San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. put on a show with a memorable grand slam in a Spring Training win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Tatis is fresh off signing a record-setting extension with the Padres last month – an eye-popping 14-year, $340million contract, which is the longest deal in MLB history and also the largest contract awarded to a player not yet eligible for arbitration.

MLB's new poster boy and the generational superstar teased what is to come in 2021 with a grand slam in the second inning of Tuesday's victory against the Diamondbacks.

Tatis sent the ball 441 feet to left field at Salt River Fields – a home run that went viral on social media.

"Hit it about as clean as you can hit a ball," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said of Tatis, who hit his first career grand slam against the Texas Rangers last season. "That was really, really good to see."

Tatis, who flipped his bat in celebration, also singled in the first inning and then stole second as Trent Grisham was allowed to sprint home.

"Had a couple good defensive plays, great at-bats, did something on the bases," Tingler said. "That's everything you want to see."

Tatis won a Silver Slugger award last season, having hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

The powerful 22-year-old is the first player in MLB history to have at least 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases within the first 150 games of his career.

Tatis packs a punch with the bat – he led the majors in average exit velocity (95.9 mph), hard hit percentage (62.2), and balls hit 95-plus MPH (102).

He also enjoyed a remarkable rise defensively following an erratic rookie season at shortstop.

Tatis went from minus-13 outs above average (OAA) to plus-seven – his plus-20 improvement the largest of any player across that period.

When it comes to on-base plus slugging, Tatis stacks up well. Since 1920, Tatis (150.8) is only behind Juan Soto (153.9 – 2018-20), Albert Pujols (159.3 – 2001), Jimmie Foxx (160.0 – 1925-29), Ted Williams (161.5 – 1939-40) and Mike Trout (165.0 – 2011-13) for highest OPS-plus up until the age of 21.

Using the same timeframe, but for wins above replacement (WAR) among shortstops, Tatis (5.6) ranks ninth. Alex Rodriguez is top (13.6 – 1994-97).

The Minnesota Vikings terminated the contract of two-time NFL Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph after 10 seasons.

Minnesota released veteran tight end Rudolph, who was selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old was set for the second season of a four-year, $36million deal, but Rudolph is headed for free agency for the first time in his career as the Vikings save more than $5m in cap space.

"I got so lucky, because -- I didn't just get drafted by some team who 'had a need at tight end,' Rudolph wrote in a story published by The Players' Tribune.

"I didn't just get drafted as, like, the nameless, faceless '#1 tight end on the board.' I got drafted by a team that was all set in terms of need ... but then drafted me anyway.

"I'll always remember that: how the Minnesota Vikings wanted me -- and wanted to bet on my potential."

In his time with the Vikings, Rudolph started 132 of 140 games, tallying 453 catches for 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns – all those numbers in the top 10 in franchise history.

Rudolph's touchdowns are the most for a Vikings tight end in their history, while his catches and yards only trail Steve Jordan.

A Pro Bowler in 2012 and 2017, Rudolph had 28 receptions, 334 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings last season.

"Kyle has been a leader and mentor for us on and off the field from the first day I arrived in Minnesota," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said in a statement.

"He has been such an important part of this team and community throughout his career and it has been an honour to coach him the last seven seasons. He will be missed, and we wish him and his family nothing but the best."

Andrey Rublev will face Andy Murray at the Rotterdam Open after the Russian battled past Marcos Giron 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

The appetising showdown between Rublev and former world number one Murray was handed a primetime evening slot on Wednesday's schedule by tournament organisers, given the appeal of a clash between one of the ATP Tour's brightest younger stars and the three-time grand slam winner.

World number eight Rublev is, at the age of 23, among the band of players who have emerged as potential torchbearers for the men's tour once the likes of Murray and the big three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic make way.

After wildcard Murray's win over Robin Haase on Monday, Rublev secured victory on Tuesday against 80th-ranked Giron, who earned his place in the ATP 500 tournament through qualifying.

Murray and Rublev have played only once before, in entirely different circumstances to those surrounding Wednesday's match. That previous encounter came at the Australian Open in 2017, with Murray, then ranked number one in the world, scorching to a 6-3 6-0 6-2 win in round two.

