"I remember some fans saying, 'we don't care if we come last in the Bundesliga, as long as we beat Schalke.'"

The Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke is one of the fiercest rivalries in football – black-and-yellow and royal blue separating the cities of Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr region.

Wild fans, flares, tifos, goals, bragging rights (Schalke edge Dortmund 60-52 for all-time wins) and more – this famous derby has it all. So, it is fitting that the Revierderby will bring the Bundesliga back to life on Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Second-placed Dortmund will welcome bitter rivals and sixth-placed Schalke to Signal Iduna Park behind closed doors in the league's first game since the 2019-20 season was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis.

"That is the game for Dortmund and Schalke fans. That's bigger than Dortmund and Bayern, that's bigger than anything," former Dortmund goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, who won two Bundesliga titles under Jurgen Klopp during his five years at the club, told Stats Perform.

"I remember some fans saying, 'we don't care if we come last in the Bundesliga, as long as we beat Schalke.' That's the biggest thing.

"You see the build-up, you hear stories about what's happened in the years gone past. That is a massive, massive fixture to kick things off.

"It will probably have the highest viewing on TV of all-time because you have 80,000 people who would normally cram into the stadium, they can't go. It's going to be a massive game and I can't wait."

The Revierderby will take centre stage domestically and abroad, as it so often does. Schalke and Dortmund played out a goalless draw in October, but the iconic match carries extra weight this time around following the coronavirus outbreak.

While Ligue 1 and Eredivisie have decided to cancel their seasons, the Bundesliga is returning as the Premier League, Serie A and LaLiga try to restart.

But the 156th Revierderby will stand alone compared to previous instalments, with no fans permitted inside Westfalenstadion this weekend.

"The players on both sides are well aware of what that game means to everybody," Australia international Langerak, who now plays for J1League side Nagoya Grampus, said. "It's not just another game in Germany. The players will understand but without fans, it will be a completely different feeling.

"You wouldn't say there would be less fire within the game, it might be a little bit more tactical or players might be a little calmer in certain situations.

"For example, if someone is chasing the game with 10 minutes to go and the fans are getting their tails up, that is when anything can happen. That is going to be missing, however, the players will understand these are crazy times and will adapt as best they can."

Langerak experienced his fair share of Revierderby clashes after he was plucked from Australian club Melbourne Victory in 2010 and thrust into Dortmund's first team.

The 31-year-old was involved in 11 showdowns against Schalke before leaving Dortmund in 2015 – Shinji Kagawa's brace in a 3-1 victory away to Die Konigsblauen in 2010 a standout moment.

"I wasn't lucky enough to play in one of those games but the first one was in Schalke and I think Kagawa scored two goals," Langerak – a DFB-Pokal and two-time DFL-Supercup winner with Dortmund to go with his 2012-13 Champions League runner-up medal – added. "Huge game. I remember we came back on the bus from Schalke to Dortmund. By the time we got back to Dortmund, the training ground where we get into our cars, there were that many fans – there was flares, it was the biggest party.

"We were obviously stuck on the bus for 30 minutes or something while the fans were celebrating for us. Then you get off the bus and you couldn't just get in your car and drive because they were blocking our cars in. They were just dancing around our cars, there were flares and singing. In this moment, everyone who is associated with Dortmund is a hero for the next week."

For there to be a 2020 Major League Baseball season, there are still many hurdles to clear – mainly, ensuring players' safety. But if local and state governments approve of games being played, and the owners and players can come to an agreement on safety – as well as money – some form of a baseball season seems likely. 

Monday's plan conceived by team owners would have clubs starting out playing in their home cities without fans, nearly all their games being played against division opponents and instituting the designated hitter all season by both leagues. 

The DH was adopted by the American League in 1973 and has been used ever since. The National League has stayed true to its roots, still allowing the pitcher to bat for himself except for in interleague and World Series games in AL parks. 

Those in favour of the DH contend the position adds additional offense and excitement by eliminating the pitcher batting. Some baseball purists, meanwhile, argue the DH takes away some of the strategy involved in the game. 

The DH is a unique position in baseball. Some established hitters struggle to adapt to the job, which involves a lot of sitting around over the course of a three-hour-long game broken up by their four or five at-bats. Others, though, excel with the specialised role. 

A number of NL hitters have had some experience DHing through interleague play, and here is a look at some that could benefit from filling that role more regularly. 

 

Yoenis Cespedes, LF, New York Mets 

Cespedes was already looking at starting the season on the injured list and possibly platooning some in the outfield after missing all of 2019 following surgery on both heels. 

With the 2020 season now starting in July, at the earliest, Cespedes will likely be penciled in as the Mets' everyday DH – and with good reason. Since being acquired by New York in 2015, he has slashed .379/.419/.759 for a 1.178 OPS while serving as the Mets DH, homering three times in 29 at-bats. 

Questions were already being raised about his ability to play defense, but those questions are no longer relevant if the Mets can just keep his bat in the lineup as a DH.  

Kyle Schwarber, LF, Chicago Cubs 

Schwarber has long been seen as a player whose game is best suited for the AL – a slugger with the bat and somewhat of a defensive liability in the field.

Not only does he look the part, his batting line as a DH backs it up. In 117 plate appearances as a DH – including the 2016 World Series – Schwarber has a .320/.393/.650 slash line for a 1.044 OPS with nine home runs. In 415 career games in the outfield, he is slashing .232/.338/.481 for an .819 OPS. He is homering once every 11.44 at-bats as a DH, compared to once every 15.11 at-bats as an outfielder. 

The Cubs also have a crowded outfield with Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr. in the mix, and shifting Schwarber to DH would be a natural fit. A Cubs scout once compared Schwarber to Babe Ruth, and the evaluation is a bit more apt when looking at Schwarber's numbers as a DH. 

Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants 

Posey has put together a Hall of Fame resume in his 11-year major league career, winning three World Series championships, an MVP award, a batting title and earning six trips to the All-Star Game. A majority of those accomplishments came in the first half of his career, however, as the tolls of catching have caught up with the 33-year-old.

The DH has helped a number of superstars extend their career, and Posey could fill that role admirably. Since 2015, Posey has 87 plate appearances as a DH, producing a .329/.402/.487 slash line for an .889 OPS. Over that same stretch in games when he is squatting behind the plate, he has slashed .293/.365/.420 for a .785 OPS. 

Having Posey DH regularly seems like a no-brainer – he’s more dangerous as a hitter in that role and he’ll avoid the wear and tear that comes with catching. 

Carlos Sainz will join Ferrari in 2021, the latest step up for a man who progressed from the Red Bull Junior Team.

The 25-year-old Spaniard has moved from Toro Rosso to Renault to McLaren, and next year he will call Charles Leclerc a team-mate at Ferrari.

He will succeed Sebastian Vettel, who, like Sainz, honed his craft on Red Bull's young driver programme.

But how have the academies of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes fared? We take a look.

 

RED BULL

Formed 19 years ago, Red Bull Junior Team has been a huge success, unearthing Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Sainz.

Vettel, who joined the set-up in 1998, is a four-time world champion, winning all of those titles from 2010 to 2013 as a Red Bull driver.

His team-mate in 2014 was Ricciardo, who won seven races with Red Bull, and will replace Sainz at McLaren in 2021.

Verstappen is Red Bull's present, and potentially a future champion, having finished third in last year's championship.

