Djokovic loses deportation appeal in Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic’s hopes of playing at the Australian Open were dashed Sunday after a court dismissed the top-ranked tennis star’s appeal against a deportation order.
Three Federal Court judges upheld a decision made on Friday by the immigration minister to cancel the 34-year-old Serb’s visa on public interest grounds.
The decision likely means that Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, will remain in detention in Melbourne until he is deported.
A deportation order usually also includes a three-year ban on returning to Australia.
The minister cancelled the visa on the grounds that Djokovic’s presence in Australia may be a risk to the health and “good order” of the Australian public and “may be counterproductive to efforts at vaccination by others in Australia.”
Djokovic’s visa was initially cancelled on Jan. 6 at Melbourne’s airport hours after he arrived to compete in the first Grand Slam of 2022.
A border official cancelled his visa after deciding Djokovic didn’t qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors.
Georgia celebrates title at stadium, Smart plans repeat
Georgia coach Kirby Smart told a near-capacity crowd at Sanford Stadium on Saturday the Bulldogs don’t plan to wait another 41 years for their next national championship.
“It’s moments and events like this that allow us to look back and allow us to look forward,” Smart said. “… We’re burning the boats, baby, and we’re coming back! Go Dogs!”
The celebration, attended by Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, followed a parade to Sanford Stadium.
Georgia finished 14-1 and No. 1 in the final AP Top 25 following its 33-18 win over Alabama in the national championship game on Monday night in Indianapolis.
“As the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, I think the four-team playoff worked pretty well this year, didn’t it?” Sankey asked, referring to efforts to expand the playoff.
Georgia announced Friday it had no more tickets available for the celebration at the stadium, where the capacity is 92,746.
Only 10 weeks after hundreds of thousands of fans attended a two-stage parade in Atlanta to celebrate the Braves’ first World Series title since 1995, the state of Georgia witnessed another championship celebration.
AP source: Vikings invite Hackett, 6 others for interviews
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings have begun the search for a new coach by seeking interviews with an initial slate of seven candidates, including Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
According to a person with knowledge of the process, speaking Saturday on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the organization was not publicizing the requests, the Vikings also asked to interview Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
With the rival Packers on a first-round bye for the playoffs, Hackett was allowed to talk to teams this weekend. He completed an interview Saturday with the Denver Broncos for their opening. In his third season with the Packers, Hackett is in his eighth year as an offensive coordinator in the NFL.
The Buccaneers, Eagles, Cowboys, Rams and 49ers were all playing postseason games Sunday or Monday. Win or lose, all candidates would be allowed to interview after their first-round game.
Valieva wins European figure skating title ahead of Olympics
TALLINN, Estonia — Kamila Valieva underlined her status as the favorite for the women’s Olympic figure skating gold medal as she won the European title by a commanding 22-point margin on Saturday.
Valieva continued Russian domination of women’s figure skating by completing her country’s sweep of all four events at the championships.
Competing at her first major championships, the 15-year-old Valieva fell on a triple axel in the free skate but landed three quadruple jumps, skating to “Bolero.” That meant Valieva stayed comfortably ahead of her two main challengers, her Russian teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova.
Valieva scored 168.61 points in the free skate, 17 below the world best she set earlier this season but still the highest of the competition, for a 259.06 total. World champion Shcherbakova recovered from a fourth-place short program to post a clean free skate and move up to the silver medal position with 237.42.
Trusova attempted four quads but fell on two of them as she finished third with 234.36.
Belgian skater Loena Hendrickx placed a surprise second in the short program, but two falls in the free skate and her lack of quad jumps left her fourth overall, 26 points off the podium.
Russians have won every women’s gold medal at the European championships since 2014 with a succession of young skaters with ever-more spectacular jumps and often-brief careers, many trained by Valieva’s coach Eteri Tutberidze.
Next month, Valieva will aim to become the third consecutive Russian to win the Olympic women’s gold after 2014 champion Adelina Sotnikova and the Tutberidze-coached 2018 winner, Alina Zagitova.
Death of Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez ruled a suicide
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The death of Tampa Bay Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez near his home in Fort Worth, Texas, has been ruled a suicide.
The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office released the finding on Thursday, three days after the 28-year-old’s body was found.
