Update January 13-14, 2018
Asia leads Europe by 1 point after first day of EurAsia Cup
of China watches his shot on the 8th hole during the four-ball matches of
the 2018 EurAsia Cup golf tournament at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club in
Shah Alam, Malaysia, Friday, Jan. 12. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (AP) —
Asia bucked the odds and led defending champions Europe 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 after
the opening day of the EurAsia Cup on Friday.
With Asia holding the lead on a day of
constant drizzle, Li Haotong earned the biggest cheer for the men in red
after he birdied the final hole of the final fourball match for he and
Nicholas Fung to force a draw against Europe's Bernd Wiesberger and Rafa
Asia seeks its first win in the third
"I don't want to ever sound cocky with
a team like Europe, and I'm not going to get cocky, but it's a great start,"
Asia captain Arjun Atwal said.
"I noticed that every single pairing
was comfortable with each other. That was my main goal this week, to just go
out there and have fun."
Asia trailed heavily on the first day
of the previous competitions in 2014 and 2016, and lost the first match at
Glenmarie Golf and Country Club when Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey beat
Kiradech Aphibarnrat and An Byeong-hun 4 and 3.
But the Asians leveled through Kang
Sung-hoon and Poom Saksansin, who overcame Henrik Stenson and Alexander Levy
5 and 4.
Kang and Poom started with eight
successive birdies and went five up in the first seven holes. They secured
victory on the 14th hole to send a surge of confidence through the Asian
Yuta Ikeda and Gavin Green kept up the
momentum to beat Thomas Pieters and Thomas Fitzpatrick 2 and 1.
Green, who clinched the Asian Tour
Order of Merit last month, clinched the match with two birdie putts in the
final three holes to give Asia its second point.
Europe drew level when Ross Fisher and
Tyrrell Hatton brushed aside S.S.P. Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri 5 and 4.
But Asia went back in front thanks to
Hideto Tanihara and teenager Phachara Khongwatmai, who beat Alex Noren and
Paul Dunne by two holes.
Captain Thomas Bjorn promised Europe
will return stronger in the six foursome matches on Saturday.
"I suspect that we'll go out tomorrow
and be ready to play, and foursomes is a very different game," Bjorn said.
"We feel like we knew we could find
ourselves in this position, and we knew this Asian team is very strong and
very much ready to play."
Billie Jean King backs calls to rename Margaret Court Arena
King, former ladies singles champion holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup
during a press conference ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships
in Melbourne, Australia Friday, Jan. 12. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Melbourne, Australia (AP) —
Billie Jean King thinks one of the main venues at the Australian Open should
be renamed because of Margaret Court's comments about the lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender community.
King, a trailblazer for equality and
diversity in tennis, said she had initially been a proponent of having
Margaret Court Arena named in 2003 in recognition of the 24-time Grand Slam
singles winner's contribution to the sport.
"I was fine until lately when she said
so many derogatory things about my community — I'm a gay woman — about the
LBGTIQ community," King said at news conference Friday. "That really went
deep in my heart and soul.
"I personally don't think she should
have (her name on the stadium) anymore."
King is attending the Australian Open
for the first time in eight years, marking the 50th anniversary of her win
over Court for the Australian title.
King said if she was still competing,
she wouldn't play on Margaret Court Arena. King said she wouldn't promote a
boycott of the stadium, but encouraged players to "seek their own heart and
mind" before making a decision.
Organizers have recognized the American
tennis great as the Australian Open Woman of the Year and launched its
"Open4All" initiative to promote equality, diversity and inclusion to
coincide with King's visit.
King, one of the original professionals
in women's tennis and winner of 12 major singles titles in the Open era,
said she had regularly met with Court at tournaments in the years since they
retired after "we grew up together playing each other."
The 75-year-old Court, who holds the
record for most Grand Slam singles titles across the amateur and Open eras,
is a Christian pastor who lives in Perth, Western Australia.
Court's negative comments about gay
people before Australia voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage were
heavily criticized last year. Court also has called transgender children the
work of "the devil."
Martina Navratilova, an 18-time Grand
Slam singles winner, wrote an open letter last year criticizing Court and
recommended that tennis officials rename the arena after another Australian
great, Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
King said she lobbied on Court's behalf
after Melbourne Park's center court was named for Rod Laver in 2000. Her
show court was recently upgraded to add a roof and bigger capacity.
Court is a regular at the event, but is
not attending this year's Australian Open, which starts Monday.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said
Court had a standing invitation to the season-opening major, and would be
welcome in the future as she had been in the past.
He said there had been "conversation"
among stakeholders of Melbourne Park regarding the issue, but there was no
process in place to change the name of the stadium. He said Tennis Australia
— a tenant at the venue — would take the lead of the government on the
In 2006, the U.S. Tennis Association
named the site of the U.S. Open, located in a public park in New York, the
Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
King said she wished Court was in
Melbourne so they could continue the conversation.
"You can have discussion around it. I
would be very welcome to Margaret," the 74-year-old King said. "It's really
important if you're going to have your name on anything that you're
hospitable, you're inclusive, you open your arms to everyone that comes.
It's a public facility."
Russian skier waits for Olympic invite in clean Alpine team
Pavel Trikhichev competes during the first portion of an alpine ski men's
World Cup combined race in Wengen, Switzerland, Friday, Jan.12. (AP
Wengen, Switzerland (AP) —
Placing second in a World Cup race on Friday, unheralded Russian skier Pavel
Trikhichev looked a candidate for an Olympic medal next month.
Now he needs the International Olympic
Committee to let him try.
Four weeks before the opening ceremony
of the Pyeongchang Games, an IOC panel is assessing which Russians to invite
that have not been tainted by doping and the 2014 Sochi Olympic scandal.
Trikhichev said after his career-best
result he will be good to go to South Korea.
"It's not possible to have doping in
Alpine skiing," Trikhichev said in English at a news conference after being
runner-up in an Alpine combined event at storied Swiss venue Wengen.
He meant that technical skills demanded
by his sport could not be gained with chemical help.
"So I am sure Russian (Alpine) athletes
are totally clear," said Trikhichev, whose more famous teammate Alexander
Khoroshilov has been an elite slalom racer for four years.
The Sochi scandal led the IOC to
disqualify 43 Russian athletes for links to a state-backed doping program
for their home Winter Games. No Alpine skier has been implicated, and 42
appeal cases are being processed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport this
Still, the weight of cases in
cross-country skiing, biathlon, bobsled, luge, skeleton, women's ice hockey
and speed skating has left Alpine skiers like Trikhichev at risk of missing
The IOC panel has not detailed every
criteria for joining the "Olympic Athlete from Russia" team.
Trikhichev suggested Friday each
athlete should have passed at least five doping controls in the past year.
"I have for the last half-year (done)
eight doping tests so it's no question for me," said the 25-year-old racer,
who joined the international World Cup circuit in 2013. "We should wait for
(a) decision from IOC."
The IOC has promised to publish the
official OAR team list before the Jan. 28 entry deadline.
Raising his sights after Friday's race,
won by Frenchman Victor Muffat-Jeandet, Trikhichev said he will now target
top-10 finishes instead of top 15.
His previous best World Cup result was
16th, in giant slalom, and his best in four Sochi Olympic events was 24th in
"I do my job," he told international
media. "I am concentrating on World Cup and not Olympics because Olympics is
so far (away) still."
Angelique Kerber wins 8th match in a row, into Sydney final
Kerber of Germany celebrates her win over Camila Giorgi of Italy in their
women's semifinal singles match at the Sydney International tennis
tournament in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 12. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Sydney (AP) — Angelique Kerber
won her eighth consecutive match of the new season, coming from 3-1 down in
the final set to beat qualifier Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-3 to reach the Sydney
International final on Friday.
Kerber, a former No. 1 and the 2016
Australian Open champion, won all four singles at the Hopman Cup and now all
four in Sydney en route to the final.
She will face Ashleigh Barty, who beat
Australian compatriot Daria Gavrilova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the other semifinal.
In a match that included 11 breaks of
serve, Barty needed just one in the third set.
"It's nice getting a bit of confidence
going into our biggest tournament for us," Barty said of next week's
Gavrilova's frustration with her
serving were evident in the ninth game of the set when, soon after leveling
at 4-4, she double-faulted twice and received a code violation for smashing
In men's semifinals, Russian qualifier
Daniil Medvedev booked a spot in the final by upsetting fourth-seeded Fabio
Fognini of Italy 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Medvedev will next play Australian
18-year-old Alex de Minaur, who defeated Benoit Paire of France 4-6, 6-1,
The 167th-ranked de Minaur, who will
play his first ATP Tour final on Saturday, advanced to the Brisbane
International semifinals last week.
Federer, Djokovic drawn in same half for Australian Open
men's singles champion Switzerland's Roger Federer prepares to serve during
a practice session ahead of the Australian Open tennis championships in
Melbourne, Australia Thursday, Jan. 11. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Melbourne, Australia (AP) —
Roger Federer found himself in a slightly awkward position before the
Australian Open draw.
Just being there.
A few minutes later when the
formalities were completed, Federer found out how difficult defending his
title could be after landing in the same half as six-time champion Novak
"This is not normal," Federer told a
crowd of hundreds of fans before the draw on Thursday at Margaret Court
Arena. "I don't like usually going to draws because they freak me out. I
don't want to know who I play other than just seeing the sheet at the end
and knowing who my first-round opponent is."
First up, the 36-year-old Swiss will
play Ajaz Bedene of Slovenia. He also has No. 7-ranked David Goffin, Juan
Martin del Potro, Sam Querrey, and Milos Raonic in his quarter.
There's a potential semifinal against
Djokovic, who is aiming for a record seventh Australian Open title but is
seeded 14th as he returns from six months on the sidelines with a right
Djokovic is in the same quarter as the
Zverev brothers — fourth-seeded Alexander could meet older brother and No.
32-seeded Mischa in the third round — 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, and No. 5
Federer beat Rafael Nadal in the final
here last year on his return from six months on the sidelines and is seeded
No. 2 as he bids for a 20th Grand Slam singles title.
Djokovic had a contrasting 2017,
starting at No. 2 but losing in a second-round upset at the Australian Open
and not playing again after Wimbledon. It was the first year since 2009 that
Djokovic didn't reach at least one Grand Slam final. He delayed his return
until two exhibition appearances this week.
Top-ranked Nadal will open against
Victor Estrella Burgos, has a potential fourth-round match against John
Isner, and No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in his half of the draw. He followed his
run to the final in Melbourne by winning the French Open and U.S. Open,
splitting the Grand Slam honors with Federer for the year.
Serena Williams has opted not to defend
her title four months after giving birth to her first child, leaving the
women's draw open.
Her sister Venus, who lost the
all-Williams Australian Open final last year, has a tough opener against
Belinda Bencic — who combined with Federer to win the Hopman Cup for
Switzerland last week — and is also in the same quarter as U.S. Open winner
Top-ranked Simona Halep opens against
Australian wild card Destanee Aiava, has a potential second-round match
against 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, and is in the same half as
Garbine Muruguza, the Wimbledon champion.
Third-seeded Muguruza is in a difficult
quarter containing former Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova and
Angelique Kerber, and U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys.
Sharapova, who won the 2008 Australian
title and reached three other finals at Melbourne Park, missed last year's
tournament during a 15-month suspension after a failed doping test here in
The five-time major winner finished
2017 ranked No. 60, meaning she missed out on a seeding for the Australian
Open and could face 2016 champion Kerber in the third round.
"There's no easy way to get to the
top," Sharapova told the crowd at Margaret Court Arena before the draw. "You
always have to beat the top players in order to get to the top."
Organizers defended the decision to
invite Sharapova to appear as the representative for the women's draw, with
tournament director Craig Tiley saying the sanction was over and the
30-year-old Russian was there as a former champion.
Sharapova said after a long time out
she had to be patient coming back to the tour, but was still confident of
returning to the top ranking and winning major tournaments.
"The drive, I still have it. I
certainly will hope I put myself in that position," Sharapova said. "I put a
lot of expectations on myself because I have been there, and I have
delivered in those moments. I expect to continue to do so."
Sainz wins stage, reduces Peterhansel's lead in Dakar Rally
Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz, both of Spain, race their Peugeot
during the 6th stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally between Arequipa, Peru, and La
Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, Jan. 11. (Andres Stapff/Pool Photo via AP)
La Paz, Bolivia (AP) — Spaniard
Carlos Sainz won the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday, putting a
small dent in the overall lead of his Peugeot teammate Stephane Peterhansel
Sainz finished the 313-kilometer
(194-mile) stage between Arequipa, Peru, and the Bolivian capital of La Paz
in 2 hours, 57 minutes, 36 seconds - finishing 4 minutes, 6 seconds ahead of
The overall lead of defending champion
Peterhansel is now 27:10, with Sainz in second place and Dutch driver
Bernhard ten Brinke in third, 1.20:41 off the pace, at the wheel of his
In the motorbike race, Honda rider
Kevin Benavides of Argentina has the overall lead after finishing second, 30
seconds behind stage winner Frenchman Antoine Meo, riding a KTM.
Benavides is now 1:57 ahead of
fifth-stage leader Adrien van Beveren. The French Yamaha rider lost time
with a fifth-place finish in La Paz.
The Dakar Rally will have a rest day on
Friday, before resuming with stage 7 on Saturday from La Paz to Uyuni,
LeBron James, Cavs routed again, Raptors romp 133-99
Raptors guard Delon Wright goes up for a basket past Cleveland Cavaliers
guard Dwyane Wade and guard Isaiah Thomas during the first half of an NBA
basketball game Thursday, Jan. 11, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian
Press via AP)
Toronto (AP) — LeBron James and
the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers absorbed their most-lopsided loss of the
season when they were routed by the Toronto Raptors 133-99 on Thursday
The Cavaliers have dropped six of eight
dating to a Christmas Day loss at defending champion Golden State. James
scored 26 points in this loss, while Isaiah Thomas missed his first 11
After losing to Minnesota 127-99 on
Monday night, the Cavaliers fell by an even bigger margin. Toronto's 133
points were the most by any Cleveland opponent this season, and marked the
third straight game that Cleveland has allowed at least 127.
Fred VanVleet scored a career-high 22
points, Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and a season-high 18 rebounds and
the Raptors overcame the absences of two starters.
C.J.Miles scored 16 points, Pascal
Siakam and Norm Powell each had 14 and DeMar DeRozan 13 for the Raptors, who
were without point guard Kyle Lowry (bruised tailbone) and forward Serge
CELTICS 114, 76ERS 103
LONDON (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 20
points, seven assists and six rebounds and Boston overcame a 22-point
deficit to beat Philadelphia in the eighth NBA game played in England.
