Nikita Mazepin has announced he is suing Haas over "salary arrears" that he says are owed for the 2022 season.

The Russian driver was axed by Haas on the eve of the new Formula One season following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which also saw F1 cancel the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

Haas cancelled their title sponsor deal with Russian fertilizer company Uralkali, owned by Nikita's father Dmitry, and replaced Mazepin with Kevin Magnussen for the 2022 season.

Mazepin's relationship with Haas has soured since his contract was terminated in March, with the driver claiming his wish to continue racing by accepting the FIA's regulations for Russian drivers was ignored.

He has alleged he only found out about the termination via Haas' press release and is now set to take the team to court – though he made it clear this would be a "personal matter" and not related to Uralkali, who are reportedly seeking reimbursement themselves.

"When the contract was terminated, Haas had a salary arrears to me for 2022. And they still haven’t paid it," he told RBC.

"I’m only talking about the fact that contractual obligations were not fulfilled.

"You also need to understand that we had two independent contracts. And breaking the agreement with the title sponsor did not have a direct impact on my future in the team.

"So they [Haas] made two separate decisions. I didn't see my money, so we're going to court."

Defending men's champion Novak Djokovic and women's world number one Iga Swiatek head the seedings for Wimbledon, which starts on Monday.

The championships issued its lists of seeds on Tuesday, with Russian and Belarusian players absent from the line-up after they were excluded from the tournament because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

It means Russia's men's world number one Daniil Medvedev is absent, while Germany's second-ranked Alexander Zverev also misses out, in his case because of an ankle injury.

With Wimbledon sticking to the ATP and WTA rankings, that means world number three Djokovic automatically moves up to the top seeding as he chases a seventh title at the All England Club, and a 21st grand slam win of his career.

Two-time Wimbledon winner Rafael Nadal is the second seed, with the Spaniard having already won the Australian Open and French Open titles this year to nudge two majors ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer on the all-time men's list. Federer, still battling his way back from knee surgery, will not play Wimbledon this year and turns 41 in August.

Norway's Casper Ruud, fresh from reaching the French Open final, is the third seed, with Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas fourth. Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz is fifth, while Great Britain's Cameron Norrie, ninth on the list, receives his first top-10 seeding at Wimbledon.

Norrie is bumped up from his world ranking of number 12, given world number eight Andrey Rublev, another Russian, is prevented from competing.

The women's reigning champion Ash Barty has retired since capturing the title last July, so her successor as the dominant player on the WTA Tour, Swiatek, assumes the top seeding.

Swiatek has reeled off 35 consecutive match wins, dominating on hardcourts and clay, but she has less of a grass pedigree, albeit the 21-year-old Pole is a former junior Wimbledon champion.

Last year saw Swiatek lose in the fourth round to Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who is the third seed this time. Estonia's Anett Kontaveit is the second seed, with Wimbledon no longer making any allowances for grass-court prowess, as it used to when devising its seeding lists.

Britain's Emma Raducanu, like Norrie, is a Wimbledon top-10 seed for the first time. The shock US Open champion is seeded 10th, one ahead of the American teenager Coco Gauff.

The format means there will be dangerous unseeded players in the draw, notably Nick Kyrgios and two-time champion Andy Murray in the men's singles.

Serena Williams, the seven-time women's champion, is entered on a wildcard and is also unseeded. Williams, 40, has not played singles since abandoning her first-round match at Wimbledon last year due to injury, but entered this week's doubles event at Eastbourne, partnering Jabeur.


Men's top 10: 1. Novak Djokovic, 2. Rafael Nadal, 3. Casper Ruud, 4. Stefanos Tsitsipas, 5. Carlos Alcaraz, 6. Felix Auger-Aliassime, 7. Hubert Hurkacz, 8. Matteo Berrettini, 9. Cameron Norrie, 10. Jannik Sinner

Women's top 10: 1. Iga Swiatek, 2. Anett Kontaveit, 3. Ons Jabeur, 4. Paula Badosa, 5. Maria Sakkari, 6. Karolina Pliskova, 7. Danielle Collins, 8. Jessica Pegula, 9. Garbine Muguruza, 10. Emma Raducanu

Nico Rosberg believes Lewis Hamilton is "driving at his best" this season despite Mercedes' woes as the team continues to battle with the development of the W13 car.

