GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 ACAPULCO, Mexico – Japan’s Shinobu Asagoe sent top-seeded Elena Dementieva crashing out of the Mexican Open after coming from a set down to defeat the Russian 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round Wednesday.In the men’s draw, top-seeded Carlos Moya of Spain beat Ricardo Mello of Brazil 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in an upset-filled second round. Second-seeded David Nalbadian and No. 3 Gaston Gaudio, both Argentines, were ousted from the $900,000 event by a pair of compatriots. Mariano Zabaleta beat Nalbadian 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 6-0, and Agustin Calleri took Gaudio 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5). Meanwhile, Japan No. 1 Ai Sugiyama defeated Evgenia Koulikovskaya of Russia 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the State Farm Women’s Classic in Arizona.
Japan’s Ai Sugiyama will face American world No. 5 Jennifer Capriati in her opening match at the season-ending WTA Championships as organizers on Tuesday released the schedule of play for the opening day on Wednesday.Sugiyama, ranked 11th, booked her ticket to $3 million event in Los Angeles after reaching the semifinals of last week’s Advanta Championships and will be the first Japanese player appearing at the elite eight-woman championships since Kimiko Date played in 1996. Meanwhile, Sugiyama will sit out the national tennis championships later this month to recover from a taxing season on the WTA Tour, the Japan Tennis Association said Tuesday. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 In the reverse singles with the score tied 1-1, Kurumi Nara and Misaki Doi lost to Kiki Bertens and Arantxa Rus, respectively, ahead of the doubles, which Japan won in three sets.Shuko Aoyama and Risa Ozaki paired up for Japan to beat Richel Hogenkamp and Michaella Krajicek 6-1, 3-6, 10-8 after a first-to-10 tiebreak.Ayumi Morita and Kimiko Date-Krumm were not picked in order to give some of Japan’s younger players experience at the competition. Japan was relegated to the Asia-Oceania zone of the Fed Cup for the first time in three years after losing 3-2 to the Netherlands in the World Group II playoff on Sunday.“We wanted to stay in the World Group, but we have to face up to this result,” Japan captain Yuka Yoshida said. “We need to improve in every way.” GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
KEYWORDS The pair both wasted chances to seal the set as they mixed glorious winners with nervy misses, with Robredo blowing a fifth match point at 7-6, before Murray eventually blasted an unstoppable forehand to take it 11-9 and force a decider.World No. 11 Murray then broke Robredo three times in the third with the Spaniard, also chasing a first win of the year, appearing hampered by injury as he failed to chase down balls.“Today was obviously an incredibly tough match . . . and I got lucky at the end of the second set,” Murray said in a courtside interview.“I fought hard and I tried my best and thankfully managed to turn it around.“Tommy had a great tournament, he probably deserved to win the match today. He had the opportunities in the second set but sometimes that happens in sport. I just tried to fight to the end.”The victory at the $590,230 outdoor hardcourt event boosted Murray’s hopes of making a sixth appearance at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London in November after he was forced to withdraw from the event last year through injury.The 27-year-old Scot moved up to 10th by adding 250 points to his tally and is within 105 points of Czech Tomas Berdych in the eight and final qualifying spot.The victory, the 29th of his career, came after a difficult week for the normally shy Briton, who received horrendous abuse on social media for supporting Scottish independence in a referendum earlier this month.“I want to thank my friends and family back home especially my girlfriend, she supported me a lot this week, it’s been a very tough week for me and they have supported me,” said an emotional Murray.A despondent Robredo, who had bullied the Briton with a bruising forehand for the opening two sets, took little satisfaction from his second runnerup finish of the year.“It’s tough to accept when you are so close,” Robredo said during the prize giving.“Anyway, congratulations Andy, he did a great job he fought to the end and at the end his deserved it.” GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES Andy Murray RELATED PHOTOS Great Scot: Andy Murray hits a shot during his 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 6-1 win over Tommy Robredo in the final of the Shenzhen Open on Sunday. | REUTERS SINGAPORE – An emotional Andy Murray thanked his lucky stars after saving five match points before beating Spain’s Tommy Robredo 5-7, 7-6 (9-7), 6-1 to win the Shenzhen Open in China on Sunday — his first title since winning Wimbledon last year.The two-time Grand Slam winner and Olympic champion appeared heading for an upset defeat when he trailed 6-2 in the second set tiebreak, only to reel off four straight points as Robredo tightened when on the brink of victory. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5
Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, dropped from fourth to ninth despite exiting in the semifinals. In the season standings, which will decide who plays in the ATP World Tour Finals, Wawrinka is third behind Djokovic and Murray. Nishikori, who reached his first Tour Finals last year, is sixth in the season standings. Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Kei Nishikori, who reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, saw his result reflected in the newly released rankings on Monday as the world No. 5 player remained unchanged from the previous week.Novak Djokovic, who beat Andy Murray in Sunday’s final, retained his world No. 1 ranking, while Murray moved up two spots from No. 6 to No. 4. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are ranked second and third, respectively. KEYWORDS
KOLOMNA, RUSSIA – Miho Takagi wrapped up the speedskating world single distances championships by taking third in the women’s mass start on Sunday.Takagi, who struck out in her four other races at the meet, finished behind winner Ivanie Blondin of Canada and South Korea’s Kim Bo-reum in the new event that will be introduced at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 KEYWORDS speedskating, Miho Takagi “It’s nice to have won a medal in the end,” said Takagi, who finished eighth in the 1,500 meters the same day. “The race unfolded just as I thought it would. I feel confident now of winning at the Olympics if it comes down to pace at the end.” GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