Jaylen Brown added 21 points, and
Marcus Morris had 19 points and eight rebounds to help the Eastern
Conference-leading Celtics extend their winning streak to seven games.
JJ Redick had 22 points and hit five
3-pointers for Philadelphia, but the 76ers were unable to take advantage of
their fast start as the Celtics' NBA-best defense tightened at O2 Arena.
Joel Embiid had 16 points, and fellow
All-Star hopeful Ben Simmons added 15 for the 76ers.
Wierer wins biathlon WCup, Crawford claims first podium
Wierer of Italy competes during the women's 15 km individual competition at
the biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 11. (AP
Ruhpolding, Germany (AP) —
Italian biathlete Dorothea Wierer shot cleanly to win the women's
15-kilometer individual race for her first World Cup win of the season on
Wierer finished in 41 minutes, 29.0
seconds, beating Kaisa Makarainen of Finland - who missed one target on her
35th birthday - by 12.7 seconds and Rosanna Crawford of Canada by 21.2.
"I felt really confident about my
shooting in the last weeks," said Wierer, whose last win was at Canmore,
Canada in February 2016.
Crawford also shot cleanly as she
claimed her first ever podium place.
"Not something I was really expecting
this season," the Canadian said.
Ukrainians Yuliia Dzhima and Valj
Semerenko finished fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Darya
Belarus teammate Nadezhda Skardino's
seventh place was enough to win the individual crystal globe after her first
place in Ostersund, Sweden.
"It was my dream, and now it's one
dream less in my life," Skardino said. "I'm very happy."
Overall World Cup leader Anastasiya
Kuzmina finished ninth, 1:32.3 behind with three missed targets.
After 11 races, Makarainen cut the
Slovakian biathlete's lead to 25 points with 11 events to go.
Makarainen was presented with a small
cake and urged to make a wish for her birthday as she blew out the candle.
"Can anybody guess what it might be?"
the Finn joked.
Kuzmina leads on 454 points, ahead of
Makarainen on 429 and Wierer on 378.
Peterhansel extends lead in Dakar; Loeb, Villas-Boas out
Driver Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean Paul Cottret, both of
France, race their Peugeot during the 5th of the 2018 Dakar Rally
between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa, Peru, Wednesday, Jan. 10.
(AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Arequipa, Peru (AP) —
Stephane Peterhansel extended his overall lead of the Dakar Rally
after winning the fifth stage on Wednesday.
The Frenchman, a 13-time Dakar
champion in all categories, won the 266-kilometer (165-mile) stage
between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa in Peru in 2 hours, 51
minutes, 19 seconds.
Peterhansel's Peugeot teammate,
Sebastien Loeb, was forced to abandon the race after an injury to
co-pilot Daniel Elena.
Dutch driver Bernhard ten
Brinke of Toyota finished the stage 4:52 behind Peterhansel.
In the overall classification,
Peterhansel leads Peugeot's Carlos Sainz, who ended fourth on
Wednesday, by 31:16.
Ten Brinke is 1:15:16 behind
Earlier Wednesday, soccer coach
Andre Villas-Boas abandoned the race. The former Porto, Chelsea and
Tottenham manager, who was making his debut in the rally, felt back
pains after his car crashed against a sand dune in the fourth stage.
In the motorbike race, Spain's
Joan Barreda Bort of Honda clocked 3:19:42 to win the stage, but
Frenchman Adrien van Beveren of Yahama still leads the overall
classification despite a disappointing fifth place on Wednesday.
Honda rider Kevin Benavides of Argentina is 1 minute behind Van
Beveren after five stages.
In the truck race, defending
champion Eduard Nikolaev won the stage in 3:37:12. The Kamaz driver
leads the overall classification by 58:05 over Federico Villagra of
The rally leaves Peru and
enters Bolivia on Thursday, bound to the country's capital La Paz.
Wenger manages Arsenal in cup semi while sitting with media
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, center, looks out from the press box
during the English League Cup semifinal, first leg, soccer match
between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge stadium in London,
Wednesday, Jan. 10. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
London (AP) — Cramped
into the Stamford Bridge media tribune was an unfamiliar occupant
leaping to his feet, bellowing disapproval and kicking seats in
It's not surprising Arsene
Wenger was so exacerbated. After all, he was managing Arsenal in a
League Cup semifinal.
Wenger was forced a dozen rows
back from the Arsenal bench at Chelsea on Wednesday while serving
the second game of a three-match touchline ban for misconduct toward
Wenger was more animated at
times than his team on the pitch as the strain of playing five games
in around two weeks caught up on both teams as they labored to a 0-0
draw in the first leg.
The London rivals only met a
week ago, although that draw was a 2-2 Premier League thriller. And
they will face off again in two weeks to complete the League Cup
semifinal at the Emirates Stadium when Wenger is due to be back in
While Chelsea's Antonio Conte
was in the customary managerial position patrolling the touchline on
Wednesday, with his players close by to receive direct instructions,
Wenger was reduced to occasional exacerbated shouts.
For once the media didn't have
to strain to listen to Wenger's howls. Every groan and muttered
remark was in full earshot, every shake of the head clear to see and
the benches reverberated from his kicks.
"What?!" Wenger shouted after
Chelsea were awarded a free kick in the first half when Eden Hazard
went down under Hector Bellerin's challenge. The French manager
sprung out of his seat at the start of the second half when Danny
Welbeck was penalized for fouling Moses.
And for the manager who
bemoaned last week that "referees get away" without facing English
press criticism, his targets were at close quarters. Not that Wenger
interacted with the media during the game, while flanked by a
security guard and coach Jens Lehmann at the end of a long row of
"It was frustrating," Wenger
said later in the media room. "But the position was quite
interesting because I was close to the bench and not too high up."
If the sight of Wenger watching
his own team play from the press box was unusual, so too was Alexis
Sanchez being on the bench.
Wenger's biggest call came
before the match — dropping his star forward and only sending down
instructions in the second half for the Chilean to be brought on.
It was a decision, Wenger
insisted, that had nothing to do with Sanchez being targeted by
Manchester City in the January transfer window.
"The team selection had nothing
to do with the transfer market," said Wenger, who has been willing
to sell defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin to Valencia this week.
Sanchez can leave for free when
his contract expires in June.
"I want him to stay for
longer," Wenger said, optimistically trying to avoid being drawn
into a discussion over a potential sale.
Would Sanchez have made the
difference on the pitch from the start? Both teams were lacking the
attacking sting to find a breakthrough in this stalemate.
Chelsea did look more likely to
take the lead but were wasteful twice with headers. At the end of
the first half, Fabregas nodded tamely straight at Arsenal
goalkeeper David Ospina. Midway through the second half, Andreas
Christiansen headed off target.
"We must be more clinical,"
said Conte, whose side also drew 0-0 at second-tier Norwich in the
FA Cup on Saturday. "We have to improve with all the players, not
only the strikers.
"When you have the chance, you
have to score."
There was a blow for Arsenal
when Jack Wilshere, who was handed the captain's armband to cap a
recent resurgence in an injury-blighted career, limped off after
spraining his left ankle.
"It's a shame to lose him when
he's in such good form," Wenger said. "It was by blocking a shot
that turned his ankle. It was his good ankle."
Wenger said Wilshere will miss
Sunday's Premier League game against Bournemouth. The midfielder
could be back for the final part of January's Arsenal-Chelsea
trilogy on Jan. 24.
"To play three times in three
weeks (against Arsenal) is very strange," Conte said. "But it's
simpler to prepare the game because you know the team."
The League Cup is the only
domestic competition Wenger hasn't won in more than 21 years at
Arsenal. It also offers his only prospect of domestic silverware
this season, since Arsenal's FA Cup defence ended at the first
hurdle at Nottingham Forest on Sunday and the team are sixth in the
Djokovic returns from injury layoff with dominating win
Novak Djokovic. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Melbourne, Australia (AP) —
Novak Djokovic played his first competitive match in six months on
Wednesday, a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Dominic Thiem at the Kooyong
Classic. He couldn't have been happier — or more impressive.
It was apparent early on that
Djokovic was back to full court fitness. He stopped quickly,
abruptly changed directions and stabbed at a full-stretch volley
that whizzed past Thiem for a winner.
He then turned and beamed.
Djokovic was back after the longest injury layoff of his career and
he was clearly enjoying himself on the court again.
Wearing a compression sleeve on
his right arm to protect his troublesome elbow, Djokovic dominated
the fifth-ranked Thiem in an exhibition match at the Kooyong
Classic, a key tune-up event for next week's Australian Open.
Still smiling afterward,
Djokovic said he'd had doubts whether he'd be ready to play the
first Grand Slam of the year, but the win over Thiem was a major
"Obviously, I was waiting for
this moment for six months to get out on the court and play a
match," he said. "Also, I got a great opponent today, the No. 5 in
the world, so it was a fantastic test for me to see where I am."
Djokovic, who had been
sidelined with the elbow injury since a quarterfinal loss at
Wimbledon last year, initially planned to play in an exhibition
event in Abu Dhabi and then a tournament in Qatar to start the
season, but withdrew from both due to lingering pain in his elbow.
He still traveled to Melbourne
hoping to be fit to play in the Australian Open, where he's won six
of his 12 career Grand Slam titles. Despite playing pain-free on
Wednesday, he said he's still taking it "day by day."
"I don't want to be
over-confident," he said. "Obviously, I'm very, very happy with the
way it went today, but I don't want to say it's 100 percent. I'll
say that when I start a tournament and when I get to actually feel
that it's 100 percent. For now, I'm in the (Australian Open) and
let's hope with God's grace that everything will be fine in the next
Djokovic displayed few signs of
rust after his lengthy time away from the game, hitting penetrating
groundstrokes deep into the corners, moving extremely well and
volleying with precision.
He also unveiled a more compact
service motion intended to put less pressure on his elbow that
resulted in three aces in a single game against Thiem in the first
Perhaps the biggest change was
his more relaxed mood on the court — a major contrast to his
demeanor during his recent slump from late 2016 to mid-2017 when he
struggled in the majors and lost his No. 1 ranking.
Freshly confident, Djokovic
will now head to Melbourne Park with the aim of replicating Roger
Federer's feat at last year's Australian Open, when the Swiss star
returned from his own six-month injury layoff and surprisingly won
"Luckily for me, I'm here,"
Djokovic said. "So glad to be back and so nice to start in a country
and a city where I have the greatest memories."
Celtics, 76ers meet in London as NBA plays again in England
this Dec. 15, 2017, file photo, Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving (11)
shoots against Utah Jazz's Ekpe Udoh during the fourth quarter of an
NBA basketball game in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
London (AP) — When the
Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers play Thursday in London,
they'll both be looking to leave a mark on the league's global
For the teams, that's the
It'll also provide a reminder
of the league's future.
A number of the players —
including Kyrie Irving and Joel Embiid — set to take the court at
the O2 Arena are also likely to appear in February's All-Star Game,
some surely going to be bolstered by votes they get from those fans
in London and watching worldwide. And the amount of young talent
that will be on display makes this the most hotly anticipated
matchup of the eight regular-season games that have taken place in
"I'm appreciative of all fan
votes. I'm just a fan of basketball, a fan of sport and now I get to
mark off my bucket of playing at the O2 Arena," said Irving, who is
averaging 24.1 points per game to lead the Celtics to a 33-10 start
and the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
"I can't wait for that
experience and to have the opportunity to come here to Europe and
especially London and to grow the game of basketball for the NBA."
After the first round of fan
voting for this season's All-Star starters, which NBA followers from
all over the world can participate in online, Irving led his nearest
challenger among Eastern Conference guards by more than 500,000
votes, leaving him all but assured of a starting spot in Los Angeles
on Feb. 18.
While the Celtics have exceeded
expectations after losing free-agency acquisition Gordon Hayward to
a horrific ankle injury on the opening night of the season, the
76ers have struggled to maintain consistency.
Still, Philadelphia (19-19) is
very much in contention for a playoff berth, a marked improvement on
recent years. The team's development plan, or "The Process" as it
was known, is finally bearing fruit.
A healthy Embiid is the main
Drafted in 2014, Embiid missed
his first two NBA seasons with foot injuries and managed just 31
games last season. Thursday will be his 30th appearance this season
and he is averaging 23.8 points per game.
The gregarious 23-year-old is
third among Eastern Conference forwards in fan voting, but he is
aware a big performance in London could elevate his chances of
holding onto his spot.
"I'm a winner, I'm competitive
but at the same time it's also for the fans," Embiid said. "I want
to have fun, I always do have fun on the court and then I play
better when I have fun. I'm going to play team basketball and try to
put on a show too."
Another factor in the 76ers'
improvement has been the play of Ben Simmons.
The 21-year-old Australian
point-forward, a leading rookie of the year candidate, could also
become an All-Star.
"That would be amazing," said
Simmons, who's currently just under 50,000 votes off a starting
place. "I honestly don't know what I would say about that but it
would just be amazing. I'd be blessed."
The next voting update comes
out following Thursday's game, with polls closing Monday.
However, 76ers coach Brett
Brown said whether Simmons or Embiid is voted into the All-Star game
really won't prove anything.
"There's a difference between
popular and championships and that's my version of a star," Brown
said. "Are you able to get your teams to win and win championships?
This is the challenge, for Ben and Joel, that's my mission for
The good thing for Embiid and
Simmons, they could do both.
WWE wants UFC star Rousey to jump from octagon to ring
Ronda Rousey. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Los Angeles (AP) - UFC
star Ronda Rousey's next fight could come in a WWE ring.
WWE executive Paul Levesque,
better known as wrestling superstar Triple H, had dinner with Rousey
in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, again fueling speculation that
UFC's biggest female star could leave the octagon for a career in
"We are talking to Ronda, as
we've been for a while," Levesque told The Associated Press by phone
on Wednesday. "She has a lot of things going on. We have a lot of
things going on. But we have a great relationship with her, a very
friendly standpoint for a long period of time now. It was great to
catch up with her."
Rousey, once the most dominant
fighter in mixed martial arts, has not competed since she suffered a
48-second loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 in December 2016. Rousey
(12-2) lost two straight bouts in 13 months and took a hiatus that
saw her branch out into other forms of entertainment.
Rousey, who adopted the "Rowdy"
nickname from WWE Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, is a big
wrestling fan and has made guest appearances at WWE events. She
notably stood side-by-side with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as they
fought off the villainous Triple H and his wife and fellow
executive, Stephanie McMahon.
The Rock raised Rousey's arm in
celebration at the end of the segment held at WrestleMania in 2015.
Rousey has since appeared in the stands at events for WWE's
developmental system, NXT.
Rousey and fellow UFC fighters
Marina Shafir, Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke were known as the
Four Horsewomen — a tribute to the nefarious Ric Flair-led Four
Horsemen stable of the 1980s and '90s. Baszler has signed with WWE
and wrestles in NXT.
