Ashleigh Barty will face the only woman on the WTA Tour to have beaten her since February after the world number one set up a Madrid Open semi-final with Paula Badosa.

Barty took her winning streak on the red clay to 15, overcoming ninth seed Petra Kvitova 6-1 3-6 6-3 to reach the last four in Madrid for the first time.

Among active players, the Australian's red-clay run is bettered only by Serena Williams (32 matches in 2013-14) and Sara Errani (16 in 2012).

The 2019 French Open champion is 24-3 for the season and has now won her last 10 matches against top-20 opponents and five of the last six with Kvitova.

Kvitova's hopes of claiming a rare win over Barty were boosted when she sent the match to a decider, but Barty took her formidable record in three-setters this year to 11-1.

"It's just always staying in the fight," Barty said of her performance in deciders this season. "Always staying in the hunt and never letting it slide away.

"That certainly doesn't guarantee results, doesn't guarantee success. It guarantees you give yourself the best chance to do what you do and to figure it out and to find your way."

Finding her way on the WTA Tour is 23-year-old Badosa, who moved up to a career-high ranking of 62 after a run to the semi-finals in Charleston last month.

She defeated Barty in straight sets en route to the last four having beaten Belinda Bencic earlier in the tournament.

Badosa got the better of Bencic again on home soil on Wednesday, prevailing 6-4 7-5, the Swiss paying the price for a string of unforced errors at the end of each set.

"I expect a completely different match," Badosa said of the reunion with Barty.

"She's the number one in the world. Now she knows me. Number one in the world, they don't like to make mistakes two times in a row, so for sure I expect a tough match and completely different to Charleston."

Aryna Sabalenka is through to the semi-finals after Elise Mertens retired from their clash with a thigh injury. Sabalenka had held a commanding 6-1 4-0 lead.

She will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who is into her first WTA 1000 semi in over a decade after recording her fourth top-25 win of the week by defeating Karolina Muchova in straight sets.

At L'Open 35 de Saint-Malo, sixth seed Arantxa Rus and seventh seed Jasmine Paolini each lost in the round of 16 but fifth seed Viktorija Golubic fought back to defeat Greet Minnen in three sets.

Max Verstappen will need another famous performance at the venue of his first Formula One win as he looks to strike back against Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Dutchman took the first of his 11 career victories in Barcelona as an 18-year-old back in 2016, becoming the youngest race winner in F1 history.

But Hamilton, who leads the drivers' championship by eight points, loves this circuit too and has won the four editions to be held since.

World champion Hamilton will be thrilled to arrive in Catalunya with an advantage, having won the season opener in Bahrain and battled back to a heroic P2 after crashing at Imola before winning in Portugal.

Those three results have come despite Mercedes starting the 2021 season at pace disadvantage to Red Bull, who are looking to hit back before the calendar moves to Monaco, where Mercedes often thrive.

LAST TIME OUT

An excellent start to the 2021 season continued for Hamilton as he produced a masterful display to win the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Hamilton started from second, behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas in pole, but produced another inspired performance.

The Briton initially trailed Bottas, who caught his colleague cold and pushed further clear coming out of a safety car while Verstappen got ahead of the seven-time champion too.

But Hamilton passed Verstappen and then Bottas to claim the lead and remained in the driving seat during a tactical battle.

The Red Bull driver ultimately took second ahead of the Finn, who did at least claim the extra point for fastest lap.

Sergio Perez was fourth, his best finish for Red Bull, while Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc rounded out the top six.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN CATALUNYA

After they battled in Portugal, Hamilton and Verstappen both said they trust each other to race wheel-to-wheel in "super-hard but fair" fights for position, with the drivers emphasising the respect they have for one another.

It is a thrilling title scrap between the established frontrunner and the leader of the next generation that should take some time to settle given how close the two cars are for pace.

Indeed, Hamilton said the two would soon become "sick of the sight of each other" over a long season where 23 races are scheduled.

The second drivers on each team, Bottas and Perez, will need to mix it with the top two quickly or they risk becoming an afterthought in the drivers' standings even before the season has truly got going.

