Following is a summary of current sports news briefs.
Smoke threat recedes as Australian Open approaches
Fears of disruption to the Australian Open from bushfire smoke receded on Saturday but some players were clearly concerned about the conditions their colleagues were forced to play in earlier in the week. Victoria's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) rated the air quality in central Melbourne as "good" on Saturday morning and "moderate" in the afternoon, and the final round of qualifying was completed on schedule.
Nadal surprised to still be on top of the game
Australian Open top seed Rafa Nadal entered his third decade as a professional ranked No. 1 in the world and the 33-year-old Spaniard says he is surprised to be at the summit of the men's game given his long and varied history of injuries. Enjoying a rare period of full fitness, Nadal is bidding for his second title in his 15th appearance at Melbourne Park, as well as the added carrot of matching Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 Grand Slam titles.
NBA roundup: Doncic, Mavs shoot past Blazers
Luka Doncic made a career-best eight 3-pointers and recorded 35 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 120-112 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. Tim Hardaway Jr. made five 3-pointers while scoring 29 points, and Seth Curry tallied 16 points off the bench as the Mavericks won their fourth straight game. Jalen Brunson added 13 points and Maxi Kleber scored 10 for Dallas.
NHL roundup: Crosby's OT goal lifts Penguins
Sidney Crosby scored on a tip-in during an overtime power play, and the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Tuesday. Crosby redirected an Evgeni Malkin shot for his third goal in as many games. Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, and Matt Murray made 28 saves. Malkin was credited with a team-high six shots and assisted on both goals.
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.
Undercooked Federer hopes for fast start at Melbourne Park
Roger Federer is bidding for a third title in four years at Melbourne Park and a record-extending 21st Grand Slam trophy but having not played competitive tennis since November the Swiss is keeping a lid on expectations. Unlike his main rivals, Federer, who won his last Grand Slam in 2018 at Melbourne Park, opted out of the inaugural ATP Cup to spend more time with his family before launching his 22nd season on Tour.
Kvitova, Halep driven by Australian Open heartbreak
Petra Kvitova took a while to come to terms with her heartbreaking defeat in last year's Australian Open final but the Czech says she can now look back on the experience as one of the top achievements of her career. Kvitova was down a set and a break to Naomi Osaka and facing three match points when she fought back to level the final and force a decider before the two-time Wimbledon champion eventually fell 7-6(2) 5-7 6-4.
Tsitsipas ready to live the dream again in Melbourne
With Melbourne's large Greek community certain to come out and support him in large numbers, the Australian Open is the closest Stefanos Tsitsipas will come to a home Grand Slam and the young gun is determined to put on a show for his fans. Tsitsipas is rated by many as the most likely to break the three-year grip Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have held on the Grand Slam titles and the 21-year-old Greek said he wants to play his best tennis on the big stage.
Top 25 roundup: Michigan State's Winston sets Big Ten assist mark
Senior Cassius Winston handed out four assists on Friday night, leading No. 15 Michigan State to a 67-55 victory over visiting Wisconsin and becoming the Big Ten's all-time leader in career assists with 817. It was, otherwise, a tough night for Winston, who scored six points on 3-for-12 shooting in East Lansing, Mich. But Winston had plenty of help, particularly from junior Xavier Tillman, who scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four assists for the Spartans (14-4, 6-1 Big Ten).
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.