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Saturday, May 14, 2011

WWE Over the Limit 2011: John Cena vs. Miz, and the Top Five Feuds on RAW

WWE Over the Limit is steadily approaching, as is the case with every WWE pay-per-view these days.   Judging by the way things are shaping up just one week out from the pay-per-view, it appears as if WWE will a couple of WrestleMania-inspired feuds, while moving towards newer rivalries as the card trickles down.
Some rivalries have overstayed their welcome, while others seem to have fans more captivated in their embryonic phases.
WWE is once again looking to churn out some fresh faces in the main event as they push stars to heights they have not yet reached, and an effectively executed feud will be the key to their success.

Muslim Sports: Hijab lets Islamic women deal some jabs

Elham Seyed Javad, center, poses with a taekwondo team on April 22 in Montreal wearing the sport hijab she created.

Photo: AFP

Letting out shrill cries, several young women in a Montreal taekwondo class kicked their way through the exercises, not a hair out of place as they were demurely covered by an Islamic sports hijab.
Their religion prohibits these female athletes from showing off their firm physiques, or their hair. Yet Western society also frowns on the wearing of traditional Muslim headscarves in sports competitions.
So Iranian-born Canadian designer Elham Seyed Javad came up with an idea to marry the two worlds and allow young girls and women to take part in physical activities, while also adhering to Islamic rules.
And the order books for the 27-year-old’s start-up are fast filling up with calls for her head coverings arriving from around the world including Japan, Germany and Australia.
The company, iQO Design, is now eyeing a lucrative contract to supply the Iranian women’s soccer team, with the aim that they will be worn during the London Olympics next year.
The idea came to the young designer in 2007 after five young Muslim women were thrown out of a Montreal taekwondo tournament because their headscarves were deemed by the sports federation to be dangerous.
Seyed Javad, who was studying industrial design at the University of Montreal at the time, was outraged, but instead of protesting decided to find a solution.
At school, she designed a slip-on hooded T-shirt made of stretch fabric. The university immediately seized on its potential: Its agency for commercializing its scientific discoveries and inventions filed patents for the sports hijab on her behalf in Canada and the US.
Made of a fabric that moves perspiration away from the body, the garment slips on like a -balaclava and is tied at the back.
“It’s much less hot and it stays in place,” trainer Gaelle Texier said.
And, she adds, it doesn’t mess up your hair.
“It’s a compromise,” taekwondo student Asmaa Ibnouzahir said. “It allows us to play the sports we enjoy, that we were doing, but were forced to quit.”
The university’s commercial unit, Univalor, said it has even greater potential.
“Of course we looked to market it to young Muslim women in sports, but also for F1 racing, go-carting and hospital operating rooms,” Univalor’s Thomas Martinuzzo said.
It is not just for athletes, he said. An Australian policewoman, for example, recently started wearing one as part of a trial.
“My goal is to separate the religious connotation from the sports connotation,” Seyed Javad said. “So when other organizations approach us, it’s very positive because the religious aspect is not linked to the garment.”
The so-called ResportOn is currently sold for US$63 over the Internet.
Each prototype is designed and sewn in a Montreal studio, adapted to suit the particular circumstances of each customer. However, Javad is already dreaming big and hopes one day to sell the garment in sports stores everywhere.
Since the ResportOn first went on sale in November interest has skyrocketed, attracting attention from 170 cities around the world.
The start-up behind it has also partnered with an investor and recruited a sales representative in Iran.
The company is now pitching its wares to hospitals and racing drivers, as well as people with dreadlocks who want to keep their prized hairdos in place even when out on the sports field.

BASEBALL: Foresters keep their hopes alive with win over Union

Huntington, Ind. - They say three’s a charm and the Forester baseball team (23-24) proved that true with a 2-1 win over third-seed Union University (TN) in the first elimination game of the 2011 NAIA National Championship Opening Round Friday afternoon. HU dropped a pair of games, 3-1 and 1-0, to the Bulldogs back in February.

With both team combining for only 12 hits, it was a pitcher’s dual in which HU’s ace in the hole Mitch Bowers won the battle. In 7.2 innings of work, he allowed one run on seven hits and no walks while striking out three to log his ninth win of the season. Brian Kirschbaum pitched 1.1 innings of hitless relief to pick up the save.

Offensively, the Foresters wasted no time finding home plate. After Adam Christner got hit by a pitch and stole his way to third, Eric Schultz doubled him in to give HU an early 1-0 lead after their first at-bats.

The next four innings were relatively quiet as neither team was able to generate much offense but Huntington finally changed all that in the sixth. After reaching first on a fielder’s choice, Schultz scampered all the way to third on a passed ball and then cruised home on a wild pitch to score what would prove to be the game-winning run.

The Bulldogs didn’t going down without a fight. With two outs in the eighth, they scored their first run of the game and had the tying run in scoring position but would get no closer as Kirschbaum maneuvered his way out the inning and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to oust the Bulldogs from the tourney.

Schultz proved to be the offensive catalyst for the Foresters, scoring a run and knocking in another. Ayers finished with a pair of hits.
The Huntington University Foresters compete in 14 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 53 NAIA All-America honors and 173 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.

Cardinals Lose Game One of Doubleheader at No. 15 UConn

STORRS, Conn. - The Louisville baseball team was unable to hold off a late Connecticut rally and the Cardinals lost a 7-5 decision to the 15th-ranked Huskies in game one of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader at J.O. Christian Field.
With the loss, the Cardinals dropped to 25-26 overall and 11-12 in the BIG EAST, while the Huskies improved to 36-13-1 on the season and 20-3 in league games. The win clinched the BIG EAST regular-season title for the Huskies and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming BIG EAST Championship in Clearwater, Fla.
Leading the way for the Cardinals in the loss was junior infielder Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS), who finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while sophomore infielder Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS) hit his first home run of the season. On the mound, junior righty Justin Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier HS) suffered his second straight loss and dropped to 8-2 on the season after allowing career highs in runs (seven), earned runs (six) and hits (11) with six strikeouts in 6.1 innings.
For the Huskies, outfielder Billy Ferriter was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored, while outfielder George Springer had two RBI on his team-leading 11th home run of the season. On the mound, lefty starter Greg Nappo earned the win and improved to 8-2 on the season after allowing five runs, including just two earned, on six hits in 7.0 innings pitched.
Following three scoreless innings to start the game, Louisville took advantage of two costly UConn errors to score three runs on three hits for a 3-0 lead. The inning started with freshman designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) reaching base on an error by second baseman L.J. Mazzilli. After moving to second on a single through left side by Wright, Gardner moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) and then scored on a throwing error by Nappo.



