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Djokovic feels may lose No. 1 spot to incredible Nadal

Djokovic was beaten 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1 by Nadal, who claimed the 13th singles slam of his career to move ahead of Australia’s Roy Emerson (12) on the all-time list.

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Only Pete Sampras (14) and Roger Federer (17) are above the 27-year-old Nadal on the pecking order of major champions.

“Thirteen grand slams for a guy who is 27-years-old is incredible,” Djokovic said. “I mean, whatever he has achieved so far in his career is something that everybody should respect. No question about it.

“I was saying before, he’s definitely one of the best tennis players ever to play the game. Looking at his achievements and his age, at this moment – he still has a lot of years to play. That’s all I can say.”

Nadal seems certain to overtake Djokovic as world number one by the end of the year.

He missed the last half of 2012, and the 2013 Australian Open, because of a knee injury, which means he has no rankings points to defend.

Following his second major triumph this year, adding the New York crown to the French Open, only another injury or inconceivable loss of form will keep him at number two.

“What can I say?” Djokovic said. “He won so much this year. I’m still number one of the world in the rankings. But year to year he’s far, far ahead. He has much more chances to end up as number one.

“Look, there is still tournaments to go. So we’ll see.”

Nadal’s triumph gave him a 22-15 winning record against Djokovic and it was his sixth victory in their last seven meetings. The Serb conceded he had to find the key to reversing the trend in arguably the biggest rivalry in the men’s game.

“I have to,” Djokovic said. “It’s part of my life. Many times you fall as an athlete. You have to learn the lesson and keep on going, keep on fighting, keep on improving.

“That’s what we are here for. I’m still 26, and I believe the best time for my career is about to come. As long as I believe it, the fire and the love towards the game is inside of me, as long as that’s present … I’m going to play this sport with all my heart as I did in the last 10 years.”

RIVALRY

The Nadal-Djokovic rivalry is typified by marathon rallies that stretch both players to their physical limits.

They conjured a 54-stroke rally in the second set that left a capacity crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium screaming for more. Djokovic raised his arms at having succeeded in the mini-battle, but Nadal won the war.

“I have played against Rafa, on different surfaces and different occasions, points like this where you just feel that there is the last drop of energy that you need to use in order to win the point,” Djokovic said.

“Sometimes I was winning those points, sometimes him.

“It’s what we do when we play against each other, always pushing each other to the limit. That’s the beauty of our matches and our rivalry, in the end.”

For the second straight year, Djokovic started the season by winning the Australian Open before falling short at the other three majors.

He lost a five-set heartbreaker to Nadal in the semi-finals of the French Open and was beaten by Britain’s Andy Murray in the championship match at Wimbledon.

“I wish I won at least one title more, considering the fact I played two finals,” he said. “All the matches I lost, even the French Open, I had that match. I lost it again in the semis.

“Overall, it was again a very successful grand slam year for me. That’s where I want to play my best in. As I said, I wish there was another title, but it is what it is.

“It was obvious that in the important moments Rafa played better tennis, and that’s why he deserved to win. I congratulate him, and I move on. I didn’t deserve to win in the end.”

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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IOC consider action over Isinbayeva gay comments

The Russian, who won the world title in Moscow in August, caused a major stir with her comments about homosexuality.

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“We will consider this in due time,” IOC President Jacques Rogge told reporters when asked whether the Russian athlete was an appropriate ambassador for the Youth Games given her recent comments.

Isinbayeva, a double Olympic champion, had been critical of foreign athletes’ reaction to Russia’s gay law.

“We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys … it comes from the history,” she had said at the time. “I hope the problem won’t ruin our Olympic Games in Sochi.”

Isinbayeva is also the ceremonial mayor of the Olympic village at the Sochi 2014 winter Games and will be a torchbearer in the relay at the event.

Rogge did not elaborate on what kind of action and when it may be taken against the Russian but ruled out pressing the government further on the matter. Rogge is due to step down on September 10.

“We have received oral and written assurances (from the Russian government),” he said. “We are staging the Games in a sovereign state and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence in the affairs of a sovereign state.

