Sharapova defeats Errani to advance
• Four-time runner-up Maria Sharapova returned to the Sony Open semifinals Wednesday in Key Biscayne, Fla., despite a patchy performance, beating Sara Errani 7-5, 7-5. Sharapova had 57 unforced errors, including 13 double-faults, and overcame three set points in the second set. The two sets took 2½ hours, and a flurry of mistakes by both players left spectators groaning. Sharapova had the last laugh, whacking a forehand winner past Errani on match point. “She really made me work for this match,” Sharapova said. Seeded No. 3, she’ll play today against No. 22 Jelena Jankovic, who beat No. 15 Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3. The men’s quarterfinals featured eight Europeans for the first time, and in the opening match, No. 3 David Ferrer of Spain rallied past unseeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
• Rio de Janeiro will host a combined ATP and WTA event that will be the biggest tennis tournament in South America. Organizers announced the Rio Open on Wednesday. It will be played from Feb. 15-23. The event will be held at the Jockey Club, which features eight clay courts and a 7,000-seat center court. The Rio Open will replace the combined ATP-WTA event in Memphis, Tenn. The men’s prize money will be $1.2 million and the women’s $235,000.
Korpi wins halfpipe for his 10th victory
• Janne Korpi of Finland won the men’s halfpipe at the Snowboard World Cup in Sierra Nevada, Spain, for his 10th career victory. Korpi won with a score of 91 points, 7.25 more than Ayumu Nedefuji and 8.50 in front of Shuhei Sato, who are both from Japan. In the women’s event, Sophie Rodriguez of France won ahead of Jiayu Liu of China and Ursina Haller of Switzerland.
• German police say they have identified a man suspected of sending a death threat to World Cup skiing overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia. The threat came in an anonymous email sent to organizers of the World Cup in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on March 2. Maze was placed under police protection, then placed fourth in a super-G the next day. Police say they have identified a man, 35, they think sent the threat, but did not give his name. There is no indication the man intended to follow through on his threat but authorities have opened a criminal probe.
Four to be honored as hall of famers
• Four international gymnasts are scheduled to be honored by the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. The hall announced that Albert Azaryan of Armenia; Lyubov Burda of Russia; Gina Gogean of Romania; and Yuri Korolev of Russia will be honored during the 17th annual International Gymnastics Hall of Fame ceremony May 18 in Oklahoma City.
• USA Gymnastics will hold its 2014 national championships in Pittsburgh. It’s the first major gymnastics competition to be held in the city. The 2014 championships will run from Aug. 21-24 at Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The meet comes ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Pittsburgh hosted a gymnastics exhibition last fall as part of the post-Olympic tour headlined by members of the gold-medal winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team.
Retired WCB boxer in critical condition
• Former Puerto Rican world champion boxer Wilfredo Gomez is in critical condition in a San Juan hospital following respiratory failure, a family spokesman said. Erick Rodriguez told the Associated Press that the 56-year-old Gomez, widely considered to be the best Puerto Rican fighter in history, is struggling to recover from a lung infection. Gomez was a three-time world champion with the WBA and WBC at super bantamweight, featherweight and junior lightweight. He retired for good in 1989 with a 44-3-1 record and 42 knockouts.
• The famed marching band of Florida A&M University may miss another year on the football field, continuing its indefinite suspension after a drum major died in a hazing ritual. FAMU interim president Larry Robinson said there is still no timeline on when the Marching 100 will return. The band has been suspended since November 2011, soon after Robert Champion died.
• Kris Letang’s comeback didn’t last long. The Pittsburgh Penguins have placed their star defenseman back on injured reserve with a lower body injury and recalled rookie Simon Despres from the AHL. Letang returned from the IR on Tuesday night after missing three games due to the injury. He appeared in some discomfort following his first shift but played more than 24 minutes in a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
• Former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich says he played a role in “what happened in cycling” but did not offer a clear confession about doping. Ullrich wrote in his blog on Eurosport that “everyone can make his own opinion about what happened in cycling and I also contributed my role in that.” He says he wouldn’t make any public confessions like Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour titles. The German won the Tour in 1997 and finished runner-up five times, three behind Armstrong.
— From wire reports