Two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka says it is "bizarre" that fans need to be vaccinated to attend the US Open but not the players.

The 2021 US Open marks the first tennis tournament where fans must show their proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend matches inside the Flushing Meadows venue. The decision was made less than 72 hours prior to the first matches at the US Open.

Azarenka, who defeated Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3 7-6 (7-1) in the second round on Wednesday, said there was a double standard applied for fans compared to players who are not required to be vaccinated to play.

"I want to start this conversation between our players, because to me that's a bit bizarre that fans have to be vaccinated and players are not," three-time US Open finalist Azarenka told reporters.

"I think it's inevitable that it will be mandated at some point, like other leagues are doing.

"I don't see the point of stalling it, because I think we all want to be safe, we all want to continue doing our jobs, and I know there is a lot of discussions about it."

She added: "I hope that as an association we make the best decision for our business, for our health, for the tournaments and for the public."

On Saturday, Briton Andy Murray voiced his opinion that players need to be vaccinated, saying it is their responsibility as they travel the world to play.

Numerous top players including Novak Djokovic, Stefano Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev have previously spoken about their concerns about getting vaccinated.

Medvedev would not be drawn on Azarenka's comments after he defeated Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-1 6-2 in the second round on Wednesday.

"Tough to answer this question," Medvedev told reporters. "I think everybody can have his own opinion.

"I understand why they did it to the fans. So far it has not been applied to the players. We as players, we can just follow the guidelines and the rules. That's all we can do.

"I think it's not for players to decide, because that's why we have governing bodies in tennis."

Joel Embiid has taken to social media to deny a reported rift between him and Philadelphia 76ers team-mate Ben Simmons who has been linked with a trade away from the franchise.

The 76ers topped the Eastern Conference with a 49-23 record across the 2020-21 season but crashed out of the playoffs to the Atlanta Hawks 4-3 in the Conference semi-finals.

Simmons was widely criticized for his role in the 76ers' early demise, struggling from the free-throw line in the playoffs, leading to speculation about his future.

That speculation has intensified in the off-season, with reports of a rift between Embiid and Simmons suggesting that the franchise needed to let one depart.

The 2021 MVP runner-up vehemently denied those rift reports, insisting he loves playing with the Australian former number one NBA Draft pick.

"Stop using my name to push people’s agendas," Embiid tweeted. "I love and hate drama. I love playing with Ben. Stats don’t lie.

"He’s an amazing player and we all didn’t get the job done. It’s on me personally. I hope everyone is back cuz we know we’re good enough to win."

Embiid's tweet was in relation to a report from USA Today that the 'rift had been escalating'.

He added: "From my own experience, y’all have no idea how much this media makes up stuff for followers and shame on you for believing them."

The 27-year-old Cameroonian also tweeted about his displeasure at the 76ers' fans treatment of Simmons, who skipped the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to continue to develop his game this off-season.

"I haven’t forgotten but 2 years ago, I got booed, people in Philly wanted me to be traded. I even shushed them," Embiid tweeted.

"Only the real ones didn’t but I just put the work in that offseason to be better cuz I knew I wasn’t playing up to my potential. Philly fans, y’all also gotta be better.

"For clarity, I love the criticism, I love when I’m told I can’t do something. It makes me work harder to prove everyone wrong but not everyone is built like that."

Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples have been named vice-captains for the 2020 Ryder Cup by United States captain Steve Stricker. 

Stricker's other vice-captains are Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Love, meaning there is no place in the leadership team for Tiger Woods. 

Mickelson will not be a playing member of the team for the first time after 12 consecutive appearances – a record for Team USA – dating back to 1995. He also holds the national record for four-ball points won (nine) and matches played (47). 

Although the 51-year-old became the oldest player in history to win a major at the US PGA Championship back in May, it was his only top-10 finish this year. 

Couples served as a vice-captain to Davis Love III in 2012 and made five appearances as a player, the last of which came in 1997. 

"I've been staying in close contact with both Freddie and Phil, talking about all things Ryder Cup, for a while now," Stricker said in a statement. 

"They provide honest and impactful feedback, and both have such a passion for the Ryder Cup. I'm honoured that they were willing to join our team and help put us in the best position to win in a few weeks at Whistling Straits."

The tournament, which was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is due to be played at Whistling Straits from September 24-26. 

"I'm humbled and honoured to be a part of this year's Ryder Cup as an assistant captain," Mickelson wrote on Twitter. 