Critics say the law is one of a string of repressive measures introduced by President Vladimir Putin in the first year of his third presidential term that clamp down on dissent, violate gay rights and restrain non-governmental organisations.

This is not the first time Rogge, who is stepping down after 12 years in charge with a successor to be elected next week, has had to deal with controversial laws in a country where the Games are being staged.

The IOC was under constant fire in the run-up to the Beijing 2008 Games over the country’s human rights record and its restrictions on the use of the internet, among other things.

“We have clearly expressed our views on situations in countries but we are restricted in our powers and actions as guests,” he said in his last solo press conference in charge of the IOC.

Asked whether he had enjoyed his years at head of the world’s biggest multi-sports organisation, Rogge said: “Have I enjoyed it? Not always. Was it exciting? Definitely.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond and Nick Mulvenney)

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Brazil keeper misses another penalty, Nautico coach quits

Jorginho, who lost all five games in charge, became the fifth coach this year to part company with Nautico who are bottom of the Brazilian championship.

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He made his decision immediately after seeing his team swept aside at home in Thursday’s game.

“He asked leave, he had lost motivation and when the leader has no motivation, your only option is to look for another alternative,” director Toninho Moreira told reporters.

Midfielder Willie put Vasco ahead early in the second half and two goals from forward Marlone completed another miserable evening for Nautico, who have lost their last 12 games and have only eight points from 17 matches.

Sao Paulo were already 2-0 down to Criciuma when goalkeeper Rogerio, who has scored more than 100 goals from free kicks and penalties during a remarkable career, saw his effort saved by opposite number Galatto midway through the second half.

“It was my mistake, my incompetence,” Rogerio told reporters.

Shortly afterwards, forward Aloisio pulled one back for Sao Paulo but it was not enough and the defeat left the six-times Brazilian champions languishing in the relegation zone in 18th place.

Criciuma had taken control with first-half goals from Marcel, from a penalty, and Lins.

Rogerio had previously missed penalties against Portuguesa in the Brazilian championship and in a friendly against Bayern Munich.

The 40-year-old, due to retire at the end of the year, is in his 21st season at the club where he has won every possible title including the Brazilian championship, the Paulista championship, the Club World Cup and Libertadores Cup.

However, he now runs the risk of ending his career with relegation to Serie B.

Hyuri scored one of the best goals of the season as Botafogo climbed to third, four points behind leaders Cruzeiro.

Collecting the ball near the touchline, the 21-year-old swept past one defender, cut inside another, then beat another two with by dragging the ball back and turning before clipped his shot into the net, putting Botafogo 3-0 ahead.

He had already opened his account by heading in just before halftime after Rafael Marques had given the hosts an early lead.

Former Fenerbahce playmaker Alex pulled one back from a penalty.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by John O’Brien)

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South Africa ride Argentina scare for late win

Argentina led for much of the encounter after tries from flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon and centre Marcelo Bosch, but Pumas indiscipline in the final 10 minutes allowed South Africa to edge ahead and hold on for victory.

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Wing Bjorn Basson scored the visitors only try, with Steyn kicking the rest of his side’s points to take them to the top of the four-nation tournament’s standings on points difference from title holders New Zealand.

The Springboks and All Blacks have nine points after two rounds, with Argentina on a single point and Australia yet to break their duck after two defeats against New Zealand.

It was South Africa’s first away victory in the southern hemisphere’s elite competition since beating New Zealand in Hamilton in 2009.

South Africa, who were held to a 16-16 draw by Argentina in the same fixture in Mendoza last year, had spoken in the week leading up the test of the improvement they expected from the Pumas after their abject display seven days ago.

But while the home side showed more physicality and passion, South Africa were nowhere near as slick as they made numerous unforced errors.

Leguizamon barged his way over for the opening try inside four minutes as the Pumas made all the early running.

Morne and Pumas captain Felipe Contepomi traded penalties after that, before the Springboks hit back to level the score at 10-10, Basson crossing the line unopposed after the visitors spread the ball wide.