As well as Sainz, current F1 drivers Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly all graduated from the Red Bull Junior Team.

 

FERRARI

Ferrari were slower on the uptake but they will hope to be rivalling Red Bull's success in the years to come.

Leclerc, now 22, only made his F1 debut in 2018 but after finishing fourth in his first season with Ferrari, the man who won back-to-back races in Belgium and Italy last year will have title aspirations moving forward.

Sergio Perez was one of the first Ferrari Driver Academy graduates to feature regularly in F1, and he has appeared on the podium eight times in his career, while Lance Stroll became the second-youngest driver to secure a top-three finish at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

There are several recognisable names currently on the scheme, including Schumacher, Fittipaldi, Alesi and Leclerc.

Michael's son, Mick Schumacher, is already a race-winner in Formula Two, while there is plenty to live up to for Emerson Fittipaldi's grandson Enzo, Jean Alesi's son Giuliano and Charles' brother Arthur Leclerc.

 

MERCEDES

Undoubtedly the biggest success at F1 level after six successive constructors' championships, the junior set-up is yet to produce similar results.

Former Formula Three champion Ocon showed plenty of promise with Force India early on, but he was dropped by Racing Point for 2019 and eventually signed for Renault ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Pascal Wehrlein failed to make the grade at F1, not helped by a 2017 crash at the Race of Champions, and he now drives in Formula E.

The great hope for Mercedes is Williams' George Russell, the 2018 F2 champion, though his highest F1 finish was 11th in his debut season with Williams.

Ferrari will pair Charles Leclerc with Carlos Sainz in 2021 as the Italian team looks to get back to Formula One's summit.

It was confirmed on Thursday that Sainz would fill the void left by Sebastian Vettel's departure at the end of the 2020 season.

Ferrari revealed the 25-year-old Spaniard and Leclerc, 22, would form their youngest driving pairing in 50 years.

Following the announcement of his impending move, take a look at Sainz's career so far.

 

2014 - A 3.5 SERIES CHAMPION

The son of Carlos Sainz - a double World Rally Championship title-winner - Sainz Junior was perhaps always destined for a life on the track.

In 2009 he won the prestigious Junior Monaco Kart Cup, a race whose previous winners include Vettel, Leclerc and Robert Kubica. 

Sainz later raced in British and European championships and made his mark at the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series, winning seven races with DAMS to take the title and draw interest from F1 teams...

2015 - TOP TEN ON F1 DEBUT

A month after winning the 3.5 Series, it was confirmed Sainz would be making the step up to F1 with Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso.

Sainz, who was part of Red Bull's young driver programme, finished ninth on debut at the Australian Grand Prix and went one better in Malaysia.

He finished the season with seven top-10 finishes and 18 points to come 15th in the final standings.

2017 - RACING FOR RENAULT

Sainz collected 46 points in 2016 and ended up 12th in the championship standings. He particularly impressed in the wet weather in Brazil, where he came home sixth having started 15th on the grid.

He improved again in 2017, finishing inside the top 10 in six of the opening eight races, form which led to him accepting a move to Renault for 2018.

That was brought forward for the final four races of the 2017 season, though, after Jolyon Palmer left Renault, and Sainz concluded the season with 54 points to finish ninth in the drivers' standings.

2019 - MAKING THE MOVE TO MCLAREN

Sainz had just one full campaign with Renault - his fifth-place finish in Azerbaijan his best return - and switched to McLaren for 2019, replacing compatriot Fernando Alonso.

He had a far from ideal start with his new team, retiring in Australia and then crashing in Bahrain and China, before he began to consistently finish among the points.

And Sainz showed his comfort in the McLaren around the Red Bull Ring, making his way through the field to finish eighth at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix having started from the back of the grid.

2019 - FIRST PODIUM IN BRAZIL, SIXTH IN THE STANDINGS

A spot in the top three had proved elusive for Sainz in his F1 career - and that did not look like changing when he lined up at the back of the pack for the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.

However, an incredible race saw Sainz cross the line fourth, but a promotion into the top three was forthcoming when Lewis Hamilton was handed a post-race penalty.

It was McLaren's first podium in 2,072 days - a barren run for the team stretching back to the Australian GP in 2014 - as a one-stop strategy at Interlagos paid off.

By the time Anna Kournikova played her final tour match, vultures were already picking at the bones of a once-feted great tennis talent.

Many were leching over those same bones, of course, while glorying in her downfall. Picking out the young Russian as prime schadenfreude fodder while sleazily sparing as much thought for her physical form as her tennis form.

When the veteran Daily Progress sports writer Jerry Ratcliffe reminisced about the day in 2003 that saw Kournikova come to Charlottesville, Virginia, he remarked: "We were there to see Anna's curves, not her serves."

Sometimes, all you're looking for from a newspaper is honesty, a little truth-telling, putting the story in simple terms, cutting to the chase.

And you know where you stand when a newspaper lets that sentence through the edit.

Given it was on his beat, Ratcliffe had been at courtside for the $25k Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic, a tournament so minor that the presence of Kournikova, trying to find some form, was wildly incongruous.

She was ranked 72nd in the world, and just days earlier had pulled out of a semi-final at a similarly low-profile tournament in Sea Island, Georgia, due to injury. Kournikova's opponent that day would have been the 16-year-old little-known Maria Sharapova.

By the time Kournikova's career reached Charlottesville, she was already bordering on desperation, physical pulls, niggles and herniated discs having taken a heavy toll, her confidence inevitably ebbing away. Once a top-10 player, she was in danger of tumbling outside the top 100.  A turning point was what she sought, that elusive first singles title.

And so on May 14, 2003 – 17 years ago – Kournikova played what she hoped would be her first of five matches that week.

It turned out to be the very last match she would play on tour, the Russian beaten in three sets by Brazilian Bruna Colosio, a player who sat 384th in the world rankings.

The girl who had bowled over coaching titan Nick Bollettieri with her enthusiasm when springing into his academy barely a decade earlier was finished. She went down not firing but, according to reports from that day, buried by an avalanche of double faults.

Weeks later, in early June, Kournikova was seen in tears in England, pulling out of the grass-court season without playing a match.

The show was over, the series cancelled. Kournikova had just turned 22.

"THE FAME WAS CREATED BY YOU GUYS"

Here's a noteworthy Kournikova quote, snipped from a 2010 Wimbledon news conference I attended.

It came after a hit-and-giggle exhibition doubles match she played alongside Martina Hingis, at a time when both Kournikova and Hingis, once the self-styled 'Spice Girls' of tennis, were enjoying retirement.

"You know, the fame and everything, I guess most of it was created by you guys, by the media a lot of times, most of the time the yellow press," Kournikova said that evening.

"[I] never tried to pay attention. I mean, obviously it was a little hard times dealing with it being 16, 17 years old, reading some kind of c**p about yourself, you know. Most of it was made up.”

The trials and tribulations of Anna Kournikova. The sob story writes itself and has been written again and again. Look, she still blames the media. What about those results, Anna? What about your c**ppy results? Nobody made those up.

Of course you could pick apart Kournikova's career and float the idea it was a washout because she could not fulfil the potential apparent when she reached the 1997 Wimbledon semi-finals, losing to eventual champion and fellow 16-year-old Hingis.

