NEW YORK -- If there's a player out there who could possibly test No. 1-seeded Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final, it's her opponent Sunday, No. 2 Victoria Azarenka.
Williams has lost only four of 70 matches this season, and two of those defeats came against Azarenka, including just last month at a hard-court tuneup.
There's one significant switch in circumstances: Those were at smaller tournaments. This time, there's a major championship on the line, and Williams is at her best when the stakes are the biggest.
"Different energy, different opportunities. This is for a Grand Slam," Williams said. "I mean, she's trying to win yet another one; I'm trying to win one myself. It's just different."
Williams will be playing in her third consecutive U.S. Open final, seventh overall, and the 21st major title match of her career. She is 16-4, two Grand Slam titles away from two of the greats of the game: Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who each won 18. The only women with more are Margaret Court with 24, Steffi Graf with 22, and Helen Wills Moody with 19.
In the mens' match, top-seeded Novak Djokovic withstood a 4-hour, 9-minute onslaught of Stanislas Wawrinka's massive groundstrokes to pull out a 2-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory and advance to his fourth straight final at the U.S. Open. Djokovic will go for his second U.S. Open title Monday against No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who had a much easier time in a 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-2 victory over eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet.
Indians fan returns: Niko Lanzarotta is becoming a fixture at Progressive Field. And that's just fine with the Cleveland Indians. The 8-year-old Indians fan with cerebral palsy had a special wish granted last month at the ballpark and returned to see his favorite team play the New York Mets on Saturday.
Before the July 24 game against Minnesota, he asked Indians catcher Carlos Santana and second baseman Jason Kipnis if they would hit a home run for him. In a script straight out of a movie, both came through. Before Saturday's game, Niko received the home run balls from the fans who caught them that night. The Indians are undefeated when Niko attends a game.
Jeter injured again: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has had more tests on his surgically repaired left ankle and it's not certain when he will return to the lineup.
Jeter was pulled for a pinch-runner after hitting an RBI single in the sixth inning of a 13-9 loss to Boston on Saturday. Jeter went to a hospital for a precautionary CT scan. The team said the preliminary results of the scan were negative.
Jays' Cabrera has tumor removed: Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera had a benign tumor removed from his spine and is expected to be ready for spring training. Cabrera had the surgery on Aug. 30. The tumor was pushing on nerves and causing weakness in his legs and causing the issues that plagued Cabrera throughout the season.
Reds unveil Morgan sculpture: Pete Rose and the rest of the starting lineup of the Cincinnati Reds' back-to-back World Series champions in 1975 and 1976 were together again at Great American Ball Park for the unveiling of a bronze sculpture of Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan.
U.S. loses qualifier, players: The United States didn't just lose a World Cup qualifier at Costa Rica. The Americans likely will be missing four players for Tuesday night's match against Mexico in Columbus.
Johnny Acosta and Celso Borges scored as Costa Rica burst ahead in the first nine minutes, Joel Campbell added a goal on a late counterattack and the Ticos beat the visiting United States 3-1 Friday night at San Jose.
Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler will miss the match after getting their second yellow cards in qualifying, which triggers an automatic one-game suspension. Midfielder Michael Bradley also figures to miss the Mexico match after spraining his left ankle during warmups and was on crutches at the bench during the game. He was replaced by Cameron.
Kiwis beat Team USA: Emirates Team New Zealand has won the opening race of the America's Cup, regaining the lead from defending champion Oracle Team USA on the upwind third leg and speeding away to the finish line. The Kiwis need eight more wins to claim the oldest trophy in international sports for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
Oracle Team USA, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, must win 11 races to retain the Cup. It was docked two points in the biggest cheating scandal in the 162-year history of the America's Cup.
Tokyo awarded Olympics: Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics on Saturday, capitalizing on its reputation as a "safe pair of hands" and defying concerns about the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of secret voting by the International Olympic Committee. Madrid was eliminated earlier after an initial tie with Istanbul. Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, billed itself as the reliable choice at a time of global political and economic uncertainty -- a message that resonated with the IOC.
Mitchell lauds progress: The independent monitor who's tracking Penn State's adoption of reforms in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal says in an annual progress report that the university is making notable progress. Former Sen. George Mitchell is serving as Penn State's athletics integrity monitor. He issued his first-year wrap-up Friday.
Mitchell says Penn State has implemented most of the 119 recommendations laid out in former FBI director Louis Freeh's report last summer. The NCAA required Penn State to adopt the recommendations as part of its consent decree with the university.