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Nadal's rally keys Spain in Davis Cup

September 20, 2008|Greg Johnson, David Wharton | From Times Staff and Wire Reports

For one set, the United States could entertain the tantalizing thought of a big upset in Davis Cup tennis.

But Sam Querrey's lead over top-ranked Rafael Nadal evaporated, and Spain, playing on its beloved clay before a crowd of some 16,000 in a bullfighting arena at Madrid, took a 2-0 lead Friday in the best-of-five semifinal series.

Nadal dropped the first set but recovered to win, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3, 6-4, over an opponent making his Davis Cup debut and filling in for James Blake.

"It was very difficult for me to return balls and control points," Nadal said. "Maybe with the altitude it made it a little bit easier for him."

Spain's David Ferrer then defeated Andy Roddick, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 8-6. Spain hasn't lost a clay-court Davis Cup series in nine years. It can secure its sixth Davis Cup final appearance in doubles today when Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez face Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish.

The winner will play the winner of the Argentina-Russia semifinal for the title. Argentina leads that series, 2-0, at home.

ifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated top-seeded Jelena Jankovic, 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, in the Pan Pacific Open quarterfinals at Tokyo, ending the Serb's hopes of a swift return to the top of the rankings ahead of Serena Williams.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Kansas State dismisses running back Patton

Kansas State running back Leon Patton was dismissed from the team after being arrested on suspicion of child abuse. The 20-year-old junior was accused of shaking a 2-month-old boy "feloniously and intentionally," police in Manhattan, Kan., said. Patton was jailed on $30,000 bond for his July 15 actions. Police would not provide information on the now-4-month-old boy's whereabouts or condition.

Donald Brown ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns and Connecticut (4-0) held off Baylor, 31-28, at East Hartford, Conn. Baylor freshman quarterback Robert Griffin drove the Bears (3-1) to the Connecticut 39-yard line with less than a minute to play before his fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

The NCAA has determined that Auburn did not commit academic fraud in allowing athletes in football and other sports to take courses that required little or no time in the classroom.

PRO BASKETBALL

Celtics' Miles given a 10-day suspension

Boston Celtics forward Darius Miles has been suspended without pay for 10 games for violating the terms of the anti-drug program at the end of the 2007-08 season. Miles' suspension will begin with the first game of the 2008-09 regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says forward Josh Howard realizes his comments about the national anthem were wrong and the player has apologized.

In his online blog, Cuban also responded to e-mails he has received commenting on the player's remarks by saying Howard "will work with us" and "beyond that, it's a private issue."

Cuban posted a number of the inflammatory replies on his blog Thursday night, with the apparent e-mail addresses of the senders.

But by Friday night, Cuban's remarks slugged "Thanks for the advice on Josh" had been removed from the blog and replaced with a posting saying, "I made my point."

Howard's comments, in a video posted on the YouTube website, show him on a football field at a charity flag football game. As the anthem plays in the background, Howard approaches a camera and says: " 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is going on right now. I don't even celebrate that . . . I'm black."

Some e-mails that Cuban posted made blatant racist remarks about Howard. Cuban's updated response said his original posting was "the right thing to do," but he says it left him with an upset stomach.

"I thought it was important to point out the hatred and ignorance of so many who quickly judge people they have never met, based purely on sound bites and headlines," Cuban wrote. "I wanted to point out the irony of them experiencing the onslaught of attention from suddenly and unexpectedly being placed in the media spotlight from a throwaway comment."

MISCELLANY

McCourt closer to a deal for the L.A. Marathon

Frank McCourt moved closer to taking control of the Los Angeles Marathon after the City Council unanimously approved a new contract that, among other things, would shift the race from its traditional Sunday start in early March to Presidents Day in February.

Going the Distance, the company that McCourt is funding to buy operating rights to the annual race, hopes to have a completed deal early next week, McCourt spokesman Howard Sunkin said.

-- Greg Johnson

USC basketball guard Marcus Simmons is expected to sit out eight to 12 weeks after having surgery to remove a bone growth in his left leg, Coach Tim Floyd announced. The growth formed between the tibia and fibula as the result of an ankle injury that limited Simmons' play last season.

-- David Wharton

Jeff Gordon, who is 11th in the points race and hasn't won since last October, took the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover, Del., with a lap of 157.061 mph. Seven Chase drivers will start in the top 11 of Sunday's race.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency said it gave cyclist Mark Roland a two-year suspension for use of HGH and an anabolic steroid, based on the results of its investigation. Roland, who acknowledged using the substances, had not returned a positive result for any doping test.

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