Splendid on the grass

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Wozniak, Raonic win opening matches, but face tough second draws

Canada’s Kim Smith reacts after her team scores against Great Britain in the women’s basketball competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Monday. The Canadians won 73-65 to even their record at 1-1. — Photo by The Associated Press


Milos Raonic and Aleksandra Wozniak looked sharp in their Olympic tennis debuts.

They’ll need to be even better if they want to advance any further in their unforgiving draws at the London Games.

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., opened his first-round match against Japan’s Tatsuma Ito with an ace Monday, then cruised to a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win.

His second-round match will be much different. Raonic faces  world No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France on Tuesday.

“Really my job is just going to be go out there, take care of my serve and try to create opportunities,” Raonic said. “But I’m going to have to go out there going for the win. He’s not going to give it to me.”

Tsonga and Raonic were set to meet in Davis Cup play last February but the Canadian had to pull out with a knee injury. He was replaced by Frank Dancevic, who lost the deciding match in straight sets.

“It was unfortunate and I was sort of bummed out not (back then),” Raonic said. “But right now, I don’t think there’s a bigger stage for us as far as national pride goes.”

Wozniak, from Blainville, Que., also faces a daunting second-round opponent — American star Venus Williams. Wozniak will need to reproduce the form she showed in a decisive 6-2, 6-1 first-round win over New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic.

In men’s doubles, Toronto’s Daniel Nestor and Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil advanced to the second round in men’s doubles with a 6-3, 7-6 win over Horia Tecau and Adrian Ungur of Romania.

The tennis players were among Canada’s strongest athletes on Day 3, a relatively quiet day following a bronze-medal performance in three-metre synchro diving from Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel Sunday.

In women’s basketball action, Canada pulled away in the fourth quarter in a 73-65 win over Britain, finishing the game on a 16-4 run.

Hamilton’s Shona Thorburn, who was born in Britain, scored 18 points for Canada.

On the water, the men’s eight crew faces a stiff test after they recovered from a horrible opening race and advanced to Wednesday’s final. Canada was second in its repechage Monday, just behind Britain.

It was a bounce-back performance for defending Olympic champs after finishing a disappointing last in a tough four-boat heat Saturday.

The Canadians charged hard in the final half of the race but the British, who led from the start, held on to win in 5:26.85. Canada was second in 5:27.41.

Canada will be in tough in Wednesday’s final, however. The mighty German team is the favourite for gold, and the U.S., Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia will also field strong teams.


Canadian injured in equestrian fall

Canadian rider Hawley Bennett-Awad is in a London hospital for treatment of a concussion and a back injury after being thrown from her horse during the cross-country portion of equestrian event Monday.

The 35-year-old from Murrayville, B.C., fell from her horse, Gin & Juice, and was taken to the Royal London Hospital .

Michael Gallagher of Equine Canada said Bennett-Awad’s concussion is improving significantly and she is receiving pain management for a “stable sacral fracture.”

Peter Barry of Dunham, Que., also fell from his horse, Kilrodan Abbott, and did not finish. He was not hurt in the fall.

Bennett-Awad and Barry were among a half-dozen riders who fell from their mounts during the 5.7-kilometre course up and down the hills of Greenwich Park. Several horses slipped on the tight turns.

The cross-country portion of the three-discipline eventing competition is designed to test horse and rider’s endurance and guts. There were razor-sharp turns, blind two-metre drops and tricky combination jumps.




Organizations: London Games.Raonic, Royal London Hospital

Geographic location: Canada, Britain, Thornhill Japan France Davis Blainville New Zealand Toronto Vancouver U.S. Netherlands Australia Murrayville Dunham Greenwich Park

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