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Serena wins semi, will return to No. 1

DOHA, Qatar — A day after securing the No. 1 ranking, Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova for a 10th straight time 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday to reach today’s Qatar Open final.

Williams faces Victoria Azarenka, whom she will replace at the top in Monday’s new rankings. Azarenka beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-3 in the other semifinal, earning her 13th straight victory in 2013.

While Azarenka has been on a roll, she doesn’t have a good record against Williams. The American was up 11-1 in their head-to-head meetings, including winning their last nine matches. However, both players dismissed the lopsided record, with Williiams insisting she won’t have any psychological advantage.

Williams, who had been inconsistent for much of the week and struggled with her first serve, looked her old self at Sharapova’s expense. The third-ranked Russian had no answer for Williams’ first or even second serve, which resulted in six aces and 78 percent of first-service points won.

BRAZIL OPEN: In Sao Paulo, Rafael Nadal outlasted 111th-ranked Martin Alund 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-1 on Saturday, making it to his second straight final after a long layoff to treat his ailing left knee. Nadal next plays David Nalbandian, the former world No. 3 who defeated Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-3, 7-5 to make it to his first final since being disqualified for injuring a line judge at Queen’s Club last year. Nadal will try for his 51st singles title.

1,000 gather to fete Woody Hayes

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former Ohio State players and coaches were among the 1,000 people who gathered in Columbus to pay tribute to legendary football coach Woody Hayes. The event Friday night came as the university marked the 100th anniversary of Hayes’ birth this week.

Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce and Hayes’ former players including Archie Griffin, Rex Kern and Jeff Logan shared stories about the coach who won 13 Big Ten titles in his 28 years. Also at the event were former Buckeye greats John Hicks and Paul Warfield.

Earlier this week, an 8-foot-tall bronze statue of Hayes went up outside the athletic center that bears his name.

NEVADA: Coach Brian Polian has completed his on-field coaching staff with the hiring of an NFL veteran to coach cornerbacks. Ricky Thomas coached last season at Georgia State and 15 seasons before that in the NFL. Thomas was a four-year starter at safety at Alabama.

Rams release Young after 9 days

ST. LOUIS — After the short-lived and ill-fated Titus Young experiment, it’s back to the drawing board for the Rams at the wide receiver position.

The Rams released Young on Friday, just nine days after the team claimed him off the waiver wire from Detroit.

“We spent probably four or five days with him and as an organization – at the end of the interview process, let’s call it — we decided it was best for us to go a different direction,” Fisher said Friday.

SAINTS: New Orleans hired Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar to coach running backs and reassigned Bret Ingalls to overseeing the offensive line.

Etc. …

HORSE RACING: Great Hot went to the front early and earned a half-length victory in the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., on Saturday.

UNM TENNIS: The Lobo women (1-2 ) fell 5-2 to on Saturday to Northern Arizona, and they host UTEP today at 2 p.m. at the Linda Estes Tennis Complex. … In Tucson, the No. 63 Lobo men (5-5) edged host Arizona 4-3.
— This article appeared on page D7 of the Albuquerque Journal

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