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Murray's semi streak and Pele's hat-trick of World Cups

Steven Lynch September 26, 2011
Andy Murray fell in the US Open semi-finals to Rafael Nadal © Getty Images

I read that Andy Murray was only the seventh tennis player to reach the semi-finals of all four Grand Slam events in the same year. Who are the other six? And did any of them fail to win any of the events, as Murray managed? asked Paul Stone

Murray was actually the seventh man to reach all four Grand Slam singles semi-finals in the Open era (since 1968). A few players - notably Don Budge and Rod Laver who both won the Grand Slam - did it before that in the amateur era. All the current top four players have done it: Murray and Novak Djokovic this year, Rafael Nadal in 2008, and Roger Federer, incredibly, five years running from 2005 to 2009. Ivan Lendl reached all four semis in 1987, and then we have to go back to 1969, the second season of Open tennis. Rod Laver won all four major tournaments that year to complete his second career Grand Slam (he also did it as an amateur in 1962), but his fellow Australian Tony Roche also reached the semis of all four tournaments, losing to Laver in the final of the US Open at Forest Hills and falling in the semis of the other three. Roche is the only one apart from Murray who failed to win one of the four in the year in question.

I remember Wales scoring four tries against New Zealand in the 2003 rugby World Cup but still losing - is this a competition record? asked Tim Buxton

There have been three other instances of a team scoring four tries in a rugby World Cup match but managing to lose - most famously by England in 1995, when they were steamrollered by Jonah Lomu (the final score was 45-29 to New Zealand). The other two were also in 1995: Argentina lost 31-25 to Italy, and Japan lost 50-28 to Ireland, despite both running in four tries. But ... it's still not a World Cup record, which is also held by Wales. Against Fiji at Nantes in the last World Cup in 2007 Wales actually scored five tries - and still ended up losing 38-34.

Is Pele the only footballer to win three World Cups? asked James Ward

Yes he is: Pele was in Brazil's World Cup-winning squad in 1958 (when still a teenager), 1962 and 1970. In 1962, though, he played only in the first two matches then was injured - but FIFA gave him a winners' medal some years later anyway. He's still the only man to be part of three World Cup-winning squads, even if he didn't play in all three successful finals. Twenty other players - 15 of them Brazilians - have taken part in two World Cup wins. A dozen of those Brazilians were Pele's team-mates in 1958 and 1962, and the other two are Cafu and Ronaldo, who both played in 1994 and 2002. Four of the five non-Brazilians were Italians who played in both 1934 and 1938, and the other one is the Argentinian Daniel Passarella, who was on the winning sides in 1978 and 1986. Mario Zagalo, who was in Brazil's winning teams in 1958 and 1962, coached the 1970 side to victory.

Has any boxer defeated both Klitschko brothers? asked Carl Morrison

No-one has (yet) managed to defeat both the towering Klitschko brothers. Wladimir - currently the WBA, IBF and WBO champion - has lost three fights in his career, to the Americans Ross Puritty (in 1998) and Lamon Brewster (2004), and the South African Corrie Sanders (2003). Vitali, the current WBC champion, has lost twice - to Chris Byrd in 2000 and Lennox Lewis in 2003. On a couple of occasions the other brother has immediately avenged a defeat: after Vitali lost to Byrd, Wladimir beat the American in his next fight to reclaim the WBO title for the family, while after Wladimir's loss to Sanders Vitaliy beat him in his next fight.

I believe that the prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is not solely for three-year-olds, like the Derby is. Has any horse ever won it twice?? asked Peter Johnston

That's right, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp is for horses aged three or over. The last horse to win it twice was Alleged, ridden by Lester Piggott, in 1977 and 1978. The other horses which have won it twice since the race began in 1920 are Ksar (1921-22), Motrico (1930 and 1932), Corrida (1936-37), Tantieme (1950-51), and Ribot (1955-56). Motrico was seven years old when it won for the second time, an Arc record. Since the Second World War the only five-year-old horses to win it have been Le Paillon (1947), Star Appeal (the only German-trained winner, in 1975), Tony Bin (1988) and Marienbard (2002).

I noticed that next year's British Open is to be held at Lytham, while the 2011 one was staged at Sandwich. How often has it been held in England two years running? asked Chris Bradford

That's a good spot, because as it turns out the Open - which has been staged most often in Scotland - has never been held in England two years running before. The only other time two consecutive Opens have been played outside Scotland was in 1951-52, when the one and only Open to be played in Northern Ireland - at Portrush - was followed in 1952 by another visit to Royal Lytham.

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