Coco Gauff reflected on a hugely disappointing Australian Open defeat as the two leading United States players exited the women's draw on day one in Melbourne.

Gauff is ranked 16th, closing on top American Sofia Kenin in 13th, but neither advanced to the second round on Monday.

The 17-year-old was stunned 6-4 6-2 by Wang Qiang in a sloppy display that included 38 unforced errors, with 21 in a second set in which she fell 5-0 behind.

Meanwhile, Kenin was beaten by compatriot Madison Keys, who came into the tournament in high spirits having won her sixth career title – and first since 2019 – at the Adelaide International 2. That run included a semi-final defeat of Gauff.

After her latest loss, Gauff said: "I think just everything disappointed me about today.

"I feel like in the pre-season I worked really hard, and I felt like I was ready to have a good run here. Today I just didn't perform well.

"I think there's a lot to learn from. I think I was playing a little bit tighter than normal.

"So I think next time coming into the first round of a slam, especially after a tough week before, I think I need to just play more free and focus on the moment."

Keys is playing with that freedom, eager to move on from a dismal 2021 in which she won only 11 matches.

"I'm not taking it quite as seriously, that's the biggest difference this year," she said.

Keys already has seven wins in eight matches in 2022, defeating fellow Americans in each of her past three outings.

Of the win over 2020 champion Kenin, she said: "At this point every first round is tough, but when you have to go up against a grand slam champion it's never easy.

"I think knowing that she was going to compete so well, I just had a really good mentality and attitude. I had a couple of opportunities I didn't really capitalise upon and I was able to reset and continue to play well.

"I had my first real run in a slam here, I missed last year, so absolutely ecstatic to be back in Melbourne. It would mean the world to have another run here."

Patrick Mahomes revealed the Kansas City Chiefs were motivated by being "p****d off" by a slow start to the Wild Card round against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 42-21 blowout win.

The Chiefs were shut out in the first quarter by a Steelers team that snuck into the playoffs as the seven seed and then fell behind when T.J. Watt returned a Mecole Hardman fumble for a touchdown.

But Mahomes took over thereafter, throwing for 404 yards and five touchdowns, a sole interception in the first quarter the only blemish on a blistering performance.

Tight end Travis Kelce also threw a touchdown on a trick play as the Chiefs turned on the style in setting up a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game with the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional Round.

"I think we were all p****d off at ourselves," Mahomes said in his media conference. "We felt like we weren't playing with enough energy, we felt like we weren't executing at a high enough level and not playing with enough urgency.

"So, I feel like guys really motivated themselves. We all kind of talked, it wasn't like one person talking, it was everybody talking to each other, and we came with a different urgency starting in the second quarter and carried it the rest of the game.

"Playing in the postseason games, we have young dudes who hadn't played yet, so they got to get that experience this week.

"And we have those vets that have been in here before and showed that with how Tyreek [Hill] and Trav [Kelce] stepped up in big ways to kind of get us sparked and get us rolling again."

On the matchup with the Bills, who crushed the New England Patriots on Saturday behind a sensational five-touchdown performance from quarterback Josh Allen, Mahomes said: "Yeah I mean you expect a really good football team that's going to play really hard. We're expecting a fight, we're expecting a battle. 

"They have a great offense, great defense, great special teams, and we played them in the AFC Championship last year, and we know that it's going to be another fight for us if we want to try to move on to the AFC Championship Game this year."

Novak Djokovic could miss out on defending another of his Grand Slam titles, with France passing new vaccination laws that may threaten his ability to compete at Roland Garros later this year.

The 34-year-old will not defend his Australian Open title, with a drawn-out saga concerning his vaccination status culminating in his visa being cancelled for a second time after an intervention from Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke.

But the controversy surrounding the 20-time Grand Slam winner could be set to continue, with French parliament passing stringent vaccination laws ahead of May's French Open.

After French lawmakers comfortably passed the new measures, proof of vaccination status will soon be required to enter a wide variety of public places, including sports stadiums, and the country's sports ministry says there will be no exemptions for professional athletes. 

"The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass," the ministry said.

"This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson, and until further notice.

"Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it is in May. The situation may change between now and then, and we hope that it will be more favourable. 

"So, we'll see, but clearly, there's no exemption."

 

Djokovic, who is tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for all-time Slam wins in the men's game, has come in for widespread criticism regarding his failure to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as for appearing in public in the days after testing positive for the virus last month.

