Novak Djokovic looks set to return to tennis at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February.

The 20-time grand slam winner was deported from Australia on the eve of the Australian Open after his entry visa to the country was cancelled.

Djokovic, who told officials he was not vaccinated against COVID-19, believed he was still eligible to enter the country and compete after testing positive for coronavirus last month and making a full recovery.

Dubai does not have the same conditions for entry as Australia, and Djokovic will be free to compete at the tournament he has won five times previously provided that he can produce a negative PCR test result on arrival.

His place in the field was confirmed by tournament organisers on Thursday, with Djokovic joined by defending champion Aslan Karatsev and last year's beaten semi-finalists Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov. The tournament runs from February 21 to 26.

After strong Australian Open campaigns, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Gael Monfils have also entered the Dubai event, which will be staged for a 30th time.

Djokovic won a hat-trick of Dubai titles from 2009 to 2011, adding further triumphs in 2013 and 2020. Only Roger Federer, with eight titles, has had more success at the tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic is not entered for the ATP 500 events in Rotterdam or Rio de Janeiro that precede the Dubai tournament.

Unlike in Australia, the 34-year-old can likely expect the red-carpet treatment in Dubai, where Colm McLoughlin, CEO of tournament sponsors Dubai Duty Free, said: "We are delighted to see Novak back in Dubai for the 12th time when he will be seeking his sixth title and we wish him the best of luck."

The Singapore Grand Prix will be on the Formula One calendar until at least 2028 after a seven-year contract extension to stage the race was agreed.

There was no racing at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in the past two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the 2022 race is set to go ahead on October 2.

F1 on Thursday announced that a deal has been agreed with Singapore GP Pte Ltd (SGP) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for the event to remain on the calendar for at least another seven seasons.

"I am delighted that Formula One will continue to race in Singapore for another seven years," said F1 president and CEO Stefano Domenicali.

"The Marina Bay Street Circuit hosted the first night race in F1 history in 2008, and Singapore has continued to thrill fans, teams, and drivers ever since. Singapore holds a special place on the F1 calendar, and this extension is part of our long-term commitment to continue to grow the sport in Asia.

"The plans that are in place to reduce the carbon footprint of the event are impressive and align with our plans to be Net Zero Carbon as a sport by 2030 and I look forward to continuing our successful relationship with Singapore GP and the Singapore Tourism Board as Formula One returns to this incredible city."

Singapore GP's chairman Mr Ong Beng Seng said: "We are very pleased that the night race will continue for seven more years.

"After more than a decade of celebrating this spectacular event on the racing calendar, we are looking forward to building on its success and working with Formula One as well as its partners to take the night race to greater heights. We are delighted that this marquee event will demonstrate how Singapore is open for business.

"We look forward to welcoming both local and overseas fans and visitors to the Marina Bay Street Circuit once again."

Kieran Trippier has confirmed he attracted "strong interest" from Manchester United last year before returning to the Premier League with Newcastle United.

Trippier swapped a LaLiga title defence with Atletico Madrid for a relegation battle with Newcastle this month, with the England full-back joining Eddie Howe's side for a reported fee of £12million.

The 31-year-old spent two-and-a-half seasons at Atleti after leaving Tottenham in 2019, helping Diego Simeone's side clinch a LaLiga title last year.

There were reports since early in 2021 that Trippier wished to return to England, and United were heavily linked.

Trippier has now confirmed that United and Atleti held discussions before the 2021-22 season, after England's run to the final of Euro 2020, but the potential move broke down over the Spanish club's demand that his release clause, reported at around £50m (€60m), was met.

"After the Euros, there was really strong interest," Trippier told Newcastle great Alan Shearer in an interview with The Athletic.

"I've got to be careful what I say because I don't want to get into trouble, but yeah, there was interest. We had conversations, but Atletico Madrid just wanted my release clause and it was a lot of money for a 30-year-old, so I understand why Man United didn't do that.