The Ramirez family released a statement through the Rays, thanking the team for its support.
“The loss of our son has been the most excruciating experience we have lived. Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t see the signs. Struggling in silence is not ok,” the family said in the statement.
“It is our commitment to honor our son’s life by helping other families,” the family added. “No parent should have to endure the loss of their child.”
The Rays announced the death in a Twitter post last Tuesday but did not release details. The Tampa Bay Times reported the body was found Monday in a field near the family home.
Ramirez, a native of Puerto Rico who attended high school in Fort Worth, was a 28th-round draft pick out of Illinois State in 2016. He played three years in Tampa Bay’s minor league system before beginning a three-season stint as a bullpen catcher with the major league team in 2019.
He’s back: Steelers WR Smith-Schuster returns, will face KC
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers received an unexpected boost on Saturday when they activated JuJu Smith-Schuster off injured reserve ahead of Sunday’s visit to Kansas City.
Smith-Schuster hasn’t played since injuring his right shoulder during a victory over Denver on Oct. 10. He underwent surgery a few days later and was expected to be lost for the season.
Instead, Smith-Schuster returned to practice this week, wearing thicker shoulder pads in an effort to protect his right shoulder. His teammates raved about his conditioning, and his presence gives the seventh-seeded Steelers (9-7-1) a much-needed set of sure hands and — potentially — a physical blocker in the running game as they try to upset the second-seeded Chiefs (12-7) on Sunday night.
Smith-Schuster has 15 receptions for 128 yards this season, becoming a de facto running back of sorts as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s preferred target in an offense heavily reliant on short passes.
To make room for Smith-Schuster on the roster, the Steelers released punter Corliss Waitman, meaning rookie Pressley Harvin III will handle the punting duties at Arrowhead Stadium. Waitman kicked well while filling in for Harvin during a blowout loss in Kansas City last month.
With Olympics waiting, White climbs the podium in Laax
Shaun White finished third at the Laax Open in Switzerland, marking his first podium finish since he won his third Olympic gold medal in 2018 and all but cementing his spot at next month’s games in Beijing.
White did not try his toughest combination of tricks in Saturday’s final, but his back-to-back 1080s and his signature Double McTwist 1260 were part of an opening run that scored an 84 and was enough for third. White didn’t try any flips on his second run.
The 35-year-old came into the event as the fourth-ranked American on the World Snowboarding Points list. By finishing as the top American in Laax, it virtually guarantees he’ll earn one of the four men’s halfpipe spots for the U.S. team that will be named next week.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Ayumu Hirano won the contest to continue Japan’s dominance on the halfpipe, and Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer finished second. The Japanese have swept all the key run-up events to the Olympics this year, with the Winter X Games set for next weekend.
The triple cork — the three-flip trick that could win the Olympics — was on display in Laax. Hirano tried it one and Japanese teammate Ruka Hirano tried it twice, but neither man could land it cleanly.
Ayumu Hirano became the first man to land the trick in a competition at the Dew Tour in December, but he fell on his next hit and finished fifth. His winning run Saturday did not include a triple cork.
Americans win monobob race, points title in Switzerland
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — American Kaillie Humphries got a win. Elana Meyers Taylor got an overall title. And the U.S. bobsled team got more momentum to take into the Beijing Olympics.
Humphries prevailed in the final women’s monobob race of the season on Saturday, with Meyers Taylor finishing second. In the seasonlong standings, the order was reversed — Meyers Taylor winning the points crown, with Humphries second.
Nobody was even close to the two drivers in the race. Humphries won in 2 minutes, 22.27 seconds. Meyers Taylor was second in 2:22.31. Cynthia Appiah of Canada got third, nearly a full second back in 2:23.22.
Appiah, Germany’s Mariama Jamanka (2:23.24) and Germany’s Laura Nolte (2:23.25) drove the only sleds that finished within a second of Humphries’ time. Christine de Bruin of Canada was sixth, 1.43 seconds off the pace.
“My runs weren’t without flaws, especially the second run, but overall I’m super happy I got to race here today,” Humphries said. “This is an amazing track, and it feels so nice when you do it right.”
And for U.S. sliding, the way the final season standings in monobob worked out — Meyers Taylor first with 1,110 points, Humphries second with 1,052 — was a bit of a rarity. It was only the fourth time in any sliding sport that American sleds wound up first and second in the seasonlong standings.
