Azarenka given wildcard to Indian Wells

LOS ANGELES - Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wildcard into the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March, organisers said Wednesday. The Belarusian, who won the prestigious hard court title in the California desert in 2012 and 2016, will return this year after missing the 2017 event following the birth of her son. Azarenka returned from maternity leave in the middle of last year but skipped the US Open after a Los Angeles judge presiding in a custody case over her son Leo ruled she could not leave California until the matter had been settled. She will be making her 11th appearance at Indian Wells. "I have always loved playing at Indian Wells, and I could not be more thrilled to be returning to the desert this March to compete for my third event title," she said.–AFP



Wozniacki routs Potapova in opener

SAINT PETERSBURG - Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki handed 16-year-old Russian wild card Anastasia Potapova a 6-0, 6-1 rout at the St Petersburg WTA event Thursday in her first match since her maiden Grand Slam triumph. The world No 1, seeking her 29th singles title, swept to victory over the world No 235 in just 67 minutes and next faces sixth seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina. "I had to be well prepared for today's match against a former junior Wimbledon champion even though she's still so young," Wozniacki said and added: "Kasatkina is a great player, she mixes up the pace a lot. It's gonna be difficult but I'm excited for it." Defending champion Kristina Mladenovic of France ended a 15-match losing streak with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova to reach the quarters.–AFP



Aisam, Aqeel to play Davis Cup singles

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq will start Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group-I tie against Korean Soonwoo Kwon today (Friday) here at the Pakistan Sports Complex grass courts at 10:30am. Pakistan No 1 Aqeel Khan will play second singles against Seongchan Hong. Both the teams had long training sessions and the draws were also held at local hotel. The PTF ignored all the sports journalists and invited only a specific journalist. In the past too, PTF chief Salim Saifullah made several promises not to ignore sports journalists and take them all onboard, but he never fulfilled his promise. He always expects best coverage from them, but when it comes to provide respect to them, he never extends cooperation. It is hoped that the journalists will be provided proper seating during the tie.–Staff Reporter



Asim beaten in Malaysian Tour-III semis

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s Asim Khan, after winning back-to-back tournaments in Malaysia, bowed out in the semifinals of the $5000 Malaysian Tour-III, when he lost against Malaysian Sanjay Singh 1-3. Asim started the first game on a low and was soon trailing Sanjay, but he recovered to take the game 15-13. Asim was nowhere in the second game which he lost 4-11, the third 3-11 and then fourth 2-11. Pakistan No 1 female player Sadia Gul lost the quarterfinals of the $5000 ladies event against Malaysian Afia Azman 0-3 with the score of 6-11, 3-11, 10-12. On Asim’s defeat, PSF secretary Group Captain Tahir Sultan said: “It is hard to absolve for me as we were never expecting Asim to go down so cheaply. We will discuss it with him and try to sort out the problem.”–Staff Reporter


National sports leadership course starts

LAHORE - The 2nd National Good Governance and Sports Leadership Course started here Thursday with 30 participants attending it.     The three-day beneficial activity is being organised by the Punjab Olympic Association (PbOA) in collaboration with Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). POA vice president Ch M Yaqoob inaugurated the event. Sindh Olympic Association secretary Ahmed Ali Rajput and Pakistan Karate Federation chairman M Jahangir were the guests of honour. National Course Director Mian M Rafiq delivered a lecture on 'highest level of competence, integrity and ethical standards' whereas Prof Painda A Malik delivered a lecture on 'solidarity and development'. Yaqoob also delivered a lecture on 'harmonious relations with government while preserving autonomy'.–Staff Reporter