Sports roundup — Monday, August 25

Cricket:

De Kock leads Proteas in Zimbabwe rout.

A scintillating 84 from 75 balls by opener Quinton de Kock led South Africa to a seven-wicket win over Zimbabwe on Thursday and a 3-0 whitewash in the one-day international series. Spurred on by De Kock, South Africa needed just 27.2 overs to reach 171 for three and easily chase down Zimbabwe’s 165 all out at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. 

De Kock plundered seven fours and two sixes and appeared to be racing to a sixth century of his young career when he smashed a catch straight to Sean Williams near the mid-wicket boundary with South Africa only 22 short of the target.  JP Duminy finished the game with a six to end 28 not out as the Proteas cruised to a fourth success in Zimbabwe after also winning the one-off test. Stand-in captain Faf du Plessis made 40. “I’m enjoying every moment of it,” De Kock said of his rich vein of form. He was named man of the series. 

South Africa rested a string of top players through the series in Bulawayo and was still a class above the Zimbabweans. Front-line fast bowlers Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel sat out the entire ODI series ahead of a triangular tournament also involving Australia. Regular ODI skipper AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla were rested for the final game. Without them, South Africa still retained their record of winning every ODI series they have contested against Zimbabwe. The second-string pace attack of Marchant de Lange, Kyle Abbott and Wayne Parnell was easily good enough on Thursday. 

Abbott removed Zimbabwe opener Hamilton Masakadza in the first over, De Lange (3-31) took a wicket off the first ball of the second over and the Zimbabweans never recovered from being four for two. At 119 for nine the home team was destined for a much lower total until some late hitting by captain Elton Chigumbura in a last-wicket partnership of 46 with Tinashe Panyangara. Chigumbura made 90 with 10 fours and two sixes and launched some big shots before he had his off stump knocked back by De Lange trying another heave to the leg side. Facing the modest total, De Kock looked likely to take South Africa charging to victory. He advanced down the track to stroke fast bowler Panyangara over mid-off for six in his best shot. But he hit the next delivery low and hard to Williams to get out. 

It made no difference, with Duminy and David Miller (13 not out) seeing South Africa to a comfortable win. “Very happy,” stand-in skipper Du Plessis said. “We started this series wanting to beat Zimbabwe convincingly. To do it 3-0 and in the fashion we finished the game off today, I’m very happy.”

“I think our batting has to improve,” Zimbabwe captain Chigumbura said

South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia will now contest a triangular series in Harare starting next week. 

Rugby:

Argentina 31 South Africa 33

Meyer hails Springbok character after scare.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer hailed the character of his team on Sunday in the wake of a lucky 33-31 Rugby Championship victory over Argentina in Salta. Serial match-winner Morne Steyn ignored whistling and booing to slot a penalty three minutes from time and give the Springboks a second win over the Pumas within eight days. It was the climax of a stirring last-quarter comeback by the visitors as tries from right-wing Cornal Hendricks and flank Marcell Coetzee wiped out a 12-point deficit.

“I do not want to say every weekend that we have shown great character, but we have now won nine of our last 10 away games.” My guys proved again that they know how to win,” Meyer said of a result that kept South Africa top of the table after two rounds, one point ahead of New Zealand. “We were down and out at one stage and the team came back. There are a lot of areas to work on, but we are still in this competition.” Meyer said an ankle injury suffered by replacement tight-head prop Frans Malherbe would rule him out of the other four Championship matches. Springboks skipper Jean de Villiers believed the energy of the seven substitutes used was a crucial factor in getting out of jail in the heat of north-western Argentina.

“I am not saying those who started did badly, but our bench made a big impact and that is probably where the match was won.” We see those on the bench as impact players rather than replacements,” said the centre and veteran of 98 Springbok tests. De Villiers also lauded Argentina, who seemed set for their first Championship victory when leading 28-16 midway through the second half at Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena. “Once again I am saying that they are a much better team than their world ranking of eighth suggests,” he said.

“We were happy to pull through, but the match could have gone either way.”

Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade and skipper Agustin Creevy found it hard to accept losing just a week after a 13-6 defeat in monsoon-like Pretoria conditions. “We failed to close the game out after playing at a higher level than the Springboks for much of the game,” admitted Hourcade. “I do not feel good – there is frustration because we did not handle the closing stages well.” The Pumas scored three tries for the first time in 14 Championship matches since their 2012 debut and this cheered the coach. “We must attack if we are going to beat South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and I believe we are on the right track.

