Tag Archives: slam

Lance Armstrong drug confession saddens Roger Federer

Armstrong has damaged all sports… not just cycling, says 'saddened' Federer

By
James Andrew

PUBLISHED:

05:37 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

05:37 GMT, 20 January 2013

Roger Federer has expressed his sadness at American cyclist Lance Armstrong's admission that he cheated his way to seven Tour de France wins and believes it will have a negative impact on all sport.

Armstrong confessed in a televised interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey this week to using banned performance-enhancing substances to establish himself as one of the biggest names in sport.

'What a sad story,' 17-times grand-slam winner Federer said after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Sad times: Roger Federer says Lance Armstrong's confession has hurt all of sport

Sad times: Roger Federer says Lance Armstrong's confession has hurt all of sport

'I don't know what to say. It just really saddens me to see that someone did this for such a long time.

'Obviously he's hurt his sport in a big way, even though he helped it in the beginning. But now the burden they live under, all other sports maybe as well.

'I'm an active athlete right now and it's not fun times really to be in sports to a degree. I guess all I needed to see was the first few minutes of the interview and then I knew what was the deal, and the rest I don't really care.

Coming clean: Disgraced cyclist Armstrong reveals all to Oprah Winfrey

Coming clean: Disgraced cyclist Armstrong reveals all to Oprah Winfrey

'It's just very saddening this story, to be honest.'

Serena Williams, who has won 15 grand slam titles, earlier admitted she had been 'glued' to the televised confessional.

'I think as an athlete, as someone that works really, really hard since I was four or three, I think it's a sad day for all athletes in general,' the American said.

Lance Armstrong

Roger Federer

Questions: Federer fears that Armstrong's admission will lead to people questioning other great athletes

'But I think overall it's even more disappointing for the people that were adversely affected through everything. You can only just hope for the best for them.

'Unfortunately, I think a lot of people now look and are like, okay, if somebody that great (has been cheating) what about everyone else in every other sport'

Dedicated: Serena Williams says the Armstrong saga was a sad day for athletes

Dedicated: Serena Williams says the Armstrong saga was a sad day for athletes

Nadal plans to make return on South American soil at the VTR Open in Chile

Nadal's comeback is hotting up as he plans a return in Chile

By
Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

16:44 GMT, 17 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:45 GMT, 17 January 2013

Rafael Nadal will return next month at the VTR Open in Chile.

The competition starts on February 4 and will be the first tournament the world No 4 has competed in since Wimbledon, where he was knocked out in the second round by the relative unknown Lukas Rosol.

Since then Nadal has been recovering from a knee injury.

On the way back: Nadal made it to the final in last year's Australian Open, but has been out injured since last June

On the way back: Nadal made it to the final in last year's Australian Open, but has been out injured since last June

He was supposed to return to action
earlier this month but was sidelined by a stomach virus and forced to
wait another few weeks.

It will be the first time Nadal has
played on South American soil since 2005 and no doubt the 11-time Grand
Slam winner is itching to get back on the court, having posted numerous
updates and photos of his recovery on his Facebook page.

Australian Open 2013: Andy Murray beats Robin Haase

Murray ignites grand slam challenge with straight-sets victory over hapless Haase

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

01:50 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

02:41 GMT, 15 January 2013

Andy Murray had the privilege of walking out onto the Rod Laver Arena to begin the second day of the Australian Open as a Grand Slam champion, and turned in a performance worthy of one.

Freshly minted as US Open winner, the 25 year-old Scot was utterly commanding as he dismissed Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3 6-1 6-3 in just an hour and 37 minutes, being over and done with before the stadium had a chance to fill up before lunchtime.

Murray’s next opponent is Joao Sousa, the world No 100, who beat Australian wildcard John-Patrick Smith 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

Game, set, match: Andy Murray cruised through to the second round with victory over Robin Hasse

Game, set, match: Andy Murray cruised through to the second round with victory over Robin Hasse

The contrast to their US open second round of 2011 could hardly have been greater, and is a measure of how far Murray has progressed since then. On that day in New York he fell two sets behind, was totally at odds with himself and also allowed Haase a last-ditch comeback when he had gone ahead in the fifth set after seeming to recover.

This was one-way traffic by comparison, the only time the Dutchman looking comfortable being the first two games when he held easily and then tested the Murray serve.

A glorious morning with tepratures of 26C and a half-empty arena greeted the players for this relatively early start. Murray has been acquainted with Haase since junior days and knows him to be a fluent shotmaker whose skills have not always been matched by his mental strength.

Easy does it: Murray was always in control as he races to a straight-sets victory

Easy does it: Murray was always in control as he races to a straight-sets victory

After the initial hump had been overcome the world No 3 settled into his rhythm, razor sharp on his returns and enjoying a pleasing consistency on his first serve, with the percentage success rate always up around the 75 per cent mark.

His ease of movement showed that there were no nerves and soon he was reeling off successive service breaks to put himself in total command. The second set was the most straightforward of all, over in 26 minutes, with the third taking only half an hour.

Murray was broken in the third at 4-1 up when it looked like he was going to completely steamroller his way home, but the result was never in doubt, which has not always been the case when he has started at a major, sometimes nervous of the expectations placed upon him.

Support group: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears (above) and his fan club (below) were in attendance

Support group: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears (above) and his fan club (below) were in attendance

Supporters of Britain's Andy Murray

If there was a slight glitch it was the fact that Murray had his serve broken twice, despite him ending the match with a 73 per cent first serve success rate, but that would be nitpicking and it was to his credit that the whole match was something of a non-event.

Laura Robson and Jamie Baker are due to play later in the day’s singles, but this was a promising start that suggests that he is in good shape for the more strenuous tests to come.

It was the sort of imperious beginning you are more used to seeing from the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, which is about the highest praise that can be given.

