Djokovic worried about leg, bothered by heckler in Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic says he is worried about his left hamstring after beating 191st-ranked French qualifier Enzo Couacaud 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-0 in the second round of the Australian Open. Djokovic also was bothered by a persistent heckler during the match. Djokovic says his leg is such a concern that he is not practicing on the days before his matches. He is seeking a 10th trophy at Melbourne Park and a 22nd Grand Slam title overall. He took the court knowing that No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal and No. 2 seed Casper Ruud already were out of the tournament.
Brooksby tops No. 2 Ruud; Jabeur out, too; Djokovic wins
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Jenson Brooksby has eliminated No. 2 seed Casper Ruud in four sets in the second round of the Australian Open. This upset comes a day after Mackenzie McDonald beat defending champion and No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal. So a pair of 20-something Californians have knocked out the top two players in the men’s bracket at Melbourne Park. The main beneficiary might be nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic. He won his second-round match Thursday night. The surprises were not limited to the men. No. 2-seeded Ons Jabeur also lost in the second round. Jabeur and Ruud were both runners-up at two Grand Slam tournaments in 2022.
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.
Mackenzie McDonald, who beat Nadal, eyes more in Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It was a long road back to elite-level tennis for Mackenzie McDonald. His victory over defending champion Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open showed just how much things have changed for the 27-year-old Californian who was a college star at UCLA. McDonald tore a hamstring tendon playing doubles at the 2019 French Open and was not able to walk for several weeks. He returned to Roland Garros a year later and faced Nadal there. McDonald was excited about that matchup and lost easily. He went into the rematch this week with more belief and now has a chance to equal his best Grand Slam showing by reaching the fourth round at Melbourne Park.
Cowboys-49ers rivalry set for record-tying 9th playoff game
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — For Kyle Shanahan, the chance to coach the San Francisco 49ers against the Dallas Cowboys in a playoff game is a throwback to when that rivalry was the biggest in football. Shanahan’s formative years were spent watching his father, Mike, as offensive coordinator in San Francisco battling the Cowboys in three straight NFC title games. After the rivalry went dormant for more than a quarter-century as the proud franchises rarely enjoyed success at the same time, it is having a rebirth with San Francisco set to take on Dallas for the second straight postseason when they meet Sunday in the divisional round.
NFL: 5 teams to play home games in Germany, London in 2023
The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots will each play international games during the NFL’s 2023 regular season. The Chiefs and Patriots will play in Germany. The Bills and Titans are the designated home teams for two games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, while the Jaguars will host a game at Wembley Stadium as part of their multi-year commitment to playing in the United Kingdom. Opponents, dates and times for the games will be released when the full schedule is announced later this year. There will be no international game in Mexico in 2023 due to renovations taking place in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
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.
Bills, Bengals focus on playing with Hamlin home, recovering
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Bills and Bengals can refocus on their next matchup now that Buffalo’s safety Damar Hamlin has shown remarkable signs in his recovery some three weeks after collapsing on the field in Cincinnati. Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated in the first quarter of Buffalo’s since-canceled game against Cincinnati on Jan. 2. The teams meet in Buffalo on Sunday in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs. Bills coach Sean McDermott says his team has been uplifted by the sight of Hamlin starting to make regular visits to the team’s facility this week.
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.
Arsenal and Man United back on top in throwback title clash
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The idea of Arsenal and Manchester United going head-to-head for the Premier League title feels like a throwback to a bygone era many younger fans will never have known. The same goes for some players. Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka was only 2 years old when Arsene Wenger’s “Invincibles” won the London club’s last title in 2004. He was 11 when United last won in 2013. The teams face each other this weekend knowing victory would be a significant boost to their respective title ambitions at the expense of the other.