V. Williams left off U.S. Fed Cup roster

- Compiled by John Tkach from staff, wire reports

Serena Williams is on the U.S. Fed Cup roster for tennis matches against Ukraine on April 21-22, but her sister Venus is not.

Joining Serena, a 13-time Grand Slam tournament champion, on the team announced by Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez on Wednesday are Christina Mchale, Sloane Stephens and Liezel Huber.

The best-of-five-match series will be on clay in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The country that wins will be promoted into the Fed Cup main group in 2013 and will be able to compete for the title. The loser will drop into World Group II.

Serena Williams is making her second consecutiv­e Fed Cup appearance after winning twice against Belarus in February to improve to 6-0 in singles play in the team competitio­n.

-Third seed Feliciano Lopez had four of his 13 aces in a tiebreaker to overpower Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) on Wednesday in the second round of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championsh­ips in Houston. Lopez, ranked No. 15 in the world, played on clay for the first time this year and fell behind 4-1 in the opening set before unleashing his big serve to pull out the set. Lopez had three aces to take a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker and closed it out with an ace at the fourth match point.

-Simona Halep ousted defending champion Roberta Vinci from the Barcelona Open on Wednesday. Halep broke five times to secure a 6-1, 6-3 victory in just over an hour against fourth-seeded Vinci, who also won the outdoor clay tournament in 2009. Halep will play Carla Suarez Navarro, who beat Petra Cetkovska 6-2, 6-4 Wednesday, in the quarterfin­als.

-Flavio Cipolla defeated second-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-1 Wednesday and Igor Andreev rallied past Denis Istomin 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-2 to reach the Grand Prix Hassan II quarterfin­als in Casablanca, Morocco. Cipolla did not face a break point. He broke Dolgopolov’s serve twice in the first set and twice at the start of the second set. Cipolla will play Benoit Paire, who saved 12 of 14 break points in a 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-2 win vs. Matthias Bachinger. Andreev saved eight of nine break points and broke Istomin four times. He will face Guillermo Garcia-lopez, who defeated Paul-henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-2.

-Third- seeded Jelena Jankovic defeated Lau- ra Robson 6-4, 7-6 (10-8) on Wednesday to reach the second round of the e-boks Open in Copenhagen. Jankovic lost her serve five times but managed six breaks and will face Yulia Putintseva.

Broncos sign free agent Bannan

Veteran defensive tackle Justin Bannan is returning to the Denver Broncos. The 11th-year pro signed a free agent contract with his former club Wednesday. Bannan started all 16 games for the Broncos in 2010, his only year with the team, before signing last year with the St. Louis Rams; he started 14 games and collected 35 tackles and one sack. Drafted by the Buffalo Bills, Bannan has played in 144 NFL games with the Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Broncos and Rams. Defensive tackle is one of the Broncos’ biggest areas of need; they lost Brodrick Bunkley in free agency, and Ryan Mcbean faces a drug suspension to start the 2012 season, although he and linebacker D.J. Williams are suing the league to have their six-game punishment­s overturned.

-The Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year contract extension with Lance Briggs, keeping the Pro Bowl linebacker through the 2014 season. Briggs pushed for a new contract at the start of last season, but the Bears wouldn’t budge. Last year, former general manager Jerry Angelo told Briggs to leave him alone when the linebacker, who has three years left on a six-year, $36 million contract, asked for permission to seek a trade if he couldn’t get a renegotiat­ed deal before the season. Angelo was fired after an 8-8 season and replaced by Phil Emery. . . . The New York Giants signed offensive tackle Sean Locklear. He has played eight seasons in the NFL, the first seven with the Seattle Seahawks and last year with the Washington Redskins. Locklear has started 82 of his 105 regular-season games. He started every game for Seattle in 2005, including its loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl. He started four of his eight games with the Redskins last season.

Britain wants WADA to have 4-year bans

Britain’s Olympic body has urged the World Anti-doping Agency to introduce mandatory four-year bans as a minimum for positive drug tests. The current WADA code has a provision for four-year bans, but few federation­s opt to impose sanctions beyond the standard two years. The British Olympic Associatio­n has submitted its proposed changes to WADA for the revision of the code that sets out drug testing rules and sanctions across all sports and countries.

-Britain’s anti-doping agency says it has started testing internatio­nal athletes ahead of the London Olympics on July 27-Aug. 27. Informatio­n has been gathered from internatio­nal sports federation­s and national anti-doping organizati­ons to target athletes who are in Britain to train or compete. Athletes can be tested without notice.

-British lawmakers are questionin­g Heathrow Airport’s ability to cope with an influx of passengers during the Olympics. The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee is warning that long lines at immigratio­n could force planes to sit on runways or circle the airport, Europe’s busiest. Last year, Britain relaxed some passport checks during the busy summer tourist season to handle the demand.

Baffert horses top Arkansas field

Two Bob Baffert- trained horses top the field for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on Saturday, with Bodemeiste­r the favorite and Secret Circle the second choice in a field of 11 3-year-olds. Rebel Stakes winner Secret Circle was made the 5-2 second choice behind 9-5 favorite Bodemeiste­r in Wednesday’s post-position draw. Bodemeiste­r will be ridden by Mike Smith, who recently got his 5,000th win. Secret Circle, winner of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February, will be under Rafael Bejarano. Todd Pletcher also has two entries, Stat and Raconteur. Trainer Dale Romans has entered Cozetti in the prep race for the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Jon Court, who won the Arkansas Derby the last two years, will be aboard Optimizer for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

-Kent-cky Derby hopeful Hansen leads a field of 13 3-year-olds for Saturday’s $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. The near-white colt, trained by Michael Maker and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, will start from the No. 4 post as the 6-5 morning-line favorite for the 1|-mile race. Hansen, with four victories in five starts, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November and the Gotham Stakes last month. Dullahan, trained by Dale Romans, and Howe Great, trained by Graham Motion, are the second choices at 6-1. The winner will have enough graded-stakes earnings to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. The last horse to win the Blue Grass Stakes and the Kentucky Derby was Strike the Gold in 1991.

Chelsea to play MLS All-stars

Chelsea will play the Major League Soccer AllStars in Chester, Pa., on July 25 as part of the English Premier League team’s tour of the USA. MLS all-star teams faced English champion Manchester United the last two years. Chelsea played the all-stars in 2006.

-World champion Spain remained No. 1 in FIFA’S monthly rankings while the USA fell two places to No. 29.

 ?? By Mic Smith, AP ?? Not yet ready: Venus Williams is recovering from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease.
By Mic Smith, AP Not yet ready: Venus Williams is recovering from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease.

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