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The Star Online: Sports

Nadal beats Federer in exhibition set

Posted: 08 Mar 2011 11:34 PM PST

EUGENE, Oregon (AP) - Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5 in an exhibition match Tuesday to warm up for the upcoming BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.

Joining Nadal, the No. 1 player in the world, and Federer, who is No. 2, at the Clash of the Champions were Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, who also played a match at the University of Oregon's new $227 million basketball arena. All are Nike-sponsored athletes.

The foursome then played a set of mixed doubles.

The Matthew Knight Arena was built with the financial backing of Nike co-founder and University of Oregon Ducks supporter Phil Knight.

"We've had many big battles over the years and also had some wonderful moments in exhibition play," Federer said of his many matches against Nadal. "We've played in some amazing places and this is obviously very special doing it for Nike in a place that means a lot to Phil. We're very happy to be here tonight."

John McEnroe was a surprise guest at the event.

Knight contributed $100 million to establish the University of Oregon Legacy Fund, which the school used to back the state bonds it needed to pay for construction of the arena, named after Knight's son who died in a scuba diving accident in El Salvador in 2004 at age 34.

Tickets for the event sold out in an hour the day they went on sale and Tuesday, 12,220 packed the arena and gave the players a rock star's welcome as they entered the arena floor under a spot light and to deafening applause.

"Walking down those stairs and hearing the crowd, you would think it is normal but it is not normal for us," said Federer, 29, who has 16 grand slam singles titles. The crowd was given a surprise in return when McEnroe appeared to randomly walk out of a tunnel onto the court during pregame introductions.

McEnroe took over the umpire's chair for the mixed doubles match, with former Oregon quarterbacks Joey Harrington and Dennis Dixon as guest sideline judges.

"I never thought I'd stoop this low," said McEnroe, who had many infamous disputes with chair umps throughout his storied career. With Sharapova and Federer leading 5-3, McEnroe and Federer switched places and McEnroe joined Sharapova on the court and thrilled the crowd with some of his old magic, getting the team to match point before Federer came back to polish off a 6-3 victory with an ace.

Azarenka and Sharapova opened the night with an entertaining singles set that featured plenty of banter with courtside fans and each other before Azarenka won 5-4 (5-0) in a tiebreaker.

In the men's singles set, Nadal and Federer showed little of the intensity that typically when the two meet. Instead, they playfully worked their way through the set with trick shots and amusing commentary before Nadal won.

Serena Williams was originally scheduled to play in the exhibition but had to withdraw because of injury. She was replaced by Azarenka.

Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, hasn't played an official match since winning Wimbledon last July because of a foot injury she sustained off the court. She had a further setback when she was diagnosed recently with a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lungs. She also needed emergency treatment for a hematoma last week.

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Fans clash with police outside stadium

Posted: 08 Mar 2011 08:22 PM PST

NAGPUR: Police yesterday clashed with hundreds of fans seeking tickets for India's World Cup showdown against South Africa, the incident again highlighting the country's inability to handle the huge demand for seats.

Twelve days after similar scenes were witnessed in Bangalore, stick-wielding police battered fans in front of the ticket counter at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium.

Spectators had been queuing up behind wooden barricades since Monday evening after learning that a limited number of tickets would be made available.

A Reuters witness said sections of the crowd became restless yesterday and started climbing over the barriers, breaking them down, which forced the police to take action.

The ticket counter remained closed as police were seen trying to control the crowds swarming outside the area, as they hoped to secure seats for Saturday's Group B match.

"I have been here since last night. Many villagers who had also come here for tickets slept outside the stadium as they waited for the ticket counter to open. When the counter opened, there was a huge rush to buy the tickets," Ram Dixit told Reuters Television.

"Police baton-charged the people as they tried to control the crowd. I could not get a ticket so I will have to watch the match on television."

The International Cricket Council declined to discuss the matter while India's own cricket board could not be reached for comment.

Last month's violence in Bangalore erupted after tens of thousands of fans who had camped overnight outside the 38,400-seat M Chinnaswamy Stadium were told all 7,000 tickets allocated for public sale for the Feb 27 India v England game had been sold. — Reuters

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