There were signs of fight in Portugal as Bottas took pole while Perez led the race for a period after the leaders had pitted, becoming the first man for over a decade to have led a grand prix for four different teams.

Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz will battle for Spanish superiority on Sunday in cars with similar pace levels, with both having scored points in two out of three races so far.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

The joy of six? - Hamilton is one win away from equalling Michael Schumacher as the driver to have recorded most wins in Catalunya (six). If he does it, the Mercedes star will lead the win rankings in 16 of the 32 tracks he has raced on during his illustrious career.

Super streak - Hamilton has won five out of his last seven races in Barcelona (four from pole), including the last four from 2017 to 2020. If he wins here, the Briton will surpass Schumacher (2001–2004) as the driver to have recorded the most consecutive wins at the circuit.

Famous 50 - Bottas equalled David Coulthard with his 49th podium in Portugal and could reach 50 at the Spanish GP. Only one other driver in F1 history has had more podiums without winning the world title -  Rubens Barrichello (57).

Sainz leads Spanish charge - The Ferrari driver has earned 34 points at this race, more than at any other grand prix. However, sixth place is his best finish here. A Spanish driver has earned points in each of the last 12 Spanish GPs since 2009, although one has not reached the podium since Fernando Alonso in 2013 (his last F1 win).

Norris on the button – The Briton has scored points in eight straight grands prix, the best run in his F1 career. That run has included four straight top-five finishes - he is the first McLaren driver to do that since Jenson Button in 2012.
 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 69
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 61
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 37
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 32
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 28

Constructors

1. Mercedes – 101
2. Red Bull – 83
3. McLaren – 53
4. Ferrari – 42
5. Alpine – 13

Rory McIlroy branded plans for a Super Golf League "a money grab" as he underlined his opposition towards any breakaway competition.

A report in the Daily Telegraph this week outlined proposals for the Saudi Arabia-backed event, referred to as the Premier Golf League, with high-profile players said to have been offered hugely lucrative incentives to join.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan addressed players ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship this week, where McIlroy is playing, with a Sky Sports report indicating professionals have been warned they will face immediate expulsion from the Tour should they sign up for closed-shop competition.

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley announced opposition towards the alternative league "in the strongest possible terms", adding: "Since the launch of our strategic alliance last November, our two organisations have been working together to make global golf less fractured and not create further division, with the interests of all players and fans at the forefront of our thinking."

McIlroy, who said he was first approached about a breakaway format seven years ago, compared the proposals to football's European Super League, plans for which were largely abandoned 48 hours after it was announced due to an outrcry from fans and key figures in the sport.

"Maybe the source of the money has changed or the people that are in charge have changed, but nothing has happened [since 2014]," McIlroy, a four-time major winner, said on Wednesday.

"If you go back to what happened last week in Europe with the European Super League in football, people can see it for what it is, which is a money grab, which is fine if that's what you're playing golf for is to make as much money as possible. Totally fine, then go and do that if that's what makes you happy.

"But I'm playing this game to try to cement my place in history and my legacy and to win major championships and to win the biggest tournaments in the world. I honestly don't think there's a better structure in place in golf, and I don't think there will be.

"You have the strategic partnership as well between Europe and the PGA Tour and that's only going to strengthen the structure of golf going forward as well in terms of scheduling and all sorts of other stuff and working together a little bit more.

"I don't think it was a coincidence that the news came out yesterday just as the PGA Tour was having their annual player meeting and Jay addressing the membership. Yeah, I think you all know my feelings on it and I'm very much against it. I don't see why anyone would be for it."

"You saw what happened last week with the European Super League. The top 12 clubs got together and said 'let's keep more of the money for ourselves', and people didn't like that. It affects competition, it affects the integrity of competition. I just can't see how it works.

"It's a complicated issue, but I just don't see at this point how it can get going. And the possibility that people, if they do go in that direction, can't play in the biggest tournaments in the game?

"The game of golf, whether it's a right thing or a wrong thing, is so about history. We still talk about Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen and Ben Hogan and all those guys because that's what this game is. It's steeped in history and the legacies that those guys have."

