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Update September 08 - 09, 2018

Cheika takes gamble on Beale, Toomua in Springboks test

Australia's Curtly Beale tries to tackle New Zealand's Damian McKenzie in the Bledisloe Cup rugby test match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday Aug. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/David Rowland)

By The Associated Press

Brisbane, Australia (AP) — Michael Cheika has taken one of the biggest selection gambles of his coaching career ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship test against South Africa in the hope of lifting Australia out of an extended slump and avoiding a drop to its lowest-ever world ranking.

The Wallabies have lost six of their last seven tests, including 38-13 and 40-12 defeats by New Zealand in the first two matches of the Championship. A loss to the Springboks would see Australia drop below South Africa and Scotland to seventh place - its lowest spot since world rankings began in 2003.

Cheika has said he is not preoccupied with the vigorous public debate over his future, though he can hardly be oblivious to it. In that light, he has insisted the selection gamble he has taken is not reactionary - a response to the Wallabies heavy losses to the All Blacks and their backlash - but a proactive way to "shake things up."

Still, Cheika's decision to drop flyhalf Bernard Foley to the bench for the first time in his 51-test career and to start Kurtley Beale at flyhalf for the first time since 2014 is more than just a whim of selection. It may be a career-defining gamble.

"I'm not looking to mix and match for the sake of it," Cheika said. "It's a big test for us. I think this is the best combination for us to go into this game.

"I thought Kurtley deserves an opportunity back in the 10 jersey. He's had it before and I think he's matured a lot as a player and person and I certainly trust him to be in charge of the team there."

Cheika's purpose in dropping Foley and entrusting the flyhalf role to the veteran utility player isn't entirely clear. In naming Matt Toomua in Beale's place at inside center, he gives himself the option of continuing the two playmaker setup which has been a feature of his coaching style.

Whether he is right to have confidence in Toomua, who has just returned to Australian rugby after a long stint in England, will be decided on Saturday.

"Toomua has come back with a lot of confidence and he likes the shape of the game and he fits into it quite nicely," Cheika said. "I'd like to get on the front a bit more in attack and throw out a bit of a challenge there and give the opportunity to Toomua and Beal and then see how the other lads respond."

Beale has a powerful kicking game and poses a significantly bigger running threat than Foley at first receiver, especially from phase play. That might bring a challenge of unpredictability to the Springboks defense which was far from perfect in its most recent 32-19 loss to Argentina.

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, who swaps from the openside to the blindside flank on Saturday, said Beale would be a major threat.

"Putting Kurtley Beale there, obviously they want to attack," Kolisi said. "He's a very good attacking flyhalf."

Australia had a major setback Friday when veteran backrower David Pocock was forced to withdraw with a neck injury. He was replaced by Pete Samu, who initially missed selection in the 23-man squad.

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus also sprang selection surprises aftetr his team's loss to Argentina, dropping influential hooker Malcolm Marx to the bench. But Kolisi said those changes were planned at the start of the championship to give as many players as possible test experience.

"There would be nothing better than executing the coach's plan while winning," he said. "Obviously people will look at it differently because of the loss (to Argentina) but we knew three weeks ago of these changes."

Rugby Australia's board has expressed full confidence in Cheika for now and said he will remain in charge until his contract ends after the 2019 World Cup in Japan. But a further loss, particularly if selection errors contribute, and a declining world ranking would likely increase pressure from fans on the governing body to step in.

England seeks improvement after unlikely World Cup journey

England manager Gareth Southgate attends a training session at St Georges' Park, Burton, England, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. The England squad has gathered ahead of international matches against Spain and Switzerland and it’s a chance for players to reminisce about their journey to the World Cup semifinals in a summer when the English fell back in love with their national soccer team. (David Davies/PA via AP)

By Steve Douglas, AP Sports Writer

For English soccer, the first two-week international period of the new season often doubles as the next phase of a post-mortem into the national team's failings at a recent tournament.

Not so much this time.

As the squad gathered at its St. George's Park training base this week ahead of matches against Spain and Switzerland, it was a chance for the players to reminisce about their journey to the World Cup semifinals during a summer when the English fell back in love with their vibrant team.

Yet, despite all the euphoria, soccer didn't come home and the wait for a first international title since 1966 goes on.

England will do well to address the reasons behind the semifinal loss to Croatia, rather than bask in its unlikely progress to the last four in Russia and its best World Cup performance since 1990.

And the visit of Spain — with its seemingly limitless supply of gifted and technical midfielders — to Wembley Stadium on Sunday could serve as a stark reminder about where England's main weakness lies at the start of the journey toward the European Championship in 2020.

Jordan Henderson, the most experienced member of England's midfield, watched a replay of the Croatia game soon after returning home from the World Cup. He couldn't help but notice a flaw that has affected England's midfield for some time, even when the so-called "golden generation" of Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Frank Lampard were playing.

"One of the biggest things I picked up is that we didn't keep the ball well enough in the second half, especially when we were under pressure," Henderson said. "In those situations, when you're under pressure, you have to keep the ball."

How England could do with someone like Luka Modric, who helped turn the match in Croatia's favor that night in Moscow, or any of the Spain midfielders — Isco, Thiago Alcantra and Saul Niguez among them — expected to line up at Wembley.

Game management, especially against top-quality rivals, has been England's undoing and the team panicked under pressure against Croatia, at times hoofing the ball long or taking on an opponent when a simple pass would have done. The same happened in two matches against Belgium (one in the group stage and the other in the third-place playoff) and also in the latter stages of the last-16 match against Colombia, the other teams with a strong, technical midfield that England faced at the World Cup.

England coach Gareth Southgate must decide if the midfield of Henderson or Eric Dier along with two attacking No. 8s — Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are the best options — gives his midfield enough security and ball-playing prowess.

One player who would have added more technical ability is Adam Lallana, but he was injured in training this week and isn't available. Leicester midfielder James Maddison has lots of potential, but he was selected in England's under-21 squad.

Other issues facing Southgate:


Southgate largely kept faith with the players who excelled at the World Cup but the international retirements of Jamie Vardy and Ashley Young will have given him some thinking to do.

Young was the left wing back in Russia, and his place will be taken by either Danny Rose or Luke Shaw. Fit again after two years of injury problems, Shaw has started the season well at Manchester United and might get the nod.

Vardy was the main back-up to striker Harry Kane and his departure leaves Southgate with Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck, who rarely start for their clubs and mostly feature out wide when they do, as his other options.


Another thing puncturing optimism generated from the summer is the sight of Fabian Delph, Loftus-Cheek and Rashford kicking their heels on the benches of Premier League teams this season, and even Lingard and Henderson having to battle to get playing time.

Phil Foden, the highly rated midfielder who starred in England's World Cup-winning under-17 team, was expected to get more action at Manchester City this season after Kevin De Bruyne's injury but he has played only about 10 minutes in City's first four games.

Southgate has bemoaned England's small pool of available talent, saying English players have played 30.4 percent of the 7,200 minutes in the Premier League this season — down from 33 percent at the same time last season.

He also said the bridge from the Premier League academies to the first team is getting tougher to cross because of the number of foreign stars in the division and the short-term thinking of some managers.

"If players are as good as any young players around the world, then that opportunity needs to be there," Southgate said. "If we are encouraging young players about entering academies, we are selling them the dream and there's an ethical element there, too."

Foles shows off catching skills, Eagles beat Falcons 18-12

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles catches a pass during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Rob Maaddi, AP Pro Football Writer

Philadelphia (AP) — Nick Foles could end up playing a new position when Carson Wentz comes back if he keeps this up.

Foles caught another pass in a clutch spot to spark a sputtering offense that looked out of sync and the defense picked up right where it left off last time it faced Atlanta.

After seeing their "world champions" banner unveiled, the Philadelphia Eagles took the first step toward trying to become the first team to repeat in 14 years by stopping Matt Ryan to Julio Jones on the final play again in an 18-12 victory over the Falcons on Thursday night.

Foles hardly looked like Super Bowl MVP until coach Doug Pederson called his number in the third quarter when the offense needed a spark. Foles caught a 15-yard pass from Nelson Agholor to extend a drive that ended with Jay Ajayi scoring the first of his two touchdown runs.

"It's great to have it at the right time if you can catch a team (off guard)," Foles said. "Everybody loves a good trick play."

Foles caught a 1-yard TD pass from tight end Trey Burton in the first half of Philadelphia's 41-33 win over New England in the Super Bowl. Foles asked Pederson on the sideline if he wanted "Philly Philly" but called the play "Philly Special" in the huddle. This one was "Philly Philly" and Pederson said he borrowed it from New England's playbook. Tom Brady dropped that pass.

"Offensively, we were sort of misfiring a little bit," Pederson said. "Just were looking for a big play, somebody to make a play. It felt like the right time."

If the Eagles need any help at receiver once Wentz is cleared to play after knee surgery last December, Foles is ready to go.

Well, not really.

A sloppy, mistake-filled game that featured 26 penalties came down to Ryan throwing an incomplete pass to Jones in the left corner of the end zone on the final play from Philadelphia's 5.

Jones couldn't come down with Ryan's pass from the 2 in the right corner of the end zone in Atlanta's 15-10 loss in the divisional round in January.

"It was deja vu," said cornerback Ronald Darby, who covered Jones on the last play this time around instead of Jalen Mills. "Jones is one of the best but we got the stop."

A weather delay pushed kickoff back 45 minutes, forcing fans to wait a bit longer for the championship ceremony. Wearing his gold Hall of Fame jacket, former safety Brian Dawkins riled up the sellout crowd with owner Jeffrey Lurie by his side and led a chorus of "Fly Eagles Fly."

It was the most excitement for a while on a hot, muggy night that seemed more like an August preseason game than a playoff rematch. Both teams looked rusty after many starters didn't play much in preseason.

Here are some things we learned from the game:

RED ZONE WOES: The Falcons were 1 for 5 in the red zone after struggling inside the opponents' 20 last year. Second-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian spent plenty of time in the offseason trying to improve the team's scoring efficiency. Jones only had three TD catches last season. He had 10 receptions for 169 yards but didn't score.

"It's never discouraging," Jones said/ "We just got to keep working, stick together and make plays and get things called down there."


Jay Ajayi had 62 yards rushing on 15 carries. His 11-yard TD run and 2-point conversion gave the Eagles a lead with 2:25 left. Ajayi ran in from the 1 on the drive Foles made the catch.

"I knew I would have a good day if I just stayed being myself and being the Jay Train," Ajayi said.


Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks had 1 sacks in his first game since rupturing his Achilles tendon last October. Hicks also committed a penalty on fourth down that allowed the Falcons to have one more play at the end but the defense bailed him out.

"The ability to get back out there and have fun and celebrate and have passion no matter the play, it feels good," Hicks said.


Falcons safety Keanu Neal left the game with a knee injury in the first half but coach Dan Quinn said it doesn't appear serious. Long snapper Josh Harris had his streak of 103 consecutive games played end because of a hip injury.

Wentz, who hasn't been medically cleared for contact, threw passes and did other drills while wearing a brace on his left knee during warmups.

Inspired by Superfly fights, Ioka mounts comeback at Forum

In this May 8, 2013, file photo, Japanese champion Kazuto Ioka, right, sends a right to Thai challenger Wisanu Kokietgym in the fourth round of their WBA light flyweight boxing title match in Osaka, western Japan. Ioka knocked out Wisanu in the ninth round to retain his title. Ioka is ending his brief retirement to make his U.S. debut against McWilliams Arroyo on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. He hopes the bout will lead to a title shot in his fourth weight class. (Kyodo News via AP, File)

By Greg Beacham, AP Sports Writer

Santa Monica, Calif. (AP) — Kazuto Ioka bought tickets online and valet-parked at the Forum. The recently retired three-division world champion was just another spectator eating a hot dog in the stands last winter while some of the world's best super flyweight boxers put on an outstanding show.

Ioka has spent his life in boxing gyms, but had never really been to the fights as a fan. After he experienced the crackling atmosphere at the Superfly 2 show in Inglewood, the vacationing Japanese star suddenly realized he had to fight again, preferably in this very ring.

