National Sports Briefs
The NFL roundup …
MELBOURNE, Australia ó Andy Murray doesn’t have to worry about Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal this time. He is hardly in the clear, however, as he goes for his first major title.
Murray won his Australian Open semifinal, defeating David Ferrer 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1, 7-6 (2). Next in line is 2008 champion and longtime friend Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.
There is also, of course, there’s that long, long British drought. Fred Perry was the last British man to win a one of the four majors ó way back in 1936. More than 270 Grand Slam tournaments have been contested in almost 75 years since Perry’s victory, when Britain had a King and an empire.
On the women’s side, there will be a first-time Australian Open winner. Kim Clijsters goes for her fourth Grand Slam title today, but first outside the United States. She takes on China’s Li Na, who can become the first Asian to win a Grand Slam tournament.
Li already has broken new ground as the first Chinese to reach a Grand Slam singles final. Now she is hoping to go one better after eliminating top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals.
MOBILE, Ala. ó Jake Locker could easily have skipped the Senior Bowl, just as he might have bypassed being a senior altogether.
The former Washington Huskies star is among the candidates to be the first quarterback selected in the NFL draft after an up-and-down senior season. Instead of weighing the risk-reward of a top-tier passer competing in an all-star game with scouts, coaches and team executives scrutinizing your every pass and move, Locker thought it was a no-brainer to play in Saturday’s game for senior NFL prospects.
“I just love playing football,” Locker said. “It’s an awesome game, and just the opportunity to come play against the best college players. It’s an awesome opportunity.”
Regarded as a potential No. 1 overall pick after his junior season, Locker now is vying with underclassmen Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Mallett to get the nod as the top quarterback taken in April.
IOWA CITY, Iowa ó Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Friday that five of the 13 players hospitalized this week with a muscle disorder following grueling offseason workouts are being discharged.
Ferentz said in a statement that he’s looking forward to the release of the eight remaining players “in the days ahead.”
The coach hasn’t spoken to reporters since the school announced Tuesday that the players had been hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, a stress-induced syndrome that can damage cells and cause kidney problems.
NEW YORK ó LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat are headed to the NBA All-Star game together, and Derrick Rose gave the Chicago Bulls their first starter since Michael Jordan.
They will be joined in the Eastern Conference starting lineup by Amare Stoudemire, who will become the first New York Knicks player to start in nearly two decades, and Orlando center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter in the conference with nearly 2.1 million.
The Lakersí Kobe Bryant earned his 13th straight All-Star selection for the Feb. 20 game at his home arena. He is one shy of the record held by Jerry West, Shaquille OíNeal and Karl Malone.
Bryant, a three-time MVP of the All-Star game, was the overall leading vote-getter with more than 2.3 million.
GREENSBORO ó Mirai Nagasu edged out fellow previous winners Alissa Czisny and Rachael Flatt in the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships with a beguiling routine to ěWitches of Eastwick.î
But with the margin between the three so small ó just 1.03 points, to be exactó and only two spots on the world team available, tonightís free skate should be quite the show.
TORONTO ó Toronto has signed reliever Jason Frasor to a $3.5 million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration with the right-hander.
BRISTOL, Conn. ó Nomar Garciaparra will become the analyst for ESPN’s Wednesday night baseball telecasts this season. Dave O’Brien will join him as the play-by-play voice.
Aaron Boone and Rick Sutcliffe will be the analysts for the network’s Monday night broadcasts.