Ons Jabeur held off qualifier Alycia Parks to reach the quarter-finals of the Berlin Open, saving set point before winning a competitive second-set tie-break to set up a last-eight clash with Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Jabeur took one hour and 31 minutes to overcome her stubborn opponent in the German capital, with the world number four triumphing 6-2 7-6 (10-8) to reach her eighth quarter-final of 2022 – each of which have been at WTA 500 level or higher.

The Tunisian will face Sasnovich for a semi-final spot next time out, with the Belarusian having won 26 matches so far this year (including qualifying draws). Only Iga Swiatek (42) and Beatriz Haddad Maia (29) have more victories so far this season on the WTA Tour.

The other seeds in action in Berlin on Thursday also progressed, with Coco Gauff overcoming Wang Xinyu 6-0 6-4 to tee up a clash with Karolina Pliskova, and Belinda Bencic downing Anna Kalinskaya 6-4 1-6 6-1.

Defending champion Ludmilla Samsonova, however, suffered a 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 defeat to Veronika Kudermetova.

Meanwhile, the Birmingham Classic's top seed Jelena Ostapenko fell to a surprise 3-6 7-5 7-5 last-16 reverse against Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska, who reached her first ever grass-court quarter-final on the WTA tour.

The world number 79 will face Zhang Shuai for a spot in the final four after she fought her way to a 6-2 2-6 7-5 win over Elena-Gabriela Ruse.

Third seed Camila Giorgi will join them in the last eight after recovering from losing her first set against American Lauren Davis to secure a 3-6 7-5 6-2 win.

Minkah Fitzpatrick says he feels "no pressure" of becoming the highest-paid safety in NFL history.

The Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday announced that the 25-year-old has agreed to a four-year contract worth in excess of $73.6million, with $36m guaranteed.

Fitzpatrick is confident he is worth his huge salary and will repay the Steelers with his performances.

He said: "I think I'm one of the best at what I do. So obviously, you would like to be paid in that way and represented in that way.

"In a week from now or a year from now, somebody's obviously gonna pass it up, but you always want to raise the bar for the guys behind you, want to raise the bar for the people in our locker room.

"I think Mr. Rooney and [general manager] Omar [Khan], they see the work that I put in, and obviously my play on the field reflects that. They're willing to make me that, and I'm appreciative."

He added: "Because I've done it, there's no pressure. That's the standard that I hold myself to day in and day out."

Fitzpatrick felt it was important to get his future resolved before training camp starts next month.

He said: "It was important. I wanted to be out there with my team-mates, practicing and competing.

"The thing I appreciate the most about this organisation is its commitment to winning. The season I came here, they lost their Hall of Fame QB. They could've tanked. But they went out, got me, and added some other guys. It was a season about winning."

A first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2018, Fitzpatrick was traded to the Steelers a year later, having expressed dissatisfaction with his role on the Dolphins' defense.

He was named a first-team All-Pro in 2019 and again two years ago and has 11 interceptions since the start of the 2019 campaign.

Only three safeties, Justin Simmons (14), Quandre Diggs (13) and Tyrann Mathieu (13) have registered more interceptions in that time.

He has also racked up 27 pass breakups, tied for seventh-most in the NFL, during that period.

Rafael Nadal was stepping up preparation for Wimbledon by training on Mallorca's best grass courts on Thursday, an apparently positive sign that he intends to play in London.

The Australian Open and French Open champion said after his Roland Garros triumph at the start of June that he would only appear at Wimbledon if he could compete without needing anaesthetic injections in a troublesome foot.

The 36-year-old said he was given a couple of injections before every match and announced he would undergo radio frequency injections in a bid to feature at the third grand slam of the year.

Nadal is halfway towards a potential sweep of the four majors, defying the foot trouble by producing results that few saw coming. Rod Laver in 1969 was the last man to win all four singles majors in a calendar year.

Spaniard Nadal was pictured by organisers of the Mallorca Championships on Thursday, during a practice session on one of the tournament's plush courts.

Nadal, who hails from the island, is reluctant to undergo major surgery to prolong his career.

Wimbledon starts on June 27, and it is a tournament that Nadal has won twice, in 2008 and 2010.

He leads the all-time list of men's grand slam singles title winners, with 22 to his name now, two more than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have managed.

That is still one fewer than Serena Williams has managed during her stellar career, and the 40-year-old American rolled in to London on Thursday for another tilt at Wimbledon.

Due to injury, Williams has not competed on the WTA Tour since last year's championships at the All England Club.

She has received a wildcard into Wimbledon, where she has been a champion seven times, most recently in 2016.

Williams posted a video on Instagram of her arriving in London with daughter Olympia.

She intends to compete in doubles at Eastbourne, partnering Ons Jabeur, in the week leading up to Wimbledon.

