Roddick sends U.S. past France into Davis Cup semis

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Andy Roddick was handed the large American flag and then just stood there. He wasn't going on a victory lap until his teammates joined him.

Roddick's Davis Cup dominance led the United States to the title last year and his victory Sunday eliminated France and clinched a spot in the semifinals against Spain. But Roddick clearly cherishes the camaraderie of this close-knit bunch.

The same can't be said for France. Not after its top player, Richard Gasquet, begged out of a matchup with Roddick with his country facing elimination.

Behind a blistering serve, Roddick defeated Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 for the deciding victory in the best-of-five quarterfinal. Roddick's second singles victory in three days secured the Americans' sixth straight Davis Cup win, including last year's final over Russia.

"It's nice to get rewarded for all the rough losses that we had, and I've been a part of a lot of big losses for us in Davis Cup," said Roddick, who improved to 29-9 in the competition. "You've got to try to keep and even keel when things are going your way, but obviously it's been fun having won the last six."

A day after a loss by the No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan kept France's hopes alive, Roddick was never threatened in giving the Americans an insurmountable 3-1 lead. While he was held to 17 aces, he lost only 13 points on his serve to improve to 10-0 in clinching situations for the U.S.

• Maria Sharapova entered the Bausch & Lomb Championships with hopes of gaining some experience on clay.

She got a lot more than that -- her first title on the soft, slippery surface.

Sharapova overcame five double-faults and 33 unforced errors to beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (7), 6-3 on Sunday. The top-seeded Russian became the first player on the WTA Tour to win three times in 2008. She also won the Australian Open and at Doha.

• PRO BASEBALL -- A construction worker's bid to curse the New York Yankees by planting a Boston Red Sox jersey in their new stadium was foiled Sunday when the home team removed the offending shirt from its burial spot.

After locating the shirt in a service corridor behind what will be a restaurant in the new Yankee Stadium, construction workers jackhammered through the concrete Sunday and pulled it out.

The team said it learned that a Sox-rooting construction worker had buried a shirt in the new Bronx stadium, which will open next year across the street from the current ballpark, from a report in the New York Post on Friday.

Yankees President Randy Levine said team officials at first considered leaving the shirt where it was.

• BOXING -- Despite Floyd Mayweather's reluctance to meet the other top welterweights, boxing's deepest division will produce a megafight after all.

That will come in late July when undefeated WBA champion Miguel Cotto takes on new IBF champ Antonio Margarito, probably on the 26th and likely here at Boardwalk Hall or in Madison Square Garden in New York.

Promoter Bob Arum ruled out any other venues, including Las Vegas, on Saturday night after Cotto destroyed outmanned Alfonso Gomez, stopping him after five lopsided rounds. Earlier, Margarito took apart Kermit Cintron to take away his belt, handing Cintron only his second loss as a pro. The other, not coincidentally, was to Margarito three years ago.

• SWIMMING -- Marleen Veldhuis of the Netherlands has improved her own world record in the women's 50-meter freestyle at the short-course swimming world championships.

Veldhuis finished in 23.25 seconds Sunday. Her previous record was 23.58, set in November.