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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Sharapova, Venus sail into China Open second round

Sports Shorts: Sharapova, Venus sail into China Open second round

Last updated on: September 28, 2014 22:13 IST

Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a shot against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia during day two of the China Open. Photograph: Feng Li/Getty Images

Reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova, former world number one Venus Williams and Australian Samantha Stosur sailed into the second round of the China Open with straight set victories on Sunday.

Fourth seeded Sharapova committed six double faults compared to two by Kaia Kanepi but still downed the Estonian 6-4, 6-1 in 90 minutes.

Sixteenth seeded Williams shrugged off a slow start to overcome Heather Watson 6-3 6-1 in their first encounter.

"Heather was playing really well," seven-times grand slam winner Williams, who dropped the first three games in the opening set, said of her opponent.

"I mean, the first games she didn't miss a serve for six points. I give her a lot of credit," said the American who faces 12th seed Ekaterina Makarova in the second round.

Russian Makarova had to work harder for her 6-7(8), 6-4, 6-4 win against Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.

Australian Samantha Stosur beat Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 6-2 to set up a second round clash against former world number one Caroline Wozniacki who is eyeing a spot in the year-ending WTA Finals in Singapore.

From 3-4 in the first set, Australian Stosur went on to win eight of the next nine games before eventually beating the Italian, her conqueror in the 2010 French Open final, in 92 minutes.

Wozniacki got one of the four first round byes for making the semi-finals at the Wuhan Open and is in contention for one of the last four spots in the yearending WTA Finals in Singapore.

In other matches, second seed Simona Halep beat Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1, 6-4, while Japan's Kurumi Nara humbled 11th seeded Italian Sara Errani 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Red-hot Nishikori claims Malaysian Open title

Kei Nishikori of Japan celebrates after defeating Julien Benneteay of France during the Malaysian Open. Photograph: How Foo Yeen/Getty Images

Japan's Kei Nishikori picked up his third title of a breakout year by downing France's Julien Benneteau 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the Malaysian Open final on Sunday.

The world number eight, who reached the final of the U.S. Open last time out, fought through a tricky tiebreak before sealing a pivotal break to go 4-3 up in the second set.

The break was part of a run of 12 unanswered points for the Japanese, the first man from an Asian country to reach a grand slam singles final, which swung the contest in his favour.

The victory for the 24-year-old, who has also won titles in Barcelona and Memphis this year, boosted his hopes of becoming the first Asian man to compete at the ATP Tour Finals in London in November.

Nishikori is currently sixth in the leaderboard with eight spots available for the prestigious season-ending event.

"It was a tough match," Nishikori said after sealing his victory in one hour and 47 minutes.

"After I won the first set, I relaxed and was able to play attacking tennis.

"I am aiming to win the next tournament in Japan as well," he said, referring to the hardcourt tournament beginning in Tokyo on Monday.

For the 32-year-old Benneteau, it was simply more Malaysian misery.

The loss was his third straight in the final of the Kuala Lumpur event and meant a 10th runners-up prize in his career as the wait goes on for a first ATP Tour title.

"Kei was simply too good in the key moments, especially at the end of the first set," Benneteau said.

"I had some chances, but against these kinds of players, they are small chances and you have to take them. I tried to play my best and I almost did it.

"I'm disappointed with the loss, but very happy with the level of my game. It's hard to keep that level of intensity in every point and every game. I need to improve this to be more consistent," Benneteau added. 

Murray fights back to win Shenzhen title 

Andy Murray raises his trophy after winning the men's singles final match against Tommy Robredo at Shenzhen Open Tennis tournament on Sunday. Photograph: Alex Lee/Reuters

Andy Murray saved five match points before beating Spain's Tommy Robredo 5-7 7-6(9) 6-1 to win the Shenzhen Open in China on Sunday, as the Briton rallied to claim a first title since winning Wimbledon last year.

The two-time Grand Slam winner and Olympic champion appeared on course for certain defeat when he trailed 6-2 in the second set tiebreak, only to reel off four straight points as Robredo tightened when on the brink of victory.

The pair both wasted chances to seal the set as they mixed glorious winners with nervy misses, with Robredo wasting his fifth match point at 7-6, before Murray eventually blasted an unstoppable forehand to take it 11-9 and force a decider.

World No 11 Murray then broke Robredo three times in the third set with the Spaniard, also chasing a first win of the year, appearing hampered by injury as he failed to chase down balls.

The victory at the $590,230 outdoor hardcourt event boosted Murray's hopes of making a sixth appearance at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London in November after he was forced to withdraw from the event last year through injury.           

Kenyan Kimetto smashes marathon world record in Berlin

Dennis Kimetto of Kenya crosses the finish line in a new world record time to win the 41st Berlin marathon on Sunday

Dennis Kimetto of Kenya crosses the finish line in a new world record time to win the 41st Berlin marathon on Sunday. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Kenyan Dennis Kimetto smashed the marathon world record in Berlin on Sunday, winning the race in a time of two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds.

The 30-year-old pre-race favourite broke away in a seven-man group, including fellow Kenyans Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Kamworor, after 20 kilometres on a sun-drenched and cool Berlin morning.

Hen then shook off Mutai with four kilometres remaining to become the first man to complete the race in less than two hours and three minutes to set the second consecutive world record in Berlin, considered the world's fastest marathon course.

