Monday, November 5, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
The world number two, appearing at the US$2.45mil indoor event for the first time, is trying to become the second player to win the Paris Masters and the French Open after Andre Agassi.
The muscular Spaniard, who could emulate Agassi's 1999 feat by claiming both showcase tournaments in the same year, will face Argentine David Nalbandian or Frenchman Richard Gasquet in today's final.
Baghdatis, featuring in the last four of a Masters Series event for the first time, needed to win the title to stand a chance of making the Masters Cup featuring the world's top eight.
His defeat hands the last remaining spot at the Nov. 11-18 season-finale in Shanghai to Gasquet.
Nadal opened up a 3-0 lead in the first set but a determined Baghdatis won the next six games with brilliant winners along the way to take the set in 49 minutes.
The 2006 Australian Open runner-up stayed on top with an early break in the second set but Nadal captured his opponent's serve to level the set at 3-3.
The next games were tight until Baghdatis dropped serve again and lost the set by netting a forehand.
Baghdatis appeared to run out the steam in the decisive set. Nadal broke him in the fourth game and remained in control, although his opponent kept fighting until seeing his forehand bounce on the net cord and land wide on the first match point. – Reuters
MADRID: The chase was on to sign up former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso for next season with his old employers at Renault leading the way, Spanish sports dailies reported yesterday.
Marca said that Renault boss Flavio Briatore was meeting with the French team's lawyers to hammer out the terms of a new contract that would shortly be offered to the 26-year-old Spaniard.
Renault, the paper said, were keen to sign up Alonso, who won his two world titles with them in 2005 and 2006 before leaving for McLaren, to a deal of at least two years in duration.
Marca said that Japanese carmakers Toyota had already offered a lucrative contract to Alonso but that he had turned it down.
Also in the hunt for the driver, who left McLaren on Friday after completing just one year of a three-year contract, were BMW, Red Bull and Williams, the paper said.
Marca speculated that Alonso would likely opt to join one of the smaller teams on the Formula One circuit, in a transitional phase before eventually securing a move to Ferrari.
The AS sports daily said that the favourites to sign up Alonso on a one-year deal was Red Bull. – AFP
Hamilton has obtained a local resident's permit, lawyer Xavier Oberson said, confirming recent reports in the Swiss press that place the British firebrand near a brace of motor racing stars, including his arch-rival Fernando Alonso.
The daily Le Matin reported that the McLaren driver had signed the contract on a flat in Vesenaz, a luxury Geneva suburb close to the lake and near residences owned by the Ojjeh family, who are associates in the racing team.
Hamilton told the BBC on Monday that he had decided to live in Switzerland because he was fed up with constant intrusion into his private life in Britain, where he shot to celebrity status within the past year.
He just missed out on being the youngest driver to claim the world championship after finishing second behind Kimi Raikkonen and claimed several firsts in his rookie season in Formula One.
Oberson declined to comment on Hamilton's exact whereabouts, but said that the youngster preferred a city to a more peaceful village.
“Lewis already knows lots of people in Geneva and the area, and even though he's an extremely conscientious professional who trains intensely, he likes to go out and have fun,” Oberson told Le Matin.
Ironically, Hamilton is following in the steps of his former McLaren team-mate, Alonso, who moved to the other side of Lake Geneva, about 40km away by car, exactly a year ago.
Alonso, the 2006 Formula One champion, quit McLaren on Friday after a stormy relationship with Hamilton.
The western Lake Geneva region has a magnetic attraction for motor racing champions dating back to Formula One legend Jackie Stewart.
Switzerland's highly favourable tax regime for the wealthy and the peaceful setting near Lake Geneva has drawn seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Jacques Villeneuve, Jean Alesi and 2006 world rally champion Sebastien Loeb.
Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld, however, have opted for the other side of Switzerland, while Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone regularly holds court in Gstaad. – AFP
LONDON: Arsenal preserved their place on top of the Premier League after William Gallas' late equaliser earned a dramatic 2-2 draw against Manchester United yesterday.
Gallas' late intervention ensured Arsene Wenger's side stayed ahead of United on goal difference and extended their unbeaten run this season to 18 matches in all competitions.
