Defending champion Naomi Osaka sailed into the third round of the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Saisai Zheng. 

In warm but breezy conditions in Melbourne, third seed Osaka defeated China's Zheng 6-2 6-4 on Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday.

Japanese star Osaka will next face either teenage sensation Coco Gauff or Sorana Cirstea at Melbourne Park.

Osaka made a strong start in front of a healthy Japanese contingent, breaking in the second game for a 2-0 lead, only to be broken back immediately after firing a forehand long.

Zheng managed to get back on serve, however, consecutive double faults handed the break back to Osaka, whose power and precision helped wrap up the set in 34 minutes.

Osaka fended off two break points in the opening game of the second set, but Zheng continued to have her chances on the two-time grand slam champion's serve.

Zheng, who also saved a break point to hold for 1-1, finally broke at the fifth time of asking as she moved ahead 2-1.

The disciplined approach from Zheng frustrated Osaka, who threw and kicked her racquet before claiming the break back instantly. The pair traded breaks as Osaka's unforced errors grew, until the latter composed herself to see out the match after one hour, 20 minutes.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Naomi Osaka [3] bt Saisai Zheng 6-2 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Osaka – 20/30
Zheng – 7/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Osaka – 0/2
Zheng – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Osaka – 6/12
Zheng – 3/7

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Osaka – 59
Zheng – 68

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Osaka – 63/50
Zheng – 50/29

TOTAL POINTS
Osaka – 61
Zheng – 46

New York Yankees great Derek Jeter was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Larry Walker on Tuesday.

Jeter featured on the ballot for the first time and fell one vote short of becoming the second inductee to achieve unanimous selection, behind former team-mate Mariano Rivera.

A five-time World Series champion, Jeter spent his entire career with the Yankees after making his MLB debut in 1995.

He was an All-Star on 14 occasions and won five Gold Gloves before retiring at the end of the 2014 season.

Rivera, inducted in 2019, said: "Derek prided himself on being a consistent presence. No moment was too big. He was fearless and he was the type of leader we knew we could count on year after year.

"I feel so fortunate that he was a team-mate and friend for my entire career and I congratulate him on this great honour."

Canadian right fielder Walker, who starred for the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St Louis Cardinals, narrowly surpassed the 75 per cent voting threshold required for Hall of Fame selection in his 10th and final year of selection eligibility.

The induction ceremony will take place on July 26 in Cooperstown, New York, home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Can Rafael Nadal win his first Australian Open since 2009? The world number one continues his quest against Federico Delbonis in the second round on Thursday.

Only one adrift of Roger Federer's record haul of 20 grand slams, Nadal has reached four finals at Melbourne Park without success since claiming his sole Norman Brookes Challenge Cup 11 years ago.

Nadal did, however, sweep the French and US Open titles last year after he was completely outclassed by Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open decider.

We take a closer look at the 33-year-old as he prepares for another match in Melbourne.

 

Form and results

Nadal had little problems in his straight-sets win against Bolivia's Hugo Dellien. Forced to grind early, the top seed eventually outclassed the world number 73 in just over two hours on Rod Laver Arena. A total of 38 winners and eight breaks proved the difference for the relentlessly consistent Nadal.

R1: bt Dellien 6-2 6-3 6-0

Next up

Nadal - who boasts a 3-0 head-to-head record - will look to maintain his perfect run against Delbonis, though this is the first clash outside of South America. Argentine veteran Delbonis advanced to the second round thanks to a straight-sets victory over Joao Sousa on Tuesday. This is only the second time Delbonis has made it beyond the first round of the Australian Open - he reached the third round in 2016.

Draw

An all-Spanish affair could await Nadal in the third round, with Pablo Carreno Busta looming depending on results. Things could get juicy in the fourth round if the superstar makes it that far. Nick Kyrgios, who has history with Nadal, might stand in the way of a quarter-final berth.

What he said

"I have been a break up twice in the fifth set and I lost. Another time I have been injured in a final, of course, against a great opponent. At that time against an opponent that in that moment I have been, like, 14-0 against him on the head-to-head record. I had a problem on my luck in the final. Then other times, like 2018, I get injured against [Marin] Cilic. I went through a couple of things, more than in New York honestly. But I don't know. Maybe the conditions are better for me in New York than here."

Zion Williamson admitted he "wanted to punch a wall or kick chairs" during his time in the treatment room - but the number one draft pick is now set for his NBA debut.

The 19-year-old is expected to play for the New Orleans Pelicans against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, with several reports saying he will be in the starting five.

Williamson, who shone for Duke during his one-season college career, is expected to a superstar in the NBA.

