Sharapova strolls into Qatar semis

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Updated 16 February 2013
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Sharapova strolls into Qatar semis

DOHA: Maria Sharapova continued her untroubled progress at the Qatar Open yesterday, brushing aside Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-4 to reach the semifinals.
The Russian, who began the week with the possibility of reclaiming the world No. 1 ranking, has not dropped a set in her three matches, a feat equaled by world No.1 Victoria Azarenka who saw off Italian Sara Errani 6-2, 6-2.
American Serena Williams, 31, will return to the top of the rankings if she beats Petra Kvitova later in the day to set up a semifinal showdown with Sharapova.
Should 15-times grand slam champion Williams beat the Czech she will go back to No.1 for the first time since October 2010 and become the oldest woman to top the rankings.
Sharapova held an 11-2 career record over Stosur and was never threatened during an 82-minute victory.
Australian Open champion Azarenka’s hopes of holding on to the top ranking are out of her hands, even if she wins the title.
Nadal cruises
In Sao Paulo, Rafael Nadal beat Joao Souza of Brazil 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Brazil Open, his second tournament since returning from a left knee injury.
Nadal broke Souza’s service late in each set to win in 1 hour, 18 minutes at the indoor clay-court tournament in South America’s biggest city.
The victory over the 140th-ranked Brazilian came a day after Nadal withdrew from the doubles tournament to look after the sore knee, which had kept him sidelined for seven months.
Earlier in the day, defending champion Nicolas Almagro of Spain reached the quarterfinals by beating Chilean qualifier Paul Capdeville 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.
The 11th-ranked Almagro won the last four games to stay on track for his third straight title in Sao Paulo — and fourth overall.
The second-seeded Spaniard will face David Nalbandian, who beat Guido Pella 6-4, 6-2 in an all-Argentine match.
The Brazil Open is Almagro’s first tournament since his five-set loss to compatriot David Ferrer in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.
Third-seeded Juan Monaco lost an opening-round match for the third time this season, falling to Simone Bolelli of Italy 7-5, 6-2.
The 15th-ranked Argentine had his service broken four times in the second-round loss at the Ibirapuera arena. Monaco, who had a bye in the first round, lost his opening match at the Australian Open and last week in Vina del Mar, Chile.
The 80th-ranked Bolelli needed 1 hour, 16 minutes to defeat Monaco and advance to the quarterfinals in Brazil. He will face Albert Montanes, who beat seventh-seeded Pablo Andujar, also of Spain, 7-5, 6-2.
Italy’s Filippo Volandri won 6-3, 6-2 against fifth-seeded Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil’s top ranked player.
Dimitrov rallies
In Rotterdam, Netherlands, Grigor Dimitrov rallied from a set down to beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-7 (4), 7-6 (0), 6-3 and book a place in the semifinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament yesterday.
Baghdatis took the first-set tiebreak after neither player managed to break serve. Both then broke once in the second set before Dimitrov ran away with the tiebreak, not allowing Baghdatis a single point.
The talented Bulgarian broke Baghdatis’ first service game of the final set to set up his win, before leaping over the net to hug Baghdatis.
Dimitrov said he made the jump with “my last one percent of power.” In other quarterfinals, Roger Federer played Julien Benneteau, Juan Martin del Potro played Jarkko Nieminen, and Martin Klizan faced Gilles Simon.


Australia end T20 losing streak with 4-run win over India in Brisbane

Updated 2 min 51 sec ago
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Australia end T20 losing streak with 4-run win over India in Brisbane

BRISBANE: Australia allrounder Marcus Stoinis took two wickets in the last over Wednesday as India’s batting lineup collapsed late to lose their tour-opening Twenty20 international by four runs.
Virat Kohli returned to lead India after skipping the previous series against West Indies and, after winning the toss and sending Australia in to bat, had a below-par night, dropping a regulation catch in the fourth over, misfielding later in the innings and getting out for four.
The Australians posted 158-4 in a rain-interrupted 17 overs with Glenn Maxwell (46 from 24 balls) and Chris Lynn (37 from 20 balls) each belting four sixes and Stoinis finishing unbeaten on 33.
The rain delay brought the Duckworth-Lewis rules into play, giving India a revised target of 174 from 17 overs.
Shikhar Dhawan set India up in its run chase with a 42-ball 76 that included 10 boundaries and two sixes, including one over backward square to raise his half century.
He had a reprieve on 65 when Adam Zampa put down a return catch, but was finally out upper cutting a short ball from Billy Stanlake to Jason Behrendorff on the third man boundary as India slipped to 105-4 in the 12th over.
His wicket came in a period when India lost 3-24, and seemed to give Australia the advantage. But Rishabh Pant (20) and Dinesh Karthik (30) took up the attack and plundered 25 from one over by Andrew Tye after a tactical blunder by Australia captain Aaron Finch, who lost track of the new bowling restrictions.
The pair put on 51 for the fifth wicket to give India the ascendancy before Pant paddled an easy catch to Behrendorff off Tye’s bowling to again swing the momentum, leaving India needing 18 runs from nine balls.
Stoinis bowled the last over, with India needing 13 runs, and took pace off the ball as he picked up the wickets of Krunal Pandya and Karthik before India finished 169-7.
Kohli described it as a “sort of see-saw battle” and Dhawan said the India squad wasn’t overly disappointed with the narrow loss.
A missed runout when Maxwell was on 9 and a few dropped catches were momentary setbacks for India, Dhawan said, but “we got a lot of confidence out of this game and we’re going to take it forward for the next game.”
Stoinis said he enjoyed the pressure of bowling the last over and hoped Australia was turning a corner after losing four consecutive T20s.
“We’ve got good memories in the team,” he said. “We dominated T20s last year. We were No. 1 or 2 in the world rankings not long ago. We’re confident.”
India has won its last seven T20 series, and Kohli’s squad is using the three-game series in the shortest format to fine-tune for the bigger prize starting next month when it chases its first ever test series victory in Australia.
Australian cricket has been in turmoil since a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March and is coming off back-to-back series losses to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and at home against South Africa.
On top of that, Australia was missing frontline bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, who were preparing for the four-match test series which kicks off Dec. 6 in Adelaide.