Saturday, March 17, 2012

Warrior Djokovic hails greatest win

Updated January 30, 2012 11:17:39

Novak Djokovic savoured the most dramatic win of his career, despite being left with bleeding toes and "outrageous" pain in his record Australian Open final victory over Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic's thrilling five-set win over the Spaniard, the longest major singles final at five hours and 53 minutes, makes him just the fifth player in open history to win three straight grand slam titles.

"You're in pain, you're suffering, you know that you're trying to activate your legs, you're trying to push yourself another point, just one more point, one more game," he said.

"You're going through so much suffering your toes are bleeding. Everything is just outrageous, you know, but you're still enjoying that pain."

The 24-year-old Djokovic says his Wimbledon triumph last year had been special, but the Melbourne win was even better.

"This one I think comes out on the top just because of the fact that we played almost six hours is incredible, incredible," he said.

Djokovic added that now felt ready for a shot at the French Open, the next major on the calendar, where his best result is reaching the semi-finals.

"So I want to do well and I want to get to my first final at least in Paris. I have never been in the final there and I have a feeling that I'm ready this year to achieve that," he said.

Djokovic's 2011 season left commentators short of superlatives as the Serb won a total of 10 titles and went on a 41-match winning streak, until Roger Federer beat him in the semi-finals in Paris.

"I'm prioritising grand slams this year, as every year, and Olympic Games. I think that's one of my highest goals," he said.

"That doesn't mean of course that I'm not going to prepare well and perform my best in the other tournaments. It's just that, you know, the grand slams matter the most."

Djokovic says he will now take time to savour his triumph before he returns to the tennis courts to prepare for the rest of the season.

"I'm not really concerned about the rest of the year how physically I'm going endure and all of that," he said.

"It's just the start of the year. I'm going to have some weeks off now, and I'm going try to enjoy this victory as much as I can.

"Then back to office, you know, back to work, preparation. There is much that awaits for me, but I definitely should enjoy the present moment."


Tags: tennis, sport, australian-open, melbourne-3000

First posted January 30, 2012 06:58:26

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Stosur, Azarenka to face off in Qatar final

Updated February 19, 2012 07:38:41

Samantha Stosur advanced to her first final of the year when her French rival Marion Bartoli retired with a foot problem in the second set of their semi-final clash at the Qatar Open.

After losing the first set 6-3, Bartoli was serving in the first game of the second when she pulled out with Stosur on break point at 40-30.

Stosur will take on top seed Victoria Azarenka in the final.

"You always want to win a match playing the full match out and winning match point," Stosur said.

"So any player will always take it if you play a set or two sets, but of course in the nature of the sport, you want to be able to finish it."

Azarenka overcame a second set injury scare to thrash Aginezska Radwanska 6-2, 6-4.

Azarenka won despite having court side treatment on her left foot immediately after Radwanska broke back in the second game of the second set.

The world number one was in apparent pain as she had her foot strapped, and for a few minutes it looked like she too would call it quits like Bartoli did an hour earlier.

But after a near eight-minute delay Azarenka came back with renewed determination that left Radwanska completely at her mercy.

After the scores were tied at 2-2, Azarenka won three games in a row to lead 5-2 and although Radwanska herself had a break and retained her serve to close in at 4-5, the Australian Open champ was not letting the opportunity slip by, winning the tenth game 40-0 with a forehand down the line to reach her third final of the season.

"Honestly, I don't know how I managed to pull it off," she said.

"I had to concentrate very hard on every point, but I am happy that I made it," added Azarenka, who took her winning streak this year to 16 to equal the now retired Justine Henin's record set in 2004.

Earlier Bartoli decided to call off her bid for a first title in Doha after losing the first set 6-3 to Stosur.

"Well, actually it started yesterday during the match against Lucie (Safarova)," Bartoli said.

"In the third set I really felt like my right calf was starting to cramp, and I really had to make sure I finished that third set very quickly, because I was really feeling the cramp coming in on the calf.

"I had a lot of treatment yesterday after the match. Today when I started to warm up, I still felt it. So I knew I was not 100% going to the match. That was for sure."


Tags: tennis, sport, qatar, australia

First posted February 19, 2012 07:24:41

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Taylor faces tough Fed Cup choices

Updated February 02, 2012 16:26:19

Fed Cup captain David Taylor admits he has some big selection issues to sort out for Australia's World Group II tennis tie against Switzerland this week.

Compounding the problem is the questionable form of his top two-ranked players - Samantha Stosur and Jarmila Gajdosova - over the first month of the season.

US Open champion Stosur has won only one match in three tournaments in 2012 but there is no question she will be Australia's singles number one against the Swiss in Fribourg.

The big question is who will be the second singles player, with a choice between world number 49 Gajdosova, number 67 Jelena Dokic or even number 103 Casey Dellacqua.

"I think Sam will play. She is number five in the world and it is great to have someone of that ranking in our team," Taylor said.

"The second singles spot is still undecided and the decision will be based on our practice over the next few days."

Gajdosova suffered two heavy defeats at the Hopman Cup in Perth and another in the first round of the Australian Open, although she won a couple of matches in Hobart.

Dokic reached the second round in Sydney and the Australian Open while Dellacqua's strong return from injury was stopped by eventual champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round of the Australian Open.

And Taylor must also decide on a new doubles combination following the retirement of longtime mainstay Rennae Stubbs.

"We haven't really found that yet, so we will also have to decide on that closer to Saturday," he said.

Australia is fighting to return to the top eight in the World Group in 2013 and must win in Switzerland and a second play-off tie in April.

Fortunately, the Swiss are not a big power with their team comprising world number 124 Stefanie Voegele, number 219 Amra Sadikovic, number 244 Timea Bacsinszky and number 1061 Belinda Bencic.

The tie will be played in wintery cold on a temporary indoor clay court, where the Australian team is battling to adjust after the hot, hardcourt Australian season.

"We all arrived pretty frozen," Taylor said on Wednesday.

"It is very cold and quite a contrast to Melbourne.

"We have just had one practice session on the court and it is of a very good standard for temporary indoor courts.

"We still have a little bit of work to do before Saturday but we will get there."


Tags: tennis, sport, switzerland

First posted February 02, 2012 16:26:19

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Stosur, Ebden advance at Indian Wells

Updated March 11, 2012 14:51:03

Sixth seed Samantha Stosur has breezed past American wildcard Irina Falconi 6-0, 6-3 in her second round match at the WTA/ATP Indian Wells tournament.

Australia's number one will face Nadia Petrova in the third round after she also progressed in straight sets beating Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-2.

Her win capped a good day for Australian tennis after Matthew Ebden scored an upset victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Ebden, who is the world number 91 - 58 places below Benneteau - will face Mardy Fish in the third round.

Defending champion and world number Novak Djokovic defeated qualifier Andrey Golubev 6-3, 6-2 in a second-round match.

Djokovic moved through to the third round, where he will face South African Kevin Anderson, who won in a walkover when German Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew earlier in the day.

"It was a good start," Djokovic said.

"We didn't play a beautiful match. There were a lot of unforced errors but it was the opening match and I am still trying to adjust to this court and get used to the conditions. Hopefully the next match will be better."

World number one Djokovic, who came into Indian Wells last year riding a win streak that he eventually stretched to 41 matches, is now 11-1 on the season.

Elsewhere, former world number one Ana Ivanovic avenged last year's first round loss at Roland Garros by routing Johanna Larsson in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2.

Ivanovic broke Larsson's serve five times, including three times in the opening set. She had three aces and four double faults and posted a 67 per cent success rate on first-serve points in the centre-court match.

Four years ago, Ivanovic won at Indian Wells then went on to capture the French Open title.

Ivanovic advances to the third round, where she will face either Peng Shuai or Ksenia Pervak.


Tags: sport, tennis, united-states

First posted March 11, 2012 13:03:25

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Tomic charged over Australia Day driving

Updated January 31, 2012 21:00:38

Queensland Police have charged tennis star Bernard Tomic over a driving incident on the Gold Coast last week.

The 19-year-old was pulled over and fined twice in less than two hours on Australia Day.

Police say he then crossed over double lines and did not stop when officers tried to pull him over.

He has been served a notice to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on February 14 on charges of failing to keep to the left and failing to stop a motor vehicle.

Last week the Tomic family said it was considering laying a complaint against police after being issued with the traffic infringement notices.

Tomic has a special exemption to drive his high-powered $150,000 BMW to and from tennis training and other activities directly related to his tennis.

The car's speed is electronically limited, although its top speed still exceeds 250 kilometres per hour.

Tomic was investigated over complaints of hooning last month but denied the claims, arguing he was the victim of a vendetta by a Gold Coast police officer.