Murray said: 'It’s a good start and it’s nice to win in straight sets.It’s the hottest day we have had here for a while. It makes the court quicker and it took a little while to get used to it.'

Cooling off: Murray barely broke sweat as he began his Australian Open challenge in style

Cooling off: Murray barely broke sweat as he began his Australian Open challenge in style

Australian Open 2013: Andy Murray ready to step into the unknown

Relaxed Murray ready to step into the unknown in Australia as grand slam champion

By
Jon Fisher, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

13:00 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 14 January 2013

Andy Murray will step into the unknown when he takes to the court on Tuesday at the Australian Open as a grand slam champion.

Murray ended his long wait for a maiden major at the US Open in September by beating Novak Djokovic in an epic five-setter.

The Scot has been candid about the fact the success has led to a more relaxed build-up to Melbourne but he admits to having no idea how it will affect him when he meets Dutchman Robin Haase in his opener.

Relaxed: Murray practises with coach Ivan Lendl on Sunday

Relaxed: Murray practises with coach Ivan Lendl on Sunday

Relaxed: Murray practises with coach Ivan Lendl on Sunday

'I have no idea how I'm going to play here,' he said.

'I have no idea how I'm going to feel when I go on the court.

'I said I feel more relaxed but I don't know the day when I play my first match, I could be unbelievably nervous.

'I don't know what effect it will have on me until I'm put in that situation.'

No player in the Open era has ever followed up his first grand slam title by winning the next one and Murray conceded it was a tough ask to go back to back.

He added: 'I know how hard these events are to win.

Unknown territory: Murray heads into the major as a grand slam champion

Unknown territory: Murray heads into the major as a grand slam champion

'If I don't win the Australian Open, I don't think it will be down to having won the US Open. It's down to the level of competition and how tough it is to win these events rather than what happened four or five months ago.'

Murray could have hoped for an easier opening assignment.

Haase may be 53 in the world rankings but his big-hitting style makes him a tricky opponent.

Murray experienced that first hand at the 2011 US Open when he had to come from two sets down to win their second-round encounter.

'He's a very good player, very talented,' said Murray. 'I had a tough match with him at the US Open, he likes playing on big courts.

Tough start: Murray faces big-hitting Dutchman Robin Haase in the first round

Tough start: Murray faces big-hitting Dutchman Robin Haase in the first round

'He tends to come out firing and going for big shots, playing extremely aggressive. So I'll need to be prepared for that.

'When I played him in New York it was a very, very tough match and I expect the same thing here.'

Murray won the warm-up event in Brisbane and appears primed to make another serious challenge in Melbourne after reaching the last four here 12 months ago and the final in both 2010 and 2011.

'I feel good just now,' he said.

'I've been practising well, moving well in practice.'

Rafael Nadal pulls out of Australian Open

Aussie agony for Nadal as injury rules Spaniard out of first grand slam of 2013

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UPDATED:

15:43 GMT, 28 December 2012


Aussie ruled: Nadal has pulled out of the showpiece event

Aussie ruled: Nadal has pulled out of the showpiece event

World No 4 Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Australian Open due to a stomach virus.

The Spaniard has not played since suffering his shock second-round exit at Wimbledon to unheralded Czech Lukas Rosol due to a knee injury.

He had been due to return at this week's exhibition event in Abu Dhabi but the virus forced him to withdraw.

And he has now decided to extend that absence to include the season's opening grand slam event in Melbourne.

Former world No 1 Nadal, a
winner of 11 grand slam titles, including one Down Under in 2009, told
the Australian Open's official website: 'I am sorry and very sad to
announce that I will not play in the Australian Open.

'My knee is coming along okay, but a
stomach virus has left me unable to get ready in time to tackle the
rigours of a grand slam.

'Because of the virus, I have been
unable to get any match practice and simply would not be doing myself or
my friends in Australia justice if I went down there so unprepared.

'You need your body to be at its best for the Australian Open.

'It was a difficult decision and I am extremely disappointed to be missing such a great event.

'I love coming to Melbourne and playing on Rod Laver Arena before the Australian crowds. It brings out the best in me.

'It
hurts to have to wait another 12 months before I get another chance. In
the meantime, the focus is now on desperately trying to get back on the
tour.'

Nadal has now targeted the Abierto
Mexicano Telcel event in Acapulco which starts on February 25 for his
comeback, although he remains optimistic of returning before that.

Wimble-done: Nadal hasn't featured since the defeat to Rosol

Wimble-done: Nadal hasn't featured since the defeat to Rosol

He added on Facebook: 'As my team and doctors say, the safest thing to do is to do things well and this virus has delayed my plans of playing these weeks.

'I will have to wait until the Acapulco tournament to compete again although I could consider to play before at any other ATP event.'

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said: 'It is completely understandable and we really feel disappointed for him.

'But without any match practice and without sufficient lead up time on the practice court, it makes it virtually impossible for him to get his body ready.

'We just hope he gets better quickly and we see him back on the tour as soon as possible.

'Tennis fans across the world have been missing him. Our Australian Open staff will very much miss him and his team as he is not only a great player, but also a great guy with good people around him.

'We wish Rafa all the best. I am confident we will see him back on the tour soon and back in Australia for 2014, no doubt as one of the contenders for the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.'

Prior to the virus, Nadal had spoken of how he was intending to use the first few weeks of his comeback simply as a means of regaining full fitness.

However, his absence, while a blow to tournament organisers and his fans, will be a boost to the other members of the big four – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Jonathan McEvoy reflects on British sport in 2012

'Unforgettable'… Jonathan McEvoy reflects on the greatest ever year of British sport

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UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 27 December 2012

The lessons of a sporting lifetime were stood on their head in seven unforgettable months between the late spring and mid-winter of 2012.

Even if you were born in the immediate pre-War years, you knew no British chap could ever win a Grand Slam tennis tournament.