"I had never seen the fighting environment in America," Ioka said through a translator after a workout this week at the Wild Card West gym. "I got that feeling inside of me that I wanted to fight. All of the fighters who went in there on that show, I was imagining myself fighting all of them. I just wanted to be in there."

He'll be in there Saturday night for Superfly 3.

Eight months after he hung up his gloves, Ioka (22-1, 13 KOs) will fight outside Japan and at 115 pounds for the first time in his career. He is in an intriguing matchup with Puerto Rico's McWilliams Arroyo — one of the fighters Ioka watched from the stands in February.

Thanks to promoter Tom Loeffler, Ioka even got his wish to fight in the latest chapter of the Superfly fight series, which showcases the world's top talent in the super flyweight division and thereabouts.

Another live-wire crowd filled with LA's loud, knowledgeable boxing fans is guaranteed for a show headlined by a 115-pound matchup between Mexican stars Juan Francisco Estrada and Felipe Orucuta, along with a WBO super flyweight title fight between the Philippines' Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte.

The 29-year-old Ioka's comeback bout is a similarly compelling spectacle. He might have been the world's top 112-pounder last winter, and even though his "retirement" only lasted about three months, his return is filled with uncertainty about his sharpness and strength at a new weight.

Ioka insists he thought he was done with fighting when he walked away. He had reached his goal of surpassing the achievements of his uncle, two-division world champ Hiroki Ioka, and he had allowed his training to lapse since his marriage to Nana Tanimura, a Japanese pop star.

Ioka had hit a wall in his career and his life, which largely had been spent training under his father and manager, Kazunori Ioka.

"It's hard to put it in words, but in Japan, there was nothing for me," Ioka said. "I had reached my goals, so there was really nothing there."

That trip to Inglewood rekindled the spark, and he got back in the gym shortly afterward. His management company reached out to Loeffler, the promoter behind both Gennady Golovkin's international rise and the Superfly shows, to see if Ioka could fight at the Forum.

"I knew his name, but I had to look him up," Loeffler said. "He had been champion for so long, but only fought in Japan. I've become kind of an expert now in the super flyweight ratings, finding out which guys can fight, or if he needs a visa. It's very gratifying working with these (smaller) fighters, because they look at me as an opportunity to provide them with a platform, and I look at them as great guys, great fighters who will put on a great show for the fans."

With his father's apparent approval, Ioka left Japan to train in Las Vegas under Ismael Salas, Hiroki Ioka's former trainer. Ioka wanted a fresh start, and he got it in the desert.

After winning major belts at strawweight, junior flyweight and flyweight, Ioka has decided he would like to become Japan's first four-division world champion. He'll be in prime position for a shot at the WBC super flyweight title if he can get past Arroyo, an ex-Olympian and title contender who returned from a 22-month layoff at Superfly 2 last February and upset Mexico's Carlos Cuadras.

"It's a big challenge, but it means a lot to me," Ioka said. "I want to keep going for all the people that have supported me."

Update September 07, 2018

Real Madrid in draw for 7-team Club World Cup

Former Argentine footballer Esteban Cambiasso displays the name of Real Madrid during the Official Draw for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)

ZURICH (AP) — Real Madrid will face either the champions of Asia or Mexican club Guadalajara in the Club World Cup semifinals.

FIFA made the draw Tuesday for the seven-team tournament, which will be played from Dec. 12-22 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Copa Libertadores champion will represent South America in the semifinals against the African champion or the winner of a preliminary-round game between Al Ain and Oceania champion Team Wellington. Al Ain will enter as the host nation's champion, joining the six continental champions.

FIFA wants to launch a 24-team Club World Cup in 2021.

Russian clubs struggle to maintain World Cup momentum

In this Tuesday, June 19, 2018 file photo, from left, Russia's Alexander Golovin, Denis Cheryshev, Artyom Dzyuba, and Roman Zobnin celebrate the first goal of the group A match between Russia and Egypt at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the St. Petersburg stadium in St. Petersburg, Russia. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, file)

By James Ellingworth, AP Sports Writer

Moscow (AP) — For Russia's top clubs, it's almost as if the World Cup never happened.

The national team made an incredible run to the World Cup quarterfinals, but Russia's clubs have struggled to show any momentum in European competitions this season.

Spartak Moscow was knocked out of the Champions League by Greek team PAOK Thessaloniki, while Zenit St. Petersburg scraped past Belarusian and Norwegian teams in Europa League qualifying. FC Ufa's Europa League debut ended last week in a frustrating loss to a Rangers team playing with nine men.

The transfer window was quiet, too.

Gone are the days when Zenit could spend more than 80 million euros ($92 million) in a single day to sign Brazil striker Hulk and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, as it did in 2012. The billionaire, local governments and state-owned companies which fund many leading clubs have tightened their purse-strings after a drop in the ruble made foreign deals more expensive.

Some of the Russian league's biggest names left this year as the star midfielder of Russia's World Cup squad, Alexander Golovin, quit CSKA Moscow for Monaco, Dutch forward Quincy Promes departed Spartak for Sevilla and Zenit sold Italian defender Domenico Criscito to Genoa.

Transfer spending has been modest, with the best-known arrivals being veterans trying to rebuild their careers.

There's Abel Hernandez of CSKA Moscow, who missed out on Uruguay's World Cup squad, plus Benedikt Hoewedes, a World Cup winner with Germany in 2014 and now at Lokomotiv Moscow, and Grzegorz Krychowiak, on loan at Lokomotiv because he is surplus at Paris Saint-Germain.

"We lost a lot of top players in the last years that went to other leagues and countries," said Alexander Zotov, the CEO of Russia's main players' union. "I'm not saying it deteriorated, but the level of football is not growing if you take superstar players away. But if they keep the atmosphere among the fans, you can see the games played in full capacity stadiums, the game changes and they drive the energy to the players. Really, it's another game."

Provincial teams in the second division are attracting club-record attendances to their gleaming World Cup stadiums, typically locals who couldn't make it to a World Cup game.

Rotor Volgograd, Mordovia Saransk and FC Nizhny Novgorod are all averaging more than 23,000 spectators at their first few games this season, in some cases five or 10 times the typical crowd last year. In Kaliningrad and Sochi, the picture is less rosy, with average crowds of 10,000 and 8,500, respectively.

The challenge now is to maintain that World Cup buzz through the winter, and to pay for the costly stadiums.

For Mordovia to attract fans in one of Russia's poorer regions, it sells many tickets for as little as 100 rubles ($1.50), though the stadium is estimated to cost between 200 and 260 million rubles ($2.95 to $3.85 million) a year in maintenance.

Financial instability has long been a feature of Russian soccer. That was underlined when FC Tosno, last season's Russian Cup winner and one of the few smaller clubs in private ownership, shut down a month later, citing severe financial problems.

Zotov said players at Baltika Kaliningrad, a second-division club now playing at a World Cup stadium, have complained of unpaid wages and bonuses going back several months.

Despite the World Cup, running clubs "is not a priority" for the state companies and regional governments who dominate soccer, he said.

"There are still enthusiasts and people who work," Zotov said. "It's a matter of running the club properly and not doing crazy things and not signing crazy contracts."

Regional officials have begged the government for help paying for their arenas, but it seems corners have already been cut on maintenance. The lights went out at the new stadium in Samara last month because the company which built it had allegedly failed to pay the electricity bill for several months.

A campaign group founded by President Vladimir Putin has called for an inquiry into why an earth embankment at the stadium in Volgograd collapsed into a road during heavy rain on the day of the World Cup final, and why another stadium's roof leaks.

Despite the clouds gathering over parts of Russia's World Cup legacy, Zotov said it's a great lesson for how to market the game.

"The World Cup is a tournament that develops interest by itself because everybody has heard about it. You get into the hype. It overwhelms everybody," he said. "If you take the (Russian) Premier League, first division, you have to work on developing this interest among potential customers or fans that would come. They might be interested but they're not sure. You have to develop a story around the players, the competition between the teams, explain it, and make the stadiums also a fun place to visit."

Pakistan drops all-rounders Hafeez and Wasim

Sarafraz Ahmed, center, captain of Pakistani cricket team briefs players during the team practice session in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. Ehsan Mani was officially elected unopposed as the chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board on Tuesday. Prime minister Imran Khan, who is also patron of the PCB, nominated Mani as the member of the Board of Governors last month after Najam Sethi resigned as the PCB chairman. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Islamabad (AP) — Pakistan has dropped all-rounders Mohammad Hafeez and the unfit Imad Wasim for this month's Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Hafeez was part of Pakistan's squad which whitewashed Zimbabwe 5-0 in its last ODI series but didn't feature in any of the playing elevens.

All-rounder Wasim, who is also a left-arm spinner, has not played in any of the three formats since injuring his knee last year. He failed a fitness test and despite given one more opportunity couldn't pass the test on Tuesday just before the squad for the Asia Cup was announced.

The selectors have included two uncapped players - opening batsman Shan Masood and 18-year-old fast bowler Shaheen Afridi - in the 16-member squad.

Masood, who has played 12 test matches, has impressed the selectors in the recent domestic competition, scoring three centuries and five half centuries.

The squad is loaded with six fast bowlers with experienced Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali leading a group that also includes Faheem Ashraf, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan and Afridi.

In the absence of Hafeez, Mohammad Nawaz and Haris Sohail could shoulder the spin responsibilities with Shadab Khan and experienced Shoaib Malik.

Pakistan will play against a qualifier in its opening Asia Cup match on Sept. 16 before taking on arch-rivals India in the group game on Sept. 19.

Squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi

Tim Weah can't escape famous name on back of PSG & US jersey

In this Aug. 17, 2018, file photo, Paris Saint-Germain's Timothy Weah, center, runs with teammates during a training session at the club's training center in Saint Germain en Laye, France. Weah, the 18-year-old son of former FIFA Player of the Year and current Liberia President George Weah, says he turned down a possible loan to remain and learn this season at Paris Saint-Germain, where he just scored his first Ligue 1 goal. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

By Ronald Blum, AP Sports Writer

Whippany, N.J. (AP) — Tim Weah knows he can't escape the name on the back on his jersey.

The 18-year-old midfielder is the son of George Weah, the 1995 FIFA Player of the Year and current president of Liberia.

"I use that to my advantage," Tim Weah said at training with the U.S. national team this week ahead of Friday's exhibition against Brazil. "With whatever I do, there's always going to be hate, there's always going to be people who are going to say, 'He's not as good as his dad.'"

Weah made his U.S. debut in March, just weeks after making his first senior appearance for Paris Saint-Germain, one of his dad's former teams. Tim Weah in May became the fourth-youngest American to score, got his first competitive goal for PSG in the French Cup last month, and then scored his first Ligue 1 goal in the season opener against Caen.

His hair newly trimmed, Weah reported to camp as the youngest on the 25-man roster, already viewed as a possible part of a new-look U.S. national team for 2022 World Cup qualifying. He's trying to join a forming core that includes midfielders Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams (both 19), midfielder Weston McKennie and defender Cameron Carter-Vickers (both 20) and defender Matt Miazga (23).

"You still have the next step. You can't jump three places," cautioned interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan. "I think Tim's certainly coming in with confidence, and he now knows me, my staff, this team, what's expected. But he's still very young, and so we can't expect him to be a seasoned guy today."

Weah is with a PSG team coming off its fifth league title in six seasons, on a roster that includes stars Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria. He had the chance to accept a loan for the 2018-19 season but stayed at PSG under new coach Thomas Tuchel, who in early 2016 gave Pulisic his debut with Borussia Dortmund's senior team.

"Watching Dortmund, seeing Christian play so many games at his age, really made me believe in his coaching tactics and techniques," Weah said. "He's really pushing us young guys to make our mark and get out there and do our thing, and that's what makes him happy the most. And I love him as a coach and I love him as a person. He's just really pushed me to be a better player, and I can't wait to see where the season takes us."

Weah is the rare player who would rather learn in training than seek increased playing time elsewhere.

