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of the New Zealand Herald
A penalty goal from English
import Jo Harten at the end of
regulation time has secured the
Magic a dramatic come-from-
behind win over the NSW Swifts in
their trans-Tasman league play-off
match in Sydney.
The Magic, who headed into the
minor semi-final on the back of four
losses from their last five outings,
trailed the Swifts for much of the
match — at times by as many as
seven goals. The Swifts were never
able to shake the Magic menace,
and when the visitors took the lead
for the first time since the opening
period early in the final quarter it
became a battle of wits.
No more than two goals separated
the two sides over the low-scoring
final spell, with both sides appearing
to do their utmost at times to try
and lose the match as the Magic
struggled to work the ball into the
shooting circle, while the Swifts’
shooting pairing of Susan Pratley
and Caitlin Thwaites lost their ner ve
down the stretch.
The decisive moment proved
an offensive penalty against
Thwaites, which gave the Magic the
opportunity to level the score and,
with the resulting centre pass, take
the lead with less than a minute on
The Swifts levelled it once more a
short time later, leaving the Magic
with 14 seconds to convert their
Ill-discipline from the Swifts
defenders gave Harten a clear shot
at goal, and with time up on the
c lock, the English shooter nailed the
attempt from under the post.
Despite being largely
written off for this finals campaign
after their dreadful run into the play-
offs — indeed few even expected
them to get this far following the
key departures of Irene van Dyk and
Laura Langman in the off-season
— Magic captain Casey Kopua said
her side were always confident they
could be competitive in the finals
The star defender said her side
refused to give up against the Swifts,
and those fighting qualities paid off
for them down the stretch.
“I think it just goes to show the
heart, the power and the belief we
have in this team,” Kopua said, who
is the only player to have featured
in all seven of the Magic’s play-offs
“ In our trainings we set up
scenarios for these pressure
situations. Under pressure you can
see in each others eyes how things
should be going.
“O bviously it was a bit tighter than
we would have liked, but it was great,
can’t wait for the next one.”
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty side
will now face the loser of tomorrow
night ’s major semi-final between the
Melbourne Vixens and Queensland
Firebirds in the preliminary final
Rejecting the unwritten sporting
convention that dictates players
decline to nominate a team they
would rather face in their next play-
off encounter, Kopua was typically
honest when asked whether she
would prefer to head Melbourne or
Brisbane for their next sudden death
“ Melbourne,” she laughed.
Last night’s win was reminiscent of
their one-goal win over the Adelaide
Thunderbirds in the 2012 minor
semi-final, which kick-started the
Magic’s stunning title run under the
stewardship of then-coach Noeline
Taurua. — APNZ
Monday, June 9, 2014
PICTURE: Getty Images
Magic’s Jo Harten competes with Swifts’ Sharni Layton in yesterday’s ANZ Championship minor
semi-final at Allphones Arena, in Sydney.
One man’s despair was another man’s
ecstasy as the most inopportune of
double faults propelled a world-beating
Rafa Nadal into a nine-times French
Open champion today.
Waiting to launch into a second
serve on match point down, a yell from
the stands, followed by another, left a
distracted Novak Djokovic to fire down
the most costly of double faults and see
his hopes of completing a career grand
slam pounded into the red dust.
While Djokovic was left utterly
dejected and with a strange sense of
deja vu, having also surrendered the
2012 final with a double fault, he could
only watch on in wonder as Nadal sunk
to his knees in triumph following a 3-6,
7-5, 6-2, 6-4 victory.
“In matches like this every moment is
crucial. Playing against Novak is always
a big challenge as I had lost against
him the last four times,” Nadal told the
crowd before being handed over the
trophy by Swedish great Bjorn Borg.
“For me it ’s amazing and emotional,
I lost the final at Australia this year
where I had a problem with my back
and that was a hard moment. Today
tennis gave back to me what happened
Overcome with the emotion of
cradling the Musketeers’ Cup for a
record-extending ninth time, the world
No 1 burst into tears. His win was
also accompanied by a deluge of eye-
He became the first man to win five
successive Roland Garros titles.
His record in French Open finals
stands at 9-0 .
He has won a record 35 successive
matches at the claycourt major.