The other instances: Katie Uhlaender and Noelle Pikus-Pace in women’s skeleton in 2006-07, Zach Lund and Eric Bernotas in men’s skeleton that same season, and Jean Racine and Jill Bakken in women’s bobsled in 1999-2000.
Give me 5: Uhlaender makes 5th US Olympic skeleton team
There have now been six U.S. Olympic women’s skeleton teams. Katie Uhlaender has made five of them.
Uhlaender officially became the first American woman from any sliding sport to make five Olympic teams after being named Saturday to the three-person squad that will be heading to the Beijing Games.
It is the smallest team the Americans have nominated in skeleton since the sport returned to the Olympic program in 2002 after a hiatus that lasted more than a half-century. Uhlaender will be joined by two Olympic rookies: Kelly Curtis on the women’s side and Andrew Blaser as the lone men’s qualifier.
They got the word Saturday morning at a team meeting in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the site of this weekend’s World Cup finales for skeleton and bobsled.
“USA Bobsled and Skeleton is incredibly proud of the three athletes nominated to represent Team USA in skeleton at the 2022 Olympics,” USABS CEO Aron McGuire said. “It was a battle to make the team and it came down to the very last race.”
The final race of the World Cup season was Friday morning, and there was a race within the race — three American women vying for two Olympic spots, all of them with realistic chances of making the team.
Graham resigns as Hawaii football coach amid controversy
HONOLULU — Todd Graham resigned as the University of Hawaii’s football coach Friday, stepping down amid controversy after completing the second-year of a five-year contract.
Graham resigned a week after former players and some parents testified before a state legislative hearing, criticizing the coach’s management style and relationships with players. More than a dozen players have entered the transfer portal.
Graham gave up a $1,275,000 buyout by resigning. Assistant Jaocb Yoro will serve as interim head coach while the school searches for a replacement.
“After much prayer and reflection with my family, I have come to the conclusion that I will step away as head coach of the Rainbow Warriors, with a very heavy heart,” Graham said in a statement released by the university. “I want to give my thanks and appreciation to the players, staff and coaches who persevered through all the challenges of 2020 and 2021. It wasn’t easy, but they all fought the good fight and we did things the right way.
“Our staff poured our hearts and souls into our players and truly made a difference in their lives. I could not have asked more of their commitment, work ethic and love for our players and football program. But it is clear to me that I must step away and do what is best for me and my family and my health. I honor, value and love all of my players and coaches and I wish you the very best. The University has not asked me to step down. I am leaving solely for my family and my health. We have laid a strong foundation for future success, and I will always be cheering you on!”
The 57-year-old Graham led Hawaii to a 6-7 overall record this season and 4-7 mark in the Mountain West after going 5-4 overall and 4-4 in the conference in his first season. He previously was a head coach at Rice, Tulsa, Pittsburgh and Arizona State.
Karatsev ends Murray’s run, claims Sydney title; Badosa wins
SYDNEY — Andy Murray’s impressive run ended one win short of a 47th career title when he lost the Sydney Tennis Classic final 6-3, 6-3 to top-seeded Aslan Karatsev on Saturday.
The 34-year-old Murray started the week with his first win on Australian soil in more than 1,000 days. The three-time major winner progressed through the rounds to reach his first final since 2019.
Karatsev, who reached the Australian Open semifinals last year after going through qualifying for the season-opening major, was just too good.
“First time back in the finals for three years, it’s been a long road to get back here,” said Murray, a three-time major winner who has slid from No. 1 to No. 135 in the rankings. “I’ll keep trying my best to come back and have more nights like this. Maybe see you next year.”
Murray, a five-time Australian Open finalist, received a wild-card entry for the Sydney tournament and beat Viktor Durasovic and 23rd-ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili, then Reilly Opelka in the semifinals, raising expectations after recurring hip injuries limited him to playing only one of the past four Australian Opens.
Murray won’t have long to recover before he takes on Basilashvili again in the first round of the Australian Open.
The men’s title in Sydney was one of four awarded on Saturday as the tune-up series concluded ahead of the Australian Open, which begins Monday.