The WWE recently announced it
will hold its first women's Royal Rumble match (an over-the-top-rope
battle royale) at the Jan. 28 Royal Rumble pay-per-view in
Philadelphia. The match would be a splendid time to showcase Rousey
in her WWE debut if she can break free from her film commitments.
Rousey could also lead her Horsewomen against a WWE faction at
WrestleMania on April 8.
Or, it could just be buzz
designed to keep Rousey in the news and give the WWE a publicity
boost as it heads toward its biggest four-month stretch of the year.
"We have nothing to announce at
this time," Levesque said. "But she's a huge fan of what we do and
she's incredibly interested in what we do and the opportunities that
lie there. We're fans of hers and incredibly interested in what
those opportunities could be with us. But there's a lot of things to
walk through. We're talking. We're having conversations."
UFC President Dana White was on
vacation and unavailable for comment.
Levesque was in Los Angeles to
speak on a Television Critics Association panel.
Rousey refused to comment when
approached by TMZ, only saying, "I enjoy fine dining."
But it's clear that the
Rousey-wrestling connection appeals to WWE.
"I'd love it," Levesque said.
Shiffrin wins WCup slalom, extends winning streak to 5 races
United States' Mikaela Shiffrin competes during an alpine ski,
women's World Cup slalom in Flachau, Austria, Tuesday, Jan. 9. (AP
Flachau, Austria (AP) —
Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin used a frenetic final run
to stretch her winning streak in 2018 to five races at a women's
World Cup night race on Tuesday.
Shiffrin became the first
female skier to start a calendar year with five straight wins,
eclipsing the previous best mark by Swiss standout Vreni Schneider
For the first time this season,
Shiffrin was not leading after the opening part of a slalom. After a
run in which the American struggled for rhythm throughout, she
trailed first-run leader Bernadette Schild of Austria by 0.37
But on a course set by her
coach Mike Day, the defending overall champion was back to her best
and posted the fastest second-run time to beat the Austrian by 0.94.
Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was
1.43 behind in third.
"My timing, my feeling, my
rhythm was so much better than in the first run," Shiffrin told The
Associated Press. "Actually, the biggest change was just my mindset.
It was a nerves' thing. If I am a little nervous or anxious, my
timing is off, then it can make everything look really terrible."
Less than five weeks before the
Olympic slalom in Pyeongchang, the American called her recovery in
the final run "a really big step for me."
"This was the first time that I
was coming from behind in the first run and I had to make a
statement," she said. "That was really important for me, a really
big checkmark on the way to the Olympics because when we are there,
anything can happen, and I want to be mentally prepared for all
Schild lost her first-run lead
but still celebrated with both arms up after crossing the finish
The Austrian was on a World Cup
podium five times before, most recently in Killington in November,
but has yet to win a race.
"I grew up in Saalfelden, nor
far from here. So this is really a home race for me. It was amazing
for me," Schild said. "I didn't feel pressure, the audience gave me
The previous time she led a
slalom after the opening run, in 2013 in Courchevel, she lost her
advantage to her older sister Marlies Raich. Now retired, Raich
holds the record for most slalom wins (35) on the women's circuit.
Shiffrin's win on Tuesday was the American's 30th in the discipline.
The Austrian women's team has
been waiting for a slalom win since Nicole Hosp triumphed in Aspen
Shiffrin celebrated her 41st
career win, matching the record for most World Cup wins by a
22-year-old skier, set by Annemarie Moser-Proell in the 1970s.
"She is such an amazing name,
legend in ski racing," Shiffrin said about the Austrian great. "A
lot of people say you can't really compare (the eras) and I agree
with them. It's incredible, nevertheless. I wasn't thinking about
the 41st victory, I was just thinking, you know, ski this one like
this is going to be that last one you'll ever ski."
It also was the 200th win for
the U.S. ski team in the 50-year history of the women's World Cup.
Only Austria (372) and Switzerland (301) have won more races.
Shiffrin and four-time overall champion Lindsey Vonn together have
added 119 wins to the American total.
Shiffrin went further ahead in
both the overall and the slalom standings as her main rivals,
Slovakia's Petra Vlhova and Switzerland's Wendy Holdener, failed to
finish their first runs.
After 19 of the season's 38
races, Shiffrin has amassed 1,381 World Cup points. Four years ago,
that amount would have been enough for the overall title as Anna
Veith won it with a total of 1,371.
After seven races in 13 days,
Shiffrin will skip the next World Cup — speed events in Bad
Kleinkirchheim this weekend — to rest and have more time for
Man City grab 2-1 lead vs Bristol City in League Cup semis
Manchester City's John Stones, right, challenges for the ball with
Bristol City's Bobby Reid during their sides’ English League Cup
semifinal first leg match at the Etihad stadium in Manchester,
Tuesday, Jan. 9. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
Manchester, England (AP) —
Sergio Aguero netted in stoppage time to give quadruple-chasing
Manchester City a 2-1 victory over Bristol City in the first leg of
their English League Cup semifinal on Tuesday.
Despite leading the Premier
League by 15 points, Man City were given a stern test by the
second-tier visitors who took the lead through Bobby Reid's penalty
in the 44th minute.
After Kevin De Bruyne's
well-worked 55th-minute equalizer, Man City had to wait until the
substitute Aguero headed in Bernardo Silva's cross to ensure Pep
Guardiola's side has the edge going into the second leg in two weeks
in southwest England.
Bristol attacked with pace and
confidence and Joe Bryan, who scored a spectacular goal in the
quarterfinal win over Manchester United, was often leading the
charge at Etihad Stadium.
Hordur Magnusson's long
throw-ins also proved troublesome for the hosts to handle.
Man City were not at their
incisive best with Aguero on the bench and Raheem Sterling, Bernardo
Silva and Leroy Sane switching roles across the attacking line.
Openings did come, however,
with Sane twice bringing goalkeeper Frank Fielding into action and
De Bruyne also having a shot tipped over.
Ilkay Gundogan also missed the
target twice and Silva badly miscued in front of goal as Man City
couldn't find a breakthrough.
Then before halftime, Man City
defender Eliaquim Mangala lost the ball to Josh Brownhill. Reid took
up the attack and was brought down in the area by Stones.
Bravo did get his fingers to
the resulting spot kick but the goalkeeper could not keep out Reid's
That spurred Man City into life
and Sterling looked set to level before the break when he lifted
over the advancing Fielding but Aden Flint scrambled back superbly
to head off the goal-line.
Bravo launched the quick break
that led to the equalizer with a pass that found De Bruyne in a huge
amount of space.
The Belgian did not pass up the
invitation and charged the length of the field before exchanging
passes with Sterling and thumping home the leveler.
Fielding needed to save well to
repel Sterling before Sane shot wide.
Bristol City sat back, getting
bodies behind the ball at every opportunity to cling on for a draw.
It almost worked but Aguero had the final say on the night two
minutes into stoppage time.
Ellington lifts Heat to 90-89 win at Raptors
Miami Heat guard Wayne Ellington (2) passes the ball away from
Toronto Raptors center Lucas Nogueira (92) as Raptors coach Dwane
Casey watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game
Tuesday, Jan. 9, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via
Toronto (AP) — Wayne
Ellington made a go-ahead driving layup with less than a second
remaining, and the Miami Heat stopped Toronto's 12-game home winning
streak with a 90-89 victory over the Raptors on Tuesday night.
It was the only basket of the
second half for Ellington, who finished with 15 points.
Goran Dragic had 24 points and
12 rebounds as Miami extended its season-best winning streak to
five. Bam Adebayo had 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds and
Hassan Whiteside collected 13 points and 15 boards for the Heat, who
had dropped their previous five visits to Toronto.
The Raptors were without point
guard Kyle Lowry after the three-time All-Star bruised his tailbone
during Monday's overtime win at Brooklyn.
DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points
as the Raptors lost for the first time in six games and failed to
break the franchise record for consecutive home victories.
TRAIL BLAZERS 117, THUNDER 106
Oklahoma City — C.J.
McCollum had 27 points and seven assists, and the Trail Blazers beat
the Thunder in the opener of a four-game trip.
Shabazz Napier added 21 points
and Jusuf Nurkic had 20 points and eight rebounds for Portland,
which moved past Oklahoma City into second in the Northwest Division
standings with its seventh win in its last nine games against the
Portland has won four of five
overall despite playing most of that stretch without star guard
Damien Lillard, who sat out for the seventh time in the last nine
games with a left calf strain.
Russell Westbrook had 22
points, 12 assists and nine rebounds for Oklahoma City, which has
dropped four of six.
Kerber beats Venus Williams at Sydney International
Germany's Angelique Kerber plays a backhand to Venus Williams of the
U.S. in their women's singles match at the Sydney International
tennis tournament in Sydney, Tuesday, Jan. 9. (AP Photo/Rick
Sydney (AP) — Former
world No. 1 Angelique Kerber won her sixth consecutive match of the
new season, beating second-seeded Venus Williams 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 on
Tuesday in a Sydney International match delayed for two hours by a
Kerber, who dropped to No.22
following a poor 2017 season, needed to save two match points before
beating Lucie Safarova in three sets on Monday. She won four
consecutive singles matches at the Hopman Cup last week.
Williams was playing her first
match in Sydney since winning the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.
"I say goodbye to 2017 and I'm
really happy that the new year's beginning," Kerber said.
Former champion Agnieszka
Radwanska ended Johanna Konta's defense with a 6-3, 7-5 win. The
fourth-seeded Konta was playing her first match since retiring from
her Brisbane International quarterfinal last week with a hip injury.
The Sydney-born Konta said she
had no pain during her near two-hour match.
"Actually, it was good," Konta
said. "So that was a really positive thing for me today, that it
held up fine and I recovered well from that."
Former U.S. Open champion
Samantha Stosur won her first-round match, beating Carina Witthoeft
4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
In men's first-round play,
Australian teenager Alex De Minaur followed up his semifinal
appearance at the Brisbane International last week, including a
second-round upset win over 2016 champion Milos Raonic, with a 6-4,
6-2 victory over Fernando Verdasco.
Leonardo Mayer had a 7-5, 6-3
upset win over eighth-seeded Mischa Zverev.
Japan kayaker banned for 8 years for spiking drink of rival
Japan's Yasuhiro Suzuki is shown competing the 16th Asian Games in
Shanwei, China in this November 2010 file photo. (Kyodo News via AP)
Tokyo (AP) — A Japanese
kayaker has been banned for eight years for spiking the drink of a
rival so he would fail a doping test.
Yasuhiro Suzuki drugged his key
rival Seiji Komatsu at the Japan championships in September.
Suzuki spiked a drink with an
anabolic steroid, causing Komatsu to fail a doping test, the Japan
Anti-Doping Agency said on Tuesday.
The Japan Canoe Federation
began investigating after Komatsu tested positive but denied ever
After Komatsu tested positive,
Suzuki admitted putting a muscle-building supplement containing the
banned steroid methandienone in his drink.
Suzuki was hoping to qualify
for the 2020 Olympics at home. But he will also miss the 2024
Olympics in Paris.
The incident is Japan's first
case of an athlete failing a doping test due to deliberate
contamination, according to the Japan Anti-Doping Agency, which
handed down the eight-year ban.
South Africa beat No. 1 India by 72 runs in 1st test
South African bowler Morne Morkel celebrates the wicket of Indian
batsman Cheteshwar Pujara of India on the fourth day of the first
test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape
Town, South Africa, Monday, Jan. 8. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Cape Town, South Africa (AP)
— South Africa beat top-ranked India by 72 runs in the first
test on Monday, bowling out the best side in the world for just 135
on the fourth day at Newlands.
India's defeat on a
seam-friendly surface in Cape Town underlined the doubts over the
No. 1 side's ability to win on green strips away from home, although
neither side’s batsmen really profited on the testing track.
South Africa seamer Vernon
Philander sealed a low-scoring game with his 6-42 in the second
innings, hastening India's demise when he took three wickets in four
balls to end the game.
India were chasing a target of
just 208 to win, but came unstuck against South Africa's quick
bowlers on the kind of fast, bouncy pitch the Indians would have
been expecting to be tested on in South Africa. India made 209 in
the first innings, while South Africa scored 286 and 130.
"We need to show more character
with the bat, there's no question about that," India captain Virat
Philander's career-best figures
in India's second innings were backed up by two wickets each from
fellow quicks Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada. South Africa were also
a bowler down, with Dale Steyn ruled out for the rest of his
comeback series by a left foot injury he sustained on day two at
India are ranked No. 1 in tests
by a wide margin after nine straight series wins, but only one of
those series victories came outside Asia. Six of them were in India.
Kohli's departure in Cape Town
— one of Philander's six wickets — began a slide of four quick
wickets before tea as India crashed to 82-7. Ravichandran Ashwin
made 37 to hold up the South Africans. But his dismissal, also to
Philander, set off another collapse and India went from 131-7 to 135
Philander took two wickets off
the last two balls of the game to end it as South Africa's decision
to pick four fast bowlers and sacrifice a batsman on a tough batting
strip ultimately paid off, although it was a close call after South
Africa were shot out for just 130 in their second innings at the
start of the day.
Captain Faf du Plessis referred
to the tactic as a bit of a gamble.
"We're a team that's prepared
to take risks to win games of cricket," du Plessis said.
Fighting to justify their No. 1
ranking, and playing their closest challengers in the rankings,
India face more fast surfaces in Centurion, near Pretoria, and
Johannesburg in the last two tests. Even with Steyn out, Philander,
Morkel, and Rabada form a formidable pace attack for South Africa.
"They create relentless
pressure," Kohli said. "It's something we have to counter. Maybe we
have to come out and be more positive."
Video replay helps Brighton oust Palace in 1st use in FA Cup
Brighton & Hove Albion's Glenn Murray, 17, celebrates scoring his
side's second goal of the game against Crystal Palace during their
English FA Cup Third Round match at the AMEX Stadium in Brighton,
Monday Jan. 8. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)
Brighton, England (AP) —
Brighton striker Glenn Murray benefited from the first use of video
replay in competitive English soccer when he nudged the ball over
the line with his knee to secure a 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace
in the FA Cup on Monday.
Referee Andre Marriner was seen
listening to instructions in an earpiece in the 87th minute after
Murray got on the end of Uwe Hunemeier's header. Some television
replays were initially unclear whether the ball brushed against
Murray's arm before falling into the net.
Neil Swarbrick, a video
assistant referee, was assessing footage of the third-round game at
a control room in west London as part of international trials of the
new technology that will be used for match-changing incidents.
"It wasn't my arm," Murray
said. "The VAR would have pulled me back if it was ... I just needed
to get something on it and luckily I did. I got my hip or my knee on
Bakary Sako leveled for Palace
in the 69th minute when he struck the ball from distance in off the
post, canceling out Dale Stephens' first-opener opener.
