Tiger Woods carded the third-worst round in a major of his career on Saturday after producing a miserable 79 at the US PGA Championship.

Woods had rebounded from a disappointing opening round of 74 to make the cut with Friday score of 69, which even he admitted "wasn't pretty".

However, things were far less pretty in his third round, especially on the sixth hole as he suffered a triple bogey.

Up until that point, the 46-year-old had not been doing too badly, making par on four of the first five holes (one bogey), but that setback on six led to a slide.

After another bogey at seven in tough conditions, Woods made par on eight before bogeying five holes in a row to sit on 10 over for the round after 13 holes.

The 15-time major champion was able to save some face after that, making par on 14 before his first and only birdie of the day at 15.

Three pars to finish saved his blushes as he just avoided carding 80, which he has only ever done twice at majors - scoring 81 in round three of the 2002 Open Championship, and 80 in the first round of the 2015 US Open.

He goes into Sunday on 12 over par, tied for 76th.

 

Angelique Kerber overcame Kaja Juvan in an epic Internationaux de Strasbourg final, with all three sets going to tie-breaks.

The two played for three hours and 16 minutes on Saturday – the longest WTA final of the year – with Kerber eventually sealing it 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (0-7) 7-6 (7-5) to win her first clay court trophy in over six years.

In their only previous meeting in 2020, Juvan upset the former world number one at the French Open, and the 21-year-old gave Kerber another scare here.

There were three breaks of serve each in the first set, with neither able to take control, before the German edged the first of the trio of tie-breaks.

Juvan and Kerber exchanged two breaks each in the second, though it was the Slovenian who was finding more opportunities, forcing the number two seed to save eight further break points across the set, before dominating the second breaker.

Neither was able to pull away in the third, with Kerber breaking early, before Juvan hit right back. It felt inevitable that the third set would follow the first two in going to a tie-break, and so it proved.

Kerber finally put her determined opponent away and paid tribute to the world number 81 in her maiden WTA final during her on-court interview, saying: "Well done Kaja, you played a great week and also a tough final... I wish you all the best in Paris [the French Open] so good luck there."

In the final of the Morocco Open, Martina Trevisan eased to her first WTA title at the expense of Claire Liu in just over 90 minutes.

The Italian dominated her opponent in a 6-2 6-1 victory after winning 63.0 per cent of her first serve points and saving nine of 10 break points.

Liu just could not get going, only winning 38.7 per cent of her own first serve points as she was unable to contain Trevisan, who becomes the second first-time champion in 2022 after Anastasia Potapova in Istanbul.

Trevisan dedicated the win to her father, saying: "I would like to dedicate this trophy to my dad. He can't see me in this moment but I know he would be very proud of me. He is a fighter like me during this week, but during his whole life - so this is for you, dad."

Simon Yates did not want to put "a downer" on his stage 14 victory at the Giro d'Italia but is far from satisfied with his overall race. 

Yates was seen as one of the contenders for the maglia rosa heading into the first Grand Tour of 2022 but the Briton is way down in 17th place in the general classification standings, 18 minutes and 44 seconds off new race leader Richard Carapaz. 

Team BikeExchange-Jayco rider Yates, who won the individual time trial in Budapest on stage two, finished 15 seconds ahead of second-placed Jai Hindley on a day that threw the race wide open. 

Yates latched onto a chasing pack that caught up with INEOS Grenadiers rider and 2019 Giro winner Carapaz, who had made a break with 28 kilometres remaining in Saturday's 147km route from Santena to Turin – the first of four consecutive mountain stages. 

Hindley and Vincenzo Nibali, who is racing in his final Giro, were the initial chasers, but Yates – whose GC hopes were all but ended when he dropped 11 minutes on the Blockhaus climb on stage nine – had the momentum to cruise to victory. 

While Yates was delighted with a sixth Giro stage win of his career, he could not help but be frustrated by being so far off the pace overall. 

"I mean, not to put a downer on the day, but I came here to win the race," the 29-year-old said. "For me, it's another stage. I have five already and it's number six. 

"I hope the legs stay as good as today. Today was a really big effort, not just for me but for everybody. The gaps are enormous, so if this heat sticks around it's going to be a very hard final week." 

A bad day for Lopez

Juan Pedro Lopez wore pink for 10 straight days but Saturday's stage was always likely to prove crucial and he went from holding a 12-second lead to ninth place, four minutes and four seconds behind Carapraz. 

The experienced Ecuadorian attacked at just the right time for the GC standings, even if he was unable to hold on for the stage win.  

STAGE RESULT

1. Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) 3:43:44 
2. Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) +0:15 
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:15 
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan Team) +0:15 
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +0:28 

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS   

General Classification  

1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 58:21:28 
2. Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) +0:07 
3. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +0:30 

Points Classification

1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 238 
2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 121 
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 117 

King of the Mountains  

1. Diego Rosa (Eolo-Kometa) 92 
2. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 69 
3. Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) 62 

Casper Ruud retained his Geneva Open title with a hard-fought defeat of Joao Sousa on Saturday.

Ruud had to dig deep in the deciding set, breaking Sousa when the Portuguese was serving for the title at 5-4, before going on to win 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 7-6 (7-1).

The world number nine has now won six of his last seven ATP 250 events on clay, and is the first player since Stan Wawrinka (2016 and 2017) to win more than one Geneva Open title.