He also praised his forwards, who gave the heavier Springbok pack a torrid time for an hour, especially in the scrums. England-based hooker Creevy said: “There is a lot of disappointment within the team because this is a game we could have won.”

South Africa and Argentina head for Australasia early September to play New Zealand and Australia.

All Blacks demolish Wallabies

New Zealand 51 Australia 20

The All Blacks produced a sensational display of power and pace to answer their critics in style with a 51-20 demolition of Australia in their Castle Lager Rugby Championship match at Eden Park in Auckland.

The World Champions scored their most points ever against the Wallabies to rack up another record and were in devastating form as they took the Wallabies apart to take the lead in the Championship with a bonus point victory. It may be a fact that the Bledisloe Cup stays in New Zealand now for another year, and the All Blacks keep their unbeaten record at Eden Park, which has stood since 1994, but in the form they were in, it is doubtful that any team will beat them. Building their platform on a devastating counter attack, something they have always possessed, this dismantling of Wallaby power was aided by a superb kicking game that disrupted the visitors, a maul that, on the day, would rival anything the Springboks have, and a scrum that simply made the Wallabies look ordinary.

As much as the rest of the world was talking about a possible All Black demise after their draw last week, this week’s answer was more than resounding. It was a warning to the rest of the world. This All Black team is still quality and class, and anyone who wants to knock them off their throne is going to have to bring something special. The biggest difference was accentuated by the way the home team reacted when they lost captain Richie McCaw to a fair yellow card in the first half. They simply shut up shop, took control of the ball and carried on attacking. It is this sort of mind set that can be so unsettling for opposition teams. A man up, the Wallabies were supposed to have an advantage. Instead, they were on the receiving end for most of the 10 minutes and never got even close to scoring.

To underline it all, the Wallabies lost Rob Simmons when he was pinned for lifting a leg during another All Black juggernaut. Ten minutes a man down simply showed the gulf between the two sides as the All Blacks scored twice to run the score line to 23-6 up by the time Simmons returned. It was in this time that the close score line simply ballooned, first as the All Black scrum demolished their seven man counterparts, resulting in a penalty try, and then, just when the Wallabies looked to be striking back, an 80 metre try against the run of play simply put the game beyond the visitors. To be fair, perhaps Julian Savea’s score shouldn’t have been allowed, as replays confirmed a high shot on Israel Folau in the All Black 22, but the ref missed it and when the ball was spilled at the far end of the field, the All Blacks reacted perfectly with Aaron Cruden sending Savea away for a long jog to score.

Built on the back of Aaron Smith’s service – don’t underestimate the scrumhalf’s influence on his team – the All Black backline are almost assured of quick professional service, often in situations where they attack the space, and makes Smith the coach’s dream. It wouldn’t be too far to say the victory was built on the backs of players named Smith, as midfielder Conrad Smith’s influence was profound, and fullback Ben Smith is still a class above almost every international peer at the moment. That showed in the second half as well, as the All Blacks simply upped the tempo as the Wallabies started taking more risks. Another counter attack saw Kieran Reid dive over before a desperate Wallaby defence could cover, and then McCaw underlined his class with a brace of tries – both off the back of rolling mauls – that ripped the heart out of the Wallaby fight.

The Wallabies did manage two late tries – one through Folau and another through captain Michael Hooper – but it only served to make the score line respectable. And then it was Steven Luatua who finished off the demolition, running a perfect line in the final minutes to score and take the scoreboard above 50. It was a performance that set the bar for the rest of the Rugby Championship and a warning to all who want the All Blacks’ crown. Predictions of their demise are grossly exaggerated. The score line was this team’s answer to their critics.

Scorers:

New Zealand – Tries: Penalty try, Julian Savea, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (2), Steven Luatua. Conversion: Aaron Cruden (6). Penalties: Aaron Cruden (2)

Australia – Tries: Israel Folau, Michael Hooper. Conversions: Kurtley Beale (2). Penalties: Kurtley Beale (2)

Rugby Championship log

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

PF

PA

PD

BPts

Pts

1

South Africa

2

2

0

0

46

37

9

0

8

2

New Zealand

2

1

1

0

63

32

31

1

7

3

Argentina

2

0

0

2

37

46

-9

2

2

4

Australia

2

0

1

1

32

63

-31

0

2

 

ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division | RESULTS

August 2014

23        Sharks 19 – 16 Free State Cheetahs – Kings Park, Durban

23        Western Province 27 – 14 Golden Lions – Newlands, Cape Town

23        Blue Bulls 30 – 25 Eastern Province Kings – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

22        Pumas 33 – 15 Griquas – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division Log

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

PF

PA

PD

BPts

Pts

1

Western Province

3

3

0

0

103

47

56

2

14

2

Sharks

3

3

0

0

84

57

27

1

13

3

Golden Lions

3

2

0

1

115

59

56

2

10

4

Pumas

3

2

0

1

78

70

8

1

9

5

Free State Cheetahs

3

1

0

2

71

74

-3

3

7

6

Blue Bulls

3

1

0

2

60

107

-47

1

5

7

Griquas

3

0

0

3

66

98

-32

3

3

8

Eastern Province Kings

3

0

0

3

60

125

-65

1

1

 

Soccer:  

Chiefs set up Pirates final in style.

Kaizer Chiefs will meet rivals Orlando Pirates in the final of the MTN8 following a 5-0 aggregate win over Platinum Stars. The Amakhosi dispatched Dikwena 3-0 in the second leg semifinal at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Sunday afternoon thanks to goals from George Maluleka, Reneilwe ‘Yeye’ Letsholonyane and Katlego Mphela. Letsholonyane rattled the upright in the 18th minute. The Chiefs midfielder shook off his marker with a clever step before firing at goal, but Kabelo Dambe just did enough to tip his effort onto the crossbar.

Chiefs continued where they left off at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium with Maluleka adding to his first-leg brace with a superbly taken free-kick from 24 yards out just before the half-hour mark. Nduduzi Nyanda came closest for Dikwena in the opening half. His effort from an acute angle squeezed past Itumeleng Khune and looked destined to cross the line, but Tsepo Masilela produced a brilliant goal-line clearance in the 37th minute to keep Amakhosi’s noses in front at the break. ‘Yeye’ doubled the home side’s lead 12 minutes into the second stanza. Masilela charged down the left flank before laying it on a silver platter for his Chiefs teammate, who finished with aplomb from close range.

Platinum Stars found it increasingly difficult to break down a stubborn and well-organized Glamour Boys backline and found themselves even further behind in the second minute of stoppage time. Mphela, who came on with 30 minutes to play, brought the ball down with his chest before producing an instinctive finish to wrap up Chiefs’ sixth successive win in all competitions this season.

Chiefs will now face Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates in the final on September 20.

Kaizer Chiefs (1) 3 (Maluleka 29′ Letsholonyane 57′ Mphela 90+2′)

Platinum Stars 0

Majoro brace as Pirates seal final berth.

Orlando Pirates advanced to the final of the MTN8 when they defeated Bidvest Wits 3-1 in the second leg of their semifinal encounter at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday night. Getaneh Kebede cancelled Kermit Erasmus’s opener but Lehlohonolo Majoro came off the bench to score a brace to seal a 5-1 aggregate win for the Buccaneers.

The Clever Boys almost opened the scoring as early as the third minute when a cross fell for Vincent Pule on the left side of the box, but he side-footed over the crossbar on the volley. The visitors had another opportunity from a set-piece in the 11th minute as Buhle Mkhwanazi rose at the far post to connect with a corner from Sameegh Doutie, only to send his header wide of the target. Senzo Meyiwa then made a solid save in the 20th minute as he dived low to hold on to a well-struck long-range effort from Doutie.

The Orlando Pirates goalkeeper was called into action again nine minutes later, this time pulling off an acrobatic save to palm a volleyed effort from Sibusiso Vilakazi over the crossbar. The Buccaneers started to find their rhythm late in the first half and in the 40th minute Oupa Manyisa teed the ball up for Erasmus, but his shot flew just over the crossbar. Erasmus then used his quick feet to sidestep Cornelis Kwakman a minute later before racing into the right side of the box, but the forward dragged his low effort wide of the far post. Gavin Hunt’s men started the second half as they had done the first with Sithembiso Ngcobo getting two decent chances, but the big striker shot across goal in the 47th minute, before sending a header wide three minutes later.