Following a single to left field by freshman outfielder Ryan Seiz (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock HS) loaded the bases, Stallings followed with an RBI sacrifice flyout to left field to score Wright for a 2-0 advantage. After moving from second to third on the throw home on the sac fly, Ijames scored moments later on a wild pitch by Nappo for the 3-0 lead. The Huskies came back for two runs in the bottom of the fourth as Springer hammered his home run to left field to score outfielder John Andreoli to cut the Cards' lead to 3-2. The home run was the 45th of Springer's career, which set a new school record for the Huskies.
UConn added an unearned run in the fifth to even the score at 3-3. After reaching base with a one-out walk, shortstop Tom Verdi moved to third on a throwing error by Amlung on a failed pickoff and then scored on an RBI single through the right side by Ferriter.
The Cardinals moved back in front in the top of the sixth as Wright reached base with a leadoff single, moved to second with team-leading 15th stolen base, advanced to third on a groundout by Ijames and then scored on an RBI single to left by senior catcher J.J. Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS). However, the Huskies answered in the bottom of the sixth as third baseman Ryan Fuller hit his fourth home run of the season on a two-out pitch from Amlung.
Louisville responded in the top of the seventh as Stallings hammered a 2-1 pitch from Nappo over the left field wall for his first home run of the season and a 5-4 advantage.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, UConn bounced back in the bottom of the inning with three runs to take a 7-5 lead. The scoring started with an RBI single by Ferriter to score designated hitter Tim Martin to even the score. Later in the inning, Ferriter scored from the third on an RBI bunt single by Andreoli to give UConn its first lead of the day, while Mazzilli scored the final run of the frame later in the inning on a wild pitch by Cards' reliever

USA TODAY: Top basketball talent in Bloomington

The annual Adidas May Classic AAU tournament is under way and plenty of the best basketball stars of the future are in town showcasing their skills.  Action got under way Friday night with games at Assembly Hall on the Indiana University campus and at the Bloomington Sports Plex.
Games continue throughout the weekend as teams play round robin and tournament formats to crown champions at each level.  Local fans should be interested as several IU targets are in town.  The now-famed Indiana Eltie team comprised of Hoosier commits Ron Patterson, Yogi Farrell, Hanner Parea, and Jeremy Hollowell will be in action at Assembly Hall.  Class of 2013 IU commits Devin Davis and Collin Hartman play with the 16U Eric Gordon All-Stars.  Even the class of 2014 is represented with Trey Lyles and James Blackmon playing as part of the Spiece Indiana Heat squad.
But it's not just IU commits headling the event.  Several other Indiana targets who have also garnered national interest are in town for this event.

Maybe the best player the whole weekend is former Chesterton, IN forward Mitch McGary who ranks as the 15th best player overall according to  McGary plays on the SYF AAU team.  His choice of colleges already included Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan State and has now grown to elite places like Duke, Arizona, Texas, and Kansas.
Sophomore Drake Harris is another player on the watch.  Harris, from Grand Rapids, MI, has an IU offer in hand but will have plenty of options with Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and Ohio State involved.  Other players to keep an eye on locally include Evansville, IN guard Jaquan Lyle, Indianapolis, IN forward Perry Poindexter, Mishawaka, IN guard Demetrius Jackson and Lake Forest, IL forward Tyler Wideman.
Action continues through Sunday as 229 teams play on in this terriffic event.

Basketball India: Basketball can become No 2 sport in India: Jennings

NAGPUR: He has the floor presence of Allen Iverson, wit of Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron's confidence and smile of Magic Johnson. So it comes as no surprise that at 22 Brandon Jennings is considered by many to be the next big thing of NBA.

Jennings, a 6-foot-2 point guard, was at a time regarded as the best high school player in the United States. But instead of opting for the traditional career path - of going through the college league enroute to NBA - Jennings went to Italy to play as pro. With the talent he has it took just a year for the NBA bosses to spot Jennings. The Milwaukee Bucks snapped up the rookie in 2009. He lived upto to promise he showed in the very first year with the Milwaukee by becoming the youngest NBA player to score 55 points in a game.

The emerging star is in Mumbai right now to conduct a series of events for NBA in order to popularise the game in India. In a free-wheeling chat with TOI Jennigs shared his view about the game and it's progress in India


What is basketball for Brandon?

Basketball is something that I love and have the passion for. Actually, basketball is my life.

How difficult was it for you to make it to the NBA?

I won't say it was difficult. Yes, it was a challenge to make it big in NBA. It took a lot of hard work and dedication. When I made my decision to play overseas that day was my first test. It was a challenge and yeah I did it.

Can basketball really become India's biggest sport?

I don't think basketball will become India's biggest sport, cricket will always be No 1. With the participation and involvement of the NBA, I think basketball will become No 2 in India and we will be fine with that.

Indians are not very heavily built. Will that affect the growth of game here?

Basketball is fun and an easy sport. The game of basketball is a global sport. You only have to put the ball in the hoop and I think if you can do that it is easy and anybody can start playing the game. You don't always have to be heavily built, you just have to understand how to play the game, I think you can play.

How important is the technical aspect at the grassroots level?

There are players in the NBA who don't have their basics right, don't have the right technique, and yet are playing in the starting line-ups, and doing a great job. It is not necessary to always have the basics covered. You need to have a set of skills most importantly. Like I said before, basketball is an easy sport. The most essential thing is to love the game and pick it up at a young age. The aspiring kid that enjoys shooting basketball in the hoop will surely make it professionally at the highest level, either in the NBA or in other leagues around the world.

How do you compare the players of USA with others in terms of style and toughness?

Our style is a bit different but game is always played the same way everywhere and everybody knows how to play the game, obviously it is no different.

Your message for Indian kids?

Keep doing your bit. As long as you work hard everything is possible. Having played in Italy, I have seen first-hand how the sport is growing globally and I am excited to be in India with the NBA to help continue the growth of the game. The NBA has the best basketball players from around the world and I wish to see one of the kids I teach here play against me in the NBA one day.

