The Independent

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Djokovic prepares for Australian Open with thrilling win

Novak Djokovic warmed up for his Australian Open return by saving a championsh­ip point en route to clinching the Adelaide Internatio­nal title with a thrilling victory over American Sebastian Korda. The Serbian looked in danger of slipping to a surprise defeat before triumphing 6-7 (8) 7-6 (3) 6-4 in a gruelling three hours and nine minutes to extend his winning streak in Australia to 34 matches, dating back to 2019.

Djokovic was deported from the country ahead of the 2022 Australian Open as a risk to public health because of his refusal

to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. But the 35-year-old, who received treatment on his left leg during Saturday’s semi-final win against Daniil Medvedev, will be back in Melbourne this month, chasing a 10th title. He will arrive there brimming with confidence after lifting the 92nd tour-level trophy of his illustriou­s career at the end of an absorbing encounter. PA

Osaka withdraws from Australian Open

Two-time champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Australian Open, adding her name to a growing list of notable withdrawal­s. Organisers confirmed on yesterday that Japan's Osaka, the Open champion in 2019 and 2021, will not be playing in Melbourne. The 25-year-old's ranking has slipped to 47 and she has not played since September after withdrawin­g during the second round in Tokyo. Osaka won her first-round match at that tournament when Australia's Daria Saville withdrew after one game with a knee injury. Osaka won only one completed match since May and was beaten in the first round of her three previous tournament­s, including the US Open at which she also is a two-time champion. PA

Australia denied clean sweep as South Africa draw third Test

Australia missed their chance to seal a place in the World Test Championsh­ip final at The Oval after being held to draw in the third Test against South Africa in Sydney. A win would have guaranteed the hosts a place in the June final but they will now head to India next month needing just one draw from their fourTest series.

The Proteas were thoroughly outplayed in the first two Tests and looked set to lose the third until rain lost 49 overs across the first two days. Following on after being bowled out for 255, the South Africans reached 106-2 largely thanks to an unbeaten 42 from Sarel Erwee. Despite falling short of booking their place at The Oval, the result still meant Australia wrapped up a 2-0 series victory. PA

Robertson’s Masters title defence ended by Murphy

Shaun Murphy held off a spirited fightback from Neil Robertson to dump the defending champion out of the Cazoo Masters in the first round. Robertson won the opening frame with a break of 73 but Murphy reeled off the next five in succession thanks to contributi­ons of 98, 53, 61 and 100, the century coming after Robertson had miscued horribly on the black.

Murphy had the chance to wrap up victory in a 48-minute seventh frame only to miss the green after a superb pot on the yellow with the rest and that looked set to be a turning point. Robertson made a break of 84 to reduce his deficit and was then on course for a maximum break of 147 in the ninth frame before missing a difficult 14th red into the yellow pocket. The lefthander had the chance to force a decider when Murphy broke down on 54 in frame 10, but missed the blue into the middle trying to force position on the final red and a relieved Murphy sealed a 6-4 win. PA

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 ?? (AFP/Getty) ?? Novak Djokovic ce l ebrates after winning the Ade l aide I nternation­a l yesterday
(AFP/Getty) Novak Djokovic ce l ebrates after winning the Ade l aide I nternation­a l yesterday
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