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07.04.2015
What should have been a celebratory final weekend of the league season was overshadowed as bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion of a suspicious package at Old Trafford that police later revealed was a dummy left over from a midweek training exercise. The Stretford End and Sir Alex Ferguson Stand were evacuated before the rest of United's 75,600 capacity ground was cleared, with the match called off 20 minutes before kickoff.
Police stand outside the stadium after Sunday's match between Manchester United and Bournemouth was called off because of a bomb scare at Old Trafford. Despite the worrying scenes at Old Trafford, Sunday's other nine Premier League matches went ahead as planned.
Completing a bad day for United, Manchester City drew 1-1 at Swansea City to effectively guarantee fourth place and Champions League qualification at the expense of its local rival, who is three points behind with a goal difference of only plus-12 compared to plus-30 for Manuel Pellegrini's men.
City took the lead as Kelechi Iheanacho slotted home in the fifth minute after Sergio Aguero's shot was pushed into the young Nigeria striker's path.
Swansea equalized in first-half stoppage time through Andre Ayew, whose free kick deflected in off City midfielder Fernando, but the visitors held on to ensure Pellegrini departed on a high, with Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola set to replace him in the offseason.
Capping a frustrating climax to the season for Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino's team came third as its 5-1 humiliation at relegated Newcastle United, combined with Arsenal's 4-0 win over bottom club Aston Villa, saw the Gunners leapfrog their north London rivals to finish second.
After losing the title to Leicester City, Tottenham has also wasted a chance to finish ahead of bitter rival Arsenal for the first time since 1994-95. Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic put Newcastle in control before Erik Lamela got one back for Tottenham. Mitrovic was sent off after 67 minutes, but Wijnaldum stroked home a penalty, with Rolando Aarons and Daryl Janmaat scoring late to further compound Tottenham's misery. Arsenal gleefully seized on Tottenham's woes with an Olivier Giroud-inspired demolition of Villa at Emirates Stadium.
France striker Giroud bagged a hat-trick, with the goals coming in the fifth, 78th minute and 80th minutes before an own goal by Villa keeper Mark Bunn. At Stamford Bridge, Leicester brought the curtain down on its fairytale season by coming back to earn a 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas put Chelsea ahead with a 66th-minute penalty, but Danny Drinkwater's 82nd-minute equalizer ensured Leicester finished 10 points clear at the top. Everton looked revitalized by the firing of much-maligned manager Roberto Martinez as it defeated relegated Norwich City 3-0 at Goodison Park, thanks to goals from James McCarthy, Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas. The Premier League season's defining quirk was that with a vast tide of television money set to flood England's top flight, Leicester City's triumph showed that wealth isn't everything. While Manchester City and Manchester United's squads cost a combined estimated total of 800 million pounds ($1.16 billion), Leicester's title-winning squad barely exceeded the 50 million mark.
Danny Drinkwater celebrates scoring for Leicester City against Chelsea in their English Premier League match at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
In the context of a TV deal worth 5.14 billion pounds due to kick in next season, the Foxes' fairytale 5,000-1 success suggests it is no longer about how much money you spend, but how you spend it.
While the feats of Jamie Vardy (1 million pounds), Riyad Mahrez (400,000 pounds) and N'Golo Kante (5.6 million pounds) demonstrated a new way of spending, Leicester's soccer revealed a different way of winning.
Meanwhile, the Professional Footballers' Association Team of the Year told its own story, with Leicester and Tottenham contributing four players each. Excepting Harry Kane, the division's 25-goal top scorer, who came through Tottenham's youth system, all were signed for fees dwarfed by the 49 million pounds City spent on Raheem Sterling.
West Ham United's Dimitri Payet, another Team of the Year inclusion, was a relative steal at 10.7 million pounds.
The French playmaker inspired Slaven Bilic's side to seventh place, with Ronald Koeman's Southampton, fellow frugal spenders, provisionally fifth ahead of Manchester United's postponed final game against Bournemouth, which fell victim to a bomb scare. Despite having invested some 250 million pounds in new players, Louis van Gaal oversaw a season of grim stagnation at United, which will miss out on a Champions League place for the second time in three years. Frustrated at United's feeble, sideways soccer - the antithesis of Leicester's approach - fans have grown increasingly vocal in their criticisms of the defiant Dutchman, for whom victory over Crystal Palace in next weekend's FA Cup final might not be enough to keep him in a job.
