Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unsure whether Juan Mata will remain at Old Trafford beyond this season.

The Spanish midfielder has spent the last seven-and-a-half years at Old Trafford, racking up 271 appearances during that time.

However, he has struggled for minutes this season – featuring just 16 times in all competitions – and is due to become a free agent next month.

United have the option to trigger a 12-month extension in Mata's contract, but Solskjaer insists the player himself will have the final say over his future.

"I've kept the dialogue with Juan and we're due to speak again very soon," he said at a news conference on Monday previewing his side's home match with Fulham. 

"Of course, he's not played as much as he'd like and that's a decision that we'll make with him. He's in charge of his own future and he's been such a good servant for the club. 

"But of course, it's hard, as I've said so many times, to leave good players out, good people out of the team. 

"It's about what does he want as his next step in his career? Is it still play out his career here, or is it going somewhere else? We haven't made a final decision yet."

Mata's appearance in a much-changed United's 2-1 loss to Leicester City last week was just his fifth start of the season in the Premier League, not helped by injuries and family matters.

Prior to that rare outing against the Foxes, Mata had played just two minutes of top-flight football for United in 2021, coming on as a late substitute in February's 3-1 win against Newcastle United.

He has failed to score in the league since April 2019 but does have two assists in 2020-21, which equates to 0.42 per 90 minutes and is the best record of any United player to have played more than once this term.

Bruno Fernandes is next on the list with 0.33 assists per 90 minutes, albeit over a far greater period of 36 games compared to Mata's eight.

The 33-year-old also ranks highly for chances created, the Spaniard's 1.69 per 90 minutes behind only Luke Shaw (2.53) and Fernandes (2.81).

Serie A side Lazio are reportedly the favourites to sign the former Valencia and Chelsea man should he depart Old Trafford in the coming weeks. 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has confirmed he will miss Germany's Euro 2020 campaign after opting to undergo a "therapeutic procedure" on his knee.

Sunday's LaLiga results – including Celta Vigo's shock win at Camp Nou – mean Barcelona can no longer win the title, with the club and Ter Stegen subsequently deciding to cut his season short.

A brief statement released by the club revealed Ter Stegen will "undergo a therapeutic procedure on the patellar tendon in his right knee on Thursday May 20 in Malmo by Dr Hakan Alfredson and under the supervision of the club's medial services".

While Barca did not outline a return date, Ter Stegen provided an update on his official Instagram account on Monday, confirming it means he will play no part at the delayed Euro 2020.

"I'm disappointed about yesterday's defeat and that now we can no longer win La Liga," he wrote.

"After a complicated start to the season, we showed good character going 19 matches unbeaten – but we weren't able to keep this form.

"I have decided together with the medical team of the club that I will do a complementary intervention on my knee.

"I'm sad that I will miss Euro 2020 this summer with Germany. For the first time in many years I will be a fan at home supporting my country, I hope we win it!

"After the summer break, when we are back on the pitch I hope to be able to play with fans [in attendance] once again, I miss it!

"Thank you for your support throughout a difficult season and stay healthy!"

Ter Stegen has featured 31 times in the league in 2020-21 for Barcelona, but his overall performance for the season has not been quite up to the high standards he has set previously.

He has conceded 32 goals from shots on target worth 29.07 expected goals on target (xGOT), meaning he has let in nearly three goals more than expected. Celta's first goal on Sunday came from a speculative Santi Mina shot worth just 0.04 xGOT.

Ter Stegen's xGOT differential of -2.93 this term is by far his worst across a single season at the club. In 2015-16, it was -1.44, though he only played seven LaLiga matches, while his next worst was -0.16 in 2019-20, a narrow margin which essentially meant he conceded as many goals as would be expected given the quality of the shots on target he faced.

But for this procedure the ex-Borussia Monchengladbach man certainly would have been a part of the Germany squad next month, though he would have been playing back-up to Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer.

 

While Ter Stegen has let in more goals than he should have this season, Neuer has conceded 40 times in the Bundesliga from an xGOT value of 42.09, therefore preventing two goals in 2020-21.

The Neuer or Ter Stegen debate has been a hot topic for Germany for a while now, though the data suggests that, at least this season, the Bayern star remains the safer option between the posts.

Kevin De Bruyne will travel with Manchester City for their game at Brighton and Hove Albion, as Pep Guardiola insisted focus is not a problem for his team with the Champions League final looming.

De Bruyne has not featured since his starring role in City's 4-1 aggregate Champions League semi-final triumph over Paris Saint-Germain due to a muscular complaint.

