ATP Tour

Milos Raonic wins in Brisbane

Milos Raonic (AFP)
Milos Raonic (AFP)

Brisbane - Canadian Milos Raonic opened his 2016 season with a 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-4 win over Croatia's Ivan Dodig on Thursday at the Brisbane International.

The fourth-seeded Raonic, who had a first-round bye, appeared agitated at times with Dodig's play and was seen on camera mouthing an obvious obscenity at his opponent when Dodig hit a half-volley drop shot at the net for a winner.

Lucas Pouille of France beat sixth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3 and will play Raonic in the quarter-finals. Grigor Dimitrov also advanced by beating Viktor Troicki of Serbia 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Top-seeded and defending champion Roger Federer was scheduled to play his first match of the season on Thursday night against qualifier Tobias Kamke of Germany.

Fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber, the highest-ranked woman remaining in Brisbane, meanwhile, advanced to the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Top-seeded Simona Halep and defending champion Maria Sharapova both withdrew with injuries ahead of their matches on Tuesday, while second-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain retired with an injury in the second set of her match Wednesday.

Kerber, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, said she wasn't surprised by all the withdrawals.

"We had two months off," she said. "It's not so easy to start the year and to come back."

In another quarter-final, American qualifier Samantha Crawford beat Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-0 and will next play the winner of a Thursday night match between Victoria Azarenka and Roberta Vinci.

At the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, Austria's Tamira Paszek became the first player into the semi-finals when she beat fellow qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3 in a match that lasted 2 hours, 51 minutes.

Paszek, an Auckland semi-finalist in 2008 as a teenager, saved a break point in the final game before finally converting her eighth match point.

"I felt at 4-1 in the second (set) like someone pulled the plug and I had no more energy left," Paszek said. "It was kind of a weird feeling out there and she kept pushing me all around the court. But it was the crowd that kept me going and I'm incredibly happy to be through."

Paszek's semi-final opponent will be Germany's Julia Goerges, who beat Nao Hibino of Japan 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-4.

Fifth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States also reached the semi-finals, extending her Australian Open build-up with a 7-6 (6), 6-3 win over another qualifier, Britain's Naomi Broady.

Broady beat second-seeded Ana Ivanovic in the first round and Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in a three-set marathon in the second.

Stephens said she felt in good form and that her goal for the season would be to represent the United States at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

"That's my dream and I really hope I can do that," Stephens said. "But right now I'm really happy with my game and where I'm at."

At the Hopman Cup mixed team event in Perth, Ukraine qualified for Saturday's final with singles wins over the Australia Gold team of Jarmila Wolfe and Lleyton Hewitt.

Wolfe lost her singles match to Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 and Hewitt, who will retire after the Australian Open in two weeks, fell 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Alexandr Dogopolov to give the Ukraine an insurmountable 2-0 lead. Australia then won the mixed doubles 3-6, 7-5, 10-5.

Hewitt finishes his Hopman Cup career with eight appearances but no trophy. Australia's only Hopman Cup title came in 1999 when Mark Philippoussis and Jelena Dokic won the championship over Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman and Asa Carlsson.

In a night match, Jack Sock and Vicky Duval were to lead the United States against the Czech Republic in a matchup between already-eliminated teams. Duval replaced Serena Williams, who has inflammation in her left knee and wants to rest ahead of the Australian Open beginning Jan. 18.

The Australia Green team of Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova can advance to the final against Ukraine with a win on Friday night over France. Britain plays Germany in the other match Friday to end preliminary play.

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England 219 & 55/1 (21.6 ov, target 277)
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England 219 & 55/1 (21.6 ov, target 277)
Pakistan 326 & 169
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