Red Bull aim to keep Albon, Verstappen and Newey together



FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 – Tuscan Grand Prix – Mugello, Scarperia e San Piero, Italy – September 10, 2020 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon during a press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS

September 25, 2020

(Reuters) – Red Bull are planning to keep an unchanged driver lineup of Alexander Albon and Max Verstappen next year, the Formula One team’s boss Christian Horner said on Friday.

Both are under multi-year contracts but there has been speculation about whether Red Bull will keep Albon alongside the Dutchman or move the Thai back to sister team AlphaTauri in a switch with Frenchman Pierre Gasly.

Experienced drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg are also looking for seats.

“Our intention is to retain Alex, he’s doing a good job, he just needs to build on the kind of performances he put in in Mugello and obviously continue that development,” Horner told reporters at the Russian Grand Prix.

“Our intention is absolutely to retain our current drivers. Alex is our preferred choice.

“Inevitably, you have to be aware of what the other options are out there but our absolute preference and likelihood is to retain the existing driver line-up that we currently have.”

Albon took his first Formula One podium with third place at the previous round at Mugello in Italy.

Horner said he was 100% sure Verstappen would be at Red Bull next year.

So too would top designer Adrian Newey, he added, despite speculation linking the Briton to Racing Point who will be renamed Aston Martin next year.

“He’s been with us for 14 years, he’s very happy within the team, he enjoys working within the environment,” said Horner.

“He’s obviously taken more of a step back in more recent years but he’s still motivated and yes, he will absolutely be with the team next year, without any doubt.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Christian Radnedge)





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Racing 92 v Saracens (Sat)


Alex Goode (10) has stepped into the fly-half role in the absence of the suspended Owen Farrell
Date: Saturday 26 September Kick-off: 14:00 BST Venue: Paris La Defense Arena
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sport website with live text

Saracens have named an unchanged side for their semi-final meeting with Racing 92 and the next stage on a potentially extraordinary defence of their Champions Cup crown.

Alex Goode continues at fly-half in the absence of the suspended Owen Farrell.

Prop Mako Vunipola and scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth are fit after making their comebacks in the last-eight win over Leinster.

Wing Teddy Thomas and second row Donnacha Ryan come into the Racing XV.

The French side have Scotland international Finn Russell at fly-half, with Teddy Iribaren preferred to Maxime Machenaud at nine.

Ryan is joined in the side by another former Ireland international as Simon Zebo starts at full-back. Recently-signed Australia international Kurtley Beale is unavailable after picking up a ban on domestic duty.

Saracens are aiming to win a fourth Champions Cup trophy in five years in a season overshadowed by their forthcoming relegation to the second-tier Championship for persistent breaches of the Premiership’s salary-cap regulations.

The two side were paired in the same pool earlier in the competition with Saracens winning 27-24 at home after a below-strength side suffered a 30-10 defeat in Paris.

Overall Saracens have won six of their previous eight meetings with Racing in the competition, including the victory in the 2016 final that secured the club their first European title.

Several high-profile players, such as Ben Spencer, George Kruis and Ben Earl, have left Saracens since their punishment was announced and it is expected that more will look for loan moves away from the club once their European campaign ends.

The winner of the match will face either Exeter or Toulouse in this season’s final.

Line-ups

Racing 92: Zebo; Thomas, Vakatawa, Klemenczak, Imhoff; Russell, Iribaren (c); Ben Arous, Chat, Colombe, Bird, Ryan, Lauret, Sanconnie, Claassen

Replacements: Baubigny, Kolingar, Oz, Palu, Chouzenoux, Machenaud, Gibert, Trinh-Duc

Saracens: Daly; Lewington, Taylor, Barritt (c), Maitland; Goode, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, George, Koch; Itoje, Swinson; Rhodes, Wray, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Woolstencroft, Barrington, Clarey, Hunter-Hill, Clark, Davies, M Vunipola, Morris.

‘We are doing it for them’ – what they say

Racing 92 scrum-half Teddy Ibaren: “We don’t care about our record against Saracens and it doesn’t give us any more pleasure to beat Saracens than Leinster. We just concentrate on ourselves and what we want is to be European champions.”

Saracens full-back Elliot Daly: “It’s all eyes on this competition for us this year. There are some huge boys in that changing room who won’t be Sarries next year, so we are doing it for them at the moment. We have hopefully two more games.”



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European Masters: Ronnie O’Sullivan beaten by teenage rookie Aaron Hill


Ronnie O’Sullivan won his sixth world title last month

World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was knocked out of the European Masters by Irish teenager Aaron Hill.

The 18-year-old is ranked 115th in the world after turning professional in March and was not born when O’Sullivan, 44, won his first world title in 2001.

