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Tennis

Qualifier takes Aussie tuneup

In Sydney, qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova beat fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4 to win her first WTA title at the Sydney International.

Pironkova beat three top 10 players in Sydney: 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Kerber.

Top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro will meet reigning champion Bernard Tomic in the men’s final in the Australian Open tuneup.

The 2009 U.S. Open champion had a 6-4, 6-2 semifinal win over fourth-seeded Dmitry Tursunov. Tomic had a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-3 win over Sergiy Stakhovsky.

• In Auckland, New Zealand, unseeded Lu Yen-hsun stopped David Ferrer’s bid for a fifth singles title at the Heineken Open with a 6-4, 7-6 (4) win in his first-ever semifinal at ATP level.

Lu moved into a final against third-seeded John Isner, who rallied from a set and a break down to beat unseeded Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

• In Hobart, Australia, Klara Zakopalova beat 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals of the WTA event in Hobart.

The two will meet in the first round of the Australian Open.

Zakopalova will next play Garbine Muguruza, who beat Estrella Cabeza Candela 6-0, 6-1.

Baseball

Outfielder Wells cut by Yankees

Left-hander Matt Thornton completed his $7 million, two-year contract with the New York Yankees, who cut outfielder Vernon Wells.

Thornton gets $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons under the deal, which was agreed to Dec. 17 and announced Friday.

• Rangers left-hander Derek Holland will miss the start of the season after having arthroscopic surgery Friday on his left knee after falling on stairs in his home.

Team physician Dr. Keith Meister repaired cartilage behind his kneecap and it was noted that no ligaments needed to be repaired.

• Catcher Brett Hayes has agreed to a one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals, avoiding salary arbitration.

Auto Racing

Dillon leads way in shakedowns

In Daytona Beach, Fla., rain washed out the morning portion of NASCAR’s testing Friday at Daytona International Speedway.

To make up for lost track time, NASCAR kept the track open four hours past the scheduled closing.

Austin Dillon, who is driving the No. 3 Chevrolet for the first time since Dale Earnhardt was killed on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, posted the quickest lap of 192.930 mph during the single-car shakedowns.

Ernie Derr, a record-setting stock car racing champion from Keokuk, Iowa, who competed between the 1950s and 1970s, has died at the age of 92.

DeJong-Greaves Celebra­tion of Life Centers said Derr died Wednesday.

Derr began his career in the International Motor Con­test Association circuit in 1950,
after years of working as a mechanic in his hometown of Keokuk in southeast Iowa.

Off-Road Racing

Rider, two fans die in Argentina

In Salta, Argentina, three deaths overshadowed Fri­day’s sixth leg of the Dakar Rally.

The race claimed the life of Belgian motorcyclist Eric Palante and two spectators who were following the event. Nani Roma, of Spain, kept the overall lead in cars despite finishing sixth in the stage, and fellow Spaniard Marc Coma stayed on top in bikes.

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