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Roger Federer out of Miami Open, will train to ‘work his way back’

Roger Federer is withdrawing from this month’s Miami Open so he can spend extra time preparing to “work his way back out on tour,” his agent told The Associated Press on Monday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has not competed in more than a year after having two operations on his right knee during last campaign.

Federer, who turns 40 in August, is booked to make his return to the tour next week in a hard-court tournament at Doha, Qatar. He posted a photo of himself on Twitter this past Friday with the caption: “The countdown to Doha begins.”

That will be his first event since he reached the semifinals at the Australian Open in February 2020.

As of now, he also is slated to participate in the hard-court tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that starts March 14.

Federer also had been on the entry list for the Masters 1000 stop in Miami, where play begins on March 24.

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But his agent, Tony Godsick, wrote Monday in an email to the AP that Federer will not play there.

“After Doha and maybe Dubai, (Federer) will go back and do a training block to continue to slowly work his way back out on tour,” Godsick wrote.

Miami Open tournament director James Blake said he hopes Federer will return in 2021 to an event he has won four times, including two years ago.

“We certainly would have loved Roger to return to Miami to defend his title. However, as a former player, I understand that you need to tailor your travel and playing schedule to properly work your way back to 100 percent fitness when coming off an injury,” Blake said. “Roger is an incredible ambassador for the sport, so the longer he is able to play on tour, the better it is for all of tennis.”

Federer beat John Isner 6-1, 6-4 in the final to win the Miami Open in 2019, the last time it was held. The tournament was one of dozens that were called off last year when the professional tennis tours went on hiatus for several months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

That was Federer’s fourth title at the hard-court event, following trophies he collected there in 2005, 2006 and 2017.

Federer is currently No. 5 in the ATP rankings. He has spent 310 weeks total at No. 1, an ATP record tied by Novak Djokovic on Monday. Federer’s tally of 103 tour-level titles is the second most in the professional era of men’s tennis, trailing only Jimmy Connors, who won 109.

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Everton knock Tottenham out of FA Cup on Bernard winner in extra-time goal-fest

Everton sent Tottenham Hotspur packing from the FA Cup with an extra-time goal from Bernard on Wednesday night at Goodison Park to send his team through to the quarterfinals with a 5-4 victory.

Tottenham opened the scoring and took a deserved lead inside of five minutes when Davinson Sanchez headed Son Heung Min’s corner past Robin Olsen in the Everton goal.

Everton hit back to go ahead in the span of several first-half minutes with a Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal and a Richarlison strike from outside of the penalty area that a diving Hugo Lloris could not reach.

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Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was then whistled for a penalty after tripping Calvert-Lewin in the area and Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up and calmly sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot to put Everton up 3-1. However, Spurs scored just before the break as Erik Lamela pounced on a Yerry Mina error and slotted a neat, left-footed shot past Olsen to trim the deficit for Jose Mourinho’s team to a single goal at half-time.

The back-and-forth match continued in the second half

With Spurs drawing level at 3-3 before the hour mark through Sanchez’s second of the night when he redirected a saved header off Olsen’s mitt and tapped into the back of the net.

Richarlison fired Everton back in front with his second goal, defeating Lloris at his far post with a screamer after Sigurdsson played him into the area with a clever little through ball.

Harry Kane, who had looked menacing all game, finally scored to put Tottenham back on level terms with a smashing header at the back post from a beautiful, whipped in cross from Son that set the teams on course for extra time.

Sigurdsson added to his assist tally in the first period of extra time with a lovely chip over Spurs’ defense and into the box that left Bernard time to settle, have a look at goal and fire an unstoppable volley past Lloris to give Everton the lead yet again.

Ancelotti and Everton will now await results from the final two games of the FA Cup on Thursday to see who they will face in the quarterfinals.

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Golden State Warriors’ Kevon Looney out at least two weeks with sprained ankle

Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney will be out at least the next two weeks as he keeps to recover from a sprained left ankle, the team informed Wednesday.

Looney suffered the injury late in the first half of Tuesday’s 111-107 loss to the Boston Celtics and had an MRI late Tuesday night that confirmed the sprain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks as he continues rehab.

“This was a fluke,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated after the game. “He caught his foot on the floor and rolled the ankle. Just the way it goes. I feel bad for him because he’s worked so hard to get back to this space and he’s really been playing well for us, so it’s a big blow.”

Looney’s injury comes at a bad time for the 11-10 Warriors. They are already playing without rookie center James Wiseman, who sprained his left wrist in last Saturday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons and will be reevaluated in a week.