The Scot has since undergone major surgery on a hip problem that has threatened to end his career, and heads into his clash with Rublev ranked 123rd in the world but eager to show he can compete at a high level.

"Andy is a true legend and I have a really good connection with him. I really like him as a person and as a player. He destroyed me once in the past. I'm sure we'll have great, long rallies and it will be a fight," Rublev said, quoted via the ATP website.

Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas passed his first-round test by scoring a narrow win over a player that beat Murray in Montpellier last week – the second seed and world number six overcoming Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 7-6 (7-4) 7-5.

The tournament lost a three-time grand slam champion when Stan Wawrinka was edged out 6-4 7-5 by Russian Karen Khachanov in a tough first-round matchup for the Swiss, who sits just one place above the Russian at number 20 in the world rankings.

Alex de Minaur beat fellow Australian John Millman 6-1 6-4, while top seed Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev begins his challenge on Wednesday when he tackles Serbian Dusan Lajovic.

Madison Keys is intent on giving Maria Sakkari a second-round test after marking her first WTA Tour appearance since September with a clinical win at the Qatar Open.

American world number 19 Keys, who reached the US Open final in 2017, had not played on tour since losing to Zhang Shuai in the first round of the French Open in late September – she was ruled out of the Australian swing of this season after a positive coronavirus test.

But Keys roared back to action with a thumping 6-4 6-1 victory over Belinda Bencic on Tuesday, the Swiss who last week reached the Adelaide International final.

"I'm really happy with how I came out and played today," Keys said. "I'm a little bit surprised with myself but hoping to keep the momentum going."

Sakkari promises to pose a tricky test for Keys, who is unseeded this week, given the Greek player dropped only three games in her opening win over Mayar Sherif and has shown bright early-season form.

World number 23 Elena Rybakina tripped up in the first round after the Moscow-born Kazakh player lost 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5) to Germany's 56th-ranked Laura Siegemund at the WTA Premier event.

Jessie Pegula, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ons Jabeur and Misaki Doi also scored straight-sets victories in Doha.

At the Lyon Open, French players Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic were both pushed to three sets before inking their places in the last 16.

Third seed Garcia edged compatriot Oceane Dodin 6-2 2-6 6-3, while fourth seed Mladenovic scrambled for a 5-7 7-5 6-2 win over Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard, in on a wildcard, was bounced out 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 by Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the world number 96 from Belarus.

J.J. Watt said all signs kept pointing towards the Arizona Cardinals after joining the NFL franchise in free agency.

Watt signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals following his release by the Houston Texans in February.

The three-time Pro Bowler, who was drafted by the Texans in 2011, was linked with the likes of the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers.

But Watt opted to make the move to Arizona, where the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year will reportedly earn $31million.

"I give them credit; they attacked from all angles," Watt told reporters during his introductory news conference on Tuesday.

"There was, I think, [general manager] Steve [Keim] and [owner] Michael [Bidwill] and everybody did a great job of, I mean, there were players, there were coaches, there were non-football people whatsoever that reached out and were in my ear and trying to convince me to come down here and tell me all the great things about it, and not only on the field but sending me pictures of Paradise Valley and everything off the field as well.

"So, their recruiting pitch was strong and heavy, but, at the end of the day, I told my wife, you know all signs just kind of kept pointing back down here to Arizona, and in my short time here on the ground, I can tell you that I'm absolutely pleased and couldn't be happier with my decision."

Watt is Houston's all-time leader for sacks (101), including posting 20.5 in the 2012 season as he was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year for the first time. 

The 31-year-old went on to win the honour in both 2014 and 2015, while he has also been named first-team All-Pro on five occasions, most recently in 2018. 

Watt has endured injury issues in his career, though he played in all 16 games this past season, logging 52 tackles, five sacks and one interception. 

He will now team up with star Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who guided Arizona to an 8-8 record in the NFC West last season.

"It's pretty wild now to be on the same team," Watt said. "But, yeah, I've obviously seen his career. He's had an unbelievable career. He's an incredible athlete, and what he's been able to accomplish, he's been a winner at every stage of his life, and that's not a coincidence.

"You're a winner because of the way that you work and because of the aura that you give off and because of the talent that you have, and I think that he has all those things and he's going to continue to win and continue to have success."