Meanwhile, Djokovic has arrived back in his native Serbia, travelling via Dubai from Melbourne to Belgrade after losing a last-ditch court appeal to remain in the country.

Ben Roethlisberger reflected with pride on an 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers as he looks ahead to the next chapter.

There was to be no magical ending for Roethlisberger as Pittsburgh fell to a 42-21 reverse against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round on Sunday.

The Steelers quarterback threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 29-of-44 passing, but he also had to watch Patrick Mahomes' brilliance cut open his side and end their postseason bid.

While Roethlisberger has not specifically said he is retiring, he hinted at as much after bidding a tearful farewell to Heinz Field following a Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns.

On Sunday, the two-time Super Bowl winner, who has donned the Steelers' black and gold for his entire career, spoke glowingly of his time in Pittsburgh as he looked back on his time with the franchise.

He said post-game: "Yeah it's tough, but I'm proud to play with these guys. God has blessed me with an ability to throw a football and has blessed me to play in the greatest city, in Pittsburgh, with the greatest fans and the greatest football team and players. 

"And it has just been truly a blessing, and I'm so thankful to him for the opportunity that he's given me.

"Just a bunch of guys that fought for each other, that fought their butts off and just competed. It wasn't always pretty, but there are a lot of games that we found a way. 

"I'm so proud of this group of men and the way they fight for each other, for the black and gold, for our fans. It's just been an honour to play with them."

Roethlisberger's opposite number Mahomes finished with 404 passing yards and five touchdowns, and the veteran heaped praise on his fellow quarterback, who will next face the Buffalo Bills.

Mahomes responded in kind as he congratulated Roethlisberger on his Hall of Fame career.

"[He is] a tremendous player that I have a ton of respect for – the way he plays the game, the competitor that he is," Mahomes said. 

"He's won Super Bowls. He's a guy that I've watched growing up, and I have a ton of respect for him. That's what I told him, that if this is his last game, he did it the right way."

Roethlisberger is now hoping this Steelers team can carry on the legacy he has left behind.

"I've been here a long time, and it's been a lot of fun," Roethlisberger added. 

"Like I said, God has blessed me. We joke about the Browns and going there [in the NFL Draft], but it was meant to be that I was going to wear black and gold. Draft day I had a black suit on with a gold tie.

"I'm just so thankful. I hope that I'm able to pass the legacy of what it is to be a Steeler from Dan Rooney. We all miss him, anyone that knew him misses him. 

"Hopefully I can pass some of that on to some of the guys and they can continue the tradition of what it means to be a Steeler and get passed down.

"Whenever you get a bunch of new guys, once you start to lose some of the old regime if you will, you've got to find ways to pass it down. 

"And we've got some guys in there that will continue to do that. I gave Cam [Heyward] a big hug and told him it's on him now. It's his job to pass it down and to keep teaching and holding guys to the Pittsburgh standard."

As Roethlisberger prepares for whatever the next challenge is that is thrown his way, he remains thankful for the opportunities he has had, including the Steelers' improbable progression to the playoffs following a dramatic end to the regular season.

"We thought last week was going to be the end," he continued. "We didn't know what was going to happen and God blessed me to play another football game. 

"It didn't end the way we wanted it to. But it's a blessing to be able to play this game. I try and tell those guys how lucky we are that we get to play football for a living. We need to count our blessings and understand how lucky we are. 

"We're out there getting beat up and this and that, but we get to entertain millions of fans and throw, catch, run, do what we've all done as kids. That's our job and when we say our prayers thank God for that.

"I don't know if it's emotional because it's the end of the season. I mean, this would be emotional no matter what. We never like to lose and go out and I'll miss these guys. It'll probably really hit me come training camp time."

World number one Ash Barty kicked off her Australian Open title bid with a convincing straight-sets victory over Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko on Monday.

The two-time grand slam winner, whose previous best finish on home soil at Melbourne Park was a run to the semi-finals in 2020, prevailed 6-0 6-1 in a time of just 54 minutes.

Barty held serve throughout the one-sided contest with Tsurenko and is now unbroken in 41 successive service games across her last four matches.

"It's certainly nice to be back on home soil and playing as well as I did tonight. It was a lot of fun out here," Barty said in her on-court interview.

