=== News Summaries from The Sports Network - Wednesday, April 1 ===
=== Cowboys restructure Romo's deal ===
Irving, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Cowboys restructured quarterback
Tony Romo's contract on Wednesday, freeing up roughly $13 million in cap space
for this season.
The Cowboys did not have enough money last month to retain the services of
2014 NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray. Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles,
who earlier traded LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills, swooped in and gave
Murray a five-year, $42 million contract.
Romo indicated in a radio interview Tuesday he was going to restructure his
contract and also said he was willing to take a pay cut so the team could re-
"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will.
I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going
to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary
cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I
would take $5 million less if it meant getting him back.
"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part
of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll
restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends
again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."
The full Romo restructure clears enough salary cap space for linebacker
Rolando McClain, who agreed to a one-year deal on Wednesday, and frees up
money for the Cowboys to sign their draft picks and possibly make other free
agent additions if needed.
The additional salary cap space will also make room for more money that could
be owed to defensive end Greg Hardy if he meets roster and performance
incentives in his one-year contract.
Romo was set to make a base salary of $17 million in 2015 and count an NFL-
high $27.773 million against the salary cap. But the Cowboys lowered his base
salary for 2015 down to about $1 million by converting the remaining $16
million owed to Romo into a signing bonus. Romo's cap hit will increase by
about $3.2 million over the next four years.
Ironically, disgruntled Vikings running back Adrian Peterson -- rumored to be
sought by Dallas and known to be unhappy with Minnesota -- is set to earn a
base salary of $12.75 million this season.
=== Cowboys retain McClain with 1-year deal ===
Irving, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Cowboys and linebacker Rolando
McClain agreed to a one-year contract on Wednesday.
McClain, 25, received an offer from the New England Patriots after visiting
them earlier in the week, but chose an offer from the Cowboys that is
reportedly worth $3 million. He can earn an additional $1 million in
The former first-round pick proved to be a valuable addition to the Cowboys
last season following two failed retirements, registering 81 tackles, two
interceptions and a force fumble in 13 games. He battled injuries for much of
the season and left both playoff games with concussions.
McClain is expected to be fined four game checks to open next season for
violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
=== Saints extend Evans, sign Wilson ===
Metairie, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - The New Orleans Saints signed guard Jahri
Evans to a one-year contract extension and inked cornerback Kyle Wilson to a
one-year deal on Wednesday.
Evans, originally a fourth-round draft choice of the Saints in 2006, has
started 142 contests at right guard for New Orleans. He was chosen for a sixth
consecutive Pro Bowl this past season.
Wilson played in all 16 games with the New York Jets last season and posted 26
tackles and one sack. Selected 29th overall by the Jets in 2010, Wilson has
recorded 157 tackles, one sack and three interceptions in 80 career games.
=== Bears sign LB Acho ===
Lake Forest, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bears signed linebacker Sam
Acho to a one-year contract on Wednesday.
Acho, 26, spent the first four years of his career with the Arizona Cardinals,
and last season compiled 31 tackles, one sack and one interception in 16
A fourth-round pick in 2011 out of Texas, Acho has registered 124 tackles, 13
sacks and three interceptions in 51 career games (32 starts).
The Bears also signed cornerback Sherrick McManis to a one-year contract.
McManis has appeared in 62 games with one start through five seasons with the
Texans (2010-11) and Bears (2012-14).
=== Bengals re-sign Tate ===
Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed wide
receiver Brandon Tate on Wednesday.
Tate logged 17 receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown last season for the
Bengals while playing a key role on special teams.
"Brandon has been a big contributor to the success of our team in qualifying
for the playoffs the past four seasons," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
"We are happy he has decided to remain a Bengal."
Tate, entering his seventh season, has not missed a regular season or
postseason game in the last five years, including four with the Bengals.
Tate ranks third all-time on the Bengals in both total kickoff returns (127)
and punt returns (126), and he could take over the all-time lead in both
categories in 2015 with 20 kickoff returns and 15 punt returns.
=== Texans sign Nate Washington ===
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Texans have signed veteran wide
receiver Nate Washington.
Washington caught 40 passes for 647 yards and two touchdowns for the Tennessee
Titans last season.
The 31-year-old Washington spent the last six seasons with the Titans. He was
originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2005 and spent
four years in Pittsburgh, where he won two Super Bowls (2005 and 2008).
During his NFL career, Washington has totaled 411 receptions for 6,296 yards
and 40 touchdowns. He also has recorded nine consecutive seasons playing all
16 games and his current streak of 144 consecutive games played ranks first
among NFL wide receivers.
Houston has also signed ex-Jaguar Cecil Shorts this offseason while losing
Andre Johnson to the Colts.
=== Report: Mets extend OF Lagares ===
Port St. Lucie, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Mets have reportedly
signed outfielder Juan Lagares to a four-year contract extension.
Yahoo! Sports is reporting the deal, citing an unnamed major league source,
adding the deal will be official after a Thursday physical. Also according to
the report, the deal is worth $23 million, covers his remaining four years of
arbitration eligibility and has a team option of $9.5 million for his first
year of free agency in 2020.
Lagares, entering his third season in the league, hit .281 with four homers
and 47 RBI last season, earning a Gold Glove for his efforts in center field.
Lagares, 26, is a career .262 hitter with eight homers and 81 RBI in 237 games
with the Mets.
=== Nats' Rendon headed to DL ===
Viera, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony
Rendon will begin the upcoming 2015 season on the disabled list as he
continues to recover from a sprained left knee.
Rendon, who finished fifth in voting for last year's National League Most
Valuable Player Award, suffered the injury in a spring training game on March
9 and hasn't played since. The 2014 Silver Slugger winner received a third
opinion on his knee Tuesday in Vail, Colorado which confirmed the previous
diagnosis of an MCL sprain, according to MLB.com.
Nationals manager Matt Williams said Wednesday that a timetable has yet to be
set for Rendon's return.
Yunel Escobar is expected to move from second base to third during Rendon's
absence, with Danny Espinosa slated to fill in at second.
Williams also said Wednesday that Jayson Werth is unlikely to be ready for
Monday's opener against the New York Mets as well. The veteran outfielder, who
underwent shoulder surgery in January, has been limited to only minor league
games this spring.
Rendon hit .287 with 21 homers, 83 RBI and 17 steals last season, his first
full one in the majors. Werth batted .292 with 16 homers and 82 RBI over 147
games in 2014.
=== Red Sox C Vazquez to have Tommy John surgery ===
Fort Myers, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Christian Vazquez, who was expected to be
the starting catcher for the Boston Red Sox this season, will undergo Tommy
John surgery on his right throwing elbow, the team announced Wednesday.
Vazquez's surgery will be performed Thursday in Pensacola, Florida, by Dr
The 24-year-old was placed on the 60-day disabled list Monday with a sprained
elbow and will likely miss the entire 2015 season.
He took over as the club's regular catcher last July and played 55 games in
his first major league action, hitting .240 with nine doubles, a homer and 20
He was at his best throwing out potential base stealers, nabbing 15-of-29.
Needing help at the position, Boston acquired catcher Sandy Leon in a trade
with Washington on Monday. Leon will likely join Ryan Hanigan as the primary
catchers to start the season for the Red Sox.
Hanigan is also a new addition. He was acquired in December from San Diego for
third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
=== Rockies add Betancourt to 40-man roster ===
Scottsdale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Veteran reliever Rafael Betancourt has
made the Colorado Rockies' Opening Day roster, with the team selecting the
right-hander's contract from Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday.
Betancourt, who saved a career-high 31 games for the Rockies in 2012, missed
all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery and signed a minor-
league deal with Colorado in January.
The 11-year vet earned a spot with a strong spring, yielding just one run and
striking out nine batters over 7 2/3 innings.
Betancourt turns 40 on April 27 and re-joins a bullpen that already contains
the oldest active player in the majors, 42-year-old closer LaTroy Hawkins.
His addition came at the expense of left-hander Rex Brothers, optioned to
Albuquerque Wednesday after struggling all throughout spring training.
Brothers, who saved 19 games after replacing an injured Betancourt as
Colorado's closer in 2013 and posted a 1.74 ERA that season, walked six
batters and allowed seven runs in 7 2/3 innings in eight Cactus League
The 27-year-old had a disappointing 2014 campaign as well, finishing with a
career-worst 5.59 ERA over 74 games.