Toto Wolff admitted Max Verstappen is a driver who will be "on everybody's radar" but has vowed Mercedes will not rush to seduce the Red Bull star.

Mercedes team principal Wolff will be aware that reports have linked Verstappen with a possible future move to the Silver Arrows, possibly as a long-term replacement for Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.

For now, though, Hamilton is going nowhere, having signed a contract for the upcoming 2021 season, and the British driver may yet remain for years to come.

After landing a seventh drivers' title last year to match Michael Schumacher's F1 record, there is no driver that Mercedes would take above Hamilton in the present time.

Wolff said: "The symbiosis that we have in the relationship, it's always that we have a mutual understanding of what we want to do in the future. That will be also the case in the discussions with Lewis going forward.

"Max is certainly an outstanding young driver that will be on everybody's radar in the future, but we are not flirting outside before we have a clear understanding with our two drivers."

Verstappen has finished third in the championship in each of the last two seasons, with the 23-year-old winning races at Silverstone and Abu Dhabi during the 2020 campaign.

He tallied 214 points to finish just nine points behind Mercedes' runner-up Valtteri Bottas in the championship.

Quoted widely after Mercedes unveiled their new W12 car on Tuesday, Wolff underlined how Mercedes are not blinkered about the team's future and the potential for a change of direction.

Bottas is also due to reach the end of his contract after the new campaign, meaning Mercedes currently have flexibility should they wish to reshape their driver line-up for 2022 and beyond.

"Our first discussions are going to be with Valtteri and Lewis in respecting our values, integrity and loyalty - but on the other side the young drivers are the future," Wolff said.

"Therefore we need to consider how we want to set ourselves up for the years beyond."

World Rugby has declared this year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand should be postponed to 2022, dealing a major blow to the women's game.

Citing "uncertain and challenging" conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, World Rugby said it would not be possible to suitably stage an event of such scale.

Its recommendation will be put to the Rugby World Cup board and World Rugby's executive committee on March 8 and 9 but seems certain to be passed.

In a statement, the governing body said: "World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand from September 18 to October 16, until next year.

"While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family."

It is clear World Rugby has made the recommendation to stave off the possibility of the tournament going ahead in difficult, sterile conditions.

New Zealand as a nation has achieved low instances of COVID-19, in a large part because of strict border controls.

World Rugby said: "It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.

"The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions."

Ireland hosted the last Rugby World Cup for women in 2017, with New Zealand beating England in the final, giving the Black Ferns a fifth victory in the last six editions of the tournament.

Undefeated world champions Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez will meet to decide the undisputed light-welterweight king in Las Vegas on May 22.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) added the WBA belt to his IBF crown when he beat Regis Prograis via majority decision in the thrilling October 2019 World Boxing Super Series final.

The Scottish southpaw made short work of Apinun Khongsong in his first defence, stopping the challenger with a brutal first-round body shot.

American Ramirez (26-0 17 KOs) was, like Taylor, a 2012 Olympian but boasts more experience in the professional ranks.

He consolidated the WBC title by stopping then-WBO ruler Maurice Hooker inside six rounds in July 2019.

A points win over one-time Taylor victim Viktor Postol last August kept those belts in Ramirez's possession and it means all four of the major titles in the division will be on the line when the fighters meet in under three months' time.

"I'm excited it's finalised and over the line," Taylor said. "I can't wait to get in there for the biggest fight of my career.

"Fighting for the undisputed title is something all boxers dream about."

Ramirez added he is confident he can make history for a boxer of Mexican lineage, with undisputed status similarly a target for Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez at super-middleweight this year.

"I look forward to making history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to hold all four major world title belts," he said.

Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank hailed "a true 50-50 fight" that "the fans and both fighters demanded".

The Chicago Bears need a new quarterback.

One of the better all-round rosters in the NFL once again suffered frustration in 2020.

A second consecutive 8-8 season was enough to creep into the expanded playoffs, but a tame 21-9 Wild Card defeat to the New Orleans Saints soon followed.

Mitchell Trubisky started the season at QB, and later regained his place after being benched in place of trade arrival Nick Foles, who also underwhelmed.

