Ravens C Matt Birk retires after 15 seasons in NFL
BALTIMORE — Matt Birk’s final game was a Super Bowl victory.
The veteran center of the Baltimore Ravens retired Friday after 15 pro seasons.
“To cap it with a Super Bowl win, that’s a great thing,” the 36-year-old Birk said. “But, regardless of that, had that not happened, it would have still been a fantastic experience and one that I would have been very thankful and grateful for.”
Birk, the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2011 for his community service, announced his retirement at Battle Grove Elementary School. A father of six, Birk established the “Ready, Set, Read!” program, an initiative developed by his H.I.K.E. Foundation (Hope, Inspiration, Knowledge and Education) that motivates students to read at home.
Rivera throws BP for first time since knee injury
TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees closer Mariano Rivera did more than throw on Friday. He also called balls and strikes.
The 43-year old Rivera threw 25 pitches in his first batting practice session since knee surgery last year and said he was happy with the results.
Top marathons apply financial penalties for doping
LONDON — Anti-doping penalties will include financial punishments for elite runners competing in the world’s leading marathons.
Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York, who are the six members of the World Marathon Majors series, can now suspend payment and demand repayment of prize money, appearance fees and performance bonuses from athletes found guilty of doping offenses.
Judge rejects case challenging Seattle arena deal
SEATTLE — A Washington state judge rejected a lawsuit Friday aimed at undoing a deal to build a new professional basketball and hockey arena in Seattle — a key part of plans to bring the NBA back to town.
King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North held that the agreement between the city of Seattle, King County and an investment group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen does not violate state environmental law.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is concerned that adding a third stadium to the area south of downtown would choke freight traffic and cost jobs. The union sued, saying an environmental review should have preceded any agreement.
The judge disagreed, saying the agreement technically set out a framework for a future deal, but didn’t commit the city or King County to building an arena south of downtown.
“There isn’t a binding decision here,” the judge said.
Nishikori upsets top-seeded Cilic to reach semis
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Top-seed Marin Cilic lost in straight sets to Kei Nishikori of Japan in the quarterfinals Friday of the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships.
Nishikori’s 6-2, 6-2 victory denied Cilic an opportunity to win back-to-back ATP World Tour titles. Cilic claimed his ninth career title two weeks ago in Zagreb, Croatia, and had won nine of 11 matches this year.
Cilic’s loss left the tournament without any of its top four seeds in the semifinals. Second-seed Milos Raonic, third-seed John Isner and fourth-seed Sam Querrey were eliminated by the second round.
In women’s play, Marina Erakovic of New Zealand defeated Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland, 6-2, 6-4 to return to the finals of the U.S. National Indoor Championships.
Erakovic, the world’s 71st ranked player, will play German Sabine Lisicki today for the championship. Lisicki, ranked 40th, beat No. 7 seed Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, 7-5, 7-5.
Tsonga, Tursunov make Open 13 semifinals in France
MARSEILLE, France — Gilles Simon upset defending champion Juan Martin del Potro of Agentina 6-4, 6-3 Friday to set up an Open 13 semifinal against countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who saved five match points in a three-set victory against Australia’s Bernard Tomic.
Top-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic also reached the last four after beating seventh-seeded Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-3, 6-7 (0), 6-3. Berdych did not face a single break point and took Janowicz’s serve twice.
The third-seeded Tsonga hit 19 aces against Tomic and won 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10) to reach the semifinals of the tournament for the third time. He won it in 2009.
Dmitry Tursunov of Russia also advanced by beating Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 7-6 (7), 1-6, 7-5 in his quarterfinal.
Kvitova sets up Dubai final against Errani
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-4 Friday to reach the final of the Dubai Championships.
She’ll play Sara Errani of Italy, who defeated her doubles partner Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-3.
Kvitova broke Wozniacki twice in both sets, including in the Dane’s last service game in the second.
Wozniacki converted just one of her five break points and won only 54 percent of points on her first serve compared to 70 percent for Kvitova.
Defending champ Ferrer reaches semis in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Defending champion David Ferrer advanced to the semifinals of the Copa Claro clay court tournament on Friday with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Fabio Fognini of Italy.
The top-seeded Ferrer will face fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo, who beat Julian Reister of Germany 6-3, 6-2.
Ferrer holds a 5-2 edge in head-to-head matches, including the past two.
No. 2 Nicolas Almagro of Spain became the third Spaniard to reach the semifinals, defeating Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-1, 7-6 (3).
The possibility of four Spaniards in the semifinals ended when No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland defeated Albert Ramos of Spain 7-6 (4), 6-4 to set up a match with Almagro.
By wire sources