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WORLD SPORTS: Winning return for Djokovic, Rosberg seeking home boost

Novak Djokovic of Serbia chases down a shot from Gilles Muller of Luxembourg on day three of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Aviva Centre. Photo by Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Winning return for Djokovic in Toronto

Agence France-Presse

Novak Djokovic made a winning return on Wednesday in his first match back since a shock third-round defeat at Wimbledon, defeating Gilles Muller in straight sets to advance at the Toronto Masters.

The Serbian world number one took the first step toward a possible 30th career Masters 1000 title as he beat Muller 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) in just under two hours.

Djokovic brings a formidable record back to Canada, winning 18 of 21 matches at the event which alternates between Toronto and Montreal each year. The number one has advanced to the quarter-finals or better in eight of nine years in Canada.

Djokovic stands 47-4 on the season, with six titles. He was beaten a year ago in the Canadian final by Andy Murray.

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Rory McIlroy hits his approach shot on the eighteenth hole during a practice round for the 2016 PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol GC – Lower Course. Photo by Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Intense PGA shootout poised to start at Baltusrol

Jim SLATER, Agence France-Presse

World number one Jason Day and US Open champion Dustin Johnson top a host of on-form players in golf’s strongest field since 1986 when the 98th PGA Championship starts Thursday.

The showdown at Baltusrol has the toughest lineup based upon the world golf rankings since they began 30 years ago, with Day defending his first major victory from last year at Whistling Straits, where he set a 72-hole major low score matched by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson to win the British Open two weeks ago, both going lower than Tiger Woods ever did.

Australian Day, trying to match Woods as the only back-to-back PGA winner since the event adopted stroke-play format in 1958, comes in with only one practice round and fighting illness as well as expectations.

Jordan Spieth turned 23 on Wednesday. If he wins the Wanamaker Trophy, he would be the youngest PGA Championship winner since Tom Creavy in 1931 at age 20. Gene Sarazen set the record by almost two months when he won at 20 in 1922.

Second-ranked Johnson, 32, can overtake Day for world number one with a victory or runner-up finish.

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Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Photo by Laszlo Balogh, Reuters

Rosberg seeking home boost at Hockenheim

Agence France-Presse

Nico Rosberg hopes history will repeat itself as he seeks a much-needed win on home soil at the German Grand Prix to put him back on top of the drivers’ world championship.

The 31-year-old German, who won the last race at the Hockenheimring in 2014, fell six points behind his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the championship following the defending champion’s victory at last Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

It was the first time this season that Rosberg had left a race weekend in any position other than that of world championship leader and he is determined to turn the tables on his rival in front of Mercedes’ home crowd.

“It’s simple for me now,” he said. “Lewis has done the best job so far this season –- by six points. That’s it. It’s the only change, but it doesn’t change much for me.”

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Jason Day hits his tee shot on the fifteenth hole during a practice round for the 2016 PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol GC – Lower Course. Photo by Eric Sucar-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Day gets little practice ahead of title defense

Larry Fine, Reuters

Jason Day’s lead-up to his PGA Championship title defense has been far from ideal as a mix of untimely circumstances, including a late-night hospital visit with his wife, kept him from seeing the course until the eve of the year’s final major.

Day, already fatigued after going right from the British Open into his title defense at last week’s Canadian Open, has since caught a bug from his children and was up late on Tuesday in a hospital after his wife had an allergic reaction.

“With the limited practice and limited prep that I’ve had this week, I’m not coming into this week expecting a lot,” the world number one said on Wednesday before heading out for his first look at the Baltusrol layout.

“I mean, obviously I’m expecting to win, but like I’m not really going, ‘all right, you need to go out and force things straightaway.”

Day can now put all his attention on defending a title he captured last year at Whistling Straits that ended years of close calls at the majors for the Australian and sparked a stunning run of form.

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Patriots shoot down possibility of quarterback controversy

Reuters

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick ended a quarterback controversy before one could even begin as he said on Wednesday that Tom Brady will be the team’s starter when he returns from a suspension.

Belichick said the Patriots are focused on getting backup Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the team’s Sept. 11 season opener but that Brady, banned four games as a result of the “Deflategate” scandal, will not lose his starting role.

“We have finally some definition with Tom’s situation, so our priority now then is to get Jimmy ready for the start of the season, for the Arizona game, so that’ll be obviously a comprehensive process,” Belichick told a news conference at Gillette Stadium.

“Tom will return as the starting quarterback when he comes back, but in the meantime we have to prioritize the first part of our schedule and that’ll be to get Jimmy ready to go.”

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Miami Marlins right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (51) is seen prior to a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. Photo by Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Ichiro inches closer to 3,000th hit

Agence France-Presse

Ichiro Suzuki moved within three hits of his 3,000th Major League Baseball hit on Tuesday with a one-for-five performance at the plate in the Miami Marlins’ 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 42-year-old Marlins outfielder had already etched a piece of baseball history in June, when he took his total of professional hits past Pete Rose’s fabled record of 4,256 — more than 1,000 of which came while playing in Japan.

Ichiro, one of a few global sports icons predominantly known by his first name, sparked joy back home in Japan after overtaking Rose’s total — although some in the US, including Rose himself, have downplayed the achievement.

READ: Indians rally for 3 in 9th to stun Nationals 7-6

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Tour mechanical doping tests all negative – UCI

Reuters

The International Cycling Union (UCI) carried out 3,773 tests for mechanical doping during this year’s Tour de France and none proved positive, the UCI said on Wednesday.

Random tests were carried out before, during and after racing during the 21 stages of the three-week event and all were negative.

The tests showed an “absolute commitment to leave no stone unturned,” UCI president Brian Cookson told the ruling body’s website.

The UCI began using a new system to scan for hidden motors in January and more than 10,000 bikes have since been tested.

Only one test proved positive, on Belgian Femke van den Driessche at the 2016 Cyclo-Cross world championships. She was banned for six years and fined 14,000 pounds ($ 18,400).

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Next PGA will not move despite controversial law

Agence France-Presse

The 2017 PGA Championship will go ahead in North Carolina as planned, officials said Wednesday, despite mounting protests over a state law which limits anti-discrimination protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

PGA of America chief executive Pete Bevacqua said there were no plans to move next year’s major from Quail Hollow Country Club because of the controversial House Bill 2 (HB2), which was enacted in March.

The law requires transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates and omits gay and transgender people from discrimination protection.

The legislation has been condemned across the sporting world, with the NBA earlier opting to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina in protest.

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Bencic joins list of Olympic pullouts

Agence France-Presse

Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic on Wednesday became the latest top 20 player to pull out of the Rio Olympics, just 24 hours after superstar compatriot Roger Federer also announced his withdrawal.

The 19-year-old Bencic, who was forced to withdraw from the second round at Wimbledon with a wrist injury, said she needs to concentrate on getting fully fit for the US Open.

“It is with a heavy heart that I have to withdraw from this year’s Olympics,” world number 16 Bencic wrote on Twitter.

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NBC fails in bid to change opening ceremony

Agence France-Presse

Seeking to maximize its prime-time audience for the Olympics, US TV network NBC tried but failed to change the order of the teams in the opening ceremony, Brazilian organizers said Wednesday.

NBC wanted the countries to parade in alphabetical order by their names in English, instead of Portuguese, which would have put the United States near the end of the August 5 ceremony, instead of the beginning.

The United States, which is accustomed to arriving near the finale, is in fact called Estados Unidos in Portuguese, the language spoken in Brazil.

Organizers in host city Rio de Janeiro said they were open to the idea, but could not change the rules set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

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