But the Belgium playmaker is set to return to action for the recently crowned Premier League champions when they face Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Tuesday.

City round off their domestic campaign at home to Everton on Sunday, before attention turns to the Champions League final against Chelsea in Porto.

“Yeah, he’s been training for the last two days, he feels good,” Guardiola told a pre-match news conference of De Bruyne.

"Kevin is important like everyone is important. When we are able to stick together and push each other, it is possible to win.

"Everyone knows it but everyone is at the same level, we will see his level and see if he is fit to play the next games."

Guardiola handed a belated City debut to 35-year-old goalkeeper Scott Carson in last Friday's 4-3 victory over Newcastle United, where his side twice came from behind and Ferran Torres' hat-trick secured an English league record 12th consecutive away win, although Ederson will return for the season conclusion.

A two-time winner in the Champions League going back to his time with Barcelona, Guardiola insisted focus would not be a problem for his side over the coming week.

"We will have six days to focus on the final after the Everton game. Now it is the Brighton game," he said.

"If you are working to prepare for Brighton, you are working the best way as possible to prepare for the final.

"I'm pretty sure we cannot prepare the final of the Champions League if we are not ready for Brighton or Everton. We did not speak one second about Chelsea.

"Tomorrow we'll play to win again and this is the best way to arrive to the final. In the six days, we'll be more focused on Chelsea."

Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Arsenal last week and Liverpool's dramatic win over West Brom on Sunday means the Blues' top-four qualification hopes are in the balance.

Thomas Tuchel's side face the prospect of high-pressure encounters against Leicester City, their weekend conquerors in the FA Cup final, and Aston Villa.

"I don't know," Guardiola replied when asked whether the contrasting workload for his team would be an advantage or a disadvantage.  

"I won't be in the locker room for Chelsea. I'm only concerned about what we have to do in these two games.

"In these 10 or 12 days we will prepare these two games and the final as best as possible. I don't know if that is better or not."

Chelsea face a challenge to cope with undeserved losses, according to manager Thomas Tuchel, as they bid to guarantee Champions League football next season.

Qualification for Europe's top club competition via their league standing is still in the Blues' hands but, having lost 1-0 to Arsenal prior to their defeat by the same scoreline in Saturday's FA Cup final with Leicester City, they are just a point ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool with two games to go.

The Reds claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over West Brom on Sunday to trim the deficit, goalkeeper Alisson heading in a remarkable winner at the death.

But Tuchel sees no reason for Chelsea – who of course can still qualify for next season's competition by beating Manchester City in the Champions League final this month – to start nervously looking over their shoulders as they control their destiny going into Tuesday's rematch with Leicester.

Instead, he views putting defeats in two games they dominated behind them as the bigger test for his side.

Chelsea lost to Arsenal after a calamitous error by Jorginho, Tuchel's men finishing the game with an xG of 1.79 to the Gunners' 0.64.

The cup final saw them beaten by a superb long-range effort by Youri Tielemans, with a late Wes Morgan own goal ruled out for offside as a game Chelsea ended with an xG of 0.78 to Leicester's 0.32 went in the favour of the Foxes.

Asked if he watched Liverpool's win, Tuchel told a media conference: "I came home in the afternoon and I checked on the television and saw 1-1.

"I checked again in the 95th minute and it was still 1-1. Then one minute later I saw. It doesn't make things boring. It was a fantastic header in the last minute that makes things interesting and tight. It's still in our hands.

"The setback for us was the Arsenal game. We let the door open so Liverpool have a foot in the door. They're a strong team and it's what they do. We make a huge effort to overtake them and this is what we did. We should be aware of the huge performance we've made so far but we need to finish the job.

"We need to rely on ourselves because we are in the situation where we don't have to look at other grounds.

"We were ready to win the game in the cup final and I understand that after the Man City game there could be a drop of focus for the Arsenal game.

"I never want it and we fight against the human side to drop a percentage but I can understand it.

"I have no worries or regrets about Leicester. I felt my team fighting on an extremely high level. We can improve in composure and decision-making.

"That is not new for us since we are together. So except the results, nothing much has changed.

"I'm not afraid to say these are not deserved losses but they are losses and it's a challenge to cope with it. It's another step in our development."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United's recent loss of form could be partly due to off-field issues but is hoping supporters can give his side a lift against Fulham on Tuesday.

The Red Devils lost back-to-back Premier League home games against Leicester City and Liverpool last week in a little over 48 hours amid a backdrop of fan protests against the club's ownership.

Supporters forced the initial clash with Liverpool two weeks ago to be postponed late on after demonstrating inside and outside Old Trafford.

