World of sport in brief: Djokovic masters breeze to put the wind up Italian

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The Independent Online

Third seed Novak Djokovic made a solid start at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, with a straight-sets win over the Italian Andrea Seppi last night. The Serb won 6-3 7-6 (7-3) despite twice failing to serve out the match in windy conditions. Djokovic will play Xavier Malisse or Philipp Kohlschreiber in round three.

Maria Sharapova won her 15th consecutive match this year, overpowering French qualifier Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-1 6-0 in the second round of the women's event. The fourth-seeded Russian was detained only briefly, breaking Cohen-Aloro's serve five times in a58-minute match.

"You never know what kind of tennis you're going to produce in these conditions, but against an opponent who didn't give me much pace, I think I handled it pretty well," Sharapova said.

The 2006 champion joined her compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova and Daniela Hantuchova in the third round. Kuznetsova beat another Russian, Ekaterina Makarova, 6-1 6-1, while Hantuchova opened her title defence with a 6-1 6-2 victory over Angela Haynes.

Tiger takes sage advice to move up the leaderboard

Tiger Woods charged up the leaderboard with a near-flawless third round in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida. The world No 1, who started the day seven strokes off the pace, handled a testing breeze with ease to compile a four-under-par 66, putting him on a six-under 204 to be tied for the clubhouse lead with Sean O'Hair, who shot a brilliant 63.

Woods received some pre-round advice from Palmer, the tournament host . "He told me I need to get off my butt and play a good round today," he said. "Here I am, back in contention."

The Londoner Brian Davis hit 68 to leave himself three under for the tournament.

McDowell fades at last to let in Milkha Singh

Graeme McDowell finished with a double-bogey six to lose the outright lead at the Ballantine's Championship on Jeju Island, off South Korea, the start of the European Tour. The Northern Irishman signed for a third-round 66, with six birdies, but it could have been better had he not overshot the 18th green.

That let his playing partner Jeev Milkha Singh – who is still to have a brain scan after the concussion he sustained in a golf-buggy crash at last week's Malaysian Open – draw level on 18 under par following an eight-under 64. Ireland's Paul McGinley hit a second straight 67 and was four shots behind on 14 under.

Moelgg plays safe at home to take title

The Italian skier Manfred Moelgg took his first slalom World Cup title after finishing joint sixth on home snow in Bormio in yesterday's final race of the season.

The Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Grange, who led the standings going into the race, produced a storming second run but slipped just before the finish line. The Austrian Reinfried Herbst wonin a combined time of 1min 51.31sec, with Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland second in 1:51.63. Moelgg topped the overall rankings with 531 points.

Moelgg, 25, who won his first World Cup slalom at Kranjska Gora in Slovenia last week, led after the first leg and played it safe in the second run.

"When I knew Grange had skied out I knew I could ski at 80 per cent and not like a crazy man," he said.

Foul-mouthed row mars head of river race

Imperial College and Molesey Boat Club's first crew were penalised for an incident near Chiswick Eyot during yesterday's Head of River race from Mortlake to Putney, won by Leander in 17min 40sec, writes Christopher Dodd. Imperial, half of whom were Italian, were penalised for bad language, and Molesey for obstruction, resulting in the former dropping from second to third in the finishing order, and the latter from 11th to 17th.