The deadlock was eventually broken in the 53rd minute when Erasmus collected a pass from Thabo Matlaba on the centre line and raced to the edge of the box before beating Jackson Mabokgwane with a low shot. Wits leveled matters in the 77th minute as substitute Kebede converted from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by Rooi Mahamutsa inside the box. However, Pirates were back in front again in the 84th minute when Majoro beat Mabokgwane with a superb volley after he had been set up by Sifiso Myeni.

The Buccaneers were awarded a penalty of their own in the 87th minute when Myeni was fouled by Buhle Mkhwanazi, but Mabokgwane pulled off a good save to deny Manyisa. The home side did score their third goal in added time as Majoro sprung the offside trap before beating Mabokgwane with an exquisite lob to seal a convincing win.

Orlando Pirates (0) 3 (Erasmus 53’, Majoro 84’ 90+1’)

Bidvest Wits (0) 1 (Kebede pen. 78’)

Barclays Premier League

United held by Sunderland, Spurs top.

Manchester United labored to a ponderous 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Sunday that delivered a first Premier League point for Louis van Gaal but laid bare their dire need for reinforcements and exposed frailties at both ends of the pitch. United’s problems were there for all to see as Juan Mata’s opening goal on 17 minutes proved a unique scoring opportunity while their lack of a commanding centre half was exploited by an unmarked Jack Rodwell for Sunderland’s equalizer.

They now find themselves five points adrift of early Premier League pace-setters Tottenham Hotspur, who were Sunday’s big winners with a 4-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers that ensured Harry Redknapp suffered a second straight defeat and a miserable return to his former club. In Sunday’s other game, Hull City played most of the match with 10 men and came within six minutes of holding on for victory over Stoke City, but were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.

PRESSING CONCERN

With the transfer window edging towards a close, United were handed another reminder that nothing but significant investment in a squad that lacks depth and strength will spark an improvement in their fortunes after last season’s woes. They lacked penetration in attack with little pace or incision and while Mata tapped home following a driving run and fizzing cross from Antonio Valencia, the Spaniard was largely ineffective as a central playmaker. As English media reported United were nearing a deal for Real Madrid’s Argentina winger Angel Di Maria, many United fans were perhaps wondering if the more pressing concern lies at the back despite defender Marcos Rojo’s arrival midweek.

It was Robin van Persie who let Rodwell run and jump unchecked to head Sunderland’s leveler on 30 minutes, but in centre backs Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and youngster Tyler Blackett, United seemed to lack the presence of a leader. For new manager Van Gaal, who has already claimed it will take a miracle to propel United to the Premier League summit, Sunday’s woes stemmed from midfield. “The purpose of the game is to create more chances and score goals. We haven’t created more chances,” the Dutchman told the BBC.

“You have to recognize the fight of the opponent. We have reached Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie a lot of times, but after that you need the support of the midfielders, and the combination was not good enough.”

EXPENSIVE PATCHWORK

Goals were not in short supply at White Hart Lane where players condemned as costly mistakes last season starred in a 4-0 victory. Nacer Chadli, among the expensive patchwork of players recruited when Gareth Bale left for Real Madrid, scored Tottenham’s first and third while record signing Erik Lamela was pivotal in a playmaker role. Eric Dier profited from a Lamela corner to net Tottenham’s second, scoring for the second time in two weeks, and Emmanuel Adebayor rounded off the scoring with a crisp low finish. For Redknapp, sacked by Spurs in 2012 after leading them to fourth in the Premier League, an experiment with three central defenders backfired spectacularly with Tottenham scoring three times inside the opening 37 minutes.

“We didn’t play well. We got what we deserved, which is nothing. We didn’t play with enough energy and I thought we were in awe of Tottenham a little bit,” Redknapp said. Hull had James Chester sent off after 14 minutes against Stoke for a lunging last-man tackle, but opened the scoring before halftime when Nikica Jelavic finished from close range after a Tom Huddlestone shot was only parried by Asmir Begovic.

The Tigers’ hopes of winning back-to-back league games for the first time in 11 months were shredded when Ryan Shawcross scrambled the ball over the line after a Phil Bardsley effort hit the post. The equalizer left Hull boss Steve Bruce fuming that a throw-in was given against his side earlier in the move. “It baffles me. It is an awful one,” he said.

“The throw-in was ours and blatantly ours. It is not as though it is a faint touch; their boy does not even want to turn round for a throw. You would think they get that right because it has cost us.”

