Prime minister says planned trip and address on 3 March is a moral obligation to urge the US not to negotiate a deal that might endanger Israel
Prime minister says planned trip and address on 3 March is a moral obligation to urge the US not to negotiate a deal that might endanger Israel
Obama arrives Sunday to be the first US presidential guest of honor at India's grand parade on Republic Day. While Obama has called the US-India relationship pivotal in the 21st century, divides on trade, energy, geopolitics are deeper than advertised.
70 mins: Ajax continue to give the ball away, and Boilesen almost blunders calamitously when he concedes possession on the edge of his own area. Feyenoord have a man advantage briefly but Kazim-Richards is closed down before he can get a proper shot in.
69 mins: Ajax chance! A lovely Van Rhijn cross from the right, low and menacing, is spilled by the keeper, Schone pounces on it but is just closed down.
68 mins: And now tempers are fraying after another niggly foul givers Ajax a free-kick. Schone takes it, can’t beat the first man, or the first tackle, but still wins it back and wriggles into the area only to be brilliantly dispossessed by Clasie.
66 mins: We have a booking, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s for Feyenoord’s Kongolo, but for obstruction at a goalkick rather than any limb-endangering hack
65 mins: Clasie wins a corner on Feyenoord’s right. It’s worked out to the opposite flank but Boetius’s cross is hacked clear.
64 mins: Ajax Substitution: Zimling comes on for the debutant Bazoer.
63 mins: Feyenoord are back on top, as Clasie and Toornstra initiate another mood, but the final ball and finish is not there.
62 mins: Another non-booking. Toornstra fells Andersen yet still there is no punishment beyond a free-kick. This is adversely affecting the match now.
61 mins: Clasie wins a free-kick after a driving run is brought to a shuddering halt by Van der Hoorn. But again the referee decides to show a card. The free-kick comes to nothing.
58 mins: The manager Fred Rutten is famously reluctant to use his substitutes but I wonder whether Feyenoord might need a change soon. They’re enjoying possession though and Toornstra’s long ball finds Boetius who plays it back for the inrushing Toornstra whose low shot is firm and on-target but easy enough for the keeper to gather.
56 mins: Ajax are playing slightly more fluent football than they were in the first half but the basic pattern hasn’t shifted that much - Feyenoord are snapping into them quicker and denying them space and momentum. Though going forward, the visitors have shown less since the interval.
54 mins: Nice attacking move from Feyenoord. Wilkshire’s ball in is chested down by Kazim-Richards deftly for El Ahmadi but he’s closed down and the ball is cleared.
52 mins: Schone and Andersen pull off a skilful little combination on the left, which proves enough to spark the Ajax fans into some lusty chanting. But their team aren’t really any nearer to a breakthrough. And a spell of possession comes to nothing when Andersen’s dinked ball forward goes straight to the keeper.
5o mins: Kazim-Richards gets clear on the right, beats his man but tries a shot from a too-tricky angle and it rebounds into the side netting.
49 mins: Some Ajax possession draws a free-kick for a foul on Serero. They’ll be grateful just to have their collective feet on the ball for a bit after a torrid first half, and they win another free-kick on the right after inducing another hack. Schone’s ball in is headed clear by Kongolo though. Danger averted.
46 mins: Immers wins possession and drives forward as Feyenoord resume their first-half tenacity but his shot is blocked for a throw. Which comes to nothing.
The teams re-emerge, to the sound of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, and Feyenoord get us underway.
Half-time reshuffle news: Sigthursson is getting ready to come on for Ajax, for Milik, who has disappointed and looked lost in attack - though his goalline headed clearance may prove vital.
And a first half in which the visitors have been dominant ends. Feyenoord might just be kicking themselves that they’re not ahead - they’ve been sharper, swifter and better organised but it’s not quite come off in their finishing. Ajax are booed off - ‘they’re a demanding crowd’ is the commentary box view. In other words, they like a good moan. Which is fine. Football’s all about moaning. Back in 10 minutes or so.
44 mins: Ajax are giving the ball away in midfield alarmingly frequently but Feyenoord can’t quite build on the resultant breaks. Andersen gets forward on the left for the home team and it’s played across to Van Rhijn on the right but his curling ball in eludes everyone. Ho hum.
41 mins: More Feyenoord possession and pressing, but Boetius wastes his cross from the left which drifts over for a goalkick.