He has already signed a shoe deal reputedly worth $75million over seven years, and comparisons have often been drawn to LeBron James.

The debut game may reveal several tells as to how Williamson will cope in the league, with the teenager relieved to have recovered fully from the torn meniscus he suffered before the season got under way.

That blow occurred in October, setting back a player who had been highly impressive in preseason games.

He said rehab was "long and strenuous", adding: "I just wanted to punch a wall or kick chairs. It was frustrating not being able to move your body the way you want to, not to make any athletic movements.

"It was tough, especially because I was 19 and hadn't played my first NBA game. It was tough but I battled through."

Williamson may make the smoothest of transitions, or it could take the young forward a while to attune to the pace of the game.

One thing is for sure, it will be almost a whole new ball game, compared to turning out for Duke.

"This is my first NBA game. This is business now. It's different," he said. "I think there will be a learning curve. I don't think it'll be nothing dramatic.

"I'm not really putting pressure on it at all. I love to play basketball so I'm just looking to go out there, have fun, and compete."

He realises the spotlight will fall on him, and his debut showing will be heavily scrutinised.

"I know the people in New Orleans are going to show a lot of love because that's what they do. But from the other side, all I can do is invite the love. If they want to bring it, they can bring it," Williamson said.

"I'm just 19. I'm taking all this in and I'm just going to enjoy the process."

Born in Salisbury, North Carolina, Williamson said it felt as though the people of New Orleans had "adopted me a bit".

"It's been great. The city's beautiful, the people are beautiful as well. They welcome me," he said.

"They show love everywhere I go and tell me they can't wait for me to get back out there."

Asked how good he could prove to be, Williamson told reporters: "Do I even get to determine that? My plan is to go out and contribute where coach needs me."

He hopes to provide capable support to Brandon Ingram, who is scoring 25.6 points per game this season.

"I had a lot of fun watching him," Williamson said. "In my opinion I think he's a definite All-Star, I've got to say that.

"He's come so far in just a few months since we've started, and I'm just looking to feed off that."

Tiger Woods says he does not give any thought to winning a record 83rd PGA Tour title as he prepares to tee off for the first time this year in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods matched Sam Snead's haul of 82 titles by winning the Zozo Championship last October.

All eyes will be on the 15-time major champion when he starts his bid to better that tally at Torrey Pines on Thursday, but Woods says the prospect of making history has not been playing on his mind.

"That number, just trying to get to 83, I really don't think about it," Woods told the media on Tuesday.

"Because I still have to think about all the things I need to do to win the golf tournament. There's so many different shots I have to play. Strategy, thinking my way around the golf course. I'm more consumed in that."

The legendary American ended an 11-year major drought at the Masters last year and says he is merely happy to be in a position to challenge for further honours rather than being driven to hunt down Jack Nicklaus's record total of 18.

"Even to get to the number I'm at right now, 15, is a lot," the 44-year-old added.

"Not too many guys who are around have seen that kind of number before. It's just going to take time. It took Jack about 26 years to get to his number, it's taken me 20-odd years to get to my mine.

"It just takes time to accumulate wins. There were a number of years where I didn't play so there were some missed opportunities. But I'm playing again now so these are blessed opportunities and I didn't think I'd have these."

Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open seven times, most recently in 2013.

Warrington Wolves have signed Gold Coast Titans prop Leilani Latu on a two-year deal.

The Tongan powerhouse arrives at the Halliwell Jones Stadium following two seasons with the Titans.

Warrington revealed Latu was in demand and head coach Steve Price believes the 26-year-old is yet to realise his potential.

"We are always looking for quality rugby players to bring to our club and we feel Leilani fits that," said Price.

"I'm looking forward to working with him and developing his game during his time at Warrington as we feel there is a lot more he can bring to the game."

Latu said: "I'm looking forward to getting into training with the boys and creating some combinations with them. It's an exciting brand of footy here and I couldn't turn down the opportunity.

"I chose Warrington because of the quality of players, and I have played with a couple of them back in the NRL, too; Ben Murdoch-Masila and Sitaleki Akauola at Penrith and we had some success there."

The Challenge Cup holders will face Wigan Warriors in the first match of the Super League season next Thursday.

Colombia's Wimbledon and US Open doubles champion Robert Farah was formally placed on provisional suspension on Tuesday following his positive test for a banned steroid.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the top-ranked men's doubles player had not exercised his right to contend why he should not be temporarily prevented from competing.

Farah and the ITF had confirmed the positive out-of-competition test on January 14, when it was revealed the sample was taken on October 17, 2019, and contained the steroid Bolderone.