He said at the time the officer who accused him of hooning had told him he wanted to put him in the newspapers.

Tags: sport, traffic-offences, tennis, surfers-paradise-4217

First posted January 31, 2012 19:47:02

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Top seed Isner out of Memphis Open

Updated February 25, 2012 19:19:53

Top seeded American John Isner was sent crashing out of the Memphis Open after losing to Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) in their quarter-final match.

Isner, who hammered 48 aces in his first two matches in Memphis, fired 11 aces against Melzer in the 81-minute match at the indoor hardcourt tournament at The Racquet Club of Memphis.

Besides Melzer, hard-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, Czech Radek Stepanek and Benjamin Becker of Germany also reached the semi-finals.

In the tie-break, Melzer had a double fault to hand Isner a set point, but the Austrian battled back to win the final three points of the set.

Isner, who is ranked 13th in the world, also had two double faults and won just 67 per cent of his first-serve points.

Melzer won 80 per cent of his first-serve points, had seven aces and saved both of his break-point chances.

Third seeded Stepanek also cruised into the semis surviving a first-set tie-break then dominating the second set to beat Sam Querrey 7-6 (7-5), 6-0.

Stepanek will face Melzer in the semi-finals.

Stepanek, who finished second here three years ago, posted four service breaks, compared to just one service break for the wild card and 2010 Memphis champion Querrey.

Fourth seed Raonic put on an impressive serving display, hammering 26 aces en route to a 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) win over Belgium's Olivier Rochus.

"I did a lot of things well today," Raonic said.

"I felt like their were a few games where I let up a little bit, but in the end of it there was not much I could do better.

"I just wish I could have kept the intensity up. I'm hitting better and I'm playing better tennis match by match. I'm creating my opportunities and taking care of my serve really well."

Raonic won 74 per cent of his first-serve points and had two double faults in the one hour and 23-minute encounter.

He will next meet Becker who defeated Poland's Lukasz Kubot 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) in a night session quarter-final match.

Raonic lost to American veteran Andy Roddick in last year's Memphis final and is coming off his second win of 2012 in San Jose last week.

The 21-year-old Canadian was virtually flawless on serve Friday.

Raonic, who has not lost a set since the Australian Open, is trying to win his first ATP 500 title. He now boasts a 14-1 record this season.

On the women's side of the draw, fourth seeded Marina Erakovic of New Zealand and Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson will meet in the final after winning their semi-final matches.

Erakovic outlasted Russia's Vera Dushevina 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 and Arvidsson eased past Alberta Brianti, of Italy, 6-3, 7-5.


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states

First posted February 25, 2012 19:16:28

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Tomic goes down in Memphis

Updated February 21, 2012 13:29:46

Australia's Bernard Tomic departed the ATP World Tour event in Memphis, going down in three sets to Croatian Ivan Dodig.

Tomic, the eighth seed, had two match points in the third but was unable to capitalise, eventually losing 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8).

In other round one results, American Donald Young beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (8-6).

In the women's draw, third seeded Czech Lucie Hradecka dominated Anna Tatishvili 6-3, 6-1 and fourth seeded Marina Erakovic of New Zealand came from behind to beat Sloane Stephens of United States 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.

Tags: sport, tennis, united-states

First posted February 21, 2012 13:29:46

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Paes, Stepanek halt doubles record bid

Updated January 29, 2012 00:14:19

Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek denied the Bryan brothers a record 12th men's grand slam doubles title on Saturday as they beat the American top seeds in straight sets in the Australian Open final.

The 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 victory was the first for India's Paes over American twins Bob and Mike Bryan in a final after five defeats in title matches, and means he completes a career grand slam of doubles titles.

Coming into the Australian Open the Indian doubles specialist had won 47 career doubles titles with 11 different partners, including one with Stepanek, who now claims his first grand slam doubles title.

"I know what this means for him (Paes) because this title was missing from his career grand slam, and I'm happy I can be by his side," Stepanek said.

The two danced around the court gleefully after their win, which comes on the day that Bob Bryan's wife is expecting their first baby.

"She's probably going to deliver tomorrow so thanks baby, thanks for holding it in for me," he said.

Serve dominated in the first set with just a single break point for each pairing and no breaks of serve, but unseeded Paes and Stepanek stepped up their game in the tie-break to take it 7-1.

The fired-up Indian-Czech pairing finally broke the Bryans' serve in the second game of the second set and looked like they would run away with the match.

The Americans, with 76 titles together, stopped the rot by holding in the fourth game but they could not reverse the momentum and were broken again to slip to a comprehensive defeat.

Paes and Stepanek, playing in just their fourth Tour-level event together, had lost to the Bryan brothers in straight sets in both their previous meetings.

The result means the Bryans remain on 11 titles, sharing the record for the number of men's titles in the open era with Australia's Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.


Tags: australian-open, tennis, sport, australia, vic, melbourne-3000

First posted January 28, 2012 23:47:19

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Stosur hits back in Doha

Updated February 16, 2012 08:55:06

Samantha Stosur gained a semblance of revenge for her shock Australian Open elimination, defeating Sorana Cirstea in the second round of the Qatar Open.

The Australian advanced with a tight 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory in a reversal of her shattering straight sets exit to the Romanian in the first round at Melbourne Park.

Cirstea had eliminated another Australian Jarmila Gajdosova in straight sets in the opening round.

Caroline Wozniacki - playing her first match since losing her world number one ranking - crashed out, squandering three match points in a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) defeat to Lucie Safarova.

There was also misery for defending champion Vera Zvonareva who quit with a hip injury midway through her second-round match against Romania's Monica Niculescu.

Czech left-hander Safarova saved three match points in the third set and played a superb tie-breaker to set up a third-round clash with Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, who defeated compatriot Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-4.

Wozniacki, seeded two but now ranked at four in the world, was deposed from the world top spot when she was knocked out of the Australian Open quarter-finals.

"I just want to get out of here (the media conference room). You don't want to stay when you lose a match like that," said Wozniacki.

"It's really disappointing but you have to move on," added the Dane, who was runner up twice in Doha - in the 2010 season-ending championships and last year's Qatar Open.

Safarova, who is 2-1 in career clashes with Wozniacki, said: "Unless you win the final point, the match is not over.

"I just wanted to keep fighting. It feels absolutely amazing," added the 25-year-old, who has won four titles on the WTA Tour.

There were no such problems, however, for newly-crowned world number one and Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka who cruised into the third round, beating Germany's Mona Barthel 6-1, 6-0.

The Belarussian top seed will take on Romania's Simona Halep.

Earlier, fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland thrashed Britain's Anne Keothavong 6-1, 6-2, while French fifth seed Marion Bartoli also had it easy, beating Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-2, 6-0.

Serb eighth seed Jelena Jankovic fell to Israeli Shahar Peer 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, while compatriot Ana Ivanovic also bowed out, losing 6-4, 6-4 to the Czech Republic's Petra Cetkovska.


Tags: tennis, sport, australia, qatar

First posted February 16, 2012 08:55:06

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Saville wins Open boys' final

Updated January 28, 2012 20:10:44

Luke Saville joined esteemed company when he won the Australian Open boys' title, and not just by collecting the trophy from Ken Rosewall.

Saville became a dual junior grand slam champion on Saturday, adding the Australian Open to last year's Wimbledon title and joining recent Australians of the calibre of Pat Cash and Bernard Tomic to win two boys' majors.

The 17-year-old South Australian beat Canada's Filip Peliwo 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena to go one better than last year, when he was defeated in the final by Czech Jiri Vesely.

After being presented with the trophy by Australian great Rosewall, the top seed told spectators that winning the final felt a "shitload" better than losing.

Saville, who hails from Cobdogla, a country town of just 232 people, admitted later he should probably have chosen his words more carefully.

"I'll probably regret saying that word, but it was just the heat of the moment. It was just raw emotion out there. I said what I thought," he said, adding that it could have been worse. "Lucky it wasn't the other word."

Saville, the world's top-ranked junior, cruised to the final with the loss of just one set, but he was pushed hard by the unseeded Canadian before eventually winning in exactly two hours.

Earlier, left-handed American Taylor Townsend was a surprise winner of the girls' title after beating fourth-seeded Russian Yulia Putintseva in three sets.

The 14th-seeded Townsend cruised through the first set but had to fight off a comeback from the Russian before winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Townsend, 15, secured the win despite making 44 unforced errors, balanced by her 36 winners.

Saville is now on the lookout for a wildcard into Wimbledon's main draw, but knows defending his junior title will be his main focus.

"The junior tournament is the second week, so unless I'm in the quarters of the men's, I'm pretty sure I'll be playing juniors," he said.