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Backup big man Marquese Chriss has been out since the first week of the season after suffering a serious ankle injury during a practice in Chicago.

It still unclear if he will comeback this season.

In the short term, Kerr noted that Eric Paschall, Draymond Green and two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson will all get minutes at the 5 spot.

“Eric Paschall becomes a bigger part of what we’re doing and so does Juan,” Kerr said. “I guess Juan sort of qualifies as a big man, kind of. Eric definitely does. So we’ll be short-handed. Draymond will play a lot of 5 and Eric will get more minutes, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Warriors star guard Stephen Curry is hopeful that the Warriors can use the small-ball lineup to their advantage as they get set for a four-game road swing to Dallas and San Antonio over the next week. “You kind of have to flip it on its head,” Curry said after Tuesday’s loss.

“Everybody’s going to talk about what we can’t do with a small-ball lineup, but we can focus on what we can do and that’s play fast, get everybody involved, ball can be moving. Create chaos on both ends of the floor and then figure out how you rebound and how you up the paint on the defensive end. So with Dallas and San Antonio, it will be interesting because they do — [Kristaps] Porzingis is huge, but they do play a lot of small ball, too, so maybe that will match up well for us.”

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Boston Celtics’ Kemba Walker out until January after stem cell injection in knee

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stated Tuesday that the upcoming NBA season will indicate how much of a long-term problem Kemba Walker’s left knee will be moving forward.

“I think this year will tell us a lot more,” Ainge said Tuesday morning of Walker, who the team informed will be out until at least January after he was given a stem cell injection and put on a 12-week strengthening program after last season ended.

“He saw some specialists over the last six or eight weeks, and they all came to the same conclusion, and I think that gave Kemba a great peace of mind as he went to different, really good doctors in our country and got the same opinions. He’s on a program, and he seems to be in a very good, happy spot.”

Ainge said the anticipation from those meetings was that surgery would not be necessary.

After the Celtics signed Walker as a free agent to a four-year max contract in the summer of 2019 to replace Kyrie Irving, he spent the latter portions of the regular season dealing with ongoing soreness in his left knee — particularly after the All-Star break — before the season was suspended March 11.

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Then, once teams resumed on-court work in late June ahead of the NBA restarting its season in late July, Walker had another setback with his knee, and was put on a minutes restriction both during the weeks leading up to the restart and throughout the seeding games inside the league’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Walker looked very good versus the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs, but he struggled as the Celtics progressed throughout the postseason — particularly after taking a hard fall during the second round versus the Toronto Raptors when he appeared to tweak the knee.

Ainge stated it was possible Boston rushed Walker back too quickly for the bubble — a touchy subject in Boston, given the history surrounding Isaiah Thomas after his hip issues following Boston’s run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2017 — before almost immediately walking back his own statement.

But just when Walker’s season will start — and when he will be a full participant for the Celtics — remains very much up in the air. The Celtics said in their statement that Walker’s game-availability status will be updated in the first week of January, which is roughly when his 12-week strengthening program should end.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Walker is going to start playing 30-plus minutes a game. Instead, the expectation is that Walker will slowly be ramped up over time, in a similar fashion to the restart in Orlando.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Walker’s return was affected in part by the fact that the NBA season is getting started sooner than everyone had anticipated.

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Green Bay Packers WR Allen Lazard out indefinitely after core muscle surgery

Allen Lazard, who caught six passes for 146 yards and a score in the Packers’ Week 3 victory over the Saints, is out indefinitely after undergoing core muscle surgery this week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Green Bay, without Lazard, will look to keep its unbeaten start intact Monday night versus the winless Falcons.  A former undrafted rookie out of Iowa State, the 6-foot-5, 227-pound Lazard signed with the Packers in December of 2018 after spending most of his rookie season on the Jaguars’ practice squad.

After catching just one pass that campaign, Lazard caught 35 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns last season. Lazard is now the Packers’ leading receiver, with 254 yards and two touchdowns on 13 receptions.

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Lazard’s 19.5 yards per catch this season is over four yards over his career average. 

With Lazard out, that will lead to more playing time for Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Darrius Shepherd and Malik Taylor. Valdes-Scantling has caught eight passes for 165 yards and a score through three games, while Shepherd and Taylor have yet to catch a pass. 

The Packers did receive some positive news on Thursday when receiver Davante Adams, who missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury, was a limited participant during practice. Adams is hoping that his hamstring will let him to face the Falcons on Monday night. 