Mercedes' campaign has been plagued with bouncing issues following the introduction of new restrictions for the 2022 season, with the German team among many on the grid to suffer with 'porpoising'.

A new FIA directive was issued ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, allowing the use of a second floor, following complaints from a number of drivers – although the actions have led to backlash from Red Bull chief Christian Horner.

Mercedes did show significant signs of progress in Montreal and had a consistent race, whereas Ferrari had Charles Leclerc starting from the back for an engine penalty and Red Bull lost Sergio Perez with a technical problem.

Hamilton came third for his second podium finish of the season and it marked the first time since the opening race in Bahrain where he has finished above team-mate George Russell, who came fourth.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton has faced scrutiny this season amid the team's struggles but his former team-mate and title rival Rosberg insists that he has been at the top of his game over the past few months.

"Lewis is driving at his best. He has just had an unbelievably unlucky season with all these different things going against him," he told Sky Sports.

"This was a normal weekend and he delivered in the usual awesome way.

"That driver pairing is so strong, incredible, but, make no mistake, Lewis hates passionately to ever come second to a team-mate, so he will be ultra-motivated and pushing hard internally."

Mercedes' car showed signs of promise in Canada but Rosberg has warned them not to get ahead of themselves, as they remain off the pace of their rivals heading into the British Grand Prix on July 3.

"The car in the race was really decent. I thought it was so awesome how George right after the start made headway, passing one car after another down into the hairpin," he added.

"I think they are making progress but there is still some way to go to Ferrari and Red Bull. They can't win at Silverstone, they are still too far away."

The FIA allowing Formula One constructors to utilise a second floor stay to combat porpoising is "overtly biased" to one team, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who appeared to reference Mercedes.

Mercedes have struggled throughout the season with porpoising – otherwise known as bouncing unevenly – and are third in the constructors' standings, 116 points behind leaders Red Bull.

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion and Mercedes star, suffered serious discomfort and back injuries with the W13 car at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Briton was subsequently fit to compete at the Canadian Grand Prix, where he and team-mate George Russell took third and fourth respectively in an improved Mercedes performance.

Hamilton and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff both suggested after the race in Montreal that improvements were slowly being made to the car.

However, Horner was enraged by the FIA's short-term technical directive to allow the implementation of the second stay in cars to help stiffen their floor, with Mercedes the only team to attempt to do so.

"What was particularly disappointing was the second stay because that has to be discussed in a technical forum," Horner said.

"And that is overtly biased to sorting one team’s problems out, which were the only team that turned up here with it even in advance of the technical directive, so work that one out."

Russell has been one of the more vocal in calling for changes to counteract porpoising, while Hamilton's well-documented injury issues in Baku furthered his reason for concern with the W13 model.

But Horner assures Red Bull have had no similar problems, and thus it is an issue that Mercedes must fix themselves, without the FIA offering short-term technical directives.

"The issue with Mercedes is more severe than any other car," Horner added. "That surely is down to the team, that's within their control to deal with that.

"It's not affecting others. I know they've said that other drivers have been complaining, our drivers have never complained ever about porpoising. Certainly, we haven't had an issue with bouncing."

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer declared on Saturday that any team who ran the stay in qualifying and the race could be protested against, with the rules not matching the technical directive.

Horner agreed with Szafnauer as he lamented the FIA for their technical directive change.

"You can't just suddenly change technical regulations halfway through a season," the Red Bull chief continued. "If a car is dangerous, a team shouldn't field it. It has that choice.

"Or the FIA if they feel an individual car is dangerous they always have a black flag at their disposal."

The Tampa Bay Lightning have injected life into the Stanley Cup Final with a crucial 6-2 home win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3.

