IN a thrilling third-round contest, Marcos Baghdatis was edged out of the Sony Open by World No. 11 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.The Frenchman claimed the 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 victory in two hours and 30 minutes in scorching temperatures in Miami.Cyprus star Baghdatis won 76 per cent of his service points and broke Tsonga once as he clinched the first set. The world No. 143 looked poised to close out a memorable victory as he surged to a 5-1 lead in the second set tie-break, but impressive play from Tsonga saw the Frenchman mount a comeback, reeling off the next six points to level the match.Baghdatis was thwarted on five break point chances in the decider, with Tsonga finding his first serve when he most needed it, before breaking the Limassol native in the 11th game and serving out the victory. He goes forward to a meeting with Britain’s Andy Murray.Defending champion Murray and 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer sizzled under a Miami sun, speeding into the fourth round with convincing straight sets wins.Federer, twice a winner on the Miami hardcourts, needed just 62 minutes on a sweltering centre court to dispose of Dutch qualifier Thiemo De Bakker 6-3 6-3 while Murray appeared to be adjusting just fine to life without coach Ivan Lendl, easing past Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-1.After getting the defence of his title off to a shaky start with a three-sets win over Matthew Ebden on Friday, Wimbledon champion Murray was more in command against Lopez improving his record to 9-0 against the Spaniard in just 73 minutes.“It’s not always that easy to feel comfortable against him because there is not loads of rhythm with the way he plays,” said the sixth seeded Scotsman. “But I moved well; returned well.“It was obviously a more comfortable score line than the other day.”Murray has been in the Miami spotlight for more than his play this week after announcing he had ended his successful partnership with Lendl, who helped steer him to a pair of grand slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.Lendl, who maintains a Florida residence, was in the stands catching some of the Sunday match, leading Murray to joke that the two men were renewing their partnership.Seven of Murray’s previous eight matches had gone three sets but the Briton, who has a Miami residence, made sure he would spend as little time as possible under a punishing sun, breaking Lopez three times in the second set, sweeping the last four games.“It was really hot. I don’t know how hot it was but when we came over at like 9:30 it was already 80 Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) and it was extremely humid,” said Murray. “I have played a few matches here where it’s been very, very hot but it doesn’t always stay like this for a few days in a row in March.“It’s not easy conditions.”A resurgent Federer has shown that he is coming to grips with a new larger racquet, a change that the Swiss had resisted.But Federer has seen improved results with the racquet, collecting his 78th career title in Dubai in February and reaching the final in Indian Wells to move back into the top five of the world rankings.“I think it (the racquet) just gives me easier power, especially on the first serve,” said Federer. “And I think as time now goes by, I’m getting a better feel for how is the ball going to react, you know, how much spin do I need to put on to stay really accurate and put it really close to the line.“But then again this wasn’t Andre Agassi on the other side, or Djokovic. It’s just important for me to keep that up and remind myself it’s going well so far.”
By Steve TongueScottish champions Celtic have appointed Norwegian Ronny Deila as their new manager, the club said on their website (www.celticfc.nt) on Friday.Deila, 38, has been with the Norwegian club Stromsgodset since 2008. Under him they won the Cup in 2008 and the League title last season for the first time in 42 years.He succeeded Neil Lennon, who resigned at the end of the season after four years in which he won the Scottish Premier League in the last three of them.“It is a magnificent honour to be named the new manager of Celtic, one of the world’s great football clubs and a club I have such enormous respect for,” Deila said.“I know what I want for Celtic and our supporters and that is the best of everything. I want to deliver the best attacking, exciting and entertaining football we can play.”Celtic’s chief executive Peter Lawwell said: “We believe Ronny will prove to be a fresh and dynamic new manager and someone who will give us a bright and energetic way forward for Celtic.“Knowing that he was so highly-rated across Europe, Ronny was one of the first candidates we considered as manager.”
By Igor NitsakBayern Munich were held to a goalless draw by Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions league last-16 first leg in Lviv on Tuesday with the German side reduced to 10 men following the second-half sending off of Xabi Alonso.Alonso, who was making his 100th Champions League appearance, was dismissed with 25 minutes remaining following a second booking from Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco.Bayern, who trounced Hamburg 8-0 in the Bundesliga on Saturday, were stifled by a Shakhtar side, playing their first competitive game in two months.Shakhtar’s solid rearguard display maintained their chances of reaching the Champions league quarter-finals for the second time while Guardiola’s Bayern will need to adopt a less cautious approach in the return leg in Munich on March 11.