He has won 90 of his 91 best-of-five-
set matches on clay.
He owns a 66-1 win-loss record at
Over the years grand slam champions
in the calibre of Roger Federer,
Djokovic, Andy Murray, Lleyton
Hewitt, Juan Martin del Potro and
Carlos Moya have all tried — and
failed miserably — to conquer the
claycourt phenomenon at a tournament
one person suggested should now be
renamed “Nadal Garros”.
Djokovic, who had come off second
best to Nadal in five previous Parisian
tussles, did not even come close to
ending that losing run today.
“It was a very emotional day and
I gave everything. The trophy was a
bit too far out of reach this year but I
will come back again and again until I
win it,” a teary-eyed Djokovic told the
crowd after being given a prolonged
standing ovation by 15,000 hollering
It seems there is nothing that Nadal
cannot control at his beloved Roland
He had stated 48 hours earlier that
he “cannot command the sun” but after
Sunday ’s forecast of thunderstorms
failed to materialise, it seems that the
Spaniard’s powers of persuasion also
stretch to the weather Gods.
The hot weather meant the left-
hander could count on his forehand
being “very fast and very powerful”
which in turn would allow to him add
an extra zing to his already fearsome
Despite the conditions being to his
liking, Nadal was strangely flat and
restless for a set and a half and raised
hopes in the Djokovic camp, which
included coach Boris Becker, that
perhaps his day of reckoning had come.
The world No 1 scorched those
aspirations when he fired a blazing
forehand winner to break and take the
second set 7-5 .
It left Nadal roaring into the skies
and the crowd jumping to their feet in
the hope that the duo who have battled
through numerous five-set thrillers
would turn their 42nd meeting into
another heart-pumping display of skill
It was not to be.
Djokovic was left feeling the heat,
literally, as he slumped 0-3 down in the
third and appeared dazed and confused
for a second when he slid off his chair
during the changeover.
Dousing his head and arms with
cold water and wrapping an iced towel
around his neck allowed the Serbian
second seed to get back on his feet but
four games later his anger boiled over.
Following a backhand error, he
slammed his racket so hard it lifted off
the ground and spun around 13 times
before dropping back down to the red
Wondrous shots, and not acts of
petulance, win matches and it was from
only one man’s racquet such balls were
A looping forehand long from
Djokovic on break point down handed
Nadal the third set and from then on
there was a sense of doom circling over
the Djokovic camp.
“Luckily for me it was over in four
sets because after that it was heart
attack for me,” the champion’s coach
and uncle Toni Nadal said after his
nephew took his overall grand slam
tally to 14.
“He told me when he took me in his
arms to call the doctor because he had
cramps in his calf. We were lucky it
ended in four sets.”
There was nothing lucky about
A double fault on match point
summed up the type of afternoon it
had been for a man playing in what
turned out to be an unlucky 13th grand
Having declared before the final that
“Nadal’s not unbeatable” Djokovic was
asked if he was any closer to working
out how to beat the claycourt king on
his favourite stomping ground.
“If I was left hander maybe I would
win the tournament,” he quipped.
Andy Murray has appointed former
women’s No 1 Amelie Mauresmo as his
new coach, the Wimbledon champion
Former Wimbledon and Australian
Open champion Mauresmo will initially
take up the role for the grasscourt season
and will join Murray at the Aegon
Championships at Queen’s Club next
week where the British No 1 will be
hoping to defend his title.
“I’m excited by the possibilities of the
new partnership and Amelie is someone
I have always looked up to and admired,”
Murray, who was knocked out of the
French Open by Rafa Nadal.
“She’s faced adversity plenty of times in
her career, but was an amazing player and
won major titles, including Wimbledon.
“I have a very strong coaching team
already in place, but I think Amelie brings
with her experience and tactical expertise
and will push us all to improve. Everyone
I know talks very highly of Amelie, as a
person and coach, and I’m convinced that
her joining the team will help us push on
— I want to win more grand slams.”
World No 8 Murray ended his
successful partnership with Ivan Lendl in
March, having won two grand slam titles
and a gold medal at the 2012 London
Olympics under the tutelage of the eight-
times major winner.
