Update on the latest sports
Djokovic spending Orthodox Christmas in detention
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – Novak Djokovic (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich) is spending Orthodox Christmas in an Australian detention hotel working on his challenge against deportation.
The top-ranked tennis player has been receiving calls from Serbia, including from his parents and the president, hoping to boost his spirits. And hundreds of supporters have gathered at a rally in downtown Belgrade to protest his confinement.
The evidence that Djokovic was relying on to support a medical exemption to Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination policy was rejected by Australian border authorities when he arrived at the Melbourne airport late Wednesday, and his visa was canceled. He has been confined to the detention hotel since being moved from the airport.
So, instead of preparing to defend his Australian Open title, and bid to win a men’s-record 21st major title, he’s preparing to go to the Federal Circuit Court on Monday to challenge his visa cancellation and deportation. That’s a week before the season-opening major starts.
Djokovic isn’t the only person connected to the Australian Open to run into visa trouble. The Australian Border Force told The Associated Press in an e-mail that action was taken against two other people. The border force said one had a visa canceled and the other left the country voluntarily.
In other tennis news:
– Top-ranked Ash Barty has advanced to the Adelaide International semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, and Rafael Nadal advanced in Melbourne via a walkover in tune-up tournaments ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam event. Barty used her usual backhand slice and powerful forehand drive but also hit 17 aces and won 31 of 32 points on her first serve to advance. Barty lost to Kenin in the Australian Open semifinals at Melbourne Park two years ago. Nadal advanced without taking the court when Dutch opponent Tallon Griekspoor withdrew.
GOLF-US WOMEN’S OPEN
US Women’s Open purse soars to $10 million on fabled courses
UNDATED (AP) – The biggest event in women’s golf now has the prize money to match. And the U.S. Women’s Open is also headed to major courses.
The USGA has announced a $10 million purse for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open. That’s nearly double what it was last year. The prize money will go up to $12 million over the next five years. Helping to foot the bill is a presenting sponsor in Ohio-based ProMedica.
Future courses include Riviera, Merion and Oakland Hills. The USGA also says Pinehurst No. 2 will host the U.S. Open and Women’s Open in successive weeks in 2029.
Sue Bird says she’s returning to Storm for another seaso
SEATTLE (AP) – Sue Bird says she will return to the Seattle Storm for another season, putting off retirement for at least one more year. The four-time WNBA champion and 12-time All-Star selection has spent her entire WNBA career with the Storm after being the No. 1 pick of the 2002 WNBA draft. The 2022 season will be Bird’s 21st overall with the franchise, but she missed the 2014 and 2019 seasons due to injury.
Bowe, teen Stolz win 1,000 races at US speedskating trials
UNDATED (AP) – Brittany Bowe has won the women’s 1,000 meters in a track-record time at the U.S. speedskating trials in Milwaukee to earn her third Olympic berth. The 33-year-old skater from Ocala, Florida, finished first in 1 minute, 13.63 seconds. Kimi Goetz was second at 1:14.89. Erin Jackson finished third in 1:15.88.
Jordan Stolz won the men’s 1,000 in a track-record time of 1:07.61 to earn an Olympic berth at age 17. Joey Mantia qualified for his third Olympics by finishing second.
In other Olympics developments:
– Olympic veterans Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman have crashed out of a World Cup qualifying race. That ends their hopes of being the doubles sled that represents USA Luge at next month’s Beijing Games. That spot will now go to either Zach Di Gregorio and Sean Hollander, or Dana Kellogg and Duncan Segger. The rest of the U.S. Olympic luge team for the Beijing Games is now basically set. Summer Britcher, Emily Sweeney and Ashley Farquharson will be the team in women’s singles. Mazdzer, Tucker West and Jonny Gustafson are the likely selections in men’s singles.
– Mariah Bell delivered a dazzling short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday night, putting her in position to not only earn her first national title but also her first spot on an Olympic team. The 25-year-old Bell landed the triple flip-triple toe loop that had been causing her problems all week in practice. Her score of 75.55 points put her one point ahead of Karen Chen, the 2017 champion and 2018 Olympian, and more than four points ahead of two-time champion Alysa Liu, who is also aiming for her first spot on an Olympic team and has won two U.S. titles.