"I don't really want to rush anything. I'm only 18 — I'm still 18 and I have a long way to go, and right now is just me being an apprentice," he said. "Maybe next year, who knows, I'll take my talents on loan somewhere else and see what that really does for me, but right now I'm content with what I have and I'm content at PSG."

George Weah endorses that mindset.

"He tells me, 'Just wait your turn,'" Tim Weah said. "You're playing with stars. It's not going to happen immediately."

Weah's first league goal was the result of unusual drudgery. With PSG ahead by two goals in the 89th minute, he chased down a back pass to defender Alexander Djiku, who played the ball back to goalkeeper Brice Samba. Weah kept tracking back and when Samba took a touch and failed to clear the ball, Weah pounced and kicked the ball in with his left foot from 2 yards before the keeper could get a second touch.

"I stayed persistent," Weah said. "I ran after the goalkeeper. And I think that's the thing that we've got to look at, is me not giving up on the play. And I feel like hard work really does pay off, as that goal shows."

Born in Brooklyn at a time his dad commuted from Europe to New York between games, Weah grew up in the New York area and Florida, then moved to France to join PSG's academy at age 14. He believes he is part of the group that can reboot the U.S. team, which failed to qualify for the World Cup after seven straight appearances.

"We can only go forward. We're still young, super young," Weah said. "We have something big here, and it's just developing in the right way, us getting used to each other and gaining maturity and I think that's the most important thing. And once we have that, we'll beat any team and I feel we can even do that now. But it's just a matter of time before things start clicking together and we start getting the job done."

Update September 06, 2018

Wheelchair competition gets going at US Open

Kgothatso "KG" Montjane returns a shot during a practice session for the wheelchair competition at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Kgothatso "KG" Montjane maneuvers her wheelchair during a practice session for the wheelchair competition at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

David Wagner returns a shot during a practice session for the wheelchair competition at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

By Pat Eaton-Robb, AP Sports Writer

New York (AP) — David Wagner is attempting to win his fourth U.S. Open singles title and his ninth in doubles.

The United States' most decorated wheelchair player begins his run Thursday in the U.S. Open Wheelchair Competition, part of a field of 20, that also includes Kgothatso "KG" Montjane, who this year became the first black South African woman, wheelchair or not, to play at Wimbledon.

Wheelchair tennis has been around for more than four decades with 120 professional events in 80 countries, but only recently become a mainstay all four Grand Slams.

It has been played at the U.S. Open since 2005, but did not have a match in Arthur Ashe Stadium until last year. It will have two more played there this week.

"The Grand Slams incorporating wheelchair tennis has brought a new sense of notoriety and professionalism to our sport," said Jason Harnett, the USTA's national manager for wheelchair tennis.

"The fact that we're engaged here has made it much more popular with the able-bodied population, because now they have access to our elite athletes."

It has also led to some new milestones for the sport.  Australian Dylan Alcott beat Wagner in January in an Australian Open final that was played for the first time inside Rod Laver Arena and in front of a national TV audience.

"Those are some huge strides," said the 44-year-old Wagner, who has been playing competitively since 1999.

This week's competition will include men's and women's singles and doubles, as well as quad singles and doubles, which involves players who have substantial loss of function in at least one upper limb.

Wagner plays in the quad division.  He was a community college tennis player before an accident at the beach when he was 21. He was jumping for a Frisbee when he was flipped by a wave and landed on his head.

He understands that the first thing fans see during a wheelchair match is the chair. They also notice that athletes can play the ball on the second bounce, which is the only rules difference between wheelchair and able-bodied tennis.

It's OK to notice the wheelchair, as long as that's not all fans see, said 27-year-old American Dana Mathewson, who lost her ability to walk when she was 10 years old because of a rare neurological disease.

What they can expect from a match, she said, is elite players whizzing around the court, flying into the net and getting to shots that seem impossible to make.

"We are athletes, one and the same as everybody else here," she said. "We work just as hard. We prepare just as well. It's just that we do things a little bit differently. But we are athletes, and that's what we want people to see."

The players say it is hard for many of them to make a living solely by playing wheelchair tennis. The wheelchair athletes here are competing for $350,000 in total prize money, and the singles winners ($31,200 for men and women, $23,400 for the quad) will take home less than a first-round loser receives ($54,000) in the main singles draw, said Wagner.

The players said the next big step for the sport will be to increase the size of the draws at major tournaments, so the money is spread among more players and fans aren't seeing the same 20 athletes over and over.

But Montjane, who was born with a congenital condition that affected the growth of her limbs, said she and most wheelchair athletes aren't playing just for the money.

"I am a woman who came from a disadvantaged background and grew up with a disability," she said. "For me, it's about giving hope and sharing with others that we live in the world of possibilities. You're disability doesn't define your abilities."

Germany looking for fresh start after disastrous World Cup

Joachim Loew, head coach of the men's German national soccer team, addresses the media during a press conference in Munich Germany, Sept. 5, 2018. Germany will face the team of France for a UEFA Nations Cup match in Munich on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press

Munich (AP) — Expect a complete transformation despite the same personnel when Germany plays World Cup champion France on Thursday.

Germany coach Joachim Loew is still in charge, Reinhardt Grindel is still the head of the country's soccer association, and there are only three new players in a squad under pressure to produce results, and fast.

"It's up to the team to light the spark and get excitement going again," Loew said Wednesday. "Then the fans will get back on our side."

Casting a shadow over the team that won the 2014 World Cup is Mesut Ozil, who retired from international soccer amid accusations of racism. The Arsenal midfielder felt he was made a scapegoat for Germany's first-round exit at the World Cup in Russia after being subjected to abuse over his pre-tournament photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ozil was particularly scathing of Grindel for adding fuel to the fire - the federation president acknowledged he handled the affair badly by calling on "answers" from the player - and Loew remains bitter that his efforts to get in touch with Ozil failed.

"When a player tenders his resignation like that, then you don't bring him back eight to 10 weeks later," Loew said.

Loew is under tremendous pressure to show his decision to stay is the right one, while Grindel and the federation are under pressure after leaving the decision in his hands. The only post-World Cup managerial change was to put assistant coach Thomas Schneider in charge of the scouting department.

Of the 23-man World Cup squad, Loew has called up 17 for the initial UEFA Nations League game against France in Munich and the friendly against Peru in Sinsheim three days later.

The three new call-ups - Nico Schulz of Hoffenheim, Kai Havertz of Bayer Leverkusen and Thilo Kehrer of Paris Saint-Germain - maintain Loew's long-established tendency to introduce new players after major tournaments.

The 33-year-old Mario Gomez has retired, while Sami Khedira, Sebastian Rudy, Kevin Trapp and the injured Marvin Plattenhardt were all dropped - albeit with good chances of forcing their way back into the squad.

The likes of 2014 champions Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller remain the cornerstones of the team, despite their inability to lead Germany into the knockout round in Russia after losses to Mexico and South Korea.

"You're wrong if you think the only way up is with young players," said Loew, who wants a reaction from his established players. "I expect them to get the cart going again."

Manchester City winger Leroy Sane has been recalled and will be motivated to show his World Cup omission was a mistake.

Loew, assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann for the 2006 World Cup before he took the top position, indicated there would be some tactical changes against France but not a major change in the team's philosophy.

"That would be complete nonsense," said Loew, who highlighted defensive work as a priority. "We have to regain the conviction of defending our own goal come hell or high water."

'Throw-in nerd' challenges perceptions at Liverpool

In this Saturday, April 8, 2017 file photo, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp applauds fans after Liverpool beat Stoke 2-1 in the English Premier League soccer match between Stoke City and Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke on Trent, England. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File)

By STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp is covering every base in his bid to win the team's first English league title since 1990.

During an offseason when Liverpool spent $200 million — more than any other Premier League club — to strengthen the playing squad, Klopp also made an intriguing signing in his technical staff: The first throw-in coach in English soccer.

Thomas Gronnemark, who has represented Denmark in both bobsled and track and field, has had a long-held fascination with one of soccer's more glossed-over tasks ever since he watched his two cousins, Bent and Johnny, launch balls onto the field as a kid growing up in northern Denmark. He even holds the official world record for the longest ever throw-in, at 51.33 meters (about 56 yards) in 2010.

Now he coaches it to some of the world's top players.

"I know it's the weirdest job in the world," Gronnemark, a self-confessed "throw-in nerd," told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Weird but also increasingly vital, he said, in a sport that he believes is playing catch-up when it comes to analytics and marginal gains compared to American football, basketball, hockey and track.

On average, there are 40 to 50 throw-ins per game and Gronnemark has calculated that teams end up losing the ball on more than 50 percent of the occasions their players receive throw-ins under pressure. He watches matches on TV with his son, and gets frustrated when he sees the mistakes being made at these restarts.

"I am totally passionate about throw-ins," Gronnemark said. "I think about throw-ins every day."

Klopp was persuaded to hire Gronnemark on a freelance basis after inviting him to Liverpool's training base. Gronnemark, who was already employed by Danish club FC Midtjylland and an unnamed top-flight German team, spent time with the Liverpool squad on a preseason camp in France and now works with the players, particularly the fullbacks, a few times per month.

"When I met him, it was 100 percent clear I wanted to employ him," Klopp said. "You cannot have enough specialists around you ... We have the fitness, medical department, we have the nutrition, and now we have somebody for throw-ins."

Liverpool has played four league games so far, winning all of them , and both Klopp and Gronnemark said they are happy with how the players have responded to the throw-in work on the training ground.

"It's a funny thing, to be a throw-in coach," Gronnemark said. "Some people are really curious. Some people say, 'What is this?' And some laugh a little, but that's OK for me.

"In general, the players have been receiving it totally cool, been positive, and been giving it their best."

Gronnemark wouldn't go into the specifics of his work at Liverpool but he is open about his general philosophy in an area he describes as being "neglected and under-rated."

He works on three types of throw-in: Long, fast and clever.

The long throws can be into the opposition penalty area — making it a virtual set-piece situation — and down the line to give more options to the player, usually a fullback, who takes it. Fast throw-ins create counterattacking situations, particularly useful for a team like Liverpool which has quick forwards like Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, while clever throw-ins help a team keep possession better and avoid putting players under pressure at restarts.

Klopp's decision to hire Gronnemark was met with ridicule in some quarters. In comments widely shared on social media , BeIN Sports pundit Andy Gray, a former Everton, Aston Villa and Scotland striker, said mockingly: "I'm giving you a lesson: Pick the ball up with both hands, take it behind your head, throw it in, keeping both feet on the ground."

"I'm also going to some clubs later this month," Gray added, "to teach them how to kick off."

Gronnemark said there would always be people who are "critical, skeptical, laughing at you, making fun of you," but pointed to the achievements he has had at his clubs.

One player at FC Midtjylland, Mads Dohr Thychosen, improved the length of his throw-in from 22.25 to 34.50 meters. From one of his long throw-ins, the team scored a goal that helped it become Danish champion last season.

"It can be a great success even if there are no goals from the throw or even if you aren't taking a long throw," Gronnemark said. "Some clubs are using my knowledge in one way, some in another way. It's important to just fit into a club's playing style."

James says he 'stands with Nike' in reference to Kaepernick

In this Monday, July 30, 2018, file photo, LeBron James speaks at the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. James says he "stands with Nike," a clear reference to the company's Colin Kaepernick ad campaign. The basketball superstar- and new Los Angeles Laker - made the remarks as he received an award Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, for his style and his philanthropy from the Harlem Fashion Row. (AP Photo/Phil Long, File)

By Jocelyn Noveck, AP National Writer

New York (AP) — Clutching his young daughter in his arms, LeBron James said on Tuesday that he "stands with Nike," a clear reference to the company's Colin Kaepernick ad campaign.

The basketball superstar — and new Los Angeles Laker — made the remarks as he received an award for both his style and his philanthropy, from Harlem's Fashion Row. The fashion collective partnered with Nike for the New York event, both a fashion show and an awards ceremony which focused on diversity in the fashion world. The evening culminated in the reveal of the latest LeBron James Nike basketball shoe: a women's sneaker designed by three female African-American designers and inspired by strong African-American women.