United had to alter their pre-match plans for both the rearranged clash with Liverpool and the loss to Leicester to ensure their players were in the stadium well ahead of kick-off.

Solskjaer admits the disruption affected his squad and, ahead of United welcoming fans to Old Trafford for the first time in 14 months, the Norwegian has called for unity.

"I didn't want to use it as an excuse because we lost two games but surely it's a reason behind the performances," Solskjaer said at a news conference on Monday.

"I'm not saying it didn't affect them, but I was impressed with how professional they were and how they went about it.

"I think the mood in any club and the relationship between the team and the fans is vital to what happens on the pitch.

"The players are all human beings, we're all human beings, and we will react to getting our supporters back in a positive way.

"They have always given us extra energy and hopefully the players will give the fans a reason to cheer and that's what we have to focus on. It's a big game for us in that respect."

Tuesday's visit of Fulham will see up to 10,000 in attendance for United's final home game of the season as coronavirus restrictions continue to be eased in the United Kingdom.

Victory for United would guarantee a second-place finish in the Premier League for just the second time since Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012-13 season.

Jose Mourinho was in charge for that previous occasion and described it as one of his best achievements in management, but ​Solskjaer will not celebrate finishing so far behind Manchester City.

"The competition is a lot harder now than when I was a player," he said. "Of course, you have three, four, maybe five teams that challenge for the top two positions.

"The top two positions have been taken by two teams in the past few years and for us to move into them and divide them is a good performance, but it's not an achievement.

"You can't say it's an achievement. We've taken steps as a team, we're not where we want to be. We know we have some deficiencies as a group.

"There are parts of the game we need to improve on but I've felt we’ve made strides in most places.

"I've been very pleased with the players this season, I've got to say. I've been impressed by them, but we want to take the next step as well."

United have won 18 of their past 22 Premier League meetings with Fulham and are unbeaten in their last 12 against them in the competition, winning 10 of those.

Solskjaer's side follow up Tuesday's fixture with a trip to Wolves on the final day, before turning their focus to the Europa League final with Villarreal on May 26.

That game in Gdansk offers Solskjaer a chance to win his first piece of silverware as United boss, but he is not thinking about that game with two Premier League matches still to go.

"You know whatever team I pick against Fulham, it has to be a team that gives everything," he said.

"If you go into a game tentative, if you have something else in your mind, you don't fly into the tackles as you should, you don't sprint as normal, you don't maybe focus as much.

"There's more of a danger of getting hurt in that kind of position. We want to build momentum, we want to build confidence because of course we've lost the last two at Old Trafford.

"We don't want to go into an important game with bad momentum or a bad feeling, so we use these two games to get results but also to get confidence."

United have lost their final home league game of the season in just one of the previous 13 campaigns, doing so against Cardiff City in 2018-19.

The Red Devils have Daniel James and Anthony Martial back, but Harry Maguire and fellow centre-back Phil Jones are both out.

Jamie Vardy will be remembered as Leicester City's greatest ever player, according to his former team-mate Andy King.

Vardy's goals fired Leicester to an unforgettable Premier League title triumph in 2015-16, when he was named the FWA Footballer of the Year and went on to play and score for England at Euro 2016.

While the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante went on to seek pastures new, Vardy remained as the Foxes' talisman and on Saturday added the club's first FA Cup to their maiden top-flight title when Youri Tielemans' thunderbolt sunk Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley.

The 34-year-old's fairy tale ascent from non-league football has been well documented and, with 116 goals, he lies 19th on the Premier League's all-time goalscorers list.

Vardy will have his eye on climbing a few more places yet, as he is under contract to Leicester until 2023. When the time comes for him to move on, Wales international King believes there will be a virtually impossible void to fill.

"Everyone wants to know what the secret is or what he's like," King told Stats Perform.

"But he has no secret over things which he does. You guys know that because he's been telling everyone he drinks his coffee, drinks his Red Bull, he eats what he wants and then he goes out and scores two goals and runs around like a madman.

"What you see is what you get with him. Like with Wes [Morgan] and Kasper [Schmeichel], first and foremost he has great affection for the club, the people at the club and the owner.

"He's such a good guy to have in the changing room and to have off the pitch as well.

"The hole is going to be massive when he leaves Leicester. I think he's Leicester's best ever player. And that's before adding another trophy to the collection.

"He'll be a hard one to try replace when Leicester have to do that at some point."

On the other hand, Vardy's goalscoring mantle has arguably already passed, with the veteran playing a supporting role to the prolific Kelechi Iheanacho.