He is not entered in the ongoing Australian Open and has blamed the positive test on contaminated meat, with Boldenone frequently used by Colombian farmers to boost growth in cows.

As a matter of procedure, Farah has now been put under the mandatory suspension pending a hearing to resolve the case.

The ITF issued a statement that said: "Robert Farah has been provisionally suspended under article 8.3.1(c) of the 2019 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, pending determination of the charge against him at a full hearing..."

It added: "Mr Farah had (and retains) the right to apply to the chair of the independent tribunal convened to hear his case why the provisional suspension should not be imposed, but has chosen not to exercise that right to date."

Farah, who turned 33 on Monday, partnered his fellow Colombian Juan Sebastian Cabal to last year's two grand slam wins.

Odell Beckham Jr. underwent core muscle surgery on Tuesday, the Cleveland Browns announced.

Wide receiver Beckham was expected to have an operation in the offseason, having played through injury for the Browns.

A team statement read: "The surgery was performed by Dr. Bill Meyers in Philadelphia, and a full recovery is expected.

"Beckham dealt with injuries throughout his first season with the Browns but never missed a game."

There were question marks about the three-time Pro Bowler's future after Cleveland went 6-10 in the 2019 NFL season, but he affirmed his commitment to the franchise in December.

Beckham caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns in his first campaign with the Browns following a trade from the New York Giants.

Chris Paul is adamant he will not waive the final year of his contract to be traded to a contender for the NBA championship.

The Houston Rockets sent Paul, first-round picks for 2024 and 2026 and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire Russell Westbrook in the offseason.

It was expected the Thunder, who gained more draft capital and the promising Shai Gilgeous-Alexander by letting Paul George team up with Kawhi Leonard at the Los Angeles Clippers, would quickly look to move the nine-time All-Star on.

However, Paul has remained in Oklahoma City and led them to a 25-19 record – their latest match a 112-107 triumph over the Rockets at Toyota Center – making them surprise playoff contenders in the Western Conference.

Paul's $44.2million player option for the 2021-22 season is seen as a major obstacle in potential trade talks, but the 15-year point guard has no plan to give it up in pursuit of a ring.

"No chance. That's not happening. Nope," Paul told Sports Illustrated.

He continued: "People always try to tell your story. I'm just in the moment. If something happens and I get moved, I'll make adjustments. For now, I get to hoop. I get to play. My body feels good. I'm excited.

"I am without my wife and my kids, and when I get to practice, I'm excited to be there. I know we're going to compete. We have a fun team. That's all you want. A chance and an opportunity to compete.

"I guess I'm just different. Analytics may say this, the odds may say this. When the ball goes up that night, I think we have a chance to win."

Paul was surprised by the speed of his trade from the Rockets and the Thunder intend to do all they can to ensure he is happy with his next location if it comes to him being moved on.

"Outside of the immediate aftermath of when we initially traded for Chris, we haven't talked at all about the future or felt we needed to," said OKC general manager Sam Presti.

"Given that the trade happened so quickly for him and took him off guard, we thought it was important to build some trust, some rapport, and approach things collaboratively with his representation to see where his head was with respect to the situation with us. He never flinched, and that gave us confidence.

"His professionalism, his outlook, and his maturity have been on another level. We are going through a transition ourselves, so it's somewhat poetic, how he has returned at this point in the organisational timeline, and how he's elevated our team.

"All I can say is that Chris has been all we could have hoped for and more."

Will Skelton has been banned for four weeks for a dangerous late tackle on Brice Dulin in beleaguered Saracens' crucial European Champions Cup win over Racing 92 on Sunday.

Skelton was shown a red card just before half-time at Allianz Park after his shoulder struck full-back Dulin's head.

Sarries went on to win 27-24, setting up a quarter-final at Leinster, a day after their relegation to the Championship at the end of the season was confirmed due to salary-cap breaches.

Skelton attended an independent disciplinary hearing in London on Tuesday and the Australian is set to miss the European champions' Premiership clash with Harlequins, two encounters with Sale Sharks – in the league and Premiership Rugby Cup – and a top-flight game at Wasps.

The towering 27-year-old's guilty plea, good disciplinary record and expression of remorse were taken into account when his sanction was handed out.

Skelton will be available to return against Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens on February 29.

Sarries travel to Dublin to face Leinster at the Aviva Stadium in a repeat of last year's final in the first week of April.

 

 

In-demand Wales wing Steff Evans has ended speculation over his future by signing a new deal with the Scarlets.

The 25-year-old flyer attracted interest from France as he neared the end of his contract.