Ruud served five aces in the first set on his way to edging a tie-break, but a determined Sousa was able to level in a second set in which he won eight of 11 second-service points.

It looked like Sousa would cause an upset against the tournament's second seed when serving for the match, only for Ruud to break back and use that momentum to take the win.

The Norwegian made the semi-finals at the Internazionali d'Italia last week and maintained his momentum ahead of the French Open by lifting the trophy in Switzerland.

"It was one of the craziest matches that I have ever played," he said in his on-court interview. "It was a lot of up and down. Sousa was close to winning and then suddenly everything turns around and this is tennis.

"This win feels so good, but you have to give a lot of credit to Joao because he fought back from one set down and has been playing well all week.

"It was just a matter of one or two points today and luckily they went in my favour."

At the Lyon Open, it was Cameron Norrie who emerged triumphant as the Brit beat Alex Molcan 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-1.

Norrie – who was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final – was largely on top throughout, firing down six aces and boasting an impressive success rate of 72 per cent of first serve points won, while also saving five of seven break points against his Slovakian opponent.

The top seed could have won in straight sets, but was unable to convert two match points in the second before being forced to a decider by Molcan.

It is Norrie's second ATP title of the season and the fourth of his career. It is his first on clay as he prepares for the second grand slam of the year at Roland Garros.

"It is my first title on the clay so it means a lot to me," Norrie said. "I can't be happier with how I handled everything this week. This one feels the best so far. I don't know why, it is just so special and I couldn't be happier and am really speechless right now. It was an incredible atmosphere. Thanks to everyone for coming out.

"I had chances to close the matches in straight sets this week and get it done easier than usual and it didn't go that way and I was able to let that go and respond. In the third set I moved really well and it is nice to get over the line."

Lewis Hamilton was "a little bit gutted" by qualifying sixth for the Spanish Grand Prix but is confident Mercedes can challenge Ferrari on race day. 

Mercedes have endured a dismal start to the season and struggled to match the pace of the Red Bulls and Ferraris, with Hamilton's only podium coming when he finished third in Bahrain. 

There have been significant signs of improvement at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – where Charles Leclerc pipped Max Verstappen to pole – but the seven-time champion was still outqualified by team-mate George Russell, who will start from fourth. 

However, Hamilton hopes to be able to mix it with the Ferraris ahead of him on Sunday. 

"The team have done a great job so a big, big thank you to everyone for keeping pushing back at the factory because we don't have bouncing in a straight line, which is a huge improvement for us. And the car has generally been nicer this weekend," Hamilton told Sky Sports. 

"I am a little bit gutted [being sixth] because I want to be further up ahead, and you've obviously seen George is able to put it up further ahead than me, but I will keep pushing. 

"[Friday practice] was our best race pace that we've had so if we could start racing with the Ferraris, for example, that would be amazing. 

"I think the Red Bulls look like they might be quickest but we look like we could maybe compete with the Ferraris tomorrow and that is a big step for us." 

Team principal Toto Wolff thinks the bouncing issues that have plagued Mercedes being solved has primed them to make further strides as the season continues. 

"I think we have taken a solid step into Barcelona. You try to keep your expectations at a realistic point and I think where we slotted in is somehow the best we could have expected," said Wolff. 

"My belief is we have a race car more than a qualifying car, but we're going to see tomorrow how it went for the others. I think with Red Bull, they always have the tendency of being much stronger in the race than the Ferraris. 

"We know how to unlock more performance, but we're not yet there. It's step by step. The other teams have continued to develop their cars when we've been in a sort of pause moment to find out about the bouncing. 

"So we can pick up the regular development as soon as we understand the tyres now the bouncing is gone." 

Charles Leclerc recovered from a Q3 spin to take pole as Max Verstappen was left to rue a DRS failure in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. 

Ferrari driver Leclerc span out at turn 14 on his first flying lap but produced an immense time with his next and only completed attempt, to ensure he will start from the front of the grid. 

All four of the Monegasque driver's Formula One victories have come after starting on pole. Some 28 of the past 31 winners at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya qualified on the front row.

Verstappen aborted his final lap after reporting a loss of power, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner confirming to Sky Sports that was due to a DRS issue. 

The Dutchman will consequently start from second, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in third.

"I feel good. It was a difficult session, especially in Q3 because I made a mistake in the first run and then only had one lap," said Leclerc.

"But it went extremely well, I had a few moments but made it stick and very happy with pole position. It was a very good lap and the car was amazing too, so very happy.

"We've been struggling with tyres in the last few races compared to Red Bull, so Max is just behind. If we don't manage those tyres we will lose that advantage, so we need to get on top of it.

"I hope we can do a one-two. It will be great for the team and we will give it our all."

Verstappen acknowledged he may not have been able to beat Leclerc's time but still felt second was a good return for the team.

"It's always difficult to tell, I couldn't do my final run. Either the DRS didn't open or I just lost power," he said.

"It's a bit of a shame, but overall to be on the front row here looking at the whole weekend here, it's a good achievement, but I'd have liked to go for that final run.

"Hopefully, our car will be a bit kinder on the tyres again, but it's difficult to tell at the moment."