English Barclays Premier League | RESULTS

24 August                    

Sunderland 1 – 1 Manchester United

Hull City 1 – 1 Stoke City

Tottenham Hotspur 4 – 0 Queens Park Rangers 

Everton 2 – 2 Arsenal     

Southampton 0 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

Chelsea 2 – 0 Leicester City      

Crystal Palace 1 – 3 West Ham United

Swansea City 1 – 0 Burnley                     

Aston Villa 0 – 0Newcastle United

English Barclays Premier League Logs

 

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

1

Tottenham Hotspur

2

2

0

0

5

0

5

6

2

Chelsea

2

2

0

0

5

1

4

6

3

Swansea City

2

2

0

0

3

1

2

6

4

Arsenal

2

1

1

0

4

3

1

4

5

Hull City

2

1

1

0

2

1

1

4

6

Aston Villa

2

1

1

0

1

0

1

4

7

Manchester City

1

1

0

0

2

0

2

3

8

West Ham United

2

1

0

1

3

2

1

3

9

Liverpool

1

1

0

0

2

1

1

3

10

Everton

2

0

2

0

4

4

0

2

11

Sunderland

2

0

2

0

3

3

0

2

12

West Bromwich Albion

2

0

2

0

2

2

0

2

13

Manchester United

2

0

1

1

2

3

-1

1

14

Southampton

2

0

1

1

1

2

-1

1

15

Stoke City

2

0

1

1

1

2

-1

1

16

Leicester City

2

0

1

1

2

4

-2

1

17

Newcastle United

2

0

1

1

0

2

-2

1

18

Crystal Palace

2

0

0

2

2

5

-3

0

19

Burnley

2

0

0

2

1

4

-3

0

20

Queens Park Rangers

2

0

0

2

0

5

-5

0

Golf:

Cool Ulrich a good bet at Wild Coast.

Wild Coast Sun Country Club plays at 5 807 meters from the tips, making it the shortest course on the Sunshine Tour’s schedule. The defense of the course comes from the coastal winds, which make it a tactical shot-makers’ course. To stay patient in windy conditions takes experience and seven-time Sunshine Tour champion Ulrich van den Berg has spent 15 years on tour, making him a cool customer.

Added to that is his run of great form over the 2014 season. He currently ranks second in the Chase to the Investec Cup and 10th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. The Sunning hill resident is due a win in a season that contains two missed cuts in 14 starts. Van den Berg has made the top 10 eight times this year, but his most impressive run of form has come in the build-up to the Wild Waves Challenge. Van den Berg has finished in the top five in every one of his last five starts and will certainly head to the Wild Coast looking for silverware.

The 39-year-old’s most recent win came at the BMG Classic in October 2013. He’ll look for a first win of 2014 as a means to launch into the second half of the year. Van den Berg first picked up a club at the age of eight and went on to turn professional in 1999. One year later he won for the first time at the Riviera Resort Classic and he has since claimed a further six titles and finished in the top 10 more than 70 times.

Wild Coast Sun Country Club is a tactical course that requires experience, patience and confidence. Right now Van den Berg is the player with heaps of all three.

Ryder Cup: Jamie Donaldson earns debut with Czech win

Czech Masters final-round leaderboard 

-14 J Donaldson (Wal), -12 B Dredge (Wal), -11 S Kjeldsen (Den), M Bremner (SA), -8 E Pepperell (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng), -7 Sam Walker (Eng), S Gallacher (Sco)

Welshman Jamie Donaldson secured a Ryder Cup place as he won the Czech Masters in Prague. The 38-year-old had needed a top-seven finish to seal a debut spot in the Europe team for next month’s contest against the USA at Gleneagles. He gained his third European Tour win, beating compatriot and overnight leader Bradley Dredge by two shots after a final-round 68 to finish 14 under par. Scot Stephen Gallacher, another Ryder Cup hopeful, was tied for seventh.

“It’s been an amazing week,” Donaldson told the PGA European Tour website.  “I needed to play well either this week or next week, or both, to guarantee my place in the Ryder Cup team so there was a lot on the line.” Winning is everything: wins shoot you up world rankings, Race To Dubai, all sorts.”

Jamie Donaldson on earning a Ryder Cup debut 

“It’s so difficult to get into the team; the lads are playing so well. You know you have to play well to secure your place and it came down to the wire.” English duo Eddie Pepperell and Tommy Fleetwood finished in a tie for fifth, one stroke ahead of compatriot Sam Walker and Gallacher. Donaldson added: “It’s massive – those three last holes coming in there were really tough with the wind blowing, so I’m just really happy to seal it.” It was the first Welsh 1-2 on the European circuit, with Dredge still without a success since the last of his two Tour victories in 2006.