Think of the Olympics and the home-grown heroes were so conspicuously few that they were marked out for life. The Tour de France was marvelled at for its epic climbs but was still as Gallic as Brie and Bordeaux.

Outstanding: London 2012's opening ceremony reflected a superb year of sport

Outstanding: London 2012's opening ceremony reflected a superb year of sport

India’s cricketers traditionally dominate on the subcontinent. Our rugby lads had recently distinguished themselves at dwarf-throwing and little else. As for Manchester City, they had not won the title since Noah was a boy.

All this contributed to talk of vulnerability in the country’s competitive psyche. We had grown weary of the plucky-loser narrative but were still searching for a remedy when this annus mirabilis began.

Even the Barclays Premier League, the foremost sporting phenomenon of the past two decades, was losing a little of its lustre to Spain’s La Liga. But it was on the concluding, heart-stopping, see-sawing day of the season that the national game set the dramatic standard for the summer that was to come.

Sunday, May 13, 2012, the Etihad Stadium. The seemingly simple requirement for City to end their 44-year wait for the title was to beat Queens Park Rangers, the team with the worst away record in the League.

Champions: City finally secured the title in the most dramatic fashion possible

Champions: City finally secured the title in the most dramatic fashion possible

That would render a Manchester United win at Sunderland irrelevant, save a mathematical miracle. As we now know, City won 3-2 to finish top on goal difference. Mark Hughes’s QPR, who knew they would avoid relegation unless Bolton beat Stoke, stayed up. But those bare facts do not tell a fraction of the ebb and flow we will now briefly relive.

City had printed T-shirts with ‘Champions’ on but that seemed premature after Djibril Cisse cancelled out Pablo Zabaleta’s opening goal and Jamie Mackie’s magnificent header put QPR 2-1 up. United were winning 1-0. So dire were the portents at this stage for City that the catering trolley — pizza, pastries, and muffins — arrived in the dressing-room minus champagne.

David Platt, City’s assistant manager, who carried little son Charlie on to the pitch pre-match for his I-was-there moment, asked himself: ‘How has this happened’

Fans leave, some in tears. On the bench, City midfielder Gareth Barry spots a helicopter and thinks, wrongly, that the Premier League trophy is being taken to Sunderland. Micah Richards, an unused sub, is in the dressing room on his hands and knees.

But in the 90th minute, Edin Dzeko’s header makes it 2-2. Three minutes and 46 seconds of added time remain. Once-disconsolate fans turn back.

Saviour: Aguero's last-gasp goal was that which won City the Premier League

Saviour: Aguero's last-gasp goal was that which won City the Premier League

The Stoke-Bolton game is over and QPR know they are safe. Their supporters celebrate. And then, Sergio Aguero is played in by Mario Balotelli — a decisive and often overlooked contribution by the petulant one — to score the winner. Ecstasy is limitless. One press officer jumps on to the shoulders of a steward. Or — as it turned out — a doping official.

Jubilant manager Roberto Mancini is greeted by father Aldo, who has travelled from Italy despite heart problems. This afternoon can hardly have helped the old fellow’s ticker.

After a 10-month season the destination of the title was decided in a few fevered seconds. In Sunderland, Sir Alex Ferguson could hear the din generated by his noisy neighbours. On returning home it is understood he told Lady Ferguson he could not now retire for another year.

City, despite the influx of distorting money, had many neutrals with them. Chelsea, on the other hand, test the sympathy of all non-partisans. There was John Terry, found guilty of racism by the FA if cleared in a court of law. This was before his club made their own casual accusations of racism against later exonerated referee Mark Clattenburg.

Put that calumny together with the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo months after winning the Champions League and you could say Stamford Bridge has a knack of making itself look a basket case.

In the dock: John Terry's court case was one of the year's biggest negatives

In the dock: John Terry's court case was one of the year's biggest negatives

Still, credit where due for their vanquishing of Europe. After beating Barcelona — the team of another joy-giver of 2012, Lionel Messi, scorer of 91 goals over the year — they faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Resolute but outplayed, Chelsea equalised with two minutes left through Didier Drogba.

Then Drogba, perhaps the ultimate terrace hero of Chelsea’s Russian roubles era, rolled in the winning penalty, his final act for the club. The Abramovich project had found its Holy Grail. And, yes, an English team had beaten a German team in a penalty shootout. We said this year was something novel.

Via a one-line mention of England’s negligible impact on the European Championship and Spain’s gracing of the tournament with a bedazzling brand of football, we move on to the boys of summer.

Bradley Wiggins was our first individual conqueror of the Olympic preamble. ‘I told my teacher there were two things I wanted to do when I grew up,’ Wiggins recalled. ‘I want to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey and win an Olympic gold medal. She told me I must be mad.’

Against the odds: Chelsea battled to an unlikely Champions League title

Against the odds: Chelsea battled to an unlikely Champions League title

Well, he is a little bit. Which road cyclist isn’t He has suffered despair and hit the bottle but self-sacrifice is a key ingredient of success. That means there are times he drinks water while wife Cath tucks into a club sandwich. His diet is so controlled that a package of food arrives each day. He eats out of the cartons supplied, perhaps a box of rice.

He is a 6ft 3in jockey, down from 82kg (12st 13lb) — his weight when he competed on the track at the Beijing Olympics four years ago — to 72kg (11st 5lb) for this year’s crusade, the third attempt by the British-run Team Sky to win the Tour de France.

Wiggins took the yellow jersey for the first time in his life on stage seven. He was then dominant in the mountains where the defending champion Cadel Evans had been expected to ask the hard questions. Wiggins ended up riding into Paris unassailable, his hands in the air down the Champs-Elysees.

