George Russell said he is "absolutely buzzing" for next season's Formula One world championship after he agreed a move to Mercedes.

It was confirmed on September 6 that Valtteri Bottas would be ending his Mercedes stint after five seasons with the team, joining Alfa Romeo for 2022 on a multi-year deal.

Bottas has served as the second-seat driver to Lewis Hamilton, helping Mercedes to four constructors' titles.

However, with the Finn now joining Alfa in the wake of Kimi Raikkonen's impending retirement, Mercedes have signed up Hamilton's fellow Briton Russell from Williams.

"Looking ahead to next season, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't absolutely buzzing," Russell said in a statement released by Mercedes.

"It's a huge opportunity and one I want to grab with both hands. But I'm under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge; it's going to be a steep learning curve.

"For now, though, I have nine more races as a Williams driver, and I want to make sure they are the best nine of my time with the team.

"Then, and only then, can I turn my attention to 2022."

The 23-year-old, who has signed a long-term contract with Mercedes, has spent the last three seasons with Williams and has achieved one podium finish in his Formula One career to date.

However, that came in contentious circumstances at this season's Belgian Grand Prix as Russell was awarded second after only two laps had been completed in sodden conditions.

When Hamilton returned a positive positive coronavirus test before the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix Russell stepped in to replace him, finishing ninth.

Russell revealed he is excited to become a team-mate of Hamilton's.

"I've looked up to Lewis since I was in go-karts," Russell said of the seven-time F1 champion.

"The opportunity to learn from someone who has become a role model both on and off the track can only benefit me as a driver, a professional, and a human being."

 

Russell was on the Mercedes young driver programme in 2017 and won that season's GP3 Series championship before he became Formula Two champion the following year.

Mercedes team principal Toto Woolf claimed Russell and Hamilton will provide a formidable team over the next few seasons.

"We are very happy to confirm that George will have the opportunity to take the next step in his career and join Mercedes," Woolf added.

"He has been a winner in every racing category – and the past three seasons with Williams have given us a taste of what the future could hold for him in F1.

"Now, it is our challenge together to help him continue learning within our environment and alongside Lewis, the greatest F1 driver of all time.

"I am confident that as their relationship grows, they will form a strong team and deliver for Mercedes on and off the track in the years to come.

"It's a weight off our shoulders to have our plans for 2022 clear and announced."

Maria Sakkari felt she got her just rewards for being brave as she triumphed in a late-night US Open thriller against Bianca Andreescu.

The Greek sealed a 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 victory in a gruelling last-16 clash that finally concluded at 02:13 local time in New York – the latest finish to a women's singles match in tournament history.

Sakkari saved eight of the 12 break points she faced as she racked up 46 winners and 40 unforced errors after adopting a bold approach to fight back from a set down and wrap up the victory in three hours and 30 minutes.

She ended 2019 champion Andreescu's 10-match unbeaten streak at the US Open and was delighted to see her tactics pay off, with Karolina Pliskova standing between her and second grand slam semi-final of the year.

Speaking about her fearless showing, Sakkari, who was beaten in the last four at Roland Garros, said: "It's something that I've been working with [coach] Tom [Hill] since end of last year, but I felt like I lost that bravery after the French. I was more hesitant. I was not going for it so much.

"After my loss [in Cincinnati] with Angie [Angelique Kerber] I just practiced for two weeks. I had some very tough practices where I was crying because I could not feel my shots, I could not feel my tennis. But thankfully I had Tom and Yannis, my hitting partner, that supported me a lot.

"I lost my identity. That's how I called it. I lost myself, part of myself. With my psychologist, as well, I found a way to come back and feel again what I felt out there today.

"By telling myself to be more brave, it's not like, Maria, now be brave, and you're brave. It's just a process in practice and everything that has helped me to be more brave.

"I mean, there was a decent crowd staying until 2:30 at night. I said, Maria, you cannot give up. Just stay focused and stay calm and just make balls."

Jenson Brooksby has confidence he can compete with anybody after threatening a fourth-round upset against Novak Djokovic at the US Open.

The unheralded American posed a real problem for Djokovic at Arthur Ashe Stadium and took out the opening set 6-1 in New York City.

It was not to be, though, as Djokovic – chasing a calendar Grand Slam – roared back to win 1-6 6-3 6-2 6-2.

Despite falling short, Brooksby is only looking at the positives from going toe-to-toe with the world number one in such a huge match.

"It's definitely all positive things to take away. I learned my game. I'm feeling really confident in my game. I believe I can compete with anybody," Brooksby said after his first run to the second week of a grand slam.

"I knew it would be important to start strong, to impose my mindset and my strategy, my game out there. It's definitely special. I mean, I always enjoy the matches and everything throughout the moment. Obviously you have to stay focused.

"Afterwards, you can always have time to reflect more. Just appreciate and enjoy for the whole journey.

"Atmospheres like that are what you want to be in front of since you were a little kid, watching on TV when you were young, and now you're living it. It is something I really appreciate and I'm grateful to be here now. I'm excited to keep [playing] in atmospheres like this for the future."

Brooksby required treatment a couple of times during the match and revealed he was contending with an issue to his left hip.

"Yeah, there was something. Something that kind of came up from later in the second match, then in the third one. Even with a day off, then kind of into today, like my left hip kind of was bothering me even early on and more into it," he added.

"Not like it's an excuse or anything, but it kind of went throughout the leg today a bit. I was struggling more to push off and move. But that's part of the sport. I did everything I could to feel the best I can going out there today and all the other days. There's no regrets on that.

"I definitely think if there wasn't that, I could have kept a better level up closer to the first set throughout the rest of the match."

Brooksby only reached the world's top 100 earlier this month and is now projected to be on the cusp of the top 40.

