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Serena Williams into U.S. Open quarterfinals for 10th straight time

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NEW YORK — Serena Williams reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals in her 10th straight appearance, topping Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 on Sunday.

Williams finished the first set in just 18 minutes and nearly rallied from two breaks down in the second.

“It wasn’t an easy match at all,” she said. “I was just happy to get through it, to be honest.”

Williams next gets former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, the last woman to beat her at the U.S. Open, in the semifinals in 2016.

“I know she has a big game, but I have a big game, too,” Pliskova said after her 6-4, 6-4 win over Australian Ash Barty on Sunday. “There is always a chance for me.”

Williams could then face defending U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in the semifinals.

The 36-year-old is trying to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles with her seventh U.S. Open crown. She dropped her first set of the tournament Sunday, two days after routing sister Venus 6-1, 6-2 in the third round.

Williams played Sunday one day after daughter Olympia‘s first birthday. She missed the 2017 U.S. Open due to that pregnancy, which was followed by complications and multiple surgeries.

“I want [Olympia] to sleep in the bed with me every night,” Williams said. “I heard that’s an awful thing to do. We’re already best friends.”

Williams returned to tournament play in February. She returned to Grand Slam tennis at the French Open in May, withdrawing before a fourth-round match with Maria Sharapova due to a pectoral muscle injury.

Then in July, Williams was runner-up at Wimbledon to German Angelique Kerber.

She is ranked No. 26 after missing tournaments for maternity leave. She was bumped up to the No. 17 seed at the U.S. Open.

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

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned four 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)