But it would seem beyond churlish, a witless, hardly original reckoning.

Kournikova, the biggest earner in tennis who made millions in endorsements but couldn't for love nor money lay her hands on a singles crown. Kournikova, the pin-up whose tennis was ancillary to her money-spinning modelling career. Kournikova, the easiest target since the last target was taken down.

It's all been said, and said too often by those who "were there to see Anna’s curves, not her serves". By those who knew where she stood in FHM's top 100 sexiest women, if not the world rankings.

"TELL US ABOUT YOUR DIVORCE"

Taken in isolation, any archive transcript of an interview or news conference will speak of a time and a place.

But when the transcripts stack up, that's when patterns you might have missed at the time begin to emerge.

That's when you notice what a difference six and a half years can make.

Of the 61 news conferences transcribed and made available by sports event stenographers ASAP Sports, from the start of Kournikova's career to its 2003 denouement, it is the questions that bookend those that illustrate what a whirring, bewildering rush those years must have been.

In the first of those news conferences, at the 1996 US Open, the first question for Kournikova was a gentle "Why did you win today?", and the focus remained on her tennis.

By the time those transcripts stopped coming, the last being one from the NASDAQ-100 Open in March 2003, Kournikova departed after being asked, "The story about the divorce, was that any kind of distraction for you at all, preparing for this tournament?"

She and ice hockey player Sergei Fedorov had indeed split, but Kournikova was exasperated by this point.

It is easy for a non-journalist to conflate the news and sport media, and reporters from the front and back of newspapers can be disdainful of each other's lines of questioning. Kournikova became distrustful, and as her losses had piled up and the criticism followed suit, so she became increasingly resentful.

AFTER TENNIS, THE QUIET LIFE

She was asked in that same NASDAQ-100 news conference about her continuing losses, about the criticism she faced, and whether it hurt.

"I can't change what other people think and all I can do is go and play," she said. "That's what I should really be focusing on, is just doing my thing, practising and playing and then if I do well, there will be less criticism.

"There will be criticism of something else. But at the end of the day, I can't really do anything with it. There's going to be one thing or another, so it's your job, guys, right?"

Whatever she did, Kournikova believed there would be criticism.

Which perhaps explains to a large part her current life, retired and living privately in Miami, with long-time partner Enrique Iglesias, the Spanish pop singer.

Such is the couple's secrecy, it is not known whether they are married. They have three children together, including twins that were born in December 2017, without the world having had a clue Kournikova was pregnant.

Tabloid whispers that Kournikova might have been expecting again only emerged days before she gave birth to their third child in January of this year. She keeps that low a profile, and why not?

She and Iglesias remain gossip-mag favourites but rarely give interviews.

She chooses when to accept modelling gigs, skipping strictly to her own beat.

"I WAS BEING PULLED IN EVERY SINGLE DIRECTION"

Kournikova got plenty off her chest in that 2010 Wimbledon news conference, barely letting Hingis interject.

She spoke of how mother Alla tried to protect her during her mid-teens but ran into opposition, discovering "people didn't really like her that much for that". Kournikova promised she would "try to guard them as much as I can" if she had a 16-year-old of her own.

"It's hard," Kournikova said. "I was being pulled in every single direction. Really there was no guides or rules.

"My mum and me, we were just learning everything as we were going through it. I was here 15 years old, Wimbledon. I played a Centre Court match. I wasn't even seeded or anything.

"It's a lot for a kid."

A kid. A kid who'd routinely face questioning from men – usually the reporters were men – on topics they'd balk at broaching with their own teenage daughters.

A kid who reached that fricking Wimbledon semi-final at 16, got to number eight in the world, beat Hingis, Graf, Davenport and Capriati, won two grand slam doubles title and banked over $3.5million from playing – and way more from sponsorship deals that were accelerated by her looks but hinged absolutely on her being an elite sports star in the first place.

A kid who couldn't help but weep when she knew the tennis dreams of her childhood were over.

A kid whose name became synonymous with failure, when it was a broken body rather than broken resolve that ended her career and our broken moral compass that directed the vultures to their prey.

In the history of Blackburn Rovers, May 14 is a momentous sporting date.

Twenty-five years ago today, Blackburn sealed the Premier League title on a dramatic afternoon at Anfield.

This date also represents the 14-year anniversary of a famous day in the history of Spanish motorsport, achieved by Formula One great Fernando Alonso.

Here we look back at some of the top moments to occur on May 14 in the world of sport.

 

1995 - Blackburn secure dramatic Premier League title

Blackburn were crowned Premier League champions at Anfield in the most dramatic of circumstances in 1995.

Rovers came into the final day of the season leading title rivals Manchester United, who were playing at West Ham, by two points.

When Alan Shearer scored his 34th league goal of a remarkable season, everything appeared to be going to plan.

However, Liverpool goals from John Barnes and a last-gasp winner from Jamie Redknapp had Rovers fearing their chance of a first English top-flight championship since 1914 had passed them by.

United were piling on the pressure in their match but were unable to snatch a late winner against West Ham that would have seen them win the title, as they were held to a 1-1 draw.

Following the full-time whistle, it took several nervous moments before Blackburn boss Kenny Dalglish and his players got confirmation that the title was theirs, prompting ecstatic scenes.

Given Dalglish's history with Liverpool and the fact their rivals United had been denied, home fans were pretty happy with the outcome as well.

Rovers finished a disappointing seventh when defending their title, after which the departure of the magnificent Shearer to Newcastle United ended their hopes of competing again.

Shearer went on to become the Premier League's record goalscorer but this league title remained the only one he won in his career.

 

2006 - Alonso makes Spanish Grand Prix history

Cheered on by King Juan Carlos and a 130,000-strong crowd at Circuit de Catalunya, Alonso became the first home driver to win the Spanish Grand Prix in 2006.

The Renault star, who would go to win his second Formula One world title that year, qualified in pole position, with team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella joining him on the front row.

Alonso had been forced to settle for second in the previous year's race, but he was not to be denied this time around, building a strong lead and ultimately cruising home ahead of title rival Michael Schumacher.

It was a key moment in the championship battle, given Schumacher had won the previous two grands prix.

"To finish first in front of my people, my supporters, I think was my best feeling so far in a Formula One car," said Alonso, who was then 24.

"The Brazilian Grand Prix where I won the championship [in 2005] - I didn't enjoy it as much as I did here."

Alonso went on to claim one further win at his home race, triumphing in 2013 with Ferrari, as well as winning the 2012 European Grand Prix on home soil in Valencia.

 

2011 - Man City claim FA Cup glory

Manchester City have won 11 major trophies since they were taken over by their Abu Dhabi owners in 2008.

Their four Premier League crowns in that time are the biggest of those, but City fans will fondly remember the first – their 2011 FA Cup crown.

Yaya Toure scored the winner with a powerful strike 16 minutes from time to give City a 1-0 victory over Stoke City at Wembley, with Mario Balotelli named man of the match.

It was the team's first trophy in 35 years, their last having come in the EFL Cup way back in 1976.

This success under Roberto Mancini set them up to win their first Premier League title the following season.

Could John McEnroe beat Serena Williams, if they played tomorrow?

It's an equivalent question that was asked in 1973, when Bobby Riggs went head to head with Margaret Court.

And just as a global television audience would be sure to tune in for any McEnroe-Williams clash, so the Battle of the Sexes that took place 47 years ago this week captured the world's imagination.

