Rain gets assist as Romanianreaches U.S. Open semifinals
Simona Halep appreciated the help from the heavens in her U.S. Open quarterfinal.
Worn down after dropping the second set to Victoria Azarenka, the second-seeded Romanian got to rest up for nearly an hour and a half when the sky opened up. "Thanks, God, for raining," she said after her 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory Wednesday.
Halep, who's just 5-foot-6, came back on court with a 106 mph ace to prove just how fresh she felt. She advanced to face 26th-seeded Flavia Pennetta, who beat two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in another three-set match earlier.
In the first men's quarterfinal, fifth-seeded Stan Wawrinka broke Kevin Anderson's powerful serve five times in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 victory. Wawrinka had lost four straight meetings to the South African, who stunned Andy Murray in the fourth round to reach his first major quarterfinal. Wawrinka will meet Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer hasn't dropped a set in this U.S. Open so far. He had no trouble beating 12th-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in Wednesday night's quarterfinals.
Volunteers report mix of bad, good news
Tennessee defensive tackle Danny O'Brien has been suspended for what Coach Butch Jones described as a violation of team rules. O'Brien will miss Saturday's game with No. 19 Oklahoma (1-0) and there's no timetable for the junior's return. No. 23 Tennessee (1-0) also will be missing reserves Max Arnold and Ralph David Abernathy IV this week. Arnold, a safety, has a sprained medial collateral ligament and Abernathy, a running back, has a sprained ankle. The Vols did get good news. Senior safety LaDarrell McNeil, who was fourth on the team with 76 tackles last season, is expected to play Sept. 19 when the Vols host Western Carolina. Jones had said there was only a slight chance McNeil would play this season because of "neck instability."
Sulking Seahawk Chancellor to miss opener
Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll says holdout strong safety Kam Chancellor has not shown up at the team's practice facility and won't play on Sunday in the season opener against St. Louis. Carroll says he is disappointed Chancellor has chosen this route to express his displeasure with his contract situation.
Chancellor did not report when the Seahawks gathered for training camp at the end of July. His potential fines are in excess of $1 million should the team choose to enforce them and he will forfeit a game check by missing the opener. Dion Bailey will start at strong safety in Chancellor's absence.
■ Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is not ready to play for the New York Giants, Coach Tom Coughlin said after the team examined the right hand that Pierre-Paul injured in a fireworks accident on the July Fourth holiday.
While saying Pierre-Paul was in good shape and in an outstanding frame of mind after reporting Monday, Coughlin said the team did not feel he was ready to come back. Coughlin says there is no timetable for his return. "He's done a lot of conditioning-type work," Coughlin said. "Obviously, it'd be great if he was all healed and ready to go, but he's not."
Coughlin did not describe the injury to Pierre-Paul's right hand. Pierre-Paul did not let the Giants examine his hand after it was injured, so the Giants had to wait until Monday to see it.
■ The New England Patriots have requested permission from the NFL to reinstate the two low-level team employees who allegedly conspired with quarterback Tom Brady to deflate footballs. The Patriots suspended John Jastremski and James McNally without pay on May 6. Even if reinstated, Jastremski is "prohibited from having any role in the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs to be used in NFL games during the 2015 season," the NFL said May 11. "McNally is barred from serving as a locker room attendant for the game officials, or having any involvement with the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs or any other equipment on game day."
Mark Price's son transferring to Charlotte
TCU guard Hudson Price is transferring to Charlotte to play for his father, former NBA star Mark Price.
Hudson Price will have to sit out the 2015-16 season because of NCAA transfer rules. He has two years of eligibility left.
Mark Price said his son brings a wealth of experience to the 49ers and gives the team "a lot of skill and shooting ability."
The younger Price, who at 6-foot-7 is seven inches taller than his father, earned second-team Academic All-Big 12 honors last season. Price was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com after playing for The First Academy Royals in Orlando, Fla.
Softball team holding tryouts Sept. 22
The University of Kentucky softball team, which has advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals four of the past five seasons, has announced a date for open tryouts at John Cropp Stadium. The session Sept. 22 is open to full-time UK students. Those interested need to attend a meeting Sept. 19 to discuss tryout protocol. The student also is required to have a physical.
■ Kentucky senior setter Morgan Bergren is one of 30 candidates for the 2015 Senior Class Award.
Bergren is one of six players on the list to have garnered All-America honors in 2014 when she was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association's second team. She also is one of 25 candidates to hold a 3.0 GPA or higher. The award honors the attributes of NCAA Division I senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.
Hamlin to keep racing despite ACL tear
NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin expects to race Saturday night at Richmond with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Hamlin suffered the injury while playing basketball Tuesday. He will require surgery to repair the ACL following the season. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had an MRI and was given clearance to continue racing through the rest of the season, which includes the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Hamlin has one win and has reeled off three straight top-five finishes.
■ Internal affairs detectives are investigating former tennis professional James Blake's claim that he was thrown to the ground while mistakenly being arrested in New York. Police spokesman Stephen Davis says the 35-year-old was misidentified outside a Manhattan hotel Wednesday during an investigation into fraudulently purchased cellphones. Davis says a witness believed he'd sold phones to Blake on Tuesday. He hadn't.
Blake's last tournament as a pro was the 2013 U.S. Open.
■ The PGA Championship is returning to Oak Hill in 2023 for the fourth time. Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship when it was held two years ago at the Pittsford, N.Y., course. Jack Nicklaus won his fifth and final PGA at Oak Hill in 1980, and the Donald Ross-designed course also hosted the Ryder Cup in 1995, which turned out to be the start of European dominance.
The last word
Catcher Stephen Vogt rejoined the Oakland A's Wednesday following two days of rest at home after a scary foul tip to the groin forced him to leave Sunday's game against Seattle. Said Vogt:
"I've taken so many shots to the cup. This one was direct, 93 (mph). I've never been hit that direct with that much velocity. ... Right now the thought of getting back there makes me nauseous."