All posts by phnseo

Zverev stunned at Basel, ATP Finals spot at risk

Second-seeded Alexander Zverev was eliminated in the first round of the Swiss Indoors on Tuesday, losing 7-6 (7), 6-4 to Taylor Fritz.

Zverev led 4-0 in the first-set tiebreaker and later held a set point before Fritz took his opportunity to clinch it with an ace.

The 31st-ranked American got the only service break of the match in the third game of the second set and converted his first match point with a two-handed backhand winner.

The defeat rules out a possible final against top-seeded Roger Federer, who part owns the agency which manages the sixth-ranked German’s career.

The loss also harms Zverev’s chances of defending his ATP Finals title next month.

He is seventh in the season-long standings to progress to the eight-man event in London.

The German’s defeat to the 21-year-old American came barely a week after defeat in the Shanghai Masters final to Daniil Medvedev and puts his chance of defending his ATP Finals title in London at risk. “I was completely flat for some reason,” he said. “I was tired and not focused at all. It was a weird feeling.”

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Zverev conquered the season-ending tournament last November, beating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic back-to-back.

The season points race will be determined next week at the Paris Masters as the last two of the eight spots are decided.

“The way I played today, in my current mental stage, I’m not going to beat anybody,” Zverev, ranked seventh in the world, said.

“I’m very disappointed but it’s more about myself than the result.”

Zverev, a semi-finalist last year in Basel, fought hard to take the opening set into a tiebreaker, but was overwhelmed in the second by his American adversary in 86 minutes.

“Normally I really enjoy it on court, the tough moments, the fighting,” Zverev said. “But today I was completely out of it. I may go home for a few days and clear my mind. I’ll try to do well in Paris and hopefully make it to London.”

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49ers trade for Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders

The San Francisco 49ers pronounced on Tuesday they have obtained WR Emmanuel Sanders and a 2020 fifth round pick from the Denver Broncos in exchange for the team’s third and fourth round picks next year. Sanders must pass a physical for the trade to be executed.

“Emmanuel is a passionate football player whose toughness and competitive nature have helped him become a dynamic playmaker in this league,” said 49ers General Manager John Lynch.

“He possesses a number of qualities, on and off the field, that we value in our players. His familiarity in a similar offensive system will allow for a quick transition. We are excited to add Emmanuel to our roster and look forward to seeing him positively impact our team.”

Sanders (5-11, 180) was first drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round (82nd overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Throughout his 10 NFL seasons with the Steelers (2010-13) and Denver Broncos (2014-19), he has performed in 134 games (95 starts) and registered 565 receptions for 7,391 yards (13.1 average) and 39 touchdowns.

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A two-time Pro Bowl selection (2015 & 2017), Sanders has also performed in eight postseason contests (four starts) and racked up 36 receptions for 448 yards and was a member of the Broncos Super Bowl 50 Championship team at Levi’s Stadium. This season, Sanders has started all seven games with the Broncos and registered 30 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns.

Off the field, Sanders was selected as a Broncos Community Ambassador winner in 2017 after launching the Emmanuel Sanders Foundation, which supports financially disadvantaged families with support and resources.

A 32-year-old native of Bellville, TX, Sanders attended Southern Methodist University where he finished his collegiate career as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (235), receiving yards (3,791), receiving touchdowns (34) and 100-yard receiving games (16). As a senior, he was named First-Team All-Conference USA and set single-season school records with 98 receptions for 1,339 yards along with seven touchdowns.

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Nishikori to have season-ending elbow surgery

Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up, will have season-ending surgery on his right elbow and is pointing to be ready to go for the start of 2020.

Nishikori’s manager, Olivier van Lindonk, wrote in an email Monday that the right-hander from Japan will have a “small procedure removing two small bone spurs” in the elbow.

The procedure is programmed for Tuesday. That means Nishikori will miss the Paris Masters indoor hard-court tournament next week and the Davis Cup Finals that begin in Madrid on Nov. 18.

Van Lindonk said the goal is for Nishikori to be able to begin his offseason training for 2020 at the start of December. The next Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, starts Jan. 20.