Outfielder Brandon Barnes, who played in 132 games and batted .257 with eight
homers with the Rockies last season, was also sent to Albuquerque among
=== Nationals release Kevin Frandsen ===
Viera, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Nationals released utility man
Kevin Frandsen on Wednesday.
Frandsen, 32, was just 3-for-35 with two RBI this spring. He played in 105
games for the Nationals in 2014 and is a career .259 hitter with 15 homers and
110 RBI over parts of eight seasons in the majors.
Washington also assigned outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to minor league camp.
=== Astros place 3 on DL ===
Kissimmee, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Astros have placed three
pitchers on the 15-day disabled list, the team announced Wednesday.
Right-handers Josh Fields (right groin strain) and Brad Peacock (right hip
surgery) and lefty Brett Oberholtzer (left index finger blister) will begin
the season on the DL.
The Astros also optioned pitcher Kevin Chapman, outfielder L.J. Hoes and first
baseman Jon Singleton to Triple-A Fresno and designated outfielder Alex
Presley for assignment.
An additional move to create a spot on the 40-man roster will be made prior to
=== Kansas' Oubre entering draft ===
Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Kelly Oubre Jr. will leave Kansas after
just one season and declare for the 2015 NBA Draft, the university announced
Oubre, a likely lottery pick, finished second among Jayhawk players with 41
steals and earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors while helping Kansas to
an 11th straight conference regular-season title.
"It's always been a dream to play in the NBA," Oubre said in a statement.
"This is an opportunity to play against the best in the world and expand my
game in hopes of someday becoming one of those great players."
One of the nation's most sought-after recruits, Oubre had an uneven lone
season at Kansas. The 6-foot-7 swingman played sparingly during much of the
Jayhawks' non-conference schedule, but saw increased time later in the year
and finished with averages of 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds over 36 games.
"I was blessed to go through the things that I went through and I was blessed
to play for coach (Bill Self)," Oubre said. "He taught me a lot this year, the
little things that will help out my game a lot."
Oubre is the third high-profile player to depart Kansas after one season in
the past two years. Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid also left after their
freshman campaigns and were taken first and third overall, respectively, in
the 2014 NBA Draft.
=== Eastern Washington's Harvey turning pro ===
Cheney, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Eastern Washington guard Tyler Harvey, the
2014-15 Division I scoring leader, has decided to bypass his senior season and
enter the NBA Draft.
According to a release issued by the EWU athletic department, Harvey has yet
to hire an agent. He will be able to withdraw his name from the draft up until
Harvey, who is on track to graduate this spring, averaged 23.1 points and also
led Division I in 3-point field goals made (4.0) while leading the Eagles to
the 2014-15 Big Sky Tournament title and the program's first NCAA Tournament
berth since 2004.
The former walk-on was also named a first team Academic All-American and
carries a 3.6 grade point average.
Harvey totaled 1,564 points in his three seasons at Eastern Washington and
shot 43.2 percent from 3-point range over 84 games with the Eagles.
The 21-year-old is bidding to become the first EWU player since current
Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey to be drafted in the NBA.
=== Trimble opts to return to Maryland ===
College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Guard Melo Trimble will return to
Maryland for his sophomore season, coach Mark Turgeon announced Wednesday.
Trimble had a stellar freshman year as he averaged a team-best 16.2 points
while also leading the team in assists (106) and steals (44).
"We did our due diligence and also had a number of great discussions with Melo
and his mom regarding what would be best for his future," Turgeon said. "He is
excited about playing with a great team and is looking forward to his
sophomore year at Maryland."
Trimble helped the Terrapins win a school-record 26 games in the regular
season and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.
"I am excited about spending another year with my teammates and building on
what we accomplished this year," Trimble said. "I want to thank Coach Turgeon
for helping my mom and I through this process. This was the best decision for
me. Being a member of the Maryland basketball program has been an unbelievable
experience and I can't wait to be back in front of the best fans in college
basketball next season."
=== Heat G Napier done for season after surgery ===
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Miami Heat rookie guard Shabazz Napier will
miss the remainder of the regular season after undergoing surgery to repair a
Napier made 10 starts and played in 51 games as a rookie, averaging 5.1 points
and 2.5 assists in just under 20 minutes per game.
