Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Raikkonen can put victory hopes on ice

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By Abhishek Takle

Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Formula One after a two-year hiatus has enthused media, fans and rivals alike. But the question remains — does the Iceman’s comeback mean a cooling of double world champion Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of being red-hot favourite again next year?

Almost certainly not. Raikkonen’s return is certainly a good thing for Formula One. For the first time ever, the sport will see six world champions line up on the starting grid.

Known for his often monosyllabic approach to the media and love of a good party away from the racetrack, the return of the steely-eyed Finn will add another welcome storyline.

But don’t expect him to win a second world title.

For one, Raikkonen makes his return with what will be called the Lotus team next year. While a solid midfield team of late in their Renault guise, they haven’t won a race since 2008 when Fernando Alonso was driving for them.

Watch out for Federer in 2012

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By Greg Rusedski

There was a lot going on in the press at The ATP World Tour Finals before the event started. The press asked Roger Federer who was the favorite for the event. The press had implied that Andy Murray was the favorite because of the three tournaments he had won in Asia. Federer answered this question by saying that neither he nor Novak Djokovic had played in Asia so how could he be the favorite? Federer came into this event having won the last two tournaments of the year, this event on five different occasions and also as the defending champion. This set up the tournament in a great way because the only way to settle this discussion would be on the court.

The two groups were Group A; Djokovic, Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych and Group B; Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish. Group B was the more interesting and stronger group.

NFL Lineman Week 12 picks

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Now that Thanksgiving is over, after the turkey we get to the meat of Week 12.

Not bad last week as the Lineman continued to undo some of the damage done by fill in Wichita  Lineman in Week 10.

So keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, no turkeys among this week’s picks.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Why Chelsea should keep Andre Villas-Boas

Three Premier League defeats in four games and Champions League last 16 qualification compromised. The last few weeks have been very tough for Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas.

Previous managers Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti were dismissed seemingly for less by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.

from Photographers' Blog:

Inside an NFL Locker Room

By Jason Reed, Larry Downing and Molly Riley

Hey football fans… imagine walking past the solid steel doors guarding the locker room outside one of the National Football League’s most treasured teams and standing inside watching 60 professional athletes preparing to take the spotlight in front of 70,000 expecting Baltimore fans.

Talk about fantasy football coming true; that ultimate “back stage pass” was given to Reuters’ photographers Jason Reed, Larry Downing and Molly Riley from the Baltimore Ravens as an early Christmas present last December, extending them complete photographic access of their cheerleaders during the production of an in-depth multimedia project by Reuters entitled, “Ravens Rule the Skies.”

Lineman Week 11 NFL picks

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The Wichita Lineman had a bit of a rough outing last week but we have to remember it is always hard to step in mid-season and be at the top of your game.

But the Lineman is back for Week 11 so let us see if we can get this thing turned around.

from Photographers' Blog:

NFL touchdown in London

By Suzanne Plunkett

British sports fans are a serious bunch. When it comes to football (they never call it soccer), many would rather lose their home than miss their team score a winning goal. Club allegiance is often demonstrated with tribal passion - influencing tattoos, clothing and even choice of marital partners.

When American football makes a rare appearance in London, it's somewhat of a surprise to see the seriousness of the sport replaced with a more frivolous obsession: cheerleaders.

Federer at his sublime best in Paris

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By Greg Rusedski

The Paris Masters was going to determine who was going to be the last players to qualify for the ATP world finals in London. The last few places were up for grabs and all the players that were in pole position ended up qualifying. The top eight for the field ended up being Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish.

The other story of the week concerned Djokovic and whether he would play after shoulder problems in Basel. If he didn’t play he would have missed his commitments for the master series events and it would have cost him over 1 million pounds in bonus pool money. He did play!

Wanderers test will not match Newlands. But for better or worse?

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Last week’s crazy Cape Town test match between South Africa and Australia, where 23 wickets fell in a day and the visitors narrowly avoided the lowest ever test score, will go down in cricket’s esteemed annals.

They meet again at the Wanderers from Thursday. But would test cricket fans want to see a repeat?

NFL picks, week 10. Wichita Lineman stands in

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Week Nine had some great finishes with the Giants topping the Patriots, and Ravens overtaking the Steelers in the final seconds of road upsets. A couple of favorites let the Lineman down, as the Dallas Cowboys failed to cover against the underwhelming Seattle Seahawks and 7.5-point favorites Oakland Raiders lost by 14 points to Tim Tebow’s Denver Broncos. Go figure. Otherwise a splendid week of prognostication. This week, cousin Wichita Lineman fills in, “searching in the sun for another overload” or at least enough good picks to match last year’s 4-2 fill-in mark.

As the teams pick up steam for the second half of the season, let’s not waste time on the riff-raff and take our stabs at some of the most meaningful tilts in Week 10.

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