Thu, Oct 06, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Sharapova targets return in April

AFP, LAUSANNE, Switzerland

Caroline Garcia returns to Peng Shuai in their second-round match at the China Open in Beijing yesterday. Garcia won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4).

Photo: AFP

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova on Tuesday hailed the reduction of her two-year doping ban as one of the “happiest days” of her life, immediately targeting a return to action in April next year.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) cut Sharapova’s ban to 15 months, saying she was not an “intentional doper,” after the 29-year-old tested positive for the banned medication meldonium at January’s Australian Open — throwing her glittering, money-spinning career into serious jeopardy.

“I’ve gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March, when I learned about my suspension, to now, one of my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April,” said Sharapova, who has 35 WTA singles titles and more than US$36 million in career earnings.

Reducing the ban after she appealed, the Lausanne-based CAS “found that Ms Sharapova committed an anti-doping rule violation and that while it was with ‘no significant fault,’ she bore some degree of fault, for which a sanction of 15 months is appropriate.”

In the panel’s more detailed, formal decision, it said: “Under no circumstances ... can the player be considered to be an ‘intentional doper.’”

JAPAN OPEN

AP and Reuters, TOKYO

With temperatures soaring, Nick Kyrgios made sure an injured fan at the Japan Open had plenty of water.

The sixth-seeded Australian yesterday advanced to the second round by beating US qualifier Ryan Harrison 7-5, 6-2, but the match was suspended for about 10 minutes in the first set after a fan fell on some steps in the stands.

Kyrgios sent some water up to the injured spectator while temperatures rose to 31oC at the start of the second set.

Kyrgios next faces Czech veteran Radek Stepanek, who beat Stephane Robert 6-2, 6-1.

Second-seeded Gael Monfils also advanced, defeating Japanese wild-card entry Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-1.

However, top seed and home favorite Kei Nishikori was forced to retire from his second-round encounter with Portugal’s Joao Sousa after he sustained a buttock muscle injury while leading the first set 4-3.

Having won the tournament in 2012 and 2014, the 26-year-old Nishikori was chasing his third Japan Open title, which would have put him one behind Stefan Edberg’s record four wins in Tokyo.

“It was hugely disappointing to have to retire from my match,” the world No. 5 said. “It is possible that the injury was due to an accumulation of fatigue and stress, but I came into this tournament with a lot of rest and feeling very ready. I will get examined and hope to recover in time for my next tournament.”

CHINA OPEN

Staff writer

Taiwan’s Chan sisters yesterday advanced to the third round of the women’s doubles at the China Open in Beijing, while Chuang Chia-jung and partner Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine were eliminated.

Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan defeated Vania King of the US and Romania’s Monica Niculescu 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 to set up a quarter-final against Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena and Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia today.

Chuang and Bondarenko were beaten 6-1, 5-4 by Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova.

In the women’s singles Angelique Kerber beat Barbora Strycova 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), while in the men’s singles David Ferrer defeated Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-4.

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