"I felt like it was nice and clean. End-to-end I did a good job in adjusting. Tonight it was just nice and solid to get out here and play a decent match and feel like I enjoyed it."

Tsurenko took Barty to three sets when they met in this competition two years ago, but the world number 113 was outclassed on this occasion.

Looking to build on her recent Adelaide International success, Barty eased through the first set as she dropped just 12 points.

Barty was just as dominant in the second set, but she squandered two match points in the sixth game to miss out on a double-bagel to begin her campaign in Melbourne.

Not that it mattered a great deal, though, as the 25-year-old emphatically served out the match to set up a meeting with Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti for a place in round three.

 

DATA SLAM: Barty makes statement start

Barty came through this first-round match with minimal stress and looks in great shape as she bids to become the first Australian to win here since 1978.

The pressure is no doubt on as the pre-tournament favourite, with no top-seeded player in the women's draw failing to make at least round four since Virginia Ruzici in 1979.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Barty – 14/17
Tsurenko – 4/21

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Barty – 5/0
Tsurenko – 0/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Barty – 5/8
Tsurenko – 0/2

Cade Cunningham insisted he was acknowledging his "people" and not taunting the opposition after he was ejected during the Detroit Pistons' loss to the Phoenix Suns.

The Pistons fell to a 135-108 reverse against the NBA-leading Suns on Sunday as they saw two of their players ejected in the second half.

Cunningham was the first to be dismissed in the third quarter, ending an enthralling battle with Devon Booker, for what referee Kevin Cutler later described as "a physical taunt for pointing at the defender".

Cutler was referring to Cunningham's gesture after he slammed past Jalen Smith and immediately pointed in the 21-year-old's direction, leading to his second technical foul.

But Cunningham – who had 21 points, one rebound and four assists before his ejection – provided a different view after the game as he justified his celebration.

"I had my people right behind the bench," said Cunningham, who finished on 9-for-15 shooting in 24 minutes. 

"I went baseline to dunk the ball, and he's right in between me and my people. I probably should've read that situation better. I don't really get into taunting too much. 

"Usually I'm chilling after a play. I realised the situation after he tech'ed me [technical fouled] up, but I didn't think I was going to get a tech. 

"I let coach Monty [Williams of the Suns] over there, let him know, 'Good game,' and stuff like that."

Detroit trailed by 20 at the time of Cunningham's removal, and that increased to 27 by the end of the game after Josh Jackson was also ejected with 41 seconds remaining.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey – whose side are 10-32, the second-worst record in the league – believes his team must manage their reputation by maintaining strong disciplinary levels.

"He [the referee] said Cade pointed at the guy that he dunked on," Casey said after the game. "I didn't see that part. I thought he was pointing towards his teammate. 

"That's why he said he got a technical for and got ejected for, he already had one. I've seen a lot worse things to get ejected for than that. 

"The Josh one, I haven't looked at it yet. He said Josh hit, or pushed, or whatever at [Ish] Wainright. I didn't see that part either, I have to look at that.

"We're not in a position as a team to complain. Let me be the bad guy to fight for us.

"As a young team, we shouldn't get that reputation of complaining to officials. Until we get to that level, we have to button up and zip up and play our butts off."

Despite Cunningham's dismissal, the 20-year-old has been in fine form recently – averaging 17.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds since November 30 (a span of 18 games).

With the Pistons looking to bounce back with a trip to the Golden States Warriors on Tuesday, Cunningham insisted that his team are heading in the right direction.

"We're still locked in," Cunningham added. "We feel ourselves getting better and growing together. 

"This is a big road trip that we got to go into. We're going to play some good teams. We're excited to take that challenge on and see what we got." 

Rafael Nadal believes it would be "better for everybody" if Novak Djokovic was competing at the Australian Open, while declaring the situation a "mess".

Nadal sits level on 20 grand slam titles with Djokovic and Roger Federer but is the only one of tennis' 'Big Three' featuring in Melbourne.

Federer was ruled out due to ongoing knee injury problems, while Djokovic saw his visa cancelled for a second time on Sunday as he appealed Australia's refusal to let him into the country.

That ruling owed to Djokovic's unvaccinated status and Australia's coronavirus guidelines, leaving the Serbian unable to defend his Melbourne Park crown and seek a record-extending 21st grand slam.

