Champ Murray stunned by Stepanek

Andy Murray’s reign as Queen’s Club champion ended in stunning fashion on Thursday as Czech veteran Radek Stepanek clinched a shock 7-6 (12-10) 6-2 win over the world number five.

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Murray’s tame, third-round exit at the hands of the unheralded world number 42 is a major blow to his grass-court preparations less than two weeks before the start of Wimbledon, where he will defend the title he won so memorably last year.

It was also the 27-year-old’s first loss since his surprise decision to hire Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach last Sunday.

Since losing to Roger Federer in the 2012 Wimbledon final, Murray had been unstoppable on grass, but his 19-match winning run, which brought him Olympic gold, a first Wimbledon crown and a third Queen’s title, came to a shattering halt in the west London sunshine.

Murray conceded he had no excuses after failing to take any of the eight set points he earned in the first set.

“I have only got myself to blame that I lost the first set. I don’t know how many set points I had, but quite a lot of them were on my serve,” he said.

“On this surface especially you shouldn’t really be losing sets like that. That’s what’s disappointing about the match.

“Then unfortunately I got broke in the first game of the second set and I couldn’t quite get it back.”

Murray had revealed earlier on Thursday how his attempt to hire Mauresmo began with a nervous overnight wait to see if she would respond to his initial contact in a text message.

But on the evidence of this underwhelming display, their partnership, might not last much longer than an initial trial period during the grass-court campaign.

In fairness to Mauresmo, Murray’s malaise has lasted since he beat Novak Djokovic to end Britain’s 77-year wait for a male winner of the Wimbledon singles title.

Since then, hampered by back surgery and his split from previous coach Ivan Lendl, Murray has failed to reach a single ATP Tour or grand slam final.

The British number one had hoped getting back on grass following his run to the French Open semi-finals would signal a further up-turn in his fortunes.

But this defeat suggests there is much to work on with Mauresmo if he is to repeat last year’s Wimbledon heroics.

“I played well on the grass over the last few years, so I would have hoped to have done a bit better,” Murray added.

“But like I said, it’s more about how I get myself ready for Wimbledon now and how I use the next 10 days of preparation on the grass. Hopefully I can do a good job of that.”

Stepanek’s reward for just his second career win over Murray is a quarter-final clash with South African seventh seed Kevin Anderson, who defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

“I am sorry to beat Andy in front of his home crowd,” the 35-year-old said with a grin.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych has never won the Queen’s title, but the big serving Czech has the perfect game for grass and he booked his quarter-final berth with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory over France’s Adrian Mannarino.

Berdych, the world number six, next plays Spanish 10th seed Feliciano Lopez, a 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-3) winner over Kenny De Schepper.

Top seed Stan Wawrinka, the reigning Australian Open champion, routed former Queen’s winner Sam Querrey 6-2 6-2 in only 50 minutes.

Wawrinka’s last eight opponent will be out-spoken Australian Marinko Matosevic, who shocked French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2 6-4 three days after his criticism of Murray’s decision to hire Mauresmo.

Bulgarian fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov defeated Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 and will face Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov, who advanced when Jarkko Nieminen retired in the second set.

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Bayern criticised over Ribery injury

France’s team doctor has criticised Bayern Munich for the way the club handled a lingering back injury that ruled star winger Franck Ribery out of the World Cup.

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Ribery appeared to have made progress from a chronic lower back injury that had plagued him for weeks, only to be ruled out of the competition last Friday when he pulled up in training.

It came just three days before France flew to Brazil, depriving coach Didier Deschamps of his most experienced player and most dangerous attacker.

“When I examined him and we did tests with the X-ray and scans, I was very reassured. There was no reason why he wouldn’t play in the World Cup,” France doctor Franck Le Gall said Thursday.

“We have some explanations for his pain. However, he didn’t find a way … we didn’t find the way for his pains to cease or for him to play through his discomfort.”

Ribery, who has scored 16 goals in 81 appearances for France, made his last appearance of the season for Bayern as a substitute in the German Cup final win over Borussia Dortmund on May 17, when he came on in the first half and was substituted during extra time.