Evans has decided to remain with his home region ahead of the Six Nations, with no mention from the Scarlets of the length of his new deal.

Capped 13 times by the Six Nations champions, Evans said: "I am loving my rugby here at the moment so it was an easy decision to stay with the Scarlets.

"The coaches have built a great environment that all the players are buying into and there's a real buzz about the place at the moment.

"This is my home region, I grew up watching the Scarlets and to have made more than 100 appearances is an achievement I am hugely proud of.

"The squad here is as strong as it has been since I have been here and I really feel there are exciting times ahead.

"The boys have been playing some great rugby this season, we are still alive in two competitions and I am looking forward to playing my part in what should be an exciting few months to come."

Alexander Zverev says he will donate the full $2.83million Australian Open winner's prize fund to bushfire relief if he goes all the way to win the tournament.

Speaking after his 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 first-round win over Marco Cecchinato, the German pledged to donate $10,000 for every match he wins in Melbourne and "every cent" of the winner's cheque if he goes all the way.

Zverev also played in the Rally for Relief event with a host of other tennis stars prior to the Australian Open and has now made an individual gesture.

"I will donate $10,000 for every match I win here," Zverev said in his on-court interview after beating Italian Cecchinato.

"I know I'm not the favourite, but if I win this event I will donate every cent to the bushfires.

"Obviously Australia is a country that is home for us for over a month every year. We heard what is going on with the bushfires, with the animals and with people losing their homes. So thank you very much, I hope we get a lot of support."

Zverev had a dreadful performance at the ATP Cup as he lost all three of his matches, struggling with his serve in particular.

He had four double faults and dropped serve three times in the win over Cecchinato, while hitting eight aces as part of 35 winners in a match that lasted two hours and 23 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

Seventh seed Zverev was optimistic over the improvement he showed, adding: "It was a great first-round match, a lot of high-level tennis, especially from the baseline.

"I hope maybe I can do better than the last few years. I'm a year older, not much wiser, but trying my best, practising hard and trying to do the right things."

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova came through their first-round matches at the Australian Open, as Maria Sharapova suffered an early exit in the women's singles.

Fourth seed Halep was handed a testing opener against Jennifer Brady, who had beaten Ash Barty at the Brisbane International this month.

But the Romanian prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 in one hour and 36 minutes to join home hope Barty, defending champion Naomi Osaka and tournament favourite Serena Williams in round two.

An up-and-down first set was crucial, as Halep twice recovered from a break down and saved three set points while Brady was serving at 6-5.

Halep found a way to force a tie-break and then edged it 7-5 before running away with the contest in the second set.

Wimbledon champion Halep also had to overcome a first-set fall that required the trainer to check on her wrist and joked she had also stumbled in her first match of the 2018 tournament, when she made it all the way to the final.

"In 2018 it was the same, probably I can repeat that!" said Halep.

"I don't know why in the first round always I fall down. Maybe it's a good sign but it's too far to think about that.

"My wrist is pretty painful. I need to chill and recover for the second round."

Second seed Pliskova earned a 6-1 7-5 victory over Kristina Mladenovic, losing serve just once in the 87-minute battle. The Czech faces Laura Siegemund next, while Halep will take on Harriet Dart.


TOP 10 ALL THROUGH AS SHARAPOVA'S WOES CONTINUE

Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the first round of a grand slam following a 6-3 6-4 defeat against 19th seed Donna Vekic as the former world number one hit 31 unforced errors.

A first-round casualty at Wimbledon and the US Open, Sharapova - who has been struggling for form and fitness - crashed out in the first round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010.

Sixth seed Belinda Bencic won 6-3 7-5 against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, while Madison Keys was a 6-3 6-1 victor against Daria Kasatkina, as all of the top 10 seeds moved safely into round two.

Elina Svitolina claimed a 6-4 7-5 victory in her match against Katie Boulter, while former grand slam champions Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza were winners against Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Shelby Rogers respectively. Muguruza won by an unusual 0-6 6-1 6-0 scoreline.


KONTA AND VONDROUSOVA BOW OUT

Johanna Konta, Marketa Vondrousova, Amanda Anisimova and Anastasija Sevastova were the seeds to fall on day two.

An Australian Open semi-finalist in 2016, British 12th seed Konta suffered a 6-4 6-2 loss to Ons Jabeur.

On the comeback trail following a tendinitis-related problem in her right knee, which forced her to withdraw from Brisbane and Adelaide, Konta was only making her second appearance since losing in the US Open quarter-finals last year.

