Tag Archives: watson

Heather Watson beaten by Agnieszka Radwanska in Australian Open 6-3, 6-1

End of the road for brave Heather: Fourth seed Radwanska outclasses Watson in third

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

01:58 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

03:08 GMT, 18 January 2013

There was to be no repetition of the Wimbledon wipeout suffered against the same player in the same round, but Heather Watson could not save herself from bowing out of the Australian Open third round.

Despite a much-improved performance compared to SW19 in June – reflecting the improvements she has made in her game – Watson was beaten 6-3, 6-1 in 84 minutes by fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

It was a somewhat harsh scoreline and the British number one could have doubled her tally of games with a little more composure at the right time, but the Pole was always good value for her victory.

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Consolation for Watson is that from her ranking of 50 she will go into the low forties, and has made a decent start towards her season’s goal of getting into the mid twenties. She and Laura Robson, the first two British players in the third round of a Grand Slam since 1991, have shown they belong in the top half century of players.

Barely ten hours after Robson had epically upset former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on the Rod Laver Arena, they were across Melbourne Park on the Hisense Arena, the venue’s secondary stadium.

It was mid morning rather than past midnight and the weather was also very different, the famously changeable Melbourne climate swapping desert heat for much more overcast, cooler and windier conditions.

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Priority One for Watson was to avoid the slow starts she had in the first two rounds, and the first set blowout she had against the Pole in Wimbledon’s third round, when she went down 6-0 in 24 minutes before losing the second 6-2.

Watson has said that the Wimbledon result ‘killed me’, and she might not be much more pleased with the numerical outcome of this, although it was definitely a better performance and one in which her more cautious sense of adventure was not always rewarded with good fortune.

She came out much quicker this time and started the better of the two, forcing two break points, missing the second with a forehand against a player you simply cannot afford to give second chances to.

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Making the shot: Watson gets the ball over the net

Radwanska is an antidote to the biff bash school of women’s tennis that predominates, and sometimes gets mentioned in the same breath as Martina Hingis. She cleverly constructs rallies and opens up the court intelligently, relying on guile more than brute force.

At Wimbledon Watson attacked, headless-chicken style, but this time she was more prudent and sought to get to the net when she could, but the beaten SW19 finalist was always a little too solid.

Heather Watson

Agnieszka Radwanska

Mixed emotions: Radwanska celebrates her win as Watson looks dejected

After the disappointment of the fourth game Radwanska broke for 3-2, and then more decisively for 5-2, when the 20 year-old Channel Islander served a double fault and failed to get a point. Breaks were then traded for the set to be taken in 36 minutes.

The second was more processional, at least until a drizzle break caused the roof to be closed at 3-0. Watson paid at times for her overheads not being more punishing, and her opponent scrambled every lost cause admirably. There was a consolation game at 5-0 and should have been another after that.

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Watson could have served better, managing only 51 per cent of first deliveries in and knows she has to continue working on that aspect. But she has shown more strong resolve in this tournament to pluck two wins out of the fire, and can progress further from here.

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Follow all the action as Heather Watson takes on Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Follow all the action as Heather Watson takes on Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan

By
Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

02:07 GMT, 16 January 2013

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UPDATED:

04:14 GMT, 16 January 2013

Heather Watson battled cramp, fatigue and Alexandra Cadantu in the first round, and came back from a set down to beat the Romanian 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

It was the first victory the British No 1 has ever recorded at the Australian Open, and now she takes on 82nd ranked Ksenia Pervak.

These two have never met on the seniors tour, but Watson can expect a tough battle from the Kazakh, who dispatched Mona Bartel, a player ranked 44 places above her, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in the first round.

Don't forget you can send your comments to me at [email protected]

04.14: Jankowicz FINALLY takes the fifth set. Make way for Watson.

3.48: TWEET: Neil Harman ‏@NeilHarmanTimes

'Jerzy Janowicz is about to complete comeback from two sets down against Devvarman on No.8 with added value of bringing on Heather Watson'

3.33: Watson's match has been pushed back until 4am. Somdev Devvarman and Jerzy Janowicz are now into their fifth set.

3.15: TWEET: Mike Dickson ‏@Mike_Dickson_DM

'Long match prior to Heather Watson. Hope I'm wrong but think that Pervak may be a tougher opponent than some expect.'

3.00: Unlikely to see Watson on court before 3.30.

2.30: So far there have been no signs of the elbow injury that forced Watson to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month. British fans will have to hope that the problem doesn't return when Watson is in the best form of her career.

 It was fatigue and cramp than plagued Watson on Monday, not the elbow injury that forced her to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month.

No sign of injury: It was fatigue and cramp than plagued Watson on Monday, not the elbow injury that forced her to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month.

2.15: If Watson can make it past Pervak, she will face fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round. The World No 4 beat Irina Camelia-Begu 6-3, 6-3.

