Subiect: dam, treasuring the ball

LONDON - Eugenie Bouchard will play in her third Grand Slam semifinal of the year Thursday after defeating German Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4 in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. The 13th-seeded Bouchard also made the semfinals at the French Open last month and the Australian Open earlier this year. She will face French Open finalist and third-seed Simona Halep after the Romanian crushed 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-0 on Wednesday. The win is expected to put the 20-year-old Bouchard into the WTAs top-10 for the first time in her career. "Im excited to be in the semis. But, of course, Im never satisfied, so I definitely want to go a step further, or as far as I can," Bouchard said. "Im looking forward to try to play a little bit like I played today. I thought I was pretty solid out there and playing the right way on the grass. So thats going to be a key." Canada could have two players in the semis if Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., defeats Australian wild card entry Nick Kyrgios in his quarter-final. In other mens quarter-final action, defending champion Andy Murray was defeated in straight sets by Bulgarias Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov next faces top seed Novak Djokovic, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals for the fifth consecutive year by coming back to beat 26th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2. Bouchard says shes ready to get beyond the final four. "Im excited to be in the semifinals against (her) but I want to go further for sure," said Bouchard. Bouchard struggled to close out her win over Kerber, whom she beat a month ago in Paris. She finally advanced after 72 minutes on her first match point, which she set up with a down-the-line winner followed a point later by a Kerber backhand error. "It was a tough battle, Ive played her before and I knew what to expect," said Bouchard. "I had to just keep fighting and I pulled it out at the end." Bouchard saved two break points in the final game and ended with three breaks of serve from 13 chances. She had 29 winners and 20 unforced errors. "In the last game, I was just trying to stay in the moment," said Bouchard, who improved her Wimbledon record to 7-1. "I was not thinking ahead. Thats something Ive been working on." "I had a few bad errors in that game but I also hit some aggressive shots, thats just my game," she added. Bouchard has lost her only previous meeting against Halep, on hardcourt at Indian Wells last March. "Shes a good player and Im ready for another tough match," Bouchard said. "Its not every day you can walk out on Centre Court and play the semis of a slam. Thats the most important thing for me, is to really enjoy it. Im going to try, give it my best, leave everything on the court, and well see what happens." Halep, meanwhile, took command of her match by attacking Lisickis weak second serve. The German won only eight of 26 points on her second serve. She also had 20 unforced errors, compared to 11 by Halep. "She had 4-1 and then I came very well back," Halep said. "I played my best today and I was enjoying every moment because it was incredible on Centre Court." Corn Elder Jersey . Millsap will miss Wednesday nights game against the Chicago Bulls. The Hawks say Millsap also will be held out on Thursday at Boston. Devin Funchess Jersey . 1 Pete Sampras. Speaking ahead of an exhibition match against Andre Agassi in London on March 3, Sampras said on a conference call Wednesday that he is impressed by Federers longevity. -- Among the 31 players at the Montreal Canadiens rookie camp, none feels closer to cracking the NHL roster than right winger Aaron Palushaj. Ryan Kalil Jersey . The Goldeyes (10-7) lost 4-1 to the Saltdogs (8-9) Sunday afternoon before 5,834 sizzling fans at Shaw Park. The loss drops Winnipegs record to 3-4 during this past weeks seven-game homestand. Cheap Panthers Jerseys Gear . Each day, provides the latest rumours, reports and speculation from around the NHL beat. Keeping The Captain? Brian Giontas agent Steve Bartlett told La Presse on Tuesday that the Montreal Canadiens want to keep their captain - an unrestricted free agent on July 1 - in the fold, while sources tell the paper that the two sides will start talks this week.Much has been written in the last few days about players changing addresses but in the English top flight we are currently experiencing an unprecedented time with the amount of changes in the dugout. Incredibly, 15 of the current 20 bosses in charge of Premier League teams did not have their current position at the end of the 2011-12 season. To put it a different way, 75 per cent of them have been in their job for fifteen months or less and only 25 per cent of the current crop of managers have been in charge for more than one full season heading into this campaign. Despite high-profile changes coming at many of the big clubs, it is hard to think of a change that has prompted so much talk of a new style than the one made by Stoke City owner Peter Coates this summer. The decision to relieve former manager Tony Pulis of his job was a polarizing one, with many believing the Welshman had overachieved by keeping Stoke in the Premier League for five successive seasons. During his time in the top flight, Pulis was known for bringing a physical, long ball style, one that was far from fashionable in a world where everyone now wants to copy Barcelona. However, it is not a fun sport if all teams play the same so there was nothing wrong with being brave enough to try something different at Stoke, provided it remained successful. Over the last five seasons Stoke never finished below 14th but last season the Potters showed no signs of improvement and in fact posted their worst ever points total (42), goals scored (34) and total wins (9) during their five year run in the Premier League. After a net spend of close to 80 million pounds during that time (more than the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham) it was apparent that Coates