Rafael Nadal announced Friday that a stomach virus will keep him out of next month’s Australian Open and he probably won’t play again until the end of February. The Spaniard said he needs time to recover from an illness that already prevented him from coming back this week in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. Nadal has been sidelined since June with a knee injury, which forced him to miss the London Olympics and US Open . . . Top-ranked Novak Djokovic routed David Ferrer, 6-0, 6-3, to reach the final of the World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. Djokovic will face Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in the final. A last-minute replacement for Nadal, Almagro rallied from a set down to beat Janko Tipsarevic, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, in the second semifinal.
Cleared coach refuses reassignment
Todd Hoffner, the coach at Minnesota State (Mankato) University who was cleared of child pornography charges last month, has no intention to accept the school’s reassignment as the school’s assistant athletic director for facilities development, his attorney said. Chris Madel told the Star Tribune that he and his client “intend to fight the university until Mr. Hoffner is restored as head coach of the successful football team he created.’’ The school announced the reassignment late Friday night . . . After 28 years as Nevada coach, Chris Ault announced he is stepping down. The 66-year-old finished with a record of 233-109-1. He invented the Pistol offense in 2005, a scheme employed by hundreds of teams at every level of football . . . Oklahoma suspended defensive tackle Stacy McGee after he was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol on Christmas Eve. Coach Bob Stoops said McGee wouldn’t travel with the Sooners for the Cotton Bowl . . . Patrick Grant, a former Louisville defensive lineman, sued the school and coach Charlie Strong and said he was coerced into covering up a beating by teammates Jacob and Isaac Geffard. Grant alleges he was attacked Oct. 24, 2010, in the locker room and that he, according to the lawsuit, was beat ‘‘so badly that he required immediate, urgent care and nearly lost his left eye.’’ Grant said that, while on the way to the hospital, the team’s trainer told him to ‘‘lie and cover up the fact that his injuries were at the hands of his teammates.’’ The Geffards were dismissed from the team in November 2010 and are no longer enrolled.
Cavs’ Varejao (knee) still not ready
Cleveland center Anderson Varejao will miss at least two more games with a bruised right knee. The league-leading rebounder has missed four games since being hurt Dec. 18 against Toronto . . . Jamaal Wilkes’s jersey was retired by the Lakers. Wilkes won three titles with LA and one with Golden State . . . The Heat said the team doesn’t agree with the one-game suspension given to Dwyane Wade for making contact with Charlotte’s Ramon Sessions this week.
Former champ Benitez hospitalized
Retired Puerto Rican boxing great Wilfred Benitez was hospitalized in San Juan after family members worried he might have had a stroke. Yvonne Benitez said that her brother will remain under observation for 72 hours. She said the 54-year-old former fighter is doing well. He is the youngest ever to win a world title, at 17 years old, but has struggled with traumatic brain injuries . . . Former Red Sox pitcher Ugueth Urbina signed with the Lions of Caracas in his native Venezuela after serving 7½ years in prison for the attempted murder of five workers on his family’s ranch . . . In Semmering, Austria, Anna Fenninger had two near-perfect runs to win a World Cup giant slalom, while second-place Tina Maze extended her lead in the overall standings. American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin finished eighth. Defending overall champion Lindsey Vonn, recovering from an illnes, skipped the race . . . Heather Richardson won the women’s 500 meters with the fastest time in the world this year at the US Long Track Championships in Kearns, Utah, while Mitch Whitmore took the men’s sprint title. Richardson set a national mark of 37.51 seconds in her first race, then lowered it to 37.34 . . . UFC president Dana White said if he instituted year-round, random drug testing, over 80 percent of his fighters would be suspended for marijuana . . . Andrei Makarov made 41 saves as host Russia beat the US, 2-1, at the world junior ice hockey championships in Ufa.