Donaldson opened the final day with three successive birdies to take the lead, though he lost it to Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen with a bogey at the fourth. The lead continued to change hands until Donaldson made the most of two Kjeldsen bogeys to open up a two-shot lead with a long birdie at the 10th. He stayed in front after that and could even afford to bogey the 17th on his way to victory.

Motorsport:

Ricciardo wins Belgian GP.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo won the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday but Mercedes hogged the headlines after Lewis Hamilton accused championship-leading teammate Nico Rosberg of deliberately running into him on the second lap.

Hamilton retired with a damaged car but Rosberg, blamed by his bosses and booed by the crowd on the podium, finished second to extend his lead to 29 points with seven of the 19 races remaining. The victory, on a surprisingly dry afternoon at a circuit famed for rapid changes in conditions, was Ricciardo’s second in succession and third of his first season with the reigning Formula One champions.

It was also his team’s second in succession in Belgium after four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel triumphed last year and set off a run of nine wins in a row. Finland’s Valtteri Bottas was third for Williams. “It’s been a really good day for us on a track we didn’t expect to get maximum points from, so yeah, it’ll keep us smiling for a while,” said Ricciardo, who led for much of the race unlike his previous wins. His endeavors were still almost a sideshow to the major talking point, a further stirring up of already troubled waters at Mercedes.

The two teammates had been expected to dominate the race after qualifying on the front row but the intense rivalry between them blew up in their face. “We just had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose. He said he did it on purpose,” Hamilton told reporters after a post-race meeting with Rosberg and bosses.

“He said he could have avoided it. He said ‘I did it to prove a point'” Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolf slammed the incident as ‘absolutely unacceptable’. “Lap No 2 of a long race and a crash between two teammates, we have often discussed the situation and it happened today,” he told the BBC. “You don’t try to overtake with the knife between your teeth in lap No 2 and damage both cars.”

The team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda was also fuming. “It is unacceptable. If these things happen at the end of the race, when they are fighting for the win then you discuss it but in the second lap to hand the victory to Red Bull,” said the former champion. “I thought they were clever enough to know that but obviously they aren’t.”

DECISIVE MOMENT

Hamilton had passed pole-sitter Rosberg at the start but his race was effectively over moments later when Rosberg tried to retake the lead in a misjudged move that could prove extremely costly for Hamilton. The German’s front wing made contact with Hamilton’s rear tyre and punctured it, leaving the Briton having to nurse his car back to the pits in a trail of tyre debris. “Nico hit me. Nico hit me,” Hamilton exclaimed over the car radio.

He rejoined a minute adrift of Rosberg. After complaining that he had no down force and repeatedly asking the team to save the engine, the Briton was recalled to the pits five laps from the end and retired. Some of the debris from the tyres carcass later snagged on Rosberg’s radio mast, flapping in his face as he tried to clear it away at 300kph.

Mercedes have been struggling to keep the peace between the evenly-matched teammates since the start of the year and arrived at Spa after a controversy in Hungary in July, where a ‘team orders’ controversy left Rosberg aggrieved. Hamilton had started last in that race and finished third, with Rosberg going from pole to fourth and complaining that his teammate had not let him through. Then, as on Sunday, the team made clear their support for Hamilton and they will have their work cut out again in the days ahead.

“This is a decisive moment in the battle between the two of them and for the team. Lewis is very upset; we kept him out there for a long time with a damaged car. He will recover quickly. It is going to be handled,” said Wolff. Rosberg has 220 points to Hamilton’s 191 with Ricciardo moving closer on 156. Mercedes remain comfortably in front in the constructors’ standings with 411 points to Red Bull’s 254. Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth for Ferrari, the first time he has beaten Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso this season, with Vettel fifth.

RESULTS

1. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull – Renault 1:24:36.556

 2. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes +00:03.383

 3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 00:28.032

 4. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 00:36.815

 5. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull – Renault 00:52.196

 6. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 00:54.262

 7. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 00:54.580

 8. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 01:01.162

 9. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India – Mercedes 01:04.293

 10. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso – Renault 01:05.347

 11. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India – Mercedes 01:05.697

 12. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso – Renault 01:11.920

 13. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 01:15.975

 14. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber – Ferrari 01:22.447

 15. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber – Ferrari 01:30.825

 16. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia – Ferrari 1 lap

 17. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham – Renault 1 lap

 18. Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia – Ferrari 5 laps

 r. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 6 laps

 r. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus – Renault 11 laps

 r. Andre Lotterer (Germany) Caterham – Renault 43 laps

 r. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus – Renault 43 laps

Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg, 1:50.511, lap 36.

