Serena Williams fought back from a set down to defeat sister Venus on Thursday and advance through to the quarter-finals of the Top Seed Open.

In the 31st instalment of a rivalry going back 22 years between the legendary siblings, it was tournament favourite Serena who prevailed 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Kentucky.

Serena trailed by two games in the deciding set but hit back to win a high-quality contest and set up a meeting with either Shelby Rogers or Leylah Fernandez in the next round.

Both players are this week competing for the first time since the WTA Tour season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it was Venus who started the quicker.

Serena charged into a 2-0 lead in the opening set but her older sibling won five games on the bounce to take control.

There were too many errors from Serena, and Venus made her pay, winning the first set point she manufactured courtesy of a powerful serve that the favourite could not return.

Serena, who has now won 10 of their past 12 completed encounters dating back to 2009, responded well in the second and went a break up at 4-2 before seeing out the set to level up.

After a 10-minute break in accordance with the heat rule, Serena drew first blood in the deciding set by breaking her opponent with a cross-court forehand in the third game.

Venus instantly hit back by breaking in the following game and opened up a 4-2 advantage when converting with a forehand winner in the sixth.

However, the older Williams - without a win this season - was unable to pull clear and lost two of the next three games, with Serena making the most of a double-fault to lead 5-4.

The final game went with the serve, despite the 23-time Grand Slam winner falling 30-15 behind, as Venus misfired off the forehand down the middle to settle a tight tussle.

MotoGP riders revealed their concern about the prospect of a wet race at this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, with Cal Crutchlow, Johann Zarco and Valentino Rossi among those to highlight the forecast.

The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will be the stage for the next two MotoGP races, first for the Austrian Grand Prix and then the Styrian GP the following weekend.

While the track has not regularly seen wet riding since it returned to the schedule in 2016, the Styrian Formula One GP earlier this year saw rainy conditions in qualifying and a Moto2 event in 2017 had several issues due to surface water.

The Red Bull Ring is thought to be less inhospitable now, though riders remain anxious heading into the weekend.

Crutchlow said: "I don't like riding here in the rain, honestly. It seems over the last couple years I didn't like riding anywhere in the rain, but I mean this one is like ice, honestly it's like ice and it's not as if there's a lot of run-off.

"Yeah, we're all pretty concerned about that. Especially when I was here on Tuesday afternoon and it rained for a couple of hours and the water that was on the track was just ankle deep.

"I watched a van go round actually, the spray that was going off it was incredible. So, I think we have to be sensible, look at the situation and see from there."

Zarco, of Avintia, is similarly concerned but expecting organisers to implement common sense with regards to the conditions.

"I think with less rubber [from F1 tyres on the track] and different conditions we can be safe," he added.

"And overall, if it's very heavy rain just before practice, the practice I guess will be a little bit delayed, just wait for the rain to calm.

"We can ride on wet but not full rain. The Race Direction will wait always a little bit."

Yamaha's Rossi is looking to battle for a podium after breaking into the top five in each of the past two races, though he accepts the Red Bull Ring is not a good track for his setup and believes the weather could be crucial.

"On paper, this track is not good for the [Yamaha] M1 because I think the top speed is not a strong point for us, but like in 2019, the bike was good to ride and we had a good race," he said.

"The forecast will be very important because it looks like from the morning to the afternoon it is not clear, so we need to be strong for rainy conditions."

Defending champion Bianca Andreescu became the latest high-profile player to opt out of the US Open on Thursday.

Andreescu has not played on the WTA Tour since October due to knee trouble and the 20-year-old says a lack of match practice, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, means she is not ready to return in New York.

The Canadian's withdrawal comes after Rafael Nadal, the 2019 men's singles champion, pulled out due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Andreescu posted on social media: "After many discussions with those closest to me, I have made the difficult decision not to return to New York this year.

"I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level.

"The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there.

"However, I realise that the unforeseen challenges, including the COVID pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.

"I want to express my appreciation to the USTA and the WTA for all of their efforts in making the event happen. I look forward to joining my competitors back on court soon."

Bayern Munich are making plans for Lionel Messi, but Hansi Flick is well aware of the threat of the rest of the Barcelona team in their Champions League quarter-final.

Bayern face Barca in Lisbon on Friday in a match the Bundesliga champions are expected to win, having been in dominant form in recent months.

But the Blaugrana have Messi in their ranks, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner seemingly determined to get his hands on a fifth European crown, the most recent of those coming in 2015.

Questions at Flick's pre-match news conference focused on the threat of Barca's number 10, yet the head coach was keen to remind reporters there will be more to the match than Messi.

"It's not Bayern Munich against Messi, but against Barcelona," he said. "Of course we have thought about how we will play against him.

