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The Star Online: Sports

FIA boss backs permanent Australian Formula One GP

Posted: 15 Mar 2011 01:14 AM PDT

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP): FIA president Jean Todt said Tuesday that Australia should be permanently retained on the Formula One circuit.

Todt, in Melbourne as part of a global road safety campaign, said Australia should always host an annual F1 race.

The Frenchman's view appears to be at odds with those of F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who said recently that F1 "does not need" the Australian race as debate about its value to its host state of Victoria emerged once again.

Todt was Ferrari F1 team principal for 15 years until 2007, then Ferrari CEO before being appointed to head motorsport world governing body FIA in 2009.

Todt was keen to promote road safety rather than motorsport on Tuesday, but said as long as F1 continued, the Australian Grand Prix should be a part of it.

"Formula One is not essential (compared to road safety). It is a sport and it is important, and if Formula One does exist I think it is important to have one race in Australia because Australia is among the biggest nations in the world," Todt said.

"Australia has been doing a great job together with people from CAMS (The Confederation of Australian Motorsport)," he added. "They have put Australia among the best grands prix in the season."

Todt also voiced his support for Melbourne as Australia's GP venue.

"Melbourne is a sensational venue with nice people, and when I arrived yesterday, I was thinking how good Melbourne is for Formula One."

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Nadal, Wozniacki win easily at Indian Wells

Posted: 14 Mar 2011 06:53 PM PDT

INDIAN WELLS, California (AP) - Rafael Nadal breezed past American qualifier Ryan Sweeting 6-3, 6-1 in a third-round match as the second week of the BNP Paribas Open began Monday.

Nadal improved to 28 wins from 32 matches in his career at Indian Wells, where he's won twice. The world's top-ranked men's player has lost six games in his first two matches while showing no lingering effects from his recent left thigh injury.

Women's top seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark advanced with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez that took just over an hour. Wozniacki has improved her results in each of her first four years playing at Indian Wells, where she was runner-up to champion Jelena Jankovic last year.

Other women's winners were No. 8 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, No. 9 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, No. 16 Maria Sharapova and No. 22 Alisa Kleybanova of Russia. Sharapova beat 20th-seeded Aravene Rezai of France, 6-2, 6-2 as the Russian star returns to the WTA Tour after a five-week absence because of illness.

"I started like I didn't have my cup of coffee or something, didn't have my peeps around, so that was disappointing," Sharapova said. "When she's on, she can be one of the toughest players to play against. She had a lot of errors. I returned a lot better, and served a lot better in the second set."

There were two upsets on the men's side: fourth-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden and No. 11 seed Nicolas Almagro of Spain both lost.

Soderling fell to No. 32 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, 7-6 (8), 6-4 after holding five set points in the tiebreaker; while 23rd-seeded Albert Montanes of Spain took out Almagro 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Soderling was bothered by a left foot injury that first occurred during Sweden's victory over Russia in Davis Cup play nearly 10 days ago.

"I lost the match when I decided to go on court," he said. "I shouldn't have done that. It's pretty stupid to play." Soderling, who was in bed for five days with a fever before the tournament began, had yet to have his foot examined by a doctor. He is scheduled to play at Key Biscayne, Florida next week.

"Hopefully, they won't find anything bad," he said. "The more I play on the foot, the worse it gets."

American qualifier Donald Young's run ended with a 6-0, 6-4 loss to 25th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain, two days after Young upset fifth-ranked Andy Murray.

Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, defeated 20th-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 7-6 (3), 6-3.

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