I Dig Sports
Roger Federer has confirmed he will play in this year's French Open as he continues his return from injury.
Federer, 39, is making his comeback after two knee operations and has not played a Grand Slam since January 2020.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner made his return after 14 months out at last month's Qatar Open but has not played since.
On Sunday, he said will play the clay-court Geneva Open in May followed by Roland Garros, which begins on 30 May.
Federer, who won his only French Open title in 2009, overcame Britain's Dan Evans in his comeback match in Doha last month but was then beaten by Nikoloz Basilashvili in the next round.
After losing to Novak Djokovic in the 2020 Australian Open, he had an operation on his right knee and after a further setback was ruled out of the entire coronavirus-hit season.
He had hoped to return at this year's Australian Open in January but "ran out of time" to regain fitness.
Federer sat out three consecutive French Opens from 2016 because of injury and a wish to manage his workload but returned in 2019, reaching the semi-finals.
Rafael Nadal won last year's men's singles title at Roland Garros to equal Federer's haul of 20 Grand Slams.
England captain Owen Farrell returned for Saracens to lead them to a big Championship win at Doncaster.
Farrell and fellow England players Mako and Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, Jamie George and Elliot Daly all started.
Eight tries saw Sarries end Doncaster's unbeaten start and move them a point behind the Knights in third place.
Aled Davies with a brace, Alex Lewington, Sean Maitland, Itoje, Michael Rhodes, Tom Woolstencroft and Tom Whiteley all got on the scoresheet.
Doncaster scored two late tries through Jack Davies and Jack Spittle but they were beaten for the first time in six games.
Farrell played 53 minutes, kicking three conversions as Saracens scored five tries before half-time. His neat grubber kick also set Scotland international Maitland clear for an early try at Castle Park.
All of the England players were withdrawn by the final quarter after Itoje had added to his two tries against Bedford last Sunday with their third score of the first half, a pick-and-go from close range.
Daly, starting at outside centre, also played a key role in setting up scrum-half Davies' second try while Farrell and Mako Vunipola combined with breaks to set up Rhodes' score.
Saracens have now won four out of five matches after losing their opening-round fixture at Cornish Pirates.
They will need to finish in the top two of the table after the round-robin stage of 10 matches to qualify for the promotion play-off in June.
They host unbeaten leaders Ealing Trailfinders next Sunday in their bid to make an immediate return to the Premiership.
Doncaster: McBryde; Evans, Foley, Edwards, Spittle; Olver, Warr; Cade, Hunter, Foster, Challinor, Sexton, Joyce, Graham, Volpi.
Replacements: Roberts, Pieterse, Jones, Britton, Smith, Mitchell, Newey, Davies.
Saracens: Obatoyinbo; Lewington, Daly, Tompkins, Maitland; Farrell, Davies; Mako Vunipola, George, Koch, Itoje, Swinson, Rhodes, Reffell, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Woolstencroft, Barrington, Clarey, Hunter-Hill, Christie, Whiteley, Manu Vunipola, Morris.
Ben Spencer converted a late try to give Bath victory over Leicester Tigers and keep alive their hopes of a top-four Premiership finish.
Will Muir crossed for the opening try, but Tigers led 9-7 at the break through three George Ford penalties.
Matias Moroni's score and another Ford penalty extended the lead, but Bath had hope when Miles Reid crashed over.
Trailing 20-14 with three minutes left, Muir crossed in the left-hand corner and Spencer calmly added the extras.
Bath leapfrog Leicester to go seventh and move 10 points off a play-off place, while Leicester are 12 points behind fourth-placed Harlequins.
Late Bath rally denies Tigers
In warm and sunny conditions, Bath had more territory and possession in the first half, but Leicester took advantage of their opportunities through the boot of England international Ford.
Tigers looked on course for a rare away win at the Rec when slick hands spread the ball wide for Argentina centre Moroni to score, and Ford extended their lead to 10 points midway through the second period.
But Bath rallied in the final 15 minutes as Reid capped a spell of pressure and Spencer converted to cut the deficit to three points.
Ford's fifth penalty of the afternoon gave the visitors some breathing space, but Jasper Wiese gave away a penalty which allowed the hosts to kick into the corner and set the platform for Muir's late score.
The two clubs could yet meet in the final of the European Challenge Cup, but the prospect of a play-off place now looks more distant for Leicester, whose wait goes on for a first league win at Bath since March 2011.
