TENNIS

Djokovic gets holiday win to reach Qatar quarterfinals

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic celebrated Serbian Orthodox Christmas by beating Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of the Qatar Open at Doha.

Djokovic next plays seventh-seeded Ivo Karlovic, who beat qualifier Nikoloz Basiashvili of Georgia 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Third-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic brushed aside Slovakian qualifier Blaz Kavcic 6-1, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.

David Ferrer, seeded fourth, won an all-Spanish battle against Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-2.

CHENNAI OPEN: Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Croatian teenager Borna Coric 6-1, 6-4 at Chennai, India.

The top-seeded Swiss, the defending champion in Chennai, won five straight games to open the match.

Wawrinka will next play eighth-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, who defeated Elias Ymer of Sweden 6-4, 6-3.

SHENZHEN OPEN: Top seed Simona Halep cruised into the quarterfinals at Shenzhen, China, by defeating Russian wild card Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.

Halep, last year’s French Open finalist, will meet Aleksandra Krunic after the Serbian qualifier came back from 6-3, 5-2 down to beat Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1. Krunic saved six match points.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN SERIES: Kei Nishikori beat Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-5 at the Brisbane International to start a season in which he hopes to help end the dominance of the old guard in men’s tennis.

The Japanese player had a breakout 2014, reaching his first Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open and rising to a year-end No. 5 ranking.

Fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov had a more difficult opener at Brisbane, fending off two match points in the tiebreaker before beating regular practice partner Jerome Chardy of France 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8) in 2 hours.

 In women’s singles at Brisbane, second-seeded Ana Ivanovic defeated Jarmila Gajdosova 6-4, 6-1.

At the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki beat U.S. teenager Taylor Townsend 6-1, 7-6 (4), and Venus Williams reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Kurumi Nara of Japan.

OLYMPICS

U.S. BID: Leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee are expected to decide Thursday what city it will put in the running to host the 2024 Summer Games.

The 15 members of the committee’s board will meet at Denver International Airport to review the proposals by groups from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington.

SOCCER

MLS: The season will begin March 6 with Chicago visiting the champion Los Angeles Galaxy, Major League Soccer announced.

New teams Orlando City FC and New York City FC, will face off at the Citrus Bowl for their debut game on March 8.

With the expansion, MLS moved the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City to the Western Conference.

This year, 12 teams will qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs, up from 10. The sixth-place team in each conference will make the postseason.

 Mike Petke is out as the coach of the New York Red Bulls, despite leading the team to the playoffs in each of his two seasons and the league’s best record in 2013.

The move came two weeks after Ali Curtis was hired to replace Andy Roxburgh as the team’s sporting director.

– From news service reports