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Steve Smith scored a sparkling
century and put on 128 for the
sixth wicket with Brad Haddin
to rescue Australia and push the
hosts to a respectable 326 all out
on the first day of the fifth Ashes
test against England yesterday.
England s nemesis Mitchell
Johnson drove home the
advantage in the final half hour by
removing Michael Carberry for
a duck to leave captain Alastair
Cook (seven) and nightwatchman
James Anderson (one) at the
crease at eight for one at stumps.
Smith was the final Australian
wicket to fall for 115 and while
his second century of the series
put a thick layer of gloss on the
day for the hosts, there was no
doubt the momentum shifted
with wicketkeeper Haddin s
Looking to seal a 5-0 series
sweep, Australia were well and
truly on the ropes at 97 for five
after England struck twice in
the 15 minutes before lunch and
then dismissed George Bailey
for one within 10 minutes of the
Haddin, as he has in all four
previous tests when his team were
in similarly precarious positions,
came out oozing positivity and
took the game to the bowlers with
a barrage of aggressive strokes.
"Brad was great out there,"
Smith told reporters. "He was
great to bat with. I sort of took a
back seat and just watched him
go. e way he played his shots
today, it was brilliant to form a
partnership with him and get us
in the position we are now.
"When you get sent in and get
326, you d take that and to have
them one-for overnight as well,
we re in a good position."
England contributed to their
own misery by bowling short to
a batsman who was clearly happy
to pull and hook to the boundary
all day with Ben Stokes (6-99)
suffering particular punishment.
e torment for the tourists
only deepened when paceman
Boyd Rankin, one of three new
caps in the side, hobbled off the
field after lunch with what looked
like a hamstring injury. e tall
Irishman returned to bowl in the
final session but lasted just one
delivery before having to limp
back off the field. England said
his injury was just cramp, however.
Haddin grabbed his fifth half
century of the series before tea
with a hurried single and Smith
joined him with a half century of
his own with a cover drive for four
soon after the break.
Stokes got a measure of revenge
when he ended Haddin s innings
after 124 match-turning minutes,
inducing an edge which Cook
held in the slips.
"When a guy s playing like that
against you, I guess you have to
hold up your hands to a bloke in
really good form," Stokes said,
who added a maiden five-wicket
haul to the first test century he
scored in Perth. "I think it s just
the way he comes out and plays
his natural game straight away
whatever the situation is."
at wicket brought out
Johnson, who stayed with Smith
for an hour or so and 12 runs
before holing out in the deep
to substitute fielder Joe Root to
give debutant leg spinner Scott
Borthwick his first test wicket.
inexorably towards his third
test century, teeing it up with a
thunderous six off Borthwick
to move to 99 and passing the
milestone with a clattering four,
his 16th, two balls later. "I haven t
played with too many ner ves in
this series," Smith said, who hit
17 fours and the one six in his
154-ball innings. "I ve felt quite
good every time I ve gone to the
crease ... and today I guess was my
Australia s tail continued to wag
and Ryan Harris scored 22 before
becoming Stokes s fourth victim
with Peter Siddle following him
back to the pavilion from the next
delivery for a golden duck.
Nathan Lyon fended off the
hat-trick ball from Stokes and
it was Smith who became the
young all-rounder s sixth victim
when he slapped the ball to Root
at midwicket to end the innings.
e day had started well for
England when Cook won the toss
for the first time in the series and
chose to send his new-look team
out to bowl on a green-tinged
wicket under overcast skies.
David Warner (16), Chris
Rogers (11), Australia captain
Michael Clarke (10) and Shane
Watson (43) were then all
dismissed as England claimed the
honours in the first session.
Saturday, January 4, 2014
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PICTURE: Getty Images
England s paceman Ben Stokes celebrates the wicket of
Australia s Brad Haddin in yesterday s fifth Ashes cricket test at
the Sydney Cricket Ground.
One Williams was a coup for the
ASB Classic this year but tournament
organisers are hopeful of a Williams
double-act for the 2015 edition.
World No 1 Serena Williams will be
the principal target for next year s ASB
Classic and tournament director Karl
Budge will also hope to secure Venus.
It might sound a fanciful proposition,
given the status of the tournament on
the WTA Tour --- its $US250,000
prizemoney is near to the lowest on tour
--- but Budge said they were not far off
securing Serena for this year s event.
He had mentioned it to Venus this
week, partly tongue-in-cheek, but will
put it more seriously to the pair at the
upcoming Australian Open.
"I think the response will be favourable,"
he said. "We weren t a million miles away
from getting Serena this year. She was my
No 1 target this year.
