Ready to retire
SYDNEY - Sam Soliman is prepared to retire if he beats Felix Sturm in Germany this weekend and doesn't get the next crack at fellow Australian Daniel Geale's IBF middleweight boxing title. Soliman, the No.1 contender for Geale's title, tackles No.3 rated Sturm in Dusseldorf tomorrow. Having won a title eliminator in his last bout, 39-year-old Soliman could just have waited for his mandatory crack at the winner of Wednesday's bout between Geale and Anthony Mundine without taking a potentially risky contest against 34-year-old former world champion Sturm.
BARCELONA - The fight to eliminate racism from football stadiums is "a lost war," Barcelona defender Dani Alves said on Thursday, a day after he was the target of racist chants at Real Madrid. "I know that things are being done to fight against this, but it still takes place," Alves said. "For me it is a lost war. I have been in Spain for 10 years and it has happened since the first day." Segments of Madrid fans abused Alves with monkey chants during the 1-1 draw in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
LONDON - Eden Hazard's ban for kicking a ball boy during Chelsea's League Cup semi-final against Swansea will remain at three matches after the Football Association decided against fresh disciplinary action. Hazard was sent off for violent conduct following the incident at the Liberty Stadium, in which he tussled with ball boy Charlie Morgan after the youngster refused to give him the ball. The Belgian's red card generated an automatic three-match suspension, but subsequently the FA suggested this was "clearly insufficient" and looked at an additional charge.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - South Africa's Graeme Smith will become the first cricketer in history to captain in 100 Tests on Friday, when Pakistan begins their attempt to end the Proteas' lengthy unbeaten run. On his 32nd birthday, Smith will lead South Africa out for the 99th time when the first Test gets under way at the Wanderers, having also captained a World XI in a Test against Australia in 2005. South Africa is unbeaten in 11 Test series, and have won their past five on the way to the top of the world rankings.
Focus on clay
LONDON - Andy Murray will miss Great Britain's Davis Cup tie against Russia at Coventry's Ricoh Arena on April 5-7 to focus on the clay season. The Australian Open finalist has decided to concentrate on his weakest surface immediately after the hard court tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami have been completed in March. Murray is determined to make inroads into the advantage main rivals Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have traditionally enjoyed on clay.
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona - Vijay Singh withdrew from the Phoenix Open before the start of the first round on Thursday, a day after he admitted using a deer antler spray that contains a substance banned by the PGA Tour. Singh, a two-time winner of the tournament, cited a back injury as the reason for this withdrawal. However, his departure means the 49-year-old has yet to face reporters since he confirmed he used the spray.