Henin and Clijsters Advance at Wimbledon

Tennis PlayersWIMBLEDON, England — Belgium’s two most successful tennis exports, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, marched into the third round at Wimbledon on a sunny day when past performances were no prologue to easy victory and headliners often fumbled or stumbled.

Henin broke her opponent’s serve in the second game of their match and shrugged off a lost service game of her own a minute later and appeared ready to quickly push past Kristina Barrois of Germany, winning the first set, 6-3, and taking a 5-2 lead in the second.

Then oiios perked up, racing to three break points with Henin serving. Henin, seeded 17th, aced her opponent to take back one of the points, pulled to deuce, then grew nervous, hitting two double-faults and a forehand over the baseline to lose her serve.

Two games later, serving a second time for the match, Henin started off with a shaky double fault, slapped a forehand wide, popped a low backhand long and another forehand wide to fall back to 5-5.

Finally, Henin counterattacked, breaking Barrois’s serve and winning her own with three powerful serves and a forehand she jammed to a corner, forcing Barrios to hit long.

“I really don’t see myself as one of the favorites,” Henin told reporters. She has won three of the four major championships but not Wimbledon.

“I just see myself as an outsider this year,” she said, “still a year of ups and downs.” She played down speculation that she might challenge the defending champion, Serena Williams of the United States.

Henin is in the lower half of the draw and would face Venus Williams in the semifinal if she gets past several players seeded higher, including 12th-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia and 4th-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Croatia. Continue reading


Portugal, Ivory Coast play to a scoreless draw at World Cup

Ball Football CampPortugal got their World Cup finals off to a stuttering start with a goalless draw against a spirited Ivory Coast on Tuesday, a match that saw the return of Didier Drogba only 11 days after breaking his arm.

Semi-finalists at the 2006 finals, Portugal struggled to make a serious impact and made their job of advancing from a fierce Group G – which includes Brazil and North Korea – no easier in a fluid match that yielded only a handful of goalscoring chances.

The Elephants opted to start without Drogba, who was yet to fully recover following surgery, but he came on as a substitute after 66 minutes to a rapturous reception by the Port Elizabeth crowd.

The draw will boost the confidence of the Ivory Coast, which enjoyed most of the possession and always looked dangerous with smooth passing and plenty of energy going forward.

Gervais Kouassi, better known as Gervinho, came in to fill the void and proved himself a constant menace for the Portuguese defence with penetrating runs into the area that left Ricardo Carvalho and Bruno Alvez scrambling. Continue reading

Day for Online Gambling?

Online GamblingJune 1, 2010 marks the day that the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) finally goes into effect after passing as an attachment to a Port Security Act in October 2006.  The law makes banking institutions responsible for preventing transactions from gamblers to online gambling establishments operating offshore.  The much watered down law does not hold banks responsible for monitoring payouts from online gambling operators to bettors while checks and ACH transactions are, for the most part, exempt.  Because certain forms of online gambling such as horse racing and state lotteries were carved from the legislation, the banking sector has argued that this makes it nearly impossible to distinguish the “good online gambling” transactions from the “bad one’s” (presumably online poker and sports wagers).

With nearly four years having passed between UIGEA becoming law and the actual “enforcement”, many online gambling sites have had plenty of time to prepare for the worst possible outcome, though further “setbacks” can be expected.

As of September 2009, most banks were already complying with the UIGEA regulations anyway, according to Steve Kenneally, the vice president of American Banking Association.

John Pappas, Director of the Poker Players Alliance, believes the June 1 date is being blown out of proportion in some circles.  The world will not end on this day.

“Many people believe that any ill effect of the UIGEA has already been felt over the last four years,” said Pappas. “While I can’t make any guarantees, I do have a sense that this will be more of a blip on the radar screen than a catastrophic event, as some may have predicted.”

Originally slated to go into effect October 1 of last year, the Treasury and Federal Reserve announced a six month reprieve. Continue reading