Serena injures ankle, withdraws from tourney

Serena Williams injured her left ankle Wednesday at the Brisbane International in what looms as a major setback for her Australian Open preparations.

Williams, in her first trip to Australia since winning the 2010 Australian Open and playing a tournament for the first time since losing last year’s U.S. Open final, was serving for the match with a 6-2, 5-3 lead against Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski when she twisted her ankle and crashed heavily to the court.

She needed treatment as she lay near the baseline for several minutes and then had the ankle retaped before resuming the match and losing the next point to surrender a service break.

Williams limped through the next game, wincing in pain after at least two points, before securing a 6-2, 6-4 win to advance to the quarterfinals.

She withdrew from the Brisbane tournament later in the day after having medical scans that confirmed a sprained ankle “that I probably shouldn’t play on.”

“I’m going to take a couple of days off — not too many — and see how I feel,” Williams said in a statement. “I’m still hopeful of playing the Australian Open.”

QATAR OPEN: Rafael Nadal moved into the quarterfinals by defeating German qualifier Denis Gremelmayr 6-2, 6-2 at Doha, Qatar.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced, saving two set points in the first set before beating Flavio Cipolla of Italy, 7-6 (8), 6-3.

HOPMAN CUP: Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and teammate Tomas Berdych won their singles matches in straight sets at Perth, Australia, to give the Czech Republic an insurmountable 2-0 lead over the United States.

Berdych and Kvitova made it a clean sweep when they beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Mardy Fish 6-3, 7-5 in mixed doubles.


PREMIER LEAGUE: Manchester United lost its second straight game, a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle that left Manchester City with a three-point lead.

In another game, Everton’s Tim Howard became just the fourth goalkeeper to score, putting in a wind-blown clearance from about 100 yards during Everton’s 2-1 loss to Bolton.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez issued a conditional public apology for the first time for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, while maintaining he felt he had done nothing wrong.

Suarez was banned for eight matches and fined 40,000 pounds ($62,000) for calling Evra “Negro” or “Negros” seven times in October during a 1-1 draw at Anfield.

Suarez has conceded that his conduct might have caused offense but said it was not intended to do so. He did not, however, apologize directly to Evra, the black France international.

MLS: The Portland Timbers signed forward Brent Richards under Major League Soccer’s homegrown player rule.

The native of Camas, Wash., has played with the Timbers’ U-23 development team for the past three seasons, scoring 26 goals and 12 assists in 37 matches.

In 2010, the U-23 Timbers won the USL’s Premier Development League championship with a 20-0 record. Richards was the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Richards has led Portland’s development league team in scoring for the past two seasons.

U.S. TEAM: Seattle midfielder Brad Evans and defender Jeff Parke were added to the roster for exhibition games this month against Venezuela and Panama.

They replace Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez and Dallas defender George John, who were allowed to withdraw because of club-related matters. Gonzalez had been called in for the first time since Jurgen Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as coach last summer.

The U.S. faces Venezuela on Jan. 21 at Glendale, Ariz., and is at Panama four days later.


GIRLS’ HOCKEY: Maddie Nichols scored twice to lead Tilton School to a 3-1 win over Hebron Academy at Hebron.

Jenna Mead added two assists for the Rams. Katie Couture scored for the Lumberjacks.

– From staff and news services