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‘I’m saying goodbye’: Maria Sharapova announces tennis retirement

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, who announced her retirement from tennis on Wednesday, will be remembered in many corners of her sport with respect more than affection – and it will not worry her much at all.

The 32-year-old Russian who arrived in America from Sochi with her father in 1994 as refugees from the poison of Chernobyl – with $700 and not a word of English between them – won five grand slam titles and was ranked the highest earner in women’s sport for 11 years in a row. But it is her icy demeanour and failure to build on an early victory over Serena Williams that grab the imagination as much as those fine achievements.

Sharapova, who beat Williams to when just 17, then lost 20 of their following 21 matches, was never universally popular in the locker room. She cared little about courting popularity, but she had the professional respect of her rivals for her single-mindedness and fighting spirit. Petra Kvitova, who beat Sharapova to win Wimbledon in 2011, was one of her few rivals to give her warm praise on Wednesday, describing her as a, “big champion”.

The Czech, who was sidelined from tennis after a knife attack in her apartment in 2016 but has returned to the upper reaches of the game, : “I know how tough it is to come back and play. She has been injured a lot. Of course she wanted probably bigger success than … her body allowed her to have.” She added: “It was a pleasure to be with her on the tour, sharing the court with her. It was always great battles when we play together. So it’s been always nice to share the court with her and I do always have respect to her.”

More than most players on the tennis circuit, Sharapova divided opinion. There were many players who objected to her early return from a drugs ban in 2017, after she had . Sharapova, who protested her innocence, had her two-year ban cut to 15 months, but was never the same player in a comeback that stuttered from one disappointing setback to the next, on the court and off. Her last tournament win was in a low-ranked event in China three years ago.

Long-time problems with her serving shoulder recurred and, towards the end, she was losing to lesser players on a regular basis. There was a suspicion among some of her rivals and critics that she was playing merely for publicity to drive her many commr Kostas Manolas recognises they’re underdogs facing Lazio this weekend.Manolas admits Lazio are having an “extraordinary season”.“We’ll give everything we’ve got to pick up points. It’s a very complicated time for Napoli, but the only way out is tercial interests, although she claimed she played for the love of the game and the competition. That was certainly evident in her trademark screeching and her relentless pursuit of lost causes on court, mainly from the baseline and with a two-handed backhand that was among the best in tennis. She made the most of the weapons she had – including a powerful serve early in her career until injury struck on a regular basis – and was rarely found close to the net. Hers was a game of calculation rather than inspira the battle for exciting Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare.The youngster is rated among the best prospects emerging in French football.LOSC president Gerard Lopez is ready to sell land La Provence says a move to England is likely with United and Spution.

In her last match, a at the Australian Open in January, Sharapova was ranked 373 in the world, a long way from her five separate reigns as world No 1, the first of them in 2005. It was her third first-round exit from a major in a row.

However, five grand slam titles – encompassing all the four venues, on clay, grass and hardcourt – and career earnings of $38.7m tell a story of longevity and persistence, which Sharapova regarded as her greatest asset.

Her rivalry with the younger of the two Williams sister was fierce but doomed – and it defined Sharapova’s struggle. Their last encounter – in the first round of the 2019 US Open, when Sharapova needed pain killers to get on court and could win only two games – summed up the physical decline of the Russian.

“Behind closed doors, 30 minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match,” , her chosen platform to confirm her retirement. “I’ve had multiple surgeries – once in 2008; another procedure last year – and s missing Champions League qualification is a frustrating blow.The Gunners missed their chance after being beaten by Chelsea in the Europa League final.Asked if it was painful to be in the Europa League again, Arsenal midfielder Xhaka said: “Yeah, of pent countless months in physical therapy. Just stepping on to the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory. I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction.”

It always was. Sharapova regularly turned back questions about her looks as irrelevant, and protested that her many fashion shoots did not form the centrepiece of her career.

“Behind the photo shoots and the pretty tennis dresses, [the courts] exposed my imperfections – every wrinkle, every drop of sweat,” she wrote. “They tested my character, my will, my ability to channel my raw emotions into a place where they worked for me instead of against me. Between their lines, my vulnerabilities felt safe.”

Warriors’ Stephen Curry scores 23 in long-awaited return from broken hand

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scored 23 points for Golden State in his anticipated return after missing more than four months with a broken left hand, but the Toronto Raptors beat the Warriors 121-113 Thursday night to clinch a playoff spot.

After being sidelined 58 games, Curry led Golden State out of the tunnel to a big ovation – as loud as his neon sneakers, one pink and one yellow. He missed his first two shots but had three quick assists, including a no-look, behind-the-back dish to Andrew Wiggins. He finished with seven assists in 26 minutes.

The two-time MVP hit a 17-footer for his first basket early in the second quarter, then got a huge reaction for a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc shortly before halftime. He was 3 of 11 from 3-point range for the game.

“It feels like the first day of school pretty much all over again,” the 31-year-old Curry said earlier in the day after shootaround. “It’s kind of just getting back to enjoying playing basketball at the highest level. There’s a process to that.”

Norman Powell scored a career-high 37 points for Toronto, which clinched a playoff berth with the win in a rematch of last year’s finals. The Raptors won that series in six games, finishing with a victory in Golden State’s final game at its old arena in Oakland.

Kyle Lowry added 26 points and 10 assists, and Serge Ibaka had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Raptors, who won at Phoenix on Tuesday night to end a three-game losing streak.

“Knowing that Steph was coming back, we knew it was going to be a great night, a great atmosphere,” Lowry said. “One of the best players in the league was coming back from injury, we wuitting for Bordeaux.The 33-year-old signed for Bordeaux on Tuesday having previously refused to travel on Arsenal’s pre-season tour to the USA. On social media, Koscielny explained, “I have spent wonderful years with this club, nine years during whiere a little more focused and concentrated on him, but coming in here, it’s a great regular season game.”

Damion Lee scored 23 points and Marquese Chriss had 17 points and 12 rebound for the Warriors, who have lost 10 straight at home.

Golden State trailed 62-55 at halftime but took an 85-83 lead in the third on Eric Paschall’s three-pointer – with Curry on the bench, no less.

After Toronto regained the lead, Paschall tied it at 95 on a free throw with 9:39 left in the fourth quarter, but the Raptors countered with five straight points. A three-pointer by Lowry and a powerful dunk from OG Anunoby helped Toronto stretch the lead moments later.

Curry checked back in with 3:51 left and hit a falling layup with two minutes remaining that pulled the Warriors within 113-108. Wiggins added a three-pointer to make it 113-111, but Pascal Siakam made two baskets in 15 seconds to keep Toronto’s lead safe.

Lee stole the ball from Powell with 25.8 seconds left and was fouled by Powell. But he missed both free throws and then two three-point tries after consecutive offensive rebounds.

Curry practiced Monday with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors, then was recalled later in the day in a most anticipated promotion. His return to action came without most of his familiar supporting cast — Draymond Green missed his fourth straight game with a left knee injury, and Klay Thompson remains out with a torn left ACL.

Box-and-one D?

Curry and Lowry chatted recently, and Lowry kidded about pulling a box-and-one defense against Curry again.

“I’m expecting anything,” Curry said. “I talked to Kyle the other day and he joked about it, he might throw it back out there. Obviously last time we played them it was a terrible feeling losing in the finals, but obviously the situation’s different this year, but there’s excitement about what tonight’s going to be, me getting back out there and guys coming off a huge win in Denver, trying to build momentum.”