"Thank you captain Stricker for including me and I hope to help in any way possible."

Kimi Raikkonen has announced his impending retirement from Formula One.

The 41-year-old, who won the world title with Ferrari in 2007, will call time on his career at the end of the 2021 season.

Raikkonen made his F1 debut with Sauber at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix and spent five seasons with McLaren before a three-year stint with Ferrari.

He took a break from F1 but returned with Lotus in 2012, going on to join Ferrari again before moving to Alfa Romeo in 2019.

The Finn, who has 21 race wins and 103 podium finishes to his name, confirmed his decision in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

"This is it. This will be my last season in Formula 1," the post read.

"This is a decision I did during last winter. It was not an easy decision but after this season it is time for new things. Even though the season is still on, I want to thank my family, all my teams, everyone involved in my racing career and especially all of you great fans that have been rooting for me all this time.

"Formula 1 might come to an end for me but there is a lot more in life that I want to experience and enjoy. See you around after all of this! Sincerely Kimi."

Speculation mounted earlier on Wednesday that Alfa Romeo were considering making a move for Valtteri Bottas, whose is waiting to discover if he will remain Lewis Hamilton's team-mate next year.

Mercedes future is in doubt, with George Russell a potential replacement as Lewis Hamilton's team-mate for next season.

Naomi Osaka was due to face Olga Danilovic on Wednesday, but the defending US Open champion was handed a walkover into the third round. 

Osaka, who defeated Marie Bouzkova in the first round to start her title defence at Flushing Meadows, is hunting her fifth grand slam title and third in New York. 

Serbian youngster Danilovic, who is being mentored by ATP world number one Novak Djokovic, defeated American Alycia Parks in straight sets on Monday but had to pull out of her second-round tie with Osaka due to a viral illness. 

However, the 20-year-old stressed she had not tested positive for COVID-19. 

"Hi everyone… I am so sad to have to withdrawal [sic] from my match this morning. I have been feeling unwell these past few days dealing with a non-COVID related viral illness," Danilovic wrote in an Instagram post. 

"I was really looking forward to playing against Naomi on Arthur Ashe Stadium today, but [it was] not to be this time. 

"I just want to say [a] big thank you to medical staff here [at the] US Open and [to] everyone for your support and I cannot wait to be back in New York at this amazing tournament next year." 

Osaka will face Leylah Fernandez in the third round on Friday after the Canadian beat Kaia Kanepi 7-5 7-5. 

Another of the big names, Simona Halep, also progressed, with the two-time grand slam winner seeing off Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-1. 

Primoz Roglic got himself back into La Roja with a superb effort in stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana.

Two-time defending champion Roglic headed into Wednesday's route trailing general classification leader Odd Christian Eiking by 96 seconds, yet he put himself in a brilliant position to win a third successive Vuelta title.

Egan Bernal, another of the pre-race favourites, attacked with 61km remaining, but his effort was matched by Olympic gold medallist Roglic, who then powered away from the Colombian with 12km to go.

Giro d'Italia champion Bernal could not keep the pace and as Roglic powered away up the final ascent of Lagos de Covadonga, he was swallowed up by the chasing pack in the final kilometre.

Roglic crossed the line well over a minute ahead of Jumbo-Visma team-mate Sepp Kuss and now holds a big advantage over Movistar duo Enric Mas and Miguel Angel Lopez, while Eiking was dropped by the chasing group before he crashed on a descent.

While he will be confident of holding on to defend his title, Roglic knows Thursday's stage – a 162.6km route featuring four climbs – will be crucial.

"In cycling there's always a risk and a lot of things can happen but it went well today. I enjoyed it and it's a super nice day for me and the whole team," he said.

"I just went with [Bernal]. It's a race eh? I didn't think, I just went with him. Then I was thinking 'it's quite far' a little bit. It's still a hard climb at the end. I was going good, it was a real show, real racing.

"I just tried to ride up the climb as fast as possible. At that point Egan didn't follow anymore so I just went alone.

"Tomorrow is a real queen stage coming. We'll see if [my lead] will be enough after tomorrow."

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 04:34:45
2. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +1:35
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 68:42:56
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:22
3. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) +3:11

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 145
3. Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) 123

King of the Mountains

1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 51
2. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 34
3. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 33

What's next?

