Bryson DeChambeau insisted the job is not over for the United States after racing clear of Europe on day one in their quest to wrestle back the Ryder Cup.

Team USA have their biggest opening-day lead at the Ryder Cup since 1975 thanks to a dominant start – DeChambeau and his team-mates earning a commanding 6-2 advantage on Friday.

Ryder Cup holders Europe struggled for answers at Whistling Straits, where hosts USA starred in the morning foursomes and afternoon four-balls.

DeChambeau teamed up with Ryder Cup rookie Scottie Scheffler in the four-ball, halving their matchup against world number one Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton.

Powerhouse DeChambeau hit an astonishing 417-yard drive on the 581-yard par-five fifth hole, setting up an eagle to put himself and Scheffler one up in their four-ball contest with Rahm and Hatton.

Reflecting on the team's red-hot start, DeChambeau told reporters: "Proud of the team. Super proud.

"They fought hard every single shot out there, from what I saw, and, again, looking back on it, this is a great start, but the job's not over. We have two more days. A lot more golf. And we cannot lose our mindset to win."

On DeChambeau's fifth-hole bomb, Scheffler added: "That was probably the most excited he's ever been on a golf course was on number five. That wind, we had it on one of our practice days, and we figured out what he needed to do, so to have an opportunity to do that in competition was amazing. I was jacked up for him as well.

"I think he pushed it a little bit, but he smashed it. So thankfully he pushed it just a touch. If he pulls that ball at all, it's weird, there are two towers behind the green, I can't even describe to you - they are like 250 or 200 yards right of where I'm trying to hit my drive, and it's crazy for him to be able to commit to that shot.

"I know he's very happy to make a three as well; if he made a five, he said he was probably going to go home. It was great. That was a good spark for us and good momentum for the rest of the day."

Tiger Woods is absent from this year's Ryder Cup as the 15-time major champion continues his recovery from the February high-speed car crash near Los Angeles that left him with serious leg injuries, and it remains to be seen whether he is capable of playing again on tour.

Despite not being among Team USA's Ryder Cup roster, the American superstar still had a telling influence on Friday, having reached out with a few words of encouragement.

Xander Schauffele revealed Woods sent a message on Thursday and Tony Finau elaborated on the text.

"Harry [Harris English] mentioned to me walking down number nine, like how cool it was that Tiger is so into it," Finau said during his post-round news conference. "I think that's the big thing is he's so invested in this team.

"He's not here physically, but you know, I think the gist of basically what he was saying was I'm cheering you guys on, I'm right there with you and go fight and make us proud.

"We were able to do that, and if TW's watching, thanks for that text, brother, I think it helps us a lot."

Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins will be unable to play home games until he meets San Francisco's vaccination requirement after the NBA denied his request for an exemption.

The NBA put out a statement on Friday confirming its decision after Wiggins had sought an exemption for religious reasons to play at the Warriors' Chase Center.

Under local COVID-19 regulations in San Francisco, Warriors players are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arena, unless an exemption is granted for medical or religious reasons.

"The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins' request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health's order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events," the league statement said.

"Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors' home games until he fulfils the city's vaccination requirements."

Unvaccinated players are permitted to play in the NBA this season with regular testing but there are stricter rules for teams based in San Francisco along with New York.

The announcement comes shortly after the New York Knicks announced all of their roster are vaccinated. The rules also apply to the star-studded Brooklyn Nets.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health's decree may have overridden any NBA exemption granted to Wiggins.

"At large and mega indoor events, all patrons 12 and older must be vaccinated at this time," the San Francisco Department of Public Health statement said.

"Under the current order, if unvaccinated, they cannot enter indoor areas regardless of the reason they are unvaccinated and cannot test out of this requirement even if they have a medical or religious exemption.

"This same rule applies to performers and players employed by the host at large and mega indoor events who are covered by the vaccination requirements of the Health Order."

The Warriors are due to commence their 2021-22 NBA season against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19. The San Francisco mandate does not take effect until October 13.

Wiggins played 71 games last NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

Rory McIlroy has been dropped for Saturday's foursomes line-up against the United States as Padraig Harrington's Europe fight to recover from a forgettable opening day at the Ryder Cup.

Team Europe face an uphill battle to retain the Ryder Cup after the USA snatched their biggest opening-day lead since 1975 as the hosts surged 6-2 ahead on Friday.

McIlroy suffered two heavy defeats at Whistling Straits, where the former world number one will watch from the sidelines on Saturday morning.