Vardy's 13 goals in the Premier League this term represent a joint-lowest return since he hit the same number in 2016-17, comfortably below the 23 he netted to win the Golden Boot last term.

But his nine assists represent a career best in the competition, matching his total from the past two years combined.

This can, in part, be attributed to a slightly altered role supporting Iheanacho in a 3-5-2 system - their lethal striker partnership taking Leicester to the brink of Champions League qualification, which can be secured in Tuesday's rematch with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The former Manchester City striker scored 20 times in all competitions across his previous three seasons at the King Power Stadium but he has exploded into life this time around, with 18 to his name.

Thirteen of those have come in his past 13 matches and King believes the 24-year-old's patience over the course of a lengthy acclimatisation process has been rewarded with more than just a new contract until 2024.

"When he first came in, he was in and out of the team," he said. "It must be hard adapting from Man City to go into another team where you're not going to get the chances laid on a plate for you and you're not going to have the ball for 80 per cent of the game. You've got to learn to do the other stuff as well.

"Kel was a really honest guy, he was trying really hard to learn the system. To start with, Leicester played a 4-3-3 with only one striker and Vards is always going to play.

"They changed the system when Harvey Barnes got injured, which was a big loss because he was playing really well. I don't know if Brendan said to him, 'Look, I'm going to go to a 3-5-2 and you're going to be my second striker, you know you're going to play'.

"If that was the case, he certainly rewarded the manager because for the second half of the season he has been absolutely outstanding. He's carrying Leicester at a moment to the top four, scoring goals when no one else was and his all-round play has always been good.

"Like, anyone when they're playing with confidence and knowing they're going to play the next game, it all falls into place. Strikers go on a hot streak and he's certainly on one of those at the moment."

Roberto Martinez said Eden Hazard's condition is the best he's had for a long time after picking the Real Madrid forward in his 26-man squad for Euro 2020.

Hazard features in the squad despite the former Chelsea star continuing to endure a difficult spell with Madrid.

He has once again battled several injuries during the 2020-21 campaign, limiting him to just seven starts in 14 LaLiga appearances.

Those appearances have resulted in three goals and a pair of assists, with Hazard creating six chances for his team-mates in the league.

But Martinez is now satisfied with his fitness levels, with the focus for Hazard now on finishing the season strong for Madrid, who host Villarreal on Saturday knowing they must better Atletico Madrid's result at Real Valladolid to win LaLiga.

Hazard played just 13 minutes in Sunday's 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, touching the ball 18 times and without creating a single chance or having a shot at goal.

 

But Martinez told a media conference: "The situation with him is we know exactly where he is, his condition is the best he's had for a long time.

"The level of fitness is really satisfactory, we look also at how important he is for the national team. [It's] important he finishes the season strongly for Real Madrid." 

There are few surprises in the Belgium squad, with Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, FA Cup final hero Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens all selected.

Divock Origi misses out after a season in which he has been involved in only nine Premier League games for Liverpool.

De Bruyne's involvement in the Champions League final on May 29 will have no impact on their preparations for the rescheduled tournament, Martinez stressed.

"The date we'll meet is the 31st May and we'll be preparing [for] two friendlies," he added. 

"De Bruyne is [our] only player in the final and will be joining the squad on 7th June. Each player's individual needs are being catered for.

"Each player will have the same break and perfect preparation for the tournament."

Belgium begin their Euro 2020 campaign on June 12 against Russia in St Petersburg.
 

Belgium squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Matz Sels.

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Jason Denayer, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen.

Wing-backs: Yannick Carrasco, Timothy Castagne, Nacer Chadli, Thorgan Hazard, Thomas Meunier.

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Leander Dendoncker, Dennis Praet, Youri Tielemans, Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel.

Forwards: Jeremy Doku, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Leandro Trossard.

Strikers: Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku.

Kevin Durant led the tributes for Kyrie Irving after the Brooklyn Nets guard helped his side to victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers to join an elite list of shooters.

Irving shot 8-of-10 from the field in Sunday's 123-109 win, was 1-of-2 from three-point range and a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line as the Nets secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

In doing so, the 29-year-old finished the regular season with a 50.6 field-goal percentage, 40.2 three-point percentage and 92.2 free-throw percentage, making him the ninth member of the 50/40/90 club.

He also joined Larry Bird, Stephen Curry and Durant as the only players to average at least 25 points per game during a 50/40/90 season.

Durant put up 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds against the Cavaliers, but he was more impressed by the achievement of Irving - one that he can see his team-mate repeating in the future.

"It's been a phenomenal season from Ky," Durant said in his post-game interview. "He's a guy who can get it from anywhere on the floor at any time at that size is remarkable. 

