Ketchup off menu for team
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has revealed some of the strict rules he has introduced at the club, including the banning of mobile phones and tomato ketchup. Di Canio succeeded Martin O’Neill in March and has vowed to get tough with his players. “This is a complete revolution,” he told yesterday’s edition of the Daily Telegraph. “We’ve focused on changing the whole dressing-room environment. Imagine if for years your habit is to use the phone when you’re having a massage on the bed, even one minute before going out to train? For 25 days I accepted this, because my first priority was to work on the field. However, I’ve said that from now if someone comes inside with a mobile phone, even in their bag, I’ll throw it in the North Sea. They’re banned.” The Italian is also determined to exert greater control over the squad’s diet. “We need to have lectures about why we can’t have everyday things like mayonnaise, ketchup and Coke,” he said.
Sharapova splits with Jimbo
Maria Sharapova has split with coach Jimmy Connors after just one match, the Russian’s agent said on Friday. Max Eisenbud confirmed that Sharapova and Connors, an eight-time major winner in his playing days, are no longer working together after linking up for just one event in Cincinnati. Sharapova hired Connors last month after previous coach Thomas Hogstedt had said that he wanted to cut back on his travel schedule and spend time with his family. Sharapova and Connors had little time to get acquainted, with the player trying to heal a hip injury in time to prepare for the US Open which starts on Aug. 26. As it is, Sharapova, who lost in the Cincinnati WTA tournament to Sloane Stephens on Tuesday, is now in Florida training. Seen in the Cincinnati players’ lounge after his new client’s defeat, Connors appeared to be eager to leave the event as soon as possible.
Ballance frustrates Aussies
Australia suffered a frustrating time in the field as England Lions batsman Gary Ballance hit a century on a rain-affected first day of the tour match at Northampton on Friday. Ballance smashed 104 from 154 balls, including 16 fours and one six as the Lions closed on 269-7, with spinner Nathan Lyon the pick of the Australia bowlers with 3-80. Ballance surged past 100 off 153 balls by hammering Steve Smith for six, only for the spinner to trap him LBW with the next ball. Moeen Ali contributed 61 off 101 deliveries for the Lions.
Massa backs break
Brazilian Felipe Massa believes the tradition of a mid-season summer break has given his Ferrari team — and himself — a perfect opportunity to regain their form. Ferrari have won only two races this season and both thanks to the brilliance of Ferando Alonso. However, they have not enjoyed any success since the Spanish Grand Prix in May and have seen their race performances fail just as dismally as their qualifying showings in recent months. Even if the teams are banned from working or opening their factories for two weeks, Massa claimed this week that the break will still allow them to think and solve problems. “We need to make this car quicker,” Massa said. “So it’s a very important four weeks from one race to the other. We know that we have a break for everybody and the team needs to be closed for two weeks. Nobody can work, but the working and thinking are important to bring new pieces for the next race in Belgium and to have a more competitive second half of the season.”