Welcome to this week’s column. After last week’s unexpurgated rants, expect nothing but serenity and calm this time round (possibly). Stories this week come from tennis, athletics, netball, badminton, winter sports, golf, cricket, rugby union and football.
A Week is a long time in tennis – isn’t that what they say? Well it certainly is for Caroline Wozniacki, who went from Eastbourne winner last week to out in the second round at Wimbledon this.
Wozniacki came from a set down in her semi-final against Angelique Kerber to take it 2-6 7-6 6-4. She was joined in the final by Aryna Sabalenka who defeated Agnieszka Radwanska, just coming back into form after a long injury lay-off, 6-3 1-6 6-3.
The final was altogether a more straightforward, if tight, affair. Top seed Wozniacki took the title in straight sets 7-5 7-6.
Into Wimbledon fortnight and almost immediately the seeds in the women’s draw began to fall.
The biggest shock of the first round was a really limp display from fourth seed Sloane Stephens, who was easily beaten by Donna Vekic 6-1 6-3.
The second biggest shock of the first round was the exit of the fifth seed, Elina Svitolina, who went down in three sets to Tatjana Maria 7-6 4-6 6-1.
Petra Kvitova, seeded eight, lost in three sets to Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 4-6 6-0.
Sixteenth seed, Coco Vanderweghe, also went out in the first round, defeated in three sets by
Katerina Siniakova 6-7 6-3 8-6. She had sustained an injury during the match and, although she completed it, later had to pull out of the doubles.
Twenty-first seed Anastasija Sevastova lost to Camila Giorgi 6-1 2-6 6-4, Maria Sharapova, seeded twenty-four, lost to Vitalia Diatchenko, Hsieh Su- Wei defeated thirtieth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 4-6 6-3 and Andrea Petkovic beat thirty-first seed Zhang Shuai 6-4 4-6 6-2.
Of the British players, Heather Watson went out in the first round to Kirsten Flipkens 6-4 7-5. Katy Dunne lost to twelfth seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 7-6. Gabi Taylor went out to qualifier Eugenie Bouchard 6-0 4-6 6-3. Third seed Garbine Muguruza defeated Naomi Broady 6-2 7-5. Harriet Dart took a set off seventh seed Karolina Pliskova, but went down 7-6 2-6 6-1.
British number one Jo Konta beat Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5 7-6 in a closely fought encounter and there were fine wins for Katie Boulter against Veronica Cepede Royg 6-4 5-7 6-4 and Katie Swan, who defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2 6-2.
The second round was just as bloody. Second seed Wozniacki lost in three to Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 1-6 7-5.Third seed Muguruza was beaten by Alison Van Uytvanck 5-7 6-2 6-1.
Thirty-second seed Radwanska lost to Lucie Safarova 7-5 6-4.
All of the remaining British players lost, including twenty-second seed Konta who succumbed to Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-4. Cue the haters on social media, including one particularly pernicious chap who repeatedly called Konta an “LTA funding leech”. Ugh.
Boulter lost to Naomi Osaka (eighteenth seed), 6-3 6-4 and Swan to Mihaela Buzarnescu (twenty-ninth seed) 6-0 6-3.
And that’s just after the first four days! Will there be any seeds left by the business end of the tournament next week? Is it opening up for Serena (and have I just jinxed her by saying it?) News and updates next Friday.
England were triumphant in the T20 Tri-Series against New Zealand on Sunday.
In truth it was a bit of an anti-climax as New Zealand batting first could only muster 137 in their 20 overs:
New Zealand 137/9 (20 overs)
England 141/3 (17.1 overs)
England won by seven wickets with 17 balls to spare
Openers Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates began well, making 31 apiece, but after that it all fell apart as New Zealand limped to a below par 137. Dani Hazell, Katherine Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone took two wickets each.
In response the England openers Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont made a stand of 81 before Beaumont was out for 35. The visitors had no answer to Wyatt’s strength and style as she scored 50.
Sarah Taylor was bowled by young star Amelia Kerr, but Nat Sciver and Heather Knight took it on and saw England home, scoring 21 and 17 not out respectively.