Ribery had been rested following the 4-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the return leg of their Champions League semifinal on April 29, and Le Gall thinks it was too risky for Ribery to play in the Cup final less than three weeks later.

“He was out for more or less three weeks and played a match which he probably shouldn’t have played because he played through pain,” Le Gall said.

He said when Ribery joined up with the France team at its World Cup training camp he “was just as much bothered” by the injury as before.

Bayern “didn’t manage to solve the problem in (those) three weeks”, said Le Gall said, who estimated that Ribery should be ready to play by mid-August.

Le Gall was asked if France had considered treating Ribery’s injury by injection. It was an option that appeared to be ruled out by the France team’s medical staff, even though, Le Gall said, Bayern could be regularly treating its players with jabs.

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Egypt acquits former Mubarak minister

An Egyptian court has acquitted former Hosni Mubarak interior minister Habib Al-Adly of corruption, in a retrial after he had been sentenced to 12 years in 2011.

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In March 2013, a cassation court had ordered the retrial of Adly, who had been convicted of money-laundering and illicitly enriching himself.

The charges were linked to the sale of land owned by Adly who tasked police officials with finding a buyer who would pay the highest possible price.

The disgraced ex-minister, who ran Mubarak’s security services for more than a decade before a popular uprising overthrew the strongman in 2011, will remain in detention.

Adly was widely unpopular because of abuses committed by his security agents and rights groups said the torture of suspects was commonplace during his term in office.

In February, a court upheld a three-year jail sentence handed to Adly for taking advantage of his position and forcing police conscripts to work on his private property.

Along with Mubarak, he had been sentenced to life in prison in 2012 over the killings of protesters in the 2011 uprising.

A court overturned the verdict on technical grounds on Thursday and they are now being retried along with six police commanders.

An official enquiry into deaths during the revolt found at least 846 civilians and 26 police officers were killed.

Adly also stands accused in a separate trial on charges of illicit gains worth 181 million Egyptian pounds ($A27 million), with the next hearing in the trial to take place on September 18.

But the trials of Mubarak and his officials have been overshadowed by the charges against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, ousted in July by ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the country’s new president.

Since Morsi’s ouster, a government crackdown targeting his Islamist supporters has left more than 1400 killed in street clashes, at least 15,000 jailed and hundreds sentenced to death in speedy mass trials that have triggered an international outcry.

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Dark horse Belgium could surprise World Cup Group H

Go to The World Game for all your World Cup news, views and live listings

For a nation of only 11 million, Belgium has assembled a formidable squad.

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Up front, the lightning-fast feet of Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and his club teammate Romelu Lukaku.

 

Whilst Bayern Munich veteran Daniel Van Buyten, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal will stand sentinel in defence.

 

Meanwhile, South Korea will be playing at their eighth consecutive World Cup finals in June but must improve on a dire qualification campaign to have any chance of escaping a tough group in Brazil.

 

The East Asian nation’s team will feature Son Heung-min from Bayer Leverkusen and Koo Ja-cheol from Mainz, also in Germany.

 

Bolton Wanderers mid Lee Chung-yong is the new man wearing the captain’s armband and home-based Kim Shin-wook and Lee Keun-ho are proven goal-scorers.

 

Algeria has constructed its side around a swathe of French-born players, drawn from the massive migrant population in Europe.

 

Among the new recruits are 19-year-old Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb and uncapped Leicester midfielder Riyad Mahrez.

 

Madjid Bougherra is a key figure at the back and Sofiane Feghouli is a strong attacking midfielder.

 

Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic insists his team shouldn’t be discounted because it lacks the star power of other nations.

 

“How many times have I seen small teams beat favourites? For that reason, you have to prepare, work hard and keep the faith. We must try and have no regrets.”

 

For Russia, 2014 Brazil offers a chance to shine again on the world stage after not having appeared at a World Cup since 2002.

 

Players Russia will depend on include Sergey Ignashevich in defence, Roman Shirokov and Victor Fayzulin in midfield, and Alexander Kerzhakov – the former Sevilla striker who’s now with Zenit.

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Fabregas joins Chelsea from Barcelona

Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas has signed for English Premier League club Chelsea from Barcelona, he confirmed on Thursday.