Jose Mourinho has been hovering in anticipation of the Old Trafford axe falling ever since his dismissal by Chelsea in December. Worn down by Mourinho, the defending champion collapsed completely, but Guus Hiddink steadied the ship and with Italy coach Antonio Conte arriving after Euro 2016, a new future is taking shape. There is immense anticipation, meanwhile, at City, where Pep Guardiola will replace Manuel Pellegrini following a season of damaging inconsistency that nonetheless yielded the League Cup and a first Champions League semifinal appearance. Liverpool has already been revitalized by a new manager and despite an eighth-place finish, the club's engrossing run to the Europa League final has hinted at the thrills that may lie ahead under Jurgen Klopp. At Arsenal, Arsene Wenger soldiers on towards the 20th anniversary of his appointment - and the Gunners are falling in step.
Wenger has, customarily, delivered another season of Champions League soccer - the 19th in succession - but with Arsenal having spectacularly failed to exploit its rivals' struggles, fan dissent towards the Frenchman has been louder than ever. Emboldened by their TV gains, the heavyweights can be expected to flex their muscles in the offseason transfer window, and former Leicester manager Martin O'Neill believes they will all come back stronger. The division will lose two of its grandest clubs as Newcastle United and Aston Villa sink into the Championship alongside Norwich City, to be replaced by Burnley, Middlesbrough and the playoff winners. The TV deal means that Burnley and Boro could not have timed promotion better, but as Leicester's game-changing success demonstrates, it's what you do with your money that counts.
Backes opened the scoring and Jori Lehtera had the go-ahead goal in the second period on a spinning shot that Martin Jones could not handle. Among those he frustrated was captain Joe Pavelski, who had seven shots and had perhaps the best chance in the third period on a one-timer near the midway mark. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock thought his team was fortunate to survive the last 2:29 after the Sharks pulled Jones. The Sharks were the best road team in the NHL in the regular season at 28-10-3, but have dropped four in a row on the road in these playoffs, including all three in the second round against Nashville.
They had seven goals in the three road losses to the Predators and were 0-for-3 on the powerplay, which had been a major plus. The Blues made good on their first chance with home-ice advantage in the playoffs, although they're just 4-4 at Scottrade Center heading into Game 2 on Tuesday night. Elliott was at his best in the second period when the Blues were outshot 16-5, but got the lone goal when Lehtera scored unassisted. Backes opened the scoring with a deflection and is tied with sharpshooter Vladimir Tarasenko for the team lead with seven playoff goals - mostly because he's fearless in front of the net waiting to pounce on rebounds.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk started the play from the point and thought the goal was particularly impressive because it was deflected before it got to Backes. Lehtera's second goal of the playoffs came off an errant clearing attempt by Brent Burns for a 2-1 lead.
Just 34 seconds elapsed between the opening goal by Backes and Hertl's answering tally, when he redirected Pavelski's shot past the sprawling Elliott. Record-breaking teenager Max Verstappen handled his triumphant arrival as a global sports star with the same cool aplomb he showed behind the wheel on Sunday.
Surrounded by microphones and cameras, he beamed with pleasure just as he had while steering his Red Bull car to his first win - and a place in sports history - at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen celebrates winning Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona. At 18 years and 228 days, Vetstappen is now not only the youngest man to race in Formula One, but the youngest to score points, finish on the podium and win a race, taking all of those records from four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who had set them when he, too, was a Red Bull driver.
On Sunday, Vettel finished third, separated from the remarkable Dutchman by his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, a 36-year-old veteran of 235 races who had also, as he reminded Verstappen, raced in F1 against the teen's father. Verstappen only joined the Red Bull team a week earlier, in a stunning promotion from the Toro Rosso outfit.
His was Red Bull's first win since the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix and first without Vettel on the team.
After the laughter, speculation about his future and evaluation of his potential began in the paddock.
The previous youngest winner, Vettel, was 21 years and two months old when he won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix with Toro Rosso. Vettel has since gone on to win four world championships and joined Ferrari, leaving Red Bull and his former glories in his past. On Sunday, Vettel saw his successor - and the future - in the shape of a kid declared "too young" when he arrived and only passed his road car driving test on his 18th birthday last September. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was in the pole position but was overtaken by teammate Nico Rosberg at the start, and when the British driver tried to regain the lead, he appeared to be blocked by his teammate and both cars touched going into Turn 4, spinning across the track and into the gravel at the runoff area. Rosberg didn't directly blame Hamilton but said he didn't do anything wrong, adding that the crash ruined what seemed a certain victory after he jumped to the front at the start. Murray, the No 2 seed who lost to Djokovic in last week's Masters final in Madrid, celebrated his 29th birthday in style with a stylish 6-3, 6-3 victory over the Serbian that took just 95 minutes.
