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UPI NewsTrack Sports

  |   March 29, 2013 at 5:15 PM
Sharapova, Williams final set for Miami

MIAMI, March 29 (UPI) -- Serena Williams takes a 10-match winning streak against Maria Sharapova into their finals match at the Sony Open in Miami.

Both Williams and Sharapova swept into Saturday's finals with straight-set wins. Williams was particularly sharp in a 6-0, 6-3 rout of world No. 4 and defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska. Williams had 40 winners and 21 unforced errors, leaving Radwanska impressed.

"When Serena's playing like that, it really doesn't matter who's on the other side of the net," Radwanska said after Thursday's match.

Sharapova is ranked No. 2 in the world -- Williams is No. 1 -- and is 18-2 this year. One of the losses was in the semifinals in Doha to Williams. That gave Williams an 11-2 career record versus Sharapova, a mark that includes 10 straight wins. Sharapova hasn't beaten Williams since the WTA Tour Championships in 2004.

Sharapova is on a roll of her own, however, winning the recent tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., and taking her last 11 matches in straight sets. She beat Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-1 in 63 minutes in the Miami semifinals.

It is the third consecutive year and fifth time overall she's gained the finals in Miami but she has yet to win the event.

Williams had won in Miami five times between 2002 and 2008.


Detroit gives Verlander contract extension

LAKELAND, Fla., March 29 (UPI) -- Justin Verlander, winner of 2011's American League Cy Young and Most Value Player awards, has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Detroit Tigers.

The agreement keeps the right-handed pitcher tied to the team through the 2019 season with an option for 2020. ESPN said the contract extension is worth $180 million.

Verlander, 30, was 17-8 with a 2.64 earned run average and 239 strikeouts in 33 starts in 2012. That followed his 24-5 record in 2011 when he had a 2.40 ERA and struck out 250.

In eight seasons -- all with the Tigers -- Verlander is 124-65 with a 3.40 ERA. He's led the American League in wins twice (2009, '11) and strikeouts three times (2009, '11, '12).

"Justin is one of the premier pitchers in baseball and we are thrilled to keep him in a Tigers uniform for many years to come," David Dombrowski, team president, chief executive officer and general manager, said in a statement.

"Justin has been a Tiger for his entire career and he is on pace to be one of the greatest pitchers in this illustrious franchise's history."

Verlander is a five-time all-star selection and was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2006. He pitched no-hitters in 2007, beating the Milwaukee Brewers, and 2011, defeating the Kansas City Royals.


Orioles catcher Gus Triandos dies at 82

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 29 (UPI) -- Gus Triandos, a four-time all-star catcher for the Baltimore Orioles, died at his home in San Jose, Calif., his family said. He was 82.

Triandos, who played in Baltimore from 1955-62 and was a member of the team's Hall of Fame, died in his sleep Thursday after a long bout with congestive heart failure, his daughter, Lori Luna, told The Baltimore Sun.

"It was hard for him to get up," she said. "His heart just gave out."

Triandos, born July 30, 1930, in San Francisco, began his MLB career with the New York Yankees in 1953 and went to the Orioles after the 1954 season in a trade that sent Bob Turley and Don Larsen to the Yankees. He hit 142 home runs, 30 of them in 1958 -- an American League record for a catcher at the time.

Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson, told the Sun Triandos was "one of my favorite guys."

"He was so good-natured and a wonderful teammate," Robinson said. "I had a lot of laughs and learned a lot from Gus."

Triandos caught the team's first no-hitter, a 1-0 win over the Yankees in 1958, with knuckleball specialist Hoyt Wilhelm on the mound. Triandos accounted for the game's only run with a seventh-inning home run.

"Catching Hoyt was such a miserable experience, I just wanted to end the game," he told the Sun in a 2009 interview.


Firms slow in building Olympics warned

SOCHI, Russia, March 29 (UPI) -- Construction firms that miss deadlines in preparation for Russia's 2014 Winter Olympics will be heavily fined, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said Friday.

Kozak's warning to firms behind schedule in building venues for the Olympics in Sochi comes a month after deputy Olympic committee chief Akhmed Bilalov was fired over delays at the RusSki Gorki ski jump complex, which was to begin operations in 2011 but is now not expected to be ready until July, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

"The penalty for not making deadlines in completing Olympic facilities will be 2 million rubles [$65,000]," Kozak said.

With a year to go before the scheduled Feb. 7 opening ceremonies, all competition facilities, except for two hockey venues, have hosted events. The site of the opening and closing ceremonies and much of the infrastructure of the residential area have yet to be completed, the news agency said.

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