Seed in CAPS: 1-S WILLIAMS (USA) v A Tatishvili (Geo) Qualifier v C Garcia (Fra) M Niculescu (Rou) v J Larsson (Swe) K Bertens (Ned) v 26-S CIRSTEA (Rou) 19-A PAVLYUCHENKOVA (Rus) v A Hlavackova (Cze) P Cetkovska (Cze) v O Pushkova (Rus) Qualifier v Qualifier’s Foretz-Gacon (Fra) v 15-R VINCI (Ita) 10-C WOZNIACKI (Den) v L Robson (Gbr) Qualifier v B Jovanovski (Srb) P Parmentier (Fra) v M Rybarikova (Svk)’s Kuznetsova (Rus) v 22-E MAKAROVA (Rus) 29-V LEPCHENKO (USA) v M Lucic-Baroni (Cro) R Oprandi (Sui) v E Svitolina (Ukr) J Cepelova (Svk) v C McHale (USA) M Barthel (Ger) v 8-A KERBER (Ger) 4-A RADWANSKA (Pol) v’s Peer (Isr) M Burdette (USA) v D Vekic (Cro) Qualifier v M Minella (Lux) U Radwanska (Pol) v 30-V WILLIAMS (USA) 24-J GOERGES (Ger) v Qualifier V Razzano (Fra) v C Feuerstein (Fra) C Scheepers (Rsa) v M Johansson (Fra) P Martic (Cro) v 14-A IVANOVIC (Srb) 11-N PETROVA (Rus) v M Puig (Pue) M Keys (USA) v M Doi (Jpn) I Pavlovic (Fra) v’s Rogers (USA)’s Halep (Rou) v 20-C SUAREZ NAVARRO (Esp) 32-S LISICKI (Ger) v’s Arvidsson (Swe) M-T Torro Flores (Esp) v Qualifier A Morita (Jpn) v Y Putintseva (Kaz) A Rus (Ned) v 5-S ERRANI (Ita) 16-L NA (Chn) v A Medina-Garrigues (Esp) B Mattek-Sands (USA) v L Dominguez Lino (Esp) T Maria (Ger) v Qualifier C Vandeweghe (USA) v 27-Y SHVEDOVA (Kaz) 23-K ZAKOPALOVA (Cze) v K Kanepi (Est)’s Voegele (Sui) v H Watson (Gbr) A Barty (Aus) v L Hradecka (Cze) N Bratchikova (Por) v 12-M KIRILENKO (Rus) 13-M BARTOLI (Fra) v O Govortsova (Blr) K Pliskova (Cze) v Qualifier M Czink (Hun) v F Schiavone (Ita) F Pennetta (Ita) v 21-K FLIPKENS (Bel) 31-A CORNET (Fra) v M J Koehler (Por) I-C Begu (Rou) v’s Soler-Espinosa (Esp) Qualifier v A Beck (Ger) E Vesnina (Rus) v 3-V AZARENKA (Blr) 7-P KVITOVA (Cze) v A Rezai (Fra) P Shuai (Chn) v C Giorgi (Ita) Qualifier v Y Wickmayer (Bel) J Hampton (USA) v 25-L SAFAROVA (Cze) 18-J JANKOVIC (Srb) v D Hantuchova (Svk) K Pliskova (Cze) v G Muguruza (Esp) K Mladenovic (Fra) v L Davis (USA) K Date-Krumm (Jpn) v 9-S STOSUR (Aus) 16-D CIBULKOVA (Svk) v L Tsurenko (Ukr) M Erakovic (Nzl) v E Baltacha (Gbr) Qualifier v A Cadantu (Rou) K Knapp (Ita) v 17-S STEPHENS (USA) 28-T PASZEK (Aut) v M Oudin (USA) Z Jie (Chn) v V Dolonc (Srb) E Bouchard (Can) v T Pironkova (Bul) S-W Hsieh (Tai) v 2-M SHARAPOVA (Rus)
Toby Flood: Leicester desperate for victory Toby Flood says Leicester are desperate to erase the memory of back-to-back Aviva Premiership finals when they face Northampton on Saturday.
The two East Midlands clubs are old rivals, but whilst this is Leicester’s ninth straight final, Northampton are contesting the Twickenham showpiece for the first time.
Richard Cockerill’s side are clear favourites but defeats to Saracens in 2011 and Harlequins last year left a “bitter taste,” according to Flood, and they are taking nothing for granted having won just three of their eight finals.
