The Baltimore Sun

Sharapova praises WTA for keeping tour 'clean'

SINGAPORE -- Maria Sharapova praised the WTA yesterday for taking the necessary precautions to remain clean, while the men's game is hurt by allegations of match-fixing and illegal betting.

Sharapova said WTA chief executive and chairman Larry Scott "is doing all the things possible, from having meetings throughout the year to encouraging players to be safe and smart about their choices.

"Unfortunately, we have to be realistic about the fact that some of these things do go on ... but at the end of the day, I believe that women's tennis is doing a great job of being clean," Sharapova said on the eve of her exhibition match against Anna Chakvetadze.

Concerns about match-fixing in men's tennis have risen since August, when an online betting company reported unusual betting patterns during a match between fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina. Since then, several players have said they were approached with offers to fix matches for money.


Horse racing

Apple Special wins Juvenile at Laurel

Apple Special won the $50,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship by 2 3/4 lengths, beating seven other 2-year-olds in the year-end feature at Laurel Park. Oliver Castillo was aboard Apple Special, who won the 1-mile race in 1 minute, 39.20 seconds. Malibu Kid took second and Regal Solo finished third. Smooth It Over, the 3-1 betting choice, was fifth. Apple Special paid $15.20.

Holiday Cheer Stakes -- Sweetnorthernsaint, the 6-5 favorite who was making his first start since May, finished sixth in the $50,000 race won by Junior College at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. Sweetnorthernsaint finished second in the Preakness.

Awards -- Luis Garcia, Scott Lake and Robert Cole won the year-end titles at the major Maryland tracks in the jockey, trainer and owner divisions, respectively, the Maryland Jockey Club said in a statement. Garcia had 140 victories at Laurel Park and Pimlico this year. Lake had 113 winners at the major Maryland tracks. Cole is the state's top owner for the second consecutive year. His horses won 33 times in 120 starts.

Et Cetera

B. Miller takes skiing victory

Bode Miller won the grueling Stelvio downhill in Bormio, Italy, for his first World Cup victory since breaking away from the U.S. Ski Team. While the other favorites found trouble, Miller had a near-perfect run and covered the 2.03-mile course in 2 minutes, 0.57 seconds. The victory was the 26th of Miller's career, putting him within one win of matching Phil Mahre's record of 27 U.S. victories. "It's a miracle really," Miller said. "If you want to make it down you've got to take it easy on some of the curves. I just tried to hold on at the end. I was out of gas." Andreas Buder of Austria was 0.45 of a second behind, and Jan Hudec of Canada was third, 0.54 back. After clashing with the U.S. federation over team rules, Miller decided to train and race on his own this season. Complying with International Ski Federation rules, he still wears a U.S. uniform when he skis but puts on his own jacket with his personal sponsors as soon as he takes off his skis.

Tennis -- Meghann Shaughnessy, filling in for Serena Williams, got the United States off to a winning start and Mardy Fish clinched the win over India at the opener of the 20th Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Shaughnessy won the last five games against an ailing Sania Mirza for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory, and Fish secured the U.S. lead with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Rohan Bopanna. Mirza and Bopanna won the doubles 6-4, 6-4. Australia upset the third-seeded Czech Republic, 2-1. Top-seeded Serbia starts its Group A campaign against Taiwan and France plays Argentina today. Each team plays three times in the round-robin format, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the semifinals.


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