Thursday's race from Salas to Altu d'El Gamoniteiru really could decide the general classification tussle in Roglic's favour should he triumph. It features two category one climbs, one category two ascent and a summit finish.

A Belgian Grand Prix washout only increased the intrigue in the two biggest battles in Formula One this season ahead of a return to Zandvoort.

The Dutch GP is back on the calendar for the first time since 1985 – when only three drivers on the current grid had been born.

There should be more racing this week than at Spa, where rain wrecked the weekend, and plenty of drama is in store.

The two biggest beneficiaries from the two-lap procession last time out were Max Verstappen and George Russell.

Verstappen closed to within three points of Lewis Hamilton thanks to his position on pole, while Russell claimed a first career podium as he bids to beat Valtteri Bottas to the second Mercedes seat.

Existing Silver Arrows stars Hamilton and Bottas will aim to respond on Sunday, although time may have run out for the Finn to make his mark.

LAST TIME OUT

Verstappen just pipped Russell to pole on Saturday at Spa but could not have known then how crucial that final dash would prove.

Sunday's race was delayed and delayed by awful weather, finally starting under the safety car only for a red flag to bring the drivers in once more.

With two laps fulfilled, it was enough to declare a result, giving Verstappen a precious win and Russell an improbable podium.

Until the Hungarian GP, immediately prior to the mid-season break, Russell's only F1 points had come in Hamilton's Mercedes as a reserve last season.

But an eighth-placed finish was followed by his best result yet, capping a great weekend for Williams, who also had Nicholas Latifi in the points for a second straight race.

Bottas was at Williams, alongside Felipe Massa, the last time they had two drivers do that back in 2016, but the team are eager to see Russell now get his chance at Mercedes.

Toto Wolff confirmed in Belgium the call had been made on their 2022 driver, and Williams team principal Jost Capito told Channel 4 of Russell: "I do not want to hang on to him.

"As he, the driver, can win the championship, he deserves a car that can win the championship, and he can do that in the Mercedes.

"And I am convinced he will come back in a couple of years and win the championship with us."

WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE NETHERLANDS

Some racing would be nice, and Hamilton and Bottas will not be the only men out to make amends.

Lando Norris' crash in qualifying cost him dear as he was unable to recover on race day, finishing 14th to continue a mini-slump after retiring in Hungary.

Focus will again be on the top two and on Russell, though.

With Williams having collected more points from their past two grands prix (20) than their previous 71 (15), he will be eyeing another unlikely challenge.

Russell could become the first Williams driver to claim consecutive podiums since Bottas' three in a row in 2014.

"Obviously off the back of last weekend in Spa, everyone just wants to get racing again and put on a show for all of the supporters at the circuit and for those watching around the world on TV," he said.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Return to form for Ferrari? – Back when Zandvoort was a regular on the F1 calendar, Ferrari registered more wins (eight), fastest laps (10) and podiums (24) than any other team at the Dutch GP.

Max out to make history – Verstappen could become the first Dutch driver ever to celebrate a win in his own country in F1. It would be only the third home Benelux win after Verstappen's triumph in Belgium and Jacky Ickx's 1971 Dutch GP success.

Red Bull front row regulars – After Spa, Red Bull have as many pole positions this season (six) as in the rest of the hybrid era combined. Another would take them level with Lotus on 47 all-time, tied fifth.

Hamilton hunting milestones – Still one win shy of 100 in F1, victory would also see Hamilton become the first driver to 4,000 points and give him his 175th podium.

Another to tick off – Hamilton has wins (29) and pole positions (30) at the most different circuits as he prepares to tackle his 34th. Meanwhile, fellow Zandvoort debutant Fernando Alonso has earned points at each of the prior 32 tracks at which he has appeared.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 202.5
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 199.5
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 113
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 108
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 303
2. Red Bull – 291
3. Ferrari – 163
4. McLaren – 163
5. Alpine – 77

Maverick Vinales will make his Aprilia debut at the Aragon Grand Prix, with the Spaniard replacing Lorenzo Savadori for the rest of the MotoGP season.

Vinales left Monster Energy Yamaha ahead of schedule last month and had two successful test days with Aprilia at Misano this week.

Aprilia on Wednesday revealed that the 26-year-old will line up alongside Aleix Espargaro in the next MotoGP round on home soil this week.

Savadori, who is recovering from the fractured right malleolus he suffered at the Styrian GP, will take part in a selection of wildcards this season and be an Aprilia test rider next year.

Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola said: "We are extremely proud to be able to announce our plans for the current season and for 2022 with the goal of optimising the contributions of our three riders to the utmost.

"Alongside our confirmed rider, Aleix, it is our pleasure to welcome a talented athlete like Maverick to the Aprilia Racing team, who demonstrated a great feeling with the team and the bike straight away and who I am confident will be able to give his best as early as the Aragon GP.

"At the same time, we are also confirming Lorenzo’s role as 2022 test rider.

"This is a fundamental position that rewards the great efforts he has demonstrated in developing the new RS-GP, whereas he will finish out the 2021 season taking advantage of the wildcards that we'll decide on together as soon as he is back to 100 per cent fitness."

Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing technical director, said: "The decision to have Maverick on the track from Aragon is a direct result of the tests done in Misano.

"It was not a given that, after a career spent up to now on a bike with an in-line engine, Maverick would have a good feeling with our V4 straight away. This is why the test on this track, historically not an easy one for our bike, was an important moment of assessment.

"Therefore, we are satisfied with Maverick's immediately positive reactions, which demonstrated a good feeling both with the RS-GP and with the team and our work method.

"His and Aleix's talent, combined with the experience Lorenzo has gained this season, make us optimistic about the future of our MotoGP project."

Shohei Ohtani produced something he had never done before to help the Los Angeles Angels past the New York Yankees 6-4 in MLB on Tuesday.

Favourite to win the American League (AL) MVP this season, two-way Angels star Ohtani stole home for the first time in his four-year career.

Ohtani stole home as part of a double steal in the fifth inning, which saw the Angels produce a three-run rally against the slumping Yankees, who have lost four straight games.

The Japanese sensation leads the majors with 42 homers, while he also has 22 stolen bases.

Ohtani is only the fourth player in AL history with at least 42 home runs and 22 stolen bases in a season, joining Jose Canseco (1988, 1991 and 1998), Alex Rodriguez (1998 and 2007) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1999).

 

Snell sizzles against D-Backs

Blake Snell was dominant as the San Diego Padres blanked the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-0. Snell delivered seven no-hit innings, but San Diego's no-hit bid was ended when the Padres turned to the bullpen. According to Stats Perform, Padres ace Snell is the second starter in the modern era to be removed from the game after throwing 7.0-plus no-hit innings with 10-plus shutouts, following Francisco Cordova in 1997.

The Philadelphia Phillies tallied 18 hits in a rallying 12-6 victory over the Washington Nationals to extend their winning streak to five games. According to Stats Perform, the win marked the sixth occasion this season the Phillies had trailed by three-plus runs against the Nationals and came back to win – tied for the most such victories by any team against any single opponent in a season I the modern era.

The American League (AL) East-leading Tampa Bay Rays celebrated their ninth straight win by downing the Boston Red Sox 8-5.

 

Bogaerts tests positive for COVID-19

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts had to be pulled from the game after testing positive for coronavirus. After hitting an RBI single in the first inning, the Boston star was withdrawn in the second.

The Milwaukee Brewers got on top of San Francisco Giants starter Johnny Cueto in a 6-2 win. Cueto allowed six runs and 10 hits in 3.2 innings.

 

Rosario makes history

Amed Rosario hit an inside-the-park homer to fuel the Cleveland Indians' 7-2 victory at the Kansas City Royals. Rosario became the first player to go five-for-five with five-plus RBIS, an inside-the-park homer and an over-the-fence home run in the same game, per Stats Perform.

 

 

Tuesday's results 

Los Angeles Angels 6-4 New York Yankees
San Diego Padres 3-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Atlanta Braves
Seattle Mariners 4-0 Houston Astros
New York Mets 6-5 Miami Marlins
New York Mets 3-1 Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies 12-6 Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays 8-5 Boston Red Sox
Oakland Athletics 9-3 Detroit Tigers
Texas Rangers 4-3 Colorado Rockies
Chicago Cubs 3-1 Minnesota Twins
Cleveland Indians 7-2 Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox 4-2 Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals-Cincinnati Reds (postponed)

 

Red Sox at Rays

The Rays (84-48) will put their winning run on the line when they face the Red Sox (75-59) again on Wednesday. Chris Sale starts for the Red Sox as the high-flying Rays counter with Drew Rasmussen.

World number one Novak Djokovic is embracing the weight of personal and external expectations in pursuit of history after advancing to the US Open second round.