Rafael Nadal cruised to victory over birthday boy Carlos Alcaraz to start his Madrid Open campaign in impressive fashion.

The world number two moved into the last 16 with a 6-1 6-2 victory on Wednesday.

After being knocked out of the Monte Carlo Masters by Andrey Rublev in the last eight, Nadal bounced back to win the Barcelona Open last month and continued his momentum in this round-of-32 clash.

As wildcard Alcaraz turned 18, the spectators sang happy birthday to him but he could not mark the occasion with a famous result against his idol, with Nadal broken just once on his way to a 78-minute victory.

Five-time tournament winner Nadal converted five of his seven break points in a ruthless showing, with Real Madrid greats Iker Casillas and Raul in the crowd to watch him.

Nadal will play Alexei Popyrin, a straight-sets winner against rising star Jannik Sinner, in the next round.

Elsewhere, second seed Daniil Medvedev came from behind to defeat home hope Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-6 6-4 6-2. It was his first win in seven ATP Tour matches on clay.

"I am happy with the win," said the Russian.

"The first set wasn't easy and I thought it was going to be where I had another 25 break points and I wouldn't win. 

"I finally played quite well and did well in the third set. Madrid is a little faster than other clay tournaments, so it is better for my game."

The win means Medvedev has an 18-3 record this season and faces Chile's Cristian Garin next.

Medvedev's compatriot Aslan Karatsev beat Diego Schwartzman 2-6 6-4 6-1, having also defeated the French Open semi-finalist at the Australian Open this year.

In-form Karatsev will face Alexander Bublik next after his fourth top-10 win of the year.

Fifth seed Alexander Zverev said he was "clinical" in dispatching Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-2 in just 74 minutes, while fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will play Benoit Paire later on Wednesday.

Jamaica’s Rugby League team is set to face Greece in October just ahead of the start of the Rugby League World Cup later this year.

Barcelona are to appeal to Spain's Administrative Court of Sport (TAD) after head coach Ronald Koeman's touchline ban for Saturday's potential LaLiga title decider with Atletico Madrid was upheld.

Koeman was hit with a two-match suspension after being shown a red card for comments he supposedly made to the fourth official during his side's shock 2-1 home loss to Granada last Thursday.

The 58-year-old sat out Sunday's 3-2 win against Valencia, with assistant coach Alfred Schreuder placed in charge for the win that leaves Barca two points behind leaders Atletico ahead of this weekend's showdown.

Barcelona had hoped to have Koeman back for that massive game at Camp Nou, but it was announced on Wednesday that their appeal was not successful.

However, the Catalan giants will now take their case to TAD and have requested a temporary suspension of the ban which will allow the Dutchman to be on the touchline against Atletico.

Barca are also behind second-placed Real Madrid by virtue of an inferior head-to-head record and face Levante, Celta Vigo and Eibar after the visit of Atleti.

Jens Lehmann has been sacked by Hertha Berlin after a racist message he sent to a television pundit was revealed on social media.

The ex-Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper replaced Jurgen Klinsmann on the Bundesliga club's supervisory board in May 2020.

But Lehmann has left his position with Hertha for comments made regarding fellow former Germany international Dennis Aogo, who works for Sky Sports.

Lehmann appeared to accidentally send a WhatsApp text to Aogo, who posted a screenshot of the image via Instagram and captioned it: "Wow, are you serious? This message was probably not meant for me."

Hertha parted company with Lehmann on Wednesday and president Werner Gegenbauer said: "Such statements are in no way representative of the values that Hertha stands for. 

"We distance ourselves from all forms of racism and welcome the action taken by TENNOR Holding."

Lehmann, who also represented Schalke, Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart during his playing career, has issued an apology to Aogo.

"In a private message from my mobile phone to Dennis Aogo, an impression was created for which I apologised in conversation with Dennis," he posted on Twitter. 

"As a former national player he is very knowledgeable and has a great presence and drives ratings to Sky."

Eight of England's 11 players involved in the Indian Premier League have returned home following the indefinite suspension of the tournament.