39 mins: Kazim-Richards wins a corner when his diagonal ball in from the right is volleyed behind for a corner. From which there’s a mad scramble and Clasie’s close-range header is headed off the line by Milik. The resultant corner sparks more uncertain defending and scrambling and Feyenoord come again but a low shot skims well wide. Ajax look extremely uncertain at set-pieces.
37 mins: Schone is the source of most Ajax attacking promptings but the home side just can’t find space and when the ball is worked out to Kishna on the left, he’s swiftly closed down and dispossessed to win a throw.
35 mins: Boetius heads on for Kazim-Richards on the left. the cross is deflected out but only as far as Immers who initiates another prolonged spell of Feyenoord possession. Van der Hoorn eventually clears the danger when the ball is punted long into the area. Ajax fans are whistling their dissatisfaction.
33 mins: If I were a Feyenoord fan, I suspect my mood might be slightly shifting from “this is going really well isn’t it?” to a more fretful “Shouldn’t we have scored by now?”
31 mins: More nerves for Ajax as Boilesen skews a clearance straight up in the air inside his own area but the keeper gathers.
30 mins: More slick stuff from the visitors as Boetius feeds Toornstra down the left and he gets to the byline and puts a low ball in for Kazim-Richards that’s squeezed clear at the last second, and Ajax are reprieved by an offside flag anway
27 mins: Clasie is looking, ahem, pretty classy in the Feyenoord midfield and pulling many strings, but the visitors’ final ball and crossing isn’t completely up to scratch either and another long punt from the right is easily gathered by Cillesen.
26 mins: Some fluent football at last from Ajax, as at the end of a swift passing move Andersen finds Kishna on the inside left channel but his pass isn’t quite measured enough to give him a clear shooting opportunity. And the ball is eventually cleared.
24 mins: Possession stats show Feyenoord 53%-47% ahead, for what that’s worth. Which is nothing. Keep superfluous statistics out of football. Anyway, Feyenoord still looking the better side as Immers heads wide.
22 mins: Excitement for the home crowd as Boilesen puts Milik through in space but that excitement is swifly snuffed out by the assistant’s flag for offside.
20 mins: Ajax clear the danger, but they’re unmistakably second best at the moment.
19 mins: Save! The corner prompts some head-tennis and general failure to clear and a ricochet then falls kindly for Kazim-Richards with only the keeper to beat from six yards, but Cillesen saves brilliantly with his feet. Corner.
18 mins: A period of patient possession football by Feyenoord, which irritates the crowd, is wasted when Van Beek thumps the ball wildly out on the left for a throw. They regain possession though, and win a free-kick for a foul by Schone on Wilkshire. The visitors build again. Boetius finds Kazim-Richards who knocks it back to, I think, Immer whose cross for Boetius needs to be headed behind for a corner.
14 mins: Kazim-Richards is looking swift and dangerous and outpaces Van der Hoorn with alarming ease chasing a long pass forward, but can’t get the ball under control and hacks behind for a goalkick to Ajax.
13 mins: Feyenoord win their second corner but it’s punted clear, and when Wilkshire picks it up again his hopeful ball forward is, well, hopeless. It’s a goalkick.
12 mins: Ajax go forward and Schone playes it wide for Bazoer on the left, who cuts inside confidently but his low shot is easily gathered at the near post by Feyenoord’s ex-Ajax keeper Vermeer, who’s predictably getting howled at every time he touches the ball.
9 mins: Clasie wins the ball well in midfield, surviving shouts of handball, and the ball is worked through to Immers who sends a fierce but inaccurate 25-yard drive wide of the right hand post. Feyenoord look sharper and more tenacious at the moment.
6 mins: Feyenoord try to get forward, with a nice ball forward by Kazim-Richards for Boetius but Ajax clear. Feyenoord come again and induce a defensive error, and a poor slice out for a throw to the visitors. From it there’s a fearsome scramble on the edge of the six-yard box and Kazim-Richards wriggles past three and wins a corner with a shot from a tight angle. Kongolo heads it over.
3 mins: A crunching foul by Ajax this time, Van Rhijn clattering into the back of Clasie, in a classic ‘let-em-know-you’re-there’ early reducer. Sophisticated.
2 mins: Ajax get forward, with teenage debutant Bazoer foraging on the left and winning a throw. From it Milik has two shots on goal blocked, one by his own team-mate Andersen.
1 mins: We being with an extended bout of midfield pinball, and a crunching foul, winning Ajax a free-kick.
