MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):In five previous Australian Open wins, Novak Djokovic had never felt so much love.After maintaining his perfect record in six finals at Melbourne Park – and extending his old friend Andy Murray’s streak to five losses from five championship deciders Down Under – Djokovic had hundreds of Serbian fans singing and chanting his name so loudly he could barely hear questions in a TV interview.While Djokovic was still celebrating his 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory last night, equalling Roy Emerson’s record of six Australian titles, Murray was rushing for the airport to catch a flight back to Britain to reunite with his pregnant wife.”I never experienced this much crowd and this much love,” Djokovic said. “I’ve had the fortune to win this trophy now six times, but I never experienced such support.”Djokovic has won the last three Grand Slam titles and four of the last five, to lift his career haul to 11 – equalling Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg in fifth place on the all-time list.”I don’t take anything for granted, even though I won last four out of five Grand Slams, played five finals, it’s phenomenal,” said Djokovic, reflecting on a period of time in which he was married, became a father and only lost one match in five major championships – the final of the French Open.’BEST TENNIS OF MY LIFE'”No doubt that I’m playing the best tennis of my life in the last 15 months,” he said. “Everything is going well privately, as well, so I feel like I’m at the point in my life where everything is working in harmony. I’ll try to keep it that way.”His next objective is a first Grand Slam title on clay to complete his collection. Djokovic has reached three finals at Roland Garros, but never won the French Open.After getting on his hands and knees and kissing the court at Rod Laver Arena and going to the stands to hug Boris Becker, his coach since 2014, Djokovic paid tribute to Murray in his post-match speech.”You’re a great champion, great friend, a great person who is very professional and committed to this sport,” he said. “So I’m sure in the future you’ll have more opportunities to fight for this trophy.”As a father himself, he didn’t want to delay Murray’s departure.The 28-year-old Scotsman had his share of distractions in Australia. His wife, Kim, is due to have their first child in February and didn’t travel with him. Kim’s father, Nigel Sears, was in Australia as coach for Ana Ivanovic, but became ill and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital by ambulance while Murray was on court in his third-round match. After a night in hospital, Nigel Sears was well enough to return home, which meant Murray could stay in Australia and try to refocus on winning the title.”It’s been a tough few weeks for me away from the court,” Murray said in his post-match speech, before turning his attention to his wife.”You’ve been a legend the last two weeks. Thank you so much for all your support,” he said, choking back tears and waving as he walked away from the microphone. “I’ll be on the next flight home.”A little more than a half-hour later, at 11:15 p.m. local time, Murray said he was aiming for a 1 a.m. flight.”It’s been hard, regardless of today’s result,” he said. “I’m proud I got into this position – just quite looking forward to get home now.”Murray became only the second man to lose five finals at one major – Ivan Lendl lost five and won three US Open finals in the 1980s.Djokovic had won 10 of his previous 11 matches against Murray and was 21-9 in their career meetings – including four finals at the Australian Open.Again, he was just too good.
Captain of West Indies Women Stafanie Taylor says emulating the feat of four years ago of their male counterparts remains the focus ahead of next month’s ICC Women’s World Twenty20 tournament in India.Describing the triumph by the men in 2012 as a signature accomplishment, Taylor said the victory by the team brought pride and joy to the Caribbean, and they would like to do likewise.”For us women, it would be great, as the men actually won a Twenty20 World Cup, and we have been so close (semi-finals) to winning it,” remarked Taylor.”For the Caribbean, it would be fantastic, as a lot of people are behind us and know that we have the potential to go out there and do the job.”The Jamaican all-rounder, who will be captain of the side for the first time at a global event, has, however, cautioned that the job should be difficult.She explained that other teams like defending champions Australia and perennial title challengers England are expected to be strong, while developing teams are getting better.This, she further noted, is evidenced by hosts India, who, in light of being a traditional lightweight in the female version of the sport, defeated the Australians recently.TOUGH TEAMS AHEAD”I think all the team’s are going to be tough. As such, we will not take any team for granted,” highlighted Taylor.”We are (therefore) going to have to be on our P’s and Q’s to be right up there.”Meanwhile, as it relates to preparation, Taylor said it has been good so far, with the team looking to do well on their tour of South Africa.”In the few games that we have been in at the camp, the team really looks good,” she said.”It’s just for us to now prepare ourselves for South Africa and then take it from there.”The West Indians are scheduled to play three Twenty20 and three one-day internationals in South Africa.The Women’s World Twenty20 World Cup, which will be held between March 15 and April 9, will see the West Indies at the preliminary stage contesting Group B alongside England, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
