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Miami Open: Elena Rybakina beats Elise Mertens to reach quarter-finals
Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina is through to the Miami Open quarter-finals after beating Elise Mertens in straight sets.
The Kazakh 10th seed defeated her Belgian opponent 6-4 6-3.
Rybakina is now unbeaten in 11 matches, while victory in Miami would see her achieve the rare 'Sunshine Double' following her title win at Indian Wells earlier in March.
She will play Italy's Martina Trevisan in the last eight.
It will mark a first WTA 1000 quarter-final for 25th seed Trevisan after she beat Latvia's former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-3.
Elsewhere, American world number three Jessica Pegula defeated Poland's Magda Linette 6-1 7-5 to set up a quarter-final clash with Russian Anastasia Potapova.
Meanwhile, Stefanos Tsitsipas progressed to the last 16 of the men's singles with a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory over Chilean qualifier Cristian Garin in what was his first appearance on court in Miami.
The Greek received a first-round bye before second-round opponent Richard Gasquet withdrew through injury.
Second seed Tsitsipas will face Karen Khachanov next, after the Russian breezed past Czech Jiri Lehecka 6-2 6-4.
Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo - a Miami semi-finalist in 2022 - stunned Canada's world number six Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2 7-5.
Tiger Woods teaming up with Mike Trout to design Trout National - The Reserve
My 2023 bingo card did not have Tiger Woods designing a golf course with Mike Trout, aptly named "Trout National - The Reserve," but two legendary swingers who love golf building a course together? I'm here for it.
Los Angeles Angels star Trout announced Monday that he's "excited to be able to make a longtime dream" a reality with none other than Woods and his golf course design company, TGR Design.
Set to open in 2025, Trout National - The Reserve will be located in Vineland, New Jersey, which is just a short drive away from Trout's hometown of Millville, where he still lives today.
"I've always watched Mike on the diamond, so when an opportunity arose to work with him on Trout National – The Reserve, I couldn't pass it up," Woods said in a press release. "It's a great site for golf and our team's looking forward to creating a special course for Mike, Jessica, John and Lorie."
Trout's love of golf dates back to his childhood when he would go to the driving range with his dad, Jeff. Nowadays, he carries a handicap of "7 or 8" thanks in large part to a powerful drive. (You know you need to take your skills to a course when you hit the net at Topgolf.)
"It's pretty incredible having a chance to own your own golf course," Trout told Sports Illustrated. "Getting Tiger to design it is crazy. If you had told me before that this would happen one day, I would have said you are crazy. It's more than I ever thought possible."
According to the TGR Design website, Trout National - The Reserve "will bring a unique championship golf course experience to southern New Jersey."
"Set among gentle rolling hills, the course will seamlessly weave between two distinct settings that include a former quarry and rambling farmland. The sandy site was once home to a silica sand mine, which will be evident throughout the round with ample playable sandy waste areas strategically found throughout the routing, giving a distinct character.
"Trout National – The Reserve will be highly strategic in nature as sprawling fairways will offer multiple routes from tee to green. Undulating green complexes with low-cut surrounds will further emphasize the challenging, yet fun-focused design where risk-reward opportunities will be presented throughout the round to create an ideal match play environment. The unique nature of the course will promote creative shot making and optionality, qualities will be underscored with a striking par three match hole inspired by the club co-founder and MLB All-Star, Mike Trout, featuring multiple tee and green options.
"Accompanying the 18-hole championship golf course, the golf offerings at Trout National – The Reserve will also include a flexible short course and expansive putting course along with world-class practice facilities and performance center. Other club highlights include a modern state-of-the-art clubhouse, five-star lodging, innovative amenities, a wedding chapel and more."
France sneak past Ireland on Pavard thunderbolt
France defender Benjamin Pavard made a spectacular comeback to the team as his superb second-half strike saw them beat Republic of Ireland 1-0 away in Euro 2024 qualifying Group B on Monday.
Pavard, cast aside at last year's World Cup after a woeful opening game, struck from 18 metres to put France on six points from two games after Friday's 4-0 drubbing of the Netherlands.
