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Following is a summary of current sports news briefs.
Djokovic delivers, Sharapova ruthless on opening day
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic served up only flashes of his best tennis on the opening day of the Australian Open but took a comfortable first step on the path he hopes will lead to an unprecedented hat-trick of titles at Melbourne Park in two weeks' time. Perhaps keeping energy in reserve for the battles that lie ahead, the world number one's workmanlike 6-2 6-4 7-5 victory over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu on Monday summed up a day where the year's first grand slam failed to really fire.
Murray and Federer fire up at Melbourne Park
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andy Murray's campaign for a second straight grand slam title gets underway on Tuesday when he takes center stage against Robin Haase in the first round of the Australian Open. Big things are expected of the 25-year-old Briton in 2013 after he finally shook the grand slam monkey from his back with his U.S. Open triumph in his fifth major final.
Sochi 2014 organizers unveil futuristic Olympic torch
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics organizers unveiled a futuristic torch on Monday based on the contrasts of the world's largest country and combining Russian folklore, including a mythical Firebird, with space-age technology. "The Olympic torch is one of the key symbols of the Games," Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko told a packed news conference in Moscow's landmark shopping arcade just a few steps from Red Square, with the Kremlin walls in the background. "In our case, it symbolizes the beauty and diversity of Russia."
McGinley should be Ryder Cup captain, says McIlroy
ABU DHABI (Reuters) - World golf number one Rory McIlroy wants Ireland's Paul McGinley to be Europe's 2014 Ryder Cup skipper, rather than Colin Montgomerie, with a decision on the captaincy due on Tuesday. Victorious 2010 captain Montgomerie has been linked to the position a second time for next year's event in the eight-times European Tour order of merit winner's native Scotland, something McIlroy disagrees with.
Retiring Cooke bows out with swipe at drug cheats
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's 2008 Olympic road race champion Nicole Cooke retired from cycling on Monday with a parting shot at the drugs cheats who she said had "robbed" her. "I do despair that the sport will ever clean itself up when rewards of stealing are greater than riding clean. If that remains the case, the temptation for those with no morals will always be too great," Cooke, 29, told the BBC.
More majors on smooth-swinging Oosthuizen's radar
LONDON (Reuters) - World number four Louis Oosthuizen's swing leaves commentators and fans purring with delight and after racking up his sixth European Tour win on Sunday the only thing on the South African's mind is winning more majors. Oosthuizen ran away with the 2010 British Open to claim his first major title by seven shots and while the 30-year-old has yet to win in the United States, he is eyeing another big trophy in 2013.
McIlroy says Nike deal will improve his game
ABU DHABI (Reuters) - World number one golfer Rory McIlroy praised the clubs of his new sponsor Nike on Monday saying he was hitting the ball further than ever after agreeing a multi-year sponsorship deal with the U.S. sportswear firm. Although commercial terms were not disclosed, media reports say the agreement with the Northern Irishman unveiled on Monday is worth as much as $250 million over 10 years, one of the most lucrative in global sports as Nike moves on after dropping disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong last year.
Stosur survives on day of carnage for Australia
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A nervous Sam Stosur survived the first test of her annual battle with stage-fright at the Australian Open, but the spotlight is set to focus on the ninth seed after all of her compatriots were dumped from the first round on Monday. Australia's hopes of a home-bred champion at the year's first grand slam have gone unfulfilled for 34 years and, with Lleyton Hewitt crashing out against eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic late in the evening, appeared set for further frustration.
Baker enjoys taste of success after second bite of cherry
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Cast as the Cinderella Man of tennis in 2012 after his stunning comeback from almost seven years off the professional circuit, American Brian Baker is beginning to get used to life among the world's best players. Twelve months ago, Baker was ranked world number 456, still in the early throes of a comeback and playing on the Futures Tour, two rungs below the top flight.
Ferrer and Berdych find contentment in tennis underclass
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The dominance of the "big four" in men's tennis over the past few years has enthralled crowds around the world. But while Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and most recently, Andy Murray, have mopped up the grand slam titles, they have left behind them an underclass of nearly men.