Regardless, it appears that the Packers’ offense may rely more on running back Aaron Jones, who has rushed for 303 yards and four touchdowns. He has also caught 10 passes for 95 yards and a score through three games.

The Packers signed two receivers to the practice this week, adding Caleb Scott and Juwann Winfree. The team also has Reggie Begelton and Robert Foster on the practice squad.

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Doc Rivers out as LA Clippers coach after ‘disappointing’ end to season

Doc Rivers has stepped down as coach of the LA Clippers in what chairman Steve Ballmer called a “mutual decision.”

The team fell well short of its championship expectations this campaign after getting All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer in what were NBA-altering moves.

“Doc has been a terrific coach for the Clippers, an incredible ambassador, and a pillar of strength during tumultuous times,” Ballmer said in a statement Monday. “He won a heck of a lot of games and laid a foundation for this franchise.”

Rivers had two years left on his contract, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Clippers went 49-23 in the regular season, the fourth-best record in franchise history, but squandered a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals versus the Denver Nuggets, surrendering leads of 16, 19 and 12 points as the franchise’s Western Conference finals drought reached 50 years.

Rivers has been the coach in five of the Clippers’ six best regular seasons. Rivers is the only coach in NBA history to lose a 3-1 lead in three playoff series, having previously done so with the Clippers in the 2015 West semis versus the Houston Rockets and with the Orlando Magic in the first round versus the Detroit Pistons in 2003.

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This team was considered a championship contender from the moment the Clippers signed Leonard in free agency and traded for George.

After the Clippers completely unraveled for a third straight game in a 104-89 loss to the Nuggets in Game 7, Rivers said the title expectations were not too heavy for his team, even though the Clippers fell short of reaching what many thought all season would be a West finals showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rivers took over as Clippers coach in June 2013 and was later promoted to president of basketball operations in conjunction with his coaching duties, before giving up that post in August 2017.

In Rivers’ seven seasons at the helm, the Clippers went 356-208, winning 63.1% of their regular-season games — the fifth-best record in the NBA and the best by any team without a conference finals appearance.

Rivers went 3-8 in potential series-clinching matches with the Clippers, tied for the worst mark by a single coach with one team.

His 943 career victories is the 11th most by a head coach all time. The Clippers’ job becomes the sixth current vacancy in the NBA, along with Houston, Indiana, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and New Orleans. New York, Brooklyn and Chicago have already filled vacancies in their offseasons.

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Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton out for season

The Denver Broncos’ passing attack now will have to forge on without not only its starting quarterback but also its top target.

Wide receiver Courtland Sutton is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, coach Vic Fangio confirmed Monday.

Sutton had three catches for 66 yards before exiting the match. He missed the Broncos’ Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans while dealing with a sprained AC joint. Sutton, 24, earned a Pro Bowl berth last season after recording 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns.

He was expected to be the focal point of a passing attack that returned second-year tight end Noah Fant and added dynamic rookie receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler.

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The injury is just the latest in a series of significant blows to a Denver team that was looking to break out in Fangio’s second season at the helm.

Quarterback Drew Lock suffered a “bad bruise” on his shoulder that will force him to miss three to five weeks, Fangio stated Monday. Three-time All-Pro pass-rusher Von Miller suffered a dislocated peroneal tendon that multiple reports indicated could sideline him for the remainder of the campaign.

Running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) also is expected to miss several weeks, per multiple reports, and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) will sit out at least two more games after being placed on injured reserve.

An already young Broncos offense will now feature one of the youngest wide receiver groups in the league as three rookies — Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tyrie Cleveland — will get plenty of work in the weeks ahead. Fangio said “it will be the guys on the roster filling that void [left by Sutton].”

Denver had seven wideouts on roster and will go with six for now. The Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week before facing the New York Jets on the road in a “Thursday Night Football” matchup.

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Koepka out of U.S Open over ongoing injuries

Brooks Koepka, who has been hampered by a knee problem for the better part of a year, withdrew from next week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, tweeting, “I’m looking forward to getting healthy and competing at 100% again very soon.”

Koepka has collected two of the past three U.S. Opens and concluded second to Gary Woodland last year at Pebble Beach.

Last month, Koepka was attempting to become the first player since Walter Hagen in the 1920s to collect three straight PGA Championships, but he fell out of contention with a final-round 74 at Harding Park.