In the women’s final in Sydney, Paula Badosa claimed her third career title when she upset French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4).
In Adelaide, unseeded Madison Keys claimed her first WTA Tour singles title since 2019 when she beat Alison Riske 6-1, 6-2 in an all-American final, and Thanasi Kokkinakis claimed in his first ATP Tour title in front of his home fans by beating Arthur Rinderknech 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-3.
The 25-year-old Kokkinakis considered retirement after struggling with shoulder, chest, groin, knee and elbow injuries over five years. That’s off the radar, for now, after a run of eight wins in two weeks.
Kokkinakis will play qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of the Australian Open and could meet 20-time major winner Rafael Nadal in the second round.
Gut-Behrami wins downhill after Olympic champ Goggia crashes
ALTENMARKT-ZAUCHENSEE, Austria — Lara Gut-Behrami’s season finally saw an upswing on Saturday after two miserable months for the Swiss skier which included illness, a crash, and a coronavirus infection.
With her first event at the Beijing Olympics just over three weeks away, Gut-Behrami mastered a tricky course to win the fourth women’s World Cup downhill of the season.
“This is what I needed and I’m happy that I skied the way I wanted,” said the Swiss former overall champion, who has nine medals from major championships but just one from the Olympics: Bronze in downhill from the 2014 Sochi Games.
“My last two months were everything but good. I am happy that I’m getting back into the rhythm. It’s cool that I could ski on a high level for three days in a row,” added Gut-Behrami, who posted the third fastest time in both trainings.
Olympic champion Sofia Goggia had an awkward crash halfway down her run.
The Italian, who won the previous three downhills, got up and skied down the course shortly after the incident.
“I’m bruised and sore but fortunately intact,” said Goggia, who was included in the official start list for Sunday’s super-G.
“I’ll try to be at the start of the super-G, also seeing how I feel when I wake up,” she said.
Gut-Behrami timed 1 minute, 45.78 seconds in perfect conditions on the three-kilometer Kälberloch course to beat Kira Weidle of Germany by one-tenth of a second. Ramona Siebenhofer of Austria was 0.44 behind in third.
It was Gut-Behrami’s second win of the season but first since missing nearly four weeks of racing after a positive COVID-19 test.
City opens up 13-point lead in EPL, Coutinho scores on debut
For Pep Guardiola, the biggest challenge now will be convincing his Manchester City players the English Premier League title race is not over.
“My job is to take it out from the brain and heads of my players,” Guardiola said after City beat nearest rival Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday. “To try not to believe what other people are going to say.”
With City holding a 13-point lead, it’s hardly surprising that people have already basically handed Guardiola’s relentless team a sixth title in 11 seasons.
After all, the defending champions are on a 12-match winning run in the league after Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliant curling strike in the 70th minute sealed victory at Etihad Stadium. City has lost two games all season — it would have to lose at least three of its remaining 16 matches to drop out of first place — and already has played all of the top teams away from home.
Liverpool, in third place 14 points behind having played two games fewer, looks to be the only team realistically capable of stopping City. Even that is improbable, given City’s form and pedigree.
Chelsea was well beaten even if Thomas Tuchel’s team didn’t give up many chances against City, which dominated possession and kept the visitors penned in their own half for much of the match.
“We won’t give up,” Tuchel said, “but if City keep on winning every game, nobody can catch them.”
Liverpool will look to trim the gap to City by beating Brentford at home on Sunday.
Betis vs Sevilla suspended after object hits Sevilla player
BARCELONA, Spain — The ugly side of Spanish soccer’s most heated city rivalry ruined an enthralling clash between Real Betis and Sevilla on Saturday after a player was hit in the head by an object thrown from the stands.
The Copa del Rey match at Betis’ Benito Villamarín Stadium was suspended in the 39th minute with the score 1-1 after an oblong piece of PVC hurled from the stands hit Sevilla player Joan Jordán in the head.
The object impacted Jordán while Betis was celebrating Nabil Fekir’s equalizer that canceled out Papu Gómez’s opener.
Jordán went down immediately, holding his head. He was quickly back on his feet but was helped to walk off the pitch just before the teams were ordered by the referee Ricardo de Burgos to follow. Local media reports said the midfielder was taken to a local hospital for a medical check.
