The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports


Murray beats Ferrer, into Australian Open final

Posted: 28 Jan 2011 05:25 AM PST

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Andy Murray will get another chance to end a near 75-year winless streak for British men in Grand Slam singles tournaments after beating Spain's David Ferrer 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1, 7-6 (2) Friday to reach the Australian Open final.

The semifinal win put Murray into Sunday's final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the 2008 champion who holds a 4-3 edge in head-to-head matches. Murray, however, has won the last three.

No British male has won a Grand Slam singles title since Fred Perry in 1936 - more than 270 Grand Slam tournaments ago. The drought endured through British hopes including Tim Henman and most recently by Murray in last year's straight-set loss to Roger Federer at Melbourne Park.

Federer is gone from this tournament, beaten by Djokovic in the semifinals. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who was trying to win his fourth straight Grand Slam tournament, is gone too. He was hobbled by a thigh injury in his quarterfinal loss to Ferrer.

Friday night's semifinal was filled with long rallies and plenty of booming forehands that just cleared the net. Murray mixed it up enough at times that his looping lob on break point at 4-1 in the third set went high over seventh-seeded Ferrer's head, allowing the Spaniard to only watch as the ball bounced meters inside the line.

"My body was feeling it a bit at the end," said Murray. "Both of us did a lot of running."

The Murray match was so popular Friday in Britain - late morning and early afternoon there - that it crashed the British Broadcasting Corporation's website server's live footage.

"Change of server for our website in face of high traffic ... Love a change of server - means we're doing something right!" said a Twitter message from a BBC Sport's website editor.

Ferrer won the first set by breaking Murray's serve in the 10th game, and had a set point to go up 2-0 in the second. But Murray saved it and leveled at 5-5. The two exchanged service breaks in the next two games to send the second set to a tiebreaker, which Murray led 6-0 and easily prevailed.

Murray says he and Djokovic are good friends and often train together. "I think experience-wise we are similar," Murray said. "There won't be any secrets with our games but it's going to be a brutal match."

Earlier Friday, the top-ranked team of Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Italian Flavia Pennetta rallied from a set and 4-1 down to beat Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 for the women's doubles title.

It was the first Grand Slam title for the Dulko-Pennetta combination, who made it to the quarterfinals at all the Grand Slams last year and the Wimbledon semifinals. Dulko and Pennetta, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 among doubles players, were already up a break in the deciding set at 3-1 when they broke again when Kirilenko netted a backhand.

They held in their next service game, then broke Azaranka and Kirilenko again to close out the match.

Kim Clijsters, who will play the women's final Saturday against Li Na of China, thinks that 2011 will "probably" be her last full year on the tennis tour.

When asked Friday if the Australian Open women's final could be her last appearance at Melbourne Park, the 27-year-old Clijsters replied: "Yeah, it is."

"I know this is probably going to be my last full season on the tour, and then we'll see," Clijsters said ahead of Saturday's final against China's Li Na.

Fellow Belgian and former No. 1-ranked Justine Henin retired for a second time on Wednesday, citing a lingering elbow injury that forced her off the tour after Wimbledon last year. She won seven Grand Slam singles titles.

"Obviously it's a sad situation to see such a great player end her career in this kind of way," Clijsters said this week.

Clijsters only returned to the tour in late 2009 after a 2 1/2-year break, during which she go married and had a child. She won the U.S. Open in her third tournament back and has won five singles titles in all since her return, including the 2010 U.S. Open.

When she won the 2009 U.S. Open, she became the first mother to win a Grand Slam singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980.

On Friday at her pre-final media conference, she said the birth of her daughter, Jada, and the death of her father, Leo, may have contributed to her return to the tour.

"Obviously so many things happened in those two years - the loss of my dad as well was something that kind of triggered me trying to do something different for a while to kind of get my mind off it and to try and put some time into kind of myself," she said.

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Ferrari unveils new F1 car for 2011 season

Posted: 28 Jan 2011 03:29 AM PST

MARANELLO, Italy (AP) - Ferrari unveiled its new car for the upcoming Formula One season Friday, and Fernando Alonso says he's hopeful it will help him make amends for the disappointing end to the 2010 championship.

The Italian team is the first F1 outfit to show off its 2011 car, naming it the F150 in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification.

The car features a new adjustable rear wing and has been modified for the use of the KERS system, which was banned last year but returns in 2011.

"F150 was created with a simple aim," team principal Stefano Domenicali said. "Our goal is to win the championships. We know it won't be easy, but that is definitely want we are aiming for."

Alonso came agonizingly close to achieving that aim last year, when he had a chance to clinch the title at each of the last two races. But he first failed in Brazil and was then overtaken by Sebastian Vettel after a failed pit stop strategy by Ferrari in Abu Dhabi.

Going into his second season with Ferrari, the two-time F1 champion said he's feeling more comfortable with his surroundings.

"I think I know the team better now and I feel far more integrated into the team," Alonso said Friday. "The development through 2010 was crucial to the new car.

"I'm feeling very motivated. 2010 was an interesting year for me. It was my first with Ferrari and I enjoyed the atmosphere. 2011 will be an important year with a new challenge after changes to the rules. We have to commit to everything we do and I think we are up to the challenge."

Ferrari finished the constructors championship in third place behind Red Bull and McLaren. It was also embroiled in controversy when it was accused of using team orders during the German Grand Prix.

The team was fined $100,000 after an official was heard telling Felipe Massa - who was leading the race ahead of Alonso - that his teammate had the fastest car. That was interpreted as an order to let Alonso pass, since he had a better chance to win the championship title.

Massa is going into his sixth season for Ferrari, but hasn't won a Grand Prix since 2008.

"Our two drivers are a good team and want to prove their worth," Domenicali said. "This year will be as difficult as 2010 if not more because I expect more teams to challenge in more races and I certainly believe that the title will come down to the last lap of the last race."

The Formula One season begins on March 13 in Bahrain and concludes after 20 races on Nov. 27 in Brazil.

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