It’s the first week of June and the world’s leading tennis stars are bidding for glory at one of the sport’s blue riband events - the French Open.
There’s nothing quite like the clay courts at Roland Garros, and the prize on offer is huge.
But what’s the secret to success?
Like any grand slam, getting to the latter stages requires meticulous planning, preparation, support and, where you can find it, routine. FULL POST
By John Sinnott
It was a side that thrilled the English Premier League.
From the glut of goals provided by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, to the speed of Raheem Sterling and the guile of Philippe Coutinho, as well as the deployment of Steven Gerrard as football's answer to the quarterback, Liverpool's re-emergence last season was the arguably the biggest surprise in the race for the title.
If Liverpool ultimately fell short in finishing second, some compensation came in the form of player awards for Suarez and a manager of the year award for Brendan Rodgers.
But one man’s name was never mentioned in despatches in discussions as to why a team that had finished seventh the previous season gave eventual winners Manchester City the fright of their lives.
That man was Ian Graham, a Cambridge graduate, who holds a PhD in theoretical physics. FULL POST
After the tumult of the trophy lift, as the Real Madrid players frolicked on the Stadium of Light's pitch, the eye was drawn towards Sergio Ramos.
Using a large silk flag as a matador's cloak, he drew loud blasts of "Ole" from the crowd with every swish of the cloth. There was no bull in sight but a beast had been slain; an imaginary one, given tremendous bulk by the club's fervent desire for "La Decima."
With a record-extending 10th European Cup secured, the removal of that burdensome weight helped propel the buoyant celebrations of everyone associated with the tournament's most successful ever team. FULL POST
What’s wrong with Rafael Nadal?
It’s an audacious question to ask of someone who’s just made back-to-back finals, and who is, not to mention, the world's top-ranked men's tennis player.
And yet, many people are asking just that.
The reason is simple. Our expectations for Rafa on clay don’t merely begin and end with winning. We expect complete and utter domination. We expect perfection. FULL POST
It’s his way. Or no way.
Simply put, Louis van Gaal doesn't suffer fools gladly - and as Manchester United’s star-studded squad is about to find out, no-one’s immune!
The Dutchman’s appointment as manager on Monday truly marks the end of the glorious Alex Ferguson era. Never again will we see that kind of longevity or continuity. Ferguson had ruled Britain's biggest club with a rod of iron from 1986 to 2013, winning everything in sight including 13 English Premier League titles and two European Champions League crowns. FULL POST
All too often we see a favorite endlessly hyped up before a race only to disappoint on the big day.
Well, that certainly was not the case in this year’s Kentucky Derby.
California Chrome, the flashy chestnut colt, was the focus of intense pre-race attention in the week leading up to the Derby not only because of his impressive credentials but also because of his story.
Everybody loves an underdog and this bargain basement horse, in the purple and green “DAP” silks with a green bucking donkey motif on the back, belonged to two regular guys enjoying their first foray into the complex world of horse breeding.
Photo by Felipe Barral
Steve Coburn and Perry Martin each bought a share in a relatively inexpensive filly racehorse, Love The Chase, who won one race in six starts.
When the partnership decided to cut their losses and sell the sweet but slow filly, Coburn and Martin opted to buy out their partners for a value of $8,000 and send her to the breeding barn.
Selecting a stallion to “cover” your mare is often a labor intensive, almost mathematic process depending on what type of horse you are trying to produce.
For reasons best known to them, the pair settled on Lucky Pulpit for a fee of $2,000, himself an adequate racehorse who never fulfilled his maximum potential due to illness.
Eleven months later, out came the foal that would come to be named California Chrome - the name was pulled out of a hat of suggestions made by the owners and their families. Seabisquik was also in the mix.
When they sent the horse, now a three-year-old, to veteran trainer Art Sherman, the rookie owner-breeders told the ex-jockey that this would be his Kentucky Derby winner.
To cut a long story short, under the watchful care of his veteran trainer, this bonny horse who loves to race progressed so well that he wound up an unlikely favorite for the most famous race in the world.
And then he won it.
Going back to the colors worn by his Mexican jockey Victor Espinoza, the DAP stands for Dumb Ass Partnerships - so named by Coburn and Martin when those around them said only a "dumb ass" would buy California Chrome's mother Love The Chase.
While it's probably not the classiest name around, it does prove that for all the money and time spent on trying to breed the perfect racehorse, sometimes it's just down to luck.
So much has been said and written about Neymar Jr, the 22-year-old from Santos being billed as the next Pele – particularly since his controversial move to Barcelona, it's difficult not to head into an interview with preconceptions.
Big money move and below-par form aside, he's one of the most photographed footballers of the moment, he was named the most marketable footballer on the planet by Sportspro and he has the haircut and model girlfriend to boot.
I'm pleased to say I'm not so long in the tooth that I don't get excited by sitting down to interview star footballers like Neymar. But there can be a certain amount of "take a deep breath, here it goes" ahead of sitting down with some of the current generation.
With the out-of-touch, overpaid, media-trained-within-an-inch-of-their-lives types, it can be a challenge. FULL POST
When former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson steps up to the lectern to deliver the first of his Harvard Business School lectures in May, he won’t be short of material.
He knows all about the art of building winning teams, how to deal with the pressure of the media and, of course, the secrets of time management, more commonly known in football circles as "Fergie Time."
Ferguson retired last May after claiming a 13th English Premier League title with United - the 49th and final trophy of an illustrious 39-year career in football management.
It’s a record of unparalleled achievement, but barely a year after the Scot stepped down it appears there is one gaping hole in the Ferguson management repertoire - successful succession planning. FULL POST
The Chinese calendar says it's the year of the horse. Some commentators were convinced it was going to be the year of the prancing horse when Kimi Raikkonen joined Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.
But they were wrong, 2014 is the year of Mercedes.
After a clean sweep of wins for the Silver Arrows in the first three races of the season, next up it's the Chinese Grand Prix.
The venue, the Shanghai International Circuit, is known as something of an engineering marvel - built on 40,000 concrete pillars to stop it sinking into the marshland.
But the circuit won't be the only spectacular feat of engineering on display this weekend. FULL POST
This was no classic Masters, but it was certainly validation for Gerry Watson, the 35-year-old golf phenom from Baghdad, Florida.
Called Bubba since he was a baby in the hospital, he backed up his playoff win of two years ago by dominating the 78th staging of the Masters, here at Augusta National.
Judging by his performance, which was both strategic and entertaining, he has the tools to win several more Green Jackets and there won't really be a way to Bubba-proof the course.
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