felt his team wasnt getting better when they should have been. Those fully behind Pulis and his style didnt change their tune when he was replaced with what seemed an underwhelming choice in Mark Hughes, who was sacked last November after a shambolic time as Queens Park Rangers manager. Hughes, though, jumped at the chance to manage in the Premier League again and knew from the moment he took charge the mandate in terms of his style, announcing: "It will take time, on occasions we will make mistakes but if we want to play in a certain way then thats what we have to do." It is important to note that Hughes, despite having once played at Barcelona, is no Pep Guardiola when it comes to possession-based tactics. In fact, when in charge at Blackburn he guided Rovers to a 0-0 draw at Arsenal in an FA Cup match and afterwards spoke about what Cesc Fabregas said to him as he left the field. "When we shook hands at the end, the young man asked me a question which I thought was disrespectful. He asked me if I had played for Barcelona and when I said yes, he shook his head as if in disbelief. Then he said, Well, that wasnt Barcelona football." No one will expect Hughes to bring that style of football to the Britannia but with strong, physical, players, lacking overall technical quality, it could be easy for him to fall closer to the ways Pulis adopted, but its clear he and the Stoke board feel very strongly things need to change. Early signs from the opening three weeks of the season suggest they already have. A narrow opening day loss at Liverpool showed a different Stoke, cheered on by the away supporters signing "Were Stoke City, were passing the ball." Overall the team attempted 120 more passes than the game at Anfield last season, while their pass completion (81 per cent) was not only better than the 67 per cent in 2012-13, but better than all 19 away matches last season, by some distance. (photo: - Click For Larger Image) A poor first half home display against Crystal Palace followed but in the second half Stoke came from behind to win 2-1. Afterwards, Hughes admitted the team was in transition: "We need to play better and we will. Wee have a group of players who are coming to terms with how we can play, and on other days we will be more fluid.dddddddddddd" One of those other days was Saturday at West Ham. The game was decided by a piece of individual brilliance by Jermaine Pennant from a direct free kick, but despite winning a game via a set-piece this was nothing like a team seen under Pulis. (photo: - Click For Larger Image) Once again more passes were attempted and completed (78 per cent to 69 per cent) to the corresponding fixture last season but for those watching the game it was more than apparent , without checking the stats, just how comfortable Stoke were when in possession. Post match Hughes reflected: "Ive got a group of really solid professionals who understand what it takes to win Premier League games and, maybe in the past, they havent been given enough credit for the ability that they have. Maybe I am allowing them an opportunity to show people what good players they actually are." One of those players is central midfielder Steven NZonzi. Bought to the Premier League by current West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, while at Blackburn, the Frenchman tormented his old boss with an outstanding performance at Upton Park. (photo: - Click For Larger Image) The 24-year-old flourished in a midfield three alongside Marc Wilson and Charlie Adam, treasuring the ball in deep areas by finding outlets close-by (rather than lumping it forward) and occasionally surging forward past West Hams outnumbered midfield duo of Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame. It was close to being a complete performance from NZonzi, who was equally impressive without the ball than he was with it. (photo: - Click For Larger Image) The system introduced by Hughes is one that gives players like NZonzi the freedom of the park, putting trust in them to go forward and make a difference in the final third while still being able to be responsible towards their defensive duties. The results so far have been remarkable; with the midfielder contributing much more to Stokes attacking play than he did last season. (photo: - Click For Larger Image) (photo: - Click For Larger Image) Despite many believing Stokes approach under Pulis was not broken and didnt need to be fixed, in the last two seasons the Potters scored a putrid 28 goals from open play. Fourteen teams scored more than that just last season. It is clear Stoke need to become more comfortable with the ball while not compromising the defensive unit that has kept them in this league and, so far, Hughes seems to have found a balance. He certainly has found happy players receptive to his ways. Said Pennant: "Were getting the ball down and showing what we can do, which is a lot different to last season and the years before that. Weve got the players to do it, and this was probably one of our best away performances since Ive been here." Striker Kenwyne Jones added: ""Before we wouldnt have come here and played like that, actually dominating the home team and trying to win the game. Wed have played for percentages and hoped that something would come off. "It is a different approach to take the game to West Ham. Weve had the players to do that for quite a while, but you know its a different philosophy now and things are going well." NZonzi, whose transfer request earlier this summer was rejected by the club, also looks like a man transformed under Hughes. "Until you work with players on a daily basis you can underestimate their talent," Hughes said of his midfielder. "I was one who maybe didnt put Steven into the bracket of a top Premier League player. He still has faults that he has to work on, he understands that, but the way we play will bring the best out of him." Looks like the players are not the only ones discovering new things at Stoke. 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Re: dam, treasuring the ball

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