On May 13, 1973 – 47 years ago this week – it came down to the crapshoot of predicting whether 55-year-old Riggs, the long-retired 1939 Wimbledon champion and twice US Open winner, could match up to 30-year-old Court, by then already a 22-time grand slam winner.

It became known as the Mother's Day Massacre.

Who was Bobby Riggs, and what did he have to gain?

Riggs was a 55-year-old American who in his day had rivalled the likes of Jack Kramer and Fred Perry. Known otherwise for his gambling and hustling, the flamboyant Riggs was presumed long finished as a serious tennis player before he challenged Billie Jean King, who refused to play him, and then Court to a winner-takes-all match.

Australian Court accepted, prompting King to say, according to a Sports Illustrated report at the time: "If Margaret loses, we're in trouble. I'll have to challenge him myself."

Both players are said to have pocketed healthy appearance fees, with $10,000 at stake in the contest itself.

Where did Court vs Riggs happen?

California's San Vicente Valley staged the showdown, a gloriously off-the-beaten-track spot for a Sunday afternoon's tennis.

The drama unfolded on a green hard court, surrounded by four temporary stands housing 3,000 spectators paying $10 a head, including stars of the day, with the American football star OJ Simpson and the actor Bill Cosby among those drawn to the desert.

"I kinda think that if you're competing seriously all the time, Margaret Court will have an edge," Simpson told a US TV crew.

How did Riggs approach his greatest hustle?

Determinedly boorish, Riggs, who wore black thick-rimmed glasses, was focused on ensuring this match was about the hustle as much as the tennis.

His objective was to knock Court out of her stride before they began, and contemporary reports speculated that inveterate gambler Riggs had rather more riding on the outcome than the relatively modest prize money.

He played up his image as an enemy to womankind, and many Americans were revolted, with Riggs crowing: "I am the greatest money player in history."

There was the date, Mother's Day, that brought added intrigue. A day to celebrate mothers, and womankind, was in danger of being hijacked. Court was a new mother herself.

Crucially, Riggs had trained hard, knocking several vices on the head, or at least limiting them, and achieving prim shape, certainly for a man in his mid-fifties.

Court dressed for the occasion, in a patriotic yellow and green pastel kit, 'Margaret' stitched onto the collar. The New York Times reported it was the first time she had not worn white.

She had plenty of support, too. 'Women's libbers', as they were popularly known at the time, were out in force to back Court.

But Riggs was not to be outdone, and the showman walked down onto the court from a stairway in the stands decked out in a tracksuit as blue as the sky, carrying a bouquet of roses, that he presented nonchalantly to Court, who instinctively curtsied.

First blood, Riggs.

What a Bobby dazzler!

A match that the bookmakers could not call was to prove utterly one-sided, indeed hugely anti-climactic.

Once the drama of the build-up was done, Riggs pegged back serve-volleyer Court and tore to a 6-2 6-1 victory.

Hardly what the CBS television audience, and those watching back in Australia, had expected.

Court's performance was unusually listless, and she said afterwards the gentle nature of Riggs' game, which he had mixed up to compelling effect, had caught her out.

As an excuse, it was bunk really. Riggs the show pony had completely outfoxed her, steering her to distraction.

"My concentration was bad today," Court told reporters, "and I've been concentrating really well in the last six months or so. I saw everything going on around the court today which was very unusual for me."

Riggs rejoices, and "proves a point"

Court had stressed before the match she was not interested in the 'Battle of the Sexes' element of the contest and was not carrying any banner, but Riggs was all over that aspect.

"I think it proves a point," he said afterwards.

"Fifty-five-year-old, one foot in the grave, night and day difference. And she's the best woman player of all time.

"Sixty million people watching. Biggest match of all time. Battle of the Sexes. And we've all had plenty of time to get ready for it. And you saw what happened, I don't have to explain it to you.

"I think it was the tension, the pressure, the biggest match ever played. The 60 million audience on television. All the press, the way the thing has been built up over the last six months 

"She arrived here with the whole pressure of the women's world on her."

King and I

After seeing off Court, Riggs could name his price for a follow-up match, providing he could find a worthy opponent.

In stepped King, just as she promised, and both reportedly landed $75,000 just for taking part in a September 1973 clash, with a further $100,000 for the winner.

Hosted at the Houston Astrodome, King sauntered to a 6-4 6-3 6-3 victory to land the cash, strike a crucial blow for women in sport, and surely give Court more than a little pause for thought.

Two years ago, Arsene Wenger saluted and bowed to the Arsenal fans as his incredible 22-year reign as manager came to a close with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield Town.

The travelling supporters showed their admiration for Wenger's achievements, which encompassed three Premier League titles – including an unbeaten 2003-04 campaign – and seven FA Cups, with a standing ovation in the 22nd minute.

However, while there was respect for what he delivered to the Gunners, there was at the same time hope for a future without him. The Frenchman drew heavy criticism in the final years of his tenure as Arsenal stagnated, finishing what was, by his standards, a lowly sixth in 2017-18.

There has been little sign of those hopes being realised since his departure, and Arsenal were ninth in the table when the Premier League was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So has anything improved from Wenger's final season? We used Opta data to compare Arsenal's fortunes from 2017-18 to their performances following Wenger's exit.

DEFENCE

A common theme of the later years of Wenger's reign was criticism of his failure to fix Arsenal's much-maligned defence.

Between a perceived lack of bite in midfield and paucity of leadership in defence, too often Wenger's Gunners sides were undone by failings in their rearguard.

In his final season in charge, Arsenal conceded 51 goals at an average of 1.3 per game. However, their expected goals against – a metric that assesses the chance of shots against them becoming goals – was 48.1.

That indicates their opponents excelled at converting chances where the probability of scoring was low.

The goals-per-game ratio against has stayed the same under Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta, with Arsenal conceding at an average of 1.3. Yet their expected goals against from the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns tells the tale of a defence that has gradually declined.

Indeed, Arsenal's net was again breached 51 times last season, but they had an expected goals against of 54.45. In the postponed 2019-20 campaign, Arsenal have conceded 36 goals, but have an expected goals against of 40.61.

This suggests that, while Arsenal have given away goals at the same rate in each of the past three seasons, their defence since Wenger left has done an inferior job of preventing clear-cut chances for opponents.

ATTACK

Arsenal's final season under Wenger saw them score 74 goals – tied for third most in the division – at a rate of 1.9 per game. Their expected goals was 69.33 or 1.8xG per game.

The Gunners scored at the same rate in their sole full season under Emery, but with an xG of 60.62 (1.6 per game), indicating Arsenal did an even better job of converting more difficult goalscoring opportunities.

As Arsenal have slumped towards mid-table in 2019-20, both their goals per game and xG have tailed off significantly. They have scored 40 goals at a rate of 1.4 per game and their xG is 36.35 (1.3 per game).

In other words, this season has seen Arsenal struggle to create as many clear-cut chances and they are converting them at only marginally above the expected rate.

STYLE

At both ends of the pitch, Arsenal are no better off than they were under Wenger. If anything, the data shows a team that has been made actively worse by the departure of arguably the club's greatest manager.

But has the style of play changed since Wenger said his farewell?