Murray's winner on the south
coast set up a fourth round meeting a second-tier side
Al-Attiyah wins 3rd stage of Dakar, Peterhansel tops overall
Driver Nasser Al-Attiyah, of Qatar, and co-driver Matthieu Baumel,
of France, race their Toyota during the third stage of the 2018
Dakar Rally between Pisco and San Juan de Marcona, Peru, Monday,
Jan. 8. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
San Juan de Marcona, Peru
(AP) — Nasser Al-Attiyah won a second stage three days into the
Dakar Rally on Monday to remain a contender in the world's toughest
Al-Attiyah dominated the almost
300-kilometer third stage through and over sand dunes in the Ica
Desert to rise to third place.
The two-time champion from
Qatar won the opening stage on Saturday but lost time on Sunday
because of two flat tires. He endured another flat tire not long
after the start from Pisco on Monday but fixed it quickly and still
blew away the field en route to San Juan de Marcona.
Al-Attiyah was just under eight
minutes behind overall leader and defending champion Stephane
Peterhansel of France. Countryman Cyril Despres, the stage two
winner, was second, about three minutes behind.
Nani Roma, the 2014 champion
from Spain, rolled his car a kilometer from the finish. Though he
still managed to cross the finish line, he was taken to hospital
with reported neck and head injuries.
In the motorcycle race, British
rider Sam Sunderland won the stage to lead overall.
His cause was helped when Joan
Barreda, who dominated the second stage, missed a turn and had to
double back. He finished almost 28 minutes behind Sunderland.
Sunderland won by more than
three minutes on Monday from Kevin Benavides of Argentina.
Murray undergoes hip surgery, hopes to be back for Wimbledon
Great Britain's Andy Murray is shown in this Friday, Dec. 29, 2017
file photo. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Melbourne, Australia (AP) —
Andy Murray underwent surgery on his right hip on Monday and said he
hopes to be back playing in time for Wimbledon.
The former No. 1-ranked Murray,
a three-time major winner, has not played a competitive match since
a quarterfinal exit at Wimbledon last July. His current ranking is
Murray has been told to expect
a 14-week recovery period and he is targeting a return to the court
"I underwent successful right
hip surgery at the St. Vincent Hospital in Melbourne," Murray wrote
on his Facebook page. "I'd like to thank Dr. John O'Donnell and all
of the staff for looking after me. I look forward to returning to
competitive tennis during the grass court season. Thanks to everyone
for all the well wishes and support over the last few days. I'll
comeback from this."
The 30-year-old Murray, though,
accepts he will have to reduce his workload on court.
"I'm certainly not going to be
putting in the same amount of tournaments and effort to try to get
to No. 1," Murray told British media. "I'll certainly be more
considered in the amount of tournaments I play, even though I play a
conservative schedule anyway in comparison to most of the players on
"I'll be playing a reduced
schedule, and then focusing more on trying to win major events and
big tournaments rather than trying to achieve certain ranking
Murray said he can get himself
back to "95 percent of my best."
"I believe that's enough to
compete at the highest level," he added. "No question."
Australian media reported
Tuesday that Murray has been in touch with O'Donnell since 2008,
when his right hip first started to bother him. The two men have met
six or seven times in Melbourne since, usually around the time of
the Australian Open.
"I've known him since I was 20,
21 years old," Murray said, "and I decided he was the right person
to do it."
Brees, defensive stand, help Saints survive Panthers, 31-26
Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Freeny, right, sacks Carolina
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the second half of an NFL
football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 7. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
New Orleans (AP) — Drew
Brees passed for 376 yards and two touchdowns, and the New Orleans
Saints held off Carolina's late comeback bid to seal a 31-26 victory
in their NFC wild-card game on Sunday.
The Panthers had a first down
on the Saints 26-yard line with 58 seconds left, but heavy pressure
by All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan a couple plays later induced
an intentional grounding penalty on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton,
making it third-and-25 on the Saints 34 and a required 10-second
runoff left 22 seconds on the clock.
After an incompletion in the
end zone on third down, Vonn Bell sacked Newton on a safety blitz,
ensuring the Saints (12-5) swept all three meetings with Carolina
(11-6) this season, in addition to winning their first playoff game
in four seasons.
"We wanted it more," Jordan
said. "I mean they've been to their Super Bowl, let 'em go to
another one next year. We want our run."
Brees' touchdowns went for
80-yards to Ted Ginn and 9 yards to tight end Josh Hill. Fullback
Zach line and running back Alvin Kamara each ran for short
touchdowns, the latter set up by Michael Thomas 46-yard reception.
Thomas caught eight passes for
131 yards on a day when the Saints needed the passing game to
compensate for a ground game that struggled to get going.
Helped by the presence of tight
end Greg Olsen — who did not play in the teams' previous two
meetings — Newton marched Carolina into Saints territory more often
than not. But the Panthers stalled four times from inside the New
Orleans 25, settling for four field goal attempts on those drives,
one of which kicker Graham Gano surprisingly missed.
Olsen had eight catches for 107
yards and a touchdown. Newton finished 24 of 40 passing for 349
yards and two touchdowns, the other a 56-yard scoring strike to
Christian McCaffrey that pulled the Panthers within a touchdown with
But Newton was also sacked four
times, once each by Bell, Jordan, Jonathan Freeney, and David
Onyemata. The sack by Onyemata came as Newton tried to spin away
from Tyeler Davison and slammed his head into Onyemata's chest.
Newton was checked for a concussion, but missed only one play before
returning to the game.
"We had to finish out the game
and put it on our defense, put it on me, put it on our secondary,
our D-line," Jordan said. "I mean, everybody responded the way we
were supposed to."
Still, the Panthers were in
striking distance for the win after a failed gamble by Saints coach
Sean Payton, who elected to keep the offense on the field on
fourth-and-short with two minutes remaining. He hoped to run out the
clock on Carolina, which was out of timeouts. It backfired when
Brees' pass as he scrambled to his right was intercepted by Adams,
giving Carolina the ball at its 31 with 1:51 to go.
"This win is special," Jordan
said. "They came back late in the fourth quarter, made this a game."
Panthers: Newton missed one
play — a failed third-and-long — while being evaluated for a
concussion after Onyemata's sack. Cornerback Daryl Worley briefly
was placed in the concussion protocol but also cleared to return
during the game.
Saints: Starting left guard
Andrus Peat was carted off the field with a left shin injury. His
replacement, Senio Kelemete, later needed help off the field for an
Panthers: Begin their offseason.
Saints: Move on to play at Minnesota in the NFC
Dominant Australia push toward big victory in 5th test
Australia's Shaun Marsh celebrates making 100 runs against England
during the fourth day of the fifth Ashes test match in Sydney,
Sunday, Jan. 7. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Sydney (AP) — On one of
their most dominant days of the summer, Australia set up a 303-run
first-innings lead before declaring at 649-7 and then tore through
England's top order to close in on victory in the fifth test and a
4-0 Ashes series win.
After the Marsh brothers scored
centuries to lead Australia into a commanding position, the bowling
attack claimed four wickets to leave England floundering at 93-4 at
stumps, still 210 runs behind, in oppressively hot conditions Sunday
at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Skipper Joe Root was unbeaten
on 42 and Jonny Bairstow was 17 not out at stumps, as England tried
grimly to prevent a collapse reminiscent of their last appearance at
the SCG in 2014 where they were bowled out in 31 overs to complete a
5-0 series loss.
"In many ways the last few days
have summed up our trip," England assistant coach Paul Farbrace
said. "It's been exceptionally tough, we've come up against a team
that is playing very good cricket but the one thing that we've been
talking about is making sure we keep on fighting and battling."
Resuming at 479-4 on day four,
already with a 133-run first-innings lead, the Marsh brothers
combined for a 169-run partnership and each raised their hundreds in
the first session.
The feat meant Shaun and Mitch
Marsh became the first Australian brothers to combine for a century
partnership since Stephen and Mark Waugh put on 197 together in the
fifth test at The Oval in 2001.
"To be out there with Mitch, to
both get our test century today for Australia, being out there and
sharing each other's emotions when we got to our hundreds, was an
extremely happy moment," Shaun Marsh said. "It'll certainly be a day
that we won't forget."
Mitch Marsh was the only wicket
to fall in the morning session, bowled by Tom Curran (1-82) for 101,
the delivery after reaching his century. Shaun Marsh was run out for
156 after lunch.
Tim Paine (38 not out) and Pat
Cummins (24 not out) combined for a late flurry of runs before
Smith's declaration midway through the afternoon session.
After nearly 14 hours and 193
overs in the field, England's second innings started poorly, losing
Mark Stoneman (0) lbw to Starc (1-17) in the third over.
Stoneman reviewed the decision
but replays showed the ball was hitting leg stump and the out
decision was upheld, meaning England lost one of their two reviews
early in the innings.
The blow was very nearly
doubled the next ball as Cook edged to first slip, but the chance
was dropped by Shaun Marsh to spare the opener, who had just become
the sixth player to tally 12,000 test runs.
Only Sachin Tendulkar (15,921
runs), Ricky Ponting (13,378), Jacques Kallis (13,289), Rahul Dravid
(13,288) and Kumar Sangakkara (12,400) have more test runs than the
33-year-old English batsman.
But Cook's reprieve was
short-lived as Lyon (2-31) produced a perfect ball to clip the top
of off stump and remove the veteran opener in what may well be his
last tour of Australia.
Inside two overs James Vince
survived a referral for caught behind and a near miss in the slips,
before Pat Cummins (1-12) had the batsman edging to slip again and
Smith grabbed a catch at the second attempt.
Root batted bravely for the
cause, including being hit twice by Starc, with the second blow
needing a lengthy stop in play while the England captain's right
index finger was treated by medical staff.
England team officials
confirmed after play that the finger injury was likely not serious
and the captain would resume batting when play resumes Monday.
Lyon did get another deserved
breakthrough when he trapped Malan on the back leg for five. Malan's
review was unsuccessful as England slipped to 68-4 and batting
through the day will be increasingly difficult for the English
batsman on a day five SCG wicket.
"I think (Lyon) is the key
tomorrow," Shaun Marsh said. "The wicket is definitely suiting his
condition, especially with the left handers he'll come into play."
Arsenal's FA Cup defence ended by 2nd-tier Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest's Eric Lichaj celebrates scoring his side's first
goal of their English FA Cup Third Round match against Arsenal at
the City Ground in Nottingham, Sunday, Jan. 7. (Mike Egerton/PA via
Nottingham (AP) - Long
protected at Arsenal by FA Cup glory, Arsene Wenger endured his
earliest elimination Sunday when his team’s title defence ended at
managerless, second-tier side Nottingham Forest.
The decision to rest stars
backfired as a 4-2 collapse saw Arsenal knocked out in the third
round, when Premier League teams enter, for the first time since
Wenger took charge in 1996.
"It hurts even more because
it's a competition we love," said Wenger, who has lifted the FA Cup
in three of the last four seasons and is the 145-year-old
competition's most successful manager with seven triumphs.
While Wenger has endured a
Premier League title drought since 2004, success in soccer's oldest
cup competition has helped the Frenchman to gain new contracts.
The manner of the loss in
Nottingham was mortifying for Wenger, who was forced to watch from
the stands as he started a three-match touchline ban for misconduct
toward a referee.
"They were sharper than us,"
Wenger said, "more incisive and more dominant in the challenges."
Eric Lichaj was the
match-winner with two goals for Forest, who are 14th in the League
Championship and without a manager since firing Mark Warburton a
After Lichaj headed in Kieran
Dowell's free kick in the 20th minute, Per Mertesacker quickly
leveled but the American defender was on target again just before
halftime. Rob Holding's weak headed clearance fell straight to
Lichaj, who brought the ball down with his chest and unleashed a
dipping volley into the far corner of the net.
"My wife told me that if I get
a hat trick any time during the year, then I get a dog," Lichaj
said. "So I was trying to get the penalty."
There were two in the second
half. Ben Brereton extended Forest's lead in the 64th after Holding
tripped Matthew Cash.
Although Welbeck pulled one
back — seizing on goalkeeper Jordan Smith losing his grip on the
ball — Arsenal conceded a second penalty. Mathieu Debuchy challenged
former Gunners defender Armand Traore from behind and Kieran Dowell
netted from the spot in the 85th.
With a two-goal cushion it
should have been a calm conclusion for the hosts, but Joe Worrall
was sent off three minutes later for a sliding tackle on Chuba
It was too late for Arsenal,
who rested Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, to mount a comeback.
And Forest secured a victory
that revived memories of their heyday under Brian Clough.
The modest central England team
stunned soccer from 1978 to 1980 when they won the top flight and
then back-to-back European Cups. But Forest, who reached the FA Cup
final in 1991 when they lost to Tottenham, have been out of the
Premier League since 1999 and only avoided relegation to the third
tier last season on goal difference.
TOOTHLESS WEST HAM
While West Ham avoided being
eliminated at Shrewsbury, midfielder Josh Cullen did have a tooth
And the 0-0 draw means West Ham
will have to face the third-tier side again with a replay at the
Olympic Stadium after struggling in their third game in five days.
Cullen had a front tooth
inadvertently kicked out by Shrewsbury midfielder Abu Ogogo as they
both went for the ball in the 75th minute. The tooth was recovered
from the turf, while a bloodied Cullen was cleaned up on the
touchline before returning to the action.
Like West Ham, Tottenham
struggled to breakdown a third-tier side but they did find a
breakthrough after 63 minutes against AFC Wimbledon.
Harry Kane made up for
Tottenham's profligacy by scoring twice inside two minutes. And Jan
Vertonghen netted from 30 yards in the 71st minute to seal a 3-0
victory at Wembley Stadium — the site of the final being used as the
north London club's temporary home this season.
Hours before Arsenal's shock
loss, fourth-tier side Newport knocked out Leeds, who are 53 places
higher in the league ladder in the second-tier Championship.
Leeds led through Gaetano
Berardi's ninth-minute strike but Newport leveled through Conor
Shaugnessy's own-goal in the 76th and Shawn McCoulsky's 89th-minute
header sealed a 2-1 victory.
Leeds finished with 10 men
after Spanish forward Samuel Saiz was sent off in stoppage time for
spitting at Newport midfielder Robbie Willmott.
Kyrgios beats Harrison to win Brisbane International title
Kyrgios of Australia plays a shot against Ryan Harrison of the U.S.
during the men’s final at the Brisbane International tennis
tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 7. (AP Photo/Tertius
Brisbane, Australia (AP) —
Nick Kyrgios won an ATP title on home soil for the first time with a
commanding 6-4, 6-2 victory over Ryan Harrison at the Brisbane
International on Sunday night.