Tip-ins

Toronted boss Ole Gunnar is eager to get a deal for Leicester City defender Harry Maguire settled.Solskjaer spoke of the England international after their friendly shootout win over AC Milan in Cardiff.”Hopefully, the last little details will be in place to had lost 13 of its last 14 on the Warriors’ home court. … The Raptors are 8-3 on the road v the Western Conference. … The Raptors are the only opponent that swept the season series from the Warriors last season.

Golden State hasn’t won at home since beating Orlando 109-95 on 18 JanuaNew Bordeaux sports chief Hugo Varela has expressed interest in Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud.Off contract in June, Giroud has emerged as a confirmed target for Olympique Lyon and Olympique Marseille.And now Varela has revealed Bordeaux are also keery. They 7-25 at home overall and 2-9 against the Eastern Conference.

Up next

Visit the Kings on Sunday night.

Host the 76ers on Saturday night having lost 115-104 at Philadelphia on 28 January.

Is Jameis Winston the most baffling player in the NFL?

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Jameis Winston, once again, started a game on the worst possible note. For the fifth time this season – and the 10th time in his career – he threw an interception on the game’s opening drive, this one to the Detroit Lions’ Jahlani Tavai. It looked like it was going to be one of those Jameis Winston Games, but it ended up being the other kind: he bounced back to throw four touchdowns in a 38-17 victory for the . It was yet another chapter in the up-and-down career of a quarterback who continues to show tantalizing flashes of being an elite signal-caller while also showing a frightening predisposition for ugly turnovers.

In Sunday’s win, Winston became the first quarterback in history to throw for at least 450 yards in consecutive games. He’s also thrown for over 4,573 yards on the season, which currently puts him ahead of the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott for the league lead, to go alongside his 30 touchdowns. Sounds great, right? Here’s the problem: the interception increased Winston’s season total for picks to 24, with many of those giveaways avoidable. He’s also incredibly sack-prone – he’s been sacked 43 times on the year – and has shown a frustrating inability to learn when he needs to throw the ball away. At no point during his pro career, has he shown any sign of improving all-important ball security.

Ultimately, as much as the Bucs must love games such as the one Winston gave them on Sunday, those strong performances may be making it more difficult for them to figure out what to do at the end of the season. Do the Buccaneers hand an extension to a young quarterback capable of putting up monster numbers? Do they place the one-year franchise tag on him and hope that he becomes more consistent in his sixth year as an NFL starter? Or do they let another team take up his services and find a replacement quarterback in free agency? It’s not like they have had a tremendous amount of success with Winston – he has yet to lead them to the playoffs.

Winston’s troubled history may make that third option more attractive. The Buccaneers drafted Winston out of Florida State University, where he was the subject of a high-profile sexual assault allegation, one that eventually ended with him coming to a (he was not charged over the allegations). There were also several other less serious incidents that occurred during his college career: a citation for shoplifting and a suspension for shouting vulgarities in the campus cafeteria. Tampa Bay took a risk with Winston but hoped that he would keep out of trouble once in the NFL.

He didn’t. In 2018, the NFL suspended him three games after he was accused of groping an Uber driver (Winston was never charged over the incident ). The NFL report : “As a result, the investigation had concluded that Winston violated the Personal C club great quit Roma last summer after feeling isolated in his front office role.”My withdrawal was a bit unexpected, but correct. Now I accepted it, but I needed two years, because it was not my decision. In any case, I never regretted my decisionsonduct Policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.”

The Buccaneers clearly have a conundrum. Winston can win games for the team, he can lose games for the team and there’s a chance that legal or personal issues could prevent him from taking the field altogether.

In a league where starting quarterback options are plentifuLoftus-Cheek has revealed how he has endured a tough season.The 24-year-old has been sidelined since May with an Achilles injury, but he has recently returned to first-team training.”Tough times are definitely hard to stay motivated,” he told the clul, it would be an easy decision for Tampa Bay to move on and let another team take on the risks. That doesn’t describe the modern NFL, however, where teams seem to be constantly installing and discarding proven mediocrities. Because of this, there must be an temptation within the organization to stick with the Devil They Know and hope that he keeps coming up with games like the one had had on Sunday.

. After Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown at least one interception against 31 NFL teams. In other words, . In fact, in what was likely his last game at MetLife Stadium, he ended up throwing three to various Dolphins defenders. Manning also, however, threw two touchdowns and led his team to a 36-20 victory, which was well appreciated by the hometown fans who rewarded him with a standing ovation.

. Congratulations to every fantasy football player who had Drake on their roster: he managed to score four touchdowns in a 38-24 Cardinals win over the Cleveland Browns. As you can imagine, Drake also accumulated plenty of carries (22) and a ton of yardage (137) in an Arizona victory that essentially sealed Cleveland’s playoff fate.

“Walking in here with Stretch (assistant to the head coach, John Streicher) I said one idiot was going to ask me that question” – Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel, LeShaun Sims’ punt return at the end of the Titans’ 24-21 loss to the Houston Texans.

You can’t blame Vrabel for coming into the press conference a little bit heated. His team’s record, after all, fell to 8-6 thus putting the Titans in second place in the AFC South behind the 9-5 Texans. To be fair to the reporter in question, it wasn’t an entirely ridiculous question, as the Titans would have had better field possession, and slightly more time on the clock, had Sims not returned the punt during their final drive of the game. Vrabel, however, had a point by emphasizing that was hardly the key play in what ended up being a frustratingly close loss, one that puts their .

The Cincinnati Bengals’ execution – or lack thereof– on this onside kick was emblematic of their 34-13 loss to the New England Patriots. The Patriots improved to 11-3 thanks to the general ineptitude of the 1-13 Bengals, who are still successfully pursuing the No1 pick in next year’s draft. Given how poorly the Bengals have been playing all season, it feels baffling that the Patriots would decide that they would need to resort to underhand methods to defeat them.

Or, it would be baffling if this were any other football franchise we were talking about. Before the game, footage of a Patriots employee videotaping last week’s game between the Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. The videographer, who is heard sheepishly offering to delete the potentially-illicit footage, has been suspended. The NFL is currently investigating the incident and suggests that this story is not going away any time soon.

— The Oakland Raiders played their final game at Oakland Coliseum before the franchise relocates to Las Vegas next season. It was not the storybook ending that the hometown fans were hoping for. The Jacksonville Jaguars snapped a five-game losing streak with a 20-16 comeback win. Who knows, however, maybe there was something fitting about the Coliseum hosting .

— The Baltimore Ravens on the back of a ridiculous performance by MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson, who broke Michael Vick’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Jackson now has put together 1,103 yards on the grounds to Napoli on Sunday made it four winless friendlies in a row for the Reds.But Dutch star van Dijk believes the return of the club’s stars, including Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Salah Mane, will be important for Sunday’s Community Sh to go along with his 2,889 passing yards and, frighteningly enough, he’s only in his second year in the NFL.

— Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears ended up doing the exact opposite of clinching on Sunday. With their 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, combined with the Minnesota Vikings’ 39-10 win over the increasingly hapless Los Angeles Chargers, the Bears were officially eliminated from postseason contention.

— The Philadelphia Eagles beat Washington 37-27. They now have a 7-7 record, which keeps alive hopes that whoever wins the NFC East – and gets home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs – could end up having a winning record at the end of the regular season. Their divisional rivals, the Cowboys, are also 7-7 after they beat the Rams on Sunday.

— Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner made this athletic grab to intercept Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen. It was among three interceptions that Allen gifted Seattle in the 30-24 Seahawks victory. It was a dazzling reminder of just how great a defensive player Wagner is, which made it even rougher when he later . There was better news for the Seahawks later in the afternoon, as the Atlanta Falcons’ 29-22 upset road win over the San Francisco 49ers meant that Seattle ended the day as the top seed in the NFC.