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper told BBC Radio Bristol:
"It was always going to be a proper nip-and-tuck game.
"What we did throughout was stick to a structured way that we wanted to play.
"In the first half we gave the ball away a bit too easily in the final third, but in the second half we controlled the game.
"Ben stepped up and kicked the match-winning conversion. It was the wrong side for him and as wide as it gets, but he nailed it."
Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick told BBC Radio Leicester:
"I think there is plenty for us to learn from the game.
"The players' effort was absolutely magnificent and ultimately we gave them field position late in the game, and we know they are a good side.
"We knew it was going to be a big challenge here, but there are positives to take.
"Each week we try and take small steps forward."
Bath: Watson; Cokanasiga, Joseph, Redpath, Muir; J Matavesi, Spencer; Obano, Walker, Stuart, McNally, Ewels (capt), Faletau, Underhill, Mercer.
Replacements: Du Toit, J Schoeman, Thomas, Williams, Reid, Chudley, Bailey, Gray.
Leicester: Steward; Potter, Moroni, Kelly, Murimurivalu; Ford, B Youngs; Genge, T Youngs (capt), Cole, Wells, Green, Martin, Reffell, Wiese.
Replacements: Clare, De Bruin, Heyes, Lavanini, Wallace, Wigglesworth, McPhillips, Scott.
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU).
IMOLA, Italy – Max Verstappen was lights out during Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, easily capturing his first Formula One victory of the season as chaos ensued behind him.
Verstappen was quick to assert himself, launching from third to first on the opening lap in soggy conditions to take the lead from Lewis Hamilton before the first lap was completed.
The Red Bull driver would remain the leader until lap 27, when he hit the pits to switch from intermediate to medium tires. Hamilton inherited the lead, but only for one lap as Verstappen quickly returned to the race lead when Hamilton made his stop.
Hamilton was still within striking distance at that point, but it wouldn’t last long as the seven-time Formula One champion locked up and slid into a gravel trap at Tosa. The incident dropped him from second to eighth.
Moments later Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was involved in a major crash with the Williams driven by George Russell that saw both cars destroyed as they fought for position at the back of the top-10.
The resulting crash and cleanup led to a red flag, which saved Hamilton as he was able to make up a lot of lost time. However, he was still deep in the pack with Verstappen at the front of the field ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
When racing resumed Norris quickly dispatched Leclerc for second, but Verstappen easily pulled away. Meanwhile, Hamilton began his march back through the pack. By lap 43 Hamilton had made it to fifth and on lap 50 he moved into fourth. Five laps later Hamilton dispatched Leclerc for third to return to the podium.
Finally, with only a handful of laps left, Hamilton blew by Norris to move into second. All that happened more than 20 seconds behind Verstappen, who cruised to his first victory of the season and his first Formula One victory in Italy.
“It was very challenging out there, especially in the beginning,” Verstappen said. “It was very hard to stay on track to be honest. It was very slippery. Then of course the tires degraded in the wet and choosing the right moment to go on slicks is never easy. I think we managed everything well.”
Hamilton, who retained the championship lead by one point over Verstappen, admitted he simply made a mistake when he locked up and slid into the gravel trap while running second midway through the race.
“On my side, it was not the greatest of days. First time I’ve made a mistake in a long time,” Hamilton said. “I’m grateful I was able to bring the car home still.”
Norris held on to finish third to claim the final spot on the podium, his second in Formula One. Leclerc faded to fourth at the finish, with his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. taking fifth.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was sixth, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly promoted to seventh after Lance Stroll was penalized five seconds for an illegal overtake.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen was originally scored eighth, but he was penalized 30 seconds for breaching the rolling restart procedure. That dropped him out of the points and elevated Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso to ninth and 10th, respectively.
LEEDS, Ala. – Christian Rasmussen was a dominant force in Sunday’s second leg of the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tires, but it was Hunter McElrea who claimed the victory spoils following a dramatic 30-lap contest.
Rasmussen was first to the checkered flag despite a quick spin in the closing stages, but the Dane was adjudged to have unfairly impeded his rival, McElrea, as he attempted to maintain his lead following the error. The resulting five-second penalty dropped Rasmussen to second in the final results, handing McElrea his second Indy Pro 2000 victory for Pabst Racing after also claiming the final race of the 2020 finale in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Artem Petrov finished third for Exclusive Autosport, chased across the line by teammate Braden Eves, who still leads the Indy Pro 2000 standings following his victory in Saturday’s opening round.