The 20-year-old relished his first experience of playing on Arthur Ashe.

"I did take time to look around a little bit, just appreciated being in an atmosphere like that with so many people cheering you on. Took a moment to still have it all in after," he said. 

"You're not going to win every match you play obviously, but you still have to enjoy it.

"I think [the belief] comes from definitely more training, but most importantly other match situations against other guys and just the whole process of it. 

"Leading up to it, I 100 per cent believed I could win against anybody. I thought I showed that with the level I could produce out there. Unfortunately, physically it got a little tougher."

Novak Djokovic said "I'll take your legs out, that's for sure" after digging deep to outlast American qualifier Jenson Brooksby in a physically demanding encounter at the US Open.

Djokovic – bidding to become only the third man to claim a calendar Grand Slam and first since Rod Laver in 1969 – rallied from a set down to prevail 1-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 en route to the quarter-finals in New York on Monday.

It was a brutal clash on Arthur Ashe Stadium, 20-time major champion and top seed Djokovic needed almost three hours to see off world number 99 Brooksby, who was making his debut at the iconic venue.

After being blitzed in a 29-minute opening set, Djokovic and Brooksby contested a gruelling 20-minute fifth game in the second set – the latter converting a sixth break-point chance.

Djokovic's physical superiority, however, was on display as the Serb star eventually powered past the spirited 20-year-old at Flushing Meadows.

During the last-16 matchup, former world number one Andy Roddick tweeted, in reference to Djokovic, "first he takes your legs… then he takes your soul".

Djokovic – who will face sixth seed Matteo Berrettini in a repeat of the Wimbledon final – said on court: "Thanks Andy, I take that as a compliment – only the first part.

"The second part, I don't take anybody's soul. Everyone has their soul, we're all beautiful souls so I appreciate everyone. But I'll take your legs out, that's for sure."

Djokovic hit 44 winners in the four-set triumph, to go with 41 unforced errors in a tricky clash under the Arthur Ashe lights.

With his hard-fought victory, Djokovic improved to 11-0 against Americans at the US Open. He is 29-3 at major events and 70-10 in ATP Tour-level matches.

The 34-year-old is on a 21-match winning streak against players from the United States since Sam Querrey snapped his 30-match slam streak at Wimbledon in 2016.

"Great quality match," Djokovic, who can break the record for most men's slam titles – currently level with injured pair Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, told reporters. "He started off better. I've never played him. I didn't see him play too many times. Maybe few matches in the last few months. Haven't followed his career prior to that, so I didn't know much about him. Had to do some homework and some analysis.

"It's different stepping out on the court first time against someone that really has nothing to lose. He's a young, talented player that is very crafty. He's got the really all-around game. He was pumped. He had the crowd behind him, of course. He played a perfect first set. Everything he intended to do he executed it perfectly.

"On my end, I was just trying to find a rhythm, trying to read his game, trying to understand where I can find holes in his game and start to attack and shift the momentum to my side.

"That happened already at the beginning of the second set. I broke him early. He broke back. But I re-broke his serve right away. We had some very, very long rallies, long games. It took a toll physically I think on both of us at that point. But I managed to find the right serves. I served efficiently when I needed to, opening up the court.

"The third and fourth set were really, really good from my side. I felt I was more dominant. I decreased the unforced errors that were really high in the first part of the match. I just was kind of swinging through the ball better. Was a good finish. It wasn't a good start. But all in all, expected the battle, and I got that one. I'm pleased to overcome it."

The Tampa Bay Rays rallied from six runs down to beat American League (AL) East rivals the Boston Red Sox 11-10.

In a wild showdown on Monday, Austin Meadows hit a game-tying inside-the-park homer in the ninth inning before Nelson Cruz's go-ahead single in the 10th completed the comeback.

Despite Chris Sale starting for the Red Sox, AL East leaders the Rays recorded their MLB-leading 43rd come-from-behind victory of the season, having trailed 7-1.

The highest scoring team in the majors in 2021, Tampa Bay had been 0-70 all-time when trailing by six runs or more against the Red Sox.

"That's the biggest win of the year, for sure," Meadows said afterwards. "All year we just find a way."

Tampa Bay's Wander Franco finished with four hits as the 20-year-old rookie extended his historic on-base streak to 36 games, tying Mickey Mantle's AL record set in 1951-52 for the most consecutive times by a player under 21. Frank Robinson set the MLB-league mark of 43 in 1956.

The Rays (87-51) are eight and a half games clear of the New York Yankees (78-59) atop the AL East, while the Red Sox (79-61) are nine games behind following consecutive defeats.

 

Scherzer stars, Guerrero and Semien make history as Jays stay hot

Max Scherzer struck out 13 batters to lead World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers past the St Louis Cardinals 5-1. In a dominant eight-inning start, Dodgers ace Scherzer allowed one unearned run with no walks. The Cy Young candidate is 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA and 63 strikeouts in seven starts since his trade to the Dodgers.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 40th home run of the season as the in-form Toronto Blue Jays routed the Yankees 8-0. The 22-year-old All-Star became the youngest Blue Jays hitter to reach 40 homers in a season and one of just 10 in franchise history, while he and his Hall of Fame father Vladimir Guerrero are one of only two father-son duos to hit 40 home runs, along with Price Fielder and Cecil Fielder. Meanwhile, Marcus Semien delivered a grand slam in the ninth inning as he set the franchise record for most home runs (37) by a middle infielder in a single season.

The Texas Rangers blanked the Los Angeles Angels 4-0 behind A.J. Alexy. He pitched six innings and allowed one hit after going five innings, while allowing one hit in his first career start. According to Stats Perform, Alexy is the first rookie in the modern era to go five-plus innings and allow one or fewer hits in each of his first two career starts.

