Friday 24 November 2017

Sport in brief: Li picks up her second Grand Slam

Li Na celebrates her second Grand Slam tournament win after defeating Dominika Cibulková of Slovakia in the final of the Australian Open in Melbourne
Li Na celebrates her second Grand Slam tournament win after defeating Dominika Cibulková of Slovakia in the final of the Australian Open in Melbourne

Tennis: China's Li Na banished the ghosts of two Australian Open final defeats by overpowering Dominika Cibulkova yesterday to win her second major title and give the grand slam of the Asia-Pacific its first Asian singles champion.

The 31-year-old needed a tie-break to clinch an error-strewn first set but romped away with the second for a 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 victory to become the oldest winner of the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.

Li was the first Asian player to win a grand slam singles title at the French Open in 2011 and ended her 31-month membership of the "one-slam wonder'' club when her Slovakian opponent sent a forehand long after 97 minutes.

Losing the final to Kim Clijsters in 2011 and Victoria Azarenka last year, both times after winning the first set, had only added to Li's reputation as a formidable player with a major flaw in her temperament.

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Golf: A year after being denied the chance to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in dramatic circumstances, Sergio Garcia finally got his hands on the trophy yesterday.

Garcia defeated Finland's Mikko Ilonen on the third hole of a sudden-death play-off to make up for missing out 12 months ago, when England's Chris Wood made an eagle on the 72nd hole to beat Garcia and George Coetzee by a shot.

A closing 65 saw Garcia set the clubhouse target of 16-under par, but he crucially missed from eight feet for a birdie on the last and then looked on as Ilonen birdied the 16th and 18th to complete a 66 and force extra holes.

The players returned to the 18th for the play-off and both found the green on the par five in two, Ilonen missing his eagle attempt from 25ft before Garcia did likewise from half the distance.

A second visit to the 18th failed to identify a winner, Ilonen missing an eagle attempt from 25ft after Garcia had got up and down from a greenside bunker.

However, the third extra hole proved decisive as Ilonen found the same bunker and was unable to rescue a birdie, leaving Garcia a tap-in to secure an 11th European Tour title after his long eagle putt had narrowly missed.

Simon Thornton finished best of the Irish on five-under par overall following a final round one-under 71, three ahead of Michael Hoey who shot 74 while Paul McGinley was a stroke further back after a final round of level par 72.

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Gaelic games: Kildare remain on course to retain their Kehoe Cup title after recording their second win thanks to a facile 3-17 to 0-12 victory against GMIT in Hawkfield.

Goals from Peadar Downey, Martin Fitzgerald and Mick Purcell ensured the home side booked their place in the final. Purcell struck the first goal after 26 minutes and Fitzgerald added a second before the break. A third goal from Downey in the 46th minute put the result beyond doubt.

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Last night's Dr McKenna Cup final between holders Tyrone and Cavan was called off due to a waterlogged Brewster Park pitch.

The Ulster Council is to meet tomorrow to decide on a new date for the tie. The likely date will be either February 12 or 15.

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Basketball: Chris Coyne's expert shooting was the main difference between the two sides as the galway outfit overcame Left Bank Kilkenny on a 68-65 scoreline to claim the National Shield at the Arena yesterday.

Coyne shot two keys baskets in the final quarter before Puff Summers landed a series of scores to edge Kilkenny back in front. Tomas Mitkus landed a crucial basket for Titans with 11 seconds to go. Team captain Paulis Peldzius then landed both of his free throws with two seconds to put three between the sides with Summers' last gasp effort to bring the game into overtime proving in vain. In the only Mens premier league game played, Eoin Chubb top scored with 33 points as Marian piled more misery on Moycullen with a 109-74 win.

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Masters Athletics: 2008 Olympian Pauline Curley added the National Master's Indoor 3,000m title to her collection in Athlone IT, winning in a time of 10:23.67 to claim the Over 40 crown.

Derry City Track Club's Tim Shields won the race of the day, sprinting past both Ronan Kearns and Mounair Bouiaine in final 50 metres of the 800m to take gold in 2:01.89.

Down's former All-Ireland football winner Mickey Linden blasted home over 60 metres in 9.87 seconds to take the men's Over 50 title.

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Hockey: Monkstown have opened a four-point lead over Three Rock Rovers in the Leinster League following their 5-0 win over Corinthian. In the other match Pembroke defeated Glenanne 3-2.

Irish Independent

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