Australia, Japan complete 5-0 sweep
Australia, Japan complete 5-0 sweep
Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt led Australia’s charge into the second round of Asia/Oceania Group I with a singles and doubles win, with Matthew Ebden and Marinko Matosevic also winning their singles matches against Taiwan.
Japan had newly promoted Indonesia eyeing a quick return to Group II when Go Soeda and Tatsuma Ito spearheaded a straightforward win in Tokyo.
Wu Di, who became the first Chinese man to play a Grand Slam main draw at last month’s Australian Open, recovered some pride for his country in yesterday’s singles but it wasn’t enough to stop a comprehensive 4-1 defeat by Uzbekistan.
And India, without Somdev Devvarman, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna after a row over pay and conditions, slumped to a 4-1 loss against South Korea to end their hopes for another year.
In the second round in April, Australia will play Uzbekistan and Japan take on arch-rivals South Korea for a place in September’s World Group playoffs.
China face Taiwan and India will play Indonesia in the first round playoffs, with the losers going into a relegation tie to decide which team drops down to Group II next season.
Australia are likely to face a debate over the inclusion of wayward star Bernard Tomic, who was kept out of the first round team over problems with his behavior.
Kirilenko clinches Pattaya Open title
In Pattaya, Thailand, Maria Kirilenko defeated Germany’s Sabine Lisicki 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) to claim the Pattaya Open title in a tension-filled final yesterday.
The Russian No. 2 seed took the title in two hours 37 minutes at the end of a fluctuating final set during which both players served for victory.
It is the sixth title of her career and her first since 2008.
Since her last tournament victory she has lost four finals, including the 2012 Pattaya final to Daniela Hantuchova.
“I had a birthday before the tournament started and had a cake in my room with some candles, and I made a wish,” said Kirilenko, who turned 26 on January 25.
“The wish was to win this tournament and the wish came true.”
It was a high quality final in which both players served well, hit deep groundstrokes, were not afraid to come to the net and moved their opponent all around the court.
Lisicki also used the dropshot to good effect.
After an early exchange of breaks fifth-seeded Lisicki sneaked the opening set by breaking at 6-5 when Kirilenko put a forehand wide, and she had an opportunity to take control when she held three break points for a 2-0 lead in the second.
Instead, it was Kirilenko who dominated much of the next hour, sweeping the next nine games to win the second set and build a 3-0 lead in the third.
Lisicki held her next service game with three aces as she staged a late revival, and she then saved two match points on her own serve when down 5-2.
Kirilenko then faltered, failing to serve out the match at 5-3 and allowing Lisicki to level at 5-5.
The next two games went against serve, as Lisicki broke to lead 6-5 but then dropped her own serve at love as she served for the match and Kirilenko then dominated the tiebreak.
Barthel defeats top seed Errani to win Paris Open
In Paris, Germany’s Mona Barthel clinched her second WTA title by beating top seed Sara Errani 7-5 7-6 in a hard-fought final at the Paris Open yesterday.
The 22-year-old Barthel, ranked 45, battled for one hour and 56 minutes before sealing the victory with her 53rd winner of the day on her fourth match point.
World number seven Errani, bidding for her seventh singles title, suffered a second disappointment in Paris, after losing to Maria Sharapova in last year’s French Open final.
Barthel, who defeated French crowd favorites Marion Bartoli and Kristina Mladenovic on her way to the final, seemed to be cruising to victory when she broke her opponent’s serve to lead 2-0 in the second set.
She held on to lead 5-2 but the resilient Errani fought back by taking advantage of the German’s nervousness, only to surrender in the decisive tie-break.
Celtics beat Cavs in Game 5, lead NBA Eastern Conference finals 3-2
- Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and the Celtics held LeBron James to two fourth-quarter points.
- Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary.
BOSTON: LeBron James is tired. The young Boston Celtics seem to be getting stronger.
Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and Boston beat Cleveland 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics held James to two fourth-quarter points, earning their 10th straight victory in Boston to remain perfect at home this postseason and move within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.
“I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games. That’s when I have the most fun,” said Tatum, who needs one more 20-point game to tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie record of 10 in a postseason.
“I can’t say it enough: We’re one win away from being in the finals,” Tatum said. “The playoffs bring the best out of people.”
Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary. The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.
“We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7,” said James, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds but also had six turnovers. “It’s up to us to see if we can come back here for one more.”
Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown had 17 points for Boston. Tatum added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals one day after finishing a single vote shy of a unanimous selection to the NBA’s All-Rookie team.
“The sky’s the limit” for Tatum , Brown said. “He’s going to continue to get better. He’s my workout partner. I expect it in myself and I expect it in him.”
Kevin Love scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who are trying to reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season. James has played to the end in seven straight seasons.
To extend that streak, he’ll need to win two in a row.
One of them will be in Boston.
“Our focus — LeBron’s focus — is to win,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
The Celtics opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter and nursed it the rest of the way, holding on through a four-minute scoring drought that saw Cleveland score nine straight points to cut the deficit to 83-71. But Terry Rozier hit Horford with an alley-oop to snap the skid, and that was as close as the Cavs would get.
Reserves Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each scored 13.
James had one basket on four shots in the fourth quarter, and afterward conceded that he was worn down. He finished 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the game; the Cavaliers made just 9 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent overall.
“I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be,” he said. “I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win.”
GOONING IT UP
Boston went on a 15-3 run in the first quarter to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The Celtics scored nine in a row at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take a 36-19 lead, their biggest of the game.
That’s when the Cavaliers fought back .
After a hard defensive play by Morris sent Larry Nance Jr. into the first row of seats, Morris appeared to wander over and say something. Nance to jump up and body checked him; Morris responded with a one-handed shove to the face.
Aron Baynes and Brown came in to break it up, and Terry Rozier put a body on Nance. After a review, the referees called technicals on Rozier, Nance and Morris. Kyle Korver made the foul shot to make it 36-20 and Cleveland went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to eight points, 36-28.
But Morris made a long 3-pointer to stop the scoring drought, and soon hit another to cap an 8-2 run that made it a double-digit lead.
Smart said the Celtics wanted to more aggressive at home.
“At their place, they were the aggressor,” he said. “That showed and they came up with the victory. We just wanted to be that team tonight.”
Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time. ... James had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists at the half. Tatum had 13 points, and Horford had 10 points and seven boards at the break. ... Baynes made his first start of the series, subbing for Morris. ... It took until midway through the third quarter for a Cavs starter other than James or Love to make a basket. J.R. Smith sank a floater to make it 63-50, and George Hill followed with a jumper of his own. ... The Celtics were 10-0 in the playoffs at home in 1986. ... Horford had his 7th double-double of the postseason, matching a career high he set in 2015.