And we’re underway, Ajax kicking off, and both sides lining up in a 4-3-3.
The interminable anthemic melodramatic Europop on the PA system ends, and out come the players to more traditional fanfare. Under a pitchside tunnel of balloons.
The Ajax crowd is in full cry now, the impact of which is slightly diluted by the sight of people in the crowd filming it on their phones rather than throwing themselves into it properly, and actually being part of the spectacle rather than showing off about it on the internet. Kick phones out of football, folks.
Fan passion news:
One can overplay the fanaticism surrounding fixtures, and lapse into cliche, nonetheless here’s Ajax supporters watching yesterday’s training session:
And they line up like this:
Ajax: Cillesen; Boilesen, Van der Hoorn, Van Rhijn, Moisander; Serero, Andersen, Bazoer; Schone, Milik, Kishna. Subs: Boer, Sigthursson, El Ghazi, Tete, Viergever, Zimling, Menig.
Morning everyone. Sunday morning/lunchtime, frankly, is no time for football but our TV overlords think otherwise, so here they are, in their thousands, at the Amsterdam ArenA for what is always one of the spikiest, most keenly anticipated fixtures in the Dutch football calendar. Ajax in particular need a win to lift their hopes of catching the leaders PSV Eindhoven, who won 2-1 at Cambuur yesterday to put themselves seven points clear of second-placed Ajax and 15 ahead of Feyenoord in third, although they have played a game more. Fred Rutten’s visitors will fall seriously adrift of their rivals from Amsterdam should they lose today.
Winning this fixture has always mattered to both sides, of course, and the rancorous relationship between the two has been reflected in the banning of away supporters from it for the past five years. Furthermore, the buildup to today’s meeting has been soured by the midweek fire at Ajax’s main supporters club with arson suspected. Fingers of blame are being pointed at Feyenoord fans, and security will be tight today.
Good morning. Tom will be here shortly for live coverage of Ajax v Feyenoord, arguably the biggest game in Dutch club football. Could it be Ajax boss Frank de Boer’s last for the club? Louise Taylor reckons it might be, after he dropped a few hints about joining Newcastle this summer:
Asked if he would consider relocating to Tyneside the 44-year-old former Holland captain appeared to drop Mike Ashley a hint. “I have everything open,” said the Ajax head coach.
“But I will be ready that’s for sure. I only said if they asked I don’t go now because I am with Ajax and I don’t want to go halfway through a season while also stepping into a team that are already halfway too. So, for me, if there will be a chance it is always in the new season.”Continue reading...
*Dimitrov 5-2, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 Murray Dimitrov swipes another of his crosscourt forehands to open the game - what a weapon it is - but a 30-0, he arrives at the net too early, and nets. But Mats likes the tactic, so it’s fine with the world, and Dimitrov has a problem with his racket - it’s shedding lead -and Murray catches him with a wondrous lob, his response from the baseline again hitting the net. But he changes implement and wins the next point, before Murray again conjured a delectable lob on the almost half-volley; deuce. And Dimitrov responds with an ace - what a competitor, what temperament -and then another service winner. Brilliant from both supermen.
Dimitrov 4-2, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 Murray* At the moment, Murray isn’t sure whether to attack or wait, and Dimitrov, primed solely for aggression, is taking advantage. 15-0 up, he’s incredibly fast to a well-disguised and well-executed dropshot, flipping and forcing a winner down the line, and he quickly closes out a love game that appears to maybe perhaps possibly evidence a change of approach.
*Dimitrov 4-1, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 Murray Anguished bellowing from Murray as an error gives Dimitrov 15, and then a forehand scooshes into the top of the net to make it 30. Murray, ordering, beseeching himself to stay in the rally, then does precisely that, winning the next two points - the second set up with a backhand crosscourt of gadlus and malchus. But, he stays in the next rally, and Dimitrov takes advantage of his passivity to swipe a backhand crosscourt, then clinches the game amidst further admonishing of self by his opponent.
Dimitrov 3-1, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 Murray* Dimitrov slams a backhand into the net post, and it flips shallow into Murray’s side. Murray experiences displeasure. He fights back immediately, but then Dimitrov bounces back what Murray expected to be a winner, and taken by surprise, he nets. Murray then takes the next two points, and Dimitrov nets a return to get Murray on the board in this set.
*Dimitrov 3-0, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 Murray Dimitrov, who had been looking lived-in between points, is suddenly alive - a love game, and impetus is his.
