Ferrer, Berdych advance
Top-seeded David Ferrer of Spain and No. 2 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic advanced to the Nice Open quarter-finals after winning in straight sets in Nice, France, on Wednesday. Ferrer beat Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-3, 6-2, while Berdych won his second-round match against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-4. Ferrer dominated, winning 96 percent of first serve points, firing six aces and not facing a single break point. He broke Seppi’s serve three times. Ferrer plays fifth-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarter-finals, after the Ukrainian labored to beat Spanish qualifier Pere Riba 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5). Berdych was also relatively untroubled, saving the only break point he faced and taking Mannarino’s serve three times. He next plays Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, who beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. No. 3 Nicolas Almagro of Spain, a winner of two clay titles already this year, also advanced to the last eight by rallying to a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 win over Carlos Berlocq of Argentina. Almagro next plays countryman Pablo Andujar, who won 6-3, 6-4 against Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Victor Hanescu of Romania beat Michael Russell of the US 7-5, 6-2, while lucky loser Robin Haase of the Netherlands advanced after ousting No. 7 Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-2, 6-4.
Tuilagi banned from final
Leicester center Manu Tuilagi will miss this month’s Premiership final after receiving a five-week ban for launching a flurry of punches to the head of England international Chris Ashton in Saturday’s semi-final win over the Northampton Saints. Samoan-born Tuilagi, who has represented England’s second-string team the Saxons, pleaded guilty to the charge and had a 10-week ban for the “top end” offense reduced by 50 percent to reflect his youth and inexperience, admission of guilt and genuine remorse, the Rugby Football Union said on its Web site. Leicester beat the Saints 11-3 in a combustible semi-final at the Tigers’ Welford Road ground and face the Saracens in English rugby’s showpiece match at Twickenham on May 28.
Real Madrid draws in benefit
Real Madrid drew 2-2 on Wednesday with a team of players from the Murcia region in a benefit match for victims of last week’s earthquake in southeastern Spain. Some 32,000 people packed Real Murcia’s Nueva Condomina stadium for the match, the club said on its Web site. French striker Karim Benzema and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Real. The Murcia team benefited from an own goal from Pepe as well as one from Meca. Proceeds from the match went to victims of the May 11 earthquake that struck the Murcia town of Lora, killing nine people in the injuring at least 100 and leaving thousands homeless.
Woods still has star power
Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods’ golf game may have taken a turn for the worse, but his star power remains almost as bright as ever. The 35-year old American continues to be the biggest sports celebrity in the world, sitting at No. 6 on Forbes magazine’s annual “Celebrity 100” list of the most powerful people in the entertainment business. Woods, who has not won a golf tournament in the past year and a half, is the highest ranked athlete on the Forbes list. There are 19 athletes listed, including NBA basketball player LeBron James (10th), tennis star Roger Federer (25th) and soccer icon David Beckham (tied for No. 35).