8 Jun 2019

Today's sports news: What you need to know

7:57 pm on 8 June 2019

Latest - Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni has had his contract extended as their World Cup opener looms in France.

Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni

Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019 www.photosport.nz

Ahead of the team's first match of the tournament against The Netherlands on Wednesday morning (NZ time), New Zealand Football has announced Sermanni will remain in charge until the completion of next year's Tokyo Olympics.

The vastly-experienced Scotsman had initially signed on until the end of the World Cup and NZF chief executive Andrew Pragnell said Sermanni had been a natural cultural fit for the Ferns.

Under Sermanni, the Football Ferns won the 2018 Oceania Nations Cup in New Caledonia to secure qualification for the World Cup and Tokyo Olympics.

This year, the team has recorded wins over England, Norway, Mexico and Argentina.

Nadal wins battle of legends

Rafael Nadal will play his 12th French Open final after a stunning straight sets win over long time rival Roger Federer.

Rafael Nadal will lose the number one world ranking to Roger Federer.

Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal. Photo: Photosport

The Spaniard had never lost to Swiss star in their five previous French Open meetings, but hadn't beaten the Swiss in their last five matches overall, a run stretching back five years.

Something had to give, and on Saturday (NZ time) it was Nadal's swinging, looping, whip-crack style which prevailed over Federer's finesse and near-perfect timing in a 6-3 6-4 6-2 triumph.

It was Nadal's most one-sided grand slam triumph over Federer since beating him 6-1 6-3 6-0 at the same event in 2008.

"It's incredible, congratulations to Roger," Nadal said on court at the end.

"It's incredible to play at that level aged 37.

"He's probably the best player in history, it's a great pleasure to play with him. Tough conditions with a lot of wind, I'm very happy to be back in the final at Roland Garros which is the most important tournament in my career."

Nadal's triumph gives him a shot of moving closer to Federer's men's record of 20 Grand Slam titles. The Spaniard sits on 17.

Play was abandoned in the other semifinal between top-ranked Novak Djokovic and fourth seed Dominic Thiem.

Djokovic asked to speak to supervisor Andreas Egli during the first set when he complained that it was too windy to play but his claims the conditions were unplayable fell on deaf ears.

After Thiem finished off the opening set, Djokovic then hit back to level after a brief rain delay but had just gone a break down in the third to trail 6-2 3-6 3-1 when the rain returned.

- Reuters

Czech tennis teen makes history

Unseeded Czech Marketa Vondrousova became the first teenager to reach a Grand Slam tennis final for 10 years as she outsmarted Johanna Konta 7-5 7-6(2) in the semifinals of the French Open.

The 19-year-old left-hander lost the first 10 points of the match on a rainy Court Simonne Mathieu, but had more guile than her bigger-hitting opponent in testing conditions.

She will take on Australia's Ashleigh Barty in the final on Sunday (NZ time), bidding to become the first Czech woman to win the French Open since Hana Mandlikova, also 19, won in 1981.

Czech tennis player Marketa Vondrousova.

Czech tennis player Marketa Vondrousova. Photo: Photosport/Icon Sportswire

Eighth seed Barty prevented an all-teenager final by beating 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova in three sets.

Caroline Wozniacki was the last teenager to reach a Grand Slam final when she lost to Kim Clijsters at the 2009 US Open, while Ana Ivanovic was the last to reach the Roland Garros final losing to Justine Henin in 2007.

- Reuters

Dixon second-fastest in Texas

New Zealand driver Scott Dixon will defend his Texas IndyCar title from the front row of the grid after qualifying second-fastest behind Japan's Takuma Sato.

New Zealand driver Scott Dixon will defend his Texas IndyCar title from the front row of the grid after qualifying second-fastest behind Japan's Takuma Sato.

Dixon, the reigning series champion, will start alongside Sato on the front row after posting the second fastest time in qualifying.

The five-times IndyCar champion posted a two-lap average of 220.162 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, falling short of winning the pole by less than 0.02sec over the three-mile run.

"Don't feel like we did too much wrong in that qual run," he said afterwards.

"Always a few things you can clean up, (but) a great starting position for us."

"Obviously, the conditions are a bit different than what we'll see in the race, but I'm optimistic we have a good car and we'll be ready to fight tomorrow."

Silver Fern stars in Lightning win

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua's Sunshine Coast Lightning have posted a hard-earned 59-53 Super Netball win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Darwin to edge into second place in the Australian domestic competition.

Lightning skipper and evergreen New Zealand midcourter Laura Langman was named player of the match.

She said the win had been a tough one, as the team worked hard to shake off last week's 10-goal loss to the Vixens.

"It was a real grind... we needed to show we had patience and lay the foundations first as we were disappointed with the product we put out there last week."

Sunshine Coast took a 29-25 lead into halftime, but Thunderbirds and New Zealand goal attack Maria Folau calmly slotted 11 from 11 to give her team a 43-42 lead heading into the final quarter.

The Lightning then turned to shooter Peace Proscovia, opening up a three-goal lead before surging ahead as the clock wound down.

