Kerber survives Sydney opener

Kerber survives Sydney opener

Defending champion Angelique Kerber cruised into the Sydney International third round yesterday as she targets back-to-back titles, while world number five Sloane Stephens narrowly avoided a shock loss. The second seeded German was made to work hard in the opening set against Italy’s Camila Giorgi, but took control in the second to ease through 7-6 (7/3), 6-2. “It’s always tough to play Camila, the way she is hitting the ball.

Her second serve is like her first serve,” said world number two Kerber, who had a first round bye and is now into the third round. “It’s never easy to play your first tournament match but I am happy to be through. Hopefully I can go back-to-back, but there’s still a long way to go.” America’s Stephens battled back from the brink of a defeat to beat 72nd-ranked qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova in their first round clash.

Less than a week before the Australian Open -- the season’s first Grand Slam -- she was on the ropes with Alexandrova winning the first set to love and serving for the match in the second set. But Stephens somehow rallied to win 0-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/3). Earlier, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova avenged her US Open defeat to in-form Aryna Sabalenka. The Czech, who slumped to 29 in the world after being attacked in her home by a knife-wielding man in 2016, has battled back to number eight and was encouraged by her 6-1, 7-5 win over the Belarusian.

Sabalenka is a form player, racing to number 11 in the world after a stellar 2018 and starting the year by winning the Shenzhen Open. Kvitova, who is aiming for her second Sydney title after lifting the trophy in 2015, belted 28 winners to Sabalenka’s 11 and won an incredible 85 percent of her first-serve points.

There was no such joy for 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, whose poor form continued in a 6-3, 6-3 defeat to Australia’s Ash Barty, who is rewarded with a second-round clash against world number one Simona Halep. After picking up a thigh injury at the Hopman Cup, Garbine Muguruza -- another major winner -- safely negotiated her first-round encounter with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-4.




Serena outslugs Halep

Serena outslugs Halep

A fired-up Serena Williams slugged past world number one Simona Halep yesterday as she inches ever closer to a 24th Grand Slam title, while Novak Djokovic survived a battle to stay on course for a record seventh Australian Open crown.

Wall for ‘Dreamers’

Wall for ‘Dreamers’

US President Donald Trump bitterly attacked top Democrat Nancy Pelosi yesterday after she rejected a deal on immigration and the Mexico border wall that would end a 30-day-old government shutdown. Pelosi, speaker of the House of Repres

Serena, Djokovic in charge

Serena, Djokovic in charge

Serena Williams stepped up her drive for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam yesterday by swatting aside Eugenie Bouchard, as world number one Novak Djokovic won an emotional 2008 Australian Open final rematch with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. B

Federer, Nadal stay on track

Federer, Nadal stay on track

Roger Federer ground out a tough three-set win to make the Australian Open third round for an incredible 20th straight year yesterday, with long-time rival Rafael Nadal also safely through in his drive towards an 18th Grand Slam title.

Only Japanese-born sumo champ retires

Only Japanese-born sumo champ retires

The only Japanese-born grand championor “yokozuna” in sumo has decided to retire following a disastrous run of form and injury, leaving two Mongolians on top of the ancient sport. Kisenosato, the first Japanese-born wrestle


Social worker dies in Chennai

Social worker dies in Chennai

Long-time Bahrain resident and Indian social worker T P Abdulla, 71, passed away in Chennai, India yesterday. He was working with Bahrain Disabled Sports Federation as programme co-ordinator. Funeral will take place in Chennai today. He is survived by his wife Fatima and four chil

Busaiteen pays tribute to HRH Premier

Busaiteen pays tribute to HRH Premier

A ceremony was held in Busaiteen, Muharraq, in tribute to His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who recovered after undergoing successful medical check-ups. Traditional Ardha shows, folkloric songs and other activities were staged at the celebration, in t

Syria co-operation vow

Syria co-operation vow

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a meeting in Moscow yesterday vowed to co-ordinate their actions more closely in Syria.  “Co-operation between Russia and Turkey is a touchstone for Syrian peace and stability,” Erdogan s

Salaries ready for VRS first batch candidates

Salaries ready for VRS first batch candidates

The President of the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), Ahmed Al Zayed, yesterday announced that the CSB will efficiently transfer the salaries of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS)’s 773 successful candidates who are transitioning to retirement on January 31. Mr Al Zayed went on noting

Nadal relentlessly marches on

Nadal relentlessly marches on

Rafael Nadal continued his relentless march towards an 18th major title yesterday as an emotional Petra Kvitova swept into her first Grand Slam semi-final since a terrifying knife attack almost ended her career. On day nine of the Aust

BIC set to host Neon Run

BIC set to host Neon Run

Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) is set to host on Friday the much-anticipated BIC Neon Run, held as part of the promotional campaign for the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2019. The event is scheduled to be held from 3pm to

Alaina, Hopkins end engagement

Alaina, Hopkins end engagement

Singer Lauren Alaina and partner Alex Hopkins have called it quits. The country star and her beau, who got engaged over last summer, announced they were ending their six-year relationship on their respective Instagram accounts on Monda

Misbah-ul-Haq to visit school

Misbah-ul-Haq to visit school

Misbah-ul-Haq,former Pakistani cricketer who captained the Pakistani team in all three formats of the game, is visiting the British School of Bahrain(BSB) on Thursday. He will hold cricket sessions with students at 8.15am which will be

Tokyo airport tests driverless bus

Tokyo airport tests driverless bus

Visitors pouring into Japan’s Haneda airport for the Tokyo Olympics next year may find themselves ferried to and from planes on driverless buses, currently being tested at the major hub. Six Japanese firms, including national car