In brief: Sorensen looks to get back on track
AUSTRALIAN OPEN hero Louk Sorensen and Conor Niland have been drawn against Russian opponents in the first round of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Kasan, Russia tomorrow.
Sorensen, who made the second round of the main draw at Melbourne, faces 19-year-old qualifier Evgeny Donskoy, who, as the No 6 seed, won three matches in the Kazan qualifying, including a third round win over fellow Russian Ilya Belyaev, the No 4 seed.
Niland, who made the final round of qualifying in the Australian Open, takes on wildcard Anton Manegin, who, like Donskoy, is 19.
Both Sorensen and Niland hold a significant edge in the world rankings over their opponents, the respective figures being 284 compared to 469, and 285 as against 876.
Sorensen is bidding to get back on track following his first-round loss to Switzerland's Stephane Bohli in last week's Challenger in Heilbronn, Germany.
Niland, who has also entered the doubles, along with Germany's Gero Kretschmer, will be playing his first match since defeat by Brazil's Ricardo Hocevar in Melbourne two weeks ago.
JOHN Higgins beat defending champion Ali Carter 9-4 to claim the Welsh Open titles last night.
Higgins, the reigning world champion who beat Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi-finals, surged into a 5-0 lead. The Scot built up breaks of 95, 101, 137 and 81 as he punished Carter for any mistakes and led 6-2 going into the evening session.
The next four frames were evenly shared before Higgins snared the first frame after the mid-session interval with a superbly confident break of 76.
Higgins said afterwards: "I was delighted with the way I played for the first five frames. I was just properly zoned in."
Sean Connolly (Tallaght) and Linda Byrne (DSD) took top honours in the Axa Raheny 5 yesterday, with the latter impressively leaving internationals Fionnuala Britton (Slil Cualann) and Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny) in her wake.
Byrne won in 26 minutes and 31 seconds ahead of Britton (26:46) and McCambridge (27:46), while Connolly won the men's race in 24:13, 10 seconds clear of Mick Clohisey (24:23), with another Raheny local, Mark Kirwan, third in 24:27.
Meanwhile, another Tallaght athlete, Irish 400m champion Brian Gregan, broke his indoor personal best with a 47:67 opening season run.