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The British & Irish Lions’ final midweek game of their 2017 tour is shaping up to be a collector’s item. As things stand there are set to be only eight matches on the 2021 itinerary in South Africa to permit extra preparation time and to assist player welfare, with no further provincial Andrew Luck Womens Jersey fixtures once the Test series commences.
It potentially gives the management one less pre-Test headache but the consequences of shrinking the present 10-match schedule could be unexpectedly profound. Only five warm-up games and three Tests could mean a squad member outside the first-choice lineup featuring only twice in six weeks, with scant chance to stake a claim for Test recognition. The whole mass emotional buy-in, competitive buzz and shared brotherhood that makes a Lions tour so special risks being fatally compromised.
At some stage it will be fascinating to hear from the unused temporary cover players bussed in by Warren Gatland whether their experience proved entirely fulfilling. So far only Scotland’s Allan Dell has actually made it on to the pitch, with the other five – Kristian Dacey, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Gareth Davies and Finn Russell – still waiting to be officially classified as Lions. All are due to leave the squad after the fixture against the Hurricanes, having spent just over a week in a weird twilight zone, shadow Lions in practice but not in status.
While a shorter tour would lessen the need for such selectorial contortions in future, it might be an idea if the game’s power brokers approached players such as Courtney Lawes for their first-hand opinions. Lawes has been among the most forceful Lions forwards out here but an unlucky bang to the head against the Highlanders has left him playing a frustrating game of catch-up. Without this Cardinals Authentic Jersey Hurricanes game, or its equivalent, he would be reduced to holding tackle bags for the tour’s final fortnight.
As it is the Northampton forward still has an opportunity, if he grasps it, of featuring in the 23 for the second Test on Saturday when the Lions will need all the extra physicality they can muster in the starting lineup and on the bench.
That same theme was reinforced by the forwards coach Steve Borthwick and the centre Robbie Henshaw after the Lions’ captain’s run at Jerry Collins Stadium, the scenic ground just north of Wellington where the much-missed ex-All Black flanker started his club career. “We just need to take it to another level this week,” Henshaw said. “We all know we need to be better but we’ve got the players to do that. It’s an attitude more than an action and that mentality will be key.”
Henshaw also agrees with Gatland, that the match officials should keep a sharp eye out for opponents who target the exposed standing leg of his Irish team-mate Conor Murray after he puts up a box-kick. “If the guy’s clearly going for a block down and going for the ball and follows through and hits the player that’s not his fault,” Henshaw said. “But if he’s nowhere near the ball and he’s hit our guy off the ball, it needs to be looked at. The referees might look at it in detail and see but at the moment we’re OK about it. We know teams are going after our key players to put them under pressure and to try to shut them down.”
Last November’s rugged game between Ireland and the All Blacks in Dublin, when the 24-year-old’s participation was ended prematurely by a heavy tackle from Sam Cane, also underlined just how narrow the line is between legitimate force and unacceptable on-field behaviour. “We know how physical they are as a team, it’s a Test match,” Henshaw said. “For us, physicality is also one of the fundamental components in rugby. Everyone uses it in abundance. I don’t think they take it too far.
“Sometimes in the moment people may get their entry wrong, stick out an arm and hit someone high. It’s not intentional and people make mistakes but obviously it’s down to the officials what happens on the pitch and needs to be taken care of.”

cb|Emailogin / Didi Gregorius keeps getting better
« on: Today at 04:34:01 AM »
Didi Gregorius has improved yet again. He is a better offensive player than ever and steadier on defense.
His acquisition stands as one of the best of Brian Cashman’s tenure Cam Neely Jersey Womens Jersey because a) the cost was Shane Greene, who has turned into a good setup man for the Tigers, but you would turn a good setup man into a prime-aged shortstop 365 days a year; b) Gregorius has been cost-effective at a time when the Yankees are eyeballing payroll in a much more bottom-line way; and c) Gregorius has handled being the successor to Derek Jeter, who celebrated his 43rd birthday Monday.
Yet as good as Gregorius is — and he is probably the second-best overall Yankee after Aaron Judge — he pretty much has no chance of being an All-Star in 2017 and maybe ever unless there is a spate of injuries. That speaks to the quality at shortstop in the American League.
The AL voting totals were made public Monday for the last time before the team is announced over the weekend. Gregorius is in third, but he had half the votes of leader Carlos Correa and also trailed second-place Francisco Lindor by more than half a million votes.
Correa is 22 and Lindor is 23. Both have much higher profiles nationally than Gregorius has — Correa was a No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and Lindor was a breakout star during last year’s postseason.
But Gregorius’ chances of being an All-Star are hurt by more than that. This season, rather than 36 players per team, there will be 32, limiting the number of All-Star reserves. That also will curtail the number of Yankees who will be selected. Judge is a shoo-in, others such as Dellin Betances and Starlin Castro are likely, and Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner and Luis Severino are possibilities.
And then there is just the overall quality of shortstops in the AL, now and into the future.
Boston’s Xander Bogaerts is 24, and was tied with Houston’s Correa for the lead among AL shortstops in Fangraphs’ version of Wins Above Replacement while hitting .319.
Andrelton Simmons, like Gregorius a 27-year-old shortstop from Curacao, is generally considered the best defensive shortstop in the game, and is having his best offensive season with seven homers, 13 steals and a .280 average.
Seattle’s Jean Segura, also 27, is hitting .330. Texas’ Elvis Andrus, 28, has seven homers, 18 steals and is hitting .293.
None of these players is close to free agency, so you can see how Gregorius could excel and Francois Beauchemin Jersey never sniff an All-Star Game, though he is in the midst of a third straight season of raising his OPS by at least 50 points while convincing the Yankees to teach all of the talented shortstops in their system — such as Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade and Jorge Mateo — how to play another position. In addition, Gregorius has demonstrated his marked improvement against lefties last year was no fluke by hitting .364 with an .871 OPS off southpaws this year.
Because he missed the first month with a shoulder injury, Gregorius was still about a week to 10 days of at-bats away from qualifying for the batting title. But going into Monday, Gregorius is hitting .312 – only Segura and Bogaerts were better among AL shortstops. He has an .810 OPS – topped by Correa, Bogaerts and Segura, who because of injury also was just shy of qualifying for the batting tittle.
Perhaps most interesting was that in Fangraphs’ formula for defense, which relies heavily on range, Gregorius was the 10th-best fielder in the majors. Detroit’s Jose Iglesias was the only shortstop ahead of him, while Simmons was an eyelash behind him.
It all speaks to Gregorius growing into a star — though perhaps never an All-Star.