The most eagerly-anticipated clash of the campaign surpassed expectations after a slow start at the Emirates Stadium. The game exploded into life when United went ahead in first half stoppage-time when Gallas turned Wayne Rooney's shot into his own net.
Arsenal were back on terms two minutes into the second-half as Cesc Fabregas collected Bacary Sagna's cutback to slot into the bottom-corner for his 10th goal of the season.
United regain the lead in the 82nd minute when left-back Patrice Evra burst into the penalty area before cutting a pass back to Ronaldo who swept his shot into the open goal.
The home team were not finished though and they snatched a point in the dying seconds when Gallas scored at the right end by turning in Theo Walcott's scuffed shot.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his side had only themselves to blame.
“I can't believe it,” he said. “We've thrown it away. I thought we had done it but this is football.
“Arsenal had some good possession, but I think we had the better chances. We were controlling the game.”
Frank Lampard helped Chelsea move into third place – within three points of Arsenal – as his goal set up a 2-0 win at Wigan.
Lampard followed his midweek League Cup hat-trick against Leicester by giving Avram Grant's side an 11th minute lead at the JJB Stadium.
Seven minutes later full-back Juliano Belletti scored his first goal since his move from Barcelona and Chelsea were well on the way to their seventh successive win, while Wigan have now lost six in a row.
New Tottenham manager Juande Ramos was denied a first league win as Middlesbrough fought back to draw 1-1 at the Riverside Stadium.
Portsmouth beat Newcastle 4-1 thanks to an astonishing three-goal blast in the space of three first-half minutes at St James' Park.
Everton scored twice in stoppage time to clinch a 3-1 win over Birmingham.
David Moyes' side took the lead through Yakubu's 10th minute strike before Birmingham levelled through Olivier Kapo's 80th minute goal. But Lee Carsley and then James Vaughan scored in the dying minutes.
Aston Villa left struggling Derby rooted to the bottom of the table as second half goals from Martin Laursen and Ashley Young sealed a 2-0 victory.
Clint Dempsey gave Fulham their first league success in 10 matches as the American's second half strike sealed a 3-1 win against Reading.
Under-pressure Cottagers manager Lawrie Sanchez desperately needed a victory after a woeful run and his side got off to the perfect start when Simon Davies opened the scoring in the 18th minute.
Kevin Doyle equalised for Reading in the 54th minute but Dempsey struck and then David Healy added a third. – AFP
LONDON: Chelsea manager Avram Grant said on Friday captain John Terry deserved every penny of the salary that Britain’s Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe described as “obscene”.
“I think people need to understand how he led the team with full commitment in a very difficult time at Chelsea. For this, he deserves every penny,” Grant told reporters.
Sutcliffe said on Thursday that Terry’s reported weekly wage of between £130,000 and £150,000 was obscene and said that football was in danger of alienating grassroots fans.
Grant, however, said that the salaries should be compared to those of other top sportsmen and women as well as entertainers.
“Everybody likes to speak about the money of football players but why does nobody speak about a singer who gets up to sing for one hour and gets more money than everybody?” he asked.
“Why don’t they speak about a very, very talented tennis player in Maria Sharapova who is 20 years old and I think earns more money than any other tennis player?
“This is show business and even if you think it is an easy life, I don’t think it is so easy. Players have a very short time to be a professional and if they succeed, they deserve the money.”
Several other managers were also quick to defend the pay of their players, including Manchester City’s Sven-Goran Eriksson, who earned a salary estimated at up to £4mil when he was in charge of England.
“This question has been asked for about 25 years since I came into professional football,” said the Swede.
“I think you have to see a footballer today like an artist, someone who can move you with their performance. Football is the biggest sport and I think it is only fair players earn good money as they are finished by the time they are 35.”
Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson said: “It is very easy to say footballers get paid too much. In some cases, I would not argue with that.
“However, there are also some tennis players who get great sponsorship deals but never win a tournament.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: “Whether it is too much or not it’s not down to me to judge it. Of course what is terrible is that people don’t earn enough money.
“For the people who earn money it’s down to their attitude and what they put in to justify it.”