"But of course I'll put my hand up for a wildcard. It's obviously going to be an awesome experience if I get a wildcard into the men's, but that's a long way away.

"Obviously I'd love to play main draw there, but all I can do is try my best, get my ranking up, put my hand up. If they want to give me a wildcard, then awesome."

With a current world ranking of 1,177, success on the Futures circuit and a win or two at Challenger tournaments between now and June are essential if he is to justify a wildcard from the All England Club.

Saville says he cannot split his Wimbledon and Australian Open titles, but was satisfied by his ability to handle the pressure as top seed and local favourite to beat Peliwo.

"To stand up to that pressure and win the tournament, it's a massive relief, as well. So I can't really put one in front of the other," he said.

"It's almost relief to win it... it was almost shock at Wimbledon [and] here it's almost relief, different feelings but both feel just as good."


Tags: australian-open, tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, australia, adelaide-5000, sa, vic

First posted January 28, 2012 17:48:22

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Murray suffers another opening upset

Updated March 11, 2012 21:12:52

Andy Murray's makeover under the tutelage of new coach Ivan Lendl yielded a depressingly familiar result as he crashed out of his first match at Indian Wells for a second straight year.

Fourth-seeded Murray was overwhelmed by the unseeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, losing to the Spaniard 6-4, 6-2 in his second-round opener.

Murray was stunned in his opening match last year by unheralded American Donald Young.

The Scot was at a loss to explain the two crushingly early exits on the hardcourts in the California desert.

"I am going to have to go away and think about what happened," Murray said.

"He plays with a lot of spin. It felt like I was playing a match on clay court. I squandered so many chances."

Murray had four aces, but he made 34 unforced errors and hit just 17 winners in the one hour, 40 minute match.

Garcia-Lopez, who is ranked 92nd in the world, saved all seven of his break point chances and won 79 percent of his first serve points.

Garcia-Lopez advances to the third round where he will play American Ryan Harrison, a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 winner over Viktor Troicki.

Earlier in the week, Murray repeatedly said he felt good about his game.

He was fresh off a strong performance in Dubai where he beat world number one Novak Djokovic in the semis before losing to Roger Federer in the final.

To make matters worse for Murray he had two routine wins over Garcia-Lopez in their previous two meetings, including a 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 thrashing at the 2011 Aussie Open.

"I am not sure what happened tonight," Murray said.

"I was coming back to the locker room and you are thinking. 'Why did it happen?' Last year it was a lot easier for me to look at it and know why."

Murray was trying build on a successful 2011 season where he won five times and reached the final of the Australian Open and made the semis at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

His first major move of 2012 was hiring eight-time grand slam champion Lendl as his coach.

"I felt fresh," Murray said.

"It wasn't like I was moving badly," he said.

"There is obviously a reason behind why I didn't play well. I'll find that reason and address it."


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states, scotland, united-kingdom

First posted March 11, 2012 20:00:18

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Spaniards to contest Buenos Aires final

Updated February 26, 2012 15:00:58

World number five David Ferrer overwhelmed local favourite David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-4 and will face holder Nicolas Almagro in an all-Spanish Buenos Aires Open final.

Number two seed Almagro beat Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the first semi-final before top seed Ferrer's crushing victory, which included a rain delay, in the claycourt tournament in windy conditions.

Ferrer, runner-up two years ago, was always in control against former world number three Nalbandian, who was looking to boost his ranking from his current 85th place in a bid to qualify for the London Olympic Games.

The Spaniard, who has yet to drop a set in the tournament, won on his third match point after Nalbandian had saved two when 3-5 down in the previous game.

Almagro, pushed all the way by Wawrinka in a very even duel, won on his first match point when the Swiss sixth seed's forehand return found the net.


Tags: tennis, sport, argentina

First posted February 26, 2012 15:00:58

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Matosevic wins Delray Beach opener

Updated February 29, 2012 11:11:40

Australia's Marinko Matosevic upset Croatian Ivo Karlovic in the opening round of the Delray Beach International.

Matosevic triumphed 6-3, 6-4 to move through to the second round and he joins fellow Australian Bernard Tomic, who beat German veteran Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3.

Tomic, the tournament's eighth seed, will next meet American Tim Smyczek, who dispensed of Austria's Juergen Melzer 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.

Other first-round winners included top seed John Isner, but Finn Jarkko Nieminen ousted Croatian second seed Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 and Belgian Steve Darcis eliminated Serbian third seed Viktor Troicki 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states

First posted February 29, 2012 10:16:40

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PM seeks advice over Optus copyright ruling

Updated February 08, 2012 14:42:47

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the Federal Government is getting urgent legal advice on whether it needs to make changes to copyright laws.

The Federal Court has ruled Optus is not breaching copyright by allowing customers to watch sporting matches shown on free-to-air TV on a short delay through its mobile TV Now service.

Media analysts says the ruling makes multi-million-dollar exclusive rights deals worthless.

Telstra has exclusive online broadcast rights for both the AFL and NRL, and its latest online deal with the AFL for the 2012-16 seasons cost the telco $153 million.

NRL chief executive David Gallop, his AFL counterpart Andrew Demetriou, Cricket Australia's James Sutherland, Tennis Australia's Steve Wood and the head of lobby group the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports, Malcolm Speed, met government ministers on Tuesday.

They discussed the ramifications of the ruling and measures to protect their rights under the Copyright Act with Ms Gillard, Sports Minister Mark Arbib, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.

"What's a matter for us is considering whether or not there needs to be changes to the copyright laws in view of these circumstances," Ms Gillard said.

"We have said to them - and I'm very happy to say publicly - that we will urgently consider options here."

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says any law changes need to be specific.

"We have got to be very careful that the amendments are not so broadly worded they have impacts on other activities," he said.

"What they need to do is focus... on language that is very narrow and very specific to the particular issue at hand."

Gallop says the sporting bodies have an urgent need for the Government to introduce new laws.

"A relatively simple amendment to the Copyright Act will fix it," he told ABC News 24's Grandstand program.

"We are talking about something that could seriously devalue our rights.

"You have effectively got an asset of the sports, which is the copyright in our content - something we consider to be valuable in our balance sheet, and it has ended up in the somebody else's balance sheet in Optus."

The ruling could seriously reduce the NRL's next television deal as the code prepares to renegotiate its broadcasting rights.

The current deal ends at the end of this year, with the NRL's administrators, clubs and players all awaiting the new broadcasting rights arrangements for how much cash the code has for the following years.

Gallop, who was coy on the money value the NRL would be seeking, said the ruling by the Federal Court has a "knock-on" effect to the rest of a sport's broadcasting product.

"You can talk about it in terms of the mobile and internet rights, but it has a knock-on impact across all the exclusivities that sports are seeking across the platforms," he said.

"It will impact across the whole negotiations if we don't get it fixed."


Tags: information-and-communication, broadcasting, television-broadcasting, business-economics-and-finance, industry, telecommunications, copyright, government-and-politics, federal-government, australian-football-league, sport, cricket, rugby-league, nrl, tennis, australia

First posted February 08, 2012 14:35:06

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Radwanska claims Dubai crown

Updated February 26, 2012 08:18:46

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska signalled herself as a growing threat on Saturday when she clinched her eighth career title courtesy of a 7-5, 6-4 win over Germany's Julia Goerges in the final of the Dubai Open.

The 22-year-old's win underlined her as one of the game's cleverest players, her subtle changes of pace and direction luring her more powerful opponent into self-destruction.

Goerges nevertheless did well enough, during a week in which she also beat former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, to suggest that her flat-hitting, net-attacking game may play a more prominent role in future.

"I had to play my best to beat her," said Radwanska, who has lost only to world number one Victoria Azarenka this year. "She hits so well it is hard to see the ball.

"But I try to be calm, because, if you're not, everything gets worse. I'm happy to have been playing great tennis at the start of this year. I just hope I can play this tennis the rest of the year."

There were two moments when the match might have taken a different course.

One came towards the end of the first set when a Goerges break-back threatened to develop into dangerous momentum, and the other happened when a Hawkeye decision went against her, preventing her reaching break point at the start of the second set.

After Goerges recovered from a bad start and went from 2-4 to 5-4 she would also have reached 6-5, motoring well, had she converted any of her four game points in the 12th game.

But Radwanska skilfully denied her all four of them, and at break point down Goerges reached a decent position at the net, only to volley wide.

Goerges also began the second set encouragingly and thought she had earned a chance to reach 2-0 when at deuce a line judge called Radwanska's inside-out drive wide.

But the Pole demanded a video replay which showed the ball catching the outside of the line as it slithered into the tramlines.

