Other Sports

Australian Open 2014: Men's singles preview

Written by Hamish Carton.

NOVAK Djokovic will once again be the man to beat when the world’s finest tennis players convene in Melbourne for the first grand slam of 2014. But others will have something to say about the Serbian winning a fourth successive Australian Open title, most notably world number one Rafael Nadal who missed out the 2013 tournament through injury. The draw threw up some interesting encounters, some as early as the third round. Here I have a look at these potential mammoth clashes.

After his success at Flushing Meadows in 2013, the Australian Open is now the only Grand Slam that Rafael Nadal has not won on more than one occasion. What are his chances of tasting glory on the final Sunday of January? Well he has been handed a tricky draw. On paper his first round tie with home favourite Bernard Tomic may seem tricky but the Aussie often flatters to deceive on the big stage.
 
Nadal has also won their only previous encounter, ironically at the Australian Open back in 2011, when he defeated Tomic in straight sets. If the Spaniard overcomes Tomic again on Monday, then he is likely to face another Aussie in the shape of Thanasi Kokkinakis in round two. Further down the line Nadal could come up against the enigma that is Gael Monfils. Nadal’s potential quarter-final opponent looks the toughest of all, on paper at least. He is likely to face the big hitting Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro who many have tipped to be the man to replace Roger Federer in the men’s top four. So Nadal has his work cut out then, but he usually relishes the task and tough early encounters are often the best way to get into the swing of a Grand Slam event.

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How Scotland ruled the tennis world

Written by Lewis Birrell.

Apart from Andy Murray, who proudly flies the flag for Great Britain at the top of the men's game, it is no secret that we have a severe lack of top 100 singles players. This has had an unfortunate impact on our Davis Cup team in recent years, due to the fact that we don’t have a second singles player playing top tour events consistently.
 
Therefore, we turn to players such as James Ward and Dan Evans, hoping for them to win rubbers against players ranked significantly higher than they are. It should be noted that they always apply themselves diligently, and have been known to pull off major upsets in the competition, however, it is concerning that after Andy Murray, we may be left with no top 150 players to choose from.
 
One bright spot in the British game, that has improved massively over the last couple of seasons, is the doubles threat. Since Leon Smith took leadership of the Davis Cup side, we have barely lost a doubles rubber and this has been instrumental in some of our victories over higher ranked nations.
 
A player who has regularly featured in these impressive victories is Linlithgow’s Colin Fleming. After struggling to break through in singles, he returned to university for 2 years to complete his Masters degree, returning to the ATP tour in 2008 to focus primarily on doubles. A year later, he was partnering scouser, Ken Skupski and competing in ATP 250 events, picking up titles in Moselle and St Petersburg . The partnership led to better things for the British pair, and saw them competing in all 4 of Grand Slams in 2010.
 
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The Elite Ice Hockey League: An introduction

Written by Kris Jack.

THE Elite Ice Hockey League faced off for the 2013/14 season last weekend, and for the Scottish sides involved, it was the beginning of another chance for them to prove their worth in the top UK league for the sport. The EIHL has been dominated by three teams in recent times, current Champions Nottingham Panthers, their bitter rivals Sheffield Steelers and the much adorned Belfast Giants. However, in the last few years, with the inception, invitation and inclusion of more Scottish sides, the game in this country has somewhat flourished.

For the uninitiated, here's a rough guide to how things are panning out in Scotland at the minute...

With Edinburgh Capitals and Dundee Stars having been involved in the EIHL for a number of years, the formation of Braehead Clan in 2010 opened the doors to a broader audience in the Glasgow and Paisley Area. With the side automatically going in to the EIHL, it's positioning caught the eye of fans of older and defunct Scottish teams from the west of Scotland like the Paisley Pirates and the Ayr Eagles. An impressive first year showing showed glimpses that The Clan could become a sustainable attraction for both the die hard and occasional hockey fan in the west.

Then, in 2011, Newcastle Vipers went under financially, opening up a slot in the EIHL that was filled by Scotland's oldest Ice Hockey side, Fife Flyers. With four Scottish teams now plying their trade in the Elite League, Scottish crowds began to grow, as did the rivalries amongst them. At the start of the 2012-13 season, it was announced that the EIHL would split itself in to two divisions, the Erhardt and the Gardiner Conferences. the Erhardt was to be contested between the Panthers, Giants, and Steelers, plus the Coventry Blaze and Cardiff Devils. The Gardiner would prove to be a predominantly Scottish division, consisting of The Clan, The Stars, The Flyers, The Capitals and, rather bizarrely, Hull Stingrays. The common sense approach would have been to make it an all Celtic division, swopping out the Humberside club for Belfast, but it was deemed that the Stingrays would be lumped in with the Scottish sides.

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British tennis showing summer trend

Written by Lewis Birrell.

THIS summer was a highly successful one for British tennis as it saw Andy Murray lift the Wimbledon trophy for the first time and claim his second grand-slam title. The British ‘swing’ of tennis events also raised awareness of a number of Britain’s less well known players, many of whom play for the Davis Cup team.

 James Ward, Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Ed Corrie were all given wild cards to the singles draw at the rain-soaked Queen’s Club while Jamie Baker came through the qualifying tournament to gain entry.

 Dan Evans opened play on the Queen’s  Centre Court against Guido Pella who had never played a match on grass before. With a world ranking of 75, Pella was expected to dispose of Evans easily. The sleek surface of Queen’s – rated the best grass court in the world - caused injury scares for both players early on as they struggled to adjust  after months of playing on Clay. Evans raised some eyebrows when he took the first set comfortably 6-3. The Argentinian Pella subsequently showed no fight back and many a Pimm’s was left undrunk as the crowd watched the Englishman wrap up the match, winning the second set 6-1.

