Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's singles final tennis match at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open 2022 on Oct. 2, 2022. (AFP)
Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's singles final tennis match at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open 2022 on Oct. 2, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 19 October 2022

Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title

Novak Djokovic wins Tel Aviv final against Cilic for 89th career title
  • Djokovic, who didn’t drop a set all week, now heads to the Astana ATP tournament where world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz takes the top seeding

TEL AVIV: Novak Djokovic claimed his third title of 2022 and 89th of his career with an impressive straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic in the Tel Aviv final on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 6-4 to add the Israeli trophy to victories in Rome and Wimbledon this season.

It was Djokovic’s 19th win over Cilic in 21 meetings in a rivalry stretching back to 2008.

Djokovic was playing his first singles tournament since wrapping up a seventh Wimbledon crown and 21st Grand Slam title in July.

He was banned from the US Open and the entire North American hard court swing over his refusal to be vaccinated before returning for Roger Federer’s farewell in the Laver Cup team event in London last month.

“It was really a special week, I felt at home with all your support,” top-seeded Djokovic told the crowd before turning to Cilic who turned 34 last Wednesday.

“I’m sure we going to keep beating all these young players for a while yet.”

On Sunday, Djokovic, playing in his 127th final, broke Cilic in the second game of the final and pocketed the first set with a fourth ace after 47 minutes on court.

Former US Open winner Cilic, chasing a 21st career title but first of 2022, was broken in the first game of the second set and never recovered.

The Serb only faced one break point in the final which was clinched in 94 minutes.

Djokovic, who didn’t drop a set all week, now heads to the Astana ATP tournament where world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz takes the top seeding.


Cameroon first African team to taste victory against Brazil at a World Cup

Cameroon first African team to taste victory against Brazil at a World Cup
Updated 03 December 2022

Cameroon first African team to taste victory against Brazil at a World Cup

Cameroon first African team to taste victory against Brazil at a World Cup
  • Despite the victory on Friday, Cameroon finished third in their group and was eliminated

AP LUSAIL, Qatar: Cameroon coach Rigobert Song came full circle on a memorable and bittersweet night for African soccer.

Jerome Ngom Mbekeli, the only member of Cameroon’s team who plays for a Cameroonian club, made an inspiring run and cross to set up Vincent Aboubakar’s header and stoppage-time winner in a 1-0 victory to make the Indomitable Lions the first African nation to beat Brazil at a World Cup.

Despite the victory on Friday, Cameroon finished third in their group and was eliminated.

The 24-year-old Ngom Mbekeli was Cameroon’s final substitution, coming on four minutes from time. Song credited his own former coach, Henri Michel, for giving him an opportunity in 1994 when he played for local club Tonnerre Yaounde as he was making his World Cup debut.

“You need to trust youth,” Song said through a translator. “Henri Michel gave me an opportunity. He saw the potential in me. Now I’m the coach and I see potential in my young players.

“I knew (Ngom Mbekeli) was a good, quality player. He just needed an opportunity to show that. Hopefully his performance can motivate other local players.”

Goalkeeper Devis Epassy — thrust into action after usual starter Andre Onana was sent home for disciplinary reasons after a dispute with Song before Cameroon’s previous game — earned player of the match honors for a series of difficult saves.

“No one knew me — even in Cameroon — until I started playing for the national team a year ago,” Epassy said through a translator. “We can be proud of what we’ve done tonight. We showed that we can also be a top team.”

Both Epassy and Aboubakar play for clubs in Saudi Arabia.

With eight goals in seven games, the 22-year-old Aboubakar was the top scorer at the African Cup of Nations in January.

Song and Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon’s soccer federation president, are instilling a strict discipline policy modeled after the European clubs that they once played for — Song as a reliable defender and Eto’o as a standout striker.

“That’s where we let ourselves down in the past,” Song said. “Perhaps we didn’t do everything right, so we’re focusing on discipline.

“The team always needs to take precedent over individuals. When you play for the national team you need to do what’s expected of you.”

While Brazil had already advanced and used mostly reserves, Cameroon still became the first team to beat the five-time champion in the World Cup group stage since Norway did it at the 1998 tournament in France — ending an unbeaten run of 17 group matches.

