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wawrinka gets last semifinal spot

LONDON — Stan Wawrinka got the last semifinal spot at the ATP finals by beating Andy Murray 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 Friday to wrap up the group stage at the season-ending tournament.

Murray led 4-2 in the first-set tiebreaker then lost the next five points and was broken in the first game of the second to put Wawrinka in control.

Wawrinka plays Roger Federer today. Rafael Nadal faces Novak Djokovic in the other semifinal. Nadal beat David Ferrer 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-4 earlier to finish the group stage unbeaten.

"He's playing really well," Wawrinka said of Federer. "I had a tough match now. … I also feel quite tired. I'm going to be focused on that, try to rest, try to recover."

Murray's early exit gives him a bit more rest ahead of next weekend's Davis Cup final against Belgium on clay, but the Briton said that hasn't been on his mind in London.

Nadal is more concerned with maintaining his late-season resurgence after struggling for most of the year. "Three straight wins against top-eight players, that's great news for me," he said. "Let's see (today) what's going to happen."


Beckenbauer says disputed contract was for aid, not bribe

Former German great Franz Beckenbauer says a contract he signed with Jack Warner, a former high-ranking official of the sport's governing body (FIFA), ahead of the vote to decide the host of the 2006 World Cup was an aid package.

Speaking publicly for the first time about corruption allegations shaking the German federation, Beckenbauer told the Sueddeutsche newspaper that other members of FIFA's executive committee had also asked for favors.

"Looking at it from today's point of view, many things look funny and you wouldn't do it like that today. But we simply meant well at the time," Beckenbauer said.

The Sueddeutsche released excerpts of the interview ahead of its publication in the weekend edition.

Beckenbauer was the president of Germany's bidding committee and signed the contract shortly before the vote for the host in 2000, which Germany won by one vote over South Africa. The federation says it could have been a bribery attempt, though the contract may have never been implemented.

Warner resigned in 2011 and has been banned from the sport for life. He is wanted on corruption charges in the United States.

Spain: After almost two months on the sideline, Lionel Messi could be ready to return to the field for Barcelona, perhaps today for a Clasico showdown at Real Madrid. Messi has not played since tearing a knee ligament less than 10 minutes into a league game Sept. 26. Since the injury, Barcelona is 5-1 in the Spanish league and 3-0 in the Champions League.


DOPING: International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach proposed an overhaul of the World Anti-Doping Agency's operations, including the creation of independent testing and professional intelligence-gathering units to avoid the kind of scandals that have embroiled Russia and track and field. In a radical change, Bach also recommended that all doping sanctions be handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, rather than by individual sports bodies or the world agency. A World Anti-Doping Agency report this month said Russian athletes and officials were involved in "extensive" use of performance-enhancing drugs, obstructed doping tests and helped cover up drug use. Russia was provisionally suspended from track and field by the sport's world governing body. … The Russian Olympic committee issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to punish athletes, coaches and officials involved in doping to ensure Russia can return to track and field competition at next year's Olympics. The Russian committee said it planned to expel former athletics federation president Valentin Balakhnichev from its executive body.

Times wires

Sports in brief 11/20/15 [Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2015 10:25pm]
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