Tennis:

Andy Murray says he is in his best physical condition since he won Wimbledon as he prepares to try and win a second US Open title. The Briton will take on Dutchman Robin Haase in the first round on Monday.

Murray, 27, has not won a tournament since he had back surgery last September. “I got a great training block in Miami done, so physically I’m where I would want to be,” he said. “My body is pain-free. I feel ready.” Murray’s Wimbledon title defense ended in the quarter-finals in July, and he then fell at the same stage in Toronto and Cincinnati.

Despite his failure to win a title in 2014, he has reached two quarter-finals and a semi-final at the three Grand Slams.

Recent US Open champions  

2013

Rafael Nadal (Spa)

Serena Williams (US)

2012

Andy Murray (GB)

Serena Williams (US)

 2011

Novak Djokovic (Ser)

Samantha Stosur (Aus)

2010

Rafael Nadal (Spa)

Kim Clijsters (Bel)

 

2009

Juan Martin del Porto (Arg)

Kim Clijsters (Bel)

“I have been playing well the last few weeks,” he said. “I lost to guys who had won the events, and had quite big opportunities in both those matches.” I feel like I’m playing well. This week has been very good preparation. I’m happy and I feel ready to start the tournament.” The Scot – who will begin his quest for the title on the Louis Armstrong court at approximately 18:00 BST – has won two of his three previous matches against Haase, including a victory from two sets down at Flushing Meadows in 2011.

“It was a tricky match, windy conditions that day and very up and down,” said Murray. “It wasn’t a particularly clean match, but I found a way to get through.” Haase, 27, has struggled with a right knee injury in recent years and lost heavily to Murray at the Australian Open in 2013, but he feels more optimistic in New York despite a tough draw.

Eugenie Bouchard, tipped as the next superstar of women’s tennis, arrives at the US Open seeking to take a year of remarkable Grand Slam success to the last level – victory. The 20-year-old Canadian has accomplished the rare feat of reaching at least the semifinals of the year’s first three Grand Slams.

Tall, blonde and photogenic, she has a knack for social media and a boatload of endorsements. Her first trip to a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon resulted in a crushing defeat at the hands of Petra Kvitova. But New Yorkers find her this week on the cover of the New York Times Magazine’s US Open edition – a marquee moment that Bouchard calls “an honour”. The fanfare surrounding seventh-seeded Bouchard is in contrast to the relatively low profile of Simona Halep, the 22-year-old Romanian who fell in the French Open final to Maria Sharapova.

Halep reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January, and was beaten in the semifinals by Bouchard at Wimbledon. And with eight career titles, two of them this year, she has quietly risen to No 2 in the world – aided by the injury absence of China’s Li Na – and goes into the Open seeded second behind five-time champion Serena Williams. “I think there is a good group of us coming up,” Bouchard said. “For sure, we probably motivate each other a little bit, as well.” I think it’s just so interesting to have great champions who are still playing so well but are getting older, to see them play against the young guns that are going out with nothing to lose. I think it makes very interesting tennis.” Both Halep and Bouchard have struggled in the hard court build-up to the Open.

Bouchard fell at the first hurdle in Montreal and Cincinnati and was humbled by Samantha Stosur in the second round at New Haven – where defending champion Halep was ousted in her second-round opener by Magdalena Rybarikova. “Maybe it’s not the ideal lead up you want,” Bouchard said. “But I don’t think there is a specific way you want to lead up to a Grand Slam that’s perfect, that will guarantee results.” I am going to go in swinging from the first round,” she added. “Whether I have played 10 matches or not, I still have to fight and battle, no matter what.” That’s what I’m going to do.”

Halep opens her campaign on Monday, in the first match of the tournament on the 23 771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium court. It could be an intimidating prospect, but Halep doesn’t think she’ll feel the pressure of the occasion against US wildcard Danielle Rose Collins. “I have experience everywhere now to play, so I feel prepared for everything,” she said. “I have just to do my game on court.”

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