Nadal has previously said he was "tired" of talking about the Djokovic saga, but the Spaniard again offered his thoughts after defeating Marcos Giron in the first round on Monday.

"Almost one week ago when he won in the first instance, the case, he was able to get back his visa and practising. I said the justice has spoken," Nadal told reporters.

"If the justice says his visa is valid and he's able to play here, the justice has spoken, so that's the fairest thing, that he deserves to play here. Yesterday the justice said another thing. I will never be against what the justice says.

"Another thing is what I believe personally and what I believe is the ideal situation personally, no?

"The ideal situation in the world of sport is that the best players are on court and playing the most important events. That's better for the sport without a doubt.

"If Novak Djokovic is playing here, it's better for everybody, no doubt about that. Another thing is what happened. As I said in the beginning, I can't say another thing because I believe that the situation is very clear now."

 

Pressed for an answer on his relationship with the 34-year-old world number one, Nadal wished his fellow competitor all the best.

"He's not the only one that did bad things in that case," Nadal added.

"Of course, there are more responsibilities on all for this terrible situation that we faced for the last two weeks. But of course, he is one of those responsible, too.

"So on a personal level, yes, I would like to see him playing here. If it is fair or not that he's playing here is another discussion that I don't want to talk anymore about that."

Nadal advanced to the second round in Melbourne with a cruising 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory over American Giron, who is ranked 66th in the world.

That was Nadal's fourth win of the year after triumphing at the Melbourne Summer Set and he appears to have battled through his foot injury, though he still expressed concerns over his fitness.

"It's been a very challenging few months… tough moments with a lot of doubts – there still are doubts," he said.

"But I am here and I can't be happier to be back in Australia in this amazing stadium.

"You never know when you come back from injury, which unfortunately I have a lot of experience with, how things will be, so you have to take it day by day. You have to forgive yourself if things aren't going the proper way."

Awaiting Nadal in the second round of the tournament will be either Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis or Yannick Hanfmann of Germany.

Novak Djokovic could make an earlier-than-expected return to Australia despite the Serb facing a three-year ban from the country, according to prime minister Scott Morrison.

The world's number-one ranked player, who is level on 20 grand slam titles with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, saw his visa cancelled for a second time on public health grounds on Sunday.

Djokovic was attempting to overturn the original decision to refuse his entry into Australia, which was due to his unvaccinated status and the country's coronavirus rules.

That leaves the 34-year-old unable to defend his Australian Open title at Melbourne Park, while he was also handed an automatic three-year ban from the country under immigration law, unless Australia's immigration minister overrules the judgement.

Compelling or compassionate reasons would be needed to do so, but Morrison refused to rule out the possibility of Djokovic making an early return.

"I'm not going to precondition any of that or say anything that would not enable the minister to make the various calls he has to make," Morrison said to 2GB Radio on Monday.

"It does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for [a person] to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered at the time."

 

Morrison then insisted that Djokovic, who has already expressed his disappointment with the ruling, and any other entrant to Australia must comply with their rules.

"If you're someone coming from overseas, and there are conditions for you to enter this country, then you have to comply with them," he continued.

"This is about someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with the entry rules at our border."

The Australian Open started on Monday, with Nadal advancing past Marcos Giron in his first-round match.

Confusion reigned at the end of the San Francisco 49ers' dramatic Wild Card victory over the Dallas Cowboys, but Kyle Shanahan only had a brief doubt his team would have to face a Hail Mary in a bizarre finish.

The Niners controlled the game and held a Dallas offense that had averaged over 400 yards per game in the regular season to just 307 in their 23-17 success.

Yet San Francisco gave the Cowboys a chance to complete a remarkable comeback with 32 seconds left after their failure to execute a quarterback sneak on fourth and inches turned possession back to Dallas.

The Cowboys promptly drove to San Francisco's 41-yard line in just three plays, before a bemusing play call from Dallas to run the ball with quarterback Dak Prescott despite having no timeouts sealed the game for the Niners.

Prescott and the Dallas offense frantically tried to get set up to spike the ball to stop the clock and prevent time from expiring. However, Prescott handed the ball to center Tyler Biadasz to spot the ball.

NFL rules state the ball must be spotted by an official and umpire Ramon George ran in to do just that, colliding with Prescott and Biadasz in the process and leading to a delay that prevented Prescott from spiking it before the clock hit triple zeros, meaning the 49ers never had to face a Hail Mary from the 24-yard line that could have settled a thrilling contest in the Cowboys' favour.

