National briefs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó Five-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson will be on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” that goes on sale Wednesday.
It’s Johnson’s second time on the cover, but only the 10th time Sports Illustrated has featured NASCAR nationally on the front of the magazine.
Johnson says he was unaware of the so-called SI cover jinx and doesn’t believe it will factor into whether or not he claims a sixth consecutive title this season. Johnson won Sunday’s race at Kansas to move to third in the standings.
Johnson trails leader Carl Edwards by four points with six races remaining in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Johnson was also on the cover of SI in 2008, near the end of his third title run.
OKLAHOMA CITY ó The second phase of a $100 million renovation of the Oklahoma City Thunderís arena has been completed, adding new video monitors and concession stands and a renovated concourse.
The redesigned concourses feature a terrazzo floor, repainted walls and a cylindrical video board that officials say doesnít exist at any other arena. The so-called ěUFOî board is 92 feet around and more than 71/2 feet tall.
Thereís also a new video board on the north side of the arena that is 74 feet wide and 20 feet high.
The latest changes, funded by a one-penny sales tax, cost about $36 million.
The final phase of the Chesapeake Energy Arena renovation is scheduled to be completed by June. It includes a new grand entrance, a three-story atrium and a family fun zone.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. ó Michigan coach John Beilein doesnít concern himself much with preseason predictions, as glowing as they may be when it comes to his Wolverines, a program on the rise.
Michigan is coming off its second NCAA tournament appearance in three years under Beilein and returns the crux of a team that ignored outside expectations and came within an eyelash of advancing to the round of 16.
Despite the position others consider the Wolverines to be in, Beilein looks at a team he characterizes as veteran but still young, and one that must replace a key cog in point guard Darius Morris.
Thatís when Beileinís cautious optimism sets in when questions arise whether the Wolverines are ready to become a tournament staple.
ěI donít think weíre there yet,î Beilein said Tuesday during Michiganís media day. ěWeíre still going to be hunting every day and I think we still have a lot to prove.î
SHANGHAI ó American Mardy Fish was upset by Australian teenager Bernard Tomic 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 Tuesday in the second round of the Shanghai Masters.
The 18-year-old Tomic broke the ninth-ranked American twice to win the second set in 31 minutes. Fish fought off three more break points in the third set before Tomic was converted on his fourth chance to go up 5-4.
The result hurts Fishís chance of qualifying for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Americans Andy Roddick, Ryan Harrison and Alex Bogomolov Jr. advanced. Roddick edged 20-year-old Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6 (3), 7-5. The 19-year-old Harrison beat 11th-seeded Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-3, while Bogomolov Jr. defeated Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-2, 6-3.
Stanislas Wawrinka stopped Donald Young of the United States 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Tomic, who lost to Fish in the quarterfinals of the Japan Open last week, is having a breakout season. He reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and cracked the top 50 in the rankings this week at No. 49.
ěI canít expect much more for myself. Iíve had a good last six months. Iím playing well here,î he said. ěI think you just gotta play tennis, have fun. Thatís what I realized, not to have a lot of pressure.î
Roddick came back from a break down in the second set to tie 4-4 when Dimitrov put a backhand into the net after slipping at the end of a 43-stroke rally.
The Bulgarian broke back in the next game, prompting an angry Roddick to slam his racket into his tennis bag during the changeover.
ěI donít know that I made a first serve that game, so that was frustrating for me,î Roddick said. ěI felt like I was returning pretty well and hitting my forehand pretty well. Then all of a sudden, you know, Iím not putting a first serve in the court.î
Roddick saved a set point on Dimitrovís serve before breaking his opponent at love to close out the match.
ěHeís definitely got all the shots,î Roddick said. ěHe should have closed me out in the second set.î
Dimitrov finished with 28 winners, nearly twice as many as Roddick, but also had 51 unforced errors.
Roddick will play seventh-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain, who defeated countryman Tommy Robredo, 7-5, 6-3.
Almagro, who has won three titles this year, is trying to clinch one of the four remaining spots at the ATP World Tour Finals.
The only other seeded players to fall Tuesday were two Serbs ó 11th-seeded Troicki and ninth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic.
Tipsarevic lost to Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3), his second straight first-round defeat after capturing his first ATP title in Kuala Lumpur last month.
Florian Mayer, seeded 15th, knocked out David Nalbandian, 6-3, 6-4. Nalbandian, a former Wimbledon finalist, has struggled since returning from a hamstring injury this summer.
Other winners included Milos Raonic, who came back to defeat Michael Llodra , 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-6 (5), as well as eighth-seeded Gilles Simon, 12th-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov and 14th-seeded Jurgen Melzer.
The Associated Press
10/11/11 12:30