Wednesday 17 January 2018

In brief: Federer ready for final showdown

World No 2 Roger Federer will meet defending champion Nikolay Davydenko in the final of the Qatar Open in Doha after the latter saw off Rafa Nadal in his semi-final.

Federer, the No 2 seed, beat third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets, while Davydenko toppled world No 1 Nadal in straight sets also. A high-quality contest saw Federer prevail 6-3 7-6 (7/2) against the Frenchman.

"Obviously I'm very excited; it's always nice to start off the year with a final," Federer said. "I think Nikolay actually has a very good record in finals, and that makes him tough to play in a final. I feel well and I'll definitely have a chance."

In a repeat of last year's final, the consistent Davydenko saw off a sickly Nadal 6-3 6-2, with the visibly tired Spaniard still facing a doubles match later in the day.

Cian O'Connor kicked off Ireland's 2011 international show jumping campaign with victory in the Grand Prix Qualifier at the Arab World Cup fixture in Dubai, UAE yesterday, writes Louise Parkes.

Riding Larkhill Cruiser, the 31-year-old Meath rider pipped Syria's Ahmed Hamcho, with Watch Me de Reve, by a two-second margin and goes into today's World Cup competition with a favourable late spot in the running order.

Irish riders are on a high as the New Year gets under way, dominating the latest Rolex World Rankings. Billy Twomey has climbed to seventh, Denis Lynch is lying ninth and Jessica Kuerten is in 11th place on the listing.

All this is excellent news for Corkman Robert Splaine, whose tenure as Irish Team Manager has been confirmed for two more years.

Splaine signed a four-year contract with Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) in 2009, with a break option at the end of 2010. However HSI yesterday confirmed that he will continue in the role "up to the London Olympic Games".

CIARA Mageean's status as one of the most exciting young middle-distance talents in the world been underlined by her securing a lucrative personal sponsorship deal at just 18 years of age, writes Cliona Foley.

The Portaferry teenager has just signed a six-figure deal with US sportswear giants New Balance, which will run for the next three years, with the option of a fourth.

Since winning 1,500m silver at the World Junior Championships last summer, Mageean has been bombarded with college and sponsorship offers, but she is currently on a gap year and had not yet confirmed her next move. But this deal means that her future options are no longer dependent on accepting an athletics scholarship.

Her Belfast coach Eamonn Christie described the deal yesterday as "the last piece of the jigsaw that will enable Ciara to go to the next level".

PROFESSIONAL boxing is mourning the loss of Gary Mason, the former British heavyweight champion, who died in a road accident while cycling on Thursday. He was 48 years old.

Mason became well known in the 1980s and cemented that reputation in a British and European unification contest with Lennox Lewis in 1991.

Mason fought 38 times as a professional in a career spanning 10 years, with 37 wins and one loss. He knocked out 34 of his 37 victims. Mason's solitary loss was to Lewis.

Irish Independent

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