 

Astros get on top of Kikuchi

Yusei Kikuchi had a rough outing in the Seattle Mariners' 11-2 demolition at the hands of the Houston Astros. He allowed 3 three hits, six runs – four earned, four walks and a homer in just 1.2 innings of work.

The Blue Jays roughed up Yankees starter Jameson Taillon, who finished with three hits, three runs, two walks and a pair of homers in 7.0 innings pitched.

 

Segura hits memorable slam

Jean Segura launched the first grand slam of his career as the Philadelphia Phillies trounced the Milwaukee Brewers 12-0. Bryce Harper also homered as part of a six-homer display by the Phillies.

 

 

Monday's results 

Tampa Bay Rays 11-10 Boston Red Sox
Kansas City Royals 3-2 Baltimore Orioles
Washington Nationals 4-3 New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays 8-0 New York Yankees
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies 12-0 Milwaukee Brewers
Chicago Cubs 4-3 Cincinnati Reds
San Francisco Giants 10-5 Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 St Louis Cardinals
Minnesota Twins 5-2 Cleveland Indians
Houston Astros 11-2 Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers 4-0 Los Angeles Angels

 

Rays at Red Sox

The Rays (87-51) will look to claim back-to-back wins when they visit the Red Sox (79-61) on Tuesday. Rays ace Drew Rasmussen will take to the mound, while Eduardo Rodriguez starts for the Red Sox.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made history with the Toronto Blue Jays after homering in an 8-0 demolition of MLB rivals the New York Yankees.

Guerrero Jr. hit his 40th home run of the season as the in-form Blue Jays routed the Yankees on Monday to further boost their Wild Card chances.

The 22-year-old All-Star became the youngest Blue Jays hitter to reach 40 homers in a season and one of just 10 in franchise history, while he and his Hall of Fame father Vladimir Guerrero are one of only two father-son duos to hit 40 home runs, along with Price Fielder and Cecil Fielder.

"I have front-row seats to watch this whole season," said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, who was a team-mate of Vladimir Guerrero Sr. with double-A Harrisburg in 1996.

"What he's done, that's not easy to do. This guy he's going to be one of the best players in baseball. Actually, he already is and it's been fun to watch somebody that young be that good at the plate."

Guerrero Jr. is also on a career-high 14-game hit streak with the Blue Jays, who have won five straight games to be three games adrift in the American League (AL) Wild Card race.

The 2021 All-Star boasts a .414 batting average, 1.090 OPS, four homers and nine RBIs during that run.

Guerrero Jr. became the 10th player in MLB history with 40 homers in his age-22 season, and first since Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. in 2019.

"That's amazing," Blue Jays team-mate Marcus Semien said. "I knew when we took BP, it was a good day to hit to right field. He didn't hit on the field but I mentioned that to him. He's so good he did it in his first at-bat. It's something special."

It was also a special outing for Semien against the slumping Yankees in New York, where he launched his 36th and 37th home runs of the season.

Semien delivered a grand slam in the ninth inning as he set the franchise record for most home runs by a middle infielder in a single season.

"For me, when my mechanics and timing are sound, I think I see the ball better and I'm more confident," Semien said. "I'm seeing that with everybody in the cage when they work. This time of year, you really get a good feel for what you're doing. You see the results."

World number one Novak Djokovic's quest for a calendar Grand Slam and record-breaking 21st major title remains on track after outlasting Jenson Brooksby 1-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 in a gruelling US Open showdown.

Unheralded American qualifier and world number 99 Brooksby had the crowd roaring following an incredible opening set against Djokovic in Monday's last-16 clash at Flushing Meadows.

However, Djokovic – bidding to become only the third man to sweep all four slams in the same year and first since Rod Laver in 1969 – responded to the almighty challenge, showcasing his superior physicality as the three-time US Open champion rallied into the quarter-finals in New York.

Brooksby was making his first appearance on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the 20-year-old was looking to become the lowest-ranked player to beat a number one at the US Open since the start of the ATP rankings in 1973 and youngest American man since Andy Roddick (2003 Wimbledon) to reach a major quarter-final.

He was not overawed on the big stage, blitzing Djokovic in a remarkable first set. Playing with a bounce in his step and bringing the crowd to its feet, Brooksby only hit one unforced error in a dominant 29-minute display, which included two breaks of serve.

Djokovic was 38-34 at grand slams when losing the opening set and 12-10 at Flushing Meadows and after an error-filled opener, the Serb star let out an almighty roar after racing out to a 3-0 lead.

Just as Djokovic – level on 20 men's slams with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – looked comfortable, he endured a marathon 20-minute fifth game against Brooksby.

Brooksby broke at the sixth time of asking and the breath-taking tennis continued as Djokovic broke straight back to reclaim his advantage at 4-2 – the latter ending the game with an intense stare down in the direction of his opponent.

After a gruelling second set to level the match, the third followed a similar pattern, with Djokovic breaking in the opening game before moving 3-0 ahead.

Djokovic did not relinquish that lead, hitting 13 winners while claiming 11 of his 13 points at the net as he took the match to Brooksby.

Brooksby put up a huge fight but, he was unable to maintain his charge as the crowd went silent – Djokovic looking ahead to a last-eight showdown with sixth seed Matteo Berrettini in a rematch of the Wimbledon final.

 

Data slam: Djokovic flawless against locals in New York

With his hard-fought victory, which lasted almost three hours, Djokovic improved to 11-0 against Americans at the US Open. He is 29-3 at major events and 70-10 in ATP Tour-level matches. The 34-year-old is on a 21-match winning streak against players from the United States since Sam Querrey snapped his 30-match slam streak at Wimbledon in 2016.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 44/41
Brooksby – 27/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 9/1
Brooksby – 4/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 6/12
Brooksby – 3/11

Louis van Gaal compared the self-confidence of his Netherlands side to being like that of Formula One star Max Verstappen.