2.02: Watson unlikely to make an appearance until 3am because Somdev Devvarman and Jerzy Janowicz took 79 minutes to complete their first set. Devverman won the tie-break 7-6 (12-10). The two are level at 3-3 in the second.

2.00: Although these two haven't met on the seniors tour, they did face each other in the junior version of this tournament back in 2009. The 21-year-old Kazakh – originally from Russia – blasted past Watson in straight sets and went on to beat fellow Brit Laura Robson in the final.

Robson joined Watson in the second round yesterday after overcoming American Melanie Oudin with relative ease.

Monday's win was the first for Heather Watson at the Australian Open

Triumph: Monday's win was the first for Heather Watson at the Australian Open

Paul McGinley named Ryder Cup captain for Europe at Gleneagles in 2014 ahead of Colin Montgomerie

Player power sinks Monty! It's Rory's choice as McGinley is named Ryder Cup captain

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McGinley has never been involved in a losing Ryder Cup side.

European Tour wins: Four (plus five other professional titles).

Best finish in a major: Tied sixth at the 2004 US PGA Championship.

P.S. In the 2009 and 2011 Seve Trophy, McGinley was the winning captain of Great Britain and Ireland over Continental Europe.

But it was McIlroy and the rest of
the miracle makers at Medinah who held sway; McIlroy's intervention on
Twitter last December that turned everything McGinley's way.

Where he went, other critical voices
followed, such as Luke Donald, Justin Rose and the hero in the last
match in America, Ian Poulter.

Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the
Players' Committee, said: 'Our players on tour wanted us to make this
choice and we listen to our players.'

As so often these days, McIlroy was
spot on with his judgment. McGinley might not have the star persona of
other captains but this was a deserved victory for a decent man who will
leave no stone unturned in his quest to complete a successful defence.

Never have you seen a golfer look
more proud than the 46-year-old Dubliner, who becomes the first Irish
captain in Ryder Cup history.

'I am obviously thrilled and also
feel very humbled to become the captain and I'm relishing the chance to
go up against one of my all-time gol f ing heroes i n Amer ican skipper
Tom Watson,' he said.

'I thought I had a strong hand
because I had the support of the players and, obviously, when the new
star of golf is so vocal in your favour, that is very gratifying as
well. If Rory doesn't make the team I think he has got a good chance of
getting a pick.'

All smiles: McGinley at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's championship

All smiles: McGinley at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's championship

McGinley on the course

The kingmaker was in the back of the
room to see his nominee gain his due, as was another architect of
Ireland's wondrous recent success on the world stage – McGinley's
long-time friend and golfing partner, Padraig Harrington.

'I couldn't be more thrilled for him,
he's a dogged man with a real passion for team golf and I think he will
be a brilliant captain,' said Harrington. One of the first to send his
congratulations was Watson.

'Paul is a class act,' he said.
Ironically enough, given what transpired, it was Montgomerie who gave
McGinley his first stab at captaincy, when he invited him to become
Britain and Ireland skipper at the 2009 Seve Trophy.

One of the team members was McIlroy.

'Paul made me feel so comfortable from the start,' said McIlroy.

'He makes you feel so good about
yourself. He put me out as No 1 and I was so determined to deliver a
point for him. He is the best captain I have ever played under.'

McGinley has fewer tournament wins in
526 European Tour starts than Watson has triumphs in The Open – four to
five – but it matters little.

Common sense: Rory McIlroy was pleased with the decision to install McGinley

Common sense: Rory McIlroy was pleased with the decision to install McGinley

More Twitter reaction

EUROPE

IAN POULTER (Ryder Cup specialist, looking to make his fifth appearance next year): 'Paul Mcginley Ryder Cup captain truly really happy that he has given the opportunity to captain the 2014 Ryder Cup team.'

RORY McILROY (World No 1, and McGinley's biggest supporter for the job): 'Common sense prevailed in the end…. Paul McGinley 2014 European Ryder Cup captain!!! Couldn't be happier for him… Roll on Gleneagles'

EDOARDO MOLINARI (Italian who played in the 2010 match): 'I am sure that Paul will be a fantastic captain! Well done to him…and now it's time to work even harder to be part of his team!'

SCOTT JAMIESON (Scot who has made a flying start to the season): 'Congrats Paul McGinley, def gets my vote, will be a great Ryder Cup captain.' UNITED STATES

TOM WATSON (United States Ryder Cup captain): 'Congrats to Paul McGinley on your R/C Captaincy. Looking forward to our future competition. You're a class act.'

DUSTIN JOHNSON (2011 Open runner-up, Ryder Cup player in the last two events): 'Heard the Ryder Cup news about McGinley… @TomWatsonPGAPro & the USA will be ready!!!!'

DAVID DUVAL (former world No 1 and two-time Ryder Cup player): 'Congrats to McGinley for the captaincy. We competed first 20 plus years ago in the Walker Cup.'

