Paris Serena Williams, of all people, got a case of the jitters. That was her explanation, anyway.
The 10-time Grand Slam champion kept finding herself in, then out of, trouble in the French Open quarterfinals Wednesday, until running out of stamina and strokes down the stretch of a 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-5 loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova that ended Williams’ 18-match winning streak at major tournaments.
The seventh-seeded Kuznetsova’s semifinal opponent today is No. 30 Samantha Stosur of Australia, who defeated Sorana Cirstea of Romania, 6-1, 6-3. The other women’s semifinal is No. 1 Dinara Safina of Russia against No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.
Roger Federer beat 11th-seeded Gael Monfils of France, 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-4, to close in on completing a career Grand Slam and earning a 14th major title to tie Pete Sampras’ career record.
Next up for Federer is No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, who eliminated No. 16 Tommy Robredo in straight sets. Friday’s other men’s semifinal will be No. 23 Robin Soderling — the man who upset four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round — against No. 12 Fernando Gonzalez.
U.S. to play at France
Paris — The United States will play at France in the first round of next year’s Fed Cup, and Italy will visit Ukraine. The Americans and Italians, who play at Italy in November in this year’s final, were among the eight teams Wednesday in the draw for the 2010 tournament.
Costa Rica tops U.S., 3-1
San Jose, Costa Rica — Alvaro Saborio scored 79 seconds in, the second-fastest goal against the United States in a World Cup qualifier, and Costa Rica coasted to a 3-1 victory Wednesday night.
Braves release Glavine
Atlanta — In a stunning move, the Atlanta Braves have released 305-game winner Tom Glavine, just when it seemed he was ready to return to the big leagues. The 43-year-old Glavine, who was coming back from shoulder and elbow surgery, threw six scoreless innings for Class-A Rome on Tuesday night and proclaimed himself ready to pitch in the majors again.
Atlanta acquires McLouth
Atlanta — The Braves acquired All-Star center fielder Nate McLouth from the Pittsburgh Pirates for three minor leaguers on Wednesday. The 27-year-old McLouth set career highs last season with a .276 batting average, 26 homers and 94 RBIs. Atlanta gave up outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, one of their top prospects, along with pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke.
NCAA suspending dues
Indianapolis — The NCAA wants member schools to get a little extra cash. So college sports’ largest governing body is cutting back. On Wednesday, the NCAA announced it would suspend membership dues for the next school year, plans to give schools an additional $5 million and intends to trim about $500,000 in travel expenses for committee meetings.
Labor talks under way
New York — The NFL and its players union started Wednesday on a long road that they hope can avoid a work stoppage in 2011, when the current contract expires. The talks began in New York with commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the new executive director of the NFL Players Association, both present.
Yahoo sues NFLPA
Minneapolis — Yahoo Inc. is suing the NFL Players Association to try to ensure it won’t be sued for using player statistics, photos and other data for its popular online fantasy football game. The lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Minneapolis alleges that a licensing arm of the players union has threatened to sue if Yahoo doesn’t pay royalties for the use of publicly available player data.
Dungy, Harrison join NBC
New York — NBC announced Wednesday that Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison have joined its NFL studio team, replacing Cris Collinsworth, who moved to the game booth, and Jerome Bettis, who was not retained, for “Sunday Night Football.”
Mine That Bird 2-1 favorite
New York — Mine That Bird is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, when Calvin Borel will attempt to become the first jockey to win all three Triple Crown races with different horses.
Borel rode Mine That Bird to victory in the Kentucky Derby, then won the Preakness Stakes aboard the filly Rachel Alexandra, and is back on Mine That Bird for the 11⁄2-mile Belmont. A field of 10 3-year-olds was entered Wednesday, with Mine That Bird drawing the No. 7 post position. Charitable Man, who missed the Derby and the Preakness, was the second choice at 3-1. He drew the No. 6 post.
Age minimum denounced
Washington — A lawmaker is urging the National Basketball Association to repeal its requirement that players be at least 19 years old and a year out of high school before entering the league.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., sent identical letters to the NBA and the players union Wednesday, asking that they scrap the requirement in the next collective bargaining agreement.