Sisters switch from basketball to rugby, aim to reunite on national team

“Not because she has to be but because I want her to be.”Megan plays forward in sevens while Kaili is a centre or wing.Megan’s transition to rugby has been helped by being billeted with Canadian assistant coach Morgan Williams and his family.Williams is a former star scrum half for the Canadian 15s team. 3-4 tournament.Megan, who at 5-foot-7 is three inches shorter than her sister, says she had no doubts that Kaili could make the switch to rugby having made the jump herself.“Our stories are every similar … I don’t think I would have made the Olympic team without him or his family. And while they have always had each other’s back, the bond has deepened with their sporting ties.“She’s now my best friend, by choice,” Megan said. Sisters Megan and Kaili Lukan, who played basketball together at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, are on the verge of a sporting reunion – this time with the Canadian women’s rugby sevens team.Coach John Tait included the sisters from Barrie, Ont., in a 14-player training squad ahead of next week’s Sydney Sevens. And the other 12 players were all part of the Dubai squad.The Canadian women were sixth in Dubai, as they were the previous season when they rebounded to finish third overall.“I wouldn’t say that was our best performance but I’m hoping we can take that as a first step and keep building from there,” Megan Lukan said.In Sydney, Canada has been drawn into Pool A with New Zealand, France and Papua New Guinea for the Feb. Megan was also part of the senior development squad.Morgan Williams says basketball provided the sisters with a good base for rugby.“You need to have vision. It would be cool to follow in their footsteps,” said Kaili, who lives two houses down with from them with another family.In basketball, both sisters played for the Canadian junior national team. We can kind of reminisce about it together because she’s going through exactly what I went through almost a year and a half ago.”Said Kaili: “She’s definitely helped me out a lot.”The transition to rugby was tougher mentally than physically, Kaili said. You need to be able to draw a defender in and release an attacker,” he said. And I’m kind of forever thankful to them.”“We do have that connection with the Williams. At 24, Megan is two years older than Kaili. She made the transition to rugby in April 2015 and was a member of the bronze medal team at the Rio Olympics.Kaili finished at Wisconsin-Green Bay in May and came out to Victoria in September to join the rugby team. The final 12-woman team will be selected Sunday or Monday. She hadn’t played the sport since high school.Kaili faces some tough competition to get into the final sevens squad for Sydney. He and older brother Jeff, who is now head coach of Canada’s under-20 men’s team, are the only other siblings to have represented Canada in sevens.Megan has done extra skill sessions with Williams and says she often picks his brain.“If I’m watching video, I can just walk to the living room and ask Morgan some questions,” she said. “You need to be able to catch and pass.”Williams says Megan, who helps look after his two daughters, has become part of the family.“We’re trying to teach her how to cook,” he said with a chuckle. Captain Jen Kish, who missed the series-opening stop in Dubai because of a neck injury, is looking to make her return Down Under. “That’s probably been the hardest thing.” “It’s been very helpful. “Knowing what you have to do on the field, that was the biggest thing for me.”Along with their older sister and mother, the Lukans travelled a lot growing up.

Lagging Liverpool FC’s season slipping away

“We didn’t have the points, the results, but we know what we have to do, we know what we want to, the football we want to play. Liverpool has, however, not had any competition this season so should be fresher than some of its main rivals.Yet, the players certainly look jaded and lack the zip of previous months, leading to more sideways passes and fewer incisive breaks. Klopp said after the two-legged loss to Southampton that 70-80 per cent of teams are deploying this tactic and that his team must adapt to it.“It’s the most difficult thing in football,” Klopp said. Their chances of silverware are reducing by the week.For Liverpool’s players, there’s concern that a season of high hopes is slipping away from them altogether.January has been a month to forget for Liverpool, which has plummeted from title contention after earning only one point from a possible nine in the Premier League and then being eliminated from the League Cup at the semifinal stage by Southampton. Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham all have home matches against lower-league opponents in Wigan, Brentford and Wycombe Wanderers, respectively. Realistically, Liverpool’s only chance to end a five-year wait for a trophy rests with winning the FA Cup. Liverpool lack a “Plan B” – Manchester United , for example, can introduce tall forward Marouane Fellaini from the bench to cause a different kind of problem – so is limited in that respect.Not that Klopp is too concerned.“If we doubt the way we are after these little, little problems we have now, it would be a strange thing,” Klopp said. It’s one win in seven games so far in 2017, and that came in an FA Cup replay against a team from the fourth division, Plymouth. Lincoln, which last reached the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1976, is at home to Brighton on Saturday.Standout matchThe most eye-catching game in the last 32 sees Arsenal visit Southampton, fresh off reaching the League Cup final by beating Liverpool over two legs.In another all-Premier League matchup, Manchester City is at Crystal Palace. So it’s all good.”Expect Klopp to play his youngsters and fringe players again in the FA Cup this weekend, with a crunch home game against Chelsea coming up in the league on Tuesday. Second-tier struggler Wolverhampton Wanderers visits Anfield on Saturday for a fourth-round match that suddenly has taken increased importance for Liverpool.A number of factors have combined to make Liverpool look like a shadow of the team that blew opponents away in the first half of the season.The departure of Sadio Mane to the African Cup of Nations with Senegal in early January has deprived Liverpool of its most lively, energetic forward – he might not be back for another two weeks – while another key attacker in Philippe Coutinho is still recovering his match sharpness after returning from a 6 1/2-week injury lay-off.It has forced Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp to shuffle his attacking personnel, with Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana playing in various positions across the front four, and the result has been only six goals in seven games from the highest-scoring team in the Premier League.Meanwhile, rivals are realizing that the best way of playing Liverpool and neutralizing its prolific strikeforce is to sit back, pack the defence and hit on the counterattack. Their opponents seem to have figured them out. “We are a good footballing team, that’s why this happens.”Liverpool’s defence has long been its weakness and is proving susceptible to the counterattack, as shown against Southampton and in the damaging 3-2 loss to Swansea in the league last weekend.Also, it remains to be seen whether Klopp’s high-energy pressing tactics are taking their toll on is players, especially after such a packed month that still has two more games left. Their attacking spark has gone. That increases the prospect of more woe for Liverpool in a month when its season is threatening to implode.Here’s what else to watch out for in the fourth round of the world’s oldest knockout competition:Non-league hopefulsThere are two non-league sides still in the competition, with fifth-tier clubs Sutton United and Lincoln both getting home matches against teams riding high in the second-tier League Championship.Sutton, which knocked out top-tier Coventry in the third round in the 1988-89 season, is host to Leeds on Sunday.

