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Vasek Pospisil advances to Sofia Open final – TSN

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SOFIA, Bulgaria — Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil advanced to the final of the Sofia Open indoor hardcourt tennis tournament with a 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-0 win over France’s Richard Gasquet on Friday.

Pospisil, ranked 74th in the world, won the last 11 games of a match that took around one hour 51 minutes to complete.

“I had some chances in the first set and was holding serve relatively comfortably so I was disappointed to lose that set and just felt like I was lacking a little bit of energy,” Pospisil said. “I just raised the intensity in the second set. Early in the second set I tried to pump myself up and as soon as I got the break I felt like his energy dropped and I stayed relatively consistent and aggressive.”

The Canadian fired 18 aces past Gasquet as he improved to 4-2 lifetime against the world No. 49.

Pospisil won 77 per cent of service points, compared to 57 per cent for Gasquet. Pospisil saved the only break point he faced while breaking Gasquet five times on seven opportunities.

Pospisil will face 19-year-old Jannik Sinner of Italy on Saturday in the final of the ATP 250 event, with the winner claiming his first ATP Tour title.

“Jannik is a super talented young guy and it’s going to be a really tight match,” said Pospisil, who fell in the final round of qualifying at the Paris Masters event last week. “I’m going to go out there and go for the win and play aggressive and try and take my chances. I’m a little bit pleasantly surprised how I finished the year with this tournament.”

It will be the third career Tour final appearance for the 30-year-old Pospisil, and the second this year. He also advanced to the final of an indoor hardcourt tournament in Montpelier, France, in February.

“It will definitely help me,” Pospisil said of the experience. “I played at a good level and just came up against tough opponent [Gael Monfils] and I think maybe this time around I’ll be maybe a little bit more relaxed.”

Sinner, the world No. 44, advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 win over fifth-seed Adrian Mannarino of France.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2020.

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NHL, NHLPA discussing Jan. 15 start date for 2020-21 season – Sportsnet.ca

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The NHL and NHLPA have been engaged in discussions recently about a Jan. 15 start date for the 2020-21 season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.

In this scenario, Friedman reports that training camps would open approximately two weeks before Jan. 15 and the number of games played during the season “would be in the 50s.”

“I believe in the last few days the league and the players have engaged in conversations about a start on January 15, with training camps opening approximately two weeks earlier,” Friedman said on the FAN 590’s Lead Off. “The number of games would be in the 50s. I had some people telling me 52, I had some people telling me 56. But they have re-engaged on this.

“What I think they are talking about is the non-playoff teams would report in the last few days of December, they would get two or three extra days. The playoff teams would report around New Year’s Day. I think the end of the regular season would be around the beginning of May, they’d build in that schedule with a buffer zone in case they had to make up games, and I’m hearing the season would be over some time around the end of June, beginning of July.

“Now the financial issues, I don’t have a full picture on that although it sounds like the escrow ask about changing the caps is going away because I think everyone realizes here the players weren’t willing to agree to that, but they are potentially more willing to talk about deferrals.”

Earlier this week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the original target date of Jan. 1 remains a “work in progress.

As Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported on Wednesday, there needs to be a complete realignment for the 2020-21 season to be played. Both sides will need to agree on a modified schedule, more health and safety protocols, and determine if the games will be played in regional hubs or in each team’s arenas.

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NHL shares schedule drafts with NHLPA – TSN

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According to TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli and TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun, the NHL shared draft schedules with the NHLPA on Thursday, including 52-game and 56-game season outlines.

Seravalli reports the schedules were all based on a Jan. 1 start date, but the two sides have discussed pushing that date back until later in the month. LeBrun adds that a Jan. 15 start is specifically being discussed and both sides would prefer the 56-game plan with the Stanley Cup awarded in early July, but nothing has been finalized and economic issues between both sides remain.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday at a virtual sports conference that the league’s targeted Jan. 1 start date remained “a work in progress influenced largely by what we’re hearing from medical experts.”

The NHL has requested players defer additional salary for the 2021 season, though Bettman insisted Wednesday that the NHL is “not seeking to renegotiate” the six-year Collective Bargaining Agreement extension that was unanimously ratified by owners in July.

“We’re not actually having negotiations and we’re not seeking to renegotiate,” Bettman explained. “We made a number of assumptions collectively over the summer, most of which are not applicable anymore.

“Whatever the revenues are, the players only get 50 per cent. And if we overpay them and they don’t pay us back in the short term, they have to pay us back over time.

“There will be stresses on the system, and we’ve had discussions about what those stresses are, and how they might be dealt with. But we’re not trying to say ‘You must do X, Y and Z.’ We’re trying to look for ways to continue to work together.”

