Family first for Bjorkman
Stockholm: Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman will not play in the Australian Open because of the imminent birth of his first child.
Bjorkman won the doubles at the Open with Todd Woodbridge two years ago, Patrick Rafter in 1999 and Jacco Eltingh in 1998.
Bjorkman, 30, decided to skip the Grand Slam event for the first time in 10 years because his wife, Petra, is due to give birth any day now, the Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet reported on Thursday.
Fellow Swede Thomas Johansson, the reigning Australian Open men’s singles champion, has also pulled out of this year’s tournament due to injury.
Mankad, Bopanna in fray
New Delhi: Indian Davis Cuppers Harsh Mankad and Rohan Bopanna will vie with several international players for top honours in the $15,000 ITF Futures tennis tournament starting here on January 13, according to a media release from the All India Tennis Association released here Thursday.
The ITF tournament, to be played at the DLTA courts, should provide a good opportunity for Mankad and Bopanna to show their talent before the upcoming Davis Cup tie with Japan from February 7 to 9 at the same venue.
While Mankad displayed his forte by winning the third and final leg of the $10,000 Futures event at Davengere last year, Bopanna won two titles —in Delhi and in Chennai.
SA harbour German hopes
Johannesburg: South Africa are hoping to arrange a training camp in Germany next month to give coach Ephraim Mashaba the chance to work with the country’s European-based professionals, officials said on Thursday.
The camp would be held from February 11-12, which has been designated on the official Fifa calendar as a date for international friendly matches.
Officials said a match against a German club side would also be sought. South Africa do not have an international match arranged until the end of March.
A similar training camp was held in Switzerland in 1998 before the World Cup finals in France by then South African coach Philippe Troussier.
Marathoner tests positive
New York: Olivera Jevtic of Yugoslavia, the third-place finisher in the 2002 New York City Marathon, was disqualified and stripped of her $45,000 prize money on Wednesday after testing positive for a banned drug.
Race organisers, the New York Road Runners, said Jevtic, 25, was found guilty of using ephedrine by the Yugoslavian Federation acting in accordance with the rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
She loses winnings of $45,000, comprising $30,000 for her third-place finish and a $15,000 time bonus.
Double blow for Shimizu
Tokyo: Shimizu S-Pulse could be dealt a double blow if Japan internationals Kazuyuki Toda and Daisuke Ichikawa, currently in Europe for trials at Sunderland and Strasbourg respectively, opt to leave the J-League club.
Toda is due to arrive in England on Thursday for a two-week tryout with Premier League strugglers Sunderland following a frustrating season at S-Pulse. He endured a wretched end to 2002 after clashing with former S-Pulse manager Zdravko Zemunovic.
Leeds: A civil action for damages against Leeds United star Jonathan Woodgate will be formally launched at the end of this week by an Asian student who was allegedly assaulted by the player, the Yorkshire Post reported Thursday.
n Cricket: New Zealand vs India — Sixth ODI, live from 6.30 am (Saturday) on ESPN n Cricket: Tri-series — Australia vs England, live from 4.28 am (Saturday) on STAR Sports n Soccer: Premier League — Newcastle United vs Liverpool from 1.30 am on ESPN n Karnataka’s Pankaj Advani with the trophy after winning the 69th senior snooker national championship in Jammu on Wednesday. Advani defeated former champion Yasin Merchant of Maharastra by 7-5 frames. (AFP)