In emotional remarks, James paid tribute to the three women in his life — his mother, wife and 3-year-old daughter, Zhuri.

He noted how his mother had raised him alone, and given him "a sense of pride, a sense of strength, a sense of no worry."

"Because of you, Gloria James, I'm able to be in a position today where I can give back and showcase why I believe African-American women are the most powerful women in the world."

The NBA star, who was wearing one of his favored shrunken-fit shorts suits by designer Thom Browne, called his daughter "my rock."

"People always told me if you ever have a girl, she'll change you," said James, who also has two sons. "I was like, nobody's changing me, I'm a man." But she did, he said.

"Not only did she change me, she's made me a better person," James said. "A more dedicated person, a stronger person, I guess a more sensitive person."

Closing his remarks, he said he stood "for anybody who believes in change." He added: "I stand with Nike, all day, every day."

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, unveiled his first ad of the new campaign Monday. "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything," it said.

The new endorsement deal has sparked vigorous debate, with some fans expressing displeasure over the apparel giant's support of a player known for starting a wave of protests among NFL players against police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues.

Some angry fans were even burning and cutting out the signature swoosh logos on their gear — and posting the results on social media.

But Kaepernick and his Nike campaign, which marks the 30th anniversary of Nike's "Just Do It," received plenty of support from the fashion world in attendance Tuesday.

Bethann Hardison, an activist for diversity in fashion and a former supermodel who was also honored by Harlem's Row, said she was happy with Nike's move. "It's such a divided situation in our world right now," she said of the negative reaction by some fans. "But I'm such a huge, huge, wholehearted supporter of Colin that I'm very proud that someone understands what he's done and (is giving) him some kudos."

Prominent African-American designer Tracy Reese said she loved the new Nike campaign.

"It was tastefully done," she said. "And really, this is the time to stand up for what you believe in. Colin Kaepernick has done that and I think that we need to follow his example and really go where the heart leads, instead of where everybody expects you to go."

Also honored at the ceremony were Harlem streetwear designer Dapper Dan and stylist Jason Rembert. A fashion show highlighted the work of designers Kimberly Goldson, Undra Duncan and Fe Noel, who together helped create the new shoe.

Former world half marathon champion Paul Koech dies at 49

In this Saturday, April 26, 1997 file photo, Sally Barsosio and Paul Koech, right, both from Kenya, celebrate winning the Trevira Twosome 10K run in New York's Central Park. Former world half marathon champion Paul Koech of Kenya died on on Monday Sept. 3, 2018, but no cause of death was given. He was 49. (AP Photo/Gino Domenico, File)

Nairobi, Kenya (AP) — Paul Koech, a former world half marathon champion and long-time teammate of Kenyan great Paul Tergat, has died. He was 49.

The Kenyan track and field federation said Wednesday that Koech died Monday after a short illness. The federation did not release any more details.

"Paul was a great track, cross-country and road-racing athlete," Athletics Kenya said.

Koech won the world half marathon championship in Zurich in 1998. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, he finished sixth in the 10,000 meters and the following year was fourth at the world championships. Tergat won silver in both of those races.

In 1997, Koech ran the third-fastest 10,000 in history, finishing second behind Tergat as his friend broke the world record in the event.

The IAAF said it was "deeply saddened" to hear of Koech's death.

Koech was a major in the Kenyan armed forces and a member of the Athletics Kenya executive committee at the time of his death.

Tergat, now head of the Kenyan Olympic committee, said Koech was highly patriotic and hard working.

"It's beyond belief he is no longer with us," Tergat said. "This was a very good friend of mine and not only did we represent the country together but he believed entirely in national duty.

"He was someone who was a refined officer. He was firm, never believed in any short cuts ... this is very painful."

Koech was a three-time Kenyan cross-country champion, an impressive feat in a highly competitive running nation. He often got the better of Tergat at national championships but he never managed to win the coveted world cross-country title. He did win individual silver behind Tergat and the team gold with Kenya at the cross-country worlds in 1998, his best season.

"Fearless racer but a truly humble and gracious person who always had time for a chat at a race," former Australian distance runner Lee Troop wrote on Twitter.

Update September 05, 2018

Pushing endurance beyond limits at Ultra Trail Mont Blanc

A competitor approaches some goats as he competes in the 170km Ultra-Trail of Mont-Blanc (UTMB) race, near Chamonix, French Alps, Sunday, Sept 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Chamonix, France (AP) — Since its maiden edition was held in rain, cold and hail back in 2003, the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc has gained legendary status in the runners' community.

Set up in a breathtaking setting in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif, the 170-kilometer race with a total vertical gain of 10,000 meters — a height greater than Mount Everest — is regarded by many as the world's most difficult ultra-endurance event. Just finishing it is considered a victory by the legion of amateurs competing alongside the elite runners.

"Each person manages the emotions of experiencing one of the most incredible adventures of their lives and, at the same time, the fear of knowing if they will be capable of getting to the end," three-time winner Kilian Jornet wrote in his book "Run or Die."

Starting and finishing in Chamonix, the annual high-altitude race takes a pack of about 2,300 runners through three different countries (France, Italy and Switzerland) and across rivers and glaciers. Last weekend, the weather was so cold and windy that runners had to deal with temperatures that felt like minus-10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees F).

This year's winner in the men's event was Xavier Thevenard, a Frenchman who covered the distance in 20 hours, 44 minutes, 16 seconds. The last finisher crossed the finish line more than 26 hours later.

IndyCar to debut in Austin, return to Laguna Seca in 2019


Takuma Sato drives during the IndyCar auto race Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, in Portland, Ore. Sato won the race. (Ben Ludeman/The Oregonian via AP)

Indianapolis (AP) — IndyCar will make its debut at Circuit of the Americas in Texas and return to Laguna Seca, California, as part of its 2019 schedule.

The 17-race schedule released Tuesday drops Phoenix and Sonoma, California from the calendar.

The Texas track in Austin replaces Phoenix in March as the second race on the schedule. The road course opened in 2011, hosts a Formula One race and, at 4.048 miles, becomes the second-longest circuit on IndyCar's schedule.

Laguna Seca hosted 22 open-wheel races until 2004. The road course near Monterey was last the site for an Indy car season finale in 1996. It replaces Sonoma as the IndyCar season finale next season.

Record-breaking Cook to end England cricket career

England's Alastair Cook plays a shot off the bowling o India's Ishant Sharma fduring play on the third day of the 4th cricket test match between England and India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. England and India are playing a 5 test series. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

By Steve Douglas, AP Sports Writer

England batsman Alastair Cook will retire from international cricket after this week's test against India, saying Monday there is "nothing left in the tank" after 12 record-breaking years in the team.

An elegant and gritty left-handed opener, Cook is leaving the international game holding a slew of national records in tests: most runs (12,254), most appearances (160), most centuries (32) and most tests at captain (59). He played in 158 straight tests — a world record — and captained England from 2012-17, during which the team won back-to-back home Ashes series and a first series victory in India in 27 years.

"The thought of not sharing the dressing room again with some of my teammates was the hardest part of my decision," the 33-year-old Cook said, "but I know the timing is right."

Cook has endured a lean summer at the top of the order for England, averaging only 15.57 in seven innings against India. But he stands sixth in the all-time list of leading test run-scorers, just above West Indies great Brian Lara, and needs 147 at The Oval to move past Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara in fifth place.

"He's probably not the most naturally gifted cricketer," former England captain Alec Stewart said, "there will be others with far more natural talent that haven't got the mental strength.

"The combination of what Cook has, both talent and mental strength, has meant he's played for a very long time and has broken every single record going."

Cook, who will play next summer for English county Essex, made his test debut in March 2006 as a late replacement for Michael Vaughan and made an unbeaten 104 in the second innings. He missed the third test of that series because of illness but hasn't missed one since.

He will be remembered, among other things, for the graceful way he often tucked the ball off his hips for a single. He had a rare ability to bat for long periods — he has five double-centuries in tests — without losing focus and concentration whatever the conditions. And he almost always pulled out a big score when it was most needed, for the team and also for himself to get over dips in form.

Cook surpassed his own mentor, Graham Gooch, when he exceeded 8,900 test runs three years ago and that meant so much. As a 7-year-old, Cook lined up to get Gooch's autograph outside Essex's ground and they went on to become close friends.

"Graham was my sounding board, especially in the early years of my career, spending hour after hour throwing balls at me with his dog stick," Cook said. "He made me realize you always need to keep improving, whatever you are trying to achieve."

England now faces the tough task of finding a replacement at the top of the batting order, with Cook having had 12 opening partners since Andrew Strauss' retirement in 2012.

"Alastair's selfless dedication to the England cause and his desire to succeed are an object lesson to any professional cricketer," ECB chairman Colin Graves said. "He fully deserves to be remembered as one of England's greatest ever cricketers."

Good for business? Nike gets political with Kaepernick ad

This image taken from the Twitter account of the former National Football League player Colin Kaepernick shows a Nike advertisement featuring him that was posted Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (Twitter via AP)

By Mae Anderson, AP Business Writer

New York (AP) — Why do it?

Nike has touched off a furor by wading into football's national anthem debate with an ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who was the first athlete to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest police brutality against blacks and hasn't played a game since 2016.

The ad copy reads: "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."

The ad, part of Nike's 30th anniversary "Just Do it" campaign, has outraged many. Online, people threatened boycotts and posted videos and photos of shoes set on fire, Nike gear thrown in the trash, and swoosh logos cut out of products.

Most big corporations steer clear of politics, and marketing experts disagreed Tuesday over whether the Kaepernick campaign is good business.

But some noted approvingly that it made a big splash and set Nike apart. And they said it could solidify Nike's bond with athletes, especially black ones, an important consideration for a company that relies heavily on sports stars to endorse its products.

Brian Gordon, CEO of Engine Shop, a sports and entertainment marketing agency, said the ad is provocative but "authentic to who they are and the communities they represent and speak to," including the athletes.

"Even in the face of potential backlash, they support their athlete partners, and that's an incredibly powerful statement to the athlete community," Gordon said.

Other athletes in the campaign include tennis star Serena Williams, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Shaquem Griffin, a linebacker whose left hand was amputated when he was 4. But the Kaepernick ad struck a nerve, timed just before the NFL season kicks off on Thursday.

Nike did not return a request for comment about its strategy. Its stock closed down more than 3 percent Tuesday.

Neil Saunders, managing director of the data and analytics firm GlobalData, called the Kaepernick strategy "commercially imprudent."

"Nike's campaign will generate both attention and discussion which is, arguably, one of its central aims," he said. "However, it is also a risky strategy in that it addresses, and appears to take sides on, a highly politicized issue. This means it could ultimately alienate and lose customers, which is not the purpose of a marketing campaign."

But other experts think the strength of Nike's brand will help it weather the storm and perhaps benefit from it, too. Nike is one of the world's largest sports apparel companies, with $34.5 billion in revenue last year.

"What you stand for is almost as important as what you make," said Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing firm Metaforce. "It's a polarized marketplace. No matter what you do, you offend some people. They're focused on what they stand for, and if that upsets some users, so be it."

Robert Passikoff, founder of marketing consultancy Brand Keys, said an ad like Nike's will divide people, but the outrage won't last.

"My guess is that the audience that is reacting so badly to this aren't buying a lot of Nikes anyway," he said. "They'll move on to the next thing. Welcome to the 21st century."

Nike, based in Beaverton, Oregon, has made waves before. An ad for the company's sport hijab went viral in 2017. And a 2010 commercial featuring a voiceover by Tiger Woods' late father when the golfer was trying to recover from a sex scandal drew mixed reviews.

In August, Nike made news when the French Open banned Williams' Nike-branded black catsuit. Nike responded by posting an image of her on social media with the line "You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers."

Brands run the risk of a backlash in taking a political stand in their advertising.

Starbucks was mocked in 2015 for trying to start a discussion about race by writing the slogan "Race Together" on its cups. Pepsi ended up pulling a commercial that showed Kendall Jenner giving a Pepsi to a police officer; some said the ad trivialized the "Black Lives Matter" protests.