No Briton had won the Tour in its 109-year history. He had done it, as far as every expert and all our instincts knew, clean of drugs. That was even more important after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his saintly reputation by the US Anti-Doping Agency in October. Their boss Travis Tygart is another hero of 2012.

Leading the way: Wiggins became Britain's first Tour de France champion

Leading the way: Wiggins became Britain's first Tour de France champion

Wiggins was still haunted by the crimes of the Nineties and the very Naughties, with malicious gossipers implying he was on the illegal juice. This is what he thought of those accusations: ‘It’s easy for them to sit there on Twitter under a pseudonym and write that sort of s*** rather than get off their own a**** and work hard to achieve something.’

Well said. But he could act as a sportsman as well as a straight-talker, slowing the peloton when tacks thrown on the road caused a puncture to Evans. The French called Wiggins Le Gentleman. Thankfully an eschewer of celebrity, sometimes unnecessarily caustic, he is certainly Monsieur Quirky. We hail him for his foibles and his brilliance. And to think Mark Cavendish, our fabulous sprinter, began 2012 as the pre-eminent name in British road cycling, to the extent that Wiggins was asked earlier in the year: ‘Do you think you’re the forgotten man’

Wiggins won Sports Personality of the Year and, in the view of this observer, rightly. The addition of his Olympic time-trial gold medal made his case irresistible. However, there was also a fine argument advanced on behalf of Andy Murray, who became Britain’s first male Grand Slam winner for 76 years.

Before that, Murray lost the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer before making one of the most lachrymose speeches centre court has witnessed. But back for the Olympics, he avenged that result.

Tears: Murray could not hide his emotion after losing the Wimbledon final

Tears: Murray could not hide his emotion after losing the Wimbledon final

My belief is that tennis — like football with its World Cup — should be axed from the Olympics as it does not represent the zenith of the sport. Yet Murray’s straight-sets gold-medal win over the Swiss master was gripping. It was the most popular BBC iPlayer broadcast of the Games.

With his latest coach, Ivan Lendl, an unsmiling and unforgiving presence, there seemed a hardening of Murray’s spirit where he might previously have made a drama out of a twinge. No less than Novak Djokovic detected a fraction more aggression in his rival’s play.

Finally, at Flushing Meadows, Murray (right) made his talent and flair work for him, beating the approving Djokovic 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 after four hours and 54 minutes of sapping combat to win the US Open.

He had accomplished his lifetime’s ambition during tennis’s golden age. The Federer-Rafael Nadal duopoly was legendary and enduring even before Djokovic intervened by superseding them as No 1. The company Murray keeps is a measure of the player.

In golf, Rory McIlroy was touched by the angels. He was also the scamp chewing on an energy bar on that unforgettable Ryder Cup day. The crowd shouted, ‘How’s the hangover, Rory’ as he arrived on the last morning scarily close to his tee-time, having apparently muddled up the time zones.

Breakthrough: Murray finally won his first Major at the US Open

Breakthrough: Murray finally won his first Major at the US Open

I was a touch suspicious, but journalistic friends there assure me his excuse was genuine. No practice, no matter, he breezed to an outward nine of 32. He and his European team-mates, with Ian Poulter at the heart and soul of the revival, were enacting the Miracle at Medinah.

At the end of Saturday with the home team leading 10-6, one American sports journalist, Gene Wojciechowski, wrote: ‘For those who think this Ryder Cup is finished, think again. Team Europe can still win if the following five things happen Sunday: 1. Keegan Bradley is abducted. 2. Team USA captain Davis Love III inserts Cup spectators Michael Jordan, President George W Bush, Amy Mickelson and the Rev Jesse Jackson into the singles line-up. 3. Lee Westwood: US citizen. 4. Marty McFly shows Team Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal how to go back in time. Last Friday morning will do. 5. Team Europe wins eight of the remaining 12 matches to retain the Cup.’

Oh dear, even if we did share the broad sentiment. Around the country, people stuck with Sky’s gripping coverage as the clock ticked towards midnight. It dawned on us that Europe could accomplish the greatest victory in the 85-year history of the competition.

Cheers filled every sitting room as Martin Kaymer holed from five feet to seal a 14-13 win. Jose Maria Olazabal had gone from much-questioned captain to smiling hero. He had honoured the memory of great friend Severiano Ballesteros.

McIlroy’s personal accomplishments also evoked Ballesteros. His victory at the US PGA made him the youngest multiple major winner since the great Spaniard 32 years earlier. McIlroy’s margin of victory was eight shots, just as at the 2011 US Open.

Shock: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate Europe's Ryder Cup triumph

Shock: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate Europe's Ryder Cup triumph

His triumph came after a mini-slump, which he laudably ascribed to having taken his eye off the ball. Chivalrously, he refused to blame tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki for providing the distraction. He ended the year as world No 1 and golf’s greatest attraction since Tiger Woods drove into a fire hydrant.

The equine star of 2012 was Frankel, who retired from Flat racing with 14 wins from 14 races. Twice he won by 10 lengths or more, including at Royal Ascot this year. He ranks among the greatest horses ever bred. Still, we were nervous at the start of his final race, the Champion Stakes. Rain had threatened to spoil the script. Anxiety was heightened when he made an awful start.

But we are talking about 2012, the year when everything went right. So he and jockey Tom Queally recovered to sign off in style. It was a poignant day because his celebrated Dr Dolittle of a trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, was fighting cancer.

Untouchable: Frankel saw off all competition

Untouchable: Frankel saw off all competition

Sir Henry was in the paddock, his voice a whisper, his manners exemplary, every autograph-hunter obliged. Work done, Frankel went off to Banstead Manor Stud for several hundred assignations. Cecil left with everyone’s wishes for a reprieve. Speaking of the future, it was announced that the other wonder-horse of the era, steeplechaser Kauto Star, is destined for a second career in dressage, which seems a trifle dainty for such a fine beast.

