Thomas Detry is on course to secure a place at The Open after maintaining a share of the lead after the third round of the Scottish Open.

Detry followed a 66 and a 65 during the previous two days with a three-under-par 68, moving him to 14 under for the tournament with 18 holes go.

The Belgian has Matt Fitzpatrick for company at the top of the leaderboard but is within touching distance of sealing a place at Royal St George's next week.

Spots at The Open will be given to the top three players at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick who have not already earned exemptions.

Detry put himself in prime position to take one with a round that featured an eagle at the par-four fifth, which came after he sent his tee shot onto the green.

He also produced an outstanding up and down at the 17th to save par, a magnificent chip from well off the green helping him find the hole in three strokes despite a significantly wayward tee shot.

Jon Rahm is a shot adrift on the back of a third-round 69, while Lucas Herbert is firmly in contention having surged up the leaderboard with a 64.

The Australian carded six birdies and an eagle on the 16th to move to 12 under through 54 holes.

Wade Ormsby and Lee Min Woo are in the final two Open qualification spots having ended the third day in a three-way tie for fifth on 11 under.

Marcus Smith has been called up to the British and Irish Lions squad for their tour of South Africa, as Finn Russell struggles with an Achilles tendon injury.

Fly-half Smith, 22, helped Harlequins to the Premiership title this season and made his England debut against the United States last week.

He followed up his international bow with a superb showing in a 70-14 demolition of Canada on Saturday, kicking nine conversions.

After impressing at Twickenham, Smith – following coronavirus testing – will be heading to South Africa to join up with the Lions, who faced the Sharks on Saturday in their third match of the tour, with the three-Test series against the Springboks starting later this month.

And Gatland is excited to see what Smith can bring to his squad, with Russell likely to be out for several weeks.

"Finn Russell has been managing an Achilles injury he's had for a couple of weeks, but he's not going to be 100 per cent," Gatland explained.

"He's got a slight tear in his Achilles, they're going to inject it and see if they can manage it through the next couple of weeks, as a result we're going to call up Marcus Smith to come out here on Sunday.

"He'll catch a flight, needs to be PCR tested after the [England] game and hopefully all is well. He's been absolutely outstanding, I'm a big fan of his, watched him play last year, thought he was really promising, had a great season for Harlequins.

"He's been playing regularly, winning the championship with Harlequins, playing for England now and a similar player to Finn Russell so a like-for-like replacement in a lot of ways, so he might add something exciting and new to the squad."

The wobbles of Wimbledon struck Karolina Pliskova and Ash Barty in a women's final that delivered devilish drama and a marvellously charismatic new champion.

Barty's big moment at the All England Club has finally arrived, the world number one making good on the aim she publicly set herself by landing the second grand slam of a career that could yield many more.

As she joyfully paraded the Venus Rosewater Dish around Centre Court, it hardly mattered that the 25-year-old had staggered across the winning line.

When she raced up to the players' box to hug coach Craig Tyzzer and boyfriend Garry Kissick, they were not asking why she had not got the job done in straight sets.

When Barty's thoughts turned to her hero Evonne Goolagong, and tears began to flow, all that mattered to the Queenslander was that she had achieved her tennis destiny.

But what a curious contest this was, a first women's Wimbledon singles final to go to a third set since 2012, yet it would take a real optimist – Barty, for instance – to define it as a classic.

At least it was a contest. That had been in doubt when Pliskova lost the opening 14 points. It was 4-0 in just 12 minutes, at which stage memories of the Czech's 6-0 6-0 drubbing by Iga Swiatek in May's Rome final came to mind.

Pliskova did not fire a single winner in the first six games. Barty surged a set and 3-1 ahead in 45 minutes, a 13th straight-sets women's final in the last 14 Wimbledon championships seemingly inevitable.

The pre-match favourite's nerve was holding, or so it seemed, but when Pliskova held serve to trail only 3-2 the players had split the last 10 games, and that suggested a pivot in the flow of the contest was still possible.

Rudyard Kipling's encouragement to keep your head while others might be losing theirs is engrained in Wimbledon tradition, yet doing so on the big stage is easier prescribed than achieved.

This title match was painfully short on consistent quality, with more unforced errors than winners overall (Barty: 30/29, Pliskova: 27/32) as the pressure of the occasion affected the two first-time finalists. Movie star Tom Cruise was in the crowd, and a plot twist was coming.

A chant of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" went up at 5-5 in the second set, and Pliskova went on to drop serve from 40-love, missing a straightforward enough backhand volley at the net when she had the chance to close out the game.

Serving for the title, Barty played her worst tennis of the match, and when Pliskova powered through the tie-break those still awake Down Under must have been suddenly fearing the worst.

Serving first in the third set, Barty took a look down the other end and must have been thinking: "What are you still doing here?"

But Barty swiftly established a break, Pliskova volleying lamentably into the net from close range, and this time the Aussie nerve held.

