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Sports Shorts: Azarenka out of French Open due to foot injury

Last updated on: May 19, 2014 21:34 IST

Sports Shorts: Azarenka out of French Open due to foot injury



World No 5 Victoria Azarenka has withdrawn from the French Open as she continues to recover from a foot injury that forced her earlier withdrawals from tournaments in Doha, Miami, Madrid and Rome.

"Unfortunately I will not be able to compete in Roland Garros this year," the two-time Australian Open champion wrote on her Twitter page.

"Working hard on my recovery and getting back on court."

Azarenka has battled an injury to her left foot for more than two months, playing just one match - a loss to American Lauren Davis in her opening encounter at Indian Wells in early March.

Her foot problem flared up at the Australian Open in January, where she was the two-time defending champion, though was beaten by Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter-finals.

The French Open begins on Sunday and runs until June 8.

World No 1 Serena Williams is the defending women's champion.

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Image: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters


World Cup winner Wilkinson to retire at end of season

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Toulon flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, whose last-gasp drop goal secured England World Cup glory in 2003, will retire from rugby at the end of the season, he announced on Monday.

The 34-year-old will look to end his 17-year senior career on a high when he leads holders Toulon in the Heineken Cup final against Saracens on Saturday, followed a week later by the Top 14 decider against Castres when his side seek to win a first French championship in over two decades.

"I would like to take this opportunity to formally announce my retirement from playing rugby," he said in a statement on Toulon's website.

"It goes without saying that I have an enormous number of people to thank for their support from all around the world but especially here in France and in England."

Wilkinson made his test debut in 1998 at the age of 18, becoming England's second-youngest international, with his second test a 76-0 thrashing at the hand of Australia in the so-called "Tour of Hell".

From that inauspicious start he went on to play 91 test matches for his country, despite suffering a number of serious injuries, helping them to the 2003 World Cup title and runners-up four years later.

He played six tests for the British and Irish Lions, and is the second-highest test points scorer behind New Zealand's Dan Carter with 1246.

Noted for his unique kicking stance that was later replicated by players around the world, he was deadly in front of the posts and unflappable in the most highly-charged of match situations, never more so than the 2003 World Cup final against Australia in Sydney.

While he did not like to be defined by his drop-goal in the last minute of extra-time that won England their first and only world championship, it is undoubtedly the image that comes to mind for rugby fans the world over.


The highs were also matched by lows, Wilkinson suffering a succession of injuries with his refusal to shirk a tackle and general bravery on the pitch leading to a litany of serious knee, arm and shoulder problems.

After the 2003 World Cup final, he did not play another test for England until February 2007, having been invalided out of the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005 after the second test.

He helped England to a grand slam in 2003 and further Six Nations titles in 2000, 2001 and 2011.

"For four years from 1999 to 2003 he was one of the greats of the game," former England international Stuart Barnes told Sky Sports.

"He sealed his reputation as England's greatest flyhalf of all time. Through injury and loss of form, he rather lost his way a little bit but the way he is finishing his career and playing brilliantly is quite incredible.

"You wouldn't say he was the most naturally gifted player but the work he has put in to become the player he is quite astonishing. He is undoubtedly the greatest professional in terms of work ethic that professional rugby has ever seen."

At club level he spent a decade at Newcastle Falcons, and then moved to France in 2009, where his late-career revival helped Toulon to their first Heineken Cup title in 2013 and to this season's decider against Saracens.

"This however is not at all the time to be concentrating on this as I would like to focus all my attention and energy on the team and these final two games of the season," added Wilkinson, who will celebrate his 35th birthday a day after the final.

"I sincerely thank you all for everything you have given me and for making these last 17 years something I will never forget."

His last match will be the Top 14 final against holders Castres in Paris on May 31, when he can sign off on his career by leading Toulon to its first French championship since 1992, having been runners-up in 2012 and 2013.

Image: Jonny Wilkinson of Toulon kicks a penalty during the Heineken Cup semi final match between against Munster at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
Photographs: David Rogers/Getty Images

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Todd clinches first PGA Tour victory in style

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A brilliant left-handed recovery shot helped American Brendon Todd to his first PGA Tour title, a two-stroke victory at the $6.9 million HP Byron Nelson Championship in Texas on Sunday.

Todd, who had never finished better than sixth on tour, displayed impressive poise and a sizzling short game to card a bogey-free four-under-par 66 at the Four Seasons TPC in Irving.

He finished at 14-under 266, while Canadian Mike Weir (67), without a win since 2007, claimed second place on 12-under.