It was a fourth title for the
enigmatic 22-year-old Australian, and his first since 2016.
Harrison had five breakpoint
chances in the first set but couldn't convert, and third-seeded
Kyrgios bounced back to get the decisive break in the seventh game
and took control with a mix of unorthodox shot-making and pure power
on his serve.
He closed with his 17th ace.
"It's a good feeling. As the
week went on, I started serving better and hitting the ball better,"
Kyrgios said. "There was pressure on me today because I was the
favorite and most people expected me to win, so I was proud of the
way I handled that expectation and pressure."
Kyrgios had trouble with his
left knee during the tournament, and needed to change the tape on
the joint late in the first set of the final. After that, he
appeared to move more freely and didn't expect it to trouble him at
the Australian Open beginning Jan. 15.
His best run at an Australian
Open was a quarterfinal exit in 2015. Kyrgios is hoping to improve
on that after a confidence-boosting performance in Brisbane, where
he beat defending champion and No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov in the
"For me, that's just confidence
not only mentally but physically as well, and battling and fighting
hard," he said. "It's good to see the work I was doing in the
offseason is paying off. But pretty happy with my performance
Olympic champ Shiffrin dominates slalom for 40th career win
United States' Mikaela Shiffrin competes during an alpine ski
women's World Cup slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Sunday Jan. 7.
(AP Photo/Marco Trovati)
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia (AP)
— Shortly after winning her 40th career World Cup race on
Sunday, overall champion Mikaela Shiffrin drew praise from one of
her main rivals for "taking the sport to another level."
Beaten by 1.64 seconds in a
slalom on the Podkoren course, Frida Hansdotter had mixed feelings
about the American's dominance.
"It's frustrating, but it is
also good for the sport," said the Swede, the only skier other than
Shiffrin to win the season-long World Cup slalom title in the past
Shiffrin has won 20 of the last
25 slaloms she competed in, and finished on the podium in four of
the other five races. Her 29 slalom wins in total leaves her six
short of the record set by Austria's Marlies Schild.
"She is super fast," Hansdotter
said. "All of us want to ski faster than her but she is on another
level. We need to train harder and ski faster."
The Olympic slalom champion
certainly was fast while taking a 1.47-second lead in Sunday's
opening leg, which Shiffrin called "maybe the best run of slalom I
have ever done in a race."
It was the fourth straight
slalom race where Shiffrin held a first-run lead of more than a
second, a huge margin in a sport often decided by hundredths of a
"I let it go down the hill and
I am really, really happy with my skiing that run," said Shiffrin,
who also triumphed in Saturday's giant slalom on the same course. "I
am always looking to do the skiing that I do in training. That feels
really good, it's confident, it's flowing. The surface is incredible
and froze overnight so it's just so much fun to ski."
Shiffrin posted the
third-fastest time in the final leg and beat Hansdotter once again,
while Wendy Holdener was 1.87 behind in third for the Swiss skier's
13nd career slalom podium without winning — a World Cup record.
"Sometimes it's frustrating but
it is still a good fight," Holdener said.
Petra Vlhova of Slovakia, the
only skier to beat Shiffrin in a slalom this season, was 2.18 behind
The result put the American
level with Sweden great Ingemar Stenmark for the number of World Cup
victories before turning 23.
Only Annemarie Moser-Proell won
more races (41) at that age, and Shiffrin can match the Austrian
great's record at a night slalom in Flachau on Tuesday.
"I have so much fun skiing
today," said Shiffrin, who has won seven of the last eight races,
including all four in 2018. "I feel so like in a good place, it
doesn't feel like I am dreaming, it doesn't feel like it's something
crazy that's happening. It just feels like I am skiing really well
and I am starting to feel that in the races more and more."
Her two wins this weekend
easily earned Shiffrin the Golden Fox Trophy, which adds the slalom
results to those of Saturday's GS.
It was another confirmation
that Shiffrin, initially excelling in slalom, has become a
consistent winner in both technical disciplines.
"That's huge, that has been one
of my goals since forever," Shiffrin said. "So it's so cool now that
I can be a contender for the win in both slalom and GS."
Shiffrin's triumphant run has
seen her lead in the overall standings increase to 721 points over
second-place Holdener, while she leads Vlhova in the slalom
standings by 235 points.
Not that she will take anything
for granted because, as Shiffrin said, "there are quite a few who
have the ability to win. It's still competition."
Day 2 of Dakar Rally puts France's Despres in the lead
Driver Cyril Despres and co-driver
David Castera, both of France, race their Peugeot during the
first stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally between Lima and Pisco,
Peru, Saturday, Jan. 6. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Pisco, Peru (AP) — Frenchman Cyril Despres of Peugeot won
the second round of the Dakar Rally on Sunday and took the
overall lead of the race.
The third-place finisher in
last year's race finished in 2 hours, 56 minutes and 51 seconds for
the 195 miles (267 kilometers) around Pisco, in Peru. He finished
ahead of two French teammates, with a 48-second lead on Stephane
Peterhansel and 3:08 in front of Sebastien Loeb.
Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah, who
won the first round, ended nearly 15 minutes behind the leader in
Despres leads the overall
classification by 27 seconds on Peterhansel.
Sunday's race was marked by a
series of accidents, including one that affected American driver
Bryce Menzies of Mini. Menzies was unharmed by the crash.
In the motorcycles race,
Spain's Joan Barreda Bort of Honda clocked in at 2:56:44 to win the
second round. France's Adrien van Beveren of Yamaha finished second
once again, 2:54 back. Austria's Matthias Walkner of KTM was third,
4:24 behind the leader. Overall, Bort leads with 2:30 on Van
In the truck race, Russian
Eduard Nikolaev of Kamaz, the defending champion, won with a time of
3:24:23. He finished 3:25 ahead of Argentina's Federico Villagra.
Overall, Nikolaev leads Czech Ales Loprais by 5:38.
On Monday, the Dakar Rally will
move on to San Juan de Marcona, also in Peru.
Serena opts out of Aussie title defense
Serena Williams is shown with the Australian Open tennis
championships women’s singles trophy in this Jan. 28, 2017 file
photo. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Melbourne, Australia (AP) -
Serena Williams' decision not to defend her Australian Open title
four months after giving birth to her first child had nothing to do
with merely being able to play at Melbourne Park.
The seven-time Australian Open
champion confirmed Friday she wouldn't attempt to defend the title
she won here last year, saying she wasn't convinced she could win
Williams played in an
exhibition tournament last weekend in Abu Dhabi to test her match
condition, and indicated after her loss to French Open champion
Jelena Ostapenko that she might not travel to Melbourne.
"After competing in Abu Dhabi I
realized that although I am super close, I'm not where I personally
want to be," Williams said in a statement Friday. "My coach and team
always said 'Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all
the way.' I can compete - but I don't want to just compete, I want
to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more
"With that being said, and even
though I am disappointed about it, I've decided not to compete in
the Australian Open this year."
Williams was pregnant when she
won at Melbourne Park last year, her Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam
singles title. She gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, in
Williams didn't drop a set
while winning last year's title, and her victory helped her regain
the world No.1 ranking.
The 36-year-old Williams needs
only one more major title to equal the all-time record held by
Margaret Court, who won 13 of her 24 Grand Slam titles before the
Open era began in 1968.
Three women have returned after
having babies to win Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era,
including Court and fellow Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who
won the 1977 Australian Open seven months after giving birth to
daughter, Kelly, and added her second Wimbledon title in 1980.
Kim Clijsters returned from
retirement after having a daughter, Jada Elle, in February 2008, and
won the 2009 U.S. Open in her third tournament back.
Williams' withdrawal came less
than 24 hours after fellow former world No. 1 Andy Murray withdrew
from the men's event with a chronic hip injury.
Other star players, including
top-ranked Rafael Nadal, six-time champion Novak Djokovic and 2014
winner Stan Wawrinka, also are dealing with injuries.
Williams last year beat older
sister Venus in the final. In terms of total years, it was the
oldest Grand Slam women's final in the Open era —Williams sisters
combining for 71 years, 11 months.
Venus has returned and is
playing in Sydney next week to prepare for the Australian Open,
which begins Jan. 15.
Serena will sit one out, but is
promising to return in future.
"The memory of last year's Open
is one that I will carry with me, and Olympia and I look forward to
coming back again," she said. "I appreciate the support and
understanding of my fans and everyone at the Australian Open."
Tournament director Craig Tiley
said Serena Williams waited as long as she could before letting
organizers know she wouldn't be able to compete.
"I've been in constant contact
with Serena and her team and know this is why she has pushed it and
pushed it until the 11th hour to make her final decision," he said.
Organizers later announced that French Open semifinalist Timea
Bacsinszky had also withdrawn after failing to recover in time
following surgery on her right hand in September.
With Serena Williams out, the
women's singles title at Melbourne appears to be wide open. No.
1-ranked Simona Halep and No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki are bidding to
win their first Grand Slam singles titles.
Also in the mix will be No.
2-ranked Garbine Muguruza, last year's Wimbledon winner, U.S. Open
champion Sloane Stevens and Venus Williams, who will be aiming to
win her eighth major singles title at the age of 37.
Australia 193-2 at close on day 2, in reply to England's 346
Australia's David Warner bats against
England during the second day of the fifth Ashes cricket test match
in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 5. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Sydney (AP) — Usman
Khawaja eased toward his first century in more than a year as
Australia reached 193-2 at stumps on the second day of the fifth
Ashes test, 153 behind England's first innings total of 346.
After some big hitting by
England's lower order earlier Friday, Australia had an early setback
before half centuries by David Warner and Khawaja helped place the
team strongly in their push for a 4-0 series victory.
Australia went through Friday's
last session without losing another wicket with Khawaja, nearing his
first test century since November 2016, unbeaten on 91. Captain
Steve Smith contributed an unbeaten 44 to the 107-run third-wicket
Khawaja struggled early to find
any rhythm, particularly against spinners Moeen Ali and Mason Crane,
but survived to raise his 50 off 107 balls just after tea with a six
straight down the ground off Ali.
"We know how well he's been
hitting them all summer, he just hasn't got that big score to get
him away," said bowler Pat Cummins, who took 4-80 in England's first
"His play against the spin
today was really great, he used his feet really well, I think I saw
a reverse sweep there at one stage so he's always evolving but he
always looks like he knows his game really well."
Smith scored his 6,000th test
run in his 111th innings, joining West Indies great Garfield Sobers
as the second-fastest to reach the mark. Only Don Bradman reached
6,000 runs quicker, from just 68 innings.
"He's obviously played very
well and he's scored a lot of runs, but he's only human as well,"
said Crane, who bowled well in his first test despite not yet taking
a wicket. "It's awesome to be bowling against some of the best
players in the world, that's why we play the game."
England resumed at 233-5 and
lost their last specialist batsman, Dawid Malan (62), early in the
morning session to a spectacular one-handed catch by Smith at second
slip off Mitchell Starc (2-80).
Australia spurned easy
opportunities to thwart England's rally, including two dropped
catches in the space of four balls to give both Curran (39) and
Moeen Ali (30) reprieves.
"It's actually not a great
'seeing' ground here, said Cummins, who dropped Curran off spinner
Nathan Lyon. "I know that's not a great excuse but sometimes you
just don't pick them up that well, but both should have been taken."
Ali's second chance was brief,
however, with Cummins (4-86) having the allrounder caught behind
soon after to leave England at 294-7.
Broad and Curran, playing just
his second test, combined to guide England past 300 and kept
swinging the bat in an entertaining 41-run partnership, before
Curran popped a catch to Bancroft at short leg off Cummins.
Broad made 31 off 32 balls with
a boundary and two sixes before mistiming a sweep shot to be caught
by Smith off Lyon (1-86).
Crane was the last wicket to
fall, run out in his test debut, just minutes before the scheduled
Australia won the first three
tests convincingly to regain the Ashes, and the fourth test was
drawn last week in Melbourne.
FA Cup: Van Dijk grabs derby winner on dream Liverpool debut
Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk reaches for
the ball during the English FA Cup Third Round match between
Liverpool and Everton at Anfield in Liverpool, Friday, Jan. 5. (AP
Liverpool (AP) — It
couldn't have gone any better for Virgil van Dijk on his Liverpool
Signed last week for 75 million
pounds as the world's most expensive defender, Van Dijk scored an
84th-minute winner against Everton — Liverpool's fierce local rivals
— in front of the storied Kop stand at Anfield in the third round of
the FA Cup on Friday.
"Playing at Anfield for
Liverpool is a dream for every player," the Netherlands defender
said after the 2-1 win in the 230th Merseyside derby. "To score a
goal is even more special."
Manchester United also left it
late to qualify for the fourth round, with in-form midfielder Jesse
Lingard and striker Romelu Lukaku scoring in the final six minutes
of regulation time in a 2-0 victory over second-tier Derby County at
The third round continues
across Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Here's a closer look at
Friday's two games as English soccer's two most decorated clubs
VAN DIJK'S DREAM START
Kevin Keegan, Michael Owen,
Luis Suarez and Mohamed Salah are among those to have scored on
their Liverpool debuts.
Add Virgil van Dijk to the
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp
said the center back wasn't "fine-tuned" following his big-money
move from Southampton and he wasn't even going to start him until
the morning of the match, when he changed his mind.
Van Dijk looked a bit rusty
with the ball at his feet but was commanding in the air throughout,
no more so than when he leapt in front of Everton goalkeeper Jordan
Pickford at a corner to head the ball into an empty net.
"I think something like that is
quite special," Klopp said.
James Milner put Liverpool
ahead in the 35th minute by converting a penalty, contentiously
awarded after Adam Lallana fell to the ground after Mason Holgate
placed his hands on the chest of the Liverpool midfielder.
Everton barely threatened in
the first half but were much more dangerous after the break,
equalizing through Gylfi Sigurdsson after a counterattack following
a Liverpool corner.
The most explosive incident in
a typically high-octane derby came just after Milner's goal when
Holgate shoved Roberto Firmino into — and over — the advertising
boards. A clearly unhappy Firmino vaulted back onto the field and
sprinted toward Holgate, swearing in Portuguese, and was lucky that
referee Bobby Madley stepped in between them to intervene.
Holgate then became aggrieved,
and appeared to complain to Madley that he had been verbally abused
by Firmino. Madley spoke to his the fourth official, before play
Liverpool haven't lost to
Everton in 16 matches — a club record — and Everton's winless run at
the home of their great rivals extended to 21 games, dating back to
LATE SHOW AT OLD TRAFFORD
Jesse Lingard's latest
scintillating strike for Man United came as Jose Mourinho's team
looked set to be taken to a replay.
In the 84th minute, Lingard
teed himself up and smashed home a swerving volley for his eighth
goal in 10 games. He spent time on loan at Derby in 2015.