Arsenal were regularly derided for trying to "walk the ball into the net" during Wenger's tenure. In 2017-18, they averaged 4.3 build-up attacks – sequences of 10 or more passes that end in a shot or a touch in the box – per game. The 2018-19 season saw them average 3.4 and in 2019-20 Arsenal have produced 2.6 build-up attacks per game.

While that decline suggests Arsenal are no longer trying to pass the opposition into submission, there is little evidence they have become more direct.

The Gunners attempted direct attacks per game in 2017-18, with that average dipping to 1.8 last season before rebounding to 2.2 this term. The difference is negligible, and the disparity in shots per game – 15.6 in 2017-18, 12.3 in 2018-19 and 11.1 in 2019-20 – suggests Wenger's Arsenal were superior at finding a route to goal.

If there has been a definitive change in style, it has been in getting the ball to wide areas. Arsenal delivered 9.3 open play crosses per game in Wenger's last season but ramped that up to 11.8 last term and 13.9 this season.

The data for 2019-20 season comes with the caveat of being split between Emery and Arteta, who took over on December 20 and had engineered an upturn in fortunes. Arsenal were unbeaten in their last eight league matches when the coronavirus pandemic led a suspension of fixtures.

Arteta's work in implementing his style is on hold for the time being but, having learned under Wenger and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, it will be intriguing to see whether his long-term vision is based on their possession-dominant philosophies.

Arsenal have at best gone sideways in the post-Wenger era. The early signs have been promising for Arteta but the same old problems that brought about the end for Emery's illustrious predecessor remain and appear to have been exacerbated. Arteta will have to finally find a way to fix them if he is to fill the massive void left by Wenger.

Gabriel Jesus' goal deep into stoppage time at Southampton gave Manchester City a 1-0 win on the final day two years ago and brought up another landmark in the Premier League champions' stunning 2017-18 season.

Pep Guardiola leapt on to the St Mary's turf jubilantly to join the celebrations, in the knowledge his team had become the first in English top-flight history to reach 100 points in a single campaign.

City made a habit of breaking new statistical ground while turning what had promised to be a captivating title race into a procession – although a similarly dominant performance from Liverpool this time around means some of those best marks will be under threat as and when the Premier League resumes.

Here, we have a look at some of the most astonishing numbers from what proved to be the first of back-to-back title triumphs.

100 – City passed Chelsea's previous Premier League best of 95 points by beating Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 in their penultimate match. Adjusting Liverpool's efforts in the 1978-79 season to three points for a win, the overall record stood at 98 - a number City matched in 2018-19 when pipping Jurgen Klopp's Reds to retain the title by a point.

100 – Despite winning six previous league titles across spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola reached 100 points in a season for the first time in his career - surpassing 99 with Barca in 2009-10.

32 – No English team has won more games in a top-flight season than City in 2017-18. Their 16 away wins also represented a competition best. Liverpool's tilt at the latter mark might be ruled out by any Premier League restart at neutral venues this term, although six wins from their remaining nine games would take them to 33 victories.

18 – Beginning with a 2-1 win at Bournemouth on August 26, 2017, and concluded by a 1-0 triumph at Newcastle on December 27, 2017, City set a Premier League best of 18 consecutive victories. Liverpool matched this streak before losing 3-0 at Watford in February.

106 – Jesus' goal concluded the most prolific team season in Premier League history. Tottenham's 1962-63 Division One winners scored 111 times.

– City won the Premier League with five games to spare, equalling the efforts of Manchester United (1907-08 and 2000-01) and Everton (1984-85). This is a record Klopp's men were on course to surpass when this season's action paused.

1 – Guardiola was the first Spanish manager to win the Premier League.

19 – The gap between first and second in the final standings has never been bigger than the 19-point gap between City and Jose Mourinho's United. At present, City trail Liverpool by 25 points with a game in hand.

79 -  No Premier League side has ever had a larger positive goal difference.

A little over two minutes before the moment that will forever define his career, Manchester City hero Sergio Aguero showed sharpness in the Queens Park Rangers goalmouth that would not have been out of place at Old Trafford.

Old Trafford cricket ground that is, just down the road from City's bitter rivals and their home of the same name.

As Edin Dzeko's equaliser from David Silva's right-wing corner bounced back off the netting, Aguero pounced, snaffling it like a quicksilver short-leg fielder and darting back to the centre circle for City's final tilt at the improbable.

There was certainly nothing wrong with the striker's movement after Joey Barton brazenly tried to dead leg him – one of many surreal and key incidents that fed into a frenzied and famous race against the clock on May 13, 2012.

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The whole story is now as well worn as any in football history.

On the cusp of a first top-flight title for 44 years, Robert Mancini's Manchester City faced relegation-threatened QPR on the final day of the season. In their previous 18 Premier League home matches that season, they had won 17 and drawn the other – the most recent of those a 1-0 win over United that tipped a titanic Mancunian tussle back towards the blue side of town.

City simply needed to match United's result at Sunderland and led 1-0 at the interval thanks to Pablo Zabaleta, only for second-half goals from Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie to turn the contest on its head.

It remained 2-1 heading into stoppage time despite QPR operating with 10 men. City youth product Barton was dismissed for tussling with Carlos Tevez and responded to Mike Dean's red card by thumping his knee into Aguero's thigh before aiming a headbutt at Vincent Kompany. Fireworks enthusiast Mario Balotelli poured some petrol on this particular bonfire by confronting the combustible Scouser as he stomped towards the tunnel.

Aside from that significant blemish, QPR's discipline was otherwise impeccable. Despite ceding 81.3 possession overall and 84.1 per cent during the second half, they only made seven fouls. Stoppages were infrequent as City thrashed and flailed with increasing desperation and diminishing artistry around the opposition penalty area.

Without Barton's meltdown, there is little chance five minutes of stoppage time - or the three minutes and 20 seconds they ultimately required - would have been signalled. It was time City desperately needed and time they could put to good use with their top scorer's fast-twitch fibres bristling.

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Barton was not the only QPR man with City connections. His team-mates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Nedum Onuoha had also graduated through Jim Cassell's Platt Lane youth system, while Rangers boss Mark Hughes was Mancini's immediate predecessor, having been axed shortly before Christmas in 2009.

Hughes, of course, also played for United with distinction across two spells, and those loyalties struck a chord as news came through Bolton Wanderers had failed to beat Stoke City, meaning the Londoners were safe irrespective of the outcome at the Etihad Stadium.

"[City] got back on level terms and I always remember, at that point, I knew we were safe because the other result came in," he told the Coaches Voice earlier this year.

"I'm thinking, 'I wouldn't mind United winning, if I'm honest'. It's 2-2 and Jay Bothroyd looked over, asking what we wanted them to do [from the restart]. The players understood the [Bolton] game was over and we'd stayed up. We just said kick it as far as you can, right in the corner and the game's over."

Hughes' recollections from that point credit City with a poise they absolutely lacked. Rarely can a team have scored twice in this space of two minutes and – save for a crucial few seconds – played so shambolically.

Bothroyd's hoof found touch and scampering Joe Hart ran out of his goal to take the throw-in. The England goalkeeper almost missed the pitch.

Gael Clichy carried the ball down the flank, only for his attempted cross to turn into a block tackle with Mackie. Samir Nasri's aimless, floated effort that followed did little more than give Clint Hill a ninth successful clearance of the afternoon.