Todd collected $1.24 million and an invitation to next year's Masters, less than two hours down the road from where he went to college at the University of Georgia in Athens.

"I thought I could win on the PGA Tour. It's taken a while but now that I've won it's a dream come true," the 28-year-old told reporters.

"I'm really excited, the relief I finally have a chance to play the PGA

Tour for multiple years (but) number one (is) going to Augusta."

Weir, meanwhile, recorded his best finish since 2010. The 2003 Masters champion was the only one to exert any pressure on Todd on the back nine as one player after another fell away.

Nobody was more disappointed than South African Louis Oosthuizen, who started the final round tied for the lead with Todd, but crashed out with a 74 to finish equal 11th.

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Image: Brendon Todd,left, poses with his wife Rachel Todd holding the trophy after his victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons Resort
Photographs: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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Australian Scott overtakes Woods as world No 1

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Australia's Adam Scott has surpassed Tiger Woods as the number one player on the official world golf rankings, seizing the top spot despite not playing this past week.

Scott, who spent the past 38 weeks as the second ranked player, has had chances to overtake Woods through high tournament finishes but has instead done so with both players out of action.

The updated rankings are released on Monday.

Woods last played in March and is out indefinitely following back surgery, making his fall from the top inevitable.

The 33-year-old Scott is just the second Australian to reach the top ranking, following Greg Norman's final reign which ended in 1998.

"This is another outstanding achievement for Adam Scott," Brian Thorburn, Chief Executive of the PGA of Australia, said in a statement.

"The Australian golfing community is very proud of Adam and we look forward to watching his progress throughout the year."

The 2013 Masters champion, Scott, ends Woods' stretch of 60 straight weeks at the top.

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Image: Adam Scott of Australia waves to the gallery
Photographs: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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Triple F1 world champion Brabham passes away at 88

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Australian Jack Brabham, who won three Formula One world titles and is the only man to have won the championship driving a car bearing his name, died at the age of 88 on Monday.

A fierce competitor, brilliant engineer and astute businessman, Brabham claimed the Formula One titles in 1959 and 1960 for Cooper Racing before going on to win a third in 1966 for the Brabham marque.

He died at his home on Australia's Gold Coast.

"It's a very sad day for all of us," his youngest son David, who also raced in Formula One, said in a statement.

"My father passed away peacefully at home at the age of 88 this morning. He lived an incredible life, achieving more than anyone would ever dream of and he will continue to live on through the astounding legacy he leaves behind."

A former Royal Australian Air Force mechanic, Brabham began racing midget cars on cinder tracks in Australia in 1948 before moving to Britain to pursue his career in the mid 1950s.

Brabham became the first Australian to win the Formula One title in 1959, famously pushing his car uphill to the finishing line to seal the triumph after running out of fuel on the final lap at the US Grand Prix at Sebring.

Nicknamed ‘Black Jack’ for his mop of dark hair and taciturn nature, Brabham would become ‘Geriatric Jack’ as he raced on into his 40s, his last victory coming at the 1970 South African Grand Prix in his final season when he was 43.

In total, Brabham raced in 126 Grands Prix, taking pole position 13 times and winning 14 races.

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Image: Former F1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham attends the unveiling of a bust cast in his honour before the Australian Formula One Grand Prix
Photographs: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

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Leon retain Mexican title by winning 'family' final

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Leon retained their Mexican league crown with a 2-0 second leg win on Sunday and a 4-3 aggregate victory over Pachuca in the final played between two teams owned by the same financial group.

Multi-millionaire magnate Carlos Slim holds a majority 30 percent share in the Pachuca Group which owns both finalists. Jesus Martinez, president of the group and the Pachuca team, lost to his son Jesus Martinez Murguia, who is Leon chairman.

Argentine striker Mauro Boselli was credited with the crucial goal that took the Clausura final, second leg into extra time in the 66th minute at the Hidalgo after Pachuca had won Thursday's first leg 3-2.

Pachuca's veteran former Mexico goalkeeper Oscar Perez dived to parry Boselli's header but the ball bounced in off his body.

Defender Juan Ignacio Gonzalez scored the clincher for Leon, led by Mexico World Cup captain Rafael Marquez and coached by Uruguayan Gustavo Matosas, well into extra time, heading in Luis Montes's corner.

"This is crazy, I'm very happy, my body's full of knocks but you just have to keep pushing and we came through. You can never stop trying and this became evident once again," Gonzalez told TV Azteca.

