Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. TuesdayAndrey Rublev vs. Daniil MedvedevAndrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev secured the ATP Cup for Russia earlier this month, with neither player losing a singles match throughout. In their three meetings on the ATP Tour, Medvedev has come out on top each time, including in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.This may be Rublev’s chance to finally overcome his friendly rival. He has looked particularly dominant, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. His match against Casper Ruud ended after only two sets when the Norwegian withdrew with an injury. Going into the quarterfinals, Rublev has led the field in both percentage of first service points won and second service points won, a sign of how hard it has been for opponents to break his serve.Medvedev has also been playing well, aside from a chaotic, disorganized third round match against Filip Krajinovic. He has now won 18 matches in a row, with his last loss coming in October at a tournament in Vienna. Although the fast surface fits Medvedev’s flat baseline shots, Rublev’s open stance is well suited in defense, and we’re sure to see many dynamic, aggressive point.Rod Laver Arena | 3:30 a.m. WednesdayRafael Nadal vs. Stefanos TsitsipasRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has moved smoothly through the first four rounds, no surprise for a player with 20 Grand Slam titles. Although Nadal won his only Australian Open title over a decade ago, he has reached the finals on four other occasions since, and is a clear favorite in his half of the draw to do so again. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots are well-suited to clay courts where he can drag opponents around with tightly angled shots. Nadal’s ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses with relentless pressure can break most players on their best days.Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP finals winner in 2019, is a study in unpredictability. The fifth seed has a capable all-court game, but lacks the consistency to execute match after match. The 22-year-old has worked to improve this aspect of his game, but needed five sets to push back unseeded Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. After receiving a walkover in the round of 16, Tsitsipas will be well rested and hoping for an advantage against one of the most mentally tough players on tour.
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Serena Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian has fired another shot at Madrid Open owner Ion Tiriac after Williams booked yet another Australian Open semi-final appearance.Williams was in imperious form in her quarter-final clash against Simona Halep, thoroughly dismantling the No.2 seed en-route to a 6-3 6-3 win at Rod Laver Arena.Watch the Australian Open with live streams of every court at 9Now. Click here to start watching!The 39-year-old has looked extremely sprightly after being forced to pull out of the French Open early last year through injury, chasing down balls defensively with the same ferocity she did earlier in her career. Williams’ vintage showing so far in the Australian Open has silenced many of her critics who believed her chances of winning another Grand Slam title were slim, with Tiriac one of the more vocal critics.Williams was in untouchable form against Simona Halep in her Australian Open quarter-final clash (Getty)Following Williams’ dominant display against Halep and advanced to her 40th Grand Slam semi-final, Ohanian made sure to stick the boot into Tiriac on social media.”Good thing no one listens to that racist sexist (clown) Tiriac,” he tweeted.The tweet wasn’t the first time Ohanian had taken aim at Tiriac and called him racist and sexist, after also doing so late last year when Tiriac called out Williams’ physique.”At this age and the weight she is now, she does not move as easily as she did 15 years ago,” Tiriac said on Romanian TV.”Serena was a sensational player. If she had a little decency, she would retire.” Williams’ improved lateral movement has stood out so far in her Australian Open campaign, with her agility a far cry from the version of her fans saw in Melbourne Park last year when she was hampered by ankle and Achilles issues.Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou admitted this week that her withdrawal from the French Open last year had allowed the 23-time Grand Slam winner to get out of a “vicious circle”.Williams’ lateral movement has been noticeably improved after she had been hampered by injuries (Getty)”We’ve been struggling those last years because she had a lot of injuries, so she was not able to practice the way we wanted,” he said.”It’s a bit of a vicious circle because when you can’t practice well, you don’t get fit. When you’re not fit, you get more injured. We had to get out of this vicious circle.”In Roland Garros she had an injury that could get really worse, and that would have been extremely bad. That was definitely the right decision to stop, to heal, and to start working hard because she was able after that to do the necessary work in order to get fit.”Now we’re more in a virtuous circle than a vicious one. You have to start that virtuous circle by being fit, then everything goes better.”For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
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Europa League action returns in midweek with the Round of 32 games played on Thursday. Each of the matches are scheduled to be shown live on TV, promising a night of entertainment for armchair fans. In this article, our team of football experts focus on the game in Belgium where local side Royal Antwerp take on Steven Gerrard’s Scottish Premiership champions in-waiting Rangers from 20:00
Antwerp runners up behind Spurs
Antwerp finished as runners up in Europa League Group J. Stats of four wins and two defeats gave a dozen points which meant they finished just one behind pool winners Tottenham, two better than LASK in third. Royal scored eight goals in their six previous games but conceded five and that’s something that will concern the new coaching team.
