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Federer Defeats Ljubicic for Third Time This Year

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Top-ranked Roger Federer won his third consecutive Dubai Open on Sunday, defeating Ivan Ljubicic, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3, in the United Arab Emirates.

It was the third time this year Federer has defeated Ljubicic in a title match.

Federer extended his ATP record streak of finals wins to 16, including three this year. The Swiss star won last month in Doha, Qatar, and last weekend in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

“I hope we can keep this rivalry going,” Federer said. “It is good for Ivan, good to see a different face on the other side of the net.”

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Federer improved his record to 20-1 this year. He has won 36 of his last 37 matches.

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Unseeded Wayne Arthurs became the oldest first-time winner since the ATP Tour was formed in 1990, beating third-seeded Mario Ancic, 7-5, 6-3, in the Tennis Channel Open at Scottsdale, Ariz.

The 33-year-old left-hander, in his 128th ATP Tour-level tournament, dominated his 20-year-old opponent.

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Arthurs, who turns 34 on March 17, is the second-oldest player on the ATP Tour behind 34-year-old Andre Agassi.

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Top-seeded Flavia Pennetta overcame leg problems and humid conditions to outlast Ludmila Cervanova, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, and win the Mexican Open at Acapulco.

Winter Sports

Croatia’s Janica Kostelic won the only women’s World Cup combined of the season, mastering the new course for next year’s Olympics and ending Anja Paerson’s two-race winning streak.

Kostelic recorded the fastest time in the morning downhill and then cruised to victory in the single slalom run for a combined time of 2 minutes 19.35 seconds at San Sicario, Italy.

Paerson, the Swede who won Friday’s super giant slalom and secured her first downhill victory Saturday, finished 0.43 seconds behind.

Canada’s Emily Brydon took third place in the day’s biggest surprise. Previously known mostly as a speed specialist, she was 1.32 back for the second top-three finish of her career.

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Italy’s Giorgio Rocca won a World Cup slalom in which American Bode Miller crashed out of yet another race to further diminish his lead in the overall standings.

Austria’s Benjamin Raich, Miller’s main rival, was third, and is now only 31 points behind the American.

Rocca charged masterfully on the lower section of the course to finish in 1:34.95 at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

The top American was Ted Ligety in 10th place.

Miller made another woeful showing in the slalom, straddling a gate at the top of the hill. It was the eighth slalom he had failed to finish this season.

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Apolo Ohno and Hyo Jung Kim each won two races to complete sweeps in the U.S. National Short Track Speedskating Championships at West Allis, Wis.

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Ohno, from Seattle, won his fifth consecutive national title and seventh overall, and the 16-year-old Kim of Fullerton took her first.

Ohno won the 1,000 meters in 1:31.04 and the 3,000 in 5:15.208. Kim, who moved to the United States from South Korea in early 2004, won the 1,000 in 1:38.586 and the 3,000 in 6.01.691.

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Germany’s Andre Lange won his third consecutive world championship in the four-man bobsled at Calgary, Canada, the first to accomplish the feat.

Lange won all four heats -- twice breaking the track record -- to finish with a four-run total of 3:35.53.

Miscellany

A day after dealing the No. 1-ranked college baseball team its first loss of the season, Pepperdine found itself with an opportunity to make another statement against Tulane.

But the Green Wave showed why it sits atop the Baseball America top 25 poll as it rallied from a five-run deficit, with Brad Emaus’ sixth-inning grand slam the decisive blow in a 7-6 victory at Pepperdine.

Tulane (9-1) claimed the rubber game of the three-game series after being limited to four hits Saturday in a 5-2 defeat.

“They definitely capitalized on our mistakes, and that’s what the No. 1 team in the country is going to do,” said Pepperdine Coach Steve Rodriguez, whose team fell to 6-6. “But I think we realized that if that’s the No. 1 team in the country, then I like our chances this year.”

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Brian Griese agreed to restructure his contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, helping the team alleviate its salary-cap problems.

The Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times reported the quarterback’s deal is worth $32 million over five years.

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Angela Daigle matched the fastest 60-meter dash time of the year, winning the event in 7.09 seconds in the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships at Boston.

The 28-year-old Daigle, of Carson, easily beat her previous best of 7.24 and picked up a $25,000 bonus with the win.

Olympic gold medalist Dee Dee Trotter won her first national title in the women’s 400 in 52.01.

Bershawn Jackson won his first national title in the men’s 400, finishing in 46.05.

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Defending NHRA champions Tony Schumacher and John Force raced to victories in the Checker Schuck’s Kragen Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chadler, Ariz.

Schumacher earned his 22nd career top fuel victory and regained the season points lead, beating Morgan Lucas in the final with a quarter-mile run of 4.485 seconds at a top speed of 329.50 mph in the U.S. Army dragster.

Force earned his first funny car victory of the season, beating Ron Capps in 4.802 seconds at 344.12 mph in a Ford Mustang.


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