Lukaku added a second in the
90th minute when he controlled Paul Pogba's long clearance on his
chest in midfield, played a one-two with Anthony Martial and scored
with a powerful strike.
A quarterfinal exit in the
League Cup and a 15-point deficit to leaders Manchester City in the
Premier League has placed extra importance on the FA Cup for United,
who fielded a strong lineup.
India's progress checked in 1st test vs South Africa
Indian bowler Hardik Pandya appeals for an lbw against Faf du
Plessis on the first day of the first test between South Africa and
India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5.
(AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Cape Town, South Africa (AP) —
India's progress was checked late on Day 1 of the first test in South
Africa on Friday, with the tourists 28-3 at stumps and 258 runs behind
on a tough batting surface.
India lost both openers and captain
Virat Kohli as they tried to limit the damage in the 11 overs faced
before the close.
Top-ranked India had rattled South
Africa's batting lineup in the first skirmishes of a three-match series
between test cricket's top two teams. South Africa, who were 12-3 and in
similar trouble at the start of the day, battled their way to 286 all
out in their first innings.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar's early blitz of
seam bowling gave the Indians a promising start in another quest for a
first series win in South Africa.
Kumar, who finished with 4-87, sent
back Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla in the first five overs
of the series-opener. A middle-order century stand between AB de
Villiers (65) and Faf du Plessis (62), and a lower-order rally pushed
the South Africans near to 300.
India's batsmen also struggled on
the green surface in Cape Town. Murali Vijay went for 1, Dale Steyn
returned to test cricket for the first time in over a year to dismiss
Shikhar Dhawa for 16, and Morne Morkel had Kohli for 5 with the first
ball he bowled.
Cheteshwar Pujara, on 5 not out,
and Rohit Sharma, yet to score, took India to the close.
"I would say it's even," Kumar said
regarding the balance of power in the match.
Those 11 overs at the end of the
day gave an early glimpse of the battle that's predicted to define the
series between the two teams: India's vaunted batting lineup against
South Africa's fast bowlers.
The Proteas picked four of those
quick bowlers for the opening test, allowing Steyn, out for over a year
with a right shoulder problem, to join Vernon Philander, Morkel and
Kagiso Rabada in the four-pronged pace attack.
Steyn had a wicket in his first
spell back as Dhawan had a swipe at a short-pitched delivery and sent a
catch swirling high up into the sky. Steyn took the catch off his own
India's quicks had the first say,
though, as Kumar exploited the generous bounce, swing and seam movement
at Newlands that is normally designed to play into South African hands.
He forced Elgar to edge behind with the third ball of the game, trapped
Markram lbw with one that swung, and also had Amla caught behind.
South Africa were saved by de
Villiers and du Plessis, and a solid contribution from their middle to
lower order. Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock hit 43 off just 40
balls, and the tailenders all chipped in.
"Obviously quite an intense day,
but coming off after 6 o'clock, we are very happy," South Africa batting
coach Dale Benkenstein said. "The guys fought hard. Those runs down
there at the bottom, especially in tough batting conditions, really are
Kumar was India's best bowler, but
debutant seamer Jasprit Bumrah and allrounder Hardik Pandya made two
crucial breakthroughs after lunch. With the du Plessis-de Villiers
partnership threatening to completely spoil India's early progress,
Brumah bowled de Villiers for a memorable first test wicket.
Pandya worked hard for du Plessis'
wicket, seeing an ultra-close lbw decision turned down via the decision
review system before, two balls later, he forced an edge behind to
dismiss the South African skipper.
Du Plessis' exit was greeted by a
running, fist-pumping celebration by India skipper Kohli.
Kohli's own dismissal at the end of
the day, when he nicked a short ball from Morkel, provoked an equally
rowdy celebration from the South Africans.
That intensity in the field may
characterize a contest where India, clearly the best team in the world
after nine straight test series victories, are under scrutiny as they
almost always are to prove they can win big series away from home. Of
those nine successive series wins for India, six of them have come in
India, and just one has been achieved outside Asia.
Dimitrov helps rival, then advances to semis
Edmund of Britain falls to the ground with an ankle injury in his
quarter final match against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria during the
Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Friday,
Jan. 5. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
Brisbane, Australia (AP) —
Grigor Dimitrov hurdled the net to check on the welfare of his rival and
then help him to a courtside chair for treatment. Two games later, the
defending champion had secured his spot in the Brisbane International
Top-seeded Dimitrov beat Kyle
Edmund 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Friday to set up a
meeting with No. 3-seeded Nick Kyrgios, who rebounded for a 1-6, 6-3,
6-4 win over former finalist Alexandr Dolgopolov.
It was Dimitrov's show of concern
for Edmund that brought the crowd to its feet at Pat Rafter Arena. At
4-4 in the third set, Edmund tumbled to the court, clutching his right
ankle with both hands.
Dimitrov leaped over the net from
his side of the court and raced to help Edmund as he writhed in pain
behind the baseline at the other end, giving the British player a hand
to get up and then helping him limp to the side of the court.
"At the end of the day, health
above all (matters). It's very unfortunate what happened," Dimitrov said
of Edmund's injury. "I've seen this too many times. I know the feeling.
I really hope he gets better.
"In the last two games he wasn't at
his best. I just had to find a way again."
Asked if he was concerned about
injuring himself as he crossed the net, Dimitrov said it was something
he didn't think twice about.
"It was just such an instinct for
me," he said. "I didn't think, 'OK, I'm just going to go around the net,
or I'm going to go that post.' It was just like such a natural instinct
for me to go and jump over.
"I do it sometimes at practice just
for fun and all that, but obviously it was different circumstances
Earlier Friday, Kyrgios had his
left knee heavily taped but didn't appear to be hampered as he worked
his way into the match after dropping the first set in 22 minutes.
Teenage wild-card entry Alex De
Minaur followed up his upset victory over Milos Raonic with a routine
6-4, 6-0 win over Michael Mmoh to reach his first tour-level semifinal.
The 18-year-old De Minaur will play Ryan Harrison, who led 7-6 (6), 4-2
when Denis Istomin retired from their quarterfinal match with a hip
"There were a lot of nerves coming
into this match. It was a big opportunity for me," De Minaur said. "But
I came in here a little more level-headed (than the Raonic match), had
more time to play, and was able to play my best tennis."
The women's final will feature No.
3-seeded Elina Svitolina against Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra
Svitolina rallied to beat defending
champion Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 7-5, and Sasnovich reached her first
tour-level final with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 semifinal win over seventh-seeded
Aussies take 2 late wickets; England 233-5 at stumps on day 1
Joe Root pulls the ball against Australia during the first day of the fifth
Ashes cricket test match in Sydney, Thursday, Jan. 4. (AP Photo/Rick
Sydney (AP) — Australia's pace
attack took two late wickets with the new ball to reduce England to 233-5 at
stumps and wrest back control on a dramatic first day of the fifth Ashes
test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
After winning the toss and batting
after a two-hour rain delay, England slipped to 95-3 before skipper Joe Root
and Dawid Malan shared a 133-run partnership that frustrated the Australian
bowlers for most of the evening session.
But with the sun setting and the new
ball in hand, Mitchell Starc had Root caught by Mitch Marsh at square leg
for 83 in the penultimate over and then Josh Hazelwood had new batsman Jonny
Bairstow caught behind with the last ball of the day.
"It was great to get the late reward as
a bowling group for our hard toil," Australia allrounder Mitch Marsh said.
"Two three-hour sessions really took it
out of us, certainly in that last hour, it felt pretty long. So to get those
two wickets was great for our confidence and we've got a two-over new ball
tomorrow, so hopefully we can get stuck into them."
Root, in particular, appeared
disconsolate as he left the field after batting for 4 1/2 hours and in sight
of his first century of the series, after scoring three 50s in the first
four tests. The England captain now has converted just 13 hundreds from 48
"I thought Rooty played fantastically
well up to that point, the second new (ball) is always a challenge," Malan
said. "Unfortunately he clipped that to square leg and if it was two or
three yards to left or right it would have been four and everybody would
have said 'great shot'."
Despite riding his luck at times
including being dropped by Steve Smith at slip and nearly run out in the
space of two Nathan Lyon overs, Malan was not out 55 at stumps and will need
to stay at the crease with the lower order to give England any hope of
salvaging one win in the series after surrendering the Ashes with losses in
the first three tests.
"Losing these two wickets has put us
back a bit, but there's still no reason why if we can't get through that new
ball tomorrow we can't get to another 150 runs," said Malan, who has a
century and three 50s in his debut Ashes series.
After the first session was lost to
passing showers, Australia's quick bowlers made early inroads into the top
order after lunch with Pat Cummins claiming the first two wickets, having
Mark Stoneman (24) and James Vince (25) caught behind.
Alastair Cook, who scored an unbeaten
244 in the drawn fourth test in Melbourne last week, continued his good form
in Sydney, reaching 39 before being trapped lbw by Hazlewood, just five runs
short of being only the sixth player to tally 12,000 test runs.
Hazlewood pinned the veteran opener on
his front pad and had the initial not-out decision overturned by the TV
umpire on review to leave England at 95-3 and the majority of the near
45,000 Sydney Cricket Ground crowd delighted.
Only Sachin Tendulkar (15,921 runs),
Ricky Ponting (13,378), Jacques Kallis (13,289), Rahul Dravid (13,288) and
Kumar Sangakkara (12,400) have more test runs than the 33-year-old English
batsman, who will likely get another opportunity to reach the milestone in
the second innings.
Each team made one change from the
fourth test, with England handing leg-spinner Mason Crane his debut for the
injured Chris Woakes, and left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc returned from a
heel injury to replace Jackson Bird for Australia.
Hip problem forces 5-time finalist Murray out of Aussie Open
Murray is shown in this Dec. 29, 2017, file photo.
(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Melbourne (AP) - Andy Murray
needed only a couple of days in Australia to realize the hip problem
that has kept him out of competitive tennis since Wimbledon was not
going to improve in time for the season's first major.
The five-time finalist withdrew
from the Australian Open on Thursday, two days after pulling out of a
tuneup event in Brisbane before his first match.
Confirmation of his absence came
hours after Kei Nishikori announced that he, also, wouldn't have enough
time to fully recover from a torn wrist tendon before the Australian
Open starts Jan. 15 in Melbourne.
Murray was preparing to leave
Australia at the same time as injured former champions Novak Djokovic
and Rafael Nadal were on the way to Melbourne.
"Sadly I won't be playing in
Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete," Murray said in a
statement. "I'll be flying home shortly to assess all the options but I
appreciate all the messages of support and I hope to be back playing
Australian Open tournament director
Craig Tiley said he understood Murray's early decision.
"We are fully aware that Andy has
been going through a difficult period with his hip and that he's done
everything possible to prepare for the Australian summer," Tiley said.
"This is a very hard decision for Andy and we totally respect it."
Former No. 1-ranked Murray, a
three-time major winner, has not played a competitive match since a
quarterfinal exit at Wimbledon last July.
In a heartfelt social media post
earlier in the week, the 30-year-old Murray contemplated surgery as an
option after failing to overcome the pain with rest and rehabilitation.
In the lengthy Instagram post,
Murray said he'd worked hard on the conservative option of rest and
rehabilitation but was now having to consider alternatives.
"Obviously continuing rehab is one
option .... Surgery is also an option but the chances of a successful
outcome are not as high as I would like which has made this my secondary
option and my hope has been to avoid that."
Murray spent 41 weeks at No. 1 in
the rankings until last August, but slipped to a year-end No. 16 because
of his prolonged absence from the tour.
"I would give anything to be back
out there. I didn't realize until these last few months just how much I
love this game," Murray posted "It's quite demoralizing when you get on
the court it's not at the level you need it to be to compete at this
"Sorry for the long post but I
wanted to keep everyone in the loop and get this off my chest as it's
Djokovic, who has beaten Murray in
finals four times as he collected his six Australian titles, posted a
statement on his website saying he wasn't sure he'd be able to play at
A right elbow injury has kept him
off the tour since July. He plans to play in two exhibition tournaments
in Melbourne next week before deciding.
Top-ranked Nadal, who lost last
year's Australian final to Roger Federer and went on to win the French
and U.S. Open titles, has been struggling with a right knee problem and
withdrew from the Brisbane International this week, delaying his return
until an exhibition tournament next Wednesday.
There's also doubt over Serena
Williams' title defense. Williams, who was pregnant when she won the
Australian title — her record 23rd singles major in the Open era — and
gave birth to her daughter in September, played an exhibition in Abu
Dhabi last weekend and said she wasn't sure if she'd be able to play in
Williams said after her loss to
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko: "I don't know if I am totally
ready to come back on the tour yet. I know that when I come back I
definitely want to be competing for championships."
Tiley said he was in daily touch
with Williams' management.
"I still believe she will be," in
Australia, Tiley said. "She has made it very clear to me ... she'll do
everything she possibly can to be here."
Son saves Spurs with long-range equalizer against West Ham
Tottenham's Son Heung-min, left, fights for the ball with West Ham's
Pablo Zabaleta during their teams’ English Premier League match at
Wembley Stadium in London, Thursday, Jan. 4. (AP Photo/Kirsty
London (AP) — When Harry
Kane is enduring a rare spell of frustration in front of goal, Tottenham
can always turn to Son Heung-min — as creator or scorer.
Son was taking the plaudits on
Thursday — rather than the team's top-scorer — after the South Korean
unleashed a thunderous long-range strike to rescue a 1-1 draw against
Showing no signs of exhaustion
after completing a second match inside 48 hours, Son spared Tottenham
from embarrassment in the 84th minute by canceling out a similarly
breath-taking strike from Pedro Obiang.
In his last nine games at
Tottenham's temporary Wembley home for the season, Son has now been
involved in 12 goals — scoring seven and providing five assists. Not a
bad return for a player who Tottenham looked set to sell in 2016 after
less than a year in north London.
Little wonder manager Mauricio
Pochettino is now recognizing the value of a player he acclaims for
being "so humble" especially for "accepting the headlines are always for
Harry or others."
Son's 10th goal of the campaign in
all competitions allowed fifth-place Tottenham to slightly close the gap
on Liverpool in the fourth Champions League qualification place to three
points at the climax of a packed festive Premier League program.
This was a London derby completely
dominated by Tottenham — while lacking the ruthlessness required in
front of goal while entrenched in West Ham territory.
"This type of game you push, you
push, you force, you create, you have chances to score and it's
impossible to score," Pochettino said. "Only that sometimes you need
some luck to open the game."
That came for West Ham in the 70th
minute of a London derby where Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had little
to do until he was foiled by Obiang blasting from distance into the top
corner with his team's only shot on target.
"There was surprise and disbelief
when we took the lead because Tottenham had so much of the ball and so
many shots," West Ham manager David Moyes said.