“Obviously the last couple of trips to Twickenham have been disappointing,” fly-half Flood said.
“We haven’t done ourselves justice but credit to the teams we played, who played well on the day and deserved it.
“It certainly leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
But we’d gone there the two times previous to those two and won.
Sometimes it happens like that.
But we’re focused on what we need to do this weekend and hopefully we’ll get it right.” Flood says the local rivalry adds extra spice to the occasion.
“It was a real eye-opener when I came here to see and feel the intensity of the rivalry,” said Flood.
“A lot of us live on the border between Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and there’s a real mix of fans there.
There’s a real buzz about the game so it’s great.
“We expected it (a derby in the final) a couple of years ago when Saracens ended up beating Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens so it’s nice that it’s come full circle and we’ve got an East Midlands derby.
“I’m sure Northampton are excited, it’s a first Premiership final for them and we need to be right on it because we need to match and better those excitement and morale levels that they will have.
“They will be dangerous.
They are in exceptional form in recent weeks and to do what they did down at Saracens in the semi-final was as good a performance as you’ve seen from them in a long time.
“They were outstanding.
And the nature of this being their first final can sometimes be a real positive if the excitement levels are huge.
“But likewise for us, we know what we need to do to get it right and we’ll need to use that experience as much as we can.
You don’t know how much of a factor it is because it’s always hard to talk about the pros and cons of a hypothetical beast.
But we’ll see how it goes and hopefully it will be good for us.” Flood, who missed last season’s 30-23 defeat to Quins in the final, says there is no chance of underestimating Saints.
“It was disappointing last year,” he said.
“It was tough watching from the sidelines.
A lot of people had us down as favourites for that final and we came unstuck.
“Likewise this year, if that’s the way people are looking at it, it only serves as a really nice reminder that it’s not a given.
Anything can happen in a final.
You only need to look at Wigan against Manchester City in the FA Cup final and even the Heineken Cup final, Clermont against Toulon, where Clermont were in charge for large parts but got edged out.
“We’re fully aware of the difficulties that a final brings.”
Sky Bet Formula 1 Betting Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds Formula 1 Betting 10 Free Bet Kimi Raikkonen has admitted his hopes of winning the Monaco GP for the second time are likely to rest on qualifying inside the front two rows on the resumption of F1 action on Saturday.
The in-form Finn remains one of the favourites for victory in Sunday’s prestigious event although Mercedes underlined the threat they are again likely to pose over a single-lap at least when Nico Rosberg completed a clean sweep of fastest practice times on Thursday.
Raikkonen admitted his own Thursday as a whole had been “not ideal”, principally owing to difficulties getting the best performance out of the soft tyres in the morning, but he was ultimately pleased with the E21′s long-run pace at the end of P2.
“We didn’t start very well, we had some issues and then it got better and better,” the 2005 Monaco winner told reporters.
“With the high fuel it didn’t feel too bad and I’m sure we can improve.
“It the performance gap between the two tyre compounds didn’t feel much different because the biggest problem was we didn’t get them working maybe as well as we should.
Like I said in the end we got the car better and better all the time, so a better feeling and we have some ideas for Saturday and hopefully we can get everything sorted and do the times that we should.” Although Practice timesheets can be notoriously misleading – particularly on the opening day at Monaco – Raikkonen was nonetheless seven tenths of a second back on Rosberg in the faster afternoon session.
However, the Finn reckoned the German’s fast 1:14.759 time wasn’t out of Lotus’s reach.
“Once we get all the things right.
I don’t see why not Lotus can’t match Mercedes.
We will see what happens on Saturday,” he suggested.
“Mercedes hasn’t been beatable in the last few races, so you would think they will be very fast and today they were very fast, but things can change so we have to wait and see.
I have no interest to start guessing, we will have to wait and see what happens.” However, while Mercedes’ difficulties in sustaining pace and tyre life over a full race distance have been brutally highlighted by Rosberg and Hamilton’s respective slides down the order from the frontrow in the last three races, the tight confines of Monaco and the low average number of pitstops in general mean Lotus’s hitherto stronger race pace is less of a trump card if they fail to quality strongly.
Only three times in the last 30 years has the race been won from outside the front two rows of the grid (1996, 1985 and 1983) – while in more recent time eight of the last nine polesitters have triumphed – and asked if it was crucial that he managed to qualify at least fourth, Raikkonen admitted: “If we want to win it probably is, but we’ll see where we are.” Recent qualifying statistics are, however, against Raikkonen with the Finn’s average grid position for the first five grands prix of 2013 only sixth place.
