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Bethanie battles bug to advance

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 10:28 AM PST

Bethanie Mattek-Sands  returns a shot to Vera Dushevina in their opening round match at the  WTA and ATP Master Series  on Wednesday. Bethanie won 6-4, 6-4. — AP picture

Bethanie Mattek-Sands returns a shot to Vera Dushevina in their opening round match at the WTA and ATP Master Series on Wednesday. Bethanie won 6-4, 6-4. — AP picture

INDIAN WELLS (Calif): Bethanie Mattek-Sands battled through a bout of stomach flu to beat Vera Dushevina 6-4, 6-4 in her opening match at the WTA and ATP Master Series event on Wednesday.

Bethanie, the highest ranked American in the women's draw, said she just wanted to hit her shots and get off the court as quickly as possible on the opening day of the US$9 million (RM27 million) men's and women's hard-court tournament.

The American, who turns 26 later this month, achieved her goal of winning in straight sets but the Russian made her work for it.

"I was just going to grind it out," Bethanie said. "There were a couple of long points there at the end where I lost and I was like 'I can't believe I ran all that way'. I was just trying to keep the points short."

Bethanie said she has been sick since competing in Dubai last month. She felt bad enough to call for the trainer to come to the court in her match against Vera.

Bethanie advances to the second round where she will face Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova who needed two tiebreakers to beat Polona Hercog 7-5, 7-6 (8-6).

Coco Vandeweghe began her run at Indian Wells by rallying to beat Edina Gallovits-Hall 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on the Stadium Court.

In other first round women's matches on Wednesday, Czech Lucia Safarova beat Kristina Barrois of Germany 7-6 (11-9), 6-7 (7-5), 6-0, Alize Cornett of France surprised Swiss Patty Schnyder 6-1, 6-4 and Kimiko Date-Krumm defeated Yaroslava Shvedova 6-4, 7-5.

Defending champion Jelena Jankovic and World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark headline the women's field.

The women's draw includes two-time winners Daniela Hantuchova (2002, 2007) and Kim Clijsters (2003, 2005) and three other former winners, comprising Maria Sharapova (2006), Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Vera Zvonareva (2009).

Reigning Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone, Australian Open finalist Li Na of China and 40-year-old Kimiko, the oldest player in the event, are also competing.

Although the seeded players here enjoy first-round byes, there are a number of intriguing matchups when the men get underway late yesterday with first-round action.

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro is expected to be tested in his opening match against former top 10 Czech Radek Stepanek. The winner will play Indian Wells defending champ Ivan Ljubicic.

Rising star Milos Raonic will have his hands full with 13th seed Mardy Fish of the US. Canada's Raonic, a wildcard, has made the biggest leap of any player on the tour rocketing from 156th in the world at the start of the season to 37th.

The 20-year-old Raonic recently won his first ATP Tour title in San Jose.

Three-time former champion Roger Federer will face the winner of a first-round match between Japan's Kei Nishikori and Igor Andreev of Russia.

The men's draw also features World No 1 Rafael Nadal, hard serving Ivo Karlovic of Croatia and reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic. -- AFP

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KLHC face foreign threat

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 07:45 AM PST

Jugjet Singh

KUALA Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) will battle three continents when they face Yayasan Negri Sembilan (YNS) in the first leg semi-final of the TNB Cup at the Tun Razak Stadium today.

The other semi-final will see 'diesel engine' Sapura take on and TNB Cup holders Tenaga Nasional.
KLHC, with seven national players, former internationals and national juniors, will face three Pakistanis and five Indian players as well as one a Bangladeshi.
"It does feel like Malaysia playing against a combination of India and Pakistan, but I am confident that we will win and enter the final," said KLHC skipper Azlan Misron.

Azlan, who had skippered the national team before, was among the those who helped Malaysian finish second in the Asian Games.
His confidence stems from the fact that KLHC beat YNS with comfortable 6-3 and 7-2 scores margins in the League.
"We know their style of play, and it should not be a problem for us to start with a win in the first leg, and then consolidate our position in the return leg," said Azlan.

However, the match is not expected to be as lopsided as in the League, as YNS have all but one of their foreign players for the semis.
"We did not have a full side in the League as many of our foreign signings went back to play in their domestic tournaments regularly, and as we suffered as a consequence.
"However, with the exception of Prabhjot (Singh), we will have the full squad and if India and Pakistan can click like they did in the quarter-finals, we have a 50-50 chance," said YNS coach Hasnizam Ah Sim.

The Pakistanis are penalty corner specialist Mohamed Imran, Shakeel Abbasi and Mohamed Waqas Sharif. The five Indian players in YNS are Deepak Thakur, Probhjot Singh, Vivek Gupta, S. Aravind and goalkeeper Tarun Thammanah. The Bangladeshi is Mosuir Rahman Biplop.
As for Sapura, TNB coach Nor Saiful Zaini said: "They are like a diesel engine, as they struggled at the start, but are in full steam right now. They are a dangerous side, and we will have to give our best to deny them a spot in the final."
Sapura skipper S. Kuhan said their main concern will would be Tenaga goalkeeper S. Kumar.
"For me, Kumar is the best goalkeeper in the world and TNB are built around him and his stout defenders Amin (Rahim), Baljit Singh and Madzli Ikmar.
"I expect Kumar to make our life difficult in both legs, but we have our own plans on how to overcome that because we have three penalty corner flickers who have been scoring regularly in the League," said Kuhan.
A thin line separates teams in the semi-finals, and the first leg results might not be enough to claim a the final ticket to the final.

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