In Brief | Nation and World Feb. 11
Nadal loses to Zeballos in Chile final
VINA DEL MAR, Chile — Rafael Nadal lost the singles and doubles finals at the VTR Open on Sunday in a disappointing finish to his comeback tournament after being sidelined for seven months with a left knee injury.
Nadal was beaten by Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos in three sets in the singles final. Then Nadal and partner Juan Monaco lost 6-2, 6-4 in the doubles championship against the Italian pair of Paolo Lorenzi and Potito Starace.
Nadal was an overwhelming favorite, particularly in singles where he was shooting for this 37th singles title on clay. But Zeballos won 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-4 for his first title on any surface, looking every bit the equal of the seven-time French Open champion.
It was only the fifth loss for Nadal in a singles final on clay.
US loses to Italy in 1st round of Fed Cup
RIMINI, Italy — The United States was eliminated in the first round of the Fed Cup, losing to Italy 3-2 Sunday when Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci defeated Varvara Lepchenko and Liezel Huber in the decisive doubles match.
Errani and Vinci, the top-ranked doubles team, won 6-2, 6-2 against an understrength American team. The U.S. was without Serena and Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens because of injuries.
The U.S. led 2-1 after Lepchenko beat Errani 7-5, 6-2 in Sunday’s first reverse singles. But Vinci stopped Jamie Hampton 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to set up the crucial doubles for Errani and Vinci, who ended the best-of-five World Group series.
Italy will host defending champion Czech Republic in the semifinals, a rematch of last year’s semis. The Czech Republic defeated visiting Australia 4-0.
In the other semifinal, it’s Slovakia at Russia. Slovakia topped host Serbia 3-2, and host Russia downed Japan 3-2.
Cilic wins Zagreb Indoors, beats Melzer 6-3, 6-1
ZAGREB, Croatia — Top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia defeated Jurgen Melzer of Austria 6-3, 6-1 Sunday to win the Zagreb Indoors for the third time.
Cilic, who also won the tournament in 2009 and 2010, captured his ninth career title and improved his record to 17-4 in Zagreb.
Cilic converted four of 12 break points. He broke early for a 2-0 lead and again to lead 5-3 in the first set. Melzer won just one more game by the end of the match.
Gasquet beats Paire in Montpellier final
MONTPELLIER, France — Frenchman Richard Gasquet beat compatriot Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-3 Sunday in the Open Sud de France final for his second title this season.
Gasquet broke Paire twice for a 5-2 lead and took the opening set when a backhand return from Paire sailed wide. The third-seeded Frenchman dropped serve once in the second set, but broke Paire three times. He clinched victory when Paire netted a backhand.
It is Gasquet’s ninth career singles title. He also won the Qatar Open in January.
Paire was appearing in only his second final on the main tour. He was runner-up in Belgrade last year, losing in straight sets to Andreas Seppi of Italy.
Mark Lowe agrees to minor league deal with Dodgers
LOS ANGELES — Mark Lowe and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a minor league contract, giving the team another bullpen option in spring training.
The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-2 with a 3.43 ERA in 36 relief appearances for the Texas Rangers last year, when he didn’t pitch in the major leagues from June 25 to Aug. 10 because of a strained muscle in his right side.
He will compete for a job in a crowded bullpen as the high-spending Dodgers try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
His agreement was announced Friday.
Freese gets $3.15M under 1-year deal with Cards
ST. LOUIS — Former World Series MVP David Freese will earn $3.15 million under his one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, nearly six times the $518,000 he made last year.
A St. Louis County native, Freese hit .283 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs last season and earned his first All-Star appearance.
He was eligible for arbitration for the first time.
Freese, MVP of the 2011 World Series win over Texas, had asked for $3.75 million and had been offered $2.4 million when players and teams exchanged arbitration figures last month.
Friday’s agreement made Freese the final player to settle among the three Cardinals who filed for arbitration.
By wire sources