Unsurprisingly Gordon Taylor, head of the player’s union, said he was incredulous at Sutcliffe’s statement.
“I don’t want to get into knocking anyone else but is the salary of a film star obscene? Are the salaries of some of our top TV stars obscene?
“I am sorry but there are a lot more people around who earn a lot more than John Terry for doing a lot less. John Terry’s courage and ability is a massive incentive for young children to take up sports, which is what I would have thought the Sports Minister would be pushing for.
“He should be grateful to John and our other top players for proving to youngsters that if you work hard and you commit yourself the rewards can be fantastic.” – Reuters
Wenger’s comments came before facing his oldest rival Alex Ferguson in yesterday’s clash with Manchester United and a week after fan-favourite Martin Jol was sacked by north London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur.
Asked about the string of managers who have already lost their jobs this season, Wenger said: “I think it is terrible.
“It is very bad for football, for the game.
“If you have a vision in football you need time to get that into the club. Once that doesn’t happen any more the consistent progress and the improvement of football (at the club) becomes impossible.
“It’s also usually very bad news financially for the club too,” he told reporters at Arsenal’s London Colney training complex.
Wenger recently celebrated 11 years at Arsenal while Ferguson marks his 21st anniversary of becoming United’s manager next week.
Both men have gone seasons without winning a trophy, but survived in their jobs while many of their rivals and colleagues have quickly been jettisoned by clubs seeking instant success.
Wenger and Ferguson are the only managers in the top three divisions appointed to their jobs before the turn of the century.
Wenger has been in charge of Arsenal for 632 games, winning 365, drawing 156 and losing 111 with a win ratio of 57.75%, British media reported.
Ferguson has an almost identical win ratio of 57.60%.
His 1,170 matches in charge of United have produced 674 wins, 280 draws and 216 defeats. – Reuters
By S. SIVABALAN
PETALING JAYA: Sharon Wee claimed her first title of the year after bagging the NSC Star 1 No2 squash title at the KL Squash Centre in Jalan Duta yesterday.
Sharon, Malaysia's No. 2, scored an easy 9-4, 9-3, 9-4 win over Japan’s Chinatsu Matsui, the world number 61 and eighth seed in the final, which lasted 35 minutes.
“It’s a relief to finally win a tournament this year. It’s my fourth final of the year and it was a good chance for me to win. The opportunity was there and I took it,” said Sharon, the world number 20.
Sharon’s other three final appearances were in the NSC Super Satellite No. 1 (May), NSC Tour 10 No.1 (September) and the Crocodile Open in Hong Kong in September.
“I could see that Chinatsu worked hard to reach the final. She played better compared to our two previous meetings earlier this year but I am glad I stayed focussed.”
Sharon had beaten Chinatsu in the qualifying tournaments of the Malaysian Open (July) and Singapore Open (August) earlier this year.
In yesterdays' final, Sharon took a 3-1 lead before securing the first game 9-4.
She then took a 7-3 lead in the second game following which Chinatsu made two unforced errors and gifted two points for Sharon to win the second game at 9-3.
In the third game, Sharon stepped up the pace and romped to 8-0 lead.
Chinatsu tried to crawl her way back into the match but could only win four points before Sharon sealed the match at 9-4.
“I had to work for the win and I am happy with the way I played.
“Some of my shots were really good especially the volleys in the third game. I even won the last point of the match with a volley,” added Sharon.
Meanwhile, Khasif Shuja of New Zealand beat India’s Ritwik Bhattacharya 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-10 (2-0) to win the men’s title.
By LIM TEIK HUAT
ZHUHAI: The title fight will go down to the wire after young Malaysian Jazeman Jaafar finished out of the podium in the first two races of the season finale of the Formula BMW Asia Series at the Zhuhai International Circuit yesterday.
Jazeman, bidding to become the first Malaysian and youngest ever winner of the Series, only had himself to blame for squandering the opportunity to pile up additional points in what turned out to be a dramatic day yesterday.
Jazeman started Race 19 from ninth on the grid but drove brilliantly to move up to fifth position after the fifth lap. But all his hard work came undone after Jazeman lost control while trying to overtake his CIMB Team Qi-Meritus team-mate James Grunwell.