Selling bodies or selling sports? Sexy Women Badminton

Sportswomen have not only to get past traditional prejudices but also have to overcome commercial pressures to make themselves more attractive and marketable…
Photo: R. Ragu

GIVE THEM THE CHOICE OF DRESS: Jwala Gutta (left) and Ashwini Ponappa in action.

When a 15-year-old girl from Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh comes back with a gold medal for, of all sports, boxing, there must be reason to celebrate. In a week dominated with grim news from around the world, the success of young Nikhat Zareen in the Junior World Championships in Antalya, Turkey in the 50 kg category of boxing was like a welcome ray of sunshine.
Nikhat's story, like that of the other three women boxers from India who also won gold, is remarkable for a number of reasons. All of them — besides Nikhat there is Sarjubala Devi from Manipur, Lalenkawli from Mizoram and Minu Basmataray from Assam — have chosen to excel in a sport that is considered “unwomanly”. All of them come from modest backgrounds without the monetary backing to pursue an individual sport of any kind, leave alone boxing. Lalenkawli's parents, for instance, are farmers and she had to travel 300 km to the only training centre in Mizoram's capital, Aizawl. The others also have similar stories.
Relatively lucky
Nikhat is lucky in that her father, Jameel, is a former state-level football player and understands the pull of sports. Neither he, nor his wife Parveen, stood in Nikhat's way when, at the age of 12, she announced that she wanted to box. Her role models were two male cousins who were boxers. She was the only girl who wanted to pursue boxing. Luckily, her uncle, who was training his sons agreed to teach Nikhat. So Nikhat learned to box with the boys. On June 14 she turns 15. In the span of three short years, she has already made a name for herself.
“As a Muslim girl, it was a tough choice to make as everyone questioned what I was doing in the boxing ring,” Nikhat told a journalist. “There were almost no female boxers where I trained in Hyderabad, and I was often alienated.” But she got past this and now joins a remarkable group of Indian women boxers led by the redoubtable Mary Kom from Manipur.
Multiple obstacles
Nikhat's success throws light once again on the vexed issue of women and sports in India. It continues to be an arena of considerable neglect. Sportswomen in this country face an incredibly hard time getting past traditional prejudices about women playing sport. If they succeed, they enter a world dominated by games that men play. Women's sports receives little attention by the media or by the sports authorities compared to the money and time invested in the men. Things change if some women like Nikhat, or the women's hockey team, come back with medals from international fixtures. Fleetingly, they hog the media spotlight. But even before we get to know their names and faces, the focus turns back to the dominant sports. Between tournaments, the women go back to their jobs, usually in institutions like the Railways, and work away until the next big tournament.
Despite all this, it is remarkable that an increasing number of women are making a name for themselves in sports. Women like Saina Nehwal, who has become the face of women's badminton alongside the equally accomplished Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa. But Nikhat is more fortunate than these women in some ways. No one is telling her, yet, what she should wear when boxing. Women badminton players, on the hand, have been slapped with a “skirts only” rule by the men who head the Badminton World Federation (BWF). Why a compulsory dress code only for women players? The BWF, apparently, decided on this course following advice from the sports marketing giant, Octagon. They wanted to make the women's game more “attractive” and “marketable”.
In other words, the BWF wants women badminton players to look more attractive on court. This, they believe, will draw more eyeballs to the game. What about their skills as players? It would appear that does not matter as long as they catch the male gaze. It seems incredible that someone can seriously contemplate such a rule, and that too for these reasons.
Different reactions Predictably, many women players have raised strong objections. As a result, the rule has been deferred by a month. Britain's leading mixed doubles player, Imogen Bankier has said, “I will fight to make sure this dated and simply sexist rule does not happen.” Several players from different countries have said that skirts will come in the way when they play and they prefer shorts. The Indian girls have not been so forthright. While Saina has said it was not an issue, Jwala has emphasised that they should be given the choice whether to wear skirts or not.
But what is really troubling about the decision is the blatant effort to use women's bodies to sell the game. And for this, the cue has been taken from women's tennis, where glamour has played a big role in drawing an audience. But there is a big difference. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) is managed independently and women players have a say in its decisions. Thus, what women wear is decided by women players and not imposed by a male club. If women tennis players choose to be seen as fashion statements, it is their choice. But it has not diminished the power of their game. Maria Sharapova might look like a model but no one can question her skill as a player. Ditto Venus Williams. While those like Anna Kournikova, who drew attention only for their looks, have fallen by the wayside because their game was not up to the mark. People come to watch good tennis, not to gawk at women players who are fashion statements.
It is tragic that at a time when more opportunities are opening up for women, they are told they must “sell” themselves, make themselves “marketable” if they want to get financial backing for their chosen sport. Men too face the pressure of finding sponsors. But they are not asked to dress in a way that shows off their well-toned bodies and attracts female fans. While it is true that there are both men and women who go to watch football, cricket or tennis matches because they find the players good-looking, surely they will not persist unless they also enjoy the game.
As the lines between commerce, entertainment and sports disappear, young women wanting to make a career in sports face tough choices. If they don't have money, they can't train the way they need to succeed. But if they concentrate on looking presentable and finding endorsements, they are likely to be dismissed as being non-serious and in it only for the glamour. The bottom-line, however, is that those who manage a sport must respect sportswomen and give them the freedom to choose how much they bend to these commercial demands. It is unacceptable that a group of men decide how they should dress on court for no other reason than to make them “marketable”.

Cricket: Shahid Afridi wants to play Ireland ODIs

All-rounder confirms availability, leaves selection upto the PCB. PHOTO: APMSO
KARACHI:  Pakistan’s limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi, while playing down the rift with the country’s cricket board, has expressed his desire to play the forthcoming One-Day International (ODI) series against Ireland.
Pakistan will fly to Ireland from West Indies after the second Test and is scheduled to play two ODIs in Belfast on May 28 and May 30.
Afridi’s presence in the squad became uncertain for the series after he was questioned by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in relation to the comments he made after his return from the West Indies. According to reports, the PCB is considering dropping the all-rounder for his statement which, it believed, violated the code of conduct.
Afridi was irked by the unwanted interference in team selection on the West Indies tour and said that the management needed to mind its own business. However, the all-rounder has pleaded not guilty in his reply to the board and made himself available for the series.
“I’m available for the Ireland series,” Afridi told The Express Tribune. “In fact I’ll be in England at that time for my county stint.”
The all-rounder will play for Hampshire for their Twenty20 campaign where he will join South Africa spinner Imran Tahir.
‘PCB to decide my fate’
Afridi, however, said it would be up to the PCB to decide on his fate for the series.
“In my reply I cleared that I had no intentions to target any individual or violate the code of conduct,” he said.  “I’ve tried to convince the PCB that it was a general comment which I often give in the interest of the team. I’d be happy to play but it’s up to the board to decide on my selection.”
However, the PCB has not yet made any decision over his inclusion.
“We’re awaiting manager Intikhab Alam’s report on the West Indies tour to make a decision on the matter,” confirmed a PCB official.