In the Ryder Cup he has been a lion,
sinking the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002. Alongside Donald, he is
the only European never to have been on the losing side having played at
least three Ryder Cups.

He was a vice-captain in 2010 and at
Medinah. 'I don't know what it is but team golf and the Ryder Cup have
always brought the best out of me,' said McGinley, who was forecast to
become a Gaelic football star for Dublin until his career was cut short
by a knee injury at the age of just 19.

McGinley's nomination as captain was a
victory for modesty, for he never felt the need to blow his own trumpet
in the months leading up to the announcement.

He started the drawn-out process
trailing Darren Clarke by a seemingly hopeless margin until the
Ulsterman's campaign was derailed by McIlroy's tweet of support for
McGinley before Christmas.

Then came Montgomerie as those committee members who wanted a big personality switched their allegiance to the Scot.

Sky were trailing in the days leading
up to the announcement that Montgomerie was confident he would get the
nod. Still McGinley kept silent.

'It's amazing how much you hear when you don't talk,' the Irishman said wryly.

'To be honest, it was my wife,
Alison, who told me not to join in but I didn't need much persuading. I
watched the story grow legs and the speculation swell but I thought I
was much better just letting the players speak for me.'

It is that sort of judgment call that
will serve McGinley well when he lines up opposite Watson. After 30
minutes of usual committee business, McGinley and Montgomerie, both
members of the body that decides on the captaincy, were asked to leave.

Glory days: Europe won the Ryder Cup in incredible fashion in 2012

Glory days: Europe won the Ryder Cup in incredible fashion in 2012

Not chosen: Colin Montgomerie was not asked to reprise his role as captain

Not chosen: Colin Montgomerie was not asked to reprise his role as captain

Thinking man: McGinley says he loves the tactical side of the game

Thinking man: McGinley says he loves the tactical side of the game

McGinley retreated to a room with his
brother, Michael. Thus began the longest two hours of his life. They
ate oatmeal cookies. Still no knock on the door.

'I've been there so I knew what was going on but it didn't stop the time dragging on,' he said.

Eventually, the call came, the one
that signalled the proudest moment of his professional life. Down an
escalator he went and into a world where the phone never stops ringing
and there's always another interview to give.

'I don't mind all that,' he said,
smiling broadly. Indeed, the grin never left his face all night. He was
wearing a 2014 Ryder Cup sweater of Seve Ballesteros blue, and he might
never take it off.

Derek Lawrenson weighs up the two captains in their areas of influence

Playing Record

Watson: If this counted for very much, Europe might as well hand over the trophy right now. Eight majors and still going strong at the age of 59 says it all. Such a glorious CV earns Watson the guaranteed respect of his team. But that's about all. McGinley: No captain in the modern era has had so few wins as the four mustered by McGinley. However, like Watson, he has never been on a losing Ryder Cup side (he played in three winning ones) so something will have to give. USA one up. Partnerships

Watson: An area where the great man may well struggle. How can he possibly know the different personalities of his team and what makes them tick when he's never played alongside them on a regular basis

McGinley: One of the Irishman's great strengths. Will know the players inside out and whether the time is right to put an arm around the shoulder or deliver a kick up the backside. All Square

Tom Watson

Tactics

Watson: Before Peter Baker played his matches at The Belfry in 1993, captain Watson made a beeline for the young Englishman and looked him squarely in the eye while shaking his hand. Baker was left with the clear impression Watson was trying to intimidate. Expect similar moves at Gleneagles.

McGinley: One of the reasons why Rory McIlroy was so effusive about McGinley for captain is his work in this area, where his attention to detail is second to none. Brilliant in this regard when Britain and Ireland captain at the Seve Trophy. Europe one up Home advantage

Watson: One of the reasons why Watson was picked was to nullify the partisanship of the Gleneagles crowd. Will the cheers ring out quite so raucously when the opposition is led by the golfing hero of so many Watch Watson play on this for all it is worth – and it is worth a lot.

McGinley: Not one of life's cheerleaders like all the other recent captains on home soil. His relatively low profile means that the roars when he appears on the first tee may well feel slightly muted when compared to previous matches. All Square

McGinley

Media Relations

Watson: In the press room, Watson is second to none. When he's telling one of his stories he has an audience of usually hard-bitten journalists eating out of his hand. Anticipate glowing testaments from the usually hostile UK press.

McGinley: Contrary to popular opinion, journalists like a bit of intelligence and the erudite McGinley has it in spades. Expect passionate and articulate answers laced with enough lines to keep even the most cynical tabloid man happy. All Square Speeches

Watson: One thing's for sure – he won't be standing up and forgetting how many children he has, like Hal Sutton did in 2004. At the opening ceremony expect a speech that strays perilously close to cheese territory but is also filled with grace and warmth.

