- Ask Steven
Short Wimbledon matches and England strugglesSteven Lynch May 28, 2012
What was the shortest-ever match at Wimbledon? asked Colin Burns
There have been 16 men's singles matches at Wimbledon which were won 6-0 6-0 6-0, the last by Stefan Edberg in 1987, so one of those was probably the shortest completed men's match. In the ladies' singles there have been 125 "double bagels", the most embarrassing of them probably the 1911 final, when Dorothea Lambert Chambers beat Dora Boothby 6-0 6-0. That match lasted only 24 minutes, but the Wimbledon records state that the 1922 final - in which Suzanne Lenglen beat Molla Mallory 6-2 6-0 - was done and dusted a minute quicker.
The shortest men's singles final was in 1881, when Willie Renshaw beat John Hartley in 37 minutes; this was approached in 1936 when Fred Perry hammered the injured Gottfried von Cramm in 40. But the overall record for Wimbledon was established in a second-round men's doubles match in 1995, when the American Tommy Ho and Brett Steven from New Zealand (the No. 9 seeds) took on the Italian-South African pair of Cristian Brandi and Marcos Ondruska. Steven served the first point, it was returned, and Ho stretched to intercept ... and injured his back so badly that he couldn't continue. The match was over after about five seconds.
I find the team names in Super Rugby confusing - where do the winners (Bulls, Reds etc) actually come from? asked Graham Howe
Super Rugby - the tournament for club or provincial rugby union sides from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - started in more or less its current format in 1996 (as "Super 12", as there were a dozen teams at the time), when it was won by the Blues, from Auckland. They also won in 1997 and 2003. In 1998 the Crusaders - from Christchurch in New Zealand - took the first of their record seven titles, while the Brumbies, from Canberra in Australia, joined the winners' list in 2001 (and won again in 2003).
South Africa's first winners were the Bulls, from Pretoria, who won in 2007, 2009 and 2010, while a new name was added to the honours board in 2011 when the Brisbane Reds won for the first time. The 2012 competition, involving 15 teams, started in February; the final is due to be played on August 4. As I write the Chiefs - from Waikato in New Zealand - are on top of the table.
England have never won football's European Championship. Have they ever reached the final? asked Roy McDonald
You're right in thinking that England's footballers have a fairly woeful record in the European Championship. They have never reached the final of the tournament - which started in 1960 as a modest four-team event - and have only twice made it as far as the semi-finals: in 1968, when despite having most of the side that had won the World Cup two years previously, England lost 1-0 to Yugoslavia in Florence (Italy, the hosts, went on to win the final; England beat the Soviet Union in the third-place playoff).
It wasn't until Euro '96 - which was held in England - that they made it as far as the semis again, famously losing on penalties to Germany at Wembley (this was when Gareth Southgate missed the vital one). By then the third-place play-off for the beaten semi-finalists, which would have pitted England against France, had been dropped. Germany went on to win the final, against the Czech Republic, with a "golden goal" in extra time. England have taken part in the European Championships on five other occasions, reaching the quarter-finals in 2004 but failing to progress beyond the group stage in 1980, 1988, 1992 and 2000.
I've heard that no American has ever won the British Open at Lytham, this year's venue. Is this true? asked Michael Carr
It was true, up to a point, until 1996 - so maybe you heard this a long time ago! Until Tom Lehman won at Royal Lytham and St Annes in 1996, no American professional had ever won the Open there (Bobby Jones, an amateur, won the first one played there, in 1926). David Duval, another American, won at Lytham in 2001, so the last two Opens there have been won by American golfers. There was a long dry run between 1926 and 1996, though, during which time Lytham Opens were won by Bobby Locke (South Africa; 1952), Peter Thomson (Australia; 1958), Bob Charles (New Zealand; 1963), Tony Jacklin (Great Britain; 1969), Gary Player (South Africa; 1974) and Severiano Ballesteros (Spain; 1979 and 1988).
Paavo Nurmi won nine Olympic gold medals between 1920 and 1928. But what event did Nurmi win in Berlin in 1936? asked Ken Broughton
This is a bit of a trick question. Paavo Nurmi, the great Finnish long-distance runner, won nine gold medals (and three silvers) at the Olympics in the 1920s - three at Antwerp in 1920, five in Paris in 1924, and one (the 10,000 metres) at Amsterdam in 1928. In 1920 and 1924 his golds included winning the individual cross-country race, and getting a medal for the team event too. Nurmi had hoped to compete again at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, but he was branded a professional - for allegedly receiving too much in expenses for a meeting in Germany - and banned. He was therefore ineligible to compete in further Games. But Nurmi did indeed win two further golds, at Berlin in 1936 ... in the individual and team equestrian three-day event, when the German rider Ludwig Stubbendorf rode a horse called Nurmi.
Ronnie O'Sullivan has now reached four world snooker finals, and won all four. Has anyone else managed this? asked Ian Rossington
The great Joe Davis won the first 15 World Snooker Championships, between 1927 and 1946, and never lost in the final (at least once "final" was a bit of a misnomer, as there was only one other entrant). But since the knockout format was reintroduced in 1969, "Rocket" Ronnie is unique in winning all four of his finals. Only one other player has a 100% record: Neil Robertson, the Australian who won the title in 2010, in his only appearance in the final so far. Jimmy White has a rather more unenviable record: he reached six finals and lost the lot - no-one else has lost more than two, without ever winning one, since 1969 (Eddie Charlton, Matthew Stevens and this year's beaten finalist Ali Carter come into this twice-defeated category).