Nishikori has not competed since a third-round loss at the U.S. Open in September.

According to van Lindonk, Nishikori has struggled with irritation in his elbow since the French Open in May. Despite that, Nishikori reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros before losing to 12-time champion Rafael Nadal, then followed that up by also reaching the round of eight at Wimbledon in July before losing there to eight-time champion Roger Federer.

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“He has tried to heal this with rest,” van Lindonk wrote, mentioning five tournaments that Nishikori pulled out of because of the problematic elbow, and added: “But time has proven that rest & rehab was not enough.”

The 29-year-old Nishikori has been ranked as high as No. 4 and is presently No. 8. He closes 2019 with a 29-14 record and one title.

Nishikori and two-time Grand Slam title winner Naomi Osaka, who also plays for Japan, are projected to be two of the biggest stars at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He was the first man born in Asia to reach a major championship final when he was the runner-up to Marin Cilic at Flushing Meadows five years ago. And at the U.S. Open a year ago, Nishikori and Osaka gave Japan a men’s semifinalist and a women’s semifinalist at the same Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

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Jaylen Brown agrees to 4 year deal with Celtics

Negotiations may have been contentious, but Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics succeeded to get on the same page before Monday’s rookie contract extension limit. 

Brown agreed to a four-year, $115 million contract extension with the Celtics, his agent Jason Glushon confirmed. That deal is a far cry from the four-year, $80 million pact Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Boston was offering. The sides typically start far apart on negotiations like this, but bridging such a large gap so close to the deadline is an impressive feat. Brown’s deal includes no player or team options. 

This is the first rookie extension that Boston has signed any player to in a decade. The last Celtic to extend prior to hitting free agency was Rajon Rondo in 2009.  Brown is now locked in through the 2023-24 season with the Celtics. Assuming Jayson Tatum re-signs next offseason as intended, Boston will have Brown, Tatum, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart signed for at least three more years in total. For a Boston team that has experienced significant roster turnover during the last several seasons, that kind of continuity is going to be critical. 

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Brown’s numbers declined last season from their heights during the 2017-18 campaign.

His points, assists and rebounds per game all fell along with his 3-point and effective field goal percentages. But Brown was forced to the bench for much of the season in a locker room whose chemistry was notably poor. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported in June that Brown did not have a strong relationship with Kyrie Irving, and in January he openly refuted comments Irving made that were critical of teammates. 

Irving is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets, but having Brown go into the season without a long-term contract could have proven just as destructive in the locker room. Now that he has been taken care of financially, the Celtics have every reason to believe that their team’s camaraderie will be enriched this season. If he returns to the starting lineup on a full-time basis, which will likely be the case with Marcus Morris and Al Horford gone, Brown’s numbers should bounce back. 

If they do, Boston’s bright future is back on track. It may have been a tumultuous year, but with Brown and Tatum in place, the Celtics should be able to contend for a long, long time. 

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Lakers Kyle Kuzma to miss season opener against Clippers

The team declared Sunday that Kuzma will miss opening night versus the Los Angeles Clippers. A statement from the Lakers that came earlier this month disclosed that Kuzma was still not cleared to take the floor after the left foot injury he sustained during his time with USA Basketball.

“There’s still progression to be had,” said Vogel. “He was very limited with what he did today, and it was all non-contact in limited duration. It’s going to take some time for him to get his legs under him and build up to the point where he’s playing live with contact, and then some time where we want to see him perform in that and respond well to that before we clear him to play.”

Kuzma played in just one exhibition game in late August with Team USA before sitting out the remainder of the summer in order to heal.

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The lingering nature of the injury isn’t ideal for the Lakers, who are entering their first season with Frank Vogel as head coach and obtaining Davis — and making a plethora of other moves over the offseason — and they expect Kuzma, 24, to play a major role in their success this season. Thus, they would obviously like to have him healthy and out on the floor during camp to gain familiarity with the system and his new teammates. 

Kuzma averaged 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33.1 minutes of action per game for the Lakers last season. 

The Clippers will be without superstar forward Paul George as well, making opening night an unusual battle of attrition.  Kuzma is in his third NBA season after being drafted out of Utah in 2017. The Lakers declined to trade him this summer when they acquired Anthony Davis from New Orleans, and Kuzma is now the only player drafted by the Lakers before 2019 to remain on the team.

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Chargers lose to Titans in a stunning way

This loss was ugly, but it was one of those games in which the Chargers had their fans jumping up and down with enthusiasm only to fail in incredibly shocking fashion.

The Titans held a 23-13 lead late in the fourth quarter but the Chargers rallied, starting with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Austin Ekeler to bring them within three points. After holding the Titans, including stopping them on a 4th-and-inches play around midfield, they only needed a field goal to tie.

The Chargers drove all the way down to the Titans’ 1-foot line. They needed to just fall into the end zone, but they also had no timeouts left. On first down, they handed the ball to Melvin Gordon. He bobbled the exchange and fell on it close to the goal line, but replays showed he was short. But let’s rewind it a bit. The Chargers got the ball into this position on a 16-yard completion to Ekeler that was initially ruled a touchdown. Replays showed that Ekeler came down just shy of the goal line.

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After Gordon was stopped, the Chargers lined up again with 22 seconds left on the clock. Gordon got the call again and again, fumbled the ball. It came through the pile and after a wild review period on the field, replays showed the Titans recuperated the ball.

The Chargers are now 2-5 and looking at a tough road to make the playoffs.

Gordon’s 2019 season has been, in a word, awful. He really felt like he deserved more money? Well, he didn’t then and he certainly doesn’t now. It’s been said before and it might be clear now. The Chargers are better without him. Ekeler had another solid game, despite being given limited snaps due to the team’s insistence to work Gordon in. The trade deadline is just over one week away and the Chargers should absolutely consider moving their former first-round pick.

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Zion Williamson to miss Pelicans’ preseason finale with knee soreness

The New Orleans Pelicans stated Thursday that rookie Zion Williamson will miss his team’s final preseason game versus the New York Knicks on Friday.

The forward is dealing with knee soreness, but this will give him an opportunity to rest up for the regular season, which initiates for the Pelicans next Tuesday on the road versus the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

Williamson enters his first season with high expectations as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, and so far he hasn’t disappointed.

After scoring 16 points in his preseason debut versus the Atlanta Hawks this month, the Duke product has been on fire. Williamson has appeared in all four of the Pelicans’ preseason games, averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds while playing 27.3 minutes. He also shot an extremely impressive 71.4 percent from the floor. 

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On a team featuring veteran players like Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick as well as other promising players like Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, Williamson is already establishing himself as a go-to option offensively.

However, the latest knee problem could raise concerns if it forces him to miss more time. The 19-year-old didn’t travel with the team and is set to undergo further testing, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

Nicolo Melli, a 29-year-old rookie and nine-year Euroleague veteran, could see extra playing time with Williamson unavailable.

Williamson hadn’t missed any time in training camp and was seen walking around Pelicans practice on Wednesday afternoon.

While at Duke last season, Williamson suffered a mild right knee sprain when his sneaker gave out seconds into a game versus North Carolina. He missed six games total. New Orleans opens the regular season Tuesday in Toronto versus the defending champs.

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Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes suffers patella dislocation

Patrick Mahomes suffered a serious knee injury during the second quarter of Thursday night’s 30-6 win over the Denver Broncos.

The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback went down with the injury with 10:00 left in the second quarter following a fourth-down QB sneak. Mahomes was supervised by trainers on the field before walking off with them into the Chiefs locker room. The team quickly ruled him out with a knee injury.

“Not many people get hurt on a sneak, so it’s a freak thing,” Reid said. “It happens. I was proud of our guys stepping up. They didn’t let down. You’ve seen that over the years. You’ve seen teams let themselves down after one of your best players or the best player gets hurt, particularly the quarterback. … They really upped their game, I thought.”

Matt Moore arrived the game at QB for Mahomes with Kansas City leading 10-6.

Moore led Kansas City on eight more drives with six ending in a punt, one in a field goal and one in a Tyreek Hill 57-yard receiving touchdown. Moore, 35, finished 10-of-19 for 117 yards and a TD.

