Davis Cup final tied
Serbia and defending champions the Czech Republic were tied 1-1 after the first day of the Davis Cup final on Friday as Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych swept through in straight sets. Djokovic, the world No. 2 and recently crowned ATP World Tour Finals champion, first beat 44th-ranked veteran Radek Stepanek, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes. Seventh-ranked Berdych then put the Czechs level with a three-set win over 117th-ranked Dusan Lajovic — 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 54 minutes. Serbia won their only Davis Cup title in 2010, beating France 3-2 in Belgrade. The Czechs, playing their third final in five years, lifted the trophy last year after downing Spain 3-2 in Prague. In yesterday’s doubles, the Czechs were most likely to bet on Berdych and Stepanek, who have lost only one of their 14 Davis Cup doubles rubbers together since teaming up in 2007.
Ward retains title
Unbeaten Andre Ward of the US is to retain his World Boxing Association super middleweight crown no matter how he fared in a title fight yesterday after unbeaten challenger Edwin Rodriguez failed to make weight. The 29-year-old Ward will keep the title with a victory or loss after Rodriguez tipped the scales at 170 pounds (77.1kg), two pounds over the weight division limit. That ended the Dominican’s first world title chance before it even began. Ward, who weighed in at 167.8 pounds, entered the fight 26-0 with 14 knockouts, with Rodriguez 24-0 with 16 knockouts. As punishment for weighing too much, Rodriguez surrendered US$100,000 to Ward, boosting his total take from the bout to US$2 million, and would forfeit US$100,000 to California’s boxing commission, leaving him with US$800,000 from the bout in Ontario, California.
Scott takes four-stroke lead
Defending champion Adam Scott laid one hand on a second successive Australian Masters trophy yesterday, shooting a five-under 66 to take a commanding four-stroke lead into the final round. Joint leader with compatriot Nathan Holman overnight, the US Masters champion rolled in seven birdies on another breezy day at Royal Melbourne for a 14-under total of 199, well clear of a four-player group that includes former world No. 1 Vijay Singh. World No. 8 Matt Kuchar, warming up for his World Cup title defense with the US next week, was a further stroke adrift after carding a solid four-under 67. World No. 2 Scott, in red-hot form at the end of the best year of his career, remains on track to complete a sweep of Australia’s three marquee tournaments after winning last week’s PGA Championship and with the national Open to come in Sydney
England beat Invitational XI
England beat the Cricket Australia Invitational XI by seven wickets on the final day of their four-day tour match in Sydney yesterday. The tourists were faced with a target of 148 runs for victory after dismissing the home side for 261 amid the constant threat of rain. England lost the wickets of Alastair Cook (21), Michael Carberry (50) and Kevin Pietersen (6) in reaching the target before the onset of heavy rain at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Ian Bell hit the winning runs to be 33 not out, with Jonathan Trott unbeaten on 38. It was England’s first win on their Australian tour and was their final warmup match before the first Ashes Test against Australia in Brisbane on Thursday.