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Belarus' Victoria Azarenka displays the trophy, after her victory against Serena Williams of the US, in the final match of the Qatar WTA Ladies Open tennis tournament, in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)

Belarus' Victoria Azarenka displays the trophy, after her victory against Serena Williams of the US, in the final match of the Qatar WTA Ladies Open tennis tournament, in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)


Azarenka beats Williams to win Qatar Open

DOHA, Qatar – Defending champion Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams, 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3, to win the Qatar Open yesterday, earning her 16th title and ending a 10-match losing streak against the American.

Azarenka will give up the No. 1 ranking to Williams today, but extended her current winning streak to 14 matches, including her second Australian Open title. More importantly, she may have turned around what has been a one-sided rivalry against Williams. Azarenka had not beaten Williams since 2009 in Miami, and had a 1-11 record against the American going into yesterday’s final.

Williams dominated the second set with her powerful serve and forehand, but Azarenka took a 5-2 lead in the third before clinching the victory.


Nadal wins first title since return from injury

SAO PAULO – Rafael Nadal beat David Nalbandian, 6-2, 6-3, in the Brazil Open final yesterday, winning his first title since returning from a seven-month layoff to treat his left knee.

Nadal thrust his arms into the air and pumped his fist after a long ball by Nalbandian made him the champion of the indoor clay-court tournament for the second time. The Spaniard also won the event in 2005.

It was Nadal’s first title since winning the French Open for the seventh time last June.


Del Potro beats Benneteau for ABN AMRO title

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands – Juan Martin Del Potro beat Julien Benneteau, 7-6 (2), 6-3, yesterday to win the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, going one better than his runner-up spot last year.

Benneteau managed what no other player at the tournament achieved – breaking Del Potro’s serve twice in the first set – but struggled to hold his own serve against the big-hitting Argentine and crumbled in the second set.

The 2009 U.S. Open winner was the runner-up in Rotterdam last year.


Merrick gets his first win at home

LOS ANGELES – John Merrick was a young face in the crowd for so many years, dreaming of one day playing at Riviera on the PGA Tour. Yesterday, he did better than that. He won it.

Merrick hit two clutch shots that led to par in a sudden-death playoff and won the Northern Trust Open when Charlie Beljan missed a 5-foot par putt on the second extra hole. It was the first PGA Tour win for Merrick, who went to school at UCLA.

Merrick closed with a 69. Beljan, famous for his anxiety attack when he won at Disney last year, holed an 18-foot birdie on the 18th hole for a 67.


Langer wins ACE Group Classic on Champions Tour

NAPLES, Fla. – Bernhard Langer shot a final-round 72 and won his second ACE Group Classic title in three years by one stroke yesterday.

Langer two-putted from 50 feet on the 18th for par to finish at 12-under 204, ahead of Jay Don Blake at TwinEagles Club’s Talon Course.

Langer, who won this tournament in 2011 and was runner-up last year, survived three bogeys and a double bogey. It was his 17th victory on the Champions Tour, and the seventh year he has won at least one tournament.

Blake, who had four birdies on the front nine, took the lead briefly with a birdie on the par-5 13th to get to 12 under. But Langer also birdied the hole, and added another on No. 14 to take the lead again.


Shin wins Australian Women’s Open

CANBERRA, Australia – South Korea’s Jiyai Shin won the Australian Women’s Golf Open by two shots yesterday, finishing with a 1-under 72 to beat world No. 1 Yani Tseng after being tied for the overnight lead with teenage star Lydia Ko.

Shin mixed three birdies with two bogeys in a final round battle with Ko and Tseng of Taiwan, and added the Australian title to her two British Opens among 37 professional victories.

Ko’s share of the lead evaporated quickly when she began the final day with a double bogey and bogey. However, the 15-year-old who was born in South Korea and is based in New Zealand fought back to reclaim the joint lead after 13 holes before Shin dismissed the challenge.

Alpine skiing

Hirscher wins worlds slalom at home in Austria

SCHLADMING, Austria – Overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher won the men’s slalom title on the last day of the skiing world championships for his first individual gold at a major event.

Hirscher held onto his first-run lead to finish in a combined time of 1 minute, 51.03 seconds.

Felix Neureuther of Germany was 0.41 seconds back in second. Mario Matt of Austria took third, 0.65 behind.

Three-time champion Ted Ligety of the United States skied out in the first run.

Nordic skiing

Olsson, Johaug win cross-country World Cup races

DAVOS, Switzerland – Johan Olsson of Sweden and Therese Johaug of Norway won classical-style races yesterday in the last cross-country World Cup event before the start of the world championships.

