On Sunday, four of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of this year's NFL Draft will take the field for their debuts.

A quintet of franchises capitalised on what many considered to be an historic class at the position to select the prospects they hope will prove to be the long-term future of their respective teams.

However, so much of a quarterback's success is dependent on situation and it is likely the quarterback from this crop of rookies that initially stands out will be the one with the best supporting cast around them.

The consensus is that Trey Lance, the third overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers, is in the best spot. For now, he will have to play second fiddle to Jimmy Garoppolo and settle for only sporadic action as the Niners look to make use of his running threat.

When Lance does take over full-time, he will be playing the most important position on a roster that was seven minutes from Super Bowl glory two seasons ago.

While he may have landed in the most favourable scenario, 11th overall pick Justin Fields appears to have been dealt the worst hand, with the Chicago Bears unwilling to risk putting him out there in Week 1 with a talent-poor offense against the Los Angeles Rams despite a strong preseason.

Do the numbers back up the statements that Lance is in the best situation with Fields in the worst? And where do Trevor Lawrence, first overall pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson and New England Patriots starter Mac Jones stack up in terms of supporting cast?

Stats Perform analysed its advanced metrics to find out.

RUNNING GAME

1. Patriots 2. 49ers 3. Jaguars 4. Jets 5. Bears

The running game can be an excellent safety net that takes the pressure off a quarterback's shoulders.

Rushing the ball effectively is contingent on an offensive line that can open the holes and a back that can not only take advantage of those lanes but also create for himself.

In terms of run blocking, the Patriots are the standouts among the teams to select a signal-caller. Second in Stats Perform's projected offensive line rankings, put together using combined run blocking and pass protection data over the past three seasons, only two offensive lines league begin the season better prepared to provide the foundation for a successful ground game than that of New England.

Led by center David Andrews - whose run disruption rate allowed of 5.3 per cent was the best in the NFL at his position - and right guard Shaq Mason (6.3%), the Patriots' O-Line is one that should continue to excel at creating running lanes.

Damien Harris showed his ability to take advantage of those lanes last season when he averaged 3.11 yards before contact from a defender, 10th in the NFL, while making things happen for himself with 3.15 yards per carry on attempts where there was a run disruption from a defender.

When Jones makes his first start against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, he should have full confidence in being able to lean on Harris and the line to make his life easier.

The 49ers, whose starting running back Raheem Mostert averaged 3.28 yards before contact last season, might have a strong case for having the top running game should Lance's dual-threat ability take their ground attack to the next level.

Third-round pick Trey Sermon (4.85 yards before contact, 2.77 yards after contact for Ohio State in 2020) could prove an astute selection, though an offensive line 18th in run blocking in Stats Perform's rankings will need to take a step forward.

Still, their position is significantly more favourable than that of the Bears, who rank last in run blocking, making David Montgomery's 1,000-yard 2020 season all the more surprising.

Yet Montgomery was below the league average in yards before contact (2.54 per attempt) and after contact (1.84), hardly inspiring confidence that he can lighten the load on Fields when the Bears finally commit to him as the starter.

PASS CATCHERS

1. 49ers 2. Patriots 3. Jets 4. Bears 5. Jaguars

There isn't much use investing in a potential franchise quarterback if you cannot put weapons around him upon whom he can rely.

In terms of players he can target and trust, Lance has the edge over his fellow rookies, though no team to take a quarterback in the first round landed in the top half of Stats Perform's rankings by collective open percentage.

The Niners landed 18th on that list but conventional wisdom says they will be much higher should tight end George Kittle and top wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk stay healthy.

All three endured injury-hindered 2020 seasons, though Kittle still led all tight ends in adjusted open percentage (45.03%). He was first among tight ends with 3.9 burn yards per route (a burn is a target where the receiver wins his matchup with a defender).

Samuel's burn yards per route rate of 3.0 was particularly eye-catching because his average depth of target of 2.3 was the lowest in the NFL, the former second-round pick showing his skills with ball in hand with 12.1 yards after the catch per reception, best in the NFL.

Aiyuk, meanwhile, produced a big play on 33.1 per cent of his targets, third among rookie receivers with at least 50 targets, a breakout year appears on the horizon for the second-year wideout.

With an elite tight end and two promising wideouts, the Niners' situation is substantially better than Jacksonville's. The Jaguars' pass-catchers ranked last by collective open percentage.

Late free-agent addition Tyron Johnson is the sole wide receiver on the Jaguars' roster to have posted a burn percentage above the average of 62.5 per cent last year.

Johnson did so on 69.2 per cent of his targets and was first in burn yards per target (19.89) and second in burn yards per route (3.6) with an average depth of target of 20 yards.

This evidently skilled deep separator will be tasked with stretching opposing defenses while D.J. Chark (30.33% adjusted open) and Laviska Shenault (27.44%) must do a better job of beating coverage and taking advantage of the stress Johnson can put on opponents to lift this group from the cellar and give Lawrence more to work with.

PASS BLOCKING

1. Patriots 2. Jets 3. Jaguars 4. 49ers 5. Bears

Though most accept Fields is the most exciting quarterback on the Bears' roster, Matt Nagy's decision to not start him and protect him from an offensive line that can hardly protect anyone may be an astute one with Chicago facing Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and the Rams Week 1.

Eventually, Fields will have to take his lumps. There are good defensive players across the NFL by which he will one day be confronted, but a reticence to put him out there behind a line ranked 30th in pass protection by Stats Perform is understandable.

Starting left tackle Jason Peters is 39 and allowed a pressure rate of 12.4 per cent last term, the 10th-worst in the league. The interior of the line is also a substantial concern.

Right guard James Daniels is coming off a year where he gave up a pressure on 11.3 per cent of pass protection snaps. Cody Whitehair is at left guard having played center in 2020, when only three players at his former position allowed a higher adjusted sack rate than his 1.9 per cent. One of those players was this year's starting center Sam Mustipher (2.3%).