"There were other clubs interested too. Anyway, it's gone now, so it doesn't bother me."

Trippier hopes Simeone, who has established himself as one of world football's leading coaches during his decade-long stint at Atleti, follows him from LaLiga to the Premier League.

"I'd love to see him working in England. I know he was learning English about a year ago, and his partner speaks English," Trippier said.

"The thing about Simeone is that because he's so passionate when he's talking in the dressing room, I think it would get to him if he wasn't completely fluent. But I would love to see him in the Premier League. I think everyone would."

 

Simeone's pragmatic approach has sometimes come in for criticism, but there can be no doubting its success.

"It's a bit unfair, because Simeone has been so successful. He's won eight trophies," Trippier added, before referring to a comment Jurgen Klopp made about Atleti not playing "proper football" after Liverpool's defeat to Los Colchoneros in the 2019-20 Champions League knockout stage.

"I understand where Klopp is coming from, but if you're playing at Anfield you can't go toe-to-toe with [Liverpool] because you'll get punished.

"Everybody has their own system or set-up and Simeone's is different. It's worked for him."

Trippier's decision to leave Tottenham came after Mauricio Pochettino's side had reached the 2019 Champions League final, losing to Liverpool - ironically, at Atleti's Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

The former Burnley defender enjoyed a fine 2018 World Cup, but felt his form dropped off slightly afterwards. However, he also hit out at Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who he claims was engineering a sale while the season was ongoing.

"f you look back to the last few months of my Tottenham career, I admit that I wasn't at the levels that I was at the World Cup and there's no excuse," he said.

"After the Champions League final, it felt like the right time to move on.

"What annoyed me, I know 100 per cent for a fact – and this is what I was most angry about – that two months before the end of the season, Daniel was offering me to other clubs.

"I knew for certain that was happening, so I knew my time there must be up. I was playing for my team-mates and the supporters, but I also knew I wasn't wanted."

Diego Carlos will not be moving to Newcastle United in the January transfer window, according to Sevilla sporting director Monchi.

The Magpies tabled a bid of reportedly around £30million this month to try to bring the Brazil centre-back to the Premier League, but that was rejected by Sevilla and it appears that the deal will not be revisited before deadline day.

The 28-year-old joined Sevilla in 2019 from French side Nantes and has established himself as a key part of Julen Lopetegui's stubborn backline, which boasts the best defensive record in LaLiga this season having conceded just 16 times in 22 games.

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe was keen to add Diego Carlos as they try to ensure their Premier League safety, but Monchi's latest comments appear to suggest he will have to look elsewhere for defensive reinforcements in the current window.

Speaking to i, the renowned sporting director said: "The Newcastle offer was a good offer, a respectable offer. I have to say that. But our board and management team thought it wasn't enough.

"It's true that maybe it wasn't the right time. It's a difficult market to find a replacement for a player like Diego Carlos. It's a market that takes place over a very short period of time. Maybe if that offer comes along in the summer then things might have changed."

Monchi also suggested the player himself is happy to stay with Sevilla, who are second in LaLiga, only four points behind leaders Real Madrid.

"I was talking to Diego this morning and he's happy," he added. "At the end of the day he's staying here at his club, a club that really wanted him.

"If he was really angry then maybe he would have changed his opinion, but he seems happy."

He also had words of praise for the way Newcastle conducted business but reiterated his belief that negotiations have now ended between the two clubs.

"We've had conversations based on a lot of respect. They've understood that we can reject their offer," Monchi said.

"The first contact comes from the player's agent. They said, 'Maybe Newcastle are prepared to make an offer'.

"The first offer was a month ago. With Newcastle, it's been very correct the way it's gone ahead. We've had video calls and each side has explained their view.

"We consider the negotiation finished because I don't think we're going to start negotiations again because we're all clear how we think about this transfer."

Dusan Vlahovic will bring the goals that Juventus have been missing this season, according to Marco Tardelli.