Serena Williams' return to Wimbledon represents a "great example" to other players, according to Nick Kyrgios, who said tennis fans should not take her or other fellow greats Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, for granted.

Comparing the quartet to four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, Kyrgios says sports fans should enjoy the legends' "amazing" exploits while they still can.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Williams – who has not played competitively since losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon last year – has been handed a singles wildcard to compete at the year's tournament, which begins later this month. 

Williams, now aged 40 and ranked 1,208th in the world, has won seven singles titles at Wimbledon, the last of which came in 2016, and 23 grand slams in total.

Mercedes pushed Lewis Hamilton too far during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the team's head of strategy James Vowles has admitted.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton finished fourth in Baku, with team-mate George Russell claiming third, but called the race the "most painful" of his career after suffering severe back pain throughout.

Hamilton's discomfort, which saw him struggle to exit his car after finishing, was caused by the team's W13 car porpoising – bouncing unevenly – and led team principal Toto Wolff to initially suggest the 37-year-old could miss the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix. 

While Hamilton has since quelled those fears by saying he "wouldn't miss it for the world", Vowles said the team had pushed him too far in the last race and could not afford to do so again.

"[Lewis] is an elite athlete that will push the bounds of endurance of himself and the car", he told Mercedes' YouTube channel. "That's what Formula One drivers do, that's what makes them exceptional.

"On this occasion, though, we pushed the package and our drivers too far, we are putting them into significant discomfort and we simply can't do that again. 

"Our drivers are not the only ones suffering, you will see in the media a number of comments from a number of drivers who are equally in discomfort and pain. And we have a responsibility now to make sure that this doesn't carry on."

Having won each of the last eight F1 constructors' championships, Mercedes sit third in the current standings, trailing leaders Red Bull by 118 points eight races into the 2022 campaign.

While Vowles acknowledged Red Bull and Ferrari remain the "benchmark", he believes Mercedes could narrow the gap to the leaders in Montreal.

"We didn't expect perhaps to drop back as much as we did in Baku, but that provided a platform to learn from," he added. 

"Montreal isn't going to be substantially different to the last two races, I think we will still have a package that isn't at the front on merit. Red Bull and Ferrari will still be the benchmark that we have to compare ourselves to.

"I think though that the large gap that you saw in qualifying in Baku perhaps won't be that big in Montreal – it will be back down from where it was and as we go through all the races from then onwards, I am fairly sure we will find small steps and developments that push us back towards the front."

Toto Wolff has dismissed a suggestion Lewis Hamilton is in decline and says the seven-time Formula One champion has proved he is a "genius" this season.

Hamilton dramatically missed out on a record eighth F1 title last year when he was dethroned by Max Verstappen in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

The Briton is languishing in sixth place in the driver standings eight races into the 2022 season, with his team-mate George Russell fourth.

Mercedes sit third in the constructor standings, 108 points adrift of leaders Red Bull, and Hamilton suffered back pain due to his rattling car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last weekend.

Wolff, Mercedes' team principal, does not believe Hamilton's high standards have slipped this year.

"No, I don't think it’s like that, he is the best that has ever been," he said when asked if Hamilton is in decline.

"Between Abu Dhabi in 2021, dominating the last third of the season, to four months later, you are not losing your ability."

He added: "How they appear to me, both of them [Russell and Hamilton], it’s very professional.

"They have been given a car that is a bit sub-par, each of them tries to develop the car further, they have both gone [in] a different set-up direction, Lewis [during qualifying in Azerbaijan] again very experimental, but can be available in the long term.

"I think as long as the car is not good enough to really be racing at the front, the differences are small and I don't think you can have a pattern saying 'George is continuously outperforming Lewis' or the other way around."

Wolff pinpointed Hamilton's recovery from making contact with Kevin Magnussen on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix to finish fifth as an example of Hamilton's brilliance.

"He went as far as to say that in Barcelona, where Hamilton recovered from early contact with Kevin Magnussen to finish P5, the genius," he said.

"We have seen Lewis in Barcelona, he was the genius that we know, so I think what I enjoy is them working together and trying to bring the car back to the front."

Colorado Avalanche star Cale Makar reflected on a thrilling Game 1 win of the Stanley Cup Final in front of his home fans, but said he is wary of the adjustments coming from the reigning back-to-back champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In a see-sawing contest, the Avalanche jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period, before two Lightning goals in under a minute levelled it at 3-3 halfway through the second period.

The third frame was a hard-fought, scoreless battle, setting up a next-goal-wins finish less than 90 seconds into overtime by Andre Burakovsky.

Makar, who has 22 points in 15 playoff games as a defenseman and spent a game-high 28 minutes on the ice in Wednesday's series opener, told ESPN that the atmosphere in the building was like nothing he had experienced.

