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Thiem masters tiebreakers again to beat Nadal in ATP Finals – TSN

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LONDON — Dominic Thiem mastered the tiebreakers again to get the better of Rafael Nadal, and defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas also won Tuesday on Day 3 of the ATP Finals.

Thiem beat the 20-time Grand Slam champion in straight sets and secured his spot in the semifinals when Tsitsipas outlasted tournament newcomer Andrey Rublev in the evening match at an empty O2 Arena.

Thiem clinched a 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) win on his fifth match point in his first meeting with Nadal since the Australian Open quarterfinals in January, when the Austrian player prevailed after winning three tiebreakers in a tight four-set match.

“If I want to look for mistakes or for things I didn’t do right, I think I wouldn’t find many,” Thiem said.

The U.S. Open champion opened group play in the season-ending event with a three-set victory over Tsitsipas on Sunday and qualified for the semifinals when Tsitsipas won 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (6), handing Rublev his second defeat.

On Wednesday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic will play Daniil Medvedev — both players won their opening matches — and Alexander Zverev faces Diego Schwartzman, with both in search of their first victories.

Nadal, who beat Rublev in straight sets in their opener, missed a chance to qualify with a match to spare and next will play Tsitsipas on Thursday with a semifinal place at stake. Nadal has never won the ATP Finals, one of few gaps on his resume.

Nadal credited Thiem but described the match as “very equal.”

“Both of us played at a very high level. He deserved to win because he played a little bit better at some key moments,” Nadal said.

“I am much more confident now with the level of tennis that I am playing than a couple of days ago.”

Thiem, who described his performance as one of the best of his career, won the first set after coming from 5-2 down in the tiebreaker, saving two set points in the process.

There was high-quality shot-making throughout the match, but not least when Thiem produced two inside-out forehand winners in a three-point span to close the tiebreaker — the first on set point for Nadal — and then to clinch the set.

“It was a great match from the first to the last point,” Thiem said, “but actually I was pretty lucky to get that first set.”

After both players had their service broken in the second set, Nadal saved three match points when serving at 5-4 and 40-0 down. He won five straight points in that game, with one including a lob from a ’tweener that Thiem just managed to get back before Nadal powered a backhand down the line.

Thiem won three straight points to move 6-3 ahead in the tiebreaker. Nadal saved another match point but sent a tired backhand just wide to lose the match.

On the day Austria went back into lockdown amid a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the country’s greatest sports stars was happy to put on a show for his compatriots.

“I hope people enjoyed the match back home,” Thiem said, “and forgot a little bit for a few hours the tough times we are living through right now.”

Tsitsipas cruised early on against his Russian opponent, requiring just 19 minutes to win the first set. But Rublev found his serve and it was a slugfest thereafter. The match clocked in at just under 1 hour, 56 minutes.

In the third set tiebreaker, the 22-year-old Greek player saved match point when Rublev double-faulted for 6-6. Rublev then returned a deep shot into the net, and Tsitsipas pumped his right fist in celebration.

“Even though it was a win, I still feel like there’s plenty to improve and get better at,” Tsitsipas said.

The ATP Finals move to Turin, Italy, next year, after 12 years in London.

The tournament is using electronic line calling for the first time. Players can’t challenge whether a ball was in or out, but they can request a video review for other disputed situations, such as double bounces.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Who will get Hamilton's plum Mercedes drive at Sakhir? – F1i.com

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Lewis Hamilton’s unexpected positive COVID-19 test has thrown a spanner in Mercedes’ works, but it is also set to deliver a potentially career-defining opportunity to one lucky driver.

Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez are the Brackley squad’s official reserve drivers.

The Belgian races for the German manufacturer in Formula E, but the former McLaren charger – as an active driver who is also virtually acquainted with Mercedes W11 thanks to his simulator work with the team – is also race-ready for a call up.

