Monday 23 April 2018

Murray to face Hajek in opener


The great white hope of British tennis, Andy Murray, will play world No 80 Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic in the first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

The fourth seed, who was drawn in the same half as world No 1 Rafael Nadal, will take on 26-year-old Hajek for the first time.

Nadal was unable to defend his title last year because of injury, and among those standing in in his path to the final this time will be Murray and Robin Soderling.

Top seed Roger Federer begins against Colombia's Alejandro Falla, while Nadal plays Kei Nishikori of Japan. Serena Williams opens her title defence against Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Meanwhile, Lithuania scored a pre- Davis Cup tie win over Ireland in the ITF Men's Futures event in La Palma, Canary Islands yesterday.

The Lithuanians' Laurynas Grigelis defeated Ireland's Barry King 6-2 6-4 in the quarter-final of the outdoor hardcourt event. No 3 seed Grigelis is set to figure in two of the four singles matches in the Davis Cup second-round tie in Dublin, from July 9-11.

Top seeds Gareth MacHale and Brian Murphy were the pace-setters on the opening day of the Topaz Donegal International Rally, with their Focus WRC building up an overnight lead of almost a minute over the Fiesta S2000 of Craig Breen and Gareth Roberts.

Tim McNulty climbed to third place thanks to best times on both runs through the Buncrana street stage, watched by thousands of spectators, just ahead of Daragh O'Riordan and Seamus Leonard in two more Impreza WRCs.

Today's eight stages are on the Fanad peninsula, including the world famous Knockalla, with tomorrow's run based around Carrigart, featuring Atlantic Drive.

Kobe Bryant battled through an uncharacteristically tough evening to lead all scorers as the Los Angeles Lakers came from behind to beat the Boston Celtics 83-79 in the decisive seventh game of the NBA finals and claim back-to-back titles.

But Pau Gasol took the plaudits recording 19 points and 17 rebounds, and Ron Artest added 20 points as the hosts recovered from a long-time deficit which peaked at 13 points to triumph at the Staples Center.

A final-quarter surge took them ahead for the first time since they briefly led 25-23 in the second, and a pair of free throws from Sasha Vujacic took them out to a decisive two-score margin.

Germany's Markus Burghardt rode solo for 60 km yesterday to claim his second triumph in three days on the Tour of Switzerland.

One minute and one second behind was Spain's Oscar Freire, while Belgian Greg Van Avermaet finished third. Dutchman Robert Gesink of the Rabobank team retained the overall lead. Nicolas Roche finished in the main group in 62nd place and lies 19th overall.

Irish Independent

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