Nasri then excelled himself by shepherding the ball out for a QPR throw-in. Just 40 seconds before that explosion of ecstasy there was fury and anguish in the stands. Aguero watched it all from roughly the QPR penalty spot. Apparently he'd seen quite enough.

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Now 31 and City's all-time top scorer, Aguero honed his lethal skills playing against bigger boys in Buenos Aires on the neighbourhood potrero – the hard gravel and mud neighbourhood pitches that football purists in Argentina bemoan are a diminishing presence.

"When you play you have to think fast. Who to take on, who not," Aguero said when recalling those days in a 2018 documentary for City's in-house television channel. "You know who is going to play dirty, who isn't.

"You start to realise what you can do on the pitch and what you can't."

Reflecting further in the 2019 book 'Pep's City' by Pol Ballus and Lu Martin, he further explained the proving ground that readied him for Barton and others.

"Getting kicked black and blue was all part of the game," he said. "You held on to the ball any way you could.

"Running with the ball was a whole different concept for us. I'd be up against big, tough boys and I was always the smallest. But I learned how to survive."

Aguero remembered those matches were played for the prize of a peso, which would garner one of his favourite sweet treats, an alfajor or dulce de leche.

As United's players took in full-time and three points at the Stadium of Light, and Nigel de Jong brought the ball forward in Manchester to the soundtrack of QPR celebrations – their fans aware of Bolton's fate – the stakes were somewhat higher.

Vacating his spot in a penalty area already crowded by substitutes Dzeko and Balotelli, along with a marauding Kompany, Aguero took possession from De Jong 30 yards from goal.

He faced up to a compact QPR back four, with the visitors' four midfielders all in his immediate vicinity.

"You start to realise what you can do on the pitch and what you can't."

A shuffling touch to his left engineered space outside Shaun Derry, but Aguero needed help. Ideally from someone reliable, given the complete lack of any margin for error.

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Balotelli was on the pitch in a Manchester City shirt for the first time in over a month.

Mancini had not trusted his wayward protege since a brainless red card in a 1-0 Easter Sunday defeat at Arsenal left City eight points behind United with six games to play. Tevez, who had spent the bulk of the campaign AWOL playing golf in Argentina, represented a far more dependable option.

But with nowhere left to turn, he dared and prayed for Mario to be super. However briefly.

Introduced in the 76th minute, Balotelli gave the impression he had not just been banished from Premier League arenas, but football pitches altogether since his previous game.

The Italy striker managed to run through seven attempts – two on target, five blocked – during a frenzied cameo. It was probably as well Aguero found him with his back to goal, inside the D and grappling with Anton Ferdinand.

"I tried to control the ball and I had a contact from the defender and the ball went a little bit far from my foot," Balotelli told City TV five years on. "I thought in that half second there is maybe going to be a little bit of space for Sergio."

If Balotelli had stayed upright, the likelihood is QPR would have seen through their final piece of dogged tireless defending. In being forced on to his backside for the only assist of his Premier League career, he created opportunity and chaos.

Facing his own goal, Derry had to hurdle a prone Balotelli, while Wright-Phillips' route back to defend was also compromised. With his centre-back partner grounded, Hill held his position square on, while Kompany's haring towards the six-yard box dragged left-back Taye Taiwo with him.

A pocket of space opened up. A spot of turf Balotelli was able to locate from his sedentary position. As limbs flailed around him and a tight defence scattered, Aguero was thinking fast. The law of the porteno.

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Argentina's aforementioned tradition of tough, uncompromising neighbourhood football goes hand in hand with the mystique and mythology that cloaks the country's national sport.

A playing style grounded in skill and improvisation - La Nuestra, which translates as "our way" – was locked into the collective consciousness during the first half of the 20th century. The preeminent football magazine El Grafico, served to deepen this romantic attachment, with depictions of the pibe – literally a kid or urchin, whose rough and ready footballing techinique combined street smarts and skill and was something of an archetype. Typically they would dribble in the gambeta style, a description that implies close control, cunning and deceit of opponents.

The idea that the likes of Diego Maradona, Ariel Ortega, Lionel Messi and all those other squat, explosive and technically brilliant attackers from Argentina immersed themselves in the yellowed pages of El Grafico archive is far-fetched, but the style is unquestionably embedded. Think of the amount of barrelling, dribbling goals such players have produced – close control, small pauses and faints as thighs piston their way through defences.

As the walls were closing in on City's title bid, Aguero showed himself to be a proud product of this lineage. When Balotelli began his battle against gravity, he deftly checked his run behind and around Wright-Phillips to open up a path to the penalty area.

Letting the pass roll, he shaped to shoot, drawing a scampering Taiwo, who left his Kompany decoy a little too late to remain in control. Aguero did not actually touch Balotelli's return pass until his body position persuaded a rash slide tackle that he nudged beyond with the outside of his right boot.

With Taiwo suitably gambeta'd, there came one last stroke of fortune.

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"I touched it again and saw I was close to the goal, so I said 'I'll shoot'. The worst thing was that I wanted to shoot hard across goal and it went to the near post, I don't know what happened" Aguero told TyC Sports last month – the latter sentiment at least aligning him with every soul inside the Etihad Stadium that day.

"After watching it back, I realised that if I had shot across goal a defender could have blocked it. I celebrated the goal and told everybody, 'I hit it so well!'."

Goal 23 of a personal Premier League tally that now reads 180, one of 127 with Aguero's ferocious right boot, understandably left an indelible impression on the suddenly defeated Hughes.

"Of all the games I've been involved in, that noise at that moment when that goal went in is different to anything I've ever heard before or since.

"It was just unbelievable sound – different sound to a football crowd. It was a mixture of screaming and noise. It was just an unbelievable moment."

That racket has since been replayed thousands of times across the world. A goal on a tightrope that altered the course of English football, which began with gifting the opposition a 92nd-minute throw-in and ended thanks to a miscue after the main protagonist's strike partner fell over.

It is the Premier League's most famous goal - a moment as synonymous with Manchester as cotton mills and the Hacienda, and yet Argentinian to its very bones.

Giuseppe Farina won the first ever Formula One race on this day in 1950 and much more recently May 13 was a historic day for Manchester City.

Farina put his name in the record books with victory in the British Grand Prix 70 years ago.

Sergio Aguero scored a last-gasp winner against QPR to snatch a first Premier League title for City on an afternoon of high drama in Manchester eight years ago.

It was also Arsene Wenger's last game in charge of Arsenal and there was a tennis first on this day.

 

1950 - Flying Farina storms to Silverstone victory

Italian Farina dominated the inaugural F1 race at Silverstone after starting from pole position.

With King George VI among an estimated crowd of up to 120,000, Alfa Romeo driver Farina took the chequered flag ahead of team-mates Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell.

The great Juan Manuel Fangio retired from the race, also titled as the Grand Prix d'Europe, due to engine trouble. 

Farina went on to win the title after such a strong start.

 

1973 - Riggs beats Court in 'Battle of the Sexes' opener

Former world number one Bobby Riggs and the legendary Margaret Court contested the first 'Battle of the Sexes' match on this day in 1973.

Riggs had stated he could beat any top female player at the age of 55 and after Billie Jean King declined his challenge, Court stepped forward to take him on.

Court, the best female player in the world at the time, was soundly beaten 6-2, 6-1 at the San Vincente Country Club in Ramona, California.