‘It’s nuts’: Joe Montana recalls his first Super Bowl

Atlanta’s Matt Ryan will do that against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Feb. Joe Montana remembers what it was like to start his first Super Bowl.Montana was in his third season with the San Francisco 49ers when they faced the Cincinnati Bengals in the Pontiac Silverdome. 5 in Houston. And especially on the passing side, it just makes it a lot more fun.”The game is set to launch soon and will initially be available on Samsung Gear VR and then on Google Daydream VR. And that’s what happens today. The 60-year-old Hall of Fame quarterback knows the disadvantage players making their first start face in the big game. Obviously EA [Electronic Arts] is pretty big in that space. And really understand which guys are interchangeable with other players of similar qualities. “Everybody that you ever knew in your life comes out of the woodwork looking for something.”Montana was 14 for 22 for 157 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers’ 26-21 win in 1982.“Once you get out of the bus or however you get to the stadium that day, and you get into the locker room, it’s just like another game.“And yes, it’s a little bit more exciting till the game starts. And that’s what allows you to be able to stay on top.“If you go back and look at the way [49ers coach] Bill Walsh did it, it was the same thing. And that’s the hardest part, trying to figure that out and they’ve [Patriots] done a great job of doing that.” “That’s where the game is a little different. There was a nucleus of guys that he knew were the foundation of it and the other guys he moved in and out on occasion.”These organizations have dealt with different eras in the sport, though, including free agency and a salary cap that make it more difficult now than in the 1980s.“If somebody wanted to make more money, that was fine. “I don’t play it as much because my kids were too good and beat the crap out of me, and I can’t stand losing.”One of the investors in the game is Patriots owner Robert Kraft. You look at guys that make a couple of plays and the next thing you know they move to another team,” Montana said. “We started off trying to do a regular game. We’re looking for spaces to go. “It’s been amazing what they’ve been able to do as an organization to keep that team together, at least a nucleus of guys. This kind of evolved into here.“With the VR [virtual reality] space coming around and the ability to do in it there and be one of the first movers in there, we thought it was a great opportunity. Gamers will slide their phones into a headset.And the game has a licence from the NFL Players Association to use the likenesses of all current NFL players.Montana has previous experience with video games, having endorsed games for Sega in the 1990s.“I’ve always had an interest in it,” he said. And Kraft’s team is trying to win its fifth Super Bowl, one more than Montana had with the 49ers.“It’s great to have him [Kraft] involved.” Montana said.One thing Kraft’s Patriots and Montana’s 49ers had in common was being able to sustain dominance over a long period of time.“It’s too many people moving around, it’s really difficult,” Montana said of the challenge of keeping winning teams together. Once you get down to the Super Bowl city, and you’re going for the first time, it’s nuts,” Montana said in an interview. “Yeah, they’ll make a lot more money. Once the game starts, and you’re still thinking ‘Wow this is the Super Bowl,’ you’re in trouble.”Montana never had trouble in the Super Bowl, going 4-0 with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions.Going into this Super Bowl, Montana is launching a new virtual reality video game, “Montana 17.” It’s an all-passing, 7-on-7 offensive football game with a series of quick-play quarters.“I don’t think a lot of people knew about 7 on 7, what 7 on 7 really meant, but now all the younger kids have 7 on 7 with passing leagues, whether it’s high school or even younger than that,” Montana said.

