SPORTS digest

Serena vs. Maria showdown looms


If the upcoming French Open showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova provides any of the sort of animus and back-and-forth they manage to stir up away from the court, look out.

During a news conference after both won Saturday to set up the longtime rivals’ fourth-round matchup at Roland Garros, Williams criticized Sharapova’s autobiography as “hearsay” and twice brought up the Russian’s 15-month doping ban.

Producing by far the best performance in her return to Grand Slam tennis — 16 months after her last major tournament and nine months after having a baby — Williams played cleanly and powerfully in a 6-3, 6-4 tour de force against 11th-seeded Julia Goerges that lasted a mere 75 minutes and lacked much in the way of theatrics.

Sharapova advanced with a similarly lopsided win, 6-2, 6-1 against 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova.

Now comes the drama: Williams vs. Sharapova on Monday with a quarterfinal spot at stake.

They have verbally clashed in the past, such as a 2013 public spat about their private lives.

Williams, 36, owns 23 major singles titles. Sharapova, 31, has won five. Williams has won the French Open three times, Sharapova twice. They are the only active women with a career Grand Slam; they are two of six in history to accomplish that. Both have been ranked No. 1.

Kyle Busch romps to Xfinity victory


Kyle Busch romped again, overcoming a penalty that dropped him to the rear of the field to win the Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Pocono Raceway for his 189th career NASCAR victory.

Busch scaled back his schedule in the second-tier series and won for the first time in four races this season. He won for the 92nd time in Xfinity to add to his series record.

Busch also has 47 Cup wins and 50 in the Truck Series to become perhaps the most dominant driver across all three national NASCAR series in history. Busch dominated early and won the first stage until he was busted on the 27th lap for speeding on pit road.

He had the No. 18 Toyota up to sixth by the end of the second stage and controlled the race in the final stage, easily holding off runner-up Chase Elliott.

Daniel Hemric was third, followed by Austin Cindric and Cole Custer.

Dixon captures IRL race in Detroit


Scott Dixon raced to his first IndyCar victory of the year, outlasting Ryan Hunter-Reay by 1.8 seconds at Belle Isle.

Dixon hadn’t led a lap all season until Saturday, but this was his fourth top-five finish in seven races in 2018. It was his 42nd career victory in the series, moving him into a tie for third on the career list with Michael Andretti.

Alexander Rossi finished third, followed by pole winner Marco Andretti.

Rossi took over the season points lead. Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power dropped from first to third in the standings with a seventh-place showing at Belle Isle.

It was a dominant performance in Detroit for Honda, which had the top six finishers.

This was the first of two IndyCar races this weekend at Belle Isle. Dixon led for 39 of the 70 laps on the 2.35-mile street course. After starting on the pole, Andretti was in front for the first 22 laps before giving up the lead during a cycle of pit stops. The only other drivers to lead were Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal.

After winning both Belle Isle races last year, Rahal crashed out of this one after 45 laps, hitting the wall coming out of a turn. Santino Ferrucci, making his first IndyCar start two days after his 20th birthday, also crashed when he spun 360 degrees before ending up in a tire barrier. Charlie Kimball was given a penalty.

The restart following Ferrucci’s crash came with 10 laps to go. Dixon led after the green flag and was in control the rest of the way.

Associated Press

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