Thursday’s Sports in Brief

September 11, 2020 GMT


Serena Williams’ latest bid for a 24th Grand Slam title ended with a three-set loss to Victoria Azarena in the U.S. Open semifinals.

Williams already was having trouble keeping up with the pace of Azarenka when Williams needed a trainer to wrap her lower left leg in the final set. Azarenka will face Naomi Osaka in Saturday’s final.

Osaka edged Jennifer Brady in three sets in the other semifinal. Azarenka and Osaka both are two-time major champions and former No. 1-ranked players. Azarenka has won 11 matches in a row, Osaka 10.


EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Sean Couturier became the third Philadelphia Flyers player to be chosen as the NHL’s top defensive forward.


The center was revealed as the Frank J. Selke Trophy recipient, finishing ahead of four-time winner Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues, last season’s winner.

Couturier was named on 163 of the 170 ballots cast by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and got 117 first-place votes.


RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Nelly Korda made it through the first round of the ANA Inspiration with just the start she wanted.

With heat-baked greens so firm she couldn’t find pitch marks, Korda hit hybrid off the tee on the par-5 18th with a front pin. That set her up for a wedge to 3 feet below the hole for birdie and a 6-under 66, giving her a one-shot lead.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun had to scramble for par on the 18th for a 67. Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden matched that score with a par on her closing hole at the par-5 ninth with a third shot out of rough so thick she could barely see her golf ball.

Danielle Kang, projected to reach No. 1 in the world with a victory at Mission Hills, and Brooke Henderson of Canada were among those two shots behind.

NAPA, Calif (AP) — Russell Knox shot a 9-under 63 to take the first-round lead in the Safeway Open, the first event of the new PGA Tour season.

After missing the FedExCup playoffs by two spots to close last season, Knox had seven birdies and eagled the 550-yard, par-5 fifth hole.

Sam Burns, Cameron Percy and Bo Hoag were a stroke back. Two-time Safeway Open champion Brendan Steele joined Pat Perez at 65.

VILAMOURA, Portugal (AP) — Liam Johnston shot a 10-under 61 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Portugal Masters.

It was the lowest round of Johnston’s European Tour career, leaving the Scot ahead of Frenchman Julien Guerrier. Englishman Laurie Canter was three shots off the lead.



SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Giants released Pablo Sandoval, parting ways for a second time with the former fan favorite and 2012 World Series MVP.

Sandoval rejoined the Giants following parts of three seasons away with the Boston Red Sox after winning a third World Series in five years with San Francisco in 2014.

The Giants posted a thank you to Kung Fu Panda on their Twitter page. A switch-hitter, the 34-year-old Sandoval was batting .220 with one home run and six RBIs in 33 games. He had a prorated salary of $740,741.

He came back this spring from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last September, after retired manager Bruce Bochy — a father figure to the Venezuelan slugger — gave him one final at-bat. But Sandoval arrived at summer training in July noticeably heavier. He recently shared how his wife and children healed from the coronavirus, and manager Gabe Kapler gave him time off to monitor the situation from afar.

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball will hold its annual general managers’ meetings remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league said teams had been informed the GMs won’t meet in person. The annual November session started in the 1980s and has been a traditional time for agents to pitch their free agent clients to teams and for clubs to initiate trade talks. The session usually is held in Florida, Arizona or California.

For now, the larger winter meetings remain scheduled for Dec. 6-10 in Dallas.


FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott says he was already feeling the emotional burden of the pandemic when the star quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys received word that one of his brothers had died by suicide in the spring.

Prescott acknowledged the cause of Jace Prescott’s death for the first time in a recent TV interview set to air this weekend. On Thursday, Prescott told reporters who cover the team he sought help from family, coaches and teammates past and present and sports psychologist Chad Bohling of the New York Yankees. Bohling has been an adviser to the Cowboys.

The Prescott brothers endured the death of their mother, Peggy, who died of colon cancer when Dak Prescott was a sophomore at Mississippi State in 2013.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bubba Wallace, loaded with several new sponsors he personally signed, will leave Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season and take his new wealth elsewhere.

Wallace, who has driven Petty’s iconic No. 43 the last three seasons, told the team he would not sign a contract extension.

Wallace, who is 26, has a career-best five top-10 finishes this season and is ranked a career-best 23rd in the Cup Series standings. He did not make the playoffs in any of his three Cup seasons and is winless at NASCAR’s top level.

Wallace in 2013 became the second Black driver to win a national series NASCAR race when he won the Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway. He is the only full-time Black driver at NASCAR’s national level.


SARRAN, France (AP) — Tour de France rookie Marc Hirschi won the longest stage of this year’s race with a bold solo breakaway on a previously unused sharp ascent, making up for two previous near misses.

The Swiss rider powered away on the Suc au May climb, new to the 117-year-old Tour. He extended his lead by racing with hair-raising speed down the other side and held off pursuers over the last 25 kilometers (15 miles) to win Stage 12 by a comfortable margin in Sarran.