Argonauts head coach Milanovich resigns, joins Jaguars

“We’ve made significant progress in our search for the
Argos’ next general manager. “Working closely
with offensive co-ordinator Nathaniel Hackett, we expect the quarterback
position to deliver positive results under Scott’s direction and guidance.”Milanovich was a quarterback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996-99) and
spent 10 seasons coaching in the CFL. He led the Argos to a Grey Cup victory in 2012 but the club
finished last in the East Division in 2016 with a 5-13 record and missed the
playoffs.“Scott Milanovich brings a variety of experience to our coaching staff, and
we are eager for him to get started,” Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars executive
vice-president of football operations, said in a statement. “He will be a great asset to our
coaching staff, as his professional playing and coaching experience will be
vital in the improvement of our quarterbacks.“ Milanovich also spent time in NFL
Europe with the Rhein Fire as quarterbacks coach in 2004 and offensive
co-ordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2005. We hope to conclude the search process
shortly.”Barker hired Milanovich in December, 2011, giving Milanovich his first CFL
head coaching job. “We support Scott’s decision to pursue his goals in the NFL and wish him all
the best in his new role,” said Michael Copeland, president and CEO for the
Argos in a statement. In the
interim, all player personnel matters will continue to be executed as planned
under the leadership of assistant general manager Spencer Zimmerman. When Barker was fired, the club made it clear it was expecting
Milanovich to return although his future with the club was going to ultimately
be decided by Barker’s replacement.“The first order of business for our next general manager will be to hire the
team’s next head coach,” said Copeland’s statement on behalf of the Argos. “This has been an
amazing experience for my family and me, and we’re so appreciative of all the
wonderful friends we’ve made and memories we’ve created in Toronto.”Milanovich’s departure leaves a definite hole in the Argos’ football
operations. The former Maryland star served as
quarterbacks coach/offensive co-ordinator with the Cologne Centurions in
’06.“I would like to thank the Argonauts’ ownership, president and CEO Michael
Copeland, the staff, all the players and coaches, and most importantly, the
wonderful city of Toronto and the loyal fans for the opportunity to serve as
your head coach for the past five seasons,” Milanovich said. “We
are confident that we will be well prepared for a successful 2017 season. The Toronto Argonauts’ off-season job search doubled Friday with the
resignation of head coach Scott Milanovich.Milanovich stepped down to become the quarterbacks coach of the NFL’s
Jacksonville Jaguars. Milanovich’s decision comes just three days after Jim
Barker was fired after six seasons as the Argos’ general manager. On behalf
of the entire Argonauts organization, and our fans, I would like to thank Scott
for his many contributions and leadership over the past five years.”The Argonauts also announced that Tommy Condell has joined the club in the
position of special adviser.Marrone took over as Jacksonville’s full-time head coach Jan. He served as an assistant with the
Montreal Alouettes (2007-11) before joining the Argos.Milanovich posted a 43-47 record with Toronto and was the CFL’s coach of the
year in 2012.“We are pleased to welcome Scott and his family to the Jaguars organization,”
Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone said. 9 and
Milanovich becomes the 10th individual named to Marrone’s staff.

For Milwaukee Bucks’ Thon Maker, odyssey to NBA led through Canada

They made him their first pick, 10th over all, in the 2016 NBA draft.“You can quote me right now,” teammate Jabari Parker crowed to the Milwaukee media this past weekend after Maker made his first NBA start against the Miami Heat. “It was a chance to build my body even more. “This is where I give out most of my tickets to family and friends.”The interview over, Maker started scouring the stands for his missing running shoe. “And he [said] ‘no matter where you are in this world, the NBA will find you.’ And they did.”In April, 2015, Maker played at the Nike Hoop Summit for the world team, which was coached by Roy Rana, the men’s coach at Ryerson University in Toronto, currently the fourth-ranked team in U Sports.Maker grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds while teammate Jamal Murray from Kitchener, Ont., now playing with the Denver Nuggets, drained 30 points as the world team defeated the U.S. basketball system and enrolled at the Athlete Institute in Orangeville in September, 2014, where he played for two years.Maker said it might have seemed like an unconventional move, but it made sense to him.“It was great for me,” Maker said. It’s fun.”Fun in this case means making the best of limited playing time – just less than five minutes a game this season as Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd has adopted a slow and steady NBA indoctrination for the 19 year old.“He gets better each time he takes the floor,” Kidd said of Maker. As Maker was talking, teammate Michael Beasley swooped in, got on one knee, and started to tie one of Maker’s sneakers.“Oh boy,” a slightly flustered Maker said. We played against anybody who wanted to play us so it was really good for me.”Maker said he was not concerned about his profile dipping while playing up in Canada.“A long time ago, in 2011 when I first came to the U.S., I was working out with Bill Walton,” Maker said. “I don’t know what [he’s] doing.”With Beasley providing the sneaky distraction, Maker did not notice his other shoe slipping into the hands of another player. He’s going to. It wound up being flung into the stands, several rows up.More than halfway into the NBA season and Maker still has to endure the rookie hazing rituals all first-year players are subjected to.And the Sudanese national, whose complex route to the NBA included stops in Australia, the United States and a two-year stint in the small town of Orangeville, Ont., just northwest of Toronto, said it has all been worth it to realize his dream.“It’s been a learning process the whole year,” Maker said. “And I’ve been sticking with it and I’m going to stick with it. He’s that good.”That is pretty high praise in the wake of an 18-minute starting debut, in which Maker went 1-for-3 – he made a three-pointer – and finished with six points in a 109-97 loss.And the only reason Maker was in the starting lineup in the first place was because Parker was being punished by Kidd for the contravention of a team rule.Maker’s odyssey to the NBA started in South Sudan where he was born. “Thon Maker’s going to be the best 7-foot player in this league. I was way skinnier than this. “His demeanour, his maturity, just the way he presents himself is phenomenally impressive.“And then he’s just a work horse. I used it to build my body while playing at the highest level of high-school ball.“We played a national schedule against all the best teams in the United States. Just a quality, quality young man.”When Friday’s shootaround at the ACC was over, Maker got the bum’s rush as the team had to catch a bus back to the hotel to rest up before the Toronto game.Although he only spent a couple of years living in Orangeville, Maker said coming back to Canada is special to him.“It’s kind of like a homecoming,” he said. Thon Maker plunked his lanky frame in a court-side seat at Air Canada Centre following the Milwaukee Bucks’ shootaround early Friday afternoon in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors.Maker was multitasking – or at least attempting to – taking questions from a reporter while also trying to slip into his street running shoes, but was not having much luck. He puts in a lot of time during practice, after practice, before practice.“He’s hungry to play so we’re very lucky to have him.”Maker is considered a project, a 7-foot-1, 216-pound athlete who can run and jump like a deer but was a relative latecomer to basketball after starting off with soccer.The Bucks are expecting to tap into the immense potential most basketball experts see with Maker. He had to flee to Uganda when he was 5 to escape the strife of a civil war.From there, Maker, his younger brother, Matur and an aunt were accepted as refugees in Australia, eventually setting in Perth.Maker started playing basketball at the age of 14, when his skills started attracting attention. national select team 103-101.“He’s probably more impressive as a young man than he is even as a basketball player,” Rana said. He wound up attending high school in Louisiana and then Virginia.Then, in a move that shocked many, Maker and his brother decided to eschew the higher-profile U.S. He’s in the gym 24/7 and just has a real solid sense of who he is as a person. Jr. He’s a hard worker. “He’s getting some minutes – we got to get him on the floor a little bit more before the season’s out.