Dimitrov 2-0, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 Murray* Dimitrov is first in, but Murray racks him up with a serve down the middle and follow-up winner. Then, though, Dimitrov comes back, before Murray sends him wide to the backhand and volleys an overhead winner, earning deuce at the end of another marvellous rally - Dimitrov forces Murray to the next, he slants a volleys acorss the net, Dimitrov responds, and Murray punishes a winner deep down the forehand side - that Dimitrov nearly reaches. Dimitrov then seizes the nettle, first powering into Murray’s serve, then delivering another brilliant return - Murray responds with a good volley - but not good enough, Dimitrov closing out point and game for a break!
*Dimitrov 1-0, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 Murray Murray has changed his shorts; give us a twirl, blah and pleh. Dimitrov probably appreciated the break too, and he opens the set looking fresher than of late. But, from 30-0 up, he needlessly cedes two points as Murray feeds what must be considered a docile backhand, and then again, Dimitrov top-spinning when he might slice, and Murray has yet another breakpoint. But Dimitrov rides it well - a serve out wide, a forehand zetezed down the line, and then a backhand volley, stepped into at the net; deuce. Then two quick points for Dimitrov, and wasn’t that an odd game.
Murray’s gone for a lag. Clearly he’s not sweating enough, the dosser.
*Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6, 4-6 Murray Dimitrov takes the first point of the game, but Murray is right back at him, forcing him wide on the forehand side; he nets. In commentary, they discuss the important matters at hand - Kim Sears’ engagement ring - while Murray deals with on-court trifles, a booming serve clearing the way for a simple winner, and another first serve forcing an error. Brilliant play, there - when he turned it up again, Dimitrov simply couldn’t respond. What has he left?
*Dimitrov 3-5, 7-6, 4-6 Murray It’s no wonder that Andy Murray’s favourite other sport is boxing; tennis basically is boxing, down the physical pain. And very few men can hand it out, or endure it like him - he wins the first point of this game, then outlasts Dimitrov in the next rally. Next, he goes long, challenges, and uses the opportunity to slate the umpire again, before flinging himself into the following point, extending Dimitrov’s every sinew and cell from the baseline to give himself two chances to break. But Dimitrov finds two very fine first serves and then a backhand and a forehand, delivered with screeching power, earn a game point when Murray nets. But a double-fault means we’re at deuce, and then a long rally ends with Dimitrov pulling a forehand wide. He goes for another big serve, but it’s wide, and then, Murray clambers into him, eliciting an error, and he’s serving for the third set! He’s had 15 break points so far this evening!
Dimitrov 3-4, 7-6, 4-6 Murray* Somehow, it’s both a problem that Dimitrov has played a long game in the previous round, and Murray has yet to be tested. Dimitrov wins the first point of the game, but Murray responds with an ace. Then, a rally of racing groundstrokes, the kind usually controlled by Murray, but Dimitrov is reading him far better now, and pummels a winner from the T to the forehand corner; 15-30. So Murray responds with an ace, this time down the middle, and a similar delivery forces Dimitrov to return long, and when a further return is netted, Murray’s come through a demanding game.
*Dimitrov 3-3, 7-6, 4-6 Murray Murray continues to gripe - ‘Sorry, you’re right, but I didn’t see it,’ excuses the man in place to see precisely it. Dimitrov, who’s outfit looks not unlike Air Jordan 3s, eases to the game, to 15.
Dimitrov 2-3, 7-6, 4-6 Murray* No way! At 30-15, Murray races around the net to play a winner, the ball bounces twice, the umpire misses it as Dimitrov flings himself, then again, until eventually Murray plays an indisputable winner. He remonstrates. And, while Murray continues bitching, Dimitrov pounces on his second serve, but he bounces back to clinch the game.
“Does Murray look to be his usual erratic self or is he more composed than when Dimitrov thrashed him last time?” asks Richard Howes.
*Dimitrov 2-2, 7-6, 4-6 Murray Dimitrov gets what looks like a bad bounce on the the baseline and scoops a groundstroke long. He’s quickly on terms, though, before netting a nondescript backhand - the buzz of the tiebreak has faded. Then, a service wide to the backhand allows him to pound a forehand winner, before a vintage Murray point, commanding the baseline before unfurling an inside-out forehand, gives him breakpoint. Dimitrov saves it, but another excellent return, taking early and delivered flat and hard, earns another - saved when a deep volley forces a lob that falls just long. Then a tired-looking serve cedes another, Murray again going long, but a backhand winner, hit from the middle of the baseline to Dimitrov’s backhand side, gives him another opportunity - and again, he can’t convert. Dimitrov takes advantage this time, the one-two wide and down the middle backed up by a very handy second serve. Murray smiles, but is clearly gerfruntzled.