cb|GeSHi-mod / Mets’ sweep of awful Giants fool you into false hope
« on: June 26, 2017, 10:11:31 AM »
On the same day Tim Tebow was promoted to Single-A St. Lucie, they finished off a three-game sweep of the pitiful Giants with an 8-2 victory at AT&T Park on Sunday.
If not for the first leg of the trip and a four-game sweep at the hands of the mighty Dodgers, the Mets might be in a better mindset.
The Mets are in the patsies part of their schedule with an off-day Monday and then a three-game series against the Marlins in Miami, followed by a three-game series against the Phillies at Citi Field. They need to keep the sweeps Francisco Cervelli Youth Jersey going to have a chance to get back to .500.
Like the promotion of Tebow, a sweep of the Giants does not mean much. Now, at least, the Mets get to sell more Tebow jerseys in Florida. The biggest plus of the day were trade chips Jay Bruce bashing his 20th home run and Curtis Granderson his 10th, a splash shot into McCovey Cove.
As for the Mets 34-41 record, this is the bottom line.
Against the three teams leading their respective divisions in the National League — the Nationals, Brewers and Dodgers — and the one wild-card team they have faced — the Diamondbacks, they have yet to play the Rockies — the Mets’ record is 5-19.
That number tells you all you need to know about where the 2017 Mets stand.
They have five wins and 19 losses against teams that would make the postseason.
Bruce is a veteran who knows the score.
“We still need to play great baseball to have a chance,’’ Bruce said. “We just have to play well and see what happens.’’
Even on a day the Mets got some well-pitched innings by Rafael Montero and the first two home run game of catcher Rene Rivera’s career, there was an injury concern. Michael Conforto was drilled with a pitch on his left hand in the fifth and left the game an inning Adidas Brock Nelson Authentic Jersey later with a contusion. X-rays were negative. Conforto was in left field with Yoenis Cespedes getting the day off to rest his weary legs.
Injuries are part of the Mets and when Terry Collins was asked about the club’s injuries again he offered this: “We came into [last] season, Sports Illustrated had those five guys on the cover. I don’t even know where they all are right now.”
Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey are all down, of course.
The Mets are hoping Conforto is OK to play Tuesday because Collins was planning to give the red-hot Granderson the day off.
Injuries and terrible play have put the Mets in the hole they are in and they simply don’t measure up to the better teams. Most of the National League is mediocre at best and there truly are some dreadful teams such as the Giants, Padres and Phillies. The Mets went into action Sunday with a better record than only four teams, those three lost causes and the Reds.
If the Mets had not swept the Giants, who have fallen deeper into the abyss than the Mets after beating them in the wild-card game in October, that would have been an upset.
Asked what he views as Tebow’s ceiling, Alderson said, “I don’t think about his ceiling. There was a chance that he would completely bomb in spring training, that didn’t happen.’’
Tebow is now back in Florida where he is a living legend.
Alderson said Tebow has been “outstanding’’ in the clubhouse.
“There’s been nothing but positives and I expect that will continue at St. Lucie as well,” the GM said.
After the debacle in Los Angeles, Alderson and the Mets are looking for any positives, no matter how small, they can find these days.

cb|GeSHi-mod / Lewis Hamilton challenges Sebastian Vettel
« on: June 26, 2017, 05:52:48 AM »
Lewis Hamilton has branded his Formula One world championship rival Sebastian Vettel a disgrace after the German Dee Gordon Authentic Jersey deliberately drove into him at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Hamilton demanded that, if they are to clash, they should do so like “men” outside the car.
Hamilton’s Mercedes was leading the race in Baku and was behind the safety car just before the restart when Vettel’s Ferrari hit him from behind. An angry Vettel, believing Hamilton had braked deliberately and sparked the collision, then drew level and swerved into the side of the British driver’s car.
“Driving alongside and deliberately driving into a driver and getting away scot?free pretty much – he still came away with fourth – I think that’s a disgrace,” Hamilton said. “I think he disgraced himself today, to be honest.”
Hamilton finished one place back in fifth and said: “If he wants to prove that he’s a man, I think he should do it out of the car face to face. I think driving dangerously which can put another driver at risk – luckily we were going slow – but if we were going fast it could have been a lot worse. Imagine all the young kids that are watching Formula One today and see that kind of behaviour from a four-time world champion. I think that says it all.”
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Vettel insisted he had not been at fault, although the stewards gave him a 10?second stop-go penalty for dangerous driving. “It was quite obvious,” he said. “I didn’t run into the back of him on purpose. I damaged my wing, I think he had a little bit of damage as well. Nothing that would have impacted on the race. It’s just not the way to do it. I think it was very clear. In the end we’re racing as men. I don’t have a radio to him. If I get a penalty, then we should both get a penalty.”
He said he had not intended to hit Hamilton when he drew alongside him. “We had a little contact, but I drove alongside him mostly to raise my hand. I did not give him the finger. I just wanted to tell Adidas Cam Neely Authentic Jersey him, because I can’t literally talk to him, that what he did was not right.”
Hamilton strongly rejected the claim he had brake-tested the Ferrari driver. “I think it’s a misjudgment from him to blame it on the car in front,” he said. “Some people don’t like to own up to their own mistakes.”
This season is the first in which the two drivers have competed in closely matched cars in Formula One and up until now their relationship has been marked by a friendly, mutual respect. With Hamilton clearly aggrieved and Vettel having extended his title lead to 14 points, that may be hard to maintain over the next 12 meetings, given Hamilton’s scathing response.
“Ultimately what happened was disrespectful,” he said. “There are kids watching us on TV. You think a multi-time world champion would behave better than that. But we know that, when times get tough, true colours show. I really hope that kids don’t see that and think that is the right way. That is not how you drive.”
Ferrari’s team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, defended his driver. “We don’t want to get into an argument but I think I can say that some decisions that were not entirely clear never worked in favour of our team,” he said.
However, the Mercedes non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, was fiercely critical. “Vettel is a decent guy, normally,” the three-times world champion said. “This I don’t understand. He is crazy. Lewis will hit him one day. Not with the car but with the fist. If I was Lewis, I would speak to Sebastian and ask him what is wrong.”
Hamilton, however, clearly felt there was no need for further explanations. “There was no reason to pull alongside me at that point it was clear,” he said. “We are world champions, the best in the world, we don’t just swerve to the right.”