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Fabregas, who is preparing for the World Cup with the Spain squad in Brazil, is believed to have signed a five-year contract for a fee in the region of STG30 million ($A54.76 million).

The 27-year-old former star of Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal said he had “unfinished business” in English football and revealed that Arsenal had decided not to use their option to re-sign him.

He said in a statement: “I considered all the other offers very carefully and I firmly believe that Chelsea is the best choice.

“Yes, everyone knows that Arsenal had the first option to sign me. They decided not to take this option and therefore it wasn’t meant to be. I wish them well in the future.”

Fabregas said it was “extremely important” to him that the move was completed before Spain begin their World Cup defence “so that my mind will only be focused on hopefully helping my country try to retain the trophy”.

With Barcelona having had a rare trophyless season and with Luis Enrique appointed as the new head coach, Fabregas was allowed to leave the Catalan giants and he said Chelsea were an attractive option.

“They match my footballing ambitions with their hunger and desire to win trophies,” he said.

“They have an amazing squad of players and an incredible manager. I am fully committed to this team and I can’t wait to start playing.”

Fabregas joined Arsenal from Barcelona’s youth set-up in 2003 and eventually became captain, but the only trophy he won in England was the 2005 FA Cup.

He left for Barcelona in 2011, but now he returns to the Premier League with Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, in a midfield also featuring Eden Hazard of Belgium and Brazil’s Oscar.

“I do feel that I have unfinished business in the Premier League and now is the right time for me to return,” he said.

He thanked everyone at Barcelona – “my childhood club” – and said: “I will always be proud and honoured that I had a chance to play for such a great team”.

Spain and Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez said Fabregas’ move is a blow to the Catalan club.

“I can see he is happy and contented. Now he is calmer knowing his future. It is an important loss for Barcelona,” Xavi said at a press conference in Brazil ahead of Spain’s World Cup opener against the Netherlands on Friday.

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Facebook offers users control on ads

Facebook says it will begin allowing users more information about the ads delivered to them and to block marketing messages they don’t want to see.

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In a blog post on Thursday, Facebook said its users “tell us they want more control over the ads they see” and that the huge social network is responding to that.

“That’s why we’re introducing ad preferences, a new tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that explains why you’re seeing a specific ad and lets you add and remove interests that we use to show you ads,” the post said.

The option will be available in the United States in the next few weeks, “and we are working hard to expand globally in the coming months,” the statement said.

As an example, Facebook said, “if you’re not interested in electronics, you can remove electronics from your ad interests”.

At the same time, Facebook noted that it would draw from users Web-browsing activities and not just from Facebook, in an effort to target ads for specific users.

“Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as pages you like,” the blog post said.

“Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use. This is a type of interest-based advertising and many companies already do this.”

Facebook will also allow users to opt out of this targeted advertising.

“If you don’t want us to use the websites and apps you use to show you more relevant ads, we won’t,” Facebook said.

Joseph Jerome, a policy fellow at Future of Privacy Forum, said Facebook is offering more to advertisers while boosting control for users.

At the same time, Jerome said Facebook users will be able to see extensive detail about the ads and to edit their profiles.

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World Cup 2014: cheap holidays in other people’s misery?

By Andy Ruddock, Monash University

World Cup 2014 has aired ominous reservations about the impact of the tournament on social justice in Brazil.

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Many worry that the poor will pay for the event long after the final whistle, when global eyes turn elsewhere. These fears typically concern the motivations of businesses and governments. But how might fans affect the political result of the competition?

Painting the World Cup as ‘celebration capitalism’ hardly bodes well. It’s certainly true that fans hold the key to determining its fate as a media and consumer spectacle. Their displays of passion, not only in grounds but in pubs and public spaces around the world, will be vital elements of media coverage. And the money they spend as spectators, audiences, eaters, drinkers and tourists will be more important than their reasons for participating in the event. When the Sex Pistols sang about ‘cheap holidays in other people’s misery’ a quarter of a century ago, they could well have been addressing today.

Brazil 2014: were the Sex Pistols right?