- Ogden: Pavard reminds France of class going forward
France goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who took over as number one after Hugo Lloris's international retirement, denied the hosts an equaliser with a stunning save in the last minute, three days after stopping a penalty at the Stade de France.
France lead the group ahead of second-placed Greece, who have three points having only played once, with the Dutch third on goal difference after beating Gibraltar 3-0 at home.
Ireland are in fourth place after one game.
"It's never easy against such an aggressive team. We were ahead, but then they threatened on set pieces. We were solid, it's a good two games even if today's was not as good as Friday's," said France coach Didier Deschamps.
"But it as a different opponent. Anyway, six points is ideal. Congratulations to the squad."
Deschamps made three changes to the team who started against the Netherlands, with Eduardo Camavinga in midfield instead of Aurelien Tchouameni while Olivier Giroud was fielded as a lone striker with Randal Kolo Muani sliding to the right flank and pushing Kingsley Coman to the bench.
In defence, Pavard, who did not play at the World Cup after a terrible match against Australia, returned at right-back instead of Jules Kounde and he made his presence count.
France got off to a lively start and got a good chance in the ninth minute when Kolo Muani burst into the area, only to opt not to shoot and try to find Giroud with a back heel.
It was Les Bleus' only decent opportunity in the opening half as they lacked creativity against an Irish side aware of Kylian Mbappe's speed and happy to sit back and wait.
Pavard, however, broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half with an 18-metre shot that went under the bar after he had intercepted a poor pass from Josh Cullen to Jason Knight.
Ireland upped the pressure in the final minutes after France had failed to double their advantage through Adrien Rabiot and Moussa Diaby and they thought they had an equaliser through Nathan Collins, only for the defender's header to be tipped away from under the bar by Maignan.
"Mike is Mike. It's not easy to come after Hugo, but he has been around with us for a while and in two games he's shown his strength," said Deschamps.
Saim Ayub, Ihsanullah sparkle for young Pakistan to avert Afghanistan whitewash
Pakistan 182 for 7 (Ayub 49, Mujeeb 2-28) beat Afghanistan 116 all out (Shadab 3-13, Ihsanullah 3-29) by 66 runs
A much-improved batting performance and a typically clinical showing with the ball saw Pakistan avoid the ignominy of just a third T20I series whitewash, easing to victory over Afghanistan by 66 runs. Afghanistan were never in serious pursuit of the 182 Pakistan put up, crumbling to 116 all out in response.
Iftikhar Ahmed and Shadab Khan took over from there, going after each bowler as Afghanistan lost their discipline slightly. Seventy-four runs came off the final seven overs as Pakistan posted what was, by some distance, the highest total of the series.
Saim, Shafique take Afghanistan on
When two wickets fell early, the pattern for another innings where Afghanistan stifled an inexperienced Pakistan batting line-up was set. But Saim, who has struggled this series, and Shafique who last scored a T20I run three years and five innings ago, opted for belligerence over caution. Saim clobbered Mujeeb over the on side to set the tone, while Shafique took on Fareed Ahmed in the final Powerplay over to propel Pakistan to 52, their highest six-over score of the series. Nabi received the same treatment from Shafique even after the Powerplay ended, and though Rashid Khan cleaned him up the following over, that brief passage of play had swung the contest Pakistan's way. There was even time to spoil an unbeaten 17.5 over boundary-less stint from Rashid, when Saim deposited a full toss from the legspinner over cow corner.
Shadab Khan's golden day out
Shadab hasn't had the best weekend, skippering Pakistan to their first international defeats against Afghanistan. Some of the captaincy decisions were questionable, and the call to bat first in the second game after Afghanistan had romped to an easy chase in the first drew considerable fire. It was all compounded by post-match remarks about missing Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan that can't have helped their young top-order replacements feel too flash about themselves.