Pak Vs WI Digicel test Series: Pakistan spinners strike but Windies on top

GEORGETOWN: Pakistan's spinners fought to regain control of the first Test on Friday after their batting collapsed dramatically against the West Indies who finished the second day with a 100-run lead.
Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal both struck early blows as West Indies reached 34 for two in their second innings when bad light stopped played 13 balls early at the Guyana National Stadium.
Pakistan had been dismissed for 160 in reply to West Indies first innings total of 226, about 40 minutes before the scheduled close with leg spinner Devendra Bishoo finishing with four for 68 from 25 overs on his Test debut.
Seamer Ravi Rampaul took three for 27 from 17 overs for his best figures in a Test. "I felt the pressure to perform after seeing Saeed and the other Pakistan spinners bowling so well and getting so much help from the pitch," said Bishoo. "I felt it was my duty to go and get wickets for the team. I tried to vary my pace a lot because the pitch was playing a bit slow and tried to bowl the balls in the right areas."
Abdur Rehman topped the scoring for the visitors with 40 not out while Azhar Ali made 34 and Umar Akmal hit 33. Hafeez then gave Pakistan a bright start when the West Indies batted again, grabbing the scalp of Devon Smith lbw for one playing down the wrong line.
It was the sixth straight innings the part-time Pakistani off-spinner had dismissed the left-handed West Indies opener in the last month, stretching back to the quarter-finals of the recent World Cup. Ajmal, who took five wickets in the West Indies first innings, also trapped Darren Bravo lbw for eight, when the left-hander played back and across to a well-pitched delivery.
Pakistan's fortunes in the match shifted spectacularly after they continued from their lunchtime total of 45 for one. Before lunch, the Pakistanis looked to have firm control, after Hafeez, Pakistan's most prolific batsman in the one-day series, was bowled for four, dragging a delivery from Rampaul into his stumps in the second over of their innings.
Azhar and Taufeeq made steady progress either side of the interval in between a couple alarming moments. Taufeeq was fortunate on one when he edged a rising ball from Rampaul between second slip and gully for his first boundary. His heart rate was raised again when he was on five, West Indies appealing unsuccessfully for a caught behind off the same bowler.
After lunch, the visitors lost five wickets for 23 runs in the space of 78 deliveries, and were wobbling on 80 for six. Taufeeq was lbw to West Indies captain Darren Sammy for 19 playing forward and across a delivery angled in to the left-hander from around the wicket in the fifth over after lunch.
Three overs later, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was trapped lbw plumb in front for two on the backfoot to a flatter, faster delivery from Bishoo. Azhar was bowled in the next over, offering no stroke to a delivery moving back to give Sammy his second wicket in 12 overs that cost 16.
Asad Shafiq was lbw for two playing down the wrong line to a leg-break from Bishoo, following a successful West Indies review of New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden's not-out verdict, and Mohammad Salman was lbw for four, suffering a similar fate. Pakistan reached 113 for six at tea, as Akmal added an even 50 for the seventh wicket either side of the break with Rehman.
Akmal then had a rush of blood, and was caught behind off Bishoo, when he top-edged a pull to trigger a collapse that saw Pakistan lose their last four wickets for 30 runs in the space of 65 balls.
Umar Gul was also caught behind, top-edging a pull at a short delivery from Rampaul, who also trapped Ajmal lbw for one, following a review of New Zealand umpire Tony Hill's not-out verdict.
The visitors' innings came to a close, when Wahab Riaz was caught behind, groping at a delivery outside the off-stump to give Kemar Roach his only wicket.

Past winners of Azlan Shah Hockey tournament

Photo Vino John - GNN
1983 1985 1987 1991
1994 1995 1996 1998
1999 2000 2001 2003

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup- 04/06/2005
Team Pld Won Drw Lst For Agt Pts
AUS 6 4 2 0 19 10 14
KOR 6 4 1 1 22 13 13
PAK 6 4 1 1 12 8 13
NZL 6 2 1 3 15 13 7
MAS 6 2 1 3 8 12 7
IND 6 1 1 4 8 15 4
RSA 6 0 1 5 7 20 1

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Results Table - 04/06/2005
Team Names 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 - AUS ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
2 - IND 0 - 1 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
3 - KOR 3 - 3 4 - 1 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
4 - MAS 1 - 3 4 - 1 0 - 4 ------ ------ ------ ------
5 - NZL 1 - 2 2 - 2 4 - 6 3 - 1 ------ ------ ------
6 - PAK 2 - 2 3 - 2 3 - 2 0 - 1 2 - 1 ------ ------
7 - RSA 3 - 8 1 - 2 2 - 3 1 - 1 0 - 4 0 - 2 ------

Final NED 6 ARG 2
3/4 IND 3 NZL 2
5/6 KOR 1 PAK 4
7/8 MAS 2 ARG 3 (Golden Goal)

Azlan Shah Cup 2006
Pool A - 22/06/2006

Team Pld Won Drw Lst For Agt Pts
IND 3 2 0 1 9 6 6
AUS 3 1 1 1 6 6 4
KOR 3 1 1 1 5 5 4
MAS 3 0 2 1 6 9 2

Azlan Shah Cup 2006
Pool B - 22/06/2006

Team Pld Won Drw Lst For Agt Pts
NZL 3 1 2 0 6 5 5
NED 3 1 1 1 6 4 4
PAK 3 1 1 1 6 7 4
ARG 3 1 0 2 5 7 3

Azlan Shah Cup 2006 - Pool A
Results Table - 22/06/2006

Team Names 1 2 3 4
1 - AUS ------ ------ ------ ------
2 - IND 1 - 4 ------ ------ ------
3 - KOR 3 - 0 0 - 3 ------ ------
4 - MAS 2 - 2 2 - 5 2 - 2 ------

