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Perfect 10: Felix Plays ‘Match Of His Life’, Cruises Into Basel QFs

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Felix Auger-Aliassime has been in blistering form this month, but he hit new heights on Thursday at the Swiss Indoors Basel. Seeking his third ATP Tour title in as many weeks, the Canadian advanced to the quarter-finals with a stunning performance against Miomir Kecmanovic, wrapping up a 6-1, 6-0 victory in 49 minutes.

“It’s tough to play better than that, from my part,” Auger-Alassime said in his on-court interview. “For sure the best match I’ve played in my whole life — not my career, since I’m a little kid! It’s a nice feeling. It was a treat to play this level, to play this way in front of you,” he told the Swiss crowd.

In a flawless second set, he dropped just seven points and was a perfect 11-for-11 behind his first serve. Showcasing his athleticism and first-strike tennis, the third seed finished with 21 winners and 10 aces on the match.

Auger-Aliassime currently sits seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin as he clings onto what is currently the final qualifying position. He is 315 points clear of Taylor Fritz in eighth place as he seeks his Nitto ATP Finals debut at age 22, but cannot add points this week unless he reaches the semi-finals or better.

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Now on a 10-match winning streak that began with title runs in Florence and Antwerp, Auger-Aliassime became the third player to earn 50 wins this season (Tsitsipas 57, Alcaraz 54) with his latest victory. His 2022 record stands at 50-24 with three titles, the first ATP Tour trophies of his career.

The Canadian will next meet Alexander Bublik, a 6-3, 6-3 winner against Albert Ramos-Vinolas earlier on Thursday. Should he advance to the semis, he will face a Spaniard: either World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or fifth seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

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No accusing Stars' Robertson, Maple Leafs' Marner of cheating – Toronto Sun

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DALLAS — Peter DeBoer could see the similarities in Jason Robertson and Mitch Marner.

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It wasn’t just that the two were on eye-opening streaks heading into the game between the Dallas Stars and Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. 

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It was the manner in which Robertson, who was on an 18-game run, and Marner, who was on a 19-game heater, were doing their jobs.

“(Robertson) has done it without cheating (for offence),” DeBoer, the Stars’ coach, said. “He is not floating around.

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“I don’t think Marner and cheating go in the same sentence. He’s as honest a player there is. He blocks shots, kills penalties, defensively is really good.”

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe knew where DeBoer was coming from.

“Because it’s coming in all areas of the game, Marner gives our group confidence, gives our group life,” Keefe said. “As the season approaches Christmas and even though we have a long way to go, it’s something that you can attach yourself to. 

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“Certainly, when you have a player like Mitch who makes a difference in so many areas of the game, it’s another great thing for your team to have.”

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING

The Robertson brothers got together at Jason’s house on Monday night and were joined by their mother, Mercedes. 

Jason Robertson was confident that Nick, younger by two years, can keep a spot in the Leafs lineup.

“It’s staying mentally strong, mentally tough,” Jason said. “That’s something that he has (going) for him. He is mentally tough and definitely the hardest working player probably in that organization, in my opinion. It’s all going to work out for him in the end.” 

Entering Tuesday, Nick had not scored a goal in his previous 12 games. 

What can Nick pick up from his big brother as he tries to ensure he can stay in the National Hockey League?

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“We both have good shots, but one thing I can take away from him is his confidence with the puck and shooting it,” Nick said. “That’s one thing I look at, is that he’s shooting a lot, finding ways to get shots at the net, finding ways to score.”

Nick wasn’t surprised that Jason has been running through NHL opponents seemingly at will. In the Ontario Hockey League, Jason had seasons of 42 goals and 41 goals with the Kingston Frontenacs before scoring 48 in 2018-19 with Kingston and Niagara.

“It’s what he does,” Nick said. “I’ve seen it at every level, whether it’s when he was younger, in junior and now. I’m not really shocked by it. I know he can produce, but the one thing is his point streak, which is really amazing, especially at this level.”

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Jason Robertson’s 23 goals were in the most in the NHL though games on Monday. Only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (22) and Vancouver’s Bo Horvat (20) had also scored at least 20.

SDA APPROVED

The Leafs players were happy to see forward Semyon Der-Arguchintsev’s path to the NHL culminate with his first game on Tuesday. 

“I always like seeing guys get rewarded for performing well, no matter what their role is in the organization,” defenceman Justin Holl said. “He is really poised. He does not panic with the puck, makes good plays and has good patience.”

Said captain John Tavares: “He can see the game one or two steps ahead. His ability to find the open man and the ability to pass through seams and through bodies or sticks is really good.”