In the Belgium First Division A, we find Antwerp in second place trailing leaders Club Bruges who look home and hosed as champions this term. Bruges have 60 points on the board ahead of Antwerp on 47 and Genk on 43. The home team’s main concern between now and the end of the season will be holding their ground and securing Champions League football next term.
Gers heading towards 55
Rangers were unbeaten in their Europa League group and finished as winners of what had been billed as a competitive pool. The Gers were pulled from pot four and added to Group D, but they defied the odds to win four games and draw the other two, scoring 13 goals while conceding seven. 14 points placed them two ahead of runners up Benfica and 10 better than Standard Liege in third.
As well as their success on the continent we have seen Steven Gerrard’s Rangers dominate Scottish football. The Gers are now within four games of clinching their first title in 10 years. This year’s gong would be a double celebration for Rangers, winning a 55th Scottish championship and ending Celtic’s hopes of clinching a record 10-in-a-row.
Antwerp vs Rangers prediction
Antwerp are well off the pace domestically and are missing a few key players, including their star striker. Replacing him in attack is a man not long back from injury. Keeping a clean sheet will be Gerrard’s main aim but the visitors will shoot for the first leg lead.
Europa League odds
Antwerp are 4.04 to win with 22bet offering Rangers at 2.58 and the draw 2.27.
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European Team of the Week: Ilkay Gundogan and Lionel Messi join hat-trick hero Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Every week we pick 22 of the best performing players in Europe’s top five leagues and, with your help, narrow it down to the best XI.
Using polls on our Instagram stories, we pit players in each position against each other and let you decide who deserves to make the cut.
Follow our Instagram page to get involved.
Here’s what our latest European Team of the Week looks like:
GK: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
Earned his 12th clean sheet of the season and Villa a point in difficult circumstances. Brighton were well on top and exerted pressure on his goal, but a stunning nine saves kept them at bay.
RB: Matthew Lowton (Burnley)
Undoubtedly his best performances of the season, excelling at both ends of the pitch. Lowton made three tackles, three interceptions and five clearances in a fine defensive display but really caught the eye in attack with three key passes and one outstanding volley to score at the end of a superb run.
CB: Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina)
Solid at the back and certainly didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side. Stood out with 11 defensive actions in a 2-1 defeat to Sampdoria, including five interceptions and he even managed to hit the woodwork at the other end.
CB: Diego Carlos (Sevilla)
A rock at the back as Sevilla secured a 1-0 victory at home to Huesca. Made a staggering 11 clearances in the process and was good on the ball, boasting a success rate of 92.7 per cent.
LB: Ola Aina (Fulham)
Perfect ball across for Josh Maja to score the first goal at the end of a fluid Fulham attack. He put in a shift in defence as well. No one made more than his five clearances during the 2-0 win over Everton.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan (Man City)
The Premier League’s Player of the Month continued in his rich vein of form. He was excellent in midfield and tormented Tottenham with his well-timed runs forward, bagging a brace. He sat Davinson Sanchez down before slotting home for his second goal.
CM: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
Dictated the tempo of the game with his exceptional distribution. The German played 107 passes at 94.4-per-cent accuracy. He picked up an assist for the opener and then passed the ball into the back of the net with ease to get himself on the score sheet as well.