NBA 2019-20 predictions: The rise of Los Angeles and the era of the super duos

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This season will be defined by …

How things . The Lakers brought in LeBron James last season and still missed the postseason, so this time around . They had hoped to add Kawhi Leonard and become the new Golden State Warriors. Then the Clippers . Now the Lakers may not even be the best team in their own building.

The end of the superteam era means . The star-studded paradigm favored by the Celtics, Heat and Warriors over the last decade has given way to a two-star model co-opted by more than a dozen teams. Increased league-wide parity promises an improved nightly product and a much-needed injection of suspense at the business end.

The regular season will mirror the offseason, with the NBA’s best duos dominating the headlines in the same way they did this summer. Leonard and George with the Clippers, James and Davis with the Lakers and James Harden and Russell Westbrook with the Rockets are just a few of the superstar combinations that are sure to own the months to come.

. Every team is one bad spill away from watching their championship dreams swirl down the drain. Take the 2019 NBA finals, for example, when Golden State lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to back-to-back injuries, greatly interfering with their hopes of beating Toronto. Talent is nothing without health.

Rate the NBA’s handling of the China situation out of 10

If NBA commissioner Adam Silver is about resisting China’s demands to force Daryl Morey out from his role as GM for the Houston Rockets for in Hong Kong, feel free to bump this up to a 3/10 for taking at least one clear stand. Strike me as not giving the commissioner the benefit of the doubt on this one.

. The controversy has in many ways awakened the broader public to the scale of Chinese censorship – and the degree to which US corporations are willing to play along with it in pursuit of their bottom lines. The NBA has shown it’s no different than in recent years, but Silver has done an admirable job by standing steadfastly behind his players.

The NBA took a benign tweet and turned it into an international fiasco. Representatives at every level of the NBA overreacted, as LeBron, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and Silver all scolded Morey and created a media firestorm.

. The NBA learned that it can’t have it both ways. In Silver’s first statement he toed the line, angering many people who thought he was supporting a totalitarian regime which happens to generate huge revenues for the league. After the backlash, he released another statement clarifying that the league supports free expression, later adding that Money won’t be disciplined. With millions on the line, Silver was in a tough position – but he ended up doing the right thing.

Which team had the best off-season?

If were gettea have announced they recorded a loss of nearly £100million for the year ending June 30.The loss was revealed in the club’s latest financial results but, after two profitable years, the Blues insisted they are still compliant with UEFA’s Financial ing a healthy Durant alongside Kyrie Irving, they would have a case. But Durant’s likely out for the entire season, so it’s clearly the Clippers for luring Leonard and George to California.

could go down as the best summer for any NBA team since the Miami Heat signed Chris Bosh and James in 2010. The addition of a lengthy superstar wing player who can create for himself or his teammates off the dribble, make threes and play lockdown defense would have been enough to lift the longtime Los Angeles afterthoughts into the title conversation. Adding two of them, while managing to retain their depth, makes them overnight frontrunners in a loaded Western Conference.

It wouldbe utterly insane to argue in favor of any team other than . Leonard’s decision to skip town on the Raptors and link up with the Clippers’ veterans was a win from the jump. The surprise addition of George took things over the edge, separating their summer from the rest of the pack in one of the biggest off-seasons in recent memory.

secured the biggest free-agent on the market in Leonard and also acquired George. That’s enough to transform a team that have never made it past the second round of the playoffs in their 49-year franchise history into instant title contenders. Leonard led the Raptors to their first-ever championship last season, perhaps he could do the same thing this year with the former laughing stocks of the league.

One bold prediction

The than they did last year despite the losses of Irving and Al Horford. The Celtics won’t be able to replace everything Horford gave them but Kemba Walker could end up being a better fit for the Celtics than Irving, even if he’s somewhat of a downgrade at point guard.

. The No 2 pick in the 2017 draft has resurfaced with the Pelicans after a pair of injury-hit seasons with the Lakers and he should thrive away from the drama and pressure of playing alongside LeBron. New Orleans has some interesting pieces in place, and it all should add up to plenty of opportunities for Ball to shine in his natural point guard role.

Many are expecting the Nets’ newest member to cause a talented team to crumble from the inside out. But I think Irving learned a lot about himself and the potential pitfalls that leaders face in the locker room and in front of the media last season. Irving has close friends around him in Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan and a strong leadership in Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks. We can expect Irving to play just as well on the court and comport himself much better off it.

. Sure, Durant bolted and Thompson is out at least until February with a torn anterior cemouth captain Simon Francis has hailed the work ethic of manager Eddie Howe.Francis is one of those who have made the journey from League One with Howe.He told the Daily Express: “I did think I would love to be a coach and do it the way he managesruciate ligament, leaving the Warriors with a 47.5-point scoring hole. But Stephen Curry is in top shape and D’Angelo Russell is awfully talented too. Not to mention, the team needed a challenge after five-straight NBA finals appearances and three championships. No more going through the motions.

Rookie of the year

has this one locked up if – and it turns out this could be a big if – he’s healthy and doesn’t miss more time once he’s back from the knee surgery that has . Expect the New Orleans Pelicans to be extremely cautious with the Future of the Franchise, but here’s hoping that we aren’t denied what could be a rookie season of the ages.

Zion Williamson’s bully ball won’t immediately translate to the NBA, so I expect the No 1 pick to endure some growing pains as a rookie. He’s also surrounded by an intriguing mix of young and veteran talent, which could make it difficult for him to stand out even if he plays 30 minutes a night. Instead look to , who put up PlayStation-like numbers at Murray State and will get plenty of opportunity running the point for the rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies.

A rare lockhe’d like to sign Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior.Vinicius has battled for minutes this season, with Ronaldo making an attempt to sign him on-loan over the summer.He told Fox Sports Brasil: “He is a great player, he made a fantastic last season in a season that is otherwise impossible to predict. Williamson’s game is built for New Orleans, a team full of young guards who are sure to get up and down the floor. If preseason and Summer League serve as any indication, Williamson will be productive and efficient every night.

. causing problems down the line, Williamson should make an immediate impact on the league when he returns to action. He’s strong, agile and unstoppable around the hoop.

MVP

. If Zach Lowe , who am I to argue? The Bucks star’s main rival should be Davis, but it’s hard to get the votes when you’re on the same team as LeBron James.

. The best shooter in the history of basketball first earned the NBA’s highest individual honor in 2015, then became the first-ever unanimous winner in 2016. Only Curry’s willingness to accept a scaled-back role to accommodate the addition of Durant loosened his stranglehold on the trophy. But with Durant out of the picture and Thompson sidelined all or part of the year with an ACL injury, Golden State will be relying on Curry more than ever – and his numbers will reflect it.

The Lakers wanted as badly as he wanted them. The worst kept secret in the NBA paired Davis with one of the best passers in league history, LeBron James. While they have two of the most transcendent basketball players in history, the Lakers are still top heavy and they’ll need career years from Davis and James. If the Lakers are to make good on their lofty expectations, Davis must be the best player in Los Angeles – and the league.

. We all know the saying ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ Well, I believe that saying – gender notwithstanding – now applies to a certain 6ft 8in, 250lbs player from Akron. He missed the playoffs last season with the Lakers after eight-straight finals appearances. Not reaching the postseason was embarrassing for the four-time MVP, and you better believe he’ll be playing with a chip on his behemoth shoulders this time around.

Western Conference playoff teams

LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs.

LA Clippers, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder.

LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks.

LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs.

Eastern Conference playoff teams

, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic.

