The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports


Vettel on pole in Melbourne, with Hamilton and Webber

Posted: 26 Mar 2011 12:44 AM PDT

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - World champion Sebastian Vettel will start from pole position for Sunday's season-opening Formula One Australian Grand Prix after a dominant performance by the Red Bull driver in Saturday's qualifying.

Vettel had a time of 1 minute, 23.529 seconds, more than three-quarters of a second quicker than nearest rival Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.

Red Bull's Mark Webber will start from third in front of his home crowd, with Jenson Button of McLaren fourth as he attempts to win the race for a third straight year.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso qualified fifth while Mercedes' Michael Schumacher was 11th.

The Red Bulls and McLarens were consistently fastest after the first Q1 session, switching between the firmer 'prime' tires and the options to try and feel their way to faster lap combinations.

Troubled constructor Hispania could become the first team to miss out on the race under the reintroduced 107 percent rule, after both its drivers failed post a time under the cut off mark set at seven percent higher than the fastest time in Q1.

With the cut-off time set at 1:31.266, Vitantonio Liuzzi could manage only 1:32.978 and Narain Karthikeyan had 1:34.293.

However, Hispania could yet take its place at the back of the grid if other teams agree to give it a reprieve.

Renault's Nick Heidfeld, who ninth fastest in final practice earlier in the day, was also eliminated in Q1 and will start from a disappointing 18th.

In Q2, Renault's Rubens Barrichello ruined his chances of qualifying in the top-10 when he touched the grass coming into turn three, losing control and spinning into the gravel.

Adrian Sutil of Force India was also eliminated, but had a lucky escape when he spun his car 360 degrees coming out of the final turn and narrowly missed a wall before regaining control and continuing his lap.

Renault's Vitaly Petrov put in a strong performance to qualify in sixth place, ahead of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Buemi also impressed by making it into the Q3 session, and will start ninth and tenth respectively.

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Key Biscayne: Murray loses to 118th-ranked player(update)

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 09:51 PM PDT

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida (AP) — Andy Murray's post-Australian Open slump shows no sign of ending. The three-time Grand Slam runner-up lost Friday in his opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open to American qualifier Alex Bogomolov Jr., 6-1, 7-5.

"I was trying to get myself back into the match, trying to find ways," Murray said. "But I just didn't have that spark."

The Scotsman hasn't won a set in three matches since he was routed in the Australian Open final by Novak Djokovic.

Following Murray's departure, Djokovic improved to 19-0 in 2011 by drubbing Denis Istomin 6-0, 6-1. Djokovic's record is the best to begin a year since Ivan Lendl started 25-0 in 1986.

"I know it has only been a couple of months of the year," Djokovic said, "but I have been playing great, and I want to keep on doing that."

Murray, meanwhile, has lost nine consecutive sets, a remarkable drought for a player ranked fifth in the world.

"The same thing happened around the same time last year," Murray said. "I have been practicing well, training well, and then in the matches can't get anything going."

A year ago Murray lost opening-round matches in back-to-back tournaments, including at Key Biscayne as defending champion. This swoon is worse, with consecutive defeats against players ranked outside the top 100.

Donald Young was ranked 143rd when he upset Murray two weeks ago at Indian Wells. Bogomolov is ranked 118th, and his only other win over a top 10 player came in 2002, his senior year in high school, when he beat No. 3 Tommy Haas in Los Angeles.

Born in Moscow, Bogomolov moved to the United States at age 11 and lives in New Jersey. He has never been ranked higher than 97th but has played well this year on the minor-league circuit.

An hour after his big victory, Bogomolov said the news had spread quickly.

"I was just checking the 20 text messages I received from people I haven't heard from for 20 years," he said.

While his victory gave U.S. tennis fans something to brag about, the last American in the women's draw was eliminated in the second round when Varvara Lepchenko lost to Petra Kvitova 6-1, 6-2.

Defending champion Kim Clijsters needed only 50 minutes to win her opening match, beating qualifier Anastasiya Yakimova 6-1, 6-1. The No. 2-seeded Clijsters was playing for the first time since retiring two weeks ago in the fourth round at Indian Wells with a right shoulder injury.