Seeds in CAPS: 1-N DJOKOVIC (Srb) v D Goffin (Bel) I Dodig (Cro) v G Pella (Arg) A Kuznetsov (USA) v L Pouille (Fra) A Falla (Col) v 26-G DIMITROV (Bul) 22-A DOLGOPOLOV (Ukr) v D Tursunov (Rus) B Tomic (Aus) v V Hanescu (Rou)’s Bolelli (Ita) v Y-H Lu (Tai) Qualifier v 16-P KOHLSCHREIBER (Ger) 12-T HAAS (Ger) v G Ruffin (Fra) Qualifier v G Garcia-Lopez (Esp) A Kuznetsov (Rus) v R Harrison (USA) C Berlocq (Arg) v 19-J ISNER (USA) 29-M YOUZHNY (Rus) v P Andujar (Esp) F Delbonis (Arg) v Qualifier F Verdasco (Esp) v M Gicquel (Fra) N Mahut (Fra) v 8-J TIPSAREVIC (Srb) 3-R NADAL (Esp) v D Brands (Ger) M Klizan (Svk) v M Russell (USA) Qualifier v L Rosol (Cze) Qualifier v 27-F FOGNINI (Ita) 24-B PAIRE (Fra) v M Baghdatis (Cyp) L Kubot (Pol) v Qualifier G Zemlja (Slo) v’s Giraldo (Col) J Levine (Can) v 13-K NISHIKORI (Jpn) 9-S WAWRINKA (Sui) v T de Bakker (Ned) Qualifier v H Zeballos (Arg) K de Schepper (Fra) v R Haase (Ned) A Ramos (Esp) v 21-J JANOWICZ (Pol) 28-F MAYER (Ger) v D Istomin (Uzb) F Serra (Fra) v N Davydenko (Rus) Qualifier v Qualifier’s Stakhovsky (Ukr) v 7-R GASQUET (Fra) 5-T BERDYCH (Cze) v G Monfils (Fra) E Gulbis (Lat) v R Dutra Silva (Bra) I Sijsling (Ned) v J Melzer (Aut) J Zopp (Est) v 32-T ROBREDO (Esp) 20-A SEPPI (Ita) v L Mayer (Arg) B Kavcic (Slo) v Qualifier M Alund (Arg) v E Roger-Vasselin (Fra) Qualifier v 11-N ALMAGRO (Esp) 14-M RAONIC (Can) v X Malisse (Bel) Qualifier v M Llodra (Fra) Qualifier v E Donskoy (Rus) Qualifier v 23-K ANDERSON (Rsa) 31-M GRANOLLERS (Esp) v F Lopez (Esp) J Sousa (Por) v G Soeda (Jpn) Qualifier v A Montanes (Esp) M Matosevic (Aus) v 4-D FERRER (Esp) 6-J-W TSONGA (Fra) v A Bedene (Slo) J Nieminen (Fin) v P-H Mathieu (Fra) R Bautista Agut (Esp) v G Muller (Lux) B Becker (Ger) v 25-J CHARDY (Fra) 17-J MONACO (Arg) v D Gimeno-Traver (Esp) V Troicki (Srb) v J Blake (USA) R Stepanek (Cze) v N Kyrgios (Aus) P Petzschner (Ger) v 10-M CILIC (Cro) 15-G SIMON (Fra) v L Hewitt (Aus) A Mannarino (Fra) v P Cuevas (Uru) J Hacek (Cze) v Qualifier L Lacko (Svk) v 18-S QUERREY (USA) 30-J BENNETEAU (Fra) v R Berankis (Lit) T Kamke (Ger) v P Lorenzi (Ita) Qualifier v Qualifier Qualifier v 2-R FEDERER (Sui)
Roger Federer: enjoying his tennis too much to call it quits Roger Federer has no plans to retire from tennis anytime soon ahead of the start of the French Open at Roland Garros on Sunday.
The 31-year-old Swiss legend is one of the game’s greatest ever players with an incredible haul of 17 Grand Slam titles, three more than American great Pete Sampras.
Federer, whose only success at Roland Garros came in 2009 against Robin Soderling, has only won one Grand Slam since Australian Open success over Andy Murray in 2010.
It had been suggested Federer could be mulling over hanging up his tennis racquet once and for all, but he is enjoying his tennis too much and wants to stay in the game for a long as possible.
Compete “I think you want to re-live those moments again,” he told Sky Sports .