Justin Rose and Canada’s Adam Hadwin shine at Farmers Insurance Open

“It’s frustrating not being able to have a chance to win the tournament.”On a course where he has won eight times, Woods has failed to finish 72 holes in his past three starts at Torrey Pines.Day, the No. And he was at it again, keeping pace with Rose. Woods shot 72 and missed the cut at Torrey Pines for the first time.“I just didn’t make enough birdies,” Woods said. “I’m right where I love to be here on the weekend, and this course isn’t getting any easier.” “But it was really nice to finish the way I did on 18 because … it was pretty hard to keep it out of the water at that point.”The greens that kill so many players’ confidence is where Snedeker thrives. Open – and while he was hovering on the cut line, he finished just seven shots behind and felt he was still in the game.Rose had complete control of his game and was making enough putts to reach nine under with a birdie on the 10th. “Pretty much everyone who’s made the cut is still in the golf tournament.”It still was too high for Woods.He opened with a birdie on the par-five 10th on the North Course. 1 player in the world, missed the cut for the second straight year at Torrey Pines as he struggled with his putter even on the new, smoother greens on the North Course. Perhaps more shocking was that Jason Day and Dustin Johnson also missed the cut, as did Rickie Fowler. He added another birdie on the par-five fifth. He followed with a tee shot off the cart path and on a slope of deep grass leading to the 12th tee, but hacked it down to 18 feet on the fringe and holed it for a par.But the middle of the back nine became aggravating when he missed a six-foot par putt on the 14th, an eight-foot par putt on the 15th and a five-foot birdie putt on the 16th.“When the situation gets like that, you start to see not only some of the good stuff happening, but some of the bad stuff happening,” Rose said. Justin Rose already achieved what he wanted Friday in the Farmers Insurance Open. 12, rammed in a birdie putt on the 13th and held on for a 69. One last birdie for the lead made the day a little bit better. The Tennessee native loves putting on poa annua, having won twice at Torrey and once up the coast at Pebble Beach. Only five of them – Hideki Matsuyama, Rose, Paul Casey, Mickelson and Emiliano Grillo – survived.“If you’re not sharp and not striking it well, it’s a difficult place to play,” Mickelson said.Lefty hasn’t won at Torrey since his back-to-back victories in 2000-01 – before Rees Jones got his hands on it to beef it up for the 2008 U.S. Johnson had a chance to rally to make the cut until he missed a six-foot par putt and three-putted for par on his last two holes.The tournament had 10 of the top 25 players in the world. Snead, Woods and Mickelson as the only back-to-back winners since this event began in 1952.Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., coming off a 59 and a runner-up finish last week in the California desert, shot a 71 and joined Snedeker at seven-under 137.The cut was at even-par 144.“I actually think the cut mark is incredibly low for two days around here,” Rose said. He was one shot behind as he tries to join J.C. Tiger Woods missed the cut in his return to the PGA Tour after 17 months. He threw in a pair of bogeys and never looked like he was going to be sticking around for the weekend. Spooked by the bumpy greens late in the day at Torrey Pines that cost him two bogeys, Rose rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-five closing hole on the South Course for a one-under 71 that gave him a one-shot lead going into a weekend that no longer has as much star power. But even Snedeker took his medicine with a 30-inch putt that spun out of the cup.“Just have to take that with a grain of salt,” he said. “So you just want to basically put yourself within shot.”Brandt Snedeker saved par from a shot that nearly went out-of-bounds on No. Phil Mickelson was on the bubble until making a birdie on the 18th for a 72 to make the cut with one shot to spare.Rose, who was at eight-under 136, now gets two more cracks at the South Course, where the average score for two days was 73.8.“Everyone has played both courses now, and now we get to play the bruiser for the next two days,” Rose said.

