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Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Australian Open 2014: Serena Williams & Li Na into round three 
Top seed Serena Williams progressed to the third round of the Australian Open as she eased to a straightforward victory against Vesna Dolonc. 
Williams, a five-time winner in Melbourne, took just 63 minutes to beat her Serb opponent 6-1 6-2. 
Fourth seed Li Na ended the hopes of 16-year-old Belinda Bencic in straight sets but 15th seed Sabine Lisicki lost to Monica Niculescu. 
Seventh seed Tomas Berdych impressed in a three-set win over Kenny De Schepper. 
The searing heat again caused problems for the players as the temperature reached 41.5C, marginally lower than the 42C recorded on Tuesday which prompted one player to describe the conditions as "inhumane" 
Rod Laver Arena 

Li (Chn) [4] beat Bencic (Swi) 6-0 7-6 (7-5) 
Bencic, who has been described as "the new Martina Hingis" and is occasionally coached by the Swiss great's mother, appeared overawed early on as Li dominated from the start and took the first set without dropping a game. 
The teenager put up more of a challenge in the second set, breaking serve twice to threaten an upset. 
But on both occasions Li, a beaten finalist in Melbourne in 2011 and 2013, hit back instantly before winning the tie-break to ensure she remains on course for a third final appearance in Melbourne. 
"It was a little bit warm out there," said Li. "But I am pretty happy. At least I won the match and am still in the tournament." Read Mroe....

Lionel Messi and the hazards of a red suit | BBC News

Footballing star Lionel Messi lost out in last night's Fifa Ballon d'Or awards. But it's his red suit that has been getting all the attention, says Ben Milne. 

Footballing star Lionel Messi lost out in last night's Fifa Ballon d'Or awards. But it's his red suit that has been getting all the attention, says Ben Milne. 

"Everyone is rocking a black tux and Messi shows up in a red one like he's Beyonce," was a typical comment on Twitter. 

He may have lost out to Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo as player of the year, but there's no question that Barcelona star Messi's burgundy Dolce & Gabbana number has walked away with all the press attention. 

A red suit is, to put it mildly, a bold statement. There is no retreating with a red suit, and there is no pretending you are not trying to be the centre of attention. And herein lies the dilemma, according to style commentator, Peter York. 
Will Smith and Justin Bieber in red suits

"I feel sorry for Mr Messi. He's probably a very nice person, but I think it makes him look quite silly," he says. "It takes a lot to pull off a red suit." Read More...

Does English sport suffer from its suspicion of maverick talents?

The real wonder of Kevin Pietersen's England career is not that he has endured for so long but that he was picked in the first place. Such is the deep-seated suspicion of the 'maverick' in English sport. 
It is often enough simply to possess an outlandish talent to be considered suspect. English sport is set up for honest yeomen, while outlandish talent is often treated like witchcraft. 

Pietersen, who has played 104 Tests, is proof that a so-called maverick can endure, but he has never stopped being a conundrum. 
Pietersen's inclusion in the England squad for the 2005 Ashes series represented an uncharacteristic piece of selectorial risk-taking, especially given that the dependable Graham Thorpe was simultaneously jettisoned. 
For many, Pietersen was too South African. Others thought him too capricious. And there was the question of his hair. Despite making 13,797 international runs and being England's highest run-scorer in the depressing 5-0 Ashes whitewash, he remains a deeply divisive figure. 
Even David Gower has accused Pietersen of putting his ego before the team. Gower's opinion is particularly noteworthy, not least because the exquisite left-hander once buzzed an Ashes warm-up game in Queensland in a Tiger Moth biplane. 

Such Corinthian behaviour suggested Gower's heart wasn't in playing cricket for England, regardless of his thousands of Test runs. Not long after the Tiger Moth incident, Gower's career was gunned down by Graham Gooch, his significantly more prosaic skipper. 
Others in the pantheon of English sporting mavericks include Glenn Hoddle, described by Arsene Wenger, who managed the former Tottenham and England playmaker at Monaco, as "the most skilful player I ever worked with", yet dismissed by others as "a luxury"; and former Bath fly-half Stuart Barnes, a suspicious free-thinker in the dogmatic world of English rugby. More of both later. 
This distrust of the unorthodox has its roots in the Victorian era, the age of the sporting amateur. As Sir John Gielgud's Cambridge college master made clear to Harold Abrahams in Chariots of Fire, sport was meant to be about the "unassailable spirit of loyalty, comradeship and mutual responsibility". Non-conformists, in the words of Gielgud's character, messed with "esprit de corps". 
But it was in the 1970s that the stereotype of the sporting maverick morphed into its modern form, as a direct result of English football's greatest triumph.