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Sports Shorts: Sharapova shocked by Swiss qualifier in Wuhan

Last updated on: September 24, 2014 21:15 IST

Russia's Maria Sharapova

Russia's Maria Sharapova. Photograph: Hong Wu/Getty Images

Swiss qualifier Timea Bacsinszky continued to swipe past the seeds at the Wuhan Open on Wednesday by dumping World No 4 Maria Sharapova from the hard court tournament with a 7-6(3), 7-5 victory.

The World No 61, who knocked out US Open semi-finalist and 13th seed Ekaterina Makarova in the second round, prevailed again in the battle of baseliners to notch arguably the biggest win of her career.

Having taken the first set of the third round clash on a tiebreak, Bacsinszky fell 3-1 down in the second against French Open champion Sharapova.

The Russian, though, struggled to rid her game of unforced errors as the 25-year-old Bacsinszky broke back to level the match, which looked to be heading for a second tiebreak.

But a 43rd error from Sharapova gifted the Swiss the vital break to win the set 7-5 and set up a quarter-final clash with either eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki or Australia's Casey Dellacqua.

Sharapova joined an alarming list of seeds dumped from the $2.4 million inaugural event at the early stages with only four of the 16 remaining.

World No 1 Serena Williams was forced to retire from her second round clash on Tuesday because of illness, while a back injury ended Jelena Jankovic's run as did a thigh problem for Ana Ivanovic.

Second ranked Romanian Simona Halep only had herself to blame for her three set loss on Tuesday.

Germany's Angelique Kerber was one seed to find the going unusually straightforward as she smashed past Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1, 6-1 in quick time on Wednesday.

The seventh seed will next face Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, who was given a walkover to the last eight after Spain's Garbine Muguruza, who performed so well in knocking out Halep a day earlier, withdrew because of gastritis.

France's Alize Cornet, who was trailing Williams before the American retired on Tuesday, moved on through to the quarters with a 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3 win over Belgian wildcard Kirsten Flipkens.

Cornet recovered from a break down in the third set to set up a meeting with either sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada or American Alison Riske.

Cornet's compatriot Caroline Garcia, who beat Agnieszka Radwanksa in the second round, smashed 11 aces in knocking out American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-2.

Nishikori makes winning start in Malaysia

Kei Nishikori of Japan

Kei Nishikori of Japan. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Japan's Kei Nishikori breezed past American Rajeev Ram 6-2, 6-3 in the Malaysian Open on Wednesday on his return to the court after his US Open final defeat earlier this month.

The top seed took just 65 minutes to dismiss Ram, boosting his chances of grabbing one of the eight spots for the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Nishikori will next take on Australian Marinko Matosevic in the quarter-finals of the hard-court tournament in the Malaysian capital.


Leon shrugs off sexism row to focus on Davis Cup success

Spain's new Davis Cup captain Gala Leon poses for photographers in Seville

Spain's new Davis Cup captain Gala Leon poses for photographers in Seville. Photograph: Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters

Spain's new Davis Cup captain Gala Leon shrugged off "sexist debate" about her appointment and said her only concern is taking the team back to the top of the sport.

Leon, who had a career-high ranking of 27 as a player, was the surprise choice to replace Carlos Moya, who stood down after the five-times Davis Cup-winners were relegated from the World Group following defeat against Brazil in a play-off.

"Everyone has the right to say what they think. I am not here to create a sexist debate but to help the Davis Cup team to return to the World Group and (ensure) that the trophy returns home soon," Leon told a news conference on Tuesday.

Leon previously held the role of sports director at the Spanish tennis federation and has now become captain after initially being given the role of looking for a successor to Moya.

The appointment of Leon immediately led to a flood of criticism in Spain, including from Rafa Nadal's uncle and coach, Toni Nadal.

"In recent years when you look at decisions like these there have been consultations with players, which I think is right, but in this case it hasn’t happened," Toni Nadal told Spanish radio.

"I have nothing personal against her. I don't know her capabilities and I hope she does well. But at first sight she doesn't know men's tennis. If you told me she had been involved for the last 10 years on the men's circuit, then I would say it was normal.

"I am not being chauvinist. Anyone who says that doesn't know what the word means. Having said that, I am a bit stuck in the past when I see a woman in the men's dressing room. I accept that I am a bit old-fashioned but you can't say I'm being chauvinist."

Britain's double grand slam champion Andy Murray, who broke the mould earlier this year by engaging former French player Amelie Mauresmo as his coach, came out in support of Leon however.

"Congrats to Gala Leon Garcia for becoming first female Spanish Davis Cup captain today... hopefully first of many," said the Scot on Twitter.