Vandoorne, who scored his first FE win last summer in Berlin, is currently testing with Mercedes’ electric outfit in Valencia but is already due to travel to Bahrain once the test is completed.

Gutierrez’s lack of recent running in F1, or in any other qualifying category, has deprived the Mexican of an F1 superlicence which effectively rules him out a substitute role.

British fans would lave to see George Russell get his hands on a Mercedes and so would many others in the paddock. However, there’s no doubt that Williams would drive a hard bargain to release its young star, although in doing so it could reap a big marketing benefit if Russell later returns to Grove… a Grand Prix winner!

However, Williams needs Russell next weekend – and in Abu Dhabi – to try and improve its fortunes in the Constructors’ championship and leapfrog Haas in the standings, a feat worth a few million dollars in prize money.

There also the question of who, should Williams release Russell to Mercedes, would replace the Briton? Reserve driver Jack Aitken could theoretically do the job.

Finally, Mercedes could rely on the trusty talent of F1 super-sub Nico Hulkenberg. The experienced German who replaced COVID-infected Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll at Racing Point earlier this season, fits the bill in all respects, and would enjoy the chance to finally add that elusive podium finish to his massive track record in F1.

But the fact that the Hulk is not acquainted with the mighty Mercedes team, contrary to Vandoorne and Russell, is an obvious disadvantage for Nico.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

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Brawn: Understanding 'dynamics' of Grosjean crash key to improvements – F1i.com

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F1 boss Ross Brawn says the FIA must work with Haas to understand the “dynamics” of Romain Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain to seek potential improvements to the sport’s safety.

Grosjean darted off course after a contact with AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, but while the Armco should have absorbed part of the Haas’ energy, the Frenchman’s car was severed upon impact, with its survivor cell splitting the barrier open and igniting a massive blaze.

Brawn admitted to being stunned by the effects of the impact.

“It was a huge shock, as fire is something I’ve not seen in F1 for a very long time,” Brawn commented in his post-race debrief on the official F1 website.

“I was immediately thinking, what could have caused it as the fuel tank is so well protected?

“Obviously there’s oil in the car and there’s other fluids, but it was strange when I saw the fire.

“It wasn’t until I saw the severity of the accident you could understand why the fuel had escaped. So the first shock was just seeing the fire.

“Then when you see the seriousness of the accident, your first thoughts are with the driver. You immediately worry about the health of the driver.

“Seeing Romain jump out of the car was a massive relief,” added the Briton.

“Our producers didn’t put the footage out until they knew Romain was safe, which is our protocol.

“I think everyone is proud of the safety measures which have been developed over the last few years. The halo played a huge part.”

Speaking after Sunday’s incident, Brawn said a “deep investigation” would take place to analyse the circumstances and consequences of Grosjean’s crash.

“The FIA, working with the team, have to understand the dynamics of what happened in the accident to see if improvements are possible,” Brawn said on Monday.

“It was a pretty severe impact and there are limits as to what you’d be able to contain or control.

“But penetrating the barrier like that has to be understood. It also has to be understood why there was a fire and why the car broke in two.

“These are the things that the FIA will now take the time to analyse and work out what can be done better.

“Hats off to everyone involved, because the driver walked away from a huge accident. And the FIA did a super job getting everything back in shape so that we could run the race in as safe a way as possible.”

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DK Metcalf, Seahawks gash Eagles in Monday Night Football win – Sportsnet.ca

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PHILADELPHIA —DK Metcalf got extra motivation he didn’t even need.

Metcalf caught 10 passes for 177 yards, Russell Wilson threw for 230 yards and a touchdown and the Seattle Seahawks beat the Philadelphia Eagles 23-17 on Monday night.

Before the game, Metcalf said Eagles defensive co-ordinator Jim Schwartz, who coached Calvin Johnson in Detroit, compared him to the former Lions star.

