Today’s sports news: What you need to know
Latest – Dominic Thiem came back from the brink of defeat to beat Novak Djokovic in a gripping last-four clash at the ATP Finals in London as he reached the final for the second successive year.
The 27-year-old Austrian appeared to be sliding to defeat when he trailed 0-4 in the third-set tiebreak but stormed back to claim a 7-5 6-7(10) 7-6(5) victory in just under three hours.
Thiem will now try to complete a remarkable year, in which he claimed his first Grand Slam title by winning the US Open, against either Rafa Nadal or Daniil Medvedev in tomorrow’s climax.
“It was a mental battle, I got so tight in the second-set tiebreak,” Thiem, who avenged his defeat by Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open final, said on court.
“To play these legends is always special and to play here is also something special. I thought after winning the title in New York I would be more calm, but that was a mistake I guess.”
Thiem will attempt to go one better than last year when he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.
Defeat means Djokovic will have to wait until the event moves to Turin next year, after 12 years in London, to try again to equal Roger Federer’s six titles at the year-ender.
Spurs go top
Tottenham Hotspur moved top of the English Premier League after a classic Jose Mourinho inspired performance delivered a 2-0 victory over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Goals in each half from Son Heung-min and substitute Giovani lo Celso, secured the three points and a fourth straight league win for Spurs, who are two points ahead of second-placed Chelsea.
The victory was the first time Mourinho has enjoyed back-to-back wins over his old rival Guardiola.
Earlier Chelsea had gone top after a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United courtesy of an own goal by Federico Fernandez and Tammy Abraham’s second-half effort.
Aston Villa missed a chance to go top after a 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion, who celebrated their first Premier League victory since September.
England too good for Ireland
Winger Jonny May scored twice, including a superb solo try, as a dominant England overwhelmed an inexperienced Ireland 18-7 to make it two wins out of two in the Nations Cup.
England top the group A standings with nine points with one game remaining away to Wales next week and remain on course for a potential competition decider at home against France or Scotland, who meet tomorrow.
It was something of a strange performance from England, who were always in control but barely fired an attacking shot in the second half, seemingly content to display their admittedly impressive defensive organisation and aggression as Ireland banged away in midfield.
Nonetheless, it was their fourth successive win over Ireland and gave Eddie Jones another useful pointer about where his team need to develop.
Teenage winger Louis Rees-Zammit scored a maiden try on his first start as a youthful Wales ended a six-game losing streak with an 18-0 victory over Georgia in Llanelli.
Wales remained third in Group A, five points behind leaders England, who they host next Saturday, and they handed debuts to flanker James Botham, grandson of former England cricketer Ian, scrumhalf Kieran Hardy, centre Johnny Williams and teenage flyhalf Ioan Lloyd.
Georgia showed improvement from their 40-0 drubbing by England last time out, but were surprisingly outmuscled in the scrum and have now scored only seven points in their last three tests.
TA say moving date of Australian Open is speculation
Tennis Australia has dismissed reports claiming the start of the Australian Open is set to be pushed back from January to February or March next year due to Covid-19 protocols in the country.
The Herald Sun newspaper reported the year’s first Grand Slam risked being deferred even as the organisers discuss quarantine arrangements with the Victoria state government.
“It’s pure speculation,” a TA spokesperson said.
“Earlier in the week we… (said) how we continue to work closely with the Victorian government and we will update with more information as soon as possible, and there’s no update from that at the moment.”
The report quoted Victoria premier Daniel Andrews as saying he was “very confident” of hosting the Grand Slam but the exact timing and arrangements “are not settled yet”.
The TA had planned for players and their entourages to arrive in Victoria in mid-December to have time to undertake a mandatory two-week quarantine period before competing in Melbourne in January.
Devine in fine form again
White Ferns captain Sophie Devine has led the Perth Scorchers to a commanding win in Australia’s Twenty20 cricket competition on her return from injury.
Devine has smashed 87 from 53 deliveries, clubbing eight fours and five sixes, as the Scorchers have beaten the Hobart Hurricanes by 10 wickets in Sydney.
She shared in an unbroken 140-run opening stand with Australian opener Beth Mooney, who together chased down the required 135 required for victory with 5.2 overs to spare.
Devine didn’t bowl after missing Perth’s last two matches with a back injury.
The 10-wicket win lifts the Scorchers to third on the table with a round to play.
The Melbourne Stars and Brisbane Heat are guaranteed places in the finals, while the Scorchers, Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers are vying for the other two spots.