A Lightning loss would have given the Avalanche a near-insurmountable 3-0 series lead, but by getting the job done on their home ice, the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champions pegged the margin back to 2-1, with Game 4 also at home.

After a crushing 7-0 loss to the Avalanche in Game 2, the visitors threatened to put the series to bed by opening the scoring through a Gabriel Landeskog goal eight minutes in, but the Lightning would respond this time.

Anthony Cirelli was the man to find the back of the net and tie the game later in the first period, before Ondrej Palat got on the end of a Steven Stamkos pass to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead heading into the first break.

The two sides traded early goals as Nicholas Paul put the home side up 3-1 briefly, before Landeskog's second kept it a one-goal game – and then the Lightning took over.

A seven-minute barrage saw Tampa Bay add three quick goals to Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon and Corey Perry, giving the hosts plenty of breathing room and allowing them to turn the third period into a scoreless grind to come out with the victory.

Speaking to ESPN after the win, Stamkos said his side has too much self-belief to listen to those who had them written off after a couple of tough games away from home.

"They can say whatever we want – we know what we have in our dressing room," he said.

"We knew coming back home that we play well in front of our fans, and it was a great comeback tonight.

"It's a tough place to play in Colorado – they have a great team, they come out strong, they come out fast. But like I said the other day, we can do that on home ice too.

"It's a series now, and we've got some work to do between now and next game, but we've got another game at home and we'll look to continue this game that we played tonight."

Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon was not willing to overreact to the loss – his side's first road defeat of the playoffs so far, entering the contest 7-0 away from home.

"We're going to lose games," he said. "We've won every game on the road, so I guess we were kind of due for a tough night.

"It wasn't all bad – I thought we did a lot of good things. We controlled the play a lot, but every mistake we made they capitalised on, and that's how they play.

"They're a really, really good team, obviously – I don't have to say that – so we've got to be sharper."

New York Yankees ace pitcher Gerrit Cole was at the peak of his powers on Monday as he held the Tampa Bay Rays without a hit through the first seven innings in his side's 4-2 win.

Cole did not have to wait long for some run support, with Anthony Rizzo blasting a home run as the third batter of the game to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the opening frame.

After allowing a walk in the first inning, Cole locked in, striking out the next six batters he faced, and eight of the next 10.

The Yankees were able to double their lead in the seventh inning when Gleyber Torres came home on a fielding error, and at that point the Rays had still not registered a single hit.

Cole's no-hitter was broken up by Isaac Paredes as the lead-off batter in the eighth inning, signalling the end of his day. Cole finished with 12 strikeouts in seven-and-a-third innings, allowing three walks and one hit.

Shane McClanahan was similarly impressive for the Rays, striking out eight batters in six full innings, giving up one run from four hits and one walk as he continues to mount his case for the AL Cy Young Award.

Superstar relief pitcher Clay Holmes was brought in to tidy up the eighth inning and deliver the win for the Yankees, but he could not get the job done, allowing the Rays to tie the game at 2-2 for his first blown save of the season.

The Yankees would escape with the win, though, as Josh Donaldson's base hit turned into a run when Aaron Hicks hit a triple as the next batter, and Hicks was brought in by a Jose Trevino sacrifice-fly.

Pirates debutants shine

The Pittsburgh Pirates enjoyed a sparkling debut from top prospect Oneil Cruz as they defeated the Chicago Cubs 12-1 in front of their home fans.

The six-foot-seven Cruz started at shortstop in his first major league outing, having been called up from the minor leagues earlier in the week along with Bligh Madris.

His big moment came in the third inning with bases loaded, connecting on a double to center-field to drive in all three runs. He collected his fourth RBI of the game with a base hit in the seventh inning.

Madris was also impressive, finishing with three hits and two RBIs from his four at-bats, while starting pitcher J.T. Brubaker was finally credited with his first win of the season in his 14th start.

Vaughan helps White Sox edge the Blue Jays

Andrew Vaughan went four-for-four at the plate in the Chicago White Sox's 8-7 home win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

He had an RBI double as Chicago's second batter of the game, added a base hit in the third inning, and then blasted a 409-foot home run to center-field in the fourth frame, before capping off his night with another single in the sixth.