"Point guards that get 50/40/90 is just so much more impressive to me. I'm very happy for Kyrie, and I'm sure this won't be his last time."

Irving's coach Steven Nash, himself a four-time member of the 50-40-90 club, echoed the views of Durant.

"Kyrie has been incredible this year," he said. "So efficient, such a talented player who just makes incredible shots every night. 

"So, to be able to make those shots to create the space to take those shots, to convert at such an efficient rate, is incredible. He's a remarkable player and it's a remarkable accomplishment. I'm really proud that I can see it first hand."

The Nets were again without James Harden due to injury management, while Joe Harris missed a third straight game with a left gluteal strain. 

Nash is unsure if Harris will be available for his side's first-round playoff series against either the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards, but Harden is expected to be available.

"I think James will be fine, but Joe might need a few days - I'm not really sure," Nash said. "I think it's about monitoring the situation. But there's a case where he may not practice the whole week - that's OK.

"He's played a lot of minutes this year and we want him to heal up as best he possibly can and kind of not have to chase this thing through the playoffs and have it linger. 

"So, if we can resolve it I'd rather he resolves it than practice this week. He can follow along and rehab and that would make me happy. But if he's able to practice I'm sure he will."

Youri Tielemans has been tipped to sign a new contract at Leicester City by Andy King after writing his name in the club's folklore with his stunning FA Cup final winner.

The Belgium international scored the only goal of Saturday's showdown with Chelsea in front of 21,000 supporters with a right-foot drive into the top-left corner from 25 yards.

Leicester survived a nervy finale to win their first ever FA Cup at the fifth attempt, making it one of the most famous days in the Foxes' history.

Match-winner Tielemans - the third Belgian to score in the showpiece after Eden Hazard in 2018 and Kevin de Bruyne a year later - was rightly acclaimed after the match.

The 24-year-old has impressed throughout the season for Leicester, who will now switch focus to trying to nail down a top-four finish and Champions League football when they face Chelsea again on Tuesday.

Despite rumoured interest from other Premier League heavyweights, former Leicester midfielder King believes Tielemans can achieve all his career aims by staying on at the King Power Stadium.

"It's important Leicester keep him. Only he will be able to tell you whether it's going to be difficult to keep him because you never know what certain players' ambitions are, but days like Saturday certainly help," King told Stats Perform.

"He knows he can win trophies at Leicester and he knows he can play in the Champions League - that's what all the top players want.

"So, you never know, especially with players who aren't from the UK, if they want to play in another country or try something new.

"But from what I've heard, read and seen, he is really, really happy here, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him sign some sort of new contract in the not-too-distant future. I'm not saying I know he's doing it, but it just seems the right fit.

"He's probably been Leicester's Player of the Season this year – he has been absolutely outstanding. He's got everything, and for someone so young to score the match-winning goal in an FA Cup final is amazing."

That stunning Wembley strike took Tielemans' goal tally for the season to nine in all competitions – six of those in the Premier League – and he has also chipped in with four assists.

The former Monaco midfielder, who has two years to run on his existing deal, is third behind Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (2,615) and Rodri (2,683) for passes attempted among Premier League midfielders this term with 2,355.

He also ranks ninth in the division for tackles by midfielders (74), joint-10th for tackles won (39) and joint-11th in terms of chances created (44), underlining his all-round ability in the middle of the park.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has been credited with getting the most out of Tielemans, who arrived for a reported club-record fee of £40million in July 2019, and King feels the former Liverpool boss can also play a part in keeping the player at the club.

"He really likes the manager," said King, who won the League One, Championship and Premier League titles during his time with the Foxes. "The manager really likes him as well and he's now playing the best football of his career.

"He's just won a trophy and [can still get] into the Champions League, so I don't think he will be in any sort of rush to get out of the situation he's in at the moment.

"The way Leicester are going now, with one of the best training grounds in Europe, plans to extend the stadium, he's going to enjoy all that. 

"He's young and has plenty of years ahead of him, so hopefully he can sign that new contract and carry on playing the way he is."

While Tielemans' strike will long live in the memory of Leicester supporters, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel also cemented his status as one of the Foxes' all-time greats with some big saves against Chelsea.

Schmeichel turned Ben Chilwell's header on to the post and then somehow kept out Mason Mount's powerful shot en route to becoming the first goalkeeper to captain the winning side in an FA Cup final since David Seaman with Arsenal in 2003.

"Kasper is someone who is made for big moments," King said of his former team-mate. "He is driven to improve himself every day and improve those around him to make sure standards don't slip.

