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Becker: Andy can win in Oz

TENNIS: Boris Becker believes Andy Murray is a title contender at the Australian Open despite his lack of match play.

Murray will go into the year's first grand slam having played only two competitive matches since undergoing back surgery in September.

The Scot's defeat to Florian Mayer in the second round in Doha last week, when he faded badly after a bright start, indicated it will be some time before he is back to his best.

But Becker said: "Whoever has won the US Open and has won Wimbledon can win the Australian Open.

"The big question for him with his back surgery is how quickly can he get match fitness?

"And, with (coach Ivan) Lendl in his corner, I'm sure he'll be well prepared."

Two-time former Australian Open champion Becker is at Melbourne Park for the first time in 15 years in his new role as head coach of Novak Djokovic, meaning there will be almost as much attention off the court as on it when it starts on Monday.


SNOOKER: Shaun Murphy has embarked on a diet packed with greens – and now the reds and blacks are coming a lot easier too for the former world champion.

The 2005 winner at the Crucible fired his first 147 maximum break for 13 years this week during the Championship League event in Essex, and heads to the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace in London full of confidence.

Sale-based Murphy will be aiming for the £200,000 top prize in London, although a first-round match against China's Ding Junhui promises to test him to the limit.

The healthy lifestyle is one Murphy hopes will improve his prospects on the table, with the 31-year-old admitting: "Since August, I have stopped eating things which I don't deem to be good for me. I wish I had done this years ago."


BASKETBALL: C&S UCC Demons won a thrilling overtime clash in Cork's Neptune Stadium, beating Killester by a single point, 87-86.

Overtime saw both teams land what may have been killer blows but neither was willing to wilt. With 26 seconds left, the Demons were in front and Killester in possession but Killester failed to capitalise and John Behan missed an easy two-pointer, allowing Demons to win.