Sports News in Brief
MELBOURNE - Defending champion Victoria Azarenka has withstood a brave challenge from injured American Jamie Hampton to win their third-round clash at the Australian Open. Hampton, who has a history of back trouble, took a five-minute timeout late in the second set for treatment on her lower back. Still in obvious pain, the world No.63 was able to clinch the second set before world No.1 Azarenka steadied to win 6-4 4-6 6-2 in a match which lasted for two hours and nine minutes. Hampton, 22, was also treated for cramp in her legs during the third set to the annoyance of her Belarussian opponent.
ABU DHABI - The world's top two golfers, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, both missed the cut in their first tournament of the season at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Friday. McIlroy finished well outside the cut line, while playing partner Woods appeared to have squeezed into the weekend before he was hit with a two-stroke penalty for a rules infringement that sunk his challenge. By the time the dust had settled, England's Justin Rose was the leader at the halfway stage at eight under par after a 69, with rising Danish star Thorbjorn Olesen (69), Jamie Donaldson of Wales (70) and Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (67) all a further stroke back. But it was the astonishing double demise of McIlroy and Woods that was the story of the day.
LONDON - Theo Walcott ended months of speculation on Friday by signing a contract extension with Arsenal. The 23-year-old England forward's former deal was due to expire at the end of the season and he could have left the London club on a free transfer. But it is understood he has now agreed a new three-and-a-half-year deal worth in the region of 100,000 a week. Walcott, who joined the Gunners from Southampton as a teenager seven years ago, told Arsenal's website on Friday: "I have made it clear from the start that I wanted to stay at Arsenal, so I am pleased we have agreed a deal that everyone is happy with."
LONDON - The Australian netball team's warm-up routine has required a new approach as the Diamonds from Down Under battle snow to be able to reach the court in England. The world champions are in the UK for a three-Test series against the home side and on Friday their preparations were hampered by snow as they only just scraped together enough players for a friendly match against Northern Ireland. "The bus didn't make it up the hill to the venue ... we started the game with just the bare seven (players) and the coach and as the other girls arrived we added more," coach Lisa Alexander told AAP. The friendly was played west of London at Bath, where the first Test will also be played on Sunday in front of a sold-out crowd.
PERTH - World champion James Magnussen has dived into the pool in spectacular fashion winning his first event at the inaugural Aquatic Super Series in Perth. The 195cm New South Welshman fought off fellow Australian James Roberts to claim the podium finish in the 100m freestyle with a time of 48.38sec.