cb|Emailogin / Shikhar Dhawan Excels Before Rain Washes Out Opener
« on: June 24, 2017, 10:56:26 AM »
Former India off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna on Friday said if the Indian team captain feels he is the "boss" then the team can perform without a coach. Prasanna's comment when asked about the rift between Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble, who quit as Indian cricket Canadiens Jersey team coach recently. "Why do they require a coach, if the captain is the boss?" Prasanna asked. "I don't think they even need the services of batting or fielding coaches (Sanjay Bangar and R Sridhar)."
Prasanna also questioned Kohli's captaincy abilities.
"Kohli is undoubtedly a very good player but I do not know whether he is a good captain or not," he said.
Kumble quit as India coach in the aftermath of their Champions Trophy final loss to arch-rivals Pakistan, stating that Kohli had reservations about his coaching "style" and their partnership was "untenable".
Team India will be without a coach in the tour to the West Indies, where they are scheduled to play five ODIs and one-off T20 match starting at Port of Spain later on Friday.
"If a legendary cricketer like Anil Kumble is not respected, I do not think neither of them -- Bangar and Sridhar -- will have the guts to speak to Kohli in a confident way. None of them are as experienced like Kumble," Prasanna said.
"Just hire somebody for the physical training and that will be enough. If such is the attitude of a captain I don't think you require a coach," the 77-year-old said.
"We can go back to the good old days of appointing a manager to look after the logistics, if he (Kohli) takes up the responsibility. The role of a coach is not defined," he added.
Prasanna also said the time has come for India to look beyond old warhorses like Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"I don't think they will be able to continue till the next World Cup in 2019, they will be 38 then. We need fresh and young legs and players who are extremely agile," he said.
"Okay, Dhoni will be the wicketkeeper but Yuvraj is going to be a liability as a fielder. In fact, the selectors should have tried out more youngsters for this West Indies tour, as they are one of the weakest teams at the moment."
Prosecutors in Barcelona say they are not against replacing football star Lionel Messi's 21-month jail sentence for tax fraud with a fine, a spokeswoman announced on Friday.  They said they were willing to give the 29-year-old a fine of 400 euros ($450) a day for the duration of the Anthony Hitchens Womens Jersey sentence -- an option that the defence of the Argentina international has also proposed.
That would amount to more than 250,000 euros, although the court has the final decision over whether to go ahead with this option.
The daily fine would come on top of the 2.09-million-euro fine Messi was also given when he and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were found guilty of tax fraud in a trial last year and sentenced to 21 months in jail.
Both appealed, but Spain's Supreme Court last month confirmed the jail term for the Barcelona striker, although it reduced Messi's father's sentence to 15 months.
The pair used companies in Belize, Britain, Switzerland and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes on 4.16 million euros of Messi's income earned from his image rights from 2007-09.
The income related to Messi's image rights that was hidden includes endorsement Brandon Scherff Womens Jersey deals with Danone, Adidas, Pepsi- Cola, Procter & Gamble and the Kuwait Food Company.
Messi is not the only football star to run into problems with Spain's courts, with Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo the latest to have been summoned to appear before a judge investigating tax fraud.
He is due to be questioned on July 31 on suspicion of evading 14.7 million euros in taxes.
England batsman Jason Roy became the holder of a dubious record on Friday when he became the first batsman in Twenty20 International history to be given out for obstructing the field. The England opener etched his name into the record books during a T20I match between England and South Africa at the County Ground in Taunton. The incident happened in the 16th over of England's innings when Roy's teammate Liam Livingstone sent the ball towards backward point and asked for a single but changed his mind at the last moment.
Roy, while running back to the crease, changed his path and the throw from the fielder hit his boots. After the incident, South Africa players appealed and the on-field umpire asked for the help of the TV umpire.
After much deliberation Roy was given out, much to the dismay of the home fans.

cb|GeSHi-mod / Test-match animals can give All Blacks a fright
« on: June 24, 2017, 08:26:05 AM »
Those who query the Lions’ future would have been well advised to consult Owen Farrell on the eve of the first Test. As a player on his second Lions tour, about to face the sport’s ultimate challenge, the fly-half has seldom sounded more motivated. Top players relish big occasions and few come bigger than this.
From where Farrell sits all the players feel the same way; he thinks it is “very strange” some doubt the Lions concept. “When you see the hype around it, how much the players enjoy it and how much everybody involved loves it … it seems like everybody grips on to it when it’s happening so I don’t see why anything Authentic Al Montoya Womens Jersey negative is said about it. The buy-in and how much players look forward to it is huge.”
The glint in his eye, in short, is entirely unforced. Even as a rugby league-playing nine-year-old, Farrell remembers being struck by Brian O’Driscoll’s slaloming try in the first Test against Australia at the Gabba in 2001, the sea of red in the crowd and the general sense of special moments on the other side of the world.
Sixteen years later that thrill is still there, with the assistant coach Rob Howley optimistic about the squad’s chances on the eve of battle: “Test-match rugby is about winning and we feel we’ve got Test-match animals. The confidence of the players showed this morning in training. I think they believe they can win.”
For Farrell, as always, the roaring legends and memories will count for little. Opposite him will be Beauden Barrett, who is easily quick and talented enough to carve out his own slice of Dan Carter-style history. “It is exciting but what you’ve got to remember is not to play the occasion,” Farrell said. “It’s a game of rugby. You can’t be thinking what other people are thinking about or getting excited about external things. It has to be about the team and what we need to do to win. You obviously go into the game with a plan but things can change pretty quickly so you have to be prepared.”
Having earned the nod at No10 ahead of his one-time mentor Johnny Sexton, he is also not about to start fretting about the All Blacks’ 23-year-long unbeaten record at Eden Park. “They’re a fantastic team and they’ve got a fantastic record, especially over here; no one is questioning that.
“But if you go in thinking about past games, you’re thinking about stuff that probably doesn’t matter. You’re trying to convince yourself rather than just playing what’s ahead of you. You are better off doing your preparation then forgetting about it and going in with a clear mind; that allows you to see what’s in front of you. In attack you want to play to the space, whether that be kicking, running or passing. You have to make decisions Barry Church Jersey constantly; if you are making good ones throughout the game, then hopefully you are doing your job right.”
Somewhere beneath the stern game face and narrow-eyed stare at distant goalposts, even so, will be a sizeable measure of family pride. With father Andy in charge of the aggressive defence system that has become such a feature of the Lions’ trip, the All Blacks will be extremely familiar with the Farrell mind-set by the end of this tour.
For Owen only the Father’s Day messages sent by other team-mates to their dads were a slight source of embarrassment. “I didn’t know when to say it to him because I didn’t want to say it in front of anyone else. Everybody got some video messages but they didn’t ask me to do one so I was a bit gutted about that. I don’t think I’ve spoke to him this tour as my dad.” So, no big match  father-son pep talk? “I’ve never had one before, so no!”
As ever in the Farrell family, winning is what matters.
The Lions will not revise their interactions with fans after the tour manager John Spencer was abused and assaulted in an Auckland restaurant. Spencer said he was accosted at a city centre venue called The Depot on Thursday night. A fellow diner asked for a photograph but a New Zealander became aggressive, abusing and shoving the 69-year-old. Spencer pushed the man Barry Church Womens Jersey away and asked to be left alone. The Lions have not made any complaint, and remain disappointed but unfazed by the incident.
“I’ve spoken to John, it’s an isolated, disappointing incident,” Howley said. “We’ve had a fantastic welcome, the New Zealand public have been fantastic with their welcome. “Unfortunately in sport there’s always a minority, it’s not the majority, but the experiences and welcomes we’ve had have been quite unbelievable.”
The Lions will start the three-Test series with New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday, with thousands of fans flooding into Auckland for the fixture. Howley said the one-off incident with Spencer will not knock the Lions off their stride.
“The New Zealand public have embraced us,” he said. “It was only last night we went out to the Viaduct [a waterfront entertainment complex] as a squad and management and we had a lot of Kiwis coming up to us. There’s been banter but that’s all part of it. But coming back to John, it’s an isolated incident, and it’s the minority, not the majority.”