Shanahan and the Niners strode onto the field in celebration after time ran out, with the Niners head coach admitting to brief concern time would be put back on the clock.

"I thought it was over because I saw it live," Shanahan said. "I was very confident it was done. I was just nervous.

"Sometimes when you're real confident you think you see it right. Sometimes it changes. So you're never fully sure until they let you know."

Explaining the false start from tackle Trent Williams that kept the game alive and negated a successful quarterback sneak from Jimmy Garoppolo, Shanahan added: "We just shifted to an unbalanced [line].

"It was on the silent count and it was quarterback sneak all the way, but Jimmy got really excited because of the look. Didn't let Trent get set. He's got to let him get set.

"It ended up not being a problem, though it would have been a struggle to answer that one if it was."

The Niners will next face the top-seeded Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday in a rematch of a Week 3 encounter in which the Packers prevailed on a last-second field goal after some late Aaron Rodgers heroics.

"I'm sure I'll be thinking a lot about it here on the plane," Shanahan said. "But they've had a hell of a year. I'm glad we get an opportunity to go up against them again.

"They've been unbelievable. So, we'll rest up here. We'll enjoy this plane ride, and we'll get back to work right when we land."

Hideki Matsuyama produced a stunning second shot on the first playoff hole to claim victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii as he triumphed over Russell Henley.

The reigning Masters champion had trailed by five strokes on the back nine but produced a surge capped with a birdie at the last to force a playoff with Henley after both finished 23 under par.

Henley's putt on the 18th to win the tournament skimmed the outside edge of the hole and he was left to rue that miss in quite astonishing fashion.

They returned to the same hole for the playoff and Matsuyama, having gone for the 3-wood off the tee, elected to use the same club for his second shot from 277 yards away and could not have hit it any better, sending it to three feet for an eagle putt to secure his eighth PGA Tour title and his third in less than a year as Henley made bogey.

Waialae Country Club holds a special place in Japanese golf history, with it being the course where Isao Aoki became the first player from the country to win on the PGA Tour.

And Matsuyama was thrilled to replicate his achievement.

"I got on a roll, I'm glad it came out this way," said Matsuyama. "To follow him [Aoki] up, I'm over the moon."

Kevin Kisner and Seamus Power were Matsuyama and Henley's closest challengers, finishing in a tie for third, four strokes off the pace.

Naomi Osaka insisted she was unaffected by the saga surrounding Novak Djokovic ahead of the Australian Open.

Osaka opened her title defence at Melbourne Park with a 6-3 6-3 win over Colombian Camila Osorio on Monday.

The lead up to the year's first grand slam was overshadowed by the visa saga around Djokovic, who was deported from Australia on Sunday.

But Osaka, a four-time major winner, said the Serbian world number one's situation had no impact on her.

"I mean, to be completely honest, it didn't really affect me. I saw that it affected the men's draw a little bit so you might have to ask a men's player," she said.

"For me, my goal even before this whole situation is to just focus on myself more, what I need to do to become better.

"I wasn't really, I guess, looking at the news too often."

Osaka was unwilling to be drawn on whether Djokovic, whose visa was cancelled by immigration minister Alex Hawke, should be competing in the tournament.

A two-time champion in Melbourne, Osaka said her focus was on herself – with a second-round clash against Madison Brengle awaiting her.

"I feel like people focus on whatever they want to focus on. It's more like an individual question," Osaka said.

"Me, I'm a tennis player. I'll focus on my matches. You, as I guess an audience, focus on whatever is in the news, no?"

Rafael Nadal made a strong start to his Australian Open campaign, brushing past Marcos Giron in the opening round on Monday.

The Spanish superstar outclassed American Giron in a resounding 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal, who can claim the outright lead for most grand slams won by a man if he clinches his 21st in Melbourne, was in good form.

Playing his first major since last year's French Open, Nadal – the only former champion in the draw following Novak Djokovic's deportation from the country – was never troubled by Giron.

Nadal reeled off five consecutive games to take the opening set in 24 minutes.

His excellent first set was highlighted by two brilliant winners to break for 5-1 as he completely dominated Giron.

Nadal capitalised on his momentum by breaking in the opening game of the second set, Giron finally stopping the run by holding for 1-2.