Tardelli, the former Inter, Juventus and Italy midfielder, has no doubt Vlahovic - who seems set to join Juve from Fiorentina before the end of the transfer window - will be a success in Turin.

Juve have struggled in attack this season, scoring just 34 times across 23 matches. That ranks them 11th in Serie A for goals scored, way behind Inter's league-leading 53. Their issues were on show for all to see on Sunday, when the Bianconeri managed just eight attempts against Milan, with none hitting the target in a 0-0 draw.

Vlahovic has scored 17 league goals for Fiorentina this term in 21 appearances. In 2021, the 21-year-old equalled the record set by former Juve star Cristiano Ronaldo for the amount of Serie A goals scored in a calendar year with 33.

"An important purchase. He has the qualities Juventus need. He will bring Max [Allegri] the goals Juve missed," Tardelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"You can see that he has something special even when he doesn't score, he is one who also plays for the team.

 

"He has shown personality. He will improve even more thanks to his new team-mates, he can score more.

"Will he feel the pressure? You never know the reaction upon joining a great team, but playing with higher-level people usually helps you."

The Serbia international seems set to be Serie A's latest posterboy, but Tardelli does not believe Vlahovic can yet be compared to some of the league's greatest players.

Tardelli added: "No to comparisons. I read about [Christian] Vieri, [Gabriel] Batistuta.

"Not that [Vlahovic] has little talent, but they are players with another physical strength, who have more to rely on than he does."

Allegri has consistently ruled Juve out of the title race this season. The Bianconeri sit fifth, a point behind Atalanta in fourth but 11 adrift of leaders and champions Inter.

Tardelli says Juve need to strengthen in other departments to became a real force once again.

"There is also a need for more, especially in midfield," he said. "Someone has to lend a hand to [Manuel] Locatelli. For next year, somebody must also be found for the defence, some changes must be made.

"[Giorgio] Chiellini can't be eternal, I don't think they trust [Daniele] Rugani very much."

Key to providing the ammunition for Vlahovic for the remainder of this season will be Paulo Dybala, who is yet to sign a new contract with Juve – his deal runs out at the end of the campaign.

 

Tardelli believes Dybala must step up, despite the Argentina international being Juve's top scorer in all competitions this term with 11 goals, while nobody in the squad betters his 15 direct goal contributions.

"One player like him is never too many," Tardelli said of Dybala. "Contractual issues will be dealt with, but he must prove that he is worth what he asks for.

"Lately he has not been the leader Juventus needed. Too inconsistent. I don't know how much he was affected by COVID and how much by the renewal issue."

Danielle Collins is relishing a "spectacular" Australian Open showdown with home favourite Ash Barty after outclassing Iga Swiatek to reach her maiden grand slam final.

Collins was imperious in her second major semi-final on Rod Laver Arena, taking just an hour and 18 minutes to beat Swiatek 6-4 6-1.

The 28-year-old American's emphatic victory was her second over a top-10 opponent in a grand slam.

Collins was relentless as a struggling Swiatek had no answer to her aggressive approach, and the 27th seed will attempt to tear up the script by denying Barty a first Australian Open title on Saturday.

It was only last April that the Florida native underwent emergency surgery for endometriosis, an extremely painful condition in which tissue similar to that which lines the uterus grows outside of it.

Collins was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2018, but she has broken new ground for her career at Melbourne Park, dropping only two sets en route to the final.

She said in an on-court interview following the win over Swiatek: "It feels amazing. It's been such a journey, and it doesn't happen overnight. So many years of hard work and hours at an early age on court.

"Yesterday I was talking about all the early mornings my dad would get up with me and practise before school. It's just incredible to be on this stage and especially with the health challenges. I'm just so grateful, and I couldn't be happier."

Collins beat world number one Barty to reach the Adelaide International quarter-finals last year, having lost their previous three meetings, and the world number 30 will embrace such a big occasion this weekend.

