Tuesday’s Sports in Brief

TENNIS

NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal began his U.S. Open quarterfinal as poorly as possible, shut out in a set by a 6-0 score for only the fourth time in 282 career Grand Slam matches.

On the previous three such occasions, he’d lost. On this one, he managed to come back to win, although it took 4 hours, 49 minutes and never did get easy for him.

The defending champion and No. 1 seed at Flushing Meadows recovered from his disastrous start and other stumbles along the way to beat No. 9 Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) for a semifinal berth at a third consecutive Grand Slam tournament, winning a physical, back-and-forth tussle that stretched across and concluded after 2 a.m. Wednesday.

How tense and tight was this one? Not only was Nadal two points from losing at 5-all in the closing tiebreaker, but he finished with fewer total points, 171-166.

When it ended, on an overhead by Thiem that sailed long, Nadal climbed over net to hug his opponent and whisper words of encouragement.

On Friday, Nadal will take on a familiar foe with a berth in the final on the line: 2009 champion and No. 3 seed Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated No. 11 John Isner 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

During that earlier quarterfinal, Isner doubled over and rested his elbows on his knees. He grimaced. He shook his head. He looked as if he wanted to be anywhere but where he was: falling further and further behind in energy-robbing heat.

GYMNASTICS

Kerry Perry resigned under pressure as USA Gymnastics president Tuesday, the move coming days after the U.S. Olympic Committee questioned her ability to lead a path forward for an organization rocked by scandal.

Perry spent nine months on the job and repeatedly came under scrutiny by athletes who felt she was mishandling the fallout from the tumult surrounding disgraced former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Perry, a former communications executive with no background in gymnastics, became president of USA Gymnastics last December. She stressed her focus would be on “creating an environment of empowerment where all have a strong voice and we are dedicated every single day to athlete safety.”

The USOC has expressed disappointment following the botched hiring — and then firing — of its elite development coordinator.

The coach, Mary Lee Tracy, was an early supporter of Nassar when allegations against him began to surface two years ago. After the announcement of her promotion, Tracy made an attempt to reach out to six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman, who is among the hundreds of women abused by Nassar.

LAWSUIT

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Attorneys for college football and basketball players returned to court Tuesday to fight NCAA rules that cap athletes’ compensation at what is traditionally covered by a scholarship.

A federal trial in Oakland opened with the testimony of sports economist Dan Rascher, one of several expert witnesses the sides plan to call during the 10-day trial.

The dueling experts are expected to debate the economic effects of allowing schools to freely pay football and basketball players. The plaintiffs want each college athletic conference to determine athletes’ compensation in hopes of creating a free market. The NCAA argues that the richest conferences and schools will quickly gobble up the best athletes, turning off fans and causing economic damage.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken is deciding the case without a jury and the trial started with attorneys submitting their opening statements in writing and calling the first witness. Wilken asked several questions of her own during the first morning of the trial, suggesting she plans to actively participate in questioning since there’s no jury present.

Rascher, a University of San Francisco sports economist, was called by the players’ attorneys to counter the NCAA’s argument.

GOLF

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (AP) — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, golf’s most prominent players for more than two decades, never realized the Ryder Cup would mean so much.

For Woods, it’s the culmination of a comeback that began in January after a fourth surgery on his lower back. For Mickelson, more than setting a record by playing his 12th Ryder Cup, the 48-year-old gets what he believes will be his last chance to capture that gold trophy away from home.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk added them to his team Monday evening as wild-card selections, along with Bryson DeChambeau.

Woods agreed to be a vice captain in late February, and he set a goal to be in Paris on Sept. 28-30 as a player.

Mickelson had qualified for every team since 1995, a streak that ended this year when he finished No. 10 in the standings. His 12th appearance breaks the Ryder Cup record held by Nick Faldo.

Mickelson has only been on three winning teams — at Brookline in 1999, Valhalla in 2008 and two years ago at Hazeltine. His last time overseas was at Gleneagles, where he infamously closed out a losing press conference by questioning captain Tom Watson and the direction the PGA of America was taking the U.S. team.

That led to sweeping changes in the U.S. structure, mainly by giving players a stronger voice.