Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova says: I wouldn’t swap this for anything

Kvitova stormed to her second Wimbledon title in the shortest women's final at the All England Club since 1983 as the Czech sixth seed crushed Canada's Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0.   /Photo: AFP
Kvitova stormed to her second Wimbledon title in the shortest women's final at the All England Club since 1983 as the Czech sixth seed crushed Canada's Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0. /Photo: AFP

Petra Kvitova insists winning Wimbledon for the second time was such a sweet success that even becoming the world number one couldn’t be more fulfilling.

Kvitova ended three years of underachievement as she powered to her second Grand Slam title with a ruthless 6-3, 6-0 thrashing of Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in Saturday’s final.

The 24-year-old had endured a difficult time since her first major triumph at Wimbledon in 2011, with the expectations created by that breakthrough victory against Maria Sharapova proving a huge burden for the shy Czech.

She had failed to make it back to a Grand Slam final until this weekend, but all her pent up anger and frustration was taken out on 13th seed Bouchard in the quickest Wimbledon women’s final for 31 years.

Kvitova will rise to fourth in the world rankings next week, but asked if she would now set her sights on replacing Serena Williams as the number one, she made it clear that ending her wait for another major title at her favourite Grand Slam was more than enough for now.

“I was pretty close to No. 1 before and I feel this is something more special, to have this Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon,” she said.

“Of course the No. 1 means a lot to everyone. We’ll see what the future holds. For me, I’m just glad that I have this Grand Slam.

“I was really up and down after my title here in 2011. I wasn’t really imagining this situation again. I still believed I could win another Grand Slam, but it was hard to imagine at Wimbledon because I wanted it so much.

“It was certainly a great journey for me here.”

When Kvitova last won Wimbledon she seems posed to dominate the women’s tour with her potent power game.

But instead she felt uncomfortable in the spotlight and regularly crashed out of the Grand Slams in the early stages.

Barren years

Those barren years made this emphatic victory even more memorable than her first Wimbledon and Kvitova was reduced to tears as the magnitude of her achievement sunk in.

“This means more than 2011 because I really played a great tournament this time,” Kvitova said.

“It means everything. It’s Wimbledon. Tennis here is tennis history.

“The Centre Court always feels great to play on. I feel really at home.”

Kvitova’s blistering performance included 28 winners and four aces, but mere statistics don’t do justice to the way she bludgeoned Bouchard into submission.

Bouchard hadn’t dropped a set on her way to the final, but she had no answer to the barrage from Kvitova.

“Definitely it was one of the best matches I’ve played,” she said.

“A few shots were really incredible and I couldn’t believe that I made actually them. Maybe it was magic.

“I said ‘Oh, my God, this is good! I can really run and put everything back’.

“I love to play finals in the big stadiums. Definitely I was in the zone.”

While Kvitova had laboured to rediscover her mojo for the last three years, Wimbledon was the one place she thrived.

She has felt at home here since falling in love with tennis while watching childhood idol Martina Navratilova win her nine Wimbledon titles.

And fittingly Navratilova was in the Royal Box to watch Kvitova’s victory and shared a locker room embrace with her compatriot.

“It’s nice to see her in the locker room and she’s smiling and she’s happy for me. She’s a legend. I’m just glad that I have this huge fan,” Kvitova added.

Kvitova’s victory was also a perfect present for father Jiri, who celebrates his birthday on Sunday and crying as he hugged his daughter in the players’ box.

“My dad is very emotional. It’s nothing new! I was crying as well,” Kvitova said.

“He has a birthday tomorrow, so I’m just glad he has a nice present.” 

- AFP 

Shark bites swimmer on California beach

Shark bites swimmer on California beach
Shark bites swimmer on California beach. /Photo: Reuters


A shark bit a long-distance swimmer in California as it was being reeled in by a fisherman Saturday.

The seven-foot (2.13-meter) shark bit the swimmer around 9:30 am (1630 GMT) off Manhattan Beach, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said on its Twitter feed.

The fisherman had been struggling with the hooked shark for about 40 minutes when the fish bit the swimmer.

“Shark was hooked to fishermans line, long distance swimmer got close, was bit while shark was biting through fishing line,” the LACFD tweeted.

The beach was closed for a mile (1.6 kilometers) north and south of the Manhattan Beach pier.

Paramedics took the victim to a local hospital to treat moderate injuries. The swimmer, listed as being in “stable” condition, was expected to survive.


