Friday 23 February 2018

Clijsters pips Henin in epic Rare defeat for Bekele Hearn backed by O'Sullivan Stirling effort helps Ireland Munoz retires after Giro fall

TENNIS: Kim Clijsters won the 'battle of the comeback queens' with a closely fought 6-3 4-6 7-6 (8-6) success over Belgian compatriot Justine Henin in the final of the Brisbane International.

The match was an epic, with the two great rivals battling it out for two hours and 23 minutes before Clijsters eventually claimed victory in a tense tie-breaker.

"What a match!" Clijsters said afterwards. "I think we set the bar high for ourselves for the rest of the year."

In the men's event, top seed Andy Roddick worked his way back from a dismal opening set to defeat Thomas Berdych 1-6 6-3 6-4 in the semi-finals. The American will now face defending champion Radek Stepanek after the Czech veteran easily saw off France's Gael Monfils.

Rare defeat for Bekele

ATHLETICS: The great Ethiopian distance star Kenenisa Bekele suffered a shock defeat when he could only finish fourth in the IAAF Great Edinburgh International Cross-Country at snow covered Holyrood Park yesterday.

This was only the third ever defeat that Bekele suffered in 10 years of cross-country running but from the halfway stage in the 9,000m event he was fighting a rearguard action behind a trio of Kenyans. Two of the lesser-known Kenyans dominated the finish, with victory going to 22- year-old Joseph Ebuya, who came home in front of his compatriot Titus Mbishei (19) with the former world 5,000m champion and Olympic silver medallist Eliaad Kipchoge in third place, followed by Bekele, who was in trouble from the halfway point.

Meanwhile, a large group of Irish athletes have escaped the freezing temperatures of Ireland as they are currently on a two-week warm-weather training programme in Portugal, while David Gillick is doing likewise in South Africa.

Hearn backed by O'Sullivan

SNOOKER: Ronnie O'Sullivan believes the Masters at Wembley, which starts today, heralds a new era for snooker as Barry Hearn begins to make an impact in his new role in the sport.

The 34-year-old had been disillusioned with the sport but is optimistic about the future following Hearn becoming the new chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association last month.

Hearn also chairs the Professional Darts Corporation and O'Sullivan is encouraged by the way he revived that sport. "There will be less red tape now Barry is in," said world number one O'Sullivan.

"That will encourage new sponsors and bring change for the better in the game. I was at the darts and watching the operational side of it and the production is good. That will come into snooker."

Stirling effort helps Ireland

CRICKET: Ireland U-19s completed their training camp in Australia with a comfortable 172-run victory over UNSW in their second match.

The win was based around a hard-hitting innings by captain on the day, Paul Stirling, and a key partnership between Ben Ackland and Graham McDonnell which took the game away from the UNSW side. An improved bowling performance put UNSW under pressure early on in their reply and Ireland picked off wickets every four to five overs to complete a comfortable win ahead of their transfer to New Zealand.

"The camp has been a success with the Ireland side conducting themselves well and earning the respect of all that came into contact with the team," said cricket operations director Mark Garaway.

Munoz retires after Giro fall

CYCLING: Pedro Horrillo Munoz, who was badly injured when he fell into a ravine during last year's Giro d'Italia, announced his retirement on Friday, his Rabobank cycling team have said.

The Spaniard was kept in an induced coma after being taken to hospital with a broken thigh bone, kneecap and ribs after missing a bend during the eighth stage of the race and falling 60 metres.

Rabobank had offered to keep him under contract this year but said the expectation that he would never reach his former level had made him decide to quit.

Sunday Independent

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