that they were deliberately stalling, umpire Steve Ulrich taking Murray’s side. Playing very conservatively he was broken, but broke back in the next game and gave a huge ‘C’mon!’ and fist pump in Berlocq’s face at the net.

The tiebreak was a tense affair, settled at 6-4 when a scrambling Murray sent up a high lob and the Argentinian blasted an overhead long.

By now the 25 year-old Scot was getting very frustrated with Berlocq’s grunt/growl, as offensive as anything you hear in the women’s game. He complained early in the second set to Ulrich, saying it was ‘outrageous.’

Murray, whose forehand never fired and whose serve was more tentative than usual, could not hold on to an early break as Berlocq continued to hit out with massive, heavily spun groundstrokes.

Finally he got ahead with a backhand lob to break for 4-3, and from there just about managed to serve it out, although not before he had to save another break point at 5-3.

No, it was not pretty, but it got the job done.

Chelsea fans should be careful what they wish for from Roman Abramovich – Des Kelly

Fans should be careful what they wish for… or Roman might end up giving them their old Chelsea back after all

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UPDATED:

00:24 GMT, 1 December 2012

They have a song at Stamford Bridge that brings together thousands of unhappy supporters. It bubbles up in between the boos aimed at the current patsy in the manager’s dug out.

It punctuates the painfully long and uncomfortable silences that have distinguished games at the London ground of late. The cry is: ‘We Want Our Chelsea Back’.

This chorus reverberates around the stadium.

Winter storm: Angry Chelsea supporters protest against the appointment of Rafa Benitez

Winter storm: Angry Chelsea supporters protest against the appointment of Rafa Benitez

Winter storm: Angry Chelsea supporters protest against the appointment of Rafa Benitez

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Who knows Maybe Roman Abramovich sits there humming along, too, while he stares into space and ponders precisely when he is going to sack his most recent appointment.

But I have a question: Which Chelsea do the fans want back What are they actually nostalgic for

Are they singing for a return to the ‘good old days’ when you could stand in The Shed and try to make out the players somewhere in the distance beyond an old running track. The days when you could kick bits of concrete about, dash from the police truncheons and wait to hear if the Greater London Council would allow Ken Bates to turn on his electric fence

Or are they pining for the Chelsea that just preceded Abramovich, the Chelsea where nobody really knew who the owners were The one with shiny new stands and some shops, but teetering on the brink of bankruptcy with debts of around 80million

Or maybe folk are just nostalgic for those hazy, barely-remembered days when Chelsea were not only European Champions but top of the Premier League table as well. When was it now Oh, yes. About five weeks ago. A golden age, I’m sure we can all agree.

We want our Chelsea back I’m afraid it hasn’t been anyone’s Chelsea except Abramovich’s since the moment he walked through the door, beamed a billionaire’s smile at Bates and bought the club by withdrawing the equivalent of a few days’ interest from his current account. In that moment, the club was his and his alone.

Trigger happy: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

Keeping the seat warm: Rafael Benitez

Keepnig the seat warm: How long will Rafael Benitez last under trigger happy Roman Abramovich (left)

The oil tycoon hasn’t exactly said a great deal over the years, but on Day One he certainly signaled his intentions clearly enough. ‘Chelsea is a hobby,’ he said. ‘It is for fun, not an investment,’ he added. As those words spread across the land you could hear the balding heads of chairmen and directors hit their mahogany desks with a despairing thud. Abramovich instantly re-wrote the rules in the English Premier League. Out went the ‘local businessman made good’. In came the ‘global oligarchs who could do whatever they flaming well liked’.

Chelsea was – and is – just another toy for him. The yachts, the private jets, the luxury properties, the cars, are all fine, but he had himself a real-life computer game. He could buy, sell, sack and move anyone he cared to.