Leon's task now will be to take charge of Spain's Europe/Africa Zone campaign next year.

League Cup: Liverpool come through epic shootout to beat Middlesbrough

Liverpool's Suso scores in the penalty shootout against Middlesbrough. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Liverpool reached the fourth round of the League Cup on Tuesday after winning an epic and nerve-shredding penalty shootout 14-13 at home to second-tier Middlesbrough, with the teams ending extra time tied at 2-2.

Middlesbrough's Albert Adomah brought the gripping penalty contest to an end when he fired wide after both teams had kept their nerve in sudden death, shattering the record for the longest shootout in the League Cup.

Liverpool, who have looked a shadow of the team that finished second in the Premier League last season in the new campaign, twice took the lead against their lower league opponents, but defensive errors were once again their undoing.

Elsewhere, Nathaniel Clyne scored with a stunning 30-metre strike as Southampton won 2-1 at Arsenal and Swansea City, who have begun the league season in confident fashion, beat Everton 3-0 with goals from Nathan Dyer, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Marvin Emnes.

In another all Premier League tie, Stoke City came back from a goal down to win 2-1 at Sunderland thanks to a double from Spaniard Marc Muniesa.

Liverpool had gone ahead through debutant Jordan Rossiter after 10 minutes but a familiar failing appeared as Adam Reach was allowed to head home unchallenged midway through the second half.

Spaniard Suso looked like he had given Liverpool victory with a low strike late in extra time, but the hosts imploded with seconds remaining as Kolo Toure conceded a penalty after a terrible backpass from Raheem Sterling. Patrick Bamford slotted home.

Sterling and Bamford were the only players to miss in the shootout, which comfortably surpassed the previous highest score record of 9-8, until Adomah fired off target.

Clyne's wonder goal five minutes before halftime completed a superb comeback for Southampton, who fell behind to an Alexis Sanchez free kick before levelling with a Dusan Tadic penalty.

Southampton, second in the Premier League, have enjoyed a superb start to the campaign after selling several of their most valuable players in the close season and rebuilding under new manager Ronald Koeman.

Elsewhere, third tier MK Dons, who thrashed Manchester United in the last round, won 2-0 at home to Bradford City, fourth tier Shrewsbury Town won 1-0 at home to Norwich City two divisions above them and Fulham beat Doncaster Rovers 2-1.

Second tier Bournemouth won 3-0 at Cardiff City, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, Derby County beat Reading 2-0 and Sheffield United edged past Leyton Orient 1-0.

Bayern restore order with 4-0 drubbing of Paderborn

Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller (left) celebrates after scoring a goal against Paderborn. Photograph: Michael Dalder/Reuters

Champions Bayern Munich ended Paderborn's dream start to the season with a 4-0 demolition of the Bundesliga newboys on Tuesday, with Mario Goetze netting twice and new signing Robert Lewandowski getting off the mark.

The win lifted Bayern two points clear at the top on 11 from five games, two clear of Mainz 05 who drew 2-2 against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Hoffenheim also climbed to nine points after Jannik Vestergaard's stoppage-time equaliser in their entertaining 3-3 draw against Freiburg.

Minnows Paderborn, whose budget is five million euros a year, had arrived in Munich as unexpected league leaders after two wins and two draws in their first four games, taking the top division by storm in their maiden season.

But Bayern, despite missing several players through injury, handed out an attacking lesson.

Germany international Goetze put the hosts ahead, drilling in after a superb backflick assist from Thomas Mueller in the eighth minute.

Last season's Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski, who joined Bayern from rivals Borussia Dortmund, opened his account six minutes later with a superb shot from 18 metres.

Still missing winger Franck Ribery and playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger among several absentees, Bayern looked sharper than in Saturday's goalless draw at Hamburg SV and should have had at least two more goals by halftime.

"I am very satisfied with our performance today," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. "We improved the way we play the game and we also improved our buildup."

Goetze tapped in from close range in the 78th to more accurately reflect Bayern's dominance before Mueller completed a quick move five minutes before time.

Schalke 04 bounced back from a bad start to clinch their first win of the campaign with a 3-0 victory at Werder Bremen.

The Ruhr valley club shrugged off the absences of suspended Kevin-Prince Boateng and Julian Draxler, to score twice in three minutes soon after halftime through Max Meyer and Roman Neustaedter.

Tranquillo Barnetta's 85th minute goal after good work from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sealed the three points and offered some much-needed respite to coach Jens Keller.

Borussia Dortmund, on six points, host last-placed VfB Stuttgart while Bayer Leverkusen, a point ahead, entertain Augsburg on Wednesday.