Azarenka pulls out of Australian Open

MELBOURNE - Former champion Victoria Azarenka, who has been locked in a custody battle over her young son, pulled out of the Australian Open on Monday. The two-time winner had been handed a wildcard into the opening Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne, starting on January 15, but will not be making the trip. "It's unfortunate that Azarenka is unable to travel to Australia this year," tournament director Craig Tiley tweeted. "The Australian Open is her favourite tournament and she's looking forward to returning to Melbourne next year." 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.–AFP


Wozniacki up to second in WTA rankings

PARIS - Caroline Wozniacki climbed to No 2 in the WTA rankings published on Monday following a run to the final in Auckland last week. It is the 27-year-old's highest ranking in almost six years, when she lost the No 1 spot following a poor start to 2012. Ukraine's Elina Svitolina moved up to fourth on the back of victory in Brisbane while German Julia Georges, who stunned Wozniacki in the Auckland final, climbed two places to 12th. Romania's Simona Halep remains on top ahead of start of the Australian Open. WTA Rankings: 1. Simona Halep 6,425pts, 2. Caroline Wozniacki 6,095, 3. Garbine Muguruza 6,005 (-1), 4. Elina Svitolina 5,785, 5. Venus Williams 5,567, 6. Karolina Pliskova 5,445, 7. Jelena Ostapenko 4,901, 8. Caroline Garcia 4,385, 9. Johanna Konta 3,600, 10. Coco Vandeweghe 3,258.–AFP




16 players in U-18 snooker pre-quarters

ISLAMABAD - As many as 16 players qualified for the pre-quarterfinals of the Jubilee Insurance 3rd National Junior U-18 Snooker Championship here at PSB Billiards & Snooker Hall on Monday. Those, who qualified for the pre-quarterfinals, were M Mudassar Sheikh, Shahzaib Malik, Ahsan Ramzan, M Muzammil Sheikh, M Bilal, Hamza Ilyas, Shehryar Abbas of Punjab, M Rafiq, Malik Muzammil Khan, Kamran Albert Masih of KP, Sheheryar Khan and M Rafey of Sindh, Yasir Ahmed of Balouchistan, Kamran Chaudhry and M Ali Qureshi of Islamabad. In all 32 players participated in the six-day mega event being organised by Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) in collaboration with Jubilee Insurance and PSB. The best-of-7-frame pre-quarterfinals will commence today (Tuesday) here at 10am.–Staff Reporter




Shifa Int’l cricket team beat MOL

ISLAMABAD - Shifa International Hospital cricket team hammered MOL cricket team by massive 98 runs in a friendly T20 fixture here at Margallah Cricket ground Islamabad. Shifa skipper Shafiq Aslam won the toss and elected to bat first. They hit up massive 237-6 in 20 overs. Qutab Uddin Qureshi hit a whirlwind 93 runs off 48 balls with 10 fours and 6 sixes while Faisal Iqbal slammed unbeaten 65 off 23 balls with 8 fours and 4 sixes. Nasir Mahmood (23) and Tahir Akhtar (15) also batted well. MOL, in reply, were bowled out for 139 in the 19th over. Mushtaq (30), Khalid (30) and Irfan Khan (23) were their main scorers. Syed Mudassar Bukhari grabbed 4-17 and Abdul Wahab Qureshi took 3-21. Syed Mudassar Bukhari and Qutab Uddin Qureshi were jointly declared players of the match.–Staff Reporter




Abdul FC, Neymarazil register wins

KARACHI - Abdul FC and Neymarazil won their respective matches of the third edition of Neymar Jr's Five 2018 which were played here at the Olympian Iftikhar Syed Sports Complex, Karachi. The two Karachi outfits produced a stellar show to outwit their competitors displaying greater control, defence and scoring ability. Both teams would now be vying for the coveted Neymar Jr's Five Pakistan Champions title on the finals day. The next leg is set to be staged in Multan from January 13 followed by Faisalabad from January 16, Lahore January 19, Islamabad January 25, Peshawar February 1 and the national finals in Lahore on February 5.–PR