Right now Abramovich wants to be proved right on Fernando Torres and everyone and everything is being realigned on his personal board game to try to make that happen. To all the people singing about ‘our Chelsea’, I’m afraid it isn’t. At Chelsea, everyone pays to watch Abramovich play.

Good old days The old Shed End at Stamford Bridge was long gone before Roman arrived

Good old days The old Shed End at Stamford Bridge was long gone before Roman arrived

Before Abramovich: Frank Sinclair (above) and Jody Morris (below) in action for Chelsea

Before Abramovich: Frank Sinclair (above) and Jody Morris (below) in action for Chelsea

Before Abramovich: Frank Sinclair (above) and Jody Morris (below) in action for Chelsea

He needs the fans only to make some noise and keep him company. He could probably sack the lot of you and tell his players to perform in an empty stadium if he had a mind.

So if you’re a fan unhappy with what is happening at Stamford Bridge, why on earth are you jeering Rafa Benitez He just answered the telephone when the Russian got bored of the last boss.

The Spaniard has done nothing wrong. He took on a task any out-of-work manager (except Pep Guardiola) would seize with both hands, if only for the inevitable pay off. Booing him for not being Roberto Di Matteo, Jose Mourinho or even Guardiola seems futile and somewhat self-defeating.

More from Des Kelly…

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23/11/12

Des Kelly: Ibrahimovic's goal was NOT the greatest ever scored
16/11/12

Des Kelly: Just man up like Rod and let your teardrops explode
09/11/12

Des Kelly: No Chelsea player heard Terry abuse Ferdinand… now they're blessed with the hearing of a piano tuner
02/11/12

Des Kelly: The finger of blame will only point at you, Roberto
26/10/12

Des Kelly: Now it is time for football's three monkeys to wise up
19/10/12

Des Kelly: Really, what are these people who support Armstrong on
12/10/12

Des Kelly: Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism… so let's stop the schism
28/09/12

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There’s a strange echo of this scenario happening at Arsenal. They are singing ‘We Want Our Arsenal back’. Only I’m not sure how they intend that to happen.

Do they want Arsene Wenger to rewind the clock to the days before he had to compete with Russian oil moguls and Middle Eastern sheiks, when the Gunners thrived in their old stadium, as if that would cure the trophy drought

When they say ‘Our Arsenal’, does that mean they want it taken out of the hands of the major shareholder American Stan Kroenke and put in the control of Uzbekistan’s Alisher Usmanov instead Does that give Arsenal back

It’s very confusing.

Supporters at Stamford Bridge are too timid to abuse Abramovich in case he spins on his heel and actually does return Chelsea to them, which would be a disaster. So they abuse Benitez instead.

At The Emirates, fans are rightly nervous of losing Arsene Wenger. So club chief executive Ivan Gazidis gets it in the neck instead, because he earns a few quid and nobody’s really sure whose fault it is when Robin van Persie flees.

Fans can certainly complain if they wish. There is a grand tradition of football rage. But the followers of both clubs should be careful for what they wish. Nostalgia is a seductive liar.

I may need a lawyer… any ideas

The not very shy, but hopefully retiring, Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, took time out from lecturing the world last week to cast his organisation as ‘victims’.

He complained: ‘The Society of Black Lawyers, in seeking to challenge racism in football, has been accused of being “nave”, “publicity-seeking”, “unhelpful” or out to “get work”. Organisations or individuals who speak out on human rights are seldom welcomed by those whose inaction or collusion with racism is challenged.’

Actually, Herbert is wrong.

The Society Of Black Lawyers has not been accused of using football has a vehicle for shameless self-promotion. But I think he’ll find an individual called Peter Herbert has.

It is an impression bolstered somewhat by Herbert’s website, which, as the football365 website helpfully pointed out, is lovingly adorned with an array of pictures of Herbert, posing alongside the Rev Al Sharpton, or a Mercedes. Clearly, he is not averse to the limelight.