Lowry scores 32, Raptors end losing streak with win over Bucks

The highlight-reel play gave the Raptors a 12-point lead.A three-pointer by Rashad Vaughn with 5:11 to play cut Toronto’s lead to nine points, but that was as close as the Bucks would come.The Raptors, who haven’t lost six in a row since Dec. Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 11 rebounds to go with eight points.Jabari Parker had 21 points to top the Bucks (21-25), while Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 19.DeRozan is sidelined with a right ankle sprain, but Lowry & Co. Norman Powell added 19 points for Toronto (29-18), while Patrick Patterson had 10. The Raptors took a 36-19 lead into the second.The Bucks showed some fight to cut the deficit to single digits for large chunks of the second quarter. “I can’t tell you. 3-12 of 2012, missed out on an opportunity to make up ground on the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have held onto the top spot in the Eastern Conference despite a big-time slump of their own.“It sucks, but we can’t work like that,” Lowry said of the lost opportunity. One night after Kyle Lowry was named to his third consecutive NBA all-star team, the Toronto Raptors guard proved why.Playing a third consecutive game without DeMar DeRozan, Lowry scored 32 points to lift the Raptors to a 102-86 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, finally ending Toronto’s losing streak at five games. Spurs, Warriors, those guys are playing extremely well right now so we’ve got to make sure we get to that level as well.”The Raptors briefly trailed the Bucks, but a dunk from Nogueira was the punctuation mark on their huge run that put Toronto up by 19 points. “They’re having their difficulties, we’re having our difficulties.”Lowry couldn’t put his finger on why some teams are struggling.“I don’t know, you write the story and tell me,” he joked with a reporter. I think the first two months is a push and everyone’s just going and going and going and that third month is like ‘OK.’ That’s when the better teams keep going. But the Raptors had stretched their lead back to 53-39 at the halftime break. fared just fine without him Friday night.The Raptors had already beaten the Bucks twice this season, but had showed during this ugly stretch that no game is a given, no team can be taken lightly.In their last two losses — two-point losses to San Antonio and Memphis — the Raptors sputtered out to horrible starts then rallied in the dying minutes.Friday, they roared out of the gate, as Lowry led a 31-6 run in the first quarter to give them their biggest lead of the game —19 points. But the feisty Bucks weren’t going down without a fight and Toronto led just 77-70 with one quarter left to play.Nogueira and Terrence Ross had the Air Canada Centre fans flying out of their seats with a beautiful passing play — Nogueira stole the ball, passed to Ross on the run, who threw up a lob that Nogueira finished with a dunk.

Serena Williams sets grand slam record with win in Australia

“I couldn’t have written a better story.”The match didn’t live up to its classic billing, with nerves and tension causing uncharacteristic mistakes and unforced errors, with four consecutive service breaks before Venus finally held for a 3-2 lead in the first set. “I really enjoy seeing the name Williams on the trophy. In 2003, when the younger of the Williams siblings completed her “Serena Slam” of four consecutive titles, Venus was on the other side of the net. This is a beautiful thing.”Venus won the last of her seven majors in 2008 at Wimbledon. And she only made it back to the semifinals last year at Wimbledon.Another shot at a first Australian Open title was a sign of progress, she said.“That’s exactly where I want to be standing during these Grand Slams, is on finals day, having an opportunity,” she said. “I have been right there with you. And they still practice and travel together around the world.They met for the first time at a major at Melbourne Park in 1998 – Venus won that one. 23.Venus Williams got to watch from close range again, and shed tears more of joy than regret after being beaten in a major final for the seventh time by her record-breaking younger sister. They started out playing together in Compton, California, hardly a hotbed for tennis, with their father Richard and mother Oracene as coach and mentor. That included a game when Serena had game point but served back-to-back double-faults and three in all to give up the break.There were six service breaks in total. 23 until she got it.Now there’s a limited-edition racket – 23 of them to be released – and some custom-made shoes sent by former NBA great Michael Jordan. Both players were relatively subdued, except when Serena smashed her racket in the third game.After the fourth game, however, Serena Williams didn’t face another break point in the 1-hour, 22-minute match.“Serena Williams, that’s my little sister,” Venus said. Only Margaret Court, with 24, is in front of her in terms of overall Grand Slam singles titles, although the Australian great won 13 of her Grand Slams before the Open era began in 1968.“My first Grand Slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it’s stuff that legends are made of,” Serena said. Thank you Venus for inspiring me to be the best player I can be and inspiring me to work hard.”Asked if it felt awkward to be on the receiving end of so many losses to her sister, the 36-year-old Venus didn’t flinch.“No, because I guess I’ve been here before,” she said. It’s been an awesome thing, your win has always been my win.”In terms of total years, it was the oldest Grand Slam women’s final in the Open era –the Williams sisters combining for 71 years, 11 months.Roger Federer will be aiming to increase his all-time men’s record to 18 when he takes on 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal on Sunday, completing the singles finals lineup of all 30-somethings.Bob and Mike Bryan missed out on a doubles record, losing the final 7-5, 7-5 to Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia.The third-seeded twins were trying to win their 17th Grand Slam title, which would have tied them with John Newcombe.Speaking of records, Serena got a little bit superstitious Down Under, and hadn’t wanted to talk about the No. Serena won the all-Williams final, the ninth in Grand Slam history and the second in Australia, 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday night.With her record seventh Australian Open title, Serena moved ahead of Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era.The Williams sisters are close. It had Jordan’s usual jersey number No. She didn’t reach another Australian final for 14 years.When Serena sat on the court, holding both arms up to celebrate on Saturday, Venus walked over to her sister’s side of the net for a hug.“This was a tough one,” Serena said. She didn’t make the second week of a major for a few years as she came to terms with an energy-sapping illness after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011. 23 stamped on the heel, helping to provide some synchronicity for the numbers involved. Some of them I have lost right there against you. “I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus, she’s an amazing person – she’s my inspiration.“There’s no way I would be at 23 without her – there’s no way I would be at one without her. Serena Williams held up a Grand Slam winner’s trophy for the 23rd time, celebrating her unrivalled place in history, and received a congratulatory letter and a pair of custom-made shoes from Michael Jordan, the name most synonymous with No. “That’s the highlight of all this, is to be in that moment.”Serena Williams, meanwhile, enjoyed the fact she made history in Melbourne.