Perhaps the disappointment affected the unseeded player, for Goerges dropped serve in the next game and was never quite able to repair the damage.

Radwanska held serve all through the second set, weaving attractive ground stroke patterns behind mostly well-placed deliveries, and sturdily surviving a break back point at 30-40 in the final game.

The closeness of that finish suggested Goerges is capable of improving on the career-best ranking of 16 which she will achieve next week, and perhaps of pushing into the top ten.

One of her improvements is in her mind.

"When something didn't go in the direction I wanted to, it really used to affect me mentally," Goerges admitted. "Now I try to get out of it and take the challenge."

The week also saw Radwanska score her 300th win on tour, beat Jelena Jankovic, the former world number one from Serbia in the semi-finals, and earn her biggest pay packet, $417,686.


Tags: sport, tennis, united-arab-emirates

First posted February 26, 2012 08:15:40

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Stosur exits Indian Wells

Updated March 13, 2012 17:06:48

US Open champion Sam Stosur made a premature exit at the Indian Wells WTA tournament on Tuesday (AEDT).

Sixth-seeded Stosur lost a see-sawing third round encounter with Russian Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-7, 7-6 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, before Sharapova finally wrapped up a 6-3, 6-4 win against Romania's Simona Halep on the fifth match point.

Australian Stosur was broken by Petrova when serving for the match at 6-5 in the third set and the Russian capitalised by holding her serve and sealing a hard-fought victory 7-5 in the tiebreak.

Stosur had been swept aside by her big-serving opponent in the opening set and then saved one match point in the second set tiebreak before clawing her way back to level the match.

Petrova, beaten 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 by Stosur at last year's US Open in the tournament's longest women's match of the tie-break era, squealed with delight after the Australian pushed a forehand wide to end an encounter lasting nearly three hours.

"I am very excited to be back," a beaming Petrova said in a courtside interview after beating Stosur for the fifth time in seven meetings.

"This is only my third win of the year and you could see it when I was just about to close the match. I was a bit tentative.

"My serve was working incredibly (well) until the end of the second set," added the Russian, who fired down 15 aces in the match. "At the end, it was just spot on."

Petrova, who raised both arms skywards to celebrate her fifth successive appearance in the fourth round at Indian Wells, was delighted to gain a measure of revenge for her defeat at last year's US Open.

New York turnaround

"After that loss in New York it's been hard," said the 29-year-old Russian, a winner of 10 WTA Tour titles. "I wanted to turn everything around. I wanted to win and walk off the court with a 'W'.

"It was a tough battle in the third set, and I was really pumped when I broke her at 6-5. When she was serving for the match. I was pumped. I knew this was my time to win the match."

The Russian, once ranked as high as third in the world but has now slipped to 33rd, will next meet compatriot Maria Kirilenko, who beat Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Sharapova, the 2006 champion, led Halep 6-3 and 5-0 before inexplicably losing her way. The Romanian held for 1-5 and the Russian then squandered three match points on serve before being broken in the seventh and ninth games.

After several protracted baseline rallies punctuated by squeals and grunts by both players, Sharapova finally sealed victory on her fifth match point when Halep netted a backhand.

"I started rushing and playing long in the second set," said Sharapova, who will next face Italy's Roberta Vinci, a 6-7, 6-0, 6-4 winner against Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova. "Things weren't going my way and it was really tough but I pulled through."

In other matches, seventh-seed Marion Bartoli of France pummeled South African Chanelle Scheepers 6-2, 6-0 and Czech Lucie Safarova advanced when former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone became another victim of the widespread viral infection at Indian Wells.

The 10th-seeded Schiavone, who won her only grand slam singles title at Roland Garros in 2010, withdrew because of a stomach virus when trailing Safarova 2-6.

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark is scheduled to play Swede Sofia Arvidsson in the third round later on Tuesday (AEDT).


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states

First posted March 13, 2012 08:14:23

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Woe for Federer as Swiss crash, Spain cruises

Updated February 12, 2012 08:34:01

Roger Federer suffered defeat for the second day in succession as United States completed a surprisingly comfortable victory over Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group first round in Fribourg on Saturday.

Former world number one Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka needed to win the doubles to keep the tie alive after Friday's two singles went to the US but after a good start the Swiss pair lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan.

It was payback time for Fish who suffered two heartbreaking defeats in marathon matches in last year's quarter-finals against Spain's Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer.

"It feels pretty good to win," Fish said.

"I certainly know what it's like to lose and it's not a great feeling.

"This guy is the greatest doubles player of all time and I'm just trying to play my part."

Holder Spain joined the Americans in the quarter-finals as they moved 3-0 ahead against Kazakhstan in Oviedo to give new captain Alex Corretja a pleasing start in the absence of Ferrer and Rafa Nadal.

Last year's runner-up Argentina and Czech Republic also moved smoothly through with a day to spare against Germany and Italy respectively.

Japan has an uphill battle in its first World Group tie for 26 years, 2-1 down at home to Croatia.

Nikolay Davydenko and Mikhail Youzhny kept Russia alive in their tie in Austria with victory in Saturday's doubles meaning the visitors now trail 2-1.

Federer has never won the Davis Cup and will have to wait at least another year to fill in one of the few blanks on his CV after a humbling couple of days in front of his home fans.

Having lost to big-serving world number 17 John Isner on Friday, Olympic doubles champions Federer and Wawrinka were well beaten by Fish and Bryan as the Americans, winners of the team competition a record 32 times, swept to victory.

"I thought we actually played pretty well," Federer said.

"It was again a high standard from both sides with not much between us.

"We had our chances but maybe they were a touch better than us and that shows in the score. We played well for a long time but we had a couple of games when we struggled a bit too much."

United States next plays Canada or France, which are level 1-1 in their tie.

Spain captain Corretja was unable to call on any of the four players who beat Argentina in last year's final against the Kazakhs but his country's unrivalled strength in depth was again in evidence.

Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez needed less than two hours to beat Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 on Saturday after singles wins for Nicolas Almagro and Juan Carlos Ferrero on Friday had effectively put the tie beyond the Kazakhs.

"It was spectacular the way they worked together," Corretja said after Spain's 22nd consecutive home victory in the Davis Cup.

"Marcel is like a cat at the net and Marc has played some phenomenal strokes."

Argentine doubles pair David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank produced a stunning comeback from two sets down to kill off any hopes of a German fightback in Bamberg, beating Tommy Haas and Philipp Petzschner 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 to give the South Americans a 3-0 advantage.

After two hard-fought singles on Friday, the Czechs cruised into the quarter-finals with Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek crushing Italian duo Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace 6-3 6-4 6-2.

The Czechs will have to wait until Sunday to discover who they face in the last eight after Sweden managed to take their tie against 2010 champions Serbia into the third day.

Johan Brunstrom and Robert Lindstedt battled for more than four hours to beat Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 10-8.

The Serbs, 2-1 up, should still clinch the tie on Sunday when world number nine Tipsarevic takes on 348th-ranked Michael Ryderstedt in the first reverse singles.

Japan must win both Sunday's singles against Croatia after Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita were beaten by Ivan Dodig and Ivo Karlovic in Saturday's doubles tie in Hyogo.

Japanese number one Kei Nishikori meets Dodig on Sunday hoping to redeem himself after a disappointing defeat by Karlovic on Friday.


Tags: tennis, sport, switzerland

First posted February 12, 2012 08:34:01

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Stosur into Qatar final four

Updated February 18, 2012 08:44:29

Samantha Stosur staved off a determined comeback by Romania's Monica Niculescu to book a spot in the final four at the Qatar Open.

The Australian third seed advanced to her first semi-final of the year with the 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win.

Stosur, the reigning US Open champion, won in a little short of two hours after totally losing her momentum in the second set and surviving a tough spell in the third when Niculescu took three games in a row to level at 3-3.

Niculescu had a wonderful opportunity to break Stosur in the seventh game when she was leading 30-0, but sent an easy volley long after a lengthy rally to give the Australian the opening she was looking for.

World number one Victoria Azarenka won her 15th consecutive match of the season to also make the semi-finals, a year after she almost quit the sport.

The Belarusian star defeated Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-0, 6-4 to stay on course for a third title this year, after victories at Sydney and the Australian Open.

Azarenka lost in the first round to Daniela Hantuchova in Doha last year, and after another lacklustre show in Dubai, where she was beaten by Flavio Pennetta, she had become so demoralised that she even considered quitting the sport for good.

"Last year by this time I was a little bit of a mess. I couldn't control any of my emotions, and I didn't really enjoy playing tennis," she added.