But something occurred to me. In recent weeks, I believe I have referred to Herbert as being nave, publicity seeking, unhelpful and out to get work. So is he accusing me of ‘colluding with racism’ If so it is an outrageous charge.

I should consult a good lawyer. I wonder if Herbert knows of one

Quote of the week

‘If I was going to lie to you, honestly, I
would lie.’

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert — or ‘Honest Paul’, as he
will now be known — strengthens the case for the use of lie detector
machines in football press conferences.

Who are you kidding, Becks

David Beckham is leaving Los Angeles and could be heading for Monaco. What on earth would attract the star footballer to the multi-millionaires’ favourite enclave Could it be the fact that his salary would top 10 million a year before tax Or, indeed, after tax, too

With overwhelming optimism, Beckham also says he has not ruled out appearing for England under Roy Hodgson. In a similar vein, I have not ruled out a night of nude wrestling with Megan Fox.

Feeling Scott-free does not mean it’s gone swimmingly

The postmortem into British Swimming’s failures in the pool at London 2012 is still under wraps, despite Michael Scott’s departure.

The performance director quit last weekend. I was happy to reveal the news on these pages after pointing out the lunacy of an arrangement where Scott was often trying to direct Team GB’s performance from Melbourne, some 10,500 miles away.

The group reviewing British Swimming’s Olympic underachievement agreed and wisely recommended Scott either move to the country that paid his 1.3million contract — or depart.

Quit: Former British swimming chief Michael Scott

Quit: Former British swimming chief Michael Scott

Scott decided to quit. His air fares
alone would have paid for a few British coaches. When the news broke,
the share price of companies trading in dry roasted peanuts plummeted,
but hardly anyone batted an eyelid.

Except for British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes. He said: ‘We wish to pay tribute to Michael. He leaves with our sincere thanks.’

But then Sparkes would say that, since it was he who handed Scott a new four-year deal in April.
We can assume he did not consider his performance director’s regular absences an issue, only to find himself contradicted and undermined by the review body he set up.

Quite a tricky situation for a chief executive to distance himself from, I’d say. If the plan for your chosen performance director implodes, inevitably there are calls for accountability further up the chain of command.

They seem to understand this Down Under. When Australian Swimming set about an independent review, following an equally disappointing showing in the London pool, their chief executive promptly quit.

Kevin Neil, Swimming Australia CEO, said: ‘We are undertaking various reviews to set a course for a new future and it is therefore appropriate to step aside.’

So, in Australia, the man in charge decided to carry the can. In Britain, the man in charge tries to kick the can somewhere else.

British Swimming currently has no head coach, no performance director and no head of finance. There are also suggestions that Sparkes is barely on speaking terms with his No 2, Ian Mason, who is grandly titled ‘The Director of World Class Operations’, although a simple ‘Director of Operations’ should suffice for now.

It’s not exactly going swimmingly, is it

The review findings were expected at the end of October. Now the proposed release date is December 6. That cannot be a good sign. Either way, some answers are well overdue.

Andrew Strauss leads England in Sri Lanka fightback

Captain Marvel! Strauss silences doubters as England end day two on front foot

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UPDATED:

11:55 GMT, 4 April 2012

Half-centuries from under-pressure captain Andrew Strauss and opener Alastair Cook on day two left England in a strong position to push for victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

Having bowled the hosts out for 275 in the morning session – with four wickets falling for the addition of 37 runs – England enjoyed their best batting day of a difficult winter to reach stumps 121 behind on 154 for one.

Although Strauss did not provide the long-awaited hundred he wanted to halt speculation about his future as skipper, his diligent 61 was crucial in building strong foundations for a first Test win of 2012.

Nice one skipper: Andrew Strauss helped put England in a commanding position in Colombo

Nice one skipper: Andrew Strauss helped put England in a commanding position in Colombo

SRI LANKA v ENGLAND

Click here for the full scorecard from Colombo

He battled hard in a first-wicket
stand of 122 with Cook, the pair's first century partnership in nine
innings, with the latter due to resume tomorrow on 77.