“I’m getting a little respect, but you know I still got work to do. One of the defensive coaches came up to me and it kind of made me mad that he was like, `You know, I was in Detroit with Megatron but you’re not there yet,”’ Metcalf said. “In my mind, I’m not trying to be Megatron. I’m trying to be me. So I had a little chip on my shoulder the whole game.”

The Seahawks (8-3) moved one game ahead of the Rams in the NFC West. The Eagles (3-7-1) fell a half-game behind the Giants and Washington in the woeful NFC East.

Carson Wentz didn’t cede many snaps to backup Jalen Hurts but had another rough game. He was 25 of 45 for 215 yards, two TDs _ one in garbage time _ and one interception.

Seattle’s defence entered the game allowing the most yards in the NFL and most yards passing but held Philadelphia’s inept offence to 250 yards.

Metcalf was on the board when the Eagles took J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the second round with the 57th pick in 2019. Arcega-Whiteside has 12 career catches and was a healthy inactive before landing on the COVID-19 list. Metcalf, who was the final pick of the second round, had the best game of his rookie year in Seattle’s playoff win at Philadelphia last season and again showed why he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL.

Metcalf’s 52-yard catch on third-and-13 set up Wilson’s 1-yard TD pass to David Moore that gave the Seahawks a 7-0 lead.

“It’s kind of like coming home, a place that had a chance to draft me but they didn’t so I’ve got to make them pay,” Metcalf said.

Cornerback Darius Slay, who followed Metcalf in coverage, called it the worst game of his career.

“I lost every 50-50 ball. I let the team down. I gotta play better,” Slay said.

Chris Carson made it 14-0 when he bullied his way through Philadelphia’s defence on a 16-yard run.

“You know me, I saw that end zone so my game is physical so I wanted to get it in,” Carson said.

The Eagles didn’t get a first down until Wentz ran for 20 yards with under five minutes left in the first half. Wentz scrambled for 13 yards on third-and-5 to keep the drive going and tossed a 3-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert to cut it to 14-6 at halftime. Jake Elliott missed the extra point wide left.

Elliott’s 42-yard field goal cut it to 14-9 in the third quarter. Jason Myers hit one from 44 yards to extend it to 17-9.

After a holding call on Cedric Ogbuehi negated a 17-yard TD run by Carlos Hyde, Myers connected from 33 yards. He hit another one from 39.

Richard Rodgers caught a tipped ball on a desperation heave by Wentz for a 33-yard TD in the final minute.

Trailing by 11, Eagles coach Doug Pederson passed up a field goal and went for it on fourth-and-4 from the Seahawks 15. Wentz’s pass went straight to Seattle’s Quandre Diggs as Goedert turned the other way on the route.

The Eagles got a huge stop on Seattle’s opening series. After a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties helped the Seahawks reach the 3, Derek Barnett stuffed Moore for a 5-yard loss on fourth down from the 2.

Barnett sacked Wilson on fourth-and-2 from Philadelphia’s 37 on Seattle’s second drive.

OWNING PHILLY

Wilson is 6-0 against the Eagles and the Seahawks have won seven in a row in the series.

NO QB ROTATION

Hurts took the snap on two plays. He completed a 6-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery on one and handed off on the other. Wentz was split wide on the running play and on the sideline for the pass.

GOING BACKWARD

The Eagles had minus-4 yards in the first quarter, matching their worst first quarter in the past 30 seasons (also minus-4 vs Minnesota on Oct. 7, 2018). The last team to have negative yards in the first quarter was Chicago with minus-1 against Philadelphia on Nov. 3, 2019.

The Eagles went three-and-out on their first five drives.

INJURY REPORT

Both teams were missing their starting right tackle.

Seattle’s Brandon Shell was inactive because of an ankle injury. Ogbuehi took his spot.

Philadelphia’s Lane Johnson is sidelined for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Matt Pryor started in his place.

UP NEXT

Seahawks: Host the New York Giants (4-7) on Sunday.

Eagles: Visit the Green Bay Packers (8-3) on Sunday.

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