While Fields would have the NFL equivalent of a turnstile in front of him. Jones will head on the Gillette Stadium field with an O-Line that is the definition of solidity.

Though not quite the brick wall he had the benefit of at Alabama, the Patriots' line should provide Jones with excellent protection, ranking fifth in pass blocking.

Mike Onwenu ranked as the best pass-protecting left guard in the NFL and in Trent Brown, credited with one adjusted sack allowed on 162 pass-block snaps in his final season with the Las Vegas Raiders, and Isaiah Wynn, the Patriots have a solid pair of tackles to give Jones the time to prove his pre-draft doubters wrong.

The left side of the Jets' line could rival that of the Patriots. Mekhi Becton's pressure rate allowed of 5.5 per cent was ninth among left tackles in 2020. On his inside shoulder, rookie left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker conceded only five pressures on 387 pass protection snaps the last time he played that spot for USC in 2019. Wilson can afford to have great faith in that duo.

DEFENSE

1. 49ers 2. Bears 3. Patriots 4. Jets 5. Jaguars

Defense is often neglected when it comes to talking about a quarterback's supporting cast but, if a team has one that can stifle opposing attacks, it leaves more wiggle room for a young quarterback to endure the 'rookie mistakes' and not sink his team's chances of competing.

Lance's performances during the preseason, while exciting, indicated he is a quarterback who could be a little turnover-prone as he adapts to reading defenses at the NFL level.

San Francisco's is a defense that is strong up front and better than given credit for in the secondary. The 49ers ranked eighth in pass coverage grade, which was produced by multiplying each player's coverage baseline by a projected target share for 2021 with the results then aggregated at the team level.

On the front, Stats Perform projected the average Niners defender to produce a pressure on 11.5 per cent of pass rush attempts, putting them fourth in the NFL.

Though there is great depth on the defensive line, much of that projection is built on Nick Bosa, getting back to his Defensive Rookie of the Year levels of 2019, when he had a pressure rate of 28.3 per cent, after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last year. With Bosa healthy and Fred Warner the premier all-round linebacker in the NFL, the Niners have a defense that could help them contend amid bumps in the road for Lance.

The Bears don't have many areas where they can be considered to be the best in the NFL, yet their front seven has a strong claim. The average Chicago pass rusher is projected to produce a pressure on 11.4% of pass rush attempts and the average run defender is forecast to cause a run disruption 10.2% of the time.

While Chicago's front may be well-rounded, their secondary looks extremely shaky, as illustrated by the Bears' ranking of 22nd in pass coverage grade. Jaylon Johnson enjoyed an encouraging rookie season at corner yet, with Kindle Vildor set to start across from him having only started one game in his brief career, there is clear a potential weakness for opponents to target.

The Patriots have no such problems on the back end, at least when the absent Stephon Gilmore is on the field. New England are seventh in coverage grade, and with linebacker D'Onta Hightower returning and the addition of edge rusher Matthew Judon, they will hope their front seven can dramatically outperform the projection of a pressure from a defender on just 9.51% of attempts.

New York's pass rush suffered a substantial blow when free agent signing Carl Lawson, who had a pressure rate of 22.3% that was seventh in the NFL last season, was lost for the year due to a ruptured Achilles. Without him, the average Jets defender is predicted to cause pressure 10.34% of the time, and there is an even greater onus on defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to carry his 2020 emergence into this year.

The Jets' hopes of the defense offering support to Wilson may be dashed should the front prove unable to lift a secondary bereft of talent beyond safety Marcus Maye, New York entering the season 23rd in pass coverage grade.

A lack of pass-rushing options beyond Josh Allen, who took a step back in an injury-affected 2020, contributed to the Jaguars' mediocre projected pressure rate of 10.18% and, with Jacksonville just above the Jets and Bears in 21st in coverage grade, they need cornerback Shaquill Griffin to live up to his lucrative free agency pricetag to elevate the play in the defensive backfield and ensure Lawrence is not tasked with coming through a shootout every week.

OVERALL

1. Patriots 2. 49ers 3. Jets 4. Bears 5. Jaguars

Aided by an offensive line that excels in both facets, a running back seemingly primed for a breakout year and a defense restocked with players returning from opt-outs and quality free agents, Jones will head into his NFL debut with the top supporting cast of any of the rookies.

The most important thing in Jones' favour, though, is his head coach, as he will benefit from playing for the greatest coach of all-time in Bill Belichick, whose incredible expertise on the defensive side of the ball should prove a significant help to the former Alabama star as he adapts to different looks from opponents.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan's play-calling acumen will give Lance an advantage most quarterbacks in the league do not enjoy when he hits the field, with the weapons they boast on both sides of the ball meaning he will likely take over a team headed for the playoffs when he eventually displaces Garoppolo.

Wilson has the luxury of playing for two Shanahan disciples in head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. The early signs have been promising in terms of him settling into LaFleur's offense but Saleh will need to do a particularly impressive coaching job on defense to turn them into a unit capable of making Wilson's life easier.

Fields may get help in that respect from the defensive front and will have one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL in Allen Robinson. He and Lawrence were deemed by many to be the best quarterbacks in the 2021 class, however, due to the holes on both sides of their respective rosters, it is they who have the most obstacles to immediate success in front of them.

Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader teamed up for the Milwaukee Brewers' first no-hitter since 1987 in a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians in MLB on Saturday.

The no-hitter was only the second in Brewers' franchise history, led by Burnes with 14 strikeouts across eight innings, before Hader closed it out.

It was also the ninth no-no of the 2021 majors season, topping the previous mark for most in a year in MLB history dating back to 1884.

Burnes, who took a perfect game into the seventh inning, tossed down a career-high 115 pitches before handing the reins over the Hader to finish the job.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell was full of praise for 26-year-old Burnes who looms as a top candidate for the National League (NL) Cy Young Award.