The former UConn standout, who led the Huskies to the national title in 2014,
was acquired from Charlotte in a draft-night trade. His injury opens the door
for fellow rookie Tyler Johnson to play meaningful minutes off the bench as
the Heat make their final playoff push.
They currently hold the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, though the
ninth-seeded Celtics are just one game behind.
=== Cavaliers recall Harris ===
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Cavaliers recalled guard Joe
Harris from the Canton Charge of the D-League on Wednesday.
Harris played in nine games for the Charge this season, averaging 15.4 points,
5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
In 47 games with the Cavs earlier this season, Harris averaged 2.5 points in
9.2 minutes per game.
=== Blatt, Kerr named NBA's top coaches for March ===
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Cleveland's David Blatt and Golden State's
Steve Kerr have been named the NBA's coaches of the month for March.
Blatt led the Cavaliers to the best record in the Eastern Conference during
March at 11-4. Cleveland went 5-0 at Quicken Loans Arena, where it has now won
16 consecutive games.
Kerr guided the Warriors to the NBA's best record in March at 16-2. Golden
State closed the month with 10 consecutive wins.
=== Xavier's Chris Mack gets 1-year extension ===
Cincinnati, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Xavier men's basketball coach Chris Mack
had his contract extended by one year through the 2020-21 season, the school
Mack, who signed a two-year contract extension last May, led the Musketeers to
a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament this season. They lost to Arizona
to finish with a 23-14 record.
"Our basketball program is pointed in a positive direction," said Xavier
athletic director Greg Christopher. "Chris and his staff are working
tirelessly to achieve our ultimate goal of reaching a Final Four and competing
for a national championship. A critical part of our direction is the right
leadership - and Chris is the right leader for our team."
The 45-year-old Mack has a record of 134-71 in six seasons at his alma mater
and has guided the Musketeers to the NCAA Tournament five times. He is the
only coach in school history to lead the team to three Sweet 16 appearances.
=== Hammond named NHL's top star for March ===
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Ottawa Senators goaltender and rookie
sensation Andrew Hammond was named the NHL's First Star for the month of
Hammond has pulled Ottawa into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff
race since his recall from Binghamton of the AHL. He finished the month 10-1-1
with a 2.09 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
The Bowling Green product began his NHL career by allowing two goals or fewer
in each of his first 12 starts, tying the league record set by Boston's Frank
Brimsek in 1939. The 27-year-old Canadian also became the first netminder
since Patrick Lalime in 1997 to earn at least one point in his first 15 career
Calgary forward Jiri Hudler earned Second Star honors thanks to leading the
league with 13 assists and 23 points. The Czech pivot recorded at least one
point in 12 of his 15 appearances last month, including nine multi-point
efforts, and began March with four straight multi-point contests for the first
time in his career.
Third Star was awarded to Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The 28-year-
old Saskatchewan native continued his stellar play since arriving in the Twin
Cities, topping the NHL with 11 wins along with a 1.78 GAA and .942 save
percentage. Dubnyk ended up with a 6-0-0 record away from home, helping the
Wild set a team record with 10 straight wins on the road.
=== Panthers sign D Matheson ===
Sunrise, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers signed defenseman
Michael Matheson to an entry-level contract on Wednesday.
Matheson, who will report to San Antonio of the American Hockey League, was
selected by the Panthers in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2012 NHL
"Michael is a talented, young, mobile, hard-working defenseman who we are
pleased to have signed," said Panthers executive vice president and general
manager Dale Tallon. "Since being selected in the first round of the NHL draft
in 2012, Michael has led Boston College to three consecutive NCAA appearances,
while also serving as the team's captain this past season. He is another one
of our top prospects who will continue to develop his game playing while
playing in the American Hockey League."
Matheson led all Boston College defensemen with 25 points (3G, 22A) during his
junior season. He ended his collegiate career with 14 goals and 57 assists in
=== Rangers ink D Skjei ===
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers agreed to terms with
defenseman Brady Skjei on an entry-level contract Wednesday.
The Rangers selected Skjei in the first round (28th overall) of the 2012 NHL
Skjei, 21, registered one goal and nine assists in 33 games for the University
of Minnesota this season. He concluded his collegiate career with eight goals
and 19 assists in 109 games for the Golden Gophers.
=== Flames' Gaudreau named top rookie for March ===
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau
was selected as the NHL's top rookie for March.
