Courier hopes for fit Roddick in Chile
Thursday 24 February 2011, 03:07AM
Jim Courier hopes to have a healthy Andy Roddick in his squad when he makes his debut as the US Davis Cup captain when the Americans face Chile on outdoor clay in Santiago from March 4-6. Eighth-ranked Roddick, who withdrew from the Delray Beach ATP event this week because of flu, was named to the US team on Tuesday along with John Isner and Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's top doubles squad. "Hopefully Andy is going to get healthy. He's got a little bit of the flu," Courier said Tuesday. "But these guys are tough and we're not excuse makers. We will be ready to play and ready to battle when we get down there." Taking a rest before facing extended rallies, potential five-set matches and a hostile crowd was a wise move for Roddick, Courier said. "Certainly he's not feeling as well as he would like to, but it seemed to be flu symptoms, which shouldn't be too severe," Courier said. "He should be back on the court here probably by midweek and get some kind of buildup for the Davis Cup. "So for him to get rested and ready to go, I think that makes sense. But his confidence should be very high." Sam Querrey is having a doctor examine a shoulder but is playing this week at Delray Beach, as is Mardy Fish, who is not planning to play in Chile due to thyroid problems. Querrey, ranked 22nd, is planning on travelling to Chile and could be substituted into the US lineup by March 3. "We're going to get down there and the intent certainly is to bring the best team forward," Courier said. "At the moment that's what we've nominated." Roddick, who had taken a break from Davis Cup play to focus on his individual career, has been upbeat about coming back under Courier, who replaced Patrick McEnroe. "Andy is definitely excited about Davis Cup," Courier said. "Andy has always been passionate about it, and he was very straightforward with Patrick last year that it just wasn't going to work based on how he was feeling and what he was looking to achieve. "Davis Cup was something that he wasn't ruling out long-term, it was just something that he looks at it on a year-by-year basis. And the second that I was named captain and called him, he said, 'I'm in and let's go to battle.' "His leadership from within will be exceptional and certainly something I'll lean on." Courier feels some jitters as his Davis Cup captaincy begins. "I'm certainly anxious and excited," he said. "Anything worth doing is going to give you a little bit of tension and a little bit of nerves and you're going to wonder how you're going to do and how you're going to deal with it. "I've never done this before as captain so it's not many chances to do things for the first time within the tennis world for me. I've been around the game a long time, but this is one of them, and this is new and it's exciting."
Rugby World Cup games should still proceed in quake-hit city
Thursday 24 February 2011, 03:01AM
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said Wednesday he wanted Rugby World Cup games to proceed in Christchurch this year, but local rugby officials had reservations following a devastating earthquake. The ability of New Zealand's second largest city to host seven games, including two quarter-finals, during rugby's showcase tournament has been thrown into doubt after Tuesday's 6.3 quake that killed at least 75 people. Key said there had been no formal discussions on shifting games from Christchurch but he believed holding them there would be a powerful symbol of the city's resilience after two major earthquakes in the past six months. "If we can host the Rugby World Cup as we intended to in Christchurch, I'd like to do that," Key told reporters. "It's some way into the future. It's a very important city in New Zealand and it would be a demonstration that Christchurch is back up on its feet." However, Canterbury Rugby Union chief executive Hamish Riach told Television New Zealand he has doubts about whether Christchurch would be able to host World Cup matches. "Right now it doesn't feel like we could host very much at all," Riach said, but added it was too early to make any decision. "Everyone is in the immediacy of this traumatic event and we're not quite getting our heads around that space just yet, but gosh I hope so -- but who knows?" Christchurch's AMI stadium, which will be boosted to 45,000 seats for the tournament beginning on September 10, suffered only minor damage when a 7.0-magnitude quake hit the city last September. Tuesday's tremor, though lower in magnitude, has caused more damage in the South Island city because its epicentre was shallower and closer to the city centre. Stadium operator Vbase said it was too early to assess whether the stadium had been weakened structurally as all efforts in the city were focused on the human toll of the disaster. "It's not a priority, we're focused on people at the moment, we don't really have any interest at all in the stadium and whether it can continue to host matches at the Rugby World Cup," Vbase chief executive Bryan Pearson told AFP. Rugby World Cup organisers in New Zealand said it would be premature to discuss the quake's impact on the event. "At this time RWC 2011 must take a back seat while Christchurch deals with the aftermath of this tragedy," a tournament spokesman said. "Our thoughts are very much with the people of the region. It is too early to talk about any implications for the tournament and any assessment must wait while the rescue and recovery efforts take priority." The International Rugby Board has set up a crisis unit to monitor the situation, according to French Rugby Federation president Pierre Camou. "I do not think that the World Cup is in any danger. For the moment, the tremors are localised. I think that if it comes down to it New Zealand will have fallback positions in place," Camou said Tuesday. "But for the moment for us and for world rugby, what matters is helping anyone still trapped underneath the rubble."
Cricket champions confident
Tuesday 22 February 2011, 06:42AM
Australia take on Zimbabwe on February 21 as they launch their campaign for a fourth successive World Cup amid fallout over the humiliating defeats handed out to minnows Kenya and Canada. The defending champions - who have not lost a single match in the past two World Cups - start the tournament without their usual favourites tag, but that does not bother skipper Ricky Ponting. Despite losing a clutch of star players since they lifted the trophy in the Caribbean four years ago including Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, they remain the top-ranked side in one-day cricket. And they come into the match in Ahmedabad after a confidence-boosting 6-1 ODI series win over England following their Ashes humiliation. "We have maintained high standards in the past few years whether at home or abroad and managed to win one-day games. We are proud of that. We know how to play in the sub-continent in different stages of the tournament," Ponting said. Australia's attack has been strengthened with the return of paceman Brett Lee, who played a crucial role in the one-day series win over England after a long injury lay-off. Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher said he would be happy to throw the new ball to a spinner, aware his opponents have struggled against spin on slow pitches, losing both of their warm-up matches against India and South Africa. Zimbabwe have a clutch of spinners, Raymond Price, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer, who are capable of exerting pressure. "We know spinners are our best bowlers. That is going to be our strategy and the Australians also know it. There is a chance of a spinner opening the bowling, but we have to bowl well," said Butcher. Australia have won 25 of their 27 one-day internationals against Zimbabwe. Their lone defeat came in the first game played between the two sides in the 1983 World Cup in England while one match was abandoned due to rain. Meanwhile the Australian skipper joined the debate on the future of the so-called minnows at cricket's showpiece on a day that Kenya and Canada slumped to embarrassingly one-sided defeats. Sri Lanka plundered 332-7 off the Canadian attack, winning by 210 runs, while Kenya crashed to a 10-wicket defeat at the hands of the Black Caps. The next World Cup in 2015 will feature just 10 teams, down from the current 14, meaning it will almost certainly be the preserve of the Test sides and the smaller associate nations will be muscled out. -AFP