"He’s having a season that’s bigger than just Brewer records," Counsell said. "He’s having a season that’s historical in Major League Baseball."

Burnes has an MLB-best 2.25 ERA, 1.49 FIP, 35.4% strikeout rate (tied with Dodger Max Scherzer) and a NL best 4.9% walk rate.

 

Judge hits two HRs in New York

Aaron Judge homered twice to help the New York Yankees snap their seven-game skid with an 8-7 victory over the New York Mets in an emotional night in the Big Apple.

With the Yankees leading 4-0 in the second inning, Judge crushed a solo home run taking his season tally to 31 HRs.

But the Mets rallied to lead 7-5 in the eighth inning when Judge tied it up a two-run homer to left-field and his 32nd of the season.

Andrew Velazquez scored the go-ahead run before Judge made a diving catch in the ninth on a night where a stirring pre-game ceremony marked the 20-year anniversary of 9/11.

In the Wild Card race, Mookie Betts delivered a three-run homer in the Los Angeles Dodgers' hard-fought 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres.

Nolan Arenado two-run blast in the eighth inning lifted the St Louis Cardinals to a crucial 6-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

The Seattle Mariners' Wild Card hopes copped a blow in a shock 7-3 loss to the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks as Daulton Varsho turned on the power hitting.

 

A's Wild Card blow as Rangers pile on five

The Oakland Athletics are chasing a Wild Card spot and appeared destined for another win, leading 6-2 heading into the eighth inning before allowing a five-run Texas Rangers rally. The Rangers won 8-6, with DJ Peters crushing a two-run home run and Yohel Pozo hitting in an RBI double from Sergio Romo before Jonah Heim hammered Andrew Chafin for a two-run go-ahead homer.

 

Blue Jays launch all 11 runs in 7th

The Toronto Blue Jays were hitless after six innings before piling on 11 runs in the seventh inning of their 11-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles in the second game of their double-header. The in-form Jays hit four homers in the seventh, while their 11 runs and 11 hits for the inning tied two franchise records for a single inning.

 

 

Saturday's results 

San Francisco Giants 15-4 Chicago Cubs
Texas Rangers 8-6 Oakland Athletics
Toronto Blue Jays 11-10 Baltimore Orioles
Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 Colorado Rockies
Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 Cleveland Indians
Pittsburgh Pirates 10-7 Washington Nationals
Boston Red Sox 9-8 Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins 9-2 Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels 4-2 Houston Astros
St Louis Cardinals 6-4 Cincinnati Reds
Miami Marlins 6-4 Atlanta Braves
New York Yankees 8-7 New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays 11-2 Baltimore Orioles
Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3 Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 San Diego Padres

 

Padres at Dodgers

All eyes will be on the Los Angeles Dodgers' meeting with the San Diego Padres with Max Scherzer six strikeouts away from becoming only the 19th pitcher to reach 3,000 career Ks.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash is hopeful emerging star Wander Franco can recover in time for the postseason after suffering a hamstring injury in Friday's 10-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.

The 20-year-old shortstop has been a revelation in his first season in the majors, extending his on-base streak to 39 games on Friday.

But Franco was withdrawn in the first inning after experiencing right hamstring tightness running between bases which has the Rays sweating on his fitness ahead of the postseason next month.

"It's still really early," Cash told reporters on Saturday about Franco who has been placed on the 10-day injury list.

"We’ve got to wait and see the next three to four days of how he responds to treatment and how he’s feeling. But I hope that it’s before the end of the season.

"He's frustrated, disappointed, but I think also understanding of the situation and how important he is."

Franco said he felt the hamstring pull after pushing off second base, reaching third before the Rays opted to pull him out of the game.

"We're not going to let him turn whatever grade [the strain is] rated at into a higher grade, or pull the thing where he misses a substantial amount of time," Cash said.

The Rays are 89-53 and currently top in the American League East as they look to go one better than last season when they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez feels her run to the US Open final is still "magical" despite going down to British qualifier Emma Raducanu on Saturday.

World number 73 Fernandez defeated top five trio Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka along with three-time major winner Angelique Kerber on her way to Saturday's final.

But 18-year-old Raducanu proved too good in the decider, triumphing 6-4 6-3 over Fernandez, who turned 19 last Monday.

Fernandez had labeled her run to the final as "magical" after her three-set semi-final win over Sabalenka and she remained upbeat despite failing to claim victory against Raducanu.

"It's definitely magical," Fernandez told her post-match news conference.

"I'm very happy with myself, with the way I competed, and the play I played, the way I acted on court the past two weeks. I've improved a lot not only tennis-wise but emotionally and mentally."

Fernandez admitted the defeat "stings" but was bullish about bouncing back, believing she can continue to perform to such standards at other majors.

The Canadian had only won one WTA Tour title previously, triumphing at the Monterrey Open in March, while she had never before been further than a grand slam third round.

"I don't think it will change my life that much," Fernandez said. "I'm very lucky to have a great support team and a great family to keep me grounded.

"With these wins and this loss today, it definitely stings, but it will just make me want to work harder and stronger, just come back to every tournament with the same hunger that I came into this tournament."

During Fernandez's giant-slaying run she did not go into any match as favourite and insisted that did not play a part when she was considered to have an edge in the final against the lower-ranked Raducanu.

"It did never cross my mind," Fernandez said about being favourite in the final.

"I was just very excited to play a final. I unfortunately did not do well, and Emma did great. So that's what happened."

The Queen has led the messages of congratulations for British teenager Emma Raducanu following her "remarkable" history-making US Open triumph on Saturday.

The 18-year-old became the first-ever female or male qualifier to win a major tournament, triumphing 6-4 6-3 over fellow debutant finalist Leylah Fernandez at Flushing Meadows.

Raducanu did not drop a set throughout the tournament on her way to victory in only her second career grand slam after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon earlier this year.

The achievement by Raducanu, who is the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won at Wimbledon in 2004, was labeled as "remarkable" by the Queen.

