Tennis in brief: Irish trio look to make mark
THREE Irish players launch their 2010 tournament programme next week hoping to draw inspiration from the recent heroics of Louk Sorensen and Conor Niland.
Sorensen qualified for the main draw of the Chennai Open while Niland went tantalisingly close to emulating him in the Doha Open.
While Sorensen and Niland fine-tune their preparations for next week's qualifying for the Australian Open, Dublin trio James McGee, James Cluskey and Barry King will be chasing world-ranking points on the ITF circuit.
McGee and Cluskey head for the ITF Futures event in Glasgow and King travels to the corresponding tournament in Schwieberdingen, near Stuttgart.
Castleknock's McGee has a current world ranking of 474, and that's good enough to earn himself a place in the main draw of a tournament headed by Belarus' 192-ranked Uladzimir Ignatik.
But Swords man Cluskey has slipped to 1,238 and so he will have it slug it out in the qualifying. King is just good enough to make the main draw in the German tournament and will take heart from the fact that he captured the National Indoors title last week.
Henin class key in Brisbane battle
Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters both survived scares before booking their spots in the semi-finals of the Brisbane International.
Henin breezed through the opening set 6-2 against seventh seed Melinda Czink but the Hungarian hit back to claim the second.
But Henin's class prevailed as she closed out the match 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7/5) in two hours 20 minutes. The Belgian star will now play third seed Ana Ivanovic in the semis after she defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 7-6 (8/6).
Clijsters was also made to work hard in her quarter-final but eventually edged a roller-coaster clash with Lucie Safarova 6-1 0-6 6-4 at the Pat Rafter Arena.
Morrissey into Copa quarters
IRELAND'S John Morrissey has succeeded in salvaging some compensation for his shock first-round singles defeat in the ITF Grade 1 Copa del Cafe event in San Rafael, Costa Rica.
The 17-year-old Dubliner and Hungary's Mate Zsiga, the top seeds, have progressed to the quarter-finals of the doubles competition.