- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2021


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Naomi Osaka stopped Serena Williams’ latest bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title in the Australian Open semifinals.

Osaka reached her fourth major final by beating Williams 6-3, 6-4 to stretch her winning streak to 20 matches.

Williams finished with totals of 24 unforced errors and just 12 winners.

Williams won her 23rd major championship at Melbourne Park in 2017 but remained one behind Margaret Court’s mark for the most in history.


SAN DIEGO (AP) - Fernando Tatis Jr. agreed to a $340 million, 14-year deal that could keep the electrifying shortstop with the San Diego Padres until he’s 35 years old, according to two people familiar with the situation.

The two people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the deal hadn’t been announced.

It will be the longest contract signed in MLB history. Giancarlo Stanton, now with the New York Yankees, signed a 13-year, $325 million deal with Miami in 2015. Bryce Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with Philadelphia in 2019. The biggest deal by dollars remains Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, 12-year deal signed with the Angels in 2019.

- By AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson.

TORONTO (AP) - The Toronto Blue Jays will play their first two homestands of the regular season at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, because of Canadian government restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made. A second person, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Blue Jays planned to make the announcement on Thursday morning.

After starting the season with three-game series at the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, Toronto’s schedule has a homestand with four games against the Los Angeles Angels from April 8-11 and the Yankees from April 12-14.

- By AP Writers Rob Gillies and Ronald Blum.

NEW YORK (AP) - Tim Tebow is retiring from baseball after five years as a minor leaguer with the New York Mets.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner returned to baseball in 2016 for the first time since his junior year of high school and reached Triple-A, encouraged by then general manager and current team president Sandy Alderson.

Tebow played 77 games at baseball’s highest minor league level in 2019, batting .163 with four home runs. He finishes his career with a .223 average over 287 games.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy will be sidelined for several weeks with a collapsed lung that required surgery but is expected to be fine and fully recovered by opening day.

The 26-year-old Murphy woke up a few weeks ago with the spontaneous issue, according to general manager David Forst - perhaps caused from a strong coughing episode while sleeping.

NEW YORK (AP) - Mets manager Luis Rojas condemned the behavior of former New York hitting performance coordinator Ryan Ellis on Wednesday but said he never witnessed his longtime coworker act inappropriately after Ellis was fired recently for sexual harassment.

The Athletic reported Wednesday that in the summer of 2018, three female Mets employees complained to human resources that Ellis, then the minor league hitting coordinator, had directed lewd comments to them in person and via text message.

CLEVELAND (AP) - Cody Allen, the Cleveland Indians’ career saves leader and an underappreciated closer for the team, has retired at age 32.

Allen spent seven seasons with Cleveland, which drafted him in 2010. The right-hander recorded 149 saves and appeared in 456 games - both club relief records.

Allen had a 24-31 record with a 3.14 ERA and 153 saves in 481 games. He also had seven postseason saves.


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Rafael Nadal’s bid for a men’s-record 21st Grand Slam title ended with a five-set loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

It is only the second time in Nadal’s career he has lost a Grand Slam match after taking the opening two sets.

He went ahead rather easily against Tsitsipas to run his streak of consecutive sets won at major tournaments to 35. But a surprisingly poor tiebreaker by Nadal helped give the third set to Tsitsipas and begin the epic comeback.

Now, the 22-year-old from Greece will try to reach his first major final by beating Daniil Medvedev on Friday.


Mike Whan is going from LPGA commissioner to the new CEO of the USGA.

Whan was hired Wednesday as the USGA’s eighth top executive in its 127-year history. He takes over for Mike Davis, who is leaving after three decades with the ruling body of golf in America.

Whan worked wonders in his 11 years at the LPGA Tour. Prize money nearly doubled and the tour was strong enough to survive a pandemic. He’s not the prototype CEO for the USGA.

The organization wanted a leader with business savvy who could keep the USGA at the forefront in a changing industry.


Mark Davis is all in on the Las Vegas Aces.

The Raiders owner was officially approved to buy the franchise by the WNBA Board of Governors last week and has grand plans for the Aces.

He will open a training facility for the team next year that will have two courts, locker rooms and training facilities. The center will be next to the Raiders headquarters and also will house the Al Davis-Eddie Robinson Leadership Academy - a program to develop minority coaching and general manager candidates in the NFL,


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - A bitter dispute has erupted between America’s Cup event organizers and the Challenger of Record Luna Rossa over the Italian team’s insistence that racing in the challenger series final should resume immediately even though Auckland remains under limited lockdown because of a community outbreak of COVID-19.

America’s Cup Events Ltd. criticized Luna Rossa in a statement to media released Thursday only minutes before Luna Rossa held a news conference at which it sought to explain its desire to re-start racing.

Luna Rossa was eager to race even on Thursday and certainly on Friday if arrangements could be put in place in time. The organizing committee has reluctantly agreed racing should start again by the weekend and opposes racing Friday.


TOKYO (AP) - Seiko Hashimoto appeared in seven Olympics - four Winter Olympics and three Summer Olympics.

Hashimoto made history on Thursday in Japan, where women are still rare in the boardrooms and positions of political power.

The 56-year-old Hashimoto was named as president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee after a meeting of its male-dominated executive board. She replaces 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, a former Japanese prime minister who was forced to resign last week after making sexist comments about women.


More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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