Ultimately, despite a late flurry from Trubisky, neither QB could propel the Bears into contention in the NFC North, which was dominated by the Green Bay Packers. A meaningful postseason run never looked likely because of those limitations under center.

Head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace know their jobs likely hang in the balance based on how they fare in 2021, with their ability to find a solution at the game's most important position crucial to the Bears’ prospects of success next season.

Here we have looked at some of the best Stats Perform data from their 2020 season to determine whether taking that next step is possible.

Offense

Despite being a playoff team, only six teams had a worse yards per game total than the Bears on offense (331.4), while 23.3 points per game was better than just nine franchises.

The Bears’ rushing offense was 25th in the NFL (102.9 yards per game), while 228.4 net passing yards per game was good for the 22nd best mark and 5.62 yards per passing play had them ranked 26th.

Continuing the trend of bottom-half offensive statistics, Chicago averaged 27.4 yards in their big passing plays of 20+ yards – the worst in the NFL - and only seven teams produced fewer than their 42 in that category.

Any struggles in the passing game cannot really be put on the two quarterbacks’ supporting cast. Bears receivers only dropped 12 of 414 catchable passes this season, an impressive rate second only to the Arizona Cardinals (nine from 296) in the league.

Fifth-round draft pick Darnell Mooney looked a steal as he registered 61 catches in 631 yards in support of Allen Robinson, who passed 100 catches (102) for the first time in his NFL career.

But generally this was an offense lacking dynamism despite the past success of Nagy offenses.

Aside from their passing problems, more could have been expected from the rushing game and a once dominant offensive line.

Running back David Montgomery had the fourth-most rushing attempts in the NFL (247) but just the 14th-most rushes of 10+ yards (24) and the 46th highest yards per carry (4.33) average.

Montgomery had a steady but unspectacular 1.8 yards after first contact, 34th in the league among rushers who had at least 50 attempts.

He also had 11 broken tackles, breaking a tackle on 4.4 per cent of plays (the 15th highest percentage in the league), though he did add 54 catches through the air. 

As a team, the 40 rushes of 10+ yards was only 25th in the league, so not much was working on this side of the ball.

Defense

The Bears still had a strong defense, though the unit fell short of the peak play it has produced in years gone by.

They ranked 11th in yardage (344.9), 14th in points allowed (23.1) and 12th in scoring efficiency, allowing 68 scoring drives out of 179.

Opponents tallied 5.41 yards per play (11th), while 18 takeaways put them in a tie for 15th, so they were in the top half of the league in all key metrics.

A sack total of 35, though, was 17th in the NFL.

Khalil Mack posted below 10 sacks (9.0) and 15 QB hits (13) for a second straight year, having not done so in either category in four years between 2015 and 2018.

But that is a reflection of the Bears front seven looking like it needs an infusion of youth, rather than an alarming drop off from Mack. Robert Quinn (2.0 sacks, 6 QB hits) had a quiet year rushing the passer opposite Mack.

The secondary, led by Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson, allowed 10 big play TDs (tied for 14th) and 59 total big plays (16th).

Offseason

Trubisky is out of contract and a return has not been ruled out, while Foles has two years left. But if either of those players are starting at QB then it is hard to see the Bears challenging.

Potential trade options Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz have already found new teams. With the Bears picking in the bottom half of the draft and the cupboard relatively bare in terms of remaining free agent options, Pace is going to have to pull something special out of the bag at QB.

Beyond that critical position, number one wide receiver Robinson is set to hit free agency and is among the NFL's most interesting names to watch after racking up 200 catches and 2,397 receiving yards over the past two years.

The Bears have the franchise tag at their disposal, so could get extra time to work out a long-term deal or consider a tag-and-trade if Robinson expresses a desire to depart.

Chicago enter the offseason approximately $2million over the estimated cap ($185m), putting them around the middle of the league.

They will likely have some room for manoeuvre without being able to embark on a significant free agency splurge.

Having not picked in the first round since 2018, several areas of the roster are in need of attention in addition to the drama at QB. Despite the stellar play of Mack, trading for him has not produced the desired results.

With those issues to overcome at a time when Aaron Rodgers' play is putting divisional rivals Green Bay up there with the NFC's best, the Bears find themselves in an undesirable position.