Sainz added: "I think everything is possible tomorrow. We are definitely going to try our best to get ahead at the start and lead from there, but it wasn't the ideal qualifying because I couldn't set a good lap on the used tyre."

George Russell was fourth and Lewis Hamilton qualified sixth as Mercedes' record run of nine straight poles in Barcelona came to an end.

Mick Schumacher will start 10th after making it through to Q3 for the first time in his career, while home favourite Fernando Alonso was eliminated in Q1 alongside the two controversially remodelled Aston Martins.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:18.750
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.323s
3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.416s
4. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.643s
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.670s
6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.762s
7. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.858s
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +0.932s
9. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.547s
10. Mick Schumacher (Haas) +1.618s

Tiger Woods reiterated his delight that he is even able to be back out on the course after he made the cut at the US PGA Championship.

Woods had a difficult first round at Southern Hills County Club, carding 74 to leave him with plenty of work to do to make the weekend.

Yet the 15-time major champion recovered in fine fashion on Friday, going round in 69 to leave him at three over and T53.

While a push for a fifth US PGA Championship title – and a first since 2007 – seems unlikely, Woods is relishing being back at the biggest events.

He returned at the Masters last month just over a year after suffering serious injuries in a car accident in California.

"Well, just the fact that I'm able to play golf again and play in our biggest championships," he said after his round on Friday.

"As I alluded to earlier, you guys all know, I'm not going to be playing a lot of tournaments going forward. They're going to be the biggest tournaments.

"I want to be able to play the major championships. I've always loved playing them.

"Coming back here to a place that I've had success on, to play against the best players in the world, that's what we all want to be able to do.

"Fortunately enough, I'm able to somehow do it. I've had a great PT staff that have put Humpty Dumpty back together."

Bubba Watson matched the lowest round in PGA Championship history as he shot 63 in his second round to propel himself up the leaderboard.

And Watson's effort is something Woods hopes he can replicate over the weekend to put himself in contention.

"I'm hoping I can shoot a number like Bubba did today," he added. "That's where my mind is at right now. I've got to do some things physically to get myself there tomorrow and it will be a quick turnaround.

"That's the reward you get for just making the cut. You get to tee off early the next day, and hopefully I can get it in. The weather is supposed to be a little more difficult and be a little more testy, and hopefully that's the case.

"If that's the case, hopefully I can post a good round and at least move up the board, get myself within striking distance on Sunday. I'm pretty far back, but you just never know.

"Major championships are hard to win. We've seen guys with big leads or have made big comebacks, so you just never know."

Miami. That's where this started. Where Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek were both champions at the same tournament for the first time.

Expect it to become, if not the norm, a regular occurrence over the coming years. Like Serena and Roger, and like Pete and Steffi before them, Carlos and Iga could well become the tennis royalty that reign above all others on the tour.

The 19-year-old Alcaraz heads to Roland Garros with four titles on the ATP tour this season, while 20-year-old Swiatek has five on the WTA circuit. Those are both tour-leading figures, with Alcaraz triumphing in Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Barcelona and Madrid, while Swiatek has won in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome.

It is a global game, and these two are world leaders, based on their recent form. The Miami Open was as recently as April, and now the French Open awaits.

Swiatek has shown she can win big in Paris already, storming to the title without dropping a set as the world number 54 in October 2020, against all expectations. Nobody, Swiatek included, saw that coming, but the emergence of Alcaraz has been longer heralded, and now that is happening too.


"Practically unstoppable". "An overwhelming favourite". What the greats say about Swiatek and Alcaraz

Martina Navratilova, who landed the French Open singles at the height of her career in 1982 and 1984, won 74 consecutive tour matches in the latter year. That puts Swiatek's current streak of 28 into some perspective, albeit the young Pole is just seven away from matching the longest run on the WTA circuit since the start of the year 2000.

According to Navratilova, the Roland Garros tournament starts with an obvious prime contender.

"It's Swiatek against the field," she said, describing the Polish player as an "overwhelming favourite".

"Clearly, the pressure is not bothering her," Navratilova added, as quoted by the WTA website. "She’s just embracing that. It's great to see – when you are the favourite, and you keep on winning."

When Novak Djokovic lost to Alcaraz in the Madrid semi-finals, the disappointed Serbian said: "He held his nerves very well. For somebody of his age to play so maturely and courageously is impressive."

This is greatness recognising potential greatness.

Rafael Nadal had been beaten by Alcaraz in the previous round and accepts there is a changing of the guard in motion.

"When adrenaline goes up, he's practically unstoppable," Nadal said of his fellow Spaniard, "but then in some moments he commits errors, but it's logical because he plays with a lot of risk. It's his way of playing, and in that sense I think he has the level to be able to win against anyone in the world."


Handling the pressure, in their own words...

Swiatek, a natural introvert, travels with psychologist Daria Abramowicz, and is learning on the move how to handle the pressures of life at the top. Winning her last five tournaments points to a remarkable mentality, with Swiatek now firmly established as the WTA number one.

"I already know that I did some great stuff this season, so I feel like I can just play freely and not think I have to win some tournaments, or I have to win some matches, or I have to save some points," Swiatek said in Rome.

"This year, the pressure that I always put on myself, it's a little bit lower. For sure the expectations around are higher, but I never had a problem to cut it off and not to think about it. Also I'm gaining experience at that. I think with more and more tournaments, it's going to get better and better for me to cope with all of that."