The Spaniard maintained his lead and was forced to serve out the set, doing so to 15 to take complete control.

A backhand pass saw Nadal break again in the opening game of the third set on his way to a comprehensive win, with Thanasi Kokkinakis or Yannick Hanfmann awaiting him in the second round.

 

DATA SLAM: Nadal makes no mistake in opener

Only twice in his illustrious career has Nadal lost in the opening round of a grand slam – at Wimbledon in 2013 and the 2016 Australian Open.

But since his defeat to Fernando Verdasco in Melbourne six years ago, Nadal has not lost a set in the Australian Open first round, continuing that record against Giron.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 34/26
Giron – 10/23

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 7/2
Giron – 2/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 5/9
Giron – 0/2

The Golden State Warriors felt the absence of Steph Curry and Draymond Green as they fell to a 119-99 loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Curry was ruled out with a hand injury and Green missed a fourth straight game with a calf issue as the Warriors lost for a fifth time in their last seven outings.

Jaylen Nowell scored 17 points for the Timberwolves and Malik Beasley added 16, which included five second-half 3-pointers in a one-sided conclusion to the game.

The travel-weary Warriors, playing on the road for a fourth successive time, are now 31-12 for the season and remain second in the Western Conference.


Gobert guides Utah past Denver

Returning from a five-game coronavirus-enforced absence, Rudy Gobert made up for lost time with a double-double in the Utah Jazz's 125-102 win over the Denver Nuggets.

The Jazz had lost four in a row in Gobert's absence, but the center's 18 points and 19 rebounds got his side back on track at the Ball Arena.

Gobert has now recorded 15 straight double-doubles either side of his spell on the sidelines, while Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 21 points.

Nikola Jokic top-scored for the Nuggets with 25 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists for his ninth triple-double of the season – no player has more.


Suns win again, Rockets looking up

The NBA-leading Phoenix Suns won for a sixth time in seven games with a 135-108 victory over the Detroit Pistons, with Devin Booker scoring 30 points.

JaVale McGee added 20 as the Pistons, who had Josh Jackson ejected in the fourth quarter, fell to a fourth defeat since New Year's Day, each of those by at least 27 points.

Elsewhere on Sunday, the Houston Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings 118-112 to exact some revenge two days on from losing to the same opponents.

Eric Gordon made a clutch bucket with 12.5 seconds left, adding to Christian Woods' 23 points and 14 rebounds as the Rockets won for a second time in three games.

Dak Prescott felt he had spiked the ball in time to get one more shot at a game-winning touchdown in a bizarre ending to their Wild Card round defeat to the San Francisco 49ers.

Prescott and a Cowboys offense that led the NFL in yards per game was frustrated by an excellent performance from San Francisco's defense as Dallas suffered a 23-17 upset loss.

In a rollercoaster finish, the 49ers appeared to have clinched the game with a fourth-down quarterback sneak from Jimmy Garoppolo, however, a false start penalty negated that play and allowed the Cowboys to gain possession with 32 seconds left. 

They efficiently moved down to San Francisco's 41-yard line in three plays but the Cowboys then inexplicably called a quarterback run play with Prescott despite having no timeouts.

That set up a mad dash to spike the ball and prevent time from expiring, however, Prescott handed the ball to center Tyler Biadasz to spot the ball. NFL rules state the ball must be spotted by an official and umpire Ramon George ran in to do just that, colliding with Prescott and Biadasz in the process and leading to a delay that prevented Prescott from spiking it before the clock hit triple zeros, meaning a potential game-winning Hail Mary never came to fruition.

"I thought I did [spike the ball in time],” Prescott said. "I didn't hear what the ref said, what their announcement was. I just saw them running off the field and the Niners running on the field and celebrating, so understood what had happened.

"We were going to get some yards and get down and clock it. It's something we've practiced over and over again. Ran. Went and got some yards. Went down. As I was getting behind Tyler, saw four seconds left. I thought there was obviously time to make sure everybody was set, and then honestly, just got hit from behind. Still, when I got up [under center], I saw two seconds. I thought I could get the snap and get it down before time expired. I'm not sure what happened other than that."

In his pool report after the game, referee Alex Kemp insisted umpire George had done everything correctly in spotting the ball.