McGinley: The fundamental reason why so many of the Medinah miracle makers wanted McGinley as captain is to do with his powers of persuasion in the team room. Knows what to say at the right time. Europe one up

McGinley factfile

1966: Born December 16 in Dublin. 1986: Promising Gaelic football career is ended by a broken kneecap. 1987: Wins an Irish youth cap in golf. 1988: Becomes Irish youths champion. 1989: Crowned Irish amateur champion. 1991: Earns a Walker Cup cap and turns professional. 1993: Makes his Dunhill Cup and World Cup debuts. 1996: Claims first European Tour win, in Austria. 1997: Achieves his second European Tour victory, and wins World Cup with Padraig Harrington. 2001: Wins Wales Open. 2002: Finishes 18th in first Masters. Makes his Ryder Cup debut and holes the winning putt. 2004: Earns second Ryder Cup cap and finishes unbeaten in a record nine-point win for Europe. 2005: Wins Volvo Masters to finish third on European money list and reach a career-high 18th in world rankings. 2006: Third Ryder Cup cap, and again McGinley plays his part in a nine-point win. 2009: Captains Britain and Ireland to Seve Trophy win. 2010: Among Europe's vice-captains in Ryder Cup win at Celtic Manor. 2011: Makes his 500th European Tour start and captains Britain and Ireland to another Seve Trophy win. 2012: Among vice-captains in another Ryder Cup win for Europe, this time at Medinah. 2013: Named Europe's captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup, to be staged at Gleneagles.

Ryder Cup record:

Caps: 3 (2002-04-06) Matches played: 9 (4 foursomes, 2 fourballs, 3 singles) Wins: 2 (1 foursomes, 1 singles) Halved: 5 (2 fourballs, 1 foursomes, 2 singles) Lost: 2 (2 foursomes) Points: 4 1/2

Australian Open 2013: Laura Robson into second round

Robson beats American Oudin to deliver first win and join Watson in round two

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

05:33 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

06:16 GMT, 15 January 2013

Laura Robson spent the first year of her life in this charming city and, just short of her 19th birthday, she has now won a grand slam match there.

The British No 2 convincingly overcame America’s Melanie Oudin 6-2 6-3 after 75 minutes of highly efficient combat, played out in warm conditions to reach the second round of the Australian Open, where she will join Heather Watson.

Robson now has the tough task of facing former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, a left hander to whom she is not entirely dissimilar in their natural ball-striking abilities. The Czech will not hugely relish the task, given what her younger opponent did to some illustrious names in the US Open.

Double trouble: Laura Robson joined Heather Watson in the second round of the Australian Open

Double trouble: Laura Robson joined Heather Watson in the second round of the Australian Open

Double trouble: Laura Robson joined Heather Watson in the second round of the Australian Open

There was also evidence in this first round match that the hard work Robson has put in during a long training stint in Florida before Christmas with Croatian coach Zeljko Krajan has already paid a dividend.

She looked in good shape, is gradually moving better and there seems to be some extra ‘pop’ on her groundstrokes and, especially, her serve. That yielded eleven aces on a medium paced hard court and readily got her out of trouble on the few occasions she was threatened.

Oudin is a cautionary tale, a rising star at 17 who reached the US Open quarter finals and Wimbledon fourth round but has subsequently struggled to handle the pressures thrust upon her in a country anxiously looking for successors to the Williams sisters.

Blue skies: Robson impressed the healthy crowd in attendance in Melbourne

Blue skies: Robson impressed the healthy crowd in attendance in Melbourne

Robson’s rise has been more gradual due mainly to growth-related injuries, and that may not be a bad thing. Having lost here in the first round a year ago she should now move back into the top 50 having slipped this week to 53, and she looks worth that position.

Supported by a decent British contingent in the crowd Robson, who arrived in the UK aged six via a long stint in Singapore, was even treated to a version of the national anthem as she pulled ahead in the first set.

Oudin, ranked 30 places below her, was behind from the start as the Wimbledon-based southpaw repeatedly tucked into her serve and forced her onto the backfoot. When Robson came to serve she was hardly threatened, regularly able to crunch away a winner from a short return as the American struggled to cope with the swing, spin and speed of her left-handed delivery.

Eyes on the prize: Robson will now take on former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round

Eyes on the prize: Robson will now take on former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round

The British No 2 was up around the 110 mph mark on plenty of occasions and the diminutive Oudin was left flailing around in despair, not helped by her misfiring forehand in the case of rallies getting started. Such was the accuracy of Robson’s drives into the corners that most of the time she was not in a comfortable postion to play the shot.

Robson got ahead for 3-2 in the second but then played her worst service game to get broken for the only time. She broke again immediately afterwards and this time had no problem consolidating, clinching a second match point when Oudin sent another forehand wide and long.