Order of play on the main show courts at the Wimbledon Championships on Monday, June 29:Centre Court1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany)4-Maria Sharapova (Russia) v Johanna Konta (Britain)4-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) v Joao Sousa (Portugal)Court One1-Serena Williams (U.S.) v Margarita Gasparyan (Russia)Simone Bolelli (ITA) v 5-Kei Nishikori (Japan)11-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) v Federico Delbonis (Argentina) Court Two 26Nick Kyrgios (Australia) v Diego Schwartzman (Argentina)Jarkko Nieminen (Finland) v Lleyton Hewitt (Australia)Alison Riske (U.S.) v 6-Lucie Safarova (Czech Rep)Heather Watson (Briton) v 32-Caroline Garcia (France) Court Three9-Marin Cilic (Croatia) v Hiroki Moriya (Japan)Yi-Fan Xu (China) v 7-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)Daniel Gimeno-Traver (Spain) v 7-Milos Raonic (Canada)Madison Brengle (U.S.) v 16-Venus Williams (U.S.) Court 1711-Karolina Pliskova (CZE) v Irina Falconi (USA)19-Sara Errani (ITA)v Francesca Schiavone (ITA)Joao Souza (BRA) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)Donald Young (USA) v Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
FIFA handed Greece’s government a 10-day deadline on Tuesday to reverse its decision to cancel the Greek Cup or face an international suspension from football’s world governing body.FIFA sent a two-page letter to Deputy Minister for Sport Stavros Kontonis and the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) demanding that Kontonis change his ruling.The global body also ordered further talks to make changes to sports legislation planned for May which contradicts FIFA’s statutes on self-governance of member associations.“The FIFA Emergency Committee decided to set a deadline of 15 April 2016 for the decision to (cancel) the 2015/2016 Greek Cup to be reversed, failing which the EPO would face an automatic suspension of its membership,” said the letter published on the EPO website.The ultimatum follows a breakdown in talks held between Kontonis, the EPO and a FIFA delegation in Athens on March 30 to try and resolve the issue.Kontonis controversially cancelled the cup after the first leg of the semi-final between PAOK Salonika and Olympiakos Piraeus on March 2 was abandoned due to a violent pitch invasion, with fans hurling flares and missiles before being dispersed by riot police.Kontonis declared his decision was a “legal move” and has insisted that no pronouncement will be made until the EPO’s appeal against the move is heard by the Supreme Court on April 19.FIFA said that any decision by Greece’s Supreme Court will not be taken into account, saying it is “irrelevant as it could be withdrawn, and because regardless of the eventual decision, the issues linked to the implementation and the potential interference of the law would remain.”If Greece are suspended by FIFA, their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup could be in jeopardy as they could be barred from taking part in the qualifiers which kick off in September.The 2004 European champions failed to qualify for this year’s continental competition in France. Click here for clashes during PAOK Salonika and Olympiakos Piraeus Cup game
Manchester United gate-crashed West Ham United’s FA Cup farewell party at Upton Park with an invigorating 2-1 victory on Wednesday to book a semi-final berth against Everton.A sensational goal from teenager Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini’s close-range effort, both in the second half, settled the quarter-final replay after the sides drew the first game 1-1 at Old Trafford.The scene was set for a momentous 155th and final FA Cup tie at the Boleyn Stadium which West Ham will soon swap for the Olympic Stadium but after a promising start it was the visitors who rose to the occasion.Rashford deservedly put United in front after 54 minutes with a pinpoint curler from the edge of the area and Fellaini bundled in Anthony Martial’s cross 13 minutes later.James Tomkins’s header set up a tumultuous climax in which Andy Carroll headed narrowly over and David de Gea made a sensational save from Emmanuel Emenike as United hung on to keep alive their hopes of ending a disappointing season with a trophy.