She fired an ace to bring up a first match point and the title was hers when Pliskova drove a backhand into the net, her 32nd unforced error of the match.

Having held serve in 57 of her 61 service games up to the final, Pliskova was broken six times.

Barty won the girls' Wimbledon tournament in 2011 and 10 years later has achieved a rare double by adding the women's title, joining Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo as the only players to do so in the Open Era.

She has joined Margaret Court and Goolagong in becoming a women's champion for Australia at the All England Club, and Barty holds the latter in the highest regard.

They share an indigenous background, and 50 years after Goolagong landed the first of her two Wimbledon titles, Barty did just enough to fend off Pliskova and add her own name to the board of champions.

Barty called it "an exceptional match right from the start", and that verdict can probably be put down to the adrenaline of being a newly crowned champion.

She also spoke of having managed precious little sleep ahead of the match, which might explain some of the erratic side of her performance.

And then the BBC's Sue Barker asked her about Goolagong.

"I hope I made Evonne proud," Barty said, the first tears beginning to stream.

Barty has left home to pursue this dream, having chosen to spend almost all of 2020 back in Greater Springfield, near Brisbane, away from the world's worst COVID-19 crises.

Her family have remained in Australia, and Barty has made the trip worth it with this triumph.

"I know they're at home watching. I miss them, I love them," Barty said. "I can't wait to get home to them in a few months' time and really celebrate."

She suggested celebrations in her bubble would be "low key". The Barty party will have to wait.

Bauke Mollema reigned supreme as the Tour de France entered the Pyrenees, storming to a superb solo victory on stage 14 from Carcassonne to Quillan.

Mollema secured a second Tour win after his triumph on the ride to Le Puy-en-Velay in 2017, with this success coming in similar fashion.

The Dutchman made a decisive break, riding the final 40 kilometres out on his own at an average speed of 43.4km/h for that section, while he took on the last 25km in solitary fashion four years ago.

"Its super nice. It's amazing to win a stage again, I'm super happy," said a Trek-Segafredo's Mollema after prevailing by one minute and four seconds from Patrick Konrad and Sergio Andres Higuita in second and third respectively on the 183.7km route.

"It was as super hard day. It took so long until the break finally went

"It was a nice group but we were not working together so well. So I thought, 'let's go'. I did like 45km alone so it was hard, but I'm super happy."

Guillaume Martin came in +1:28 down in the chasing group, an effort that saw him move up to second in the general classification.

Martin, of Cofidis, is the only rider within five minutes of reigning champion Tadej Pogacar in the Yellow Jersey, making up enough time on the final climb of the Col de Saint-Louis to drop Rigoberto Uran down to third.

Michael Woods and Wout Poels were part of the 14-rider breakaway from which Mollema emerged and pushed their King of the Mountains claims, battling for points in each of the classified climbs.

Israel Start-Up Nation's Woods claimed the haul he needed to take the lead in that contest from Nairo Quintana and Poels, even if this success was somewhat tempered by him crashing on the descent of the Col du Castel.

Once the Canadian re-joined the breakaway it soon became clear he and his colleagues had no answer to Mollema.

STAGE RESULT

1. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) 04:16:29
2. Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:04
3. Sergio Andres Higuita (EF Education-Nippo) +1:04 
4. Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +1:06
5. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) +1:10

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 56:50:12
2. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +4:04
3. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 187
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 174

King of the Mountains

1. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 54
2. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
3. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 49

What's next?

Sunday's 15th stage is set to be a particularly gruelling affair, with three category one climbs included in the 191.3km ride from Ceret to Andorre-la-Vieille. The second of those is Port d'Envalira, the highest point on this year's Tour at 2,408m above sea level.

An emotional Ash Barty said she hoped she had done Evonne Goolagong Cawley after realising her dream of winning Wimbledon with a battling defeat of Karolina Pliskova.

The world number one became the first Australian woman to be crowned champion at the All England Club since her mentor Goolagong Cawley 41 years ago with a 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 victory.

Barty won the opening 14 points of the match as she handled the nerves better than eighth seed Pliskova on Saturday.

Pliskova fought back from a break down twice to win the second set, but the top seed regrouped to claim a second grand slam title two years after her first at the French Open.

The Queensland native is only the fourth junior Wimbledon champion to go on and win the women's title and her triumph came 50 years after Goolagong Cawley's maiden success at SW19.

An emotional Barty said in her on-court interview: "This is incredible. I have to start with Kaja [Pliskova]. Congratulations on an incredible tournament to you and your team. I love testing myself against you and I'm sure we'll have many many matches.

"I want to thank everyone in this stadium. You've made my dream so special, thank you very much.

"My team is incredible and they've been with me every step of the way, and for them to be able to travel with me and essentially be away from home for eight or nine months.

"Craig [her coach Tyzzer] is our captain. He is exceptional at what he does and I love him to death.

