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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Beckham defends decision to train with Spurs

Posted: 24 Feb 2011 06:17 PM PST

Britain's David Beckham trains at Tottenham Hotspur's training ground in London January 11, 2010. — Reuters pic

LOS ANGELES, Feb 25 — David Beckham defended his decision to train in England and return late to pre-season preparation with the Los Angeles Galaxy yesterday, saying it was more useful than sitting on the beach.

The former England captain drew some flak in the US media for training with Tottenham Hotspur and missing the formal start of pre-season with the Major League Soccer's Galaxy.

"I think at this stage in my career, especially after the injury that I had, I realised that it was more important for me to train than to sit on a beach," the 35-year-old told reporters after returning to training with the Galaxy on Thursday.

"It was just important for my fitness and for my level that I continued there and come back fitter than I obviously was last season," said Beckham, who missed most of last year's campaign due to an Achilles tendon injury.

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp had tried to secure Beckham on a loan deal which would have allowed him to play for the North London club.

"If obviously there was an option to play then I was going to take it. But without doubt, a hundred per cent, I wanted to go somewhere and train and not take the three months and just sit around doing nothing," he added.

"My main objective was to get fit for the Galaxy and for the MLS season. That was my main objective. My main objective wasn't to play for a premiership team.

"I was thankful to Spurs and to Harry for the way they looked after me. I think it was frustrating for Harry because he's already said that he would have liked to have signed me for the time," said the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder.

Beckham denied that a loan deal with Spurs would have meant he would have missed games in MLS.

"Even if I had been on loan, even if I had played the games, this is the time I was always coming back. You know that was agreed. You know nothing was going to change that," he said.

Beckham has been invited to the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29 but he said he did not know if he would attend. The Galaxy are due to play in Dallas on May 1.

The Galaxy open the MLS season at the Seattle Sounders on March 15. — Reuters 

Britain's David Beckham trains at Tottenham Hotspur's training ground in London January 11, 2010. — Reuters pic

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Djokovic and Federer battle into Dubai semi-finals

Posted: 24 Feb 2011 05:06 PM PST

Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a return to Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine during their quarter-final match at the ATP Dubai Tennis Championships, February 24, 2011. — Reuters pic

DUBAI, Feb 25 — Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and top seed Roger Federer survived early onslaughts to reach the semi-finals of the Dubai championships Thursday.

Djokovic recovered to beat Germany's Florian Mayer 7-5 6-1 and Federer defeated Ukraines's Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3 6-4.

The second-seeded Serbian will next play third seed Tomas Berdych after the Czech defeated another German, Philipp Petzschner 7-5 6-4, while Federer faces unseeded Richard Gasquet, who overcame Gilles Simon 5-7 6-2 6-4 in an all-French quarter-final.

Djokovic, bidding to win the title for the third successive year, was rocked by Mayer's early challenge, dropping his serve in the opening game and then fighting off two break points at 0-2 before holding on his fourth game point.

The Serb then settled down and won his next three service games without losing a point and, down 4-5, he broke Mayer to love, held off a break point in the next game with an ace and then broke Mayer to love again to take the set.

In the second set Mayer averted a break point in the second game but made a forehand error to fall behind 3-1 and Djokovic then dominated the rest of the match.

"It was a very slow start," Djokovic told reporters. "Quite different conditions from last night's match. The ball was going faster today, and he took it to me from the start. Already first game he was on the net, twice, three times. You know, I was not moving my legs well.

"But when I needed to play well and needed to keep the ball in the court, I did."

Federer also conceded his serve in the first game, but levelled at 1-1 when he floated a backhand return and then held the next game with four consecutive aces after being down 0-40.

A forehand pass gave Federer a second break for 5-3, and he broke again to take a 2-1 lead in the second set when Stakhovsky netted a forehand.

Federer was then placed under pressure, needing to hold off a break point at 3-2 and two more at 4-3. He then held three match points on Stakhovsky's serve at 5-3 before closing out the match in the next game.

"I thought it was a tough match, tougher than the last couple, just because the start of the match, obviously that was tricky, the first sort of three, four games, where it could be 3-Love for him, could be 2-1 for me, could be 3-1, 2-All, or whatever," said Federer.

"So important to stay with him there, and then sort of finding the rhythm, how to play him, how is he playing, how is he serving, is he coming in, is he staying back, what's his strengths, what are his weaknesses?

"So it was just a matter of trying to figure him out, and I thought actually I played a really good match for the remainder of the game. You know, at the end, I'm obviously happy. It's been maybe a routine score, but, you know, I had to work for it tonight." — Reuters 


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