Ward makes damp exit as weather hits build-up

The rain is nothing like it has been in the flood-hit state of Queensland but bad weather in other parts of the country is starting to affect players' preparations for the Australian Open, which starts here on Monday.

There was no play at all yesterday in the women's warm-up tournament in Hobart, with Britain's Elena Baltacha among those waiting in vain to go on court, while competitors in the qualifying tournament for the year's first Grand Slam event, as well as some of those who are at Melbourne Park just to practise, were having to dodge the showers. Andy Murray hit with Novak Djokovic before chalking up his first victory of the year over the world No 3 in an indoor football match which the Scot described on Twitter as "Serbia vs rest of the world".

The day began with only one British man in the qualifying event and ended with none after James Ward was beaten 6-3, 6-4 in the first round by the veteran Chilean, Paul Capdeville. Ward was up against it from the start after dropping his serve in the opening game. His defeat means Murray will once again be the lone Briton in the men's singles next week.

Weather permitting, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Katie O'Brien were due today to begin their attempts to join Baltacha, the British No 1, in the main draw for the women's singles. Keothavong, who is at No 118 in the world rankings as she continues her comeback from a serious knee injury, was drawn to play Darya Kustova (world No 163), of Belarus. Watson, who has climbed to No 149 after her run to the quarter-finals in Auckland last week, was facing China's Yi-Miao Zhou (No 298), while O'Brien (No 173), hoping to make the main draw here for the third year in succession, was up against Luxembourg's Mandy Minella (No 137).

Juan Martin del Potro lost in the second round of his comeback tournament in Sydney. The former world No 4, who missed almost all of last year with a wrist injury, was beaten 6-2, 7-5 by Germany's Florian Mayer. The tournament's top seed also lost as Sam Querrey was beaten 6-4, 6-3 in just 62 minutes by Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov.

The top two women's seeds in Sydney, Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, had already gone out, but Kim Clijsters moved impressively into the semi-finals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, confirming the Belgian's position as the favourite to win the women's title here.

Arts and Entertainment
Written protest: Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, has sent an open letter to the Culture Secretary
books
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss