Sharapova struggles to advance
She gingerly flexed her right wrist, pulled on her ponytail in frustration, argued with the umpire and left the court with remnants of a big, orange blob of clay pasted to the back of her soaking shirt. Yes, Maria Sharapova had to get down in the dirt for her latest French Open win, but her quest to complete the career Grand Slam is still alive.
After breezing through her first three matches, second-seeded Sharapova got stymied as much by her opponent as her own shaky play, to say nothing of the windy, damp conditions Monday at Roland Garros. She persevered in a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2 victory over 44th-ranked Klara Zakopalova in a match that took 3 hours, 11 minutes.
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That was 16 minutes longer than her first three matches combined. The 13 games she lost against Zakopalova were eight more than Sharapova dropped against her first three opponents combined.
"It was a good test for me," Sharapova said. "I had chances to finish in two sets and didn't but I came out strong in the third set."
While Sharapova advanced, defending champion Li Na, the No. 7 seed, disintegrated in a 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 loss to qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova. It means the French Open will crown a first-time champion this year on the women's side; Li was the last former titlist left.
The headliner on the men's side was No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who beat No. 13 Juan Monaco 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 and has lost only 19 games through four matches. Seeking his record seventh French Open title, Nadal needed only 1 hour, 46 minutes to dispatch Monaco.
Manning airs it out at Broncos' camp
Peyton Manning is the only four-time MVP in NFL history, he's hoisted a Super Bowl trophy and hosted Saturday Night Live.
Yet, he's never faced scrutiny quite like this.
"I've never had to comment before on incompletions in practice, so this is new to me," the Denver Broncos quarterback said with a chuckle when peppered with questions about some errant deep throws Monday. "I will say that when you are throwing deep balls, the idea is to take your shot. It's not the highest percentage play but we're going to keep throwing them."
Coach John Fox also had some fun with the media's steely-eyed focus on the Manning's timing with his receivers on deeper routes.
"You guys obviously pay a little more attention to that than I do, but I think our passing game is way further along than it was this time a year ago, obviously, because we weren't even here (because of the lockout)," Fox said. "I think he's doing tremendous. Physically, he looks the same to me as he's always looked."
Love qualifies for 23rd U.S. Open
U.S. captain Davis Love III won't have to watch potential Ryder Cup players on television at the U.S. Open on television. He'll be playing alongside them. Love qualified for the U.S. Open for the third time in the last six years with a 2-under 139 at Scioto Country Club and Ohio State's Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio. He was among 16 players to qualify from the biggest of the 11 sectional qualifying sites across the country on Monday.
One of them won't even get started until Tuesday. There was so much rain in Memphis that no one played more than a few minutes. USGA officials hope the course is dry enough to squeeze in 36 holes.
The U.S. Open is June 14-17 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, and the 48-year-old Love will be making his 23rd appearance in his national open. Others who qualified from Scioto and Scarlet included medalist Charlie Wi, Kevin Streelman, D.A. Points, Rod Pampling and Steve Marino, who only last week returned from a four-month break to recovery from a bad shoulder.
Wi was the medalist by three strokes. He opened with a 7-under-par 65 at Scarlet and followed up with a 67 at Scioto.
"This is only my second one. It's not easy to get in," Wi said.
Perhaps the biggest cheer of the day came as darkness was falling at Scioto Country Club. On the fourth playoff hole to decide the last qualifiers, 42-year-old Youngstown, Ohio, teaching pro Dennis Miller's 20-foot putt from the fringe stopped on the lip of the cup. After the gallery of a few hundred groaned and Miller slowly started to walk to his ball, it fell — touching off a huge celebration.
Now Miller, a third alternate whose name did not even appear on the tee sheet, will be playing in his first U.S. Open. "I can't believe what just happened," Miller said. "That was pretty incredible."
At Lecanto, Fla., Scott Langley made it through local and sectional qualify for the second time in three years. Langley made his U.S. Open debut as an amateur at Pebble Beach in 2010 and tied for 16th to share low-amateur honors. Brooks Koepka earned the last spot in a playoff over 14-year-old Andy Zhang of China, who was bidding to become the youngest ever in the U.S. Open.
■ A Tiger Woods victory is still a big draw on TV. With Woods rallying for a win Sunday, the Memorial Tournament had its highest-rated final round in eight years. CBS said Monday the coverage earned a 3.8 rating and 9 share, up 138 percent from last year when Steve Stricker won.
Kings clobber Devils, take 3-0 series lead
Jonathan Quick made 22 saves in his third shutout of the post-season, Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist, and the Los Angeles Kings rolled to the brink of the franchise's first NHL title, beating the New Jersey Devils 4-0 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night to take a 3-0 series lead.
Alec Martinez scored the opening goal, and Jeff Carter and Justin Williams added late power-play goals as the Western Conference champion Kings moved one win away from finishing one of the most spectacular playoff runs in league history.
Eighth-seeded Los Angeles improved to 15-2 in the post-season and jumped to a 3-0 lead in its fourth straight series — a first in NHL history.
Game 4 is Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The last word
Count horse racing analyst Randy Moss among those hoping I'll Have Another wins Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Moss said he has been telling people I'll Have Another has a 40 to 50 percent chance of winning. But he added that he thought Smarty Jones had a 70 to 75 percent chance in 2004. Said Moss:
"I'm on my 33rd year now covering the Triple Crown and I have yet to see a Triple Crown winner. I'm beginning to think it's me."