Australian Open attracting most of the heavyweights

All 100 top-ranked men and 99 of the top 100 women have entered to play in January’s Australian Open.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said that the field for the tournament beginning Jan. 19 was one of the “deepest and strongest” in the Grand Slam event’s history.

Tiley said the only absentee from the women’s draw was No. 58 Petra Cetkovska of Czech Republic, who withdrew due to a hip injury.

Eight wild-card entrants will be added to both the men’s and women’s draws, along with 16 male and 12 female qualifiers.

ATP TOUR: Total prize money on the tour will surpass $100 million for the first time in 2015.

The ATP says prize-money increases on the World Tour will rise steadily over the next four years and reach $135 million by 2018.

The biggest increase will come in the top-tier Masters 1000 tournaments, with an overall 14-percent hike over the next four years..


WELTERWEIGHT BOUT: Amir Khan and Devon Alexander meet Saturday night in a Las Vegas fight that could get the winner a shot against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May – assuming the pay-per-view king keeps ignoring calls to fight Manny Pacquiao in what would be the biggest fight of them all.


GRAND PRIX: Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan took the first step toward defending his title in Barcelona at the final by taking the lead with his season-best score of 94.08 points after the short program despite a fall.

Countryman Tatsuki Machida was second with 87.82, followed by Russian Maxim Kovtun with 87.02.

 Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada took the lead in ice dance with the highest score in the short dance on Friday.

Weaver and Poje earned a leading score of 71.34 points, ahead of American pairs Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.


WORLD CUP: Martina Sablikova handed Olympic champion Ireen Wust her first 3,000-meter defeat of the season in a thrilling head-to-head confrontation in the Netherlands.

Wust led through most of the race, but Sablikova of the Czech Republic, who finished second in Sochi, saved her strength and took the lead in the final lap to finish in 4 minutes, 2.84 seconds. Wust was second in 4:03.14 and fellow Dutchwoman Carlijn Achtereekte came third in 4:05.95.


WORLD CUP: The German duo of Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis had the fastest start in each run of the season-opening two-man race at Lake Placid, New York, with a pair of clean runs, and getting some help when U.S. driver Nick Cunningham ran over a large red-and-white flannel hat that someone inadvertently dropped onto the track late in his second run.


WORLD CUP: Marcel Hirscher of Austria was fastest in both runs to easily win an icy giant slalom race under floodlights in Are, Sweden, finishing more than one second ahead of his archrival, Ted Ligety of the United States.

 World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia shook off her jet lag to post a superb second run to win a giant slalom in Are, Sweden, for her third victory of the season and 26th of her career.

– From news service reports