2012 YEAR IN REVIEW

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  • Super Bowl Sunday kicks off with scandal and spectacle
    Super Bowl Sunday kicks off with scandal and spectacle

    The Super Bowl kicks off Sunday as American football seeks to put a scandal-plagued season behind it, with this year's spectacle featuring a Katy Perry concert, ultra-expensive commercials and a compelling clash between Seattle and New England. The extravaganza is expected to draw a whopping 115 million viewers -- or about one in three Americans -- and amounts to an unofficial holiday in the United States, where even those with no interest in the sport gather at countless Super Bowl parties. This year's championship comes with the National Football League battling back from a season of turmoil, accused of complacency and even conspiracy in its handling of issues ranging from domestic violence to concussion dangers. The latest controversy -- accusations that the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs -- has dominated news coverage in the days leading up to the game.

  • Djokovic wins 5th Australian Open title, denies Murray a 1st
    Djokovic wins 5th Australian Open title, denies Murray a 1st

    MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic won his fifth Australian Open title and his eighth career Grand Slam while extending Andy Murray's misery at Melbourne Park.

  • Murray under microscope after Melbourne Park meltdown

    By Ian Ransom MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andy Murray blamed Novak Djokovic's physical problems in their Australian Open final on Sunday for throwing him off his game but that could hardly explain the meltdown that saw the Scot lose 12 of the last 13 games. After leveling at one-set apiece, Murray led 2-0 in the third but collapsed to lose the match 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 under the lights of Rod Laver Arena, his fourth defeat in Australian Open finals and third to Djokovic.

  • Arizona's Sheriff Joe picks Patriots; inmates to get popcorn
    Arizona's Sheriff Joe picks Patriots; inmates to get popcorn

    By Daniel Wallis PHOENIX (Reuters) - The Arizona lawman who bills himself as "America's toughest sheriff" predicts the New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl and says some inmates will be allowed popcorn as they watch Sunday's face-off with the Seattle Seahawks. Joe Arpaio, the 82-year-old sheriff of Maricopa County where the National Football League's championship game will be played, held an event on Saturday at which he popped the popcorn and forecast the Patriots will triumph 27-17. He also took a cheeky jab at his favored team over the "deflategate" scandal, in which the Patriots are accused of using under-inflated footballs during their AFC championship triumph against Indianapolis.

  • Relaxed Serena cherishing every victory

    By Greg Stutchbury MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Once a simmering volcano of emotions that could erupt at any moment, Australian Open champion Serena Williams appears to be heading down a path that may perhaps lead to her being renamed Serene. Williams clinched her 19th grand slam title on Saturday with a 6-3 7-6 (5) victory over Maria Sharapova at Melbourne Park, moving her into a tie for third place with Helen Wills Moody on the all-time list.

  • Djokovic reigns supreme at Australian Open

    By Greg Stutchbury MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic may have garnered a reputation as the crown prince of pranksters in tennis but on Sunday he firmly established him as the king of Melbourne's blue hardcourts with his fifth Australian Open title. The 27-year-old Serb, limping from two slips on court, breathing heavily and battling a "physical crisis", overcame a fired-up Andy Murray 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 to clinch his fourth Australian title in the past five years. He also overcame a slight shift in momentum in the second set when security staff had to remove a group of people, two of whom managed to jump on court but did not get near the players, protesting Australia's policy on refugees. "We both, of course, went through some tough moments physically," Djokovic said.

  • Van Gaal happy to have Fletcher on board

    Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will welcome back Darren Fletcher to Old Trafford if the Scotland international's proposed move to West Ham collapses before the end of the transfer window. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce announced on Saturday that a deal which looked to have been on the verge of completion 24 hours earlier had fallen down due to a disagreement between the clubs over whether the United veteran would make the move on loan or on a permanent basis. "I don't know what's happening," said van Gaal, speaking after his team had beaten bottom-of-the-table Leicester 3-1 at Old Trafford to move up into third place in the Premier League ahead of Southampton's match against Swansea on Sunday.

  • Ex-NFL star Hernandez, alleged victim had nascent friendship: witness

    By Daniel Lovering FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - A semiprofessional football player found dead in an industrial park near former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez's home in 2013 was in the "early stages of friendship" with the rising NFL star, the dead man's girlfriend said on Friday. The testimony at Massachusetts Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts, came during the first of two murder trials Hernandez faces this year.

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