Update on the latest sports

AP

AUSTRALIAN OPEN-DJOKOVIC

Djokovic gets exemption, will play in Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich) will get a chance to defend his Australian Open title after receiving a medical exemption to travel to Melbourne. The top-ranked Djokovic wrote on Instagram he has “an exemption permission” to compete at the tournament. Australian Open organizers have issued a statement to confirm the granting of a medical exemption to the nine-time champion.

Djokovic has continually refused to reveal if he is vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Victoria state government has mandated that all players, staff and fans attending the Australian Open must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 unless there’s a genuine reason why an exemption should be granted.

Djokovic is seeking a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam singles title.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN-TUNE-UP TOURNAMENTS

Osaka wins at tune-up event

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka opened her 2022 season with a win over Alize Cornet in one of the Summer Set tournaments in Melbourne. Osaka beat Cornet 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in her first match since a third-round loss to Leylah Fernandez at the U.S. Open in September.

Osaka is ranked 13th but is the top-seeded player in the Australian Open tune-up event at Melbourne Park.

Jessica Pegula is the top-seeded player in one of the other Summer Set events this week but she lost to Irina-Camelia Begu in straight sets.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL-UCLA RETURNS

UCLA seeks rival for return to the court

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The UCLA men’s basketball team is back after a nearly two-week shutdown because of COVID-19. Now the fifth-ranked Bruins are trying to find someone to play.

The team returned to practice a week ago, with everyone from coach Mick Cronin to several players having recovered after being laid low by the coronavirus. Just three scholarship players did not test positive. The Bruins have been idle since beating Marquette on Dec. 11.

The UCLA staff is furiously working the phones to find a game to schedule, even if it’s not against a Division I opponent.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NHL

Caps players return

UNDATED (AP) — The Washington Capitals have almost their entire lineup out of NHL COVID-19 protocol after missing players off and on for the past few weeks. Defenseman Martin Fehervary and goaltender Vitek Vanecek (VEE’-tehk VAN’-eh-chehk) skated Tuesday and appear on track to be back for Washington’s next game Friday at the St. Louis Blues.

The Dallas Stars are also getting healthier after removing captain Jamie Benn from the protocol list. Toronto’s Auston Matthews remains unavailable. San Jose captain Logan Couture (koo-TOOR’), Boston winger Jake DeBrusk and Buffalo forwards Anders Bjork(byohrk), Peyton Krebs and Alex Tuch all are new additions to league virus protocol.

NFL-NEWS

Browns’ Mayfield to have surgery

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will sit out the season finale against Cincinnati so he can undergo shoulder surgery.

Mayfield, who has played with a torn labrum and fracture in his non-throwing shoulder most of the season, was sacked nine times in Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield and the team decided that the best option for him is to not play against the Bengals and get the operation so he has more time to recover ahead of next season. The surgery is still being scheduled.

Stefanski did not want to assess Mayfield’s uneven season, which could affect whether the team pursues a long-term contract with him.

Elsewhere in the NFL:

— The Kansas City Chiefs should have Orlando Brown Jr. on the field when they visit the Broncos on Saturday. The left tackle hurt his calf muscle during pregame warmups and missed last week’s last-second loss in Cincinnati. But he did just about everything in practice Tuesday and coach Andy Reid said he expects Brown on the field in Denver. The Chiefs need to beat the Broncos and hope Tennessee loses to Houston on Sunday to earn the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

— Jalen Hurts is asking the Washington Football Team to take action after narrowly escaping harm when fans fell onto the field because a railing in the corner of FedEx Field gave way as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback was walking into the tunnel after Sunday’s game. Hurts avoided the railing and calmly helped some fans to their feet. Mark Tenally, a photo runner for The Associated Press who was standing under the railing, was injured and attended to by medical personnel. Hurts sent a letter to the NFL and the team, saying: “I am writing to inquire what follow-up action is being considered.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL-NFL DRAFT

Two Cincinnati stars to enter NFL draft

CINCINNATI (AP) — Two of Cincinnati’s biggest stars are leaving early to enter the NFL draft.

Cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and running back Jerome Ford helped carry the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff in 2021. Gardner never allowed a touchdown reception over more than 1,000 targets in three seasons. He is projected as a first-round pick.

Ford rushed for 1,319 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, helping lead Cincinnati to its second straight American Athletic Conference title. He had 15 carries for 77 yards in the semifinal loss.

Elsewhere in college football:

— Michigan outside linebacker David Ojabo is entering the NFL draft. Ojabo announced his decision Tuesday to turn pro and skip his senior season with the Wolverines. The second-team All-American and All-Big Ten player had 12 sacks as a redshirt sophomore. He helped Michigan win its first Big Ten title since 2004 and advance to the College Football Playoff for the first time.

NFL-WASHINGTON-NEW NAME

Washington NFL team to unveil new name

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington’s NFL team says it will unveil its new name on Feb. 2.

Team president Jason Wright confirmed that the name won’t be Wolves or RedWolves. He cited trademark challenges for not going down that path that was popular among fans. Commanders, Defenders, Red Hogs, Armada, Sentinels, Admirals Presidents, Brigade and the status quo “Washington Football Team” were among the other finalists.

The helmets and uniforms will still feature the franchise’s signature burgundy and gold colors.

The organization dropped its old name in the summer of 2020 after decades of complaints it was racist toward Native Americans and recent pressure from team sponsors.

SKIING-WORLD CUP-WOMEN’S SLALOM

Vlhova beats Shiffrin for 4th World Cup slalom win of season

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Slovakian skier Petra Vlhova has won a women’s World Cup slalom in tough race conditions for her fourth win in five races this season.

Mikaela Shiffrin finished five-tenths of a second behind in second place upon her return to competition following a positive COVID-19 test and missing two races last week. Shiffrin was only cleared to race on Monday and was the only racer to finish within two seconds of Vlhova’s winning time.

Categories: National Sports