"He's vocal in the dressing room, and the best thing for us is that he really does love and care for the club. He cares about the owner and the supporters and will do anything to make sure Leicester win a game.

"He thrives off the big occasion and that save off Mason Mount is world class, an unbelievable save.

"I was sat right behind the shot, and just the sheer power on it, you think he might get a hand to it, but he's not going to be able to keep it out. He's a world-class goalkeeper."

Shohei Ohtani has been hailed as the "most physically gifted baseball player ever" by Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes after inspiring the Los Angeles Angels to a dramatic victory at Fenway Park.

Two-way star Ohtani hit a two-out, two-run drive in the ninth inning of Sunday's MLB showdown as the Angels beat the Red Sox 6-5 in the series finale to snap a four-game losing run.

Ohtani entered the frame in the final inning along with Mike Trout and, after the latter hit a bloop single to keep the game alive, Ohtani smashed a home run off Barnes for his second homer of the series.

In doing so, Ohtani denied Barnes his 10th save of the season - only four others currently have more than nine - and the Red Sox closer was impressed by what he saw.

"I personally think he's the most physically gifted baseball player that we've ever seen," Barnes said in his post-game interview. "I don't know that you're ever going to see someone who can throw 100-101 (mph) and hit the ball 600 feet. 

"He's a special player and incredibly talented. Hopefully, he stays healthy and has a long career."

Ohtani now has 12 homers this season, which is the joint-most in MLB alongside Mitch Haniger, Aaron Judge and Ronald Acuna Jr.

After his inspired display against the Red Sox, the 26-year-old's RBI count stands at 29 - the joint-12th best in the division - and his batting average .262.

"Coming off a losing streak and the first two games of the series, the way we lost, it wasn't a good way to lose," Ohtani said through a translator.

"So, it was huge for us and the team to come up with this. We showed that we can beat any team."

Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is confident tennis' season-opening grand slam will take place in Melbourne next year despite suggestions the tournament may be played overseas.

The federal government in Australia is sticking to predictions that international borders will be closed until at least the middle of 2022, leaving the feasibility of hosting the Australian Open shrouded in doubt.

It has even been suggested in a recent ABC report that alternative destinations are being explored, with Dubai and Doha said to be being considered as potential venues.

But Tiley, speaking to RSN, believes the timeline on opening up borders will be altered in time for the tournament, which traditionally takes place in January.

"We're talking about two weeks of quarantine and the borders remaining closed until the middle of next year, but I'm an optimist," Tiley said.

"I think that's going to be too long. I think it's going to be brought forward because we're going to get on top of it with the vaccines and how we manage the virus.

"If we don't, we're going to be extremely challenged."

This year's tournament was blighted by logistical issues, with several players forced into quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus on chartered flights into Australia, while just days before the event was due to begin more than 500 players and officials were made to isolate after a worker at an Australian Open quarantine hotel tested positive for COVID-19.

Novak Djokovic, the men's singles champion in Melbourne, was chief among those critical of the conditions players had to endure.

"The players have been travelling around the world in a bubble so there's no place in the world anymore where there's quarantine requirements for them and so they're used to certain conditions," Tiley added.

"We [in Australia] still have this 14-day requirement but of course the positive is we don't have any community transmission of the virus."

LeBron James insists he will be fit for the Los Angeles Lakers' play-in tournament showdown with the Golden State Warriors and believes Stephen Curry should be named the NBA's MVP.

The Lakers rounded out an injury-hit regular-season campaign with a 110-98 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans, with James nailing 25 points at Smoothie King Center.

Despite a fifth straight win, the Portland Trail Blazers' 132-116 victory over the Denver Nuggets consigned the Lakers to seventh position in the Western Conference and having to go through the new play-in route involving the teams from seventh to 10th.

It means the Lakers have to win one of up to two games to make the playoffs, with their first opportunity to do so coming against the Warriors on Wednesday.

James' fitness for the fixture was shrouded in doubt when he appeared to aggravate the ankle injury that saw him miss 26 of the Lakers' final 30 regular-season games.

However, he insists it was just a "tweak" and fully expects to feature, saying: "I'll be fine.

"I'll be in the line-up on Wednesday. The time is now and I'm ready for it."

Having to go through the play-in may not be the ideal situation for the defending champions, who have been decimated by injury this term with both James and Anthony Davis missing significant periods of time.

But James says the team are feeling confident having begun to hit their stride at the end of the regular season.

"I don't look at our seeding. It doesn't matter," he added. "Obviously we know we wanted to play a lot better this season, but injuries took a toll on our team. 

