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Cardiff all smiles after visions of Man City fightback

Alvaro Negredo pulled one back in the second of six minutes of added time, triggering flashbacks for Mackay of the way Manchester City had scored twice in stoppage time to win the title on the final day of the 2011/12 season.

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“They do not lie down and I had visions of Sergio Aguero scoring against QPR in the last game of the season a couple of years ago in injury time,” the Cardiff manager said after his team’s first ever Premier League home match.

“You want to play against the best in the best league in the world and we are doing that and I am proud of everyone at the club. There have been lots of downs but everyone here will have a smile on their face tonight.”

It was The Bluebirds’ first top-flight victory since 1962 with Cardiff having lost their Premier League opener at West Ham United last weekend.

“We deserve to be here. We have a great record at home,” Mackay said. “Everyone realises how difficult it is to win away from home. We have to make sure Cardiff is the same sort of fortress it was in the Championship last season.”

The South Wales club, who won the second division comfortably last term, have seen plenty of change since they were last in English soccer’s top tier.

Now under the ownership of Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, they have changed their club colours from blue to red, and spent heavily since sealing promotion to try to ensure their stay in the Premier League lasts more than a single season.

Mackay said this win was just rewards for the support shown to the club in a part of the country where they must compete with rugby for attention.

“The atmosphere was fantastic before the game and to go and give a performance like that against a team like that was amazing,” he said.

“We have to believe we can compete. The team were incredibly disciplined and as the game grew, we grew. We knew we had the ability to counter them but they are a very good team and if we didn’t do our job properly they would punish us.”

Former Manchester United striker Campbell has had a somewhat nomadic career, having had loan spells at Royal Antwerp, Tottenham Hotspur and Hull City as well as spending four seasons at Sunderland before joining Cardiff in January.

With Andreas Cornelius, an 8 million pound ($12.47 million) signing from FC Copenhagen sitting on the bench, Campbell took his opportunity with two headed goals from corners and a bright effort around the pitch.

“They had a centre midfielder playing centre back, so you knew there’d be a bit of an opportunity there,” Campbell said, referring to City’s decision to bring in Javi Garcia alongside Joleon Lescott in the absence of injured Vincent Kompany.

“There was some great deliveries into the penalty box, and it was a great team performance.”

($1 = 0.6413 British pounds)

(Reporting by Josh Reich; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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Czech Stepanek faces Argentine Monaco in Davis Cup opener

World number five Tomas Berdych will then take on Argentine Leonardo Mayer in the second of the opening day’s matches in Prague as the Czechs play in front of a home crowd for the first time this season.

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Czech talisman Stepanek won the decisive match of the 2012 final against Spain to earn his country the Cup for the first time as an independent nation in Prague last November.

The 34-year-old, who had neck surgery in January, comes into the competition off the back of winning the men’s doubles title with Leander Paes at Flushing Meadows last weekend.

“Physically, I have no problem,” news website idnes.cz quoted Stepanek as saying. “Three days (of matches) have never been a problem. It won’t be a problem now.”

Argentina, runners-up to Spain in 2011, were beaten by the Czechs in Buenos Aires at the same stage last year and head into the semis without world number seven Juan Martin Del Potro.

For the second singles rubber, Argentine captain Martin Jaite has surprisingly turned to the lowest ranked player on the team, world number 93 Mayer.

“I had four good players and I believe that Leo will play great,” Jaite was reported as saying by news agency CTK.

For Saturday’s doubles match, Czechs Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely are pencilled in to face Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos.

However, the Czechs are likely to turn instead to Stepanek and Berdych, who played all key matches in last year’s title run.

“We are ready to play the role of favourites but nothing easy is expected,” Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil said.

The winners of the Prague tie will face either Canada or Serbia in the November 15-17 final.

The Czechs lifted the Cup last year for the first time since Czechoslovakia won in 1980.

Argentina have yet to win the Davis Cup despite four appearances in the final.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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Shehzad heroics seal series win for Pakistan

Zimbabwe started their reply brightly, but some excellent spin bowling from Mohammad Hafeez (three for 30) and Zulfiqar Babar (two for 21) put the hosts behind the required rate and they never recovered, ending their 20 overs on 160 for six.

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“The players have shown great commitment and confidence,” skipper Hafeez told a TV interview at the presentation.

“They are showing great trust in each other and this is something we are trying to develop in our team. We thought 150 to 160 would be good on this track but Ahmed played very well.”

Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to field, but they were guilty of bowling on both sides of the wicket.

After the loss of Nasir Jamshed (23), Hafeez joined Shehzad at the crease and the pair bludgeoned their way to a second wicket partnership of 143 in under 15 overs. It was the joint-fifth highest partnership for all wickets in Twenty20 international history.

Shehzad had the opportunity to reach his century but could not get the three runs he needed off the final ball of the innings. It is still his highest Twenty20 international score. Hafeez finished not out on 54 from 40 balls.