Djokovic's quest to become only the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and first since 1969 started with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1 victory over Holger Rune on Tuesday.

The Serb star – also looking to win a record 21st men's slam crown, which would break a tie with absent pair Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – made a dominant start before qualifier Rune levelled the match, much to the delight of the Arthur Ashe crowd.

But Rune, who was making his grand-slam main-draw debut, faded dramatically due to cramps as the 18-year-old's worsening physical condition gifted Djokovic the third and fourth sets en route to the second round.

Sympathetic of Rune's situation after the energetic teenager could barely move following the second set tie-break, Djokovic was then asked about his biggest obstacle entering the Flushing Meadows tournament.

"I guess as always you have tons of expectations and pressure from just the whole tennis community, including myself," Djokovic, who is back in New York for the first time since he was sensationally thrown out of the US Open last year after accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball, told reporters.

"Obviously I would like myself to win, to go far, to win the title and make the history. Without a doubt that's something that inspires me.

"But I am focused on trying to be the best version of myself every day. I know it sounds like a cliche, but there is a great power in being present and working on mentally and emotionally being in the moment and trying to handle it in such way that would benefit you."

Djokovic, who will face Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor after improving his US Open record to 16-0 in the opening round, added: "I have my own routines that differs probably from all the other guys. I just try to do things, surround myself with people, have a trajectory and journey in this tournament that suits me, that I know has worked in the past.

"There are things that you can always rely on, go back to when you are experiencing a little bit of a turbulence in terms of emotions on the court or off the court. When it gets too much, then I've developed a mechanism where I feel like I can mentally handle that.

"But it's not a guarantee, right? I do have a formula for many years that has worked well for me, that got me to where I am. At the same time, it's not necessarily a guarantee that it will work every single time.

"Of course, you have to be flexible, open-minded, and rely also on your environment and the people that support you, that are there for you, so they can deflect also some of the things that are coming in off the court that you don't need to think about, handle, and just focus on what matters these few weeks."

Rajon Rondo said "wisdom" is key to winning an NBA championship after he joined a growing list of veterans on the Los Angeles Lakers' roster.

Rondo is back with the Lakers after spending last season split between the Atlanta Hawks and city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

A championship winner with the Lakers in 2019-20, Rondo was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies by the Clippers at the end of the 2020-21 campaign before agreeing a contract buyout and clearing waivers.

With Rondo (35) back at the Staples Center alongside Carmelo Anthony (37), LeBron James (36), Marc Gasol (36), Trevor Ariza (36) and Dwight Howard (35), the Lakers have the oldest team in the NBA this season.

The Lakers also boast former MVP Russell Westbrook (32) following his arrival from the Washington Wizards.

Amid criticism over the age of the team, Rondo told reporters on Tuesday: "Wisdom is definitely key to winning a championship.

"We have a lot of that, obviously, with the age and experience on the court. I'm most excited about not being the oldest guy on the team anymore.

"I'm actually about [fifth oldest] now, so that's a big step for me going from two months ago I was the oldest guy on the team and now I'm one of the young guys."

After ending their 10-year title drought in 2020, the Lakers struggled last season as James and Anthony Davis endured injury problems.

The Lakers finished with a 42-30 win-loss record and stumbled into the play-in tournament before losing to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.

Rondo added: "I'm looking forward to it, looking forward to the naysayers saying our age being a problem, but you don't have longevity in this league without discipline.

"We have guys that have the mileage, but there's a reason they're still playing in this league at this level for so many years. So I'm not worried about anything or the spectators saying age makes a difference.

"I think the mind is going to be a big key in why we win this year."

Novak Djokovic's quest to become only the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam and first to win 21 majors started with a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-1 victory over Holger Rune at the US Open.

Not since Rod Laver in 1969 has a man won all four majors in the same year – Djokovic arrived in New York as the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon champion.

Also eyeing history as the first man to claim 21 slams – currently tied with injured superstars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – Djokovic navigated his passage through to the second round at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.

Danish qualifier Rune was making his grand slam main-draw debut, but the 18-year-old was not overawed under the bright Arthur Ashe lights.

However, Rune faded fast due to apparent cramps as world number one Djokovic eventually cruised through to round two of the year's final major after more than two hours.

Playing for the first time since his Golden Slam bid came unstuck at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Djokovic looked comfortable initially, closing out a merciless opening set with an ace.