"We're finally starting to get whole, starting to feel a little bit better about our situation."

In Golden State, James and the Lakers come up against a red-hot Curry, who scored 46 points in the Warriors' 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies to secure the NBA's scoring title.

Curry finished the regular season with a scoring average of 32.0 and became the first player 33 years or older to lead the league in scoring since Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in 1997-98 (35 years at end of season and averaged 28.7ppg).

He also joined Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with multiple scoring titles, MVPs and championships.

James has no doubt that Curry should be awarded with another individual honour.

"I mean, just look at what he's done this year. I don't know anything else if you're looking for an MVP. If Steph is not on Golden State's team, what are we looking at?" James asked.

"We get caught up in the records sometimes. We get caught up in the, okay, who has the best record instead of just saying who had the best season that year. And Steph has had, in my opinion, the best season all year."

NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 110-98 but they did not avoid the play-in tournament.

LeBron James – who appeared to tweak his ankle – posted 25 points for the streaking Lakers, who claimed their fifth consecutive victory, however they did not end the regular season high enough in the Western Conference to bypass the NBA's new play-in format involving the seventh through 10th seeds in pursuit of the playoffs.

The Lakers needed help from the Denver Nuggets but the latter lost 132-116 to the Portland Trail Blazers, leaving the Los Angeles franchise seventh in the west and set to face Stephen Curry's eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors for a playoff berth.

Andre Drummond had a double-double for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis finished with 14 points for the Lakers, who will have to win one of up to two play-in games to clinch a regular playoff position.

Portland locked up the sixth seed and their eighth straight playoff berth, meaning they will go head-to-head with the third-seeded Nuggets in the opening round.

The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, clinched the NBA's best record (50-20) for the first time in their history.

Jordan Clarkson finished with 33 points and All-Star Rudy Gobert contributed 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Jazz, who eased past the Sacramento Kings 121-99.

The Jazz edged the Phoenix Suns (51-21), who pipped the San Antonio Spurs 123-121, for top spot in the NBA – the first time they have finished with sole possession of the league's best record.

 

Curry crowned scoring champ

Curry earned his second scoring title after posting 46 points in the Warriors' 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Curry pipped Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal to the award, having finished the regular season with a 32.0 points per game average. Two-time MVP and three-time NBA champion Curry became the first player 33 years or older to lead the league in scoring since Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in 1997-98 (35 years at end of season and averaged 28.7ppg). The 33-year-old also joined Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players with multiple scoring titles, MVPs and championships.

James Harden was absent due to injury management, but the Brooklyn Nets still secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a 123-109 win at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Durant put up 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. Irving added 17 points as he joined an elite list of shooters. Irving finished the regular season with a 50.6 field-goal percentage, 40.2 three-point percentage and 92.2 free-throw percentage – becoming the ninth member of the 50/40/90 club. He also joined Larry Bird, Curry and Durant as the only players to average at least 25 points per game during a 50/40/90 season.

The New York Knicks secured fourth position in the east via a 96-92 win over the Boston Celtics. The Knicks – back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13 – will have home-court advantage for their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, who routed the Houston Rockets 124-95.

The Wizards' season appeared dead and buried following an horrendous start, having acquired Russell Westbrook to team up with Beal. But the Wizards will face the Celtics as the eighth seed in the play-in tournament thanks to their 115-110 victory against the Charlotte Hornets. Westbrook recorded 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, while Beal had 20 of his 25 points after half-time.

Tyrese Maxey flexed his muscles as Eastern Conference top seed the Philadelphia 76ers rested their stars in a 128-117 victory over the Orlando Magic. In the absence of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry and Danny Green, rookie Maxey had 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He became the only rookie this season with multiple 30/5/5 games – LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edward only had one such game.

Precious Achiuwa's career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds helped the shorthanded Miami Heat rout the Detroit Pistons 120-107. Tyler Herro (16 points and 11 assists) and Gabe Vincent also had double-doubles as the sixth-seeded Heat prepare to face third seed the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round in the east.

 

Houston's woeful season comes to an end

After a blockbuster trade sent wantaway superstar Harden to the Nets in January, the rebuilding Rockets crumbled. A crushing loss to the Hawks left the Rockets with a 17-55 win-loss record – their worst campaign since going 14-68 in 1982-83.

 

Sit back and enjoy!

The Nets produced a stunning piece of offense against the Cavaliers in the second quarter. After dispossessing Cleveland, Blake Griffin played a behind-the-back pass to Irving, who passed the ball ahead to Mike James. James tossed the ball off the backboard for Durant to slam down.

