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Novak Djokovic into third round after demolition job

Novak Djokovic stormed into the third round of the Australian Open with a three-set demolition job on American Ryan Harrison, as his bid for a hat-trick of titles remained right on course.

Three-time Australian Open winner Djokovic took just 91 minutes to destroy the 20-year-old American 6-1 6-2 6-3 showing some of his best tennis under the lights on Rod Laver Arena,according to Skysport.

Starting off by winning 12 of the first 13 points, Djokovic went on to take the first set in just 20 minutes, and he never really took his foot off the gas as he laid down a marker for the rest of the field.

One man certainly not enjoying watching Djokovic will be Czech Republic journeyman Radek Stepanek, who will face the Serbian superstar in the last 32.

"I tried to focus on the start and I knew that he had nothing to lose and would come out with his big serves, but I managed to make some very important early breaks at the start of the match," Djokovic said.

"I was a set up after 20 minutes and it was a mental advantage, I felt much more comfortable on the court.

"I don't think he was playing at his best, it was probably the occasion playing on the centre court, but I wish him all the best, I think he has a good future."

Also in the evening session, Djokovic's fellow Serb, the No 8 seed Janko Tipsarevic looked in big trouble as he was taken to five sets by Slovakian Lukas Lacko, but he just about managed to squeeze into the next round.

Lacko came storming back from two sets down to force a decider, but it was Tipsarevic who just about managed to come out on top and seal victory 6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-5.

Spain's 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco had fewer problems negotiating his path into the last 32 as he beat Xavier Malisse of Belgium in straight sets 6-1 6-3 6-2.

 

 

Laura Robson to face Kvitova in the second round of the Australian Open

Laura Robson joined the British contingent in the second round of the Australian Open with a convincing win over Melanie Oudin.

Heather Watson secured her place on Monday, while Andy Murray wasted little time in progressing in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday,according to Skysport.

And Robson made sure she wasn't left out as she recorded a 6-2 6-3 victory against the 21-year-old American.

Robson, who was born in Australia, got off to the perfect start as she broke Oudin twice en route to a 4-0 first set lead.

And although the world No 84 settled the nerves by holding her next two service games, she just couldn't break Robson.

The second set was a lot tighter but Robson thought she had got the decisive break in game five only for Oudin to hit back immediately.

Robson, though, broke again to move 4-3 up - and this time she didn't waste her chance as she held serve and then wrapped up the match.

Robson, who will now face eighth seed Petra Kvitova in the second round, said: "I'm pleased with the win. I was a bit nervous as when there's a big crowd like that you always want to push yourself to do better and that translates itself into a few nerves.

"I thought I served well but I was a little bit iffier than I would have liked on the groundstrokes.

"I played pretty well, just not as well as I would have liked so hopefully in the next match it will be a little better."

Mancini: We're still in the race

Roberto Mancini insists Manchester City are still firmly in the title race after the champions closed the gap on leaders Manchester United to seven points with a crucial 2-0 win at Arsenal.

Mancini's side couldn't afford to leave north London empty-handed on Sunday after United moved 10 points clear with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool earlier in the day. And they took the points, ending a wait of nearly 38 years for a league win at Arsenal in the process, thanks to first half goals from James Milner and Edin Dzeko after Gunners defender Laurent Koscielny was sent off for a professional foul on Dzeko, who missed the resulting penalty,according to FIFA.com.

City still have a significant amount of work to do to overhaul United, but boss Mancini believes the memory of last season's dramatic title triumph will convince his players they can catch their bitter rivals. When City lost at Arsenal in April last year their title hopes looked in tatters as they trailed United by eight points with just six games remaining. But they reeled in United and beat QPR with two stoppage-time goals on the final day of the season to clinch the title.

Faced with a similar deficit but this time with nearly half the season still to play, Mancini sees no reason to panic, especially since his team have won five of their last six league games."United are really strong and in this moment they are playing very well, but the season is long. It is important for us to be close to them at the end," Mancini said.

"We had some pressure (to win at Arsenal), but seven, eight or nine points doesn't change much. It is difficult to emulate last season but sometimes it can happen. I don't think we deserve to be seven points behind, but we are there and we need to play well. We have to keep strong if we want to have another chance."

While City still harbour hopes of a successful end to the season, Arsenal are facing a stressful struggle just to finish in the top four. Arsene Wenger's team are six points behind fourth placed Tottenham in the race to qualify for the UEFA Champions League and have a tricky trip to Chelsea next weekend after a midweek FA Cup replay against Swansea.

With Mikel Arteta facing three weeks on the sidelines with a calf strain and Koscielny now suspended, Wenger's players are in for a stern examination of their character. "We started too timid and didn't have enough confidence or authority," said the Frenchman.

"When you play at home in a game like that you have to dictate it and we didn't, especially defensively. It is frustrating because after that the team showed great heart and gave everything."

Wenger believes the negativity shown by many Arsenal fans after eight years without a trophy makes his already-nervous players even more anxious. "We are a bit too nervous to play in a serene way at home. I don't know if it is linked with that (the crowd) but it doesn't help," Wenger said.

Although Arsenal are clearly struggling at present, they finished third from an equally unpromising position last season. "We are in there of course and we have to fight until the end of the season," Wenger added.

Klopp: Dortmund spurred on Bayern

Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp believes his team prompted Bayern Munich's blistering first half of the season. Bayern raced into a nine-point lead at the midway stage of the Bundesliga season and cruised into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League and quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal, where they will face Dortmund next month.

That form has followed two trophyless seasons in which Dortmund have won successive league titles. "We have been winding Bayern up for two years," Klopp said. "We have really charged them up.

"The new approach they have taken with a new director of sport (Matthias Sammer) and their transfer activities also have a bit to do with us. You could say we have been pulling their elastic for two years, and all they had to do was release themselves from it."

After back-to-back title victories, Dortmund go into the second half of the season with a 12-point deficit to make up on the Bavarians and aware that they are really fighting for a top-three finish and a guaranteed place in the Champions League next season.

"We just want to achieve something outstanding once again," Klopp told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. "If they (Bayern) don't shoot themselves in the foot now, then there is no taking the title away from them this season."

Syrian Athletes Support Political Program to Solve Crisis in Syria

DAMASCUS, (ST) – Syria's athletes stressed their support to the political program proposed by President Bashar al-Assad to solve the crisis in Syria.

"the political program ensures the unity and the independence of the Syrian decision, "affirmed the General Sports Federation

The GSF stated that President al-Assad speech highlighted the importance of opening the door of dialogue before all sides to reach a solution to the crisis in Syria without any foreign interference.

"President al-Assad stressed going ahead with fighting terrorism and standing in the face of the plots aimed at dividing Syria," concluded the statement said.