As the nights drew in here, England’s rugby team came up with perhaps the year’s least expected victory. As New Zealand came to Twickenham, one of the All Blacks staff enquired where they should stand when they collected the winners’ Hillary Shield.

But England prevailed, 38-21. It was one of the finest performances at HQ, all the more remarkable for the defeats against Australia and South Africa that preceded it. A watershed or a fabulous one-off We look to the Six Nations and beyond for the answer.

Flying: England surpassed all expectations by beating the All Blacks

Flying: England surpassed all expectations by beating the All Blacks

And then, finally, 2012’s Indian summer. Brought down to earth by South Africa a few months earlier — with Graeme Smith causing a third England captain, Andrew Strauss, to perish during his long and brutal reign — our cricketers were now led by Alastair Cook.

He faced the task of winning on the dusty graveyard of so many tourists. England lost the first Test and won the second magnificently. Cook scored stoic centuries in both. Then in the third Test, in Kolkata, he swept from outside his off-stump for three runs. His century was up — the 23rd of his Test career, more than any other Englishman. It eclipsed a record set by Wally Hammond 73 years earlier.

Cook had beaten the showboating and recently quarrelsome Kevin Pietersen to the mark. Who could begrudge the unshowiest of captains his reward The series — and the team’s peace with Pietersen — followed.

Leading by example: Cook captained England to victory in India

Leading by example: Cook captained England to victory in India

It was a final confirmation that 2012 has been the year British sport delivered even when the result appeared to be getting away.

You could almost put your mortgage on our teams, and how often have we been able to say that Forgive the amateur philosophy but 2012 might just have changed the country’s relationship with sport. At least for now.

SPOTY 2012: Bradley Wiggins is the champion of champions

Jonathan McEvoy: 'Champion of Champions' Wiggins caps a year to cherish as the nation crowns him Sports Personality

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UPDATED:

00:34 GMT, 17 December 2012

The everyman and his nan won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award last night. Bradley Wiggins, the fellow who could not care less about his image, is the champion of champions in the year of sporting years.

Britain’s first Tour de France winner, and gold medallist in the Olympic time-trial, jokingly thanked his grandmother Maureen for pressing the redial button.

He won because he was, even among the dozen greats in the running, the supreme candidate.

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The Nation's Choice: Bradley Wiggins has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2012

The Nation's Choice: Bradley Wiggins has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2012

Great achievement: Wiggins was presented with the award by David Beckham and the Duchess of Cambridge

Great achievement: Wiggins was presented with the award by David Beckham and the Duchess of Cambridge

He attracted 492,064 of almost 1.63million votes — 30.25 per cent. Jessica Ennis, the girl-next-door heptathlete who turned into the lady in red last night, was second, 120,000 votes adrift.

Andy Murray, who ended the nation’s long wait for a male tennis grand slam winner, was third, a further 140,000 or so behind. Mo Farah was fourth another 100,000 back.

Some viewers complained they could not cast their vote in the early surge. Show organisers insisted it was not a substantial number – and, certainly, the outcome was not distorted.

In fact it was so straightforward for Wiggins that the only possible impediment would have been if he said something silly to offend Middle England. Always a possibility for this straight-talker.

But he was well behaved, even if at the start he appeared perhaps a little lubricated by the BBC’s pre-show largesse. Like the others, Wiggins talked of the team behind the athletes.

He called Sue Barker ‘Susan’ for comic effect. He poked fun at Gary Lineker’s thick make-up and later kissed him.

Golden Duo: Sport Personality of the Year Bradley Wiggins with runner-up Jessica Ennis
Golden Duo: Sport Personality of the Year Bradley Wiggins with runner-up Jessica Ennis

THE RESULTS

1. BRADLEY WIGGINS – 492,064 votes – 30.25%

2. JESSICA ENNIS – 372,765 – 22.92%

3. ANDY MURRAY – 230,444 – 14.17%

4. MO FARAH – 131,327 – 8.07%

5. DAVID WEIR – 114,633 – 7.05%

6. ELLIE SIMMONDS – 102,894 – 6.33%

7. SIR CHRIS HOY – 42,961 – 2.64%

8. NICOLA ADAMS – 35,560 – 2.19%

9. BEN AINSLIE – 35,373 – 2.17%

10. RORY MCILROY – 29,729 – 1.83%

11. KATHERINE GRAINGER – 28,606 – 1.76%

12. SARAH STOREY – 10,342 – 0.64%

TOTAL VOTES CAST: 1,626,718

After receiving the accolade from the Duchess of Cambridge, he promised not to swear. His wife, Cath, murmured, ‘Oh God’.

He was fine. The crowd loved him, chanting ‘Wiggo, Wiggo.’ As Lord Coe observed, he has a ‘rock-star quality’.

The fans and stars alike streamed
here, 16,000 souls wanting to drain every last drop of Olympic
champagne. And the BBC even altered their rules to keep the party going
right to the end of their annual knees-up.

‘For the avoidance of doubt,’ the
Beeb’s published criteria for the Team of the Year Award read, ‘it
excludes Team GB/Paralympics GB but includes the likes of British
Cycling, the rowing coxless four and European Ryder Cup.’

But, no, that did not fit the spirit
of the age. It did not reflect the all-embracing hug we have all enjoyed
sharing. So the judges rightly exercised their right to amend the
criteria — and I’m not congratulating them just because my boss was one
of them.

Popular choice: Bradley Wiggins was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year following his Tour de France and Olympic triumphs

Sky procycling team rider Bradley Wiggins of Britain celebrates his overall victory on the podium after the 20th and final stage of the Tour de France

Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain celebrates after the Men's Individual Time Trial Road Cycling

Champion: The award caps a wonderful year for Wiggins, who won the Tour de France (left) and Olympic time trial gold

VIDEO: Bradley Wiggins receives his award

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REACTION TO THE WIGGINS WIN

UK Prime Minister on Twitter: 'PM: “Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins -a truly inspirational winner, after an incredible year for British sport”. #SPOTY'

Rio Ferdinand on Twitter: 'Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins winning #Spoty'

British Cycling president Brian Cookson: 'Bradley's win is a high point of what has been the greatest year in British Cycling's history.

