The week in numbers: w/e 29/1/12

Azarenka won both her first major and gained the number 1 ranking (image courtesy of Mark Howard/Flickr)

1 – Having lost the opening two games of the Australian Open final, Victoria Azarenka won 12 of the next 13 games to defeat Maria Sharapova 6-3 6-0, winning her first Grand Slam tournament and taking over the number one ranking.

15 – This was the third time in the last six tournaments that only 15 games were required to complete the ladies’ singles final. On each occasion the losing finalist was Russian (Sharapova in 2007 and 2012, Dinara Safina in 2009).

7 –  A joint-England-record seven players failed to score more than one run as the tourists were skittled out for 72 in pursuit of a target of 145 to give Pakistan an unassailable 2-0 lead in the second of their three-match series.

22 – 22 wickets fell in one day as New Zealand inflicted Zimbabwe’s record defeat to win their one-off Test in Napier by an innings. New Zealand declared on 495/7 before dismissing Zimbabwe for 51 and then 143 following on.

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Villa overturned by Arsenal’s perfect storm

Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2

van Persie 54 pen, 61 pen, Walcott 56; Dunne 33, Bent 45+1

Arsenal walked off the pitch to opprobrium at half-time and adulation at full-time after a stirring second half comeback put them through to the last 16 of the FA Cup. As abject as they were in going 2-0 down in the first 45 minutes, they showed tremendous spirit in scoring three times in the space of seven minutes to reverse their fortunes against a shell-shocked Aston Villa.

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49ers beaten at own game as Giants road trip reaches Super Bowl

NFC Championship Game: San Francisco 49ers 17 New York Giants 20 (OT)

There was to be no ‘Har-Bowl’ and no fairy-tale ending for the San Francisco 49ers and Alex Smith. A year after they finished a lowly 6-10 and the former number one overall pick was drummed out of town, Jim Harbaugh‘s revitalised team fell one step short of their first Super Bowl appearance in 17 years.

The New York Giants won on the road again, shutting down the 49ers’ offense for long periods and riding the boot of Lawrence Tynes to prevail 20-17 in overtime on a cold, wet evening at Candlestick Park. They will now play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis in a fortnight’s time, a repeat of the title game from four years ago, when the underdog Giants denied the Patriots what would have been only the second ‘perfect’ Super Bowl winning season.

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The week in numbers: w/e 22/1/12

Joe Paterno, RIP (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

85 – Age of Joe Paterno, former football head coach of Penn State University, who died after a short battle with lung cancer. Paterno won 409 games and two national championships in nearly 46 years as coach, but was sacked last November for his links to a child abuse scandal.

0 – Number of sets won by the five British players – Laura Robson, Heather Watson, Elena Baltacha, James Ward and Anne Keothavong – who competed on the first day of the Australian Open. They lost ten sets and all five matches between them.

3 – Former Chelsea and Leeds defender Michael Duberry scored an unusual hat-trick for current club Oxford United. He conceded two own goals to put visitors Hereford United 2-1 up at the Kassam Stadium, before snatching a last-minute equaliser to earn Oxford a point.

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Arsenal outflanked by United

Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2

van Persie 71; Valencia 45+1, Welbeck 81

Arsenal succumbed to a third consecutive Premier League defeat as familiar defensive weaknesses on the flanks and Danny Welbeck‘s late strike cost them at least a share of the points. The loss left them five points adrift of the top four despite the four teams immediately either side of them – Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle – mustering only a single point between them this weekend.

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