Destro goal upstages Totti, Juve win again

Mattia Destro of AS Roma celebrates after scoring against Hellas Verona FC during their Serie A match at Stadio Olimpico on Friday

Mattia Destro of AS Roma celebrates after scoring against Hellas Verona FC during their Serie A match at Stadio Olimpico on Friday. Photograph: Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

AS Roma's Mattia Destro scored a remarkable goal from near the halfway line to complete a 2-0 Serie A home win over Verona and upstage talismanic team mate Francesco Totti on his 38th birthday on Saturday.

A goal kick from Roma's Morgan De Sanctis landed just inside the Verona half before Destro controlled the ball, saw Verona goalkeeper Pierliugi Gollini off his line and scored with a high, dipping shot from 45 metres.

Roma maintained their 100 percent record after five Serie A games as did Juventus who won 3-0 at Atalanta, helped by two Carlos Tevez goals and a penalty save from Gianluigi Buffon which meant that the champions have still to concede a goal this season.

Roma visit Juventus in their next game on Oct. 5.

Totti, in his 23rd season at his only professional club, twice came close to scoring, and substitute Alessandro Florenzi, who replaced the Roma captain just after the hour, broke the deadlock for the hosts at the Stadio Olimpico.

As usual, Totti, playing just behind the front two, was involved in nearly all Roma's attacking moves.

He thought he had given his side the lead when the ball broke to him in the penalty area with Gollini stranded, but Frederik Sorensen cleared the ball off the line and it hit the post on its way to safety.

Totti was close again with a side-footed volley from Maicon's pass early in the second half. This time, the 19-year-old Gollini turned the ball over.

Totti also had time to nutmeg an opponent before being taken off, as expected, just after the hour to a standing ovation.

Gervinho came on in the second half and his entrance gave fresh impetus to Roma, who until then had struggled to break down a well-marshalled Verona defence.

Florenzi broke through with 15 minutes left when he met a loose ball with a first time shot from 25 metres. Destro missed an easy chance after a mazy Gervinho run but atoned with his incredible strike shortly afterwards.

"Adem Ljajic and the captain (Totti) played really well. They tired out Verona and this allowed their team mates to settle the match at the end," Roma coach Rudi Garcia told reporters.

"Destro's goal showed great class, the instinct of a hitman, the work of a pure attacker.

Destro added: "I've been thinking of a goal like that for a long time, catching the goalkeeper out of his goal. I tried it today and it went well.

Argentine forward Tevez gave Juventus a 36th-minute lead when he poked home a loose ball from close range.

The game swung decisively in Juve's direction in 60 remarkable seconds just before the hour.

Atalanta were awarded a penalty after a clumsy challenge by Giorgio Chiellini but, after a stuttering run-up, German Denis saw his weak effort saved by Buffon. Juve went straight down the other end and Tevez scored with a low shot inside the post from the edge of the area.

Alvaro Morata wrapped up the win by heading his first goal for Juve since his move from Real Madrid.

PSG endure worrying draw at Toulouse

Paris St Germain's Javier Pastore (right) reacts during the team's French Ligue 1 soccer match against Toulouse

Paris St Germain's Javier Pastore (right) reacts during the team's French Ligue 1 soccer match against Toulouse at the stadium in Toulouse on Saturday. Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

Paris St Germain's 1-1 Ligue 1 draw at Toulouse on Saturday demonstrated that the French champions will need the return of the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic if they are to threaten Barcelona in the Champions League next week.

PSG, who are second in the table two points adrift of arch rivals Olympique de Marseille, have been without Ibrahimovic for two games as the Swede recovers from heel pains.

The striker is expected to be back to face one of his former clubs on Tuesday in a Group F clash but his absence was clearly felt at Toulouse.

The visitors fell behind in the eighth minute when Wissam Ben Yedder intercepted a poor back pass from Serge Aurier, outpaced David Luiz and beat Salvatore Sirigu from close range.

Jean-Christophe Bahebeck, however, levelled with a low angled shot in the 33rd minute.

PSG, who have drawn five of their first eight league matches, dominated possession but were barely threatening.

Manager Laurent Blanc waited until the 71st minute to make his substitutions. Lucas came on for Edinson Cavani, Thiago Motta substituted Yohan Cabaye while Clement Chantome took Marco Verratti's place.

Earlier, Monaco's recent resurgence was brought to a halt when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat in the Cote d'Azur derby against Nice.

Nice, who prevailed thanks to Carlos Eduardo's early free kick, moved up to fifth with 13 points from eight games while Monaco are 12th on 10 points.

Following a woeful start to the season, Leonardo Jardim's team had won two games in a row against Guingamp and Montpellier to move out of the relegation zone.

But on Saturday, they lacked creativity as they once again suffered from the absence of James Rodriguez, who left during the close season to join Real Madrid.

Carlos Eduardo found the back of the net with an 18-metre free kick after keeper Danijel Subasic had failed to set up his wall properly.

Dimitar Berbatov repeatedly tumbled in the area but referee Ruddy Buquet denied him a penalty on three occasions.

Monaco forward Valere Germain suffered a rib injury and was replaced at halftime by Anthony Martial.

Leaders Marseille take on St Etienne at home on Sunday (1900GMT/3 PM ET).