'To win the Tour de France and gold in the Olympic time-trial in the same year is a feat that has anchored our sport in the mainstream of British life.

'The fact that three out of the 12 nominees this year are cyclists [Sir Chris Hoy and Sarah Storey were the others] is recognition of the hard work and dedication of not just our amazing athletes but of everyone who works in cycling.

'Dave Brailsford's win as Coach of the Year and BMX rider Quillan Isidore making it on to the short list for Young Sports Personality shows the success cycling has enjoyed across all disciplines.

'A cyclist has been crowned Sports Personality three times in the last five years, proving that cycling is the sport that has redefined our national sporting identity.'

Runner-up: Jessica Ennis came second after winning the Olympic heptathlon gold

Runner-up: Jessica Ennis came second after winning the Olympic heptathlon gold

Golden Girl: Olympic champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis is interviewed by Sue Barker on stage

Golden Girl: Olympic champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis is interviewed by Sue Barker on stage

Man in Miami: Third-placed Andy Murray was presented with his award by boxer and former SPOTY winner Lennox Lewis in Miami

Man in Miami: Third-placed Andy Murray was presented with his award by boxer and former SPOTY winner Lennox Lewis in Miami

So, that problem cleared, the party
was on. The 800-plus athletes of our British Olympic and Paralympic
teams were thrust into the centre of the occasion, winning the Team
Award. Who could begrudge them after 185 medals

Coe, now undisputedly the dominant
figure in British sport, got the Lifetime Achievement Award for
producing the Games. He also deserves a gold medal for all the ceremony
speeches he has made in the last few weeks.

VIDEO: Lord Coe receives his Lifetime Achievement award

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Lifetime achievement: Lord Coe was honoured for helping deliver the London Olympics and Paralympics

Lifetime achievement: Lord Coe was honoured for helping deliver the London Olympics and Paralympics

But, by the time the main award was
handed out, Wiggins’ boss Dave Brailsford, 48-year-old performance
director of British Cycling, had been named Coach of the Year. He is the
embodiment of the modern Lottery-era coach. Professional, clinical,
organised.

The top-performing sport at Beijing
four years ago, British Cycling won eight gold and 22 medals at this
year’s Olympics and Paralympics. And add in the small matter of
masterminding Team Sky’s Tour de France win.

Cycling has been swept from the margins to become a major British sport. Tell your boy to go into the bike shop business.

Stars: The Duchess of Cambridge and David Beckham presented the Sports Personality and Lifetime Achievement awards

Stars: The Duchess of Cambridge and David Beckham presented the Sports Personality and Lifetime Achievement awards

Who else could win the Overseas Sports
Personality of the Year but Usain Bolt In fact, he seemed bored in his
acceptance speech from Jamaica. So many awards, so many thank yous.

More sombrely, for the Helen Rollason
Award for Outstanding Achievement the Olympic symbolism stretched back
to 2005. The winner was Martine Wright, the Paralympic sitting
volleyball player who lost both legs in the 7/7 bombings. That horror
befell London the day after Coe & Co won the bid in Singapore.

Wright’s inspirational journey lent a
nice symmetry to proceedings. ‘I’d like to thank Liz for saving my life
that day,’ she said of PC Elizabeth Kenworthy. ‘This is also for the 52
who died. Now we have to go on and inspire a nation.’

The only bauble that departed from the
Olympic script was the Unsung Hero Award for Sue and Jim Houghton, the
inspiration behind a community centre in Leicestershire. One sport they
have contributed to: pigeon racing.

The Houghtons were the only unsung
heroes of the night. The hymns of praise to our Olympians rang loud and
clear at the end of a year the memory of which will never leave us.

THE SPORTS PERSONALITY WINNERS IN FULL

Sports Personality of the Year – Bradley Wiggins

Lifetime Achievement Award – Lord Coe

Overseas Sports Personality of the Year – Usain Bolt

Coach of the Year – Dave Brailsford, Performance Director of British Cycling

Team of the Year – Team GB and Paralympic GB

Unsung Hero Award – Sue and Jim Houghton – Spent 25 years transforming a derelict Leicestershire sports ground into a community facility

Helen Rollason Award – Martine Wright – 7/7 survivor who played sitting volleyball for Paralympics GB

Young Sports Personality of the Year – Josef Craig, Britain's youngest goal medallist at the 2012 Paralympics in the S7 400m freestyle swimming


Superman: Mo Farah, the double Olympic champion, is quizzed by Gary Lineker

Superman: Mo Farah, the double Olympic champion, is quizzed by Gary Lineker

Champion: Rower Katherine Grainger talks about her Olympic achievements with Clare Balding

Champion: Rower Katherine Grainger talks about her Olympic achievements with Clare Balding

City slickers: Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero (left) are interviewed by Gary Lineker to celebrate City's first Premier League title triumph

City slickers: Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero (left) are interviewed by Gary Lineker to celebrate City's first Premier League title triumph

