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Chelsea on alert as Hulk casts doubt over Zenit future with strop at late substitution

Don't make him angry! One-time Chelsea target Hulk casts doubt over Zenit future with strop at late substitution

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UPDATED:

00:25 GMT, 5 December 2012

They say you shouldn't make Hulk mad for fear he might turn green and rip his clothes off.

But that was the risk Zenit St Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti took during his side's Champions League win over AC Milan. And it could spell the end of a desperately disappointing stint in Russia for the Brazilian.

The powerful striker was substituted with 10 minutes left at the San Siro but greeted his boss' decision with a monstrous strop which left Spalletti fuming.

Scroll down for video of the exchange between Hulk and Spalletti

Temper temper: Hulk refused his manager's handshake and then gestured angrily towards him after being substituted late on in Zenit's win at AC Milan

Temper temper: Hulk refused his manager's handshake and then gestured angrily towards him after being substituted late on in Zenit's win at AC Milan

Temper temper: Hulk refused his manager's handshake and then gestured angrily towards him after being substituted late on in Zenit's win at AC Milan

After first ignoring his manager's offer a handshake, Hulk then made a crossing action with his arm repeatedly, suggesting that he would not tolerate any more at the club.

Spalletti responded with a cutting stare, shake of the head and finger waving while the player continued his protests.

And afterwards, the player said: 'If situation with Spalletti is not solved, in January I will leave .'

Hulk has endured a torrid time at Zenit since his 39.5million switch from Porto in September.

His arrival sparked an angry reaction from the first team squad, angry at the wages being lavished upon the 26-year-old. So unpopular was the move that captain Igor Denisov went public and earned a demotion to the youth team.

The episode in Italy could reignite Chelsea's interest the player, who was tracked closely by the Premier League giants before he opted for Russia.

Hulk, who also interested Tottenham during the summer, moved to Porto from Japanese side Tokyo Verdy in 2008, grabbing 54 goals in 103 league matches. He has 13 Brazil caps.

Tough times: Hulk is having a torrid spell in Russia since his 39m switch

Tough times: Hulk is having a torrid spell in Russia since his 39m switch

Zenit's 1-0 win secured a place in the Europa League.

Manager Spalletti said: 'The lads played well and deserved to win even though it was a bit of a nervous game. I'm happy to have qualified and happy with tonight's game as in the past two years we haven't won away from home, even when we've played well.

'I'd like to say a huge thank you to our fans tonight, as even I was stunned at the number who were here. Their number and enthusiasm tonight gives us extra responsibility.

'We have to work hard for them as they deserve it. Maybe a draw would have been a fairer result as we had to defend a lot, but we have to be happy, we're through. We'll try to do better.'

Andy Murray looks to regain lethal touch

Murray looking to shake bad habits and regain killer touch at ATP World Tour Finals

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UPDATED:

15:52 GMT, 4 November 2012

Andy Murray will focus all his energies on winning the final point in his matches at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London this week after developing an unwelcome habit since becoming a grand slam champion in New York two months ago.

The Scot has played in three tournaments since winning the US Open, in Tokyo, Shanghai and Paris, and in all of them he has held match points in clashes he went on to lose.

In Tokyo it was a semi-final meeting with Canada's Milos Raonic, then a classic final in Shanghai against Novak Djokovic where he had five chances to win, before last week he lost to Poland's Jerzy Janowicz at the Paris Masters.

Killer touch: Andy Murray (left) is focusing his energy on closing games after squandering match points in all three tournaments since his US Open win

Killer touch: Andy Murray (left) is focusing his energy on closing games after squandering match points in all three tournaments since his US Open win

In it to win it: Murray (left) wants to repeat his Olympic glory in London by winning the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena

In it to win it: Murray (left) wants to repeat his Olympic glory in London by winning the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena

This run has also come after Murray talked about how confident he normally feels in finishing off matches.

The 25-year-old said: 'I did say in Shanghai when you speak about things like that it's bound to go against you. I'm aware how hard it is to finish matches off. It's not an easy thing to do.

'In Shanghai I didn't just play against Novak, I played three matches previously. I've played hundreds and hundreds of matches on tour and sometimes it's going to go your way, sometimes it's not.

'I don't feel in the match with Novak I did too much wrong. I was disappointed with last week, I didn't feel like I focused as hard as I needed to when I was serving for the match.

'That's something this week I'll make sure I play one point at a time, take my time and fight for every single point. I need to try to do a better job of that.'

Murray may not have made much impact in Paris with his tennis but the 25-year-old did cause a bit of a stir with his comments about cycling and drug-testing in sport.