cb|Emailogin / Porzingis is still a Knick
« on: June 23, 2017, 10:15:33 AM »
So the sky didn’t fall on Madison Square Garden Thursday evening, and cooler heads prevailed. The Knicks weren’t able to pull off a heist, and neither were they snookered into a bad trade. There will be no charts and graphs recalling Bill Russell for Easy Ed Macauley, or Joe Barry Carroll for Robert Avalanche Womens Jersey Parrish and Kevin McHale.
Danny Ainge, Red Auerbach’s spiritual descendant, left the Knicks alone.
So now Knicks fans will turn their lonely eyes toward Frank Ntilikina, the Belgian-born French league point guard who probably will become their best defender on the day he shows up — though that’s not exactly a high bar — and is very much a cornerstone of who and what the Knicks hope to be in the next few years.
The 7-foot-3 purple elephant in the room, of course, was nowhere near the room. He was 4,200 miles away in his native Latvia. It was just past 3 o’clock in the morning in Latvia when the Knicks selected Ntilikina. We’ll assume Porzingis woke up to that bit of news.
If it seems like his world is every bit the same as it was when he went to bed Thursday night, though, Porzingis is mistaken.
It’s funny what happens when you spend a couple of days as the object of trade talks. Most Knicks fans wanted him to stay. Some were open to a deal. Neither was right, neither was wrong, and as it turned out neither had to fret. A deal didn’t happen.
Now, he has to decide what he is going to be.
Now, he has to show he truly is worth all the hand-wringing and all the saloon back-and-forth and all the water-cooler banter, that he indeed is the franchise player the Knicks believe he can be, that the world of potential that he has teased and taunted with from the start of his rookie season truly is something the Knicks can bank on.
Jackson was reluctant to talk about Porzingis (or Carmelo Anthony, or Derrick Rose, or any other player that had been property of the Knicks for longer than half an hour) and that was understandable because absent trading him, the Knicks president has a whole summer and beyond to ponder Porzingis, to wonder Bryan Rust Authentic Jersey about him, to fret about who he is and what he can become.
Keeping him here sends a wordless message anyway: The Knicks still plan on building whatever they will build around him, even if Anthony happens to still be on the roster when camp opens. That’s how it should be. And now Porzingis has to deliver for real on his early speed, on his early promise. That’s how it should be, too.
The player to whom Porzingis is most closely linked, Dirk Nowitzki, took his first great leap as a third-year player, averaging 21.8 points (first of 12 straight years he topped 20-plus) and 9.2 rebounds. There was still plenty of room for improvement, and improve Nowitzki would. But it was in 2000-2001 — his age-22 season — that we first saw for real what Nowitzki would be.
This will be Porzingis’ age-22 season, too (his birthday is in August). If the Barclays Center filled with boos two years ago when the Knicks selected him with the No. 4 pick, there were plenty of Knicks fans who wore No. 6 jerseys to Brooklyn Thursday hoping they wouldn’t be headed for the bottom of a drawer in the attic.
The reaction when Adam Silver read Ntilikina’s name could best be described as relief. If some Knicks fans might’ve preferred they go with Malik Monk, who was still available? That all will be determined across the next few years. The Knicks didn’t hit the home run they might’ve dreamed of by agreeing to field offers for Porzingis.
But they didn’t strike out, either. Porzingis is still a Knick.
Most Knicks fans seem happy about it. Now it’s time for him to justify that faith for real. If he’s going to behave like a big-timer, blowing off his exit interview?
Time for him to play like a big-timer. Starting now.

cb|GeSHi-mod / Sanctity Of Dressing Room Should Be Maintained
« on: June 23, 2017, 05:26:33 AM »
India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday responded to former coach Anil Kumble’s observations about why he quit the post of head coach and said that while the players respect him, the sanctity of the dressing room needs to be maintained. The Indian skipper said that the happenings of the team Adam Vinatieri Authentic Jersey dressing room is sacred and private. "Anil bhai has expressed his views and he has taken a decision to step out and we all respect that decision. It's something that has happened right after the tournament," Kohli said from Trinidad in the pre-match press conference.
"One thing for sure is that I have had 11 press conferences that have happened during the Champions Trophy. We have created a culture over the last 3-4 years that whatever happens in the change room, we have tried to maintain the sanctity of the change room throughout. That is what the whole team believes in. For us that is paramount," he further added.
"Like I said, for me what's most important is to maintain the sanctity of the dressing-room and what happens in the change-room is something that's very sacred and private to all of us.
"... And something that I would not express in details in a public scenario. As I said, his point of view is out there and we respect that decision."
Kumble resigned after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to not renew his one-year contract and invited fresh applications for the top post. While the board had extended his contract till the end of the West Indies series, beginning on Friday, Kumble pulled out after the team had left for the Caribbean and tweeted his reasons for resigning.
Kumble, who was appointed as the head coach last year, has had a good run. Under his guidance, India won 10 out of the 13 home Tests with two draws and a single defeat. India also won a Test series comprehensively in the West Indies.
Kumble's contract as the head coach of the Indian team ended on Tuesday after the ICC Champions Trophy and he was not interested in an extension. Hours after resigning, the former India captain put out a statement on Twitter and wrote, "the captain had reservations with my 'style'... In light of these 'reservations' I believe it is best I hand over this responsibility to whomever the CAC and BCCI deem fit."
Sources had earlier told NDTV that skipper Kohli was "not ready to budge", from his position on Kumble and that "coach-captain relationship was 'irreparable'."
The situation had snowballed just prior to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 with the BCCI issuing a press Adrian Wilson Jersey release, asking for applications for the post of head coach for the Indian men's cricket team
India face the West Indies in the first of the five ODIs on Friday. But the start of the series has been overshadowed by Kumble's resignation and the reasons he gave for the decision.
Thursday deleted his tweet of 2016, welcoming as coach of the Indian team. Kumble, who resigned as Team India head coach on Tuesday, had taken over as coach in June last year. He resigned after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to not renew his one-year contract and invited fresh applications for the top post. While the board had extended his contract till the end of the West Indies series, beginning on Friday, Kumble pulled out after the team had left for the Caribbean and tweeted his reasons for resigning.
Kohli, in his welcome tweet dated June 23, 20016, had said: "Heartiest welcome to @anilkumble1074 Sir. Look forward to your tenure with us. Great things in store for Indian Cricket with you,"
Kumble, who was appointed as the head coach last year, has had a good run. Under his guidance, India won 10 out of the 13 home Tests with two draws and a single defeat. India also won a Test series comprehensively in the West Indies.
Kumble's contract as the head coach of the Indian team ended on Tuesday after the ICC Champions Trophy and he was not interested in an extension. Hours after resigning, the former India captain put out a statement on Twitter and wrote, "the captain had reservations with my 'style'... In light of these 'reservations' I believe it is best I hand over this responsibility to whomever the CAC and BCCI deem fit."
Sources had earlier told NDTV that skipper Virat Kohli was "not ready to budge", from his position on Kumble and that "coach-captain relationship was 'irreparable'."
The situation had snowballed just prior to the ICC Champion Trophy with the BCCI issuing a press release, asking for applications for the post of head coach for the Indian men's cricket team

