TENNIS: Maria Sharapova rallied from a set down to overcome a shaky serve and advance at the U.S. Open in New York.
The five-time major champion beat 95th-ranked Alexandra Dulgheru 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round Wednesday. She had nine double-faults and 46 unforced errors, but her conditioning was the difference.
Dulgheru had played just twice since mid-July, and she was dragging as the match approached two hours late in the second set. Dulgheru has never been past the third round at a Grand Slam tournament and fell to 3-14 against top-10 opponents.
• Venus advances: Two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams reached the tournament’s third round for the first time since 2010, beating 78th-ranked Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-1, 6-4.
The 19th-seeded Williams, at 34 the oldest woman left in the draw, had departed in the second round at Flushing Meadows three years in a row.
Williams won the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001, part of her collection of seven Grand Slam singles titles.
• Stephens upset: Sloane Stephens lost before the third round for the first time in four trips to the U.S. Open, upset by 96th-ranked Johanna Larsson.
Down a set and a break, Larsson rallied to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round.
This was the second big women’s upset of the day. Peng Shuai beat fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, the first top-10 player knocked out of the tournament.
• Johnson withdraws: American Steve Johnson had to retire from his first-round match at the U.S. Open because of severe cramping.
The two-time NCAA champ led two sets to one and was up a break in the fourth when he collapsed on the court and started writhing in pain. Johnson eventually tried to play on, but could barely move.
• Bryans win opener: Bob and Mike Bryan opened their quest for a fifth U.S. Open crown and their 100th overall title together with a 6-2, 6-3 first-round victory over Max Mirnyi and Mikhail Youzhny.
The 36-year-old Bryan twins, the world’s top-ranked doubles team, slammed six aces and never lost serve in an efficient victory that got them off court in less than an hour.
Sanchez lifts Arsenal past Besiktas, 1-0
SOCCER: Alexis Sanchez scored his first Arsenal goal, and the Gunners beat Besiktas 1-0 in London to reach the Champions League group stage for the 17th consecutive season.
The Chilean forward, acquired last month from Barcelona, scored in first-half injury time to put Arsenal ahead following a 0-0 first leg last week in the home-and-home, total-goals series.
The Gunners have been in the group stage every season since 1998-99, and Athletic Bilbao is back for the first time since then after beating Napoli 3-1 to advance on 4-2 aggregate.
Malmo will be Sweden’s first group stage representative in 14 years after beating Salzburg 3-0 to advance 4-2. Bayer Leverkusen routed Copenhagen 4-0 for a 7-2 win.
• Alonso retiring: Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso, one of the key figures in Spain’s dominant era that included two European championships, says he is retiring from international football.
The former Liverpool midfielder scored 16 goals in 114 Spain appearances. He started every game at the 2010 World Cup, helping Spain win the tournament for the first time.
• Omitted Eto’o retires: Samuel Eto’o says he is retiring from international football, days after being left out of Cameroon’s latest squad and stripped of the captaincy.
Eto’o made his debut a day before he turned 16 and went on to play more than 100 games for his country, scoring a record 56 goals. He played at four World Cups, won the African Cup of Nations twice and claimed an Olympic gold medal.
Iowa Barnstormers move from AFL to IFL
MISCELLANY: The Iowa Barnstormers have relegated themselves.
The Barnstormers announced that they’ll be moving from the Arena Football League to the lower-tier Indoor Football League for the 2015 season.
President Jeff Lamberti says the “economic aspects” of the IFL are more fitting for the team in Des Moines, which was among the smallest markets in the AFL. The IFL is largely based in the Midwest and includes teams in nearby Cedar Rapids and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
• Rivers gets extension: Doc Rivers is staying with the Los Angeles Clippers for another five years.
In Steve Ballmer’s first big move since taking over as the team’s new owner last week, he has locked in Rivers through the 2019 season. Yahoo Sports reported the total value of the contract at more than $50 million.
Rivers guided the Clippers to the best record in franchise history at 57-25 last season.
• Georgia State snaps losing-streak: Will Lutz kicked a 26-yard field goal with 4 seconds left and Georgia State won for the first time as an FBS member, beating Abilene Christian 38-37 in Atlanta.
Georgia State snapped a 16-game skid, dating to its time as an FCS program in 2012.
Nick Arbuckle directed the Panthers on a 72-yard drive in the final 2:45. He passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns.
• Degenkolb wins 5th stage: German rider John Degenkolb timed his final sprint perfectly to win a sunny fifth stage of the Spanish Vuelta in Ronda, Spain.
Degenkolb broke free from the pack with 600 meters to go and crossed the line in 4 hours, 41 minutes, 47 seconds, just ahead of Nacer Bouhanni and Moreno Hofland.