But Monday brought one of those irresistible Shadab performances that throw into sharp relief what a phenomenal cricketer the he is. A valuable death-overs cameo that saw him smash a 17-ball 28 took Pakistan well above par on this surface, ensuring they carried the momentum with them at the changeover. He was equally impressive with ball in hand, too, there to strike the telling blows at different stages of the innings. Ibrahim Zadran was beaten in the flight in his first over, before a double-strike in his third put paid to Ghani and Mujeeb, giving him his 100th and 101st wickets in the process. His figures of 4-0-13-3 didn't flatter him in the least.
Ihsanullah brings the heat
Different Pakistani fast bowler, same intimidating results. Ihsanullah hit the heights that have almost become second nature to him over the past six weeks, but a microcosm of all that he brings to this side was on display in a scintillating 11th over. His pace well into the high 140s kph and the asking rate rising, a suicidal run brought about the run-out of Nabi, with new man Najibullah entering on strike. By now, Ihsanullah had begun to favour a shorter length and a devilish first ball had the batter fending at one that deflected off the bat straight into the unprotected jawline. The blood gushed as Najibullah was forced off, needing a concussion substitute in Azmatullah Omarzai. But Ihsanullah wasn't going to go soft. A similarly brutish delivery first up to Janat was spliced into the air for Haris to take a straightforward catch, before Rashid got out of the way of a 145kph bouncer. For now, it wasn't about run-scoring, but basic self-preservation.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
Love to leave North Carolina, enter transfer portal
North Carolina star guard Caleb Love plans to enter the transfer portal, he announced Monday on social media.
"My time at UNC has been rewarding and has inspired me to grow on and off the court," he said, before thanking Roy Williams for recruiting him out of high school and Hubert Davis for the past two years.
"I've taken some time with my family to re-evaluate what's best for me to continue to grow as a player and I've decided to enter the transfer portal to continue my journey."
with love, the journey continues...?? pic.twitter.com/hnVddUAbo3— Caleb Love (@caleb2love) March 27, 2023
Love, a 6-foot-4 guard from St. Louis, is arguably the biggest name in the transfer portal to date. He averaged a career-high 16.7 points this season, shooting 37.8% from the field, while also contributing 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
The former five-star recruit boosted his stock during North Carolina's run to the national championship game last season, averaging 18.8 points in six NCAA tournament games. He scored 30 points and made six 3-pointers against UCLA in the Sweet 16, then went for 28 points against Duke in the Final Four.
After his breakout tournament run, Love opted to return to Chapel Hill for another season instead of entering the NBA draft. Despite bringing back Love and three other starters, North Carolina missed the NCAA tournament this year after opening the season ranked No. 1.
Love was also recruited by Missouri, Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Arizona out of high school. Four of those schools have different coaches now. He will have two seasons of eligibility at his new school.
Jets GM: No rush on Rodgers; Lamar not option
PHOENIX -- Despite dragging trade talks, the New York Jets remain confident that Aaron Rodgers will be their quarterback in 2023, tacitly saying they're so committed to Rodgers that they have no plans to pursue Lamar Jackson as a fallback option.
The Jets and Green Bay Packers have engaged in "some productive conversations" in recent weeks, Jets general manager Joe Douglas told reporters Monday at the NFL owners' meetings.
"Obviously, we're not where we need to be yet, but I feel like we're in a good place," he said.
Douglas said he and Packers GM Brian Gutekunst have no plans to conduct formal trade discussions in Phoenix, with Douglas saying "there's no hard deadline" for a trade. "There's not a ton of urgency from our standpoint right now. But still very optimistic."
Earlier Monday, Jets coach Robert Saleh said they could conceivably wait until training camp in late July, adding, "I'm not hitting the panic button."
It has been 13 days since the Packers' quarterback, speaking on The Pat McAfee Show, gave a public commitment to the Jets. Since then, the two teams haven't been able to agree on trade compensation.
The Packers reportedly are seeking a package that includes the Jets' first-round pick (13th overall), and the Jets don't want to part with it. Douglas declined to comment on whether that pick is off the table, saying he doesn't want to discuss specifics.
