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Kim Clijsters easily tops Venus Williams for title

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Serena Williams cupped a hand to her mouth and hollered from her front-row seat, like any other fan hoping to see a better match.

Or at least see Venus Williams win a point.

Kim Clijsters claimed another trophy in her career comeback Saturday by beating the older Williams 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.

The match was even more lopsided than the score might suggest. Clijsters won 17 consecutive points in the second set, the equivalent of more than four games.

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“It wasn’t my best day,” Williams said. “She played extremely solid, but it’s not like I was blown off the court. Unfortunately, I was my own worst enemy.”

Mercifully, it lasted only 58 minutes, ending with some ticket-holders still snarled in traffic on the causeway to the island.

When Williams hit one final errant forehand on match point, Clijsters raised her arms in triumph. Williams greeted her at the net with a gracious grin.

“I felt like from the beginning I was ready to go and really seeing the ball well,” Clijsters said. “Of course she hit a lot of easy mistakes today, so I was just really trying to not lose my rhythm.”

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Clijsters also won the tournament in 2005. Andy Roddick bids for his second Key Biscayne title Sunday against Tomas Berdych, who upset Roger Federer en route to the final.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico and basketball coach Steve Alford have agreed on a contract extension through 2020.

The school’s athletic department says details of the extension will be announced when the contract is complete.

Alford is 76-26 in three seasons at New Mexico, the highest winning percentage in program history for at least 100 games.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Eskendereya blew away a strong field to win the $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on Saturday, making a strong case for being the favorite in the Kentucky Derby in four weeks.

On the turn for home, Eskendereya (es-ken-DRAY-uh) stormed into the lead and pulled away with authority for a 9 3/4 -length victory over Jackson Bend.

The margin of victory in the 1 1-8-mile Wood topped Eskendereya’s 8 1/2 -length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 20 in his previous start.

CINCINNATI (AP) — A “drunk and belligerent” 17-year-old Notre Dame football recruit was killed in a fall from a fifth-floor hotel balcony during his senior-year spring break in Florida, authorities said Saturday.

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Matt James died Friday around 6:30 p.m. at the Days Inn Motel in Panama City Beach. Police said he was dead when officers arrived.

“It appears to be a tragic accident,” Panama City Beach police Maj. David Humphreys said.

James’ former teammates at St. Xavier High School gathered for a private prayer service in the school’s chapel, mourning the second death of an athlete this school year. James, an all-state offensive lineman, had been the first top signing for new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers has pleaded not guilty to a concealed weapons charge after authorities say he tried to carry a loaded handgun through airport security in a carry-on bag.

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Rogers’ attorney Patrick D’Angelo says his client entered the plea Saturday in Cleveland Municipal Court. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison.

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — David Haye made a successful first defense of his WBA heavyweight title, knocking down John Ruiz four times Saturday before the American challenger’s corner stopped the fight in the ninth round.

The 29-year-old Haye sent Ruiz to the canvas twice in the first round, but Ruiz survived until his trainer waved the white towel 2 minutes and 1 second into the ninth round.

“I am really happy,” Haye said. “I felt I was really sharp. There were a load of fans here. The crowd has been absolutely electric for me. There was a 20,000 capacity here with everyone screaming the ‘Hayemaker.’ With performances like that I’ll keep the fans behind me.”

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For the 38-year-old Ruiz, who held and lost the WBA title twice, it was the ninth defeat of a 55-fight career.

“We were close to rearranging the fight a few weeks ago because David cut his hand sparring,” Haye’s trainer Adam Booth said. “But David was very confident he could win it without sparring properly and that’s what he did.”

Haye’s mission now is to unite the heavyweight belts by fighting either of the Klitschko brothers — Vitali or Wladimir — who between them hold the WBC, IBF and minor WBO titles.

GLADEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kevin Harvick took advantage of a late caution to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday, the Sprint Cup driver’s second victory in four series starts this season.

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Harvick and crew chief Ernie Cope gambled by taking two tires under caution and seized the lead from Kyle Busch with 34 laps to go. Brian Keselowski touched off the race-changing caution by spinning at the entrance to pit road.

Harvick’s Chevrolet was strong on long runs all afternoon and was not seriously threatened as the race was contested under green the rest of the way. Harvick beat Reed Sorenson by 0.2 seconds at the finish.

Busch, who beat Harvick in the Trucks race Friday night, was third.


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