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BRADLEY WIGGINS

1980: Born April 28 in Ghent, Belgium before growing up in London. Son of Australian former racing cyclist Gary Wiggins.
1992: Begins track cycling at Herne Hill Velodrome, London.
1997: Wins individual pursuit gold at Junior World Track Championships in Cuba.
2000: March – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
October – Bronze in team pursuit at Olympic Games in Sydney.
2001: September – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.
2002: July – Silver for England in team pursuit and individual pursuit at Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Gold in individual pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
2003: August – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
September – Wins opening stage of Tour de l'Avenir.
2004: August – Olympic gold in individual pursuit at Athens Olympics. Also wins silver in team pursuit alongside Steve Cummings, Paul Manning and Rob Hayles and bronze in Madison alongside Rob Hayles to become first Briton since 1964 to win three medals at one Games.
2005: September – Wins stage eight of Tour de l'Avenir.
2006: July – Makes Tour de France debut, riding for French team Cofidis.
2007: March – Wins gold in the individual pursuit and team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Palma, Majorca.
June – Prologue victory in Dauphine Libere.
July – Finishes fourth in Tour de France prologue in London behind Swiss winner Fabian Cancellara but his team, Cofidis, later withdraw after team-mate Cristian Moreni fails a drugs test.
2008: January – Wiggins' estranged father, Gary Wiggins, is discovered unconscious in New South Wales and later dies.
March – Wins individual pursuit, team pursuit and Madison gold at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
August 16 – Successfully defends Olympic individual pursuit title with gold at the Laoshan Velodrome.
August 18 – Olympic team pursuit gold alongside Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning in a world record of three minutes 53.314 seconds.
August 19 – Favourite for Olympic Madison alongside Mark Cavendish but ninth-placed finish results in Manxman suffering the ignominy of being the only member of GB's track team to leave the Laoshan Velodrome without a medal and has a public falling-out with Wiggins.
October – Releases autobiography titled 'In Pursuit of Glory' detailing his struggle with alcohol after Athens Games.
2009: July – Secures fourth place in Tour de France, matching highest-ever placing by a British rider.
September – Wins British Time-Trial Championship.
October – Wins stage five time-trial and overall title at Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia.
December 10 – Signs four-year deal with Team Sky, the BSkyB-backed road team which is being led by British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford.
2010: February 7 – Makes Team Sky debut at Tour of Qatar, helping squad to victory in the race's opening team time-trial.
March – Finishes third overall in the Tour of Murcia.
May – Wins Giro d'Italia prologue to become second Briton to wear race leader's pink jersey, the maglia rosa. The victory gives Team Sky a Grand Tour stage win at the first attempt.
July – Finishes 24th on Team Sky's Tour de France debut, upgraded to 23rd after Alberto Contador is stripped of the title for a doping offence.
2011: March – Finishes third overall in Paris-Nice stage race.
May – Wins fourth stage of Bayern-Rundfahrt as team-mate Geraint Thomas wins overall.
June – Wins traditional Tour de France warm-up Criterium du Dauphine. Wins British Championships road race.
July 8 – Abandons Tour de France after fracturing collarbone in crash on seventh stage. Wiggins was sixth overall, 10 seconds behind race leader Thor Hushovd, entering the stage.
September – Finishes third overall at the Vuelta a Espana, with Team Sky colleague Chris Froome second. Finishes second in World Championships time-trial before helping Cavendish win the road race.
2012: February: Wins stage five of Volta ao Algarve.
March – Wins Paris-Nice overall, completing victory with win on stage eight.
April – Triumphs in Tour de Romandie, winning stages one and five.
June – Successfully defends his Criterium du Dauphine title and wins stage four time-trial for an unprecedented series of results.
July 7 – Takes the Tour de France yellow jersey after stage seven.
July 9 – Enhances hold on maillot jaune ahead of the first rest day with a first Tour stage win, on the stage nine time-trial to Besancon.
July 21 – Wins the time-trial on the Tour's penultimate day to all but secure victory.
July 22 – Confirmed as Britain's first-ever winner of the Tour de France.
August 1 – Claims gold medal for Team GB at London 2012 in Olympic road time-trial.
November 7 – Taken to hospital after a collision with a car near his home in Lancashire. Wiggins suffered bruising, a fractured rib, a bruised lung and a dislocated finger.
December 16 – Wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, finishing ahead of second-placed

Rafael Nadal admits he may miss Australian Open 2013

Nadal admits he may miss Australian Open as world No 4 refuses to rush injury return

|

UPDATED:

12:19 GMT, 4 December 2012

Rafael Nadal has dismissed his chances of making a winning comeback to grand slam tennis at the Australian Open after targeting a return to full fitness by April.

The world No 4 has not played competitively since his shock second-round loss to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June due to a partial tear of the patella tendon in his left knee, but has recently returned to the practice court.

He intends to compete at the Mubadala Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi later this month and then play at the season's first major in Melbourne in January.

Missing man: Injured Rafael Nadal admits he remains unlikely to play at the Australian Open in January

Missing man: Injured Rafael Nadal admits he remains unlikely to play at the Australian Open in January

The 11-time grand slam winner does not believe he will be a realistic title contender for the first few months of the season, but is hoping to be back to his best for the Monte Carlo Masters which gets under way on April 14.

Nadal told Spanish radio station Onda Cero: 'I want to be 100 per cent in Monte Carlo and then prepare well for Roland Garros.

'I will hopefully be ready for Australia but I am only looking at tomorrow and continuing my recovery.

'I have the goal of returning in Abu Dhabi but neither Abu Dhabi nor Australia are the end of the world for me.

'I will only come back when I am fit. I won't come back worrying about my knee.'

Last time out: Nadal last played at Wimbledon where he suffered a shock exit to Lukas Rosol

Last time out: Nadal last played at Wimbledon where he suffered a shock exit to Lukas Rosol

Alex Kay Talks Tennis

He added: 'Miracles do not exist and I am unlikely to return and compete for the Australian Open.

'The results will not worry me in the first tournaments back.

'My recovery is going well. This past month I have taken an important step. I feel happy and the doctors are too.

'We are in the last stage of the recovery and I want to recover as soon as possible but I will not rush back and then have to stop again in six months or a year's time.'