"It's incredible," he said. "Obviously the fans tonight were insane – I didn't think they could up the level from the past few rounds, but they were able to do that. 

"It was definitely electric in that building, and it's incredible playing with a great group of guys in the Final like this."

While he was thrilled with the result, his attention quickly turned to the championship pedigree of the Lightning, and why the Avalanche need to be near-perfect to deny them a three-peat.

"Obviously great teams like them are going to find ways to exploit us defensively," he said.

"You look at their one goal where [Nikita] Kucherov goes around [Devon] Toews, and feeds [Ondrej] Palat backdoor.

"I mean I knew he was going backdoor the whole time, I just wasn't there, so overall it's about staying more mentally prepared and giving them a few less chances than they had."

He added: "They're a great team, they're going to come out with a different game plan, which I'm sure will be beneficial for them.

"We just have to be prepared for that, and obviously we're going to come up with a game plan with what they came at us with tonight. You have to adjust, and that's just the way the playoffs go. 

"In order to beat great teams you have to do it, and [Tampa Bay have] been successful in that in years prior, so hopefully we can limit those improvements they make game-to-game."

The Avalanche are now 13-2 this postseason – winners of six games in a row – and have comfortably been the most potent offensive side in their run to the Final. 

Averaging 4.6 goals per game, Colorado are well clear of the Pittsburgh Penguins (4.14) and the Edmonton Oilers (4.06), with another big gap to the fourth-placed Toronto Maple Leafs (3.43). The Lightning are eighth this postseason at 3.06.

Tampa Bay have instead been getting it done defensively, conceding just 2.5 goals per game, trailing only the Dallas Stars (2.14) who were eliminated in the first round. Crucially, the Avalanche have also excelled in their defensive end, conceding 2.87 per game.

When asked if the red-hot Avalanche have started to think about lifting the Stanley Cup, Makar said it is far too early for that.

"Not yet – I feel like, overall, this team has been so great at staying in the moment, especially success-wise, not looking too far ahead," he said.

"I feel if we start looking too far ahead then this is a team that's going to exploit those little mental lapses, like they did tonight.

"For us it's just staying mentally locked in on each game, and not focusing on the future, just focusing on what we can control in the present."

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka trusts in Jayson Tatum to stay aggressive while facilitating the team, heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

The Warriors have largely been able to restrict Tatum's scoring output on the way to taking a 3-2 series lead, with the Celtics now needing a win on home court on Thursday to save their season.

Tatum has averaged 23.2 points per game on 37.3 per cent shooting from the floor in this series, compared to the 27.8 points on 44.1 per cent in the preceding three series, despite an improvement to 47.5 per cent from beyond the arc against the Warriors.

More pertinently, however, his ability to feed teammates has diminished after setting a new career-high with 13 assists in Game 1.

Speaking to the media ahead of Game 6, Udoka believes the Eastern Conference Finals MVP and three-time All-Star can find the necessary balance to keep the series alive.

"From a scoring standpoint at times this whole series, not only in the fourth quarter, he's missed some things that he usually makes," Udoka said. "But we do want him to be aggressive and find that balance, as he's done all year.

"With Golden State specifically, they are trying to take him out of actions at certain times in the game, but it's on him to read that in positions where, understanding he's going to be doubled and be the bait at times and get everybody else involved.

"We have to make them pay as far as that. So, I wouldn't say his fourth is not as good or as bad as some of the other quarters. We want him to be aggressive and make the right read, which he's done all year."

On the other end, Boston's defensive approach on Stephen Curry changed in Game 5, but it freed up space for Klay Thompson.

The Celtics were much more aggressive guarding Curry coming out of the pick-and-roll in Game 5, but averaging 17.3 points on 35.8 per cent shooting in the opening four games, Thompson scored 21 points on an even 50 per cent. Thompson also shot five-of-11 from three, making up for Curry and Andrew Wiggins combining to shoot zero-of-15 from distance.

For Udoka, that is also a matter of balance.

"We don't feel we're as good as we had been in the first few games in other areas," he said. "Obviously, Curry got a ton of the credit for the shots he was making early, but our physicality and some of our adjustments we made on him were better.

"But we don't want to lose sight of everything else we've done well which is off-ball actions, whether he slips to the basket or Thompson, you saw our first two or three possessions, we had slips for layups to the basket.

"It was something we had taken care of well throughout the series as well as getting to Thompson. I think we lost the rope a little bit there."

Andre Burakovsky called it a dream come true to score the overtime match-winner in the Colorado Avalanche's 4-3 home victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

It was a terrific start for the Avalanche, going up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes through goals to Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin.

Nicholas Paul pegged one back for the Lightning, but Artturi Lehkonen struck on the power play to close the first period, giving Colorado a 3-1 lead heading into the first break.

After a relatively even start to the second, the Lightning turned the game on its head with two goals in under a minute, courtesy of Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev.