Philadelphia 76ers, , Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets.

Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors.

Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers.

Western Conference finals

LA Clippers 4-3 LA Lakers.

LA Clippers 4-2 Denver Nuggets.

LA Clippers 4-2 Denver Nuggets.

LA Clippers 4-3 Golden State Warriors.

Eastern Conference finals

Milwaukee Bucks 4-2 Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers 4-3 Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee Bucks 4-3 Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers 4-2 Milwaukee Bucks.

NBA finals

. The Bucks were the best team in the East last season but they lost to Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in the Conference finals. Leonard’s in the West now, which means their biggest challengers in the East are an oddly-constructed Philadelphia 76ers team and whatever the post-Kyrie Boston Celtics end up being. The bad news? They may end up facing Leonard again eventually. The Clippers will have a tougher road to the finals, but if they make it they will have a clear advantage over whoever comes out of the East.

. The superteam era may be over but Philadelphia may have the closest thing resembling one. The Sixers lost Jimmy Butler in free agency but added Josh Richardson and the still-underrated Al Horford to a lineup that includes Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. This is a team that’s built their identity around size, versatility and defense and one of the few outfits equipped to counter the Clippers’ two superstar wings. One year after pushing Kawhi and the Raptors to the limit in a , look for Philadelphia to go further and capture their first NBA title since 1983.

With the Warriors’ dominance drawing to a close, this season feels like one of the hardest to predict. The star power is heavy across the league but so are the issues. The Clippers, Warriors and Nets have injury issues, the Lakers and Bucks have short rotations and the 76ers and Nuggets are still green. Equipped with the best stars and the strongest supporting cast, the Clippers are essentially my pick by default.

. Leonard and George are going to be an incredible duo, and they’re going to be hungry. Coached by Doc Rivers, this team is going to go far. As for the 76ers, it’s quite tough to bet against a team that added Horford to a roster with Simmons and Embiid. It will be an exciting series, with the Clippers coming out on top.

Kyrgios clashes with tennis authorities again in US Open row over shirt message

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Nick Kyrgios courted more controversy at the US Open before his second-round match against Antoine Hoang had begun.

The Australian, already in hot water this week , was told to fold his collar down because the motto written underneath it, “Just Do You”, apparently contravened the rules.

Kyrgios called the match supervisor and asked what the rule was. “I’m not going to play until you show me the rule,” he told the supervisor. “I want to know the rule. I want to see the rule. I’ve seen shirts worse.”

He also had another of his familiar tantrums in the third set after the umpire allowed a Hoang challenge having previously called game.

The 24-year-old demanded the supervisor came back onto the court to explain that rule as well.

“I’d won the game. He called game then my opponent challenged. I thought that wasn’t right,” he said. “[The collar] I think it was a misunderstanding. I think they thought it was a slogan but it wasn’t. I knew the supervisor was wrong, but I just folded my collar down.”

The 24-year-old was later told he could di Cutrone.Nuno was happy with the former AC Milan striker for their Europa League win over Pyunik.He said, “Positive performance, as already with Leicester. “Monday will be tough, Manchester United will put us to the test, I’m happy with the ethics ansplay the logo in future matchesEvening Standard says the 19-year-old, who can operate in midfield or defence, is currently on loan at German side RB Leipzig but he has struggled for action.Ampadu has made just five appearances for them this season and it has alerted other clubs to at Flushing Meadows.

He defeated French wildcard 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, and will next meet Andrey Rublev of Russia. Kyrgios already faces two ATP investigations for his conduct during and after his previous two matches and New York.

On Wednesday he called the ATP was long loan.Sky Sports News says a move back to Bramall Lane has been agreed and will be confirmed this week.The United keeper spent last season on loan with the Blades and helped them earn promotion to the Premier League. Henderson is expected to sig“pretty corrupt” for fining him $117,000 for his outburst in Cincinnati a fortnight ago, then back-tracked in accused the governing body of having “double standards” following his first-round win.

Second seed Rafael Nadal moved into the third round after Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew ahead of their night session encounter with a shoulder injury.

Alexander Zverev came through yet another gruelling five-setter to reach the third round, coming through against American Frances Tiafoe, just two days after going the distance against Radu Albot.

The Raptors had every advantage against the Warriors. It didn’t matter

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The Raptors could not have asked for a better shot at taking a commanding lead. During Game 2, the Warriors had to deal with various combinations of the following obstacles: no Kevin Durant; DeMarcus Cousins battling back from acould be on the move from Everton in January.The Liverpool Echo says with the January transfer window fast approaching, and with both youngsters coming to the end of their current contracts with the club in 2020, a potential to go out on loan for fir torn quad; Stephen Curry struggling with the flu; Andre Iguodala hobbled; Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney leaving the game with injuries; a raucous home crowd; a 12-point second-quarter deficit; Drake; shooters unable to buy a basket in the final five minutes.

. Golden State won Game 2, 109-104, to tie up the series at one game apiece as the team head to the West Coast. It would be unkind to say the Raptors blew it, but rarely are finals match-ups so weighted in one side’s favor. Only a vintage performance from the Splash Brothers, and added a further nine assists, could spur the Warriors to victory. Golden State ripped off an 18-0 run to open the third-quarter, putting them into a lead they retained for the rest of the game.

Talk of the Warriors’ lack of shooting depth – a source of discussion all season – grew after . Without Durant they were missing that third shooter, detractors claimed. It was hokum: having Curry on the court is like having three shooters. Having Klay is like having an extra two. No play better sums up the breadth of Curry’s range and the pressure that it puts on a defense than this:

There were 34 seconds remaining in the third-quarter with a dwindling shot clock. Draymond Green hit Curry in stride, the shooter some 30-feet from the basket. For most, it would be just a hair out of range. Not Curry. Norman Powell rushed out to defend, and with just a hint of daylight, Curry rose, drilling a three. And, just like that, the lead was 10. Some shots are worth more than mere points: they drain the energy out of the opposition.

No one has the ability to demoralize an opponent in the way Curry does. He is the Warriors’ offensive fulcrum, and helps democratize the offense. Other superstars crave the ball in their hands. Get out of the way and let me do work. And that’s fine because it works – just look at Kawhi Leonard for Toronto. But Curry’s selflessness gives the Warriors extra zest.

Meanwhile, once Green or Iguodala or any other initiator of the offense gets the ball in his hands, the Warriors slip into pass-happy Warriorsgasms. You know the kind: Curry and Thompson darting here then there. The ball whipping around the court at a break-neck pace. It sows confusion. The Warriors leverage that confusion into easy baskets.Newcastle United.The Irons lost 3-2, after conceding the first three goals of the game.He said, “It’s a bad result and it is a performance that isn’t West Ham like.”We need a reality check and need to know we need to start getting points on the board Defenses jump up, then sag off, then play catch up. At that pace, with that level of intellect, the Warriors almost always find a good shot. The Warriors shot 38% from three-point range in Game 2, the Raptors 28%. Golden State made two more threes. It was the difference.

None of this is rocket science. Curry is the best shooter who has ever lived, whether you go by the numbers or the eye test. Thompson is in the top-five. Reasonable minds can disagree on where he falls in the pecking order, but he’s closer to the second spot than he is the fifth.

Now the Warriors return home for two games. Hold serve, and they will be one win away from a third-straight championship, their fourth in five years. “It was a great win. We got to go home and protect our home floor.” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “We’ll see about all the injuries, but I’m very proud of our team and in particular all the guys off the bench.”

Health looks to be the only thing that can hold Golden State back. How severe is Thompson’s hamstring injury? Even if he plays – – will he be able to scoot around screens with the same kind of vigor we are accustomed to? What about Durant’s calf? And what about Looney’s chest?