The White Sox also received big homers from Luis Robert (436 feet) and Josh Harrison (412 feet) to open up a 8-2 lead by the end of the fifth inning, and were just able to hold on down the stretch as Toronto threatened to steal it late.

The Phoenix Suns have hired Morgan Cato to their front office, making her among the highest-ranking women employed by an NBA team.  

The Suns have named Cato the franchise’s assistant general manager and vice president of basketball operations, placing her directly under general manager James Jones in the Phoenix front office. Cato is the first woman of colour to be named a team’s assistant GM.  

Cato spent the past 10 years working for the league office in New York, reporting to president of league operations Byron Spruell and strategising several growth initiatives, including the Basketball Africa League.  

With the Suns, Cato will help oversee front-office personnel decisions, coaching development and player engagement, ESPN reported.  

After an NBA best 64-18 record last season, Phoenix suffered a disappointing second-round playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks and now face a pivotal offseason.  

Among the most pressing items for the Suns’ front office will be determining the future of former number-one overall pick and restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, along with fellow centers JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo, who are unrestricted free agents.  

The Suns do not currently have any picks in the Thursday’s NBA Draft.  

Nick Kyrgios has become the first star to sign up to Naomi Osaka's sports agency. 

Australian Kyrgios was described by four-time grand slam winner Osaka as possessing an "unmatched style", while her business partner Stuart Duguid said the controversial ATP Tour player was "absolutely the icon" for young tennis fans. 

Osaka and Duguid, her long-time agent, announced the Evolve agency in May as both left IMG. 

Kyrgios, the extravagantly gifted world number 45, has won six career titles on the ATP Tour and has a world ranking high of number 13, with many considering him an unfulfilled talent. 

The 27-year-old won the Australian Open doubles title alongside countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis in January, and in singles he has reached consecutive semi-finals in his past three tournaments in Houston, Stuttgart and Halle. 

Osaka told Boardroom.TV that Kyrgios "embodies the types of athletes we want to work with". 

"He's got an unmatched style, passion and personality that is unlike any other in the sport," Osaka added. 

Duguid said: "Nick is the most talented and entertaining tennis player on the tour, bar none. His energy is infectious. And love or hate him, you definitely can't keep your eyes off him. For Gen Z and younger, he is absolutely the icon." 

While Kyrgios is planning to play at Wimbledon next week, Osaka will be absent, with the former world number one troubled by an Achilles injury. 

The Golden State Warriors celebrated their NBA championship with a parade through the streets of San Francisco on Monday.

A 103-90 success over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last Thursday clinched a 4-2 win for the Warriors, who lifted the Larry O'Brien Trophy for the first time since 2018.

It marked the culmination of a stunning recovery from Golden State, who lost Kevin Durant in free agency following the 2019 Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors and had the worst record in the league in the following season, with Klay Thompson missing the first of two straight years due to ACL damage and Stephen Curry playing just five games of the truncated campaign.

The Warriors lost a play-in game against the Memphis Grizzlies in 2020-21 but beat them en route to a fourth championship in eight years this season.

Curry, who was named Finals MVP for the first time in his decorated career, explained why he was so emotional after the latest success as he addressed fans who gathered to celebrate in the streets.

"Whether you say it out loud or you internalise it, you carry the journey with you," said Curry.

"To know what we've all been through, what my brother [Thompson] went through over almost three years, what we went through as a team to try to re-tool, regroup, rejuvenate what we had, and just taking snapshots of the last three years, all that came out when the final horn sounded.

"It wasn't just the work we put in last week, a month ago, it's the work we started when we changed buildings and trying to carry that championship DNA with us. But that emotion was everything, just letting it out and letting you know that we're back. What are they gonna say now?"

Garbine Muguruza recorded a much-needed win to reach the last 16 at the Eastbourne International.

World number 10 Muguruza, who had only won two tour-level matches since the start of March, was tested in a gripping second-set tie-break by Magdalena Frech, eventually triumphing 6-1 7-6 (9-7).

