Australian Open tennis Men’s final today

Final is frontier for Djokovic, Murray

MELBOURNE, (AFP) - Andy Murray hopes to end Britain’s 75-year Grand Slam drought against Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open Sunday, the first major final without Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer for three years.
Murray is aiming to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry in 1936, while Serbian Djokovic is favourite to claim his second Slam crown.
The final will be only the second in 23 majors where both the sport’s pre-eminent duo, Nadal and Federer, are missing, prompting talk of a changing of the guard.

Third seed Djokovic and world number five Murray are close friends from their junior playing days and it will be their first meeting at a Grand Slam, athough the Serb leads 4-3 in their matches.
Djokovic goes in as favourite after his convincing straight-sets win over Federer, repeating his performance against the 16-time Grand Slam champion on the way to winning the 2008 Australian Open crown.
Murray prevailed after a punishing four-set win over seventh-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer in their 3hr 46min semi-final on Friday, limiting his recovery time for Sunday’s final. Djokovic played Federer on Thursday.
Scotland’s Murray will also be seeking redemption for his bitter defeat in straight sets to Federer in last year’s Australian final.

In 2010, Murray choked back tears as he apologised to British fans after he was unable to serve out the third set while leading Federer 5-3, and then squandered five set points in an agonising tie-break to bomb out in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13/11).
“It was tough for me, but something that I think overall has made me a better player, stronger mentally,” Murray said.

“They’re all experiences that you need to deal with playing at the highest level of sport. You lose some tough matches and I hope that it will help me on Sunday.
“But I’m sure I’ll deal with everything better than I have done in the past.”
The big match with Djokovic offers Murray the chance to turn a new page in what could become one of the game’s enduring future rivalries.

“We’ve always been like (ranked) three and four the last few years, we’ve always been on different halves of the draw in every tournament we’ve played,” he said.
“We haven’t come up against each other I think for over two years now, but we practice a lot together, we’re good friends and I hope it’s the start of us playing each other in big matches.”

While Murray has had two demanding matches against Alexandr Dolgopolov and Ferrer to get to the final, Djokovic has looked in terrific touch, dropping just one set.
Djokovic’s confidence stems from leading Serbia to their first Davis Cup triumph against France in Belgrade last month.
“I knew that these two weeks are the most important, this period of the year,” he said.


IRB approves grant to SLRFU

Time to take rugby to north and East

By M. Farook Lantra
The long-awaited approval of the grant from the International Rugby Board (IRB) to promote rugby football in the country has been given and the funds should be in the SLRFU coffers shortly.
Without funds rugby languished to a great extent in seven provinces. These funds had not been received by the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) since 2008 due to the interim committees being in control of the game in the island. Now that SLRFU is an elected body with no less a person than the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Roshan Goonetilleke at the helm of affairs, all rugby fans can breathe a lot easier.

With IRB funds and a good set of officials at the helm, including Vice President Lasith Gunaratne, it is hoped that rugby will prosper once again and will also spread its wings to the liberated north and east as well.
Earlier on, under stalwarts YC Chang, a former Sri Lanka skipper and one of the toughest prop forwards, and Arjun Dharmadasa a rugby doyen of Kelani Valley, the sport blossomed in Sabaragamuwa and gradually spread to the Southern, Central, North Central and Western Provinces. A lot of hard work was put in by representatives of the SLRFU with the funds coming in from the IRB.

This sudden resurgence in rugby bore fruit almost immediately with a host of rugby players emerging from the Sabaragamuwa Province who went on to don the national jersey.
Several women rugby players too emerged during this period. This resulted in the Sri Lanka women’s team winning the Bowl at the Asian Women’s Championship in Singapore (2005).
Suddenly this growth in the sport was strangled with the withdrawal of IRB funding. Development plans came to a grinding halt. Those students who learnt the game during this period suddenly found themselves at a loose end. Officials and schoolchildren idled.

YC Chang and his officials’ hard work went down the drain. Rugby was taught at grassroots level and a lot of hard work was involved. Masters and masters-in-charge of rugby in schools were put through a crash course in rugby as a means of promoting the game in the remote areas.
Regarding the promotion of rugby the former Manager Rugby Development Committee, Sarath Ranaweera said that most number of participants at the training programmes were from the south, a province that suffered greatly from the Tsunami. They came in great numbers to participate. A successful camp was held at the St. Aloysius’ Grounds, Galle in 2006. The results are now bearing fruit with St. Aloysius College Galle doing well in the sport.

Kumar Abeywardena, the former Trinity and Havelocks player and President of the Ruhunu Rugby Football Union, has been another who had put in all efforts to uplift the standard of rugby in the Southern Province.
Rugby in the Central Province, Sabaragamuwa and Uva too thrived and one hopes that the rugby development work in the provinces is resurrected and also extended to the Northern and Eastern provinces


Rivira cricket competition winners

Danushka Sugathapala from Matale won the competition for picking the correct Sri Lanka squad for the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 conducted by our sister Sinhala publication ‘Rivira’. The awards ceremony took place at the Rivira Media Corporation last Wednesday (January 26) with Sri Lanka cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera in attendance.

The winners, Lankan cricketers and Rivira officials (from left): Sunil Lakshmanasinghe (CEO, Rivira Media Corporation), Thilan Samaraweera, Achira Nimanka Wijesinghe (third place winner), Lahiru Iroshan Samaraweera (second place winner), Danushka Sugathapala (winner), Mahela Jayawardene and Sisira Paranathanthri (Editor in Chief, Rivira) pose for a photograph after the awards ceremony


Trinity edges out Kingswood

By M Minhaz in Kandy
Trinity won the Cup championship when they beat Kingswood by 28 points (4 goals) to nil in the Central Province Schools Under-18 12-a-side rugby tournament at Pallekele yesterday. At half time Trinity led 14-0.
In the Cup semi-final Kingswood beat St. Anthony’s by 40 points (5 goals and 1 try) to nil. In the second semi-final Trinity beat St. Sylvester’s by 17 points (1 goal and 2 tries) to nil. St. Anthony’s and St. Sylvester’s became joint Plate champions when the plate final ended in a scoreless draw.
Maliyadeva Kurunegala won the Bowl championship by defeating Sarasavi Uyana MV Peradeniya by 28 points (4 goals) to nil after leading 14-0 at the breather.
Aruna Rankotge refereed the Cup final while YMS Ratnayake officiated the Plate final. The tournament was originally scheduled to be held at the Bogambara Stadium but had to be shifted to Pallekele at the eleventh hour as the organisers found the ground conditions to be unsuitable. The tournament was organised by the Central Province Schools Rugby Football Association.


CPRFU AGM on February 3
Central Province Rugby Football Union (CPRFU), Annual General Meeting is fixed for February 3rd at 5 pm at the Old Trinitians Sports Club.
Central Province rugby football is under the leadership of Mohan Samarakoon who took over from veteran Maurice Perera. Mohan a master planner and hard worker, along with his able committee, did his best to promote the game.
Mohan and his committee with the help of the SLRFU organised a superb rugby tournament at Nittawela grounds in 2010. He has also planned for another tournament for clubs and schools. (Mariks)


Yasoda gets bat from Cricket Shop

Nuski Mohamed Chairman –Cricket Shop (Pvt) Ltd presenting a cricket bat to Yasoda Lanka, Richmond College cricketer who scored a double century for Sri Lanka against England in the recently concluded second youth test match at the P. Sara Oval. Mohamed is an old boy of Richmond College, Galle and was the former secretary and treasurer of Sri Lanka Cricket.