She said: "We've had some incredible battles over the years. It's going to be really spectacular, with the energy the fans bring, whether they are for me or for my opponent.

"I think we're just so grateful after everything with COVID to have incredible energy and people here supporting us."

Ash Barty is ready for "one last crack" on Saturday when she will bid to become a first home winner of the Australian Open women's singles in over 40 years.

The 25-year-old Queenslander powered through to the third grand slam final of her career with a clinical 6-1 6-3 win over Madison Keys on Thursday.

She is 2-0 for her past two finals in the majors, taking titles at the 2019 French Open and last year at Wimbledon, and has looked an unstoppable force in Melbourne.

That theory will be put to the test by Danielle Collins, the 28-year-old big-hitting American who dismantled Iga Swiatek's game in the second semi-final to reach a first slam final.

Barty is dialled in and up for the challenge, looking to land the title that was last won by an Australian when Chris O'Neil triumphed at the 1978 tournament.

"It's fun, it's brilliant to be playing in the business end of your home slam," Barty said in a news conference.

"Saturday's going to be a new experience for me. So I'll go out there and embrace it, smile, try and do the best that I can, and whatever happens, happens.

"It's been an incredible January and incredible summer for us, and I'm really looking forward to having one last crack here, to really go out and enjoy it."

Wendy Turnbull was the last Australian finalist in the women's singles, way back in 1980, and the scale of the achievement in ending the long wait is not lost on Barty, who has already won doubles and singles titles this month at the Adelaide International.

"To be in the finals weekend of your home grand slam is what a lot of Aussie players dream of," she added.

This is modesty, but Barty is now a long-standing world number one, and therefore anything but lifting the trophy would be a disappointment at this stage, with 27th seed Collins looking to spring what would be a major upset.

Barty said she was able to "play the match on our terms" against Keys, pointing to her on-court effort being a collaboration with her support team.

 

Keys was outplayed and her reflection on the experience of tackling Barty was blunt.

"It's tough, it sucks. She's just playing incredibly well," Keys said. "You have a game plan in your head, but she's just executing everything so well.

"She's serving incredibly well, so you don't get any free points on that; her slice is coming in so much lower and deeper than it was in the past, so it's hard to do anything on that; and then you try to play to her forehand and she can open you up there.

"She's so locked in and focused. I've played her a handful of times and this is easily the best I think she's ever been playing."

Barty, who dabbled with cricket before focusing on tennis, appears to have a work-life balance that would be the envy of many, finding it no problem to unwind once she leaves the gates of Melbourne Park. Enjoying the early Australian dominance in the women's Ashes has only brightened her mood.

"It's pretty easy for me. When I'm not here, I don't think about the tennis too much," she said. "I've got the women's Ashes to watch, which is brilliant, read a book, few coffees, and we're set."

The young Barty who first visited the Australian Open before hitting her teenage years, for a training camp, would stand in awe of the player she has become.

"I'd have been only 11 or 12 years old," she recalled. "To see how professional it was and to see everybody going about their business was really eye-opening.

"My first taste of it was in the juniors and I loved it. Being able to get a taste of that kind of lit the flame. You wonder what you can achieve."

Danielle Collins will face home favourite Ash Barty in her first grand slam final at the Australian Open after dispatching Iga Swiatek in straight sets.

Playing in only her second major semi-final at the age of 28, an assured Collins rose to the occasion to win 6-4 6-1 in dominant fashion on Rod Laver Arena.

The 27th seed from the United States was beaten by Petra Kvitova in the last four of the first grand slam of the year at Melbourne Park three years ago, but she was not to be denied on this occasion.

Swiatek was unable to become the first Polish woman to reach the final of this tournament, struggling with her serve from the start as her bid to win a second grand slam title came to a halt and Collins booked a showdown with world number one Barty on Saturday.