After the victory, Muguruza said she was pleased to have overcome challenging weather conditions to reach the next stage, saying: "I feel like I fought hard against the wind, and I haven't played many matches on grass either.

"I could see today that if I didn't fight as hard as I can, I wasn't going to win."

A minor upset saw 17th seed Alison Riske slip to a 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) loss to Magda Linette, while Yulia Putintseva surged to a 7-5 6-1 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo and seventh seed Barbora Krejcikova saw her contest with Marta Kostyuk halted by darkness at one set apiece.

Ajla Tomljanovic beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-0 4-6 6-3 and Heather Watson went down 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 to Canada's Rebecca Marino, as the Sussex crowds prepared for Serena Williams' eagerly anticipated doubles outing alongside Ons Jabeur on Tuesday.

There was frustration for Muguruza's fellow former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber at the Bad Homburg Open.

Kerber's match against Anastasia Gasanova got under way, but play was stopped due to fading light and a damp court after a rain-hit day. Third seed Kerber led 4-2 in the first set of a contest that will conclude on Tuesday.

The only other seed in action in Germany made routine progress, as France's Alize Cornet raced to a 6-2 6-4 win over Anna Kalinskaya.

Andy Murray is optimistic he will be fit for Wimbledon as the two-time champion races against time to overcome an abdominal injury. 

The 35-year-old British veteran has been a long-time home-crowd favourite at the London grand slam and reached the third round last year. 

Injuries have marred Murray's recent seasons, and he has defied most expectations by remaining on tour, recently climbing back into the world's top 50 for the first time in four years. 

The Scot slipped back to 51st this week after missing the Queen's Club Championships due to his injury setback. 

He said: "The injury is healing but still not perfect. My goal is to get to the start line in a good place physically and give myself the best chance to do well." 

Murray, quoted widely by UK media on Monday, said: "There have been positives and negatives this week. Positives are I've been able to practise, but there are certain shots I've not able to practise." 

Recently reunited with coach Ivan Lendl, who guided him to Wimbledon glory in 2013 and 2016, plus the US Open title in 2012, Murray believes he can recover full fitness in time for the championships, which start next Monday. 

"I've been practising for the past three or four days and have been practising well," he said. "But unfortunately in matches you can't just not hit certain shots. In the next couple of days hopefully I will get the chance to test that, and hopefully it will be fine." 

The former world number one produced a strong early result in the grass-court season, reaching the Stuttgart Open final before falling to Matteo Berrettini. 

Murray experienced discomfort during that showpiece match in Germany, twice requiring medical timeouts as he battled the pain against the Italian. 

Darius Lee, a highly rated Houston Baptist University basketball player, has died of a gunshot wound aged 21, the school announced on Monday. 

Lee was shot overnight while at a gathering in his hometown of Harlem, New York.

HBU director of athletics Steve Moniaci said: "This is unfortunately, yet again, another example of the senseless gun violence that seems to be plaguing our country right now and we all pray it will cease."

Lee was on track to graduate in December, having led the Huskies with 18.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in the 2021-22 season. He was also sixth in steals per game (2.4) across the whole of Division I.

Head coach Ron Cottrell said: "We are devastated. Darius was a remarkable young man who loved the Lord, his mum, his family, his team-mates, his friends and his entire HBU family.

"We are in shock and cannot wrap our heads around this news. My heart breaks for his mum, his sister and his entire family, and for our basketball team. The only thing we find comfort in right now is knowing where Darius is. He is in the arms of Jesus… we know that as fact. And we will see him again some day.

"As great of a basketball player as he was, he was an even better person. I can't even think of basketball right now. I can only think of what a light Darius was during his short time on Earth. He was a joy to coach and we loved him so much.

"Please keep his mum, sister and family in your prayers, as well as our HBU basketball family, during this very difficult time."

Justin Burrowes, Sebert Walker Jr., Ryan Lue and William Knibbs form part of a 12-member Jamaica team named for the 65th Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships in the Turks & Caicos Islands from August 1 to 6.