After losing to her near contemporary Sloane Stephens in the first round of the Hobart WTA event last week this was just what was needed, and she now has very little to lose against Kvitova in what could be steaming hot conditions.

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Laura Robson takes on Melanie Oudin

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Follow all the action as Laura Robson kicks off her campaign against Melanie Oudin

By
Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

03:53 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

04:06 GMT, 15 January 2013

Join Sportsmail for the very best live coverage of the 2013 Australian Open.

Tonight Laura Robson takes on Melanie Oudin as she seeks a second round spot in Melbourne. If she can beat the American it will be the first time that Robson has made it past the first round at this tournament, and she could face either Francesca Schiavone or Petra Kvitova in the next round.

Don't forget you can send your comments to me at [email protected] and follow our tennis correspondent Mike Dickson on Twitter @Mike_Dickson_DM

03.59: Robson
has made it past the first round of a Grand Slam before. The
18-year-old went all the way to the fourth at last year’s US Open,
overcoming Kim Clijsters and Li Na on the way.

She was eventually knocked out by Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-4.

 The British No 2 made broke into the top 50 earlier this month

On the way up: The British No 2 made broke into the top 50 earlier this month

03.41am: Heather
Watson fought through illness to overcome Romania’s Alexandra Cadantu
in her first round match yesterday, and now British No 2 Robson will be
doing her best to join her.

These two actually met during the qualifying rounds of last year's Australian Open. Robson took the victory in straight sets but since then the American has climbed from 166 in the world to 84th.

Robson has also risen in the rankings over the last year, breaking into the top 50 for the first time only this month.

Michael Clarke breaks Australia run record as they score a big first innings lead against Sri Lanka

Clarke sets new record for runs in a calendar year as the Aussies pile on the pressure against weary Sri Lanka

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UPDATED:

11:36 GMT, 27 December 2012

Michael Clarke's fifth century of 2012 helped Australia finish day two in complete control at the MCG as Sri Lanka found wickets hard to come by in the second Test.

After being skittled out for 156 yesterday, Sri Lanka returned to the field with Australia perched at 150 for three.

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Enlarge

Michael Clarke celebrates his century which saw him surpass Ricky Ponting's runs tally

Record breaker: Michael Clarke celebrates his century which saw him surpass Ricky Ponting's runs tally

As has been the way for Australia in 2012, captain Michael Clarke glued everything together, with his 22nd Test hundred the standout innings, although he was ably assisted by Shane Watson (83) and Mitchell Johnson (73no).

In making 106, Clarke became the highest-ever Australian run-scorer in a calendar year, with his tally of 1595 from 11 Tests, beating Ricky Ponting’s 1544 from 15 matches back in 2005.

Already 1-0 down in a best-of-three series, Sri Lanka`s chances of heading home next month with something to their name are remote, especially with Australia adding runs from everywhere.

Clarke's innings looks to have set Australia on the path to victory

In complete control: Clarke's innings looks to have set Australia on the path to victory

That Johnson, often maligned as a player, cracked his score from number eight shows what the tourists are up against.

Johnson provided a substantial roadblock in the final session of the day, with he, Mike Hussey and Peter Siddle upping the tea score of 332 for six to what it was at the close.

Two wickets did fall, though, with Hussey finding Rangana Herath – running backwards and away to his left for a brilliant one-handed take – off the occasional bowling of Tillakaratne Dilshan for 34, and Siddle nicking Shaminda Eranga to the slips (13).

Before that, it had been all about Clarke and Watson who`s 194 partnership was a fourth-wicket record at the MCG.

But after the Australian skipper broke Ponting's seven-year record, Sri Lanka fought back with three wickets in quick succession.

Clarke chased a wide one from Eranga and was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at second slip, before Watson, in similar style to David Warner (62) on the opening day, holed out to Thilan Samaraweera at deep square leg off the bowling of Dhammika Prasad. Australia's score fell quickly to 313 for five.

It was a poor shot from Watson and the Australia vice-captain will rue the fact that he missed a golden chance to record his third Test century, having looked at ease in registering his 19th career fifty.

When Matthew Wade followed Watson and Warner's lead by hooking a short one from Prasad to Eranga on the boundary, Australia were reduced to 315 for six.

Herath took a stunning one-handed catch to remove Hussey

Flying: Herath took a stunning one-handed catch to remove Hussey

The tourists also could have had Hussey late in the session, but the veteran Australian was dropped by stand-in wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara off the bowling of Rangana Herath and then survived a close call for lbw on the next delivery.

Sangakkara is keeping wicket in place of Prasanna Jayawardene, who sustained a thumb injury when dismissed by Johnson on the opening day.

Sri Lanka also picked up another injury early on the second day when paceman Chanaka Welegedara hurt his hamstring following a delivery in the first hour.

