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No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki follows No. 1 Simona Halep out of U.S. Open

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NEW YORK (AP) — All it took was two rounds at the U.S. Open for the top two seeded women to leave the draw, with No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki following No. 1 Simona Halep on the way out.

For Wozniacki, a two-time finalist at Flushing Meadows and the reigning Australian Open champion, her 6-4, 6-2 loss to 36th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine on Thursday night was a second consecutive second-round Grand Slam exit.

Both Wozniacki and Halep, who was upset on Day 1, were beaten at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. Two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza lost there, too, in the second round, so there’s something of a reputation already for the rebuilt arena.

“Guess Wimbledon used to have a ‘Graveyard Court,’” Wozniacki said, referring to the old Court No. 2 at the All England Club, which was infamous for upsets before it was torn down. “Maybe that is going to be the new ‘Graveyard Court.’ I think it’s a little too early to tell.”

For years, Wozniacki had to endure questions about why she was able to reach No. 1 in the rankings but wasn’t able to claim a major championship. She finally filled that gap on her resume this January in Melbourne, but if a burden was lifted, the Dane hasn’t played like it.

Wozniacki is 5-3 in Grand Slam matches since, following a fourth-round showing at the French Open with second-round departures at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, where she was the runner-up in 2009 and 2014.

She was asked whether having the Australian Open trophy makes these sorts of setbacks more acceptable.

“I don’t think it’s easier,” she replied. “I don’t think it ever gets easier.”

Tsurenko, meanwhile, has never been past the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament.

“I was really brave, I think, today,” she said.

Things didn’t look good for her at the outset, when she shook her right forearm and had a trainer come out to massage it at changeovers. Tsurenko said she hurt it Monday and the pain returned when she served early in Thursday night’s match. From that moment on, Tsurenko decided she would just hit soft serves, instead of flat ones, to try to help her arm.

Essentially, she just wanted to put the ball in play. That worked: Wozniacki wound up her own undoing in many ways, producing 35 unforced errors and only six winners.

“She was playing smarter than me. She played the game that I was supposed to be playing. She got a lot of balls back. She played with the angles. She waited for the short ball. When the short ball came, she played aggressive. She went back and kept the ball in play when she had to,” Wozniacki said. “I should have made better adjustments. I just didn’t.”

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U.S. OPEN: Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)