"It's not fully healed, but it's healing," she said. "After Indian Wells I was pretty worried. Now I feel that I'm almost able to do everything that I want."

Reigning French Open champion Francesca Schiavone advanced by beating Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4. No. 3-seeded Vera Zvonareva rallied to defeat former No. 1 Dinara Safina 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In other men's play, No. 4 Robin Soderling earned his 20th victory this year — most on the men's tour — by beating Ivan Dodig 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Americans Mardy Fish, John Isner and James Blake also reached the third round. Fish, seeded 14th, won his opening match against Julien Benneteau, 6-4, 6-3. The unseeded Blake edged No. 27 Thomaz Bellucci 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), while Isner, seeded 30th, defeated Russia's Igor Andreev 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (2).

Juan Martin del Potro took another step in his comeback from right wrist surgery by edging No. 29 Philipp Kohschreiber 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5.

No. 9 Fernando Verdasco lost to fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4. No. 31 Milos Raonic, at 20 the youngest player in the men's top 50, lost to Somdev Devvarman 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Murray's biggest problem against Bogomolov was serving. His first serves ranged from 133 mph to 95, and he complained of being unable to find a rhythm after holding only three times in 10 service games.

"You serve one at 130 and then the next one at 95 and then one at 115," he said. "There's no consistent sort of hitting the serves and feeling good about them. There was no consistency on any part of my game, really."

Murray looked sluggish with his footwork and repeatedly steered groundstrokes into the middle of the court, allowing to Bogomolov to take charge of rallies.

"In the second set I definitely felt like he's missing something," Bogomolov said. "Everybody goes through that."

Murray couldn't catch a break, either. In the final game, Bogomolov hit a forehand that kissed the net cord and dropped over for a winner.

That one left Murray mumbling.

"It's not unlucky, but ... " Murray said. "When you're not playing that well and you're struggling a little bit, you start to miss balls by a few inches, and net cords, challenges and stuff seem to go against you more." - AP

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida (AP) — Andy Murray's post-Australian Open slump shows no sign of ending.

The Scotsman was upset Friday in his opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open by American qualifier Alex Bogomolov Jr., 6-1, 7-5. Murray hasn't won a set in three matches since he was routed in the final of the Australian Open by Novak Djokovic.

Murray, seeded fifth, lost his opening match at Key Biscayne for the fourth time and for the second straight year.

Against Bogomolov, ranked 118th, Murray held only three times in 10 service games. On match point, Bogomolov mis-hit a forehand that floated over the net, and Murray pushed an easy backhand wide for his 32nd unforced error.

In women's play, defending champion Kim Clijsters needed only 50 minutes to win her opening match, beating qualifier Anastasiya Yakimova 6-1, 6-1. The No. 2-seeded Clijsters was playing for the first time since retiring two weeks ago in the fourth round at Indian Wells with a right shoulder injury.

Yakimova committed 17 unforced errors and had only one winner.

The last American in the women's draw was eliminated in the second round when Varvara Lepchenko lost to Petra Kvitova 6-1, 6-2. The Uzbekistan-born Lepchenko became a U.S. citizen this year.

No. 9 Agnieszka Radwanska reached the third round by beating Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1, 6-0.

In men's play, No. 4 Robin Soderling earned his 20th victory this year — most on the men's tour — by beating Ivan Dodig 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. No. 31 Milos Raonic, at 20 the youngest player in the men's top 50, lost to Somdev Devvarman 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Also, Americans Mardy Fish and James Blake reached the third round. Fish, seeded 14th, won his opening match against Julien Benneteau, 6-4, 6-3. The unseeded Blake edged No. 27 Thomaz Bellucci 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

Results Friday from the Sony Ericsson Open, an ATP-WTA event on outdoor hard-courts at The Tennis Center at Crandon Park (seedings in parentheses):

Singles

Men

Second Round

Michael Llodra (23), France, def. Xavier Malisse, Belgium, 6-2, 6-3.

Robin Soderling (4), Sweden, def. Ivan Dodig, Croatia, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Somdev Devvarman, India, def. Milos Raonic (31), Canada, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Mardy Fish (14), United States, def. Julien Benneteau, France, 6-4, 6-3.