It was Murray's first title in Rome and the third clay-court title of his career after victories on the red dirt in Munich and Madrid last year.
Andy Murray kisses the trophy after beating Novak Djokovic in the Rome Masters' final on Sunday. Murray's powerful serve had Djokovic in trouble on more than one occasion during a rain-drenched final, and he showed progress in other areas. Although Djokovic heads to Paris looking to make amends for last year's stunning defeat to Swiss Stan Wawrinka, Murray has just become a potentially bigger obstacle to the world No 1's hopes of a 12th Grand Slam title. Becoming the first Briton to win in Rome since Patrick Hughes in 1931, it is the first time Murray's name has been added to a trophy since the birth of his baby daughter. A week after his Madrid loss, the stars aligned for Murray thanks to Djokovic coming in fatigued after his late semifinal win over Japan's Kei Nishikori on Saturday. In Paris, nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal and Swiss pair Wawrinka and Roger Federer will be out to make amends for early exits in Rome. Seven-time Rome champion Nadal was ousted in the quarters by Djokovic, but two days after Djokovic called beating the Spaniard on clay "the ultimate challenge", Nadal gave no indication he fears for his prospects in Paris. Wawrinka, beaten by Juan Monaco in the third round, is set to play in Geneva this week as he struggles for match-winning confidence ahead of the defense of his title in Paris.
There are even bigger doubts about Federer, who won the Roland Garros title in 2009 and exited Rome still complaining of a back injury that forced him out in Madrid. Meanwhile, Serena Williams heads to Paris brimming with confidence ahead of her bid for a third title at Roland Garros that would take her Grand Slam tally to 22. The American swept past 21-year-old compatriot Madison Keys 7-6 (5), 6-3 to claim her fourth Italian Open victory on Sunday, first title of the season and 70th of her career. Williams becomes just the fifth woman to achieve such a total in singles after Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Margaret Court. With another command performance, Day put his stamp on No 1 in the world by never letting anyone closer than two shots in the final round, playing bogey-free on the back nine of the TPC Sawgrass for the fourth straight day and closing with a 1-under 71 for a wire-to-wire victory. Day stomped his way all over everyone at The Players Championship, even though he had a few nervous moments. He made bogey on No 6, had to make a 15-foot par putt on the next hole and really looked out of sorts from just 40 feet right of the green on the par-5 ninth. Day's seven victories dating to the Canadian Open include the PGA Championship, The Players, a World Golf Championship and a pair of FedEx Cup events.
He became the first wire-to-wire winner in 16 years at Sawgrass, and joined Tiger Woods, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson as the only players to go wire-to-wire twice in the same season dating to 1970. Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 28 as the Raptors beat the Miami Heat 116-89 in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to the NBA's Eastern Conference final for the first time in franchise history.
Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll is fouled by Miami Heat's Goran Dragic during Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal in Toronto on Sunday.
Bismack Biyombo added 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Raptors, who will open the series in Cleveland against LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. DeMarre Carroll scored 14 points, and Patrick Patterson had 11 to help the Raptors become the 15th team in NBA history to win two Game 7s in one postseason. Now the Raptors get ready for the Cavaliers, who swept Detroit in the quarterfinal and have been resting since May 8, when they capped a semifinal sweep of Atlanta. Casey declined to say whether center Jonas Valanciunas, who sprained his right ankle in Game 3 against the Heat, would be available against Cleveland. Scouting booklets for the Cleveland series were sitting on the chair of each Raptors player inside their locker room less than an hour after the game.
Instead, Miami was left to wonder what might have been after losing Chris Bosh at the All-Star break for the second straight year, then losing center Hassan Whiteside to a sprained right knee in Game 3 against Toronto. Charlotte, the Los Angeles Clippers, and New Orleans are the only three teams to never reach a conference final. Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has been voted the NBA's Rookie of the Year, according to a source with direct knowledge of the award.
The No 1 overall pick from Kentucky posted the best rookie season for a big man since Tim Duncan. Towns also played all 82 games and was named Western Conference rookie of the month in all six months the award was handed out.
Towns is the second straight Timberwolves player to win the Rookie of the Year award after teammate Andrew Wiggins had a similarly convincing debut.


