Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Sports in brief

Tennis

kerber one victory from replacing serena at no. 1

MASON, Ohio — Angelique Kerber reached the Western & Southern Open final Saturday, leaving her one win away from unseating Serena Williams at No. 1. Williams has led the WTA rankings for 183 straight weeks, the second-longest such stretch.

Kerber, the top seed, took control after a 33-minute rain delay in the first set and beat third seed Simona Halep 6-3, 6-4 in humid, windy conditions. A win today over 15th seed Karolina Pliskova would move Kerber to the top spot in next week's rankings. Williams dropped out of the tournament at its start because of an inflamed shoulder, leaving her ranking vulnerable.

Pliskova advanced to the championship match by beating fourth seed Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-3

More tennis: Andy Murray was the top player left on the Western & Southern Open men's side, which was wiped out by injuries. The top seed was scheduled to play No. 4 Milo Raonic in a semifinal Saturday night. No. 12 Marin Cilic faced unseeded Grigor Dimitrov in the other semifinal.

soccer

Barcelona starts strong behind Suarez, Messi

Luis Suarez scored a hat trick and Lionel Messi added two goals as Barcelona started its Spanish league title defense in style by routing visiting Real Betis 6-2.

Suarez, who led scoring in La Liga with 40 goals last season, helped put the result beyond doubt before halftime and struck twice afterward to complete the demolition.

Barcelona's biggest title rivals play their opening matches today, when Real Madrid visits Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid hosts the promoted Alaves.

For Suarez, the six-goal performance against Betis was a message that Barcelona is still the team to beat.

"Barca is always the favorite," Suarez said.

England: The established order is fighting back in these early days of the Premier League season. Manchester City and Chelsea won to join Manchester United in achieving back-to-back victories at the start of the season to top the standings at six points. Visiting Manchester City beat Stoke 4-1, continuing its impressive start to life under new coach Pep Guardiola. Chelsea coach Antonio Conte also is in his first season in English football and has begun with consecutive 2-1 wins, the latest coming at Watford. City, United and Chelsea failed to finish in the top three last season, capping an unpredictable campaign that saw 5,000-1 shot Leicester win the league. The chastened trio spent a combined $500 million in the offseason to avoid a repeat of that upset. Leicester is still searching for its first win after a 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal, in a game between the top two teams from last season. Both sides have one point. The only other team with maximum points from the opening two games is Hull, which beat host Swansea 2-0. Liverpool lost 2-0 at promoted Burnley,

et cetera

LITTLE LEAGUE: Kenny Rix hit a three-run homer to lead Warwick, R.I., to an 8-0 victory over Bend, Ore., in an elimination game in the World Series at South Williamsport, Pa.

Cycling: Chris Froome had a successful start to the Spanish Vuelta with Sky winning the team time trial as the grand tour got under way. Sky rider Peter Kennaugh will wear the red leader's jersey during today's second stage, a (99.9-mile ride from Ourense to Baiona.

Times wires

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