A 5 and 3 loss to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele alongside Ian Poulter in the foursomes was followed by a 4 and 3 defeat in his pairing with Shane Lowry against Tony Finau and Harris English in the afternoon four-balls.

McIlroy – a four-time major champion – has been benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, having featured in every session since debuting in 2010.

"He's already a leader," Harrington said of McIlroy prior to the pairings being released. "You saw him out there after a tough day. He was out following those matches and supporting his team. He is very much a leader amongst his peers.

"I couldn't have asked more from him during the year. I couldn't have asked more from him today.

"Yeah, the golf didn't go as well as he would have liked, but I'm not second-guessing him for a second in terms of his leadership and what he does for my team."

World number one Jon Rahm and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia will lead Europe out against USA pair Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa will clash with Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger face American duo Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, while it is a Cantlay-Schauffele and Lee Westwood-Matthew Fitzpatrick showdown.

"I'm very comfortable again with the team I've put out tomorrow," Harrington said. "Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team."

Rory McIlroy has been dropped for Saturday's foursomes line-up against the United States as Padraig Harrington's Europe fight to recover from a forgettable opening day at the Ryder Cup.

Team Europe face an uphill battle to retain the Ryder Cup after the USA snatched their biggest opening-day lead since 1975 as the hosts surged 6-2 ahead on Friday.

McIlroy suffered two heavy defeats at Whistling Straits, where the former world number one will watch from the sidelines on Saturday morning.

A 5 and 3 loss to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele alongside Ian Poulter in the foursomes was followed by a 4 and 3 defeat in his pairing with Shane Lowry against Tony Finau and Harris English in the afternoon four-balls.

McIlroy – a four-time major champion – has been benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career, having featured in every session since debuting in 2010.

"He's already a leader," Harrington said of McIlroy prior to the pairings being released. "You saw him out there after a tough day. He was out following those matches and supporting his team. He is very much a leader amongst his peers.

"I couldn't have asked more from him during the year. I couldn't have asked more from him today.

"Yeah, the golf didn't go as well as he would have liked, but I'm not second-guessing him for a second in terms of his leadership and what he does for my team."

World number one Jon Rahm and fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia will lead Europe out against USA pair Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.

Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa will clash with Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger face American duo Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, while it is a Cantlay-Schauffele and Lee Westwood-Matthew Fitzpatrick showdown.

"I'm very comfortable again with the team I've put out tomorrow," Harrington said. "Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team."

Four-time NBA champion Manu Ginobili is returning to the San Antonio Spurs in a front office role.

On Friday, the Spurs announced Ginobili has been named Special Advisor to Basketball Operations, working in player development.

Ginobili spent 16 years playing with San Antonio, winning four NBA titles in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014 under current head coach Gregg Popovich.

San Antonio have courted two-time NBA All-Star and 2004 Olympic gold medallist Ginobili since he retired as a player in 2018.

Ginobili is the Spurs' all-time in three-pointers made (1,495) and steals (1,392), while his career winning percentage of .721 is the best in NBA history with a minimum of 1,000 games.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt said the door is open for him to face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 of the NFL season.

Watt is listed as questionable for Sunday's clash after injuring his groin in last week's 26-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

But the three-time Pro Bowler is hopeful of suiting up at home to the Bengals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

"Doesn't matter how many reps I get throughout the week," Steelers star Watt said on Friday. "I was able to still run around here and do a lot of things that I need to do to keep the door open for Sunday.

"I'm excited to get the rest of today and tomorrow to continue to improve my body and see where I'm at on Sunday.

"... This isn't going around and playing Pee Wee football. This is playing against guys doing this for a living, so trying to be smart.

"At the same time, knowing your body more than anything. I felt like I did a good amount this week to leave the door open for Sunday."

Cincinnati ended a 10-game losing streak to Pittsburgh when the Bengals (1-1) beat the Steelers (1-1) 27-17 in Week 15 of last season.

In the all-time series, the Steelers have 65 wins in their 101 games against the Bengals, which is the most wins by any team against Cincinnati.

The Steelers, meanwhile, were held to 39 yards rushing in their loss to the Raiders, bringing the team's season rushing total to a league-worst 114 rushing yards.

Since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007, Pittsburgh have been held to under 40 yards rushing in 20 different games with only the Arizona Cardinals having more such games in that span (22).

The United States snatched their biggest opening-day lead at a Ryder Cup since 1975 as they powered 6-2 ahead of Europe at Whistling Straits.

All of Europe's worst fears were realised on Friday as the cup holders left themselves with everything to do over the weekend.