De Burgos wrote in his referee report that the object was a “hollow 50-centimeter (20-inch) PVC bar” thrown from a zone filled with Betis fans.
After a wait of over 20 minutes, the game was officially suspended by the Spanish soccer federation. The federation said “it condemns all acts of violence on the playing field.”
McKennie, Dybala help Juventus beat Udinese 2-0 in Serie A
MILAN — It was a tale of two celebrations in Turin as Juventus beat relegation-threatened Udinese 2-0 in Serie A on Saturday.
Weston McKennie sealed the match 11 minutes from time and the American – a Harry Potter fan – marked the goal with his usual wand celebration.
It was a complete contrast to Paulo Dybala’s distinct lack of celebration when he scored the opener in the first half. The forward, who is embroiled in ongoing lengthy discussions over a new contract, instead gave an icy glare towards the directors’ box.
“I invited a friend and I couldn’t find him,” Dybala said. He was then asked if people could believe that and responded: “I don’t know, that’s up to you … there have been a lot of stories, a lot of things have happened, I prefer not to talk.”
Juventus moved level on points with fourth-placed Atalanta, which has played two matches less than the Bianconeri. Udinese remained four points above the drop zone.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side sought to bounce back from defeat to Inter Milan in the Italian Super Cup midweek.
And it took the lead in the 19th minute. An Arthur through-ball found Moise Kean, who laid it off for Dybala to sweep into the back of the net.
Dybala had a gilt-edged chance to double his tally in the second half when he was found by McKennie but the Argentina international fired wide of the left post.
Mbappe scores for leader PSG, last-place Saint-Etienne loses
PARIS — Kylian Mbappe’s 10th goal in the French league helped leader Paris Saint-Germain overcome a sloppy start to beat Brest 2-0 and stay 11 points ahead of second-placed Nice on Saturday.
PSG was missing Lionel Messi as he continues to recover from the coronavirus, and struggled early.
Brest forward Irvin Cardona was lively and forced goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into two smart saves.
Mbappe’s excellent form has glossed over PSG’s shortcomings this season, and he curled a shot into the bottom corner from the left of the penalty area in the 32nd minute.
PSG midfielder Marco Verratti hit the post just after the break, and left back Nuno Mendes set up fellow defender Thilo Kehrer for a close-range volley in the 53rd.
Brest was in 13th place but finished as the stronger side.
Earlier, Saint-Etienne’s campaign took a turn for the worse when it conceded deep in injury time and lost at home to Lens 2-1.
Rock-bottom Saint-Etienne has won only two games and lost 12, leaving it four points behind 19th-placed Metz.
Captain Seko Fofana curled the ball in brilliantly five minutes into stoppage time to give fourth-placed Lens another late win after an 88th-minute strike against Rennes last weekend.
Firing coach Claude Puel has made little difference for Saint-Etienne, once one of Europe’s most entertaining sides during the Michel Platini era.
Unrelenting Bayern beats Cologne, sets league scoring record
COLOGNE, Germany — Robert Lewandowski bagged a hat trick as Bayern Munich scored for a record 66th Bundesliga game in succession to beat Cologne 4-0 and restore its six-point lead on Saturday.
Robert Lewandowski, no stranger to breaking scoring records for Bayern, claimed the opening goal in the ninth minute off a pass from Thomas Müller — after a video review check for offside — to make it 66 league games in a row since Bayern was last shut out in February 2020. The previous record of 65 games was also set by Bayern in 2014.
Corentin Tolisso tightened Bayern’s grip on the game with a fine shot into the top left corner.
Cologne thought it was getting back into the game but Mark Uth’s goal was narrowly ruled out for offside.
Leroy Sané, back after a positive test for the coronavirus, set up Lewandowski for two more goals in the second half. That made Lewandowski only the second player ever to 300 goals in the Bundesliga. The Polish striker has 23 goals in 19 Bundesliga games this season, and 34 goals in total.
The win saw Bayern recover from last week’s 3-2 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach, when it had to field reserve and youth players amid a virus outbreak in the squad. Most of the affected players returned to face Cologne, but not left back Alphonso Davies, who has been diagnosed with heart muscle inflammation. Coach Julian Nagelsmann told broadcaster Sky on Saturday that the Canadian will be out for “a minimum four weeks.”