“We realize now that we could have done better,” Song said. “But we’re a young team and today we’ve seen a young team getting stronger and stronger, and they should be congratulated on their performance.

“It’s a real shame that we have to go home now,” Song added. “But we are going to keep working and keep improving.”


Anthony Davis, LeBron James take charge as Lakers beat Bucks in thriller

Anthony Davis, LeBron James take charge as Lakers beat Bucks in thriller
Updated 03 December 2022

Anthony Davis, LeBron James take charge as Lakers beat Bucks in thriller

Anthony Davis, LeBron James take charge as Lakers beat Bucks in thriller
  • Miami had a split of two games in Boston, beating the Celtics after Boston’s Jaylen Brown banked in a long 3-pointer to force overtime

MILWAUKEE: Anthony Davis scored a season-high 44 points, LeBron James overtook Magic Johnson on the NBA’s career assists list and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 133-129 in a thriller Friday night.

Davis and James helped give Lakers coach Darvin Ham a triumphant return to Milwaukee. Ham worked on Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s staff from 2018-22, and the former colleagues shared a big hug before the game.

Ham, an assistant coach on Milwaukee’s 2021 championship team, also played for the Bucks from 1999-2002.

The Lakers withstood a 40-point night from Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who also had seven rebounds and five assists. The Lakers also spoiled the season debut of Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, who had 17 points and seven assists in his return from offseason wrist surgery.

During a fourth quarter that featured three ties and six lead changes, James put the Lakers ahead for good by sinking a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:22 left.

James finished with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. He improved his career assist total to 10,144 and moved into sixth place on the list, ahead of Johnson (10,133).

HEAT 120 CELTICS 116, OT

In Boston, Bam Adebayo scored 28 points, Tyler Herro had 26 and Miami completed a split of two games in Boston, beating the Celtics after Boston’s Jaylen Brown banked in a long 3-pointer to force overtime.

Heat scoring leader Jimmy Butler returned to the lineup and had 25 points in 36 minutes after missing the previous seven games with a sore right knee. He added 15 rebounds.

Kyle Lowry chipped in with 20 points before fouling out in OT for the Heat, who sent Boston to just its second loss in 16 games.

Brown sent the game to overtime by banking in his long 3 with 1.7 seconds to play in regulation. He finished with 37 points.

Boston star Jayson Tatum scored just 14 points on a cold shooting night, going 5 of 18 from the floor, including 0 of 7 on 3-point attempts. He had 49 points in the Celtics’ 134-121 victory on Wednesday night.

ROCKETS 122 SUNS 121

In Phoenix, Jalen Green scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half and Houston overcame a 16-point deficit to stun short-handed Phoenix.

Houston won after blowing a six-point lead in the final two minutes. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne made back-to-back 3-pointers to tie it at 121, but the Rockets pushed ahead by a point when Green made one of two free throws with 28.8 seconds remaining.

That set up a frantic final possession that included four missed shots by the Suns, including a 16-foot jumper by Booker at the buzzer.

It was one of the few blemishes for Booker, who led the Suns with 41 points on 15-of-25 shooting. The three-time All-Star is in the midst of one of the best scoring stretches of his career. He had 44 points at Sacramento on Monday night and 51 against Chicago at home Wednesday night.

HAWKS 117 NUGGETS 109

In Atlanta, Dejounte Murray scored 34 points, rookie A.J. Griffin tied a career high with 24 subbing for injured Trae Young and short-handed Atlanta beat Denver.

Denver star Nikola Jokic, the two-time defending NBA MVP, had just four points in the first half on 2-of-5 shooting, but finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The Hawks were riddled with injuries before the game with Young, their leading scorer, sidelined by soreness in his right shoulder and John Collins out at least two weeks and De’Andre Hunter out at least one week. In all, Atlanta had eight players listed on the injury report.

HORNETS 117 WIZARDS 116

In Charlotte, N.C.,Terry Rozier scored 25 points, Kelly Oubre Jr. added 22 and Charlotte held off a second-half rally by Bradley Beal and Washington to hand the Wizards their fifth loss in six games.