 In the second round he faced a much trickier opponent though, drawn against Finnish number 1, Jarkko Nieminen, on the more intimate Court 1. The Finn has made over $6,000,000 in prize money and reached the quarter finals of 3 Grand Slams.

 Evans showed no caution as he enforced himself onto the 31 year old and, managing to break serve first, he won the opening set 6-4. Despite this strong start, Evans didn’t manage to break Nieminen’s serve in the second set, and subsequently lost it in a tie-break. A few years ago this would have caused him to lose focus and he may have gone on to lose the match, however, this time he rallied, and came back to claim the decisive third set 6-4 in front of a highly supportive partisan crowd.

 
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1.5 billion set to tune in to Glasgow 2014

Written by Adam Henderson.

BUENOS Aires, Argentina, has been announced as the host city for the 2018 Youth Olympics following an unsuccessful bid from Glasgow.

Three cities were shortlisted by the International Olympic Committee for the vote – held in Lausanne, Switzerland – in which Glasgow was knocked-out in the first round with 13 votes out of a total 85. In the final round Buenos Aires gained 10 more votes than Medellin, Colombia, to win the right to host the Games.

Each bidding committee gave a 15-minute presentation before the vote. And IOC President Jacques Rogge said:

“We had three excellent candidates from which to choose a host city today, each with the capability of staging a memorable Youth Olympic Games in 2018. I would like to congratulate Buenos Aires and their bid team for their dedication to and enthusiasm for the Youth Olympic Games project. I have no doubt they will provide a platform on which the best young athletes from around the world can compete and learn about the Olympic values.”

Glasgow is already gearing up to host the Commonwealth Games next year and would also host matches in the 2017 Women’s European Championship if the SFA formalises their interest in hosting the tournament by making a bid next year,

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David Grevemberg: Glasgow will do Scotland proud in 2014

Written by Adam Henderson.

WITH nearly 20 years of experience in Sports Management and an impressive athletic career David Grevemberg has all the credentials to run a major sporting event. However, his childhood in one of America's most diverse cities - New Orleans - also gave him an insight into working with people from all different types of backgrounds and helped shaped his career.

He said: "I grew up as one of the only white kids in my neighbourhood and I look back on that as something that was quite magical in terms of how I identified with myself and with my neighbours and from so many different ways it helped me learn a lot about the importance of looking at everyone equally.
 
"That was something I've taken to heart and no matter where I've been or where I've travelled in the world I've always taken that common approach.

"Growing up in that rich environment taught me a lot. The 1984 World Expo took place there and I remember going there when I must have been about 12 years old and being exposed to all these different cultures but in a New Orleans welcoming environment.
 
"That expanded my horizons and gave me a real strong interest in what was beyond the diversity of New Orleans looking at the diversity of the United States and the World. Its something that's always interested me just getting out there and exploring it and seeing what it was all about. But a lot of it derived from being in a very diverse environment from the beginning."

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Glasgow 2014: David Grevemberg excited about games

Written by Adam Henderson.

AS Chief Executive of Glasgow 2014, David Grevemberg is the man responsible for ensuring that next year's Commonwealth Games go to plan. He spoke to The Away End  about what the people of Glasgow have to look forward next year and also about the journey that has taken him from his hometown of New Orleans to where he is today.

He said: "I'm very excited for the Games. One of the things I say quite often is that it makes it very easy to get up in the morning because you're part of something that means so much to so many people and so it's a real motivation to make the most of this opportunity.
 
"We're almost a year out right now and it all becomes that much more real and we're moving at a much faster pace. It's just a critical time to lock everything down and make sure that we're ready to welcome the Commonwealth with open arms in a couple of months time.

"Tickets will go on sale in August and of course we've had a great response to the volunteer appeal we also have a cultural program including the Queen's baton relay and Festival 2014 on the occasion of our games. There is a lot of different opportunities both inside and outside the venues. But two-thirds of the tickets are £25 or less which I think is a really important point.
 
"There’s concession prices in all the session for under 16s as well as over 60s. If you have a disability and you need a carer with you or need assistance in bringing someone that comes in the price of your ticket. So it's really accessible and inclusive in terms of our ticketing policy but the aim is also to get as many people in the stadia so we also fill the stadia."

With just over a year until the Games it's too early for most athletes to confirm their participation as qualification has not yet started for many sports and injuries could stop them from taking part.
 
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Tennis: Leon Smith selects Davis Cup team

Written by Lewis Birrell.

AHEAD of the Team GB’s tie against Russia over the weekend of 5th April, Leon Smith chose his squad of players this week.

With Andy Murray choosing not to play, as the hard court event would interrupt his clay court preparations, it has become clear that our hopes lie with our players from the ‘ugly’ side of the tour!

As predicted, Leon opted for Davis Cup regular, 26 year old James Ward. His career highlights are reaching the semi-finals of Queens Club 2011, only to be knocked out by a solid Jo Wilfred Tsonga, and reaching the second round of Wimbledon by defeating highly rated Spaniard, Pablo Andujar.

He plies his trade on the second-tier of the ATP tour - the relentless Challenger circuit! He also slogs it out in small, non-glamourous qualifying tournaments to gain entry to larger televised tennis events, such as Masters 1000s, 500s and Grand Slams.

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