Looney has into a fully-fledged starter through the course of the season. On a team slammed up against the salary cap, that added depth has been invaluable. The Warriorsester City are casting a wide net to find a long-term replacement for Fernandinho.City boss Pep Guardiola is driving the search.Rodri of Atletico Madrid, Tanguy Ndombele of Lyon and Real Madrid’s Marcos Llorente make up the list of three potential mi can win at the highest level without Durant, they have proven that. But they can’t pull any of the other pieces out of this carefully constructed symphony. Their season teeters on a game-health Jenga: pull Thompson or Looney or Iguodala out of the line-up for an extended period of time and the whole thing could collapse. Golden State can withstand losing Durant because Curry, Thompson and Green are just that special. But to win the title they cannot afford to lose any more pieces.

Rory McIlroy and formidable field head to Hawaii for 2019 curtain-raiser

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Should Rory McIlroy’s occasionally agonising wait for Masters glory end in April much of the focus will be on his long journey from the outskirts of Belfast to Augusta triumph.

In the here and now the 29-year-old has made the hardly inconsequential jaunt to Hawaii to begin a season he hopes will be notable for the donning of a Green Jacket. Few would grudge McIlroy that moment.

The idyllic backdrop means the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua could be regarded as a soft start. A glance at the field suggests otherwise: Dustin Johnson, , Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Francesco Molinari and Justin Thomas join McIlroy aor transfer interest this summer.AS says Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and La Liga giants Atletico Madrid are all eyeing a potential move for Suso this summer.Suso, 25, made 14 appearances for the Reds between 2012-15 but has rebuilt his career at AC Milat the Plantation Course from Thursday.

Speculation Tiger Woods would join the party proved unfounded, with Woods opting to extend his off-season. Justin Rose is another notable absentee.

McIlroy is in Hawaii as part of his increased focus on US tournaments and his absence will inevitably be keenly felt as the European Tour’s annual desert swing begins later this month. Looking at key details for the PGA Tour season reveals the chasm that now exists between operations on either side of the Atlantic.

The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup bonus pool will double this year to $70m (£61m). A new rewards system applicable before the FedEx play-offs get underway will distribute another $10m. This weekend alone the winner will collect $1.3m.

In proving such riches do not come for free, the PGA Tour is poised to follow what has become a European custom by seeking live interviews with players during rounds. With participation not compulsory the response, inevitably, will be mixed.

The same applies to changes to the rules, as took effect for the amateur and professional game from 1 January. Officials from the United States Association held a meeting with players in Hawaii in a bid to smooth the process but a degree of uncertainty remains.

“I’ve tried to spend a lot of time looking over them,” said Thomas, the world No 4. “Especially a handful are quite a bit different and I think you’ll see it across the field, especially these first couple of months, everybody’s going to be calling a rules official in as much possible. So, unfortunately, play is probably not going to be too fast.” Whisper it but this was not really the desired impact.

Among matters to be amended are time permitted to search for a ball – now three minutes instead of five – the taking of drops from knee rather than shoulder height and permission to putt with flag still in a hole.

“If I have an eight footer to win a tournament, I mean no offence, I can’t really take myself seriously if I kept the pin in,” Thomas said. “It just would be such a weird picture and like on TV me celebrating, the pin is in and my ball’s like up against it. If I have a putt I’m trying to make, that thing’s coming out.”

In proving he is never far from the news, Woods has been a topic of discussion as the prospect of two more stagings of “The Match” has been raised. Woods faced Phil Mickelson for a $9m prizl says Palace are among the English clubs to have checked on prolific Hungary striker Nikolic.The 32-year old is a free agent after his contract finished with Chicago Fire in the MLS.Nikolic won the MLS Golden Boot in 2017 and finished a three year se in Las Vegas in November, with reports claiming similar matches this year and next – possibly featuring more players.

Golf Digest suggested close to a million viewers paid the $19.95 fee for the event hosted by Turner Sports, a matter complicated by the need for refunds because the stream stopped working mid-match.

“I think the viewership was pretty large,” said Mark Steinberg, Woods’s manager. “nton appreciates the support of Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino.The pair share the same agent.“When I came to England, Firmino sent me a message wishing me good luck,” he said.“He said if I needed anything, I just had to talk to him.”When I score or Take away the glitch and it was pretty big. That’s certainly one of the measures of success. You have to look at what the internet was doing and seemed like people were quite interested.

“We – and that’s a very big we when I say the Woods camp, the Mickelson camp, the Turner camp – have a lot to talk about. We don’t have any specifics on what it might look like, whether it’s Tiger-Phil, two others, four others.”

Los Angeles FC mark arrival with Hollywood ending to open new stadium

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On a grimy corner of downtown , LAFC were selling a dream from the unpromising surroundings of a warehouse adjacent to a freeway underpass.

Construction had only just begun on the 20-month project to create a new 22,000-seater stadium on the site of the former LA Memorial Sports Arena, and the freshly-launched club needed something to show potential supporters other than a building plot.

A couple of miles away from their home ground in-the-making, LAFC created their Experience Center. The surroundings were underwhelming, but the message was overwhelming. Visiting Angelinos received a thorough briefing on the club’s plans and were able to envisage the new $350m home ground twill monitor Nicolas Pepe’s progress in training before deciding if he will face Newcastle United this weekend.The £72m signing did not play in Sunday’s loss to Barcelona, with Emery confirming he stayed behind to train in London.Speaking after the hrough 3D models and virtual reality films.

“I took the tour and I was hooked. I paid my $100 deposit straightaway,” fan Hector Marrujo reminisces as he took his inaugural journey to the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday.

“I’m Mexican so I’ve always supported Club America, but I never likefielder Sean Longstaff has dismissed critics of his form this season.The North-Shields born midfielder has drawn criticism from some as this season’s performances fail to hit the heights of the 2018-19 campaign.The 22-year-old reveals that he is welld the Galaxy – even the name ‘Galaxy’ has always seemed lame to me – and LAFC are actually in the city. I don’t have to travel to Carson, there’s an LA zip code. But what really got me was this is something new and exciting. There’s a vision with young, exciting players.”

The 17,500 season ticket holders who took that leap of faith were rewarded on Sunday evening, as the LAFC dream became a reality.

Downtown Los Angeles’ first professional open-air sporting venue since Dodger Stadium opened its doors in 1962 was not graced by a classic opening fixture, although there was an ear-splitting finale after captain Laurent Ciman’s stoppage time free-kick was haplessly spilled by Seattle Sounders keeper Stefan Frei.

It may have been a slightly comical opening goal at the stadium after LAFC had largely huffed and puffed in their attempts to break down the 2016 Cup winners. But that’s five wins out of seven Western Conference games now. There has been no teething period for Bob Bradley’s side.

“It’s nice not to inaugurate the stadium with a 0-0. Maybe someone was looking down on us!” said a beaming Bradley afterwards.

However, this was about more than 90 minutes. After playing their opening six games away from home (although one of those was the LA derby), this was the day where it felt that Major League Soccer’s newest franchise had truly arrived.

Well, it was more touchdown than take-off after Navy Seals parachuted onto the turf carrying the match ball. The expected pre-match palava continued with fireworks, a fan-led rendition of the national anthem and, oh yes, co-owner Will Ferrell carrying a trained falcon called Olly onto the pitch sporting an LAFC headdress.

The gold and black clad fanbase didn’t need any fancy gimmicks to capture their attention, though. Whether it’s the geographical advantage that LAFC possess over neighbors Galaxy (who are 10 miles away in the outlying city of Carson) or the idea of a new, fresh and exciting venture, supporters have become instantly invested in a team boasting a history of just seven competitive games.

