Serena Williams fends off serving issues to beat Na in WTA Championships

Serena Williams overcame an erratic serve to beat Li Na 7-6 (1), 6-3 to close in on the semifinals at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, an event for the top eight players in the world. In all, Williams had six double-faults and won only 51 percent of points on her first serve.

Williams has won 28 of her past 29 matches, but the highest ranking she can finish at the end of the year is No. 2 because of injuries and missed tournaments.

SWISS INDOORS: Top-ranked Roger Federer edged Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-3, 6-7 (6), 7-5 to advance to the quarterfinals in Basel, Switzerland.

Also advancing was third-seeded Richard Gasquet of France, who beat Federer’s boyhood friend, Marco Chiudinelli, 6-1, 6-4.

In other first-round action, second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina eased past Alejandro Falla of Colombia, 6-4, 6-1.

VALENCIA OPEN: John Isner of the United States lost to David Goffin 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 in the second round at Valencia, Spain.


BANNED: FIFA imposed worldwide life bans on three Guatemala players for fixing national team and CONCACAF Champions League matches.

Gustavo Cabrera, Yoni Flores and Guillermo Ramirez are “banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity, for life,” said FIFA.

champions league: Powerhouse clubs Real Madrid, AC Milan, Manchester City and Arsenal lost Champions League games, and Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 2-0 victory at Dinamo Zagreb.

Nine-time European champion Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund; seven-time champion Milan’s woeful season continued with a 1-0 loss at Malaga; City blew a 1-0 lead on the way to a 3-1 loss at Ajax; and Arsenal was humbled in a 2-0 home loss to German club Schalke.


NBA: The league is dropping the center spot from the ballot to recognize the sport’s changes. Fans will now vote for three frontcourt players and two guards.


BOYS’ SOCCER: Jamal Frazer Borden chipped a shot over the goalie for his third goal of the game in a 4-0 win by visiting Hyde over Kents Hill.

Ethan Morrow also scored for the Phoenix, while Eduardo Gadsden assisted on two goals.

• Jesse Morse’s three goals led Berwick Academy (7-5-2, 5-2-2) to a 6-0 win over the Landmark School (4-9, 1-8) during an Eastern Independent League matchup at Prides Crossing, Mass.

Dester Doucette added two goals and Blake Downey one for Berwick.

GIRLS’ SOCCER: Brooke Downey provided a first-half assist on a goal by Torieana St. Pierre as Berwick Academy beat Proctor 2-0 at South Berwick. Aimee Briand added a second-half goal from Caroline Hernon.