Taiwanese gets wildcard
Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen and India’s Somdev Devvarman have landed wildcards for this month’s Australian Open, the organizers said yesterday. The Taiwanese teen and the 25-year-old Indian were handed the wildcards “as part of the Australian Open’s profile as the Grand Slam of Asia Pacific,” the organizers said in a statement. Devvarman is currently ranked 108, outside the Australian Open cut-off of 105, and this will be the first time he will feature in the main draw of the tournament. For 19-year-old Chang, ranked 117th, this will be her second Australian Open main draw appearance. Australians Marinko Matosevic, Olivia Rogowska, Peter Luczak, Jelena Dokic, Matt Ebden and Alicia Molik have also received wildcards and two more would be awarded in both the men’s and women’s draw, the organizers said.
Griz ban inflight gambling
Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has banned gambling during team flights after a fight between Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo on board an airplane during a return trip from Los Angeles. Hollins was not immediately available on Wednesday, but a team spokesman says no more gambling will be allowed on flights for the Grizzlies. The team confirmed Allen and Mayo had a “brief altercation” on the charter flight back to Memphis on Monday, a day after a 104-85 win over the Lakers.
Klitschko bout rescheduled
Wladimir Klitschko’s defense of his WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against unbeaten British challenger Dereck Chisora has been rescheduled for April 30. Klitschko was forced to pull out of the Dec. 11 bout due to a stomach injury. Chisora said on Wednesday on promoter Frank Warren’s Web site that he was a “bit worried” that Klitschko “might try and fight an easier touch, but I think I’ve earned my opportunity.” Chisora (14-0) added that Klitschko’s “time at the top is well and truly up.” The Web site only said the fight will take place in Germany, with the original bout having been planned for Mannheim. Klitschko has a 55-3 record with 49 knockouts.
Texas ink Beltre for US$96m
Free agent Adrian Beltre has signed a six-year contract to replace Michael Young as the Texas Rangers’ third baseman, the AL champions said on Wednesday. Financial terms were not announced by the Rangers (texas.rangers.mlb.com), but Major League Baseball’s official Web site (www.mlb.com) said the deal was worth US$96 million. That would make the contract the second-largest ever agreed to by the Rangers. Current New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, US$252 million deal in 2000. Beltre, 31, a two-time Golden Glove Award winner and All-Star last year, hit .321 with 102 runs batted in during his only season in Boston. He previously played five seasons with the Seattle Mariners. Young is expected to become the Rangers’ designated hitter with the club not re-signing Vladimir Guerrero.
Darvish now highest-paid
Pitcher Yu Darvish has signed a new contract that makes him the highest-paid player in Japanese professional baseball. The 24-year-old Darvish was given a US$2 million raise yesterday that will bring his annual salary with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to US$6 million. Darvish was 12-8 with a 1.78 ERA and 222 strikeouts last season for the Fighters. There were reports he was planning a move to the US major leagues but he decided to remain in Japan.