Sports briefs: Oct. 10

October 10, 2012 

Soccer

Injured knee will keep Donovan out of World Cup qualifiers

Landon Donovan will not play for the U.S. national team in a pair of upcoming World Cup qualifying matches because of an injured left knee, adding to what will be a pressure-filled few days for the Americans.

U.S. Soccer said Tuesday that Donovan — who has more goals, assists and starts than any player in program history — will likely not be replaced on what was a 24-man roster for the upcoming qualifiers, first on Friday on the road against Antigua and Barbuda, then in Kansas City on Oct. 16 against Guatemala.

Donovan was injured while playing Saturday for the Los Angeles Galaxy. He was selected by U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann for these qualifiers anyway, and was getting checked out on Tuesday just to ensure that his knee was fine. Apparently, that's not the case. Both the national team and the Galaxy said Donovan was returning to Los Angeles for further evaluation.

"Landon was very optimistic over the weekend when his knee was feeling much better, but now he needs time to recover," Klinsmann said.


Tennis

Injured Nadal still not able to practice

Rafael Nadal is eager to trade in his backstroke for his backhand. Swimming as part of his rehabilitation from a left knee injury, Nadal said he has been more encouraged recently about his progress and hopes to resume practice soon. He didn't rule out playing next month in the ATP World Tour Finals or Davis Cup finals, but added that such a quick return would be difficult.

"I don't want to put any goals to play a tournament," Nadal said. "I want to go day by day. I go every day to the gym and the swimming pool to continue with my recovery. I am trying to not think that far."

The 11-time Grand Slam champion hasn't played since losing in the second round of Wimbledon in June. A partially torn patella tendon forced him to miss the Olympics, where he was the defending gold medalist, and the U.S. Open, where he was the 2010 champion and 2011 runner-up.

After deciding against surgery, Nadal was at first discouraged about how he responded to his rehabilitation regimen.

"I am feeling a little bit better now than the first couple of months," he said. "It has been very, very tough for me because I feel my knee didn't improve in the right direction, but today is something different. The last couple of weeks the improvement of my knee is something I really can feel."

Because of his long layoff, Nadal figures he'll likely need to hit balls for several weeks at least before he returns to competition. The biggest remaining events this year are the ATP World Tour Finals in London Nov. 5-12 and Spain's Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic Nov. 16-18.

"I will need a period of time of practice," he said. "I don't know if that will take a few weeks or one month and a half."


Golf

McIlroy, Woods lose matches in Turkey

The anticipated matchup between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods on Wednesday might not count for much after both lost their opening matches at the eight-player World Golf Finals in Belek, Turkey. McIlroy lost to Matt Kuchar by six shots and Woods fell to Charl Schwartzel by one shot on Tuesday in the $5.2 million event.

In the other group of the medal match-play format, Lee Westwood beat Webb Simpson by one shot and Justin Rose defeated Hunter Mahan by four strokes.

McIlroy and Woods — ranked No. 1 and No. 2 — face each other Wednesday in the last of their three group matches, but both could already be eliminated by then. The top two in each group will advance to the semifinals.

In Wednesday's morning matches, McIlroy will face Schwartzel and Woods will play Kuchar.

Woods and Schwartzel were all-square going to the 18th when the American went into a greenside bunker and finished with a bogey.

"It came right down to the wire, but I can't believe how far that second shot flew into the back bunker and that was the match," Woods said. "'It means now that I have to play 'Kooch' and try and win that match before facing Rory in the afternoon."

McIlroy unraveled against Kuchar with a triple bogey at the 15th hole and double bogeys at 16 and 17.

"I hit a drive into the trees on 15 and lost a bit of confidence," McIlroy said. "I need to win both of my matches tomorrow if I am to advance. I just struggled for a bit of motivation out there, so I need to go out and concentrate on both of my matches tomorrow."


Horse racing

Lentenor, Barbaro's brother, retired

Lentenor, the 4-year-old full brother to the late 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, has been retired from racing as a result of a tendon injury, according to a news release from Nicoma Bloodstock and Headley Bell. Owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the son of Dynaformer out of La Ville Rouge won the Kitten's Joy Stakes at Colonial Downs in July; he finished with lifetime earnings of nearly $185,000 from 17 starts. Stallion plans are under consideration with Bell's Nicoma Bloodstock.


The last word

Golfer John Daly after an 86 in the third round at Las Vegas this past Saturday:

"I asked the scorer when I got done if there was a chance I could get my amateur status back."

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