The 34-year-old Mauresmo, who is
currently France’s Fed Cup captain, has
enjoyed a successful coaching career since
retiring as a player in 2009 and guided
Marion Bartoli to her first major title at
Wimbledon last year.
“I’m really excited to be able to work
with Andy,” Mauresmo said. — AFP
Maria Sharapova won her second
French Open title in three years at
Roland Garros yesterday, defeating
Romania’s Simona Halep 6-4, 6-7
(5-7), 6-4 in a gripping final, the
first to go the full distance in Paris
in 13 years and the second longest
It was the 27-year-old Russian’s
fifth grand slam title, bringing her
level with Martina Hingis on the
all-time list and it came 10 years
after she won her first major at
Sharapova, who completed a
career sweep of all four grand slam
titles in Paris in 2012 before losing
to Serena Williams last year, also
moved to No 2 on the all-time
prize money earnings, with only
the American ahead of her.
It took all her legendary grit and
resolve to recover from the loss of
the second set on a tie-break after
she had stood just two points away
from the title at 5-3.
“It’s the toughest grand slam final
I have ever played,” Sharapova said.
“I can’t believe that at 27 I have won
the French Open more times than any
other grand slam.”
The consolation for Halep, whose
meteoric rise to the top bracket
in women’s tennis over the last 18
months has projected her as a potential
champion, was that she will climb to a
career-high third in the world rankings.
“I wish to have many more (grand slam
finals), but this will be special for me all
my life. I had two incredible weeks here
and I played my best tennis,” she said.
The two finalists reached the
championship match in starkly
Fourth-seeded Halep did not drop
a single set in her six matches, while
seventh-seed Sharapova needed to battle
back from first set losses in her three
Experience was massively on the
Russian’s side. This was her ninth grand
slam final dating back 10 years, while
Halep was playing in her first at the age
Sharapova also towered over her
opponent at 1.88m compared to Halep’s
It was yet another shaky start from
Sharapova as the final got underway on a
sun-splashed and sultry centre court.
She dropped ser ve in the first game
and was soon 2-0 down, but the Russian
promptly found her range and she was
back level after a thrilling fourth game
that saw several deuces and some big
hitting from both ends.
In what was developing into a final of
the highest quality, the first five games all
went to deuce, but it was Sharapova who
was gradually gaining the ascendancy.
She broke Halep’s serve again, this time
to 15, to lead 4-2, but three games later
her suspect serve once more let her down
and the Romanian broke back.
Halep though was unable to level the
score as she dropped serve for the third
time, handing Sharapova the set in 57
Sharapova opened the second set with
a confident love game on ser ve and then
came out on top in another lengthy
deuce tussle to move 2-0 ahead.
The biggest earner in women’s sport
and global superstar was in the driving
seat, but her level unaccountably dipped
as Halep broke back to level at 2-2 .
Two double faults to start the next
game had Sharapova looking anxious,
but she compensated with some hefty
hitting off both flanks to regain the lead.
Three games later the Russian
squandered two break points to ser ve
for the match and she played a sloppy
service game to follow allowing Halep to
break from 15-40 down.
Halep was twice unable to ser ve out for
the set, but she stunned Sharapova in the
ensuing tie-break, winning four points
in a row from 5-3 down to level the set
The final was into the third set for
the first time since 2001 when Jennifer
Capriati defeated Kim Clijsters 12-10
in the decider and it was Sharapova who
found a new gear just when she needed
The Russian broke clear to lead 4-2,
before Halep once again reeled her in to
level at 4-4.
The 16th break of ser ve in the next
game finally saw Sharapova on the
way to stagger past the winning post
after three hours and two minutes of
enthralling tennis. — AFP
England’s Stuart Lancaster will
be faced with some headaches
this week ahead of the second test
against New Zealand, though they
are headaches any coach would
want to have.
Shorn of several first-choice
players, his unheralded side
frustrated a rusty New Zealand
team in the first match at Eden
Park before Conrad Smith scored
a 78th-minute try to clinch a
Lancaster has spoken openly
about using the three-match
series as an opportunity for him
to develop depth and to see where
his young side is placed just over a
year out from the 2015 World Cup
they will host.
He named 10 players in the
23-man squad who had less than
10 caps each for a match at Eden
Park that was supposed to be a
cake walk for Richie McCaw ’s
world champion All Blacks.