The two-day Easter Racing Carnival commences at Caymanas Park today with an 11-race programme featuring the grade-one Bonnie Blue Flag Trophy over 1820 metres.Also on the annual Jockeys’ Guild of Jamaica race day programme are the Jockeys’ Guild Trophy race over 1400 metres for four-year-olds and up (non-winners of two) and the annual renewal of the Al Gopie Memorial Cup for maiden four-year-olds and up over the straight-five course, this to perpetuate the memory of the popular lightweight jockey who was killed in a spill in the day’s penultimate race on Saturday, November 20, 1999.Among the six starters declared for the Bonnie Blue Flag Trophy are the progressive American four-year-old filly LONG RUNNING TRAIN, who bids for her third win from her last five starts, and the 2015 Superstakes runner-up HOVER CRAFT, who won decisively over 1500 metres in overnight company last Saturday.LOOKS AGIFTLONG RUNNING TRAIN, however, not only holds a victory over HOVER CRAFT at a mile when last raced on January 23, but another of her opponents, the improving BRAWN, as well.With the Wayne DaCosta-trained HOVER CRAFT up in class and harshly treated at the weights with topweight of 57.0kg, the race looks a gift for the Harry Parsard-trained LONG RUNNING TRAIN, who, despite winning that open allowance mile on January 23, carries a mere 52.0kg with former champion jockey Wesley Henry again in the saddle.On that occasion, LONG RUNNING TRAIN beat the likes of CAMPESINO and ALL CORRECT in decisive fashion with HOVER CRAFT in fourth. And before that race she finished two lengths second to top stayer PERFECT NEIGHBOUR in the grade-one Harry Jackson Memorial Cup over 2400 metres last Boxing Day.Having looked sharp at exercise in preparation for today’s race, LONG RUNNING TRAIN looks hard to oppose under these favourable conditions.Other firm fancies on the card are BATIDOR DE MUNDO to go one better in the second race over a mile, the consistent GOLDEN BULLET In the fifth; PATCH in the seventh and SIR BIGGS in the Jockeys’ Guild of Jamaica Trophy to be contested by 12 starters.
Calabar High School’s Christopher Taylor, who broke the 200m and 400m Class Two records at the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, said he is looking forward to his first Penn Relays, while helping his school to again triumph over their main rivals – Kingston College (KC), Jamaica College (JC), and St Jago.Penn Relays will be held at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, from April 28-30.”I feel very excited knowing that it’s my first Penns and I am going to go out there and do the very best for my school,” he said.”Well, I am confident and I am in pretty good form going into the Penn Relays, so we will see what happens there,” he continued in an interview following the FLOW Foundation’s presentation of $4,030,000 to 28 high school and tertiary institutions to offset costs associated with competing at the event at their head office on Half-Way Tree Road on Tuesday.RELAY CHAMPSLast year, Calabar High shone brightest on the final day of the relay carnival. They captured the 4×100 metre in record time and the 4×400 metres.With 16-year-old Taylor recently leading his Red Hills Road-based school to a sensational victory in the 4x400m in a time of 3:08.77 ahead of Kingston College, all eyes will, no doubt, be set on another battle between the long-time rivals.Taylor, the Class Two 400m record holder, received the baton about 20 metres ahead of the Class One record holder, KC’s Akeem Bloomfield, but saw the more experienced Bloomfield surge ahead coming into the straight.However, Taylor would not be denied, and despite the KC captain’s fast 44.5-split, the Calabar stand-out kept his composure and sprinted past the tiring Purples star with a 45.3-second split.”Well, we fear no one, but we have to look up to everyone also. So yes, I am confident. We are looking to retain the title,” Taylor told The Gleaner.
KINGSTON COLLEGE’S head coach, Neil Harrison, is banking on top performances from his athletes in the 4×100 and 4×400 metres at this weekend’s Penn Relays in the United States. Harrison’s KC will be trying to rebound from a 30-point loss to Calabar High at the recent Boys and Girls’ Championships and with titles and bragging rights up for grabs at the prestigious relay carnival, battle lines have already been drawn. Harrison is of the view that any win over his school’s longtime rivals will be a welcome one. “We are ready … we are going after the 4x100m and the 4x400m and we are hoping that in the 4x800m we will do well,” he pointed out in a recent interview. According to Harrison, the 4x100m this year would feel special. He stressed that the double would be nice. “I won two titles with the 4x400m team, so I am pretty much interested in the 4x100m,” he continued, while adding: “Not that I am not interested in the 4x400m, but we will see how things work out.” The coach said his charges are motivated to do well. “Yes, especially coming out of last weekend’s 39.52 seconds clocking. The Penn Relays will be keenly contested, but we are optimistic. We are hoping that things will go in our favour,” added Harrison. Anchor leg runner, Shivnarine Smalling told The Gleaner after their fast time at the MVP track meet that his KC team “changed up their 4x100m running order and are confident of victory ahead of Penns”.