"It is possible that we will play together to counter him as a team. We have to recognise the spaces, put him under pressure and try to win the one-on-one duels."

Flick added: "We have the necessary respect for Barcelona because they have been the dominant team in recent years. Many coaches and clubs have been inspired by Barca.

"They're nice to watch, the way they play, the way they train, their enthusiasm.

"Messi is not the only player who stands out. [Gerard] Pique, [Antoine] Griezmann, [Ivan] Rakitic and [Luis] Suarez are top players. [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen is a world-class goalkeeper.

"They have enormous quality and experience and we have to go against that as a team and bring our quality. We have a plan and hope that it works."

While opposite number Quique Setien suggested Robert Lewandowski was not in the same class as Messi, Flick refused to be drawn into a comparison between his talisman and Barca's.

"You can't compare the two players," he said. "Lewandowski is a world-class striker and has tremendous quality. For us, he is someone who guarantees goals but also creates goals.

"Messi has been by far the best footballer over the past few years. He's an exceptional player and I don't know if someone like that will come around again."

Teenage left-back Alphonso Davies has been one of the stars of the Champions League campaign so far but may now be the man tasked with marking Messi.

Team-mate Thomas Muller is determined not to leave the Canadian to face his mammoth task alone, though.

"Messi is in good shape, but you never defend him alone," Muller said. "My experience from the games in which I faced him was that it worked when the whole team was there.

"We have to act together against this individual quality. Alphonso Davies is also key here, but he is not alone."

Simona Halep had to produce a significant fightback to prevent a shock defeat to Barbora Krejcikova in the second round of the Prague Open on Thursday.

Neither player was particularly convincing in the early stages, with each of the first four games going against serve, but it was Krejcikova who settled quicker to take the first set 6-3.

She then brought the second set back to 5-5 after being 5-2 down, but Halep managed to see it out to level the match, before going on to seal the 3-6 7-5 6-2 win in the decider.

Top-seed Halep will face Poland's Magdalena Frech – ranked 174 in the world – in the quarter-finals after she saw off Arantxa Rus 6-3 2-6 6-4.

The day began with what turned out to be a gruelling encounter between Eugenie Bouchard and Tamara Zidansek, but the Canadian – who is attempting to climb back up the rankings after slipping to 330 – prevailed to reach her second WTA quarter-final of the year, winning 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 in two hours, 56 minutes.

Sara Sorribes Tormo had no such difficulty against Laura Siegemund as she emerged 6-2 6-3 victor, but she will have to wait until Friday to find out her next opponent after Irina-Camelia's meeting with Leonie Kung was suspended due to poor light.

Kung had just won the first set 7-6 (7-3).

Thomas Pieters enjoyed an emphatic return to action on Thursday to lead the Celtic Classic, while two players withdrew over coronavirus fears.

French duo Alex Levy and Romain Wattel were unable to compete, with the former becoming the first player on the European Tour to test positive for COVID-19.

But Pieters, who became a father during the coronavirus-enforced suspension and delayed his return a little longer than many other players, was in fine shape as he carded a seven-under-par 64.

A bogey on the second hole might have suggested a hint of unease, but the Belgian finished the front nine one under thanks to a pair of birdies.

He made six more gains after the turn, finishing with back-to-back birdies to edge out early clubhouse leader Toby Tree and Australia's Jake McLeod by one stroke.

Edoardo Molinari and Sebastien Soderberg are two of six players within two strokes of the summit.

The day did not get off to the best of starts, however, as it was confirmed Levy had been withdrawn after telling organisers he had contact with someone at home over the weekend who returned a positive result.

He was then re-tested and the result came back positive, which led to compatriot Wattel's precautionary withdrawal due to being a contact of Levy's.

Both Wattel and Levy's caddies were said to have tested negative for COVID-19.

Sebastian Vettel is adamant there is no tension in the Ferrari ranks despite enduring a difficult start to his final campaign with the team.

While Charles Leclerc sits fourth in the Formula One drivers' standings following impressive back-to-back races at Silverstone, former world champion Vettel finds himself in 13th.

The German was in poor form at the British circuit, qualifying far behind his team-mate before taking just one point from the two races, with the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix a particularly difficult one for Vettel.

After spinning on his own at the first corner, Vettel appeared to have been angered by team strategy to leave him in 11th place compared to Leclerc's fourth-placed finish.

However, Vettel, who was been linked with a move to Racing Point, refuted the suggestion tensions were increasing between himself and Ferrari.

"I don't agree with the statement. I think we're trying to do everything we can," he said ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

"Obviously it's never relaxed if things don't go your way or they go wrong, so naturally I think if you judge just the emotions right after the race or during the race, then I don't think that's a fair reflection of what actually is going on, hence why I would tend to disagree.

