TEAM USA PLAY­ING FOR BRONZE AF­TER LOS­ING TO RUS­SIA

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

helsinki» Ye­gor Kor­shkov’s goal and as­sist Mon­day helped Rus­sia ad­vance to the gold medal game of the world ju­nior cham­pi­onship for ice hockey with a 2-1 vic­tory over the United States.

Rus­sia will meet tour­na­ment host Fin­land in the ti­tle game Tues­day. The Finns ad­vanced by beat­ing Swe­den 2-1 in the semi­fi­nals.

Pavel Kraskovski also scored for Rus­sia against Team USA, and Ilya Sam­sonov con­trib­uted 26 saves.

Chris­tian Dvo­rak scored for the Amer­i­cans, who will play Swe­den for the bronze medal Tues­day. Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 31 shots against Rus­sia.

“It’s a tough pill to swal­low,” said U.S. star Aus­ton Matthews, whose team is loaded with NHL-drafted tal­ent.

“We’ve got to re­cover,” Dvo­rak said. “We’ve got a chance to win a bronze medal, so we’ve got to give it all we’ve got.”

Djokovic dom­i­nant in opener

B doha, qatar» No­vak Djokovic opened his 2016 sea­son with a 6-2, 6-2 sweep of Ger­man qual­i­fier Dustin Brown in the first round of the Qatar Open.

The top-ranked Serb had an ex­haust­ing 2015 sea­son in which he won three ma­jor ti­tles and reached the fi­nal in the other. The Qatar Open was the only tour­na­ment of 16 played in 2015 in which Djokovic failed to reach the fi­nal, in­stead los­ing in the quar­ter­fi­nals. Last year, Djokovic won a ca­reer-best 11 ti­tles and fin­ished with an 82-6 record.

“Ob­vi­ously you never know how you’re go­ing to start from the blocks,” Djokovic said. “I think I used the off­sea­son very well to train to get my body in the right shape, and I think it was a very good start.”

Daniel Muñoz De La Nava of Spain posted the first up­set of the tour­na­ment, de­feat­ing fifth-seeded coun­try­man Feli­ciano Lopez 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5.

• Af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son last year, Rafael Nadal’s goal for 2016 is sim­ple. “The most im­por­tant thing is play bet­ter,” the Span­ish star said.

Nadal man­aged to re­cap­ture some con­fi­dence to­ward the end of the year, post­ing a 17-5 record af­ter the U.S. Open. That en­abled him to fin­ish the year ranked No. 5 in the world.

But the win­ner of 14 Grand Slam cham­pi­onships is fed up with be­ing asked about his sub­par 2015, which de­liv­ered only three mi­nor ti­tles. It was the first time in a decade that he failed to win a Grand Slam ti­tle. His best re­sults in ma­jors last year were quar­ter­fi­nal fin­ishes at the Aus­tralian Open and French Open.

“Se­ri­ously, I’m a lit­tle bit tired of talk­ing ev­ery day about 2015,” Nadal said. “We are in 2016 al­ready, no? We talked enough about 2015.”

Nadal is seeded No. 2 at the Qatar Open, where he was the cham­pion in 2014. He opens his 2016 sea­son Tues­day with a match against fel­low Spa­niard Pablo Car­reno Busta.

“I feel my­self ready for the next sea­son,” Nadal said. “The expectations are the nor­mal ones, pos­i­tive ones, be­cause I feel that I fin­ished the past sea­son play­ing well and I feel that I am play­ing well again.”

Mile­stone vic­tory for jockey

B lud­low, eng­land» Richard John­son, 38, posted the 3,000th vic­tory of his ca­reer on his march to­ward his first Bri­tish cham­pion jockey ti­tle.

John­son’s ca­reer tally is made up of 2,977 jump wins in Great Bri­tain, 17 in Ire­land, four wins on the flat and two in­ter­na­tional vic­to­ries.

Foot­notes.

Colorado State guard Jamie Pa­trick was named Moun­tain West women’s bas­ket­ball player of the week. The 5-foot-10 se­nior from Hutchin­son, Kan., scored a sea­son­high 27 points Satur­day against Boise State, pro­pel­ling the Rams to a 68-64 vic­tory at Moby Arena in their con­fer­ence opener. ... The Univer­sity of Den­ver men’s lacrosse team starts prac­tice Tues­day in prepa­ra­tion for Sun­day’s ex­hi­bi­tion game against the U.S. na­tional team in Braden­ton, Fla. DU is the de­fend­ing NCAA cham­pion. Den­ver Post staff and wire ser­vices

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