TSN Senior Correspondent Rick Westhead wrote Thursday that the NHLPA was weighing their legal options for if NHL cancels the 2020-21 season.

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Alphonso Davies named Canadian men’s player of the year – Sportsnet.ca

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Alphonso Davies, who drew worldwide acclaim while helping Bayern Munich fill its trophy case in a remarkable 2020, has been named Canadian Men’s Player of the Year.

The 20-year-old from Edmonton also captured the award in 2018, then the youngest-ever winner of the men’s award at age 18. He was named Canada’s U-17 Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017.

Canada Soccer, which will announce the women’s award winner on Friday, said Davies earned a record vote total from Canadian media and coaches, finishing just ahead of Christine Sinclair’s record set in 2012.

News of the men’s award comes the same day that Davies, now a fixture at left back for the German champions, returned to first-team training after tearing ankle ligaments in Bayern’s 5-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in late October.

“To see what Alphonso Davies has accomplished this year is awe-inspiring for the next generation of players,” Canada coach John Herdman said in a statement. “His achievements have raised the flag in our sport higher than anyone else in our lifetime on the men’s side of the game and he has helped put this country as a football country on the world map.

Converted to fullback by Bayern, Davies has turned heads with his speed and ability to create attacks. Bayern veteran Thomas Mueller dubbed him the Bayern Road Runner after the pacey cartoon character.

In June, Davies was named Bundesliga rookie of the year in voting by fans, clubs and the media. Kicker magazine, a German sports magazine that focuses mainly on football, included him in its Bundesliga team of the season.

This week ESPN ranked Davies as the second-best left fullback in the world, behind Liverpool’s Andy Robertson.

He was third in voting for the Golden Boy award won by Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland. The annual award, run by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, honours the best young player in Europe.

And he was shortlisted as a nominee for UEFA’s Team of the Year and Defender of the Year,

Davies shone on the biggest stage.

In an 8-2 beatdown of Barcelona in Champions League quarterfinal play in August, he set up Bayern’s fifth goal in the 63rd minute with a sensational run down the left flank. Davies beat three Barca players, befuddling Portuguese international Nelson Semedo before racing past several more defenders into the penalty box and sending a perfect pass to Joshua Kimmich to slot in from close range.

“That was unbelievable,” Kimmich said later. “Even I was a bit ashamed when I celebrated. He gets 99 per cent of the credit for the goal. I only had to get the ball over the line.”

Davies, who turned 20 on Nov. 2, also excelled in Bayern’s 3-0 win at Chelsea in the first leg of their round-of-16 Champions League tie in late February. Davies made a lightning run down the left flank and crossed to Robert Lewandowski for a tap-in in the 76th minute.

“Alphonso Davies’ parents fled Liberia in the civil war. He was born in a refugee camp in Ghana and moved to Canada when he was five. Here he is playing beautifully for Bayern at 19. What a wonderful story,” former England striker Gary Lineker, now an analyst with BBC Sport, posted on Twitter.

“Alphonso Davies is a world-class left back,” added former U.S. international Stuart Holden. “Top five in world soccer right now easy.”

The six-foot, 165-pound Davies set a Bundesliga speed record out in a 1-0 win at Werder Bremen that earned the Bavarian powerhouse an eighth straight league title. He was clocked at 36.51 km/h in the first half against Bremen, according to the Bundesliga. That erased the fastest recorded speed in league history (36.19 km/h by Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi) since detailed data collection began in 2011.

In 2020, Davies has helped Bayern to the Champions League and Bundesliga titles, the DFB Cup, UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup. He is the first Canadian male to lift the Champions League trophy.

Covering the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons from January through October 2020, Davies featured in 33 matches and scored two goals and six assists. Along the way, he was chosen Canada Soccer’s Player of the Month in February, July and August as well as FC Bayern’s Player of the Month and the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Month in May.

The young Canadian international joined Bayern from the Vancouver Whitecaps in a then-MLS record US$22-million transfer. The deal was done in July 2018 but Davies finished out the MLS season before joining Bayern in January 2019.

In April, he signed a contract extension with Bayern that will keep him with the German champions through June 2025.

Davies has won 17 caps for Canada, with five goals and seven assists. Off the pitch, he has attracted a huge social media following with 3.1 million followers, 2.9 million on TikTok. on Instagram and 233,000 on Twitter.

A former refugee, Davies became a Supporter of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees this year, using his platforms and his public profile to raise awareness and fundraise in support of refugees.

“Alphonso has to be commended for his passion and spirit with which he plays, but also for his ability to connect with people off the field,” said Herdman. “He is a real ambassador for our sport in Canada and on the global stage.”

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