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Button wary of Mercedes threat

MOTORSPORT: Jenson Button believes Nico Rosberg's Chinese Grand Prix win last Sunday has paved the way for Mercedes to become championship contenders this season.

After collecting just one point from the opening two races, the Brackley-based team where Button spent seven seasons - six as Honda and one in winning the title with Brawn in 2009 - finally proved their potential in Shanghai.

In his 111th race, Rosberg followed up on his maiden pole with a debut victory, finishing a comfortable 20 seconds ahead of Button in his McLaren.

"They'll be quick," said Button. "In qualifying pace they are phenomenal, and they have been all year. The first time Nico got it together in qualifying was in China, so they are going to definitely be competitive, and it's great to see that they are."

Easy win for Rafa

TENNIS: Rafael Nadal needed just 86 minutes to kick off his quest for an historic eighth consecutive Monte Carlo Masters title as he brushed aside Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-3.

Nadal has not won a tour-level title since last year's French Open and is cautious over his chances of extending his winning streak at Monte Carlo, where he first won the title in 2005.

"We need to see how all the sensations improve -- the knees, the tennis, everything. I need practice, and today was a good practice," said Nadal.

Lynagh is 'stable'

RUGBY: Former Australia and Saracens fly-half Michael Lynagh is in a "stabilised condition" after suffering a stroke, according to the Queensland Rugby Union.

A QRU statement revealed that Lynagh, who won the World Cup with Australia in 1991, was undergoing tests in the Royal Brisbane Hospital to discover the cause of the illness.

The 48-year-old was admitted to hospital on Monday night after complaining of blurred vision and headaches following a long-haul flight from London, where he now lives, to Brisbane.