Following is a summary of current sports news briefs.
Smoke threat recedes as Australian Open approaches
Fears of more disruption to the Australian Open from bushfire smoke receded on Saturday as hundreds of children flooded the Melbourne Park precinct under sunny skies on Kid's Day at the year's first Grand Slam. Victoria's Environmental Protection Authority rated the air quality in central Melbourne as "good" and the final round of qualifying for the multi-million dollar tournament got underway on schedule.
NBA's investment in Africa to produce more stars: Biyombo
The National Basketball Association's investment in Africa will result in more star players from the continent shining in the NBA, Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo said. The Congolese player will feature in the first NBA game in France as the Hornets face the Milwaukee Bucks in Paris next Friday.
Tennis: Medvedev happy with the hype at Melbourne Park
Having suffered burn-out at the end of a brilliant 2019, Daniil Medvedev is feeling rejuvenated and worthy of the hype he is generating as one of the top contenders outside the 'Big Three' at the Australian Open. American great John McEnroe has tipped the U.S. Open finalist as the man most likely to break the Grand Slam stranglehold of Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer at Melbourne Park after a season featuring four titles and a Tour-leading 59 match wins.
Bulluck reliving fairytale run as Titans make Super Bowl bid
If anyone has an idea of what is going on right now inside the Tennessee Titans dressing room as they prepare for Sunday's showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs for a spot in the Super Bowl it would be Keith Bulluck. It has been over a decade since the three-time All-Pro linebacker suited up for the Titans but Bulluck clearly recalls what it was like in 2002 when Tennessee, after a horrific 1-4 start, made an unlikely run to the AFC championship game before losing to the Oakland Raiders.
Golf: Scheffler, Fowler shoot matching 64s for La Quinta lead
Scottie Scheffler shot an eight-under-par 64, despite chalking up a double bogey at his ninth hole, to tie Rickie Fowler for the second-round lead of The American Express in La Quinta, California, on Friday. Scheffler narrowly missed an eagle at his last hole, the ninth, to match Fowler's score as they completed the Nicklaus Tournament Course at 15-under 129.
Lloyd, Rapinoe anchor U.S. Olympic qualifying roster
The U.S. women's soccer team unveiled a 20-strong roster headlined by Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe for the Olympic qualifying tournament on Friday, as the four-time World Cup winners aim to reach their seventh consecutive Games. Team co-captain Lloyd will feature in her fourth consecutive Olympic qualifying event later this month alongside national team mainstays Rapinoe, winner of the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at last year's World Cup, Tobin Heath and Becky Sauerbrunn.
Rybakina downs Zhang in Hobart to win second WTA title
Rising Kazakh talent Elena Rybakina overcame a gulf in experience to beat China's Zhang Shuai 7-6(7) 6-3 in the Hobart International final on Saturday and claim her second WTA title. Rybakina was playing her second final in a week after losing the title-decider at the Shenzhen Open but the 20-year-old made no mistake this time around, adding the Hobart crown to the Bucharest Open title she won last July.
More seasoned, less fearless, Osaka set for Australian Open defense
Naomi Osaka has learned to appreciate her victories more after enduring the "toughest" year of her fledging career and the Japanese world number three says mentally she is in a better place to launch her Australian Open title defense. Osaka started 2019 by winning her second straight Grand Slam title in Melbourne following her success at the 2018 U.S. Open but suffered early exits at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Chicharito signs with Galaxy to become highest-paid MLS star: report
Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy have signed Mexican goal machine Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez from Spanish side Sevilla, the Los Angeles Times reported https://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/story/2020-01-17/chicharito-hernandez-signs-with-galaxy-to-become-highest-paid-player-in-mls on Friday. The article, which cited a person with knowledge of the negotiations, did not disclose terms of the deal for Hernandez but said the Galaxy will make Mexico's all-time leading scorer the highest-paid player in MLS.
Ex-White Sox RHP McDowell: La Russa had sign-stealing system
Former Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell added more nasty history to the sign-stealing scandal on Friday by going back to the 1980s and implicating former Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who is now a member of the Hall of Fame. McDowell, who debuted as a major league pitcher for the White Sox in 1987 but never played for La Russa, said the manager was responsible for installing a camera-aided sign-stealing system at old Comiskey Park.