The Northern Territory news Tue 6 Jan 2015
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34 SPORT TUESDAY JANUARY 6 2015 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 Leg injury kills hope for Ebden boilover AUSTRALIAS Hopman Cup title hopes are in tatters after Matt Ebden succumbed to a calf injury during his 3-6 7-5 6-0 loss to Polands Jerzy Janowicz on Sunday night. Ebden came within a whisker of pulling off a boilover after winning the first set before racing out to a 5-3 lead in the second. But the 27-year-old tweaked his left calf while serving for the match, with Janowicz winning the next eight games to secure victory. Janowiczs win gave Poland an unassailable 2-0 lead after Casey Dellacqua lost 6-2 6-3 to world No.6 Agnieszka Radwanska earlier in the night. And Poland were gifted the mixed doubles rubber 6-0 6-0 after Ebden was unable to return to the court. Ebden, who was only handed a Hopman Cup berth after Nick Kyrgios pulled out with a back injury earlier in the week, will attempt to return for Australias tie against France tomorrow night. I just tweaked my calf running forward, I think the 15-all point, Ebden said. In the last few days its something Ive worked on. Hopefully its not serious. I can still move a bit, so its a good sign that its not too bad. But it kind of scared me a bit. I heard a little click in my leg. It makes you panic a little bit. But hopefully its fine. Im optimistic (I can play against France). World No.238 Ben Mitchell took Ebdens place in the mixed doubles, which was played in a Pro Set format. Earlier, Dellacqua produced some rusty shots in key moments, but she at least found herself in good positions. I had some good stuff tonight, and then there was some stuff where I set the point up and didnt execute the best, Dellacqua said. Hopefully as matches go on, that starts to improve. They are things you can improve, and theyre little things you can work on. I can go out for the next two days and work on finishing balls or different shots. It was an extremely tough match first up, but I gave what I had. In the days other tie, the Czech Republic notched an upset 2-1 win over Canada. Williams takes espresso lane to victory over jet lag WORLD No.1 Serena Williams called for a coffee to perk her up during a 0-6 6-3 6-0 win over Italian Flavia Pennetta at the Hopman Cup yesterday. Williams, who only arrived in Perth on Saturday, was flat early in her match and, at 5-0 down in the first set, called on a ball girl to fetch her an espres so. The 33-year-old had her caffeine fix after losing the first set in just 19 minutes, and she finally started to find her groove in the second set. And once Pennettas serving game capitulated, Williams dominated to win the match in 89 minutes. Its miracle coffee, Williams joked after the match. I am a coffee drinker. I didnt have mine this morning and I was just feeling it, so I just had to get some coffee into me. I just asked them to get me a shot of espresso. I asked them if it was legal, because Ive never done it before. But I needed to wake up its just the jet lag. It gets you all the time. Williams said the round-robin nature of the Hopman Cup meant she didnt need to stress as much, and her goal this year was to enjoy herself more on court. Ive never smiled so much in a match before, she said. This year my whole goal is to have fun. My dad says, Serena, youve done everything, enjoy yourself, I promise youll play better. So Im like, OK. Im trying to relax a bit more and play how I know I can play. Bigserving world No.18 John Isner can secure the tie for the US with victory over Fabio Fognini in the mens singles rubber. With the Perth Arena roof closed, the cool conditions should have ensured a highoctane match. Instead, Williams lethargy paved the way for a first-set romp, before she finally found her fighting spirit. By JUSTIN CHADWICK Rafa views Qatar as a litmus test for Aussie RAFAEL Nadal hopes critical match play at the Qatar Open will enhance uncertain Australian Open aspirations as the Spaniard probes for a 15th Grand Slam title. The world No.3 has contested only three rankings events since losing to Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon in June and he has admitted his prospects of again excelling at the Australian Open are slim barring a swift return to form. Reprising the dogged mindset behind a record nine French Open titles, Nadal is optimistic he can regain touch and confidence this week. But he concedes it is a tall order. The left-hander will partner Argentine Juan Monaco in a rare doubles outing today before facing a qualifier in the opening to his singles defence. Thumped 6-2 6-0 by Andy Murray in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi before rebounding with a solid win over Stan Wawrinka, Nadal said that he faces a long road back to peak form. As usual, the comebacks, at the beginning the feelings are not the best, he said. At the beginning you need to suffer a little bit on court. You need to remember all the things that you make it well in the past to have success, and with hard work of every day, try to improve a little bit every day to find the rhythm, to find the way that you really want to play. All these kind of things need to go all the way but step by step, because at the end I dont want to arrive here and gonna play my best tennis. I count like since Wimbledon I didnt play. It was long time again, so I need this period of time of face the competition and to the high level of tennis. A wrist complaint and an appendectomy wrecked the latter part of Nadals season, leaving him unusually vulnerable. By LEO SCHLINK Serena Williams in action