Lyubimov scores late, Flyers beat Leafs

Steve Mason got his first shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. 17 and were coming off consecutive victories for the first time in 51/2 weeks. Anderson went 6-2-2 in January with a .909 save percentage and 2.78 goals-against average.With both starters on the bench after stellar outings, the Flyers and Maple Leafs took chances their backups could keep them in the thick of the playoff race.Coach Mike Babcock is trying to lead Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs to the playoffs for just the second time since the 2003-04 season.Simmonds began his NHL career with Los Angeles before being traded 51/2 years ago and returns there for the all-star game with a team-high 21 goals. The Flyers jumped the Maple Leafs in points (56-55) and kept one of the final slots in sight headed into the All-Star break. The move paid off and the Flyers won their third straight game for the first time since the end of the 10-game win streak.The Maple Leafs also sat goalie Frederik Anderson a night after he stopped 22 shots in a 4-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Simmonds scored No. William Nylander scored for the Maple Leafs in their first road loss since Nov. 21 on a breakaway midway through the first for a 1-0 lead.Nylander made it 1-all early in the second when he scored off a rebound when the Flyers failed to clear him out of the crease. Coach Dave Hakstol gave his No. The Flyers seemed like a team on the rise when they won 10 straight games in December before they proved that was more a mirage than the start of a sustained playoff push.The Flyers had won just five times since the streak ended on Dec. Roman Lyubimov scored late in the third period to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to their third straight win, 2-1 over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.Wayne Simmonds also scored to help the Flyers steady themselves after a rough month that rattled their playoff hopes. 1 goalie an extra day of rest headed into the break and put Neuvirth in net. 30 at Calgary.Michal Neuvirth stopped 27 shots for the Flyers and held off the extra skater in the final minute to give them a win they badly needed.The Maple Leafs and Flyers are both flirting with the final Eastern Conference postseason spots. Mason has to wait a few more days to try and make it two straight shutouts.

Gaudreau lifts Flames to overtime win over Senators

Wingels, making his Senators debut after being acquired from San Jose on Tuesday, tipped Fredrik Claesson’s point shot to open scoring for Ottawa early in the third.Calgary scored first for the first time in 10 games as Ferland opened the scoring at 9:39 of the second.The Flames made it 2-0 with under three minutes remaining in the second period as Dougie Hamilton deked around Ryan Dzingel to get a shot off. Johnny Gaudreau scored in overtime as Calgary edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Thursday, two days after the Flames were called pathetic by their own head coach Glen Gulutzan.Micheal Ferland and Sean Monahan also scored for the Flames (25-24-3), who snapped a four-game losing streak. Chris Wideman and Tommy Wingels scored for the Senators (26-15-6) as Mike Condon stopped 23 shots in Ottawa’s net.The game marked the return of former Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron, who was fired following last season. Brian Elliott, a former goalie for the Senators, made 25 saves for the win. He is now an assistant coach for Calgary.After a slow start the Senators scored twice in the third period to tie the game to finally give the 16,263 on hand at Canadian Tire Centre something to get excited about.Wideman tied the game 2-2 with 62 seconds remaining in regulation as he beat Elliott far side. Poor defensive coverage left the puck out front where Monahan jumped on it and buried it.Both teams struggled to create anything in the opening period as Kyle Turris had the best chance for the Senators, while Sam Bennett had an opportunity to get the Flames on the board but Condon made the save.

Ladd scores twice, Islanders beat Canadiens

“Carey was outstanding. Weber’s slap shot from straightaway went off Greiss’ glove and into the goal with 5:51 remaining for his 12th of the season and 10th on a power play.New York had some chances on a power play near the midpoint of the first period, but Price stopped Lee’s backhander from in close and an attempt by Tavares.Greiss made a nice save on a wrister in close by Phillip Danault with about 9 1/2 minutes left on the Canadiens’ second shot on goal.Ladd got New York on the scoreboard with 6:53 left in the first as he got the puck, skated into the right circle and fired a shot from the dot through Price’s five-hole. It was a really good game.”John Tavares and Nick Leddy each had two assists to help the Islanders beat the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens for the first time since April 10, 2014.“We’ve beaten some good teams throughout the year, so I think we believe we can compete with anybody in the league,” Tavares said. “Team effort. … Can’t find me a guy that really had a bad shift. “Johnny did a good job getting the puck off the draw. It was his second multi-goal game with New York since signing a seven-year, $38.5 million free-agent deal last July.“It was a critical part of the game,” Ladd said. Josh Bailey also had a goal and Thomas Greiss stopped 21 shots as New York improved to 5-0-1 in its last six. I knew with him in the corner he was going to find some space. … “Obviously, you’re going to have to beat good teams to have success.”New York, which was last in the Eastern Conference when Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano on Jan. We played fast, we played hard, we competed. The New York Islanders had a strong effort from start to finish and head into the All-Star break playing their best hockey of the season.Andrew Ladd scored twice to lead the Islanders to a 3-1 victory over Montreal on Thursday night, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Canadiens. Price, set for his fifth All-Star appearance, fell to 2-5-1 in his last eight games.“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Islanders, they played a real solid game,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. Anthony Beauvillier was also stopped on a wrister from the inside edge of the right circle.“We just seemed to come out with a lot of energy and line after line was feeding off it,” Tavares said.After the Islanders’ Dennis Seidenberg was sent off for hooking with just over 6 minutes remaining, the Canadiens scored just 16 seconds later. And 1 through 20, we were dialed in. “They were great (from) the drop of the puck,” interim coach Doug Weight said. If it was not for him, the game would not have been that close.”Ladd put the Islanders ahead 2-1 at 7:20 of the third when he took a pass from Tavares and fired it past Price from the right circle for his 10th of the season. So, nice play by him.”Bailey scored on a slap shot from the high slot for his eighth of the season with 4:47 to go, putting New York up by two.With the Islanders leading 1-0, Greiss slid to his left to make a nice save on Max Pacioretty about 8 1/2 minutes into the second period.Price had to make a flurry of saves, stopping a wrist shot by Anders Lee and then sprawling left to right on a backhander by Bailey with 9 minutes left. Nikolay Kulemin fired a long shot that was stopped by the goalie, and Casey Cizikas was denied on the rebound. 17, has jumped ahead of five teams and sits five points out of a playoff spot.“As good as this stretch has been, we have to come out of the break and follow it up,” Tavares said.Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens and Carey Price finished with 39 saves.