The decision to call a halt to this year's competition was taken on Tuesday amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic in India.

After two cases were confirmed among the Kolkata Knight Riders, Monday's game against Royal Challengers Bangalore was postponed. A Sunrisers Hyderabad player then also tested positive ahead of their fixture with Mumbai Indians.

Focus is now on seeing participants leave the country safely, with fears players would need to self-isolate in India and also return a negative coronavirus test before attempting to get a flight.

However, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Sam Billings, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali and Jason Roy all boarded a flight that landed at Heathrow on Wednesday.

They will have to quarantine in government-approved hotels for the next 10 days.

The remaining three England players who were on duty - Eoin Morgan, Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan - are expected to leave India within the next 48 hours.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley has confirmed the contingent of Australian IPL players will be moved to the Maldives or Sri Lanka in the coming days.

The Australian government has blocked citizens returning home within 14 days of being in India, meaning they will first have to isolate elsewhere.

Romain Grosjean will return to the cockpit of a Formula One car for the first time since his horrific accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix when he takes part in testing for Mercedes next month.

Grosjean, 35, remarkably walked away from a shocking crash in November last year when his Haas car was split in two and caught fire after smashing through barriers on the opening lap of the race.

The Frenchman spent another 27 seconds in the vehicle after the crash and was left with severe burns to his hands, though that was the extent of his injuries.

It proved to be his final race, as he missed the final two events of the season and his departure from Haas had already been confirmed.

Since leaving, Grosjean has started competing in the IndyCar series, however he will be back momentarily in F1 for the French Grand Prix at the end of June, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff inviting Grosjean to take part in a specially arranged testing session, plus pre-race demo laps.

A Mercedes statement read: "In an emotional return to Formula One, Romain Grosjean will turn the wheel of an F1 car for the first time since his dramatic accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, when he drives Lewis Hamilton's world championship-winning W10 at the Circuit Paul Ricard next month.

"In the aftermath of his accident, Toto Wolff made a commitment to Romain that his crash would not be his final act in F1.

"True to his word, Toto invited Romain to the Mercedes F1 base in Brackley on March 30 to undergo a seat fit and spend time on the team's simulator in preparation for a specially organised test at the Frenchman's home circuit on June 29 – seven months to the day since his accident.

"He will also take part in a series of demo laps ahead of the French Grand Prix on Sunday 27 June."

Grosjean thanked Mercedes and Wolff for the opportunity to drive at his home track.

"I am so excited to jump back in an F1 car! It will be a special opportunity for me and to drive a world championship-winning Mercedes will be a unique experience," he said.

"I'm very grateful to Mercedes F1 and to Toto for the opportunity. The first I heard about the chance to drive a Mercedes was in my hospital bed in Bahrain when Toto was speaking to the media and made the invitation. Reading that news cheered me up a lot!

"F1 didn't get the chance to race in France during 2020 because of COVID so driving a Mercedes at the French Grand Prix in 2021 and then completing a test at the Circuit Paul Ricard, my home track, will be so special. I can't wait for the day to arrive."

Lewis Hamilton also paid tribute to Grosjean but could not resist a quip about letting him behind the wheel of his car.

"I'm really happy to see Romain back in an F1 car after his accident last year," the seven-time champion added. "When it happened, we were all praying for him and seeing him walk away from it and recover so well was a massive relief.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him again in France and welcoming him to the team for the weekend – although he better look after my W10!"

Stephen Curry is used to shooting the lights out, but the NBA superstar was left in the dark as to why the Golden State Warriors suffered defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

Curry made history as he reached 300 successful three-point attempts for the season in his just 58th game, a new record.

The seven-time NBA All-Star had previously achieved the feat twice in 59 outings, while he also joined Ray Allen as the only players to make 2,800 career threes during the clash with the Pelicans.

However, New Orleans finally found a way to slow down Curry's scoring in the third quarter as a lighting failure hit the Smoothie King Center.

The Warriors had a 77-71 lead at the time but the delay, albeit brief as power was quickly restored, led a reversal in the teams' fortunes, New Orleans rallying to record a 108-103 victory.

