Ferrer advances in UNICEF
Top-seeded David Ferrer reached quarter-finals of the UNICEF Open on Wednesday after beating Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-3, 6-1 at the grass-court tournament. The Spaniard beat Mayer in an hour to set up a quarter-final against Igor Sijsling, the only Dutch player left in the Wimbledon warm-up event. On the women’s side, Francesca Schiavone of Italy saved four match points to beat Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (8/6). Schiavone, who beat fifth-seeded Maria Kirilenko in the first round, will play against Kim Clijsters of Belgium in the quarter-finals. Kirsten Flipkens, the Belgian who ousted top-seeded Samantha Stosur in the first round, beat Daria Gavrilova of Russia 7-5, 7-6 (7/4). In other men’s matches, Tatsuma Ito of Japan took less than an hour to beat third-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-2, 6-2, and Frenchman Benoit Paire beat eighth-seeded Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-3, 0-6, 6-4.
Murray suffers fresh blow
World No. 4 Andy Murray suffered a fresh blow to his Wimbledon preparations on Wednesday as the Scot was beaten by Janko Tipsarevic at an exhibition tournament. Just hours after being named as the fourth seed in the men’s draw at Wimbledon, Murray slumped to his second successive defeat on grass, losing 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 10-7 (super tie-break) against Serbia’s Tipsarevic in The Boodles event at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire. The 25-year-old British No. 1, who has reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the last three years, crashed out of the All England Club warm-up event at Queen’s last week after losing to Nicolas Mahut in his first match. Murray, still looking to win his first Grand Slam title, is Britain’s only serious contender for the Wimbledon men’s title, which has not been won by a home player since Fred Perry lifted the trophy in 1936.
England to play three Tests
England will play three Tests, three one-dayers and three Twenty20 internationals on their cricket tour to New Zealand starting next February. The Feb. 4 to March 26 tour will include the first Test played at Auckland’s Eden Park since 2006. However, New Zealand Cricket said it had been unable to schedule a match in earthquake-hit Christchurch because of the lack of a suitable venue. The tour will begin with two T20 warmup matches against a New Zealand XI at Whangarei before T20 internationals at Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington on Feb. 9, Feb. 12 and Feb. 15. The one-day internationals will be played at Hamilton, Napier and Auckland and the Test matches at Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland. With Christchurch unable to host a game, Dunedin took over as the South Island’s Test venue. It will be the first time England has played a Test in Dunedin since 1966.
Nadal to carry Spanish flag
Rafael Nadal will carry the Spanish flag at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on July 27, the country’s national Olympic committee announced on Wednesday. Nadal, the world No. 2 and recently crowned seven-time French Open champion, is the fourth top tennis player to be afforded the honor. World number one Novak Djokovic will carry the Serbian flag, Roger Federer will be responsible for the Swiss while Maria Sharapova will lead out the Russian delegation.