Wildcard entries awarded
Americans Denis Kudla and Irina Falconi were among six players awarded wild-card entries yesterday for the Australian Open beginning on Jan. 19 at Melbourne Park. Kudla and Falconi finished first in their respective divisions of the USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challenge standings. France’s Lucas Pouille and Oceane Dodin were given wild cards due to a reciprocal agreement between Tennis Australia and the French Tennis Federation. They join Asia-Pacific wild cards China’s Zhang Ze and Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen, who won an Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific playoff in Shenzhen, China, late last year.
Murray eyes Melbourne title
Andy Murray has made an impressive start to the new year despite being troubled by left shoulder soreness as he prepares for the Jan. 19 start of the Australian Open. The 27-year-old winner of the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon played an exhibition in Abu Dhabi where he beat Feliciano Lopez and Rafael Nadal, then represented Britain at the Hopman Cup team event in Perth with Heather Watson.
Murray beat France’s Benoit Paire, Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz and Australia’s Marinko Matosevic, all in straight sets, despite the shoulder complaint he thinks he picked up in Abu Dhabi.
The Scotsman says he’s content to not play in a tournament until the Australian Open, heading instead to Melbourne Park. “Instead of playing a match, one of the days I might use as a rest day to recover and hopefully I can get six or seven good days on-site before the tournament starts,” he said.
Suns sign Celtics’ Wright
The Phoenix Suns made a move to beef up their front line on Friday by acquiring Brandan Wright from the Boston Celtics for a protected first-round draft pick. The 2.08m forward averaged 7.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 35 games this season for Dallas and Boston. The former first-round draft pick is in his seventh NBA season. Wright came to Boston in the Dec. 18 trade that sent guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas. The draft pick, originally Minnesota’s, is top-12 protected this year and next year. If the pick is not used by next year, then the Timberwolves would instead give up their second-round picks next year and in 2017. The Suns also waived forward Tony Mitchell, acquired in a trade with Detroit on Dec. 24. Wright was an attractive acquisition partly because he has a US$6 million contract that expires after this season. Phoenix has a guard-heavy lineup that can use some inside strength. “The way Dallas played last year is somewhat similar to what we play — being in the open court and pick and rolls,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Museum buys ‘Moffatt stick’
A Canadian museum has snapped up the world’s oldest known ice hockey stick — made out of maple — for US$300,000. The “Moffatt stick” was hewn in the 1830s in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, “from a single piece of sugar maple,” the Canadian Museum of History said on Friday. “Hockey is Canada’s game — we developed it and we cherish it like no other country in the world,” said Mark O’Neill, the museum president, who called the stick an example of the facility’s “national treasures.” The stick was owned by one family — the Moffatts — from its creation until the early 1980s, when it was given to a barbershop owner, who then sold it in 2008 to the man the museum bought it from.
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
WOLFSBURG BEATEN: Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski scored from a penalty, his 34th league goal this season, finishing as the top Bundesliga scorer for the fifth time Werder Bremen gave themselves hope of avoiding relegation from the Bundesliga by thrashing Cologne 6-1 to grab a playoff place on the last day of the season, while champions Bayern Munich routed VfL Wolfsburg before lifting the trophy on Saturday. Japan striker Yuya Osako scored twice as Bremen stole the lifeline of the relegation/promotion playoff place from Fortuna Duesseldorf, who lost 3-0 against Union Berlin and were relegated with SC Paderborn, finishing one point behind Bremen. “We put in a great performance under pressure, but we are aware that we haven’t achieved anything — in the relegation playoff, the emotions will be
Dustin Poirier won a thrilling unanimous decision over Dan Hooker on Saturday, surviving a brutal second round and persevering to finish a well-rounded performance in the main event at the UFC’s corporate gym. Mike Perry also ended his two-fight skid with a one-sided unanimous decision over Mickey Gall in the penultimate fight of the UFC’s fifth consecutive fan-free event in its hometown. The main event was a barn-burner from the opening round, with both lightweights trading wicked strikes and displaying minimal regard for defense. The second round was a particular spectacle, with each fighter badly hurting the other while throwing punches and
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the season has passed, but his opinion on the matter has not changed. “It sucks,” VanVleet said on Monday in a videoconference of his choice to return to the court during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter campaign. “It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but