“Tennis like this is not only brilliant, but also mesmerising,” emails Simon McMahon. “Early signs are that 2015 is shaping up to be a career defining year for Andy. A win in Australia, and another Wimbledon or US Open title, will put him up among the greats. Go Andy!”
Dimitrov 1-2, 7-6, 4-6 Murray* A double-fault at 15-0 brings Dimitrov into the game, but Murray quickly advances to 30-15, and nabs a second-serve point with a flat one out wide. Then, he misses again with his first go, and his second is not exactly powered, but the length is decent, and Dimitrov nets the return.
*Dimitrov 1-1, 7-6, 4-6 Murray Oh, and this is lovely from Dimitrov, responding with a love game of his own. In a way, he looks in more control than at the very start, when he was riding a wave of heat - now, he’s more calculating and composed.
Dimitrov 0-1, 7-6, 4-6 Murray* Murray is not chuffed, spluttering and flinging. He threw away the advantage in that set, and in the tiebreak, well though Dimitrov played it, contributed to his own downfall with some curious shot-selection. But he’s back at the start of the next bit, with a love game.
Dimitrov 7-6 (7-5), 4-6 Murray More brilliance from Dimitrov, who’s worked Murray’s serve out. He returns well, plays a thunderous forehand approach, and cinches the point with a volley at the net. Murray regains one mini-break immediately, but then nets a backhand return, and Dimitrov has three set-points - the first two on Murray’s serve. He nets his return, and the second forces him wide, forcing him to do the same. Here comes the third, on his service, a huge mother down the middle, and this time Murray nets! One apiece, and a classic upon us!
Dimitrov 6-6 (4-2), 4-6 Murray* Dimitrov is defensive and hits the net, giving Murray the mini-break, but then devours a second serve with a forehand powered past Murray with spitting venom. Murray, though, keeps the heid, a lazy backhand from Dimitrov, sliced wide from the backhand side, giving him the point. Dimitrov, though is having none of it, taking advantage of a weak lob when a passing shot was required. But oh my days! Murray’s serve, returned, a drop shot, a net exchange that he dominates and almost always wins, but he can’t put away an overhead, and a curling backhand pass gives Dimitrov 4-2.
Dimitrov 6-6, 4-6 Murray* Murray serves wide to the forehand and Dimitrov anticipates, cutting the angle and directing a return to the bootlaces that forces Murray to net. Then, he comes to the net as Murray plays a backhand drop when a forehand seemed the obvious call, putting away the volley with ease. And though Murray’s serve sets up the next point, another superb return from Dimitrov sets up overhead and two break-back points. The first, Murray sends a deep groundstroke to the backhand side which elicits an error, and a fault gives Dimitrov a chance on a second serve. But he hesitates on the forehand and the delay forces him to hit wide, before a lovely forehand down the line opens the court for him to approach the net and guide a volley cross-court. And Murray serves a double-fault! Tie-break!
*Dimitrov 5-6, 4-6 Murray Dimitrov sends Murray wide, then invites him to the net - somehow, he manages it, his speed, dexterity and strength lifting a lob that’s netted on the smash. Then, a flicked backhand from the backhand corner elicits a half-courter, top-spun past Dimitrov, who retorts well next point. But Murray is right back into him, sending him to hither and yon along the baseline, eventually drawing the error - if that’s possible along a fixed point -and will serve for the second set!
Dimitrov 5-5, 4-6 Murray* Murray sends a groundstroke wide, but redeems it immediately with an ace. The next rally is a longun, Murray controlling, Dimitrov looking for the defining stroke - and here, he goes long, before netting a return. Murray’s serve does the rest.
*Dimitrov 5-4, 4-6 Murray Murray takes the first two points of the game, without being forced to deserve them, but Dimitrov, tested in the next rally, hangs in there well, eventually dispatching a smash from mid-court. And he comes to the net again, but Murray’s return is good, then an equally good forehand is rattled at the body - it can only be deflected back, and that’s breakpoint. But Murray wastes the chance, presented with a second serve but sending a backhand wide. You’ve got to admire Dimitrov’s composure here, because he won’t stop taking risks; he cedes another breakpoint, and he looks out of the next rally, but somehow sends a forehand down the line while almost sitting on his buttocks, eventually punching a winner towards the same area. And, though he spurns the next advantage, he earns another, which he converts. This is some contest.
