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Kvitova sights on No 1 ranking

TENNIS: Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova continued her pursuit of the No1 ranking by beating Daniela Hantuchova 6-0 6-4 to move into the Sydney International semi-finals against French Open winner Li Na.

Kvitova, who helped the Czech Republic win the Hopman Cup at the weekend, needed just over an hour to beat Hantuchova, the losing finalist at last week’s Brisbane International, and she can overhaul Caroline Wozniacki at the top of the rankings if she wins in Sydney.

Defending champion Li, who reached the Australian Open final last year, had a 6-2 7-6 win over Czech Lucie Safarova.

Hearn clears air after Allen rift

SNOOKER: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn believes he has won over Mark Allen after a “frank and friendly” discussion with the UK Championship runner-up.

The Antrim native caused controversy last month when he called for Hearn to resign, but the top man said: “We had a good meeting and the chat was good at opening his mind as to where he wants to be.”

Valverde renews cycling outlook

CYCLING: Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde has said his time away from racing due to a doping suspension has given him new perspective on the sport.

Valverde was banned for two years from January 2010 after being implicated in Operation Puerto, a blood-doping ring in Spain involving over 50 riders.

“I’m starting to looking at things a little bit differently because I had sort of taken a back seat from cycling,” he said.

Niland seeks Oz Open progress

TENNIS: Conor Niland will take on Switzerland’s Stephane Bohli in the first round of the qualifying competition for the Australian Open in Melbourne tomorrow.

The Irish No1 is hoping to qualify for his third straight Grand Slam event.

BASKETBALL: Kobe Bryant rolled back the years with a 48-point effort to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 99-83 win over the Phoenix Suns last night.

NBA: Charlotte 70 Houston 82, Philadelphia 112 Sacramento 85, Washington 93 Toronto 78, Detroit 86 Dallas 100, Milwaukee 106 San Antonio 103, Minnesota 100 Chicago 111, Memphis 95 Oklahoma City 100, Utah 113 Cleveland 105, Portland 105 LA Clippers 97, Golden State 111 Miami 106 (OT), LA Lakers 99 Phoenix 83.