Rocco Lopez and Owen Samuda have also been named to the team for which Aman Dhiman is the reserve player. Lue, at 15 years, is making his debut as the youngest male player while Samuda is 52.

Meanwhile, Emily Mayne, Mattea Issa, Cameron March and Winni Lau comprise the female team with Eryn Blakely named as the reserve player.  Issa at 15 years is the youngest female player on the team but has experience under her belt as this is her second time on the senior team.

The team was named after a rigorous four-day national senior trials played at the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course on the first two days and Half Moon Golf Course on the final two days.  Sebert Walker Jr. topped the leaderboard for the first three days and was ahead by 11 shots at the end of day two but faltered badly and gave up the advantage to Justin Burrowes who won by a stroke on the final play.

Emily Mayne shared the lead between herself and Jodi Munn-Barrow over the four days but ended up winning by eight strokes and ending the trials on 309.

Former player Dr. Mark Newnham will serve as team manager.

The ladies will also be trying to take their first hold of the George Teale Trophy.  Last year, while not fielding a full-strength team, ended in fourth place.

Duhaney Park Red Sharks, Liguanea Dragons and Washington Bulls each recorded victories during week two of the Jamaica Rugby League National Club Championships on the weekend.

Ilya Ivashka earned a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Mallorca Championships, while Alex de Minaur got his Eastbourne International defence up and running with a straight-sets win on Monday.

A comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory over Emil Ruusuvuori sent Ivashka into the second round, where world number six Tsitsipas awaits after receiving a bye.

Mallorca third seed Denis Shapovalov will face Benjamin Bonzi who benefited as Alejandro Tabilo retired while trailing 6-3 4-2 to the Frenchman.

Roberto Bautista Agut overcame Taro Daniel 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to advance, while Antoine Bellier defeated Federico Delbonis 6-3 7-6 (8-6) and Feliciano Lopez fell to a 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3) loss to Tallon Griekspoor.

De Minaur took an hour and 23 minutes to get past Cristian Garin 6-3 6-3 for a strong start in his bid to retain the trophy in Eastbourne.

The Australian will either face compatriot James Duckworth or Lorenzo Sonego, who he defeated in the final last year, in round two.

Fifth seed Reilly Opelka fell to a 6-3 6-1 defeat against tournament debutant Maxime Cressy, while Alexander Bublik was three points away from losing to Frances Tiafoe before rallying back to win 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-0.

Bublik will face John Millman next after the Australian overcame Sebastian Korda 6-3 7-6 (7-5), while top seed Cameron Norrie awaits Brandon Nakashima and Diego Schwartzman is next in line for Jack Draper.

Korda withdrew from Wimbledon after the defeat to Millman, the 21-year-old American saying on Twitter he was suffering with "terrible shin splints and beaten up feet" and needed a rest.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said swimming's global governing body was acting in its "best interest" by launching measures that will see transgender women banned from racing against elite female competitors.

FINA [Federation Internationale de Natation] announced on Sunday that it would bar all transgender women who had experienced any stage of male puberty from racing in women's events.

It marked a distinct shift in policy for a major sport and was welcomed by long-time campaigners, including the British former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies.

There have been calls for other sports to following swimming's example and move away from eligibility policies that are based on testosterone limits; however, LGBT advocacy groups have strongly criticised FINA's move.

US-based group Athlete Ally said FINA's restrictions were "discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 IOC [International Olympic Committee] principles".

The swimming authority said the regulation had been voted in by a 71.5 per cent majority after FINA commission members heard from an athletes' group, a science and medicine group, and a legal and human rights group.

Athletics has yet to commit to a similar policy, but Coe's indication of support for FINA's position points to that being a possibility in the future.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Coe said: "We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport.

"This is as it should be. We have always believed that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this. We will follow the science.

"We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant in performance, and have scheduled a discussion on our regulations with our council at the end of the year."