Johnson kept the pressure on the Sri Lankans with a swift 73 not out

Slog sweep: Johnson kept the pressure on the Sri Lankans with a swift 73 not out

That has left Mahela Jayawardene without too many bowling options and the Sri Lanka captain used Herath for the majority of the day from the members end of the ground.

The left-arm spinner has bowled without much luck, after a couple of close lbw calls went against him and Jayawardene was guilty of putting down Clarke when the Australian was on 54 – two runs short of breaking Ponting's record.

Heather Watson aiming to stay top Brit

Looking after No 1… Ambitious Watson aiming to stay top Brit

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UPDATED:

23:23 GMT, 21 December 2012

To gain an appreciation of how Heather Watson has become such a nuggety tennis player it helps to visit her at the place where it all started.

The IMG/Nick Bollettieri Academy on Florida's Gulf Coast is a very long way from her native Guernsey, but it was here that she arrived as a 12-year-old armed with a racket bag, a few mementoes of home and dreams inside her head.

'That's where I first stayed, it's actually a classroom now but it used to house several dorms,' says Britain's No 1 as she points at a whitewashed block of buildings in the middle of the campus.

Green machine: Watson at the IMG Academy

Green machine: Watson at the IMG Academy

'It brings back a lot of good memories.' She looks almost surprised when you ask if she suffered any homesickness, but then not for nothing has the 20-year-old already acquired a reputation as one of the WTA Tour's most durable and resourceful newcomers. And it helps that her three roommates back in those days, aspiring young golfers from South Korea and America – and another called Nicola Reynolds from Guildford – turned out to be friends for life.

'It was too much fun in the dorms to be homesick and those three were great, I think they would be the bridesmaids at my wedding if I ever got married. I just found the whole thing very exciting and I can't remember anything negative about it at all.'

Watson's parents Ian and Michelle had decided that if she was to be serious about her tennis she had to leave Guernsey and head for a place with a track record of producing good players and they plumped for Bradenton.

After three years her mother came to live there part-time and she moved out of the dorms to focus more professionally. Michelle no longer travels that much with her after a request this summer from her daughter that she have a bit more space.

Bathed in year-round sunshine and with an on-site high school, the academy turned out to be a decent choice, which is why Watson heads into the new season exuding such optimism, even by her own sunny standards.

Delight: Watson after her memorable victory in Osaka in October

Delight: Watson after her memorable victory in Osaka in October

When she flies to Auckland on
Christmas night it will be as the world No 49, with a very particular
plan as to how she will build on the success of the past two seasons
that has come quicker than anyone expected.

Watson
approaches each campaign with military precision and every December
holds what might be termed an Annual General Meeting with her father,
which can last three hours and features a devastatingly honest appraisal
of the season just gone.

'We
have to be absolutely clear about things and not hold back. It can get
quite heated although this year's took only two hours because I reached
my main target, which was to get into the world's top 50,' she says.

'For the coming season the soft target is to get into the top 30 and the ultimate one is to make the top 25. It would be great to be seeded for a Grand Slam, which sounds a lot but I believe in setting quite tough goals.'

There is also the incentive to ward off the rising challenge of Laura Robson, although she places that in a wider context. 'I would want to finish the year British No 1, not No 2, but I am focussed far more on what happens in the world rankings in general.'

Brit of all right: Watson in action at the London Olympics

Brit of all right: Watson in action at the London Olympics

Watson is currently ending her offseason training block in the company of her Colombian coach Mauricio Hadad and her fitness trainer Flo Pietzsch. On the day we meet she is practising with Alexander Sendegeya, a 16-year-old Liverpudlian based there who is trying a similar route to the top of the game.

After a festive visit from her mother Michelle, the three of them will take off for New Zealand knowing a big opportunity for ranking improvement presents itself. This is because she had a poor start to a season that ended with her becoming the first British player in 24 years to win a title on the main WTA Tour, the HP Open in Osaka.

'I went to Australia last year with half a sprained ankle that I did playing football and it was never going to be good in hindsight. The victory in Japan has really helped my confidence.'

Watson is relatively diminutive at 5ft 7in, but points out that Martina Hingis was no powerhouse either. 'The really positive thing is I've got to where I am with still so much that I can work on. I know I've got to get bigger shots and I'm using doubles to work on coming to the net, which is something I love. I know I am not that big but I have certain advantages with my speed and agility, and my mental toughness.'

Watson believes she is still three to four years off her best and will not rest until she becomes a factor more at the business end of Grand Slam tournaments.

Away from the court her ambition is to buy a flat close to Wimbledon and Roehampton's National Tennis Centre. 'London's expensive so I'm having to save up,' she says. 'I drove past those One Hyde Park apartments the other day. I might have to win a Grand Slam to afford one.

LTA chief Roger Draper under attack for "outrageous" 640k salary

Fury at Draper's 640k as LTA chief comes under fire over 'outrageous' salary

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 19 December 2012

The 640,000 salary package of Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper has been branded 'outrageous' by the chair of Parliament's All Party Tennis Group.

