5 climbers attempt to scale Everest during harsh winter

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Five climbers are attempting to scale Mount Everest, battling extreme cold, high winds and piled-up snow and ice as they try to become the first to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain in the winter in 27 years, an official said Wednesday.

The climbers — three from Spain and two from Germany — are already acclimatizing around Everest’s base camp area as they wait for weather conditions to improve, said Meera Acharya of Nepal’s Department of Mountaineering.

They’re expected to be accompanied on their ascent by Nepalese Sherpa guides, but it was not yet decided how many would go up the slope with them.

While there are no rules prohibiting climbers from attempting to scale Everest during the winter, only a handful have reached the mountain’s 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) -high peak during that season. The feat was first accomplished in 1980, and has not been done since 1993.

Everest is mainly scaled during the spring climbing season in April and May, when weather conditions are favorable.

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Serena Williams to highlight Fed Cup roster for US

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Serena Williams will be part of the U.S. team for its Fed Cup qualifier against Latvia, the U.S. Tennis Association said Wednesday.

It will be the first time Williams has participated in the Fed Cup since 2018. Williams has played in 10 previous Fed Cup competitions, and is 13-0 in singles and 3-2 in doubles since her first appearance in 1999.

The U.S. will face Latvia on Feb. 7-8 in Everett, Washington. The winner will advance to the Fed Cup finals in April in Budapest, Hungary. The U.S. must finalize the rest of its roster by Jan. 28.

Williams will be seeking her 24th Grand Slam title when the Australian Open begins next week. She won her 73rd career WTA singles title last week in Auckland, New Zealand.

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Tennis stars raise millions for Australian wildfire victims

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A capacity crowd of more than 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena watched Roger Federer defeat Nick Kyrgios in a one-set finale to the Australian Open’s Rally for Relief to aid wildfire charities on Wednesday.

Tennis Australia said the night helped raise nearly 5 million Australian dollars ($3.5 million) for the victims of recent and ongoing fires in Australia that have killed 28 people and destroyed several thousands homes, most of them in New South Wales and Victoria states.

Smoke haze from the continuing fires has played havoc with scheduling of the first two days of qualifying at Melbourne Park, delaying play by several hours and prompting complaints from players over the air quality.

Other players who took part included Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Alexander Zverev. On several occasions, volunteer fire personnel were invited on the court to play against the tennis stars.

The fund-raising efforts, which includes various amounts for aces served during the tournament and the sale of merchandise donated by players, will continue when the Australian Open begins on Monday.

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Kerber out of Adelaide International with lower back injury

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber sustained a lower back injury and retired from her Adelaide International match on Wednesday.

The former world No. 1 trailed 6-2, 2-0 in her match against Dayana Yastremska when she stopped playing. Kerber, who won the Australian Open in 2016 and also has Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles, had on-court medical help for the injury and then retired.

Kerber lost in the first round to Sam Stosur last week at the Brisbane International.

In other second-round women’s matches in Adelaide, Donna Vekic beat Maria Sakkari 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 and American Danielle Collins upset her seventh-seeded compatriot Sofia Kenin 6-3 6-1, to secure a quarterfinal spot.

In the men’s ATP tournament at the same venue, third-seeded Andrey Rublev beat Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-3.