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Federer shines as Djokovic survives brutal heat test
Melbourne: Defending champion Roger Federer cooly swept into the Australian Open third round on Thursday as Novak Djokovic survived a gruelling fitness test under the brutal Melbourne sun. But with temperatures touching an energy-sapping 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and ice-towels in use, third seed Garbine Muguruza and 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka both wilted and were knocked out. Maria Sharapova, in contrast, laid down her title
 
 
‘Rod Laver slot may inhibit Kyrgios vs Tsonga’
MELBOURNE: Nick Kyrgios must not let playing on Rod Laver Arena douse his natural fire when he plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the standout match of the Australian Open third round on Friday, according to former champion Mats Wilander. The 22-year-old Australian has thrived in the chaotic atmosphere of the smaller Hisense Arena, beating both Rogerio Dutra Silva and Viktor Troicki in straight sets. But the home favorite has been
   
Billie Jean melts ice queen Sharapova
Maria Sharapova says she has been inspired by Billie Jean King’s story to change her ice queen act and be a positive influence for younger players. She admits her demeanour may have been selfish in the past, but says that could be about to change after being invited by King to the premier of the “Battle of the Sexes” movie. “Billie Jean invited me to the opening in LA. I went to see it. I enjoyed it,” Sharapova said at the
 
 
Sanchez likely to land record deal at United, say reports
London: Manchester United are set to land Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal by making him the Premier League’s highest paid player, according to several reports on Thursday. The Chilean striker would earn between 400,000 and 500,000 pounds ($555,000 and $690,000) a week before tax by moving to Old Trafford, according to The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers. The 29-year-old’s wage demands are said to have scared off
   
Fleetwood sets pace to open title defence in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi: Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood picked up from where he left off in the UAE capital, racing to the top of the leaderboard early in the $3 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Thursday with a bogey-free round of 66. The Englishman was later joined on the top of the leaderboard by Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, who also managed to keep the bogeys away from his six-birdie card. Former world No.1 Rory McIlroy, playing
 
 
Kohli named ICC Cricketer of the Year; Ali bags emerging player honour
New Delhi: Virat Kohli on Thursday was crowned cricketer of the year by the sport’s world governing body, capping off a strong innings for the Indian skipper across all three formats of the game. Australian captain Steve Smith was named Test player of the year as the International cricket Council unveiled its annual awards. Kohli is just the fourth Indian to win the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, following in the
   
Chelsea edge into FA Cup fourth round; Bournemouth suffer 3-0 defeat
London: Chelsea needed a penalty shoot-out before finally killing off Norwich after a 1-1 draw in Wednesday’s FA Cup third round replay, while Bournemouth slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Wigan. Antonio Conte’s side finished extra-time down to nine men after late red cards for Pedro and Alvaro Morata at Stamford Bridge. They had been forced into the extra period when Jamal Lewis’s last-gasp equaliser cancelled out Michy Batshuayi’s
 
 
Despite early hiccups, VAR here to stay: Wenger
London: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists Video Assistant Referee technology is important for the future of the game despite some early “hiccups” with the system. Former England captain Alan Shearer labelled VAR a “shambles” after referee Graham Scott chose not to consult his video assistant over a penalty claim during extra time of Chelsea’s FA Cup third-round replay against Norwich City on Wednesday. However, Wenger has
   
Pique agrees Barca deal with $612m release clause
Barcelona: Spanish defender Gerard Pique reached an agreement to extend his contract with Barcelona until June 2022, the Catalan football club announced on Thursday. The contract increased the buyout clause to 500 million euros ($612 million), reports Efe. Pique has made 25 appearances for Barcelona this season. “FC Barcelona and player Gerard Pique have reached an agreement to renew the player’s contract through to 30 June
 
 
No bad blood with boss Lambert: Stoke’s Ireland
LONDON: Stoke City midfielder Stephen Ireland has no grudges as he reunites with new manager Paul Lambert, desperate to play a part in the club’s Premier League survival bid. Ireland, who spent the majority of last two years recovering from a double leg break, returned to Stoke midfield in the last two matches and is hoping keep his starting place as Stoke take on Huddersfield at home on Saturday. The 31-year-old arrived at the
   
Dortmund deny contact with Arsenal for Aubameyang
Berlin: Borussia Dortmund said Thursday they have had no contact with Arsenal amidst reports their star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is chasing a move to the Premier League giants. Aubameyang’s father and agent Pierre has reportedly been in London this week to negotiate a transfer for the Gabon hot-shot. According to German magazine Kicker, Dortmund want 70 million euros ($85.6m) for last season’s top-scorer in the German
 