Add to those two young stars a promising supporting cast including Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad that will be coached next season by Tom Thibodeau, and the Wolves believe they can finally end a 12-season playoff drought. Katie Ledecky is basically swimming against herself in her final tuneup for the US Olympic trials. Ledecky won the 400-meter freestyle at the Atlanta Classic on Saturday night, grabbing the lead as soon as she dove in the water and stretching the margin with every lap.
Katie Ledecky competes in Saturday's 400m freestyle final during the Atlanta Classic swim meet at Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. The Atlanta Classic is Ledecky's final meet before the Olympic trials, which begin June 26 in Omaha, Nebraska. Tellingly, Ledecky's time in Atlanta was nearly three seconds faster than the gold medal-winning performance by the late Camille Muffat in London four years ago. The American teenager will be an overwhelming favorite in both the 400 and the 800 free, and increasingly looks like the swimmer to beat in the 200 free. She's also added the 100 free to her repertoire, giving her a chance to add another individual event or at least claim a spot on two relays at the Rio Games. After warming down for 30 minutes in the adjacent diving well, Ledecky paused on deck to sign autographs and pose for phots with dozens of adoring young fans who were patiently waiting.
In another event on Saturday night, Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian won the 50 free in a water-churning 21.93. While that wasn't nearly fast enough to win an Olympic gold, it sets up Adrian to at least make a run at swimming the unpredictable event in Rio. When the European Championships start on Monday at the London Aquatics Centre - which staged the swimming at the 2012 Olympics - there will be just 82 days before the Games start in Rio de Janeiro. Given the proximity, few who are competing in Rio will have rested before the London meet, but are instead in heavy training, eyes planted firmly on what lies ahead in August.
Britain's Adam Peaty is his country's major hope as the European Championships start on Monday in London. Prominent was 19-year-old Adam Peaty, two weeks after knocking Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa to second place in the 100m breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Peaty was a standout in Berlin, winning four gold medals and setting a world record in the 50m breaststroke, albeit not ratified due to an administrative error. Olympic 50m freestyle champion Florent Manaudou also made four visits to the top of the podium, while Sweden's Sarah Sjoestroem claimed three golds. All three have had a stunning couple of years, but for Peaty the summer of 2014 was when he made a deafening entrance onto the international stage. He went on to obliterate Van der Burgh's 100m world record last year in London before three gold medals at the World Championships in Kazan, where he and the South African went toe to toe like prize fighters, trading 50m world records as boxers trade blows. FIFA's new second-in-command is no stranger to the kind of power struggles that brought FIFA to the brink, having served as the representative of the UNDP in post-coup Madagascar from 2010 to 2015 before moving to Nigeria.
Samoura's years with the UN, including with the World Food Program, have taken her crisis-management skills to hotspots such as Afghanistan, Chad and Darfur. Samoura, who was named as the successor to disgraced Frenchman Jerome Valcke at a FIFA congress in Mexico on Friday, will take up her post by mid-June after undergoing an eligibility check administered by an independent review committee. She said she met Infantino, who was appointed to succeed Sepp Blatter in February, for the first time in November last year. A mother of three, whose husband's dreams of becoming a soccer pro were shattered when he broke his leg at age 20, Samoura has rubbed shoulders with soccer luminaries from an early age.
The daughter of an army colonel, she went to school with Cheikh Seck, goalkeeper for the Senegalese national team in the 1980s, and befriended Cameroonian legend Roger Milla during a posting in Yaounde.
Among her idols, she lists former Bayern Munich winger and now president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and retired Malian striker Salif Keita, who played for Marseille. Gonzalo Higuain was in high spirits on Saturday after his hat-trick in a dramatic 4-0 rout of Frosinone set a new all-time record of 36 goals in a single Serie A season and fired Napoli into the Champions League. Roma, despite a 3-1 win at AC Milan that has virtually ended the host's hopes of Europa League football, finished two points back in third, meaning it will enter the preliminary rounds of Europe's premier club competition.
Champion Juventus, which secured a record-equaling fifth successive title last month, capped its campaign with a 5-0 rout of 10-man Sampdoria in Turin, where Paulo Dybala struck twice for the hosts.
It left the Argentine striker with 23 goals in his first season at the club - one more than compatriot Carlos Tevez. The results left the remaining European places for next season as all that was left to be decided, and Napoli and Sassuolo emerged the victors.
Roma, runners-up the past two seasons, traveled to Milan looking for a win and hoping Napoli would stumble at home.
In Napoli, fans packed San Paolo stadium hoping to see local hero 'Pipita' set a new record.