Rory McIlroy, rather than proving a talisman, suffered two heavy defeats, with world number one Jon Rahm's excellence not enough to prevent a landslide as Steve Stricker's American team dominated.

Rahm and Sergio Garcia put the first point of the day on the board, beating Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, but the home side bossed the rest of the morning foursomes to seize a 3-1 lead. Two more wins in the afternoon, and two halved matches, meant another 3-1 session for the USA, who will now look to assure themselves of a big lead heading into Sunday's singles.

There were shots that caught the eye, including an astonishing chip up a steep bank from Spieth in the morning and a 417-yard bomb from Bryson DeChambeau in the afternoon fourballs.

But it was consistent quality from the US team that put them in such a commanding position, with Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele both winning twice, including as a pair in the fourballs.

Johnson said: "Today was a great day for both me and Xander, and we both won our matches in the morning and this afternoon. Couldn't have been any better."

Patrick Cantlay, the PGA Tour Player of the Year, played with Schauffele in the morning as they trounced McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5 and 3, and he was then part of the last match of the afternoon, as he and Thomas came from three behind to halve against Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.

"For sure I was feeding off JT a little bit, he was carrying me around all day today, he played great," Cantlay said. "Three and one in both sessions, that's a great start. Hopefully we can keep the pedal down and keep doing more of the same."

Europe's fortunes were summed up when Fleetwood hooked his tee shot at 16 into Lake Michigan, with Thomas holing a silky eagle putt to win that hole.

There was a huge boost for Europe, however, when Tyrrell Hatton holed a clutch putt at 18, winning the hole as he and Rahm snatched a half point against Scottie Scheffler and DeChambeau.

Rahm said: "I'm not going to lie: when I hit my bunker shot at 16 and we both had over 15 feet for birdie and they were both within 10 feet, things did look dark, to say the least. Luckily I was able to roll mine in and I told him [Hatton] that we can finish strong and still get this done.

"Not many people are as clutch as he is under pressure and he showed it right here so hopefully this gives him a lot of confidence for tomorrow and we get the ball rolling."


Shot of the day

Spieth conjured up an incredible shot on the 17th after playing partner Thomas had seemingly left him in an impossible position.

Spieth somehow chipped to around four feet away from the pin from the bottom of a steep bank in thick grass beyond railway sleepers. Spieth hurtled down to the edge of the water following his great escape, but his exploits were not enough to prevent Spanish pair Rahm and Garcia claiming the first point of the competition.

The three-time major champion said: "it's kind of one of those shots that you practice as a kid for fun, and you don't ultimately want to have it. And the chances of it going there, you could roll a thousand balls off the green, and it's not going it stay where it was.

"I hit like a 52-degree because a 60 might have gone over the back of my head and just tried to flick it right underneath and hit it as hard as I could, as high as I could."

Player of the day

At his fifth Ryder Cup, Johnson played like he is sick of that losing feeling, having known it three times already. He and Schauffele were a strong pairing in the afternoon, while Johnson guided Collin Morikawa through the morning foursomes. As McIlroy floundered for Europe elsewhere on the course, the US team had a seasoned member of their team step up and lead.

Chipping in

McIlroy: "Xander, Patrick, played wonderful, and Tony – I haven't seen Tony putt as good as that in a long time. When you have got a couple of pairs like that on form, on a difficult golf course where it's sort of hard to make birdies and they go on runs, if you're not quite 100 per cent on top of your game, it's tough. We can come back from 6-2."

Johnson: "Obviously we have a lot of support on our side, and MJ [Michael Jordan] is out there, he's a huge supporter of the Ryder Cup and huge supporter of golf, but it's nice to see him come out and support us."

Tony Finau: "You've just got to enjoy it. All these people out here cheering us on, that's the biggest thing. You have to enjoy it. I learned that in Paris, and the more you can just have fun with it, it seems to keep you loose, and I was able to roll the rock nicely today."

A little birdie told me...

Garcia is Europe's top points-scorer in Ryder Cup history and the Spaniard matched Nick Faldo's record tally of 23 match wins when he and compatriot Rahm drew first blood in the morning session.

Powerhouse  DeChambeau hit an astonishing 417-yard drive on the 581-yard par-five fifth hole, setting up an eagle to put himself and Scheffler one up in their four-ball contest with Rahm and Hatton.