England squad to play ODI series against New Zealand
Dani Hazell has been left out of the ODI squad. In comes Alex Hartley, while young fast bowler Katie George keeps her place:
Heather Knight (Berkshire, capt), Tammy Beaumont (Kent), Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire), Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire), Georgia Elwiss (Sussex), Katie George (Hampshire), Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire), Alex Hartley (Lancashire), Amy Jones (Warwickshire, wk), Laura Marsh (Kent), Anya Shrubsole (Somerset), Nat Sciver (Surrey), Sarah Taylor (Sussex, wk), Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire), Danni Wyatt (Sussex)
The three-match series starts tomorrow (7 July) at Headingley (11am start), with the second match at Derby on 10 July (1pm start) and the third at Leicester on 13 July (2pm start). There are ICC Women’s Championship points at stake in all three games.
All matches are live on Sky Sports and radio coverage is on BBC TMS on 5 Live Sports Extra.
ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier
The qualifying tournament begins on Saturday 7 July in Rotterdam.
Group A comprises Bangladesh, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and UAE
Group B comprises Ireland, Scotland, Thailand and Uganda
Ireland begin on 7 July against Thailand. They then play Scotland on 8 July and Uganda on 10 July.
Scotland’s first match is against Uganda on 7 July and their last against Thailand on 10 July.
There were some big performances by Team GB’s women at the British Athletics Championships last weekend.
On the track:
Laura Muir won the 800m in 2:01.22 seconds with Shelayna Oskan-Ckarke second (2:01.94) and Adelle Tracey in third (2:02.00).
Beth Dobbin won the 200m in 22.75, her second personal best time of the weekend.
Rosie Clarke won the 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 9:45.83 which was good enough to get her to the European Championships.
Bethan Davies won the 5,000m walk.
Steph Twell won the 5,000m with Melissa Courtney in second and Eilish McColgan in third.
Meghan Beesley won the 400m hurdles in 55.73 with Kirsten McAslan second (56.48) and Jessica Turner third (57.10).
In the field:
Lorraine Ugen maintained her good form in the long jump, which she won with a jump of 7.05m with Jazmin Sawyers in second (6.86m).
Holly Bradshaw won the pole vault with a height of 4.60m, Sophie Cook in second (4.25m, PB) and Sally Peake in third (4.15m)
Morgan Lake won the high jump (1.97m), Katrina Johnson-Thompson second (1.90) and Nikki Manson third (1.87, PB).
Jade Lally won the discus with 56.61.
Laura Whittingham won the javelin with 55.55m.
Sophie Hitchon won the hammer with a championship record throw of 72.02.
Other Athletics News
British 400m runner, Christine Ohuruogu has retired at the age of 34. Ohuruogu became World Champion in 2007 and won gold the following year at the Beijing Olympics.
She won silver at the London Olympics and a second world title in Moscow in 2013.
She was also a stalwart member of the 4 x 400m relay team, winning two Olympic bronzes (2008, 2016), one World Championship silver (2013) and no less than five bronze medals (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015).
Polish sprinter, Irena Szewinska has died at the age of 72.
She won three Olympic golds medals; in the 4x100m relay in Tokyo (1964), in the 200m in Mexico City (1968) and in the 400m eight years later in Montreal (1976).
She was the first woman to break 50 seconds for the 400m and set 10 career world records.
In 1998 she became a member of the International Olympic Committee and in 2005 became only the third woman to serve on the IAAF Council.
Women’s PGA Championship
Park Sung-hyun of South Korea won the PGA at Kemper Lakes near Chicago at the weekend.
Three golfers finished on -10, Park, Nasa Hataoka of Japan and Ryu So-yeon, also of South Korea and went into a play-off.
Park and Ryu both birdied the first play-off hole, while Hataoka was eliminated as she made only par. Play was then suspended for 20 minutes due to the weather and on the resumption, Park birdied the second play-off hole, while Ryu could only make par.
Best British finishers were Charley Hull tied for sixth on -6, Bronte Law tied 18th on -2 and Jodie Ewart Shadoff tied 25th on -1.
Vitality Super League Grand Final
It will be a repeat of last year’s Grand Final at the Copper Box in London this Saturday as Loughborough Lightning take on Wasps Netball for the title.
Last season, if you remember, Lightning finished top and Wasps second. They defeated their semi-final opponents and met in the final where Wasps came out on top 55-51.
So this season Lightning will be out for revenge. Their finishing places were reversed this year and they both had good wins in their respective semi-finals, Loughborough defeating Manchester Thunder 59-50 and Wasps beating Team Bath 54-39.