French point guard Frank Ntilikina met with team president Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and coach Jeff Hornacek at a restaurant next to the Garden on Wednesday morning.
Later, Ntilikina, an 18-year-old point guard fresh off a plane from Paris and the French league finals, attended a pre-draft press conference in Midtown, where he said to finally be part of the draft process is “a dream come true.’’
The NBA draft is finally here, and the Knicks’ dream would be netting their point guard of the future Thursday night.
Other potential Knicks picks Dennis Smith Jr., N.C. State’s freshman point-guard stud, and Malik Monk, Kentucky’s freshman combo guard, also talked up the Knicks during the press conference, though combo guard Donovan Mitchell, a Westchester Bilal Powell Womens Jersey product, did not attend.
Mitchell, whose defense has the Knicks intrigued, had his workout with the Knicks pushed from Tuesday to Wednesday.
League sources believe it comes down to Ntilikina and Monk, if the latter drops. There’s a clear division within the organization. Monk, a 6-foot-3 sharpshooter, played only shooting guard in college, but perhaps can become a lead guard in the Knicks’ triangle offense.
Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis was back in Latvia, bewildered by a sudden spate of trade rumors. A league source told The Post that the Knicks want a top-4 pick and a significant asset for Porzingis — lofty demands expected to go unfulfilled, despite a flood of phone calls from teams.
“They’re not moving him,’’ the league source said.
The Vertical reported Wednesday if the Knicks move into the top four they’d target two-way small forward Josh Jackson of Kansas. The Post reported on March 27 the Knicks may not take a point guard if they move up in the lottery because of their heavy interest in Jackson as Carmelo Anthony’s replacement. The Jayhawks’ freshman told The Post on Wednesday he hadn’t worked out with the Knicks. The Knicks likely would then take Arizona 7-foot center Lauri Markkenen, if he’s available, with their eighth pick as Porzingis’ replacement.
Phoenix, at No. 4, and Boston, No. 3, engaged the Knicks, who reportedly asked for the fourth pick and either shooting guard Devin Booker or small forward Marquese Chriss.
The Knicks don’t have a point guard under contract for next season  other than little-used rookie Chasson Randle. Derrick Rose is a free agent; Ron Baker a restricted free agent.
“It’s crazy,’’ Monk said of New York. “It’s a lot different from Arkansas. I like playing anywhere, but it would be nice here, too. Every night, high emotions, walking into a packed house and legendary building.’’
Ntilikina is 18 and may take longer to adjust. His 6-5 size, 7-foot wingspan, defensive prowess and pass-first game gives him a higher upside. Mills and top advisor Clarence Gaines scouted him closely in France, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that Jackson Alexander Mogilny Youth Jersey finally got to interview him. Ntilikina flew to Newark on Tuesday, though his Strasbourg team is still playing in the French league finals.
“They just wanted to know how I am as a man and how my season went,” Ntilikina said. “It was great meeting him. We talked about a lot of things about the game and who I am.’’
As a triangle fit, Ntilikina blends better than Smith, reputed more for flashy dunks and 1-on-1 play. Jackson has said he’s looking more for team players/defenders than super athletes, and Gaines, according to a source, is a fan of Ntilikina, even if some of the scouts prefer Monk and Smith. Gaines was largely behind the Porzingis pick two years ago.
“The system is a good system for me,’’ Ntilikina said. “I think I could play in it. The organization is very good. I think the game I play with my teammates back in France is very similar to this game. It would be great to be here with its big history.
“First, [I’m a] good defensive player. And on offense, I’m a team player, I want to give a lot to the team, make my teammates better. I think I can score, I can pass it, play pick-and-roll, shoot it.”
The Mavericks want Ntilikina and have talked to the Timberwolves about moving to No. 7 to get him. Knicks president Phil Jackson said on MSG Network Wednesday night “volatility’’ in the draft could make his team “change’’ course.
Ntilikina will return to France for Friday’s decisive Game 5, chartering a flight at 2 a.m. after the draft.
“It’s been different, but not difficult,’’ Ntilikina said. “I’m playing for championships — that’s what we play for. That’s the city [Strasbourg] where I grew up.’’
Smith’s college coach, Mark Gottfried, said Smith has Russell Westbrook “athleticism,” and Smith, who said he is aiming to “win more games and win Rookie of the Year,’’ didn’t shy away from the lofty comparison. “I think it’s a fair assessment,’’ Smith said.
However, Smith’s stock dropped because of North Carolina State’s struggles as the Wolfpack finished 15-17.
As for fitting into the triangle, Smith said, “It would be fine with me. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, they played in that system, they thrived in it. That’s two of the greatest players we’ve ever seen. I believe I can do the same thing.”
“In the first 12 or 14 picks, you are going to get a good player and a starter,’’ Jackson said. “… Maybe not to begin. An 18-, 19-year-old body isn’t ready for it. The intensity, duration, physicality, but we hope to get a productive player.”

Site and MOD Comments / Ritish &Lrish Lions have gone for a side
« on: June 22, 2017, 08:20:54 AM »
It is so long since the All Blacks lost a Test at Eden Park that Maro Itoje was not even born the last time it happened. In July 1994 Wet Wet Wet were at No1 in the UK singles charts with Love Is All Around and rugby union was still, officially, an amateur Dee Gordon Youth Jersey game. Should the British & Irish Lions win in Auckland on Saturday it really will be a special achievement.
For Lions fans in search of omens 23 years on, it could scarcely be any wetter across New Zealand’s north island than it is right now. They should also be encouraged by the side Warren Gatland has chosen: this is one that will not mind a greasy ball and has a notably hard, cussed look to it.
Picking Liam Williams at full-back and Alun Wyn Jones at lock has merely enhanced its no-nonsense physical edge, with Peter O’Mahony’s appointment as the captain further reinforcing the theme. Not starting Itoje is clearly a big call but his impact from the bench will be significant. As for Elliot Daly on the wing ahead of George North, and Owen Farrell at 10, it hardly confounds the evidence of this tour to date.
Rowntree also reckons O’Mahony would show equal commitment whether he was leading out the Lions or sitting on the midweek bench. “He’s exactly the character you need – a guy who would get on with things if he wasn’t involved in the Test squad.”
Does he ever relax? “Off the field you don’t see him growling at people in the dining room,” Rowntree said. “You need guys who can flick in and out of intensity and he has got that. This is as intense a gig as I have ever done. We seem to have been in 100 hotels in the last week. You need to switch off.”
The matchday squad as a whole will certainly not take a backward step and should add up to more than the sum of its parts. In isolation, for example, New Zealanders will probably regard Jamie George, George Kruis, Jones, Itoje and O’Mahony as inferior to their All Black equivalents. Together, however, they could just hold the key to the Test should the Lions lineout players do more than simply hold their own.
In 2005 the lineout collapsed completely in the first Test; they lost five of their own before half-time partly as a consequence of a belated change to their calls because of fears the All Blacks had cracked the codes. This time Kruis, George and Itoje have the advantage of playing Adidas Brock Nelson Womens Jersey together for Saracens, the European champions.
Kruis and his mentor, Steve Borthwick, reckon New Zealand will struggle to unravel their secrets this time. “The idea is to create a system that is tough to recognise and durable under any circumstance,” Kruis said. “Once you’ve analysed the opposition you tweak it but we’ve shown we’re there or thereabouts. I hope we don’t have to change our calls.”
The England forward has also been doing some intensive homework. “If you look at the stats, they’re the best in attack and second best in defence. We know they’ve got five or six good jumpers in the line. Good teams have come down here and won the ball but not provided great delivery to theirs nines and 10s. We want to be a great team and win ball and get good delivery.”
It should also concern the All Blacks that the Lions have Borthwick involved. Nobody does a more painstaking amount of homework than the former England captain and the mind spools back to Japan’s famous 2015 World Cup win over South Africa in Brighton. That was a supposedly Bruins Youth Jersey impossible assignment, just like this one, and had Borthwick’s technical fingerprints all over it.
It may be among the reasons why the All Blacks are rushing Kieran Read straight back into the Test arena following his prolonged absence with a broken thumb.
“In Kieran Read they have a brilliant caller, someone who identifies space incredibly well,” Borthwick said.
“That combination of Brodie Retallick, Read and Whitelock works very well together …they’ve been the best in the world for the last few years.”
For all that, Borthwick does not rate New Zealand as unbreakable. Asked if they could be put under pressure by the players at the Lions’ disposal his reply was instant. “Yes, but we’ve got to be smart and we’ve got to be able to adapt while we’re on the pitch. Play at one end of the spectrum and people know what you’re going to do. You’ve got to be able to move along that.”
Right there is the Lions’ big challenge; to keep the All Blacks guessing. Gatland’s men have the ability to do precisely that.