Shark bites swimmer on California beach

Mob burns school in riot-hit Myanmar city

Mob burns school in riot-hit Myanmar city.
Mob burns school in riot-hit Myanmar city. YouTube/AFPTV

Muslims in Myanmar’s second-largest city accused police on Saturday of standing by as a Buddhist mob went on a rampage, torching a school and other buildings.

Angry mourners, some carrying crude weapons, rioted in Mandalay after the funeral of a 36-year-old Buddhist victim of the country’s latest eruption of religious unrest, witnesses said.

A school and dormitory in the Muslim area of a cemetery on the outskirts of the city were seen charred and damaged on Saturday.

“More than 70 police were here but did nothing,” said Win Naing, a Muslim donor to the school, who watched the attack from his hiding place in the home of a Buddhist friend.

He said some of the rioters were armed with sticks, metal pipes and even saws.

No injuries 

No children were believed to be in the school at the time and nobody was thought to have been injured in the attack.

Several days of violence, sparked by an accusation of rape, have also left a Muslim dead and 14 other people injured.

“Police could have stopped the mob but they did not,” said Zaw Zaw Latt, a Muslim member of an interfaith group in the city.

Police said they did not provide extra security for the crowds because they did not believe they would turn violent.

“Yesterday we did not stop the mob because we thought they were just taking part the funeral, not an attack,” said Ye Htut of the Myanmar regional police office.

At least 250 people have been killed across Myanmar since 2012 in Buddhist-Muslim clashes that have cast a shadow over the country’s political reforms.

Police have been accused of inaction in the past and the government has deployed soldiers in some cases to restore order.


A night-time curfew has been imposed in Mandalay and nine people have been arrested in connection with the recent violence.

Police said they were boosting security measures as a precaution in other cities, including the main city Yangon which has a diverse population of religious and ethnic minorities.

Social media users were unable to access Facebook for the second straight evening Friday, amid speculation that Myanmar had blocked the site to curb the spread of inflammatory comment online. The website was working normally on Saturday.

Radical monks have been accused of whipping up religious tensions, with fiery warnings that the country’s main religion is under threat from Islam.

A friend of the slain Buddhist man told AFP that a Muslim gang had used a “sword” in the attack.

The dead Muslim man, a popular local bicycle shop owner, was later killed while on his way to attend early morning prayers.



Neymar thanks fans in video

Neymar thanks fans in video.
Neymar thanks fans in video message. He may be out of the World Cup, but he says the dream of Brazil celebrating the title win is still alive.

Neymar battled back tears as he urged his Brazil team-mates to win the World Cup without him after suffering a fractured vertebrae in the quarter-final win over Colombia.

“They took away my dream of playing in a World Cup final, but the dream of being a world champion is not over,” the emotional superstar said in comments released by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) as he left the team camp Saturday.

Neymar’s agonizing plight remained centre stage as FIFA announced it would consider action against Colombian defender Juan Zuniga who kneed the Brazilian in the back. Zuniga apologised to Neymar but insisted he had not deliberately hurt the star striker.

Dreams of being champions still alive

“Life moves on. I am sure my team-mates will do everything possible so that we can achieve our dream of being champions,” Neymar said in a video released by the federation.

“It was also my dream to play in a World Cup final. It will not be this time, but I am sure we will overcome this and we will all be able to celebrate being champions.”


 Neymar sends video message to fans. Note: Video is in Portugese.  


The Brazil squad applauded the 22-year-old Barcelona striker in an emotional farewell at their Teresopolis camp before he was taken to Rio de Janeiro by helicopter.

Meanwhile, Brazilian team doctor Jose Luiz Runco called for World Cup referees to do more to protect players as he confirmed details of Neymar’s fractured third lumbar vertebrae, a bone in his lower back.

The injury was suffered in a crunching challenge by Colombia defender Juan Zuniga in Friday’s game in Fortaleza, which Brazil won 2-1.

“In games involving Brazil we have seen some things happen that are not in keeping with what we should see on a football field,” he said, recalling the crunching challenges during last week’s game against Chile that already left Neymar battered and bruised.

“Referees have tried to avoid giving out cards but FIFA is likely to take some action now. They must have experts looking into what happened.”

Defender expresses regret

FIFA has said it is looking into the incident after Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo did not even book Zuniga for the challenge.

Zuniga has expressed regret for the injury but insisted there was no intention to cause harm.

“I deeply regret the sad injury suffered by Neymar during the game between Brazil and Colombia,” the defender said in a letter sent to Neymar that was quoted by the Colombian Football Federation.

“This situation resulted from normal game action and there was no ill-intent, malice or negligence on my part,” Zuniga added.

Neymar was collecting the ball in the 88th minute when Zuniga launched a jumping challenge from behind and kneed the Brazilian in the lower part of his back.