Labour's Baroness Billingham has attacked his pay, especially the decision to award a 201,000 bonus, revealed in Sports Agenda, when grassroots participation in the sport has actually fallen in the past four years.

Earlier this week Sport England effectively put the LTA on probation for a year over future funding awards, and described their plan to improve numbers playing the game as 'simply not strong enough'.

Net gains: Draper has come under fire after receiving 640,000 for one year

Net gains: Draper has come under fire after receiving 640,000 for one year

That prompted Baroness Billingham to say: 'This is the second straight year that they have criticised the LTA and in light of that it is outrageous that he is paid more than four times more than the Prime Minister. It's not right to get a large bonus in that situation.

'Think of all the children in primary schools who could be getting to know tennis if that sort of money was available. I stand by what I said in the Lord's, which is that the LTA are useless.'

Official participation figures are down from 487,500 to 441,500 since 2008 despite huge profits pumped in from Wimbledon.

Laura Robson

Andy Murray

Golden moment: Laura Robson and Andy Murray have enjoyed successful years

The LTA, who declined to respond to her specific comments, pointed out that many sports are struggling with recreational numbers and that in the past year tennis has seen an improvement in that area.

There has also been high-profile success through Andy Murray, Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Jonny Marray.

No 2: But Baker is ranked over 240 places below Murray

No 2: But Baker is ranked over 240 places below Murray

Yet British men's No 2 Jamie Baker is ranked 246 and the Baroness is not alone in wondering whether the LTA's annual 15.3 million staffing costs and 17 million spent on participation could have been better utilised.

So far the LTA's main board has taken a very benign view of their chief executive, who has been in charge since 2006. But that could change next year when a new independent chairman, David Gregson, takes up his post.

Ricky Ponting on pitch at Hobart before Australia"s Test with Sri Lanka

Australia legend Ponting paraded on pitch at Hobart before Hughes hits 86 for hosts

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UPDATED:

09:46 GMT, 14 December 2012

Retired Australia batsman Ricky Ponting undertook a touching lap of honour in Hobart before Australia took on Sri Lanka.

The former captain, and a true great of the game, was accompanied by his daughters Emmy and Matisse as he made his way around the pitch.

When proceedings began Phil Hughes justified his recall by Australia after a year in the wilderness with 86 as the hosts closed on 299 for four on the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart.

Guard of honour: Retired batsman Ricky Ponting was on the pitch before Australia took on Sri Lanka

Guard of honour: Retired batsman Ricky Ponting was on the pitch before Australia took on Sri Lanka

Smile and wave: The former Aussie captain was accompanied by his daughters Emmy (left) and Matisse (centre)

Smile and wave: The former Aussie captain was accompanied by his daughters Emmy (left) and Matisse (centre)

Smile and wave: The former Aussie captain was accompanied by his daughters Emmy and Matisse

The 24-year-old, offered the
opportunity to resume his Test career following the retirement of
Ponting, took his chance with eight fours and one six in a 166-ball
knock.

It was Hughes'
fourth Test half-century and came 12 months after he was dropped
following a horror show against New Zealand at the same venue.

The innings was all the more impressive given the newly-laid wicket has proved a minefield for top-order batsmen in the Sheffield Shield this season.

At stumps, captain Michael Clarke was unbeaten on 70 in a stand of 101 with Michael Hussey, who was on 37 not out.

Chanaka Welegedara did most of the damage for the tourists with three wickets for 99.
Together with Shane Watson, Hughes had helped Australia rebuild after the needless loss of the impressive David Warner immediately before lunch.

Warner, who had 57 of the 97 runs the hosts scored in the morning, was run out trying to grab a quick single that simply was not there, Angelo Mathews picking him off with an easy throw to the non-striker's end.

Star man: Phil Hughes was in fine form and hit an 86

Star man: Phil Hughes was in fine form and hit an 86

Almost: Mahela Jayawardene tries to catch Mike Hussey (right) out

Almost: Mahela Jayawardene tries to catch Mike Hussey (right) out

That ended a strong partnership of 79 with Hughes, built after opener Ed Cowan suffered another early dismissal, departing for just four after attempting a pull shot but getting under it to give Shaminda Eranga an easy catch at mid-on.

Watson went late in the second session, caught by outgoing Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene off Welegedara for 30.

Hughes reached 82 at tea, his innings including a big six off Rangana Herath, even if the shot – less than cleanly struck – was not one of his best.

He added just four more before being bowled off an inside edge by the dangerous if expensive Welegedara, but Clarke and Hussey took the score to the brink of the 300-mark as the hosts wrestled back the ascendancy.

