Carlos Tevez plans to head back to Argentina

 

Carlos Tevez has revealed that he intends to head back to Argentina in 2014, rather than pen a new contract at Manchester City.

City had been hoping that Tevez would agree to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium, with a troubled past put to one side during contract negotiations.

Tevez has, however, snubbed the offer of a new two-year contract,according to Skysport.

He will see out his current deal, which has 18 months left to run, but admits that he will then look to head home and link up with Boca Juniors for a second time.

Tevez said: "I've got a year left on my contract at Manchester City and they want me to sign for two more seasons.

"I would prefer to return home, but it is very difficult because City won't let me leave for nothing.

"I will stay in Europe for another two years and then go back.

"Boca's president always says the door is open for me to re-join them and I am dying to pull on their shirt once more. I want to end my career with them. It is my dream and the dream of my family as well.

"But I am under contract and have to be here in England."

"I will stay in Europe for another two years and then go back."

Tevez has also revealed that he came closing to quitting the game last year during his now infamous spat with City boss Roberto Mancini - which led to him going AWOL.

He added: "I almost retired last year. I had lost the desire to play and spent time crying alone in my room.

"Bad things happened one after the other. I was knocked out of the Copa America with Argentina and I had my dispute with Roberto Mancini.

"I suffered psychologically. I did not want anything to do with football.

"I am much better now. I am winning people over because I began the new season well."

Brutal Sharapova causes total eclipse of Venus

 

 

 

 

A merciless Maria Sharapova continued her serene progress through the Australian Open draw on Friday, obliterating third-round opponent Venus Williams 6-1 6-3 and throwing down the gauntlet to her younger sister Serena.

The second seeded Russian cannot meet the tournament favourite until the final, but the 79-minute slaughter filled with blood-curdling shrieks is sure to provide food for thought for the 15-times grand slam champion.

With her two prior opponents left scoreless and humbled, Sharapova appeared set for a third successive 'double bagel' when she scorched to a 4-0 lead.

Mercifully, for herself and a stunned centre court crowd, 25th-seed Williams held serve to stave off another humiliation.

"I was a really determined player out there because I knew the tennis that she's capable of producing and playing," Sharapova told reporters of the seven-times grand slam champion.

"Despite what she's ranked or seeded, it doesn't matter when you go out on the court. She's been there. She's experienced enough to know no matter if you're playing the third round, the quarters, or the final, you have to be ready.

A much-hyped match-up was reduced to a one-sided rout, as Sharapova burned to a 5-1 lead in the second set.

Williams sparked raucous cheers by breaking Sharapova's serve and lifted the roof by holding her own to claw back to 5-3.

But Sharapova blasted an ace to seal the match, celebrating the victory with a fist-pumping scream.

The crushing loss amplified Williams's fall from her halcyon days, and left her stony-faced at her post-match media conference.

"Definitely not my best day today," said Williams, who has battled Sjogren's Syndrome, which causes fatigue and joint pain.

Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens, who has had compatriot and  retired four-times grand slam champion Kim Clijsters helping her behind the scenes, is next to be thrown to the wolves against Sharapova.

Lance Armstrong's confession of doping in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey has caused a ripple among players at the Australian Open and Sharapova weighed in to say it was "sad" for the sport of cycling.

"I'm happy that our sport is as clean as it can be and that we're constantly tested. You know, we give whereabouts of where we are every single day of the year.

"Hopefully not on birthdays and Christmas Eve, that would be pretty tough.

"Although they did show up on my birthday and I was very disappointed. They did a couple of years ago. I said, 'unless you bring flowers, I'm okay with it'.

"But they came empty-handed."

 

 

 

 

 

Fireworks sure to light up Africa

The 29th edition of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations begins Saturday with the world ready for another exciting and surprising finals. A year ago in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, Zambia shocked the world by beating Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire en route to their first-ever title, and the Chipolopolo join their vanquished foes as favourites – this time looking to claim a spot in the summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013. Also eyeing a possible run to the final at Johannesburg's Soccer City on 10 February are two-time champions Nigeria, third-place finishers from last year Mali and hosts South Africa, who lifted their only AFCON trophy at home in 1996.

Zambia are once again led by inspirational French coach Herve Renard, and if anything his side is stronger than last year. However, they have won only three of their 11 matches on the pitch since last January's penalty shootout victory in the final over the Ivorians. They only just qualified to defend the AFCON via another dramatic shootout with Uganda that ended 9-8 in their favour, so the experienced team will fear no side at the business end of a match. The holders open Group C against Ethiopia, who are returning to the event for the first time in 31 years, before facing off with Nigeria in a battle expected to determine the group winner.

Any slip by the Zambians will surely be pounced upon by Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the continent's two most experienced and lauded teams. Both have reached the last two FIFA World Cups™ as well as three AFCON semi-finals in the last four events, but there is a whiff of desperation surrounding the giants. The Elephants, now led by Frenchman Sabri Lamouchi in his first managerial job, are anxious to win an international trophy for 34-year-old Didier Drogba in what might be his final go-round, while the Black Stars have not added to their four continental laurels since 1982.