Friday's foursomes results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (Eur) beat Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (Eur) 3 and 2
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (Eur) 2 and 1
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) beat Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (Eur) 5 and 3

Friday's four-ball results

Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele (USA) beat Bernd Wiesberger and Paul Casey (Eur) 2 and 1
Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau (USA) halved with Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton (Eur)
Harris English and Tony Finau (USA) beat Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry 4 and 3
Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay (USA) halved with Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood (Eur)

The NBA championship-chasing Los Angeles Clippers are unsure when Kawhi Leonard will return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Tyronn Lue's Clippers will head into the 2021-22 season without superstar Leonard, who is expected to miss much of the campaign as he recovers from a partially torn ACL in his right knee.

Leonard underwent knee surgery after suffering the serious injury during the 2020-21 playoffs – the Clippers progressed to their first Western Conference Finals before falling to the Phoenix Suns.

Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank fielded questions on two-time NBA champion Leonard on Friday as the team gear up for the new season.

"Oh, we don't even broach that," Frank said when asked if he expects Leonard to play this season.

"I think at this point, it's just no one knows when you're dealing with a recovery from an ACL [injury], the time frame.

"Even just to save you guys [from asking] throughout the year, is no one knows. You just attack it day by day, he has a very detailed plan with a great group and we'll just let his body and the doctors tell us when it's the right time."

A five-time All-Star, Leonard has averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists since joining the Clippers in 2019, arriving at the franchise after an impressive title-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors.

The Clippers went 36-16 when Leonard was active in the regular season last term, outscoring their opponents by 9.0 points per outing. In the 20 games he missed, however, their record was 11-9 and they were outscored by 1.1 points on average.

In the playoffs, the Clippers have lost in the Conference semi-finals and Conference Finals respectively in the past two seasons.

Houston Astros star Zack Greinke has been placed on the 10-day injured list with neck soreness.

Greinke landed on the IL ahead of Friday's MLB clash with the Oakland Athletics – the 2009 American League (AL) Cy Young Award winner replaced by Brandon Bielak for the start on the mound.

Astros rookie Peter Solomon has replaced Greinke on the roster ahead of the opening game of their three-game series against the A's.

A six-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove Award winner, Greinke has not started since last Sunday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, when he allowed five runs in four innings.

The 37-year-old pitcher – whose IL stint is backdated to Tuesday – was placed on the COVID-19 injured list earlier this month and is 0-2 since returning, with a 12.45 ERA in his last starts.

Greinke is 11-6 across the 2021 season, with a 4.11 ERA and 117 strikeouts across 168.2 innings pitched.

The Astros are currently 91-62 and clear in top spot in the AL West. Houston need three more victories to clinch the division for a fourth time.

Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls could be forced to make adjustments for next month’s tri-series following the reported withdrawal of South Africa from the tour.

Originally, the series was set to feature the no 4 ranked Jamaicans, 5th ranked Australians and 10th ranked Trinidad and Tobago and was set to tip-off on October 9th.  However, negotiations between Netball South Africa and the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) are said to have broken down due to the island’s rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The JNA is expected to give an update on the situation in the next few weeks with a replacement team being added being another possibility that is being looked at.

The series will be the first for the Jamaicans since the Netball World Cup in 2020, the team is, however, also expected to travel to England, in September, where they will face the England Roses in a three-match series.  The Sunshine Girls had been due to face England in January of this year, but those plans were postponed due to then-existing Covid-19 travel restrictions.  The team will be looking to vastly increase its activities in the coming months with the Commonwealth Games scheduled for next year.

The third week of the NFL season is not short of enticing matchups.

A divisional showdown between two high-powered AFC West offenses in the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers headlines the early slate of games, while Sunday's primetime matchup sees a rematch of the NFC Championship Game as the Green Bay Packers visit the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers.

Sandwiched in between those fascinating contests is an encounter that most will see as the game of the week, one that could have a pivotal impact on the NFC playoff picture come the end of the season, as Tom Brady plays in Los Angeles for the first time in his professional career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going out west to take on the Rams.

Beyond being a battle of unbeaten teams, it is an encounter that pits one of the game's most celebrated quarterbacks against one of its most underappreciated, who is thriving in his opening weeks playing for the Rams having been freed from the shackles of a listless Detroit Lions franchise.

Both Brady and Matthew Stafford have started the season as most expected them to, operating at a level to suggest they can propel their respective teams to deep postseason runs.

However, they each will take on defenses stacked with the talent to shut down even the most prolific offenses when at their best. It promises to be a tremendous spectacle at SoFi Stadium, one that should provide an early barometer as to who is the class of the NFC.

Little to separate stellar QBs

Brady is ancient by NFL standards, but his remarkable longevity has turned the fact he continues to excel at age 44 into old news. Nobody is surprised by his continuing brilliance, which sees him lead the league with nine passing touchdowns in two games, four more than Stafford.