Who will come out on top at the Copper Box? If you can’t get there, full coverage is on Sky Sports and the match starts at 5pm.
The Roses have moved up to second in the world rankings for the first time.
Since rankings began in 2008, Australia and New Zealand have filled the top two places, but England have overtaken the Silver Ferns in the latest table.
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Northern Ireland
- Trinidad & Tobago
Wales have dropped out of the top ten and stand at 11, while Ireland are 19th.
England qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup as hosts and are joined in automatic qualification by Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi.
“Interesting” that in the 15 comments I saw when I looked at this story on the BBC Sports page, eight were from men with variations of “It’s not a proper sport”, “sexist if men can’t play”, “who cares?”, three were removed because they broke the house rules (makes you wonder what they actually said) and the grand total of four were actually positive comments about the Roses’ achievement. So it seems that women shouldn’t be allowed to participate in “men’s sport”, i.e., football, but neither should we have what is perceived, incorrectly, to be a “women’s sport”, i.e., netball. I think that leaves us with what is called Hobson’s choice……
UK Sport has announced increased funding for curling running up to the Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing in 2022. But four winter sports have had their funding cut:
|2014-2018 funding||2018-22 funding|
|Bobsleigh||£5m (men’s only)||£0|
|Short-track speed skating||£4.76m||£0 (extra support for Elise Christie)|
|Ski & snowboard||£5m||£6.75m|
|Para-ski & Snowboard||£2.77m||£3.5m|
This is broadly in line with UK Sport policy of only funding where the prospect of medals is a real one, a policy which you will know, if you are a regular reader of this column, is not something with which I necessarily agree. Even stranger than that, UK Sport has made special provision for short-track speed skater Elise Christie, who they consider has made “significant and consistent world-level success.” This has drawn criticism from some quarters, especially as Christie did not win a medal in Pyeongchang.
Rugby Union – Sevens
France won the first leg of the European Grand Prix Series in Marcoussis. They defeated Russia in the final 17-12.
Ireland finished third, beating England by 39-7, their biggest ever win against England in either 7s or 15s.
Wales finished fifth and newly promoted Scotland had a great weekend, making it to the quarter-finals before they were beaten by Russia.
This weekend sees the second leg in Kazan. News and results next week.
Chris and Gabby Adcock reached the semi-finals of the Malaysia Open last weekend before they fell to eventual champions and fourth seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong. They lost 21-17, 18-21, 19-21.
Zheng and Huang then went on to defeat second seeds Wang Yiiu and Huang Dongping in the final 21-19, 21-18.
The Welsh FA have announced that the Wales v England World Cup qualifier will be played at Newport’s ground, Rodney Parade.
The game, scheduled for 31 August, will kick-off at 7.45pm.
It is between England and Wales as to who finishes top – the runner-up will probably go into a play-off, while the group winner will qualify automatically.
- Arsenal have signed Swiss international midfielder Lia Walti and German international Tabea Kemme.
- Former Lioness Rachel Yankey has joined the coaching staff at London Bees.
- Reading have signed goalkeeper Rachael Laws from Sunderland and midfielder Remi Allen has signed a new contract with the Berkshire club.
- Chelsea are about to sign Finnish international forward Adelina Engm
- Liverpool have made two singing s from Bristol City; forward Yana Daniels and defender jasmine Matthews.
- Everton have signed Sunderland midfielder Dominique Bruinenberg.
- Bristol City Women have named their new manager; she is former Birmingham City assistant coach Tanya Oxtoby. She was previously assistant coach at Perth Glory Women and the Australia Under-20s.
Birmingham City Ladies have changed their name to Birmingham City Women. In a statement the club called it “an important and progressive step.”
The FA has released its new logos for the rebranded women’s leagues. Needless to say, as with pretty much all things FA-related, I’m not totally convinced. Take a look for yourselves and let me know what you think: http://www.thefa.com/news/2018/jun/06/fa-womens-leagues-new-brand-identity-060618
I gather there’s some men’s football going on this weekend? I will actually miss it as I’ll be at the theatre in Stratford! For those of you old enough to understand this reference, my husband and I will be re-enacting that Likely Lads episode until we can get home and watch the recording! Good luck to England’s men against Sweden on Saturday. Let’s hope it’s a better and much less tetchy and miserable match than the one against Colombia.
More news and views next week.