"It took me a long time to verbalise, to dare to dream it and say it. I didn't sleep a lot last night, I was thinking of all the what-ifs. I hope I made Evonne proud."

It was a second defeat in a major final for former world number one Pliskova, who was also beaten in the 2016 US Open championship match.

World number one Ash Barty became the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon for 41 years by beating Karolina Pliskova in a tense battle on Centre Court.

The top seed realised her dream of being crowned champion at the All England Club for the first time in a rollercoaster 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 victory.

Pliskova warmed to the task after making a nightmare start in a clash between two first-time finalists at SW19, but Barty was not to be denied her second grand slam title two years after her first at the French Open.

The Queenslander ended a wait for an Australian woman to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish that stretched back to 1980, when her mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley won the title.

Pliskova fought back from a break down twice to win the second set, yet Barty regrouped to become only the fourth junior Wimbledon champion to go on and win the women's title.

Barty began with a commanding hold and followed that up with a break to love, sealed with a backhand winner down the line following a sumptuous lob.

A second Barty ace put her 3-0 up and although Pliskova finally won a first point at the 15th attempt, a tentative double fault left the favourite only two games away from wrapping up the first set.

Pliskova was finally on the board at 4-1 when the favourite was broken in an error-strewn game, but the Czech's usually venomous serve was not firing and Barty served out the set at the second attempt.

The 2016 US Open runner-up continued to look uncertain, with Barty taking advantage to go a break up at 2-1, but Pliskova hit back impressively, unleashing a thunderous forehand winner down the line and sealing a swift break back when Barty netted a forehand.

There was a raise of the left hand from Pliskova following a scorching backhand winner during a comfortable hold and although a poor backhand left her 6-5 down, Barty was unable to serve out the match.

Pliskova played with an increasing level of freedom, demonstrating her incredible power with deep, fearsome groundstrokes in a tie-break that ended with a double fault from Barty. 

The former world number one gifted the momentum back to Barty when she missed a simple volley at the net to trail 2-0 in the decider.

Pliskova showed flashes of brilliance as she made Barty, who withdrew from the French Open last month with a hip injury, work until the end, but served it out, sealing victory when her opponent netted a backhand.

The NRL has moved the final match of the State of Origin series to the Gold Coast due to coronavirus restrictions in Newcastle.

It means New South Wales Blues – who lead the series 2-0 after rampant victories in the opening two games – have the chance to win three State of Origin matches in Queensland to complete what would be an unprecedented clean sweep.

Game one of the series was scheduled to be played in Melbourne, only for COVID-19 restrictions to force a switch to Townsville.

While game two took place as planned in Brisbane, game three – which is next week – was moved from Sydney's Stadium Australia to Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium.

However, with Sydney and the surrounding areas in lockdown, New South Wales' regional government advised that a major event with a crowd would not feasible. 

Gold Coast has been selected as a low-risk option, with both teams located close to the Cbus Stadium, which will be able to welcome a capacity crowd of around 27,000.

Though it means all three matches will have been held in Queensland, Blues coach Brad Fittler is unfazed.

"It's disappointing that we can't play at Newcastle and play in front of a NSW crowd," Fittler said. "But we will play anywhere, anytime."

The Blues thrashed the Maroons 50-6 in game one, before winning game two 26-0.

Dane Coles came off the bench to score four second-half tries as New Zealand beat Fiji 57-23 at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

The All Blacks dished out a record-equalling 102-0 rout of Tonga last weekend, but they only led Fiji by 10 points at the break – the smallest half-time advantage they have had against a non-Tier One country in a Test on home soil.

David Havili claimed a quickfire double following an opening try from Jordie Barrett, but Albert Tuisue went over for Fiji and two Ben Volavola penalties made it 21-11 at the break.

George Bridge increased New Zealand's lead when he overlapped down the left wing to touch down, but Mesulame Kunavula touched down to reduce the deficit as Fiji put up a great battle.

Coles crossed following a lineout after Fiji full-back Kini Murimurivalu was sin-binned but the Pacific Islanders responded superbly once again, earning a penalty try which also resulted in Havili being shown a yellow card.

Hooker Coles, who was only introduced 10 minutes into the second half, then took centre stage with an incredible cameo, crossing twice in the space of nine minutes to complete his treble.

Coles was on hand to add a fourth try for good measure with the Fiji forwards overpowered after Will Jordan went in the right corner to score on a night that saw prop Ethan de Groot made his All Blacks debut.

The four-try haul from Coles was the most by any forward from a Tier One country in a Test since the start of 2011.

John Deere Classic leader Luke List was delighted to be back out on the course and enjoying his golf after a tough time of things in his personal life.

List's newborn son Harrison was in intensive care after contracting a respiratory virus but is thankfully now home and recovering.

However, it was a difficult few weeks for List, who shot a 63 on Friday tomove a shot clear of joint overnight leader Sebastian Munoz.

"It was tough, but it's been amazing to come back," he said.