"I hadn't seen that one before. They tried to get me, saying I shot the ball before the lights went out," Curry, who had 35 points at the time of the delay but managed just two more in the remainder of the contest, told the media.

"It was a weird situation. We were flowing a little bit and I guess after that it was a rough offensive situation, but tough game all the way round."

The Pelicans scored 33 points in the final quarter to overhaul their opponents and claim a pivotal win in their push to make the play-offs.

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr felt tiredness was a factor in his team fading down the stretch, having played – and beaten – the same opponents the previous day.

"I thought we were tired," Kerr said. "I thought both teams were tired on a back-to-back, obviously. 

"I'm really proud of the guys. They battled the entire way. Clearly we were tired in the fourth. Give New Orleans credit - they made plays that they had to."

Lonzo Ball had 33 points for the Pelicans a night after missing 15 of his 18 attempts in a heavy defeat to the Warriors.

"For me, to have the type of performance I had, it's unacceptable, especially at this time of the year. And I wanted to fix it," he said.

Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer were on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, but the MLB World Series champions were still swept by the Chicago Cubs.

Dodgers ace Kershaw and reigning National League (NL) Cy Young Award winner Bauer started in games one and two respectively, however, the Cubs were 7-1 and 4-3 victors to sweep the doubleheader in Chicago.

The Cubs secured the day-night sweep in walk-off fashion as the Dodgers lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

Elsewhere, the Houston Astros were greeted by boos and bad words in their first visit to New York since the sign-stealing scandal.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer praised his star trio Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday after their 124-118 win over the star-studded Brooklyn Nets.

Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday all made key contributions in Milwaukee's second victory against Brooklyn in three days – a result which clinched an NBA playoff spot and kept the Bucks in the hunt for a position among the Eastern Conference's top two.

Two-time reigning MVP and Bucks superstar Antetokounmpo led the way with 36 points and 12 rebounds but Middleton and Holiday played important roles in the 32-24 final quarter as Milwaukee rallied from six points down to prevail.

Middleton starred in the fourth quarter both offensively, to finish with 23 points and seven rebounds for the game, and defensively to limit Kevin Durant's impact.

Holiday, who joined the Bucks from the New Orleans Pelicans in November, had 23 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists, along with a key stop at the end.

"We're still trying to catch the right rhythm and find where all three of those guys are playing," Budenholzer said post-game.

"Maybe it's a stretch of one of them. The familiarity and comfort with each other is growing. It's a good thing for us."

Budenholzer was happy to have an NBA playoff spot secured, but more delighted that his side are playing well down the stretch, having now claimed back-to-back wins over a Nets team widely regarded as title favourites.

He also had special praise for Middleton's job on Durant, who still finished with 32 points.

"I thought he was good," Budenholzer said as the Bucks eye their first championship since 1971. "You've got to just keep coming.

"Great, great scorer, so you've got to make everything hard for him. we threw a lot of bodies at Durant tonight.

"Khris being able to finish a lot of those minutes in the fourth quarter was great work by him.

"What you need in the fourth quarter, is great defense and he stepped up down the other end too.

"But the team around him, it always takes the whole group."

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 points with 12 rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 124-118 win over the Brooklyn Nets and secure their NBA playoff spot on Tuesday.

Milwaukee's victory moved the Bucks to 41-24, narrowing in on the Nets (43-23), who are second behind the Philadelphia 76ers (44-21) in the Eastern Conference, with the postseason fast approaching.

The triumph was also a tie-breaker win for the Bucks, who also beat the star-studded Nets 117-114 on Sunday too, in a boost in the race for seedings.

Two-time reigning MVP Antetokounmpo was crucial but Khris Middleton came up big in the final quarter, finishing with 23 points and Jrue Holiday (23 points and 10 assists) made a key stop late in the contest.

Nets star Kyrie Irving had a game-high 38 points, while Kevin Durant added 32 along with nine rebounds and six assists.

