Arrow-right Camera
Sports

Digest: Serena Williams loses to Karolina Pliskova at U.S. Open semifinal for 2nd year in row

Karolina Pliskova reacts after breaking Serena Williams' serve. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)
Karolina Pliskova reacts after breaking Serena Williams' serve. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Tennis: For the second year in a row, Serena Williams’ bid to make history ended with a shocking loss in the U.S. Open semifinals.

A seventh title at Flushing Meadows, which would have been an Open-era record, will have to wait. So will a 23rd Grand Slam championship, another record. And her 3 1/2-year reign at No. 1 in the WTA rankings is over, too, one week shy of what would have been yet another mark.

Undone by a half-dozen double-faults, including on match point, and dealing with an injured left knee that limited her movement, Williams was upset 6-2, 7-6 (5) by big-serving Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic on Thursday night in new York.

“Karolina played great today. I think if she had played any less, then maybe I would have had a chance,” Williams said. “So I think I wasn’t at 100 percent, but I also think she played well. She deserved to win today.”

The 10th-seeded Pliskova began her on-court interview by blurting out that she couldn’t believe she’d eliminated Williams to earn a spot in her first major final. Then Pliskova changed course, saying: “I mean, actually, I do believe it. I always knew I have a chance to beat anyone if I’m playing my game.”

At the 2015 U.S. Open, Williams’ bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam ended when she lost in the semifinals to unseeded Roberta Vinci of Italy in one of the biggest surprises in tennis history. This one goes pretty high on the list, too.

This was the 33rd major semifinal of Williams’ career, and the first for Pliskova, who beat the 34-year-old American’s older sister Venus in the fourth round. Pliskova is only the fourth woman to beat both Williams siblings during the same Grand Slam tournament.

And to think: The 24-year-old Pliskova had never been past the third round in 17 previous appearances at majors.

“I had a goal today to beat Serena. That’s what I did,” Pliskova said. “I don’t care who is there in the final.”

Her opponent Saturday will be No. 2 Angelique Kerber or Caroline Wozniacki. Regardless, Kerber will move up one spot to No. 1 on Monday, ending Williams’ stay at the top after 186 consecutive weeks, exactly the same number that Steffi Graf compiled to set the record.

Williams, who refused to answer questions about the rankings, and Graf also share the mark for most Grand Slam titles since 1968, when professionals were first admitted to majors. And Williams remains even with Chris Evert with six U.S. Open trophies.

Lochte banned, loses $100,000 in bonuses

Miscellany: Ryan Lochte will forfeit $100,000 and a chance to swim at next year’s world championships as part of the penalty for his drunken encounter at a gas station in Brazil during last month’s Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming announced the penalties Thursday. Lochte is banned through the end of June, which means he won’t be able to qualify for July’s world championships, which normally don’t draw top fields in the year after the Olympics.

“As we have said previously, the behavior of these athletes was not acceptable. It unfairly maligned our hosts and diverted attention away from the historic achievements of Team USA,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said. “Each of the athletes has accepted responsibility for his actions and accepted the appropriate sanctions.”

Lochte will also get no monthly funding from either the USOC or USA Swimming. He can’t access USOC training centers, must perform 20 hours of community service and will miss Team USA’s post-Olympics trip to the White House.

Lochte’s attorney, Jeff Ostrow, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

North America beats Europe 4-0: Nathan MacKinnon scored on a third-period penalty shot for his second goal of the game in Team North America’s 4-0 victory over Team Europe in a World Cup of Hockey exhibition game in Quebec City.

MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Johnny Gaudreau scored in a 4:43 span of the second period for the team made up of Canadian and U.S players age 23 or under as of Oct. 1. Matt Murray made 23 saves.

The teams will meet again Sunday night in Montreal.

Castro leads: Roberto Castro was just as good before the rain as he was after the storms cleared and shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday for the temporary lead in the BMW Championship in Carmel, Indiana.

Heavy rain delayed the opening round for 3 1/2 hours and changed Crooked Stick’s greens from hard and fast to soft and accessible.

The first round was to resume at 8 a.m. Friday, with more bad weather in the forecast.

Brian Harman had a 66. Dustin Johnson drove into the water on the 18th hole for bogey, giving him a 67.

FIFA upholds transfer bans: Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have lost their appeals against one-year transfer bans by FIFA for breaking rules protecting underage players.

On Thursday, FIFA’s appeals committee dismissed challenges by both clubs after transfer embargoes were imposed in January. The bans were later frozen pending the appeals verdicts.

NCAA might rethink Olympic bonuses

College athletics: NCAA President Mark Emmert says member schools might reconsider allowing college athletes who compete in the Olympics to accept payments for performance.

The NCAA rules allow athletes to accept money for training from the U.S. Olympic Committee or similar organizations in other countries along with national sports governing bodies. Athletes can also keep bonuses given for winning medals. A gold medal was worth $25,000 for U.S. athletes in Rio. A silver paid $15,000 and a bronze $10,000.

For some countries, the payments are much greater. Swimmer Joseph Schooling, who attends the University of Texas and competes for Singapore, received more than $750,000 for winning gold in the 100 butterfly.

Emmert said Thursday during an interview with Aspen Institute that amount was far more than what NCAA membership had in mind.

Michigan State season opener moved: Michigan State’s season-opening basketball game against Arizona on Veteran’s Day no longer will be played at Pearl Harbor. ESPN announced Thursday that the fifth-annual Armed Forces Classic on Nov. 11 has been moved to the University of Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. A reason for the venue change was not given.

The Spartans and Wildcats will play at 7 p.m. ET.

Maryland to play at World University Games: The Maryland women’s basketball team will represent the U.S. at the World University Games next summer in Taiwan.

It’s just the second time that a women’s college team will play in the games as the American entry. UNC Charlotte participated in 2007. The Big 12 conference fielded a team in 2003.


Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!