Koepka missed the cut the following week at the Wyndham Championship then withdrew from the first FedEx Cup playoff event, the Northern Trust, ending his 2019-20 campaign.

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He has dropped to No. 8 in the world after starting 2020 in the top spot.

The four-time major champion had a stem cell procedure on his left knee after last year’s Tour Championship then aggravated the injury at a tournament in South Korea in October. He didn’t play again until January, and it’s mostly been a struggle since.

Koepka finished seventh at the RBC Heritage after the PGA Tour’s restart and tied for second in early August at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He was just two shots out of the lead heading into the final round of the PGA Championship before dropping to a tie for 29th.

“My golf swing’s fine,” Koepka said after missing the cut at the Wyndham. “If I can physically do it, then yes, everything’s fine.”

But Koepka has also complained about trying to get to his left side in his swing, and during the second round of the PGA Championship, he three times had a trainer help with his hip.

“It just locked up, cramped,” Koepka said. “I couldn’t do anything with it.”

Paul Waring will replace Koepka based on his Official World Golf Ranking as of Aug. 23. The U.S. Open starts Sept. 17 after being rearranged from June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States Golf Association has yet to announce an alternate to take Koepka’s place in the field of 144.

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Padres’ Eric Hosmer fractures index finger while bunting, could be out 2-6 weeks

San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer broke his left index finger while attempting to bunt in the first inning versus the Colorado Rockies on Monday.

Manager Jayce Tingler stated Hosmer could be out two to six weeks.

“Knowing Hos, he’s a tough guy, and knowing his pain tolerance … with some good luck and some good fortune, it heals up, and at that point, it’ll be up to pain tolerance,” Tingler said. “If we can get it to that point, I feel very confident betting on the man.”

The Padres have options at first base.

Rookie Jake Cronenworth played well at first base when Hosmer missed several matches early in the season because of a stomach ailment, and the Padres obtained Mitch Moreland during a flurry of trades in the days before last week’s deadline.

“This one hurts,” Tingler said. “But at the same time, we’re going to have some guys step up. We’re going to hold ground, and we’re going to get him back. When he gets back, we’re going to be in a good position.”

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Hosmer was injured while bunting with two strikes for the second out of the first inning and was taken out of the game. He was replaced by Moreland.

Later in the contest, Hosmer was in the dugout with what appeared to be a splint on the injured finger.

Hosmer has been having a good campaign, hitting the ball in the air more than he had in recent seasons. He is hitting .291 with eight homers and 32 RBIs, and he was part of the Padres’ “Slam Diego” outburst in mid-August, when they became the first team in MLB history to hit four grand slams in four consecutive games.

The Padres beat the Rockies 1-0 on Monday for their sixth triumph in eight games. At 26-17, the Pads are second in the National League West, 4½ games back of the MLB-leading  Los Angeles Dodgers. San Diego hasn’t been to the postseason since 2006.

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Grizzlies rule Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season due to meniscus tear

The Memphis Grizzlies suffered a big blow on Tuesday, as the team revealed that second-year forward Jaren Jackson Jr. will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA campaign after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. The injury occurred versus the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. 

In Monday’s game versus the Pelicans, Jaren Jackson Jr. experienced an unstable landing after making contact with an opposing player while contesting a shot. Subsequent medical evaluation revealed a meniscus tear in his left knee, which will cause him to miss the remainder of the season. He is expected to make a full recovery. 

This is not the first time that the left knee has been an issue for Jackson. Jackson sprained the knee in February, and he missed nine matches leading up to the suspension of the season in mid-March because of the injury.

Aside from the injury issues though, Jackson Jr. had a stellar sophomore season. He averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game for the Grizzlies, and he scored 76 points over the three games that he played in Orlando. 

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The injury comes at a tough time for the Grizzlies, who are locked in a tight battle for postseason positioning in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies entered the seeding slate in Orlando with a slim lead for the eighth spot in the West, but they lost all three of their first seeding games, which made the contest even tighter.

If the ninth seed in the conference is within four games of the eighth seed when the seeding slate is complete, a play-in series will be triggered. In the series, the eighth-seeded team will only need to win once in order to claim the final playoff spot in the West, while the ninth-seeded team would need to win twice in a row before the eighth-seeded team wins once. 

The Trail Blazers, Spurs, Pelicans, Kings, and Suns are all currently within four games of the Grizzlies. Whichever team ultimately claims the final spot in the West will face off versus the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, as the Lakers secured the top overall seed in the conference on Monday night. 

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