Zimbabwe brought up their 50 in quick time before losing their first wicket, but were strangled by some excellent slow bowling.

Hamilton Masakadza (41 from 32 balls) was their best batsman, while Elton Chigumburu (35 from 19 balls) played a cameo at the end when the game was already lost.

“They got 20 too much, their two batters made it very difficult for us, but I also thought our bowlers missed their mark too many times,” Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor said.

“They just outplayed us again and showed why they are a world-class team.”

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town, editing by Stephen Wood)

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Duval’s U.S. Open comes to an end

The animated 17-year-old American bowed out of the U.

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S. Open with a 6-2 6-3 loss to Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova on Thursday before revealing she was likely to become one of the tallest player on the women’s tour.

“I know I have a lot of room to grow,” the 5-feet 9-inches (177 centimetres) Duval said. “I’m still growing right now. My growth plates are still open.

“I’m not sure how that’s happening. But I think once my body settles in, I’ll be able to work a little more on my fitness. I haven’t really been able to because of injuries and growing.

“One doctor told me I will be at least six feet. My grandmother was six-four.”

Duval’s romance with the U.S. Open ended quickly but the Atlanta-based teenager was inspired by becoming a role model during her whirlwind 48 hours at Flushing Meadows.

Feted as the new darling of American tennis following her opening-round triumph, Duval was unable to replicate the blistering form that disposed of former Open champion Sam Stosur when she was handed a reality check by Hantuchova in one hour and 12 minutes.

“It was overwhelming,” she said of the media attention.

“Obviously winning my first round was quite an achievement. I’m just really proud that I’ve been able to give myself a good image on the court, and off the court.

“I was touched by all the little kids that came up to me and told me I’m their role model. I think for a 17-year-old, that’s pretty cool.”

Duval admitted to feeling restricted against Hantuchova in front of a boisterous crowd on Court 17.

“I don’t think I ever felt free in the match today,” she said.

“I don’t think it had to do with the score or anything. She hits really hard and I couldn’t really get myself going. I just never felt comfortable.

“I missed a could of really close shots when I had opportunities. A couple of shots make the difference in matches … and I don’t really have an easy time playing in the dark with my glasses.”

Despite new-found confidence from beating Stosur, Duval said she would keep her ambitions realistic, aiming to raise her ranking from 296 to the top 150 by the end of the year.

“I’m not going to go above and beyond myself,” he said.

“I’m going to set reasonable goals. This was just another tournament, but I’ve had a great experience.”

(Editing by Julian Linden)

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Dietician Djokovic overwhelming in first-round win

The world number one committed only two unforced errors before getting a little sloppy toward the end of the third set, finishing with nine miscues against 28 winners, including 10 aces.

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Djokovic, who buried groundstrokes from both wings into the corners with 112th-ranked Berankis looking on helplessly, also fended off seven of eight break points held by the Lithuanian.

The Serb, who recently added former professional Wojtek Fibak to his team as a tactical consultant, said the comprehensive nature of the win had been satisfying.

“I was playing on a very high level,” he said. “I was just very happy with the concentration, because I didn’t play so well in Montreal and Cincinnati in the warm-up tournaments for the U.S. Open.

“So I had 10 days to really give everything I can on the practice courts. I was very committed and put 100 percent into my preparations.

“It’s starting to pay off. The first match was as well as it could be. Now I need to continue on working and stay on this course.”

Berankis was impressed.

“I had to come up with my best shots to win a point and win a couple of games. I was really impressed with how he played so focused, not one point easy for me,” he said.

“The feeling is like, man you have to work so much harder to be at least close to those top guys.”

It was the first appearance for Berankis in Arthur Ashe Stadium and his first night match – a factor which Djokovic said he had used to his advantage.

“I think the night sessions in New York are quite different from any other tournament because of just the vibe that you feel with the people, the crowd gets involved,” the top seed said.

“It’s very exciting, always entertaining. It’s fun. It’s fun to play in front of the crowd. Biggest stadium we have. Looks quite impressive from down there.

“Berankis was playing his first night session. That’s where I was looking for my chance to start pressing from the start.”

So swift and one-sided was Djokovic’s win, that his post-match news conference shifted from who he beat to what he eats.

The Serb has credited his rise to the top of the rankings to a change in diet which he explains in a new book “Serve to Win”. He now foregoes dairy products, tomatoes, cold water and gluten, a protein complex found in wheat.

“This particular diet changed my life really in a positive way and affected positively my career and my overall feeling on and off the court,” the Australian Open champion said.

“So I particularly wanted to share this kind of food regime and this kind of change that affected my life positively with the people, just present them my own experience.

“Everybody is different. But you always try to improve as a person and as a player.

“I’ve been always open‑minded about sports science, about nutrition, about health, about general well‑being, because that’s something that is part of my job also and my life,” he added

The 26-year-old will play Germany’s Benjamin Becker, a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 winner over Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic, in the second round.

(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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