"I send my congratulations to you on your success in winning the United States Open Tennis Championships," the Queen's message to Raducanu said. 

"It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication. 

"I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players.  I send my warmest good wishes to you and your many supporters."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also offered their congratulations along with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson who praised the British sensation on social media.

"You showed extraordinary skill, poise and guts and we are all hugely proud of you," Mr Johnson wrote.

There were further tributes on social media coming from musicians Liam Gallagher and the Spice Girls, as well as football identities Marcus Rashford and Gary Lineker.

Emma Raducanu believes her shock US Open triumph highlights just how strong women's tennis is after winning Saturday's final against Leylah Fernandez ​in straight sets to become the first qualifier in history to win a grand slam.

The 18-year-old, ranked 150 by the WTA before beginning her tournament in New York some three weeks ago, prevailed 6-4 6-3 against fellow debutant finalist Fernandez.

Victory in Saturday's final caps a remarkable and life-changing couple of months for Raducanu, who also reached the last 16 of Wimbledon before pulling out of the competition due to medical reasons.

Raducanu is the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004 and she feels the women's game is in strong hands.

"First of all, I really want to congratulate Leylah and her team – she played some incredible tennis and has beaten some of the top players in the world," Raducanu said in her on-court interview as she was handed the trophy by the legendary Billie Jean King.

"The level was extremely high and I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and hopefully finals.

"It shows the future of women's tennis and depth of the game is so great, every player in the draw has a shot at winning any tournament. 

"I hope the next generation can follow in the steps of some of the legends, for example Billie Jean right here."

 

Raducanu did not drop a set in her remarkable run at Flushing Meadows as she became the first British female to win a major tournament since Virginia Wade on home soil at Wimbledon 44 years ago.

Wade was in attendance for the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium – as was Tim Henman – and Raducanu will now be out to match or indeed better the success of the three-time grand slam winner.

"It means so much to have Virginia here and also Tim , British icons and for me to follow in their footsteps... it gave me the belief I could do it."

Raducanu proved too strong for world number 73 Fernandez with a perfect mix of power and precision that saw her hit 22 winners to her opponent's 18.

Only twice did Fernandez break Raducanu and the British teenager won 67 per cent of points behind her first serve.

"Leylah is always going to play great tennis and fight, that is why she is in the final, I knew I would have to dig deep," Raducanu said.

"As for this three weeks in New York, I would say having such a supportive team, the LTA my agent, and everyone back home watching on TV, thank you so much for your support over the years.

"Thank you for making me feel so at home from my first qualifying match, you have spurred me on in some difficult moments and I hope me and Leylah put on a good match today."

Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez had the biggest moments of their careers – their lives, surely – coming up in a matter of moments, but both of the teenage sensations seemed calm and collected as they fulfilled some final media duties prior to heading out onto court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"I can't wait to get stuck in," said Raducanu, the first qualifier in history to reach a grand slam final. "I think we're just going to go out there and have fun," said Fernandez, vanquisher of US Open champions past over the course of the last two weeks.

Those questions were preceded by a commemoration of an event that occurred in New York 20 years ago to the day, the players waiting in the tunnel as tributes were paid to the lives lost on September 11, 2001, when the towers fell and the world changed.

Neither Fernandez nor Raducanu were born. Indeed, the latter does not turn 19 until November, and her opponent celebrated her 19th on Monday, a day before beating Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals.

Whether down to youthful exuberance, or the fearlessness that inexperience can bring, both players – who last met in the second round of the juniors at Wimbledon in 2018 – lived up to their promises in the pre-match interviews, to the benefit of an audience that can only have been glued to whatever screen they watched on, not to mention the 23,000-strong crowd in attendance at Flushing Meadows.

It was a final that could have gone either way, yet ultimately in the moments it really mattered most, it was Raducanu who came out on top, a 6-4 6-3 victory sealing one of the most unlikely successes of all time.

The tone was set immediately in the first women's slam final between two unseeded players. Raducanu applying pressure and breaking serve to edge ahead.

But Fernandez has had to battle back against the odds throughout her incredible run, beating defending champion Naomi Osaka, former world number one Angelique Kerber and current number two Aryna Sabalenka. The scores were level two games later.

Raducanu had not dropped a set throughout her run, but at 30-0 down in the fifth game, it appeared to be swinging in Fernandez's favour. Four straight points from the Briton ensured that was not the case.

Special tennis was on show. Quality, control and poise worthy of players way beyond their years. After an hour, something had to give, and it was Raducanu who, at the fourth time of asking, broke serve to seal the set.

What did Fernandez have left? Was this the beginning of the end for the youngest player to beat more than one top-five opponent at the same slam since Serena Williams saw off Monica Seles, Lindsay Devenport and Martina Hingis in 1999?

Yet Raducanu found herself 2-1 and a break down three games into set two.

Fernandez could not capitalise and Raducanu returned from an 82 mile-an-hour serve to get back on the front foot. An exquisite forehand winner saw her break for 4-2.

Raducanu's Wimbledon came to an end in tears at the fourth-round stage. When she moved to within a game of grand slam immortality, there was hardly a flicker of emotion.

Fernandez said she was out to have fun, though, and a smile was back on her face as two championship points went begging for Raducanu, who then skidded across the baseline, cutting open her knee in the process.

A medical time out was required and Fernandez's joy turned to frustration. It might have been crucial, Raducanu saving two break points before an outstanding ace secured her place in history.

Ten matches, no sets dropped – Williams was the last player, in 2014, to win the US Open without dropping a set. Raducanu is also now the first woman to win a title so early in her slam career, in just her second major appearance. 

Nine years and one day since Andy Murray won his first major on the same court, a new British hero emerged.

Virginia Wade, the last British woman to reach the Flushing Meadows final in the Open Era and the 1968 champion, watched on as the iconic Billie Jean King handed the trophy over to a superstar in the making.