"I lost a really, really bad match here and a few before that. It was just not fun for me to do, because I'm the type of player that plays with a lot of passion, a lot of desire.

"Every time I was stepping on the court, it was a misery to me. So I just told my mom, I don't want to play anymore because it's not fun.

"She's like 'You know what? I think maybe you're tired, you're burned out. Just come home and see what happens'.

"And then a few long talks with my grandmother and I kinda bounced back. I realised there are more important things in life than just losing a tennis match."

France's Marion Bartoli defeated in-form Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

Bartoli ended Safarova's giant-killing run, but not before conceding the second set, and gave credit to her fitness.

"The turning point was my fitness," the Frenchwoman said.

"I was fitter than her and that helped me win the match."

Safarova had knocked out former world number one Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the last eight.

In the night match, fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland thrashed Christina McHale of the United States 6-1, 6-1 to set up a semi-final clash with Azarenka.

The other semi-final will be played between Stosur and Bartoli.


Tags: tennis, sport, qatar, australia

First posted February 18, 2012 08:44:29

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Raonic, Melzer advance to Memphis final

Updated February 26, 2012 15:15:11

Red-hot Milos Raonic booked a finals showdown with Austrian Jurgen Melzer on Saturday at the Memphis Open.

Canada's Raonic, seeking a third ATP title of the year, subdued Germany's Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes.

Melzer, meanwhile, defeated Czech third seed Radek Stepanek 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Women's action wrapped up as Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson notched her second career title - and her second in Memphis - with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over fourth-seeded Marina Erakovic of New Zealand.

Arvidsson shook off a sluggish start to polish off the victory in one hour and 24 minutes, lifting the title six years after she won her only previous WTA Tour trophy at the same venue in 2006.

"I think I'm going to buy a house here," said Arvidsson, who also reached the Memphis final in 2010.

"I just love to play here."

Raonic, 21, won his ninth straight match and says he feels he is improving with every contest.

"I feel like I'm not stalling at any point," he said.

"I'm constantly getting better throughout the matches. That's very encouraging. It's something fun to build off of."

Raonic, seeded fourth, fired 14 aces past Becker and never faced a break point as he stayed on course to add to the titles he has won this year in San Jose and Chennai.

The Canadian, who has won 19 successive sets since he fell to Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the Australian Open, converted both of his break opportunities.

"I felt in the beginning, he started well, especially serving. But I was able to get close in the games, and that put a little pressure on him," Raonic said.

Melzer, who upset US top seed John Isner in the quarter-finals, is delighted to find himself in the final.

"I've played a great tournament thus far," he said.

"Reaching a final is something special. I haven't played a final since 2010."


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states

First posted February 26, 2012 15:15:11

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'No limits' says victorious Azarenka

Updated January 30, 2012 08:16:45

Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has warned there are no limits to what she could achieve after destroying Maria Sharapova in the final.

Playing in the first grand slam title match of her career, the 22-year-old from Belarus showed nerves of steel to demolish 2008 champion Sharapova 6-3, 6-0 in one hour and 22 minutes and immediately set her sights on the rest of the year.

"It's going to be a long year. It's going to be a lot of matches. I just want to keep improving," the new world number one said.

"I feel like there is no limit really."

After making a slow start and going 2-0 down, the Belarusian won 12 of the next 13 games to sweep to the title with Sharapova unable to respond.

"It's a dream come true, you know. I have been dreaming and working so hard to win a grand slam, and being number one is a pretty good bonus," said Azarenka, who replaces Caroline Wozniacki as world number one on Monday.

Azarenka dominated Sharapova by stepping up to the baseline and taking the ball early, pressuring the Russian into making a host of uncharacteristic errors.

She outplayed Sharapova in all departments, matching the Russian's power from the back of the court and volleying confidently.

"Today I didn't think going into the match that I had to play perfect. I just had to play better than my opponent," she said.

"The first two games were a little bit of a disaster, but then I kind of got the momentum going.

"I relaxed and I started focusing on the moment on each point, you know, trying to do whatever it takes to win that point."

Despite appearing ice cool on the outside, Azarenka admitted she had been a bundle of nerves before the final.

"I was super nervous, I couldn't wait to actually go on the court and play," she said.

"It was a long wait, you know. I was like, OK, I'm ready to go. I'm ready to go. When is it coming? When is it coming? What time is it?

"I just think I really handled the situation well after that little slack period in the beginning."

"She really started aggressively," Azarenka added.

"It kind of kept me a little bit off guard, because I tried to be aggressive myself and it didn't really work. I missed a few shots.

"But I'm glad I could stay humble and just take it one at a time. Just keep fighting, keep fighting, and changing the momentum."

Staying positive

Sharapova insisted the best was still ahead of her despite the devastating defeat.

"She did everything better than I did today. I had a good first couple of games, and that was about it," Sharapova said bluntly.

"Obviously to get to the final is a good achievement, but to end up being the one that loses is always tough, no matter what sport you're in.

"But I'm proud of the fact that I made it this far. It's been a few years since I've been in the finals of the Australian Open.

"It's a good start to the year for me. I have a lot to look forward to this year."

Sharapova won the last of her three grand slams in Melbourne in 2008, before shoulder surgery later that year knocked her out of the sport for nine months and set her career back on its heels.

"It's frustrating, but I have a pretty good head on my shoulders in terms of having a good perspective on sport and life," she said.

"And as hard as it is and as much as you want to be the champion, there's only one.

"That's why the feeling is so special when you do achieve that. That's why the work is so hard and extreme.

"That's why the pleasure that you get and the excitement is what you work for, because you know how special it is."


Tags: sport, tennis, australian-open, australia, vic, melbourne-3000

First posted January 29, 2012 12:12:35

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Murray defeats Djokovic in Dubai

Updated March 03, 2012 15:37:43

Andy Murray defeated world number one Novak Djokovic 6-2, 7-5 to reach the final of the ATP Tour's Dubai Open, where he will meet Roger Federer in the title match.

It was Djokovic's first defeat of the season after picking up his fifth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open where he had beaten Murray in a thrilling five-set semi-final.

Federer beat Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6) in his semi-final with the Swiss great saving four set points in the second set tie-break.

Sunday's match (AEDT) will be Federer's 102nd career final where he will also get the chance of extending his record of Dubai Open titles to five at his second home.

Federer scored his third win this year over the dangerous Del Potro, who returned to the world's top 10 last month for the first time since wrist surgery in 2010 consigned him to a ranking close to 500.

But it required Federer to make a fine comeback in the second set tie-break, in which he was 2-6 down with four set points against him before producing a wonderful six-point streak to close the match out.

"I hung in there and I thought I played a good match," said Federer. "He almost pulled the first set 'breaker back from 2-6, and there was little between us tonight. I just fought well and got a little lucky.

"It's good to see Juan back and it's good to be in another final. It's also nice to play again against Andy as I don't think we played at all last year."

The earlier semi-final was an unpredictable match, with two or three surprising twists and turns, and with Djokovic attacking the net far more than usual, but Murray the better server and more consistent player.

"It's obviously great any time you beat the world number one," Murray said. "I just tried to do some of the same things I did in Australia.

"I was very close there against one of the greatest players ever, and today I did what I needed to - even though it nearly got away from me at the end."

Djokovic said he had simply lost to the better player on the day.

"But generally I feel good, physically, mentally, you know. It's just the start of the season. You know, there are some 1000 events (Indian Wells and Miami) coming up which are really important, and I need to get ready."


Tags: sport, tennis, united-arab-emirates

First posted March 03, 2012 09:20:51

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Tomic disappointed at car controversy

Updated February 07, 2012 21:11:33

Teenage Australian tennis star Bernard Tomic says he is disappointed to have been caught up in another controversy involving his high-powered, bright orange sports car, and he plans to sell it.

The 19-year-old is due to face court next week after being charged with two traffic offences following a recent stand-off with police outside his home.

He was fined twice in the space of an hour driving his BMW M3 just days after being knocked out of the Australian Open by Roger Federer last month, and police allege he refused to stop when asked to pull over a third time.

"It's a bit disappointing, but what can you do?" Tomic said in Geelong where he is preparing for Australia's upcoming Davis Cup tie against China.

"That's life and that's what you get thrown at you. It's all gone now - I'm playing tennis and sooner or later I'll be out of the country.

"It happened for a reason, it happened and there's nothing I can do about it," he said, adding that he has decided to sell the car at auction.

With the court case on February 14, Tomic has pulled out of the ATP tournament in San Jose beginning a day earlier.

"I pulled out for my reasons," he said. "It's too late, it's too hard to travel after Sunday to get to the tournament."

Tomic, who began his 2012 season by claiming his first senior title at the Kooyong Classic, will now begin his overseas campaign at the Memphis International from February 20.