 

Clippers finish fast, Suns rise in overtime

The Los Angeles Clippers stormed home after a sluggish start to secure a 105-100 overtime win against the Toronto Raptors. Paul George finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

The high-flying Phoenix Suns produced a 20-4 overtime run to outlast the Cleveland Cavaliers 134-118, helping them return to the top spot in the Western Conference. Devin Booker (31 points), Chris Paul (23 points and 16 assists) and Mikal Bridges (22 points) led the Suns in Cleveland.

Lonzo Ball equalled his career high with 33 points, including a crucial late jumper to keep the New Orleans Pelicans and their postseason hopes alive via a 108-103 win over the Golden State Warriors.

Hamidou Diallo had 35 points but the Detroit Pistons still lost 102-99 to the Charlotte Hornets, who were led by rookie LaMelo Ball and his 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Stephen Curry scored 37 points, including eight from beyond the arc to create history, joining Ray Allen as the only players in NBA history to make 2,800 career three-pointers. The two-time MVP also became the fastest player to reach 300 three-pointers in one season, needing only 58 games.

 

Landry's radar off

Nets shooting guard Landry Shamet normally makes an impact off the bench with his three-point shooting but he struggled against the Bucks. Shamet made one-of-six beyond the arc and one-of-eight overall in his 23 minutes on court, finishing with only three points.

 

Hardaway finds his range

Tim Hardaway Jr. was feeling it in the Dallas Mavericks' 127-113 win over the Chicago Bulls, shooting down an incredible 10 three-pointers in his 36-point display. Luka Doncic contributed 23 points and 12 rebounds in a double-double performance to help the Mavs move back above defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers into fifth in the west.

 

Tuesday's results

Charlotte Hornets 102-99 Detroit Pistons
Phoenix Suns 134-118 Cleveland Cavaliers (OT)
Milwaukee Bucks 124-118 Brooklyn Nets 
New Orleans Pelicans 108-103 Golden State Warriors
Dallas Mavericks 127-113 Miami Heat 
Sacramento Kings 103-99 Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Clippers 105-100 Toronto Raptors

 

Knicks at Nuggets

The in-form New York Knicks (37-28) make the trip to face Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets (43-22) with both sides jostling for playoffs seedings.

Kevin Durant acknowledged a lack of continuity within the Brooklyn Nets after they suffered consecutive defeats to Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks.

The Nets lost to the Bucks for the second time in three days after tasting a 124-118 defeat in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Two-time reigning NBA MVP Antetokounmpo fuelled the win with 36 points as the Bucks clinched a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

Durant put up 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the slumping Nets.

Despite boasting three superstars in Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the Nets were once again without the latter due to a hamstring injury. Brooklyn's trio have only played seven games together since Harden's blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets in January.

"That is a huge factor. Continuity is a big thing in this league," former MVP Durant said post-game when asked about Brooklyn not having the Bucks' history together and continuity.

"We got veterans on this team that played in different situations that know pretty much every terminology that goes on in this league and every kind of set that we run on both sides.

"That's in our advantage as well, having that veteran leadership but we still are a connected group. I feel like we've been together for years, too, so we gotta continue to keep building on that."

The Nets have lost three straight games to slip one-and-a-half games behind Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia 76ers ahead of the postseason.

Brooklyn – eyeing their maiden championship – have not progressed beyond the Conference semi-finals since reaching the 2003 NBA Finals, though they have suffered back-to-back first-round exits in 2019 and 2020.

The Bucks, meanwhile, made it through to the 2018-19 Conference Finals before falling to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors, while they went down to the Miami Heat in last season's Conference semi-finals.

"I think it's a great experience for us to recognise where we are. We've got a gap to make up here," Nets head coach Steve Nash said about the two games against the Bucks.

"We understand that's a team that's been running the same offense, been playing together, same schemes on defense for years now.

"Gone deep into the playoffs, and that's something that we don't have, so how can we make up that gap. That's kind of our life in a nutshell heading home here. We're trying to get everyone back to full health and we're gonna try to overcome a lack of common experiences.

"That is our challenge as much as anything. While we do that, can we be more physical, can we be more connected, can we handle and control some of the controllables that can help us hang in some of these games and win some of these games while we’re trying to put the pieces together."

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