P.J. Washington had 21 points and Mason Plumlee added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets. They have won three of their last four.

Beal scored 33 points, but turned the ball over twice and missed an open jumper in the final minute with Washington trailing by one.

NETS 114 RAPTORS 105

In New York, Kyrie Irving scored 27 points and Brooklyn built a huge lead in beating Toronto for their fourth victory in a row.

Brooklyn led by 36 points midway through the second quarter and held a 93-72 advantage at the start of the fourth.

Kevin Durant had 17 points and Nic Claxton added 15 for the Nets.

Pascal Siakam scored 24 points for Toronto.

PELICANS 117 SPURS 99

In San Antonio, Zion Williamson scored 30 points and matched a career high with 15 rebounds and New Orleans past San Antonio, with the Spurs without coach Gregg Popovich.

Jonas Valanciunas added 21 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, which has won three straight and eight of 10 to remain atop the Southwest Division ahead of Memphis.

San Antonio has lost 10 straight, matching the franchise’s longest losing streak set in 1987.

Popovich was at the AT&T Cente.r but missed the game due to a minor medical procedure. He will also miss a home game Sunday against Phoenix. Former Philadelphia coach Brett Brown coached the Spurs in Popovich’s absence.

GRIZZLIES 117 76ERS 109

In Memphis, Tennessee, Ja Morant had 28 points and eight rebounds, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 22 points and four blocks — one in the closing minute — and Memphis beat Philadelphia.

Dillon Brooks finished with 17 points to help Memphis win for third time in four games.

Joel Embiid had 35 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Philadelpia. Tobias Harris added 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Shake Milton had 17 points and six assists.

The Grizzlies led by 18 early in the fourth, but the 76ers had another push left, cutting the Memphis lead to single digits with about five minutes left and to 111-106 with three minutes to go.

CAVALIERS 107 MAGIC 96

In Cleveland, Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points, Evan Mobley had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Cleveland beat Orlando.

Mitchell poured in 16 points in the first nine minutes, outscoring Orlando himself by one, and the Cavaliers never relinquished control. Cleveland eventually led by 20 in winning for the 10th time in 11 home games this season.

Rookie forward Paolo Banchero scored 22 points for NBA-worst Orlando. They have lost seven straight to fall to 5-18.


Scheffler makes a late bid to return to No. 1 

Scheffler makes a late bid to return to No. 1 
Updated 03 December 2022

Scheffler makes a late bid to return to No. 1 

Scheffler makes a late bid to return to No. 1 
  • Scheffler spent more weeks at No. 1 than anyone this year, which earns him the Mark H. McCormack Award

NASSAU, Bahamas: The degree Masters champion Scottie Scheffler earned from the McCombs School of Business at Texas did not equip him with the skills to figure out the new formula for the Official World Golf Ranking.

He is No. 2 in the world. He can go back to No. 1 if he wins the Hero World Challenge, simple as that.

“I don’t like being No. 2,” he said. “I don’t like finishing second.”

Scheffler took a step in that direction in the relentless wind at Albany. He ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine for a 4-under 68, leaving him in the group one shot behind defending champion Viktor Hovland.

Hovland knows a little about wind. The Norwegian saw enough of it during his amateur days across Europe, and then he starred at Oklahoma State.

Hovland made eagle for the second straight day — the other 19 players have combined for one eagle this week — had three straight birdies on the back nine and had a 70. He was at 5-under 139.

Scores typically are much lower in the holiday event Tiger Woods hosts for a 20-man field of elite players in the Bahamas. The course was soaked and played long on Thursday. It dried out in 30 mph wind on Friday.

Xander Schauffele leaned on exquisite wedge play for a 68 and joined Scheffler, Cameron Young (69) and Collin Morikawa (71) in the group one shot behind.

Tom Kim dropped two shots on the final three holes and that gave him a 72, leaving him two shots behind. That’s not the reason the 20-year-old South Korean raised both arms after he had signed his card. Scrolling through his phone, he learned South Korea had advanced to the knockout stage in the World Cup.