Tiger Woods’s return to PGA Tour lands in the rough at Torrey Pines

Open. “I hit bad tee shots and made a bad three-putt and laid up from the rough into rough. Greens were a little tough out there with some of the putts. He couldn’t immediately find his ball amid sand dunes and ice plants, instead finding a spot to take his penalty drop. He opened with a 73. I had a round which I let get away in the middle part of the back nine, and unfortunately, did hit very good shots.”Even so, the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open hasn’t had this much energy since Woods won the tournament in 2013 for the eighth time at Torrey Pines. 1 player in the world, missed five putts from the 4-foot range. Woods said he had a hard time adjusting to the pace of play from being in threesomes for the first time since he last played a PGA Tour event at the Wyndham Championship in August, 2015.“Honestly, it was just weird waiting that much,” he said. It was just a different rhythm.”His game was greater concern than having to wait.This was a battle from the start, when his opening tee shot went into the right rough and he hit a big cut closer to the gallery than the green. Woods did well to keep his score from getting out of hand early, with four tough par saves on the front nine to limit the damage.He started the back nine with 10-foot birdie putts on the 10th and 11th holes, and with two par fives ahead of him, starting to believe this could be a strong start.“And it went the other way,” Woods said. 12, he played the next six holes in six over, with a double bogey on the 15th hole the biggest blow.Woods snap-hooked his tee shot over the crowd and into a deep ravine, letting the driver fall from his hands in disgust. “Tiger’s back, the cameras are on you, so … I’m trying to do my best. Tiger Woods had a rough return to the PGA Tour on Thursday but two Canadians found themselves in the top three after the first round.Woods, playing in a PGA Tour event for the first time in 17 months, fell apart on the back nine of the south course at Torrey Pines and wound up with a four-over 76, leaving him in danger of missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. I just kept compounding problems and mistakes out there.”Starting with No. He hooked a long iron through eucalyptus trees into more rough and couldn’t get it closer than 20 feet.At least he ended with a birdie and a smile, which looked to be more of a relief – not only for Woods, but for Jason Day and Dustin Johnson.The star group sure didn’t play like one, with all three players frustrated at times by the bumpy poa annua greens in the afternoon. Day, the No. “Didn’t really hit it that good. He was 11 shots behind Justin Rose, who shot a 65 on the shorter north course.Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., was one stroke back of Rose after a six-under 66. “Not used to doing that. Johnson made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 72.None of them ever were better than 1 under at any point in the round.“I was fighting out there all day,” Woods said. Hadwin is coming off a second-place finish at the CareerBuilder Challenge that saw him shoot a 13-under 59 in the third round.“I don’t want to say it was as good as a 59, but it was pretty darn good,” Hadwin said.Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch was tied for third at five under, Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., sat at four under and Nick Taylor, also of Abbotsford, was three under.Woods didn’t hit a fairway after No. He had two eagles over his last five holes to take the lead by one shot over Hadwin.Hadwin has the best score on the South Course, which held the 2008 U.S. At home, I guess we’re flying a little quicker than this. The gallery covered every inch of space behind the ropes from tee-to-green on the first hole, standing six-deep around the green.“You’re concentrating extra hard out there because obviously this is a tough golf course, but you want to make sure that you’re playing well,” Day said. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the way that everyone wanted to start, but I gave it 100 per cent.”When the group left the fifth green and walked up the hill to the sixth tee, only a half-dozen people remained behind.Rose had a quiet time over on the North Course, which was renovated by Tom Weiskopf and has new and smooth greens. 7 and had to cope with thick rough he had not seen in some time.