cb|Emailogin / A losing streak is a spotlight
« on: June 22, 2017, 04:19:37 AM »
The Yankees have had a first base issue throughout this season with Greg Bird’s struggles perhaps due to injury, his extended absence due to injury and Chris Carter’s inability to do enough of what he excels at (hitting homers) to overshadow what he does not (pretty much everything else).
For most of this season, the Yankees navigated around the deficiency. But as they carried the anvil of a seven-game losing streak into Wednesday night’s game against the Angels, tolerance of the worst production at first Bill Lee Youth Jersey base in the majors now resided between excruciating and intolerable.
Brian Cashman insisted he will “not be pressured doing something” because the fans and media are currently chanting ABC — Anyone But Carter. He does not feel there is a better option readily available.
Bird had another cortisone shot in his ankle and the hope is — if all goes well — he could return in about two weeks. But Bird has yet to show he is a quick healer … or really much of a healer at all.
Tyler Austin has hit well in the minors, but his swing-and-miss rate at Triple-A is actually worse than Carter’s in the majors, which makes the Yankees concerned about hitting well in the majors.
Matt Holliday started at first base Wednesday for the seventh time this year, but Joe Girardi expressed concern that overplaying the 37-year-old there would risk his health and, thus, his bat, which is his most valuable asset.
Cashman expressed no interest in veteran stopgaps who could be landed, such as James Loney or Chris Parmelee. And the trade season for real replacements has not galvanized yet, and it is not a market the Yankees want to jump into unless they know Bird is not coming back this year.
“Do I think right now we’re better served with Chris Carter [as the regular first baseman]? The answer to that is ‘yes,’” Cashman said. “At some point, if something obviously presents itself, then we’ll adjust and deal with that.”
A credible argument can be made that the Yanks’ No. 1 problem during their losing streak has been the frail bridge between starter and end game. Fine. First base is then No. 1A. For it is one thing to sacrifice defense for offense or vice versa, but the scarcity of both has me wondering if Lyle Overbay is available. (By the way, I am not wondering if Lyle Overbay is available.)
But I am wondering if Chase Headley — not long ago the most booed man at Yankee Stadium (now see Carter, Chris or Clippard, Tyler) — might provide a bit of a solution. Could the Yanks use Headley at first with Carter or Austin and promote Tyler Wade to play Authentic Ian Desmond Womens Jersey third in conjunction with Torres when Headley is at first?
Cashman said it is not a scenario that has presented itself internally. Wade does not have a ton of experience at third base, but the anticipation is with Gleyber Torres now out for the season that he will get more regular time there. The Yankees also have concerns that Wade might rush a bit too much on defense and needs more reps in the minors. Plus, he would necessitate a 40-man roster spot at a time when those are precious to the Yankees.
So for now, Carter remains the primary first baseman. But the click is clearly ticking. After Carter committed a key error Tuesday night and had another empty offensive night, Girardi, who normally will defend his players publicly even at obvious time for criticism, would only explain that Carter was playing because “that’s what we have.”
Then on Wednesday Girardi cited “organizational decision” a few times to explain why Austin or someone else has not been summoned. At one point he asked for “a timeout” in why Carter is here and followed with, “I manage the players they give me. That is a question for Brian.”
For now, Cashman is sticking with Carter, who says his offensive problems are a matter of poor timing at the plate. But his timing to keep a roster spot through the travails is actually perfect. Bird is hurt, Austin is Adeiny Hechavarria Youth Jersey swinging and missing, Holliday is baseball old.
Cashman still sees Carter as the best of a bunch of bad options as the Yanks keep hopes up that the brittle Bird soon will be back. But Carter still is running out of time. Hit or exit. Tick-tock.