Azlan Shah Cup 2006 - Pool B
Results Table - 22/06/2006

Team Names 1 2 3 4
1 - ARG ------ ------ ------ ------
2 - NED 4 - 1 ------ ------ ------
3 - NZL 3 - 2 0 - 0 ------ ------
4 - PAK 0 - 2 3 - 2 3 - 3 ------


Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
Pool A - 09/05/2007

Team Pld Won Drw Lst For Agt Pts
AUS 3 2 0 1 8 3 6
IND 3 2 0 1 7 5 6
ARG 3 2 0 1 4 4 6
CHN 3 0 0 3 8 15 0

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
Pool A Results Table - 09/05/2007
Team Names 1 2 3 4
1 - ARG ------ ------ ------ ------
2 - AUS 0 - 1 ------ ------ ------
3 - CHN 2 - 3 2 - 7 ------ ------
4 - IND 2 - 0 0 - 1 5 - 4 ------

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
Pool B - 09/05/2007

Team Pld Won Drw Lst For Agt Pts
MAS 3 2 1 0 5 2 7
KOR 3 2 0 1 5 3 6
PAK 3 1 1 1 6 6 4
CAN 3 0 0 3 0 5 0

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
Pool B Results Table - 09/05/2007
Team Names 1 2 3 4
1 - CAN ------ ------ ------ ------
2 - KOR 1 - 0 ------ ------ ------
3 - MAS 2 - 0 1 - 0 ------ ------
4 - PAK 2 - 0 2 - 4 2 - 2 ------



Azlan Shah Cup 2008
Ipoh, Malaysia- 17/05/2008

Team Pld Won Drw Lst For Agt Pts
ARG 6 4 2 0 19 8 14
IND 6 4 0 2 17 16 12
PAK 6 3 1 2 18 16 10
NZL 6 3 0 3 14 14 9
BEL 6 2 0 4 15 17 6
CAN 6 1 2 3 7 12 5
MAS 6 1 1 4 9 16 4

Azlan Shah Cup 2008
Ipoh, Malaysia Results Table - 17/05/2008

Team Names 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 - ARG ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
2 - BEL 1 - 2 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
3 - CAN 2 - 2 1 - 0 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
4 - IND 1 - 5 6 - 4 3 - 1 ------ ------ ------ ------
5 - MAS 0 - 5 2 - 4 2 - 2 1 - 2 ------ ------ ------
6 - NZL 1 - 2 3 - 1 3 - 0 4 - 3 0 - 2 ------ ------
7 - PAK 3 - 3 3 - 5 2 - 1 1 - 2 3 - 2 6 - 3 ------


India win

Final India 3 Malaysia 1
3-4 New Zealand 2 Pakistan 1

Azlan Shah Cup 2009
Table standings 11/04/2009

IND 4 2 2 0 9 5 8
MAS 4 2 1 1 8 7 7
NZL 4 1 3 0 7 6 6
PAK 4 1 0 3 9 8 3
EGY 4 0 2 2 4 11 2

Azlan Shah Cup 2009
Results Table - 11/04/2009

Team Names 1 2 3 4 5
1 - EGY ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
2 - IND 2 - 2 ------ ------ ------ ------
3 - MAS 4 - 1 0 - 3 ------ ------ ------
4 - NZL 1 - 1 2 - 2 1 - 1 ------ ------
5 - PAK 4 - 0 1 - 2 2 - 3 2 - 3 ------



Final - Washed out Joint winners declared
3/4 - AUS 5 MAS 3
5/6 - PAK 1 CHN 1 (PAK win on Penalty Strokes)

Azlan Shah Cup 2010
Ipoh, Malaysia- 15/05/2010

Team Pld Won Drw Lst For Agt Pts
IND 6 4 1 1 21 14 13
KOR 6 3 2 1 20 11 11
AUS 6 3 2 1 20 12 11
MAS 6 3 2 1 17 9 11
PAK 6 2 2 2 24 20 8
CHN 6 1 1 4 12 19 4
EGY 6 9 9 6 4 33 0

Azlan Shah Cup 2008
Ipoh, Malaysia Results Table - 15/05/2010

Team Names 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 - AUS ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
2 - CHN 0 - 4 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
3 - EGY 0 - 4 1 - 5 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
4 - IND 4 - 3 1 - 1 7 - 1 ------ ------ ------ ------
5 - KOR 2 - 2 5 - 3 6 - 0 2 - 3 ------ ------ ------
6 - MAS 1 - 2 2 - 1 5 - 0 5 - 2 1 - 1 ------ ------
7 - PAK 5 - 5 6 - 2 6 - 2 2 - 4 2 - 4 3 - 3 ------

Pakistan is going to defeat Australia and win Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament 2011

Karachi- ''Green Chaddis'' (Pakistan) is going on a right path in Hockey.Pakistan has recently won Asian Hockey championship and is coming back his revival of his Prime form.Pakistan has performed well in Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament 2011.They have beated favourite Korea ,Newzealand, arch-rival India and host Malaysia to qualify for final of the tournament.Pakistan has to meet Australia in final which they are confident to beat World Champion and shows the world that who is real Champ of hockey.Pakistan and Australia both have won World Cup 4 times each.So it is hoping that two bulls 'll fight in final of Azlan Shah hockey tournament 2011 on Sunday.Pakistan Qualifies for Azlan Shah cup final after 2004.So nation is hoping good performance from their Green Tigers.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2011 Points Table

Australia leads the group with 13 points by playing 5 games.4 win and 1 draw.Great Britain is on 2nd position.It has 9 points.It played 5 matches, win 3 and 2 lost.Pakistan is on 3rd position.It has also 9 points.3 wins and 2 lost.If Pakistan beat Malaysia with a big margin than it 'll qualifies for final against Australia.Pakistan and Britain has a tie but Britain with less goal against their team which is 9 and they hit 11 goals against their opposotion.Pakistan has took 13 goals against their team and they scored 14 against opposition.