 

Sunday's results

New York Knicks 96-92 Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers 125-113 Toronto Raptors
Washington Wizards 115-110 Charlotte Hornets
Phoenix Suns 123-121 San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors 113-101 Memphis Grizzlies
Atlanta Hawks 124-95 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 123-109 Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers 128-117 Orlando Magic
Miami Heat 120-107 Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls 118-112 Milwaukee Bucks
Minnesota Timberwolves 136-121 Dallas Mavericks
Los Angeles Lakers 110-98 New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder 117-112 Los Angeles Clippers
Portland Trail Blazers 132-116 Denver Nuggets
Utah Jazz 121-99 Sacramento Kings

 

Play-in tournament

After a day off, the Eastern Conference play-in tournament gets underway on Tuesday. The Wizards will meet the Celtics in a seventh vs eighth battle, while the ninth-seeded Hornets face the 10th-seeded Pacers for a spot in the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Angels emerged from the jaws of defeat to stun the Boston Red Sox 6-5 thanks to two-way star Shohei Ohtani.

Ohtani hit a two-out, two-run homer to lift the Angels past the Red Sox in the ninth inning in MLB action on Sunday.

The Angels were on the verge of losing their fifth consecutive game before star pair Mike Trout and Ohtani entered the frame in the final inning of the series finale at Fenway Park.

After Trout hit a bloop single to keep the game alive with two outs, Ohtani smashed a home run off Matt Barnes to snap the Angels' four-game skid.

"Coming off a losing streak and the first two games of the series, the way we lost, it wasn't a good way to lose," Ohtani, who is now tied for the MLB lead in homers with 12, said through a team translator. "So, it was huge for us and the team to come up with this. We showed that we can beat any team."

 

Wild walk-off win for White Sox, Duvall sinks Dodgers

Jose Abreu dashed home with the game-winning run as the high-flying Chicago White Sox walked off 4-3 against the Kansas City Royals. The American League (AL) Central-leading White Sox rallied from a 3-2 deficit as Abreu scored on a wild Wade Davis pitch.

The Houston Astros celebrated their sixth straight win by defeating the Texas Rangers 6-2. Lance McCullers Jr. pitched six scoreless innings for the Astros, scattering five hits and striking out five.

Adam Duvall delivered for the Miami Marlins, who topped World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 behind his three-run homer in the fifth inning. The Marlins avoided a series sweep.

Maikel Franco homered and drove in three runs for the Baltimore Orioles, who avoided a three-game sweep by rallying past the New York Yankees 10-6. Aaron Judge homered for the third successive game, but it was not enough for the Yankees.

Alex Wood kept his perfect record intact after the San Francisco Giants accounted for the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1. Wood – who improved to 5-0 this season – gave up one run and eight hits. The Giants pitcher struck out six batters and walked one for the National League (NL) West leaders.

The Chicago Cubs were 5-1 winners over the Detroit Tigers as Kyle Hendricks carried a shutout into the ninth inning. Hendricks allowed eight hits and struck out a season-high eight batters in just over eight innings without allowing a walk.

 

Stroman struggles

New York Mets ace Marcus Stroman was off the pace in the team's 7-1 rout at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. Stroman gave up homers to Manuel Margot, Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe. Stroman – who dropped to 0-4 in his last five starts – gave up five runs and six hits in six innings.

 

Vladdy hits longest homer of his career

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was at it again in the Toronto Blue Jays' thrilling 10-8 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies. Guerrero hit his 11th homer of the season, a 465-foot solo drive in the eighth inning – the longest home run of his career.

 

 

Sunday's results

Baltimore Orioles 10-6 New York Yankees
San Francisco Giants 4-1 Pittsburgh Pirates
Toronto Blue Jays 10-8 Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles Angels 6-5 Boston Red Sox
Chicago Cubs 5-1 Detroit Tigers
Tampa Bay Rays 7-1 New York Mets
Milwaukee Brewers 10-9 Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox 4-3 Kansas City Royals
Oakland Athletics 7-6 Minnesota Twins
Houston Astros 6-2 Texas Rangers
Cincinnati Reds 7-6 Colorado Rockies
Seattle Mariners 3-2 Cleveland Indians
Miami Marlins 3-2 Los Angeles Dodgers
Washington Nationals 3-0 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres 5-3 St Louis Cardinals

 

Diamondbacks at Dodgers

It will be an all-NL West clash when the Diamondbacks and Dodgers open their series on Monday. Both teams are coming off losses as Walker Buehler starts for the Dodgers, while Diamondbacks ace Madison Bumgarner takes to the mound.

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