Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova reached the semi-finals of the Miami Open for the first time after beating Ekaterina Alexandrova.
World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz and in-form Daniil Medvedev reached the men’s draw semis after beating American opposition in their respective quarter-finals.
Goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger was the hero for Chelsea as the Blues beat defending champions Lyon to reach the women’s Champions League semi-finals.
Max Verstappen topped first practice in the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton.
In cricket, New Zealand won the third ODI against Sri Lanka to win the three-match ODI series.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 31 March, 2023:
New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in third ODI
Will Young hit 86 not out as hosts New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by six wickets in Friday’s third one-day international, ending the visitors’ hopes of qualifying directly for the World Cup this year.
New Zealand replied with 159 for four after bowling Sri Lanka out for 157 in Hamilton.
The Black Caps won the ODI series 2-0, having also won both of the two Test matches. A three-match Twenty20 series between the teams starts Sunday.
The home win saw New Zealand top the Super League table in qualifying for the ODI World Cup in India this year.
Sri Lanka are ninth, outside the top eight who automatically go to the World Cup, and now face a qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe starting in June.
Young’s 86 runs off 113 balls dug New Zealand out of trouble, Sri Lanka’s seamers having made life hard for the hosts early on.
His fifth-wicket partnership of 100 runs with Henry Nicholls sealed the result for New Zealand.
It was another frustrating display by Sri Lanka, who were skittled for just 76 in a 198-run defeat in the first ODI on Saturday before the second game on Tuesday was washed out.
Sri Lanka won the toss but lost three wickets in the first 10 overs as top-order batters Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews both went for ducks.
Opening bat Pathum Nissanka top-scored with 57, managing partnerships of 31 and 30 with Asalanka and Dasun Shanaka respectively as Sri Lanka reached 100-6 before the opener was run out.
Shanaka, their captain, tried to rally his side by hitting two huge sixes before he went on 31 off 36 balls.
Vaughan cleared of racism
Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan was Friday cleared “on the balance of probabilities” of using racist language before a match for county club Yorkshire in 2009.
The 2005 Ashes-winning captain was alleged to have used the term “you lot” when referring to a group of four players of South Asian ethnicity, including Pakistan-born Azeem Rafiq.
A Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) report said it was “not satisfied on the balance of probabilities” that Vaughan spoke the words he was alleged to have used.
But it added that its findings “do not in any way undermine the wider assertions” made by Rafiq, who told lawmkers in November 2021 that English cricket was “institutionally racist”.
Vaughan, who appeared in person at a CDC hearing earlier this month, thanked the panel for “their careful attention in very difficult circumstances” in a statement on social media.
Kvitova, Medvedev, Alcaraz reach Miami semis
Petra Kvitova reached the semi-finals of the Miami Open for the first time after fighting to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova on Thursday.
Czech Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, will face Romanian Sorana Cirstea in the last four on Friday while American Jessica Pegula will take on Elena Rybakina in the opening semi later on Thursday.
In the men’s draw, world number one Carlos Alcaraz and in-form Russian Daniil Medvedev booked their places in the semi-finals with convincing victories over American opponents.
Alcaraz crushed ninth-seed Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-2, while Medvedev ended qualifier Christopher Eubanks’ impressive run with a 6-3, 7-5 victory in their quarter-final.
Kvitova grabbed the first set, in the match which was postponed due to rain on Wednesday, after breaking Alexandrova on her second service game but the Russian fought back well.
Her victory in two hours and 11 minutes ensures Kvitova a place in the last four at her 13th attempt in Miami and she will now face another veteran in the 32-year-old Cirstea.
Alcaraz needed just 78 minutes to dismiss Fritz with the Spaniard yet again dominating with his big serve and attacking the American from the outset.
He will be up against Italian tenth-seed Jannik Sinner next as he seeks to complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ following his triumph over Medvedev at Indian Wells.
The 26-year-old Eubanks was playing in his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final after upsetting Frenchmen Adrian Mannarino and Gregoire Barrere and Croatia’s 17th-ranked Borna Coric.
Eubanks saved two match points as Medvedev looked to break him and avoid a deciding set, but then on the third match point he messed up a straightforward volley, putting it out and ending his resistance.
Medvedev has now won 22 of his past 23 matches, capturing titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai during that run and reaching the final in Indian Wells, where he lost to world number one Carlos Alcaraz.
Medvedev, in the semi-finals in Miami for the first time, will face fellow-Russian Karen Khachanov for a place in the final after the 14th seed beat Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo 6-3, 6-2.
Chelsea, Wolfsburg reach Champions League SF
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes lauded Ann-Katrin Berger as the “best pen-saving goalkeeper I’ve worked with” after the Germany international’s heroics helped the Blues knock holders Lyon out of the Women’s Champions League on Thursday.
The 32-year-old, diagnosed with thyroid cancer for a second time in August, made two saves in a penalty shoot-out Chelsea won 4-3 to set-up a semi-final with Barcelona.
An already dramatic two-legged tie finished level at 2-2, but only after Chelsea substitute Maren Mjelde scored a penalty in the eighth minute of added-on time at the end of extra-time to send the match to spot-kicks.
Mjelde then scored the first penalty of the shoot-out.
Berger later denied Wendie Renard before ending the match when she got a strong hand to US international Lindsey Horan’s strike low to the bottom left corner.
The Blues’ success sparked joyous scenes at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea – yet to win the Women’s Champions League – now facing a Barcelona side that beat them 4-0 in the 2021 final.
Earlier, two-time Champions League winners Wolfsburg secured a last-four place against Arsenal, one of Chelsea’s London rivals, with a 2-1 aggregate win over Paris Saint-Germain.
Previously, a 1-1 draw at home was good enough for Wolfsburg to go through.
The German club took an early lead through star striker Alexandra Popp but that was soon cancelled out by a Kadidiatou Diani equaliser.
Verstappen fastest in Australian practice
Max Verstappen outpaced Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to clock the fastest time in opening practice at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday, as the defending world champion reinforced his early season dominance.
The Dutchman powered around the Albert Park circuit with a best time of one minute 18.790 seconds among his 17 laps, largely on soft tyres.
He demonstrated his superior speed again, but also had a massive spin at the exit of Turn 4 late on, ruining his tyres.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton was a surprise second, 0.433secs adrift, clocking his fastest lap just before the hour-long session was red flagged for a second time, sneaking past Red Bull’s third-placed Sergio Perez.
Red Bull are attempting to score a third consecutive 1-2 finish for the first time in the team’s history in Melbourne after their dominance in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso followed podium finishes at the first two races of the season by taking fourth in his Aston Martin.
Charles Leclerc, who won in Australia last year, came an encouraging fifth after Ferrari’s reliability and pace problems this year, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly in an Alpine, George Russell in the other Mercedes and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10.
France says IOC Russia recommendation not binding for Paris 2024
The International Olympic Committee recommendation to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals is not binding for Paris’ 2024 Olympics, French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said on Thursday.
IOC recommendations were “a step which does not pre-judge what we will do” for Paris 2024, Oudea-Castera told reporters on a visit near Paris.
“If the international federations decide that there will be participation by individual athletes, it will be under a strict neutrality regime, without a Russian flag or the national anthem,” she added.
Voices from western governments, civil society and athletes have been raised against allowing any Russian participation in the Games following Moscow’s invasion last year of neighbour Ukraine.
Belarusians are also in the frame as Minsk has allowed its territory to be used by Russian troops during the assault, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying last week he would station nuclear weapons there.