CM: Nabil Fekir (Real Betis)
Took his goal superbly, showing great strength to hold off the defender before checking back onto his weaker right foot and dispatching the finish with aplomb. He posed a constant threat with a game-high five shots in the 2-1 win at Villarreal.
FW: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Vintage Messi, skipping past challenges and scoring from range. He hammered in his first in emphatic fashion, but his second was a thing of beauty, curling a sublime effort into the corner from the edge of the box with minimal back-lift. He even bagged an assist, by setting up Trincao.
FW: Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)
Reached 300 goals for club and country by scoring a brace in a 3-1 win over Lazio that fired Inter to the top of Serie A. He made no mistake from the spot and then took advantage of some suspect defending for his second. He then showed immense pace and power to assist Lautaro Martinez on the break.
FW: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Leeds and even hit the woodwork. He cut in expertly to score the opener, converted a penalty and then headed home Emile Smith-Rowe’s cross.
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GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – DECEMBER 06: David Bakhtiari #69 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field on December 06, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)Restructuring David Bakhtiari’s contract will give the Packers over $8 million in additional salary cap room in 2021. What will Green Bay do with it?David Bakhtiari isn’t giving any money back to the Packers over the long haul, but his decision to convert a roster bonus into a signing bonus is giving Green Bay approximately $8.3 million more in 2021 cap space to work with. The pressure is now on the team’s front office to use the money to get Bakhtiari and his teammates back to the Super Bowl.Packers fans shouldn’t get too excited. This move won’t permit Green Bay to become massive spenders in free agency. At the moment, they’re still projected to be over the 2021 salary cap. Bakhtiari’s move gives the team some much-needed breathing room, but it won’t be enough to allow them to reel in a big-time free agent.This piece identifies three impactful moves the Packers can now make after the Bakhtiari news. None projects to be an absolute game-changer for Green Bay, but both could be very helpful in the team’s pursuit to give Aaron Rodgers one more shot at winning a Lombardi Trophy.The #Packers recently created about $8.3M in cap space by converting LT David Bakhtiari’s more than $11M roster bonus into a signing bonus and spreading it out over the length of the contract. He’ll make the same as before, but it gives GB some room to operate.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 13, 20213. Make J.J. Watt a competitive offerOver a dozen NFL teams have already expressed interest in Watt after the Texans’ decision to let him go. Predictably, the Packers are one of the interested parties.The $8 million and change saved via the Bakhtiari deal isn’t going to be enough to land Watt, but it gets Green Bay within range to land the veteran edge rusher. It’s unlikely that he’s going to make his decision based purely on money, but Green Bay still needs to make a credible offer if they want to fend off the competition. This move gives the Packers a chance to bring Watt home in free agency.
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Karachi: Lahore Qalandars have appointed pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi as the vice-captain for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season six.
The 20-year-old Shaheen has been with the Qalandars since the third edition of the PSL and has emerged as the core member of the franchise.
Aaqib Javed, LQ’s director of Cricket said that Shaheen Shah Afridi is face of Lahore Qalandars. His dedication towards Qalandars’ mindset is remarkable.
“Shaheen Afridi is a world class cricketer with exceptional bowling skills, his commitment and dedication for the team is unmatched and he is keen to take the team to the next level” said Aqib Javed.
Shaheen Afridi, in his message, thanked the Lahore Qalandars management and aimed to contribute towards team’s success.
“I am thankful to Lahore Qalandars’ management for this opportunity and really looking forward to play my part in success of Lahore Qalandars team” said Shaheen Afridi in his message.
Shaheen has taken 34 wickets in 27 matches. He was Qalandars’ leading-wicket taker of PSL 2020.
Read: Multan Sultans announce Mohammad Rizwan as captain for PSL 6
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IPL 2021: As part of its commitment to harnessing potential, and grooming young talent across India, Rajasthan Royals, in partnership with the Assam Cricket Association, today announced the launch of the State Cricket Academy, Assam powered by Rajasthan Royals in Guwahati. The IPL franchise has announced their first academy in the North East, which is in line with their vision of discovering, nurturing, promoting and providing a platform to young talent.