Alcaraz, who has become physically mightier in the past 12 months, appears to have the mental steel that a champion requires, albeit he has yet to win one of the four majors.

He is embracing the hype around his French Open prospects by encouraging title talk.

In Miami, he said: "This year, I think that people are going to think that I'm going to be one of the favourites to win Roland Garros, but I always said that I have a different view. I don't have it as tension; I have it as a motivation. I really look forward to going to Paris, to fighting for the grand slam, and I am really looking forward to showing my great level in a grand slam too."

After triumphing in Madrid, he went a step further, telling Tennis TV: "Yes, I think I'm ready to win a grand slam."


What can they achieve?

Alcaraz and Swiatek would not be the youngest champion duo in a single edition of the French Open – Michael Chang was 17 years and three months when he triumphed at Roland Garros in 1989, and women's champion Arantxa Sanchez was only three months older.

They would be the youngest champion pairing this century, however. Currently, the youngest winners at the same French Open in the 21st century are Nadal and Henin, who turned 19 and 23 respectively during the 2005 tournament.

World number six Alcaraz is a long way off number one in the ATP rankings, but at the start of the year he sat 32nd, an awful long way from sixth spot. He is skipping steps as he races up the ladder and seems destined for the top.

He sits third in the Race to Turin, which ranks performances in the calendar year rather than on a rolling basis and decides the line-up for the end-of-season ATP Finals. There, Alcaraz is closing on leader Nadal and just a sliver (3,490 to 3,460 points is the margin) behind second-placed Tsitsipas, who has played 11 tournaments to Alcaraz's seven.

For Swiatek to be champion, she must break the run that has seen eight different women crowned in the last eight years: Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Garbine Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko, Simona Halep, Ash Barty, Swiatek and Barbora Krejcikova.

The men's singles has been rather more predictable over the same period, with Nadal winning five times, Djokovic twice and Stan Wawrinka once. Nadal in 2005 was the last teenager to scoop the men's title.

The last woman to truly dominate at Roland Garros was Justine Henin, who won four years out of five from 2003 to 2007.

Swiatek can make it two from three, and if she reaches the title match, it would be a brave person to back against her given she has won 16 consecutive sets in finals.

With her five titles already this year, Swiatek is one away from becoming the first woman to beat that total in a season since Serena Williams won seven in 2014.

She is a red-hot favourite, while Alcaraz is a serious contender. A repeat of Miami would shock nobody who has been paying attention.

As the Big Three of the men's game begins to break up, and the Williams sisters dot the i's and cross the t's of their careers, the future of tennis looks to be in secure hands.

Will Zalatoris says he "got away with murder" after overcoming a rough start on day two to take the lead of the US PGA Championship, finishing five under after a superb performance.

The San Franciscan topped the leaderboard at Southern Hills Country Club with nine under after two rounds, as Rory McIlroy faded from the summit and Tiger Woods scraped the overall cut.

The 25-year-old, who is chasing his first major after a second-place finish at the Masters last year, made one under par through the first nine before powering through the pack with a turkey between the 11th and 13th.

But Zalatoris felt he made a lucky escape after a few wayward shots early on looked to have checked any momentum he might have built.

"I got away with murder a few times today for sure, especially starting off the day hitting the left trees and hitting it to a kick-in," he said.

"Same thing on 17, being able to get out of there with birdie where it was looking like I was going to be making 5.

"10 was really the big one, compounding two errors and hitting one really good golf shot and saving par, I just kept the round going today.

" I made a bunch of six or eight-footers for par that kept the day going, and obviously being bogey free around this place is pretty nice.

"We lucked out with the draw for sure. I played the last eight holes with not much wind, but take it when you can get it."

Zalatoris is teeing up a tilt at a maiden triumph in one of golf's four most-storied events, having nabbed T8 at the PGA last year and T6 at the US Open the year before.

"They're tough golf courses that allows my ball-striking to really give me the best chances," he added on his prospects in majors.

"Obviously these greens aren't easy, but hitting them on the right tiers and being able to have the 15-to 25-footers where I'm not going up and down slopes is huge.

"But the other part, too, I think is just I've kind of had an attitude with the majors, especially since the Masters, where I wanted to enjoy the experience as much as I could.

"I don't want to leave anything. Looking back from 20 years from now I don't want to regret my attitude or anything like that.

"So I just make sure that after really every single shot I hit, it's just... I don't want to say life or death, but make sure I'm fully committed to everything that I do because we only get four of them a year."

Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was left frustrated by his side's shot selection as they went 2-0 down to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Despite a strong lead after the second quarter thanks to a best-in-show Luka Doncic, who posted 42, the visitors were pegged back for a second consecutive loss at Chase Center.

The Mavs blew several chances to keep daylight between themselves and their hosts in the third quarter, but an over-reliance on attempts to bags 3s left them to suffer.

"When you go 2-for-13 and you rely on the 3, you can die by the 3," Kidd said. "And we died in the third quarter by shooting that many 3s and coming up with only two.

"If you make [3s], that's great, but you just have to understand, if you miss four in a row, you can't take the fifth.

"You've got to make it. That just puts too much stress on yourself and on your team because, if you're not getting stops on the other end, it turns into a blowout."