Big names were absent from Flushing Meadows this year, but Raducanu and Fernandez served up a final, and a result, for the ages.

Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier in tennis history to win a grand slam final after beating Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 in the US Open final on Saturday.

Eighteen-year-old Raducanu, who was ranked 150 by the WTA before the tournament and had only played in one other major (Wimbledon earlier this year), enjoyed a sensational run at Flushing Meadows and proved too strong for Fernandez, 19, who was also contesting her first grand slam final.

Briton Raducanu – the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004 – showed no signs of nerves in the opening set, taking a decisive advantage.

A roller-coaster second set could have gone either way, but from a break down, Raducanu hit back to serve out the victory in an epic final between two of tennis' rising stars.

Neither player looked fazed by the magnitude of the occasion during the first set, with a series of high-quality rallies and superb winners lighting up Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Raducanu started strongly and went 2-0 up after a pulsating game on Fernandez’s serve, which lasted more than 10 minutes and had seen the Canadian save five break points before eventually succumbing.

Fernandez responded well, though, breaking back immediately before restoring parity on her own serve.

The first set went with serve until Fernandez was serving to stay in it at 5-4 down.

Raducanu squandered three set points before ultimately taking her fourth with a thumping forehand down the line, securing the lead after exactly one hour.

The British player had three break points in the second game of the second set, but Fernandez rallied to hold.

That recovery galvanised Fernandez, who broke Raducanu in the next game at the third time of asking, although her opponent broke back immediately with two wonderful backhands to see out the game.

Raducanu held her serve before opening up a 4-2 lead as Fernandez wilted under a string of excellent shots.

After a dramatic medical time out at 30-40 down on her own serve for a cut below her left knee, which left Fernandez visibly frustrated, Raducanu came back out renewed and served an ace to seal arguably the most unlikely grand slam win of all time.

Lewis Hamilton has predicted an "easy win" for championship rival Max Verstappen in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix and is focused only on trying to "limit the damage" caused by his disappointing showing in the sprint race.

Mercedes driver Hamilton was made to pay for a poor launch in Saturday's half-hour 18-lap race as he slipped from second down to fifth, behind Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen and winner Valtteri Bottas.

With Verstappen starting from the back of the grid on Sunday after taking a penalty for a power unit change, each driver moves up a place, meaning Hamilton will start in fourth and Verstappen in pole position.

Victory in the sprint race – just the second to have ever been staged after the inaugural event at Silverstone in July – also meant Red Bull's Verstappen extended his championship lead over Hamilton from three points to five.

And seven-time world champion Hamilton fears that gap could grow wider come the end of the main event in Italy, with the Briton's main aim being to finish ahead of McLaren pair Ricciardo and Norris in second place.

"We lost a lot of points," he told Sky Sports. "I've got to try and figure out how I can get by the McLarens tomorrow, and try to limit the damage. 

"It's not the outcome we wanted and we can't afford days like these, especially when it is this close in the championship.

"You saw the pace of the Red Bull. I don't know if Max was quicker than Valtteri but they're so fast, and now he's on pole, so it should be an easy win for him."

 

Verstappen was considered an outsider for the sprint but comfortably finished in second, though the Dutchman is taking nothing for granted heading into Sunday's race.

"I expected we would lose points on Saturday, but I have increased the lead a little," he told De Telegraaf. "Every little bit helps, of course. But it can also quickly turn around. I know all about that.

"I don't expect it to be a straightforward and easy race – Valtteri coming from the back, Lewis P4, they have a lot of pace, so we'll see what we can do against them."

Bottas' triumph came in the same week it was confirmed he will switch from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo next year, having been dropped in favour of George Russell.

The Finn also led the way in the traditional qualifying session on Friday and his sprint race victory never looked in doubt as he retained first place throughout.

With the elation of finishing first comes some disappointment for Bottas, however, as he always knew he would be starting the main event from the back of the grid due to Mercedes' decision to add a number of new power unit elements to his car.
 
"What can I say, it's been a perfect weekend so far and now I have a grid penalty," he said. "That happens, but it's good to see we have good speed from the car here, good pace, and I'll be fighting tomorrow, going as high as I can.

"For sure it's annoying. We've done good the last two days, with good performances and then you kind of reset completely for the day after and you start from the back.

"Those are things that are out of my hands, so I won't waste too much energy or be too negative about it because there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.

"The only thing I can do is try my best and go full gas tomorrow. At least I got a few points – every point counts for me personally and for us as a team."

Francesco Bagnaia produced a "perfect lap" to seal pole position for Sunday's Aragon GP.

The Italian delivered a lap of one minute and 46.332 seconds on his second run to break the lap record at Aragon, which had stood since 2015.

Ducati team-mate Jack Miller was his nearest rival at just 0.366secs adrift, giving Ducati their first one-two in qualifying since Aragon 2018.

It marks Bagnaia's second pole of the 2021 season and the 50th for Ducati in MotoGP.

"I think it was a perfect lap," said Bagnaia. "It was great. I did a nice sector one, the sector two was incredible too and our bike in sector four helped us a lot.

"Also, entry to the last corner was incredible. I looked at the data of Jorge Martin this morning, who was doing a different line compared to me, and then I tried to do the same and I improved a lot. I didn't expect to do a lap like that."

Bagnaia has never won a MotoGP race and he is keen to avoid complacency ahead of Sunday's race at MotorLand.

"I'll just try to set my pace and be fast," he added. "It will be important what happens with the tyres after 15 or 16 laps and in the last part of the race I feel strong, we will see if I am strong enough to win.

"The important thing will be to stay with the best from start to finish.

"It’s difficult to say that I'm ready to win or that I can win, but all the things are there."

Fabio Quartararo completed the front row, extending his run of consecutive top-three qualifying results to 11 this season.

The French rider, however, does not believe he has the pace to keep up with the Ducati pair.

"I want to have fun. Of course, it would be great to fight for the podium," he said.