The Academy is based in Guwahati’s Barsapara stadium and will cater to young cricketers (men and women) across Assam and other north-eastern states. The Royals, through this academy will also help develop an elite group of Assam Cricketers through a complete training and education programme including both on and off the pitch essentials, ensuring their all-round development. The academy will also see knowledge and training imparted by the RR expert coaching team to the coaches of the Assam Cricket Association to aid them in improving the overall value chain of coaching.
Commenting on the partnership and the opportunities it brings to all parties, Rajasthan Royals Chairman Ranjit Barthakur said: “Development has always been the essence of the Royals’ Cricketing operations and this partnership with the ACA is yet another step in the right direction. After having successfully launched and run youth programmes in Jaipur, setting up academies across the country was something that was always on the cards for us. I’m delighted to start our North East journey by setting up this academy in Guwahati. With our partnership with ACA, we aim to keep the whole of the North-east in mind, wherein we aim to bring in around 1000 cricketers through the system, who will be capable of playing at the highest level with inputs from the RR team.”
The Assam Cricket Association have expressed their delight at this partnership, Shri Romen Dutta, President, Assam Cricket Association said that the prized partnership would go a long way in producing quality cricketers from Assam. He also shed light on the various ambitious infrastructural projects being taken up by the Assam Cricket Association across the State for the development of Cricket in the region.
Speaking at the launch, Rajasthan Royals Riyan Parag said, “I’m absolutely delighted about the launch of this cricket academy in Guwahati. I have witnessed first-hand the passion and talent that exists in the region and I have no doubt that the academy kids will benefit greatly from the Royals brand of cricket coaching. The academy will be fantastic for the budding cricketers in the region.”
The Royals, through this partnership, will create a detailed plan and layout of the academy functioning – providing quality control and support for the players and the coaching staff. The academy will be the nucleus for cricket development in the entire North East. The plan will then move on to be implemented in the further academies to be set up across India including one to be launched in the near future in Rajasthan.
The Jaipur-based franchise will set-up development pathways for elite players through participation opportunities in matches against the RR youth sides and through involvement in the RR practice sessions. The top elite players will also have the opportunity to be part of the Rajasthan Royals trials ahead of the next auction.
The Assam Cricket Association will be in charge of the day-to-day operations including the management of the resources. The ACA will also build the infrastructure for the academy which will include the ground and the other requisite facilities.
The Assam Cricket Association have expressed their delight at this partnership, Devajit Saikia, Secretary Assam Cricket Association said “ACA-RR tie up is going to boost our skill development programme for budding as well as frontline cricketers of Assam as RR’s youth development and talent search programme is a success story. Hope boys of Assam and the entire North East will reap major benefits from this endeavour of ACA.”
At 23, Rublev is two years younger than Medvedev and grew up playing junior tournaments against him in Russia. For a long time Rublev, seeded No. 8, and Karen Khachanov, 24, the third member of Russia’s latest golden generation, were better than Medvedev. The rise for Medvedev came in 2018 and 2019, when he nearly beat Rafael Nadal in the 2019 United States Open final.“He reads the game really well,” Rublev said of Medvedev. “It’s amazing, the patience he has to stay so long in the rallies, to not rush, to take the time, because in the end these little details, they make him who he is.”Russia is the only country with two players in the top 10. Khachanov gives it three in the top 20. Aslan Karatsev, 27, another Russian ranked No. 114, came out of nowhere to make the quarterfinals here in his first Grand Slam tournament.Medvedev comes into the quarterfinal on perhaps the best roll of his career. He has won 18 consecutive singles matches. He won the ATP Tour finals in London in November, pulling off the nifty trick of beating the world’s top three players — Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Dominic Thiem — in a single tournament. For Russia at the ATP Cup, he beat Alexander Zverev of Germany, a 2020 U.S. Open finalist, in a tight, three-set match in the semifinal round.Medvedev spent his early childhood in Moscow and played few sports other than tennis growing up. He worshiped Russia’s last golden generation, which included Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who were in their prime when he was a young child. He moved to France to train as a teenager and became fluent in English and French.Medvedev could be heard screaming at his coach, Gilles Cervara of France, in French during his third-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, as he frittered away a two-set lead before recovering to win the final set, 6-0.