Konta said: "Ultimately the main thing was to start playing again, and I am. How I physically felt out there is obviously a massive tick for me compared to where I was in September. Before Brisbane I had been out for almost four-and-a-half months."

Czech Vondrousova, the 15th seed and French Open finalist last year, lost in three sets to Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Another rising star fell as 18-year-old American Anisimova lost out in a final set to Zarina Diyas, while home hope Ajla Tomljanovic emphatically accounted for Sevastova with a 6-1 6-1 triumph to book a round-two meeting with Muguruza.

Rafael Nadal acknowledged he had displayed "caution" in his straightforward first-round win over Hugo Dellien at the Australian Open, while Daniil Medvedev tasted victory in his opening match.

World number one Nadal eased to a 6-2 6-3 6-0 victory in just over two hours at Rod Laver Arena, hitting 38 winners to 21 unforced errors.

Nadal, who had his serve broken twice, stepped it up a gear in a ruthless third set, but initially was more focused on not making any silly mistakes.

"It was a solid start," Nadal said after booking a round-two match against Federico Delbonis, who won his match with Joao Sousa.

"The third set was a great set, I think I played a very good level of tennis. The first two I played with a little bit more caution. 

"I was just trying to not do something very good, but not do something very bad. Just trying to play a solid game with not many mistakes. Just try to do the things I know that I can do, try to put myself on rhythm. 

"That was my goal at the beginning of the match. Then, of course, with an advantage on the score, I just tried to play the way that I really believe I need to play if I want to have a positive result here."

 

MEDVEDEV THROUGH AFTER TIAFOE SCARE

Fourth seed Medvedev dropped a set against Frances Tiafoe but ultimately prevailed 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2 in two hours and 36 minutes.

World number five Dominic Thiem made an impressive start with a 6-3 7-5 6-2 victory over Adrian Mannarino.

Home hope Nick Kyrgios won two tie-breaks on his way to a win in his match with Lorenzo Sonego, coming out on top 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-1), while Gael Monfils and Andrey Rublev progressed into round two.

After his troubling performance at the ATP Cup, Alexander Zverev made a positive start in Melbourne with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 victory against Italian Marco Cecchinato.

ANOTHER CANADIAN STAR FALLS

After Denis Shapovalov fell on day one, 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime succumbed to a stunning defeat on Tuesday.

He was beaten by Latvian veteran Ernests Gulbis, who emerged a 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 winner after three hours and 35 minutes.

"Every time you come to Australia the main goal is the Aussie Open, so it's not good," Auger-Aliassime said. 

"That’s what the results show. But at the same time I am staying calm and positive because I feel I am not far from playing well and winning matches."

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 28th seed, is also out. He pulled out with a back injury while two sets to one down against Australian Alexei Popyrin.

FOGNINI MAKES DRAMATIC ESCAPE

Fabio Fognini started Tuesday two sets down against American Reilly Opelka, but the Italian turned it around to escape with a dramatic 3-6 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (10-5) victory.

In the other matches that had to be completed on day two after rain delays on Monday, Roberto Bautista Agut beat Feliciano Lopez in straight sets, while Milos Raonic and Jannik Sinner also sealed their progress with straight-set wins.

LeBron James offered no excuses for the Los Angeles Lakers' display in their heavy defeat to the Boston Celtics, labelling it a "good, old-fashioned butt whooping."

The Lakers went down 139-107 to the Celtics on Monday - only the seventh time in the history of the regular-season rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics in which the margin of victory has been 30 points or more.

It was also the largest win by one team over the other since the Lakers beat the Celtics by 35 points in March 1969 and James knows his side were not up to scratch.

"I mean, listen, it was just a good, old-fashioned butt whooping," James said, in quotes reported by ESPN.

"That's all. They beat us in all facets of the game: outside, interior, points off turnovers, offensive rebounds. So, it's the main ingredients in the loss.

"We haven't moved on yet. [Tuesday], we will. Still simmering right now, which it should. But it's a long NBA season. You don't want to have games like this, but if you do, you try to learn from the mistakes. Or you do learn from the mistakes, and you move on."

Monday's big win for the Celtics was also a huge moment for Kemba Walker, who finally ended his career-long losing streak against James - a run which had lasted 28 games.

Walker, who scored 20 points in the win, kept his cool when asked about snapping the unwanted streak.

"I'm happy I got one at least, before he goes," Walker told reporters. "Who knows how long he can play, because he's just incredible. But you know, it's only one. One and 28.

I know everybody is making a big deal of the record. I have the utmost respect for LeBron and he's one of the greatest players of all time. If there was any guy I couldn't beat, it'd be him.