Prescott added: "We've practiced it. You hand it to the center. The umpire, all he has to do is usually come in and tap the ball. Yeah, I mean, don't necessarily know exactly why the hit happened, I guess. I knew he was going to come in and touch the ball. You can say, yeah, he needs to be closer to the ball or whatever. In hindsight, just tough. Yeah, tough to accept.”

"I'd like to get a play off, knowing everything that happened, thinking that I spiked the ball in time,” Prescott said. "I mean with the official getting in the way of the play as well. Tough. Tough. Just tough."

The Kansas City Chiefs set up a mouth-watering AFC Divisional Round matchup with the Buffalo Bills with a 42-21 blowout Wild Card round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh snuck into the playoffs as the seventh seed and, when T.J. Watt returned Mecole Hardman's fumble for a touchdown to open the scoring after a hugely impressive defensive performance in the first quarter, the Steelers would have been forgiven for thinking about a monumental upset.

Yet any such thoughts were quickly proven to be pipe dreams as the Chiefs took over, with Patrick Mahomes in blistering form as he threw for 404 yards and five touchdowns, a sole interception in the first quarter the only blemish on an otherwise sensational showing.

It means Mahomes will face off with Bills quarterback Josh Allen, himself fresh off a remarkable performance against the New England Patriots, in a repeat of last year's AFC Championship Game, while Ben Roethlisberger's career is likely over, the Steelers quarterback having said a tearful farewell to Heinz Field after their Week 17 win over the Clevaland Browns.

Roethlisberger will call it a career with two Super Bowl titles to his name, and Mahomes appears excellently positioned to tie that tally this season after dicing up the Steelers after the first-quarter shutout.

Touchdown throws to Jerick McKinnon and Byron Pringle restored order for the Chiefs after the Steelers' strong start and Mahomes capped the first half with a 48-yard toss to Travis Kelce, the tight end rumbling into the endzone after his former MVP quarterback executed a deep pass while rolling to his right with a degree of nonchalance.

A short scoring toss to offensive lineman Nick Allegretti and a 31-yard teardrop to Tyreek Hill ended any doubt over the final outcome, the final flourish coming when Kelce connected with Pringle on a two-yard trick play.

That touchdown sandwiched by two for Roethlisberger on passes to Diontae Johnson and James Washington before the seconds ticked down on a Hall of Fame career.

Naomi Osaka moved into the Australian Open second round with a straight-sets victory over Camila Osorio on Monday.

The defending champion was largely untroubled by 20-year-old Colombian Osorio, easing to a 6-3 6-3 victory in 68 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Osaka, a four-time grand slam winner, has now won 23 of her past 24 matches in Melbourne.

It means a fourth-round showdown between Osaka and world number one Ash Barty remains on the cards.

Osaka made an imperious start and raced into a 5-0 lead after 16 minutes, on the back of eight winners, plus seven unforced errors from Osorio.

Incredibly, Osorio – who was growing in belief – had chances to get back on serve when Osaka was trying to close out the set, but the two-time champion in Melbourne managed to seal it 6-3.

The energetic Osorio was encouraging herself throughout while matching Osaka, who broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set.

In the end, Osaka proved too good despite a decent first-round test, moving into a meeting with either Dayana Yastremska or Madison Brengle.

 

DATA SLAM: Osaka's first-round record remains strong

Osaka is rarely troubled in the opening round of grand slams. The star is now 19-2 in the first round at majors.

Another challenge awaits. Osaka has never defended any of her major crowns and the last player to defend the women's title at Melbourne Park was Victoria Azarenka (2012 and 2013).

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Osaka – 19/28
Osorio – 5/15

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Osaka – 4/3
Osorio – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Osaka – 4/6
Osorio – 1/5

Bruce Arians is hoping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can keep an offensive line he believes is the best in football together after Tristan Wirfs suffered an ankle injury in their Wild Card round win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

An ankle injury to right tackle Wirfs, which he unsuccessfully tried to return from, was one of the few blots on a routine 31-15 victory for the Buccaneers.

Center Ryan Jensen also suffered an injury but returned to the game, with Tampa Bay's win and the San Francisco 49ers' upset triumph over the Dallas Cowboys meaning the Bucs will face either the Los Angeles Rams or Arizona Cardinals in the Divisional Round.

Asked about the injury to Wirfs, Arians told a media conference: "He's got a sprained ankle, we'll see.

