The Sports Matrix: Friday 1 April 2011

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The Independent Online

Sharapova and Fish win in Miami

Maria Sharapova beat Andrea Petkovic 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 last night to reach the final of the Sony Ericsson Open. In the men’s event, Mardy Fish overcame David Ferrer in the last eight to secure his place as the top-ranked American player. MORE

Woosnam recalls Masters triumph

Twenty years on, Ian Woosnam has recalled the moment he won the Masters, becoming the first Welshman to win a Major. “It was like there was a voice saying: ‘This is your time, step up,’” he said. “All those other guys in the ‘Big Five’ had won. It was my turn.” MORE

Asian rivals prepare for finale

After 41 days and 48 matches, the final is now at hand. It is a small miracle that the 10th cricket World Cup has managed to conjure precisely the right pairing in India and Sri Lanka, the main hosts. MORE

Ferdinand aims to make rapid return

Rio Ferdinand is hopeful of proving his Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, wrong by returning to action within the next fortnight. The deposed England captain is believed to be targeting a return for next week’s home match against Fulham. MORE

Ishikawa to donate winnings to fund

Japanese golfer Ryo Ishikawa has announced plans to donate all his 2011 winnings to the relief fund dealing with last month’s earthquake. “I believe this is the most positive way for me to spend my money,” he said. “My goal is 200m yen [£1.5m].” MORE

Bad decisions ‘have cost’ Hammers

West Ham manager Avram Grant has echoed Sir Alex Ferguson, whose Manchester United team visit Upton Park tomorrow, in claiming his team have suffered at the hands of officials this season. “The decisions [have been] against us too many times,” he said. MORE

Hopley: drug bans are inconsistent

Damian Hopley, chief executive of the Rugby Players’ Association, says he is “extremely concerned at the inconsistency” of punishments on those who test positive for banned substances, following the four-month ban imposed on Sale’s Karena Wihongi. MORE

Tottenham short of numbers at back

Harry Redknapp has an injury crisis in defence ahead of next week’s Champions League match with Real Madrid following injuries to a number of players. “We started the year with six central defenders - now we have two,” the Spurs manager said. MORE

Widnes regain Super League place

Widnes Vikings have won back their place in the Super League, returning to next season’s competition after an absence of seven years. “It’s really refreshing that the Rugby League have seen sense,” chairman Steve O’Connor said. “We’ll revitalise it.” MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Gordon Taylor has perhaps found a useful device in fighting racism. He believes the Rooney Rule could swell the number of black managers in English football beyond the pitiful level now represented by Paul Ince and Chris Powell. MORE

Liverpool sponsors sought assurances on player conduct

Standard Chartered, the shirt sponsors of Liverpool, have sought reassurances from the club that the conduct of its players will not cause the bank embarrassment. Chief executive Peter Sands asked for undertakings from his opposite number at the Anfield club over likely action against offending players and also required sight of the club’s code of conduct before signing the £20m a-season deal in 2009. “[Players] are young men and they play hard and party hard,” he said. “Reputationally, what is important to us is that the club has the right set of responsibilities and guidelines for players.” In a week when the England manager, Fabio Capello, commented on the drinking habits of £35m striker Andy Carroll – “he needs to improve, to drink less” – Liverpool’s manager, Kenny Dalglish, defended his player. “Andy Carroll knows what is required of Andy Carroll,” the Scot said. “He is the most important part of all this. [He] cannot be criticised in any way, for what he has done since he has been here.” MORE

City angered by Touré appearance

Manchester City defender Kolo Touré, currently suspended after allegedly taking an illegal substance, appeared at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, without his club’s knowledge. Asked when he may return, he said: “I will be back soon. I hope so.” MORE

Bierhoff: England need team spirit

Oliver Bierhoff has warned Fabio Capello of the need for a good team spirit if England are to improve. “In this tournament [the 2010 World Cup] it seemed to be the worst,” the German said. “In 1996 England were good and together.” MORE