After sealing their place in the Champions League semi-finals, Real Madrid can take a huge step towards claiming a first La Liga title in five years when they host great rivals Barcelona in El Clasico on Sunday (9.45pm).An injury-time Sergio Ramos equaliser ensured Madrid maintained a six-point cushion over Luis Enrique’s side when the sides met earlier this season, and with Los Blancos currently three points ahead with a game in hand, victory would leave Barca trailing by the same margin with only five to play.Real are unbeaten since February, winning 10 of their last 12 games. In contrast, Barcelona have won just two of their previous five in all competitions and were dumped out of Europe in midweek.The Catalans’ task is made all the more difficult given forward Neymar’s suspension. But Barca coach Enrique insisted after their 3-0 aggregate defeat by Juventus that his side would be ready to bounce straight back up.“It will be difficult to lift my players up after this, but it will be easy to motivate them. We have the best stimulus that any Barcelona fan could ask for which is that we play against our eternal rival. There’s no better place to go than the Bernabeu.“We have the chance to get back in the fight for La Liga in a six-pointer against the side top of the league. I love being involved at a club as ambitious as this.”Madrid will be looking to a rejuvenated Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored five in his last two appearances and netted his 100th Champions League goal with a hat-trick against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.The Portuguese scored the goal that essentially sealed Madrid’s last La Liga crown in 2012’s 2-1 victory over the Catalans and will be looking to repeat the feat for Zinedine Zidane’s men this weekend.“I don’t know if there’s a category for him. What you see Cristiano doing is really impressive. The goals, the way he finishes them, in such key, important moments,” said Zidane of the No.7.“He always knows when there’s an important occasion, he’s going to be there. It is out of any sort of category. There are few players who can to do what Ronaldo has done and we all know that.”Madrid will be without defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane for the game, while Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale all have question marks over their fitness heading into the clash.
The Games feature 25 Olympic-style sports and show the unlimited potential of people with intellectual disabilities with more than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries competing.This is the first time PNG is competing at the Games. The event is running from 25 July to 2 August with seven athletes taking part in track and field events.They’re Rosa Nege, Grace Dindillo, Winnifred Kehono, Adrian Lomon, Mirisa Mana, Thompson Ninkama and Judy Moi.Ninkama did great to win the 1500m event. In the heats, he set a new personal best time of 4:44:68 sec.He also ran a new personal best in the 3, 000m, clocking 10.38.36 sec and beating his previous best of 12.15.01 sec and qualifies for finals on Wednesday.Rosa Nege won her shotput event after qualifying with a throw of 4.90m in the women’s 3 kg shot put.Grace Dindillo also did well, finishing second in her shotput event after qualifying with a throw of 4.30m.Marisa Mana is through to the finals after he hurled the shot 6.60m in the preliminary round of the men’s 4kg shot put.This is his new personal best, beating his previous top effort of 5.89m. Photo: Thompson Ninkama competing in 1500m | Picture courtesy of Special Olympics PNG Facebook page
At 9am it will be the U12 boys game between Waigani primary and the Lapwing Kokofas. The U13 boys final will be played at the same time between the same two teams.Following this at 10am is the U16 girls division grand final that sees St Peters take on Ted Diro.The U15 boys go in next at 11am where Gerehu and Waigani primary lock horns. Idubada Tigers clash with Gerehu at 12pm.The main game of the day is the showdown of the U17 boys grand final between Jubilee and Kilakila secondary.AFL development manager for Youth Football, Cornelius Papau said the competition this season had gone well.“ It is a great privilege to have the U17 Secondary boys competition back on track in 2015 after some years and we expect to build on it in 2016 and will include more girls teams as we strive to build our great game among our youths and communities,” said Papua.
Minister Tkatchenko issued a directive on Tuesday for the Foundation to assert TPNGs request and assist within budget.Funding to the value of K75,000 was then committed and approved for disbursement.”Our prior commitments to other sporting developments within country have not allowed us to readily entertain various requests from sporting bodies. The Sports Foundation has been able to do so however, through savings from their programs, and I thank CEO Tsiamalili for his course of action,” Minister Tkatchenko said.The total value of funding support committed to the tournament includes K55,000 for accommodation and meals for visiting officials, K10,000 for medical, and K10,000 for transportation.”We have only been able to assist within the foundations current capacity. Our concern was our visitors, so we are happy that we have been able to make their visit and stay over the duration of the tournament a comfortable one,” CEO Tsiamalili said.”We are also pleased that we were able to assist in certain logistical areas of this tournament, and ensuring all goes ahead.”