Dimitrov 4-4, 4-6 Murray* We see the final point of Kyrgios’ win, settled on a hawkeye call, so miss Murray taking a 40-0 lead, and a service winner clinches the game.
*Dimitrov 4-3, 4-6 Murray This is not dissimilar to the first set, in a sense - one player playing like God, the other hanging in there, and then fighting back. But Dimitrov is not quite as good an athlete as Murray - can he hang with him, two days after going five sets? He’s made to work hard here, too, at 30-30, earning game point with a taxing overhead, as Murray chunters at himself to be aggressive. And he is, a backhand gaining deuce, but a well-directed serve gives Dimitrov advantage. The points are lengthening here, and Murray deconstructs Dimitrov from the baseline - perhaps he should serve-volley more, because he surely can’t outhit and outlast Murray in the kind of match this is becoming. Sure enough, Murray takes himself another breakpoint, but Dimitrov responds well - as the crowd a-whoop and a-holler with news that Kyrgios is through - regaining deuce and then taking advantage with a serve out wide and clean-up forehand down the middle. Murray saves the gamepoint, though, before Dimitrov nails a pair of services as we gain the business end.
Dimitrov 3-3, 4-6 Murray* To paraphrase Rob Smyth on Roy Keane, Murray’s reading Dimitrov like he wrote him. First, he picks up a drop-shot, and then, as Dimitrov tries frantically to end the rally at the net, picks the correct side three times and eventually has time to direct the ball past him for a winner. But an unforced error and a double-fault gives Dimitrov 15-30, and then a second serve down the middle is clouted straight back, close to line and shin, and Murray nets; two break points. And what a point follows! Murray controls it, sending Dimitrov wide, then drawing him in, backhand side at the net. He produces an excellent slanting volley, Murray reaches it and thunks down the line - but Dimitrov races back to return, and Murray has to stretch to direct his winner. But then, after an exchange of groundstrokes, Murray nets, and Dimitrov has broken back!
*Dimitrov 2-3, 4-6 Murray Welcome
to the real football factories love game for Dimitrov, and with minimum effort, too. Maybe he should gamble on Murray’s serve and just pick a side and go for winners - easy, yeah? - because he’s finding it tough waiting on him.
Dimitrov 1-3, 4-6 Murray* Dimitrov waits for Murray’s serve and slams a cross-court forehand return to get ahead in the game, but another service winner eradicates that sharpish. Murray is just so quick around the court, and when Dimitrov, controlling the next rally, snaps a net-cord, he’s onto it in a instant. Dimitrov, though, is sticking at it, and when Murray dares him to make the running, he does, shmicing a forehand winner. But Murray’s service-swag is just too much - he’s not going for the corners, and risking missing, but he’s hitting them hard and accurately. That’s another game to him.
*Dimitrov 1-2, 4-6 Murray two blistering returns from Murray, give him 15-30 - the second, in particular, is exceptional, on the forehand side, but guided low cross-court via backhand. He’s picking Dimitrov now, losing the next point, but earning breakpoint with a backhand down the middle that caught Ditmitrov about the ankles. And more good, deep hitting forces the error, Dimitrov whacking a forehand into the top of the net to cede the break!
“How about a Bulgarian tune,” offers Dave McMurrugh.
Dimitrov 1-1, 4-6 Murray* Two service winners for Murray - if he can keep nailing the first go, it’s hard to see how he can lose here. But then, he misses, Dimitrov pounces, and suddenly, has half a chance, coming to the net after forcing Murray wide to meet a backhand and snapping a leaping backhand volley winner. Facing another second serve, he then nets a forehand, but doesn’t miss out a second time, earning deuce with a return wide to the backhand and a clean-up forehand down the line. Murray, though, responds - first with an excellent first serve, and then a much better second serve.
*Dimitrov 1-0, 4-6 Murray Murray just has unreal eye and wrists, as well as supreme athleticism. At 30-love, Dimitrov smashes a lob to the forehand corner, and somehow, Murray anticipates, arrives, and modifies a kind of shoulder-high response, caressed down the line. And, though Dimitrov wins the next point, he can’t shake Murray off easily, forced to 40-30 before Murray overhits a forehand that flies wide. Elsewhere, Kyrgios is a break up on Seppi in the final set, after losing the first two.
