SPORTS digest


Venus Williams among ousted in Aussie Open

MELBOURNE, Australia

In her first match at the Australian Open since a Williams sister was guaranteed to win the title, Venus Williams lost in the first round to Belinda Bencic and ensured it cannot happen in 2018.

Venus lost last year’s final at Melbourne Park to younger sibling Serena, who clinched an Open era-record 23rd major but hasn’t played a Grand Slam tournament since because of her pregnancy and the birth of her first child.

The 6-3, 7-5 loss for Venus Williams was her first in five career meetings with Bencic, who lost to Serena Williams in the first round here last year.

It was a bleak opening day for American women, with U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, No. 10-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe, a semifinalist here and at the U.S. Open last year, and CiCi Bellis, the WTA’s Newcomer of the Year, going out in the first round. The U.S. women were 0 for 7 in first-round singles by mid-afternoon.

U.S. Open finalist and No. 11-seeded Kevin Anderson was the highest-ranked man eliminated at that point, losing in five sets to Kyle Edmund — the only British man in the draw after five-time finalist Andy Murray withdrew. No. 16 John Isner lost in four sets to Australian Matt Edben.

Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey dies at 87

VISALIA, Calif.

Doug Harvey was so sure of his calls on the diamond, he ended every game the same way. Following the last out, the umpire took his wad of chewing tobacco and flung it on home plate.

“I never did have any doubt in my mind,” he once said. “The only thing in my mind was, ‘Bring it on, suckers!”’

One of only 10 umpires in the Hall of Fame, and held in such regard by major league players and managers they called him “God,” Harvey died Saturday. He was 87.

The Hall said Sunday that Harvey had been in hospice care. He died of natural causes.

Harvey umpired in the National League from 1962 through 1992, and was a crew chief for 18 seasons. He worked five World Series, including the plate for Kirk Gibson’s extraordinary home run in the 1988 opener, and six All-Star Games. His 4,673 games in the regular season rank fifth.

Mets reach 1-year deal with Adrian Gonzalez

NEW YORK

Free agent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and the New York Mets have reached agreement on a one-year contract.

The 35-year-old Gonzalez needs to pass a physical to complete the deal. He was limited to 71 games last season because of a herniated disk in his back, and was left off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ postseason roster.

Gonzalez is a five-time All-Star, hitting .288 with 311 career home runs. He batted just .242 last season and was traded to Atlanta in December. The Braves released him shortly after the deal.

Gonzalez is owed more than $21 million next season, but the Mets would be responsible for just $545,000 if he makes the team. New York tried rookie Dominic Smith at first base late last season, but the rookie hit only .198.

Racing pioneer Gurney dead from pneumonia

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.

Dan Gurney, the first driver with victories in each of the Formula One, IndyCar and NASCAR Cup series, died Sunday from complications of pneumonia. He was 86.

His wife, Evi, announced his death in a statement distributed by All American Racers, Inc.

“With one last smile on his handsome face, Dan drove off into the unknown just before noon today,” said the statement signed by Evi Gurney, the Gurney family and AAR teammates.

“In deepest sorrow, with gratitude in our hearts for the love and joy you have given us during your time on this earth, we say, ‘Godspeed.”

Gurney began racing in 1955 and won in nearly every racing series he attempted. He drove for Ferrari, BRM, Porsche and Brabham in Formula One, then formed his own team.

Gurney retired from driving in 1970 with 51 victories.

Associated Press

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