Lewis Hamilton says his decision to only sign a one-year contract with Mercedes should not cause concern as he prioritises his drive for more diversity in Formula One.

It took until February before seven-time world champion Hamilton and Mercedes finally announced they had come to terms on a new contract.

The agreement was only for 2021, the last season before sweeping regulation changes come into the sport.

Hamilton, 36, insists there should be no doubts over his commitment.

The Briton also spoke of his passion to fight for change and equality in F1 and wider society.

That will serve as his main focus in a year where he could surpass Michael Schumacher outright with an eighth title.

"I'm kind of in a fortunate position where I've achieved most of the stuff I wanted to achieve up until this point, so there's no real need necessarily to plan too far ahead in the future," Hamilton said at the launch of Mercedes' new W12 car.

"I'm fully invested in this season and delivering. I still love what I do.

"We're living through an unusual period of time in life and I just wanted one year. Then we can talk about if we do more, and keep adding it [by] one if we have to.

"I chose to have a one-year deal, so I can see where we are at. It doesn't mean I'm not committed.

"What I'm really focused on - there was a lot of discussion around the diversity issue, what is important is that we are delivering."

Hamilton added: "I'm really proud of my team, I'm already seeing steps to see that progress. That's my driving force to make sure we continue to push for accountability.

"The main priority for 2021 - in the past it was about just winning championships. But now it's really pushing for making real change.

"Last year there was discussion about equality and inclusion and there was a lot of talk this year about pushing for diversity and really making sure that action is taken.

"That's at the core of the drive for me, but of course we exist to win. That is what all these guys and girls here are working towards, so that's my goal to deliver it for them."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff echoed the comments of Hamilton and is not concerned about the short deal.

Wolff said: "No doubt about his commitment. First of all, he enjoys racing a lot. We enjoy working with each other and we discussed that a lot.

"But he’s absolutely right. The times change, new priorities for all of us in terms of the way we live, our health, he is very passionate about his initiatives against racism and inequality.

"Then we have this massive regulatory change in 2022 that is going to reshape what Formula One will be.

"I don't think this will play a role, but I think it's fair for a driver who has won seven championships to have the flexibility to decide what he wants to do in future.

"We have agreed that we want to pick up the discussions much earlier this year to avoid a situation like we had in 2020, to run out of time and be in the uncomfortable position that we have no time left before the beginning of the season."

The 2021 season is scheduled to get under way with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.

It was a memorable season for the Green Bay Packers, but one that ultimately ended similarly to the last.

The Packers went down to a frustrating NFC Championship Game defeat to eventual champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one year on from losing at the same stage to the San Francisco 49ers.

In between those events, Aaron Rodgers put together a sensational season to be named NFL MVP for the third time.

Rodgers responded perfectly to the Packers trading up and drafting his potential replacement, Jordan Love, in the first round of the 2020 draft, puzzlingly eschewing the help at wide receiver he appeared to need.

Consecutive 13-3 seasons under Matt LaFleur are to be applauded.

But one Super Bowl ring seems an unfair return for a quarterback of Rodgers’ quality, so it is time for the Packers front office to do more to get him over the hump as his career enters its latter years.

We have used Stats Perform data to scrutinise how they might go about doing it on the evidence of their 2020 campaign.

Offense

Led by a remarkable season from Rodgers, who threw for a career-high 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions, the Green Bay offense was rolling.

There were calls ahead of the season for further receiving threats to be brought in to complement number one option Davante Adams.

While those did not arrive, passing to the first-team All-Pro was a cheat code in 2020, with Adams racking up 115 catches, 1,374 yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns in 14 regular season games.

The Packers were ninth with 256.6 net passing yards per game, but that figure came with them having the least attempts (526) of any top-10 passing offense, suggesting they often had much more in the tank if it was needed.

Similar can be said for their 57 completions of 20+ yards, which ranked ninth in the league. When Rodgers did go deep, they were highly effective and the average yards gained on those throws was 33.1, third best in the NFL.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling emerged as an impressive deep threat, averaging 44.8 yards per catch on the 10 of those 20+ yard plays he accounted for. His overall record of 20.9 yards per reception from 33 catches was the NFL's best.

