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Sports Shorts: Murray's comeback halted; Sharapova enters quarters

Last updated on: January 02, 2019 20:07 IST
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Summary of sports events and persons who made news on Wednesday

Barty inspires Australia to victory over Spain in Hopman Cup

Hopman Cup

IMAGE: Ashleigh Barty and Matthew Ebden clinched a tight mixed doubles clash. Photograph: Hopman Cup/Twitter

Ashleigh Barty beat former world number one Garbine Muguruza in straight sets to lay the foundation for Australia's 2-1 victory over Spain in the Hopman Cup on Wednesday.

Playing flawless tennis, Barty did not drop serve during the 6-3 6-4 victory before teaming up with Matthew Ebden to clinch a tight mixed doubles clash 3-4(3), 4-3, 4-3(3) against Muguruza and David Ferrer for Australia's second straight win in the event.

Ferrer had capitalised on Ebden's 42 unforced errors to prevail 7-6(1), 7-5 and level the contest at 1-1 but despite his encouraging early form, the Spanish veteran said he would not reverse his decision to retire this year.

"I am not playing bad. The problem is that I can't play more than two matches... I am 100 percent I will finish my career in Madrid," Ferrer said.

Earlier, last year's runners-up Germany defeated France 2-1 to top Group A with a second victory in as many ties, improving their chances of playing in Saturday's title clash.

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber fought back from a set down to defeat a determined Alize Cornet 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 for her second straight singles win following a victory over Spain's Muguruza in Sunday's opener.

Alexander Zverev then sealed the tie for Germany when he fought off Lucas Pouille 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-2, before France claimed a consolation win in the dead mixed doubles rubber.

"You want to play tough opponents, you want to play the best players before a Grand Slam," 2018 ATP Finals winner Zverev, who will be one to watch in this month's Australian Open, said.

"I've played two good players, and I'm happy to get those matches under my belt. I hope to keep going with Angie, and we'll see what else we can do."

Germany can seal a place in the final with a win against Australia on Friday.

Murray's comeback halted by Medvedev in Brisbane second round

Andy Murray

IMAGE: Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Andy Murray shake hands after their match. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Andy Murray's latest comeback from a persistent hip issue ended prematurely on Wednesday when he was beaten 7-5, 6-2 by Russia's Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the Brisbane International.

Murray cut short his season last September after suffering pain in his hip following surgery earlier in the year that ruled him out of three of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

 

The 31-year-old had defeated local hope James Duckworth in his season opener on Tuesday but was comprehensively beaten by fourth seed Medvedev who fired 16 aces and lost only seven of his first-service points in the contest.

"I think he served extremely well, I didn't really get many chances on his service games," Murray, who won the tournament in both of his previous appearances in 2012 and 2013, said.

"And then on my own service games I made too many errors in the rallies, especially early on I was trying to play a little bit more offensive. In the second set, I made too many mistakes.

"I think when you play better players... they will expose any errors that you make in your game or any shots that you're not hitting particularly well. And he did that tonight."

Medvedev next faces Canada's Milos Raonic who eased past Serbian qualifier Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3, 7-6(2).

The tournament lost another big name when Rafael Nadal pulled out due to a thigh strain, casting doubt on his participation in this month's Australian Open.

Jeremy Chardy rallied to beat holder Nick Kyrgios 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 to leave Alex De Minaur as the sole Australian man remaining in the draw after the 19-year-old beat Jordan Thompson 6-4, 6-2.

Grigor Dimitrov downed local favourite John Millman 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarter-final with Japan's Kei Nishikori.

In the women's competition, unseeded Anett Kontaveit upset double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-5 7-6(1) before paying tribute to fellow Estonian Kaia Kanepi who had claimed the Brisbane title in 2012.

"We're a really small country. Kaia has led the way for me. She won this tournament a few years ago – she's shown you can make it in tennis," Kontaveit, ranked 20 in the world, said.

Former champion Karolina Pliskova outclassed Marie Bouzkova 7-5 6-2 to set up a clash with Ajla Tomljanovic who ended the run of Briton Johanna Konta winning 6-2, 7-6(2).