"Everyone has been asking and praying and thinking about us, so it's kind of cool.

"It's a big family out here, and it's nice to know that you've got everyone's support when it's not going great."

List's card showed eight birdies as he moved to 13 under for the tournament, one clear of Munoz after the Colombian's 67.

A group of seven players sit on 11 under in a tightly congested leaderboard. 

Shohei Ohtani equalled Sammy Sosa's MLB record and set one of his own as he hit a 33rd home run of the season for the Los Angeles Angels.

Ohtani has sent plenty of records tumbling already this season and continued his outstanding form against the Seattle Mariners, although it was not enough to propel the Angels to victory as they went down 3-7.

The 26-year-old, who last month joined all-time great Babe Ruth as the only player in American League (AL) history to have had 25-plus home runs, 10-plus stolen bases and 75 pitching strikeouts in their career, is set to become the first Japanese-born player to start an All-Star Game since Ichiro Suzuki in 2010 and will also feature in the Home Run Derby.

Already down as the star attraction for the festivities at Coors Field, Ohtani – the first player to be named to an MLB All-Star Game as a position player and a pitcher – offered another reminder of his quality with a remarkable 463-foot blast at T-Mobile Park.

One of the biggest hits at the stadium, which has been in use since 1999, came from Marco Gonzales' pitch, with Ohtani recording a power of 116.5mph off the bat, putting the Angles into a 3-0 lead in the third inning, though Seattle fought back to secure victory.

It also brought Ohtani level with Sosa for the most home runs by a player born outside of the United States prior to an All-Star break.

Barry Bonds (39) holds the all-time record, though Ohtani's 16 home runs in his last 21 appearances are the most by any AL player during a season.

 

Cortes and Yankees hit back

While Ohtani's efforts proved fruitless for the Angels, the New York Yankees had little trouble in dispatching the Houston Astros on their first return to Minute Maid Park since a 2019 defeat in the American League Championship Series.

The Yankees prevailed 4-0, with Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu each scoring two-run doubles. Nestor Cortes, meanwhile, starred with the ball. Handed a spot-start, he led the way in the shutout. 

"I have bad history against the Houston Astros," said Cortes, who had given up six home runs in four previous games against the Texas side. "So to give four innings of strong baseball was good. And we got the win, so that's what was most important."

Acuna restrained as Braves come up with the win

Ronald Acuna Jr had to be stopped from confronting Miami Marlins pitcher Anthony Bender as the Atlanta Braves won 5-0.

Acuna was struck by a slider in the seventh innings and seemed set to charge over to Bender before he was held back by Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro and the home plat umpire.

It is the seventh time Acuna has been hit by a Miami pitcher since his rookie season in 2018 – indeed, a hit-by-pitch in the meeting on July 2 led to the ejection of the Marlins' Pablo Lopez.

"Not a big deal," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "He hit him with a breaking ball. Everybody handled themselves fine."

Charlie Morton was the star for Atlanta, meanwhile, with the 37-year-old striking out seven and walking out two.

 

Friday's results

Baltimore Orioles 1-12 Chicago White Sox
Boston Red Sox 11-5 Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs 10-5 St. Louis Cardinals
Cleveland Indians 2-1 Kansas City Royals
Houston Astros 0-4 New York Yankees
Los Angeles Dodgers 2-5 Arizona Diamondbacks
Miami Marlins 0-5 Atlanta Braves
Milwaukee Brewers 0-2 Cincinnati Reds
Minnesota Twins 4-2 Detroit Tigers
New York Mets 13-4 Pittsburgh Pirates
Tampa Ray Rays 7-1 Toronto Blue Jays
Texas Rangers 3-2 Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres 4-2 Colorado Rockies
San Francisco Giants 5-3 Washington Nationals
Seattle Mariners 7-3 Los Angeles Angels

Matteo Berrettini is advising his compatriots to purchase new televisions for what he expects to be a special Sunday that will see him contest the Wimbledon final before Italy face England in the Euro 2020 showpiece.

Berrettini will become the first Italian to feature in a singles final at Wimbledon when he faces world number one Novak Djokovic, bidding for a record-tying 20th grand slam title, at the All England Club.

Over in North London, Italy will look to break England hearts at Wembley by lifting the European Championship trophy, three years on from failing to qualify for the World Cup.

The twin tales of sporting unlikelihoods will have the attention of a nation that could well be celebrating a dual triumph by the time Bjorn Kuipers blows the final whistle to end the Euros.

Speaking after his four-set semi-final win over Hubert Hurkacz, Berrettini said: "I will tell them to buy a nice TV if they don't have one already because I think it's going to be a special Sunday for all of us.

"It's something crazy to believe for us, obviously let's say tennis, because it's never happened [at Wimbledon]. So it's something that nobody expected, me in the first place.

"Then for football, because I mean, we didn't qualify for the World Cup, so after that the job that they did, how hard they worked, the effort that they put, I think they really deserve this final.

