The Sports Matrix: Friday 3 June 2011

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The Independent Online

Murray ready for Nadal challenge

Despite a tournament burdened by injury, Andy Murray will attempt to become the first Briton in 74 years to reach the men’s final at Roland Garros when he takes on Rafael Nadal in the semi-final this afternoon. “I can definitely win,” Murray declared. MORE

Holder McDowell off to good start

The defending Wales Open champion Graeme McDowell fired a first-round score of 67 yesterday to finish three shots behind Keith Horne at Celtic Manor. “The golf course is playing pretty tough but I’m happy with how I played,” he said. MORE

Froch: No hiding place in Super Six

WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch, who takes on Glen Johnson in the Super Six semi-final tomorrow, admits the tournament has been hard: “It has been about quality fights and not avoiding people.” MORE

Schiavone to face staggered Li

Francesca Schiavone, the reigning champion, will meet Li Na in tomorrow’s women’s final after both won their semis in straight sets. Schiavone defeated Marion Bartoli, while Li beat Maria Sharapova. “I never believed I could be in the final,” Li said. MORE

Fallon could be barred from Derby

Kieren Fallon was last night at the centre of a legal attempt to prevent him riding a leading fancy for the Derby. The six-times champion jockey will not find out until 10.30am today whether an injunction will be granted to stop him riding Recital tomorrow. MORE

Strauss looks to clinch Test series

England captain Andrew Strauss is backing his bowlers to inspire an early series victory over Sri Lanka in the second Test, starting today. “There’s a real confidence in our bowling unit.” he said. “As a group they believe they are a match for anyone.” MORE

Piggott: If I could still ride...

Nine-times Derby winner, and arguably the finest jockey of all time Lester Piggott tells i about the differences in racing now to when he was competing: “The big races are worth 10 times more now. If I could still ride a couple of races a week, you know.” MORE

Walcott set to start Euro qualifier

Fabio Capello is expected to bring Theo Walcott back into the England team for their Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland tomorrow in a 4-3-3 formation, with Darren Bent as the centre-forward. The 22-year-old missed the last two internationals. MORE

Henson desperate for World Cup spot

Gavin Henson insists he is ready to take the World Cup lifeline offered by Wales coach Warren Gatland when he lines up against the Barbarians tomorrow. “This is massive for me,” the 29-year-old said. “I don’t want to watch another World Cup on the television.” MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

The Test figures of Kevin Pietersen are of course still imposing – 5,669 Test runs at an average of 48.04 – but running through them is the wound first inflicted by Daniel Vettori and now re-opened by Rangana Herath. MORE

Hughes leaves Fulham to pave way for Villa

Mark Hughes quit as Fulham manager yesterday and, although he denied there was another club involved, is heavily expected to take the vacant position at Aston Villa. “I hope the supporters and all those connected with the club will understand I wish to move on to further my experiences,” he said. “This decision to leave Fulham has not been influenced by any outside party.” The 47-year-old exercised the break clause in his two-year contract to leave the club after only nine months in charge, and just after guiding the west London side into the Europa League next season, after they topped the fair play league. While Villa can still claim that no direct contact has been made, it is understood that it was their preference that Hughes should resign from Fulham first. MORE

Switzerland strike force full of holes

Switzerland arrive at Wembley tomorrow in the midst of a striker crisis. The Fulham defender Philippe Senderos is the second-top scorer in the squad with five international goals, one behind Bayer Leverkusen’s midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta. MORE

Surrey victorious after Davies knock

England t20 international Steven Davies hit an unbeaten 92 for Surrey last night as they began their t20 campaign with an eight-wicket win at The Oval over Gloucestershire. Gloucestershire finished on 155 for 8, and Surrey won with 19 balls to spare. MORE

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