"I know for a fact Serena sat in her
hotel room with her agent and debated
for some time where she was going to
go in week one (this season). One of
the problems was she was defending
champion at Brisbane."
ere are myriad issues to overcome,
not least of all money.
Budge has a limited budget to offer
appearance fees to top players and a lot
of that was pocketed by Venus Williams
and Ana Ivanovic this year. Williams
stands to take home close to $US100,000
if she wins today in prizemoney and
appearance fees --- her contract offered
good inducements to go deep into the
Another complicating factor is the ASB
Classic is restricted to just one top 10
player, and it is difficult to predict how
players will fare in the rankings this year.
Ivanovic has also been good value this
week and been a crowd favourite and
Budge would attempt to get her back
next year if she wins today s final.
"If Ana wins, that might change things
a little," Budge said. "We have to do
the right thing by our champions and
invest in them as well. ose are the
considerations you always have to have.
"If Venus wins, maybe that s a reality
and we could put a deal together for
both of the Williams sisters. My revenue
wouldn t stretch as far as having Ana and
"It s always a balancing act. ere s always
money for a good idea. We can probably
afford to go out and get both of them
(Williams sisters) if I know in March and
figure out how to commercialise it. If it s
done in September, you re left with what
is in your budget at the start of the year."
Budge admits he s "ambitious" and has
aggressively chased Roger Federer and
Rafael Nadal in the past for the Heineken
Open. Federer remains his No 1 target
for the men s event.
He also has on his wishlist for the
women s tournament at some stage in
the future players like rising American
Sloane Stephens, former world No 1
Caroline Wozniacki and China s Li Na.
Serena Williams has dominated
woman s tennis for much of the last
decade, winning 57 singles titles,
including 17 grand slam singles titles,
and banked more than $US54 million in
career prizemoney. She won 11 titles last
year, including both the French and US
She typically plays the first week of
the year, having played in Brisbane the
past three years, and would not normally
consider a tournament of the ASB
Classic s level if it was held further before
a grand slam tournament.
Venus Williams has talked
enthusiastically about playing in Auckland
and said she has felt "like a Kiwi" because
of the support she has received at Stanley
St. She also said earlier this week she
wished she had played the ASB Classic
sooner in her career and would try to lure
Serena to Auckland next year.
Meanwhile, Serena did not let her
misfiring serve stop her from defeating
Maria Sharapova 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) to reach
the final of the Brisbane International
e American world No 1 extended
her winning streak over the Russian
to 14 matches. Williams prevailed
despite serving poorly throughout, with
Sharapova unable to take advantage in
a match where there were 10 breaks of
serve in total.
e American will now face world No
2 Victoria Azarenka in today s final after
the Belarusian defeated Serbia s Jelena
Jankovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
It is the final most hoped
would eventuate, with two
former world No 1s and grand
slam champions squaring off
against each other.
In fact, a final involving Ana
Ivanovic and Venus Williams
would not look out of place in
the final of a major tournament
let alone a leafy corner of
Auckland with a relatively small
purse on offer.
Both players took different
routes to the ASB Classic
decider, with Williams enjoying
the day off after fifth seed Jamie
Hampton withdrew with a
hip injury sustained yesterday
up. Hampton admitted she
"probably" would have played
if the Australian Open was
not around the corner but she
did not want to jeopardise her
preparations for the year s first
grand slam tournament.
It was disappointing for the
big crowd at Stanley St and their
hopes of a quality day s play
were also scuppered somewhat
with the second semi-final.
Ivanovic was rarely troubled
in her match, beating doubles
partner and third seed Kirsten
Flipkens 6-0, 7-6 (3) in 70
minutes. Ivanovic has played
some excellent tennis this week,
but has not really been tested.
It was something Flipkens
highlighted when she reflected
afterwards that she found it
difficult to adjust to playing
someone of Ivanovic s level
(Ivanovic is ranked No 16) as
opposed to others she has faced
"I didn t think I was playing
bad," Flipkens said. "It was just
Ana was playing amazing. I
haven t played against a top-20
player since Venus at the US
Open. It s a different kind of
level playing against Ana than
others ranked around 50."
Williams might be ranked
47 but she is a seven-time
grand slam champion and has
beaten Ivanovic eight out of the
nine times the pair have met.
Ivanovic s only win came in
the quarter-finals of the 2008
Australian Open when she
finished runner-up to Maria
"I have struggled against
both Serena and Venus in the
past because they have a big
serve and sometimes that s
overwhelming to see that
coming at you," Ivanovic said.
"Over the years you get used to
it a bit, you mature and handle
the situations differently.
ere s no doubt it s going to
be a very tough match and it s a
matter of still doing the things
I ve been working on and trying
to impose my game."
