Analysis: Hard to know what’s next for Nadal with hip injury
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — This is hardly the first time Rafael Nadal’s body has betrayed him. That much we know. What no one — not even the 22-time Grand Slam champion himself — can possibly pinpoint accurately is what comes next. There are so many questions. How seriously did Nadal injure his hip during a 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 loss to 65th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald in the Australian Open’s second round? Was there damage to a muscle, joint or cartilage? What will recovery entail? When might Nadal return to the ATP Tour? And how much more of this sort of thing is he willing to put up with? Nadal turns 37 in 4 1/2 months. His loss Wednesday gave him his earliest exit from a major tournament in seven years.
Purdy, Lawrence, Jones have memorable NFL playoff debuts
A trio of NFL playoff quarterback newcomers provided some memorable playoff moments. Brock Purdy, Trevor Lawrence and Daniel Jones all won in their first career starts in the postseason with performances for the history books. This marked the first time since the 2017 season that three QBs won in their first playoff starts in the same postseason. Purdy was the first rookie QBs to account for four TDs in a playoff game, Lawrence led the third-biggest playoff comeback and Jones became the first quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 70 in a playoff win.
Mahomes aims to lead Chiefs to 5th straight AFC title game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes has never failed to reach the AFC championship game in four years as an NFL starting quarterback. To make it five straight, Mahomes will have to lead the Kansas City Chiefs past the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round on Saturday. The All-Pro quarterback is coming off perhaps the finest season of his career, breaking his own franchise record for yards passing while leading the league in touchdown throws. And he’s fueled by a frustrating overtime loss to the Bengals the last time he stepped on the field in the postseason in last year’s AFC title game.
No Brady or Rodgers, no problem for NFL in divisional round
For the first time in 13 years, neither Tom Brady nor Aaron Rodgers reached the divisional round of the playoffs. No problem. The NFL still has plenty of exciting football this weekend featuring Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott and many other stars. The action kicks off Saturday with the Jacksonville Jaguars visiting the Kansas City Chiefs. Jaguars coach Doug Pederson faces his mentor, Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Pederson played for Reid and coached under him in Philadelphia and Kansas City. He also beat him to a Lombardi Trophy. The No. 1 seed Chiefs are coming off a bye and aiming for their fifth straight trip to the AFC championship game.
Pegula, whose family owns Bills, honors Hamlin in Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Tennis player Jessica Pegula has Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on her mind at the Australian Open — and his No. 3 on her outfit. Pegula’s parents own the NFL’s Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. She is wearing a white screen-printed patch with Hamlin’s uniform number on her black skirt while she competes at the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field when he collapsed after making a tackle during a game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2. He spent more than a week in the hospital, part of that time in critical condition. Pegula reached the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Wednesday.
In Paris, Bulls and Pistons enjoy sights, culture and opera
PARIS (AP) — The Detroit Pistons are playing a game in Paris on Thursday night. But two nights before the game, the Pistons were the spectators and the City of Lights played for them. The Pistons had a team party at the Paris Opera House to highlight their trip to France’s capital for a game against the Chicago Bulls. It’s been a midseason immersion into French cuisine, wine and culture for both teams. Everybody saw the Eiffel Tower, everybody saw the Champs-Élysées, but both teams decided they couldn’t come to Paris and not make every effort to enjoy the opportunity.
Chris Ford, champ as player, coach with Celtics, dies at 74
Chris Ford, a member of the Boston Celtics 1981 championship team, a longtime NBA coach and the player credited with scoring the league’s first 3-point basket, has died, his family announced in a statement. He was 74. The family revealed the death through the Celtics. No official cause was given, but the statement said Ford passed away on Tuesday. The Press of Atlantic City reported he died in Philadelphia having suffered a heart attack earlier in the month. Ford was voted the team’s MVP in his first season with Boston. He retired following the 1981-82 season and was an assistant coach for the Celtics for seven seasons from 1983 to 1990, helping coach former teammates Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to two titles in 1984 and 1986.
Titans hire 49ers’ Ran Carthon as 14th general manager
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have hired San Francisco director of player personnel Ran Carthon as their general manager. The Titans announced the hiring Wednesday morning, wrapping up a search that formally started Jan. 12. Carthon will be the franchise’s first minority GM. He is tentatively scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Friday. Controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, who ran the search committee that interviewed seven candidates, said in a statement they are excited to add Carthon with his variety of experience as a player, scout and personnel executive.
Testimony lays bare soccer’s biggest corruption scandal
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government’s star witness in a big-money bribery case engulfing the world of soccer has begun testifying at the trial of two former Fox executives and a marketing company accused of paying millions of dollars to rig the bidding process for broadcasting rights to two of the sport’s biggest competitions. The trial in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn is the latest development in a tangled corruption scandal that dates back nearly a decade and has ensnared more than three dozen soccer executives and associates. The witness, Alejandro Burzaco, alleges that he and former Fox executives Hernan Lopez and Carlos Martinez conspired to bribe South American soccer officials for broadcasting rights to the Copa Libertadores and World Cup.
Flyers’ Provorov cites religion for boycott on Pride night
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox religion as the reason he did not participate in pregame warmups when the team wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow Pride tape. The 26-year-old Provorov did not skate with his teammates before Tuesday night’s game against Anaheim as the Flyers celebrated their annual Pride night in celebration and support of the LGBTQ+ community. Provorov said his choice was to stay true to himself and his religion. He played nearly 23 minutes in Philadelphia’s 5-2 victory.