Stoner wins at Mugello to take MotoGP champ lead

[Italy - May 31] Casey Stoner held off the fast-finishing Jorge Lorenzo to win the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday and bring to an end Valentino Rossi's seven-year reign.

The Australian also took over the lead in the world championship standings with his second win of the season having also triumphed in Qatar in the opening race of the season.

He now leads Lorenzo, who started on pole here, by four points in the championship standings with Rossi third, a further five points back.

In a dramatic race that began in wet conditions, Stoner seized the advantage when switching bikes after 10 laps for a change of tyres.

He was the fastest man on the track by some margin in those first few laps after the switch and although Yamaha pair Lorenzo and Rossi were quickest at the end, they had both lost too much time and too many places to hit back.

Stoner completed the 23 laps in 45min 41.894sec to win by just over a second to Spaniard Lorenzo.

Italian MotoGP Result
1. Casey Stoner (AUS-Ducati) 45:41.894
2. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP-Yamaha) +1.001
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA-Yamaha) +2.076
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA-Honda) +2.129
5. Loris Capirossi (ITA-Suzuki) +3.274

Overall Standings
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) 90
2. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP) 86
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) 81
4. Dani Pedrosa (ESP) 57
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) 56
6. Marco Melandri (ITA) 48
7. Colin Edwards (USA) 45
8. Loris Capirossi (ITA) 38
9. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) 37
10. Randy de Puniet (FRA) 34

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King Nadal's Paris crown finally slips

PARIS (Reuters) - A seismic shock rippled through Roland Garros at 17.54 pm on Sunday when the unthinkable finally happened -- claycourt king Rafael Nadal's aura of invincibility was pierced, punctured and finally ripped apart.

Robin Soderling was barely known outside tennis circles but the disarming Swede played the match of his life to humble arguably the greatest ever claycourter 6-2 6-7 6-4 7-6 in the fourth round of the French Open after 3-1/2 hours of high drama.

Soderling left the world number one and a capacity crowd on Philippe Chatrier Court flabbergasted as he handed the Spaniard his first defeat at Roland Garros and left his dreams of a record fifth consecutive title in tatters.

A disbelieving crowd watched in fascination as the 22-year-old was finally brought to his knees when his attempt at an angled volley looped wide.

As Soderling sealed the champion's fate, the 23rd seed stretched his arms wide open to lap up the applause from the hollering fans before hurling his racket high into the stands.

On the other side of the net, a forlorn Nadal was left to digest his first defeat in 32 matches at the claycourt major.

"This is not a tragedy, losing here in Paris. It had to happen one day," said Nadal, who had not lost a set here since the 2007 final against Roger Federer.

"That's the end of the road, and I have to accept it. I have to accept my defeat as I accepted my victories: with calm."

Soderling added: "This is for sure the biggest moment so far of my career. I couldn't even dream of this before the match, so I will remember this match for the rest of my life."

The result was the biggest upset in the sport since a then little-known Federer snapped Pete Sampras's 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon in the fourth round in 2001.

On a bad day for champions, women's holder Ana Ivanovic also bade an early farewell but her exit almost went unnoticed as Paris buzzed with the news of Nadal's demise.

The eighth-seeded Serb surrendered her French Open crown with a whimper when she was outclassed 6-2 6-3 by Belarussian Victoria Azarenka. The 19-year-old set up a quarter-final date with champion-in-waiting Dinara Safina.

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Noemi Letizia's claims she would not have had a sexual relationship with Silvio Berlusconi

The ex-boyfriend of an 18-year-old woman linked to Silvio Berlusconi says she could never have had a relationship with the Italian Prime Minister because of her 'values'.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera yesterday ran what it said was a letter from the ex-boyfriend, Gino Flaminio, in which he said there never could have been a sexual relationship between Berlusconi and Noemi Letizia "knowing Noemi and her values."

Last week, the left-leaning daily La Repubblica quoted Flaminio as saying Berlusconi had invited Letizia and several other young women to his Sardinian villa for a week over New Year's.

He described what he said were phone calls between Berlusconi and Letizia that he listened in on, saying the premier asked her in one call about her schooling, her interests and what her parents do.

The interview fueled speculation about a possible relationship between Letizia and the premier, particularly after Berlusconi's wife cited the premier's presence at Letizia's 18th birthday party in announcing a few weeks ago she was divorcing the 72-year-old.

The conservative premier has denied any scandalous relationship and said he knows Letizia's father through decades-old Socialist Party circles.

He has said he attended the birthday party because he happened to be in Naples that day.

Letizia's father announced he would sue Repubblica and Flaminio for defamation, and Berlusconi's aides have accused the center-left opposition of grabbing onto gossip to try to discredit him and his party before European Parliament elections this weekend.

Flaminio didn't say he was misquoted by Repubblica in his letter to the rival
publication Corriere, only that he felt used by people who wanted to hurt Berlusconi.

"I'm sorry for what happened, which I never could have imagined," Flaminio wrote, according to Corriere. "I publicly ask for forgiveness from Noemi and everyone, for the clamor that ensued from our love story, and I hope for a world of good for everyone."

"Isn't it possible that the (premier) could have a private life?" Flaminio wrote. "What's wrong with being friends with a normal family?"

On Saturday, Rome prosecutors seized hundreds of photos of the New Year's party in question after Berlusconi moved to block their publication.

They also placed the Sardinian photographer who took them under investigation for alleged violation of privacy laws and fraud, stemming from his efforts to sell the photos to magazines, news reports said Sunday.

