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Del Potro stands firm as seeds tumble in Sydney

By Ian Ransom MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World number five Juan Martin del Potro, the man tipped to challenge for grand slam titles this season, began his year with a scrappy win over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut to advance to the quarter-finals of the Sydney International on Wednesday. The Sydney warm-up to the Australian Open has proved a graveyard for the seeds this week but the 25-year-old former U.S. Open champion avoided an early flight to Melbourne by coming back to win 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Stosur survives as top players toil in warm-ups

(Reuters) - Australia's Samantha Stosur failed to allay fears she could be heading for another early exit at her home grand slam with a scrappy performance in Hobart while a trio of big names tumbled out of the Sydney International on Monday. Double grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and French Open winner Francesca Schiavone crashed out of the first round in Sydney, while former world number one Jelena Jankovic also booked an early flight to Melbourne for next week's Australian Open.

Former grand slam champions knocked out in Sydney

(Reuters) - Former grand slam champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone ended their competitive Australian Open preparations early with first round losses at the Sydney International on Monday. Double grand slam winner Kuznetsova, who had a good second half of 2013 to enter the Sydney tournament inside the top 20 after battling back from knee injuries in 2012, was surprisingly beaten 6-3 3-6 7-5 by American lucky loser Varvara Lepchenko.

Tennis: Italy stay alive in Hopman Cup

Italy kept their Hopman Cup hopes alive with a 2-1 win over Australia at the mixed teams tournament on Tuesday. After the singles matches were split, the Italian pairing of Flavia Pennetta and Andreas Seppi beat Samantha Stosur and Bernard Tomic in the deciding mixed doubles rubber. Italy will need to clean sweep Canada on Thursday and hope Australia do the same to unbeaten Poland to have a chance of advancing to Saturday's final, while the host nation are out of contention after dropping both their Group A ties.

Tennis: Results from Hopman Cup

Results from the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth on Saturday: Group A Canada bt Australia 2-1 Men's singles: Milos Raonic (CAN) bt Bernard Tomic (AUS) 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 Women's singles: Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) bt Samantha Stosur (AUS) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 Mixed doubles: Stosur/Tomic (AUS) bt Bouchard/Raonic (CAN) 6-2, 6-4 Group A Poland bt Italy 3-0 Women's singles: Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) bt Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 6-2, 6-2 Men's singles: Grzegorz Panfil (POL) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-4, 2-2 (retired)

Tennis: Bouchard inspires Canadian win

Teenager Eugenie Bouchard emphasised her status as one of the most promising players in women's tennis by leading Canada to a 2-1 win over Australia at the mixed teams Hopman Cup on Saturday. The 19-year-old was named the WTA's Newcomer of the Year in November and opened her new season with the prized scalp of former US Open winner and world number 18 Samantha Stosur. The hard-hitting Bouchard, ranked 32nd in the world, came from a set down to beat the local favourite in three sets, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, to secure the Group A tie for the Canadians.

Tennis: Venus Williams to play Hobart WTA event

American star Venus Williams has been confirmed as a starter in the Hobart WTA International in January, organisers said on Wednesday. The seven-time Grand Slam champion, now ranked 48, will be making her first appearance in the tournament in the run-up to the Australian Open in Melbourne. "The tournament is played on the same surface as the Australian Open, so it will be a great place to get some good match practice against tough opponents before I head to Melbourne," Williams said in a statement.

Australia's Stosur hires former Murray coach Maclagan

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur has turned to Andy Murray's former coach Miles Maclagan to help reverse her slide down the world rankings, Tennis Australia said on Thursday. The 29-year-old Australian, who has dropped to 18th in the world from fourth in 2011, failed to get beyond the third round at any of the year's grand slams and split with her long-time coach David Taylor shortly before this year's U.S. Open.

Halep wants to keep having fun after breakthrough season

By Angel Krasimirov SOFIA (Reuters) - Unheralded Romanian Simona Halep is vowing to keep the fun factor in her game following her victory in the Tournament of Champions on Sunday at the end of a breakthrough season on the women's tour. The 22-year-old won the season-ending event in Sofia on Sunday, beating former U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur 2-6 6-2 6-2 in a thrilling final to cap a remarkable six months which has lifted her to number 11 in the world rankings.

Tennis: Halep fights back to beat Stosur for Sofia title

Top-seeded Romanian Simona Halep defeated fourth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 to clinch the season-ending Tournament of Champions on Sunday for her sixth title of the season. Halep, 22, won $270,000 for her title and is now projected to rise from No.14 to No.11 on the new rankings. "I played really well this week. I want to thank everybody who came here to support me. They helped me a lot," Halep said, cheered by a large crowd of Romanians who travelled to Sofia, including legendary 1970s tennis player Ilie Nastase.
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