USA TODAY: Consultants back firing of basketball coach

St. Charles Unit District 303 plans to make changes to its athletics polices in light of an independent review. (Melissa Jenco/TribLocal file photo)
St. Charles Unit District 303 plans to make changes to its athletics polices in light of an independent review. (Melissa Jenco/TribLocal file photo)
An independent review of the St. Charles East athletic department has found the recent firing of boys basketball coach Brian Clodi to be justified, but the review also has sparked some changes to department policies, officials said Friday.
Consultants found, despite the backlash from parents and students, “there is significant evidence to support the dismissal” of Clodi who coached the varsity team for eight years.
“That decision’s been made, it’s done and we need to continue to move on,” Supt. Don Schlomann said. “And I think while there’s different sentiments about it everybody wants to move on and provide quality programming for our kids.”
He plans to announce an interim coach next week and said it will not be someone who is in the running for the job permanently.
While the coach’s dismissal exacerbated the review of the East athletic department, Schlomann said the district actually had already been considering one due to bullying and hazing issues.
The review, which was performed by a former superintendent and former athletic director from another district, interviewed more than 40 people and found positives like extensive offerings, dedicated coaches and good facilities. However, it also found weak spots like Athletic Director Jerry Krieg’s communication and organization, the evaluation system for coaches, inconsistency among booster clubs and bullying.
In response, Schlomann is calling for coaches and students in District 303 to be trained to recognize and report bullying and hazing. Recent efforts in that area already are causing more people to come forward, he said.
“We’ve got to provide some training for our students because the environment is different in the classroom and on the field … and often on the field over time there are things that occur that are kind of historical in nature where people have always done it this way, and now people are realizing that doesn’t feel right,” he said.
He also is calling for a review of job descriptions for the athletic director, assistant athletic director and coaches and wants coaches to be evaluated annually in writing by the athletic director instead of the current system of self-evaluations.
In addition, he would like a committee to study potential changes to the booster club structure in the district. The district has 53 clubs between the two high schools – one for each sport – while many districts have one per school.
“These are the things that really matter to make a program successful, to make it fair for our kids and to have what we would call a really dynamic programming for all of our students,” Schlomann said of the recommended changes.
There will be new leadership at East helping to implement those changes as Krieg announced this week he is retiring as of June 30.
Despite some criticisms in the report regarding Krieg’s leadership, Schlomann said Krieg has been considering retirement for several years, and he did not push Krieg into the decision. He added, “in no way am I disappointed with Jerry Krieg and his performance.”
“No one cared more about ‘Saints Nation’ as they call it than he did,” Schlomann said. “I mean, I’m not convinced if you cut him open he wouldn’t bleed orange.”
The district will be posting a job opening notice for both an interim and permanent athletic director and then decide which would be the best choice.

USA TODAY: Hall of Famer Killebrew ends cancer fight

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, the brawny slugger who remains near the top of the career home runs list, said on Friday he is ending his battle with esophageal cancer and will live out the final days of his life in hospice care.
The 11-times All-Star, whose 573 career home runs are the 11th most in Major League Baseball, said he looks forward to spending his finals days in comfort alongside his wife.
"It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end," Killebrew, 74, said in a statement released by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors' expectation of cure."
Killebrew started his career with the Washington Senators in 1954 and relocated with the franchise to Minnesota in 1961 where they became the Twins. He played one year with the Kansas City Royals in 1975 before retiring.
Killebrew was named the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1969 after a season where he recorded a career-best 140 RBIs, 49 home runs and a .276 batting average while playing in all 162 of Minnesota's games that year.
The Twins retired his uniform number in 1975 and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984 after a 22-year career in which he recorded 1,584 RBIs and a .256 batting average in 2,435 games.
In April, Killebrew scrapped plans to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the Twins' home opener, saying the trip would disrupt his cancer treatment schedule in Arizona.
At the time, he said in a statement that he had made tremendous progress and remained optimistic and hopeful for a full recovery.
Twins spokesman Kevin Smith said plans to pay tribute to Killebrew at Friday's home game against the Toronto Blue Jays were still being finalized but acknowledged that a video tribute and hanging the former player's No. 3 jersey in the Minnesota dugout were likely.
"This is not anywhere close to a memorial. He is still with us," Smith told Reuters. "This is an acknowledgment of his statement. He just wanted everyone to know what his next step was and beyond that we don't have anything to say."
Smith also said notes of best wishes from current Twins players will be sent to Killebrew overnight by the team.
Killebrew, who still holds the team record for most home runs, RBIs, walks and games played, had announced in December that he had been diagnosed with cancer and started treatment.
"I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me," Killebrew said on Friday.
"I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side."

Homegrown talent helps UConn baseball thrive

The common belief among state high school players used to be the south was the place to be for college baseball.
Jim Penders and the UConn Huskies are doing an excellent job to debunk that theory.
Last season, Pender's program earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1994 with a school-record 48 wins and its first appearance in the national rankings since 1979.
A trip to the NCAAs was a nice reward after UConn dropped its second straight Big East championship game, which came in a 3-0 loss to St. John's. The Huskies were eliminated by Oregon last year in the Norwich Regional.
Stocked with a roster full of homegrown talent and sitting atop the conference with one week to play, the Huskies (34-13-1, 18-3 Big East entering Friday's game against Louisville at Dodd Stadium in Norwicj) have not only stirred up interest in the collegiate game in New England, but made it cool to stay home to play ball again.
"All the talent in Connecticut, most of the top prospects try to go down south," said sophomore designated hitter LJ Mazzilli, from Greenwich, whose father is former major league player and manager Lee Mazzilli. "But we are doing it right here."
The Huskies have 17 players with in-state ties, including their two biggest stars -- junior outfielder George Springer (New Britain) and junior right-hander Matt Barnes (Bethel), who anchors the staff with his 98-mph fastball.
Springer leads the team in average (.376), homers (10) and RBIs (64), while Barnes is 9-3 with a 1.29 ERA and 82 strikeouts.
"If there's a kid who can play baseball, it's foolish for them not to come to UConn," said Penders, who is in his eighth season as the Huskies' skipper. "Right now we are one of the best teams in the region and have a lot of prospects."
One of the rising prospects is freshman southpaw Brian Ward, a Foran graduate who is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA working at the back end of the rotation behind Barnes, Madison native Greg Nappo and senior co-captain Elliott Glynn, who is one of two California players on the roster.
Ward's emergence has helped offset the loss of righty Scott Oberg, who is out for the year after having Tommy John surgery.
"I've settled in nicely after a couple shaky starts," the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Ward said. "We all complement each other (on the staff). We work well with each other and root for each other."
Pitching is the one thing Penders focused on recruiting plenty of when he took over in 2003 after seven years serving as an assistant coach.
"It all starts with the guy on the bump," he said. "We were determined to build the team with pitching."
Among the other regional players on the Huskies are two Stratford juniors -- catcher John Sulzicki and infielder Tim Martin. Greenwich sophomore Michael Zaccardo is part of the bullpen.
UConn is the only team in the conference to already secure one of the eight postseason spots and entered the weekend ranked first in the New England region and 15th overall in one of the national polls (Collegiate Baseball Newspaper). Baseball America has the Huskies 18th while the NCBWA has them at 29th.
"Jim has done a tremendous job there," said Sacred Heart coach Nick Giaquinto, whose club beat UConn 5-4 earlier in the season. "They've taken the program to new heights."
The new heights include much bigger plans than just being a factor in the Big East. They Huskies want a league championship, which is something the program has not won since 1994 when Penders was a player there.
"One of the things that stands out about this team is we are all best friends on the one team," Mazzilli said. "We're one group with one goal in our lives. Everyone wants the same thing."
The Huskies appear to have the talent to accomplish that goal, but Penders prefers the Huskies focus on their daily tasks, not long-range goals.
"We haven't accomplished any of our goals, but we're making progress towards out goals," he said.

