An optimistic Jenson Button says McLarens car feels positive at the Bahrain GP after the team finished an unexpected third-fastest on Friday. A day after suffering the blow of Fernando Alonso being sidelined for at least this weekends race after his big Melbourne shunt, Button gave the clearest glimpse yet of the performance jump the McLaren-Honda package appears to have made over the winter.The team have finished in the points just five times in the 21 races since McLarens problem-filled reunion with Honda, but had qualified more strongly at the season-opener in Australia before their weekend went awry again in the race. Asked if their eye-catching form in Bahrain on Friday - when only the dominant Mercedes cars outpaced them in P2 - boded well for the weekend, Button told Sky Sports News HQ: I dont really know yet. But P1 was the same.In the second run in P1 we ran higher fuel, so couldnt really get a reasonable lap time, but I think it would have been equally competitive. When is Bahrain Qualy on? 4pm starts for both qualifying and the race in Bahrain on Sky F1. The car doesnt feel too bad. I came from the back up tyre to the supersoft, which is a big leap - I think its 3.2 seconds. So its obviously going to feel good and youre probably not going get everything out of it, but the balance is reasonable.The cars feeling nice around here, its definitely better than Melbourne. Long run, some areas need a bit of work - especially on the harder compounds - but the supersoft was reasonably good. McLarens first target would appear to be a return to the final phase of qualifying on Saturday - a feat they have not achieved since 2014 - and Button added: Its a nice place to be, a positive start but still, as always, there is more work to be done overnight.The weight of expectation at McLaren will rest on the 36-year-old Buttons shoulders this weekend given Alonsos stand-in, reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, is making his F1 debut.McLaren pace shocks RenaultAfter flying in from Japan overnight, the reigning GP2 champion steadily improved his pace during the course of Friday and finished second practice in 11th place. Vandoorne, who only learnt of his call-up on Thursday, told Sky Sports News HQ: I feel 100 per cent ready. Today was very good, I felt comfortable in the car quickly and I had a good feeling in P2. There were a lot of operational things l had to learn, but so far it has been very good.I have to enjoy this opportunity. Its never ideal to jump into a car without any testing but so far its been very good in both practice sessions. The 24-year-old had never driven the MP4-31 prior to Practice One and ended the day 0.7 seconds adrift of Button. However, McLarens elder statesman was impressed with Vandoornes performance.Hes done a really good job today, Button said.His lap would have been a lot better than it looked, so hes fitted in as you would expect. Hes a very talented driver, so well see what we can do as a team [in qualifying]. Even though Stoffel Vandoorne only got the call to replace Fernando Alonso in the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday, he believes he is ready for the challenge Every race live in 2016 Sky Sports F1 brings you every race live in 2016. Fast and easy online upgrade - click here. Also See: Button third in Practice Two Alonso not 100% certain for China China Jerseys Cheap Online . 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CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Sam Stosur won the Southern California Open on Sunday for her first title in nearly two years, beating top-seeded Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-3. The fifth-seeded Stosur of Australia had lost all of her previous eight matches against Azarenka, winning only two sets. The win was Stosurs fourth career singles title and the first since she won her only major, the 2011 U.S. Open. "I think this is a huge boost for me," said Stosur. "I havent had great results for really all year, so to be able to bounce back and come away with this is really exciting and a good boost going into the last slam of the year." Later Sunday, Azarenka withdrew from Rogers Cup in Toronto because of a lower back injury. "Im so disappointed that I cant make it to Toronto as I added it to my schedule knowing what an important event it is," Azarenka said. "I am sorry to all my Canadian fans and I will work hard to get healthy and back on the courts as soon as possible." Azarenka, the two-time Australian Open champion, played another loose match, committing 32 unforced errors including seven double faults, and had only 11 winners. "I think I was taking too many wrong kind of decisions or too risky decisions when there was no need to be risky," she said. "I didnt try to sometimes stay in the rally. I just wanted to make what sometimes I can make with eyes closed. (Sunday) I didnt do it with open eyes." Stosur, playing in her first final since October, hit 20 winners compared to 29 unforced errors, but played the key points well, including saving 11 of 12 break points. "That was a really big part of the match," Stosur said. "That first set, she did have lots of opportunities. I think nearly all of them except one I hit a really good first serve in and she diidnt make the ball into play.dddddddddddd" Stosur, ranked No. 13, requested and was granted a wild-card into the event after she lost her opening-round match last week at Stanford in the Bank of the West Classic. Stosur had victories over No. 4-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska and the third-ranked Azarenka, the first time she has defeated two top-five players in an event since the 2011 WTA Championships. "You can practice all you want, but at some point, you got to put it into play in matches," Stosur said. "That was the reasoning behind coming here. You got to put yourself under that pressure of playing matches. Thats why I came, and obviously now, very, very pleased with that decision." Azarenka, who will move into the No. 2 ranking ahead of Maria Sharapova on Monday, was playing her first tournament since withdrawing from Wimbledon with a right knee injury before her second-round match. Azarenka set the tone early when she didnt win a point on her first service game of the match, including consecutive double faults to give Stosur a 2-0 lead. She then scored her only break of the match on Stosurs serve in the next game before the Aussie broke back for a 3-1 lead. In a key game, Stosur fended off five break points in the next game to hold her serve and take a 4-1 lead en route to winning the first set. Stosur held a huge advantage with her serve in the set over one of the games best returners. Stosur, who had six aces, won 73 per cent of her first serves compared to Azarenka, who won just 43 per cent. Azarenka was even worse on her second serves, winning only 30 per cent. Azarenka improved her game slightly in the second set as the pair were on serve until Stosur struck with the only service break in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. Stosur improved her record in finals to 4-12. 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jj009, 01.09.2018 12:30