SWIMMING

Phelps plans return from suspension in April

Michael Phelps plans to return from his six-month suspension in April at the Arena Pro Swim Series event in Mesa, Ariz.

The record-setting Olympian’s longtime coach, Bob Bowman, confirmed the plan Friday after reports emerged from Germany, where Phelps was making an appearance.

Phelps came out of retirement at the same event last year, finishing second in the 100-meter butterfly before a festive sellout crowd. This year’s Mesa event is scheduled for April 15-18.

USA Swimming suspended Phelps for six months after his arrest for drunk driving in late September.

TENNIS

ECUADOR OPEN: Top-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain defeated No. 7 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to reach the semifinals of the clay-court tournament in Quito.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE: Defending champion Gael Monfils needed three sets to beat Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis in the quarterfinals in Montpellier, France, winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to set up an all-French semifinal against Richard Gasquet.

ZAGREB INDOORS: Andreas Seppi was three points from defeat when he rallied to beat Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6) and reach the semifinals in Croatia.

FED CUP: Venus Williams opens against Paula Ormaechea on Saturday when the United States takes on Argentina in World Group II in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The U.S. is an overwhelming favorite to win the tie with sister Serena Williams in second singles on Saturday against Maria Irigoyen. The best-of-five series on clay finishes Sunday.

BASKETBALL

NCAA: With scoring at historic lows, the NCAA will experiment with a shorter shot clock at this year’s NIT to see if that can jumpstart college basketball’s lagging offense.

The tourney will feature a 30-second shot clock instead of the traditional 35-second clock that has been in play since 1993, with officials examining the effect on the games and taking the data to the men’s basketball rules committee for review in May.

SKIING

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Tina Maze of Slovenia has captured the women’s downhill gold medal at Beaver Creek, Colorado, ahead of prerace favorite Lindsey Vonn, who struggled on her home course.

Maze finished the twisty course in 1 minute, 45.89 seconds to beat Anna Fenninger of Austria by 0.02 seconds.

SOCCER

AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS: Morocco was fined $1 million by the Confederation of African Football for failing to host the 2015 tournament because of fears over Ebola.

Morocco was also banned from the next two tournaments in 2017 and 2019, and CAF said it was seeking around $9 million in damages from the North African nation for backing out of its hosting agreement.

FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL

NFL/NBA: The estranged heirs of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson say in newly filed court documents that Benson’s attorneys are opposing an independent psychiatric evaluation of the teams’ owner because they fear what the results would be.

The documents were filed by attorneys for Benson’s daughter, Renee, and her children Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, who last month were removed from Tom Benson’s succession plan for his teams.

– From news services