Rybakina tops Azarenka to make Australian Open women’s final
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has reached her second final in the past three Grand Slam tournaments by beating Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the Australian Open. Azarenka was the champion at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013. She joins a list of players eliminated by Rybakina over the past two weeks that includes No. 1 Iga Swiatek, No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins. Rybakina won with her powerful serve and stinging groundstrokes. She hit nine aces. Rybakina will take on either No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus or unseeded Magda Linette of Poland in Saturday’s final.
Hurts, Jefferson, Mahomes among AP NFL MVP finalists
Jalen Hurts, Justin Jefferson and Patrick Mahomes are finalists for The Associated Press 2022 NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards. The winners will be announced at NFL Honors on Feb. 9. A nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league completed voting before the start of the playoffs. Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Bengals QB Joe Burrow also are finalists for MVP. San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones and Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons are the finalists for AP Defensive Player of the Year.
Lillard has season-high 60 points, Blazers beat Jazz 134-124
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard scored a season-high 60 points, hitting nine 3-pointers, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Utah Jazz 134-124 on Wednesday night. Lillard tied for second-most in the NBA this season. Donovan Mitchell had 71 in an overtime game for Cleveland against Chicago on Jan. 3, and Luka Doncic scored 60 in Dallas’ OT victory over New York on Dec. 27. Jerami Grant added 19 points to help Portland win its second straight game. Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 24 points. He had a layup followed by a tip shot with 5:20 left that got Utah to 115-108.
Poole beats buzzer with layup, lifts Warriors past Grizzlies
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jordan Poole made the winning layup with a second remaining to cap a crazy, back-and-forth final minute, and the Golden State Warriors fought back to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 122-120 on Wednesday night. Brandon Clarke had a tying dunk with 6.3 seconds left for Memphis on a pass from Ja Morant after Klay Thompson’s 3-pointer with 14.6 remaining put the Warriors ahead. Thompson then missed a rushed baseline jumper with five seconds to play, but Golden State got the ball out of bounds. Stephen Curry outdueled Morant and scored 34 points before being ejected with 1:14 remaining in another thrilling game between the rivals who played last year in the Western Conference semifinals won by the Warriors.
Davis scores 21 points in return as Lakers defeat Spurs
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 21 points in his return from a right foot injury, LeBron James added 20 and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-104. Davis was 7 of 15 from the field and also had 12 rebounds in 26 minutes for his 19th double-double in 26 games played this season. Patrick Beverley scored a season high 18 and Rui Hachimura added 12 in his Lakers debut. Keldon Johnson had 25 points and Zach Collins scored 16 for San Antonio, which has won just five times in 22 road games.
Chiefs’ Mahomes to practice as usual on sprained ankle
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes went through a morning walkthrough Wednesday and intends to practice as usual, raising expectations that the All-Pro quarterback will not be slowed by his sprained right ankle in this weekend’s AFC title game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Mahomes said the injury is similar to one he played through early in the 2019 season, when he came back the following week to throw four touchdown passes in a win over the Raiders. The only difference is it’s the opposite ankle. The Chiefs and Bengals play Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Hurts puts MVP talk behind him, focuses on NFC title game
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is humbled by being a finalist for the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. But Hurts is keeping his focus on leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl. The Eagles will host the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. No Eagle has won MVP since QB Norm Van Brocklin in 1960. Hurts continues to brush off concerns he’s still bothered by his sprained right shoulder. He says: “I’ve felt better, but it doesn’t really matter.” Hurts says, “I’ve got to get it done.”
Purdy goes from ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ to brink of Super Bowl
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Brock Purdy’s NFL career started with the moniker of “Mr. Irrelevant” and the weeklong trip to Newport Beach to celebrate the player picked last in the draft. With one more win, Purdy’s rookie season in the NFL will end on the brightest stage of all as a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl for the San Francisco 49ers. It’s been an improbable nine-month journey from the trip to Disneyland, golf tournament, and a roast where he received the Lowsman Trophy as the last draft pick to the NFC title game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Purdy will try to become the first rookie quarterback ever to reach the Super Bowl.
Rahm struggles to 1-over 73 in 1st round at Torrey Pines
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jon Rahm struggled to a 1-over 73 at Torrey Pines South while Sam Ryder, Aaron Rai and Brent Grant all shot 8-under 64 on the more forgiving North Course to tie for the first-round lead at the Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm is ranked No. 3 in the world and trying for his third win in as many starts. He made a double bogey on the par-4 seventh hole and was continually left frustrated on the harder South Course. Rahm earned his first PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines in 2017 and then won the U.S. Open on the South Course in 2021.
Scattered by war, Ukrainian preteens head to hockey tourney
MONTREAL (AP) — Sean Bérubé said he thought it was a joke when he was first asked to help assemble a team of Ukrainian preteen refugees, displaced by war and spread out across Europe, to play in a renowned Quebec City hockey tournament. Bérubé was having a beer in Bucharest last March with Evgheniy Pysarenko, whom he played hockey with in Ukraine as a teenager. Pysarenko requested a favor from Bérubé. That favor morphed into a mission, culminating with a group of 11- and 12-year-olds from Ukraine playing in the Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament.