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Sharapova blow-up hits world number one hopes SINGAPORE: Maria Sharapova's hopes of ending a year as world number one for the first time in her career faded dramatically Thursday when she crashed in straight sets to Petra Kvitova at the WTA Finals.The Russian superstar needed a win to boost her chances of overtaking top-ranked Serena Williams but she blew up in spectacular fashion as Kvitova won 6-3, 6-2 in 75 minutes in Singapore.It was the second upset in quick succession at the season finale after Simona Halep stunned Williams 6-0, 6-2 on Wednesday, the 18-time Grand Slam-winner's worst defeat in 16 years.To finish the year as world number one, second-ranked Sharapova, 27, now needs to win the end-of-season championship and hope Williams doesn't reach the final.But her first loss to Kvitova since 2011 left her campaign hanging by a thread as she sits bottom of White Group with two defeats and one round-robin match left against Agnieszka ...

Sarfraz's fiery ton lifts Pakistan in first Test DUBAI: Sarfar Ahmed smashed his country's fourth fastest hundred to lift Pakistan to 454-8 at tea on the second day of the first Test against Australia in Dubai on Thursday.The 27-year-old hit paceman Mitchell Marsh over the slips for his 14th boundary to complete his hundred off just 80 balls as Pakistan continued to pile agony on Australian bowlers on a flat Dubai stadium pitch.Ahmed, who scored his first hundred in Sri Lanka two months ...

Balotelli and Rodgers under Anfield spotlight LONDON: Under-pressure Liverpool taskmaster Brendan Rodgers will tackle troubled striker Mario Balotelli over both a half-time shirt-swap and a pedestrian effort as Real Madrid ran rampant at Anfield on Wednesday.Rodgers himself is also coming under scrutiny, with Liverpool struggling in the Champions League and sluggish in the Premier League since the sale of star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona.At 3-0 down at half-time on Wednesday, Balotelli had shown none of the bite or brilliance that ...

Halep seals semis spot without hitting a ball SINGAPORE: Simona Halep qualified for the WTA Finals semis without picking up a racquet on Thursday when Eugenie Bouchard won the first game of her match against Serena Williams.Under the round robin format, the Romanian had been virtually certain of qualifying after winning her first two matches, but she needed Bouchard to take at least one game from Williams to seal her progress.And Canada's Bouchard, beaten soundly in her opening matches, fought off break points ...

Pakistan out for 454 in first Test DUBAI: Pakistan were bowled out for 454 on the second day of the opening Test against Australia in Dubai on Thursday.Wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed scored 109 for his second Test hundred as Pakistan were bowled out two balls after tea interval.Zulfiqar Babar was unable to resume after scoring seven due to an injured hand.Earlier Misbah-ul Haq scored 69 and Asad Shafiq made 89.Mitchell Johnson took 3-39 while left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe had figures of 2-107.The ...

Clermont's Bardy gets five-week ban for Vunipola strike DUBLIN: Clermont Auvergne back-row Julien Bardy was banned for five weeks on Thursday after being found guilty of striking Saracens' No 8 Billy Vunipola with his knee in a European Rugby Chhampions Cup match.Bardy was cited for an incident that took place two minutes from time in French side Clermont's 30-23 opening Pool One loss at English giants Saracens' Allianz Park ground in north London.The 29-year-old Bardy, who pleaed guilty, appeared before a European Professional ...

Wozniacki close to semis after Radwanska victory SINGAPORE: Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki all but booked her place in the semi-finals of the WTA Finals with an impressive 7-5 6-3 win over Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday.Showing no signs of fatigue after her exhausting three-set win over Maria Sharapova two days earlier, Wozniacki rebounded from a slow start to overrun Radwanska with an ominous display. Wozniacki was down an early service break in the opening set but quickly got back on terms and proved too ...


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