Davydenko advances, hopes to avoid Federer

staff and wire reports

Andy Murray will have an avid fan when he plays Roger Federer at the Masters Cup today at Shanghai, China.

Nikolay Davydenko faces the winner in the semifinals, and he’s dreading the prospect that it could be Federer -- for good reason. He’s 0-12 against the second-ranked Swiss star, and 3-3 against Murray.

“Against Murray, I have more chance,” Davydenko said after beating Juan Martin del Potro, 6-3, 6-2, Thursday to reach the semifinals.

Federer, who lost his opening match to France’s Gilles Simon, has to win to continue pursuit of his fifth Masters Cup title.


If Federer loses, Simon advances even if he loses to 26th-ranked Radek Stepanek, who replaced Andy Roddick when the American pulled out with a sprained ankle. Simon got into the elite field only because top-ranked Rafael Nadal withdrew before the tournament began.

Murray is in the semis no matter what but vowed he won’t try to take it easy to save energy. He would prefer to have Federer out of the competition. After all, the Swiss star lost his first match last year and still won the season-ending tournament, and Murray doesn’t want to lose momentum.

Davydenko’s defense and relentless groundstrokes were the difference against Del Potro.

Earlier, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Novak Djokovic, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1. Djokovic had already been assured of a spot in the semis. Tsonga had been eliminated.



Galaxy’s Franklin named top rookie

Galaxy defender Sean Franklin was selected MLS rookie of the year.

The 23-year-old from Palmdale started 26 games for the Galaxy and played 2,385 minutes, second-highest on the club.

The No. 4 pick in the MLS draft, Franklin is the team’s first winner of the award.

The media, MLS players, coaches and general managers voted on the award.


Chad Marshall and Eddie Gaven led the Columbus Crew to its first MLS Cup final, scoring second-half goals in the 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire in the semifinals at Columbus. In the Nov. 23 final at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Columbus will face the winner of Saturday’s match between New York and Real Salt Lake. . . . Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy is expected to miss the rest of the Spanish league season after having knee surgery.



Seniors Janessa Currier and Ashley Nick scored goals to lead USC’s women’s soccer team to a 2-0 victory over Boston University in the first round of the NCAA playoffs at Provo, Utah. The defending national champions play Brigham Young in the second round Saturday. . . . UCLA’s women’s senior midfielder Christina DiMartino was named the Pacific 10 Conference player of the year.


Host Ochoa is five shots back

Lorena Ochoa struggled in the first round in her own Lorena Ochoa Invitational, shooting a one-over 73 on her home course to drop five strokes behind Annika Sorenstam and the other leaders at Guadalajara.

LPGA Championship winner Yani Tseng, No. 2 in the world behind Ochoa and ahead of Sorenstam, topped the leaderboard at 68 along with Sorenstam, Angela Stanford, Karen Stupples, Seon Hwa Lee, Nicole Castrale, Hee-Won Han and Brittany Lang.

Ochoa has two victories -- the 2006 and 2008 Corona Championship -- in nine LPGA tour starts in Mexico. She has seven victories in 20 tour starts this year and leads the money list with $2,738,888.



Ernie Els will take a one-stroke lead into today’s second round of the rain-delayed Singapore Open after completing his first round early this morning.

The 39-year-old Els had two birdies in his last four holes for a five-under-par 66 that lifted him past local pro Lam Chih Bing atop the leaderboard at the $5-million event.

Phil Mickelson shot a two-over 73.


Holyfield, Valuev to meet for title

Former champion Evander Holyfield, 46, will challenge 7-foot Russian Nikolai Valuev for the WBA heavyweight title on Dec. 20 at Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland. Holyfield (42-9-2, 27 KOs) hasn’t fought since losing a one-sided decision to then-WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov more than a year ago. Holyfield is winless in his last four title fights since beating John Ruiz for the vacant WBA belt in October 2000. . . . Driver Helio Castroneves’ attorneys and employer asked a judge to delay his March trial on tax evasion charges until next November so he can continue racing, according to court documents.