rss

Author Archive for Kevin Mitchell

0

Andy Murray and Lendl are cutting it fine for the French Open, says Becker

• ‘Gap between Melbourne and the French was maybe too long’
• Agassi appointment ‘a good choice’ by Djokovic

Boris Becker has questioned whether Andy Murray will have enough time to strike up a winning rhythm with Ivan Lendl at the French Open, which starts on Sunday, but says reduced expectations at Roland Garros might help the Scot at Wimbledon, where he is champion.

Becker, who reached the semi-finals in Paris three times, said of Lendl’s late arrival before the second slam of the season: “That is their arrangement. That is what worked last year. That was part of the deal but I think, if both were honest, the gap between Melbourne and the French was maybe a little long.

Continue reading…

0

Andy Murray and Lendl are cutting it fine for the French Open, says Becker

• ‘Gap between Melbourne and the French was maybe too long’
• Agassi appointment ‘a good choice’ by Djokovic

Boris Becker has questioned whether Andy Murray will have enough time to strike up a winning rhythm with Ivan Lendl at the French Open, which starts on Sunday, but says reduced expectations at Roland Garros might help the Scot at Wimbledon, where he is champion.

Becker, who reached the semi-finals in Paris three times, said of Lendl’s late arrival before the second slam of the season: “That is their arrangement. That is what worked last year. That was part of the deal but I think, if both were honest, the gap between Melbourne and the French was maybe a little long.

Continue reading…

0

Gervonta Davis talks a good fight but Floyd Mayweather Jr steals limelight

Mayweather’s protege might be the one going into the ring to defend his WBO title against Liam Walsh, but during the long run-up to the fight it has seemed that the semi-reitred multimillionaire is the real star of the show

Professional boxing operates on a simple principle: destroy all harmony. It has been that way for a couple of centuries and it is not altogether a mystery given it is a sport that accommodates raw, if legal, violence.

That it is why casual observers were pleasantly surprised when Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko refused to “get in the gutter” before trying to knock each other unconscious in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley two weekends ago.

Continue reading…

0

Andy Murray is struggling and anxious – it may be a good thing | Kevin Mitchell

A worrying air of caution has returned to Andy Murray’s game but the Scot has often been at his best when scrapping against the odds, and it is not too late to get things in order for the French Open

It is easy, and dangerous, to underestimate the depth of Andy Murray’s dilemma after another unexpected setback in his meandering season: bundled out of second round of the Italian Open he was defending for the first time. He is, after all, still No1 in the world.

But check the descent. This time last year Murray, who had not long become a father for the first time, was driving Novak Djokovic to distraction on Campo Centrale, ignoring a steady Sunday afternoon drizzle and uneven light as he forged on to win one of nine titles that would garland his 2016 campaign. He had not lost a set all week.

Continue reading…

0

Maria Sharapova’s lustre dims as French Open shuns expedient option | Kevin Mitchell

The decision to deny Maria Sharapova a wildcard is a bold statement by the new FTF president and one that has embarrassed the Russian all over again

Maria Sharapova has had to fight for virtually every point in her tennis career, every break in her curiously combative life, whatever the misguided perception of the Russian as a bird in a gilded cage.

Nothing changed for her on Tuesday night. With the unexpected weight of moral probity falling heavily on her neck, the former world No1 was denied a wildcard of any kind – qualifying tournament or main draw – into the French Open at the end of the month.

Continue reading…

0

Limbo of Sharapova and Djokovic adds intrigue to the grand slam summer

Locker-room goodwill played its part in the Russian’s derailment at the Madrid Open while the Serbian is looking for a whole new support staff after 10-years

Unintentionally, of course, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic have injected the tennis scene with an overload of drama.

Related: Eugenie Bouchard edges out Maria Sharapova in thrilling grudge match

Continue reading…

0

Novak Djokovic goes for nuclear option in bid to arrest worrying slump | Kevin Mitchell

In dispensing with the close-knit support team that helped him to 12 slam titles, Djokovic looks desperate to end his struggles since last year’s French Open

It will be surreal in the extreme when Novak Djokovic goes on court in defence of his title in Madrid next week, glances up at his box and the growling, comforting countenances of his fiercely loyal Serbian friends are missing. The troubled world No2 called the nuclear clearout of his support staff on Friday “shock therapy”. And it does have the unmistakeable ring of a psychiatrist’s formula, a decision reached after a deep discussion about life and tennis. It also has the ring of desperation.

Related: Novak Djokovic parts company with coaching staff in ‘shock therapy’ move

Continue reading…

0

Ilie Nastase banned from Wimbledon’s royal box but Sharapova return likely

• All England club confirms Romanian will not be invited after Fed Cup row
• Sharapova will discover if she has been awarded wildcard on 20 June

It’s looking very much like Maria Sharapova will return to Wimbledon this summer in a very British embrace but Ilie Nastase, the new vilain du jour, need not bother queueing up.