Collins capitalised on a shaky start from the 2020 French Open champion, breaking when the seventh seed sprayed a forehand long after double-faulting in a poor first service game.

An aggressive Collins was a double-break up at 3-0 after her out-of-sorts opponent drilled a backhand wide, but Swiatek sprung into life, winning back-to-back games to reduce the deficit to 4-2.

Swiatek trailed 5-2 after being broken for a third time as she struggled with her second serve and although Collins failed to serve out the set at the first attempt, she made no mistake second time around after firing down two aces.

The Florida native was in the zone, staying on her feet during changeovers, and she struck another blow by breaking in the first game of the second set with a cross-court backhand winner.

Swiatek's frustration mounted as her service woes continued, Collins near flawless with her backhand a potent weapon as she broke again to lead 3-0.

The ice-cool world number 30 showed not a hint of nerves, finishing off the job with another break after earning two match points with a glorious forehand winner and forcing a backhand error from Swiatek to move into the final.

 

DATA SLAM: Imperious Collins a class apart as Swiatek is let down by her serve

While Collins was at her very best in a brilliant performance, Swiatek looked like she did not know what had hit her.

Swiatek won only three of the 21 points behind her tentative second serve after landing only 60 per cent of her first serves in, and the 20-year-old fell into the trap of feeding Collins' dangerous backhand far too often.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Collins – 27/13
Swiatek – 12/13

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Collins – 7/4
Swiatek – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON

Collins – 6/10
Swiatek – 2/3

Nick Kyrgios has often walked a tightrope when it comes to etiquette on a tennis court, but the surprise Australian Open doubles finalist insists: "I'm not creating a circus."

Playing with Thanasi Kokkinakis, Kyrgios has led an Australian charge to the men's doubles final, with compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell awaiting them in the title match.

It will be an all-Australian final in the men's doubles for the first time since 1980, guaranteeing home champions.

Showman Kyrgios mounted a defence of his brand of tennis after he and Kokkinakis downed Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.

New Zealander Michael Venus had expressed annoyance at the behaviour of Kyrgios this week, after he and Tim Putz lost out in the quarter-finals to the home pair.

Venus said that match, which Kyrgios and Kokkinakis won in a deciding set, "felt like a circus", while taking direct aim at the conduct of Kyrgios by saying his maturity level was that of a 10-year-old.

Kyrgios, 26, says he can mix top-level tennis with entertainment, rebutting the "circus" accusation.

"I think I played pretty good tennis in the past. I've beaten pretty much every player that's picked up a racket," he told a news conference.

"I've obviously had to play a certain level of tennis. It's not like I'm going out there putting on a clown suit and creating a circus.

"I have also played, won titles, won big titles, I have played the traditional way. I think now I'm able to channel a different fan base. I think it's only positive in my opinion."

At the 2015 US Open, American tennis great John McEnroe questioned the eccentric shot selection of Kyrgios in a first-round loss to Andy Murray, telling ESPN: "You don’t want to be remembered as a clown. You want to be remembered as a player. He thinks he's a vaudeville entertainer."

Kokkinakis firmly backed his 'Special Ks' doubles partner on Thursday, saying critics should look at the attention Kyrgios brings to the sport from beyond its usual viewership.

"I think people have just got to be open," Kokkinakis said. "You're always trying to develop a sport and grow a sport.

"Of course, you've got to keep it within the boundaries. If people are so narrow-minded they can't see this is bringing a lot of fans and a lot of eyes, I think that is their problem honestly."

Kyrgios then addressed Kokkinakis, saying: "I think the quality of tennis was pretty good today, don't you think?"

Kokkinakis agreed. "That is what it is about. It's about having a good product on court that people actually come and enjoy. You can't please everyone," he said.

Australia ended a three-match winless streak in World Cup qualifying in emphatic fashion, with a 4-0 victory over Vietnam.

The Socceroos had drawn their previous two qualifiers in November, following a 2-1 reverse to Japan in October, leaving them outside the automatic qualification spots in Group B.