Gaudreau scored seven goals and led all rookies with 16 points in 15 games
last month. He had four multi-point games, including two three-point efforts.
Others considered for the honor included Boston teammates Ryan Spooner and
David Pastrnak, as well as Ottawa forward Mark Stone.
=== El Kabeir versus six in Wood Memorial ===
Ozone Park, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Gotham Stakes winner El Kabeir heads a
field of seven 3-year-olds in Saturday's 90th running of the $1 million Wood
Memorial at Aqueduct.
The 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial is part of the Kentucky Derby points system that
determines the 20-horse field for the Run for the Roses on May 2. The winning
3-year-old receives 100 points.
Trained by John Terranova, El Kabeir will start from post 5 with C. C. Lopez
again in the saddle. The gray colt comes into Saturday with earnings of
$678,892 and wins in half of his eight starts.
El Kabeir, owned by Zayat Stables, won the Gotham on March 7 by 2 3/4 lengths
as the 13-10 favorite.
"I was very impressed, visually," said Terranova. "The way the race unfolded,
he showed a whole new dimension. A lot was thrown at him ... and he made two
big moves; it was very impressive. We're real proud of him."
The Gotham victory came four weeks after after losing the Withers at Aqueduct
to Far From Over as the 1-2 favorite. Far From Over, however, has a broken leg
bone and is off the Kentucky Derby trail. El Kabeir began the year by winning
the Jerome at Aqueduct on Jan. 3 as the 7-5 top pick.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will saddle Frosted for the Wood with Joel Rosario
riding from post 4. The gray colt is owned by Godolphin Racing.
Frosted has just one win in six career starts but has finished second four
times, including runner-up performances in the Remsen Stakes last November and
January's Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park. The colt was fourth in Gulfstream's
Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 21.
"We feel like we've accounted for every issue, and he has no excuse not to run
his best race," said McLaughlin. "We know he has talent; he has to show it on
Saturday. The track was very tiring for the Fountain of Youth."
Daredevil comes out of the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher for the Wood. Owned
by WinStar Farm, Daredevil will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post 6.
The chestnut colt was second in the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park last time
out on March 7. He posted wins in his first two career starts, including last
October's Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. Daredevil finished 11th in last
year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He has earnings of $384,600.
"He's very similar to what I saw last year," said Byron Hughes, assistant to
Pletcher. "Whenever I watch him, I think he can do just about anything."
Here is the field for the Wood Memorial in post position order: Tiz Shea D,
Manny Franco; Toasting Master, Angel Arroyo; Lieutenant Colonel, Irad Ortiz
Jr.; Frosted, Joel Rosario; El Kabeir, C. C. Lopez; Daredevil, Javier
Castellano and Tencendur, Jose Ortiz.
NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of the Wood Memorial from 5-7
p.m. ET as part of NBC Triple Crown Prep Day, which includes the Blue Grass
Stakes and Santa Anita Derby. Post time for the Wood is approximately 5:30
=== Dortmund draws rail for Santa Anita Derby ===
Arcadia, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - San Felipe Stakes winner Dortmund will break
from the inside post versus five challengers in Saturday's $1 million Santa
Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park.
The 1 1/8-mile stakes offers 100 points to the winning 3-year-old as part of
the Kentucky Derby points system that determines the 20-horse field for the
Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 2.
Dortmund, trained by Bob Baffert, is the 3-5 morning line favorite and will
again have Martin Garcia in the saddle. Owned by Kaleem Shah, the undefeated
chestnut colt has won both starts this year with the Robert B. Lewis and San
"He's starting to fill out, getting stronger," Baffert noted. "The worse thing
you can do is take him back and get him behind a wall of horses."
Dortmund has 70 points in the Derby points system and has banked $689,400 from
his five winning career starts.
The Hall of Fame trainer will also saddle One Lucky Dane with Rafael Bejarano
riding from post 2. Owned by Michael Lund Petersen, One Lucky Dane is 5-1 in
"He likes this track and he runs well here," Baffert said of One Lucky Dane.
"If he runs well here, it gives us time to recuperate."
The colt will be making his second start of the season on Saturday following a
one mile allowance victory by 9 3/4 lengths on March 19 at Santa Anita.
Overall he has two wins from five career starts for $92,400.
