Djokovic beats Zverev, advances to semifinals at ATP Finals

LONDON — Novak Djokovic ensured the world’s top four players reached the semifinals of the ATP Finals for the first time since 2004 by eliminating Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Friday.

The top-ranked Djokovic lined up Dominic Thiem on Saturday as he goes for a record-tying sixth title at the season-ending tournament, and a first since 2015.

No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal will take on No. 4 Daniil Medvedev in the second semifinal. Nadal is trying for the 10th time to win his first ATP Finals crown.

Medvedev warmed up by blowing away Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3 late Friday in the empty O2 Arena, topping their group with three wins in six sets.

Djokovic pulled out his own big serves in the important moments to reach the semifinals for the ninth time, notably in the tiebreaker when he recovered from a 2-0 deficit.

“Contrary to the last match against Daniil,” said Djokovic, referring to a straight-set loss to Medvedev on Wednesday, “I managed to find the right shots at the right time.”

Djokovic broke for 2-0 lead when Zverev double-faulted on the second break point. He saved two break points at 4-2 before clinching the set with a backhand down the line as he closed in on the net following a serve out wide.

Zverev’s groundstrokes and powerful serve posed more problems for Djokovic in the second set, and the German gained an early advantage in the tiebreaker by reaching a drop shot before hitting an unreturnable smash to lead 2-0.

Djokovic then won five of the next six points and, on his first match point, found the baseline with a penetrating forehand which Zverev could slice only into the net on the stretch.

“In the tiebreaker, again I served well when I needed to close out the match,” Djokovic

Read More

Top 10 players on the market ahead of NBA free agency

NBA free agency will formally begin Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. ET, with the signing moratorium lasting until Sunday at 12:01 p.m. ET.

Before it starts, here’s a look at the 10 best players on the market heading into Friday night’s extravaganza.

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers (UFA)

While he’s without question the top talent in this year’s free-agent class, including Davis on this list is more a formality than anything.

Davis opted out of the final year of his deal in order to earn a bigger contract with L.A., and may look to do the same thing again next season as he tries to maximize his earning potential in the prime of his career. His Lakers teammate, LeBron James, did the same earlier in his own career.

So while he is technically a free agent, don’t expect to see him actually in play with any team besides the defending champions.

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans (RFA)

Another formality on this list, Ingram enjoyed a breakout year last season, earning his first all-star selection and winning the Most Improved Player Award as the change in scenery in New Orleans appeared to unlock the immense potential that made him the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft.

The Pelicans will likely offer Ingram a max deal, effectively outbidding any potential suitors for his services as they look to build a title contender around him and Zion Williamson.

Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors (UFA)

Here’s where the smoke begins.

At just 26 years of age, coming off a career year statistically and boasting championship pedigree and leadership, VanVleet is the top free agent among players that could actually be had on the open market.

He’s publicly made no bones about seeking a big payday, but he’s seen his market shrink this week with

Read More

BTS marks year of the pandemic with ‘BE’ album, and single ‘Life Goes On’

Members of K-pop boy band BTS pose for photographs during a news conference promoting their new album “BE(Deluxe Edition)” in Seoul, South Korea, November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Heo Ran

SEOUL — South Korean megaband BTS released their latest album “BE” on Friday and will perform the new single “Life Goes On” remotely for the 2020 American Music Awards on Sunday, the group’s music label said.

The seven-member boy band is at the forefront of South Korean pop music and has helped build a global fan base for K-pop since their debut in 2013.

This year, BTS notched their first ever Number One hit single on the Billboard charts in the United States with “Dynamite,” which is also among the eight tracks on the new album.

Group leader and rapper RM said the group’s next goal is to be nominated for a Grammy award. Nominations will be announced on Nov. 24.

“We are nervous, but looking forward to the nomination,” RM told a news conference.

Jin, one of the lead singers, said the album ‘BE’ reflected a year that has been both tragic and fortunate for the band, describing the success of ‘Dynamite” in the United States as “beyond our expectations.”

SUGA, another rapper in the band, was unable to attend the press conference as he recently had shoulder surgery.

Management company Big Hit Entertainment said it was uncertain whether the BTS performance of “Life Goes On” for the American Music Awards would be live or pre-recorded.

BTS will perform live in South Korea on Dec. 31, their first concert since canceling a world tour in April due to the pandemic.

The eldest at 27 years, Jin is required to sign up for mandatory military service by the end of next year, and he said all the band’s members intended to serve.

Read More