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Dwight Howard leads Orlando's magicians into NBA finals

ORLANDO, Florida (May 31) - The Orlando Magic crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-90 on Saturday to claim the Eastern Conference championship and set up an NBA Finals showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Dwight Howard, who likes to be called Superman, played the role to perfection, scoring a playoff-career best 40 points and grabbing 14 rebounds as the Magic won the best-of-seven Eastern series in six games.

"He was incredible," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters. "I don't know what else he could have done. He was fantastic."

League MVP LeBron James had 25 points for Cleveland, who posted the NBA's best regular-season record but could not overcome match-up problems with the outside-shooting Magic.

"It seemed like they shot 100 percent from three(-point range) for the whole series; it was tough to guard," Cleveland's Mo Williams added.

"Going into the playoffs, we were confident we were going to the NBA Finals, we were confident we were going to win it. Obviously it hurts inside because you know you had the team to get it done."

James, who had seven rebounds and seven assists, did not talk to reporters after the game, heading instead straight to the team bus, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported.

The NBA Finals begin in Los Angeles on Thursday, where the Western Conference champions will make a record 30th Finals appearance. They lost to the Boston Celtics in six games in 2008.

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Manohara home safely after dramatic escape

Manohara Odelia Pinot, an Indonesian model who was reported to have been kept and abused by her Malaysian royal husband, joyfully returned to Indonesia on Sunday, after a dramatic escape from a hotel in Singapore.

Speaking to a packed press conference in Jakarta, the American-descent Indonesian model, who speaks fluent English and French, recounted her movie-like escape: she had to stay long in a bathroom to buy time, refused to be injected and repeatedly pressing the emergency button in the elevator before the Singaporean police came to help her.

“They (Singaporean police) brought me to a room. Mother came to me not long after it. I embraced her,” she said as quoted by

Daisy Fajarini told El-shinta radio she flew to Singapore after learning that her daughter was in the country.

The Foreign Ministry said the American embassy was involved in the process of freeing Manohara. “The ministry coordinated with the United States embassy because Manohara’s biological father is a US national which makes her a US national as well,” the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah told The Jakarta Post.

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Bordeaux clinch first French title in 10 years

Bordeaux has won the French league title for the first time since 1999.

Laurent Blanc's team beat Caen 1-0 Saturday to finish with 80 points, putting it three ahead of Marseille.

Marseille beat Rennes 4-0 in Saturday's final round of games.

Caen and Nantes were relegated along with Le Havre.

It is Bordeaux's sixth league title, and the last, in 1999, was also secured on the final day. The other championships were in 1950, '84, '85, and '87.

Bordeaux scored the only goal in the 49th minute when Yoann Gourcuff's free kick found Benoit Tremoulinas sprinting down the left, and his cross was headed in by Yoan Gouffran, against his former team.

Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc, a 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner with France, said: “Tonight, it is a great satisfaction for the lads. We did what we had to do to get there, with these 11 wins in a row.”

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Luís Figo calls it a day

(Milan - May 30) -- Former World Player of the Year Luis Figo has announced that he will retire from football at the end of this season.
The 36-year-old is hoping to go out on a high note after Inter Milan's match match of the Italian season at home to Atalanta on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho's side have already wrapped up the Serie A title -- the fourth that former Portugal captain Figo has won with the club since joining from Real Madrid in 2005.

"Tomorrow, May 31, 2009 will be my last Sunday as a footballer," Figo said in a statement on Inter's official Web site.

"It pleases me that my last Sunday as a footballer will be a Sunday of festival for the fourth consecutive Serie A title for me and all of us at Inter."

Figo had suggested that he would extend his career in China, Japan or the U.S. but has instead decided to call it a day.

He won the European Footballer of the Year in 2000 and the following year he was named FIFA World Player of the Year after his controversial move from Barcelona to Madrid.

Figo started his career with Sporting Lisbon in 1995, but soon moved to Spain where he won two league titles and the European Cup Winners' Cup with Barca.

He became a hate figure for the Catalan club's fans after switching to bitter rivals Real, where he collected two more Primera Liga titles and also won the 2002 UEFA Champions League.

Figo has been a fringe figure at the San Siro for the past two seasons due to a succession of injuries.

"Winning has always been the only real objective of my career," he said. "The only way to win I have known is sacrifice and work, which they taught me when I was a lad at Sporting.

"That's why today I also want to say sorry if in some matches or in some periods I haven't managed to give my all because of injuries or other reasons. I was the first person to be displeased."

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Chelsea win FA Cup 2009 !

* Chelsea fight back after falling behind

* Saha goal quickest ever in a final

* Hiddink departs as a winner

LONDON, May 30 (Reuters) - Chelsea gave departing coach Guus Hiddink the perfect leaving present when they came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Striker Louis Saha put Everton ahead after just 26 seconds — the fastest goal ever scored in the FA Cup final. The previous fastest of 30 seconds was scored by Bob Chatt of Aston Villa in 1895.

Chelsea, playing under Hiddink for the last time before he returns to coaching Russia’s national team, equalised after 20 minutes when Didier Drogba rose virtually unmarked to head past Tim Howard.

Frank Lampard curled in the winner from outside the box in the 72nd minute of a match played in blistering heat.

“It was amazing,” Lampard said on ITV. “To be 1-0 down in one minute, we showed a lot of character. We basically dominated the game.

“The second half wasn’t quite so good, but I was always felt like we could win the game so I’m pleased to get the goal to help us win it.”

Chelsea did indeed deserve the victory, which put England defender Ashley Cole in the record books as the first player since the 19th century to win five FA Cup winner’s medals. He has won three with Arsenal and two with Chelsea.

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