The Mavs face a tough road back into contention, but will take consolation from the fact a 2-0 deficit is far from insurmountable, having been knocked out by the Clippers last season with a similar advantage after two games.

They also boast Doncic, one of the best form players in the NBA right now, and the Slovenian admitted his side could have put more in.

"We weren't attacking the paint that much," he added. "But we got to attack the paint more, like they did. They attacked the paint a lot.

"They have two of the best shooters in the world, and they still attack the paint. So I think we've got to rely less on the 3."

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry feels his side has become a well-oiled machine over the course of the season, but admitted sometimes there is nothing you can do about Luka Doncic's brilliance.

The Warriors came back from 53-34 down with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, holding the Dallas Mavericks to 13 points in the third period, before winning the last frame 43-32 to run over the top late.

Curry top-scored for the Warriors with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, while Jordan Poole was terrific off the bench with 23 on seven-of-10 shooting, including 12 in the fourth quarter.

Despite the loss, Doncic scored a game-high 42 points on 12-of-23 shooting, while also dishing a game-high eight assists.

During Curry's post-game media appearance, he said he feels like the Warriors have figured a lot out defensively over the course of the season, but players like Doncic are simply "nice like that".

"[Chemistry] is something that's been slowly building over the course of the regular season," he said. 

"It didn't always show on the court, but the roles, and how we play on both ends of the floor, everybody is comfortable with what they're being asked to do.

"Even [Wiggins] – he has a tough challenge of chasing Luka pretty much everywhere, every time he's out there on the floor. 

"He understands he's going to get scored on – because Luka is nice like that – but over the course of 48 minutes you figure out how to wear him down a little bit, and go back at him on the offensive end."

He went on to say he does not think about the Mavericks' lack of playoff experience, with the Warriors instead focusing on imposing their will.

"It's not [Dallas' lack of experience] – it's just the supreme confidence in what we do," he said.

"You don't really know what they're talking about in the huddle, you don't feel what's going through their mind, it's just you imposing your will.

"For us, the experience, and the chemistry – obviously this group is a bit different – but we have that attitude and spirit that we feel we're never out of it. I think only one game in this playoff run we've been severely outmatched from start-to-finish.

"That belief then turns into execution in the game, and you can feel the momentum. It's more focused on what we do, and when you have the opportunity to stick in the dagger, or come up with three stops in a row, those are the times when you feel that good energy."

Curry also touched on the Mavs' hot start, which saw them put up 72 points in the first half, and how the Warriors can make large deficits disappear in a hurry.

"We knew they were going to come out aggressive, and making shots," he said. 

"We didn't think they were going to be that hot – it seemed like no matter what we did they always found the right guy, and they had no hesitation to shoot it.

"They had 15 threes in the first half – it felt like a lot – but all of a sudden you look at the scoreboard and we got it down to two at one point, and then it ballooned out to 14.

"14, for us, is more than manageable if we come out and influence the game, starting on the defensive end.

"When you can limit a team like that to 13 points [in a quarter] – it wasn't like a flurry, but it seemed like we regained the momentum, and slowly, and methodically walked them down.

"The first six minutes of the fourth quarter was kind of the real momentum shift – it gave the crowd some life, and gave us some life, and allowed us to run away with the win."

Game 3 and Game 4 will head to Dallas, and if the Warriors can win just one, they will head back to Golden State for Game 5 with a 3-1 lead.

Novak Djokovic returns to the grand slam arena, Carlos Alcaraz is threatening to follow in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, and Iga Swiatek is suddenly unstoppable.

The French Open is rich in promise as the Roland Garros clay courts are swept in anticipation of the greats of tennis stepping out to begin their campaigns.

It has been the women's draw that has looked the most wide open in recent seasons, yet this year it is hard to look beyond Swiatek; however, the men's title battle promises to provide a sensational battle.

Here, Stats Perform assesses the contenders for the two main trophies: the Coupe des Mousquetaires and the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.


KID INTERRUPTS G.O.A.T. RACE

Nadal took full advantage of Djokovic and Roger Federer being absent from the Australian Open, carrying off his 21st grand slam title to go top of the men's all-time list, one ahead of those two great rivals.

Federer is again missing, rehabbing after knee surgery, and the likelihood is he has played his final major already, but Djokovic is emphatically back. His confidence is surging once more, having taken a knock amid the drama of his deportation from Australia in January and being frozen out of the Indian Wells and Miami events due to the United States' COVID-19 rules.

A semi-final run in Madrid, where he lost a three-set monster to Alcaraz, was followed by Djokovic carrying off the Rome title for a sixth time when he saw off Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic turns 35 on Sunday, as main-draw action gets under way in Paris, but he is the defending champion and firmly believes he can succeed again.

Assessing his prospects for Paris, Djokovic said after his Rome triumph: "With rankings and the way I've been playing in the last few weeks, I would rate myself as one of the favourites. I don't obviously spend too much time thinking who's going to win it or who might have the best chance. I always think about myself.

"I go there with the highest ambitions. I really like my chances. Best-of-five, you play every second day. It's a grand slam. It's different. Really, the grand slams are played different. You have to approach it differently. But the way I've been feeling on the court and off the court in the last few weeks, I really think I can go far."

