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AFTER LOSS, SAFIN MULLS RETIREMENT

Tennis

Two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin is considering retirement after a 6-0, 7-6 (7-4) loss to Juan Monaco in the first round of the Paris Masters on Monday.

Safin, a former top-ranked player and a three-time champion at this tournament, wants a long break before deciding.

"I don't know what happened. Just couldn't find my rhythm and couldn't find the game," said the Russian, 28. "I need to think everything through. I have no pressure, and I have nothing to prove or show. I just want to be comfortable with my decision, whatever I will take."

Safin managed only 12 points in the first set and trailed 2-0 in the second after just 24 minutes. In the first service game of the second set, Safin had four double faults before breaking back to 2-2.

"I need to sit down and relax and just enjoy my life without any tennis (for) a couple of months and then I will see," Safin said. "If I feel like I want to continue to play, I will. If not, it will be over."

Safin won the U.S. Open in 2000 and the Australian Open in 2005, his last tour title.

Meanwhile, former champion Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic advanced to the second round, easing past American Robby Ginepri 6-4, 7-5. Croatian Marin Cilic downed Italian Andreas Seppi 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, and German Nicolas Kiefer beat big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-5.

Autos

Kodak dumping NASCAR sponsorship

Eastman Kodak Co. is ending its 22-year sponsorship in NASCAR and putting more sports marketing dollars into golf.

And the photography pioneer, which said the realignment fits better with an effort to highlight its brand digitally, will end a four-year sponsorship of Penske Racing at the end of the year.

Since signing with NASCAR in 1986, Kodak-sponsored cars have won the Daytona 500 four times - with Ryan Newman's car this year, Sterling Marlin's in 1994 and 1995 and Ernie Irvan's in 1991.

Gymnastics

Athletes will need licenses to compete

Beginning Jan. 1, all junior and senior gymnasts who represent their countries at most international meets will need a license from the International Gymnastics Federation. The licenses will include gymnasts' name, sex, country and date of birth and be their proof of age for their career.

The licensing system, approved by the FIG's executive committee this month, was planned before the Beijing Olympics. But the plan received more attention after questions were raised about the ages of China's gold medal women's team.

Et cetera

Golf: American Brandt Snedeker tied a course record with 6-under 66 to take a four-shot lead over three competitors after the first round of the Kiwi Challenge in Wellington, New Zealand. The other golfers: compatriots Anthony Kim (70) and Hunter Mahan (71) and Australian Adam Scott (73).

Horses: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission postponed possible action on trainer Rick Dutrow over a drug test on one of his horses because officials want more information.

Soccer: Major League Soccer opens its playoffs Thursday when the Chicago Fire visits the New England Revolution. The first round features a home-and-home, aggregate-goal format. Other first-round matchups: Houston Dynamo at New York Red Bulls, Chivas USA at Real Salt Lake and Columbus at Kansas City on Saturday.

Swimming: Two-time Olympic gold medalist Grant Hackett, 28, retired after almost a decade of dominance at 1,500 meters. He holds the 1,500-meter record and the world record in the 800.

Obituary:Charles Dubin, 87, the Canadian judge who led a doping inquiry after Ben Johnson's ouster from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, died of pneumonia, said Torys LLP, the Toronto law firm where he worked.

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