The Sport Matrix: Thursday 20 November 2014


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The Independent Online

Victory on the cards for Nadal

Rafael Nadal swapped the tennis court for a poker table for one night and still served all the aces, winning $50,000 (£32,000) against Brazil’s legendary former striker Ronaldo at the PokerStars tournament in London.

The 28-year-old Spaniard won his prize for the Rafa Nadal Foundation and carried on his winning streak, seeing off Ronaldo at the table, having also beaten him in their first head-to-head poker meeting in Prague in December last year.

“It was close for most of the match and I’m delighted to have won,” enthused Nadal. “I called all-in at the final hand, which proved to be a good move!”

He added: “Ronaldo is a football great and it’s amazing for me to have the opportunity to face him at the poker table. I’m happy for a rematch if Ronaldo is up to the challenge.”

Webb eyes upset against All Blacks

Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb insists an upset is possible when the side face world champions New Zealand on Saturday. “They’re a world-class team, top of the rankings at the moment, but I think they are there to be taken as well,” the 25-year-old said yesterday, adding: “If we can play our game plan and not take a backward step and really get into them, I think we can put on a good show.”

Borthwick aims  to shine on tour

Spinner Scott Borthwick hopes to add to his solitary England cap, gained in the insipid final Ashes Test loss in Sydney. He is spending the winter in Sri Lanka, aiming to improve in the England Performance Programme. “Playing out there should be good for me,” he says.

Hodgson will let stars play for U21s

Roy Hodgson has said he will give Gareth Southgate free rein to select whatever eligible players for the Under-21s he wants for the European Championship next summer, with eight England senior squad regulars able to play in the tournament. Hodgson said that come June he would defer to Southgate when he picks his squad for the qualifier against Slovenia and the friendly with the Republic of Ireland.

Bianchi out of coma but ‘critical’

Driver Jules Bianchi has been brought out of an artifical coma and flown to a hospital in Nice. He remains unconscious and in a critical condition after his crash over seven seeks ago. “Jules’ neurological condition remains stable,” said a statement. “Although the situation continues to be serious, it was decided that Jules was sufficiently stable to be repatriated to his native France.”