Djokovic did not face a break point, boasting 100 percent returns against first serve, barely giving Rune a break.

But that changed in the second set – the energetic Rune winding up the crowd as he raced out to a 3-0 lead before Djokovic swiftly reeled off four consecutive games to move ahead.

Rune, however, capitalised on some uncharacteristic double faults to ultimately level the match in a tie-break, much to the delight of the American crowd.

But that is as good as it got for a frustrated Rune, whose physical conditioning proved his downfall, having gone toe-to-toe with the top seed in a fearless display.

 

Data slam: Djokovic extends US Open streak

Back in New York for the first time since he was sensationally thrown out of the US Open last year after accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball, Djokovic got the job done.

Three-time US Open champion Djokovic now remains unbeaten in opening-round matches at the tournament, with a 16-0 record.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 55/30
Rune – 24/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 17/7
Rune – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 8/14
Rune – 2/3

New York Mets stars Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor apologised after their thumbs-down gesture towards the franchise's own fans.

Baez and Lindor sparked controversy explaining their thumbs-down celebrations were directed at Mets fans amid their boos on Sunday.

The actions were swiftly condemned by Mets president Sandy Alderson and the pair apologised on Tuesday.

"I didn't mean to offend anybody," Baez said. "And if I offended anybody, we apologise."

Baez arrived from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, but the World Series champion and two-time MLB All-Star has struggled to impress in New York, where fans have voiced their dissatisfaction.

The Gold Glove and Silver Slugger hit .210 with four homers and a .709 OPS in 17 games prior to Tuesday.

Booed when he entered as a pinch hitter during the eighth inning of Tuesday's rallying 6-5 win against the Miami Marlins, fans quickly cheered as Baez hit an infield single to trim the deficit in the ninth before dashing home on Michael Conforto's single.

"I might have said something wrong about, 'I was booing the fans'," Baez said. "I really meant, like, 'Boo me now' -- and not to the fans, to our dugout.

"I didn't say the fans are bad. I love the fans. I just felt like we were alone."

Lindor added: "Thumbs down for me means adversity that we have gone through this whole time, the negative things, we overcome it.

"However, it was wrong, and I apologise to whoever I offended. It was not my intent to offend people. I can't go against the fans."

"It's not like I'm sitting at my locker saying, 'Ah, the media here sucks'," Lindor said. "No, I've never said it. The media here is an honest one, and the fans here are honest. … Here, I have a lot of respect for people that are very honest, and they let you know right away.

"As soon as I come down, if I suck or make an error, they let me know. 'You suck'. What can I say? What, am I going to get into an argument? No, that’s not right. I respect people that are honest."

World number one Ash Barty was relieved but happy with her response after surviving a first-round scare against Vera Zvonareva at the US Open.

Barty – the top seed back at Flushing Meadows after skipping the 2020 event due to the coronavirus pandemic – booked her spot in the second round with a 6-1 7-6 (9-7) victory but the Wimbledon champion endured a challenging opener in New York on Tuesday.

Despite firing down 11 aces to improve her WTA Tour-leading tally to 300 in 2021, and hitting 31 winners, veteran Zvonareva was a tricky first-up opponent for Australian star Barty.

A US Open and Wimbledon runner-up in 2010, Zvonareva made life difficult for Barty in the second set, earning a chance to force a decider but the 36-year-old was unable to capitalise at 7-6 in the tie-break.

Afterwards, Barty – who ranks first this season for titles (five), match victories (41), finals reached (six) and top-10 victories (seven) – told reporters: "Obviously a tough one against Vera straight up.

"She's an experienced campaigner. She knows how to get herself into matches. I think all in all, adapting to conditions was a little bit slower than I probably would have liked [but] we're through. We have another chance to improve on that in the next round.

"I think when my back was against the wall late in that buster, I came up with some really good stuff. That's all we can ask is when your back is against the wall, you trust yourself, you go out there and pick your spots and hit them."

Two-time grand slam champion Barty – fresh off winning in Cincinnati as Clara Tauson awaits in round two – added: "It obviously got really tense in that second set - tight - and in the bigger moments I was able to be aggressive and trust myself and that was a massive thing today.

"There were a couple of games where I had lapses in concentration but I was able to come through in straight sets and now we go back to the drawing board, work on a few things and we'll be as happy as Larry.

"I'm certainly happy to be through and playing again here in New York."