In a new twist, Douglas squashed the idea of pivoting to Jackson or showing interest in the Baltimore Ravens' star as a way to create leverage against the Packers. Jackson, who tweeted Monday that he requested a trade on March 2, received the nonexclusive franchise tag from the Ravens and is free to negotiate with any team.
"First of all, Lamar Jackson is a fantastic player, but where we stand is, it would be disingenuous and negotiating in bad faith if we went down that path," said Douglas, a former longtime Ravens scout. "We have our plan, we have our process and we're sticking to that. ... We're never going to operate in bad faith."
Because of tampering rules, the Jets didn't mention Rodgers by name and avoided direct questions about the team's interest in him. But they left no doubt they're counting on the four-time MVP to be their quarterback, with former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson slated to be the No. 2.
"I'm confident that things are going to work out," Saleh said. "You guys know me. I'm a very positive person and optimistic, so I'm confident that things will go the way we we're hoping. But at the same time, it's not going to eat at me."
Clearly, the Jets don't want to seem antsy, as they try to strengthen their negotiating position with the Packers. That may explain why Saleh didn't shut the door on the possibility of waiting until training camp for Rodgers' arrival.
"If there's a great rapport with the coordinator, there's really no urgency," Saleh said. "The quarterback, if he understands the system, if the quarterback knows it, it's just a matter of just refining skills and doing all that stuff. So there's no hurry."
No doubt, Saleh was alluding to Rodgers' strong relationship with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. When Rodgers declared his "intention" to play for the Jets, he cited Hackett as one of the main reasons.
In theory, the Packers might want to complete the trade before the draft so they can recoup 2023 compensation. If it doesn't happen by then, they could wait until after June 1 because there would be a significant salary-cap benefit. Meanwhile, the Jets seem determined to make Rodgers happy by adding players he suggested on his so-called wish list. One of them was free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Jets officials confirmed interest in Beckham, 30, a three-time Pro Bowler coming off his second ACL surgery. They've had "productive" discussions with his agent, Douglas said. They would like to host him for a visit and a physical at some point, if they can get within striking distance of a deal.
"The more weapons the better," Douglas said. "This could be an opportunity to add a unique talent, but we feel great about our room as it's currently constructed."
The Jets added free agents Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman to a unit that includes NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson. They cut Braxton Berrios and traded Elijah Moore to the Cleveland Browns. Saleh said the addition of Hardman allowed them to deal Moore.
"That was a tough decision because Elijah is a really good and a young player on a cap-friendly deal," said Douglas, commenting for the first time on last week's trade. "It was just a situation that came up where we had a flood of calls. ... Ultimately, we felt like this was an opportunity to bring value that we needed, back to the team and back to the draft." The Jets acquired a second-round pick in exchange for Moore and a third-round pick.
In other personnel developments, Saleh committed to Wilson as the QB2 despite his profound struggles last season. He also doused speculation about Carl Lawson's roster spot, saying he wants the defensive end on the roster despite a $15.7 million cap charge.
Red Sox demote Dalbec, Alfaro; Chang gets spotMonday, 27 March 2023 16:01
The Boston Red Sox optioned infielder Bobby Dalbec and catcher Jorge Alfaro to Triple-A Worcester on Monday.
Yu Chang beat out Dalbec for the final infield spot, and Connor Wong will serve as the primary backup to starting catcher Reese McGuire.
Dalbec, 27, batted .215 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in 2022, playing first base and third base. He hit .235 in 18 spring training games, with two home runs, two triples and four doubles.
Alfaro, 29, hit .246 with seven HRs and 40 RBIs last season with the San Diego Padres. He hit .478 with an OPS of 1.390 in nine spring training games with the Red Sox.
Chang, 27, didn't appear in a spring training game with the Red Sox. Boston didn't sign him until Feb. 16, giving him no time before playing in the World Baseball Classic, where he was named Most Valuable Player of Pool A playing for Taiwan. He rejoined the club on Thursday.
Chang hit .222 in 51 games last season with four teams, including 11 with the Red Sox. Chang can play all four infield positions.
Wong, 26, hasn't appeared in a spring training game since March 2 because of a hamstring injury. He hit .400 in three games. He batted .188 in 27 games with the Red Sox in 2022.