Riggs then challenged King once again and she accepted on this occasion, beating him in straight-sets four months later, with the $100,000 winnings donated to charity.

 

2012 - Aguero puts City in dreamland

City looked set to miss out on being crowned champions of England for the first time in 1968 when they trailed 10-man QPR on the final day of the 2011-12 season.

Manchester United were minutes from popping the champagne corks, but neighbours City staged a remarkable fightback at the Etihad Stadium.

Edin Dzeko equalised after 92 minutes and the lethal Aguero rifled home a couple of minutes later, with time almost up, as City sensationally snatched a 3-2 victory to win the title on goal difference.

QPR had played much of the second half a man down after Joey Barton's dismissal.

 

2018 - 1-0 to the Arsenal for Wenger farewell

There was not a dry eye in the away end when Arsene Wenger's long reign as Arsenal manager ended with a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town two years ago.

Wenger went over to salute the Gunners faithful before kick-off in West Yorkshire, with the Frenchman also taking a bow.

There was a standing ovation for the departing Arsenal boss after 22 minutes to celebrate the number of years he had been charge of the London club.

Banners were flown over the ground before the visitors took all three points in a game with nothing at stake other than pride, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the only goal.

Free agency and the draft have not been the only topics of conversation among NFL players this offseason.

Last month they were debating which state would form the best team based on where players were born, according to NFL.com.

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said "We don't mess around in Texas" while Kansas City Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman suggested a Georgia all-star team would beat a Texas version "any day".

So just who could put out the best NFL team? We rank the top five.

 

5.) PENNSYLVANIA

With honourable mentions to Ohio, Louisiana and Alabama, it is Pennsylvania, home to Aaron Donald, arguably the NFL's best player, which sneaks into the top five.

Quarterback Matt Ryan is a former MVP, James Conner, when healthy, is a fine running back, and Chris Godwin, Will Fuller and Tyler Boyd a decent receiving corps.

Kevin Byard is a top safety but the state that Ty Law and Darrelle Revis hail from is suddenly seriously lacking in corners. 

Eli Apple and Daryl Worley would be helped if Donald got to the QB quickly...

4.) GEORGIA

Georgia's running game would certainly be fearsome as they could split carries between Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones and Kenyan Drake.

There is a lot to like with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, Bradley Chubb and Bud Dupree in the front seven and Darius Slay at corner.

However, given Tyreek Hill was actually born in Florida and only raised in Georgia, the best options at wideout are limited to Hardman and Demarcus Robinson.

Our verdict: Run the ball!

3.) TEXAS

You know you've got elite quarterbacks when Drew Brees, the all-time leader in passing yardage and touchdowns, would probably only be backing up Patrick Mahomes at this point. Poor Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray wouldn't even make the game-day 53.

The running game could do with some fresh blood given Peterson remains the state's top dog, yet Mike Evans, Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders is a decent trio of receivers.

Von Miller and Myles Garrett could form the most dominant pass-rushing tandem with Jamal Adams patrolling the back end, and any combination of Jason Peters, Trent Brown, Lane Johnson and Trent Williams would provide solidity at the tackle spots.

If there is an area of weakness, it's probably in the interior defensive line. If only Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones had been born in Houston, Texas, rather than Houston, Mississippi...

2.) FLORIDA

Home to the reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, the Sunshine State would certainly be able to pull together an impressive offense.

Imagine Jackson at QB, throwing passes to Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper, T.Y. Hilton and Florida-born-but-Georgia-raised Hill, while Derrick Henry, Marlon Mack and Dalvin Cook spearheaded the rushing attack?

An offense that put up points would be welcomed by Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa as they could pin their ears back ahead of Patrick Peterson and Derwin James.

Where Florida falls down is at offensive line. The Pouncey twins may have gone to high school at Lakeland, but they were born in Oklahoma, while Laremy Tunsil is another who moved to the state after being born.

1.) CALIFORNIA

The Golden State is home to some golden NFL talent, not least at the quarterback position.

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were born in hospitals around three hours apart, while starters Jared Goff, Derek Carr, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen are all well versed in 'California cool'.

Pick Brady in this California team and you can have his BFF Julian Edelman. Opt for Rodgers and you may select his favoured weapon Davante Adams. Both QBs would surely love a chance to throw to Los Angeles native Michael Thomas, tight end Zach Ertz or running back Joe Mixon too.

There is talent from California at every level of defense, including Arik Armstead, Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner, Marcus Peters and Richard Sherman, but what really sets Cal apart is the offensive line. 

David Bakhtiari, Mitchell Schwartz and Tyron Smith could provide protection at tackle while Joel Bitonio and Larry Warford solidified the interior for the USA's biggest state by population.

When Sebastian Vettel joined Ferrari ahead of the 2015 Formula One season he arrived with dreams of emulating the great Michael Schumacher at the Italian giants.

The allure was easy to see for Vettel given fellow German Schumacher won five straight titles in a glorious period between 2000 and 2004 with the Scuderia, F1's most famous franchise.

Yet, despite signs of promise at times, there was a clear fissure between the great dream and the harsh reality and Vettel – a four-time world champion with Red Bull – never quite reached his own expectations.

Five years on, Vettel is departing with his future in F1 unclear. It was not all disappointment, though, and here we take a look at the 32-year-old's highs and lows with Ferrari.


HIGHS

2015: Winning the Malaysian Grand Prix

The previous campaign had been bleak for Ferrari, who failed to win a race all season. But in just the second round of 2015 Vettel provided hope of an unlikely title challenge with the dominant Mercedes when he defeated Lewis Hamilton in a straight fight for his maiden victory with the team. With Mercedes' tyres struggling in the heat at Sepang, Vettel was able to triumph in a tactical tussle. Things panned out as predicted in the end with Hamilton beating team-mate Nico Rosberg to the title, but Vettel was able to win twice more in a solid debut campaign.

2015: Podium at Monza 

Hamilton, after Mercedes were cleared of flouting tyre-pressure rules, picked up a dominant win at Monza that year. But Vettel secured a podium finish and was on the second step at Ferrari's home grand prix in his first outing with the team at the track, where he had won three times, as the chasing Rosberg had to retire due to engine failure three laps from the end. However, Vettel has never won at Monza with Ferrari, whose nine-year drought in Italy was ended by Charles Leclerc in 2019.

2017: Stunning Canada comeback

While it was once again Hamilton celebrating in Canada, it was the sixth time he stood on the top step in Montreal, Vettel – leading the championship at the time – put in a blinding performance in a dramatic race. Forced to pit early due to a damaged front wing sustained after contact with Max Verstappen at the start of the race, Vettel found himself down in 18th. However, a high-risk strategy of aggressive overtaking saw him recover in sensational fashion to fourth. His pass of Force India's Esteban Ocon was a particularly impressive manoeuvre.

2018: Brilliant in Bahrain

On his 200th F1 start, Vettel celebrated victory in a memorable Bahrain battle. In a race where team-mate Kimi Raikkonen collided with a mechanic in the pits, which left the unfortunate crew member with a broken leg, Valtteri Bottas pushed Vettel hard and Hamilton battled through the pack from ninth as Mercedes chased an unlikely one-two. With his tyres deteriorating and Bottas closing in, Vettel clung on to complete a masterclass.