Sitting at 33 goals going into the match, Higuain was still two short of Gunnar Nordahl's 1950 record of 35, scored in a 20-team Serie A campaign. In little under two years with Barcelona, Luis Suarez has won six trophies, silenced his critics with almost impeccable on-field behavior and now, most remarkably of all, left Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in his shadow. Suarez fittingly scored a hat-trick as Barca retained its La Liga title on Saturday with a 3-0 win at Granada, lifting his tally for the season to a remarkable 59 goals and 26 assists.
Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates completing his hat-trick in Saturday's 3-0 win over Granada that clinched the La Liga title. Of those 59, 40 came in La Liga, making him the first man in seven years to depose Messi and Ronaldo and win the Pichichi award for Spain's top scorer. Moreover, it's the most prolific season anyone other than Messi and Ronaldo has produced in the history of the Spanish top flight. The Pichichi and golden boot for Europe's top scorer are individual awards where all that matters are the numbers and Suarez can't be discredited.
He was sidelined as Neymar joined Messi and Ronaldo as FIFA's top three at the Ballon d'Or to crown the world's best player despite playing a pivotal role in turning Barca from trophyless in 2013-14 to treble winners a season later. The controversy and stigma of having bitten an opponent three times in his career continues to cost the Uruguayan in the popularity stakes.
However, in his first full season without a prolonged suspension in three years, Suarez has shown his devastating potential to leave Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar trailing in his wake. Barca's title run was built once more around the thrilling talents of the South American 'MSN' triumvirate. When Messi was absent for two months due to knee ligament damage early in the season, Suarez scored 12 times in 10 games, including twice as Barca embarrassed Real Madrid 4-0 away. Suarez also scored the winner as Barca beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 to open up a gap at the top in January and most memorably slotted home Messi's pass from the penalty spot to complete a hat-trick in the 6-1 rout of Celta Vigo in February.
That character shone through in the final weeks of the season as Suarez lifted Barca out of an alarming April slump.
Although he failed to find the net in any of Barca's three consecutive La Liga defeats for the first time in 13 years last month, Suarez responded with 14 in the last five games for the five wins Barca needed to hold off a late-season surge by Real. Two years removed from the pain of missing out on the Premier League and being kicked out of the World Cup for an infamous bite on Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, Suarez's redemption story continues with another trophy to show why he forced through a move to Barca.
Moreover, he has the personal pride of leaving Ronaldo and Messi below him on the podium for the Pichichi they have made a personal duel for the past six years. After losing out by one point to title winners Barcelona in La Liga on Saturday, Real Madrid's attention turned to the Champions League final with Atletico Madrid in Milan in two weeks. Zinedine Zidane's side beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-0 in the final La Liga game of the season, recording a 12th straight win in the competition, but Barca clinched the title with a 3-0 victory at Granada. Real's hopes looked dead and buried after losing to Atletico at the end of February and falling 12 points behind Barcelona. At more than 1.8 meters tall and weighing 70 kilograms, Yang Yiguo is one of the best-known professional kickboxers at the Monster fight club. The event prompted him to beef up through martial arts, and he quickly fell in love with Thai boxing. Kickboxers compete in a bout at the Monster fight club in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Dec 11. Monster was founded by two of Yang's friends in a converted bar in an upscale neighborhood of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. Aside from using WeChat, the instant-messaging app, the club does no promotion, yet an increasing number of people are learning about it via word of mouth. Yang and Ma Huoche, a DJ who organizes events at the club, have devised a three-tiered system: knockout bouts, challenge bouts and exhibition matches. Participants and the audience come from various walks of life, including office workers, teachers, doctors, tattoo artists, police officers, sailors, lawyers and college students.
The fighters wear little in the way of protective equipment, apart from gum shields and boxing gloves.
Fight night lasts from 10 pm to midnight every Friday and Saturday, with each bout consisting of two to three rounds.
Yang began offering one-on-one lessons in late February after returning to China from a 20-day training camp in Thailand. Fighting, she adds, is a good way of relieving the pressures that accumulate in daily life, but it must be taken seriously. In February, a local newspaper published a report about the club that, according to its founders, intentionally misrepresented the venue to make it look like a shady, underground business. After the report, the police called several times to check whether the club was breaking any laws.
Yang adds that, although the fights are passionate and bloody affairs, the fighters always shake hands at the bell. Emotional fighters always lose because their skills and judgment are affected by their feelings, he says. Xiao Mo, a costume designer in his 20s, has good upper-body strength, but that didn't stop him from suffering a three-round defeat at the hands of a 30-something lawyer who boxed under the name "1942".