 

Alexander Zverev has accused Stefanos Tsitsipas of behaving like a junior and disrespecting his opponents by taking such long bathroom breaks during matches.

Andy Murray was furious when Tsitsipas was off court for around eight minutes ahead of the final set in their thrilling first-round match at the US Open on Monday.

Tsitsipas also required a medical timeout for a foot problem during a pulsating contest that the world number three won 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 at Flushing Meadows.

Murray said he had lost respect for the 23-year-old, who defended his lengthy spell off court and stated he had played by the rules.

The Brit was in no mood to back down on Tuesday, however, as he tweeted: "Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitsipas twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bezos to fly into space. Interesting."

Zverev appeared to accuse Tsitsipas of communicating with his father and coach, Apostolos, when he took a break during their semi-final showdown at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati this month.

Tsitsipas responded by denying having ever used his phone during such a situation, describing the accusation as "absolutely ridiculous."

However, world number four Zverev had Tsitsipas in his sights once again after beating Sam Querrey 6-4 7-5 6-2 in New York.

The German said: "It's happening every match. It's not normal. It happened to me in the French Open, to Novak at the finals [of the] French Open. I think Hamburg against [Filip] Krajinovic he was complaining, against me in Cincinnati was ridiculous, and now here again. I think players are catching up with that.

"He's the number three player in the world. I do not believe he needs to do that, because if you're top three in the world, you're one of the best in the sport.

"These kind of things happen at junior events, at Futures, at Challengers maybe, but not when you're top three in the world.

"You're allowed to do that but it's like an unwritten rule with players. I have been breaking rackets, I go insane sometimes and all that but one thing I'm very proud of, and I'll keep for the rest of my career, is I win and I lose by playing tennis on the tennis court."

Zverev reiterated his grievance with Tsitsipas having taken such a lengthy break during their meeting in Cincinnati.

"I didn't ask that question in Cincinnati, which I was very surprised at, because I was going to answer that very truthfully and honestly," he said.

"He's gone for 10-plus minutes. His dad is texting on the phone. He comes out and all of a sudden his tactic completely changed. It's just not me but everybody saw it. The whole game plan changes.

"I'm like, either it's a very magical place he goes to or there is communication there. But I also don't want to disrespect him. He is a great player, he is number three in the world for a reason. He's winning tournaments and playing incredible tennis this year for a reason, so it's not only that.

"But I do believe, and Andy said it as well, there is some level of respect that everybody needs to have between players.

"I feel like sometimes - or he might just go to the toilet. We don't know that, that's also possible. But it just happens too often, I would say."

Sean Payton has confirmed Jameis Winston has got the nod over Taysom Hill to be the New Orleans Saints' starting quarterback.

Winston has been charged with the task of succeeding future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, who ended his career last season as the all-time leader in passing yards with 80,358.

Hill filled in last season when Brees was absent due to injury and was vying with Winston to start against the Green Bay Packers on September 12.

Saints coach Payton said of Winston on Tuesday: "Both he and Taysom competed their tails off. We feel really good about that (QB) room."

He added: "I can't tell you how much I appreciate how both guys handled it [the battle to be starting QB]."

Payton stated that he has a "clear vision" of how the versatile Hill can help the Saints in the upcoming season.

Winston ended his Tampa Bay Buccaneers career in 2019 with a season that epitomised his frustrating inconsistency.

He led the league in passing yards with 5,109 but became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. His seven picks returned for touchdowns set a league record, too.

It could have been substantially worse for Winston. Per Stats Perform data, he ended the 2019 season with 46 pickable passes, with his interceptable pass percentage of 7.69 the highest of any quarterback with at least 100 attempts.

Meanwhile, Payton says the Saints are prepared for the prospect that they could be forced to operate away from New Orleans for as long as a month due to Hurricane Ida.

He revealed they have explored several college facilities that could be used for off-site preparations for at least four games at the start of the 2021 campaign.

Fabio Jakobsen celebrated his 25th birthday in style as he edged a mass sprint to claim his third stage win of the 2021 Vuelta a Espana.

Tuesday's 180 kilometre stretch from Laredo to Santo Cruz de Bezana was always expected to provide a frantic finish and so it proved.

Deceuninck – Quick Step rider Jakobsen was dropped by the peloton with around 60km remaining, yet recovered brilliantly with the help of his team-mates and launched his sprint to perfection at the end of stage 16.

Jakobsen held off a late surge by UAE-Team Emirates' Matteo Trentin, who eventually finished in third, with Jordi Meeus taking second place.

