Posted on | January 14, 2013 | No Comments
Having claimed the Brisbane International title already this year, Andy Murray has made a solid start to the season but he faces a tough test in the opening round of the Australian Opener, after he was drawn against the Dutchman, Robin Haase.
This will not be the first time the Scot has gone up against Haase, after they faced each other in a five-set battle at the US Open back in 2011, which Murray managed to edge.
Haase is a big serving player who has climbed up to 54th place in the world rankings ahead of the opening Grand Slam of this season.
Murray, who is third favourite in the Betfair 2013 Australian Open odds, is clearly in good form after his efforts in Brisbane but he will need to work hard to tackle the big serve of the Dutchman when they go head-to-head in Melbourne.
The good news for the world number three is that he has avoided Novak Djokovic on his side of the Australian Open draw and if everything goes to form, Murray should face the Swiss superstar, Roger Federer, in the semi-finals of the competition Down Under.
Having beaten Federer in the men’s singles final at the Olympic Games last season, Murray might feel he has one over on the veteran but, of course, the Scotsman will not be looking that far ahead just yet.
2012 was really a superb year for Murray and one that he will remember for a long time as the season he finally broke his Grand Slam duck.
What is even more important now is that the 25-year-old builds on that success and the Australian Open will provide a great marker to see how 2013 could turn out for the British hope.
Posted on | January 10, 2013 | No Comments
The Milwaukee Bucks have appointed Jim Boylan as their coach until the end of the season after parting company with Scott Skiles.
It is the second time that the 57-year-old has succeeded Skiles as the Chicago Bulls appointed him during the 2007-08 season as interim head coach and punters who bet on NBA had widely tipped his return.
However, his tenure with the Bulls was not a success and he lasted less than four months in the role before being axed.
Boylan insists he has learned from the mistakes he made then, saying to NBA betting news reporters: “I think the last time, from a personal standpoint, I was too worried about trying to keep the job. It kind of restricted me as time went on.
“This time I am going to enjoy this and do what I like to do – get the guys to play hard and compete and let the chips fall where they may at the end.”
After leaving the Bulls, Boylan was appointed by the Bucks as an assistant coach and, after being promoted, he is adamant that his side can reach the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Bucks’ general manager John Hammond has said that he is in discussions with team owner Herb Kohl about a contract extension.
There had been speculation that Hammond would be following Skiles out of the Bucks’ exit door as he is in the last year of his contract.
Hammond was hired in April 2008 to replace Larry Harris and gained many plaudits when the Bucks made the playoffs in 2010.
He said of the speculation: “I will say we are in discussions involving an extension for me at this point. I am willing to discuss that.”
Meanwhile, Brandon Jennings will become a restricted free agent and Monta Ellis holds a player option on his deal at the end of this season.
Posted on | January 8, 2013 | No Comments
Masters betting favourite, Mark Selby, warmed up for the Betfair Masters by winning the Arcaden Munich Open on the European Tour.
The UK Champion came from 2-3 down in the final against Graeme to run out the 4-3 winner in a tight final in Germany, with a 90 break in the decisive frame enough to see him over the line.
The win also ensured that the Jester from Leicester finished top of the Players Tour Championship Order of Merit after a consistent season in the UK and Europe. He also won the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany and finished runner up in the Antwerp Open.
Selby had to win five matches over the course of two days to lift the trophy in Munich. He started off on Saturday afternoon where he despatched Kyren Wilson 4-1.
Then, in the last 16, he wasted no time in whitewashing Mark King 4-0, before doing the same to Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon in the quarterfinal.
The 29-year lost two frames in his semi-final clash with Tian Pengfei and showed off all his matchplay talent to come from behind to defeat the Pocket Dynamo for the title.
Selby is in search of his third Masters success when he lines up in the 16-runner field for the competition on Sunday at the Alexandra Palace.
Not only has he won this invitational tournament in 2008 and 2010, but he also reached the final in 2009 where he lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan.
He will begin his bid this year against popular snooker odds pick, Stuart Bingham, having received the number three seed in the draw.
Posted on | January 8, 2013 | No Comments
Coral Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude could target another John Smith’s Grand National trial for his next contest after coming out on top at Chepstow. However, Aintree is unlikely to be considered this season.
Despite a catalogue of errors, the horse claimed victory in Chepstow’s showpiece contest and as a result, trainer Michael Scudamore believes it would make the sport’s most famous race an unsuitable target during this campaign.
However, the eight-year-old – whose owners include rugby union stars Mike Tindall, James Simpson-Daniel and Nicky Robinson – is set to tackle another major handicap next time out with Haydock’s Betfred Grand National Trial on February 16 in the thoughts of connections. The race is likely to have a number of the Grand National 2013 runners, so should be a great contest.
Scudamore, whose biggest success was achieved in no small part due to an outstanding Paul Carberry ride, said emphatically: “Given the way he jumped at Chepstow the Grand National would almost certainly come too soon for him so I think we’ll resist the temptation even to enter.
“He is only eight and has plenty of time to run in a Grand National. Before Saturday we had been thinking that if everything went well the race we would target would be the Grand National trial at Haydock. He has five weeks until that race, which should be enough, and it looks like a nice target for him.”
But with thoughts turning to the jump season’s flagship race, legendary jockey Tony McCoy believes Teaforthree, the 11-4 favourite who was half a length behind Monbeg Dude in the Welsh National at Chepstow, could be the ideal type for Aintree, so has a chance of joining the rest of the Grand National horses in action.
“He’s a pretty good jumper and won the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival last year,” said the champion jockey.
“He’s a good solid horse and should have a nice weight for the National. It’s the logical step for him. Hopefully he’ll have a good chance.”
McCoy, speaking to At The Races before riding at Plumpton on Sunday, added: “He didn’t put a foot wrong yesterday and just got beat by something inspired by Paul Carberry – I wish he’d stayed in Ireland for the day.”