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Der-Arguchintsev was one of three Leafs in the lineup who were drafted by Toronto in Dallas in 2018. Defenceman Rasmus Sandin was the club’s first-round pick at No. 29, and after Der-Arguchintsev was taken 76th, centre Pontus Holmberg was selected with the 156th pick. Defenceman Mac Hollowell, who was a healthy scratch, was taken 118th by the Leafs that year.

LOOSE LEAFS

The Leafs won’t practise on Wednesday before meeting the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at Scotiabank Arena to start a three-game home stand … Ilya Samsonov, slated to start in goal against the Kings, would be appearing in his 99th career NHL game and going for his 60th win. Versus the Kings, Samsonov has a 2-1-0 record with a .942 save percentage. One of his six career shutouts came against Los Angeles … When winger Calle Jarnkrok is deemed fit to from a groin injury, his next game will be his 600th in the NHL. Including Tuesday, Jarnkrok has missed the past two games.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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Blue Jays seeking partner for jersey-patch ads, could be on uniforms within two years – Sportsnet.ca

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Could Cristiano Ronaldo be Portugal's super sub for the rest of the World Cup? – CNN

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CNN
 — 

Cristiano Ronaldo has found himself in unfamiliar territory this season – but no matter where he is in the stadium, the cameras follow.

After it was announced he would start Portugal’s World Cup round of 16 match against Switzerland from the bench, huge swathes of photographers swarmed around the team’s substitutes prior to kick off.

Such was the almost comical number of cameras with their lenses trained on Ronaldo, it caused laughter among most his fellow Portuguese reserves.

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The substitute’s bench isn’t somewhere the Portuguese superstar has spent much time since making his career debut all the way back in 2002, with his goalscoring abilities too crucial for teams to bring him off the pitch or leave him out of the starting lineup.

However, this season has been different.

Now 37 years old, Ronaldo’s legs seemingly don’t possess quite the same zip they once used to and while he remains one of football’s great goalscoring threats, his increasing lack of mobility means he no longer fits the high-octane pressing style of football many teams like to play in the modern game.

That led to him being quickly benched by new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, who prefers a high-pressing, energetic style, something Ronaldo made known he wasn’t happy with.

When Ten Hag asked Ronaldo to come off the bench earlier this season against Tottenham, the former Real Madrid man threw a strop and walked back down the tunnel, refusing to enter the game.

Palestinian flag waved on pitch as Morocco celebrates historic World Cup win

That led to Ronaldo being dropped from the match day squad for United’s next game. Subsequently the Portuguese star addressed his behavior in an Instagram post, though he stopped short of an apology.

“As I’ve always done throughout my career, I try to live and play respectfully towards my colleagues, my adversaries and my coaches,” he wrote.

Next came the tell-all interview with Piers Morgan, in which Ronaldo called out almost everybody at Manchester United – including the cooks – which ultimately lead to the end of his second stint at the club as both parties decided to part ways.

Rumors have been swirling since his departure from Manchester United that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is close to signing with a club in Saudi Arabia, something he has denied.

Then on Tuesday, Ronaldo was left out of the starting lineup for Portugal at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2008.

It’s still not clear exactly why Ronaldo was dropped to the bench, but his performances of late have been well below the lofty standards he has set for himself throughout his career.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos said in his pre-match press conference that he was unhappy with his captain’s reaction to being substituted in the previous game against South Korea.

Cristiano Ronaldo was supportive of his Portuguese teammates from the bench.

Given Ronaldo’s reaction to being benched for United and then being taken off against Korea, it’s fair to assume people might have expected a similar reaction on Tuesday.

In Ronaldo’s defense, however, that was not the case.

He was seen cheering on his teammates for much of the match and joined in with the celebrations when they scored, including those of Gonçalo Ramos, who replaced Ronaldo in the starting lineup and scored this World Cup’s first hat-trick.

Portugal thrashes Switzerland to reach World Cup quarterfinals after Cristiano Ronaldo dropped to bench

But in Ronaldo’s roughly 20-minute cameo during Portugal’s 6-1 demolition of Switzerland, he still showed what he is capable of doing in front of goal.

With his only real chance of the match, Ronaldo buried his shot past Yann Sommer but was denied a goal by the linesman’s offside flag.

His star quality remains, too, with the Lusail Stadium filled with chants of “Ronaldo, Ronaldo” when he entered the field of play to arguably the biggest roar of the night – the game’s seven goals included.

In his absence, Portugal produced by far its best performance yet in Qatar and the hammering of a good Switzerland team has helped elevated Santos’ side to serious contenders to win the World Cup.

It unclear whether Ronaldo will regain his place in the starting lineup for Portugal’s quarterfinal against Morocco, but even if he doesn’t, Santos being able to call on one of the greatest goalscorers in the sport’s history isn’t a bad option to have.

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