The All England Club still hopes the Russian will be the architect of her own resurrection at Madrid, Rome and the French Open before it needs to decide, but hinted as strongly as decorum would allow on Wednesday that there ought to be no moral impediment to her coming back to a tournament where she announced her arrival in 2004 by beating Serena Williams in the final.

Continue reading…

0

Andy Murray says events ‘will do what is best for them’ over Sharapova wildcards

• World No1 joins critics who believe Sharapova wildcards unmerited
• Murray denies knighthood or ranking has caused dip in form

Andy Murray will not be alone on Maria Sharapova’s list of people to step lightly around as she builds a head of steam in her comeback but the world No1, a fierce anti-drugs campaigner, doubts the Russian will have any problems getting into either the French Open or Wimbledon.

Sharapova returned from her 15-month ban with a convincing run to the semi-finals in Stuttgart last week and Murray said on Tuesday: “She is obviously playing well. It looks like there’s a good chance after Madrid or Rome she will definitely be inside the qualification ranking for Wimbledon.

Continue reading…

0

Anthony Joshua aims to ‘keep it real’ and rival Wladimir Klitschko’s long reign

• World heavyweight champion wants to rule division for a decade
• He admits: ‘I’ve got to stay away from any problems, any trouble’

Anthony Joshua, who has joined Andy Murray as one of Britain’s most globally recognisable sporting celebrities, admits his next big fight is “keeping it real” as the power-brokers, hangers-on and grassroots fans jostle for a piece of the most bankable asset in boxing.

Continue reading…

0

From Joshua to Corbett: the 10 best British world heavyweight title fights

Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko in London has instantly gone down as one of the great heavyweight title fights – here we choose nine more

1) Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko, 29 April 2017

There is an argument to put this at the very top, a choice sweetened, perhaps, by currency. But it was some effort for a 19-fight novice champion to get off the floor and devastate a former champion (who boxed his best in years) in one late round. Magnificent.

Continue reading…

0

Anthony Joshua eager to take on ‘a real villain’ with Tyson Fury in his sights

• Heavyweight champion says a Fury fight ‘would bring massive attention’
• Promoter Eddie Hearn says Joshua is in the driving seat in the division

The first day of Anthony Joshua’s reign as the best heavyweight in the world did not properly see daylight until 4.30pm on a quiet Sunday afternoon in a rented mansion of some splendour in north London. After a fight of unprecedented good manners against Wladimir Klitschko, he now craves a bout against a “real villain”, and none fits the bill better for him than Tyson Fury.

What a contrast it was in leafy St John’s Wood from his workplace the night before. By the time the world champion awoke after the longest of sleeps to embrace the scale of his achievement in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, the dismantled legend he had dispatched was already back in Germany.

Continue reading…

0

Anthony Joshua eager to take on ‘a real villain’ with Tyson Fury in his sights

• Heavyweight champion says a Fury fight ‘would bring massive attention’
• Promoter Eddie Hearn says Joshua is in the driving seat in the division

The first day of Anthony Joshua’s reign as the best heavyweight in the world did not properly see daylight until 4.30pm on a quiet Sunday afternoon in a rented mansion of some splendour in north London. After a fight of unprecedented good manners against Wladimir Klitschko, he now craves a bout against a “real villain”, and none fits the bill better for him than Tyson Fury.

What a contrast it was in leafy St John’s Wood from his workplace the night before. By the time the world champion awoke after the longest of sleeps to embrace the scale of his achievement in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium, the dismantled legend he had dispatched was already back in Germany.

Continue reading…

0

Anthony Joshua thrives on calm before storm against Wladimir Klitschko | Kevin Mitchell

British fighter says ‘I want to knock him out but I don’t hate him’ of a Ukrainian opponent who is still dangerous but not the force he was

Anthony Joshua laughs a lot. After all he has much to be happy about. He is widely regarded as the best young heavyweight in the world, the future of boxing, according to those with a financial interest in his unbeaten progress at Wembley on Saturday night, an Olympic gold medallist and multimillionaire at 27 with celebrity friends, a posse and a back story.

This “fine young man”, as he is often and correctly described, is an entrenched hero of British sport, getting ready to test his spirit and skill against one of the all-time greats in front of 90,000 fans. So he laughs and it is infectious. Even the stone-faced Wladimir Klitschko, who now plots to destroy him, laughs with him.

