BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Friday. A full Sports Digest will be sent at about 3 p.m. All times EST.

– MELBOURNE, Australia – Seven months after giving retirement serious thought, Li Na made it third time lucky in an Australian Open final with a 7-6 (3), 6-0 win over Dominika Cibulkova to become the oldest women’s champion here in the Open era. By John Pye. SENT. 850 words.

– ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Champ Bailey is ready for the comparisons to Seattle’s Richard Sherman, the brash, young cornerback who goes toe to toe with the best trash-talking wide receiver. Normally, Bailey, the quiet pro who lets his play do the talking, is enjoying the sand and sunshine in Hawaii this time of year, where he’s a 12-time Pro Bowler. This time, Denver’s star cornerback is getting ready for his first Super Bowl this time and contemporaries both past and present are pulling for him.

– MELBOURNE, Australia – At an Australian Open marked by upsets and new story lines, Rafael Nadal will play Sunday’s final against a man often called the ”other” Swiss tennis player. Now, after a stunning run in Melbourne, Stanislas Wawrinka has a new nickname: The Stanimal – a tribute to his gritty, fight-until-the end style of tennis.

– KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Hannes Reichelt became the first Austrian winner of the classic Hahnenkamm downhill in eight years on Saturday, beating pre-race favorites Aksel Lund Svindal and Bode Miller.

– CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – Defending overall World Cup champion Tina Maze finally got her first victory of the season, winning the prestigious Cortina downhill Saturday to signal a return to form just in time for the Sochi Olympics.

– For the first time, the world’s best male ski jumpers will have to share the Olympic stage with their female counterparts – the guys have had it all to themselves since the inaugural Winter Games in 1924.

– Two of short track speedskating’s biggest stars won’t be on the ice at the Sochi Olympics. Apolo Anton Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian, is retired. Wang Meng, who is Ohno’s equivalent in China, broke her ankle in training and isn’t expected to be healed in time to compete at her third Olympics.

– Petter Northug and Dario Cologna were supposed to have a two-man duel at the Sochi Olympics to establish which one should called the world’s best cross-country skier. Because of injuries and illness, however, no one knows quite what to expect from the sport’s two biggest stars next month – making these Olympics unusually unpredictable on the men’s side.