Rasmussen, the winner of last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, started from the pole after securing the Cooper Tires Pole Award in qualifying on Friday, and soon took control of the race for Jay Howard Driver Development. As with Eves Saturday, Rasmussen was content to build his speed steadily in the early stages, which allowed McElrea to stay in touch, but a series of 11 incrementally faster laps enabled the Dane to extend his lead to over two seconds.
Rasmussen continued to extend his advantage to over six seconds before making an uncharacteristic mistake on lap 23 in turn five. He was able to regain control of the car but made several blocking maneuvers in order to make sure there was no way for McElrea to slip past. He was successful in that quest but the moves did not escape the purview of race control, which soon issued a five-second penalty in accordance with the regulations which expressly prohibit drivers from making any reactionary moves to maintain position.
Rasmussen put his head down and seemed to be on course possibly to overcome the time penalty as he completed lap 28 with an advantage of 3.8 seconds over McElrea after resetting fastest lap of the race – and his own lap record, which he had set on Saturday – at 1:16.6098 (108.080 mph). But his next lap was fully three-quarters of a lap slower, and McElrea was able to complete the final lap within 3.6 seconds of Rasmussen to assure himself of the win by 1.4102 seconds.
McElrea’s efforts moved him to third in the championship points table, just six shy of Eves, and secured a first PFC Award of the Indy Pro 2000 season for Augie Pabst as the winning car owner.
“I was all over Christian for the first five laps to try and apply the pressure, but he had the most pace today. Having gotten sixth yesterday, I was going for points today and was ready to accept second when I came out of turn five and he was stopped in the middle of the road,” said McElrea. “He put three blocks on me, so I feel as though he had the win just about in the bag but he gave it to me. He was super fast; I’m sure he’s disappointed. I love racing him, I know we’ll have some good battles this year, but I got lucky with that win and in this game, you have to take them. I probably had the second-place car today but I got lucky. This win puts me right where I need to be.”
HAGERSTOWN, Md. – Overcome by exhilaration and the checkered flag in hand, Tim McCreadie pumped his fists into the shower of confetti and celebratory screams Saturday night at Hagerstown Speedway.
The 47-year-old racer has won his fair share of epic races over the years, but few quite Saturday’s race at Hagerstown, where he used a last-corner pass to win the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Model Series Red Nininger Memorial at the historic half-mile over Ricky Thornton Jr.
Thornton led 49 of 50 laps, but it was McCreadie who led the circuit that mattered. It all developed too rapidly for McCreadie to fully process. But once he stepped off the roof of his No. 39 Longhorn Chassis and soaked in that victory lane setting, he started to grasp what just transpired.
“It happened so fast it was hard to know what I was doing,” said McCreadie, who hoisted that $15,000 winner’s check on the frontstretch of Hagerstown Speedway. “A lot of luck, man. I was going to go where he wasn’t. What hurt [Thornton on the last corner] is what cost him in turn one. The lapped car didn’t go in on the cushion, then he didn’t go in on the cushion, and they both sat in the middle. I kind of crabbed around the infield and got a pretty good bit of traction off [turn two].”
The win is as timely as it gets for McCreadie. Prior to Saturday, he had one win in the opening 18 races of the season. That was a $7,000-to-win DIRTcar show at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 8. Questions about his trajectory didn’t arise, but McCreadie knew he had to make something happen soon.
With the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship chase intensifying in the coming weeks, McCreadie puts his name back into the conversation. On Saturday, he became the ninth winner in 11 series races this year.
He also takes a 10-point series lead in the standings over Hudson O’Neal heading into Port Royal Speedway Sunday night.
“For us to win a big show, a Lucas [Oil Late Model Dirt Series] race, the whole thing, knowing our car was good … we’re excited,” McCreadie said.
McCreadie knew he had an advantage as he lurked behind Thornton in the closing stages Saturday at Hagerstown Speedway.
“The minute he got off [the cushion], my tire was way better,” McCreadie said. “The problem is the cushion was saving a lot of them on softer tires.”
With five laps to go, Thornton showed no sign of cracking, but McCreadie stuck to his observation. Over the next two circuits, McCreadie closed the gap and a finish to remember had brewed.
On the final lap, Thornton had to make a decision: stick to the top or consume the lower part of the track, the place McCreadie made his gains.