"Hopefully they're [the injuries] not super serious, Jensen came back in, Tristan tried it, other than that we came out pretty clean.

"Hopefully we can keep our offensive line intact because I think they're the best in football, Tristan especially, they'll be working on that ankle non-stop."

Running back Leonard Fournette, whose performance in the postseason last year was key to the Buccaneers winning Super Bowl LV, was not activated for this game as he tries to return from a hamstring injury.

On Fournette, Arians said: "Until he's top speed we're not going to use him."

While Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts struggled and threw a pair of interceptions in his first playoff start, Tom Brady was faultless in his record 46th postseason start.

He completed 29 of 37 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns including a 36-yard strike to Mike Evans.

"Once Tom figures you out, you're in trouble," Arians added. "That was a dime he threw to Mike for that long touchdown, he's a surgeon, man, once he figures you out and we can put him in a position and protect him, he's gonna eat you up."

The San Francisco 49ers survived a fourth-quarter comeback from the Dallas Cowboys to claim a dramatic 23-17 upset win in the Wild Card round.

Despite losing Nick Bosa to a concussion and linebacker Fred Warner to an ankle injury, the 49ers' defense held a Cowboys offense that led the NFL in yards per game with 407 to just 17 points, and it was the resistance of that group that ultimately proved decisive.

Yet such a summation does a disservice to a wild finish in which the Niners looked to have won the game several times, only to give the Cowboys hope as this historic rivalry delivered another classic in the first playoff meeting between the two teams since the 1994 season.

Dallas got the ball back with 32 seconds left and needing a touchdown to win and moved to San Francisco's 41-yard line in three plays, but an inexplicable decision to run the ball with quarterback Dak Prescott saw time expire on the game and the Cowboys' season as the 49ers progressed to a Divisional Round meeting with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The 49ers set their stall out with a dominant seven-play, 75-yard drive to start the game that ended with a four-yard touchdown scamper by rookie running back Elijah Mitchell.

San Francisco tacked on two field goals to make it 13-0 before Prescott hit back with a superb 20-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.

Another three-pointer gave San Francisco a 16-7 half-time lead and their defense continued to hold Prescott in check after the break even with star edge rusher Bosa ruled out. 

Prescott was sacked five times and when he was intercepted by K'Waun Williams and versatile wide receiver Deebo Samuel pounced on that turnover with a 26-yard rushing touchdown a blowout appeared on the cards.

Dallas, though, pulled back within 13 points with a Greg Zuerlein field goal and an overthrown interception by Jimmy Garoppolo teed up Prescott to fray the nerves with a five-yard rushing score.

San Francisco's job looked to be done when a deep fourth-down throw from Prescott fell incomplete and the Niners should have been celebrating victory when Garoppolo executed a quarterback sneak on fourth and inches, only for that play to be called back for a false start.

However, the Cowboys could not capitalise on that reprieve despite their initial progress down the field, Prescott and center Tyler Biadasz forgetting that an official needed to spot the ball after his run in the final seconds, with a collision between a referee and Biadasz before he spotted the ball meaning the clock hit triple zeros before the quarterback could spike it to set up a Hail Mary attempt.

Novak Djokovic will be banned from Australia for three years after the world number one's visa cancellation was upheld, the federal government has confirmed.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner failed in his bid to overturn a decision from the government to cancel his visa on public health grounds at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Sunday.

Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, is therefore unable to participate in the Australian Open, where he was due to launch his quest for a record-extending 10th title against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic on Monday.

After departing Australia, he will now be unable to return for the next three years, as is standard for the deportation order under the Migration Act – although this is subject to application and he could be permitted to return before then.

However, as it stands the 34-year-old would miss the next three editions of the slam. 

Speaking on the Today Show, minister for home affairs Karen Andrews said: "The outcome of the process that went before the Federal Court and their determinations – the visa was cancelled by [immigration] minister Hawke.

"That cancellation was upheld by the Federal Court, so as a result of that, he will be banned from entry for three years into the country.

"Now there are some compelling reasons that may be looked at, but that's all hypothetical at this point. Any application will be reviewed on its merits."

The long-running saga began after Djokovic was held at an airport in Melbourne when he arrived in the country on January 6.

The world number one won an appeal to overturn the first bid to deport him from the country, but immigration minister Hawke used his powers to again cancel the visa on Friday and Djokovic left Australia late on Sunday.

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