Van Gaal's Netherlands will face Turkey in a crucial top-of-the-table World Cup Group G qualifier on Tuesday.

The Netherlands are a point adrift following their 4-0 rout of Montenegro last time out and Van Gaal is happy with his team since taking over from Frank de Boer.

Van Gaal likened the Netherlands' confidence to that of Dutch driver Verstappen, who reclaimed the F1 world championship lead from Lewis Hamilton with his Dutch Grand Prix success last week.

"The most important thing, which Max [Verstappen] also has, is to have self-confidence," Van Gaal told reporters.

"Very strong confidence, and you just heard from Memphis [Depay] that he also has very strong confidence in the team.

"I am happy about that because I also have a lot of self-confidence. So, we are all on the same wavelength."

After being held 1-1 by Norway in Van Gaal's first game in his third spell in charge, Oranje turned on the style in Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Montenegro at Philips Stadion.

Memphis Depay opened the scoring from the penalty spot and added a second just after the hour mark to put the Netherlands on course for a seventh straight home win.

That was the first time in 70 caps Depay had scored the first two goals for his country in a match, the Barcelona forward taking his goals tally to 30 across that period.

Captain Georginio Wijnaldum put the result beyond doubt with the hosts' third and Cody Gakpo rounded off the scoring 14 minutes from time with his first international goal.

On Turkey, Van Gaal added: "[Turkish coach Senol Gunes] has made his team play in a very disciplined way. It's really very good to have Turkey play with discipline, and Turkey has some smart players, with players who play at top clubs, actually.

"They only have two players who play in Turkey, at least in the team we're expecting to face."

Atlanta Braves star Charlie Morton signed a new contract with the MLB franchise, it was announced on Monday.

Braves ace and two-time All-Star Morton penned a one-year, $20million extension in Atlanta, where the starting pitcher has a $20m option for 2023.

Morton returned to the Braves this season following his exploits during the Tampa Bay Rays' run to the 2020 World Series, having been drafted by Atlanta in 2002.

The 37-year-old – a World Series winner with the Houston Astros in 2017 – debuted for the Braves in 2008 before leaving the following year.

Morton has starred in his second stint with the Braves, going 13-5 with a 3.47 ERA in 28 starts this season.

He has 185 strikeouts in 2021 – tied for eighth, while he is fifth for winning percentage (.722).

The Braves (72-64) top the National League (NL) East.

Europe retained the Solheim Cup and secured just their second win in the United States on Monday, prevailing 15-13.

The visiting team held a 9-7 lead heading into the final day's action and protected that advantage to see out a stunning success.

Team Europe were comfortable in the end, although victory was sealed in rather untidy fashion in Ohio.

With the score at 14-11, Danielle Kang's poor putting left Emily Pedersen three up with three to play, guaranteed at least half a point, which would be enough for the win.

Matilda Castren had already ensured the holders would take the trophy home again, though, sinking the decisive putt to finish 1 up over Lizette Salas and clinch at least a draw.

Salas has twice finished second at majors this season, while Castren only made her LPGA Tour bow last year, yet it was the European star who held her nerve.

"It feels amazing. I can't believe I made that putt," Castren told Sky Sports. "It's such an amazing feeling and I'm so proud to be part of this team."

Suzann Pettersen had holed the winning putt two years earlier at Gleneagles, and she was a source of inspiration for Castren.

"We have Suzann's photo in the locker room, and there's a part of me that thought I wouldn't be able to do it," she said. "The pressure made me focus a bit more."

First-time Team USA captain Pat Hurst told NBC Sports: "It is what it is. We played hard and with heart. That's all we were asking for.

"Both sides are awesome players. The level of women's golf is unbelievable now, and it's just getting better."

Pedersen held on to beat Kang, while there were also European wins for Madelene Sagstrom, Leona Maguire and Celine Boutier. Maguire finished with a sensational 4.5 points as the only unbeaten player.

World number one Nelly Korda at least went down fighting, ending 1 up over Georgia Hall.

Shelby Rogers was anticipating "nine million death threats" after her fourth-round loss to Emma Raducanu at the US Open on Monday. 

Just two days after coming from two breaks down in the third set to defeat world number one and top seed Ash Barty, Rogers succumbed to a 6-2 6-1 defeat at the hands of Raducanu.

The 18-year-old consequently reached the first grand slam quarter-final of her career and became just the third qualifier to reach the last eight of the women's draw at Flushing Meadows in the Open Era.

Having been overwhelmed with adulation in the wake of her win against Barty, Rogers admitted she was now concerned the scales would tip the other way. 

Sloane Stephens revealed she received more than 2,000 abusive messages on social media after losing to Angelique Kerber in the third round and her fellow American was wary of suffering a similar fate. 

"I kind of wish social media didn't exist, but here we are. It's a big part of marketing now. We have contracts, we have to post certain things," said Rogers. 

"You could probably go through my profile right now, I'm probably a fat pig and words that I can't say right now. But, I mean, it is what it is. You try not to take it to heart, and it's the unfortunate side of any sport and what we do." 

She continued: "I think someone asked by the other day some advice I would give, and I said try not to get too high or too low with every match. 

"It's tough when you know you have a win like that [against Barty] and everybody is treating it like the final. Everybody coming up to me on-site. 

"I'm really actually happy I had doubles [on Sunday] because it kind of refocused me a little bit, but everyone's coming up to you, 'Oh, great win.' I'm like, 'Yeah, but it's just the third round. We're not even halfway right now.' 