On the other hand, research on football fans urges caution when giving consumption a bad rap; there was a time when it was celebrated as a path to social justice for fans who had very real political grievances.

After 1989’s Hillsborough tragedy, some fans wondered if ‘consumer’ might be a handy sobriquet. The idea was floated that the disaster would not have happened if Liverpool supporters had been treated like paying customers, rather than a problem to be controlled.

Others latched on to the idea that rebuilding football around consumption could make the game more culturally inclusive. In the UK, revamped, consumer-friendly stadiums were seen as chances to start afresh with Asian supporters. The physical eradication of spaces that primarily appealed to white men was no bad thing.

Certainly, a spirit of cosmopolitanism was apparent among fans who took advantage of the travel opportunities created by budget airlines and the European Champions League. Manchester United fans embraced Europe with a fervour that would make Nigel Farage weep, taking pride in their efforts to try new languages and show respect for other cultures.

Scotland’s ‘Tartan Army’ introduced the same sentiment to the World Cup. Anxious to distinguish themselves from the ‘Auld Enemy’, Scotland supporters have engaged in a more or less conscious exercise in national self-branding at international tournaments. Knowing the world is watching, they make a point of showing that it’s nice to be nice.

So there’s every reason to think that many who go to Brazil will take a genuine interest in the social controversies surrounding the tournament. But the prospects aren’t quite so positive when it comes to the television audience.

To date, television hasn’t been especially good at cultivating lasting interest in distanced injustice. Some studies show that when confronted with images of complicated overseas conflicts, audiences look for easy answers to tough questions. Struggles brought about by labyrinthine political and economic arrangements are interpreted as the inevitable outcome of an inherently chaotic developing world.

Prospects get worse when you consider how the World Cup will bind most of us to local leisure economies. The tournament’s location matters less than where we will watch it. The most pressing question for many will be, which pub offers the best deals?

But that’s another article…

Andy Ruddock does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Abbott, Obama meeting a serious affair

Barack Obama didn’t let a thing like a war in Iraq get in the way of his meeting with Tony Abbott.

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It says a lot about the strength of the US-Australia relationship that the meeting between the US president and Australian prime minister still went ahead at the White House on Thursday.

Behind the scenes, Obama’s national security advisers were frantically coming up with a strategy to deal with key Iraqi cities such as Mosul falling to jihadists, who also had Baghdad in their sights.

In the Oval Office, Obama and Abbott were swapping stories about surfing as Abbott handed over an Air Force One-styled surfboard and a pair of RM Williams boots as gifts.

Then they got down to business.

Abbott came with the message that he would continue the tradition of his mentor John Howard and be an “utterly dependable ally” of the US.

They agreed to keep progressing the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a 12-nation free-trade zone for the Asia-Pacific – and use November’s G20 summit in Brisbane to encourage private sector-driven growth.

Obama even offered an olive branch on the issue of climate change.

He told Abbott he accepted that the prime minister had an electoral mandate to get rid of the carbon tax.

Abbott reassured the president he was committed to delivering Australia’s emission cut target of five per cent by 2020.

The means, he said, were less important than the end result.

Defence dominated much of the talks. The US is looking to boost its military presence in the region and call on Australia to help build a new coalition of well-trained and ready allies should Asia-Pacific nations fail or humanitarian crises arise.

To help this along, a Force Posture Agreement was signed to allow the US to have a sustained military presence – that is, more ships, aircraft and marines – in Australia over the next 25 years.

Abbott brought a businesslike approach to the meeting, which Obama appreciated given the seriousness of the times.

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Brazil set to dominate World Cup Group A

Go to The World Game for all your World Cup news, views and live listings

Stars named in the country’s World Cup squad include Barcelona’s Dani Alves, David Luiz from Chelsea, Thiago Silva from Paris Saint-Germain, Hulk from Zenit St Petersburg and Fred from Fluminense.

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But perhaps their brightest star this year will be 22-year-old Barcelona forward Neymar.

 

The young star says it’s a moment of significance not only for himself, but also for all of Brazil.

 

“It is a big moment and a great honour to take part in a World Cup in my country.”