“As long as I enjoy playing then why stop doing something that I enjoy doing.
“I’d be retired way too early.
I’d love to do this for a really, really long time.
“Unfortunately it comes to an end at some point.
I still think I can compete at the highest levels.
We’ll see how things go.”
Forty eight hours after threatening to ‘kill’ Mikkel Kessler in the ring on Saturday night, Carl Froch could not resist a final chance to intimidate his opponent as the two world champions weighed in ahead of their eagerly anticipated rematch.
The two super middleweights weighed in under the 12 stone limit with Froch surprisingly more than a pound heavier at 11st 13.9oz against Kessler’s 11st 12.4oz.
Several hundred fans, including a smattering from Kessler’s native Denmark, watched as the pair locked eyes for the final time before taking to the ring in front of 17,000 fans at London’s O2 Arena.
Mutual respect: Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler have already fought each other, in 2010 Heavier man: Froch weighed in at 11st 13.9oz THE TALE OF THE TAPE Froch Kessler Weight 11st 13.9oz 11st 12.4oz Age 35 34 Height (cm) 185 185 Reach (cm) 191 188 Fights 32 48 Wins (KOs) 30 (22) 46 (35) Defeats 2 2 Draws 0 0 On Wednesday, Froch appeared to let the pressure of avenging one of only two defeats on his professional record get to him when he said: ‘On Saturday night, if I have to, I will kill this f*****.
‘Sorry about the language, but I will kill him.
It sounds brutal, it sounds horrible, but this is what it means to me.
‘I’m going to leave it in the ring.
And when I’m smashing his face in, I am going to go for the kill.
I am going to go for the finish.’ The 35-year-old later apologised but will be called before the British Boxing Board of Control to explain his comments.
And the aggression appeared to resurface at the weigh-in as they chatted incessantly during the face-off.
Froch spoke directly into each of the Dane’s ears as the noise from the crowd reached a crescendo.
Kessler, grinning throughout, was more than happy to accept Froch’s hand for the cameras.
Respect restored – at least until the first bell.
Rival promoters: Eddie Hearn guides Froch’s career while Kalle Sauerland takes care of Kessler’s
Bath hooker Rob Webber will lead England in Sunday’s uncapped international against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster named an experimental team this morning for the first game this month which sees England, without their Lions, travel to Argentina for two full Test matches.
Webber, whose career has been hit by injury, is a surprise choice in a team which includes three uncapped players in wings Christian Wade and Marland Yarde plus flanker Matt Kvesic.
Leader: Rob Webber in training on Friday, will skipper Stuart Lancaster’s England against the Barbarians Man of the moment: Christian Wade will start for England at Twickenham Captain: Rob Webber (right) will captain England against the Barbarians on Sunday ENGLAND TEAM TO FACE BAA-BAAS Starting XV : Brown, Wade, Joseph, Twelvetrees, Yarde, Burns, Wigglesworth, Corbisiero, Webber (c), Wilson, Launchbury, Attwood, Johnson, Kvesic, Morgan Subs : Paice, Marler, Thomas, Myall, Vunipola, Thomas, May, Eastmond.
Overall, the team contains nine players under-24.
Lancaster’s raw line up will tackle a strong-looking Barbarians team led by ex-England centre Mike Tindall and Wales’ out-of-favour fly half James Hook.
Hook will face Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns, who made his debut as a substitute in the famous win over the All Blacks last winter, but missed out on the Six Nations due to a knee injury.
Award: Christian Wade will start against the Barbarians Lancaster said: ‘Rob Webber finished the season strongly with Bath and I know his leadership qualities well.
‘I am sure he’ll show the way backed up by the other senior players in the team.’ Besides the three uncapped players who start, Lancaster has picked five more untried men among the subs in Sale forwards Henry Thomas and Kearnan Myall, Wasps back rower Billy Vunipola, Exeter scrum-half Haydn Thomas plus backs in Gloucester’s Jonny May and Bath’s Kyle Eastmond.
Lewis Hamilton’s one-off crash helmet for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix has courted plenty of attention so far this week.
But the Mercedes driver won’t be the only Formula One star lining up on the Monte Carlo grid with a different lid this weekend.
A host of drivers have unveiled new helmets for the blue-riband event, with treble world champion Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari star Fernando Alonso and this year’s Australian Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen also getting in on the act.
Lifting the lid: Lewis Hamilton’s helmet features girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and his pet dog Roscoe Vettel has offered a racy design in both senses of the word featuring a bikini-clad blonde on the back of his lid before honouring Sir Stirling Moss’s famous 1961 victory around the Principality on top.
