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Sports news briefs — Oct. 23

Compiled from wire reports

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Soccer

Azarenka is upset in WTA in Istanbul

Jelena Jankovic topped second-ranked Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3 in her first match at the WTA Championships on Wednesday in Istanbul.

Earlier, fifth-ranked Li Na edged Sara Errani 6-3, 7-6 (5). Errani also lost her opening group match on Tuesday to Azarenka and likely will be eliminated from the round-robin event featuring the top eight players in the world.

Jankovic, who was ranked No. 1 in 2008 and returned in the top 10 for the first time since 2011, outplayed the erratic Azeranka to snap a four-match losing streak against her.

Li trailed 3-1 in the second set but won the next four games — and then couldn’t close it out. She twice served for the match — wasting a match point at 5-3 — and both times dropped her serve. Trailing 3-1 in the tiebreaker, Li won the next five points. She converted her third match point when Errani sent a forehand into the net to improve to 6-0 in career meetings.

“The first match is always tight,” said Li, who had a three-week break since her last tournament. “I still have to find the rhythm on the court.”

Jankovic is ranked No. 8 and seeded seventh because third-ranked Maria Sharapova pulled out of the event with a shoulder injury. She proved to be the steadier player against Azarenka, the Australian Open champion.

• Roger Federer rallied past Denis Istomin 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the Swiss Indoors in Basel, Switzerland. Federer conceded a set for the first time in five matches against the 48th-ranked Istomin, and rallied from 0-40 down in his first service game in the third. The seventh-ranked Federer converted his first match point with an angled backhand volley. He’s looking for a strong finish to the most difficult season of his career. Federer’s chances of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London improved when Richard Gasquet lost 6-4, 6-2 to fellow Frenchman Michael Llodra in a first-round match. Top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina eased past Henri Laaksonen, 6-4, 6-4.

John Isner of the United States edged Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) at the Valencia Open in Valencia, Spain. Top-seeded David Ferrer eased into the second round by stopping Gael Monfils of France 6-3, 6-2. Monfils appeared to be in pain during the second set, but kept playing. Philipp Kohlschreiber upset second-seeded fellow German Tommy Haas 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

• Russia will be missing top players Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova when it faces Italy in the Fed Cup final next week. Russia selected its 12th highest-ranked player, Alexandra Panova, as its main singles player for the Nov. 2-3 final in Cagliari, Sardinia.

basketball

NBA to change playoff format

• NBA owners unanimously voted in New York City to return to the 2-2-1-1-1 playoff format, believing the travel inconveniences that teams faced when David Stern became commissioner nearly 30 years ago no longer exist.

Beginning with the 2014 finals, the higher-seeded team will host Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The lower seed gets Games 3, 4 and 6, following the same format the NBA uses in all other rounds.

The current format was instituted in 1985, Stern’s first full year in charge, in part to ease the amount of cross-country travel with the Celtics and Lakers frequently meeting for the championship. But critics felt it gave an edge to the lower-seeded team.

other SPORTS

Florida loses Powell to left knee injury

• Florida backup linebacker Jeremi Powell tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Saturday at Missouri and will have season-ending surgery. He injured it trying to block a punt. Powell, a redshirt freshman from Largo, had been a key contributor on special teams.

• Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic warmed up for their World Cup playoffs meeting with big games for Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Ronaldo had two goals in Madrid’s 2-1 home victory over Juventus in the marquee matchup of the day, and Ibrahimovic scored four times — including an unstoppable long-range strike — to help PSG outclass Anderlecht 5-0 in Brussels.

• Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt was suspended for five games without pay by the NHL for charging Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner.

• Three-time U.S. figure skating champion Johnny Weir retired and will join NBC for its coverage of the Sochi Olympic Games.

• NASCAR ordered Richard Petty Motorsports development driver Corey LaJoie to undergo sensitivity training for an insensitive tweet.

— From wire reports


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