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After a bumpy start to the 2020-21 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors are getting back in form. They made several changes to their roster in the offseason and it took some time for the players to settle in. But with the All-Star break almost here, the Dubs are looking consistent. The credit for their newfound success goes to none other than their veteran duo of Steph Curry and Draymond Green. Recently, the two stars flaunted their skills against the Cavaliers in a comfortable 129-98 victory. Curry continued his hot scoring streak with 36 points against the Cavs. On the other hand, Green handled the facilitating duties for the team as he finished the game with 16 assists. The two stars have shouldered the burden for the team in the absence of Klay Thompson. But can the Warriors go all the way and win another championship? We will find out in the coming months. Steph Curry and Draymond Green: The two pillars for the Golden State Warriors Golden State Warriors forward Kent Bazemore (26) and forward Juan Toscano-Anderson (95) and guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward Draymond Green (23) during the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsFollowing this sensational victory, Juan Toscano-Anderson gave an interesting post-game interview. He said: “I am a beneficiary of these guys, their hall of fame IQ. You know Draymond [Green] had 16 assists today and that’s amazing from our starting center. Last five games, he’s in double digits assists. … Either Steph [Curry] is open or Imma be open. “I’m aware that the defense ain’t gonna leave him so I just find those gaps and get those easy buckets. I know Draymond sees everything. Sometimes he sees it a little too quick before any of us see it, but it’s great to play with a guy like that.” Draymond Green has always been an amazing playmaker for the Dubs. Even during their stretch of dominance in the mid 2010s, he took on the role of a facilitator for their championship teams. This season, he is elevating his game further in that department. READ MORE | Steph Curry and LeBron James Ready to Move On From Intense Rivalry But is this enough for the Warriors to win another championship? Feel free to share your thoughts. Get notified about breaking news and watch highlights on the go; join the Arena on NBA Hoops
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The European action returns this week, as the battle in the Europa League resumes. Ajax would have been hoping to still be in the Champions League, but a third-place finish in their group means that they will now be in the second-tier competition in the second half of the season.
Europa League Preview
Ajax narrowly missed out on qualification for the knockout round of the Champions League after finishing below Liverpool and Atalanta in their very competitive group. Their pedigree in European action ensures that they remain a side that could do well in the Europa League this season, but they will be coming up against a side that have proven throughout the season that they are growing. Ajax themselves have proven that their next wave of talented young players could be up for the challenge this season, as they are six points clear in the Eredivisie at present. They have won their last five games, which includes the 2-0 success that they recorded against Heracles at the weekend. Sebastien Haller scored the second in that win, but the former West Ham striker will not be eligible to play in the knockout round of the Europa League after an administrator error.
Lille remain in a strong position in Ligue 1 this season, as they are still top of the league despite being held in their most recent fixture. The league title remains a dream for Lille, as they are likely to be put under immense pressure by PSG in the second half of the season. However, the fact that they have lost just two games in 25 domestic league fixtures highlights that they are a side that Ajax should take very seriously in the first leg of the meeting in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Lille vs Ajax Head To Head
These two European sides haven’t come up against each other many times in recent history. In fact, they have only played each other twice, with those meetings coming in the Champions League group stages in the 2019-20 season. Ajax won both meetings, and scored a total of five goals in the two games.
Lille vs Ajax Prediction
While the last two meetings only came less than two years ago, Lille have grown immeasurably as a team during that period. The first leg will be crucial to determine which side progresses, but we expect the French side to take a slender lead back to the Netherlands with them.
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