Ankle Injury Puts Agassi Out of Australian Open

From Times Wire Reports

Andre Agassi on Wednesday pulled out of the Australian Open because of an ankle injury.

Agassi, 35, sprained his left ankle playing racquetball Oct. 12, and aggravated the injury in December at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, where he was upset in the first round.

The Australian Open begins Jan. 16. Agassi also withdrew from next week's Kooyong exhibition event.

"I attempted to play in Shanghai with an injury that was not fully healed, and it set me back substantially," Agassi said in a statement. "I made a commitment to myself not to play unless I can be at my absolute best."

Agassi said he plans to return when the ankle is fully healed.

Martina Hingis won her third consecutive match since returning from a three-year retirement, beating Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain 6-2, 4-6, 6-0, today in the quarterfinals of the Australian women's hardcourt championships at Gold Coast.

Top-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland defeated Fabrice Santoro of France, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5), to reach the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open at Doha.

Neither player broke serve, but Federer used his powerful serve to win in the tiebreakers.

Tommy Haas defeated Tim Henman of Britain, 6-2, 7-6 (5).

Serena Williams lost to Elena Dementieva of Russia, 6-3, 6-1, and Lindsay Davenport defeated Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-2, in the Champions Challenge exhibition tournament at Hong Kong.

Second-seeded Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic defeated Prakash Amritraj of India, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4, and Carlos Moya of Spain defeated Justin Gimelstob, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, to reach the quarterfinals of the Chennai Open at Madras, India.

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Gisela Dulko teamed with Gaston Gaudio to defeat Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Nicolas Kiefer, 7-5, 6-0, in mixed doubles and give Argentina a 2-1 victory over Germany in a round-robin match of the Hopman Cup at Perth, Australia.

Russia defeated Sweden, 2-1, with Svetlana Kuznetsova and Yuri Schukin winning the mixed doubles match, 6-3, 7-5.

Rafael Nadal of Spain has pulled out of next week's Sydney International because of a foot injury, and his status is uncertain for the Australian Open.

WINTER SPORTS

U.S. Skeleton Coach

Won't Travel With Team

Tim Nardiello, the suspended U.S. skeleton coach, will not be allowed to travel with the team for World Cup races in Germany while sexual harassment allegations against him are investigated, the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation's board of directors ruled.

Nardiello's lawyer said his client's quest to be immediately reinstated is headed to court.

BASEBALL

Prior Voids Last Year

of Contract With Cubs

Pitcher Mark Prior voided the final year of his contract with the Chicago Cubs, making him eligible for salary arbitration.

The right-hander's agent, John Boggs, said Prior notified the Cubs of his decision Nov. 29.

Prior's contract called for a $2.75-million salary next season.

Jeromy Burnitz finalized his one-year, $6.7-million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates after taking a physical, angering the Baltimore Orioles, who said the outfielder's agent had backed out of a two-year, $12-million deal agreed upon last week.

Second baseman Bret Boone, 36, agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Mets. ... Outfielder Jeff Conine's one-year, $1.7-million contract was finalized by the Orioles.... Pitcher Shawn Estes and the San Diego Padres reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical.... The Chicago White Sox and utility player Rob Mackowiak agreed on a two-year, $5.3-million contract.... Milwaukee and reliever Dan Kolb agreed on a one-year, $2-million deal.

Major League Baseball filed for mediation against the District of Columbia after the city failed to approve a lease for the Washington Nationals' new ballpark by a Dec. 31 deadline.

SOCCER

U.S. Women's Players

Get New Labor Contract

Players on the U.S. women's team could earn $200,000 each in years they win the Olympics or World Cup under a just-finalized labor contract.

The deal calls for the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay a minimum of $1.28 million annually to 20 players who would be in residency, with at least 14 guaranteed salaries of $70,000, and at least six guaranteed at $50,000.

Aldreo Moreno kicked in a short goal early in the second half to give Necaxa a 1-0 win over Cruz Azul at Houston. Later, Ramon Morales scored twice and Chivas de Guadalajara rallied to beat Tigres, 5-3. The matches were part of the InterLiga 2006 round-robin qualifying tournament to decide the two automatic berths for Mexican clubs in the Copa Libertadores.

Veteran Romario, who scored a league-high 22 goals in last season's Brazilian Championship, said he would stay with Vasco da Gama through the 2006 season.

MISCELLANY

Elliott to Drive Again

in the Daytona 500

Two-time Daytona 500 champion Bill Elliott will drive in the race this year in a car fielded by MB2 Motorsports. Elliott last drove in the event in 2003, finishing 34th. He won in 1985 and 1987.

Former Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson, who pleaded guilty last year to murder in the shooting of teammate Patrick Dennehy, is seeking permission to appeal his 35-year prison sentence.

Matt Sagehorn of Long Beach Wilson, who had 58 goals and 35 assists this season, has been selected The Times' boys' water polo player of the year.

Danzig, a 29-year-old son of the great Northern Dancer who grew up to be an internationally influential sire, was euthanized Tuesday at Lexington, Ky., because of the infirmities of old age.

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