Instead they harassed and
frustrated the home side into
numerous errors in execution and
discipline and slowed the tempo of
the game by not allowing them to
develop any rhythm.
They also stymied their vaunted
counter attacking back three with
a superb kick-chase game that
forced the normally safe Israel
Dagg, Ben Smith and Cory Jane
to drop balls they would ordinarily
field and return with interest.
While the All Blacks were openly
frustrated at their execution,
Lancaster indicated his side were
just as annoyed they had not been
able to snatch at least a draw and
would use that motivation for the
second test in Dunedin.
“The overriding emotion in the
changing room is frustration at
having not got across the line,
despite having done so much good
work,” Lancaster told reporters
after the match.
“ We’ll learn a lot from this game.
learn quickly. They will definitely
improve but we will as well.
“ It ’s a massive game for us now.
We have always believed coming
into this series we can (win it). So
next week’s game is huge for us
because we want to tie the series
and go to a decider in Hamilton
believing we can win it.”
Lancaster’s biggest decision is
likely to be at flyhalf and inside
centre with Freddie Burns and
Kyle Eastmond both exceeding
expectations at Eden Park.
Burns slotted four penalties, had
a sound tactical kicking game,
never shirked a tackle in the first
line of defence and could force
Lancaster to take a second look
as to whether he restores O wen
Farrell to the pivotal slot.
The inexperienced Eastmond
was also expected to be monstered
by the much bigger Ma’a Nonu but
his all round game complemented
the impressive Manu Tuilagi,
who constantly barrelled over the
Number eight Ben Morgan and
blindside flanker James Haskell
also impressed and incumbent
Billy Vunipola could be worried
about his starting role, particularly
given Morgan and Haskell’s
workrate and deft passing out of
For All Blacks’ try scorer
Conrad Smith, that finish
against England is what
test rugby is all about.
His sabbatical meant he
was not available for last
year’s European tour, so
Saturday ’s match was his
first test since this time
last year against France.
It didn’t take him long to
realise his side were going
to be in a fight until the
“ We had a feeling it
was always going to be
like that (a close finish).
During the week it was a
difficult week. We’ ll enjoy
the win but we’ ll probably
treat it like a loss next
week and make sure we
prepare really well and
play better than we did
Shaded during the match by
midfield opposites Manu Tuilagi
and Kyle Eastmond, Smith, the final
beneficiary from Aaron Cruden’s
decision to run the ball instead of
going for goal, said the confidence to
take a risk is what sets the All Blacks
“It was bold and I was a bit surprised
by it myself, but I loved it as well.
They obviously saw something and
I like the fact that we’re looking for
those opportunities — it’s something
I like doing myself. I’m always
striving for us to be alert and I think
it’s something that can set us apart a
little bit. But to actually do it in those
circumstances was, like I say, bold.
“ We knew they were a man down
and, having been in that position
myself, you do get tightened up and
caught on the fringes a little bit. I saw
it and wandered out there (on to the
wing) and was lucky enough for the
ball to come out that way.”
With a rusty performance out of the
way, there will be few excuses under
the roof in D unedin next Saturday.
The All Blacks will look to hold on
to the ball a lot more — rather than
kicking it away as much as they did at
“I just think we can hold on to the
ball a little while longer and build
pressure. There wouldn’t have been
many times where we went past three
or four phases. It felt like if we were
to, we would have been asking some
big questions of them.
“That sort of suited their style
of play — they’re very good at the
set piece, they ’re very good at first,
second and third phase.
“I think we can challenge them after
that. In saying that, they ’re a great
side and it’s going to be a really good
series and something to look for ward
to.” — APNZ
PICTURE: Getty Images
All Blacks Conrad Smith scores a tr y in the tackle of England’s Joe Marler in Saturday’s
test at Eden Park, in Auckland.
Sharapova wins second
French Open title
in hunt with
Mauresmo to coach
Emotional Nadal claims ninth French Open
PICTURE: Getty Images
Rafael Nadal holds the Musketeers trophy after winning the French Open
today at Roland Garros stadium, in Paris.
Smith — we knew it
would be close
prove ‘no easy beats’
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