"He's such a great player, done so much in this league, has been so far. It just feels good to win. I'm more excited about the way we played, the way we came out, especially with the struggles we've had in the last couple of weeks, that's what I'm more excited about."

Steve Borthwick is to take over as head coach of Leicester Tigers with Geordan Murphy appointed as director of rugby.

Murphy was appointed as full-time coach in December 2018 after an interim stint but the Tigers have struggled badly this season and are second bottom of the Premiership table with just two wins from 11 matches.

The Tigers have consequently opted for a reshuffle which will see Borthwick move to Welford Road at the end of his commitment to England.

Borthwick was forwards coach for an England side who reached the Rugby World Cup final and is working as skills coach under Eddie Jones for the upcoming Six Nations.

"The last four-and-a-half years working with the England team has been an incredible journey. I have worked with some brilliant players and staff," Borthwick told Leicester's official website. 

"In particular I would like thank Eddie Jones. To have worked with one of the greatest head coaches in the world for so long has been an unbelievable experience.

"I am delighted to be joining Leicester Tigers as head coach. The Tigers have such a long and successful history and are one of the greatest rugby clubs in the game. 

"Welford Road, with the special atmosphere created by the club's incredible supporters roaring their team forward, is a very special place to be.

"We must now work to build upon that great history and create our future to get this club to the top of European rugby. It is a brilliant challenge and I am excited to start working with the players and everybody associated with the team.

"Geordan provides a link with the club's greatest teams and we will be working together to ensure that there are many successful days ahead for this club, and for our supporters to enjoy."

Murphy enjoyed a legendary playing with the Tigers, winning eight Premiership titles and back-to-back Heineken Cups and the Irishman welcomed the addition of Borthwick.

"The players and staff have all been working incredibly hard to get the club back on a pathway to where we all want to be, at the top of the professional game," Murphy said.

"We have been building a lot of the foundations around recruitment and retention of the playing squad and the success of our academy structure, and we look forward to Steve's arrival to drive the playing squad onwards.

"Steve is a world-class coach with the skills and determination to get the best out of everyone around him."

Roger Federer's bid to win a record-equalling seventh Australian Open crown continues against Filip Krajinovic in the second round on Wednesday.

Federer trails Novak Djokovic's record haul of seven titles at Melbourne Park following last year's shock fourth-round exit.

The most successful men's player in history, 20-time grand slam champion Federer has not added to his major tally in two years.

However, the 38-year-old once again looms as a threat and we take a closer look at where the third seed is at ahead of a midweek encounter in Melbourne.

 

Form and results

Federer did not play a lead-up tournament but there were no signs of rust from the Swiss sensation in the opening round. The veteran produced a polished display against Steve Johnson, hitting 34 winners and 20 unforced errors on Monday.

R1: bt Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-2

Next up

Krajinovic awaits Federer after a gruelling opening to his campaign at Melbourne Park on Tuesday. The 27-year-old Serbian was on court for almost four hours as he outlasted Quentin Halys 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 4-6 7-5 on Court 22. He will not have much time to recover, with a daunting midweek showdown with an all-time great.

Draw

If, as expected, Federer sees off Krajinovic under the Rod Laver Arena lights, a third-round meeting with either John Millman or 31st seed Hubert Hurkacz is next. A clash with Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round could also be on the horizon.

What he said

"When you win it's all good. Or even when you make a semis and beyond, you know you're in good shape, plus you're just coming off the off-season so you have the confidence. You have practice, you know, flowing through your body, too. The problem is sometimes when you play too many matches and you don't have that practice block, in a way you're just playing to win, just trying to weasel your way to the next victory and you forget how to properly play tennis. So I think the Australian Open, it's nice if you play well, but there is no drama as if it doesn't go well for the rest of the season. It's worse if later in the season success is not there and you're missing that block of practice and you can't rely on it anymore because it's too far back."

Rafael Nadal insists he is unfazed about potentially winning his 20th grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The world number one started his campaign in Melbourne with a 6-2 6-3 6-0 victory over Hugo Dellien on Tuesday.

After winning two grand slams last year, Nadal is just one away from joining Roger Federer on a men's record 20 major titles.

But the Spaniard is refusing to think about potentially reaching the tally ahead of a second-round match with Federico Delbonis or Joao Sousa.

"No. I think about Sousa or Delbonis. That's all. I think about my practice of tomorrow, try to follow up the level of tennis that I played in the third set. That should be my main goal today," Nadal told a news conference.

"I need to play at my highest level if I want to keep going in the tournament. If I am able to reach my highest level, that's the thing that I have to worry about. If I am able to play at my highest level, normally I am able to produce some good chances. If not, impossible.

