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Novak primed for battle in Oz

TENNIS: Top seed Novak Djokovic is relishing the renewal of his intense Australian Open rivalry with defending champion Stan Wawrinka after both men enjoyed comfortable quarter-final wins in Melbourne.

Wawrinka continued his impressive title defence with a straight-sets win over Japan's Kei Nishikori, before Djokovic outclassed the big-serving Milos Raonic on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic beat Wawrinka 12-10 in the fifth set in a fourth-round clash before claiming his third straight title in 2013, but Wawrinka ended the world number one's 25-match unbeaten run in Melbourne in the quarter-finals last year, winning 9-7 in the fifth.

"The crowd are definitely expecting a marathon like the last couple of years and I am sure both of us will give our best to perform the best possible tennis," said Djokovic.

"We always ask from each other the most of our own abilities on the court so I am looking forward to it. I'm ready for the battle. When we played the last three grand slam matches they were the final stages of a grand slam, semi-finals, quarter-finals.

"Grand slams are the tournaments where you want to perform your best. I'm sure we both are very much aware of that fact, and it's why we get to play on a high level against each other and we push each other to the limit in a way."

All-Stars go global

BASKETBALL: Ireland's best basketballers will get to play against some of the leading nations of the world this summer.

The inaugural Men's Premier League All-Star team will jet off to China in July to compete in the Sino-European Men's Basketball Championship against teams from Italy, Slovenia and the host nation Team China. The four-team round-robin tournament will take place from July 10-20 in Kunshan, Jaingsu Province near Shanghai.

It had been revealed last week that All-Stars would be selected this year from the National League for the first time.

Murphy into second

SAILING: Annalise Murphy is currently second overall after the opening two days' sailing at the World Cup Regatta in Miami.

The Irish Olympian showed great form on the opening day to post two second place finishes in the Laser Radial class, followed up by two top-five finishes on Day 2 of the Florida event.

Dun Laoghaire sailor Murphy, who finished fourth at the London Olympics, coped tremendously in the tricky conditions at the Miami venue on Tuesday to secure a fifth place finish in the opening race, followed by an impressive third place in the second race of the day.


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