Yet a man who has turned performing when the pressure is at its highest in the playoffs into an art is essentially neck and neck with a quarterback yet to taste a postseason victory when it comes to accuracy so far this season.

Stafford has a well-thrown ball percentage of 81.5, putting him just below Brady on 81.7, though it is the former Lion who has the edge when it comes to delivering accurately under pressure.

The Rams' signal-caller ranks fifth among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts under duress this season with a well-thrown percentage of 80 when pressured. Brady has a less impressive ratio of 75 per cent, though that is still well above the average of 69.2 per cent.

Stafford also has a string to his bow that is not a part of Brady's arsenal, as he has settled superbly into Sean McVay's offense and quickly adapted to an attack that consistently relies on the play-action bootleg.

On his nine throws where he has been on the move, Stafford has produced a well-thrown ball 88.9 per cent of the time, compared to 75 per cent on four such attempts for Brady.

That difference reflects the contrasts in offensive approach, but the opportunity to get on the move and outside of the pocket gives Stafford a potentially pivotal avenue to avoid an often ferocious Buccaneers defensive front.

Compelling cases for the defense

Stafford may find encouragement in that a Buccaneers pass rush that pressured Patrick Mahomes 33 times in their Super Bowl win last season has been, for the most part, held in check through two weeks.

Edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, who led the Bucs with 13 pressures of Mahomes, has won just 11 of his 44 pass rush attempts so far, according to Stats Perform data. Things have gone even worse for veteran Jason Pierre-Paul with a solitary win on 34 attempts.

Pierre-Paul's struggles may mean more of rookie Joe Tryon, who has won four of his 12 rushes, but Tampa can at least be fairly confident of pressuring Stafford up the middle, with defensive tackle Vita Vea prevailing on nine of his 25 attempts.

Despite the lack of pressure, Stafford – who has thrown an interceptable pass on 3.7 per cent of his attempts – must be wary of a defense that has already produced four turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns, with starting cornerbacks Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean each enjoying strong starts to the campaign. Davis has allowed a receiver to get open on five of his 22 coverage matchups, with Dean (6/21) also proving difficult for pass-catchers to separate from.

The primary threats on the Rams' defense are easy to identify.

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald has won a massive 65.63 per cent of his pass rushes despite being double teamed 19 times.

Meanwhile, on the back end, cornerback Jalen Ramsey has yet to allow an open receiver in 18 coverage matchups, further illustrating his status as one of the league's most dominant cornerbacks.

For the Bucs to prevail, Brady must avoid both.

Stacked supporting casts

For as much as the two defenses each possess the calibre of player to make a quarterback's life misery, both Brady and Stafford have the luxury of extremely strong offensive lines.

Indeed, the Rams have allowed only 16 pressures of Stafford this season, the fewest in the NFL. Tampa Bay's offensive line has given up 10 more, yet that still puts the Buccaneers tied fifth in the league.

And, should the theme of the two O-Lines giving their quarterbacks time continue, Brady and Stafford will have the opportunity to find some excellent pass-catching options.

Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin has recorded a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, 88.9 per cent of the time. That is the most among wide receivers with at least 10 targets. His big-play percentage of 46.7 is third among such wideouts.

Antonio Brown's presence on the reserve/COVID-19 list may see even more targets go to Godwin while tight end Rob Gronkowski should play a featured role with a burn percentage of 84.6 and four touchdowns through two games.

The change from Jared Goff to Stafford has not changed the identity of the two most important receivers for the Rams.

Robert Woods' burn percentage of 76.9 is sixth for wideouts with a minimum of 10 targets, and Cooper Kupp's burn yards per target average of 13.94 is second among receivers who have been targeted at least 20 times.

With two extremely accurate quarterbacks, weapons all over the field and a pair of elite defenses, there is little to choose between two teams that for now appear destined to be playing in January. Home advantage, a Rams offensive line that the numbers suggest is slightly superior to that of Tampa Bay and Stafford's greater mobility tip the scales in Los Angeles' favour on paper. Yet, if there is one player who can redress the balance, it is Brady.

Hubert Hurkacz's fine season continued as he ended Andy Murray's run at the Moselle Open on Friday.

Top seed Hurkacz beat Daniil Medvedev and Roger Federer on the way to the semi-finals at Wimbledon, and previously beat Murray in Cincinnati.

Hurkacz is ranked 13th in the world and is pushing for a place at the ATP Tour Finals, and he edged closer to a fourth career title by defeating Murray again in Metz.

