Verdasco advances to face Raonic in SAP Open final

Verdasco advances to face Raonic in SAP Open final

Feb. 12, 2011TENNIS PAGE

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Fernando Verdasco made it to the SAP Open final for the second straight year, surviving a tough second set to beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals Saturday night.Verdasco will play Sunday against unseeded Milos Raonic, who advanced to his first ATP Tour final in a walkover after second-seeded Gael Monfils pulled out of the tournament with an injured left wrist. NEWS: Monfils withdraws from SAP Open with wrist injury
Verdasco improved to 9-0 at this tournament and is looking to follow up the title he won in three sets over Andy Roddick in last year's final.Verdasco was tested more than he has been all week by del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open winner who is working his way back into form after missing almost all of last year with a right wrist injury.Verdasco had his run of 37 straight service holds snapped early in the second set but responded to the early deficit by breaking del Potro's serve in two of his final three service games.He got right back into the set with a nifty forehand passing shot winner on the first point on del Potro's next service game and then earned a set point with another forehand winner. His deep return forced del Potro to hit a forehand wide and he was back on serve at 2-3.Verdasco then survived a three deuce game on his own serve to get to 4-all and came through on his fourth break point attempt in the next game to take control. He hit unforced errors on the three break chances, barely missing a forehand winner down the line. He won it with a forehand winner and then held his final service game at love, closing the match with his fifth ace.Verdasco broke del Potro's serve in the opening game of the match and was never threatened in the opening set, losing just three points in his five service games. Del Potro lost his serve three times in this match after losing it just once in his first three matches this week.Del Potro has fallen from fourth in the rankings after winning the 2009 U.S. Open to 484th heading into this week as he played only three tournaments last year because of the injury and did not win a match after January. He was looking to become the second lowest-ranked player to win an ATP Tour title since the rankings began in 1973. Lleyton Hewitt was ranked 550th when he won in Adelaide in 1998.Verdasco and Raonic have never played but will become quite familiar with each other in the next few days because of a scheduling quirk. After playing Sunday in San Jose, the two will meet again on Wednesday in the first round in Memphis.Raonic has had a strong start to the season, going through qualifying and winning three matches in the Australian Open and making it to his first ATP World Tour final. He has shot up the rankings from 156th at the end of last year to 84th heading into this week. He is expected to be 66th is he loses on Sunday and 59th if his wins the title."It's nice getting that kind of attention," he said. "But more importantly it's nice doing well at the top level of tennis because that's what my goals are."The 20-year-old is looking to become the first Canadian to win a title on ATP World Tour since Greg Rusedski won in Seoul in April 1995. He has never played Verdasco.He leads the tournament with 45 aces in just three matches, winning a staggering 87.4 percent of first-serve points. He tuned up for the final by playing Ivo Karlovic in an exhibition, losing a pair of tiebreakers to the big-serving Croat."It's nice to be in the final but it doesn't matter," Raonic said. "Tomorrow is a different match. I can enjoy that more after the tournament than during. I have to prepare for tomorrow and do what I need to do to have my best chance to win tomorrow."

Team USA dominates Puerto Rico to win 2017 World Baseball Classic

Team USA dominates Puerto Rico to win 2017 World Baseball Classic

LOS ANGELES -- Marcus Stroman tossed six hitless innings, Ian Kinsler slugged a two-run homer and the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 on Wednesday night to win its first World Baseball Classic in four tries.

Stroman dominated the tournament's highest-scoring team. Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The U.S. territory finished runner-up for the second time, having lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 final.

Stroman, who was named the tournament's MVP, avenged his shakiness in the Americans' 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico during pool play. The right-hander from the Toronto Blue Jays retired the side on three grounders to open the game. In all, he gave up one hit, struck out three and walked one on 73 pitches.

He allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan's double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when Stroman departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead.

Stroman walked Carlos Beltran leading off the second, but the defense helped him out. Yadier Molina hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play before Stroman struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.

The U.S. pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record while making the final for the first time in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.

Kinsler homered off an 0-1 pitch from Seth Lugo into left-center field in the third, scoring Jonathan Lucroy, who singled leading off.

Lugo of the New York Mets allowed four runs and five hits, struck out seven and walked four in four innings. The right-hander won his first two starts of the tournament, including in the second round against Stroman and the U.S.

In that game, Stroman gave up six consecutive singles in a four-run first inning and took the loss against Puerto Rico last Friday in San Diego.

The Americans made it 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.

Fans wore flags of both countries as capes and decorated their faces in team colors. Puerto Rico boosters pounded cowbells, tooted horns and blew whistles early on before their team fell behind 4-0.

Fans were on their feet chanting "U-S-A" when the Americans loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. They were rewarded with Crawford's two-run single that chased J.C. Romero, extending the lead to 6-0.

The U.S. tacked on another run on Giancarlo Stanton's RBI single off Hiram Burgos past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Burgos' wild pitch moved runners to second and third before he walked Lucroy to load the bases a second time. Kinsler flied out to end the inning.

The Americans led 8-0 in the eighth on McCutchen's RBI single with two outs.

The U.S. defeated two-time champion Japan, while Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the final.

The three games at Dodger Stadium drew 109,892.

Instant Replay: Kings blown out by Bucks, Antetokounmpo at home

Instant Replay: Kings blown out by Bucks, Antetokounmpo at home

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Milwaukee Bucks are where the Sacramento Kings hope to be in two seasons - young, athletic and on their way to the playoffs. Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center, the visiting team jumped all of the Kings early on their way to a 116-98 win. 

The Greek Freak didn’t let up on his fellow countryman, Georgios Papagiannis. Giannis Antetokounmpo went at the Kings from the opening tip, finishing the night with 32 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.  

Former Kings Jason Terry and Spencer Hawes heard boos every time they touched the ball. Unfortunately for Sacramento, they hit almost every shot they took, combining for 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Greg Monroe added 15 points and five rebounds. Mirza Teletovic finished with 13 points off the bench and Khris Middleton hit 3-for-6 from long range to score 13. 

Rookie Buddy Hield put on a shooting clinic. The 22-year-old shooting guard dropped in 8-of-16 from the field on his way to 21 points and four rebounds

Darren Collison set up his teammates from the opening tip. The veteran point guard dropped in 10 points and a team-high seven assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Garrett Temple stepped up his scoring, chipping in 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting and chipped in three rebounds in the loss. 

Willie Cauley-Stein stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four blocks. 

Arron Afflalo started at the small forward position and added 12 on 5-of-9 shooting. Tyreke Evans came off the bench, posting 18 points in 20 minutes of action behind Afflalo.

Skal Labissiere managed to shake off a rough first half to drop in eight points and grab eight rebounds, and fellow rookie Georgios Papagiannis picked up four points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes off Dave Joerger’s bench.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Antetokounmpo was as advertised and more. The 6-foot-11 forward gave the Kings fits from start to finish on his way to another huge performance.

TURNING POINT

The Bucks blew up in the first half, scoring 69 points on 61.4 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. This game was over before the teams headed in for the break.

INJURY UPDATE 

Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson both missed the game for scheduled rest. Rookie Malachi Richardson is out with a right hamstring thickness tear, but is expected back soon. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings hit the road again following the game against Milwaukee. They will face the Golden State Warriors on Friday evening at Oracle Arena, followed by a stop in Los Angeles on Sunday to visit the Clippers.