"I didn't have a great race, we tried to come back up and we could have opted for maybe a different strategy but we didn't.

"We've talked about it, sorted it out and moved on, so there's not much difference in terms of climate compared to the week before, or even before that.

"I've been in a happier place. I love, obviously, fighting at the front. I love winning and feeling that you can achieve great results and that we haven't done yet.

"Overall if you sum it up, it's not the best season start that I ever had, but I wouldn't go as far as frustration."

Vettel heads to Barcelona with a new SF1000 chassis, though he is not anticipating it will make too much difference.

"Only time can tell [if it's better]," he added.

"The thinking behind it is that we changed it because the other one was broken. We found a little crack after the weekend in Silverstone and it's back to get repaired.

"We will see. I don't expect miracles, but hopefully I'll have a smoother weekend and a smoother race on Sunday."

Arturo Vidal is well aware of the threat posed by Robert Lewandowski ahead of Barcelona's Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich, but remains convinced Lionel Messi gives the Blaugrana the edge.

Both Barca and Bayern came through their last-16 ties relatively comfortable in the end, Quique Setien's side beating Napoli 4-2 over two legs and the German champions crushing Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate.

Such an emphatic progression, coupled with their form after the coronavirus-enforced pause, has led to many deeming Bayern to be frontrunners to win the competition.

Lewandowski will surely be crucial if they do go all the way – the Poland striker having scored 53 times across all competitions this term, including 13 in just seven Champions League matches.

But claims from former Bayern players that Lewandowski is ahead of Messi are wide of the mark, according to his former team-mate Vidal.

"Lewandowski is extraordinary, very dangerous, a tireless scorer," the Chilean told reporters ahead of the showdown on Friday. "I was with him three years; I know how he prepares. It will be very difficult to stop him.

"But comparing him with Leo [Messi] is impossible, because Leo is from another planet, although Lewandowski is the best striker alongside Luis Suarez."

Setien agreed, stating: "Lewandowski is a great footballer but I don't think he's up to Leo's level.

"It's clear, [Lewandowski] is in a great moment and he's very well assisted by team-mates who can hurt us, but we also saw Leo against Napoli. It's good that we can enjoy footballers like that."

Another player who has caught the eye since the Champions League's resumption is Neymar, who produced a typically exuberant – albeit somewhat wasteful – display as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over Atalanta to reach the last four on Wednesday.

The Brazilian is reportedly a long-term target of Barca, the club he left to join PSG in 2017 for a world-record fee, and Vidal acknowledged that Neymar would strengthen the Blaugrana.

"It is understood that Barca wants to recover him [Neymar], not only because of yesterday's game," Vidal said.

"He was already at Barca and had an exceptional performance, he showed his level. He is very talented and would help the team a lot, but I don't know more.

"We only think about Bayern and going through tomorrow. It is difficult to speak at the moment about other players."

He Knows No Fear, a 300-1 shot at Leopardstown, clinched victory on Thursday to become the longest-priced winner in racing history.

The three-year-old colt was making just his second start and had come 12th of 14 in Limerick in July at a price of 250-1.

Those odds were lengthened this week, but the horse – owned and trained by Luke Comer, and ridden by jockey Chris Hayes – stunned the bookmakers at the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden, beating Agitare by a head.

The record-breaking achievement surpasses Equinoctial's 1990 triumph at Kelso from a starting price of 250-1.

Killahara Castle previously held the Irish record at 200-1 at Thurles in 2017.

Barcelona have Ousmane Dembele fit again for their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich, with coach Quique Setien confident his side can hold their own.

Winger Dembele has been out since November after rupturing his thigh muscle but is in line for a long-awaited return in Lisbon on Friday.

Setien told a pre-match news conference: "We have arrived in good spirits. This is the game we are waiting for. We have prepared well.

"It is a satisfaction for all of us that Dembele is in the squad and I think he will be in a position to participate for a few minutes if we consider it appropriate.

"We are excited that he can play and get it right."

Bayern look well placed to go all the way in the competition, having romped to a domestic double in Germany and swept Chelsea aside in their previous European tie.

Barca, on the other hand, lost their LaLiga title to rivals Real Madrid and have struggled to convince in recent months.

But Setien remains positive of their chances, saying: "Of course, we are convinced we can go through.

"We know the potential of the opponent, their numbers and their capacity, with extraordinary potential, but we have that, too.

"I think it will be an even game. We have a lot to say in this game."

The coach is keen to ensure Lionel Messi is not left to do the job alone, however, even if he is highly likely to play a key role.

