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Bryan brothers give U.S. a 2-1 lead in Davis Cup

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Lukas Dlouhy and Pavel Vizner, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, Saturday in doubles, giving the United States a 2-1 lead over the Czech Republic at Ostrava, Czech Republic, in the Davis Cup world group playoffs.

The Americans need one victory in two two reverse singles matches to reach the quarterfinals.

The top-ranked Bryan twins, who didn’t lose their serve, improved their Davis Cup record to 10-1 and remained unbeaten on clay at 5-0.

“We did what we could,” Vizner said. “It’s difficult to play them, they play aggressive tennis. We tried everything to beat them, but it didn’t work.”

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Andy Roddick, ranked No. 4, will play No. 12 Tomas Berdych in today’s first singles. If Roddick loses, it will come down to a match between No. 6 James Blake and Ivo Minar, who is ranked 154 places below Blake.

The leaders in the seven other first-round series, all by 2-1 scores, are: Germany (home against Croatia), Argentina (at Austria), France (home against Romania), Belgium (home against Australia), Sweden (at Belarus), Russia (at Chile) and Spain (at Switzerland).

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Lucie Safarova upset top-seeded Justine Henin, 7-6 (5), 6-4, and will play fourth-seeded Nadia Petrova in the final of the Open Gaz de France at Paris. Petrova rallied from 4-1 down in the third set to beat second-seeded Amelie Mauresmo, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7).

Henin wasted three set points in the opening set, and then led, 5-4, in the tiebreaker. But Safarova won the next three points, clinching the set when Henin hit an off-balance shot out.

Henin led, 4-2, in the second set, but Safarova fought back with two service breaks to clinch the victory.

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Serena Williams has flu and Venus Williams has a sore left wrist, forcing the sisters to pull out of upcoming tournaments.

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Serena withdrew from the Bangalore Open in India in what would have been her first tournament since she won the Australian Open. Venus will not play in the Diamond Games at Antwerp, Belgium.

WINTER SPORTS

Holcomb ties for first in World Cup bobsled

American Steven Holcomb and Ivo Rueegg of Switzerland tied for first place in a World Cup two-man bobsled event at Cesana, Italy. Holcomb and brakeman Curtis Tomasevicz finished in a combined time of 1 minute 53.43 seconds, matching the time of Rueegg and Cedric Grand.

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Olympic and world champion Andre Lange of Germany had the fastest time in the first heat in 56.14 seconds, but he was disqualified for having a sled that was a pound under the minimum weight of 375 pounds.

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The men’s downhill at the world Alpine skiing championships in Are, Sweden, was postponed due to thick fog. The race will be run today, along with the women’s downhill. Organizers made the decision following several delays caused by low visibility on the Olympia course.

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Anders Jacobsen increased his lead in the standings by winning a World Cup ski jumping event in thick fog at Willingen, Germany.

Jacobsen leaped 148.0 meters on his first jump, then followed with 139.0 to finish with 283.1 points. Michael Uhrmann was second at 276.2 and Jernej Damjan was third at 273.3.

Jacobsen has 1,087 points after 17 of 24 events. Gregor Schlierenzauer is second with 915 and Adam Malysz third with 853.

FIGURE SKATING

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Meissner rallies to win Four Continents title

Kimmie Meissner won the Four Continents women’s title at Colorado Springs, Colo., rallying from sixth place in the free skate. Meissner made up more than four points on Joannie Rochette of Canada, who finished second. Emily Hughes was third after turning in a personal-best international performance in the free skate.

Evan Lysacek, who trailed Canada’s Jeffrey Buttle by 10.68 points after the short program, turned in a personal-best score in international competition of 226.27 in the free skate late Friday night to win the men’s title. Buttle finished second.

BASEBALL

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Williams not interested in minor league deal

Outfielder Bernie Williams plans to decline the New York Yankees’ offer to attend spring training on a minor league contract, he told reporters Friday night before playing guitar at a benefit concert.

“I think if they wanted me, they would have signed me already,” Williams was quoted as saying by several New York newspapers. “The option to go to spring training and see what happened ... I don’t think at this moment it is something I want to consider.”

New York General Manager Brian Cashman said there was no room for the 38-year-old Williams on the roster.

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SOCCER

Manchester United beats Charlton, 2-0

English Premier League leader Manchester United, seeking its first title since 2003, defeated Charlton, 2-0, on goals by Park Ji-sung and Darren Fletcher.

United is six points ahead of defending champion Chelsea, which beat Middlesbrough, 3-0. United has 66 points. Chelsea is next with 60 points, 10 more than third-place Liverpool, which lost to Newcastle, 2-1.

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Forward Anthony Hamilton, a rookie from UC Irvine, scored in the 68th minute to give Chivas USA a 1-0 victory over Loyola Marymount in its exhibition opener at the Home Depot Center.

MOTOR RACING

Crocker falls short in Daytona ARCA race

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Pole-winner Erin Crocker’s bid to become the first woman to win an ARCA event and a race at Daytona International Speedway came up far short, and Bobby Gerhart drove off with his fifth victory in the season-opening race.

Crocker, who drives for NASCAR Nextel Cup team owner Ray Evernham, stayed with the leaders until about 25 laps remained in the 80-lap event. She slipped to the rear of the lead lap cars with what her team said was a deflating tire. She finished 20th, a lap behind Gerhart.

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Kawasaki’s James Stewart raced to his fifth win of the season, taking the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series event in front of 49,973 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Stewart cruised to a 17.316-second victory over Yamaha’s Chad Reed.

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MISCELLANY

Isinbayeva sets indoor pole vault record

Yelena Isinbayeva broke her own indoor mark in the women’s pole vault , clearing 16-2 inches at the Pole Vault Stars meet in Donetsk, Ukraine. The Olympic and world champion bettered her previous record of 16-1 1/4 , set at the same meet last year. She also holds the outdoor record of 16-5 1/4 .

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Brian Herman of Victoria, Texas, scored 89.25 points riding Humpz and Hornz’ Hot Rod on the second night of the Amp’d Moble Invitational professional bull riders tour event at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Added to his 88-point score from round one, Herman is on top of the leaderboard and in the hunt for his first event title since 2004.

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Discovery Channel will drop its sponsorship of former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong’s team after this season. The team will race under the Discovery banner in 2007, including the Tour de France, but must find a new sponsor for 2008.

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A funeral service for Don Hewitt, the equipment manager for the Los Angeles Rams from 1967-95, will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at Forest Lawn Covina Hills, 21300 Via Verde Dr., Covina. There will be a viewing at the mortuary the night before from 5 to 9 o’clock. Hewitt, 83, died Wednesday at his home in Huntington Beach after a long battle with emphysema.

A memorial service for Bob Klosterman, a longtime broadcasting and advertising executive who was an older brother of former Rams general manager Don Klosterman, will be held Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. at Los Amigos Country Club, 7295 Quill Dr., Downey. Klosterman, 84, died at his home in San Clemente on Feb. 1.


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