John Sweeney, sports communication professor at the University of North Carolina, said the Kaepernick ad was created to provoke people, and in that respect, it succeeded.

"You may have a negative reaction or a positive reaction, but you have a reaction," he said. "They wanted something that would stop the presses and stop people in their places."

For some, the ad has made them bigger fans of the brand.

"I think what Nike did was a tremendous step in fighting against the people who misunderstand the protests by Kaep and players," said Seth Buchwalter, of Portland, Oregon, a lifelong Nike customer.

But Wesley Callaway, of Omaha, Nebraska, said he doesn't agree with kneeling during the national anthem and thinks it is unfortunate Nike is featuring Kaepernick, though he said he doesn't buy many Nike products and won't make any changes in his shopping habits.

"I don't mind them protesting brutality," he said. "I just wish they wouldn't do it during the anthem."

AP Business Writer Josh Funk contributed to this report from Omaha, Nebraska.

Tiger Woods returns to Ryder Cup as a wild card

Tiger Woods smiles he speaks during a news conference where he was announced as a captain's pick to the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup Team, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, in West Conshohocken, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

By Doug Ferguson, AP Golf Writer

West Conshohocken, Pa. (AP) — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, golf's most prominent players for more than two decades, never realized the Ryder Cup would mean so much.

For Woods, it's the culmination of a comeback that began in January after a fourth surgery on his lower back. For Mickelson, more than setting a record by playing his 12th Ryder Cup, the 48-year-old gets what he believes will be his last chance to capture that gold trophy away from home.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk added them to his team Monday evening as wild-card selections, along with Bryson DeChambeau.

Woods agreed to be a vice captain in late February, and he set a goal to be in Paris on Sept. 28-30 as a player.

"It's incredible, it really is, to look back at the start of the year and now to have accomplished a goal like that," Woods said. "To be a part of this team, and now to be a player is just ... beyond special."

Mickelson had qualified for every team since 1995, a streak that ended this year when he finished No. 10 in the standings. His 12th appearance breaks the Ryder Cup record held by Nick Faldo.

Mickelson has only been on three winning teams — at Brookline in 1999, Valhalla in 2008 and two years ago at Hazeltine. His last time overseas was at Gleneagles, where he infamously closed out a losing press conference by questioning captain Tom Watson and the direction the PGA of America was taking the U.S. team.

That led to sweeping changes in the U.S. structure, mainly by giving players a stronger voice.

"This is mostly likely my last chance to go over to Europe and to be a part of a winning U.S. team in Europe. We haven't done that in 25 years," Mickelson said. "I set out this year on really a strong commitment and journey to get on the team. I got off to a great start this year. It's been a really good year, and although I fell just shy of making it on points, it feels great to be a part of this team and serve this team in any way I can."

Furyk still has one more captain's pick he will announce on Monday after the BMW Championship, and it might not be as easy as this one.

"Not that it was an easy decision," Furyk said with a smile. "But it could have been a lot more difficult."

Woods and Mickelson were logical choices. Woods briefly had the lead Sunday in the British Open until he tied for sixth, and he shot a career-best final round of 64 to finish second in the PGA Championship. Mickelson won another World Golf Championship in March, though he hasn't seriously contended since then.

DeChambeau narrowly missed out on one of the eight automatic spots by missing the cut at the PGA Championship, and the 24-year-old Californian knew he had to show Furyk some form in the three weeks before the picks were announced.

He won the first FedEx Cup playoff event by four shots. He won the next FedEx Cup playoff event by two shots.

"I wanted to be a part of this experience so badly that I worked twice as hard," DeChambeau said. "And it showed, and it paid off."

Tony Finau is believed to be the leading candidate for 12th and final spot. Furyk invited him as part of a small group that played Le Golf National on the weekend before the British Open. Finau tied a PGA Championship record with 10 birdies in the second round while playing with Furyk.

During the FedEx Cup playoffs, he was runner-up at one event and tied for fourth at the other.

European captain Thomas Bjorn announces his wild-card selections on Wednesday, with Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey among the likely picks. Still to be determined was whether former Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, gets a nod.

The eight Americans who qualified on their own were Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed. Throw in Woods and Mickelson, and that gives the U.S. team a lineup that has combined for 31 majors.

That doesn't mean as much in foursomes and fourballs, on a European course before the singing and chanting of Europeans fans.

"We're heading over into foreign soil," Furyk said. "It's going to be an interesting crowd. They are boisterous, I have a lot of respect for them and we are looking for players that we thought would handle that situation well and would thrive, love the challenge. And naming these three players, that's what we've done."

Woods will no longer be a vice captain, though Furyk said he would continue to lean on his advice. Woods was an assistant at Hazeltine and at the Presidents Cup last fall at Liberty National in a U.S. route.

Furyk picked former world No. 1 David Duval to replace Woods. Furyk also said Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar would fill out his lineup of vice captains, joining Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.

Update September 04, 2018

Wolfsburg is on the rise again in the Bundesliga

In this Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018 photo Wolfsburg's players celebrate their side's 3rd goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg in Leverkusen, Germany. Wolfsburg is bucking expectations after starting the Bundesliga with two wins over highly rated Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen. (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press

Berlin (AP) — From champions to relegation survivors, Wolfsburg's recent woes on the field have coincided with those of Volkswagen, the German club's main backer.

However, the car manufacturer is on the rise again after its emissions scandal, and so is the soccer team after back-to-back seasons in the relegation playoffs.

Wolfsburg opened its Bundesliga campaign with wins over highly rated Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen. The 2009 champions, now under coach Bruno Labbadia, are well-organized and playing with a commitment and hunger that had been lacking since 2015.

That was the year Wolfsburg finished second behind Bayern Munich and won the German Cup before the breaking of the Volkswagen scandal. Results, coincidentally, suffered thereafter.

The win over Leverkusen was unexpected, and the first time in 13 tries that Labbadia won against his former side.

"We drew a lot of strength from the relegation playoff (against second-division club Holstein Kiel) and on top of that the team worked really hard in pre-season," Labbadia said Saturday after his team's sixth consecutive win across seasons and including the German Cup.

Wolfsburg even had to come from behind after Leon Bailey put Leverkusen ahead. The players didn't panic, but combined well and fought for the equalizer, which came through an own-goal by goalkeeper Ramazan Ozcan. New signing Wout Weghorst then got his first Bundesliga goal and Renato Steffen sealed it with another.

"It was really pleasing to see how much of a unit we were and how the team got the deserved reward for the performance," Labbadia said. "We hurt them with our shape. It was a good day for us."

Wolfsburg also needed a bit of luck to defeat Schalke, with Daniel Ginczek getting the winner in injury time.

The signing of Weghorst has added some much-needed bite to the team's attack. The 25-year-old Dutchman scored 27 goals across all competitions for AZ Alkmaar last season.

Wolfsburg also appointed Joerg Schmadtke as sporting director in the offseason. The 54-year-old Schmadtke, a former goalkeeper, enjoyed notable success as sporting director with Cologne, Hannover and Alemannia Aachen.

Wolfsburg fans chanted "league leaders, league leaders" after the win propelled it to the top for the afternoon, but Schmadtke said he wasn't interested in the standings "but the fact we stayed stable after conceding a goal is comforting."

Wolfsburg was without injured captain Josuha Guilavogui, and goalkeeper Koen Casteels was missing to attend the birth of his daughter.

Casteels is the sixth Wolfsburg player to become a father in a little over a month after Marvin Stefaniak, Yunus Malli, Paul-Georges Ntep, Weghorst and Steffen.

"That can give you a push," Steffen said. "But I can't get a child every week now."


Compared to previous years, Bayern Munich kept transfer activity to a minimum in the offseason, with just Serge Gnabry and Renato Sanches returning from loan spells, while Leon Goretzka's free transfer from Schalke was already announced in January.

Spanish defender Juan Bernat departed for Paris Saint-Germain but it looked at one stage as though there would be more business between the sides. PSG made a reported offer for Germany defender Jerome Boateng and was also interested in taking Sanches.

Neither deal came to fruition, and Bayern has hit out at the French club for not following through.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic had already criticized PSG's "strange tactics," and now president Uli Hoeness has said the side should fire its sporting director, Antero Henrique.

"I would advise Paris Saint-Germain to change its sporting director," Hoeness told Monday's Kicker magazine. "This man is not a figurehead for the club. If PSG wants to be a world club, it can't put up with such a sports director."


Borussia Dortmund has developed a reputation for bringing in young players thanks to success with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Jadon Sancho and Mario Goetze, while Aleksander Isak and Dan-Axel Zagadou are waiting to follow suit.

The next prospect could be 13-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, a Cameroon-born forward who has been scoring at leisure since he joined Dortmund's youth setup from St. Pauli in 2016.

Strong and direct with a clear eye for goal, Moukoko was the leading scorer for Dortmund's under-15 team - while still 12 - to help the side win the Regionalliga West title and earn a call-up for Germany's under-16 team last year. He scored the decisive goal at Bayern Munich in the final, finishing the season with 40 goals in 28 games.

This season, with the under-17s, has begun as the last continued. Moukoko already has six goals from four games.

"We're going to give him all the time in the world for his development," Dortmund youth coordinator Lars Ricken told Kicker. "He can't play with the professionals until he's 17. So nobody needs to start gasping because of him."

Moeen Ali bowls England to series victory over India

England's Sam Curran celebrates taking the final Indian wicket pf India's Ravichandran Ashwin as England win the 4th test match by 60 runs during play on the fourth day of the 4th cricket test match between England and India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018. England and India are playing a 5 test series. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Southampton, England (AP) — Moeen Ali started the fourth test as England's "second spinner." By the end of it, he was England's No. 1 bowler.

Ali's match figures of 9-134 led England to a 60-run victory in the fourth test as the hosts completed a series victory on Sunday with an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-game contest.

England had set India a second-innings target of 245 after being bowled out for 271 early on Day 4 and appeared in trouble when Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane's fourth-wicket century stand took India within sight of victory.

However, Ali, who had been left out of England's test side all season to work on his game in county cricket, dismissed both to turn the game back in England's favor, before India was eventually all out for 184.

"It's obviously great to be back," Ali said. "It's great to come back and win the game. I just felt it's not a bad thing to go back to county cricket and really enjoy my cricket again."

The fourth day in Southampton was typical of the series as the momentum swung back and forth between the two sides.

Having resumed on 260-8, England added just 11 runs with Curran run out for 46. India's first-innings 273 had given it a 27-run lead, meaning England set the tourists a challenging but reachable target of 245 with almost two full days left.

It initially looked like the same old story for India's struggling batting lineup, as England made inroads before lunch.

Stuart Broad bowled Lokesh Rahul for a duck, before James Anderson (2-33) got his first wickets of the match as he trapped Cheteshwar Pujara (5) leg before wicket and had Shikhar Dhawan (17) caught at slip to leave India 22-3 at the Rose Bowl.

However, Kohli (58) and Rahane (51) put the pressure back on England as they patiently batted India into a strong position approaching tea.

Not for the first time in the match, Ali responded, taking the crucial wicket of Kohli just before tea in the first of his four second-innings wickets.

Ali had taken 5-63 in the first innings and was finally rewarded in the second when Kohli gloved his delivery to Alastair Cook at short leg. He finished with 4-71.

"Today was probably the best I've seen (Ali) bowl in an England shirt," England captain Joe Root said. "That's such a testament to the way he has gone about things and the way he has come back."

With the partnership broken, England returned with confidence after tea and Ben Stokes (2-34) quickly removed Hardik Pandya for a duck.

Rishabh Pant struck a brisk 18 from 12 balls before being caught on the boundary off Ali, who then claimed the other key wicket of Rahane, leg before wicket, to all but end India's hopes.

Stokes dismissed Ishant Sharma for a duck and Ali got his ninth wicket of the match as Mohammed Shami (8) launched the ball straight to Anderson at long on.