It’s been a year since Japan shocked the world with its stunning victory over South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in England. And ever since the Brave Blossoms’ breakthrough performance, rugby has been in a far brighter spotlight.As the host nation for the 2019 World Cup, that is certainly a plus. Organizing committee CEO Akira Shimazu said at a countdown fan event in Tokyo on Tuesday — which marked exactly three years until the World Cup’s opening match — that preparations for rugby’s showpiece tournament have gotten smoother over the past year since Japan’s World Cup success. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 RELATED PHOTOS KEYWORDS Japan prop Kensuke Hatakeyama shakes hands with a fan at a 2019 Rugby World Cup countdown event in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES Brave Blossoms, 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2015 Rugby World Cup “Hopefully, we’ll be in a favorable pool and get through the group stage, advancing to the knockout stage,” he said.But the team’s achievements in Britain last year don’t guarantee anything for the Japan national team and the organizers of the 2019 tourney, which will be the first World Cup to be held in Asia and played in a country where rugby is not a major sport.Hosting the World Cup is a golden opportunity for the game in Japan. And the organizers and players feel that they need to capitalize and step up preparations and promotions for the event right away.“We only have three years,” said national team player and two-time Top League MVP Shota Horie. “While we’ve got to improve every single day as players, we’ve also got to spread the game across the nation. In order to do that, we need support from the fans and the association (Japan Rugby Football Union).”Said top player Kensuke Hatakeyama: “As a player, I’ve got to play at a level where I deserve to be chosen (for the national team). And off the field, I want to raise the values of the sport.”Fumiaki Tanaka, a diminutive scrum-half and vocal leader on the national team, has urged the association and organizers to put more effort into promoting the game and take advantage of the recent rugby boom.The 31-year-old insisted that Japan should put the South Africa victory behind it and begin moving forward (the players and invited fans watched highlights of the Japan-South Africa game during the event).Tanaka said that the players have set the bar high since ex-Japan coach Eddie Jones was at the helm, so he is not too worried about their performance and mindset.But he doesn’t feel that the association and administrators have done enough to promote the game, citing the case of last season’s Top League opener between his Panasonic Wild Knights and Suntory Sungoliath at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground last November. The game took place immediately after the World Cup, but the stadium was almost half empty due to the league’s poor ticket sales strategy.“It’s now or never,” Tanaka said of the sport’s current popularity in Japan. “Both the players and association have got to do their jobs. If we fall into darkness, how are we going to promote the game from there? If we work together more, I believe that the 2019 World Cup will be a tournament that everybody will fully enjoy.”
Sunwolves coach Filo Tiatia rung the changes in naming his team Thursday to take on the Highlanders in Invercargill, New Zealand, this weekend.Tiatia’s run-on XV shows seven changes and one positional switch from the side that started last week’s 50-3 loss to the Crusaders as the former All Black looks to get one up on Highlanders coach Tony Brown and his assistant Mark Hammett, who coached the Sunwolves in their inaugural season. KEYWORDS GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES Brown will leave the 2015 Super Rugby champions at the end of the season to become assistant coach with the Japan national team and, having been part of the Brave Blossoms during the November 2016 test matches, knows many of the Sunwolves well like Hammett.None more so than Fumiaki Tanaka, who played alongside Brown at Panasonic Wild Knights before the New Zealander coached him at both Otago and the Highlanders.Tanaka starts at scrumhalf for the Sunwolves on Saturday and said he was excited about playing in front of the fans that made him so welcome during his time in New Zealand’s south island.Tanaka partners Yu Tamura in a backline that sees Timothy Lafaele move from 13 to 12 and William Tupou come in at outside center. Super Rugby, Fumiaki Tanaka, Highlanders, Sunwolves, Mark Hammett, Filo Tiatia, Tony Brown IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5
FacebookTwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享The 24th annual Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament kicks off this weekend on March 25th. The tournament is a one day event that takes place at Kachemak Bay. Maryott: “Based on the weather forecast for Kachemak Bay there were continued icy conditions on the harbor, and we felt it necessary for the safety of the tournament participants, boats, and harbor to postpone until the next weekend.” Bridget Maryott with the Homer Chamber of Commerce.. All registrations made for March 19th were automatically transferred to March 25th. The tournament was previously set for March 19th, but due to weather conditions was postponed one week.
The group hopes to fill the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex for Friday’s game against the Knights at 7:30 p.m. They are hoping for an attendance around 2,500 fans to fill the seats at the sports complex for the game. The group has until April 15th to raise $300,000 in order to ensure the Brown Bears another season. Stuber: “We really don’t have much left in winter as a community to come around, and that’s the bottom line. It’s about the community and community involvement.” On February 26th the North American Hockey League Board of Governors held a meeting with the Brown Bears general Manager Nate Kiel and it was announced that the team would not have a next season. Sterling resident Steven Stuber is working with a group of other community members who are reaching out for support to save the Brown Bears. FacebookTwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享A local group is pushing for support in hopes of saving the Kenai Brown Bears Hockey team for another season. Stuber: “All of a sudden the word really started to get out there, and people care. Our big push is to fill the sports center tomorrow night and to show local businesses and the community that we care.”