They were taken as a slur on cycling in some quarters and Murray took to Twitter to explain himself in the face of criticism from a few cycling fans.

The line up: The players were in London on Saturday at the official launch of the tournament

The line up: The players were in London on Saturday at the official launch of the tournament

See you there: Murray is in the same group as Novak Djokovic (centre right)

See you there: Murray is in the same group as Novak Djokovic (centre right)

The Scot has plenty of experience of remarks being interpreted in a different way to what he intended, notably with a joke he made about the England football team in 2006.

Murray said: 'What happened in cycling is pretty shocking and you just want to make sure you can completely rule anything like that out in your own sport, because I love tennis, so you'd hate for anything like that to happen.

'A lot of things you can say may come across the wrong way. It's not always easy when you're in a room filled with people and you get asked a question you have to answer straight away.

'One or two words can make something you meant in the right way come across badly. I try my best to not make any silly comments or say anything jokingly that may be taken out of context.

Eyes on the prize: Murray was warming up for the tournament over the weekend

Eyes on the prize: Murray was warming up for the tournament over the weekend

Eyes on the prize: Murray was warming up for the tournament over the weekend

Down to you: Andy Murray (left) and coach Ivan Lendl (right) are hoping to add another tournament win in Murray's best year yet

Down to you: Andy Murray (left) and coach Ivan Lendl (right) are hoping to add another tournament win in Murray's best year yet

'It's unfortunate it comes across that way sometimes. I'll just try better to not make any more mistakes like that.'

Murray opens proceedings in the singles competition at the World Tour Finals on Monday afternoon against Czech Tomas Berdych, with Djokovic taking on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the other Group A clash in the evening.

The tournament is being held at the O2 Arena for the fourth year after London signed a five-year contract to take over from Shanghai in 2009.

It has been a huge success, with organisers expecting even bigger attendances this year, and a deal to extend the contract is thought to be not far away from being signed.

Murray said: 'If it does stay here then that's obviously good. I think they do a great job here, they put on an excellent show and everyone seems to enjoy it.

'From a players' point of view, because we've finished the year in Europe, it's nice to have a tournament of this size being convenient, you wouldn't want it being a hassle for guys to go to. London has been a great spot.'

Takayuki Morimoto wanted by Fulham

Fulham target January swoop for Catania and Japan striker Morimoto

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UPDATED:

08:58 GMT, 30 October 2012

Loan target: Morimoto

Loan target: Morimoto

Fulham are lining up a January loan move for Catania's Japanese international striker Takayuki Morimoto.

Hamburg have shown an interest in the 24-year-old but according to talkSPORT Martin Jol is ready to rival his former club's bid as he looks to bolster his attacking options.

Jol brought in Dimitar Berbatov, Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega over the summer but he would like to add one more striker to his squad during the transfer window.

Morimoto joined Serie A side Catania in 2006 but has fallen out of favour this season.

Catania are willing to consider a loan move for the former Tokyo Verdy man and a temporary deal would also suit Fulham.

Liverpool offer trial to Korea defender Jang Hyun-Soo

Liverpool offer trial to Korea defender Hyun-Soo with view to 1m move

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UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 24 October 2012

Liverpool are to offer a trial to FC Tokyo’s Jang Hyun-Soo.

The 21-year-old South Korea defender is due at Liverpool in December.

Hyun-Soo has only made six appearances for his club and would cost Liverpool 1million.

Wanted: Jang Hyun Soo has been invited to train with Liverpool

Wanted: Jang Hyun Soo has been invited to train with Liverpool

Andy Murray prepares for first appearance since historic US Open win at Japan Open

Murray prepares for first appearance since historic US Open win at Japan Open

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UPDATED:

14:21 GMT, 30 September 2012

Andy Murray is preparing to take to the court in his first match since lifting the US Open, as he looks to defend the Japan Open this week.

Murray ended Britain’s 76-year wait for a men’s grand slam champion when he conquered Novak Djokovic in a thrilling five-set match at Flushing Meadows in September.

Murray, who has already been practising in Tokyo, is preparing to defend his Japan Open crown, starting with Frenchman Gael Monfils in his first match since the historic day New York.

Here he comes: Andy Murray is hoping to defend the Japan Open after arriving in Tokyo for practice

Here he comes: Andy Murray is hoping to defend the Japan Open after arriving in Tokyo for practice

‘It will be a tough first match against Monfils,’ Murray said. ‘I've played him I think five times and lost to him a couple of times. He's a great athlete.’

