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Nadal Exits Australian Open With Bad Stomach

Madrid — Rafael Nadal will miss the Australian Open because of a stomach virus, further delaying his comeback after being sidelined since June.

The Spaniard also will skip the preceding Qatar Open. The Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, begins Jan. 14. The virus kept Nadal from making his return at Abu Dhabi this week.

Nadal said yesterday his withdrawals had nothing to do with the tendinitis in his left knee, which forced him to take a break last summer following his second-round loss at Wimbledon to then 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol. Nadal also missed the London Olympics.

“My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors,” Nadal said in a statement. “But this virus didn’t allow me to practice this past week, and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open.”

The former No. 1 player hopes to return at Acapulco, Mexico, starting Feb. 27. However, he did not rule out playing an earlier tournament if his recovery went well enough.

“I always said that my return to competition will be when I am in the right conditions to play,” he said. “And after all this time away from the courts I’d rather not accelerate the comeback and prefer to do things well.”

Nadal, ranked No. 4, won the Australian Open in 2009. Last year, he lost to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in a title match that lasted 5 hours, 53 minutes, the longest recorded Grand Slam final.

College Football

Texas Players Suspended

Texas has sent home backup quarterback Case McCoy and injured linebacker Jordan Hicks from the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio for violating team rules, a person with knowledge of the suspensions told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the school wasn’t releasing the names of the suspended players. The person said the players broke curfew.

Coach Mack Brown addressed the situation during a previously scheduled news conference yesterday and referred to a KENS-TV report that police were investigating two unidentified Texas players in an alleged sexual assault at a San Antonio hotel.

Nevada Coach Retires

Reno, Nevada — Chris Ault raised Nevada football. After 28 years as coach, he felt he had taken the Wolf Pack as far as he could. Ault announced yesterday he was stepping down.

The 66-year-old won 10 conference championships and took the Wolf Pack to the postseason 16 times, including 10 bowl games in 12 FBS seasons. He finished with a record of 233-109-1.

Perhaps his most famous contribution came late in his career, when he invented the Pistol offense in 2005, a scheme now employed by hundreds of teams at every level of football.

The Pistol formation has the quarterback in a short shot-gun formation with a running back lined up directly behind him.

Ohio U. Wins
Independence Bowl

Shreveport, La. — Tyler Tettleton threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, Beau Blankenship ran for four scores, and Ohio cruised to a 45-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe at the Independence Bowl yesterday.

Chase Cochran caught three passes for 162 yards and a touchdown as the Bobcats (9-4) won their second straight bowl game.

Louisiana-Monroe (8-5) struggled in its first bowl game after 19 seasons in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Kolton Browning completed 21 of 39 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw three first-half interceptions.

Va. Tech Prevails in OT

Orlando, Fla. — Cody Journell kicked a 22-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime to help Virginia Tech beat Rutgers 13-10 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Virginia Tech (7-6) won its third straight game to avoid its first losing season since 1992.

Rutgers (9-4) had a chance to tie it in overtime, but Nick Borgese missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt to the right.

Virginia Tech trailed 10-0 at the half, then rallied in the final 30 minutes thanks to some timely turnovers and offense. Quarterback Logan Thomas struggled in the first and finished with a pair of interceptions, but also had 192 passing yards and the game’s only passing touchdown.

NFL Football

Saints, Coach Reach Deal

New Orleans — Suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has agreed in principle to a multiyear contract extension, two people familiar with the deal said.

The people told The Associated Press about the deal yesterday on condition of anonymity because it hasn’t been signed and final details regarding the length of the contract and financial compensation are still being worked out.

The agreement was first reported by Fox Sports.

Payton was due to begin his seventh season as the Saints’ head coach in 2012 before being suspended the whole season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation.

Payton signed an extension in 2011, but Goodell objected to certain language in that deal, leaving Payton’s future uncertain until the deal was reached yesterday.

Raiders Turn to New QB

Alameda, Calif. — Terrelle Pryor will make his first career start at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders in their season finale in San Diego.

Coach Dennis Allen announced yesterday that he is picking Pryor to start tomorrow’s game in place of the injured Carson Palmer. Pryor and Matt Leinart had been splitting time in practice earlier this week but Allen decided to go with the younger Pryor.

Rex Refutes Report

Florham Park, n.j. — No matter what, Rex Ryan wants to be the New York Jets coach for years to come.

He opened his news conference yesterday by denouncing a published report that said he would welcome being fired if owner Woody Johnson doesn’t upgrade the offense.

He said: “There’s no bigger Jet than me.”

He also said the Jets are the “only team I want to coach — period.” He hoped to be in the job “for the next 15 years.”

With the Jets (6-9) out of the playoffs for the second straight season, Ryan’s job status has become tenuous in his fourth year. But Ryan says he was “mad as a hornet” when he read the story, and immediately called Johnson to deny it.

Mixed Martial Arts

Big Rematch on Tap

Their first fight was a seminal moment in UFC history, even if it only lasted 64 seconds.

Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez figure their rematch tonight will be longer, more taxing and more decisive in determining mixed martial arts’ best heavyweight.

Dos Santos defends the championship belt he took from Velasquez 13 months ago when they meet in the main event of UFC 155 in Las Vegas.

Last year, Dos Santos abruptly dropped Velasquez with one equilibrium-destroying punch to the head, putting an early end on the UFC’s landmark debut fight on network television.

Velasquez has been stewing on his first MMA defeat ever since, determined to regain his title. He also refuses to blame the loss on a knee injury in training last year.