"But to be honest, I don't feel I have the pace, so I will try to manage the best result as possible and I will try to stay with the front guys and fight until the end.

"But right now, at least we need to make a step in the warm-up to be able to fight for the podium tomorrow.

"So, let's hope for an improvement on the warm-up."

Provisional classification

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:46.322
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.366
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.397
4. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.414
5. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.556
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.561
7. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +0.840
8. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.872
9. Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) +0.956
10. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.966
11. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) +1.044
12. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +1.610

British tennis was on a super Saturday high at the US Open as Emma Raducanu took centre stage – after Joe Salisbury, Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett celebrated title success.

Salisbury completed a remarkable doubles double, adding the mixed title to the men's crown he secured on Friday, and Reid and Hewett teamed up to clinch a calendar Grand Slam in wheelchair men's doubles.

After Salisbury and American partner Rajeev Ram won the men's doubles title by beating Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, Salisbury returned on Saturday to land another title, the fourth major of his career.

Salisbury teamed up with another American partner, Desirae Krawczyk, to see off Mexican Giuliana Olmos and Salvadorean Marcelo Arevalo 7-5 6-2 on Arthur Ashe Stadium, in the match directly before the women's final.

Raducanu, the world number 150, was going for glory in the women's singles final against another unlikely finalist in Canada's Leylah Fernandez.

If she was seeking inspiration from fellow Britons, it was in plentiful supply, with wheelchair maestros Reid and Hewett scoring a 6-2 6-1 doubles victory over Japan's Shingo Kunieda and Argentina's Gustavo Fernandez.

That meant they sealed a clean sweep of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2021, becoming the first men's wheelchair duo in history to perform that feat.

France's Stephane Houdet previously won a calendar Grand Slam in the event, but he played with two different partners during the 2014 campaign, landing three titles with Kunieda and one with Joachim Gerard.

Francesco Laporta heads into the final round at the BMW PGA Championship with a one-shot advantage after a solid effort on Saturday.

The Italian may not have carded one of the day's most impressive scores, with three players managing to go round in 66, but his three-under 69 was enough to put him top after starting the day third.

Laporta carded an eagle on the five-par fourth as the world number 264 made the turn in 34, before producing a composed back nine to climb to the summit.

A couple of birdies and seven pars put him a shot ahead of Canter and helped capitalise on the struggles of overnight leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

His scores of 64 and 68 were followed up by an untidy 74 on Saturday, seeing the Thai drop to 10 under for the tournament, four adrift of Laporta.

The leader was understandably delighted with his day's work, though he accepts he may have to be better with the putter if he is to bring the trophy home.

"It was a great day for me, I hit the ball pretty solid. I missed some putts on last four holes, but I'm pretty happy with my game," he said. "The best thing I did today was to focus shot by shot.

"I just have to try do better tomorrow [with the putting]. I was feeling okay, not so under pressure, but tomorrow will be different."

Laurie Canter held a share of the lead with Laporta at the eighth after sinking a brilliant 20-foot putt for a birdie and then drew level again at the 12th, but ultimately ended the day a shot behind in second.

Four players are a further shot back and then another three head into the final day on 11 under for the tournament.

Two of them are Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger – the latter just needs to finish in the top 50 to secure a spot in the Europe's Ryder Cup team, while the former is just behind Lee Westwood for the final automatic berth in Padraig Harrington's team.

Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Odell Beckham Jr, Nick Chubb. Sunday's enticing playoff rematch between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium is one swimming with star names.

Yet the X-factor of a matchup that could prove pivotal in the AFC postseason race may be a right tackle who has not played an NFL regular-season game.

Chiefs offensive lineman Lucas Niang opted out of the 2020 season but now has been entrusted with helping protect Patrick Mahomes.

In fairness to Niang, he is not alone in being an inexperienced player on a Kansas City O-Line remodelled after the Chiefs gave up 33 pressures in their Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Chiefs are set to start two rookies on the interior of the line in center Creed Humphrey, a second-round pick, and sixth-round selection Trey Smith.

But Niang, who is for all intents and purposes a rookie after his decision not to play last year, is the player with the most difficult task.

On the right side of the line, he will be tasked with shutting down the Cleveland Browns' left defensive end, Myles Garrett.

Sixth in sacks since entering the league as the consensus best player in the 2017 draft with 42.5 in 51 games, Garrett has established himself as one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL.

His pressure rate last year was 21.5 per cent, a drop-off from a 2019 season when he posted a 26.7% pressure rate that was eighth among edge rushers with at least 200 snaps at that position in a Defensive Player of the Year calibre campaign ended by suspension.

In other words, Niang will be facing an elite pass rusher who, unlike last season, has had the benefit of a full offseason.

There is only a limited sample size to judge Niang's ability to keep Garrett in check, though the numbers from his last college season at TCU in 2019 are encouraging.

He allowed nine pressures on 126 pass protection snaps and was not credited with giving up a single adjusted sack.

With the size and arm length to lock on to pass rushers, theoretically Niang has the tools he needs to nullify defenders as he did in college.

Yet, Garrett represents a massive step up from what Niang faced at TCU. As such, expect him to receive plenty of assistance against Garrett from tight end Kelce and from running backs when they are drafted in to help in protection.

Garrett had seven pressures, his fifth-most in any 2020 game, and a sack in the Browns' 22-17 playoff loss to the Chiefs. However, he is a player who can decimate bad offensive lines, as evidenced by his 15 pressures against the Cincinnati Bengals last year.

The challenge for Niang is to prevent him from having such a telling impact. His success in doing so will have a significant influence on the Chiefs' ability to maintain superiority over one of their key AFC rivals.

Lewis Hamilton will start the Italian Grand Prix in fourth after being made to pay for a slow start to Saturday's sprint race at Monza, which saw Valtteri Bottas come out on top.

Mercedes driver Hamilton started in second but dropped to fifth early on and only managed to recover one place in the half-hour 18-lap race.

