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Figure skating

Asada wins world title

Mao Asada of Japan topped the free skate on Saturday in Saitama, Japan, to capture her third world title.

Asada, who held a 1.42-point lead after the short program, under-rotated three jumps but finished with 216.69 points. She was 9.19 points ahead of runner-up Julia Lipnitskaia, a 15-year-old Russian. Italy’s Carolina Kostner, the 2012 world champion, took the bronze medal with 203.83 points despite placing sixth in the free program.

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Asada, who finished sixth at the Sochi Olympics last month in Russia, also won the world championships in 2008 and 2010.

“I was able to control myself, and I have done what I had to do,” said Asada, 23. “I was much more nervous than I was for the short program but the cheering from the fans was with me and made me relax.”

Yuna Kim, the defending champion, has retired, and Olympic gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova of Russia didn’t compete at the worlds.

Kostner fell on the triple toe loop and singled a pair of double jumps.

“I wish I could skate again and do better,” Kostner said. “It was really hard. The jumps did not work how I wished, but this is the sport, right?”

Lipnitskaia’s major mistake was falling on a triple salchow but she completed six other triple jumps.

“It is a shame that I missed the salchow,” she said. “I didn’t do it correctly, therefore I fell. In practice, I struggled with it as well — and for the next season, we need to fix it.”

American Gracie Gold was fifth.

European champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy captured the ice-dance title.


Williams triumphs

The celebration began with a series of happy hops that propelled American Serena Williams across the court. Soon she was twirling, waving, laughing and mugging for the cameras — a familiar ritual.

Williams won a record seventh Key Biscayne, Fla., title when she overcame a slow start and a set point to beat Li Na of China 7-5, 6-1 in the Sony Open final. She surpassed the tournament record of six titles she shared with Andre Agassi.

“I was actually super excited at the end,” Williams said, “because I remember sitting here last year trying to get to six, thinking, ‘OK, obviously I want seven, but I don’t want to put the pressure on myself to get to seven.’ Obviously, I wanted to have the most titles here.”

Williams, ranked No. 1 in the world, was broken twice to fall behind 5-2.

“At that moment, I felt like I had nothing to lose,” she said. “I just was able to relax. Whenever I relax, I enjoy myself.”

The final game of the first set went to deuce six times, but Williams finally won it with a booming backhand the second-ranked Li couldn’t handle. Williams won the last five games of the match.

Both finalists are 32 and Li said, “For sure before the match, they say, “Oh, two old women.’ ”

Williams extended her winning streak against opponents ranked in the top 10 to 15 matches.

The top-ranked men will meet in Sunday’s final, when No. 1 Rafael Nadal of Spain faces No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia.


• U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn, a four-time World Cup overall champion, is taking it slow with her surgically repaired right knee. She said she doesn’t anticipate a return to racing until early December.

Vonn, 29, said she hopes to train on snow by October.

“If I have to push the date back when I start, so be it,” said Vonn, who intends to compete in the 2018 Olympics.

• Notre Dame linebacker Jarrett Grace had surgery Friday to insert a rod into his right leg that was broken in four places in an Oct. 5 victory over Arizona State.

Grace entered that game as Notre Dame’s leading tackler.

Coach Brian Kelly said doctors should have a good idea in about six weeks whether Grace, who will be a senior, will be healthy enough to play this season.

• In college hockey, Union of Schenectady, N.Y., and North Dakota qualified for the NCAA Frozen Four by winning Division I regional finals. The Frozen Four starts April 10 in Philadelphia.

Union beat Providence 3-1 in the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.

Connor Gaarder scored off a rebound 1:28 into the second overtime to give North Dakota a 2-1 victory over Ferris State in the Midwest final in Cincinnati.

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