"For Italian people in general, it's going to be tough Sunday, no? But I think we deserve it.

"It's a great day, great sport day. I'm really happy that together with football now [tennis] is one of the biggest sports in Italy."

Stephon Gilmore is hopeful he can find common ground with the New England Patriots and that he can be "paid what I'm worth".

The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year and two-time first-team All-Pro is seeking a new contract and held himself out of mandatory minicamp to attempt to force the Patriots' hand.

Cornerback Gilmore carries a salary cap hit of $16.26million, the largest among players at his position, in 2021.

However, his base salary of $7m is half that of Byron Jones of the Miami Dolphins, who leads all corners in that regard with $14m.

While he appears content to remain in New England, Gilmore clearly wants a contract that he feels reflects his status as one of the NFL's premier corners.

"I just want what I'm worth, however that plays out," Gilmore told ESPN's Josina Anderson.

"Every player should be paid what they're worth. That's just how it is.

"Hopefully, we can find some common ground and get it situated. I just know what I bring to the table and my style of play.

"Right now, I'm just trying to focus on myself and make sure I'm good mentally and physically."

Gilmore was limited to 11 games last season and underwent surgery in the offseason to repair a torn quadriceps muscle.

He added of his physical condition: "I feel stronger than I've ever felt since the surgery. I've been running a lot, building full speed.

"We'll see [if he is ready for training camp]; if I need to be. But I also don't want to push it."

Since signing a five-year, $65m contract with the Patriots in 2017, Gilmore has racked up 52 pass breakups, tied for sixth-most in the NFL, and 11 interceptions.

 

Larry Fitzgerald remains undecided as to whether he will extend his glittering NFL career into an 18th season.

Fitzgerald is a free agent after his contract with the Arizona Cardinals expired after the 2020 campaign.

The Cardinals have given him the time to decide if he will retire or play at least one more year in the NFL.

However, with the start of training camp three weeks away, the timeline for him to make his decision is growing short.

Yet Fitzgerald seems in no rush to make a definitive call on if his career will continue.

"I haven't decided anything," Fitzgerald said in an interview with ESPN. "Training camp starts in a few weeks. I'm excited, it's going to be another great year for the NFL."

While Fitzgerald has been pontificating on his future, the Cardinals have spent the offseason reinforcing their depth at wide receiver behind DeAndre Hopkins.

They signed veteran A.J. Green in free agency and used a second-round pick on Purdue wideout Rondale Moore, potentially leaving Fitzgerald with limited opportunities to make an impact were he to return.

And, if the Cardinals are not interested in bringing him back, Fitzgerald may also find a disappointing market for his services after one of the worst seasons of his career.

The 11-time Pro Bowler registered 54 catches for 409 yards and one touchdown, all of which were career-lows, in 2020.

Fitzgerald registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup against a defender on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the pass is catchable, on 47.9 per cent of his targets last season, the 10th-lowest rate among NFL wideouts, according to Stats Perform data. His burn yards per target average of 7.39 was the seventh-worst in the league.

Novak Djokovic expects Matteo Berrettini to be at his best when he meets the Italian in the Wimbledon final on Sunday.

Djokovic is a win from moving level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by claiming a record 20th grand slam title.

Standing in his way will be the considerable figure of Berrettini, who overcame Hubert Hurkacz in four sets to reach the final of a major for the first time in his career at the age of 25.

Djokovic was made to work hard to see off Denis Shapovalov in straight sets on Centre Court on Friday.

And he is anticipating another tough battle against one of the form players on tour this year.

Recalling his own maiden appearance in a grand slam final, a defeat to Roger Federer at the 2007 US Open, Djokovic said: "I remember that I was just so thrilled to be in the final.

"I had a good match but I just probably did not believe enough in the victory at certain moments when the scoreline was close.

"I was really young, 20 years old. Matteo is a bit older. He's had more experience playing on the Tour.

"He's already had notable results in the biggest tournaments and some big wins against the top players of the world.

"I expect him to be on really high level because that's what he's been delivering in last couple weeks. He's in great form, serving big and playing big.

"To win a 20th grand slam would mean everything. That's why I'm here, and why I'm playing.

"I imagined myself being in a position to fight for another Grand Slam trophy prior to coming to London.

"I've put myself in a very good position and I'm looking forward to a great battle."

Wimbledon will mark Berrettini's fourth final of the 2021 season, with his recent victory at Queen's Club securing his second title of the year.

Djokovic was the last man to beat Berrettini, who is now 32-6 for the year, doing so in four sets in the French Open quarter-finals.

Yet Djokovic completed that victory after fans had been forced to leave because of a curfew in Paris and he knows a capacity Wimbledon crowd may not be on his side.

"I hope that I will have the stadium on my side. Having the crowd behind you, against you, it's a big difference," he added. 

"People like to see someone win who is an underdog or is not maybe expected to win, is not the favourite. But hopefully people can also recognise also the importance of this match for me, the history that is on the line."