Solid: Hughes helpes Australia reach 299 on the first day of the first Test

Solid: Hughes helpes Australia reach 299 on the first day of the first Test

Gotcha: Hughes was eventually dismissed by Chanaka Welagedara

Gotcha: Hughes was eventually dismissed by Chanaka Welagedara

Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson will be pulling out all the stops to beat Europe

I'll stop the rot, vows America's Ryder Cup captain Watson… and Tiger will be my No 1

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UPDATED:

00:06 GMT, 14 December 2012

It all ended in tears the last time an iconic figure made it as far as the 80th floor of the Empire State Building and roared out a warning.

Nearly 80 years on from the movie King Kong, Tom Watson will hope his message to Europe’s Ryder Cup team from the same New York landmark doesn’t end with him shot down in flames.

‘I hope that by appointing me as America’s Ryder Cup captain we’re telling the Europeans we are pulling out all the stops to beat you guys,’ he said. ‘We’re saying that winning is the most important thing and we want to do it in style. I always say that early in my career I learned to win by hating to lose — and it is about time we stopped losing.’

Bullish: New USA Ryder Cup captain was in bullish mood in his inaugural press conference saying his team would 'pull out all the stops to beat you guys'

Bullish: New USA Ryder Cup captain was in bullish mood in his inaugural press conference saying his team would 'pull out all the stops to beat you guys'

Skipper: Watson posed for photographers on the observation deck of the Empire State Building...

Skipper: Watson posed for photographers on the observation deck of the Empire State Building…

...but still had time to act the tourist and take a picture of his own

…but still had time to act the tourist and take a picture of his own

And with that proclamation ringing in the ears it was time to light the most famous building in Manhattan in the obligatory red, white and blue. As befits the grace of the man himself, there was nothing garish about Watson’s appearance, save for the slightly unnerving lack of grey hairs on the 63-year-old’s head.

Speaking of icons, the news of Watson’s appointment had hardly been made official than Tiger Woods was sending his congratulations and saying what an honour it would be to play for him at Gleneagles in 2014. Two years ago, he and Watson had a major falling-out after the latter had gone public with some scathing criticism of Tiger’s behaviour. Now Watson is keen to emphasise it is ‘all water under the bridge’. He added: ‘I hope he is on my team and if for some unforeseen reason he isn’t, he’s going to be my number one pick. He’s perhaps the best player in the history of the game and brings a stature to the team.’

Struggle: Tom Watson stated that Tiger Woods (above) will be the first name on his team, but the former World Number 1 has an appalling record in the tournament

Struggle: Tom Watson stated that Tiger Woods (above) will be the first name on his team, but the former World Number 1 has an appalling record in the tournament

Given Tiger’s appalling Ryder Cup record, for a moment I thought he said statue.

In keeping with the startling nature of this extraordinary appointment, Watson revealed he was first approached 13 months ago. ‘It was a phone call that I had waited a really long time to receive,’ said the five-time Open champion, who was a winning captain at The Belfry in 1993.

‘I really wanted the challenge again. Here we are, just off Broadway and that’s appropriate because I look upon being captain as like a stage manager, getting everything ready so the actors, or in this case, the players, can go out and perform.’

Jose Maria Olazabal, Europe’s retiring Ryder Cup captain, said Watson was just the man to deal with some of the huge egos in the American team. As the fall-out from Medinah continues, others have pointed the finger at Olazabal’s counterpart, Davis Love. Trust Watson to cut through the bluster. What he will bring to the job is an enormous presence, and that shouldn’t be underestimated.

But let’s not forget that Love lost at Medinah by the narrowest of margins. Watson was quick to seize on the hope that he gets that elusive quality that deserted his predecessor. ‘What I need is a little bit of luck,’ he said.
It was fascinating listening to his brilliant analysis of that miracle in Chicago. How Ian Poulter’s five successive birdies on Saturday night brought a ‘cloud on to the horizon’; how Europe’s wonderful start on Sunday saw the cloud turn into a storm. ‘ US Ryder Cup player): ‘I
think he would be amazing. Such a remarkable player and person and he
demands respect just by the kind of player he has been. He’s like a
quiet lion. It would be an honour to play for him.’

BRANDT SNEDEKER (2012 US Ryder Cup player):
‘I am surprised but excited. Tom is a good friend of mine, one of the
best players to ever play the game who is instantly going to gain a lot
of respect and sway the homefield advantage for us in Scotland because
of his success over there.’

PAUL AZINGER (2008 US Ryder Cup captain): ‘Truthfully,
I am really surprised but I think it’s OK. There’s a philosophy of
picking contemporary players under the age of 50 that hasn’t really
worked. That would have been a great philosophy had we been winning, but
we haven’t, which makes Watson a good choice at this time.’

LANNY WADKINS (played under Watson in 1993):
‘Tom is just one of those guys who always believes. He doesn’t go out
there to have fun. He goes out there to kick butt and get the job done.
That’s really what the PGA of America, in my opinion, are thinking what
needs to happen.'