Sports in brief

TENNIS

NADAL RETURNS, FOCUSES ON PLAY

VINA DEL MAR, Chile — Rafael Nadal wants to stop talking about the aching left knee that kept him away from the ATP Tour for just over seven months until his doubles victory Tuesday with Juan Monaco on clay court.

Nadal had not played since June 28 when he was upset in the second round of Wimbledon by qualifier Lukas Rosol.

Nadal and Monaco won easily in just over an hour at the VTR Open, defeating Czechs Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Dlouhy 6-3, 6-2. Nadal's return to singles play comes today against Argentine Federico Delbonis.

The former No. 1-ranked Nadal addressed the question for several minutes, then said he wanted to drop the subject.

"The knee — I said it when I got here. I would prefer not to keep talking about the topic," Nadal said. "At the end of the day the doctors have said it's okay. There is no risk of making it worse. My knee keeps hurting. But the fact I am playing here is a thing of joy."

SOCCER

U.S. starts final 10 qualifying games

The United States opens the final round of World Cup qualifying today at Honduras without all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan, 30, who is taking a break from soccer after leading Los Angeles to its second straight MLS title last fall. The Americans, seeking their seventh straight World Cup berth, play three of their first four qualifiers on the road. The top three teams out of six remaining in CONCACAF — 10 games per team, each facing the other home-and-home — qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The fourth-place team faces the Oceania winner for another berth.

MATCH FIXING: Revelations that a Singapore-based crime syndicate has been heavily involved in fixing matches put extra pressure on authorities to take action against the alleged ringleader. Singaporean businessman Dan Tan is on Italy's wanted list and has been implicated in various investigations into corruption, including Monday's revelations in The Hague by the Europol police agency. He has avoided arrest in his homeland.

OLYMPICS

Winter Games to air even before ceremony

Prime-time television coverage of the Winter Games will start a day early next year in Sochi, Russia. NBC will air events the night before the opening ceremony, a first for a U.S. broadcaster. Team figure skating, women's freestyle moguls and slopestyle snowboarding — U.S. star Shaun White's event — will air Feb. 6, 2014. With 12 new events, including team figure skating and slopestyle, the International Olympic Committee expanded the length of the games.

AUTOS

Darlington test fast for new NASCAR car

Carl Edwards and several other Sprint Cup stars gave the new, faster Gen-6 car a thumbs-up after a Goodyear tire test at Darlington Raceway. Edwards said the digital speedometer on his Ford Fusion hit 193 mph right before Turn 3, a typically unheard of speed at the tricky egg-shaped oval.

INDYCAR: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing signed James Jakes and will pair him with Graham Rahal in a two-car team. Jakes drove for Dale Coyne the past two years.

ET CETERA

SPEED SKATING: American short-track star Katherine Reutter, a two-time Olympic medalist, announced her retirement at age 24, citing the toll training was taking.

WNBA: Tamika Catchings, the 2011 MVP and three-time Olympic gold medalist, re-signed on a multi-year deal with defending champion Indiana. … Los Angeles signed guard Lindsey Harding.

SKIING: Tina Maze became the first Slovenian to win world championship gold in a speed event, taking the opening women's super-G in Schladming, Austria in a race overshadowed by a crash involving American Lindsey Vonn (see 1C).

Times wires

Sports in brief 02/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 9:42pm]

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