It set up a tense third period, with neither team able to find a winner before the end of regulation, but Burakovsky was not willing to stick around all night, netting the golden-goal winner just 83 seconds into overtime to send the home fans into raptures.

Speaking to ESPN immediately after the win, Burakovsky said it was a special moment, and even more so to do it in front of the screaming Colorado faithful.

"It feels amazing," he said. "I think we really battled through this whole game.

"We had a bit of a mental breakdown in the second period, but I think we bounced back in the third – an awesome job by the boys.

"I don't think we were hard enough at pucks, we were not winning races in the second period, giving them too much room. In the third, we bounced back and really fought through it, doing all the right things.

"[Before overtime] we just said keep going like we played in the third, send pucks to the net and take the rebounds. We feel confident about our game, and I think that's exactly what we did.

"These fans are amazing – they've been amazing the entire year for us – this is great, this is a dream since I was a kid."

While Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was happy with the win, he stressed he expects a strong response from the Lightning.

"We're playing a really good team, and they’re not going to roll over and lay back," he said. "They're going to have to push back."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper – who led them to back-to-back Stanley Cups from the past two seasons – said he knows what it takes to get the job done, and his side did not bring it in Game 1.

"There’s some positive signs for us in this game – but the right team won the game, so give them credit for pulling it out," he said.

"I don't think by a country mile we gave them our best game. To beat a team like that, we need to have better in us."

In a battle between two of the best teams and best pitchers in the majors, Nestor Cortes' New York Yankees prevailed 4-3 at home against Shane McClanahan's Tampa Bay Rays.

McClanahan is the current favourite to win the AL Cy Young Award while Cortes is close behind, and they both put on spectacular performances in Wednesday's top fixture.

It was a rocky start for McClanahan, who was punished in the very first inning by American League MVP favourite Aaron Judge, connecting on his league-leading 25th home run of the season to make it 1-0. Nobody else has hit more than 18 home runs.

That was the only earned run McClanahan would give up, although a fielding error in the fifth inning and an intentional walk set up a three-run Kyle Higashioka blast to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.

McClanahan finished with seven strikeouts in six complete innings, allowing three hits and two walks.

Cortes held the Rays scoreless through five innings, eventually getting pulled in the sixth after the visitors finally got their first run on the board via a Manuel Margot RBI double.

Choi Ji-man's RBI base hit in the eighth inning cut the margin to 4-2, and Rene Pinto followed suit as the very next batter to make it 4-3. Clay Holmes was able to hold his nerve in the ninth frame to secure the save and the win for the Yankees.

After their performances, McClanahan (1.84 ERA) and Cortes (1.94 ERA) are two of only seven starting pitchers this season to allow fewer than two runs per nine innings.

The win moves the Yankees' league-leading record to 46-16 – six games clear of the New York Mets in second (41-23).

Astros' immaculate showing

The Houston Astros pitched two immaculate innings in their 9-2 road win against the Texas Rangers to retain the fourth-best record in the majors at 39-24.

After the Astros piled on six runs in the opening frame, including two-run doubles from both Yordan Alvarez and Martin Maldonado, Houston starter Luis Garcia took control.

In the second inning, Garcia struck out all three batters, throwing just nine pitches, with all being strikes, for a rare immaculate inning.

Incredibly, the feat was repeated in the seventh frame by Astros reliever Phil Maton, who also collected his three strikeouts in nine pitches. It is the first time in MLB history that a team has thrown two immaculate innings in the same game.

Phillies win in last-gasp walk-off

Philadelphia Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs was the hero in his side's 3-1 home victory against the Miami Marlins.

Kyle Gibson was terrific on the mound for the Phillies, giving up one run from seven hits and no walks, pitching eight full innings and striking out six – but his team trailed 1-0 going into the ninth frame.

After a lead-off strikeout, Alec Bohm singled, and J.T. Realmuto walked, but another strikeout meant Stubbs was the last chance to make something happen – and he duly responded.

From the fifth pitch of his at-bat, with two strikes, Stubbs connected on a hanging slider and sent it over the fence for a game-winning three-run homer. It is the Phillies' 11th win from their past 13 games.

The Dallas Mavericks entered this offseason with a need at center, and potentially filled that void by acquiring Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets in exchange for four players and a draft pick.  

Wood, 26, was the Rockets’ leading scorer and rebounder this past season with 17.9 points and 10.1 boards per game. He was one of just nine players to average at least 17 points and 10 rebounds, joining the likes of Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver. 

Heading to Houston in the deal are Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Sterling Brown and Marquese Chriss – all of which figure to fill reserve roles, at best – as well as the 26th pick in this year’s draft. Acquiring those players provides Houston with roster flexibility by trading one big contract for numerous smaller contracts, and gives them three first-round picks this year, adding to their selections at number three and 17.