 
Missed Messi penalty costs Barca in Cup derby loss
Madrid: Lionel Messi missed a penalty as Espanyol struck in the dying moments to consign Barcelona to their first defeat since August, 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday. Oscar Melendo slotted home a neat finish with two minutes remaining of a temperamental derby cup tie, racing onto Marc Navarro’s low cross to punish Messi for missing a 62nd-minute penalty and send the home crowd into
   
Neymar scores 4 as Cavani matches Zlatan mark
Paris: Neymar scored four times while Edinson Cavani equalled Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Paris Saint-Germain all-time goalscoring record as the runaway Ligue 1 leaders thrashed Dijon 8-0 on Wednesday. Angel Di Maria struck twice inside the opening quarter-hour at the Parc des Princes before the Argentine provided the cross for Cavani to net his 156th PSG goal. Neymar marked his return from a rib injury with the hosts’ fourth just
 
 
England have 8 uncapped players for Italy tie
Twickenham: England coach Eddie Jones named a squad featuring eight uncapped players on Thursday for the reigning champions Six Nations opener away to Italy in next month. Injuries and suspensions have robbed Jones of several senior players for the match in Rome on Feb.4. No 8 Billy Vunipola is set to miss the entire tournament with a shoulder injury, while fellow back-row James Haskell and prop Joe Marler have both been ruled
   
Stokes’ court date clashes with international return
London: Ben Stokes’s return to international cricket could be further delayed as he faces having to be in court the day he was due to play a T20 match in New Zealand, police revealed on Thursday. The talismanic 26-year-old has been included in the squad to play a triangular T20 tournament being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in February but according to British media Avon and Somerset police have confirmed he is due in
 
 
Garcia, Kitayama tied for Singapore Open lead
Singapore: Masters champion Sergio Garcia got his 2018 campaign off to a good start at the Singapore Open on Thursday, firing a five-under-par 66 to share the lead. Garcia, who began a spectacular 2017 in Singapore last year, began slowly but picked up the pace around the turn, and fired an eagle and four birdies in his first tournament of the year. The Spaniard, who won his first Major victory at Augusta last April and was
   
Warriors equal team record with 14th road win in a row
Washington: Klay Thompson scored 38 points and Stephen Curry added 30 to spark defending NBA champion Golden State over Chicago 119-112 on Wednesday, giving the Warriors a club record-matching 14th consecutive road victory. Thompson and Curry, nicknamed “The Splash Brothers,” overwhelmed from 3-point range, with Thompson sinking seven 3-pointers and Curry adding six, while Kevin Durant had 19 points, eight rebounds and seven
 
 
Mercedes to launch 2018 F1 car on same day as Ferrari
LONDON: Formula One champions Mercedes will launch their new car on the same day as rivals Ferrari ahead of pre-season testing next month. Mercedes announced on Thursday that four-times world champion Lewis Hamilton and team mate Valtteri Bottas would unveil the new W09 car at Silverstone, down the road from their factory, on Feb.22. Ferrari have already said they will reveal their new challenger that day, with that
   
Hazlewood is out of England ODI squad, Paine in doubt
Sydney: Australian quick Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of Friday’s second one-day international against England in Brisbane with illness, while gloveman Alex Carey has been called up to cover for Tim Paine. The Aussies lost the first of the five-match series against the tourists in Melbourne last Sunday, and with Hazelwood Thursday determined too unwell to play, paceman Jhye Richardson appears set to make his debut on a
 
 
Baby break for Spotakova
Prague: Two-time Olympic javelin champion Barbora Spotakova said Thursday she was expecting her second child in the summer and would be taking a break from the sport until the autumn. “I would like to start getting ready for 2019 in autumn,” said the 36-year-old Czech, who has a four-year-old son named Janek. “I already know it’s possible to combine motherhood and a career in sports,” added the Olympic champion from Beijing
   
Mathews’ fitness bugs SL
Dhaka: Skipper Angelo Mathews is doubtful for Sri Lanka’s second one-day international in the tri-nation tournament in Bangladesh after the allrounder sustained a suspected injury on Thursday. Mathews, who was in action during Sri Lanka’s opening loss to Zimbabwe on Wednesday, was under observation ahead of the crucial game against the hosts on Friday. “I think he had hurt his hamstring. We are not sure if it’s hamstring or
 
 
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