SOCCER

Messi, Iniesta, Ronaldo in final running for UEFA Best Player in Europe Award

Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta along with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo have been shortlisted for the 2011-2012 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.

The three players gained the most points in a vote among 53 sports journalists representing each of the UEFA member associations, European football’s organizing body said Tuesday.

The award will be decided in a vote in Monaco during the Champions League group stage draw Aug. 30.

Positions four to 10 have already been established in the vote, with Italy’s Andrea Pirlo (Juventus) fourth, followed by Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Didier Drogba (Chelsea, now Shanghai Shenhua), Petr Cech (Chelsea) tied with Falcao (Atletico Madrid) and Mesut Oezil (Real Madrid).

BASKETBALL

NBA: A person with knowledge of the deal said the Houston Rockets agreed to a one-year deal with Argentine forward Carlos Delfino.

The 6-foot-6 Delfino played in the Olympics, where he helped Argentina finish fourth. A first-round pick by Detroit in 2003, Delfino has played his past three seasons with Milwaukee.

TENNIS

WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN: Venus Williams, who needed a wild card to play at Cincinnati, advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 win over 12th-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia.

Another American wild card, Sloane Stephens, moved on with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, while Anna Tatishvili of Georgia eliminated Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson advanced when Austria’s Tamira Paszek retired trailing 6-1, 2-1. In two matchups of qualifiers, Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan cruised past Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-1, and the Czech Republic’s Andrea Hlavackova defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States, 6-3, 7-5.

In men’s first-round action, Japan’s Kei Nishikori easily defeated Marcel Granollers of Spain, 6-1, 6-2.

Andy Roddick developed back spasms during his opening match at Mason, Ohio, setting up a two-set loss to France’s Jeremy Chardy that left questions about his health heading into the U.S. Open.

Roddick, who has played through a sore shoulder this summer, developed a new health concern as he lost to a player he’s beaten in all three of their career matches.

U.S. Open: Lleyton Hewitt and James Blake will receive wild cards into the tournament in New York, as the U.S. Tennis Association announced its eight men’s wild cards.

Hewitt is a two-time major champion, winning the 2001 U.S. Open, but at age 31 the Australian has fallen to 134th in the world.

Blake has twice reached the quarterfinals, but the 32-year-old American’s ranking was too low to qualify for the year’s final Grand Slam, which starts Aug. 27.

HOCKEY

NHL: The National Hockey League Players’ Association has made its first proposal in the latest round of collective bargaining talks with the NHL.

The union said its proposal includes a smaller percentage of revenues for players and an expanded revenue-sharing program to help struggling teams.

The current agreement ends Sept. 15. The NHL has said there will be a lockout if a new agreement isn’t in place by then. The regular season is slated to start Oct. 11.

The New Jersey Devils signed first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau to an entry-level contract.

Matteau, the son of former Rangers forward Stephane Matteau, was the 29th overall pick in June.