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Motor cars
Hamilton ends season with a win in Abu Dhabi
25 November 2018, 8:08 PM

Five times world champion Lewis Hamilton signed off in style on the Formula One season on Sunday with victory in Abu Dhabi, his 11th win of the campaign, and a points record.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third.

“I am so happy right now,” said Hamilton after Hollywood actor Will Smith brought down the chequered flag at the floodlit Yas Marina circuit on Hamilton’s 73rd career win.

The Briton, who has won 51 of the 100 races in the V6 turbo hybrid era, became the first driver to score more than 400 points in a season with a final tally of 408.

His victory also left him 18 wins away from Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.

Two times world champion Fernando Alonso, in his farewell race with McLaren, had hoped to sign off in the points but finished 11th.

With both championships already won, Hamilton taking his in Mexico with two races to spare and Mercedes sealing their fifth successive constructors’ and drivers’ double in Brazil, Sunday’s focus was on the race and those moving on — particularly Alonso.

Hamilton, Vettel and the Spaniard — three great champions — spun their cars in a cloud of smoke at the end of their slowing down lap, before stepping out for hugs and words of mutual respect.

Orlando Pirates' Xola Mlambo
Pirates deliver a cracker of a game against Chiefs
24 November 2018, 7:57 PM

Orlando Pirates supporters got an early Christmas present from their team.

Pirates beat arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon to advance to the final of this season’s Telkom Knockout.

This was the Buccanners third win against Amakhosi this year.

Chiefs are still winless against Pirates since December 2014.

Chiefs dominated the early proceedings, but it was Thembinkosi Lorch who put Pirates ahead after receiving a defense splitting pass from Pule.

Pirates joy was shortlived, with Colombian Leonardo Castro finding the equaliser five minutes later.

Finally, Pirates restored their lead with Zambian Justin Shonga scoring from inside the box, six minutes from full time.

Germany's Alexander Zverev celebrates
Zverev beats Isner to reach last four at ATP Finals
16 November 2018, 7:32 PM

Alexander Zverev became the first German to reach the last four at the ATP Finals for 15 years as he beat American John Isner 7-6 (5) 6-3 at the O2 Arena on Friday.

The 21-year-old edged a tight opening set before breaking in the eighth game of the second to close in on his second victory in the Gustavo Kuerten group and move on to a semi-final clash against six-times champion Roger Federer.

His victory meant the day’s second singles between group winner Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic is academic — apart from ranking points and the $200,000 on offer for each round-robin win at the year-ending showpiece.

Zverev became the first German in the semi-finals of the event since Rainer Schuettler lost in the last four to Andre Agassi in 2003 in Houston.

World number 10 Isner still harboured hopes of reaching the semi-finals despite losing his first two matches.

A straight sets victory and a win for Djokovic later would have seen him scrape into the weekend.

When he levelled the tiebreak at 5-5 with a thunderous forehand return it still looked possible, but Zverev responded with a superbly improvised pass on the next point before Isner dumped a forehand into the net.

Despite his hopes having gone, Isner stuck to his task in the second set but Zverev, still needing the victory to make sure of his semi-final berth, powered to his 56th match win of the year.

Zverev, the leader of the next generation of players expected to dominate the game in years to come, is the youngest semi-finalist at the tournament since Juan Martin del Potro reached the final in London in 2009.

Regardless of what happens in the day’s second singles Djokovic will play South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Anderson hitting a backhand.
Anderson off to flyer at ATP Finals with win over Thiem
11 November 2018, 9:27 PM

Kevin Anderson made a winning debut at the ATP Finals with a 6-3 7-6 (10) victory over Austrian Dominic Thiem in the opening singles match at the O2 Arena on Sunday.

Wimbledon runner-up Anderson, the first South African to qualify for the season-ender since Wayne Ferreira in 1995, was comfortably the better player in a one-sided first set.

The second set was a much tighter affair with serve dominating but Anderson sneaked a gripping tiebreaker 12-10 on his fourth match point, banging down his 13th ace to open his account in the Lleyton Hewitt group.

Anderson, 32, celebrated by leading the packed crowd in singing ‘happy birthday’ to his wife Kelsey.

Swiss Roger Federer will begin his quest for a record-extending seventh title at the eight-man season-ender when he faces Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the evening session.

Anderson had lost both his matches against Thiem this year, having won their previous six clashes, and he looked fired-up to reassert his dominance over this year’s French Open runner-up.

He broke serve in the fourth game after a deep service return forced an error from the Austrian and had chances for a double break two games later but Thiem hung in.

Anderson wrapped up the set on serve at 5-3 but Thiem came out striking the ball with more aggression in the second set and improved his serving percentage to such an extent that he conceded only two of 25 points after landing his first delivery.

Thiem could make little impression on the Anderson serve either, though, and the match drifted into a tiebreaker.

The 25-year-old Austrian saved a match point at 5-6 before playing a sensational point to earn a set point of his own, only to then net a forehand off a powerful Anderson first serve.

World number six Anderson earned a second match point and again Thiem responded strongly, saving it with a deft volley.

Anderson fired down an ace to save a second set point and, despite failing to convert a third match point, he would not be denied.

Having to still play Federer, Thiem is now in danger of falling at the group phase for the third year in a row.

The Gustavo Kuerten Group, featuring world number one and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic, Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev and American debutant John Isner begins on Monday.

Lee Westwood
Big finish bags Nedbank Challenge title for emotional Westwood
11 November 2018, 7:00 PM

Lee Westwood bagged five birdies on his back nine to storm to victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club on Sunday, his first title on the European Tour for four years.

Westwood, 45, carded a faultless 64 that included an eagle and six birdies for a tournament total of 15 under par, three shots ahead of overnight leader Sergio Garcia.

The Spaniard, who had led from the first round into Sunday, could manage only a 70 as his two-shot overnight advantage was swallowed up by a magnificent finish from Westwood.

The Englishman secured a 24th European Tour title, the eighth most of all time, and a third at the Nedbank Golf Challenge after previous wins in 2010, when he was ranked the number one golfer in the world, and 2011.

“I’m a bit emotional,” a tearful Westwood told reporters. “You are never sure if you can do it again. And I needed to.

“I’m getting old, I did one for the old men today. You reach 45 and don’t know what to expect. But I’ve always felt comfortable playing this golf course. This one is very special.”

Westwood, who took home a first prize of $1.25 million, had girlfriend Helen Storey carrying his bags during the tournament after giving long-time caddy Billy Foster the week off.

“She’s caddied for me three times this year and I’ve lost in a play-off and won, so maybe I have a decision to make,” he joked.

Key to Westwood’s success on Sunday was accuracy off the tee on to the narrow fairways, but also a red-hot putter, especially on the back nine.

“I was seeing the lines and I’ve working on a few things with my putting, just trying to relax and have confidence in it,” he said.

“To give yourself those birdie chances is key here and I hit a lot of fairways. The seven iron into 17 was one of the best shots I have ever hit, definitely in the top three.”

He started the day three shots behind Garcia, with home favorite Louis Oosthuizen (69) also in contention.

The latter proved Westwood’s biggest challenger through the round until three dropped shots over the last four holes saw him fade from contention.

An eagle on the par-five second hole drew Westwood level with Garcia, who had bogeyed the first, early in the round.

But it was five birdies in seven holes between the 11th and 17th that saw him sprint away from his rivals.

 

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