"I don't care about 20 or 15 or 16. I just care about try to keep going, keep enjoying my tennis career. It's not like 20 is the number that I need to reach. If I reach 20, fantastic. If I reach 21, better. If I reach 19, super happy about all the things that I did in my tennis career.

"I am very satisfied about my tennis career because I give it all most of the time. That's the only thing that matters because, honestly, it's something I don't really think about.

"I don't think in the future achieving 21 grand slams, for example, I'm going to be happier than if I am 19 in 10 years. I won the US Open a few months ago, and I was super happy in that moment. But today I'm happier than if I didn't win the US Open? Probably not. That's the only thing that matters in this life.

"Of course, I want to do it the best way possible because that's what I am doing since the beginning of my life almost. But the only thing I can do is put all my efforts in trying to keep going the best way possible. The rest of the things, the future will see."

Jack Nicklaus had his life mapped out by the end of 1959.

Proposing to his girlfriend, nursing student and fellow Ohio State undergraduate Barbara Bash, over Christmas, the 19-year-old Nicklaus saw a clear vision of the future.

He would be, if all went to plan, a mighty fine golfer but an even better insurance salesman.

The teenage years had treated Nicklaus well. He acquired the golfing fundamentals under Jack Grout's instruction at Scioto Country Club and became a serial amateur champion, all while demonstrating diligence in his studies and a precocious talent for earning big bucks.

The idea was that he and Barbara would settle down, live a life of contentment together and want for nothing, and Jack would always have his golf. The American dream.

Never mind winning a record 18 majors; merely playing in that many was still fanciful.

Nicklaus, who turns 80 this week, was a college kid with a winning golf game, a head for figures and an effortless, neighbourly charm. Some combination.

Today he is one of the greatest and wealthiest sports stars in history.

This is the story of the 1960 U.S. Open, and how a day in Ben Hogan's company changed young Jack's life.

 

INSURANCE THE BEST POLICY?

Already the U.S. Amateur champion at the dawn of the sixties, Nicklaus realised he had a serious talent that could worry the best professionals, but was there sufficient financial incentive to go into golf full-time?

He was not so sure. Insurance paid well, and a new decade promised new money-making opportunities.

"I had probably three jobs that I was working at the same time," Nicklaus recalled.

"I was working for Ohio State Life Insurance Company, I was working for Parker and Co, which is a brokerage firm out of New York, and I was actually working for a slack company. As I travelled I did some slack promotion, well within amateur regulations.

"I was making close to about $30,000 a year. That's pretty good for a 20‑year‑old. Pretty darned good back in 1960. And I thought about playing the Tour, [but] you had to be probably in the top five to be making $30,000 a year."

Nicklaus had played on a winning Walker Cup team at Muirfield and was voted the world's leading amateur by Golf Digest magazine before turning 20. 

THE WEEK WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED

Nicklaus' golf life was transformed at the 1960 U.S. Open, specifically on the Saturday, the closing day of the tournament, when the youngster, still devoted to the unpaid ranks, was paired with the great Ben Hogan for the final 36 holes.

Over back-to-back circuits of the Cherry Hills course, set within a luxury country club in Denver's suburbs, Nicklaus later admitted: "I learned how to play golf."

Dad Charlie broke the news to young Jack that he would be playing alongside the 47-year-old Hogan, a nine-time major champion.

"It's in my personal scrapbook when my dad came in and said, 'Guess who you're playing the last two rounds with'," Nicklaus said.

"He says, 'Hogan'. It was like, you know, I'm going to get a chance to play with Ben Hogan."

Wherever Nicklaus goes today, there is a clamour for stories about his early days.

Put him in a media room and a half hour of wisdom and delicious anecdotes will spill out. Pure manna for golf reporters.

The 1960 U.S. Open has been raked over as often as the Cherry Hills bunkers. Nicklaus does not seem to mind. He knows its relevance, enjoys the reverance.

A COLLISION OF GREATS - PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Nicklaus, Hogan and Masters champion Arnold Palmer were firmly in the U.S. Open title mix that year, a coming together of generations old and new, with Palmer surging into title contention after a surge of six birdies in his first seven holes of that final round. Palmer had ominously driven the green at the par-four first.

Nicklaus, despite his amateur status, nevertheless led as he reached the turn.

Put succinctly, Nicklaus' putter went stone cold and he fluffed that chance of glory, while playing partner Hogan blew up on the 35th and 36th holes of the day, a bogey and a triple from the veteran handing victory to Palmer, whose six-under-par 65 took him from seven shots back at the start of the round to first place, four under for the tournament.