Adding Wood gives Luka Doncic the frontcourt running-mate he has desired since the departure of Kristaps Porzingis, and he projects as the most dynamic pick-and-roll partner the Slovenian superstar has ever played with, playing in a system heavily focused on pick-and-roll offense. 

Wood will be joining his seventh NBA team in his seventh season, but after failing to stick with the 76ers, Hornets, Bucks and Pelicans, he really started to shine in 2019-20 with the Detroit Pistons, leading to a sign-and-trade to the Rockets and a three-year, $41million payday.

In his first season with Houston, he scored a career-best 21 points per game to go with 9.6 rebounds. Wood has also become a capable outside shooter, connecting on 131 3-pointers this season to match his total from the previous two seasons combined.  

The Mavericks were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, marking their deepest playoff run of the Doncic era.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr highlighted Klay Thompson's gradual improvement in these NBA Finals as critical for his side, heading into a possible close-out game against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Thompson has come up with big plays on both ends of the court, particularly on the defensive end down the stretch without Draymond Green, as the Warriors evened up the series on the road in Game 4.

Along with his ability to defensively hassle multiple players in this series, Boston's altered coverage on Stephen Curry allowed Thompson space to hit important shots in Game 5, scoring 21 points on 50 per cent shooting as the Warriors took a 3-2 series lead. On a night where Curry and Andrew Wiggins shot a combined zero-of-15 from long-range, Thompson was crucial, hitting five-of-11 three-pointers.

Speaking to media ahead of Game 6, Kerr believes Thompson has been able to grow into the series on both ends of the floor.

"The last couple of games he's looked great defensively," Kerr said. "I think there's been times earlier in the playoffs where he's looked really good as well, but I do think he's improved as this series has gone on.

"I thought those two shots and then Jordan's [Poole] two threes at the end of the third quarter [of Game 5] were the biggest shots of the game. They had seized momentum and Klay's two at the top of the key were just massive."

In each of the three previous series in the playoffs this season however, the Dubs have failed to close out on the first opportunity, dropping games on the road in Memphis and Dallas, as well as at home to the Denver Nuggets.

Irrespective of Game 5 being the first time the Celtics have dropped consecutive games in these playoffs, the 56-year-old insisted that it is simply difficult to win in those situations, and his side will have to be at their best to claim the NBA title on the road.

"I just think, it's the NBA," Kerr said. "You've got talented teams, you've got talented players you're going against. You're in somebody else's building and it's just not easy to close anybody out in the playoffs.

"There's not a common thread, we're just going to have to play really well to win to close out."

The Australian Grand Prix will remain in Melbourne until 2035, with Formula One confirming a deal to extend the race's agreement beyond 2025 on Thursday.

In addition, Formula Two and Three races will join the weekend schedule for the first time from 2023.

The F1 season returned to Melbourne after a two-year hiatus this year, after the 2020 event was cancelled amid the initial outbreaks of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With crowds flocking back this year in record numbers – an attendance of 419,000 marked the largest ever crowd for a weekend sporting event in Australia - F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali expressed joy at the Albert Park race's future being secured.

"I am delighted to confirm that Melbourne and the Albert Park circuit will continue to be on the Formula 1 calendar until 2035," he said. "The race has always been a favourite for the fans, drivers and the teams and Melbourne is an incredible and vibrant international city that is a perfect match for our sport.

"This year we saw huge crowds and passionate fans at the Grand Prix, and we are very excited by the future in Australia as our sport continues to grow."

F1 are yet to confirm a date for the 2023 race, however, with scheduling becoming a tricky dynamic in the event Melbourne does not hold the opening race of the season.

During this year's race weekend in April, Sergio Perez and George Russell particularly lamented the physical and logistical strain placed on drivers and teams flying out to Australia, with Bahrain holding pre-season testing as well as the opening race over the past two seasons.

Before Covid-19 forced schedule changes, the Australian GP had traditionally held the opening race of the season upon the move to Melbourne in 1996, with Adelaide previously holding the final race on the calendar.

NFL fans have been spoiled by the standard of quarterback play in the 21st century.

A golden age led by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers is seemingly running right into another, though one largely dominated by quarterbacks with very different skill sets.

Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have heralded the start of a fascinating new era. The success of Mahomes, Allen and Co. has in part been a product of their ability to make an impact with their legs as well as through the air.

Still, the ultimate test of a quarterback remains his ability to deliver in situations where the defense knows a pass is coming.

The confluence of the final years of the great pocket quarterbacks and the beginning of potential Hall of Fame careers of several dual-threat superstars can make a discussion about which modern-day signal-callers perform best in these scenarios a difficult one to settle.

However, Stats Perform has developed a metric to rank the top quarterbacks since 2008 in expected passing situations called spread value.

