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Holder Azar' out of Oz Open

TENNIS: Victoria Azarenka's tumultuous reign as the Australian Open's two-time champion ended today with a lot of shouting from her and some boos from the crowd.

Australian fans love their champions but dislike bad sportsmanship, and Azarenka has not been able to shake the notion that she committed the sin a year ago with a questionably timed medical timeout.

In 2013, the crowd booed Azarenka for taking what many considered to be a strategic, rather than an injury, timeout late in her semi-final against Sloane Stephens. They booed again today when she swatted a ball in frustration late in her quarter-final loss to Agnieszka Radwanska.

The No 2 seeded Azarenka vented her frustration throughout the match by screaming at errors, smacking her thigh and her racket and even slapping the court.

This results meant the Australian Open was left without a defending champion in the semi-finals for the first time in the professional era when Azarenka followed Novak Djokovic out of the door.

Kamui races for free

F1: Kamui Kobayashi has revealed he is not being paid a penny by Caterham for his return to Formula 1 this season.

Caterham have confirmed Japanese driver Kobayashi and Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson will form their driver line-up for the year ahead.

Kobayashi returns to F1 after a year on the sidelines following his axe from Sauber at the end of 2012, the 27-year-old instead driving a Ferrari in the GT Pro class of the World Endurance Championship last season.

His desire to return to F1 full-time, in conjunction with the fact he offered to drive for free as well as handing over £1million in sponsorship raised by his fans to get him back into the sport, all played a key role in attaining the drive with Caterham.

"It is good they (the fans) are still supporting me. Japanese fans are definitely happy I've managed to get this seat," said Kobayashi.

 

IRISH WAIT ON GREEN LIGHT

WINTER OLYMPICS: Ireland's five-strong team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi are awaiting ratification from the Olympic Council (OCI).

Snowboarder Seamus O'Connor (half-pipe and slope-style), alpine skiers Conor Lyne and Florence Bell (slalom and giant slalom), cross-country skier Jan Rossiter and skeleton racer Sean Greenwood O'Foighil have been nominated by their federations following the passing of the qualification deadline last Sunday. But they must wait for the green light from the OCI who will check their credentials.

All of the team have Irish parents or grandparents but have been born and raised in either America, Canada or Britain, apart from Rossiter, who was born in Cork but grew up in Ontario to an Irish father and Czech mother.


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