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Australia downs U.S. in Davis Cup quarterfinals

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BRISBANE, Australia — Australia advanced to the Davis Cup semifinals after Nick Kyrgios beat late substitute Sam Querrey of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the first reverse singles match on Sunday, clinching the quarterfinal 3-1.

On a hard court at Pat Rafter Arena, Kyrgios and his singles partner Jordan Thompson gave Australia a 2-0 lead on Friday before the American team staved off elimination on Saturday when Jack Sock, who lost to Thompson on Friday, and partner Steve Johnson beat Sam Groth and John Peers 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.

Querrey was supposed to be Johnson’s doubles partner, but American captain Jim Courier, who said it would take “monstrous effort” for the Americans to win the tie, pulled a swap, putting Sock into doubles and allowing Querrey to be fresh for Kyrgios.

That worked for a while during an evenly-played first set, but Kyrgios gradually overpowered the American with his strong serves and backhand. Querrey broke Kyrgios’ serve in the fourth game of the third set, and held to lead 4-1.

But Kyrgios stepped it up a notch and won the last five games of the match, jumping up and hugging Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt and his teammates when the match ended.

The often-volatile Kyrgios was mostly at his best behavior and won both his singles matches in straight sets, although the final two sets against John Isner on Friday were in close tiebreakers, 7-5 each time, after Kyrgios prevailed in the opening set 7-5.

Australia will play either Belgium or Italy in September’s semifinals, with Belgium leading that quarterfinal 2-1 ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles. If Belgium wins, they will host the semifinal, if Italy comes back to claim victory, they will have to travel Down Under.

The U.S. has won the title a leading 32 times, with Australia second with 28. But the U.S hasn’t won the Davis Cup since 2007, and Australia not since 2003.

Rare scenes cause Sydney Cup to stop halfway through the race

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SYDNEY (AP) One of Australia’s biggest horse races – the Sydney Cup – was abandoned at the halfway point on Saturday in dramatic and controversial scenes after two horses threw their riders and one of the horses died on the track.

The 3,200-meter (2-mile) Group 1 event, worth 2 million Australian dollars ($1.5 million), attracted a field of 14 Australian and international gallopers, and shaped as one of the highlights of the autumn racing season at Sydney’s Randwick racecourse.

But trouble occurred soon after the field passed the winning post the first time in the lap-and-a-half race when Almoonqith – a former Europe and Dubai-based stallion raced by the emirate’s deputy ruler Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum – broke down.

Not only was the seven-year-old’s English jockey James Doyle thrown from the saddle, the incident also caused rival horse Who Shotthebarman to unseat its jockey, Blake Shinn.

With Almoonqith lying on the track and Doyle having trouble moving away due to an injured knee, race officials decided to call a “no-race” with 1,600 meters left. But with no warning sirens in operation, it was left to mounted track officials to call out to jockeys that the race had been abandoned.

Only about half of the remaining riders heard the call and pulled up their horses, however, with the other half pushing on in the belief the race was still valid.

English visitor, the Godolphin-owned Polarisation, was first across the line, with his rider Corey Brown celebrating what he believed was a big win for the horse’s connections.

He and the other finishing riders then steered their mounts around Almoonqith, who later had to be euthanized.

Brown was later fuming over the decision to abandon the race, saying jockeys could easily have avoided the stricken horse after the finish of the race.

“One’s broken down and it was a furlong (200 meters) after the winning post. If it was at the 100-meter mark (before the post) I could understand,” said Brown, who also called the lack of a warning siren “farcical.”

Race officials, who were expected to reschedule the event, defended their decision. Chief steward Marc van Gestel said officials had to “err on the side of caution,” as it was not immediately clear whether Almoonqith might still get up and cause havoc with the remaining field.

Meanwhile, five-year-old Australian mare Winx, the world’s highest-rated horse on turf, completed her 17th straight win with a five-length victory in the day’s richest race, the $3 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2,000 meters.

Cal favored over Hawaii as college football season begins in Australia

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The California Golden Bears will begin the post-Jared Goff era as big betting favorites against the Hawaii Warriors at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the opener of the college football season on Friday night down at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The Pac-12’s Golden Bears are listed as 20-point betting favorites against the Mountain West’s  Warriors entering this unique matchup in Australia. California went 8-5 straight-up and 6-7 against the spread last season with Goff before he became the Los Angeles Rams’ No. 1 overall choice.

California is not completely barren at quarterback. Davis Webb is a graduate transfer who was a two-year starter at Texas Tech, whose four-receiver passing attack is the template for the system Bears coach Sonny Dykes teaches.

California is 7-2 SU in their last nine season openers. Since 2011, they are 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS when favored by at least 17 points, but that includes a 3-0 ATS mark when the spread is 20 or more. The Golden Bears are 7-3 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games against Mountain West opponents according to the OddsShark College Football Database.

Cal’s rushing attack is diverse with the rotation of Khalfani Muhummad, Vic Enwere and Tre Watson. The Golden Bears have lost their top six receivers (by yardage), but freshman wide receiver Demetris Robertson is a five-star recruit who is expected to make an impact quickly. Defensive tackle James Looney is an imposing run-stopper.

The Warriors, due in part to a financially strapped athletic department, are long removed from the heady days of 2007 when they had an unbeaten regular season and played in the Sugar Bowl. Hawaii was 3-10 both SU and ATS in 2015.

The Warriors do boast 1,100-yard rusher Paul Harris and a senior QB, Ikaika Woolsey. Exactly how rookie head coach Nick Rolovich and a new Hawaii coaching staff deploy them remains to be seen, but Hawaii has enough experience (eight returning starters) to be competitive. The Warriors’ defense ranked 104th of the 127 FBS teams last season.

Hawaii is 2-7 SU and 7-2 ATS in its last nine matchups against Pac-12 teams. Six of those nine games went under the total. Hawaii, which boasts Sydney native DE Max Hendrie on its roster, is also 6-4 ATS in its last 10 games as an underdog of 17 or more points.

The total is set at 63 points for Friday’s Cal vs. Hawaii matchup. The total has gone under in 13 of Hawaii’s last 18 games with a closing total of 63.0 or more. The total has gone under in seven of California’s last 10 games.