Spread value is calculated using our efficiency versus expected (EVE) metric. For quarterbacks, EVE measures performance in terms of yards added in expected passing situations.

The spread value is generated using the EVE baselines for each season since 2008. In essence, spread value is how far a quarterback is above or below the cumulative baseline in that period, with significantly more weight given to recent results.

That weighting has undoubtedly influenced the quarterback at the top of the standings, though his consistently spectacular play has also played a substantial role.

Mahomes Magic

With the historic pace Mahomes has set since entering the NFL, it's no surprise the man leading the charge for 'the new generation' is atop the rankings.

Mahomes has racked up 18,707 passing yards over his first four seasons as a starter, comfortably surpassing the likes of Manning and Rodgers and putting him on track to go down as an all-time great.

His spread value of 6.429 is a product of Mahomes leading the NFL in EVE in three of his four seasons as a starting quarterback, including in a 2021 campaign that saw questions about his and the Kansas City Chiefs' ability to excel against two-high safety defenses.

Mahomes' task going forward will be to maintain his superiority with a receiving corps absent Tyreek Hill following his trade to the Miami Dolphins.

He will not lack for in-conference challengers, with a further six active AFC quarterbacks inside the top 20 for spread value since 2008. Half of those QBs reside inside his own division, encapsulating the arms race that is the AFC West.

Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers is 11th after finishing fourth in EVE last season, Derek Carr of the Oakland Raiders is 17th and new Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson 18th. 

The man regarded as Mahomes' chief rival, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, is 12th behind Herbert. His position below Herbert can be attributed to his early struggles after entering the NFL and a 2020 season regarded to this point as his vintage year only being good enough for 13th in EVE.

Allen did improve to eighth in 2021 and, though some may wonder how much better he can get following his stupendous playoff duel with Mahomes, he will look to take the next step and help the Bills finally overhaul the Chiefs.

Yet for all the talk of the AFC being the deeper conference, there are seven active NFC quarterbacks in the top 20, with Rodgers (third), Dak Prescott (fourth), Matthew Stafford (seventh) and Kirk Cousins (eighth) all residing in the top 10.

A 2021 season in which he was 10th in EVE ensured Kyler Murray of 16th in spread value and, despite the disappointing end to the campaign, underscored the Arizona Cardinals' need to sign him to an extension. His NFC West rival Jimmy Garoppolo is three spots higher, above even his former New England Patriots mentor in an indication of the level of efficiency successor Trey Lance will need to at least match for the San Francisco 49ers to succeed in 2022 and beyond.

Breesy Does It

Despite a glorious career in which he compiled a plethora of records, some of which Brady has since broken, Drew Brees perhaps does not receive the same level of acclaim as his contemporaries in the NFL’s 'old guard' of quarterbacks.

But the New Orleans Saints' legend is second behind Mahomes in spread value. Immediately trailing him among that veteran group are Rodgers and Philip Rivers in fifth.

Brees' position is a consequence of him leading the NFL in EVE in expected passing situations for five straight seasons between 2008-12. He regained that spot in 2017 and the final season of his career in 2020 was the only year in which he finished outside the top five.

Those remarkable numbers are a tribute not just to Brees' accuracy – he was first in well-thrown percentage (min. 100 attempts) in 2019 and fourth in 2020 – but also to the longevity of the connection between him and former Saints coach Sean Payton.

But what of the man who ended Brees' career and stunned the NFL world by reversing his decision to conclude his own?

Tom Not Terrific?

Brady's career was over for all of 40 days and it will now continue for as long as the greatest of all time sees fit, even if he appears to have nothing left to prove.

While Brady's legacy is secure, the extra season(s) could help him climb the ladder in spread value, in which he is a – by his standards – lowly 19th.

His standing is impacted by a 2008 campaign in which he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 and his final year with the New England Patriots in 2019, which marked his worst EVE performance in expected passing situations over the 14-season span.

Brady's zenith in that regard came in the spectacular 2016 season in which he led the league in EVE despite playing only 12 games. He subsequently guided the Patriots to Super Bowl glory with a historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons.

The latest act of his incredible two-plus decades in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has not seen him return to those heights even as he has lifted the Bucs to the league's elite.

He was 12th in EVE in 2020 as he guided the Bucs to Super Bowl glory and 13th in 2021 in what appeared to be his final season in the league.

Brady will want to go out on top of the mountain and the Bucs will hope he is not about to hit the cliff, with two of his greatest rivals having carried on long past their peak.

Quit While You're Ahead

Given the four Super Bowls they share evenly between them and the prominent role they have played in football in this century, it is quite remarkable to see Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning so low in the spread value rankings.

Roethlisberger is 37th while Manning is way down in 67th, spots that belie their first-ballot Hall of Fame resumes.

But it's the weighting towards recent seasons that goes against Roethlisberger and Manning, both bowing out from pro football on the back of dreadful individual campaigns.