"It's just really tough sometimes to keep that in perspective, but you do the best you can and try to ignore the media and everybody blowing it up and making you the story of the tournament. 

"Obviously, we appreciate the spotlight in those moments, but then you have today and I'm going to have nine million death threats and whatnot. It's very much polarising – one extreme to the other very quickly. 

"At this point in my career, I'd say I'm used to it. It's just now for me, finding a way to have those big wins but then be able to back it up a little bit. It's not easy to say the least." 

Rogers won just 38 per cent of points behind her first serve and committed a total of 29 unforced errors, leaving the 28-year-old hugely dissatisfied with her display. 

"That was pretty embarrassing," she said. "It was a tough day at the office. Unfortunately, I had to fail in front of thousands and thousands of people. I have to live with that one. 

"It's disappointing that I couldn't must up a little more today. But I told you guys the other night it took everything I had to beat Barty. I guess that was a little apparent today. The tank was empty."

Emma Raducanu broke new ground on Monday as the qualifier reached the quarter-finals of the US Open in supreme style.

The 18-year-old produced one of the performances of the tournament when she defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0 6-1 on Saturday.

The Briton lost the first two games of her clash with Shelby Rogers, who impressively beat world number one Ash Barty in the previous round, but she then stormed to a 6-2 6-1 victory in her first outing on the court of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Raducanu, who made headlines in the United Kingdom when she reached round four on her Wimbledon debut in July, will now face Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic in the first major quarter-final of her career.

Raducanu responded after a nervy start by reeling off six games in a row to take the first set in dominant fashion.

Rogers, who won just 12 points behind her first serve throughout, seemed to wilt against the onslaught as her groundstrokes became wild, her unforced error count totalling 29 by the end.

Raducanu appeared to feel the nerves towards the end of the second set but eventually closed out a famous win on her fourth match point, becoming just the third qualifier in the Open Era to reach this stage of the US Open.

"It feels absolutely amazing to play in front of all of you," she said in her on-court interview. "I'm so happy to have come through and overcome some of the nerves from the beginning.

"Belinda's a great player who's in great form, so I know I'm going to have to bring it.

"I'm just not really thinking about tennis right now. I'll leave that for tomorrow!"

Raducanu will face Bencic on Wednesday, the Swiss having beaten seventh seed Iga Swiatek in straight sets.

Tyrod Taylor has been confirmed as the Houston Texans' starting quarterback for the 2021 NFL season. 

Taylor, who signed a one-year, $5.5million contract in Houston, was widely expected to be named the Texans' QB1 – a decision confirmed by head coach David Culley on Monday. 

The Texans, for whom third-round rookie Davis Mills will serve as back-up, are set for a testing year. 

Deshaun Watson has been the team's star QB over the past four seasons, last year leading the league in passing yards (4,823) and passing yards per attempt (8.87) – this despite being sacked 49 times, second only to Carson Wentz. 

Watson was the one bright spot on a team that finished 4-12 in 2020, but he is not likely to feature this season despite remaining on the roster. 

The 25-year-old in January asked for a trade, only for talk of a move to be overshadowed two months later by the emergence of sexual assault and misconduct allegations. Watson is the subject of investigations from the police and the NFL and faces 22 civil lawsuits. 

Watson has not been restricted from taking part in team activities, yet a belated exit is anticipated after a period on the sidelines. 

That leaves Taylor in the firing line on a team forecast to have the worst record in the league. 

The 32-year-old was a regular for the Bills for three years between 2015 and 2017, but he has started only four games in three seasons since leaving Buffalo – three with the Cleveland Browns in 2018 and one last year with the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Taylor completed only 16 of his 30 pass attempts in 2020, a small sample size providing a 53.3 completion percentage that paled next to Watson's 70.2. 

The Texans start against the Jacksonville Jaguars and number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence on Sunday. 

Lewis Hamilton has described Valtteri Bottas as the best team-mate of his career following news the Mercedes driver will be heading to Alfa Romeo.

Bottas, 32, has won nine races and helped Mercedes to four constructors' championships since joining the team back in 2017.

The Finn is now due to take the place of the retiring Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo, with George Russell expected to line up as Hamilton's new team-mate with the Silver Arrows in 2022.

Bottas will bring plenty of experience to Alfa Romeo, having twice finished as runner-up to Hamilton in the drivers' standings and also secured 54 podiums in 92 starts for Mercedes.

Reigning champion Hamilton says Bottas is a greater driver than he realises and has savoured sharing a garage over the past five seasons.

"I'm immensely proud to have worked alongside Valtteri for the last five years," he wrote on social media.

"Together, we've been part of a team that has delivered four constructors' championships, and we've motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups and the downs.

"He has been the best team-mate I've had the pleasure of working with. Your speed and resilience has been impressive but where you truly stand out to me is the human being you are and gentleman.

"You are greater than you know and I know there's a bright future ahead for you.

"Thank you Valtteri for all your support and amazing contributions to this team. You will be missed. I wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Let's finish off strong and get that 8th for the team."

Alfa Romeo have announced Valtteri Bottas will leave Mercedes to replace the retiring Kimi Raikkonen on a multi-year deal from next season.

Bottas has raced for Mercedes since 2017, winning nine races across that period and helping the Silver Arrows to four constructors' championships.

However, the 32-year-old's future has been the subject of much speculation in recent months and it has now been confirmed he will leave Mercedes at the end of the 2021 season.

The Finn's exit paves the way for George Russell's likely graduation to Mercedes to partner fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton from next season onwards.

Bottas will bring plenty of experience to Alfa Romeo, having twice finished as runner-up to Hamilton in the Driver Standings and also secured 53 podiums in 92 starts for Mercedes. 