Dimitrov 4-6 Murray* Murray gets off to a good start, taking the first point, but then serves a fault, and his second delivery - 72mph! - gets the treatment. But Dimitrov misses the repeat opportunity - the ball sat up begging to be destroyed, only for him to go long - and then another routine serve-and-groundstroke gives Murray set-point. And he does it with an ace! This has been a magnificent set of tennis by both players, but in particular by Andy Murray, who hung in there when outhit, and produced a moment of brilliance with that backhand and those wrists to wrest control. Can Dimitrov respond?
*Dimitrov 4-5 Murray Dimitrov starts by punishing a forehand down the line, but Murray levels the game with a backhand slice that asks too much of him - he can’t find the topspin and power to respond. Then, Dimitrov eases to 30-15, but Murray is right into this, sending him out wide on the forehand side, then leaping into the net to cane a hopeful squash-shot back past him off the baseline. And it’s quickly break-point Murray, but a forehand is netted, before Dimitrov is surprised by a slightly sharper backhand - that’s a second break-point. And there it is! A magical return has Murray dictating the point, backhand corner to backhand corner, but both players using the forehand, before he switches to ram one down towards the opposite flank and advances when the ball drops half-court. He’ll be serving for the set!
Dimitrov 4-4 Murray* Murray is playing with fire now,
and has ruined his kitchen floor with WD40 and a cigarette lighte r thumping serves and following them with confident groundstrokes. He manages a game without a fault, ending with an ace, and has only required four second serves so far.
*Dimitrov 4-3 Murray Murray might just have the measure of Dimitrov’s power now - he’s not playing any less well, but Murray is playing better, and winning more of the marginal points not settled by the astounding. He gets to 15-30, but then Dimitrov takes over, and wins his first game in four. Phew; already, this is brutal. Only fighters are anything like the athletes the best tennisers are. Apart from athletes, obviously, and even then...
Dimitrov 3-3 Murray* Where do we go from here? The words are coming out all weird, where are you now, when I need you? Questions, no doubt, percolating the mind of Grigor Dimitrov, somehow forsaken by old Maurice Mentum, by virtue, more or less, of one shot. But, after Murray races to 30-love, thanks in part to an ace, both players bang groundstrokes - the standard now is exceptional - and a dropshot gets him back in the game. Murray, though, responds, dematerialising a forehand that’s not in the corner, but still far too fast, and then an ace rounds off the game. We could be in for an absolute jazzer, here.
*Dimitrov 3-2 Murray Good from Murray, forcing Dimitrov to play a leaping forehand volley that he nets. But he’s back next point, sending Murray scuttling across the baseline to retrieve a booming forehand, then absolutely annihilating a forehand smash from almost back on his own baseline. But Murray is warming up, getting to 30, and then flips an astoundingly good pass, cross-court from wide on the backhand side, flat and oblique over the net. And then, following a fault, a low return towards the feet is too good for Dimitrov, and somehow, after being outplayed for five games, he’s broken back!
Dimitrov 3-1 Murray* Dimitrov has just been too good so far - worryingly for Murray, he’s being out-thought as well as out-hit. And the first point here follows that pro forma, Murray drawn to the next with a sliced drop-shot and passed when he can only flip it back into play, half-court. “Is it possible to start too well?” asks the commentator. “Definitely,” answers Wilander. But Murray fights to 30-all, before a second serve is absolutely pulverised back down the line, Dimitrov mooching around his backhand to give it what-for. Murray has reverted to his behind-the-head toss on that, to impart more slice, but Dimitrov had so much time there, vicious though the execution was. If anything, he’s hit it too well, and all that. Murray, meanwhile, is still not loving Spidercam, but manages to get on the board via deuce.
*Dimitrov 3-0 Murray At 15-all, the first flash of Murray, seizing onto a half-courter on the forehand side and walloping down the line. Even so, Dimitrov isn’t far off getting it back via spinning affair, and he pounds a succession of backhands through the next point, until Murray errs long. Then, he crashes a forehand into the top of the net after Dimitrov’s backhand slice forces him to supply all the pace, and moments later, it’s 3-0.
Dimitrov 2-0 Murray* Murray begins by complaining about Spidercam, still moving as he prepares to serve, and then Dimitrov is straight into the rally - they exchange punishing ground strokes, then he really leans into a backhand down the line. Murray runs it down, but leaves the court open for a forehand, also drilled down the line. Then, after Murray pulls back the advantage, Dimitrov is again too powerful in the rally; much more of this, and he’ll have to step back a yard or two. Then, Murray goes long with a forehand, then long again, and that’s a break; Dimitrov has started superbly.
