Taiwanese greet Hingis
Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis arrived in Taiwan yesterday to an enthusiastic welcome from her fans, many of whom had waited overnight at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to greet her. The former Swiss tennis queen has been invited to Taiwan for exhibition games with three other tennis legends, Andre Agassi, his wife, Steffi Graf, and Croatian Goran Ivanisevic. Hingis was scheduled to arrive on Thursday evening, but unexpected transportation factors delayed her arrival until yesterday morning. Many of her fans began gathering at the airport on Thursday and stayed there overnight. They squealed and screamed when Hingis entered the arrival lounge smiling. She signed autographs for her fans as they showered her with gifts and flowers. Exclamations broke out among the crowd when she took a close-up photograph with a male fan. When the retired tennis star learned that many of her fans had waited overnight to greet her, she said she was moved by their passion, love and devotion. During her visit, Hingis and Graf, holder of 22 Grand Slam singles titles, will play one of the two highly anticipated singles matches, while Agassi and Ivanisevic will play the other. The four will also play a mixed doubles match and coach a group of teenage players at the Taipei Arena.
James, Bryant top All-NBA
LeBron James was the leading vote-getter for the All-NBA team, while Kobe Bryant earned his 10th first-team selection, tied for second on the career list. Bryant, a first-team pick for the seventh straight season, joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Bob Cousy, Michael Jordan, Bob Pettit, and Jerry West with 10 selections to the first team. Karl Malone is the leader with 11. James, who won his third Most Valuable Player award, received 118 of a possible 120 first-team votes on Thursday from a panel of US writers and broadcasters. Joining him on the first team were scoring champion Kevin Durant, LA Clippers point guard Chris Paul and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. Guards Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook were selected for the second team, along with forwards Kevin Love and Blake Griffin and center Andrew Bynum.
Serbia, Czechs advance
Serbia and the Czech Republic moved closer to meeting in the World Team Cup final on Thursday. Serbia’s Viktor Troicki saved three set points in the first set and four break points in the second to beat Florin Mayer 7-6 (6), 6-3 for a 1-0 lead over defending champion Germany in the Blue Group. Tomas Berdych gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Argentina by beating Carlos Berlocq 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3. The US beat Japan 2-1 for their first win. Ryan Harrison beat Tatsumi Ito 6-2, 7-6 (5) before Go Soeda defeated Andy Roddick 7-5, 7-6 (4) to level the score. James Blake and Ryan Harrison won the decisive doubles against Ito and Bumpei Sato 4-6, 6-0, 10-4.
Latvala leads in Greece
Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala returned from injury with the fastest time on Stage 1 of the Rally of Greece on Thursday to take a lead of 2.8 seconds over French world champion Sebastien Loeb. The factory Ford driver had missed the last round in Argentina after breaking his left collarbone while on a cross-country skiing training run in Lapland. His compatriot Mikko Hirvonen was third-quickest on Thursday.