Sports Shorts: Nadal's claycourt winning run ended by bold Ferrer
Rafael Nadal's 30-match winning streak ended on Friday when the world number one was upset 7-6(1), 6-4 by fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals.
Sixth seed Ferrer, who had beaten Nadal on clay only once 10 years ago and was brushed aside by the muscular left-hander in the French Open final last year, relied on his devastating forehand to prevail in over two hours.
Nadal, who made an uncharacteristic string of unforced errors, was looking to recapture his Monte Carlo crown after Serb Novak Djokovic had ended his eight-year reign in last year's final - his last defeat on the slow surface.
Ferrer will next face world number three and Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who dismissed Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 6-2.
Ferrer broke Nadal's serve in the second game, only for the top seed to break back in the third after a 16-minute dogfight in overcast conditions at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Ferrer saw off a potentially decisive break point in the 11th game and the opening set went to a tiebreak, which he won 7-1 as Nadal collapsed.
Nadal continued to struggle in the second set, with a weak drop shot being easily retrieved by Ferrer as he broke for 2-1.
The world number six stole Nadal's serve again for 5-2 as the clock ticked past the two-hour mark.
Nadal broke back for 5-3 and held for 5-4 but bowed out on the first match point when he netted a routine backhand.
Earlier, Swiss Wawrinka, who did not play on Thursday because his third-round opponent Nicolas Almagro of Spain had withdrawn injured, got off to a slow start against Raonic, needing a tiebreak to pocket the first set.
He was then unstoppable, outpacing the Canadian who showed his limits at the highest level.
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Image: Rafael Nadal of Spain walks off court after losing in his match against David Ferrer
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Bolt hails Bale's Spanish Cup final stunner
Olympic champion Usain Bolt hailed Gareth Bale's brilliant winner for Real Madrid in Wednesday's King's Cup final against Barcelona, saying it was the kind of goal any sprinter would be proud of.
Wales winger Bale picked up the ball wide on the left on the halfway line five minutes from time and galloped away from Barca centre back Marc Bartra before slipping the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto to secure a 2-1 victory.
"It was a great goal," the Jamaican was quoted as saying in Spanish sports daily Marca on Friday.
"He showed the fantastic speed he has to leave the defender behind and then incredible calm to put the ball between the keeper's legs," added the keen Manchester United supporter who retained the 100 and 200 metre titles at the London Games in 2012.
"It's the kind of goal any sprinter in the world would want to score one day."
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Image: Gareth Bale
Photographs: Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Replacement Asian Games hosts needed fast: IOC
The Olympic Council of Asia must move fast to find a replacement city to host the 2019 Asian Games, International Olympic Committee Vice President Ng Ser Miang said on Friday, but ruled out his suitable Singapore homeland as an option.
Vietnam's government announced their surprise decision on Thursday to quit as hosts of the event in their capital Hanoi, citing a lack of preparedness and concerns that holding the multi-sport event for the first time would not prove financially viable.
Wealthy Singapore will host the much smaller SEA Games in 2015 for 11 Southeast Asian countries in their soon to open $1 billion sports hub, which includes a 55,000 seat stadium, and 6,000 capacity aquatics centre, but are not seeking any extra work load at short notice.
"With the process of selecting a city and preparing the city for the Games, time is of essence as we are only five years away," Ng said in a statement sent to Reuters.
"We are putting all our resources and energy to ensure a successful SEA Games. A bid for 2019 Asian Games is not on the cards at the moment."
Hanoi was awarded the Games in November 2012 ahead of the Indonesian city of Surabaya but the cost of hosting the event, which economists have estimated could be as high as $500 million, was an issue.
Indonesian Olympic officials also voiced concerns about the likely increased price when asked if they are interested in rebidding.
"We have to realize that budgeting to host such an event will be different by now," Indonesia Olympic Committee chairperson Rita Subowo said.
"The government of Indonesia may be ready to take over, but what about the hosting city? We are happy that Surabaya is the hosting city of the 2021 Asian Youth Games, but we will discuss about 2019."
The Asian Games, which was held for the first time in 1951, has grown to consist of around 40 sports with athletes from 45 countries taking part putting pressure on host nations to build infrastructure and accommodation as well as stadiums.
It will be held in Incheon, South Korea this year after China hosted the last edition and wealthy Qatar before them in 2006.
Although Vietnam's $155 billion economy is in recovery and annual growth of more than five percent is expected in the next few years, it faces many deep-rooted problems, including weak infrastructure, one of Asia's highest levels of bad debt and a state sector mired in graft and inefficiency.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung held a meeting with officials on Thursday and concluded it was better to opt out now, because poor preparation could damage Vietnam's reputation and that the state budget could be invested "in other very urgent tasks."
India, which has hosted the Asian Games twice, are still reeling from the cost and scandal surrounding their somewhat chaotic hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi where preparations were heavily criticised.
The OCA said on Friday they are still waiting for official confirmation from Vietnam of their withdrawal and would not discuss potential hosts of the 18th Asian Games before receiving it.
Ng, who failed in his bid to become the first Asian president of the IOC in September, said he understood Vietnam's position.
"According to Prime Minister Nguyen, the decision to withdraw is due to Vietnam suffering the impact of global recession, hence will not be able to do a good job," he said.
"While I am surprised, I can understand completely."
Photographs: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Hamilton fastest in second practice in China
Lewis Hamilton returned Mercedes to the top of the timesheets on Friday by setting the fastest time in the second practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton completed 25 laps of the 5.4 kilometre Shanghai International Circuit in the afternoon to end the day with a best time of one minute 38.315 seconds.
His Formula One championship leading team mate Nico Rosberg was third, the German lapping four tenths of a second slower than Hamilton's benchmark on a cool and hazy afternoon at the circuit located on the outskirts of Shanghai.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who had topped the weekend's opening session, split the two Mercedes in second.
The Spaniard, watched by the team's new boss Marco Mattiacci, carried his timesheet-topping form from the morning session over into the afternoon.
Alonso's best lap was just a tenth off Hamilton's benchmark effort, and the double world champion was swapping the fastest time with Rosberg's Mercedes for most of the second 90-minute session before the focus switched to high-fuel long runs.
Despite ending the day fastest, it was far from a trouble-free day for Hamilton.
Image: Lewis Hamilton
Photographs: Clive Mason/Getty Images