January should be a good month to start anew or pursue our resolutions. But alas, it didn't seem to go that way in the world of sport, which was rife with reports of poor sportsmanship and nasty players who resorted to antics or negative tactics that went against the spirit of fair play.
Recent examples are football striker Luiz Suarez's controversial handball that helped Liverpool steal a draw against Mansfield Town in their FA Cup clash, shamed cyclist Lance Armstrong confessing he doped his way to seven Tour de France titles in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, world No.1 women's tennis player Victoria Azarenka's controversial use of a medical timeout in the semi-final of the Australian Open, and Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard kicking Swansea's ball boy during their Capital One Cup semi-final second-leg fixture. Modern sports figures, it seems, are more focused on winning than exhibiting a sense of sportsmanship. And that turns off viewers, me included.
I watched a live broadcast of the controversial match in which Belarus's Azarenka played Sloane Stephens, the 19-year-old American who had upset Serena Williams in her previous match. The Belarusian won the first set, and she was cruising in the second until Stephens made a stunning comeback in the ninth game and was serving to stay in the match. However, trouble brewed when Azarenka took a medical timeout and left the court for 10 minutes. She returned to play much better tennis, quickly breaking her opponent before going on to take the match. Azarenka didn't give a reason for her timeout, but just pointed at her chest. After the match was won, she was asked to explain: it was nothing, she said, taken to overcome her own panic.
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