Halep secures top Melbourne seeding

SHENZHEN - Simona Halep guaranteed top seeding for this month's Australian Open after battling back from a set down to defeat Duan Yingying 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in Shenzhen on Wednesday. The Romanian is now assured to remain world number one ahead of Caroline Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza for the season's first Grand Slam which begins in Melbourne on January 15. Looking for a first victory over a top 10 player, the powerful world number 91 from China blasted her way to the first set without conceding a single break point.  Halep roared back, dropping just three more games to reach the quarter-finals of the WTA Tour event that she won in 2015 after an hour and 37 minutes of action. "I knew that she's playing hard and hitting every ball, so I knew that I had to be very strong in my legs," Halep said.–AFP

 Surgery not end of world for Murray

LONDON - Former world number one Andy Murray can be encouraged by the examples of Lleyton Hewitt and Milos Raonic, who both returned from hip surgery, according to his former coach Miles Maclagan. The 30-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion withdrew from the tournament in Brisbane and raised the prospect he may require surgery on the hip that has kept him off the ATP circuit. The Scotsman said he would make his mind up by the weekend whether he would play in the year's first Grand Slam the Australian Open – in which he has been a finalist five times – which gets under way on January 15. Maclagan, who coached Murray from 2007-10, said the upside was he wasn't feeling like this after surgery. "It's concerning because the first option hasn't worked out, which was a lot of rehab," Maclagan said.–AFP

 Van Niekerk ends successful Qatar rehab

JOHANNESBURG - World athletics star Wayde van Niekerk has returned to South Africa after a successful one-month rehabilitation programme in Qatar for a knee ligament tear sustained last October. "The services I received were world class and I am feeling very positive about my recovery," Van Niekerk said in a statement released Wednesday. The Olympic and world 400-metre champion was injured while playing in a touch rugby match in Cape Town, one of several curtain-raisers to a South Africa-New Zealand Test. Van Niekerk underwent surgery in the United States soon after and the visit to Qatar was planned then as part of his rehabilitation schedule. No definite track comeback date has been set by the 25-year-old, but he will miss the Commonwealth Games on the Australian Gold Coast during April. AFP

 Jazz, Honda win in super league

LAHORE - Jazz and Honda won their respective seventh round matches of the Premier Super League Corporate Cricket Tournament. In the first match of the day, Jazz outlasted Nespak by 5 wickets here at the Township Whites Ground. Nespak decided to play first after winning the toss and set a target of 160 runs for the loss of 9 wickets. Jazz replied strongly and achieved the required target in 17.5 overs. The man-of-the-match was won by Jahanzeb. Honda emerged as winners of the second match after outclassing 3DMS by 6 wickets. 3DMS played first after winning the toss and posted 133 runs on the board losing 7 wickets. Honda, in reply, chased the target in the 19th overs for the loss of 4 wickets. Sajid won the man of the match award. Chief organiser Faheem Butt congratulated both the winners.–Staff Reporter

 Prince Club condoles Khalid’s death

LAHORE – Prince Club and Young Prince Club have condoled the tragic death of former chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Khalid Shamim Wynne during a condolence meeting held here. Club chairman Tariq Bashir, Sarfraz Ahmed, Syed Kamli Shah, M Tufail, Shahid Rafiq, Khadim Hissain, Abdul Rauf, Afzaal Butt, Fahadul Haq, Ammar Tariq and Zeeshan Mughal attended the meeting. Gen Khalid Shamim, member of Prince Club in early 70s, died in a road accident. The club office-bearers prayed that may Almihty rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss. Meanwhile, the last quarterfinal of Nasir Butt Memorial Cricket Tournament, between Prince Club and Township Whites, will be played on January 5 at Race Course Ground.–Staff Reporter