Friday, February 23, 2018
Sports

Li rips Sharapova in semi

MELBOURNE, Australia — Li Na used the heat to her advantage, working No. 2-seeded Maria Sharapova around Rod Laver Arena in a 6-2, 6-2 win today that put her in the Australian Open final for the second time in three years.

Li, 30, the No. 6 seed, was the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final when she lost to Kim Clijsters in Melbourne in 2011. She had her breakthrough a few months later when she won the French Open, beating Sharapova in the semifinals along the way.

Li improved to 13-1 this year. Her only loss came to No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who met No. 29 Sloane Stephens in the other semifinal in a match that was not over at press time.

Sharapova, 25, was the heavy favorite after conceding only nine games in her first five matches, a record at the Australian Open since it expanded to a 128-player field in 1988.

But the semifinal, played in temperatures that reached 93 degrees, started badly for the 25-year-old Russia. She served double faults to lose the first two points and conceding a break in the first game.

Li, who had the backing of the crowd that waved red and white Chinese flags, won the final four games of the second set, breaking twice, to take the match.

Murray rolls into semis, Federer grinds it out

They have been playing two different tournaments: Andy Murray in the sunshine and Roger Federer under the lights. But the schedules will be harmonized on Friday when they meet in the semifinals.

Federer, the No. 2 seed, had to work a lot harder and a lot longer Wednesday.

After Murray, the No. 3 seed, routed unseeded Jeremy Chardy, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2, Federer had to play 3 hours, 34 minutes to oust Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic met No. 4 David Ferrer in the other semifinal today.

Federer broke the No. 7 seed in the fourth game of the deciding set. He then converted his fifth match point while serving after Tsonga saved four match points in the previous game.

"I love those four-set or five-set thrillers," Federer said.

Murray, 25, was broken while serving for the match (only the second time in the tournament he was broken). But he broke back immediately to win it.

"I can't be disappointed about being in the semis of a slam without dropping a set," Murray said. "That would be silly."

After years of chasing the game's major prizes without success, Murray beat Federer for the Olympic gold medal last year and soon after took the U.S. Open.

Murray leads 10-9 overall in matches with Federer but has not beat him in a Grand Slam event — even if the Olympic final was played at Wimbledon.

Federer said he doesn't think about his Grand Slam edge over Murray, which includes victories in the 2008 U.S. Open final, the 2010 Australia Open final and last year's Wimbledon final.

"He has beaten me so many times. He's beaten me more times than I've beaten him," Federer said. "But I'm happy you've given me the positive news. Good vibe. I'll try to remember that when I walk out, but it doesn't play a huge role for me."

Comments

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosMonster Energy Cup: Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 qualifying5 p.m.FS1NHRA: Arizona Nationals qualifying7 p.m.FS1Baseball, spring trainingCardinals at Marlins1 p.m.FSFCubs at Brewers 4 p.m.MLBBasketballWorld Cup Americas qualifier: Cuba vs. U...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Winter Olympics: Alina Zagitova wins figure skating gold, Russia’s first of Games

Winter Olympics: Alina Zagitova wins figure skating gold, Russia’s first of Games

GANGNEUNG, South Korea  — The Russians finally have a gold medal at the  Olympics, thanks to a 15-year-old who beat the fellow teen who inspired her to become a figure skater.Alina Zagitova won one of the Games' spotlight events Frida...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Winter Olympics: Friday’s viewing schedule

Winter Olympics: Friday’s viewing schedule

TV today5 a.m.-6:30 a.m. Saturday NBCSNSpeed skating (M) – 1,000m final (LIVE)Hockey (M) — Semifinal, Canada vs. Germany (LIVE, 6:30 a.m.)Curling (M) — Bronze-medal match, Canada vs. Switzerland (TAPED, 9:30 a.m.)Curling (W) —...
Updated: 2 hours ago
USA women’s hockey gives us a night to remember

USA women’s hockey gives us a night to remember

Our team.They're Americans, yes. But they are more than that.They're one of us. Adopted Floridians. Honorary members of Tampa Bay.And they gave us the signature moment of the Winter Olympics.USA! USA! USA!In the greatest moment in American hockey sin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning not planning to trade from current roster

Lightning not planning to trade from current roster

You can bet that many Lightning fans hoped Senators superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson jumped on Tampa Bay's bus after Thursday night's 4-3 Lightning win.Karlsson, 27, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, is the biggest prize leading up to Monday's trade...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning escapes for 4-3 win in Ottawa

Lightning escapes for 4-3 win in Ottawa

OTTAWA – The Lightning was encouraged it escaped Ottawa with a 4-3 win over the Senators on Thursday night.But it was really disappointed about how it had to "hold on to dear life," as defenseman Victor Hedman put it, after taking a three-goal ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police: DeSean Jackson’s former Eagles teammate drove truck found wrecked with bullets, marijuana inside

Police: DeSean Jackson’s former Eagles teammate drove truck found wrecked with bullets, marijuana inside

TAMPA  — With no witnesses and no video evidence, Tampa Police have stopped investigating a case from Christmas Eve that had a truck belonging to Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson found wrecked and abandoned in a mall parking lot with hollow-po...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Brent Honeywell injury could be worst Rays news yet

Brent Honeywell injury could be worst Rays news yet

PORT CHARLOTTE — It might have seemed that things couldn't get worse for the Rays after an opening week of spring training that included the dumping of two veterans to harshly negative reviews, including from their own players; to the trade of ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs QB Jameis Winston uninjured in car wreck

Bucs QB Jameis Winston uninjured in car wreck

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was not hurt in a car wreck last week in which he was cited for careless driving.Winston, 24, was driving on the Veterans Expressway near Waters Avenue in northwest Tampa on Feb. 13 when his Ford F250 truck rear-ended ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Boys basketball: Wharton wins a wild one in final seconds

Boys basketball: Wharton wins a wild one in final seconds

TAMPA — Bartow held a one-point lead and time was ticking down — 12, 11, 10 seconds left — when Wharton guard Darin Green pulled up near the foul line and released the ball over a defender's fingers toward the hoop.Swish.Bartow got ...
Updated: 3 hours ago