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Serena passes Bencic test, Djokovic wins
Melbourne: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams launched their Australian Open campaigns in style on Tuesday as Ivo Karlovic smashed a record 75 aces in an unprecedented, 84-game marathon. Djokovic and Williams have both dropped to world number two and faced awkward opposition, but they won in straight sets against Fernando Verdasco and Belinda Bencic respectively. Rafael Nadal also rolled into round two before Karlovic outlasted
 
 
Bottas can fill Rosberg’s boots, says Lauda
BERLIN: Niki Lauda believes new Mercedes signing Valtteri Bottas can be as fast as the man he replaced, retired Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg. “Bottas is the best man (for the job).I believe that he can drive as fast as Nico. I believe he can win the world championship,” the Austrian, a retired triple champion, told Germany’s RTL television. “We can start the season in a very calm and confident manner with the pair
   
‘Iron Tulip’ Van Gaal hints at retirement
The Hague: Firebrand manager Louis van Gaal has announced his retirement from professional football after more than three decades, citing “family reasons,” a Dutch newspaper reported on Tuesday. “I don’t believe I’ll return back to work,” Van Gaal told popular daily tabloid De Telegraaf, which added he is “definitely drawing a line under his training career.” The man nicknamed the “Iron Tulip” has received dozens of lucrative
 
 
‘Maradona set for Napoli role if tax millions settled’
Milan: Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis says a global ambassador’s role will be offered to Diego Maradona -- if the former club legend settles his score with the Italian tax man. Maradona was served with a tax bill of around 39 million euros (£33m) four years ago when he returned to Italy, where he led Napoli to their two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990. He is reportedly still in the red, having claimed in an interview
   
Liverpool better equipped to fight for title: Mignolet
London: Liverpool are better equipped to challenge for the Premier League title this season because they do not rely solely on one player, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has said. With Luis Suarez spearheading their challenge, Liverpool finished two points behind champions Manchester City in the 2013-14 season, the closest they have come to adding to their 18 titles since their last triumph in 1989-90. While they have delivered
 
 
Milan rally to salvage 2-2 draw at Torino
Milan: AC Milan recovered from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw at Torino, who also missed a first-half penalty, as the visitors finished with 10 men in a dramatic Serie A game on Monday. Torino’s Andrea Belotti and Marco Benassi put the home side on top after 26 minutes but Milan got back on level terms by the hour mark through Andrea Bertolacci and a Carlos Bacca penalty. Milan moved up to fifth with 37 points, eight
   
FA examine retrospective diving ban: Report
London: Players in English football found guilty of diving could face retrospective bans from the Football Association (FA), The Times newspaper reported on Tuesday. In neighbouring Scotland, players can receive a two-match ban if they are found to have won a significant advantage for their team by tricking the referee by diving or simulation. If the referee or match officials did not spot the diving at the time of the
 
 
Coach Zidane pins hopes on squad to bounce back from defeat
Madrid: Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane insists he has no reason to panic and will once again use the depths of his squad against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday looking to bounce back from a first defeat in 40 games. Madrid conceded twice in the final five minutes in losing 2-1 to Sevilla on Sunday to see their lead at the top of La Liga over the Europa League holders cut to one point. Real did get the better of
   
More shocks as Morocco lose, Ivory Coast held at Africa Cup
Oyem: Defending champions the Ivory Coast and Morocco on Monday became just the latest strongly fancied teams to fail to deliver at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon. The Ivorians were held 0-0 by Togo -- 21 places below them in the African rankings -- after a duel that produced little excitement for a small crowd in the northern town of Oyem. Morocco, also considered potential champions under twice Africa Cup-winning coach
 
 
Serena Williams concerned over equality fight
Melbourne: Tennis superstar Serena Williams Tuesday said she was concerned about the fight for equality as she used Martin Luther King Day to spread the message at the Australian Open. The 22-time Grand Slam winner wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Equality” as she spoke to media after sweeping into the second round of the Grand Slam tournament. “With today being Martin Luther King Day, it’s important to spread the
   
De Villiers out of NZ Tests, rules out retirement
Johannesburg: South African batting star AB de Villiers said on Tuesday he had decided not to make himself available for a Test series in New Zealand in March but stressed that he had not retired from Test cricket. De Villiers, who turns 33 next month, said his main goal for the rest of his career was to lead South Africa at the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England. “We haven’t won a World Cup yet,” said De Villiers, who is
 
 
Raonic motivated by Australian Open heartbreak
Melbourne: Milos Raonic said his tough defeat in last year’s Australian Open semi-finals had given him extra motivation to come back and lift the trophy after he cruised into round two on Tuesday. Injury-hobbled Raonic crashed out in five sets against Andy Murray in 2016. The Canadian, now ranked at world number three, opened his 2017 campaign with a straight-sets win over Dustin Brown. Raonic spent just 93 minutes dishing out
   
Ko wants to get ball rolling on equal pay for eves
Hong Kong: The world’s top woman golfer Lydia Ko wants her stunning achievements as a teenager to narrow the sport’s huge gap in prize money between men and women. “Hopefully one day it will be equal” she told AFP, while recognising her and her LPGA Tour colleagues have a crucial part to play in growing the sport among women. “One of our roles is to obviously play great golf, but to also make a difference in the game,” said Ko
 
 
Work on world’s biggest cricket stadium begins
Ahmedabad: India has started building the world’s biggest cricket stadium that will accommodate 110,000 spectators and cost around $100 million. Since the capacity of Kolkata’s Eden Gardens was reduced as part of a major rebuilding project, Melbourne Cricket Ground has held the title of the sport’s largest stadium with seating for around 100,000. But speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony on Monday in India’s western Gujarat
   
Root ready to captain England if Cook quits
New Delhi: England’s Joe Root has said he is ready to take on the mantle of Test skipper should Alastair Cook decide to relinquish the captaincy. Root, part of the England limited-overs squad currently in India, has been widely tipped to take over the Test reins if Cook decides to stand down after five years at the helm. Calls for a change of leadership gained ground after England suffered a 4-0 drubbing in the Test series
 
 
Warriors end four-game skid against Cavaliers
Los Angeles: The Golden State Warriors crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers 126-91 on Monday, snapping a four-game losing streak against the reigning NBA champions. In the season’s second meeting between the teams that dueled in the past two NBA championship series, the Warriors started fast and never let up. Before adoring fans at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Draymond Green notched his third triple-double of the season with 11 points,
   
Ewan defeats ‘stinking’ heat to grab Tour lead
Adelaide: Rising Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan defied a heatwave to claim the opening stage of the UCI season-opening Tour Down Under in the South Australian wine-growing town of Lyndoch on Tuesday. Ewan, 22, surged in the last 200 metres to hold off Dutchman Danny van Poppell and Ireland’s Sam Bennett and win the 118-kilometre stage in three hours, 24 minutes and 18 seconds. The Orica-Scott rider will wear the ochre leader’s
 
 
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