Orioles send top P prospect Rodriguez to minorsMonday, 27 March 2023 16:01
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles have optioned right-hander Grayson Rodriguez to Triple-A Norfolk, sending one of the game's top pitching prospects to the minors as Opening Day approaches.
The Orioles also released utilityman Franchy Cordero and outfielder Nomar Mazara.
Rodriguez went 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA at Triple-A last season, and he's ranked as the game's No. 12 prospect by ESPN's Kiley McDaniel. However, he posted a 7.04 ERA in five starts this spring.
Baltimore also reassigned right-hander Eduard Bazardo, outfielder Daz Cameron, right-hander Reed Garrett, catcher Maverick Handley, infielder Josh Lester, infielder Ryan O'Hearn and infielder Jordan Westburg to Norfolk.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Reds vet Votto (shoulder) to start season on ILMonday, 27 March 2023 16:01
Cincinnati Reds veteran Joey Votto will begin the year on the injured list, snapping a streak of 14 consecutive seasons starting for the Reds on Opening Day.
Votto said at a news conference Monday that he will begin a Triple-A rehab assignment later this week and rejoin the major league team when he's ready.
The 39-year-old first baseman underwent surgery on his left rotator cuff last August and is still working his way back.
"What led me to that decision was just not being ready," Votto said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Starting a good bit behind during spring training. Still working through some of the rehab process. Not accumulating enough time in the field.
"Not accumulating enough at-bats. [Sunday] was the first day where I felt semi-close to being able to play close to 100%. It takes a stretch of time feeling that way before you feel like you are regular-season ready."
A six-time All-Star and 2010 NL MVP, Votto hit just .205 last season with 11 homers and 41 RBIs. He is heading into the final season of the 10-year, $225 million extension he signed with the Reds in 2012.
Heineken Champions Cup: 'Highly-motivated' Ulster can beat Leinster in last-16 tie
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland says his side will approach their Heineken Champions Cup last-16 tie against Leinster in a positive fashion.
Ulster go into the match against their interprovincial rivals in Dublin as underdogs, but McFarland says his squad will just try to play to their optimum.
"People say it's unlikely Ulster are going to win but that's not how we approach it," he added.
"The onus is on us to produce the best performance we possibly can."
McFarland added: "We must make every moment of the game a contest against them and if we consistently do that the chips will fall the way they fall.
"It's out of our control how they play. We can only influence the game by the way we play and that's what we'll be totally focused on."
Four-time European champions Leinster are aiming to win the premier piece of club silverware on the continent for the first time since 2018 - and Leo Cullen's side have won both meetings against Ulster in the United Rugby Championship this season.
The northern province have never beaten their rivals in European competition, although they did come close at the quarter-final stage four years ago, losing narrowly 21-19.
"In the last two years, we've beaten them twice and we played some good stuff in the other games in patches, but we simply weren't good enough to beat them this year," added McFarland.
"We know we have the ability to win games against Leinster but we're also fully aware that if we're not playing to the peak of our ability then it's going to be tough - but we're highly motivated."
The Ulster coach faces a number of difficult selection calls for the crunch encounter at the Aviva Stadium, not least at hooker where Ireland international Rob Herring faces a strong challenge for a starting berth from prolific number two Tom Stewart.
Stewart's hat-trick of tries in Friday's 33-23 URC win over the Bulls took his tally for the season to 14 and the 22-year-old has also been involved on the fringes of the Ireland squad.
"Tom had two years where he played barely any rugby but he was able to take that opportunity to develop physically," explained McFarland.
"He's always had a very good mindset and once his body was in good shape he demonstrated his talent.
"It's 'head down' with Tom - he gets on with the job and forced his way into involvement with the Ireland squad.
"We have two hookers in and around that Irish squad and Rob is fresh off scoring a try in a Grand Slam-winning game, so it's very competitive at hooker for Ireland. We've got two good fellas."
The winners will face Leicester Tigers or Edinburgh in the quarter-finals of the competition the following week.