The Packers' run game was strong, with 134.2 yards per game good for eighth in the NFL, while they were 16th for runs of 10+ yards with 49 such plays. Running backs contributed in the pass game too, with only Adams and tight end Robert Tonyan having more catches for the team than Aaron Jones' 47.

There may still be calls for Rodgers to be handed a stronger supporting cast, but after such an impressive year they may not be as loud this offseason, with attention perhaps better focused on other areas of the roster.

Defense

The Packers' defense was better than average in 2020 and, with a rampant Rodgers leading the offense, a defensive unit like that is all you need to contend.

In terms of headline numbers, they were ninth in yards allowed (334) and 13th in points allowed (23.1). The pass defense was seventh in yards per game (221), while they were 13th against the run.

Green Bay registered 41 sacks (10th), allowed 5.49 yards per play (14th) and their opponents’ scoring efficiency was 16th in the NFL, so you need to dive deeper to before finding anything alarming.

One area for improvement is the need for more game-changing plays. The Packers had 18 takeaways, putting them in a tie for 25th, while they only forced 26 rushing plays to result in negative yardage (tied for 28th).

A bend but do not break defensive strategy appears to have largely fared well, but playmakers can change those one-off postseason games where the margins are so fine, and the Packers do not have too many of those.

On the plus side, the defense allowed just 48 big plays of 20+ yards (third in the NFL).

However, nine of those went for TDs and Green Bay fans will not forget cornerback Kevin King's struggles against the Bucs in a hurry.

Pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith was not as productive as last year but still registered team-leading figures of 12.5 sacks, 12 TFL and 23 QB hits.

He could do with improved support up front, while the spot opposite lockdown cornerback Jaire Alexander looks like one which could do with reinforcing.

On the whole, there is room for improvement but a solid base to build from.

Offseason

Green Bay are not flush with cash as they enter the offseason around $4.5million over the estimated cap ($185m).

On the plus side, they do not have too many top contributors hitting free agency.

Retaining or replacing one of the NFL's top centers, Corey Linsley, is a key priority.

Both running backs, Jones and Jamaal Williams, are also poised to hit the market, so it may be difficult to retain both of them, especially if they want to justify drafting AJ Dillon in round two a year ago. He only played 97 offensive snaps in the regular season.

King did his free agency hopes few favours in the playoffs, while offensive line may be an area of focus after the departure of tackle Rick Wagner, who played in every game and started nine.

In terms of incomings, with limited funds Green Bay will need to pick their spots but will know a star veteran could make all the difference.

With Rodgers in fine fettle and with LaFleur overseeing a team proven to be contenders, you can expect them to be connected with any high-profile free agents who hit the open market.

That has already been the case with recently released Houston Texans icon J. J. Watt, who ultimately joined the Arizona Cardinals.

After his heroics last year, Pack fans will think any impactful signings the front office can make will be a deserving reward for Rodgers, who is back at the top of his game.

Johnny Sexton will continue to strut his stuff for Ireland and Leinster after signing a one-year contract extension to the end of the 2021-22 season.

The 35-year-old laid to rest speculation over his immediate future as he agreed a longer deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) on Tuesday.

Sexton, the 2018 World Player of the Year, is Ireland's captain and talisman, with the fly-half in no rush to hang up his boots. 

"I am really enjoying my rugby and I want to keep learning and adding value to both the Ireland and Leinster environments," he said. 

"I am enjoying the challenge of captaincy and the added responsibility that it brings. My appetite for success is the same as it ever was and the ambitions of both the Ireland and Leinster squads match my own."

Sexton's impressive list of honours includes three Six Nations titles with his country, for whom he was won 97 caps, and four European Cups with Leinster. 

Ireland's 2021 Six Nations campaign started with back-to-back loss against Wales and France before Saturday's thrashing of Italy.

Reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar has signed a contract extension to stay at UAE Team Emirates until 2026.

The 22-year-old, then 21, became the youngest Tour winner in 116 years with a thrilling triumph in September, overhauling fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic in the individual time trial in the penultimate day of the race.

And Pogacar will continue to ride for UAE Team Emirates after committing his future to the outfit.

The deal was announced after Pogacar claimed his first victory of the season at the UAE Tour.

"I feel at home in this team – there is a special atmosphere between the management, riders and staff and it's a good environment to be in," he said.