"A birthday is always a good day but I'm over the moon with this win," Jakobsen said. "I think what we saw today was the Wolfpack. 

"I was dropped on a climb, the guys waited for me and brought me back. I won the race but it was all because of them. 

"The only thing I can do is do a short, fast sprint, and they did everything else today. I'm never confident but I always try – because if you don't try then you never win."

The drama was not just consigned to the finish, as a crash took out 15 riders earlier in the day, including red jersey contenders Enric Mas, Guillaume Martin and Giulio Ciccone.

Trek - Segafredo rider Ciccone, who was positioned 12th overall at the start of the day, attempted to continue but had to withdraw.

There was no change in terms of the general classification standings as Odd Christian Eiking finished safely in the peloton.

With four stages to go ahead of Sunday's conclusion in Santiago de Compostela, Martin trails Eiking by 54 seconds and Primoz Roglic is one minute and 36s behind.

STAGE RESULT

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 04:08:57
2. Jordi Meeus (BORA - hansgrohe) same time
3. Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 64:06:47
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:54
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +1:36

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates) 123
3. Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education–Nippo) 114

King of the Mountains

1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 50 
2. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) 31
3. Rafal Majka (UAE-Team Emirates) 29

What's next?

A whole different challenge awaits on Wednesday with a classic climb of the Lagos de Covadonga. The gruelling stage includes a climb almost 8km long with slopes reaching an inclination of 14 per cent

Cam Newton has been cut by the New England Patriots, according to widespread reports, leaving Mac Jones as the new starting quarterback.

Newton and Jones had appeared in a battle for the starting spot ahead of the 2021 season.

On Sunday, after the Pats' final preseason game against the New York Giants, coach Bill Belichick refused to declare his starter, saying: "We still have decisions to make."

But Newton played just 39 snaps in preseason, also missing five days due to a "misunderstanding" relating to COVID-19 tests. He has now been released.

The decision clears a path for Jones, a first-round pick who led Alabama to the College Football Playoff National Championship this year.

Belichick will hope the 22-year-old can be a long-term replacement for Tom Brady, who left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before last season and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Newton was signed as a free agent to fill the void but completed just 65.8 per cent of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions across 15 regular season games.

Although the 32-year-old did rush for 12 touchdowns – the most since 14 in his rookie year with Carolina Panthers in 2011 – even his underlying numbers through the air were poor.

Newton delivered a well-thrown, accurate ball on 76.1 per cent of his passes while averaging 7.07 air yards, below the 2020 league averages for quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts in both metrics (78.0 per cent and 8.16).

The departing three-time Pro Bowler was still handed a one-year contract ahead of Jones' arrival, but New England have clearly seen enough from the rookie in preseason.

At Alabama, Jones showed himself to be far more effective through the air than the man he will be replacing as starter. His 83.21 well-thrown percentage ranked third in the Power 5 in 2020.

Andy Murray has doubled down on his criticism of Stefanos Tsitsipas by joking that his US Open conqueror's bathroom breaks take twice as long as Jeff Bezos' trips to space.

World number three Tsitsipas beat Murray 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a thrilling five-set battle in the opening round at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

The opening-day showdown was overshadowed by Tsitsipas' controversial bathroom break ahead of the decisive fifth set – the Greek star spending around eight minutes off court, much to the frustration of Murray.

Tsitsipas also required a medical timeout for an apparent foot problem after losing the third set to 2012 champion Murray, who was far from impressed following almost five hours of action.

Speaking after the match, Murray – who failed to progress beyond the first round of the US Open for the first time in 15 appearances – said he had lost respect for Tsitsipas and suggested his opponent had deliberately attempted to disrupt his flow. 

Tsitsipas defended his lengthy break, insisting he had played by the rules and that he would speak to Murray face-to-face should the Briton wish to take the issue further.

Rather than resolving the matter, however, Murray aimed another dig at Tsitsipas with a sarcastic message on his personal Twitter account on Tuesday, comparing the stoppage to the 10 minutes and 10 seconds it took billionaire Bezos to fly to space last month.

"Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitipas (sic) twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bazos (sic) to fly into space. Interesting," he posted.

With the win over Murray, Tsitsipas became the 10th active player to defeat all four members of the 'Big Four' – Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Tsitsipas will meet world number 44 Adrian Mannarino in the second round on Wednesday.

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