The 24-year-old prevailed 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 over the former world number one, who was playing in his first ATP Tour quarter-final of the year.

"Andy is an unbelievable competitor, he has achieved so much throughout his career," Hurkacz said. "He is coming back from a tough injury and playing at a very high level, so he is amazing and you can be inspired by his results."

Next up for Hurkacz is Peter Gojowczyk, who overcame Marcos Giron 3-6 6-1 6-3 and is backing up his recent US Open run in strong fashion.

The other last-four match will take place between French home favourite and third seed Gael Monfils, who has reached his first tour semi-final since February last year, and Pablo Carreno Busta.

Carreno Busta, the Spanish second seed, needed three sets to beat Holger Rune, while Monfils had an easier time of it against Nikoloz Basilashvili, winning 6-3 6-3.

At the Astana Open, second seed Alexander Bublik beat Carlos Taberner 6-3 6-4, as he hunts a first singles title.

A crowd favourite in Kazakhstan, whom he has represented since 2016, Russian-born Bublik faces a semi-final against Soonwoo Kwon, who got past Laslo Djere.

Fifth seed John Millman succumbed to fellow Australian James Duckworth, who will face Ilya Ivashka for a place in the final.

Anett Kontaveit beat Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and will face home favourite Petra Kvitova for a place in the Ostrava Open final.

Estonian Kontaveit, ranked 30th in the world, claimed her fourth top-20 win of the season as she prevailed 6-4 6-3 on Friday.

Kontaveit also defeated Bencic in the 2020 Australian Open, meaning she is 2-0 in their head-to-head rivalry.

Czech left-hander Kvitova awaits in the last four, after the second seed defeated Bencic's Swiss compatriot Jil Teichmann 6-4 6-4.

Teichmann beat Kvitova in their only previous meeting, but the world number 10 had too much on this occasion, along with the backing of the crowd to boot as she chases a 29th singles title of her career.

The other semi-final will see top seed Iga Swiatek face Maria Sakkari.

Last year's French Open winner Swiatek reached her first semi-final since May – when she landed the prestigious title in Rome – by overcoming Elena Rybakina 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

Sakkari, meanwhile, ended Tereza Martincova's hopes in straight sets.

Greek star Sakkari ended Swiatek's reign as Roland Garros champion in June, beating the Polish 20-year-old in the quarter-finals in Paris.

The Kansas City Chiefs aren't ones for panic, certainly not in the Andy Reid-Patrick Mahomes era. Even in the most trying of situations, facing third and long and trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter of their Super Bowl LIV triumph in the 2019 season, Reid and Mahomes kept their cool, the latter unfurling a 44-yard bomb to Tyreek Hill that turned the contest on its head.

While their high-powered offense has no reason to be anything other than coolness personified, with 61 points scored through the first two weeks, there might be some cause for desperation on the defensive side of the ball.

Steve Spagnuolo's defense is the eighth-worst in the league in terms of offensive points allowed (58). No defense is allowing more yards per play (7.56) than that of Kansas City, the Chiefs conceding 9.37 yards per pass (31st) and 6.03 yards per rush (last) after being gashed on the ground in their thrilling Week 2 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens.

In other words, through two weeks, the Chiefs are not stopping anybody, whether that be a ball-carrier or a passer, and that is a significant issue heading into a matchup with a signal-caller who has only furthered his case for a place among the elite so far this season.

Los Angeles Chargers star Justin Herbert, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, is fourth in the NFL with 337.5 passing yards per game, producing a pair of hugely impressive performances to start the season.

Missed opportunities, including a pair of Herbert interceptions, doomed the Chargers to a last-gasp defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2. Save for those picks, though, it was a display in which the former sixth overall selection continued to demonstrate his ability to make deadly accurate throws on passes of the highest difficulty.

And the numbers suggest the Chiefs will not have many avenues through which to disrupt him.

The Chiefs pass rush has endured an unproductive start to the season, registering only 20 pressures, third-lowest in the NFL, so far this term.

Star defensive lineman Chris Jones has played the majority of his snaps on the edge this season, having spent most of his career on the interior, and the switch has not yielded the desired results.

He has won just six of his 21 pass rushes this season, while Frank Clark has got the better of his pass protector only once in 17 attempts.

Jones and Clark have the talent to drastically improve those numbers. However, even if they manage to pressure Herbert, it may not lead to opportunities to create negative plays.

When pressured, Herbert, according to Stats Perform data, delivers an accurate well-thrown ball 88.2 per cent of the time, first among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts under duress.