Andy Murray beats Tomas Berdych at ATP Tour Finals

Murray off to a flyer as US Open champion beats Berdych in ATP Tour Finals opener

|

UPDATED:

17:31 GMT, 5 November 2012

Andy Murray was victorious in his first match on home soil as a grand slam champion as he fought back from a set down to defeat Tomas Berdych at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

With Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also in his round-robin group at London's O2 Arena, defeat in his opening match would have left the US Open champion with an uphill task to qualify for the semi-finals.

And it did not look good for the Murray when he dropped the opening set but the current world number three finally took a break point at the 11th time of asking early in the second and from there he kept Berdych at arm's length to win 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Take that: Andy Murray fires a return back at Tomas Berdych in their opening clash at the ATP Tour Finals

Take that: Andy Murray fires a return back at Tomas Berdych in their opening clash at the ATP Tour Finals

Serving up a treat: Murray and Berdych battled it out over three sets at the O2 in London

Serving up a treat: Murray and Berdych battled it out over three sets at the O2 in London

Czech this out: Berdych sends a serve down to Murray

Czech this out: Berdych sends a serve down to Murray

It was Murray's first match in the UK
since the heady days of summer when he banished his Centre Court demons
by winning Olympic gold.

He followed that, of course, by ending
his long wait for a grand slam title in New York and he was roared onto
court under the lights of the vast arena.

The opening singles clash of the
tournament was a repeat of the US Open semi-final, which Murray won in
extremely windy conditions, but he does not have a particularly good
record against big-hitting Berdych and was looking to square their
head-to-head at 4-4.

The home favourite, for that is
certainly what he is now, began with a statement of intent as he powered
away a backhand winner but the chance to break went begging, and it was
the same story in the fifth game.

Murray was then made to pay when
Berdych took his chance and the Czech saved his sixth and seventh break
points of the set to clinch it when his opponent went long.

Response: Murray fought back on home soil to dismiss Berdych

Response: Murray fought back on home soil to dismiss Berdych

Murray played only one match at the
eight-man end-of-season tournament last year, losing to David Ferrer
before pulling out injured.

This year he sounded determined to put
on a good show for the home fans but Berdych had not read the script
and Murray was under pressure in the third game of the second set, which
would prove to be the turning point.

Three times he saved break point and
in the next game he finally made the breakthrough despite Berdych
clawing his way back from 0-40 for the second time in the match.

It was Murray's 11th break point, and
he made sure he did not waste his hard-won advantage, taking his first
set point when Berdych drilled a backhand wide.

More like it: Although Murray took a while to get going, he eventually got into his stride

More like it: Although Murray took a while to get going, he eventually got into his stride

Home faithful: Murray's mother, Judy, and girlfriend Kim Sears (right) showed their support for Andy in the O2 Arena

Home faithful: Murray's mother, Judy, and girlfriend Kim Sears (right) showed their support for Andy in the O2 Arena

The sizeable crowd had been a little
subdued but they roared when the Scot brought up two more break points
in the third game of the decider, and again when Berdych put a forehand
just wide.

Coach Ivan Lendl was back in Murray's
box for the first time since the US Open and he would have been pleased
with the way his charge had turned things around.

The 25-year-old has developed an
unwelcome habit since the US Open of losing matches in which he has held
match point, doing so in all three tournaments he has played following
his New York triumph.

And he betrayed a few nerves with a
double fault on his first chance here but on the second Berdych netted a
backhand, leaving Murray to roar with delight as the fans acclaimed
their man.

Almost: Murray peers over the net during the match

Almost: Murray peers over the net during the match

Harrington wins first title for two years with victory in Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda

Harrington wins first title for two years with victory in Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda

|

UPDATED:

19:42 GMT, 24 October 2012

Padraig Harrington stormed to a 375,000 victory in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, his first win for two years.

Not in the four-man event – meant to be a battle between the season's major winners – until Ernie Els pulled out injured last Saturday, and only there because Rory McIlroy and first two reserves Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods all turned it down, the 41-year-old Irishman had rounds of 66 and 67 to beat US Open champion Webb Simpson by one and both Masters champion Bubba Watson and last year's winner Keegan Bradley by six.

Winning formula: Padraig Harrington chips onto the sixth green on his way to victory

Winning formula: Padraig Harrington chips onto the sixth green on his way to victory

In the swing: Harrington

In the swing: Harrington

He joins 1991 champion Ian Woosnam as the only European winners of the title, and it was a case of third time lucky after losing play-offs to Angel Cabrera and Jim Furyk in 2007 and 2008.

Two ahead overnight, Harrington went to the turn in 34 with birdies at the fifth and eighth, but with eight holes to play was only one in front of both Simpson and Watson.

Then came a hat-trick of birdies from the 11th, and although Simpson narrowed the gap by picking up shots at the 14th and 17th, the Dubliner was able to bogey the last and still triumph on nine under par.

Harrington's last victory came in Malaysia 24 months ago, but he has not tasted success on the European or PGA Tours since 2008 and is down at 57th in the world.

After three-putting the 18th Harrington, who switched from the BMW Masters in Shanghai when the invitation came, said: 'It was always the right decision no matter what.

'You've got to give yourself the chance – it's a fantastic tournament and even if I finished fourth I'd be quite confident that I made the right decision.

'It is a bonus to come and win, no doubt about it, and it was unfinished business for me having lost in two play-offs.

'I believe I'm playing really good golf. I see a lot of good things happening and I do believe that I'm turning the corner into a peak. What those peaks are, we'll wait and see.'

Simpson said after his bogey-free 65: 'He's playing well and made the putts you've got to make, but I'm really encouraged with how I played.

'My weakness this year has been when I'm in between clubs and I try to smooth one. My body kind of shuts down and doesn't work as well – it's just an eye-opener that I've got a lot of work to do in the off-season.

'I wish I could have putt a little more pressure on Padraig (at the last), but he'd probably have two-putted if he had to.'