"It was a brilliant strike, it
really was," Moyes added. "I haven't really seen him do it in training
yet, I got to say, (but) he really pulled one out and it put us in a
West Ham moved two points clear of
the relegation zone as the Premier League, which has seen 30 games in
the last 10 days, takes a pause for FA Cup and League Cup fixtures over
the next week.
In the FA Cup third round on
Sunday, Tottenham and West Ham both face third-tier teams. Tottenham
host AFC Wimbledon and West Ham travel to Shrewsbury.
Defending champions Dimitrov, Pliskova advance in Brisbane
Pliskova of the Czech Republic plays a shot in her quarter final match
against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia during the Brisbane International tennis
tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 4. (AP Photo/Tertius
Brisbane, Australia (AP) —
Grigor Dimitrov had to save two match points before getting his Brisbane
International title defense underway with a victory against Australian
wildcard entry John Millman.
Karolina Pliskova kept her title
defense on track with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over 2012 winner Kaia Kanepi,
setting up a semifinal against Elina Svitolina.
The night matches Thursday went all the
way, with last year's winners both having to come back from deficits.
Dimitrov won 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-3 in his
first competitive match since winning the ATP Finals, but was pushed for 2 ½
hours and finished after midnight.
The No. 3-ranked Dimitrov was broken in
the last game of the first set to give No. 128-ranked Millman the lead.
After an exchange of breaks midway through the second, the tournament's top
seed had to produce two big service games to stay in the second-round match.
Dimitrov fell behind 3-0 in the
tiebreaker, went on a four-point roll to get back in front, then had to
scramble to save match points at 6-5 and 7-6 before converting his second
set point to force a third.
"I thought I was out — he pushed me to
the limit," Dimitrov said. "At moments like that, sometimes it just comes
down to improvising. I played aggressive tennis and got rewarded for that.
"First match in about a month — I feel
a little bit rusty, but at the same time I'm excited and trying to get into
Dimitrov's next match is a quarterfinal
against Kyle Edmund, who had a 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-4 win over Chung Hyeon.
Pliskova opened last season with
victory in Brisbane and rose to the No. 1 ranking in July before finishing
2017 at No. 4.
She struggled against Kanepi's powerful
ground strokes in the first set but started to find her range in the second
and stayed on top in the third.
Svitolina secured her semifinal spot
when Johanna Konta retired with a hip injury in the third set of their
The third-seeded Svitolina won with a
score of 1-6, 7-6 (6), 3-2, retired, having just held serve when Konta
walked to the net and said she could no longer continue, two games after
receiving treatment for a right hip problem.
Konta's exit came two days after No.
2-ranked Garbine Muguruza retired in the third set of her first match of the
season after struggling with leg cramps.
Konta was unsure if she'd be fit enough
to attempt a defense of her Sydney International title next week or what it
would mean for her chances at the Australian Open, where she reached the
semifinals in 2016 and the quarterfinals last year.
"I only know kind of the initial
feelings of it, which is not always so trustworthy," she said of the injury.
"So I don't feel too comfortable saying really too much.
"Hopefully it's nothing more than a
low-grade strain and more muscle spasm."
Seventh-seeded Anastasija Sevastova
beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-2, 6-4 to move into a semifinal against qualifier
Aliaksandra Sasnovich, a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 winner over Alize Cornet.
Denis Istomin and Ryan Harrison set up
a meeting in the men's quarterfinals. Istomin advanced 7-6 (5), 6-2 over
Jared Donaldson and Harrison had a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2 win over Yannick
Hanfmann, who was a late addition to the draw after Andy Murray withdrew.
Hirscher wins slalom for 50th career World Cup victory
Austria's Marcel Hirscher reacts after completing an alpine ski, men's
World Cup slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, Thursday, Jan. 4. (AP
Zagreb, Croatia (AP) —
Marcel Hirscher won a slalom on Thursday to match Italian great Alberto
Tomba's tally of 50 men's World Cup wins.
The six-time overall champion from
Austria became only the fourth male skier to reach that mark, also
joining Hermann Maier (54) and Ingemar Stenmark (86).
On the women's circuit, only
Lindsey Vonn (78), Annemarie Moser-Proell (62) and Vreni Schneider (55)
have passed the 50-win milestone.
"I haven't been following Alberto's
career very closely. For me the 'Sandmann' was more interesting back
then," Hirscher quipped, referring to a character from a German-language
children's TV program in the 1990s.
Tomba, who also won Olympic gold in
slalom and twice in GS, won his last race shortly before retiring in
March 1998, while Hirscher turned nine that month.
"I am very proud of this,
definitely, but I am very thankful on the other side for being healthy
all the time," the Austrian said. Hirscher quickly recovered from
fracturing his left ankle in preseason training in August and didn't
have to sit out a race because of the injury.
He would have missed the
season-opening giant slalom in October but that race was canceled due to
Watched by 11,000 spectators under
floodlights on Thursday, Hirscher beat his Austrian teammate and
first-run leader, Michael Matt, by 0.05 seconds. Henrik Kristoffersen of
Norway was 0.11 behind in third, with another Austrian, Manuel Feller,
trailing by 0.79 in fourth.
"Zagreb is a unique race," said
Hirscher after his fourth win here. "Standing in the finish area, seeing
all the lights from the city, they are shining really bright up to the
hill. It is something really special."
With his third slalom win and fifth
overall this season, Hirscher stretched his lead in the overall
standings to 94 points over second-place Kristoffersen.
The Norwegian got his seventh
podium but is still awaiting his first win of the season. He led the
race with only Hirscher and Matt still to come, and lost his temper and
kicked a chair in the finish area as soon as Hirscher edged his time.
"When I am disappointed, I am not
afraid of (showing) it. I am really disappointed with doing the mistake
on the flat that makes it a third place instead of a win," said
Kristoffersen, the Olympic slalom bronze medalist from 2014.
"I skied so good at the top and so
good at the bottom, so this mistake is what makes me angry. I think, as
an athlete, you are allowed to be angry, and then you let it go."
The result gave Hirscher his 114th
World Cup podium, equaling the Austrian record set by Moser-Proell. Only
Stenmark (155) and Vonn (131) have finished more times in the top three
of a World Cup event.
Matt, the younger brother of 2014
Olympic slalom champion Mario Matt, posted the fastest time and led
Hirscher by 0.21 after the opening run.
Chasing his second career win, Matt
was the last starter in the final run and initially extended his lead
over Hirscher to 0.60 seconds, but his advantage was only 0.17 at the
final split time and he lost over two tenths in the finish section.
"The top section was really good,
but the middle section wasn't that good so I lost lots of time there.
The last five, six gates I didn't push enough," said Matt, who also
finished runner-up in a city event in Oslo last Monday.
The men's World Cup moves to
Switzerland this weekend for a GS and another slalom in Adelboden.
Bellerin rescues Arsenal by clinching 2-2 draw with Chelsea
Arsenal's Hector Bellerin, right, scores his side's second goal during
the English Premier League match against Chelsea at Emirates stadium in
London, Wednesday, Jan. 3. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)
London (AP) — Hector
Bellerin came to Arsenal's rescue in stoppage time to clinch a 2-2 draw
against Chelsea in an absorbing Premier League encounter on Wednesday.
All four goals came in the final
half hour of a game that left third-place and defending champions
Chelsea 16 points behind Manchester City and Arsenal 23 adrift of the
The deficit would have been even
worse for the sixth-place hosts had Bellerin not redeemed himself. The
right back's challenge on Eden Hazard had allowed the Chelsea winger to
cancel out Jack Wilshere's opener in the 67th minute.
Marcos Alonso fired Chelsea in
front in the 84th with his sixth goal of the season, but wasn't as
meticulous back on defensive duties in the second minute of stoppage
time. A headed clearance went straight to Bellerin, who leveled with a
Chelsea were still pursuing the
winner in the third minute of stoppage time when defender Davide
Zappacosta struck the crossbar.
Had striker Alvaro Morata not
missed so many chances this could have been a third consecutive win for
Chelsea. Chelsea are becoming reliant on Alonso for goals, with the
left-sided defender the team's second-highest scorer behind Morata.
On the night when Diego Costa
scored on his return to Atletico Madrid from Chelsea, the ferocious
forward seems just what the champions have required at times.
Instead all Chelsea and Arsenal can
realistically now achieve through the league is Champions League
qualification. Even that could be beyond Arsene Wenger's side, with
fourth place five points away.
Fortune wasn't on Arsenal's side
Alexis Sanchez managed to hit both
posts in the 16th minute — with the ball pinging from one side of the
goal to the other without crossing the line. Then Chelsea goalkeeper
Thibaut Courtois blocked Alexandre Lacazette's low shot on the turn.
After Hazard and Alonso were denied
by Petr Cech at the start of the second half, Courtois used his
sprawling body to again thwart Lacazette.
Wilshere, who had been booked in
the first half for a challenge on former Arsenal teammate Cesc Fabregas,
was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card for diving just before
Wilshere stayed on the pitch and
lit up the game by combining with Mesut Ozil before scoring an
eye-catching goal, slamming a fierce shot off the left hand post and
into the net. In an Arsenal career punctuated by injuries and a season
on loan at Bournemouth, it was Wilshere's first league goal since May
Wilshere's good work was undone
when Bellerin's high challenge on Hazard led to the equalizer from the
"He's always very quick in the
box," Bellerin said. "I saw the ball in the air and I tried to challenge
for it. We both went for the ball at the same time."
Wenger was less diplomatic, calling
it a farcical penalty.
"At the moment we have to face
surprising decisions," Wenger said.
Cech was beaten again when
Willian's cross-field pass reached Zappacosta on the right flank and a
cross was aimed at Alonso, who got ahead of Shkodran Mustafi to turn the
ball into the net.
But Bellerin still found time for
his first league goal since last season.
"I'm happy with the goal but also
happy with the reaction at the end of the game," he said. "It's non-stop
football. We know whenever we play them it's always a hard game, there's
always a lot of entertainment, always really hard, we work hard all
6-time champion Djokovic unsure of playing Australian Open
Djokovic. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Melbourne (AP) - Novak
Djokovic is still not sure whether he will be able to play in the
Australian Open, where he has won six of his 12 major championships.
Djokovic has been dealing with pain
in his right elbow. A statement posted on his website on Wednesday says
he will travel to Australia to participate in two exhibition events
there next week.
After that, the statement says,
"the decision will be made about his participation at the first Grand
Slam of the season."
Djokovic, who is right-handed,
cited the elbow problem on Dec. 30, when he withdrew from this week's
Qatar Open, a hard-court tuneup tournament for the Australian Open.
That was supposed to be the
30-year-old Serb's final competitive preparation before play begins in
Melbourne on Jan. 15.
He previously pulled out of a
United Arab Emirates exhibition tournament.
Djokovic hasn't played in any
tournament since retiring from his match in the Wimbledon quarterfinals
in July because of the elbow injury. At the time, he acknowledged that
his right arm had been bothering him for more than a year but that he
had decided against having surgery.
The extended absence dropped the
former No. 1 player to No. 12 in the current ATP rankings.
Djokovic is hardly alone when it
comes to high-profile men's tennis players dealing with injuries as the
new season begins.
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal, the
runner-up to Roger Federer at the Australian Open last year, withdrew
from this week's Brisbane International tuneup tournament because of a
bothersome right knee. Nadal won the French Open and U.S. Open in 2017
to raise his major count to 16.
Three-time major champion Andy
Murray, meanwhile, also pulled out of the Brisbane International and is
considering having an operation because of a bad hip. Like Djokovic, he
last competed at Wimbledon, nearly six months ago.
Since winning his fourth
consecutive Grand Slam title at the 2016 French Open — becoming the
first man in nearly a half-century with four in a row — Djokovic has
made it past the quarterfinals at only one of the past six major
tournaments, finishing as the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open.
A year ago at the Australian Open,
as the two-time defending champion, he bowed out in the second round
against 117th-ranked Denis Istomin, the first time Djokovic exited so
early at any major in nearly a decade.
US skier Shiffrin takes slalom for 7th WCup win of season
United States' Mikaela Shiffrin, center, winner of an alpine ski,
women's World Cup slalom, celebrates with second-placed Switzerland's
Wendy Holdener, left, and third-placed Sweden's Frida Hansdotter, in
Zagreb, Croatia, Wednesday, Jan. 3. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)
Zagreb, Croatia (AP) —
Mikaela Shiffrin passed the 1,000-point milestone for the women's World
Cup season on Wednesday after just 14 starts.
The Olympic champion from the
United States took a slalom by a huge margin for her seventh win of the
season, and 38th overall.
After skipping two speed races in
Val d'Isere last month, Shiffrin leads the overall standings with 1,081
points after 16 of this season's 38 races. Viktoria Rebensburg of
Germany, who didn't enter Wednesday's slalom, trails by 571 points in
If Shiffrin maintains her point
average, she would finish the season by setting an all-time record of
2,567 points, easily beating the current best mark of 2,414 set by
retired Slovenian standout Tina Maze five years ago.
"I don't know if I will ever be
able to do that. It's not really one of my goals," the American said. "I
also have so much respect for the season that Tina Maze had with so many
points, it was incredible. There is a part of me that hopes that nobody
ever beats that because she should really be remembered as one of the
best ski racers of all time."
Shiffrin, who is the defending
overall and four-time slalom World Cup champion, has won five of the
last six World Cup races, including last week's slalom in Lienz where
she led the field by more than a second after the opening run, a feat
she repeated on Wednesday.
In the second run, Shiffrin defied
strong winds and heavy snowfall to beat Wendy Holdener of Switzerland by
1.59 seconds. Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was 2.11 behind in third, while
Slovakia's Petra Vlhova, the only skier to beat Shiffrin in a slalom
event this season, finished 2.24 off the lead in fourth.
"The second run was much closer,"
said Shiffrin, who started the final leg with a 1.41-second advantage.
"The first run I was really, really aggressive. It seems like, maybe, I
was more aggressive than everyone else."
After winning the Snow Queen
Trophy, Shiffrin was handed a glass crown by Croatian great Janica
Kostelic, though the jewelry dropped off her head and broke in pieces
during the prize giving ceremony as the American struggled to open a
In last year's race on the Sljeme
hill, Shiffrin was eying a record-equaling eighth straight slalom win
but straddled a gate early in her first run.
"I love racing here so I wanted to
come back and have a little bit of redemption and ski aggressive," said
Shiffrin, who also won the event in 2013 and 2015.
"If I am feeling really good with
my skiing, I am confident and prepared, then I can go on the starting
gate and really, really trust myself in my skiing," she added. "Then I
can have these kind of runs that are really fun for me to do but it's
really, really aggressive."
The result stretched Holdener's
streak to 13 slalom podiums without a win, a World Cup record.