One area where the Chiefs defense has excelled is in creating turnovers. Kansas City have four to their name already, including three interceptions.

But those takeaways have not helped Kansas City keep opposing offenses in check, Baltimore prevailing in primetime despite a pair of picks for Lamar Jackson.

Their vulnerability against the run makes the Chiefs defense an enticing opponent for Chargers running back Austin Ekeler. His average of 2.83 yards after contact per attempt is second among backs with at least 10 carries, and all the signs point to another long day for Kansas City on that side of the ball.

There are, of course, changes that can be made to aid their cause. Shifting Jones back inside could up his production, while giving both him and Clark opportunities to rush against Storm Norton, who has allowed a pressure rate of 14.2 per cent in relief of the injured Bryan Bulaga at right tackle, may be a route towards Kansas City disrupting Herbert more often than they have opposing quarterbacks so far this year.

Yet the Chiefs need to not only disrupt Herbert but to affect his throws. Mahomes' ability to put up points can keep the Chiefs in any game; however, if they cannot find a way to impact Herbert or take away the run, Kansas City risk a shootout with a team that can go blow for blow with them and a potential 1-2 start that seemed unthinkable when they led the Ravens by 11 points last week.

It's only Week 3 but, for a Super Bowl favourite, the pressure is on a team that has struggled to generate it.

Tiger Woods may not be at Whistling Straits, but his influence was felt as the United States made a rip-roaring start to their Ryder Cup trophy bid.

The 45-year-old Woods is continuing his recovery from the February high-speed car crash near Los Angeles that left him with serious leg injuries, and it remains to be seen whether he is capable of playing again on tour.

But the 15-time major winner is willing the USA team to snatch back the cup from Europe, and Xander Schauffele revealed he had been in touch with a few words of encouragement.

Woods, who often struggled to take his world-beating form onto the Ryder Cup stage, had his say before the Americans raced into a 3-1 lead following the morning foursomes.

Schauffele, after teaming up with fellow debutant Patrick Cantlay to land a dazzling 5 and 3 win over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, confirmed Woods wanted to offer help from afar.

 

"We got a nice message from Tiger last night," Schauffele said on the Golf Channel.

"I'm not going to reveal what it said, but Pat and I knew and we referred to it a few times today, and we knew what we needed to do.

"We knew he was fist-pumping from the couch. Whether he was on crutches or not, he's as fired up as anyone back at home, so it's nice to have his support."

Woods has a disappointing record of just 13 wins from 37 Ryder Cup matches, an unexpectedly weak performance given his PGA Tour and major championship prowess.

But he remains an idol for many players on the team, with Schauffele and Cantlay two of six rookies on Steve Stricker's roster this year.

Cantlay said: "[There's] no better role model and no better leader and somebody you can always learn from.

"I saw him last week at home and picked his brain on Ryder Cup and applied some of that here today."

The USA pair sped to a 5up lead through five holes on the way to their dominant victory, feeding off the largely American crowd.

A disappointed McIlroy said: "The start wasn't great. I don't know if anyone could have beat Xander and Patrick today.

"They played really good, four birdies in a row. Geez, yeah, they played great. They were a great pairing today, and all you can do is praise them for the way they played."

Ryder Cup team captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington have confirmed their selections for the Friday four-ball session at Whistling Straits.

The United States took a 3-1 lead after the morning foursomes session in the 43rd edition of the tournament, with the hosts looking to wrestle the trophy back from Europe in Wisconsin.

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia got Europe off to a good start as they saw off Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 3 and 1, but Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa got the USA back on level pegging, with Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger then edging out Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Ryder Cup debutants Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele did for Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, and Schauffele will be swiftly back out on the course as he pairs with Johnson for match one of the afternoon four-ball session.

The duo take on Paul Casey and Bernd Wiesberger, with match two seeing Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler face Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton.

Match three pairs Tony Finau and Harris English together for the USA, with Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry - who both represented Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics - teaming up.

The final four-ball match of the session will involve Thomas and Cantlay for the USA, with Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland their opponents.

The United States' position as the heavy favourites to win the Ryder Cup was vindicated as they claimed a 3-1 lead after the foursomes.

Though the first point at Whistling Straits went to Europe's Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm, the other three matches were dominated by the hosts in Wisconsin.

Victories for the pairs of Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger and Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele left Europe with significant work to do in the fourballs as they bid to retain the cup.

The weight of expectation is firmly on the USA; however, after the Americans rose to the challenge in the opening session, the onus switches to Europe's captain Padraig Harrington, who was eyeing an afternoon improvement to prevent his team slipping to a potentially decisive deficit.