"The team shows a lot of trust and confidence in me, which I am thankful for, and I work hard to show that when I'm racing alongside my team-mates.

"I hope we can have many more successful seasons together in the years ahead."

Reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar has signed a contract extension to stay at UAE Team Emirates until 2026.

The 22-year-old, then 21, became the youngest Tour winner in 116 years with a thrilling triumph in September, overhauling fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic in the individual time trial in the penultimate day of the race.

And Pogacar will continue to ride for UAE Team Emirates after committing his future to the outfit.

The deal was announced after Pogacar claimed his first victory of the season at the UAE Tour.

"I feel at home in this team – there is a special atmosphere between the management, riders and staff and it's a good environment to be in," he said.

"The team shows a lot of trust and confidence in me, which I am thankful for, and I work hard to show that when I'm racing alongside my team-mates.

"I hope we can have many more successful seasons together in the years ahead."

Joel Embiid felt he "dominated" Myles Turner once more as he boosted his Defensive Player of the Year hopes in the Philadelphia 76ers' win against the Indiana Pacers.

Embiid posted 24 points, five assists and 13 rebounds – all on the defensive end – as the Sixers raced to a 130-114 victory, improving to 23-12 at the top of the East.

It was a fourth defeat in a row for the Pacers and a punishing night for center Turner, who had promised to "step up to the challenge" of taking on MVP contender Embiid.

Turner is now 4-7 against Embiid in their career regular-season matchups, only once surpassing 11 points – his contribution on Monday – across those 11 games (25 points in March 2018).

By contrast, Embiid has averaged 28 points against the Pacers and enjoyed two of his 12 career 40-point games in meetings with Turner.

"He's a great player and I have a lot of respect for him," Embiid said of Turner, who joined the NBA the year before him.

"I say this respectfully: that's a matchup that I have dominated since I got to the league."

While Embiid looks to be going toe-to-toe with LeBron James for the MVP award, he says a DPOY challenge is also on the cards.

Rudy Gobert is widely considered the leading candidate for the outstanding Utah Jazz, topping the charts for defensive rebounds with 9.9 per game, Turner has been mooted as an alternative.

He has a sublime 3.4 blocks per game – well clear of second-placed Gobert's 2.8 – but could not live with Embiid, who averages 9.2 defensive rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals.

"[Turner] is a great defender," Embiid said. "He leads the league in blocks, he should be up there for Defensive Player of the Year, and that's also one of my goals.

"In those types of matchups, that's where you've got to take advantage. Especially if I have my eyes set on being the Defensive Player of the Year."

James Harden produced a triple-double as the Brooklyn Nets survived in overtime to claim a 124-113 win over the San Antonio Spurs on the road.

The Nets led by 10 points late in the game, but the Spurs forced overtime after the returning Kyrie Irving missed a lay-up and guard Dejounte Murray scored after falling to his knees on the transition.

But Brooklyn steadied the ship in overtime, with Harden finishing with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 15 assists, with good support from Irving (27 points) and Bruce Brown Jr. (23 points).

Zion Williamson scored 15 of his 26 points for the game in the third quarter as the New Orleans Pelicans toppled Western Conference leaders Utah Jazz 129-124.

The former number one pick's third quarter output was the second best of his career to date.

 

Doncic delights, Jokic goes big

Luka Doncic was one assist shy of a triple-double as he led the Dallas Mavericks to a 130-124 victory over the Orlando Magic, who have lost four in a row.

The in-form Slovenian All-Star finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Mavs, while Nikola Vucevic did his best for Orlando, with 29 points, 15 boards and eight assists.

Bojan Bogdanovic (31 points) was nailing three-pointers for fun for the Jazz, but the Pelicans' third quarter was the difference, piling on 40 points to 24.

Big Serbian Nikola Jokic posted 39 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists as the Denver Nuggets beat the Chicago Bulls for the eighth straight time 118-112.

Joel Embiid put up 24 points as the Philadelphia 76ers got past the Indians Pacers 130-114.

No launch for Rockets

The Houston Rockets suffered their 12th consecutive defeat, going down 101-90 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The result leaves the Rockets heading towards the foot of the table with a 11-22 record, including nine defeats at home.

