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Column: Don't write off Serena or Federer just yet

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Tempting as it might be, don't write off Serena Williams or Roger Federer just yet.

Sure, both are 37, and they're showing their age.

Yes, both are gone from the Australian Open, each with a loss to a far-younger opponent. Williams exited Wednesday in the quarterfinals against 26-year-old Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic after wasting four match points and a 5-1 lead in the third set; Federer went out Sunday in the fourth round against 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

And, well, there also are these facts to consider:

- Federer failed to make it to the final four at any of the past four Grand Slam tournaments (he sat out the French Open), the first such stretch for him since he reached his initial major semifinal all the way back in 2003;

- Williams hasn't won any of the four Slams she has entered since having a baby in September 2017, equaling her longest gap since a six-major drought from 2007-08.

Here's the thing, though, something that statistics can't account for: As great as these two have been over the years - Williams owns 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Federer 20 - their most impressive quality might very well be the ability to adjust and adapt, to find new ways to win, to stay committed to doing whatever it takes to remain at the top.

Federer, for example, went 4 years without adding to his Grand Slam total, and then won three in a span of four that he appeared in.

How? He changed to a larger racket head, began using a flat backhand more often and invented a new way of challenging opponents' second serves.

So count on Federer to come up with something else. As it is, he declared that he'll return to the clay-court circuit this year and participate in the French Open for the first time since 2015. After all, he's healthy. So why not? Maybe he won't win the title there, but it could help him prepare for Wimbledon.

A story that Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told this week is instructive.

They began working together in 2012, shortly after the only first-round Grand Slam loss of Williams' career, which came at the French Open.

The next season, Williams told him she really wanted to win the title at Roland Garros, where she'd last been champion in 2002.

"We made a plan," he said, "and she worked incredibly hard."

And, lo and behold, in 2013, she ended her 11-year wait for a second triumph in Paris, just as she'd hoped.

After the trophy ceremony, Williams went to stretch and told him to tag along.

"She turned to me and said, 'Now we have to win Wimbledon,'" Mouratoglou recalled. "She was chasing something for 11 years (and) ... 10 minutes after, she was already focusing on the next goal. That's different. There are guys who win one tournament and they celebrate for 15 years."

That last description fits neither Williams nor Federer.

Indeed, they are at the opposite end of the spectrum: They fail to win one tournament and rue it.

"It's definitely not easy for me. From Day 1, I expect to go out and, quite frankly, to win. That hasn't happened. But I do like my attitude. I like that I don't want to go out here and say: 'I expect to lose because I had a year off. I've been playing for 10 months. I'm not supposed to win.' I don't have that attitude," Williams said about her return after taking time away to have her daughter.

"I have the attitude of, like, I've only been playing 10 months, but I expect to win, and if I don't, it's disappointing. I'd rather think of it that way and know that it's going to happen sooner or later than making an excuse for myself," she said. "I don't like making excuses."

She was asked where she might have the best chance to collect one more major championship to equal Margaret Court's record of 24.

"Right now would be Roland Garros," came the answer, "because that's the next one, the next Grand Slam for me."

That's the right approach, of course.

That kind of self-belief is a trait she shares with Federer, another reason not to dismiss their chances to contend on tennis's most important stages. After all, this hardly would be the first time someone thought Williams or Federer were done.

Federer didn't take kindly to player-turned-TV-talker John McEnroe's declaration that Tsitsipas' upset signaled a changing of the guard.

"He's always going to say stuff," Federer said, before dismissing McEnroe's contention this way: "I've heard that story the last 10 years. From that standpoint, nothing new there."

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Howard Fendrich covers tennis for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich or write to him at hfendrich@ap.org

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More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

1 point away, Serena stunned by Pliskova at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Four times, Serena Williams was only one point - a single point - from closing out a victory in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

On the first such chance, at 5-1, 40-30 in the third set, she turned her left ankle awkwardly. The owner of the best serve in the sport would lose every point she served the rest of the way.

And so it was that a startling reversal and result would follow Wednesday at Melbourne Park, with Williams dropping the last six games of a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 loss to No. 7-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

"I can't say that I choked on those match points," Williams said. "She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots."

The 37-year-old American didn't call for a trainer during the match and later wouldn't blame the ankle for the way everything changed down the stretch, saying afterward that it "seems to be fine."

But instead of Williams moving closer to an eighth championship at the Australian Open and record-tying 24th Grand Slam title overall, it is Pliskova who will continue the pursuit of her first major trophy.

"I was almost in the locker room," Pliskova told the Rod Laver Arena crowd, "but now I'm standing here as the winner."

Normally, Williams is the one manufacturing a comeback. This time, it was surprising to see her let a sizable lead vanish. Only twice before in 380 Grand Slam matches had Williams lost after holding a match point, at the 2010 French Open and 1999 Australian Open.