Kevin Anderson, South Africa, def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (24), Spain, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Viktor Troicki (16), Serbia, def. Marsel Ilhan, Turkey, 6-3, 6-3.

James Blake, United States, def. Thomaz Bellucci (27), Brazil, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

Pablo Andujar, Spain, def. Fernando Verdasco (9), Spain, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Alex Bogomolov Jr., United States, def. Andy Murray (5), Britain, 6-1, 7-5.

Marcel Granollers, Spain, def. Stanislas Wawrinka (12), Switzerland, 6-0, 6-7 (4), 6-3.

David Ferrer (6), Spain, def. Igor Kunitsyn, Russia, 6-2, 6-1.

Richard Gasquet (17), Russia, def. Paolo Lorenzi, Italy, 6-2, 6-3.

Sam Querrey (19), United States, def. Mikhail Kukushkin, Kazakhstan, 6-3, 6-2.

Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina, def. Philipp Kohlschreiber (29), Germany, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5.

John Isner (30), United States, def. Igor Andreev, Russia, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (2).

Novak Djokovic (2), Serbia, def. Denis Istomin, Uzbekistan, 6-0, 6-1.

Women

Second Round

Petra Kvitova (12), Czech Republic, def. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, 6-1, 6-2.

Agnieszka Radwanska (9), Poland, def. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-0.

Jarmila Groth (28), Australia, def. Yaroslava Shvedova, Kazakhstan, 6-4, 3-1 retired.

Dominika Cibulkova (25), Slovakia, def. Timea Bacsinszky, Switzerland, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5.

Ekaterina Makarova, Russia, def. Alisa Kleybanova (22), Russia, 7-5, 6-3.

Kim Clijsters (2), Belgium, def. Anastasia Yakimova, Belarus, 6-1, 6-1.

Maria Kirilenko (24), Russia, def. Sania Mirza, India, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.

Lourdes Dominguez Lino, Spain, def. Tsvetana Pironkova (31), Bulgaria, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (27), Spain, def. Anna Tatishvili, Georgia, 6-1, 6-4.

Virginie Razzano, France, def. Kaia Kanepi (14), Estonia, 6-3, 7-6 (5).

Marion Bartoli (15), France, def. Ayumi Morita, Japan, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.

Francesca Schiavone (5), Italy, def. Angelique Kerber, Germany, 6-4, 6-4.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (17), Russia, def. Agnes Szavay, Hungary, 6-1, 6-2.

Vera Zvonareva (3), Russia, def. Dinara Safina, Russia, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Victoria Azarenka (8), Belarus, def. Lucie Hradecka, Czech Republic, 7-5, 4-6, 6-0.

Ana Ivanovic (19), Serbia, def. Kimiko Date-Krumm, Japan, 6-2, 6-0.

Doubles Men First Round

Jurgen Melzer, Austria, and Philipp Petzschner (4), Germany, def. Kei Nishikori, Japan, and Donald Young, United States, 6-2, 6-3.

Marin Cilic and Ivan Ljubicic, Croatia, def. Kevin Anderson, South Africa, and Ivo Karlovic, Croatia, 6-3, 6-3.

Michal Mertinak, Slovakia, and Dick Norman, Belgium, def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Albert Montanes, Spain, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8.

Oliver Marach, Austria, and Janko Tipsarevic, Serbia, def. Nicolas Almagro, Spain, and Alexandr Dolgopolov, Ukraine, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 10-8.

Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, Israel, def. Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski (5), Poland, 7-5, 6-4.

Women

First Round

Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, and Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland, def. Vera Dushevina and Ekaterina Makarova, Russia, 6-3, 1-6, 10-7 tiebreak.

Gisela Dulko, Argentina, and Flavia Pennetta (1), Italy, def. Olga Govortsova, Belarus, and Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, 6-1, 6-1.

Sloane Stephens, United States, and Yanina Wickmayer, Belgium, def. Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, United States, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 11-9.

Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (6), Czech Republic, def. Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska, Poland, 6-2, 7-5.

Alisa Kleybanova, Russia, and Yan Zi, China, def. Jill Craybas, United States, and Rennae Stubbs, Australia, 7-6 (7), 6-2.

Liezel Huber, United States, and Nadia Petrova (3), Russia, def. Petra Martic and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, 6-1, 6-4.

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