General SMF discussion / Then Anil Kumble Wasn't The Man
« on: June 21, 2017, 10:58:19 AM »
Tactics are an integral part of any campaign and cricket is no different. A lot of planning and plotting goes into making a successful team and the timing of the moves often make the difference between success and failure. Former India captain and now also former coach, Anil Kumble, in one sweeping move, proved that current India skipper Virat Kohli still has a lot to learn Authentic Texans Womens Jersey about strategy and timing. The issue of differences between Kumble and Kohli spawned just before the ICC Champions Trophy, and while everyone - ranging from former players to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials to even Kohli had something to say on this, Kumble kept stoically silent throughout the period.
There were only some whispers and conjecture that he may not continue with the team, and even those quietened down once BCCI declared that Kumble would go to the West Indies with the team.
The first sign of life from the former leg-spinner came when there were reports that he would not be flying out with the team headed for the Caribbean. But even then, there was an excuse of the International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting.
The astute captain and coach in Kumble waited till the team had taken off and were well away in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean before let off the bombshell in the shape of a well-considered and prepared statement.
Even then, he did not call a press conference or leave himself open to questions. At the same time, he was categorical in his criticism of Kohli.
The timing was perfect in the sense that even if Kohli wanted to respond, he would only be able to do so once he reached the West Indies, a good 10 hours' flying time away, and then some.
By that time, public opinion would be formed and cemented.
The master tactician bowled a great over, which left even a great batsman like Kohli struggling for timing.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar came down heavily on reports suggesting that Anil Kumble was a hard taskmaster and that didn't go down well with some of the Indian players. Speaking exclusively to NDTV on Tuesday, Gavaskar said, "So you want softies. You want somebody to just tell you, 'ok boys, don't practice today because you guys are not feeling well, ok take a holiday, go shopping'. You want that kind of a person. If somebody is a hard taskmaster and he has got you results like Anil Kumble has got over the last one year. If any of the players are complaining, I feel those players are the ones who should be left out of the team."
Gavaskar minced no words. "Because honestly, what Anil Kumble has achieved for India as a player and what he has Authentic Alex Burrows Womens Jersey achieved for India over the last one year, has been nothing short of phenomenal. So I would rather not have Anil Kumble being maligned or being bad-mouthed as a hard taskmaster or his headmasterly approach for what I have been reading in the papers.
"But what this is sending a signal for the next coach is either bow down to what the players want you to do, otherwise you, like one of India's cricket legends Anil Kumble, you will have to step down and that is a sad, sad, sad message," added Gavaskar.
Asked about Kumble decision to step down and whether it meant Virat Kohli sent negative signals, Gavaskar said, "Once the CAC (the Cricket Advisory Committee) had given its ok, I would have thought that Anil would carry on. I have very little idea about the differences between the two (Kohli and Kumble), if at all there were any differences, but it is a sad day because he has been one of the greatest cricketers that India has produced and for him to not want to do the job for whatever reason, and perhaps he might come up with the reasons over the next couple of days but that is really sad for Indian cricket."
Elaborating on the differences between the two, Gavaskar went on to add, "There will always be differences in a group of more than two or three people. That's bound to happen when you are in a tense situation... India has won everything since the time Anil took over. I can't see Kumble doing much wrong in one year and the only reason this kind of a day has come is clearly because there has to be something which didn't quite gel in that group."
As to who would take over as the next India coach, Gavaskar said," I don't know who will fill his shoes. Maybe for the moment in the West Indies, you will just have somebody like a Sanjay Bangar who is very well respected in the team to take over because it is a short trip but before India goes to Sri Lanka, the coach has to be appointed. It could well be Sanjay Bangar again, although he has not thrown his hat in the ring. Because he has got the experience of coaching. It is for the CAC to take a call on that."¬e=59738

cb|Emailogin / Yankees fall pen flops again in 7th straight loss
« on: June 21, 2017, 10:05:53 AM »
The Yankees finally made it back to The Bronx after their nightmarish West Coast trip, but the bullpen issues and losses followed them home.
Thanks to another rough outing by Tyler Clippard, the Yankees dropped their seventh straight game, 8-3, to the Angels. It’s their longest single-season losing streak in a decade and coupled with Boston’s win in Kansas City, knocked them out of first Alexander Mogilny Womens Jersey place for the first time since May 21.
“I think you find out a lot about the makeup of your club when you going through tough times,” manager Joe Girardi said. “A lot of times you find out more during these times than when things are going well.”
Right now, Girardi needs to find out what’s wrong with his bullpen, which had performed well for much of the year until this recent downturn.
It was highlighted again on Tuesday after the Yankees climbed back from a 3-0 deficit with homers by Aaron Judge in the fifth and Gary Sanchez in the sixth.
Clippard opened the seventh by hanging a changeup to Cameron Maybin, who belted a go-ahead homer to give the Angels the lead. Kole Calhoun followed with a double to the gap in right-center and after Albert Pujols sent a ball to the track in center, Yunel Escobar hit a triple off the wall in left that Brett Gardner couldn’t quite get to.
Clippard pitched to four batters and all of them hit him hard.
The right-hander, who pitched well for the first two months of the season, has been a disaster lately. In his last seven appearances, the right-hander has given up six earned runs — and three homers — in just 5 2/? innings.
Girardi wouldn’t guarantee that Clippard would retain his setup role to get the ball to Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. Clippard blamed his performance on “poor pitch selection, poor execution” and didn’t think getting bumped would make a difference.
“Those are situations I’ve always pitched in my whole career,” Clippard said. “Nothing’s gonna change as far as my approach. … It’s up to me to pick myself up. We all have to do that. We’re in a little bit of a rut right now and we’ve got to get out of it.”
The manager is pinning his hopes on the return of Adam Warren from a shoulder Akeem Dent Jersey injury, but he isn’t expected to play catch until Friday.
“We’ll get it ironed out,’’ Girardi said. “These guys have had too much success. [Clippard] has had too much success for this to continue, but right now it’s a struggle.”
The late-inning fireworks wasted a comeback after Michael Pineda fell behind 3-0 in the second inning, unable to find his command.
Pineda was also hurt by a two-base error by first baseman Chris Carter to start the second, which led to a pair of unearned runs.
The Yankees began to chip away against Anaheim right-hander Parker Bridwell in the fourth with a Chase Headley sacrifice fly.
Sanchez tied the game with a line-drive homer to right with one out in the sixth, but the good feelings didn’t last long at Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees had beaten the Angels nine straight times.
Instead, they’ve turned their recent six-game winning streak into a distant memory — and they suddenly find themselves looking up to Boston.
“We’ve got to catch them now,” Girardi said of the Red Sox. “There’s a long ways to go, but we need to play better.”
And he remained confident they would.
“I don’t think the first [61] games were an accident,” Girardi said of the team’s record before the losing streak. “We played pretty well in those games. Every team goes through rough periods. I like that club in there and I’ve liked it from the beginning and I still do.”