Sri Lanka began the day on 238 for six, with England hoping to make light work of the tail.

Although the second new ball was just
nine overs old, James Anderson and Steven Finn drew blanks as Angelo
Mathews, 41no overnight, nudged his way to an eighth Test fifty.

Swann was needed to get the ball
rolling, drawing Suraj Randiv into a rash shot down the ground, where he
was well held by the back-pedalling Kevin Pietersen.

It took Swann four more balls to remove Mathews, who popped a simple catch to Strauss at short mid-wicket to fall for 57.

Back to his best: Strauss silenced his doubters with a series of classy shots all round the ground

Back to his best: Strauss silenced his doubters with a series of classy shots all round the ground

No 9 Dhammika Prasad made 12
not out but England were ruthless in seeing off the last two men, Tim
Bresnan benefiting from Rangana Herath's wild hack and Swann turning one
sharply into Suranga Lakmal's stumps.

Swann finished with four for 75 and had handed England the momentum.

Strauss and Cook were left with an
unwanted four-over stint before lunch and emerged unscathed, just.
Strauss got off the mark after three balls, sending a low thick edge
through the cordon for four, and had a nerve-shredding moment just
before the break when an attempted cut almost ricocheted into his
stumps.

Got him: Strauss eventually fell for 61 to the bowling of Tillakaratne Dilshan

Got him: Strauss eventually fell for 61 to the bowling of Tillakaratne Dilshan

England were positive at the start of
the afternoon session, both batsmen finding the ropes inside seven
deliveries, and working hard for singles.

It took just eight overs for left-arm spinner Herath, man of the match in Galle, to be introduced.

England's tactics were much better
against him this time, with the much-debated sweep shot put into storage
and both batsmen playing safer shots with the turn.
Yet Herath still posed some hard questions.

Right on: But not before Alastair Cook had also reached 50. He remained unbeaten at the close

Right on: But not before Alastair Cook had also reached 50. He remained unbeaten at the close

Cook, on 20, turned him to short-leg
where Lahiru Thirimanne almost took a wonderful low catch only for the
ball to squirm loose.

Strauss had 23 when he was beaten by Herath, nicking one just short of Mahela Jayawardene at slip.

Cook nudged for two to bring up the
50 partnership in the 21st over and collected his third boundary to long
leg when Herath dropped short.

Fitting in: Jonathan Trott came to the crease late on, but look comfortable in the heat

Fitting in: Jonathan Trott came to the crease late on, but look comfortable in the heat

Herath was turning the ball towards a
seven-strong leg-side field, with four close catchers, but Strauss and
Cook were keeping their heads.

Lakmal returned for a second spell, with Strauss welcoming the additional pace by nudging the first ball off his hip for two.

The England captain joined Cook in passing 40 with a neat three off Lakmal in the last over before tea.

Job done: Earlier England had taken less than one session to dismiss Sri Lanka's tail

Job done: Earlier England had taken less than one session to dismiss Sri Lanka's tail

It was not until the 39th over of the
innings that Strauss unveiled the sweep and, even more surprisingly, it
was caused no dramas.

Cook was also becoming more confident, reverse sweeping Herath to third man for four.

Both openers reached their half-centuries in the space of a couple of minutes, Strauss in 105 balls and Cook taking 164.

In a spin: Graeme Swann took three of the final four wickets to leave the hosts on 275

In a spin: Graeme Swann took three of the final four wickets to leave the hosts on 275

Prasad saw Strauss and Cook collect
fours to the vacant third-man area in the same over but when Sri Lankan
heads began to drop, Tillakaratne Dilshan struck.

Having edged the off-spinner short of
slip two balls earlier, Strauss went to cut a ball too full for the
shot and was smartly caught by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.