Jon Rahm claimed a share of the lead at the Scottish Open and Rory McIlroy missed the cut as the two European Ryder Cup stars found themselves at the centre of a bizarre incident at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick.

Rahm and McIlroy were playing with Justin Thomas when, on the 10th hole, a spectator walked on to the tee and removed the cover from the Northern Irishman's driver before taking a couple of practice swings with an iron.

"I was surprised. Everyone saw what happened on TV," McIlroy said, as quoted by BBC Sport. "It was handled efficiently and everything was okay. I had no idea who it was."

Rahm claimed the man, who Police Scotland said was taken to hospital after being ejected from the course, smelt of alcohol and added: "I don't think any of us understood what was going on.

"It didn't put anyone off. If anything it put a smile on our faces. It will be a pretty good story to tell in the future."

Rahm's sparkling recent form, which secured the U.S. Open title last month and sees him riding high as world number one, is also shaping up into a pretty good story to tell.

The Spaniard carded eight birdies in a 65 to follow his Thursday 66 for 11 under overall. Belgium's Thomas Detry matched Rahm's scores and England's first-round leader Jack Senior made it a three-way tie at the top.

Lee Westwood stormed into the clubhouse, going eagle, birdie, birdie over the final three holes and is a shot behind the leaders alongside Matt Fitzpatrick and George Coetzee, while Thomas and Ian Poulter are in a group of four players on eight under.

Inebriated interlopers were not the end of McIlroy's concerns, however, as he could only card a level par 71 on Friday, leaving him one under for the tournament and a shot below the cut line.

Ash Barty will lean on the tough lessons that Wimbledon has taught her over the years when she tackles Karolina Pliskova on Centre Court in the women's final.

A decade has slipped by since a 15-year-old Barty won the girls' singles title, and now she and Pliskova will do battle for the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Saturday's final is a clash of the player with the most aces on the women's tour this year (Barty: 255) and the tournament leader for that metric (Pliskova: 54).

Pliskova will likely be a tough nut to crack, having won 57 of her 61 service games for a 93 per cent strike rate, with the Czech the only player in the draw above 90 per cent in that crucial component.

Both players will be making their debut in a Wimbledon women's singles final, the first time that has happened at the All England Club since 1977, when Virginia Wade beat Betty Stove.

 

World number one Barty will become just the fourth player in the Open Era to win both girls' and women's singles titles at Wimbledon should she get the job done, after Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo.

It has been quite a journey to this point for the Australian, who after her early impact in the game stepped away from tennis for almost two years after the 2014 US Open. She played Big Bash League cricket and only returned to tennis at Eastbourne in 2016, gradually ascending to the summit and winning the 2019 French Open title for a maiden senior grand slam.

There have been painful defeats along the way on grass, her favourite surface, including a loss to Daria Kasatkina in the third round in 2018 and to Alison Riske from a set up in the fourth round a year later.

Barty was the top seed at that edition of Wimbledon in 2019, as she is this year, and there is no doubt she would be an exciting champion, a player who seems to only bring positivity to tennis, albeit she pointed to some bleak moments in her past ahead of the tussle with Pliskova.

"I think Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning," Barty said. "I think 10 years ago I came here for the first time as a junior and learned a lot in that week.

"Probably 2018, 2019 was some of my toughest weeks playing. To come away with our losses in those two tournaments, I learned a hell of a lot from those two times.

"I think a lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. I think that's why this tournament has been so important to me. I've learned so much with all my experiences, the good, bad, everything in between I've been able to learn from.

"Just to be able to keep chipping away, keep putting yourself out there, let yourself be vulnerable, just be yourself, knowing that everything that comes with that is an opportunity to learn. I think that's been a massive one for us this fortnight."

The first thing that was said to Barty in a news conference after she won the girls' title in 2011 was: "You're not a very demonstrative winner."

How this grounded Queenslander might react to winning on Saturday remains to be seen. Pliskova certainly has the weaponry to mean a Barty victory is far from a foregone conclusion.

Pliskova would be the fifth oldest first-time grand slam winner in the Open Era should she prevail, with the 29-year-old having previous experience of winning titles on grass at Eastbourne (2017 and 2019) and Nottingham (2016).

"It's a final. Anything can happen," Pliskova said of the Barty match-up. "I know she has a grand slam, but also for her it is the first Wimbledon final.

"I think we both have good chances. It's going to be hopefully a good match to watch as well because with her it's always interesting. We going to see what's going to happen.

"I never played a horrible match against her."

 

Pliskova and Barty have met seven times across their careers, starting from a minor ITF event in Nottingham in 2012, which went the Australian's way, the then 16-year-old edging a final-set tie-break.

Barty has also won their last three matches, reflecting her rise to the top and former world number one's Pliskova's slight career dip.

"Of course she makes you feel a bit ugly with the game which she's playing," Pliskova said. "Also I had, like, a lot of chances the last match we played. I think I had match point or was serving for the match. I know there's going to be many chances for me, as well."