"A new chapter in my racing career is opening," he said in a statement on Monday. 

"I'm excited to join Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN for 2022 and beyond for what is going to be a new challenge with an iconic manufacturer.

"Alfa Romeo is a brand that needs no introduction; they have written some great pages of Formula 1 history and it's going to be an honour to represent this marque. 

"The potential of the setup in Hinwil is clear and I am relishing the opportunity to help lead the team forward up the grid, especially with the new regulations in 2022 giving the team a chance to make a leap in performance.

"I'm grateful for the trust the team has put in me and I cannot wait to repay their faith: I'm as hungry as ever to race for results and, when the time comes, for wins. 

"I know Fred [Vasseur] well and I am looking forward to getting to know the rest of the team I am going to work with, building relationships as strong as the ones I have at Mercedes.

"I am proud of what I have achieved in Brackley and I am fully focused on finishing the job as we fight for another world championship, but I am also looking forward to the new challenges that await me next year."

The news of Bottas' arrival comes after Raikkonen announced last week he is to retire at the end of the season. Alfa Romeo have yet to announce who will partner Bottas next year.

Bottas will reunite with Alfa Romeo team principal Vasseur after the pair previously worked together at ART in F3 in 2009 and 2010, and in GP3 in 2011.

Vasseur said: "It is a pleasure to welcome Valtteri to the team and we are looking forward to our journey together. With him, we bring to Hinwil a strong team player with experience at the sharp end of the grid.

"Valtteri has been an integral part of a team that rewrote the history books and he has four constructors’ world titles to his name: he is the right driver to help Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN make a step forward towards the front of the grid."

Carlos Alcaraz's fairytale run to the quarter-finals at the US Open is a dream come true for the Spanish teenager.

Alcaraz became the youngest men's US Open quarter-finalist in the Open Era when he ousted Peter Gojowczyk 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 6-0 on Sunday.

The 18-year-old, who became the youngest man to defeat a top-three player at Flushing Meadows when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas last week, is also the most junior male player at the New York grand slam since Thomaz Koch in 1963.

Similarly, Sunday's triumph made him the youngest men's singles quarter-finalist at any grand slam since Michael Chang (18) made the last eight at the 1990 French Open.

Alcaraz will now face another rising star – Felix Auger-Aliassime – for a place in the semi-finals.

"I'm super excited to be in my first second week in the grand slam, so it's amazing for me. It's a dream come true," an ecstatic Alcaraz told reporters.

"It's really tough to play these kinds of matches, to play fifth sets. I hope to play [in] more second weeks, to play more quarter-finals of grand slams.

"I didn't expect to play in the quarter-finals here, so I think it's a really good performance from me in these matches."

Dubbed as the heir to Rafael Nadal's thrown, Alcaraz has certainly had the crowd on his side during his run.

"In the first sets I thought that I reached my limit, physically and mentally. I think the crowd was really, really important for me in this situation," Alcaraz added.

"I felt the energy of the crowd pushing me up. I think without the crowd, it couldn't be possible to be here."

Alcaraz faces a stern test in the form of world number 15 Auger-Aliassime, who has reached his second straight grand slam quarter-final.

However, the 21-year-old Canadian – who is aiming to secure a maiden appearance in the last four of a major – knows the quality Alcaraz possesses.

"He's a great player. At some point age is just a number. He already feels like a player who's established," Auger-Aliassime said of Alcaraz.

"He's playing some amazing tennis, so I think we’ll see a lot of him, a lot of us, a lot of Frances [Tiafoe] in the future."

Barbora Krejcikova explained she was hit by breathing difficulties and a spell of severe dizziness as she overcame Garbine Muguruza at the US Open.

French Open champion Krejcikova – who is making her main-draw debut at Flushing Meadows – had to hold off a fightback from former world number one Muguruza on Sunday to progress into her first US Open quarter-final with a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory.

However, Muguruza was left angry after Krejcikova started to take more time in between points.

After saving three set points at 4-5 down in the decider, Krejcikova went off court for medical treatment, before returning to see out the match on a tie-break.

Muguruza appeared to confront Krejcikova during the post-match handshake, and the Spaniard told the media: "I'll let you guys judge what you think about this.

"I think, between players, you know a little bit how to behave in certain moments and I wasn't very happy at the end of the match."

Krejcikova, however, explained how she had suffered during the match.

"I think I started the match really well and was playing good tennis," Krejcikova said, according to the WTA. 

"The key was to start the match well. There were a lot of breaks, which was difficult, but I was happy that I won the first set 6-3. Out of nowhere I got the lead 4-0 and then things started to get complicated.

"Garbine started to raise her level and I was expecting that. At the end I was really struggling and I feel really bad right now.

"I don't really know what happened, but I couldn't breathe. I started to feel dizzy and the whole world was shaking. It never happened to me before."

Krejcikova also needed medical attention after the match and did not hold a post-match news conference.

The Czech has now won 29 of her last 32 matches and will face Aryna Sabalenka, the highest seed remaining at Flushing Meadows, in the quarter-finals. 

It's a passing league. You hear it said so often these days about how the NFL has become all about throwing the ball, rather than running it.  

Quarterbacks have dominated the MVP award in recent years, with the last player from another position to scoop the honour coming back in 2012. 

In the 2020 regular season, 18 players topped 1,000 receiving yards. That was actually a decrease from the previous campaign, when no fewer than 29 achieved the feat, but does not necessarily reflect a reverse on recent trends.  

Stefon Diggs led the way in the previous campaign with 1,535 yards. The Buffalo Bills receiver will be expected to be a key component for his team on offense again in 2021, yet no individual has topped the list for two straight years since Calvin Johnson, who managed to do so in 2011 and again in 2012.  

