- Associated Press - Saturday, September 10, 2016

TENNIS

NEW YORK (AP) - For quite a while, Novak Djokovic’s opponent in the U.S. Open semifinals, Gael Monfils, looked as if he didn’t want to win - or even be there at all.

That premeditated “great strategy” of hoping to lull the No. 1 seed and defending champion into complacency and mistakes did not prevent Monfils from falling into a two-set deficit. So he transformed back into his entertaining, athletic self and won the third set.

However, Djokovic regained the upper hand to reach his 21st Grand Slam final and seventh at the U.S. Open with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory.

Djokovic, vying for his third U.S. Open title and 13th major trophy, will face No. 3 Stan Wawrinka on Sunday Wawrinka advanced to his first final at Flushing Meadows with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 6 Kei Nishikori.

NFL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants Cam Newton to receive the same protection on helmet-to-helmet hits as other quarterbacks get in the NFL.

Rivera said because of the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton’s size and the Panthers’ style of play, Newton often doesn’t draw the flags on hard hits that smaller QBs do.

Newton was on the receiving end of four helmet-to-helmet hits in Thursday night’s physical 21-20 loss to Denver, but the Broncos were only penalized once.

Rivera even went as far as to say the league’s reigning MVP should receive some preferential treatment. The coach would like to see Newton, now in his sixth season, get some “veteran favoritism” from the league’s officials.

Newton was tested four times for a concussion - after the game in the locker room, on the bus, on the flight home and Friday morning at the stadium - and all proved to be negative. He was never tested during the game.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tight end Rob Gronkowski will miss the New England Patriots’ opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night because of a hamstring injury.

The team confirmed Friday night that Gronkowski had been downgraded from questionable to out for the game. Also missing the game will be offensive linemen Jonathan Cooper and Nate Solder - and suspended quarterback Tom Brady.

The Providence Journal first reported that the players did not travel with the team to Phoenix. The team declined to comment about whether the players made the trip.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - The rehabilitation of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s left knee will require recovery from multiple ligament reconstruction.

The team issued a statement from director of sports medicine and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, revealing that the surgery the day before was performed in Dallas by Dr. Dan Cooper at the Carrell Clinic. The dislocation of Bridgewater’s knee during practice on Aug. 30 resulted in a complete tear of his anterior cruciate ligament, accompanied by other significant damage as initially announced by the Vikings.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Seantrel Henderson has decided to drop plans to appeal the NFL’s four-game suspension even though his agent said the Bills right tackle was using marijuana for medicinal purposes to relieve the effects of Crohn’s disease.

The Bills announced that Henderson was suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Henderson’s agent, Brian Fettner, told The Associated Press that his client tested positive for marijuana. Fettner added it was “futile” to appeal the league’s ruling.

Henderson was diagnosed with the inflammatory bowel disease late last year and had two operations on his intestines this past offseason. Doctors removed a section of diseased tissue in January, and Henderson then had his intestines reattached in April.

BASKETBALL

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - When Shaquille O’Neal was 10 years old, his father made a prediction.

Friday night when his son became a Hall of Famer, it was realized.

Shaq and Allen Iverson headlined the 10-member Class of 2016 enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. One of the most star-packed classes in recent memory, it also featured international star Yao Ming, WNBA great Sheryl Swoopes, coach Tom Izzo, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf, an architect in the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls championship teams of the 1990s.

Posthumous honorees were: 27-year NBA referee Darell Garretson; John McLendon, the first African-American coach in a professional league; Zelmo Beaty, the former NBA and ABA star who led Prairie View to an NAIA title in 1962; and Cumberland Posey, who is also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

BASEBALL

ATLANTA (AP) - Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is defending the team’s deal with Tim Tebow, saying the decision is about baseball and not any opportunity to sell merchandise.

The 29-year-old Tebow agreed Thursday to a minor league contract that includes a $100,000 signing bonus. He is attempting to launch a baseball career four years after the end of his time as an NFL quarterback.

Alderson said Friday it wouldn’t be practical to make such a big commitment to Tebow only as an attempt to market Tebow’s name.

Tebow will report Sept. 18 to the Instructional League in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He will test his skills against younger players for three weeks before the Mets determine his next destination.

GOLF

CARMEL, Ind. (AP) - U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson made two eagles in a span of seven holes, shot 31 on the back nine and set the course record at Crooked Stick with a 9-under 63 that gave him a share of the lead with Roberto Castro in the BMW Championship.

Johnson didn’t even know he set the course record until Tony Pancake, the golf director at Crooked Stick, congratulated him on the way to the clubhouse.

Castro was the first player to reach 14-under 130 on the rain-softened course. He is at No. 53 in the FedEx Cup and only the top 30 make it to the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake and a shot at the $10 million bonus.

Paul Casey had a 66 and was three shots behind.

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