2-time Australian champ Azarenka tops Pegula, talks anxiety
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Victoria Azarenka has defeated Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-1 to reach the Australian Open semifinals for the first time in a decade. Azarenka displayed the same confident brand of hard-hitting baseline tennis that carried her to championships at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013. Azarenka’s semifinal opponent will be reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. She beat 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4. Karen Khachanov moved into his first Australian Open semifinal when Sebastian Korda stopped playing in the third set because of an injured right wrist. Khachanov will face No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a berth in the final.
Cowboys’ last-ditch plays against Niners never have a prayer
Two years in a row the Dallas Cowboys have flubbed their last-ditch drives against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. Last year, Dak Prescott ran too far on a quarterback draw and handed the ball to his center instead of the umpire. Time expired before he could get off one more play for a Hail Mary. This time, it was those around him who made the mistakes. Coach Mike McCarthy mismanaged the clock and tight end Dalton Schultz had two big blunders on the final drive that ended with a bizarre gadget play that failed spectacularly.
Analysis: Trying to play good NBA defense ‘wild, hot mess’
DENVER (AP) — Someone will win Defensive Player of the Year this spring, even after a season where no one seems to be able to stop or even slow down anyone with the ball. It’s almost certain that more players will average 20 points per game than ever before. A decade ago, there were a dozen or so players. This season, 50 isn’t out of the question. Players still are playing defense in the NBA. Really, they are. But a combination of rule changes, style-of-play alterations, the ongoing addiction to the 3-point shot and more all adds up to the game favoring the offensive player. Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle adeptly described trying to guard anyone in the NBA these days as a “wild, hot mess.”
Scandals highlight lack of women coaches at top of US soccer
Few women are coaching at the top of American soccer — a result of how the sport offers scarce opportunities for female players and imposes a high price on coaching licenses. The shortage of qualified women was highlighted by a glut of vacancies created by men who were pushed out of the sport. When scandal rocked the National Women’s Soccer League in 2021, five male coaches were dismissed or forced to resign because of misconduct or harassment. Today, just three women hold head coaching jobs in the 12-team league. Five coaches, all men, are embarking on their first season with their teams this year.
Shiffrin leads 1st run of GS as she chases record win No. 83
SAN VIGILIO DI MAREBBE, Italy (AP) — Mikaela Shiffrin holds a slim lead after the first run of a giant slalom and is in position for a record-breaking 83rd World Cup win. Shiffrin currently shares the women’s record of 82 wins with former American teammate Lindsey Vonn. Shiffrin is 0.13 seconds ahead of world champion Lara Gut-Behrami and 0.27 ahead of home favorite Federica Brignone at the Kronplatz resort in San Vigilio. Petra Vlhova was 1.01 back with Olympic champion Sara Hector nearly two seconds behind. The second run starts at 1:30 p.m.
Antetokounmpo scores 29 in return, Bucks top Pistons 150-130
DETROIT (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 20 of his 29 points in the first quarter, returning to the lineup after a five-game absence to lead the Milwaukee Bucks in a 150-130 win over the Detroit Pistons. The two-time MVP was joined by three-time All-Star Khris Middleton, putting the Bucks’ prolific duo in the same lineup for the first time in more than a month. Antetokounmpo had been out with a sore left knee. Middleton hadn’t played since Dec. 15 due to a sore right knee. He had eight points and four assists. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 33 points for the Pistons.
Green scores career-high 42, Rockets end 13-game skid
HOUSTON (AP) — Jalen Green scored a career-high 42 points and the Houston Rockets held on for a 119-114 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves to snap a 13-game losing streak. Green, the second overall pick in the 2021 draft, had 21 points by halftime and kept up his strong play in the second half to lead the Rockets to their first victory since Dec. 26 at Chicago. They ended their longest skid of the season and also a 10-game home losing streak, winning at home for the first time since Dec. 13 against Phoenix. Anthony Edwards had 31 points and D’Angelo Russell tied a season high with 30 for the Timberwolves, who had won two straight.
Lakers acquire Rui Hachimura from Wizards for Nunn, picks
The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired former lottery pick Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kendrick Nunn and a package of second-round draft picks. Hachimura and the Wizards didn’t agree on a rookie extension before the season started. That prompted speculation that the Japanese power forward wouldn’t be in their long-term plans.
Sharpe apologizes for actions during Grizzlies-Lakers game
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hall of Fame football player Shannon Sharpe apologized after getting into a heated courtside conversation with Memphis Grizzlies players Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks and Morant’s father during Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Fox Sports personality issued the apology Monday during the “Undisputed” show with Skip Bayless. Sharpe exchanged words with Brooks throughout the first half and then yelled at Morant on the final possession of the second quarter. After the halftime buzzer sounded, Brooks yelled at Sharpe and Sharpe motioned toward Brooks. Tee Morant, Ja Morant’s father, also got involved in the conversation before security at Crypto.com Arena separated everyone.
Arte Moreno takes Angels off market, will continue as owner
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno has decided not to sell the team. Moreno has announced he is taking his franchise off the market. The 76-year-old owner announced his plan to explore a sale of the team last August, and he met with interested buyers during the winter. Moreno says he has unfinished business with the Angels, who haven’t won a playoff game since 2009. Moreno bought the franchise in 2003. The Angels currently have the majors’ longest streaks with seven straight losing seasons and eight straight non-playoff seasons.