In his first match since winning his sixth world title in August, O’Sullivan fought back from 3-1 down to lead 4-3 but Hill took the last two frames to clinch a 5-4 win in the second round.

“I’m speechless,” said Hill.

“If I’d lost after being 3-1 up, I’d have been disappointed. I am just so pleased with that victory.”

O’Sullivan looked to have survived a scare when he made a break of 102 to go 4-3 up in Milton Keynes, and then scored first during the deciding frame.

But Hill produced a break of 78 to wipe out a 28-point deficit and book a meeting with world number 33 Matthew Stevens in the last 32.

“I didn’t just go out there and be happy to be there – I still wanted to win the match,” added Hill.

“Everyone back home, my family and my friends must be buzzing. I just looked at my phone and I think it is going to take until Christmas to reply to everyone.”

O’Sullivan received a bye in the first round after five players had to withdraw because of coronavirus.

Three-time world champion Mark Williams was also knocked out by a tour rookie on Thursday, losing 5-4 to 24-year-old Peter Devlin.

After reaching the World Championship quarter-finals last month, O’Sullivan was asked if he would have believed he and Williams, 45, would still be performing at the top level 26 years after first facing each other.

“Probably not if you asked me then but when you look at the standard of play, I would say yes,” he told BBC Two at the time.

“If you look at the younger players coming through, they are not that good really. Most of them would do well as half-decent amateurs, not even amateurs. They are so bad.

“A lot of them you see now, you look at them and think, ‘I would have to lose an arm and a leg to fall out of the top 50’. That is why we are still hovering around, because of how poor it is down that end.”

Hill responded to O’Sullivan’s comments after Thursday’s win, saying his words were “in the back of my head”.

“I didn’t worry about it,” he added. “I just said to myself when he said it, that one day I am going to show him what I can do. I think today was the day.”



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Golf-McCumber finishes with four-way share of lead in Dominican Republic



FILE PHOTO: Aug 1, 2020; Truckee, CA, USA; Tyler McCumber hits the 6th hole tee during the third round of the Barracuda Championship golf tournament at Old Greenwood. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

September 25, 2020

(Reuters) – A bogey at the penultimate hole dropped American Tyler McCumber into a four-way share of the lead after the first round of the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic on Thursday.

McCumber, who made his PGA Tour debut at the event in 2018, fired a seven-under-par 65 to match his low round on the circuit and share the lead with fellow Americans Scott Harrington, Hudson Swafford and Austria’s Sepp Straka.

“It’s always a good sign when you’re hitting a lot of fairways and putting pretty well, so felt pretty in control of the round today and got some momentum going early and kind of carried it through,” said McCumber, who is the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber.

The four co-leaders were one shot clear of China’s Zhang Xinjun, who capped his round with three consecutive birdies, and American Joseph Bramlett

(This story corrects to bogey, not eagle, in first paragraph)

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Richard Pullin)





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Super Cup: Bayern Munich 2-1 Sevilla (AET) – Javi Martinez scores extra-time winner


Bayern Munich have won four trophies in 2020

Bayern Munich were taken to extra time by a durable and resilient Sevilla in front 15,180 fans in Budapest before adding the Uefa Super Cup to their Champions League trophy.

The showpiece was watched by supporters inside the 67,000-capacity Puskas Arena, the first major European match to allow fans since the coronavirus pandemic forced the game into lockdown.

And they witnessed a hard-fought encounter which saw Sevilla take the lead from the penalty spot on 13 minutes when Lucas Ocampos scored an outrageous “no look” penalty after Ivan Rakitic was bundled over by David Alaba.

Bayern equalised before the break, Leon Goretzka scoring from Robert Lewandowski’s superb touch, with both sides having opportunities to win after the break.

Lewandowski and Leroy Sane saw goals chalked off for Bayern but the biggest chance fell to Sevilla substitute Youssef En-Nesyri in the closing moments, seeing his shot touched away by Manuel Neuer with only the keeper to beat.

Bayern, who last lost in December 2019, clinched victory with substitute Javi Martinez’s 104th-minute header after Sevilla keeper Yassine Bounou could only push out Alaba’s shot.

Bayern’s winning machine rolls on

Martinez
Substitute Javi Martinez scored the winner in extra time

Bayern Munich had to dig deep for victory but there is a fierce conviction in Hansi Flick’s side that made this win almost inevitable, despite another mammoth effort from Sevilla, who had that great chance late on through En-Nesyri.

The European champions, who left the likes of Alphonso Davies out of their starting line-up, looked a little ring rusty despite opening their defence of the Bundesliga with an 8-0 romp against Schalke.

There were still glimpses of the class and threat of Lewandowski and the pace and directness Sane will bring after his move from Manchester City.

Bayern have the look of a relentless, hungry, winning machine and will once again represent a huge threat to their rivals as they prepare to defend the Champions League crown they won against Paris St-Germain.