Garcia and Rahm might have feared the worst when the former drove into the bunker off the opening tee.

However, Garcia was superb with the driver thereafter and Rahm excelled with the flat stick as they claimed their match against Justin Spieth and Justin Thomas 3 and 1.

Yet the form that all-Spanish duo produced could not be replicated by their European team-mates.

Morikawa and Johnson soon levelled matters following Garcia and Rahm's triumph, their victory secured when Morikawa converted a short putt from 22 inches on the 16th to defeat Viktor Hovland, who missed a long putt for birdie to keep the match alive, and Paul Casey.

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele were in command throughout against two Ryder Cup mainstays in Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.

The American pair won the first five holes and, despite a brief comeback from McIlroy and Poutler, prevailed 5 and 3.

And, while Rahm thrived on the green, Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick could not buy a putt in their loss to Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka, whose 2 and 1 success put the USA 11.5 points from regaining the cup.

 

Friday's foursomes results

Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (EUR) beat Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) 3 and 1
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) beat Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (EUR) 3 and 2
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) beat Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR) 2 and 1
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) beat Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (EUR) 5 and 3

Anthony Joshua has no intention of making things "too complicated" when he defends his world heavyweight titles against the unbeaten Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday.  

The reigning IBF, WBA and WBO champion looked in excellent condition as he weighed in on Friday, tipping the scales at 240 pounds – a fraction lighter than for his previous fight, against Kubrat Pulev, at the end of 2020.

Joshua was always going to have a height and weight advantage coming into an intriguing contest at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend, even if Usyk did come in at a career-high 221.25 pounds.

It is just a third outing at heavyweight for the Ukrainian, who was previously the undisputed champion at cruiserweight before moving up. His boxing abilities should not be doubted, considering his achievements as an amateur as well, but after taking on Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora previously, he is about to jump back in at the deep end nearly a year on from his last bout.

The physical differences further increase the intrigue over how each man will approach the occasion, as two fighters who struck gold at the London Olympics in 2012 meet in the English capital.

"It's called a boxing match for a reason. I love the sweet science. I will display my boxing skills, but I won't make it too complicated in there," Joshua said at the final news conference.

This, of course, was not the fight the 31-year-old had expected to be next on his agenda. A deal was in place to take on Tyson Fury to reveal a new undisputed champion, but the holder of the WBC title has been ordered to take on Deontay Wilder for a third time instead.

That trilogy bout takes place on October 9 in Las Vegas, a hurdle Fury will likely have to clear if we are to see the all-British showdown that has been teased for too long, amid lengthy negotiations, social media sparring and arbitration hearings.

Before then, though, Joshua must focus on the task at hand. Usyk, the mandatory challenger for the WBO strap, is not an opponent to be taken lightly either, even if he weighed considerably less on the scales.

The result is all that matters for Joshua, who knows just what is at stake. Unlike his opponent, Usyk has little to lose – apart from that unblemished record in the pros – and everything to gain, having received the chance to spring the type of surprise that would seismically alter the heavyweight landscape.

The pair took part in a tense head-to-head showdown after weighing in, though they did share a handshake and a smile before parting ways. Respectful during the build-up, it will be down to business when they next come face to face with each other.

RECENT HISTORY

Joshua finished an otherwise quiet 2020 in style, stopping the ever-willing but overmatched Pulev inside nine rounds in his solitary outing during the year. A small number of fans were present inside Wembley Arena amid the coronavirus pandemic, but there will be far more in attendance at the impressive home of Spurs this weekend.

That Pulev bout came just over a year after Joshua's revenge mission against Andy Ruiz Jr, when he boxed intelligently to regain the titles he had lost against the same opponent midway through 2019 in a stunning upset on his American debut.

As for Usyk, he came through a gruelling physical test against Chisora, winning their October 2020 meeting by unanimous decision on the scorecards.

Chisora, who was left "gutted" by the final verdict, was asked in the aftermath if he felt his opponent had shown him enough to be able to beat one of the big names in the division, to which he replied: "No, because in the heavyweight game, you have to fight, not box."

TALE OF THE TAPE 

ANTHONY JOSHUA

Age: 31
Height: 6ft 6ins (198cm)
Weight: 240lbs
Reach: 82ins
Professional record: 24-1 (22 KOs)
Major career titles: IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight

OLEKSANDR USYK

Age: 34
Height: 6ft 3ins (191cm) 
Weight: 221.25lbs
Reach: 78ins  
Professional record: 18-0 (13 KOs) 
Major career titles: IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO cruiserweight

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