National Sports Briefs: Murray keeps on winning
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. ó Andy Murray hit second serves for aces, slipped passing shots through the narrowest openings and rarely made a mistake.
It was a performance worthy of a trophy, and Murray became the first Brit to win the Sony Ericsson Open by defeating Novak Djokovic 6-2, 7-5 Sunday.
The Scotsman used his vast repertoire of shots and took advantage of two wobbly stretches by Djokovic, who struggled with the 85-degree heat.
It was a matchup between Nos. 3 and 4, instead of the anticipated showdown between Nos. 1 and 2. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal lost in the quarterfinals to Juan Martin del Potro, and Djokovic upset Roger Federer in the semifinals.
Lately Murray has won more than anyone. He’s the first three-time titlist this year on the men’s tour thanks to a career-best 26-2 start, and since July his record is 57-7, best on the tour.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ó Ryan Briscoe held off Ryan Hunter-Reay to win the IndyCar Series season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday.
Briscoe, driving for Team Penske, passed Justin Wilson for the lead on a restart 14 laps from the end of the crash-filled Honda Grand Prix. The Aussie then stayed out front as Hunter-Reay, driving on the new softer alternate tires that provide more grip, also got past Wilson and tried to chase the him down.
There was one last restart on the slick 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit, but Briscoe was able to fend off a strong move by Hunter-Reay, who only got his ride with Vision Racing on Monday.
Briscoe was relieved to get to the finish of the 100-lap event after crashing out here in his two previous starts ó the first with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005 and then last year, his first season with Roger Penske’s team.
“Finally,” Briscoe said as he emerged from his No. 6 Dallara-Honda after getting his third IndyCar win. “This place has been bad to me. It feels so good to finally get to the end of this race.
“And it’s great to start off the year like this.”
LAS VEGAS ó Tony Schumacher raced to his second straight Top Fuel victory and third in a row in Las Vegas, beating Brandon Bernstein in the SummitRacing.com Nationals final Sunday with a 3.874-second run at 311.77 mph.
“I didn’t do a good job of driving. The team won it today,” Schumacher said. “I didn’t do as good of a job as last weekend and they won it for me.”
The five-time defending Top Fuel champion, the winner last week in Houston, moved him into first place in the season standings after five events with 412 points, 20 more than second-place Antron Brown. Bernstein dropped to third with 388 points.
MONTREAL ó Timothy Bradley got up from a first-round knockdown to score a unanimous decision over Kendall Holt and unify two titles in the light welterweight division early Sunday morning.
Bradley (24-0) added Holt’s WBO title to his own WBC belt in the unification bout between two Americans. Holt dropped to 25-3.
SANTA ANITA, Calif. ó Pioneer of the Nile and I Want Revenge are headed to next month’s Kentucky Derby as early favorites. The Pamplemousse won’t be joining them in Louisville.
The colt with the three-race winning streak will be sidelined indefinitely because of a lesion in his left front leg, which will keep him out of the May 2 Derby.
The Pamplemousse was scratched hours before Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, in which he was the 9-5 morning line favorite. Pioneerof the Nile went on to win by a length in Arcadia, Calif.
CHICAGO ó It may be the biggest Chicago road trip since the Blues Brothers hit town ó the International Olympic Committee’s tour of sites where the city wants to hold the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Members of the IOC inspection team were driven on Sunday to existing facilities, like Soldier Field, and to the sites of those still on the drawing board, like the Olympic Stadium.
It is arguably the most important day of their nearly weeklong visit, which ends Tuesday, for the simple reason that it gives organizers the chance to drive home a key point of their bid ó that Chicago’s Olympics would be a compact affair.