LOWS

2016: Winless second season

There had been moments of promise in 2015 but Vettel's second season with the Scuderia was a forgettable one. Mercedes won all but two races as Rosberg finally toppled Hamilton to win his only F1 title (he would retire at the end of the campaign). Vettel finished fourth in the standings behind Daniel Ricciardo and was on the podium only seven times as Ferrari were left with plenty to ponder. 

2017: Japan retirement all but ends title hopes

All the signs were of a real battle for the title in 2017. Vettel led after the Belgian Grand Prix in August that year and was only three points behind when Hamilton triumphed in Italy. But a crash in Singapore was followed by engine issues in Malaysia, where he battled from the back to finish fourth. More engine woe in Japan led to another retirement, though, as Hamilton stole into a 59-point lead with 100 remaining.

2019: Vettel in a spin during Monza nightmare

Last season was not one Vettel will remember with any fondness. There was a controversial five-second penalty in Canada that saw him demoted to second behind Hamilton after stewards deemed he committed an act of dangerous driving by pushing the Mercedes man off track when re-joining after running wide at turn three. In Monza, it was a nightmare for Vettel – who had the ignominy of watching Leclerc end Ferrari's wait for Italian glory – in a moment of madness. After spinning off at the Ascari chicane, Vettel recklessly re-entered without looking and crashed into the Racing Point of Lance Stroll. A 10-second stop-go penalty was awarded but he could have been in far greater bother.

2019: Double DNF after crash with Leclerc in Brazil

Leclerc may have been in his debut season with Ferrari but the young upstart clearly had no desire to play second fiddle and tensions were fraught at times with Vettel last year. Things unravelled in Brazil when Leclerc made a fine pass into turn one with five laps to go to move into fourth. Vettel attempted to come back into turn four and had enough room around the outside, only to edge back across and collide with his team-mate leading to a double DNF in a horror show for Ferrari.

Sebastian Vettel is leaving Ferrari in a decision that has the potential to spark a chain reaction of moves in Formula One.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Vettel's contract with the Scuderia will not be extended beyond 2020, bringing an end to a six-year relationship.

There is a sense of a mission unfilled from both sides and the main question for Ferrari and Vettel now is "what next?"

Well, below we take a look at some different scenarios involving Renault, McLaren and Mercedes…

RENAULT

One potential replacement for Vettel at Ferrari could be his ex-Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Experienced, super competitive and extremely gifted, the Australian would certainly keep prodigious talent Charles Leclerc on his toes. If the 30-year-old did opt to leave Renault – with whom he endured a disappointing maiden season – then a gap could open up there for Vettel. There is also another possible route for Vettel to end up at the French team…

MCLAREN

High on Ferrari's list of priorities is likely to be Carlos Sainz Jr, who finished sixth for a resurgent McLaren in the 2019 drivers' standings. At 25, Sainz has time on his hands but a man of his burgeoning talent is sure to want a competitive drive before long and McLaren are a team still in transition. So, it stands to reason that a move to Ferrari would be tempting, thus leaving a spot open at the Woking-based team. Would Vettel be content to drive for a team still rebuilding? Certainly, McLaren have the history and the project would be attractive. The other scenario could see Ricciardo move to McLaren, a team he held serious talks with when leaving Red Bull. That would, of course, leave a free seat at…yep, you guessed it, Renault.

MERCEDES

The unlikeliest option, and in truth a little bit of a mischievous suggestion, but you could see the appeal of a talented German driving for a dominant German team. This one is massively complicated by the fact world champion and lead driver Lewis Hamilton looks certain to extend his contract, which also ends after 2020. Hamilton is not thought to be a serious option for Ferrari, who appear certain to build around Leclerc. But in a scenario whereby Renault have an opening could Valtteri Bottas, destined to continue being number two to Hamilton, fancy his chances of being the main man for the French constructor? If so, then would the temptation of a four-time world champion be too much to pass up for Mercedes?

RETIREMENT

Fans of Vettel and of F1 in general will hope this option does not come to pass but you do have to wonder if it is something now being considered. Vettel came to Ferrari with hopes of emulating compatriot Michael Schumacher but leaves with goals uncompleted. The past 18 months have been a particular frustration, with the mistake count creeping up and the passing of the torch to Leclerc becoming ever more evident. Perhaps Vettel, with his place among F1 greats assured, may decide he has nothing left to prove.

In the history of the FA Cup, basketball and rugby union, May 12 is a momentous sporting date.

Nineteen years ago today, Liverpool produced an unlikely revival in a memorable FA Cup final against Arsenal.

It is also the 35-year anniversary of a franchise-changing moment for the New York Knicks.

Here we look back at May 12 in the world of sport.

 

1975 - All Blacks legend Lomu born

One of New Zealand rugby's greatest sons was born 45 years ago today in Auckland.

Jonah Tali Lomu went on to become one of the most dominant players to pull on the famous All Blacks jersey.

He scored 37 Test tries for New Zealand and shares the record for most World Cup tries all-time, scoring 15 across just two tournaments.

A serious kidney disorder affected his playing career and he retired in 2007. Lomu passed away at the age of 40 from a heart attack related to his kidney condition.

1979 - Evert's clay-court streak stopped

Chris Evert won seven of her 18 grand slam titles at the French Open, with her dominance on the clay courts reflected by an incredible winning streak on the dirt.

Between 1973 and 1979, Evert won 125 successive matches on the clay, though she did not compete at Roland Garros in 1976, 1977 or 1978.

That remarkable run finally came to an end in the semi-finals of the Italian Open, as she lost a third-set tie-break to American compatriot Tracy Austin.

Any disappointment she felt from her streak finally being stopped was soon put to bed, however, as Evert reclaimed the French Open crown in the next month by crushing Wendy Turnbull in straight sets.

1985 - Knicks hit the jackpot with Ewing

The NBA used a lottery to determine the number one overall pick in the draft for the first time in 1985, and it was the New York Knicks who struck it lucky.

And the pay-off could hardly have been greater.

New York used the top selection on Georgetown center Patrick Ewing, who went on to become a superstar for the Knicks.

An 11-time All-Star, Ewing turned the Knicks into perennial championship contenders, but had the misfortune of his rise coinciding with that of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Ewing twice made it to the NBA Finals with the Knicks, but they lost to the Houston Rockets in 1994 and the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.

He later enjoyed spells with the Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic. Ewing's number 33 is retired by the Knicks and he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

1989 - Guscott takes off with treble

England centre Jeremy Guscott's debut provided an indication of the great international career that was to come as they trounced Romania.

Guscott crossed for a hat-trick in a 58-3 victory in Bucharest, his efforts only outdone by Chris Oti going over four times.

However, it was Guscott who would go on to England stardom, scoring 30 tries in 65 caps.

Two years on from his bow, Guscott was playing in a World Cup final but came out on the losing side as England were beaten 12-6 by Australia at Twickenham.

2001 - Owen's dramatic late double downs Gunners

Liverpool's sixth FA Cup triumph proved a thrilling one as Michael Owen delivered glory with a late brace against Arsenal.

Freddie Ljungberg's opener looked to have won it for Arsenal, but Owen levelled matters seven minutes from the end of normal time.

He then completed a remarkable turnaround by racing onto a wonderful ball over the top from Patrik Berger and beating David Seaman with a fine left-footed finish.

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