By FRANK PASTOR, Times wires
Published February 27, 2004
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Venus Williams lost in the Dubai Open quarterfinals Thursday, beaten by unseeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-3.
The second-seeded Williams was playing her first tournament in three weeks after a right leg injury. She returned to the WTA circuit at last month's Australian Open after a six-month layoff.
"I'm just out of practice," she said after the 56-minute match.
Top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne reached the semifinals, routing eighth-seeded Conchita Martinez 6-1, 6-0. Henin-Hardenne faces Meghann Shaughnessy, who downed fourth-seeded Anastasia Myskina of Russia 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-3.
Williams, a four-time major champion, served poorly and made numerous unforced errors against her 28th-ranked opponent. Kuznetsova said Williams is not at the top of her game.
OPEN 13: Second-seeded Guillermo Coria and Australian Open runnerup Marat Safin were upset in the second round at Marseille, France. Qualifier Marc Rosset topped Coria 7-6 (7-2), 6-1, and Jonas Bjorkman eliminated the eighth-seeded Safin 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.
SERENA WITHDRAWS: Serena Williams pulled out of next week's Qatar Open in Doha because of the flu, delaying the six-time Grand Slam champion's return. Williams has not played since beating sister Venus in July's Wimbledon final.
BOXING: Foreman: No deal yet
Former heavyweight champion George Foreman insists he has no agreement with anyone to make a comeback. Promoter Don King has said Foreman agreed to a tentative $20-million deal, but the 55-year-old Foreman told Houston TV station KRIV there was no verbal agreement. "Everyone thinks it's a verbal commitment when I smile," Foreman said. "I'm not going to say anyone's got a contract with me right now. It has to be in writing and when it happens, I'm going to make a major announcement myself."
TYSON AVOIDS JAIL: Mike Tyson agreed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct in a brawl with two men outside a Brooklyn hotel last year. Under the agreement, the former heavyweight will perform 100 hours community service, teaching and instructing children in boxing. Once that is completed, other charges against Tyson will be dropped and he will plead guilty to disorderly conduct. Tyson initially was charged with assault, harassment and disorderly conduct.
BOUTS: Top contender Vitali Klitschko faces Corrie Sanders on April 24 for the heavyweight title made vacant by the retirement of Lennox Lewis. The site has not been decided, but promoter Peter Kohl said both fighters agreed to terms. ... Anthony Mundine will make a mandatory defense of his WBA super-middleweight title against Manny Siaca on May 5.
COLLEGES: Gators in contention
Florida senior Sara McLarty won her fourth SEC individual title (500-yard freestyle) at the Swimming and Diving Championships in Athens, Ga. The UF women were third with 293 points, 96 behind leader Auburn. The Gator men were second, 158 points behind leader Auburn (469).
BASEBALL: Chris Smith's sixth home run of the season fueled a five-run first inning and helped spark host Florida's 20-7 win over Michigan. Visiting Florida International scored five runs on three errors to beat Miami 11-7.
FOOTBALL: Mississippi State's hearing with the NCAA infractions committee was postponed until at least June. MSU received a letter of allegations from the NCAA on Dec. 2, detailing 13 possible rules violations from 1998-2002 ranging from giving prospective student-athletes petty cash to a booster offering to pay the home mortgage for the family of a recruit.
TENNIS: Host Florida State defeated the USF women 5-2.
ARENA FOOTBALL: The Storm signed kicker Mike Black to replace Ian Howfield, who was released Wednesday. Black kicked for the Storm from 2001-03. The Storm placed offensive/defensive lineman Kelvin Kinney on injured reserve and signed lineman D.J. Bleisath to the practice squad.
FIGURE SKATING: Japan's Takeshi Honda, the bronze medalist at the past two World Championships, will miss this year's event because of ankle problems.
SOCCER: The offices of all teams in Italy's top two divisions were searched by police in a fraud investigation. Rome prosecutors are looking into possible false accounting. No suspects have been identified. Some clubs were accused of lacking financial guarantees when acquiring new players.