Not only did Murray take the US Open from Djokovic, he also reached his first Wimbledon final and won two Olympic medals – a gold in the men’s singles and a silver in the mixed-doubles with Laura Robson.

Murray is still hungry for success in Japan, despite his most successful season since joining the men’s tour.

‘Obviously I have good memories (of Tokyo) from last year,’ said the world No 3, who beat Rafa Nadal in a memorable final, losing just four points in a 6-0 third set.

‘It's nice to come back. I'd also like to play well at the Tour Finals in London. I didn't have the chance to do that last year (because of a groin strain).

‘It was a very disappointing way to end the year. I want to make sure I'm 100 per cent fit for that tournament and finish the year well there’

In good shape: Murray looks fit for purpose ahead of his match against Gael Monfils

In good shape: Murray looks fit for purpose ahead of his match against Gael Monfils

In good shape: Murray looks fit for purpose ahead of his match against Gael Monfils

Murray, whose hired former world No 1 Ivan Lendl as coach earlier this year, said he felt stronger mentally, physically and technically than ever.

‘I've probably improved mentally a little bit,” the Scot said with some understatement after finally breaking his grand slam duck.

‘It's very important at my age to make sure you keep trying to learn and get better.

‘I've improved my game. That's the thing I've been the most pleased with this year. With the way men's tennis is now – there is a lot of depth.

‘The top of the men's game is very, very strong so if you want to improve your ranking and win more tournaments you need to keep finding things to improve your game.’

Strike a pose: Murray had time for photographs with South Korean pop group A-peace in Tokyo

Strike a pose: Murray had time for photographs with South Korean pop group A-peace in Tokyo

Murray has done just that under Lendl, avenging his Wimbledon loss to Roger Federer at the London Olympics before beating Djokovic in a pulsating US Open final.

A well-rested Murray arrived early for his Tokyo title defence, flying in from Bangkok on Thursday.

‘I've had a few more days to enjoy the city a bit,’ he said. ‘It's been fun. I've had four or five days complete rest. During the season there's not many times you can do that.’

Murray is also looking forward to playing doubles at the Japan Open after winning that title too with brother Jamie last year.

‘A lot of players at this stage of the year are a bit mentally and physically tired,’ he said. ‘You need to find the best way of managing for the last couple of months of the year.’

No rest: Murray hopes to defend his Japan Open title

No rest: Murray hopes to defend his Japan Open title

Heather Watson loses to Maria Sharapova at Pan Pacific Open

Plucky Watson loses in three sets to Sharapova at Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo

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UPDATED:

09:01 GMT, 25 September 2012

Britain's Heather Watson pushed Maria Sharapova all the way but was beaten in three sets after taking an early lead at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

The British No 1 was on course to cause a huge upset after winning the first set 7-6 in the second round clash against the world No 2, but was eventually beaten 7-6, 3-6, 4-6.

More to follow…

Out: Watson took the first set, but lost in three to world No 2 Sharapova

Out: Watson took the first set, but lost in three to world No 2 Sharapova

Powering back: Sharapova fought her way from a set down to beat Watson

Powering back: Sharapova fought her way from a set down to beat Watson

Powering back: Sharapova fought her way from a set down to beat Watson

Brit of all right: Waton - ranked 78 in the world - put up a brave challenge against the women's No 2

Brit of all right: Waton – ranked 78 in the world – put up a brave challenge against the women's No 2

England Sevens finish fourth in Tokyo after defeat to New Zealand

England Sevens finish fourth in Tokyo after defeat to New Zealand

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UPDATED:

10:37 GMT, 1 April 2012

England settled for fourth place in the Tokyo Sevens after a play-off defeat to New Zealand.

Having opened the day with a 21-17 win over South Africa, Ben Ryan's men were beaten 33-12 by eventual winners Australia at the semi-final stage.

They opened up a 17-0 lead on the All Blacks in their play-off clash, but were eventually toppled 24-17.

Early lead: Dan Norton breaks clear as England raced into a 17-0 lead against New Zealand

Early lead: Dan Norton breaks clear as England raced into a 17-0 lead against New Zealand

The result leaves England fourth in the overall standings, with New Zealand leading, Fiji second and South Africa third.

'There are tons of positives in as much as we played the top three teams in the world, beat two of them and were 17-0 up against the number one team and should have shut them down,' said Ryan

Fightback: Joe Webber carves up the England defence as New Zealand fought back to win 24-17

Fightback: Joe Webber carves up the England defence as New Zealand fought back to win 24-17

'We started really poorly against Australia and paid the price for three minutes when we didn't touch the ball.'