In Thursday's semifinals, Pliskova will face No. 4-seeded Naomi Osaka, who advanced by beating No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-1. The other women's semifinal will be two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova against unseeded American Danielle Collins.

In men's action Wednesday, No. 28 Lucas Pouille of France reached his first Grand Slam semifinal by beating 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic of Canada 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4. Pouille, who is coached by two-time major champion Amelie Mauresmo, had been 0-5 for his career at the Australian Open until last week. His next opponent will be 14-time major champion Novak Djokovic, who moved on when 2014 U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori stopped playing while trailing 6-1, 4-1.

Nishikori was treated for leg problems by a trainer.

Williams' surprising departure scuttled what would have been a much-anticipated rematch against Osaka, who beat her in the chaotic U.S. Open final last September.

This defeat is the earliest in Australia for Williams since 2014, when she exited with a fourth-round loss to Ana Ivanovic. Since then? She won the tournament in 2015, lost in the final in 2016, and won again in 2017 while pregnant, before missing last year's edition a few months after the birth of her daughter.

As for chasing Margaret Court's all-time mark of 24 Slam trophies in singles, Williams said: "It hasn't happened yet, but I feel like it's going to happen."

The match against Pliskova was played under a stifling sun, with the temperature around 80 degrees (25 degrees Celsius). Williams - coming off an intense three-set victory over No. 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round - often stepped into the patches of shade behind each baseline.

She did not start well, not well at all. Her mistakes were mounting and deficit was growing.

In the first set alone, Williams made more than twice as many unforced errors as her opponent, 11-5, a pattern that would continue throughout. By the end, the margin was 37-15.

Looking increasingly frustrated, Williams would yell at herself after mistakes or gesture as if to say, "That's NOT how I should be hitting the ball!" Add it all up, and Pliskova led by a set and a break at 3-2 in the second.

Only then did Williams get going. From there, she immediately earned her first break point of the match and converted it to get to 3-all, beginning a run in which she claimed nine of 11 games.

"You don't really feel," Pliskova said, "like you're going to win this match."

Serving for the victory at 5-1, 40-30, Williams was called for a foot fault - reminiscent of an infamous such ruling at the U.S. Open a decade ago. During the ensuing point Wednesday, Williams twisted her left ankle and dumped a forehand into the net.

She grabbed at her foot afterward, then double-faulted and would go on to cede that game.

Not a big deal, right? She still had a sizable lead.

Except that three more match points would follow while Pliskova served, and she saved each one.

"There's nothing I did wrong on those match points. I didn't do anything wrong. I stayed aggressive," Williams said. "She just literally hit the lines on some of them."

Williams would again serve for the match at 5-3 - and again get broken. The owner of the most feared and respected serve in women's tennis was broken for a third time in a row at 5-all, and Pliskova was on her way.

"She got a little bit shaky in the end," Pliskova said. "So I took my chances. And I won."

Osaka will carry a 12-match Grand Slam winning streak into the semifinals.

The 21-year-old from Japan moved closer to a second consecutive major championship by parlaying her aggressive and powerful style into a 31-11 edge in winners against Svitolina.

"For me, right now, I just try to keep looking forward. So I'm not really satisfied. Like, I am happy that I'm here, but at the same time, I want to keep going," said Osaka, who never had been past the fourth round at the Australian Open. "There is more matches to win."

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Florida college says error led to 430 mistaken admissions

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - A Florida college says it mistakenly sent out more than 400 acceptance letters for applications still under review.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the University of South Florida St. Petersburg on Saturday sent hundreds of acceptance letters that were quickly revoked. Applicants say their excitement died shortly after they got a second email that day that said, "There was an error in the system. Please disregard the previous email."

Chancellor Martin Tadlock said "human error" caused 680 acceptance emails to be sent out when only 250 applicants were actually admitted.

University spokeswoman Carrie O'Brion says the school is working to contact each applicant who received the erroneous acceptance letter to "discuss possible pathways" for future admission. Tadlock says the university's rolling admissions means that affected students could be accepted later.

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Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

Florida college says error led to 430 mistaken admissions

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - A Florida college says it mistakenly sent out more than 400 acceptance letters for applications still under review.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the University of South Florida St. Petersburg on Saturday sent hundreds of acceptance letters that were quickly revoked. Applicants say their excitement died shortly after they got a second email that day that said, "There was an error in the system. Please disregard the previous email."

Chancellor Martin Tadlock said "human error" caused 680 acceptance emails to be sent out when only 250 applicants were actually admitted.