This victory makes it 32 games unbeaten in all competitions for the treble winners, while they ended Sevilla’s own 21-game unbeaten run.

It was a game with atmosphere as fans returned to the big European occasion, albeit in vastly reduced numbers and also observing social distancing, wearing masks and undergoing temperature checks before the game.

The decision did not win unanimous approval, with opposition from some local officials in Budapest to the game being staged with fans.

It did add atmosphere as fans of both clubs were in attendance despite the rise in coronavirus cases around Europe, with Bayern fans even indulging in some of the traditional baiting in an attempt to Ocampos off as he prepared to take his penalty.

One thing remained unchanged – Bayern Munich ended up lifting the silverware.

Fans
Uefa allowed fans into the stadium as part of a test event in Budapest

Line-ups

Bayern Munich

  • 1Neuer
  • 5Pavard
  • 4Süle
  • 27AlabaBooked at 12minsSubstituted forBoatengat 112′minutes
  • 21HernándezBooked at 90minsSubstituted forMartínez Aguinagaat 99′minutes
  • 18GoretzkaSubstituted forDaviesat 99′minutes
  • 6Kimmich
  • 7Gnabry
  • 25Müller
  • 10SanéSubstituted forTolissoat 70′minutes
  • 9Lewandowski

Substitutes

  • 8Martínez Aguinaga
  • 11Cuisance
  • 14Zirkzee
  • 17Boateng
  • 19Davies
  • 24Tolisso
  • 26Ulreich
  • 30Fein
  • 35Nübel
  • 40Tillman
  • 41Richards
  • 42Musiala

Sevilla

  • 13Bono
  • 16Navas
  • 12KoundéBooked at 55mins
  • 20Santos Silva
  • 18EscuderoBooked at 119mins
  • 8JordánBooked at 45minsSubstituted forVázquezat 94′minutes
  • 25RegesBooked at 70mins
  • 10RakiticSubstituted forTorresat 56′minutes
  • 7Fernández SaezSubstituted forGudeljat 73′minutes
  • 9de JongSubstituted forEn-Nesyriat 56′minutes
  • 5Ocampos

Substitutes

  • 1Vaclik
  • 3Gómez
  • 6Gudelj
  • 11El Haddadi
  • 14Rodríguez
  • 15En-Nesyri
  • 19Acuña
  • 21Torres
  • 22Vázquez
  • 24Fernández
  • 29Gil
  • 31Díaz

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Joy Neville: Former Ireland captain to be first female TMO for men’s Test


Joy Neville was an assistant referee in Saracens’ European Champions Cup quarter-final win over Leinster earlier this month

Joy Neville will become the first female television match official for a top-level men’s rugby union Test when Wales face Georgia on 21 November.

Neville refereed the Women’s Rugby World Cup final in 2017 and was named World Rugby Referee of the Year.

The former Ireland captain has already refereed top-flight men’s matches in European and Pro14 club competitions.

Meanwhile, Nigel Owens will become the first person to take charge of 100 Tests when France face Italy.

Both matches will be part of the Autumn Nations Cup, with France taking on Italy on 28 November.

Owens’ first appointment of the competition will be at Twickenham on 14 November as England host Georgia.

The Rugby World Cup 2015 final referee will reach his milestone in Paris two weeks later, 17 years after his Test debut in February 2003 when he was in the middle for Portugal versus Georgia.

Elsewhere, former Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson – who is a regular official in the English Premiership – will take charge of his first major Test when France play Wales on 24 October.

Former Scotland sevens player Mike Adamson will referee his first major match when England face the Barbarians at Twickenham.



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Djokovic out to make amends in Paris for U.S. Open fiasco



FILE PHOTO: Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – September 21, 2020 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the final against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman Pool via REUTERS/Riccardo Antimiani

September 24, 2020

By Zoran Milosavljevic

BELGRADE (Reuters) – If recent form is anything to go by, world number one Novak Djokovic is perfectly poised to launch a challenge for his second French Open title and an 18th major honour after one of the lowest ebbs of his trophy-laden career.

Djokovic was disqualified from the U.S. Open earlier this month after hitting a line judge in the neck with a petulant swipe of the ball but he bounced back in style by winning his fifth Italian Open title on Monday.

The Serb’s 7-5 6-3 defeat of Argentine Diego Schwartzman brought him a record 36th ATP Masters crown, helping put behind an acrimonious exit at Flushing Meadows during a fourth-round clash with Spaniard Pablo Carrenno Busta.

Djokovic, who stretched his hot streak to 31 wins in 2020, acknowledged the success in Rome had helped him overcome the disappointment of being defaulted in New York in an incident that put him in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

“I did experience mentally some ups and downs in the first four-five days after that happened,” he said.