However, they got their bid for a place in Qatar back on track in style on Thursday in Melbourne, inflicting an eighth successive qualification defeat on Vietnam in the process.

Tomas Rogic thought he had put Australia ahead inside the opening 20 seconds, only for VAR to disallow the goal for Jackson Irvine straying offside.

Vietnam got no such reprieve when Jamie Maclaren headed home from Rogic's cross in the 30th minute, with the Celtic midfielder turning from provider to scorer on the stroke of half-time.

Slack defending gifted Australia a third when Craig Goodwin latched onto Mat Ryan's pass in the 72nd minute to score his first international goal, before Riley McGree picked out the bottom-right corner to make it 4-0, also his first strike for his country.

It was just the second time the nations have met in World Cup qualifying, with Australia – who are back to within two points of group leaders Saudi Arabia – making things rather easier for themselves this time after a 1-0 win in the first match.

 

Ash Barty paid tribute to Dylan Alcott after the wheelchair tennis player ended his glittering career with defeat in the Australian Open final.

Alcott, who is the only man to complete a 'golden slam' in quad singles, and has won 23 major titles in total, is retiring at the age of 31.

He lost 7-5 6-0 to Sam Schroder in the final match of his career, as his bid for an eighth straight Australian Open title fell just short.

Alcott, who has been named Australian of the Year, won all four grand slams last year and also took gold in the Paralympic Games, defending his title from 2016.

His run to yet another final in Melbourne has been a remarkable story, and Barty – the WTA world number one who reached the women's singles final by beating Madison Keys in straight sets on Thursday – hailed her inspirational compatriot.

"Dylan for me is at the forefront of that, he has inspired a nation, inspired the whole globe," said Barty when asked about the success Australians are enjoying at the season's opening grand slam.

"We were watching his match today. I was with my physio and when he was giving his acceptance speech, we were both crying.

"I was like, I need to get out there and get ready, get my game on, but to watch Dylan and for him be able to share that moment with so many people here...

"The way that he and the Australian Open have opened up the opportunities for more disabled people all around the world to play tennis and have a go is just exceptional, I couldn't be more proud of him."

Barty and Alcott are just part of an impressive 2022 tournament for home favourites. Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis will face countrymen Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in the men's doubles final, while Jason Kubler and Jaimee Fourlis are into the mixed doubles final.

"Unreal, honestly it's just incredible," said Barty on becoming the first Australian to reach the women's singles final since 1980. "I love coming out here and playing in the Australian Open.

"As an Aussie, we're exceptionally spoilt that we're a grand slam nation and get to play at home, in our back yard. I'm just happy that I get to play my best tennis here. I enjoy it, I've played well before and now I have the chance to play for a title. It's unreal."

Ash Barty continued her fairy-tale run at the Australian Open, crushing Madison Keys to become the first local woman to reach the singles final in 42 years.

The two-time grand slam champion continued her impressive form at Melbourne Park with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Keys on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

Barty, the world number one, became the first Australian woman to reach the singles final at the tournament since Wendy Turnbull in 1980.

She can become the first to win the title since Chris O'Neil in 1978 when she faces either Danielle Collins or Iga Swiatek in Saturday's final, which she will undoubtedly start as favourite.

Barty has dropped just 21 games on her way to the decider and the reigning Wimbledon champion was again ruthless against Keys, who lost her fourth grand slam semi-final in five such appearances.

The 25-year-old Barty settled well and broke the Keys serve in the opening game.

A powerful forehand created the opportunity before she delivered a cross-court winner off that wing to convert following a Keys drop shot.

Barty only made two first serves in her opening two service games yet did not lose a point.

Spurred on by a hopeful and enthusiastic home crowd, Barty's variety and depth – plus nine unforced errors in five games from Keys – helped her race into a 4-1 lead.

