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Following is a summary of current sports news briefs.
Lifetime ban is "death penalty," says Armstrong
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong says he received the "death penalty" for using performance-enhancing drugs and lying about it for over a decade, but the disgraced cyclist still harbors a strong desire to compete and hopes his lifetime ban will one day be lifted. In contrast to the impassive confessions to doping Armstrong gave in the first part of his interview with U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey on Thursday, Armstrong struggled with his emotions as he discussed the impact his fall had had on his family.
Durant lands 52 points as Thunder down Dallas in overtime 2013-01-19T071026Z_2_BRE90I055_RTROPTC_0_US-NBA-MAVERICKS.XML () -
Del Potro out, Azarenka scare but Serena, Murray progress
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Juan Martin del Potro suffered the first real upset and Victoria Azarenka had a big scare, but Serena Williams and Andy Murray eased through challenging ties to reach the last 16 of the Australian Open on Saturday. After five days at the year's first grand slam without any major shocks, two came along within minutes as Jeremy Chardy downed Argentine sixth seed Del Potro and Andreas Seppi showed 12th seed Marin Cilic the door at Melbourne Park.
Untidy finish no problem for co-leader Castro
LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - Little-known Roberto Castro was delighted to hold a share of the second-round lead at the sun-splashed Humana Challenge on Friday, despite suffering a late wobble with two bogeys in his last three holes. While twice former champion Phil Mickelson made up some ground after an erratic start to the pro-am celebrity event in the California desert, Castro fired a sparkling five-under-par 67 to remain tied at the top.
Critics question Armstrong's interview answers
NEW YORK (Reuters) - While Lance Armstrong's confession that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career was praised in some quarters, critics say his interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey left many important questions unanswered. In the first part of the interview, Armstrong finally admitted to what the sporting world had suspected for years -- that the Texan had cheated his way to a record seven Tour de France titles.
Red Sox sign Ellsbury to $9 million contract 2013-01-19T005013Z_1_BRE90I013_RTROPTC_0_US-BASEBALL-REDSOX-ELL SBURY.XML () -
Sharper putting gives Mickelson reason to smile
LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - With his flu all but gone, Phil Mickelson had much more of a bounce in his step after an improved putting performance helped him shoot a five-under-par 67 in Friday's second round at the Humana Challenge. Mickelson is eager to build momentum on the PGA Tour's West Coast swing as he prepares for the Masters, the opening major of the year, and he was delighted to shake off some pre-season rust on another glorious late winter's day in the California desert.
Murray overcomes practice partner Berankis
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andy Murray, berating himself for playing "nonsense" tennis in the second set, overcame pesky practice partner Ricardas Berankis on Saturday to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open. The third-seeded Briton struggled to break down the stubborn 22-year-old and grew frustrated with himself throughout the match, sporadically breaking into outbursts of anger between games before he ran out a 6-3 6-4 7-5 victor.
Del Potro crashes out of third round at Melbourne Park
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - France's Jeremy Chardy sprung a major upset at the Australian Open on Saturday by dumping sixth seed Juan Martin del Potro out in the third round with a 6-3 6-3 6-7 3-6 6-3 victory. The 36th-ranked Frenchman charged out of the blocks to take a two-set lead by dominating at the net, but the former U.S. Open champion served strongly to level.
Calm Williams cuts out the drama heading into second week
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - American Serena Williams has had more than her share of dramas at this year's Australia Open but the third seed is planning to be all business like in the second week at Melbourne Park. Williams, chasing her third straight singles grand slam title and 16th in all, rallied from 3-0 down in the second set to beat Japan's Ayumi Morita 6-1 6-3 in the third round on Saturday.