“Obviously having a tournament a week after helped a lot because I really wanted to get on the court and get whatever trace of that out of the way.

“It was a great week, a very challenging week,” Djokovic said after grinding down Schwartzman at the Foro Italico, having fought back from dropping the opening three games in front of a smattering of fans.

“I found my best tennis when I needed it most. Now we turn to Paris and I couldn’t ask for a better tournament here in Rome.”

There is little doubt that Djokovic will face a strong challenge at the French Open from the tournament’s record 12-times winner Rafa Nadal and Austrian Dominic Thiem, who won his maiden grand slam title in New York.

Nadal was stunned by Schwartman in the Italian Open quarter-finals but Djokovic stressed the Spaniard was still the obvious favourite to triumph in Paris, adding that he’d have to raise his game in order to be a contender.

“He’s the player who has the highest chance of being in the final… if it’s Roland Garros it’s Rafa you bet on,” said Djokovic.

“I don’t think I played my best tennis (in Rome) to be honest, I don’t want to sound arrogant here. I am very satisfied and pleased to win a title. I know I still have a couple of gears.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to raise that level for the French Open because that’s going to be necessary if I want to go deep in the tournament.”

In addition to the Italian Open, Djokovic also won the Australian Open, the Dubai Championship and the Western & Southern Open this season, having also lifted the inaugural ATP Cup with Serbia.

He will now need to hit top gear at Roland Garros if he is to erase the U.S. Open debacle, where he was the hot favourite after Nadal had pulled out due to COVID-19 concerns while Roger Federer is out for the season after knee surgery.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Christian Radnedge)





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Rugby Championship: New Zealand oppose schedule that means Christmas in quarantine


The All Blacks are back in training for autumn and winter internationals

New Zealand Rugby has criticised December’s Rugby Championship schedule because it means players will be forced to spend Christmas in quarantine.

The All Blacks play Australia in Sydney on 12 December and would need to self-isolate for 14 days on their return home under coronavirus protocols.

Argentina and South Africa will also compete in the six-week tournament.

“We haven’t agreed to this schedule and are disappointed at the announcement,” chief executive Mark Robinson said.

“We understand the commercial considerations in the scheduling. However, the wellbeing of our people is an incredibly important factor in this also.”

He added: “All our planning and scheduling was on the basis that the All Blacks’ last match would be on 5 December to give our players and management time to get home, undertake the quarantine back in New Zealand and be with their families for Christmas.”

New Zealand Rugby has now called on the tournament’s governing body SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) and Rugby Australia to reschedule the fixtures, stressing it is “committed” to taking part in the competition.

“We know the scheduling of matches has been a complex and dynamic issue to work through,” Robinson said.

“[But] we believe that there are other solutions within the Rugby Championship window.”

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said they had “exhausted every other option” and the six-week schedule was already “pretty arduous”.

He added: “We’ve got to be cognisant of player welfare but there’s also player safety.”

Rugby Australia says “formal” requests for a condensed five-week tournament were rejected.

“That being said no-one wants players and team management to be away from their families and in quarantine over Christmas,” RA interim chief executive Rob Clarke said in a statement.

“Rugby Australia will do everything in its power to help assist New Zealand Rugby and the team in finding a reasonable resolution.”

World champions South Africa’s participation in the Australia-based tournament will depend on whether a government ban on international sporting competition is lifted.

Rugby Championship fixtures

Round one – Saturday, 7 November, Brisbane

Argentina v South Africa

Australia v New Zealand

Round two – Saturday, 14 November, Sydney

New Zealand v Argentina

South Africa v Australia

Round three – Saturday, 21 November, Sydney

New Zealand v South Africa

Australia v Argentina

Round four – Saturday, 28 November, Newcastle

Argentina v Australia

South Africa v New Zealand

Round five – Saturday, 5 December, Sydney

Argentina v New Zealand

Australia v South Africa

Round six – Saturday 12 December, Sydney

South Africa v Argentina

Australia v New Zealand



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Ellyse Perry in doubt for start of Australian women’s cricket team’s home summer


Star all-rounder Ellyse Perry’s hopes of playing in the first match of Australia’s international summer were dealt a further blow on Thursday after she missed the side’s practice match.

The team’s hierarchy and sports science staff will make a call on Thursday night on her availability for game one of the Twenty20 series on Saturday, but there must be considerable doubt as to whether she will get on the park.

Ellyse Perry is in doubt for Australia’s T20 against New Zealand, more than six months after injuring her hamstring.Credit:AAP

On the comeback trail from hamstring surgery, Perry sat out the 40-over-a-side game against New Zealand at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field. She also failed to take part in the team’s centre-wicket practice session on Monday.

Perry is proficient enough to play as a specialist batter if cleared to field but there will be questions over risking such an important player if she is not 100 per cent fit.



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