Keys finally won a point against the Barty serve in the sixth game, the Australian forced to save a break point before sealing the opening set in 26 minutes courtesy of a forehand return winner down the line.

The first real signs of nerves from Barty came in the fifth game of the second set, but she dug out a tough hold for 3-2.

Keys had settled, but Barty grabbed the break she was after in the sixth game with back-to-back forehand winners.

Barty looked calm throughout and that did not change as she served out the match in style, booking a spot in the final with a forehand winner.

DATA SLAM: Brilliant Barty on verge of ending Aussie wait

Barty has already ended one long wait – an Australian reaching the women's singles final at Melbourne Park.

She is a win away from ending another by becoming the first Australian winner of the men's or women's singles title in 44 years.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Barty – 20/13
Keys – 8/24

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Barty – 5/0
Keys – 1/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 4/6
Keys – 0/2

Jared Bednar believes Taylor Hall's hit on Nathan MacKinnon is the type of challenge the NHL is looking to phase out.

The Colorado Avalanche had to play most of Wednesday's meeting with the Boston Bruins without five-time All-Star MacKinnon after Hall connected with his shoulder in the first period.

Hall's shot to the upper body resulted in MacKinnon's own stick snapping up into his face, causing bleeding from his nose as the Avs star lay on the ice.

MacKinnon left the ice and did not return, while Hall was given a five-minute major that was reduced to two minutes after a review.

Colorado went on to win 4-3 in overtime and sit top of the Central Division in the Western Conference with 30 victories this season, the highest total in the league.

Though coach Bednar thought the right decision had been made in regard to Hall's penalty, he claimed it is the type of dangerous hit that the league is hoping to force out of the game.

"I believe they probably made the right call with the two [minutes],'' Bednar told reporters.

"But it's the type of hit, whether it's really solid or just a glancing blow, it's the kind of hit the league is trying to get rid of.''

Bednar also confirmed that MacKinnon had come around after the blow and would be assessed ahead further on Thursday, with the Avalanche in action again on Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Avalanche, who led through Kurtis MacDermid early on, were down 3-1 in the third period before Samuel Girard pulled one back. Gabriel Landeskog tied the game with 36.5 seconds remaining before Cale Makar sealed the comeback win in overtime. 

"Not fun seeing one of your best friends and obviously your top player on the ice bleeding like that,'' added Landeskog.

"We didn't want to give up. We wanted to keep going. We got the big two points, keeping this thing going at home.''

The Avs have now won 17 games straight at home, just six behind the league record set by the 2011-12 Detroit Red Wings.

"That's our biggest win of the year," Bednar said.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo thinks the Cleveland Cavaliers deserve more respect after their impressive defeat of the reigning champions.

The Cavs moved to 30-19 for the season, with eight wins from their past nine games, thanks to a dominant 115-99 home victory over the Bucks.

Cleveland have already comfortably surpassed their win total from last season, when they claimed just 22 victories and were in the draft lottery for the third year running, and only one side in the Eastern Conference has won more than their 30 games in 2021-22.

After falling behind in the first quarter, they dominated the middle phase of Thursday's game, beginning the second half with a three-pointer triple in 48 seconds before marching into a 93-72 lead.

Giannis tallied 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists on his return from a knee problem but his efforts were not enough.

Last year's Finals MVP said there is little doubt the Cavs are now contenders not just for the playoffs, but for the title.

"This is not the Cleveland we knew over the past few years," said Giannis, who brought chicken wings to his post-game media conference.

"They have a good team, and we have to respect them more. They're a playoff team and are fighting for the title themselves."

Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of arguably their best win of the season: "It's who we are. We take on all challenges.

"We don't run from anybody. We don't back down. We give everybody our best shot."

Counterpart Mike Budenholzer had few complaints about the result, adding of the Cavs: "They played lights out tonight.

"I don't know what the right analogy is, but they played really well. They beat us pretty good.

"Live ball turnovers is when transition defense is the toughest, and we made a lot of them."

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