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Daily Archives: May 2, 2008

Snooker: Perry gatecrashes World Championship semis

Unfancied Englishman Joe Perry reached the semi-finals of snooker's World Championships late Wednesday by winning the last two frames to defeat Scotland's Stephen Maguire 13-12.
The 33-year-old Perry will play compatriot Ali Carter who edged Peter Ebdon 13-11. The other semi-final opposes two former champions in tournament favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan of England and seven-times winner Stephen Hendry of Scotland.
The 17-year-old Maguire had been expected to make it two Scots into the last four but he let slip a 12-11 lead against the world No. 18 and afterwards admitted he had underestimated his opponent.
"I never gave him the respect he deserves," said Maguire who cruised through his opening two matches.
"I played him last year and slaughtered him to be honest and I thought I was going to do it again.
"There was something missing, I don't know if I was mentally in that match. The final frame was the first bit of pressure I have been under and it was like 'Where did that come from?' I never handled it.
"I've had a good season and I'm going to end it at world number two so I can't complain but at the end of the day it's a bad result."
In contrast Perry admirably kept his nerve during the nerve-racking last two frames.
"I'm gradually fulfilling all my ambitions," he said.
"When you turn pro you want to play at the Crucible, then reach the one-table stage, then reach the final and then win it. I am absolutely thrilled.
"I was just trying to keep my cool in the last frame. I was nervous, but I've been a lot more nervous than that before and I was surprised at how calm I was when my chance came along."
Perry's win means that at least one player never to have won the world title will be in the final, but when the players returned to action yesterday all eyes were inevitably on the showdown between the two greatest players of the last 20 years – Hendry and O'Sullivan.
That was a repeat of the 2004 semi-final that O'Sullivan won 17-4 on his way to a second world title.
The two players have not not always been the best of friends but have a lot of respect for each other's ability and O'Sullivan was not surprised to see the 39-year-old Scot advance to the last four after a poor few seasons by his standards.
"It's good to be in the semi-final against a fantastic player," the 32-year-old said.
"He has probably not done as well as he would have liked over the last two or three years but when you have the ability to do anything to such a high standard you can still win tournaments.
Hendry has not won a ranking title since 2005 and is seeking his first world crown since 1999.
"It's fantastic to be in the semi-finals," he said.
"I was not coming in here with any great form under my belt with just one semi-final this season, but I knew if I could get past the first round anything could happen.
"If you look back at the record I've had here – six wins in seven years from 1990-96 – it can give you nothing but confidence to know that you've been there and done it."

Tennis: Irate Nadal blames ATP for crowded clay calendar

by Scott Williams*

Rafael Nadal has lashed out at hard-bitten tennis administrators, saying the compressed 2008 clay-court season is sure to take a physical toll on players.
The world number two charged that "some people" were not listening to player pleas that three Masters Series event in four weeks in the run-up to Roland Garros is a huge physical ask.
"These people are destroying Europe." the Spanish tennis hero said after reaching the third round of the Barcelona Open. "No one is listening to the players."
Already in the Catalan capital, there have been six match retirements on Nadal's side of the draw.
Nadal fears that the chances of him repeating his achievement of last season with clay titles at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Roma and the French Open is all but impossible.
"You cannot keep a top level over four weeks," he said during a season with the Beijing Olympics also worsening an already tight situation.
The king of clay lost the Hamburg Masters final in 2007 to Roger Federer, going down in a 6-0 final set but rallying three weeks later to complete a third straight trophy run at the French Open.
The Spaniard said that more player breakdowns will surely occur in the coming weeks – and he and his colleagues are not prepared to cop the blame.
"We have to thank the people who decided the calendar," he said, taking direct aim at the Florida-based ATP sanctioning body, "for what they've done to us and to the tournaments.
"Look to them when players cannot finish matches. When a player pulls out of an event, the tournaments should ring the ATP, not blame the player."
The Spaniard said that he has to prepare to be beaten this season due to his huge workload. "I have to assume that I will not always be able to get to the final.
"The only way I have survived so far in Barcelona is because it's a place where the fans are so great, they treat me like a rock star."
But American James Blake, a first-round loser as he played on Spanish clay for the first time in his life, said that the situation can be easily reversed for hard-court players.
"There won't be much time to prepare for the US Open after Beijing," said the world number eight. "The Olympics does make the schedule tougher.
"But on clay you can play almost all year, there are plenty of chances for those guys to earn points.
"But tennis might want to consider eliminating the Davis Cup during Olympic years."
Earlier this season, the majority of Top-10 players signed a petition asking the ATP board not to automatically renew the contract of supremo Etienne de Villiers, architect of the ongoing calendar shake-up which has resulted in lawsuits from Monte Carlo (settled) and Hamburg (to be heard in July).