So who are the top contenders to lead the way this time around? Stats Perform takes a look... 

 

Stefon Diggs 

Acquired by the Bills through a trade with the Minnesota Vikings, Diggs enjoyed an outstanding first campaign in Buffalo. He not only led the way for receiving yards but also catches (127) and targets (166), aided by him playing in all 16 games in a year where COVID-19 impacted so many rosters. His 95.9 yards per game ranked second, even though he had just seven plays that went for 25 yards or more. Emmanuel Sanders has arrived during free agency to bolster the receiving group in Buffalo, yet the former Maryland Terrapin undoubtedly remains top of the depth chart and has established a rapport with starting quarterback Josh Allen.  

Calvin Ridley 

Ridley's third year as an Atlanta Falcon saw him emerge as a pass-catching superstar. The 26-year-old had 90 catches from 143 targets, resulting in 1,374 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. According to Stats Perform data, Ridley recorded a big play of 45.1 per cent of his targets, the fifth-highest rate in the NFL among wide receivers. New head coach Arthur Smith got his chance at a top job after impressing in charge of a run-heavy Tennessee Titans offense, but by no means does that mean a receiver cannot prosper in his system. The main reason for Ridley hoping to improve on his previous numbers is the departure of Julio Jones, the franchise legend who did miss games through injury in 2020 but still had 51 catches.   

Justin Jefferson 

Rookie receivers are not meant to settle into NFL life as quickly as Jefferson did with the Minnesota Vikings. The first-round pick selected with the intention of replacing the departed Diggs had 88 receptions for 1,400 yards - surpassing the single-season record by a rookie in the Super Bowl era, set by Anquan Boldin (1,377) back in 2003. That is a particularly impressive achievement when you consider he had just 70 yards combined in his first two games, yet he made up for lost time with seven 100-yard outings in the weeks that followed. Yards after the catch (YAC) will likely need to rise for him to surpass those numbers, considering he averaged 4.6 yards per reception in 2020, putting him down at 27th among receivers. 

Davante Adams 

A contract year, plus a quarterback with a point to prove (again) are potentially the added ingredients required for Adams to have a record-breaking year in what could potentially be his last for the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is still around after an offseason full of intrigue - and the reigning MVP already fed his top option relentlessly in 2020. Indeed, Adams' average of 10.6 targets and 8.2 receptions per game were the best for any receiver in the NFL, as well as leading the way with 18 touchdown catches and 98.1 yards per outing. His total yardage of 1,374 was tied for fifth, but it should be remembered he played in only 14 games. He recorded a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the pass is catchable, 70.1 per cent of the time and led all receivers with 3.9 burn yards per route. With the benefit of three more games than he had in 2020, Adams is perhaps the favourite to usurp Diggs at the top of the leaderboard.   

Tyreek Hill 

Hill averaged a healthy 14.7 yards per catch and 9.0 receptions a game as part of a high-powered Kansas City Chiefs offense. His final total of 87 catches came from 135 targets, showing how he remains a prominent option for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, helping him top 1,000 receiving yards for a third time in four years (he had 860 while playing in 12 games in 2019) and average 3.3 burn yards per route. The Chiefs are coming off a painful Super Bowl loss and may feel they have a point to prove, yet the main concern for Hill's hopes is the presence of a dominant tight end on the roster (more on him to come...). 

DeAndre Hopkins 

In his first year with the Arizona Cardinals, Hopkins set a franchise record for receptions in a season, finishing up with 115 (matching his best season with the Houston Texans, by the way) for a total of 1,407 yards. His 7.2 catches per game ranked third behind only Adams and Diggs, aided by 13 plays that went for 25 yards or more. His YAC number (510) also ranked in the top 10 for all positions, helping him secure a fifth trip to the Pro Bowl. The 29-year-old has missed just two games in his entire career and while he is set to head into his ninth season, there has been little sign of him slowing up in terms of overall output.  

DK Metcalf 

Having gradually emerged in 2019 before making having a noticeable impact in the postseason, Metcalf made a further leap in his second year with the Seattle Seahawks. His big-play ability was demonstrated by his 15.7 yards per catch – Jefferson (15.9) was the only receiver to be targeted at least 120 times and finish with a higher average. Likewise, the Vikings rookie had 16 receptions that went for 25 or more yards, one more than Metcalf managed while working with Russell Wilson. His offseason included a spell on the track, he clocked 10.36 seconds in his 100m heat at the Golden Games and Distance Open in California, but now the focus is back to football, and Metcalf will hope to use that speed to help him improve on his gaudy average of 13.31 burn yards per target from 2020 and take the Seattle offense to the next level.

Best of the rest 

Who else could emerge from the pack? Michael Thomas led the league for receiving yards in 2019 with the help of Drew Brees, only to then endure an unexpected down year last time out. His early trip to the PUP list has likely ended his hopes of regaining the crown before Week 1 has even kicked off. Terry McLaurin had similar numbers to Hill (87 receptions on 134 targets), as well as 486 yards after the catch – a number only topped by four receivers. 

Meanwhile, A. J. Brown topped 1,000 yards for a second straight season with the Titans and trailed only Adams with 3.6 burn yards per route, though he now has former Falcon Jones for company on the roster. Allen Robinson should not be dismissed after having 151 targets on a struggling Chicago Bears offense, while Justin Herbert's emergence with the Los Angeles Chargers helped Keenan Allen average 10.5 targets per outing, second most in the NFL. If a long shot is more your fancy, Diontae Johnson had 88 receptions for 923 yards, but those figures came on 144 targets and Johnson's big-play percentage was a disappointing 21.3.  

