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WAMC Sports Report 9/5/23: Sabalenka to be No. 1 in WTA rankings, could be new U.S. Open champ

Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, shouts during her match against Daria Kasatkina, of Russia, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
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Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, shouts during her match against Daria Kasatkina, of Russia, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

US OPEN

Aryna Sabalenka is going to be the No. 1 player in the WTA rankings next week, replacing Iga Swiatek there. That much is certain. The way Sabalenka is playing at the moment, she might very well supplant Swiatek as the U.S. Open champion, too. In Sabalenka’s first match since being assured of rising to the top of women’s tennis, she showed off the power-based game that allows her to dominate so many opponents, overwhelming No. 13 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-3 on last night in Arthur Ashe Stadium to advance to her fifth consecutive major quarterfinal.

There are three American men in the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2005. Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Ben Shelton are the trio this time and all will be in action today. Fritz goes up against 23-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic for a spot in the semifinals, while Tiafoe and Shelton play each other. Djokovic says he understands why American tennis fans aren't happy that they haven't had a male Grand Slam singles champion since Andy Roddick 20 years ago. He knows they got used to having champion after champion in earlier days.

A fan was ejected from a U.S. Open tennis match early Tuesday morning after German player Alexander Zverev complained the man used language from Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. Zverev, the No. 12 seed, was in the fourth set of his match against No. 6 Jannik Sinner when he suddenly went to chair umpire James Keothavong and pointed toward the fan, who was sitting in a section behind the umpire. During a changeover shortly after, the fan was identified by spectators seated near him, and he was removed by security. Zverev went on to beat Sinner in five sets and will play defending U.S. Open champion Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals.

MLB

Triston Casas homered and drove in four runs, Brayan Bello earned his team-leading 11th win and the Boston Red Sox stopped a 13-game Tropicana Field losing streak by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3. Boston’s slide at the dome began on April 23, 2022. Wilyer Abreu had a leadoff double before Justin Turner drew a one-out walk in the sixth inning, ending Aaron Civale’s day. Chris Devenski entered and gave up Casas’ three-run shot that put the Red Sox ahead 4-3. Casas added a run-scoring single and Masataka Yoshida connected on a two-run homer off Andrew Kittredge in the eighth. Casas has three homers and 11 RBIs during a career-best 11-game hitting streak. Bello went six innings and gave up three runs, all in the first.

Kyle Schwarber hit another long home run at Petco Park and Trea Turner and Edmundo Sosa also connected for the Philadelphia Phillies, who beat the Padres 9-7 in their first visit to San Diego since the NL Championship Series. Schwarber connected for his 40th of the season leading off the fifth inning against rookie Matt Waldron, watching the ball for just a moment to make sure it stayed fair before beginning his trot as the drive sailed several rows deep for a 9-4 lead. Schwarber raised his right arm as his teammates celebrated in the dugout.

The Yankees and Mets off were last night. The Yankees will play a three-game set against the Tigers in the Bronx starting at 7:05 tonight. The Mets play the first of two against the Nationals at 7:05 tonight in DC.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías was arrested near BMO Stadium, where Lionel Messi was playing in a Major League Soccer game with numerous celebrities in attendance. Exposition Park public safety said its officers arrested Urías at about 11 p.m. on Sunday inside the park, which is home to the stadium. The department would not immediately disclose what charges Urías was arrested on, but said it would release more details Monday. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department booking records show Urías posted $50,000 bail and was released shortly before 5 a.m. on Monday. He is due in court Sept. 27. Major League Baseball intends to investigate.

Shohei Ohtani’s agent says the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way superstar is determined to continue his career as both a pitcher and a hitter after he recovers from his latest elbow injury. Nez Balelo said Monday that he thinks it’s “inevitable” that Ohtani will need some sort of procedure to heal the ligament tear in his pitching elbow, but they’re still gathering opinions on whether that procedure should be Tommy John surgery or a nonsurgical remedy. Balelo said Ohtani will continue playing as the Angels’ designated hitter for the foreseeable future this season. Balelo said Ohtani also intends “to be in somebody’s lineup next year DHing when the bell rings.”

FIBA BASKETBALL WORLD CUP

The quarterfinals of the FIBA Basketball World Cup are underway. Italy will play the U.S. beginning at 8:40 this morning.

NFL

D.J. Reed has set an extremely high bar for the New York Jets’ defense. And the veteran cornerback believes the talented group will leave its mark. On the field. And in the history books. The confident cornerback said during a video call Monday the Jets’ defense has the potential to be “historical” and match such groups as the 1985 Chicago Bears and 2013 Seattle Seahawks' “Legion of Boom” secondary. Defensive end John Franklin-Myers agrees with Reed's assessment and says the Jets shouldn't be afraid to state their goals. But they both add that it's on the team to go out and prove it.

SPORTS BETTING

When the NFL season kicks off, Kentucky residents will be able to legally bet on games for the first time. When they do, they also will be funding the state's first-ever program for people with gambling problems. Nearly three-fourths of the states have moved swiftly to allow sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for it five years ago. Legal sports betting operators took in $220 billion during the past five years, generating $3 billion in state and local taxes. By contrast, states spent an average of 38 cents per capita on problem gambling services in the 2022 fiscal year, ranging from nothing in nine states to $10.6 million in Massachusetts, according the Portland, Oregon-based consulting firm Problem Gambling Solutions Inc. That money, which came from all forms of gambling, went toward services such as telephone helplines, counseling and public awareness campaigns.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Police say former Georgia and NFL linebacker Jarvis Jones was arrested for speeding and reckless driving ahead of the Bulldogs’ season opener. Jones now works as a player coordinator for the football program. His arrest late Friday is the latest driving investigation to tarnish the two-time reigning national champions. They have struggled to deal with the issue since a high-speed crash killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy on Jan. 15. Georgia coach Kirby Smart declined comments other than to say Jones will face “internal discipline.”

Riley Leonard broke loose from a tackler and sprinted to the open for a 44-yard touchdown that highlighted Duke’s tough and physical performance that shocked ninth-ranked Clemson 28-7 in the season opener for both teams. Jaquez Moore and Jordan Waters ran for fourth-quarter touchdowns to turn this into an unexpected blowout of the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite. It was Duke's first win against Clemson since 2004 and ended a 28-game losing streak against top-10 opponents. Cade Klubnik threw for a short touchdown to Will Shipley in what became Clemson's only score.

No. 11 Texas and No. 4 Alabama are set to meet again a year after going down to the wire. The two tradition-rich programs and future Southeastern Conference opponents are set to face off in a potential Top-10 showdown in Tuscaloosa. Alabama won 20-19 last year on a field goal in the final seconds. The close loss was still enough to vault the Longhorns into the Top 25. It gave Steve Sarkisian and Texas a measure of credibility while exposing the Tide's vulnerability. Alabama had 15 penalties in the game.

Nebraska's Matt Rhule says it's not for him to say how other coaches should go about building their football programs. He is taking a slow and deliberate tact and hopes to rely on the development of high school recruits to create a strong foundation and staying power. Colorado's Deion Sanders has almost totally flipped his roster. His team of transfers is the story of college football this week after it beat TCU on the road. Nebraska and Colorado renew their rivalry from their days in the Big Eight and Big 12 when they meet Saturday in Boulder.

© 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.