“It is a unique opportunity and Brazilians are very happy that visitors are coming to discover their cities, culture and country. Opening up our doors to the entire world makes this a very exciting time.”

 

But of course Brazil must first escape Group A – which sees them face Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon – no walk in the park, by any means.

 

Let’s start with Mexico, which made life tough for itself by only managing a fourth-place finish in the CONCACAF regional qualifying group.

 

The World Cup squad named by new coach Miguel Herrera relies heavily on players plying their trade in the Mexican league – including veteran defenders Carlos Salcido, Rafael Marquez and Francisco Rodríguez.

 

In announcing his World Cup squad, Miguel Herrera said he’s trying to rebuild the Mexico team from the bottom up.

 

“Everyone is going to start from scratch, we will start working with everyone equally. Rafa Marquez will wear the captain’s badge if he is on the field,” he said.

“There is not one who is in a situation where he will play because he is among the 23.”

“We want a great competition and the 11 who will go out for the start of the first game against Cameroon will do so because my coaching staff and myself decided they should be the ones starting the World Cup.”

 

Croatia. which will have high hopes of escaping Group A, given the calibre of its squad.

 

The Croatian preliminary team boasts the likes of Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic, Eduardo da Silva of Shakhtar Donetsk, Ivan Rakitic of Sevilla, and veteran captain Darijo Srna, also of Shakhtar.

 

And lastly, Cameroon, the self-styled Indomitable Lions, which has perhaps done more than any other African nation to change perceptions of African football.

 

Veteran Samuel Eto’o is joined in the 2014 squad by Tottenham Hotspur defender Benoît Assou-Ekotto, Barcelona midfielder Alex Song and Rennes’ Jean Makoun.

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How to avoid bad luck on Friday the 13th

There’s even a word for this fear: <em style="line-height: 1.

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538em;”>friggatriskaidekaphobia

Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville in the US, said the phobia affects 17 to 21 million Americans alone. 

“It’s been estimated that $US800 or $US900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do,” Mr Dossey said.

Symptoms of phobia may include mild anxiety to debilitating panic attacks.

There’s only one Friday 13 this year and it’s already proving to be a special one.

Superstitious stargazers will be treated to a rare “Full Honey Moon,” which hasn’t happened on Friday the 13th for about 14 years.

So, full moon aside, here’s what you need to do to avoid bad luck on this ominous day. 

1. Don’t own, walk into, or help a friend look after a black cat.

Black cats are thought to be a sign of bad luck. Unfortunately, because of this superstition, black cats are half as likely to be adopted.

2. Instead, keep a cricket by your side for good luck.

3. Don’t let a bird fly into your window or into your house.

It is thought to be bad luck.

4. Don’t walk under a ladder

It’s just not a good idea.

5. Avoid unlucky numbers like 13 (obviously) and 666.

In some East Asian and Southeast Asian regions like China, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, people also believe the number 4 is bad luck, as the pronunciation is similar to the word ‘death’. This fear of the number 4 is known as tetraphobia, and some buildings or apartments in these countries even skip floors 4, 14, 24 and so on.

6. And while you’re at it, don’t use umbrellas inside. 7. But if you need break a spell, turn seven times in a clockwise circle. 

Seven is thought to be a lucky number.

8. Whatever you do, don’t break any mirrors.

Apart from being a hassle to clean up, some people believe mirrors hold bits to your soul. 

9. If in doubt, knock on wood for good luck. 

The symbolism of wood may come from the Christian belief that Christ died on a wooden cross to save humanity from sin.

10. And if all else fails, stay in bed until Saturday 14 comes along.

Just make sure you get out of bed on the same side you got in. 

Good luck!

And remember not everyone is afraid of Black Friday- it’s also a cause for celebration!

Hello BlackFriday the 13th and hello #NITV Black cat being a little cheeky at the studio this morning with our… 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/8jwbmUpBoc

— NITV (@NITV) June 12, 2014

 

Celebrating Blackness at #NITV today with our cheeky #BlackFriday 13 Cat – pouncing on the unexpected! pic.twitter南宁桑拿网,/dZYN9YyFp7

— Tanya Orman (@TanyaDenning) June 12, 2014

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