Tags: tennis, sport, australia

First posted February 07, 2012 21:07:55

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Berdych beats Monfils for Montpellier title

Updated February 06, 2012 10:28:29

Czech Tomas Berdych claimed his seventh career title when he defeated local favourite Gael Monfils 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the final of the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

World number seven Berdych had too much pace for Frenchman Monfils and prevailed in two hours five minutes.

"It was a great three sets, it was very close and I'm happy I was able to do it," top seed Berdych told French TV channel Canal Plus Sport.

"He is a great player, he knows how to fight on court, but I knew that and I was ready for it."

Monfils, who was the defending champion, admitted the better player had won.

"I tried to return his serves better, to be more aggressive but it is not easy when he steps on to the court," he said.

Berdych took the first set easily but world number 13 Montfils started to move much better in the second.

He opened up a 3-1 lead and although the Czech threatened to level in the eighth game, Monfils held serve to send the match into a decider.

Monfils saw off two break points in the eighth game but conceded the third to let Berdych serve for the match.

The Czech duly delivered, wrapping it up on his first match point with a backhand winner.


Tags: tennis, sport, france, czech-republic

First posted February 06, 2012 10:28:29

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Melzer stops Raonic to win Memphis title

Updated February 27, 2012 10:59:19

Unseeded Jurgen Melzer defeated Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) in the final of the $1.28 million ATP Memphis Open to capture his fourth career title.

It was the second year in a row the fourth-seeded Canadian Raonic lost in the Memphis final after winning the week before in San Jose.

Melzer, who upset top seed John Isner and third seed Radek Stepanek en route to the final, clinched Sunday's victory in a second set tie-break when Raonic hammered a backhand into the net.

Melzer broke Raonic's mighty serve in the seventh game of the second set to cut Raonic's lead to 4-3. Melzer then survived a set point in the 10th game before both players held serve to set up the tie-break.

Melzer also broke Raonic's serve in the 11th game of the first set to take a 6-5 lead. He ended the 41-minute opening set with an ace out wide on his second set point that Raonic could not reach with his backhand.

By taking the first set, Melzner snapped Raonic's 2012 win streak at 19 consecutive sets. Raonic had not lost a set since he fell to Aussie Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the Australia Open in January.

The left-handed Austrian earned $260,000 in prize money for his first win since successfully defending his crown in his hometown of Vienna two years ago.

It was the first career meeting between the Canadian rising star and the 14-year veteran Melzer, who was playing with a broken toe suffered in his hotel when he first arrived in Memphis.

Melzer now has a 4-7 career record in finals and also won his first title on US soil after finishing runner-up in his previous three attempts.

Raonic, who lost in last year's final to American veteran Andy Roddick, came into Sunday's final riding a nine-match win streak and was seeking to add the Memphis crown to titles he already won this year in San Jose and Chennai.


Tags: sport, tennis, united-states

First posted February 27, 2012 10:59:19

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Dokic pulls out at Indian Wells

Updated March 09, 2012 17:39:55

Australian Jelena Dokic lasted just nine minutes in her opening-round match at Indian Wells before withdrawing due to a wrist injury.

Her withdrawal sent Argentine opponent Gisela Dulko straight through to a second-round match-up with number two seed Maria Sharapova.

In the men's draw Australian Matthew Ebden triumphed 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in his opening match against Russian Igor Kunitsyn.

Elsewhere wildcard Sam Querrey defeated fellow American Tim Smyczek 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, Poland's Lukasz Kubot beat Ivo Karlovic, of Croatia, 6-4, 6-2 and Italy's Andreas Seppi rallied to defeat Olivier Rochus, of Belgium 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Irina Falconi and Johanna Larsson also advanced to the women's second round thanks to opponents retiring injured.

Sweden's Larsson was 4-1 ahead in the first set when qualifier Greta Arn of Hungary retired from their match with a neck injury.

Larsson will face former world number one Ana Ivanovic, who is seeded 15th, in the next round.

Arn reached the third round of the Australian Open and the semi-finals in Monterrey, Mexico, last month, where she lost to Romania's Alexandra Cadantu.

American wildcard Falconi advanced after Alexandra Dulgheru withdrew from their match with a right knee injury.

Dulgheru won the first set 6-4 and was trailing 5-2 in the second when she pulled the plug.

Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson swept past Eleni Daniilidou of Greece in her opening match 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

The 28-year-old Arvidsson kept her unforced errors down to a minimum and won 65 per cent of her second serve points in the one hour, 55 minute match.


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states

First posted March 09, 2012 17:39:55

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GP boss hits out at Australian Open

Updated February 03, 2012 06:49:13

While Australian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker is confident Melbourne will retain the Formula One race beyond 2015 he has taken a swipe at the massive public funding poured into the Australian Open tennis tournament.

Walker said the Open - the country's only other truly global sporting event - escaped criticism due to public perception of it as wholesome and family-friendly.

But he said the often criticised Formula One subsidies needed to be viewed in terms of how much money tennis received from the Victorian Government and the comparative global audiences the two events attracted.

"When you think there's over $1 billion invested in tennis equipment at Melbourne Park and there's a debt service on that of almost $100 million I think the Grand Prix serves Australia very well," Walker said.

The grand prix would cost around $55 million in government money this year, according to Walker, but it was on "a very good footing" for renegotiating the contract which would begin next year.

He said that tennis tended to fly under the radar when the issue of government backing surfaced.

"The grand prix looks expensive but so is the tennis," he said.

"We've never had the debate about the tennis before. They have committed another $368 million to keep it until 2036.

"There's already $1 billion been spent down there but people don't talk about that."

According to Walker, tennis' worldwide television audience were mainly cable viewers while the F1 race was on free-to-air TV in many countries.

He said the decision whether to bid for an extension for the race beyond 2015 was "entirely" up to Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu.

"If he thinks it's good for the state he'll renew it, if he doesn't, he won't," he said.

But he said the government understood the importance of the grand prix in attracting the attention needed to bring even bigger events to Australia.

"If you lose the grand prix you'll never get something back of that size for 20 years," he said.

"We'll never see another Olympics, we'll never see another Commonwealth Games, we won't see World Cup soccer."


Tags: formula-1, motor-sports, australian-open, tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted February 02, 2012 21:53:00

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Nadal 'happy' with Open defeat

Updated January 30, 2012 07:12:07

Rafael Nadal says the Australian Open final was one of the best losses of his career after he went down fighting in an almost six-hour epic against Novak Djokovic.

In a dramatic finale to the year's first major, Djokovic outlasted Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5 in five hours and 53 minutes, the longest grand slam final in history.

The match started on Sunday evening and finished in the early hours of Monday morning as the world's two best players battled to a standstill in front of a disbelieving crowd.

"Physically it was the toughest match I ever played," Nadal said.

"I think we played a great tennis match. It was I think a very good show in my opinion.

"I enjoyed being part of this event and this match. That's the truth.

"I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. I had my chances against the best player in the world today."

Nadal says he is pleased he had been able to match Djokovic physically and mentally, something he had not been able to do in 2011 when the Serb beat him six times in succession.

"I didn't play at a lower level than him for a long time (tonight), so that's a very positive thing for me," he said.

"I am very happy about my mentality tonight."

The Spaniard was also upbeat about his performance throughout the entire tournament, saying it bodes well for a successful 2012.

"[I'm] very happy with my level during both weeks. I realise the whole tournament I did well. I did a lot of very positive things, much more than in 2011 for most of the time," he said.

"I played more aggressive. I played more winners than ever. My serve worked well. The mentality and the passion were there [better than ever].

"So that's very positive aspects on the whole game. So I just lost the final of a grand slam.

"I am not happy to lose the final, yes, but that's one of the losses that I am happy with in my career."

Nadal's defeat in Melbourne was in stark contrast to his classic five-set win over Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2008, when the Spaniard won 9-7 in the fifth set.

"For me it was a little bit more special in 2008," he said with a smile.

"But I really understand that this was a really special match, and probably a match that's going to be in my mind, not because I lost, no, because the way that we played."

Fighting spirit

After appearing out for the count after the third set, Nadal somehow came back to win the fourth and then opened a 4-2 lead in the fifth.

He then had a simple backhand passing shot that would have taken him to 40-15 and on the verge of 5-2, but he missed and Djokovic broke back.

"It's true I had a big mistake with 30-15, but it's not the moment to think about that," Nadal said.

"That's just another moment in an almost six-hour match. Forget about that, knowing that I had very real chances to have the title and to win against a player who I lost to six times last year.

"I never put him in this situation during 2011, so that's another positive thing for me. I didn't have mental problems today against him.