The rowdy safe standing terraced North Stand had an air of the Bundesliga to it, as members of the ‘3253’ supporters group bounced and waved frantically to the rhythm of a bass drum orchestra.

Although there was little slickness on show against Seattle, LAFC’s open, attacking philosophy will surely attract even more supporters after Bradley’s men have averaged more than two goals per game during the season’s formative stages.

It comes at the cost of defensive rigidity. Yes, LAFC registered a third clean sheet of the campaign, but they shipped 13 in the other four games. There is a definite air of susceptibility to the back three: the Sounders spurning two glorious opportunities within the opening 10 minutes to silence the excitable home crowd.

But in a front three of Diego Rossi, Marco Urena and Carlos Vela, LAFC possess an attack arguably good enough to rival reigning MLS ch revelation in the new book of BVB chief Hans-Joachim Watzke – ‘REAL LIEBE – end of Leben mit dem BVB’.The Reds manager is quoted, stating: “As a lifesaver when the club really needs my help. “Why wouldn’t I do it? It’s just nice to get that chance. ampions Toronto. Vela, in particular, shines bright in his ability to persistently find pockets of space and dictate proceedings in the final third.

Bradley said: “We’re not Barcelona yet. Our football’s not perfect, but we go out every game and try to play. Every team has to come up with its identity and its way of playing, but I think it’s clear we’ll try to continue going in that direction.”

General manager John Thorrington deserves enormous credit for putting together such an attacking line-up. LAFC’s 30-strong ownership group of Hollywood and Malaysian business, sporting and entertainment heavyweights have clearly shown their acumen in building the club from scratch over the last four years after the collapse of Chivas left a gap in the southern California market.

But Thorrington, the former US international, crucially avoided the temptation to follow Galaxy’s example of bringing household names to Los Angeles. Instead, this is a project more akin to Atlanta United, with young, hungry, accomplished players from Central and South America.

Although Galaxy’s star turn Zlatan Ibrahimovic has proved to be a media darling since arriving in California and inflicted such a memorable wound in the inaugural derby between the two clubs, LAFC already boast the infrastructure to challenge their neighbors in the long-term.

Encouragingly, they’re only at the start of the journey.

NFL seeks $2m from Cowboys owner Jones after clashes over Elliott and Goodell

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The NFL is exploring options to get more than $2m in reimbursement for legal fees from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones over Commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension, as well as court costs for running back , said a person with knowledge of the situation.

Many owners were consulted on seeking restitution, including members of the finance committee, according to AP’s source. Some of the finance committee members are on the compensation committee that was at the center of what became a legal back-and-forth over Goodell’s deal.

The attempt at restitution is rooted in a 1997 resolution that states owners can seek repayment for legal fees if a fellow owner is responsible for getting them involved in legal action.

The Cowboys declined to comment on the owners’ actions.

Jones’ attempt to derail Goodell’s extension, which came after Elliott was suspended over domestic violence allegations, led to a volley of threatening letters from lawyers for both sides. After eventually relenting, Jones said after the owners meetings in December that he got what he wanted with an agreement to consider changes to the power of the commissioner’s role taptain Vincent Kompany said goodbye to the club’s fans in style.City players and fans were celebrating their domestic treble success with a parade in Manchester.It allowed Kompany, who is leaving to join Anderlecht as player-manager, a chance to bid hrough the league’s constitution. Jones denied that his attempt to scuttle the contract was tied to Elliott’s suspension, but made repeated references to Goodell’s power to punish players.

With Jones and Goodell in the same room for a news conference after the December meetings, the commissioner said he didn’t take Jones’ objections to the extension ach Antonio Conte.Named new Inter coach last week, Conte is eager to see his newly inheritetest with Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final on Wednesday.The Reds beat Spurs twice in the Premier League this season, with a 2-1 scoreline in both games.And Klopp is expecting another cagey affair at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.”Id squad strengthened.RSI Sport says Inter have approached Arsenal for Xhaka and talks have already kicked off over a fee for the midfielder.The Switzerland intpersonally. Goodell also denied assuring Jones that Elliott wouldn’t be suspended before announcing the punishment in August.Jones and the Cowboys were supportive of Elliott’s lawsuit, which was led by the players’ union and resulted in federal court hearings in three states over a span of two months. The suit eventually failed and Elliott served the suspension.

USA World Cup winners Rapinoe and Morgan join Mata’s charity wage project

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Two members of the World Cup-winning USA women’s team of 2015 have signed up to for footballers to donate 1% of their wages to charity.

Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan have joined Manchester United’s Mata and the Bayern Munich defender to Common Goal, which supports global football initiatives for disadvantaged children.

“Myself and Alex felt it was important that women’s football was represented from the outset,” said Rapinoe, a midfielder with Seattle Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. “We’re really looking forward to building the movement with Juan and Mats from here.”

Rapinoe and Morgan each have more than 120 caps and have played in two World Cup finals, suffering defeat by Japan in 2011 before beating the same opponents four years later. Morgan, a striker with Orlando Pride, was recently .

“As the global profile of women’s football continues to grow, players like myself and Megan will have an increasing number of opportunities to use our status for good,” Morgan said. “I’m thrilled to join Common Goal at this early stage and hope we can inspire many others to become part of the movement.”

Mata is aiming to put together an XI of professional footballers for the project, which is overseen by , a group of more than 120 local charities.

“In Europe, we’ve just experienced a record-breaking transfer window,” Hummels said. “I think some fans are starting to feel alie Ballon d’Or.The Barcelona star was this evening named the Ballon d’Or winner for 2019 – for the sixth time.Yet Bordas feels the gap with Juventus ace Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five, should be far greater.”MessDavid Silva as one of the best players he has seen.The Spaniard managed his 400th game for City, helping them to a 3-1 win at Bournemouth.The fact that Silva has maintained his excellent standards for nearly a decade at City is unbelievable to his mai should have ten Ballon d’Or [prizes]enated from the gameo win the Premier League title with Liverpool.The Swiss proved his worth to the Reds after capitalising on a rare start by scoring in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Everton.Speaking after the game, Shaqiri said: “Obviously I am really happy. Especially aga in light of these kinds of developments. But as more players join Common Goal, we hope to show the world that football still has its heart in the right place.”

Serena Williams confirms pregnancy and expects her first child ‘this fall’

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is pregnant with her first child, her spokesperson has confirmed.

The tennis star hinted at the good news when she posted a photo of herself on ain coach Robert Moreno hailed Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga after victory over Romania.For the fourth successive international match, Kepa Arrizabalaga was selected over David de Gea as the starting goalkeeper and Robert Moreno has explained Snapchat wearing a swimsuit and revealing what appeared to be a large baby bump with the caption “20 weeks” on Wednesday. The snap was deleted less than a half hour later.

top-four after beating Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday.The Red Devils moved up to fifth with the 2-1 victory, taking them five points behind Chelsea.”The top four is in sight but we need to look after our own results and keep trying to get

However, Williams’ team confirmed the implications of the photo later in the day.

“I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall,” a spokesperson for Williams told the Guardian by email.

The Women’s Association, which listed Williams as scheduled to enter next month’s Madrid Open as recently as Monday, said they had yet to be contacted by anyone from the American’s team regarding her status.

“We have not been informed, nor do we have confirmation,” a tour spokesperson told the Guardian. “We will let you know once we have further information.”

Williams, 35, to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in December. The announcement left the sport’s chattering class wondering to what degree she was looking ahead to life after tennis.