Raikkonen meanwhile pays homage to 1976 world champion James Hunt for the second successive year with his creative design, while Alonso credits each of his 32 grand prix victories in a puzzle design.
British driver Paul Di Resta, Raikkonen’s Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean, and Toro Rosso star Jean-Eric Vergne are also sporting specially-designed helmets this weekend.
Blonde ambition: Sebastian Vettel sums up the glitz of Monaco (above) before paying homage to Sir Stirling Moss’s spectacular 1961 drive (below) Speaking about his one-off lid which features girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and pet dog Rosce, Hamilton said: ‘People might not know, but F1 drivers have new helmets made throughout the season.’ Writing in his column for the BBC, the 28-year-old added, who is among the favourites this weekend despite his poor showing last time out in Spain, added: ‘I like to do something special with my helmet design for Monaco.
It has got me, Nicole and my dog Roscoe cruising in an old convertible.
‘A guy called Jason at JLF Designs has been doing my designs since I was in karts.
We come up with lots of different concepts.
This year I took an idea from the guy who did one of my tattoos.
Puzzle: Fernando Alonso has listed each of his 32 wins on his lid for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix ‘He painted an ice cream truck with a design depicting life on the streets in candy apple red, which is one of my favourite colours.
‘So from that idea I thought: “Let’s do the streets of Monaco.” It is also my five-year anniversary with Nicole this weekend.
She’s here for the race and I wanted to do something special for her.
‘So he has airbrushed that idea and the helmet has got me, Nicole and my dog Roscoe cruising in an old convertible.’ Crash helmet: Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen (above) and Romain Grosjean below are sporting one-off lids Feel the Force: Paul Di Resta has incorporated a casino theme to his crash helmet for this weekend’s race
Four footballers were cleared today of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room.
Jurors at the Old Bailey also found them not guilty of voyeurism at a retrial.
Brighton and Hove Albion players Anton Rodgers, 20, Lewis Dunk, 21, and George Barker, 21, and former team-mate Steve Cook, 22, who now plays for Bournemouth, had maintained their innocence.
They were given bail throughout the trial and their families, including Rodgers’ father – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers – watched the proceedings.
More to follow…
Not guilty: Anton Rodgers (left) arrives at court on Friday with his dad and Liverpool boss Brendan (right) Sorry we are unable to accept comments for legal reasons.
The Duke of Cambridge and UEFA president Michel Platini at UEFA’s 37th annual congress Sky Bet Football Betting Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds Football Betting 10 Free Bet UEFA president Michel Platini has renewed his call for a European sports police force after warning of “mafia” involvement in match-fixing.
Platini, addressing delegates from 53 member nations at UEFA’s congress in London on Friday, said money-laundering and corruption, as well as hooliganism and doping, were “scourges” on football.
“We are protecting our sport from this scourge with all the means at our disposal, but, unfortunately, that is sometimes not enough,” Platini, who claimed his appeals for a specialist force had been ignored for six years, said.
“We are not dealing with petty criminals who are looking to make ends meet.
It would seem that we are, in some instances, dealing with mafia-type organisations that are using certain matches to launder money, tarnishing our sport in the process.
“We can take reassurance from the fact that this is far from being a widespread phenomenon.
However, just one fixed match is one match too many.
“Six years ago now, in response to this problem of betting, corruption and match-fixing, as well as the problems of hooliganism and doping, I called for the establishment of a European sports police force.
“There has been no response to those calls so far.
Given the absence of any reaction and the lack of awareness on the part of politicians, I renew that call today.
“And if, by misfortune, this call again falls on deaf ears, I ask that each country, at the very least, adopts specific provisions of national legislation addressing the issue of match-fixing, in order to finally have the legal tools necessary to rigorously punish these cheats.” Only 10 of UEFA’s 53 countries- including Britain – has legislation to outlaw match-fixing, said Platini, adding: “That’s not many, and not enough.” Speaking at the event, ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, Platini also praised the Premier League and Football League for bringing in spending controls akin to UEFA’s financial fair play rules.
“In order to prevent the current system from collapsing and stop the bubble from bursting, UEFA had a duty to step in, and it will be up to independent bodies to punish the few clubs that have not realised that football can no longer live above the rules,” Platini said.
“The Premier League and the Football League have themselves grasped the importance of this matter and the need to adopt financial fair play.
In this respect, I congratulate England’s professional clubs.”