2012 YEAR IN REVIEW
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- Nadal back to best, Kyrgios wins five-set thriller
Rafael Nadal looked back to his best after recent problems as exciting Australian youngster Nick Kyrgios won a memorable five-setter to reach the quarter-finals at the Australian Open on Sunday. Spain's world number three Nadal mastered big-serving South African Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena to set up a last eight showdown with Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych. It will be Nadal's eighth quarter-final appearance as he bids for his second Australian title after losing to Stan Wawrinka in last year's decider. Berdych was too strong for Australia's Bernard Tomic, winning in straight sets.
- Life easy next to Messi, says Neymar
Brazilian star Neymar has given four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi the credit for his upturn in form during his second season with Barcelona. Neymar was set up twice by Messi to bag a double against Elche in a 6-0 rout on Saturday to take his tally for the season to 19 goals in just 24 games, four more than he managed in the entirety of his debut campaign in Spain. "Of all the players I have seen play, Messi is the best and I will always have enormous respect for him," the 22-year-old said on Monday. Neymar has yet to win a major trophy in Barca colours after the Catalan giants missed out last season for the first time in six years.
- Tennis-Australia finally warms to beaten Azarenka
* Cibulkova reaches second consecutive Melbourne quarter-final * Azarenka out but not down (Writes through with quotes, adds byline) By Ian Ransom MELBOURNE, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka's grand slam comeback from an injury-plagued season ran into a brick wall in the form of feisty Slovak Dominika Cibulkova on Monday, but the former champion leaves Melbourne Park having finally won the affections of the hosts. They mocked her loud grunting in her run to the 2012 title and openly jeered her the year after when she took a controversial medical time-out during her semi-final against American Sloane Stephens after blowing match points. As the year's first grand slam got underway, Azarenka repeatedly professed how much she loved Australia, the nation of her greatest success, and for once the feeling was requited as she pounded Stephens, then eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in a gutsy return to the spotlight.
- Bouchard regretful as Slam chance goes begging
Canadian seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard admitted she was full of regrets on Tuesday after blowing the chance to make a Grand Slam statement against second seed Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open. The 20-year-old, hyped as the rising star of a new generation destined for glory at the majors, was seeded seventh at Melbourne Park but looked outclassed in her quarter-final against the Russian five-time Slam champion. Bouchard insisted she had chances to win the match, including two break points in the first set, but failed to seize them. Bouchard was the most consistent player at Grand Slams last year, making the Australian and French semis along with the Wimbledon final.
- Sharapova blows away Bouchard to march into semis
By Greg Stutchbury MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Maria Sharapova showcased all of her canny experience and brutal efficiency as she gave Eugenie Bouchard a 78-minute tennis lesson to advance to the Australian Open semi-finals on Tuesday. The 20-year-old Bouchard reached the last four in Australia and France as well as the Wimbledon final in 2014 but was no match for Sharapova, who showed she was not ready to be usurped by the younger generation just yet in a 6-3 6-2 victory. The 27-year-old has now beaten the Canadian in each of their four meetings, three of which have been at grand slams, and set up a meeting with 10th-seeded compatriot Ekaterina Makarova for a place in the final. "I felt pretty good from the start (and) I kept my focus throughout the whole match," Sharapova told reporters.
- Drogba wants to remain with Chelsea 'family'
Didier Drogba said he wanted to remain a member of the Chelsea "family" beyond the end of the current English season. The Ivory Coast forward made the announcement as he received the 2015 Football Writers' Association Tribute Award at a dinner at London's Savoy Hotel on Sunday. Drogba returned to Stamford Bridge in pre-season, following spells in China and Turkey with Shanghai and Galatasaray respectively, but there has been no word yet from Chelsea chiefs as to what will happen to the forward when his current contract with the west London club expires.