The chief threat to Djokovic could come not from 'King of Clay' Nadal, but from the 13-time champion's fellow Spaniard, 19-year-old Alcaraz.

Bidding to become the first teenage winner of the men's title since Nadal, also 19, triumphed for the first time in 2005, Alcaraz arrives in Paris with four titles already secured this year, including three on clay in Rio, Barcelona and Madrid. The other title came on hardcourt at the Masters 1000 event in Miami, and Alcaraz has rocketed from 32nd at the start of the year to number six in the world rankings.

Many expect his grand slam haul to reach double digits, just like the Big Three he has grown up watching and learning from. The first slam must come somewhere, and it might well come in Paris in a fortnight's time.

Don't discount Nadal, but his form has been a shade unconvincing since coming back from a rib injury, while Tsitsipas looks the next most likely after winning on clay in Monte Carlo and finishing runner-up to Djokovic in Rome. The Greek has unfinished business in Paris, after the heartache of losing last year's final from two sets up.

 

IGA TO PLEASE? POLE GOES FROM SHOCK WINNER TO FIRM FAVOURITE

The first thing to point out is that the French Open women's singles title has been won by eight different players in the last eight years.

Iga Swiatek was a surprise champion in 2020, at the tournament that was delayed until the Paris autumn due to the pandemic. She was ousted by Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals last year but returns on a roll, having won an incredible five consecutive tournaments.

The 20-year-old has won 38 of the last 39 sets she has contested, the odd one out going against her on a tie-break, and her winning streak has reached 28 matches. Since Ash Barty retired, nobody has been able to lay much of a glove on Swiatek.

If she wins the French Open, that run will reach 35 matches, equalling the longest run in the 2000s, previously achieved by Venus Williams during a glory run that saw her win events including Wimbledon, the Olympic Games and US Open in the year 2000.

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur has been spoken of as a possible challenger to Swiatek, but she was swatted away 6-2 6-2 by the youngster in the Rome final last weekend.

So who challenges the favourite? Even those who have been there and done that struggle to look beyond Swiatek. According to Martina Navratilova: "You can’t be any hotter than she is right now."

Navratilova told the WTA website: "She looks pretty unbeatable on any surface, particularly the clay now."

The last player to beat Swiatek was Jelena Ostapenko, in Dubai. Ostapenko, a surprise 2017 French Open champion, had a sizzling spell of form in February but has gone off the boil since. It might take someone of her hard-hitting nature to knock Swiatek out of her stride, though, so if Ostapenko can navigate the early rounds she becomes a real contender. The Latvian's career record against Swiatek? An impressive 3-0.

Who else? Simona Halep's coaching tie-up with Patrick Mouratoglou – Serena Williams' former coach of long-standing – has raised eyebrows and now it might be time for it to raise her results level too. Halep has won in Paris before, in 2018, so don't count her out.

Aryna Sabalenka, Sakkari, Paula Badosa. Such players come into the mix if Swiatek slips up, but there has been scant sign of that happening.

New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant feels like there was not much more his side could do after falling down 2-0 in their series, losing both of the Carolina Hurricanes' home fixtures.

After leading until the final moments of Game 1, before the Hurricanes forced overtime and snuck away with a 2-1 win, it was another defensive struggle in Game 2, which suited the Hurricanes as they took it 2-0.

The breakthrough came from Brendan Smith in the second period, and that would be the only goal of the game until the Rangers pulled their goalie out of desperation in the final seconds.

Speaking to post-game media, Gallant said it was a true playoff hockey game, but despite only scoring one goal in two games, he feels his side played well once again.

"It was a good hockey game – low shots, a battle by both teams," he said. "It could've went either way again.

"It's tough – we came into this building earlier in the season twice and got dominated, [Carolina had] 50 shots I think.

"But we came in here, we played good defensive hockey, we battled hard. We only got one goal [across the two away games], that's the disappointing part of it, but we played a good hockey team, and played good hockey.

"We fell short a little bit – what are you going to do. Just get ready for the two home games coming up."

Gallant pushed back on the notion that his side is "disjointed" offensively, saying this is just what it looks like when the two best defensive teams in the league meet head-to-head.

"I wouldn't say [we are disjointed offensively] – I would say it's a case of two teams not giving up anything," he said.

"They're first in the league [defensively] and we're second in the league, but the disappointment is that we didn't take care of our power plays tonight. 

"Overall it's a top team, and it was a battle of a game. They're a good team – the best defensive team in the league.

"I'm happy with the way we've performed overall. I wish we would've got one of these two games – we probably could've – but that's the way it goes."

Goal-scorer Smith said everyone knows what kind of game it is going to be between these two sides, but he feels it favours Carolina.

“I think if we just stick to our style, it's eventually going to wear on teams and we're going to find a way to win,” he said.

The Golden State Warriors produced a spectacular comeback in front of their home fans to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 126-117 and take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

It appeared early that the Mavericks would be the ones heading back to Dallas for Game 3 and Game 4 with momentum, as Luka Doncic had 24 first-half points to help his side to a 72-58 half-time lead.

But the Warriors went up a level defensively in the third period, holding the Mavericks to just 13 points as they chipped away at the margin, which peaked at 53-34 with seven minutes to play in the second frame.

While the third quarter was a defensive struggle, allowing the Warriors to pull the margin back to two points, the fourth was an offensive explosion as the two teams combined for 75 points.