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Pakistan in resurgent form despite youth

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey Tournament 

IPOH: Pakistan’s manager said Friday that the Asian champions were seeing a return to form and eyeing victory in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, despite the relative youth of their side. Pakistan and Great Britain each have nine points with one game to go to decide who will meet World champions Australia in Sunday’s final. Great Britain will first play South Korea on Saturday followed by Pakistan against Malaysia. “I have told my players that we must play to win no matter what the result of the other match,” Pakistan team manager K.M. Junaid said. “We are under no illusion of the task that awaits us. Malaysia have always been a tough team to play, and they will certainly want to win as well,” he said.

“I also thank God almighty for what we have been able to achieve thus far after having come with a young team,” he said. The Pakistanis have eight players under 21. So far Pakistan have beaten old adversaries India, South Korea and New Zealand but lost against both Great Britain and Australia. Last November, Pakistan won the Asian Games gold medal, bolstering their confidence. Junaid said another title win would be a major boost to efforts to create a top team for their 2012 London Olympic challenge. “(The young players) are the future of Pakistan hockey, and I am glad that they are showing good form. We have to keep exposing them to tougher matches,” Junaid said.

Great Britain have vowed not to take South Korea for granted either. South Korea and India are both joint title holders for the cup, whose final was marred by rain last year. “I have said that we are here to win the title,” Great Britain coach Jason Lee said. “We will go all out to do that against Korea but at the same time we have to be on our toes from the start.” “Frankly it is in our hands to make the final and we have to get the job done,” he said. Behind Great Britain and Pakistan, New Zealand have seven points meaning the Kiwis could sneak into the final if both Great Britain and Pakistan lose their games and New Zealand win their match against Australia on Saturday.

Pathetic PCB preventing cricket’s progress

The inherent trait of conflicts and controversies practiced and promoted by present set-up of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has prevented our cricket from making the desired progress to capture a place among top teams of the world. The six weeks of World Cup 2011, during which Pakistan managed to reach the semifinals, apparently looked like a period of relative peace and harmony but it was not so.

It was a phase of blistering differences between coach Waqar Younis and skipper Shahid Afridi mainly on the matters of selection. The issue if leaked out would have caused tremendous shame to the Pakistan team. Afridi very wisely tolerated all the taunts, gimmicks and shouts, at times agreeing and at times not agreeing with the coach. He, however, remained absolutely firm in his conduct as captain preventing the gang of officials from making undue interference into the affairs of the team. He kept the things under control without giving a clue to the media till Pakistan reached Mohali where the team succumbed to the politics of Himalayan level to create history.

The next international engagement of our team was the tour of the West Indies in which the series of five one-day internationals (ODIs) was of paramount importance. Having defeated the Windies all ends up during the World Cup, our team had judged the weakness of the opponents and were fully confident of achieving a clean sweep of the series. The relationship with coach Waqar having become extremely bitter, Afridi initially declined to accompany the team to West Indies ‘for personal reasons’. Some of his well wishers, however, advised him not to leave the team after doing so well in a great event like the World Cup. He changed his decision and accompanied the team. The team performed as successfully as planned. Pakistan won the three ODI’s in a row winning the series while the fourth one became the joint victim of rain and the Lewis-Duckworth rules. The fifth and last ODI was gifted to the hosts consequent to a serious altercation between the two officials, the bone of contention being the dropping of in form player Asad Shafiq by the coach.

The major point of contention between Waqar and Afridi was Waqar’s authoritative attitude in selection matters. During the West Indies tour while Afridi wanted to give ample chance to the new players considering that ‘they were not on tour for a joy ride’ while Waqar kept on resisting and playing the tried and tested old hags. Cricket fans, who were aspiring for a straight 5-0 victory, were not pleased with the 3-2 win caused mainly due to a rift between the two top officials. While coach Waqar has stayed back with the team to complete the series Afridi is back home.

Immediately on arrival, Afridi made a press statement criticising coach Waqar for interfering in the team selection. He also touched upon the differences that existed within the team management. The PCB immediately reacted to the statement as a violation of the code of conduct and issued a show cause notice to Afridi to which he has submitted a reply.

It is quite likely that the matter will be decided on Waqar’s return but there are two schools of thought. Some sources indicate that PCB chief Ijaz Butt is not happy with Afridi’s performance as well as attitude to go public about the team affairs. There may thus be a chance of his losing the ‘limited over matches captaincy’. ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi having turned into a legend, I think it would be too big a punishment for an issue which could be easily sorted out by the team’s management headed by a seasoned manager like Intikhab Alam. The other suggestion that he should be set free with a reprieve appears reasonable.

Another alarming conflict of similar nature occurred within the PCB’s headquarters where agitated by the dictatorial conduct of Ijaz Butt, chief selector Mohsin Khan threatened to resign from his post. Mohsin was irked by the fact that he was not given a free hand in selecting the team. The team selected by his committee was often changed by the chairman arbitrarily. His objection is quite valid because the selection committee forms the team after meticulously watching the performance of each player. In contrast since the chairman does not go through such a process the induction of any player by him is based either on ‘safarish or personal liking.’ To prevent the issue from turning into a national debate Ijaz found it convenient to have a compromise with the chief selector. It is high time that the PCB avoids such conflicts and controversies and concentrates on boosting up the game.

