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Sports in brief

Tennis

Virus derails Nadal from Aussie Open

BARCELONA, Spain — Just when Rafael Nadal had recovered from a knee injury, a stomach virus has delayed his return to tennis by a couple of months.

Nadal announced Friday that he will miss next month's Australian Open and probably won't play again until the end of February. The Spaniard said he needs time to recover from the virus that already prevented him from coming back this week at Abu Dhabi.

Nadal has been sidelined since June with a knee injury, which forced him to miss the Olympics and U.S. Open. He had planned to rejoin the ATP tour at the Qatar Open before the Jan. 14-27 Australian Open.

While he is expected to recover from the virus in time for the year's first Grand Slam event, Nadal said he wouldn't have the proper preparation for a five-set event.

"I always said that my return to competition will be when I am in the right conditions to play, and after all this time away from the courts I'd rather not accelerate the comeback and prefer to do things well," said the former No. 1, who hopes to return at Acapulco, Mexico on Feb. 27.

More Tennis: Top-ranked Novak Djokovic routed David Ferrer 6-0, 6-3 to reach the final of the World Tennis Championship exhibition in the United Arab Emirates. He next faces Nicolas Almagro, who beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

Ice Hockey

Russia tops U.S. at world juniors

Lightning defenseman prospect Nikita Nesterov assisted on Russia's first goal and Andrei Makarov made 41 saves in a 2-1 victory over the United States at the world junior championships in Ufa, Russia.

Vladimir Tkachyov scored the winner four minutes into the third and Russia withstood a late two-man advantage for the Americans, who fell to third in Group B.

U.S. goalie John Gibson had 28 saves, including a one-on-one against Lightning forward prospect Nikita Kucherov.

In other games, Group A leader Sweden rallied past Switzerland 3-2 on Victor Rask's winner in a penalty shootout. Also, Canada, the Group B leader, beat Slovakia 6-3, and the Czech Republic topped Finland 2-1.

Soccer

Man U. manager defends, volleys

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson unleashed a verbal tirade against Newcastle and its coach, Alan Pardew, while defending himself against growing condemnation of his outburst at an English Premier League referee.

Pardew said he was surprised Ferguson escaped punishment for approaching referee Mike Dean during a 4-3 win over Newcastle.

Ferguson claims he was "demonstrative but … not out of order" and accused Pardew of hypocrisy, as the Newcastle manager served a two-match ban this season for pushing an assistant referee.

"Alan Pardew is the worst at haranguing referees," Ferguson said.

ET CETERA

Speed skating: Heather Richardson won the women's 500 meters with the fastest time in the world this year (37.34 seconds) at the U.S. Long Track Championships in Kearns, Utah.

Times wires

Sports in brief 12/28/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 28, 2012 9:05pm]

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