In brief: Higgins hails UK 'fairytale'

SNOOKER: John Higgins beat Mark Allen 9-5 in Telford to book his place in the UK Championship final and close in on a dream return to major competition.

The Scot, playing his first tournament in the UK since serving a six-month ban for bringing the game into disrepute, proved too strong for his Northern Irish opponent in a one-sided evening session.

The three-time world champion won it 5-1, sealing victory with runs of 100 and 73, to keep his hopes alive of a first UK Championship title in a decade.

"I am feeling good about my game and it's great to be back," the Scot said.

"I suppose it is a fairytale when you think about it, winning the first PTC event (in Hamm, Germany, last month) and then my performance in this championship."

Support out in force as Khan tackles Maidana

boxing: Amir Khan will receive multi-national backing when he faces Marcos Maidana tonight, having garnered support from across the globe.

The Los Angeles-based Briton defends his WBA light-welterweight title in Las Vegas in the early hours against powerful challenger Maidana.

He does so with a travelling band of British fans behind him, and he also enjoys a fan base in Pakistan -- his father's country of birth -- and a big US support.

Mageean eyes first Irish Euro victory since 1994

ATHLETICS: Ireland's Young Irish prospect Ciara Mageean (18) will step on to the 'Acoteias' course in Portugal for the women's junior race tomorrow hoping to breach a gap of 16 years since the last Irish winner at the European Cross-Country championships.

Catherina McKiernan was the last Irish winner in 1994.

Navratilova in hospital with fluid on her lungs

TENNIS: Martina Navratilova has been admitted to hospital in Kenya suffering from fluid in her lungs after aborting her attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for charity.

The 54-year-old was flown to Nairobi Hospital after being taken ill on the fourth day of the climb up the 19,341ft mountain in Tanzania, and tests showed she was suffering from high altitude pulmonary edema.

NBA: Indiana 100 Charlotte 92, Washington 95 NY Knicks 101, Toronto 116 Denver 123, New Orleans 92 Oklahoma City 97, Chicago 88 LA Lakers 84, Minnesota 109 Detroit 99, Milwaukee 97 Houston 91, San Antonio 108 Atlanta 92, Phoenix 94 Portland 101, Utah 117 Orlando 105, Golden State 84 Miami 106.