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NST Online: Sports

Anuar denied win by Kittel

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 09:24 AM PST

Marcel Kittel (left) of Skil Shimano Cycling Team on his way to  winning stage three of the Le Tour de Langkawi from Taiping to Sitiawan yesterday. — BERNAMA picture

Marcel Kittel (left) of Skil Shimano Cycling Team on his way to winning stage three of the Le Tour de Langkawi from Taiping to Sitiawan yesterday. — BERNAMA picture

MARCEL Kittel of Skil Shimano Cycling Team clinched the 144.9km third stage of the Le Tour de Langkawi from Taiping to Sitiawan yesterday.

The German rider clocked 3 hours 14 minutes 18 seconds to finish ahead of Anuar Manan of Terengganu Pro Asia Cycling team although the Malaysian also posted an identical time.

It was a case of "so near, yet so far" for Anuar as he almost achieved his first stage win in this year's Le Tour de Langkawi.

"I feel quite disappointed but I'm still aiming to win at least one stage and for sure if not tomorrow then the day after," he said.

"My team will work out a new strategy to get the stage win.

"Tomorrow's stage four and the following stage are not my favourite terrain.

"Maybe we will be up again on stage six which has a flat route," said the Kuala Ibai, Terengganu-born rider.

"I believe my teammates will help me to win the three sprint zones before the climb," said Anuar.

Anuar however, retained the white jersey as the current overall Asian rider with an accumulated time of 8'43:51s after three stages while close behind are Iran's Hamid Shirisisan of Suren Cycling Team and Malaysia national rider, Loh Sea Keong, who were 14 and 15 seconds adrift, respectively.

Meanwhile, young Italian rider Andrea Guardini retained his yellow jersey for the third consecutive time but felt disappointed as he did not win the stage today.

"I will try to keep the yellow and blue jersey. I tried to win the sprint today.

"The team had done everything to get into a bunch finish today," said Guardini.

The mountain climb competition saw the red jersey change hands when Iran's Mehdi Sohrabi of Tabriz Petrochemical Team swept to the fore.

Tomorrow's Stage Four, comprising 137.6km, will have three sprint zones at Seri Iskandar, Batu Gajah and Simpang Pulai before the start of a gruelling climb at Pos Slim (265m above sea level), Kampung Raja (1,400m above sea level) and end at Bukit Berincang (1,613m above sea level). -- BERNAMA

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Federer, Djokovic set up grandstand semis

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 07:12 AM PST

DEFENDING champion Roger Federer demolished fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka to reach his eighth straight Australian Open semi-final yesterday, setting up a grandstand clash with Novak Djokovic.

Women's top seed Caroline Wozniacki survived a thrilling quarter-final with tenacious Italian Francesca Schiavone and will now need to beat Li Na, who ratcheted up China's hopes of a first grand slam singles title.

Federer, who can become only the second man to win five Australian Opens after Roy Emerson (six), showed no mercy against close friend Wawrinka as he took him apart 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in just one hour 47 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

"I definitely needed a good performance and I've obviously played Stan many times in practice and in matches, and there were no real secrets out there for either of us," Federer said.

Federer and Wawrinka are known for a joyous celebration after their doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the pair were poles apart as the 16-time grand slam winner coolly dispatched his frustrated friend.

Wawrinka, who had not been beaten this year and whipped Andy Roddick in the quarters, angrily smashed his racquet when he was broken for the fifth time, in the third set, as Federer cantered to victory.

Federer, 29, can equal Andre Agassi's record 46 hard-court titles and derail top seed Rafael Nadal's 'Rafa Slam', a non-calendar year grand slam which would unite all four major trophies for the first time since 1969.

But he will have his work cut out against Djokovic, who came out on top of their last Melbourne semi-final in 2008 and went on to win his lone grand slam title.

The 23-year-old third seed was immense in yesterday's evening match as he saw off a strong second-set challenge from Czech World No 6 Tomas Berdych 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, to reach his third grand slam semi in the past year.

"If I continue playing like this, and I think I am playing well, then I have a good chance. But I have Federer and we all know he's the best player ever so it's going to be very tough," Djokovic said.

Meanwhile, Caroline overcame a tiring Francesca 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals, a result which also ensures she stays as No 1 when the new rankings are published next week.

Caroline clawed her way back from losing the first set against Francesca, who had battled through a grand slam record four-hour 44-minute epic with Svetlana Kuznetsova on Sunday, to clinch victory on a Hawkeye challenge.

In tomorrow's semis, Caroline will meet Li Na, who lifted Chinese hopes to fever pitch after she weathered an early storm from Germany's Andrea Petkovic to reach her second straight Australian Open semi-final.

A day after compatriot Peng Shuai fell by the wayside, Li Na withstood a blistering start by Andrea in both sets to wrap it up 6-2, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

Li Na said she had no intention of repeating last year's disappointment, when she was bundled out of the last four by eventual winner Serena Williams, who is out this year with a foot injury.

"I played really well in Sydney and I hope I can do better here this year. I don't want to lose in the semis again," said Li Na. -- AFP

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