Cook continued to compile watchfully
for the remainder of the day, with new man Jonathan Trott (15no)
offering typically cool-headed support at the other end.

Tim's not dim: The recalled Tim Bresnan took the other wicket, that of Thilan Samaraweera

Tim's not dim: The recalled Tim Bresnan took the other wicket, that of Thilan Samaraweera

Ally McCoist: Rangers can win SPL

We can win the crown! McCoist silences quit rumours and targets fourth straight title

A bullish Ally McCoist insisted Rangers can still beat Celtic to the SPL title — even without Nikica Jelavic.

The Croatian left for Everton on transfer deadline day in a 6million deal, with efforts to recruit Norwich striker Grant Holt as a replacement failing
amidst concerns over the Ibrox club’s long-term future.

An anti-climactic transfer window ended with the SPL champions losing six first-team players, while signing just one — prompting fresh speculation
McCoist could quit as manager in dismay.

Plenty to ponder: Ally McCoist endured a frustrating transfer window

Plenty to ponder: Ally McCoist endured a frustrating transfer window

As bookmakers Paddy Power stopped taking bets on his departure, however, the Rangers boss quelled resignation talk by claiming he can still lead his side to four-in-a-row.

‘I’m lucky enough to be manager of this football club and I believe we can win the championship again,’ he said.

‘I wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be in this position if I didn’t believe that. It’s going to be difficult. We don’t have the numbers they (Celtic) do — but I believe we have the quality.

‘It’s going to be a testing time but, of course, I believe we can do it and we have the boys who can get the goals required.’

Owner Craig Whyte, meanwhile, insisted he and McCoist are ‘on the same page’ in their working relations and dismissed fears the manager could quit.

‘Ally and I had a great meeting on Tuesday before the window
closed,’ said Whyte after returning to Monaco.

Badly missed: Nikica Jelavic

Badly missed: Nikica Jelavic

‘We are both on the same page on everything we’re doing. Of course, he would have liked to bring in a replacement for Jelavic.

‘We tried to do that, but he also said he was willing to go with what he has for the rest of the season.

‘Rumours he is going to resign are rubbish and spread by those who do not know Ally.

‘Nikica was a big player for us,’ McCoist added. ‘He’ll be missed, without doubt, but we have options in attack. Mervan Celik falls into that category and David Healy has been scoring recently.

‘Kyle Lafferty is only two or three weeks away from returning, so we will not be short of options.’

McCoist spoke as former chairman Alastair Johnston accused Whyte of breaking the transfer promises made when he took the club over.

‘There is a bit of disappointment with the transfer window,’ Johnston told Sportsmail. ‘I mean with respect to what they all thought Mr Whyte was going to do when he came in, with respect to the commitments he made.

‘Those were recognised in the formal shareholders’ agreement when he promised to put at least 5m into the club net of any sales. So it would be 5m, plus any proceeds from players leaving.

‘Notwithstanding any magical accounting, Mr Whyte is way ahead with regard to the income the club has derived from transfers out, in the wake of Jelavic disappearing.

‘So, yes, there is disappointment from the fans. Mr Whyte has not upheld his commitment. The result is Ally is operating with two hands behind his back.

Wasting your time: Rangers failed with a bid for Grant Holt (left)

Wasting your time: Rangers failed with a bid for Grant Holt (left)

‘There is a lot of confusion with respect to whoever is running the off-field side of signing players.’

Rangers’ curious transfer dealings were highlighted by Norwich chief executive David McNally, who told Sportsmail he had made it clear to Ibrox officials even before the window opened they would be wasting their time trying for Holt.

Rangers tabled a 1m offer late on Tuesday, which was turned down by the Carrow Road club.

McNally said: ‘We were quite clear with Rangers that Grant was not for sale under any circumstances.

‘They did make an inquiry on Tuesday, which was knocked back immediately. But they wouldn’t have been in a position to have done anything because Grant wasn’t for sale at any price.’