Sharapova enters quarters in Shenzen Open 

Former world number one Maria Sharapova on Wednesday reached the quarter-final round of the ongoing Shenzen Open after her Chinese opponent Wang Xinyu retired from the clash owing to an injury.

The 31-year-old Russian moved past impressive teenage opponent 6-7(4), 5-2 before the match came to an end due to latter's injury.

Xinyu gave a tough fight to Sharapova with her powerful hitting and stunned the five-time Grand Slam champion by registering the first set 7-6 to her name. The set was an interesting one as, after a hard fought battle, both the players went into the tie-breaker round.

A proficient display of forehand play by the Chinese player and a couple of double faults from Sharapova's side helped the former to register the tie-break round to her name.

The second set also witnessed Xinyu playing at the top of her game. She clinched the initial lead by breaking Sharapova in the opening game using her stunning backhand strikes.

After holding the Russian player at a score of 3-2, Xinyu suffered physical distress on the court following which she had to take a medical timeout. Her condition did not show any signs of improvement even after the play resumed.

With scoreline reading 5-2 in Sharapova's favour, Xinyu pulled out of the match as she seemed unable to continue playing.

Sharapova will either face Aryna Sabalenka Belarus or fellow Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals of the Shenzen Open. 

WADA 'bitterly disappointed' at Russia's failure to meet deadline

The World Anti-Doping Agency said that Russian authorities had failed to provide access to laboratory doping data by their year-end deadline and it will consider sanctions against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).

RUSADA was stripped of its accreditation in 2015 after a WADA-commissioned report found evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics. But it was conditionally - and controversially - reinstated in September.

"I am bitterly disappointed that data extraction from the former Moscow Laboratory has not been completed by the date agreed by WADA's (executive committee) in September 2018," said WADA President Craig Reedie.

"Since then, WADA has been working diligently with the Russian authorities to meet the deadline, which was clearly in the best interest of clean sport. The process agreed by WADA's ExCo in September will now be initiated."

WADA's Compliance Review Committee (CRC) will meet Jan. 14-15 to review the situation and make a recommendation to WADA's executive committee on how to proceed.

If the CRC recommends declaring RUSADA non-compliant and the executive committee agrees, the Russian agency will have the right to challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who will hear the case and make the final decision.

Reedie said WADA had written to Pavel Kolobkov, Russia's minister of sport, and Yury Ganus, the director general of RUSADA, to notify them of the situation and to remind them of the next steps in the process.

Kolobkov on Saturday said Moscow and WADA were discussing a date for WADA experts to visit and receive laboratory data in the hopes of avoiding another suspension.

Last month WADA said an inspection team visiting the Moscow laboratory was denied access to raw data after Russian authorities said that the inspection team's equipment was not certified under Russian law.

IOC President Thomas Bach on Tuesday suggested the IOC was ready to move on following Russia's ban from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.

"In Pyeongchang, we sanctioned the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system in Russia during the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014," he said in a New Year's message.

"With its suspension from the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, the Russian Olympic Committee has served its sanction."

But critics of Russia urged WADA to take a hard line against the nation for missing the deadline.

"The situation is a total joke and an embarrassment for WADA and the global anti-doping system," Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said on Tuesday.

"In September, WADA secretly moved the goal posts and reinstated Russia against the wishes of athletes, governments and the public."

"In doing this, WADA guaranteed Russia would turn over the evidence of its state-supported doping scheme by today."

"No-one is surprised this deadline was ignored, and it's time for WADA to stop being played by the Russians and immediately declare them non-compliant for failing yet again to meet the deadline."

The United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency athlete commission and Drug Free Sport New Zealand were among the groups that called on WADA to find RUSADA non-compliant for missing the deadline.

"Time for negotiation and compromise with Russia is now past," said Nick Paterson, chief executive for Drug Free Sport NZ. "Clean sport and clean athletes deserve our support."

"It is time to stand strong, and all those involved in the fight against doping to stand together."

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