Thornton stayed true to the top, where he got pinned behind a lapped car, which parted the seas for McCreadie to generate the run he needed on the bottom. McCreadie had the advantage as the two raced down the backstretch. He sailed it into the last corner and up the banking to finish off Thornton.
“When I went into [turn] three, I saw him for a second, then I didn’t see him,” McCreadie said, describing his thought process when he drove it in hard on the bottom. “I thought, ‘Well, if I [stayed on the bottom] then he’s going to roll right around me.’ So I just carried it up to the cushion, then came off the cushion and hung a left down the straightaway, just in case he was back under me.”
Thornton, meanwhile, hoped to join Tyler Erb and Hudson O’Neal as the only repeat winners of the year. He started second and raced by polesitter Dylan Yoder on the initial start for the lead.
The first 26 laps went green, before a car failure for fourth-running Matt Cosner brought out the only caution. From there, Thornton maintained a second lead and navigated traffic without much trouble.
But when he caught Devin Moran in lapped traffic, everything changed.
“I could never get close enough to slide Devin,” Thornton said. “I wouldn’t say that cost me the win. I got to him, then I couldn’t get by him. I couldn’t get by him. So I started riding behind him. I mean, I was trying to get by. Just wasn’t good enough.”
Once victory lane mellowed, McCreadie tried recalling if he had any victories that produced this kind of finish. A few modified triumphs came to mind, but none that drew any specifics.
“You can’t remember them all,” McCreadie said.
But will he remember Saturday and all the ecstasy that came with it?
“Oh my God,” McCreadie said. “Of course.”
LEEDS, Ala. – Teenager David Malukas bounced back from a disappointing start to his season Saturday by claiming a dominant victory in Sunday’s second leg of the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Cooper Tires.
Malukas led from flag to flag to complete a perfect weekend for HMD Motorsports, with the opening race winner and Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports stablemate Linus Lundqvist, from Sweden, chasing him home in second place.
Malukas became the sixth different winner during the opening weekend of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder. The first two rounds of the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires were shared by Braden Eves and Hunter McElrea, while Yuven Sundaramoorthy and Prescott Campbell each claimed their first Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship victories.
After being taken out of Saturday’s race following a first-corner mistake from Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood, Malukas today lined up one place higher up the grid as a result of claiming his first Cooper Tires Pole Award in qualifying on Friday. Malukas, who finished sixth in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires points table after his rookie campaign in 2019, took full advantage of both his inside front row starting position and his experience by maintaining his lead at the start.
Teammate Lundqvist slotted into second ahead of the top Andretti Autosport qualifier, Robert Megennis. Behind, Australian Alex Peroni, who started eighth for the Carlin team, made a fine early jump by taking a wide line around the undulating Turns One and Two which then translated into the inside line under braking for the slowest corner on the track, turn five. He duly emerged in fourth place ahead of Englishman Toby Sowery and Italian-Canadian DeFrancesco, with Denmark’s Benjamin Pedersen retaining seventh ahead of Andretti teammates Danial Frost and Kirkwood, who had swapped positions in the opening few corners.
A dramatic battle for third which comprised most of the field for the majority of the 35-lap distance finally fell the way of Devlin DeFrancesco, who repeated his result from yesterday with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport.
As the two leaders made their escape, Megennis had his work cut out to maintain third with a snarling pack of Dallara IL-15s filling his mirrors. It soon became clear he was struggling to maintain the necessary pace, and on several occasions he could be seen locking up his left-front tire under braking for turn five. Finally, with just under five laps remaining, the tire let go at the crest of the hill in turn two.
Sowery, unfortunately, already had committed to trying to make a pass around the high line, but with Megennis struggling to regain control as he understeered wide, DeFrancesco was able to sneak through on the inside of both of them to vault from fifth to third.
By then the two leaders were long gone, with Malukas finally taking the checkered flag a comfortable 6.3895 seconds ahead of Lundqvist to secure his long-awaited maiden victory.
“This feels amazing,” said Malukas. “I took it easy in the beginning so as not to make any mistakes and get it all ruined. As the fuel load went down, I could feel the car really coming in and I knew I just had to take it easy. I had a big gap, all I had to do was bring it home. But I felt like Captain America out there, like I could do it all day and just keep pushing more and more! I fell in love with the track, the tires were still there, the car was amazing, I couldn’t do anything but go faster. I only took it easy that last lap.
