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Nadal Looks to Recover Extra Spark in 2012

Rafael Nadal says his game this year has been too predictable and he has sometimes lacked drive on court -- weaknesses he plans to overcome for Wimbledon and the 2012 Olympics.

"With the years, you lose a bit of intensity. Intensity in your self-belief, concentration, being positive, believing things will go well -- those are in the mind. With the years you lose that a bit," he told the Spanish daily El Pais in an interview published Monday.

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Figure Skating: Plushenko Grabs the Lead at Russian Championship

Turin Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushenko enjoyed a lively start at the Russian figure skating championships, which started at Saransk on Sunday, clinching the lead after the short program.

The 29-year-old three-time world champion, who finished second behind Evan Lysacek at the Vancouver Olympics, earned 88.24 points for his short program presentation, just three points less than his personal best mark.

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Celtics Sign France's Pietrus

The Boston Celtics signed swingman Mickael Pietrus after the former first-round pick from France cleared waivers on Saturday night.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Pietrus is expected to fill a void left by the departure of Jeff Green, who is out for the season with a heart problem.

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Fabregas: Barca, Arsenal Only Clubs for Me

Cesc Fabregas said Sunday he hopes to finish his career with Barcelona, but if he were to leave the Spanish giants he'd only go back to Arsenal and nowhere else.

"Apart from Arsenal and Barcelona, I don't see myself playing anywhere else," the 24-year-old told Sky Sports News.

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Villas-Boas Praises 'Exceptional' Lampard

Frank Lampard was described as "exceptional" by Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas on Sunday despite the Portuguese coach leaving the veteran England midfielder out of the last three big games.

The 33-year-old will return to the side on Monday after Ramires picked up his fifth domestic booking of the season at White Hart Lane in the 1-1 draw against Spurs in midweek.

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Heat too Good for Mavericks as NBA Begins

The Miami Heat took a small measure of revenge for losing last season's NBA finals series to Dallas by beating the Mavericks 105-94 on Christmas Day as the new campaign got off to its belated start.

After months of labor and legal disputes, the 2011-12 season finally began and Miami laid down a marker of its championship credentials.

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Disabled Fans to Receive Free World Cup Tickets

Former playing greats Romario and Ronaldo have announced a plan to donate 32,000 free tickets to disabled fans to watch matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Romario, a World Cup winner in 1994 who has since been elected to the Brazilian parliament, had requested the free tickets from the organizing committee. The former Brazil striker, who has a daughter with Down syndrome, had tears in his eyes as he announced the giveaway Friday.

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Man United Hoping to Turn up Heat on City

Almost halfway through the Premier League season and there is already seven points separating Manchester rivals City and United from the chasing pack.

"At this point in time everyone thinks it is going to be a one-two for the city (of Manchester)," United manager Alex Ferguson said Friday. "But things change. You only need to go back over the years to see how dramatic our league can be. Lose a game in this league and all the rest get a pickup and start chasing harder."

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Giggs Ready to Discuss New United Deal

Evergreen Ryan Giggs will shortly discuss his Old Trafford future with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, buoyed by still delivering high standard performances at the age of 38.

Ferguson described the Welshman's contribution to United's 5-0 win at Fulham in midweek as "incredible", and it also featured the midfielder's first Premier League goal of the season.

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Sharapova out of Brisbane Event with Ankle Injury

Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the Brisbane International because of her continuing recovery from a left ankle injury first suffered at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo in September.

Sharapova told Brisbane tournament officials in a statement released Saturday that "unfortunately my ankle is not 100 percent and I won't be able to make it this year." It would have been her first appearance at the Brisbane event which begins Jan. 1.

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