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J ANUARY 16  1 7, 2010 WEEKEND TO DAY

SPORTS

The bogeyman awaits Russian Davydenk o out to stymie Federer ’s chase for Grand Slam No 16

Sixth-seeded Davydenk o (picture ) has beaten Federer at their pre vious two meetings. AFP

MELBOURNE —Roger Federer faces a potential quarterfin al again st Ru ssian bogeym an Nikolay Davyd en ko following Frida y’s Au str alian Open dr aw, as th e w or ld No 1 c hases a 1 6th Gr and Slam title. Davydenk o, the sixth see d, has beat en the Swiss leg end at their pr evious tw o mee tings and could pose an oth er tou gh test as top-seeded Federer goes after a four th title at the Aus tr alian Open, whic h starts on Monda y. The Russian, who is the ho tt es t pla yer on the ATP Tou r cur ren tl y, outclasse d Federer in straight se ts in t h e sem i-fin als at Doh a t h is m on t h an d also bested him at the ATP Wor ld Tou r Finals even t in London in Novemb er . Federer w ill open th e tou rn am en t again st Russian w orld No 36 Igor Andreev and could face either Lleyton Hew itt or Marcos Bagh datis, both form er Au stralian Open f inalis ts, in the f our th r ound. Se rb Novak Djokovic, w h o b e at Fe d e re r in t h e semi-f inals of the 20 08 Aus tr alian Open on the w ay to winning his firs t Grand Slam, w as dr aw n in th e same top half of the men’s dr aw as the w or ld N o 1. Th ird -see d e d Djokovic is d raw n to face Fren ch Open finalist Robin Soderling of Sw eden in the quarters, befor e a po ten tial tilt at F eder er in the semi-f inals. In the bottom half of the draw, w orld No 2 and defending cham pion Rafael Nadal could run up against British title contender Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Nadal, w h o beat Federer in last year’s five-set fin al in Me lb ou rn e , op e n s again st Au st ralian Davis Cu p pla yer Peter Luczak , while fifth-see de d Mur ray takes on a q ualif ier f irs t up. Another pr ospecti ve qu arter-final looms betw een US Open cham pion Juan Mar tin del Potro, the four th see d, and W imble don f inalis t Andy R oddic k. Veteran Frenchm an Fabrice Santoro, 37, w ho w ill becom e the first player to participate in 70 Grand Slam tournam ents stretched over four decades, faces Croatian 14th seed Marin Cilic in the first round. AFP

It won’t be a Williams sisters final this time Venus (left) and Serena Williams won’t be meeting in the final. AFP

MELBOURNE — Th ere w on ’t be an all-William s w om en’s singles final at the A us tr alian Open this y ear . Se r e n a a n d Ve n u s W illia m s w ere place d int o the same top half of the dr aw on F rida y. Justine Henin, playing in her first Gran d Slam tou rn am en t in n early tw o years, w ill face fellow Belgian Kirsten Flip ken s in t h e first rou n d on Mon day, an d cou ld play Olym pic ch am pion Elena Dementie va in the second. Henin, who is unsee de d, could also m eet fellow com eback p layer and US Open cham pion Kim Clijsters in the q uar ter-finals. On e o f t h e W illia m s s ist e r s cou ld face Hen in or Clijsters, w h o ar e in the bo tt om half of th e dr aw, in the f inal. Serena, the defending cham pion and No 1 see d, will tak e on Urszula

Ra d w a n ska of Polan d in t h e fir st roun d. “You kn ow, I don ’t care w h o I play. When ever I play som eone they pla y their bes t,” she said this w eek en route to the Sydn ey In ternation al final. “So w hoever I play, believe m e, t h ey’re goin g to p lay like No 1 on t h at p art icu lar d ay again st m e for what ever reason.” On t h e sa m e sid e a s Clijst e r s an d Hen in bu t in t h e bot tom section , 20 08 ch am p ion Maria Sh arapova could m eet No 2-ranked Dinara Safin a, routed by Seren a William s in the final her e las t year , in the four th round and No 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the reigning French Open cham pion, in the q uar ter-finals. Sharapova was unable to defend her title at Melbourne Park last year follow ing surgery on her right shoulder that kept her off the tour for 10 m onths. AP

Sentosa will never be the same again SINGAPORE — Tout ed as Asia’s answ er to t h e w id ely p op u lar, Un ite d St ates-base d Ultimat e Fighting Cham pionship, a mix ed m artial arts (MMA) series, Martial Com bat, mak es it s debut at Resor ts Wor ld Sent osa on Ma y 14. An d fan s in th e region cou ld see th e likes of celebrity boxer Laila Ali —daughter of leg endar y hea vyw eight bo xer Muhamm ad Ali — an d profession al w restler Ken Sh am rock com petin g or h ostin g th e ch am pionship in future, as organisers here aim to emulat e t he spor t’s succ ess in the U S. MMA is a combination of th e various m ar t ial ar t for m s, in clu d in g m u ay t h ai, Brazilian j iu-jit su, bo xing and wr es tling. “We th in k th is is th e fastest grow in g sp ort in Asia an d t h ere is great in t erest in grassroot com p et it ion s an d clu bs like Evolve are seein g success h ere,” Victor Cui, senior dir ect or of ESPN Star Spor ts, Event Manag ement, t old Me diaCorp on F rida y. Added Evolve MMA chairman , Chatri Sity odt ong: “We belie ve this is going to be as big as F ormula 1 in Asia.” Co-or ganise d by ESPN Star Spor ts and Resorts World Sentosa, Martial Com bat is a 12-even t series (May to October) com prisin g 60 figh ts bet w een som e of t h e m ost popular fight ers in the w or ld, suc h as Brazilian Lean d ro Th om as Issa d a Silva, t h e w orld jiu-jit su c ham pion. While prize mone y and tic ket details ha ve no t been de termine d, event or gan isers are targeting a crow d of about 3,50 0 for Mar tial Combat’s firs t night at the Resor ts World Sen tosa’s 6,0 0 0 to 6,50 0-cap acit y Com pass Bal lroom. Sin gap ore fan s can get a glim p se of what the spor t is all about dail y at Raffles Pla ce from Mon d ay t o Fr id ay (12 p m t o 2pm ), w ith Evolve MMA hosting exhibition matc hes featuring some of th e bes t MMA pugilis ts. LOW LIN FHOONG

MMA fans can look forward to fighters like Mitch Chilson (right) and Leandro ‘Bradinho’ mix it up at Resorts World Sentosa from May. ERNEST CHUA


The bogeyman awaits