No quarterback with at least 300 attempts in expected passing situations had a worse EVE than Manning in 2015, when he was briefly benched for Brock Osweiler. In his defence, the end came extremely quickly for Manning following an MVP season in 2013 and a Pro Bowl campaign in 2014 and he still managed to do enough to go out by winning a Lombardi Trophy with the Broncos.

Roethlisberger's awful 2021 was easier to forecast, his mobility and ability to push the ball downfield already having waned before he posted the worst EVE of his career in his final season.

By contrast, Tony Romo called it a career in 2017, but his last full season as a starter was in 2014 when he was seventh in EVE. The former Dallas Cowboy stands sixth in spread value as a result.

Brady's play and his efficiency numbers from his two seasons with the Buccaneers suggest he is more likely to replicate Romo, who may well be his inspiration when he heads into his post-playing career.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning begin their quest for a third straight Stanley Cup championship on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, they will have the NHL's leading goalscorer from each of the last two playoffs on the ice as center Brayden Point is set to return from a lower-body injury.

"Pointer looks like he's a go," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said after Wednesday's morning skate in Denver.

Point, who was second on the Lightning with 28 goals during the regular season, has been out since getting hurt early in Game 7 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Point recorded two goals in the opening round after leading the NHL with 14 goals in each of the last two postseasons for the two-time defending champion Lightning.

His 60 points in 53 games over the past three playoffs rank second in the league behind teammate Nikita Kucherov, who has racked up 89 points in 65 contests.

Tampa Bay is looking to become the first team to win three straight Stanley Cup championships since the New York Islanders captured four titles in a row from 1979-83.

The Lightning are 12-5 this postseason after finishing as the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

Colorado is searching for its first title since 2000-01 after its 119 points this season led the Western Conference and set a franchise record. The top-seeded Avalanche are 12-2 in these playoffs.

A spirited fightback from Nick Kyrgios saw the Australian beat second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Halle Open on Wednesday.

Kyrgios suffered a disappointing semi-final defeat to Andy Murray in Stuttgart last week, but looked greatly improved against Tsitsipas as he recovered from a set down to win 5-7 6-2 6-4.

It was the second serve of both men where Kyrgios shone, winning 76 per cent (28 of 37) of points on his second serve, and 58 per cent (23 of 40) on his opponent's.

"Stef is one of the best players in the world at the moment and he's going to have some amazing results and I'm sure many, many grand slams," Kyrgios said following his win.

"I don't know if I can say the same for me, but I'm happy to still be able to produce this level with the tournaments I play. It is a testament to how hard I do work when I'm not playing."

He will face Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarter-finals after the Spanish sixth seed beat Sebastian Korda 6-4 0-6 6-3.

Elsewhere, Hubert Hurkacz will face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last eight after defeating Ugo Humbert 7-6 (7-5) 6-3, while the Canadian also won in straight sets against Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (9-7) 6-1.

The one remaining first round match saw number one seed Daniil Medvedev beat David Goffin 6-3 6-2 to set up a second round clash with Ilya Ivashka.

At the Queen's Club Championships, sixth seed Denis Shapovalov was eliminated by Tommy Paul 6-4 2-6 6-4, with the American now scheduled to face Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round.

It means that six of the eight seeds in west London were knocked out in the first round, with Matteo Berrettini and Marin Cilic the only remaining seeds. The latter sealed his place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday with a 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 win over Alexander Bublik.

Cilic will play Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori in the last eight after he beat home favourite Jack Draper 6-2 7-6 (7-2).

The best contest of the day came between Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Alex de Minaur, with the former coming from behind to win 4-6 6-4 7-5 to set up a quarter-final with Botic van de Zandschulp, who beat Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis is retiring from the NFL after three seasons to pursue a full-time career in the ministry.

Willis, who turned 26 in May, announced his intentions on Wednesday in an Instagram post.

"With much prayer and deliberation, I have elected to officially retire from the NFL as I endeavour to devote the remainder of my life to the further advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," he wrote.

"I thank all my family, friends and those who have supported me on this journey thus far and I look forward to your continued support through the next phase of my life.

"I am both humbled and excited to pursue the holy call that God has for my life which brings me much joy and purpose."

A fourth-round pick of the Colts in the 2019 draft, Willis became a permanent starter midway through his rookie season and started 33 regular-season games for the team as well as one playoff contest.

The Michigan State product totalled 214 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four interceptions – one he returned 50 yards for a touchdown in 2020 – in 39 career games.

"We're thankful and appreciative of Khari's contributions to the Colts both on and off the field over the last three seasons," Colts coach Frank Reich said in a statement.

"Khari's character, leadership and professionalism will be missed in our locker room, as will his play on Sundays. I admire and respect his decision to transition into the next stage of his life and ministry and my prayers will always be with him."

