Getty Images

Andy Murray receives knighthood from Queen Elizabeth

1 Comment

LONDON — Andy Murray received a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s Honors list on Friday, recognition from the monarch for reaching the pinnacle of tennis by winning his second Wimbledon and Olympic titles on his way to topping the rankings.

The 29-year-old Murray was previously named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, in 2012 after becoming Olympic champion for the first time.

Joining Murray in being knighted in British sports is Mo Farah, who retained his 5,000- and 10,000-meter titles at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August, becoming the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals.

“I’m so happy to be awarded this incredible honor from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight,” Farah said Friday. “Looking back at the boy who arrived here from Somalia, not speaking any English, I could never have imagined where I would be today – it’s a dream come true.

“I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to race for my country and win gold medals for the British people, who have been my biggest supporters throughout my career.”

Lee Pearson, who won his 11th Paralympic gold in equestrian in Rio, was also knighted. He already held the MBE, OBE and CBE for services to equestrianism and to disabled sport.

Damehoods went to heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill and rower Katherine Grainger, who both retired from competitive action following the Rio Olympics.

Ennis-Hill added silver in Rio to her gold at London, as did Grainger, who came out of retirement to compete in the double sculls alongside Vicky Thornley.

Knights are addressed as “Sir” or “Dame.” Recipients of the other honors have no title, but can put the letters after their names. The ranks for the Orders of the British Empire are Commander, Officer and Member, in descending order.

Away from the Olympics, Wales manager Chris Coleman was awarded an OBE for steering his national football team into its first semifinal at the European Championship.

Northern Ireland was eliminated by Wales at Euro 2016 in the round of 16 but its manager, Michael O’Neill, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE.

Britain’s honors are bestowed by the monarch, but recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.

Raonic withdraws from Miami Open with hamstring injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Milos Raonic has pulled out of the Miami Open after aggravating a right hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly a month.

The No. 3-seeded Raonic withdrew before Sunday’s match against American qualifier Jared Donaldson, who advanced to the fourth round.

Raonic said his injury became progressively worse after his opening match, his first since Feb. 25. He expects to be sidelined at least two weeks and perhaps longer.

The Canadian said he hasn’t made it through an entire tournament healthy since Wimbledon last July.

Nadal advances to start bid for first Key Biscayne

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Rafael Nadal’s first fist pump Friday followed his second point in the Miami Open, when he kissed a forehand off the sideline to win a long rally.

He accompanied the celebratory gesture with a skip in his step and then hit the accelerator, holding every service game to beat Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.

Thus began Nadal’s latest bid to win Key Biscayne.

“A lot of big motivation,” he said.

He’s playing the tournament for the 13th time and has never won it, although he was the runner-up in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014. At 0 for 12, it’s Nadal’s longest drought at any event, and perhaps the most glaring gap in the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s resume.

Does it bug him? He won’t admit to any frustration, but lets slip that he still remembers the exact score when he was two points from the title in the third set versus Novak Djokovic.

That was six years ago.

“Against Novak – 6-5, 15-30,” Nadal said. “It didn’t happen.”

The Spaniard has always enjoyed the atmosphere in Miami, where Latin fans give him enthusiastic support, and he likes the tournament’s hard courts. He’s simply overdue.

“I’m trying my best every year,” Nadal told the stadium crowd after dispatching Sela. “I’ve been very close four times. I will try to give myself another chance.”

Nadal is 15-4 this year and pleased with his play. He lost to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, and again in the fourth round at Indian Wells last week.

Against Sela, Nadal served well, erased the only two break points he faced and overcame the occasional errant groundstroke on a windy afternoon.

“It was very difficult to find the right feelings,” Nadal said. “These kind of days, what you have to do is try to win. That’s what I did, and I’m happy with that.”

Making Nadal’s title bid easier will be the absence of six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, both out with elbow injuries.

But No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic is back. He won in his first match since Feb. 25, beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5. Raonic had been sidelined by a right leg injury.

“I’ve prepared the best I can for this tournament,” Raonic said. “I’m not necessarily in the best position right now, but fortunately it’s a long tournament. Doesn’t mean things can’t change and I can’t get better throughout this event.”

No. 2 Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3. No. 7 Marin Cilic lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

In women’s play, Elena Vesnina made a quick exit only five days after winning the biggest title of her career. Seeded 13th, Vesnina lost her opening match to wild card Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Vesnina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Indian Wells final.

In a match that took two days because of rain, No. 6 Garbine Muguruza rallied past Christina McHale 0-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4. No. 3 Simona Halep beat Naomi Osaka 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. American qualifier Taylor Townsend eliminated No. 25 Robert Vinci 6-3, 6-2.