She answered that speculation with brio at the Australian Open, capturing her 23rd major singles title without dropping a set, to eclipse Steffi Graf’s record for grand slam titles in the Open era and regain the No1 rankingteta does not need his help.The Spaniard left Guardiola and his job as City’s assistant coach to join Arsenal as their manager midway through the season.As the two sides prepared to meet on Wednesday, with the match since cancelled due to coronavirus she had ceded in the fall to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.

But she has been inactive since her win over elder sister Venus in the final at Melbourne Park. Last month, Williams pulled out of Indian Wells and Miami, citing a left knee injury. That enabled Kerber to retake the top ranking, though Serena is assured a return to No1 in next week’s table when the points from last year’s Porsche Grand Prix drop off.

The announcement comes one week after Victoria Azarenka, the former world No1 and two-time grand slam champion, announced she will return to the tour after 14-month layoff that included the birth of her son, Leo, in December.

Williams’ win at Melbourne Park made her the oldest player to win a major singles championship in the Open era, breaking a record she set herself last year – and again the year before that. She has won grand slam titles in her teens (one), 20s (12) and 30s (10, more than triple the previous mark). No one could think less of Williams, now closer to 40 than 30, if she called it a career.

But there’s equal if not more reason to believe Williams has unfinished business.

She remains tantalizingly close to the all-time grand slam record held by Australia’s Margaret Court, whose 24 major titles were split between the amateur and professional eras. She still plays at an extraordinary high level, having won 125 of her 138 singles matches since Wimbledon 2014. And while there are no shortage of young lions on the tour, among them Garbiñe Muguruza, Karolína Plíšková and Madison Keys, none has offered a sustained challenge of Williams’ dominance the way Monica Seles swiftly ended Graf’s stranglehold on the sport.

Nor would Williams be the first mother to excel on the tour.

Kim Clijsters was already a borderline Hall of Famer when she retired abruptly at 23, having won the 2005 US Open and spent 19 weeks atop the women’s rankings. But the Belgian was even better after a 28-month layoff that included the birth of her daughter, winning once more at Flushing Meadows as an unseeded wild card in only her third tournament back. That made her the first mother to win a major singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980, setting the stage for a final act that included two more grand slam titles and a return to the No1 ranking.

Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker scores 70 points to create a piece of NBA history

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Devin Booker is only 20 and already has a place alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and just a few others in history.

Booker scored 70 points,becoming the sixth diopa League in its old European Cup Winners’ Cup guise in 1998 — the same year he won the League Cup, the Super Cup and, of course, the World Cup — is adamant he’d rather be in it to win it every year than making up the numbers in the continent’s fferent player to reach that total, but the Boston Celtics outlasted the 130-120 on Friday night.

David Thompson, David Robinson and Elgin Baylor are the NBA’s only other 70-point scorers. Baylor also held the previous record against the Celtics with 64 points in Minneapolis for the Lakers on November 8, 1959.

“This doesn’t happen very often especially against a really good defensive team like the Boston Celtics,” Booker said. “It’s a zone. It’s kind of hard to explain. I’ve been in those zones before, but never to this extent.”

Isaiah Thomas scored 34 points for Boston, which won its third straight and avenged its buzzer-beater loss in Phoenix earlier this month.

The rematch was dominated early by the Celtics, as they hit eight 3-pointers during a 37-point second quarter to grow their lead as high as 26 points.

Booker then scored 51 after half-time, incnship to become their official training kit partner from the 2019/20 season, reports, /.The Premier League club initially struck a four-year deal with AXA in 2018 which saw the insurance firm become a global partner, with the expanded contract coveriluding 28 in the final period as his team-mates fed him almost every time down the floor.

Coach Earl Watson even used a pair of timeouts in the closing minutes to get him extra touches. As Booker’s point total climbed, he even began to get cheers from some Boston fans. The entire display – in particular Phoenix’s attempts to prolong the game – tweaked some Celtics players.

“It was weird what they were doing,” Thomas said. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It is what it is. But I mean it was obvious what they were trying to do. They were trying to get him the most points possible. Hats off to him. He played a hell of a game.”

Whatever the perception of others, Watson made no apologies.

“I’m not coming into any arena just happy to be there, trying to be liked. I don’t care about being liked. I really don’t care to be honest with you,” he said. “We’re trying to build something with attacker Michail Antonio was delighted with their crucial win over Southampton.The Hammers threw off the shackles and went for it at the London Stadium on Saturday in an attacking system that showcased their quality without exposing the defence.Goal this young group. If people don’t like us while we build it, so what? Do something about it.”

Chamberlain had six 70-point games and his 62 points on January 14, 1962, had been the most in Boston.

Phoenix has already been eliminated from playoff contention, and had only eight available players because of injuries. Younger than some lineups in the NCAA Tournament, the Suns have lost seven straight and nine of their last 10, and they were out of this one early before Booker’s explosive performance made it interesting.

His previous career best was 39, which he reached three times before Friday. He had 19 points at half-time, then scored 23 in the third quarter to get the Suns back within range.

Rory McIlroy leads WGC event in Mexico at halfway after round of 65

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The prospect of being restored as the top ranked golfer in the world by Monday morning is suddenly a live one.

A stunning performance from the Northern Irishman in recording 65 on the outskirts of Mexico City on Friday assured him of a two-stroke lead at the first WGC event of 2017. This, indeed, was done with McIlroy still feeling the effects of the food poisoning which had first surfaced in the early hours of Thursday morning.

For the first time on this side of the Atlantic since the 2014 US PGA Championship, which McIlroy was to win at Valhalla, the 27-year-old is the man to catch after 36 holes.

Stomach upset aside, he is also producing this form in what marks his first start in seven weeks because of injury. He looks wonderfully at ease with all around him, just as there is no indication whatever of lingering rib pain.

This was vintage McIlroy in spells. After he reached the turn in 31, a surprise error came at the 12th when he could not get up-and-down from a greenside bunker. A stunning response ensued. McIlroy made a two at the par-three next before holing his 152-yard approach shot at the 14th for an eagle.

After producing a birdie at the 15th, McIlroy was three clear, a status reduced only because of missed putts from inside 4ft on the last two holes.

Ross Fisher, and Justin Thomas are those closest to McIlroy’s nine-under aggregate. Fisher held the lead outright at one stage on day two but stumbled just as McIlroy pressed on his accelerator. Having played a five-hole stretch in three under par around the turn, Fisher was one over for his closing eight.

A distinctly European flavour to the leaderboard is enhanced by Tyrrell Hatton, who is five under par and alongside Thomas Pieters. Andy Sullivan is a shot better off while Martin Kaymer, Matt Fitzpatrick, Joost Luiten andinal against Paraguay due to illness.The Everton forward has caught a case of the mumps.Selecao boss Tite has confirmed Napoli’s Allan will start in his place.”Confirming Allan before the game is to give him confidence,” Tite told his pre-match news Lee Westwood are in strong positions for the weekend.

The theme of dodgy stomachs extended to caddies, with Mickelson’s long-time bag man, Jim “Bones” Mackay, lasting only four holes before succumbing to serious discomfort. Mickelson’s younger brother, Tim, assumed caddie duties from thereon and did a fine job; the five-times major champion posted a 68 to move to seven under par.

“I was having breakfast and Phil called and said just be around if something happens,” Tim Mickelson said.

“It was fun. It was the first time we were able to do that and it was fun. Trust me, I don’t want Bones’ job, though. I have a whole new respect for those guys. Every hole seems uphill.”

Mickelson Sr has aspirations of what would be a second World Championship success. “Bones is irreplaceable,” he said. “He is one of the best in the business. But he’s hurting, he just hasn’t been feeling well.

