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ISTANBUL, Turkey - Tina Charles scored 18 and Maya Moore added 16 to help the United States beat pesky Australia 82-70 Saturday night in the semifinals of the FIBA women's world championship.

The Americans (5-0) had to work hard for the victory, as is usually the case when these teams meet. "This is a country that has a lot of pride and a team that plays hard every possession, and I expected nothing less," Sue Bird said about Australia.

The Americans face Spain (5-0) in the gold-medal game today. Spain beat host Turkey 66-56 for its first trip to the championship. The Spanish team won a bronze medal at the 2010 worlds after losing to the United States in the semifinals. Australia (4-1) faces Turkey (4-1) in the third-place game.

Though the U.S. team won its first four games by an average of nearly 48 points, Bird said shorthanded Australia would challenge them.

"I know at one point during the game I said to my teammates, 'It's the semis. It's not the first round,'" Bird said.

Brittney Griner picked up two fouls in six minutes and was benched for most of the half. The Americans led by two with 5:53 left in the half before Charles scored six points during a 10-1 run. With Australia trailing 61-52, Erin Phillips opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point shot, but the U.S. team took command with a 15-2 run.

NBA:Jimmer Fredette scored 17 and Luke Babbitt added 15 to lead the Pelicans to a 98-86 victory over the Heat at Louisville, Ky., in the preseason opener for both teams. James Ennis led the Heat with 17 points. Chris Bosh shot 3 for 13 from the field for the Heat and Dwyane Wade was 2 of 7.


Djokovic downs Murray

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic reached his fifth China Open final and improved his spotless record at the Beijing tournament to 23-0 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Andy Murray. Djokovic plays third-seeded Tomas Berdych in today's final. Berdych won 6-4, 6-1 over Martin Klizan, the qualifier who upset Rafael Nadal in the quarters. In the women's draw, Maria Sharapova overcame eight double faults, including four as she served for the match, to beat Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 6-4. She takes on Petra Kvitova in the final. Kvitova beat Sam Stosur 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.


Manchester City rallies late

Manchester City kept the pressure on English Premier League leader Chelsea by scoring late goals in a 2-0 home win over Aston Villa. Yaya Toure scored in the 82nd minute and Sergio Aguero scored in the 88th minute for Manchester City. City moved within two points of Chelsea, which hosts London rival Arsenal today. Host Liverpool revived its campaign by beating West Bromwich Albion 2-1. Jordan Henderson scored the winner for Liverpool, which has gone three league games without a victory. Newcastle remained winless after a 2-2 draw at Swansea.

SPAIN: Record-chasing Lionel Messi and Neymar scored as Spanish league leader Barcelona eased to a 2-0 win at home against nine-man Rayo Vallecano. Messi scored in the 35th minute for his 249th league goal, leaving him two behind the all-time scoring record held by Telmo Zarra since 1955. A minute later, Neymar added his goal.

GERMANY: Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich routed visiting Hanover 4-0, and previously winless Hamburg beat host Borussia Dortmund 1-0 off Pierre-Michel Lasogga's goal. Tampa native Julian Green is on loan to Hamburg this season from Bayern Munich but did not play Saturday.


HORSES:Wise Dan overcame a bad start and rallied in the stretch to win the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile by a length at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. Wise Dan ran in 1 minute, 35.62 seconds and paid $3.80, $2.80 and $2.10. Grand Arch returned $10.20 and $6. Sayaad was third and paid $4.60.

Gymnastics: The U.S. men (360.393) qualified behind China (362.698) and Japan (361.609) into Tuesday's world championships team final in Nanning, China. Individual finals are this coming weekend.

Times wires