Six weeks on sidelines 

Runco said that the fracture will need around six weeks – 40 to 45 days – to heal, and that the player will rest at home with his family in Guaruja, near Sao Paulo.

In the meantime, Brazil must hope that the injury does not have a negative impact on squad morale.

“Everyone in the squad was shocked, upset by what happened,” Runco said of the mood in the dressing room. “One said to me: ‘It seems like we have lost the game’”.

Injured Brazil star Neymar departed his team's training base in Terespolis in a helicopter on Saturday and headed home to Sao Paulo, after his World Cup ended in agony on Friday night.

Neymar departed Brazil’s base in Terespolis on Saturday afternoon, waving to the cameras after he was loaded on a stretcher onto a helicopter on a pitch at the Granja Comary training ground.

With his father alongside him, Neymar then took off for Rio de Janeiro, from where he was expected to return to his family home.

Without their star player, and with captain Thiago Silva suspended, Brazil must take on Germany in Tuesday’s semi-final in Belo Horizonte, although Runco suggested that Neymar may yet attend the match at the Mineirao Stadium.

“It all depends on whether he feels any pain, but it shouldn’t get in the way of his recovery,” he said. 



Netherlands advances to the semi-finals after penalty shoot out

Goalkeeper Tim Krul of the Netherlands celebrates with teammates after the penalty shootout in the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals between Costa Rica and the Netherlands.

The Dutch might have taken 20 shots on the Costa Rican goal but in the end it took a penalty shoot out for them to banish a stubborn and resolute Costa Rican side in Sunday's (Jul 6) quarter finals.

It was after 120 minutes that coach Louis van Gaal pulled an audacious move by using his last substitute to bring on Tim Krul to replace first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen just for the penalty shoot out.

It paid off though, as Krul dived the right way to save penalties from Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to send the Dutch into celebrations.

Krul saving Ruiz's spot kick. 

Krul saving Umana's spot kick. 

Van Gaal said after the match: “Every keeper has specific qualities and we felt that he had a better reach, and a better track record to stop penalties” 

The penalty drama came after a long duel where the Netherlands dominated but just couldn't put the ball into the net, including this remarkable set of play deep in the second half.

The in means that they will meet Argentina in the semi-finals of the World Cup on Thursday (July 10).

Source: AFP, YouTube


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Eugenie Bouchard.
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Van Gaal's goalkeeper gamble pays off in shootout win

Brave Costa Rica outwitted by 
van Gaal's move to field reserve goalkeeper Krul for shootout

DUTCH COURAGE: Holland coach Louis van Gaal's daring decision to send in reserve goalkeeper Tim Krul (above) just for the shootout pays dividends as the Newcastle United custodian makes two saves.
BRAVE TICOS: Costa Rica’s Michael Umana trying to hide his dejection after missing the crucial kick.

Louis van Gaal made the riskiest substitution in World Cup history, the switch of the century, and it paid off in spectacular fashion.
Only the irrepressible Dutch coach owns the ego to make a decision beyond most mortals.
With the world watching, no other coach would have the audacity, the arrogance or the sheer breathtaking gall to be so resolutely certain of their own judgment.
Van Gaal hauled off his first-choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for penalty specialist Tim Krul in the 120th minute in a move that left no margin for error.
Krul saved two penalties to win the shootout 4-3, shatter Costa Rican hearts and send Holland through to a much tougher test against Argentina.
Read the full report in our World Cup Noon print edition on July 6.
Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at http://bit.ly/tnpeshop.


Super-sub Krul saves two penalties on short debut

Krul baffled that he was called upon for shootout when he has saved just two of 20 penalties he 
has faced

Every keeper has specific qualities and we felt he had a better reach and a better track record to stop penalties. We’d discussed it with Tim — how Costa Rica would shoot their penalties, their sequence. So he was prepared. - Holland coach Louis van Gaal, on Tim Krul (above left, with Dirk Kuyt)


Holland goalkeeper Tim Krul made the shortest and most spectacular of World Cup debuts this morning (Singapore time), coming on seconds before the end of the quarter-final against Costa Rica to save two penalties in a shootout and give the Dutch victory.  
With the clock ticking down at the end of extra time and the match goalless, Dutch coach Louis van Gaal sent Krul, 26, on as a replacement for first-choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.  
It proved a shrewd move, as the towering Krul saved spot-kicks from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to hand the Dutch a 4-3 victory and a place in the semi-finals against Argentina on Thursday morning.
Read the full report in our print edition on July 6.
Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at http://bit.ly/tnpeshop.