"So that's another positive thing. I've probably never said that many positive things after I lose."


Tags: tennis, sport, australian-open, melbourne-3000

First posted January 30, 2012 07:06:58

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Radwanska 'angry' with Azarenka

Updated February 24, 2012 07:19:46

World number six Agnieszka Radwanska has launched a verbal attack on Victoria Azarenka, the world's leading female player, after reaching the semi-finals of the Dubai Open.

The 22-year-old Pole said she was "angry" and had lost respect for the superbly in-form Belarussian, alleging that Azarenka's behaviour in Doha last week had not been good for the image of the game.

Radwanska appeared to be referring to Azarenka's hobbling and wincing between rallies during parts of their semi-final match, whilst still moving well enough during the rallies to secure a solid straight sets win.

It follows Radwanska's criticisms of grunting in the women's game last month after losing to Azarenka in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Radwanska's latest comments came when she was asked in a news conference in Dubai on Thursday whether she had been annoyed at the end of last week's loss in Doha.

She replied: "Well, to be honest, I don't think this is worth a comment. But I think after this match ... just lost a lot of respect. That's it.

"If you do this in the match, if anyone didn't see the match, I think it's just a quick look on YouTube and you'll know what was going on," she continued.

The questioner responded by saying that he had not been seeking for Radwanska to criticise another player, but she continued anyway.

"Yeah, I was angry because I don't think this is the great image for the women's tennis, what was going on there," she added. "So, yeah, unfortunately."

YouTube clips show Radwanska offering a peremptory handshake to Azarenka with no eye contact at the end of the match, and include a TV commentator saying that Azarenka's behaviour had affected her opponent's focus.

However Azarenka contention that her ankle had been painful was lent weight by her decision on Wednesday to withdraw from the Dubai Open to allow more time for it to heal.

Radwanska's critical remarks in Australia came after a three-set loss to Azarenka, whose hooting and shrieking while striking the ball has been attracting criticism for some time.

Though Radwanska suggested she had got used to this, she nevertheless used post-match interviews after her loss to Azarenka to criticise Maria Sharapova's shriek. She described this as "pretty annoying" and "just too loud".

"Of course everybody can make some noise. This is tennis," Radwanska said.

"But I think it's just too loud. I don't think it's very necessary to scream that loud. So if they (the WTA) want to do something, why not?"

During some of Azarenka's matches in Melbourne, spectators mimicked her noise, and the host broadcaster, Channel 7, produced a "Whoo! meter" to measure it.

Although Radwanska is at career-high ranking, she is more than 2,000 points behind Sharapova, who is number two in the world, and more than 3,700 behind Azarenka at number one.

However Radwanska can climb one place to number five, above US Open champion Sam Stosur, if she wins the Dubai Open title this week. On Friday she plays Jelena Jankovic, the former world number one from Serbia in the semi-finals.


Tags: sport, tennis, united-arab-emirates

First posted February 24, 2012 07:16:17

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Gajdosova stands tall for Fed Cup win

Updated February 06, 2012 10:59:38

Jarmila Gajdosova made amends for her opening day defeat by securing a nail-biting win in the reverse singles as Australia trumped Switzerland 4-1 in the Fed Cup.

Following Samantha Stosur's second straight sets victory in Fribourg, Gajdosova held her nerve to defeat world number 219 Amra Sadikovic 6-3, 3-6, 8-6 in two hours and 19 minutes.

Gajdosova's victory handed the tourists an unbeatable lead and Australia's doubles team of Casey Dellacqua and Jelena Dokic took out the dead rubber on the indoor clay court.

It was Gajdosova's second straight marathon match after losing an even longer contest to number 124 Stefanie Voegele on Saturday.

Australia will play one of the World Group first round losers in April for a berth in the elite eight-nation competition in 2013.

"I am happy to win the point that secures the ties for the team," Gajdosova.

"They showed faith in me and the team has been very supportive.

"The Fed Cup means a lot to me. I was so disappointed with my loss and shed a tear afterwards."

Stosur showed signs that she was emerging from her early season form slump by dismissing Voegele 6-3, 6-2 in just over an hour.

The US Open champion felt she was building some momentum following her disastrous home summer.

"It has boosted my confidence and it is exactly the way I wanted to play as soon as I got over here," she said.

"You want to win as many matches as possible to erase anything negative and it does not matter the opposition, it is always good to win."

Team captain David Taylor said that Gajdosova had repaid the faith put in her following her loss to the unheralded Voegele.

"You could not have written a better script for her redemption today after yesterday's defeat," he said.

"She was much better emotionally, she handled the crowd better and she handled the blows.

"She was serving at 5-3 for the match and played a poor game to lose the game.

"But she believed there would be another opportunity for her."

Taylor felt that Gajdosova's win could help turn around her ordinary start to the year.

"It is not easy playing against the crowd and you have your team on the sidelines and all the emotion and responsibility involved with that," he said.

"I think this win will give her a real shot in the arm."

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic took another step towards defending its Fed Cup title after a comprehensive victory over Germany, while Russia, Serbia and Italy also progressed to the last four.

The Czechs will play the Italians while Russia host Serbia in the semi-finals.

World number two Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic underlined her standing as one of the best female players on the planet when she fought back from a set down to win the first reverse singles against Sabine Lisicki 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-1.

Russian tennis star Svetlana Kuznetsova put her squad into the semi-finals by beating Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain in a tough three-setter in Moscow.

Two-time grand slam winner Kuznetsova beat Soler-Espinosa 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to give Russia an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Italy battled past Ukraine 3-2, overcoming the withdrawal through injury of Sara Errani, Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci overcoming Olga Savchuk and Lesia Tsurenko 7-5, 0-6, 6-1 in the decisive doubles rubber.

Serbia also posted a 3-2 win over Belgium, Bojana Jovanovski and Aleksandra Krunic producing the goods in their match-deciding game against Yanina Wickmayer and Alyson Van Uytvanck.

The Serb duo won a hard-fought contest 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-1.


Tags: tennis, sport, australia, switzerland

First posted February 06, 2012 07:52:50

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Ferrer beats Almagro for 13th title

Updated February 27, 2012 12:50:05

World number five David Ferrer claimed his 13th career title with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over fellow Spaniard and 2011 winner Nicolas Almagro in the Buenos Aires Open final on Monday morning (AEDT).

Top seed Ferrer, runner-up to compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2010, recovered from dropping his only set of the tournament to improve his head-to-head record against world number 11 Almagro to 9-0.

"I'm really happy, this was an account I had pending. This title is something very important to me," Ferrer said in a courtside interview.

"I'll be back, for sure," Ferrer told fans at the claycourt tournament at the Buenos Aires Lawn tennis Club, confirming he would return to defend the title next year.

Almagro, looking to repeat his back-to-back wins in Brazil and Argentina last year having retained his Brazil Open title in Sao Paulo last week, made the better start and broke Ferrer in the third game.

Serving for the set, the second seed found himself 40-15 down but worked his way back and took the game with his first set point, slamming down one of his 36 aces in the tournament.

Ferrer, who had the easier passage through the semi-finals after beating local favourite David Nalbandian 6-1, 6-4 on Saturday, gradually wrested control from Almagro after earning a break in the fourth game of the second set.

He broke again in the third and fifth games of the deciding set and won on his second match point when Almagro went wide with a backhand down the line.

The 29-year-old Ferrer said his experience had helped him through.

"With Nico they are always very physical matches. With the passing of the years one doesn't have that anxiety of youth," he said.

World number 11 Almagro, who has 11 titles all on clay, said Ferrer deserved his victory as the better player on the day.

"I played pretty well. Against another rival I might have won," the 26-year-old told a news conference.

"At no time did I lose my confidence in my tennis. This shows how well David is playing.

"I'm perfect physically. I work hard to be in good shape after difficult matches like yesterday's," added Almagro, who needed three sets to overcome Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the last four.

"(Ferrer) went up a gear and I couldn't counter that.


Tags: sport, tennis

First posted February 27, 2012 09:18:12

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Stosur seeks Fed Cup turnaround

Updated February 03, 2012 12:59:18

A refreshed Samantha Stosur aims to spark her faltering 2012 season into life in Australia's Fed Cup tie against Switzerland in frigid Fribourg this weekend.

The US Open champion had an unplanned break after her disappointing home summer - just one win from tournaments - ended in a first-round exit from the Australian Open.

After stumbling under the spotlight at her home grand slam, Stosur took a holiday on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula to clear her head.

The world number five said the break, spent fishing and bushwalking, had helped her shake off the blues following her shattering loss to Romania's Sorana Cirstea in Melbourne.

