Heat sickness, sore, stretched muscles and chest infections. \nThis year's Sydney International has been the scene of more pullouts than good passing shots. \nThird-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia withdrew from her singles semifinal with heat illness on Friday, giving Australian Samantha Stosur her second walkover win in a row. \nOn Thursday, top-seeded Lindsay Davenport, suffering from bronchitis, pulled out of her quarterfinal with Stosur. \n"Certainly having one walkover is a bit strange, but having two, it's a bit ridiculous," said Stosur. \nDavenport was one of five players who withdrew or quit during matches on Thursday, the same day that Andre Agassi suffered a hip injury in Melbourne at the Kooyong exhibition tournament. His place in next week's Australian Open is in doubt. \nMax Mirnyi of Belarus, a semifinal loser to Lleyton Hewitt on Friday, joined Stosur in the walkover sweepstakes at Sydney. He won his second-round match when Joachim Johannson retired with a hamstring injury and his quarterfinal when American Taylor Dent quit with dizziness. \nNadia Petrova of Russia also pulled out with heat exhaustion and Leander Paes of India, who plans to play mixed doubles with Martina Navratilova at next week's Australian Open, left a doubles match on crutches with a left foot injury. \nIt's been hot in Sydney over the past few days, but no hotter than usual this time of year during the height of the Southern Hemisphere summer. \nTemperatures on the center court surface at the Olympic complex ranged from 40? C to 45? C on Friday, about 10 degrees warmer than the air temperature. Those are conditions similar to what the players can expect in Melbourne at the Australian Open. \nThe WTA Tour invoked its Extreme Heat policy on a number of occasions this week. It allows players a 10-minute break before the start of a third set if the so-called heat stress index, a combination of the ambient air temperature and court surface temperature, exceeds 28? C. \nHewitt, who prides himself on his conditioning and ability to play in all weather conditions, says the heat and the tournament's proximity to the Australian Open has a lot to do with the injuries and retirements. \n"It's tough for them when they have to come over from Europe where it's minus degrees over there at the moment," said Hewitt. "So to come and expect to play your best tennis straight off the bat under these conditions, you know it's never going to happen." \nHewitt said the surface at Sydney and at Melbourne adds to the heat problem. \n"I think the difference here in Australia is the Rebound Ace" said Hewitt. "It's at least 10, 15 degrees hotter on court than it is sitting in the stands purely because of the Rebound Ace surface." \nStosur said there's no logical reason for the high toll on players. \n"We've all supposedly had an offseason, and had a break and been training," said Stosur. \n"Any time you play a tournament the week before a Grand Slam, everybody is a bit careful about what they do. But having said that, if you enter a tournament, everyone hopes they can go through with it and then to finish it off." \nHewitt wouldn't be drawn on the seriousness of some of the injuries. \n"Only that person can actually know whether they can go out there and are going to make it worse for next week or not," said Hewitt. \n"Physically, I know there are a couple of people not feeling well, feeling sick, whatever. We can't say one way or another whether that's right or wrong. Only they really know." \nTop-ranked Roger Federer and second-ranked Andy Roddick will meet in a possible preview of the Australian Open final in today's Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament title match. \nAndre Agassi will make a surprise appearance after that, returning from a hip problem that forced him out of an exhibition match against Roddick on Thursday, and had threatened his Australian Open campaign. \nThe four-time Australian Open champion will play Tim Henman following today's final. \nFederer advanced by beating Henman 6-4, 6-2 in 61 minutes Friday, earning three match points with a forehand winner and closing with a booming ace down the middle. \nRoddick withdrew from a match against Federer on the corresponding Saturday last year because of blisters. Now Federer said he's relishing a chance to compare himself against a close rival just two days from the start of the Australian Open. \n"I'm looking forward to this prospect because it's always nice when the No. 1 and No. 2 play each other and it's going to be interesting to see two days before the Slam," said Federer, the defending Australian Open champion. \nDespite the proximity of his first round Australian Open match against Fabrice Santoro, Federer said he wouldn't be holding much in reserve against Roddick. \nHe's only lost once in nine head-to-heads against Roddick and although the Kooyong tournament doesn't carry any ranking points, Federer said it's important to maintain his winning momentum. \n"You've just got to make sure you don't pull a muscle," he said. "Other than that, once you play, looking ahead to the Open, you shouldn't change your game too much because you might enter the tournament confused." \nRoddick advanced to the final after Agassi retired from their match in the first set. \nLleyton Hewitt's winning streak over four tournaments at the Sydney International was extended after the top-seeded Australian beat Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2 in a semifinal yesterday. \nAnd Australian Samantha Stosur advanced to the women's final on a walkover -- the second day in a row she's had an opponent pull out -- when third-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia withdrew with heat illness. \nOn Thursday, Stosur's opponent Lindsay Davenport of the US withdrew from her quarterfinal against Stosur with bronchitis. Davenport was one of five to pull out injured or ill on Thursday at Sydney. \nHewitt, who win here in 2000, 2001 and 2004, had to work harder for his 18th consecutive win at the Sydney tournament. \nA win by Hewitt in today's final would mark the first time a top-seeded player has won in Sydney since Pete Sampras in 1994. \nSerbia-Montenegro's Ana Ivanovic and Hungarian Melinda Czink will establish an odd record today when they meet in the final. \nEarlier this week, Ivanovic eliminated Czink in the final round of qualifying for the tournament, before Czink entered the main draw as the lucky loser. \nBoth won their semifinals Friday, marking the first time in WTA Tour history that a lucky loser and the player who knocked them out of qualifying will meet in a final. \nIvanovic, last year's junior Wimbledon finalist, beat Ukrainian Yuliana Fedak 6-1, 6-2. Czink defeated Lindsay Lee-Waters of the US 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4). \nIvanovic beat Czink 6-1, 6-3 in their qualifying match. \n"It feels pretty strange knowing that I played her just a few days ago," Ivanovic said. \nCzink won't play at Melbourne because her unexpected success here prevented her from playing in the Australian Open qualifying tournament. \nFifth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile advanced into the final of the US$426,000 tournament yesterday with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Juan Ignacio Chela. \nGonzalez, ranked 23rd, will meet Olivier Rochus in Saturday's final after the unseeded Belgian's 6-3, 6-1 win over Jan Hernych in the second semifinal. \nThe hard-hitting Gonzalez at first struggled with his serve in windy conditions. \nThere were four breaks of serve in the first five games as both players battled the wind and semifinal nerves. \nGonzalez adapted quickest and lost only three points on serve in the last five games of the set, breaking Chela's serve decisively in the ninth game. \nHe didn't allow Chela a single break point in the second set but broke the Argentine to love in the third game and again in the seventh to complete a convincing win. \nRochus, ranked 58th, was also impressive in beating the Czech qualifier Hernych in little more than an hour. \nThe French Open doubles champion latched onto a break in the second game to win the first set, then broke Hernych in the third, fifth and seventh games of the second set to reach his fourth ATP final. The win continued an outstanding start to the season for Rochus, 23, who won the doubles title in Adelaide last week with Xavier Malisse.
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
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The Chicago Blackhawks and the Montreal Canadiens, with the fewest wins of any NHL playoff teams, ignited the rink returning from a COVID-19 hiatus with upset triumphs in Saturday openers. NHL Rookie of the Year candidate Dominik Kubalik inspired the Blackhawks to a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in game one of their best-of-five qualifying series at Edmonton, Alberta, scoring two goals and assisting on three others. “We were ready to go, and I think the game was pretty good,” Kubalik said. “I felt pretty good and everything went my way, so it’s nice, but it’s just the first game,