Hobbled by an ankle injury and on crutches three weeks ago, Roger Federer did something practically unheard of -- he lost a match.
The top-seeded Swiss star came within two points of a third consecutive Tennis Masters Cup triumph before losing in five sets to David Nalbandian yesterday in Shanghai.
Federer, who had not lost in 24 finals, was beaten, 6-7 (7-4), 6-7 (13-11), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), for only his fourth defeat this year. Nalbandian ended Federer's 35-match winning streak and his bid to equal John McEnroe's 21-year-old mark of 82-3 for the best winning percentage in a season in the Open era.
"Roger, don't worry, it's not your last final," the eighth-seeded Argentine joked.
"I feel like I've had a great year and a great tournament," Federer said. "Disappointment is always there, because I don't lose very often. . . . I still get that feeling. It's good like this."
Federer rallied from 0-4 in the final set and was serving for the match at 6-5 and 30-0 before Nalbandian broke back to force a tiebreaker. Nalbandian earned three match points when Federer sent a shot into the net and clinched the 41/2-hour match when Federer netted a forehand.
* GOLF: A limping Tiger Woods overcame a sore ankle to successfully defend his title at the Dunlop Phoenix in Miyazaki, Japan, by winning the fourth hole of playoff with Japan's Kaname Yokoo.
Woods reached the green at the par-5 18th -- the fourth playoff hole -- in two shots and two-putted for birdie for his seventh victory of the year. Yokoo's 12-foot birdie putt lipped the cup.
Woods said his ankle has been bothering him for about a month and the cold weather in Japan made it worse.
Woods finished regulation with a 2-over-par 72 while Yokoo had a 69, leaving both at 8-under-par 272. . . .
Annika Sorenstam closed the year with her 10th victory, holding off a charge from Liselotte Neumann with a 12-foot birdie on the 16th hole to give her the cushion she needed at the ADT Championship in West Palm Beach, Fla.
She finished at 3-under-par 69 for a two-stroke victory over Neumann. . . .
Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge of Wales won the World Cup of golf in Vilamoura, Portugal, after the final round was called off amid heavy rain and gusting wind.
* COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson, who was ejected late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to Boston College, will not miss next week's game at N.C. State, Coach Ralph Friedgen said. Wilson was ejected for attempting to kick a Boston College player, but the official did not eject Wilson for fighting, which would have triggered a suspension. Friedgen also said his starting quarterback was still Sam Hollenbach, who had three turnovers Saturday and continues to play with torn ligaments in his left shoulder.
* COLLEGE SOCCER: Jess Rostedt and Shannon Foley scored goals as Virginia advanced to the NCAA women's soccer tournament quarterfinals for the first time in four years with a 2-1 victory over Cal State Fullerton (19-4-0) in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers (18-5-1) will play at UCLA (20-1-2) at 9 p.m. Friday.
* PRO BASKETBALL: Los Angeles Lakers forward Kwame Brown is expected to be out for up to two weeks because of a strained right hamstring.
Brown was injured in the third quarter of the Lakers' 97-91 loss to the Clippers on Friday night.
-- From News Services
and Staff Reports