Continue reading…

0

Anthony Joshua: ‘When Klitschko gets beat it could be the end’

• Ukrainian says he is a boxer who can punch, Joshua is merely a puncher
• Saturday’s heavyweight title buildup continues on its educated way

There was nothing more to say but they said it anyway. Hoovering up a few more pay-per-view clicks at the end of a long promotion ritually relies on pre-fight shenanigans but there was no chance of that when Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko stopped short of eloping together on Thursday as their world title fight on Saturday night looms.

For weeks now, the bloodthirsty wing of the sport has complained these guys were way too nice. They shook hands every time they met, they laughed at each other’s jokes – such as they were – and, even when they had their face-off on Sky recently, there were as likely to tip the table on Johnny Nelson’s head as David Haye was to go on holiday with Tony Bellew.

Continue reading…

0

Maria Sharapova’s return in Stuttgart will bring tennis to a standstill | Kevin Mitchell

There is no denying the wildcard’s box-office appeal but many, including her opponent Roberta Vinci, do not approve of her presence so soon after a drugs ban

When the most marketable player in the history of women’s tennis steps on to a court in Stuttgart on Wednesday to hit competitively for the first time in 15 months – in peak, early-evening viewing time and fully four hours after the world No7 Johanna Konta – women’s tennis will hold its breath.

If Maria Sharapova, with neither ranking nor regrets for the actions that led to her absence, can advance to the second round of this tournament by beating the 2015 US Open finalist Roberta Vinci in what is sure to be a packed and awed Centre Court, she will make as many people furious as delirious.

Continue reading…

0

Ilie Nastase must be evicted from tennis for his behaviour at Fed Cup | Kevin Mitchell

The Romanian gave great entertainment in his day, but he has crossed a line with his abuse of Johanna Konta, Anne Keothavong and Serena Williams

It is 45 years since Centre Court at Wimbledon rose to applaud the charismatic entertainer that was Ilie Nastase, loser of a memorable five-set final against the American Stan Smith. After the Romanian’s appalling behaviour in Constanta this weekend during Great Britain’s Fed Cup tie against the home team he coaches, it is unlikely a British audience will ever again give him such rapturous acclaim.

When the 70-year-old Nastase reduced Johanna Konta to tears in the second set of her match against Sorana Cirstea on Saturday by calling her, “a fucking bitch” he transformed a mere sporting event into ugly farce.

Continue reading…

0

Andy Murray fit to start French Open buildup at Monte Carlo tournament

• World No1 has suffered illness, injury and dip in form
• Briton will play winner of Gilles Müller and Tommy Robredo

The appearance on Friday of Andy Murray’s name at the top of the draw for the Monte Carlo Open was a relief for the tournament, his travelling fans and the player. If he is to get back to winning tournaments, however, he is likely to have to beat either Novak Djokovic or the nine-times champion Rafael Nadal.

Illness, injury and a dip in form have weighed Murray down since his ascent to world No1 in November and he had contemplated missing the first European clay tournament of the season. He was satisfied after a light-hearted workout in an exhibition against Roger Federer in Zurich on Monday that he is fit enough to begin his buildup to the French Open next month.

Continue reading…

0

Andy Murray fit to start French Open buildup at Monte Carlo tournament

• World No1 has suffered illness, injury and dip in form
• Briton will play winner of Gilles Müller and Tommy Robredo

The appearance on Friday of Andy Murray’s name at the top of the draw for the Monte Carlo Open was a relief for the tournament, his travelling fans and the player. If he is to get back to winning tournaments, however, he is likely to have to beat either Novak Djokovic or the nine-times champion Rafael Nadal.

Illness, injury and a dip in form have weighed Murray down since his ascent to world No1 in November and he had contemplated missing the first European clay tournament of the season. He was satisfied after a light-hearted workout in an exhibition against Roger Federer in Zurich on Monday that he is fit enough to begin his buildup to the French Open next month.

Continue reading…

0

Roger Federer’s resurgence shows less can be more on gruelling Tour | Kevin Mitchell

The Swiss master’s astonishing return has proved that longevity is still possible at the top of the game if you manage your schedule and know your body’s limits

Roger Federer’s decision to abandon the Tour for two months while playing tennis that stands favourable comparison with his golden years is a stark challenge to the game’s administrators to end the grind of a schedule that is pushing players to breaking point. As he said after winning his third title of the year, his second Miami Open and the 91st title of his career: “The body needs a break, the mind needs a break.”

It was his 20th match of the season after returning from an enforced six-month rest to heal knee surgery last year that threatened to bring his career to a shuddering halt and, although, from a distance, he looked as fresh as a sprite beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in Sunday’s high-grade final at Crandon Park, it was only his practised calm that disguised the apparent stress he was suffering. He knows how far he pushed his body and he knows he got away with it. So does everyone else in the game.

Continue reading…