Bottas took control of the sprint – just the second ever after the inaugural event at Silverstone in July – and finished in front of Max Verstappen to take three points.

However, the Finn will start from the back of the grid on Sunday after taking a penalty for a power unit change, meaning that Verstappen moves into pole position.

With his second-placed finish, Verstappen also extends his World Championship lead over Hamilton by two points, while Daniel Ricciardo completed the top three.

"I feel good. It feels like it has been a while to finish first in a race," Bottas told Sky Sports.

"Unfortunately I'm starting from the back tomorrow but the speed is there, so I'll be fighting and coming as high as I can. Today, I enjoy and it was a clean race. We had a good pace. All good.

"Tomorrow is not going to be easy, that's for sure. The train of cars with DRS, it's not easy but obviously strategy-wise, still a free choice of tyres for the start, so let's see if we can do something."

The race got off to a frantic start as Pierre Gasly, who triumphed on this circuit last year, crashed out on Turn 1 after clipping Ricciardo  and losing control of his AlphaTauri.

The safety car was deployed for the next three laps and McLaren pair Ricciardo and Lando Norris were able to successfully stay in front of Hamilton.

Hamilton did not have a chance to attack Norris, though he did at least stay clear of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, the Ferrari duo finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

Rafael Nadal posed with crutches and an apparently bandaged foot as the injured former US Open champion revealed on Saturday he has undergone treatment in Barcelona.

The 20-time grand slam winner announced in August that his season was over, as he battles a problem that has troubled him since 2005 and has recently hindered his tournament preparation.

Nadal felt he was unable to do himself justice, and since a French Open semi-final defeat to Novak Djokovic in June, he has played just two more matches, reaching the last 16 at the Citi Open in Washington.

He wrote on Instagram on Saturday: "Hello everyone, I have not communicated with you through the networks for some time.

"I can tell you that I was in Barcelona with my team and the medical team, to receive a treatment on my foot that will mean I take a few days of rest and a few weeks off court.

"I am back home and in the process of recovery. Thank you all for your support!"

The social media post shows Mallorca native Nadal giving a thumbs-up gesture to the camera, but it also gives an indication of the extent of his problem.

He stands with only his right foot on the ground, the left raised off the floor in what looks like an effort to protect it, as he props himself up with a pair of crutches in his left hand.

Nadal has won the US Open four times, most recently in 2019, but has been one of a number of star-name absentees from this year's tournament in New York.

The 35-year-old has 13 French Open wins among his haul of majors, and stands level on 20 grand slams with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic has an opportunity to go top of the all-time men's list on Sunday when he faces Daniil Medvedev in the men's final at Flushing Meadows.

As Nadal suffers, so does his great rival Federer. A Nadal return to action in 2022 appears a more likely prospect than another Federer comeback.

Federer has cast some doubt on whether he will play again, as the 40-year-old battles knee trouble. The Swiss said last month he would be "on crutches for many weeks" after surgery, declaring he wanted to give himself "a glimmer of hope" of featuring again on tour.

Novak Djokovic is well aware of the history he is poised to make in Sunday's US Open final, and he is not shying away from it. 

After his 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 defeat of Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals Friday, a win in the final against Daniil Medvedev would make Djokovic the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same year.

It would also give him a record 21st grand slam title, breaking the mark he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. 

Two astonishing achievements, neither of which is complete just yet, as Djokovic reminded observers by invoking a famous Kobe Bryant line. 

"Job is not done," Djokovic said. "Excitement is there. Motivation is there, without a doubt. Probably more than ever. But I have one more to go."

Djokovic did cross one statistical milestone off the list with Friday's win. He has now reached his 31st grand slam final, equalling Roger Federer's record. 

Since falling to Kei Nishikori in the last four at the 2014 US Open, Djokovic is 17-1 in grand slam semis. 

Zverev lauded Djokovic for his mental toughness as the world number one improved to 36-10 in five-set matches, but the top seed said he still has to fight himself to stay in control in high-pressure situations. 

"It's kind of a hurricane, a tornado, of emotions that you're going through in a sequence of one set or even one point," Djokovic said. "You are by yourself on the court, so there is no escape.

"You've got to find a way. And I think, over the years, I have managed to develop a formula that works for me. ...

"Tennis is a very beautiful sport but a very demanding sport and you've got to have mind and body balanced at all times if you want to compete at the highest level for the biggest trophies."

Few can match him on that stage and he will attempt to reach even greater heights with a win Sunday. 

His opponent, the second-seeded Medvedev, has dropped only one set on the way to the final. 

Djokovic beat him in straight sets in January to win the Australian Open and deny the 25-year-old Russian his first grand slam title. 

History will be on the line Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Djokovic is embracing it. 

"There's only one match left. ... Let's do it,'' he said. "I'm going to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head into that one. I'm going to treat the next match like it is the last match of my career.''

The New York Mets opened the Subway Series with a 10-3 defeat of the Yankees at Citi Field on Friday. 

Though an Aaron Judge RBI groundout in the first inning gave the visitors their first lead of any kind since Sunday, the Yankees soon fell apart on the way their their seventh loss in a row and 11th in their last 13 games. 

Tylor Megill was dominant for the Mets, allowing four hits and two runs in seven innings while striking out 10.

His opposite number, Jordan Montgomery, had a miserable outing, walking in the tying run in the third inning on the way to allowing seven hits and as many runs (five earned) in 3.1 innings of work. 

Francisco Lindor homered for the Mets, while Javier Baez had three hits and drove in two. 

 

Urias, Dodgers shut out Padres

Julio Urias allowed three hits and walked one in seven innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers blanked the San Diego Padres 3-0. Max Muncy's two-run homer off Joe Musgrove in the third inning provided all the offence Urias needed as the pitcher improved to 17-3. 

The Dodgers could not gain any ground on San Francisco, though, as the Giants defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-1 for their fifth win in a row. After Kyle Hendricks held the Giants to one run through six innings, Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt each smashed two-run homers off the Chicago bullpen in the seventh to put the game away. 