While Nicklaus placed second, Hogan trailed home tied for ninth, cursing his costly drive into water at the last. Nicklaus, however, was tracking his playing partner's every shot.

"The first time he missed a green was the 35th hole we played," Nicklaus said. "He hit the ball in the fairway, he managed his game. He played little hooks, little slices, little short slots and he played conservative shots. And he made some putts and missed a lot putts. Hogan stood over a putt for about an hour in those days.

"They talk about all the putts he missed but he holed a ton of putts. He was my kind of guy to play with. We walked down the fairway; pleasantries. When you hit a good shot, if he said it was a good shot, you knew darned well it was a good shot.

"And if you didn't hit a good shot, you weren't expecting to hear anything, which you didn't."

"IF HE HAD A BRAIN IN HIS HEAD..."

Nicklaus has often quibbled with a quote attributed to Hogan from Cherry Hills, with Hogan said to have told US sports writer Dan Jenkins: "I played with a kid today who would have won by 10 strokes if he knew what he was doing."

A conversation with Jenkins, who died last year, set the record straight for Nicklaus - if not entirely favourably for golf's future 'Golden Bear'.

According to Nicklaus, Jenkins revealed how Hogan actually said he partnered a player "who if he had a brain in his head, would have won by 10 strokes".

Nicklaus offers a similarly self-flagellating take of what happened over those closing holes, as the winning line came into view.

"I blew it," he said. "I had the tournament reasonably well in hand if I had known how to play.

"I remember walking off the 12th green. I looked at the leaderboard, and there was one 5 on the board [indicating a score of five under par] and that was me.

"I three-putted 13, 14. And after I look at the leaderboard, 'Nice going, Jack'. Then I miss a three-footer at 16, and about an eight-footer at 17 and bogey 18 to lose that golf tournament. That's a pretty poor finish. You learn from that."

Nicklaus conceded he "didn't know how to win at 20 years old, not against the guys". That changed soon enough.

"THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME"

Marrying Barbara a month after his Cherry Hills exploits, Nicklaus remained in the amateur ranks, making his money in the 'real world'.

Eventually, having landed his second U.S. Amateur title, he turned professional in November 1961.

"I decided I really didn't care about being the best insurance salesman," Nicklaus said. "I really wanted to be a guy who could be the best at playing golf.

"And the only way to do that is to play against the best. And so that was why I turned pro."

There was no standing on ceremony either once that status was acquired.

His maiden major triumph came when Oakmont hosted the U.S. Open in 1962, beating Palmer in a play-off. The Masters and US PGA titles followed in 1963, and by 1964, Nicklaus was the leading money-winner on the PGA Tour, trouncing what he might have earned with a sharp suit, fedora and briefcase.

Nicklaus will be forever associated with Cherry Hills, and the tournament where he "proceeded to fall apart like a three-dollar suitcase".

Now that he has turned 80, with Hogan long gone and Palmer having passed on to life's 19th hole more than three years ago, it falls to Nicklaus to recount the stories of yesteryear.

All being even, he has not told his last tale of Cherry Hills. This story is assembled from hour after hour of Nicklaus reminiscing with golf's press pack.

"I look back on it, and I say, you know, I would have loved to have won that tournament," Nicklaus said. "But maybe the best thing that ever happened to me was the learning experience that I had from it.

"Did it destroy my life? No. I learned from it. I put what I learned there to use. Did I do it again? Sure. But did I do it to the same degree? No."

THROW A RIGHT ONCE YOU CAN SMELL MONEY

Leaving Denver today on Interstate 25 - the Valley Highway - you can leave the five-lane carriageway by Veterans Park and begin the South University Boulevard approach to Cherry Hills Country Club.

An urban, gridded landscape - studentville around the University of Denver, block after block of modern apartments, a Wendy's burger joint - gives way after a couple of miles to a greener, tree-lined avenue, and a sprawl of gated communities, a millionaire's paradise.

Peyton Manning reputedly calls this home. David Duval has lived in a mansion practically overlooking the course.

Once you can positively smell money, throwing a right turn at a barely conspicuous but traffic-lighted junction reveals the country club, its mock-tudor clubhouse soon coming into view.

Behind that members' sanctuary, its eight tennis courts and a huge swimming pool, lies a golf course steeped in history.

This is not the course that Jack built - even though today there are over 400 Nicklaus-designed courses across the world.

But it is where the Nicklaus legend was born, perhaps the key stepping stone towards insurance's temporary claim becoming golf's greatest fixed asset.

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