Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

APOEL Nicosia and Jovanovic could prompt further Cinderella stories

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The Champions League is heading for another spectacular climax after the quarter-final clashes produced expected winners in holders Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Bayern Munich, who must be relishing the prospect of taking centre stage in the final in their own stadium on May 19.

But rather than the usual suspects who predictably reach the latter stages of the money-spinning competition every season, it was the highly unheralded outfit of APOEL Nicosia that lit up the scene this time.

The Cypriots defied the odds to reach even the group stage of the competition and then stunned one rival after another, punching way above their weight until they finally succumbed to Real 8-2 on aggregate.

They bowed out with their heads high and their Serbian coach Ivan Jovanovic, who had emerged from complete obscurity very much like the Champions League surprise package personified by his team, was graceful after the incredible ride ended.

Sweden hope Ibrahimovic can sparkle now Milan are out

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Phil O’Connor

There was one soccer coach just as happy as Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola on Tuesday when his side knocked AC Milan out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

That man is Sweden coach Erik Hamren.

With Euro 2012 approaching fast, Hamren will be quietly pleased that top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be involved in the final in Munich on May 19 and can instead avoid injury and stay fresh.

Miami courts too slow – Rusedski

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By Greg Rusedski

All the talk at the Miami Masters Series was again about the top four and if Roger Federer would be able to continue his amazing run. Miami is a tough event to win immediately after Indian Wells due to its slower conditions, heavy humidity and at times; strong winds.

Federer was trying to win Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back for the third time in his career. Federer has been on an amazing run since losing in the semi-finals of the US Open. He has won 6 of his last 8 events and has amassed the most points of any player since mid-September of last year. Unfortunately for Roger, he lost to Andy Roddick in the third round when he ran out of gas with Roddick playing well. This will hurt Roger because he owns Roddick and had beaten him in 24 out of 26 matches up until this match.

Aguero adds name to football’s stupid injuries list

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We don’t actually know what Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has done after manager Roberto Mancini refused to go into details about what his “stupid” injury was. All he did say was that the injury was not the Argentine’s fault.

Here is a list of 10 injury classics.

Santiago Canizares – the Spain goalkeeper missed the 2002 World Cup after shattering an aftershave bottle and a piece cut his foot

Force India’s Hulkenberg drives me crazy

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By Amlan Chakraborty

“So help me God”.

Four innocuous words but it nearly unnerved me enough to back out of the whole business. I somehow scribbled my name in the indemnity form below those four words and the face of my three-month son instantly flashed before my eyes.

By the time my head was squeezed into what looked more like an astronaut’s headgear than a helmet, I was a bundle of nerves, kicking myself for agreeing to do something as silly as this.

from India Insight:

Sari-clad cheerleaders add Indian touch to IPL franchise

The upcoming session of the Indian Premier League (IPL), India’s glamour-packed cricket tournament, will see a sartorial anomaly come to life -- cheerleaders wrapped in saris.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s IPL team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, has decided to cover their cheerleaders in one of the most traditional Indian outfits -- a marked departure from their 2008 wardrobe when a lot of skin, from midriff to thighs, was on display.

from Photographers' Blog:

When baseballs attack

By Darryl Webb

"I was really glad I saw it coming."

I know that statement above sounds a little confusing so allow me to explain.

I don't know how many professional sporting events I've covered in the last 20 years. Let's just say it's been a lot and in all that time I've never been hurt. There have been a couple of close calls here and there, but nothing serious until earlier this week.

Had I not seen this sphere coming toward me at a blistering speed, the end result could have been a lot worse. I'm not saying it would have been as bad as Sports Illustrated's photographer John Iacono, who was hit by an overthrown ball in 1999, shattering his jaw which resulted in two titanium plates, some wire mess and something like 20 screws. But it definitely would have been worse than a headache, a bump on the head and two hours spent at Urgent Care.

Woods wins at last but is Tiger “back” this time round?

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“That was a huge win for Tiger Woods today. Our game just got a whole lot more interesting,” scribed world number 11 Dustin Johnson on Twitter on Sunday after his fellow American dominated the field at Bay Hill to clinch the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

This theme is already being discussed just hours after former world number one Woods won his first PGA Tour event since September 2009 after a much publicised fall from grace towards the end of that year and at the beginning of 2010.

Federer makes it 19

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By Greg Rusedski

The Indian Wells masters series is always a difficult event for the players. They have to get used to playing in the desert air as the ball travels a little quicker and further than you expect. Thus they have to move quicker, tighten their racquet strings, or put more top spin on the ball to bring it into court. That is why the top players like to arrive as early as possible.

Roger Federer came into the event in great form having won Rotterdam and Dubai. Rafael Nadal on the other hand hadn’t played a match in 40 days and it would be interesting to see if he was rusty. Novak Djokovic had been playing well all year, even though he lost in the semi-finals in Dubai to Andy Murray. Djokovic looks very confident, he is not as concerned about winning every event as he was last year. He is comfortable being world number 1 and looks more focused on winning majors. This year expect him to balance out his schedule more and play a little less tennis.

Ireland seek scrum coach with ‘complete and thorough understanding of rugby’

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By Padraic Halpin

Ireland’s rugby board advertised for the newly established role of high performance scrum coach on Tuesday, just days after the national team’s scrummaging skills were shambolically exposed in a 30-9 Six Nations defeat by England.

The job, posted on the Leinster and Munster provincial websites, called on applicants with “a complete and thorough understanding of rugby union” to plan, research and constantly evaluate current scrummaging practice.

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