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National Sports Briefs: Serena advances in Sydney

Associated Press
SYDNEY, Australia ó Serena Williams and Dinara Safina made short work of second-round opponents Tuesday to move into the quarterfinals at the Sydney International.
Williams, who was stretched to three sets and saved four match points in her opening match against Samantha Stosur of Australia, beat Sara Errani 6-1, 6-2 in 50 minutes Tuesday.
Her win at Ken Rosewall Arena, the center court at the Olympic Park Tennis Centre, came moments after Safina finished off a 6-3, 6-0 win over Vera Dushevina in just over an hour on Court 1.
– MELBOURNE, Australiaó Roger Federer needed only 57 minutes for a 6-2, 6-3 win over Carlos Moya on Wednesday to begin his final tuneup tournament for the Australian Open.
Federer, bidding to equal Pete Sampras’ record 14 Grand Slam singles titles, was off target with some forehands initially but quickly found his rhythm in the breezy conditions.
BRRRR
ST. PAUL, Minn. ó The St. Paul Saints are planning to play outside, and they’re not waiting for spring.The independent minor league team announced its latest oddball promotion on Wednesday, a charity game that will pit current and past Saints players against a collection of celebrities in a five-inning contest at Midway Stadium on Feb. 28.
Admission won’t be charged, and proceeds from concession stands will be donated to local food shelf Second Harvest Heartland. Donations from fans are encouraged.
NASCAR
DENVER ó Regan Smith, last year’s top rookie in the Sprint Cup Series, will drive for Furniture Row Racing in 2009.
Smith will drive the No. 78 Chevrolet beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500.
– CHARLOTTE ó The president of Toyota Racing Development said Wednesday he expects budget cuts in its NASCAR program as the Japanese automaker feels the effects of the global economic crisis.
Typically immune from the declining sales that have rocked Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota recently said it anticipates its first yearly operating loss in 70 years for the fiscal year ending March 2009.
– CHARLOTTE ó Elliott Sadler called almost losing his job at Gillett Evernham Motorsports “gut-wrenching,” but said the two sides have moved past the near-split.
Sadler said Wednesday that he learned through a sponsor late last month that GEM planned to replace him with AJ Allmendinger. Last week, a day after agreeing to merge with Petty Enterprises, GEM officials announced Sadler will be in his No. 19 Dodge this coming season.
– CHARLOTTE ó Max Siegel will leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. at the end of the month to manage the Drive for Diversity program, which aims to develop minority and female drivers in NASCAR. Siegel spent the last two seasons as head of global operations for DEI.

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