The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

China, Japan win in Asian Fed Cup zonal play

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 05:30 AM PST

NONTHABURI, Thailand (AP): China beat Thailand 2-1 Thursday to stay at the top of Pool A with a 2-0 record in the Fed Cup's Asia/Oceania Group I.

The Chinese team, playing without injured Australian Open runner-up Li Na, got off to a winning start at the LTAT Tennis Development Center when Nungnadda Wannasuk retired with a cramp in her leg.

The Thai player won the first set 7-6 (5), but retired late in the second against Tang Hao-chen.

Noppawan Lertcheewakarn then earned a point for Thailand, beating Lu Jing-jing 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, but Tang and Lu defeated Noppawan and Nicha Lertpitaksinchai 7-6 (1), 6-3 in the deciding doubles match.

Li, who lost to Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open final, cited a leg injury for her absence. Thailand was also playing without its best player. Tamarine Tanasugarn is out with an elbow injury.

China must beat Uzbekistan, which defeated India 2-1, for a slot in the playoffs on Saturday against a team from Pool B.

Japan, led by an in-form Ayumi Morita, is 2-0 in Pool B following a victory over South Korea on Thursday. Kazakhstan, which lost to Japan on Wednesday, defeated Taiwan 3-0.

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Rugby: Burton starts at flyhalf for Italy vs. Ireland

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 04:55 AM PST

ROME (AP): Kristopher Burton will start at flyhalf for Italy when it opens its Six Nations campaign against Ireland on Saturday.

It will be Burton's fifth cap and is reward for his good form in Treviso's debut season in the Celtic League. He is picked ahead of Luciano Orquera, who started two of Italy's autumn internationals.

The Australian-born Burton will line up alongside his Treviso teammate Edoardo Gori - who wins his third cap at scrum half - and he said that their familiarity would help them at international level.

"In regard to the (Celtic) League, you're playing with the same guys you're playing with every week," Burton said Thursday. "You're playing and training with half the national team day in day out. "It helps the cohesion of the team and hopefully we can show that on Saturday."

Alberto Sgarbi is another Treviso player included after a strong start to the season. Sgarbi will start at inside centre, with Andrea Masi moved out to the wing.

In the forwards, captain Sergio Parisse has allayed fears that a dislocated finger would keep him out of action and starts at number 8.

The game will be Parisse's first Six Nations game since 2009 after he missed the entire 2010 championship with a knee injury.

Joining him in the pack is Racing Metro Paris second row Santiago Dellape, who returns to the team and wins his 61st cap after impressing in France's Top 14.

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