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Phelps explains comeback

Michael Phelps is making a comeback after nearly two years out of the pool for the simplest of reasons: He missed the sport that has been his entire life.

The 22-time Olympic medalist tried golf and high-stakes poker in a quest to satisfy his competitive drives. He found nothing compared to pulling on a suit and diving in.

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“Looking at a black line for hours on end, I don’t know what made me do it,” he said Wednesday, “but I’m having fun.”

Having shed the 30 pounds he piled on since retiring after the 2012 London Olympics, Phelps will resume his career starting Thursday at the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz. He will swim the 100-meter butterfly, an event in which he holds the world record. He dropped his plans to compete in the 100 freestyle the same day.

“I’m doing this because I want to,” he said. “Nobody is forcing me to do this or that.”


Bradley Wright-Phillips scored twice in the first 24 minutes and added a second-half penalty kick to give the host New York Red Bulls their second straight victory, 4-0 over the Houston Dynamo.

Wright-Phillips, who scored one goal in seven games after joining New York in August, was the first Red Bulls player to record three goals in a match since Thierry Henry in March 2012 against Montreal.

Henry had the other goal for the Red Bulls (2-2-4), who were winless in their first six games but improved to 10 points and within one of the East lead. Houston (2-4-1) is winless in its past five.

Real Madrid triumphs

Karim Benzema scored in the 19th minute to give host Real Madrid a 1-0 victory over defending champion Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal. The second leg is next week.

Barcelona was cleared to sign new players during the offseason after FIFA froze the Spanish club’s one-year transfer embargo pending an appeal.


Ferrer falls; Nadal wins

Second-seeded David Ferrer of Spain was ousted from the Barcelona Open by a Russian opponent for the second straight year and defending champion Rafael Nadal labored to victory. Ferrer was unable to find his rhythm in losing 6-4, 6-2 to Teymuraz Gabashvili in his opening match, while Nadal struggled past fellow Spanish player Albert Ramos 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.

Alisa Kleybanova of Russia defeated third-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) to provide the first major upset at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany. Earlier, Ana Ivanovic of Serbia defeated Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-1, 6-3 to send the Wimbledon finalist out in the first round.

College basketball

Boston U coach resigns

Boston University women’s coach Kelly Greenberg resigned one month after several former players complained that she was so verbally and emotionally abusive that she drove them off the team.

Kentucky’s frontcourt will bring back size and experience next season after freshman center Dakari Johnson and sophomore forward Alex Poythress said they would return.

Also, Louisiana State forward Jordan Mickey has decided to remain with the Tigers at least one more year.

At Clemson, however, forward K.J. McDaniels committed to the NBA draft.

Independent baseball

McGrady signs to pitch

Former NBA star Tracy McGrady signed to pitch for the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League.

The 6-foot-8 right-hander officially reported to spring camp last week and made his first exhibition appearance against Alvin Community College on April 16. In an inning of work, McGrady allowed one run on three hits with no walks and no strikeouts.


• Top-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia beat last year’s runner-up Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 7-5, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix SAR in Marrakech, Morocco.

• Defending champion Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic reached the Nastase Tiriac Trophy quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in Bucharest, Romania.

Alejandro Valverde of Spain timed his climb on the closing Wall of Huy to perfection to win the Walloon Arrow cycling classic in Brussels ahead of Daniel Martin of Ireland and Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland.

• Former world time trial champion Michael Rogers of Australia can race again after cycling’s governing body accepted that meat he ate in China likely caused his positive doping test.

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