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“Matt did a nice job of stepping in there,” Reid said of Moore’s performance. “We didn’t have to really back down on anything we had called. We were able to pick up from right where we left off, so I was proud of him. He’s not getting any younger. So for him to get in there and do what he did, that’s a heck of a job.”

“I was devastated for him,” Moore offered of Mahomes. “Obviously, he’s been dinged up. He’s popped up pretty quick before, so this one wasn’t that case. I just hope he’s OK, you know?

“But, at the same time, we got to go win a football game. I’ve been in this position before. You just kind of got to move forward and go. Just wish him the best.”

Mahomes was seen in the locker room with a brace on his knee, breaking down the Chiefs after the win. The QB exited after three drives with a stat line of 10-for-11, 76 yards and a touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman.

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Alexis Sanchez out for three months after going ankle surgery

Alexis Sanchez is set to be out for three months after undergoing ankle surgery on Wednesday.

The Manchester United forward, who is on loan at Inter Milan for the season, picked up the injury while on international game when he went down during the second half of a 0-0 friendly draw with Colombia on Saturday.

Following the match, the Chile Football Federation revealed that Sanchez had suffered “dislocated tendons”.

Inter’s evaluation of the injury produced the same diagnosis as the Chilean will now be out of action until 2020 after undergoing surgery in Barcelona on Wednesday.

“Alexis Sanchez went to Barcelona this morning for a consultation with Dr Ramon Cugat. The visit confirmed the diagnosis of the Nerazzurri medical staff, it was therefore decided to proceed with surgery on the left ankle,” the club said in a statement.

Sanchez joined Inter from United this summer, completing a season-long loan to the Serie A club after struggling to find any sort of form at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. After showing one of the Premier League’s most prolific scorers during his time with Arsenal, scoring 80 goals in 166 appearances, Sanchez moved to Man Utd in January 2018.

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However, he never reached those dizzying Emirates heights during his time in Manchester, as the Chilean fired just five goals in 45 matches before heading to Inter this summer.

Sanchez has made four appearances for Inter since joining the club, scoring one goal in a 3-1 win over Sampdoria that also saw him sent off.

However, he will now miss out on a number of crucial matches in both Serie A and the Champions League.

Inter now sit second in the Champions League, one point behind league-leaders Juventus through seven matches played.

The Italian club also faces an uphill battle in the Champions League, as they sit fourth in their group behind Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona and Slavia Prague. Next up for Inter is a visit to Sassuolo this weekend before the club returns to Champions League play against group leaders Dortmund.

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Oakland Raiders sign Darren Waller to multiyear contract extension

The Oakland Raiders have signed TE Darren Waller to a multi-year contract extension, the club pronounced Wednesday.

Waller, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end originally drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round (204th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft, is in his first complete season with the Silver and Black after signing to the team’s active roster from the Ravens’ practice squad ahead of Week 13 in 2018.

Waller has appeared in 27 contests and made nine starts since entering the NFL, logging 55 receptions for 537 yards and two touchdowns in addition to two rushing attempts for 28 yards.

Now in his fifth year in the league, the athletic tight end has started all five contests for the Raiders in 2019 and leads the club in receptions (37), first-down receptions (17) and receiving yards (359), all of which mark career highs.

His 37 receptions and 88.1 reception percentage both rank second in the NFL among all tight ends this year, while his 2019 season has been highlighted by a Week 3 performance in which he posted the second-most receptions (13) in a game by a player in franchise history. Waller’s 13 receptions in Week 3 are also the most by a tight end in a single game this season.

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A native of Landover, Md., Waller played four years (2011-14) at Georgia Tech, appearing in 50 contests and making 22 starts for the program. He compiled 51 receptions for 971 yards, adding nine scores during his time with the Yellow Jackets.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden stated Waller is an inspiration, not only for his teammates but for others battling substance abuse.

“He’s really a rookie playing tight end; he was a wide receiver in college,” Gruden said last week. “He sat out of football for a year. He leads the league in receiving right now at that position. If you watched him block, I don’t know if there’s a better tight end in football, really.”

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