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Injured again, Baker out of Australian Open

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Injured again, Baker out of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) After being sidelined with injuries for nearly six years, Brian Baker was finally back on the court with a second chance at a professional career.

Playing in his first Australian Open at the age of 27, Baker had just won the first set in his second-round match against fellow American Sam Querrey when his body gave out on him again.

He crumpled to the court after hitting a shot long and shouted in pain, grasping his right knee. After limping awkwardly and then hopping to his chair, he sat down, ripped off his headband and shook his head in frustration.

Baker retired several minutes later and was pushed off the court in a wheelchair. As the crowd applauded, a woman shouted from the stands, ``Don't give up, Brian.''

``He said he kind of just felt his knee almost buckle and kind of heard like a pop or a snap,'' No. 20 seed Querrey said after the match. ``He didn't know if it was bones or a tear, but he couldn't straighten it, couldn't walk.''

Tournament organizers said later that Baker had a torn meniscus. He is expected to be out about four months.

While the injury could have been worse, the setback is no doubt a heartbreaking one for a player who has undergone five major surgeries - but never had a knee problem until Wednesday.

``He's the last person that deserves anything like that,'' said Querrey, who has become friends with Baker as they've both come back from injuries over the past year. ``He does everything right, treats his body great, just trying to come back, and then something like that happens, it's just so unlucky.''

Baker's injury elicited messages of support from other players who have followed - and admired - his comeback.

``It's a shame,'' said fellow American Tim Smyczek after his second-round loss to Spaniard David Ferrer. ``He's such a good player. He's got so much talent and he's got great tennis IQ. He's just had the worst luck.''

Baker was once the No. 2-ranked junior in the world and a boys French Open finalist in 2003. He recorded his first top-10 victory at the U.S. Open in 2005 when he upset then-No. 9 Gaston Gaudio in the first round. He lost his next match against Xavier Malisse - and then didn't play another ATP-level match for seven years.

Any of the surgeries Baker underwent during that time could have ended his career: left hip (2005), sports hernia (2006), right elbow reconstructive surgery (February 2008), left hip again (April 2008), right hip (June 2008).

Baker took a job as an assistant tennis coach at Belmont University in his native Nashville, Tenn. But he never ruled out a comeback on the pro tour.

Baker got his chance at a small ATP tournament in Nice last May. Ranked No. 216, he qualified for the main draw and then made it all the way to the final, beating 13th-ranked Gael Monfils along the way. Weeks later, he qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon and reached the fourth round, pushing his ranking up to 76th.

Baker started the new year full of promise, closing in on the top 50 in the rankings. He beat Russia's Alex Bogomolov Jr. in the first round at Melbourne Park - his first-ever five-set victory - setting up the second-round encounter with Querrey.

``He has been so unfortunate in the last six years, seven years,'' Querrey said. ``So, you know, I think if he can heal quickly or if it takes a year, I think he can get right back where he is right now. He's talented; he's good enough. No matter what happens, I still think he can come back to where he is now.''

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John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

WASHINGTON -- The steady progress continues for John Wall in his rehab from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, as the Wizards point guard is now facing teammates in 4-on-4 drills at practice.

Head coach Scott Brooks described the games as "controlled," noting they were not full-speed or with contact and featured a 10-second shot clock. But that remains a notable step in his road back after he had previously been playing mostly against player development coaches.

"He practiced for the whole practice. He looked great," Brooks said. "There is still a ways to go. But his energy, his enthusiasm, his strength [looks good]. His shot looks better."

Wall, 29, hasn't played in a game since Dec. 26 of 2018. He had surgery on his Achilles on Feb. 12, 2019. He is currently over 11 months into what is typically an 11-to-15 month recovery.

Brooks, though, makes a point to couch positive updates about Wall with patience. The team has indicated he may not play at all this season.

"I don't know if he plays this year," Brooks said. "We can be patient and we're going to be patient because we need him to be right for a lot of years. This is his career and we know how serious that injury is. He's taking it serious."

Part of the equation is the financial commitment the Wizards have made in Wall. He is due roughly $131.5 million over the next three seasons. They want to make sure he is good to go not just for this year, but that he can be effective for the remainder of his contract.

According to Brooks, even having Wall back to this level has added some positive energy to the Wizards' organization.

"I know the excitement is around because he's around and he's looking [good]," Brooks said. "When he comes back, he's going to be the John Wall we all love."

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Houston QB D'Eriq King reportedly transfers to Miami over Maryland

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Houston QB D'Eriq King reportedly transfers to Miami over Maryland

Just one week after announcing that he had entered the NCAA transfer portal, University of Houston QB D'Eriq King has reportedly chosen Miami over Maryland.

The Athletic's Hurricanes beat writer Manny Navarro reports that King has informed Canes coaches of his decision and intent to start classes Tuesday, Jan. 21. 

At the same time, Mark Berman of Fox26 reported that King has not made a final decision but did indeed like Miami.

 

King was scheduled to visit Miami Friday night and Maryland on Saturday, but Jeff Ermann of InsideMDSports reports that King may have cancelled his visit to second-year head coach Mike Locksley and company last minute after liking Miami. Berman reports that King is still "planning" on visiting College Park.

The Terps struggled to finish 3-9 with Josh Jackson and Tyrell Pigrome under center, combining for 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. Under first-year head coach Manny Diaz, Miami went 6-7 over 2019.

King redshirted this season after playing the maximum four games allowed under new NCAA rules in order to preserve eligibility and transfer for  his senior season. In those four games, King tallied 663 passing yards and six touchdowns. 

The sought-after QB is also just one of three in FBS history that have recorded at least 35 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns in a single season.

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