University spokeswoman Carrie O'Brion says the school is working to contact each applicant who received the erroneous acceptance letter to "discuss possible pathways" for future admission. Tadlock says the university's rolling admissions means that affected students could be accepted later.

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Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

FBI: California man harassed Parkland families via Instagram

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A California man is accused of using Instagram to "harass and intimidate" the families of students killed in a mass shooting at a Florida high school.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court says Brandon Fleury of Santa Ana, California, began the taunts Dec. 22 using different accounts which were traced to an IP address in Santa Ana, where Fleury lives with his father and brother. He was arrested Friday.

Special Agent Cameron McDowell wrote in a 12-page report filed Friday that Fleury showed no remorse when questioned Jan. 16. He admitted to fascination with the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Fleury's father, Patrick Fleury, told the SunSentinel it was a "bunch of nonsense" and declined to say whether his son has a lawyer.

Judge: No contempt for sheriff over school shooting records

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida judge has denied an effort by defense attorneys to hold the Broward Sheriff's Office in contempt of court for releasing suspect Nikolas Cruz's medical records to a state investigative commission.

The order dated Tuesday by Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer says the records release was limited, not done in bad faith and was an isolated incident. Scherer also says the sheriff's office may not have been aware of restrictions she had placed on the records.

Cruz's medical records were provided last summer to the commission created to investigate the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed. They have not been made public.

Defense lawyers wanted Scherer to hold a hearing on whether the sheriff's office should be found in contempt of court for a violating her previous order limiting release of the records.

Cruz, 20, faces the death penalty. His lawyers have offered a guilty plea in return for life in prison.

Meanwhile, a California man is accused of using Instagram to "harass and intimidate" the families of students killed in the shooting.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court says Brandon Fleury of Santa Ana, California, began the taunts Dec. 22 using different accounts which were traced to an IP address in Santa Ana, where Fleury lives with his father and brother. He was arrested Friday.

Special Agent Cameron McDowell wrote in a 12-page report filed Friday that Fleury showed no remorse when questioned Jan. 16 and that he admitted to fascination with the mass shooting.

Fleury's father, Patrick Fleury, told the SunSentinel it was a "bunch of nonsense" and declined to say whether his son has a lawyer.

Florida teen gets community service for fatal crash that killed 17-year-old boy

A Florida teen received a six-month driver-license suspension and 20 hours of community service for a fatal crash, according to the Associated Press.  

Cole David Jordan, now 18, was also fined $1,000. 

The News-Press reports that Jordan was sentenced last week after pleading no contest to careless driving.

Authorities said then-17-year-old Jordan was driving at a high rate of speed on a Fort Myers street in January 2018 when he was hit by another vehicle pulling out of a parking lot.

A passenger in the other car, 17-year-old Erik Babatz, suffered serious injuries and later died at a hospital.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Frontier Airlines to begin operations from coastal Alabama

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Frontier Airlines will offer direct flights from coastal Alabama to Chicago and Denver later this year.

News outlets reported Frontier will offer the service from a new passenger terminal using the Downtown Mobile Airport.

Service will begin May 1 with one-way fares as low as $39 for passengers heading to Chicago who reserve flights before midnight Wednesday.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson says flights from the downtown airport have been a goal for years. Supporters of the idea say a study showed using the downtown airport has more advantages than using the West Mobile Regional airport. They say the downtown airport's location will make it more competitive with airports in Pensacola, Florida, and Biloxi, Mississippi.

Via Airlines is also expected to start using the Downtown Mobile Airport in late spring.

MarineMax: Fiscal 1Q Earnings Snapshot

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ MarineMax Inc. (HZO) on Wednesday reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $4.9 million.

On a per-share basis, the Clearwater, Florida-based company said it had profit of 21 cents.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 14 cents per share.

The recreational boat dealer posted revenue of $241.9 million in the period, missing Street forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $247.7 million.

MarineMax expects full-year earnings in the range of $1.85 to $1.95 per share.

MarineMax shares have increased 7 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has increased nearly 1 percent in the last 12 months.

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This story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on HZO at https://www.zacks.com/ap/HZO

Florida man gets life in prison for fatal robbery

CLEWISTON, Fla. (AP) - A Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for a fatal robbery.

The News-Press reports that 42-year-old Bubba O'Connor was sentenced Tuesday after being convicted of murder and other charges.

Authorities say O'Connor and 49-year-old Wendy Michelle Soucier attacked 72-year-old Cherry Ermine and her boyfriend, 69-year-old Frank Jansson, at a Clewiston home in 2016. Both were beaten and stabbed. Ermine died at the scene. Jansson, who survived, managed to get to his vehicle and find help before being airlifted to a Fort Myers hospital.

Soucier was previously convicted of similar charges and sentenced to life in prison.

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Information from: The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press, http://www.news-press.com

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