Olsson won the men’s race in 34 minutes, 47.5 seconds, beating overall World Cup leader Dario Cologna of Switzerland by 11.8 seconds. Alexander Legkov of Russia was third, 13.9 seconds back. Andover’s Kris Freeman finished about two minutes back in 50th place.

In the women’s race, Johaug clocked 26:16.7 to beat runaway overall leader Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland by 8.9 seconds. Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway was 13.4 back in third.

Triple Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen of Norway pulled out of the race to rest ahead of the worlds in Val di Fiemme, Italy, which start Thursday.

Ski jumping

Norway wins World Cup team title

OBERSTDORF, Germany – Anders Jacobsen helped Norway win a ski jump World Cup team event yesterday to secure first place in the overall team tour title.

Jacobsen soared 225 yards and then 232 for the day’s longest jump as he and teammates Tom Hilde, Anders Bardal and Andreas Stjernen won both rounds to collect 1,577.1 points.

The Austrian team of Stefan Kraft, Wolfgang Loitzl, Martin Koch and Gregor Schlierenzauer finished second with 1,529.3 points.

Slovenia had been leading the team standings before the fifth and final event of the season but could only manage third after jumps from Jurij Tepes, Robert Kranjec, Jaka Hvala and Peter Prevc left the team with 1,523.6 points.

Norway finished with 3,834.3 points overall, ahead of Slovenia at 3,825.6 and Austria at 3,783.5.

Freestyle skiing

China dominates aerials World Cup in Sochi

SOCHI, Russia – Qi Guangpu claimed his first World Cup victory in the men’s freestyle skiing aerials event yesterday, while compatriot Xu Mengtao captured her fifth victory this season to secure the women’s overall title with one event left.

The men’s second final was marred by heavy snowfall and dense fog at the 2014 Sochi Olympics venue of Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. All four finalists fell when they tried to land after performing their jumps. Qi scored 99.00 points. He was followed by countryman Liu Zhongqing with 95.02 and Denis Osipau of Belarus with 90.18.

Xu scored 106.02 points. Laura Peel of Australia had 82.07, while Tanja Schaerer of Switzerland was third with 74.82 points.


Zubkov wins 4-man World Cup overall title

SOCHI, Russia – Alexandr Zubkov of Russia retained the four-man bobsled overall title yesterday, while Oskars Melbardis claimed his first World Cup victory by driving Latvia to the win in the final race of the season.

Melbardis, Daumants Drieskens, Arvis Vikaste and Arvis Dambis had a two-run time of 1 minute, 52.29 seconds to edge Thomas Florschuetz’s German team by 0.02 seconds.

Zubkov was tied for third with Russia’s Alexander Kasyanov, 0.14 seconds behind the winner at Sanki Sliding Centre, the venue for next year’s Sochi Olympics.

Zubkov, who also won back-to-back overall titles in 2005-06, won five races this season to total 1,727 points from eight events. Melbardis was second with 1,625, followed by Gemany’s Manuel Machata with 1,594 points.


Kramer, Wust win allround world titles

HAMAR, Norway – Dutch speedskater Sven Kramer became the first man to win six allround world championships.

Kramer secured his sixth victory yesterday by taking the final 10,000-meter race, clocking 13 minutes, 1.86 seconds to beat Belgium’s Bart Swings and Havard Bokko of Norway.

Bokko, Kramer’s main rival, won the opening 1,500 race in 1:46.34, beating Poland’s Zbigniew Brodka and Swings. But Kramer was only 0.41 seconds back in fourth to keep an edge in the overall standings and finished with 149.228 points. Bokko was second with 149.447 and Swings third with 149.800.

Ireen Wust of the Netherlands won both the 1,500 and 5,000 races yesterday to secure her fourth women’s title with 161.530 points. Countrywoman Diane Valkenburg was second with 163.120 points and Russia’s Yekaterina Shikhova was third with 163.444.


Galaxy says Donovan to rejoin team in late March

CARSON, Calif. – The Los Angeles Galaxy said yesterday that Landon Donovan will rejoin the team during the final week of March after a break of almost four months.

The 30-year-old midfielder and forward, a veteran of three World Cups with the United States, had said last fall he was uncertain whether he wanted to continue playing.

Donovan has a team-record 92 goals during eight seasons with the Galaxy, who have won the last two Major League Soccer titles. He has a record 49 goals in 144 appearances for the United States.

Los Angeles opens its MLS title defense when it hosts Chicago on March 3, and then plays four days later at Costa Rica’s Herediano in the first leg of the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals.

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