“Goose bumps,” Kim said as he stretched out his arms.

Scheffler spent more weeks at No. 1 than anyone this year, which earns him the Mark H. McCormack Award. That was a product of four wins against strong fields in the spring, including his first major. The Masters was his last win.

Rory McIlroy replaced him with a win in South Carolina in October, and now Scheffler has a chance to grab it back, even if for a short time. McIlroy is expected to be No. 1 when the year ends regardless of what happens in the Bahamas.

The model went from rating the top 200 players in a field based on their world ranking to rating everyone in the field using the “strokes gained” formula, which measure actual scores and adjusts for relative difficulty of each round.

It favors deeper fields, regardless of how many of the top players are there. And it won’t be fully integrated until next August.

But there has been no shortage of complaints, with even Woods weighing in this week that it’s a flawed system. Some of the criticism stems from the new formula not giving as much credit to smaller fields compared with full fields.

“I think now I would say the top players are not bringing as much weight to events as they should,” Scheffler said.

The Hero World Challenge has 15 of the top 20 in the world. It also has only 20 players, and so the winner will get slightly fewer points than the winner of the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

“But it’s also really tough to rank golfers when they’re not playing the same schedule,” Scheffler said. “So I think as we all start to play together more often and you get the best players playing together more often, it’s going to be much easier to rank those guys.

“It’s a tough system. It’s not something that’s easy to get right,” he said. “In other sports, you have a record and golf is not necessarily a record. It’s a challenging system. I think they went from one extreme to the other, and we’ll meet in the middle, hopefully, and find something that’s a little bit better.”

The ultimate measure remains the low score, and that belongs to Hovland. Woods, who is not playing this week because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, is the only player to have won the World Challenge in consecutive years.

He’s not sure how he’s getting it done, especially in this wind.

“It’s kind of strange, like I knew it was windy and I feel like I missed so many putts,” Hovland said. “And I still don’t feel like I’m hitting it very good. I’m not comfortable over the ball, but the ball’s going straight and I’m giving myself looks.”
 


Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 in final group game at World Cup

Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 in final group game at World Cup
Updated 03 December 2022

Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 in final group game at World Cup

Cameroon beat Brazil 1-0 in final group game at World Cup
  • Aboubakar was sent off with a second yellow card for taking off his shirt during his celebration
  • Brazil finished with six points, the same as Switzerland

LUSAIL, Qatar: Vincent Aboubakar scored with a header two minutes into stoppage time in Cameroon’s 1-0 win over Brazil at the World Cup on Friday, a result that still allowed the five-time champions to win the group and eliminated the Africans.
Aboubakar was then sent off with a second yellow card for taking off his shirt during his celebration.
Brazil, which had already reached the knockout stage after victories over Serbia and Switzerland, will face South Korea in the round of 16.
Brazil finished with six points, the same as Switzerland but the South Americans had a better goal difference. The Swiss also advanced and will face Portugal. Cameroon ended with four points and Serbia one.
Coach Tite rested nearly all of his regular starters and made 10 changes from the win against Switzerland on Monday.
Brazil was still without the injured Neymar, but the star forward was at Lusail Stadium to watch the match with his teammates.


Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup

Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup
Updated 03 December 2022

Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup

Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 to reach last 16 of World Cup
  • Remo Freuler scored the winning goal just after halftime as the Swiss secured second place in Group G
  • They will next face Portugal on Tuesday at Lusail Stadium

DOHA: Switzerland advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup for the third tournament in a row after a 3-2 win over Serbia on Friday.
Remo Freuler scored the winning goal just after halftime as the Swiss secured second place in Group G. They will next face Portugal on Tuesday at Lusail Stadium.
Xherdan Shaqiri put Switzerland ahead early in the first half before Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic responded for Serbia. Breel Embolo evened the score just before halftime.
Switzerland needed a win to guarantee themselves a place in the knockout round after beating Cameroon and losing to Brazil in their opening two games. The team reached the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and again four years later in Russia. They lost 1-0 in both matches, to Argentina and Sweden, respectively.
Against Portugal, the Swiss will be looking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since hosting the competition in 1954.