 

Eddie Jones believes that England have a strong squad for the tour of Australia despite injury absences as he highlighted the importance of the upcoming matches ahead of next year's World Cup.

The three-Test tour begins in Perth on July 2 and England head into it on the back of Sunday's 52-21 drubbing at the hands of the Barbarians on Sunday.

Significant absentees include Alex Dombrandt, Manu Tuilagi, Sam Simmonds and Kyle Sinckler, leading Jones to recall Billy Vunipola, who was last capped in the 2021 Six Nations, and eight uncapped players have also been selected.

While there are big names absent and uncapped players among the roster, Jones believes that the squad is more than capable of making a positive impression in the tour.

"Though we have ten players unavailable due to injury, we have picked a very strong squad capable of winning the series," he told a news conference.

"This squad is a real mix of young, talented players and some very experienced, senior players and we're looking forward to bringing the group together.

"This tour will be a great experience for the group and a crucial part of the team's work towards the World Cup in 2023. We will continue to develop the base of the squad and how we want to play.

"We've put a lot of work into preparing for the tour over the past few weeks but now the hard work really begins when we finally get the squad on the plane and to Australia."

On the injuries that have plagued the side, he added: "It's no concern because I can't control it. We can only pick from the players we have available. And I think generally now in a four-year cycle the only time you get close to having 100 per cent of your is the World Cup, with that three-month lead up."

Jones' next big decision is on who will captain the side in the absence of Owen Farrell, and he confirmed that call will be made once the squad arrives in Perth.

"Well once we get into Perth we'll start preparing and we'll announce the captaincy in due course," he added.

Serena Williams will find it "super difficult" to challenge for an eighth Wimbledon singles title when she returns to SW19 next week, according to Karolina Pliskova.

Williams announced her participation at Wimbledon after receiving a wildcard last week, having been absent since a first-round retirement against Aliaksandra Sasnovich at The All England Club last year.

The American great will team up with Ons Jabeur to play doubles at Eastbourne over the coming days as the 40-year-old prepares for her Wimbledon return.

But Pliskova, who lost last year's Wimbledon final to Ashleigh Barty, says Williams could struggle to match her previous exploits after coming back from a long-term leg injury.

"I don't know how long it has been since she has played. Has it been a year? It is a long time, and she is not the youngest any more, so I suppose the body also takes some time to get back into shape," Pliskova said ahead of her own campaign at Eastbourne.

"Playing matches at tournaments is still very different to just practising and from what I understand, she is not playing [singles] here, she is just playing doubles.

"I think it will be difficult, super difficult for her, no matter what kind of player she is because this is a thing where you still need some time.

"But of course, she is an amazing player, she achieved so much and still a number of players will be super scared to play her. This is her advantage but let's see the level. I cannot really say."

Pliskova has won two of her three grand slam meetings with Williams, eliminating her at the quarter-final stage at the 2019 Australian Open and in the final four at the 2016 US Open.

While the world number seven may have cast doubt upon Williams' chances, Paula Badosa is not keen on the prospect of facing the 23-time major champion on the grass.

"I think it surprised everyone but it's very good to have her back. It really amazes me how she has all this hunger for the game," the world number four said.

"It is a great inspiration. It is nice to have her back and I hope she can be back for much more time because I think she does very good for tennis.

"But the other side, of course I don't want to play against her! I hope the draw goes for another player because no one wants to play against Serena and [even] less on grass. Let's pray for that!"

Ons Jabeur has announced she will not take part in the singles tournament at the Eastbourne International.

Jabeur will continue to play in the doubles, where she will pair with American legend Serena Williams, who has not played a competitive match since a first-round defeat at Wimbledon last year.

The news of the Tunisian's withdrawal from the singles tournament comes on the same day that she was elevated to world number three, after her victory at the Berlin Open on Sunday.

She beat Belinda Bencic in the final after her Swiss opponent retired with an ankle injury.

"I feel like I need to be smart about this decision," Jabeur told reporters about her choice not to play singles at Eastbourne.

Jabeur and Williams will face off against the unseeded duo Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round on Tuesday.

 

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