Both players have errors
in them but both have also
improved as the week has
progressed. e pair are the
two biggest servers at the
tournament --- Williams has
registered one at 202kph this
week --- and they both go after
ere are varying theories
about whether it is an advantage
or not for Williams to have had
the day off.
"I feel like I have been playing
every day and I have a rhythm,"
Ivanovic said. "Venus had today
off, which can be good because
she s more rested, but sometimes
it means you lose that feeling of
playing a match every day."
It also means Ivanovic will
have one more day of her
morning ritual in Auckland. e
26-year-old is superstitious ---
her most obvious is her efforts
to avoid stepping on white
lines on court --- and she has
eaten the same breakfast every
morning this week.
"I said, one more day and then
I can change my breakfast,"
the tournament s second seed
admitted. "My dad is like, I
don t understand how you can
eat salmon for breakfast . I have
salmon and rice every morning
and some eggs. It s quite weird.
I really love fish and the salmon
here just tastes amazing."
Victory would be even more
palatable and for Ivanovic it
would be her first on tour since
2011. Williams has not won
It is only hoped the match lives
up to expectations. --- APNZ
Producing an encore effort to rival
Wednesday s ferocious hitting display
is probably out of the question so the
Black Caps will be hoping they can
take a crucial 2-1 series lead against
the West Indies in Nelson today.
Wednesday s rain-affected one-day
international in Queenstown saw
Corey Anderson and Jesse Ryder
bludgeon centuries at a blistering
pace as Anderson made the fastest
on record in 36 balls, while Ryder s
seemed nearly pedestrian as he
needed 46 deliveries.
eir rapid 191-run partnership
meant New Zealand were never in
doubt of winning the 21-over affair,
which they eventually did by 159
runs, as they levelled the five-match
series at 1-1.
After a washout in Napier last
Sunday, New Zealand could ensure
they cannot lose the series with
victory today as Nelson s Saxton
Oval hosts its first men s one-day
Anderson has gone from promising
youngster to an overnight celebrity
in the cricketing world following
his unbeaten knock of 131, which
included 14 sixes, but he did not
forecast a repeat performance today.
"It was one innings and one innings
doesn t make a summer," Anderson
said. "I ve still got to come out and do
what I can to stay in the side and try
and contribute to victories."
After his efforts on Wednesday
it s fair to say his spot in the side is
secure for the foreseeable future and
that must be a good feeling for a
player who has endured his fair share
of injuries in his career despite only
"I feel pretty good," Anderson said
in regards to his health. "I ve had a run
where I ve stayed away from niggles
and that. It s a sport and you re always
going to get injured at some stage but
the longer I can stay on the park, I
guess the better performances I can
While Anderson may not be
forecasting another booming century,
one forecast that may have both
sides concerned is the rain, which
is predicted to greet the teams in
Ryder, who finished with 104 from
51 balls on Wednesday and even
wheeled down four economical overs
of off-spin as opposed to his usual
medium-pacers, was keen to see some
"Hopefully the weather stays away
so we can get a proper game in but
if the weather plays its part, it plays
its part. ere s not much you can do
about it," he said.
As for his off-spinners, which he
bowled because New Zealand needed
to power through their overs to beat
the rain in Queenstown, the 29-year-
old said the call to do it took him by
"I wasn t expecting to have to bowl
After losing the opening game of
the series in Auckland on Boxing
Day, New Zealand clearly have
momentum on their side following
their impressive performances in the
test series before Christmas.
eir batting line-up is looking
balanced and with seamer Mitchell
McClenaghan in search of another
eight wickets in the next two games
to become the fastest man to 50 in
one-day internationals, the Black
Caps will open as firm favourites
ey will just be hoping the summer
weather finally joins them.
Following today s game the series
moves to Hamilton for the fifth and
final encounter on Wednesday.
targeted for next
year s ASB Classic
final as former
No 1s face off
Black Caps look for series lead against Windies
England lets hosts off hook
World No 1 Rafael Nadal will appear
in the final of the ATP Tour s Qatar
Open for the second time after beating
surprise package Peter Gojowczyk in a
Nadal s 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory confirmed
him as the overwhelming favourite to
take the title and do something he has
never done before, win a tournament in
the opening week of the year.
"A lot of times I have tried here so it
will mean a lot to me to succeed finally.
Hopefully tomorrow I will play good
and will play my best match here," the
Nadal was rarely near his peak and
started poorly, losing the first nine points
of the match to the German qualifier. He
moved sluggishly and made 17 unforced
errors with his famous forehand drive in
the first set alone.
Gojowczyk, who had only previously
played four matches on the ATP World
Tour and admits to having sought
Nadal s autograph at last year s US Open,
was patient, methodical, and careful.
Nadal through to Doha final
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