Breathless and bathed in sweat, Xiao was too exhausted to speak as his friends supported him as he climbed slowly out of the ring. For Yang, it's all about restoring the martial spirit, which some say the Chinese people have lost.
He concedes that he felt humiliated when his coach put him in the weakest training group just because he was Chinese.
Serena Williams of the US hits a return to Anna Lena Friedsam of Germany in their second-round match at the Italian Open in Rome on Tuesday. The gourmet food Serena Williams ordered off the hotel room-service menu for dogs looked good enough for her to eat. Williams posted a video Wednesday on Snapchat showing the salmon and rice dish she ordered for her Yorkshire Terrier at their hotel during the Italian Open. Williams says the bite tasted weird, "a little bit like a house-cleaner thing," but she ate it anyway. Coming from one of the most famous and successful women athletes in the world, the video raised eyebrows but Williams replied to queries on Thursday by saying: "I'm not the most serious person off the court.
Admitting she was feeling no serious ill effects of the incident, she added: "No, thank God! Roger Federer said "time was ticking" in his battle to recover form and fitness for the French Open after he lost to rising Austrian Dominic Thiem 7-6 (2) 6-4 in the third round of the Italian Open on Thursday. Former world No 1 Federer still looks way short of his best after knee and back injuries and struggled to get to grips with the 22-year-old Thiem at the Foro Italico, a week after withdrawing from the Madrid Open. Thiem, ranked 15th, recovered from an early break and streaked into a 6-2 lead in the tiebreak before taking the opening set with a backhand winner.
He broke the 34-year-old Federer's serve again midway through the second set as he claimed the 32nd victory of a breakthrough season that saw him rise to a career-high 13th. Federer, the winner of 17 majors, has missed 10 weeks of the season following knee surgery. Federer, a four-time finalist in Rome, missed last week's Madrid Open with a back problem but said there had been some encouraging signs this week. World No 1 Novak Djokovic was on the wrong end of a love set for only the ninth time in his career, picking up just eight points.
From there, though, he moved to a smooth victory over the 37th-ranked Belluci and a quarterfinal meeting with Rafael Nadal, who defeated Australian Nick Kyrgios 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-4.
Bernard Tomic ruled himself out of representing Australia at the Rio Olympics in August due to his "extremely busy" playing schedule. Tomic, who was warned by Australia's Olympic chef de mission Kitty Chiller he was among a group of athletes whose behavior was being monitored to judge their suitability for the Rio team, will instead play an ATP tournament in Mexico. Tomic drew heavy criticism last week following his exit from the Madrid Open when, on match point against Fabio Fognini, he held the racquet by the strings and did not offer a shot to the Italian's serve.
The 23-year-old responded to the criticism by telling News Corp, "I don't care about that match point. The response was described as "appalling" by Chiller and the criticism intensified when he pulled out of his opening match in Rome after just eight minutes, citing illness. Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks scores a goal past Shea Weber (6) and goalie Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators in the first period of Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs at SAP Center on Thursday in San Jose, California.


Captain Joe Pavelski and the rest of San Jose's big guns took little time to answer the questions about how this version of the Sharks would respond after a lackluster loss in a potential series clincher. Pavelski got San Jose off to a fast start in Game 7 with his franchise record-tying ninth goal of the playoffs to send the Sharks to their first Western Conference final in five years with a 5-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
Joel Ward, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau also scored as San Jose shook off an overtime loss in Game 6 to reach the conference final for the fourth time in franchise history. After blowing a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles in 2014 in their most noteworthy in a long list of playoff collapses and missing the postseason entirely last year, the Sharks are now one round away from advancing to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in franchise history. The Predators' most successful season ended in bitter disappointment as they were unable to repeat their Game 7 road win in the first round against Anaheim to make the conference final for the first time. Defensive miscues by Nashville's two top defensemen, captain Shea Weber and Roman Josi, led to early San Jose goals as Pekka Rinne got little help from his teammates. The Predators had just eight shots on goal in the first two periods and Rinne left after allowing goals to Thornton and Marleau early in the third period. Nashville remains one of three franchises, along with Columbus and the current Winnipeg franchise, to never make it to a conference final.
The Sharks got there in 2004, 2010 and 2011 - only to lose each time as a long run of regular-season success behind stars such as Thornton and Marleau has not yet led to the ultimate postseason goal. The 2014 collapse set the franchise back and led to Thornton losing his captaincy amid several other changes the past two years. The Sharks came out fast from the drop and completely dominated the opening period, outshooting Nashville 17-3 to take a 2-0 lead.
Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs forces Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder to pass the ball during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA's Western Conference semifinals at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Tim Duncan doesn't know yet where he's headed as the San Antonio Spurs face an uncertain future. Kevin Durant scored 37 points, Russell Westbrook added 28, and Oklahoma City beat San Antonio 113-99 on Thursday night to win the Western Conference semifinal series 4-2. Oklahoma City lost 124-92 in Game 1, but first-year coach Billy Donovan led the Thunder to victory in four of the next five. Steven Adams had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Andre Roberson added 14 points for the Thunder.
The Spurs were trying to extend the winningest season in franchise history after going 67-15.
In Game 6, Oklahoma City opened up a 47-29 lead late in the second quarter after a 3-pointer by Westbrook that brought a roar from the crowd. The Thunder looked like the Spurs often do in the first half, running an efficient offense while committing just three turnovers.
The veteran Spurs had one last surge left and got as close as 11, but a 3-pointer and a driving layup by Westbrook killed San Antonio's momentum for good. The Thunder dominated the boards in the series, winning the rebounding battle in five of the six games.
Since Gregg Popovich became coach of the Spurs on Dec 10, 1996, there have been 233 coaching changes throughout the rest of the league. There's only five coaches who were in their current NBA jobs before 2013: Popovich, Spoelstra, Carlisle, Toronto's Dwane Casey and Portland's Terry Stotts.
Below is a breakdown of total coaching changes by team since Popovich took over as coach in San Antonio. This doesn't include when coaches missed games for illness or personal reasons, or in situations where the head coach remained officially in place but was not at games (such as when assistant Ron Rothstein filled in for Pat Riley at times during 2006-07 and 2007-08 in Miami, or earlier this season when assistant Luke Walton guided Golden State while Steve Kerr recovered from back surgeries).
The NBA superstar, who is making another run toward a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers, said Thursday that he will extend his playing career only as long as his three children will let him. James and his wife, Savannah, have two sons and a daughter: 11-year-old LeBron Jr, 8-year-old Bryce and 19-month-old Zhuri. The Cavs have been in limbo since completing a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland's second sweep of these playoffs. James has never given a firm timetable on how long he intends to play, but the four-time MVP isn't showing any signs of slowing down. He has added reason for that optimism: Many of the Blazers said Thursday they'd be sticking around this summer to work out together. The Trail Blazers' theme this season emerged over time as the team kept surpassing expectations. From a preseason bonding trip to San Diego, where the team hammed for photos on the beach, to Lillard's team dinners and trips to a roller skating rink, the young Blazers became a cohesive group.
Lillard was the lone starter to return from the 2014-15 Blazers, after LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews departed in the offseason. The group that was assembled was the third-youngest in the NBA and included players who, for whatever reason, hadn't really caught on elsewhere.
Portland had a daunting task in the defending NBA champion Warriors and MVP Stephen Curry in the second round but put up a fight.
Lillard averaged a career-high 25.1 points in the regular season, becoming just the third Portland player to average more than 25. CJ McCollum averaged 20.8 points in his first year as a starter, giving the Blazers their first backcourt duo with an average of 20 or more points apiece in a single season. McCollum was named the league's Most Improved Player for more than tripling his scoring average from the 2014-15 season.
Those two will almost certainly be back next season, as will fellow starters Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee. The Blazers have a team option on coach Terry Stotts for the coming season, but the team is looking to quickly firm up a long-term deal.
Robby Fabbri, their 20-year-old rookie center, became the youngest player in NHL history to score three points in a Game 7, with a goal and two assists, while captain David Backes added a goal and an assist. That means United will be in action just four days before it faces Crystal Palace in Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
Louis Blues tends goal during the third period of Sunday's opening game of the NHL's Western Conference final against the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade Center in St Louis, Missouri.
The goalie benefited from a quick whistle with 1:14 left when he unsuccessfully tried to smother the puck on a long dump-in by Melker Karlsson, and it slowly slid between his pads and off his stick into the net - just after play was whistled dead. He had already won the first four this year and could have become the first driver to win five in a row to start the season since Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2004.
He has more variety in his shots from the baseline play, so obviously he has improved," said Djokovic. He's been consistently playing well (at Roland Garros) throughout the years, and I'm sure he's going to be very motivated to do well again. Not the three muffed chips that turned a potential birdie into an unsettling bogey as he made the turn on Sunday. He muffed three straight chips and had to make a 6-foot putt just to escape with bogey, dropping his lead to two shots. The last hurdle was finding land on the island-green 17th, and he cleared the water with about 10 feet to spare.