"Leo can help win the game, obviously, but I have always believed in the strength of the team," Setien said.

"We will have to assist Leo because both Messi, like any other outstanding player, is weaker without the strength of the team."

Alphonso Davies is capable of managing Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi in the Champions League quarter-finals, according to Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Davies, still just 19, joined Bayern from Vancouver Whitecaps in January 2019 but has forced his way into Hansi Flick's first team this season.

The speedy Canada winger has forged a starting role at left-back, meaning David Alaba has played in the centre of defence while Lucas Hernandez has spent much of his first Bundesliga campaign injured or on the bench.

Davies was named the German top flight's Rookie of the Season and particularly excelled in both legs of the Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea.

Now, in the final eight in Lisbon, Davies might be tasked with handling six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

But Rummenigge told Sky Sport: "Alphonso had a great season and was rightly voted Rookie of the Season.

"Should Messi play on his left side, Alphonso will take care of him. It will be a difficult but interesting task. Davies hasn't been dribbled past or overrun much this season."

Davies is certainly relishing the prospect of taking on his boyhood idol, telling UEFA.com: "Growing up, I used to watch him all the time and now I'm defending against him; it's going to be a whole different ball game.

"But for me, it's just playing my game, changing nothing on my side and just hopefully doing my best against him.

"We know that he's a great player - we're not going to take that away from him - so the best you can do is try, I guess."

George Kittle has agreed a five-year contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers worth $75million, according to reports.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says Kittle is to become comfortably the NFL's best-paid tight end, while he will also receive an $18m signing bonus.

More than half of the deal is said to be made up of guarantees.

The 26-year-old had been set to be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season.

Kittle, taken fifth overall in the 2017 draft, played a starring role in the previous campaign as the 49ers reached the Super Bowl before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The two-time Pro Bowler played 14 games in the 2019 regular season and had 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns.

Over a three-year NFL career, Kittle has played 45 games and has 216 receptions for 2,945 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Kittle's new contract surpasses Rob Gronkowski's six-year, $54m pact with the New England Patriots in 2012 for the largest ever for a tight end.

It also exceeds the record average annual value at the position, which saw Austin Hooper sign a four-year, $44m deal with the Cleveland Browns earlier in 2020.

England head coach Shaun Wane has agreed an extension to his contract until the end of 2022.

Wane was appointed in February on a deal that was set to expire following the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

However, his tenure to date has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, with this year's Ashes series cancelled.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) is anticipating NRL interest, too, so the 55-year-old's terms have been revisited.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: "Shaun has made a great impression within the RFL and across the sport in general, and I am delighted that he will be staying on beyond the 2021 World Cup.

"He has proved himself to be both energetic and versatile in difficult times and has adapted to what is in front of him.

"We are well aware that Shaun has recently attracted the attention of several NRL clubs and wanted to ensure that he had enough security that kept him absolutely focused on the job in hand.

"Like all of us, Shaun is bitterly disappointed not to be facing the Kangaroos this autumn, but he is not letting this short-term setback stand in the way of his long-term aim to make England the number one side in the world.

"Shaun's passion for England Rugby League is matched by meticulous planning and preparation, and come autumn 2021 there will not be a better-prepared international side at the World Cup."

Wane won three Super League Grand Finals as Wigan Warriors boss between 2011 and 2018 in his only previous senior rugby league coaching role.

Prior to taking the England job this year, he had been working as high performance coach for Scottish Rugby.

Sergio Perez believes rumours linking Sebastian Vettel with a move to Racing Point will soon disappear.

Four-time Formula One champion Vettel is without a team for 2021 after Ferrari opted not to renew his contract.

At the British Grand Prix, the German was pictured bumping elbows with Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll – the father of Perez's team-mate Lance Stroll – and sharing a ride in team principal Otmar Szafnauer's Ferrari.

However, Perez, who will return to the paddock at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix after missing the previous two races due to positive coronavirus tests, has no concerns about his future with the team.

"With the rumours of Sebastian, I think there's nothing I can do," said Perez.

"What I've heard from the team is that we all want to keep going, to continue. So I believe it's just a matter of time before those rumours can go away."

Asked if he had spoken to the team about a seat for 2021, he replied: "No, not really, given that my position with the team looks quite secure.

"That's the feeling that I've been getting. We are fully on this package, and we want to continue as well."

Vettel's interactions with two high-ranking people at Racing Point did not make Perez feel that his seat was in jeopardy.

"I think Otmar, he's a very proud Ferrari owner!" Perez said.

"What do I make of it? Nothing. I think everyone is free to do what they want, especially outside the racing.

"Between the elbow with Lawrence, nothing really to say. I don't make anything of it."

Page 2 of 1021
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.