MOSCOW - Russian freestyle wrestling Olympic champion Sagid Murtazaliev is giving back his gold medal in protest at the International Olympic Committee executive board guidelines to exclude wrestling from the Olympic program. "The decision to return my Olympic medal was very hard for me," the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted 2000 Sydney Games Olympic champion Murtazaliev as telling IOC president Jacques Rogge in a letter. "But after some deep thinking I decided to follow the steps of Bulgarian wrestling federation president Valentin Iordanov. I made this move in protest against the IOC executive committee guidelines to exclude wrestling from the Games' program."
KUALA LUMPUR - Sixth-seed Donna Vekic of Croatia was the first seeded player to be knocked out of the Malaysian Open after she lost 6-3 4-6 6-2 to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round. Australia's Casey Dellacqua was also knocked out after being beaten 6-3 6-2 by Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. The 16-year-old Vekic, who is ranked world number 93 and only turned professional in September, was outmanoeuvred in the match against an opponent who is better known for her doubles play.
DUBAI - World number one Novak Djokovic did not let friendship prevent him from carrying on where he left off last month when he made a successful defence of his Australian Open title at the Dubai Open on Tuesday. Djokovic's attempt to win back the Dubai Open title began with a 6-1 6-4 win over Viktor Troicki, the fellow Davis Cup player with whom he grew up and shared tennis courts many times in the city of Belgrade. The top-seeded Serbian moved so swiftly and turned defence into attack so suddenly that it was hard to believe four weeks had passed since he last played singles on the ATP tour.
ST GEORGE'S, Grenada - Left-hander Darren Bravo struck a composed, unbeaten 72 Tuesday as the West Indies cruised to a 3-0 clean sweep over Zimbabwe in their one-day cricket series with a five-wicket victory in the third and final match at the National Stadium. Bravo's 103-ball knock guided the host to 5-215 off 46.2 overs as it chased Zimbabwe's modest total of 9-211 off 50 overs, earning him both the man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series awards following on his maiden ODI hundred in the first match on Friday. Kieran Powell contributed 42 at the top of the order while the effort of young wrist-spinners Natsai M'Shangwe and debutant Tinotenda Mutombodzi offered some encouragement for the Zimbabweans ahead of the two T20 fixtures to be played at the weekend in Antigua.
LONDON - Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has dismissed media reports of a row between himself and some of his senior players in the aftermath of Sunday's 2-0 Premier League loss at Manchester City. British media reports claimed there had been a flare-up involving Benitez and a posse of players led by captain John Terry, but the Spaniard insisted there had been nothing untoward.