No Williams, no problem
The US aim to prove again that they can thrive without Serena and Venus Williams when they tackle France for a place in a second consecutive Fed Cup final this weekend. Last year, the US won the tournament for the 18th time with a nerve-racking 3-2 victory over Belarus, which was only decided in the last doubles rubber when CoCo Vandeweghe and Shelby Rogers claimed the winning point. The Williams sisters did not feature in that final in Minsk, but they returned to national colors in February in a first-round victory over the Netherlands, which set-up this weekend’s clash in France. “I’m very confident that we can make it to another final,” Vandeweghe said ahead of the tie on indoor clay at Aix-en-Provence.
Russell has first MLS hat-trick
Johnny Russell had his first career MLS hat-trick and Sporting Kansas City routed the nine-man Vancouver Whitecaps 6-0 on Friday night for the largest margin of victory in Children’s Mercy Park history. Kansas City (5-1-2) is undefeated in its last seven matches — with five victories. Vancouver (3-4-1), who were without forward Kei Kamara, had their third straight loss. Russell scored two goals in the opening 16 minutes. He one-touched a cross with his right foot to open the scoring in the 10th minute, and took five touches along the left side to send in a deflected shot for a 2-0 lead. In the 48th minute, Russell played a short corner kick for a give-and-go and chipped it over Marinovic from the end line to make it 4-0.
Reims return to Ligue 1 play
Reims on Friday clinched promotion back to Ligue 1, ending a two-year absence from the top tier of French soccer. A 1-0 win at home to fellow promotion hopefuls Ajaccio, while second-placed Nimes dropped points, confirmed the club from Champagne country as Ligue 2 champions. Six-time French champions in a glorious post-war era, when they also twice reached the European Cup final — losing to Real Madrid in 1956 and 1959 — Reims spent four consecutive seasons in Ligue 1 before being relegated to Ligue 2 in 2016.
Ohio State coach dies at 87
Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce has died at his home in central Ohio. The College Football Hall of Fame member was 87. His four daughters on Friday released a statement on the loss of “a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and a respected coach to many.” Bruce followed Woody Hayes as coach and compiled an 81-26-1 record. His teams won or shared in four Big Ten titles from 1979 to 1987. He also coached at Tampa, Colorado State, Iowa State and of Northern Iowa. His career record was 154-90-2. Bruce’s Ohio State playing career was cut short by injury and Hayes encouraged him to get into coaching.
Stolen trophy found in Mexico
Authorities in Mexico said the UEFA Europa League trophy has been recovered after it was stolen in the central city of Leon. The Guanajuato state prosecutor’s office said via Twitter that the trophy was reported stolen from a vehicle that was transporting it after an unspecified event in the city. The office posted a photo of the silver cup nestled in a cloth-lined case. It did not immediately provide more details on Friday. The Europa League, Europe’s second-tier club championship, is currently at the semi-final stage, featuring Arsenal-Atletico Madrid and Olympique de Marseille-Red Bull Salzburg matches.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
WNBA star Maya Moore has married the man that she helped free from prison. Moore was in the prime of her playing days when she paused her basketball career at the age of 30 in February last year to work on the campaign to free Jonathan Irons. Irons, who is 40, had been serving a 50-year prison sentence over the shooting of a homeowner during a robbery when Irons was 16. A judge ruled in March that prosecutors had suppressed fingerprint evidence that could have helped prevent Irons from being found guilty — and he was freed from prison in July. “We wanted to