The Swiss skier has finished
runner-up in the discipline seven times in total, and five times
Shiffrin was the winner.
To Holdener, however, missing out
on her maiden slalom triumph doesn't frustrate her too much.
"I try, and if it works, it works.
If not, then nothing has happened. I still love to ski, I am happy to be
here and fight with those girls," said Holdener, who did win a city
event and a combined race in 2016.
A men's slalom on the same course
is scheduled for Thursday, while the women's World Cup continues in
Slovenia this weekend. Those races have been moved to Kranjska Gora
because of a lack of snow and mild temperatures in Maribor.
Raonic upset by De Minaur in 2nd round at Brisbane
Milos Raonic of Canada plays a shot in his match against Alex De
Minaur of Australia during the Brisbane International tennis tournament
in Brisbane, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 3. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
Australia (AP) — Former champion Milos Raonic lost in straight sets
to 18-year-old Alex De Minaur in a second-round upset Wednesday at the
Raonic, who won the Brisbane title
in 2016 and reached the Wimbledon final that year, struggled to find
rhythm with his usually booming serve in a 6-4, 6-4 loss to the
Australian wild-card entry.
De Minaur pressured Raonic with his
relentless service returns, made just one unforced error and only
dropped serve once — when serving for the match at 5-2 — en route to the
biggest win of his career.
The victory put De Minaur into a
quarterfinal match against American qualifier Michael Mmoh, who upset
No. 8-seeded Mischa Zverev 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
"It's going to take a while for me
to believe what's happened just now," De Minaur said.
Raonic was playing his first match
since October after taking time out to deal with injuries that also
ruled him out of the U.S. Open last year, when his ranking slipped to
No. 24 — 21 spots lower than his career-high finish in 2016.
"Heavily disappointed," he said. "I
could have served better. I could have moved a little better. I could
have found my way to the net a little bit better.
"I sort of played into his comfort
zone. I didn't do enough to pull him out of it or, when I did, it would
be only for a few points at a time. I wasn't consistent enough and
that's sort of what cost me."
Raonic saved double break points in
his first two service games in the second set, but was finally broken in
the fifth game when De Minaur challenged a call on a second serve, got
it overturned to win the point on a double-fault, and won the next two
points on the back of some impressive returns.
De Minaur broke again in the
seventh game and, after missing the chance to close out in the eighth,
the former Wimbledon junior finalist held his composure to close out.
Asked how he unsettled one of the
better servers in tennis, De Minaur said he threw out the playbook.
"I was just guessing really, I'm
not going to lie," he said. "I tried to change my returning position a
bit to try to throw him off a bit. He probably didn't have his best
serving day, which helped me a lot. I took advantage of it — really
Nick Kyrgios was the first into the
men's quarterfinals, overcoming a knee problem to outlast fellow
Australian Matthew Ebden 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-2.
Third-seeded Kyrgios called for a
medical timeout after nine games and had further treatment two games
later to have his left knee taped.
His movement appeared to be
hampered but he still had too much for Ebden and set up a quarterfinal
match against former Brisbane International runner-up Alexandr
Dolgopolov, who beat Horacio Zeballos 6-1, 6-2.
Defending women's champion Karolina
Pliskova beat Catherine Bellis 6-1, 6-1 in the night match to set up a
quarterfinal against Kaia Kanepi, who beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-3.
Third-seeded Elina Svitolina had a
6-3, 6-1 second-round win over Croatia's Ana Konjuh and will next play
fifth-seeded Johanna Konta.
Qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich
earned a spot in the quarterfinals against Alize Cornet with a 1-6, 7-6
(2), 6-3 win over Anett Kontaveit.
Man City end festive program with 15-point lead in EPL
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring his
side's third goal during the English Premier League match against
Watford at Etihad stadium, in Manchester, Tuesday, Jan. 2. (AP Photo/Rui
Manchester, England (AP) —
Pep Guardiola was eager to discover how Manchester City would react to
seeing their long winning run in the Premier League come to an end.
A goal after 38 seconds — the
quickest of the season — and a convincing 3-1 win over Watford on
Tuesday was an emphatic response.
City ended their grueling,
four-match festive program with a 15-point lead after 22 games. It could
be reduced to 14 points if Chelsea win at Arsenal on Wednesday, but City
are showing no sign of wobbling as they close in on a first league title
Sunday's 0-0 draw at Crystal
Palace, which ended City's record 18-match winning run, tested the
character of Guardiola's side. But the visit of out-of-form Watford to
Etihad Stadium offered the perfect chance to bounce back.
Raheem Sterling gave City the lead
inside a minute — he has now scored the earliest and latest goals in the
league this season — before Christian Kabasele's own goal and a
close-range finish from Sergio Aguero put City 3-0 up. Andre Gray
grabbed an 82nd-minute consolation goal.
"We played really well," Guardiola
said. "After dropping two points, we spoke about our reaction because
big teams drop points, but not too much."
"I think the team showed a lot of
good things today. After two days, it means a lot for us."
Here's what else happened on
Fernando Llorente's first start for
Tottenham came against his former club, Swansea. Almost inevitably, he
The Spanish striker headed in the
opening goal in Spurs' 2-0 win that lifted them to fifth place, four
points off fourth-place Liverpool with a game still in hand. Dele Alli
added the second in the 89th minute at Liberty Stadium.
Llorente's 15 goals last season
were arguably the main reason why Swansea stayed up. He moved to
Tottenham in the summer transfer window and has mostly had to settle for
appearances as a substitute.
It was a third victory over the
festive period for Tottenham, who play West Ham on Thursday.
DOUBLE FOR CARROLL
Andy Carroll scored in the fourth
minute of stoppage time as West Ham fought back to win 2-1 against West
Bromwich Albion, whose winless run stretched to 20 games.
Carroll had already equalized,
canceling out West Brom's opener by James McClean, when he slid in to
fire home Marko Arnautovic's low cross.
West Ham moved a point above the
relegation zone and five points above West Brom. Only three clubs have
endured longer runs without a victory in the Premier League than West
Brom: Derby (32), Sunderland (26) and Norwich (21).
PALACE CONTINUE RECOVERY
Without a point or a goal after
seven games, Crystal Palace are in sight of mid-table in the Premier
League after a 2-1 win at Southampton.
Palace came from behind at St.
Mary's Stadium, bouncing back from Shane Long's first goal in 11 months
with strikes by James McArthur and Luka Milivojevic.
Palace moved up to 14th place, just
three points off 10th-place Watford, and are much improved under Roy
Hodgson since he came in as manager after four games of the season.
Southampton are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Murray withdraws, Muguruza retires with cramps in Brisbane
Garbine Muguruza of Spain plays a shot in her match against
Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia during the Brisbane International tennis
tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 2. (AP Photo/Tertius
Brisbane, Australia (AP) —
Andy Murray's long-term hip injury has forced him out of the Brisbane
International, cast serious doubts over his participation in the
Australian Open and has him contemplating surgery.
Former No. 1-ranked Murray pulled
out of the Brisbane event after failing to practice Tuesday, two days
ahead of his scheduled return to competitive tennis for the first time
"I came here with every intention
of making a strong start to the year, but sadly my team and I don't feel
that I'm where I need to be just yet to compete at the highest level,"
the two-time Brisbane International champion said in a statement.
His withdrawal was confirmed hours
after Garbine Muguruza, the Wimbledon champion and women's top seed,
retired from her opening match because of leg cramps.
Muguruza fell to the court behind
the baseline and had treatment on her legs before retiring from her
opening match against Aleksandra Krunic while leading in the third set
Krunic rallied from 5-2 down in the
second set, forcing the third in a tiebreaker, and earned a spot in the
quarterfinals with a a 5-7, 7-6 (3), 1-2 retired result after almost 2 ½
hours in humid conditions on Pat Rafter Arena.
"I don't really cramp a lot, so I'm
actually surprised that today my body was like that," Muguruza said,
adding that her calf muscles started to cramp early in the second set.
"It's a shame because I always come here excited about the first
tournament, and this one was bad luck, I guess."
Fifth-seeded Johanna Konta reached
the quarterfinals with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Ajla Tomljanovic and
Alize Cornet advanced with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
The Brisbane International had been
Muguruza's only scheduled tuneup event before the first major of the
season gets under way in Melbourne on Jan. 15.
The 30-year-old Murray is also
undecided, planning to stay in Brisbane for a few days before deciding
whether or not to contest the Australian Open or fly home.
Murray said he'd been trying to
rest and rehabilitate the problematic right hip, but realized after some
practice sets in Australia against leading players that he wasn't fit
for competition and needed to reassess his options.
"Obviously continuing rehab is one
option and giving my hip more time to recover," Murray wrote in an
Instagram post. "Surgery is also an option but the chances of a
successful outcome are not as high as I would like which has made this
my secondary option and my hope has been to avoid that."
Murray, a five-time Australian Open
runner-up, hasn't played a competitive match since his quarterfinal exit
at Wimbledon and his ranking has slipped from No. 1 to No. 16.
He's not the only leading player
trying to overcome injury, with top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Novak
Djokovic also trying to recover in time for the Australian Open.
In men's first-round matches in
Brisbane, U.S. qualifier Michael Mmoh beat Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-4,
Chung Hyeon upset fifth-seeded Gilles Muller 6-3, 7-6 (1), Kyle Edmund
rallied for a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Denis Shapovalov and Denis
Istomin beat No. 7-seeded Damir Dzumhur 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2.
Joe Root laments what Ashes could have been for England
England's Joe Root, center, walks onto the Sydney Cricket Ground during
training for the fifth Ashes cricket test match against Australia in
Sydney, Tuesday, Jan. 2. The test begins on Thursday. (AP Photo/Rick
Sydney (AP) — England
captain Joe Root wishes his own form was better on the field, and that
his teammates' behavior was better off it.
The net result is that England go
into the start of the fifth test at the Sydney Cricket Ground having
relinquished the Ashes after Australia won the first three matches of
Root, captaining England for the
first time on an overseas tour, failed to lead the way with the bat,
scoring 237 runs in the first four tests, including a drawn match last
week at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The touring squad's behavior has
also been a distraction for Root and coach Trevor Bayliss, who struggled
to hide his frustration after the drunken actions of Jonny Bairstow and
England A batsman Ben Duckett earlier on the tour.
Bairstow was involved in a
head-butting incident at a Perth bar with Australian opener Cameron
Bancroft, although both players downplayed the incident. Duckett poured
a drink over the head of veteran fast bowler Jimmy Anderson and was
suspended and fined.
Ben Stokes didn't even make the
tour after a late-night incident in Bristol, England in September left
him potentially facing criminal charges.
"I'd make sure no one is
head-butting anyone, and people were more sensible off the field on the
back of what happened in the summer," Root said Wednesday on the eve of
the series finale.
"The way we've practiced and
prepared, we've been excellent. It's just a shame there's been a few
extra instances that could have been avoided. There's definitely stuff
we'll have to take from this trip and make sure ... we don't make those
Root, only 11 tests into his
captaincy, said he hoped to return as captain in four years when the
Ashes is contested again in Australia. And he hopes a win in the SCG
test might build confidence for that 2021-22 tour.
England were swept 5-0 on the
2013-14 tour to Australia, but regained the Ashes at home in 2015 and
had been more confident heading into this series.
"It's really important ... that we
can get a win and build on that for four years' time," he said. "It
would mean a lot to me certainly to give a fairer account of how we've
gone about this trip."
Root points out Australia captain
Steve Smith's 604 runs, including three centuries, in the four tests has
given the hosts the upper hand.
"I'm disappointed ... you see
(Smith's scores), and you want to be the one doing it," Root said. "He's
probably been the difference between the teams. Take his runs out of it,
and we've been there or thereabouts to win. It's a little lesson to me
on leading from the front."
Legspinner Mason Crane could make
his test debut in Sydney. Paceman Chris Woakes has a side strain and
will have scans to determine if he can play.
Bayliss hinted Crane would come
into the starting XI, saying the fifth test was an opportunity to "look
at some different people."
"There's maybe no time like the
present to find out," Bayliss said.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc
could return to the Australian lineup after missing the Melbourne test
with a right heel injury, although selectors may want to prefer to rest
him to ensure he is fully recovered for the four-test South African tour
Ashton Agar could join Nathan Lyon
as a second spinner for the home side.
Thomas makes debut with Cavs, could start soon
Cleveland Cavaliers' Isaiah Thomas warms up before an NBA basketball game
between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tuesday,
Jan. 2, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland (AP) — Isaiah Thomas
is back on the court doing what he does best.
The All-Star point guard made his
long-awaited debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, his first
action since re-injuring his right hip on May 19 in the Eastern Conference
With the crowd stirring, Thomas sat at
the scorer's table before checking in to a loud ovation with 4:33 left in
the first quarter of the Cavs' game with the Portland Trail Blazers.
It didn't take long for the 5-foot-9
Thomas to get involved in the action as he quickly picked up an assist on a
pass to Jae Crowder, who came along with him from Boston in a blockbuster
trade last summer.
Wearing his familiar headband and No.
3, the playmaker missed his first shot and got fouled on a drive to the
basket. Moments later, Thomas dropped a 14-foot pull-up jumper to pull the
Cavs within 28-25.
Then, Thomas drove the lane and scooped
in a left-handed layup while being fouled, the type of play he perfected in
Boston. As he picked himself off the floor, Thomas smiled as Cleveland fans
cheered a play they hope to see many more times.
Thomas missed the Cavs' first 36 games
while recovering from a serious hip injury that knocked him out of last
season's playoffs against Cleveland. Thomas was traded to the Cavs during
the offseason in the blockbuster swap for Kyrie Irving. He'll initially come
off the bench for the Cavs, but could be starting as early as this weekend.
The Cavs are at Orlando on Saturday.
Coach Tyronn Lue said Thomas' minutes
will be restricted as he works himself back into playing shape.
"Once the minutes restriction is off,
once the back-to-back thing is off and he's able to play a lot of minutes,
then it's going to be different," Lue said. "For now, we're just happy to
have him back and see who works well together, what happens and just go from
Thomas has already been ruled out for
Wednesday's game at Boston, where fans will undoubtedly welcome him warmly.
Thomas carried the Celtics last year, playing with a heavy heart following
the death of his younger sister.
Thomas was forced to be patient while
he endured months of sometimes grueling rehab, a process he called his "slow
grind" before he was cleared to play. Lue said Thomas is 100 percent, but
he'll still need to prove he can take some contact.
"Once he hits the floor, gets banged
and sees he has no damage or he's not hurting, I think that will help him
get past the mental block of coming back, being out for seven months," Lue
said. "I'll feel good because I know that he's 100 percent and I know that
just mentally you have to get over it. I've been in a situation where I was
out 10 months (following microfracture surgery) and I know I was scared when
I first came back to play, but you know he's going to be OK."