Proscovia finished with 15 goals from 16 attempts in her final quarter stint while Folau, who was kept to six goals, finished with 27 goals from 31 attempts

CWC wash out in Bristol

Pakistan's Cricket World Cup match against Sri Lanka was called off without a ball being bowled after persistent rain in Bristol.

Umpires conducted an inspection at 3.15 pm local time before deciding that no play would be possible in the damp conditions.

Both teams take a point from the wash-out, and have three from their opening three matches.

Sri Lanka next face Bangladesh at the same venue, while Pakistan take on Australia at Taunton a day later.

Sarfaraz Ahmed-led Pakistan lost their opening game to West Indies but recovered with a stunning victory over top-ranked England.

Sri Lanka responded to their 10-wicket defeat by New Zealand in the opener with a narrow win over Afghanistan.

- Reuters

Kiwis captain let go by Panthers

Penrith have released winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak from the remainder of his contract, freeing the New Zealand captain up to join a rival NRL club.

The 23-year-old was given permission to negotiate with other clubs last month and has been linked with a move to Parramatta and Wests Tigers.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Tigers are keen on Watene-Zelezniak but it's understood the joint venture outfit is struggling to secure a swap deal with the Panthers.

The Tigers are understood to be shopping around to try to offload Russell Packer, Elijah Taylor and Ben Matulino, expensive buys the Panthers are not particularly interested in.

Watene-Zelezniak made his NRL debut in 2014 and made 106 appearances for Penrith, scoring 41 tries.


Knights, Raiders prevail in NRL

Newcastle captain Mitchell Pearce accused South Sydney skipper Sam Burgess of a "dog shot" before the red-hot Knights put the depleted Rabbitohs to the sword in an explosive NRL showdown at ANZ Stadium.

Four players were sin-binned after Friday night's match erupted a minute before halftime.

But it was Pearce who had the last laugh after the former NSW State of Origin half piloted the Knights to six straight wins in 2019.

Newcastle Knight star Kalyn Ponga.

Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

It's the first time the Knights have won six straight since the 2005 season with Immortal halfback Andrew Johns at the helm.

Newcastle's stirring 20-12 triumph elevated the Knights into outright fourth spot and consigned Wayne Bennett's second-placed but injury-hit Rabbitohs to successive defeats for the first time this season.

Meanwhile Canberra have taken their English invasion to a new level after putting on a remarkable soccer display in a 28-0 shutout of the Wests Tigers.

The Raiders made a mockery of the wet conditions at Bankwest Stadium by setting up three first half tries off the boot, including two impressive flick-ons.

The 12,585 crowd was treated to an early highlight on Friday when Elliott Whitehead toed a Jarrod Croker pass for Bailey Simonsson to draw first blood.

But the Englishman was outdone by winger Nick Cotric, who brought out his Serbian blood with his first-touch through-ball for Jordan Rapana to score. The third was far more traditional, yet still smothered in British tinge.

Star forward John Bateman grubbered ahead for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who gathered and passed back to the English international for an 18-0 halftime lead.

Whitehead also played a hand in Croker's second-half try, while Aidan Sezer completed the rout with an 80-metre intercept try.


All Stars netball coaches named

Two of New Zealand's leading franchise coaches, Reinga Bloxham and Yvette McCausland-Durie, have been named to guide an All Stars team during this month's Cadbury Netball Series.

The duo worked alongside Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua last year and has been rewarded for another strong season guiding their teams into the Finals Series for a third season in the ANZ Premiership.

Southern Steel coach Reinga Bloxham working with Noeline Taurua

Southern Steel coach Reinga Bloxham working with Noeline Taurua Photo: Photosport Ltd 2016 www.photosport.nz

Bloxham, who was part of Taurua's coaching team during last year's Constellation Cup, will act as head coach for the All Stars while McCausland-Durie, who guided the New Zealand A team, will be the assistant coach.

They will be mentored by former New Zealand defender and Silver Ferns coach Yvonne Willering, who has an extensive coaching resume and has worked closely with the national team this year.

The All Stars will play in the Cadbury Netball Series against the Silver Ferns, Fiji Pearls and a New Zealand Men's Invitational side in Auckland from June 26-29.

Hamilton out front early in Canada

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton clocked the best time in a dusty first practice session for the Canada Grand Prix as Mercedes broke in an upgraded engine.

It was business as usual for Mercedes as Britain's Hamilton lapped the island circuit named after Ferrari great Gilles Villeneuve with a fastest time of one minute 12.767 seconds, 0.147 ahead of Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Mercedes have dominated on every circuit this season, with Hamilton and Bottas winning all six races, crossing one-two in five of them.

Five times world champion Hamilton sits 17 points clear of Bottas at the top of the standings and served notice that he will again be a threat as he bids to equal Michael Schumacher's seven Canadian Grand Prix victories between 1994 and 2004.

Charles Leclerc was third quickest for Ferrari, who have yet to get in gear this season but are hoping to provide a bigger threat to Mercedes on a power circuit that plays to their strengths.

- Reuters