 

Downtown Trail Blazers

Carmelo Anthony posted a season-high 29 points which included six three-pointers in the Portland Trail Blazers' 123-111 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Anthony's six three-pointers helped the Trail Blazers set a new franchise record for most in one game, finishing with 24.

Monday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 130-114 Indiana Pacers
Dallas Mavericks 130-124 Orlando Magic
Denver Nuggets 118-112 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 129-124 Utah Jazz
Brooklyn Nets 124-113 San Antonio Spurs (OT)
Cleveland Cavaliers 101-90 Houston Rockets
Portland Trail Blazers 123-111 Charlotte Hornets

 

Playoffs contenders face off

There are three clashes between top contenders on Tuesday, led by the Los Angeles Lakers (24-11) and Phoenix Suns (22-11) meeting, along with the San Antonio Spurs-New York Knicks and Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Clippers clashes.

Zion Williamson's 15-point third quarter in Monday's shock win over the Utah Jazz was "incredible" according to New Orleans Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy, who again called on the referees to give him more protection.

The former number one draft pick was integral to the Pelicans' 129-124 victory over the Western Conference leaders, finishing with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists.

Utah pulled to within one point with 45 seconds to go before Williamson was ice cool with two free-throws.

The Pelicans got the jump in the third, when they outscored Utah 40-24 and opened up an 11-point buffer at the last change, led by Williamson with his second most prolific quarter in his NBA career to date.

"The third quarter was incredible," Van Gundy told reporters about 20-year-old Williamson post-game.

"They did a much better job on him in the fourth. In the third quarter he was overwhelming."

The Pelicans improved to a 15-19 record with the win to stay in the playoffs hunt and Williamson said it was all about their "want".

"We've found ourselves in situations like this all the time," Williamson told Fox post-game after trailing by five at half-time.

"It's a matter of want. Tonight we wanted it more. We came out with better energy in the third and got the win."

Meanwhile, Van Gundy once again lamented the lack of calls that Williamson was receiving from the officials, having made the same point after their loss to the Milwaukee Bucks recently.

"Some day he's going to start to get the calls he deserves to get," the Pelicans coach said.

"Any game he's not shooting 10 free-throws or more, I'm guaranteeing they're missing some calls."

Three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray revealed he deleted his social media apps after being inspired by The Social Dilemma documentary, rather than constant abuse he receives about retiring.

The 33-year-old claimed his first ATP Tour victory in six months on Monday, winning 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 over fellow wildcard Robin Haase in just under two and a half hours at the Rotterdam Open.

The past few years for Murray, who missed last month's Australian Open after testing positive to COVID-19, have seen him battle hip issues, before getting a metal cap inserted to strengthen the area.

Since then, the Scot been unable to reach the levels that previously saw him win major titles and be world number one, leading to constant calls for him to retire, particularly on social media.

"Actually, I deleted it, I don't have Twitter on my phone and I deleted Instagram last week, not because of that [the retirement comments]," Murray said.

"You see those things on Instagram and social media if you're on it, obviously and if you have the app on your phone but I'd watched a while ago that Social Dilemma movie.

"I thought it was brilliant and then actually, a couple of days after my match last week I watched an interview with all the people that were responsible for making that and I was like, 'Yeah, I’m done'. I deleted that off my phone but yes, it's tough."

Murray admitted his return from his injury battles had been physically taxing, while the mental toll had not been easy to handle either.

However, he felt he performed well enough to offer him no genuine reason to want to retire from the Tour.

"Since I came back and started playing with the metal hip, I’ve beaten some pretty good players," he said.

"I beat Stan [Wawrinka], I beat [Matteo] Berrettini, I beat [Alex] Zverev. I served for the match against [Fabio] Fognini. These are top players that I was playing against and competing well against and physically now I'm in a better place than I was then.

"I've put in a lot of good physical work since then so why should I stop because I lost a match last week against someone [Egor Gerasimov] that people would expect me to win against.

"Everyone out there can play and because I'm not on the top of my game just now, and once I get there I believe I'll win matches more competitively.

"Why should I stop? Tell me a good reason for why I should stop playing. I can still compete with the best players in the world with one hip. I think that's quite amusing really."

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