A lot going on for Murray as Wimbledon defense begins

first_imgTobias Harris’ late 3 seals Sixers’ win over Knicks McGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC return Britain’s Andy Murray rests between shots during a practice session ahead of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Sunday, July 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)LONDON — Based on Andy Murray’s body language alone, reporters’ questions can produce an inordinate amount of consternation.He’ll puff his cheeks, then let out a sigh. He’ll rub his forehead, then clutch his chin. When answers do arrive, some are preceded by a hesitant “Ummm.” Others begin with “No” or “I wouldn’t have thought so” — or both. “I don’t know” is a popular refrain.ADVERTISEMENT Truth is, given all that is going on at the moment, the No. 1-seeded Murray could be forgiven for having a lot on his mind as he prepares to start his title defense at the All England Club on Monday.There’s a second child on the way for Murray and his wife — happy news, of course, and on Sunday, he assured a reporter who asked about its potential effect on his tennis this fortnight, “It’s certainly not a distraction in the slightest.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’There’s his inconsistent season and the chance he could relinquish his spot atop the rankings to Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Stan Wawrinka two weeks from now.There’s the matter of figuring out how to deal with his unorthodox opponent in the grass-court Grand Slam tournament’s opening Centre Court match. They’ve never played each other, but Murray is somewhat familiar with Alexander Bublik, who is from Russia but represents Kazakhstan, just turned 20 and says he finds watching tennis boring: They had an off-court encounter for an ATP promotional video this year. Among other topics, Bublik discussed the “famous” Russian rappers he expects in his guest box on Monday; the tattoos on his right forearm (a map showing his hometown of St. Petersburg and a couple of quotations attributed to Eminem); and his disdain for following his own sport.“Even Rafa and Fed, you watch, the guys are putting everything in the court. It’s not interesting,” Bublik said with a mischievous grin. “I mean, it’s interesting to see the highlights … but when they’re rallying for 45 shots, you’re sitting and you’re feeling, ‘OK, can I quit tennis, please?’”Very little of Murray’s sort of hemming and hawing there.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LaVine scores 42, Chicago rallies late to beat Cavs Thousands join Kalibo Ati-atihan despite typhoon devastation LATEST STORIES View comments Presidency bid needs ‘deep reflection’ – Sara Duterte LSU title parade draws massive crowdscenter_img Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. End of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legend MOST READ Still, here was Roger Federer’s assessment of Murray’s chances at a place where in 2013 he became the first British man in 77 years to grab the trophy: “If he’s anything close to 100 percent physically, I consider him one of the big favorites to win the tournament. It’s that simple.”Murray did manage to reach the semifinals at the French Open, but since then he has played only one match — and lost.“I can take some anti-inflammatories if my hip flares up,” he said. “Hopefully that’s not the case.”Could be a lot of running required Monday, given the 134th-ranked Bublik’s penchant for sliced returns, drop shots, lobs and run-around forehands from midcourt.“My game is unpredictable. I don’t even know what I’m going to do,” Bublik said. “When the ball is coming to me, I decide right before I hit. So I don’t have a plan.”Murray is aware of all of that.“Some more sort of shots that guys may play in exhibitions, he tries when he’s out there,” Murray said. “That’s what I’ve heard.”Bublik acknowledges he’ll win more matches when he can “find a balance between making jokes and (being) a showoff.”He lost in the final round of qualifying last week, but made it into the main draw thanks to another player’s withdrawal.Bublik is known on tour for possessing, as Murray put it, “a big personality,” and that came through vividly during a session with a group of reporters at the All England Club. Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ And there’s also the sore left hip that led one British tabloid to ask readers — at psychic Uri Geller’s prompting — to rub that part of Murray’s body in a front-page photo to heal him.“I’ve felt fairly calm the last few days, considering how I’ve been feeling,” Murray said.The hip forced Murray to skip exhibition matches on grass and a few days of training. But he said it’s feeling much better.“Obviously, this is an extremely important tournament, so you worry a little bit,” he said. “It’s a little bit stressful if you can’t practice for a few days. You really want to be preparing, training, as much as you can to get ready and make you feel better, especially when you hadn’t had any matches.”He is 21-9 so far in 2017, and his lone title came with the benefit of facing only one player ranked in the top 25.ADVERTISEMENT UFC fighter who pooped herself will be sponsored by butt-wipes company Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Clippers, Lakers among most-watched NBA teams by Filipinoslast_img read more

Smith puts on show against Chicago

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa AnitaThe league’s Co-Comeback Player of the Year struck quickly and didn’t stop. He finished with 12 catches for a career-high 218 yards, the fourth-highest yardage total in playoff history. Eric Moulds had 240 yards for Buffalo in a wild-card game at Miami in 1999. “He’s a special player. We say that every week,” Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme said. “When they needed a play, he made it,” Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “He’s the best offensive player in the league.” Not that Smith’s performance came as a surprise to the Bears. When the two teams played in November, Chicago couldn’t contain Smith – he had 14 catches for 169 yards – but that time the Bears won 13-3. The only thing Smith didn’t do that day was score a touchdown and he took care of that right away Sunday. “I was motivated,” he said. “We were ready for whatever they threw at us. We had routes to counterpunch and we did,” Smith said. “I’m just really utilizing my talents. They throw me the ball, my job is to catch it. If I don’t catch the ball, they will get somebody in here who will.” That meant a long day for Chicago’s vaunted defense. “We talked about not giving up the big play and trying to keep Steve Smith contained and we weren’t able to do that,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “You can double-cover him and you can play deep and make him catch balls in front of you. A couple of those plays, that’s what we were supposed to have been doing, playing deeper and forcing him to catch the ball in front of us.” Now Smith and the Panthers are on their way to Seattle, looking for a return trip to the Super Bowl. “We have good confidence. But we can’t let it overwhelm us like we just won the Super Bowl, because we haven’t,” Smith said. Smith broke his leg in the 2004 season opener. Now he and the Panthers are two victories away from a championship, and he is a major reason why. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img CHICAGO – Steve Smith was everywhere: cutting across the middle to catch a key pass, taking quick screens and using his speed, outjumping Charles Tillman to set up a field goal and twice getting behind a fallen defender for touchdowns. Smith showed why he was the NFL’s top receiver this season. He also showed the way Sunday as the Carolina Panthers beat the Chicago Bears, 29-21, in the NFC divisional round. last_img read more