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Sports in brief


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No. 1 Azarenka Exits with toe Issue

BRISBANE, Australia — Top-ranked women's player Victoria Azarenka withdrew from her Brisbane International semifinal Friday against Serena Williams with an infected right big toe, citing concerns about aggravating the injury so close to the start of the Australian Open, the year's first major.

"I tried everything. We tried medication with taping, and I was playing through the pain for quite a while," said Azarenka, whose toe was infected after a pedicure about 10 days ago. She will head to Melbourne and try to heal, then prepare for the Jan. 14 start of the Aussie Open.

Williams advanced to the Brisbane final against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat Lesia Tsurenko 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

On the men's side, Andy Murray advanced to the semifinals, where he faces Kei Nishikori. The other semifinal features Marcos Baghdatis against Grigor Dimitrov.

Qatar Open: Nikolay Davydenko and Richard Gasquet advanced to the final, both winning in straight sets; Davydenko over top seed David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3, and Gasquet over Daniel Brands 7-5, 7-5.

Hopman Cup: Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic won their singles matches over Germany to lead Serbia into today's final in Perth, Australia. The Serbs face Spain.


American teen moves atop Cup slalom list

Seventeen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin captured a slalom in Croatia by a 1.19-second margin to become the first American woman to win two World Cup races before turning 18.

Shiffrin had the fastest time in both runs Friday after posting her first career win last month.

She leads the Cup slalom standings and even overtook Lindsey Vonn (426-414) as the top American in the overall standings. Vonn resumed training Thursday after a month off.


MLS commish invites FIFA critic to match

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, responding to FIFA president Sepp Blatter's statement that MLS is not yet a legitimate pro league in the United States, invited Blatter to attend a match.

"If he were to come to a game — whether it be in Seattle, Portland, Toronto, L.A., Philadelphia, New York or any of our MLS markets — I think he would be very pleasantly surprised to see the passion that exists in our fan base and the high level of soccer IQ that exists," Garber said.

Blatter has never attended an MLS match, the New York Times reported.

Et cetera

Hockey: The United States, which ousted Canada on Thursday, plays defending champion Sweden in today's final of the junior world championships in Ufa, Russia (8 a.m., NHL Network).

Times wires

Sports in brief 01/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 10:02pm]
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