Mali finished third at the last event, but The Eagles are used to flying under the radar despite a side bursting with talent. The Malians have only qualified for eight of the 29 events but have reached the last four in five of those, and they are likely to challenge for Group B with Ghana and Congo DR, who open the event against the Black Stars. Looking to match Côte d’Ivoire in Group D will be the North African duo of Tunisia and Algeria. The Tunisians have not reached the semi-finals of the AFCON since winning the event at home in 2004, but they have escaped the group stage in three of the last four finals. After a heyday in the 1980s that culminated in Cup of Nations glory in 1990, again at home, Algeria did not reach the penultimate stage again until 2010 – the same year they returned to the FIFA World Cup – when they shocked the Ivorians in the quarter-finals.

Fellow North Africans Morocco are inexperienced but talented darkhorses in Group A, where South Africa and coach Gordon Igesund have the weight of expectation on their shoulders despite Bafana Bafana only qualifying automatically as hosts after Libya pulled out. Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi was a linchpin on the last Super Eagles team to win the event in 1994, and 'Big Boss' has stamped his authority on the sometimes nervy west Africans in the hope of reaching their first final since 2000.

 

Player of the last tournament, Christopher Katongo is once again captain and the key attacking figure for Zambia, who also get firepower up front from Jacob Mulenga, Emmanuel Mayuka and Rainford Kalaba. At the opposite end, goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene was an inspiration in 2012 as was defender Stoppila Sunzu, who converted the winning penalty in the final. Côte d’Ivoire are also led from the front by Drogba, who combines with Gervinho and Salomon Kalou, but a steely, veteran spine underlies the side's success. The Toure brothers are vital, as are Cheick Tiote and Didier Zokora in holding midfield roles and Boubacar Barry in goal.

Midfield graft is equally important for Ghana, who will rely on the Italy-based duo of Kwadwo Asamoah and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Osasuna's Anthony Annan in the absence of Michael Essien, Andre Ayew, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari. Captain Asamoah Gyan is the main man in attack, while John Paintsil is the veteran at the back alongside a group of talented up-and-comers. Jon Obi Mikel is back in the fold for Nigeria. and his Chelsea team-mate Victor Moses is expected to make waves up front, while in defence captain Joseph Yobo will compete in his sixth AFCON.

Steven Pienaar is a no-show for the hosts, who boast many familiar names from the last FIFA World Cup including young defender Bongani Khumalo, who is now captain. Competing in his sixth Cup of Nations will be Mali legend Seydou Keita, leading a midfield that will miss injured Mahamadou Diarra but can call on the returned Momo Sissoko. Up front, the Malians will feature Cheick Diabate as well as Modibo Maiga, and other strikers to watch for will be Togo's last-minute inclusion Emmanuel Adebayor, Angola captain Manucho, Niger playmaker Moussa Maazou, DR Congo's TP Mazembe duo of Tresor Mabi Mputu and Deo Kanda and Tunisia's Issam Jemaa.

Andy Murray sets up third-round showdown with Ricardas Berankis in Melbourne

Andy Murray produced a dominant display to reach the third round of the Australian Open in double quick time.

Murray needed just 101 minutes to see off the challenge of Joao Sousa 6-2 6-2 6-4.

Sousa had enjoyed a promising 2012 season to climb the rankings - however he spent much of the season on clay and it showed on the faster surfaces in Melbourne.

Murray was able to control the match from the baseline with ease - and the third seed never looked back after breaking in the third game of the match.

A further break followed in the fifth as Murray underlined his control before the Scot sealed the set in little over half-an-hour.

Murray continued to turn up the heat on the Portuguese as he raced into a 4-0 lead with a double break - and although Sousa managed to hold his own serve in the fifth and seventh games, he was unable to threaten the British No 1.

And Murray closed in on the win with his fifth break of the match at the start of the third set. Sousa did show more fight but it was all in vain as Murray was able to serve out for the match.

Murray will now face Ricardas Berankis in the third round after the Lithuanian qualifier caused an upset by beating 25th seed Florian Mayer 6-2 6-3 6-1.

Novak Djokovic into third round after demolition job

Novak Djokovic stormed into the third round of the Australian Open with a three-set demolition job on American Ryan Harrison, as his bid for a hat-trick of titles remained right on course.

Three-time Australian Open winner Djokovic took just 91 minutes to destroy the 20-year-old American 6-1 6-2 6-3 showing some of his best tennis under the lights on Rod Laver Arena,according to Skysport.

Starting off by winning 12 of the first 13 points, Djokovic went on to take the first set in just 20 minutes, and he never really took his foot off the gas as he laid down a marker for the rest of the field.

One man certainly not enjoying watching Djokovic will be Czech Republic journeyman Radek Stepanek, who will face the Serbian superstar in the last 32.

"I tried to focus on the start and I knew that he had nothing to lose and would come out with his big serves, but I managed to make some very important early breaks at the start of the match," Djokovic said.

"I was a set up after 20 minutes and it was a mental advantage, I felt much more comfortable on the court.

"I don't think he was playing at his best, it was probably the occasion playing on the centre court, but I wish him all the best, I think he has a good future."

Also in the evening session, Djokovic's fellow Serb, the No 8 seed Janko Tipsarevic looked in big trouble as he was taken to five sets by Slovakian Lukas Lacko, but he just about managed to squeeze into the next round.

Lacko came storming back from two sets down to force a decider, but it was Tipsarevic who just about managed to come out on top and seal victory 6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-5.

Spain's 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco had fewer problems negotiating his path into the last 32 as he beat Xavier Malisse of Belgium in straight sets 6-1 6-3 6-2.