cb|GeSHi-mod / Konta battles back from Birmingham blip
« on: June 21, 2017, 05:53:36 AM »
looked some way removed from the greatest champion this tournament has ever had when the late substitute Jordan Thompson dumped the world No1 out of the Aegon Championships in the first round on another sweltering day of upsets, mishaps and drama.
The 23-year-old Australian, ranked 90 in the world and drafted in as a lucky loser Bobby Orr Jersey Authentic Jersey when Aljaz Bedene withdrew in the morning of day two with a recurrence of a wrist injury, trusted his talent and stuck to a solid grasscourt game behind a big serve on his way to winning 7-6, 6-2 in an hour and 43 minutes. His finishing stroke was his 12th ace.
This was the first time in 137 matches in which Murray failed to break serve. His forehand also found the net more regularly than a North Sea pilchard but there could be no question the Sydneysider deserved what he rightly described as the biggest win of his career.
He said: “I was just trying to keep composed and land as many first serves as possible. I definitely wasn’t the favourite out there. First-serve percentage was key, Andy’s a great returner. I wanted to push forward as much as possible. You can’t trade from the baseline with Andy. I wouldn’t say this is my favourite surface. I like the blue hard-courts of Australia.”
It was a minor calamity for Murray a fortnight before he goes to Wimbledon to defend his title. If there was a glimmer of consolation it might have been the fact the French Open finalist Stan Wawrinka also went out in the first round, lifting the absent Novak Djokovic to No2 seed at Wimbledon. That will keep Djokovic and Murray apart until the final – if either of them get that far. The world No32, Feliciano López, shared 32 aces with Wawrinka over an hour and half to win 7-6, 7-5.
Murray’s critique of his own match captured the essence of the defeat. “The first set there was not much in it. I made some mistakes in the middle of the tie-break, which gifted it to him. From 3-2, I served a double fault and then played a poor drop-shot on the 30-all point. That wasn’t a great of period of the match for me.
“And then in the second set I had a love-40 game, didn’t get it, got broken soon after that. The game where I got broken to go double-break down, there were some pretty good points in that, some grass-court points where it can go either way. But I didn’t create loads of chances really. I didn’t return particularly well. He served big. He served well.”
Murray did not get off to a blistering start, taking 10 minutes to hold serve, but Thompson could not cash in on a double-fault and three chances to break. By the time they got to the tie-break a fourth Murray double-fault and Thompson’s eighth ace made the difference.
“He returned very well,” Ward said. “He served to the lines and didn’t give me much chance. There were times in the last eight, nine months that I thought I might not be able to play again because I had so much pain in my knee. So, for me, [just playing] is a bonus.”
The first shock of the day was the elimination of 2016 finalist Milos Raonic, who found the returning Australian Adam Foote Youth Jersey prospect Thanasi Kokkinakis too strong in the key points of two tie-breakers. Kokkinakis, still troubled by shoulder pain that had kept him off the Tour for 18 months, said: “Best win of my career and to do it so soon after coming back on such a long layoff is a huge confidence booster.”
Liam Broady was reinstated in the draw as another lucky loser after the Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert withdrew with a back injury, but he lasted only an hour and a quarter against Jérémy Chardy, who won 6-4, 6-4. There was little between them, though. Broady saved four of seven break points before the power of his opponent’s serve told.
Dan Evans’s hopes of playing at Wimbledon look slim. He withdrew from Eastbourne on Tuesday, two weeks after pulling a calf muscle at Surbiton and one week after being seen on crutches at Nottingham.
In Halle, Roger Federer bounced back from his defeat to Tommy Haas in Stuttgart last week by beating Japan’s world No66, Yuichi Sugita, 6-3, 6-1 in only 52 minutes. In the second round, he will play Germany’s Mischa Zverev, who beat the qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4.
The British No1 had little time to adjust to the courts at the Edgbaston Priory Club after reaching the final of the Nottingham Open on Sunday. There she suffered a shock loss to Donna Vekic, and the world No7 was in trouble again when she trailed 5-2 against Ukraine’s Tsurenko in the second set. But Konta won three games in a row and then took her third match point in the tie-break to win 6-3, 7-6.
In the second round Konta will face the big-serving American Coco Vandeweghe, who defeated Christina McHale 6-4, 6-2. The Briton has faced Vandeweghe twice before, with Konta victorious on both occasions, but this will be their first meeting in five years, and the first match between them on grass.
“She’s a very big player,” Konta said. “She’s got a lot of firepower, a lot of weapons. And I know she enjoys the grass.” Vandeweghe, the world No30, reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon two years ago and the fourth round last year, and she was a semi-finalist at this year’s Australian Open, where she lost to Venus Williams.
Petra Kvitova marked her return to grass with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over her fellow Czech Tereza penguins Youth Jersey Smitkova. The two-time Wimbledon champion was a wildcard entrant into the tournament after making a quicker-than-expected recovery from the serious hand injuries she suffered when she was stabbed by an intruder six months ago. She made her comeback at the French Open, losing in two tight sets in the second round. She said: “I’m glad that now I can focus on tennis, especially on the grass.”
The 27-year-old, who next meets Britain’s Naomi Broady, was content with both her performance and the condition of her hand. She added: “I had good timing on the court today and I’m happy with the way I played. We are still worried about the hand, so we are not practising that much. We still have days off to work on my hand, and it was very good today.”

Zack Wheeler’s return to prominence was fun while it lasted, but now he’s another wayward Mets starting pitcher gasping for oxygen.
In a city in which it seldom rains, Wheeler was alone on the mound Monday cascaded by his own personal San Jose Sharks Jersey downpour. And as valiantly as the Mets tried, they couldn’t recover against Clayton Kershaw in a 10-6 loss to the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine.
Jose Reyes (twice), Jay Bruce and Gavin Cecchini all homered against Kershaw after Wheeler had surrendered seven runs in the first two innings, but it still ended in a fourth loss in five games for the Mets, who fell seven games below .500, matching their previous nadir.
Kershaw’s four homers allowed were a career high. The frustrated lefty was caught by television Chad Bettis Youth Jersey cameras visibly upset in the dugout following his removal after 6 1/? innings.
But after the Mets pulled to within 8-6 on Reyes’ second homer of the night, a two-run blast in the seventh, the Dodgers recouped both runs against Fernando Salas.
The rookie Cecchini, in his first start of the season, cleared the left-field fence in the fifth for his first major league homer. The two-run blast pulled the Mets within 7-4, triggering dreams of an improbable comeback against the Dodgers ace.
Reyes, already with two homers, came to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth as the tying run but struck out against Chris Hatcher to end the inning.
Wheeler (3-5) lasted only 52 pitches, surrendering eight hits — three of which were homers — and seven runs over two innings for a second Authentic Alexander Radulov Youth Jersey straight disastrous start. The right-hander allowed eight earned runs over 1 2/? innings last week in a loss to the Cubs.
So the Mets are left to wonder if Wheeler has hit a midseason wall in his comeback season from Tommy John surgery, after missing 2015 and ’16. The club has looked to protect Wheeler recently, with the implementation of a six-man rotation that is expected to last through the weekend. Wheeler’s struggles have continued with Matt Harvey (stress injury, right shoulder) on the disabled list and the Mets still unsure what they can expect from recent returnees Steven Matz and Seth Lugo. In addition, Robert Gsellman has endured an up-and-down season.
Rafael Montero followed Wheeler on Monday and allowed one run in 3 2/? innings, keeping it close and allowing the Mets to mount an unlikely comeback attempt against Kershaw. It was a second straight impressive outing from the once underperforming Montero, who fired three perfect innings against the Nationals in his previous appearance.
Cody Bellinger smashed two home runs, increasing his total to 21. The Dodgers phenom is the fastest in major league history to reach that total, needing only 51 games at the start of his career.
Bellinger’s second blast of the night, in the second inning, followed a two-out homer by Justin Turner, continuing a trend of Mets alumni tormenting their former team. Last weekend, the Mets received a similar beatdown from Daniel Murphy. Turner finished the game 4-for-4 with four RBIs, matching a career high in hits.
Wheeler was cooked after a first inning in which the Dodgers sent eight batters to the plate and scored four runs. Turner’s RBI single was the Dodgers’ third straight hit of the inning, but the ugliness was just beginning: Bellinger followed with a three-run blast that gave Kershaw a 4-0 lead.
To put that in perspective, Kershaw had allowed only four earned runs in his previous three starts combined.
In the second, Kershaw delivered a leadoff single before Turner’s homer put the Mets in a 6-0 hole and Bellinger connected moments later for his second blast of the game.

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