FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil - World No.109 Olga Puchkova of Russia battled back to beat top-seeded American star Venus Williams 4-6 6-4 7-5 yesterday to reach the final of Brazil Cup. The 25-year-old Puchkova, a runner-up in Kolkata and Quebec City in 2006, will face Romania's Monica Niculescu in Saturday's final. Niculescu defeated seventh-seeded Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-0 6-2 in her semi-final.
GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Controversial British sprinter Dwain Chambers crashed out of the European Indoor Championships yesterday when he failed to negotiate the 60m heats. The 34-year-old ran 6.78sec to finish fifth in his heat, with only the top four progressing. An angry Chambers exited the stadium without speaking to the media. The Londoner, who served a two-year drugs ban after being caught using the designer steroid THG in 2003, fought a lengthy battle to run in the Olympics on home ground last year.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida - World No.1 and defending champion Rory McIlroy withdrew from the US PGA Honda Classic during his second round yesterday, saying he was struggling due to pain from a sore wisdom tooth. McIlroy struggled through the back nine on Friday, his opening nine holes of the round, and hit his approach at the 18th into water. He then walked off the course and quickly departed the grounds with his coach and caddie. "I sincerely apologise to The Honda Classic and PGA Tour for my sudden withdrawal," McIlroy said.
SINGAPORE - American Stacy Lewis took a step forward in her quest to replace Tseng Yani as world No.1 golfer as she shot a six-under-par 66 to seize control of the LPGA Tour's Women's Champions yesterday. The world No.4 started the day two back from overnight leader Azahara Munoz, but she holed three birdies on both the front and back nine to head into the weekend two shots clear at Singapore's par-72 Sentosa Golf Club.
EDINBURGH - FIFA is willing to allow goal-line technology decisions to be shown to fans on big screens in stadiums and television viewers. In a document to be assessed by football's rule-makers on Saturday, FIFA has reversed its previous insistence that referees could be undermined if the instant results from the high-tech aids were revealed. FIFA does give the power to referees to ignore the computer's decision, as it now gives competition organisers the power to prevent the outcome being publicly known, as in tennis.
LONDON - Nile Ranger has left Newcastle after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent, the English Premier League club announced yesterday. The 21-year-old striker was released on bail in late January after being arrested on suspicion of rape. "Newcastle United can confirm that Nile Ranger has today left the club by mutual consent," a club statement said. The England Under-19 international, who had been involved in a series of disputes with Newcastle fans on social networking site Twitter, told his followers on Friday: "I'm happy."