Fittingly, it was Sam Curran (1-1), whose first-innings 78 guided England to a competitive total, who took the final wicket. The 20-year-old all-rounder dismissed Ravichandran Ashwin (25) to end the match.

"England worked hard," Kohli said. "They were relentless with the ball."

The fifth and final test starts at the Oval in London on Friday.

McLaren signs British teenager Norris to replace Vandoorne

Mclaren driver Lando Norris of Britain steers his car during the first practice session ahead of the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Woking, England (AP) — British teenager Lando Norris will drive for Formula One team McLaren next year in place of Stoffel Vandoorne.

McLaren says it has signed the 18-year-old Norris to a "multi-year" deal.

Norris has been the team's reserve driver and has taken part in practice sessions in Belgium and Italy.

He says "although I've been part of the team for a while now, this is a special moment, one I could only hope would become reality."

Norris, who is currently second in standings in the Formula 2 feeder series, will partner with Carlos Sainz Jr. The 24-year-old Sainz Jr. was announced last month as the replacement for Fernando Alonso, who is leaving F1 at the end of the season.

As high heat returns, Tsurenko a weary winner at US Open

Lesia Tsurenko, of Ukraine, kneels on the court during her match against Marketa Vondrousova, of the Czech Republic, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

By Brian Mahoney, AP Sports Writer

New York (AP) — Lesia Tsurenko leaned on her racket, looking like she was about to collapse.

The medical team had already asked if she wanted to stop, and this time Tsurenko was thinking about it.

"At some point," she said, "I just thought that it's over for me for today."

Doubled over between points, not even running during some of them, Tsurenko said she was dizzy, unable to deal with the heat that returned to the U.S. Open on Monday after a brief comfortable spell.

"I don't think she was struggling so much," Marketa Vondrousova said. "She was just acting."

The aching — or acting, according her opponent — Tsurenko eventually pulled out a 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2 victory to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The high temperatures that baked the courts at Flushing Meadows last week were back, with U.S. Open officials reinstituting the extreme heat policy that allowed women to take a 10-minute break between the second and third sets, and men to do so between the third and fourth.

But even the players who got off the court fairly quickly had a tough time while they were playing with temperatures in the low-90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius) that are expected to remain at least through Tuesday.

"It's not easy to play in these kind of conditions," Novak Djokovic said after winning his fourth-round match in straight sets. "At the same time, you can't do anything but try to be tough and survive, you know, find a way to win."

That's what Tsurenko was telling herself.

The Ukrainian didn't know why she was struggling so much, because it wasn't as hot as her first-round match last Tuesday, when six players quit their matches, with five citing cramps or heat exhaustion.

Her temperature and blood pressure were checked during a medical timeout when she led 5-4 in the first set.

"The physio asked me a few times if I want to stop," Tsurenko said. "She saw that I cannot breathe well. She said something (was) wrong that my eyes were — I don't know what she said exactly, but something wrong with my eyes. She thought I cannot play. She asked me a few times if I want to stop."

Tsurenko bent over between points in the first-set tiebreaker, left the court for more treatment after losing it, and then fell behind 2-0 in the second. It was about then that she considered quitting, though Vondrousova didn't believe it.

"I wasn't like, 'Oh, she's going to retire,' or something. I knew she was going to play normal," said the teenager, who got treatment after the second set.

Tsurenko, who upset No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, faces No. 20 Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinals. She said she was proud of herself for what she overcame to get there.

"As a tennis player, I know that we play in different type of conditions," she said. "Sometimes it goes like this. You need to survive."

DeChambeau makes it 2 straight wins in FedEx Cup playoffs

Bryson DeChambeau tees off on the third hole during the final round of the Dell Technologies Championship golf tournament at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)


NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Bryson DeChambeau plays golf differently from everyone else and is getting the results everyone wants.

It doesn't take a scientist to figure that out.

For the second straight week in the richest part of the PGA Tour season, DeChambeau took down one of the strongest fields of the year by playing his best golf on the weekend to win the Dell Technologies Championship, becoming only the second player to capture the opening two playoff events in the FedEx Cup.

He closed with a 4-under 67 on Monday, making three straight birdies to close out the front nine and keeping his distance the rest of the way for a two-shot victory over Justin Rose on the TPC Boston.

"I wouldn't have written it any better, to be honest with you," DeChambeau said. "I've been playing some great golf this whole year. And I knew it was a matter of time before something cool showed up."

Vijay Singh won the opening two FedEx Cup events in 2008, when the points system was different and points were not reset before the final playoff event. That allowed Singh to effectively wrap up the $10 million prize early.

DeChambeau, with his third victory this year, was assured of being the No. 1 seed when he gets to the Tour Championship, no matter what happens next week at the third playoff event outside Philadelphia.

And he would appear to be a shoo-in to be one of U.S. captain Jim Furyk's three Ryder Cup picks to be announced Tuesday. The idea is to find the hottest player to fill out the team, and no one has been close to DeChambeau over the last two weeks.

The 24-year-old Californian is known as the "Mad Scientist" for his approach to the game, from his single-length clubs (34 inches, roughly the length of a 7-iron), to his work on biomechanics to the calculations that go into every shot.

Nine calculations, to be exact.

DeChambeau doesn't want to give away all his secrets, but they range from yardage and wind to air pressure and adrenaline.

"He's facing the biggest and best fields," Rose said. "There's a lot of conjecture about how he goes about it. But when he delivers as he is now, it just proves it."

How much better can he get?

"You can always get better," DeChambeau said. "How much? I would say it depends on what I can do in the restrictions of my biomechanics. So it's all about error tolerances and being ... less sensitive to error. So that when you do feel like you mess up, it's not going to be that big of a mess-up. I hope that makes sense.

"But I can say there is another level."

DeChambeau, who started the year at No. 99 in the world, moved to No. 7, one spot past Rory McIlroy. He finished at 16-under 268 and made $1,620,000 for the second straight week.

Starting the final round one shot behind Abraham Ancer, and among 10 players within four shots of the lead, DeChambeau had a two-putt birdie from 50 feet on No. 7, took the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 220-yard eighth hole, and then hit his approach to 6 feet to a back right pin at No. 9 for his third straight birdie.

Cameron Smith of Australia tried to make a run at him with a pair of late birdies, but DeChambeau answered with a birdie on No. 15 to keep his lead at two shots. Needing an eagle to catch him on the par-5 18th, Smith came up short and into the hazard and made bogey.

Rose birdied three of his last four holes for a 68 and wound up alone in second.

Ancer couldn't keep pace, dropping three shots in the tough four-hole stretch early on the back nine. The 27-year-old Mexican hit into hazard on the 18th and finished with a bogey for a 73. The small consolation for Ancer was moving from No. 92 to No. 56, which at least made him among the top 70 who advance to the BMW Championship at Aronimink.

A few others also were happy to have another week left in a long season.

Peter Uihlein, the former U.S. Amateur champion in his first full season on the PGA Tour, birdied his last three holes for a 68. He played with Keith Mitchell, another PGA Tour rookie, who birdied his last two holes for a 69. Both moved into the top 70.

Matt Kuchar failed to advance beyond the second playoff event for the first time in 10 years, meaning he won't get another chance to state his case as a potential Ryder Cup pick. Furyk makes his fourth selection after the BMW Championship.

The likely choices Tuesday would seem to be DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods — they finished Nos. 9, 10 and 11 when qualifying ended for eight automatic berths after the PGA Championship. Woods closed with a 71 and tied for 24th. Mickelson, who has played on every Ryder Cup team since 1995, boosted his case by winning a World Golf Championships event in Mexico in March, and he made nine birdies Monday in a closing round of 63.

"So fortunate also that it's the day before the Ryder Cup picks, although I don't feel that should be a bearing," Mickelson said. "I think you have to look at the big picture through the course of the year statistically. ... But it certainly doesn't hurt."

Zenit St Petersburg signs Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio

In this file photo dated Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, Juventus' Claudio Marchisio during a Serie A soccer match against Bologna at the Dall' Ara stadium in Bologna, Italy. Zenit St. Petersburg has signed 32-year old Italian defender Claudio Marchisio for two years on a free transfer, after he was released by Juventus. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)

St. Petersburg, Russia (AP) — Zenit St. Petersburg signed Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio on a free transfer on Monday after he was released by Juventus.

The 32-year-old Marchisio arrives in Russia on a two-year contract after a deal which required Russian Football Union approval because it was finalized outside the usual registration period.

Marchisio left Juventus last month following what the club called "the agreed termination of his contract." He spent 25 years with Juventus since joining at the age of seven.

"I like the club and its ambition," Marchisio said in a statement on the Zenit website. "When I left Juventus, I promised that I wouldn't move to any other Italian team, so I wanted to find a club which shared my values."

Marchisio added he will join the Zenit squad at the weekend. Zenit said he will be available for Europa League group games.

The industrious Marchisio played nearly 400 games for Juventus, winning seven Serie A titles, but was less prominent since a cruciate ligament injury in 2016. He played 15 times in Serie A last season.

Marchisio has played 55 times for Italy, but only once since 2015.

Zenit finished a disappointing fifth in the Russian Premier League last season but leads the table in this campaign after six games.

Year after missing US Open, Nishikori shines in return

Kei Nishikori, of Japan, smiles after defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber, of Germany, during the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

By Dan Gelston, AP Sports Writer

New York (AP) — Kei Nishikori was so crushed about missing the U.S. Open last year, he couldn't even watch the tournament. Nishikori's season was over with torn tendons in his right wrist, and he knew how much he'd ache to play if he flipped on the TV.

"I didn't really want to see any matches," he said.

A year later, Nishikori might want to catch some U.S. Open highlights.

He's starring in them.

The Japanese standout still has some soreness in the wrist he hurt in August 2017, but it hasn't slowed him down in his return to Flushing Meadows. Nishikori, the 2014 runner-up, beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 on Monday to reach the final eight for a second straight Grand Slam tournament.

"He pushed me around," Kohlschreiber said.

Up next is a rematch of the '14 final against No. 7 seed Marin Cilic, who beat 10th-seeded David Goffin 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-4 later Monday.

The 28-year-old Nishikori hardly resembles the player he was then, when he became the first man from Asia to reach a Grand Slam singles final. He altered his serve in the wake of the wrist injury. His confidence is soaring, too, after he reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

Naomi Osaka also reached the quarterfinals Monday, only the second time in the professional era that a Japanese man and woman reached that round at the same Grand Slam event. Shuzo Matsuoka and Kimiko Date did it at Wimbledon in 1995.

"I always thought that if I can keep up with him, that would be really cool," Osaka said.

Four years ago, Nishikori recalled feeling upbeat before he played Cilic and was surprised he didn't have a case of nerves.

Once he hit Arthur Ashe Stadium, the magnitude of the moment hit him.

"I wasn't nervous before the match, but as soon as I got into the court, it was different," he said. "I remember I wasn't there for the match. Hopefully, I can come back to that stage."

Nishikori was worn down by the time he reached the final in a remarkable run where he defeated three of the top five seeds. He beat No. 5 Milos Raonic and No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in five sets in back-to-back matches totaling more than 8 hours. Then he upset No. 1 Novak Djokovic in four sets.

He's made quick work of his opponents this year.

Nishikori, coached by Michael Chang, needed four sets to beat Diego Schwartzman, but has two straight-set victories and didn't even complete two full sets in another match because Gael Monfils retired with a wrist injury.

Short and sweet — and staying strong in a deep run.

"I don't have any pressure," Nishikori said. "But (I'm) enjoying playing every match and enjoying playing tennis again a little more than before."

The No. 21 seed returned to the tour early this year, building his confidence back with a victory in a Challenger Tour event, then reached the final in Monte Carlo and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, where he lost to eventual champion Djokovic.

His success may have eased the pressure, but a country is keeping tabs on him.

Nishikori, the first Japanese man to be ranked in the ATP's top 10, was a hero in his home country when he played in the U.S. Open final. In his hometown of Matsue, hundreds of fans packed into a convention hall to cheer him on at a standing-room-only public viewing event. Giant banners emblazoned with messages of encouragement hung on the walls.