*Dimitrov 1-0 Murray (* denotes server) Dimitrov starts well, a swinging serve sending Murray out wide to facilitate a clean-up forehand, hammered into the opposite corner. Dimitrov has been told by his coach to entertain, and he looks primed for precisely that, playing another perfect point to reach 30. But there follows a double-fault, and ten the first flash of Murray, a brilliant backhand slice zoning over the net, and forcing a drop-shot on the stretch. Then, another well-played point by Dimitrov, to complete the love game.
Talking of cool tennisers, Dimitrov beat Baghdatis in the last round, in five sets. He is an excellent specimen of human.
Murray has won the toss, and will receive.
Andy Murray has reached the quarter-finals of the last 15 slams. That’s pretty handy consistency, on the one hand - but, on the other, his tally of finals suggests room for improvement, perhaps in his ability to beat other excellent players when not at his best. Or being at his best more often. But would it then count as his best? Philosophy, there.
Knocking up: get rid, yes?
The players are out, the crowd are, er, amped. Here we go. Something about Rabbie Burns.
“What makes a major a major, though?” asks Will Hardy on Twitter. “How do you ‘add another one?’”
Yeah, its tricky. Obviously it’s tricky to invent tradition, but that’s how it all arose in the first place. I suppose you’d just have to anoint it and treat it as such, and hope.
The chaps inside and outside the studio reckon Dimitrov will be the next big star, but that Murray will win today. And it’s possible, for the next few seasons, that Murray-Djokovic will be the next big rivalry. It’s not materialised as seemed inevitable a couple of years ago, but Murray might just be ready to reassert.
Mats Wilander is obscenely cool; his comfort is his own skin is quite revolting.
Simona Halep has beaten Yanina Wickmeyer in straight sets, so Murray and Dimitrov will be shortly upon us. Elsewhere, Nick Kyrgios has won the third set, to trail Andreas Seppi 2-1; the winner meets the winner of this.
It doesn’t seem a whole lot of fun, being a tenniser. Shlepping round the world, repeating drills, staying brutally fit, success of a season determined, more or less, by what happens in eight weeks out of, maybe, 48. As with golf, what’s to stop them adding another major?
In general terms, other people are the bane of the human experience, but specifically, there’s nothing worse than having to meet new ones. Of course, it’s usually possible to deduce everything about them from their name, and if not, their appearance, but where pre-emptive and preventative action fails, instead of frittering precious alone time getting to know them, simply ask this: what do you think of Andy Murray?
Because, despite his talent, brain, disdain and disrespect - what you might call attitude - attitude towards him is frequently disparaging. Yes, his achievements now demand acknowledgement, but he’s still putting up with plenty of the same nonsense in every other aspect.Continue reading...
Aer Lingus is set to accept a takeover bid from the owner of British Airways, after International Airlines Group made a third offer valuing the Dublin-based carrier at around £1bn (€1.3bn).
Aer Lingus is expected to make a statement to the stock exchange on Monday morning confirming the new approach by IAG at around €2.50 a share, having previously rejected bids worth €2.30 and €2.40.Continue reading...
A top chef at one of London’s chicest restaurants, where she has made her name cooking sumptuous Middle Eastern and Asian-inspired dishes, has left her job to work in a school kitchen.
Nicole Pisani made a name for herself as chef de cuisine at Nopi – the fashionable Soho restaurant set up by celebrated chef and cookery writer Yotam Ottolenghi. From Monday, however, she will be preparing lunch for 500 schoolchildren at an inner London state primary school, on a budget of just 92p a child.Continue reading...
The World Economic Forum has never been good at crystal-ball gazing. In early 2007, it was smug and complacent even as the financial storm clouds gathered. Last year, there was a strong sense that the crisis was over, an optimism swiftly dashed by a combination of Ukraine, Islamic State and renewed stagnation in the eurozone.
The mood this year was downbeat, a lot more cautious. Perhaps excessively so. The open-ended €60bn a month asset-purchase scheme announced by the European Central Bank is unlikely to prove a game changer, but it will have an impact on activity. Plunging oil prices will mean consumers have more money left over after they have paid the energy bills and filled up the car. Cheaper crude is already starting to feed through into forward-looking business surveys.Continue reading...