That match took place in Stuttgart in April of this year and did indeed go close, Barty closing it out 7-5 in the deciding set of the quarter-final and going on to take the title. She has three tournament wins this year, a tour-high.

Barty is sure to stay at number one on Monday, a 77th consecutive week in the top spot and 84th overall in her career, while Pliskova can jump from 13th to fourth with the title. She will move to seventh should she be runner-up.

The red-hot favourite is Barty, but Pliskova is comfortable with that.

"You want to play the best player in the final," she said. "Of course, I don't want anybody else but her there."

Novak Djokovic booked his place in a third consecutive Wimbledon final, demonstrating his mastery of the big moments in a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-5 win over Denis Shapovalov.

Number 10 seed Shapovalov produced tennis to delight the Centre Court crowd, with his single-handed backhand typically wonderful, but also threw in errors ill-suited to the task of trying to dethrone a world number one chasing history.

Djokovic will face Matteo Berrettini in Sunday's final after the Italian dispatched Hubert Hurkacz in four, giving him the chance to go level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career grand slams.

Left-hander Shapovalov made the early running and raced into a 15-40 lead in the third game. He passed up two openings but, after a Djokovic double fault at deuce, he pushed the defending champion back with punishing ground strokes to surge ahead - the only one of 11 break points Djokovic would fail to repel.

The Canadian then strung together three consecutive love service games, only for errors to creep in when the set beckoned at 5-4.  After recovering from 0-30 and an overhit forehand to hand Djokovic a first break point, he went long from the other wing and it was all square.

A wretched tie-break for Shapovalov was bookended by a misjudged drop shot – the first of two initial mini-breaks – and a double fault, handing Djokovic a gift he could scarcely afford.

The 22-year-old left the court and impressively relocated his early form on his return, pushing Djokovic to save three break points in the fourth game and whipping up a crowd keen to see a contest.

Two more followed as the Serb escaped to 3-3, meaning there was a sense of nagging inevitability when, on Djokovic's first break point of set two, Shapovalov produced another appallingly timed double fault.

Djokovic closed out the two-set lead before saving three break points in his first service game of the third, reprising the other theme of frustration for Shapovalov.

From then on, it was a case of gamely scrambling to stay in the contest, with Djokovic's gaze fixed on the finish line. At 5-5, Shapovalov undermined himself with two more doubles and, despite battling to deuce, crunched a groundstroke long.

The all-time great on the other side of the net let out a guttural roar before sealing his toughest win of the tournament in straight sets.

Warren Gatland has told his British and Irish Lions stars to keep "rolling with the punches" in South Africa as another clash with the Sharks arrives.

On their turbulent tour, the Lions were due to face the Bulls on Saturday, but several COVID-19 cases in the Pretoria team's ranks meant that game had to be called off.

Into their place come the Sharks, the side that the Lions crushed 54-7 on Wednesday in their second match of the tour.

The shift of venue from Ellis Park to Loftus Versfeld will be one notable change, and in terms of personnel it will be a distinctly different match to the first meeting, with the Lions making 13 alterations to their starting line-up and the Sharks also electing for near wholesale change.

Wing Anthony Watson makes his first start on the tour, and his England team-mate, hooker Jamie George, captains the side. Centre Elliot Daly and wing Duhan van der Merwe are the only players to keep their place in the team.

Coronavirus cases in the England camp, as well as in the ranks of South Africa who have had to call off a match against Georgia, have seen doubts raised about whether the Tests later on the tour will go ahead as planned.

Gatland said: "It's obviously been a slightly turbulent week, but we remain determined to keep rolling with the punches.

"In many ways, the challenges we've faced this week have strengthened our resolve to do everything we can to overcome the challenges created by COVID.

"The feeling in the camp on Wednesday night was just to give it a crack – I was really proud by how everyone reacted, particularly the matchday squad who would have never prepared for a game like that before.

"Saturday is another opportunity to see how the boys go and for us as coaches to try out a few more combinations ahead of the Test series.

"I have long been an admirer of Jamie's leadership skills, so I am delighted to name him skipper.

"We want to pass on thanks to the Sharks boys for fronting up and going again on Saturday. The spirit of rugby and a great chance for them to have another shot at us."

 


WATSON GETS CHANCE TO IMPRESS

The Lions have a tasty back three for this game, with Watson joined by Liam Williams and midweek hat-trick hero Duhan van der Merwe. Watson played all three Tests on the 2017 tour of New Zealand, making a big impact in the drawn series, and looks highly likely to start against South Africa too. Getting some good minutes in now should bring benefit later, and with few backs options on the bench, Watson looks to see plenty of action against the Sharks.