Ultimately, the Mavericks could not keep up as the Warriors piled on 43 points in the term, including 12 of Jordan Poole's 23 off the bench (seven-of-10 shooting), and 10 of Stephen Curry's 32 (11-of-21 from the field, six-of-10 from long range).

Warriors center Kevon Looney was also a difference-maker, scoring 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds, while Andrew Wiggins had 16 points (five-of-14 shooting) and Klay Thompson had 15 (six-of-10).

For the Mavericks, Doncic finished with a game-high 42 points on 12-of-23 shooting, as well as game-highs in assists (eight) and steals (three).

He was supported strongly by Jalen Brunson, who had 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting, and Reggie Bullock, who shot six-of-10 from three-point range for his 21 points.

Game 3 and Game 4 will be nearly must-wins for the Mavericks, because if they lose just one of the two, the Warriors will head home for Game 5 with a 3-1 lead.

The MLB record for most combined home runs in a game was threatened in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 10-6 win against the Chicago Cubs.

Overall, the teams combined to hit 11 home runs – two short of the record, which was set by the Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies in 2019. 

After the Diamondbacks drove in the first two runs of the contest with a bases-loaded single in the opening inning, Patrick Wisdom launched the first long-ball of the game in the second frame in response for the Cubs.

Arizona took over from there, with seven of the next eight runs coming from Diamondbacks home runs.

Third-baseman Josh Rojas hit his own solo shot in the top of the third inning, and it would be the first of his three home runs in the game, as he hit a two-run bomb in the fifth inning and another solo in the seventh inning, with all three travelling at least 402 feet.

David Peralta hit two home runs for the Diamondbacks, while Alek Thomas and Christian Walker had one each. For the Cubs, Jonathan Villar was the second from his team to go deep, before Christopher Morel and Ildemaro Vargas went back-to-back in the seventh inning.

Given the friendly scoring conditions, the best pitching performance of the game came from Diamondbacks bullpen arm Noe Ramirez, who was only asked to retire four batters, but was the only pitcher from either team to allow no hits and no runs.

 

Story time continues in Boston

After hitting three home runs on Thursday, Trevor Story stayed hot for the Boston Red Sox on Friday, hitting a bases-loaded grand slam in his side's 7-3 home win against the Seattle Mariners.

Story, who was the Red Sox's biggest off-season signing, had his big moment with two outs in the third inning after Christian Vazquez's base hit and walks to Enrique Hernandez and Xander Bogaerts, launching a long-ball 378 feet over the 'Green Monster' in left-field.

A two-run, 429-foot blast from Abraham Toro in the fifth frame kept the Mariners competitive, before Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. put the game to bed with a three-run homer in the eighth inning.

Nats turn rare triple-play

The Washington Nationals were on the wrong end of a 7-0 beating from the Milwaukee Brewers, but they produced one of the rarest plays in baseball.

With no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and runners on first and second base, Milwaukee's Luis Urias hit a hard ground-ball straight at third base, allowing the field to take it cleanly and step on the base, before throwing to second, who got it to first in time for the triple-play.

It was the Nationals' first triple-play since 2016, although it was soured by a dominant pitching performance from Brewer Eric Lauer, who went seven full innings, conceding no runs while allowing just five hits and no walks.

The NBA All-Defensive teams were released on Friday, headlined by Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Marcus Smart and reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the First Team.

Joining that pair on the First Team is Phoenix Suns wing and DPOY runner-up Mikal Bridges, the Utah Jazz's three-time DPOY-winning center Rudy Gobert, and the Memphis Grizzlies' league-leading shot-blocker Jaren Jackson Jr.

It is Gobert's sixth consecutive First Team appearance, and Antetokounmpo's fourth consecutive, while also having one Second Team selection in 2017.

Marcus Smart now has three First Team selections after making it in 2019 and 2020, and it was the first of what will likely be numerous defensive honours for both Bridges, aged 25, and Jackson, 22.

The Second Team is made up of Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Boston Celtics big-man Robert Williams III, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and Philadelphia 76ers defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle.

It is Green's seventh All-Defensive honour since 2015, with four First Teams (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2021) and now three Second Teams (2018, 2019 and now 2022). 

For Holiday, it is his fourth All-Defensive selection overall, with First Teams in 2018 and 2021, and another Second Team in 2019.

Adebayo has now made the Second Team for three consecutive years, and is yet to break into the First Team, while Thybulle made his second straight Second Team, and it was Williams' first award after being drafted in 2018, 23 selections after Memphis' Jackson.

Tiger Woods rebounded from a disappointing opening round at the US PGA Championship to post a 69 on Friday and make the cut, even if he admitted "it wasn't pretty".

Woods was even par through the front-nine on his second trip around the course, and birdied the 10th to move to one under, but a double-bogey on 11 after a run-in with a bunker threatened to end his week early.

The double moved him to five over for the tournament, with the cut-line at four over, meaning he needed to go under-par over the last seven holes.

He did just that, birdieing the par-five 13th hole to move onto the cut line, and converting another birdie on 16 to give himself some breathing room. His late run included six consecutive one-putt finishes leading up to the 18th.

Speaking to ESPN while still dripping with sweat, Woods said he embraced the grind down the stretch, and had some optimism for the weekend.