“On the positive side, I had a lot of fun with my brother. He’s so fun to be around and he did a great job today.”

Sullivan’s day was kick-started by holing from the 9th fairway for an eagle. The Englishman’s 65 moved him to six under par. “I’ve been hitting the ball well all year, just not been putting that great,” said the European Ryder Cup player. “To see a few putts dropping in today, especially on the sloped greens as they are, it gives me a lot of confidence going forward.

“I think the guy that keeps it under the hole the most and obviously hits it quite close is going to be the guy that wins this week. A lot of times on the first day we yenoord coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst has announced Robin van Persie will play his final game this weekend.Van Persie will play the final match of his career on Sunday when Feyenoord host ADO Den Haag in the Eredivisie.The 35-year-old striker announhit it sort of pin high and thought we hit a good shot inon.The Brazil striker proved the matchwinner at Tottenham on Saturday.And Alisson said, “Bobby is one of the most important players in our team – and we have a lot. “I think everybody is important but Bobby not only scores when we need him, he make and we’d actually got six or seven feet of swing on a putt and you’re just not holing many of them.”

Why the NFL can get away with dumping mediocrity on UK fans

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The National Football League to be played next year in London – more than ever before! – and is planning to keep ticket prices for the games the same as this year: £35 to £149 ($44 to $189) for general seating. And that pretty much ends the good news.

The not-so-good news is that the eight teams that have selected to play in the four 2017 games – two at Wembley, two at Twickenham – include the Cleveland Browns, who still stand a chance to lose all 16 games on their schedule, plus seven other teams who would not qualify for the playoffs if this season ended today.

The matchups, with dates to be finalized in the off-season, look like this:

24 September or 1 October: Baltimore v Jacksonville, Wembley

24 September or 1 October: New Orleans v Miami, Wembley

22 or 29 October: Minnesota v Cleveland, Twickenham

22 or 29 October: Arizona v Los Angeles, Twickenham

One problem: the aggregate record for the eight teams picked to play is now a lackluster 38-65-1. Already eliminated from playoff contention this year, but tapped to play in England next year, are the Browns (0-13), Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) and Los Angeles Rams (4-9). Miami, at 8-5, is the best team, as of right now, to be playing in England.

The Jaguars, who have often been mentioned as a candidate to move permanently to London, perhaps in only a few years, have played in England in each of the last four years. The Ramspool boss Jurgen Klopp wanted more bravado from his players during victory at Sheffield United.Klopp saw the Reds beat Sheffield United 1-0 on Saturday lunchtime to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.The manager said, “You have to respec’ first season back in Los Angeles has been so disappointing that .

players have never hidden the fact that they are less than enthusiastic about playing in England, mostly because of the long flights to and from the United States. When the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants in a regular-season finale last year, the Eagles were delighted that their division rivals would have to play in England in 2016 and not them.

The slate of four games in 2017, an increase from three in each of the last three seasons, will probably still sell, because American football in England (and continental Europe, which draws in many fans for the International Series), by several metrics, has not lost any of its appeal. An appearance by the rotten Browns, who could become only the second team in NFL history to finish 0-16, might not even iktas.Although the Spaniard had one year left on his contract, he decided to depart the Turkish side after a very tough season which was dominated by the club’s financial issues, reports Marca.The former Real Madrid youth coach is now seeking a returtest that.

“The NFL is commendably dedicated to developing football at all levels within the United States and throughout the globe, and we share in that commitment to help make our game as great as possible and the opportunities to bring it to more people, both within our community and in other regions,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a release.

Fifteen of the 16 regular-season games played at Wembley , have drawn at least 81,000 spectators. The Giants-Rams game this year was the first to be played at Twickenham, and it drew a healthy crowd of 74,121.

And this is the crux ofted the lid on his controversial departure from Arsenal last summer.The former Gunners captain angered many in London for the way he forced through his transfer.Koscienly admits he regretted signing a new contract with the Gunners and chose to quit f the matter – the NFL may be happy to keep sending mediocre teams over the Atlantic because the crowds still roll in. And in a season when the league has come under criticism for poor quality of play and TV ratings have slumped, it is in its interests to keep its big draws on home soil and in prime time.

Keeping the big teams away from Europe hardly seems to affect TV figures in the UK either. The NFL has said it is on pace to reach a record number of unique television viewers in Britain. The league’s internal research reports a fan base of 13 million fans, close to four million of which are considered to be “avid”. Additionally, the NFL said that participation in amateur football in the UK has grown by approximately 15% per year since 2007. Latest figures from Sport England show that 40,000 people age 14 or older play regularly, the NFL said.

Furthermore, a 61,000-seat stadium being built in north London primarily as the new home of Tottenham Hotspur when it is finished in 2018. It will include an artificial turf surface under a retractable grass soccer pitch for American football games.

But just because the NFL can sell out Wembley (which, given that England’s soccer team can do it, may not be as hard as it sounds), does that justify sending over poorer teams? While, it’s impossible to predict which teams will be great a year out from the schedule, it could be a sign of respect to arrange a game that is likely to contain two contenders – and that’s unlikely to be New Orleans v Miami. Besides the excuse that travel to UK disrupts a season isn’t compelling. Teams that play in England are given the option to have the next weekend off, but the Colts took on Chicago a week after losing to Jacksonville at Wembley this year – and beat the Bears, 29-23. (It also might have been a factor that the Bears, now 3-10, are lousy.) And it’s worth remembering that one of the teams involved in the first ever International Series game at Wembley back in 2007, the New York Giants, went on to win the Super Bowl that season. Maybe it’s time to put your money on the Browns for Super Bowl LII.

Jarryd Hayne little used as 49ers win final game of season

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Jarryd Hayne’s historic season with the San Francisco 49ers has endis departure.In China with his new squad, Bruce sent a message to angry Wednesday fans.”I can understand the disappointment,” he said. “I enjoyed the three or four, five months I worked there.”But I’d like to put it out there that a manager’s contraced with a fizzle.

Hayne remained on the sideline throughout most of the 49ers’ 19-16 overtime win against St Louis Rams at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, with the team opting to play DuJuan Harris, Kendall Gaskins and Mike Davis at running back and Bruce Ellington as punt returner.

49ers coach Jim Tomsula, who was sacked after the game, did use Hayne on the special teams defensive unit where he made a tackle late in the fourth quarter.

Hayne failed to make it on the field in the first half of the game.

Tomsula was been sacked just hours after his team completed their disappointing season.

ty star Ilkay Gundogan admits that he has not spoken with anyone at Borussia Dortmund about a possible move.It is rumoured that Gundogan could be out of the door at City this summer. The player has become a peripheral figure in the first tea Firmino is backing Newcastle United’s Joelinton for success in England.Joelinton moved to the Magpies from Hoffenheim for a club record fee in the summer.“We have already talked about this (game), because we are linked to the same representatives m, only s

The coach who gave his first taste of NFL action during the season, was ousted after his rookie season at the helm of the 49ers.

The 49ers produced a five-win, 11-loss season record and were well out of playoffs contention weeks before the end of the regular season.

Earlier, Hayne was jubilant after his first season in the NFL had ended with a 19-16 victory over the Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

He was ecstatic he had completed a dream of joining the 49ers and against the odds playing in eight games.

“It is what it is,” Hayne replied when asked about his lack of time on the field against the Rams.

“Overall, the year I’ve had and to be here and part of the team has been incredible and more than what I could have imagined.”

Hayne had said he would like Tomsula to remain as coach.

Hayne flies back to Sydney on Monday (Tuesday AEDT).