Barthel surprises champion
Mona Barthel surprised defending champion Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, cruising to victory in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in the quarter-finals of the WTA Tour’s Bell Challenge tournament in Quebec City, Canada, on Friday. The 22-year-old German third seed hammered four aces and had to overcome seven double faults in the 87-minute match on the indoor carpet at the PEPS Laval University facility. Czech player Zahlavova Strycova, who beat Kiwi Marina Erakovic in last year’s final, finished with four double faults and won less than half (42 percent) of her second serve points. Barthel advances to the semi-finals where she will face Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, who was leading Anna Tatishvili 6-2, 3-0 when the Georgian retired from their match. Flipkens upset top seed Dominika Cibulkova in the opening round. In other quarter-finals on Friday, France’s Kristina Mladenovic routed American Melanie Oudin 6-0, 6-1 in just 63 minutes. Mladenovic will next square off against eighth seeded Lucie Hradecka for a place in the final. Czech Hradecka cruised past Lauren Davis of the US 6-4, 6-2 in their quarter-final match.
Leaders opt out of practice
World championship rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa opted out of Friday practice for the San Marino Grand Prix after rain dashed hopes of any useful dry runs. Only 13 of the 21 riders went out on the partly dry Misano circuit with nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi managing just one careful lap before he headed back to the Ducati garage. “On days like this, it’s almost impossible to get any feedback on the bike,” said Honda’s Pedrosa, who has won the last two races and trails Yamaha star Lorenzo by just 13 points in the world title race. “Actually, we saw in both sessions that the weather was changing so quickly that the riders going out with slick tires had to come back in because it started raining or the other way around: Going out with wets and destroying them in just a few laps as it was drying up again. The weather forecast looks better for tomorrow [Saturday] and Sunday, so let’s hope we can take advantage of tomorrow morning’s session to find a good setting and have a good qualifying.”
Wiggins pulls out of race
Olympic and Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins’ withdrawal from the Tour of Britain with a stomach bug on Friday has left the race without one of its main attractions. Fans flocking to the 190km route from Powys Castle in Welshpool to Caerphilly Castle in south Wales were left disappointed after Wiggins failed to start the sixth stage, which was won by Czech rider Leopold Koenig. Wiggins’ fellow Briton Jonathan Tiernan-Locke grabbed the overall lead after finishing just behind Koenig. However, rather than cheering on those who crossed the line first, spectators were lamenting Wiggins’ absence. “I’m sorry to have to pull out of the Tour,” Wiggins told his Team Sky Web site. “I’ve loved the last six days, meeting so many people around the country and enjoying those crowds along the roads. It has been a great experience, but this bug sadly means I’ll now miss the climax this weekend. I’m sorry I can’t continue and would like to thank all those fans, of all ages, for the support.” Amateur rider Joel Bland, 18, from Lampeter, was one of thousands who had lined the streets, and after learning about Wiggins’s withdrawal, he told the BBC: “I can’t believe that. That’s a shame.” The race finishes today.