Knox opened with a 72

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HAWTHORN (1st, 11 wins 3 losses, 119.6%)To come: Port Adelaide (away), Sydney (away), Richmond (away), Carlton (home), Melbourne (away), North Melbourne (home), West Coast (away), Collingwood (home)Against top eight teams: 3Predicted finish: 2nd (18 wins 4 losses)Allegedly a shadow of the Hawks outfits who have won the past three flags yet theyre in top spot and well positioned for a top-two finish and an initial home final - but a lowly percentage is worrisome. Still boast a hard-edge midfield, a superb defence and multi-pronged attack. And their ability to win big games is legendary.GEELONG (2nd, 10-4, 139.2%)To come: Sydney (home), Fremantle (away), Adelaide (home), Western Bulldogs (home), Essendon (home), Richmond (away), Brisbane (away), Melbourne (home)Against top eight teams: 3Predicted finish: 1st (18-4)Flag favourites who have dates with three other top-eight sides but, crucially, all are at home where they rarely lose. Will bolster their already-healthy percentage in the final four rounds, which should be enough to secure top spot. Possess the vaunted midfield combination of Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield, and an experienced defence ranked third in the league for scores against.GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (3rd, 10-4, 138.6%)To come: Collingwood (home), Brisbane (away), Port Adelaide (away), Richmond (home), Gold Coast (away), West Coast (home), Fremantle (home), North Melbourne (away)Against top eight teams: 2Predicted finish: 3rd (17-5)A top-four finish and a double-chance beckons in a maiden finals campaign for the Giants. Have plenty of attacking options, are the second-highest scoring club this season, and have the second-best percentage. But the great unknown is: will their lack of finals experience count against them in September?SYDNEY (4th, 10-4, 137%)To come: Geelong (away), Hawthorn (home), Carlton (home), Fremantle (away), Port Adelaide (home), St Kilda (away), North Melbourne (away), Richmond (home)Against top eight teams: 3Predicted finish: 5th (17-5)Premiership odds: $6.00Face two telling weeks with fixtures against the Cats and then Hawthorn. And while Lance Franklin headlines their attack, it is defence which gets the job done for the Swans: they have conceded the least points of any club (average score against is 70.2 points). The second-lowest scorers in the top eight, and prospects of a top-four finish could come down to percentage.ADELAIDE (5th, 10-4, 128.6%)To come: Carlton (away), Collingwood (home), Geelong (away), Essendon (home), Brisbane (home), Fremantle (away), Port Adelaide (away), West Coast (home)Against top eight teams: 2Predicted finish: 4th (17-5)The highest-scoring side in the competition, averaging 113 points a game. And the Crows can expect a whopping percentage boost in the run home with games against Essendon and Brisbane, both at home, and Fremantle away. Meet just one top-eight side before the last round when they host West Coast in a match likely to decide their top-four status.WESTERN BULLDOGS (6th, 10-4, 118.6%)To come: Richmond (home), Gold Coast (home), St Kilda (home), Geelong (away), North Melbourne (home), Collingwood (home), Essendon (away), Fremantle (away)Against top eight teams: 2Predicted finish: 6th (17-5)Premiership odds: $10.00The Dogs top-four hopes will be decided with back-to-back challenges against Geelong and North Melbourne from round 18. Their reputation as a freewheeling side is a myth: theyre the lowest-scoring side in the top eight. But they are ranked the best defensive unit and are ranked second behind Sydney for winning contested ball.NORTH MELBOURNE (7th, 10-4, 116.6%)To come: West Coast (away), Port Adelaide (home), Collingwood (away), St Kilda (home), Western Bulldogs (away), Hawthorn (away), Sydney (away), GWS (home)Against top eight teams: 5Predicted finish: 8th (14-8)The early pacesetters have slipped with four losses in their past five matches - and all those defeats have been against fellow top-eight sides. Have the lowest percentage of any side in the eight and also have the toughest run home: they meet five fellow finalists, and their last four games before the playoffs are all against sides currently above it on the ladder.WEST COAST (8th, 9-5, 134.8%)To come: North Melbourne (home), Carlton (away), Melbourne (home), Collingwood (away), Fremantle (away), GWS (away), Hawthorn (home), Adelaide (away)Against top eight teams: 4Predicted finish: 7th (14-8)Last years beaten grand finalists may struggle to make an imprint on the finals, given they battle to win on the road - and will likely face an away elimination final in week one of the playoffs. But the Eagles do possess a blue-chip attack and are ranked second for marks inside the attacking 50m arc. Henry Thomas . The third-ranked Ivanovic, who won the event in 2008 and 10, served five aces and broke Wickmayer, also a former winner in 2009, five times. "The result looked easier than it really was," Ivanovic said. Don Shy . First off, the fans ripped the Cubbies introduction of a fuzzy new kid-friendly mascot named "Clark". . "No difference at all," chirped U.S. roommate and linemate James van Riemsdyk. "Its still the same cranky Phil. Anthony Simmons . Clarkson had been dealing with an elbow injury in early January and will be out of action for at least one week. He has three goals and five assists through 36 games with the Leafs this season. Rob Baxley . Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek defeated Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on the indoor hard-court at Belgrade Arena. The victory improved the Czech pairs impressive cup doubles record to 14-1. INVERNESS, Scotland -- Scott Hend of Australia and Felipe Aguilar of Chile made it through blustery conditions and shot 3-under 69 to share the lead Thursday after the first round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.Phil Mickelson wasnt so fortunate.The five-time major champion, a winner the last time the Scottish Open was held at Castle Stuart, struggled to make putts and took three bogeys on the par 5s on his way to a 76. His next task will be making the cut.The greens werent overly fast to where balls were rolling when you were putting, Mickelson said. They were very fair. I thought it was a fair test. A score around par would have been a good score. I felt like I gave three or four shots away on the greens that could have put me at a score around par.Only 20 players managed to break par at Castle Stuart.Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington were among those at 70, while Branden Grace of South Africa and Andy Sullivan were in the group at 71.Hend already is in the British Open next week at Royal Troon. He learned last week at the French Open that he was in the Open, exempt to the PGA Championship and that Jason Day had withdrawn from the Olympics, meaning Hend was a lock to take one of the two spots for Australia.His first task is going after his third victory of the year.Obviously, conditions were quite tough and I was a little bit scrappy with some putts not quite getting to the hole, he said. But overall, very happy.Four spots in the British Open are available this week to the leading players among the top 12 not already eligible. Onne of those players is Aguilar, though Sunday is too far away for him to think about Royal Troon.dddddddddddd.Thats in the back of my mind, he said. Im just worried about whats going to happen tomorrow. I just finished the first round and still have 75 percent of the rounds to go. If that comes along, it will be great. It will be awesome, but its not even on my mind yet.Mickelson wasnt the only American to struggle among those who came over to prepare for links golf. J.B. Holmes finally got his clubs, which did not make it over on his flight, but he had three double bogeys on his way to an 80. Patrick Reed had to play one shot off a hillside and slipped on the way down. He opened with a 75.Russell Knox made a solid start in what amounts to a home tournament for the Scot who now lives in Florida. Knox opened with a 72 and was only three shots behind after the opening round.The atmosphere was amazing, Knox said. A lot of old friends and people Ive known for a lot of years showed up, which was great.He opened with a pair of birdies, but the wind picked up in the afternoon, and it was a battle, especially at the end. The long 18th played straight into the wind, and Knox wasnt the only player who dropped a shot on the last.Its a terrible setup in my opinion -- 600 yards, straight into a 30 mph wind, he said. They could have easily moved us up a tee. I disagree with that hole today. But I hit three good shots and three bad putts. ' ' '