Dak Prescott's return to fitness should help the Dallas Cowboys' plethora of receiving options, including Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, while Matthew Stafford's move to Los Angeles will be expected to pad the numbers for Rams duo Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.  

The year of the tight end? 

Blocking is still part of the job but catching balls has become a key aspect of life as an NFL tight end: Travis Kelce had the second-most receiving yards (1,416) and Darren Waller (1,196) also made the top 10. Waller actually had more targets out of the pair, while his 576 yards after the catch put him second behind only running back Alvin Kamara in the entire league. George Kittle made it to four figures in 2018 and 2019, only to then see injury ruin his fourth campaign with the San Francisco 49ers, one in which he was open on 90.5 per cent of targets and led all tight ends with 3.9 burn yards per route. Expect him to try and make up for lost time. 

Then there is Kyle Pitts, the rookie selected fourth overall by the Falcons. Despite playing only eight games, he led the FBS in receiving yards (770) as he racked up 96.3 yards per game, averaging 17.9 yards per catch. If he can translate those ridiculous numbers to the pro game, Pitts will become immediately become prominent in Atlanta's offense, potentially taking away some opportunities that could go to Ridley. 

Drama has not been in short supply among the NFL quarterbacks this offseason.

There have been new names, new deals, new feuds, old feuds...

Now the 2021 season is on the horizon, but not every situation at the sport's most important position has reached a satisfactory conclusion.

There are intriguing QB scenarios to keep an eye on for plenty of teams this season, as Stats Perform explores.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Let's start with a rookie. While fellow first-round picks Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones are set for starting roles, Trey Lance has a fight on his hands with the 49ers.

Lance is raw, having played just 19 college games in the FCS, and is set to begin the season behind Jimmy Garoppolo – fit again after becoming one of a remarkable number San Francisco players to suffer with injuries last year, unable to follow up their Super Bowl run.

But Lance's dual-threat ability gives Kyle Shanahan a new dynamic, as evidenced by his 14 rushing touchdowns in 2019 with North Dakota State. Garoppolo has only two career rushing scores.

That is likely to initially put the ball in Lance's hands in the red zone, where his legs should help improve a red zone efficiency of 53.2 per cent from the 2019 season, when a fully fit Niners team ranked 21st in the NFL.

By the end of the year, though, the 21-year-old will undoubtedly be keen for a bigger role, increasing pressure on Garoppolo while the team try to maintain a title challenge.

CHICAGO BEARS

Justin Fields is the second first-round selection starting the year behind an established NFL QB in Andy Dalton.

"There's no need for us to rush Justin," said Bears general manager Ryan Pace last week, explaining they were "very confident" in Dalton. "I just think the more time [Fields] has to learn that and observe, the better off for him," Pace added.

But Fields, who threw for 63 TDs and rushed for a further 15 in two years at Ohio State, is undoubtedly a more realistic long-term solution than Dalton, on his third team in three years.

Fields, like Lance, can run, ranking fifth in the Power 5 among quarterbacks with 7.42 yards per carry last year, but the Bears also need improvement through the air, having ranked 22nd with 228.4 net passing yards per game in 2020.

While the departed Mitchell Trubisky neither threw nor ran the ball well – delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on just 71.6 per cent of passes and averaging 1.81 yards per carry – Fields (80.18 well-thrown percentage) can do both if given the opportunity.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

It is not only the teams who have spent first-round picks on passers who have a battle under center, with the Saints able to consider two options to replace the great Drew Brees.

Jameis Winston threw only 11 passes in New Orleans last season after leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the versatile Taysom Hill preferred when Brees was out injured, making four starts at QB.

But Winston has been confirmed as the starter for the new campaign – at least for now. Whether Sean Payton is willing to stick with an entertaining yet erratic QB for a full season remains to be seen.

The 27-year-old became the first player ever to throw 30 TD passes and 30 interceptions in the same NFL season as the Bucs went 7-9 in 2019.

Winston's 10.70 air yards ranked second, yet his pickable pass percentage of 7.69 was second-worst among those with 100 attempts or more.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

While some teams have multiple reliable options at QB, the Eagles scarcely have one. Having moved on from Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts is their starter.

Last time out, in his rookie year, Hurts completed just 52.0 per cent of his passes – the worst rate of any QB with 100 or more attempts – and still could not quite keep up with the league's elite running QBs, averaging 6.00 yards per carry.

Yet Philadelphia's response was to trade out of the number six pick in this year's draft and then opt against taking either Fields or Jones, who remained on the board after they moved back up to 10.

Joe Flacco, now 36, is in as the back-up, while a "fired up" Gardner Minshew has arrived from the Jacksonville Jaguars after 37 TDs in two years but is set for a role as a third-stringer.

Unless Hurts makes significant strides, it is difficult to see how the Eagles will not again be in position to take one of the top college QBs in 2022.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers was at the centre of the most compelling offseason speculation surrounding a quarterback this offseason. However, the Green Bay Packers star was not the only former champion at the centre of offseason speculation this year, with Russell Wilson's agent informing ESPN of four trade destinations that would interest the Seahawks stalwart.

Seattle kept their man in the end, but Wilson will be looking for progress from last season, when he complained of "getting hit too much" – "a pretty normal reaction," according to coach Pete Carroll.

Wilson was in the MVP conversation for the first half of the year but was soon left exposed behind a poor offensive line, sacked 47 times to swell his career total to 394 – the most of any QB since he entered the league.

Although left tackle Duane Brown has missed practice as he waits on a contract extension – another development that has frustrated Wilson – the Seahawks have at least traded for guard Gabe Jackson. That move needs to work.

Wilson last year averaged 8.70 air yards while throwing a pickable pass at the sixth-lowest ratio in the NFL (2.64%), but he has to have help if Seattle are to succeed.

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