Willis did not attend the Colts' voluntary offseason training activities or the recent mandatory minicamp with what Reich said was an excused absence, and Indianapolis' offseason moves suggest the team was preparing for his potential departure.

The Colts signed veteran safety Rodney McLeod in April and selected Maryland safety Nick Cross in the third round of this year's draft.

The U.S. Open will allow players competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series to feature this year, but that may not be the case in future.

That is the message from USGA chief executive Mike Whan, who has defended the decision to grant LIV Golf players the chance to compete at this year's U.S. Open.

Charl Schwartzel won the inaugural LIV Golf event in London last week, pocketing $4.75million, but the tournament was filled with controversy as the PGA Tour announced their punishment for the breakaway stars.

Tour commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed the 17 members who were playing in the first LIV Golf event would be banned, including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia.

Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm have been vocal supporters of the Tour's decision, alongside Justin Thomas as the saga overshadows the U.S Open.

Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed have also joined the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway, with the pair already aware of the consequences of their decision.

But the USGA announced those featuring in the LIV Golf tournament at the Centurion Club would still be able to play at The Country Club in Brookline for the third major of the season.

Whan was quick to explain the USGA's decision as the U.S. Open prepares to start on Thursday.

"We [the USGA] definitely feel responsibility to this game, and we feel a responsibility to the competitors that play it. We did sit down and have a long conversation about a week before the U.S. Open," he said.

"Did where somebody else played and what promoter they played it with disqualify them for this event? We decided no on that, with all the awareness that not everyone would agree with that decision.

"Whether we all like it or not, in February 30 guys played for the same promoter in Saudi Arabia with an acceptable release from the PGA Tour, and for years the DP World Tour has had an event there, same promoter.

"I'm sure there are players that both came through our qualifying and maybe teeing it up that are sponsored by those different – so we asked ourselves the question: one week before, if you play somewhere where you're not approved to play, would you be disqualified for the 2022 U.S. Open?

"We said no. And we also had to ask the question, if you're going to put that kind of clause in, who gets in? It becomes a pretty slippery slope to try to apply that across 9,300 people."

Pressed on whether the decision may change in future, Whan added: "Yeah, I could foresee a day. Do I know what that day looks like? No, I don't.

"To be honest with you, what we're talking about was different two years ago, and it was different two months ago than it is today.

"I think everybody else that we work with needs to take a long-term view of this and see where these things go.

"We're not going to show a knee-jerk reaction to kind of what we do. But the question was, could you envision a day where it would be harder for some folks doing different things to get into a US Open? I could. Will that be true? I don't know, but I can definitely foresee that day.

"I think it would be a lot of hypotheticals for me to get what LIV is going to be by the time we're talking about this next year, but as we would do any year, we're going to definitely re-evaluate field criteria.

"We would any year. We will take a look at what the landscape looks like."

Simona Halep eased into the last eight of the Birmingham Classic with a straight-sets win over Harriet Dart.

Home hope Dart was looking for a second successive quarter-final, having beaten Donna Vekic and Camila Giorgi in Nottingham last week en route to a place in the last eight.

However, Halep illustrated the gulf in class between the two in her last-16 clash with Dart, surging to a 6-3 6-2 victory as she prepares to try to regain the Wimbledon title she won in 2019.

The second seed will next face another Briton, Katie Boulter, who beat Caroline Garcia in straight sets. Halep's Romanian compatriot Sorana Cirstea overcame Aleksandra Krunic, while there were also wins for Giorgi, Zhang Shuai and Vekic.

At the German Open, fourth seed Karolina Pliskova needed two hours and 11 minutes to see off former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

The Czech came through a marathon third set that went to a tie-break, Pliskova having been a break down at 3-1 in the third, prevailing 6-4 2-6 7-6 (9-7).

Pliskova broke Andreescu to level the decider at 5-5 and then saved two break points in her subsequent service game before converting her third match point in the tie-break.

It marked Pliskova's first complete win over Andreescu, her only previous success coming via retirement at the 2019 WTA Finals.

"Of course Bianca is a super-tough opponent, she can really give you anything," Pliskova said after the match. "Slices, she can play fast, she can serve really well, she can come to the net.

"So I think there was a little bit of everything in this match. I'm super proud that I was able to turn the match around, because I was losing in the third set. I thought she was a little bit better in the second and third sets, but I stayed in there and I fought and I got my chances in the end."

French Open runner-up Coco Gauff had an easier time of things in her opening match in Berlin, defeating Ann Li 6-2 7-6 (7-2).

Maria Sakkari got the better of Daria Saville 6-1 7-5, Daria Kasatkina came back from a set down to knock out Ekaterina Alexandrova 5-7 6-1 6-1 and Aliaksandra Sasnovich saw off Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-4.

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