The 7-2 second pick is Prospect Park who will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux
from post 5. Trained by Clifford Sise, Prospect Park is owned by breeders Pam
and Martin Wygod.
Prospect Park was second to Dortmund in the San Felipe when making his stakes
"They won the battle, but we'll win the war," Desormeaux said about the San
Prospect Park has two wins and two seconds in six career starts for $166,570.
Here is the field for the Santa Anita Derby from the rail out: Dortmund,
Martin Garcia, 3-5; One Lucky Dane, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Cross the Line, Juan
Hernandez, 15-1; Bolo, Mike Smith, 4-1; Prospect Park, Kent Desormeaux, 7-2
and Bad Read Sanchez, Martin Gutierrez, 30-1. All horses carry 122 pounds.
NBC Sports Network will provide live coverage of the Santa Anita Derby from
5-7 p.m. ET as part of NBC Triple Crown Prep Day, which includes the Blue
Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial. Post time will be approximately 6:30 p.m. ET.
=== Serena reaches Miami SFs with 700th win ===
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Seven-time champion Serena Williams overcame a
shaky start to record her 700th career match win Wednesday at the $5.3 million
Miami Open tennis event.
A celebratory cake was brought onto the court after the match.
"I had no idea," Williams said of the milestone. "I saw them bringing out a
cake and I thought, 'Whose birthday is it today?' But I really had no idea
about it, so I'm really excited right now!"
The world No. 1 superstar was tested mightily in a 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 6-3
decision against 27th-seeded German Sabine Lisicki on the hardcourts at
Crandon Park. Williams needed just over two hours to move on, which she did
despite having her powerful serve broken six times.
She prevailed despite an unreliable serve, a poor second set and 51 unforced
Williams, however, has now won her last 19 matches on tour and 16 straight
matches in Miami.
"I wasn't playing my best today," Williams said afterwards. "But some days
you're just off, and that's when you have to fight. Even if I lost today, if I
just gave 100 percent then I wouldn't have been upset."
Lisicki stunned Williams in a fourth-round affair at Wimbledon two years ago.
The American, however, now leads their lifetime series 3-1.
The incomparable Williams has appeared in nine Miami Open finals, going 7-2 in
those title tilts.
The 33-year-old reigning Australian and U.S. Open champ beat since-retired
Li Na in last year's finale for a second straight title in "Magic City."
The 19-time Grand Slam titlist will meet red-hot third-seeded Romanian star
Simona Halep in Thursday's semifinals. Halep beat American Sloane Stephens by
a 6-1, 7-5 margin.
Halep raced out to a 6-1, 3-0 lead, but Stephens won five of the next six
games to go up 5-4 in the second set. However, Halep fought back to close out
the match in two sets.
"The beginning of the match was really fast. I think I was really playing my
best tennis," Halep said in her on-court interview. "She came back and changed
the tactics, playing a little bit slower, and I lost my rhythm for a little
bit. But I'm really happy I could win the match in two sets in the end."
Last year's French Open runner-up Halep has won her last 15 matches on tour,
which includes a title at Indian Wells prior to this Miami fortnight.
Williams and Halep were set to have their first meeting in 2015 in the
semifinals of Indian Wells, but Williams was forced to withdraw before the
match due to a right knee injury.
The other semi will pit ninth-seeded German Andrea Petkovic against 12th-
seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
=== Murray, Berdych reach Miami semis ===
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Two-time champion Andy Murray needed three
sets on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the $5.3 million Miami Open, the
second consecutive ATP Masters 1000 event.
The third-seeded British star snuck past talented 21-year-old Austrian Dominic
Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in 1 hour, 44 minutes at Crandon Park.
The Australian Open runner-up Murray, who trains three months out of the year
in Miami, won this even in 2009 and 2013 and was the runner-up in 2012.
Up next for the athletic Scot will be eighth-seeded Czech slugger Tomas
Berdych, the 2010 finalist, who beat Argentina's Juan Monaco 6-3, 6-4 in 92
The other quarterfinal matches will be staged on Thursday between world No. 1
Novak Djokovic and sixth-seeded David Ferrer and fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori
and 22nd-seeded American John Isner.
Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in last year's final to win his fourth Miami title.
Ferrer reached the Miami final two years ago, losing to Murray.
This weekend's champ will earn $900,400.
04/01 22:48:24 ET