"I knew what the [cut-line] number was – I just needed to go out and do it," he said.

"I started off the back-nine exactly how I wanted to – made birdie at 10 – and then I almost whip-hooked it there on 11 and made double, and next thing you know I'm outside of the cut-line.

"I had to grind and go to work, and I did, and made it. Hopefully this weekend I can get a hot weekend with some tough conditions, and you never know."

When asked about the ways he is limited by his injuries, Woods did not shy away from it, but said his mission is still to win.

"There's a lot of things – but it's just the way it is," he said.

"Over the course of my career I've used my hands quite well, and relied on feel and hitting shots. When you're out there it's just about hitting the ball the right number and getting it done.

"There's a mission – the mission is to go ahead and win this thing somehow. I know sometimes it doesn't exactly feel well, but that's just what it is. That's life, that's sports. 

"We push it, and sometimes it breaks, but that's okay. You get back out there, and that's why I've got great PT staff.

"I'm really good at breaking things, and they're really good at fixing things, so it's a great relationship

"It wasn't exactly the way I wanted it to be – it wasn't pretty. It wasn't what Bubba [Watson] is doing out there right now [tying Woods' course-record of 63]. But hopefully I can do that this weekend."

Will Zalatoris took advantage of the friendlier conditions later on Friday to finish his round five under, giving him the outright lead at nine under through two rounds at Southern Hills Country Club.

He is the only player to shoot 66 or better in the first two rounds as fellow fast-starters Rory McIlroy and Tom Hoge both finished over par their second time around the course.

Zalatoris went bogey-free, birdieing the first hole, the 17th, and three consecutive starting on the 11th. While the conditions were conducive to scoring, both of his playing partners – Cameron Smith and Victor Hovland – shot even-par 70s.

In outright second place at eight under is Chile's Mito Pereira, who was one shot off the round-of-the-day with his six-under 64, leaving him at eight under through two rounds. He had seven birdies – including back-to-backs on holes four-five and 10-11 – and just one bogey on 12.

Justin Thomas posted his second consecutive 67 to have a share of third place at six under, and he is one shot ahead of Bubba Watson, who shot Friday's best round of 63 – tying the course record – with nine birdies and two bogeys. He sits alone in fourth.

Tiger Woods was in danger of missing the cut after a double-bogey on the 11th moved his score to five over, but he responded in terrific fashion.

Showing his quality, Woods one-putted on the next six greens for two birdies and four pars to leave him one shot inside the cut-line (four under) heading onto the 18th. With a par on the last, he finished his round one under and earned two more rounds of action.

First-round leader McIlroy is in a share for fifth af four under after his round of 71, and he's tied with Mexico's Abraham Ancer and America's Davis Riley.

England's Matt Fitzpatrick and American Stewart Cink are one further shot back at three under in a tie for eighth, and there is a logjam at two under, tied for 10th, highlighted by Cameron Smith, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Kuchar.

A strong grouping of Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth are part of a large contingent at one over, with Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm a further stroke back after they posted scores of 67 and 69 respectively on Friday.

Jason Day is tied with Woods at three under, while at four under Collin Morikawa and Hideki Matsuyama just did enough to qualify for the weekend.

Jon Rahm said "everything was difficult" on day two at the US PGA Championship, but matters could hardly have been more different for Justin Thomas.

Rahm, one of the pre-tournament favourites, endured a difficult opening round at Southern Hills Country Club but the Spaniard responded with a respectable, one under par 69 on Friday.

That leaves the world number two on two over par, which should just see him sneak over the cut line. Former world number one Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, is unlikely to be so fortunate, having carded a second successive 73.

Rahm conceded that he has found it tough going so far, though he was nevertheless happy with his second round.

"I can't say I played bad. I gave myself a lot of chances," said Rahm, who balanced out two bogeys with three birdies.

"I think the main thing yesterday was a couple of mistakes, just mental mistakes. There was three; one on eight, skulling that chip. Should have made something better than a six on 13 with a five-iron in my hands. And putting it on dry land on 17.

"Those are three shots that I could have done better and I could be at one under right now, and that was just strictly mental.

"Today I can't ask much more of myself. It was a good day, it was good golf. Just tough. And I played really good to show one under."

One player thriving in the tough conditions in Oklahoma is Thomas, who took the lead off Rory McIlroy with another round of 67, replicating his score from Thursday.

Thomas' sole major triumph so far came at the US PGA Championship in 2017, and the American looks well-placed to push on after heading into the clubhouse on six under through his two rounds, putting the pressure right back on overnight leader McIlroy, who bogeyed his second hole on Friday to drop two shots off the new leader.

"Very pleased. I felt I played, although I played solid yesterday, I played really, really well today," said Thomas.

"The conditions were obviously very difficult. I stayed very patient, tried to get in my own little world and get in a zone and just tried to execute each shot the best I could.

"I felt we did a great job of that and am glad to have a good round to show for it."

Thomas only slipped up once, on the 14th, but made four birdies, but the 29-year-old is wary not to get ahead of himself.

"I like this golf course. I feel like I'm playing well," he continued. "We're halfway through so it's still a long way from home, but I'm very, very pleased with where everything is at and the frame of mind and state of mind that I'm in.

"Just need to try to maintain that the best that I can and keep trying to play good golf."

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