CYCLING: Bradley Wiggins admitted his disappointment after being forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia, a race the Olympic champion had made his number one priority this season.
A second consecutive stage win for fellow Brit Mark Cavendish – and fourth of the event – yesterday was overshadowed by the withdrawal of last year's Tour de France winner, forced to pull out on the advice of Team Sky doctors prior to the stage start after suffering what was described as a "worsening chest infection".
Wiggins will now return home to focus on recovery and preparation for the Tour. For now, however, the 33-year-old was left to lick his wounds after a Giro which never really went according to plan for him.
"It's disappointing to stop in this way because we came here for so much more," he said.
Wiggins had seen his slim chances of winning the Giro effectively ended in a miserable 12th stage, after which he plummeted to 13th place overall and five minutes and 22 seconds off leader Vincenzo Nibali.
Ryder Hesjedal, the Giro's defending champion, also withdrew yesterday.
Cavendish sealed his victory in a bunch sprint. Overall leader Nibali finished in the peloton along with closest challenger Cadel Evans, who remains 41 seconds back.
MCDOWELL AND LOWRY THROUGH
GOLF: Graeme McDowell advanced to the World Match Play Championship round of 16 with a win over Stephen Gallacher yesterday. Shane Lowry also progressed by topping his group after a play-off.
McDowell beat Chris Wood at the stunning Thracian Cliffs on Thursday before dispatching Gallacher 4 & 2 yesterday to seal his progress. Wood also progressed with a win over Gallacher.
Lowry thumped Peter Hanson 5 & 4 but then had to win a play-off against the Swede and George Coetzee to move into the last 16.
Ian Poulter, the 2011 champion, and recent Ryder Cup hero, was sent packing, however, after falling to Thomas Aiken on the final hole yesterday. The 1-up decision pushed Aiken through to the round of 16, while Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee comfortably clinched his spot.
Henrik Stenson also suffered a shock exit. Felipe Aguilar, the lowest ranked player in the field, went through at the Swede's expense.
Defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts recovered from Thursday's loss to Branden Grace by outgunning Kiradech Aphibarnrat yesterday. That triumph, coupled with Grace and Aphibarnrat halving the afternoon match, pushed the reigning champ and the South African through to the weekend.
DJOKOVIC SHOULDERS THE BLAME
TENNIS: Novak Djokovic admitted he only had himself to blame after the world number one fell victim to a stunning comeback from Tomas Berdych to exit the Internazionali d'Italia at the quarter-final stage.
The Czech world number six rallied from 2-6 2-5 down to pull off a battling 2-6 7-5 6-4 win. It was Berdych's first win over Djokovic since the 2010 Wimbledon semi-final.
"I started to play more defensively," the Serbian said. "I lost this game by myself."
In the second early men's quarter-final, Frenchman Benoit Paire dispatched Spain's Marcel Granollers 6-1 6-0.
Rafael Nadal continued his winning run, but the clay court master was again taken the distance before seeing off fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4 4-6 6-2.
In the women's draw world number one Serena Williams breezed into the last four with a 6-2 6-0 win over Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain. Next up for Williams will be Romanian qualifier Simona Halep.
Maria Sharapova, though, has withdrawn from the event due to illness, sparking fears over her French Open defence.
MCILROY DECIDES TO GO IT ALONE
Golf: World number two Rory McIlroy is set to leave Horizon Sports Management to create his own management group. Rumours have been circulating in recent weeks that the 24-year-old would create his own team with his father, close friends and associates. Sources now believe the two-time major winner will shortly make his second management change since October 2011.