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NFL teams join overseas aid efforts

NFL teams joined Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and other sports figures around the world in assisting the disaster relief mission for the tsunami-earthquake catastrophe with a death toll that is expected to reach 150,000.

The Baltimore Ravens collected $51,475 from fans at their game against the Dolphins on Sunday, with the team adding another $25,000. About 60 volunteers carried white contribution buckets at stadium entrances, and the Red Cross said the money will be used for food, clothing, shelter, hygiene kits and mental health counseling.

Volunteers also accepted donations at Sunday's game in Seattle between the Seahawks and Falcons. The Giants, through the humanitarian aid group AmeriCares, planned to collect money before their night game against Dallas. The team partnered with that organization after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In Chiang Mai, Thailand, Sharapova and Williams' exhibition match began with a 30-second tribute to tsunami victims. Nearly 5,000 are confirmed dead in Thailand. After the match, held hundreds of miles from the country's battered beaches, the players auctioned their rackets for about $2,500 each.

The Chennai Open in India, among the ATP Tour season openers, will proceed despite several thousand dead along the coastline. Organizers believe canceling the event would hurt morale in the area. The ATP, the governing body of men's tennis, is contributing the $25,000 tournament fee to UNICEF's emergency relief fund.

"This is the fourth time I'm going to play here in Madras, but believe me it wasn't easy to come here this time," 1998 French Open champion Carlos Moya said. "A lot of feelings and emotions came into perspective."


Sharapova downs Venus

Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova beat four-time major-winner Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3 in an exhibition match in Thailand two weeks before the start of the Australian Open. Sharapova used her flat, deep groundstrokes to keep Williams off-balance in the 78-minute match in front of about 4,000. Williams was hurt by a string of unforced errors, mostly from her forehand, and she double-faulted on the final point.

HOPMAN CUP: Guillermo Coriabeat David Sanguinetti 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), then teamed with Gisela Dulko to win mixed doubles, giving Argentina a 2-1 victory over Italy in the Australian Open tuneup at Perth. Today, Australia plays Slovakia and Russia faces Germany. Tuesday, the defending champion United States, represented by Meghann Shaughnessy and James Blake, opens against the Netherlands.

WOMEN'S HARDCOURT CHAMPIONSHIPS: Flavia Pennetta upset former champion and sixth-seeded Nathalie Dechy 7-6 (9-7), 6-1 on the opening day of the Australian tournament at Gold Coast.


Russia knocks off U.S.

Anton Khudobin helped Russia set up a title-game showdown with Canada in the world junior championships, making 22 saves in a 7-2 semifinal victory over the United States in Grand Forks, N.D. Canada beat the Czech Republic 3-1 to advance to the championship a fourth straight year. Robbie Schremp and Patrick O'Sullivanscored power-play goals for the Americans. The United States, which beat Russia 5-4 in round-robin play, faces the Czech Republic in the third-place game Tuesday before the title game. Canada, seeking its first title since 1997, is 5-0 in the tournament and has outscored opponents 35-6. In relegation play, Slovakia beat Belarus 2-1.


HORSES: Apprentice jockey Jordan Charkoudian got her first career win at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, steering Sadies Lad to victory. The 26-year-old is a former exercise rider for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel.

SAILING: Australian yacht Gillawa was the last boat to finish the annual Sydney to Hobart race after almost eight days at sea. Gillawa, skippered by David Kent, was the 59th yacht to cross the finish, completing the 628-nautical-mile race in seven days, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 19 seconds, organizers said. First-place Nicorette was more than five days faster.

WINTER SPORTS: Germany's Ronny Ackermann shook off American Todd Lodwick over the final 3 kilometers of the cross-country skiing portion to win his fourth Nordic Combined World Cup event of the season. Ackermann finished in 20 minutes, 13.3 seconds _ 13.1 seconds ahead of Lodwick. The event had one ski jump and a 7.5-kilometer sprint. Ackermann leads the World Cup standings with 540 points; Lodwick is third with 320.

Compiled from Times wires.