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Make it three finals in a row for Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is in place to win a third straight Australian Open. (Associated Press)
Novak Djokovic is in place to win a third straight Australian Open. (Associated Press)

Tennis: Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic advanced to his third consecutive Australian Open final with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over No. 4-seeded David Ferrer in Melbourne on Thursday night.

The top-ranked Djokovic hit 30 crisp winners in the 1-hour, 29-minute match. He is aiming to be the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian titles.

On Sunday, he’ll meet the winner of today’s semifinal between No. 2-ranked Roger Federer, a four-time Australian champion, and U.S. Open winner Andy Murray, who is ranked No. 3.

On the women’s side, defending champion Victoria Azarenka advanced to the final with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens.

Azarenka will play 2011 French Open champion Li Na – who beat Maria Sharapova – in Saturday night’s final.

Former Chief Grabner brings back Islanders

NHL: Matt Moulson and former Spokane Chief Michael Grabner scored two goals each, and the visiting New York Islanders rallied for a 7-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

• Hurricanes earn first win: In Raleigh, N.C., Eric Staal scored three goals, Jeff Skinner added two and the Carolina Hurricanes earned their first victory of the season by handing the Buffalo Sabres their first loss, 6-3.

Anthony’s 28 lead Knicks over Celtics

NBA: Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points and the visiting New York Knicks ended an 11-game losing streak in Boston with an 89-86 victory over the Celtics.

Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Kevin Garnett had only eight points but finished with a game-high 12 rebounds.

• DeRozan lifts Raptors at buzzer: DeMar DeRozan swished a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer as the visiting Toronto Raptors fought off a late-game charge by the Orlando Magic to earn a 97-95 victory.

It was a wild offensive night on both ends, featuring 12 lead changes and 12 players reaching double figures.

• Hornets announce name change to Pelicans: Hornets owner Tom Benson says changing his team’s nickname to the Pelicans will create a bond with the city that could lead to a championship.

The NBA has to approve it, but Commissioner David Stern has said he wouldn’t object to any name Benson chose.

• Popovich, Duncan out: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (illness) and forward Tim Duncan (knee) will miss a second straight game after they didn’t make the trip for tonight’s game at Dallas.

Burke helps Michigan rally past Purdue

College Basketball: Trey Burke had 15 points and eight assists and gave No. 2 Michigan a boost on defense as the Wolverines shook free of Purdue in the second half for a 68-53 win in Ann Arbor, Mich.

• Spiders end No. 19 Rams’ streak: Kendall Anthony scored 21 of his 26 points after halftime and Darien Brothers hit two huge 3-pointers as Richmond ended No. 19 VCU’s 13-game winning streak, 86-74 in overtime in Richmond, Va.

Choi, Snedeker tied at Torrey Pines

Golf: Brandt Snedeker ended another round at Torrey Pines atop the leaderboard.

Snedeker, the defending champion, played bogey-free on the North Course for a 7-under 65 that gave him a share of the lead with K.J. Choi in the Farmers Insurance Open. Bubba Watson withdrew because of an illness.

• Santos takes lead in Qatar: Ricardo Santos of Portugal had five birdies on his back nine to finish with a 7-under 65 in the opening round of the Qatar Masters in Doha, taking a one-shot lead over Anthony Wall and Peter Whiteford.

Castelli-Shnapir win pairs short program

Miscellany: Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir easily won the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha, Neb. They finished with 62.27 points, a whopping nine points ahead of Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay.

• Wakaso gives Ghana win: Mubarak Wakaso gave Ghana a 1-0 victory over Mali in soccer’s African Cup of Nations, then celebrated with a religious slogan showing the words “Allah is Great!” on a T-shirt under his jersey, breaking FIFA rules that bar players from displaying political or religious slogans on the field. He received a yellow card and a suspension for the final group game.