"I am not waking up every morning thinking about it," said Stosur from the Australian Fed Cup team camp in Fribourg.

"I have the opportunity to try to start playing well again.

"Until I start doing that, it is still going to be a bit of a fresh memory."

Stosur enjoyed watching the men's competition at the Australian Open from afar following her early exit.

She was less keen about watching as the likes of winner Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova made big inroads through the women's field.

"We are all competitors and you don't want to watch the others enjoying their success," she said. "It is not much fun."

Stosur's next match will be in very different circumstances to those over the past month.

She will swap sweltering summer conditions on hardcourts in Australia for a temporary indoor claycourt in Europe with the thermometer expected to dip as low as -18 degrees Celsius in Fribourg on Saturday.

Following former top-10 player Patty Schnyder's retirement last year, the Swiss team is without a player inside the top 100 for the World Group II tie.

World number 124 Stefanie Voegele, who has been as high as 63, is the top-ranked player in the Swiss team.

Stosur has nailed down one of Australia's singles positions with Fed Cup captain Dave Taylor taking his time to decide on his number two player.

He has world number 40 Jarmila Gajdosova, world number 67 Jelena Dokic and world number 126 Casey Casey Dellacqua to choose between.

For Australia to return to the elite eight-nation World Group next year, it must win this weekend and then defeat one of the World Group first round losers on April 21-22.

Australia dropped back to the Fed Cup's second-tier following losses to Italy and Ukraine last year.

Stosur, a 2010 French Open finalist, skipped the surprise home loss to Ukraine in 2011 to maintain her ranking and momentum before Roland Garros.

With a busy year ahead that is likely to include the London Olympics, the 27-year-old was not prepared to commit to a potential World Group play-off in April.

"I am not not going to play in it," she said.

"I would love to play if possible but we are not thinking any further ahead than this tie."

Australia has won four of its five Fed Cup ties against the Swiss and not lost an away tie since 2008.


Tags: sport, tennis, switzerland, australia

First posted February 03, 2012 12:59:18

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Matosevic denied in first ATP final

Updated March 05, 2012 13:50:07

Australia's Marinko Matosevic failed to win his first ATP tour final, losing to seventh-seed Kevin Anderson 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) at the Delray Beach International.

As the losing finalist, Matosevic moved up to 130 in the world and earned $36,000 prize money.

Matosevic, who was ranked 173 before the Florida event, struggled to deal with his opponent's big serve and failed to find consistency in his own service games.

The Melbourne-based player, who suffered cramp following his semi-final win on Saturday, admitted to feeling a little flat 24 hours later.

"My energy levels were pretty low," Matosevic said. "I just couldn't serve well today, but credit to Kevin. He was the better player today.

Although his run through qualifying to the final was impressive, Matosevic was clearly disappointed that he couldn't make the most of his chance.

"Before the week, if you told me that I'd make the final, I'd be the happiest guy in the world," he said.

"Then when you get there and you play the match - I feel like I was just a few points from winning the match or turning the match, but I just couldn't do it. It can only help me I guess."

Despite converting both of his break-point opportunities in the first stanza, Matosevic lost the set due to Anderson creating seven of his own, of which the South African secured three breaks of serve.

Anderson could not convert any of his eight break chances in the second set, but did not give any such opportunities to Matosevic and took control early in the tie-breaker to finish off the victory in just under two hours.

"Both of us were a little nervous at the start of match, so I had to find my rhythm," said Anderson, who saved three match points in a quarter-final victory over Andy Roddick, then defeated top-seeded John Isner in the semi-finals.

"I think at the end, I felt I was mentally composed throughout (the tournament). I didn't let any patches of bad tennis affect my mindset."


Tags: sport, tennis, united-states

First posted March 05, 2012 11:04:23

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Kvitova dumped out of Indian Wells

Updated March 12, 2012 14:46:27

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova became the highest seed to exit the Indian Wells WTA tournament after a 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 loss to American teenager Christina McHale in the third round.

The third-seeded Czech breezed through the opening set at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden but errors began creeping into her game and her 19-year-old opponent took control.

McHale, making her third appearance in the elite event, broke Kvitova in the fourth game of the final set and again in the eighth when the Czech finished with successive double faults.

Serving for the match at 5-3, McHale burst into a 40-0 lead and then sealed victory at the first opportunity, ending a lengthy rally with a delicate sliced backhand into the front court.

Meanwhile, Men's third seed Roger Federer defeated wild card Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-1 in the second round of the ATP/WTA Indian Wells tournament on Sunday.

Federer hammered eight aces and won 79 percent of his first serve points in the 57 minute night match on centre court.

Federer advances to the third round where he will face Canadian Milos Raonic, who beat Carlos Berlocq in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states

First posted March 12, 2012 14:12:59

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Federer beats Del Potro in Rotterdam

Updated February 20, 2012 08:24:35

Switzerland's Roger Federer won his second title at the Rotterdam Open seven years after his first as he defeated Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday.

Federer now owns 71 career trophies after lifting his first of this season.

He finished 2011 with three straight titles indoors at Basel, Paris Bercy and the London year-end ATP championship.

The victory took 30-year-old Federer's record against Del Potro to 9-2, with the Swiss winning three of four in the series after losing the 2009 US Open final to the South American.

Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam winner, has now assured himself of a 12th consecutive year in which he has won at last one ATP title.

"It's incredible that it took me seven years to come back and defend my title, I hope the next time is not so long. But if it is, then it means I'll be playing for another seven years," joked the Swiss, who saved all seven break points he faced in a re-assuring 88-minute victory.

Federer ran off to a 5-0 lead, with del Potro finally troubling his Swiss rival after 28 minutes as he rallied for 1-5.

But the comeback start went for nought as Federer maintained his red-hot form to sweep the set in 33 minutes.

Del Potro's resistance stiffened in the second, with the third set forcing Federer to save break points in the fourth, sixth and eighth games.

But along the way, the Swiss broke for 3-2 and closed out the win four games later on his second match point.

"Juan Martin had a great week," said Federer. "He's playing great tennis. I hope to see you at the (November) World Tour Finals."

"This title marks a great start to the season," said Federer, 21-5 at Rotterdam. "My team made a lot of sacrifices. It's been an amazing week for us."

Federer's winning week ended a run of two straight singles losses, the Australian Open semis to Rafael Nadal and a Davis Cup rubber last weekend against American John Isner. The last time the Swiss lost two in succession was spring of 2010.


Tags: sport, tennis, netherlands

First posted February 20, 2012 08:24:35

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stosur advances alongside Azarenka

Updated February 17, 2012 09:00:00

Samantha Stosur joined world number one Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open by ousting Czech Republic's Petra Cetkovska.

Stosur took down her opponent 6-3, 6-2 and will play Romanian Monica Niculescu who defeated Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

Azarenka impressed with a swift demolition of another Romanian in Simona Halep.

Belarusian Azarenka, the Australian Open champion, won 10 games in a row on the way to beating the 63rd-ranked Halep 6-3, 6-1.

Meanwhile Lucie Safarova, who had knocked out the second seed Caroline Wozniacki, sent former US and French Open champion and 14th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova packing with a 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 victory.

Kuznetsova was the 12th of the 16 seeds in the 64-player draw to crash out of the event over the first four days.

Safarova will play Marion Bartoli in the quarters after the French fifth seed eliminated Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-3, 6-3.

Halep produced only brief moments of brilliance to secure a break in either set, but that was not enough to quell Azarenka, who stepped up her game after trailing 3-1 in the first set and raced to victory thereafter.

"I started slow but I am glad I turned it around," said Azarenka, the first Belarusian to win a grand slam tournament and take the world number one ranking.

She could have won the second set at love, but suffered a glitch in the sixth game when she was broken by the Romanian.

But Azarenka broke back in the next game to clinch the issue.

"I kept my composure," said Azarenka, who will now meet Belgian Yanina Wickmayer in the quarter-finals. Wickmayer defeated Kazakhstan's Ksenia Pervak 6-4, 6-0.

"I never played her before. It was about adjusting a little bit to her game style. I don't think I really played the right way those first three games, four games.

"But then I started to get my rhythm more and I put more pressure on her and really focussed more on myself rather than on her game," Azarenka added.

"She brings a lot of balls back. At the beginning I was rushing too much trying to finish the point in maybe two shots."

Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska fought back from a break down to advance to the last eight with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Varvara Lepchenko of the USA.

Israeli Shahar Peer's quest for a first title in the Middle East ended prematurely.

Peer, whose participation in events in the Gulf has often generated a furore, was beaten 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 by American Christina McHale.


Tags: tennis, sport, qatar, australia

First posted February 17, 2012 09:00:00

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