GEORGE CAN STAKE A CLAIM

After catching the eye against Johannesburg's Lions last weekend, George gets another opportunity to impress Gatland, this time as skipper. The coach's warm words underlined his appreciation of the Saracens hooker, who has Ken Owens and Luke Cowan-Dickie as rivals for the number two Test shirt. It is up to George to show leadership skills this weekend, as he attempts to play his way into the side that takes on the Springboks.


British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Chris Harris, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rory Sutherland, Jamie George (captain), Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Wyn Jones, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, Sam Simmonds, Tom Curry, Conor Murray, Finn Russell.

Sharks: Anthony Volmink, Marnus Potgieter, Werner Kok, Murray Koster, Thaakir Abrahams, Lionel Cronje, Jaden Hendrikse; Nthuthuko Mchunu, Kerron van Vuuren, Wiehahn Herbst, Le Roux Roets, Reniel Hugo, Dylan Richardson, Mpilo Gumede, Phepsi Buthelezi (captain).

Replacements: Dan Jooste, MJ Majola, Khutha Mchunu, Thembelani Bholi, Jeandre Labuschagne, Cameron Wright, Boeta Chamberlain, Jeremy Ward, Lourens Adriaanse, Rynhardt Jonker, Curwin Bosch.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- The Lions' win on Wednesday was their biggest ever against the Sharks/Natal. Overall the British and Irish Lions have won 11 of their 12 fixtures against the Sharks/Natal, the exception being a 3-3 draw back on the 1924 tour.
- The Lions have scored 50-plus points in each of their last two matches. They have never recorded a half-century of points in three consecutive games.
- Phepsi Buthelezi made 20 carries against the Lions on Wednesday, the most by a Sharks player since May 2015 when Bismarck du Plessis made 20 against the Highlanders in a Super Rugby fixture. He is the only member of the pack thart started on Wednesday to stay in the team for Saturday.
- Josh Adams sits this game out, after being the the only player to feature for every minute possible with the Lions this year. Adams has scored eight tries, twice as many as any other player, while he also leads the way for carries (26), metres gained (238) and defenders beaten (13).
- Elliot Daly has assisted three tries for the Lions in his two games, more than any other player in the squad, with those three assists coming from just nine passes in total.

Mark Cavendish's incredible return to the Tour de France continued as he matched Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage triumphs.

Cavendish, who won his first stage at the most famous of the grand tours back in 2008, has been one of the great success stories of this year's edition.

And, with two flat runs of the race to spare, the Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider scooped his fourth stage win of 2021 to equal Merckx's haul.

The Belgian great – a five-time Tour de France winner – set the record between 1969 and 1975.

Cavendish's record-equalling success came in Carcassonne at the culmination of stage 13's 220km route, with his team-mates executing a perfect lead-out in the final 1,500m.

Having established himself at the front of the peloton, Cavendish had to change his bike with around 35km to go, yet rallied back to be in place for the final push.

It came courtesy of Michael Morkov, who timed his burst to perfection, giving Cavendish the opportunity to sprint through the gap and clinch his record-equalling win in a photo finish, also becoming the first rider to win four stages of Le Tour at the age of 36 in the process.

Cavendish could yet surpass the record, with two more sprints to come in the final week. He has previously won a record four times on the Champs-Elysees finale in Paris.

In the general classification standings, Tadej Pogacar's controlled ride kept him in command of the yellow jersey.

There was drama further back in the stage as a crash with around 55km remaining resulted in three abandonments, including former Vuelta e Espana winner Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange.

IT'S LIKE MY FIRST ONE

Cavendish's career at the top level seemed to be over. Indeed, he even hinted at retirement following a run of poor form and illness in 2020.

Yet the 2016 Olympic silver medalist has reaffirmed his place as one of the greats with this extraordinary comeback. 

"It's tiring. I can't even think about it, I'm so dead, 220km in that heat, that wind. I went deep there, so deep, the boys were incredible. I don't believe it," an exhausted Cavendish said.

"A lot of the day I didn't feel like it was going to happen. The guys were riding like they were – I was so on the limit, you saw at the end – slightly uphill. I was lucky the lads just played it calm, I lost a little bit with about five km to go, it got a bit slippy I thought I'd punctured, but everyone else was like "it's the road", but we had to take it easy, I just lost a bit.

Asked if he had realised what his win meant, Cavendish added: "It's just another win on the Tour de France, it's like my first one – I've won a stage at the Tour de France, that's what I dreamed of as a kid, it's what I dream of now and I work so hard for it.

"I just hope, we've seen such a growth in cycling since I've started racing here, if any one of my wins can inspire kids to ride the Tour de France when they grow up, that's what means the most to me."

STAGE RESULT

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 05:04:29
2. Michael Morkov (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 
4. Ivan Garcia Conrtina (Movstar) 
5. Danny van Poppel (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux) 

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 52:27:12'
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 178
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 171

King of the Mountains

1. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 50
2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 43
3. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 42

What's next?

The Tour heads into the Pyrenees over the weekend, with Saturday's 183.7km route taking the riders over five categorised climbs.

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