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FEDERER FALLS AT ITALIAN OPEN

Tennis

ROME - Roger Federer's preparation for this month's French Open hit a roadblock Thursday with a 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4) loss to Richard Gasquet in the third round of the Italian Open.

Gasquet, who is ranked 16th in the world and faces Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the second and took advantage of Federer's 30 unforced errors.

"I definitely feel I should never have lost this match," said Federer, ranked No. 3. "I just couldn't come up with the shots."

Meanwhile, No. 2 Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 36 (34 this year) 6-4, 6-1 over Stanislas Wawrinka. Djokovic, who is nine wins from breaking John McEnroe's record for best start, faces No. 5 Robin Soderling. Djokovic can become No. 1 in the world if he wins this tournament and No. 1Rafael Nadal fails to reach the semifinals.

Nadal advanced to the quarters 6-4, 6-2 over Feliciano Lopez and faces Marin Cilic. The start of the match was delayed by about 20 minutes because Nadal, battling the flu, considered withdrawing.

Women:Francesca Schiavone rallied past Daniela Hantuchova 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals in Rome. Schiavone, No. 5 in the world, seeks to become the first Italian to win the tournament since Raffaella Reggi in 1985. She faces No. 7 Samantha Stosur, whom she beat in last year's French Open final.

Safina out: Saying, "I don't want to torture myself any longer," Dinara Safina will take an indefinite break because of chronic back pain. Safina, 25, was ranked No. 1 in the world in April 2009 but has fallen to 68th.

Soccer

FIFA official denies taking bribe

Jacques Anouma, a FIFA executive committee member, called allegations he took money to vote for Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup "false and malicious." Britain's Sunday Times newspaper accused Anouma and Issa Hayatouof taking $1.5 million from Qatar. The Confederation of African Football released the statement, adding Anouma, Ivory Coast's federation president, "is welcoming an inquiry" from FIFA and reserves the right to take legal action. Hayatou, the CAF president, denied the allegation Wednesday.

Women: The South Florida franchise of Women's Professional Soccer was docked a point in the standings and a third-round pick for not meeting league standards. Three weeks ago, the team, which is 3-0, was fined for failing to provide game footage to other teams, not maintaining a website and its stadium (at Florida Atlantic) not having a regulation-sized field or sufficient capacity. When the issues weren't remedied two weeks ago, it was fined and docked a fourth-round pick. The latest penalties come because the team, called magicJack because its owner founded the company, still hasn't remedied them.

Et cetera

Hockey: The Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk scored with 7:41 left to lift Russia past Canada 2-1 at the world championships in Slovakia. It's the second straight year Canada lost in the quarterfinals. Today, Russia plays Finland, which beat Norway 4-1, and the Czech Republic meets Sweden.

Basketball: U.S. star Diana Taurasi signed with Galatasaray of the Turkish league. Taurasi, who also plays for Phoenix of the WNBA, spent last season with Fenerbahce of the Turkish league, but her contract was terminated after testing positive for a banned stimulant. She was provisionally suspended but cleared after the lab that did the test retracted its report.

Times wires

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