Argentina continued to impress with their physicality and enterprise and had their second try three minutes before halftime when good play from wing Gonzalo Camacho got them close to the Springbok line and outside centre Bosch crashed over, with Contepomi adding his second conversion.

Steyn added a second penalty, but the Springboks still trailed 17-13 at halftime.

The match threatened to boil over in the second period as first Springbok flanker Francois Louw accused an opponent of eye-gouging, before lock Eben Etzebeth claimed he was bitten.

There was no immediate visual evidence of either incident.

The frustration of the visitors was evident, but they closed the gap to a single point with another Steyn penalty five minutes after halftime.

South Africa edged ahead with eight minutes to play as the Pumas were penalised for collapsing a maul.

The Springboks managed to play the remainder of the match in the Argentina half and were rewarded with another penalty when the Pumas again collapsed a maul for Steyn to convert his fifth penalty.

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; Editing by Rex Gowar)

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Premier League must change or England will suffer, says Dyke

In a wide-ranging speech, the newly-appointed chairman of the Football Association said on Wednesday he was setting up a commission to investigate the decline of the number of English players in “the most successful league in the world”.

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He stressed, however, he was not blaming the Premier League for the ills affecting the game.

“The issue, quite simply, is this. In the future it’s quite possible we won’t have enough players qualified to play for England who are playing regularly at the highest level in this country or elsewhere in the world,” he said.

“As a result, it could well mean England’s teams are unable to compete seriously on the world stage.”

The FA approved the creation of the Premier League, which began in 1992, because it was sold the idea that overseas players coming to England would improve the standard of English players.

Yet the opposite happened, according to Dyke, who at that time was chairman of a TV company that helped bring the League into being.

“What none us could have foreseen was because of the very success of the Premier League we would end up with a league largely owned by foreign owners, managed by foreign managers and played by foreign players,” he said.

“And that, as a result, the England set-up has been weakened rather than strengthened by the creation of the Premier League.”

WORLD CUP TARGET

Dyke, 66, who became FA chairman in July, continued: “The England team does not have a history of success.

“One World Cup win on home soil and a few semi-finals does not compare with the records of Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy and more recently, Spain and France.

“However, just because we have not been as successful as we think we should have been in the past doesn’t mean we should accept the same going forward.

“England should aim to win the World Cup in 2022 and at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020.”

He said things had to change to give England any chance of ending decades of under-achievement.

“English football is a tanker that needs turning,” he said announcing he was setting up and chairing an FA commission to help make it turn.

Emphasising his concerns about the decline in the number of English players starting matches in the Premier League, he said: “I think the situation is serious, very serious. So the question I am asking today is a simple one.

“Do we let this trend continue or do we actually try to do something about it ?”

The commission, which will meet for the first time this month and report early next year, will ask why England are in this situation, what could be done and how any changes can be implemented.

The chairmen of the Premier League, Football League, Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers’ Association have all been invited on to the commission.

Dyke has also urged all in the game to come forward to give evidence about how matters can improve.

LOWEST LEVELS

England have only won the World Cup once, on home soil, in 1966 and have not reached the semi-finals since 1990 and Dyke stressed that the foreign influence in the Premier League was having an adverse effect on England teams.

He said the number of English Under-21 players competing in the Premier League dropped to its lowest level last season.

Then in June, the England Under-21 side lost all their three group games in the European Championship in Israel.

“In the 1992-93 season the figure for English players in the starting line-ups of Premier League clubs was 69 percent. Ten years later that figure was down to 38 percent. Last season, another ten years on, the same figure was down to 32 percent.

“We can’t say we weren’t warned. Six years ago, the PFA produced a remarkably prescient report entitled “Meltdown” in which it outlined the emerging problem.”

Despite these comments he said his speech was “not designed to start a blame game”.

He added: “We want to work hand in hand with the Premier League whose clubs had made a huge investment in academies but so far the game had not seen “a huge return on that investment”.

He also highlighted the limited playing opportunities that eligible English players receive at club level, saying there were issues getting youngsters out of academies and into first-team line-ups.

“If the best of our emerging young players can’t get a game here, then we have a serious problem,” he said.

(Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Toby Davis)

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