Serena Williams advances, locks up No. 1 ranking
Serena Williams is headed back to the top.
Williams needed only to win her second-round match at the China Open in Beijing on Tuesday to reclaim the No. 1 ranking, because the current top-ranked player, Dinara Safina, couldn't get past that early round at the tournament.
Coming in, Williams had to fare better than Safina to move to the top of the rankings next week. Safina lost to local wild card entry Zhang Shuai in the second round Monday.
Williams then needed just over one hour for a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.
"It feels pretty good. I'm really excited, I guess," Williams said. "I don't want to put too much pressure on myself, but I'm obviously happy to be there because I feel like I've been working so hard all year and just happy to be back."
Safina's loss made No. 226 Zhang the lowest-ranked woman to defeat a No. 1. Julie Coin of France was ranked 188th when she beat then-No. 1 Ana Ivanovic at the 2008 U.S. Open.
"I would like to take some break now. ... I'm very upset with myself," Safina said.
In other action, Maria Sharapova rallied for a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5 win over Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, and Peng Shuai of China upset defending champion Jelena Jankovic 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
In men's play, defending champion Andy Roddick lost to Polish qualifier Lucasz Kubot 6-2, 6-4, and top-seeded Rafael Nadal had a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over Cypriot wild card Marcos Baghdatis.
■ U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro made a quick exit at the Japan Open in Tokyo on Tuesday. He lost in the first round 6-4, 6-4 to French qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
"I didn't play my best tennis today," said No. 1-seeded Del Potro. "I wasn't feeling 100 percent and the other guy played a great game."
Roger-Vasselin set up triple match point with a crosscourt backhand then wrapped up the match when Del Potro's forehand return was long. Ranked 189th, he had nine aces.
"It's unbelievable," Roger-Vasselin said. "I didn't expect this. It was tough in the first two games, and then I saw that he wasn't playing that well and thought, why not today?"
■ Kentucky sophomore Eric Quigley defeated Duke's Dylan Arnould 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the third round of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships' qualifying singles tournament Tuesday in Tulsa, Okla. Quigley's teammate, Brad Cox, lost 7-5, 6-2 to Ohio State's Shuhei Uzawa in the second round.
Fences to be raised at plate tracks
The fences at Daytona and Talladega will be raised from 14 to 22 feet following a safety analysis conducted after Carl Edwards' airborne flight into the Alabama track's safety barrier.
A wreck on the last lap in April's race at Talladega sent Edwards sailing into the fence. It bowed, but held, and his car shot back onto the track. Debris from the accident injured seven fans in the stands, the most serious a broken jaw suffered by a teenage girl.
The frontstretch fence at Talladega will be raised before the Nov. 1 race, and the backstretch will be completed during the off-season. Daytona will have its fences raised before its first big event in January.
Vols' Negedu to miss upcoming season
Tennessee forward Emmanuel Negedu will not play or practice during the 2009-10 season but will remain on scholarship after suffering sudden cardiac arrest last week. The 20-year-old sophomore from Kaduna, Nigeria, underwent surgery Tuesday to have a cardiac defibrillator implanted in his chest to monitor his heart's rhythm and delivery energy when an irregularity occurs.
Negedu had just completed a team weightlifting session and had been racing a teammate on the Vols' indoor football field when he collapsed on Sept. 28. He lost consciousness and had no pulse.
As a freshman, Negedu averaged 7.2 minutes, 1.9 rebounds and 1.7 points in 33 games. His biggest game came Jan. 28 against Louisiana State, when he scored 11 points and grabbed two rebounds.
■ The Great Lakes Valley Conference says it has banned Southern Indiana's men's team from post-season play due to alleged NCAA violations reported by the school. The ban announced Tuesday covers the GLVC and NCAA Division II tournaments.
Coach Rick Herdes resigned and the Screaming Eagles forfeited their entire 2008-09 season in May after two players were declared ineligible and an internal investigation found five alleged NCAA violations by the men's basketball program.
Mine That Bird preps for Goodwood
Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird completed his final workout in preparation for Saturday's $300,000 Goodwood Stakes. Mine That Bird drilled 5 furlongs Tuesday in 1:00.20 on Santa Anita's synthetic Pro-Ride surface under jockey Joe Talamo, who was substituting for regular rider Calvin Borel. The 11⁄8-mile Goodwood is the colt's final prep before the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7. The Goodwood is one of three Grade 1 Breeders' Cup prep races to be run on Saturday. Undefeated Zenyatta is set to start in one of them, the Lady's Secret.
■ LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal made their debut as Cleveland teammates on Tuesday night in the Cavaliers' 92-87 preseason-opening victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. James, wearing a pink pair of his signature Nikes for breast cancer awareness month, scored 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting in 14 minutes. O'Neal scored six points and added three rebounds and a block in 15 minutes. Former UK Wildcat Nazr Mohammed had 10 points and eight rebounds for Charlotte.
■ Allen Iverson's debut with the Memphis Grizzlies will have to wait. The guard strained his left hamstring injury during a scrimmage on Sunday in Birmingham, Ala., and he was held out of the Grizzlies' opening pre-season game on Tuesday night against Washington. The Wizards won 101-92. Iverson is scheduled to have an MRI taken on Wednesday in Memphis, and he will miss that night's home game against Oklahoma City.
The last word
After a series of questions Tuesday about the difficulty of his team's next opponent, Penn State Coach Joe Paterno angrily raised his voice when prodded about whether fans should pay the same price for Eastern Illinois tickets as for Ohio State tickets.
"That's up to them, stop belaboring the question. Is it worth it for you coming to the game? That's your decision. Don't get me into that will you? For crying out loud, we're playing a good football team!"