He feels at home in New York, where scores of Asians root for him, no matter the court or time of match, and he made a return trip to the semifinals in 2016.

"I feel like I have great support here," he said.

Update September 03, 2018

Tottenham's Son avoids military duty with Asian Games gold

South Korea's Son Heung-min, center, duels for the ball against Japan's Daiki Sugioka during the soccer men's gold medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Bogor, Indonesia, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Team Thailand celebrates on the podium after winning the silver medal for the women's volleyball match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018.(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

China's Zhu Ting plays against Thailand during the women's volleyball gold medal match at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Team Iran's celebrates after winning the men's volleyball match for gold against Korea at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. Iran won gold.(AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

By Stephen Wade, AP Sports Writer

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Tottenham forward Son Heung-min will get to skip military service.

Son avoided the service obligation when South Korea defeated Japan 2-1 in the Asian Games soccer final on Saturday.

The South Korean government rewards holders of Asian Games gold medals and all Olympic medals with the exemption. Military service is compulsory for South Korean males, and Son would have faced at least 21 months of service and the loss of millions in income.

Son had a hand in both goals, and ran wildly around the field at the end, hugging teammates while hundreds of South Korea flags were whipped about in the stands.

He was thanked Tottenham for allowing him to play in Indonesia, where he captained South Korea.

"I feel great, feel unbelievable, feel amazing," he said.

With the match in extra time after 0-0 in regulation, Son got the break he wanted from teammate Lee Seung-woo.

In the 93rd minute, Son broke toward the middle and shuffled a pass to Lee, who drove the ball with his left foot into the top of the net. He immediately posed atop signage beside the field, celebrating his minute of glory.

South Korea clinched it eight minutes later on a leaping header inside the far post from Hwang Hee-chan. The 101st-minute goal prompted Son to embrace South Korea coach Kim Hak-bum on the sidelines.

Japan's Ayase Ueda scored on a header with five minutes left to make it close.

South Korea had 65 percent of the possession in regulation time, and had a wide edge in shots, and shots on goal.

Son almost got the winning goal himself, but his shot just seconds into extra time sailed inches wide of the far post.

Saturday was the last full day of competition at the Asian Games with only one medal event on Sunday — mixed triathlon. The closing ceremony is also on Sunday.

China, Japan and South Korea — as always — dominated. But several other nations closed ground slowly, making the Big Three not quite as dominant.

China had 289 overall, with 132 gold, 92 silver and 65 bronze. Japan won 204 (74-56-74) and South Korea had 176 (49-57-70). They were followed in the gold-medal ranking order by: Indonesia (31), Uzbekistan (21), Iran (20) and Taiwan (17). India and Kazakhstan each had 15.

Japan came up short as South Korea won gold in baseball with a 3-0 victory. In the bronze medal game, Taiwan pummeled China 10-0.

China won women's basketball, defeating the combined Koreas team 71-65. Shao Ting topped China's scorers with 17 points. Lim Yunghui was the top Korean scorer with 24. Park Ji-su had 15.

"I still believe that we could have gotten a gold medal if we had enough practice time," Park, the WNBA star, said through an interpreter. "We just trained as a combined team for a month."

The women's squad included nine South Koreans and three from North Korea.

Dragon boat races also delivered a gold medal and two bronzes for the combined Koreas teams — the feel-good story of the Asian Games.

China's men's basketball team also took gold, defeating Iran 84-72.

As expected, China swept all five gold medals in table tennis, including the two all-China singles finals on Saturday.

Fan Zhendong defeated Lin Gaoyuan in the men's final, and for the women Chen Meng beat Wang Manyu.

China beat Thailand 3-0 in the women's volleyball final, and on the men's side Iran defeated South Korea 3-0.

Kazakhstan defeated Japan 8-7 to take the men's gold in water polo.

Japan beat China 7-5 to take gold in women's rugby sevens, and Hong Kong won gold in the men's version, beating Japan 14-0.

Japan defeated Malaysia in men's field hockey, winning a shootout 3-1 after the match was tied 6-6.

AP reporter Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.

Bach: No Olympic future for esports until 'violence' removed

In this Thursday April 19, 2018 file photo, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach addresses a press conference in New Delhi, India. Bach said in Jakarta, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, that he isn't certain if, or when, esports might be incorporated into the Olympic Games. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri,File)

By Stephen Wade, AP Sports Writer

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach isn't certain if, or when, esports might be incorporated into the Olympic Games.

But he was clear in an interview with The Associated Press at the Asian Games on Saturday about the need to meet some conditions before being considered.

"We cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination," he told the AP. "So-called killer games. They, from our point of view, are contradictory to the Olympic values and cannot therefore be accepted."

Esports is being held for the first time at the Asian Games as a demonstration sport, and could be a full-medal event in four years in Hangzhou, China.

Could the Olympics be next?

The IOC has been mulling over many of these questions since holding an esports forum in July at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bach still needs convincing. He won an Olympic gold medal in fencing, which uses swords, and tried to draw a distinction.

"Of course every combat sport has its origins in a real fight among people," he said. "But sport is the civilized expression about this. If you have egames where it's about killing somebody, this cannot be brought into line with our Olympic values."

Asian Games organizers several days ago expressed sympathy for victims of the deadly shooting at a video games tournament in a Florida shopping mall.

They faulted US gun laws, not esports.

"But I think this is a bigger issue of gun control and access to guns," said Kenneth Fok, president of the Asian Electronic Sports Federation, following the shooting.

In a wide-ranging interview, Bach also talked up Indonesia's chances of landing the 2032 Olympics. Indonesia President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo surprised the country Saturday by saying it would bid. It comes as the Asian Games close on Sunday with Widodo up for re-election in April.

"You see a successful delivery of the Asian Games," Bach said. "I think this is a very solid foundation for a good candidature (for Indonesia)."

The IOC has already picked Paris for the 2024 Olympics and Los Angeles for 2028. A choice for 2032 would not be made by the IOC until 2025, and Bach said only India and Germany had expressed preliminary interest

Rio spent about $20 billion to organize its Olympics, and Tokyo will spend about the same to run the games and prepare the city.

Bach also asked for realism in the fight against doping. A Russian state-run doping scandal has blighted the last three Olympics, beginning with the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

He said the fight had to be "every day with all determination." But even that won't be enough.

"You have to be realist, and this means that there will never come the day when we will be able to say we have won the war against doping," he said.

"Unfortunately, it appears to be that as long as human beings are in competition with each other you will always have some who are looking for their own advantage even by the violation of laws and rules."

Bach said he and 2020 Tokyo Olympic organizers were concerned about scorching temperatures this summer in the Japanese capital.

But he said he was sleeping "much easier" than he was two years before the problematic Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"We see the preparations are going on schedule, that you are not confronted with a country that is in crisis, as Brazil was before the games."

He said he had not been to Brazil since 2016 and said he had no immediate plans to return.

Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Rio de Janeiro organizing committee and IOC member, was suspended by the IOC after his arrest on bribery, fraud and vote-buying charges.

He has maintained his innocence.

"You can see today the country is still not out of crisis," Bach said.

Ready, set, go. Coe expects Asian track and field to boom

In this Saturday Aug. 25, 2018 photo, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Sebastian Coe waits at the medal ceremony for the men's marathon during the athletics competition at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Coe says China and Japan are the two most improved countries in athletics over the last six or seven years.(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

By John Pye, AP Sports Writer

Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Almost unthinkable to some a decade ago, sprinters from China and Japan are running sub-10 seconds for the 100 meters.

There's plenty more to come from Asia, too, according to international athletics federation president Sebastian Coe.

With billions of people, increasing investment in facilities and coaching and Olympic ambitions, he says the continent is on the move.

"You could argue Japan and China are two of the most improved athletics nations over the last six or seven years," Coe told the Associated Press during the Asian Games, where China topped the athletics medal standings. "For me, it's very clear.

"They're making very good progress. If we'd been sitting here a decade ago, talking about potential here for a China athlete to run 9.8, you'd have probably taken quite long odds on that."

Su Bingtian ran an Asian Games record 9.92 seconds to win the 100 in Jakarta, one-hundredth outside his continental record of 9.91 He ran that in Spain in June, three days after he'd lost his Chinese national record when Xie Zhenye clocked 9.97.

Only three sprinters — all American — have run a faster time in 2018.

Su is expecting to go faster, too, because he can be pushed by teammates from the Chinese relay that won the bronze on home soil at the 2015 world championships.

He has been working since late last year with Randy Huntington, who was coaching Mike Powell when the American set the long jump world record way back in 1991.

Already, Su's PB has improved. He's down from 9.99, set in 2015, and this year already he has set the Asian record in the 60 and the 100. Huntington has predicted China will be a track and field force at the 2024 Olympics.

Japan took silver in the Olympic men's 4x100-meter relay at Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and bronze at the world championships last year. The Japanese relay team won the men's 4x100 on the last night of track at the Asian Games and is targeting a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Coe said the federations in Japan and China had "greater clarity" around the importance of coaching. Only five Asian sprinters have run 10.00 or faster this year, but the frequency is increasing.

Looking abroad for coaching expertise isn't the sole domain of China and Japan. South Korea has brought in a performance director from the United States, India has drafted in foreign coaches including 72-year-old Galina Bukharina of Romania, who has been working with world junior 400-meter champion Hima Das.

Harry Marra, who worked with Olympic champion and decathlon world-record holder Ashton Eaton, has been helping out with Indonesia's world junior 100-meter champion Lalu Zohri.

India placed third, a medal above Japan, in the track and field standings with seven golds, 10 silver and two bronze. It also won a fifth straight title in the women's 4x400. It was a vast improvement on the 2 gold and 13 overall from the Asian Games in 2014.

South Korea finished with five medals on the track, including gold in the women's 100-meter hurdles, but Randy Behr, the head performance coach, was expecting big improvements in coming seasons with extra emphasis on strength and conditioning and recovery.

"Asia has been a little bit intimidated about the weight room and off-season training — the myths that the U.S. went through in the '70s and 80s," said Behr, who worked in fitness for the U.S. military and as a coach in track and American football. "Now they've embraced, 'Hey, it's OK to get in the weight room and throw some iron around.' It does transfer. It's physics."

While the popularity of track and field has dropped in some traditional markets, the sport is growing across the most-populated continent.

"China is growing amazingly. Japan is solid. Korea, we have a huge ceiling — we're onto something good here," Behr said. "Asia is on the move.

"I predict Korea with a sub-10 very soon and, of course, China and Japan — they're not stopping."

The 18-year-old Zohri placed seventh in the Asian Games 100 final, but was a key runner in the Indonesia relay team that finished as a surprising silver medalist between Japan and China.

"There's scope for a lot more," two-time Olympic gold medalist Coe said of the stories like Zohri, who is from the earthquake-ravaged island of Lombok. "Rarely in athletics are there happy accidents. You can look at something that on the surface looks like a rough diamond that suddenly emerges."

In the case of Zohri, Coe said Marra had been "explaining what the next step of the journey is. He's coaching the coaches, but also has some hands on.

"There's no question at all, the rough diamond is shining. Everything in athletics is about technique and coaching. If you haven't got world-class coaching, frankly, it's a rare happy accident that somebody emerges."

Update September 01, 2018

Usain Bolt makes soccer debut for Central Coast Mariners

Usain Bolt runs the ball during a friendly trial match between the Central Coast Mariners and the Central Coast Select in Gosford, Australia, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. Bolt, who holds the world records for the 100- and 200-meter sprints and is an eight-time Olympic gold medalist, is hoping to earn a contract with the Mariners for the 2018-19 season in Australia's top-flight competition. (AP Photo/Steve Christo)

Gosford, Australia (AP) — Usain Bolt's soccer debut for the Central Coast Mariners on Friday lasted about 20 minutes against an amateur local team and with almost 10,000 people in the crowd.

The eight-time Olympic gold medalist is trying to become a professional soccer player and has been given a tryout with the Australian A-League club based in Gosford, north of Sydney.