Colombian Sebastian Saavedra of AO’s Racing won the 12-lap race in 20:32.446 ahead of Kyle Mitchell of South Africa, who finished in 20:41.383.
That was before Timothy Gladdis of AO’s Racing sparked a chain reaction when he rear-ended into the car in front of him and eventually led to seven cars taken out of the race.
Six laps had already been completed then and the race was immediately red flagged.
Jazeman eventually finished fifth behind the safety car but it was no consolation to the 14-year-old, who saw his championship lead whittled down to just 20 from 66 points previously.
Indonesia’s Zahir Ali of Singapore-based Team TARADTM is closest to Jazeman on second spot and 674 points.
Jazeman, who was seen walking away in frustration after his car came to a halt on the gravel in Race 19 earlier in the day, blamed himself for the outcome.
“I could have just stayed behind Zahir and that would be enough to get a good gap going in the standings. But I made the mistake of trying to move up and it’s all my fault,” said Jazeman, who has won eight races in the championship prior to Zhuhai.
Today will be another nerve-wracking day for Jazeman and the best he can do now is to learn from his mistake.
“It’s going to be another different day tomorrow. While I will go out and push hard, the fact is there are a lot of crazy drivers out there and I can only hope for the best.”
PETALING JAYA: Norizman Ismail established himself as a firm contender for the expert title in Round Nine of the Petronas Sprinta AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championships after setting the early pace at the Sepang International Circuit yesterday.
The Harian Metro SCK rider clocked 1:16.740 which was the fastest time in yesterday’s free practice session. Petronas Sprinta Raceline’s Ahmad Fuad Baharuddin was second fastest posting a time of 1:16.841.
Shell Advance Maju’s Ahmad Fazli Sham, who had already secured the overall expert title this season, came in third fastest clocking 1.17.143.
However, Norizman revealed that with the overall expert title already decided, the focus of his team has been shifted to his team-mate Affendi Rosli who is competing in the novice category.
“But I am not disappointed and I fully support my team manager’s decision. It is right that we should be pouring our resources into helping Affendi claim the novice title,” said Norizman.
Affendi did not disappoint as he clocked the fastest time of 1:25.782 during the free practice session in the novice category yesterday. Ali Imran Dawood of Motul KMC YY Pang and Elly Idzliaikmal Ilias of Petronas Sprinta Ah Hong were second and third fastest clocking 1:26.098 and 1:26.496 respectively.
Today’s race will start with the qualifying session at 10.15am. Tickets priced at RM10 can be purchased at the ticket counter of the Sepang International Circuit.
ZHUHAI: Jazeman Jaafar, 14, won the last two races in the season finale of the Formula BMW Asia Series here, becoming the first Malaysian to win the series.
Formula BMW Asia Series
Race 21 (12 laps): 1. Jazeman Jaafar (Mas) CIMB Team Qi-Meritus 20:35.308, 2. Sebastian Saavedra (Col) AO's Racing 20:41.222, 3. Kyle Mitchell (Rsa) Eurasia Motorsport 20:41.814, 4. Zahir Ali (Ina) Team TARADTM 20:42.223.
Race 22 (12 laps): 1. Jazeman Jaafar (Mas) CIMB Team Q-Meritus 26:14.024, 2. Jack Lemvard (Tha) CIMB Team Qi-Meritus 26:18.709, 3. Zahir Ali (Ina) Team TARADTM 26:19.502, 4. Kyle Mitchell (Rsa) Eurasia Motorsport 26:22.883.
Final driver standings:
1. Jazeman Jaafar (Mas) CIMB Team Q-Meritus 768, 2. Zahir Ali (Ina) Team TARADTM 716, 3. James Grunwell (Tha) CIMB Team Qi-Meritus 661, 4. Kyle Mitchell (Rsa) Eurasia Motorsport 603.5.
Final team standings:
1. CIMB Team Qi-Meritus 1.737, 2. Eurasia Motorsport 1,022, 3. Team Holzer PFX 1,001, 4. Team E-Rain 906.