49er Women's Tennis Starts NCAA Tournament Competition This Weekend

2:34pm | No. 36 Long Beach State will be making its eighth all-time appearance in the NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament this weekend, playing No. 27 Pepperdine at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, at Stanford.
Long Beach State’s eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament comes off the heels of claiming the team’s eighth

Big West Championship over the last 10 seasons, making it the best team in the strongest Big West Conference season top-to-bottom in recent memory. With Cal Poly’s at-large selection, the league earned two bids for the first time since the 2007 season (LBSU, UC Irvine) and had six teams ranked at the conclusion of the regular season.
The NCAA Tournament host for Long Beach State, Stanford University, will be a familiar site for the 49ers. Long Beach State has played in Palo Alto twice before in the tournament; the first time was back in 2002, the team’s first NCAA appearance, and the other was in 2009.
This will also be the third time that Long Beach State has played Pepperdine in the postseason, and the second time that Long Beach State has faced the Waves at Stanford. Pepperdine defeated the 49ers in 2002 4-1 in the first appearance for the program. The last time the teams met was in 2007 at Fresno State, when Long Beach State nearly upset the No. 20 Waves, getting wins from Hannah Grady and Katy Williams and leading them in the unfinished match in a 4-3 defeat.
Pepperdine and Long Beach State are meeting for the 19th time; the 49ers have never defeated the Waves but have come tantalizingly close in the last three meetings, losing all three by a 4-3 margin while being ranked lower in all three matches.
In this season’s meeting, Long Beach State won the doubles point, taking the top two matches, and did the same in singles, as Anais Dallara defeated Arianna Colffer at No. 1 singles and Klaudia Malenovska won at No. 2 over Ale Granillo.
Dallara has also defeated Khunpak Issara in fall play, giving the 49ers junior a pair of wins against the Waves this season. She’ll likely match up with Colffer once more, while Deborah Armstrong will get a rematch with Anamika Bhargava, who entered the singles rankings this week at No. 122.
With Malenovska out due to injury, Rachel Manasse will draw Granillo this time around, while Jaklin Alawi will likely face Issara. Sarah Cantlay and Anna Jeczmionka will round out the singles lineup for the 49ers, facing Marie Zalameda and either Andrea Oates or Megan Moore.
The doubles point appears to point in the Waves’ favor despite Long Beach State’s triumph earlier in the season, as Pepperdine has two tandems ranked No. 1: No. 65 Bhargava/Zalameda and No. 53 Issara/Granillo. Long Beach State will look to topple the top two a second time, as well as rely on Cantlay/Luzar at No. 3 doubles, a team with a 19-4 record in dual matches this season.
In NCAA Tournament play the Waves have the edge, with a 23-27 all-time record in the postseason. Long Beach State enters with a record of 1-7, getting their win in 2006 by beating No. 46 New Mexico 4-1 before falling to No. 2 USC in Los Angeles.
With a win, the 49ers would play the winner of No. 2 Stanford and Illinois-Chicago at noon on Sunday, May 15. Long Beach State has never beaten Stanford in six matches, but is undefeated against the Flames with a 4-0 record, including a 5-2 win in Chicago earlier this year.

TENNIS: Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray cruise into Rome Masters semis

ROME: Rafael Nadal showed no signs of the fever that has been afflicting him this week as he strolled into the Rome Masters semifinals here with a 6-1, 6-3 demolition of Marin Cilic. Earlier Andy Murray became the first British man to reach the Rome semis in the Open era after a bizarre 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory against Florian Mayer. Having been totally off colour on Wednesday in a tortured three-set victory over Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi, Nadal proved he was back to his best against Cilic. The big serving Croatian hit twice the number of unforced errors as Nadal in the first set with the world number one clinically taking his only two break point opportunities and securing the set with a powerful, deep forehand that Cilic couldn’t return.

The second set started off going with serve until Nadal broke to love in the seventh game, Cilic’s wildly long forehand on the final point indicative of the loose game he played. And in his next service game the world number 23 plonked a forehand into net to give up match point and then hit another wide to hand Nadal the match. Murray became the first British man since George Hughes in 1932 to get this far in Rome. “It is important, it’s nice to do well in tournaments abroad and this tournament has been around a long, long time,” said Murray. “There’s a lot of history, it’s always had great fields. Every year I’ve been here when you walk to the practice courts there’s a list of winners down a wall that has a lot of great players.” The world number four was completely out of sorts in the first set but then went on to win 11 of the last 12 games as Mayer crumbled alarmingly.

Murray had never even reached the quarters here until this year but after a poor start riddled with unforced errors, he found his form on his least favourite surface, finishing with twice as many winners as his opponent. “He’s a very tricky player, I’d never played against him or even practised against him or anything,” added the 23-year-old. “After the way the first few games went I got a bit uptight because I wasn’t really seeing his game well. “I didn’t put prssure on him, I was rushing a bit, coming to the net, he was moving well and hitting passing shots. “In my previous games I was coming up (to the net) and getting success but I had to back off a bit and made the rallies longer and I had to be more patient.” The first two sets were a poor advert for serving as eight of the 14 games ended in a break.

Murray was the principal culprit in the first set as he put up feeble resistance, going down 6-1 and holding serve only once in his first five service games. But as erratic as the Scot was in the first set, the German was just as bad in the second, in which he failed to hold serve at all. The second opened with three breaks of serve before Murray crucially held for only the second time in the match and he accelerated away from there, closing out the set 6-1 with a backhand crosscourt winner. Mayer had completely lost his way on serve and after Murray held at the start of the decider, the German was broken for the fifth game in a row as he netted a backhand volley on the stretch.

Having found the corners at will in the first set, Mayer was now struggling to find his range. The world number 28 held his next service game but it was a brief reprieve as at 4-1 he was broken to love after netting a forehand and Murray served out the match. In the women’s event, Li Na of China was the first person into the semifinals after completing a quick 6-3, 6-1 victory over Hungarian Greta Arn. The fourth seed has made startlingly easy progress here, losing only 13 games in three matches, and she is yet to drop a set