The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Australia’s Mark Webber piqued but not panicked

Posted: 14 Apr 2011 06:16 PM PDT

Mark Webber in Malaysia: Off the podium, but a positive weekend building up to China. — Reuters pic

SHANGHAI, April 15 — Mark Webber reacted with typical bluntness yesterday to a suggestion he had been unsettled by Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel's winning streak.

World champion Vettel has won the past four races and the young German would be gunning for his seventh victory in a row in China this weekend had his car's engine not failed him in Korea last year.

With a maximum 50 points from this season's two races, Vettel is already 28 clear of his 34-year-old Australian teammate.

"I'm fine mate. I think if you were much, much younger then obviously you'd be panicking," Webber told reporters at the Chinese Grand Prix when asked about his state of mind after the opening races in Australia and Malaysia.

"But I'm not panicking at all. I've been around the block."

Vettel, who has had to bear comparisons with seven times champion and compatriot Michael Schumacher from an early age, has also been on pole for the past three races.

Schumacher, the most successful driver in the history of Formula One, remains the last to win the opening three races of a season — with Ferrari in 2004 — but Vettel could match that on Sunday.

Such dominance was likened famously by Schumacher's former teammate Eddie Irvine to being beaten regularly around the head with a baseball bat but Webber was not entertaining any comparison to that unhappy situation.

"Absolutely . . . ludicrous question, mate. You've known me long enough," he told Reuters, with a faint smile of disbelief.

"Five wins in a row? He has not just beaten me, he has beaten everyone," added the Australian, who complained last year that he was being treated like a No. 2 at the team and now has that number on his car.

"Nothing lasts forever. That's the way it goes. Like I said mate, he's doing a good job. Malaysia was close between us. Tough first lap, but that's what happens.

"We come here, we'll see how we go . . . I'll stop there," he tailed off, shaking his head.

Webber finished fifth in his home race in Melbourne and fourth in Malaysia after his KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) failed before the start.

"I've been around long enough to understand that I've had some very good seasons in the last few years obviously and people always make the natural comparison between your teammates and all that sort of stuff," he said.

"Obviously Seb's driving really, really well and he's on top of a lot of things at the moment.

"For me, the first race wasn't great. And Malaysia was a much more positive weekend . . . it could have been a lot worse than it is at the moment," added Webber. "I am still performing pretty well I believe and we are learning a lot still." — Reuters

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Andy Murray booed in Monte Carlo for using drop shot

Posted: 14 Apr 2011 06:03 PM PDT

Andy Murray going about his business: playing to win. — Reuters pic

MONACO, April 15 — Andy Murray was booed by the mainly French crowd at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday for using drop shots in his 6-3, 6-3 third-round win over France's injured Gilles Simon.

Simon twisted his ankle at the start of the second set and had heavy strapping applied before gingerly carrying on.

Murray showed no mercy and after the first drop had a struggling Simon stranded, the Briton regularly used his favourite shot, with the boos for the world No. 4 and cheers for Simon intensifying after each attempt.

"I wasn't bothered at all. I was doing what I had to," Murray, who a day ago was saying how the Monte Carlo Country Club was one of the best venues in the world, told reporters.

"Every player on the tour would have done exactly the same thing. I wasn't doing anything wrong. We'll see the reaction tomorrow," he smiled.

Simon backed his opponent, saying: "You play to win."

Murray earlier told Sky Sports: "You know you are in the driving seat and you want to put the foot down and finish the match as efficiently as possible. Drop shots were winning me virtually every single point — I had to keep moving him."

Before Tuesday's second-round win over Radek Stepanek, third seed Murray had not won a match in almost three months since his Australian Open final defeat by Novak Djokovic.

The 23-year-old, whose public image in the past suffered from occasional teenage strops, could face more grief from the crowd when he plays Frederico Gil in the quarter-finals today after the Portuguese beat another Frenchman Gael Monfils.

"I don't know a lot about him (Gil) but I watched his game," Murray said. "He did well in Estoril and can play well on clay. He's proved that by getting to the quarters here this week. I'll have to be on my game tomorrow."

Asked if he could win the tournament featuring world No. 1 Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, Murray added: "Yeah, why not?" — Reuters

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