Bolt started on the left wing and had a clumsy first touch, but settled in and found himself in scoring positions a couple of times before having a stoppage-time shot blocked.

"I was a little bit nervous, but as soon as I got on the field I think the nerves went away," Bolt told broadcaster Fox Sports. "I wish I had more touches, but I'm not fit yet. I've just got to put in the work and get up to speed."

The Mariners already had a commanding lead when Bolt went on as a substitute in the 72nd minute — wearing the number 95 on his shirt — and easily won 6-1.

The 32-year-old Jamaican predicted it would take four to five months until he's "playing like one of the guys."

Even if he doesn't make it as a soccer player, Bolt can still draw a crowd. Some critics have said that's what his trial period in the A-League is all about. Bolt has regularly said his ambition is real.

The crowd for Friday's match was about four times bigger than the average home attendance the Mariners attracted last season. The Australian Associated Press reported that the exhibition game was broadcast in 60 countries.

Nadal passes test after test, beats much younger foe at Open

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, returns a shot to Karen Khachanov, of Russia, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

By Howard Fendrich, AP Tennis Writer 

New York (AP) — Rafael Nadal's knee was bothering him. His decade-younger, barrel-chested U.S. Open foe was bashing the ball.

The defending champion was two points away from falling into a two-set hole. Then he was two points away from dropping the third set. And then he was one point from losing the fourth set and being pushed to a fifth.

As all of those key moments presented themselves, he managed to come through. The No. 1-ranked Nadal overcame a shaky start Friday and used his customary relentless style to wear down No. 27 seed Karen Khachanov physically and mentally, eventually getting to the fourth round with an entertaining and back-and-forth 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3) victory that took 4 hours, 23 minutes.

"I escaped a very tough situation," Nadal said, "so it's a great thing."

The man he beat in last year's final at Flushing Meadows, No. 5 Kevin Anderson, got through his own tough test against an up-and-coming opponent, edging No. 28 Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

After Nadal ceded the opening set, he had a trainer put tape under his right knee, which has caused problems off-and-on for the Spaniard over the years. Nadal later got more wrapping there during a 10-minute break at 5-all in the second set while the retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium was shut because of light rain.

Just prior to the delay, Khachanov had served for that set at 5-4, and three times was two points away from taking it. But he couldn't get closer than that. Nadal broke for 5-all and, after the delay, broke again to even it at a set apiece, aided by two double-faults from Khachanov. When Nadal earned that set with a passing shot that drew an errant volley, he crouched and yelled. Folks sitting in his guest box rose. A chunk of the crowd gave a standing ovation. Khachanov swatted a ball in disgust.

Nadal said the brief break was just what he needed.

"I just trying to calm myself for a moment. He was playing well," Nadal said. "But for me, the most important thing is have the right tempo when I am playing. For some moments I felt things were going too fast in my mind. I didn't take the time to do the right steps, to go to the ball with the right decision, with the right determination, with the right timing."

The end of the third set was similar: Khachanov twice was two points from owning it and couldn't get across the line, helping Nadal with three double-faults in the tiebreaker. And while Nadal kept letting set points slip away, four in all, he made No. 5 count, and how. It was a quintessential Nadal point, too: a 40-stroke exchange — yes, 40! — that featured so much defense from Nadal until Khachanov netted a backhand, then tossed his racket on the sideline.

"I needed that set, of course," Nadal said.

He had one more pivotal part to get through: Khachanov's set point in the fourth while ahead 6-5 as Nadal served at 30-40. But Khachanov put a forehand in the net there, and after a thrilling point that featured a drop shot, a lob, a leaping 'tweener by Khachanov and a volley winner by Nadal, they headed to another tiebreaker.

This one was pretty much all Nadal.

In sum, he handled the particularly crucial points better than Khachanov did. Which, really, should come as no surprise given the disparity in age, experience and success. One man, the 32-year-old Nadal, owns 17 Grand Slam titles, three at Flushing Meadows. The other, the 22-year-old Khachanov, has never been past the fourth round at a major tournament.

The sort of big hitting the 6-foot-6, 192-pound Russian displayed Friday, including 22 aces and booming groundstrokes, bodes well for his future.

"That just shows that I'm really close to this high level against top guys. Hopefully it will be soon on my side," Khachanov said.

Perhaps, but Nadal is still at the top of the game.

After they finished, Ashe was the site for Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams, Part 30. It's their earliest meeting at a Grand Slam tournament in 20 years.

Earlier, 2017 champion Sloane Stephens betrayed a lot more emotion on that court than she usually shows anywhere, all of the double fist pumps making perfectly clear just how tight and tense things had been during her 6-3, 6-4 win against two-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka.

Stephens, the No. 3 seed, grabbed the last three games after returning from a brief break while the Ashe roof was shut (it was then reopened before Nadal vs. Khachanov).

Stephens went from up a set and 3-1 in the second to down 4-3 when Azarenka took three games in a row. That's when rain came.

"The man upstairs," Stephens said, "was looking out for me."

Speedway chief blasts F1 as US GP set to clash with NASCAR

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland takes a tour on the grass during practice at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press

Monza, Italy (AP) — Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage lambasted Formula One bosses for their "infamous indifference" toward fans after the draft calendar for 2019 was revealed on Friday.

The schedule would flip the traditional autumn pairing of the races in Austin and Mexico City, putting the Mexican Grand Prix first for the first time.

Pushing the U.S. Grand Prix back a week to Nov. 3 would conflict with NASCAR's playoff race on the same day at Texas Motor Speedway, about a three-hour drive north of the Circuit of the Americas. A similar scenario happened in 2014.

"Shame on Formula One for doing this to the fans," Gossage said.

"Fans have recognized this as the NASCAR date on this weekend since its inception long before Circuit of the Americas was built.

"I would think a lot of fans — myself included — would enjoy going to both races. Now Formula One is making fans choose only one. Yet another bad call by Formula One showing their infamous indifference toward the fans."

Circuit of the Americas President Bobby Epstein did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mexico City race organizers' are also likely to be unhappy as the Mexican GP would be on Oct. 27, several days ahead of the national Dia de los Muertos holiday celebrations, despite their desire to link the two events.

The 21-race draft calendar is subject to approval by the FIA World Motor Sport Council when it meets on Oct. 12.

The order of races is otherwise very similar apart from the Chinese GP effectively swapping places with Bahrain and becoming the third destination on the circuit rather than the second. The race in Shanghai will be the 1,000th grand prix since F1's inception in 1950.

The season will begin with the Australian GP in Melbourne on March 17. Brazil (Nov. 17) and Abu Dhabi (Dec. 1) will be the last two races.

The calendar also includes races in Germany and Japan.

The German GP was scrapped in 2017 but was reintroduced this year.

F1 also renewed its agreement with the promoter of the Japanese GP for a further three years, until 2021.

AP Sports Writer Jim Vertuno contributed from Austin, Texas.

Serena matches her easiest win over Venus in US Open rout

Serena Williams, left, meets her sister Venus Williams after their match during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

By Brian Mahoney, AP Sports Writer

New York (AP) — Serena Williams equaled her most-lopsided victory ever in 30 professional meetings with sister Venus, beating her 6-1, 6-2 on Friday night in the third round of the U.S. Open.

Serena shook off an early ankle injury to win seven straight games and seize control in perhaps her most dominant performance since giving birth to her daughter a year ago Saturday.

The sisters' earliest meeting in a Grand Slam tournament in 20 years was over early, with Venus unable to do anything to blunt Serena's power, even after the crowd tried desperately to get behind her early in the second set.

"It's not easy," Serena said, despite how easy it looked in a match that lasted just 1 hour, 12 minutes.

"She's my best friend. She means the world to me. Every time she loses, I feel like I do. It's not very easy, but it's a tournament. We know there's more to life than just playing each other and playing tennis."

They hadn't played this early in a Grand Slam since Venus won in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open in their first meeting as pros, and only once over the next two decades had either won so decisively. Serena won by the same score in a semifinal victory in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2013.

Serena, the No. 17 seed, will face Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, who knocked out top-ranked Simona Halep in the first round.

Serena, who turns 37 next month, leads the series 18-12 with her sister, 11-5 in Grand Slam tournaments. But this one wasn't expected to be so easy, not with Serena still working her way back into form after returning to the tour in the spring.

But this was the type of tennis that has brought her to 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the ability to pound balls all over the court and chase down the rare shots that looked like they might get past her.

"This was my best match since I returned," he said. "I worked for it. I worked really hard these last three or four months. That's life, you have to keep working hard no matter ups or downs you have. That's what I've been doing."

She pounded 10 aces to just one for Venus, the No. 16 seed who was perhaps a little drained after two tough matches to begin the tournament, including a three-setter against 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in her opener.

Serena had an easier time in the first two rounds, though that was expected to change Friday under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium. They had combined for eight titles in Flushing Meadows, six by Serena, and each had beaten the other in a U.S. Open final.

But there was no beating Serena on this night, and the discouraged look on Venus' face across much of the match indicated she seemed to realize it.

It looked as if Serena could have trouble when, in the second game of the match, her right ankle turned awkwardly when Venus hit behind her on a shot. Serena stood near the baseline with her back to the court for quite a few seconds, then motioned to the chair umpire that she wanted to the see the trainer at the next changeover.

Serena had the ankle treated with a 2-1 lead, then broke in the next game, helped when Venus missed an easy swinging volley wide. She would break again for a 5-1 lead, then pound two aces in the next service game to wrap up the first set in 31 minutes.

Pujara hits 132 to keep momentum with India in 4th test

England's Jonny Bairstow, left shakes hands with India's Cheteshwar Pujara at the end of the Indian 1st innings, Pujara made 132 not out, during play on the second day of the 4th cricket test match between England and India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. England and India are playing a 5 test series. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Southampton, England (AP) — Cheteshwar Pujara struck a crucial century to keep the momentum with India in the fourth test against England after a burst of four wickets in 16 balls from Moeen Ali threatened to give the hosts the edge on day two Friday.

Finding support from tailenders Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, Pujara lifted the Indians from trouble at 195-8 by reaching his 15th test century, and ended unbeaten on 132 in a total of 273 all out.

That gave India a lead of 27 runs, and England openers Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings negotiated four tricky overs before stumps.

England was 6-0, trailing by 21 runs, and a potentially series-defining match was finely balanced heading into the weekend.

England leads the five-match series 2-1 after winning the first two tests.

Ali briefly gave England the initiative for the first time in the test by taking four wickets in an inspired spell either side of the tea interval, including two in two balls to remove Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami. That plunged India from 181-4 to 195-8.

In snaffling Sharma, the allrounder got his five-wicket haul and had final figures of 5-63 off 16 overs.

"I know deep down I am not a perfect spinner," said Ali, who was playing in this test only because of the late withdrawal of Chris Woakes through injury, "but I know on my day I can bowl a side out."

"We are really pleased," Ali added. "They were 140-2 and going well, and to bowl them out for just 20-odd runs ahead is fantastic."

It was one of the most important innings of his career by Pujara, who wasn't even in India's team in the first test at Edgbaston.

The tourists were 50-2 when Pujara and Virat Kohli came together, and they put on a third-wicket stand of 92. During that partnership, Kohli — playing his 119th test innings — became the second quickest Indian player to pass 6,000 runs in the longest format.

am Curran, who hit a valuable 78 in England's first innings, made another key intervention when he got the prized wicket of Kohli, who played at a full-length ball and nicked it to Alastair Cook at first slip on 46.

Ali's blitz of wickets began with what proved to be the last ball before tea by removing Rishabh Pant, who made a 46-ball duck to equal India's record for the longest innings without scoring in terms of balls faced.

Ali stayed in the attack at the start of the final session and dismissed Hardik Pandya (4) in his next full over, with Joe Root taking a sharp catch at short midwicket.

Ashwin (1) was the next to go when he misguidedly attempted a reverse sweep off Ali, and succeeded in only bottom-edging onto his stumps.

It was Ali's third wicket in 15 balls for the loss of eight runs, and when he bowled Shami the very next ball, England was in the ascendancy.

Pujara ensured that didn't last for long.



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