Kevin Chappell, who finished one shot behind Day at Bay Hill, was 5-under over his final 10 holes for a 69. Lowry made 11 of 20 shots, including five of seven from 3-point range, and DeRozan connected on 12 of 29 attempts. Miami was denied the opportunity to renew acquaintances with former teammate James in the conference final. The Heat won their past four Game 7s, all at home, and was seeking to join the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics as the only teams to win five straight Game 7s. After rallying to beat Charlotte in the first round, Miami fell short in its bid to become the first team to erase 3-2 deficits in consecutive series. The 19-year-old brought the crowd to its feet with a blistering final lap to win the event.
She'll wrap up the competition with two more events - the 100 free and the 200 individual medley - on Sunday but won't tackle the 800 free, probably her signature event. At that time he was not yet a candidate for the FIFA presidency and was busy preparing Michel Platini's campaign. I'm delighted, it's been a great day and we get to lift the trophy in front of the fans," said Dybala.
But despite goals from Mohamed Salah, Stephan El Shaarawy and a late Emerson strike, with Carlos Bacca hitting a late consolation for the Rossoneri, it was not enough for Luciano Spalletti's men. However, his well-honed physique is a far cry from when, at 16, he was beaten up during a basketball game.
Now in his 20s, he has been fighting professionally for six years and has lost just four of his 30 bouts. In November, Yang joined them as a Thai boxing coach and, using his connections, arranged bouts featuring several well-known boxers.
The fighters register for free via WeChat and are assigned to different levels depending on weight and experience.
They are allowed to strike their opponents with their fists, elbows, knees, legs and feet, and the bout is only stopped if a boxer yields or if the referee steps in to stop the fight. Cut eyebrows and bloody noses are the most common wounds, while no fighter has sustained serious injuries, Yang says. The events draw audiences of about 50 people, with tickets costing 100 to 200 yuan ($15 to $30; 13 to 26 euros). Given the large number of people who have contacted him through WeChat, the boxing training market is far larger than the one for organizing fights.
That's because the Chinese all elbow themselves into casinos, transexual shows, restaurants and shops," he says. She recovered in time to beat fellow American Christina McHale 7-6 (7), 6-1 in the third round Thursday. He shrugged off the defeat, saying his immediate priority was the French Open that begins on May 22. The frustration boiled over as he slammed his stick against the post and tossed it aside after Marleau's goal made it 5-0. But with only 10 players remaining from that disappointment and a new coach in Peter DeBoer, the Sharks believed this team was different and are showing that through two rounds of the playoffs. Oklahoma City now will face defending NBA champion Golden State, starting Monday in Oakland, California.
The 40-year-old Duncan struggled for much of the series before scoring 19 points as San Antonio tried to fight back in the fourth quarter.
San Antonio lost just once at home during the regular season, but the Thunder beat the Spurs twice in San Antonio during the series.
Durant's 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in the half pushed the lead to 55-31 at the break. San Antonio shot 31.1 percent from the field before the break and missed all nine of its 3-pointers.
The team has spent the past two days practicing while waiting to see if it will play the Toronto Raptors or Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. Many never thought the Blazers would win more than 30 games, let alone make the playoffs, but Portland went on to finish 44-38 with the fifth seed in the Western Conference. After dropping the first two in Oakland, Portland claimed the third at home but lost the fourth in overtime - with Curry coming back from a knee injury and scoring 40 points, including 17 in the OT. Forward Maurice Harkless, who started all 11 postseason games, backup guard Allen Crabbe and reserve forward Meyers Leonard are all restricted free agents. He starred in the most glorious parts of the campaign and, most tellingly, made the difference when the team most needed him.
She says Yang started by teaching her the basics, but he soon discovered she had a good foundation in the sport and remarkable physical strength. He just wanted to try," says Xiao's wife, who watched the bout and wiped the sweat from her husband's face during the breaks between the rounds. Take away Popovich's two-decade-and-counting run, and the average time that an NBA coach has been able to keep a head-coaching gig around the league is about two and a half years. So what am I, the second-longest-tenured?" Spoelstra, who rose from the Heat video room to head coach, said earlier this month when asked about the lack of job security in the field. The Raptors lead the Heat - James' former team - 3-2 in their series, which continues Friday night. He's led the Blazers to the playoffs in each of the last three years, and to the conference semifinals twice. The Blues routed the top-seeded Dallas Stars 6-1 on Wednesday night to advance to their first Western Conference championship round since 2001.



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