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Serena Williams wins WTA title, ends year No. 3

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Serena Williams wins WTA title, ends year No. 3

ISTANBUL (AP) Her year filled with titles and trophies over, Serena Williams can at last admit it: This was a title she had her eye on.

Not that any more evidence of her all-consuming, powerful game was needed, but Williams gave it anyway. She dismissed Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 Sunday to win the WTA Championships for the third time and finish the year with another title, but not the top ranking.

``Now that I can be honest, I really wanted to win,'' Williams said. ``I wanted it so bad, but I didn't want to say it. ... It was really important for me to end the year with this title in particular.''

Williams ended the year with a 59-4 record and seven titles. Since her first-round loss at the French Open, she is 31-1, winning Wimbledon, the Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open.

The 31-year-old Williams became the oldest player to capture the year-end championships. But she will finish the year ranked No. 3, behind No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and No. 2 Sharapova, because she did not play as well in the first half of the year. Azarenka lost to Sharapova in the semifinals.

``I had such a good year, it was important to end on a good note,'' Williams said. ``It was good for my sanity to win. I really wanted it although I didn't need it.''

In 2001 and `09 Williams also won the elite, year-end tournament that brings together the world's top eight players.

A fist-pumping Williams closed the first set with an ace, one of 11 she had in the match. The American broke serve to start the second and was never threatened again. Williams hit a powerful return on her first match point. She finished with 40 winners to Sharapova's 13.

``Today she had another great serving day against me,'' said Sharapova, who never had a break point.

Williams finished the tournament without dropping a set. She also beat Azarenka in round-robin play, one of her four wins against the No. 1 player this year.

``If I'm playing well and doing everything right, it's pretty difficult to beat me, without trying to sound too full of myself,'' Williams said. ``And I hate to lose.''

She has won 12 straight against opponents ranked No. 1 or No. 2 and has not lost to a player ranked in the top 2 since 2007.

Williams was not her mighty self early in the year following injuries and illness. Shortly after winning Wimbledon two years ago, she cut her foot on glass at a restaurant, leading to a series of health problems, including hospitalization for blood clots in her lungs. She also injured her ankle at the start of the year in Brisbane, Australia.

Williams last finished the year as No. 1 in 2009. She has held the No. 1 ranking for 123 weeks.

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

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USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Atlantic Division...

Toronto Raptors, B+

2017-18 finish: 59-23, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Kawhi Leonard, G Danny Green, C Greg Monroe
Out: G DeMar DeRozan, C Jakub Poeltl, C Lucas Nogueira

The Raptors had one of the more consequential offseasons of any NBA team this year. First, they fired Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year, following a season in which they won 59 games. Then, they pulled off the biggest trade of the summer, a deal that featured two perennial All-NBA players. They let go of DeRozan and brought in Leonard in return. If they hadn't parted with DeRozan and Casey, they may have gotten an A. But it's hard to tell how much better they will be following the deal and Leonard does bring with him some concerns based on his quadriceps injury and the fact he has only one year left on his contract. The Raptors do, however, also get points for re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet.

Boston Celtics, C

2017-18 finish: 55-27, conference finals
In: C Robert Williams, G Brad Wanamaker
Out: C Greg Monroe

One year ago, the Celtics flipped nearly their entire roster and brought in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they mostly stood pat and didn't add much of anything in free agency or trades. Their biggest acquisition was Williams, who they took 27th overall in the first round of the draft. The Celtics will hope they improve from within. They re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes, and should get Irving and Hayward back from injuries. They should have plenty of talent to compete for an NBA Finals berth, but as far as this offseason goes, they didn't do much.

Philadelphia 76ers, D+

2017-18 finish: 52-30, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Wilson Chandler, C Mike Muscala, G Zhaire Smith, G Landry Shamet
Out: G Marco Belinelli, F Ersan Ilyasova

Where do we begin? This summer was about as dramatic and bad as it could get for the Sixers. First, they had to fire their general manager because of a burner Twitter account scandal. Then, they struck out miserably in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, and in trade talks for Leonard. After that, Smith - their first round pick - hurt his foot. And along the way, Ben Simmons has been dating a Kardashian, flirting with the curse that has claimed many pro athletes before him. Philly did re-sign J.J. Redick and Johnson, and the Chandler trade was nice, but all in all it was an offseason that fell way short of the Sixers' expectations. That said, they can still get way better next season based solely on their young players taking another step.

New York Knicks, B

2017-18 finish: 29-53, missed playoffs
In: F Mario Hezonja, F Kevin Knox, F Noah Vonleh, C Mitchell Robinson
Out: F Michael Beasley, G Jarrett Jack, F Kyle O'Quinn

It's been a while since the Knicks had an offseason to write home about and this one is no exception. There was nothing they did that would flirt with an A-grade. However, the early returns on their draft are excellent. Knox and Robinson were both standouts in the Summer League and offer fans a little bit more hope about the team's future. As long as Kristaps Porzingis can return this season safe and sound from his ACL tear, the Knicks could take a step forward in 2018-19.

Brooklyn Nets, C+

2017-18 finish: 28-54, missed playoffs
In: F Ed Davis, F Kenneth Faried, F Jared Dudley
Out: F Dante Cunningham, G Nik Stauskas, C Jahlil Okafor

The best news about the Nets' offseason is that their trade with the Celtics, the one that stripped them of years of first round picks, is finally over. Next year, the Nets will have a first round pick. This summer, they once again didn't add any major pieces in the draft, but seemed to make some smart moves in free agency. The Davis deal is solid and Faried may benefit from a change of scenery. More baby steps for Brooklyn.

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Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

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USA Today Sports

Dmitry Orlov dazzles his hometown of Novokuznetsk with the Stanley Cup

Friday featured Dmitry Orlov and his jam-packed schedule with the coveted Stanley Cup.

The 27-year-old native of Russia decided to take the Cup to Novokuznetsk (located in the southwest region of Siberia) for a meet and greet with fans by the Ferris wheel at Gagarin City Park.

It should be mentioned that Orlov's day with the trophy was nearly derailed after a travel glitch that sent the Cup to Novosibirsk instead of his hometown. 

Thanks to the ultimate assist from a helicopter, the Cup arrived in style and set up one memorable entrance for the defenseman. 

Orlov released this hype video which highlights his entire day on Instagram: 

Дорогие друзья! Огромное спасибо, что разделили с нами наш праздник! Для нас это значимое и большое событие! Ещё раз приносим искренние извинения за задержку с кубком! И спасибо за понимание, мы старались сделать все максимально быстро! Спасибо за тёплый приём! Нашим родным, друзьям, тренерам, отдельная благодарность! Вы сделали наш праздник, наш день! Мы никогда не забудем этот праздник! P.S. Лена @govor_elena , тебе и твоим родным, отдельная благодарность, если бы не ваша помощь, то не известно когда бы кубок был в Новокузнецке!

A post shared by Dmitry Orlov (@orlov_09) on

Talk about a banner weekend for the Washington Capitals. The Ovechkins welcomed their new son, Sergei Aleksandrovich, into the world and Orlov pulled off yet another spectacular day with the Cup.

 

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