The Atlanta Braves extended their division lead over the Philadelphia Phillies to 4.5 games with a 6-2 victory over the Miami Marlins as Ian Anderson allowed only a two-run first-inning homer to Jesus Sanchez. Anderson and four Braves relievers combined to strike out 17 batters. 

Jose Abreu hit a three-run homer for the Chicago White Sox as Carlos Rodon and six relievers held the Boston Red Sox in check on the way to a 4-3 victory. 

Lorenzo Cain's grand slam capped a six-run fifth inning as the Milwaukee Brewers rolled past the Cleveland Indians 10-3. The win moved the Brewers to a franchise-record 32 games over .500 at 87-55. 

 

Strong start, ugly finish for Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani the hitter did his job Friday, smashing his MLB-leading 44th home run in the first inning. Shohei Ohtani the pitcher had a tougher night, allowing nine hits and six runs in 3.1 innings in his second-worst start of the season as the Los Angeles Angels fell to the Houston Astros 10-5. According to Stats Perform, he is the first player in the modern era to hit a homer in the first inning and be the losing pitcher in the same game. 

 

Schoop, Tigers blast past Rays

The Detroit Tigers trailed the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 heading to the bottom of the seventh before Jonathan Schoop put the home team on top with a grand slam. Victor Reyes would follow with a three-run homer in the eighth to put the game out of reach as the Tigers won 10-4. 

Friday's results 

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

 

Yankees at Mets

Expect an emotional scene at Citi Field as the Mets (71-71) host the Yankees (78-63) on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. 

To hear Alexander Zverev tell it, he would have needed to be perfect to beat Novak Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals. 

In the end, a wobbly beginning to the fifth set proved the German's undoing in a 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 defeat Friday simply because Djokovic was at his best when it mattered most. 

Combine that enduring quality with the Serbian's incredible statistical record, said Zverev, and you have the greatest player of all time.

Djokovic will have a chance to solidify that case Sunday when he faces Daniil Medvedev for the title. 

A victory would make the 34-year-old the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same year and give him a record 21st grand slam title, breaking the mark he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. 

"I think it's great for the sport," Zverev said after his loss. "Nobody thought anybody will do it again, what Rod Laver did. To see ]Djokovic] have the chance on Sunday, I do believe that he will do it is great. He's breaking every single record that there is.

"If you look at the stats, if you look the pure game of tennis action, he's the greatest of all time.

"Nobody is there with him, because most weeks world number one, most Masters 1000s titles, most likely going to be the most grand slams at the end of the day.

"And he has the chance of winning all four in the same year. How do you compete with that?"

Zverev certainly tried Friday, becoming the first player to push Djokovic to a fifth set since Stefanos Tsitsipas in the French Open final. 

"I fought back," he said. "I left it all out there. ... I mean, the match could have gone both ways, but it went his way. Very often it does."

On this night, Zverev said, it was largely Djokovic's serve on big points that boosted the top seed. 

Whatever shots happened to be working better than others for Djokovic, though, one factor stood above the rest, as it usually does for him at grand slams. 

"I think mentally he's the best player to ever play the game," Zverev said. "Mentally, in the most important moments, I would rather play against anybody else but him."

Novak Djokovic is one win away from becoming the first man to complete a Grand Slam in 52 years. 

The world number one fought back to defeat Alexander Zverev 4-6 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-2 Friday in the US Open semi-finals to put himself on the brink of history. 

Djokovic will face second seed Daniil Medvedev in Sunday's final as he attempts to win a record 21st grand slam title and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in a calendar year. 

Laver was in attendance at Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch the top seed exert his will as he has done in so many five-setters over the years, breaking down the younger player over the course of the match to emerge with yet another triumph. 

Zverev had ended Djokovic's chances of a Golden Slam with a semi-final win at the Tokyo Olympics, rallying for a three-set win after dropping the opening set, but the script was different Friday. 

It started with Djokovic losing the opening set for the fourth successive match in New York. In the previous three rounds, he did not drop more than three games in any subsequent set, but Zverev made him work harder this time. 

With the first set even at 4-4, Djokovic fell behind 15-40 and double faulted on break point to give Zverev the opening he needed. Though his next service game was a bit shaky, Zverev managed to take the set when Djokovic mis-hit a forehand.

The German's momentum did not last, though, as he returned the favour by double faulting on break point in his first service game of the second set and watched Djokovic level the match with relative ease. 

Zverev had a chance to take control early in the third, earning two break points at 2-2, but he failed to convert and did not get another chance. When Djokovic had a similar opportunity up 5-4, though, he closed it out.

Down 0-40 in that game, Zverev saved two break points – the latter via an epic 53-shot rally that was the longest at this year's US Open – but Djokovic slammed home an overhead winner on the next point to take the set. 

Zverev shook off that disappointment and put the pressure back on Djokovic by hammering a forehand winner down the line to break the top seed and take a 2-1 lead in the fourth.

The German did not falter the rest of the set, eventually serving it out to force a decider and push Djokovic to a fifth set for the first time since the French Open final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

Djokovic jumped to an early lead in the fifth, forcing Zverev to the net on break point in the second game with a beautiful drop shot before finishing the younger player off with a cross-court winner. 

Djokovic reeled off four consecutive points to break Zverev in his next service game, then held at love to put the fourth seed on the brink at 5-0. 

Zverev, a winner in seven of his previous eight five-setters, did not surrender, breaking Djokovic thanks to a double fault on game point to pull within 5-2. 

But Djokovic ended it there, breaking back to close out the match in the next game as Zverev sent a forehand into the net from the baseline.

DATA SLAM

With the victory, Djokovic improved to 34-2 in night matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium and 36-10 in five-set matches in his career, winning his last seven in a row. 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 41/49
Zverev – 49/50

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 12/2
Zverev – 16/8

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 5/8
Zverev – 3/12

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