Super Bowl expected to have super-sized TV ratings despite playoff dip

“The Super Bowl is one of those events that is all consuming.“I don’t think it will have any shortage of viewers. A postseason ravaged by routs offered no relief.Whatever the league’s issues, however, none of them will have an impact on the Super Bowl.“Let’s not lose sight – the NFL is a hugely prosperous property,” former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, now owner of a sports media consulting company, told Reuters.“They are way above any other traditional sports event in terms of ratings and the ability to reach a huge cross section of the American public.“No one is going to be holding benefits for the NFL anytime soon.”Indeed, advertising money is in the bank with Fox, who will broadcast the game in the United States, getting a reported $5-million (U.S.) for 30 seconds of commercial time.Houston is ready to welcome a well-heeled crowd of A-listers, Hollywood celebrities, titans of industry and politicos for a week of parties and lavish sponsored events.The fun will reach a climax on Sunday when the Falcons and Patriots clash in a Super Bowl that will see nearly as many tune in to watch the commercials and halftime show featuring Lady Gaga as the game itself.“It has sort of become kind of a national holiday,” Rick Burton, professor of Sport Management at Syracuse University, told Reuters. 5 in Houston. A Super Bowl blowout will not help the NFL but it will not hurt either, as industry experts say the American sporting juggernaut will roll on regardless of the championship game’s result.After a regular season and slew of yawn-worthy playoff games that drew lower TV ratings and exposed some cracks in the NFL’s armour, the league would like nothing more than to have the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons serve up a Super Bowl thriller on Feb. The question is will reach the all-time record, Super Bowl 49 that 114.5 million viewers per minute.“I don’t think there is any reason for anyone at NFL headquarters to be quaking in their boots.” “The Super Bowl isn’t going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back if it’s another blowout.”Even with its ratings wobble, industry experts expect the Super Bowl, as usual, to produce a whopping number. The only question is whether it will surpass the record high set in 2015 when New England beat Seattle.“The Super Bowl is going to get the highest rating by far of any entertainment or sports event in the United States regardless of the matchup,” Dennis Deninger, who teaches a class at Syracuse University called The Super Bowl in Society, told Reuters. Despite concussions, a billion-dollar lawsuit, domestic abuse controversies and all manner of scandals from deflated footballs to ‘pay for pain’ schemes, it seemed for years that nothing could dent the NFL’s bulletproof popularity.But alarm bells have been ringing at NFL headquarters as average TV audience figures dropped 8 per cent during the regular season.

Serena and Venus rise to set up retro final at Aussie Open

I just feel like no matter what’s happened we’ve both won.“It is definitely 100 percent the best-case scenario that I could have ever dreamt of.”FAIRYTALEWhile Serena was finding her feet after four months out with a shoulder injury and Venus has ended a eight-year grand slam final drought, Lucic-Baroni’s fairytale return from years in the tennis wilderness trumped them both.A doubles champion at Melbourne Park as a 15-year-old, Lucic-Baroni’s career went into a tailspin on the back of trauma in her personal life before she battled back to reach Thursday’s semi-final as world number 79.Her left leg heavily strapped, she came out firing winners as if her life depended on it but was simply unable to stay with the world number two in the 50-minute contest.The six-times champion was all but untouchable when her first serve hit the mark and she sealed the win when Lucic-Baroni smashed a forehand into the net, reaching her 29th grand slam final where she will bid for a 23rd major title.Serena gave her opponent a huge hug at the net before watching on smiling as Lucic-Baroni took a selfie as a memento of her day in the sun.“Honestly she’s an inspiration, she deserves all the credit today,” said Serena.Lucic-Baroni offered “zero excuses” for her defeat and said she had been overwhelmed by the messages of support she had received.“I felt like the whole world is with me and supporting me, sharing this really amazing moment with me,” she said. “My opponent played better than I did today when it mattered, in the clutch points.” Serena and Venus Williams swept through their last-four matches at the Australian Open on Thursday, setting up a retro family final that will be their ninth meeting in a grand slam title decider.It is eight years since the American sisters, who have a combined age of 71 and 29 slam titles between them, last faced each other across the net for one of the sport’s four major prizes. Younger sister Serena was at her brutal best on Rod Laver Arena as she brought an end to the dream run of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at Melbourne Park, thrashing the 34-year-old Croatian 6-2 6-1.Venus, 36, had a much tougher time and needed to draw on the experience of 73 grand slam campaigns to rally from a set down for a 6-7(3) 6-2 6-3 victory over compatriot Coco Vandeweghe.Serena, who beat Venus in her older sister’s only previous Australian Open final in 2003, does not expect sentiment to play a role in Saturday’s title-decider either, but Thursday was all about family pride.“For us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true,” the 35-year-old Californian.“She’s my toughest opponent, no one has ever beaten me as much as Venus has. “Maybe mine has gone on a while but I’d like to keep that going. “It’s really filled my heart with so much joy.”Venus needed almost three times as long to overcome world number 35 Vandeweghe, who broke the 13th seed on her first service game and won the opening set on a tiebreaker.CLUTCH POINTSThe big-hitting 25-year-old’s hopes had rested on the accuracy of her serve and booming winners but her challenge faded as the unforced error count racked up and her first serve success rate hovered around the 55 percent mark.The key to seven-times major champion Venus’s victory, though, was her ability to raise her game at decisive moments and she saved 12 of 13 break points she faced, seven in the second set alone.Venus danced around the court in breathless delight at her victory and gave the crowd an elaborate version of her traditional twirl, having ensured she would become the oldest Australian Open finalist in the professional era.“Everyone has their moment in the sun,” Venus added. I got nothing else to do.”Vandeweghe was visibly upset at losing her first grand slam semi-final, indulging in a “feel-sorry-for-myself moment”, as she described it.“But you have to give credit where credit’s due,” she said.

Federer fights off Wawrinka to reach Australian Open final

Roger Federer held firm against a furious fightback from fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka, edging his former apprentice 7-5 6-3 1-6 4-6 6-3 in a Melbourne Park classic to reach the final of the Australian Open on Thursday.On the same day the Williams sisters booked their place in the women’s final, 35-year-old Federer continued the march of the veterans, becoming the oldest man to reach a grand slam final in nearly 40 years. The Swiss master was rattled as fourth seed Wawrinka rose up to level the match but his opponent double-faulted to hand Federer the decisive break in the sixth game.Federer served out the match to love, setting up a chance for his 18th grand slam title against Rafa Nadal or Grigor Dimitrov.