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Image: Rafael Marquez,centre, of Leon holds up the trophy after their team won the Mexican league championship final
Photographs: Henry Romero/Reuters

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Benfica win Portuguese Cup to complete domestic treble

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Benfica completed a domestic treble when they beat Rio Ave 1-0 in the Portuguese Cup final on Sunday.

Argentine midfielder Nicolas Gaitan scored the winner in the first half while Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak rescued Benfica in the second. Benfica, beaten on penalties by Sevilla in Wednesday's Europa League final, had already won this season’s league and the League Cup in which they also beat Rio Ave in the final.

Benfica dominated the first half at the Jamor, the old National Stadium which continues to regularly host the Cup final, and Gaitan put them ahead with a shot from just outside the area in the 20th minute.

Rio Ave, also beaten on their only other appearance in the final 30 years ago, could not muster a shot before halftime but the second half was a different story.

Oblak twice denied Ukra, once with his feet and then with an acrobatic stop, while Pedro Santos struck the post. The 21-year-old goalkeeper again came to the rescue in stoppage-time with a brave save at the feet of Ahmed Hassan.

"We were clearly superior in the second half and deserved a better result," Rio Ave coach Nuno Espirito Santo told RTP television.

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said the Europa final which went to extra-time, had taken its toll on his team.

"We wouldn't have had the energy to chase the goal if we hadn't scored in the first half," he said. "The players were worn out."

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Image: Benfica's players celebrate after winning their Portuguese Cup final match
Photographs: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

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River Plate seal Argentine title with five-goal rout

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Captain Fernando Cavenaghi scored twice as River Plate crushed Quilmes 5-0 to win their 35th Argentine league title at a delirious Monumental on Sunday.

River won the Final championship, the second of two in the season, with a five-point margin over Boca Juniors, Estudiantes and Godoy Cruz in joint second place. San Lorenzo won the season's first title, the Inicial.

Unbeaten in their last seven matches, River notched their eighth successive victory at the Monumental, their formidable home form proving decisive in their campaign. Boca leapt into second place thanks to their fifth successive win, 1-0 over Gimnasia. Estudiantes lost 2-1 at Tigre and Godoy Cruz beat Racing Club 2-1 in Mendoza. River went in front after 10 minutes when Cavenaghi swooped on a rebound after goalkeeper Walter Benitez had dived to block a Carlos Carbonero shot.

The home side pulled further ahead at a 25th minute corner with right back Gabriel Mercado scoring with a diving header at the far post for his second goal in two matches.

"The team showed great personality, we always took the game to our opponents. The (2-1 away) win against Boca was a turning point and we felt we could fight for the championship," Mercado told reporters after the title ceremony. Mercado, whose form earned him a place in Argentine's provisional 30-man World Cup squad, added: "If I'm left out of the (definitive 23-man) list I'll feel proud and grateful for having been considered."

Atletico Rafaela, who won 2-1 at Arsenal, and Colon, who scored in added time to beat Olimpo by the same score, will meet in a relegation playoff on Wednesday after both finished with the same three-season points average.

Argentinos Juniors and All Boys have already been relegated.

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Image: River Plate's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Argentine first division soccer championship
Photographs: Agustin Marcarian/Reuters

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Juventus break 100-points barrier with Cagliari win

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Champions Juventus became the first team to break the 100-points barrier in Serie A when they beat Cagliari 3-0 in their final league game of the season on Sunday.

Juventus, who won all 19 of their home matches, completed their campaign with 102 points after winning 33, drawing three and losing two of their 38 games.

They finished 17 points clear of AS Roma, who slumped to their third successive defeat when they lost 1-0 at Genoa to a late goal scored by Giannis Fetfatzidis.

At the bottom, already relegated Catania bid farewell to Serie A with a 2-1 win over Atalanta thanks to Gonzalo Bergessio's stoppage time penalty.Juventus, champions for a third successive season, went ahead with a Marco Silvestri own goal in the eighth minute and Fernando Llorente and Claudio Marchisio added further goals before halftime.

Before and during the match, Juventus fans appealed to coach Antonio Conte not to leave the club. Around 1,000 fans gathered in front of the team's hotel outside Turin before the game, holding banners asking him to stay.

Similar banners, plus a huge drawing of the feisty coach, were held aloft by supporters in the stadium during the match. According to Italian media, Conte feels he has taken the current team as far as it can go and is reported to have demanded an overhaul of the side to continue. Negotiations are due to take place early next week. Victor Ibarbo nearly spoiled the party when his drive was turned away by Gianluigi Buffon in the opening minutes.

Image: The Juventus FC players celebrate with the Serie A trophy
Photographs: Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

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