“This has been a long time coming. By the end of 2019, it felt like a curse, that I just couldn’t get an Indy Lights win. We have the pace this year and could have won yesterday, but I knew I had the pace today. I put yesterday behind me and went for it, and brought it home.”
DeFrancesco, Sowery and Kirkwood, who found a way past Frost with a bold outside-line, late-braking move at turn eight on the 28th lap, immediately improved their lap times by better than a second after Megennis was obliged to make a pit stop for a new tire, but they still finished more than half a minute behind Malukas in third, fourth and fifth.
Peroni should have been in the thick of that battle but for experiencing a momentary loss of power on lap 16 which immediately cost him a couple of positions. He nevertheless salvaged sixth, while another puncture for Frost in the closing stages allowed Pedersen to finish seventh, narrowly ahead of Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), from Payette, Idaho, who had overtaken Los Angeles, Calif.-based Russian Nikita Lastochkin (HMD Motorsports) with five laps remaining.
Greenwood scored late after James Tarkowski had equalised moments after the youngster had put the hosts ahead in the second half.
It was United's first home win against Burnley in the Premier League since February 2015.
"Very happy with three points, we haven't beaten Burnley here since 2015. Good result, five wins on the bounce, that's good form," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
"We've always said this year has to be progress and improvement, we've got as many points as last season and then if we get some more, we've got more than last season and that's progress.
"We want to finish with a trophy in the Europa League, we've got loads of games and loads to focus on."
Burnley had the ball in the back of the net after 18 seconds but it was ruled out with the scorer Chris Wood in an offside position.
Both teams had chances to score before the break with Wood heading just wide before Greenwood was unable to get on the end of a Marcus Rashford cross.
The hosts went ahead three minutes into the second half when Greenwood fired home from Rashford's low cross after a clever Bruno Fernandes dummy.
Burnley responded less than two minutes later when Tarkowski scored an equaliser from Ashley Westwood's corner.
United had a great chance to retake the lead after 70 minutes but Bailey Peacock-Farrell stopped Fernandes' header.
The host did go back in front with six minutes remaining when Greenwood's deflected strike wrong-footed Peacock-Farrell.
United grabbed a third in stoppage time as substitutes Cavani and Donny van de Beek combined which saw the Uruguayan striker score into an empty net.
"Very happy for him," Solskaer told the BBC about Greenwood. "He's mixing up his game. He goes inside and outside, he's maturing all the time.
"It's lovely to see. He's put the work in on the training ground and reaps the rewards."
Leicester, who have never won the FA Cup, had the better of the chances in the first half and might have gone ahead near the half-hour mark when Jamie Vardy got in behind the Saints defence, but his chipped shot sailed just wide of the far post.
Iheanacho put the Foxes in front early in the second half when he collected the rebound from his own shot from Jamie Vardy's cut-back and slotted his second attempt past Fraser Forster to give Brendan Rodger's side the lead.
A limited number of fans are expected to be allowed into Wembley for the final after a crowd of around 4,000, mainly local residents, were attended the semifinal as part of a test event for the return of crowds as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Iheanacho was already the highest-scoring African player in the FA Cup, having overtaken Chelsea's Didier Drogba (12) by scoring in the 3-1 defeat of Manchester United in the quarterfinal.
His 14th in the competition was all about the tenaciousness of Vardy, and a little bit of luck.
Vardy turned well on the left flank and powered forward before cutting a pass back towards Iheanacho who had cleverly found some space in the area.
His first effort, which was going wide, was blocked but the ball came back to him and he side-footed past Forster.
"It's amazing for the club who have waited a long time to get to an FA Cup final," Rodgers said after the match. "We deserved it today, we defended very strong.
"Tight game with so much at stake. You work so hard and it is an opportunity to create history for your club. Concentration was good, defended well when we had to."
After Iheanacho's goal, Leicester looked comfortable with substitute James Maddision failing to hit the target with a couple of good chances.
The closest Southampton came to an equaliser was an Ibrahima Diallo effort narrowly off target but it was a timid display by the south coast side.
"We left everything on the pitch that was possible for us but we had no shots on target," Southampton boss Ralph Hassenhuttl said. "We didn't have a lot of chances in the final third, one or two good moments but it wasn't enough.
"We saw a not very good football game to be honest with both teams a little nervous."